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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Review of OnStar FMV

When asked if I’d like to review the OnStar FMV mirror (a nav and communication device for your car), I was dubious. Not about the device, but about my ability to even do an automotive-related review. My husband was going to be traveling out of the country for weeks (so he wouldn’t be around to help or answer any questions), and I am NOT by any stretch of the imagination, a car person. But actually that’s what convinced me to do the review in the end. Because the OnStar system is supposed to help people just like me -- and it did.

I got the mirror installed and activated (both were surprisingly easy), and took my kids on a solo road trip to Tahoe. And you know what? The mirror worked like a champ! DSC_7689LR

Here’s what I liked:

  • A Real Live Person: I could press a button from anywhere (and believe me I tried it everywhere) and a bonafide human came on the line and helped me with any problem I was having.
  • Worked Even in Nowheresville: The OnStar mirror got service on even the most remote dirt roads at the very tippy-top of mountains in Tahoe. Places where my sad little in-car GPS threw up its hands and pathetically stuttered “Uh....... not on a digitized route...?”
  • Directionally Challenged Help: The operators (who gave me a thrill each time they answered with “Hello Mrs M, how can I help you today?”) would answer any questions (where’s the nearest gas/bathroom/icecream shop/etc) in person and then send the directions to my mirror. I got clear turn-by-turn directions every step of the way. And if anything was confusing, I just pushed the button again and the operator would clear things up for me. (Yeah I was a pest.) There was no possible way I could have been typing and retyping all of those things into my car GPS while I was driving those twisty mountain roads.
  • BlueTooth You Won’t Want to Chuck out the Window: The mirror has a built-in BlueTooth connection, which never has to be charged up. (My other BlueTooth device, an ugly, unreliable box clipped to my visor, is ALWAYS running out of charge at the worst times.)
  • Emergency Response During the Unthinkable: If, god forbid, my van is in a crash and I’m not conscious, the FMV mirror can automatically alert an OnStar Advisor. She’s immediately connected into the vehicle to see if we need help. This one function alone made me rest a little easier and feel more confident when tackling those skinny mountain passes with only my kiddos in the car. I also immediately taught them how to press the emergency button if they needed any help and I couldn’t do it.
  • Stand-in for Husband: Ha, just kidding on that title, but the OnStar actually does the things my husband normally would on a road trip -- get a tow truck, or get gas if we run out, or fix a flat tire -- basically fix any roadside snafu. And the cost is covered in your subscription. For someone whose husband travels all the dang time, this is so valuable.

The Particulars:

The OnStar FMV mirror is available in a bunch of retail stores now (Fry’s and Best Buy near me) for $300 and can be installed for about $100 on almost any vehicle. You buy a yearly subscription to either Directions & Connections (navigation plus emergency and roadside assistance) for $300 a year or Safe & Sound (emergency and roadside assistance) for $200 a year and then you’ve got a live person there with you wherever you drive. To find out more, visit the official OnStar site or your local Best Buy or Fry’s store. You can also check out the other bloggers' OnStar reviews and enter to win $100 by visiting the BlogHer Prizes and Promotions section.

Disclosure: I received an FMV mirror and trial service from OnStar in order to complete this review and I was compensated by BlogHer for writing this review. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

New winner drawn in ARM & HAMMER $100 Visa giftcard giveaway

The previous winner that was drawn (see below post) never responded, so a new winner was drawn by BlogHer, and it was #114:
fuzzandfuzzlet said...

Visit a park with a lot of trees, make a point to visit during all four seasons and note the changes.
I wish they had a product to make pre teens rediscover the joys of brushing!
Congratulations fuzzandfuzzlet!!! I'll also be emailing you with this notification.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Winner in the ARM & HAMMER $100 giveaway

Thank so much for entering our giveaway and for all of your creative ideas!! Loved reading them all and Ro and Ree will enjoy doing so many of those suggestions. BlogHer has drawn a winner at random from the entries, and the winner is commenter #175:

Amy said...

I love the ideas posted here. My kids love playdough. They love using scissors to cut with it. They also love putting their superheros and Star Wars toys into the playdough and trying to dig them out again.

Amy, I will be emailing you shortly. Thanks!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Review and giveaway: kids toothbrush and toothpaste

This month we were asked to do a family review of a kids’ toothbrush and toothpaste that you can customize with stickers:
ARM & HAMMER® Spinbrush® MY WAY!™ battery-powered toothbrush and Orajel® MY WAY!™ Kids Toothpaste. I have to tell you that Ro and Ree were pretty excited for this review, especially because they had spotted these toothbrushes in the grocery store just last week and begged me to buy them (kudos to the marketing folks).

Toothbrushes: The customization concept is a great one for kids, especially siblings, and here’s why: it’s FUN to use the waterproof stickers to decorate your own stuff, and (this one makes me stand up and cheer) the custom decorations mean that no more fighting takes place over toothbrushes. You think I’m kidding? About once a month in this house Ro and Ree get their toothbrushes mixed up, lay claim to the same one, and fight (loudly -- with much dramatics and even more tears).

Well now the girls have tried out Spinbrush toothbrushes and truly enjoyed decorating them and using them. The neat spinning technology makes the toothbrushes “funner” (their word) to brush with, so they brush WAY longer and do a much more thorough job. Always a plus in this house, where we have one enthusiastic brusher and one extremely haphazard one.

Toothpaste: Now for the Orajel® MY WAY!™ Kids Toothpaste. We give this one a mixed review. The sticker customization was creative and fun, and the girls appreciated having their own toothpaste containers that couldn’t get mixed up (see aforementioned bathroom fights), but the mechanisms didn’t work well for us. We got two tubes of toothpaste to review, and the push button on one tube was inoperable straight out of the box (we never got any toothpaste to come out) and the working one is hard for our kids to operate (they don’t have the finger strength to easily get enough toothpaste out). The fruity flavor got huge, enthusiastic thumbs-up from both girls, and they prefer it over the brand we were using.

The giveaway: Enter our giveaway from 5/12/11 to 6/9/11 to win a $100 Visa giftcard, provided by BlogHer and ARM & HAMMER. To enter, just leave a comment sharing something creative to do with kids (we love anything creative, crafty, or family-oriented around here and are always looking for fun ideas).

Rules: No duplicate comments. You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
b) Tweet about this promotion and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
c) Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw conducted by BlogHer, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to respond, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

For more information, please see:
• BlogHer.com Round-up Page: Visit the Exclusive Offers section
• Rules : Visit the Official Rules
• Sponsor URL Spinbrush: Visit the Official Spinbrush® MY WAY! ® site
• Sponsor URL Orajel: Visit the Official Orajel® MY WAY!™ site

Disclosure: I received two Spinbrush toothbrushes and two Orajel toothpastes from ARM & HAMMER in order to complete this review and I was compensated by BlogHer for writing this review. All opinions are my own.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Winner drawn in HomeGoods giveaway

homegoodsgiveawayThanks for all the great gift suggestions, you guys are awesome!! We had entries from #2 through #219 for the $50 HomeGoods giveaway, and I used random.org to pick the winner, which was commenter #5.

Congratulations to Kay’s Mommy who said: “My sister in law takes the most beautiful pictures that I could never compare to. Picture frames are always a fool proof gift because I know she always has something waiting for a frame. Your girls are adorable! My 5 year old is also on a fairy kick!”

I’ll be emailing Kay’s Mommy in a sec. Thanks everyone and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Two winners in the Hallmark recordable storybook giveaway

Two winners were chosen in this giveaway, by generating random numbers at random.org.

Congratulations to Becky, who was commenter #98 and said “I would give a Hallmark book with my voice to my nieces who live several hours away.”

And congratulations to commenter #17, Susan, who said “I would love to have our daughter record the book for my mother, who lives in another state.  Last year we sent her a mother's day card with our daughter's voice on it, and Mom keeps it by the couch where she can replay it whenever she wants to hear her voice. But that thing is going to wear out soon!”

I’ll be emailing both winners in the next few minutes. Thanks everyone for entering!! Loved reading your comments.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Review and giveaway: Hallmark recordable storybooks

Does your family have a Hallmark recordable storybook yet? We do, actually we have two. One that we bought last year and one that Hallmark just sent us to review. These books have built-in voice recorders to let you personalize each page and are just the neatest things!

We give the books two thumbs up, and actually plan to buy a few more. They’re perfect for the holidays and make wonderful gifts. You can record your own voice, your childrens’ voices, or (our personal favorite) grandparents’ voices reading these classic stories. My folks recorded The Night Before Christmas for Ro and Ree last year, and when we head to Texas for the holidays, we’re going to have TubaDad’s folks record Frosty the Snowman. That way Ro and Ree will always have their grandparents’ voices reading to them. What a treasure!

Ro and Ree love these books and carry them everywhere. They’re a special part of our holidays. They listen to the stories over and over and giggle and cheer with every page turn.


The giveaway: If you’d like your own Hallmark recordable storybook, please enter our giveaway. Two salsa readers will win a Hallmark recordable book, which will be mailed to you before Christmas. See the full selection of books here. To enter the giveaway, fill out this form:

Giveaway entries can be viewed here. Comments on this post are closed so that all giveaway entries will go to the above form. If you’re planning to do any shopping at Hallmark this weekend, by the way, bring this $5 coupon with you.

The rules: Promotion begins 12/3/2010 and ends 5:00 p.m. (PST) 12/8/2010. No duplicate comments. You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt in the above form
b) Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in the above form
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

Disclosure: I was given one Hallmark recordable book in order to write this review. All opinions are my own.