{GIVEAWAY CLOSED} $100 GNC Gift Card Giveaway

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Three months ago, as the new year began, most of us embarked on a journey to get fit, eat healthier, and maintain an active lifestyle. It's just what happens when a new year begins. However, three months later, many lose motivation and run out of steam. Lack of motivation and too time consuming are culprits of giving up on a fitness program.

It's time to re-motivate, and since March is "National Nutrition Month", it's the perfect time to refresh your fitness and nutrition regimes. I've got the perfect incentive to get you started. Pieces of a Mom is giving away a $100 GNC gift card to one lucky reader.

GNC offers everything from vitamins and supplements to energy and endurance products to cleansing and detoxing products. GNC also offers beauty products including teeth whiteners, soaps and scrubs, lotions and creams, and sunless tanners. No, GNC is not just about vitamins anymore. This may surprise you, but GNC also offers a full line of pet products including food, hip and joint health products, and milk supplements for puppies and kittens.

Isn't it time to start taking care of yourself? Wouldn't this gift card be a great way to start? YES and YES!


1. Required entry: To be eligible to win this giveaway, you must "like" the GNC Facebook page and you must follow GNC's marketing directory, Jeff Hennion on Twitter.. Leave one comment for both of these items. Please be sure to include your Facebook profile name, Twitter handle, and email address in the following format piecesofamom at gmail dot com.

2. Optional entry: Follow GNC on Twitter. Leave a comment stating that you do and be sure to include your Twitter handle.

3. Optional entry: Follow Pieces of a Mom via Google Friend Connect. Leave a comment stating that you are a follower.

4. Optional entry: "Like" Pieces of a Mom on Facebook. Leave a comment indicating that you do and include your Facebook profile name.

5. Optional entry: Follow Pieces of a Mom on Twitter. Leave a comment stating that you do and include your Twitter handle.

All entries must be submitted by April 7, 2011 at 11:59 ET. One lucky winner will be chosen via Random.org and once notified will have 48 hours to respond. Giveaway is open to residents of the United States.

Love a good giveaway? Check out the full list of giveaways from other Philly Social Media Moms.

Disclosure: I received a $100 GNC gift card in exchange for my time. No other compensation was received for this post. All opinions expressed herein are solely mine. To view my full disclosure policy, click here.

Eyes wide shut

Monday, March 28, 2011
As parents, we hear it all the time. "Don't turn your back for a second. Anything can happen in the split second that you're not looking."

It really takes only a second for something to happen. Falling out of a highchair, touching a hot oven, pulling a heavy object. All of which can cause serious injury and sometimes can be fatal.

Last week, I had one of those "turn your back" moments. And although it was nothing close to fatal, it still served as a wake-up call for me, reminding me to keep my eyes wide open. Before you start thinking that I left my children how unattended, let me explain.

Harper was taking a bath, happily splashing away as I flitted in and out of the bathroom. After I helped her wash her hair, I set her up with her bath toys. She was playing contentedly. Or so I thought. After about 2 minutes, she asked me to turn to look at what she had done. I figured it was going to be a "smoothie". She adds a little bit of her bath wash to a cup full of water and voila! A smoothie for Mommy.

As I turned to look, I saw it immediately. I comb twisted around her hair. Her long bangs were twisted up to her scalp. I tried to muffle a scream. I went into panic mode. I didn't have to feel it to know that it was twisted so tightly that I feared the only option was to cut her hair. The comb wouldn't budge. There was no leeway for the hair.

I put conditioner on it and tried to soak it in the water to loosen it from the deathly grips of the comb. Not moving. I tried unraveling it strand by strand, but that was neither practical nor possible. We were both near tears. She had just had her hair trimmed a week prior and was so proud of her haircut. I didn't have the heart to tell her that they only way to get the comb out of her hair was to cut it.
The evidence

How could I possibly cut the comb out without totally wreaking havoc on her bangs? I envisioned spiky, punk-like bangs reminiscent of rockers from the 80's. But I had to do it. I had no other choice. I reached for the scissors and held my breath as I cut the comb from her hair. I feared super-short, choppy bangs. We were lucky. This time. Her bangs turned out fine. They are long enough to pull back, and if we don't, they don't look ridiculous. They are actually cute, side-swept bangs.

We got lucky. This time.

AboutOne Giveaway - 3 Yearly Subscriptions

Saturday, March 26, 2011
Give AboutOne's smart, family management system a try with their Free Trial Passport (absolutely no cost to you and no credit card required). Click the link below for a trial and to be registered to win 1 of 3 free Yearly Plan (a $30 value) subscription upgrades. If you are not one of the lucky winners, you will receive a promo code for 25% off a Yearly Plan subscription upgrade. See entry requirements below.

As a mother, it's important for me to keep important documents and information organized. It is often a challenge. I place a document in a folder and put the folder in a closet, only to be forgotten the next time I need it. AboutOne is a document management system that is easy to use and doesn't require space on your hard drive. Information is organized my member of the family and is easy to update and retrieve.

AboutOne was designed by moms and dads for moms and dads to make managing all that household information fast, fun, and easy. With just a few clicks your information is stored with bank-level security, and all your posts can then be combined or mixed together in new ways, saving you time on everyday chores like creating family newsletters, scrapbooks, hardcover photo albums, and creating and mailing holiday cards, or completing school forms, college applications, caregiver instructions, and tax returns.

AboutOne.com’s patent-pending service takes just seconds of your time and helps you save time, save money, and be prepared.

To take a product tour, click here. Come back and sign up for your free trial and be registered to win a Yearly Plan subscription upgrade.

How to Enter:

1) Required entry: Click the sign up link at the top of this post. Come back here and tell me that you've registered for a Free Trial Passport. You must complete both of these steps in order to be entered to win.

2) For an extra entry, follow AboutOne on Twitter. Come back and add a comment stating that you follow AboutOne on Twitter.

3) For an extra entry, "like" AboutOne on Facebook. Come back and add a comment stating that you "like" AboutOne on Facebook.

4) Tweet the following message "Enter to win 1 of 3 @AboutOne Yearly Plan subscription upgrades from @PiecesofaMom http://bit.ly/dUn44f #giveaway". Come back and comment by leaving a link to your tweet.

Contest will run through April 15th. Winners will be chosen via Random.org.

Disclosure: As part of AboutOne's Affiliate Program, I was given 3 Yearly Plan subscription upgrades to give to Pieces of a Mom readers. All opinions about AboutOne are solely mine and are based on my experience with the product.

A quick getaway to Rehoboth Beach

Thursday, March 24, 2011
A few weeks ago I received an invitation from Mel to spend a night in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware with about 20 other Philly area mom bloggers. There was no decision to make. I was going to be there...even if I had to jump through hoops of fire. I absolutely adore Rehoboth Beach, and mix in some bloggers, and you've got yourself a fabulous combination.

Did I mention that there were no children involved and that there was wine?

It was obvious how much effort was put into organizing the event by Mel, Delaware Beach Families, and the Southern Delaware Convention and Visitors Bureau. From garnering sponsors to creating the itinerary to coordinating the bloggers, there wasn't a detail that was missed.

My first stop was to check in at The Bellmoor, a luxury resort offering guest rooms and suites and a full-service spa. After checking in, the lovely reception desk staff pointed me in the direction of the cocktail hour, located in a private room specifically for Delaware Beach Bloggin. Fun!

The cocktail reception was like a private wine tasting. Wines were provided by Fenwick Wine Cellars and included a selection of red and white wines. Since it was an unseasonably warm day, I chose to sample a few varieties of white, Pinot Grigio and Niagara to be exact. Both of which were refreshingly delicious and hit the spot after a 3 hour drive.
Image appears courtesy of Musings of a Housewife 

Image appears courtesy of Musings of a Housewife

In addition to food and wine, there was plenty of mingling.
Photo appears courtesy of Musings of a Housewife 

Photo appears courtesy of Musings of a Housewife

After the cocktail hour, I popped up to my room to drop off my bags and check out the accommodations. The rooms were beautiful.

On our beds were 4 delicious and gluten-free mini cupcakes from Cake Break. Such a nice touch.
Photo appears courtesy of Musings of a Housewife

After a quick stop in the room, we headed to dinner at Dogfish Head Brewpub, one of my all-time favorite places to eat and enjoy a hand-crafted beer. I ordered the Namaste, a Belgian white brewed with fresh, organic lemongrass, orange slices, and coriander. It was perfect. I also shared an order of the rosemary-Parmesan fries and a pesto pizza with caramelized onions with my roomie, Rebecca. It was Heaven on a plate.

Filled to the brim with good food, good beer, and good conversation, our group headed to a private screening of Eat, Pray, Love at the Movies at Midway. While living vicariously through Julie Roberts' character hopping all over Italy, India, and Indonesia, we nibbled on yummy goodies provided by The Point Coffee House and sipped on wine and Prosecco provided by Atlantic Liquors. It was a perfect end to a wonderful day.

The following morning after enjoying the sprawling breakfast buffet and a manicure at The Bellmoor Spa, we were treated to a tour of the 4th floor Club Level at The Bellmoor. The various suites are lovely. Well-appointed and spacious, they offer something for every size group.

Image appears courtesy of Mel's Box of Chocolates

After our tour, our group split up. Some enjoyed browsing the many unique shops of Rehoboth Beach, including Browseabout Books, one of the Delaware Beach Bloggin sponsors. What I love about Browseabout is that is has the selection and variety of a large bookstore, but it is independently owned. You get the small, local business customer service that makes such a difference when shopping.

Others headed to the Tanger Outlets to find the best bargains from the big name brands. It is a shopper's paradise. After finding lots of bargains, I stopped for a quick bite to eat with Tina, Erica, and Rebecca, and then headed back to New Jersey. While shopping I munched on some yummy salt water taffy from Snyder's Candy. What's a trip to the beach without a little salt water taffy?

It was a perfectly orchestrated weekend, and I can't thank Mel, Delaware Beach Families, and the Southern Delaware Convention and Visitors Bureau enough for their hospitality. My true love for Rehoboth Beach just became even greater!

Disclosure: Attendees of Delaware Beach Bloggin received one free night's accommodations at The Bellmoor, complimentary breakfast, and a 20% discount on spa services. In addition, we received complimentary products and coupons from the sponsors. 

The world doesn't stop for a sick mama

Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Can you tell where I spent the past 3 days? Yep, in bed with a fever, the chills, stuffy nose, achy head, and a never ending cough.

While I was there, the laundry piled up in the sorter. The beds went unmade. The bathrooms went uncleaned. The floors went unmopped. While I watched my 87th episode of House Hunters, the household chores were building into a crescendo that will take me no less than 2 weeks to undo.

Yes, the Hubs was a huge help. But let's admit, that no one, not even our husbands, performs the household duties to our high expectations. And trust me, my expectations are high.

And while I was balled up in my bed, I was reminded that the world was still turning. Life was status quo for everyone else. When I had the energy to pick up my BlackBerry, I saw Foursquare friends checking in at P.F. Chang's, Madison Square Garden, the gym, the grocery store. I felt guilty for doing what I so often want to do: Nothing.

I was stuck in bed.
We, as mothers, often wish for days with no activity. Days where we spend the entire day in bed watching guilty pleasure TV with the door closed. No kids jumping on the bed. No kids fighting over a toy as you're trying desperately to catch up on Bethenny Ever After. After a full day of that, I had my fill. However, my body was defying me. It forced me down for two more days.

Today, once my antibiotics kicked into high gear, I could feel a glimmer of my true self. Some energy, not the boundless energy that I usually have, but I'll take it.

Baby steps. Trying to get back to a normal routine. It's tough. Ask any mom who has been slapped in the face with illness. It's not good when mama goes down.


St. Patrick's Day parade

Tuesday, March 15, 2011
On the Sunday prior to every St. Patrick's Day, we head to north Jersey to visit the Hubs' best friend and his family. We attend the Kearny St. Patrick's Day parade and enjoy dinner with our friends. The Hubs grew up in Kearny. His father was a two-time mayor of the town. This annual tradition was a special part of his childhood and has now become a special part of our family.

The Hubs and Tommy have been friends since the 5th grade. We don't see Tommy and his family enough, but when we do, it's as if a day hasn't passed since we last got together. It's always a mile a minute laughs, lots of food, lots of wine. Generally, we head back to Tom and Veronica's house for a traditional Irish meal of corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes. But this year, we changed it up a bit and went out for Italian. Not quite Irish, but oh so yummy.

Scenes from the parade...

The girls...

The Hills and the Nees...counting the days until we get together again!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Spring 2011 Spa Week is coming!

Saturday, March 12, 2011
I don't go to the spa often. It's an expense that, in most cases, I just cannot justify. But when
Spa Week rolls around, it's hard to resist the incredible prices and service offerings.

This spring Spa Week takes place from April 11th through April 17th. During Spa Week, spas and salons throughout the U.S. will offer select full-service treatments for $50. That's $50, just in case you thought it may be a typo. That's hard to beat! Spa Week makes experiencing a salon treatment more accessible and affordable than it might otherwise be.

Some of the discounted treatments include massages, manicures, pedicures, haircuts, facials, and scrubs. Many treatments are discounted more than 50% during Spa Week. If you're in need of some pampering and indulging, Spa Week is the perfect time to do it.

To view a list of participating markets, click here. Once you are on the spa directory, click on your state to find participating spas and salons near you. Booking for Spa Week services will begin on Monday, March 14th.

As a proud member of Spa Week's Hot Mom Spa Squad, I'm on a mission to spread the word about Spa Week and to ensure that moms all over the country don't cheat themselves out of precious "me" time. This April trade in the Pampers for some serious pampering!

Girls Lunch Out Event

Thursday, March 10, 2011
After a long winter on hiatus, the blogging events are starting to get rolling. On Saturday I attended a networking event organized by Girls Lunch Out (a.k.a. GLO). GLO was co-founded by Erica Voll and Tina Seitzinger in an effort to bring together women in social media and give them an opportunity to network, lunch, and learn in an informal, fun, and zero-pressure setting. The event was held at 8 East Bar in Conshohocken, PA.

GLO co-founders, Tina Seitzinger and Erica Voll.
They are both also two of the first people I met in the mom blogging world.

In addition to lunch, there were plenty of goodies.
Clockwise: The "GLO Sweet Tart" martini, fun swag bags (including products from PopChips, Dazzlestik, Seed, Happy Baby Foods, and Lavenders Day Spa), a delicious cookie tray from @cookieapaloozanj, and a fabulous door prize (a Michael Kors bag generously donated by Dole Foods).

There was plenty of networking.
Here I am chatting it up with (l. to r.) JenniferRebecca, Cristie, and Mel.

There was lots of tweeting, mingling, and lunching.

For more information about Girl Lunch Out and to become a member, hop on over to the Web site.

40 Days and 40 Nights

Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Each Lenten season, I make a choice to give up something that tests my true ability to exercise self-control. For the past 2 years, I've given up Diet Coke. It's been a struggle, mostly in the mornings. When others are craving their coffee, I'm craving Diet Coke.

So, this year, I've been thinking...and thinking...and thinking about what I'd give up. I'm not an incredibly religious person. When I make a sacrifice during Lent, it is more so for myself than for religion. I need to know that I have the self-control to do this. I know I can go without Diet Coke, but it would still be a challenge this year.

After a lot of thought and consideration, I've decided that I'll give up nothing, but I will limit my indulgence in many things.

1) Wine is permitted only 2 days per week...2 glasses per day.
2) No more than 20 oz. of Diet Coke per week. I changed my mind. No Diet Coke. Absolutely none.
3) Starbucks twice per week. :(  {This will be my greatest challenge}
4) No Girl Scout cookies. Period. Or any other cookies.
5) A sweet treat once per week.
6) The Hubs is giving up pasta and bread. By association, there will be days where my intake of pasta and bread severely limited. Because I'm not a big meat eater, this will be sacrifice enough for Lent. ;)

In my experience, exercising self-control by having all things in moderation is often more difficult than totally eliminating something. Moderation is not easy for most people. It's usually feast or famine for success. And I've found that when we give something up, we substitute for it. The substitutions are usually worse than what we've given up. Not good.

I'm going to set out to prove that I can have the some of the things I love and indulge in most frequently in moderation, and I can be happy about it.

Do you give anything up for Lent? If so, what is it this year?

When mama's away...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011
the mice will play. And that they did.

On Saturday, I attended a Girls Lunch Out event. {Keep an eye out for my recap post.} As with any time that I'm out for the day or away for any extended period of time, there's some prep work involved. Since I'd be out for just a few hours, there wasn't a whole lot of planning involved. The Hubs would have them for a few hours. Easy.

What I didn't know is that behind the scenes there was planning and plotting taking place. They were scheming. The Hubs offered to take the girls out for breakfast. OK, not a big deal since we go out for breakfast frequently as a family. There was also talk of shopping, and I'm not talking grocery shopping here. I'm talking about dreams-come-true shopping. Yes, toys or clothes. It was the girls' choice. And maybe, just maybe, lunch out would happen somewhere in there, too.

What? What about me? Why does all the fun happen when I'm gone?

I see things from his perspective. The girls aren't happy when I'm away, and he feels the need to overcompensate. With more and more upcoming blogging events, I'll be away more frequently, and the Hubs will be in charge. Will these fun days always be on the docket? If the tables were turned, I'd be likely to do the same thing even though I know it's not necessarily practical or financially feasible. But it's fun. And when the Hubs is at work all day, 5 days a week, and finally has a day with the girls all to himself, it's only likely that fun and spoiling would be part of the plan.

So what exactly did they do on Saturday? As I was backing out of the driveway, they were heading out to breakfast. The girls had Mickey Mouse shaped pancakes with powdered sugar and whipped cream. Afterwards, they headed to Toys R Us where he bought them a few DVDs {rolling my eyes} and some Wii games {good distraction while I get work done}. All the fun happens when mama's away.

I'm sure there were plenty of giggles, and laughs at my expense. They love to mock me for my idiosyncrasies. It's all in jest, I know that. It's all part of enjoying their day in their way.

And what did they want Sunday morning when they woke? Yep. They wanted to go clothes shopping. "Well, Daddy takes us shopping when you're away." I knew it. I'm the bad parent. The parent who doesn't spoil them. The parent who won't give in to their whims. The parent who compromised her principles and ended up taking them to Old Navy.

I'm a pushover.