Sunday, September 27, 2009

Kleenex Winner and Other Opportunities

Congrats to ...

Number 44 per, which was:

Jennifer - Eighty MPH Mom!

I'm sending an email now. She has until Tuesday night to get ahold of me, or I'll select another winner.


This one isn't directly from me, BUT you can win a brand new Frigidaire (oooo, I want it, I want it!) Double Wall Oven (back, back, this is MINE!). Jennifer Garner has partnered with Frigidaire to create a really important campaign called "Make Time For Change" that supports Save the Children's US Programs.

For everyone who goes to Frigidaire's website and raises their hand with a pledge to make time for a child, Frigidaire will donate $1 to support the CHANGE program and Save the Children's work to help children in need in the U.S.

And in addition to that fuzzy feeling you get from doing something good, everyone who pledges their time will be entered for a chance to win a new Frigidaire Professional double wall oven! Those in the market for top-notch new appliances should also know that, for every new Frigidaire Professional double wall oven sold, Frigidaire will donate $100 to Save the Children's U.S Programs as part of their $250,000 commitment to this worthy cause.

What are you waiting for? Let's go make a difference today!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Giveaway: NEW Connect 4X4

Do you know what tonight is? I'll give you a clue:

Ok, so that wasn't so much a clue as completely giving it away, huh? Yep, tonight September 23 is first official National Family Game Night. It's put in on conjunction with the turnoff week, and it fits right in. Go grab someone and play some games tonight. It's one of those things that we don't do as a family nearly often enough, but we love it when we do.

I was lucky enough to be sent some games for my family to play last week, and oh boy have we been taking advantage of this!

I have an "adult night" set up with some friends this weekend to test out The Game of Things, and I can't wait. Basically, you get prompts and have to write down your response. All the responses are then read aloud, and you have to figure out who said what.

For example, "What would you do with chocolate?" While I could go with the easy "eat it" answer or the staid "bake with it" response, I think if I were playing I'd have to write down "swim in it." Now, this isn't as weird as it sounds -- working in Chicago, there is a chocolate factory west of the loop that you can smell on humid summer days. It always smelled so good and was so thick in the air, it felt like you were swiming in it. That's always stuck with me. And really -- who would guess that would be my response?

My personal favorite game so far is Bop It. I haven't shared this with anyone else yet. The game shouts out commands (twist it, pull it, bop it), and you have to do what it says, a new twist on Simon. It's a great stress reliever when I'm frustrated with work, and I'm happy to say that I've passed the novice level with flying colors.

Mister Man's absolute favorite is the new Connect 4X4 game. When we were in Florida in August, the hotel had this game to loan. And we borrowed it more days than not. The little sucker is pretty good and almost beat me the first day! This Connect Four is a little more complex, as you can play with up to four people, and it has two layers you can use to make your row of four. Plus, you can use special blockers to prevent other people from playing in spots. It definitely takes some more strategy, but while the game says it's for ages 8 and up, Mister Man is having the time of his life with this!

We have also tried out the Guesstures game, which is essentially a fancied up charades game -- and may I just say that my husband is horrible at this one? His math brain really shows up when he tries to figure out how to express something. It's a fun party game though, and we may pull this out, too, when we have our friends over this weekend.

And finally, we were sent four new card games from Hasbro. Mister Man is also into go fish, and I was getting a little tired of just the one game, but we now have a few new tricks up our sleeve. There's Monopoly Deal, which is a little above him; Crazy Old Fish War, which has added some fun variety into our old favorite; Scrabble Slam, which he's starting to learn but is a little challenging; and the Littlest Pet Shop Go Fish!, which Little Miss thinks is the coolest thing ever. She's taken this one over as her own personal game and made my parents play it over and over and over.

Those aren't your only options for game night though. Pick up any of your favorite games from Monopoly to Cranium to Sorry! to Clue to Candyland. This is something that we need to do on a more regular basis, and we're looking at setting up a regular game night at our house.

I also got some tips to make family game night more fun, and I'm going to use some of my favorites!

Fun food “pairings”: A special family game night menu will make everyone look forward to the festivities. Serve fun finger foods that are easy to eat during game play, such as hamburger sliders or chicken fingers. A make-your-own sundae bar is a sweet treat for dessert before or during game night. Or, use a family recipe to make your family game night unique.

Create a tradition: Whether it’s the way that teams are selected, a 30-minute bedtime extension, or having everyone play in their p.j.’s, establishing an activity on family game night that becomes a family tradition will create even more excitement around game play for everyone in the family.

Keep a family scoreboard: From week to week, recognize the family member who won the last family game night by posting their name on a special scoreboard that receives a place of honor on the refrigerator. Or, create a family crown that can be worn by the winner at dinner or during the next family game night.

Mix it up with “special guests”: To expand the fun, invite other families in your neighborhood to participate in a family game night tournament. If you have extended family members living in the area or if you are traveling during a scheduled family game night, invite everyone to participate!

Choose your favorite, and go play tonight. Hasbro has updated several of their games this year to make them even more fun and challenging than they were when we were growing up from Monopoly to Clue in addition to introducing new games like Pictureka!

In this economy, I'll take any cheap entertainment I can get, and game night definitely fits the bill. Do you want to play, too? You can win your very own Connect 4X4 here.

To enter, complete the mandatory entry below. Bonus entries are available but will be disqualified if you do not do the mandatory entry. This contest will run through Sunday October 3 at 9pm CDT. The winner will be selected by and will have 48 hours to respond after being contacted, or a new winner will be selected. US addresses only, please. If you don't have your email address accessible via your profile, please be sure to leave it in your comment or you're out of luck.

Mandatory Entry: Let me know what your favorite games were growing up, or what you love playing with your families today.

Bonus Entries (If you do not complete the mandatory entry, these will not count!):

1. Visit Hasbro's website and let me know a game there that you haven't played before but that looks fun.

2. Follow this blog, and leave a comment letting me know (if you already follow, let me know that, too).

3. Follow Honest & Truly! my "regular" blog, and leave a comment letting me know (if you already follow, let me know that, too).

4. Tweet about this contest, and post the link of the Tweet below (one additional entry).

Good luck -- and go have some fun tonight!

Note: While I received the games listed above for my family, I received no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed are my opinions alone.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Giveaway: $50 Visa Gift Card And Kleenex Anti-Viral Tissues

I heard a really interesting presentation earlier this week by our school district's nursing supervisor. And by really interesting, I mean freak me out oh no this is going to be bad yikes I almost wish I didn't know this.

We talked swine flu.

In some ways, I feel better. Like the part about how ninety-nine percent of people who catch swine flu are going to be just fine. It's that other one percent that I'm worried about, especially since it's comprised primarily (but not all) of those with chronic illnesses -- like Little Miss -- and others with compromised immune systems.

Then there was the discussion about how there is no immunity towards it. About how we have no defenses other than prevention for this particular strain. How there is a vaccine that is going to be coming out in mid-October (although given what I've read I'm not 100% comfortable with it, but that's a whole 'nother post) but that supplies will be limited and not everyone who wants it will be able to get it.

Oh, and that little part about how ninety-eight percent of flu cases this summer in Illinois were swine flu. Yes, you read that correctly, ninety-eight percent. They aren't even testing people to see what strain it is anymore. They don't want people coming to the doctor, just calling with symptoms.

I'm generally not a fear-monger, but this is scary stuff, and I can only hope that it's being blown out of proportion.

And did I mention that they're expecting thirty to fifty percent of people to catch the swine flu this year? I don't want to be one of those people. We're washing our hands. We're eating healthy foods. We're coughing and sneezing into our elbows.

And now I have another weapon, thanks to Kleenex. Kleenex sent me their new anti-viral tissues to try out. They kill 99.9% of cold and flu viruses, including the common cold, influenza A and B, and RSV. Granted, this isn't tested against H1N1, but it still makes me feel a whole lot better.

Inside the Kleenex are these little blue dots. When the blue dots get wet, they're activated and it's that layer that kills all those viruses that hit the tissue within fifteen minutes.

Considering how often we've been laid low with colds, colds that turned into pneumonia and bronchitis, and RSV with Little Miss (the rest of us just catch the common cold), I'm excited to have something else in my arsenal to avoid a four day hospital stay for Little Miss. Granted, the hospital we go to has a great cafeteria, but that's not enough motivation for me to want her to get sick.

Anyway, I tried out the Kleenex tissues they sent me, and I gotta say... I like them. I'm a tissue snob just like I am a toilet paper snob. I do not buy generic. When I get sick, I go through a box or two a day, and I need my Kleenex soft and gentle. I'm already crabby enough being sick; I don't need a chapped, painful nose to add to it.

These Kleenex actually feel softer and thicker than the other Kleenex I have at home. Knock on wood, I haven't been sick in the week plus that they sent these to me, but I have had some allergy issues, and my nose is happy.

I was a little bit worried that they were going to have a scent to them, as I can't use some of the tissues with menthol, etc because the smell makes me sneeze, which defeats the whole purpose of blowing my nose to begin with. These tissues have no scent whatsoever, even with the little blue dots.

I'm happy. And I'm about to go stock up.

You can stock up with me and hopefully make sick days a thing of the past! One lucky reader will be sent two boxes of Kleenex Anti-Viral Tissues as well as a $50 Visa gift card.

This contest will run until Sunday September 27 at 9pm CDT. To enter, you must first complete the mandatory entry or no other entries will count. If you don't provide me with a valid email address or way to get ahold of you, you can't win. The winner will be selected via and will have 48 hours to contact me or another winner will be drawn. US addresses only -- sorry!

Mandatory Entry: Let me know how you plan on Battling the Bug this season, and don’t forget to check out!

Bonus Entries (If you do not complete the mandatory entry, these will not count!):
1. Visit Battle The Bug and tell me something you learned that I haven't mentioned yet.
2. Follow this blog, and leave a comment letting me know (if you already follow, let me know that, too).
3. Follow Honest & Truly! my "regular" blog, and leave a comment letting me know (if you already follow, let me know that, too).
4. Tweet about this contest, and post the link of the Tweet below (one additional entry).

Good luck -- and don't forget to cover that cough with your elbow!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Giveaway: Green Gift Bag

Congrats to Cheryl F. at the Lucky Ladybug! If I don't hear from her by 9/25, I'll draw a new winner.

This past week, my family has been trying to go green in an area where we don't usually do so well. And I'm guessing we aren't the only ones. Paper products are our problem.

I haven't been able to convince myself to buy cloth napkins to use on a daily basis, and considering the laundry pile I have now and the cost of them, I don't see it happening anytime soon. Instead, my husband tears off a paper towel for each family member for every meal. That's a lot of paper towels. Thankfully, we now use the "you choose your own size" kind of paper towels, but it still makes me uncomfortable.

While I do at least use our dish towels for most spills and other items, my husband doesn't. And we use a lot of them for cleaning things like windows (ha ha ha -- oh I made myself laugh there) or cleaning off the deck table before we eat. I'm realizing that I'm actually not a big user of paper towels, so I'm placing the blame fully on the rest of my family.

And of course toilet paper, but I've yet to find a way to replace toilet paper, and I'm not looking.

I feel a little bit better now. SCOTT Naturals™ sent me a sample of some of their new products to test out -- napkins, paper towels, and toilet paper. They're all made from recycled content, which makes me feel much better. That includes not just the product itself but also the packaging (20% recycled plastic).

I made my family use the napkins, and they thankfully work fairly well. I can verify this after having cleaned up two milk spills in the same meal using only the napkins on the table. They held up pretty well, and that's really all I can ask of a napkin. Plus, I feel better.

And did I mention it has a smart opening? All you do is open the perforated edge and you can take out as many napkins as you need without having the rest of them then get all messy in your cabinet. This is a huge improvement for me, and it's actually one of the reasons I don't use napkins more often, having replaced them with the neater to maintain paper towels. I can't stand the mess they make in my cabinets.

I was pretty leery of the toilet paper though. I have to confess that I am a toilet paper snob. I buy only the triple ply quilted extra thick stuff. I'm pretty sure part of the reason I have the bladder of a camel and refuse to go to the bathroom in public is that I know they'll have icky toilet paper.

While the SCOTT Naturals™ toilet paper (which they call Tissue btw) isn't quite in the same league as my ummm spoiled bottom toilet paper, it's so much better than I expected. It was actually shockingly soft. I'd compare it to a normal two ply toilet paper roll. Personally, I probably wouldn't buy it, but that is my own personal issue. If I were a normal person, the toilet paper would be great -- in other words, no one else in my family noticed a difference. You can look at the roll and see that it's pretty hefty (and has pretty quilted designs).

And the SCOTT Naturals™ paper towels? They're a touch rougher than my usual paper towels, but I was happy to see that their commitment to the environment continued with the choose your size option I've grown to love with my "other" brand. It didn't break apart at all when I or my husband used them, and they cleaned up his coffee mess (or so he told me) quite nicely. This is a product I'd switch to over my current brand.

The other benefit? I was able to clip some Box Tops for Education from these guys! I didn't even realize they participated in this program, but with Mister Man's kindergarten collecting them, I clip them whenever I see them. Yay, SCOTT Naturals™ !

Scott Naturals has also teamed up with Kathi Lee to produce several vignettes illustrating easy ways to green your own home. Check out the videos here for some ideas.

To celebrate the nationwide availability of these products, SCOTT Naturals™ is offering one lucky reader a Green Gift Bag – a reusable tote filled with SCOTT Naturals™ product coupons, a reusable water bottle, green light bulbs, and cleaning products from Clorox Green Works.

This contest will be open until Wednesday September 23 at 9pm CDT. The winner will be drawn via and will have 48 hours to contact me or another winner will be selected. Leave me your email address or another method to contact you, or you'll be out of luck. US entries only, sorry! Read the entry instructions below, as ineligible entries will be deleted.

Mandatory Entry: To enter, leave a comment below letting me know one step you’re taking to go green at home.

Bonus Entries If you do not complete the mandatory entry, these will not count:
1) Follow this review blog. If you already follow, let me know (one additional entry - leave an extra comment).
2) Follow my "real" blog over at Honest & Truly! Again, if you already follow, let me know (one additional entry - leave an extra comment)
3) Go check out the SCOTT Naturals™ site and tell me something you learned from it that I didn't mention above (one additional entry).
4) Tweet about it and post the link back here (one additional entry).

Good luck!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Review: Disney On Ice 100 Years Of Magic

Wow. That's really a good summary of it, but I suppose I ought to say more. The other night, Feld Entertainment kindly invited me to go see Disney on Ice at the United Center with my family.

I haven't taken the wee ones to too many "events" because they tend to be ummm not really something I'm that interested in (so I make my parents take them if my parents insist on going) or because it's too expensive to justify. Disney on Ice takes away both those excuses.

First, they are still at the United Center until Sunday September 13, and you can get tickets for $44 for a four pack (with $11 additional tickets). Good seats are still available, as my friend who is now going on Sunday in row 16 can attest. She bought her tickets yesterday after Mister Man didn't stop raving about it the entire twenty-five minute drive to school. Just visit Ticketmaster and use code MOM.

While I was treated to this (thank you again, Feld Entertainment!), if I weren't going to a football game on Saturday and a birthday party on Sunday -- yes, at Pump It Up, shockingly -- I'd take the wee ones again.

It. Rocked.

The skaters told many of the traditional Disney stories from Pinocchio to Beauty and the Beast to The Incredible to The Lion King and more. Partway through the first story, I was pretty impressed at who they hired to do the voices because it sounded a whole lot like Robin Williams as the Genie in Aladdin. Well, I finally figured it out partway into the song that DUH! that's because they took sound clips from the movies to do the majority of the scenes. It was the little touches like that which really made the evening special.

I missed most of the scene changes because I was so captivated by the stories and the singing. There was a castle backdrop that looked like the traditional Cinderella castle. Until it transformed into the Chinese castle from Mulan. Until it changed into something more appropriate for Toy Story. Until it was more like The Lion King. How they did all that I don't know ... especially because I never saw it happening.

The wee ones loved it. Little Miss is a little ball of energy who never sits still. She stayed in her seat. Generally without moving, except to periodically wave at the characters who really interacted with the audience. Or to clap. Or sometimes to tell me excitedly that she'd just seen another character she recognized. That just doesn't happen.

The show is broken into two acts, with an intermission so
more goodies can be sold
everyone who needs to go to the bathroom can do so. I took that opportunity to take Little Miss to the bathroom to put on her pjs -- see smart mama!

As we were walking up the steps, she thought the show was over. She looked at me with her eyes shining and face bright with excitement. I loved it, Mommy. I just loved it! That was her summary.

If you're not in Chicago, you aren't out of luck. This is continuing to tour until just after the new year. See cities and dates below. I believe the code MOM will work for all these shows, but don't quote me if I'm wrong on that. It's always worth a try, right?

Sunrise: September 17-20, 2009
Dayton/Cincinnati: September 17-27, 2009
Miami: September 23-27, 2009
Auburn Hills: September 30 – October 4, 2009
Charlotte: October 8-11, 2009
Philadelphia: October 14-18, 2009
Atlanta: October 14-18, 2009
Oakland/San Jose: October 14-25, 2009
Fairfax: October 21-25, 2009
Sacramento: October 28 – November 1, 2009
Baltimore: October 28 – November 1, 2009
Uniondale: November 10-15, 2009
Houston: November 11-15, 2009
NYC: November 17-22, 2009
East Rutherford: November 24-29, 2009
Denver/Broomfield: December 3-13, 2009
St. Paul: December 9-13, 2009
Los Angeles: December 17-20, 2009
Toronto: December 18-27, 2009
Anaheim: December 22-27, 2009
Philadelphia: December 23 – January 3, 2010
Boston: December 26-29, 2009
Ontario: December 30 – January 3, 2010
Cleveland: January 8 -18, 2009

So go. Really. Go.

The only thing I was disappointed by was my camera. I realized I don't have a sport setting (I took no flash pictures!), so my pictures aren't great. I'll upload them tomorrow to leave you with a sense of what you'll see -- or at least a blurred image of our experience. Someday I'll get a "good" camera.

Even better, I've heard rumors that there will be additional shows from Feld Entertainment coming up over the next several months that may (may) include ticket giveaways and more discount codes, though I can't promise they'll be quite this cheap! Keep a lookout for those.

And yes, I still have Disney songs going through my head. And it's forty-eight hours later. And the wee ones are still talking about it. I may have spoiled them forever. But it was all worth it.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Review: L'Oreal Color Of Hope

This is a compensated review from BlogHer and L’Oréal Paris.

L’Oréal just launched their annual limited line of makeup called Color of Hope to raise money for ovarian cancer. This is something they’ve done every year for the past twelve years to raise money for ovarian cancer research. And – lucky me! – they sent me the Color of Hope Cosmetics bag to try out.

The L’Oréal Paris Color of Hope Cosmetic bag – the one I’ve been playing with – will be available for purchase beginning in September 2009 for only $29.95. Purchases can be made online via while supplies last. L’Oréal Paris will donate $5 from each cosmetic bag purchased to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF).

The Color of Hope line offers individual products for eyes, lips, and nails in two shades: mauve (everyone looks good in mauve) and teal (the symbolic color of ovarian cancer). You can buy these at Walgreens, CVS, and the like. For every product purchased, L’Oréal is donating $1 to OCRF. Visit the L’Oréal Color of Hope site for more information.

Ovarian cancer research is near and dear to my heart. When I was in college, one of my best friends from high school had an ovarian cancer scare. After months of invasive tests, she was luckily determined to not have ovarian cancer.

One of my suitemates from that same year in college wasn’t so lucky. Shortly after her son was born almost seven years ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She fought it off and went into remission, only to have it come back again. And again.

We had our ten year college reunion two years ago, and the cancer returned the following spring. I saw her when she was happy and healthy and so proud of her son. She was a single mom, and she was gorgeous and proud, and she sparkled.

I heard from her the next spring that her cancer was back, but she was fighting it off again. She was convinced she would. Last fall, she wasn’t feeling so well, but she continued to fight. This spring, she was informed that her cancer had spread to her ovaries. That was the last straw for her ravaged body. She passed away a little more than a month ago, leaving behind a little boy who just wants his mommy back and a mother who is now raising her grandson. And a legion of friends who don’t understand how she could possibly be gone. Who are still struggling to understand how she could beat back the breast cancer but succumbed so quickly to ovarian cancer.

Thank you, L’Oréal for supporting the research that will maybe one day allow a woman like Wendy to raise her child herself. One day.

Before I start crying again myself, let me get to the review. To be honest, knowing that L’Oréal is donating money to ovarian cancer research, I’d probably buy a cosmetics bag in support regardless of the quality of the product.

The good news is that the money you’ll spend on this kit is well worth the price. I love eye shadow quads. They color coordinate so I don’t have to, and they allow me to play for day or night. There were two versions in the bag, neither one of which I would ever have chosen for myself.

Day one I tried the teal set. Wow, it looked good. This is apparently why I don’t go makeup shopping by myself. It promised a long lasting smooth shadow that wouldn’t crease. I scoffed at the idea that it wouldn’t crease. By early afternoon at the latest, I have to duck into a bathroom daily to wipe that line of shadow away. I didn’t with this makeup. In fact, when I went to take off my makeup before bed, I could find only the smallest collection of shadow in my crease. Whoo hoo! The eye makeup lasted through the day. Already, I’m happy.

So what do you think? This was me before I headed out for the day.

The second day, I tried out the mauve set. Again, I would never choose these colors for myself, but they actually looked pretty good. It was different from what I normally wear (ummm, brown and taupe and more beige), and it really picked up the color of my eyes. I like to think it made me look younger, too. Since it was a Friday, that night I touched it up with the darker colors to go a bit more dramatic. It was dramatic and definitely more than what I normally do, but it was really fun! And again, no crease issues.

There were also lip products provided. The lip gloss is one of the long lasting lip glosses. I was skeptical. I tried them when they came out, and my lips were dry and cracked within a day. And the lip gloss flaked off with those products, so I was a bit leery of any long lasting claims.

When I lifted out the wand, it smelled good. When I applied it, it really smelled good. I love lip products that smell good enough to eat! And the six hour promise? It didn’t make it quite six hours, but it was pretty close. I applied it before breakfast, and it didn’t come off as I ate my cereal and drank my smoothie. It didn’t even leave a mark on the straw I was using. After lunch, I could still feel a little of it, but it was mostly gone then, and I reapplied.

The lipstick also smells really good. When I first started applying it, I didn’t think the color was vibrant enough to show up on my lips, and I was a little disappointed. Then I looked in the mirror again, and it showed up. It’s a great color that’s warm and inviting without being too bold. It didn’t last as long as the lip gloss did, and I prefer the lip gloss to the lipstick, but trust me, I’ll use up that tube!

Jealous? You don’t have to be. You can buy your very own Color of Hope cosmetics bag here.

I’m not the only one who’s had a chance to check out the L’Oréal Color of Hope products. Other BlogHer reviewers are also taking it for a test drive. Check out what they have to say here (embedded link) Check out BlogHer's special offer page for more information.

PS If you’ve been touched by ovarian cancer, you aren’t alone. L’Oréal has also partnered with CancerCare to launch the L’Oréal Paris OCRF Hope Line to provide callers with counseling, support, and financial guidance. This free service is available to anyone affected by cancer. Please call 1-877-OV-HOPE-1 for support.