Thursday, December 25, 2008

My M&M's

Christmas at our house is steeped in tradition. From the annual waffle feed at which the extended family gathers on Christmas Eve, to the stockings filled to the gills with kitch-y fun, we are a people of structure and routine.

For as long as I can remember the girls in by family, Big and Little, have presented my father with very predictable gifts; Large bags of M&M's (one peanut, one regular) and jumbo-sized bottles of Old Spice. One year, we all got together and decided that we would try to think outside the box and give Daddy something unexpected to open on the big day.

Always gracious, he opened his gifts and thanked us all. It wasn't until later that we realized he counted on those gifts for his supply and didn't have anymore Old Spice. Sometimes, it's okay to be predictable.

Mars' M&M's have now given us the option to shake things up a bit on the same old, same can personalize the M&M's that you give! When I got the email from MomCentral about the chance to spread the word about this fun option for the holiday season, I emailed back as soon as it hit my inbox, with a passionate plea about the love my dad has for his favorite chocolate-y treat. I was able to pick my own colors and personalize it with a short message from the grandkids. (You can also put a photo on the M&M's but I wasn't placing the order from my home computer.)

At $14.95 per bag, it's not the cheapest option for a bag 'o' candy for the stocking, but it's a fun treat for the M&M lover who can truly appreciate it. When we receive the candy, I'll post a picture of the enjoyment en masse.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Safeway PowerPump

Growing up in a small town, new construction was always big doin's. When they announced the impending arrival of a new Safeway, it was certainly the talk of the town. While we already had a Safeway at the other end of the main drag, it was older and was slated to be torn down, with the property being sold and a beautiful new library built in it's place. The new one would be larger and have gas pumps and Starbucks! We knew we had arrived when there was a 'bucks looming on our horizon.

Being at the age where cruising (not commuting) was our activity du jour, having sufficient gas was of the utmost concern. Being able to afford it went hand-in-hand. When Safeway's gas came to town, you could get a certain amount off each gallon when you used your Safeway card.

Fast forward to today, when running around checking off your to-do list and scurrying your kids from one activity to the next uses almost as much gas as when you turned up the volume on Best of Bass volume 12 and drove up and down Adams Ave with reckless abandon, and the search for gas discounts is still there.

Safeway is currently running a promotion on their PowerPump rewards through December 25th, so that shoppers can earn double points. For every $100 you spend on gift cards, you earn an additional gift. They have gift cards for stores from Starbucks to Home Depot; sure to fulfill the needs of everyone on your list. While there is a constant debate about the etiquette of giving gift cards, I know that I love receiving them so that I can save for the next big thing. I've found that a great use for them, is if you're making the same gift for several people and just need something to augment them. (i.e. Making a gift for your child's teacher and then adding a $10 Starbucks card.)

While there is not a Safeway near my home in Mass, I'll be home for the holidays and will be sure to stop in and earn free gas for the drive back to P-town when we fly out. Each purchase you make, will help earn more gas discounts when you use your club card so that it can be tracked.

Happy Shopping!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Baby Einstein

When H was about 18 months old, J, H and I were at a food tasting at a friend's house to support another friend's budding catering business. There were several kids there, and the hostess offered to put in a Baby Einstein movie to occupy them so we could visit a little more freely. I realized at that time that I had no idea if that would entertain H because I hadn't had H watch a movie before. Yes, I'd had the TV on in his presence, but we hadn't really sat down to watch something together for him before.

The hostess laughed saying that it was because I was being a good mom by not having my child watch TV yet, and I wish that were the case. The truth is in the go-go-go life of working full-time and socializing on the weekends, I felt like H was sometimes an extension of me, and just did what I was doing. Sure, I went to the pumpkin patch and other places I may not have had I not had a toddler, but I can't say that I felt like I carved out time for he and I to do toddler things. We didn't watch PBS kids in the morning, no Elmo's Potty Time or Letter Factory. No. All those things would start happening when I was home full-time. Alas...

Baby Einstein is celebrating their tenth anniversary. Ten years of creating books, movies and musical CD's, in addition to a lot of interactive toys, that aim to stimulate children in an age-appropriate manner. Ultimately, however, the goal is to create an opportunity for parents to have structured interactions with their babies and toddlers.

When I got the package, H was very excited, asking as I unwrapped the cellophane from the Special Edition Baby Mozart "Is that my surprise?!" Feeling the remembered guilt wash over me from that long ago incident, I realized I may have missed the interest boat with him for this particular DVD. I told him that he was welcome to watch it, and he sat dutifully for about ten minutes before finally asking "Are there going to be any words?" C, on the other hand, was enraptured. The colors and shapes that rolled gently across the screen had him mesmerized.

I know you're supposed to use it as a time to spend just with your baby, but Bless me Father, for I have sinned; I have a way to take a leisurely shower (I always showered daily before, I just get to enjoy it now) sans tears (mine and C's) and I even get to shave my legs everyday! I spend the first five minutes or so of the video talking about the different images on the screen and then I politely excuse myself to engage in my daily ablutions.

The board books, on the other hand, have been great for one-on-one time. Along with Baby Mozart, we were sent Baby Einstein Touch and Feel Farm Animals; more than anything it's nice sometimes to just be given a jumping off point...I have several textures in the book to have C try out, and then I can find other things around the house to mix it up a little bit. We already owned Mirror Me, the book about mimicking different silly faces, and H is still a big fan of it.

Lastly, we got the Lullaby Classics CD. I actually already owned this, and have to admit that I don't love it. I prefer some of the more fluid renditions of the classics but the arrangements have been "tailored for little ears" so I'll just get over myself on this one.

With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it's so easy to get swept away in all the parties and obligations. Helping our kids discover the world in which we live may be our greatest responsibility as parents, but it doesn't have to feel like a chore. There are a lot of great resources out there to make our job fun, and Baby Einstein is one of them; I'm pretty sure it's because it was created by a mom!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Holiday Gift Guide

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'Tis better to give than to receive, right? Well, that's all well and good, but it's sometimes and agonizing process to select the perfect gift for everyone on your list! MomCentral has compiled an amazing list of gifts for every category or recipient on your list at a huge range of prices and interests.

MomCentral has special daily giveaways with thousands of dollars worth of products in multiple daily drawings. Each provides the chance to win an entire gift package that includes gifts worth hundreds of dollars - a great way to combat financial stress this holiday season. We invite you and all of your friends and family to take a look at these great gift ideas and enter for a chance to win. Not only have they made the list for you, but they're giving you a chance to win some of the featured products!

To be eligible to win the daily prizes, participants must register at Mom Central, log-in, and leave a comment on the review post. If you want even more chances for some free swag this holiday season, you can 'tweet' (using Twitter) or email your friends about the giveaway. In order to earn the additional entry, simply go back to the Mom Central Review blog and leave a second comment letting us know.

Happy Shopping! (only 15 shopping days left!)