August 19, 2016

Mellanni Luxury Linens Giveaway

Enter for a chance to be one of three winners of this Mellanni Luxury Linens Giveaway!

Mellanni Luxury Linens Giveaway ends 9-19

affiliate links.

About the prize

Mellanni Fine Linens are silky soft, stain resistant, 100% microfiber, hypoallergenic and so much more! At Hints and Tips Blog we love these sheets. I can honestly say they are so soft that I sleep better. My granddaughter has spilled stuff on them many times and I don't have to get upset, I just wipe off the mess. The other thing we like about these sheets is that they actually stay on the bed! No more getting frustrated because one of the corners popped off. And Mellanni has been so generous to allow us to host a giveaway with 3 winners!
If you can't wait to see if you won, you can order some now, here for king, and here for queen.

Sponsor: Mellanni

Support the participating blogs so we can continue to bring you giveaways. Like, follow, subscribe, comment, share, whatever you can do is appreciated!

And now for the very best part-the giveaway!

Giveaway details:

Giveaway dates: 8/19 at 1 am CST - 9/19 at 11:59 pm. CST Open to entrants in the United States, 18+. One set of entries per person. Prize: Three winners will each receive one 4 piece set of white Mellanni Brushed Microfiber Bed Sheets in their choice of Queen or King. $59.99 RV each (prices may vary according to current promotions) Total prize value $179.97. Please read the rules here before entering.


*Hints and Tips Blog received free sheets for hosting this giveaway. Thank you for participating.
Disclaimer: None of the blogs that posted this giveaway are responsible for issuing the prizes. The sponsor listed above will be awarding the prize(s) to the winner(s). None of the social media platforms are affiliated with this giveaway in any way. If you would like to sponsor a giveaway like this, email pr@hintsandtipsblog.com and I will respond within 48 hours. It isn't too early to start thinking about Christmas Gift Guides and Giveaways!

August 18, 2016

What Happens at the Anatomy Scan?

The anatomy scan typically happens between 18 to 21 weeks, but usually they aim for 20 weeks (which is why you will hear it called the 20 week scan as well). I was 20 weeks and 2 days for our appointment, but could have scheduled as soon as 19 weeks, it just didn't work out with our schedule though so we had to wait another week.

This ultrasound not only lets you find out your baby's sex, but is to check on your baby's health. It can last up to 2 hours depending on how cooperative your baby is. Our appointment lasted a little over an hour. Our baby got the hiccups halfway through which made it a little harder for the tech.

The first thing the tech does when they walk into the room is ask "do you want to know the sex/gender?" If they don't ask this, make it known right away that you don't want to know (if you don't want to know) or they will tell you and show you! We found out we are having a girl! Finding out right away made the rest of the appointment a little boring. The nurse explained before that the tech is not allowed to tell us much details, but our guy told us a lot, so I am not exactly sure what they are not allowed to say. He told us what he was looking at and constantly said "that looks good" or "that's normal." We're guessing if anything was wrong, he would have probably kept quiet.

He did mention that baby was measuring a week ahead, but explained it would not change the due date. Our baby is just growing a bit faster, which is fine, all babies grow differently. She currently weighs 1 pound! I'm hoping she stays under 8 pounds when it comes time to push!

After he was done getting all the pictures he needed, he printed off some ultrasound pictures for us and then also made a disc. We had asked the nurse earlier if they do videos or if we could record and she said that unfortunately they don't and don't allow videoing of the screen. Baby wasn't as active this time though so not a huge loss and we got way more photos than last time. So if you plan on getting a video of your ultrasound, make sure to ask in advance to know your hospital's policy otherwise you might have to pay for a private screening that will let you.

We were then moved to a room right across the hall to talk to a doctor about our ultrasound results. She came in and basically said everything looked good, normal. Baby girl is healthy and she did not have much else to say, but asked if we had any questions. The only thing I asked was how positive they were on the sex of the baby and she said they can't guarantee 100% unless you to do an amniocentesis or they see the baby at birth, but said they were 99% positive. I guess they don't want to get themselves in trouble if they happen to be wrong, but it is pretty obvious to us in the sonogram that it is a girl. The doctor said that she would send the results to my OBGYN and it would be up to her if she thinks anything else needs to be done, which isn't likely, and we were good to go!

After reading online, that last part seems pretty rare. It looks like most people have to wait till their next OBGYN appointment to speak to their doctor about their results. I'm glad we live in such a nice area that we were able to find out right away that our baby was healthy.

July 21, 2016

Pokemon GO Is Sweeping the Nation - A Review

My character in Pokemon GO - Go Team Mystic!
My husband and I grew up playing Pokemon so we were super excited when Pokemon Go finally became available in America! We downloaded it the same day it came out!

At the beginning there were bugs and glitches, and even now, due to the release in other countries, there are still bugs and loading errors. It will take awhile before the game will continue to run smoothly as Niantic works on expanding their servers and the game continues to be released around the world.

What I love about this game is that it gets people to go outside! It encourages exercise by making you walk so you can hatch your eggs and find Pokemon to catch. It also encourages people to get out there and meet other people, usually looking for new friends who are on the same team as you so you can take down gyms together.

There are three teams in Pokemon GO and you can decide which on to join at level 5. They are Team Instinct, Team Mystic, and Team Valor. Also known as Team Yellow, Team Blue, and Team Red. There is no known difference between teams that the moment. They appear to just be used to create competition for gyms.
My favorite Pokemon and
the only one I caught so far!

Pokemon vary by area so if you can find a local Facebook group for your state, it's great because people will tell you where you can find certain Pokemon. Otherwise you will have to hope for one that isn't local to hatch out of one of your eggs. You will need multiples of the same Pokemon as well in order to get candies to evolve it.

The game does lack a good how to play guide, but you can catch on pretty quick. Otherwise there are tons of articles and YouTube videos on the internet already with tips and tricks. This is really the only downside to the game. It would be great if there was a way to fast forward the evolution screen as well, but maybe in the future!

Here is some basic game play. You basically load up the game and walk around till a Pokemon appears. You tap on the Pokemon and a new screen loads with a poke' ball you can throw at it. There will be two circles around the Pokemon, a white one that stays the same and a colored one that grows and shrinks. The colored circle indicates how hard a Pokemon is to catch, green for easy, yellow for moderate, and red for hard. You want to hit within the colored circle to increase your chances of catching it, but if you hit within the white circle, you still have a chance as well. You will either catch the Pokemon, the Pokemon will jump out and you can try again, or the Pokemon will jump out and flee. You can increase your chances of catching Pokemon by feeding them berries before throwing your poke' ball as well.

Besides catching Pokemon, you will want to find Poke Stops (usually special landmarks or buildings, like park signs or churches) in order to get more poke balls, potions, raspberries, eggs, etc. This is the free way to increase your supply without spending money on the game. Once you reach level 5, the option of battling gyms becomes available and those are also spread out at as well.

The game is recommended for ages 10 and up, but I feel this is more of a teenager/adult game. For one, you need an apple or android phone in order to play, and two, you need to be able to travel on your own (Okay, so you can just catch Pokemon in your neighborhood, but it kind of defeats the point of collecting them all and battling gyms). The game was also geared more towards the generation that grew up with Pokemon, so the people you do see playing are mostly adults with a few teens here and there. Occasionally I see a child playing here and there, usually on a parent's phone.

Lately I have seen a lot of bad stuff in the news around Pokemon GO causing car accidents and people falling off cliffs. I hate that the game gets blamed for these stupid accidents because before the game loads there is a warning screen about paying attention to your surroundings. Even so, it is not the game's the fault, but the person who is playing the game. DO NOT PLAY POKEMON GO WHILE DRIVING! Or while doing any other action that requires your full attention, and make sure to look up from your phone when walking too, to avoid running into people and cars! Use common sense people!

Overall we love the game (when it runs smoothly) and are addicted! It has encouraged us to get out of the house and go see new places!

July 15, 2016

My Favorite Money Saving Apps

Disclosure:  Affiliate links are used in this post.  Any purchase you make using these links supports this site.


Ibotta - This is a great coupon app. You claim coupons on the app (listed by store), this can vary from taking a simple poll to watching a video. Then you go shopping at the store and buy those items. Next you'll be asked to verify the items, unless it's produce, by scanning the bar codes on them to match the coupon, once you verify all your items, you then upload your receipt to the app. You'll get a verification that your receipt has been approved within 24 hours. The only drawback is you have to have a $20 minimum balance in order to withdraw, but instead of gift cards, you also have the option of Paypal, which I love! Plus you can often find paper coupons that match the items in Ibotta and you end up getting double the savings! Ibotta is also expanding into retail stores like H&M where if you spend for exampled $30, they'll give you $5 back. You can download the app here!

Checkout 51 - This app is a lot like Ibotta, but you don't have to verify the items you bought by scanning them and it works with any store, except for the coupons that are specifically marked for certain stores. You basically just upload your receipt and check which items were on it and they will verify it within 24 hours. Like Ibotta, you have to reach the $20 threshold before you can redeem your savings. They will mail you a check, unfortunately, there is no other option, so you will have to make a trip to the bank, but it's worth it in my opinion. Get this app here!

Target Cartwheel - I do almost all my shopping at Target, so this app is my best friend. Offers usually range from 5% to 50% off and they are now even adding some dollar amount coupons. There are limits on how many items you can save on though, usually up to 4, but sometimes they will let you go up to 20 (usually on clothing or clearance items). You can also use cartwheel with paper coupons, so it's another way to double up on savings. Plus if you have the Target Red Card, that's even more savings! I also always try to get the item when its on sale as well, so I save even more. It requires good planning though if you want to save that much. Download the app here!

Shopkick - This is a really simple app to have on your phone and load every time you go to the mall. You get "kicks" (points) for just walking into stores and also for scanning select items in stores. When you reach 500 kicks you can redeem a $2 gift card to a store of your choice or you can choose to save up to redeem a bigger amount (I shop at Target all the time so I usually just claim the $2 Target gift card every time and they just scan your phone in Target and it works every time!). Get the app here!

RetailMeNot - I was a little hesitant to add this to my list, but since I do use it, I feel obligated to share it. The reason why I hesitate is because I work retail and I see so many people bring this app up to me and say "I have a 30% coupon" and then when they hand it to me the code doesn't work because it is online only or expired. This app does not guarantee you will save anything on your shopping trip because coupons are added by complete strangers. Also always read the entirety of the coupon before trying to redeem it. Often it will say online only and give the date ranges, so you don't waste your time.

Besides all that, this is a great app, but I always use it just if I happen to be in the store to check and see if there are any coupons. I don't plan my trips around this app. I personally haven't had any issues using the coupons I found, but that's probably because I always read them before bringing them to checkout. However, if one doesn't end up working one of these days, I'll totally understand. You can check out RetailMeNot here.

July 8, 2016

What Happens at the Nuchal Translucency Screening?

You will probably get sick of me saying this at the beginning of every post I make, but I just want you to be aware that every doctor is different and so every appointment might vary from what I experience. These posts just give you an idea of what might happen.

The Nuchal Translucency Screening (NT screening) is an optional ultrasound and blood test that has to be done between 11 and 14 weeks (some cut it off as early as 13 weeks). The purpose of this test is to check for chromosomal abnormalities, though a lot choose to do it just to get the ultrasound. We also chose to do this test mainly for the ultrasound, but also because if something was obviously wrong, we would like to know ahead of time.

I had my NT screening at 12 weeks and 3 days. The first thing that happens is you are taken into a room to talk with a genetic counselor, this lasts for about 30 minutes.

The counselor started by explaining what the test does and how they can tell if there might be a chromosomal abnormality this early on. For example, a sign for down syndrome might be a flat nose, but she even said this could just be because the baby has a smaller nose and doesn't necessarily mean baby will have down syndrome (It was obvious in the ultrasound that our baby has a pointed nose, so we were pretty relieved to see that!).

Then she moved onto our family history, looking for things that could be passed down. Luckily none of us knew anyone in our families with birth defects or chromosomal abnormalities. Other things they look for is cancer or heart attacks at a young age in your family (under age 50), and if cystic fibrosis is present in either family. This lets them know if they should be looking for anything specific during the test. So it's a good idea to ask your parents if they know anything about their family's health history before going to this appointment.

For cystic fibrosis, the only way to test is by doing an amniocentesis, which we were not interested in. Cystic fibrosis isn't present in our family at all and we asked her the risks, it was like like a 1 in 25 chance for European decent. I'm half Chinese, and she said it's less for Asian decent, but she didn't know the number off hand, but guessed 1 in 50 chance. The only way for cystic fibrosis to happen though would be if both parents were carriers of the disease. Basically we felt our chances were low and amniocentesis comes with the risk of miscarriage, so we didn't feel it was worth looking into.

After the talk, we finally  moved into the ultrasound room! This was the part we were really excited about. Our room was really nice, there was a TV mounted on the wall so we could watch the ultrasound! The ultrasound tech had me lie down on your classic hospital bed and tuck a towel in my pants, around my bikini line to prevent my pants from getting the gel on them. I just had to lift my shirt up a bit and we were ready to go.

For the ultrasound, they gave us a 45 minute window, but we were done in about 33 minutes. We were worried we would have to come back again since the tech was having a hard time getting baby to lie on its back. Baby just kept moving around. Halfway through she had me get up so I could use the bathroom (I had a really full bladder, so I was relieved!). My husband asked if baby was measuring on track while I was in the bathroom, and it was so we will be keeping our due date for now.

One of our sonograms!
We then tried again, but baby was now napping, luckily they have short sleep/wake cycles! After moving from side to side a few times and some fake coughing, we finally got baby to lie on its back so she could get good pictures for proper measurements! She was also able to get the heart rate since baby finally decided to lie still, 171, which she said is normal.

After the ultrasound I regret not making my husband video the ultrasound because I just want to watch our baby all over again, so I plan to make him do it at the next one! We did get some photos (sonograms) afterwards to keep though. I can't stop staring at them!

We were then sent to the lab, along with some paperwork, for the blood draw. Basically you get your blood drawn as usual and they use it to fill in some dots on the paperwork, which will later be tested. I think this can be done differently since the genetic counselor said they might just prick my finger a few times, but when we went there, they actually drew some of my blood from my arm like they did for the pregnancy blood test, and then used a dropper to fill in the dots.

The appointment was then over and a few days later I got a call with my results. Our chances for down syndrome is 1 in 2,501, and for trisomy 13 and trisomy 18 they were 1 in 10,000. Basically very low, which is good to hear, so we won't be doing any of the more invasive and expensive tests.