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.