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, 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."


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.