Thursday, September 18, 2014

Website Spotlight: ABCMouse

ABCmouse.com serves millions of children, including free access to ABCmouse.com in schools, libraries, Head Start centers, community centers, and foster care programs. Over the 2013-2014 school year, more than 65,000 teachers used ABCmouse.com in their classrooms. It's a comprehensive early education website available today for children ages 2–6 with over 5,000 interactive learning activities and 450 lessons, help;ing children master fundamentals in reading, math, beginning science, art, music, and more.

They also have free educational apps here for your kids to learn and have fun at the same time!

Sweepstakes: Stonyfield French Inspiration

Want a chance to win a French Inspiration Getaway for two to New Orleans? Show Stonyfield YOUR French Inspiration on Pinterest!

Below are the contest details:

1.     Enter the contest via the website link here
2.     Select one of the #CheatonGreek images on the website (or choose your own photo) to create a new Pinterest board. Be sure to title the board “French Inspiration”
3.     Pin French-inspired images to your board between now and September 28th.

4.     Stonyfield judges will choose the winning board based on creativity and adherence to the theme, so get creative and have some fun finding your French inspiration!

Parenting Pointers: Baby Safety Tips

September is National Baby Safety Month and I have some tips from parenting expert Rosie Pope:
  • No outerwear in car seats as fall approaches (specs not made for this so compression in accident can cause car seat ejection)
  •  No accessories on a car seat (injury and again car seats not designed to be safe with accessories - testing done with out) - many gadgets to entertain or for comfort are on the market for sale
  •  No snacking while cars are in motion (choking) and difficult to pull over to perform CPR
  •  No bumpers on cribs (suffocation)
  • No laying on a changing table with out using security strap (falling injury)
  • Rubber bands and balloons are some of the worst things to choke on as almost impossible to get up - be sure never to leave lying around of let little ones try and blow up balloons for parties - plus remove from all mail in your mailbox as often rubber banded together
  • No walking/running with a toothbrush - get your kids to sit down to brush eg kitchen table or lie on the bed
  • Do get a nozzle cover for your bath as kids usually at head height and can fall back or hit when playing
  • Never put your baby in he bath without checking temperature on sensitive part of your body eg underside if wrist - your toe or finger is too tough
  • Don't bathe or shower your kids in a lightening storm
  • Inspect and replace bike helmets after crash or when foam is crushed. Regular inspection needed as kids may have not realized they hit it - same goes for throwing helmets

She's launching new fall and maternity baby lines this month, so check out what great things she has to offer!

Fun Freetime: Fix It and Finish It

Fix It & Finish It” is hosted by Antonio Sabato Jr, known for Janet Jackson’s “Love Would Never Do Without You” video and turns on legendary shows like Melrose Place and Ally McBeal. Every day of every week he will be in a different city, finding homes, cabins, RV’s, tree houses needing a makeover inside and out. Antonio and his team of contractors and designers will go in and create magic by way of their talent to turn something around in a very short period of time. I had a chance to interview Antonio to learn more.

  1. Why did you want to get involved with this show? I really liked the producer, Scott Sternberg and when I met the people at Bellum and Raycom, I felt that their heart was in the right place and that we could make an interesting show.
  2. How did you make the transition from actor to home improvement host? It took a little getting used to but I love it. You’re exercising a different muscle - a familiar one but a different one.  I love to learn new skills and I’m learning a lot hosting this show.
  3. What are some of your favorite quick home makeover tips? Painting can transform a room in no time and it’s probably the easiest and cheapest makeover you can give to a space. A little paint and moving furniture in or out of the room can work wonders. It’s also fun to find an old piece furniture and repurpose it - like turning an old set of drawers into a storage unit for bread and vegetables in the kitchen.



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Contest: XPRIZE

XPRIZE has joined forces with Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures and Disney Corporate Citizenship for today’s launch of a nationwide video contest designed to find the real-life counterparts to the animated heroes that will soon burst onto the big screen in “BIG HERO 6,” an action-packed comedy-adventure from Disney opening November 7, 2014.

The DISNEY BIG HERO 6 – XPRIZE CHALLENGE invites young people between the ages of 8 and 17 to harness their creativity and come up with innovative ideas to tackle the world’s biggest challenges using science, technology, engineering, art and/or mathematics. 

The six winners, the real-life “Big Hero 6,” will travel to Los Angeles to walk the red carpet at the film’s Hollywood premiere in early November, go behind the scenes and meet the creative minds at both Walt Disney Animation Studios and Walt Disney Imagineering, join a special “Visioneering™” experience at XPRIZE headquarters, plus other prizes.

Video Submissions will be judged on innovation, creativity and presentation. Twenty (20) finalists will be selected based on the highest scores resulting from preliminary scoring by XPRIZE judges.  In mid October, a panel of luminary S.T.E.A.M. expert judges will evaluate the twenty finalists’ submissions and six (6) winners will be selected through a combination of the expert judges’ scores and public voting results.

In addition to the trip to Los Angeles, the six winners will receive reimbursement for one (1) Contestant registration for FIRST® LEGO® League for the competition season 2014-2015 in the US or Canada, and a Special littleBits® NASA Space Kit and cloudBit™ Starter Kit.

The contest is open for submissions from September 17, 2014, to October 12, 2014. 

Participating kids will compete in two divisions: Junior Division (8-12 years of age), and Senior Division (13–17 years of age). All entrants must have prior consent from their parent or legal guardian in order to participate in the challenge. Registration details are available at xprizechallenge.org/bighero6.  

The video submissions may involve a short story, sculpture, drawing, model, robot or whatever method best communicates the idea in the most creative way (please see Official Rules for further details, restrictions and limitations). They will be scored on how well they explain the problem, show their solution, and explain what they learned and the impact their idea would have on themselves and the world. The more creative and engaging their presentation is, the better their chance of winning.

Supporting XPRIZE Partners include FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), littleBits Electronics and the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Challenge registration and video submissions start September 17, 2014, and end October 12, 2014.  Public Voting will start October 15, 2014 and end October 19, 2014. Open to legal residents of US and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are ages 8 through 17 before September 17, 2014.  Parental consent is required.  Travel must occur on November 2-6, 2014 (or such other dates designated by Sponsor).  For details, restrictions, and limitations and to enter, please visit Official Rules at: xprizechallenge.org/bighero6. Sole Sponsor: XPRIZE.
 
ABOUT “BIG HERO 6” MOVIE:
From Walt Disney Animation Studios, the team behind “Frozen” and “Wreck-It Ralph,” comes “Big Hero 6,” an action-packed comedy-adventure about the special bond that develops between Baymax (voice of Scott Adsit), a plus-sized inflatable robot, and prodigy Hiro Hamada (voice of Ryan Potter). When a devastating event befalls the city of San Fransokyo and catapults Hiro into the midst of danger, he turns to Baymax and his close friends adrenaline junkie Go Go Tomago (voice of Jamie Chung), neatnik Wasabi (voice of Damon Wayans Jr.), chemistry whiz Honey Lemon (voice of Genesis Rodriguez) and fanboy Fred (voice of T.J. Miller). Determined to uncover the mystery, Hiro transforms his friends into a band of high-tech heroes called “Big Hero 6.” Inspired by the Marvel comics of the same name, and featuring breathtaking action with all the heart and humor audiences expect from Walt Disney Animation Studios, “Big Hero 6” is directed by Don Hall (“Winnie the Pooh”) and Chris Williams (“Bolt”), and produced by Roy Conli (“Tangled”). The film hits theaters in 3D on Nov. 7, 2014. For more information, check out www.Disney.com/BigHero6, like us on Facebook www.facebook.com/DisneyBigHero6, and follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DisneyAnimation.

About XPRIZE:
Founded in 1995, XPRIZE is the leading organization solving the world’s Grand Challenges by creating and managing large-scale, high-profile, incentivized prize in five areas: Learning; Exploration; Energy & Environment; Global Development; and Life Sciences. Active prizes include the $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE, the $10 million Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE, the $2.25 million Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE, and the $2 million Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE. For more information, go to www.xprize.org. XPRIZE® is a registered trademark of XPRIZE Foundation, Inc.

World Wisdom: Vail Resorts EpicPromise Initiative

This Saturday, thousands of Vail Resorts, Inc. employees will gather to complete 13 trail, habitat or school restoration projects across the U.S. and in Jamaica to commemorate Vail Resorts’ newly launched EpicPromise, a new brand platform designed to engage resort guests and residents of the communities where it operates in one of the company’s core values, “Do good.”

Over the last five years, Vail Resorts has consistently demonstrated a commitment to sustainability through environmental and community support, including:
•    Over $7 million in contributions to more than 235 non-profit partners annually
•    Energy reduction of 10 percent and a pledge to reduce another 10 percent by 2020
•    More than $3.5 million raised through Vail Resorts’ guest donation program to sustain forest health*
•    A leadership role in the restoration of the Hayman Fire area located on the Front Range of Colorado which improved the water source for 75 percent of Coloradoans
•    Donate 20,000 company-sponsored volunteer hours annually

EpicPromise will highlight this already strong commitment and expand it to engage the millions of guests the company hosts each year as stewards of the natural environment and local communities.

Capitalizing on Vail Resorts’ Epic brand, EpicPromise will become an integrated part of the guest experience from its dedicated website, EpicPromise.com, to Ski and Ride School, to on-mountain educational signage. Through these actions, Vail Resorts hopes to inspire every guest to identify a personal sustainability commitment and take action.

About Vail Resorts, Inc. (NYSE: MTN)
Vail Resorts, Inc., through its subsidiaries, is the leading mountain resort operator in the United States. The Company's subsidiaries operate the mountain resorts of Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada; Park City and Canyons  in Utah; Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mt. Brighton in Michigan; and the Grand Teton Lodge Company in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The Company's subsidiary, RockResorts, a luxury resort hotel company, manages casually elegant properties. Vail Resorts Development Company is the real estate planning, development and construction subsidiary of Vail Resorts, Inc. Vail Resorts is a publicly held company traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: MTN). The Vail Resorts company website is www.vailresorts.com and consumer website is www.snow.com.

* Right now, resort guests and pass holders can take action through the Company’s guest donation program. When purchasing any of the Epic Pass products, or when buying advance tickets online or staying in a Vail Resorts lodging property this winter, guests have the option to contribute a $1 to forest conservation and trail restoration efforts in Colorado, Utah and Tahoe. To date, these donations have amounted to more than $3.5 million to sustain forest health.

Thrifty Thinking: Money-Saving Tips for Holiday Decorating

The arrival of autumn also brings with it the beginning of the fall and winter holidays. What with Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's all falling within three months of each other, decorating for each of these holidays can quickly become expensive.

According to the National Retail Federation, consumers spent over $602 billion on decorations for the winter holidays in 2013. That equated to an average of $730 per person spent on gifts, food, decorations and miscellaneous holiday items.

But saving money on your holiday décor and entertaining supplies is not as difficult as you might think. For one thing, there are certainly ways to get double-duty out of your holiday decorations. And you can save a bundle simply by knowing when to buy the things you're most likely to spend the most on. For more on these and other ways to cut costs this holiday season, consider the following.

Maximize Your Materials
Halloween items like pumpkins are easily reused as-is on a Thanksgiving harvest table and then adjusted again with simple craft materials for Christmas and New Year's. For my part, I'm planning on getting a bunch of little pumpkins and using them for all four upcoming holidays like so:
  • Halloween: They'll be great displayed in a large glass hurricane vase on my coffee table;
  • In between Halloween and Thanksgiving: I'll create an arrangement of them on a silver platter placed atop my sideboard in the dining room;
  • Thanksgiving: I can merge them with a larger cornucopia centerpiece arrangement on the dining room table for Thanksgiving dinner;
  • Christmas: Following Thanksgiving, I'll decorate the pumpkins with shimmery metallic paint or glitter and glue and incorporate them with fir branches and LED strings on my mantle;
  • New Year's: Finally, I'll transfer them over to my living room windowsills along with some bright candlesticks to celebrate the coming of the new year with my guests on New Year's Eve.
You can also repeat the above process with other harvest décor items like berries, leaves and gourds to complement the pumpkins perfectly and round out the multi-use aspect of your decorations.
Additionally, there's no reason why you can't fully incorporate the items from one holiday into another. For example, you can create a completely customized DIY Halloween costume out of Christmas tree ornaments!


You can also purchase one wreath form and change it up for each holiday. Use floral pins and floral wire that are perfect for temporary adhesion instead of attaching things permanently with hot glue. You can easily remove items and replace them with others to suit the next seasonal celebration.
Finally, go flameless with your candles and place LED candlesticks and votives inside your Halloween Jack-o-Lantern and then transfer them to your mantle or windowsill for the winter holidays. Not only is this flameless option safer for kids and pets but it also cuts down the costs with purchasing candles and replacements once they burn down.

Scout the Sales
In addition to getting multiple uses out of items, you can also save on your decorations by knowing the best times to buy certain holiday items. Naturally, you're going to want to stay away from perishables like candy, cookies and flavored popcorn, but there are plenty of suitable items that you can stock up on through over-stock blowouts and after-holiday sales:
  • Wrapping paper
  • Gift bags and boxes
  • Tissue paper
  • Ribbons and bows
  • Tape
  • Gift tags and Greeting Cards
  • Ornaments and tinsel
  • Wreaths
  • String LED lights
Of course, after all of these holidays in a row, you may be feeling the wallet crunch and simply don't have the funds to purchase excess items in after-holiday sales. One way to combat that is to wait for later holidays that utilize the same colors as traditional Christmas decorations like red and green.
For example, you might find great deals on red and white (or pink if you're like me and prefer unconventional Christmas décor) decorations after Valentine's Day and green and white or yellow products after St. Patrick's Day.

Finally, another major component of holiday spending is gifts. For the home improvement aficionado or DIYer in your household, November and December have traditionally been great months to find deals and discounts on tools and hardware. And let's face it: Men tend to get more excited about power tools than trimming trees with tinsel!

In general, the key to the savings game is planning ahead, so consider starting a "gift fund" that you can contribute to throughout the year and thus have the money readily available for taking advantage of those sales when they arise.

What are some of your cost-cutting tips for decking out your home for the holidays?


As a frugal DIYer, Rheney Williams likes to write for The Home Depot about creating great décor on a dime. She shares great tips on budget holiday decorating for inside and outside of the home. To see some of the decorations that Rheney talks about in this article, please go to the homedepot.com holiday pages.

Giveaway: Treasury of Bible Stories

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”
I recently had the chance to review Treasury of Bible Stories by Kelly Pulley. Like many children's Bibles, it pulls out the most familiar, commonly read stories of the Bible. Unlike others, the stories are told in rhyme form. For little kids, this really helps keep their interest in the rhythm and cadence of reading in ways that prose sometimes doesn't. The animations are full of color and activity, which also helps engage the youngest readers. It's targeted to kids 4-8, but would be a great family bedtime activity for kids of all ages.

I have a chance to give away a copy of this book. If you're interested, leave a comment with your child's favorite Bible story. Deadline is September 22nd.

Shopping Savings: Soothie Suckers

For a limited time you can get FREE SHIPPING when you purchase 2 or more boxes of  Soothie Suckers Herbal Ice Pops from Soothie Suckers. You can also save 20% with code HEALTHYFALL through November 15th. 

Parenting Pointers: Reactive Attachment Disorder

Reactive Attahment Disorder Infographic

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