Help a Local School with Sprite Spark Parks Project {Giveaway}

Unfortunately in today’s economy, we are all too familiar with budget cuts and how they effect our own lives.  Outside of our home, budget cuts are also effecting our local schools and playgrounds.  As schools look for ways to tighten the purse strings, sports and other recreational programs are the first to disappear. While I want my children to get a first rate education, I also want them to be able to let their imaginations run wild and release energy on the playground!

While New Orleans has made a remarkable recover from the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, I will be the first to admit that some programs are still suffering…one of which is our local parks.  Because of this, I am thrilled to hear about the Sprite Spark Parks Project!  Sprite has committed to several years of improving active spaces across the country by investing $2 million dollars to resurrect over 150 parks including athletic fields, playgrounds and basketball courts.

Do you have a school that could use a little Sprite Spark?  From July-September, you can nominate your school for a $25,000 makeover!  If you are a My Coke Rewards member, simply head to the Schools Program page and enter the points codes found on all Sprite and Sprite Zero products.  Not a member?  No problem, new member registration is free!

GIVEAWAY

One winner will receive a Sprite Playground Prize Pack (ARV $100) including Sprite Spark Parks Pen, Sprite Spark Parks Backpack, Sprite Coupon, Medibuddy First Aid Kit, Hand Sanitizer Wipes, Green Jumprope, Sizzlin’ Cool Sling Racket or Baseball Glove set, Crayola 3-D Chalk Set, Everything Kids Travel Activity Book, Tootle Turtle Bubble Set and a $25 AMEX Giftcard!

How to Enter:

1. Tell me a school outdoor active space you would nominate for a $25,ooo makeover!

Additional entries:

1. Blog about this giveaway and link to The Not-So-Blog and Sprite Spark Parks (10 extra entries).

2. Follow me (@BridgetteLA) on Twitter and Tweet this giveaway. Every time you tweet you get an additional entry! Limited to 10 a day, please. (You must have over 50 Twitter followers to qualify for unlimited entries!)

3. Subscribe to my blog.

4. Become a Fan of The Not-So-Blog on Facebook.

5. Place my blog button on your sidebar.

Contest ends at 11:59pm CST on August 22nd.  Prizes not claimed in 72 hours will be forfeited. Open to U.S. Residents only. The prize was provided by Sprite, but Sprite is not a sponsor, administrator, or involved in any other way with this giveaway. All opinions expressed in the post are my own and not those of Sprite or The Coca-Cola Company. Entrants must be 18 or older and located in the US or Canada only. Winner to be chosen at random.

This post is the opinion of The Experimental Mommy.  While a sample product was received to faciltate this review, all opinions remain 100% mine.

My Pampers Miracle Mission: St. Michael’s Special School {Giveaway}

I am so very proud to be a part of the Pampers baby Board with several other fantastic bloggers.  Not only do I absolutely love the products (we used Pampers exclusively for both of my daughters), but the people behind the brand are amazing.  I love that Pampers gives back to the community and one of the most heartwarming endeavors to date is their Little Miracle Mission.

In honor of Pampers’ 50th birthday, the company decided to honor every baby, or Little Miracle, by giving back to those in need.  As a member of the Baby Board, I had the opportunity to create a Little Miracle in my hometown!  After giving it much thought, I decided to give back to St. Michael’s Special School, a place that made a world of difference to my cousin and her family.

The primary mission of St. Michael Special School is to provide students with special educational needs opportunities to develop their Catholic faith and to receive a high quality education including religious, academic, social, vocational and physical training,” explains the schools’ website.  With an enrollment of 200 students ages 6-15, St. Michael’s caters to those children who have learning difficulties that hinder their success in a traditional classroom.  After age 15, the school provides vocational training and even has sheltered work opportunities in their Joy Center for those individuals over age 21.

My cousin, Becky, was diagnosed with epilepsy as an infant.  As her condition worsened over time and brain surgeries became a reality, traditional schooling became a hardship for her and her family.  Fortunately, St. Michael’s was a light in her life!  Becky loved attending school there and my Aunt and Uncle were very pleased with the staff and the opportunities it provided to their daughter.  When Becky passed away, St. Michael’s was very kind to my family and still holds a place in all of our hearts.

For everything this school stands for and the countless hours of selfless acts by the Staff, I am very pleased to donate $1,000 of classroom supplies to St. Michael’s Special School in memory of my cousin, Becky.  In the coming weeks, I will share more of the story as I visit St. Michael’s to deliver the supplies and have a chance to chat with students and staff!  In the meantime, check out this inspiring video about St. Michael’s!  These kids are truly Little Miracles!

GIVEAWAY

Because Pampers loves to give back, I also have 6 coupons for one pack of free diapers and one container of free wipes for one lucky reader (ARV $100)!

How to Enter:

1. Tell me one way that you could create a Little Miracle in your hometown!

Additional entries:

1. Blog about this giveaway and link to The Not-So-Blog and Pampers (10 extra entries).

2. Follow me (@BridgetteLA) on Twitter and Tweet this giveaway. Every time you tweet you get an additional entry! Limited to 10 a day, please. (You must have over 50 Twitter followers to qualify for unlimited entries!)

3. Subscribe to my blog.

4. Become a Fan of The Not-So-Blog and Pampers on Facebook.

5. Place my blog button on your sidebar.

Contest ends at 11:59pm CST on August 18th.  Prizes not claimed in 72 hours will be forfeited. Open to U.S. Residents only.

As a member of the Pampers Baby Board, I received a $1,000 gift card to donate to a local charity.  No compensation was received for this post.

How to Prepare to Evacuate for a Hurricane

I wish I could say that I have had no experience in evacuating my family to safer ground, but unfortunately, I’m a Pro!  As a child, we evacuated a hand full of times, but I never appreciated the planning that goes into making the trip as pleasant and safe as possible.  Now that I have my own family and home to protect, I thought I would list what I have learned in an effort to help any newbies.
My Top Ten Hints for Hurricane Evacuations

1.  Prepare the Perimeter: Trim tree branches as to avoid causing damage to your home, lock any storm doors, board windows and doors with plywood, tie down outdoor furniture, garden arbors, and swing sets.

2.  Video your Valuables: Take the time to create a video of the contents of home.  This will make insurance claims easier if your home is no longer where you left it.

3.  Protect your Policies: Make copies of your insurance policies, outstanding or monthly bills, birth certificates, kids’ shot records and other important pieces of paper you may need.

4.  Free your Fridge: Assume you will lose power during the Storm.  Discard any leftovers, milk or perishables that won’t be good when you return. Anything you may want to keep, wrap contents in plastic bags.  If power is lost, when food defrosts, you won’t be left with a sticky mess and a ruined freezer.

5.  Rate the Rooms: Consider creating a binder in advance of all the acceptable hotels in areas you may evacuate.  Do your research ahead of time on cancellation and pet policies so you will be ready to pick up and go when the time comes.

6.  Fill the Pills: Make sure you fill any necessary prescriptions ahead of time!

7.  Lift the Loot: Consider placing any irreplaceable items in a tupperware container and lifting them off the ground.

8.  Pack the Mule: Sometimes it feels like we are packing everything but our kitchen sinks, but don’t forget sentimental items (pictures, wedding videos) and your child’s favorite stuffed animal or blanket!

9.  Go Off Road:  Sometimes the easiest way out of town is not the Interstate!  Use a GPS to find back roads that may be easier that sitting in contraflow traffic.

10.  Hug Your Family:  And know that everything in your home can be replaced; your safety is more important than any possession.

HABA Flower Friends Mobile: Review and Giveaway

I always feel like a horrible mother when I am out shopping with my daughter and I leave her in the carrier car seat for a couple of hours as we make quick runs in and out of stores.  I feel like she gets bored because I am her only entertainment! In the past I have bought toys made specifically for the carry seat and have been disappointed with most of them. I have had problems with them staying on, being too short for her to reach and even one that every time I put the handle down it would hit her in the head if I wasn’t careful. Finally, there is an infant toy out there that soft, cute and can easily be attached to the carry seat or even to the stroller.

The Flower Friends Mobile by HABA has everything you need in an infant toy and more. The mobile is made of cotton, polyester and velour and attaches to the carrier or stroller with velcro which makes it so easy to move. Once I put the mobile on the carry seat my daughter went crazy, she absolutely loves this new toy. She was able to pull down on the on the toys and the other would move up and vice versa, this kept her entertained for at least 45 minutes, just pulling on the toys.  She loves the fact that one toy is a rattle and one rustles when she touches them and that she can see herself in the flower mirror. She has really enjoyed having the mobile on her carry seat and I will definitely move it to the stroller when she outgrows this carseat.

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GIVEAWAY

One winner will receive a Flower Friends Mobile by HABA!

How to Enter:

1. Check out the new HABA products for babies and tell me another one you would love to have!

Additional entries:

1. Blog about this giveaway and link to The Not-So-Blog and HABA (10 extra entries).

2. Follow me (@BridgetteLA) on Twitter and Tweet this giveaway. Every time you tweet you get an additional entry! Limited to 10 a day, please. (You must have over 50 Twitter followers to qualify for unlimited entries!)

3. Subscribe to my blog.

4. Become a Fan of The Not-So-Blog and HABA USA on Facebook.

5. Place my blog button on your sidebar.

Contest ends at 11:59pm CST on August 16th.  Prizes not claimed in 72 hours will be forfeited. Open to U.S. Residents only.

This review is the opinion of Beth of The Experimental Mommy. Others may have a differing opinion of the product.  While a sample was received to facilitate this review, all opinions remain 100% honest.

Is Your Child the Next Mini Chef?

If you are a regular reader here, you know that I am not known for spending ample time in my kitchen.  Don’t get me wrong, I like to eat….I just can’t cook.  Fortunately, my husband is a great cook and he is trying to help me learn my way around (how do you boil water again?).

In all seriousness, I do want to learn to bake and cook so that I can teach my daughters to prepare healthy meals for themselves and eventually their own families.  Experimenting in the kitchen is a great way to spend quality time together and chat about why nutrition is important.

Barilla wants to encourage your child’s inner chef by hosting the Piccolini Next Mini Chef Contest!  Throughout the month of July, you and your child can create a nutritious and delicious recipe using Piccolini mini pasta for the chance to win a $10,000 scholarship.  Some great recipes have already been created and displayed on the website.  I love the mini ricotta meatball recipe! YUM! These kids are certainly talented.

Take a minute to create a recipe (and a lifetime memory) with your child in the kitchen.  Submit your story, pictures and recipe to Piccolini’s Next Mini Chef Contest and start getting some votes! Good Luck!

The post is the opinion of the Experimental Mommy.  Others have a differing opinion of the product.  While I was compensated for this post, all opinions remain 100% mine.

WINNERS!

Congrats to all the recent winners here at Experimental Mommy!  Some great prizes this go ’round!  Don’t forget to enter all of my current giveaways and be on the lookout for some great ones coming up soon!  Thanks to all who entered!

Anthony’s Pasta:  Wanda

WhoNu? Cookies: Michelle C. and Barbara M.

HALO Bars:  Alicia

Bailey’s: Jessie and Christina

Constructive Playthings:  Michelle R.

Dreft: Shayna

SONIC:  Ellen

Pampers $300 Giveaway:  Natalie

Anamalz: Anne

Chuck E. Cheese Pizza Overhaul: Review and Giveaway

With Summer temperatures soaring, I have been searching for ways to cool off with the family.  The kids are growing tired of staying home to escape the heat, so my husband and I decided to surprise them with a little treat this weekend.

Chuck E. Cheese!

Pizza, games, prizes and air conditioning! Could it be any more perfect?  Both girls squealed when we pulled into the parking lot.  We have been to Chuck E. Cheese in the past, but it’s been a few months so we were anxious to see what’s changed.  When we walked in, I was shocked that this establishment seemed to have undergone a remodel.  The place was incredibly clean and there were so many new games and activities since the last time we visited.  My oldest daughter immediately spotted a new virtual reality roller coaster and made a bee line to ride it.  My youngest spotted the traditional carousel and new life sized horse ride, too!  After about 45 minutes of playing, it was time to get down to business….PIZZA!

Recently, the pizza has received an overhaul, so we were excited to check it out!  About the new recipe:

We started from scratch to bring you our all-new, cheesier, crispier pizza. Made with fresh, never frozen dough, 100% real Mozzarella cheese, zesty pizza sauce, and a variety of quality toppings, it’s a pizza the whole family will love! Along with our garden fresh salad bar and oven toasted sandwiches, we have the perfect recipe to satisfy your appetite for food and fun!

This is the biggest recipe change that Chuck E. Cheese has made in more than 30 years.  Being that I am not one for change, I was skeptical.  We ordered a large pepperoni pizza (the girls’ favorite) and it smelled great as it was delivered to our table.  Placing a piece on everyone’s plate, it was obvious that the cheese was fresh!  After taking a bite (or several), I noticed that the pizza was crispier and the sauce was tangier..is that a word?  I like the flavor!  However, there is no crust, which is my favorite part of the pizza, but the crunch made up for it.  In fact, neither one of my girls eats the crust of a pizza, so they were delighted to see the change.

We had a great experience at Chuck E. Cheese this weekend!  The games were new and different (I also love that every game is only one token), the pizza was delicious and it was COOL! If you are looking for a fun outing this summer, definitely check it out.

GIVEAWAY

Want to take the kids to Chuck E. Cheese?  THREE winners will receive a Guest pass which includes one large pizza, 4 soft drinks and 30 game tokens!

How to Enter:

1. Tell me what toppings you would get on your Chuck E. Cheese pizza!

Additional entries:

1. Blog about this giveaway and link to The Not-So-Blog and Chuck E. Cheese (10 extra entries).

2. Follow me (@BridgetteLA) on Twitter and Tweet this giveaway. Every time you tweet you get an additional entry! Limited to 10 a day, please. (You must have over 50 Twitter followers to qualify for unlimited entries!)

3. Subscribe to my blog.

4. Become a Fan of The Not-So-Blog and Chuck E. Cheese on Facebook.

5. Place my blog button on your sidebar.

Contest ends at 11:59pm CST on August 5th.  Prizes not claimed in 72 hours will be forfeited. Open to U.S. Residents only.

This review is the opinion of The Experimental Mommy. Others may have a differing opinion of the product.  While a sample was received to facilitate this review, all opinions remain 100% honest.

Kohl’s Cares and Clifford Team Up to Help Kids

In just over a week, I will be headed to BlogHer, one of the largest blogging conferences, to meet with old friends and make new connections.  I expect informative sessions, a massive expo hall and of course, plenty of parties.  For this, packing will be a problem!  I need clothes that can transition from daytime sessions to important client meetings, informal meet ups with friends to swanky after hours parties.  Where do I begin?  Kohl’s! I have seen many bloggers tweeting about finding great deals at their local Kohl’s department stores for the conference and I hope that I can be so lucky!

If you are searching for a great deal at Kohl’s, too, make sure you stop by the kiosks and support Kohl’s Cares latest initiative.  Since the year 2000, Kohl’s has raised more than $180 million dollars for charities which support kids’ health and education programs.  Currently, the kiosks are full of one of my favorite childrens’ series, Clifford the Big Red Dog!  For just $5, you can purchase one of four Clifford plush characters as well as a two in one hardcover corresponding book through the end of September.  In return, Kohl’s will donate 100% of the net profit!

While you are out shopping for that “must-have” BlogHer outfit, pick up one (or more!) of the Clifford products from Kohl’s! At just $5, the Clifford plush and book combo would be great to leave at home for the kids while you are away.

This post is the opinion of the Experimental Mommy.  While I was compensated for this post, all opinions remain 100% mine.

Doing Double Duty! #lovelocal

After meeting Cecelia of Cool Baby Kid in August of 2009, we instantly connected. With similar backgrounds and goals and after many hours of discussion, I knew we were destined to start something big. In a matter of weeks, we decided to create a mom blog network, the Double Duty Divas. As we both worked outside of the home full time as well as ran our own product review blogs, we were certainly doing double duty! Our initial goal was to foster the idea of “power in numbers” and challenge bloggers to collaborate instead of compete.

Our idea quickly grew as more bloggers joined our network. Soon, we found ourselves in the world of blog consulting for both bloggers just starting out and companies wanting to connect with them. It was inevitable that an LLC was the route we should take. Because we both had careers already, starting a business was initially furthest from our minds. But, we both really enjoyed what we were doing and loved helping both the blogger and the brand.

In 2011, we launched another venture, Reviewer’s Retreat. Creating the first blog conference geared specifically towards the issues and challenges facing the product review blogger has been an incredible experience! Hard? You bet. Scary? Incredibly. Rewarding? Beyond measure.

Do you dream of starting your own business? What’s holding you back? Why not take a minute to enter Intuit’s Love a Local Business competitionfor a chance to win $25,000 towards starting your own local or online business!

It’s been very exciting starting my own business, so I’m curious to know: What dream business would you love to start? By replying you will be entered to win an iPad 2!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Intuit’s Love A Local Business competition. The opinions and text are all mine. Contest runs July 6 to August 9, 2011. A random winner will be announced by August 11, 2011. Official Contest Rules

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Wanna Play? Make Plans with RedRover iPhone App!

As a Mom who works full time outside the home, I have GOT to be organized. I cherish the quality time I have with my two children and try my best to make the most it. Making plans with family and friends is essential but can prove to be difficult for a family on the go. Enter RedRover! I think I have found my new best friend.

What is RedRover?  It’s a FREE app for iPhone and Droid that will make your life 10X easier.  Check out the video below for a full tour!

RedRover from RedRover on Vimeo.

After watching the video, I couldn’t have been more excited to try it out!  I started by downloading the free app to my iPhone and inviting my contacts.  You can easily add friends from your phone or email address books and even create groups of friends for more organization.  For example, I will be attending the blog conference, BlogHer, next month in San Diego so I created a group on friends I want to make sure I connect with while I am there.

Time to play!  Want to meet up with some friends at a local pizza place?  RedRover allows you to tell your friends you are there and invite them to join you for a fun playdate.  Or you can make plans for a future date, instead.  Invite one friend or your entire playgroup in a few easy steps! While I love the social aspect of RedRover (you can even Tweet and Facebook directly from the app), I see myself using this app for different reasons.

My Favorite RedRover Features:

  • Finding Clean Bathrooms: As a Mom of two daughters, I cannot tell you the countless times that we have been out and about and had to find a potty quickly.  With a simple request to RedRover, a list of the closest and cleanest potties are quickly available.  Great for road trips, too!
  • Finding Medical Care: Unfortunately, on our last few vacations, we have made at least one trip to a local ER or Urgent Care.  Finding medical care when you are out of town can be stressful!  RedRover quickly finds the closest hospital and even has the phone number and map to help you get there.
  • Emergency Contacts: You can set up five emergency contacts that you can contact all at once in case of an emergency.  I hope I never need this feature, but it is nice to have this safety net.
  • Quick Conversations with your Friends: The ability to quickly send a message to my friend without having to create an email or text message is a pretty neat feature.  Similar to instant messaging.
  • Have I mentioned that it’s FREE?!?

I have found many uses for RedRover in my busy life after using it for only a short time.  I can’t wait to introduce more of friends to the free app.  And the best part?  If you download the app before July 28th, RedRover will donate $1 for every app downloaded to Christy Turlington’s charity, Every Mother Counts (up to $20,000)!

Get Ready, Get Set….PLAY!

This post is the opinion of the Experimental Mommy.  While I was compensated for this post as a RovingMom Ambassador, all opinions remain 100% my own.