Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Be a Reality TV Star! NYC Casting Call for "The Parent Question"

Cineflix, the international studio behind the awesome American Pickers, is looking for New York and Toronto-based families for their new program, The Parent Question. All you have to be is a little bit overprotective of your little one! Here's the short casting notice they sent my way:


As a parent, do you ever find yourself obsessing about your child’s grades, flash cards, strangers, creeps, sleepovers, germs and/or the perils of a non-organic grape?

Parenting means losing sleep, but it doesn’t have to mean night terrors.

A new TV show for a popular network is seeking parents who want to worry a little less and enjoy parenting more.

If you live in the Toronto or New York area and would like to be a part of THE PARENT QUESTION, please email us your name, phone number and a short description of your parenting story to: slee@cineflix.com or call Sylvia Lee at 1-416-504-7317 at EXT 618.

Also, check out The Parent Question's Facebook page for casting updates:

Send away mamas (and papas!) But note that, while we all worry at some point about the things they mention above (ok, maybe not about the grape), it seems like the studio is looking for extreme cases of overprotective parenting... so be sure to wear your crazy hat!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Product Review: Hallmark Recordable Storybooks

Hallmark On the Night You Were Born ~ Recordable Story BookI hadn't heard much about recordable storybooks until my son received one for his first birthday recorded by his adorable 6-year-old cousin Kayla. It was such a special, and thoughtful gift--and one that he is going to treasure for so many years to come.

The good people at Hallmark just sent me one of their beautiful recordable storybooks for kids to review--the gorgeous On the Night You Were born by Nancy Tillman--and I can't tell you how excited I was to record a storybook of my own! I tore open the package and started recording in no time flat, not even waiting for Andrew to stop chattering in the background or the cars outside my window to stop buzzing by.

And you know what? The finished book is just perfect! The book was so incredibly simple to record--I just pressed the "record" button and a voice prompted me to "start recording after the tone and press stop when finished". And the finished voice recording was crystal clear without picking up hardly any background noise at all. Andrew's other book has a distinct switching off sound at the end of each recorded page, but the Hallmark book is as quiet as a whisper.

Also, if I made a mistake or Andrew squealed a bit too loud while I was reading, all I needed to do was hit "record" again to make a new recording. And, I have to admit, I did leave his voice in a few of the recordings just because it is so darn cute!

Most importantly, Andrew loves the book. He flips the pages to hear me reading the story and, of course, likes to hit the little "record" and "stop" buttons near the speaker. Just remember to lock in the recording by unscrewing the battery cap and flipping the switch so curious hands can't erase it. You might also want to have your little one use the book in a well-lit room as it is light sensitive and anything casting a shadow on the books pages can stop and restart the recording from playing... but Andrew really doesn't care about starting and stopping the book a million times, anyway!

Add the gorgeous story and illustrations--packaged into a really nice-quality gift book package--to the equation and this is just a really special present for a child in your life. I hope Andrew will always keep it as a keepsake--he can even change the batteries when they get played out and the recording will not be erased.

Check out the Hallmark recordable book page for a video on how the books work and for information on all of the recordable titles they offer, from the classic On the Night You Were Born, Good Night Moon, and Guess How Much I Love You to a handful of Hallmark originals. Thanks again to the folks at Hallmark for giving me a chance to review this really great product.

Edit: The books are available at Hallmark and retailers who sell Hallmark merchandise for around $29.95!

Friday, March 25, 2011

And the winner is...

My Little Seat Travel High Chair Hula Loops, Blue and White, 6 MonthsThe winner of the My Little Seat Travel High Chair is Marzena! Thank you to everyone who entered the contest. I really wish I had a My Little Seat to give to all of you! Stay tuned for more fun giveaways--next week I'll be giving away a 12-count case of KIDStrong all-natural kids hydration drink, courtesy of the folks over at KIDStrong.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Freebie Flyby - Free Sample of Breve Creme Coffee Creamer

Vocalpoint is offering coupons for a free pint FREE pint of Breve Crème coffee creamer. I've never tried Breve's creamer before, but I'll definitely give it a go for free! Click on the link below to checkout Vocalpoint and receive your free coupon while supplies last.


Website Review: My Fitness Pal

Many people will admit to more than a few false-starts in the weight-loss arena. I've fallen off the diet and exercise bandwagon dozens of times and even failed for all to see on this blog (um, what happened to the Wednesday Weigh-in posts and the 30-Day Shred?)

Equal to the guilt of having eaten a jar of peanut butter for me is the guilt of having wasted money on a diet book, exercise dvd, ridiculously-expensive elliptical machine, etc. While even the thought of losing money could be a good motivator not to dip into the cookie jar, who needs to add that kind of pressure to their life? What I really need is a free, reliable program that holds me more accountable than a blank notebook.

My Fitness Pal is the answer!

MFP officially calls itself a free online calorie counter, diet and exercise journal, but it is so much more. Yes, the site will reccomend a daily calorie limit for you (check with your doc--mine was a bit low) and allow you to enter the food you eat (breastfeeding moms can enter breastfeeding for negative calories!) and the exercise you do daily, but what is most effective for me is the MFP community.

The site allows you to "friend" other users just like on Facebook, so that you can follow their status updates for inspiration and also provide others with moral support when they need it. You can input your own status updates, but sneaky MFP also posts auto updates when you don't log in for a couple days, when you weigh in and lose pounds (not when you gain), when you reach certain log-in milestones (for example, when you log in every day for a week or a month or a year) and when you complete your food or exercise log for the day. Its really great motivation that does not come with a price tag!

MFP also has other great community features such as a message board and a user profile that can be updated with photos, a bio, a weight-loss ticker, your weight-loss goals, etc. Also, the food database in user-inputed, so you can add any food to the database that isn't already there and you can also enter recipes and calculate the calories per serving. And this is just scraping the surface of what MFP offer.

The bottom line? MFP works for me and I'm losing slowly but surely and not starving. More importantly, the site reinforces for me that the only way to lose unwanted weight is to eat well and exercise--and hold only myself accountable.

If you're looking for an awesome, free way to lose weight, tone up, maintain, or just plain old be healthy, give check out My Fitness Pal! (Be sure to get a doctor's permission, of course, before starting any diet and exercise plan.)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Product Review: Nuby Non Drip Bottle

Nuby Leak Proof Bottle, Colors May Vary, 8 Ounce, 2 Pack
Does your toddler still drink milk from a bottle? We had a bit of a hard go in the beginning getting Andrew to take a bottle instead of nursing, but now he drinks out of most any bottle--not just the fancy, shmancy ones--just fine.

He's actually doing great drinking from a bottle all by himself before he falls asleep, so I'm not in any rush to take it away from him just yet. But for a while I was going mad constantly cleaning the only 3 bottles I had. Oh the misery of not having a dishwasher!

Ok, ok. Handwashing a couple bottles isn't anything to cry over, but we needed to have more on-hand, so I picked up a $6 three-pack of Nuby's 8 oz Non-Drip Baby Bottles at our local discount kid's store, 1/2 Price Kids. ($4.99 for 2 on Amazon.)

Nuby No Spill Nuby Nipples, Colors May Vary, 6 PackI was a little scared what the quality of a $2 bottle would be after I tried the $1 Luvs brand bottles from Family Dollar to find that they had horrible nipples that compressed in half. But I'm actually a fan of the Nubys. They fit great in Andrew's hands and the bottles do not drip--neither from the top of the nipple due to their special indented design nor from the gasket. Just be sure to really clean out the nipple as milk hides out a bit in the indented part. 

My only real beef--and it is a beef I have with many bottles--is that the oz/ml measurements on the outside of the bottle are starting to rub off. Come on bottle manufacturers! Can't you use something more permanent on the outside of the bottle? I know Nuby does actually make a great nurser bottle where the numbers are just stamped into the bottle plastic (think raised like braille.) This is what I would like to see on all bottles in a perfect mommy world. Hah!

Bottom line: Even if you have to remark the oz measurments with a Sharpie and spend some extra time cleaning the unconventional nipple, these are good, solid bottles for the budget-minded mama and her not-very-fussy toddler.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Giveaway - My Little Seat travel high chair

My Little Seat Travel High Chair Hula Loops, Blue and White, 6 Months

Quite often the best little hole in the wall restaurants in NYC (or your in-laws' house) don't have high chairs--and you can't lug a big ole booster seat down the street--so I bought the My Little Seat travel high chair when Andrew began sitting up on his own. It worked well for us until Andrew became too active to be restrained by the fabric seat... and that wasn't actually too long after we began using the product because Andrew is just a really active kid!

The product specifications state that the seat is usable from about 6 months to 35 lbs, unless you have a little Houdini on your hands. So, if you've got a prim and proper baby who isn't going to tip over a dining chair a la Bam Bam, go ahead and enter this giveaway and give the My Little Seat a try.

The My Little Seat I am giving away is completely new in the packaging, comes in a handy fabric carrying pouch, and is in the Blue and White Hula Loops design shown in the picture above. It features a five point harness, which actually comes up pretty high on baby's chest when he is smaller, ensuring a secure--if somewhat uncomfortable-looking--fit. It fits most dining chairs, although not super-high-backed ones. Check out the product info on Amazon for more info.

To enter the giveway, simply follow me and let me know that you are a follower in a comment below. I will pick a winner using random.org on Friday, March 25th.

Good luck!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Ok, one more post about Gymboree Forest Hills (and then I'm done!)

Alright, I've had a bit of time to cool down since yesterday's aggressive commenter debacle (see HERE). And even if the mama bear in me is still bristling at the idea of my son being possibly put in a not-so-nice position by a blog-reader, my consience tells me I must apologize if my review of Gymboree Forest Hills teacher Miss Gaby offended anybody--especially her.

Like so many other bloggers, I write my honest opinions on this website so that other parents might be helped by them as they navigate the super-saturated baby/kid marketplace. We all have different likes and dislikes and the right to express them freely. I, however, did not aim to hurt anybody's feelings in the process.

I do stand by my original review, however, and welcome any other comments that contradict it or confirm it as I value your opinions and use them to help me make my own choices regarding products and services for myself and my family. I simply hope that any comments will be made in good spirit (such as those made by Gymboree staff member Mary Ann O'Neill--her comments are super informative and helpful). Negative and threatening comments such as those made in this post just don't belong in the mommy/daddy-blogging world.

I'm looking forward to getting back to normal posting after this last rant and I thank you for bearing with me. Stay tuned for my next post when I'll be giving away a My Little Seat Infant Travel High Chair!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

About the Web and Free Speech (and Forest Hills Gymboree)

Wow, I didn't realize that my reviews of the Gymboree in Forest Hills would elicit such a strong and very controversial response from readers! (see HERE and HERE).

First, let me say that we have indeed found a class with a new teacher that we love (Miss Kristi--I highly recommend her) and we are still enjoying our time at this Gymboree. That said, I must defend my previous reviews and, ultimately, my freedom of speech and my right as a consumer to seek to be satisfied with a service that I have purchased.

I find it very sad that one commenter (who commented anonymously) felt my honest review to be "appalling" and even went as far as to suggest my blog be banned and also to make a thinly-veiled threat of something negative happening to me if she ran into me at Gymboree. For a review, written honestly from my own experience, to elicit this kind of response--from a mother with a young child none-the-less--saddens me to the greatest degree! I truly hope that most bloggers and blog-readers have more respect for freedom of speech--and have more decency than to threaten a mother and her child--but, none-the-less, it has prompted me to remove my photo and the photo of my child from the front page of this blog for our safety.

I hope all you bloggers out there, though, will continue to post your honest opinions online (as I will continue to do) as they all help me in my own search to find the greatest products, services, and advice. I'm praying for us all that the majority of readers (especially parents) out there are not spurred to violence by a simple review!