Walt Disney World New Fantasyland and Granting Holiday Wishes with GM Northeast – A Very Merry Giveaway!

Last week I attended the Grand Opening of the New Fantasyland at Walt Disney World.  I hadn’t been to Walt Disney World in probably 20 years or so.  My daughters had never been.  I still remember walking through Cinderella Castle the very first time – I was 6 years old – and seeing Fantasyland spread out on either side of me.  It’s so vast and unbelievable that first time.

castle

This trip was no less magical, and maybe even more so watching my daughters experience it for the first time.

There are a couple of words that get repeated over and over again when you are at Disney World – wishes, imagination and dreams.  At the core of Fantasyland are those ideas that form the foundation of fairy tales.  New Fantasyland expands on these themes in dramatic and incredibly engaging ways.  The expansion of Dumbo into an entire Circus experience is whimsical and wonderful.

dumbo

Belle’s Cottage, the Beast’s Castle and the little French village built around the Beauty and the Beast area is truly enchanting.  And Ariel’s Under the Sea Ride brings you into that undersea world completely.  It feels new in every way – from the technology to the artistic details.

bellemermaid

For us, this trip was truly a holiday wish come true, an amazing vacation filled with take our breath away moments – especially the end of the evening castle projection show on Cinderella Castle.

Disney hosted me and my family for this trip, but all starry-eyed opinions are my own.

GIVEAWAY:

onwish

Now, I feel especially lucky to help grant a wish to one of my lucky readers.  I have partnered with General Motors Northeast to pick one reader for their Grant One Wish program who will win a $500 Amex Gift Card and a one week car loan from GM Northeast to help make their holiday wishes come true.

Want to visit family?  Drive around to volunteer and do good this season?  Take a holiday road trip?  What would you do with a fab car for a week and $500?  I can’t wait to hear all about it!

Method of entry:

  • You must follow me on twitter @beccasara
  • Tweet your holiday wish and include the hashtag #GMNER and my handle: @beccasara, then leave a comment below with the link to the tweet.  (to do this click on the time stamp of your tweet and you will be taken to the tweet’s url.)

Additional Entries:

  • Like KidzVuz.com on Facebook and leave a comment with your Facebook name so it can be verified.

Stand Out!

  • Add a picture to your tweet or link to a video on YouTube telling me and GM your big holiday wish.  Just don’t forget the hashtag #GMNER and @beccasara so we can find it!  You’ll get 5 extra entries for going the extra mile! Make sure to leave a comment below with a link to the image-filled tweet.

Eligibility:  Winner MUST be 21 years or older and live in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut or Washington, D.C. areas.  Employees, and their relatives, of GM and Beccarama.com are not allowed to enter.  Contest ends on December 17, 2012 at 12:00pm EST.  Winner will be chosen at random using random.org.  Prize to be provided by GM Northeast.

GM Northeast sponsored this giveaway and I was provided with a car loan in exchange for hosting this contest. 

GOOD LUCK!

Is that a Browser in Your Pocket? The Kingston urDrive Review and Giveaway


Thank you to Kingston for sponsoring this review. Please click here to learn more about Kingston. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. All opinions are my own – as always.

I have a lot of projects to juggle.  Between Beccarama, the Blogging Angels and KidzVuz I have files all over the place, browser bookmarks that make my head spin and audio and video files mucking up various clouds, desktops and inboxes.  Keeping track of all of it is not easy.  But, worse is when I’m somewhere without my computer and all of my saved preferences and bookmarks at my fingertips.  Is there anything worse than being on a foreign computer and not being able to access the files you need?  No.

So, I was excited to try out the Kingston urDrive Data Traveler and see if this itty-bitty USB drive could really help me sort this all out and give me some miniature portability for all of these projects.  First, I should mention, that it only works on a PC.  Second – it’s tiny. Really tiny.  But, it fits on a key chain so you can easily have it with you at all times.  The urDrive is a free, pre-loaded application for organizing and exploring apps, games, and music. It transforms Kingston USB drives into active storage devices– rather than the “old school” device used only to store and transfer data. It has some interesting programs and apps like Facebook, twitter, YouTube and a whole kids section called Fooz Kids which allows for all sorts of parental controls and games.  Now, picture this – you get to your in-laws’ house and instead of getting on their PC and having to use their version of IE or Firefox you plug in your urDrive and it launches your personal browser – with your Twitter and Facebook accounts so you never leave a password or username behind. You aren’t being cookied on their browser or leaving an internet history behind.  Cool right?

Or better yet – your kids go over to grandma’s house and who knows what they’ll get up to on her computer – but instead they can plug in the urDRive and have their kids’ sites already there – plus photos and videos they want to share with grandma.  All on the little drive, easily organized and easy to use.  The urDrive is really perfect for sharing with family when you’re traveling since it’s all stored on one small drive, and you have your personalized features too.

There is definitely some time you have to spend on the set-up.  Like all new devices, the more time you put into personalization the better it will work for you.  The kids section is for younger kids – older than 8 will most likely find it too restrictive and babyish – but for younger kids it’s a great piece of mind when they use other people’s computers that most likely have no parental controls set up at all.  Now you want one right?

Win a 5-pack of Kingston urDrives. They’re such an obvious stocking stuffer for family and friends too! 

To enter:

Mandatory entry: leave a comment below telling me how you currently share photos and videos with friends and family.

For additional entries:

Follow me on Twitter (click the widget) and let me know you did with a comment below.

Like the KidzVuz Facebook Page: Just click on the widget in my right sidebar, and let me know you did!

Only open to US residents, 18 years or older.  Giveaway ends on 11/20/2011 at 11:59 pm.  Winner will be chosen by random.org and has 2 business days to respond and verify their eligibility.  Kingston is the sponsor of this giveaway.  Beccarama will in no way be held legally responsible for any disputes, claims, unreceived shipments or other legal issues arising from this giveaway.

Want to Win a Gorgeous Dell Inspiron Laptop? Then, Listen Up!

Over at my podcast The Blogging Angels we are dishing on Twitter parties and blog giveaways.  Shockingly we have a slew of opinions about these social media tools and the right way to do them.  But, we couldn’t just sit back and talk about them – we decided to host a giveaway of our own!  Thanks to our friends at Intel we are giving away a super beautiful, really fast 17-inch Dell Inspiron Laptop with an Intel Core i5 processor and Intel WiDi (that’s wireless display for you Luddites – with an adapter you can stream from your laptop to your TV -yup, it is cool).

So click on over the The Blogging Angels to find out how to enter (and if you listen to the podcast you will learn about the extra 2 ways to enter the giveaway!)  We’re moms, we believe in rewarding good listeners!

Good Luck!

The No Schlepping, No Shipping Gift Guide (With a Giveaway of Course)

We’ll be lighting the menorah on Wednesday night while leftover cranberry sauce still jiggles in the back of the fridge.  Even the procrastinators have an excuse this year (not like Christmas which is always the 25th, I mean come on it’s not like you didn’t see it coming!)  So for all of you who have been caught by surprise here is my no schlep, no ship gift guide when it’s gotta be there ASAP but you don’t want to get off your ASS to get it -or even pay for shipping.  Good for Xmas (and those sneaky birthdays too)

Many of my specific suggestions are NYC-centric but you can take the idea and Google away locally!

1 – Museum or Zoo Membership: I love NYC for the incredibly rich array of cultural institutions that enrich every borough.  But, no matter where you live chances are there’s a museum, zoo or other site that your loved ones would go to on a regular basis.  Membership is a fantastic way to give all year long, plus it’s tax deductible and takes up no room in the house!  Win-win all around.  And sometimes they throw in a T-Shirt too!

My faves: The American Museum of Natural History and Wildlife Conservation Society for 4 NYC zoos & aquarium

2- Theater Tickets – It’s not just a gift, it’s an outing.  Have a drama queen, a gleek or budding musical genuis in your midst? Have theater loving friends?  Take them to a show.  Many children’s theaters have subscription series so you can enjoy shows all year round.  Or make a special day of it and throw in dinner or lunch as well.

My faves: The New Victory Theater Subscription for kids and Roundabout Theater Subscription for adults

3 – Groceries – OK – that sounds weird right?  But who wouldn’t love their groceries covered at least once?  Takes a big bite out of the family budget so not having to worry about it for at least a week is a true gift.

My Fave: Fresh Direct - It’s not just groceries, it’s wine and prepared food too – delivered exactly when you want it to your door.

4- Design Your Own Sneakers – I almost didn’t put this in because it is my go to gift of the moment.  So, if you’re invited to the same parties as I am you are not allowed to give this – but if you don’t even know me you should jump on this!  Send a $75 e-gift certificate to the fashionista of your choice and they can go online to design their very own custom Converse sneaks from tongue to sole and everything in between.

Also Check OutNike for pricier but equally fab custom sneakers, especially for narrower feet.

5- Geek Out Your Tot – Kids love to hear the same books over and over and over again.  But parents, well sometimes reading The Night Before Christmas for the 1000th time can be a chore.  Fortunately you can let Meryl Streep do the reading for you.  Ruckus Media has created gorgeous storybook apps for the ipad and iphone like The Velveteen Rabbit and Tom Thumb that your child will pour over again and again – and you can read Us Weekly The New York Times in peace. (See the GIVEAWAY below!)

Also Check out: iKnowDogs – if your kid is a freaky dog lover like mine & iLive Animal World for animal loving little ones

6- Give for the Sake Of Giving – Find a charity and give in honor of someone.  Or better yet, let them decide and pick with you.  It’s a proactive easy way to embrace the meaning of the holidays.

My Faves: World Wildlife Fund – My girls love adopting an animal every year & Donors Choose – help schools, help kids.

7- Who Says School is Boring? – Have a friend or family member that’s dying to learn how to knit?  Or ice skate?  Or become the next Martha Stewart?  If you have an expertise you can share then offer up your services!  Or offer to pay for the class of their choice at a nearby gym, cooking school or community center.

My Faves: Institute of Culinary Education Recreational Cooking and Baking Classes & Rising Shutterbug private photography lessons for kids and adults to finally learn all the cool tricks your camera can do! (full disclosure – taught by my sister!)

Cranwell Resort

8-Leaving on a Jet Plane or a Car – Travel is something they never outgrow.  Give your miles or points to a family member or treat them to a trip (even to see you).  Or how about a weekend away for your grown kids with babysitting thrown in?  Just a thought.  hint, hint.

My Faves: Cranwell Resort & Spa in the Berkshires – a four season gorgeous escape with or without kids & Luxury Link so they can get away and get a great deal.

9 – Say OOHHMMM – This guide is all about no stress so why not give the least stressful gift around?  A SpaFinder gift certificate – emailed to their inbox of course.  They can pick a spa closest to them from 100s of choices.  And again, if you throw in some babysitting you eliminate half the stress before they walk out the door.

My Fave: Bliss Spa – They warm the massage tables and put paraffin booties on your feet.  Heaven.

10 – When All Else Fails - The Amazon electronic gift card.  It’s not original or sexy but it does the trick.  One click and boom!  it’s in their inbox ready to be spent.  What could be better than a shopping spree on somebody else’s dime?

And now the GIVEAWAY!

You can win 5 Gorgeous Ruckus Media storybook apps for iphone/ipad?  These are truly gorgeous apps that fully capture the beauty of classic stories with talent like Robin Williams and Meryl Street reading the texts.  Your child will love them!  Just leave a comment below telling me what your “Go To” gift of the moment is and be entered to win!

Want an extra entry?  Follow me on Twitter and let me know you did here.

Contest ends December 8th.

Here’s a sneak peek at The Velveteen Rabbit:

Good luck!  And check out my other giveaway for Petz Nursery 2 for DS

Just Dance Kids! Another Great UbiSoft Game Giveaway!

One of my fears as a mom is that as winter approaches my daughters will spend more and more time indoors being sedentary with unspent energy making all of us a little nuts.  So, I love Wii games that get my girls moving.  Just Dance Kids is one of those games.  First of all my 8 year old daughters are very wary of games that could seem too young.  Just Dance Kids has two modes – older and younger kid, which instantly put them at ease and garnered some “cool” points.  On the mom-of-the-80’s plus side there are songs like Holiday and Mickey in the dance list – though not sung by Madonna or Toni Basil unfortunately – but still some songs for a mom who remembers wearing leggings the first time around!

Just Dance Kids is not easy – and best of all not easy to cheat.  My daughters found out long ago that they could cheat the Wii by just moving the remote and not their whole body.  That’s hard to do with this game.  You’ve got to keep up and keep your body moving to get the remote going the right way and earn your points.  The only downside is that there is no practice or learning session, you just jump right and in and try to follow the lead dancer.  It’s not that easy to pick up even on the easy level.  Some rehearsing would have been nice.  But, overall the game kept them dancing, and moving.  On a cold, rainy day it was just the thing to work off those Turkey Day leftovers and keep cabin fever at bay.

Want to win your very own copy of Just Dance Kids for the Wii?  Just leave a comment below telling me your (or your kids’) favorite dance hit!  Want an extra entry?  Follow me on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know you did!

This contest is now closed.

Want to win even more?  Check out my UbiSoft Petz Nursery 2 Ninetendo DS giveaway too!

While Ubisoft sponsored this review, the opinions I’ve expressed here are solely my own and represent my honest viewpoint. Ubisoft, Clever Girls Collective and I promote Blog With Integrity.


Kicking off the Holidays: Petz Nursery 2 Giveaway

This post is part of a sponsored series from Ubisoft, celebrating “12 Days of Giveaways.” See below for how you can enter up to 12 times to win fun and family-friendly video games.

I am allergic to dogs, and cats, and rabbits, and hamsters…you get the idea.  So of course my daughters are obsessed with all of those pets that will never be a part of our home.  And trust me there are days where they’d probably trade me in for a puppy.  But they have learned to transfer their obsession to the virtual world and Petz Nursery is one of their all time favorite games for the Nintendo DS.  Just in time for this holiday season Petz Nursery 2 is hitting the shelves and they couldn’t be more excited!

In Petz Nursery 2 you can:

  • Take care of up to 22 baby petz and help them grow. As newborns, your baby petz will need to be picked up and played with, and eventually taught to crawl. When night comes, help them fall asleep by rocking them or singing them a lullaby.
  • Unlock never-before-seen exotic petz. Animals such as baby pandas, tigers, polar bears, and leopard cubs, you will be able to pamper wolf cubs, piglets, and 4 different breeds of penguins!
  • Play activities with two babies or just one; but make sure you give both babies attention or one will develop faster than the other.
  • Send your baby petz to the Petz virtual world, Petz World, and unlock exclusive exotic animals.

Sounds like hours of fun right?  And all without the sneezing, itchy eyes and 3 am walkings!

You can purchase Petz Nursery 2 at Amazon or Toys R Us but best of all you can enter right here to win your very own hypoallergenic copy!

Enter the Petz Nursery 2 Giveaway by leaving a comment below telling me a little something about your family’s pet – or why you don’t have one.  A winner will be selected at random on Dec. 3rd as part of the UbiSoft “12 Days Of Giveaways” promotion. (open to residents of the continental US only)

You can also win Just Dance Kids for the Wii on Beccarama through Nov. 30th. Click here.

Want more ways to win great games for the whole family including Just Dance 2 (Wii), Battle of Giants: Dinosaur Strike (Wii), Petz Fantasy (DS) and Petz Nursery (DS)? Visit each of these blogs during our 12 Days of Giveaways from now through December 3!

Rookie Moms
motherbumper
DaDa Rocks
Crash Test Mommy
Scraps of My Geek Life
Mommies With Style
The Fairly Odd Mother
All Things Fadra
The Lemonade Stand
Mom to the Screaming Masses
Romy Raves

I was selected to participate in this sponsored series by Ubisoft and Clever Girls Collective. I received a video game and compensation for my participation in this program. We believe in Blog With Integrity.

Back To School Resolutions (And a Snapfish Giveaway to Help)

Yes a good portion of the country is already back at school but here in NYC we still have a week to go – and then we have only one day before we’re off for two days because of the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah – The Jewish New Year.  (Yes that’s right, here in NYC the public schools close for the Jewish holidays because there are so many Jewish teachers and students, it’s not just an urban legend)  Since we’re not religious I never really think of Rosh Hashanah as my “new” year but since it coincides so nicely with the first day of school it seemed the perfect opportunity to make some New School Year resolutions.  After all, for most parents the only calendar that truly matters is the school calendar.  So here are my resolutions as a PTA co-President and parent.

  1. Keep my eye on the big picture.  Every year my daughters and I are frustrated by the slow start to the year when it seems like everything is just a replay of the year before.  But, soon enough things get rolling so I’ve learned it’s better to give the teachers time to get their curriculum underway before passing judgement on the class.
  2. Rise Above the Fray. A lot happens during the course of a school year but it’s easy to get dragged into the day to day dramas and small upsets that occur in a 3rd grade girl’s and PTA parent’s life.  Better to keep the goals of the year in mind and know that most of the time perspective, and a deep breath, are all that’s needed.
  3. Keep School Life Separate. I have a hard time leaving the school day behind because I am so involved at my daughters’ school.  But I’ve realized that there is only so much I can or should do as a volunteer and that my other work (this blog for instance) needs to stay a priority throughout the year not just on school holidays.  So, I plan on doing my best for the school but not letting it dominate my thoughts, goals and time.  (I’ll let you know how that goes in about 2 months…)
  4. Delegate.  I am not talking about my PTA duties here.  I’ve got an awesome team of volunteer parents for that.  No, I need to give more responsibilities to my girls this year.  They should be making their own lunches the night before, packing their lunch in the morning and keeping their work organized at home.
  5. Get and Stay Organized. Since I’m on the subject of organization I have to say that every year I start out the school year with the best of intentions – folders ready, pencils sharpened, etc.  The thing is a month into the school year I’ve got piles of art work, homework sheets and newsletters piled all over my living room and kitchen.   So, one of my major resolutions is to scan their art work and create a end of year art book on….Snapfish.

Which leads to my fabulous giveaway.  A $50 Snapfish Credit to spend on any of their products from prints to photobooks.  I love creating photobooks.  They are one of my favorite gifts for teachers at the end of the year, for grandparents always and last year I created one from our trip to Italy combining all of my blog posts as well as our photos.

If you would like to win a $50 Snapfish Credit simply leave a comment letting me know your new school year resolution (or your child’s!)  I will choose a winner at random on September 13th.  Good luck and have a great school year!

This contest is now closed.  The winner was Melanie.  Congrats Melanie!!

Going Behind the Gold Curtain at the Metropolitan Opera House (and a chance to win tickets to Hansel and Gretel!)

This past Tuesday my two daughters and I went to the Metropolitan Opera House Tree Lighting and then on a special backstage tour of the theater.  Growing up in New York City some of my most vivid and cherished memories of New York theater are linked to that incredibly beautiful theater.  I still remember the first time I sat in the velvet chairs and watched the mammoth sparkling chandeliers rise up to the ceiling stories above as the lights dimmed and the music began.  This was the first time my daughters had been inside the opera house being only seven and not yet ready to sit through and appreciate a full-length production of ballet, and certainly not opera.

Imagine your first time inside such an impressively huge and gorgeous theater as a sort of insider.  We were led into the main orchestra seating where we heard about the history of the theater and watched the crew as they readied the stage for that night’s opera, Le Nozze di Figaro.  I think the girls were more impressed by the size and scope of the sets seeing them in the bare light and with wings clearly visible than they would be with the usual trickery of stage lighting.  We then went on to the actual workshops where the sets are constructed, touched up, painted and broken down.  The girls got such a kick out of seeing the burned witch remains from Hansel and Gretel missing a toe and in need of repair as well as the giant chefs’ heads that needed spiffing up.  From there we walked on to the actual stage.  Now, here is where the full-fledged theater geek in me wanted to shake my daughters and try and get them to understand that they were standing on the very stage that Pavarotti had sung on, that Cynthia Gregory had danced on.  But really they just thought the slanting floors of the sets and the fact that the paintbrushes were attached to poles to touch up the top of the sets were really cool.  Me however?  I was seriously elated and awestruck.

Sometimes a backstage tour can leave you feeling like the mystery has gone out of what you loved.  Too many warts revealed or illusions shattered.  Usually things don’t measure up in real life.  The opposite was true after our tour of the Met.  I have a brand new appreciation for the scope and magnitude of the artistry and hard labor that go into mounting each production and my daughters were so enthralled by the end (maybe due to my relentless cheerleading and prodding) that they have now decided they want to go to the new production of Hansel and Gretel and attend their first opera.

And,  A GIVEAWAY!

IF you would like a chance to see this special holiday production of Hansel and Gretel, sung in English, at the Met leave a comment below.  I have two orchestra seats to give away for 8:00pm on Monday, December 14th!  The winner will be picked by Saturday December 12th.

For more information on the opera click here!

This is an original beccarama.com post.