August – 2014 – Frugal Novice
Monthly Archives

August 2014

Beauty & History Combine at the Battle House in Mobile, Alabama

Note: We received a reduced media rate to facilitate our review. All opinions are honest and are our own. 

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When we embarked on our first big road trip as a family of five, I knew I wanted to stay at hotels that would be kid-friendly, but still places that Brian and I would enjoy staying, too. I’ve been teased that I’m a “hotel snob” because I am pretty picky about where we stay. My thought is this: vacation is an escape, and I want the places we stay to serve as restful retreats, not punctuations of meh along the way.

We really set the bar high with the first place we stayed – the Battle House Renaissance Hotel & Spa in Mobile, Alabama.

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When we pulled up to the hotel it was 10:00 at night and raining, but we could still see through the rain that this historic building is stunningThe uprights really highlight the architecture of the building, and it feels special from the start.

There’s parking around in the way of garages and some metered spots, but since it was late and wet we decided to splurge on valet parking. I walked up to check in and was greeted with two friendly faces, letting me know they were available to help us if we had any questions or needed anything. Atmosphere is important at hotels, but staff can make or break the experience – and the Battle House has staff that obviously care about guests and enjoy what they do.

We stayed on the 7th floor in a suite at the end of a hallway, a perfect location for our potentially loud brood. I loved our suite. Loved. The living area was roomy with a loveseat (which folds out into a bed), armchair, coffee table, and armoire topped with a TV; it also had a desk and closet – there was plenty of room to spread out!

The kids watched some cartoons the next morning while Brian and I finished packing up our things:

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Love how elegant and seamless the office space is to the living area:

 

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Our room was gorgeous: floor-to-ceiling curtains and a big, plush bed with a mirrored headboard. Luxurious and serene – perfect for the start of our vacation.

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And don’t even get me started about the bathroom. HUGE. A shower and a deep soaker tub, and a pretty vanity. Our whole family could fit in there all at once (and let’s be honest – with kids, you’re never going to be in the bathroom alone anyway so having some extra space is appreciated).

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Obviously the hotel was a hit for Brian and I, but the kids loved it too. They each got an activity book with stickers:

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Another thing they loved? Going in and getting breakfast (free, with the level we stayed on). They drank juice out of coffee mugs  “like Dad” and had fun picking out which cereal and pastries they wanted. I loved that there was fresh fruit and yogurt available, too. It was a nice variety, and it meant that there was something for everyone in our family to enjoy.

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As we left the hotel, I showed the boys some of the architecture in the lobby. The ceiling is breathtakingly beautiful and the history of the building shines through all the details.

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See the woman in the last photo walking toward us? She is Emilie, an awesome Battle House employee that came over and told us about a really cool part of the hotel – the whispering arch. And not only did she tell us about it, she walked up with us to show the boys. She had J stand at one side of the arch, and then C stood at the other side, many feet away. When they whispered into a channel of the arch, they could hear each other as if they were standing a foot apart. They thought this was so cool, and I was incredibly impressed that Emilie went out of her way to show us the feature. She also took us to see the Tiffany ceiling in the dining area – yet another gorgeous feature:

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We would definitely stay here again. It is high-end, but you can often find deals on the rooms that make it an affordable place to stay. They even offer free wifi, which is still a rarity in many 3- and 4-star hotels. The historical element makes it unique and special, and I honestly don’t have anything negative to say about the property or our stay there.

Keep up with the Battle House on Facebook, or click here to go ahead and book your room now – you know you want to!

Music to my Ears: SOL Republic Tracks Air Wireless Headphones {Giveaway}

Note: We received a pair of headphones to facilitate our review. We were not compensated monetarily. All opinions are honest and are our own.

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Brian, my husband, listens to music a lot, like many people do. So when I heard about the SOL Republic Tracks Air Wireless Headphones, I knew they’d be something he would love. He’s wanted great headphones for a long time, and these are truly top notch. Here are a few of the features that set them above the pack:

  • A2 Sound Engines with clear highs and detailed deep bass
  • Super-Power Wireless – Control Tracks Air from up to 150 feet away
  • Interchangeable Power Track headbands – Swap the color of your headbands and change your style with ease
  • Connect to two devices simultaneously, including your phone, tablet or computer. Seamlessly answer an incoming call while watching a movie on your tablet.
  • Built-in microphone for phone calls enables hands-free calling

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I love how innovative these headphones are – they operate via bluetooth and you can just slide the earpieces on to the band and adjust them to fit you perfectly.

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The part that rests on the top of your head is cushioned, which is the same material on the earpieces – totally comfortable!

Brian says he loves how long the headphones last on a single charge; when he first turns them on, he hears a statement telling him how many hours of play time are left (i.e. “You have more than 7 hours of play time!”). You don’t have to use these wirelessly, though – you have the option to plug them in.

Brian uses them with the iPad and loves that he can adjust the volume, push play and pause all from the earpiece without having to wake up the iPad. He’s paired them with his iPhone and our iMac too, and it all works seamlessly.

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He uses the headphones at work and can get up and walk around the office while still listening to his music with no disruption – the Bluetooth connection works wonderfully. He says he is impressed with how lightweight they are, and how snugly they fit. The headphones retail for $199, and we both agree that they’re well worth the price. These are high-quality headphones that anyone would love to have.

Speaking of loving to have these headphones… you just might have your own pair!! You can find the headphones at retailers like Amazon and Best Buy – but be sure and enter to WIN a pair right here!

Win_it

One lucky reader will win a pair of their very own SOL Republic Tracks Air wireless headphones (ARV $199)!  This contest is open worldwide to those aged 18+. Entries will be accepted until the end of the day (midnight Central) Friday, September 12. By entering this giveaway you agree to the Official Rules.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tiggly Shapes & Apps – Educational Fun for Your Littlest Ones

Note: I received a set of Tiggly shapes and a gift card to facilitate my review. All opinions in this post are honest and entirely those of myself and my family. 

Our boys, who are 5 & 7, love to play games on our iPad. And of course Brian and I like to get our fair share of game-playing in, too. But baby E, who’s almost 2, has been left out of all the iPad fun – until now, thanks to Tiggly shapes & apps.

Tiggly creates hands-on educational tools that work together with free Tiggly apps on the iPad to create an exciting learning experience that combines physical play and digital fun.

When we first pulled out the Shapes and our iPad, E just sat and held the shapes while she watched the animation of the app, but then she quickly realized she could interact with the app using the shapes and she had a blast playing.

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Then our boys came in to see what she was doing, and they started playing along with her. It’s nice to have something all three kids can enjoy together.

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About Tiggly Shapes:

  • Tiggly Shapes incudes a set of four easy-to-grip colorful shapes that are inspired by the classic wooden block. They’re easy for little hands to grip – E loved holding them, and she liked the bright colors, too.
  • Little ones place Tiggly Shapes on the iPad to make Tiggly apps come alive. Each Shape is specially designed to be safe for kids and iPad screens.
  • Tiggly Shapes helps little ones learn about shapes and fundamental geometry concepts, improve their language skills, and develop their motor skills, spatial thinking, and creativity – all while having fun!
  • Each set of Tiggly Shapes also includes a felt carrying pouch for easy storage and fun on the go.
  • Tiggly Shapes is great for toddlers age 18 months to 4 years old (I can attest to the fact that our 5 & 7 year old thought the apps were fun, too!).
  • Tiggly Shapes is compatible with all generations of the iPad and iPad mini.
  • Tiggly Shapes has a retail value of $29.95 and can be purchased online at tiggly.com.
  • Tiggly Shapes includes three free TIggly apps designed by education experts and approved by parents. With their bright colors and fun games, little ones will have hours of fun while learning with Tiggly apps.

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About Tiggly Apps:

  • Tiggly Stamp: Kids explore the seasons while creating their own scenes and stories. Parents and children can use the camera and voice recorder to save the fun tales they dream up.
  • Tiggly Safari: Children use Tiggly Shapes to create friendly animals from the jungle, farm, and sea.
  • Tiggly Draw: Time to use your imagination! Kids use their iPad as their canvas and Tiggly Shapes as their tools to craft their own works of art.

Stay connected:

  • Be sure to visit http://tiggly.com for the latest on Tiggly and to find tips and advice for parents on the Tiggly blog.
  • Friend Tiggly on Facebook at Facebook.com/Tiggly and follow Tiggly on Twitter @TigglyKids
  • Don’t forget, you can buy Tiggly online at Amazon.com!

Six Flags Pokemon Trainer Challenge

Note: I received Pokemon toys to thank me for my post. I was not compensated monetarily for the post, and all opinions are honest and are my own.

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My boys LOVE Pokemon. Their favorite activity this summer has been taking Pokemon cards to day care and trading them with their friends.

Did you know Six Flags loves Pokemon, too?

Join Six Flags on Sunday, August 10 at 3 p.m. at participating Six Flags parks (Chicago, NJ, Dallas, Atlanta and LA) for the Pokémon Trainer Challenge and a chance to win FOUR Six Flags season passes PLUS a Pokémon toy prize pack!

Guests can visit the Pokémon Trainer Station tent* inside the park beginning at 11 a.m. for contest info and to sign up.  You can also practice your trainer skills, check out some of the hottest new Pokémon toys and take your photo with Ash!

At 2:45 p.m., 10 lucky guests** will be selected from the eligible contest entry forms to take the Pokémon Trainer Challenge for the chance to win four 2015 season passes to Six Flags, and over $250 worth of Pokémon toys!

Pokémon Trainer Challenge – Contest Details

Date: Sunday, August 10, 2014
Location: Next to the Pokémon Tent inside participating Six Flags parks
Schedule: 11:00 a.m. Pokémon Trainer Station tent opens
2:45 p.m. Contestant selection
3:00 p.m. Pokémon Trainer Challenge begins!

For more information on the Pokémon toys, check out www.tomycollections.com(link is external)

*Tent locations vary by park. Additional details will be available inside the park on the event date.

**The contest is open to guests age 8 to 13 at the park on August 10. All guests must submit a contest entry form by 2:30 pm to be eligible for participation. Entry forms and contest rules are available at guest relations and at the Pokémon tent inside the park on August 10.

Entrant selection begins promptly at 2:45 p.m. and all guests must be present at the designated Pokémon tent at this time to for a chance to participate. The contest will take place at 3 p.m.

Participating Six Flags parks include:
Six Flags Magic Mountain
Six Flags Over Texas
Six Flags Great America
Six Flags Over Georgia
Six Flags Great Adventure

One prize will be awarded at each participating park. Click here for Official Rules.

VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch is a Smart Choice for Kids {+Giveaway}

Note: We received a Kidizoom to facilitate our review. We were not compensated monetarily for this post. All opinions are honest and our own.

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Our kids love technology. They come by it honestly, since my husband is totally techy. Our whole family loves our gadgets, so when I heard about VTech’s smartwatch for kids I knew it’d be a perfect fit for our boys. The only issue will be the arguing over who gets to wear it!

·         1.4 inch color touch screen

·         Camera for taking photos and recording videos

·         Voice recorder with 5 voice changing effects

·         Special effects including customized photo frames, color filters and distortion effects; fun video frames

·         4 fun games, included

·         Kid-durable design to withstand drops and bumps

·         Splash proof and sweat proof

·         Alarm clock with fun tones and animation

·         Timer and stopwatch in kid-friendly themes

·         50+ digital and traditional analog displays

·         Rechargeable battery

·         4 vibrant colors: blue, pink, white and green

·         Micro USB cable for data transfer and battery recharging

·         Access to Learning Lodge app store to download more games and watch displays

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Our boys think the Kidizoom Smartwatch is awesome. Honestly, I think they’d like it for just the watch alone – they thought all the different faces they could pick from were really cool.  They also especially love taking photos and video, and they were cracking up at the voice changer.

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The touch screen and simple navigation make this perfect for kids to get to everything they want to do. We love the Kidizoom smartwatch and will definitely be taking it on our upcoming road trip! It’ll be a great way for the kids to take photos and videos of all the places we visit, and the games will help keep them occupied on the road.

Win_it

 

One lucky reader will win a Kidizoom Smartwatch of their very own!  This contest is open worldwide to those aged 18+. Entries will be accepted until the end of the day (midnight Central) August 28. By entering this giveaway you agree to the Official Rules.

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

A Promise to Baby – and YOU – from Johnson’s Baby

Note: This post was written in partnership with The Motherhood & JOHNSON’S® Baby.

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I can vividly remember using JOHNSON’S Baby Shampoo all throughout my childhood, so it only seemed natural that we’d use it on our children, too – it’s a classic! However, although they’ve been around for a long time, some moms expressed concern about the ingredients in the JOHNSON’S Baby products. Because they care so much about moms, they made the decision to stand up and change their product formulas – not because of safety, but for peace of mind.

As the new reformulated products hit shelves, they are launching a heartfelt campaign called “Your Promise is Our Promise” as a way to express ongoing commitment to moms. Just as moms make promises to their children, JOHNSON’S Baby also makes promises so moms don’t have to worry about the products they use on their little ones.

To share this commitment, they’ve created an inspiring story through the “Our Promise” video, which can be viewed on YouTube, as an open letter to moms. The video shows their scientists and the scientists’ families coming together to build an origami stork mobile, symbolizing the delivery of their promise to always listen to moms.

This video concept was inspired by a Japanese legend that folding 1,000 origami cranes will result in a wish granted and a promise fulfilled, which is thought to be a big labor of love.

Changing their products was their labor of love for moms and babies, but they used storks in their video because they represent the delivery of babies, and the hopes and promises of families.

I love this video; I think sometimes it’s easy to think of companies as these faceless entities, but this is a reminder that the people that work for JOHNSON’S are moms and dads, aunts and uncles – and they care about their kids, and understand how much we care about ours. I promise, as a mom, to help my kids grow, to love them unconditionally, and to keep them safe. I love knowing that JOHNSON’S Baby understands that, respects it, and honors it with their updated products.

  • The JOHNSON’S® Baby Family is excited to introduce you to our seven newly reformulated products:
    • JOHNSON’S® Baby HEAD-TO-TOE® Wash
    • JOHNSON’S® Baby Lotion
    • JOHNSON’S® Baby Shampoo
    • JOHNSON’S® Baby Shampoo & Conditioner for Thick and Curly Hair
    • JOHNSON’S® Baby Shampoo & Conditioner for Thin and Straight Hair
    • JOHNSON’S® Baby Shampoo with Calming Lavender
    • JOHNSON’S® Baby Soothing Vapor Baby Bath

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