Tuesday, March 31, 2009

LeapFrog TAG Winner!!

It is the last day of National Reading Month and I celebrated by picking the winner of my LeapFrog TAG giveaway.

So without further ado, I give you...

Congratulations to Melanie, who pledged to read 25 minutes a day.

I don't have your email address, Melanie, so you need to get in touch with me by April 4th to claim your prize. Otherwise I'll have random.org pick me another winner. Email your address to stimeyland at gmail dot com. Update: Melanie has been located! Congrats, Melanie!

Thanks to everyone who entered, and I hope you all had a great time reading to your kids this month. Keep it up next month too!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Dawn of the Dead (2004 version)

Stimey is watching the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead. This was the movie that made me love zombie movies. And I think it stands the test of time as one of the best zombie movies that has been made. It has a great cast, is well written, and has nice character development. Plus, it features the scary running zombies, not the wussy staggering ones. (Although I will admit that both types carry their own appeal.)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Stork Snapshots Giveaway!

Attention, pregnant ladies! (And friends of pregnant ladies!)

I have a wonderful boutique to tell you about and a fantastic giveaway to offer you. I have three kids and with each one, the ultrasounds we got were highlights of the pregnancy. I never got a fancy 3D ultrasound, but I've always thought they seemed really neat.

Stork Snapshots is a Chicago-area ultrasound, maternity spa and boutique. They offer many different kinds of ultrasounds sessions (lasting no longer than 30 minutes each with a maximum of 2 sessions per pregnancy—20 weeks to term), including 2D, 3D, and 4D (live image) ultrasounds.

And if you're interested in more than just your beautiful baby, they offer spa services including maternity massages and facials, plus a gift boutique.

I've never been to this boutique, but they have a page full of testimonials that you can check out for yourself.

Jill from the Momtrepreneur Maven got in touch with me about Stork Snapshots on behalf of mom/owner Pat Chiamas-Ebeling to offer my readers an exciting giveaway. Even though I will (God-willing) never need an obstetric ultrasound again, I would have loved to have won this when I was pregnant, so I jumped at the chance to offer this to you.

Enter for a chance to win a Teddy Heartbeat Bear. (Your teddy bear may not match the photo to the left.) Moms can come in to the studio as early as 15 weeks to record their baby's heartbeat with a Doppler ultrasound. Stork Snapshots then puts the recording in a teddy bear. Every time you squeeze its tummy, you will hear your baby's heart beat.

The winner would get the Heartbeat Bear (worth $49.99) even without purchasing an accompanying ultrasound.

So if you are in the Chicago area and are pregnant, please enter the contest. Or if you have a Chicago-area friend who is pregnant and you want to give her the best gift at the baby shower, enter this contest. Or, if you don't live anywhere near Chicago, but will be pregnant when you're in Chicago for BlogHer in July, enter this contest!

To enter, leave a comment with your favorite baby name that you didn't use (mine is Carlisle—Carly for short). If you want an additional entry, tweet about the contest and leave a second comment with a link to your tweet letting me know that you have done so. And make sure you leave me an email address!

And definitely check out Stork Snapshots. They look like a very cool boutique, and it's a mom-owned business.

Entries must be in by midnight EST on April 4. Good luck!

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Fog (1980 version)

Stimey is watching The Fog—the 1980 version with Jamie Lee Curtis. This is maybe the least scary "horror" movie I've ever seen. By the time I realized how bored I was, I had already devoted too much time to the movie to turn it off.I'm still not entirely sure what it was about. Something about lepers and then there was a gold cross and a dude with red, glowing eyes. Whatevs.

Monday, March 16, 2009

USTA: Quickstart Tennis

When I was in high school I had a friend who loved tennis. He was always looking for a court, looking for someone to play with, and looking for backup duplicates of his favorite tennis racket. He tried to suck me into playing, and it almost worked. I bought a racket and would play with him occasionally. My first semester at college I took a tennis class.

I think I've played twice since then.

When I look at this scenario, I know what side I want my kids on. I don't want them to be the lazy, don't-care-about-outdoor-sports person that I was. I want them to be the addicted to tennis and soccer and running and basketball and whatever else keeps them happy, healthy, and fit.

I'm thrilled that the US Tennis Association sent us some equipment and materials about their QuickStart Tennis program which is specially designed to use fun, easy equipment and methods to teach kids to successfully learn to play and love the game.

There are programs for kids 8 and under and 10 and under (find one in your area or learn to teach your kids yourself). USTA offers Jr. Team Tennis programs that brings kids together to play singles and doubles tennis in a league. It sounds like a great way to help your kids make friends and get some fun exercise too.

The way this program is different is that the courts are smaller and the nets are lower, making it easier for kids to get the hang of the equipment.

The equipment is cool too. The balls are either foam or low compression. This means that the they bounce lower and travel slower, making it easier for kids to rally the ball. The rackets are smaller too, making it easier for little kids to handle them.

When we went to the park to try out the equipment for the first time, we had a great time. We hit some balls against the wall, tossed some balls at the kids, and tried out some of the exercises in the training manual. I have to say that my kids really loved it. Like crazy loved it. Like they'd be thrilled to play tennis every weekend if we'd let them.

And really, isn't that fantastic? Sam (my 7-year-old) in particular really loved it. And he was surprisingly good. Even on the first visit to the tennis court, he was figuring out how to hit the balls. (Trust me. He clocked me with one of them. He might be good at this game.)

I'm excited to keep working through the exercises in the training manual. And I'm hopeful that maybe tennis will be one of the sports my kids grow up to love. Just like my friend back in high school.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Stimey is watching Blindness. This movie is a pretty faithful adaptation of the book by José Saramago. I loved this book so much when I first read it. I had a difficult time imagining how well a movie could capture it. I don't remember critics liking the movie version very much, but I did. I think it captured really well what is a simple but horrifying idea: What if suddenly something unexpected and terrible happened and we discovered how fragile our society really was?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Babes

I am always interested in quality parenting advice, so when MotherTalk offered me the opportunity to review Dyan Eybergen's book Out of the Mouths of Babes: Parenting from a Child's Perspective, I jumped on the chance.

I was even more intrigued after hearing that there was a section on self-esteem, which is something I am very interested in, especially having an autistic child, who will probably have to deal with some self-esteem issues in his not too far away future.

Eybergen is a pediatric psychiatric nurse, and has spent many years working as a therapist and parent educator. And she has three boys, so you see where I might be interested in what she has to say. (I also have three boys. And I spent many years in therapy.)

Her main premise is that what will work for one child will not necessarily work for another and that you need to tailor your parenting to the personality of each individual child. Considering each of my children is wildly different from his two brothers, I fully ascribe to this theory.

She breaks the book down into chapters on bedtime/sleeping, toilet training, fears, eating, sibling rivalry/conflict, sexuality, discipline, and self-esteem. Thankfully, I have passed some of these subjects in my parenting journey. I hope to never need advice on potty training ever again, thank you very much!

I didn't necessarily agree with everything in this book, but I think Eybergen has a lot of good ideas.

For instance, she talks about children who have nightmares. For some kids a "monster spray" might work, but for one of her children, she just had to allow him to sleep on the top bunk because his monster couldn't reach him up there. It was his monster, she reasoned, so it followed his rules. I think this is a wonderful example of using the child's own individual perspective to solve a common problem.

She gives many concrete examples of the creative ways she has dealt with some of the challenges she has faced raising her kids. In deciding how to deal with these challenges, she looks at the child's temperment and personality to help her decide how to deal with the situation.

I liked the chapter on self-esteem, which notes that children are not born with innate self-esteem—they have to learn it. And I agree with her wholeheartedly when she states, "Instilling a healthy self-esteem in our children is the crux of all parenting."

Out of the Mouths of Babes won't give you the answers to all your parenting quandries, but it will give you some ideas for how to come up with your own.

Out of the Mouths of Babes by Dyan Eybergen retails for $14.95.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Win a LeapFrog TAG by Celebrating National Reading Month!

It is not a secret that I love the Leapfrog TAG. LeapFrog sent me one last fall to review. My kids still love it. Quinn in particular tends to carry it around, along with his The Little Engine That Could book. He's probably been responsible for selling more LeapFrog TAG systems in the Maryland suburbs than anyone else.

Now LeapFrog is launching their 1 Million Reading Hours program in conjunction with the NEA's National Reading Month to bring attention to literacy and to encourage families to make time to read together. To participate, go to the 1 Million Reading Hours website and pledge to set aside at least ten minutes a day to read to your child or children. LeapFrog has a goal of reaching a commitment of one million reading hours.

When you sign up, you can print out a coupon for money off Tag books or a TAG reading System at Toys R Us. You can also print out a pledge certificate and an adorable calendar on which you can mark off every day in March that you follow through on your pledge. I pledged 20 minutes a day, which comes to ten hours and 20 minutes this month.

To celebrate National Reading Month, LeapFrog is giving one of my readers a free LeapFrog TAG plus FIVE books to go with it. (LeapFrog will choose the books.) In addition, they will send the winner an expanded-memory LeapFrog School TAG reader and TEN books for the winner to donate to their local library.

How cool would it be to walk into your neighborhood library and hand them that?

To enter, go to the 1 Million Reading Hours site and pledge to read to your kids. Then come back here and let me know how much time you pledged. If you want an extra entry, tweet the contest and then come back and leave a second comment (with a link to your tweet) telling me that you did.

I will be picking a winner through random.org on the last day of National Reading Month on March 31, so make sure to leave your entry comments by midnight EST on Monday, March 30. Make sure you leave me an email address to tell you if you won!

And don't forget, reading to your kids matters, even if it's not National Reading Month, and even if you don't win a LeapFrog TAG. Reading with your kids helps them learn, helps them grow to love books, and can give you some quality cuddling time with them.

Happy reading!

It's come to my attention that no one knows how to link to a tweet. Go to your profile, find the particular tweet you're looking for, click on the "6 minutes ago" or "2 hours ago" or whatever, and it will take you to a page showing only that tweet. There's your link!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Pineapple Express

Stimey is watching Pineapple Express. So...so...funny. The first time I saw this movie, I laughed so hard I cried. Seth Rogan and James Franco, thy names are genius.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sylvania PalPODzzz

I have a love/hate relationship with nightlights. Mainly I would LOVE to have a nightlight for my kids' room, but I have HATED every single nightlight I've ever tried.

I've tried cutesy nightlights that either break immediately or the lightbulb burns out quickly and I can't be bothered to replace it.

Or I don't get that far. If it's easy to get to the bulb to replace it, my children will dismantle it immediately.

I've tried "lifetime" nightlights that are supposed to never burn out. They've all burned out in the first week.

Really, my family and I are a menace to nightlights.

I'd pretty much given up on the nightlight until the Parent Bloggers Network sent me a Sylvania PalPODzzz to try out. Sylvania has a ladybug version in addition to the rocket ship they sent me.

I have to say, I love this nightlight. I love this nightlight a lot. And I'm really not just saying that.

The PalPODzzz plugs into the wall via a cord and the rocket ship can come out of its base, which acts as a charger. And when your kid takes the rocket ship out, it becomes a flashlight.

And this flashlight won't run out of batteries because the base is a charger. (There is a button to turn it off, though.) When fully charged, the flashlight will run for five hours.

When the nightlight is in a lit room, it doesn't light up, but when it gets dark, it automatically lights up. Also, if there is a power outage, it automatically lights up. I love that!

Even better, my kids love it. My five-year-old is a space fanatic and I regularly find him sleeping with the flashlight. And because it's not running on batteries, it doesn't bother me. I just pop it back on its charger and wait for it to charge back up.

My kids have been known in the past to not take very good care of things. But because this has a very clear home and it's fun and easy to take the rocket off and put it back on, they actually put it away when they're done with it. (Unless they fall asleep with it.)

In fact, it disappeared one night, which upset me to no end. But the next morning the rocket had been returned to its charger. I don't know how, I don't know who; all I know is that it was a kid who found it and put it away. Awesome.

If you're looking for a nightlight or a flashlight or something to comfort your child in case of a power outage, I wholeheartedly recommend the Sylvania PalPODzzz.

PalPODzzz retail for $19.99 each.