Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Jamba Juice All Natural Smoothies

Back in the day, when I had disposable income and extra time on my hands, I would regularly go to Jamba Juice to get smoothies. I'd get the Razzmatazz. Yum.

I recently tried out Jamba Juice's new at-home line of smoothies, starting out, of course, with the Razzmatazz. (Also available? Strawberries Wild and Mango-a-go-go.)

I'm not sure what I was expecting to see when I opened the freezer packet, but it wasn't this:

That's right. Nothing but fruit. I was kind of expecting smoothie sludge. I think you know what I mean. Finding chunks of frozen fruit was a happy surprise. Sure, it's nothing you couldn't create yourself, but for lazy-bones like me, this is a super easy way to go about making a healthy smoothie.

Here. Let me show you the nutrition panel. The first three ingredients are fruit. I don't know that I've ever seen that on a nutrition panel.

This is the kind of product I feel all right about feeding to my children.

They're really easy to make too. All you have to do is add juice and blend.

So how do they taste? Really good. Even my son Jack, who never eats fruit, was willing to drink a few sips. And then I finished everything he didn't.

I'll be honest, I didn't have any idea these even existed before I heard from the Jamba Juice marketing people. Check this list to see where they are available in your area. I also have no idea how much they

Honesty Clause: Jamba Juice sent me three smoothie packets to try for review.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Karate Kid (2010)

Stimey is watching The Karate Kid. Even though 2/3 of my kids are generally terrified of movie theaters, we braved it anyway. It was fantastic! All three of my kids loved it, no one was scared, and my oldest wants to move to China and learn Kung Fu. Total win.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

National Autism Resources Store and Blog

There are so many websites that feature autism information and there are many online stores that will sell you toys, therapy aids, and books having to do with autism. National Autism Resources, which runs a blog and a store, recently contacted me, and since perusing their site, I've been really impressed.

Bonnie Arnwine, the founder of National Autism Resources, is the mother of a high schooler with autism and the author of Starting Sensory Integration Therapy: Fun Activities That Won't Destroy Your Home or Classroom. She started National Autism Resources in 2008 to provide easy to understand information, helpful links, and affordable books, games, toys and therapy products for people on the spectrum.

The blog is a fun mix of information for teachers who educate kids with autism, parents, and spotlights on various autism blogs. I especially liked the posts aimed at teachers. They offer a lot of information on how educators can better help autistic kids in mainstream classrooms. It's pretty new, having started only late last year, but there is already some great information there.

The National Autism Resources store is a wonderful resource for information and products. I love the way the products are categorized under umbrella headings such as "Autism Toys & Games," "Surviving Sitting in the Classroom," "Autism Puberty and Adolesence," and so on. It makes it easy to find exactly what you need without having to search all over.

Furthermore, each product category has some information about the therapies or philosophy behind the idea. For instance, the "ABA Therapy and Autism" store section has information about Applied Behavioral Analysis, followed by the products available at the store. It's all very informative and easy to navigate.

National Autism Resources sent me a super squishy dinosaur to try out with Jack. This dinosaur is a fun little fidget that is especially neat because it is filled with little beads inside its rubber shell.

Plus, it's super stretchy. (That's not Jack, by the way.)

I gave it to Jack to fidget with while he did his homework. He doesn't have a great history with fidgets, because they tend to be too distracting for him. He did all right with this one though. Although he did try to rip one of its legs off. (And nearly succeeded, by the way. If your kid is a destroyer, it might be worth keeping an eye on him while he plays with this toy.)

The dinosaur is currently living on our back porch, where he adventures in our sand table.

National Autism Resources is definitely worth checking out and is absolutely worth sending teachers to see, specifically the "Children with Autism in the Classroom" section. It's a great place to go if you are looking for information and products.

Honesty Clause: National Autism Resources sent me a Super Squishy Dinosaur to try out and review. This review is cross-posted at my autism events and information website for Montgomery County, Maryland, AutMont.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Hurt Locker

Stimey is watching The Hurt Locker. Wow. This movie brought up a lot of feelings in me. About the military, about my dad, who was a marine in Vietnam, about Iraq. Really heavy shit. Just wow. It's hard to watch, but a fucking must see.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Netflix on the Wii

I've been a Netflix user for a very, very long time. I think my family might have first signed up for it in 2000. Since then, there have been advances in ways you can access the movies in addition to the usual method of having them mailed to you. But never has it been easier than now that they are available for streaming through the Nintendo Wii video game console.

I have a two-DVD subscription, which means that at any one time I can have two Netflix DVDs in my home. But now that I can watch them through my Wii, I feel like I have an unlimited subscription.

It's really easy to get set up (every Wii can access the internet), and other than the Netflix subscription fee, it's completely free. All you have to do is request to have Netflix send you the disc, which you put into your Wii whenever you want to watch a movie.

It's incredibly easy and almost instantaneous. Netflix has a variety of television series and movies that you can choose from on the Wii, plus you can create your own "Instant Queue" online. You won't be able to watch every movie via the Wii, but any of them that are available to watch on your computer are now available through the Wii. All you have to do is go to Netflix.com and add them to your instant queue.

With your Wii remote you can browse, play, pause, fast forward or rewind instantly, rate movies, and remove them from your queue.

If you stop a movie partway through and exit the program, you can resume from your last stop point the next time you choose to watch. It's great.

My new favorite thing to watch on the Wii are television series. Last summer I spent the entire summer watching the entire series of Battlestar Galactica two discs at a time and cursing mightily at the occasional disc that only had one episode on it. Netflix is fast, but it still takes at least 2-3 days to get a new disc. On the Wii, you can watch as many episodes as you want without having to wait.

Impatience, meet Instant Gratification.

The interface is really easy to navigate and lets you browse through episodes to choose the one you want.

My husband has been watching his favorite News Radio episodes, and I'm in the middle of season one of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It would have taken me months to watch all seven seasons of that before, especially if I wanted to watch any other movies as well. Now I can watch things like Buffy, as well as the two DVDs that I still get and mail back the traditional way.

Really, I'm silly happy about being able to do this. I work from home at a kind of mindless job, so I tend to have the TV on while I do it. Now I have a limitless supply of movies and television shows to keep half my mind busy while I work with the other half.

I've tried to think of any negatives to make this review balanced, but honestly, I can't. I love it. I love it, love it! Buy a Wii, subscribe to Netflix, and happily live out your media saturated life. Just like me.

Honesty Clause: I purchased the Wii myself (well, my husband bought it for me for Christmas a couple of years ago) and I subscribe to Netflix with my own money. I am a Nintendo Brand Enthusiast, but my rave review is my own opinion.

Monday, June 7, 2010

DC Metro Moms Brand & Blogger Symposium

There are a lot of really wonderful things about blogging for DC Metro Moms. They give me a voice that reaches a large audience, they provide lots of opportunities with companies and organizations, and they occasionally host a kick-ass party.

The best thing about writing for DC Metro Moms, however, is the chance to be associated with a huge group of amazing women writers who knock my socks off on a regular basis. Many of them have turned into real-life friends who I see, email, or tweet with often. The rest of them I get to see every once in a while at events such as the event I attended yesterday at the Ritz Carlton in Pentegon City.

It was a "Brand & Blogger Symposium," which means that the whole point was to meet some brands, learn about their products, and maybe begin (or continue) a relationship with them. That part was great, and more about that later, but the best part was seeing and talking to these women.

Parentopia Devra and Goon Squad Sarah did most of the work to set up this incredible event, which, unbelievably, started at 11 a.m. and ended at 7 p.m. That's like a full day at work, for those of you who are counting. I was prepared to be exhausted at the end of the day, and I was. But I was less frizzled and frazzled than I thought I would be because every time I turned around, there was another writer I was excited to see and talk to.

Our day started at a brunch—at the Ritz, did I mention?—hosted by BitDefender, an antivirus software company that runs the fantastic BitMoms site, of which my good friend Leticia is Chief BitMom. We had a fun time acting as a focus group for them, but I think my favorite part of the brunch was the jar fully of teeny-tiny Tabasco bottles.

And I don't even use Tabasco sauce. But look how cuuuuuute.

I also enjoyed proving to my lovely driver, Thien-Kim, and my co-rider, UrbanMama, that I could, in fact, charm a baby.

Photo shamelessly stolen from @urbanmama's twitter feed.

That is Thien-Kim's baby. About four minutes after getting into her car, I made some sort of objectionable face, causing him to burst into hysterical sobs that continued for twenty or so minutes. I'm good with kids. Needless to say, I felt it important to prove myself by cuddling with that guy, as well as The Fabulous Miss S's gorgeous baby girl and Delora's adorable and tiny baby boy.

When I briefly left the room to use the bathroom during an activity in which we were making collages about what BitDefender means to us, Jenny McCarthy tried to take my seat. Fortunately for her, she had the right thing to say when I came back to find her there.

Hooray for friends like Jessica, who can take the silliest activity and make it even sillier.

From there, we headed upstairs to the room where we had a conversation about bloggers working with brands, but first, everyone introduced themselves. I felt a crazy impulse to clap and hoot for each person because everyone there was incredible, but no one else was doing it, plus I felt like the deafening silence when I introduced myself and no one hooted would have been sad, so I just smiled and nodded like everyone else, while I hooted silently in my head.

Then we started a conversation about working with brands, and in my head I was all, "Live and let live," and "Holy crap, this room is cold!" It's not that I don't have lots of thoughts about bloggers working with brands, but I mostly know what I want, how I feel, and what I think is right—for me. Sure, stuff annoys me, but I'm going to do what I'm going to do, and you're going to do what you're going to do, and the world isn't going to stop turning. In fairness, a lot of folks said some interesting things.

Near the end of the conversation, I actually used a suggestion jokingly tweeted to me by LawyerMama, which was to huddle under the tablecloth for warmth. In fact, the tablecloth was long, and easy to wrap around my legs. Oooh, cuddly.

From there, we moved on to the mini-expo hall, where we mingled and met the brand representatives. My photos from this part of the day are a little iffy because at some point my camera decided to stop focusing. I freaked out and accosted Kimberly, photographer extraordinaire, who determined that, yes, it had stopped focusing. 

I decided to fix it by turning it off and assuming that time and inactivity would fix it. Guess what? It actually did! I tell ya', the ol' head in the sand bit really does work.

Let's see. I should probably mention the sponsors that were there, because they were the people who mde it possible for all of us to get together and hang. BitDefender, of course, was fabulous and really seemed interested in getting to know us. TLC was there to promote its summer shows. One of those shows is Cupcake Dreams, about the sisters behind Georgetown Cupcake. They were there decorating cupcakes for us, including the three adorable ones they made for my children. They couldn't have been cuter—the sisters and the cupcakes.

Obviously, I took this photo after I got home.

Also there was K12, a homeschooling curriculum and online teaching company, who I actually met several months ago and have intended to write about since. There are some really cool people behind that group. If you're a homeschooler, or thinking about homeschooling, check 'em out. They had the best business cards, which included a question on each that we had to answer to get our swag. I was very relived that I knew the answer to my question: Who was our third president? (Thomas Jefferson)

Cinnabon was there with their new cupcake line, as was Lawry's, who showed us their new line of marinades. Stonyfield, the organic yogurt company was also there. The Cultural Care Au Pair people were there and kinda made me wish I had an extra bedroom into which I could stuff a person to take care of my kids. Bosch was showing off their Tassimo coffee, tea, and hot chocolate maker. Yes, please!

Of all of the groups there, if you only check out one, please check out Army of Women. They are a wonderful organization that connects women with breast cancer researchers. It takes just a second to sign up and then you will receive occasional emails asking if you want to participate in studies. None of them have fit me yet, but when one does, you can bet I'll be signing up.

The only company there that I truly hope I never have to use is Lice Happens, who came prepared with their very own stuffed louse that they had on the table, as well as M&M's with lice printed on them. Creepy, but fun. If, God forbid, you should come down with lice, they come to your house and eradicate them.

Here they are surrounding two satisfied customers, Smiling Mama and Urban Mama. (And the louse.)

I'm very excited about the iGo portable phone charging system. I can't wait to try it out! Litl was showing off their new webbook, intended to be used for people who mainly need a computer to access the internet.

Wolf Trap was there and gave each of us passes to take our kids to a Theatre-in-the-Woods performance. I can't wait to take my guys as part of Cultural Week (or some such) during Camp Stimey. I love Wolf Trap, having been there to see Jesus Christ Superstar some years ago. I love the theater and this is a really fun place to see it. My husband bought me tickets to three shows for Christmas. The first one we're going to is CATS. I can't wait! I also love that when I asked them if they had programs for special needs kids they didn't just stare at me blankly. (Not yet, but hopefully within the year. It's already on their radar.)

Companies that weren't there, but who gave us items to go home with were Safety 1st, Eden Fantasys (thank you for the, ahem, item, but I probably won't be blogging about it), Organically Grown (LOVE the tote bag, thank you!), and 23 and Me, from whom I am looking forward to finding out that I am, in fact, extremely white.

I'm also really looking forward to seeing the photos Mary Gardella of Love Life Images took of the event. I can't wait to pore over them to see some of my favorite women, including those not mentioned above, Susan, TeachMama, Wife and Mommy, Nicole (Happy Birthday, by the way!), Mamma Loves, Morninglight Mama (so great to finally meet you!), Elaine (so thrilled to meet you too—I feel like we go way back!), JavaMom, Joanne (who I am perpetually in awe of), Jodi, Jill from Musings from Me, Dumb Mom (who I hate to call "dumb"), Kate from The Big Piece of Cake, Kristen (wish we could have chatted again—I LOVE you!), Mom in a Million, Not Ever Still, the adorable MinkyMoo, Cara Mamma, Justice Fergie, the amazing Sue, Suzie (who didn't have pink hair this time, sadly), Mel from Stirrup Queens (so happy to meet you in person; let's get our munchkins together), Cecily (who did), The Travel Mommy, Scrappin' Michelle (who made us all jealous with her iPad), and Clare Jess of Crunchy Chewy Mama and Vicky of the Mummy Chronicles, who were both adorably pregnant.


Please tell me I didn't forget anyone, although I'm sure I did. I love you all! You inspire me like you wouldn't believe.

Again, thank you to Sarah, Devra, Garza Girl, and Chefdruck for putting on such an amazing event. Thanks to the SV Moms Group also!

Our hostesses

Honesty Clause: Each company mentioned here participated by donating swag and by sponsoring this get together.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Wendy and Lucy

Stimey is watching Wendy and Lucy. Why on God's green earth would I choose to watch a movie that I know is about a lost dog? SOOOOOOOOBBBBB!!!!