My On The Field Experience With The Chicago Cubs {And How YOU Can Have A “Priceless” Experience Too!}

As a blogger in a big city I get to do a lot of fun things but there is nothing I like more than being able to involve my friends and loved ones in my blogging events. When I was invited to enjoy a day at Wrigley Field with the Chicago Cubs courtesy of MasterCard and allowed to bring a guest I knew exactly who I wanted to bring. My little brother is a huge Cubs fan and I knew he’d really have a lot of fun during this once in a lifetime experience. {Make sure to read below to find out how YOU can have a unique experience in Chicago, too!}

Here are some of my favorite pictures from the day:

Love that they promote their social media channels here!

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My little brother, Brock, right after he stepped onto the field :)

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Brock playing catch on the field.

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Brock standing in front of the ivy wall at Wrigley Field.

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ME! Enjoying a relaxing morning on the field

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Hope of Digital Megaphone {she’s the one who invited us along!}

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Me and my little bro :)

During this experience we also enjoyed batting practice in the Chicago Cubs batting cages, got to take souvenir balls, and went to a private party at the Captain Morgan’s Club where we had lunch.

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Do you want to have a once in a lifetime experience like this? YOU CAN!!

This event was part of MasterCard’s Priceless Chicago promotion. MasterCard offers priceless experiences to their cardholders. You can find out more details on MasterCard’s website but here are a few experiences that may interest you or your family members:

Pre-Game VIP Party at Wrigley Field

Brunch at the American Girl Doll Place with Author Valerie Tripp

A day of beauty at Neiman Marcus’s Michigan Avenue store

Private 15 Course Meal with Top Chef Richie Farina

(Disclosure: I attended this event courtesy of MasterCard and Digital Megaphone free of charge. All thoughts are my own.)

How To Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular {Discount Code}

DREAMWORKS HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON LIVE SPECTACULAR is coming to Chicago! It will be at the United Center this weekend. The first show is on Thursday, July 26 at 7:00 PM. Other showtimes are Friday, July 27 at 7:00 PM; Saturday, July 28 at 11:00 AM, 3:00 PM and 7:00 PM; and Sunday, July 29 at 1:00 PM and 5:00 PM. All shows have free parking at official United Center parking lots for all performances.

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON LIVE SPECTACULAR was created by DreamWorks Animation, producers of the Academy Award®-nominated film, How to Train Your Dragon, which opened as the #1 film in more than 30 countries, and Global Creatures, the masterminds behind the international phenomenon Walking with Dinosaurs, the #1-grossing world tour of 2010. 

The live production rolls fire-breathing action, epic adventure and heartfelt laughter into an original captivating story set in the mythical world of Vikings and wild dragons.  Based on the book by Cressida Cowell, it centers on Hiccup, a Viking teenager who doesn’t fit in with his tribe’s longstanding tradition of heroic dragon slayers.  Hiccup’s world is turned upside down when he encounters a dragon that challenges him and his fellow Vikings to see the world from an entirely different point of view.

Find more information about the show at www.dreamworksdragonslive.com.

Ticket Prices:

Tickets are on sale now and start at $26.50 plus applicable facility fees and service charges.

Discount Code:

Save 25% nationwide on select seats for weekday performances (including Fridays)

with code MOM on ticketmaster.com

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(Disclosure: I received a family pack of tickets to attend the show in exchange for posting about the show and sharing my honest opinions afterwards.)

Free Vision Screenings At The Taste Of Chicago

Chicago is a beautiful city. I love walking along the lake and staring out into the water and watching as the boats bob up and down. I love walking down the streets and seeing all of the intricate details of the buildings as I peer up into the sky and see buildings disappear into the clouds. I love seeing nature in the city and walking among flowers in the various gardens that offer green space in between all of the brick and concrete. I love learning about history, science, and more at our many museums. If parking costs weren’t an issue I’d be bringing my children into the city every weekend to introduce them to everything Chicago has to offer. The few times they have been downtown they just stand in awe of the city, especially when they stand next to the skyscrapers!

Transitions Optical is hosting a sightseeing tour and will be listing the 10 top sightseeing spots in Chicago. You can check out their website in the coming weeks as they unveil their list. I’m interested to see if some of my favorites made the list. If I were making it I would include the Sears Tower {yes I know it has a new name but I refuse to call it anything other than it’s “real” name}, Navy Pier, the Shedd Aquarium, Michigan Avenue, and the lakefront.

The Taste of Chicago is in town through the 15th and that brings a whole new variety of things to see. I love going to the Taste and trying new foods. I also love “people watching”. So many people crowded into one area makes for an interesting experience but it’s a lot of fun regardless of the crowds.

If you are headed to the Taste of Chicago make sure to look for the tent to get your vision screened compliments of Vision Works. I think it’s great that these screenings are being offered because I know that when we are all busy it’s not something we think to get done but getting your vision, and your children’s vision, tested is so important. You wouldn’t want to walk around the city of Chicago and not be able to see it’s beauty clearly!

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Learn more about Transitions Optical, the official sponsor of sightseeing at http://seemoresights.com/

Connect with Transitions Lenses on Facebook

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Ways to give back:

I wanted to share about My Eye Promise. According to Transitions Lenses, nearly 50 percent of vision loss can be prevented with an eye exam. If you make a promise to take care of your eyes, Transitions Optical will donate a brand new book to a mobile literacy initiative. Sounds like a win-win for everyone! Find out more details at myeyepromise.com.

There is also a  “Sight of the Day” photo contestwhere people can enter to win an amazing getaway. For every photo uploaded a quarter will be donated to Optometry Giving Sight.

(Disclosure: I received compensation to participate in a SocialMoms and Transitions Optical blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own. To read more posts on this topic, click here.)

My Experience At Ribfest {With Ty Pennington & Sears}

I posted back in June about the Sears “Grilling Is Happiness” live event and how I was so excited because Ty Pennington was going to be there. I wanted to follow up and update you all about my experience and share lots of pictures, too!

Friday night I went to a media/blogger event at a beautiful hotel. There were about 10 bloggers, people from Sears, and then the cooking and lifestyle experts. The experts that attended the event were Ty Pennington {best known for Extreme Makeover Home Edition}, Robyn Lindars of Grill Grrrl, Perry Perkins of Burnin’ Love BBQ, and George Hirsch {a cooking and lifestyle expert}. We ate delicious food while chatting about grilling and blogging. It was also a great chance to get some pictures taken:

Ty & I

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Robyn & I

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Some of the Collective Bias Social Fabric bloggers at the event: myself, Laura, Kelly, and Michelle

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The dessert- yum!

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Saturday I attended the Ribfest in Naperville, IL. This is an annual event with many barbeque restaurants participating. This year Sears participated and hosted a “Grilling Is Happiness” event with live grilling demonstrations, pictures opportunities, and a chance to enter their sweepstakes to win some great prizes. Here are some pictures I took at the Ribfest:

George Hirsch showing off the Kenmore Grill he is using

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Shrimp that George Hirsch made with the help of Ty Pennington {I tasted it and it was delicious! He paired it with asian style noodles.}

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Ty being interviewed by ABC News

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Trying to stay cool on a hot day

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Perry showing what he uses to grill

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I learned a lot watching the experts grill and think it’s great that Sears included a woman in their panel of experts. I don’t know a lot about grilling but seeing that a girl could grill just as well as the men could made me want to go outside and figure out how to use the grill I just bought last month. I also loved how she made a variety of things on the grill that I’d never think to make. She even makes dessert on the grill! {Check out her grilled pound cake recipe}

I had so much fun at the event and took over 60 pictures! You can view the rest of my pictures in my Google+ photo album. I also took two videos at the Ribfest. The first is of Robyn giving a couple of her grilling tips and the second is of Ty sharing a grilling story with the crowd.

If you are in the Chicago area I encourage you to attend the Naperville Ribfest next year! You will not be disappointed. The food is amazing, they have live bands playing throughout the fest, and they even have a fun family area with lots of things to keep the kids busy.

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Connect with Sears:

Sears on Facebook, Sears on Twitter, Shop Your Way on Twitter, Sears Local Ad

Connect with Ribfest:

Ribfest on Facebook, Ribfest on Twitter

(Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Sears. #CBias #SocialFabric #GrillingIsHappiness All thoughts are my own.)

Spring Fun In Chicago

My family has enjoyed a lot of outside time these past couple weeks. It’s been wonderful but as much fun as we’ve had in the backyard, I am already looking forward to getting out and about around Chicago. I headed to Kidgrade.com for some ideas of places we could go that are family friendly. I like the site because there are ratings from other parents on how kid-friendly places are. Here are a few of the places I want to take the boys this Spring:

Places we have never been to before:

Blackberry Historical Farm (Aurora, IL)

Chicago Botanic Garden (Glencoe, IL)

Exploritorium (Skokie, IL)

Kaitlin’s Hideout- A Play Center For Children With Autism (Glen Ellyn, IL)

Places we have been to before and can’t wait to return to:

Brookfield Zoo (Brookfield, IL)

DuPage Children’s Museum (Naperville, IL)

Morton Arboretum (Lisle, IL)

Wilderness Falls (Bolingbrook, IL)

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If you live in the Chicago area what fun places are you looking forward to taking your family?

(Disclosure: I am a Kidgrade Ambassador but all thoughts are my own. I was not asked to write this post and am not being compensated for it but I do receive “perks” as an ambassador.)

Opportunity To Play Game With Inventor {Chicago}

If you live in the Chicago area I have a special opportunity for you! One lucky reader will have the chance to play a round of the game Telestrations with the the inventor himself and others at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair. The winner of the game will receive a supply of USAopoly board games just in time for holiday gifting. The game with the Telestrations inventor will take place on November 20th at 2 p.m. at the Telestrations booth.

What Is Telestrations?

ABOUT THE GAME: Telestrations is the laugh-out-loud sketch, pass and guess party game by USAopoly where players simultaneously draw what they see, then guess what they saw to reveal outcomes that are hilarious and unpredictable. In essence, it’s the telephone game sketched out!

WHAT’S DIFFERENT:
 Everyone plays at the same time, it’s multi-generational, interactive and engaging. It’s light-hearted and provides instant fun and laughter. Telestrations is simple to learn and play. It’s a great icebreaker and perfect for game night.

BASICS:
 In this fun and modern twist on the classic “telephone game,” everyone plays at the same time. Each player gets their own erasable sketch book, dry-erase marker and word card. A roll of the die determines each player’s secret starting word. The timer gets turned and everyone draws their word. After 60 seconds, everyone passes their book to the player on their left. Then each player takes a few seconds to guess what they see, write it down, and passes again. The timer is turned and everyone draws what they see. This play continues until everyone’s sketch book passes by every player and returns back to its original owner, at which point it’s time to see what happened to each secret word. Points can be scored if the last guess matches the secret word, and for favorite sketch and written guess in each book. Just like the game of “telephone”, the outcomes are unpredictable and the laughter is inevitable.
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GIVEAWAY
One reader will win a ticket to the Chicago Toy and Game Fair and a seat at the table to play the game.
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HOW TO ENTER
Leave a comment saying you’d like to play the game
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Giveaway ends on November 16, 2011 at 11:59pm Central time.
(Disclosure: I received a copy of the game but all thoughts are my own.)

Fashion Bloggers and…. ME!

Earlier this week my friend, Paula, and I attended an event with the Chicago Blogger Network. While I had fun, I felt out of place because almost everyone there was young, fashionable, and well, basically me before I had two kids. (Though I don’t think I was ever as fashion forward as these fashion bloggers were!)

You can check out all the really cute outfits here. Pictures were taken by @Tyliner of Darkroom Demons.

Here was my look:

Jokingly I asked Sinisa before I left if he thought I would win an award for being the most stylish. He said “NO!” He explained that he didn’t like my scarf or my jeans and probably could have went on but I stopped him. I said “thanks honey. You were just supposed to say yes.” Haha.

So Sinisa didn’t think I was the most fashionable but I thought I looked cute. What do you think? If you think I look at least somewhat decent I would love if you could visit my post on the Chicago Blogger Network page and leave a comment under my picture. I made it easy for you all and linked right to my page. The person with the most comments gets an IPod Touch! :)

To find out more about the party you can view the tweets from the evening with the hashtag #CBNTRIBUTEPARTY.

(Disclosure: I attended this event free of charge as a member of the Chicago Blogger Network.)

Social Media Masters Summit (For Bloggers!)

The 3rd Annual Social Media Masters Summit is coming to Chicago October 25th and 26th! This is one event that you do NOT want to miss since it is a fantastic way to learn about the best practices in the industry as well as meet other fabulous bloggers and brand/agency reps. They wanted to make sure the event was easy for you to afford, so a VIP blogger ticket to the event is only $99 (corporate people are paying $349 for the same ticket!!)

Your VIP Ticket includes all events on October 25th and 26th…

Bonus Sessions on the 25th include:

7 Day Video Challenge: V-log guru, Danielle Smith (@DanielleSmithTV), will be leading a session that will help you take your v-logs to the next level. This session will be very interactive as Danielle helps YOU become more comfortable in front of the webcam in addition to helping you create v-logs that will draw more viewers!

Driving Traffic with Community Building, SEO & Beyond: Sean McGinnis and Dan Newman started 12most just a few months ago, but their site already receives hundreds of thousands of unique visitors regularly. Joining Sean & Dan on this panel is Emerson Spartz of Spartz Media, which generates over one hundred million unique page views across their three websites. How did they do it? Let them tell you first hand!

Community Management on the FLY with Southwest Airlines: Southwest Airlines is hands down the leader when it comes to the airline industry and social media. Brooks Thomas from the Emerging Media team at SWA will lead a Power Session on how they leverage Twitter, Facebook and blog to interact with customers and increase customer satisfaction and will also share about their new blog that uses customer generated content.

Dress to Impress Red Carpet and Avatar/ Headshot Photo Session: Come to this event looking your best! We’re going to have professional photographers on hand to take head shots that can be used as your default picture across all your social media networks. Remember – this is often the first thing someone sees when visiting your various networking pages. First impressions count!

And of Course, First Class Networking… Bring your business cards, a firm handshake, and a smile! You’ll be mingling with the speakers, bloggers, your peers, and of course, our wonderful sponsor – Critical Mass!

Don’t Forget The Full-Day Summit on the 26th featuring Walgreens, Kellogg’s, Jockey, Pepsi, Domino’s and more…

As if it couldn’t get any better, they just added two VERY cool sessions – Just for you!!

Blogger/Influencer Breakfast sponsored by Jockey and Calumet Photo

Meet with brand representatives from Jockey and Calumet while you enjoy breakfast with other bloggers and social influencers. After breakfast and mingling you’ll have the option of going on a power walk lead by a fitness expert or a Photo tour lead by Teresa Peek who will show you how to enhance your photography skills by taking photos from a different perspective.

Danielle Smith / Aliza Sherman – Mom, Incorporated Book Signing

Meet Entrepreneurs Aliza Sherman (founder of Cybergrrl, Inc., Webgrrls International and Mediaegg) and Danielle Smith (founder Danielle Smith Media and ExtraordinaryMommy.com) who have joined forces to write a book that helps women who are already moms (or are thinking about becoming moms in the future) learn how to take charge of the family/work balance by starting their own businesses. Mom, Incorporated is a holistic, user-friendly book that draws on Aliza and Danielle’s own experiences as well as the experiences of other moms who’ve started their own successful businesses.

If you can’t make it to the summit you can still come to the Breakfast and/or the Book Signing which are free. If you can make it to the summit you’ll get a free copy of Mom Incorporated with the paid $99 VIP Blogger Ticket!

A HUGE shout out to the breakfast and book signing hostesses @SassyMomChicago and @selfmademom!

How do YOU go VIP?

Just pick the VIP Blogger Ticket option when you register!

REGISTER TODAY

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Are you a business that wants to attend the Summit?

Full event details are at: http://smmsblogger.eventbee.com

EARLY BIRD PRICING ENDS THIS MONDAY, OCTOBER 17TH AT 2PM.

Register today using code “cb20” and save 20% on your registration.

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(Disclosure: I am receiving a ticket to the Summit in exchange for spreading the word about this awesome event. All thoughts are my own.)

I’m A Kidgrade Ambassador!

I’m happy to announce that I have been chosen as a Kidgrade Ambassador for the 2011-2012 school year! Kidgrade.com is an awesome site that lets you rate how kid-friendly places around the Chicagoland area are. Here is more information about the site:

Once you become a member of the site it’s easy to “grade” a place. You just login, rate the location, and you also have the option of leaving comments.

Our first group meetup was at a place called Kookaburra Play Cafe. The children played, we enjoyed snacks and chatting with one another, and also learned more about our role as Kidgrade Ambassadors. While there we graded the location:

As you can see the location information is provided including address, hours, and pictures of the play area. The location was also graded on price, location, parking, and if it was kid-equipped. Instead of heading out to a place without knowing much about it you can head to Kidgrade.com and see what real parents think about the location! What a great idea!

(Disclosure: I did not receive compensation for posting about Kidgrade or the meetup at Kookaburra Play Cafe but I am receiving special perks as an ambassador and received a gift bag from Kidgrade. All thoughts are my own.)

Chicago Blogs To Check Out

For today’s Top Ten Tuesday I want to share ten wonderful blogs that focus on the Chicago area:

1) ChiTown Moms

2) The Chicago Moms

3) ChiTown Cheapskate

4) Toddling Around Chicagoland

5) Super Suburbs

6) My Chicago Kids

7) West Of The Loop

8) Go West Young Mom

9) ParentSphere

10) Sassy Moms In The City

Want to find other Chicago area bloggers? Here’s a list!

 

Plum District Deal {And A Fundraiser For Chicago Schools}

The busiest people in the community — moms — are often the most plugged-in.  And for them, the Internet is often the best tool to (re)discover what’s in their own backyard.  Plum District was created just for moms.

Plum District connects moms with daily deals and inspirations from businesses in their community, and helps them get the most out of their day—for their families and for themselves.

Plum District deal and giveaway that ends TODAY, Sunday, September 18th:

  • Use the code fall2fab at checkout for an extra 15% off all Plum District Deals!
  • Plum District is also giving away a virtual gift basket of deals to one lucky winner.  (How do you win? Just purchase a deal TODAY and you are eligible! Virtual gift baskets are worth $230. Winner will be notified the following day by email. You are eligible by purchasing any local or national deal.)


EASY FUNDRAISER FOR CHICAGO AND NORTH SHORE SCHOOLS:

About Plum District’s School Fundraisers for Chicago (city only) and North Shore Schools

Plum District offers Chicago and North Shore schools the EASIEST SCHOOL FUNDRAISER EVER!

Every time a parent from your school (or their friends and family) subscribes to Plum District, Plum District will donate $3 to your child’s school.

And the best part – this fundraiser does not require ANY BUYING OR SELLING!

Here’s How It Works…

  1. Fill out this online form for your school.
  2. Plum District Chicago will send the appointed person your school’s unique referral link and an email template to send to parents.
  3. Publicize your school’s unique link to your school families and friends (email newsletter, fliers in the students’ backpacks, etc).
  4. For every parent that signs up as a new subscriber to Plum District using your school’s referral link, your school will receive $3!

Some of the Logistics

  • There is no cap on the number of people that can sign up (and no limit to the amount of money your school can raise).
  • Plum District will send a check to your school within 4 weeks from the fundraiser end date.
  • No buying or selling is required.

School Fundraiser Contests

  • If you fill out the online fundraising form before September 30, your school will be entered into a drawing to win an additional $250.
  • The Chicago school that raises the most money for their school through Plum District’s fundraiser by October 31 will get an additional $300 for their school!

(Disclosure: This is a compensated post and the information is provided by Plum District.)

Chicago’s Most Valuable Blogger Finalist

I have some exciting news! Making Time For Mommy is a Finalist in CBS Chicago’s “Most Valuable Blogger” contest! I would love if you could vote for me! There is no registering required, just a simple click on the button here and the vote button once you get to my page. You can vote daily. This is such an honor and I really appreciate the support! :) THANK YOU!

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Chicago Area Families- Event Today! (And Recap of #gmchiCARgo Event)

Today at 4pm in Naperville, IL we will be hosting a storytime to raise funds for the Toys For Tots Literacy program. Melisa Wells, author of Chicken In The Car And The Car Won’t Go: Nearly 200 Ways To Enjoy Chicagoland With Tweens And Teens, will be our celebrity reader. If you have young children and a heart for the cause you can find more information on the Facebook event page. Feel free to invite your friends, too!

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(Picture from ChickenInTheCar.com)

I had a chance to meet Melisa Wells at her book launch on Tuesday night during her #gmchiCARgo River “Cruze”. I had a great time meeting other Chicago area bloggers, tweeters, and brand representatives at the event while enjoying a boat ride. I loved that as a group we filled a Chevy Cruze with items for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwestern Indiana. You can read Melisa’s thoughts on the success of the event here.

My thoughts on the book:

I am the mom of two toddlers so I didn’t think that I would find much useful information in a book written for families of teens and tweens but I was happy to find that most of the information in the book worked for families with children of all ages. I love that the book includes information about places that are located in the suburbs. So many Chicago “travel” books forget that not everyone who calls themselves a Chicagoan lives within the city limits. Along with places to go for family fun, Melisa shares her tips for creating a personalized family summer camp which is a great alternative to costly, traditional summer camps.

(Disclosure: I was invited to the book launch by Melisa but all opinions are my own.)

Help Conquer Kids’ Cancer With Spark Energy Chicago

Spark Energy Chicago to Raise Some Green for St. Baldrick’s!

It’s time to raise some “GREEN” for St. Baldrick’s!  For every “Like” Spark Energy Chicago gets on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter now through the end of March, the company will donate $1 to The St. Baldrick’s Foundation – to conquer kids’ cancer.

Make the Switch to Spark Energy and an Additional $25 Goes to St. Baldrick’s

Want to raise more money for St. Baldrick’s while saving 16% on your monthly electric bill? Make the switch to Spark Energy (www.sparkenergy.com) and enter the code BALDRICKS and they will donate an additional $25 (through March 31, 2011). Spread the word!

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(Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post- just wanted to share how a quick Facebook “like” or Twitter “follow” could help a child with cancer.)

Spark Energy in Chicago Offers a FREE Session at Pump It Up!

Chicago-area residents now have the opportunity to CHOOSE an energy provider! Spark Energy is a multi-state provider of low-cost electric service offering significant long-term savings to current ComEd customers. Learn more at http://www.sparkenergy.com/ .

To Celebrate, Spark Energy in Chicago Offers a FREE Session of Jumping Fun at Pump It Up!

This President’s Day – Monday, February 21st – many children will be off of school and moms will be searching for kid-friendly activities. Spark Energy in Chicago will be offering a downloadable coupon for a FREE session of jumping fun at designated Chicago-area Pump It Up locations.

How to download the coupon – available beginning at 5:00 p.m. CST on 2/19:
· Like Spark Energy in Chicago on Facebook.

· Click on the Offers tab to download and print the Pump It Up coupon for ONE free session of jumping fun for Monday, February 21st – one coupon per adult – while supplies last!

· Present the original printed coupon to one of the designated Pump It Up locations (see coupon for locations) and receive one free session of jumping fun.

(Disclosure: I occasionally receive compensation in the form of gift cards and products for posts. However, the opinions I share are solely my own.)

#KidGrade Twitter Party

Come join me for a party! A Twitter party that is! :)

When: TOMORROW, November 29th 7-8pm CT

Hashtag: #kidgrade (Follow the hashtag, KidGrade and us on TweetGrid.)

Prizes:

  • Grand Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card (must RSVP and be present to win)
  • $25 Target Gift Card from Sunshine Rewards
  • $25 Gino’s East Pizza Gift Card
  • Kids Travel Kits
  • Family Travel Guide Books

Plus, get more information on how you can win an iPod just for reviewing your favorite family spots!

Chat Hosts:

@Inexpensively
@KidGrade

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Wondering what a Twitter party is and how you can participate? Here is a Twitter party “guide”:
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(Disclosure: I have been compensated for hosting this event, through the Inexpensively network, but all opinions are my own.)