Our Favorite NOLA Sights #seemoresights

New Orleans.  N’Awlins.  NOLA.  The Big Easy.  Home.  No matter what you call my City, there is no denying  that it’s residents have a zest for life unmatched by any other location in the world.  My husband and I were both born in New Orleans and have never left the City and culture so engrained in our heritage….not even after Hurricane Katrina.

Besides the fact that our families live here, there are many reasons why we love New Orleans.  The food, the culture, the music, the festivals…did I mention the food?  But one thing we love to do as a family is play tourist on our hometown.  There is never a reason to be bored in New Orleans because there is always something to see or do.  The kids love our state of the art Aquarium of the Americas and we love it because it is air conditioned for those sweltering summer days.  My husband and I love to go to the Riverwalk and stare onto the busy Mississippi River while eating some delicious beignets.

But there is no denying that our favorite time of the year in New Orleans is Mardi Gras!  You will find us on the parade route yelling, “Throw Me Somethin’, Mista!” while catching beads, doubloons and cups just about every night for two straight weeks.  On Mardi Gras day, we are fortunate enough to ride on a float and be the ones throwing the trinkets to the crowd.  The sights of New Orleans and tourists alike having the time of their lives and throwing caution to the wind is exhilarating.

All of the sights here in New Orleans are a feast for the eyes!  My sight is truly something I want to protect for many years to come as well as the sight of my children.  Did you know that 50% of vision loss can be prevented by having regular comprehensive eye exams?  Since my kids were 3 years old, we have been getting their vision checked and *knock on wood* everything looks good so far.  If you feel strongly about your kids’ vision, make the “My Eye Promise!”  By submitting the promise to have regular eye exams, Transitions Optical will donate a book to the new mobile literacy initiative, Bess the Book Bus.

In addition, Transitions lenses is the Official Sponsor of Sightseeing™ helping many people see the world in a whole new light.  The lenses continually adapt to the available lighting to make your sightseeing an incredible experience.  While you are out and about enjoying the sights of your own City, snap a few photos and enter to win the Official Sponsor of Sightseeing™ Sight of the Day Photo Contest for your chance to win the Ultimate Sightseeing Dream Vacation. Imagine what you will see if you win the Grand Prize of a 10 day Galapagos Island Excursion!  The more photos you upload, the better chance you have at winning.  For more information, “like” Transitions lenses on Facebook and follow them on Twitter, too!

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Transitions® lenses blogging program, to earn My SocialMoms Rewards Points. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own. To read more posts on this topic, click here.

 

Win a Book Lovers Getaway to Ontario

Once upon a time, I loved to read.  This was a simpler time, before Graduate School, before a full time job, before kids, and before life got more complicated.  One day I hope to rekindle my love for reading and dive back into the new books of my favorite authors.  Are you an avid reader?  Perhaps a fan of Joseph Boyden, celebrated author of “Three Day Road” and “Through Black Spruce”?

If you love to immerse yourself in discussions about your favorite novel or if book club night is your favorite day of the week, Ontario Travel has the best contest for you!  From now through August 17th, you can enter to win the Book Lovers Getaway Sweepstakes.  Wouldn’t it be great to spend some girl time with your 5 best friends and enjoy a 5-star treatment in Ontario, Canada?  Your book-loving group will get to spend four days and three nights in two beautiful settings, Ottawa and Muskoka.

The trip will begin in five-star luxury at the regal Fairmont Royal York in Toronto where you will enjoy dinner high atop the CN Tower before heading to Muskoka via float plane.  Muskoka brings  fine wine, dining, galleries and outdoor adventures at The Rosseau, which is Canada’s first JW Marriott Resort & Spa.  Included in your trip will be two memorable literary events, a private reception in Toronto and a lecture in Muskoka, with Joseph Boyden, celebrated author of Three Day Road and Through Black Spruce.

The prize is valued at $14,600 but proves to be a priceless experience for you and your guests.  Don’t forget to register now!

This post is the opinion of the Experimental Mommy.  While I have been compensated for my time and effort, all opinions remain 100% mine.

Once Upon a Time, I Wanted To Be A Cowgirl

When I was little, I had lofty goals.  However unrealistic, I had dreams of becoming a princess, a mermaid or a cowgirl.  Because I didn’t know any princes and lacked a tail, I figured I should set my eyes on cowgirl (after all, I did look good in the hat).  Many Halloween nights, I dressed as a cowgirl and pretended to ride off into the sunset…until I learned that I am terrified of horses.

Living in New Orleans, I have attended many Mardi Gras parades.  Almost all of these parades are lead by various Equestrian Clubs or policemen riding horseback.  I was always in awe of the gorgeous horses and beautiful costumes showcased during the parade!  If you’ve never been to Mardi Gras, the crowds are quite large and for a young girl being pushed towards a rather ginormous horse can be incredibly scary.  At that point, whenever the horses came by, I made my way to the back of the crowd to avoid being trampled.  And that ended my cowgirl career.

New Orleans Equestrian Center

Fortunately, my kids have not inherited my fear of horses and have even begged for riding lessons.  Here in New Orleans, we do have a great Riding Academy at the Equest Farm.  While we have yet to begin our classes, I have often thought of having a birthday party here for my girls.  Before classes begin, I will have to take a minute to check out the riding boots at Equestrian Clearance and Mark Todd Rugs to keep warm.

Have your kids taken riding lessons?  Any tips before we consider signing up?

 

There’s Still Time to More-imize your Vacation at Embassy Suites!

This Summer has definitely been a unique one for my family and I.  With the loss of my job, we found all four of us home all summer long…together.  While definitely had my reservations about how this would play out, I can honestly say that it’s been the best summer ever.

We were fortune enough to take several trips and spend some real quality time together.  My girls got to visit Walt Disney World for the very first time and it was indeed a magical experience.  Seeing Cinderella’s Castle through the eyes of a child is a totally different experience and a memory that I will cherish forever.

We also had the chance to visit Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia as my business partner and I did our first site visit for the new location of our blog conference.  What an incredible place!  Beyond the gorgeous scenery, Callaway offers a ton of adventure and outdoor activity such as golfing, hiking, bike riding, zip lines, beach fun and more!  It was a chance to really kick back away from technology.

Finally, we enjoyed a relaxing staycation at Embassy Suites right here in New Orleans.  With all of the traveling we have been doing, it was a treat to stay home and play tourist.  When I heard that Embassy Suites had won Parents Magazine “10 Top Hotel Chains for Families” in 2012, I couldn’t wait to see what our local site had to offer.  From the moment we walked in the hotel, we were impressed.  The lobby is stunning with a New Orleans themed mural and plenty of natural light.  Our room was massive including two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a private terrace.  My daughters were in heaven!

Embassy Suites definitely allowed us to “more-imize” our vacation by offering complimentary cooked to order breakfast and a nightly Manager’s Reception.  Both amenities saved us from long waits at local restaurants paying tourist prices.  Of course, the kids favorite feature of the hotel was the pool!  We spent a few hours relaxing and swimming which again saved us from expensive local attractions.

How do you “more-imize” your vacation?  Dr. Susan Biali, a health and happiness expert, suggests finding the perfect balance of activities and relaxation on your vacation.  Don’t schedule every minute of your day and let things happen naturally!  While our Disney vacation was a blast, it was far from relaxing.  I definitely over scheduled my family and will try to heed the advice of Dr. Biali next time!

With a few weeks left of Summer vacation, get out there and make the most of these precious days!  Follow Embassy Suites on Twitter and Facebook to learn more about the latest news and upcoming deals.

I wrote this review while participating in an Ambassador Program by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Embassy Suites Hotels and received a one-night complimentary stay at an Embassy Suites Hotel to facilitate my reviews and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Come Join Me On The Motherhood Tomorrow for a Live Chat!

This is the first summer that my entire family has been home every day together!  While it has been a ton of fun, I will admit that I could use some me time.  Generally, me time involves some retail therapy, a spa day or lunch with friends.  With our budget strings tightening, I am having to find more creative Do-It-Yourself ideas to pamper myself, but I could sure use some help!

Come join me tomorrow at The Motherhood for a live, all-text Talk on The Motherhood, called Treat Yourself to a Home Spa Day.  We’ll be trading ideas and answering questions about pampering yourself – no high-priced spa services required. Bring your ideas for the best nail polish, most effective homemade facials and more – and join us for ideas on various recipes and household items you can use to create your own scrubs and beauty products at home for some relaxing “me” time.

When: Tuesday, July 24, at 1 p.m. ET.  We will chat for 30 minutes!

Where: On The Motherhood, right here – http://bit.ly/N32lSO

Who: The all-text chat will be hosted by Angie Knutson of My Four Monkeys.  Co-hosting are these awesome people:

Felicia, Go Graham Go, http://www.gograhamgo.com
Jennifer, Mommy B Knows Best, http://www.mommybknowsbest.com
Liz, A Nut in a Nutshell, http://www.anutinanutshell.com
Renee, What Mommies Need, http://whatmommiesneed.com
Xenia, Thanks, Mail Carrier, http://www.thanksmailcarrier.com

Looking forward to seeing you there!

My Experience with the Walgreens Prescription Savings Club

For those of you that have followed this blog, you know that I began as “The Not-So-Blog.”  In time, my blog evolved (and so did my interests and goals) so I decided to re-brand as “Experimental Mommy” because I had been a lab technician in a Microbiology lab at the USDA for many years.  Unfortunately, due to recent Federal Government cutbacks, funding for my project was cut and I lost my job.  After 17 years with a stable career, I am now finding myself at a crossroads.

While I try to re-brand my life, I find humor in referring to my site as “Not-So-Experimental Mommy.”  I am trying to laugh at the situation, but in reality, I was the bread winner of the family and losing my salary, benefits and health insurance is no laughing matter.  For the first time in my life, I find myself uninsured.  While I am in the process of applying for a new health insurance policy, we found out that the new company will not cover my husband’s blood pressure medication (or any of his prescriptions for that matter).  Not cool.

In a time where we need to save money, I started to quickly scramble for ideas to help cover the cost of his medication.  Fortunately, I heard about the Walgreens Prescription Savings Club through Collective Bias and Social Fabric.  So, we quickly headed out the door to see what it was all about.

A new location of Walgreens just opened near my home and it is so nice!  Before we were even in the door, I saw my first sign for the Prescription Savings Club.  We can save on thousands of brand name drugs (including my husband’s medication) and all generic prescriptions.  I was happy to learn that the application process for #rxsavingsclub is super easy, in fact we didn’t have to do any paperwork at all.  The pharmacy tech took all of my husband’s information and we were done in less than 5 minutes.  The only requirement is that you cannot be a recipient of Medicaid or Medicare to be approved.  My husband’s individual plan was only $20 for the year.  The technician was very friendly and even helped us calculate how much we would save on my husband’s medication for the year which totaled over $100!

After finishing up at the pharmacy, we walked around Walgreens for a little while to soak up the air conditioning (this heat wave has been brutal!).  My daughters immediately were drawn to the ice cream..Ben and Jerry’s is our favorite!  But ultimately, they went for school supplies!  After a bit of shopping, we left to run the rest of our errands.  Our next stop was to be a local grocery store to return our Redbox movie, but we were so happy to see a Redbox kiosk right there at Walgreens!

I am happy to have learned about the Prescription Savings Club at Walgreens.  Hopefully, this will help us save money while my husband does not have any prescription coverage. Take a look at my entire shopping experience on Google +!  Don’t forget to follow Walgreens on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with the latest news and deals.

I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Walgreens. #CBias #SocialFabric.  All opinions are my own.

Jennifer Hudson and Pampers release “Lullaby and Goodnight” {Free Download}

When I first saw Jennifer Hudson on American Idol, I immediately fell in love with her voice.  Week after week, I was stunned by her talent and I am continually amazed with her accomplishments including a Grammy!  Now, Jennifer Hudson has teamed up with Pampers to create her rendition of “Lullaby and Goodnight” to honor the special bond between babies and their parents.  Check out the release below and make sure to head to Pampers’ Facebook Page for a free download!

The celebrate the release of the lullaby, Pampers is making a special donation of $100,000 to Jennifer Hudson’s charity, the Julian D. King Gift Foundation to benefit moms, toddlers and babies.

 This post is the opinion of Experimental Mommy.  I am a Pampers Baby Board Member.  All opinions are 100% mine.

“More-imize” Your Vacation with Embassy Suites

For my family, summertime means three things: heat, sno-balls and VACATION!  Because my husband is a teacher, we tend to take longer vacations in the summer when he and the kids are out of school.  But a recent study with Parents magazine shows that 56% of families consider themselves “vacation dabblers” and take multiple short vacations throughout the year.  While we tend to save vacation days for the summer, if we do venture out during the school year, the trip needs to be on a weekend where we only have to miss one or two days of work at most.  On these short jaunts, we definitely want to “more-imize” our vacation and make the MOST of every minute.

One thing we do to make a short vacation feel longer is to get the kids involved in planning.  Since my husband teaches geography, he loves turning road trips into a educational experience.  The kids love using iPad apps to plot the route we plan to travel and learn interesting things along the way.  When we return, we keep the vacation going by creating a photobook and reliving the good times!

Starting June 5th, Embassy Suites has pledged to help you get more out of your vacation…more fun, more time together and more indulgence!  Voted as on of the Top 10 Hotels for Families by Parents Magazine, Embassy Suites offers two room suites, cooked to order breakfast and a nightly Manager’s Reception complete with appetizers and beverages.  For my family, complimentary cooked to order breakfast is a huge selling point.  This saves us time seeking out a restaurant and waiting to be served allowing us more time for fun!

If you want to “more-imize” your vacation, Embassy  Suites is running a Sweepstakes on their Facebook page now through July 20th.  Simply upload a picture of your family’s “vacation face” and be entered to win one of five Grand Prizes including a week long stay at an Embassy Suite Hotel and $10,000 spending cash! With that kind of money, I could certainly “more-imize” my vacation!

Embassy Suites has also partnered with Dr. Susan Biali, a health and happiness expert, to share some tips for getting the most out of your time off.  She believes that you need at least three consecutive days off in order to reap the restorative benefits of a vacation.  One of my favorite tips from Dr. Biali is that ff you are a vacation dabbler and take small trips throughout the year, make sure you use those days to relax.  Don’t pack the day with too many activities which will only leave you more tired than when you came.  I can totally relate to this tip as we have just returned from a trip to Disney World.  It is very tempting to pack your days at Disney, but we made sure to return to the hotel mid-day and enjoy the amenities such as the pool in order to relax.

In the upcoming days, my family and I will be headed to a local Embassy Suites to enjoy a NOLA Staycation!  I can’t wait to share our experience with you!

I wrote this review while participating in an Ambassador Program by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Embassy Suites Hotels and received a one-night complimentary stay at an Embassy Suites Hotel to facilitate my reviews and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Pregnancy Just Got Easier with the Insception iPregnancy App

When I became pregnant with my first daughter, my mind started to race.  When should I call the Doctor?  Which prenatal vitamins should I take?  How do I select a pediatrician?  Should I register for baby gifts?  My world was about to change and I didn’t want to miss a thing.

As an obsessive list maker, I instantly bought a notebook and started jotting down things I needed to ask the Doctor or accomplish in the next 9 months.  I loved being able to cross things off my list (I’m a little geeky like that!).  My little pink notebook may seem a bit prehistoric, but this was before the days of the iPhone and iPad.  I would have gone nuts with the new Insception iPregnancy Checklist!

In partnership with Mount Sinai Hospital, Insception Cord Blood Program created an application that allows expecting mothers and fathers to record important dates, appointments and questions.  Soon to be parents can choose from over 100 tasks to add to their customizable checklists, sync with their calendars and schedule alerts to remind them of important deadlines or events.  And best of all?  You can strike the tasks out just like my little notebook as things are accomplished.

Ready to get organized?  The Insception iPregnancy Checklist can be download from iTunes for free!

 

Cool Off with Tide Coldwater Twitter Party! #TideCoolOff

On Thursday night, I will help my fellow New Orleanians get out of the heat at a Tide Coldwater “Cool Off” party!  With temperatures reaching 99 degrees, some of my friends and family will join me to soak up the air conditioning, eat some good ol’ fashioned NOLA Sno-balls and get creative at a local art studio.

Tide Coldwater is specially formulated to get those pesky summer stains out while washing in cold water which saves energy (and money).  Tomorrow night, Tide encourages you to “cool off” off your laundry and participate in a #TideCoolOff Twitter Party.  On Wednesday, June 27th at 9pmEST, join the hosts @MomTrends and @SavvySassyMoms to chat about staying fashionable and cool this Summer.  Make sure you RSVP and join us to win some awesome prizes such as a $100 Banana Republic Gift card and a $100 Sephora Gift Card to keep you looking beautiful this Summer.

 

See you there!

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