Archive for the ‘free stuff’ Category

New Back-to-School Movie Giveaway!

August 8th, 2013 4:00pm

We know a few of us out there are less than thrilled about school starting up again. But we want to cheer you up! We are serious Disney fans over here and can’t help but be a little bit excited about the new movie, “Planes”, that comes out tomorrow! Nothing like a rip roarin’ Disney animated adventure to bring the sparkle back into our glazed over “back-to-school” eyes! So we are hosting a movie ticket giveaway starting tomorrow! Even if you aren’t a Disney fan, you gotta admit… movies are a fun indulgence! We are giving away two pairs of tickets to any Cinemark theater. Lots of ways to enter so don’t miss out!…
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Internet security for your kids

April 2nd, 2013 8:09pm

As our world speedily seeks to replace books with technology, our good old paperback friends have a little advice before they disappear into the background of our lives!

I know it’s on every parents mind. This is the new world of technology we live in. The internet in all it’s glory, amazement and horror are so easily accessible for our children at all times and seemingly in all places. It is becoming increasingly difficult to monitor, police, educate and generally protect our children as best we can from some of the onslaughts that await them in the interactive world we live in. But does that mean we give up?? NO! We have some amazing tools to tell you about!

First, for those of you with kids either using their own cell phones/tablets or using yours, you might wonder how can you get some control over interactive content on these devices. Our first tip is to download the Mobicip app! It is a free browser available through the app store or through their website at Once you have this browser on your device, you want to disable the safari browser or whatever browser came standard on your device. We are iphone users so we also have enabled all the security restrictions in our settings where we can control whether to allow app purchases, what apps are visible, etc. which is all password protected. At that point, the only browser available will be the Mobicip browser. Within the browser settings, you can set restrictions that are age appropriate for each user. Very handy when you have various ages using the same devices!

Now on to the computer issue. We HIGHLY recommend a program called NetNanny which can be purchased and downloaded at This program allows you to customize your settings for family members, customize your filter settings, receive reports regarding user accessed content, immediate text/email should one of your users attempt to access restricted material, and a log of every page visited by each user. This has become an invaluable tool for my family and I hope you will take a moment to review all the amazing features available through this program.

We hope you will continue to be vigilant on your children’s behalf in helping to protect them from the dangers of the internet while teaching them responsible habits in using their technology. Please weigh in on this issue with any suggestions you have found to work well in your own families and together we can help protect our families!

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23rd Annual Celebration of Fine Art...come see the artists at work!

Yes, spring break is upon us and if you are anything like me, you are scrambling to keep kids busy with things other than video games and movies! In my hunt for the affordable (and hopefully sneaking in that somewhat educational!) entertainment in the Valley of the Sun, I have discovered a real gem! Today I took my five children (ages 2 through 12) to the Celebration of Fine Art in Scottsdale, AZ.

The show highlights work from over 100 artists, some local and some traveling from out of state to attend. What’s fun about a glorified outdoor art museum you might ask? Well, the coolest thing about this art exhibit is the artists are actually on site WORKING on their art! You can ask questions, see demonstrations of their technique, or just shoot the breeze about the latest trends. My kids LOVE that they can actually see the artists at work and ask questions! My youngest loved all the colors and because many of the artists enjoy bringing their pets on site, he LOVED playing with the friendly little pups resting at the foot of several of the artists. One particular artist today painted birds and could mimic a bird call so convincingly that we had to look around for a minute for the bird before we realized it was her!

Whitney Peckman was one of our favorite artists! Here she displays some of her hand sculpted and painted gourds. Amazing!

Rather than learn from art teachers who are bound by certain techniques they are required to teach, these artists have no such restrictions and they truly let their imaginations go wild with the off-the-wall techniques they’ve invented, the customized processes they’ve had to discover and the media they have developed to answer that creative call!

When we arrived home this afternoon from over 3 hours there, my kids all rushed to our art cabinet and immediately took to making their own wildly creative pieces with all their new ideas!

Looking to get inspired? This is your chance! When we arrived home this afternoon from over 3 hours there, my kids all rushed to our art cabinet and immediately took to making their own wildly creative pieces with all their new ideas!

The event runs through March 24th and is open daily from 10am to 6pm. It’s located on the SW corner of Hayden Rd. and Loop 101 (Exit 35 from the 101). Just look for the big white tents! The best part?? It’s FREE for kids under 12!!! Yes, that’s right…FREE! Adults are $10 but if you go to the 23rd Annual Celebration of Fine Art website, you can download a 2 for 1 coupon for adult tickets.

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Disney’s Frankenweenie Giveaway!

September 14th, 2012 10:44pm

Frankenweenie prize pack includes a movie poster, sticker pack, beanie hat and 2 TICKETS TO THE MOVIE!

Ok, we know you’re all excited about Disney’s new movie, Frankenweenie, which features the amazing storytelling expertise of Tim Burton (who you might remember from Nightmare Before Christmas) once again…and if you’re not, we assure you your kids are! We are definitely ready for some more spooky fun from Tim Burton and Disney! In fact, we’re so excited that we just had to call up Disney and get a gift pack just for you! Enter here for our giveaway and your chance to win a Frankenweenie Beanie hat, poster, sticker pack and yes, 2 TICKETS TO THE MOVIE!! We have TWO of these prize packs to give away but sadly, only one is going to get those coveted tickets. So enter soon and enter often! …And YOU could be our winner!

The movie features a young boy named Victor whose beloved dog Sparky (who stars in Victor’s homemade monster movies)  is hit by a car. Victor refuses to accept the loss of his friend and vows to bring him back. He has some curious success…but when the bolt-necked “monster” wreaks havoc on Victor’s neighbors, he has to convince them (and his parents) that despite his appearance, Sparky’s still the good loyal friend he’s always been.

This is a stop-animation version of the live action film Frankenweenie (1984) and reunites Tim Burton withWinona Ryder and Catherine O’Hara who previously worked with Burton on Beetlejuice.

You can also enter this giveaway on the website (the only place to go for all things pet related!) who has joined us for this promotion in honor of Sparky, the faithful Frankenweenie! We have also created a custom Frankenweenie icon JUST for this movie and ONLY for the months of September and October to put on your child’s calendar as we all anticipate this upcoming event! Check it out in our image gallery and make your child’s calendar today for free!

Want to check out the latest trailer?…click here!
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And the old became new once again!…

August 31st, 2010 3:40pm

Have you been gazing longingly at your neighbors brand new stroller as you push your dilapidated clunker awkwardly along the sidewalk? Do you cringe when you place your toddler in your torn, worn and stained high chair or car seat and hope that mystery stain isn’t anything to worry about? Well, fear no more! Baby’s R Us has come to the rescue of us moms of multiples who have worn our baby gear into shreds! You now have until September 19th, 2010 to get your old gear into Baby’s R Us for a 25% discount on a brand new replacement in the same category as your trade-in!

Not all manufacturers are participating but here’s a list of those that are…

  • Eddie Baurer
  • Evenflo
  • Graco
  • Britax
  • Jeep
  • Baby Cache
  • Baby Trend
  • Bertini
  • Chicco
  • Contours by Kolcraft
  • Carter’s
  • Delta
  • Sorelle
  • Baby Italia

This great deal stems from a desire to get old and possibly unsafe baby equipment out of circulation. Most of us bargain shoppers frequent the discount stores or utilize hand-me-downs for baby gear because of price but we don’t often get safety and warranty guarantees with that equipment that always come with new gear. Equipment gets better all the time with great improvements to comfort as well as safety. This is a great opportunity to keep our little ones a bit safer, more comfortable and not have to break the bank to do it! Check out your local Baby’s R Us store for more details. Items need to be purchased on the same day as the trade-in so come prepared to shop!

For more information, visit Baby’s R Us Official website  to read more about this offer. But don’t miss out! You only have until September 19th!

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Activities to beat the heat!

June 4th, 2010 11:59pm

If you’re an Arizonan, you know exactly where this article is coming from! Those of us sweltering away in the Arizona summer are on the prowl again for some summer fun that does not involve melting away in the afternoon heat! So we’ve got a few ideas for those of you looking for excursions with your kiddos that will wear them out well before the afternoon sun begins to beat us into submission! Incidentally, we’ve included some pricing here but if you want to get in some of these places for free, get to your local library and check out a “Culture Pass“!

Phoenix Zoo New Baby Zebras

The Phoenix Zoo has welcomed two new baby zebras along with a host of other new little ones!

Visit the Phoenix Zoo! If you have never been to this locale before, then it is definitely time! And if you’ve visited enough to say, “we’ve seen it all!”, then we’ve got news for ya…you haven’t! The Phoenix Zoo has welcomed a slew of new babies into their midst. Zebras, marmosets, big horn sheep and even a couple of year old giraffes have joined the crew. Plus, their new summer hours make it a much more enjoyable experience for all. They open now at 7:00am (or 6:00am if you’re a member) and close at 2:00pm on the weekdays and 4:00pm on the weekends. Enjoy the animal encounters throughout the morning, pack a lunch for a picnic with the monkeys at monkey island, and then cool off at the refreshing waterfall, waterslide and splash pads of Yakulla Caverns before departing for a welcomed afternoon nap! Admission is $16.00 for adults (ages 13 and up) and $7.00 per child (ages 3-12).

Sea Life Aquarium of Arizona

Check out the brand new Sea Life Aquarium at Arizona Mills Mall!

Visit Arizona Mills Mall for a unique experience at their Sea LIfe Arizona Aquarium! You can enter through the mall but once inside, kids will see an underwater playground where thousands of marine animals are shown in 12 distinct habitats. You will even be able to walk through a 360-degree tunneled walkway  directly through a massive tank full of schools of tropical fish, rays and sharks as they swim above, below and all around you! There is a children’s play area, video room and educational center. You can purchase day admission tickets, flex passes, and memberships. A day pass will run you $9.50 for kids 3-12,and $17.50 for adults (these are the online prices which are slightly cheaper than buying at the door).

Public Library Programs

Think the library is just for reading? Guess again!

Think the library is just for reading? Guess again! Our Public Libraries not only have a great summer readers program for kids, but they’ve also got some fun events you might want to put into your calendars!…

  • Every wednesday (except June 16th) from 10:30-11:30am, the Main Library offers Toddler Time for Ages 24 through 36 months and their parents/cargivers (siblings welcomed). 20 minutes of stories, songs and fingerplay fun especially for Toddlers! (Limited to the first 50 people)
  • June 8, 1:00-2:00pm (Main Library) Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium activity…Wonders of the Water: Learn about and meet some cool aquatic and semi-aquatic animals. Also available on June 24th, same time, at the Red Mountain Branch as well as June 30th at the Dobson Ranch Branch.
  • June 9, 10:30-11:30am (Dobson Ranch Branch)…Join the puppeteers for a performance of the classic fairy tale Rapunzel. And at 1:30, bring your older kids to try their hand at making their own “ball” book!
  • June 10, 1:00-2:00pm (Red Mountain Branch)…kids of all ages will have a blast with the crafts and bubble blowing at this event! You can catch this event at the Main Library June 15 from 10:30-11:30am or June 16 at Dobson Ranch Branch, same time.
  • June 19, 1:00-3:00pm (Red Mountain Branch)…great opportunity to get your video game addicts out of the living room and into a library! On the 3rd Saturday of each month, the Red Mountain Branch will test your skills on their Wii along with board games and fun for ages 4-18.
  • June 26, 1:30-3:30pm (Main Library, Dobson Ranch Branch, and Red Mountain Branch)…In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months, you might not be aware of the Eclipse movie coming to theaters at the end of this month. Join the Library in celebrating this books release to theaters with Twilight trivia games for prizes (such as Harkins movie tickets, drink cups, and popcorn coupons), raffles for a book purse made from the Eclipse hardback, dress like your favorite Twilight character (JUST BECAUSE!), sink your teeth into some snacks and if you’re into preparing a little, make and wear your own Twilight-themed T-shirt to enter the “Wear Your Own Twilight T-shirt” contest to win a copy of Eclipse!
  • June 28, 1:00-2:00pm (Main Library)…Express your artistic side through the art of silk screen printing. Learn the basics and create a cool t-shirt (supplies and t-shirt provided)!

Looking for some free books for your kids? Barnes and Noble can help! Sign up at any location for their readers program! Just download their Readers Passport to record your child’s progress. Once your child reads 8 books, they get to choose one for free from their local Barnes and Noble!

Well, that should hopefully get you started! Maybe we’ll see you somewhere along the way! Enjoy your kiddos while they’re at home and don’t forget to mark your planned activities on your child’s personalized calendar so they can look forward to and remember all the fun you have this month!

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Do your and your pet need a vacation?

April 15th, 2010 5:33pm

We have a very special member of our family that works awefully hard though not so anyone would notice. He scares the monster away each night, comforts a mothers tears when she’s had one of those days, listens intently to a child when they feel no one else could understand, scares the bad guys (and some of the annoying door solicitors!)  away, is always ready to play, gets us all off our butts to exercise and appreciate the beauty around us by taking the morning walk,  and never ceases to warm our hearts when everything else in the world seems cold.

Comforter, playmate, body guard, monster-under-the-bed scarer... our family pup has a full time job!

Sound like a pretty hefty job description? Not for our family pup! He takes it all in stride. And while the rest of us moan daily for appreciation, or pay, or some sort of recompense for every good deed, he is content to carry this job out with a wag of his tail and comic loll of his tongue! Our pets do so much for us without ever expecting a return. It is amazing to me that we constantly search for heros for our children to emulate when in reality, the selfless nature of our family pets should be example enough for all of us!

Well, thanks to, we now have a way to repay our little heros by giving them what they love most…time with us to play! They have organized their first Travel Contest for pets and their owners with the grand prize being a five day trip to the Rocky Mountain Wilderness in Colorado Springs, Colorado for two people and their pet!!

Some of the other prizes for runners up:

It’s easy to enter! Simply visit their entry form page, upload a photo of your pet with an explanation of why your pet needs a vacation and you’re ready to go! Check out some of the entries where you can also vote for your favorite. He who has the most votes goes to Colorado! And yes, I have to make a hapless endorsement…if you see our photo (entitle Jennifer Allen and Chance), give us a vote will ya because me and my pet NEED A VACATION!

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Are you the greenest Mom in America?

February 21st, 2010 12:12am

the greenest momChildren’s Orchard is looking for the “Greenest Mom in America” with the winner will receive a $500 Children’s Orchard gift-card. Times are tough right now and it can be a challenge to come up with the extra means to spend on your kids, especially as they are quickly growing out of their clothes or wanting to follow the latest trends. Children’s Orchard is an upscale resale retail store that sells gently used designer clothes in an upscale retail environment—they pride themselves on being green by reducing waste, recycling old clothes and selling them to moms to reuse!

To enter the contest, just follow these simple guidelines…

  1. Get Creative! Show what you do to live a green lifestyle
  2. Post your entry on Children’s Orchard Facebook Fan Page starting 01.15.10
  3. Comment to Share your entry & get more ‘Like’ votes
  4. The entry with the most votes by 4.5.10 wins $500 to Children’s Orchard!

Good luck everyone and may the “greenest mom” win!

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The Kid Cave, a featured inflatable at the North Phoenix PumpItUp Location

The Kid Cave, a featured inflatable at the North Phoenix PumpItUp Location

When the temperature jumps to 109 degrees and your kids are bouncing off the walls with unspent energy, where do you go that won’t cause heat stroke, dehydration or heat exhaustion? I have a solution to your problem! …PumpItUp! The Inflatable Party Zone!

They are currently getting ready to celebrate their 4th anniversary on August 31st! Congrats! This will be a special event in that it will offer a free “open bounce” from 5:00pm-8:00pm with groups of 25-30 kids being moved through two bounce zones every 30 minutes (equalling 1 hr of open play for each attendee). Probably the most exciting thing about this anniversary, however, is that Banerjee is going to accept donations to support the American Society of Autism.

Banerjee has hosted events for the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC) before along with many private parties for autistic children’s groups. Banerjee confided, “the (autistic) kids really seem to enjoy themselves…something about the environment awakens something in them and they truly have some amazing fun!”. Banerjee added that he is careful to consult parents in attendance about the environment (ie. music volume and selection) to make sure that he creates the best environment possible for these special needs children.

“We have a deep appreciation and concern for autism in our community…these families are truly special and have given us some sobering insights into the struggles faced by autistic children and their caregivers,” says Banerjee. “This is our way to give back to the community that has supported us these last four years,” he adds.

I would encourage you to attend this free bounce event if possible but if you don’t make it, Banerjee assured me that they are open year round, with the exception of major holidays. Banerjee recognizes that his business depends on the disposable income of families, something not many have a lot of these days. So he has restructured some of the standard PumpItUp! party package options at his location specifically to address these tough economic times. So don’t be afraid to give it a try! Remember, “no matter how far life pushes you down, no matter how much you hurt, you can always bounce back!” (quote by Sheryl Swoopes)

If you have ever been to a BounceU or Jump and Shout, then you will be very familiar with this type of indoor inflatable playground. The North Phoenix location boasts two arenas of over 4000 square feet each, filled with various inflatable activities. PumpItUp has a brightly colored and exciting atmosphere to offer even the most seasoned bouncer! There are 4 valley locations (Tempe, Scottsdale, North Phoenix and Arrowhead) that offer open bounce times as well as scheduled private parties for all ages. For those of you who are bounce-savvy, you might be interested to know that PumpItUp was actually the original “indoor bounce zone”, later adapted by BounceU and others. But now, even BounceU falls under the corporate umbrella of PumpItUp Holdings.

I spoke with Swapan Banerjee, owner and operator of the North Phoenix PumpItUp! location on August 26th about his operation. His facility holds two open bounce sessions per week for smaller kids (6 and under) as well as one session per week for older kids (although these older kid bounce sessions are only available during the summer months and are discontinued during the school year). The open bounce price is $7 per child and siblings two and under can enter free. In order for the two or under sibling to enter for free, though, there needs to be an older sibling that has paid admission.

While they offer these open bounce sessions as opportunities for prospective clients to sample the goods, private parties are their bread and butter. They specialize in children’s parties but have even hosted corporate parties for adults; after all, you don’t stop playing because you get old, you get old because you stop playing!

For more info: Visit the PumpItUp website or you can contact the North Phoenix Location at (623) 434-7867 or visit their location at 22515 N. 18th Drive in Phoenix, AZ 85024-1356.

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Vacation destination…Tucson?…

July 10th, 2009 6:34pm

Yes! I know, I know…you must be rolling your eyes right about now. Tucson? Really? My answer is absolutely! I have to say, I would have been sharing your same reaction if someone had shared this thought with me. But give me a chance to defend our southern desert.

I recently vacationed here with my family for a weekend away from home. We were looking forward to getting out of town and really didn’t care much where we were going. We are like everyone these days and needed our vacation spot to meet some specific criteria…namely, pricetag and close proximity of activities. Tucson delivered and then some! We stayed at the Tucson Omni National Resort where they are currently running an amazing summer deal where they match dollar for dollar what you spend on your room in resort dollars. So basically, whatever you pay on your room, you get back in cash you can spend at the resort! We golfed, dined, and some of our group even visited their spa…all for the price of the room!

Now, I know what your saying…the food must’ve been nasty or the accommodations had to be poor. But I will tell you now that the room we stayed in was probably one of the nicest, largest and most well-equiped rooms we have ever stayed in. We had a dining area, sitting room, bedroom with two queen size beds, and a bathroom as large as the bedroom. The food was amazing whether we were eating in the formal dining restaurant, eating room service on our couch or munching on some great lunch dishes at the little cafe overlooking the golf course. The pool area was clean and large with a sand volleyball court and two full size tennis courts. They even offered lunch barbequed poolside along with drinks for guests playing in this area.

The golf course was well-manicured and a lot of fun for experienced golfers as well as those of us who don’t play quite as often. It was challenging without being frustratingly difficult. The weather was amazing…warm in the mornings but by afternoon, Tucson’s legendary monsoon storms settled in and dropped the temperature 10 degrees while entertaining us with some spectacular lighting! Who needs fireworks? But Tucson delivered that as well over the fourth of July weekend.

We visited the Kartchner Caverns which was a delight for my husband and I as well as my little ones. Amazing cave formations coupled with a family-friendly guide made the 45 minute tour a great experience for us all. Word to the wise, Kartchner Caverns sports an 80 degree temperature with about 98% humidity so don’t plan to go anywhere you have to look nice for afterwards! 😉 We were a little disappointed we couldn’t see the “Great Room” because this area closes down this tim eof year while the bats that make this cave their home are taking care of their babies. But maybe on our next trip.

Pima County Air Musuem

Pima County Air Musuem had some great hands on activities for the kids as well as some fun historical trivia for the adults!

We also visited Pima County Air Museum. This had a wonderful array of history. I was impressed as I read about the different types of planes how many historical air events took place in Arizona. The kids had a wonderful time playing in the kid-friendly hanger where kids can be hands on with various types of planes, simulators and even toddler friendly equipment. We probably spent at least two hours here and didn’t even see the entire museum. There is a tram that will carry you throughout the outdoor exhibits but we declined this trip because it is not air conditioned and we didn’t like the idea of baking in the sun for 30 minutes. It gives us something to try next trip!

Wyatt Earp, Morgan and Virgil stopped by for a photo

Wyatt Earp, Morgan and Virgil stopped by for a photo

We took the short drive to Tombstone one day as well and had a wonderful time reliving the OK Corral with Wyatt Earp and his brothers. We even got some spooky fun visiting the real life haunted saloon, the Birdcage (I ended up with a few photos here that smack of ghost action!). This museum also has some amazing history. Did you know where the term “Aces and Eights = Dead Man’s Hand” came from? Wild Bill was shot in the back while playing poker…he died clutching his hand of aces and eights. The Birdcage is full of incredible history and worth taking some time to walk around and read the plaques.

I read about a Children’s Museum here as well but we didn’t have time to visit this trip. Hopefully we can make it next trip because there will certainly be a “next trip”! I know most would roll their eyes at vacationing in Tucson, but I’m here to tell you…it’s a wonderful spot for a family on a budget and with a little forethought, you can find some wonderful “things to do” here!

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