Wednesday, December 15, 2010

New Tips To Support A Loved One Living With Epilepsy

Whenever I know I'm coming down with something, I'm filled with dread. Not only because I know I'm going to feel less than wonderful, but also because I know I can't just take to my bed and dwell there until the affliction passes. Why not? There's too much to be done every day, and it all rests on my shoulders. You could accuse me of being a poor delegator, but I will respond 'I'm a mom - is there another way?!'

Even when I'm completely healthy, I'm always racing to complete the mounting daily tasks. I can't imagine how much more challenging these tasks are when dealing with a disability myself or while caring for a loved with a disability.

November marked National Epilepsy Awareness month, and created the "Women Succeeding with Epilepsy" video series, sponsored by UCB, Inc., to educate and inspire women dealing with the challenges of living or caring for someone with epilepsy. In the series, one woman, Amy W., tells the story of caring for her son with epilepsy while another woman, Veronica C., shares her experience of living with epilepsy since she was a teenager. To watch the videos visit:

My grandmother lived with epilepsy all her life and it partly defined her. She left school early because of her epilepsy, she couldn't get a job because of her epilepsy and, even though she was a wonderful, competent and talented woman, she was tremendously shy because of her epilepsy.

I wish I'd been more educated and thus more aware of the ways in which I could have helped her deal with her epilepsy and so, in memory of my grandmother who endured an illness that challenged her throughout her life, I'd like to write about the following tips from HealthyWomen for supporting someone who lives with epilepsy.

10 Tips For Supporting Someone With Epilepsy
Supporting a Child: Mom often takes on many roles in the family—caretaker, health care decision maker and cheerleader. If you have a son or daughter living with epilepsy, you’ll often take on all three. Laying a strong foundation for your child, child, while still taking care of oneself, can be challenging. These tips can help:
  1. Communication is key. Nurture an environment of openness. It’s important to have a candid dialogue about your child’s condition, so they feel comfortable coming to you with any feelings or concerns. Talking about what it means for them is important, as is talking to others about what it means for you. Also, letting neighbors, coaches, teachers, school officials and other important people know is key to fostering a team approach.
  2. Make informed decisions. Start by choosing the right health careprofessional. Give your child the best possible chance for success by seeking care from a specialist who is familiar with epilepsy, such as a neurologist or epileptologist. Do your research and ask lots of questions. If you don’t feel comfortable from the beginning, keep looking.
  3. Guide your child toward activities where success is most likely. It’s easy to see your child’s strengths. Encourage them to participate in activities where their skills will be best utilized. For example, partaking in an individual sport rather than a team one may offer significant benefits. Also, by giving your child responsibilities and allowing him or her to make or contribute to important decisions, you’ll be empowering your youngster to be his or her own advocate one day.
  4. Remember: To care for someone else, you need to take care of yourself first. You know when you’re on an airplane and they say to secure your oxygen mask first? Same idea here—you can’t help your family if you aren’t taking care of yourself. Make sure to schedule some time for self‐care, relaxation and nurturing other important relationships in your life. Also, it helps to have a support network of other parents caring for children with epilepsy. You can find resources for this at
  5. Always be prepared. Create an action plan so that you’re ready if a seizure occurs. That includes always carrying important phone numbers and any necessary medications.
    Supporting another adult: Do you have a friend, coworker, spouse, parent or sibling living with epilepsy? Maybe you want to be supportive but aren’t sure how. These tips can help:
  6. Talk openly. By normalizing conversation about epilepsy and seizures, your friend or loved one will feel more comfortable talking about their concerns and fears. Also, don’t be afraid to express your own feelings as well. Witnessing a seizure can be scary—if it happens to you, talk about it.
  7. Do your homework. Learn what you can do in the event of a seizure by asking a medical professional, doing research and talking to the person who has epilepsy. Visit to read their tips on first aid for seizures. Also, it helps to understand terminology and to know what resources and support options are available.
  8. Be a cheerleader and advocate. Stay optimistic and celebrate seizure control and important milestones. Educate those around you and encourage them to get involved with epilepsy awareness.
  9. Offer to go to important medical appointments. Your friend or loved one may want some extra support or someone to take notes about medical procedures or other important topics. This will also allow you to be a solid sounding board for confusing medical decisions. In addition, people with epilepsy may not recall what happens during a seizure, so caregivers should try to communicate that information to the physician.
  10. Carry important phone numbers with you. Whether it’s for specific doctors, local hospitals or other loved ones, always be able to contact the people who you may need or want informed of any given situation.

    I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by
    Mom Central Consulting on behalf of HealthyWomen’s “Women Succeeding with Epilepsy” sponsored by UCB, Inc. and received a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Luxurious Relief For A Mom's Hands

As a mom - and a nanny - I spend a good portion of every weekday with my hands in water: doing the dishes in scalding, soapy dish water; soaking/scrubbing stained clothes; bathing fidgety little bodies in warm, sudsy bath water; washing little hands and faces after breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack times; washing my hands, washing my hands, washing my hands...

It is hardly surprisingly then that my hands are always on the dry side, but when it gets to the colder months, they become painfully dry and cracked overnight and they 'snag' on fabrics in a way that makes my hair stand on end. I often resort to slathering my hands in big clods of lotion, then sleeping with them covered in sock 'mittens'.

When I heard about Johnson's Shea & Cocoa Butter line of baby oil products, I was curious to see how they'd help my beleagured paws. I started using the Johnson's Baby Creamy Oil almost two weeks ago, and it is deliciously soothing. Luxuriously thick and creamy, and not at all greasy - I've been slathering it on every chance I get. Folding the laundry is no longer a tortured affair! All Johnson's products are dermatologist and allergy-tested, so I allow Pudding Pie and my other two charges to slather it on their mini paws, too. Now we all have richly hydrated mitts and, thanks to the Shea & Cocoa Butter fragrance, we all smell sublime!

Johnson's also offers Baby Oil and Baby Oil Gel in the Shea & Cocoa Butter line, and just a small amount left my skin feeling silky soft - it is particularly great on freshly-shaved legs!

While we're on the subject of fragrance, let me talk about my penchant for the Shea & Cocoa Butter scent. It reminds me of my most favorite place: the beach. Last weekend, after a long soak in a steamy tub, I liberally slathered on the Johnson's Baby Oil Gel from the Shea & Cocoa Butter line. It was blissful, my skin felt ultra soft, pampered actually. Afterwards, I relaxed on the sofa, gazed at the large glass bowl filled with white beach sand and seashells, which resides in our living room, and planned our next beach vacation...

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Johnson’s and received the products necessary to facilitate my review. In addition, I received a gift certificate to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

5 Minutes For Mom Christmas Giveaway 2010


The festive season has officially arrived - yeeha! This also means that its time for the annual 5 Minutes For Mom Christmas Giveaway and (luckily for me and all the other latecomers this year), the entry deadline has been extended to December 4 -phew! Don't delay - click over for a chance to win some great prizes!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Prenatal Multivitamins For Mom And Baby's Health

*Update: Congratulations to AmyLynn, you are the winner of the Nature Made Prenatal gift pack!*
The discovery that I was pregnant with Pudding Pie was a big surprise. Yes, it was a very wonderful surprise, but we hadn't been trying for a baby and my lifestyle then was far from healthy. I was petrified that the baby would suffer because of my addiction to coffee, diet soda and junk food. I smoked back then, did not bother with vitamins, rarely indulged in fruits or vegetables, and was completely allergic to exercise.

All of this changed when I learned that I had a baby on the way. That was the day I smoked my last cigarette and drank my last caffeinated drink. I reformed overnight and took the fast track to healthy living, but I was still concerned about my baby getting all that she needed to grow and I took my prenatal vitamins religiously.

I was nauseous for much of the first part of my pregnancy (actually more like the first seven eighths of it...), and taking my prenatal vitamins made me more so. I tried a few different brands and eventually settled on the one that made me feel slightly less nauseous than the others - but it cost me an arm and a leg.

Pudding Pie survived her lack of vitamins those first two months and emerged spectacularly healthy, a trend she continues to this day. I continued taking my prenatal vitamins while I nursed her (they no longer made me nauseous), and I gave them up reluctantly. Actually, I was so pleased with my daily dollop of multivitamins and DHA, that I'd probably still be taking them if it weren't for the fifty plus bucks/month thing. I've moved on to regular multivitamins and my lifestyle is now significantly healthier than it was pre-Pudding Pie. And, should we try for a second child, I'll be sure to begin those prenatal multivitamins from the get-go.

Nature Made, a trusted maker of vitamins and supplements, offers Nature Made Prenatal Multivitamin with DHA in one single softgel. How great to not have to take two pills when you're feeling nauseous!

Nature Made was the first over-the-counter brand to launch a Prenatal Multivitamin with 200mg DHA in one single softgel. One of these softgels delivers 800mg of Folic Acid,Vitamins A,C,D and Zinc, Iron, B – Complex (Vitamins B6, B12), EPA/DHA, Niacin, and 200mg of DHA.

DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid, which is passed directly from the mother to the child during pregnancy and through breastfeeding. It is an essential nutrient, and plays an important role in brain and retina development during fetal development and infancy. To learn more about Nature Made's Prenatal vitamins, visit

**One lucky reader will win A Nature Made Prenatal gift pack! The gift pack will include a 9 month supply of Nature Made Prenatal Multivitamin with DHA, two 2-packs of cloth diapers and a "Just for Baby" food processor! To enter, please leave a pregnancy-related comment and be sure to include a way for me to reach you.
Giveaway ends at midnight on Sunday, November 14th. **

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central on behalf of Nature Made and received the products necessary to facilitate my review and giveaway.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Go Back To School - On Your Terms

In my other life (pre-mommyhood), I went to college, had a blast, got myself a Bachelors degree, with one year of post-grad work in English Literature, and then went to work for a newspaper. A decade later I went back to school, this time to complete an Associates degree before going to work as a graphic designer. I had some trepidation about going back to school after so long, but it turned out to be a great move and was the catalyst for my second career.

After Pudding Pie was born, my professional life skidded to a halt and I savored the bliss of being a stay-at-home mom. Now however, several years have passed and soon Pudding Pie will be off to school. When this happens, I will once again return to work and, after such a long hiatus from work, I'll need to go back to school to get up myself up to speed once more.

As a mom, I don't see myself signing up for classes the traditional way. With so much more to juggle in my life, I will need to take courses that can fit in with my schedule. This is why I'm pretty excited about American Public University (APU). APU has a diverse, entirely online curriculum and more than 100 degree programs which can be tailored to suit my needs - great!

This means that once Pudding Pie goes to bed at night, I can study. It also means that when Pudding Pie is pirouetting her way through ballet class, I can study; when she's getting filthy on the soccer field, I can study; when she's hanging with her swim instructor, I can study!

APU offers flexibility: Unlike traditional universities, APU offers classes on a monthly basis (versus semesters), with accelerated programs and flexible courses. APU courses are 100% online, allowing students to obtain degrees from anywhere in the world – on their time, their schedules.

APU offers variety with more than 100 online degrees and certificates in subjects ranging from homeland security to management and liberal arts.

APU offers affordability with tuition that is among the lowest in the country for accredited online universities. This means quality, accredited degree programs at an affordable price. Also, APU’s simplified tuition and fee structure makes it easy for students to estimate and cover expenses, for example: an would pay $750 for a 3 credit course, and a graduate pays $900 for a 3 credit course. Here's something else I really like about APU: Their transfer credit program enables students to maximize previous learning and minimize the time and financial investment required to complete their studies.

APU offers quality and credibility: APU is a member institution of regionally- and nationally-accredited American Public University System (APUS), recognized as a leading education provider by numerous military, federal, private and public sector employers. Also, leading practitioners in a wide range of fields teach APU/AMU classes.

Yes, I'm excited about going back to school again! I'm relieved that it won't take lots of tricky maneuvering between mine and my husband's schedules, just so I can make it to class on time. I'm delighted that this needn't be a decision that will stretch our already-tight family budget, and I'm thrilled that I can have this flexibility and affordability - and still get a quality education through a credible institution.

I wrote this review while participating in a blog campaign by Mom Central on behalf of American Public University. Mom Central sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

An Essential For Optimum Health

Pudding Pie is not crazy about fish. She'll agree to eat fish sticks only if she can load them up with ketchup and that's about it. Its a shame because fish is full of protein and the 'good fats' - omega-3 fatty acids, and children especially need these essential fatty acids (EFAs) in their development.

Although Pudding Pie eagerly takes her multi-vitamin gummies every night, and although I do my best to ensure she follows a healthy diet, I worry about whether she is getting enough omega-3. It's true that, aside from fish, you can find omega-3's in other foods, such as walnuts, flaxseeds, beans, olive oil, winter squash. But, although this is great for adding add fatty acid variety to my diet, Pudding Pie is not too crazy about any of these foods either.

One daily teaspoon of Ascenta's new Nutrasea Kids supplement will deliver children their EFAs - with a Very Berry taste - and Pure Check quality assurance. The Pure Check logo on all Nutrasea products guarantees that they have been independently tested and certified for quality, purity and potency. Some fish oil supplements have high levels of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl compounds), environmental pollutants that pose significant health risks, so the Pure Check quality guarantee was a big factor in my decision to test the product on both myself and Pudding Pie.

I've always known that fish oil supplements are one way to get enough of those EFAs for both the big and little folk, but I was concerned that my most particular Pudding Pie would gag and create a terrible fuss if I tried this approach and I confess, I can understand - that fishy taste is a little overwhelming.

I first tried the Nutrasea adult supplement myself and I was pleasantly surprised by the distinct apple flavor that remained on my taste buds, so I decided to see how Pudding Pie would react to a dose of the kids supplement.

Nutrasea Kids' liquid format makes it easier to 'hide' in food favorites like milkshakes, smoothies, fruit juice and apple sauce. Still, on the day of Pudding Pie's first dose, I decided to forsake disguising the supplement and I administered the daily teaspoon directly into the mouth, thinking that the Very Berry taste would be enough to get the fish oil succesfully down Pudding Pie's throat. (It really is a nice taste for fish oil!)

This was a mistake. The fish oil was swiftly ejected, and I was roundly criticised for my audacious attempt to make Pudding Pie ingest something so vile. On Day 2, I wised up a little and I served the supplement in her morning orange juice and she drank a little of it, but then complained that her juice tasted "funky". By Day 3, I was smarter, I greatly increased the ratio of juice to fish oil, and my slightly wary guinea pig actually downed the lot - victory!

I also found that it really helped that by Day 2 and Day 3, the now-opened fish oil was being stored in our refrigerator and, for some reason, cold fish oil is more palatable than room temperature fish oil.

To learn more about the quality guarantee of Ascenta products, and the benefits of EFAs, visit their site:

*Nutrasea is recommended for children two to thirteen years old. Any children with fish allergies should consult a doctor before using Nutrasea.

I wrote this review while participating in a blog campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Nutrasea Kids campaign and received Nutrasea samples to facilitate my candid review. Mom Central sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A No-Mess Way To Fight Those Rays

For the past couple of weeks, Pudding Pie and her two friends have been enrolled in daily swim lessons. Our mornings are always chaotic and we usually skid into the pool just barely in time for our 10am lesson.

Pre-lesson you'll find me in a mad flap as I wrestle the younger girls into their swim diapers and swimsuits while cajoling/threatening Pudding Pie into hers. Then its on to hunting for everyone's flip-flops, gathering towels, clothes, extra diapers and all the other items that make a pool bag so unreasonably heavy.

I'm usually still trying to get the oblivious Pudding Pie to put on her swimsuit while I'm hustling to make the essential after-swim snack, fill the sippy cups and throw on my own suit.

Once we're poolside, there's no time for applying sunscreen, and the teacher stands, tapping her toes, as she waits for us to get it together so she can start class. Its no fun slathering 'gloopy' sunscreen onto three squirming girls who are itching to get in the water.

Starting last week, our routine has changed a little. I've begun using Shady Day Daily Sun Protection Wipes instead of our usual sunscreen, and the sunscreen application process has become far more pleasant!

I can put on my own sunscreen!

Now, just before we pull out of the drive, I hand each of my diminutive passengers a sun protection wipe and they busy themselves wiping wherever they can on their bodies while I ferry them to the pool. Who would have thought they'd actually enjoying applying sunscreen!

Once we're at the pool, it takes just a few mess-free minutes to finish getting all three girls sunscreened, then its into the pool with no fuss and a far less frazzled mama.

I confess that when I first tried these wipes, I was a little sceptical. I couldn't see how much sunscreen was actually going onto those little faces, so I hesitated and used our regular sunscreen lotion on the kids' faces and the Shady Day sunscreen wipes on my own face and everyone's bodies. I needn't have worried. At the end of our swim lesson, I realised we'd all been equally protected and now we use the wipes and nothing else!

Backed by a team of dermatologists, the hygenic pre-moistened Shady Day wipes contain broad spectrum UVA/UVB SPF 30 sunscreen, and are designed for the whole body.

Purchase Shady Day products at these retailers:

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Shady Day and received a sample package of Shady Day Daily Sun Protection Wipes and a gift certificate to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Be Proactive In The Fight Against Cervical Cancer

As moms, it is our desire - and our duty - to do all we can to proactively protect our children. Cervical cancer is a serious health threat for women, but it is both preventable and curable if detected early. The National Cancer Institute estimates new cases of cervical cancer in 2010 at 12,200 and deaths from cervical cancer for 2010 at 4,210. Visit for more information.

Knowing that cervical cancer is both preventable and curable, I'll be using every resource available to me to protect Pudding Pie. HPV vaccines are for girls and young women ages 9-26. The vaccines act as powerful tools to help protect against the two types of HPV that are most commonly associated with cervical cancer. When Pudding Pie is the right age, she'll be getting her vaccine.

I have realised that its not enough for me to focus only on protecting Pudding Pie. For my daughter's sake, I have to be my own health advocate, stay proactive, and protect myself too.

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer affecting women worldwide, but the good news is that it is easily preventable because we know its cause, HPV. To protect against cervical cancer, we need routine Pap testing and we also need to ask for the HPV Test.

The Pap Test looks at a sample of cells taken from a woman's cervix for any cell changes or abnormalities. Pap testing should begin at age 21. The HPV Test is conducted from the same sample as the Pap and identifies women with high-risk HPV infections that can cause cervical cancer. When used with a Pap in women 30 and older, the HPV test increases the ability to identify who is at risk of developing cervical cancer.

However, not all doctors automatically use both tests so, moms, if you're 30 or older, ask your doctor for the digene HPV test along with your Pap smear.
  • If both tests come back normal, then the tests don't need to be repeated for 3 years. But remember to return each year for your annual health exam.

  • If one or both tests come back abnormal, this doesn't necessarly mean you have cervical cancer. It simply enables your healthcare provider to monitor you more closely or treat pre-cancerous cells before cervical cancer develops.

  • HPV testing isn't necessary for women younger than 30, because HPV infections in young women usually go away on their own without causing problems. Women under 30 will only have HPV testing if their Pap testing is inconclusive.

To learn more about the early detection and prevention of cervical cancer through HPV screening and Pap testing, visit The site is chock-full of information and includes frequently-asked-questions, patient stories, and tips on deciphering test results. Take a few minutes to test your knowledge of HPV in the Myths vs. Facts Quiz -I was shocked at how uninformed I was!
Follow on Twitter: @HPVinformed
Follow on Facebok:

Be sure to check out these other helpful links on cervical cancer prevention:
The Yellow Umbrella Organization is founded by cervical cancer survivor and "rocker", Christine Baze, who takes her music and story on the road to educate women about cancer prevention. Visit Christine's site to putchase a Yellow Umbrella make-up kit to raise money for cervical cancer prevention.
HealthyWomen is the nation's leading independent health information source for women. Recently listed as one of Forbes' top 100 websites for women, has resources on many women's health issues, including comprehensive info on cervical and gynecologic cancers.
The Pearl of Wisdom Campaign To Prevent Cervical Cancer is a gobal partnership to raise awareness of tools for preventing cervical cancer and advocate for making them available to girls and women worldwide. Buy a pin, send an e-card, and download educational materials.

I wrote this review while participating in a blog campaign by Mom Central on behalf of the Qiagen digene HPV Test. Mom Central also sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Go Back To School With Eco-Friendly School Supplies

Summer's been a blast but now it is time to start checking things off on those back-to-school shopping lists. I was just talking with a friend who is mom to three school-age girls, and she was bemoaning the endless list of school supplies to be tracked down as her girls prepare themselves for the coming year.

In the rush to get school-ready, we are so caught up in gathering the essentials for our kids, that we can forget about the negative impact all of those school supplies can have on the environment.

Paper Mate has not forgotten and now, to give us an opportunity to be proactive for the environment, Paper Mate has launched a new line of eco-friendly writing utensils, which include biodegradable pens and mechanical pencils. What an awesome idea!

To help demonstrate how products impact our environment, and to witness first-hand how eco-friendly these writing utensils are, we participated in the Plant-A-Pen Challenge. The Challenge was created by Mom Central, in partnership with Paper Mate.

For the challenge, we first separated the components of the pen into the biodegradable and non-biodegradable parts. (The packaging clearly explains which parts of the pen may be returned to the environment, and which may not.)

Next, we planted the biodegradable components of our Paper Mate pen on the edge of a nature reserve next door to our apartment. We marked the spot with our favorite Easter Bunny garden ornament, so we'll know where to go for our check up visits! Assuming all goes as it should, the planted pen will begin to break down over the next few months, and its components will biodegrade back into the soil.

At first, Pudding Pie was perplexed by this activity (she's never helped Mommy plant a pen before...), but now she's excited and she keeps wanting to check on its progress! This is such a great way to show her how something as small as a pen has an effect on our environment, and I confess that I am as excited as Pudding Pie to watch the biodegrading begin!

Pudding Pie marking the spot of our freshly planted pen.

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Paper Mate and received the products necessary to facilitate my review. In addition, I received a gift certificate to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Natural Way To Restore a Healthier, Happier Mood

UPDATE: Congratulations to Mary Anne, you have won a 3-month supply of SAM-e Complete, plus a reusable water bottle and a mood journal! Thank you for taking the time to comment!

Life is busy. Those precious hours dedicated to sleep seem short and getting shorter. At the same time, those waking hours don't seem enough to get through the unending list of 'to-do's'. Sometimes, when you're feeling overwhelmed, its hard to keep upbeat and stay on track. I often find myself wishing for my own genie in a bottle to help me attack my more challenging days.

That genie has yet to show up but, lately, I've been feeling a new serenity. I haven't changed much in my daily life, the 'to-do's' are still coming at me thick and fast, but the tasks aren't seeming quite so insurmountable. I attribute this new, more centered attitude to Nature Made SAM-e Complete, a supplement I began taking a little over a week ago.

I've learned that, as we get older, our bodies start making less SAM-e, a naturally occurring compound, which ultimately works to maintain a balanced mood. Nature Made SAM-e Complete is a supplement clinically proven to naturally support a healthy mood. It does this by helping replenish your body's natural levels of SAM-e. For more information on Nature Made SAM-e, visit

Nature Made SAM-e Complete recently launched the "Give a Smile" campaign. They are working with Dream Factory, the second largest children's wish-granting organization in the U.S., to grant the wishes of three children suffering from a critical or chronic illness. Through this campaign, SAM-e will donate to a child's wish for every social action you complete (like uploading an image to their mosaic). The more social actions, the more SAM-e will donate. Click on this link to learn more about how your actions lead to SAM-e donations!

*How would you like to try Nature Made SAM-e yourself? Leave a comment before midnight on Sunday, August 15th and you'll be entered to win a 3-month supply, and a reusable water bottle and a mood journal!

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Nature Made and received products necessary to facilitate my candid review.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Cold and Dreamy Treats To Beat The Heat

It's hot. Being outdoors after 9am and before 8pm is just not sane. Car seats are hot, swing sets are hot, backyards are steamy, tempers are short, bickering is plentiful, and fall seems so far away.

I would like to spend the daylight hours of summer indoors, basking in cool, air-conditioned comfort. Pudding Pie and her friends do not. They clamor to be outdoors. They want to be sprinting through the sprinkler, whizzing down the slip 'n slide, splashing in the pool, digging in the sand, hanging out on the back porch, daubing paint on anything they can, and so on.

Every day, they laugh, squeal, and play their way through their various sweaty outdoor activities while I lug toys around, set up the paints, wash off the paint, fill the pool, apply sunscreen, arbitrate disputes - and gently wilt.

I have my secret weapon though; it lives in the freezer and summer cannot be conquered without it: ice cream!

I recently tried the new Breyers Smooth & Dreamy Chocolate Caramel Brownie ice cream bars. I was not disappointed, and neither were Pudding Pie and her friends. the bars are rich, creamy and delicious!

The Breyers Smooth & Dreamy ice cream bars and sandwiches also come in five other rich and creamy flavors, including Vanilla Caramel Chip, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Chocolate Covered Strawberry, Vanilla Fudge Brownie, Triple Chocolate Chip.

These tasty delights are not only the perfect refreshment on a sultry summer day, they also contain no artificial flavors or colors, are 160 calories or less and have only 4-6g of fat per serving.

Think you'd like to try a new Breyers ice cream bar or sandwich? Leave a comment before midnight on Friday, August 6th, letting me know what you love most about summer, and you could win a couple of Breyers coupons!

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Breyers and received products necessary to facilitate my review. In addition, I received a gift certificate to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Drop those extra pounds the Smart way

Twenty years ago, when I wanted to drop a few pounds, I cut back on the junk, ate sensibly, exercised more frequently - and watched the pounds disappear in a relatively short space of time. Today, banishing those extra pounds is a far more challenging task. Back then, I had no real commitments other than to myself, my career, my personal goals. When I needed to accomplish a task such as weight loss, I applied myself completely. Today, I begin each week filled with resolve, determined to get off the fat wagon, convinced that this time I'll stay the course and fit back into those 'skinny me' jeans. Usually I don't make it past noon on Monday.

Why have I continued to fail in my struggle to drop the unwanted pounds? Well, aside from being rather weak-willed in the face of glistening jelly donuts and the like, I have a far different lifestyle from the one I had twenty years ago. Today, my well-laid plans to follow a strict diet and exercise regime are tested and then sabotaged by daily life. I always begin Day One well: I crunch on my breakfast apple and feel good, sated, pleased with my iron will. Then I prepare breakfast for Pudding Pie and the other kids I care for. Perhaps this is Bacon and Cheesy Scrambled Eggs day, the smell wafts around the kitchen, I can't help but have a quick taste ...

I serve my pint-sized customers and they eat but, at the end of the meal, there are still a few forkfuls left. I can't bear to toss out good food so I gobble up the last few bites. And so the day goes. By evening, my diet has been abandoned. I am supposed to go for a brisk power walk when we get home from work, but Pudding Pie wants to come too - and bring her bike (which she is just learning to ride). The power walk turns into a slow, bent-double walk as mommy ends up pushing a suddenly tired Pudding Pie after the first five minutes of the excursion. We return home, I concede that my new diet and exercise regime has failed, so I console myself with a bowl of icecream. This is a typical Day One ...

Before you start feeling awful for me and my endless cycle of failed diets, let me tell you about a breakthrough in this sad cycle. I've shed a several pounds over the last week and a half! I am so excited! My will power cannot take all (actually any) of the credit. I have had help in the form of some great products from underWAY and Smart for Life.

I tried the underWAY supplement drink, which works naturally to suppress appetite while it quenches your thirst. The drinks work to curb hunger in two ways: the underWAY formulation takes longer for the stomach to absorb - and it also slows the absorption of what is already there, making you feel fuller for longer. Each drink is infused with a special HeroFiber and heart-healthy vitamins and contains no preservatives, sodium or caffeine. I sampled the Acai Pomegranate flavor and the Grape flavor. I found the Grape on the sweet side, but the Acai Pomegranate was just delicious.

I also tried out several of the Smart for Life products. These products are all natural and 60% organic, containing Omega-3 fatty acids and HeroFiber. Working on a 7-meals-per-day schedule, the Smart for Life philosophy is a perfect fit for someone who likes to snack throughout the day - that's me! The 7-meals-per-day schedule features 6 cookies or other products, plus a balanced dinner. This allows the body to maintain steady blood sugar and glucose levels, and burn more fat for a longer part of the day.

In a recent study done at Boca Raton Smart for Life Weight Managment Center, 46 people visited and used a portion-controlled, protein-rich, low fat cookie with fiber technology. All 46 lost weight, with the average being 13.1 pounds in 35 days. Five subjects lost over 20 pounds in 35 days and 20 subjects lost over 15 pounds in the first 35 days. The 46 participants lost a combined total of 601 pounds, with one participant losing 38.7 pounds in 35 days!

I loved the oatmeal raisin cookies. They were perfect for keeping hunger pangs at bay and they are really tasty, too. I also tried the THINADVENTURE cupcakes: Carrot Sunshine and Chocolate Mountain. I really couldn't say which I preferred, they were both good and it was hard to believe I was still on diet! I was pretty possessive over my Smart for Life products, but I had to share a few bites of my Chocolate Berry cereal with Pudding Pie as it was so good. I also tried the vanilla shake, (yum!) the Smart Bagels and Momma's Chicken Noodle Soup. All tasty and all worked well to keep me feeling pleasantly full.

I'm thrilled with what is finally a decent start to healthier eating habits. Now I've got to keep the momentum going - guess I'm going to be stocking up on those tasty cookies and the Acai-Pomegranate underWAY drinks!

If you're looking to drop those extra pounds quickly and safely, both underWAY and Smart for Life products can be purchased with a 10% discount! The discount code for underWAY products is MCUS100FFUW at and Smart for Life products can be purchased at http://www.smartforlife/, with the following discount code: MCUS100FFSL. The codes expire on August 30th.

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of underWAY and Smart for Life and received samples of the products to review.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tips to Keep You and Your Family Safe This Summer

Summer is here, which means that Pudding Pie and myself are immersed in a frenzy of outdoor activity. If you can't find us at the pool, look for us at the park - anyplace there is outdoor fun to be had! Pudding Pie especially loves the pool, and spending our mornings or afternoons splashing in the cool water is a delightful way to pass time. However, with an over-confident Pudding Pie continually testing her boundaries and refusing to let a small thing like lack of swimming skills hold her back, I am always on alert.

Less than a month ago, a dear friend of mine had a scare. She'd taken her three-year-old daughter and one-year-old son to go swimming in a friend's backyard pool. Just before swimming time, my friend asked the other mom to keep an eye on her kids while she dashed to the restroom. The other mom has triplet three-and-half year old boys and she herded all five kids outside to play until my friend returned. The pool is fenced in and has a locked gate.

While the kids were playing, the other mom turned her back and busied herself with fixing some window screens. When my friend opened the door to the backyard, she was greeted by the sight of all five kids standing inside the pool fence, on the edge of the pool, looking into the water. The older four already had on their water wings, but her baby boy had on nothing to help him stay afloat - and there he stood, inches from the water, contemplating his next move.

My friend screamed and ran - and a tragedy was avoided, but things could so easily have had an unimaginable ending. Turns out, her friend's husband had temporarily removed the lock from the gate and he'd forgotten to tell his wife! The kids had quickly and easily let themselves in to the pool area. What sent more shivers down my spine was discovering that the husband had removed the lock some days earlier and his wife, not realising that their pool was now easily accessible to her boys, allowed them to play by themselves for a bit, in the backyard, while she worked in the kitchen ...

Spine-chilling stuff for any parent I'm sure and, in this instance, the story ends well. However, there are plenty of similar stories where the endings are not so fortunate and each time summer rolls around and kids are at play, whether in the pool or on the play set at a park, in their own backyard, they face potential danger. Approximately 4,200 people go to the emergency room every year due to pool or spa-related injuries and more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger go to the emergency room each year for play set-related injuries.

This summer, Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a leading product safety testing organization, has put together tips to help keep us and our children safe around the pool and play sets.

Pool Safety At Home
  • If you have a pool at home, install a fence. The fence should be at least four feet high and have a self-closing, self-latching gate that has a locking mechanism beyond a child's reach.
  • Cut overhanging tree limbs and remove chairs or ladders from the pool area to prevent children from climbing over the fence that surrounds the pool.
  • Keep grates and drain covers in good repair and secured in place.
  • Alert your family and guests to stay away from these devices, as the suction from drain outlets can be strong enough to cause entrapment of hair or body parts, which can potentially cause a person to drown.
  • Make sure you know infant and child CPR if you own a pool.

Be Safety Smart While Swimming

  • Supervision is a must.
  • Follow the 10/20 rule when you’re at the pool. The 10/20 rule states the supervising adult needs to position themselves to be able to scan the pool every 10 seconds, and reach the water within 20 seconds.
  • Always have rescue devices, such as UL-LISTED life preservers, nearby.
  • Flotation devices, toys and inflatable swimming aids are not safety devices. They are toys and can easily puncture and deflate.
  • Always drain wading pools after children are done playing. Infants can drown in just a few inches of water.
  • Have a telephone nearby and appropriate emergency numbers posted.
  • Remove all toys when you leave the pool. Toys may attract children to the unattended pool.
Before Installing A Backyard PlaySet
  • Make sure your backyard is large enough for playground equipment. The site must also provide good visibility and security. Before setting up equipment, look out for obstacles, such as the garage, tree branches, utility poles and wires.
  • Read and follow the manufacturer’s directions when setting up play set equipment. Be sure your child's weight and age fall within the manufacturer's recommended limits for the equipment.
  • Install protective surfacing, such as rubber tiles or mulch under the play set, at least six feed in all directions, to prevent serious injuries should a child fall.
Before Heading Out To Play
  • Carefully inspect backyard playground equipment. Make sure equipment is anchored safely in the ground, all equipment pieces are in good working order, S-hooks are entirely closed and bolts are not protruding.
  • Check for spaces that could trap children, such as openings in guardrails or between ladder rungs. These spaces should measure less than 3.5 inches or more than 9 inches.
  • Always supervise children on play set equipment to make sure they are playing safely.
  • Never attach ropes, jump ropes, clotheslines, pet leashes or cords of any kind to play set equipment. If used improperly, they can be potential strangulation hazards.
  • Watch for potential trip hazards, such as rocks, tree stumps and concrete footings. Make sure you’re children are aware of them as well.
  • Do a sandbox check. Before letting your child dig in, rake through the sand to check for debris or sharp objects. Also, inspect for any animal contamination or insect problems.
UL and Disney produced a pool safety video featuring Timon and Puumba from The Lion King teaching kids how to stay safe while swimming during the summer, and all year long. Check it out, I thought the video was entertaining and full of great safety tips, and Pudding Pie thought it was wonderful. I think she absorbed more water safety information from that animated short than she has from me all summer - I guess I don't have Puumba's charming delivery!

I wrote this review while participating in a blog campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Underwriters Laboratories. Mom Central sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Monday, June 14, 2010

SMART Technology For Today's Teachers

SMART Technologies has launched their SMART Board interactive whiteboard: an incredible tool for today's teachers. Coinciding with the launch of the SMART Board is "SMART Love of Learning" to acknowledge and celebrate those teachers who have impacted individuals around the world.

Who do I think is the the best teacher in the world? I haven't seen her in twenty plus years but I say without a moment's hesitation, my high school English teacher, Connie Zaayman.

By the time I met Mrs. Z, I already had a love for literature. Mrs. Z nurtured this; she showed me how you can love Chaucer, Wordsworth, Marlowe, Kafka and The Bard, and still be cool.

Our mutual love for literature aside, Mrs. Z is my nominee simply because for me - and most of my class - brilliant as she was, she was also so much more than our English teacher. She was passionate about English and passionate about life. She genuinely cared about us, her students. Mrs. Z knew us and she was in touch with us. Many a classmate confided in her about subjects not related to literature at all, and she kept all of our confidences.

We were all anxious to please her. I had other teachers - kind and dedicated - but my teen self didn't care if they were irked by assignments turned in late, nor did I glow when they doled out praise. Mrs Z. was different. A few words of praise scrawled in the margin and I felt buoyed up and invincible. A comment along the lines of "not your best effort" and I was red-faced and chagrined.

Under her guidance, I allowed myself to believe I had the talent she assured me I had. After high school, I majored in English at college, writing my post-grad thesis on Chaucer.

Today, over two decades later, I can still hear Mrs Z's voice when I read Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. I can still hear her telling us, her riveted students, the final sad details of the life of poet and novelist, Sylvia Plath. I can still clearly hear her recounting for us the love affair between the gifted poets Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning.

Mrs. Z is my example of how a great teacher can influence the course of our lives. Every student needs such a teacher and I hope my daughter encounters her own Mrs. Z along the way.

Like I said, my high school days were many moons ago, and so much has changed since then. Gone are the days of chalk and blackboards. Our children can look forward to classrooms with incredible interactive whiteboards from SMART Technologies. To find out exactly what the SMART Board interactive whiteboard is all about, check out The Magical Classroom.

Join the SMART Love of Learning Facebook group and enter to win a SMART Board interactive whiteboard for your child's school. or a school of your choosing! Check out the Parents Toolkit for tips for parents who are looking to raise money so that they can get a SMART Board interactive whiteboard for their school.

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of SMART Technologies. In addition Mom Central sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Shrek Forever After is Interactive Fun For The Family

I remember the first time I encountered Shrek. I was on board a transatlantic flight, resigned to 19.5 hours of boredom and fitful sleep. I decided to watch the movie, hoping it would lull me to sleep. Instead, the plot, the humor, and those wonderful characters kept me riveted and I found myself snorting and chuckling all the way to the credits - I loved it!

We haven't hit the theater to watch Shrek Forever After yet, but we have been fortunate enough to check out the Activision Shrek Forever After, The Final Chapter video game. The game extends the film into an interactive experience for the whole family to enjoy.

I wanted to get a child's impression of the game and, since Pudding Pie isn't quite ready for an E10+ video game, I sought out the opinion of her nine-year-old friend (and idol), Aiden. (Pudding Pie was not short-changed - we also received the Shrek Forever After movie storybook, and this has kept her entertained - we love to screech at the scheming Rumpel when he appears .) The always enthusuastic Aiden was delighted to test drive the Shrek Forever After Wii game (and to try his hand at the Shrek Forever After Mad Libs and coloring book). He gave me his sage words on the experience:

"The Good: I like the treasure chests, they give you money. The power ups are a great help. Its fun to be able to change characters. I like the fighting in the game.
The Bad: It would be nice if I could jump. There could be a few more things in cookie's store. It gets a little violent sometimes. "

Aside from Aiden's nuggets, this is what I got: This is a multi-user game that would definitely be the most fun with more than one player because some of the puzzles can only be played with 2 players, not one. Also, with more than one player, family members or friends can choose between Shrek, Fiona, Puss In Boots and Donkey - each with their own skills to help the team progress to the next level. Players meet up with a variety of challenges, working to solve puzzles and navigate mazes, tackle enemy armies and explore Shrek's normal world and his new alternate reality.

The graphics are excellent and there is dialogue/interaction between characters as you play them (they respond, basically). There is some violence that is a bit disturbing to a mom. (No blood, more cartoon-like, but the graphics are so good and the sound effects too, that a hit looks and sounds like a hit.) Of course it could be that I am just not accustomed to what seems to be the norm in video games ...
Overall a challenging and fun game that gets the player thinking about solutions. After two hours of play, Aiden quit only because his mom told him it was time to stop. He gave it a thumbs up and I have a feeling this game is going to be a big hit this summer!

Activision's Shrek Forever After video game is available for the Wii, Nintendo DS, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Activision and received the items necessary to facilitate my review. In addition, Mom Central sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A New Secret Weapon For Moms

I used to brag a little about my incredibly un-picky eater. There wasn't much you couldn't set down before Pudding Pie. She'd give it all a go - within reason. I (smugly) sympathised with friends who lamented they couldn't get their kids to move beyond chicken nuggets or PBJ sandwiches, and I eagerly suggested ways to help them solve their dinnertime dilemmas. Of course I patted myself on the back for instilling such excellent eating habits into my adorable child.

Then one day, when I wasn't paying attention, somebody slipped my precious girl the toddler memo about refusing to eat anything healthy. The memo that recommends refusing to eat bread crusts, gagging at anything green and healthy, clamping ones jaw shut at the very thought of whole grain, eschewing any food not loaded with carbs and sugar ...

I was horrified. Where did my model eater go? Who was the dinnertime tyrant pretending to be her? I finally realized that it was not my child so much as her age; she has entered the realm of picky-eaterdom. Whatever that toddler memo said, its authority trumps her previous desire to please mom and eat whatever she is served.

I realized I had to up my game and find cunning new ways to get the daily required amounts of goodness into her stubborn little body. Uncle Ben’s Whole Grain White Rice is a wonderful tool in my arsenal. It is the first and only whole grain rice that tastes just like white rice, and looks like it too! I get to feed Pudding Pie a good serving of fiber without her knowledge, and I still manage to cater to her new-found aversion to anything brown and healthy-looking.

This evening was our traditional Sunday dinner: burgers and hot dogs on the grill. Pudding Pie got her hot dog, but she also got her fiber and vegetable when I served her a mix of Uncle Ben’s Whole Grain White Rice and broccoli. It was simple, yet delicious, and she loved it!

I was lucky enough to be able to share Uncle Ben’s Whole Grain White Rice with four other moms, with kids ranging in age from 12 years old all the way down to eighteen months old and the verdict was the same - a roaring success!

*Uncle Ben’s Whole Grain White Rice products will be available at grocery stores nationwide starting July 2010.

I wrote this review while participating in a blog campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Uncle Ben’s and received samples to facilitate my candid review. Mom Central sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Teach Your Tweens Not to Fret the Sweat

Pudding Pie has a few years to go before she enters her tweens and we have to think about things like using deodorant, but Meisie is a dear friend of mine, who is also mom to three tweens, and she keeps me chuckling with her tales of life with her tween girls.

I asked Meisie how things went down in her family when it was time to introduce the subject of odor control. Her ten-year-old is not quite there yet, but her twelve-year-old twin daughters are. The twins lead energetic lives between school, their varied afternoon activities and their beloved T-Ball. Meisie said that when she realized, after one enthusiastic afternoon hug (and a private wrinkle of the nose), that it was time to introduce deodorant, she made sure to turn a matter of necessity into a fun outing - and a sweet rite of passage.

She asked her twin daughters to join her on a trip to their local grocery store and, after picking up a few mundane essentials, she suggested they check out the deodorants. The girls were enthusiastic and they all had fun investigating the dizzying array of choices before Meisie gently guided them toward choosing the right deodorant. They ended their expedition with a stop for Sundaes at the local ice cream parlor, where they giddily 'toasted' their latest foray into their teens. My smart friend took advantage of her girls' giddy mood to stress the importance of regularly using their new deodorants to keep themselves free of odor and thus avoid any discomfort and embarassment.

Recently, Unilever released the Tween Confidence Index, which suggests that tween confidence is short-lived but can be safe-guarded by maintaining strong communication between tweens and parents. With this and other resources available at, Unilever aims to show parents that they can talk to their tweens about how the right deodorant can keep them free from odor, embarrassment and discomfort along the way.

I shared the site with Meisie and we both love the expert advice section from the "perspiration pros" - great tips and stories! the stories are not just about how not to fret the sweat, but are also on how to handle those moments when you realize, with a gulp, that your tween is becoming a teen.

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Unilever and received the items necessary to facilitate my review. In addition, Mom Central sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Must-Have for all Hot Mamas To Be

When I was pregnant with Pudding Pie, it's safe to say that I was the poster child for the not hot mom to be. My sister was pregnant at the same time and we'd compare notes over the phone. She was happy, energetic, confident and always stylish. I was nauseous, exhausted, anxious and a complete style disaster. Of course I did gain 70 pounds - around twice the recommended amount, and this didn't help. I also had 'morning sickness' most of the way through my pregnancy and, while it really wasn't pleasant, it was also my excuse for the saggy, baggy, blotchy, bleary disaster I presented to the world each morning. I kept waiting for the 'glow', and it did show up eventually - the morning that Pudding Pie emerged and my pregnancy was over!

I had piles of pregnancy books but what I needed was one easy-to-read book with punchy, bite-sized bits of valuable info: The Hot Mom To be Handbook delivers exactly this. Author Jessica Denay addresses a host of pregnancy topics, including the right way to tell your boss you're pregnant, how to deal with those legendary pregnancy mood swings, and keeping the spark in your relationship even when you feel like baby hippo.

The book is wonderful for its "Yes, I know exactly what you mean!" moments. Denay touches on Pregnancy Brain; cravings; nausea that simply won't go away (Denay does give us a list of what mom says works best if you're afflicted); the angst over choosing; how to have a memorable shower; decorating baby's room.

I particularly love her Hot Mom Checklist: Focus on what you can control (healthy eating and drinking, limiting caffeine, eliminating smoking and alcohol), and let go of what you can't! (Other people's reactions/pregnancies, your mother-in-law ...) I was always comparing myself/my pregnancy to other moms and moms-to-be and it was never a good idea. Denay reminds us that there is no perfect pregnancy and that we should strive to find our own balance. Oh boy, I could have used this advice four years ago!

One of my favorite chapters examines Baby 'Crap" and here Denay is not referring to the stuff that diapers are made for, but rather the mind-numbingly long list of must-haves that we decide we need for baby. I know exactly what she is talking about ... The more I prepared for baby's arrival, the longer my list of essentials grew. To be fair, I was discovering things that I really did need, but I also spent precious pennies where I didn't need to.

There are invaluable sections on how to select the best and most apropriate strollers and diaper bagsfor you/your lifestyle. My husband and I were bewildered and baffled by the array of choices when we decided to select a stroller. We ended up choosing a beast that barely fit in my trunk and took several minutes to set up each time we used it. It wasn't too long after Pudding Pie was born that we acquired two more strollers: a jogging stroller and a light, compact stroller that requires no more than a deft flick of the wrist to get it roadworthy.

We got lucky with the diaper bag. I received a Petunia Picklebottom as a shower gift and I never looked back. I have a friend who had her son just three weeks before Pudding Pie arrived and she went through several diaper bags all in his first year. It is easy to underestimate how much use that sucker will get! In her Handbook, Denay lists her favorite diaper bags in every price range.

I found myself nodding feverishly in agreement when I got to the line where Denay says, and I quote " ... getting supportive bras during your pregnancy for the time being and beyond is a MUST!" (page 171). At first it didn't occur to me that I'd actually need to throw down cash and get new, decent bras for during pregnancy. I decided I'd be fine with what I had. Besides, I couldn't afford it, I needed to save the money for more important baby stuff (yet another cute blanket, extra refills for my diaper disposal unit, a bottle sterilizer for my exclusively breast fed baby.) As my pregnancy progressed and those bras began to bite into my increasingly more fleshy shoulders, and as these same bras began to sag helplessly under an increased load that they were never meant to uphold, I was forced to re-visit my initial decision. I gave in and I bought pregnancy bras. A few months later, I was that mom, racing into the store with a wailing newborn, frantically searching for decent nursing bras because I was so focused on getting all the baby gadgets, I'd forgotten about the important stuff for mom - again!

At the end of each of the nine chapters, Denay poses some monthly journal questions and they are a great way to help a mom-to-be get her thoughts on paper. I wish I'd kept a pregnancy journal, perhaps I would have if I'd had questions like these to help get me going. Also neat are the Bump On A Budget and Eco-Minded Mama sections (I love the tip to squeeze a lemon into your diaper bucket as a natural way to neutralize odor!) found near the end of most of the chapters.

If you're swimming in a sea of pregnancy advice and you need a candid read that'll have you smiling, while it dispenses valuable advice, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Jessica Denay's The Hot Mom to Be Handbook - you won't be disappointed! Also, the last chapter has a sweet bonus: the Hot Moms Club Exclusive Directory: punch in the discount code andget access to thousands of dollars worth of online discounts at Denay's favorite companies - ooh!

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of HarperCollins and received a copy of The Hot Mom to Be Handbook to facilitate my review. Mom Central also sent me a gift certificate to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Say Hello to Bright, Bold, Comfortable and Confident U!

Pudding Pie has a few years to go before I sit her down and talk to her about women's health issues, but I clearly remember my own mom earnestly sitting me down and attempting to open up a discussion about the beginning of menstruation and related issues. We are very close, but on that afternoon, I wanted to be anywhere else but where I was. I was an awkward teen, embarassed by the mere thought of having a period. I had so many questions, but I couldn't bring myself to address them with my mom - not even when she was offering answers!

As a teenager, I had a close friend who declined to discuss the matter at all with her own mom and instead chose to deal with the onset of her menstruation as best she could. Months went by and her mom became puzzled at the large bills she was receiving from our boarding school pharmacy. She questioned my friend and discovered that the poor girl believed that once you began your period, you had to wear bulky sanitary pads every day - forever! Imagine her relief when her mom gently informed her that this wasn't the case!

When its time for our mother/daughter chat, I want Pudding Pie to feel confident and relaxed, I want her to see our conversations about women's health issues as direct and informative rather than uncomfortable and embarassing. Most of all, I want her to feel at ease enough to ask questions, so that she never has to suffer the misconceptions that my dear friend did all those years ago!

We need to challenge the climate of secrecy and embarassment surrounding an event as mundane as monthly menstruation and, with this in mind, Kotex has launched the bold and bright U product. U by Kotex is a new line of tampons, pads and liners, with a slim, thinner design, making them easier and more comfortable to use. U is also a product line with a mission to help girls become more educated about their period, to learn how to better take care of themselves, and to refuse to go along with the norms of secrecy, embarassment surrounding menstruation.

Visit to learn more about the U by Kotex line, get some free samples and download a fun Daily Journal iPhone or iTouch application that lets you take pictures, add play lists and geo-target your location for each entry. I clicked through the Period Know-How quiz and learned a few new facts myself. U by Kotex has also aired some very clever and funny commercials which address the myths - and realities of having your period, check out this one for a good chuckle:

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Kotex and received products necessary to facilitate my candid review. In addition, Mom Central sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mom Central's Mother's Day Gift Guide and Giveaways!

Its time to celebrate! Yup, its time to celebrate your own mom, time to celebrate being a mom - and its time to enjoy being celebrated as a mom! Mom Central is helping us with all this celebrating by offering their own fab guide on what gifts to give mom this coming Sunday, May 9th. They are also hosting a bunch of giveaways - so fun! Click over and scroll through their great ideas, then get your name in the hat for a chance to win a fabulous prize!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Yippee! It's time for the annual Mothers Day Giveaway from 5 Minutes For Mom!

Mother's Day 2010

It's time for one of my most favorite bloggy events of the year! Yup, 5 Minutes For Mom is hosting their annual Mother's Day Giveaway, and this is a party not to be missed! I've faithfully attended each 5 Minutes For Mom Mother's Day giveaway event since I began blogging, and I wouldn't miss 'em!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

'Thanks a Million' from Banquet

Last Saturday was a crazy one: We had an Easter party to attend in the morning, shoe shopping to be done for my toddler right after that, and a little fishing trip planned for the afternoon into early evening. I knew I'd have zero time to throw anything together for dinner - and I knew I'd hav ea hungry family to feed, so I turned to a trusted friend. I hauled out the crock-pot, emptied in two packages of Banquet Crock-Pot Classics Hearty Beef and Vegetables, and stopped worrying about dinner. Ten hours later our family sat down to a delicious, healthy, filling meal. Such tasty food, so little effort, just one pot to clean - it doesn't get any better!

For over 50 years, Banquet has created home-style frozen dinner meals for those days when there's just no time to create something delicious and nutritious from scratch and this year, Banquet has been giving away thousands of dollars as a way of saying "Thanks a Million" to their customers. Packages of Banquet frozen meals with the "Thanks a Million" logo each contain a special thank you gift, either one of over 16,000 redeemable cash prizes, worth anywhere from $10 to $100,000, or a Banquet coupon. The promotion has been a huge hit so far and it looks like all of the special packages will have been purchased in the next few weeks. This month will likely be the last chance you'll have to win, so get out there and buy your Banquet products, it could be your lucky day!

"I wrote this review while participating in a blog campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Banquet and received a sample to facilitate my candid review. Mom Central sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate."

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sign Kids Up For Summertime Fun With Custom Camps

One childhood memory which will forever stand out for me was a week-long adventure at 'Lone Star' ranch, a sprawling ranch near the area where I lived. This week out in the bush was my version of today's summer camp. I grew up in Africa, so when I say 'the bush', I mean the kind with lions, elephants, crocodile-infested rivers, unfriendly snakes (actually many unfriendly slithering things) - it was an adventure!

We camped in tents along the banks of a river, we 'showered' behind a makeshift curtain, with buckets of ice-cold water from the river, we would huddle together and "shine fangs" (brush teeth) by flashlight each night, we ate around a blazing campfire, and we drank warm tea sweetened with condensed milk . Breakfasts were always epic: there is nothing like the smell of bacon and eggs sizzling over a campfire at dawn to bring sleepy-eyed teenage girls out of their tents! During the day we went on all kinds of adventures in the bush, we learned to track animals; we studied indigenous plants; we climbed rocks and we swam in croc-free waterfalls (at least that's what they told us . . .) At night we talked around the campfire until our camp counselors hustled us off to bed, and then we'd lie sprawled on the tops of our sleeping bags whispering, giggling and listening to the sounds of the night: distant grunts, calls, splashes, and the not-so-distant rustles, slithers, scuffles.

I shudder now at how rudimentary things were, but I also envy that teenage girl who so gamely entered into this adventure and learned not only about animals and plants but also about herself. Most of all though, I remember the camaraderie of a group of teen girls on this rite of passage together.

My daughter is still too young for camp, but the time will come when she'll be ready and I'm determined that she will have the chance to experience her version of what I had. KinderCare is going to help me achieve this goal: here is an organization that recognizes how important it is to help fulfill our childhood need for adventure and fun!

To fiure out how our children would like to spend their summers, KinderCare surveyed nearly 3,000 kids! They found out that what kids want is adventures, arts, crafts, and trips. They responded by partnering with teachers to design a nationwide summer camp program to provide kids with activities pertaining to their interests. They developed 12 unique week-long day camps with themes including Wild, Wild West, Wilderness 101, Dig Ancient Egypt, You've Got Talent!, Puppeteer Road Show, Gross & Gooey Science, Spectacular Sports, Animal Antics, Science Adventures, Art Expo, Kids' Kitchen, Splish Splash, Surfs Up!, and Everyday Heroes.

With such a diverse range of camp options, you'll be able to find something cool within KinderCare's Summer Camps to keep your child happily occupied, No matter what their interests are. The weeklong timeframe of the camps also gives parents the flexibility to sign their kids up for as few or many sessions as they'd like.

With approximately 1,700 centers located in 39 states and the District of Columbia, KinderCare Learning Centers, an accredited early childhood provider, offer a range of educational programs and after-school care for infants as young as six weeks old to school-aged children through age 12. Run by specially trained, passionate teachers who fully embrace a balanced approach to learning, KinderCare Learning Centers aim to educate and entertain children within nurturing environment, and encourage strong communication between families and teachers.

For more on the KinderCare Summer Camp Program, visit KinderCare’s website:

“I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of KinderCare and received a gift certificate to thank me for taking the time to participate.”

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sing-Along Fun For The Whole Family

The day we received our Sing Along with Barbie DVD in the mail, Pudding Pie squealed with anticipation - we couldn't get the DVD into the player fast enough and, when we hit 'play', she wasn't disappointed. Sing Along with Barbie is a compilation of 12 songs from the popular Barbie movies, and Barbie lovers can join in karaoke-style.

Well, Pudding Pie is not old enough to read yet, but she listens intently and is fast catching on to the lyrics of her favorite tunes: "I Am a Girl Like You" (Barbie as The Princess and the Pauper), "Connected" (Barbie and The Diamond Castle) and "All For One" (Barbie & the Three Musketeers). Plus, she gets mom and dad to join in, and, with the on-screen lyrics being so easy to follow, we put on quite a family show!

Last week, we took our new DVD to a playdate at a friend's home and it was too cute to watch a four-year-old, a three-year-old and a two-year-old earnestly singing along, while executing all kinds of fabulous dance moves! I have a feeling that we're going to get a lot of mileage out of this Barbie DVD.

At only $9.99, the Sing Along with Barbie DVD is a great gift to give any Barbie fan.

“I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Mattel. In addition, I received a gift certificate to thank me for taking the time to participate.”

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Crimson Rooms: Intriguing Mix of Love and Mystery

If you're in the mood to curl up with a good read, Katharine McMahon's latest novel is one I recommend. Evelyn Gifford is the unconventional heroine in The Crimson Rooms, a novel set in post World War I England. As a woman struggling to establish herself as a female lawyer in a distinctly chauvinist society, her career challenges are laid out for her. We meet her as a 30-year-old, unmarried woman, resigned herself to a life without romantic love, and heartbroken over the death of her beloved brother, James.

Late one night, her world is turned upside down by the emergence of a woman with a child whom she claims is the son of the deceased James. The twists and turns of this novel make for a plot filled with drama and suspense; we are kept guessing to the last pages as we discover that things are not all as they seem. McMahon does not tie all ends off predictably, but rather concludes her novel with a beginning for the courageous Evelyn; the beginning of a true sense of self.
The Crimson Rooms is on sale from February 18th and the book will be available at the following online retailers: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders, and Indie Bound.
“I wrote this review while participating in a blog campaign by MotherTalk on behalf of G.P. Putnam's Sons / Riverhead and received a copy of the book to facilitate my candid review. Mom Central sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.”

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Mom Central's Valentine's Day Gift Guide and Giveaways

It's February already and that means its time to celebrate the one you love! Before you start scratching your head and wondering what on earth you're going to get for that special person this year, click over to Mom Central and check out their second annual Valentine's Day Gift Guide and giveaways. Week one is currently underway, and they have some great gift ideas - I am loving the sassy lingerie from Frederick's of Hollywood!

"I wrote this review while participating in a blog campaign by Mom Central. Mom Central entered my name in a random drawing to win a gift to thank me for taking the time to participate."