Posts Tagged ‘Reviews’

The Motherloot!!!

Monday, November 5th, 2007

We are finally live with our product review site, “The Motherloot”. I still need to work on guidelines and specifications for companies that would like to be featured, but we now have a separate home for these and I hope you can visit it!

Recent additions to the site include:

Family Facts Organizing Products

DaBibs

Let us know what you think and how you like the design! Many thanks to my designer for making this possible!!

I will be working on more reviews and am hoping to include lots of holiday shopping ideas for the families.

Interview with THE Jessica Seinfeld

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007

I shared in an entry last week, my true love for the new cookbook, “Deceptively Delicious” by Jessica Seinfeld. You may have doubted my opinion on how awesome it really is, but now Oprah has given her golden seal of approval and this little seal gives Mrs. Seinfeld an instant hit on the bestseller list. Jessica appeared yesterday on Oprah’s show and discussed her recipes and ideas for getting her children to eat healthy.

Last week, I had discussed interviewing Jessica with her publisher, Harper Collins. When I saw she was on the show yesterday, I was really worried that she might become too busy to share with me her experience with writing the book. Who can compete with a successful interview on Oprah?

Lucky for me, Jessica is truly a class act and had emailed me the answers to all my questions this morning. I was so incredibly excited and I hope that you will enjoy this interview with her as much as I enjoyed asking all of my questions.

Question & Answers with Jessica Seinfeld

Pardon if I gush a bit, but I adore your new book! Is this something that you have wanted to do for a long time? What/who inspired you to create this book?

I wish I could say there was a thoughtful and grand plan behind this book! The truth is that it came from desperation. Hiding vegetables in my children’s food was the only way I could get through mealtimes without arguments and stress. My children were certainly the motivation – their refusal to eat vegetables was the problem that had to be solved – but my inspiration was my own mother and grandmother. They were both working mothers who managed to put home cooked meals on the table every night. They taught me how to cut corners, prepare efficient and healthy meals in under 20 minutes, which is now the model I replicate in my own home. Now it’s a way of life.

Has healthy eating always been important to you or was this a new lifestyle change since children?

I grew up with a very health conscious mother, who has shopped at farm stands and food co-ops since I can remember. Eating healthy foods has always been second nature to me – it’s how I was raised. But I’m also desperately concerned about what I read about child obesity and related diseases and illnesses in this country. I became determined not only to not take care of my own kids, but to try to be part of a broader solution to a growing problem.

What is your biggest challenge with getting your children to eat healthy? How did you overcome this challenge?

The biggest problem I face daily is the prevalence of junk food that seems to follow all kids everywhere they go. I have to be vigilant and firm, but it’s hard to compete sometimes. Even if you can manage to avoid fast food and get to the grocery store, many supermarkets try to rope you into buying foods that have no nutritional value.

There’s a few things I do to try to cope.

- I won’t bring home food I don’t want my children to eat – chips, candy, sugared drinks. It sounds obvious, but the habits I set at home tend to get followed by my kids when they’re at school or playing with friends.

- I bake healthy treats. I’m not anti-treats – in fact, I have a sweet-tooth. But there’s no reason why great tasting cookies and brownies can’t be laden with things that are good for kids.

- I try to be smarter than the supermarket marketing executives. I shop carefully, read labels, and look for whole grains and non-processed food.

- Puree, puree, puree.

As a mom who is on the go a lot, what are some of your suggestions for getting your kids to eat healthy when you are running from activity to activity?

I try to always keep my purse stocked with food that’s healthy and balanced and never get stuck with hungry kids and limited options. That’s when bad food decisions get made. Being a mobile health-food store has it’s down side, of course – the crushed-up oat bran pretzels and string cheese wrappers at the bottom of my purse don’t exactly make me so fabulous – but at least I know my kids are getting a good snack.

If you could pick one thing that you want moms to walk away with, from reading your book, what would it be?

What you feed your kids matters. Don’t give up on yourself or them. You can have peaceful, healthy and delicious meals, and you can also never say, “eat your vegetables” again. With an ounce of preparation and the will to change, anyone can do it.

Product Review: Play Along Dolls

Friday, September 28th, 2007
As a mother of a daughter, I would like to throw some interesting facts out to you:

- In a recent survey, 1010 mothers with preteen daughters expressed their feelings about the array of inappropriate dolls invading their kids’ playrooms. 90% of these mothers expressed a desire for a wider section of dolls that were positive role models for young girls. 85% of the mothers said that they are fed up with the “sex pot” playthings available (USA Today).

- “Although these dolls may present no more sexualization of girl or women than is seen in MTV videos, it is worrisome when dolls designed for 4-8 year olds are associated with an objectified adult sexuality”(American Psychological Association).

- “We usually have a great time checking out new toys, but we were totally put off by many of the doll lines for 2007- trash’s the word that comes to mind. And it’s not just us. The American Psychological Association found that all these sexualized images of young girls are seriously harmful to a girl’s self esteem and healthy development” (Parents Magazine)

I guess I am not alone in believing that these dolls are highly inappropriate and am discouraged by the choices that are offered. This is not a RELIGIOUS thing, this is a MOM thing!

I received a package from the Play Along company and was so encouraged by what I found. This is a company that is going against the popular trashy dolls and taking a stand to work towards bringing back good old-fashioned dolls.

These dolls still enjoy fashion, but it is modest and they resemble a modern version of the Cabbage Patch dolls. The dolls are poseable and come with different outfits and something fun that you can do with your doll (shoelaces to make bracelets, chalk to play hopscotch, etc…) Currently they offer three cute little girl characters and accessory packs that you can purchase separately. The “Olivia Reese” doll is sporty and loves nature. The “Sophie Kate” doll is an artsy girlie girl.” Finally, the “Zoe Madison” doll is hip & trendy. All of the dolls have a suggested retail price of $19.99.

The accessory packs (purchased separately) can build on the wardrobes and things that you can do with your doll. The packs include a trendy outfit, an interactive themed activity, and a poseable Play Along Club pet. The suggested retail price on these accessory kits are $12.99.

The dolls are very well made and are just the type of dolls that I grew up with. I love the idea of returning to the good old-fashioned fun things in life and dolls that my daughter can relate to and will have a positive influence in her life.

We thank the Play Along company for sharing their dolls with our family! We stand behind their choice to offer fun & positive role models for our girls! They will be launching their new website for the dolls this fall.

Sound Off: What do you think about the dolls on the market today? Do you buy these dolls on the shelves or do you not buy them? What are some positive dolls that you have bought for your daughters?

Product Review: Signing Time! Products

Friday, September 28th, 2007

The Signing Time! company sent us some of their products for review for the website. Included in my box of goodies were Signing Time videos and music.

Let me preface by saying that we have incorporated signing with our children since my son was around eighteen months old. Ethan had a speech delay and it was a very frustrating time for him and for myself. He made no audible sounds and would not even turn towards me when I would say his name.

We started speech therapy with him and the speech therapist encouraged us to sign with Ethan. She gave me a book on signing and asked us to start implementing sign language in our home. We were open to anything, but I had big reservations that he would rely on signing instead of talking to us. I was worried that this would delay the process longer, but within a week we noticed a remarkable difference in our son.

The tantrums stopped and he began to sign and tell us what he needed. Gradually, he began saying the words with the signs. Then he stopped signing and began just speaking. Who would have thought this is what we needed for him?

Since then, I have been a big believer in signing with your kids. Emily seems to have a speech delay, but we know how to use signing with her and I feel like I have a better idea of what I am doing this time.

Our family really loved these movies from Signing Times! Rachel Coleman, the star behind the series, sings beautiful songs and teaches children through her music how to sign. She wanted to do the series because she had a deaf child and then a daughter born with spina bifida & cerebral palsy. Both of her children struggled with communication and she began the series to try and teach them (and later other children) how to communicate through sign language.

These videos are an invaluable teaching tool and are used widely by educators, pediatricians, homeschoolers, speech therapists, public schools, daycares, libraries and families. They offer a wide array of products from babies until eight years old.

Rachel’s hopes come from a personal goal, “My hope is that everyone will know a little sign, just as most people know a little Spanish- so when your child seems my child at the park, there would be no awkwardness, no communication barrier- just three signs… ‘Hi-Friend-Play’ that is all it would take to change her world.”

We thank the Signing Time! company for giving us the opportunity to review their products. We would highly recommend their products to any family who would like to begin incorporating sign language in their homes.

Sound Off: Have you used sign language in your house? What have been your favorite teaching tools?

Deceptively Delicious- A MUST For Healthy Eating

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

I was able to get my hands on an advance copy of the new cookbook, “Deceptively Delicious” and I would recommend either checking this book out from the library or buying a copy when the book is released (set release date of October 5th).

If you haven’t heard the buzz about this book, author Jessica Seinfeld (Jerry Seinfeld’s better half) shares smart ways to sneak veggies and fruit into your children’s diet. As a mother of three children, she knows how difficult it is to get your kids to eat their fruits & veggies so she shares a technique for pureeing these foods and mixing them into fun recipes. Everything from dip to breads to donuts…all of her dishes contain an element of healthy eating with sneak attacks from the four food groups.
It is smartly written and beautifully designed. Included are tips for creating all of your purees, how to stock a healthy pantry, and easy nutritional guidelines for children. She even shares her family’s opinion on the dishes with cute little retro pictures of each of them (even Jerry!)

The idea is very simple- fill your children’s foods with the good things in life so that they can live a long and healthy life!

I am looking forward to adding some of her recipes to my next menu planner and am looking forward to trying some of her puree techniques on my children. My kids are pretty smart, but maybe I can fool them! If the pictures are any indication of how good these dishes taste, I know they will enjoy them throughly.
Many thanks to Harper Collins and Jessica for giving us this sneak peek into such a cool cookbook! We wish Mrs. Sienfeld much luck with the launch of her book and look forward to trying her dishes in our kitchen!

Product Review: “Rockstar Princess” from Aunty E

Friday, September 14th, 2007

Music has always been very important to me and I am trying to make it important to my children too. On Sundays, I have made a jazz playlist of music to listen to, on Fridays we listen to music that you would hear in coffee shops, and when I am cleaning I have fun & fast paced music on. Wherever we go, I try to always have good music on in our car and we often use the music stations that are available through our satellite television station.

My children also have some musical heroes of their own which include Laurie Berkner, anything from the Disney films, and Raffi. We often listen to the Kid Tunes available through Yahoo Launch (commercial free for folks that use their internet service and with commercials for those who don’t).

My children’s favorite shows right now are Yo Gabba Gabba (Nick Jr) and Jack’s Big Music Show (Noggin Network), two shows that teach children about musics (although they are each very different). These shows focus on all types of musical appreciation and my kids sing right along with the words. It brings me a lot of joy to hear their sweet voices.

We recently were sent a new CD to review entitled, “Rockstar Princess” from a band called Aunty E. This group has earned great notoriety in their native Texas and they are now gaining a fan base in other areas of the country.

If your children love the more recent styles of children’s music that have come out, they will really love this disc. The tracks incorporate many different variations of music including pop, soul, country, and blues. The music is targeted to the age group of four through eight, but even my (almost) two year old was dancing right along.

Despite the name containing princess (and the pretty pink cover!) the disc is not mean to aim at just girls, it is meant for all children. Aunty E sings along with Grammy award wining artists like Joe Blondell & Floyd Domino, encouraging children through her lyrical stories.

Her music can be found on Apple iTunes, Napster, MSN Music and more information can be found on their website.

And since everyone loves a freebie, they offer free ringtones for wireless carriers.

What are your children’s favorite artists? Any music that you can recommend to us?

Caring for Stainless Steel Appliances

Friday, September 14th, 2007

We have been gradually making the switch over to stainless steel appliances. The cost on these is higher, but I have been doing bargain shopping to get the best prices on these. I am hoping that when we sell our home that it will make our kitchen look a little higher end and I love the look of the appliances for our family.

My best friend also has stainless steel appliances and when she found out that I had gotten a stainless steel stove, she told me she was going to bring a special gift over for my new stove. She showed up on my doorstep with a bottle of her favorite stainless steel cleaner that she had sworn by. She had picked up a bottle of Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaner & Polish that she had purchased for me from Wal-Mart. She said it was the best cleaner out there and instructed me to spray a very tiny bit on a soft cloth and wipe the appliance off going with the grain of the steel.

Thanks to this little bottle of cleaner (and my extremely smart friend!) I have been able to keep my appliances gleaming clean, requiring very little cleaner and effort on my part. The bottle of cleaner was $5.99, but I have had it for over two years and have barely made a dent in it.

Scotch-Brite recently contacted me though to see if we would be interested in reviewing a new product that they had come out with for stainless steel appliances. They recently came out with two new cleaners, their Stainless Steel Cleaner & Cook Top Cleaner. These cleaners have handles for gripping, making it easier to get in all of the nooks and crannies of your appliances. They are ergonomically designed and offer streak-free cleaning.

After trying these out, I was impressed with how it could into all of the grooves of my stove and I was able to deeply clean the crevices of the appliance that had not been ever cleaned. There was definitely some hidden areas that needed attention and the handle made the cleaning very easy.

Unfortunately, the Scotch-Brite pads are not reusable and would require additional refill purchases, much like the Swiffer systems and other similar products. I am not as big on products that require additional purchases and this is why I stay away from systems such as these.

The Scotch-Brite pads would be great for someone who just wants to do a quick touch-up, but with starter kits at $6.99 and refill pads an additional $3.99, this is not the most cost-effective option.

Scotch-Brite is offering a $1 coupon on their website though, if you would like to give their new products a try.

I am pretty hooked on the Weiman cleaner, but would be interested to hear how you all care for your stainless steel appliances. Do you use any special cleaners? Do you have any tips that you have found work the best for your appliances? How about cook tops? This is an area that I know nothing about!

Check It Out: An American Hedge Fund by Timothy Sykes

Friday, September 14th, 2007

Timothy Sykes sent me an advance copy of his new book, “An American Hedge Fund” for review. We were so thrilled to have our review included in his new book. We wish the author much success with his book launch and hope that you can get an opportunity to check this book out!


Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to play the stock market? In, “An American Hedge Fund” Timothy Sykes takes you on a roller coaster of ups and downs, sharing his wild experience of how he was able to make two million dollars as a stock operator and by creating a hedge fund.

Timothy takes you on the journey from the beginning, sharing his passion for making money quickly at the tender age of twelve. With hopes of making money with his baseball collection and then trying his hand at stringing tennis rackets to make some extra cash, Timothy always possessed a desire to make money fast and had the entrepreneurial spirit to make it happen.

While his classmates were making dates and planning for their prom, Timothy was dreaming of investing money and winning the stock market game. With his $12,415 Bar Mitzvah money, he was able to turn this sum of money into $1.65 million dollars in the course of just four years, all while finishing his high school career and beginning his college career at Tufts University.

Timothy shows how his good research and great gut instinct gave him the skills to know which companies to invest in and when to pull that money out. He shows how he was able to obtain his financial success, but also is wise enough to share his mistakes and what he wishes he would have done differently when looking back upon his youth.

I loved this book for a number of reasons, but the one thing that I really appreciated about Timothy’s story was that playing the stock market was a game for him, not necessarily that he wanted to be wealthy. He seemed to enjoy the thrill of investing and winning the game, but did not seem to be trying to achieve great wealth or notoriety. For him, investing was a fun hobby and his parents supported his dreams, but also wanted him to stay grounded and levelheaded about his fame and fortune.

This really struck a chord with me in my own financial journey. For me, saving money isn’t necessarily because I have to, but it is a game for me to see how much I can save by making changes in my life. It is not necessarily that I have to make my own bread, for example, but when crunching figures I find deep satisfaction in knowing how much I could save by making that small change in my life. For me, it is about saving money and the satisfaction I get from keeping money in my account. For Timothy, it is about how he can take that money and make that money grow by making wise financial investments.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in seeing how to work the stock market and also how one young man was able to turn a small investment into an amazing career as a millionaire hedge fund manager.

Product Review: New Suave Products

Monday, September 10th, 2007

Boy, did I feel pampered when Suave contacted me to see if we would be interested in sampling some of their new products. I have always been a Suave girl so I was up for the challenge of testing out some of the new items that they have put on the market. They included Suave Professionals Extreme Strength Hair Products (shampoo, conditioner, and daily leave-in treatment), Suave Exhale Inspiring Body Lotion (in Lime Verbena) and Calming Body Wash (in Lavender Vanilla), Healthy Curls Anti-Frizz Cream, and Suave Kids Cowabunga Coconut Shampoo.

All of the products were excellent, but I have to say that the children’s shampoo and the lavender body wash were my most favorite. My children’s hair smelled so good that even my son commented on how good the shampoo smelled. The shampoo also contained a conditioning formula within it, so no need to try and deal with tangles in my daughters hair or an extra application of conditioner.

The lavender body wash was the perfect conclusion to a stressed out day. The lavender and vanilla smelled delicious and it was a great way for me to unwind after another crazy day with the kids.

The suggested retail price on the Suave Exhale Calming Body Wash is $2.50. The suggested retail price on the Suave Kids Cowabunga Coconut Smoothers 2-in-1 Shampoo is between $1.92-$2.49. I consider this quite affordable and that is something that I have always appreciated about the Suave products.

Suave also sent me an in-depth report on a survey they did of mothers with children under the age of fifteen. The survey was called “Motherhood vs. Womanhood” and the results were very interesting. A quick summary of some of their findings were:

- Moms put family first, but agree that they should take care of themselves
- Moms agree on the importance of taking care of themselves, and most wish they could do more
- Two things moms would like to add back to their days: exercise and sleep
- Moms would like to improve their hair care

It was a very interesting survey and I found myself shaking my head, “Yes, yes, yes!” to all of their results. I wish I had some time to myself, but do feel selfish carving that time out when I could be doing something for someone else.

If you have difficulty carving time out for yourself and you live in the Los Angeles area, then I have just the freebie for you! Suave is offering a nice freebie to their L.A. moms so here are all the details on this…

Suave Back to Beauty Moms-Only Field Trip. LA-moms are invited to treat themselves to a FREE day of pampering, complete with beauty makeovers from celebrity hairstylist, Luke O’Connor, and his team, a gourmet lunch and more.Bring your friends, and you could win $20,000 for your school! Suave will award a $20,000 grant for after-school programs to the school with the most moms who sign up.

When: Monday, October 1st, 2007, 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM

Where: LuKaRo Salon, 323 North Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

More: Appointments are strongly recommended and available on a first-come, first-served basis. To register, moms can book a free appointment by September 15 by:

- Calling 1-877-SUAVE-411
- Emailing back2beauty@webershandwick.com- Please be sure to include your name, school, contact information and time preference.

Once again, I would like to thank Suave for being so generous and giving this tired mom an opportunity to truly treat herself!

Check It Out: Playful Reading by Carolyn Munson-Benson

Friday, August 31st, 2007


I just got back from the library this evening and I have been searching for great books that would foster a love for reading in my son. I am addicted to reading and I attribute that to my trips to the library with my father. He always was reading and it made me want to read too. As far as I can remember, I have had a true love of reading and that is why it is such a priority in our house.

I found an excellent book called, “Playful Reading: Positive, Fun Ways to Build the Bond Between Preschoolers, Books & You” by Carolyn Munson-Benson, that was exactly what I had been looking for.

In this book, the author shares great books for preschoolers (including a short synopsis about what they are about) and then she shares activities and recipes you can use to go along with the book that you are reading.

My son’s favorite book in the world is, “How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?” by Jane Yolen. In fact, he loved that book so much that we created art for his room out of the book jackets. I decided to look up this book and see what the author had suggested. Here were some of her ideas for this book:

  • Return to the illustrations and together find letters that spell out the name of each featured dinosaur. You will see the letters on items such as a wall pennant, a line of alphabet blocks and a bed’s headboard.
  • For fun, act out the meaning of verbs such as mope, moan, sulk, or demonstrate for the child how readers can find the exact meaning of a word by looking it up in a dictionary.
  • Talk about your favorite dinosaurs and their reactions in the book.
  • Turn inexpensive plastic dinosaurs into props that stimulate use and growth of language. Print their names on index cards and make a museum. You can also make a landscape backdrop for the dinosaurs out of boxes, crayons and construction paper.
  • Have the child arrange the dinosaurs by size, type, and number. Then have them group them by similar characteristics (e.g. meat eater) or in groups of their own kind.
  • Let your child tell stories about the dinosaurs, but don’t be shocked by gory or gross stories because this is developmentally normal.
  • Visit a museum and learn more about the dinosaurs.

This is just one example of the great activities and books that have been chosen for this book. I am writing down a lot of notes for this book, which might mean that it would be a nice addition to our own family library.

I plan to do the dinosaur story with our son this week and incorporate some of the activities. I also thought Michelle, from Scribbit, had a great idea for chiseling artifacts that might be a fun assignment to go along with our story.

Sound Off: What is your child’s favorite book? Do you have any books that you could recommend for helping your child learn to read or developing a love of reading in them?