Moms Gone Wild-ish: Taking Time Out to Celebrate with Friends (with $100 Giveaway)

This post is sponsored by Serve from American Express. Sign up for Serve and receive $10 credit towards your first use. Comment below within the next 7 days for your chance to win an extra $100 credit to your account!

This past year has been crazy for me.  It’s been full of amazing opportunities like Mom Congress, the launch of KidzVuz, spending the day with Sony and photographer Brian Smith at BlogHer, being on ABC News Now and speaking at the 140 Edu Conference and She Streams.  But none of these events would have been possible – or nearly as fun –  without an amazing support system of family and friends.  As I’ve gotten busier and busier this year I’ve had less time to spend with many of my non-work friends – and I miss them!  So when I got the opportunity to try out a new payment system called Serve from American Express, and take out a bunch of my girlfriends, I jumped at the chance.

We are lucky to live in NYC where there are so many fab restaurants and we headed to Landmarc at the Time Warner Center, which not only does a great lunch but overlooks Columbus Circle and Central Park.

And did you know their bacon is so good even vegetarians are allowed to eat it?  True story.  It was great to pile into a big round booth, be together for a couple of hours swapping stories and catching up, and most of all taking time out during this crazy season to just hang out.

I can look around this table and see women who I have known – some for the last 7 years and others for just the last few – and feel grateful to have a group of women who I know I can rely on to grab my kids at pick-up if I’m late, be on my emergency blue card at school, have my back at contentious Parents Association meetings, and really just have a great time with complete with a lot of laughing and honest talk.  And to me that’s worth celebrating.

At the end of the meal everyone paid their share and then I paid them all back via Serve, right on my Android phone.  (They had all signed up for Serve accounts prior to the meal – see what I mean about being able to rely on them?)  And now they can either use their Serve card to shop and use the balance that way or move the money into their bank account.  Though knowing this group I think the shopping route is the more likely scenario.

And I am so excited that now I can pass on the same opportunity to one of my readers!

First: Remember to sign up for Serve and receive $10 credit towards your first use.

WIN $100 FROM AMERICAN EXPRESS! Comment below within the next 7 days for your chance to win an extra $100 credit to your account! Official sweepstakes rules and regulations may be found by clicking here. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

How to Enter: Leave a comment below describing your fave girls night or guys night out activity or location – just keep it clean, this is a parenting blog after all!  Contest ends at 11:59pm 12/27/11.

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 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.

Sony Moms and Clever Girls – A BlogHer 1st Night

Rebecca & Sheila by glennia
Rebecca & Sheila, a photo by glennia on Flickr.

I feel so officially clever after hanging with one of my fab Sony Moms and Clever Girls co-founder Sheila Dowd at our BlogHer dinner. I think the auto soft focus went a little too Barbara Walters, but I guess I looked that tired to the camera!  Thanks to Glennia Campbell for the great pic!

My real BlogHer recap is coming soon but I couldn’t resist getting this pic up now.

You Say Carpet, I Say ACHOO!

I wrote this post while participating in a blog tour conducted by Clever Girls Collective on behalf of Claritin®. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program.

We bought our apartment more than eight years ago.  It was a sponsor apartment, which in NYC means that the occupant continued to rent the apartment even after the building went co-op and so the original landlord of the building (sponsor) can finally sell the apartment when that now very, very old person leaves (dies.)  You can imagine what our apartment looked like after 45 years of the same little old man living in it.  Now picture it 10 times worse. But, we were thrilled because it gave us the opportunity to make our apartment the way we wanted it.  Only, we didn’t really have the money to make it they way we wanted it, and we had 6 month old twin girls who we knew would soon be getting their hands and sticky whatever everywhere so we made it the best we could at the time. 

Not the same thing.

So now we’re getting ready to do much of the work we should’ve done 8 years ago – like tear out rotten floorboards and woodwork with 100 years worth of paint layers, ditch old radiators and skim coat rough walls.  I can’t wait.  I wish I could take a sledgehammer right now and start knocking things down.  But of course I can’t – and not just because I don’t have a sledgehammer in my make-up drawer but because my allergies mean I can’t be within 20 feet of this place while we renovate.  I start sneezing just thinking about the renovation.  And then there are the real questions:  Carpet or bare floors in the bedrooms?  Curtains or shades? These are not decorative issues when you have allergies, they are real considerations about how livable our home will be when we’re done.  And vacuuming everyday is really not an option I am willing to explore.

I’ve customized so many aspects of our home because of my allergies.  I have replaced all the pillows with non-feather alternatives, encased all the mattresses and gotten rid of all the cleaning supplies with terrible fumes.  But really thinking about design and decor in our apartment is something I never thought about before because we just hadn’t done it with any real thought.  Our girls were infants when we moved in so it was all about what could be wiped up the easiest and not worry about stains, or vomit or anything else that babies and toddlers entail.

Now that we are actually at a point in our lives to consider “decorating” and have thought behind our choices I can’t believe that I’m limited once again because of my allergies.  Of course I probably will give in on a lot of things.  I don’t want my allergies to control my life – or my home.  I really do want curtains.  And carpet in the bedrooms looks and feels so damn cozy.  It’s bad enough my daughters already want to trade me in for a puppy how could I possibly tell them that they can’t have that super tacky leopard print bean bag chair?
For more tips on relieving allergies visit I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

How to Stretch a NYC Dollar (Hint: It Takes a lot of Financial Muscle)

Thank you to Turbo Tax for sponsoring my writing about household finances.  Learn more about how TurboTax can help you find every tax deduction you deserve.  I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

Looking south from Top of the Rock, New York City

Image via Wikipedia

Last week my husband and I had brunch with some cousins visiting from Seattle.  One of them looked at me with pity and said “How can you live here – it’s so expensive!”  Now, she doesn’t live in some tiny town she lives in Seattle!  But still, there they were shaking their heads and thinking we were out of our minds for choosing to live in a city where the price of a 1,000 square foot apartment is the same as a 4 bedroom house in most other parts of the country.  Trust me there are days where I shake my head and think the same thing.  However, living in Manhattan is vital to my well-being – even though sometimes the trade offs can seem ridiculous.  I have 5 city mom tips for keeping up financially and realistically in a city that seems to have a hand in every pocket.

  1. Create a real budget.  Seems simple right?  It’s not.  Every year my husband creates an awesome spreadsheet with all of our income and expenses in detail, month by month.  Yes, it’s as anal and nutty as it sounds and it’s awesome.  We can predict and project every dollar and make choices accordingly.  For the last two years we’ve been using to keep track of every expense and investment in every financial account we have and this has made it even easier to track all of our spending and goals.  If you’re a data geek like me (and my husband) this makes financial planning fun – I swear. Continue reading

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
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.