Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...Disney! (and another giveaway)

We're planning our Holiday Gift Guide for the end of November, and I know I'm really looking forward to that (hope you are, too!), but I just had to let all you early shoppers out there know that not only does Disney have some adorable holiday movies for you to watch with your family, but the movies themselves come with special gifts to help make the holidays bright!

So, if you are like me and try to get all your shopping done early, or you just love that holiday feeling and want to spread some Christmas cheer throughout your home, take a look at these two offerings:

First up, there's Winnie the Pooh: Seasons of Giving.

Now, I know I've gone on and on about how my kids loved Winnie the Pooh and the gang. I really think the appeal of Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet and the whole gang is timeless.

Winnie the Pooh: Seasons of Giving starts out with Pooh and his friends thinking they missed Winter (due to some missing calendar pages). So they believe it's Groundhog day! They must track down a groundhog to find out what happened to their favorite season, Winter. What's really cute is when they think that it's Springtime and they plant their gardens out of season, even do some Spring Cleaning even though it's really Winter!

The next video vignette features Christopher Robin and it is all about getting ready for Thanksgiving. There's a cute Thanksgiving song from Pooh and even a monster Turkey! What I liked about this segment was that it's not all about the food and all the excesses but about being with your family and friends, and that's what the holidays are all about.

Of course, Christmas is my favorite holiday, and the Christmas episode will put you in the right mood. Rabbit (love how Rabbit is so particular about everything, like the Martha Stewart of The 10o Acre Wood) has an unexpected guest for the holidays that throws off all of his perfect planning. Oh, and Pooh? Not the best choice for babysitter. Just sayin'. This is actually a touching little story.

But that's not all that's on Winnie the Pooh: Season of Giving. There's lots of great bonus features, like two shorts called Magic Earmuffs (Piglet learning to ice skate!) and Wishing Bear (I've seen this one, Wishing Bear, before, and it's so sweet!).

Then there are two holiday games on the DVD, one where you decorate your own Christmas tree and the other has you coloring in holiday scenes.

And, perhaps the best extra of all, Pooh: Seasons of Giving comes with your very own holiday stocking!. This is definitely one DVD library, folks.

The second great movie pack coming out on DVD from Disney is Mickey's Christmas Carol.

I think we're all familiar with the classic Dickens tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, but most versions are too serious and stuffy for small kids to sit through.

Of course, Mickey's Christmas Carol is the exception. Naturally, Ebenezer Scrooge is played by Scrooge McDuck himself, and Mickey is his clerk, Bob Cratchit. The ghosts that visit him include Goofy and Jiminy Cricket!

In addition to a fun, kid-friendly cast, this special DVD, which hit shelves yesterday, comes with a collectible litho print of Mickey and his family decorating their Christmas tree.

And you can win Mickey's Christmas Carol for your family this holiday season just by leaving a comment below. Here's what I need to know in your comment : who is your favorite Disney character?

For additional entries, Tweet or blog about this contest, or leave a comment on another post on the site and let me know you are commenting for an extra chance to win Mickey's Christmas Carol.

That's FIVE chances to win! Contest ends October 14th.

I received review copies of these DVDs to facilitate my review and so that I could offer this giveaway to my readers.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monsters vs Aliens ZOMG! And We're Giving Them Away!

Access Hollywood calls it “laugh-out-loud funny” and claims this adventure features the “funniest animated action stars ever.”

Grossing 196 million in box-office sales, it was
“the year’s coolest comedy” according to Sixty Second Preview.

Now, for the first time ever, DreamWorks Animation has created a spectacular 3D companion story to continue the excitement and fun of the theatrical film. The Ginormous Double DVD Pack and Blu-ray both feature the world premiere of B.O.B.’S BIG BREAK, an all-new 3D adventure starring everyone’s favorite gelatinous hero and featuring the voice talents of Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett and Kiefer Sutherland.

The Ginormous Double DVD Pack and Blu-ray each include four pair of 3D glasses and have even more of what audiences loved with an all-new interactive game in 3D, three all-new music videos, three never-before-seen deleted scenes, a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film, filmmaker commentary and hours of activities, such as the Creature Fun Factory and much, much more. Additionally, the Blu-ray boasts an exclusive Animators’ Corner and Trivia Track so viewers can learn everything they want to know about the characters and story.

When Susan Murphy (Reese Witherspoon) is unexpectedly clobbered by a meteor full of outer space gunk, she mysteriously grows to 49-feet-11-inches tall and is instantly labeled a “Monster” named Ginormica. The military jumps into action, and she is captured by General W.R. Monger (Kiefer Sutherland) and held in a secret government compound filled with other “monsters” like herself. This ragtag group consists of the brilliant but insect-headed
Dr. Cockroach Ph.D. (Hugh Laurie); the macho half-ape-half-fish The Missing Link
(Will Arnett); the gelatinous and indestructible B.O.B. (Seth Rogen); and the 350-foot grub called Insectosaurus. Their confinement time is cut short however, when a mysterious alien robot lands on Earth and the motley crew of Monsters is called into action to save the world from imminent destruction.

B.O.B. (Seth Rogen) and his monstrous crew are on a mission to bust out of a government containment area, the government’s top-secret holding cell. Led by mad-scientist
Dr. Cockroach Ph.D. (Hugh Laurie) and macho amphibian The Missing Link (Will Arnett), the trio outwits grizzled General W.R. Monger (Kiefer Sutherland) to make a triumphant escape…almost.

You can purchase the Ginormous Double DVD Pack for under $25, which is practically a steal--or you can win it from Cool Moms Rule!

To enter our Ginormous Double DVD Pack giveaway with both Monsters vs Aliens and B.O.B.'s Big Break, just leave a comment below this post!

For additional entries:
  • Tweet about this contest with @CoolMomsRule amended to your tweet. Leave a comment letting me know you've done so, with your Twitter handle so I can find it! (Or, if you prefer, just link to the post in your commeItalicnt).
  • Follow CoolMomsRule on Twitter.
  • Blog about this contest and link back to this post in your blog entry.
  • Subscribe to our blog feed.
  • Add my button to your site.
  • Leave a comment on any other post on the site. Yes, I am a comment slut! ; )
I received two Ginormous Double DVD combo packs, one to facilitate my review and one which will be awarded in this giveaway.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Use Up the Box. Mmmm...pancakes!

Just got this in from the Hungry Jack folks, and it sounds fun!

Use Up the Box contest:

Every day it seems as though we go through the same routine, from our morning wake-up habits, to our trusted driving routes, to our bedtime rituals; even dinner can get a bit monotonous. In fact, according to a recent survey conducted by Kelton Research on behalf of The J.M. Smucker Company, forty-seven percent of respondents reported that they generally make the same meals on a weekly basis while six in ten Americans look for either ease or cost savings when preparing meals. And while many people might argue they don’t have the time or money to purchase additional ingredients for their weekly menus, the surprising truth is your pantry is already stocked with delicious ingredients ready for new and creative dishes.
To help at-home chef’s get started utilizing their pantry goods, Hungry Jack® and Food Network Star Adam Gertler are challenging consumers, to “Use Up the Box” in a nationwide recipe challenge this fall. From September 23, 2009 through November 9, 2009, at-home pantry masters are invited to join Adam Gertler in the Hungry Jack ‘Use Up the Box’ Recipe and Essay Contest and create and submit a photo and essay of their original or non-traditional recipe using Hungry Jack® pantry staples like potatoes, pancakes or syrup with three grand prize winners each receiving a year’s worth of free groceries.

Did you know, in each package of Hungry Jack® Potatoes, Pancake Mix and Syrup, there are more than 20 meal possibilities waiting to help you spice up your menu? For instance, Hungry Jack® potatoes are the secret ingredient in Macaroon Sugar Cookies while Hungry Jack® pancake mix creates a delectable Sour Cream Streusel Coffee Cake.

The Hungry Jack ‘Use Up the Box’ Recipe Challenge Contest is open to US residents over 18 years of age, and will be judged on the following criteria: creativity, taste, ease of preparation, appearance, and nutritional balance.

For the official rules as well as creative recipes and tips from Adam Gertler log on to


"Gwen's father walked out on the family. Her mother lost her job.

As the little kiddies learn to read about this doll as if she's a human being, one learns that, as fall turned into winter, Gwen's mom lost her grip.

Mother and daughter started bedding down in a car.

For $95 -- more than your average homeless person would dream of spending on a rather mediocre baby substitute -- Gwen Thompson can be yours. A mixed message if ever there was one. "

I think this is very biased--though I do think it's ironic that a girl whose storyline includes homelessness retails for a whopping $95, why shouldn't our kids be learning about the reality of broken homes and homelessness?

I also wish they had an American Girl doll with a Mother/Father in the military. Anyone know if that's out there?

She's having two babies, but they aren't identical twins. They aren't even fraternal twins.

One of the babies was conceived 2 1/2 weeks after the first!

Very rare, this is known as superfetation.

Hey, I won a game on Twitter!

We've got a winner for our Dame Dilemma! "At a crowded event I feel someone pinch my butt. What's a Dame to Do?!" Stay tuned for next tweet

Our winner @CoolMomsRule ....please DM us your mailng info. Congratulations!

@CoolMomsRule "I'd embarrass the pincher by loudly demanding, "Get your hands off my butt!" since I can't blow him away w/an AK47 IRL ; )"

I won a copy of What's A Dame to Do? from GamesForDames!

Wha--? Where's My Comment?!

Dear Cool Moms Rule! followers,

If you've noticed your comments are not showing up as quickly, you have a stupid hate-filled comment to me to thank for it.

Yes, I had to delete a comment from the blog recently, which is something I RARELY do. Usually I reserve that only for spammers, but I had to make an exception this time. So I enabled comment moderation on the blog.

Please understand, if you criticize me, I will NOT just delete your comment! Far from it. Go ahead and tell me if I'm screwing up.


If you aren't happy with Cool Moms Rule!, I want to hear about it.

I want to know what you think, and sometimes I screw up, and I need you to call me out on the carpet for it.

Other times, well, we may have to end up agreeing to disagree.

But I will always listen.

UNLESS, as this one comment did, you simply resort to offensive name calling, and then, yes, I'm going to take the comment down.

I might, very occasionally, use an "objectionable" word on the blog, but overall this is a blog for Moms, and we don't need to see--I am not kidding--

A nasty sexist slur crudely referring to me as, to put it nicely, a part of a woman's anatomy.

This particular comment was on the review I did recently for book The Other Girl, which I admit was not a positive review.

Hey, I can't love EVERYTHING!

So, a lone comment referring to me as (rude epithet) was deleted. It didn't criticize anything specific in my review, just basically resorted to name calling.

Interestingly enough, a Twitter account in the name of one of the characters in the book then criticized the blog, which I found hilarious! Here's the tweet:

omg coolmomsrule this stupid blog just was like salivating all over lance armstrong who is super annoying!!! she is the worse!!!!3:47 AM Sep 23rd from web

Pilar Benitez-Jones

Isn't that funny? It totally works for the voice of that character, an incredibly beautifl, rather shallow privileged girl.

She (whoever the author of the Twitter account is) even made the same typo in the Tweet that The Other Girl author does, and which I criticized in my book review, using "worse" for "worst".

I got a real kick out of that. I tweeted back that I was living in fear of her 6 Twitter followers (I think she has a couple more now), but I never heard any more from her about it.

My Twitter friend, @ThingsMomsLike, and I, though, had a fun discussion about it.

We're really hoping they make me a bitchy character in the next book! Like CoolbitchMom! And then she could be my friend, ThingsMomsHate!

So, see, criticism can be fun!

But using ugly sexist name-calling in comments? Not going to happen here.

So I enabled Comment Moderation, and it will take just a little longer for your comments to show up on the blog, but otherwise it shouldn't inconvenience you all too much, okay?

Thanks for understanding, you guys!


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Weird Wednesday Shrek Giveaway

You loved the movie, and the book started it all.

So why not start out this Fall with SHREK?

Before Shrek made it big on the silver screen, there was William Steig’s SHREK!, a book about an ordinary ogre who leaves his swampy childhood home to go out and see the world. Ordinary, that is, if a foul and hideous being who ends up marrying the most stunningly ugly princess on the planet is what you consider ordinary.

My favorite audiobook folks, Macmillan Audio, are offering up another October offering that lines up nicely with Halloween, and we're giving it away!

Enter to win the SHREK! Book and CD set! Just leave a comment on this post. That's it!

Additional Entries: Are easy peasy this time, folks! You don't have to have a blog, or a Twitter account or even a website! Just leave a comment on ANY OTHER POST here at Cool Moms Rule! for an additional entry.

That's right, I'm a comment slut, and I haven't had my fill lately! So you can earn *unlimited* additional entries by leaving comments on other posts on the site.

The only restrictions are: you can't just leave the same comment for each post, and "nice post" doesn't cut it. You need to actually have read the post you're commenting on (or at least fake it well enough so that I think you've read it!).

That's it!

Contest ends Wednesday, October 7th, so you'll have plenty of opportunities to enter. In fact, why not just check in each day, and if you see a new post, leave a comment?

Five minutes of your time for a fantastic prize? Totally worth it!

Good luck!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

NEW! Sunday Funday Giveaways--add your own!

Every Sunday, Cool Moms Rule! will be listing giveaways from around the blogosphere! Come back each Sunday, and you can add your own contests to our list for some linky love! We'll also be tweeting this list each week.

Important: Title should be the title of the giveaway, not just your blog, and the link should go directly to the giveaway page!

Once you've added your link, please don't forget to leave a comment, too!

Sexy and Surprising Video! What do YOU think, Cool Moms?!

I love the cute idea behind this video I'm linking.

The pic above gives you a clue what to expect, but you just *have* to see this!

Now, you have to stay tuned until the surprising ending for the payoff, okay?

Okay, here's the link:

What do YOU think? I'd love your comments!


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Giveaway: Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie!

"My best friend and I used to have contests where we'd try to gross each other out. We don't bother with that anymore. I can win every time even when I'm not trying."--Nathan Abercrombie

Here's another great giveaway in time for Halloween for your candy-loving, costume-clad little witches and warlocks, Transformers and Teletubbies, Tiggers and Poohs!

This delightful 3-CD set contains the first in a new series called My Rotten Life by David Lubar (author of the delightful Weenies books), Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie, as well as a BONUS short story: Frankendance, from The Battle of the Red Hot Weenies.

Nathan Abercrombie is having a really bad day. First, Shawna Lancaster, the prettiest girl in his class, doesn't invite him to her party. Then he gets picked last in gym class. Things couldn't get any worse...until he gets doused with an experimental serum that turns him into a half-dead zombie!
WIN Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie (3 CD set): To Enter, just leave a comment on this post! (required to enter).

Additional Entries (optional):
You might also want to enter our giveaway for Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie, complete with Winnie the Pooh Plush in his adorable Tigger Halloween costume.

Both contests end September 30th.

Good luck!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Th-th-that's All, Folks!

Warner Bros. Consumer Products and Safeway are partnering to bring your kids' favorite Looney Tunes characters to their new "better-for-you" food and beverage line, Eating Right Kids.

That means healthier choices for snacks and meals that, with characters like Bugs Bunny and Tweety Bird on the packaging, your kids will actually want to try!

I know that when my kids were little, they always wanted that cereal that had the most "fun" looking box. They'd see some character in the store that they recognized from watching cartoons, and immediately it was more appealing.

So I like knowing that there are healthier choices out there that take advantage of this in my favor as a parent. I'm not above telling them "No" when the choice isn't healthy, of course, but it's nice not having to be the bad guy all the time!

Plus, looking for the Looney Tunes characters is an easy way to find which of, say, all the juices on the shelf for kids are actually 100% juice and contain no corn syrup.

Pictured on the left are just some of the Eating Right Kids selections, which include 60 items over 18 categories (breakfast foods, produce, portable meals, snacks, beverages and frozen entrees). You'll be seeing these items on the shelves at more than 1700 Safeways across North America (including Canada). Personally, I like the mini ravioli pasta the best!

Warner Bros. Consumers has put some extra effort into this that I like: they've actually cleared Looney Tunes products off the retail shelves if they *don't* meet this new "better-for-you" standard. This may be why the their Eating Right Kids initiative with Safeway was actually highlighted by the FTC as a measure that could have a positive impact on childhood obesity, a rising health concern for many parents.

For this TeamMom blog tour, I received a sample lunch bag with Eating Right Kids products to help me formulate my review.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Book Review: The Other Girl

The Other Girl is the second in a series of YA novels that began with Inside The Mind of Gideon Rayburn, and it's on the shelves today.

I will start this review out with the acknowledgment to all of you that I never read that first book. So maybe I would have felt differently if I had.

But the truth is I just couldn't like The Other Girl.

First, the premise is creepy. There's just no other word.

When I explained to my boys that the book was about Molly, a girl who could see everything this boy, Gideon, could see, that she was basically inside his head, and that she used that knowledge to become his girlfriend and make him fall in love with her by manipulating every circumstance so that she looked like the perfect girlfriend, that's the exact word they used:


Now, the book goes on from there, but as I say the whole idea that Molly is inside people's heads and manipulating them bothered me.

But that's not all I have against this book.

I don't like most of the characters.

That's a huge drawback when you are trying to engage an audience, right there. Gideon is okay, but his friends are immature and grating. I really couldn't find any endearing qualities in these guys at all.

The prep school the kids attend (which we first see when Gideon and Molly get caught about to have sex in the chapel) is not at all an environment I can relate to, either.

Rich, shallow, entitled kids, and corrupt, know-nothing teachers populate Midvale Academy. I found it stereotypical, two-dimensional, and, again, not designed to endear me to the characters.

So, as I say, I am not a big fan of this book. There's only one remotely sympathetic teacher, who naturally knows more than she's telling, and then there's Edie, Molly's roommate, who seems smart and has potential. But Edie is not as close to Molly ever since Molly and Gideon started having sex because (and this really bothered me, too) Molly and Gideon kick her out of her own room and she has to sleep in a broom closet every time he comes over.

I did have some hope when an overweight character was introduced. He's even a smart guy. But although Edie is attracted to him (again, as I said, she's the most likeable character), he is always described as 'oily' or 'disgusting' (!) even while strangely appealing--as if the author herself can't really imagine why anyone would be attracted to an overweight person and just feels she should have someone in the book who isn't plastic and perfect.

Now, I mentioned that The Other Girl starts with Gideon and Molly about to have sex. That's another problem I have with this book.

Teenagers have sex. I'm not shocked by that, and I'm not prudish in my attitudes.

But in The Other Girl, sex is dealt with extremely casually. Though Molly and Gideon are 'in love', for Molly sex is all about trying to please Gideon, by buying sexy panties and reading his fantasies and making sure she lives up to them and just being this living doll.

Not at all a great message for teenage girls.

To be fair, the book veers away from this pretty quickly, but in a way that I find very unrealistic (this is just one example of poor writing in this book):

After decrying her love for Gideon in practically every paragraph, Molly breaks up with him--soon after the first time he officially says "I love you"--because he fantasizes about another girl when they are trying to make love. For the third time in a night.

Yeah, after all she had done to slavishly fit herself into this mold to be the perfect girlfriend, that just didn't fit for me.

Molly was all about pleasing Gideon, doing whatever it took to get him, including dishonestly manipulating him into falling for her in the first place.

He told her he loved her. They had sex. They had sex again. He thinks of another girl and WHAM! she breaks up with him. Without talking to him or giving him a chance.

It's as if the writer has decided to follow the Twilight lead and is muttering to herself, "Okay, book two, they have to break up."

It just didn't fit.

But, okay, now they are broken up. The author can cross that off her checklist. Enter The Other Girl.

The Other Girl is the spectacularly beautiful Pilar, who Molly has always envied, and who she worries the most about, because of course Gideon notices how attractive Pilar is.

And, for some reason, Molly suddenly begins to see inside Pilar's head instead of Gideon's.

And, wow, after being inside Pilar's head, Molly realizes that Pilar may be beautiful, but she actually has problems of her own!

And that's basically the message behind the book, which is so subtle (yes, I am being sarcastic) that no teen girl reading The Other Girl will ever realize she is being preached to about tolerance.

Which gets us back, again, to the quality of the writing itself.

In addition to shallow characterization and little errors like using "worse" when she means "worst," there's this strange analogy where a character falls for something like, the author suggests, Lance Armstrong falls for steroids.

Which anyone who follows cycling knows is so far from Armstrong's attitude--the man is the poster boy for clean cyclists and fought testicular cancer for heaven's sake--that I actually had to put the book down in disgust.

And The Other Girl is just laced with profanity, most of it sexual in nature. For example, one of the teachers is brilliantly nicknamed "Cockweed."

Again, I know kids swear, especially teens. We have always taught our own kids, though, that swearing just to swear just makes it easier for others not to listen to what you have to say. We try to model that kind of behavior.

In other words, I'm not into gratuitous use of profanity. And The Other Girl is really over the top when it comes to this.

So, summing it up: lots of sex, lots of profanity, shallow characters, preachiness and bad writing.

Viv's take: Unless you like insulting and demeaning stereotypes, gratuitous profanity, casual teen sexuality and sub-par writing, give The Other Girl a pass.

He Gave Us the Time of Our Lives

Last night, Patrick Swayze passed away, after a long bout with pancreatic cancer.

To those of you who might be thinking, "It wasn't that long," although I agree with you that he left us way too soon, pancreatic cancer is an aggressive cancer, and Swayze's nearly two-year long fight after his diagnosis is a triumph to medical science and his own iron will.

As a teenager, I fell in love, as so many of us girls did, with Swayze's Dirty Dancing character, Johnny, and the whole romantic scene: a teen girl, a summer vacation, learning to dance with this sexy older guy who then falls in love with her.

Didn't we all want to be Baby? Didn't we all want to be rescued from that corner?

Swayze and his wife, who is also an incredible dancer and appeared in Dirty Dancing with him, Lisa Niemi, were married for 34 years. In Hollywood.

If that doesn't tell you all you need to know about how well-grounded and strong a man he really was, what will?

Mourning his passing, I am reminded of, and comforted by this line from his movie with Whoopi Goldberg, Ghost:

"The love inside? You take it with you."

Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance

Americans don't remember many dates from our history classes.

Years, maybe.

The Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776.

We went to the moon in 1969.

"In fourteen-hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue..."

But there's one date that we didn't learn in history class, a date where we all remember exactly where we were.

And that date is 9/11.

Today, in honor of the many innocents who died--at ground zero, in the Pentagon, in a small field in Pennsylvania--Americans are observing a National Day of Service and Remembrance.
Led by the 9/11 non-profit MyGoodDeed, 9/11 families and others worked for more than seven years to establish September 11 as a National Day of Service and Remembrance -- finally securing passage of legislation in April 2009, within the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which authorized the creation of the 9/11 observance. Since that time, MyGoodDeed has organized an unprecedented coalition of organizations that have come together to engage not only Americans, but people from around the world.
Since its inception in 2002, supporters of MyGoodDeed have pledged to perform more than a million acts of service, spanning all 50 states and some 170 countries and territories. This year, tens of thousands have visited the organization’s website,, since its early August launch to pledge their good deeds. Thousands have also posted their service plans for 9/11 at the federal government’s volunteer service website,

MyGoodDeed has also announced that it will host an exhibit on the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance under the Tents at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, where it will also launch an online auction for charity, featuring donations from top designers including Donna Karan, Tracy Reese, Carmen Marc Valvo, Phillip Lim, Vivenne Tam, Tommy Hilfiger and many others. More information on the auction can be found at

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Brain Fuel for Back to School!

Did your kids suffer from "summer amnesia" while school was out?

Here's one way to find out: head on over to Lumosity's BrainFuel website. Check out the resources there, including their Brain Food, Healthy Brain, Brain Forum and Brain Games sections!

I tried out the Brain Games (and you can, too, as they offer a free 14-day trial) with the Rhino, and here's what we experienced.

So, first we logged in to Lumosity for Brain Training! There's a complete brain fitness program, with 40 sessions in all, 5 games per session, so your kids can not only play fun games designed to challenge their brain and help develop their memory and matching skills, they can track their progress as they continue to improve. These games are very popular now, with similar offerings on the Nintendo DS and the like.

During the registration step for BrainFuel, you can choose to enter as little or as much as you like about your child, including finding their email contacts so that they can invite their friends and chart their progress alongside them (we elected not to do this).

So, onto the Brain Training games! In our first session, we played Word Bubbles, where we had to come up with as many words as we could starting with the three given letters. This could be tough, as when the first three letters were "tem" and we had already gone through easy ones like temper and temperature, found temerity...and then had to run through our alphabet, "tema, temb..." for more.

Then came a matching game, where we had to remember symbols on cards to determine if we had a match. Reminded me of the classic Concentraion game, only the symbols here were (I think) Chinese characters. Kids do well on these, and I think the standardized testing the schools give each year really tie in well to games where they have to remember patterns.

We really enjoyed Bird Watching! This was our favorite game, probably because the Rhino and I are animal lovers. In the game, a bird and a letter would appear, briefly, on the screen. We had to: click where the bird appeared, remember the letter that showed up with the bird, then fill the letters into blanks, "hangman" style, to find the bird's name. When we did, we'd get a photo and history of that particular bird.

We excelled at the Raindrop game, in which each raindrop contained an equation to solve before the puddle filled up with raindrops. Easy peasy for my math whiz, until it started raining fast!

Lastly came Monster Garden, in which monsters flashed briefly on a grid, and we then had to safely lead a gardener around the monsters to reach the flower she was growing. We didn't realize at first that in the bonus round, we were supposed to uncover the monsters again.

In addition to the Brain Games, of course, your kids can also check out the Brain Health section for articles about the brain (including cool facts like the amount of fat the average brain contains), Brain Food to determine how their nutrition choices affect their brains, and the Brain Forum to ask their own brainy questions!

I enjoyed exploring the BrainFuel website, and I think your kids would have a lot of fun at least trying out the 14-day trial membership. You can then elect to go for longer memberships for a fee, or give a membership as a gift to your kid's friends (a gift even their parents will approve of!).

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of BrainFuel and received an insulated lunch bag from California Innovations to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Heffalumps and Woozles! Pooh Movie Giveaway

When the Owl was a little boy, he wasn't yet known as the Owl.

He was Piglet.

Small for his age and a little anxious, he loved to watch the Winnie the Pooh cartoon, and Piglet, naturally, was his favorite.

I even sewed him a Piglet costume one Halloween for the pre-school parade, and since my skills as a seamstress usually max out at the "putting a button back on" stage, that's saying something.

He was adorable as Piglet.

Eventually (sadly), he grew out of the Winnie the Pooh stage. I still love Pooh and the gang (my husband and I will sing, "Little Black Rain Cloud" when it's thundering, or say we have a "rumbly in our tumbly" when we're hungry to this day).

And of course little Piglet has a special place in our hearts still.

So naturally we all enjoyed Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie because in our minds Piglet was the star--the brave, loyal friend that always stands up for his buddy, Pooh.

Now, Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie is available on DVD, and Piglet's buddy Pooh comes right along with it, all dressed up in his Halloween costume--He's Tigger!

If you don't own a copy, I can personally HIGHLY recommend this DVD for your family as the perfect Halloween alternative for younger kids. They won't be traumatized by the spooky yet kid-friendly special, and all their favorite Winnie the Pooh characters are included in the fun. Plus, no one can resists, "Heffalumps and Woozles!"

You can WIN Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie, complete with adorable Plush Pooh in his Tigger costume, from Cool Moms Rule!

To enter (required for all): leave a comment below this post with your child's favorite character from Winnie the Pooh! I'd love to know (if you've decided yet) what all the kids are going to be dressed up as this Halloween, too, so please do share!

Additional entry methods (optional), please leave a comment for each:
  • Tweet this contest--please use the hashtag #coolmomsrule
  • Blog about the giveaway
  • Follow CoolMomsRule on Twitter
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Contest ends September 30th, so you'll have your copy of Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie and your plush Pooh to snuggle in time for Halloween!

Friday, September 4, 2009

OH, I Wish I Were an Oscar Mayer...

..Lunchable. (Thought I was going to say weiner, didn't you? I'm full of surprises like that.)

Oscar Mayer Lunchables are what we're here to discuss today, people, and if you think you know what that means, you might be surprised.

That's because Oscar Mayer Lunchables have been given a makeover. They're still budget-friendly and filling, but now they're health conscious, too.

The new line of healthier food choices from Oscar Mayer Lunchables are called "better-for-you," and I had a chance to try them out.

My overall impression was really favorable, because what was inside the box was similar to the kind of lunch we might have at home.

Only (yay!) I didn't have to do a lot of prep work.

The Lunchable I tried out consisted of ham, cheese and crackers, which is great, because those are all typical fare for us during the hot summer months.

We don't like to eat heavy meals when it's really hot outside, so we typically cut up some cheese and crackers, maybe some ham. I liked the convenience of not having to cut up cheese and ham this time.

For a healthy "dessert", we usually also add some apple slices.

The new Oscar Mayer Lunchables, rather than apple slices, came with chocolate chip cookies, which I can also get behind. This weekend, we've got a household full of teen guys spending the night for Labor Day, and chocolate chip cookies are a HUGE hit with the neverending pits that are teenagers' stomachs. I'm planning on making a batch myself.

So my boys naturally also loved he idea of chocolate chip cookies. So that's all good.

The Lunchables drink was a bottled water, and I like that, since these are meant to be taken to school and so need to be portable (I'm trying to cut down on my own bottled water intake, because of the bad effects on the environment from all the bottles). Water is a good choice, and healthy. Thing is, there's also some KoolAid brand flavored powder in the Lunchable, and that would be the one feature I'm not so keen on. You've already got the chocolate chip cookies, so you don't really need a 'sweet' to complete the meal.

I know that we are dealing with standard lunch fare for kids here, and kids like sweets, so I understand why they went with KoolAid, a perennial favorite, but I would have preferred a natural fruit drink instead of the water plus powder combo.

My kids, though, especially the Rhino, really liked the idea of pouring the powder into the water and shaking it up for some KoolAid on the spot. That's like magic to him. Sweet, sweet magic.

So the kids' response was very positive, and the drink, as I say, was my only complaint.

And it's hardly worth mentioning, because I really do like the new better-for-you Lunchables. Not just for the healthier content, which is a plus, but also because my kids would actually eat these, even at school when lunch time in just 25 minutes and they're in a hurry. Lots of finger foods, easy and quick and filling. That's perfect for school lunch.

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central on behalf of Oscar Mayer Lunchables and received a sample to facilitate my candid review. In addition, Mom Central sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.span style.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Night Runner Book Review (YA)

Max Turner's newest Young Adult book, Night Runner, has a lot to recommend it.

First, nobody sparkles.

And second? No vampire romance.

The trend for vampire-themed young adult books really caught on, of course, after the Twilight trilogy, and I've reviewed some of those books as well as the House of Night series here on the blog before.

But it's nice to find that, even in this wildly popular genre, there are a few surprises left.

As a boy living in a mental health facility, Zack, the protagonist, draws your interest right away.

He's lived in the Nicholls Ward for years, ever since his parents died, and though it sounds like a scary place to hang out, Zack hastens to assure us that it isn't all bad.

Still, life can get pretty lonely. Due to his many strange allergies, Zack can't go out in the sun, and all he can drink are strawberry smoothies made by his friend, nurse Olivia.

Well, of course we know there's more to the story than that, and the truth behind Zack's origins all begin to unravel one night when a stranger on a motorcycle crashes through the front doors and tells Zack to run.

As Zack takes off, we realize that the life he knew is full of secrets and lies.

Though really, we aren't surprised--it would be a pretty boring book if all was as it seemed, wouldn't it?

So, of course Zack's Dad wasn't just an archeologist who died when "ruins" fell on him--he was a famous Vampire Hunter. And Zack, as it happens, was once bitten by a vampire.

If you can't guess what the red stuff in those strawberry smoothies really is by now, you clearly haven't been paying attention.

Night Runner's got a quirky sense of humor that I liked, and the pacing is fast and furious. If I had one complaint about the book it's that, not surprisingly, it's clearly intended as the first in a series, and so there's no real satisfying closure to the ending.

We know that Zack will be coming back again for more adventures.

Still, that's not a bad thing.

Viv's Take: Max Turner's Night Runner: A Novel
officially out today in paperback from St. Martin's Press, is a fun, fast-paced read with a new twist for fans of the Vampire genre, with more on the way.

Announcing our Hallmark Cards winners!

Wow, you could hardly ask for a better shot at winning this giveaway--fully half of you that entered won!

Don't know what happened with this one, I think it fell under your radar (our last contest had over 80-something entries), but anyway, here are the winners of our Hallmark Edge of Motherhood/Coping and Encouragement Cards!

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

3 6 5

Timestamp: 2009-09-01 15:52:12 UTC

And comments 3, 5 and 6 were, in order:

wild thunder said...

These cards are great and fun. Thanks for the contest.

Julie said...

I am a Hallmark Fan. I really like the Edge of Motherhood cards. I live out of state from my family and send cards quite abit to them.

Jackie said...

These cards are great! I would definitely send the Edge of Motherhood cards to my sisters...and I think the Encouragement Cards for kids are a great way to boost their confidence and to let them know you are thinking about them!

So, congratulations to wild thunder, Julie and Jackie! I need your shipping addresses for the cards, sent directly from our friends at Hallmark.
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