Sunday, December 23, 2007

Snacky snack on some Cheerios


We're always on the lookout for a light, yummy, crunchy snack. So when offered a chance to try Cheerios Snack mix, I was happy to oblige. In a nutshell? The Cheerios Snack mix didn't disappoint.

The mix includes those good ole' Cheerios, plus pretzels, crackers, pieces of Chex cereal and some seasoning. Plus? Eight grams of whole grain per serving.

The mix lasted less than 48 hours at our house. (And each package contains about 7 servings.) Being our household consists of two adults and one very picky five-year-old, I'd say the snack mix was a definite winner.

The snack mix is now available nationwide. Suggested retail price is $2.59.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Frantic? Mary Jo has got you covered!


Mary Jo Rulnick? I am simply amazed. This book? The Frantic Woman's Guide to Feeding Family and Friends? Wow.

But I guess I should elaborate, yes? The Frantic Woman's Guide to Feeding Family and Friends is chock full of recipes, tips, tricks and lists. In short? If you're someone who loves with food, (like me!) this is a great book for you.

But it is not just about food. She's even got quick tips on making clean up easier and more efficient as well as party preparation ideas, yummy cocktail recipes and even fun activities for family nights.

Whether you are looking for a light, tasty dish for a summer meal or a some hearty, "comfort foods" for winter -- Mary Jo's got ideas. Plenty of ideas. That's why I kept saying "Wow" as I was reading this book. There's alot of great information and ideas crammed inside these pages! (In my brain, she is now dubbed "The idea lady until the end of time!")

You can find The Frantic Woman's Guide to Feeding Family and Friends on Amazon for about $10. How about if I save you a step, click HERE to order.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A fun start with JumpStart

If you've got a child who's constantly clamoring to play on your computer? Knowledge Adventure has a product that your child is going to love. But caution: Your child may love this game so much you'll have to fight them for computer time!

JumpStart World is an interactive computer game that challenges your child to strengthen his or her reading, mathematical and critical thinking skills -- without him even knowing it! Sneaky, huh? But cool!

Since "the boy" is in Kindergarten, we were given the Kindergarten level software. The games are wildly creative and fun to play. Where else can you help a monkey wearing a pointed hat bounce up and down on a trampoline to pop balloons. (This game, by the way, incited ALOT of giggles from my son. It was definitely his favorite game.)

You can even customize the game with your child's artwork and photos. And now that Christmas is here? The main screen reflects that. When Seth plays now? His chosen character trudges through a holiday wonderland (complete with snow and sound effects of someone walking through snow!) in order to talk to various characters.

Since children must master a specific skill before completing all missions, the level of difficulty gradually increases. This is a good thing for us as my son's mantra, when it comes to all things academic is, "But I don't LIKE to do stuff that's hard."

Upon introduction, Seth quickly got "sucked" into the missions. The early tasks were great for building his confidence and cultivating his interest. There's been so many missions to accomplish that we're still trying to get through all of the games to college jewels and badges.

And this may sound crazy, but... I'm starting to see a change in him. Normally, if he's unsure of the answer, my little guy will "play it safe" when asked a math or reading question. Instead of trying to figure out the answer, he'll just say, "I don't know." But now I've noticed he's sounding out words! He feels confident enough to take a chance when it comes to solving his math and reader questions. That's a HUGE step for him.

But kids aren't the only ones getting something out of this program. Parents can also get great ideas from JumpStart's experts on how to turn daily events into learning activities and as well as how to reinforce the lessons your child is currently learning. Plus? Progress reports are e-mailed to you keeping you in the loop. The software retails at $19.95.

All in all, if I had to compose a list of the top 3 products I didn't know I needed, until becoming a reviewer for Parent Bloggers Network? The JumpStart World Kindergarten program would be on that list.

This review was written on behalf of Parent Bloggers Network. For reviews on this product as well as a plethora of others, click here!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Daring is divine!

Even as little as 35-years ago, a "good girl" was expected to be a docile little creature. Girls were expected to be amiable -- full of manners but empty on opinions. Little girls were expected to only like dolls and tea parties while letting the boys have all of the grubby fun.

And really? Why should the boys get to have all of the fun? Thanks to Andrea Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz, girls today have their OWN book of ideas and adventures to explore called The Daring Book for Girls.


The Daring Book for Girls is an enchanting read packed to the brim with all sorts of history, adventure ideas, and how-to's. Do you know your spy lingo? Do you know how to make a stink bomb or a lemon-powered clock? How much do you know about women pirates? Well, crack open this book.

The ladies even have a few pages devoted to finance, The Periodic Table of the Elements, how to change a tire, and math tricks.

While reading through the book, I kept thinking about my childhood -- we lived in a rural area where there weren't many kids around and there wasn't much to do. (No cable or gaming system either!) I was what could be considered a "girly tomboy" (the girl climbing the tree and digging in the dirt while wearing pink nail polish and a purple skirt). If this book would have been created long ago, I'm sure I would have fallen in love with it during a summer library visit.

Although there are some "girly" how-to's like "how to put your hair up with a pencil" and "how to make friendship bracelets", the authors recognize that no matter how "girly" the girl is, most do enjoy some activities that have been traditionally tagged as "boy stuff."

Whether you celebrate your girly-ness or let your inner "tom boy" loose, The Daring Book for Girls is bound to keep readers (young or old) busy and enthralled for quite some time.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Spark turns the ordinary into the extraordinary for kids

Up until a few weeks ago, the only type of science my son found remotely interesting was science fiction. (He's a rabid Star Wars fan.)

But all that changed once the boy got his very own Spark Talking Microscope.

The Spark™ mission is to offer captivating science products that inspire kids to explore and make discoveries for themselves. The microscope comes equipped with an array of slides for children to examine -- like fleas, mosquitoes, houseflies, and even spiders. For any kid who's fascinated by bugs? Getting to see them magnified by five times is an irresistible proposition.

The microscope also talks to the child supplying interesting facts and even, at times, some funny sound effects.

There's also cards illustrating how to use the microscope. But honestly? The microscope is so easy to work, the kiddos probably won't need them. Seth was examining slides within minutes. If you are interested in seeing how easy this toy is to operate, click here to watch a quick YouTube video.

And since Spark designs this toy with parent participation in mind, it also includes a full-color parent's "Lab Assistant" guide so your child can get a thrill out of being the "lead researcher."

And while the lens view is very clear, I wish the magnification was a stronger. What I would really have liked is for the magnification to have been powerful enough that you could see the tiny hairs on a fly or slides of bigger germs. Perhaps, if he could see that germs actually exist, he'd take more time to wash his hands?

But all in all, this durable microscope, which sells for $29.95, has earned Seth's seal of approval.

This review was written on behalf of the Parent Bloggers Network. For more reviews on this product and many others, click HERE.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

On the go? Day Runner to the rescue!

"The hurried-er I go, the behind-er I get."

Yup. That would describe our family. We're not exactly what you'd call proactive people. We're more along the lines of "Whu? You needed that yesterday. D'oh!"

For the most point it all boils down to organization. Or ahem, LACK of organization.

So when Parent Bloggers Network was offering bloggers a chance to review the Day Runner Family Matters organizational system, I was all "Ohh! Ohhh! Pick me." I might have even offered to name any future children after both Kristen and Julie. Oh, wait. I FORGOT to send them that e-mail. They must have picked up on my desperate vibes, then.

What did I think? Well... the erasable calender, which is now on the planning desk in the kitchen, is a great concept. The designated day spaces are big so you could fit alot of necessary info on each block. But I wish the erasable marker that accompanied the package had a finer point as you can't really write very tiny if you want your writing to be legible. But I would assume that I could find a finer point marker somewhere, yes?

The wirebound monthly/weekly appointment book looks super cool. Being that the one I have is for 2008, I've yet to use it. And frankly, right now, I don't think I would use it. But 2008 is the year I will most likely be looking for gainful employment. This could, no doubt, come in very handy when I need to juggle a work schedule with Seth's education and my hubby's job, which happens to involve ALOT of travel.

The erasable door reminders haven't been something we've used for an organizational purpose. Honestly, when I post a reminder, I tape it to a door and make sure its eye level. I'd never remember to look down at the door handle. But now that my son is starting to read, I actually use one to write a little note to him each morning. (Like, "Mom loves Seth. Go, Seth go!") He gets quite a kick out of erasing the note and leaving one for me.

I do wish though at least one of the erasable door reminders had a magnetic strip on the back. Because then one could position it on the side of the fridge. The hubby gets a bit irritated when he's trying to take a phone message and can't find paper and a pen, so one of the reminders is now sitting next to the phone at the planning desk as well.

The activity folders and storage cases, I confess, haven't been used for their intended purpose either. I do have one storage case downstairs to catch stray school papers and newsletters. But the rest now reside in the office. As a result? Bills aren't getting lost under mounds of kindergarten art work, charity solicitations, insurance paperwork and other stuff. This is GOOD! Very, very good. When you can FIND stuff, its far easier to be a proactive person.

All in all, for now our lives are simple enough that we don't require a color coding organizational system. But in a few years, I'm sure we will. And I'll now exactly where to go for what I need.

This review was written on behalf of the Parent Bloggers Network. For more reviews on this product and many others, click HERE.

Friday, November 2, 2007

No Glove, No Love

I know what that title says and get your mind out of the gutter! What I'm talking about is a lotion called Gloves in a Bottle.

And to cut to the chase? What I'm trying to say is that if you've got dry hands and no Gloves in a Bottle? You won't be loving the way your hands look or feel.

Gloves in a Bottle is a shielding lotion that quickly absorbs into the skin. The lotion then forms a protective barrier that holds moisture in so that skin is able to heal itself naturally. The lotion does eventually come off but only through the natural exfoliation process.

When I had first heard of the concept I assumed the lotion would be thick and greasy. I was hesitant to try it. But the lotion isn't thick nor does it leave hands feeling sticky or slimey. Once the milky product is absorbed, you can't even tell that you've just put on a lotion. Your only "proof" is that hands feel immediately softer.

But the product, which is fragrance-free and hypoallergenic, isn't just for hands. Elbows, knees, feet and any dry, scaly patches quickly benefit from continued use. (For a list of product ingredients click here.)

I've made a practice of using the shielding lotion each night before bed. Alittle bit of product goes a long way. And I'm hopeful that my "supply" will get me half way through winter, aka dry, itchy skin season.

For a complete price list click here.

And if you don't believe me? Well, there are quite a few other bloggers who've reviewed this product... Get their opinions here.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Be prepared -- the Sequoia Survival way!

It was a dark and snowy night. I was living in St. Louis and trekking to the home of the parental units who live two miles outside of a tiny southern Illinois town. As I got off of the highway, a mile from their home, I noticed the snow removal trucks hadn’t touched the roads in this area. It had snowed so hard it was impossible to tell the road from the ditches that lined both sides. Visibility was horrid. I ended up getting stuck.

I had to walk a little more than a quarter mile to my parents house. It was slow going – especially in the midst of a blizzard while wearing heels and an Ally McBeal type suit. (Hey, I was 23. Need I say more?)

As I slipped, shivered, and cursed in the darkness, I vowed to keep extra socks, sneakers and a blanket in the trunk during future winter months. Looking back, I know that these three things? Don’t exactly spell “Prepared for Inclement Weather”. But that’s only because I didn’t know about the vehicle survival kit from Sequoia Survival Company.

Thanks to Sequoia Survival Company, you don’t have to think like a boy scout — as the company has come out with a really amazing product that will help you and your loved ones stay warm, dry, fed and even entertained!

The vehicle survival kit I received was stuffed to the brim with all sorts of essentials. Included are ready-to-eat meals, packaged water, first aid products from 3M, thermal emergency blankets, rain ponchos, light sticks, leather work gloves, rope, toilet paper, notebook/pen and even a deck of playing cards. (For a full list of items click found in the vehicle survival kit, click here.)

At first when I thought about the idea of a survival kit I wondered, “how difficult can it be to create your own? Could I do it as well as these guys? And for less money?” When I started looking through the package I realized that this is definitely the way to go for someone like me. I would have just thrown some candy bars and a few bottles of water into a duffel bag and sat it on top of an old comforter. But the founders of this company did their homework and employed the guidelines provided by their local fire department, FEMA and the Red Cross. I wouldn’t have thought to include stuff like cleansing wipes, duct tape or handwarmers. And as for thermal emergency blankets? I had no idea they existed. The carefully chosen products in the kit seem to be of good quality. Plus? Survival packages can be customized to meet your needs.

My parents not only live in a rural area but they also have a little hideaway nestled deep within a wooded area in another county that is far more secluded. (There are no telephone lines, running water, nor electricity. The roads are also extremely narrow and poorly maintained.) Frankly? I worry about them being out at their cabin during nasty winter weather. Methinks a vehicle survival kit maybe exactly what they need this Christmas.

This review was written on behalf of the Parent Bloggers Network. For more reviews on this product and many others, click HERE.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Name your tune

Christmas is quickly approaching. And if you've got children in your life who seem to have every toy under the sun, (and you have NO idea what to get them) you might want to visit a website called Name Your Tune .

Founded by Candace and Eric Alper, and based in Toronto, the company offers CD's made up of popular children's music. The super cool part? The songs are personalize for the child receiving the music. Children will hear their name more than 80 times throughout 14 much-loved songs. And if you have more than one child's name you'd like to include? The company is happy to create your CD accordingly.

The music is lively and fun. The founders have done a great job of choosing songs. (Ditties like, "If You're Happy And You Know It", "Wheels on the Bus", and "I Don't Want to Live on the Moon", and "ABC Medley.") And the singers' do a great job of clearly and cheerfully incorporating the designated name into the songs.

Although my 5-year-old is no longer interested in hearing "The Wheels on the Bus", he found the CD amusing. He laughed hysterically when he heard mom's name added into each song. (I found it pretty amusing too.)

Although my two nephews are a bit too old for this gift idea, I have a niece who would get quite a kick out of this. So as Christmas draws nearer, I'll be visiting Name Your Tune.

Name Your Tune CD's are $20 each, or $18 each when you purchase 2 or more at the same time. And buyers may add a personal message on the CD label making the gift a more special and a treasured keepsake.

A portion from the sale of each CD will be donated to Hear Here, the Toronto-based non-profit organization that provides hearing aids for children.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Express yourself

I signed up for Vocal Point a few weeks ago. I have heard great things from others and was eager to join.

So far, I've gotten some great recipes as well as coupons and even had a chance to take a survey and get paid $100 for my time. Seriously. I could have made $100 just for answering questions. The only caveat was that I had other obligations so there was no way I could meet up with the survey crew at the time they were wanting. But still. That kind of money? Could have bought some super cute shoes or clothes or groceries or Christmas gifts.

But the site has all kinds of ways to get coupons and free samples. Its very easy to sign up too.

Interested? Check it out.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

To boldly go (where no yogurt has gone before)


If your kiddos love yogurt like my little guy does, you might want to give Fizzix a try.

Fizzix, made by Yoplait, has a bit of carbonation added to the yogurt, hence the "fizz" in Fizzix. We were sent Blue Raspberry Rage and Strawberry Watermelon Rush. According to the website, the product also comes in Wild Cherry Zing/ Strawberry Lemonade Jolt Triple Berry Fusion/ Fruit Punch Charge.

Seth LOVED the taste and the fizz. He was clamoring for a second halfway through eating his first! Needless to say, the product didn't last long at our house.

I gave some Fizzix to a few of the moms in my hood. Here's what they thought:

"The kids (ages 5 and 2) both really liked the Fizzix," said Jess. "I tried them, and I did not care for the fizz as much as the kids did."

According to Jess, the tube (Yoplaits Go-GURT is packaged the same way) was the biggest downside. "They seemed to be SO much messier (for the two-year-old) than a regular container of yogurt. "

Sarah and her son Jacob weren't big fans. "(He) thought they were ok but would not want to get them again. I tried it and did not like it."

But as a kid, Jacob did appreciate the appeal of the fizz.

"Jacob thought the fizz was cool," said Sarah. "But said there was a funny aftertaste that he didn't like."

Traci's son Luke tried them at our house during a playdate. He was an immediate fan so I sent some product home with him.

"Luke loved it so I would certainly consider buying it. He took one to school in his lunch box every day until they were gone," said Traci.

To take a gander at the nutritional value of the product go here.

Plus, there's even a cool website just for kids. (They'll get a kick out of the burp organ. Trust me.)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Fashion Forward -- The Little Black Book of Style

Many years ago, when the hubby and I were "Dinkys", we traveled to places like Rome and Paris, Milan and Versailles. The cities were amazing, the food exquisite. But I was completely entranced with the Italian and French women. They take their fashion SERIOUSLY over there. And it never occurred to me before then that maybe my belt should match my shoes. Or that one's purse and coat play as big a part in creating a certain "look" as the rest of the attire.

I came back from those trips smarter and inspired. And it showed in my wardrobe. But then I got pregnant and decided to become a stay-at-home mom. I traded my Ann Taylor suits for Target track pants and Donna Karan blouses for cheap t-shirts.
I've stayed with this super casual uniform for years. But then came the literary kick in the butt from Nina Garcia in the form of "The Little Black Book of Style."

Nina grew up with a fashion-obsessed, sophisticated mother who knew herself and her style well. Nina is also a fashion director for Elle Magazine and is a fashion judge on Project Runway. In short? She knows her stuff.

What I liked:

The book is a quick read. Nina addresses fashion issues in a breezy and humorous way. The overall voice in the book is fun and friendly. Think fashion talk over lunch with your most fabulous girlfriend.

Her overall message? One doesn't have to spend a fortune in order to create a great look. Buy classic, quality clothing that you can use for years. Then splurge on the occasional "love at first sight, I HAVE to buy this because its so amazing" items. Also, use accessories to create drama. And don't forget to buy good quality, pretty, pretty shoes too! ( She even goes into "toe cleavage". This resulted in me buying a super sexy pair of red heels which the hubby LOVES.)

The biggest helpers for me? The chapter on "How to dress when there is a dress code area". (details what sort of attire is expected in various social settings) and how to "edit" your wardrobe.

There are darling illustrations by Ruben Toledo interspersed within the pages as well as inspirational quotes from style icons and designers. But I did find myself wishing she'd give us some examples of what looks fabulous and what doesn't. I dress fairly conservatively and have a difficult time (when it comes to myself) differentiating a "Wow" from "Over the top" look.

Overall, the book is a fun read. And I've got several friends who can't wait for me to finish this review so they too can learn from the formidable Nina.

This review was written on behalf of Parent Bloggers Network. Check out their site for a list of other reviews.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Zula Patrol is on a mission

Upon unveiling The Zula Patrol DVD, Seth's face lit up. He didn't know that The Zula Patrol , is a cartoon broadcasted on PBS that chronicles the adventures of several silly cartoon characters while educating kids along the way. But he didn't have to. To pique his interest, all Seth had to hear was that this was a kids' show about outer space.

At the age of five, Seth is interested in all things science -- especially outer space. He quickly became interested in the energetic characters and storylines. He loved the zany voices too.

A few days after watching the show, Seth had three kids over (at one time! Gah!) The foursome couldn't agree on an activity so I told them they could watch a bit of a movie. They couldn't agree on what movie to watch until Seth suggested The Zula Patrol and started spouting different facts he'd picked up while watching the episodes.

The kids were mesmerized and each one found the stories amusing. Now when any of the three children come over, they ask to watch that dvd.

Overall, I thought the plot lines were simple and moved at a nice clip. I liked how the information was presented in basic terms without sounding too simplistic. But I have to admit, I couldn't help but roll my eyes when it came to the volcano that was scared to erupt for fear of alienating others. But nonetheless my son was fascinated as to what was happening inside the volcano, underneath the earth's surface. And even days later, Seth was still asking alot of questions about the various layers below the earth. The show got him involved and really thinking -- to me that's the most important aspect.

There's also an amazing website chock full of cool stuff for the kiddos to do. So if your local PBS station isn't airing the show, (ours isn't) you can still introduce your child to the Zula group.

This review was written for Parent Bloggers Network.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Get vocal about your point

See that little button on sidebar for Vocalpoint?

Vocalpoint is a new website where you can get FREE samples as well as coupons for various products. You can also go to the site to pick up all sorts of cool tips, share stories and weigh in on a myriad of topics. And did I mention if you sign up you can get FREE samples on all kinds of cool stuff you use everyday? How awesome is THAT!?!

Click on the Vocalpoint button on the sidebar and take a gander… Or sign up here!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

If the shoe fits... With Ryka, it does!

Abbey-dog is my favorite walking/running companion. We’ve logged many a mile together over the years over all sorts of Illinois/Missouri terrain. But I have to admit that I’m not as consistent as Abbeydog would like me to be. There are those times when life gets busy. And then there are those times where you decided to go out for a 5-miler and come home with blisters on your feet — blisters that take about 5 days to heal. And that really cramps poor Abbeydog’s style. (Cause she be workin’ on her fitness, yo!) And its not fun for her two-legged fitness partner either!

So when the Ryka opportunity came up, Abbeydog wasn’t the only one doing happy waggily dances.

What I thought:

The shoes are super cute and super comfy. The design of the shoe (outside) is sporty but girlie. And I loved how snug my feet felt in them. I have a narrow heel and my heels slide around in most tennis/walking/running shoes. But not with these babies! I reveled in the fit. And the arch was just right — no knee or back issues while walking or running. And no blisters either.

But this sort of fit is what Ryka prides itself on. According to their website: “All RYKÄ shoes are made on a woman’s last (the mold or shape of a woman’s foot), and are designed and developed taking into account a women’s unique fit needs - narrower in the heel and wider in the forefoot (it’s not just you, our toes need more room and our heels slip too). Outstanding fit and exceptional comfort consistently place RYKÄ shoes among the highest rated in the industry.”

What Abbeydog thought:

Abbeydog didn’t really care about the design. She was just happy her two-legged fitness counterpart was happy and comfortable. Because even she knows that happy+comfy= MORE WALKIES! And she wants ya’ll to know that she lost two of those 10 pounds she put on last year due to all of the extra walkies. So thanks to Ryka, being an Abbeydog is an even better gig than before.

What other moms thought:

Since these shoes were comfy, I also ended up wearing them everywhere — like to my son’s soccer practice, trips to the grocers, and mall. I’ve never gotten more compliments on a shoe — let alone a sneaker. So I told them about the part where Ryka is giving away 50 shoes a day through the month of October. (A direct link can be found here.)

Interested in trying some on? Here’s a store locator.

This review was written on behalf of Parent Bloggers Network. Check out their site for a list of other reviews.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Child's play -- Kajeet makes cell phones simple

Man may claim the dog to be his best friend. But that man was never a kid with a Kajeet.

The Kajeet is a cellular phone manufactured for today's busy kids. Since the program is pay-as-you-go, parents and kids can manage the account together. The phones, which are being marketed to the preteen set, have text message and photo capability. When you see how sleek and sophisticated the phones look? Even late teens and adults will be drooling over the device!

I couldn’t understand exactly WHY Kajeet was being marketed to the ‘tween segment. I would love to use this phone – I’m in my mid 30’s. So I decided to conduct an experiment. What would a 14-year-old boy think of a Kajeet? I enlisted the help of super sitter/neighbor Daniel.

Daniel is a busy guy. He plays baseball and football. If he’s not at a game or in practice, he’s at school or hanging with friends. His parents were toying with the idea of giving him a phone so they could reach him when necessary. So we gave it a try.

What did Daniel think?

“I think the Kajeet is a good phone for teenager getting their first phone,” he said. “My favorite things about the Kajeets are the look of the phone’s outside and inside (as well as) the camera. It is also very easy to work.”

What did Patty (his mom) think?

“It’s a nice phone for teens. Easy to use so far,” she said. “Pay as you go is a good starter phone for kids. And its nice to be able to reach him when I want too – especially in an emergency. Also, he has access to 911 anytime and we’ve told him this. Its good for safety’s sake.

From the parents’ perspective there’s a lot to love. Talk time anytime, anywhere, is 10 cents a minute. Photo messages are 25 cents a piece and texting is 5 cents per text message (sent or received). There are no activation or cancellation fees. Plus? Parents can choose when the phone can and can't be used. Parents can also add minutes and monitor talk time online.

What did Daniel like the least?

“My least favorite thing about the Kajeet are the ringtones and the backgrounds,” he said. “Also, there are no free minutes.”

His mom agreed, “I wish there were some “free” minutes available maybe on weekends or at night. This would be a good incentive for kids to use the phone at certain times and not use up a lot of minutes."

All in all, Daniel is keeping the phone. And I’m so happy ‘cause Christmas shopping for our super sitter has gotten much easier. (Daniel is SO getting some Kajeet minutes from us this year! How easy is that!)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Protect and respect (your skin)

There’s this supa cool moisturizing lotion out on the market now. And its like none other. Have you heard of Skin MD? If not, listen up.

Skin MD is a shielding lotion. A "shielding lotion is a lotion that forms a protective barrier on the skin and keeps out irritants and chemicals. It also allows the natural oils and moisture to remain in the skin so it can heal better. It is a big advantage that shielding lotions are light and go on without a greasy mess, " says Dr. Brian Zogg, a dermatologist in Albert Lea, MN. featured on the Skin MD Natural's website.

"The artificial moisturizers in conventional creams and lotions can send a signal to the moisture producing parts of your skin that enough moisture is present. Your skin then makes less of the natural moisture needed to resolve a dry skin problem. With a shielding lotion you protect your own natural oils and moisture in the skin, so it heals faster," says Dr. Zogg

The product is milky white, feels very light, and is quickly absorbed by the skin. And the first time I put this stuff on my hands, I was amazed. My hands felt softer and smoother after just one use. It quickly replaced the bottle of lotion I use every night before bed.

But the product is not just for hands. It’s a great facial moisturizer – especially for those people with oily or normal skin (especially since there's no slimey residue left). And it is not just for hands and faces -- Skin MD can be applied to any skin part.

And if you have eczema or psoriasis? You may want to take note. As this may be an answer to your prayers.

The team at Skin MD Natural was kind enough to give me some extra product so I could "share the wealth." Here's what Carrie, a mom of four said... “We have used this lotion quite a bit. We’ve been to the pool a lot this summer. I found it is great for those light pink sunburns. I even packed it with us when we went on our summer vacation."

And for those people with sensitive skin, like my friend Kathy? Have no fears -- the product is very mild. Kathy said, "There are alot of products out there that I can't use. My skin gets very red, itchy and hot. When I found out about this product, I thought I'd only apply it to a small part of my face. Since I didn't have any problems, I applied it to another area. I ended up putting it all over my face. I was amazed. I didn't have any inflammation or stinging. In fact, my skin felt much, much better.

The 4 ounce bottles are $25. And alittle goes a long way -- as this little bottle can last up to two months. To order this product go here. To find out where Skin MD Natural is sold, click here.

Oh and another thing. Skin MD Natural is not testing on animals. Yeay!

Win FREE Kids' DVD's!

The folks at Disney were kind enough to send me some dvd’s recently. I could review or give them away. So I reviewed one and am giving away the other two!

Seth gave a rousing thumbs up to the “Mickey’s Treat”, a new dvd that’s part of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse series. The whole Mikey Mouse cartoon gang make an appearance throughout the three tales that focus on caring, sharing and working together toward a common goal. At the end of the dvd, there’s a special bonus story about the Little Enstein’s Halloween adventure. Plus? There’s a Spooky Clubhouse Cookbook and Creepy Clubhouse Character Stencils which were deemed “cool” by “the boy.

And honestly? Seth happily watched the whole dvd and enjoyed playing along. (So did my mother-in-law who’s staying with us for a few days.) It is a lively dvd (and I like how they “sneak in” some problem solving and counting). Oh and did I mention that it was just released yesterday? So its likely in the movie department of a favorite retail store near you!

The movies up for grabs are the ones pictured. (Princess Enchanted Tales and Little Einsteins Rocket’s Firebird Rescue.) All you have to do to enter for your chance to WIN a FREE DVD is to list your name in the comments and an e-mail address where I can reach you (if you don’t have a blog). Let me know which movie you want (or if you want both). The drawing will be held Friday night!

The Disney folks also sent a few links our way. So check them out!
Extended Clip: http://www.totaleclips.com/player/Splash.aspx?custid=502&clipid=e33756&playerid=2&affiliateid=-1
Trailer: http://www.totaleclips.com/player/Splash.aspx?custid=502&clipid=e33819&playerid=2&affiliateid=-1
Woods: http://www.totaleclips.com/player/Splash.aspx?custid=502&clipid=e33760&playerid=2&affiliateid=-1
Oh and don’t forget this link to some fun activities too! http://disney.go.com/disneyvideos/mickeymouseclubhouse/home.html

Monday, August 20, 2007

KINeSYS has you and your children "covered" this summer

A certain little boy at our house LOVES summer and everything that comes with it – hanging out at the pool, riding his bike, running through the sprinklers and riding his scooter. But he’s a very fair complexioned lad. And I don’t want him to end up like his mama in 25 years -- having a dermatologist say, “Its not an ‘if you get skin cancer’, due to your years of sun damage, its more like a ‘when’." Gah!

I despise applying lotions to my little wiggle worm. And while in Florida, I tried Coppertone's Kid's Spray. Thanks to Coppertone, he got a splotchy sunburn (his first ever sunburn). So when The Parent Bloggers Network was looking for people to review KINeSYS, I was all ovah dat.

KINeSYS is a leader in performance sunscreens. You want to run a marathon or spend most of your day in the sun? KINeSYS has you covered. (Bad pun intended.) And when parents asked for a sunscreen for kids, the company whipped up an orange-bottled somethin' they like to call FUNSCREEN™ that's targeted at children under 12 years of age.

In short? Me likey. My boy likey. And when Seth went to the pool with his best bud Josh, I sent the sample size along for Josh's mom to try. And they likey too!

The spray is super easy to apply to antsy children. There's no rubbing so you can "spray and go". And while it can feel a bit greasy going on, it dries fairly quickly. Once the product dries, there's no residue feeling. And for kids who are very sensitive to the feel of fabrics and lotion on their skin, (like Seth) this is a big deal.

The KINeSYS folks were kind enough to include a bottle of the performance sunscreen (which I loved. Mango smell. Yummy!) as well as a sunscreen stick. Both products were very effective and also easy to apply.

My only beef is that I wish I had found out about KINeSYS earlier. This would have been a wonderful product to take with us last year when we went to Mexico or even two months ago when we went to Florida and a few theme parks. But at least we've got it now. We've got some more pool parties to attend and a ski trip is planned for the winter. We plan on taking our little bottle of KINeSYS to all of these events.

To find a retailer that sells KINeSYS click here. Or to buy it online click here.

This review was written for The Parent Bloggers Network. If you have a product you'd like PBN to review, click on this link for more info.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Del Monte's PR company leaves a bad taste in my mouth

You know you need to eat your fruits and veggies right? Well, Del Monte's got a little something to help you snack healthy. And that little something is called Fruit Naturals.

What did I think of this product? I don't know. Del Monte's communications company sent me ONE measly fruit cup. (It looked like someone bought a fruit cup at a convenience store, shoved it in a box, and shipped it to me. The outside of the fruit cup was even sticky.) My son (who loves fruit cups in general) woofed it down before I could spear one chunk of peach.

When the PR company asked me if I got the sample, I told them that I didn't get to try the ONE sample because my son ate it. The person then mentioned that the PR company was out of samples and the campaign was wrapping up. Uh. Ok. This PR company has probably spent quite a bit of money wooing Del Monte. They can't spent another $2-4 in order to garner some positive publicity for their client? That tells me what they think of bloggers. And Del Monte.

So note to Del Monte... You may want to hire another communications company. This one made you look stingy. I doubt that's the image you were going for.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Moving on up

My main site, Midwestern Mommy has moved. I'm now at http://www.midwesternmommy.com/

Or just click: here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Note to companies that want me to review your product

Not to get all cranky and snotty here but...

These days I get alot of e-mails asking me to review products. I put alot of thought and energy into my reviews.

When sending out product samples don't skimp. Give me at least 5-7 servings/portions/usages. If not, I can't review your product properly. (And I will mention in the review that you were chinzy and I was unable to arrive at a firm conclusion.)

Same goes for sending me old product or damaged products. It will be mentioned.

If you are generous with samples, I can "share the wealth" and get other people's reactions as well.

Also, if you send me an e-mail about how you'd like me to write about your product but aren't willing to send me any samples? Dream on. I'm not going to buy a product I wouldn't normally buy and give you free publicity. Even if you give me a .50 cent coupon.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Thirst for Wateroos?

Summer is here. You've got some thirsty, active kids enjoying the sunshine. But you'd rather not give them juice or soda. What to do?

Que the Wateroos. Wateroos is purified water infused with some natural fruit flavors. (There's no sugar or artificial sweeteners.) Kids can choose from apple, berry, grape. And for kids who like their water straight, they have that "flavor" too.

My son was very excited to receive the package. He LOVES juice boxes. He clamored for me to open the product. But at first he was a bit underwhelmed. (He was expecting sugary juice.) A few days later I offered it to him and his two playdates. All three had luke warm reactions. (I thought they tasted really good. The flavors are subtle. So I've been drinking them.)

I think this is a great product for children under four who like to drink water. (My son and his friends are older. And all three are used to drinking juice, soda, water or Gatorade.) It is definitely a wonderful product to take with you on those hot trips to the zoo, t-ball games and water parks.

If you are interested in buying the product, here's a list of places that sell Wateroos.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Bloggers giving back

Albin was the father of 10. As a man who had spent his entire life farming the land, he also had a penchant for pranks, smokes, and playing his steel guitar. When I was nine, I saw my dad cry for the first time. His father, this tall, strong farmer, had lung cancer. I watched my grandpa fight. He admirably did so for a long time. But in the end, cancer won. Since then I've come to know more people who tangled with "the big C". Some have beat the beast, some are in the process of administering a beating and some fought until they could no longer.

A. is a mother to an active preschooler. She has a quick wit and -- whether through written or spoken word -- has an extraordinary gift for telling a story. Like an experienced gold miner, she can spot a piece of comic gold a mile away. And she can glean the bits of funny (that most people would miss) from the most ordinary situations. Two years ago, A. (a woman I've known since we were babies) was diagnosed with ALS.

It is so gut-wrenching to know the people you love are grappling with stubborn diseases like this. But thankfully there are organizations in the United States on a quest to cure these diseases. That's why Cancer Research Institute and The ALS Association, St. Louis Regional Chapter are charities almost as dear to my heart as these Albin and A.

Now there's a way for you to help charities or groups you admire. Ibakesale is a supercool way to shop hundreds of great merchants and earn cash back (a percentage of the purchase in most cases) which can be donated to the charities or groups of your choice.

How it works:

1.) Go to ibakesale.com and sign up (this is free.) This is where you also can choose from the expanding list of charities in which to donate a percentage of your purchase or add a new charity. This is also where you can decide what amount of that percentage you'd like to donate. (You can do 100% or 20% or whatever.)

2.) You shop a number of merchants like Lucky Brand Jeans, Sports Authority, even Macy's.3.) iBakeSale sends your group a check at the end of every month. (Once the funds have accumulated to $100.)

More info:

After you sign up, you can shop as well as choose from the list of charities of which to donate. (For example -- I chose to donate 50% of my proceeds to The ALS Association of St. Louis and 50% to Cancer Research Institute.) Or you can create a listing for an organization dear to your heart. Want to include several? You can do that and split the proceeds from your purchases. And if you change your mind? You can add or drop organizations too.

In order for your charity to get the profits, you must go through ibakesale and click on the desired merchant. After your purchase is made, you will be contacted through ibakesale. And once you accrue $100 you can decide how much of that money goes to charities or how much goes back into your wallet.

I'm not be in a research lab working on a cure. But donating to a worthy cause does help me feel I've helped in some small way. Like Mother Theresa once said, "In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love."

(If you are interested in joining but you don't have a favorite charity? You might be interested in a list of top rated charities.)
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For any questions about ibakesale you might want to
check here. If this doesn't answer your question drop them a line at info@ibakesale.com.
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This post was written for a
Parent Bloggers Network blog blast. If you'd like to contribute a post about your favorite charity, feel free to do so. Then contact PBN for your post to be linked.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Body, Soul and Baby (a PBN Review)

Years ago, a few days shy of my son’s due date, I found a strand of fine, reddish hair in my panties. For a moment I had a wild thought. Is it my baby’s? I should have called my doctor but I didn’t. I asked so many questions during my pregnancy only to be met with a “you’ve GOT to be the biggest moron I’ve EVER come into contact with” look from my doctor. After scouring my pregnancy volumes, I failed to find an answer.

Later the mystery was solved when a different doctor, who was supposed to break my water, informed me there already was a small tear. My suspicion had been correct.

Like most moms-to-be, I had read a lot of literature on pregnancy. I found that most books focus heavily on the bodily changes and not much else. I wondered if these writers viewed a pregnant woman as a real, live person or as a walking, baby-growing container. Body, Soul and Baby, written by Tracy W Gaudet and Paula Spencer, is quite different.

First off, Tracy and Paula? If you are reading this, I want to kiss you for creating Body, Soul and Baby. It is refreshing to read a book that addresses not only the physical changes but the journey our souls undertake through this transition into motherhood. And I really like that the kind doctor (who’s also a mom) shows readers how to tune into our bodies and how to nurture the changing needs of our spirits without sounding like some flakey, nutjob who's been slipping happy herbs into her granola.

Dr. Gaudet is an advocate of introspection, introducing readers to an exercise she calls “reflective inventory” in the second chapter. Soon after, she also presents tools like “body monitoring” and “feedback loop” to gain awareness in regards to your body, soul and baby.

Body, Soul and Baby starts at preconception and works forward. In the trimester chapters she not only discusses the basics like what to expect medically during these phases but also common fears/facts for this time. Throughout these chapters, she also delves into issues like how to choose the right doctor, how to make the best decision regarding careers/family, when/how to choose the pediatrician. One of my favorite sections was the “The Psychology of the Mind-Body Connection” (If I’m lucky enough to get pregnant again, I’ll probably memorize this part.)

The postpartum section was particularly valuable. The gentle doctor is correct – “Between the demands of a newborn and a system that does not offer the new mother the time and space she needs to feel whole again, the read from mom-to-be to mom can be bumpy.” (Page 440)

The more I read, the more I found myself wishing this book would have been written years ago. For women who are newly pregnant or are planning to become pregnant in the next year or two? Save yourself some time. The thickness of this tome might be intimidating, but don’t worry. The book is so dense with knowledge and sage advice, you won’t need to read any others. Plus? Unlike those other books? You’ll know to focus on your baby, body and spirit as well as HOW to do so.

This review was written for The Parent Bloggers Network. If you have a product you'd like PBN to review, click on this link for more info.

Monday, July 9, 2007

A pharmacist at your beck and call.. (PBN Review)

Hey you! Yeah, you there with the ibuprofen (or aspirin). Did you know that while the drug in your hot little hands may relieve your headache, its also robbing your body of folic acid? (And you know how much you need folic acid!)

The 24-hour Pharmacist, by Suzy Cohen is chocked full tips, tricks and human body know-how. And for those of you who like to steer clear of the pharmaceuticals in favor of a more natural approach? Don't discount Cohen's book just yet -- there's a plethora of pertinent information on vitamins, herbs and supplements.

Cohen wisely starts off The 24-Hour Pharmacist with a chapter in Overcoming Fatigue. (Stupor woman? That would be me.) In that first paragraph she tells us what we all know but don't like to hear -- the caffeinated drinks may give us a lift temporarily but the further exhaust us in the long run. But the last sentence in that paragraph has really stuck with me over the past few weeks. She said, "If you're tired, your body is telling you something -- so let's figure out what its saying."

Cohen spends a great deal of time discussing the types of foods to eat and those to avoid as well as WHY. She talks about "drug muggers" -- drugs that deplete our systems. She also gives us a the skinny on what herbs and supplements can bring our bodies back in sync.

Got a honey that snores? Or what about "surge protection" for hot flashes? And what's going on with your (or your honey's) sex drive? Cohen addresses these issue too. And she does so with a friendly, gentle writing voice and at times, dose of humor.

Although we tried some of the tricks regarding my husband's chainsaw-sounding snoring, we didn't have much luck. One of the herbal medicines worked for a few days. But it was a catalyst -- it made my husband realize that indeed his case is extreme. Since we've exhausted every other anti-snore idea, he's feeling more comfortable with prospect of surgery.

As for me, I didn't have much luck with the fatigue-fighting ideas. In fact, an herb known to support the thyroid gave me migraines. So while the ideas in this book may help the masses, if something isn't working for you? Admit this to yourself. At least you can eliminate a few of the ideas so when you do seek medical help, you and your doctor aren't starting from scratch.

But overall, The 24-Hour Pharmacist is an interesting read. Oh and FYI, Suzy has a blog! And if you leave a comment on the campaign launch post at Parent Bloggers Network? You could win a $50 CVS gift card! Woot!

This review was written for The Parent Bloggers Network. If you have a product you'd like PBN to review, click on this link for more info.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Nozin knows noses...

Colds and flu bring chaos to households. Whether its the kids, spouse or you? Getting sick (or having to take care of someone who is) just plain sucks.

Being that I'm a serious germophobe, this Nozin Nasal Sanitizer? Looked pretty interesting. According to the Nozin website, (in lab tests) NOZIN killed 99.99% of germs that cause the flu (Influenza A), colds (rhino virus type 14) and staph infection (staph aureus). I'm all about trying to prevent colds. And I'd pay large, LARGE amounts of money (as well as walk through hot coals) to prevent any thing vomit-related.

Our little pack of Nozin arrived just in time for our trip to Orlando. I swabbed my son's and my nose just before going to the airport. Did it work? Um... I don't know. Neither one of us got sick non our vacation. So maybe it did? Who knows.

The directions were easy to understand. And I admit I was a bit nervous to stick the swab up my nose. I expected the experience to be uncomfortable -- to feel like my nostrils were on fire. But that wasn't the case at all. And the smell the product emits is like the scent of an orange peel. Its smells citrus-y and light.

My son thought it was funny -- mom sticking something up his nose. And it didn't burn the insides of his tender, little nostrils either. Although he'd much prefer the lingering smell to be one of "bubble gum", "Nerds" or "Laffy Taffy", he didn't complain about the smell.

I like the packaging. The case is small enough to fit into a purse or computer bag. Honestly, the most difficult part of the process was trying to open the itty bitty box with short nails.

I'm saving the rest of my Nozin swabs for cold and flu season. With a little boy who's slated to start kindergarten next month. (Gah! NEXT MONTH?!?) I have a feeling this little product will come in handy. Very, very handy.

This review was written for The Parent Bloggers Network. If you have a product you'd like PBN to review, click on this link for more info.

Monday, June 25, 2007

"Vaccinated" (and thankful)

Today, while at his annual well child check-up, my five-year-old received three vaccinations. Because of these shots, he will never know the itchy, burning feel of chicken pox in his throat. He will never experience the disabling affects of polio. He won't lose a day of school due to measles or mumps. And because of a compelling read by Paul Offit, I know exactly who to thank for this.

"Vaccinated" tells the inspiring story of Maurice Hilleman -- a humble man who grew up in a Montana farming community. Hilleman's tough childhood shaped him into the driven and determined man who not only discovered several vaccines, but improved upon a myriad of existing ones. (Hilleman is also the first person to invent a cancer vaccine as well as purify, characterize, and produce a drug now used in cancer treatment.)

Offit's extensively-researched tome also gives great insight into the history of vaccines. For example, although biologist Alexander Flemming discovered penicillin in the 1929, he was unable to purify the substance. At the start of the second world war, Howard Florey picked up where Flemming left off not only purifying but figuring out how to mass produce the product.

As doctor and author of three other books, (The Cutter Incident, Vaccines: What You Should Know, and Breaking the Antibiotic Habit) Offit chose a fascinating topic. The book is rich with compelling facts. I liked the way the book was organized and the way he presented his information. I also liked his writing style. He doesn't offend readers by "dumbing down" the information. But he does present the information in a way a lay person can understand.

Offit is also not afraid to present the darker side of vaccine discovery. Newly discovered vaccines always needed test subjects. For a period of time, those test subjects were institutionalized mentally retarded people or even children from poor countries. Often times, if a researcher fully believed in his work, the serum's were administered to their own children and even coworkers. Offit admits -- sometimes the vaccines worked. Sometimes they didn't. Sometimes the serum's side effects were so toxic, they caused problems that were worse than the actual illness.

And yes, "Vaccinated" addresses the controversy that ensued when Andrew Wakefield, a London doctor, alarmed the world with his "findings" that the MMR vaccine caused autism due to mercury levels. (Offit refutes Wakefield's concerns.)

Offit made a point at the end of the book that really hit home for me. When vaccines work, nothing happens. People take them for granted. And he's right.

When the author mentioned a new vaccine for rotovirus, I had a flashback of my son at 20-months laying on the couch too weak to move and too sick to even care. For five days, he couldn't even keep down a few swallows of water. He lost more than six pounds in a 12-day period. My husband was out of town. I was alone and overwhelmed with fear for my little boy. I'm grateful that now other children won't have to endure such misery. And many parents won't have to either.

This review was written for The Parent Bloggers Network. If you have a product you'd like PBN to review, click on this link for more info.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

True Blue is good for you!

When the marketeers of True Blue Blueberry juice asked me to try their product, I was excited. I love blueberries! But "the boy"? Not so keen on the taste.

What did he think of True Blue juice? In one word, "Yummy".

According to True Blue's website, "each glass of TrueBlue contains as much juice as 1/2 cup fresh blueberries. TrueBlue has 25% fewer calories per serving." The juice is lightly sweetened with cane sugar -- not high fructose corn syrup which is linked to obesity.

Since we received several 64 ounce bottles of True Blue Blueberry juice, we decided to share the wealth. Overall, the product was well received. Here are a few thoughts from busy moms:

"I thought the juice had a nice blend of flavors...the blueberry taste wasn't overwhelming and wasn't sugary. I thought it was refreshing and didn't leave an aftertaste, which I find with some juices." -- Bunko Babe Stacey.

"Product taste was good however my kids continue to ask for apple juice since it is such a staple item; I (mommy) drank the blueberry juice. Boys seemed to enjoy it if I gave it to them without offering a choice of apple juice." -- Bunko babe Traci.

"My kids loved it. This was a big treat for them. I rarely let them have juice or soda because that's too much sugar." -- my sister Linda.

Seth really loved the product. In fact, he asks for "that yummy purple stuff" several times a week. But he's not the only fan in our house. I joked with a few people about how I liked the juice so much, I'd love use it to create some cool cocktails. But in perusing the website, I see someone is one step ahead of me.

True Blue Blueberry juice can currently be found in Dillon, Krogers and Shop and Save in Missouri. Suggested retail price is $3.99 for a 64oz bottle. But if you go to this website, you can get a $1.00 off coupon!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Get a Hobby! (A PBN Review)

Got some free time on your hands? Feel a bit restless or unfulfilled but don't know what to do with yourself? Get a Hobby!

From African violet cultivation to whittling, Get a Hobby! author Tina Barseghian, offers "101 all-consuming diversions for any lifestyle."

Before checking out the list of hobbies, you can initially take a short quiz to help identify personality traits that determine your hobby personality. As you flip through the book, you can then match your traits to the personality characteristics of the many people who gravitate to and enjoy that hobby.

Each hobby segment gives an overview, a history, a list of materials needed, how to get started, a list of resources, and a project idea. For certain hobbies, like ant farming, there's also a sidebar regarding hobby hazards.

The book is an easy, speedy read. And hobbies are alphabetized so you can easily find an interest. Plus? The hobby list includes a bit of everything -- whether you have plenty of money and time to devote to a new hobby or not much of either -- you'll be able to find something of interest. (Featured diversions that sparked great amusement with my hubby and I were dumpster diving, taxidermy, and urban animal husbandry.)

While I do understand that Tina is trying to provide snippets of information to keep the reader engaged, at times, I wished for more information regarding certain hobby sections.

But overall? Get a Hobby! was a fun book to browse through.

This review was written for The Parent Bloggers Network. If you have a product you'd like PBN to review, click on this link for more info. To be entered to win a copy of the book and a $100 gift card to Michael's Arts and Crafts, visit the Parent Bloggers Network site and leave a comment in the Get a Hobby! campaign launch.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

What a Vue!

When Parentbloggers asked for interested reviewers to test-drive the 2007 Saturn Vue Green Line (a four-wheel drive hybrid), I was all, “Oh! Oh! Pick me! Pick meeeeee!” We plan to buy a new vehicle soon but were unsure as to what exactly we wanted. But with gas price soaring, we (like tons of other people) are seriously considerating a hybrid. And besides, I really like Saturn’s “no haggle” sales policy.

When the Green Line Vue was delivered to our front door and we were told we could “treat this vehicle as you would your own”, I felt a bit sorry for Saturn. They obviously don’t realize we have a spastic dog with a shedding problem who LOVES to go for car rides. Nor did they realize how many meals we actually eat in the car while on the run.

We did treat the vehicle as our own. (They are probably still finding cookie crumbs and dog hair in the seat creases weeks later.) But as a result, we drove the vehicle everywhere we needed to be (even took it on a few date nights). And by the end of two weeks, we were sad to bid our peppy little friend farewell.

What I liked:
First off, it felt like such a luxury to drive a vehicle that doesn’t smell like vomit. (Our son threw up in our current vehicle three times in the first 6 months of ownership. What didn’t help was the summer heat that baked in the smell. So even after almost two years of ownership, there’s still a lingering scent.) We loved the hybrid’s leather seats. The temperature controls quickly heat or cool to one’s liking. Plus? The interior seems surprisingly roomy for a mini suv. And the radio/cd player sound is great. Just those basics were enough to keep us happily reaching for the Vue keys.

The Green Line Vue arrived at our house with a full tank of gas. Since the vehicle boasts a fuel efficiency of 27 city miles per gallon and 32 highway miles per gallon, I was eager to see how far that amount of gas would take us. I usually need to fill the tank of my 4-cylinder Honda CRV once every five days. With the Vue’s hybrid engine, I was able to extend that by an extra two days!

And speaking of the engine – it is fairly quiet at faster speeds. When the vehicle stops and energy is drawn from the battery, the hybrid is so silent, some reviewers have thought the car stalled! (But it didn’t. The hybrid is as eager to get moving as you are!)

A few other mentions:
While the engine is peppy enough for city driving (going from 0 to 35 mph within a short distance), the biggest complaint for us was how sluggish the vehicle was when on an interstate going uphill. While there were no problems reaching a speed of 65-70 miles per hour on a flat stretch of interstate, the vehicle couldn't maintain that speed while driving up a fairly steep incline. (If you don’t do much highway driving -- especially in hilly regions – this is probably a non-issue. But being that grandparents live on the outskirts of the Ozarks, we tackle hilly terrain at least once a month.)

Also, while I found the steering to be very responsive, the turning radius wasn’t as tight as the vehicle we own now.

And another thing...
The Green Line Vue (which starts at $22,370 standard retail price) got a lot of attention wherever we drove. Our son’s preschool teachers, other preschool parents, neighbors, family members and friends all asked about the vehicle. (You wouldn’t believe how many times I was stopped in parking lots or even at a traffic light and quizzed about the hybrid’s handling, gas mileage and price.)

All in all, we did enjoy our stint as Saturn Vue Hybrid drivers. And by the overwhelmingly positive responses we received, I think a lot of people are looking upon the Saturn Vue Green Line with great hope and interest.

This review was written for The Parent Bloggers Network. If you have a product you'd like PBN to review, click on this link for more info.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

In the Motherhood!

Is it just me or do ya'll roll your eyes at most of the fall previews for new comedies? Many of the shows just seem to be the same. Oh look! A tubby, bumbling, clueless guy and his hot, good-natured wife. Ohhhh. There's the single guy who's always got an angle and his one friend with a conscience. Gag.

(Thank you Jesus for "The Office". Oh how I love thee.)

I've often thought, if scriptwriters want some fresh, funny, material they should check out the mom blogs. With moms living out loud, there's tons of funny antics and shenanigans in the blog-o-sphere.

Well, some wise person figured this out. And they put a cool plan in motion. That plan is "In the Motherhood." We? Supply the stories. Professional screenwriters develop the characters and story lines. The final product? Some pretty funny (and highly-entertaining) webisodes.

Typically, the site will have a featured topic like "child's worst meltdown" or "funniest mother-in-law childcare advice." Moms write their stories in paragraph form. The on-line mom community votes and nominates the best entries. And Viola. Your story could be brought to life! But at least this time, that horrifying/humiliating/unbelievable moment isn't happening to YOU again.

Leah Remini stars and if you check out the YouTube on their site, you will see that it IS hysterical. (And I'm not even a big fan of Leah. But I DO like her in this venture.)So go check it out and have some fun!

Monday, May 7, 2007

The business of being a boy...

Remember digging in the dirt in hopes of discovering buried treasures? Or finding yourself mesmerized while watching the various insects scurry for cover after you'd pick up a rock? Remember those long summer days when your parents would force you outside, "to let the stink blow off ya." (Or was that just MY parents who said things like that?)

Well, brothers Conn and Hal Iggulden do. And they used those childhood memories to write The Dangerous Book for Boys -- a tome that could soon be considered the bible of boyhood.

The brothers leave no stone unturned when it comes to topics of boyhood interest. And there's a plethora of tips and "how-to's" as well.

Want to know how to fine tune your paper airplane design? Its in the book. Want to know how to build a supercool treehouse? Again -- in the book. There are even lessons on correct grammar usage, a list of books every boy should read, and advice on how to talk to girls. But if grammar and girls aren't of particular interest? A boy can always read about pirates, how to hunt/cook a rabbit or even learn the finer points of poker.

What I liked about the book:
The book has a very easy-going, enthusiastic feel to it. The chapters are short so you, or the kids in your life, won't feel so overwhelmed. And the brothers' endearing sense of humor shines through. (The way they write reminds me of my father-in-law -- an incredibly intelligent, loving man whom I dearly admire and respect.) And you get a sense that the brothers have a great relationship. It is obvious -- creating this book was a labor of love.

And they do offer some very cool tips. The book isn't limited to just boys. Anyone can read it. And regardless of age or gender, there are chapters of interest to everyone. And although, growing up, I wasn't into "Famous battles" or "The rules of soccer", I still would have loved this book for the chapters like "Dog tricks" or "Growing sunflowers" or "Insects and spiders".

My little man takes the business of being a boy VERY seriously. Most boys inherently do. I know that as he gets older, he and his friends will delve into this boyhood manual -- especially when they find the chapter on how to build a go-cart! (God help our neighborhood when THAT happens!)

What you should know:
This book is best for boys about nine and older. Also, with some of these projects I would highly recommend adult supervision, lest you WANT to spend a few hours at your local emergency room. But the sorts of projects that require supervision are obvious. People with common sense (and are majorly paranoid like me) won't allow 'tween-age kids to try to make a tree house or build a workbench completely on their own.

This book is perfect for:
Boys (and many girls) of all ages will find something to love about this book. And it would make a fabulous Father's Day gift -- especially for grandfathers. It might spark some wonderful boyhood memories for the dads and grandpas to share with their young-uns. And for those fathers or grandfathers who find they have a hard time relating/connecting with their boys -- reading this together may inspire some spirited discussions or interesting projects.

TO WIN A TWO-MAN TENT by NORTHFACE go to Parent Bloggers Network and leave a comment on The Dangerous Book for Boys campaign post.

This review was written for The Parent Bloggers Network. If you have a product you'd like PBN to review, click on this link for more info.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Get a Kick-Start on Kindergarten

August will be a BIG month at the house of Midwestern Mommy. In four short months, "the boy" will be skipping off to Kindergarten. He can't wait to go. (I plan to celebrate the day by doing a little happy dance. But I'll likely cry my fool head off.)

While Seth is ready socially and emotionally, I wasn't sure if he was academically. That is, until I was sent a cool little book called Let's Get Ready For Kindergarten by educator/mom Stacey Kannenberg.

Let's Get Ready for Kindergarten touches on everything from letter and number identification to learning to tell time and identifying the seasons. The book is a great tool for gauging your preschooler's strong and weak points -- something most moms really appreciate.

What I liked:
The pages are brightly colored and visually appeal to kids. Seth dove into the book right away and got quite a kick out of "Mrs. Good and the Cedar Valley Kids". Lately, we've been using the book at night before bed. We curl up and go through a few pages. Its a good way to get him to sit and slow his little boy body down. But he's not the only one who's a big fan.

At one point, I introduced the book during one of Seth's playdates. It was a big hit with that child as well. In fact, Seth and his friend fought over the book!

Also, one of the coolest features of the book is that kids can use dry erase markers to practice writing their letters, numbers and contact information. And when you wipe the marker stuff off, it actually comes off! YEAY! Oh and if your child has sticky, dirty, chocolatey fingers? That stuff comes off too.

What I didn't like:
Unfortunately the pages rip easily. The pages aren't fragile but I thought they'd be a bit more durable.

This book is perfect for:
This is a great book to have on hand this summer. Are you going on a summer vacation? Take the book with you in the car or on the flight. Do you have time to kill in between your children's sporting events? Here's something to do. Its also a great book for grandparents and daycare providers to keep on hand.

And when your kindergartner graduates, there's a Let's Get Ready For First Grade edition as well.

TO WIN COPIES OF BOTH BOOKS GO TO http://www.parentbloggers.com/. Post a comment (on the entry about this product) as to why you'd like these books. A winner will be picked once the campaign is finished.