Category Archives: Contests

Toms Shoes: A Review and a Give-away

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By now you should know that I won’t do a review on Morningside Mom unless there is something about that product that truly impresses me. Well, I have another one for you. Toms Shoes approached me and asked that I review a pair of shoes for them. But these aren’t just a pair of shoes. In case you don’t know about Toms Shoes, I am going to tell you what makes this specific shoe company so very special.

shoe4The Toms Shoes company was started by Blake Mycoskie after he visited Argentina and noticed how many children did not have any shoes. His dream for this company was to create a shoe that he could sell and give away. Let me explain further. He wanted his company to make it possible to donate one pair of shoes to a child in need with every one purchased. That’s right. And he did. After one year, he and his family and friends were ready to donate over 10,000 shoes to children in Argentina. Next stop was South Africa where he and his crew dropped off 50,000 shoes. And in 2008 it was planned that they donate over 200,000 shoes worldwide.

Ok, now watch this.

Pretty amazing, right?

Ok, so lets get down to the shoes themselves. What did I think?

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Well, in terms of style, I was a liiiittle nervous. I’ll admit, I was worried they’d be kind of like grandma shoes. I am just being honest here. I wasn’t sure they’d really be my style. So I looked through all the various patterns available online and went for a fun “Element” shoe style. At least I knew these shoes wouldn’t look anything like what Grandma would wear.

shoes2But here’s the thing. When I got them, they actually looked a lot cooler than I expected. I was pleasantly surprised. And my favorite part about the shoes? When I slipped them on, I didn’t want to take them off. Because, my friend, they’re like butta. So dang comfy. Granted, they don’t have a ton of support – these are flat shoes made of canvas. But they are well made and I really, truly never want to take them off. (Maybe I should get Grandma a pair, I think she wouldn’t take them off either.)

Now down to the fun part.

It’s giveaway time!

I have the DVD of their award winning documentary about their first shoe drop in Argentina and a coupon code worth $50 in Tom’s Shoes to give away to a Morningside Mom reader.

How do you enter? Leave a comment below about a time you’ve given back to your community or something you would like to do for your community. Real answers please, don’t just respond with some general Ms. America “I want to save the world” comment. Think about it for the sake of making change happen – like Toms Shoes has.

I will pick a winner at random on Monday March 16th.

Thanks and good luck!

**UPDATE: WE HAVE A WINNER!!**

Ilinap from Dirt and Noise was picked at random and has won the Toms Shoes giveaway! Congrats Ilinap!

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Filed under Africa, Causes, Children, Contests, Gifts, Philanthropy, Raising Awareness, Reccomendations, Reviews

Win Your Own Bit of Fabulous: a Vivienne Tam HP Wireless Mouse

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As I’ve mentioned before, my entire NYC Vivienne Tam experience with HP allowed this uber practical, coupon clipping, “never splurges on self” mommy to enjoy the luxury of a few beautiful things. It wasn’t something for my children or my family – it was just for me. Honestly folks, it’s unheard of around the parts. I am still so appreciative.

And now I want to share a small part of this experience with you. HP has graciously given me three Vivienne Tam HP Wireless mice to giveaway here on Morningside Mom. (Did you know they aren’t even available for purchase in the U.S.?) I am thrilled to be able to share a little bit of beautiful with you all.

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How do you enter? Simply leave a comment below explaining how everyday working, parenting, budgeting women can take care of themselves when they so often forget to. I will pick three inspiring comments and announce the winners on Friday, March 6th.

And one last bit of trivia about Vivienne Tam before I sign off. The enter key on the VT HP mini has a chinese symbol on it. Do you know what it means? It means “Double Happiness”. And now doesn’t that just make so much sense? I hope this giveaway brings a small bit of happiness to three of you.

Good luck!

**UPDATE – WE HAVE THREE WINNERS!**

Congrats to our three winners: Cami, Chandra and Carol! They wrote inspiring comments and I encourage you all to read them. In fact, I would encourage you to take a moment to read every comment here – what fantastic advice for women to follow. Thank you to everyone who participated, it means so much that you took the time to share this wisdom.

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Filed under Blog love, Contests, Gifts, HP, Mothers, Parenting, Stuff I have, Techie Stuff, Women, Working moms

Blogger Cheer: Giveaway Winners and Posts to Share

Two winners have been chosen at random.org for my Muvee Reveal Blogger Cheer Giveaway! And they are (drumroll, please)….

1) Heather from East Coast Transplant

2) Shellie from Creating with Shellie

CONGRATULATIONS!

I would also like to list the posts that entrants submitted too. It’s just one more way to spread some blogger cheer. If you have some time, check these out! Maybe you’ll discover a great new blog.

Over the Hill and Through the Woods at Chickens in the Road

Bizzie Princess and her Christmas Concert by Bizzie Mommy

Christmas Clutter at Dirt and Noise

Santa May Sue by Lipzip

The Greatest Dog Story in the World – Be a Part of It by ThreeDogBlog

Top Holiday Gifts – Noisy Toys for Nieces and Nephews by Dad’s House

This Playroom Thing at Finding Yourself, Despite Yourself

A Silent Night by Dress up and Diaper Changes

First Wild card Blog Tour by Laura William’s Musings

Thoughts from the Mrs.

Humor Du Jour by Three {Ps} in a Pod

(And I just wanted to note: MomBabe, I couldn’t read your link! If you try it again, I will add it to the list!)

Keep reading blogs, folks! It’s what makes the blogosphere go ’round.

Congrats again to the readers and have a wonderful weekend!

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Filed under Blog love, Bloggers, Contests, Gifts, Techie Stuff

Charities Entered in the HP Giveaway Contest

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During my HP Giveaway contest, I received some amazing entries. And I mean AMAZING. Choosing a winner seemed near impossible and I am about to show you why. But I did choose a winner and the Moms Without Moms Organization spent last weekend opening up all their computers and finding new homes for them at the Laura Walker Project. I am thrilled those computers will make a significant difference in the lives of the women they serve.

But back to my entrants. The stories. The heartache. The charities. And even once I had worked my list down, the remaining folks were honestly all equally deserving. Even since this contest has long passed, I think about their charities and the work so many of these folks do for others. So, I thought that the only small way I can give to these folks might be to introduce some of them to my readers. You see, there is amazing work happening out there, even during these very difficult times. Selfless giving happens daily, without any fanfare or fabulous HP giveaways hyping up the amazing work they do.

Please read along and learn a little something about some incredible charities that my entrants hoped to donate the the HP giveaway to.

But can ask one favor of you though? If you are able to, or if you know someone who can, please consider contributing to one of these charities. Or post this link on your blog encouraging folks to give. Or send this link to friends. Or Stumble it. Or tweet about it. Do what you can do to expose these charities to others. I believe in the power of word of mouth, blogging and community. Maybe some more good can come for these charities after all.

Also, forgive me. Rather than writing my own blurb about each place, I have copied quotes from most of their mission statements. They do a better job explaining themselves anyway. Ok, here we go…

Legacy Cultural Learning Community

“Muscogee-Seminole and Cherokee artist, Dana Tiger, founded Legacy Cultural Learning Community to offer “art making” as part of the daily lives of Native youth.  Since 2002, Legacy has provided art opportunities ranging from outdoor youth and elder camps where traditional foods are prepared on an open fire, to the production of film by 5th through 8th grade camera and technical directors.”

Arise for Social Justice

“Arise is a low-income rights, membership organization based in Springfield, MA. We were founded by welfare mothers who believe we have the right to speak for ourselves about the issues that affect our lives. Our membership is poor people, people who are homeless and at-risk of homelessness, working people and people who have been pushed to the side by society We organize around voting rights, housing, homelessness, access to health care, family rights and criminal injustice.”

Endependence Center

“ECI provides an array of independent living services to individuals with disabilities and to the community.  The purposes of ECI are two-fold; to prepare individuals, and to prepare the community for full integration of persons with disabilities into society.”

Lighthouse International

“Lighthouse International is a leading non-profit organization dedicated to preserving vision and to providing critically needed vision and rehabilitation services to help people of all ages overcome the challenges of vision loss. Through clinical services, education, research, and advocacy, the Lighthouse enables people with low vision and blindness to enjoy safe, independent and productive lives.”

Wyoming Search and Rescue Association

The Wyoming Search and Rescue Association assists with “the employment, coordination and utilization of available resources and personnel in relieving distress, preserving life and removing survivors from the site of a disaster, emergency or hazard to safety in case of lost, stranded, entrapped or injured people.”

Vision Hope

“Presently Vision HOPE’s sole focus is on raising the necessary funds to operate Champions for Life Kids’ Camp. Foster children from the surrounding communities will participate in a variety of fun and educational activities in a non-competitive and non-threatening, loving environment. With a highly trained & devoted staff, these children will discover not only their inner strengths and abilities, but their self-worth as well.”

Peace for Kids

“Peace4Kids provides programs and services for foster and at-risk youth from ages 5-18, and after emancipation until age 24. Peace4Kids is truly on the front lines in addressing the needs of foster and at-risk youth in the South Los Angeles neighborhoods of Watts, Willowbrook and Compton.”

Schweinfurt’s SFAC (Soldier and Family Assistance Center)

“The SFAC is a one-stop location designed to provide support services regarding finances, child care, Family Advocacy, budgeting, Chaplain assistance, Legal Assistance, Military Personnel issues, logistics and transportation, installation access, benefits counseling, education and employment opportunities. The SFAC provides a warm, relaxed environment where Soldiers and their Families can gather to foster physical, spiritual and mental healing.”

Youth Power Center

Youth Power Center (YPC), located in Anacostia of Washington, DC, is a career training program that assists teenagers to empower them to reach their potential.

Zoe’s Heart

This blogger writes about her daughter’s dire need of a heart transplant. Visit her site to learn more.

Talking About Curing Autism

“Talk About Curing Autism (TACA) provides information, resources, and support to families affected by autism. For families who have just received the autism diagnosis, TACA aims to speed up the cycle time from the autism diagnosis to effective treatments. TACAhelps to strengthen the autism community by connecting families and the professionals who can help them, allowing them to share stories and information to help people with autism be the best they can be.”

Kennebec Valley Community Action Program

“KVCAP offers a range of services for men, women, and children. These include Family Planning; home ownership, repair and weatherization services, heating assistance; transportation; and a teen center. We also support families through home visitation programs for first time parents, parenting classes, childcare and Head Start. Many of these programs are available to people of all income levels.

Capitol News Connection

“Capitol News Connection is an independent and innovative multimedia news service that brings politics ‘home’ to citizens with localized and custom-crafted reporting from Congress. A bridge from the ‘Beltway’ to the ‘Heartland’, CNC connects the dots and ensures all Americans have access to locally relevant, trustworthy, engaging and unbiased information. By bringing new relevance, transparency and accountability to the political process, CNC reporting empowers citizens to shape their own destinies by being active and effective participants in our democracy.”

Sacramento Loaves and Fishes

“Without passing judgment, and in a spirit of love and hospitality, Loaves & Fishes feeds the hungry and shelters the homeless. We provide an oasis of welcome, safety, and cleanliness for homeless men, women and children seeking survival services.”

Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center

“Our mission is to provide opportunities and an environment for neighbors and families in southwest Indianapolis to improve lives, increase independence, and strengthen community through service and collaboration.”

Blogger Kate discussed their amazing adult re-entry computer education program and how it supports and assists “Baby Boomer” adults as they reinvent themselves at various points in their lives.

Ballet Tech

“Ballet Tech is dedicated to seeking out talented New York City public school students and provides a continuum of training from introductory through professional level training. Throughout the children’s instruction, dance classes, shoes and leotards are provided free of charge. During the first year of training, transportation is provided while students attend ballet classes on a school-time release program. Students who show the talent and passion required to study classical ballet are invited to attend The New York City Public School for Dance (NYCPSD) – a cooperative, tuition-free venture between the NYC Department of Education and Ballet Tech. The School offers a rigorous academic curriculum paired with intensive dance training for students in grades 4 through 12.”

Cathedral Square Cooperation

“South Burlington Community Housing offers affordable housing for people with mobility impairments aged 62 and younger…the community offers nine one-bedroom apartments [and] a non-institutional setting where residents can live independently in a group setting. All residents participate in a care-pooling plan, which allows them to pool their resources to direct the caregiver staff of the community in providing their care, which allows more freedom and independence than a traditional care giving arrangement.”

And finally, there were many entrants who were enthusiastic about donating to these very important charities: the Salvation Army, the Make A Wish Foundation and the Ronald McDonald Houses.

Thank you for reading and giving anyway that you can!

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Filed under Bloggers, Causes, Children, Contests, Education, HP, Inspiring people, Money, Mothers, Philanthropy, Raising Awareness, Women, Working moms

My Family Reviews the HP Prize Package

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On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, seven boxes filled with my HP giveaway goodies arrived in one astounding delivery at my doorstep. Per HP’s encouragement (and my brother’s, who had since arrived for the holidays and was salivating over each and every box), we opened it all up and checked most of it out.

Now if you look carefully at the picture above, you are probably mortified. Yep, that’s Thanksgiving leftovers surrounding that PC on the table. Sweet potatoes to the right and a turkey sandwich to the left. But in the middle of the picture sits the Touchsmart – too large to put anywhere but dead center of my dining room table. So, the Touchsmart enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday with our family, who gathered around and tested it’s touchy waters – including my adorably tech-savvy five year old son pictured above in his PJs.

We had 10 adults visit my home over the Thanksgiving weekend. They all had different backgrounds although three are teachers and one, my brother, is an IT guy who happens to use HP products at his work. So we pulled out the 4 computers. Admittedly, I wouldn’t say we used any of them up to their full potential.  A lot of email was checked. Lots of oohing and ahhing happened. At one point, all the guys were on the back porch with the HDX notebook. My brother had hooked up HD TV on it, and they were watching the game, beers in hand. The Touchsmart was taken over by the teachers, mothers and children. Educational websites were brought up and we all played online learning games along side singing, giggling children. Folks would often sneak off to curl up in a corner with the mini and my very classy, super hip sister in law has decided the Pavillion Entertainment PC is, in fact, all she wants for Christmas.

Gobble Gobble, my fam went techie this Thanksgiving.

Now, wouldn’t you know it – I took notes about what my family had to say about all these PCs over the weekend. And, as I am getting ready to send these boxes off to my winner, I thought I would share everyone’s thoughts with you now. Maybe this feedback will help you if you are in the market for a new computer.

Oh and wait. Big disclaimer here. Apart from sending me the hardware for this contest, HP (and other companies involved) did not reimburse me in any way for my participation in this competition. Yeah, I did get the HP Pavillion PC to review last summer (‘scuse me while I give it a quick appreciative hug), but if anything, you should trust my feedback since I use my Pavillion all day, every day.

1) The TouchSmart IQ816PC

First of all, it was heavy. So, we needed to find a very secure spot to set it up (hence my dining room table). That said, it was fairly easy to set up and it certainly was beautiful to look at. It gathered the holiday crowds – even the guys stepped away from the game for a minute to check it out. The picture was fabulous. Truly, it was breath-taking to watch. It has a very responsive to touch, you almost don’t even have to touch it and it will respond. We loved that it had an HD tuner included. There is a CD drive on the side and cool snap in drive pocket on top. The flat screen makes it a space saver, although it is as large as a TV screen. Overall, HP outdid itself with the “cool factor” on this one.

Cons? Well we all wondered what it would be best used for. It doesn’t seem practical as simply a regular PC. Your arm gets tired when you use the touchscreen option for too long and we wound up reverting to the mouse often. So this PC might be best used for demonstrations or display. Another big issue was the reflection. In fact, all of the computers had a very strong reflection. We kept having to turn the TouchSmart around to make sure no natural light was reflecting off of it. When it was placed facing towards a window, it was almost impossible to see during the day. And with all that touching, we worried how dirty it could get too – especially with children. Oh and a note about touching – my children saw that touching this computer screen was ok, and that made this parent a little nervous. I saw grape jelly finger prints in its near future if I didn’t fend my children off of it. Also, we couldn’t see any HD antennae with it which would make sense to have.

2) HDX 18 series Notebook

Again, this is a beautiful PC. Really, it is. It has a big screen which is very impressive to look at. If you are looking to get rid of your clunky home PC and laptop – and you need one overall good computer that is mobile – this is a great option. We loved the HD tuner and antennae. Its a lovely computer, very flashy and would make a fabulous all in one PC.

That being said, it is very big and very heavy. While, yes, it is a laptop, it is not something you would grab, throw under your arm or just throw in your briefcase and go. Its not an everyday portable type of PC. It can be moved, its nice and thin, but its heavy. Again, we had the same reflection issues with the screen.

3) The Pavillion Entertainment PC

This is what I have and (sigh) I love it. Although the model they sent (Dv4 series) seemed a little facier looking than mine – that may just be because it is a newer model. We all loved this one as a great laptop that has everything you need – especially for movie making and watching movies. All the external ports, serial ATAs and USBs are terrific. I also love that you can pop a media card directly into it. My brother noted that the HDMI out to the TV is great to have too.

Again, this PC does have a significant reflection. (I have gotten used to it on mine but avoid using my PC outside on my porch for that reason). My brother was disappointed that it doesn’t have a blue ray drive on it – but I don’t own any blue ray DVDs so that certainly isn’t something that bothers me. Also, this laptop and the HDX  heat up on your lap. The fan is underneath so it feels hot fast. I always keep it on a table or lap tray if I am working on the couch.

4) The HP Mini 1000 with XP 

We’re lucky this one made it back into its box, honestly. Everyone loved this PC – which surprised me. I thought the bigger, flashier ones would get them. Nope. My family loved how easy, small and light it was. It would be great for travel and it seemed to do a lot for its size. It was very fast and responsive. Folks appreciated the media card on this one too. Impressively, it has a full operating system. It has great resolution and is a very cool little laptop for sure.

However, users would need to get used to scrolling more often with a smaller screen. And they would need to get used to a small keyboard also. There is no CD rom, but what do you expect – its a mini! The track pad seemed a little too sensitive but maybe with some tinkering in options, that could be fixed.

We didn’t get a chance to try out the other parts of the prize package. Its just as well. I didn’t want to fall in love with anything more – after all, its not ours! And I certainly didn’t want the kids all over that TouchSmart any more than they were. My son even said “Mommy!!!! That Touchsmart is SO AWESOME!!!! You know why? I’m allowed to TOUCH it!!” SO COOL MOMMY!” And with that, I hastily packed it back into its box.

Thanks HP for the techie fun this Thanksgiving. But of course, I am more grateful for the opporitunity to send all of this someplace who will truly put it to good use. Congratulations again Moms Without Moms!

For more information about the HP products I review, please visit my HP Update page.

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Filed under Contests, Family, Holidays, HP, Relatives, Reviews, Techie Stuff

Morningside Mom Announces Her HP Giveaway Winner!

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Congratulations to Laura, the President and Founder of the Moms Without Moms organization!

(Cue the confetti, parade, acrobats and cheering crowds!)

Why this organization? Here is a portion of her submission:

“Moms Without Moms was formed in April of 2006.  The mission of the organization is to provide a caring, comfortable, and nurturing environment of support to females who have lost their mothers, by indiscriminately encouraging positive and personal growth through companionship, leadership, and education. 
 
Moms Without Moms opened a maternity group home, the Laura Walker Project (named after my mother), which serves the needs of teenagers who are either pregnant or parenting.  A teenager living at the Laura Walker Project home receives an array of support and guidance:  emotional, educational, life skills, parenting, job skills, etc.  It is the desire of the Laura Walker Project to ensure that the girls are in a position to effectively care for themselves and their baby when they leave.  We are working with them to break the dependence on the public welfare system.”

If you visit their site, you will learn more about this amazing cause started by a woman with an incredible vision. I can already imagine the computers being used by new mothers looking for jobs, the touchscreen being used for classroom or educational use and the printer printing out pictures of the brand new babies. It feels like a perfect match for all of this hardware that needs to be put to good use (rather than just sitting in boxes, crowding up my hallway).

Regarding this competition, choosing a winner was extraordinarily difficult. I received over 300 submissions, each listing amazing charities and organizations  which would benefit greatly from these computers. There were also endless stories about families who have nothing right now, who are suffering during a very difficult time in our country and are hoping desperately for a little holiday magic to come their way. And there were many entries from abroad – entrants discussed the endless benefits these computers could bring to an orphanage or village who had dated PCs, if any at all.

How could I pick? How can little ol’ me decide whose entry was more worthwhile? It was an impossible task. When I finally cut down entries to a “short list”, even that hardly seemed short. No entry was more worthy than another. But I had to make one choice and go with it. And this was my choice. A wonderful one indeed.

Again congratulations Laura! We’ll be following up with her in the near future. I can’t wait to see how her organization and project benefits from these computers.

Now, to those of you who did not win. Please keep a look out. I will be listing many of the sites and causes you submitted in a future post. I am hoping that perhaps someone reading my blog will consider donating to your causes. I know it’s not a bunch of computers, but its the best I can offer you. Also, do not forget: the other HP bloggers are running their contests through this month. Try and enter at any of their sites too!

Thanks again to every entrant, I was truly inspired by the charity in your hearts. Blessings for a wonderful Holiday Season.

For more information about the HP products I review, please visit my HP Update page.

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Filed under Bloggers, Causes, Contests, Gifts, Holidays, HP, Inspiring people, Mothers, Philanthropy, Women, Working moms

The Morningside Mom HP Giveaway Has Ended

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Thank you to everyone who has entered. Over the past week, I received over 300 entries. I was deeply moved by each one, there is a great deal of need in the world and every entrant suggested so many worthy causes for this giveaway. Unfortunately, I will no longer be considering any further entries. If you would like to enter in one of the other blogger’s competitions, please go to The HP Blogger Magic website. My competition was one of the first; there will be many more opportunities to enter at the other blog sites this month. Thank you again!

***PLEASE STAND BY. I PLAN TO ANNOUNCE THE WINNER TODAY!***

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Filed under Bloggers, Contests, Gifts, Holidays, HP, Philanthropy