Wednesday, September 28, 2011

sam's club supports breast cancer awareness (with giveaway)


unless you've been hiding under a rock lately, you know that october is breast cancer awareness month. soon you will be seeing these pink ribbons everywhere. maybe you are even planning on participating in a "race for the cure" event.

if you aren't so much up for running, there is another way that you can support research for breast cancer. simply by purchasing specially marked general mills products like cheerios and fiber one 90 calorie brownies at sam's club (starting even now), you can be a part of supporting breast cancer education and research.

general mills has partnered with the susan g. komen for the cure® foundation to bring breast cancer support to local communities for five years now. this year general mills will be making their annual donation of $2 million to the foundation to advance breast cancer research and support education and community outreach projects. the donations will be divided between two important komen programs: the treatment and assistance program, which assists women in securing care they otherwise may not be able to afford, and prevention research, which can help find ways to prevent breast cancer.

in addition to purchasing specially marked products at sam's club, you can help decided how half of the contribution will be donated by voting at pinktogether.com from now until april 14, 2012. voting results will be announced on mother’s day 2012.

to give you some additional incentive to shop pink at sam's, i have a $25 gift card to offer one of you. simply leave a comment telling me what your favorite purchase is at sam's club. you can leave a second comment if you subscribe to this blog. i will choose a winner using random.org on october 5 (us residents only please).  

i received the information and a complimentary sam's club gift card for myself and one to giveaway from sam's club and general mills through myblogspark.  regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

hearts for hearts girls doll review and giveaway


our girls are a little bit doll crazy. in particular, they love to pore over the catalogs for those popular "american" dolls that cost an extremely large amount of money. i have struggled with a way to support their passion (after all, the collection is educational, right?) without spending more than i find appropriate for something that they will eventually outgrow. lately, i have discovered another group of dolls that i think can keep us both happy.

the hearts for hearts girls dolls feature dolls from various countries around the world.  each doll comes with a friendship bracelet and a story booklet.  the premise is that each girl is working to bring positive change to their particular community and culture.  the booklet shares each girl's story and the way that she works to bring about positive change.

each doll stands 14" tall, has a poseable, smooth vinyl body and rooted hair, and comes with jewelry and hair accessories appropriate for her native land.  additional outfits and accessories (like a tea set, apple pie and thermos or soccer ball and composition book) can be purchased for each doll as well.

 there is also a website that provides additional information about each of the hearts for hearts girls and their respective countries.  girls can participate in educational activities and games, as well as read stories about real girls who are making a difference.  any girl can visit the site, but each doll comes with a code that unlocks access to additional features including a "myheart" page.


my favorite things about these dolls (besides the price, $29.99 for the doll and $17.99 for the accessories set), is the fact that a portion of the proceeds from each doll is donated to programs that support girls in each doll's country.  money spent on these dolls might go to purchase malaria nets in africa, school books in asia or food supplies in the united states.

i'm saving the doll (nahji from india) that we received for a christmas present this year, so we haven't yet opened her up and started playing with her.  from what i can tell, she seems to be pretty high quality.  we also received dell's clogging outfit (she's from appalachia) with a cherry pie and some other picnic fixings.  i'm so pleased with what i see that i'm hoping to pick another doll so that zoe and tessa can each have one to play with.  i think they will enjoy learning about the country and lifestyle of each doll.  i can easily envision hours and hours of play for the girls with these dolls.

i am also quite excited to offer one of these dolls and an accessory pack to you all.  visit the hearts for hearts girls website and tell me which country you would most be interested in learning more about.  you can have an extra entry if you subscribe to this blog.  i will choose a winner using random.org next week, october 5 (us residents only please).

i received information, a complimentary doll and accessories pack for the purpose of this review, and a doll to give away from Playmates Toys through myblogspark.  regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

disney on ice: magical journey is enthralling


things are finally starting to get on track around here. who knew it would take four weeks of school to feel like we are in a routine that we can (barely) handle? as we worked our way through transition woes, we were happy to be able to celebrate the first week of school by attending disney on ice: magical journey. after a week of tears, fears and stress, i was so happy to look over at my kids' faces during the show and observe looks of joy and wonder on their faces.

even though it has been a few weeks since we saw the show, the kids are still talking about that experience. tate especially loves to remind me about various scenes and songs that have stuck with him. i remember two years ago he was convinced that the characters from disney on ice lived around here and that if we would just stop at various buildings he spotted we could go and visit the characters. thankfully he seems to have outgrown that misconception, but he is already starting to ask me about the next time we can go see disney on ice.

the quality of the ice skating at these shows is always so good. sometimes it is hard for me to choose what to focus on: the fabulous skills of the skaters, the incredible costumes and scenery or the songs and stories that we have loved for so long. at this performance, i thought there was less an emphasis on telling the story than of creating a magical environment with a lot of really big, impressive musical ensembles. my kids didn't seem to mind that their favorite stories were not retold. they were just as wowed by the spectacular performances and technical marvels as we were.

while we have to wait until next january to see disney on ice: dare to dream (featuring our favorite movie, tangled), we're looking forward to the ringling brothers and barnam and bailey: fully charged show coming in november.

maybe we'll see you there...

we received complimentary tickets to disney on ice: magical journey.  regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

we can't wait for tonight's magical journey

mickey and minnie have been having fun around chicago before it is time for them to take us on a magical journey to all kinds of incredible and amazing places tonight at the show:

here you can see mickey on the set of abc's local news station. i'm sure he had nothing but good news for chicagoland!

mickey and minnie also made a stop at the willis tower (formerly "sears tower") sky deck. obviously, they are not nearly as afraid of heights as i am!

these are the pictures that tate picked out for this post.  after looking at all the stories that we will be seeing and engaging with tonight, he is most excited about seeing timon and pumba.  we are all pretty big lion king fans around here.  i'm sure zoe will be glad that simba and naala are part of the show as well.
since our last disney on ice experience was all about princesses, i think tate and bill are both looking forward to seeing a little pirate action: the more sword fighting the better for my adventure-loving boys.

the best thing about disney on ice is that there is always something for everyone.  the disney "magic" never fails to work its wonders on our entire family.  i'm sure we will leave the show with stars in our eyes tonight!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

disney on ice: mickey and minnie's magical journey



everybody around here seems to look forward to school starting (especially mom!) so we try to make the start of school as much of a celebration as we can. one event that we always look forward to help us celebrate the start of school is disney on ice.

we have never been disappointed in the disney on ice production.  the ice skating is beautiful and the stories are engaging.  with our family's  ages ranging from 30-something to 1, everyone stays engaged and intrigued through the entire show (even if it does take us past bedtime!).

this year promises to be another wonderful and "magical" event.  mickey and minnie's magical journey takes the audience on a tour to exciting destinations that "happen" to have favorite disney characters there.  ariel, simba, peter pan, tinker bell and lilo and stitch bring music, beauty and laughter with them as we visit each of their magical locales.

if you are in the chicago area and are interested in attending disney on ice: mickey and minnie's magical journey, the show runs wednesday through sunday, september 7-11 at 7.00 p.m.  on friday, there is a matinee at 10.30 a.m. and additional shows saturday and sunday at 11.30 a.m. and 3.30 p.m. at the united center.  the doors open one hour before the show starts.  the united center has free parking for all its official parking lots.

if you go to this website, and use the code MOM1, you can receive 4 tickets for just $44 to the 7:00 p.m. performance on wednesday, september 7 or the 7:00 p.m. performance on thursday, september 8.  for all remaining performances, you can save $4 per ticket.

if you want to get your kids in the mood, feel free to download a copy of this coloring sheet

our family receives free tickets to the show as a "thank you" for sharing this information with you.  regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

mat kearney's young love review


if there is one thing that i love to have when i have a lot of work to do on the computer, it is new music. everyone in my house knows that i can't do anything without some music playing. mat kearney's new album, young love, makes a great soundtrack for every day life. 

lately, on pandora, i've been listening to jack johnson, colbie caillat and jason mraz; i would definitely group mat kearney in with this group.  while i don't want to listen to kids' music all day long, there is something about the playfulness of the songs written by kearney and these others that i prefer when i have a long list of chores to get through.

while i may not be as uninhibited as my children, the opening track, "hey mama" makes me want to get up and start dancing right along with them.  "like ships in the night" describes a couple who can't quite get on track with each other, yet a commitment is made to find a way back together.  most of the songs ("count on me, "she got the honey," "chasing the light," etc.) describe a love that has problems to deal with but remains committed to work things out no matter what obstacles need to be overcome.   all of the tunes draw one in and make you either feel like dancing like no one's watching or letting the music wash over you and calm you down.

when i listen to this album, i definitely feel better about having to wash a counter full of dishes or fold mountain after mountain of laundry.  i also appreciate that this is the kind of music i can listen to in the company of my children without worrying about an off-color lyric or a questionable image.  if you are in the market for some feel-good, makes-you-happy kind of music, give mat kearney's album a try.


i received a free download of this album for the purpose of this review from the one2one network.  regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

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