Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A New Addition to Our Family

We have been debating, on and off, having a pet for a few years now. I say, "debating," but what I really mean that the Rhino and I have been putting forth every argument in favor of a pet that we could find, and the Engineer simply said, "no."

The Rhino, bless his heart, even made up a petition and had the neighbors sign it.

Now, I like to form what we call a United Front with the Engineer when it comes to the kids. We stand firmly as a couple when it comes to important decisions, big purchases, discipline and the like, and that's as it should be. It's important to the kids that we be consistent. I know this.

But I also know that as a devoted animal-lover, one of my best friends growing up was our family cat. I remember being devastated when he disappeared, inexplicably, for several months when we were teens, and that the Engineer, already my boyfriend (yes, we were high-school sweethearts, awwwww) was really supportive. The cat came back, like the famous song, none the worse for wear, and my Mom's opinion was that he'd been adopted by some other family who found him and believed him a stray. Whatever the circumstances, I missed him when he was gone, I loved him from the day we brought him home, as a tiny kitten (we thought he was 'the bravest girl kitten' in the cage; turned out he was the cowardliest tomcat ever), and when he finally passed away at a ripe old age after many good cat years, I mourned him deeply.

And now, here I am, a Mom with two boys who are growing more independent every day, and I realized something about myself.

I miss having someone to nurture. Someone who needs me. I miss the companionship during the day that I had when my boys were little, chattering happily away at them before the were even old enough to answer back, catering to their every need.

Of course, they would probably let me do that now, if I offered. But it wouldn't be good for them. And it's just not the same.

Selfishly, then, I wanted a pet. And, more specifically, I wanted a cat. So much so that I sat down and spoke with the Engineer, asked for specifics on the big "No."

And found out that although there were some very valid reasons for him not to want a cat--a stinky litterbox, clawed-up furniture, and fleas--there were also ways that I could head those very real objections off. Things had changed a lot since my cat was a pet. There are monthly flea treatments that work better than any flea collar ever did, new freshly-scented-odor-absoring-super-clumping cat litter, and even (thanks, Metafilter!) soft paws to keep that new addition from tearing apart the leather couch.

And so I am happy to introduce you to the newest member of our family: our kitten, Leo.

The Engineer gave him his name (we decided it is short for "Leonides", king of the Spartans). He's an adorable little orange kitten born with, for some reason, half a tail, which only seems to add to his cuteness factor. And you'll probably be seeing more of him around the site, because the boys and I adore him, and even the Engineer has fallen under his spell.

~ Viv

Thursday, November 15, 2007

You Can Save Thanksgiving Dinner Single-Handedly!

I bet you have at least one person in your family that worries about sugar in their diet. Maybe diabetes runs in your family, or a family member was recently diagnosed and still secretly aching for something sweet to satisfy those sugar cravings.

Well, this Thanksgiving, you might just save the day with the perfect sugar-free dessert.

Smucker's has come up with some Sugar-Free dessert toppings, and they've included recipes for great dessert ideas on their site.

Now, normally I am cautious about any foods claiming to be sugar-free, because, well, most of them taste like cardboard. But I recently received an email about the new Smucker's offerings, and I think these deserved to be checked out. I already use the regular Smucker's topping whenever we have a special ice cream night, and this particular dessert looked really good to me.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Psst...Are You a Secret Santa?

Cool Moms Rule has some great shopping tips for all you sneaky Santas this year, and savings is on the top of our list!

Shop at Brylane Catalog Outlet, where you can find special deals on selected items from the Brylane Home collection, and experience special savings from Cool Moms Rule:

BCO - $10 off orders of $40 or more with code BC10130, expires 12/31

BCO - 99 cent shipping on orders of $30 or more with code BC10129, expires 12/31

BCO - 30% off your favorite item with code BC10128, expires 12/31

Use our clickthrough, and shop Barnes & Noble's Holiday Sale for the bibliophile on your list!

Holiday Gift Catalog- 120x90

Need a special gift for a special teacher? Try Homeroom Direct. Family owned and operated since 1987, it's the website with teachers in mind. Save up to 80% by clicking below!

Homeroom creative link

Need some help around the house? If not, want to come and clean mine? Anyway, if you have beautiful hardwood or tile floors, tell hubby to spring for a irobot Scuba. It patrols the room for you so you can get some much-needed rest, and for a limited time he can save $50! My sis has one of these and loves it.

Save $50 on iRobot Scooba 380 - Ends 11/26/07 - 120x90

Last, but not least, we know you must have heard of Amazon.com by now, but have you ever tried shopping at their outlet store for even better deals? Check out the link below:

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Ohmygosh! Are You Ready? (We can help!)

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and Christmas is fast approaching! Are you ready?!

Well, fear not, because Cool Moms Rule is, and we're going to help you get organized this holiday season with tips, tricks, special deals and giveaways all designed to do away with holiday stress!

Tomorrow, Cool Moms Rule's own Viv will be live (sorta) via podcast, asking those expert chefs over at Butterball just how much turkey is enough to feed her hungry family (plus tasty leftovers for the next day's sandwiches).

We want to send an extra "thank you" out to the Butterball folks, who went above and beyond to answer Viv's question--when they found out she didn't have her own personal ipod shuffle to listen to the podcast (Viv was planning on sneaking away with one of her boys' MP3's), Butterball sent her an ipod shuffle of her very own! And they even put their own special "Happy Holidays from Butterball" right down the side to commemorate the event!

So, obviously, Cool Moms Rule is suggesting you go right out and get a Butterball turkey for Thanksgiving this year! = )

Remember, you can catch Viv's question, and others, via the Butterball Turkey hotline podcat tomorrow, via Butterball.com (or you can subscribe to the podcast and others Butterball has to offer via itunes).

But that's not all we have for you! Oh no. Because right after Thanksgiving, you'll want to get out all those holiday cards, won't you? (okay, maybe "want" isn't the operative word here). Bet you aren't looking forward to addressing all of those now, are you?

Don't fret! Cool Moms Rule has asked the fantastic folks over at the Colour me Family website to give you a hand with all your holiday mailouts. Over at Colour me Family, you can personalize your holiday address labels with just a few clicks! You can create cute cartoon faces with the right hair and features for Dad, Mom, sons, daughters, babies, everyone in your family! You can even pick a special background for your cutie patooties! Viv discovered this simply sensational site surfing the internet, and she wrote to let the Colour me Family folks know how much she enjoyed their labels. They really came through for us:

Colour me Family are offering the winner of our next giveaway a customized family address set of 60 personalized labels free!

Here's how to enter the getaway:

Write a short comment below this post letting us know what about the coming holiday season has you most stressed this year!

Maybe you fear the long-standing family feud between Uncle Fester and Auntie Em will come to a head right at your dinner table! Maybe your dog has a habit of trying to snare the Thanksgiving turkey, or your cat likes to pounce on the ornament-laden Christmas tree!

Just let us know below (please remember to include an email address), and you could win the free personalized label set from Colour me Family!

We'll announce the winner on Monday, November 12th. There, now, aren't you feeling less stressed already? Good. That's what we're here for!

Update: We have a winner! Thanks to Kris B., who won our Colour Me Family labels.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Book Review: The Boy Who Grew Flowers, from Barefoot Books

Rebecca and the delightful folks over at Barefoot Books sent me a gorgeous book to read, and the story really tickled me, too.

The hardcover book, titled The Boy Who Grew Flowers, is beautifully wrought on smooth, glossy paper, like the satiny smooth pages in the classic kids' stories I remember poring over avidly as a child. This is the kind of book you may very well keep as a family heirloom, passing down to future generations to enjoy. The quality is just that good; the book was a joy to read. Simple, kid-friendly artwork greets the reader at every turn, with special attention paid to fine details (nice little touches include colorfully painted flowers woven in amid the rhythmical prose).

The Boy Who Grew Flowers is a sweet, touching story that teaches how important it is to accept the differences in others, without becoming overly preachy or heavy-handed. The protagonist, a shy boy named Rink, has a special secret to hide. Worried about fitting in, Rink keeps to himself, until one day a strange new girl comes to school. Rink is emboldened to befriend her himself...only to find that she has secrets of her own to keep!

If you are looking for a wonderful gift for a child, consider Barefoot Books. In addition to The Boy Who Grew Flowers, they have many other wonderful selections to choose from.

The Boy Who Grew Flowers (Barefoot Books)
is highly recommended.
Recommended Age Group: Read-aloud 2-6 year olds. On Their Own 6- 10 year olds.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Halloween is Almost Here, But You Still Have Time to Party!

With Halloween just less than 2 weeks away, it's time to start partying! Invite some kids over and throw your own bash, thanks to this Halloween Party kit put together by Cool Moms Rule!

Here's what's in the Halloween Party kit:
  • Black Crepe Streamers for decorating
  • Halloween Confetti
  • Halloween Tablecloth, black with Jack O' Lanterns
  • Spooky Black Plastic Cups
  • Spooky Black Tableware
  • Halloween Paper Plates, white with Jack O' Lanterns
All you have to do to WIN THE HALLOWEEN PARTY KIT is leave a comment on this post with your email! Tell your friends to drop by for a chance to win, too! We'll announce the winner and have the kit out to you over the weekend.


Update: Congratulations to MamaZen, who won our Halloween Party kit! Stay tuned to Cool Moms Rule for more contests coming up soon! Oh, and please consider voting for us over at Fuelmyblog, via the button on the sidebar>. Thanks!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Oopsie Dazie! Great Gifts for Girls

I was browsing the internet recently, because with Christmas coming up I am always on the lookout for gift ideas.

Yes, I know, Halloween hasn't even passed yet, and what about Thanksgiving? But I have a friend who says, "Christmas is tomorrow!" which is his way of reminding you that the year is just flying by, and before you know it, you are scrambling to get those gifts wrapped up and sent out to all the nieces, nephews, sisters and brothers, cousins and aunts, uncles and grandparents. Every year, there's more people to buy for (at least it seems that way), and we don't want to forget anyone! Amirite, Moms?

So, surfing along, I happened upon this fantastic site, and I wanted to share it with all of you. It's called Oopsie Dazie, and it's just a little, home-grown business still on the small side yet, run by a stay-at-home Mom, which right away caught my eye, because I always like to support other Cool Moms who are out there, doing their thing.

Oopsie Dazie is all about girls and their hair. Which, if you know any little girls, is a huge market! ; ) The site has all kinds of cute, unique, Mom-designed and kid-approved barrettes and hair clips in pinks and purples, blues and greens, stripes and flowers and bling, just perfect for any little girl on your list!

Cindy, the Mom behind Oopsie Dazie, sent me some samples from her fantastic site, and let me tell you, they are cute as a button! Just adorable. I right away thought of how my two nieces would love these.

And the best thing is, these hair fashions are really affordable. Oopsie Dazie, as I said, is still getting the word out there, and I feel it's an undiscovered treasure. Which means all you Cool Moms out there reap the benefits. I mean, really, $3.00 for adorable, fashionable hair styling that's unique to your little girl? Who wouldn't pay that? And since hair clips and barrettes are also tiny and so very light, you won't blow the bank on shipping costs when you pack them off and send them out to that special someone.

So...check out Oopsie Dazie today for great gift ideas, and perfect little stocking stuffers for all the girls on your list.

Oh, and you're welcome!


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Awww...Isn't that little doughboy the cutest?

Disney Family Costume Entry: Easiest to Make (and funniest idea!): Pillsbury Dough Boy.

I'm a sucker for Halloween (Snicker's bars, anyone?), and I love dressing up. This year, my boys are too "cool" to dress up (they feel, at 12 and 14, they are too old for costumes), so we are planning a special alternative to a traditional Halloween party (check back later for more info on what we have up our sleeves).

Over at Disney Family, though, they have a fantastic costume contest going on for the whole family, and some of the entries are really creative. They have categories for Best Family Costumes, Most Unique, and Easiest to Make (with instructions! What a great idea).

You can upload photos to take part in the contest, or you can vote on the costumes already uploaded by others (and get great ideas for your Halloween costumes).

Here are some more of my personal favorites:

Most Unique: Cinderella's Carriage.

Best Family Costume: Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? (Even the family pet took part!)

Head over to the Disney Family Costume Contest site for more cute costume selections!


Fuel my blog, okay?

Friday, October 5, 2007

New! Exclusive "Cool Moms Rule!" Designs now available

Thanks to requests from our wonderful readers, you can now find "Cool Moms Rule!" apparel over at the Young at Heart cafepress store.

Don't worry, they haven't forgotten Dads, either. They also have great kids apparel.

In fact, you can find something for everyone in the family, just in time for Christmas!

Check out the great deals over at cafepress and the Young at Heart store by clicking on the link below.

Support This Site

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Our First Book Review: Twilight

Title: Twilight (1st Book in The Twilight Saga)
Author: Stephanie Meyer
Age Range: Young Adult/Teen Readers

When Bella Swan starts high school in the perpetually rainy town of Forks, she misses her sunny former life with her newly-remarried Mom. Bella, attempting to forge a closer relationship with her Dad, Charlie, is anxious, fearing that her native klutziness will keep her from fitting in.

Instead, Bella finds that as a newcomer and novelty, she is surprisingly popular.

Everyone seems to like her.

Except her lab partner, Edward.

Smart, charismatic and charming, Edward is surely the golden boy of Forks. So why does no one befriend him? And why does he find the mere presence of Bella in the same classroom so disturbing that he tries to switch classes just to get way from her?

Confused by his behavior and seeking a solution, Bella instead discovers the clues to a much darker secret Edward is trying desperately to hide. As the clues come together, Bella begins to decipher the puzzle that is Edward, and discovers why he may be both the most intriguing--and the most dangerous--person she has ever met.

Such begins the Twilight saga, a series of three books (so far) for young adults. The author, Stephanie Meyer, would tell you herself that she never intended to write a young adult series. Her works are strongly character driven, and the Twilight series started out as, of all things, a dream about two teenagers engaged in a serious conversation about their future--the characters that became Isabella and Edward.

What sets this series apart from others is that one of these characters, Edward, is much more than just another high school student. I won't give his secrets away, but suffice it to say that teenage girls will identify with Bella and fall in love with Edward.

The saga continues with New Moon and Eclipse, each book as good as the first.

Notes to Parents: This series, ultimately, is about the triumph of true love over all else. The books contain little profanity and no sexual content, though the relationship between Bella and Edward is an intensely emotional one. The books deal with supernatural themes, but there is no reference to witchcraft, satanism or the occult, other than the legends of the native American tribes living in the Forks area. Good and evil are clearly defined. The heroine serves as a moral compass to young adults, making choices and learning from her mistakes and triumphs. Bella is a "good" character in every sense of the word.

The Twilight Saga is: Highly Recommended

UPDATE: MARSHWINS is brilliant! Marsh, you are the winner of the first book in the Twilight saga! Thanks for paying such close attention to ALL the posts in the 7 Days of Giveaways...you knew the book was our last giveaway! I do need your email, though! Make sure you send that over to me, ASAP, so I can get your prize out! ~Viv

Fuel my blog, okay?

Monday, October 1, 2007

Our Newest Giveaway! Playskool Baby Care

Today's giveaway is from a company I'm sure you have all heard of, Playskool! These items are from the Playskool Baby Care line available exclusively at CVS Pharmacies that Viv reviewed here. The Teething Ring was given away to one of our Mom friends over at Maya's Mom right after that original review, but we still have these great items to give away:

The Playskool Baby Care Easy-Grip Bowl, with it's easy, convenient one-thumb grip. We all know we could use an extra hand! The bowl is sectioned for smaller portions and is both microwavable and dishwasher-safe.

And the Playskool Baby Care 9 oz flip-top cup. I love this cup because it is so portable! The top flips over the straw to close the cup up tightly and then flips back when your little one is thirsty.

How to Enter Today's Giveaway:

It's easy! Just 2 steps!

1. Write a post on your blog linking back to THIS contest.*

Remember, Cool Moms Rule is giving a new prize away every day for a week in honor of our new feature, Book Reviews! You can come back every day and enter all of our giveaways!

2. Leave a comment on THIS post with your link and your email included.

*Don't have a blog? No problem! Just leave your comment with your email to be entered in today's giveaway. Don't forget to tell your friends about Cool Moms Rule! and our week of giveaways!

And please go and vote for Cool Moms Rule over at Fuel my blog, okay? We promise, when we win, we will spend the prize money on our wonderful readers!


UPDATE: The Winner of the Playskool BabyCare goodies is Ashley L in Tennessee! Ashley, I need your email and shipping address! contact Viv at vbruss@cfl.rr.com. Thanks, and Congratulations from Cool Moms Rule!

Oh, and hey, if you're enjoying all the giveaways, please do this!

Because you all know I share what I can with my readers, if I win the $500, I'm going to be getting more stuff to giveaway to YOU! That's right, if I win, you win! So please go and vote for me over at Fuel my blog, okay?


Catching Up!

What with all my current health drama, I am a little behind on the blog, and I realize that! So, here are some answers to the questions out there, and just general catching up on what's coming up here at Cool Moms Rule!
  • YES, I DO have more prizes to give away! I promised you a week, and that's seven giveaways! So there will be MORE giveaways coming your way this week!
  • BOOK REVIEWS will start tomorrow, one day behind schedule. However, good things come to those who wait! In addition to our first teen/young adult reader review of the Twilight series, I have received an absolutely gorgeous book for younger children (elementary school age) from Barefoot Books called The Boy Who Grew Flowers, and I will be reviewing that for you as well in our very first week of book reviews.
  • To all of our WINNERS : if you haven't received your prize yet, all the prizes awarded to date are going out in TODAY'S mail, provided I have your shipping address! Make sure you reply to the notification email with that info.
  • What's coming up next week? More product reviews!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Friday's Giveaway! A Pair of Converse Kids Wade 2.0 Signature Shoes!

You may remember that a while back, Viv wrote a glowing review about the quality of these great kids' shoes. Her only caveat was that the Converse Kids Wade 2.0 Signature Shoe, at 49.99, might be a little steep for some budgets. Well, now you can win a pair of these fantastic, stylish shoes for FREE for your toddler!

This cute as a button and durable-as-it-comes black leather shoe has white stitching with red accenting that gives it a really sharp look, along with a padded tongue, built-in stabilizers and a rose-printed insole with cushioning. There's an internal bootie for "flexible movement and ankle support," and Wade's signature "Rose and Thorn" motif, which is designed to reflect "the fierceness of [Wade's] play on the court meeting the beauty of his game." It's a great-looking shoe.

Please note, we have only one pair of these shoes to give away (this is a fantastic prize, thanks to Converse!), in a size 10 Toddler. If your child wears that size, WILL wear that size soon, or you know a Mom whose little one MIGHT wear this size, than this contest is for you!

How to Enter Today's Giveaway:

It's easy! Just 2 steps!

1. Write a post on your blog linking back to THIS contest.*

Remember, Cool Moms Rule is giving a new prize away every day for a week in honor of our new feature, Book Reviews! You can come back every day and enter all of our giveaways!

2. Leave a comment on THIS post with your link and your email included.

*Don't have a blog? No problem! Just leave your comment with your email to be entered in today's giveaway. And please, tell your friends about Cool Moms Rule! and our week of giveaways!

UPDATE: Marcia won the Converse Kids shoes! Hope your grandchild loves them, Marcia. Congrats!

Hey! Isn't that still Wednesday's prize?! What Happened with the contest?! (Don't worry, I'll explain!)

Tuesday evening, I felt a sharp pain in my chest. It came on suddenly, just after I had finished eating my char-grilled chicken. I had eaten late, because of the Rhino's soccer practice, so I thought it might be heartburn, and I kept trying to get comfortable as I was sitting on the sofa. No matter how I sat or even lay down, I couldn't get comfortable. When I got up to go to the kitchen, the pain immediately got worse; so bad that I found myself reflexively taking aspirin, even though I have a healthy heart, because "they" say that's what you do for chest pain. I took antacids, too, still thinking maybe heartburn, and tried to go to bed. I ended up sitting up all night long, because it hurt too much to move around or even lie down all the way.

The Engineer took the Owl to school Wednesday morning, and I remember telling him that I was feeling bad and was going to the doctor today. He figured, like I did, that this was something that would go away over time, and so he went ahead to work as usual. A little later I got up to take the Rhino to school.

The chest pain, literally, took my breath away as I tried to just pull on some clothes and get going. I moved in slow motion, taking shallow breaths, because it just hurt too much to breathe in deeply. I couldn't figure out why my chest hurt so badly; I had been walking for exercise, hadn't lifted anything heavy, etc. I took off my bra, thinking, "to hell with this", it just hurt too much. It was bad enough, sharp and harsh, that I thought, "I will just take the Rhino to school and go straight to the doctor's office from there. I just need to make it to his school."

I didn't make it. Halfway down the road from our house, the tears started rolling down my face as I struggled to take a breath. Now it was getting harder and harder to breathe; the pain stabbed me with every breath. Even breathing shallowly hurt so badly that I couldn't concentrate on driving. I didn't want to scare the Rhino but I couldn't keep from getting panicky--I couldn't breathe! I pulled over and told him, panting to get the words out, that I was calling his Dad to get him. The Rhino, bless his heart, told me to call the hospital first, get an ambulance, take care of myself. He could see I was in a lot of pain, and I don't usually let the boys see me hurting if I can help it. I managed to dial their Dad (thank goodness for "contacts" programmed into my cell!), told him breathlessly where I was and to come NOW, hung up the phone and dialed 911, holding my chest and wincing with every breath and fighting to get air into my lungs.

The ambulance came and they gave my oxygen right away, 4 baby aspirin and double sprays of nitroglycerin under my tongue. They hooked me up to a heart monitor, tried to calm me down--all the while, the Engineer was calling my phone, trying to find out what was happening, and I was worried sick about the Rhino, who I knew was scared for me.

I won't bore you with all the details, but I spent all of Wednesday and Thursday in the hospital, hooked up to heart monitors and, for the first day, oxygen. They gave me morphine for the pain and more nitroglycerin, but it wasn't until they gave me something the RN called, "like ibuprofen on steroids, really strong," that I started to feel better. That's when I knew for sure that it wasn't my heart, and I calmed down some more. Of course, the doctors had to test EVERYTHING until they were sure: I had ultrasounds, Cat Scans, EKGs and vials and vials of blood taken from me (and they had to stick a new hole in me every time, woohoo). I was really feeling better by Wednesday afternoon; they wanted to keep me for observation and the Engineer wanted a definite diagnosis. He likes things very clear, and he didn't want it to happen again. He went home with our boys after visiting me, everybody reassured I was doing better.

And then, a couple hours later, as I was just lying in my bed in the hospital, doing nothing, it happened again! Stabbing pain that robbed me of breath wracked through my chest as I fought for air. I frantically pushed the call button for the nurse and gasped out, "I ...can't....breathe!" Again I was put on oxygen, given aspirin and morphine. I asked for an anti-inflammatory and the nurse gave it to me, grudgingly, telling me that she didn't see how that would be better than morphine. But that IS what finally made me feel better.

To make this already long story a bit shorter: I was finally released last night around 9 pm, with a diagnosis of pleurisy and pleural efflusion, which is a fancy doctor's name for fluid in my lungs and inflammation as a result. I was told that part of my lung had collapsed(!); the doctor assured me that it was only a small part and would heal itself over time. Who knew lungs could do that?

So! I am advised against any strenuous exercise (as the Engineer said, I don't do that anyway!) and I am taking ibuprofen, breathing slowly and carefully now, with the occasional twinge replacing the sharp, scary, breath-taking chest pain.

And that, my dear readers, is why yesterday no new prize was posted, and why today's prize is posting late. I know you will all understand, and forgive, the tardiness. You have to admit I had a valid excuse! : )

I'm posting a new prize today, in just a couple minutes.

And I'll announce the winner of the pedometer later today, as well.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Wednesday's Giveaway: SPORTBRAIN iStep X1 Pedometer!

Today's Giveaway, from SportBrain, is ideal for the Mom on the go! We all know how our kids keep us busy every day. Now the iStep X1 Pedometer will show you how your everyday activity contributes to your overall fitness, rewarding you every step of the way!

Whether you walk around the office, visit every aisle in the supermarket or take a stroll on the beach, your SportBrain will record your activity automatically.
Every day, you can review your own personal information and even create your own activity journal.

Wear And Walk

Simply attach your SportBrain iStep X to either your belt or waistband, aligning it just outside your knee. Whether you walk around the office, jog in the park, or go grocery shopping, your SportBrain will record all the steps you take.

Upload your data to the SportBrain Web Site

All your data will be sent to your personal SportBrain Web page through the iSync Software automatically after you plug your iStep into a computer that is connected to the Internet. (USB cable included!)

Check Out Your Results!
Once logged in you can find out how many steps you took that day and if you reached your daily goal, log your activities in a daily journal, track weight and much more.

In addition, SportBrain helps keep you motivated through the SportBrain Rewards program, where each step you take helps you "earn while you burn!".


* Step Counter
* Calories Counter
* Distance Counter
* Clock
* Easy to Read Display
* PC Connectivity
* USB Interface

The Sportbrain iStep X1 Pedometer comes with everything you need, including a lanyard and extra battery (the first one is already installed). You need a PC running some version of Windows and an internet connection to upload your data.

How to Enter Today's Giveaway:

It's easy! Just 2 steps!

1. Write a post on your blog linking back to THIS contest.*

Remember, Cool Moms Rule is giving a new prize away every day for a week in honor of our new feature, Book Reviews! You can come back every day and enter all of our giveaways!

2. Leave a comment on THIS post with your link and your email included.

*Don't have a blog? No problem! Just leave your comment with your email to be entered in today's giveaway. And please, tell your friends about Cool Moms Rule! and our week of giveaways!

UPDATE: The winner of the Smartbrain Pedometer is "Mommajay"! Congratulations, Jenna, and remember to enter every day for another chance to win!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Today's Giveaway! Gloves In A Bottle

You may remember the post where Viv reviewed Skin MD: Natural Shielding Lotion. Cool Moms Rule! gave the product a rave review for the way it bonded with the skin's natural defenses to keep skin moisturized. Since then, we've seen other shielding lotions popping up in our local stores. But there's nothing else like Skin MD on the shelves. . .
Except maybe Gloves in A Bottle, today's giveaway.

Why? Because Gloves in A Bottle is recommended by top dermatologists.
Highly concentrated and designed especially for dry hands, this full-size, 8 oz. Gloves In A Bottle will keep your skin smooth through those tough winter months.

Note: Gloves in a Bottle is not from 21st Century Formulations, the maker of Skin MD.

How to Enter Today's Giveaway:

It's easy! Just 2 steps!

1. Write a post on your blog linking back to THIS contest.*

Remember, Cool Moms Rule is giving a new prize away every day for a week in honor of our new feature, Book Reviews! You can come back every day and enter all of our giveaways!

2. Leave a comment on THIS post with your link and your email included.

*Don't have a blog? No problem! Just leave your comment with your email to be entered in today's giveaway. And please, tell your friends about Cool Moms Rule! and our week of giveaways!

UPDATE: Kimberly L. is our winner! Way to go, Kimberly! Please send your shipping address to vbruss@cfl.rr.com, because you forgot to leave your email with your comment! = )
Keep on trying, everybody! You can enter every day to win another prize!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Monday's Giveaway! Collector's Edition Pink Ribbon Barbie!

Do you know a little girl (or a grown-up Mom!) who would love a Barbie doll? Of course! And you can feel good about giving her (or even rewarding yourself with) today's fantastic giveaway.

The Collector's Edition Pink Ribbon Barbie helps raise awareness for breast cancer research through this lovely doll, elegantly attired in her pink evening gown with the signature pink ribbon pinned to her shoulder. How? For every doll sold, $2.50 is donated to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, with a guaranteed minimum donation of $25,000.00!

So you can feel good about yourself for helping to raise breast cancer awareness, AND win a prize at the same time!

How to Enter Today's (/24/07) Giveaway:

It's easy! Just 2 steps!

1. Write a post on your blog linking back to THIS contest.*

Remember, Cool Moms Rule is giving a new prize away every day for a week in honor of our new feature, Book Reviews! You can come back every day and enter all of our giveaways!

2. Leave a comment on THIS post with your link and your email included.

*Don't have a blog? No problem! Just leave your comment with your email to be entered in today's giveaway. And please, tell your friends about Cool Moms Rule! and our week of giveaways!

UPDATE: CONGRATULATIONS to Christine of "From Dates to Diapers" who won the Collector's Edition Pink Ribbon Barbie! Way to go! Remember, you have another chance to win a great prize each and every day for a week here at Cool Moms Rule!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Full Week of Giveaways Begins Tomorrow!

Don't forget, Cool Moms Rule is giving away a new prize EVERY day for a week, and the giveaways start tomorrow! You can enter for a new prize every day! It's easy. Link to the contest and post a comment.

That's all it takes!

Every prize is a winner, and every reader has a chance to win. So tune in to Cool Moms Rule tomorrow to start winning.

And immediately following the giveaways, we will post our first Book Review!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Head's Up for Moms: Product Recall

Mom Enterprises, Inc. or Bliss by Mom, is recalling its "Apple Flavored Baby Bliss Gripewater" drink, intended to relieve symptoms of colic in babies. The FDA reports finding some of the drinks have been contaminated with a parasite known as cryptosporidium, which can cause diarrhea and intestinal infections.

The recalled product bears this code: 26952V 10/08. Parents could buy the Apple Flavored Baby Bliss Gripewater in stores or online. Mom Enterprises has sold 17,600 bottles to date.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Open Letter to the View

Dear Panelists of the View;

As a mother who promotes tolerance and respect for the beliefs of all people to her children, I am nonetheless stunned by Sherri Shepherd's remarks on your show about evolution and whether the world is round. If Sherri chooses not to believe in evolution, that is certainly her right (though I would be interested in knowing how she rationalizes scientific evidence to the contrary, like fossil records and carbon dating, and hope that issue comes up on another episode of the View).

But when Sherri went on to say that she did not even know whether the earth is round, and then tried to excuse her ignorance by suggesting that she was too busy being a mother to take the time to educate herself, that was just going too far. Sherri made a point of acting as if it was not important for her, as an educated adult, let alone a parent, to be aware of even this most basic fact. When pressed, she said that if her child ever asked her, she and her son would have to go to the library to look up whether the earth was round or flat.

This is plainly ridiculous. Any person who has reached adulthood without learning the world is not flat should certainly not be serving as a spokesperson for other women on national television. And any woman who suggests that she did not learn something she should have learned as a child because she was too busy being a Mom just makes all women who choose to stay home full-time and take care of their children look like morons. Furthermore, defending her own ignorance about the world's geography just makes Americans, once again, look like uneducated, over-privileged egocentrics to the rest of the world.

Sherri needs to take some night courses and brush up on her facts before she sits in a panel on national television and attempts to take part in any informed discussion. Simply because a person is not controversial, as Rosie was, does not mean, or at least it certainly should not mean, that she is representative of the smart, savvy women who are also devoted mothers that really live in this country.


Viv Bruss, Editor
Cool Moms Rule! http://coolmomsrule.blogspot.com

Monday, September 17, 2007

Woot! We're excited. Here's why: New Book Reviews and an Entire Week's Worth of FREE Stuff for YOU!

Cool Moms Rule! is announcing a new "Book Reviews" addition beginning Monday, October 1st! We'll be reviewing books for Moms, teens and kids.

We've always been known for our fantastic product reviews. Now, Cool Moms Rule! is branching out to include Book Reviews on our site.

Kicking off the new Book Reviews segment in style, the week prior to the first Book Review will consist of seven days of free giveaways! That's right, every day for a week we'll be giving away FREE STUFF!

From Monday, September 24 until Sunday, September 30th, Cool Moms Rule! will be giving away a host of products of interest to Moms and their families, including the first book to be reviewed, the popular New York Times Bestseller "Twilight" by Stephenie Meyers. "Twilight" is the first book in a new teen/young adult series and future books in the series will also be featured for reviews (and giveaways!) in upcoming segments.

Tell a friend about this exciting new addition to Cool Moms Rule! (You can just forward this post!) and make sure to tune in next week! You can enter every day for a chance to win each of our fabulous prizes. You can also recommend books and authors you'd like for us to review in your comment, and Viv will be sure to take your recommendations to heart.

We can't wait for next week!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Wow! Even more contests for Moms!

My Five Little Monkeys has a contest going on, and I'm almost afraid to tell you all about it, because I want to win it! She's giving away a cool Personal and Family Organizer from BusyBodyBook. And, boy, do I need to organize!

And Two Moms In a Blog have an incredible giveaway--this is over $150 worth of stuff!
You could win:
A fabulous make your own stuffed animal kit from FunOnTheArk.com valued at $20.00,
A 3 month gift subscription to Menu Planning Central $60 value,
A leatherette photo book that you make from your digital birthday photos compliments of photomemoriesalive.com valued at $50.00,
And 10 handmade thank you notes provided by FunEvents4Girls.com valued at $20.00!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September 11th Field Trip Appropriate for this Day

The Rhino was SO excited this morning because he is going on a field trip to the Kennedy Space Center today, as part of a program known as BLAST. We don't have to pay for a thing; special buses are sent right to the school to pick the kids up and take them to Kennedy Space Center, where they will participate in a mock shuttle launch.

I find this day an especially good one for my son to visit a national landmark and maybe feel a little more patriotic inside as a result. It's been six years since the World Trade Center bombings, but the memory is still vivid for all of us. So it's difficult for adults, and especially parents, to feel cheerful on a day like today, that reminds us of how much we have lost. But I think it's right that when we look back, we also look forward, and take the time to appreciate our great good fortune to be living in a free country, speaking our minds and sharing our opinions, and celebrating the innovation and sacrifice of the brave Americans who came before us.

Yay! Free Stuff and Sweepstakes!


You can win a grand prize package including tickets to the red carpet at the 2008 Primetime Emmy Awards, roundtrip airfare to LA, three nights accommodations, dinner for two at an LA hotspot, limo service on Emmy day, style and beauty consultations and a Lights, Camera, Be Luminous gift basket filled with Olay Definity products!

Clean, Soft and Fresh Sweepstakes!

Enter to win a Clean (Sedona, Arizona), Soft (Park City, Utah) or Fresh (Hawaii) Getaway from Pure Essentials! Getaway is the Grand Prize. First prize is a 600 thread count sheet set, duvet cover, shams, bedskirt and a full year's supply of Pure Essentials from Tide, Downy and Bounce.

Febreze Freshness Fix Instant Win Game and Sweepstakes!

You could win up to $25, 000, plus instant win prizes! If you win an instant prize, please leave a comment to let us know!

Create a Mom-themed personal or business card from Real Live Moms! Brought to you from Microsoft

Giveaway: Celebrity Baby Blog is giving away 10 (!) copies of the book, "From the Hips", a great new pregnancy and motherhood resource.

If you win a prize, please let us know over here at Cool Moms Rule!

Monday, September 10, 2007


In the U.S., there are currently 14.3 million mothers with children under the age of six. More than 100,000 of those Moms find the inspiration they need through a group called MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers). The International MOPS Convention will be held in my home state, Florida, for the first time this year. From Thursday, September 20th through Saturday the 22nd, about 4000 volunteers will get together for training, networking and inspiration at the Gaylord Palms Convention Center in Orlando.

Though I was basically clueless when my boys were this age (aren't we all a little clueless the first time around?), I know many Moms who owe their sanity in part to wonderful groups like this one, which offer support, resources, and other Moms to network with and assure you that, no, you are not crazy and no, you are not alone. =)

The Convention, with the catchy slogan, "Better Moms Make a Better World," will feature speakers like Laurie Smith, from TV's "Trading Spaces," The CEO of Mops International, Elisa Morgan, and the new president, Naomi Cramer Overton, as well as musical guest Sara Groves.

Saturday, September 8, 2007


Want a healthy snack? Okay, let me put that another way: want to trade in your junk food for a good-for-you, wholesome, healthy COOOKIE? Now we're talking!

Head over to Kashi's website now. All you have to do is enter your address in, and they'll send you one of three healthy Kashi snacks, FREE! And one of the choices is a delicious oatmeal chocolate chunk cookie.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Smucker's Back-to-(After)-School Tips Sweepstakes!

Smucker's Uncrustables have a new sweepstakes running from now until October 30th in honor of all those parents (and kids) ushering in another new school year!

If you live in a cave and don't know what Uncrustables are, Smucker's has frozen sandwiches without crusts that you can thaw and serve. They're great for school lunches, since you can just pop one or two in a lunch bag and by the time lunch runs around, the sandwich will be thawed out enough to eat. In addition to simple peanut butter and jelly variations, Smucker's Uncrustables now have classic grilled cheese sandwiches you can heat up in the microwave, too.

It's easy to enter: all you have to do is enter your own Back-to-After-School tip on the Uncrustables website and you can win. And there will be a new winner EVERY DAY during the giveaway period! Prize kits include Uncrustables fridge magnets, sandwich holders and cooler bags.

You can also download a Smucker's Uncrustables calendar from the website to help keep you organized (great for tracking soccer practices, school events, etc.)

In case you need some inspiration for the kind of After-School tips Smucker's Uncrustables are looking for, here are a few examples from the website:

Organize for the Day Ahead Avoid morning scrambles by getting everything ready the night before. Along with their lunch, snack and school supplies, gather all your child will need for their afternoon activities, as well.

Designate a Spot for Supplies – Keep all of your child’s school and after-school items – homework, lunch box, uniforms – in a designated spot close to the door. This will prevent you from losing things or running around the house gathering everything right before you run out the door. (It will also cut down on clutter around the house!)

Keep a Detailed Calendar – Write down every practice, game and meeting, including start and finish times and the location, on a calendar. Post at home for everyone to see and also keep a copy with you. Include important phone numbers such as the coach, babysitter, other carpool parents and the doctor. To get started, you’ll find a free calendar you can download at www.uncrustables.com.

Try Not to Over-Schedule – Make sure your child isn’t involved in so many extracurricular activities that they don’t have time for homework or just relaxing. Talk with your child and see how they feel and what they are enjoying most.

Make Room for Activities You Enjoy – Enjoy the time spent waiting in the car or on the sidelines with other parents. Learn a new language through an audio CD or listen to a book on tape, or even start a book club with fellow moms to help build friendships and interesting conversation.

Label Everything –Write your child’s name in permanent marker on shoes, bags, uniforms and other gear. This will help to save you time sifting through soccer balls and water bottles to make sure you bring home the right one.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Product Review: Germ-X Advanced Protection Foaming Hand Sanitizer

It's rarely that I so look forward to testing a product for review here on Cool Moms Rule as I did testing this one out, and here's why: as you know if you've been following the site's posts, my kids started school last week. And every Mom knows that lots of exposure + lots of kids = lots of germs. And that means sick kids.

Sure enough, the very first day of school both of my boys came home with tales of--Eww!--kids throwing up. The very first day! And of course they don't want to get sick like that. And my advice to them is always, "Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands!" We follow the "Happy Birthday" rule for hand-washing: sing the Birthday song all the way through once and you've washed your hands for twenty seconds. Or at least, I follow the rule, and they are supposed to. But, hey, these are boys we are talking about. And maybe they don't always wash their hands as well as they should (all of you Moms of girls out there, I see you smirking).

So, using a hand sanitizer like Germ-X Advanced Protection helps me hedge my bets against infection. I know that when we were on a cruise, they had hand sanitizing stations to help keep down the spread of infection. And according to the American Journal of Infection Control, "Studies have shown a decrease in the average sick time of students who use hand sanitizers as a part of their hand hygiene regimen."

And Germ-X has gone one better and made theirs fun to use, by making it foamy. Consider this: what isn't better when it's foamy? Whipped cream is better than plain old cream. Bubble bath is better than bath soap. And foaming hand sanitizer just feels so indulgent that you focus on that pampering feeling, rather than the whole germ-killing aspect.

Some other added features that Moms will appreciate: this hand sanitizer is not alcohol-based. Instead, it uses, "benzalkonium chloride (the same stuff found in eyewashes and surface cleaners) to kill 99.9 percent of common germs." In light of recent concerns concerning small children accidentally ingesting quantities of alcohol from simple household products, the Germ-X Advanced Protection Foaming Hand Sanitizer offers another option. In addition, it has Vitamin E to keep hands soft and moisturized (which my boys wouldn't care a fig about, but I certainly appreciate), and a nice, fresh scent (nothing too fruity or floral for my boys, and not that nasty hospital-disinfectant smell).

In retrospect, this has been one of these easiest product reviews I've ever written!

Germ-X Advanced Protection Foaming Hand Sanitizer Final Grade: A +

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

There's Always One Bad Apple

If you've noticed a slight decrease in the volume of the posting over here at Cool Moms Rule! and you've been wondering what's happened, I've had some "technical difficulties."

I'm Viv, and, as you know, I'm the resident editor. I also carry out all the product testing for our product reviews. Well, ordinarily I do all my testing from the comfort of my trusty Macbook Pro®. I'm a big Apple© fan, and I'm always telling everyone how great Apple© is, and introducing new fans to Apple© products, and recruiting them to my Apple© army so they can help us when the inevitable Apple© revolution comes along and we finally throw over the evil PC overlords once and for all. It's all part of my ultimate plan for world domination.

Only, right now? I'm not so delighted with my Macbook Pro®. Seems the power cord to my laptop, which seems like a great one, since it hangs on by a magnetic adaptor that breaks away if someone tugs on it so the laptop doesn't go crashing down off a desk or table onto the floor, is broken.

And it's broken in a BIG way: the wires inside the power adaptor overheated, to such an extent that they melted the plastic shielding. That's right, the wires fused into the plastic covering, and they won't connect any more, and even the Engineer couldn't help. So, a new power cord was ordered, to the tune of about 90 bucks (!). The cost is so high because of, for one thing, that nifty magnetic connector which is, of course, proprietary Apple© stuff and apparently made of huge quantities of platinum and diamonds.

So now, here I am, sitting in front of the boys' PC computer screen, compelled to browse in IE and glaring as I type.

By the way, Apple©, if any of you read this blog and want to send me a power cord to test, I'd be more than happy to try it out for you! jk ;)

Anyway, I haven't been completely idle in my downtime, either. As a matter of fact, I have two great product reviews coming up in the next couple days: Germ-X Foaming Antibacterial Hand Wash and Gloves in A Bottle, and we have an exciting giveaway on the way, so stay tuned!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Ha! Told you so!

You Will Be a Cool Parent

You seem to naturally know a lot about parenting, and you know what kids need.

You can tell when it's time to let kids off the hook, and when it's time to lay down the law.

While your parenting is modern and hip, it's not over the top.

You know that there's nothing cool about a parent who acts like a teenager... or a drill sergeant!
Test it for yourself--are you a Cool Mom?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Letting my little birds try out their wings

Yesterday, the Owl and the Rhino started school again. The Owl blithely went into his new high school, excited and optimistic, with a few butterflies but otherwise perfectly okay from the moment he stepped out of the car. In two years, he could be driving it!

The Rhino, my youngest, betraying his nervousness only by being completely dressed and ready incredibly early in the morning, chatted non-stop in the car until he saw a friend waiting outside his new junior high, then left me with barely a good-bye.

I thought, "They are growing up. They don't need me so much any more..." And I was sad, briefly, for their lost innocence. I liked being needed. I liked teaching them, learning with them, watching them grow, feeling like no one, no one in the world, knew these boys as I knew them. No one would ever understand the complexity of their emotions, what moved them, what scared them, what motivated them, the way I did. I love the people they are becoming, but I miss the children they were.

Now, they are young men, forming new relationships with others.

The Rhino has a close-knit circle of friends, kids he has known throughout elementary school, that continue to exchange emails regularly, boys and girls. They go through cycles of crushes and misunderstandings, petty arguments and secret pacts, making up and splitting up and coming back together. Along the way, he forms new peripheral friendships with enviable ease, adding to the circle with a confidence he never inherited from his Mom.

The Owl, less trusting and more reserved, has a small, select group of friends he likes and trusts, boys who share his classes and his academic prowess. Some younger students already look up to him as the resident genius who helped them through seventh grade, accolades he secretly enjoys while feigning indifference. And there is a another group (though I doubt he realizes it) of girls who have started looking at him in a certain way, following him with their eyes, greeting him in the hallways, slipping him into a mental column under Potential Boyfriend Material.

It's a new chapter for me, too, learning to let go a little. Making myself loosen my grip on them enough to allow them to grow into these lives they are making for themselves, not hovering, but still there when they need me.

Support Mom. Chauffeur Mom. And hopefully, still the Cool Mom.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Latest Recall: Barbie and Tanner

The latest toy recall from the Consumer Product Safety Commission doesn't contain lead. Instead, it has magnets. And though each tiny little magnet will not in itself hurt anyone, magnets pulling together inside a small child's body could "cause intestinal perforation or blockage, which can be fatal." Yikes!

No injuries have been reported, and yet the toy was pulled after only three accounts of the magnets becoming loose, which shows excellent response time by the manufacturer, so I want to give them credit.

But the toy--well, the toy creeped me out before the recall ever happened. It's called Barbie and Tanner, and here's a picture of it:

On the surface, it looks like a cute child's toy. Here's Barbie, with her cute dog, Tanner (not a tanning bed like I worried it might be, from the name). See how happy Tanner is? And Barbie can even feed Tanner pet treats! And when Tanner poos, conscientious Barbie cleans the mess up with her pooper scooper, thus exercising responsible pet ownership and concern for the environment.

So, what's creepy about the Barbie and Tanner toy? I'll tell you. The treat dispenser has little brown pet treats. And Tanner the dog "eats" them. And then the treats become...um, well, they still look the same, only now they are poo instead of dog treats. And Tanner...poos. And Barbie scoops up the brown poo and deposits it in the trash receptacle, which is also the pet treat dispenser!


There goes the magic.

Hello, disillusionment! I'm a young child who just learned that dogs eat poo!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Ack! School starts in ten days!

I find that as my sons grow older, I become less concerned with their teachers thinking I am the perfect mother.

When they were very little, and heading off to those first few days of elementary school, when the pain of being separated from them, and worrying about who was supervising them and how closely, was sharp and acute, I read the school supply lists that came home with almost religious fervor. I checked every item off, labelled their notebooks and backpacks and lunch boxes, bought extras just in case, so that I could send them off utterly prepared for whatever came their way. Their first few years in school, I logged hundreds of volunteer hours. Every teacher at the elementary school knew me, and knew that I was a stay-at-home Mom, and that I was reliable if not always prompt, and helpful if not always skilled.

Um...not so much, any more. Gone are the days when I agonized over, "250 count tissue box" when my store had only boxes of 100, eventually buying three just to be on the safe side.

Now? Box of baby wipes? I have some travel packs somewhere. Ream of copy paper--which is cheapest? Legal-sized construction paper? Good god, why? Don't I have scrap-booking supplies and old construction paper scraps somewhere?

Don't get me wrong, I am all for helping the teachers out. I know they have to supplement classroom supplies sometimes out of their own paychecks. But some of these items are over-the-top, especially when you have two children or more.

For example, both of my boys have "2 mb flash drive" on their supply list. That's at least a $20 item in itself. Chances are good that I could have just bought one and let them share it (but I didn't, because, honestly, I can always use extra flash drives, too). And they both need (as in required) scientific calculators, when I have never owned one in my life (and yes, thanks, I did take calculus, I'm not a dinosaur).

One of the "suggested" options for the Owl's supplies goes even further, listing a scientific graphing calculator that is over...wait for it...$135 in the local warehouse discount place.


I could have an ipod for that much.

Okay, that wasn't a very Mom-like thought, was it? And I DO value the children's education above everything, and so I am keeping an open mind about the ridiculous expensive calculator because, goodness knows, the Engineer actually had an expensive HP one himself, that could--he was such an adorable geek then--clip to his belt.

Yes, really.

And I still married him.

And I will still volunteer through all the (oh dear God no) science fairs and some of the fundraisers, though I keep close count these days and 40 hours volunteer time is just fine, thank you very much. I drive both boys to and from school still, every single frickin' day of the school year, they've never had to ride a school bus, and so I figure I am doing my part, and I am there if they need me every single day, though oh gosh! we can't tarry in the car loop, I remember that's against the rules, so sorry if you were going to ask me to chip in, Mrs. Social Studies teacher!

Yes, I know, I'm terrible. But with one son going into junior high and one starting high school, I am already worried enough about the courses they are taking, and the difficulty and volume of the homework they are given, and the friends they have and the grades they make, to let myself get too worked up over newspaper clippings of current events.

Now let me go, I have to root through the kitchen drawer for some pens to toss into their backpacks, okay?

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Japan's Exclusive Mom Clubs Lead to Murders

Mie Tanaguchi, 34, mother of a 5-year-old daughter, felt unbearably lonely. Her only friends were the mothers at her daughter's kindergarten, and lately she felt they had been excluding her. They were distant and cold, and she worried that their behavior would extend to her daughter. She couldn't stand for her daughter to be an outcast.

On this morning, it was Mie's turn to drive the children to school. Wakana and Jin, the two girls sharing the backseat with her daughter, might have been tired, or moody. Whatever the reason, they didn't speak. In her emotional state, Mie took their silence as an affront to her daughter, and she completely lost control. Pulling over to the side of the road, she pulled a slender knife from her purse, yanked the girls out of the car--and stabbed them repeatedly, leaving them for dead on the side of the road. Although both girls were barely alive when she sped away, they died soon after.

When Mie was found, bloody and in shock, she confessed to everything, detailing the loneliness and estrangement that led to her horrendous acts.

In Japan, most mothers are expected to stay home, and moms form close friendships with each other that last for years as their children grow. They form close-knit cliques, with a distinct pecking order. Women wear their finest clothes to the neighborhood park, entering into a series of "highly ritualized" behaviors in their attempts to be accepted: bowing deeply as a sign of respect for the dominant mom boss, they wait for signs of acceptance, turning to the next clique and the next with the same behavior until one group has allowed them to join.

When a woman is excluded, she worries for her child's future. And not without cause. Competition among the children is rampant. Getting your child into the "right" school is a must. Some schools require the children to take entrance exams when they are as young as two years old.

When Mitsuko Yamada's daughter did not pass an entrance exam into an exclusive Otawa kindergarten, she cracked, strangling the girl who did with the girl's own scarf. She was sentenced to 15 years in jail after turning herself in voluntarily, shocked by what she had done. Amazingly, one newspaper reporting on the case received over 1000 letters of support from sympathetic Japanese moms.

Miwako Nakajima, who wrote a novel about Japan's mommy cliques entitled Park Debut, opines, "I think these women have simply never grown up. In many ways, they seem to be locked in their own youths-the way they still bully through ostracism and have a 'leader' of the group."

source: marieclaire.com

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Review: Skin MD Natural Shielding Lotion

I'm one of those people who has to put lotion on every day. My legs, especially, get very dry after I shave them (which I should probably do more often!).

Recently, I was sent a sample of Skin MD Natural Shielding Lotion and asked to test it out, no strings attached, and give my opinion on the product.

Now, I will be honest with you: when I saw "MD" in the name, I thought maybe this was a gimmick. What made this lotion any better than any of the other over-the-counter lotions at my store? A lotion is a lotion, right?

Anyway, I put the shielding lotion on my legs after I shaved them, and it felt good, the skin looked moisturized, and all was fine. That's pretty much all I expected.

So, the next day, I get out the lotion again--and I don't need it. My legs look great (if I do say so myself!). Even that dry area around my knees looked good. So I smoothed some lotion on my arms, especially around my elbows, and went on with my day.

The next day, my skin was still looking great. I was out driving around quite a bit, and since I live in Florida, I am always in the sun when I am outdoors. But this lotion just kept right on working.

To make a long story short, I went an entire week without having to apply any more to my legs (yes, okay, I went a week without shaving my legs, sue me), and they looked great every day. Plus, my elbows weren't, you know, pebbly looking. That's when I decided that this lotion deserved a closer look.

I went to the web site, looked through the literature, and here's what I discovered: this lotion is different. They call it a "shielding lotion" for a reason. It doesn't just go on top of your dry skin to moisturize what's already dry. It bonds with your skin to keep it moisturized all over. It actually helps your skin create a natural seal to hold the moisture in and keep drying irritants out. And there were numerous reports from dermatologists on the site (where the MD comes from, I'm guessing) endorsing the way the shielding lotion protects your skin.

Now, I don't see a dermatologist, and I bet a lot of Moms are like me. We have limited time and limited budgets and a lot of our effort goes into keeping our kids and our families happy, and so things like our skincare tend to sift to the bottom of the pile. I know mine does.

But that's why I think that 21st Century Formulations, the company that makes the Skin MD Natural shielding lotion, is on to something here. Because I didn't have to spend a lot of time, or use a lot of different creams and lotions and such, to keep my skin looking great. They made it nice and easy for me.

I just put on the Skin MD shielding lotion and forget about it. That's my kind of skincare regimen, right there. And since it lasted a long time, I really didn't need to use much of it at all, which means the expense is minimal, as well.

So, this product gets a definite thumbs-up from me. I am keeping the container in my car, where, like many chauffeur Moms, I spend a lot of time, so that I have it handy when I need it.

OVERALL RATING for Skin MD Shielding Lotion: A+!

Friday, August 3, 2007

This made me laugh...

...and so I thought I would share it with all of you! Melanie Lynne Hauser, over at The Refrigerator Door, has a very imaginative teen on her hands. See what he and his friends are up to over here:

The Refrigerator Door.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Building Better Bedtimes

I remember the days when my children didn't want to go to bed at all, let alone settle down and go to sleep once they were there. We always got an early start with the pajamas, teeth-brushing and bedtime stories, because inevitably would come the stalling: "Can I have some water? I'm thirsty!" "I have to go to the bathroom!"

After about the fiftieth time, you just start bringing them a water with the bedtime story, and then make them go potty.

And of course the room can't be too dark, but the night-light can't be in their eyes, and close the closet door, but leave the bedroom door open and, and, and!

Now that my boys are older, bedtimes are much more relaxed. Pajamas are a thing of the past. Most summer days find them in the pool until just before bedtime, so they just sleep in their clean under-clothes after they've read for a while.

Boys being boys, we still have to monitor that they've actually, really, truly, in fact brushed their teeth, of course.

Moms nowadays, though, they have it easy.

Of COURSE I'm just kidding!

But you new Moms do get some help: Colgate-Palmolive and RIF (Reading is Fundamental) are bringing back an award-winning program from last year, "Healthy Bedtime Habits for a Lifetime."

You can log on over at Colgate Healthy Habits for lots of helpful tools for building healthy bedtime habits with your kids, like a Bedtime Rituals log with a customizable theme to track hand-washing, teeth-brushing and the like. Families compete for points by filling out their logs each week, and they can win fun rewards. There's an interactive message board for parents to share ideas for making bedtime easier. For the first time this year, the Colgate team has added an online storybook feature that lets your kids star in a book all about healthy habits, along with characters like Dr. Rabbit, Riffington and Handy the Octopus. And you even have a chance at winning books for your elementary schools library, with the Library Gift valued at around $1000!

Last year, more than 55,000 families participated in the program, and this campaign earned a Gold Halo Award from the Cause Marketing Forum.

Since 2004, Colgate-Palmolive has contributed more than 58,000 books to more than 82,000 children in need through its partnership with RIF.

Now, if they could just find a way to let us Moms get more sleep, we'd have it made!

I did it! I signed up for PayPerPost!

Well, everybody, as you can see I took the plunge and signed up for payperpost"!

While at BlogHer '07, as you all know by now, I met some wonderful people, including other Moms like me who blog. A lot of them write occasional posts for PayPerPost, and had lots of good things to say about them! In addition, I spoke with the PayPerPost exhibitors at BlogHer (where I picked up this HUGE pen that my son assures me is "awesomely cool"), and I like them, too.

So I decided to try PayPerPost out for myself.

Now, what does this mean for you, my readers? Well, don't worry, first of all, that my product reviews will be biased. Those will NOT be sponsored posts. I am still sticking with my policy of accepting items for review and reporting on them after they have been tested out, with no other compensation.

But, especially if it was something I have been planning on posting about for a while, I will be writing the occasional sponsored post for PayPerPost. And I feel good about my decision.

Why? Because it's services like these that allow bloggers like me and my Mom friends to keep on blogging, attend conventions like BlogHer (that's how I intend to budget, anyway!) and just keep chugging right along.

I'm very excited by this new opportunity, and we can see where it goes together, okay? I welcome your comments. And, just so you know, this is my FIRST offical PayPerPost post!


Cool Moms Rule! is in full compliance of the new FTC rules concerning Bloggers. I disclose on all posts where a product was received for free and/or if there was any kind of financial compensation involved.