Thursday, July 30, 2009

What do you see? Win Timeless Classics for your kids on CD!

If you've been reading the blog for a while, or at least checked out the Holiday Gift Guide back in December, you'll know that I am a huge fan of MacMillan, the book publishers that also offer superior quality books on CD through their audio department.

I first became acquainted with MacMillan Audio through the House of Night series, which has, bar none, the best narrating I've ever heard on CD. All the voices are spot on, the narrator's enunciation and mood change to flow along with the storyline--it's excellent, and I can tell you now that I find their stuff head and shoulders above the other stuff out there.

MacMillan Audio's Young Reader series grow along with your child's ability: they come with both the CD for when kids are just learning how to read, and gorgeously illustrated books for once they have mastered the art.

And MacMillan Audio's CD and book combos are a huge help for busy Moms as well. You can just pop the CD into the car's player while you're driving and relax to some peace and quiet while your child drinks in the pictures in the book and listens along to sterling narration by voices like Gwyneth Paltrow (more on that in a moment).

Or let your older kids read aloud along with the CD, and see how well their comprehension and reading skills are developing with each exposure to the written word.

Cool Moms Rule! is giving away two gorgeous MacMillan Audio Young Readers' CD and book combo offerings that I know you are going to love!

First, we have The Scrambled States of America:
At the first annual "states party," Virginia and Idaho hatch a plan to swap spots so each can see another part of the country. Before the party is over, all the states decide to switch places. In the beginning, every state is happy in its new location. But soon things start to go wrong. Will the states ever unscramble themselves and return to their proper places?

Packed with madcap humor and whimsical illustrations, this quirky story-starring all fifty states-is chock-full of introductory facts and silly antics that will make learning geography as much fun as taking a vacation.
Along with The Scrambled States of America, I'm excited that we are also giving away one of my favorite kids' books by one of my favorite authors. Eric Carle, who also wrote the adorable Very Hungry Caterpillar, and Bill Martin Jr. created Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? forty years ago, and it's having an anniversary!
Four decades ago, Bill Martin Jr and Eric Carle collaborated on their first book together, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Since then, Brown Bear has become a perpetual favorite for generations of teachers, parents, and children, selling more than 7 million copies in various formats and languages.

To celebrate Brown Bear’s 40th birthday, this special anniversary edition is a larger size, has an updated cover, and includes an audio CD. Brown Bear fans will be able to read along with the story as it’s read on the CD (by Gwyneth Paltrow!) and hear the author and illustrator talk about this beloved book.
Here's how to enter and win:
Just leave a comment on this post to enter the giveaway for BOTH book/CD sets.

For additional entries:
Blog about this contest, tweet about it, or add my button to your site. Just leave me the link! You can also subscribe to our feed, follow the blog or follow coolmomsrule on Twitter.

Whichever entry methods you choose please remember to LEAVE AN EMAIL ADDRESS in your comment so that we can contact you if you win!

Contest ends Friday, August 6th at midnight EST.

Good Luck!

Macmillan has lots of children's and teen's titles in hardcover and paperback, too. Check out some of their bestsellers, like the latest from Allison Noel's Immortal Series,
Blue Moon.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Kellogg's Cinnabon Snack Bars Deliver!

The Owl has braces, and any of you Moms whose kids are suffering along with him know that sometimes, it just hurts too much to chew when those bands get tightened.

As Moms, though, we do have to feed our kids, darn it, and so we end up cajoling and pleading with them to try a banana or a milkshake or mac and cheese, something soft that we can entice them to eat while they are going through those tough times.

The Owl's weaknesses include the aforementioned mac and cheese, blueberry muffins, and Cinnabon cinnamon rolls.

This love for cinnamon doesn't surprise me. I have a sweet tooth myself, and I heard once that the scent of cinnamon causes an immediate response in many of us--this warm, friendly, welcoming scent of cinnamon triggers memories of "home": baked goods fresh from the oven.

Well, Kellogg's must know that, because their latest cinnamony good snack hit a home run in our family.

Now, instead of heading out to the mall for a Cinnabon, we can unwrap Kellogg's Cinnabon Snack Bars instead.

What I think makes these treats even better than their sticky bun counterparts, though, is that in addition to the sugar and cinnamon filling and cream cheese frosting, each Kellogg's Cinnabon Snack Bar weighs in at just 150 calories.

So Moms can indulge our sweet tooth, too, without feeling guilty.

Not that, you know, I eat them all the time or anything.

But, when I do?

I like to microwave mine for just a few seconds, for that "just baked" taste. ; )

I'm a Mom Central reviewer, and posted this entry as part of their blog tour!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Important News About Sleep Apnea and Your Child

More than 10% of children suffer from snoring part or most of the night while sleeping. Though snoring in itself is not debilitating (I've been known to snore myself), your child’s loud snoring can be an indicator of a far more serious problem-- Sleep Apnea.

According to Dr. Dan Smith of the Focus Center for Sleep Apnea and Snoring, “Approximately 100 to 200 million Americans suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Sleep Apnea can cause long-term health risks such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and impotency.”

Below is Dr. Smith’s list of the 4 symptoms of Sleep Apnea that should not be ignored:

  • Snoring that is loud enough to wake your child up is the first indicator of OSA, according to Dr. Smith. This is not the occasional snort or two but that incessant, honking-level snoring.
  • If your child ceases breathing intermittently while sleeping. When OSA occurs, the tongue can be sucked against the back of the throat. This blocks the upper airway and airflow stops or is greatly diminished.
  • Suddenly waking up because he or she can not breathe and has shortness of breath or gasping. This is directly linked to symptom #2, says Dr. Smith. When the oxygen level in the brain becomes low enough due to the blockage, the sleeper partially awakens, the obstruction in the throat clears, and the flow of air starts again, usually with a loud gasp.
  • If your child is excessively drowsy during the day. This does not mean hitting the proverbial wall at 3 pm that a quick snack can fix or throwing a temper tantrum due to exhaustion. This means actually accidentally falling asleep during the day (not during nap time).

While snoring is typically a problem that is associated with men, it is a condition that does not discriminate. Dr. Smith says men, women and children can suffer from OSA. It is one of the most misdiagnosed medical problems – especially in children.

Loud and regular nightly snoring is often abnormal in otherwise healthy children. If a child suffers from OSA, he or she may be getting too little oxygen and too much carbon dioxide. This condition can lead to poor heart and lung development, behavioral problems, and even death if unchecked.

Thankfully, health centers like the Focus Sleep Center have opened to help diagnose and treat sleep apnea.

This post was intended as informational and educational and was not sponsored in any way.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Kideos is the Kid-Friendly YouTube

I've written about YouTube here on the blog before, way back in the day, and while I think it is a great site for older kids and adults, there is often...questionable content that is just not appropriate for younger kids.

My guys are teens now, but for those of you with elementary school-aged children, a new site which just went live last week might be the answer.

Kideos is an online entertainment destination for kids that features videos parents have approved, in an easy to use environment that kids can navigate on their own.

Kideos, a product of Earlier Media, features popular children’s videos, from Elmo to Thomas, with a kid-friendly interface within a safe environment.

Central to Kideos’ value proposition is the site’s Video Advisory Council, a group of parents and educators who screen content before it appears on the site. Once videos are reviewed by the Council, they are categorized and sorted into age-based groups factoring in developmental criteria and recommendations from leading experts nationwide. This process was put in place by Earlier Media with the goal of giving parents confidence that the content on Kideos is appropriate, safe and entertaining for children.

Additionally, the site offers parents their own personalization tools to limit videos shown to their children by selecting the appropriate age-based category. Once chosen, children will only be able to view videos specifically targeted towards their exact age group.

“Children are using the Internet for entertainment at a very young age,” said Josh Solt, COO of Earlier Media. “We built Kideos to provide children an easy way to watch their favorite videos while giving their parents peace of mind that their kids are viewing safe, age-appropriate programs.”

New content is added to the site daily after it is reviewed by the Council so kids have a fresh experience with each visit.

Content includes children’s television shows, movies, educational videos, music videos, cute animals, and more. For more information, please visit

This post was not sponsored in any way.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Making Babies (happy)!

Did you know that August is the busiest birth month of the year?

Neither did I, but apparently more than 400,000 babies are born in the month of August alone, and that means (groan) baby presents.

Now, I actually love shopping for baby presents, because I adore cute little baby outfits with the tiny socks and booties and all the rest, but we all know that parents-to-be are very picky when it comes to their precious anticipated arrival, and who came blame them?

I was recently sent a link to delightful store which, while pricey for baby gifts, really does cater to the more discerning expectant parents out there, and I wanted to share some of the adorable nightlights from their site with you.

I think nightlights make a lovely gift for a new Mom and baby. Stumbling in the dark for those 3 o'clock feedings doesn't do anyone any good, and baby does not want to wait to be fed! So check out these adorable Owl, Bunny, and Toadstool nightlights, each retailing for (*gulp*) $85 over at Kisan Concept Store.

Kisan Concept Store carries a number of global brands (the nightlights pictured are all from a German company, Heico). Checking the website, I see that they are offering a summer sale on items, from 30% to 70% off right now.

Kisan Concept Store is currently take mail and phone orders, but will be offering e-commerce starting in (you guessed it) the biggest baby month of the year, August!

This post was not sponsored in any way.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

My Secret Circle: No Boyz Allowed!

If your kids are like mine, when they go online they spend most of their time chatting on the internet with their friends. I like one aspect of this social networking the best, which is them connecting with their school friends during the summer months, especially since their friends don't live just down the street.

In the old days, of course, we just picked up a telephone, but kids these days rely on the internet, and though I like that my kids are computer savvy, like any parent I want to make sure they're safe online. I don't mind them chatting with their friends--but how do I know *who* they are chatting with? And how do they know that the people they are chatting with online are who they say they are?

My Secret Circle is a fabulous solution for parents of girls that worry about who their kids are connecting with online. It's one of those ideas that, when you hear it, you just have to slap your forehead and go, "Why didn't I think of that?!"

Designed for girls 8-12, My Secret Circle uses proprietary technology to allow girls to talk to their friends--and by friends, I mean only other girls they know IRL on the internet, without being exposed to questionable influences. In fact, there's not even any advertising at the My Secret Circle site to distract them!
Here's how My Secret Circle works:

Parents purchase My Secret Circle Access Keys
for their daughters. The My Secret Circle Access Key™ contains an embedded code that is recognized by My Secret Circle’s™ private browser when connected to your computer. Because this unique code is located in a hardware solution, no personal information, registration or login is ever needed—and no one from the outside world can seek your child out. Also, while entered into the My Secret Circle world, the internet navigation bar is completely stripped away, meaning your child can never navigate outside of the circle to other websites.
Here's what's really cool about My Secret Circle:

Your daughter invites other girls to join her Secret Circle by exchanging, IRL, a unique code. This means that only other girls your daughter has personally met and befriended can find her online. Each girl has her own unique code, which is a 12 digit number generated by the
My Secret Circle Friend Code™ Generator.

The My Secret Circle invitation system
allows your child to print out her Friend Code and create an envelope to trade her Friend Code in person with a real friend of her choice.

What can they do with their friends once they are online?

Well, there's games to play, places to exchange photos (again, remember, only with their real-life friends), a way to keep journals and share them as well, and of course the internet message system for chatting with their friends.

I really like this low-priced solution for parents. All you have to purchase to get started is one My Secret Circle Access Key pack (19.99).

You can choose to buy the BFF friend pack, which includes two keys, one for your daughter and her BFF, or even a headset for voice chat, but those are optional items.

My Secret Circle is available exclusively at Justice.

My take: Hooray! A common-sense, reasonably-priced solution to internet safety for girls ages 8-12! Why didn't we think of this before?


The My Secret Circle folks, who kindly let me a demo unit to test out myself, have also graciously sponsored a giveaway for Cool Moms Rule! readers! One lucky reader will win a My Secret Circle Access Key pack, , valued at 19.95, like the one pictured to the left.

Here's how to enter:

Just leave a comment on this post to enter this giveaway!

For extra entries, Tweet about the giveaway or share it on your Facebook page, blog or other forum, then leave a comment with the link for me here.

That's all there is to it! Contest ends Friday, July 31st.

Good luck!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Our Contest Winners!

Announcing our JoBros and PPP winners!

We picked the winners, as always, with our friend the Random Integer Generator.

First, for the Jonas Brothers: The Concert Experience in 3D giveaway:

The winning numbers were:

6 and 13

Number 6 is valerie2350, who subscribed, tweeted, and follows the blog (yes, she really wanted to win this!). Valerie wanted to win for her niece, who I'm sure will be thrilled with her very cool aunt!

As for number 13, that's Tamara B., who made me laugh with this comment:
I would love to win because my hormonal tween daughter is driving me crazy with wanting this.
She also subscribed and followed the blog--see how those exra entries help?

Now, on to the Princess Protection Program BFF Extended Edition winners!

The winning numbers were:

19, 25

Our 19th commenter was Michele P., who is following the blog and on twitter. Michele P said:

I would want it because it is a totally cool movie for my 7 yr old daughter to watch with me!

Then the 25th commenter, and our last winner to be announced is...


Robin said...
I want to win because my 8 year old niece and I watched this the other day and she went crazy over it saying how much she loved it. I'm sure she'd feel the same way with the actual dvd. :)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Tuck's for a Sensitive...Subject

When you're about to become a Mom for the first time, and going through all the stages of pregnancy, everything from swollen ankles to stretch marks, you'll get a lot of advice.

I find that often the best advice doesn't come from experts--or at least not experts like doctors and scientists so much, but Moms themselves*. These are the women that will remind you to keep crackers by your bed for morning sickness and assure you that it's okay to wear a bikini when your stomach is the size of a bowling ball.

But even the closest Moms don't usually get into the touchiest subject that's likely to come up during or after pregnancy: hemorrhoids.

I know, you are about to close your browser and run from the room.

"Eww, gross!"

I can hear you now.

But this is something we really do need to talk about, Moms, because if we don't, we end up in the drugstore at midnight with no clue how to handle that itching, burning pain in an area we, well, really don't want to think about most of the time.

I didn't have to deal with hemorrhoids after my pregnancies--I was lucky that way, though I doubt two C-sections in less than two years would qualify on most Top Ten lists under "Lucky." For me, it was after my hysterectomy some 7 years ago.

It can be a scary thing, when you first experience them, because you can start worrying that you have a really SERIOUS problem going on. No one likes to think "bottom" and "blood" in the same sentence. So, in that sense, knowing it's "just hemorrhoids" can be a relief.

But the discomfort is something else entirely.

Burning, itching...ugh.

Fortunately, I found that in the past, when I had to face the situation, a couple things helped me.

First, I swear by the wet cleansing cloths that some of the toilet tissue brands have out there now. If we had bidets in this country, I would have one in my bathroom, but since we don't, I find they are the second best solution to, you know, feeling completely clean. And it's extremely important for the healing process.

And then, to actually deal with the hemorrhoids, medicate and eradicate them, you can't beat Tucks.

Not only do Tucks brand medicated products provide soothing relief, with Tucks Hemorrhoidal Ointment, Hydrocortisone Anti-Itch Ointment and Medicated Pads, but Tucks also has a line of Take Alongs, and all of their products offer effective treatment for hemorrhoids.

Take Alongs are medicated towelettes that offer a convenient way to treat hemorrhoid symptoms on the go. So you can go when you're on the go! ; )

Sorry, bad joke.

I like the Tucks Take Alongs especially, for when I have to spend too much time sitting on a plane or riding in a car seat and need a little relief in the evening. The Hydrocortisone Anti-Itch Ointment is also great on active days, for instance if you are going hiking or will be walking a lot.

And the thing is, Tucks are easy to find, and you'd be surprised how many people, women especially, use them. You're not going to get singled out with any embarrassing attention for just picking up some Tucks.

So, now you know, from another Mom, what you need for that embarrassing "little problem."

You're welcome. ; )

*I do know Moms are scientists and doctors too, so please don't send me hate mail!

Pssst...Want to Know a Secret?

Lee Jeans has a secret! Not only do their new Slender Secret Jeans have 49% stretch for a flattering fit without a baggy bottom...they're also offering FREE SHIPPING to Cool Moms Rule! readers.

Just enter SECRET at the checkout through August 31st and your Lee Slender Secret Jeans ship free!

I'm proud to be a Lee Fit Ambassador!

Num Num Nut Clusters

I've been munching on a new snack lately that has two of my key requirements: tastes good and is good for me.

Okay, sometimes I scrimp on the second requirement, but in this case I'm being good. ; )

Nature Valley has these new Nut Cluster snacks, and they're really good! Even the Engineer, who scoffs at healthy food in general (don't even talk to him about vegetables) likes these.

Nut clusters are nuts with granola and a touch of honey added, and Nature Valley Nut Clusters come in several varieties. A small handful makes for a satisfying, protein-filled snack that also hits your sweet tooth just right.

My favorite are the roasted almonds, and the Engineer is an almond fan too. We also like the roasted cashews, because cashews are a guilty pleasure of mine even though when I eat too much of them I break out sometimes--you know it's love when you're getting hives and you're still whining, "But they taste so good!"

Right now, you can save $1 on Nut Clusters by visiting the Nature Valley website and printing up a coupon.

In addition to the Roasted Almond and Roasted Cashew, you can choose Honey Roasted Peanut and, in case you can't make up your mind, the Nut Lovers Nut Cluster!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Modern Rock!

There's no doubt that Mom Central is full of cool Moms--they've teamed up for a blog tour with Activision's Guitar Hero on Tour: Modern Hits for the DS.

You may remember that I recommended Guitar Hero on Tour: Decades in our Holiday Gift Guide. Well, this latest version of the Guitar Hero series not only doesn't disappoint, it delivers even more fun with 28 master tracks from influential artists including Coldplay, Fall Out Boy, Tenacious D, The Strokes and Weezer and LOTS of new multiplayer options.

I am hardly, by the way, a Guitar Hero myself. I've played the games, and I'd say I stack up more as a Guitar Goat. Or possibly a roadie.

But despite my lack of hand-and-eye coordination (or any musical talent whatsoever), I had lots of fun playing Guitar Hero On Tour: Modern Hits on the DS.

I worked my way through the "Opening Act" songs and I'm ready to become a big star--if only I DON'T play against my (much more talented) kids.

I do find the DS interface a little more challenging than the console version of the game. It's very well-designed, in that it comes with a special attachment that allows you to "play" the notes with one hand while strumming your stylus on the DS with with the other. If, you know, you're coordinated.

I'm left-handed, and the game even offers an option for us that allows us to switch the screen around completely and even flip the colors of the notes so that it is left-hand friendly.

Even so, it's a bit of a stretch to get my fingers around and push down the color-coded buttons. And my fingers are pretty long.

I found it easiest to work with the DS not completely "open", so that my fingers can wrap around but I can still work the stylus with the other hand and see the screen fully. I was able to play pretty well this way, meaning that I can get "Star Power" on the first few songs and even get the audience (obviously not too picky) behind me.

My kids can generally get 100% through a whole song, but I am challenging myself to reach a 90% level once I'm past the easy intro music.

GHOT: Modern Hits
doesn't stop with just challenging yourself, though. I'm really impressed, as someone who likes to game and really values repeat playability (which may be a term I just invented, but you know what I mean), with how many multiplayer options this game has.

First off, there's Face Off, which lets players each choose specially designed guitar tracks and play head-to-head, each with their own personal difficulty level chosen. This works well when one player (me) is not as advanced as another player (my kids).

Then there's Pro Face Off, which has the players go head-to-head with the same track, and the same difficulty level.

But it doesn't stop there, and this is what really makes GTOH: Modern Hits rock, to me.

Players can opt for Co-Op multiplayer, where they play a song together, one player taking the lead guitar and the other playing Bass or Rhythm.

Or they can have a Guitar Duel, which is really fun. Players pick up "battle items" as they play, like broken strings and dud notes (bombs), which they can send to the other player to mess them up! Hilarity ensues. At least when I play, anyway. Broken strings freak me out so much I just fall completely apart. This option had me laughing out loud.

Finally, if one player has the older GHOT: Decades and the other has the newer GHOT: Modern Hits, they can use the multiplayer capability for Song Sharing, sending approved songs to each other!

If you can find the right fit for your hand and really get to rockin' with the DS, I highly recommend Guitar Hero on Tour: Modern Hits for parents, tweens and teens to all play against each other. If you, ahem, listened to my recommendations last year, you'll already have Guitar Hero on Tour: Decades, and you can all play against each other!

My take: Guitar Hero on Tour: Modern Hits is a Must-have for your DS games collection!
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.