Monday, November 29, 2010

you lucky dog movie review

we are always on the lookout for good family movies that can appeal to our family's broad audience (mom, dad, kids age 8 to 8 months).  i thought the hallmark channel might have some good options for us.  since everyone around here is dog-crazy, i chose you lucky dog ($12.49 on amazon).

natasha henstridge plays a working woman, lisa,  who returns to her small hometown after her mother's death only to learn that her family's ranch is struggling to survive financially.

she decides to stick around to try to make things better at home and enlists the help of a shelter dog named "lucky."  as lisa and her brother work to bring life back to the ranch and the town, they discover that lucky's determination can inspire the whole town and bring both their family and their community closer together.

the kids really enjoyed this movie.  bill and i found a few plot flaws that gave us the giggles but overall, we enjoyed the movie as well.  i wish the language had been cleaner for the sake of the kids.  a few "words" flew here and there; thankfully they seemed to go over the heads of the kids, but i wish they had been omitted altogether.  i thought the plot seemed a little more focused on adults than kids, but my kids didn't seem to notice.  i'm pretty sure they'll be asking to watch this again in the near future.

i received a copy of this movie from bender/helper impact for the purpose of this review.  regardless, all thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.  if you use the link above to purchase this movie, i might receive a small benefit in return.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

holiday gift guide: you can't go wrong with photo gifts

if there is one present we know will bring tears to the eyes of grandparents at gift-giving time, it is when we present any gift with photos of the family in it, on it or around it.

shutterfly has some choices that really have me drooling for the holidays.  how about this photo that is printed right onto a canvas?  no worries about picking out the right frame or mat (or the added expense).  now your loved one can have the photo ready to hang as the perfect decoration:

if you want something a little less permanent, there is always the classic photo calendar. i have never done this for the grandparents, but i love the idea of picking out photos from each season of the year to include. each month brings a new surprise and a new fond memory of the year before:

for myself, i really want one of these photo books. i don't scrapbook and we only have so many places to put up photos in our home, so most of my kids' pictures live on our computer. i would love one of these to keep on our coffee table. i can picture many hours of flipping through one of these, either alone or with the kids, reliving our favorite memories and laughing at the silly things the kids did. shutterfly has a "simple path where you choose the pictures and they put together the book for you, or a "custom path" where you do more of the design work yourself.



of course, since i have christmas cards on the brain, i couldn't resist a look at the selections of photo cards that shutterfly has to offer. i love this one because the photo dominates the card:


so many decisions to make, so little time! i can tell that i will be spending some more time on shutterfly's site trying to narrow down my choices to make a good decision for gifts and cards!

in return for writing this post, shutterfly has offered me 50 free holiday photo cards. regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

tiny prints review

there is no question:  when all those holiday cards start arriving in the mail, i definitely get "christmas card envy."

no matter how carefully i've chosen our cards, i feel like every other person has more creative or more beautiful cards than we do.  this year i'm hoping to avoid christmas-card-envy by picking out some cards from tiny prints.

i have just spent the last half an hour poring over the tiny prints website (that's a half hour i should have been packing for our trip!).  on every page, i found so many choices of cards that i have been finding it difficult to narrow my list.

here is one of my favorites:

just looking at it makes me feel so happy. plus i like the idea of not having to get a picture with all four of my kids being normal and smiling. tate especially has a habit of doing the exact opposite of what you want him to do in a group photo situation. this way i can choose great candids of each of the kids and still get everyone in one card. besides, look at the back:


how cool is that? i love the idea of putting our christmas "letter" together with the card. this one is high up on my list.

of course, then there is this cool idea:

this one is ready to go on someone's tree as a great decoration and a great visible reminder that your family needs some christmas love (i'm just kidding about that last part). i never know what to do with the cards we get in the mail. i don't have a great display system developed yet. so if everyone could just send me their card like this, i could put them all over our tree. could you all help me out that way?

i might just have to go with this classic, however, because this truly reflects how we feel as we approach this holiday season:

we definitely want everyone to know how blessed we feel and how much we hope everyone else may be blessed as well.

today is the last day to get 20% off all the tiny prints christmas cards. now is a great time to get your cards ordered to be ready for the mass mailing (note to self). choose from so many beautiful cards and save yourself some christmas card envy!

Monday, November 22, 2010

winners!

i have been dreadfully neglectful about following through on my giveaways.  i apologize.  things have been busy (still, no excuse) and i'm starting to realize that this is the way things will always be with four kids so i'm just learning to find other times to do these kinds of things.  all that to say, i hope to do better for you, my faithful readers.

the winner of the strawberry shortcake: glimmerberry ball movie is...

...amy from occupation: mommy. i'm pretty sure out of her three girls she will be able to find someone who likes this movie!

the winner of the strawberry shortcake: berrywood here we come video is...

...holly from embracing the chaos.  with four girls at home, she will probably appreciate the opportunity for another video "babysitter"!

i also had a giveaway from lena toews.  i didn't have as many entries as i had hoped (i'm sorry, lena) but i hope you will check out her site.  she has some new winter premades up and she is having a really, really big giveaway right now.  she also has new christmas photo cards available so check her out!  the winner of either a pre-made blogger layout or photo card selection is...
...erika!  now you'll have to make a choice between your two favorite christmas cards!

if you didn't win (and you like to win), i have 2 giveaways coming up (one of which is a holiday survival guide) so check back and try again!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

funundrum drums up the fun! (review)

to be honest, in general, i don't like the circus.  there is something that just doesn't sit right with me.

but for the second year in a row, ringling brothers and barnum and bailey is making me change my mind. 

we attended the funundrum circus show last night as a family.  over and over again, i caught bill's eye as we both oohed and aahed over the act we had just witnessed.  "high quality" are the right words to describe the performance.  just when you think something can't be topped, the next act appears to wow you all over again.

i'm not sure i'll ever be able to forget the contortionist ladies as they bent their bodies into truly unimaginable positions.  surely they've had their backbones removed!  i'm so glad our seats were across from the main stage so we could have a great view of their performance.

surprisingly, our favorite performance may have been the motorcycles inside the steel ball.  again, we saw a well choreographed, high quality performance.

as for the kids?  i'm sure we will be talking about their favorite acts and sights for a long, long time.  tate really enjoyed the dog riding in the basket hanging from the elephant's mouth.  zoe enjoyed any act that included animals.  as usual, tessa just can't decide which was her favorite.

if you are in chicago, you still have a short time to witness these sights for yourself.  enter the code "mom" at checkout for a discount on your tickets!


i received free tickets for my family to see the show.  regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

What's Up Down There? and other embarrassing questions answered (review)

article first published as for all those who've ever wondered, what's up down there? on blogcritics


it is no secret that i hate going to the doctor.

even more, i hate asking the doctor embarrassing questions about bodily problems i may or may not have.

this is why i generally rely on my girlfriends to answer my deepest, darkest, secret questions.

imagine if one of your girlfriends was also a gynecologist. what kinds of questions would you suddenly feel free to ask?

lissa rankin is a gynecologist who also gets together with her girlfriends and has those types of discussions. in her new book, what’s up down there?, Lissa collects all the questions girlfriends like to ask each other and answers them from the perspective of a gynecologist who is also one of your best friends.

Since, unfortunately, i cannot always rely on my girlfriends to give me accurate information, i have a deep appreciation for this book. it is written in an engaging manner that satisfies a desire for information, along with a desire for a good read.

i highly recommend what's up down there? to any woman who has questions about her body, but has always been too embarrassed to ask. lissa will be happy to take you under her wing. not only will you learn something, you will also end up feeling more positive about your body than you ever have before.

this book would also make a great christmas gift for any woman who is pregnant, might become pregnant, is worried about menopause, going through menopause, is getting married or is already married...well, you get the idea.


i received a free copy of this book for the purpose of this review.  regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.


Read more: http://blogcritics.org/books/article/book-review-whats-up-down-there1/#ixzz15gy0G7K2

Thursday, November 11, 2010

holiday gift guide: disney mickey mote

have you ever tried to talk to your kids while they are watching a dvd or tv? even on the shows that ask questions and invite interaction, my kids are so zoned out they don't move or barely blink. i have tried to ask them questions about the show while they are watching it, and they don't even hear me.

all this makes me wonder how much they are actually learning from these "learning" shows. if their brains shut down to such a degree that they can't even hear me speak to them, how much are they really taking in about the alphabet or science or math?

i think the disney mickey mote can only help with this problem...


what is a mickey mote, you ask?  the mickey mote is a a mickey mouse-shaped remote control that can be programmed to work with your dvd player.  your kids can interact with the disney movies they are watching, answering questions related to what they watched in the movie.

starting november 16, the mickey mote is included with the purchase of mickey mouse clubhouuse: numbers roundup dvd or the handy manny: big construction job dvd. the mickey mote is also backwards compatible with a variety of other handy manny and mickey mouse clubhouse titles.

we have watched two episodes so far using the mickey mote, and i believe that not only is it fun for them to use, but using the mickey mote will help train them to pay attention to what they are watching and hearing. i think this will help train them to observe and question what the show is saying and to be more critical watchers.

i asked zoe what she thought of the mickey mote and she said she likes how it lets you interact with the movie in a way that you can't with other movies (maybe i shouldn't have asked an 8-year-old about it. i think she may have been reading some of the marketing materials!)

if my kids are going to watch tv from time to time (and they are), i am glad to have a tool to force more critical thinking and interaction in a way that regular tv and movies cannot.

for a more unscripted review, here is what tessa and tate had to say about it...


if you are looking for a great holiday gift for 2-5 year olds (and their parents!), consider buying one of the dvds with the mickey mote. i think it will be a great hit!

i received a free copy of mickey mouse clubhouse: numbers roundup and handy manny: big construction job as well as a mickey mote for the purpose of this review. regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

come play at the chicago toy and game fair (w/giveaway)

my kids have been pretty thankful for my little blogging "hobby." tickets to the circus, some toys here and there, a movie or two and they are happy to encourage me to keep blogging! in two weeks, however, i am going to be elevated to a whole new level in their eyes. i have received passes for our family to attend the chicago toy and game fair and navy pier.

on november 20-21, they will have an opportunity to sample the hottest new toys and games while enjoying live entertainment. bill and i will be able to attend seminars for parents and educators and even get some holiday shopping done. what could be better that toys 'r' us, fao schwartz or kb toys? the chicago toy and game fair, of course. the kids can hardly wait. i'm sure santa will have lots to add to his list after we see all the new toys that are available this year.

if you will be in the chicago area and would like a free pass to the fair, just leave a comment here. i will pick a winner using random.org tomorrow! (i'll have two more passes to giveaway in the next two weeks so come back and try again if you don't win!)

i received free passes for my family to attend the toy and game fair. regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

holiday gift guide: norah jones...featuring

every year i worry about what to get bill for christmas. since we get so much from our parents, we always say we aren't going to get each other anything. but that doesn't feel right... how do i find that gift that says, "i love you," but that won't sit in his closet collecting dust for the next 100 years?

this year, i am happy to say i have the absolutely perfect gift. if there is one singer we both love, it is norah jones. her music is great for relaxation, great for when you have to do some work you don't like, and (bill's favorite) great for "getting in the mood."

target="_blank"norah jones has a new project out with songs recorded from 2001 to 2010. These songs are the cameos, duets and collaborations that she made with groups like outkast and foo fighters and singers like willie nelson and ray charles. i'm not sure there is any better way to showcase the broad spectrum of musical styles that norah jones has truly mastered than with an album like this.

whether you have a die-hard norah-fan on your christmas list or someone who's been living under a rock and never heard her, this is a great gift that is sure to please this year.  you can preorder it now on amazon or wait until it is released on november 16.

i received a free copy of this album for the purpose of this review (but don't tell bill--he's getting it for christmas) from the one2one network. regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

if i ran away to the circus...

ever since we went to the circus last year, we've been reading and re-reading the program so we can relive all our favorite acts and performances. this has led to some discussion about what we would do if we had the opportunity to join the circus.

it should be no surprise to anyone that zoe would be involved with the dogs and their tricks. she loves anything to do with dogs and loves to imagine the different tricks she would do with them in the circus.

tessa, of course, can't really decide what part of the show she would like. i am pretty sure that it would have something to do with dressing up in a really fancy costume and walking around like a beauty queen.

there is no question that tate would tame tigers. he loves to talk about the "tiger man" and all the different tricks he got the tigers to do. (since he was hiding his face for much of the show, i'm surprised he even knew what happened!)

what about me? i would love to be one of the beautiful elephant ladies waving my arm gracefully while clasping the elephant's headpiece. unfortunately, i'm so clumsy and ungraceful, i think it would be better for me to be a clown. maybe if i learn how to fall intentionally, i won't fall as often unintentionally!

what would you like to do in the circus? if you need some ideas, you might want to check out the circus in town right now! buy tickets here for 4 tickets for $44 for weekday shows and $4 off weekend shows. the show is at the allstate arena november 4-14 and at the united center, november 17-28.

i received free tickets to the show for me and my family from the feld family entertainment group. regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

you can also find me here

some other groups i've joined

 

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