Thursday, August 28, 2008

Get Clean, Get Green, Smell Keen

I walked into my Walmart today, which is my second-favorite place to grocery shop (my first is Publix, even though they are a little more expensive, because they are really great to their employees and the stores always seem cleaner, somehow), and as I came through the door, right away I saw they had the whole Clorox Green Works line-up right there, showcased, and it made me happy.

Now, I know you are thinking, "Wow, Viv, you are really losing it if cleaning products make you happy." And you may be right when you think I am losing it, but this time, I'm also actually making a lot of sense, too, and here's why:

The Clorox Green Works stuff is amazing.

The folks at MomCentral sent me out some Clorox Green Works dishwashing soap to try, and honestly I was happy to check it out, but I am not exactly the biggest fan of hand-washing dishes, if you know what I mean. Me and the dishwasher, we have this bond, in that it does all the work and all I have to do is push a button.

But of course I wanted to give the nice folks at Clorox my best effort for this review, so I actually got out the old dishcloth and washed some dishes by hand. And you know what? This dishwashing soap has such a delicious scent, you practically want to dab some behind your ears. Really. it's very fragrant, in a cool, fresh way. Mine is just the "original" scent, but to me it smells very much like lemongrass (no, I am not a gardener, but I used to have lemongrass candles, so there!). It's this fragrant citrusy scent that just screams, "These dishes are clean!" at you, which is really nice, because I have to say (and don't tell the dishwasher this), the ones that are machine washed just don't have that same fresh scent to them.

But that's not even the best thing about the Clorox Green Works line, the way it smells. What's great is that they aren't just called green because they LOOK green (though, in point of fact, the dishwashing soap is actually green), but because they are good for the environment.

I know, you hear that all the time, how this company is going green, but Clorox is really doing a great job with this stuff, because the whole line is made of all natural plant-based ingredients like lemon oil (I KNEW it!) and coconuts, which in turn means the soap is biodegradable and not all nasty chemicals getting in your ground water, which as someone stuck in the flood water aftermath of Tropical Storm Fay I am coming to appreciate is pretty darned important these days.

And that's not all that makes the Clorox Green Works line truly green. The EPA has allowed Clorox to put their logo on the dish soap for using environmentally friendly chemistry, and the Sierra Club's logo is on all the Clorox Green Works products as a testament to Clorox's conservation efforts for clean air and water, which is also beneficial to wildlife.

So you can feel good about going green, go right ahead and pat yourself on the back, while enjoying that fabulous Clorox Green Works Original lemongrass scent. Or, if you prefer, Tangerine, Water Lily, Free & Clear or Simply Lemon, the other delicious fragrances.

You know, just thinking about all those scents? I could SO go for a fruit plate right now! ; )

Monday, August 25, 2008

Smiles Across Miles Really Delivers!

Ever made a trip to the local stationery store, looking for the perfect way to send photos of your family, only to come up empty-handed? Are the "designs" too generic and impersonal for the message you want to send?

Why settle for the ordinary, when you could have the extraordinary, designs that don't just serve as placeholders for your photos but actually complement, maybe even enhance them? Why not opt for professional, studio quality photo cards?

Too expensive, you say? Not if you go to Smile Across Miles for your cards.

What's Smiles Across Miles? It's a delightful service providing professional, studio quality layouts for your home photos, and it's the brain-child of a SAHM of three who took her interest in photography to the next level and made her passion her profession.

Kerry, the Mom behind Smiles Across Miles, found that, traditionally, custom photo greeting cards were either too expensive or required a huge minimum order, which made them impractical for budget-minded families (and who isn't budget conscious these days. And the less-expensive generic cards for inserting your own photos were typically--well--just that, generic. So, since she enjoyed sending her family pictures of her kids, like most Moms, but didn't want to break the bank or settle for less, she decided to try her hand at making her own.

And let me tell you, Smiles Across Miles has some lovely designs! From birth announcements to wedding invitations, this site has you covered. There's even a special "print your own" section for those of you with high-quality printers. You can pay a set rate for one of Kerry's designs and receive a high-resolution image, which you can then use as often as you like with your own photos, which is great for those times when you DO need a lot of cards printed (and surprisingly economical).

If you opt to have Kerry take your image in hand, though, and print up your photo cards for you, you'll find her fees very reasonable for that as well--some of her designs run as little as .90 a card, less than the cost of a regular, non-photo greeting card at your local supermarket!

In fact, a friend of ours from high school just had his first child, an adorable little girl, and I'm considering gifting him with a custom layout for those all-important birth announcements he'll be needing.

And here's a tip: right now, until the end of the month, if you use the code NOSHIP at checkout, shipping is free! So don't waste any time. Give Smiles Across Miles a try!

Friday, August 22, 2008

RuMe Lunch Bags Even Please the Tweens

Just look at these images. Aren't these bags gorgeous?! Seems almost wasteful to give these to your kids, doesn't it?

But that's okay, because they're not wasteful at all. RuMe mini bags, like those pictured, are reusable, not to mention *machine* washable! They are really eco-friendly.

And they can hold up to 30 lbs, which is just enough for my growing boys (the Rhino is taller than ME now!). ;) They tell me that means that each bag could hold 40 tennis balls (though why they chose tennis balls I don't know. Makes you wonder what the folks are doing over there at RuME, doesn't it?).

But, to get to my point, it isn't the cool colors and prints or the re-usability or even the machine washability (I just made that word up) that makes the RuMe bags so cool.

It's this: even though they hold so much, RuMe mini bags fold down to the size of a *business card."

Yes, really! They get that tiny.

RuMe bags sent me a few samples (which is fantastic, because I was looking for lunch bags my tween and teen would think were "cool" enough to actually use), and these things really do roll down to the size of a business card. They even have velcro fasteners to hold them closed when they are full, which also keep them tidy and tiny when they're folded up and empty.

These bags are, in a word, perfect for us around the Cool Mom household! I really was at my wits' end, because the new school year is starting, and The Rhino doesn't want to take his backpack into lunch, but he is now too cool (and too hungry) to carry his lunch in a little paper bag or a lunch box. And I couldn't find a solution that would fit the bill. Most lunch bags were too small and yet too bulky to carry around with all of his other stuff.

But now, with the RuMe mini bag, we have the perfect solution. We can fit it into his backpack (it holds a lot but is not bulky at all), and he can just then fold it up and slip it back into his pocket when he's done eating lunch.

I can recommend the RuMe bags to you without any reservations whatsoever, and I wanted to make sure you knew that they have LOTS of different patterns and colors, suitable for boys AND girls.

You can check out the RuMe mini bags here!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Dangerous Days of Daniel X

As I sit in the epicenter of the gusting winds and driving rain of Tropical Storm Fay, it seems only fitting that I should be reviewing James Patterson's latest title, The Dangerous Days of Daniel X.

Written especially for the teen market, this rich adventure novel is the first in a new series Patterson is writing in an effort to reach out to a difficult subset, people who normally classify themselves as "non-readers, " those who don't usually even pick up a novel, let alone finish it.

A subset which most Moms will immediately recognize simply as, "boys."

As a father of a ten-year-old boy himself, Patterson wanted to write a work that would be engaging to boys who may normally consider reading, "boring" or "no fun." So the author amped up the excitement factor in The Dangerous Days of Daniel X. Action-packed and adrenaline-filled, this adventure novel reads more like an action-hero movie, so hot on the screens these days (just look at the box-office success of Ironman and The Dark Knight), than a novel, and as such will surely appeal to young boys, who spend so much of their time wishing they had super-powers themselves and creating imaginary matches in their heads ("Who would win if Ironman went up against the Incredible Hulk in a fight?*").

As many of us fans know, Patterson is also the author of the incredibly popular Maximum Ride teen series, which, while geared towards teenagers, I found hard to put down myself. He's already shown himself capable of appealing to that hard-to-reach teen audience. His newest protagonist, Daniel X, is even more likely to appeal to boys, who will identify with his sense of estrangement from others his age (something all kids go through as they grow up and find their own identities), while sympathizing with his self-imposed mission: to hunt down the assassin who brutally murdered his parents. Armed only with "The List," and the friends he has, ahem, "made," Daniel realizes that unless he finds his parents' killer, there is much more at stake than his own need for revenge: the Earth itself faces destruction.

Despite the very mature subject matter (an orphaned son facing his future after his parents are ripped from his life in the most violent way imaginable), my youngest son, the Rhino, did have one reservation about the book that he wanted me to pass on. As a precocious thirteen-year-old who actually likes to read (for which I am eternally grateful, believe me!), and who thoroughly enjoyed Patterson's earlier Maximum Ride series, he found The Dangerous Days of Daniel X a little too "kiddish" for his taste.

That being said, his interests have always veered towards more adult works (sometimes more than his Mom would like. Think zombies and post-apocalypse horror. *Shudder.*) However, even the Rhino felt that younger boys, especially those in the age range of Patterson's son, ten years old or so, would really enjoy the book.

*Ironman would win. Obviously.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Announcing the First Annual Pet Rescue Raffle!

Cool Moms Rule! and The Cheezits are proud to co-sponsor the first ever Pet Rescue Raffle to benefit the Humane Society of South Brevard. The South Brevard facility is a No-Kill shelter for any animals--not just cats like the Cheezits but dogs, rabbits, ferrets, you name it--that need a home.

As a proud pet owner of two rescued kitties from this very shelter, Viv wanted to give something back to all the wonderful volunteers who work so hard to help abandoned, abused and needy animals find loving homes. We hope to make the Pet Rescue Raffle an annual event.

Now, I know our readers, and I know that some of you are ready to donate right now, just because you are animal lovers like me and know this is a great cause. And I love that about all of you. But we have been blessed to find wonderful benefactors for our cause that are donating a fabulous Prize Package that you could win just for donating!

Just look at what our generous sponsors have provided for our Prize Package:

Susan Daffron
has offered us a copy of each of her instructional and insightful books: Happy Hound: Develop a Great Relationship with Your Adopted Dog or Puppy and Happy Tabby: Develop a Great Relationship with Your Adopted Cat or Kitten.

Richardson Publishing
is providing The Puppy Lovers Journal, with what must be the cutest puppies in the world on the cover. You can keep notes, jot down pet appointments, pen your life story or just doodle on the journal's handy lined pages. I so want a puppy now!

From Pure Ayre, the only all-natural, organic odor eliminator product on the market, comes a full-size Pet Odor Eliminating Spray, to keep your home odor-free while keeping your pets safe from harmful toxins or chemicals.

Timothy Glass, author of Just This Side of Heaven, is providing a signed copy of his charming and heartwarming book about his beagle, Penny.

The fantastic team over at Bamboo Pets (which now includes Fat Cat products) are providing us with a bunch of great pet items! They have provided leashes in pink, red and blue (the pink leash has a seatbelt latch connector for keeping you puppy or dog safe in the car), cat AND dog feeding bowls with disposable liners so you don't have to clean your pet's bowl every day (the cat bowl has cute fish on the side and is a double bowl for food and water, not pictured), and a chewy, "big kahuna" dog toy.

Eliza Magazine
has a gift subscription for the winner, and a copy of the women's magazine will be included in the prize package as well!

The lovely Mira Tweti (and yes, it IS pronounced "Tweety"!) of Parrot Press is sending us a copy of her absolutely gorgeous book, Here, There and Everywhere, chronicling the adventures of Sreeeeeeeet the Lorikeet, and an illustrated poster companion set as well.

Barbara Thomas, of Ruby Jane's Retro Fabric and More, who has been owned by not one but two rescued shelter dogs, is generously donating a gorgeous red dog bed and cover.

Dog's Eye View Media is providing us with a copy of each of these great books, which are ideal for kids of all ages (as they say on the site, "from 8 to 108"), and look absolutely adorable: Let's Go Visit Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, and The Night Before a Dogtown Christmas, both signed by the author, Avonelle Kelsey.

And last but not least, rounding out the list, Jeff Marginean charged in heroically at the very last minute, just in time to regale us with his trials and tribulations in My Buddy Butch: Confessions of a New Dog Dad.

JUST IN! Simon and Huey's (whose bakery is so cool they make me want to eat their stuff, even though they are for dogs) is donating some treats to our Prize Package!

JUST IN as of 8/19: Marie Mead, The author of Rabbits: Gentle Hearts, Valiant Spirits - Inspirational Stories of Rescue, Triumph, and Joy, is sending us signed copies of her book for the raffle!

Want to know about our sponsors? Check out the About page.

Whew! That's a HUGE selection of prizes for our raffle winner! But wait, there's even more! We have additional copies of some of the items listed in the prize package, and we'll be giving those out to random donors throughout the raffle! And they will still be eligible to win the Prize Package, too!

So, here's the deal:
Raffle tickets are $2 each, or SIX for $10
. You can donate securely using PayPal, without exposing any of your financial information. We have created a PayPal donation button for single tickets and the special six for $10 offer. But ALREADY, after announcing the raffle last week I have had people ask, "Can I donate $15 (or $20 or $30, etc.) ?" That's how great you all are. So the third donation button on the page lets you pick ANY donation amount you want, and you will still get one raffle ticket FREE for every five you purchase.

As an added bonus, for anyone who donates $50 or more will receive a FREE AD on either The Cheezits or Cool Moms Rule! (your choice) for an entire month!

And it is all for such a good cause!

Donate already!

Single Raffle Ticket:

SIX Raffle Tickets for $10

Any Donation Amount (free ad if $50 or greater!)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Spend the Summer with Suave

Has summer's heat and humidity left you frizzy? Salt water and chlorine dried out your luscious locks? Or does your 'natural' (*wink wink*) color need some help to keep from fading?

Never fear. Suave recently sent me out some great samples, and they've got us ALL covered. Whether you are looking for a sleek look, some intense conditioning, or a little protective care for your colored or processed hair, Suave has shampoos, conditioners and styling products to keep you looking like your best.

And, for a little extra help as we head back into the school year, check out these Summer Hair Care Tips:

Help Your Hair Survive the Summer in Style with Tips & Tricks from Suave® Celebrity Hairstylist Luke O'Connor

Shine Through Summer

Chlorine from the pool can quickly turn hair dry and dull. Look for hair products specially-designed to infuse shine. Also, blow dry hair from roots to ends, making sure you do not ruffle your hair. By doing this, you’ll keep the cuticle of your hair lying flat, thus reflect more light, and producing more shine.
How to get the Shine: Suave Vibrant Shine Shampoo and Conditioner is formulated with silk amino acids to restore shine and luster to dull hair for bright, shimmering strands.
Price/Availability: $1.92 – 2.49 at drugstores, mass merchandisers, and supermarkets nationwide

Don’t Let Your Hair Fall when Temps Rise!

Hot summer weather and humidity can cause your hair to lose its shape. Apply a little mousse to damp hair to add body and help control your style. For added fullness, flip your head over and blow dry the roots. When you flip your head upright, your hair will be at maximum volume.

How to get the Shape: Suave Professionals Extra Hold Mousse helps to lock in style for all-day hold and is great for hair that needs body and control.
Price/Availability: $1.92 – 2.49 at drugstores, mass merchandisers, and supermarkets nationwide

Hold That Look

Heat and humidity can be tough to battle, and here’s where the right hairspray comes to the rescue. To keep a soft, full, long lasting look, use an extra hold hairspray and keep the can 8-10 inches away from your head while spraying all over. This allows the fine mist of spray to penetrate the roots and hold the hair in place.

How to get the Hold: Suave Professionals Extra Hold Hairspray helps to lock in style for all-day hold and helps to control fly-aways.
Price/Availability: $1.92 – 2.49 at drugstores, mass merchandisers, and supermarkets nationwide

Make Summer Styling Smooth Sailing

Frizzies and fly-aways suddenly appear during the summer months with humidity at an all-time high. Achieving frizz-free hair starts in the shower with a shampoo and conditioner specially formulated to fight frizz. When blow drying hair, again be sure to blow dry from roots to ends to smooth the cuticle.

How to get rid of Frizz: Suave Professionals Sleek Shampoo and Conditioner moisturizes and smoothes curly, frizzy or dry hair leaving it looking salon-smooth and healthy.
Price/Availability: $1.92 – 2.49 at drugstores, mass merchandisers, and supermarkets nationwide

Fight the Fade

Have color-treated hair? Lock in your color and keep hair healthy during the summer by protecting your hair with products designed to fight the elements, such as color-protecting shampoos, waterproof gels, and UV protectors.

How to fight the Fade: Suave Professionals Color Care Shampoo and Conditioner has a gentle formula that nourishes and defends hair against harsh environmental elements and helps protect color from fading.
Price/Availability: $1.92 – 2.49 at drugstores, mass merchandisers, and supermarkets nationwide

Enter To Win! (Really. The comments are fixed, so you can enter! I promise!)


Have you all been having trouble with the comments on Cool Moms Rule lately?

Well, @#$%!

That's what I get for trying a "fix" from Blogger! I reverted back to the old routine, so all you have to do is click the time stamp to get to the comment area, same old same old. Sorry for the hassle, everyone, I was actually trying to get things to show up more EASILY for you all!

And don't forget to enter the contest to win the free toddler Banana Splits tee! It's a size 4T!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The New Banana Splits Show is a Winner (especially for you!)

One banana, two banana, three banana, four! Four bananas make a bunch and so do many more!

Remember that song? Sure you do!

Because for us baby boomers who are now *cough cough cough* years old, The Banana Splits Adventure Hour (otherwise known as The Banana Splits and Friends) was a daily feature in our lives. I used to watch the hour-long show every day right after I got home from school, and try to figure out what animal that fourth Banana Split (the one that wasn't a dog, lion or elephant) was. I was *almost*positive he was an orangutan (turns out I was wrong, keep reading).

The Banana Splits were fun and silly and made me giggle with the physical humor that kids love, bumping into each other with cool "BOINK" sound effects while they followed their leader, Fleegle the Beagle, around.

But what I remember most about the show was the catchy music that stuck with you, like the Banana Splits theme song, and the cute costumes worn by Fleegle, Drooper the Lion, Goober (who I now know is an orange gorilla!) and of course the adorable elephant Snorky (or "Snork"). They all played in a band, like the Monkees (another great show of the era), and Snork never spoke, only ever madking a cute trumpeting sound, reminiscent of Harpo Marx of the Marx Brothers.

All of you out there, the parents, are nodding your heads, and singing out loud at this point, remembering the band ("He was a *gorrilla*?!") and the Three Musketeers and Arabian Knights animated features that ran in kind of a show-within-a-show.

And you are probably thinking about all the kids' shows they have on TV these days and saying to yourself, "That was a great show! Why don't they make shows like that any more?"

Well, Hooray, now they do!

In honor of the thirtieth anniversary of the show, The Banana Splits are coming back to TV, and they are even better this time around. Starting Tuesday, September 2, you can watch the new Banana Splits show, with all-new comedy shorts and music videos, on Cartoon Network and Boomerang. Along with DVDs, live entertainment and CD's of their new, even catchier, music comes an interactive website full of cartoons, jokes, and activities where kids can join the Banana Splits club.

And you can win a special limited-edition Banana Splits Toddler Tee (size 4T) from Cool Moms Rule! In correlation with the launch, we're giving away an adorable limited-edition tee for your toddler, which you can win just by checking out the Banana Splits website.

Here's how to win: head on over to The Banana Splits site and then come back here and leave a comment with your favorite song, joke or activity on the site (while you are there, by the way, check out the "Best Friend" song. That Sam kid is a perfect double for the Rhino from just a couple years ago. Really. The resemblance is spooky). Winner announced August 31st.

So go relive your own childhood favorite, watch your kids experience it for the first time, and maybe even win a limited-edition tee for your toddler!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Mangatize me, Baby!

A bunch of us over on Twitter have created new Manga avatars. It's free!
Here's mine:
check it out for yourself at!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Thank You! No, merci!

Remember that teacher your son had last year, who helped him through English? Maybe you'll even see her when you go to register for school again soon. How about that neighbor down the street who always picks up your mail for you when you're out of town and keeps on eye on the house? Oh, and what about the veterinarian that treated your dog that time he was throwing up all over the house (the dog, not the veterinarian)?

We all have people like these in our lives every day, people who perform small acts of kindness and don't expect anything in return--but wouldn't it be nice if you surprised them with something really special to thank them anyway?

And what if you could figure out the perfect reward for each person? Maybe your son's teacher would appreciate a whole shopping cart of school supplies every nine weeks. And your neighbor loves to garden--how about a nice patio set so she can enjoy her blooming flowers? And the veterinarian enjoys watching the occasional football game--wouldn't he like season box tickets to all the home team's games

Now you can nominate any or all of these special people for a customized "Thank You," thanks to merci Chocolates' National Thank You Day Contest. Write a short blurb about nominating who you want to thank and what you feel would be the perfect reward, and they could win your customized recommendation on September 22nd, National Thank You Day.

Just for nominating someone, you will get a BOGO coupon from merci Chocolates (and they're so rich and delicious you'll be tempted to eat both boxes yourself). 100 First prize winners will receive merci Chocolates and an autographed book from Peggy Post of Emily Post fame. And the grand prize winner receives that incredible custom "Thank You" package valued up to $20,000!

National Thank You Day isn't until September 22nd, but merci Chocolates' National Thank You Day Contest ends FRIDAY, so get right on this and submit your entry!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Depression is a Family Thing

So, in one of life's little ironies, I was about to join a conference call on mental health and resources for families suffering from depression, when I got a call from my own therapist, checking to make sure I was doing all right.

Yes, I see a therapist. I have seen him since a few months after having my hysterectomy, when I had what I have learned to refer to since as a "Major Depressive Episode," and what my husband and family probably thought of at the time as a nervous breakdown.

We don't talk about things like that very much, do we? Depression and Moms, I mean. One of my personal heroes, who I met over a year ago at my first BlogHer conference in Chicago, Katherine Stone, quit her high-profile job at Coca-Cola to blog about her own terrifying ordeal with postpartum depression (PPD) and I admire her so much for doing that; for being open and forthright about a subject most of us would prefer to pretend doesn't exist.

Maybe it is, as has so often been said, the stigma behind mental illness. People don't think of depression in quite the same way as they do diabetes or high blood pressure, though it is just as much of a disease.

I think, too, though, that Moms feel like we shouldn't complain about our own problems. We are supposed to take care of our families, not the other way around.

In a recent online survey, more than half of all the Moms who responded worried about their family's mental health issues and that they weren't doing enough to help support those family members. 70 percent of Moms surveyed said they spent so much time taking care of everyone else that they didn't even have time to worry about their own mental health.

And 9 out 10 Moms, a whopping 90%, felt that society as a whole wasn't doing near enough to deal with mental health issues, many of which are not even covered by insurance today.

So I was looking forward to my conference call (which yes, I did join, a little late) with Julie Totten from Families for Depression Awareness, and Dr. Myrna Weismann, discussing these issues more in depth.

Both Julie and Dr. Weismann are Moms, and both are working to help families dealing with depression.

For Julie, it is a mission born from her own tragic past: nearly 18 years ago she lost a brother, Mark, to suicide. Though she tried to get him help, she didn't know herself what she should be doing to help him. That's why she is one of the founder of the non-profit, which offers free online tools like a parents/teen guide about depression, online moderated support groups and a family awareness tool for discerning if a family member is in need of your intervention.

One of the most important messages Julie wanted to get across is that sometimes you have to act as an advocate for your depressed family member, who may not be in a position mentally to deal with the medical community and all the red tape. You can keep putting the pressure on, asking questions, demanding answers and continuing to push to get that family member the help he/she needs.

Dr. Weismann has focused her areas of study on the treatment of depression and its strong genetic component. According to Dr. Weismann, issues for the children of parents who have been diagnosed with depression begin early, with problems often surfacing as anxiety disorders in young children. Puberty can trigger the change to depression in adoloscents, who sometimes turn to substance abuse if not treated, especially boys. These issues then continue right on into adult life.

But the cycle can be stopped through effective treatment, which sometimes means therapy, sometimes drugs--and sometimes a highly effective combination of both.

What Dr. Weismann is trying to determine is, first of all, if stress is known to be a major factor in depression, wouldn't a child knowing that his parent is depressed be incredibly stressful? Couldn't that serve as a trigger for their own problems with depression? And it seems that this is the case. Get parents effective treatment, and kids' own symptoms go into repression as well.

So, in an obvious next step towards treating and preventing this cycle of depression, Dr. Weismann is conducting surveys of people who are suffering from depression to track the family dynamic. You can join in her survey by calling: 877 407 9529 or visiting

If you are in the NY area, there a specific treatment study going on involving well-known anti-depressant medications, no placebos, which both treats people for their own depression and studies their children for signs of ongoing or imminent depression. This study is free of charge, and you can find out more by calling: 212 543-5734.

Neither or Dr. Weismann's programs are selling anything or trying to make a profit, they are all about helping families get through the cycle of depression.

As Dr. Weismann puts it: suffering from a mental health illness when you are a parent is like the video on an airplane when you are instructed to put on your own oxygen mask first before helping your child put on his. You can't take care of anyone if you are suffering in silence. Only a parent who is emotionally healthy herself is in a position to make sure her family is emotionally healthy as well.

What's Coming Up on Cool Moms Rule!

First, a quick Thanks to Vanessa of Parents Who Click, who gives Cool Moms Rule! a shout-out on "Teens Today With Vanessa Van Petten". Vanessa's the author of You're Grounded: How to Stop Fighting and Make the Teen Years Easier. It's available over at, and because you're a Cool Moms Rule! reader, you can even get free shipping with Amazon Prime by using my click-through (whether you decide to order Vanessa's book or something else)!

Coming up on Cool Moms Rule!

We Have an exciting GIVEAWAY coming up soon on Cool Moms Rule! Make sure to check in, as we will be giving away a great prize (hint: a famous mouse will be making an appearance).

Cool Moms Rule! will also be holding a raffle in conjunction with Viv's blog The Cheezits . You could be the winner of an ENTIRE PRIZE PACKAGE!
This is a great cause, and all for charity: 100% of the proceeds from the raffle tickets will go to pet rescue efforts! We have some very giving people who are always ready to take on the responsibility of adopting and caring for sick, abandoned and abused kitties. All they need are the funds to keep on doing it. So, we're putting together a prize package and a raffle to help raise funds. Raffle tickets for a chance to win will be just $2 each and you can purchase as many chances as you want through a secure Paypal link we'll have up on the site. Stay tuned for all the details! (By the way, if you would like to donate to our growing prize package, just email viv at: vbruss AT

Sunday, August 10, 2008

K'Nexpert Contest!

I'm a great fan of K'NEX building sets, and have reviewed them here in the past.

Now they are running a contest for kids up to 12 years old. But I wish I were young enough to enter myself, because the K'NEXpert building contest sounds like so much fun!

Here's how it works: kids create original K'NEX models and submit them for a chance to win fantastic prizes, including $10,000 Savings Bonds, 500 piece K'NEX building sets, a free trip to New York and a Tour of K'NEX Headquarters! And that's not even the full list!

Last year’s Grand Prize Winner designed an amazing 6,500-Piece (!) Roller Coaster based on a dragon theme, entitled “Belly of the Beast.” You've got to see his entry; check out the video here.

This year, K’NEX is expanding the contest to include three Grand Prize winners from these age groups: 5 - 6, 7 -8, and 9 to 12 years-old.

Have a budding builder in your home? Check out all the great prizes here: Becoming A K'NEXpert. Look for more K'NEX posts here on Cool Moms Rule soon!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Opening Ceremonies Rock the World

Did you watch the 2008 Olympics opening ceremonies last night?

If not, roll the big rock away from the entrance to your cave, get out in the real world and find some coverage of them (maybe here on Youtube), because they were simply the most amazing opening ever.

It wasn't just the money that made the ceremonies special. Yes, they cost an almost obscene amount (estimated at around 180 million dollars*), especially when you consider that the average worker in China can make as little as $2 a day. But we've seen that "lots of money" does not always correlate to "high quality"--think of some of the truly terrible Super Bowl shows you've witnessed, the garish display of "more is better" that passes for art.

No, these ceremonies, the brain-child of director Zhang Yimou, owe their brilliance not to finance but to the people of China, over 22,000 of whom performed Friday night in the newly-constructed National Stadium , in 15,000 costumes, among 43,000 fireworks, in awe-inspiring synchronous harmony.

The stadium itself played a huge role in the opening ceremonies. Replete with built-in projection screens around the entire perimeter and a huge LED screen in the floor of the stadium, the "Bird's Nest" provided a high-tech venue for China to showcase its performers.

First came the drummers--2008 of them. In China, the Fou drum is an historic instrument, dating from medieval times, made of ceramic or bronze and set atop a wicker table. The Fou drummers, perfectly in time, beat upon their drums, which lit up with each stroke. Thunder filled the stadium. Apparently, there were worries that the drummers would be too intimidating, so they were instructed to smile throughout their performance.

There was so much to see throughout the ceremonies that it was hard to take it all in, from the lit-up Chinese characters counting down the seconds, to the dancers suspended by cables encircling the suspended globe, to the women in gorgeous costumes of gold and rose and teal, to the Tai Chi masters forming, without a single mark to guide them, perfect concentric circles on the floor of the stadium.

And everything was people-powered, from the dancing boxes, propelled by hundreds of performers hidden until the end, to the lights on skin-tight costumes (changed at the last minute from black and re-sewn in time for the event in kiwi green). Even the huge LED screen on the stadium floor, which "unrolled" like a giant scroll, was covered by a sheet of cloth and then marked in ink by the mechanism of the moving hands and feet of the performers. Their illustrated landscape of mountains and water was given a sun flourish by yet another dancer, which was then colored in with a smiling face by Chinese children singing in the center of the stage.

I could go on an on re-counting the highlights of the night, but one I fell asleep too early to witness just broke my heart on the re-counting:

China's world-renowned basketball player, Yao Ming, entered the parade of nations beside the very small (especially in contrast to Yao's 7 feet six inches!) nine-year-old Lin Hao. Many found themselves wondering, "Who is this little boy walking with Yao Ming?"

Lin Hao, despite his tiny stature, is a national hero. During the devastating May 12 earthquake in which 70,000 Chinese perished, Lin Hao was buried in a pile of rubble. After being dug out, he sung songs to keep up his spirits and that of other victims. He then went on, despite suffering multiple injuries himself, to rescue others of his schoolmates, even returning inside the collapsed building where he had been trapped and digging alongside workers to do so.

When asked how he was able to find the courage to keep working and rescue his classmates despite his own injuries, Lin Hao replied (I'm in tears again, writing this) that he felt responsible for them because he was the hall monitor and leader of his class.


The lighting of the torch, by former gymnast and triple-gold medalist, Li Ning, was an acrobatic affair that required Ning to run the full perimeter of the stadium before making his historic leap to light the Olympic torch.

*Though American news reports place the estimated cost at closer to $300 million, Zhang said in a press conference this morning, "We encouraged economic use of resources in preparing for the Olympic Games."

Photos from Xinhua,

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Mark-Paul Gosselaar in TNT's Raising the Bar

I just got off the phone from a conference call with Mark-Paul Gosselaar, one of the stars of TNT's promising new series, Raising the Bar.

Gracious and extremely forthcoming, the actor spoke about his role in the series, working with Steven Bochco and the great ensemble cast, and how he juggles being a Dad with working long days and nights in a new series. Here are some highlights of the call.

About his role on Raising the Bar:

Gosselaar plays Jerry Kellerman, an idealistic and passionate public defender determined to help those caught in the system. As Mark-Paul tells it, "Jerry believes the system is screwed, so he is going to do his best to screw the system to get back at it." He goes on to explain that although Jerry's clients could be seen as the bad guys, "It's not the system that needs protection from Jerry's clients, it's the clients that need protection from the system."

What's different about Raising the Bar is that both sides of the system, the public defenders and the district attorneys, are given equal time, and viewers can really get a feel for what the justice system is like.

Joel Amos, from She Knows, asked about Mark-Paul's working relationship with Steven Bochco, the Emmy-award winning producer of iconic shows like L.A. Law, Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue, Gosselaar's last series. Gosselaar answered candidly,"Don't fuck with Steven!"

Bochco, Gosselaar explains, is passionate about what he does. "You have to trust him, he knows what he is doing. He's not on the set every day micro-managing...he allows people to do their work." As an actor, he counts himself fortunate to, "Have that person in your corner that is going to give you all the tools you would ever want to make your creative product."

After a rather bizarre seque' into Gosselaar's new hair-style (his wife hates it), Real Mommy asked the question I really wanted to ask (and kudos to her!): how does Gosselar, a father of two, find family time working such long hours?

I loved this question, because almost every woman hears, "How do you balance your family life with your work?" But rarely do men in the workplace face the same scrutiny. And Gosselaar rolled with it, explaining how he used the weekends to catch up, and that although his daughter, at two years old, really wasn't aware of the difference in their schedule, his son was not used to him working such long hours and was having a hard time dealing with the change. So his son would come visit the set about once a week. And, although Gosselaar swears he is not the kind of person to ask for special treatment, one thing he absolutely demanded was that, "The Slurpee machine HAD to work when my son came to the set!"

With my question taken, I asked if Mark (I had heard that he prefers being called Mark-Paul to Mark, but everyone on the conference call referred to him that way, so I followed suit) had learned anything specific, or passed any tips on to, the fantastic ensemble cast he is working with on Raising the Bar, from Jane Kaczmarek of Malcolm in the Middle to Gloria Reuben (ER).

Gosselaar explained that it would be a little presumptuous for one actor to tell another actor how to play his part (which, of course, makes perfect sense), but that he loved the passion the other cast members brought to their roles, as it allowed him to, "Feed off of their energy...I challenge myself every day; have a passion to be better." He also extolled the fantastic line-up of guest stars coming up and how they all "bring something new" to the series every week, which keeps him on his toes.

TNT already has a winning combination with Kyra Sedgwick in The Closer and Holly Hunter in Saving Grace, and with Raising the Bar joining the lineup this fall, the network looks hard to beat.

You can watch the season premiere of Raising the Bar, with Mark-Paul Gosselaar, on Monday, September 1st at 10:00 PM on .

Primo Water: Pure Taste and an Environmentally-Friendly Bottle

Why is it that bottled water just tastes better than tap water?

I used to feel guilty about feeling this way, because tap water is, of course, readily available and presumably just as good for you as bottled water.

But now I don't have to feel guilty at all, because I am drinking water that not only tastes better than plain old tap water but is good for me and environmentally friendly.

I've discovered Primo Water.

I first had Primo Water in California, where I drank it almost exclusively at BlogHer08, to keep me from diving into the high-fructose corn syrup-laden soft drinks. I could stick a bottle in my case right along with my laptop and not be tempted.

And the thing was, it was really good water. I mean, better tasting even than most bottled water, and I am not alone in thinking so: In blind taste tests conducted across the U.S. in late 2007, three out of four consumers preferred Primo over the leading spring water and four out of five preferred Primo over tap water (via).

Primo drinking water adds a special blend of minerals to their water. Not only does the mineral blend make the water taste great, it helps hydrate, replenish and cleanse your body. It's also chlorine-free and fluoride-free.

But what really sets Primo Water apart from the other brands, and what made me want to write this review, is that they are both concerned about the environment and they listen to their consumers.

How do I know that? Primo asked people what they wanted in bottled water, and then they re-designed their bottle based on what people told them.

Billy Prim, Chairman and CEO of Primo Water Corporation said, “We listened to consumer feedback about our test bottle and redesigned the shape to give shoppers the look and feel they want in a sleek, ergonomic package that fits their busy lifestyles. We reduced our package weight, cap size and label, all in response to consumer demand to keep our packaging as environmentally-friendly as possible.”

So now Primo's bottles are "home-grown." What does that mean? Rather than making their bottles from crude oil, the plastic comes from plants! That's right, it's a truly green bottle, made from corn.

“Primo water bottles made from plants give consumers an easy way to avoid using packaging made from depleting natural oil resources, which helps reduce our reliance on foreign oil,” said Dave Burke, President and COO of Primo To Go. “Choosing a non-oil based bottle like Primo is a simple way for Americans to make a small change in their lifestyle, but a big difference for the environment.”

How do they do that?! You can watch videos on Youtube to see exactly how plants become plastic bottles here, using 65% less energy and creating 80-90% less greenhouse gases than making bottles from crude oil:

This summer, you can find Primo Water in Target, Albertson's and Publix, as well as Kroger and Kroger owned stores nationwide. Check it out!
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.