Friday, July 18, 2008

Mom Central: GameStop

When the folks at GameStop and Mom Central asked if I would like to do a review for them my first thought was “How fun!” and my second thought was, “Heck yeah!”. Once that was out of the way I was ready to do business (or at least pretend I was).

When I received the GameStop gift card I decided that instead of dragging all three children out and listening to them fight, Hubby and I would just go looking for a new game together instead. To be honest, I’m glad I did it that way because it gave me a chance to focus on finding a game that everyone could enjoy.

As we walked into the store the manager greeted us and asked if we needed any help finding anything in particular. I told her “not at the moment but thank you” and we went to browse the shelves. There was a nice selection of games to choose from but I did notice that the prices are somewhat high for used games. Either that or I’m just becoming a major cheapskate in my old age. I do however like the fact that if you buy a used game from GameStop and decide it’s not really what you wanted, you can return it within a week for a refund.

So with my gift card in hand, I decided on Mario vs. Sonic at the Olympic Games because it was something the kids would have to get off their keisters to play. After I chose my game, I went to pay for it and had a nice conversation with the manager as she completed my purchase. I’ve been to this particular GameStop a few times and I will say that each time she tries to be very nice and helpful to people. The store itself is always kept clean and all the games are categorized in a way (by game system, accessory, etc) that makes finding things easy.

Much to my 17 year old’s chagrin, Mario vs. Sonic doesn’t include blowing anything up and my 13 year old doesn’t get to feed or raise animals but there are A LOT of games to choose from. You are sure to get a workout and build up a little muscle in your arms while playing this game so the heathens aren’t complaining too much. The five year old loves Sonic the Hedgehog so you’ll hear nothing negative from him at all.

Thank you GameStop and Mom Central for giving my family the opportunity to have more fun together.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Mother Talk Review: More Than It Hurts You

I have just finished reading the third novel by Darin Strauss (the acclaimed author of Chang and Eng) making this my first read by this author. In this newest work, Strauss touches on a variety of subjects reaching out to a wide and varied audience.

In More Than It Hurts You, the main characters are Josh and Dori Goldin, a white Jewish family from Long Island who on the outside look like the typical young family but soon you find out that something is very wrong in the Goldin household.

The story begins with the husband, Josh who is enjoying a relaxing Friday afternoon work break joking with colleagues. His life is forever changed though when his secretary rushes in to tell Josh that his wife just called from the emergency room where she had taken their eight month old son, Zack. Panic stricken, Josh rushes to St. Joe’s hospital and finds out Dori had entered the emergency room that morning with the baby who had coded in the parking lot.

As Josh tries to figure out what is going on, a battle is being fought between Dori and the head of pediatric ICU, Dr. Darlene Stokes. Josh’s wife refuses to allow anymore tests to be done on her son since he now seems to be fine. Something about Dori stirs the doctor’s suspicions and Darline tries to understand why this woman doesn’t want to find out exactly why her son coded in the parking lot of St. Joe’s only hours ago. Being a single mother herself, Dr. Stokes can only think of how she would feel if it had been her son. Not understanding any of it, Josh is forced to trust his wife’s judgement as they take their son from the hospital against the doctor’s orders.

Now I won’t tell you how the whole book goes but I will say that what follows is another shocking E.R. trip, child protective services gets involved, a family is turned upside down, the meaning of “love” is twisted, and a doctor’s faith in the system is put to the test. The whole story seems to steep itself in racism, classism, and sensationalism when finally you are handed the very thing you knew all along. If the first part of the book enticed you then you’ll just have to go read it for yourself. I can’t tell you the whole thing because then why would you bother getting the book hmmmm?

I have to say that parts of the story left me scratching my head. Of course, I have a tendency to over analyze things and can’t just leave well enough alone so that could be why. *smile* More Than It Hurts You was interesting though and touched on a subject that isn’t well known in our society even though it most definitely exists as I've seen an example of it myself.

I can’t say this book really grabbed me though. It did give me an interest in reading Darin Schauss’ other novels so I say give More Than It Hurts You a chance. I think many of you have and will find it to your liking.

*This review brought to you courtesy of Mother Talk*

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Skin MD Natural Shielding Lotion... So Soft.

When the folks at Skin MD Natural asked me if I would like to review their Shielding Lotion, I was truly excited to see what it could do. Living in the desert means dry skin is a major problem for my family at any and all seasons. Regular lotions do not work very well in this climate which leaves my whole family walking around looking like a bunch of lizard people (think of the TV movie "V" from when we were kids).

Since I was expecting just a small sample imagine my surprise to see a big 4 ounce bottle of Skin MD Natural Shielding Lotion in my mailbox. From the moment I opened it, my daughter and I fought for possession of the bottle like two Red Sox fans over a box seat! She has a habit of carrying away all the lotion and hoarding it in her room but I felt this one was worth fighting for.

When we first tried the lotion we found that it had a very silky feel to it even before doing anything with it. Once rubbed in it absorbed quickly and left my hands feeling very smooth. I also noticed that it took very little lotion to moisturize my hands which was a nice change because usually you have to put on tons of lotion to get the same effect.

I was happily surprised to find that there was no residue or greasy feeling after putting it on. My husband even got in on the review and used a small amount on his very rough feet. His feet are always so dry that they crack and bleed at times but after three days of using the Shielding Lotion we saw a remarkable difference on both feet. Since my heels had started to dry out as well I put some on the bottoms of both feet and then put cotton socks on while I slept. After even one night my feet felt so smooth and soft. It was an amazing feeling and having your feet feel that good just puts a glow on you.

From items I've read, what makes Skin MD different is that its not a moisturizing lotion but a, shielding lotion. What the lotion does is bond with your skin to create a shield that will protect the skin from the elements while it allows moisturizers to remain inside the skin where they are needed.

If you live in the desert like I do or if you have problem spots that nothing seems to help, I really recommend you try Skin MD Natural Shielding Lotion. We are in love with it in this house and at least three times a week I have to go hunt down the bottle because someone else is using the lotion. Is it weird to want to put a bottle of lotion in a lockbox? Just kidding.
Just other great things about this lotion is that it's not tested on animals, is fragrance and colorant free, dermatology tests, non-comedogenic, hypoallergenic, and paraben free. In my opinion, that makes this a shielding lotion for pretty much everyone including those with eczema.

Thank you Skin MD for allowing me the chance to discover this fantastic lotion. I really enjoy doing reviews when the products are simple everyday things that are useful to us in our daily lives. Skin MD Natural Shielding Lotion is one of those reviews and I’ve already spread the word to a few friends and neighbors about it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

EduReview- Let's Get Ready For Kindergarten

"Let's Get Ready for Kindergarten" is the first book in Stacey Kannensburg's "Let's Get Ready" series. If you have little ones getting ready for either Kindergarten or First Grade, you will love these two fabulous books by Cedar Valley Publishing - “Let’s Get Ready for Kindergarten” and “Let’s Get Ready for First Grade.

Let’s Get Ready For Kindergarten!” and “Let’s Get Ready For First Grade!” are both award winning books receiving national acclaim by winning the 2006 Best Educational Book of the Year Award by the AWA, a Silver Addy for illustrations from the American Advertising Awards and by being selected by Orca Communications as one of the top new products for kids in their Fall/Spring Media’s Best Guide. “Let’s Get Ready For First Grade” is the winner of the 2007 Teacher’s Choice Award for the Family.

The books are sturdy and made to use with Dry Erase Markers so your kids can practice in them over and over and you can use them for more than one of your children. (My son loves the dry erase marker feature - it makes completing the exercises more of a game to him and he just loves to use them!) These bright and colorful books will make getting ready for September fun for you and your kids.

I had a chance to speak with Stacey and find out how she came up with the idea for the Let's Get Ready books. Behind Cedar Valley Publishing are two stay-at-home moms - Stacey Kannenberg and Linda Desimowich - who wanted to help get their own kids ready for school. So in 2004, they set out to help parents get involved in the educational process for their kids.

Award winning author Stacey Kannenberg says, “I believe parents are responsible for getting their kids ready for that first day of school! It’s not just knowing your name, address, phone number, and tying your shoes, it’s about taking an active role in learning. These books are helping parents get involved in education at the core!! Never fear, it’s never to late to start. These books are working inside homes and schools across the nation.” And a great bonus - 10% of all profits are donated to literacy programs!

I liked the size, too - I was able to tuck it into my bag easily and tote it along on a few outings where I knew we'd have some time to kill and it was perfect. Each page has a separate activity, so you can touch on things fairly quickly and move onto the next thing.

Not only does each page have a different activity, but at the bottom you have "Mrs. Good", the teacher, who suggests other things you can do on the page - like "Can you name another pair of opposites?" I liked that feature a lot - not only did they have some creative ideas, but sometimes just a word of encouragement like "Magnificent!"

Friday, February 8, 2008

MomCentral Review: Froose

Froose is a new juice beverage that combines organic fruit with whole grains in an attempt to provide a healthier drink for our kids. When MomCentral asked me to be a part of their Froose blog tour, I couldn't wait to see what the kids thought of it. My hope was that all three kids would like the samples and I would finally have something they all liked.
After trying each flavor though, we ended up with mixed reviews. Out of the three flavors available (Cheerful Cherry, Playful Peach, and Perfect Pear), the only thing I did get the kids to agree on was that Cheerful Cherry was the unanimous favorite. Here is what they said...

~My almost 17 year old said the Froose in general was "okay" but that it had a bad aftertaste. Unfortunately, after only one sip of the Playful Peach he wouldn't touch another box of the stuff so I'm pretty sure that means he wasn't too keen on it.

~My 13 year old said the exact same thing about the bad aftertaste but said she would drink the Cheerful Cherry again if I were to buy it. No chance of getting her to drink the other flavors though.

~The last to weigh in was my 5 year old and it was his opinion that I was most interested in. By the time he shared his thoughts, I had realized that Froose was not going to be something I could get all three kids to drink but that's alright. The 5 year old decided his favorite flavor was also Cheerful Cherry but he liked Perfect Pear as well. I asked him about the aftertaste and he said it tasted good to him.

I'm afraid Playful Peach didn't make the cut for any of them though. I eventually had to pawn that flavor off on the little boy across the street. Hey, I refuse to throw away perfectly drinkable juice boxes. *smile* I like knowing that Froose uses whole organic brown rice because it's gluten-free. While my family doesn't have problems with gluten intolerance, I have friends with children who do and know how hard it can make buying things.

To be honest, at this point I almost don't care how Froose tastes because they cover everything that is so important to us as parents when we are looking for portable juice drinks for our kids. Even the box (packaging) is cute and environmentally friendly as well! I also like how Froose explains their reasoning for the 4fl. oz size of their drinks. I quote, "Why 4 fl. oz.? We chose the 4.23 fl. oz., instead of a larger 6.75 or 8 fl. oz., size to help support the healthy growth and development of young children. The larger sizes are just too big – kids will either fill up on too much juice or it will be thrown out". That makes alot of sense and its nice that Froose is thinking about things to that degree.

All in all I would say that if you're just starting a child out on juice, have a younger child, or you usually have organic juices around then your kids will probably like Froose just fine. My kids are use to sugar-free non-organic juice though and noticed the taste of the brown rice water and syrup right off. I'm sorry to say I did too and it kept me from trying more than just a sip or two. I do wish Froose existed when my kids were little though because I have no doubt they would love having it now. Live and learn I guess.

Despite my picky kids, I give Froose the thumbs up and hope to see it become very popular.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Sorry Babe, I've Got A 30 Day Headache.

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder but does that also apply to one's sex drive as well? Even a No Libido Jo like me knows the answer to that is more often than not a great big "HELL YES"! What if you took away the boring mechanical sex for 30 days and learned to fill that void with something even better? Something that might change intimacy between you and your partner forever. Would that make you just a big horndog or a better lover because of it?

When I volunteered to review Dr. Ian Kerner's new book, Sex Detox: Recharge Desire. Revitalize Intimacy. Rejuvenate Your Love Life. for Parent Bloggers Network, my hope was that it would help give the hubby and I a little push towards adding more "us" time to our lives. While we definitely love each other, sex and romance are two things that are not in abundance once you take into consideration my constant illnesses, his work schedule, three kids, homeschooling, his classload for his degree, and life in general. I mean, when do we have time for things like conversation much less sex??!! So the thought of a book dedicated to reigniting sparks and renewing interest in each other made me curious and gave me a little bit of hope. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be for us... for now.

While reading Sex Detox I ended up coming down with a sinus infection, bronchitis, and going into adrenal crisis which meant that the only cozy night together the hubby and I got to spend was in the emergency room of our local hospital. *sigh* So I won't be able to give you a review on how well the book may or may not work but I will tell you what interested me about Dr. Kerner's "detox" plan and I do still look forward to putting it to good use in the future.

Sex Detox is based on a 30-day plan outlined by the author to help partners start noticing each other again as something other than just parents. Yes, that means getting you to remember that the person beside you is also an attractive, sexy, and sexual person that has nothing to do with raising babies, spit up, or PTA meetings.

I know, you're probably thinking that sex was something we thought about BEFORE kids and now it's just something you remember having like your pre-baby stomach without stretchmarks... once loved but long gone. This book isn't just about sex though, it's also about digging deeper into yourself and issues surrounding your relationship as well. It's about making it something even more that you crave for a whole new reason.

Sex Detox: Recharge Desire, Revitalize Intimacy, Rejuvenate Your Love Life explores the dynamics of whether or not you are in a positive healthy relationship, how you may feel about your own body and any insecurities you may have lying below the surface about it, gets you thinking about what you put into your body, trusting your partner, and so much more. It seems to me that Dr. Kerner's hope is to not only kickstart a doormant sex life but also get rid of some of the issues that may have led to it in the first place.

Sex Detox is made up of six sections, each with a different focus like; Starting Up, Your Dating Health and Outlook, Influence and Influencers, How You Date, What Do You Want In A Partner? and Ready, Steady, Go! By having each section address a different aspect of our lives, the book also then in turn addresses the factors that can affect how we handle relationships and sex in general. I thought it was cute that Dr. Kerner even has a "diet plan" featuring "menu suggestions" for you each day that include things like quizzes and instructions to get you enjoying yourself again.

To do a sex detox you must first take sex out of the picture for 30 days while you do the things I talked about above. The idea is that by doing this, you will actually start thinking about sex again and then actually even WANTING to HAVE sex again! Can you imagine?! I don't know about you but just thinking the word "sex" tires me out most of the time so to actually get to physically wanting it again... Dr. Kerner has my attention!

As I said, I didn't have a chance to find out if the book actually helps which was kind of a bummer but I still learned alot from it. As to whether or not it will help the hubby and I, well I might have to save the book until there is a time when the thought of no sex for 30 days actually sounds HARD for us to accomplish! At the rate things are going now, we're so damn tired that even a 6 MONTH detox isn't enough to send either of us into a frenzied haze of hormones and worrisome nailbiting!

Now that I think about it, maybe before we try a sex detox we should look into a sex influx right?! *smile*

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Parent Bloggers Network: The Ultimate Tea Diet

Like most people, I've known about the benefits of drinking Green Tea and tea in general for several years. There have been studies conducted on its effects in a large number of countries plus, Asian countries have been drinking it for thousands of years so that tells me it's worth at least looking into.

Its no secret that I've been trying to become healthier despite my health problems so when Parent Bloggers Network asked for volunteers to review The Ultimate Tea Diet by Mark "Dr. Tea" Ukra, I jumped at the chance. I like tea and it's not a crash diet so it's something I could at least give a try and hope to succeed at.

When I began reading The Ultimate Tea Diet I was honestly surprised since I expected it to jump right into how this "diet" works and what all you can and can't have to do on it. Instead this book is filled with possibly everything you could ever want to know about tea. There is info like an in depth history of tea, all the various kinds and flavors that are available, sections that tell you what the benefits of tea are, and even 70 pages dedicated to nothing but recipes! Until you read this book you seriously have no idea how many different ways you can use tea in your food. It is just unreal!

As I said, this is no crash diet. Mark "Dr. Tea" Ukra doesn't tell you to drink only tea and immediately lose tons of weight. What he does do is try to help you understand how your body processes certain things and how the chemical compounds in tea can help your body fight their affects. Mr. Ukra knows that along with drinking tea you need to also think positively, exercise, and also eat a healthy well balanced diet. He doesn't offer an overnight miracle cure nor does he send you running to the store to buy the latest fad pill. The advice in this book is some that anyone can understand and follow. Ukra doesn't stop at listing the benefits of tea for weight loss though. He also lists several other health problems that tea can be useful for. That means you can continue to use this book even after you've lost the weight!

One of my favorite things about this book is that Mark Ukra's "tone" reminds me more of talking to a knowledgeable friend than talking to an expert in the field of tea. Any diet book I've ever picked up has read like a medical journal that comes across completely pompous. Dr. Tea on the other hand had me wishing I lived closer so I could come sit in this tea shop and talk to him. Knowing he has had realistic problems in his life too made him easier to warm up to and feel like he really was trying to help you. I like that.

If tea is something you've never really thought much about don't worry, Ukra's book makes it easy for anyone to find a tea they can enjoy. Included in the book is a quiz to help you find the type of tea that suits you best, ideas on how to incorporate tea into your daily life, and even ways to curb cravings for things like chocolate and sweets. The recipes in the back of the book are easy to make and I couldn't even finish reading the book before I had to try a few!

My favorite recipes from the book were the ones for the FrosTEAs and the rubs. You can feel like you're being bad and cheating on your diet while in fact you are helping it right along! Even better, my three children actually begged me to make the FrosTEAs throughout the day and my husband complimented a baked chicken that I used the rub on. AWESOME!

This diet is straightforward, simple, and will actually give you results you can see without worrying about "falling off the diet wagon". There is no set amount of tea you have to drink each day (just drink as much as you can) but the more you drink the better you will feel. It's a win win situation don't you think? The Ultimate Tea Diet is worth reading whether you're trying to lose weight or just want to feel healthier all the way around.

So, has Jo actually lost any weight on this tea diet? Why yes I have. I've lost two pounds in the last week and that is with only adding a few cups of tea in place of a three of my usual glasses of Wild Cherry Pepsi, drinking a few FrosTEAs, and trying a tea rub or two. Considering that doctors told me my chances of losing weight were slim to none because of not having a thyroid or adrenal glands....I'm one excited gal!! Can you imagine what I can do once I've cut down or even cut out soda altogether?

If anyone decides to try The Ultimate Tea Diet please let me know. We can have fun with this together and hold each other accountable. I also plan to put something in my sidebar (right under my Exercise For Comments section) that lists how much weight I've lost on the Tea Diet so keep watching as I hopefully start shrinking. *smile*

Leave a comment telling me what YOUR favorite flavor of tea is. Mine is Moroccan Mint Green Tea. Mmmmmmmm.