Sunday, January 29, 2012

CLOSED: Review/Giveaway: Mermaid Beach from Gamewright!

This giveaway is now closed. Congrats to winner Dave S.!

Card Games. They are some of the first games we learn to play as kids: from Uno to Memory to Go Fish. These classic games taught us not only how to play be the rules but also how to be competitive and have fun! While games like these will always be classics, there's nothing wrong with putting a new spin on an old favorite. Move aside Old Maid, these days it's all about playing Mermaid Beach!!

Gamewright generously provided our family with our very own Mermaid Beach! The game box is nice and small, perfect for storage and travel. Angie and I couldn't wait to try it out together, and opened it up that very night!

How to Play: The game is suggested for ages 6+, but at age five Angie caught on to the rules right away! At first I was skeptical about all the different types of cards, and I was worried that Angie and I wouldn't be able to remember all the different rules. Well, my fears disapeared when we started playing! You start the game by dividing the cards into two piles, the shell deck and the beach deck. The goal of the game is to be the player with the most shells when everyone runs out of beach cards!
Box Cover of Mermaid Beach!

Both players start the game with five beach cards. Angie and I loved that it says right in the rules, "the player with the waviest hair goes first!" How cute! On your turn, you can do a number of things to win shell cards: the most common are to put down a Mermaid card or a pair of beach items. Either one will win you a shell card! There are also seaweed cards, wave cards, and a "crabby" sea monster card, among others!

The most exciting part of playing the game for Angie was seeing the Mermaid cards. Angie is such a girly-girl, and she LOVED the surprise of no two Mermaids being the same. To be fair, there are Mermaids and Mermen; this game is by no means a girls-only game and would be totally fun for boys too. Every Mermaid card has a shimmery border and features a different Mermaid/Merman with his or her own personality and unique name, such as Betsy Bubbles. Angie couldn't wait to hear each new Mermaid's name, and loved that the Mermaid cards were the most valuable. She easily caught on to the idea of trading a Mermaid card for a shell card, which I thought might confuse her at first but didn't at all.

Mermaid Beach also had a trading aspect to it, very much like Go Fish. If you don't have a Mermaid card or a pair of beach items, you can ask one of your opponents for a matching beach item to one of your own. Once you have a pair, you can put it down for a shell card. This trading process teaches critical descision making and logic: Angie learned that if she saw me pick up a sand castle and she was holding a sand castle card already, she could easily get a match.
Kids learn counting and matching from Mermaid Beach!

The Sea Monster card, sneaker wave cards, seaweed cards, and mean Mermaid cards all have special functions as well. The Sea Monster is the Old Maid of the deck; you have to trade it away befor the game ends! The sneaker wave card can pull an opponent's shell cards back into the discard pile! The seaweed card forces your opponent to take another beach card. Either of the mean Mermaids, who use their powers for evil, allow you to take one of your opponent's shell cards! There are also starfish cards who force their owner to pass a card to the left. This can actually be beneficial for getting rid of the Sea Monster! While this seems like a lot of rules to remembers, most of the cards in the deck are either beach items or Mermaids. When we did come across some of these special-function cards, it was easy enough for us to look in the directions and figure out what to do! Game play was very smooth and both Angie and I felt the game was both easy to learn and fun to play!


The game ends when one player is out of beach cards. At the end of the game, both players count up their shells by laying the shell cards flat and counting up the individual shells they've collected. Game play averages about 20 minutes for us, and we actually played multiple times in a row. Counting up the shells was a great way for Angie to practice her counting skills, especially with number over 10 and 20. I have to say, I have yet to beat Angie at Mermaid Beach, and I'm actually trying!

Angie with one of her favorite Mermaids - we love the sparkles!
Our overall views: Mermaid Beach is an awesome game for kids! It was designed by a kid, for kids, which must be why it turned out so great! Kids who live near the beach will love recognizing everything they play with in the summer, and kids who don't will get to take a little bit of the beach home with them in this game. The game has challenges for all ages, and is very entertaining for adults as well as kids.We thought this game would make a great birthday present for a little friend, or birthday/Christmas present for someone in your own family. No matter how you get it, we would definitely recommend buying this game! Angie described her thoughts on the game as, "Very thumbs up!!"

Gamewright has a huge selection of games for people of all ages. We took a look at their website and picked out a few others we thought our family would enjoy (browsing their site by age was so convenient!):
 
Ring-O Flamingo (ages 6+)

Too Many Monkeys (ages 6+)


Joe Name It (ages 12+)


We even realized that Slamwich, a game we own and LOVE, is made by Gamewright! (ages 6+)

BUY IT: Everyone loves receiving new games to play! I know I always have!! Make sure to add Gamewright to your list of places to shop for birthday gifts, etc! These games would also be great for college dormrooms, sleepover parties for kids and teenagers, and big family gatherings! All of the games offered by Gamewright are super creative and designed with care; they are sure to be a hit in any household! http://www.gamewright.com/gamewright/index.php?section=games

WIN IT: The wonderful people at Gamewright have been very generous in offering another copy of Mermaid Beach to a lucky giveaway winner! To enter the giveaway you must follow me on Google Friends Connect (righthand sidebar) AND go to Gamewright and comment back with a game your family would love! This giveaway is open to U.S. entrants and ends February 13th at 11:59pm Eastern Time. Good Luck!

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

CLOSED: Review/Giveaway: My Memories Suite Scrapbooking Software!

The saying, "A Picture's Worth A Thousand Words" is so popular because it's so true. Looking through pictures can be a wonderful way to relive memories from long ago or from two weeks ago. With the advancement of photo-taking technology, pictures themselves are getting better and better, and they now deserve a great new way to be viewed, something other than a dusty, old photo album. With My Memories Suite Scrapbooking Software, users have the ability to create amazing computerized albums, scrapbooks, calendars, mugs, and more!



Getting photos printed, labeling them, and putting them into physical photo albums is so time-consuming, only to have the photo albums be viewed very rarely because it's so inconvenient! I personally believe that photo albums will someday become obsolete. This new generation of young people, having grown up keeping all of their photos saved to the computer, and viewing them on Facebook, isn't going to want to print photos just to have them sit on the shelf.

That's why My Memories Suite is such a great product! Using the software, you can create really proessional computerized scrapbooks, and save them right to your desktop! When I received the digital scrapbooking software to review, I was very excited because there are just SO MANY photos I have saved to my compute that I'm too lazy to get printed, let alone organize them after. Using the software, I made two albums this week: a shorter one to try out all the scrapbooking features, and a longer one to try out the full-length photo album feel.

The first scrapbook had a "Sisters Scrapbook" theme. I used one of the basic templates for a scrapbook provided with the software, which was great for me because the theme is already done for you, all you have to do is choose one! Of course you have the option of customizing everything to the T, but for someone who is not as artistic (like me) it was great to have a pre-designed template ready to go!



The templates come with 6 pre-made pages that you can drag your pictures into, which was really easy. All you do is open your pictures (the ones saved to your computer) from a toolbar on the side, and drag them directly where you want them to be. The templates have outlines of where they suggest photos to be, which was perfect! For the Sisters Scrapbook, I had fun messing around with all the little scrapbooking features you can add, like ribbons, flowers, text bubbles, and more! I like that you have so many avaiable design features that come with the scrapbook software, but also that you can buy more from the site if you can't find what you're looking for. I spent about an hour making this small, 5-page scrapbook, and I was really happy with the outcome after just my first try! It's definitely something I would consider getting professionally printed (from the website - super easy!)



My second album is something I plan on continuing as we accumulate more recent photos. I started with many of our pictures from last summer, and worked my way up to our most recent photos! I used a template again, a different one this time, and tried to focus more on the length of the album than on the design. In just one hour, I create a 50-page album with hundreds of our pictures, and I even figured out how to set music behind it! I had a blast showing it off to my family, and now I just have it saved right on my desktop. Viewing this album in slideshow mode was great with the music behind it, but I could also view it as an album or a calendar or a greeting card if I choose!



I have so many favorite design features that I can't name them all. I've only had one real scrapbook in my life, and I always felt like you needed to buy SO MANY accessories, like different colored ribbons and paper, just to make one book. My Memories Suite has all the ribbons, bows, flowers, and embellishments you could ever want, and you don't need to go out and buy 100 colors of ribbon because it's right on the computer! I liked the "nudge" feature, which allowed me to move all my photos to the perfect position. I could really see this digital scrapbook software being a great tool for teachers, from kindergarten to high school, who want to make presentations or things for their classroom bulliten boards!



Some of the cooler things about the scrapbooks we made were actually some of the simplest to do. For instance, when we had a lot of photos of the same scene (ie. building a gingerbread house from start to finish) it was fun to group them all on one slide in a funky way, something you really can't do with an average photo album.



This longer album is the first of many to come. I like that some of the pages in the template have spaces for just one large photo, while others have spaces for up to five mini photos! This really mixes it up when you're viewing the scrapbook, and adds an element of surprise to every page! The scrapbook looked SO PROFESSIONAL, and literally took me just an hour! Scrapbooks like these will probably replace physical photo albums in our house because they are so much more convenient, and I can show them to people wherever I bring my laptop! The music element is something you won't get with a physical photo album, and viewing our family pictures with our favorite songs behind them made the album really personal!

Overall, I would give My Memories Suite Software an EXCELLENT rating. It's super easy to use, and there are endless design features that allow you to complety customize whatever you are making. At around $40.00 it is well worth the price, because you can create so many fabulous gifts with the software, like mugs and calendars! It will also really come in handy for birthday invitations, Christmas cards, and I could even see some people using the software for work presentations. The possibilities are endless with My Memories Suite!



BUY IT: As a special gift to all Not One Ordinary Moment readers, My Memories is giving away a Share the Memories code that provides a $10 discount on the purchase of the My Memories Suite Scrapbook software and a $10 coupon to the My Memories online store - a $20 value! The coupon code is: STMMMS45108 Well, what are you waiting for, go buy My Memories Suite!!

WIN IT: One lucky winner will win the My Memories Suite Digital Scrapbooking Software, absolutely free! All you need to do is 1. Follow my blog vis GFC and 2. Visit Mymemories.com and choose your favorite digital paper pack or layout, and come back with a comment saying what it is! This giveaway is open worldwide and ends 2/6/12 at noon Eastern.

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Where My Cover Photo Comes From: Ogunquit, Maine

Usually my posts center around reviews, giveaways, current events, the media, or whatever, but I don't post barely enough about myself. First, because I know you guys love giveaways, and that's why I started the blog after all. Second, posting about yourself forces you to analyze yourself in different ways, and sometimes that take way too much effort.

But tonight, I am going to take the time to post a more personal blurb about where my cover photo comes from and the meaning behind it, and the name of my blog, Not One Ordinary Moment.

I actually took the cover photo myself, with my own camera. It is, in fact, one of very few pictures on this blog that I did not steal from Google Images. I took the photo in April last year, actually on Easter Sunday, on a trip we took to Marginal Way in Ogunquit, near us in Maine. Ogunquit is very much like Kennebunkport in that it's economy centers around tourism in the Summer, although it's much smaller than our town. Marginal Way is a walkway of about half a mile that runs right next to the ocean, but high up on a cliff so you aren't actually on the beach.

Marginal Way is something that we've walked as a family for years and years. It's something great to do on Mother's Day, Father's Day, and in last year's case, Easter. The walk is absolutely beautiful, as you can see from my cover photo, and I think it is the best placce near us to go if you want to appreciate where we live and how lucky we are.

So last Easter, we went to our favorite restaurant in Ogunquit, Barnacle Billy's, and then walked the Marginal Way, all five of us. It was my definition of a perfect spring day: the weather was nice, the ocean was beautiful, the food was great, everyone was getting along, and the walk was stunning.

I have to admit, growing up, I didn't appreciate Marginal Way at all. I found it boring, I thought the ocean looked like the same old ocean I saw everyday in the summer, and I would ache to get home as soon as I could. Now, I look back on those memories as some of the best in my childhood, because it is one of the best examples of us just acting like a normal family and doing normal family things together.

I have grown to adore our trips to Marginal Way, just as I have grown to love trips to Peak's Island, and other Maine-outdoorsy places I didn't like going to as a kind. Marginal Way really is one of the most beautiful places in Southern Maine, and everytime I go I feel so absolutely lucky to be able to spend so much time by the ocean. We have lots of extended family who don't live near the ocean, and maybe only go to the beach a couple times a summer. If there is one thing I have learned from living in Maine all my life, it's that I will always want to be close enough to see the ocean everyday, if I want to.

I named my blog Not One Ordinary Moment because of a quote that was shown to me by a special friend of mine: "There are no ordinary moments." This quote really rang true with me, so when I created a blog I knew Not One Ordinary Moment was a great title. Once I had the name, I was scrolling through my pictures and I came across our pictures from Ogunquit. Being at Marginal Way that day really had me appreciating that life is so precious, and that I should be thankful for being so so so lucky to live where I live and have everything I have. Most days, I am not greatful enough.

So there it is: the story behind my cover photo and the reason I named my blog what I did. Few and far between though they are, my posts about myself really are enjoyable, and I hope you enjoy them too!

-Cassie

Sunday, January 8, 2012

I am going to Miami for two months...say what??

Alright, so this post is going to be a lot like one of my other posts on the same topic: Six weeks and Craving Tomatoes...Say What??

This previous post was about a facebook look-up game that I had been confused about, looked up, discovered the answer, and shared with all of you! Well now the same thing is going on again, this time with status updates like "I'm moving to Austria for 27 months!" and I just had to know the answer!


I was confused when my FB friend said she was moving to Miami!

Obviously, the people I was seeing these status updates from were not really planning on going anywhere for any amount of time. Here's how the game works:

The idea is to use your birthdate,
month and day only, no year!
Write: "I am going to live in _______
(see below) for _______
Ex. if your BD was on February
14th, then
" I am going to live n London for
14 months!!!!
January - Mexico
February - London
March - Miami
April - Dominican Republic
May - France
June - St. Petersburg
July - Austria
August - Germany
September - New York
October - Amsterdam
November - Las Vegas
December - Columbia
 
This time I'm moving to New York (only my favorite place in the world, by coincidence!) for 29 months! Oh how I would love that!! Where are you moving? Comment below!!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Closed: Review/Giveaway: Zoobies Blanket Pet!

Congratulations to comment #171, Melissa M.! Melissa has won the Zoobie Blanket Pet of her choice!! This giveaway is now closed.

Now that the holidays have officially passed, and we're starting to feel out our way in 2012, it might be nice to just take a few moments and relax. While this may seem almost impossible for busy parents, tuckered-out kids may find themselves taking a couple more naps than usual this month. Fortunately for our family, that won't be a problem, since we've got the ultimate sleep best friend: the Zoobie!

The Zoobie is a plush animal toy that turns into a blanket and a pillow. Before Christmas, I'd picked out a Khimba the Koala and Baby Kai Blanket Pet for Angie since it came with the blanket pet as well as a baby pet. Angie has a pillow pet and really loves it, so I knew the Zoobie was sure to be a hit. With a pet turned pillow turned blanket, there are so many ways that kids can enjoy their Zoobie! Pet for playtime, pillow for resting or in the car, and blanket for sleeping!


On Christmas morning, Angie opened her Khimba Zoobie and instantly fell in love! Since Christmas is usually a pajama day in our house, Angie opened her Zoobie right up into a blanket and cuddled with it all day! When we traveled down to Connecticut the next day to visit family, Angie's Zoobie really came in handy as a pillow in the car. She really loves Kai, the baby pet that came with it, and has continued to play with both Kai and the big Zoobie ever since!

Zoobies has a "Three C Mission:" Convertible, Comfort, and Convenience. The products were actually created by two young brothers who wanted to invent something that was fun, innovative, and functional. Their family included nine children, and Zoobies were meant to be something more convenient for moms to throw in the car on road trips. They've won over 45 industry awards and can be found in over 2,500 US stores. Internationally they are being distributed in 61 countries.





And convenient it is! As I said before, there are so many ways to play with and use a Zoobie. This is the ideal car trip pet. It's the perfect size to throw in the car, but it can be used as a blanket or pillow throughout the trip. Upon arriving at your road trip destination, kids will love playing with their Zoobie in its stuffed animal form.

This present was such a hit at our house, and I definitely plan on giving them as gifts in the future! One of the greatest things about a Zoobie is that there is one for everyone. With plenty of animal choices, a Zoobie is a great gift for any birthday boy or girl. They would also make a great yankee swap gift or baby shower gift! Even young adults might enjoy having a Zoobie around; the blanket is really that comfortable!



The Blanket Pet actually isn't the only product made by Zoobies. The Slumber Pet, another product, is an oversized plush that unfolds into a sleeping bag. This pet would make a great gift for little boys or girls before they head off to their first sleepovers! The Blankie Baby is designed specifically for babies and unfolds into a super-soft fleece blanket. Again, perfect baby shower gift!! The Zoobie Storytime Pal features characters from classic story time books that every kids will recognize. Kids will love cuddling with their favorite character while reading their classic stories!

We love our Khimba the Koala and Baby Kai Blanket Pet! This may be our first Zoobie, but I have a feeling it won't be our last. With so many other great options, I would definitely consider giving another Zoobie as a future present. Below are some of the other characters I know Angie would love:

Poco the Pup Blanket Pet

 
Hada the Hippo Blanket Pet
 
Corduroy Storytime Pal

BUY IT: To purchase your very own Zoobie, visit the website here: http://zoobies.com/ and pick out your favorite! Zoobies make great presents, or would be fun to buy just anytime. If you plan on traveling over February break, I would definitely plan on purchasing a Zoobie for each of your kids. These would be perfect for those long plane rides to Disney!

WIN IT: ONE lucky Not One Ordinary Moment reader is going to win the Zoobie of their choice!! For the mandatory entry, please follow Not One Ordinary Moment via GFC AND head over to Zoobies and tell me which Zoobie you would most like to own! This giveaway is open to the U.S. only and ends Saturday, January 21st, at 12:00pm Eastern. Good Luck!!

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*Disclaimer* I received a Zoobie Blanket Pet to review and was not compensated monetarily. All opinions are my own.  

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Dear Mr. President: 2012 is the year for NOH8

Dear Mr. President,
       Today is the first day of 2012. Later this year, our country will celebrate its 236th anniversary. We've overcome a revolution, a civil war, slavery, discrimination, the Great Depression, two world wars, unemployment, and great natural disasters. And yet citizens in this country still do not have equal rights.
       Dear Mr. President. With a new year comes new beginnings. Today is a fresh start, and every single person in this country has hopes and dreams for what 2012 will be. Every year goes down in history for something. 2012 must be the year for change.
       Dear Mr. President. How ironic is it that you yourself are the epitomy of the American dream. You represent how far this country has come. We take pride in having elected a colored President, because it represents that we as Americans can overcome. And yet we have so much left to overcome.
       Dear Mr. President. There are citizens in this country who pay taxes, who work good jobs, who raise the children of the future, and yet can not get married because of who they are. We are a country that promotes discrimination if we allow this to continue. In school we always learn about the civil rights movement of the 1960's, and wonder how such discrimination could ever have happened in America. "Not in my backyard," we think. Certainly not in 2012. And yet, the discrimination continues, and will continue, but 2012 will be the year for change.
        Dear Mr. President. How wonderful a clean slate can be. On this day, January 1st, 2012, it seems that anything is possible. There is a problem in this country, and the problem is discrimination. And not just marrital discrimination. Gays are denied from giving blood, because AIDS is a "gay" disease. Gay teachers lose their jobs in many states and towns because parents are afraid. Gays and Lesbians are denied from adopting children because birth parents want their children "raised correctly." Mr. President, this is wrong.
       Dear Mr. President. I have hopes and dreams today just as everyone else does. In 2012, I want the hate to stop. I want every citizen in this country to have equal rights, no matter their sexuality. I want to be an ally and to stand up for what I believe in.
       Dear Mr. President, in 2012 I want equality.