Get Your Game On With

poki-com-screenshot.jpgWhen I was a kid, the most common way for me to waste my parent’s money was by relentlessly asking for quarters to go play video games at the arcade. Space Invaders, Asteroids, Galaga, Frogger and of course my all time favorite, Pac Man, were an addiction for me that took up only slightly less time than the hours I spent playing baseball. Fortunately, my parents didn’t keep a running tally of how much money I verbally hijacked them for with incessant requests of “just one more quarter please.” And to this day, I still feel that urge to play whenever I happen to be at a venue that might carry a few of these nostalgic games.
It’s easy for me to understand how and why my son can easily become fixated with the video games that he often likes playing today. But my understanding doesn’t make the experience any less frustrating when each month my wife and I find a few charges on our credit card bill for a couple of games that he downloaded on his phone. Not super expensive stuff that is going to delay our mortgage payment, but $1.99 here and another $1.79 there for things that end up setting us back by $20 for the month while we are looking for ways to save money. Yes, the easy solution would be to put my foot down and have zero tolerance for it. But like many parents, we try to look past things that aren’t that big a deal and selectively pick our battles. That doesn’t mean we can’t find ways to compromise, allowing us to reduce the amount of money we spend each month on the video games he plays and at the same time not cutting into an activity that he enjoys during his downtime. And I think I found a perfect website to accomplish that goal called, a gaming website that has thousands of free video games for kids and adults of all ages to play.
The amazing thing about the site is the breadth of categories one can choose from when selecting a game. In addition to being able to choose from Disney, Mario Brothers, Sponge Bob, and Lego, users can select sports games as well as many educationally oriented games that sharpen math and language skills. While the graphics for most of the games that I came across are not going to blow anyone away, they are certainly good enough for someone like me that grew up using an Atari system. For the video game snobs out there that only want to play games that graphically look like real life, this site is probably not going to have much for you. But for others that like the games for the game aspect itself, the site is perfect.
While the wide selection of categories is great, the drawback for some parents with younger children is that supervision will be required in they games select. There is a category of shooting games which definitely are not suitable for kids below a certain age. And for the parents out there concerned about their kids being overly exposed to advertisements, the site may not be ideal. Like everything in life, nothing is ever truly free and these games are able to be played at no cost because of the advertising dollars generated. However, users of the games can easily skip the advertisements in 4 to 5 seconds, making it a very small inconvenience for something that requires no money to be spent. So next time you have a few minutes to kill yourself or are looking for something to keep your child occupied for a small period of time, take a peek at and see if there might just be a game or two that you think might be enjoyable and challenging. Who knows, you might just find something that entertains you, your kid and saves you from being nickeled and dimed to death by little download charges that are never big enough to catch your eye, but frequent enough to derail your well thought out plan for savings.
Disclosure: This article was written in partnership with

Never Get Lost with TomTom!

photo-5.JPGI don’t know about you, but I am a slave to my navigation system. In fact, even when I’m in my own neighborhood, you can find me programming a random address into my TomTom because trust me, without a GPS device, I could be lost for hours. And truth be told, I’ve even lost my way just a mere 10 minutes from my home.
While I’ve become quite dependent on my GPS, with that dependence comes freedom too. If left to my own devices, I would never be able to find any of the baseball fields my son plays on throughout the spring and summer without the help of a navigation system. Recently, I was given the chance to review the new TomTom GO 500/600 and discovered how easy it was to navigate the streets of New Rochelle, Mt. Vernon, Yonkers and more — hitting one remote baseball field after another without getting lost. Now, instead of making it my son’s game by the 3rd inning, with my TomTom, I’m finally getting to the bleachers on time.
DSC_5908 2.JPG
With the TomTom GO 500/600, I can now get places faster and safer with these incredible new advancements:
•  TomTom uses real-time traffic data to inform me where there may excessive traffic, or a road block, and suggests an alternate route to expedite the trip.   
•  TomTom makes it easier map my route with new MyDrive technology. I can actually plan a route on my phone while at the office or out running errands, send it to my TomTom GO 500/600, and be ready to hit the road as soon as I get in the car.
Honestly, it’s really a no brainer – if you don’t have built in GPS in your car or if you rent a car for vacation or business trip, then the TomTom is a perfect solution to help you find your way to your final destination while avoiding those annoying traffic pitfalls along the way.
A 2013 study said that the average mom drives her children around for 1,248 miles per year, or the equivalent of two weeks … and that’s not counting the added hours spent in traffic. How much time do you spend on the road and what would you do with the time you would save not stuck in traffic? Share your thoughts in our comments section or on our Facebook page for a chance to win a TomTom GO 500/600!
For more information please visit Follow TomTom on Twitter @TomTomUSA and use the hashtag: #GetHomeFaster

Disclosure: The is a sponsored post. However, all opinions and the fact that I am directionally challenged are 100% my own.

Must See Reality TV: The Briefcase on CBS

I recently had the opportunity to see a sneak peek of “The Briefcase,” a summer docu-series that premieres tonight (Wednesday, June 27, 8-9pm ET/PT) on CBS. The premise for the show seems pretty enticing. Give two deserving middle class families a briefcase that contains $101,000 and let them know that they can keep all of the money or give some or all of it away to a family who may need it more than them.
At first glance, I think that if a briefcase full of money showed up at my doorstep, I would take it all, finally go on that vacation I’ve been planning in my mind, pay my bills and put the rest away for my kids’ college fund. But that’s not how the show works. Unbeknownst to the families, they are not the only ones who receives the money. A second family gets it too — the one they are actually contemplating giving the money to and throughout the show, each family finds out a little bit more about their financial troubles until they have to grapple with the decision of how much they want to give one another. Take a look…

The two families featured in the first episode are the Bronsons and the Bergins. The Bergins appear to be living a nice life with three teenage girls and a beautiful home, but once you go inside, you learn they are in an incredible amount of debt, with a failing ice cream truck business and mounting medical bills…and they don’t have health insurance!
The second family is the Bronsons, a young couple with a second baby on the way who live in a fourth floor walk up apartment. The husband is an Iraqi war vet who lost his leg during the war and cannot work. As a result, his wife works full time as a nurse as she prepares for the birth of their child. Both are middle class families, and each deserve that amazing briefcase full of money – the question is, how much will they each keep or give away?
We recently interviewed the show’s creator and executive producer, Dave Broome who is best known as the creator of the reality TV phenomenon, “The Biggest Loser.” Here’s what he had to say about “The Briefcase”:
My Unentitled Life: What gave you the idea to come up with a show that helps two different families if they choose to?
Dave: I’ve always wanted to do something that dealt with values and what matters most in our life. I was thinking of how to do that in an emotional and a dynamic way, and I used the lottery as an analogy. We all have that dream that if we scratch off that lottery ticket and won, what would we do with that money? If you have the opportunity to win that lottery ticket with a mirror in your face and you have to look at your life through it. At the end of the day, that’s what the show is all about. This has nothing to do with the money. The money plays a little part in this — what really matters is what matters most to you in your life. What might you have or what might you be taking for granted as a person inside.
RoleMommy: In the first episode, you see two families who are incredibly generous to one another. But does that happen in every episode? Will we see episodes where a family doesn’t give any money away?
Dave: You will see some disparity in future episodes but the tone doesn’t change from what you’ve seen in the first one. The reason is that both of these families in every episode go through a tremendous roller coaster ride of not just emotions but evaluation of their life. And by design, we wanted to pick families that can justify any action they do – there’s no right or wrong. This show is not meant to judge people’s actions.
RoleMommy: What do you hope this show is going to do for viewers?
Dave: This will be talked about on Thursday morning. People are going to say, did you see that, did you watch it? My hope is two things — people like myself, when I got into my car every night and I would literally look in the rear view mirror and question myself. I would sit there and go — yeah – we all want to think we’re good. We all want to try to be good people. Are we doing enough — and that’s a very individual conversation — I want someone to watch the show and question themselves. And if they come to that conclusion that they do, then great. If they come to the conclusion and say, no I don’t, I could do more. And it’s not about giving money away. But I want people to question it – what really matters is your love.
We will be sharing more from our interview with Dave Broome but now, we want to invite you to watch the show and join us for a live tweet up tonight from 8-9pm ET. Make sure you follow all the twitter handles below and get ready for a special twist: Throughout the hour, we will be giving away $250 in gift cards. But it’s up to our winning participants to decide if they’d like to keep the money for something special or give it away to someone in need.
Dave Broome will be tweeting throughout the show along with Jill Schlesinger, CBS News Money expert who will be offering important financial tips for families. Jill recently wrote about her experience watching The Briefcase on her own blog too.
And here’s your cheat tweet if you’d like to join the party:
What feels better: To give or receive? Find out 2nite @TheBriefcaseCBS live twitter event! Wednesday, May 27 at 8pm ET/PT #TheBriefcase
The Briefcase on CBS – Twitter Event Tonight!
@broome88 (Dave Broom)
@JillonMoney (CBS News Money expert)

4 Ways to Make Your Life Easier as a Mom

Being a mom is THE hardest job in the world. As a mom, you put your life on hold so that you can care for your child. Maybe you stop working to be a stay-at-home mom, or maybe you stop enjoying your hobby just to spend quality time playing Legos. You unconditionally love your child, and you know that you would do anything in the world to protect them and make them happy. Because of this, you are a superhero.

Everyone knows that a superhero’s life isn’t always easy, and moms need to find ways to take the pressure off of being mom, even if it’s only for a few minutes every day. While your job is always going to be tough, the following four tips can help to make it a smidge easier every now and then.

1. Get organized.

As a mom, you not only have to take control of your own life, but you also need to responsible for your kids’ lives, your pets, and even your husband or partner. Instead of running around like a crazy person, get yourself organized. This will help ensure you don’t miss that work meeting and that your kid doesn’t miss soccer practice or forget to bring a treat to school for a class party. Many people have their own way of getting organized, so choose which option works best for you. You can stick with the traditional paper calendar, or you can use reminders and calendars on your smartphone or tablet to help you. You also need to make sure you have one set place for your child’s school/extracurricular activity notes. This way, instead of scrambling through your home trying to find that permission slip, you’ll know exactly where to look. While there’s no set way to get organized, it’s important that you do it.

2. Invest in the right furniture.

Face it. Your children are destructive and messy. It’s normal, but it can drive you crazy when your$5,000 couch is stained with grape juice or you’re constantly scraping peanut butter off the underside of your dining room table. Although you love to have nice things, it’s important for your sanity that you choose the right furniture. For example, use wood or plastic chairs in your home instead of cloth ones. These are much easier to clean up, and they will still look stylish. You should also opt for leather (or faux leather) couches too, as these are usually easier to wipe down than a fabric couch. By having the right furniture in your home, you’ll spend less time cleaning messes.

3. Pick your battles wisely.

You know that you’re the mom and you are always right, but your children have ways of arguing with you over everything. Instead of constantly fighting with them over everything, pick your battles wisely. For example, instead of fighting with your child about eating their vegetables at dinner, find ways to hide vegetables in your child’s food, such as by using vegetable-based pasta sauce in spaghetti. This way, you can stop nagging at them during dinner and be happy knowing they still got the nutrients they needed. Knowing which battles to pick, and which ones to cleverly work your way around, will help you keep your sanity throughout the day.

4. Stop comparing yourself.

The worst thing you can do as a mom is to compare yourself to other moms out there, but every mom does it. You are never going to feel good about yourself, or your parenting skills, if you are constantly trying to determine if you are doing things the “right” way. Plus, you won’t let it go if you constantly compare yourself to the mom who seems to have it all together. (Hint: she probably doesn’t.) You need to stop worrying about how what you’re doing and how you’re raising your family compares to everyone else. If you don’t, you’re only going to stress yourself out, and you’ll be spending far too much time trying to figure out what to do differently. It’s not worth it. As long as your children are happy and healthy, you’re doing a great job as a mom. Remember that.

Disclosure:  This is a sponsored post.  

Tamera Mowry-Houseley Named Resident Mom of the Year

214038.jpegTamera Mowry-Housley has multiple titles in life: wife, mother, sister, actor, author, talk show host, entrepreneur, and now one more: Resident Mom of the Year.
Recently, at the new Residence Inn Manhattan World Trade Center hotel, Residence Inn by Marriott celebrated its fifth annual Resident Mom of the Year award, by honoring Tamera Mowry-Housley. The program highlights Residence Inn’s commitment to making moms’ lives easier while on the road and at home. Tamera is an inspiration by empowering women to follow their passion, and balance work, play, family and travel – all while feeling gorgeous and staying active.
With a demanding television career, a two-year-old son and a daughter on the way, Tamera understands the challenges of maximizing her time. In just one morning, between her multiple roles, she can keep a live studio audience on their toes, pack for a weeklong family vacation in Central America, and whip up a healthy snack for her toddler. As part of her partnership with Residence Inn, Tamera developed 10 special new “Mom Hacks” to help other busy mothers thrive at home and on the road. From packing tips to “weapons of mass distraction” for the kids, her tricks will help families keep their cool during the hot
summer travel season, and will also be available later this month in video form on Residence Inn’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube channel.
“With a home on the west coast, family in the mid-west, and work obligations on the east coast, I know what it’s like to have a travel-filled schedule that balances motherhood and a career, with some necessary ‘me-time’ thrown in the mix,” said Tamera, who currently hosts The Real, which was rated the #1 new syndicated talk show of the 2014-2015 television season among women 18-54 and was just renewed for its second season premiering this fall. She and husband Adam Housley welcomed their first child, Aden,
in 2012, and are expecting a baby girl this summer.
“I’m constantly on-the-go with my family, and I love that Residence Inn is everywhere and has all the comforts of home, but even better – with features like grocery delivery service and great options at breakfast, we can focus our attention on the important things, like discovering new places and adventures,” said Tamera. Residence Inn hotels offer spacious suites with full kitchens, free Internet, swimming pools, laundry facilities and complimentary hot breakfast, so families can stick to a routine, while uncovering extra time for new experiences. Offering a peek into her personal pantry, Tamera has created an exclusive kid-friendly healthy cookie recipe for guests of Residence Inn, made with only five
ingredients that can be prepared quickly at home or in a hotel suite.
“As a young mom with a thriving career, she is dedicated to her family, and offers a fresh, creative perspective that is relatable to all parents,” said Diane Mayer, vice president and global brand manager, Residence Inn. “Tamera is the perfect Resident Mom as she has grown up in front of our eyes, and stayed on top of her game through the various chapters and roles in her life. Similarly, Residence Inn has changed through the years, and constantly evolves to enable guests in an ever changing environment.”
With more than 650 properties in the United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East and Central America, Residence Inn by Marriott is the leader in the extended-stay lodging segment. Designed for long stays, the brand offers spacious suites with separate living and sleeping areas. Fully functional kitchens, grocery delivery, 24-hour markets and complimentary breakfast help guests maintain a healthy balance while on the road. Complimentary Wi-Fi allows guests to stay connected to the home and office, while
health and fitness options and inviting lobby spaces provide comfortable places to work and relax. Residence Inn participates in the company’s award-winning Marriott Rewards® frequent travel program that allows members to earn hotel points or airline miles for every dollar spent during each stay. For more information or reservations, call the Residence Inn toll-free number at 800-331-3131 or visit

Let the Summer Camp Preparation Begin

large_19513697d9.jpgWith June right around the corner, things around our house get laser focused on summer camp preparation. The to do list for camp always seems to be endless:
Fill out online camp forms…check!
Pay the final camp bill…check!
Order larger clothes for my son who seems to be growing like a weed…check!
Make sure the kids get their annual physical exams so that they can attend camp.
Label, label, label.
If you are a summer camp newbie, then the most important thing you are going to need to do for your child is LABEL EVERYTHING. I say this because over the course of six years, I have lost more socks, shirts, water bottles and more because I initially tried to label their items with a sharpie and even though they say the ink is indelible, trust me…it isn’t.
So as you drag out your kids’ duffle bags and all the items they need to take with them, make sure you order custom kids labels that will last throughout their time at camp – and make sure you order the iron on versions so that you can ensure that the labels stay on even in the wash. Trust me, you’ll save a ton of money when all their stuff comes back home to you. There’s nothing better than seeing your child on visiting day along with two pairs of socks, 16 shirts and three water bottles!
Good luck to you on packing for camp and hope your kids enjoy their summer experience away from home!
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Sticker You. However, all opinions are 100% my own.

Five Fabulous Beaches in Barbados


Barbados is a Caribbean island. More than that, it’s one of the most popular sun-soaked destinations worldwide. Travelers flock to the island for its unspoiled natural beauty. Naturally, think sunshine and you also think of beaches. One of the biggest draws of Barbados holidays are the beaches found here, which can rival anywhere else in the world.

Here are five of the very best:

Crane Beach

One of the more idyllic stretches of beach on the island, this destination is ideal for families, and features white sand and clear blue waters which are perfect for snorkeling. Many travelers come here to swim because the waves are fairly small, and are perfect for body-boarders. If you’re with young children, though, you should always supervise while they’re in the water.

Cattlewash Beach

Cattlewash is one of the more secluded beaches on the island, featuring several miles of sand to stroll along as well as natural rock pools where you can take a dip. The strong undercurrents, however, make swimming a little risky. Despite this, you’ll see lots of surfers, thanks to its large breakwaters, as well as people who want to escape the buzz of the more popular beaches.

Payne’s Bay

One of the most visited beaches on the island, the colorful reef close to the shore makes Payne’s a terrific place to go swimming and snorkeling. You can even interact with turtles here. Many operators can ferry you the short distance out to sea for a memorable swim. Don’t worry about the equipment, a lot of them will provide you with it so that you don’t miss out.

Mullins beach

This west coast beach really does pull in the crowds and can get pretty busy at times. A lot of the beach goers come here to swim, or take part in water sports, since Mullins has calmer waters than other beaches. Water-based activities can be organized for you by operators found on the beach.

Accra Beach

This well-known, south coast beach is popular with families and locals alike. It’s the perfect place to sunbathe while lazing on the long stretches of white sands with a good novel. There’s good surf to be found at Accra, meaning those interested in taking a dip won’t be disappointed. If you want to relax, take a serene stroll along the board walk, where you can peruse the local vendors and food stalls.

Whatever your reason for visiting Barbados, be sure to hit up these beaches if you have the time. If they don’t tickle your fancy, however, there are plenty of others to explore when here, so enjoy!

Disclosure:  This post was written in collaboration with Thomson.

Sofia Vergara and Reese Witherspoon Make Hilarious Duo in “Hot Pursuit”

HotPursuit-Image1.jpgMy father-in-law has a really great saying that I often reference when I am invited to places that I will never forget. “You can’t put a price on a good time.” That’s exactly what happened this week when I brought my daughter along with me to a screening of the new comedy “Hot Pursuit,” starring Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara. The screening opportunity also came with the chance to meet the one and only Sofia Vergara and when my daughter found out about it, she lobbied for me to take her along.
After earning my coolest mom on the planet award, I let her skip Hebrew School to join me for a fun night out in Manhattan and we arrived at the Time Warner Center early enough for us to munch on some appetizers at an upscale lounge bar. Once we were finished, we fixed our make-up and headed to the screening and before we knew it, we were whisked into a private room where we got to get a sneak peak of Sofia Vergara’s jewelry line for Kay Jewelers.
Before we knew it, we saw a few flashbulbs go off in the distance and suddenly, Sofia walked into the room. She is just as stunning in person as she is on television and here’s the best part — she’s also quite lovely. I made sure to have my daughter line up to get a picture with her and when she stood next to her Sofia even told her how pretty she was. How sweet is she? I even got to hop in at the end of the quick meet and greet to get a quick shot with her too and then it was time for the screening.
Since I’m already a huge fan of Reese Witherspoon too, I was really looking forward to seeing the pair in action and honestly, from the moment it started, I couldn’t stop laughing. Mix a dose of Lucy and Ethel with the adrenaline rush of Thelma and Louise and you have “Hot Pursuit,” a hilarious new comedy that stars Witherspoon as an uptight and by-the-book cop who tries to protect the sexy and outgoing widow (Sofía Vergara) of a drug boss as they race through Texas pursued by crooked cops and murderous gunmen.
What I really loved about this film was that you could tell that everyone watching was having a great time – we honestly, couldn’t contain our laughter. From the scene where Reese’s character Cooper gets accidentally jacked up on cocaine, to the scene where the duo pretend they’re lesbians so they don’t get shot by a redneck played by comedian Jim Gaffigan, I dare you to attempt to keep a straight face during the film, because trust me, it’s not going to happen.
So if you’re trying to figure out what to do this Mother’s Day, take my advice – grab your mom or your best girlfriends, forget the brunch, get a large box of popcorn mix it with some M&M’s and buy tickets to see “Hot Pursuit.” If that’s not a perfect way to spend a day that’s all about you, honestly, I don’t know what is!
Check out the “Hot Pursuit” trailer and make sure you like their Facebook page and follow on twitter at @hotpursuitmovie #HotPursuit.

Take Back the Kitchen with Alma Schneider: Healthy Raw Cocoa Balls

IMG_1385.JPGWant a healthy treat that is also a crafty project for you and your kids? I made these yesterday when I was starving but wanted to remain healthy. They only took about 5 minutes to make. Try freezing them as well!
1/2 cup raw oats
1 1/2 tsp chia seeds (optional but adds a nice crunch)
1 tbsp raw cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 ripe banana
2/3 cup cashew butter (or almond butter or peanut butter)
Pinch kosher salt
Mush all the ingredients together and roll into balls with 1 tsp of batter for each ball.
If the balls are too runny, add a bit more of the oats.
Makes 12-15 balls
For more great recipes, visit Alma at Take Back the Kitchen