Wednesday, June 30, 2010

winners!

never let it be said that the first reply-er never wins because...
that means the winner of the energizer batteries is...holly!

and the winner of the bendaroos is...lili!!

send me your addresses girls, and i will make sure you prizes get mailed out to you!

it isn't too late still to sign up for the wanchai beef giveaway...comment away!

Monday, June 28, 2010

bonobo handshake review

today my kids checked out the book and cd curious george.  i'm sure i enjoyed reading that book well enough when i was growing up, but i find that i really take issue with it now.  for one thing, why do the firemen have to be such big, bad meanies?  why does the man with the yellow hat find it perfectly acceptable to leave a monkey all alone, a monkey he has just recently captured from the wild, with the words, "now be a good little monkey"?

i knew all this when they checked it out, but it is a classic so we got it and started listening to it in the car.  i realized how much i hated what was happening in the book almost immediately when i heard the words, "The man picked him up quickly and popped him into a bag.  George was caught."  Why do we want to send our kids the message that this behavior is appropriate?

i feel even more strongly about this after reading bonobo handshake by vanessa woods.  if ever there was a book that was difficult to classify, this one is it.

in some ways it is a history book:  i learned more about the history of africa then i have learned in a long time.  i had no idea what a complex and bloody history the nations on africa, the congo in particular, have had.

it is also a social commentary.  i'm now aware of the effect that my desire for gold, diamonds, even an upgraded cell phone can have on the people and bonobo monkeys of the congo.  i think i might just be content with something a little less costly to life after reading this book.

it is also a book about a marriage.  i learned from vanessa's ups and downs in her marriage how to have a better attitude in managing my own marriage's ups and downs.

finally (?), this book is a romance:  not a romance about a man and woman falling in love, but a romance about how a woman fell in love with a relatively unknown group of monkeys.  after you read this book, it will be hard for you not to do the same. 

the bonobos are often mistaken for chimpanzees but they differ from chimpanzees in some pretty significant and absolutely admirable ways.  along with vanessa we learn about ourselves as she and her husband learn through a variety of studies about the makeup and psychology of the bonobo monkeys.

i can't say this is the most well written book i have ever read, but as i read, i found myself more and more engaged in the story of the bonobos.  because of vanessa's ability to bring the variety of personalities and character traits of the different inhabitants of the reserve in the congo, i now will follow with greater attention and awareness the fate and future of the bonobos.

and maybe make sure to have a good discussion with my kids when we read a book like curious george...

Friday, June 25, 2010

wanchai ferry beef and broccoli review and giveaway

i took this picture after i had already served some of this to everyone.  you can totally see why i am not a food blogger!
 
ever have one of those days when you wish supper would just cook itself? ever want to have chinese takeout without actually having to go and take it out?

wanchai ferry has created some frozen entrees with you in mind. these chinese meals come with everything you need to make a restaurant quality meal for two in just 14 minutes. for example, the beef and broccoli meal comes with beef strips, asian-style vegetables (including broccoli florets, red peppers and water chestnuts), rice and a delicious brown soy and garlic flavored sauce. simply stir fry the meat and vegetables while the rice is in the microwave, add the sauce ingredients and serve.

other flavors you might enjoy are kung pao chicken, szechuan style chicken, organge chicken, shrimp lo mein, spicy garlic chicken and sweet and sour chicken. i appreciate that none of the entrees have added msg. if you need an extra incentive, you can find a coupon to get $1.50 off here. if you need some meal tips to enhance your dining pleasure, take a look over here.

my family eats asian-style food quite often so i wasn't worried about how the kids would handle the flavors. what was a little disappointing is the amount of food in the package. when they say "dinner for two," they mean dinner for two people who are watching what they eat and won't really eat that much anyway. i supplemented the meal for our family of six by cutting up some leftover grilled hamburgers and adding some sliced vegetables that we had on hand. i invented my own sauce (although the package came with enough sauce, i could probably have used that for both). we eat a lot of rice so i made some of that in the rice cooker and served them side by side.

the kids were pleased with both entrees. they liked the flavor of both. no one seemed to have a preference of one over the other. overall, i would say the falvor is good. the beef was a little chewy but the vegetables tasted fresh.

i would say, in the future, i would be happy to buy a wenchai ferry frozen entree for bill to have when i'm out of town with the kids. this would also be a great meal to have on hand for a time when bill and i are having a date night and i want something simple for the kids to eat while i'm getting ready. if we were ever going to have this for a family meal, i would need probably need three bags, which seems a little cost prohibitive to me.

if you would like the opportunity to have a free sample for yourself, i have one to offer. the prize pack includes a vip coupon and two individual tea sets (with some very delicious green tea). if you are interested, leave a comment here telling me your favorite chinese meal (us residents only please). i will choose a winner using random.org on july 11.

i received a frozen meal and tea set for two from wanchai ferry through myblogspark.  they are happy to offer me the prize pack to give away as well.  the opinions (and picture) are purely my own.  you can take them or leave them!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

energizer and national geographic photo contest

i'll admit it:  one of my dream jobs would be to be a professional photographer.  of course, at this point, i would be content just taking a class or having one of those really cool cameras everyone else in the whole world seems to have.

if you share my secret desire, you probably have a few photos that you think are pretty good.  why don't you take a chance and submit your photo to energizer's ultimate photo contest?  just submit your photo here and you could have your photo featured in the december issue of national geographic in an ad for energizer lithium batteries.  as if that weren't exciting enough, you could also win a national geographic expedition for two to the greek isles.

act quickly because the contest only is open through june 30th. no matter what level of photographer you consider yourself, you have a chance of winning (last year a winner in one category was shot with a regular digital still camera). pick out your favorite photo and get it to www.nationalgeographic.com/lithium.

as a little incentive, leave a comment here describing your favorite photo that you've taken and you could win a couple packs of energizer lithium batteries (aa and aaa). i'll pick a winner (us residents only) using random.org on june 30.

as a thank you for letting you know about this contest, i received two free packages of energizer lithium batteries from energizer.

Monday, June 21, 2010

balance benders review

given the fact that i have already been interrupted 20 times while trying to write about this, i am feeling a little nervous about this summer.  how on earth am i going to keep my kids occupied all day every day?

of even more concern to me, is what i will do to keep zoe's brain occupied.  she is at a place where if she doesn't have enough challenges to deal with during the day she cannot get to sleep at night.  i don't want to give her homework, but i have been looking for fun and creative ways to keep her brain active.

this is where balance benders by the critical thinking co. has come in.  what is a balance bender you may ask?  a group of shapes are shown pictured on two sides of a balance.  knowing the shapes weigh the same leads to certain truths about the weight values of the shapes.  your job is to try to figure out from a list of equations which 3 equations are true, using the information you gain from the balance.

these puzzles are an excellent exercise in logic and they also serve as a great way to develop pre-algebra skills. the puzzles start out fairly simple then grow more and more challenging as you move toward the end of the book. i hope bill can figure them out better than i can because the ones at the very back of the book seem pretty complicated (actually there is an answer guide included with the book, thank goodness!).

i gave zoe the beginner's book ($9.99) for her birthday. she really likes having something to puzzle out for herself and it has been a great way to engage her brain now that school is done. i am thankful to have something for her to do that is entertaining but will hopefully help with the of the loss of knowledge that takes place over the summer.

personally, i still prefer sudoku puzzles. i like the idea of the balance benders but after one or two, i'm ready for something else. i think the same is true for zoe. this is something we will definitely need to space out over the summer. this isn't a book that she is going to zip through in one sitting.

if you like what you see and hear, you may also want to check out the critical thinking heroes award sponsored by the critical thinking co. this is a great opportunity for you to honor someone who inspired your own critical thinking abilities. you may also want to enter the critical thinking moments video contest. you could win a year's supply of educational product ($500 value).

this is a mamabuzz review. i received one book in the balance benders series by the critical thinking co. for the purpose of this review. the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

whish body products review

you have heard that a little information is a dangerous thing.  my problem is that i have only a little information about chemicals and ingredients in lotions and soaps that are supposedly very, very bad for you and for children in particular.  this is enough to make me nervous every time i bathe myself or my kids.  with this in mind, i have been trying to find ways and opportunities to try out natural products that will do the job efficiently and effectively.

as a result, i was happy to have a chance to try out the whish line of body products.  whish has three scents:  pomegranate, lemongrass and almond.  for each scent, you can find a product to help you wash, exfoliate, moisturize and perfect, all with natural ingredients.  their products are paraben free, sulfate free, TEA and DEA free and petrochemical free.  instead they use ingredients like organic sugar cane, organic beeswax, brown sugar, organic aloe, organic shea butter, glycerin and vitamin e.

i received the pomegranate sugar scrub to sample.  it is very thick, so a little bit goes a long way (which is good since it costs $38 for 12 oz.).  i used it to scrub off all the summer sweat and grime after a day with the kids.  i noticed that my skin felt softer and smoother after i rinsed off.  when i used it to scrub my feet (which needed a good deal of scrubbing), my feet felt so smooth i could hardly keep from slipping around in the shower.

after drying, i used a little bit of the pomegranate shave savour hair inhibiting gel.  i only received a tiny sample of this so i can't really speak to its hair inhibiting qualities but my legs definitely feel smooth for now.  i am already so tired of keeping my legs clean shaven for the summer that i'm hoping this will buy me an extra day or two, at least.  however, at $26 for 7.4 oz. i would like to be more sure that this moisturizing gel really will inhibit my hair growth.

if i were going to buy one of the whish line of body products, i would like to try the body butter for the kids.  lilianna in particular has such dry skin that easily turns rashy.  i have been trying to find something natural to help her skin condition.  for myself, i would like to try the hair inhibiting gel, although i would probably try a different scent. i really did not like the pomegranate scent at all. it smells like a product that is "all natural" but it isn't a scent that i enjoyed.  i do appreciate the fact that i feel safer using these products, knowing they are made with natural ingredients.

this is a mamabuzz review. i received a 3 oz. sample of the pomegranate sugar scrub and a small trial size of the shave savour hair inhibiting gel and the body wash from whish. the opinions expressed here are purely my own.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

bendaroos fun and giveaway


what are those crazy myatt kids doing? they are playing with bendaroos, which are reusable, flexible building sticks are made from colored string coated with a special wax. they stick to anything and can be bent into 2d and 3d shapes for lots of creative possibilities.

i received a free packet to sample and saved them for a rainy day when all the kids were home from school. i opened the package of 100 and divided up the colors so that each kid had about the same number of bendaroos in a variety of colors. then i let them go to town.

in hindsight, i think it would have been good to coach them a little in just what was possible to make with bendaroos. tate ended up cramming his into a ball. zoe started a couple things from the catalog then gave up, slightly frustrated, only to make up some cute stuff of her own after getting the hang of it. tessa just bend hers around each other, not making anything in particular.

they ended up having a pretty good time with them. zoe is the only one who has consistently brought them out again to make more things. she seems to have the hang of rolling them up to make flat surfaces and making dogs, people and furniture, etc.

bendaroos has released some fun activity packs like 200-piece theme packs in royal fantasy and tropical island and 100-piece theme packs in hearts, stars & rainbows and space & sky. bendaroos theme packs include instructional diagrams and templates to help kids build a variety of creations. i think this would have been helpful for zoe at least to have a better idea of how to make good use of the sticks.

you can find more information about bendaroos and other craft ideas at their website or Bendaroos Facebook page.

i probably would stick to giving these as gifts to someone zoe's age. tessa and tate enjoyed them to a degree but not in the same way zoe has.

i have a package available to give away. leave a comment telling me one thing you would try to make with bendaroos (go to their website for ideas if you need them). i will pick a winner using random.org on june 30, 2010. usa residents only please.

i received a free package of bendaroos (and one to giveaway) for the purpose of this review. nevertheless, the opinions expressed here are purely my own.

yoursphere.com: get a job

zoe has been spending more time in ourWorld, playing games, completing challenges and exploring the different sights and shops. 

when you enter ourWorld, there is so much to do, it can almost seem overwhelming.  there are lots of fun games to play (i myself just may get addicted to the spiderweb solitaire game.  zoe likes the games that require some thinking and strategy like dress up rush).

when you play games successfully, your avatar earns coins, gems and "flow."  you can use these to decorate and furnish your condo, get new clothes and hairstyles for your avatar and move up to higher levels.

one advantage to being at a higher level is that you can get a job at a place like the coffee shop.  zoe spent a little time as the barista.  she changed the music and made a cup of coffee  unfortunately, no one came in to get the cup of coffee from her, but it was an interesting experience for her to think about what it is like to have a job.  it may not always be the most exciting thing to do but it is worth it if you get paid, right?

zoe and i also spent a little time at her condo. she doesn't have many levels or gems to furnish it yet but we had fun checking out some of the different designers and the things that will be available to her eventually.

one thing that zoe is lacking is some friends to have while she is visiting ourWorld or yoursphere.  if your child wants to be a friend with zoe, please help them join yoursphere.  if you use the code YSMC-0070, you can be entered for a weekly drawing of a $50 american express giftcard.  let us know you've joined so zoe can have some friends!

i wrote this review while participating in the yoursphere test drive program by mom central on behalf of yoursphere. i received a free lifetime gold membership on yoursphere.com, yoursphere t-shirts, and a $50 american express gift card to facilitate my review.

yoursphere.com: contests

when zoe and i first got involved with yoursphere, i was disappointed because it seemed like the contests were geared for members older than zoe.  there was a contest that involved watching american idol and hannah montana.  zoe doesn't watch either of those shows so i decided not to show her the contests aspect of the site.

recently, however, the contests are geared for any age group.  zoe recently entered a contest talking about her favorite place (the zoo--because she loves animals so much) and another one describing (with a photo) what summer means to her.  i like these because it gives her an opportunity to formulate her thoughts in a way that can be communicated to others.

while i have no idea what we will do with a four-person inflatable raft if she actually wins, i don't see any harm in taking a few minutes to enter the contest.  i am curious to see how she reacts to losing.  one of the prizes is a camera.  she is already planning what she will do if she wins the camera, even though the chances of her winning the camera are so minimal.

i think the contests are a fun idea.  i certainly won't discourage from entering them if she wants to do so.  overall, however, i think i would rather she focused her time and energy on her blog and the games in ourWorld.

good news! if you want to have your child join yoursphere and if you use this code (YSMC-0070), you can be entered in a weekly drawing for a $50 american express gift card.  if your child joins, make sure she becomes friends with zoe--she is lacking in the friends department!

i wrote this review while participating in the yoursphere test drive program by mom central on behalf of yoursphere. i received a free lifetime gold membership on yoursphere.com, yoursphere t-shirts, and a $50 american express gift card to facilitate my review.

you can also find me here

some other groups i've joined

 

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