Saturday, February 28, 2009

Mom's Night In - GIVEAWAY!

I was invited to participate in a "Mom's Night In" by my friend Colleen (AKA Classy Mommy). We met when she did a review of Stuff for Sprouts for me a while back, and was actually the person who suggested that I consider starting a blog to support the business.

Anyway, being invited to a blogger event did wonders to make me feel like a "real" blogger, and not just the amateur that I am. The event was organized by Role Mommy and sponsored by the makers of Slendertone products and Sane Fitness and they threw quite the party!

Free manicures were available (for those able to elbow through the crowd to the manicure table - sadly, I was not one of them) and done by manicurists from Calista Grand. A make-up artist (also from Calista) was doing makeovers. I shy away from that sort of thing since every professional make-up job I have ever had has left me just this side of drag queen, but those who did participate were looking quite fab. There was also someone doing chair massages. I did partake of the massage, much to the consternation of the masseuse who felt that the knots in my shoulders were a personal challenge. Sorry, I just internalize stress. And being in a lovely house filled to the brim with cool people I don't know is an excellent equation for stress.

Very few social skills :(

I did meet some really nice people and learned a little bit about Slendertone products. I even got FREE products to bring home and try. Check that out - swag!

The product demonstration was quite entertaining, as many of the attending blog-mamas tried on these electronic muscle stimulating contraptions. One lucky lady tried the arm exercisers and cranked them up until her hands were twitching. AWESOME!

Another (I will name no names) was outed as an expectant mom due to the fact that she couldn't try the products. Electronic stimulation and pregnancy apparently do not mix!

I snagged a "Revive" system to bring home. This seems to be the most multi-tasking Slendertone product. It has two gel-pad things that you can stick on various parts of your body and differing levels of "stimulation" that make it appropriate for either massage/muscle recovery or muscle strengthening.

I tried it out on my shoulders and lower back in massage mode. Once I got over the clammy stickiness of the pads, it was very enjoyable. A little awkward to apply, but nice.

The kids wanted to try, but the products are not appropriate for kids. I think you could accidentally fry them or something (yikes!)

Mike offered to be a guinea pig and tried out the ab mode. Very very entertaining to watch as he cranked it up until he was unable to stand. Giggle. We both thought it was an interesting experience, but I am not sure it will be something that we add to our routine on a regular basis.

But here's the good news (for those of you who have stuck with me this far!) I have a brand-spanking new Slendertone System-Arms exerciser for the arms (pictured above, not on me). A $99.99 value!!

I am giving this baby away to the commenter who gives me the best reason that I should. So...comment away...beg, plead, cajole...I am ready!

Because, see...I am like a totally REAL blogger now! Yay!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Totally Tubular - Winter Sports Version

Sometime back in January while watching the kids sled down our back hill, narrowly missing the deck supports and wiping out bushes along the way, I thought that maybe there could be a better venue for sledding. Something less heart-attack inducing, perhaps.

While a quick shift across the street to the walking path (which is free of obstacles, yet sends the children hurtling into the street) was sort of an upgrade, I began to research options.

Finally we settled on a trip to Blue Mountain Ski Area for tubing. We originally thought we would go over our extended President's Day weekend. However, there were some scheduling issues (mostly that they weren't open until it would have been getting dark) and we had to bump the trip to this past Sunday.

We went with our neighbors, who have kids about the same age as ours, plus a 3 year old. When we woke up in the morning, things were looking pretty gray. The weather people were promising that it wouldn't last, so we set off on our adventure.

The trip was shorter than we anticipated, about 90 minutes from our place. We managed to miss all of the McDonald's options on the way there and decided lunch in the lodge was the easiest (although surely not most economical) option. I think the kids were too excited to eat, though. They were ready to GO!

Tickets for Sunday were $25 per person for a 4 1/2 hour mid-day window of time. Rates vary for different time periods. I figured we were unlikely to make it more than 2 or 3 hours, as it was still drizzling a little bit when we started out.

There are two types of tubes. Big, family-style ones that hold up to 4 adults (we managed to get 4 kids and 2 adults in and sneak past), and single-person tubes.

The lift for the family tubes is easier to negotiate, since you sit in the tube and a big hook drags you up the hill. The lift for the individual tubers is like a huge conveyor belt where you stand on the belt and drag your tube behind. Very tricky to stand on a conveyor belt going up a hill with nothing to hold onto! Entertaining (in a wrong-ish sort of way) to watch the kids stumbling around the first few times.

The most dramatic moment was Tater falling out of the tube on the way up the family lift....dragging along behind the tube and laughing. I had to haul him back in while my friend held my feet so I wouldn't also fall out. Very exciting!

We split our time between the two types. The kids and Dads seemed more into the single tubes, which can go quite a bit faster and can be strapped together to make 2 or 3 person "pods". There are starters at the top of each run that make sure no one gets run over, and they can give you a good spin at the start, which the kids LOVED.

I personally preferred the family-style. A little less kamikaze-ish, yet still exciting enough for me!

About 45 minutes into the tubing, the sun came out and things warmed up a bit and it was absolutely beautiful out (and yet, still quite cold!) We took a break after about 2 1/2 hours for snacks and thawing and then went back and continued to ride until the end of the session. So we did the full 4 1/2 hours!! Outside! In the cold! And it was SO FUN!!

The kids are asking if next time we can try skiing. And in theory, I suppose that is do-able. Yet I have flashbacks to skiing with my post-college friends and actually falling off of the trail. Into the woods. Like, hanging from a branch...skis dangling.

And while part of me wishes I was cool enough to snowboard - I know I totally am not. And my poor old-lady back wouldn't make it through an attempt.

So maybe I will just stick with the tubing. Low-injury potential. Nearly impossible to go off-course. No falling. Just fun.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Greatest Deal on Earth!

How do you feel about the circus?

We haven't been in years. We took Sprout when she was about 3. She loved it...even touched an elephant! She lovingly carried the program around for months and months!

But given Tater's well-documented fear of dressed-up things and (god forbid) clowns...the circus just didn't seem like the place to take him.

However, since the Christmas breakthrough, where he was able to be in a place with a tattered collection of dressed-up creatures without losing his mind, perhaps the circus is back on the radar! Yay!

I would love it if it was, because my friends at Moms Central have hooked me (and you!) up with a great deal for circus tickets! Here's the scoop:

Offer #1: Get 4 tickets for just $44 (that's $11 per ticket!!!) by entering the code "MOM" at select ticketing channels (including Ticketmaster). The offer is good on all performances, with a minimum purchase of 4 tickets required. Ad
ditional tickets can also be purchased at $11 each!
Offer not valid on Circus Celebrity Seating, Front Row and VIP seating or combinable with other offers. Other Restrictions May Apply.

Offer #2: Ringling's Baby's First Circus program allows babies under 12 months of age to receive a free ticket voucher that can be exchange for a free ticket to any Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Baily performance. Anytime, anywhere, no expiration date!

Upcoming performances include:

Newark/East Rutherford/Uniondale/NYC

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® presents ZING ZANG ZOOM

March 5 - April 13
Offer not valid on performances from April 10 - 13
at Madison Square Garden

Washington D.C./ Fairfax, VA/ Baltimore, MD

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® proudly presents Over The Top

March 18-April 19

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® presents ZING ZANG ZOOM
May 13-May 25

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® presents ZING ZANG ZOOM
June 24-June 28

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® proudly presents Over The Top
July 15-July 26


Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® presents ZING ZANG ZOOM
July 8-August 2

San Francisco

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® presents ZING ZANG ZOOM

August 12-August 23

Dallas/Ft Worth

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® proudly presents Over The Top

July 29-August 16


Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® presents ZING ZANG ZOOM
August 27-August 30

Kansas City

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® proudly presents Over The Top
September 16-September 20

To see which Ringling Bros. tour is coming to a town near you, visit And visit to use the 4 tickets for $44 code, MOM.

Maybe this could be a step in Sprout's quest to have Tater Disney-ready at some point in their shared childhood. Sounds like a great deal...we might even have money left over for therapy afterwards.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Economic Stimulus

This weekend we weren't so much creative as we were rabid consumers. Gotta do what we can to kick start that economy, right?

The kids had a four day weekend, and we pretty much squandered it.

Saturday, for Valentine's Day, we went to Tater's basketball game (which he was GREAT in!). The kids built an enormous town of Littlest Pet Shops, and a skate park with their Tech Decks. So they played, and of course, watched TV. Then went out to dinner.

Sunday, the kids and I went to see
Hotel for Dogs with some friends, which the kids really loved. Of course, I cried...which is sort of embarrassing during a kids movie. But the kids are used to me being an embarrassment. After the movie the kids played video games with their friends for several hours.

Monday, we did nothing that I can remember. Played some games, watched too much TV. We tried to go outside and play. The sun was shining, the neighbors were asking us to come out. I forcibly threw the children out the door and about 30 seconds later realized it was COLD!!! So that lasted about 30 minutes before I was begging them to come back inside. Brrrrrr.

The most notable moment on Monday came when Sprout, when faced with her lovely dinner of homemade soup, asked why I hated her. Good times...

Yesterday we had big plans to go snow tubing at Blue Mountain. Of course, when we were getting everything organized for the trip on Monday evening I realized that they didn't start their tubing sessions until 4PM on weekdays. And with today as a school day, that just wasn't going to work. Boo.

So tubing will have to wait for the weekend.
Instead we went bowling. Then out to lunch. Then shopping for a big new TV. And then shopping again for a HSM3 DVD, which we then watched on the new TV.

Total screen time? WAY too much. Gotta get back to being creative before my children turn into big lifeless blobs!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

It would be SWEET...

Valentine's Day is just days away! We are not big on the V-Day celebration around here. A card and a little candy and we are good to go.

But the kids do enjoy the annual exercise of picking Valentine's for their friends. They especially like RECEIVING Valentine's - ideally those that include candy!

So this year, rather than springing for the big box-o-cards, we did a super-simple project to make our own.

We got a bag of lollipops and printed little lollipop-themed sayings on the computer:

It would SUCK if you weren't my friend!

You are SWEET!

I would be BLUE if you weren't my friend!

You are a GRAPE friend!

We cut the sayings into strips and taped one onto each lollipop. The BLUE one went on the blue lollipops, the GRAPE one on the purple ones and the others on the other colors. The kids signed their names on the papers and voila - Valentines!

It only took about 45 minutes to do 50 lollipops - total cost under $5. Love this.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Bits and Pieces of Fun

We had a fairly low-key weekend. Daddy was out of town skiing with friends and following an early basketball game (in which Tater had a brilliant performance!) we were tired and unmotivated.

However, we did finally break out our Smithsonian Frog Dissection Kit (which I would tell you to go get, but apparently they have been discontinued). Sprout receive the kit as a birthday gift a couple of years ago and we never quite got around to doing it. But when, in the midst of lazing around, Tater suggested that now was the time, we decided to go for it.

The kit includes plastic bones, rubber "organs" and a frog-shaped mold. Basically you lay the parts in the mold and then pour super-strength Jell-o into the mold to make the frog's body.

We had some minor mishaps (the Jell-o oozed out of the mold and needed to be melted and poured back in so that the frog didn't have bones hanging out of his legs, we put the head on backwards...) but eventually ended up with a completely disgusting jiggly green frog-like thing.

Then the kids went at him with a plastic scalpel and ripped him apart. I don't know how dissection-like the operation was, but they seemed to be quite enjoying dismembering the fake frog. Which I will try not to be too disturbed about.

The other high point of our weekend (besides watching HSM I, II and Camp Rock) was the kids jumping all over sheets of bubble wrap in their Nana's driveway. Big fun! I think I have a roll in the basement and I will have to remember to get it out next time things get slow!

What we SHOULD have done at some point this weekend was work on Valentine's for the kids' classmates. Oops. We'll have to get cracking on that ASAP! We'll have to do something post-worthy, because I know you can't wait to hear all about it. Right?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Green and Clean

Things are tough all over. I know lots of people out there are tightening their belts, and we are no exception over here. As part of our "fiscal adjustment" we have decided to reduce (and possibly eliminate - sob) visits from our cleaning service.

This makes me very sad. One of my happiest moments is coming home to a clean house that just happened with no intervention on my part. But, since I am currently unemployed, I really have no excuse for not getting myself in gear to do at least some of the cleaning.

So I armed myself with a plan, courtesy of my new friend at Motivated Moms. For my very small (under $10) investment, I have a list of what chores should be done each day to stay on top of housework before things get out of hand.

I must admit that I have opted out of some of the tasks (I am not cleaning the outdoor trash cans - not gonna happen). But overall, I am digging the breakdown into manageable pieces. I may even start to delegate some things to the kids.

My other tactic was to put cleaning wipes in strategic locations throughout the house. In each bathroom and in the kitchen. Thanks to my other friends at Mom Central I had the chance to try these great wipes from the new GreenWorks line made by Clorox.

I was kind of telling myself that using wipes isn't any worse, environmentally speaking, than spray cleaner and a paper towel. And goodness knows I am a heavy consumer of paper towels! But these GreenWorks wipes make me feel like I am doing less damage to the world, since they are biodegradable, 99% natural, and don't leave a chemical residue on things. They even have a nice smell. And they actually work!

I have been using these to wipe drips of of the toilets (yuck), hairspray and toothpaste off of the counters (double yuck) and spills in the kitchen (less yuck...) I also prefer to use a throw-away wipe to clean the bathroom because I seriously cannot stand using a sponge with hair stuck on it (ultimate yuck). So I like the "dispose and start over again" nature of wipes.

The cleaners came today, for the first time in a month, and I seriously wasn't sure I needed them to come (gasp!) Things were actually fairly under control. If I am able to hold it together through February, I think I am going to cancel them completely.

And then I will cry. And go look for a job :)