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NWI Parent
NWI Parent

Hershey’s Holiday Stocking Giveaway

December 3rd, 2010 - By Stephanie Precourt

stockings in a line
our stockings last year

What’s going to be in your stocking this year? How about some chocolate…

Hershey’s sent over a box of holiday goodies- Rolos in a reindeer cane? They know me so well.

If you’re looking for recipe ideas (oh how I love the peanut butter blossoms with Hershey’s Kisses!) or even gift ideas- who wouldn’t love a decorative jar filled with candy? - check out Celebrate With Hershey’s.

christmas dolly
our stockings this year

WIN! Hershey’s is giving away a stocking filled with:
-Rolo Reindeer Cane
-Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Santa
-Hershey’s Cookies ‘N’ Crème Nutcracker Moulded Bar
-Hershey’s Pot of Gold Truffles Sampler
-Reese’s Peanut Butter Trees

Just visit Celebrate With Hershey’s and leave a comment here letting me know your favorite Hershey’s candy or holiday cookie (and if you don’t have a favorite, what would you like to try?)

Open to US winners only, one comment will be chosen at random sometime after December 6.

Congrats- winner is Kim!

More from Close To Home:
A Christmas Story Comes Home
Time Stood Still
All before 1 o’clock in the afternoon

Stephanie is Mom to three boys & a girl in Valparaiso, IN and blogs daily at Adventures In Babywearing . Follow her on Twitter- she’s babysteph .

Filed under: parent. Tags: , , , .

Our little family vacay to Key Lime Cove

July 15th, 2010 - By Stephanie Precourt

he is a happy

We took a mini family vacation a couple weeks ago to Key Lime Cove Indoor Waterpark Resort in Gurnee, IL (my kind of road trip with the kids = short.)

Water park hotels have kinda become our thing, the go-to place to stay when you have a gaggle of kids. It’s a nice get-away without having to get too far away. We can’t afford traveling to Disney, and to our kids, a big room of water next to an arcade IS Disney World, you know? (NO ONE CLUE THEM IN YET, PLEASE.)

So anyway, we’ve stayed at a few- Great Wolf Lodge, Coco Key Resort; and Key Lime Cove was instantly my favorite of them all the moment I walked in. I don’t think there’s any relation, but it reminds me a lot of the Gaylord Opryland Hotel I stayed at in Nashville- where every single detail was spot on.

The decor, the colors (COLORS!!), the atmosphere, even the shops and restaurants. The hotel room (we had two queen beds with a pull out couch for the six of us with plenty of space to spare) reminded me a lot of the Beach Club at Disney, actually. Everything looked and felt new and clean. That’s nice when it comes to a hotel room, y’know?

The waterpark is in one big room- which I liked. I get all anxiety-attacked when there is too much going on and several rooms of water and slides and kids and chaos will do that to me. There were a few bigger slides that I found exciting and so did Carter (he’s our only big-sliding kid) and at the same time, there was plenty for the non-sliders to do. Pretty much anywhere you wanted to go in the park area had tables, chairs, and loungers and something for all ages. Our favorite? The lazy river. I loved that we all could go together as long as the smallest kids were on a tube with an adult. (Oh sidenote, the tubes were clear so I would stick my face in them and look down like I was seeing underwater. I kept looking for money or jewelry or anything really and that place was spotless. Not even dirt.)

Other things I really liked:

Wristband-activated everything. Getting into your hotel room, paying at restaurants and stores, the lockers in the park, the arcade vending machine = super nice when you don’t want to wear a waterproof wallet or stick your room key in your sandals and be all nervous that someone is going to take it.

Lifeguards- they were everywhere and quite friendly. Like, I’ve seen them at waterparks before and they usually look bored out of their minds. I caught some of them interacting and playing with my kids and that was all kinds of awesome because I could lie on my lounger and read my book, I mean, sit and watch with more peace of mind.

The arcade room (as much as I think it’s a waste of money, my kids LOVE THE ARCADE)- it had a dinosaur video game in Gray’s size. Like, lower to the ground, it only cost ONE TOKEN, and it had two huge buttons to control. SO SIMPLE and he loved it AND it spit out tickets. Win Win Win.

Nice shops and restaurants. Like, we’re talking fashionable clothes and swimwear (they even carry maternity!) and food that isn’t all fried and fast foody. Oh, and a coffee shop with good iced coffee and breakfast sandwiches and CANDY.


Things I thought were kind of “meh”:
I found the waitstaff and lifeguards to have MUCH more personality and friendliness than the people at the front desk. I thought that was kind of unusual, so maybe they were having a totally off week or something.

We didn’t have all the bedding needed for the pull-out bed and didn’t realize it until late (because we didn’t set up the bed until bedtime!) and I made two calls to the front desk and they promised to send it up, but never did. That was awkward. (My recommendation- make sure you have all the bedding you’ll need as soon as you check in.) (We got the bedding we needed the next day.)

I would have loved to have a bigger veranda on the room, one where you can at least sit with a couple chairs so hubs and I could sit out with a glass of wine after the kids are asleep. It was teeny tiny (I think other rooms might have bigger ones, not sure.)

No WiFi! You had to use a cable thing to hook up to their internet and thankfully hubs had brought his laptop- my HP Mini isn’t set up for that.


But they have fudge…

Really, overall, the rooms were the nicest of any waterpark we’ve been to, as well as the water park and everything else about the hotel in general. Already I’m wishing we could go back again soon.

I must not forget to mention that there is the Paradise Mist Spa at Key Lime Cove and they are always having fun events and specials (and girls’ night out getaway weekends!)- totally something to think about if you live in the area or are just visiting. I didn’t end up making an appointment for the massage I really wanted because we were saving our pennies and also, I was having so much fun with the kids I didn’t want to sneak away! (Now, in hindsight I wish I could have escaped to that spa while hubs was driving them home and then followed by myself later.)(Now that’s paradise.)

Oh, and hello- Key Lime Cove is like a sister to Six Flags Great America. We aren’t ready to take the kids to Great America just yet, but they do offer some great specials and a free shuttle and more perks like that. The hotel even books and caters events like family reunions, receptions, parties, corporate meetings, etc with a real event coordinator that will do up an event pretty much any way you want.

I did take a little time to talk to Key Lime Cove’s Director of Food and Beverage Chris Adams. That was nice because I had a lot of questions about families with food allergies (Gray is allergic to dairy, eggs, and nuts) as well as healthy eating options.


Such a good sport- letting me take his photo!

Chris just joined the company about three months ago but is already implementing changes to the menus, offering better choices for old and young diners. He also was inspired by Food, Inc. for his family and his restaurants and I thought that was great. It should inspire us all.

For those with food allergies: Chris invites any family planning a visit to call ahead and let them know of any special dietary needs you might have. They will prepare and make sure they have something you can eat. They do keep gluten-free products on hand, including gluten-free pizza dough, for those with gluten sensitivities. I was so excited by their option of goat cheese for the “make your own pizza” on the D.W. Anderson’s kids menu- that’s what Gray made. He was so excited.


Gray chose goat cheese & fresh spinach! Love that kid.

The Crazy Toucan also had some great vegetarian menu items as well. Nice to see!

We got to talking about what we’d love for our kids to eat while we’re on vacation, and what they’ll REALLY eat, and how to find a balance within it all. I would like to see less burgers and fries and more pita and hummus and vegetable soups, things made with black beans, etc. Chris said they are searching for some new realistic menu items to offer on the kids meals. Of course, when you’re on vacation you’re going to splurge a bit on some junk food, but if you’re staying there a couple days, you’re going to want to eat something healthy SOME of the time at least, right?

(I’d love for you to comment with your suggestions for new kids menu entree ideas whether you’re a local or would ever visit Key Lime Cove or not.)

That brings me to a little give away I have here.

Win. Key Lime Cove is giving away a dinner for 4 people at one of their signature restaurants, D.W. Anderson’s or The Crazy Toucan. Perfect for locals or anyone driving through this way of the midwest. (The restaurants are open to the public, winner is not required to book a stay or enter the waterpark.)

To enter, please leave a comment with what you’d like to see featured for your kids on the childrens’ menu at a restaurant.

I’ll choose one winner at random after Friday July 23 (11:59pm).

If you do plan a visit to Key Lime Cove, follow and tweet- they’ve always got great specials and contests.

Congrats to winner Leighann of D-mom Blog!

Disclosure! I was not compensated to write this post but did pay a discounted media rate for our stay at Key Lime Cove.

About the author: Stephanie is Mom to three boys & a baby girl in Valparaiso, IN and blogs daily at Adventures In Babywearing . Follow her on Twitter- she’s babysteph .

Traveling with toddlers, and a $250 Marriott giveaway!

June 27th, 2010 - By Stephanie Precourt

my traveling band of kids

We are getting ready to go on a little mini-vacay with the kids soon (I am not saying when, because, hello? I prefer not to advertise my empty house, you know?) but I’ve been preparing myself and my sanity for the upcoming adventure.

Are we the last family in the United States without a DVD player in the car, and Leapsters and handheld video game gadgets? Maybe.

Thankfully my kids are great car-sleepers, but, there’s that time when they aren’t sleeping. What to do?

My tips:

I always pack a backpack for each child, filled with their favorite books, Twistables, blank notepads for drawing and writing letters (and if I’m REALLY on it, I include envelopes and stamps!!), and usually a new small dollar-store type toy like silly putty or a fun travel game. They can peek inside their bag sometime after we get going on our trip (whether it be a roadtrip or airplane ride.)(Also these come in handy for in-hotel entertainment.)

I am the keeper of the snacks. And I pack lots.

Our favorite “look out the window like when Mommy and Daddy were your age” games are the loved by all “Slugbug!” game and also a new one we invented: “Hoop!” -Everyone tries to be the first to spot a basketball hoop. Works GREAT if you are driving through town and neighborhoods. Notsogreat if you are on the highway… so you might want to spot the “Horse!” or “Cow!” or, you get my drift.

When staying at a hotel, I make sure we have a fridge in the room and take snacks like fresh fruit, veggies, and favorite breakfast items in case we wake up and are in NO mood to go out for breakfast at a decent time. Often our kids wake intermittently (or insanely early) and so I can feed them as they get hungry and everyone else gets ready. (Don’t forget bowls and utensils, etc!)

backpack backs

Now, it’s YOUR TURN.

Marriott, TheMotherhood, and I would love to hear your tips to add for “The Ultimate Traveling with Toddlers Must-Have Tip Sheet”.

Tots Travel Too

Marriott’s new program for families traveling with kids, Tots Travel Too, includes free travel cribs with Coverplay covers (stylish!), fun bath toys, and other things you might have forgotten like bibs and outlet covers! They’ve thought of everything!

But- they’d love to know what YOU think of when traveling with little ones.

Share your tips and suggestions in the comments, and I’ll also personally add my faves to the Marriott Tots Travel Too circle at TheMotherhood.

Win! Your comment (whether it be a tip or suggestion or funny travel with the kids story or it can be totally random if you choose) will enter you to win a $250 Marriott Gift Card and a Marriott Tots Travel 2 Welcome Basket.

One winner from the comments here will be [randomly] chosen by me sometime after July 1.

Bonus prizes: Thursday night, July 1 also happens to be the “kick off” to a Twitter party you can participate in that evening from 8-9pm CST, if that’s your kind of thing, and be entered to win even more Marriott gift cards and goodies. You’ll want to follow @ResourcefulMom, @MarriottIntl, and, well, ME @babysteph. Hashtag is #TotsTravel2

Oh, and for even more fun info and to hear the (emotional!) story behind Tots Travel Too, watch the Tots Travel Too videos on YouTube when you get the chance.

To RECAP: Comment here with your tips for traveling with tots OR just leave any random comment and you will be entered to win a $250 Marriott gift card and Marriott Tots Travel 2 Welcome Basket. If you want to get in on the fun and possibly win more prizes, join the Twitter party this Thursday.

Here’s to many happy travels!!

Congrats to winner: Mama Koala!

(If you win the gift card and can’t use it at a Marriott hotel for some reason, you can use your prize at ShopMarriott instead.)

Disclosure:“I am working in partnership with Marriott and to cover the Marriott Tots Travel Too program and have received a stipend.”

About the author: Stephanie is Mom to three boys & a baby girl in Valparaiso, IN and blogs daily at Adventures In Babywearing . Follow her on Twitter- she’s babysteph .

Get Chartreuse: A giveaway

May 4th, 2010 - By Stephanie Precourt

I’m a lot all-natural. From cooking to cleaning to diapering to what not- everyone is at least a little bit lately. It’s hip! the trend!, and also just better for our families. So, win!

I also love home parties- I’m a sucker for ‘em. If you invite me, I’ll probably come. Because there’s usually good snacks.

So anyway, I went to a Chartreuse party a while back - it’s a company with cute, unique eco-chic products. My kind of party.

I ordered the Natural Bug Spray, Just for Kids Body Wash, Aromatherapy Air Freshener in Citrus and Ginger for each of my bathrooms, and the Skin Soothing Spray. (Preparing for summer- can you tell?)

Sarah, the Chartreuse consultant gifted me with the sample size soap nuts, Organic All Purpose Cleaner in Citrus and Ginger, Organic Bathroom Cleaner in Citrus and Ginger, and Glass Cleaner in Citrus and Ginger.

(By the way, I also love Citrus & Ginger.)

ANYWAY! So, I love everything I’ve tried so far. Like, a lot. I have been a diehard Method fanatic for a long time now and I am SO impressed by the Chartreuse Organic Bathroom Cleaner most of all. I always have felt the Seventh Generation, Shaklee, & Method products I’ve used in the bathroom weren’t REALLY doing their job. They sure do smell great but I always felt like I wasn’t getting it all super clean like the more toxic cleaners do. I’m SO happy with this product!

(I also love the scent!)

Ok, on to the giveaway.

Sarah is giving away $25 to spend at Chartreuse. Leave a comment here to enter (open to US and Canada residents). If you’d like, let us know which items you’re most interested in by visiting the Chartreuse products site (not required for giveaway.)

You can also sign up for the Chartreuse newsletter to stay up to date on the latest products, specials, hosting a party, good things, etc! (Again, not required for giveaway!)

I’ll choose one winner at random next Monday May 10, 2010. Winner will be notified by email.

More Close To Home
I drank the Matilda Jane Kool-Aid
Big Beard
Conversation Piece

Stephanie is Mom to three boys & a baby girl in Valparaiso, IN and blogs daily at Adventures In Babywearing . Follow her on Twitter- she’s babysteph .

Go For The Heisman, and some Wendy’s

September 30th, 2009 - By Stephanie Precourt

Ok, this is about the only time you’ll hear me talking about football. It’s for a good cause.

The Wendy’s High School Heisman recognizes the nation’s most esteemed high school seniors (guys and girls) for excellence in academics, athletics, and community & school leadership.

Applications are now being accepted- If you know a high school senior who has a 3.0 average or higher, participates in a school-sponsored sport and contributes to their community, have them apply at, or a high school educator, guidance counselor, or coach can nominate them.

Yum! The first 41,100 applicants will receive a free Wendy’s gift card in amounts ranging from $5 to $50. One male and one female from each high school will win the award and continue on in competition for state and national awards. Twelve national finalists will participate in Heisman Weekend festivities during an all-expenses-paid trip Dec. 11-13 to New York City. ESPN2 will feature all 12 national finalists during the Wendy’s High School Heisman Awards Ceremony, which airs Dec. 13. The Wendy’s High School Heisman website will display the names of all applicants and individual school winners on October 22, 2009. That’s some trophy for some very deserving person.

Win! And since I’m talking Wendy’s and you’re totally craving fries and a frosty now, leave a comment below if you’d like to enter to win a $20 Wendy’s gift card!

I’ll choose one comment at random after 11:59 PM Thursday October 1. Must be a US resident and one entry per person, please!

Stephanie is Mom to three boys & a baby girl in Valparaiso, IN and blogs daily at Adventures In Babywearing . Follow her on Twitter- she’s babysteph .

This post was made possible by Mom Central. I was also given a $20 gift card to Wendy’s and I plan to use it for lots of Frostys and fries.

Are You Ready For The Wiggles?

August 7th, 2009 - By Stephanie Precourt

Did I ever tell you about the time I stood in line early to get tickets to see the WIGGLES?

My oldest at the time was just three, and my friend Lori and I planned it all out. We got to Ticketmaster at the mall way early. We imagined there would be tons of Moms doing the same. (This was back in 2004, in what seemed the height of Wiggles popularity.)

We got there and no one was in line. No one but us. And so we went right in to Ticketmaster and they pulled up SECOND ROW seats for us at the Chicago Theatre. I think we danced the Ooby-Doo right then and there.

The concert was awesome. And I’ve been to many many a concert in my life (all of them not appropriate for little children.) We felt like superstars in the second row and it was a blast to see it all through Noah’s wide-eyed wonderment, too.

The Wiggles are making their move to Sprout officially on August 24 and, um, they are HUGE with the little kids these days. HUGE.

I am honored to be a part of the Sprout Band of Bloggers. It does come with some perks… they have given me two Family Four packs of tickets to see the Wiggles on Saturday August 15 at 5 PM.

And I’m giving them away.

So, if you would be able to attend this concert (at the Rosemont Theatre in Rosemont, IL on August 15 at 5PM) or would like to give the tickets to someone that could attend, please let me know in the comments below! One comment per family, please. I will choose TWO winners at random (winners will each win four tickets) and announce it on Tuesday August 11.

Stephanie is Mom to three boys & a baby girl in Valparaiso, IN and blogs daily at Adventures In Babywearing . Follow her on Twitter- she’s babysteph .

Contest has ended. Congrats to random #’s 10 & 6! Robin and Carrington!

April Twenty-Tooth

March 31st, 2009 - By Stephanie Precourt

My boys were really into Earth Hour this past weekend. We chose to do ours on Sunday night instead of Saturday. We turned off all the lights and lit a couple candles in the living room. Secretly I enjoyed the togetherness turning off all the lights brings. And vowed we will be doing this more often.

Noah has been going around reminding everyone that April Twenty-Tooth is Earth Day . We’ve really been enjoying the new Barefoot Book of Earth Tales [$19.99] . Just like all Barefoot Books , it’s colorful and whimsical and engaging, full of folktales teaching about the different ways other cultures all around the world live within nature. Each story shares its own Eco-tip, like easy instructions for making a pinecone birdfeeder or how to grow your own tomatoes. I found myself sneaking in a story or two even when the kids weren’t around!

With each Earth Tales book sold during the month of April, Barefoot Books and Eco Libris are even planting a tree! You can also save 10% off all online purchases using code SCETALES . Expires April 30, 2009.

Win! I have a copy of The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales to give away. To enter, please leave a comment letting me know your favorite Barefoot Book OR what you are doing to conserve OR post about this giveaway on your blog or twitter. Just one of those will do!

I’ll choose one winner at random from the comments after 11:59 PM April 10. Open to US residents only.

And be sure to mark down April Twenty-Tooth, I mean, April Twenty-Second, and celebrate Earth Day with your family. Lights on or off- just do it together!

Stephanie blogs daily at Adventures In Babywearing . Follow her on Twitter- she’s babysteph .

Enter the NWIparent Real Reviews Giveaway here .

Real Reviews Giveaway!

March 19th, 2009 - By Stephanie Precourt

The latest issue of NWIparent is out now! If you’re a local, be sure to get your copy and check out the great products and recommendations in Real Reviews , and this month I’ve got a toasty goody to give away below!

Sootheze Toasty Spa Friends are The Most cuddliest soft stuffed animals EVER, filled with flaxseed and herbs to soothe whatever might ail you. Just microwave or freeze to care for a sprain or fever or just to cure a broken heart. They’re cool, they’re warm, and they smell nice. Hug them tight and breathe in the light scent of lavender, citrus and peppermint and feel pretty much instant calm.

Sootheze Toasty Spa Friends are perfect for the very young and very old. Who doesn’t need a good aromatherapeutic hug? There’s a character or animal for everyone—choose from bears, bunnies, barnyard animals as well as sea life, ranging from $16 to $40 each.

Win! Enter to win a Sootheze Toasty Chocolate Bear Spa Friend [$40]- he’s serious snuggles, people.

Just leave a comment here by 11:59 pm April 16, 2009 and one winner will be randomly chosen from the comments. One entry per household.  This contest is open to US residents only.

Stephanie blogs daily at Adventures In Babywearing . Follow her on Twitter- she’s babysteph .

At Least Your iPod Will Be Into You

February 2nd, 2009 - By Stephanie Precourt

I’m a movie soundtrack junkie. I admit it. From the kids’ favorite Disney movies to instrumental-only flicks (like anything by James Newton Howard), I probably have it. Maybe it’s my love for a good mix tape.

He’s Just Not That Into You premieres in movie theatres February 6, and the soundtrack has me in the mood for this Valentiney time of year. Goodies from REM, The Cure, My Morning Jacket, & more (including an interesting cover of Jeff Buckley’s "Last Goodbye" by Scarlett Johansson that, um, I am honestly just not that into yet but I’m also a music snob and love love love love Jeff Buckley)… ANYWAY- the whole compilation makes a great must-have CD for parties or driving around or cleaning house and chasing kids. I might know a thing or two about that.

Win! I’ve got the He’s Just Not That Into You soundtrack and awesome girly hoodie to give away to one winner here. Just leave a comment if you’d like to win.  I’ll choose one winner at random after 11:59 PM February 20, 2009. One entry per person & US entries only.

Contest has ended.

Stephanie blogs daily at Adventures In Babywearing . Follow her on Twitter- she’s babysteph .

Thanks to One2One Network for this great giveaway. And check out Lisa at Growing Up Mo - she’s got this prize package to give away, too!

You Got That Where?

January 19th, 2009 - By Stephanie Precourt

I take my fashion seriously. I choose quality over quantity, and never sacrifice style for savings. So it’s always a bit of a rush when I can have both - something really nice for a great deal, and even better if it’s from somewhere unexpected.

Like, say… Avon ?

I was sent a full outfit- dress, handbag, tall boots that I LOVE, & a ring- all available from Avon (yes! they have clothes and shoes!)

I’m so impressed that I’m thinking about also ordering the Mark Midnight Mini Dress [$19.99] (and available in sizes small to XXL) paired with some funky leggings for an upcoming night out. Oh, and I’m all over the new Must-Have Black Shirred Knit Tunic [$16.99] and Urban Tote [$29.99] .

And, um, you know they don’t only have fashion & makeup, right? They also have Patrick Dempsey !

Shop with an eRepresentative and get Free Shipping on your order of $30 or more by using code JINGLE30 .

Win! I’ve got a Bejeweled Multirow Glamour Ring to give away here! Check out the awesome fashions available at Avon and let me know something else that catches your eye.

I’ll choose one winner at random next Tuesday January 27 after 11:59 PM. One entry per person and open to US residents only.

Contest has ended. Congrats to Mama Zen of The Zen of Motherhood!

Also enter to win $50 to Tiny Prints here !

Stephanie blogs daily at Adventures In Babywearing . Follow her on Twitter- she’s babysteph .

Filed under: parent. Tags: , , , , .


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