Monday, December 22, 2008

Let Safeway reward you!

Recently my husband and I were discussing the family budget. I mentioned that (especially this summer when gas prices were crazy) there's less discretionary income this year than last. Just the basics seem to cost more than they did last year.

And shopping for Christmas toys? Does it seem prices increased there too?

Either way we, like alot of other families, are seeking out opportunities were we can get more value for the money. And for those who have Safeway stores in their area? Well you've got an extra opportunity! If you are more inclined to purchase gift cards (like me) you'll be happy to hear that this season, if you buy gift cards, you can double your PowerPump Rewards.

Here's a locator so you can find out if your local Safeway store is participating

Also, earn additional rewards with every $100 you spend on gift cards. And according to their site, more than 300 gift cards count toward earning those PowerPump rewards.

And while you're at Safeway's site take a gander at the recipies, party planning tips, and even holiday activity ideas. (The kids are out of school for the holiday. Let's face it, you need SOMETHING to keep them occupied.) And if you need grocery delivery? They got your back there too!


This post was written on behalf of MomCentral.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winner of Pilsbury giveaway

The winner of the Pilsbury giveaway is Stacy!

Congrats!

Thanks to everyone who has been participating in the giveaways. More are in store for 2009!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Nature's Gate: gateway to healthy beauty products

Every night before I go to bed, I apply lotion to my hands. This ritual began years ago when my son was itty bitty. My hands had gotten so dry and chapped from all of the handwashing I was doing (thanks to all of those dirty diapers I was changing).

I have a ton of products in my nightstand. But the one I've been using alot these days is Nature's Gate Organic Fruit Blend Body Lotion in Pineapple.

For those of you unfamiliar with the brand, Nature's Gate creates natural, (certified) organic personal care products. Their main goal is to keep your skin healthy by using natural ingredients and connect with communities. How cool is that?

The lotion isn't too thick or creamy. It has a nice consistency that is easily rubbed into the skin, drying quickly. A few minutes after application, I can always tell the lotion is still on my skin but it feels somewhat like a thin protective layer. Some people might not like that but I don't mind at all. But the best aspect for me? Is the smell.

Usually when lotions claim to smell like a fruit, they often smell like a hint of fruit with a heaping helping of chemicals. That is definitely not the case here. This stuff smells so much like real pineapple that after I've applied and and I smell my hands? It almost makes me want to bite my hand off. Yeah. That good.

Another cool component is that the company is working with WaterAid to provide Asian and African communities with clean drinking water. Plus, the products are paraben free, Phthalate free, and there's no animal testing.

Go to Nature's Gate website for a full listing of product lines, where to buy and more about the company's vision.

Monday, December 15, 2008

New Monday Giveaway!

Just in time for that big holiday family meal! I've got a Pillsbury gift package featuring:

*Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crusts,
*Two 9-inch glass pie pans
* A pie server,
* Pie-top cut-outs
* A CD-ROM with photos and recipes of Pillsbury pie favorites!

The Pillsbury peeps want to remind you that pies are a classic dessert to any holiday meal. And they don't have to involve alot of time and effort.

Leave a comment with your email address. Anyone can enter. (As in this isn't just open to those in the United States.) Just do so by Saturday Dec. 20 at 6 p.m. The winner will be notified that weekend. Anyone above the age of 18 can enter.

Friday, December 12, 2008

MomCentral's guide to gifts

Some people were born to shop. Some people have this knack of being able to pinpoint the perfect gift for any person. Some people can sniff out a bargain from a mile away.

I don't fall into any of these categories. I'm always struggling for ideas. I usually take the lazy way out and get gift cards for everyone. But this year? I've got MomCentral's gift guide to point me in the right direction.

MomCentrals' gift guide is organized into several categories like "women" "tweens" "toddler" and even "pets". There's even a "giveaway" category.

The site is easy to navigate and pretty responsive. Also, there are ideas for every price range. Wanna spend less than $50 on "him", well they've got you covered. Are you out of gift giving ideas for your teen, but still want to stay within the $100-130 range? MomCentral can offer up some suggestions.

So save yourself some time and mental energy this Christmas season and check out their gift-giving suggestions!


This post was written on behalf of MomCentral.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Positive Spin

There’s a little girl fairy by the name of Eve
She loves to eat candy and play make-believe
Her wings are multicolored. Her smile is bright
Her heart is big, filled with love and light.

I'll spare you any further rhyming on my part. But suffice to say that I recently reviewed three children's books published by Positive Spin Press. All Hallows Eve, Winter's Eve and Christmas Eve all feature a sweet little fairy by the name of Eve who lives in a fairy glen ("as most fairies do"). The books were written by Lisa Sferlazza Johnson and illustrated by Lisa's husband Tucker Johnson. The Johnson's are also the founders of Positive Spin Press.

Now, for a spot of info about each book:

*Hallow's Eve - The little fairy, who loves candy is sad that she can magically make any on her own. Her friend Jack comes up with a solution. They set about the glen, visiting houses, collecting treats on Eve's behalf. When presented with the candy, Eve is thrilled and remembers the toys she's made and gives each fair a shiny new toy.

* Winter's Eve - Eve's little glen appears to be a very diverse community! Eve's friend's observe various winter holidays within their cultures. As her friends travel they send Eve messages, letting her know where they are and a bit about how they are celebrating.

*Christmas Eve - Santa needs some help and asks Eve for some assistance. But Eve is worried. Her talents lie in magically creating small toys. Santa comforts her by letting her know that it is not the size or grandness of the gift but of the spirit intended. He mentions the birth of Jesus and the inspiration behind the Wright Brothers.

The main character Eve is endearing. I think alot of children can identify with her innocence, and
vulnerability. I do like her generous spirit. My son liked Eve because she reminds him of Chloe and Natalie, two little neighbor girls he's good friends with.

The story lines are cute and creative. But there are times where the rhymes felt a bit awkward. (Although the idea to tell the tale in a rhyming style is an interesting one.)

Overall, my little guy enjoyed the stories. His favorite (and mine as well) has been the Halloween story. Although I did like how Winter's Eve ended up giving us the opportunity to discuss the idea of diversity and how important it is to respect other people and their cultures.

If you're looking for more information about the author and the books, visit this site.

This review was written on behalf of ParentBloggers.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Shop till your keyboard drops.

So I'm browsing through Shop.com, and then it hits me. This is a very dangerous site.

I say that with love, people. As in, they have EVERY-freaking-THING you could think to buy on one site. Different lines of make-up? Check. Electronics? Check. Shoes? Check.

SHOP.com is on-line, one-stop shopping site that provides thousands of products from thousands of merchants. This means you can forgo the crowds, lines and screaming children you'd typically have to tolerate were you to leave your warm, cozy house. (Plus, if you're not at the mall, its much easier to avoid the siren call of those cookie, pretzel and ice cream places.)

First I started searching and comparing prices for some of my favorite beauty products. Then I went on to find tons of yoga dvd's and boys' pants. After a bit, I started searching for random items to see if they have them. Input "stapler" and you'll get 1172 matches. Try "pickles" and you'll find all sort of items -- from cookbooks, t-shirts and party invitations to children's books and everything in between. (And different kinds of pickles too.) Oh, if the bird in your life is bored? They sell bird toys. (In fact there were 947 matches for that search.)

They have everything but the kitchen sink. Oh wait, the DO sell kitchen sinks!

But Shop.com also has a plethora of other features. There are links to weekly deals, holiday music, listings of merchants that offer free shipping, coupons and contests. If you click on "my shop" they can provide shopping ideas, keep track of your purchases and make product recommendations.

The site is well-organized, easy to navigate through and responsive. And I had a fun on-line experience. After awhile I did find ONE thing they didn't seem to have. That would be "prairie dog decor". But I won't hold that against them.

This post was written on behalf of MomCentral.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Word World Giveaway Winner

The winner for the Word World giveaway is... Ashley.

Thanks for leaving a comment everyone. There's more giveaways set up for this month. Stay tuned for those!

Friday, December 5, 2008

"True North" wants to hear your story

The gymnasium of my high school was packed that day in May of 1991. There was a sea of purple gowns with matching hats and gold tassels. Proud parents and grandparents sat on bleachers fanning themselves. The back doors were open to let in air, yet revealed a promising sunny day.

At the podium, our superintendent gave a speech. I still tear up when I think of it today. He said we needed to be true to ourselves. We needed to find our "true north". It really resonated with me and its been that little piece of advice that I've always kept in my heart.

For some people, following their "true north" can result in an amazing journey that can inspire others or leave the world a much brighter place. It doesn't have to be the story of one person, it can involve a number of people.

Have you found your "true north"? Do you have an interesting story to share? True North wants to hear! Visit this site. Tell your story in less than 300 words. And if chosen, your story could be made into a 60 second video to be shared on Oscar night (February 22). Here are the legal terms and the questions most commonly asked.

Good luck!

The post was written on behalf of MomCentral.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Easy way to make saving a Priority

I went Christmas shopping for my son, nephews and niece yesterday.

Is it me or have you experience "sticker shock" at the register too? I paid the bill then checked the receipt in the car. No mistakes. It really WAS that much money. And quite honestly? I didn't get much for the amount I spent.

But it seems this has become the new "normal" -- whether it is in the grocery store, Christmas shopping or paying the doctor or dental bills.

But there's a website that can help lessen the financial load. You can earn and redeem points for travel and hotel stays. And you can do the same when it comes to those holiday gifts and eating out. The program? Priority Club Rewards.

Priority Club has partnered with a number of hotels, airlines, rental car companies and a plethora of major online retailers like Target and Old Navy. The premise is easy. You sign up. And when you spend, you earn points that you can use later.

According the the site, redeeming points is easy and there are many ways to earn extra points without having to spend extra cash. Plus, points don't expire and there aren't any blackout dates. To find out how you can start saving NOW, go to www.priorityclub.com. (This could be a very easy way to fund next year's holiday shopping!)

This post was written on behalf of MomCentral.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Word World giveaway! (And review too!)

From the first few minutes of watching Word World, my son was hooked. His eyes grew big. He sat still and watched the entire episode. This was a very big deal. This child isn't one to sit still.

The show became one of his daily favorites. After a few episodes he started pointing out different words when we'd read. I'd ask, "where did you learn that word?" He'd say, "When I was watching Word World." Awesome!

This is why Word World holds a special place in my heart. The characters are lovable, the story lines are cute and the song for the show is snappy. ("Let's Build a Word!") Many of the objects within the story are made out of letters. For instance, see the dog in this photo? His face is the "D" and the rest of his body is the "o" and "g." They do this with the characters and even places where the friends live like "Log" and "Barn". Creative, yes? So when given the opportunity to review a few of their products, I was all, "yeehaw!"

We were sent both the Word World Pull-Apart WordFriend plush cow and pig. (Upon opening the boxes, my son immediately grabbed them and ran to his room.) The fabric of each animal is soft and smooth. The eyes of the characters are securely fastened, the stitching is strong. And magnets, which are sewn in, are strong enough to attract the letters needed. Plus there's a bonus DVD included with each animal.

The animals are meant for kids three and older. At first I wondered why. These are durable little toys. But my guess is that the manufacturers have to exercise caution. But its a cute toy that looks as if it can easily be thrown in the wash when necessary.

We were also sent the Word World Bucket Set for the House. (They also have a barn set.) This has been one of those toys I was holding off on opening. But my son was begging and begging me to open it. Once I got the go-ahead from the pr company (I wasn't quite sure this was for us.), I opened it up. Seth immersed himself into project and started building with nary a request for food, drink, or anything else. (Which is highly uncommon.) I helped him with a few parts and we had a lovely time building the fence and attaching the slide to the
The toys are aimed getting children ages three to five. But even older kids (like my son who's six) get a kick out of the toys. The toys are sold at Target.

Win some Word World Mega Blocks for the budding reader in YOUR life! Just leave a comment (along with your email addy) here between now and Sunday (Dec. 7) at noon. Anyone can enter.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Lands End Giveaway Winner

Congrats to out to Tuesday Girl. She won the most recent Lands' End giveaway.

But fear not, there's a new giveaway this week. And its got something to do with Word World.

P.S. Lands' End is having a little sale - check out their St. Nick's Pick!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What do Wii think of Littlest Pet Shop?


Littlest Pet Shop seems to be all the rage these days. Although my son hasn't gone crazy over the toys like alot of other kids, he has expressed an interest. So when Parent Bloggers Network was asking for people to review this game, made my Electronic Arts, I figured, he'd be very interested.

I mean, the Littlest Pet Shop is a game where you can take care of and dress your pet. (And no housetraining!) YOU get to choose and there are so many options. He LOVES creating different Mii’s and naming them on the Wii. He and his friends love to see who can make the ugliest Mii and change the features of each other’s Mii. This would be right up his alley, yes?

At first he was very excited. The characters and sound effects are cute, the game's colors are vivid. Seth really got a kick out of naming his pets and choosing accessories at first. We were having lots of fun with the game until a navigational issue frustrated the boy. The boy does not do well with frustration and quickly gave up. I couldn't figure out how the screen worked either. So at that point, he lost interest and wanted to play his old favorite, boxing.

But unlike boxing, a game that gets my child all riled up, this is one of those games where you can sit down with your child, talk and play. And with 32 pets to collect and name as well as feed and dressed? There’s lots to do. I can completely understand its appeal.

I'm sorry to say that my little guy didn't get as much out of the game as I'd hoped. But I'm thinking this is an excellent game to pull out the next time he has a playdate who IS into Littlest Pet Shop. (Sometimes another kid's enthusiasm rubs off on the boy.) And if you've got a youngster in your life who's wild about these little creatures and has a Wii? This would be a good bet. The game retails for about $39.79 on Amazon.

This review was written on behalf of Parent Bloggers Network. For more reviews, go here for a list.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Lands' End Giveaway (And the scoop on a few of their products too!)

As soon as it arrived, I knew exactly what it was. And I knew my son would be thrilled. "It" was a big box from Lands' End. The item I knew he'd go crazy over was the Wheeled Duffel Bag. (I wondered what he'd think of the Kids' slippers too. But I'll get to the slippers later.)

My boy has a thing for luggage. BIGTIME. He loves to travel. So on those days where his wanderlust kicks in but there's no place to wander? He'll pull a wheeled suit cases around the house, his a toy lap top computer slung across his shoulder and announce he's going on a business trip. Like dad.
While the duffel bag is targeted toward grown-ups, my little guy saw bag and claimed it as HIS . Then he started "packing." He shoved a number of Star Wars toys into it along with stuffed animals, a few stickers, a juice box and one pair of pants then declared himself ready to go on a trip.
From a parental perspective? The material and stitching on the duffel seem very durable. The wheels roll smoothly and the handle is very solid. Actually, you can press a button to allow the handle to turn with your wrist. This is helpful when it comes to lugging your bag through an airport and over curbing.

The bag is roomy. Even with all of the junk Seth "packed" it still looked rather empty. I think we could actually fit the boy in the bag. (Smuggle him on board and save a few bucks on air fare. Sweet!)

I wouldn't recommend stowing your lap top in the duffel bag or any breakables. But a bag like this is ideal when you're trying to cram alot of casual clothes into one bag. (I don't think a full bag would fit into an overhead bin though. I could be wrong.)
As for the Kids' Fleece Slippers? He loves them. There's all sorts of designs for boys and girls. Not just animals like penguins and bears but other cute designs. I thought perhaps he'd find the animal design "babyish" but he found them amusing and fun. The fleece fabric make them soft, warm and comfy. Plus? the bottoms of the slippers have some traction to help with the "slip and slide" issue.
Women's Regular Terry Travel Slippers with Bag comes in four colors and includes a cute little pouch in which to store your shoes. The material is soft on the outside and inside. But I have to tell you, they didn't "wow" me. In fact, while they did fit snuggly around my foot, they dug into my heel as I walked. I had to take them off after wearing them for awhile because they were getting uncomfortable. (If I was sitting, it was ok. They kept my feet warm. I just don't do much sitting.)

GIVEAWAY ALERT! Lands' End is giving YOU the chance to win your choice of these three products. Leave a comment with your email address. Anyone can enter. (As in this isn't just open to those in the United States.) Just do so by Saturday, Nov. 29 at noon. The winner will be notified that weekend.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Winner of Winnie the Pooh movie giveaway

Remember this past week's giveaway? Here are the winners: Abbey -- Tigger and Pooh's Super Sleuth Christmas Movie. Amanda Sue and Mandee -- Friendly Tails movie.

Congrats to the winners and thanks to all who left a comment. This coming week we've got some Lands' End stuff to giveaway. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Obagi Skin care

You know what was really stupid on my part? Spending much of my teen years and 20's in the sun and/or tanning booths -- all for the pursuit of a golden tan.

I'm paying for that now... So recently, I decided to get a few photofacial treatments. I showed up excited by the vision of clear, beautiful, even-colored skin that would be mine! All mine! Imagine my dismay when I was told I couldn't start my session -- the antibiotic I'd been taking would make my skin super sensitive which could result in blisters and scaring. Oy.

But that's ok. Because for the next few weeks, I've got a new little something in my skincare arsenal -- Obagi's Condition and Enhance line, And while I'm just starting the product now, I can't tell you exactly what I think just yet except that I like how the products have the step numbers on it. And so far, my favorite product is the creamy sunscreen.
But you'll have to check back in a few weeks. I may even have "before" and "after" photos.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Three Disney DVD's = Three Winners!

This week we've got two dvd's little ones will love. Two winners will be selected for Disney's My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Friendly Tails. One person will win Disney's My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Super Slueth Christmas Movie. You can enter to win these for your own brood or you save them as Christmas gifts. Its all up to you.

Just leave a comment with your e-mail address to enter. (This contest is for those living in the United States only.) A winner will be drawn by noon on Saturday.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Hot Wheels Keeps Kids Busy (Yeay!)

My little man's love affair with Hot Wheels began early. He used to carry at least one car everywhere. In fact, a few years ago, while at his an annual check up, the nurse and I realized he was up four pounds from a visit that took place two months prior. And then I noticed a Hot Wheels car in his back pocket. And then another in the side pocket of his cargo pants. Upon further inspection, the nurse and I realized he'd been able to stuff 11 cars in his pants! (Shaving at least three pounds off of his weight.)

So when the opportunity came up to review the newest toys from Hot Wheels, I was practically jumping out of my seat with excitement. Although he hasn't played with his cars lately, I wondered if Mattel’s Hot Wheels Power Loop Stunt Zone and the Trick Tracks Triple Stunt Starter Set (shown at left) would re-ignite his interest. The quick answer? Oh yeah, baby!

I would not recommend trying to put the tracks together when its about 5 p.m. and you've been slogging through the day on about four non-consecutive hours of sleep. My brain was dead, I was crabby and the boy was antsy. The directions are basically pictures of the process. But sometimes it was difficult to figure out what part goes where. This made for a tired, crabby, very frustrated mommy. Plus, you are supposed to attach rubber bands to various parts of the track, but the bands are already on. And I kept thinking maybe we were supposed to add extra rubber bands or something because why on earth would they tell you put put these bands in certain areas if the bands are already on?

At one point, I told Seth to wait until Daddy got home from his business trip. So my husband had the "pleasure" of listening to "the boy" beg to finish the project. Marc set to work still smelling like the inside of an airplane, didn't look at the directions once and had it put together in a matter of minutes. (Yeay me for marrying an engineer!) Soon both men were engaged in the action.

In order to get the full effect, you really need more than one car. And certain cars don't work due to varying weight and size. But that was no problem since we have eleven-ity billion of these at the bottom of the toy box. In a nutshell? All three of us thought the tracks very pretty cool - a definite winner if you've got little car-crazy kiddos in your life.

Seth's favorite part? The battery-operated launcher. "It made the coolest swoosh-swoosh noise and the cars bang together and then they shoot out!"

But the best part for me? Seth played with the tracks by himself. This is a big deal since he seems to think that I was put on this earth to entertain him 24/7. But it made my heart melt watching him lose himself in his own little world of Hot Wheels. I had missed that.

This post was written on behalf of Parent Bloggers Network.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Winner of Pledge and Target giveaway

Congrats go out to CC and Katie. They won some Pledge and a $25 gift cert to Target. Yeay you guys! Check back on Monday. We've got some DVD's from Disney up for grabs!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Cut with Skil

Skil has come out with a nifty little gadget just in time for Christmas. It's called a "Lithium Ion Power Cutter - Model #2352-01"

When I was asked to review this product, I was intrigued. So I went to Skil's site to learn more. According to the manufacturer, it weighs less than a pound and can power through all sorts of stuff. The lithium-ion powered battery can maintain a charge for up to 18 months.

At first I tested the product on stuff like wrapping paper which it easily sliced through. I tried cardboard too. No problems there. At that point, I sort of turned into a 12-year-old boy, looking through the house with cutter in hand trying to find something I could cut up out of curiosity. (And I had to resist the temptation to get out an old leather coat just to see if the product really can slice through leather like it promises.)

This would be a great product if you need to cut something that's tough to tear yet very thin like laminated paper, vinyl flooring or wall paper. It even cut through cloth and vinyl blinds. The only issue I came across is that you've got to feed your fabric, box or paper into a very thin opening. (See the picture to catch my drift.) So if you're trying to cut a thick-ish piece of cardboard? Not going to happen. And its not because the blade's not strong enough - but rather because the feeder area is very narrow.

But while I'm thinking of it, the gadget is easy to maneuver. So if you want to cut a curve or a circle, you can do so with ease.

I plan on passing the power cutter along to my mom and dad. While I go out of my way to avoid do-it-yourself projects, they've tackled many a wallpaper and vinyl flooring installation project. I'm thinking they'd love something like this. Plus? They won't have to worry about the blade dulling. (According to the manufacturer, the blade is precision ground hardened steel.)

The tool can be found at Lowe's and retails between $45-55.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Target gift card and Pledge giveaway

Pledge Furniture Polish has been around for years. It is one of those tried and true products that most everyone has in their cleaning arsenal. But did you know Pledge kills up to 84% of allergens found in dust? That's a good thing for those of us with allergies! (Now I'm feeling sort of guilty for not dusting more!)

Pledge and their lovely PR people are giving away 2 prizes this week to Midwestern Mommy Review readers. Both contain a $25 gift cards to Target and a bottle of Pledge (the Dust & Allergen formula and the standard Pledge Furniture Polish). All you have to do is leave a comment to enter. Winner will be chosen Saturday after 3 p.m. and posted on Sunday.

But if you're holding out for bigger winnings? Pledge has created game photo hunt. Each time you play, you are entered to win $5,000. So visit http://www.pledgephotohunt.com/. The game is available until November 30.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Winner of Lands' End giveaway

Congrats to Brimful Curiosities on winning the Lands' End giveaway.

But check back on Monday for a new giveaway!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Going green... Works!

“Going green” is now mainstream. This is a great thing, yes? But some people are reluctant to reduce, reuse and recycle because they think this will mean more work for them. And really, who needs MORE work to do?
But going green can be easy. Here’s a few suggestions:
*Buy recycled goods and recyclable goods.

*When you're at the store why don't you pick up some of those energy-saving light bulbs? And if you need some cleaning supplies? Go for more natural cleaners. (Here's where I mention Green Works™ cleaners. Because they are at least 99% natural.)

*And while you’re loading up the cart, think about whether the packaging be used for something else. (Turn a big box into a “robot torso” for your kids. Or props in a play. Or use boxes to pack away holiday decorations.) And when that box is no longer useful, recycle.
*If you’re not using it, why not donate? Lots of charities take donations. And many of these organizations will come to your house and pick up your stuff! Groups like Freecycle and Recycler's Exchange can help rid yourself of no longer used objects. If you're in a Craigslist city, make use of the "free stuff" section. You can give away old baby clothes, that mini-fridge you brought with you to college 15 years ago, or those strange potholders someone gave you for a wedding present.
These a just a few options. But the makers of Clorox and creators behind Greenworks natural cleaners have a quite a few more ideas up their sleeves. That's why they've launched 30 Days to Natural. The premise is that small changes can add up to big rewards for your family and the planet. And they can show you how. You can also read the diaries of three women going green and sign up to get helpful tips and tricks. So go check it out!

This post was written on behalf of MomCentral.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Before you schedule that gyno procedure? Read this first!

I don't know about you but for me? Its always scary finding out that the only recourse to a medical issue is to have surgery. Many a thought bombards me. Like will this truly be the answer? How much pain will I be in afterward? How long before I feel like my normal self?

Fortunately there may be more than one option for many a woman with gynecological problems facing surgery. (Its always good to have options, yes?) So if you learn you're going to need major surgery in order to fix a problem "down under"? Check THIS site before you set up the particulars. (The site includes a glossary of terms, physician finder and patient education topics.)

According to the site, which is created by the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists, the benefits of minimally invasive procedures "include reduced risk of infection, minimized scarring, less blood loss, decreased post-operative pain, and generally quicker recovery time."

So its not surprising that these surgical procedures (especially for gynecological issues) are becoming more and more popular. For instance, did you know a diagnostic tool that uses a miniature telescopic device is used internally to detect issues and inspect internal organs. And? Not only can doctors seek out issues, they can often fix the issues at the same time.

Go to the AAGL's site to learn about your options. As the association says, "Gynecologic care is progressing quickly and it is our goal to keep you informed so you can seek the best care possible."
This post was written on behalf of MomCentral.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Land's End Giveaway (and a Weatherly jacket review too!)

Until a few weeks ago, I didn't know much about Lands' End other than the fact that my father-in-law loves their shirts. But from what I'd heard about them over the years, Lands' End has built a solid reputation for providing quality products that are practical and comfortable.

So when I was given the opportunity to try the Women's Weatherly Jacket, I was so very interested. Really, what girl can resist a new coat?
The jacket is made of PolarThin™ insulation (for warmth without making a girl look like the Michelin man), fleece-lined patch outer pockets with side-entry handwarmer pockets and inside pockets too. Plus? Lands' End boasts that this coat has a temperature rating of -10°/-5° Fahrenheit. (If you layer pieces, the jacket can keep you warm in -10° weather; but if you're wearing one layer, you're covered when temps drop to -5°.)

I was sent the berry-colored coat in medium. (If you aren't familiar with their sizes, medium is considered sizes 10-12.) The coat is very comfortable. And warm. The stitching is durable and the fabric inside and out is nylon. At one point I accidentally spilled some water on the coat but the water beaded up and quickly rolled off! I did check the tag and found this product can easily be washed at home. No extra dry cleaning bill. Yeay!

The coat can also be adjusted to fit various shapes and sizes. You can cinch or expand the waist line, there's a drawstring at the bottom of the coat, and there's Velcro at the bottom of the sleeves so you can adjust the fit around your wrists.

I do like the pockets. But what I like even more is the fact that the pockets don't add bulk. Plus, this coat did keep me comfy on a few cold days we experienced this past week.

Overall, this is a fun, durable coat that's perfect for when you're running errands. I wouldn't pair it with an evening gown but it is a great jacket for jeans, yoga pants or casual days at work.
The coat is normally $59.50 but is now on sale for $49.50. Surprising. Because at first, I assumed it cost more like $75-80.
I'm impressed with the quality of the coat and have been perusing the Lands' End site quite a bit over the past week or so -- especially now that Christmas will be here soon. They've got me hooked.
Here's where I mention that I'm giving away a Lands' End product! Those who live in the United States, leave a comment to win either the Women's Half-Zip Pullover or the Women's Sherpa Fleece. (Winner can choose.) Don't forget to leave an email addy in your comment. Winner will be drawn on Saturday, November 8th after 3 p.m!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Winners

Remember the Chex Mix basket givaway ? It was part of the blog carnival hosted by Bloggy Giveaways. Here are the winners! Angie, Lisa Lmg, and Betty C


The alternate winner (if someone doesn't get back to me with their info by this coming Thursday) is: Ellybean.


Congrats ladies!

Check back on Monday if you'd like to enter a giveaway for a little something (that's pretty great too!) from Land's End.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Stop MRSA Now!

My name is Lisa. And I'm a germophobe. I wash my hands ALOT. And I make my son was HIS hands alot. He always complains. And my husband thinks I'm crazy. But then I hear stories like Everly Macario's and I think of that old adage, "better to be safe than sorry."

Years ago, Everly took her son Simon to the emergency room after he began experiencing cold and flu symptoms. But after being discharged he had problems breathing and was re-admitted, this time to the Intensive care unit. He died the next day. Later, it was confirmed he had an antibiotic resistant Staph infection known as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus)

The infection is typically found in community settings, like gyms, locker rooms, childcare centers and schools. Scarey? Yes!

According to the website, Stop MSRA Now, MRSA can be easily spread through skin-to-skin contact and by touching contaminated items. But it can be prevented with these steps:

Scrub up - Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 15 seconds - the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice - or use an alcohol-based hand rub sanitizer.
Wipe it down - Use a disinfecting bleach solution to wipe down and disinfect hard surfaces. Make sure to use clean cloths to avoid spreading MRSA from one surface to another. (1 tablespoon of disinfecting bleach diluted in 1 quart of water)
Cover your cuts - Keep any nicks or wounds covered with a clean, dry bandage until healed.
Keep to yourself - Do not share personal items, like towels or razors, that come into contact with bare skin.
Use a barrier - Keep a towel or clothing between skin and shared equipment.

How do you spot MRSA? According to the site, MRSA, like other staph bacteria, can cause a skin infection such as pimples, rashes, abscesses, boils or what can look like a spider bite. These infections are usually warm, painful, red or swollen.

To find out more, click on this link.

This post was written on behalf of MomCentral.com

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Say "boo" to the flu!

On Friday night I missed a party. On Saturday morning, I missed my son's soccer game. And on Saturday night? I missed another get together with some dear friends I'd been longing to see. And all because of the flu.
Yes, its that time of year again. But you can "Say Boo to the Flu!" In a quest to educate families about the importance of flu prevention, Families Fighting Flu, has teamed up with the Visiting Nurse Associations of America in hosting flu vaccination events across the country.

For more information on the program, visit their website (http://www.saybootoflu.com/). You can find flu prevention tips and ways to help kids learn about washing their hands, as well as vaccination information related to your local area.

This post was written on behalf of MomCentral.

Monday, October 27, 2008

1 contest 3 winners!

"A Basket of Indulgence". Sound good to you? Well, I'm giving THREE away this week as part of the carnival hosted by Bloggy Giveaways.

How do you enter?
Leave me a comment with your name and e-mail. I will contact winners for further info at that time.

What's exactly is in this basket?
Turtle Chex mix bars, chocolate candles, caramel lotion and spa essentials like a loofah, hand massager, nail brush and spa towel.

When do we find out who won?
The drawing will be held between Oct. 31 and Nov. 2

Anything else?
If you are unfamiliar with the new Chex Mix Bars, let me tell you a bit about them. They are a combination of "crunchy Chex pieces, pretzels and peanuts with chewy and indulgent ingredients like caramel and chocolate" -- and less than 150 calories per bar.) Quite honestly? I discovered these recently and fully intend to buy three more boxes today when I go to the grocery store. And I plan to hide them so no one else will eat them because they are that awesome and I'm that greedy.

Want MORE chances to win some other cool prizes?
Go to Bloggy Giveaways for a list of other blogging participants.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Abbey the part labby gets adopted

Once upon a time, (back in January of 1991) a sweet little black and white pointer/lab mix pup was born. Unfortunately, she, her two sisters and mother were abandoned, left to roam their neighborhood with barely anything to eat.

By the time Impact for Animals in St. Louis found them, the precious pooches had worms and other health issues. But the loving people at Impact nursed the puppies and mother back to health. And soon, Abbey found herself being driven to an unfamiliar place called PetSmart. There she and her family sat and watched the people walk by. So many strange smells! All of this excitement made the puppies tired. So the young pretty pup drifted off to sleep with her sisters.

As she dreamed of chasing rabbits, a young blond woman gently picked her up and started to cuddle her. Then the woman handed her to the young man standing beside her. The young pup must have thought the man cute. She gave him a great big lick. He melted.

A few days later, the little pup learned she was getting adopted. She had a "forever" home now. She was a bit scared those first few days but soon got very used to sleeping on the bed with her parents, going for long walks, and riding in the convertible. She liked driving in the car best when there was a trip to McDonald's involved. Her name is Abbey. And I can't imagine life without her.
Now, almost 11 years later, Abbey dog still loves car rides, McDonald's, long walks and sleeping in bed with her family. She also enjoys chasing squirrels and rabbits out of the back yard and scaring the crap out of delivery/mail people with her ferocious-sounding bark.
After three years of being the only baby, Abbey became a big sister too. Some days she loves her hairless brother. Other days, she wishes she could send him back to where he was originally. But all in all, Abbeydog is surrounded by love.

(But if you're not yet ready for a real, live pooch, check out Burger King's iDogs. Kids get them as part of the Club BK toys.)

Parent Bloggers wants to hear all about your pets. So post sometime this weekend (Oct. 24-26) write about your pets. Include links to http://www.clubbk.com/ and http://blog.parentbloggers.com/. The following blurb should also be included: “This post was written for Parent Bloggers Network as part of a sweepstakes sponsored by Burger King Corp.”
Then send your post link to
parentbloggers@gmail.com.

Oh and by the way?

“This post was written for Parent Bloggers Network as part of a sweepstakes sponsored by Burger King Corp.”

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Boots and bowling pins

Let's talk "man caves" shall we?

While we don't have a mancave at our house, we do have some manly-man items that, if there did exist such a room, would definitely be on prominent display.

Take for instance a beer glass boot. No man cave should be without one! Because beer? Is manly.

And while we're talking beer, most man caves I've seen are usually decorated with at least one beer sign. We have a few Guinness signs. They'd definitely adorn a wall.

And while we're on the kitchy sort of stuff, he'd also probably have a small bar in the corner. On top of the bar would sit a random bowling pin he got from the company he used to work at years ago. I can't remember exactly why he got it. And I have no clue why he kept it, but I would be there.

Oh and Mizzou stuff. There would be PLENTY of Mizzou stuff.
I sort of feel guilty that hubby doesn't have a man cave. He needs one! And at some point, we are planning to convert a section of our basement into a mancave. And then all of those tacky, weird things (like the drinking glass shaped like a penis that I've hidden away so well, even I can't find it anymore. Opps!) the man has collected over the years can "breathe."

Do you have a man cave? If so, what kind of "hidden goodies" lurk inside? Parent Bloggers Network wants to know! Write a post (don't forget the photos) about what kinds of objects are tucked away. (You still have time to post tonight yet this weekend) Also add links to http://shopping.billmelater.com/linkin?pageid=billmelater&s_kwcid=[PBN] and http://blog.parentbloggers.com. Then send your blog post link to parentbloggers@gmail.com. They'll link to your blog and enter you in the drawing for five $100 shopping sprees for use within the Bill Me Later merchant network. That's pretty cool, yes?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Love and Loathe

Here's a quick and dirty list of some products I've come across recently

I'm loving several products:

* "The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work" by John M. Gottman, Phd. Instead of studying why so many marriages fail, he studies the ones that succeed. He's got some great insights.

*My Ipod. I downloaded a bunch of songs and at bedtime, I chose my "soothing" category and drift off to sleep that way. Just listen to the music and relax. Course its also fun to jam out while on a treadmill or while cleaning. How did I live life without with gadget?

*Dierberg's deli chicken salad. Oh my gosh! I eat it almost every day.

But then there is one service and a few products I'm loathing now too.

*Veolia Environmental Services. Do you HAVE to keep changing dates of the recycle, trash, lawn waste pick up? I can't keep track anymore. And your customer service is sucking hard! Yesterday I called four times only to be perpetually stuck in automated hell. Apparently, whenever a live person would get to my call, I would get disconnected. I don't know if that was done out of being ornery or if they truly are being inundated by calls. Either way, its obvious I'm not the only pissed off customer.

*Uniden phones. We just bought this phone. The sound quality is horrible. Also, sometimes while you're on a call the sound drops in and out. So you only hear parts of what people are saying. Lovely. What a POS!

*Cardio Pilates with Ana Caban. I've used exercise tapes and dvd's since I was in high school. I like the convenience of being at home. But I get bored after awhile. I've been wanting a different pilates video. And well, this one sucks ass. The pilates part was "meh". But the cardio part is the most boring ever. She does the same four moves, in the same succession over and over and over and over and over. It started to piss me off. Obviously Ana didn't spend much time thinking about choreography for this section. Nothing original here.

*Reebok Stay Ball. The hose of the cheap, poorly constructed pipe easily split before I could plug it into the ball. And the ball must have a leak. There was sand everywhere. What a waste of money. So back to Target I'll go.

There's a round-up of some of the products I've tried recently. Hope it help save you some time.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A carpet cleaning product that hits the spot!

The people who owned our house previously would probably freak out a bit if they saw the house today. Sure we've made some positive changes to the house. But the boy and the dog haven't been so kind to the existing flooring.

Let's just say this... Little boys + hardwood floors in bathrooms = BAD. (Especially in that "bad aim, pee all over the floor resulting in wood around the toilet getting darker" way. And old lady dog (who's developed a sensitive stomach in the last three years) + cream colored carpet = REALLY BAD.

We have a few old stains on certain areas of carpet in our front rooms, due to Abbey realizing too late that she shouldn't have eaten the grass/dead critter combo meal. I've tried several products on these pesky stains but nothing has worked.


I was more than intrigued. I was hoping this would be the answer to my prayers... Would Spot Shot Instant Carpet Stain Remover stand up to this HUGE challenge or would it falter due to performance anxiety? Let's do a play-by-play.

Living Room: It cleaned up the shadow of an old stain (about 2 yrs old) after two passes. Other products had failed this test completely. I had given up hope of ever getting out this stain.

Dining Room: It cleaned up a few stains the first time around with little effort on my part. These were done within the past six months.

Head of stairs: There was some mystery stain here for a year other cleaners couldn't even soften. Spot Shot took it out easily on the first try. I was floored (pun intended)!

Guest bedroom: About a year ago, Seth spilled children's grape cough syrup all over the floor. The Spot Shot lessened the stain after two passes.

Boy's Room: There is some mystery blue stain on the carpet in Seth's room. Nothing could get the stain out before and whatever it is, has proven to be very stubborn. Now at least a shade or two lighter after two passes of Spot Shot. I might just dry it and try, try again.
So there you have it. Overall, Spot Shot emerged victorious -- it left my carpets looking better than they had before. (In other words it picked up the slack other cleaners left behind.) Plus, the product is non toxic, won't hurt the environment and the bottle can be recycled when emptied. Yeay!

This review was written on behalf of MomCentral.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Woogi World - the place to be?

When MomCentral put out a call for interested parents to review Woogi World, I was super excited. My son doesn't normally do computer games, but that's mainly because the boy can't seem to sit still for more than 30 seconds. I was hoping that maybe THIS website would capture his attention.

Woogi World is a website for kids filled with all sorts of educational games and ways to earn prizes. A child can chose a Woogi, name him/her, dress him/her and even decorate the Woogi's house (aka wigwam). Plus, there's some great information for parents as well as grandparents. And the site offers "basic internet training" for kids on how to navigate through cyberspace safely. According to the site, children can "safely experiment with and practice behavior in a microcosm that they’ll eventually need to know and display when they explore the much broader, unsecured and precarious online world." Kids can earn extra points for completing this training. Oh and? No advertising of any outside products. No advertising at all, actually.

So what did we think? It started out promising. There's a cute little game your child can play with the mouse while the site downloads. But overall, we found things a bit confusing.

At times, when it asks for user name, we'd enter my son's Woogi name. And when it asks to enter a passcode, I'd enter the one we had set up but it would get rejected. It would ask for an email address but sometimes that didn't work either. Then you are taken to the "Bulletin Board". There wasn't an obvious place for the games. (You have to close the bulletin board window to get to the game area.)

My son also had some frustration with some of the game stuff. All he wanted to do is let the Woogi roam around and explore what was on the site but soon found himself underwhelmed and frustrated. After hearing my son whine, "Mmoooomm. I can't get this to wwwooorrrrkkk" about eight times every five minutes, I'd get frustrated too. And we'd do something else. I went back to the site with him three different times and it was pretty much the same experience each time. (I went to the site several times more but I didn't get much farther than he did.)

But at one point, we did find a great game that we played over and over again. We had to work as a team and it turned into a really fun experience. Basic membership is free and the more advanced is just $6.95 a month.

But for kids like Seth, who aren't big on sitting still? You might want to wait a bit before you sign them up.
This review was written on behalf of MomCentral.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What a circus!


"Ladies and Gentlemen. Children of all ages. Welcome. To the greatest show on earth!"

You know what I'm talking about, right? The circus! The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Baby’s Circus to be exact.

And now, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey have created a little something called "Baby's First Circus". The program was created with U.S. parents and babies (12 months old and younger) in mind. If you go to the Ringling Bros site, you can sign up to receive a voucher for a free ticket to any Ringling Bros. performance, (valid for any date, any place) as well as a personalized certificate for baby. Sign up the older kiddos and they get a free personalized Ringling Bros. commemorative certificate. Visit the site to participate.

Thanks to the peeps at MomCentral, you an get a 20% discount code for Ringling Bros. performance coming your way. Enter code: MCC. (The code is valid for the circus shows in the following cities:)

Indianapolis, IN - Sept. 4-7, 2008
Kansas City, MO - Sept. 10-14, 2008
Grand Rapids, MI - Sept. 18-21, 2008
Denver, CO - Oct. 2-13, 2008
Boston, MA – Oct. 8-13, 2008
Cleveland, OH - Oct. 24 - Nov. 2
Chicago, IL - Nov. 6 - 30, 2008
St. Louis, MO - Nov. 6-9, 2008
Auburn Hills, MI - Nov. 12 - 16, 2008
Highland Heights, KY - Feb 27 - Mar. 1, 2009
Cincinnati, OH - Mar. 4 - 8, 2008

Don't forget to check out their website. (We had to keep refreshing the main page because my son loves the train and music!) Click on the "Amazing Animals" section then over to various animals featured to get great factoids. Or spend some time in the "Fun Zone" and play "Clown Cannon" or "CircusFit".

This post was written on behalf of MomCentral.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Do the right thing

I'd never heard of the Liberty Mutual Responsibility Project until recently through MomCentral. But it sounded interesting. So I took a gander.

According to the website, the project was created after an overwhelming response to a Liberty Mutual commercial about the kindness of strangers. According to the site, "we thought, if one TV spot from Liberty Mutual can get people thinking and talking about responsibility, imagine what could happen if we went a step further? So we created a series of short films, and this website, as an exploration of what it means to do the right thing."

My son and I looked at the site together, watching a few of the shorts. Sometimes the concept of "responsibility" can be difficult to describe. But the site did get us talking. The site lists questions you can ask your child or debate with others and it reinforced some of the ideas we've talked about.

We especially liked "Hot Seat." Anyone who's worked in an office can relate and will get a giggle out of this animated tale of office bunnies who, upon finding themselves in possession of a broken office chair sneakily pawn the chair it off on other unsuspecting worker bunnies.

The website isn't just for parents or kids. It is for everyone. And its a pretty great idea.

This post was written on behalf of MomCentral.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Pizza Hut's new pasta (easy-peasy and cheesy!)

Our family loves Pizza Hut pizza. So when offered a chance to try their newest pasta dish, "Premium Bacon, Mac 'n Cheese", I was very excited. I mean, who doesn't like free food? Especially when there is minimal clean-up afterwards?

We'd tried another pasta dish by Pizza Hut a few months back. It was ok. But we were especially interested in this newest product. You see, our son LOVES mac 'n cheese from a certain restaurant that the hubby and I despise. We only go there so "the boy" can eat his weight in macaroni. But the quality of the rest of the food the restaurant produces is getting so crappy that we've stopped going there all together. We were hoping he'd love this dish as much or more.

But he didn't. He ate a few bites then whined. (This is not uncommon so Pizza Hut, don't take it personally.) He's not used to the bacon taste. And that's a bummer because the hubby and I really liked this dish. Its very cheesy and the bacon gives it a very nice flavor. We think this boy is just plain strange. Really. Who doesn't like bacon?

This is a great dish to get when you have a casual party and don't want to cook. Order up a few pizzas, a few pasta dishes and make a salad. Easy Peasy. Or for those little kids who love hot dogs and macaroni? Cut up a few dogs and serve mixed in with the cheesy pasta. If you've got little bacon lovers in your family (who also love cheesy noodles) this is a good choice.

The Tuscan pastas are $12.99. The special comes with five breadsticks and feeds a family of four. (Although if you have teen boys who really like pasta? You'd better order an extra pan.)

WIN A GIFT CARD FOR SOME FREE PASTA FROM PIZZA HUT!
Leave a comment here or on my main blog between now and Tuesday letting me know you're interested. I'll choose three winners and Pizza Hut will send you the gift certificate!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Greenlight Greenworks!

Within the past few years there's been a growing focus on energy and waste conservation. Personally? Its uplifting to see that people AND corporations are thinking more about the earth. And they're doing so daily, not just every April 22.

Clorox recently debuted a line of natural cleaners, that according to their website, are "made using plant-based ingredients derived from coconuts, as well as essential oils. The products are formulated using biodegradable ingredients, are packaged in bottles that can be recycled and not tested on animals."

Thanks to MomCentral, I was recently sent a sample of the Green Works Natural Dishwashing Liquid. (Although they also manufacture an all-purpose cleaner, a glass cleaner, and toilet bowl cleaner.)

The site claims the dishwashing liquid will cut through greasy messes as well as cooked/baked-on foods. Plus, the dishwashing liquid is available in five scents: Original, Water Lily, Simply Clear, Lemon and Tangerine. (I was sent the Original scent.)

I do like the clean, fresh scent of the Original. For some reason I was expecting a watery consistency, but it feels like other dishwashing liquids. As for cleaning power? Being that I don't do much cooking or baking (the stove and oven don't get much use at our house. But our microwave sure does! Frozen, store-bought lasagna, anyone?), I'm rarely standing over the sink, scrubbing pots. But nonethess, I have gotten to test out this product on a few saucy, greasy messes.

The verdict? I likey! It did cut through the gross. My dishes were squeaky clean with little effort. In fact, I like it better than the other brands I've been using (cough, Ivory, cough, Dawn). I also really like that, according to Clorox's website, "the product line has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for using environmentally preferable chemistry, and carry the EPA’s “Design for Environment” certification logo."

Green Works™ Products The Green Works products range in price from $2.99 to $3.59:

To view their site (which includes tips for "going green", an ingredient list, as well as the science behind this new line of Clorox products.) click HERE.


The review written on behalf of MomCentral.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Josh-approved underwear

Josh, Seth's best friend, is very sweet kid. As we've gotten to know Josh (and his awesome mom, Kathy) over the years, we've learned that Josh's family refers to him as "Hugh" (Hefner) because the child spends more time in his jammies and underwear than his regular clothes.

The boy will strip down as soon as he gets home from school or a playdate. Even when he and Seth get together for playdates, they often change into jammies within the first 20 minutes of getting together.

But recently, Josh's mom was going crazy. Josh is very particular about his jammies and his underwear. (How the clothing fits, the feel of the fabric and whether there are any itchy tags rubbing against his skin.) It was getting to a point where he hated wearing underwear and his mom was buying all sorts of types and brands to accommodate him. (The boy was going commando alot. And being that school is starting soon, she was getting a bit nervous.) So when we got the Hanes package of boxers, boxer briefs and socks, I gave her a pack of the Hanes Classics Tartan Boys Boxers with the Comfort Soft Waistband and said, "Let me know how they work."

According to his mom, Josh is liking the Hanes boxers. The fabric is soft. And while Josh's biggest complaint with the other brands was an ill-fitting waistband, (either too tight or too loose) and not enough room in the thigh area, he didn't experience that problem with the Hanes boxers. In fact, his mom says he fit could easily move around in them. In other words, Josh-tested and Josh-approved. Hanes delivers on their "Comfort Fit Promise". And that's no small-feat.

The deal worked out perfectly because Seth got the Hanes Tagless Boys' Knit Boxers with Comfort Soft Waistband and is quite happy with the fit, colors, and feel of the fabric. Oh and neither type of underwear gaps -- no matter how much they move around.

As for the socks? Well, we've tried those once or twice. With summer in St. Louis, getting Seth to wear socks is alot like trying to give a cat a bath. We're saving those for when the temperature gets a bit cooler.

This review was written on behalf of Parent Bloggers Network.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Tag! You're it! (And Savvy too)

When Seth was almost three he still wasn't talking. Nor sleeping through the night. Nor able to self soothe. He seemed a bit clumsy and would freak out over the slightest thing, then scream for at least 25 minutes a stretch (many, many times a day). He was highly sensitive to temperatures. And water? And hair cuts? Nightmare.
When I brought some of these issues up to seasoned parents, they'd sort of blow me off and tell me it was normal behavior. A part of me felt like something was askew. I wasn't around kids much so I wasn't sure what was normal behavior versus the something to be alarmed over.

The point? I was totally lost on whether certain behaviors were normal toddler-type behavior or whether they warranted some intervention. It would have been a HUGE help (and comfort) having a website like SavvyQuiz around years ago.

Savvy Quiz is simple and direct. That tan box you see in my sidebar? That's it. You can take quick quizzes, answering various questions to gauge your child's progress. And they are questions I don't remember ever being asked or addressed by the books I'd check. They can measure your child's language development not just only by the vocabulary but by HOW your child communicates. (Example, can you child whisper? Does he or she emphasize certain words when speaking?) And its not just a test for language - there are tests for mathematics, science, social skills, time & space and movement! Oh and you can always save your results and get back to the site when you need to.

If I would have had this resource years ago, I would have been able to print out his answers to various questions within the eight categories. I think this would have been a huge help to the speech therapist and occupational therapists as they would have had a "yard stick" of where Seth was and could have skipped some of the more mundane testing.

But I'm not here just to sing the praises of the Savvy Quiz, (although I'd be happy to devote another thousand words to doing so.) I'm also here to tell you about the Leapfrog TAG website.

The Leapfrog Tag system is so cool, I don't even know where to begin. We were given a "pen" that "reads" the special books, two very popular stories as well as the software. The software (used so you can download stories into your pen) was a snap to install. No issues. Once the information regarding the story is downloaded, your child can point away. And its not just about this little pen reading the story. This little wonder pen, based on what icon your child grazes over, can ask varied questions too, thus checking on your kiddo's comprehension.

Seth loved this project. Since the voice reads once word at a time, he enjoyed not just reading the books and answering questions, but making up his own little sentences or repeating words over and over. He also was able to recognize his site words within the books and was really excited to point those out.

One of the many conversations we had centered around the product, "Hey mom! The computer said, "but." (And then he'd laugh hysterically and swipe over the word again and again and again.)

With all "buts" aside, this is one of those toys he's used quite a bit. But (there's that word again!) that's no surprise because we've cultivated quite a collection of Leap Frog toys over the years. The product definitely earned a "best products reviewed in '08" stamp in our book.

This review was written on behalf of the Parent Bloggers Network. To see more reviews, visit their site.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Poised for anything

Last year I took my little guy to one of those inflatable playground type places. And when they asked if I'd be jumping, I was all, "Yeehaw. If adults can jump, count me in!" So we get to jumping and whoops -- a bit of leakage. I'm thinking, "Eh. No problem. Go to the bathroom, pee, get back on the jumpy-thingee."

But again, the same thing happened. Its not like I do alot of jumping in my day-to-day life. So I was a bit surprised by this. And guess what? I spent the rest of the visit making up excuses as to why mommy couldn't do anymore jumping -- not like a little boy is going to understand that a mom's bladder gets totally beaten up during pregnancy and often times doesn't make a full recovery.

When it comes to bladder leakage, I've shrugged it off and figured it was just a part of life for us moms. Some have it worse than others. But I've never thought it was something to be embarrassed about. But in talking to other women about this issue? I was amazed to find out this is an incredibly awkward subject for some. In fact, some women experience painful intercourse and pain during bowel movements as well as leakage.

And that's why MomCentral and Poise have teamed up. They are hoping that if enough of us share our stories, others won't feel so alone. And the subject of incontinence won't be the taboo subject it is.

In fact, click on this link to hear Linda's story. She shares some very personal health information. (And mentions that her doctors blew her off for YEARS before she was able to get help. Hey. I can relate to that!) She's the winner of the first ever Poise Passion Award. (She's the middle person in that photo.)

Linda's willingness to talk about her experience and her message of "there IS something you can do about this" is uplifting and inspirational. For more information on bladder control issues and Poise products, visit their website.


This post was written on behalf of MomCentral.