Tuesday, April 27, 2010

SodaStream Soda Maker Giveaway! NOW CLOSED!

Dadda monkey and I really enjoy our soda, but we've been trying to change our lifestyle to be healthier and save money. I'd seen the SodaStream soda maker around before and we'd discussed purchasing one to see if it lives up to the wonderful reviews we've read. We finally went ahead and bought one and we've been enjoying homemade soda for the last two weeks. We've been very satisfied with the taste of both regular and diet sodas. I didn't get a chance to try any of the flavored sparkling water, but that's next on my shopping list.

Making soda is a very quick and easy process. It takes under 30 seconds and you can adjust the fizziness to your liking.
  • Fill one of the liter bottles with water
  • Screw it into the soda machine
  • Push a button to add the carbonation
  • Unscrew the bottle from the machine
  • Add the flavor of your choosing
  • Shake very gently to mix it up
That's it! You now have homemade soda or sparkling water that you can feel good about drinking.

There is no high fructose corn syrup in their regular flavors and the diet flavors are sweetened with Splenda. Check out this nutritional chart comparing Coca Cola and Pepsi to SodaStream's Cola. My husband hates the way diet drinks taste, but now he can keep drinking regular sodas and still vastly decrease his caloric, carb, sugar, sodium,  and caffeine intake.

SodaStream has thought of everything from the fizz preserving caps on their bottles to half liter size bottles that you can use for travel. The variety of flavors they have is astounding. My husband really enjoys their cherry cola while I have enjoyed the diet cranberry raspberry. I will mention one perplexing thing, while the cost of the flavors is very reasonable, I don't understand why the prices are different. For example, Cranberry Raspberry is $6.99 while Orange is $4.99.

With the Earth Day celebration earlier this week, now is a great time to make a change yourself. According to SodaStream's website, Sodastream is an "Active Green" product, which essentially means that every time you use it instead of buying soda at the store you're helping the environment by reducing your CO2 footprint. Making your own soda means there is less packaging waste from cans/bottles and less pollution from transporting the products. One SodaStream carbonator is equivalent to 170 to 310 aluminum cans (there are 2 carbonator sizes). Additionally, the carbonator can be refilled. 

It's really easy to get set up with your own SodaStream soda maker. They sell various kits, starting at $89.95, that have everything you need to get started making your own soda or seltzer.

The fine people at SodaStream generously agreed to provide one Mommy 2 Monkeys reader with a SodaStream soda maker of their own! The winner will receive a Fountain Jet Soda Lover's Start-Up Kit in the color of their choosing. The package includes the Fountain Jet, CO2 to make over 100 liters of soda, 2 reusable carbonating bottles, a sample pack of flavors, and 3 full-sized flavors of the winner's choice.

How To Enter:
(The first step is required for for your first entry. Any steps after that reward you with an extra entry.)
This giveaway, and subsequent shipping, is only within the continental United States.

1. Go to  SodaStream and leave me a comment telling me which color you'd choose, along with what flavor you'd like to try first.

2. Become a follower of my blog, Mommy 2 Monkeys, and leave a comment on this post that you've done so.
3. Become a fan of the Mommy 2 Monkeys Facebook page and leave a comment on this post that you've done so.
4. Follow me on Twitter and leave  a comment on this post that you've done so.
5. Place my button on your blog/website and leave a comment on this post that you've done so.

The giveaway will remain open until May 8, 2010 at midnight central time. The winner will be chosen using Random.org. I will post the winner on my blog and also email the winner (please make sure your email is visible on your profile or post it in your comment). The winner will have 72 hours to respond to my email or I will choose another winner via Random.org. Good luck!


Mommy 2 Monkeys was provided with the opportunity to hold a giveaway for my readers. No other compensation was received and the views expressed here are my own.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Happy Fiesta!

Another clear sign that I haven't fully embraced all that San Antonio has to offer is that I missed all of the Fiesta events this year. Fiesta is a huge, 11 day long, celebration held annually in San Antonio. I even had a heads up because my new hairdresser participates in one of the them. There are over 100 events and several of them look interesting to me. There's everything from A Taste of New Orleans to Cornyation (where they poke fun of politicians and current events). There are parades, an oyster bake, multiple musical performances, craft shows, and military tributes. There are a large amount of military personnel located in San Antonio, which is clearly evident to newcomers. There are 4 large bases here and I learned one of San Antonio's nicknames is Military City.

Monkey girl had fun watching the parades on TV and I think we're going to make sure we go in person next year. The Battle of Flowers is one of the biggest events. It started when a group of ladies gathered in front of the Alamo, in 1891, to honor the heroes of the battles of the Alamo and San Jacinto. The parade surprised me with how many participants there were from all over the country. Apparently the Flambeau Parade is the largest illuminated evening parade in the nation.We'll make sure to attend next year. Happy Fiesta!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Teaching Subtleties

Today was monkey girl's speech evaluation to see if she should stay in the program that works with her. Her two therapists were here and it was very brief. They already know her pretty well so they had answered most of the questions themselves and only had a few for us. The result was she's still about a month behind in her speech and so we had the option of keeping her in or discontinuing the program. I'd been thinking a lot about this for the last week and came to the conclusion that if she's allowed to continue then that would be in our best interest. I'm sure she's benefited from having them work one on one with her, in addition to the extra socialization she gets when they're here so why would I turn down anything that helps her. They were fine with my decision and even scheduled an extra two visits a month for the next three months (until her annual evaluation). I'm glad it's over, though we should have probably waited until the yearly evaluation anyways.

One of the things I asked the therapists about was whether it's okay if her words aren't always clear. They said it's fine for now since she's just started increasing her vocabulary. They're more worried about speech than articulation. That got me thinking about something that happened a couple of months ago and how monkey girl might be more worried about OUR articulation. It was late one night and the smoke detector started going off. I think it was the battery, but Dadda monkey thinks it's faulty. Anyways, the loud beeping was distressing to monkey girl so I showed her how to cover her ears with her hands and said 'ow'. She copied me and coped with it pretty well. For the next few days, every time she heard a loud noise, she'd cover her ears and say 'ow'.

Then one day we were reading a book and came across a part of the story where a new character was introduced, the owl. I pointed to the owl and told her what it was. She looked at me quizzically and I thought she was struggling with the word so I repeated it a couple of times to her. Monkey girl then looked up at me, covered her ears with her hands and said 'ow'. It was quite funny, but I wanted to clear up the confusion for her. I told her, no, it's like a tweet-tweet, but it's called an owl. She looked at me again and said 'ow' while covering her ears. I said, 'no, not ow, it's an ow-el', but she just wasn't getting it. Clearing up such a subtle difference has proven to be difficult and truth be told, we still haven't made the distinction. So in our family, owls apparently make loud annoying noises and when you come across one you need to point to it, cover your ears with your hands, and say 'ow'.

Monday, April 19, 2010

CSN Stores Growth Chart Winner!

A winner has been picked for the CSN Stores wood Alphabet growth chart by CoCaLo Baby. The winner, as picked by random.org, is comment #48. Congratulations to petteytiffany!

I've sent the winner an email. If I don't have a response in 72 hours, I will pick another winner. Thank you to everyone who participated and a special thanks to CSN Stores for sponsoring the giveaway!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hilton Bella Harbor

On our week long road trip earlier this month, we tried to break up our drive by stopping near Dallas the first night. Every time I've driven this route, I've loved driving by Lake Ray Hubbard (conveniently outside of Dallas). We decided to see if there was a hotel nearby so we could enjoy the lake we often admire. Luckily, we found the Hilton Bella Harbor situated right on the lake in Rockwall, TX and we made a reservation for one night. It was a long drive and we got a late start so we didn't arrive there until around midnight, but the drive across the lake was still nice. We were pleasantly surprised that the staff didn't bat an eye at our late arrival (we had called to say we'd be late, but didn't say how late).

The lobby was beautiful with a gorgeous light fixture and a waterfall feature that fascinated my daughter. Adjoining the lobby was a richly wood paneled study/library area. There was also a huge stone fireplace. We didn't get beyond the lobby because it was so late and we had the kids in tow, but there was a large, beautiful hallway that I presume led to their restaurant and other areas of the hotel. I didn't get to eat at the restaurant, but it has good reviews and I'd love to try it another time. I could see the pool area from one of the large windows in the lobby and it looks very inviting, especially the way it's situated right along the lakefront.

We were given a room with a lake view and our room was bigger than I expected. We had plenty of room to set up the pack and play for Bro Bro monkey and still have our bags convenient without having to form an obstacle course around the room. The furnishings were modern and elegant. I'm pretty sure that it was Silestone's Stellar Night quartz surface on the tables. I only know this because we've been looking at replacing our kitchen countertop with the same material. (I'll post more about that in the future because I'm hoping some of my readers can give me some help with the decision.)  The next morning I was preparing to take a shower and get ready to go, but we were missing a bottle of shampoo. We called the front desk and within 10 minutes they brought us two bottles of shampoo. Here's the view from our room, it would have been nicer if it weren't overcast and rainy that day.

The area around the hotel was also an unexpected surprise. There was a shopping area filled with restaurants, shops, and even a movie theater within walking distance of the hotel and along the lakefront. I hope the next time we visit, we'll be able to spend more time there. It's really perfect for families because you can enjoy the lake, swim in the pool, go to a movie, have various dining options and shopping without having to load up the kids in the car. I wouldn't mind a couple of days alone there with Dadda monkey since it's a beautiful elegant hotel. The hotel even has a full service spa.

I can't wait for my next visit so I can take advantage of the many amenities the Hilton Bella Harbor has to offer. We have another trip coming up in October and I'm hoping we can spend a couple of days there, but we'll have to see. We also haven't done any sightseeing in Dallas so maybe a trip dedicated to just that is in order.

Disclaimer: The first photo of the exterior of the hotel, the photo of the hotel room, and the last photo of Bella Harbor are taken from Hilton's website. The rest of the photos are my own. Mommy 2 Monkeys was not compensated, or even contacted in any way, for this review, I just thoroughly enjoyed my stay there.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Follow

Every Friday, there's a great event called Friday Follow that I really enjoy participating in. It gives me a chance to see some other great blogs out there. I even get my recipes for the week from some of these blogs. It also gives everyone a chance to get their name out there in the bloggy world. Unfortunately, I missed it last week since we were on the road. I hope you all enjoy Friday Follow as much as I do. Happy Friday Follow!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Unexplained Male Behaviors

This post could get lengthy, but I'm going to restrain myself. Some Moms from the neighborhood spontaneously decided to get together at a local place to let the kids play and enjoy each other's company this morning. I was excited about going until I looked out the window and realized Dadda monkey took my car, which has the car seats in it. Why he did that, I'm not completely sure. He's been taking his car regularly so it's a bit of a mystery. I tried to call him, but his coworkers said he wasn't there at the moment. This is the second Mommy get together I've missed in a month for whatever reason. I hope there's another one soon so I don't look as flaky as I feel right now.

Just earlier this week, I asked him to go to the store to pick something up for me. We had talked about going out later to do some shopping, but we needed this one item right away. I didn't want to pack the kids up for such a short errand so I asked him to go by himself. I guess I should have known better, but he was taking forever to get back and then I learned why. He decided that he didn't want to have to go out later and so he picked up the rest of the items on our shopping list (at least the ones he could remember). On one hand I can consider it thoughtful that he tried to pick up the other stuff we needed, but on the other hand he threw off all my plans. For example, we were going to get ground beef at Costco (and while there get some other items) so that we could freeze what we didn't need right away. It seems more economical to me to do it that way, but he went ahead and picked some up at the local grocery store. Now we still need to go to Costco to pick other things up so I argue he didn't save us any time. According to his male logic, he did save us time for that day. I don't think I'll ever understand his reasoning on these matters aside from the normal 'anything to keep me from shopping'. I guess it's fair since I have a 'anything to keep me from watching you play video games' mentality.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Enamored with TV/DVR

It's hard for me to limit my kids TV viewing when I could spend hours upon hours in front of it myself. Since I discoverd DVR it's even worse (or better if I'm going to be completely honest). I have a hard time falling asleep at night so I love that I can watch a show of my choosing in bed, instead of the normal junk on at midnight. When we moved to our new home in San Antonio, we were lucky in that AT&T was headquartered here and they were rolling out a new product/service called U-Verse. I love my U-Verse system. To be honest, I'm not sure I can completely explain it. It has something to do with having fiber up to our home. There's a big box in our closet (the gateway, more on that later) that controls our TV, internet, and telephone.

The things I love about U-Verse include the DVR (being able to record 4 shows at a time), having caller ID show up on our television, and the little extras we get. Also, I've done away with our HD subscription (I know, gasp!), but the regular picture is leaps and bounds better than we ever had with cable and I just didn't see the need for it. Supposedly the reason is the fiber that comes to our house and that it doesn't use coaxial cable (don't quote me on that part, I'm trying to remember the long, elaborate, technical explanation my husband and others have tried to impart on me). Several months ago, they also upgraded it to include whole house DVR so that I can record from anywhere in the house and also watch my recorded shows anywhere. Just like in the commercial, I can start watching something downstairs after the kids go to bed and if I get tired, I just stop it and pick up where I left off upstairs in my bedroom. Yes, there's another fault... I have a TV in my bedroom, but I grew up with one and now it's become sort of a nightlight for me. I leave it on all night at a really low volume level, and leave it on a recurring news station like Headline News. I like to tease my husband that I stay updated on my current events through osmosis. We have agreed not to let our kids have televisions in their bedrooms as a result. One more feature I love about my U-Verse is that it's associated with Yahoo. I can access my Flickr photo account through it; I leave it on the Flickr channel when we have company over so that we have scrolling family photos showing. There's also games to play right on my television and more.

After our road trip, we lost some of the shows that we had recorded (poor little DVR box can only hold so much) so I've been preparing for some TV marathon watching sessions. Today a semi-miracle happened in that both kids were napping at the same time and my husband was off work for the day. It's a cloudy/rainy day so we decide it was a good time to sit down and watch a couple of shows, but the box was responding really slowly or not at all to remote commands. Simple things, like show me what I have recorded, were taking forever to do. The little green light would flicker so we knew it wasn't the remote. Dadda monkey decides (well he already assumes) he's the master of all things electronic and computerized and he reset the system. An hour later, it's slowly coming back, but it's worse than before. I persuaded him to call AT&T and see if they could figure something out. Another hour later, and apparently the consensus is that we have an old gateway, they can't even access it from their side, and a technician will come by between 4 and 9. Kudos on the same day service, but I'm sad that I don't have my TV. I'll be fairly shocked if this post makes it onto my blog due to the associated internet problem. I'm also not holding my breath on the guy actually showing up and/or knowing what to do and doing it, but that's a whole different story and one that I'm sure most, if not all, of you are familiar with.

So now I'm off to clean up my closet so they can easily access our gateway. To all the TV naysayers, I would like to say that I know I've learned things from watching television. Not that I'm saying everyone should watch hours of television, but it's not been a huge detriment to my life. In addition, my daughter now calls her grandfather, YeYe, thanks to Ni Hao Kai-Lan. I still try to limit her TV viewing (she's only watched an hour today), but hey, she's picking up other languages while watching without any intervention on my part.

Friday, April 9, 2010

CSN Stores Growth Chart Giveaway! NOW CLOSED!

I'm very excited to offer my first giveaway thanks to a great sponsor, CSN Stores. CSN Stores includes many sites including www.cookware.com and www.racksandstands.com. The site I've been perusing the most though has been www.allchildrensfurniture.com. They have kids beds (which I've been looking at for the monkeys), nursery furniture, play items (including outdoor toys), decor, and more.  The prices are quite reasonable and the selection is unbeatable. My bookmark list has grown exponentially since discovering all the products they offer.

The one thing I think I've been lacking in my kids bedrooms has been decor, especially rugs and something for the walls. I like this rug for monkey girl.

I thought these wall hangings would go perfectly in Bro Bro's room.

There's even this great picture frame that I'd love to use for a picture of my monkeys since it goes with my blog theme.

Now for the moment you've been waiting for. CSN Stores is offering me the chance to give away a Wood Alphabet Soup Growth Chart by CoCaLo Baby. I still haven't gotten around to getting growth charts for my kids so I'm a little envious of whoever the winner might be. I love that it's wood and is gender neutral while still being really cute.

How To Enter:
(The first step is required for for your first entry. Any steps after that reward you with an extra entry.)

1. Go to  www.csnstores.com and find a product that you like there (it can be anything, you're just helping me do my window shopping) and tell me about it in a comment on this post.

2. Become a follower of my blog, Mommy 2 Monkeys, and leave a comment on this post that you've done so.
3. Become a fan of the Mommy 2 Monkeys Facebook page and leave a comment on this post that you've done so.
4. Follow me on Twitter and leave  a comment on this post that you've done so.

The giveaway will remain open until April 18, 2010 at midnight CST. The winner will be chosen using Random.org. I will post the winner on my blog and also email the winner (please make sure your email is visible on your profile or post it in your comment). The winner will have 72 hours to respond to my email or I will choose another winner via Random.org. Good luck!


Mommy 2 Monkeys was approached with the opportunity for a giveaway for my readers. No compensation was received and the views expressed here are my own.

Monday, April 5, 2010

On The Road

We are in the midst of a road trip that's taken us through Texas, Missouri, and currently Maryland. I've not been able to get access to the internet so I'm a bit behind in my posts. We have a bunch of running around to do today and then we'll be headed back home tomorrow. It's been a long couple of days and we'll be happy to get home. The monkeys have been pretty good though. As soon as I get home in a couple days I have my first giveaway to offer.