Sunday, January 9, 2011

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner! Toaster Strudel Breakfast?

Greetings to my Aspierations Guests and Regulars!

I have yet another confession to make.  This one isn't as filthy as my dirty little secret blog I wrote a few days ago.  If you haven't checked that out, feel free to do so once you're done with this one!

Well, here goes!  I enjoy entering sweepstakes and contests. I have ever since I was a kid. There is something about the thrill of winning something or even the chance to win an amazing prize that appeals to me.  Apparently it appeals to millions of others as well because there are literally thousands and thousands of sweepstakes promotions each year in the United States.



Sweepstaking is a hobby I've participated in off and on for a number of years.  I get into it for awhile, then out of it for awhile, then back in again.  Before sweepstakes online became prevalent, I would do mail-in entries in my spare time. Back when we lived in California, I enjoyed entering for my husband, my parents, my kids and yes, myself too.  On average, I don't spend too much time with this hobby but over the years, there have been some nice pay-outs.

For example, when I was pregnant with Justin, John won a trip for 2 to see Grant Hill (basketball player) play courtside with the Detroit Pistons.  The game was during my second trimester so it was still safe to fly and John and I were treated to the opportunity to meet Grant, watch the game, get autographed merchandise including a baby jersey and a pair of his game shoes.  Grant was a sweetheart and so was our sweepstakes host.

Sitting courtside literally right behind the basket was AMAZING!  You really get a feel for just how BIG those guys are!  I'm 5'10" and even at 5 months preggers I felt petite!  (Okay, I felt like a beached whale but can't I pretend that I felt petite for once in my life?)  We also received a basketball shaped leather chair which is now in Ryan's room and a nice desk which Justin used for a number of years when we were in California.

Right before Ryan was born, we won a really nice changing table and a rocking bassinette.  Cool stuff.  For some reason, I liked entering a LOT of baby sweepstakes when I was pregnant.  Go figure.

For mail-ins, I get the kids involved coloring envelopes or putting on stickers.  Does it make a difference? Maybe sometimes... Does it keep them occupied and happy? Yes! Winner Winner!

Sweeping interested me as a hobby while I was away in college.  One of my first prizes while I was in school was a $200 check for me and a $200 check for a friend through Avon.  Later on when I was married to John, we participated in an instant win phone game where we each ended up winning $199.

Over the years I have won a lot of shirts, clothing items, video games, CDs, movies, beauty products, food stuff, cash, gift certificates, free product coupons and a wide variety of knick knacks and fun things like a GRREAT tiger tent, a Poop Moose that pooped out M & Ms or milk duds from his rear (so funny) and a bunch of Lifesavers rafts.



I've had some bigger wins too and of COURSE cash is always fun and appreciated. I always get a kick out of winning stuff for other people. My parents have had some interesting and fun things show up at their house over the years.  I think one of my Mom's favorites was a dozen CDs and a huge bouquet of flowers.  My dad liked the golf magazine subscription and golf balls.

Wins I can't use personally I donate or give away as gifts.  Generally, I only enter for prizes I'm interested in or know someone who would be, however many sweepstakes have multiple tiers of prizes so some interesting gizmos do end up coming my way.  I do my best to also support the sponsors and send thank you notes when I win.  I have learned about a lot of great new products through sweeping and appreciate the sponsors' generosity.

I haven't sweeped much in Washington.  Didn't really feel like it. Too busy with the family and work but on a whim right near Christmas time after we had done our rush of shipping and I had a little spare time, I got the bug again to enter for a few prizes and see I could improve the quality of life for my family while not taking away from other life priorities.  I told myself I'd primarily enter online and always keep my eye out on prizes that might be helpful for our children.

One very special prize I recently won was a Howda Hug Sensory chair for Ryan from www.SPDconnect.com, the first online directory for sensory resources recommended by sensory families. Nice!  You can learn about Howda Hug at www.howdahug.com.  They make special chairs for children and adults with autism spectrum disorders, sensory processing disorders and attention deficit disorders.

Legitimate sweepstakes are free to enter and if you're a fast typist, you can actually enter quite a few sweepstakes in just 15 minutes a day.  I enter a lot of times when I'm multi-tasking. Contests take a little more time and some skill but as there are many less entrants, your chances are much better if you are skilled in the particular type of contest you're entering.

I joined a free site called SweepstakesToday.com which is run by Craig McDaniel aka Mr. Sweepy.  It's a really neat place where you can keep track of what you've entered and it's easy to use.  The Instant Win Games are fun for me because you get a chance at knowing right away if you've won something or not.  In just the past couple weeks in playing instant win games for a few minutes daily, I've won a month's supply of Toaster Strudels, two books, some fishing stuff, a $10 gift certificate for a book, a mini-backpack, a book donation, a donation of Box Tops to my son's school and I'm getting a surprise prize in the mail for our family from Metro Parent for being one of the first 10 to respond to their newsletter.  I also have my name in the pot for 100s of sweepstakes that will be closing soon or closed recently. Someone has to win and you can't win if you don't play.

I consider sweeping a frivolous sanity break for me.  When I lived in California, I'd play a bit of online poker but unfortunately that is not allowed in Washington state so sweepstaking is my gambling substitute.  In either case I always came out ahead so it's one of those hobbies that pays for itself.  Not many do!

Speaking of sanity break, I DID get some time last night to read my personal book.  Not as much time as I had hoped for but I have already been introduced to Lisbeth Salander and I can already tell she and I are going to have a bond, sort of like my bond with Abby on NCIS or Penelope on Criminal Minds.  Fun!  I am looking forward to reading more tonight.

Back to sweepstaking, I think most people enter sweepstakes or contests at one point or another.  I realize that there is a huge amount of luck with this hobby but strategy, math and statistics come into play too.

For me, winning is fun and a cheery little boost to my day.  Of course there are some big prizes out there that could really make a huge life's difference but I look at it as if it happens, it was meant to be and if not, it was fun entering. There are so many promotions out there, I never let myself get too hung up on any one although it's fun to daydream a bit about some of the prizes. (Have you seen HGTV's house giveaway this year????)  One of these days, I'd love to win an all-expenses-paid family vacation to somewhere the kids would have fun and John and I could relax... somewhere like The Atlantis in the Bahamas.  If they ever want to win favor with a devoted blogger, I'm here!  Dreaming....




Anyone else out there a sweepstaking enthusiast?  If so, feel free to share!  If not, that's cool.  You're already winners in my book just for stopping by the Aspierations blog!

Best wishes for a winning week ahead!
Karen

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