Wednesday, November 30, 2011

tips for staying healthy this seasons w/wet ones giveaway

you may have heard that we recently had a terrible bout with some kind of flu bug in our family. having four out of six down for the count is my idea of a nightmare, and i don't look forward to repeating that experience throughout this winter season.

that is why i am determined to do everything i can to stay healthy and to keep my family healthy as well. i can only imagine that you have a similar goal for you and your family so i would love to share some tips i learned recently from parenting guru, stacy debroff, and dr. benjamin tanner, a microbiologist.

stacy says that healthy meals with lots of fruits and vegetables can help keep kids' immune systems functioning well. thankfully my kids will eat fruits and vegetables, but a good chewable multivitamin can also do the trick.

we have recently moved up everyone's bedtime so they can get a little more sleep this winter. stacy agrees that a consistent bedtime and nap schedule can really help keep little ones healthy.

bill is obsessed about keeping the kids' hands clean at home and on the road. wet ones antibacterial hand wipes for at home and in a travel size are a great option for washing hands when soap and water are not available. wet ones promises to clean better than hand sanitizers (and are safer if you are worried about little ones trying to drink the hand sanitizer).

dr. tanner says that the cold virus can be found in nasal secretions even a week after a cold's symptoms are gone. not only does this mean that we all have to remain diligent about practicing good hygiene at home, but at school as well when kids are returning to school healthy but contagious!

i am starting to teach my kids to keep their hands away from their faces, thanks to dr. tanner's information that many viruses are transmitted when kids have contact with the virus and then touch their noses or eyes. discouraging face touching can reduce colds by nearly half (and now i need to take this advice myself as well!).

did you know that droplets from sneezes can travel at 45 miles per hour and cover a distance of 10 feet? we definitely need to guard ourselves from these high-flying germs by practicing good hygiene all winter long!

here is a summary of tips you are welcome to print out as good reminders:
if you think that some wet ones antibacterial hand wipes can help you and your family stay healthy this winter, i have a gift pack to give away to one reader. simply leave a comment below telling me your top tip for staying healthy in the winter.

i will choose a winner using on december 3, 2011. must a united states resident and age 18 or above to enter. i reserve the right to modify, suspend or terminate the contest, if the promotion is removed by the web server or is otherwise compromised by illegal acts or electronic bots.  

energizer personal care is providing the prize(s) for this promotion at no cost to me.  this promotion is not being administered or sponsored in any way by energizer personal care or its affiliates, but solely by reviews from the crib. any questions or comments regarding this promotion must be sent to me at reviews from the crib and not to energizer personal care.  all information and the wet ones products were given to me by energizer personal care.  regardless, all opinions expressed here are purely my own.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


whew!  the holiday really got me off my game.  now that we are home again, i don't have to do extra baking (at least not for a week or two!), and people seem to have recovered from illness, i finally feel like i can get back on track.

and what better way to get back into the swing of things than to announce some winners!

the winner of the shutterfly christmas cards is...
 ...sherilyn!  congratulations!  i can't wait to see which design you pick out!
updated to add:  i didn't realize i have three people who can win the cards so here are two more winners:
 ...lili won too! and...
  ...brooke!  i will be emailing you ladies the codes to receive your free christmas cards!

the winner of the stacking bowls and snack cup is...

... katychick!  hopefully this helps with the cheerios, froot loops and cheetos problem!

finally, the winner of the bellywashers and tummy ticklers is...

...janie!  hopefully you get some thomas to add to your collection!

i have another giveaway coming up so definitely stay posted (or subscribe if you haven't already!).

Friday, November 18, 2011

belly washers and tummy ticklers review and giveaway

as i get ready for the holidays, i start to think about what we need for our long car trip(s).  i know i will need some special snacks and healthy foods.  i also plan on getting belly washers and tummy ticklers for each kid. 

the kids love the fun tops and getting to have juice for a change.  i love that the drinks are 100% juice, the bottles are bpa-free, and we can use them again and again as easy-to-replace water bottles. 

belly washers and tummy ticklers and tummy tickler tots have a wide variety of themes, that appeal to all my kids from ages 1 to 9.  the tops are interchangeable with each size bottle so the kids can always have their favorites. 

occasionally, lilianna throws her bottle to the ground and the top pops off.  that is a little annoying, but otherwise, i love these as water bottles for the rest of the kids, whether we are going to the beach (ahh, i miss the beach), downtown for the day or just a little grocery shopping.

you can find these at wal-mart, k-mart, meijer and kroger stores.  they are available individually, in three-packs or a five pack with one reusable character top.

if you would like to give these a try for your family, i have a sample pack to give away to one of you readers.  just leave me a comment below telling me what your little one's favorite character top would be.  i'll choose a winner november 28, 2011, using  must be a us resident and 18 year or older to enter.

i received a free sample pack and the the information from in-zone brands for the purpose of this review.  regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


congratulations, atarah.  since you were the only one to leave a comment, you win the last pass to the toy and game fair!  just leave me a comment with your email so i can email you the pass.

for the rest of you, don't forget this coupon.  we'll be there on saturday, so hopefully we can see some of you there (and if anyone wants to come along as a mother's helper, i'll be solo and would appreciate the help!).

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

that's how you use heelys shoes!

my intention was to practice and practice until i became really good at wearing (and using) heelys ($54.99) so that i could write all about how heelys have changed my life; how i wear them every day when i go to pick up the kids at the bus stop; how i wear them around the house to while distributing clean laundry, putting away toys for the umpteenth time or chasing after lilianna.

unfortunately, i have yet to figure out how to use the wheel parts of heelys without completely falling over or, worse, looking like a total doofus. thankfully, bill was willing to cram his toes into my shoes and show us how it is really done.

bill really likes the idea of these for house shoes.  while clearing the table after supper, he can roll to and from the table while barely expending any energy.  thankfully for me, it is possible to wear these shoes both with and without the wheels so, until i'm really ready to get my game on with the wheels, i can still wear them around the neighborhood as a fashion statement.  it is actually very easy to make the switch from wheels to no wheels, using the handy-dandy tool that comes with the shoes.

normally we would think of these as shoes for teens and tweens, but i want to challenge you this holiday season to think about an adult in your life who might really enjoy having a pair of heelys for getting around.  obviously such a person needs to think like a trendsetter.  once people see how great heelys are for getting around, more and more adults will want them for themselves.  imagine how easily moms could travel around the grocery store (i even think i might manage them if i had the shopping cart to hold me up!).  heelys have the possibility of making life a whole lot more simple, efficient and fun.

here are a few facts and tidbits of information:  heelys have a mimalist design that features clean, sleek lines.  this means you can make a fashion statement while tootling around the mall.  they have a light-weight repstop nylon upper and high frequency molded logo on the heel overlay.  everyone will know that you have the real deal, not some cheap knock-off that will fall apart after a few wears.  i don't know what this means, but i find it impressive that they have a faux vulcanized wrap with ninja star bottom, as well as a fats low profile wheel with ABEC 1 bearings (how cool is that!?!?).

if you've begun to think of a trendsetter or two who might be interested in finding a pair of these under the tree, heelys is throwing a black friday special!  between november 25 and november 28, buy any pair of heelys, get the second pair for $25. or buy a heelys nano inline footboard, and get a pair of shoes for $25, and get free ground shipping on all orders!

there are a wide variety of styles and colors to choose from.  if you can't think of an adult who would like these, they make plenty of kid-friendly versions as well.  i know zoe would love to find these under the tree this christmas for her.  now that she's seen bill wearing them around, she wants a pair more than ever!

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

Monday, November 14, 2011

playtex snacker and easy stack bowls (with giveaway)

this is the song i feel like singing every day...

"cheerios here, cheerios there,
cheerios almost everywhere,
cheerios near, cheerios far,
cheerios in my car..."  (sung to the tune of jim gill's, "driving here, driving there")

i love to give lilianna cheerios and other cereals for a snack, but i hate to find them all over the house.  and when i say "all over," i really mean all over.  i have found cheerios in the bathroom, in our bed, and in the toilet (i really don't even want to know).

playtex® has heard the cries, groans and moans of moms and dads who are tired of finding snack food crushed and scattered throughout the house.  they have come up with a new twist ‘n click™ flip top snacker.  we have been using ours for a few weeks now, i absolutely love it.  unlike some other snack cups we've tried, this one comes with a clicking lid.  i can fill it up, twist on the lid until i hear it click, then unsnap the top part of the lid and click it into the bottom,  lilianna can easily reach in and get her food without spilling (too much).  then when she's done, i flip the lid back to the top and seal it up until we need it again.  while she still drops a few cheerios, compared to our previous situation, this now seems minimal.  usually just a couple come out so she can easily pick them up herself right away, before i step on them!

when i need to bring something more substantial for her to have for breakfast or lunch, i love the new twist ‘n click™ easy stack bowls.  after too many times of discovering i didn't get the lid on all the way for some of our other bowls, i appreciate hearing the click with these bowls so i know that the food will be safely kept inside.  these bowls have been great for snacks for tessa and tate too.  they love the size and shape.  i love being able to put a lid on them when needed.  the lids and bowls stack together for easy storage, which makes me feel better about collecting extras.

i have been enjoying my flip top snackers and easy stack bowls so much, i'm excited to be able to offer a set to one of you readers.  just leave a comment below telling me which is the food you most commonly find underfoot at your house.  i will choose a winner on november 21, 2011 using  must be 18 to enter; united states residents only.

i received a set of playtex®  twist ‘n click™ easy stack bowls and twist ‘n click™ flip top snackers for the purpose of this review.  regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

winners! (and one more giveaway)

this is going to seem a little crazy but...

congratulations to the winner of the tickets to goodnight moon, the musical...

kristin!  i hope you and your kids really enjoy it.

and the winner of the toy and game fair pass is...

kristin!  i guess you'll be coming to chicago a lot in the next few weeks!

i have one more pass to give away to the toy and game fair.  just leave a comment below telling me what's the top thing on your list this year.  i would love an ipad...but i'm pretty sure santa is going a little cheaper this year!

remember, if you want to come and don't get a pass, you can print out this coupon for $2 off.

shutterfly christmas cards 2011 (w/giveaway)

you may (or may not) have noticed that we did not send out any christmas cards last year.  i honestly don't know what happened.  we missed christmas so we thought we'd send new year's cards.  then that was gone so we joked about sending martin luther king jr. day cards.  or valentine's. or easter...or...


we are going to send christmas cards.  i hereby declare it (so hold me accountable). 

what do you think of these?

i know, right?  how on earth can i choose?  although, i have to admit, i wish i could buy those family pictures.  ours never turn out...quite so...artistic.  if i sent you one of those cards with those kids on it, you could pretend those were our kids, couldn't you?  (oh great.  all of a sudden i'm thinking that i made that same comment last year.  am i really so redundant?)

anyway, what i like about shutterfly is that they have a great selection of cards at really great prices.  if you aren't into christmas, they also have a selection of holiday cards or greeting cards that would be perfect for this time of year.

they also have a great selection of gifts to choose from as well.  once you've done the work of uploading your photos, why not get a few on playing cards, mugs, ornaments, calendars or photo books as well?  i love the personalized story book they have, or, oooo, the wall decal.  i know tate would love a wall-sized photo of himself playing soccer...

 i am happy to say that i have the opportunity to offer three (3) readers an opportunity to win 25 cards of their choice.  just leave me a comment below describing your favorite holiday photo either of you and/or your family, or the favorite one you received from someone else.  i will choose a winner using on november 18 (in honor of my sister's birthday).  must be 18 to enter; united states residents only.

i received free holiday cards from shutterfly as a thank you for writing this post.  regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

tiny prints christmas cards

when tessa got home from school yesterday, tate and lilianna were still sleeping.  we took advantage of the time alone to spend a delightful hour scrolling through all of the holiday card choices at tiny prints.  we ended up with about 30 on our "favorites" list.

this was one of tessa's favorites:  

tessa and i both really liked the fact that many of the cards allow you to change the color combination. i think this lets you choose a color that compliments whatever photo you pick, whether you want to use a summer picture or one with everyone in christmas colors. this one comes in black, blue and red.

i really like the quiet simplicity of this one. i feel like it is a good reflection of my personality. then we could put our family picture inside.

since i'm pretty certain we are going to find it challenging to get a picture in which all six of us are smiling, looking at the camera and posed appropriately, i'm thinking that something like this might be better. i have cute candids of all of the kids. it would be fun to group them together for something like this card.

i really find this option intriguing. you give tiny prints the photos you want to use, and one of their editors works them into some kind of aesthetically pleasing arrangement. they email you the proof when they're done to see if you like it. i love the idea of bill and i at the top and the four kids at the bottom. we'll see if i can find some appropriate pictures.

to be honest, tessa and i are going to have to narrow down our choices just a little bit more if we are ever going to make a choice.  last year, i never did make a decision so my cards never got sent.  this year, we are absolutely going to get cards sent out.  i'm pretty sure some people don't even know we had a fourth child.  that's embarrassing.

what about you?  what's your favorite holiday card at tiny prints?

Monday, November 7, 2011

member's mark 4x probiotic challenge results

remember when i bought these at sam's club?
it's been about 2 weeks since i started using these, and i'm starting to feel like a new woman.  usually, this time of day (after supper), i would start to feel uncomfortable and bloated.  some nights, i felt uncomfortable just sitting on the couch.  i could hardly wait to crawl into bed to relieve some of my agony.  usually by morning things were better (still wonder what happens during the night--thankfully bill hasn't complained...yet!), but by evening i would start the whole cycle over again.

since taking the 4x probiotic tablets, i have been more "regular" and felt better physically overall.  i forgot to take the pill a couple days, and i could tell the difference.

i am forgetful when it comes to taking pills so i really appreciated that the pills were labeled with the days of the week.  sometimes i can't even remember whether i already took one or not (that's what sleep deprivation will do to you).  thanks to the handy labeling, i always knew which pill went with which day.

i was also a little worried about the size of the pill.  i'm not a very great pill taker (as you can tell from my forgetfulness).  i was afraid i would have to choke down some giant pill that would make me feel like gagging every time i took it.  as you can (hopefully) tell from the picture, the pills aren't abnormally large; they go down very easy with a swallow of water.

i had committed myself to a two-week trial of the pills just to see what would happen. i think it is now pretty clear to me that i feel better and "work" better when i take a probiotic pill each day.  this is definitely a practice i would like to maintain long-term.

i have been compensated for this post (and the previous one) as part of a social shopper insights study for collective bias and mamabzz. regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

dopple ganger: the great mogul diamond (review)

in this third book of the dopple ganger chronicles, life finally seems to be pretty good for sadie and saskia dopple, who have been adopted by writer-friend muzz elliott.  their friend, erik morrissey ganger, is beginning to fulfill his dream of becoming a detective.  it turns out that they are experiencing a calm before the storm when their guardian starts to receive threatening notes.

soon, the twins and muzz elliott are caught up in a series of crimes that come right from the writer's novels, while erik, the former thief, must try to decide whether to steal again in order to rescue the twins and their guardian.

this book revolves around the question of how to know what's right when the answer isn't immediately obvious.  i think that zoe is at an age where this conundrum is starting to become more prevalent.  how do you know what is right, and how do you make the decision to do what is right when the pressure is on?

i like for zoe to have books that are exciting for her to read, but who help her start to deal with moral complexities.  she has loved every book in this series, and i have been glad for her to read and think about the challenges that they present.

zoe and i both wish there were a little less violence perhaps.  zoe herself has said there is "a lot of shooting" in the books.  so far that hasn't resulted in any nightmares (thank goodness!), and overall, the quality of the narrative, writing, pictures and graphics has made up for any disappointment in the area of violence.

zoe and i both recommend these books wholeheartedly to anyone who will listen to us!

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

Saturday, November 5, 2011

ringling bros and barnum and bailey: fully charged! review

our family had a fabulous time at the circus thursday night. i don't know if i had more fun watching the show or watching lilianna watching the show. she clapped, she oohed and ahhhed and danced along to the music.

this year i was quite relieved to discover that the performance focuses more on the talents and activities on the performers instead of overdoing the bright lights and sensory overload of last year's show. the show seemed quieter and more subdued--and that was just right with all of us. we were able to focus our attention on the performers' awe-inspiring feats.

...and they were indeed awe-inspiring.  some of our favorites from zing, zang, zoom were back, like taba the tiger tamer (who also does the elephants and horses), and alberto and guillermo on their spinning wheels of death (that might not be the right name for it, but that is how i felt while watching them!).  we also enjoyed the new clown cars and bikes and the hopping guys on their bouncy stilts.

if you do decide to go to the show (don't forget the discount on tickets), i would highly recommend getting to the show early enough to spend time on the floor with the performers.  we got to meet brian, who seems like an average guy you would meet on the street, but who sets himself on fire before flying through the air after being shot from a giant catapult.  we had our program signed by many of the performers.  the kids tried on some of the (heavy!) costumes that are similar to those worn in the show.

i thought fully charged! was a perfect show for the kids (and bill and i loved it too).  you won't want to miss it!

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

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

chicago toy and game fair, winner and giveaway

remember this?
well, since nobody entered last week's giveaway, karin csora wins the family pass (she entered last week). yay for karin! 

as for you, it isn't too late, i have yet another family pass to offer you. just leave a comment below telling me which toy you think will be this year's "hot toy," you know, the one that you can't find in any toy store, but that your child insists he or she simply must have. 

i know that this year, tate wants to make sure he gets a darth vader action figure. last year, they were all out, everywhere we looked! 

i will choose a winner using on tuesday, november 8 (united states residents only, must be 18 to enter). 

don't forget to take advantage of this coupon as well. bill is going to be out of town that day so i will have all four kids all by my lonesome. i'm definitely looking for people who want to go and share this experience with me!

goodnight moon, the musical giveaway!

as i have said before, i love to expose my kids to culture in a way that is positive and encouraging, as well as age-appropriate.  that way when they are adults, they will treat bill and me to all kinds of cultural experiences as a result of their undying gratitude to us!
if you are in the chicago area and have been considering taking your kids to see goodnight moon, the musical, i have some really good news. i am giving away four tickets to see the show!

here are the nitty-gritty details:  if (and only if, this is important), you are available to see the show on sunday, november 13 at 3 pm, leave a comment for me below, telling me what your favorite childhood story is.  i will choose a winner on tuesday, november 8, 2011 (us residents only, must be 18 to enter).  if you cannot make the show at that date and time, the box office will be unable to exchange your tickets...

...however, if you are unable to make that date and time, but still want to see the show, you can use the code "RED BALLOON" to get $5 off per ticket, to any performance, whether you purchase them online, via phone (773.871.3000) or in person (2433 north lincoln avenue | chicago, il 60614) at the victory gardens box office.

i do hope you will join us in seeing the show.  i am sure your kids will be so glad you did!

we received 4 free tickets to the show, as well as four to give away, from the chicago children's theatre.  regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

the circus is in town!

if you hear the sound of elephants trumpeting, or tigers roaring, no need to call animal control.  the circus is in town!

we are getting ready to get "charged up" at ringling bros. and barnum and bailey: fully charged.  we can't wait to see taba with his tigers again, check out the new clown action and of course, ooh and aah over all the daring and death-defying feats.

check out this video and you'll see what i mean:

if this got your attention, don't forget the great discount: $11 for weekday shows and $4 off tickets for the weekend shows. the circus will be at the all-state arena from november 3-13 and at the united center from november 16-27 (with free parking) so there are lots of opportunities to see the show. you won't want to miss it.

my family and i have received free tickets to see the circus from the feld family entertainment group. regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

outback steakhouse: a new take on steak

most father's days, bill chooses where we will eat out and he chooses...outback steakhouse.  on mother's days, when i get first choice, i usually choose...panera.  or le peep.

but this mother's day?  you just might find me at the outback steakhouse.

bill and i had an opportunity to dine there last wednesday and had an experience like we have never had before.  i'm not sure i would have associated "gourmet" with outback steakhouse prior to this event, but for me, that association isn't far off any longer.

up until now, outback has been known for its delicious bloomin' onion and its classic seasoned and seared steaks.  now they have developed a new method of cooking:  every visitor has a choice between the classic seared steak or a wood-fire grilled steak.

if steak isn't necessarily your first choice, you may also enjoy wood-fire grilled chicken on a delicious salad or as a main dish, wood-fire grilled baby back ribs, wood-fire grilled pork chops, or (my personal favorite), wood-fired grilled hearts of gold mahi (delicious!), along with a variety of other wood-fire grilled options.

as i listened to the chef describe the cooking process of each of these meats, what impressed me the most was the attention to detail.  each piece of meat is carefully selected to find the right amount of fat and marbling to ensure a juicy and delicious taste.  then, the combination of spices are experimented with and worked over to enhance the flavor of each type of meat.  when the decision was made to change to wood-fire grilling, a variety of woods were tested before choosing to stick with oak, because the other woods seemed to affect the flavors of the meats negatively. 

researchers are based in tampa, but specialty chefs from across the country are brought in to give advice and weigh in on decisions so that we the customer benefit from a well thought out and well planned dining experience, no matter where we may be in the country.

as i sampled each type and variety of meat, i was amazed at the flavor, tenderness and juiciness of each bite.  as someone who regularly overcooks the chicken and undercooks the steak, i found myself wanting to savor each and every bite on my plate (and hoarding all the leftovers to myself the next day!).

of course, you won't want to leave without spoiling yourself with one of outback's delectable desserts.  i can personally recommend the carrot cake and the classic cheesecake with raspberry sauce;  both are not to be missed.

if you have been thinking of outback as "out of date," you will want to take the soonest opportunity to go back and reevaluate your opinion.  their new wood-fired grilled options will certainly work hard to change your mind!

bill and i were treated to a special meal by outback through the msl marketing group.  regardless, i can assure you that 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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