Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Freeze! It's the Police!

Remember the very first concert you ever went to? Remember how excited you were, and how you had butterflies in your stomach, and how you kept checking the stage just in case the band came out early for a sound check, and how you worried about the view from your (usually nosebleed level) seat?

Remember how it didn't matter where you were seated, because as soon as they started playing, you jumped to your feet and started singing along?

I sure do. And especially now, because the very first band I ever saw in concert, when I was still a kid, was The Police. My sister had to drive me, I was so young. That moment in time, for me, still burns brightly in my memory.

So naturally I am fired up to find out they're releasing a brand new police cd.

For any of you too young to remember (or lying about your age), The Police existed long before Sting became a rock idol in his own right, and they were fantastic. Maybe you don't remember all the great hits they had, but don't worry they've got them all here in this set, to jog your memory. Honestly, I had forgotten a couple myself.

Check out the playlist for the police cd below, which is actually two discs full of classics (and some of my comments):

Disc One
Fallout, Can't Stand Losing You, Next to You, Roxanne--if you haven't yelled this at the top of your lungs at least once, you've never heard the song, it's just that addicting--Truth Hits Everybody, Hole in My Life, So Lonely, Message in a Bottle, Reggatta de Blanc, Bring on the Night, Walking on the Moon, Don't Stand So Close to Me --this song is my personal favorite. I think every young girl who heard it wished she was as compelling as the schoolgirl tormenting her professor in the song--Driven to Tears, Canary in a Coalmine.

Disc Two starts off with Do Do Do de da da Da -- you WILL find yourself singing along with the chorus, you just can't NOT do it--Voices Inside My Head, Invisible Sun, Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic --another one that made it way up the charts, really catchy and romantic--Spirits in the Material World, Demolition Man, Every Breath You Take--what's more romantic and sensual by a man enchanted by every move of the woman he loves? A heartbreaker of a song--Synchronicity I, Wrapped Around Your Finger--looking through these songs, especially my favorites, I think I'm seeing a theme: lovelorn Sting singing about the object of his affections. Just makes you want to be the woman who has Sting so enamored, doesn't it?--Walking in Your Footsteps, Synchronicity II, King of Pain--oh no, love's turned darker now--Murder by Numbers, and finally Tea in the Sahara.

I don't think there's a single song missing from this set out of my own personal favorites.

Any of you other Moms out there who went to see them in concert when you were a girl? Come on, 'fess up! I want to hear from you. Write me a comment about why the Police rocked the house.

What's Coming Up?

We have some exciting events coming up here on Cool Moms Rule!

More giveaways!

Remember the NetJet Online Gaming System from Hasbro and Tiger Electronics that Viv recently reviewed here on Cool Moms Rule? That's right, we're GIVING IT AWAY, complete with extra game keys for Kart Racers and Paintball! Keep your eyes peeled for details on how to enter.

We will have a special, targeted giveaway to go along with an exciting new event here on Cool Moms Rule--the creatix of the goddess.com.au website and author of Selena's Crystal Balls, a Magical Journey Through the Chakras, Anita Ryan-Revel will be stopping by on June 22nd! In addition to our giveaway of fun products from the Susie Dreamer line, Anita will be answering questions on what inspires her writing and her life. She'll bring with her some fun, interactive content for Cool Moms to enjoy! Check out the status of Anita's Virtual Book Tour here.

More reviews!

If you've been enjoying our product reviews, don't worry, there are more on the way! Soon we will have a link on the homepage which will take you to each of our reviews by product name, making it even easier for you to access the information you need before you go out shopping.

More New Content!

We will also be adding a new Hot Topics area to Cool Moms Rule, where you can post (anonymously, if you like!) your toughest parenting questions or your biggest concerns about life today. Cool Moms will offer their best advice (one of their suggestions is sure to work for you) and comments on your topics.

And finally, our editor, Viv, will be bringing back some fantastic photos from her latest vacation--Alaska! You might recall her last trip took her to Maui, so she has really been all over this year.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Love Thursday--School's Out

Yesterday, my boys had their last day of school for the year. I am so happy and excited for them both that my heart just swells with pride! Both of them did very well this year.

The Rhino got straight 'A's for the first time ever and won an award from the President. Yes, I do mean the actual President of the United States President! He has a processing problem and was able to go from struggling to excelling, and his teachers submitted his name because they thought he should be recognized. He has been, in a lot of ways, The Little Train That Could. Next year, he will start middle school. He had to say good-bye to the middle school he has gone to for the last seven years, from kindergarten to sixth grade, but he has his "BFF"s phone numbers and even a girl he kinda likes (I am sworn to secrecy and can't say any more than that!).

The Owl is so mature now that it's like talking to another adult when I have a conversation with him (except sometimes zombies come up during the discussion). He is taking on a challenging program of study in high school, which he starts in the Fall, that will require him to do extra homework this summer, as well as working on a "soccerbot" robotics program, and he hasn't complained a bit. He says he's looking forward to the challenge! It's hard for me to believe that he is entering high school in August!

I sit back and I see all that they have accomplished, and know they have their futures ahead of them, and that their lives are bright with promise, and I am so very thankful. I know how fortunate I am, and I know their Dad deserves much of the credit for the wonderful young men they are becoming, but I can't help feeling that somewhere along the way I must have done something right, too! Mostly, I just feel really lucky to be experiencing all this with them.

Congratulations, boys. I'm SO proud of you!

Monday, May 21, 2007

NETJET Review! Online Game System for Tweens

Today, Cool Moms out there, I have a fantastic product review for you! The NetJet Online Game System, designed for tweens, manufactured by Hasbro (Tiger Electronics) is only available online right now, will be hitting your store's shelves by the Fall, and you are seeing it reviewed here FIRST on Cool Moms Rule!

First, let me explain a little about what the NetJet unit is:

It IS a system which lets your kids play all kinds of fun games, including Kool Kart Racers and Mission Paintball, right on your computer, without allowing them access to anything age-inappropriate, in one self-contained unit.

What the NetJet unit is NOT:

It is NOT a big game console, with an expensive price tag and wires and peripherals to hook up.

I had the opportunity to try out the NetJet Online Gaming System along with my kids, and here's my take:

The NetJet unit consists of a controller unit with an attached USB connector. It comes vacuum-packed with a small "key", the size of a USB drive or a regular key ring (it even comes with a cute key ring attached to it!).

Now, I decided to take on this review as if I were not too computer savvy. And, to make it even more challenging, I didn't even read the instructions first, just to see how intuitive this system is.

First, I opened up the vacuum packaging. (This was, by far, the hardest part of the review. I would go on about the evils of vacuum packaging, but that's fodder for another blog post.)

I took out the controller, looked at the USB connector, looked at my desktop computer's ports, found the one that the USB connector fit into, and plugged it in. Ta DA!

Immediately, on the bottom of my screen, I see "Found New Hardware: NetJet." I didn't have to do a thing; Windows recognized the controller right off. (This unit is compatible with Windows 2000 and later operating systems, and I have Windows XP on my desktop).

A nice welcome message tells me to insert my key. I pick up the cute keycode unit, look at the controller, slip it right in. There's only one place that it can go, so this is no biggie.

Now the screen shows me all kinds of game choices in the form of pics and descriptions. Along with my NetJet comes 30 minutes of free play for any of the games I view on my screen.

I decide to go with Mission Paintball, mostly because this is what I think my boys would choose.

The first time I play, it takes 5 minutes to download the demo for Mission Paintball. After that, if I want to play again, I don't have to wait.

I can pick from two characters, a boy and a girl. I, naturally, choose the girl.

The object of the game is to shoot targets with my paintballs. Amusingly, the targets are cardboard cutouts of the boy I didn't choose as my player. Again, I go into this without reading the instructions, and I have no problem at all.

I play this game three times, and I have to tell you, it's fun!

The first time, I barely got half the targets knocked down. I had to search for them--my character is in a big warehouse, with four floors and big crates, and the targets are scattered and hidden all over. Plus, it takes 3 shots with my paintball gun to knock out the target (it's easy to tell if the target is "downed", since it turns the neon green of my paintballs).

I also have four paintball "grenades", which I discover accidentally when I run out of primary ammo. I love the grenades. They fly up in an arc and when they hit, SPLAT! There's paint all over. I can also refill my paintball gun with other paintball ammo containers that are hidden in the level.

The second round, I almost made it. The third time, I only had ONE target left when time for the round ran out. I couldn't find it! I found the controller pretty easy to use, though it wasn't quite as responsive as either a Playstation or Xbox controller. Still, the speed of the response was fine for the game--I could have made it through if I had found that last pesky target!

My 13 year-old, who is a bit of a game guru, played the game next. Naturally, after a practice run, he was able to find all the targets and knock them out in seconds. The games are designed for kids 8 and up, especially for tweens, so he is actually a little old for this system.

My newly-12-year-old boy enjoyed playing the system and was eventually able to find all the targets, just barely running out of time before he could down them all.

We all had several tries on just the sample demo keycode unit that came with the controller.

We didn't have to stop there, though. You can buy extra keys for particular games that you tried with the demo and liked. Also, more games will be forthcoming.

When you are all done playing with the NetJet system, all you have do is unplug the unit from the USB port.

Here's my final scores for the NetJet Online Gaming System:

The NetJet unit retails (online only right now, but again you will be able to purchase these from your local stores where Hasbro products are sold in the Fall) for just 24.99. Remember, that includes the demo key, that lets you try out the games for 30 minutes. I give the unit an A+ for ease of connection and value for your money.

Although my kids and I had no trouble playing, we are pretty game-savvy, and the controls were not as quick as the higher-priced game controllers out there. Response times lagged. I'm going to give the controls an A- for this reason.

As a Mom who has shelled out lots of cash over the years for games that my kids became bored with after only a few minutes, I especially appreciated the "try it before you buy it" demo keycode that comes with the original unit, as well as the fact that additional keycode units are only 14.99. When you add that cost into the initial unit's cost, that's still only $39.98 total. So, for overall value and affordability, I'm giving the system an A+.

Lastly, as far as content, I would give the NetJet Online Gaming System an A+, for providing games that are appropriate in content for kids ages 8-12.

The NetJet Online Gaming System is: highly recommended.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Maui's Beachfront Beauties

You all may remember that recently I went on vacation to the beautiful Hawaiian island of Maui for the Engineer's 40th birthday. Ever since I came back, I've had people from all over ask me questions about Maui, especially how I decided where to stay.

First of all, Maui is beautiful, and it is definitely a family-friendly place. You can take your kids here and they will never get bored, there is just too much to do! Especially if you do like I did, and stay at a place on the beach. If we ever go back (and we just might, because the kids kept saying how "awesome" everything was), I just can't see not staying somewhere on the water. The astmosphere is so relaxed when you are staying right on the beach. The kids can snorkel, hunt for shells, bury Mom and Dad in the sand, dig huge holes (my boys love to do this, and on at least one occasion startled a crab!) and of course make huge sandcastles. During the whale-watching season from December to April, you can sometimes even see the humpback whales spout out in the ocean, right from the beach! We were so delighted by this that we spent most evenings on a bench right outside our rental, overlooking the beach, pointing out the occasional fin, flipper or plume of salty water.

Then, once the kids are all tuckered out, you and your husband can watch the sunset over the water. I don't think there is anywhere more romantic than the Hawaiian islands. I live in Florida, and I remember the first time I went thinking, "how different could it be?" Well, for one thing, we don't see humpback whales in Florida! But even when the whale season is over, there's plenty more. We don't have waterfalls, or the same tropical fish they do, or a mountain range rising up over the water from another nearby island, like Lanai or Molokai. And the luaus are incredible! I ate so much I was stuffed!

What's great about the place we stayed while we were in Maui, as well as the other properties available through the online resources like Maui beachfront vacation homes , is that they have really embraced the concept of "ecotourism." They understand that families like yours and mine go to Maui to enjoy the natural beauty, and we don't want to spoil it for future generations, like our children's children. They realize that their business depends on working with nature in environmentally friendly business practices. This makes sound sense: people want to come to Maui for its unspoiled beauty. By helping to keep the island unspoiled, they are actually also doing what's best for business.

So, anyway, when I went to Maui, rather than staying at just any old hotel, I rented a beachfront property for the week. It felt like home; it had a kitchenette and a dining room table where all four of us could sit down to eat breakfast in the morning. We could step outside and enjoy the beauty of the beach. And we knew that, if we decided to come back again some day, this beautiful island would still be there for us to enjoy, virtually unchanged.

Have you been waiting for this?!

"Hey, Viv, what's the next product you are going to review?"

Well, I'm so glad you asked!

My next review is coming up soon, and I'm really excited about this one. I'll be posting my take on a brand new safe, self-contained online game system designed just for tweens! And here's the exciting part: all of you Cool Moms will get a look at this baby before it even comes out on the shelves! See? I wasn't kidding when I told you it was brand new!

It's called NetJet, and you will all be familiar with the group putting it out: Hasbro!

Only Cool Moms Rule has this exclusive review. And you'll be reading my personal take on the NetJet this Monday, May 21st!

You won't want to miss this one, so make sure you drop by!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

We All Matter

I'm thinking of going back to school to get my MBA, and one of the problems I'm having is figuring out where I could fit into the workforce after all this time as a SAHM. I've seriously been considering an online university because the busy demands of raising two boys mean I really need a flexible program, but I've been nervous about committing to actually doing it.

Here's why: I feel like I have a lot to offer an employer when I do get back in the flow, just from having been a Mom: organizational skills, focus, and the flexibility and resourcefulness to change things up when I need to. But the big question is: will employers see that in me? And in this day and age, does anyone really understand the individual in the whole huge corporate complex?

So when I read this, I felt encouraged.

A woman named Sara Orem, a PhD and a faculty member over at Capella University, which is an accredited, completely online university (yay!), has
co-written a book entitled, "Appreciative Coaching: A Positive Process for Change". And she might have been talking just to me.

This Sara Orem, in addition to her spot on the faculty at Capella University's School of Business and Technology, has her own coaching firm. She's also given presentations in Appreciative Inquiry at both The NODA (National Organization Development Network) and the International Coach Federation conferences that meet each year. So, she's an expert in her field, and she obviously knows what she is talking about in her book.

And just what does she have to say in her book? Well, in a nutshell, it boils down to this: people who feel they are achieving something, who have specific ideals they want to meet and a plan for getting there--these people flourish in the workforce. And if a supervisor can motivate his workers to think and act in these ways, the corporation will flourish, too.

Sounds like common sense, doesn't it? But what the book does is really explain how these managers and supervisors can elicit these behaviors from their employees.

The book is broken down into four simple sections: Discovery, Dream, Design and Destiny. It's designed to instruct pretty much anyone who supervises others how to inspire their workers and give them a sense of empowerment in the workforce.

So, when the corporate sector understands that we are all people with our own hopes, dreams and strengths, and then encourages us to develop them, the corporations are successful. It's a completely win-win situation.

To me, it's just like parenting: you encourage your children to hope, dream and plan, and you will be rewarded with successful children!

As you can see, I'm already sold on this concept.

How about you?

Here's some info on the (totally online!) Capella University:

Accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.
Member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).
Capella currently offers 82 graduate and undergraduate specializations and 16 certificate programs.
For more information, please visit Capella.edu or call 1-888-CAPELLA (227-3552).

(This blog post is based on information provided by Blogitive. For more information, please visit Blogitive.com)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

This old Mom is loving The Age Project right now!

If you haven't checked out any of my blogroll links, this button above is from The Age Project, and it has me smiling today. I just passed---ugh--41 in April, and according to the folks over there, I look 30! I choose to accept that reality as preferable to my own.

Here's how The Age Project works (this isn't a sponsored post, it's just a cool site!): You make an account with the old username and password drill, and then you post a pic of yourself. I deliberately chose one that wasn't especially flattering, one where I had my hair pulled back messily and no makeup. That's a very scary thing to do, post a pic of yourself, because what happens next is people look at that pic and try to guess how old you are. I imagine if you are 18 and someone guesses 21, you actually feel pretty good ("Hey, now I won't get carded!"). And I am feeling good today as a result of my rating. But it could just as easily go the other way, and people could think I am fifty or something, so that's why it's scary.

And liberating. Go do it!

Monday, May 14, 2007


One of my favorite places to visit via my nifty Google Reader is Parenthacks. In fact, I have just added them to the Blogroll (doh! Don't know why I didn't think of it before!).

And when I saw this product, the Fortamajig, from TheHappyKidCompany.com, reviewed on Parenthacks, I wanted to show it to you all, for two reasons.

First, because I love it, and I know my boys would love it, and I would have loved it when I was a girl and made forts out of old blankets tossed over our picnic table in the back yard.

And secondly because it is a little more expensive than I would like (I'm not blaming the company, I'm just admitting I am cheap). Now, you all know that I do product reviews here of items I myself have personally tried so I can give you the head's up on whether or not they are worth your time and money. But I haven't been able to get this baby and try it out yet.

So if any of you own the Fortamajig, please comment below (you can do it anonymously, and without registering--we're all friends here at Cool Moms Rule!). I want to know: is it worth the money? Or do you think you could rig something up cheaper (including all the required velcro)?

Please get back to me on this. I am seriously waffling over it!
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I Love Being A Mom!

I love it every day, not just Mother's Day. Even on those days when I get irritable or short-tempered, have cabin fever from tending a sick child or have to drive to soccer practice yet again.

But I have to admit I especially loved it yesterday, on Mother's Day.

My boys took good care of me yesterday.

The Owl made me a wonderful card ('from the 'superior son'--sibling rivalry never dies!), brimming with smiling faces and with these sweet words inside: "you always try to make things easier for us."

And the Rhino, on his delightful home-made card, had not one but several reasons why "you are a wonderful Mom"--I help him with his homework and projects, take care of the house, and--I have it in writing!--"you really are a cool Mom!"

Of course, he also had to take a stab at his older brother, labelling himself, 'the better son than' the Owl.

We didn't go out to eat or do anything particularly special, except I had breakfast in bed (pancakes! Yum!) and I requested cheeseburgers on the grill from the Engineer.

And then he gave me his card, "for the Mother of my children." And I was especially touched, because the Engineer had spent ages in the Hallmark store finding me a card that DIDN'T have silly matching-couplet rhymes that could be sung in tune with the "Yellow Rose of Texas." Instead, he found a nice, simple card that told me what I already knew:

I am loved.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Just in Time for Mother's Day: FREE Bejeweled for Moms!

Right now, you can get PopCap Games classic, original Bejeweled game absolutely FREE for Mom! All you have to do is click "BUY NOW" on the Bejeweled Game Page, and enter in the coupon code: "FREE4MOMS."
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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Cool Moms Save 15% Over at Tiny Buzz!

The other day, BreeAnne over at Tiny Buzz sent me a buzz (har har) the other day about her clothes line (the kind you sell, not the kind in the backyard. I am cursed with bad puns today), and I went over and checked it out.

Color me impressed.

IMHO, Tiny Buzz kid's and baby clothes are far more appealing than the usual baby onesies and such. Instead of teddy bears, cows or kittens, they have pithy, timely messages about doing the right thing ("Drive a Hybrid") and current events ("War is Poop") that are right on target!

So, naturally, I let BreeAnne know, and she responded by doing the right thing in the form of 15% off YOUR ENTIRE ORDER over at TinyBuzz for Cool Moms Rule readers! And just in time for Mother's Day!

So browse through the blog, read all my stuff, and then head on over to Tiny Buzz and get some hip baby gear, using this exclusive Cool Moms Rule 15% off coupon code: CMR15.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

The FDA Gives a Preliminary OK to Cloning, and the Controversy is On!

I'm a member of a fantastic Mom's community, and recently another member expressed her concern over something the FDA said about cloning livestock. In a preliminary finding, the FDA could find no reason why cloned livestock would pose a health threat to consumers: "Currently, the FDA has only issued preliminary approval. This means that final approval is still months away, and cloned food products wouldn't likely reach your supermarket until 2008..." (SixWise.com)

Even so, the Moms who read about this idea were completely freaked out by it. One Mother felt that consumers needed to support farmers more, and ignore the scientists. Most were just grossed out by the concept of possibly eating, or serving their kids, cloned meat. On the surface, I can understand why--the term "clone" has such a negative connotation--but I am a stickler for the facts, contradictory by nature, stubborn as all get out, and I also doubt just about everything I read unless I personally check it out every which way from every imaginable source. See? I am really THAT stubborn (just one of many character flaws, I know) .

So, anyway, I did some research of my own, and here's what I found out.

First, the source quoted above, SixWise.com, suggested that the FDA ignored scientists and consumers. Not so; read on. The FDA invited consumers as well as scientists to offer up commentary, including the National Academy of Sciences--not just the two major cloning corporations--and could find no factual basis to conclude NOT to allow cloning. They did make an exception in the case of sheep, where they wanted to do more study.

Secondly, this isn't all about the scientists. Farmers are the ones who WANT the cloning. The process of cloning does not involve hormone-enhanced livestock, which I personally do believe presents a threat (just from taking hormones myself, I can see they are powerful!). I can understand that when we hear "clone" we think "mad scientists" or something, but really this is something the agricultural community has been gunning for.

Cloning livestock is done like this: a cell is taken, usually in a regular skin biopsy, from a male donor, say a sheep. The cell and the egg from a mother sheep are fused together, EXCEPT that the mother's genetic markers are first removed from the egg, so that the male donor will be the only one donating DNA. In other words, so the baby sheep will be an exact replica of Dad. The embryo is implanted in the Mom sheep, who serves like a surrogate Mom, and evenutally the baby sheep is born in the usual way, only identical to Dad. It is NOT created on some weird Frankenstein slab. It doesn't have two heads, or whatever.

Why even bother with all this? Animals are chosen to be cloned because they are the BEST ones, and the farmers want the best livestock to be reproduced because it is best for the business. Reproducing the best livestock means less chance of things like mad cow disease, etc. However, and this is important: it's REALLY expensive to clone an animal. So clones are not going to be popping up all over, "Because clones will be used primarily for breeding, almost all of the food that comes from the cloning process is expected to be from sexually-reproduced offspring and descendents of clones, and not the clones themselves." (That's from the FDA's website, which, by the way, mentions preliminary findings but not a "ruling".) Generally speaking, animals that have genetic defects usually can't reproduce, so "sexually reproduced offspring" would be a safe bet, in my mind.

Oh, and here's something else I didn't know. Remember Dolly, the cloned sheep that started all this cloning debate? She died, as did a number of other sheep in the same flock, of cancer, NOT as a result of the cloning process.

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Friday, May 4, 2007


Yes, we have two winners! How did this happen? Some of you signed up for the entire Playskool Baby Care package I am giving away, while others mentioned only one thing (like the sippy cup, or the teething ring). So, I entered ALL the names in for the drawing. If you wanted one thing specifically, I wrote that under your name. I decided that I would pick names until the items were given away. If the first Mom picked wanted everything, she would get them all. If the first Mom indicated just one thing, I would go on.

So, the winners ARE (drum roll, please):

AydenzMoma--Gel-Filled Soothing Teething Ring
Momzilla--Easy-Grip Serving Bowl set and Sippy Cup!

Congratulations from Cool Moms Rule!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

PLAYSKOOL Baby Care FREE & Ice Cream for the Kids!

Post a comment on Cool Moms Rule and you can win PLAYSKOOL Baby Care products! My boys, as you know if you are a regular reader, are too old to use these items I tested and reviewed. I'd sure like a new Mom who can use them to win them! And yes, I will even pick up the cost for postage. Just post a comment on this post, or the Playskool review post before it, and you can WIN! (You DON'T have to register on Blogger to post a comment on Cool Moms Rule.) I'll pick a winner and let you all know on Friday.

Here's another great deal: Tonight only, May 2nd, between 5 and 10 pm, Baskin Robbins are selling ice cream cones for...31 cents! This is a special Baskin Robbins promotion and it is good at most of the Baskin Robbins ice-cream parlours (even the ones with Dunkin' Donuts in them). Check out your local Baskin Robbins to see if they are participating!

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Tuesday, May 1, 2007


I was recently invited to review this exclusive new line of PLAYSKOOL Baby Care items, which will only be available at your local CVS Pharmacies. As you know, we only review what we personally have tried, so I put the sample items I received through their paces, and here's what I found:

First, I thought about the product placement. Placing these products in local CVS stores--How will this work out for Moms?

Now, I don't know about you, but I remember many trips to the pharmacy for my children (who always seemed to get sick late on a Friday night, at the beginning of a long weekend). And I have noticed that lately, there seems to be a pharmacy at every corner. Now, I'm all for the convenience of the huge mega-store when I have a really varied list of products to get---say, windshield wiper blades, toilet paper and grapefruit---but for getting in and out in a hurry, I far prefer my local little pharmacies. Even now, with my kids getting older, I frequently have to pick-up Rx's, and I am not going to navigate my way through the mega-parking lot and push my way through the mega-crowds and wait in the mega-lines if I can avoid it. So, in reviewing the placement, I think that CVS Pharmacies, which are all around my neighborhood, seem perfectly convenient.

Now, to the products themselves:

The first item I looked over was the PLAYSKOOL Insulated Flip Top Cup, which I took one look at and loved! I realize that isn't an in-depth review for you, so I'll explain why I had such a positive initial response. What I immediately loved about this cup was the flip-top. The unique flip-top allows Moms to close the cup tightly by sliding the flip-top over to one side, or, by slipping it to the other side, allows a soft, flexible straw to pop right up for your child to sip from. First of all, I just love the aesthetics of the soft straw popping out of the cup--it's really inviting, even to me. And it is better for smaller children to drink from the soft straw, which is gentler on soft gums and new teeth, then those hard sippy cups. Also, I can just picture how much easier this cup is going to be to clean, just by running a little soapy water through it, as opposed to those hard plastic sippers that end up with bite marks distorting the shape of them from your little one holding the cup between his/her brand new baby teeth. And when the flip-top is closed, the cup doesn't spill, unlike most sippy cups I have run into. As an added bonus, I discovered with a little more inspection that the cup is also insulated to keep cool drinks cool, which is a good thing in sunny Florida where I live, and the cute GLOWORM holding the balloons on the sides of the cup will be familiar to little ones who own the soft cuddly light-up toy.
RATING for the INSULATED FLIP-TOP CUP (9 oz, 4.99)---A+ love the soft straw and locking flip-top cap.

Next up is the PLAYSKOOL Easy Grip Bowl and Serving Spoon. Now, I had high hopes for this duo, because the spoon's tip is supposed to change color if the food is too hot for your baby to eat. Well, I ran the spoon under the hottest water I could find, submerged it in hot water, turned it upside down and let the hot water simply pour down on the little sensor in the spoon's tip, and I have to admit that I couldn't get that thing to change color! So that was a bit disappointing for me. Maybe the color change was so slight I couldn't detect it, but I can't help but think that if your spoon has this feature, Moms want to be able to see the color change with no if, ands or buts, so they know for sure. I did like the grips on the spoon, which fit perfectly for me and for my husband--significant because I am left-handed and he is right-handed, and our hands are different sizes. The same was true of the gripper pad on the Easy Grip Bowl, which is designed for left- and right-handers. You just slip your thumb through the hole and hold on with the soft gripper pad. I really liked the way this set worked for the most part. The bowl is sectioned, with an automatic steam vent, and can go from refrigerator to microwave to baby. The bowl's a good size, generous for baby feeding so I think it can make that transition into toddler easily, and the spoon has soft edges for baby's mouth.
RATING for the EASY GRIP SERVING BOWL---A+. RATING for the EASY GRIP SPOON---C, because the sensor didn't change color with heat (the set, 4.99).

COTTONY CLOTHS---Just buy them! Really, they are that good! These baby wipes can be used for a multiple of house-keeping tasks, cleaning up after spills, wiping hands on trips where the bathrooms are iffy on cleanliness--the list goes on and on. My boys are 12 and almost 14, and I still keep travel packs of baby wipes around the house. And these cottony cloths, which are actually enhanced with real cotton, really are durable. I wiped off all my kitchen counters with just one, and this is AFTER the Rhino's birthday ice-cream cake started (oh no!) melting through the box. They come in soft packs rather than big, bulky plastic boxes, go with you anywhere, and are hypoallergenic and alcohol free. RATING for the (16 cloths, 1.99; 80 cloths, 3.29, all the way up to 240 cloths in 3 80-cloth packs for 7.49) COTTONY CLOTHS--A+ If the alphabet went higher, so would the rating! Love them!

The last item I am reviewing will certainly be familiar to most Moms already, as it is a teething toy, the PLAYSKOOL Teething Keys. This teething key ring is specially designed to go in the freezer, as it is filled with gel which, when cooled, should remain soft to "safely soothe sore gums." Also the top and bottom of each key in the ring are offset with texture to assist in the "eruption of teeth." What I understand from this is that, basically, baby has something to run his/her gums along that will help to, basically, push the gums out of the way of the teeth coming in. Now, I have always been a big fan of cool, soothing substances for babies that are teething. And we all know that giving a baby some kind of popsicle is just, well, messier than we want to deal with (although we could wipe up the mess with cottony wipes! yay!). So this seems like a great idea on the surface. I do have a problem though, in that the gel, which is supposed to remain soft---well, I guess it does. If you really work the keys, they are pliable. The thing is, the plastic of the keys holding the gel inside them is pretty hard. Even when the keys weren't cold, they weren't all that soft. So, yes, the gel doesn't freeze, but I think that "soft" is a bit of an over-statement. That being said, these are an inexpensive teething toy, nice and bright, that will certainly appeal to your baby and, I believe, soothe little gums, as the keys do stay cool for a nice long time once they are out of the freezer.
RATING for the THE PLAYSKOOL TEETHING KEYS (3.99)---B Not all that soft, but cool, bright and fun.

Overall, I would give the PLAYSKOOL BABY CARE products a B+ rating, for really making an effort to provide attractive, sensible, and very useful baby care items at convenient locations and reasonable prices (and go out and get those cottony cloths, Moms!).

I also want to take a moment to thank Child's Play Communications, who provided the samples for Cool Moms Rule! to test in this review, with no strings attached.
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.