Thursday, December 24, 2009

crayola globe winner!

congratulations karin!  your kids will be the recipients of the crayola color explosion glow dome!  i hope they enjoy it!  send me your address as soon as possible and i will get that in the mail to you!

merry christmas, everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

crystal light winner!!

congratulations to mimi for winning the crystal light giveaway!  some delicious crystal light samples will be on their way to you!

for everyone else, let crystal light inspire you to make a healthy change!

Friday, December 18, 2009

get on the coal train railroad!

we have a new favorite cd around here, and it couldn't have come at a better time.  between an arthur story and the jackson 5, i thought that i might just go insane with the repetition.

just in the nick of time for my sanity's sake, we received a copy of coal train railroad to review.  as soon as i put it in the player, tate started nodding his head in time to the music.  it wasn't long before both he and tessa were gettin' groovy, dancing all around and trying to sing along with the songs. 

when it comes to tate, you cannot go wrong with anything railroad and this album has two songs about trains to keep him happy, but all of the songs are favorites for all 5 of us.  i would say this is a great way to introduce your kids to jazz.  the lyrics are catchy--fun for parents and kids both.  i know you hear this on almost every review of a kid's cd but i can honestly say that this is one cd i'm happy to listen to over and over, even when my kids aren't around. 

even as i'm sitting here trying to get this done, tate is begging me to turn on the "railroad songs."  maybe he should become a spokesman for the album!

here's the good news:  coal train railroad ships daily at $10 apiece or 5 cds for $40.  or, if you prefer, this album will go live on itunes on christmas day.

if you want to check it out before ordering, noisetrade has two tracks available; for free if you recommend the album to five other people, or if you'd rather not, for whatever money you would like to contribute.  if that seems too complicated, you can also check out the coal train railroad youtube station here, which shows kids dancing along to the songs from the album.

if you are in the nashville area, you can also take advantage of two free concerts at ugly mugs, saturday, January 2 at 4 pm, or at fairy tales, books and more, saturday, january 23 from 10:30 to 12 noon.

i honestly feel like i can highly recommend this cd to any of you parents or people looking for gifts for parents.  it is definitely an album the whole family can enjoy...

i received a free copy of this cd for review purposes from katy bowser herself. nevertheless, the opinions expressed here are purely my own.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

crayola holiday ideas (and giveaway)

if you are anything like me, you have been putting off your christmas shopping.  i honestly cannot believe that there are only 8 days until christmas (and fewer for me because we are celebrating early this year).   yikes!

if you are looking for ideas for your children or other people's children still, i have some great ideas for you.  i think one can never go wrong giving crayola products.  no matter how many crayons, markers and colored pencils we have, there is nothing like opening up a new box of crayons and taking a deep whiff of that new crayon smell.

crayola has even more than that to offer kids this year, however.  we were all excited to try out three new products from crayola, which worked perfectly because each of my three kids got to try out something new.

for tate, we experimented with the crayola beginnings color me a song.  this is basically a coloring station that has a pressure-sensitive board.  by choosing any combination of drum, trumpet, piano or guitar buttons, kids can color along to the music.  the music picks up tempo when your coloring is faster, and slows down in tempo when the coloring moves slower.  tate really enjoyed pushing the different buttons to get different combinations of music.  he and tessa both enjoyed working on their pictures in time to the music.  the color me a songCrayola Glow Station can create with Light!
margin: 0px ! important;" width="1" /> was named "toy of the year" by familyfun magazine and was an american baby magazine pick for "best toys of the year.  it is recommended for kids 24 months and up and suggested retail price is $24.99.

tessa may have ended up with everybody's favorite:  the  crayola glow station. this is a light-sensitive canvas that comes with a light wand. kids can use the light wand on the canvas to draw freehand or use stencils and textures sheets (included) to draw animals or other designs. there is also a diamond-shaped tip to attach to the pen for making a starburst design. the drawings fade with time so the canvas can be used again and again. this is by far everyone's favorite to play with (even bill wanted to have a turn!). drawing with light is so different; the kids really wanted to spend the most time with this toy. my only caveat is that it needs to be fairly dark to get the most enjoyment out of it (this hasn't been too hard in cloudy chicago!). i've noticed that there is now a day and night glow station that may remedy this issue. the other thing is that it is recommended for ages six and up. both tessa and tate needed a lot of reminders not to scratch the canvas with the diamond-tip so this is something to keep in mind. the crayola glow station retails for $29.99 (but can be found for $14.99 here).

zoe is very creative and loves new opportunities to express herself so she was quite excited to experiment with the  crayola color explosion glow dome.  this toy comes with two coloring surfaces:  a flat one for inside the dome to color a more detailed picture on.  then kids can color coordinating shapes and images on the dome itself.  when finished, turn off the lights, and flip the switch to watch your drawings glow and move.  kids can control the spinning of the dome for slow, medium or "warp" speed.  the dome comes with two tracing pictures, an underwater scene and a spaceship scene.  fish and bubbles or stars and planets can rotate around a diver with a treasure chest or a spaceship.  personally, i thought this one sounded more exciting than it turned out to be, but zoe really enjoyed creating new scenes with it and did not seem at all disillusioned or disappointed.  the crayola color explosion glow dome is also recommended for ages 6 and up and it retails for $29.99 (but currently costs a lot more than that here).

the really fun news is that i have one crayola color explosion glow dome to giveaway to one of you who are willing to tell me what you most want from santa this year. for a second entry, you can check out crayola's give the gift of creativity sweepstakes. fill out a wish list for your child to enter and then come back here to tell me what you chose from the wish list to think about giving to your child. this giveaway is for u.s. residents only. i will draw a winner on christmas eve.

we were thankful to receive one of each of these three products to try out at home for this review.  i have received no other compensation for this review.  thank you to crayola and myblogspark for the opportunity to give these products to my children and to write this review.  the opinions expressed here are purely my own.  also, if you use my links to amazon to purchase one of these products, they may give me a small token of gratitude as well.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

crystal light: make a delicious change (giveaway)

if there is one thing i have found to be true when i am pregnant, it is that things just don't taste as good as they do when i'm not pregnant.  even water, which supposedly has no taste, tastes so terrible to me that it is hard for me to drink it.  this is all the worse because, of course, pregnant people are supposed to drink more water than everyone else.  sometimes i realize i am incredibly thirsty but when i try to drink i can't stand the taste of the water.

crystal light wants to help people like me do better about drinking as much water as they should.  on their website, they have a water way challenge for you to take.  you can take an assessment to see if you drink enough water each day (i already knew i did not!).  when you commit to drinking enough water each day, you can participate in crystal light's commitment to help provide enough water globally.  not only do they help water taste better, they have changed their packaging to use 250 tons less packaging to deliver the same great taste.

here's something i bet you didn't know: crystal light comes in over 30 sugar-free flavors including their new skin essentials drink mixes which help nourish skin with lutein and zeaxanthin from a natural plant extract, in addition to vitamins a, c and e.

check out the website and take the water way challenge.  come back here and tell me how many answers you got right.  your comment will be your entry to win a variety pack of crystal light ($15 value!).  next wednesday i will announce a winner.

although i look forward to receiving a variety pack from crystal light in january, i have in no other way been compensated for this review.  the opinions expressed here are purely my own.

we have a winner!!

congratulations thea!!  i'm sure your new baby will be glad to get
the teddy bear and the delicious new gerber products!  

Monday, December 7, 2009

gerber food products (and giveaway)

whenever i go grocery shopping, i feel like i am on a "mission: impossible" as i try to pick the healthiest options for my family while trying to stick to our budget. who knew that high fructose corn syrup could lurk in whole wheat bread? how on earth can i find a tasty snack food that provides a good source of whole grains? and don't even get me started on trying to load them up with DHA when they don't like fish (and i'm not particularly fond of it myself).

once again, gerber has anticipated my needs, at least the needs i will have after this baby comes. they have two new offerings they want you to know about that can assist you in meeting some of these health needs that we are growing more and more aware of these days.

gerber now offers an "8 grains and yogurt cereal." would you believe this cereal is made with 8 grains, some of which my kids  have never tried? wheat, barley, rye, corn, sorghum, rice, millet and oat. as if that weren't amazing enough, it also helps introduce your baby to the flavor of yogurt. the cereal is made with real yogurt and contains live and active cultures. what could be better for your baby's digestive system? this cereal is also a great source of iron for healthy mental development.

once you and your baby have mastered cereal, of course it is time to start thinking about fruits and vegetables.  once again, gerber has thought of a way for you to pack as much nutrition into a single serving as possible.  gerber's dha and antioxidant purees are now available.  they are made with 100% natural fruits and vegetables and come in six varieties:  banana mango, apple blackberry, apples with summer peaches, banana pineapple orange medley, farmer's market vegetable blend and butternut squash and harvest apples.  these flavors sound so tasty and are so packed with vitamins, i might just have to start eating them myself!  the purees have 18mg of dha per serving to help support brain and eye development.  they are also a good source of vitamin a or vitamin c.

here's some good news:  gerber is giving away a prize pack that includes samples of these two products, a gerber teddy bear and a recipe tin.  if this is something you might be interested in, either for yourself or someone else, leave a comment below telling me your biggest challenge in trying to feed your kids healthy food.  i will pick a winner (from the united states only) next monday, december 14.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

"visions of sugarplums: a collection of christmas cookery" review

i don't know what christmas traditions you have at your house, but it seems like a lot of our traditions around here get tied in with food.  we have to have hot chocolate when we watch rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer and when we decorate the tree.  we have to make cookies with frosting every year, whether they are sugar cookies or gingerbread cookies.  we have to make gift boxes with a variety of our favorite christmas treats.  we can't wait to sample mimi's cranberry-apple crumble at our tennessee christmas and grandma's egg casserole in michigan.

if food is an integral part of your christmas celebration, you might enjoy the christmas recipes found in the e-book, visions of sugarplums: a collection of christmas cookery.  i don't have much confidence in my cooking abilities but i am always happy to explore new recipes and try to find something that is not only simple to make but also has enough "wow" factor to be taken to the various parties and get-togethers that seem to go along with christmas.

if you download visions of sugarplums: a collection of christmas cookery from a dusty frame ($7), you will receive 64 pages of recipes that are both old and beloved ("puppy chow" is called "donkey chow" in this book) and new and tempting (there is a cranberry dip that has mustard in it that has me very, very curious!).my kids are very excited to sample the gingerbread waffles and i would like to add mediterranean meatballs to our meal rotation.  many of the recipes are ones that we have made in the past but it is nice now to have all our christmas favorites collected in one place, instead of trying to flip through all my various cookbooks trying to find which cookbook has the right recipe.

a few things i appreciate about this cookbook is that, for the most part, the recipes call for ingredients that i already have on hand or are not hard to find in grocery stores.  a big turn-off for me when i look at a cookbook is when i know i will have to search high and low throughout the grocery store for a particular ingredient and even then may come up empty-handed.  this is definitely not the case with the majority of the recipes in this cookbook.

another positive factor is the christmas quotes and activity ideas that lizzie has included throughout the pages of recipes and in a special section at the end of the book.  reading the quotes and thinking about ways to integrate traditions from around the world with my kids does as much to put me in a christmas frame of mind as mentally tasting the food in the recipes.

one caveat is that i think $7 is more money than i would like to spend for an e-book.  i am much more in favor of a book that i can carry right into the kitchen with me and keep on my cookbook shelf.  of course, the nice thing about an e-book is that if the kids spill vanilla all over my printed pages, i can very easily go print another copy!

if you are looking for something to add to your family's christmas celebration and some new traditions to introduce to your kids, visions of sugarplums: a collection of christmas cookery might be something for you to explore this holiday season.

this is a mamabuzz review.  i received a free copy of this e-book to download from a dusty frame.  i have in no other way been compensated for this review and the opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

simply fabulous blogger templates

every time i've changed my blog template, i have used a simply fabulous blogger template by lena toews. i have looked other places on the internet, but hers are the ones i always gravitate toward. there are so many fabulous choices; i usually have a hard time picking one.

if you are looking for a fun, new template for your blog, i highly recommend you head over here and take a look. many of her choices are free for the taking. but you might want to think of another way to give this holiday season.  she also provides tutorials to make sure that you don't get stuck as you try to switch over your template.

after many struggles with infertility, lena has decided to use her artistic gifts to help her family raise money toward adoption. to that end, she has made many premade templates available for a $5 donation. this money goes toward her family's mission to add a third child to their family.

head over here and take a look at what you find. you'll be glad you did!

Monday, November 30, 2009

typing instructor for kids review

when i was working out my high school class schedule, my mom insisted that i had to take typing class, even though the typing teacher was notoriously difficult (in other words, she rarely gave out an "a").  much against my own wishes, i suffered through the class that probably had the biggest impact in terms of preparing me for college.  being able to type is a skill that is essential, especially in the computer age.

of course, zoe really should be learning to type now, instead of waiting for a high school class.  she has computer classes at school, she occasionally plays a game on the computer and she emails a pen pal and family as often as she can.  she already tries to place her hands in the right place and remember where the letters are but it is a slow and laborious process for her.

that is why i was so excited to have an opportunity to try out timberdoodle's typing instructor for kids.  although timberdoodle is most known for homeschool supplies, i have found that they have a wide selection of educational games and toys that our kids would really love for christmas or birthdays (hint, hint!).

here is what timberdoodle has to say about the typing program for kids:
Using proven typing techniques, children will master the keyboard while journeying with Toby and Lafitte to five imaginative lands where they learn proper typing techniques and build keyboarding skills. Just choose a Typing Plan, set a word-per-minute goal, and as your child explores Typer Island he will learn typing along the way. The engaging lessons and exercises teach children important typing skills, including speed and accuracy. If your children find your old typing program boring, and if you are looking for the right balance of education, entertainment, and motivation in a typing program, then consider the award-winning Typing Instructor for Kids 4.0.
This latest version of the interactive fiction typing game, Typing Instructor for Kids 4.0, offers thirteen action-packed, multi-level games; graduated drills and lesson plans; hundreds of activities, exercises, and tests; and bilingual learning in English and Spanish.

zoe, of course, was very excited about the new program.  she will use any excuse she can to play on the computer.  i was just thankful to have something to offer her that will benefit her for many years to come.  she likes the different challenges and games and is starting to make some progress in her typing ability.

if i had it to do over again, i would have chosen the typing instructor platinum for macs.  she has to use the program we have now on bill's laptop and i think it would benefit her more if she were using a real keyboard and sitting at our desk.  i thought at first that the mac program was for adults instead of kids but the ages listed in the catalog are for 5+.  i like the graphics and games available for the typing instructor platinum better as well.  if you have a pc and want a more deluxe version of the typing program, there is also a typing instructor deluxe version 17 available for pcs.  this also seems to have nicer graphics and more games to choose from. i think that this version we have is good for now, and she is certainly quite pleased with it, but i would probably choose to spend a little bit more money to get the program that can grow with her more easily.

all three are available and on sale now from timberdoodle.  the kids version is on sale for $8.  the mac version is available for $16, and the deluxe version is on sale for $9.95.

for the people who think to check this kind of stuff, here are the system requirements for each program:

Mac System Requirements
PowerPC G4, G5 or Intel Core Duo processor; 800 MHz processor or higher • Mac OS X 10.4.6 10.5 • CD-ROM Drive • 580 MB Hard Drive space • Video card with 32 MB of video RAM • 1024 X 768 resolution • Speakers
Internet Connection Recommended

Windows System Requirements
Pentium® 133 PC or Higher • Microsoft Windows 7, Vista, XP, ME, 2000, or 98 • 50 MB RAM available • 580 MB Hard Drive space (full install) • Double speed CD-ROM Drive • 800 x 600 16 Bit or higher display • 16-bit Sound Card • Speakers or Headphones • Mouse
Recommended: Internet Connection
Required for Typing Games: DirectX® 8 - compatible video card

Kid's Version System Requirements
Pentium® class PC or higher • Microsoft® Windows® Vista, XP or 2000 • 480 MB Hard Disk Space Available • 128 MB RAM • CD-ROM Drive • 800 x 600, 16-Bit Color Display • Sound Card • Speakers or Headphones • Mouse • DirectX®8 Compatible Video

 if you have been looking for a fun and educational way to teach your kids typing, i think these programs offer great possibilities at very affordable prices.

for this mamabuzz review, i was provided with a free copy of the typing instructor for kids program from timberdoodle.  i was in no other way compensated for this review and the opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

sometimes things just don't go the way you plan...

so all day on monday i waited to hear from the guy at tyndale who was going to be involved with "comment interaction" for my blog.  and waited and waited and waited.  i'm not exactly sure what happened there.  i emailed tyndale and asked and still didn't hear from the guy.

i apologize that i won't be able to answer your questions myself (and they were such good questions!).  but i don't want to wait any longer to let you know who won the free copy of the bible.

congratulations amy!  i will be sending you a certificate for a copy of the mosaic bible

for the rest of you, i would highly recommend that you add this bible to your christmas list.  you will not be sorry.  we are going to start with the readings for advent for our family devotions.  i'll keep you updated on how that goes and what the kids think...

again, i received a free copy of this bible from tyndale to review.  i also received a certificate to give one away.  if you buy this bible through my link to amazon, amazon has agreed to give me a small remuneration.  otherwise, i have not been compensated for this post and all opinions expressed here are purely my own.

Monday, November 23, 2009

40 years of sesame street? can it be?

i remember when sesame street celebrated 35 years.  surely it hasn't been five years already?

i have watched disney movies come and go and come again and then get locked in the vaults.  our family has pretty much been content to let them get locked up tight.  when i heard about the sesame street 40 year dvd set, however, i knew that this was one set of dvds i wanted our family to own.

i was very excited, therefore, to receive sesame street: 40 years of sunny days in the mail.  tate and i were the only ones home when they arrived, and we could hardly wait to see what we could see.  who can beat watching the original "rubber duckie" song sung the way only jim henson as ernie can sing it?

the dvd set comes with 2 dvds that have all the best clips and video from the last 40 years.  i had fun reminiscing as we watched scenes from my early years of sesame street.  many of them were ones i remembered and would try to tell the girls about but seeing the actual video seemed more enjoyable to them then me trying to explain it (go figure!).

tate was able to get his fill of elmo, cookie monster, big bird, bert and ernie.  it was interesting to see the transformation of elmo from an anything monster to the character we know and love today.  we got to see maria and luis get married, big bird's wrecked nest, the introduction of snuffy, telly monster when he was zoned into television and many, many other favorite scenes.  my favorite was bert "doing the pigeon" dance.  bill likes watching ernie teach bert how to catch fish.

the dvd set also includes a book that gives lots of background information about the show.  i learned a great deal of fascinating trivia.  did you know that frank oz started as ernie and jim henson was bert until they realized they made a better comic duo when they switched characters?  i had no idea that bob was a pop superstar in japan known as bobu magulath.

i was also excited to learn about some of the latest additions to the show, including a cgi animation of "abby's flying fairy school" and a claymation dramatization of "bert and ernie's great adventures."

if you have missed hearing the original characters in jim henson's voice and have wanted to share some of your favorite childhood memories of sesame street with your kids, this is definitely a dvd set you won't want to miss.  if your kids wish sesame street was available 24 hours a day, sesame street: 40 years of sunny days will be a smash hit for a christmas gift.

i received a free copy of this dvd set from bhimpact press and genius entertainment.  i have in no other way been compensated for this review and the opinions expressed here are completely my own.  if you order this collection through my link to amazon, amazon has promised to give me a small remuneration.

lots of help for itchy eyes...a visine review

as we start to get ready to travel for the holidays, i always have one additional factor to think about, besides just packing enough underwear for five people. even if we manage not to get sick, all of us always seem to be affected by allergies. for some reason, as clean as all our relatives are (!), we always seem to connect with some trigger that sets off the itchy eyes, sneezing and runny nose.

i can always tell when my allergies are starting to affect me because my eyes get so itchy i can hardly stand it. sometimes it makes me feel like i am going to go absolutely crazy.

with this in mind, i was quite excited to try out some new products by visine.   visine totality multi-symptom relief is an over-the-counter eye drop that is the only one formulated to take care of seven symptoms of eye irritation:  red, burning, watery, itchy, gritty, dry and irritated eyes.  whether your eye irritation is caused by dust, dry air, eye strain and irritants from both indoors and outdoors.  sometimes when you shop for eye drops, you feel like you have to choose between a drop for red eyes, one for allergies and one for dry eyes.  now you can just buy this "one-stop shop" for all your symptoms.  you can find visine totality multi-symptom relief drops at food, drug and mass merchandisers for $6.99 (bottles are 1/2 fl. oz. so you can even carry it on the airplane for in-flight relief!).

if you prefer to narrow your scope, visine also now has a drop for all-day itch relief of allergy eyes.  whether your itchiness comes from pollen, ragweed, grass, animal hair or dander, this drop is formulated to provide soothing relief for your eyes for up to 12 hours.

if the only time you have red eyes is when you try to wash off your make-up at night, visine has a solution available for you too.  now you can purchase visine total eye soothing wipes.  i have to admit that i usually wake up with raccoon eyes because i don't take the time to wash my makeup off carefully.  it seems like whenever i do the work to wash off my eyes, i end up getting soap in them.  the visine total eyes soothing wipes are great because they really do soothe your eyes while cleansing the makeup and even dander and pollen from around your eyes.  they have eight moisturizers, a cooling agent as well as a gentle cleanser.  they are safe to use if you have contacts or sensitive eyes.  they are a great travel item as well for the gym or other places where it is harder to be able to wash your face.  i have loved using these because my eye gets incredibly clean yet remains completely irritation-free.  these are also available at food, drug and mass merchandisers for $6.99 for 30 wipes.

if either of these drops and/or the wipes sound like something you are interested in, visine has a special offer on their website available now. you can get $3 off any of the visine products listed here or $2 off any other visine product.

i am definitely going to make sure the drops and the wipes make it into our luggage as we travel this holiday season. they may not ward off the flu, but at least my eyes will be comfortable!

visine provided each of the three products listed above to me for free.  i have not in any other way been compensated for this review and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own.  

Friday, November 20, 2009

ultimate cleaning cloth review

there is nothing like putting a cleaning cloth to the ultimate test on your very first try.  this is exactly what i did.  we have been working like dogs trying to get zoe moved into her own room, tate moved in with tessa and just plain rearranging and reorganizing to make everything fit in our small space.  as i was working on the kids' rooms, i realized just how dirty the windows were in their rooms and even more so in the kitchen.  i'm fairly certain the windows haven't been washed for even longer than the two years we've been here.  windows seem to be one of those fuzzy areas when renting:  are they the landlord's responsibility or ours?  i'm starting to think that, at least from our landlord's perspective, they are ours.

i grabbed my brand new ultimate cleaning cloth ($6.00) to see if it could really handle the job.  i wet the cloth completely, folded into fourths and put it into action.  the girls' window had weeks-old drawings with crayola window markers, in addition to the years-old dirt collected there.  the window came clean with a minimum of elbow grease and surprisingly no streaks.  i refolded the cloth and headed toward the filthy kitchen windows.  these had a collection of two years worth of handprints in addition to the dirt and grime both inside and out.  once again, i found myself amazed at how easy it was to clean off the window without leaving streaks.  i did have to refold the cloth a couple more times for those two windows.

the ultimate cleaning cloth can also be used with your swiffer mop so you don't have to keep buying the swiffer pads or the cleaning spray. it makes a great dust cloth, working as well on your dusty bookcases as on your tvs, computers and other appliances.

my only disappointment was that i wasn't able to get that far in my cleaning with just the one cloth.  i would definitely need more if i want to clean my whole house with the ultimate cleaning cloth then i should probably invest in a few more. since the cloth works so well without any other cleaning product (like window cleaner) then it seems like an investment to consider making.  also, i washed my cloth after i was done in the washing machine and i can't say it looks like it did when i got it in the mail.  it still seems to clean as effectively however.

here are some answers to your questions about the ultimate cleaning cloth: "the ultimate cloth is eco-friendly solution for homes as well as a money and time saver. the ultimate cloth is a brand new technology – in fact, it is the only cloth to receive a new patent in the last 25 years. the ultimate cloth is a simple, green and effective one-step cleaning process. the ultimate cloth cleans any hard surface – glass, wood, granite, stainless steel and many more – with just water! no longer do you have to use harsh chemicals in your home, nor do you need spend hundreds of dollars per year buying them. the ultimate cloth has been lab tested to remove 96% of bacteria, without the use of chemicals and can cut 50% off your cleaning time. the ultimate cloth is truly the ultimate in green cleaning."

here's some good news for you. you don't have to take my word for the cleaning powers of the ultimate cleaning cloth; you can get your own free ultimate cleaning cloth to try out and see for yourself. just follow the ultimate cleaning cloth on twitter or become a fan on facebook. there you will learn how to get your own free ultimate cleaning cloth sent to your home.

this is a mamabuzz review.  i received a free ultimate cleaning cloth from ultimate cloth america for this review.  the views expressed here are completely my own, however.  also, i took that picture off their website.  even with my hard work, our windows don't look like that just because they are old windows.  also, i don't think my arm looks that fit and toned!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

a little clarification...

bill was reading what i said about the tyndale nlt mosaic Bible. he wondered who my guest blogger was, which made me realize that i didn't make it clear that my guest is actually someone from tyndale who is involved in the publication of and publicity for the Bible. this is really a great opportunity to ask someone with a lot of knowledge any question you have about this particular Bible. not only do you have a chance to learn anything and everything you ever wanted to know, you will be entered for a chance to win your very own free copy.

so head on over to my post about this Bible before november 23 and leave your question there to be entered to win...

police blockade game review - fun for the whole family!

Police Blockadeif ever a game was a life-saver, police blockade was it.  we had to make four train trips this weekend to visit our friends staying downtown.  i threw it in the backpack thinking it might keep zoe entertained for at least a few minutes on the long train ride. 

i explained to her that it is a 'thinking game' which means that if you don't get it right away, you can't get frustrated and give up!  we opened up the package and set up the buildings to start the game.  the premise is that a car has been stolen and your job is to block in the stolen car with police cars so that it can't get away.

i will admit that these are exactly the kind of games i didn't like growing up.  i just didn't want to spend the time working out a solution that i knew was out there somewhere so why did i need to spend my time finding it?  now these are the kind of games i love to spend my time on.  somehow being able to put at least one thing in my life into order is very satisfying.  i wondered which route zoe would take. 

she loves this game.  we worked together on the first couple and then she started working them out on their own.  before i knew it, she had worked her way halfway through the beginner level.  there are four levels of puzzles for a total of 60 different challenges so i'm sure there will be plenty of opportunity for her to be occupied in the next few years.

after watching us for a little while, bill and the other kids wanted to get involved.  we ended up switching back and forth.  zoe and i would do a puzzle then pass it off to bill and tessa and tate to see if they could figure out the solution to the puzzle as quickly as we had (bill wanted me to admit that he had a little bit of a handicap with his two helpers!).

now i can hardly get the game back to play a few rounds myself.  between bill and zoe, the puzzle is never availalble anymore. i'm thinking that police blockade is going to be making car trips with us, keeping zoe occupied during naptime, making bill feel smart and even entertaining tessa and tate. plus, it seems to be sturdily constructed enough to be something we will pass down to tessa and tate to use when they get older.

this game is available from timberdoodle (published by educational insights) which specializes in homeschooling supplies and curriculum.  i think whether you are looking for something to add to your homeschool collection, or something to occupy the active brain of your child, i think for $17.75 this game is a good purchase.  so often the games i look at in the store require too much adult supervision.  this one has provided me and zoe with a good bonding opportunity, as well as giving her a feeling of success when she figures out a puzzle on her own.  as a christmas gift for your seven-year-old and up, police blockade is a great choice.

this is a mamabuzz review.  i received  the police blockade game from timberdoodle company for review.  i have in no other way been compensated for this review and the opinions expressed here are purely my own.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

little spirit:christmas in new york review

if you are the kind of family that likes to have a whole pile of christmas videos to watch leading up to christmas, you might want to givelittle spirit: christmas in new yorka look.

the context of the movie is two girls who have to go stay with their grandparents while their parents try to "work things out." this is the part that was a little troubling to me. i really hate for my kids to be exposed to anything that would raise concerns about the the possibilities of us remaining married. a taxi driver determined to have them for customers is given the responsibility of taking them across town.

as they are stuck in traffic, he tells them the story about a boy named leo who had a very special christmas as a newcomer to new york, thanks to a magical spirit that takes him on an incredible adventure. along the way, he learns the value of reaching out and making friends with the wide variety of people in new york city.

this video has incredible talent. danny devito plays the taxi driver, lucy liu and brian williams have roles, as well as brenda song ("the suite life of zach and cody") and freddy rodriguez ("ugly betty"). faith hill and duncan sheik make some incredible musical contributions (my favorite part of the show).

i can't say that this is my favorite holiday movie of all time but the kids really like it. they have already watched it twice. what i appreciate about the movie as a parent is the lesson that friends can be found in the most unexpected places. people of all ages, nationalities and backgrounds can be our friends, if we ourselves are open to the possibility.

if you want to add another christmas show filled with good feelings to your list, you can definitely check out little spirit: christmas in new york.

i received a copy of this dvd to review from genius products and curious pictures.  i have in no other way been compensated for this review and the views and opinions expressed are entirely my own.  if you use this link to amazon to buy the dvd, amazon has agreed to give me a very, very small cut.

chop socky chooks review

if you are looking for some zany and crazy adventures for your tweens and preteens, this is the dvd series for you.  i have to admit, i felt a little bit of skepticism when i first popped this dvd into our player, but chop socky chooks, vol. 1 actually delivered.

taking place in "wasabi world," these three crime-fighting chickens work together to defeat the evil plots of dr. wasabi.  each hero, chick p, ko joe and chuckie chan, have their own gifts and skills that they use together to overcome "virtual villains, karaoke crazies, rogue robots, prehistoric predators and even fast-food fiends."

i have to admit that my favorite character of the series is the villain, dr. wasabi, which isn't generally the case.  he seems to be channeling a little mike myers as dr. evil.  his lines brought me the most laughs.

in some ways, this show is a lot like the other "super-heroes-battling-a-crackpot-evil-villain" cartoons i've seen.  but with the comedic addition of dr. wasabi and his apish toady, i think series manages to bring something different to the table.

it is still a little too flashy and intense for my children, but i do think i would be happy to let them watch and enjoy it once they get a little older.  the "violence" is not really violent, just intense.  the description i received is apt:  "full of wacky adventures and martial arts mayhem."  i think mayhem and wacky are good descriptors of what you will find in chop socky chooks, vol. 1.

i received a free copy of this dvd from twentieth century fox home entertainment.  i have in no other way been compensated for this review and the views and opinions expressed are entirely my own.  if you happen to decide to order a copy of this dvd using the links here, amazon might give me a little bit of compensation that i promise to use responsibly.

iron man: armored adventures (volume 1) review

if there was one video that bill was excited to see come in the mail it was iron man: armored adventures.  i have to admit that i felt a little thrill of excitement of my own.  some of my favorite cartoons growing up were batman and spiderman.  now i was interested to see what the adventures of tony stark would be like.

bill and i both really enjoyed this dvd.  tate would have liked it if we had let him watch more of it.  it is still a little intense for the younger set but he will definitely enjoy it when he gets older.  the story line is good, the dialogue is witty and the graphics are well-done.

the storyline differs quite a bit from the movie, if you watched it, because here tony stark is a 16-year-old genius.  he is able to come up with incredible technological marvels but an evil man wants to take his ideas and use them for weapons and war.  when his dad dies, this man takes over the company, leaving tony out of the loop.  it is up to iron man to fight tragedy, corruption and conspiracy, not only to protect his father's legacy but also to protect the world from some other evil forces that are seeking power.

he doesn't have to work alone, however, he has some great friends, jim rhodes and pepper potts who assist him with his "high-speed flight, high-tech battles and high-octane quests for justice."

my only reservations with this dvd series is that it really is better for the tween set.  i am not ready to let my kids watch them with us.  that said, i think it is a great series for tweens and adults alike! 

i received a free copy of iron man: armored adventures, vol. 1 from genius products.  i have in no other way been compensated for this review.  the views and opinions expressed here are entirely my own.  if you use my link to buy a copy from amazon, i may get some spare change from them...

Monday, November 9, 2009

"the greatest show on earth"

we had the opportunity to go to the ringling bros./barnum and baily circus last thursday thanks to the feld family. if you like the circus, you will really like "zing, zang, zoom." it has just about everything you would expect, plus a few things you wouldn't.

as far as circuses go, this is one of the best productions i have ever been to. the animals were clean and healthy-looking and actually seemed to enjoy performing (i have a few questions about the horses but i'm letting them slide). i cannot even count the times that i looked over at bill and mouthed, "how did they do that?"

there was magic with animals disappearing and people reappearing, incredible acrobatic, high wire and aerial feats and just plain fun with clowns galore. at one point, we watched an entire act performed upside down with no visible signs of wires or anything else holding the performers to the ceiling. i have to admit that was probably my favorite part. if you have never witnessed badminton played from the ceiling, this is a sight to see.

tate was especially looking forward to the tigers.  they came out for the second act and didn't disappoint.  listening to their roars made us wonder how safe the tamer actually was, but he showed a lot of love and affection toward the cats.  it is amazing to think that 500 pounds of cat can hop, bounce and leap like these animals do.

if you plan on attending, make sure you get there early enough for the pre-show.  it is a great opportunity to interact with the clowns and other performers.  even the elephants come out for some fun, including a demonstration of their artistic ability.  this is the part where tate freaked out so you might want to make sure your kids are of an age to handle crowds and clowns coming right up to you. 

if you are in the chicago area, this is still plenty of opportunity to get to a show.  this week the circus is still at the allstate arena in rosemont.  then you can catch it at the united center for the following two weeks.  use the coupon code "MOM" when purchasing your tickets for 4 tickets for $44 (on weekdays and friday matinees) or $4 off tickets for weekend shows.

i received tickets for my family to attend this show from mom central and the feld family.  i have in no other way been compensated for this review.  the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

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