Tuesday, August 16, 2011

winners!

i know you have all been waiting, holding your breath to see who won these great giveaways.  i have the winners right here.

the winner of the stoneyfield yogurt package is...
...lili! hopefully this continues to encourage a lifestyle of healthy eating!

the winner of the time island prize package is...
...to be fair, lili is the only one who entered that one so it does seem to be her lucky day!

finally, the winner of the sams club gift card is...
...megryansmom!  hopefully, you can use this gift card to buy something special for yourself, not just your grandson!

congratulations to everyone, and thank you so much for "playing"!

Friday, August 5, 2011

stoneyfield yogurt educates moms about food dangers (w/giveaway)

last week, i had a great opportunity to eat lunch at a fabulous restaurant downtown (with childcare!!!), thanks to stoneyfield yogurt.

we weren't there just to have a fun time, however, even though it was fun to see so many of my blogging friends again. robyn o'brien was the featured speaker for the day. if you haven't heard of her, she is known as food's erin brokovich because of her book, the unhealthy truth: one morether's shocking investigation into the dangers of america's food supply--and what every family can do to protect itself. she is also the founder of allergykids.

i have been trying to avoid hearing about or learning about the dangers of food. we are just not in a place to be able to afford a complete overhaul to our grocery budget by switching to all organic and farm-raised.

unfortunately, lilianna has suffered almost non-stop from outbreaks of eczema. her case is very similar to the eczema that tessa dealt with when she was a baby. i have long wondered if it was possible that lilianna's eczema could be food related, specifically dairy.

robyn o'brien's journey began when she found out that her daughter was allergic to eggs after a very scary allergic reaction. this led robyn to ask, "how can something so basic to our diets suddenly be causing so many allergic reactions?"

she started using her gifts and abilities as an analyst to look into the statistics and figures of the farming industry to understand what has made our foods so unhealthy. what she discovered has disturbed her and sent her on a crusade, not just to inform moms and others about the dangers and risks, but, hopefully, to make changes at the government level so that we can feel better about the food we feed our kids.

in the meantime, here are a few of the tips that robyn gave to help us keep our kids healthy.

1) find a friend. if you find that you have to defend your actions and choices to a wide variety of people, it will get more and more difficult to make those choices. if you have a friend who will join you in your mission, you will have the support you need to deal with any opposition you encounter.

2) don't make the perfect the enemy of the good. if you feel like you have to be perfect, you may not even try. robyn recommended an 80/20 kind of goal. try to give your kids healthy choices 80 percent of the time and don't worry about the 20 percent of the time that they are subject to food offered by other people. start small and do your best.

3) no one can do everything but everyone can do something. focus on taking baby steps to make healthy lifestyle choices for your family. even just one choice for the month is better than nothing. once that become routine and habit, you can make another change for the next month.

robyn said that to get her kids to eat healthier yogurt (that wasn't blue!), she first gave them better yogurt with sprinkles in it. even though the sprinkles had artificial colors, she felt like she was transitioning to a better choices for her family. soon her kids liked the taste enough to eat the yogurt without the sprinkles.

even though stoneyfield was barely mentioned during the luncheon, i appreciate their safe farming practices. this is their mission: we’re committed to healthy food, healthy people, a healthy planet and healthy business. they started out making yogurt as a fundraiser for their safe farming school. it became so popular they were soon marketing their products across the country.

i really liked their yobaby yogurt, especially the yogurts that come with vegetable purees. this was a great way for lilianna to get a variety of vitamins and nutrients. and she loved to eat them! i have to admit that this is one of our baby steps that we have taken, trying to give the kids healthier yogurt options.

i really hope that the government will start to make changes to the food industry so that people of all income levels can afford healthy options for children. in that way, education will be secondary, because all the options will be healthy options.

let's go america...feed our kids healthy foods.

if you want to give stoneyfield a try and begin to take some baby steps to healthy eating, i'm happy to have the opportunity to offer a gift bag to one of you readers. just leave a comment below telling me one baby step you want to make for healthy eating. i will choose a winner using random.org on august 15.

i was invited to the luncheon by stoneyfield for the purposes of sharing this information with you. all information that i received, plus the lunch, the childcare and a gift bag of my own came from robyn o'brien and stoneyfield yogurt. regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

time island - a safe place for my kids to "hang out" (w/giveaway)

i am starting to recognize that zoe and tessa are getting a little old to play on the pbskids website all the time.  tate still loves it, and i'm so glad that he has a safe place to develop some computer skills and learn...something...while having fun.  but zoe, especially, is ready for something a little more age-appropriate.

this is why i was glad to hear about a new website called "time island."  time island is a safe place (on the internet!) for kids to hang out and play. 

your child can register on the site and choose a look for his/her avatar.  then, you child can take his/her avatar all around the island, playing games and finding various items needed for survival on the island.

i played on the site a little bit using my daughter's avatar.  the games are fun and, of course, it is fun to explore a new place and see what there is to see.  the site is still being developed, and that shows a bit, but the owners of the site are very receptive to hearing about things that need to be fixed or changed.

zoe, tessa and tate have all signed up for their own avatars.  they seem to really enjoy exploring and playing the games.

i wish that the girl avatar was a little less sexy.  she has a choice of clothing between a torn shirt or a sports bra kind of top.  i really prefer my kids to have less skin exposure, even when we are just talking about computer people!

i'm curious to see how the site continues to develop over time.  so far my kids haven't run into other "people" on the island, but supposedly time island is a place where kids can interact safely, without fear of predators.  parents have access to their children's accounts and can monitor their activities for safety.

for now, i will let my kids continue to play on time island and see how things continue to improve.


if you would like to give time island a try, you can register your child here.  if you think they would enjoy a time island prize pack, full of temporary tattoos, rubber bracelets, and stickers, leave a comment below telling me about  your child's favorite website.  you can have a second entry if you subscribe to this blog.  i will choose a winner using random.org on august 15, 2011.

i received a gift pack of my own as a thank you for writing this review, from mom select.  regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

think sams club when you think "back to school"...

we still have 4 more weeks before school start--i can't decide yet if that is a good thing or a bad thing.  on the one hand, i think the kids need more structure in their day.  on the other, i have three kids at three different schools and i'm not sure how this is going to work out...

time marches on, however, and school will start, whether i feel ready for it or not.  the kids' back-to-school supplies lists get longer and longer each year.  i'm thankful that sam's club has a lot of items that we need.  by purchasing in bulk, i can get the things that all three kids need for a lot less money.

when i purchase supplies (either for the house or for school) at sam's club, i have the added advantage of getting extra "box tops" to give to the kids' schools.  with three different schools to think about, we need a lot of box tops!  since we don't have a lot of spare money in our budget to donate to the schools, i like to do what i can with the box tops.

during the month of august, sams club is promoting the box tops for education program by including 6 box tops on selected products, such as honey nut cheerios, nature valley oats 'n honey crunchy granola bars, and totino´s pizza rolls.

i have a sams club gift card to giveaway to one special reader.  simply leave me a comment below telling me what makes you the most excited about school starting again.  i will choose a winner using random.org on august 12, 2011.  you may have a second entry if you subscribe to this blog and leave another comment telling me that you did so.

i received this information, a sams club gift card, and one to giveaway from sams club and general mills through myblogspark in exchange for sharing this information with you.  regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

kelloggs fiberplus cereals hit the spot in the morning

the truth of the matter is that i am a sporadic breakfast eater, at best.  if i have to choose between getting dressed in the morning and eating breakfast, i generally choose to get dressed.

kelloggs fiberplus cereals have given me a better incentive to make sure i actually make time to feed myself in the morning.  i have recognized that i need more healthy fiber in my diet (try as i might, i just haven't been able to incorporate more vegetables into my morning or lunchtime routine).  kelloggs fiberplus cereals have offered me a very tasty way to get more fiber.

i had the pleasure of trying kelloggs fiberplus berry yogurt crunch and kelloggs fiberplus cinnamon oat crunch.  actually, i left with the kids for a week right after the package arrived.  when i came back, bill had already eaten the entire box of fiberplus berry yogurt, so i think it is safe to say that, from his perspective that cereal is a hit.  the flakes are lightly sweetened which gives them a crunch i like (i really hate soggy cereal).  there are yogurt covered clusters and berry clusters as well that are a welcome addition.  each serving provides 25g of whole grain which is 40% of your daily recommended allowance of fiber.

obviously bill likes this cereal, and i do too (now that i have bought myself a box to try).  i find it is a little sweet for my taste (in the morning--i love it for an evening snack).  this is the kind of cereal i like to have on top of a plain cereal, like corn flakes or cheerios.

the other box i tried was kelloggs fiberplus cinnamon oat crunch.  these are similar to cheerios but they have a lot more cinnamon.  i really liked the cinnamon flavor of this cereal.  again, the cereal is pretty sweet (7g of sugar for a 3/4 cup serving).  but you can't beat the fact that you get 16g of whole grain and 35% of your daily recommended allowance of fiber). 

both cereals are also full of antioxidants which i find beneficial.  if i'm going to eat something this sweet, either for a snack or for breakfast, then i would like to choose something that has plenty of health benefits for me and the kids.


i received two boxes of kelloggs fiberplus cereals for the purpose of this review.  regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

winners!

for some reason, as easy as these posts are, i am always late in getting them up, even if i've already reported the winners.  sorry about that!

the winner of the kung fu panda prize pack from myblogspark is...
 lili!  i hope that your kids enjoy the movie (and the cereal) as much as my kids do.

the winner of the blue sky stationary package is....
kristin!  i hope that these products help you get organized for the fall!  for the rest of you, remember that these products can be found (very affordably) at target.  your kids might have fun picking out some things to stay organized themselves!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

how i spent my summer vacation...


sometimes i wonder exactly how my kids will answer this question this year.  will they admit that they whined and argued and fought with each other every five minutes driving their mother close to the brink of insanity?

somehow i don't think so.

what i hope they remember to talk about is the fabulous time we had last friday participating in an "amazing race" kind of event.  we were all thrilled to be included in the gm family quest event.

let me just say that if i ever were asked to participate in the amazing race, i don't think i could do wrong by picking zoe to be my partner.   i'm not sure who is more competitive, me or zoe (or possibly our gm buddy, jenny, who accompanied us on our adventure and who was secretly pulling for us to win the entire time (in a very unbiased and nonpartisan fashion)).  tessa and tate quickly and easily lost focus in accomplishing our objectives at each stop, but zoe made sure to check off each item very diligently before taking time to play and explore.

gm planned an absolutely fabulous event for us that was completely kid-friendly.  when we arrived at our first destination (morton arboretum), we had our choice of a chevy suburban, a gmc denali or a chevy traverse.  as much as the kids wanted to try something different, i was eager to drive the traverse again, knowing how easy and enjoyable it was to drive.  i was ready for a repeat performance.  thankfully they were intrigued enough by the second sunroof for the back rows that they were willing to use that vehicle again.

after we chose our vehicle, we received our objectives to accomplish at the morton arboretum.  i have to admit, i have been a little hesitant to take the kids to places like the arboretum.  can they really enjoy spending a day looking at plants?  giving the kids a scavenger hunt definitely made the place more exciting for them.  first, we had to find our way through a hedgy maze, very reminiscent of the hedgy maze in harry potter (don't ask me which one because i can't remember).  zoe raced through the maze as though the dementors really were after her (or at least a boggart).  we accomplished the maze in absolutely record time.

unfortunately we lost our advantage when everyone suddenly needed a bathroom break.  we made up for lost time when we entered the children's garden.  if you are in the chicago area, the morton arboretum does a nice job making plant life accessible for children.  i think my kids favorite part was actually wading in a real stream.  we were supposed to skip a rock two times on the pond.  it was only after we threw a rock at the water about 20 times each that we discovered that the rules say no one should throw rocks (no wonder the little old docent seemed so intent on telling us we would never find a good skipping rock). 

our next objectives were to be accomplished in our vehicle:  find all the snacks hidden in your vehicle.  can there be anything more awesome for kids?  combining snacks with a treasure hunt?  our kids were very thorough!

next stop:  a splash park in the area.  since it was a pretty hot day, we were glad for an opportunity to cool off in the various fountains.  lilianna and tate were so caught up in cooling off, they weren't around for our some of our objectives.  here you see us spelling the word, "park" (you can clearly see it, can't you?)...


our gm buddy had an ipad with her that was helpful for accomplishing several of our objectives (sadly that wasn't the prize for winning the adventure!). here the kids got to pick a photo feature on the ipad and have their picture taken. can you guess which feature they picked?
i am forever grateful to my friend, leah, for her willingness to accompany us on our adventure.  she was even willing to kneel on the hard concrete so zoe could say we made a pyramid and cross that off our list.  isn't she amazing?
finally, we loaded everybody up and headed for the dupage children's museum.  this truly was the best children's museum we have ever attended.  zoe liked making a body bubble that she fit inside.  tate liked driving the space ship (although he didn't get a chance to build something with hammer, nails and wood that he could take home--we definitely need to go back for that).  tessa really liked the wind tunnels that sucked the fluffy balls right out of her hand.  plus, she was our hero for building a shape with giant tinker toys.

we finished our day with a pizza lunch (did i tell you that these gm/gmc people really understand kids?).  two of the three teams had tied for the win, so the pressure was on zoe, as representative of our team, to answer correctly the most trivia questions.  i don't know who was more stressed, me or her!  thankfully, she had a good memory (and made some pretty good guesses) and we won!  we will definitely be able to go back to visit the dupage children's museum since our prize was a yearlong membership to the museum.
here is our winning team next to our fabulous vehicle.  you may also want to take a look at the lisle news page over here to see if you recognize anyone.

we would like to thank zoe, for answering so many difficult questions well, and, more importantly, quickly.  thanks to tessa for her flexibility in running around like a crazy person doing whatever zoe and i frenetically asked her to do.  thanks to tate for not throwing any major tantrums and carefully building a flower on a magnetic board at the museum.  thank you to lilianna for hanging in there long past the point of exhaustion so the rest of us could have so much fun.  thank you to leah for taking care of my kids when i was distracted by winning, poopy pants and making conversation with various pr people who may or may not have other opportunities for me in the future.  thanks to our gm buddy (why do i hear music starting to play?), jenny, for noticing that i was in danger of losing half our party at various times.  i promise you i have yet to lose a kid for more than a couple of minutes.  and, last but not least, thank you to gm for hosting such a fabulous day for us.  i'm sure this will stick out for my kids as one of the highlights of their summer.

we received free admission to the arboretum and the dupage children's museum, as well as the use of a chevy traverse as part of our participation in the gm family quest event.  regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

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