Maryland Mommy Blogger | Mommy 2K

Friday, November 21, 2014

Don't Forget The Duracell Batteries...or Else! #PowerTheHolidays #sponsored



It's Christmas morning. Excitement fills the air, along with the pitter-patter of tiny (and large) feet running down the hall. The tree shines brightly, illuminating the what looks like a department store, but is clearly a living room. Santa has been busy circling the country to deliver the hottest toys, gadgets and electronics on the lists of those who have been nice. The anticipation of revealing what's under the gorgeous wrapping paper is at an all-time high. It's going to be a blast seeing everyone's reaction to their gifts.

Unless, someone forgot to purchase Duracell batteries from Walmart to go along with them. Oh no! Why Duracell?
Duracell CopperTop All-Purpose alkaline batteries are not only dependable, they’re also long-lasting. You can take comfort in a 10-year guarantee in storage with Duralock Power Preserve Technology. They’re great for many of the devices you use on a daily basis in your home. And from storm season to medical needs to the holidays, Duracell is the #1 trusted battery brand of first responders, pharmacists and parents, so you know it’s a battery you can trust. CopperTop batteries are available in AA, AAA, C, D and 9V.

16 pack:
Duracell Coppertop AA Batteries in a Doublewide pack deliver efficient and reliable power in popular battery powered devices such as toys, Wii remotes, portable gaming systems, smoke alarms, clocks and radios. Use them in all of your devices and enjoy the fact that they are long-lasting. The Duracell AA batteries come in 16 count pack to provide plenty of power.
Duracell batteries are not only for the holidays, but everyday use (like those remote batteries that you refuse to change...ever).

We were already Duracell battery users before I wrote this post. So, it made it that much easier to share how effective and lasting they are when used at home. We always keep a pack handy because almost every toy that my youngest son owns requires batteries. And every parent knows what happens when a child has a toy that is suppose to make noise, but can't make noise because there are no batteries in it. Let me just show you what happens in our home:


I immediately ran to get the 16-pack of Duracell batteries. You would have thought someone has stolen his toy instead of forgetting to put the batteries in it. Thank goodness we had several on hand. My little guy could hardly wait to power up his toy phone and watch as it lit up and made noises. Duracell to the rescue!


Just to be on the safe side, I went ahead an added Duracell batteries to his other toys. I did not want another episode like the one above. This way, there will be no interruption to his play time and Mommy may get a chance to do something productive.


This holiday season, make sure you grab a 16-pack of batteries to avoid serious meltdowns. You can even pick up a 4-pack of Duracell batteries and use them as stocking stuffers. Great idea, huh?

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This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/Duracell. I received product and compensation as a thank you for my time. The opinions and views are my own. 

Album Review: Mary J Blige #TheLondonSessions #bLinkBiz



All hail the queen! Welcome back, Mary J Blige, with the release of The London Sessions. (available December 2, 2014. iTunes. Amazon.). I'll admit, when I first heard that Mary J traveled "across the pond" to record this album, I was a bit surprised. She has been known for much of her career as the "Queen of Hip-Hop Soul", and London did not give me that type of vibe as a mean for inspiration. It wasn't until I began listening to the tracks on the new album and dissecting the lyrics, that I realized how The London Sessions was more about growth than it was about abandoning a title. It was as though Mary had an epiphany in her life and wanted to capture the experience through lyrical prose. She did just that. And for the record – she is still the queen!


I use several factors to determine my like or love for an album. Generally, if I can press play and never have to skip a track, I am most likely sold on the concept. I also know that I am feeling an album if I subconsciously start tapping my feet, bobbing my head and/or snapping my fingers. I can assure you that all of these things happened as I  listened to The London Sessions. I have to add that I like the personal touch of sharing interviews from those who worked with MJB on the album. They can be heard after a few of the selections.

Here are the tracks that are included on the latest album and my take on each:

Track: Therapy

First Impression: This is a great track to start the album. The beat immediately grabs your attention, followed by a to-the-point MJB asking a simply question. I tapped and clapped through this song. It's catchy. And did I mention the great Sam Smith helped write this track. Awesome.

Favorite Lyrics/Line: Why would I spend the rest of my days unhappy? Why would I spend the rest of this year alone? When I can go therapy. When I can go therapy.

Track: Doubt

First Impression: Victory song. We call can use this at some point in our life. It's about belief and declaration. A nice addition to the album.

Favorite Lyrics/Line: You think you know, But you don't know the half. You think you beat me down, But I'll have the last laugh.

Track: Not Loving You

First Impression: I love the strength of the piano chords peeking in the background of this track. It's a classic MJB song where she pours her soul out.

Favorite Lyrics/Line: There's only so much I can do if you're not loving you.

Track: When You're Gone

First Impression: I understand the idea behind this track. Being away from anything or anyone you love gives you clarity and reminds you why you need them in your life. Missing love is the theme.

Favorite Lyrics/Line:When you're gone I'd miss you like I did when we were first together. No one in this world could hold me better. Just tell me when you're coming home.

Track: Right Now

First Impression: Electronic. I loved the sound right away. It felt like a slow groove for the roller skating rink.

Favorite Lyrics/Line: My love won't be the same for you no more

Track: My Loving

First Impression: London was here. LOL. I felt like I was with my girls in the club and we didn't have a worry in the world. Lights, drinks, dancing and laughter. It's the hey-DJ-play-my-song type of track. It takes you away. Love this!!

Favorite Lyrics/Line: Tonight, you don't need an alibi, it's all in your mind. You just need to close your eyes, I'll let you drive.

Track: Long Hard Look

First Impression: A typical relationship song about staying and working on love.

Favorite Lyrics/Line:Take a long hard look. The grass is never greener on the other side.

Track: Whole Damn Year

First Impression: It sounds like Mary is healing and needs understanding. She's been through the "seasons", as most of us have and go. It's a process.

Favorite Lyrics/Line: See winter took most of my heart. And Spring punched right in the stomach. Summer came looking for blood. And by autumn, I was left with nothing.

Track: Nobody But You

First Impression: Another great club hit. The "techno" sound is on trend with today's music. I definitely feel this is how London inspired Mary. I like the simplicity of the lyrics and the ability of the song to make me dance.

Favorite Lyrics/Line: I'm thinking of running away, Into your arms to a place, Where I know that I'm gonna stay, gonna stay.

Track: Pick Me Up

First Impression: This song felt just like the title – an instant pick me up. I felt like smiling. I can picture this song on a nice day, windows down with the sun kissing my cheeks. Mary also reminds us all that we need the occasional getaway. Maybe we can't all go to an island, but even a musical escape is enough.

Favorite Lyrics/Line: Pick me up, pilot. Fly me straight to the island. Soon the sun gon' be shining on me.

Track: Follow

First Impression: After hearing two previous songs with the same upbeat, I didn't really think this track added anything to the album. I had to actually go back and listen to the others to see how similar they were.

Favorite Lyrics/Line: Give it all or give it nothing. Give it love or give it up.

Track: Worth My Time

First Impression: My favorite! I love that this track was placed at the end. It made the album come full circle. Mary took us on an emotional roller coaster from start to finish and assured us that it was all worth it in the end. I play this track on repeat, mainly because I can relate so much.

Favorite Lyrics/Line: But I won't give up. Make it worth my time. We've been in it so long we forgot how it feels to divide. And I wanna stay.

My cousin, Rasha Jay, recently visited London to share some of her music. She is an aspiring singer and songwriter with a drive larger than the amount of lyrical content buzzing through her head. The experience was definitely one that encouraged her to want more. She said that London was very inviting. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Mary was able to open up and release any inhibitions that have held her hostage in the past.


Thank you, London. You did not change Mary, but you sure did enhance her already adored artistry. It was refreshing to experience a new sound and go in a different direction with such a seasoned vocalist. A lot of the times, fans have a difficult time embracing change and want to keep an artist in that familiar space. But, everyone has to evolve. I truly felt the same soulful spirit of the MJB that hit the scene "back in the day". The Mary on The London Sessions is a bit softened, reflective and triumphant. I believed in her missions and understood the conviction in her voice. The lyrics were genuine. I mean, how else can you knock out a great album like this in only three weeks?

Mary J Blige gave me life...literally.

How can you stay updated on all things Mary J Blige? Well, here's some info.:
iTunes
Amazon
Official Mary J Blige website: http://www.maryjblige.com/london-sessions
Twitter - @maryjblige
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/maryjblige
YouTube - http://bit.ly/MJBVIDEO

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Disclosure Information:
I participated in the Mary J Blige The London Sessions album review program as a member of bLink Marketing Network. I was provided a free album to review but all opinions are my own.

Comments submitted may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Review: Ripley's Believe It or Not! at the Baltimore Inner Harbor #sponsored



If I told you how many times I said the words, "no way!" or "that's crazy!" after our visit to Ripley's at the Baltimore Inner Harbor, I am almost certain you would believe it...or not! My family and I finally visited this awesome museum of bizarre and fascinating items over the weekend. It did not disappoint at all. And let's just say that if my toddler sits still and is amazed, it was a complete success.


Ripley's Believe it or Not! is located in the Light Street Pavilion at Harborplace (301 Light St, Baltimore, MD 21202), surrounded by other great stores (H&M, Urban Outfitters) and restaurants (Bubba Gump Shrimp, The Cheesecake Factory). This spot makes it the perfect opportunity for a one-stop day out with the family – there's plenty to do within walking distance. In fact, we enjoyed lunch at Miss Shirley's Cafe just before visiting Ripley's. We walked a few blocks from the restaurant to reach our destination. Even with the chill of the wind, it was still sunny and a rather pleasant walk over to the Inner Harbor. There are plenty of parking garages nearby for you to park and walk as well.

Ripley's was gracious enough to provide my family and me with complimentary tickets to visit this particular location. Our group included two adults, one child (ages 4-12) and a toddler. We were given a 3-way combo ticket that allowed us to experience the Odditorium, the Marvelous Mirror Maze and the 4D Theater. Currently, there is a special that will allow you to try all three for only $25.99. That's a great deal (but it won't last, so always check the site to see the current ticket prices). The combo tickets are a great way to save money.

Even before you start your adventures at Ripley's, there is so much to see at the main entrance. There is a 12ft. Transformer, a wooden car (that is really a boat) and cool artwork(made of shotgun shells). My curiosity peeked from seeing these items alone.


Make sure you bring your camera (or charge your phone). There are several photo opportunities to be had. We ran into several before we left the main floor.


The "piano stairs" set the tone for the fun up ahead. My oldest son and I took the stairs to go to the second floor. Each step that we took created a note, like a modern version of the giant, floor keyboard. I joked about having one of these in the house. It would drive me nuts, but it seemed highly appropriate for this setting.



Don't worry if you cannot take the steps. You can still hear the lovely notes as each guest makes their way up. If you are in a group with a wheelchair or stroller user, there is an elevator to get you to where you need to go.


We wasted no time checking out all the great exhibits and reading the fascinating facts. If I can make one suggestion, it would be to take it all in. Do not just breeze through – stop, read and relish in the moment. Even Liam was able to touch the buttons to activate the displays. he loved this part.

This is meant to be an entertaining experience, but there is also a lot of new information to take away. You will be surprised at all the knowledge you gain. In fact, I am still thinking about a few new facts that I read at Ripley's.


I almost felt like I was in an art museum. The pieces on display were stunning. There were times that I stood there in amazement and whispered the words (as mentioned at the beginning of this post), "no way!"






I was pleasantly surprised by all of the fun stuff that my youngest son could take part in. Ripley's does not cater to one age group in specific because there is something for everyone to enjoy. We let Liam, who is almost two, push buttons and touch certain exhibits. He was extremely stimulated during our visit. He never cried, whined or asked to get out of his stroller (btw, there is plenty of room for a stroller to maneuver). There was just so much to see. The amount of interaction was a blast. We were allowed to touch, try and test in almost every area we were in. That is a plus.


The fun and exploration continued. Check out these great items:

A castle from Harry Potter made of matchsticks


(genuine) Shruken Heads


A dinosaur constructed from Pop Tarts foil


There was just so much to see. I am sure I missed a few things. I did not want my toddler to grow fussy, so we kind of picked up the pace at the end. Before we left, we headed to the Marvelous Mirror Maze. The doors on the exit for the Odditorium will point you to the direction to go, whether you are trying the maze, watching the movie or leaving all together.

We were instructed to put on plastic gloves upon entering the mirror maze...and for good reason. As soon as we entered, our hands touched the glass as we felt our way through. Thank goodness for Kaden, who led the way. I was complete ignorant to which way to go. I ran into the mirrors a few times and almost lost my party.


Things you should know:

There is not telling how many people will be in the Odditorium when you visit. Be prepared to have to wait to see or test out items. Have patience – it's worth it. We were lucky to visit at a time where there were not many people. It was around 4PM on Saturday.

Take your time. Read the informative signs beside each item. You will learn something. There is no set time on when you will finish. An estimate of 1 to 1.5 hours to explore Ripley's sounds about right. It's really up to you and also depends on how large your group is.

Be respectful. If is says "do not touch", do not touch. Keep your voices down, even though there are times where excitement can be high. If there is an interactive display, make sure you don't hog it. Let others waiting in line get their turn and return if you have to.

Do come back. I think I will have to visit again...maybe even alone. This way, I can stop and go as I want, perhaps I'll even discover something new.

Dress comfortably. There is a lot of walking. Also, if you want to do some of the interactive exhibits, you want to have on the right clothing. 

Try all three attractions – the Odditorium, the Marvelous Mirror Maze and the 4D Theater. At least to say you did. The Odditorium alone is a lot of fun. We could have skipped the mirror maze and would have been just fine.

Check out other Ripley's locations. If you are traveling, you should see if your area has a Ripley's. They are all different. I remember visiting my first one on vacation in the 90s in Virginia Beach. It can easily become a family tradition.

Have fun!


Overall, we enjoyed our time at Ripley's. Each member of our family was able to enjoy some aspect of this visit. We learned and laughed. We even had to use a bit of teamwork in the maze. I would definitely recommend you put this on your list of things to do the next time you visit the Baltimore Inner Harbor. 

Check out more photos on my Facebook Fan page.
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My family and I were provided complimentary tickets to visit Ripley's. The opinion and views are my own.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

No Filter.



Hefe. Earlybird. Lo-Fi. Rise. How am I going to pretty up my life today? If you must know, I'm a bit partial to the Valencia filter. It creates an instant brightness to my sometimes gloomy appearance. It also wipes away those nasty blemishes that continuously surface over the years, mainly due to my lack of effort in removing make-up after a night out. <Insert judgement here>

If I don't want you to see parts of my life, I can blur the lines...literally. I can flip my picture to capture the better half of me. My right side appears to be more flattering. It's also the side I swipe my bangs to to hide my enormous forehead. But, I can even crop that down a bit if I wanted to.

And let's not even talk about the caption. Okay, let's. I can string together words that will have you believing life is a big ole peach – sweet, juicy and desirable – when it actually feels like a lemon at the moment. My hashtags can take on an entire story of their own and most of the time reveal the true definition of the photo. #apictureisworthathousandwordsyouknow

I have the power to make you believe whatever I want you to believe. I control what the lens captures, even when there is a complete mask of deceit attached to the face of the photo.  Not to say that what you see is not really what you get. But, there is a chance that you will come across some form of fabrication while scrolling through your feed. Faux. Real.

For instance, take a look at this picture:


Ian and I attended his co-worker's wedding at Hotel Monaco in Baltimore, MD. It was around the same time that the Orioles were on fire and working towards a spot in the World Series. Traffic was hectic in downtown B'more; pedestrians were everywhere and the city was bleeding orange and black. Because of this excitement, the streets were flooded with more cars, people and tie-ups, causing us to run late (which isn't highly unusual AT ALL). Still, we stayed calm and cool in the car. I mean, there was nothing we could do about it. I was surprised at how we handled the situation. It felt very adult-like of us. I applied my makeup and attacked my straggly hair. I even watched a Youtube video in the car that instructed me on how to tie a tie so that Ian would have one less thing to worry about. I did a great job, too!


Ian and I made it to the wedding way after it started. Despite our delay, we did not miss all of it. We were able to witness the two families coming together as one under an umbrella of love (in the form of a cloth). The bride and groom shared a kiss, they were pronounced husband and wife, the crowd cheered...and the party started.

We worked our way upstairs to cocktail hour. They had me easily at "open bar". We feasted on delicious passed hor' dourves and sipped on endless cocktails. I met a lot of Ian's co-workers and made conversation with them effortlessly. I even talked with the guys about fantasy football. Don't tell me I can't hang. It was finally nice to put a face to a name and to know that they had heard so much about me already. Looks like Ian was doing his job.  Good job, fella.

After about an hour, the doors to the main room were opened. It was breath-taking. It looked like something out of a magazine. I was excited to see what the night would bring. Or so I thought I was.


Just minutes after snapping the picture above, Ian and I got into an argument. It was my doing and I won't disclose all the details, but it was enough to change my entire mood. No one around us knew, beside the awkward moments of silence and Ian's constant visits to the bar for beer and my frequent bathroom breaks. We still clapped, cheered, toasted and smiled like good, little wedding attendees are suppose to. But, the damage had been done. We left the wedding earlier than planned, with emotions still running high. As one couple came together as one, it felt like Ian and I were drifting apart. It was a night to remember for so many reasons.

Looking back, I over-reacted a bit (but rightfully so) and probably should have waited until we were at home as to not ruin the mood of the night. But, in some twisted, lesson-to-be-learned way I am glad that it happened. Ian and I had to work through a lot of emotion, participate in real conversation and declare our real love for each other because of this single event.

In that moment, that Instagram picture was real. But the likes and love that came after it was posted were for an image that had already dissolved. I pressed submit. There was no coming back.

I noticed that I never responded to the comments that were made on this picture. That is unusual for me. I normally reply to my comments. I probably felt like my words would be polluted with untruth. But, life has a way of making a moment just that – a stage for as little or as long as you want/need it be. 


This picture is my current Facebook profile picture and for good reason. I would later go back and add a description to it and respond to all the beautiful comments that were made. After evaluating the situation and honoring our commitment to one another, we realized that most of what we go through is trivial.

Thank goodness for endings and beginnings. We are over this hurdle now and are leaping towards more exciting adventures. I'm almost afraid to express such joy because some may try to strip it away. But, who cares? 

The same emotion that was initially captured in that picture, is truly how we feel today. No filter.

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