Monthly Archives: April 2012

LEGO® KidsFest – Must Do at a Venue Near you!

Build! Build! Build! Today was the last day for the LEGO® KidsFest in Denver, and we were there at this sold-out event.*  What a blast!  I think my older daughter enjoyed it more than my younger one but even the younger one enjoyed the DUPLO® building area.  The event was held at the Convention Center in downtown Denver, April 27-29, and the sessions are 4.5 hours long which is plenty of time to build, race, eat, shop, and even visit the booths.  In fact, for younger kids, I think it was too much time but for older kids, probably not enough.  After all, the sky is the limit on imagination when it comes to building with LEGO® bricks.  There were monochromatic areas (same color LEGO® bricks) and plenty of activities including creating art squares, racing cars, and jumping into a pile of DUPLO® or LEGO® bricks and going to town!

All in all, it was a fun event but crowded! We did not wait in any lines to enter, but certainly the tables were jam packed with kiddos and adults alike who were having a blast.  The Master Build sessions looked like fun but are for older kids, ages 7 and up.  It looked like there were competitions going on, and prizes to be won.  There was a marketplace where you could find and buy your favorite LEGO® sets and they were reasonably priced as well.  The concessions were, well … concessions and at concession prices but the smoothie booth looked like it was a big hit too.  The Convention Center on a Sunday was not tough to get to and parking is on site is $12 but because it was Sunday, you could find plenty of alternate places as well.  Friday may have been a different story unless you got there before rush hour but the parking is ample up and down that area in downtown.

Another fun hit was the Bissell, Perfect Sweep Turbo®  – wow! It was picking up LEGO®  bricks like no one’s business and looked to be great for other cleaning too – it is a sweeper and not a vacuum cleaner but certainly will make those ouchies go away.  I step on my kids’ LEGO® or DUPLO® all the time and we are excited to have this new Perfect Sweep Turbo by Bissell.  And if you don’t believe my review of the Bissell Perfect Sweep Turbo, read these two moms’ reviews and testimonials and make sure you get yours today!  Colorado Moms crowns it the perfect “sticky rice picker upper.”  And Moose and Tater exclaims it as “a LEGO mom’s dream!”  Right now, with the coupon pictured to the left you can get $5 off on-line off by using the code: sweepLEGO- order online and make those ouchies go away.  At our house, my kiddos unplug it and sweep that toy/play area with ease. I love when kids clean up after themselves and this makes cleaning fun!

We had a good time and I would recommend the LEGO®  Kids Fest at a venue near you but get your tickets early.  The Denver shows were three days, and five sessions total and sold out.  Let the building begin….

 

*Thanks to the folks at US FAMILY GUIDE for giving my family the tickets to attend for an honest review and for allowing me to sponsoring a giveaway at my site earlier this month.  Please read Get Clued In’s general disclaimer if you need further information on sponsorship and giveaways. 

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Lego Kids Fest – Denver & Giveaway winner

I posted a couple weeks back about an amazing event coming to Denver, the LEGO® kids fest. Well, it’s only a few days now, April 27-29 and I posted all the information at this link. But, now it’s time to announce the winner of 2 free tickets to attend this amazing event on Friday, April 27, drum roll please…….

The Winner is: Jessica who blogs at: http://blog.jessicastonelevy.com/

But if you did not win, fret not, please go and get your tickets at this website and make sure you enter any of the following codes: CBSMOMS12 or macden12 to get your $2 off PER TICKET! That is a huge savings so don’t pass that up when you check out.

In the meantime, check out the LEGO® kids Fest website, and check out the US Family Guide website who sponsored this great giveaway along with the folks at LEGO®.

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Hunger Games Trilogy: A Book Review & Commentary

Copyright Suzanne Collins, Scholastic Books- all rights reserved

Warning, this is not a movie review but a book review of all three books.  I have not seen the movie yet so I am not yet repulsed by how different it is from the book.  But, I do plan to see it someday.   I also hear a rumor that the guy who played Peeta in the first Hunger Games movie may not re-appear in movies 2 and 3.  In any case, I finally finished reading all three books in the series.  It was not at all what I expected when I first started.  It was an easy read because the books are designed for teens or tweens but a warning for younger kids is that there are some disturbing concepts in this trilogy- alcoholism, cannibalism, death and despair, and killing others out of a forced desperation- a real-life survival, not just of people who live in the districts but the kids who are selected for The Hunger Games.

The background of the book is essential before you watch the movie.  People who do not know the background tend to not like the movie.  So, here is a brief background.  Out of the wars and all the issues that the world faced, a new world of sorts emerges- a country called Panem – it is in the region formerly known as North America.  As opposed to utopia, the type of future depicted by Panem is dystopian which is defined as: “a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, and overcrowding.” The Government of this country called the “Capitol” is a totalitarian form of government.  It is ruled by one dictator through a police state and is tyrannical and oppressive.  The country is divided into 13 districts.  However, as we are told in Book 1, District 13 rebelled and to quash this rebellion, the “Capitol” claims to have destroyed all of District 13.  This was a measure used so the rest of the Districts would not join the rebellion or “get any ideas”   While the Capitol has no resources of its own and essentially feeds, clothes, and shelters itself as a result of items produced in the districts, they still have control through brute force and a police state.  The districts grow crops, hunt, mine, provide clothing and supplies such as oil, and provide police force known as peacekeepers, and the Capitol repays them by teaching them a lesson to never rebel again.  The districts cannot keep their own crops or supplies,  and to get food and rations, they have the possibility (in each district) of sacrificing their children every year to something called the “reaping” which precede the HUNGER GAMES.  Most people live day to day, there is no waste, and there is no surplus except if you work for the Capitol.  As far as the Hunger Games, the rich and well-to-do fare well and their chances of not going are better than those are barely making ends meet.  In sum, the less you have, the more you give up, the less chance you have of ever escaping.  All of the lottery entries for the hunger games are based on how much food your family needs  and again, it is a game of life and survival in each district unless you are in the Capitol or part of the Government.  Each district is required to provide 2 kids between the ages of 12 and 18, a male and female.  The concept is really quite barbaric but allegedly is done to keep everyone in line.  Once in the arena, the children have no choice but to try to survive against one another and all the booby traps, mines and other things the Capitol itself throws into the mix.  The entire thing is televised all day and night, with each district’s members being forced to watch their own die.  Some people put wagers on who will survive and are into it while others are outraged and repulsed but cannot say or do anything about it.  It’s disgusting and makes you ill until you realize there is hope.  Yes, HOPE!

Social media has helped spawn rebellions in a few countries recently which were former dictatorships.  One word, one voice, one action can lead a country to revolt and revolutions can be brought overnight by the thoughts which are brewing for years, or even decades or centuries.  A simple act of defying the Capitol, or doing the right thing can spawn change forever.  The concept of always striving to be free is very prevalent in this series, and it’s not just about hope, freedom, and wanting more, it’s about love and sacrifice.  In the end, the story ends just like it begins -with hope and love. The trilogy keeps you hooked and while it may make you sick at times, that is the whole point. If you got sick at the theater or wanted to stop watching or thought you wasted your money, read the entire series first.  It may make it easier to watch — or, not.

But for me, it did get me thinking — think outside your own neighborhood to what happens in other countries still to this day.  Yes, outside your own backyard, there are still, to this day, tyrannical, oppressive governments and/or dictators who still treat their own people poorly.  Dictators who lie, steal and cheat or use their own people as human shields- or use their people as pawns in world politics.  The poverty level may be high in these countries and while most people live day to day, without wasting a drop, the government lives in a lavish manner without regard to its people.  Many of these governments believe there is a hierarchy, they believe in a concept of a class system and “survival of the fittest” and that the poor do not deserve to get more than fair share to survive daily.  Health conditions are very bad, and black markets flourish so people can survive and help each other through an underground system.  The Government, if they catch these people will publicly hang, flog, maim, kill, or stone them  for deeds that go against its rules and regulations.  There are no constitutional rights nor trials, other than public ones convicting them without any due process.  Yes,there is a good possibility of why we do not like these books or this movie… because it’s true.  It could be happening right now to children, to women, to men, to soldiers.  And there is nothing you can do about it.  The survival game?  Seems very reality-TV-like – people made to watch these gruesome activities in large squares, some of them their own children and if they do not show up to watch, the guards kill the families?  It is retribution from the tyrannical government saying, “we are in control and we will take your children and sacrifice them- so stay in line.”

Is it sadistic and sick?  Yes, but that is what a totalitarian dystopia is.  And now begins my commentary.  I know this may sound extreme considering the books are fiction but even fictional countries like Panem are not formed overnight.  You can just look at certain issues in our society today and how things are handled and see some similarities.  For example, the issues I think of today which Panem reminded me of are an increasingly growing class system, a call to end all social programs of assistance, a “survival of the fittest” attitude among many in our country, and people not wanting to pay for things like education, food programs, and health care, while condoning tax breaks for those who make the most, and beefing up our defense.  But the Hunger Games are so barbaric – that can never happen right? Why yes, it is barbaric, but then we are the same people who enjoy our reality TV while we push our government to be less, for lack of a better of word, “socialistic.”  There are those who could argue on the other side too – too much government is what created Panem to begin with – its involvement in the districts, the brute police force, control, and taking from the districts (akin to States).  I suppose it’s finding that balance in society between both sides which is key. In any case, decide for yourself and again, I digress but honestly, all three books in the series are a good, quick read and I definitely recommend doing that before you head out and watch even the first movie.   And as you think too much into the book like perhaps I did, “may the odds be ever in your favor.”

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Freebies and Discounts for Tax Day 2012

Taxes stink but you can drown your sorrows or your refund in these great deals, discounts, and freebies for Tax Day. Some are right on the big day, April 17, and others are through April 15. So check below, click the links, print the coupons (if necessary), and then, enjoy! When I did a Google search for Tax Day 2012 Freebies and Discounts, this website popped up. So I want to give credit and thanks to “Pocket Your Dollars” as well. But ,there are additional Denver-specific ones too. If I learn about more discounts I will add them and in the meantime, if you know of any great tax day deals or for the week of TAX DAY, April 16 – please post them and share here. THANKS!

FOOD & DRINK

AMC Theaters is giving away free small popcorn with this coupon from April 13-15. Not bad considering you know how I feel about AMC theaters 🙂

Arby’s
Just like last year, Arby’s will have a coupon for free value curly fries on April 17 – check their Facebook page starting Friday, April 13, for the coupon. Print it and voila! Free fries!

Boston Market BOGO
Buy 1 individual meal and a fountain drink and get another individual meal free at Boston Market with coupon.

Bruegger’s Discount
Bruegger’s is offering a great discount for a BAGEL BUNDLE which is their dozen bagels and two cream cheeses for $10.40 when you present their coupon available on their Facebook page. The offer is valid April 13-17.

Chili’s Discount
Get a free appetizer or dessert with the purchase of an adult entrée when you present this Chili’s coupon in printed version or on your smartphone. Coupon is valid from April 16 through April 18. And, if you are active on social media, check-in to Chili’s on four square every time you go for specials like free chips and salsa. So, you can have it all when you combine your coupons which Chili’s graciously lets you do.

Cinnabon Bites
Get your two free bites on Tax Day from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. (includes their mall locations).

Ernie’s Bar & Pizza (Denver): buy two ten-inch pizzas for the price of one, or get half-off a twenty-inch pizza on tax day only.

Qdoba Get a $5 chicken or vegetarian entree with this coupon from their Facebook page. Valid now through Tax Day, April 17th.

Papa Murphy’s Pizza
Get a large pepperoni pizza for $5 at Papa Murphy’s on April 17 or upgrade to family size for only $2 more.

P.F. Chang’s Discount
Save 15% on most everything on its menu* (excluding alcohol and happy hour items) on April 17. No coupon needed. *good on carryout orders too. Make sure that you ask for the discount because it may not be automatic.

Red Robin HOT ends April 15 Kids eat free between April 10-15, with every adult entree purchased but you need a coupon. Click here for the coupon and thanks to “Saving with Brandi” for the coupon on this great deal! This great deal ends April 15 so act this weekend!

Sonic Happy Hour
Happy Hour is going on all day on Tax Day with half-priced drinks and slushies. Yum!

OTHER DISCOUNTS (FREEBIES):

BabyLegs.com – 50% off Sitewide, when you use coupon code TAX50 at checkout

Office Depot
Office Depot is letting customers make 25 single-sided black and white copies and offering up to 5 pounds of shredding for free through April 16. No coupon is necessary, and the offer is valid in stores nationwide. I learned about this offer from Pocker your Dollars so thanks to them!

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They really CAN see you- the dangers of Group MMS messaging texts (Updated on 8/25/2014)

Note: I am editing this post as of 8/25/2014, since I now have switched to an android and a family plan with unlimited text/talk.  But I have had a few more situations to share where group messaging turned “On” have resulted in horrible situations where people were talked about and were on the said group text.  I am urging you all to turn OFF your group messaging off.  When in doubt, keep it OFF.

You thought “reply-all” was taboo and against good netiquette, just wait ’til you my read my latest experiences with group text messaging and the dangers that can bring. People love to send text messages… they love it. It’s trendy, it’s hip, it’s the “thing”, so much so that people have dispensed completely with talking. Here writes a friend of mine, “well, just text me okay- don’t call… we can discuss it over text.” My reply – “I can’t do that dear, I have limited texts per month. I will E-mail you”

sample group message (only 4 recipients) courtesy of (CLICK PIC FOR LINK)

Well, now add to text messaging a new layer of complication – the reply-all of the text message world, known as GROUP MESSAGING. This past Easter, I learned a lot – a whole heck of a lot. I got my FIRST, yup, my first GROUP MMS Text wishing me a “Happy Easter. “ Of course, I do not mind the gesture even though I do not celebrate Easter. It was nice. But then a few minutes I got another message from a phone number I did not recognize, and then another, and then… yes, it prompted me to take a look at what just happened. Wait?! What is going on? Why am I getting texts from all these numbers I do not recognize? Well, folks, welcome to a whole new layer of breach of privacy- the Group Message feature to send texts. What prompted me to write this post was not the text message itself because if I had consented to be part of a group, I would not mind a group text because I consented to it. But this one had a lot of numbers on it and mine was right there among it and when I tried to reply to just my friend, I could not- it replied all. I asked folks to please not do a reply-all if possible because I did not have unlimited text’ing at that time. In return, one person replied with a simple “FU.” Yeah, you read that right. It didn’t get better from there. When I tried to write her again to tell her what number did that and to remove me from her list, this same person wrote me back again “F— You (yes this time he spelled it out) you cheap A$!h0le”. Lovely, now I have two texts I was charged for that basically insult me, are obscene, and are at the tip of my fingertips everywhere I go. Thanks. It’s truly a Happy Easter. As I contemplated a little further, I wondered if the sender of those texts to me, on the holiest of Christian days, went to Church earlier that day and screamed “He Is Risen!” But in any case, instead of writing back or getting even, I decided to do a post warning people about the dangers (there are a lot) of Group MMS Messaging.

Warning #1 to the SENDER of GROUP MESSAGES – My first warning and the lesson I learned from this incident applies to the sender of this group message. Unless your friends have consented to having their cell phone numbers released to a bunch of other people they don’t know, it is total lack of situational awareness (SA) and respect to do so. You should not send group messages because everyone can see everyone’s number if they have their group settings turned “on” and that is just plain rude. SENDER, go check your phone’s settings. I get into detail in Warning #4 below if you have an Iphone how to check your settings. But, please be mindful of group messages. It can be considered poor taste and bad etiquette to do this unless all parties know each other and are okay with group messages being sent out. In sum, STOP SENDING GROUP MESSAGES!  My favorite recent article is posted here:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2013/03/20/modern-mobile-etiquette-group-text-message/   

Seriously, if you hate me, keeping sending me those group messages.  Merry Christmas to you too- Sheesh!  It’s not really about the texting as much as the lack of respect you show for me when I am getting replies from your friends, most of whom are not friends of mine.

Warning #2 to the RECIPIENT OF GROUP MESSAGES- This one is for the recipient, please check your “To” line when you reply. If it states the sender’s name PLUS 19 other recipients, it goes to all 20 recipients (yes, even the one who said “FU”). For example, even though I was trying to message her directly, my messages were reverting back to the GROUP MESSAGE she sent so everyone could see my messages. Yeah, even THAT GUY! Check your settings on your Iphone or other device and turn GROUP MESSAGING OFF. This will prevent you replying to all. I have a friend today who brought up another point on this. What if your friend wrote 5 people in group messaging and one of those recipients is someone you dislike and you do a reply-all without looking at the TO line or figuring out that it is a group message? What if your reply is, “As long as Stacy does not attend, I am there.” What if Stacy receives this REPLY-ALL TEXT? Yeah, well, other than being awkward, there is no taking this back. Also keep in mind that someone may want to send a private message that only the sender would need to see like a very private matter or a health issue and now the entire list sees it. So, recipients, the responsibility is on you as well. A little SA goes a long way in ensuring your privacy as well.
Recent situation I heard about:  A mom’s group sent out a group text about a gathering and a recipient who did not have group messaging turned to the “OFF” position wrote the entire group a nasty comment about someone on the group.  Ouch! That person was in the group and saw the text.  Not cool!  Turn it off.  

courtesy of (click to see link)

Warning #3 CHANGE YOUR SETTINGS TO OFF- Finally, check your phone’s messaging settings. I know this prompted me to do so. For example, if you are an Iphone user and have IOS 5.0 or higher your settings are automatically set to send and receive group messages so go into your settings, go under messages, and change GROUP MESSAGING TO OFF. That should solve the problem of when you reply to FRIEND X who wrote everyone on her phone from sending to all those friends instead of just FRIEND X. But unless the sender and ALL the recipients on the other end have their GROUP MESSAGING turned off, sadly, you will get messages when they do their “reply all”. What a pain! So it really is everyone’s responsibility to maybe turn their group messaging feature OFF so they do not reply all and repeat the mistakes of WARNING #2 & #3.

All in all, it was a troubling situation and I was concerned. For years now, I have been troubled when someone sends family pictures or newsletters and my E-mail address is in the “TO” LINE along with 50 others. I think, wow, this is not a group I consented to and frankly my email address should be in the “Bcc” line but I just assume delete the email and delete the billion REPLY-ALLs that occur and move on. But, now my cell phone number is being shared with random people I do not know and I am supposed to be okay with that? I am supposed to sit back and let someone I do not know send me obscene text messages and be okay with it? I am not okay with it. I wrote this article because of the personal experience I had and I feel very strongly that people should exercise good, sound judgment and netiquette not just on the internet, or E-mail but also with text messaging. Because once you hit “send”, they can see you ….they can ALL see it, and you just never know when it can destroy a relationship, a good friendship or you could lose a job over it so please, please heed these warnings and readers, please add your own netiquette and warnings below. I would love to hear from you


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