Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Top Two Tuesday! Top Two Favorite Christmas Memories.

It's that time again for Top Two with Tay over at The Undomestic Momma.

It's been a while since I posted, and I feel just sick abput it. Just trying to get through work, crazy lately, and not having a computer. I haven't picked up my camera in two months. Just stuck in a slump, I guess.  No computer, too cold to go outside, and our house is not quite picture friendly.  Considering just going back to a point and shoot and giving it up.  Ahh well. But it's Christmas, and things are tight around here, but Merry none the less.  Hoping Nik gets a little excited for Christmas, though I still don't think she has grasped the concept yet.

I have so many wonderful memories of Christmas as a child, young adult, adult, and then as a fiance, a wife, and a mother: Christmas Eve at my Nana's every year since I was born, followed by Church, reading Christmas stories, Christmas with my Grandma and Aunt and Uncle Christmas Day, Christmas in Arizonia with the hubs and his family, Christmas in Chicago at my Brother/Sister-in-laws when my sis-in-law was on bedrest.

The #1 memory I have at Christmastime is:

1. Baking Christmas Cookies with my Mom

My mom and I on Christmas Eve would make Iced Sugar Cookies and Peanut Butter Balls.  I can still remember the flour, the bakers cloth, the rolling pin, the cookie cutters, picking the icing and sprinkels for each cookie, dipping the peanut Butter in Chocolate, and opening the Christmas Tins we would store them in. We would usually be listening to Christmas music, with "It's a Wonderful Life" or "The Bishops Wife" on in the background.  And then, leaving the cookies for Santa, with carrots for Rudolph, milk, and a letter for Santa.  I still put cookies out for Santa, always have.  Nik and I just made Peanut Butter Balls Sunday, and we are going to make Iced Sugar Christmas Cookies Christmas Eve.  Yeah!  Can't wait!  I wear my Christmas Apron, and she has a little snowman apron that is too cute!

The Windows at Marshall Fields/Having lunch at The Walnut Room in Chicago with my Mom and Brothers
My mom dragged us every year around Christmas to see the windows at Marshall Fields in Chicago, and to have lunch around the Big Christmas Tree in the Walnut Room.  We took the train up usually, and we went no matter what the weather. Rain, snow, freezing temperatures. She told us we'd look back and remember this, and be glad she dargged us, and she was right. Thankfully Macy's is continuing the Tradition, and we were able to take Nik last year, though we have not made it there with her yet this year. Hopefuly, after Christmas:)
I have to mention...
 Christmas Mornings

The magic of Christmas mornings was what I loved best. The magic and joy of running down the stairs to see if Santa had come and put something under the tree and filled our stockings.  Stockings are my FAVORITE thing!  I am huge into stockings!  It was less about what was under the tree, and more about the magic of believing in Santa.  I have many memories of my brother sneaking into my room early, early Christmas morning to wake me up, and we snuck downstairs together to see if we could catch Santa.  We were always caught!  My world was crushed when a little girl in my class told me about Santa. I still choose to believe, and every year, I still wake up, and run to the tree, wondering if there will be a mysterious gift under the tree...hoping...

There is nothing like the Magic of Christmas!

Merry Christmas y'all!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Weekend Update and Coldstone Creamery WINNER!

Hey Y'all!

Happy Monday!  Brrr, what a cold weekend we had!  I won tickets to Uncle Kracker on a local radio station, but the concert was about an hour away, and we happen to have a small ice storm and got a late start, so hubs said that we wouldn't be able to attend;(.  I was dissapointed, but hubs DID take me to a Chicago Bears Game Sunday for business, and the weather was so bad, we got to stay the night in Chicago over night. Yeah!!  I had to be at work at 8am today, but we were able to have a nice dinner after the game at a little Italian Restaurant called the Italian Village that was TO DIE FOR!  We had the cutest little booth/table, nestled in this little cove like corner, all to ourselves.  IT was so private and intimate.  They had fabulous bread/olive oil, great food, and dessert!

This Picture pretty much sums up the whole game for me. Tom Brady and the Partiots outdefeated us in any and every way imagineable.  If anyone of you saw, the Bears game was a massacre and it was brutally cold, windy and snowy, with -5 windshield.  But, we were able to go with two other young couples who the hubs does businness with and we had a nice lunch at Kroll's Bar near Soldier Field, had fun at the game bundled up, with only our eyes showing, drinks afterwards, and then huns and I seperated to go to dinner, and then back to the hotel, where I took a very long hot shower.

My parents watched Nik over the weekend.  She had the onset of a cold.cough, and it escalated over the weekend, so they stated they would watch her today, so hopefully, she gets to feeling a little better.  My dad said it looks like our dog Diesel got into something too while we were gone, and now, we think he's sick top. What a mess.  Hopefully, he'll be okay.

It was my brothers birthday Sunday, and my brother, sister-in-law, and nieces came down from Chciago to visit. Happy Birthday Troy, you're a GREAT UNCLE, and Nikolina just adores you!  We were sorry we missed my family, but we're looking forward to seeing them on Christmas!  Apparently Nik had a blast with my 6 year old niece and doted on my 9 month old niece.  Savannah was pulling Nik around the house on her bottom with a silkie and Nikolina was cracking up hysterically, and she kept running over to my 9 month old niece wanting to kiss and hold baby Isabella over and over.

My point and shoot is broken, so we only took some pics with a throw away camera. So I don't have any to share of the game, not that I could share them anyway without going to my parents to upload them, ha.  But, I could probably show you a pic of a couple people wraqpped up like Mummies with only their eyes exposed, and you wouldn't know the difference...

But, you wouldn't know that this wasn't us, unless I told you, would you???

I have no idea who these people are, found it online.
But this is pretty much what everybody looked like walking around, ha!

But, I hope you all had a GREAT WEEKEND, and I do have a WINNER for the $20 GC Coldstone Creamery Giveaway. Wish I could give one to everyone. I went to Random.Org, and you have to pay a fee and be a member to get the official drawing pic/info. But, I assigned a number to all of you based off what order your comments were in, if you participated, and assigned two numbers to you if you chose a flavor, etc.  I think drawing names from a hat is more fun, and would have had Nik do it, but this seemed more fair.

For generic giveaway results. The top number in the Random sequence is used.

Which was  #8.

I tried to attach the link below, showing that #8 was the first number in the random sequence, but the link just kept changing the number sequence. 

CONGRATULATIONS Allison of Life With Lydia

Isn't the pic of her little one THE CUTEST EVER!!  WHAT A DOLL!

Email me at lindsay.berner@gmail.com with your address to claim your prize!
Hopefully, I will have more Giveaways for you. I had so much fun with this one, I think I am going to try and have another one soon!

Happy Monday Y'all!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thankful Thursdays.

I am Thankful for so many things...everyday I am ever mindful of how many things I am thankful for in my life.  There is always something: a person, a word, a glance, a picture, an event, news, an article, a book, that reminds me how blessed I am in my life, and I am always grateful for those little things that keep me feeling alive and aware of how blessed I am in my life. 

I think the only thing that gets me through my work day, without Nik, is how thankful I am to see her for the couple hours I do at the end of the day and the 1/2 hour in the morning.  I try and think how blessed I am to have her in the first place-that we are surviving, with a roof over our head, and food on our table, with our faith, our family, and our health.  If I can keep those things in focus, and how grateful I am, I can get handle how desperately I miss her and want to be home with her during the day.

But, there are always those little things that I am grateful for too. Sometimes they're silly, nearly insignificant, mostly unnecessary, but none the less, things that I am thankful for in my life. That make my days a little better, a little easier, a little more meaningful, a little more enjoyable.  Thought I'd share.

Obviously, there's her..

and him...

All my family and friends....


Romance Christmas Novels!

This is my guilty pleasure at Christmas!  I Love these Christmas themed Romance Novels, with the multiple authors, filled with short stories of finding love at Christmas time.  I read them every year, and it always gets me in the spirit for Christmas.

My dad found my old gameboy and was letting Nikolina play with it. I confiscated it, put some new batteries in, blew on the games a little, and what do yo u know?  It still works.  And, no I am not ashamed to be walking around with this old school gameboy I had when I was 7.  I love my Super Mario Land and Tetris.

Now onto the Food.

I am thankful for...

Starbucks Mocha Frapuccinos, no whip.  These are so crazy expensive. I can't even afford to talk about them. But I have been having at least one a week for the past couple months. I can't afford to, but they are like heaven to me. I LOVE THEM.  I think it's winter that makes me want to fatten up.

And, if I'm not having them all the time, I always get the whip. I don't understand people whi don't get whip and chocolate shavings. Might as well go for broke.

At Christmastime I Like the Peppermint Mocha Frapuccinos too, though I think this is a Latte.

Haagen Dazs Chocolate Chocolate Chip Ice Cream. Just saying it aloud sounds fattening, and it is. It so is.  But it is hands down the absolute best Ice Cream Ever!  And CCC, is my favorite. My mom and I used to watch old Black and White Movies and share a pint of Haagen Dazs CCC Ice Cream. Two Spoons, Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, and my mom and I.  I think they actually put Haagen Dazs Ice Cream on a list of the 10 worst foods for you, you can eat, yep, it's that good. 

Salads. I have been loving salads lately. Eating one a day. Yes, I add cheese, and fatty dressing. But still feels and tastes good to eat them. I can't stand fat free dressing. Just no good. I have been eating spinach leaves, with craisins, roasted almond chips, Greuere Cheese, and Ranch Dressing. Fabulous.

I LOVE Subway's Turkey Sandwhiches.  The way I have always gotten them my whole life is Wheat bread, Turkey, American cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, green peppers, black olives, and mustard.  I can still remember walking into the store as a child, and the smell that hits you when you first walk in of fresh baked bread.  Still feel that same feeling everytime I walk in there.

Panera's Turkey Bacon Bravo. If you have a Panera near you.  Go there. Go there now. Seriously, stop reading, and grab your purse, your children, your dog, your clothes, whatever...Drive there, get in line, and order a Turkey Baco Bravo, just the way it comes.  It is the absolute most fabulous sandwhich!  To die for. Tastes so healthy and so filling, without leaving you overfilled.  FABULOUS!  Are you still here? Go!

I'm not usually a big candy person. I used to be when I was younger, twizzlers, sugared gummy worms, sour candy all that. But, then I started getting headaches, jittery, and hot flashes, if I ate it, and too much, so I stopped cold.  But lately, I have been having a wierd craving for candy.  Lifesavers, etc.  Sometimes I satisfy it, sometimes not, but it always sounds so good.  Bananna laffy taffy is my fav. Had a couple of these last month and they were yummy.


Pink and Red Starbursts. I only like the Red and Pink. Especially the pink. Although the watermelon is really good too. I had a package of all pinks the other day.  These were always a fab growing up, along with Mambas.


Don't forget about The Cold Stone Creamery Giveaway!  Last day to enter is tomorrow.  I will be using Random.Org to pick the winner, and will probably post the winner Monday.
To enter go here, GIVEAWAY!!

Pregnancy: Week 13

Pregnancy: Week 13

DATE: December 9, 2010

How far along: 13 Weeks

                                                       Total Weight Gained: Unknown
                                                              Current Weight: 122

  How big is baby? My Little Peach!  Mmm...a Peach sounds good!

Your fetus is forming teeth and vocal cords... savor this, their non-functional phase. Baby is approaching normal proportions, with a head now only one third the size of the body. Intestines are in the process of moving from the umbilical cord to baby's tummy.

Maternity Clothes: No.
Sleep: Good.
Best Moment of the Week:
Surprise moment of the Week:
Movement:Sometimes, I think I feel little flutters, sudden movements, I'm sure it's you! (though I'm no supposed to feel anything yet!)
Food Craving:Starbucks Mocha Frapuccinos, no whip. This habit will break me, ha!
Haggeen Daaz Chocolate Chocolate Chip Ice Cream. Yummy!
Food Aversions: Soda. Caffeine.
Morning Sickness: No. Sometimes I feel a little nauseated if I don't eat enough or get dehydrated, or take my pre-natal on an empty stomach.  Usually fleeting. Sometimes, my tummy gets a little upset after eating.
Gender: Unknown
Symptoms: Puffy Belly!  Little nesting kicking in.  Want house clean!  Vacuumed/Swiffered twice in one day
What I miss: Flat Tummy, ha!  Picking Up Nikolina without hesitiation, and carrying her around on my hip.
What I'm looking forward to: Feeling the Baby Kick, usually around 20 weeks!  Decoraing the Nursery once I'm off restrictions. And, hoping that I am no longer at risk for Placenta Previa so I can go back to carrying/holding Nikolina and cleaning/preparing the Nursery.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


So, over the Summer, Nik and I were at the Toy Store, and while in line waiting to check out, Nik saw a Display of these Sing-A-Ma-Jigs, and she was reaching and pointing to see one. It was the first time I had ever seen them, and Nik was enthralled with it. It was kind of creepy and strange to me, but she LOVED it!  I let her hold it, and she wouldn't let it go. We ended up having to purchase it because she wouldn't let us leave without it.  I figured I would just confiscate it during nap, and take it back at a later date. She loved it, but it was $11 or $13 dollars, and that was way more than we could spend on this bizzare toy!

I showed it to the hubs, and he thought it was very cool but also very strange.  I wrapped it in the bag, and hid it.  She forgot. It later ended up in her closet till I could return it. The other day when I was cleaning Nik's closet and putting away clothes that didn't fit anymore (which I am happy to say is all done. The only clothes hanging in her closet now are a few dresses from when she was little that I didn't want to fold, a couple for now, and a couple dresses/coats for the future), I found it. At this point, I figured, I would just keep it, and put it in her stocking. I had no idea that these things were the HIT ITEM for Christmas!  How cool!

They remind me of Alvin and the Chimpmunks and sound like them too!  They all sound a little different.  They also harmonize when you put them together, which I though was pretty cool.  I hope Nik is excited to find it in her stocking, though I'm sure I am going to regret giving her this thing as I can still hear it now in my head months later.  It may have to mysteriously disappear and reappear from time to time just to give Mom a break, ha!

Friday, December 3, 2010


This a picture a Nik from last year with the Santa at Macy's in Chicago. I would love to take Nik back here to see Santa. They really have a fabulous imitation of the North Pole and Santa's Magical Workshop set up within the old Marshall Fields Building. Then, you are led back by an Elf through a winding corridor to a secret room with a fireplace, stockings, a Christmas Tree, and Santa in a Big Chair. It's really fabulous!  My sister-in-law met us there last year.  You are alone with Santa, and you can take your own pictures, or purchase one as well. But, I think we waited for two hours on a Weekday, so I can't imagine the wait on a Weekend!  They should probably just make appointments.  My workplace has Santa Sittings, but you haev to make an appointment, and the Cut off was ridiculously early, like the end of October, and who's thinking about that at that time?  So, we missed it.

Also, as you can see. Nikolina is not crazy about Santa. It was her first time meeting him here. I gave her to him, and first she just looked at him (which the photographer snapped a shot of, a really adorable picture), and everything seemed alright, then all of a sudden she burst out into these tears. Obviously, we didn't torture her, and we took her back.  We felt bad making her wait all that time, and then she obviously was not comfortable.  We though about purchasing the one of her crying instead because it was kinda of indicitive of the moment, but we deicided on the one of them looking at each other, which is really sweet! 

So, this year, I was bound to let her LOVE Santa. I have been reading her books about Santa.  Putting Santas up in the House, Santa ornaments, Saanta movies. We taught her to say "Ho, Ho, Ho." And she seemed to love him. She gets excited when we read the books and wants to skip to the last page where Santa is, whenver she sees the Santa in the house, she walks past, and says "Ho, Ho, Ho."  So, a few weeks ago, I thought she was ready. Our town was having free carriage rides with Santa, and we headed over there to meet the Big Guy. We only had to wait through two families, and then we were next. Nik was very excited to see the horsee, and ride on the buggy and we talked about Santa. When our turn came, I tried to lift her up onto the carriage, and she was not having it. She started crying and wiggling away, trying to escape.  I thoought she would settle down, so we went ahead on, and we tried to introduce her to Santa, and Santa talked with her, but she was not thrilled. Another girl and her mom shared the ride with us as well, but that did not help. She eventually did calm down, but she was definently afraid of Santa, and maybe the whole thing.

I don't know what it is with Santa and children. He's so jolly, what's the deal?  Kids are always screaming. Maybe it's because he's a stranger, and you;re throwing them on his lap, I don't know. I think I may try once more this year with a local Santa, since we may not get up to Chicago again this year!  But, it's so expensive! Crazy expensive.  Maybe children have to be older to really understand, grasp, and love Santa. When I was little, my mom said, I would always cry around people with white hair, so maybe that's what it is for her too. Who knows.  She's loving the Christmas Carols at Church, so I guess that's all that matters. I hope soon, she will grom to LOVE Santa.

Anyone else's child(ren) the same way with Santa? 

This was the magical Fairy/Princess at the Restaurant in Macys. She and Nikolina became fast friends. She sprinkled Fairy Dust on her, and sang to her. It was so cute, and we had dinner around the "Traditional Marshall Fields Tree."  I would love to take her back there, now that she's a year older. I think she'd love it!

And, a pic of Nik with Daddy at my Brother and Sisiter-in-Law's house on Christmas last year.  Wish I had gotten one of the two of us, but you know how Holidays go...

Hope ya'll have a Great Weekend!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Smile In My Heart...

Today, I have a smile in my heart.  I ran home on lunch to grab a bite, and right behind me was the Fed Ex man. He hoped out jolly as an Elf, and called out, "Lindsay, this is Your Lucky Day!"  I knew what he had for me, and he handed me the box, and ask for my signature, wished me a "Merry Christmas" and then off he went, bounding up the truck again before driving gown my street off to deliver another smile to someone.

On my doorstep was the Playtex Diaper Genie Elite II!

As, I mentioned the other day, I won a Playtex Diaper Genie at the Blogger Event in Chicago at Navy Pier.  As soon as I won, I knew immediately what I would do with the gift.  This year, I had the opportunity to participate in our town's 17th annual Festival of Trees that benefits and raises money for our local Baby Fold. I had the opportunity to meet and decorate a tree with several wonderful people for this wonderful cause. I promise to show pics soon, I've been a little behind:).  I have always wanted to donate time and whatever I could to help this organization becuase I think it's a great cause. My mother has participated in this event as well in the past, her tree even won 2nd Place one year!  I was so thankful to have this opportunity this year!  I still have not heard back on how our tree did, but hopefully, it's adorning someone's family room this Christmas!

During the Holidays, is when I feel the most joy in my heart, and I have the most urge to want to extend that joy in any way I can to those who need it. I have to stop at every Santa/Volunteer for the Salvation Army ringing a bell and donate if I have money, I can't help it or put caned goods in those bins at the Grocery Store.  Ever since I can remember, my mother always took our family to the Toy Store to pick up a toy for the Brotherhood Tree to be gifted to a little boy or girl at Christmas.  I did this last year with Nikolina, and I hope to do it ever year forward. 

I couldn't wait to drop this gift off, so I rushed over there on my lunch.  I knew immidately that this was what I wanted to do to give back.  I tried to think if there was anyone else, a nursery, a daycare, a hospital, any other orginization that could benefit more, or to offer it to all of you, but I the Baby Fold was my first thought.  I know if I were down on my luck, or needing a helping hand, that is where I would go. Driving away, I saw a large Nativity scene in the window, and I just hope that it finds it's way to a new mother and her new baby girl/boy this Christmas.

Thank you Playtex for making a new Mommy's Christmas this year, and for this generous donation!

Merry Christmas!

Christmas in Chicago.

As, I mentioned yesterday. My mother came with me to Chicago when I attended the Blogger Event at Navy Pier. We rode the train up, stopping to grab Starbucks for the ride.  I LOVE taking the Train. There is something about it that is so old world style, so nostalgic. People have been riding the train for generations, it having been a main source of transportation for many years for lots of people. There is something about trains that connects us to years and years ago, that I just don't feel with planes. Although I love any form of transportation becuase it's an Adventure from the norm. A sign of going somewhere, visiting a new place, a place unchartered.  I LOVE train stations, especially Union Station, there is so much history there.  And, I have a lot of memories of taking the train with my mother at Christmas to see the windows at Marshall Fields.  We shared a cab, dropping her off on Michigan Ave, and then myself at Navy Pier. After the event, we met up at Water Tower, then headed to the Bllomingdales building.

I LOVE Christmas in Chicago. There is nothing I love more. The hustle and bustle of shoppers, the windows aglow with gifts and Christmas decorations. Shoppers rushing with their bags full of presents for friends and family.  The chill winter air. I love it all.  Since my mother had not eaten, yes, I had to eat twice, horrible I know. We decided to eat at Bistro 110. I have never been, and it was fabulous. The Croque Monsieur is TO DIE FOR, and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND it, if you ever go there. Funny enough, my mother ordered Pomme Frites, wanting American fries, and she was a little taken aback, when they actually brought the French style French Fries, known as Pomme Frites. The waitress was kind enough to take them back for the American version. Probably back in the kitchen snickering at us, ha!

I know this is my kind of place becuase they had hats hanging every where in the restaurant. How fabulous!

We had a great lunch and conversation, as I told her about the Event, among other things.  And, afterwards, we walked outside, and what was right next door....

They were bustling with comers and goers. We were going to grab some ice cream, and stepped inside. It was very busy. When we walked through the dorr, they presented us with a piece of Peppermint Bark, and after swallowing that, we decided that was good enough, and headed back outside. Outside the store, they had a Hot Chocolate stand set-up, so shoppers could simply grab a cup and move along, how adorable is that.  There was a horse and buggy walking through the area, with families, bundled up with blankets and grasping Hot Chocolate. One little girl was giggling hysterically as she passed. Ahh...I LOVE Christmas in Chicago.   So sweet.  And across the street on teh other side...
Can't beat being surrounded by chocolate at Christmas.
Also, there was also the Annual The Christmas Parade that evening, and my mother and I snuggled amongst city folk and tourists in teh freezing bitter winds of the Chicago Streets hoping to get a peak at Santa. Unfortunately, we had to head back for the last Train before we caught a glimse of the Magical Fellow.  And, the story about trying to get a Cab when EVERY Street is blocked off for the Parade, and bumper to bumper traffic is a story for another day. But we made it to teh train station in time, and enjoyed a lovely train ride home, seeing a lot of the same people we saw on the way up, having enjoyed a wonderful taste of Christmas in Chicago.

Don't forget to enter the Giveaway for the $20 Gift Card to Coldstone Creamery if you haven't already done so!  See details on Thursday's Post.  Contest ends Friday December 10th.

Pregnancy: Week 12.

Pregnancy: Week 12

DATE: December 2, 2010
 How far along: 12 Weeks
Total Weight Gained: ???, Unknown, I never weigh myself:)
Current Weight 122
How big is baby?
My little Plum!  Mmm, a plum sounds good!

As you move into the second trimester, baby shifts into the growth and maturation stage. After weeks in the critical development stage, almost all of baby's systems are fully formed.
Maternity Clothes: No.
Sleep: Good.
Best Moment of the Week: Watching Nikolina see you on the Sonogram Monitor, Daddy too. 
Seeing that you were ok (the Dr. couldn't find your heartbeat on Tuesday at my pre-natal, and moving all over the place. Hearing your heartbeat-155 beats per minute. 
Surprise moment of the Week: Finding out we were 12 weeks along, not 8 weeks!!  Surprise!
And, that I may be at risk for Placenta Previa. I have a follow up Sonogram in 2 Weeks.
Movement:Sometimes, I think I feel little flutters, sudden movements, I'm sure it's you! (though I'm no supposed to feel anything yet!)
Food Craving:Starbucks Mocha Frapuccinos, no whip. This habit will break me, ha!
South Beach Bars.Yogurt. Milk
Food Aversions: None
Morning Sickness: No. Sometimes I feel a little nauseated if I don't eat enough or get dehydrated, or take my pre-natal on an empty stomach.  Usually fleeting. Sometimes, my tummy gets a little upset after eating.
Gender: Unknown
Symptoms: Puffy Belly!  Little tired sometimes.
What I miss: Flat Tummy, ha!  Picking Up Nikolina without hesitiation, and carrying her around on my hip.
What I'm looking forward to: Feeling the Baby Kick, usually around 20 weeks!  And, hoping that I am no longer at risk for Placenta Previa so I can go back to carrying/holding Nikolina.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Chicago Blogger Event and A Very Cold Christmas Giveaway!

On November 20th, I had a Fabulous Opportunity to attend My First Ever Blogger Event in Chicago, hosted by Team Mom and Child's Play.  It was a wonderful opportunity for me, and I am SO EXCITED to share my experience with all of you and a Giveaway for my FABULOUS readers! 

The Event kicked off with an Open Panel Discussion with several Popular Mommy Bloggers answering questions and offering advice on their experience and inspiration on blogging.  It was a fabulous meet/greet, followed by many great questions, and honest, open, direct and informative discussion from some Top Mommy Bloggers.  I really enjoyed being able to participate and simply having an open ear to all they had to say.

It was their First Ever Chicago Blogger Event, held at fabulous Navy Pier, on the same weekend as the Chicago Toy and Game Fair, which was right next door.  When Nik gets older, I would love to bring her back for the Toy and Game Fair event!  It looked like a lot of fun. There were kids running everywhere!  It ended up being a beautiful day, and I really enjoyed the venue.

They had a fabulous Brunch for us after the Panel Discussion.  Complete with Mimosas.  Mmm..  Look at that spread!

I by-passed the Food and moved straight to the Vendor tables!  Shocking, I know. I was so excited to get to speak with all these fabulous vendors.  My first stop was Playtex Baby.  She showed me their new sippy cup, called the "Sipster", and gave me a free sample (I of course picked out the pink/purple cup for Nik, which is going in her stocking), along with some other goodies, including another cup, spoons, and a little portable computer mouse that the hubs snatched up as soon as I got home, he uses it constantly.  He knew I had brought it home specifically for him, ha!  I raved to them about how Playtex are the only cups we use. They are the only ones I have never had problems with, and they are completely leak proof!
The Sipster was designed by a feeding specialist and a Pediatrician to help foster independant drinking skills. It would make a great first sippy cup for you little one!
My next stop was Restaurant.com.  I have heard of Restaurant.com, but have never researched the organization before. They are a resource/referral network for thousands of restaurants across the US.  Just go to their website, and type in your city, and they will connect you with loads of restaurants in your area, even providing menus online.  You can earn discounts and rewards if you dine out often.  You can also earn Restaurant.com Gift certificates by shoppping at your favorite places including, Gap, Blockbuster, Sony, Mac, and Discover. They gifted the bloggers a $50 Gift Certificate out to eat, and hubs and I are so excited for our night out on the town!  Gift someone a "Dinner of the Month" Club for Christmas this year, where they receive a $25 Gift Card Each Month!  You can find out more about Restaurant.com HERE!!!

My next stop was Cold Stone Creamery. Ironically the night before the event, I really had a craving for Cold Stone and was going to take the pumpkin in there to share some ice cream. But, I was able to wait knowing they would be in attendance at the Event. I was so excited for a free sample!  I first learned about Cold Stone while in Arizonia with my extended family and In-laws who have a home there. I had no idea what flavor combination to chose, so my niece stated that she would pick for me, and we sat and ate our ice cream in the Shopping Courtyard, and I remember how incredibly fabulous it was!  I wished that we had one where we lived, and then a couple years later, one opened in our town!  Everyone in town was so thrilled, and it is always packed!  Coldstone introduced us to their Eight Layer Ice Cream Cake and they brought two flavors for us to sample. I had the Health, and it was to die for. Great to pick-up for birthdays, anniversarys, a work event, or for the Holidays!  How can you not like candy ice cream, ice cream should also be accompanied by candy and chocolate!

My next stop was Toy State. If you aren't familiar with the Brandname, they make those battery operated trucks, cars, and excavators that are probably roaming around your house.  I recognized the CAT Symbol/Brand immediately. My Mother-In-Law purchased a motorized, remote-control CAT Excavator/Digger that my triplet nieces/nephew and Nikolina are obsessed with. They all go crazy over this toy and can't wait fo their turn to make it move themself, and to be a mini-operator and pick random toys up and drop them back on the ground. They gifted us a truck to take home that lights up and makes noise. They also all play a different song. I already wrapped it for Nik, and Josh, especially is super excited to open it with Nik.

My next stop was MEGA Brand Toys. I was really excited to stop here as well.  Our old daycare provider gifted Nikolina a set of Mega Blocks  for Christmas last year (the pink and white ones).  She was a little young at the time, and mostly she just put them in her mouth bc she was teething at the time. But as she got older, she has become obsessed with them. she plays with them EVERYDAY and I am constantly picking them up and finding them up in random places of the house, ha!  She says "blocks" or what sounds like the word, blocks, and then motions for you to sit with her, saying "sit" with a little lysp, and you have to sit and build with her. She loves to build, but she also loves to knock them down, and thinks it's the funniest thing ever, and she laughs out loud when they go tumbling down.

See those boxes stacked up on the side. You will never believe this, but they hold a Mega Blocks "Thomas and Friends Adventures on Misty Island" that you may have seen advertised on TV lately for the Christmas Season.

They gifted one of these to every blogger there. Can you believe that!  I literally hugged the representative right there!  I was so excited to show the hubs, and neither one of us CAN WAIT to open this on Christmas with Nik.  Well worth the trip.  My mom (who came with me for the day, and we seperated and met back up after the event)couldn't believe it when I showed it to her. And, the woman at the restaurant that we went to later that day, saw it, and said, "Wow, that looks like something, I would want to play with."  We said, "I know, right. How fun is this!"  Nik loves looking at Choo Choos in her picture book, and can even make the Chugg A Chugg A Choo Choo motion and pulls the whistle too!  She is going to love this. I already have it wrapped and ready to open!

The next stop was Backyard Safari Outfitters and Zillionz Brand Toys. I had not seen this brand, but I also have a 20 month old Girl. I asked her if they were at Toys R Us (our only toystore) and she stated "Yes," so I am definently going to look them up next time Nik and I are at the toystore. They had some fabulously fun products for camping that looked liek so much fun.  Nik has a bug net/bug container, and she loves it. These toys would be right up her ally.  And my mother-in-law is gifting Nikolina a tent for Christmas, so I know come Spring/Summer next year we will be looking into some of their imaginative "Safari" toys.  They gifted us a little green lantern, that will be perfect for Nik's new tent. She will be so excited.  I'm sure she will turn it on and off constantly and want to hide/play in the tent, read books etc. The lantern is going in her stocking for Christmas.

Zillionz Brand makes a lot of educational toys that help children count and learn about saving money, including banks, cash registers, vault and ATMs.  Must have been developed by a banker, ha!  But their products are really great, and I already have three piggy banks for Nik and a talking play pig piggy bank. I think teaching kids about money and the importance of saving money is a great value to have. I had several things like that when I was little, and they are a great educational, but fun way for children to learn about money.

The next stop was In Zone Brands Beverages. I have seen these beverages at our local toystore and grocery store. A little boy at Nik's daycare always has one. Nik LOVES juice. We try not to give her too much, but she is obsessed with it, second only to milk.  She says it so cute, like "Juze" and makes the sign for drink in Sign Language, and it's so adorable. I usually try to buy watered down juice for Tots or water down juice myself when she's sick or for a special treat. In Zone, not only has juice for big kids, but they also had little juice containers for Tots, with less sugar.  I was so thrilled!  And, they have all your children's favorite characters too!  There are so many to choose from. Nik's is going in her stocking,a dn she will LOVE it!  I'm sure she'll want to drink it right away, right then.  The reps said that you can even wash them out, and re-use them as well, so one will last you longer than a one time use.

Mary Kay was also there.  The food was wonderful, and I sat by some wonderful ladies. I really enjoyed talkkign with all of them, and hearing about their lives and blogs. We shared some great conversation and lots of laughs. I was so thankful to have had this opportunity to attend this event. What a great event, than you Child's Play and Team Mom!  Your event was a True Success!  It's going to be a wonderful Christmas at our house thanks to this event!  Be sure to check back for any add reviews after Christmas of these fabulous toys!  At the end, they raffled off some prizes. I won a Playtex Diaper Genie, and since the Hubs and I already have one, I will be donating mine to our Local Baby Fold. I can't wait to drop it off. Hopefully, it will make some New Mom's Christmas!

AND NOW, for my very FIRST GIVEAWAY!  Cold Stone Creamery  gifted us bloggers a $20 Gift Certificate to Cold Stone, but...they also gifted me a $20 Gift Certificate to be raffled off to one of my LUCKY READERS, and that's....ALL OF YOU!!!

So, to win this Fabulous $20 Gift Certificate to Cold Stone:
Leave a Comment for Each Entry.
1. For one entry: Become a member of my Blog. If you are already a member tell me!
2. For Two Entries:Tell me Your Favorite Flavor/Coldstone Ice Cream Candy Combination.
3. For Five Entries: Blog or Facebook this Giveaway!

  If you LOVE Coldstone, Have a event that you need a Cake for, or this Gift Card would make a Great Christmas Present as well!

I have never used Random.Org, but this how I will chose the winner, if I can figure it out, ha!

Contest ends Friday December 10th!!
Good Luck!

Disclaimer: I received gifts from all these vendors for attending this event.