October 31, 2010

David Archuleta "The Other Side of Down" *Review and Giveaway

The Other Side of Down is the latest release from American Idol runner-up, David Archuleta. This album has an overwhelmingly positive message. I love that it's family-friendly with content that's safe for ears of all ages.

While it's nothing shockingly new or innovative, it has a great overall sound, catchy lyrics, and a varied set of songs. Archuleta showcases his vocal talent that fans of American Idol season eight grew to expect and anticipate. I definitely appreciated the wide range of songs. There is a good mix of upbeat pop songs and slower ballads.

My favorite has to be "Falling Stars," a soulful song of love lost. The song showcases Archuleta's vocal range. I also enjoyed the message of the song "Complain."
Cause I don’t always get everything I wanted
Doesn’t turn out just the way I thought it all should be
Baby, I can’t complain
No more wasting my time looking in the mirror
Wishing my life was a little bit clearer
No way - Baby, I can’t complain

If you're looking for something edgy, look elsewhere. It's not cutting edge, it's not Lady Gaga (thank goodness), but it is a highly enjoyable, optimistic offering from the teenage sensation.

You can check out the music video for "Something 'Bout Love."

Two lucky readers will win a copy of the The Other Side of Down CD by David Archuleta.You can check out the CD by visiting the Sony Music Store.

Mandatory Entry (Must be completed before other entries will be counted.
*Do you watch American Idol? Who has been your favorite contestant?

Extra Entries
  • "Like" David Archuleta on Facebook
  • Follow Mommy's Minute on GFC, Twitter, or Facebook. (1 entry each) 
  • Tweet this giveaway (once daily) 
Giveaway open to US, 18+. Winner will be selected by Random.org and will be notified by e-mail. Please leave your e-mail address in your comment or have your e-mail visible in your public profile. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to notification or an alternate winner will be selected. 

I received a complimentary CD to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed are my honest thoughts of the product.

October 26, 2010

Five Tips for Making Benefit Planning easier

It seems like every year around this time I get a huge packet of information in the mail from our insurance company. Sometimes with the information overload it can be hard to select the right plan, or even find enough time to sit down and read through the plethora of information. However, as money is often tight, selecting the proper benefit combination is crucial. It can dramatically affect your out of pocket costs and your monthly premiums.

1. Know what you need. Take a look at last year's medical expenses. How much did you spend? Did you meet your deductible? Evaluating whether or not your current plan met your needs is an important first step.

2. Know what you get. Some health plans include wellness benefits like discounted gym memberships or massages. Take advantage of these services! You're paying for them.

3. Know what's NOT covered. Just as it's important to know what you get with your plan, it's also important to know what types of things are not covered. I learned the hard way that some of my routine lab work was not considered routine by the insurance company and ended up having to pay $1000 out of pocket. Trust me - if I had known it was not covered, I would not have had it done. Good information to know.

4. Open an FSA. A flexible spending account is a great way to pay for your medical expenses. Most of the money in the FSA is exempt from taxes. You can even have your employer deduct it automatically. If you're going to be paying for your medical bills anyway, then you might as well take advantage of the tax-free benefits. (Just a note: starting in 2013 there will be a $2500 annual cap on FSA contributions)

5. Can you get paid to workout? Some insurance plans offer incentives for healthy lifestyles that include exercise and good nutrition. (After all, if you're healthier, they have to pay for fewer medical claims). It just might be the motivation you need to get off the couch and get moving.

Even though the information seems a bit overwhelming at times, there is certainly a huge benefit in understanding what your plan includes. Education helps you make informed decisions as to the best fit for your family. Everyone is different and so is each medical plan. Get the most for your money - plan ahead to devote a bit of time to choosing your health benefits. You can do it in less than an hour. It's definitely worth the investment.


I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Aetna blogging program, making me eligible to get a $30 Target gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

October 17, 2010

KT Tunstall "Tiger Suite" CD - Review

Tiger Suit is the third studio album singer-songwriter KT Tunstall. This album features what she calls "Nature Techno," a blend of dance rhythms and organic instrumentation. The single "Fade Like a Shadow" has already become a Top 20 radio hit.

I have to admit, I'm not a fan of the album. I gave it an honest try and listened straight through. To be honest there is only one song that I would add to my iPod playlist - "Lost." Most of the other songs simply did not appeal to me. Here's an example of some lyrics from the song "Glamour Puss:"

"Baby juggles fire in a blindfold
Riding in a motorcycle
Through a hula-hoop but it
Sounds like dust on your record
You're showing the pressure
Of doing loop-de-loop-de-loop."
 I guess I'm just not quite hip enough. I don't envision this becoming one of my favorite albums. If you like Tunstall's previous CDs, this one might be up your alley. I tend to get annoyed by techno beats and abstract lyrics. Tiger Suit was not quite my cup of tea.

Fans of Tunstall may be interested to know that she will be on tour this Fall (10/31-12/1). She also has a website and Facebook Fan Page. 

Feel free to preview the album yourself by clicking here. I'd be curious to know your thoughts on the album.


I received a complimentary copy of the album as part of the One2One Network's review team. I am entered to win a gift card through One2One Network by participating. The opinions expressed are my honest thoughts of the product.

Masquerade - by Nancy Moser * Book Review

MasqueradeCharlotte Gleason was raised seldom hearing the word "no." Dora, on the other hand has been raised to serve the affluent Gleason family on their English estate. A trip to America to meet a wealthy, potential husband for Lottie offers both women the opportunity to embrace a whole new life.

In a switch reminiscent of The Prince and the Pauper, Lottie and Dora decide to trade places. Lottie hopes to avoid a loveless arranged marriage, and Dora gets the opportunity to live a life of luxury. What could possibly go wrong?

I'm a sucker for historical fiction, especially when it concerns fancy balls and high society. I think most of us still have dreams of Cinderella balls, intricate gowns, and elaborate multi-course dinners. The novel was a fun escape from the real world of watching Cinderella, wearing sweatpants, and reheating whatever happens to be in the freezer.

I enjoyed getting to know the characters and was somewhat sad when the story had to end. If you enjoy seeing how the other half lives, or learning more about New York City in the 1880s, pick up Masquerade.
4 out of 5 stars.


I received a complimentary copy of the book from Bethany House to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed are my honest thoughts of the book.

October 12, 2010

10 ideas for incorporating fun and play into your child’s daily activities.

When your child plays, they are doing more than stacking blocks or coloring inside (or outside) the lines. Each moment of play is building pathways and connections in the brain that they will carry with them for the rest of their life. Sound like a big task? Not if you take a little time to incorporate fun and play into your child's daily activities.

My little one is just over a year old. So, while a lot of our skills are still developing, I try to reinforce what he is learning as we go throughout our day.

1. "Where's the beef?" Ok, maybe not. But my little boy likes playing "Where's the duck?" Once you've read a children's book a thousand times, it's fun to look for new ways to enjoy looking through the pages. We try to look for a specific animal on the page to help build his vocabulary and recognition of the object's name.

2."Hide and Seek." Kids enjoy the thrill of discovery. Get on their level and join in a quick game of hide and seek. Make sure your hiding places are safe and age appropriate (hiding behind a pillow may be all you need to do to get a toddler giggling).

3. Play with your food. Uncooked macaroni and dried beans make excellent arts and craft items. You can talk about how things can have multiple uses. They can fill our tummies and help us share something beautiful with friends and family.

4. Sing. Sing a song. You don't have to be a grammy-award-winning artist to sing to your kids. Sing a song about putting on their shoes, or buttoning their coat. Any mundane task can be jazzed up when you add a melody.

5. Do you see what I see? This is a great game for keeping kids occupied at grocery stores or on trips. It's the classic game of "I Spy." At the grocery store you could say, "I see something yellow and yummy." I can guarantee you my son would quickly spot the "nanas."

6. What would you do? There are tons of fun books and movies for kids, but it's important to engage their mind, not just entertain them. It's fun to ask your kids, "what would YOU have done if you had super powers?" "Did you think they made a good choice when they decided to . . . what would you do instead?"

7. The alphabet game. It's a roadtrip classic. Locate letters of the alphabet on roadsigns and billboards starting with "a" and making your way through all of the letters of the alphabet. For a little one who is just learning their letters you can play a simplified version of the game and look for one certain letter anywhere. For example: "Ok, I want you to see where you can find the letter A on our way to the grocery store."

8. Cooking up fun. We've all got to eat. Why not include the kids in the prep work? Find safe and simple tasks for your kids to accomplish in the kitchen. Have them tear lettuce or stir the batter in the bowl. They will feel proud of their accomplishments and will be learning valuable skills to help them later in life.

9. Talk it up. I've heard of families that include the "Mad, Sad, and Glad" game as part of their family dinner time together. Each individual takes turns sharing about their day and telling something that made them mad, something that made them sad, and something that made them glad. It's a good conversation starter and is a healthy and fun way for kids to share how they are feeling (and to learn that grown-ups have feelings too).

 10. Freeze.  Tell your kiddos that you've just gotten word that an invisible blizzard is coming into town and at any moment it could strike. No matter where you are when you say "Freeze" everyone is to stop mid motion. When you say "Heat Wave," everyone goes back to normal. It's fun to keep them guessing. Who knows, a blizzard could strike during dinner, during bath time, or as your playing a family game together.

The most important play resource your child has is YOU! You don't have to have tons of cash or flashy electronic equipment. All you need is a willingness to spend a little time on their level. Look for the adventure and fun in your daily activities. Have fun and your kids will too!


“I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and The Hub blogging program, making me eligible to get a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”