Mar 082012

First, let me thank you all for the wonderful birthday wishes you sent to Baby C.  She had a wonderful first birthday and an exciting first birthday party.  It’s so cliche to say, but they really do grow up so fast!  Because she’s not really a baby any more, it’s probably not appropriate to refer to her as Baby C.; so when you see me mention “Bubbles” going forward, that’s who I’m talking about.  It’s a nickname she’s affectionately earned around here (occasionally with the variation of Bubble Head).

We wanted Bubbles to have her own little “smash cake” for her party, but didn’t really want to get her all hopped up on sugar.  So I made a plain white cake in a 6″ round pan, and then we “frosted” it with sugar-free pudding.  She was a little tentative at first, but then she really started to enjoy playing; though she never did dive in with both hands, just kept poking it with one finger.  Here’s a sample of the fun we had.

Smash Cake 1

You Want Me To Do What?

Smash Cake

That Was Hard Work!

Secondly, I apologize for such a long break in posting.  For a few days I was in and out of the immediate care center and doctors’ offices.  It was determined that my gallbladder needed to come out, and I scheduled surgery for last week.

I felt well enough to make it down for BlissDom ’12 in Nashville (it’s a short drive from where we live), which I’ll be telling you LOTS about over the next couple of weeks.  I met some great companies, heard great speakers, and have much to share!

The day after we got home, it was Bubbles birthday party, then I had just a couple of days before the surgery.  After surgery, I’ve been keeping a pretty low profile until today.  Guess what?  Surgery hurts!  I know that sounds a little silly, but I’ll be honest – I totally expected to be up on my feet and taking advantage of the nice weather over the weekend.  Um, no.  More about gallbladders and the surgery in an upcoming post.

I’m doing my best to play catch up while still taking it easy.  I’ll pump out as much information as I can for you over the next few days, but forgive me if it takes me a little longer than I hope.

Dec 202011

2011 Holiday Gift Guide – Suggestions For Teens/Him/Her
(Be sure to check out all the other great Gift Guide items and giveaways here.)
We enjoy most of those singing shows that are on TV – you know, the ones that pluck people out of relative obscurity and give them a chance to be a star?  A1 even considered trying out for one when they came to town a few years ago (she should have; that girl can sing).  So when we had the chance to try out the new Sing4: The Hits Edition, I knew it was going to be a winner.
Sing4 is unique in the fact that it’s the first singing game with high-precision lyrics that can tell the difference between actually singing and just humming.  It also comes with 40 songs from artists like Train, the B52s, Lady Gaga, Carrie Underwood, Michael Bublé, Queen and many others.  You can also download additional tracks to give you even more to choose from.  The game has four modes: Solo, Duet (sing together, each taking a different part; highest score wins), Battle (up to four compete by singing the same piece, highest score wins), and Co-op (combined score; everyone sings the parts they’re best at).
The words come up on the screen, just like karaoke.  And once A2 pointed out to us that the next line of lyrics was on the screen in the line under the current lyrics, we were all much more successful.  The bars that are superimposed on the video (see below) let you know if the notes will be high/low or go up/down and also give you a sense for how long the sound should be held.  You’ll also get instant feedback – like “Perfect!” and “Try Harder!”.
We’ve had a lot of fun with this game.  There is a good mix of songs, so everyone is able to find something they like or at least remotely know the words to.  I am glad, too, that there are more songs available via download (I hope they add more soon, too).  Everyone took a turn – some braver (younger) folks took a few.  Even Baby C. was doing her little “dance” while everyone sang.  There was a lots of friendly competition; I have to be honest and say A1 and A2 kicked our butts.  Still, it’s nice to be able to find a game the whole family can play together.
Sing4 is also sponsoring a contest right now.  You could win $10,000 just by singing one of four songs and uploading your video.  Videos must be uploaded by January 31st, 2012; visit their YouTube page for more info.
Where to Buy:
Sing4: The Hits Edition retails for $39.99; Amazon also has it with free shipping.
Want to Win?
One winner will receive a copy of the game plus the microphone.  To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received a product in order to facilitate my review.  No other compensation was received and all opinions are 100% mine and my family’s.

Jul 082011

Are you traveling this summer?  We don’t have any trips planned until we head to Maine in October for my brother’s wedding, but we are already looking forward to a family vacation next summer and making plans for a bigger trip in either 2013 or 2014.  Finding ways to save on travel has always been my M.O. and with the economy still not doing all that well, I know that people are looking for ways to save more so than ever before.
Wilderness Lodge
One option that you may want to consider is a timeshare rental.  Timeshare rentals are typically up to 50% cheaper than hotels and can allow you to stay at luxury hotels or resorts that you may not have found to be inside your budget through regular retail.  Not only can they be less expensive but you’re getting more space; timeshares have separate bedrooms, a living room, a dining area, a kitchen and either a balcony or a patio.

The kitchens are one of the things that make timeshare rentals such a great value.  You have a full-sized and fully-stocked food prep and storage area available 24 hours a day.  Instead of having to get up early and try and get your group showered and ready for the day in time to have breakfast you can sleep in an extra few minutes, grab an inexpensive breakfast at the rental, and then start your day.
Nassau, Bahamas

Most resorts also have great entertainment for the kiddos (and adults!).  Pools are pretty standard and most have waterpark features, hot tubs, playgrounds, tennis courts and arcade rooms.  Some rental properties also have mini-golf, volleyball, and bocci ball tourneys.  If you’d like to get a little social and meet new people while you’re traveling, some rental resorts host arts and crafts classes, ice cream socials and BBQ cookouts.

So how do you find a rental?  Well, you can start by searching a site like  RedWeek got it’s name from the term “red week”, which in the timeshare industry refers to a prime time to own a timeshare.  Relating the term to their company, RedWeek feels they are the best in the business.  They are the largest online timeshare marketplace with more than 1.5 million registered users and they have an A+ Better Business Bureau rating.
Honolulu, Hawaii

I searched around their site and one thing I found really excited me.  There are rentals listed for Disney properties!  And not just at Disney World, but also in Hawaii and Hilton Head.  I’ve always wanted to stay in a DVC property, and this site would allow me to do that.  Prices for Disney rentals start at about $100/night which is very reasonable.  If you don’t have a set destination in mind like I did, just check out their main page; it has a quick-look at the top rental destinations (Bahamas from $57/night?  Hmm…..)
If you’re considering a timeshare vacation, or you’d just like to learn more about some of the resort locations, a paid membership to allows you access to reviews, contact information and more.  And one of you will win a free 2-year membership!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using created by Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Tomoson Product review & giveaway Disclosure.

Jun 232011
Disney*Pixar’s Cars 2
It’s an exciting summer for a Disney fan like me.  First the Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.  Now Disney*Pixar’s Cars 2 which revs into theaters in Disney 3D tomorrow, June 24th!  And right around the corner are a number of other Disney films that I’ll be sharing with you as we get closer to the release dates.
Disney*Pixar’s Cars 2
Cars 2 has star racecar Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) and tow truck Mater (voiced by Larry the Cable Guy) taking their friendship to exciting new places.  They head overseas together to compete in the first-ever World Grand Prix to determine the world’s fastest car.  The road to the championship is filled with potholes, detours and surprises when Mater gets caught up in international espionage!  Mater has to decide between helping Lightning McQueen or helping with the top-secret mission led by master British super spy Finn McMissile (voiced by Michael Caine) and the stunning rookie field spy Holley Shiftwell (voiced by Emily Mortimer).  The journey leads Mater on an explosive chase through the streets of Japan and Europe being watched by the whole world.

The folks at Disney have put together a huge collection of great free activities for Cars 2 fans, as well.  There are crafts, recipes and activity sheets.  Check out the samples below and then download the entire collection here.
Tow Mater Cookies
Lightning McQueen Air Freshener
Tire Track T-Shirts
For more fun Disney*Pixar’s Cars 2 information, text CARS to DISNEY (347639), check out their website, “like” them on Facebook and follow their updates on Twitter!

Now for the giveaway!  Win a Cars 2 prize pack including a t-shirt, puzzle and 2 sheets of temporary tattoos.

Disney*Pixar’s Cars 2 Prize Pack
Please fill out the form below and tell me what size youth t-shirt you’d like (sponsor will try their best on sizes).  You can do as many or as few of the other optional entries as you would like.
Quick links to:
“Like” Shopping for Savings on Facebook
Follow @LMC502 on Twitter

Giveaway open to those residents of the US ages 18 and older.  The giveaway will end at 11:59 p.m. EST on Sunday, July 3rd.  I will select a winner with and the winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email or another winner will be selected.

The prize pack is being provided by the sponsor; I received no compensation.  All thoughts and opinions are 100% mine.  © 2011 Disney/Pixar

Disney*Pixars Cars 2 © 2011 Disney/Pixar
May 242011

Pirates of the Caribbean 4 Remains a Stranger

This weekend I had hoped to bring you a first-hand review of Disney’s new Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.  Disney had sent me passes to attend the local premier last week and hubby and I were both excited to see the movie and nervous about the excursion as it was going to be the first time that we had both left Baby C at the since she had been born.

We had planned to have her stay with my in-laws and they were really looking forward to having her all to themselves for the night.  We thought it was the perfect arrangement: they visit often so she’s extremely familiar with them, she’s been to their house so she should be comfortable with her surroundings, and their house is only 5 minutes from the theater so in the event of a problem we could be there fast.  The imperfect part turned out to be fooling myself into thinking that I could possibly plan anything involving a 3 month old that would play out the way we envisioned.

Baby C had been a little fussy during the day which was unusual for her, but I assumed she was just a little tired from the weekend.  We got her packed up and drove up to the in-laws.  She was quiet and content for the drive but as soon as we walked into the house and undid the harness on her car seat she started to cry.  And not what normally passes for “crying” with her which is a few “”s.  This was full-on wailing; we had honestly never heard her make sounds like that before.  She was sobbing so hard she couldn’t even catch her breath and I could barely console her.  Obviously there was no way I was going to leave her while she was upset so we got her quieted down enough to hook her into her car seat and took her home.  Her Papaw and Grammy so disappointed and were worried that she was suddenly scared of them.

In the end, we think she maybe just had some tummy troubles for the first time, because one dirty diaper and a couple of hours later she was all smiles and giggles again.

So very long story short – we still have not yet seen PotC4.  We do plan to try again on our own in a week or two, though, so hopefully I will be able to share with you then.  In the meantime if you’ve seen it please feel free to share your opinion and tell me what you thought of it.  Just no spoilers yet, please.  In case, you know, we actually make it to the theater next time.

By the way, don’t forget that today is the last day to enter to win a Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides giveaway!