The Skinny on FullBars

I first tried a FullBar about 18 months ago.  I was anchoring the evening shows in Providence.  I had gotten really busy and didn’t have time to eat and I was starving.  I’m almost always in a good mood, unless I’m hungry or tired.  Those in my inner circle know this about me.  So, whenever I would start getting testy (rare, I promise) my boss would give me food.  This was actually pretty genius on his part…and kind, too!

FullBar promises to do a lot that, frankly, I’m not really interested in.  From its website, “fullbar, being inspired by weight-loss surgery, uses the same fullness principles of surgery to fill your stomach with less food. This causes you to feel full and satisfied on smaller amounts of food, resulting in consuming less calories and helping you lose weight.” I’m not trying to lose weight, so I’m not really concerned with all that stuff (now, if FullBars could make my body look like Brooke Burke’s, I’d buy them by the case!)

Here’s the deal.  I like fast, easy, food–that’s good for me–and that I can eat on the run.  I’m a busy mom and sometimes I forget or don’t have time to sit down to a full meal.  I need something that is going to give me enough energy until I get a chance to have a real meal and get rid of that pit in my stomach.  I’m a fan of Luna bars, Fiber One bars and FullBars.  They all pass the taste test (but taste very different).   I think Fullbars taste like a mix of rice krispy treat & rice cake. My 22 mos. old daughter loved them and kept asking for a bite.  Could I lose weight with FullBars? Not sure. But if you are looking for a snack and a healthier alternative to a lot of other stuff you could nosh on, you might want to give FullBars a try!

HappiTaps, for the Tech-loving toddler!

HappiTapsBear

Warning!! Introducing your child to HappiTaps may mean you’ll be seeing a lot less of your Iphone. On the flip side, it’s sure to provide lots of giggles, heartwarming moments, and some uninterrupted “mommy time.”  HappiTapps pairs up technology with teddy for a winning combo!

Like most toddlers, my daughter loves to play on my Iphone.  Her favorite thing to do is watch YouTube videos and listen to music.  Recently, she’s been waking up saying, “Bear,” and before bed she says, “Night Night, Bear.”  I’ve never before reviewed an app, but the new Infantino HappiTaps Beary Happi app had so many neat toddler friendly features, I was excited to test it out.  Clearly, it’s a hit with my daughter!

Features:

  • 3D computer animation in conjunction with the iPhone/iPod Touch cutting technology to create a toy that reacts to a child’s life moments
  • Over 150 different expressions to keep kids engaged and learning
    • Tell jokes, share fun facts, tell stories, sing songs, teach educational tidbits
    • Beary Happi also loves to laugh, wink, make faces and of course he eats and sleeps
  • Full of games and activities for engaging play
  • 2 Play modes
    • Toddler Mode – Hides the navigation so toddlers cruise carefree from 1 activity to the next
    • Manual Mode – Let’s kids choose between the 7 games and activities
  • The cover features a lock for the home button to ensure kids stay within the app
  • Age: 18+ months

What exactly are HappiTaps?

HappiTaps are a toy/app hybrid. Infantino/Step 2  created a winning combination, merging kids  fascination with technology and an adorable snuggle buddy to create an interactive companion.  Brilliant, I say!

Beary Happi is the very first HappiTap. Put your Iphone or Ipod inside and download the free app to make him “come to life”.

I’ve already downloaded the HappiTap app and am eager to get my bear case that will wrap around my Iphone.  I know my daughter will go crazy over it!  We are just beginning to learn about all the features as we navigate through the app.  I’m torn because I think this would make the perfect stocking stuffer for her–once the bear arrives–but I’m so excited to see her reaction that I don’t think I can wait until Christmas!  😆  At a retail price of just $19.99 plus free shipping, this makes a great gift for nieces and nephews too!

 

Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Infantino HappiTaps and received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.  All opinions  are my own.

 

 

Breakfast Burrito with Skillet Bacon Jam

We make some mean breakfast burritos around my house.  And when we aren’t making breakfast burritos, we make breakfast sandwiches.  They usually consist of a whole grain English muffin, one egg, a piece of bacon, a slice of Vermont cheddar and a dab of hot sauce, sometimes some avocado.  This morning I changed things up a bit because I came across a new product that I’ve been dying to try.  Skillet Bacon Jam.  I wish I could stick a wick in it and light this little container, so the entire house would smell as good as what’s inside this jar.

bacon jam

 

To get this this container of awesomeness, the company says you take a “big bunch of really, really good bacon and render it down…add a bunch of spices, onions, etc. and let it simmer for about 6 hours, give it a quick puree, blast chill it…take a left turn, and end up in pure bacon heaven.”  If you like bacon, you will love this stuff!

It made a great addition to my breakfast tortilla.  Here’s the recipe.

  • One Tortilla Land tortilla (I could never find these on the East Coast, so my MIL would send them to me from Arizona)
  • 2 eggs
  • Cheese (whatever kind you like best)
  • 1/4 avocado
  • hot sauce
  • Spread a little bacon jam on your tortilla, add eggs,  cheese, avocado & hot sauce

If you’re not into breakfast burritos, and you are looking for a little inspiration, check out  Skillet Street Food’s website for some fun recipes using  bacon jam.  Let me know what you think of it! You can also email the company directly at eat@skilletstreetfood.com.

Disclaimer: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Personalized Picture Puzzles from Piczzle

puzzle

I love getting–and giving–personalized gifts.  I’m always on the hunt for that unique item that is going to bring a smile to someone’s face each time they look at it.  In this digital age, it’s easier than over to personalize just about anything, but sometimes, the item you receive doesn’t look quite as good as  the item you ordered!  The opposite was true for me when I received my Piczzle photo puzzle.

Prices for a personalized jigsaw puzzle start at less than $20.  You can create puzzles in several different shapes and even add fancy borders & messages. The sizes range from six pieces (great for kids) to 2,000 pieces!  With the holidays coming up, this seems like a perfect gift for that person who has everything.

I have a large family, so to get us all together for a picture is quite a chore.  Last year, we were able to pull it off,  and it’s a moment I treasure.  I knew, immediately, I wanted to capture that moment with a Piczzle puzzle.  It’s a keepsake my family will treasure, and I plan to give it to my parents when we are all in Arizona this Christmas.

Piczzle

Aside from the fact that the puzzle looks even better put together (picture quality), I love that the pieces are strong…not flimsy like you’ll see with some other puzzles.  Since my daughter is constantly cutting teeth and shoving things in her mouth, this is a huge bonus!  😉

Disclaimer: I received the 100 piece puzzle shown above in order to facilitate this review.  All opinions–good and bad–are 100% my own.

VTech Connect-to-Cell Phone System (Home Phone Convenience Without the Cost!)

Vtech connect to cell

Maybe I’ve been out of the loop, but I didn’t even know a product existed that allowed you to use your cell phone like a home phone.  My family hasn’t had a landline in four years; we just didn’t think it made sense.  I have to admit, though, sometimes the mad search for my ringing cell phone is frustrating.  By the time I find it, the person has hung up!  My friends and family complain that I’m the hardest person to get a hold of, but it’s impossible to be glued to my cell phone at all times.  Even if it is by my said, I often need two hands to do housework, play with my daughter, or get ready.  So when VTech’s Connect-to-Cell Phone System showed up at my door, I couldn’t wait to try it!  Even my husband (who rarely comments on anything associated with my blog) thought the system was brilliant.  Then again, this was something he could really benefit from since he works from home.

Key features of the VTech DS6421-3 Connect-to-Cell:

  • Push-To-Talk acts as a multiple handset walkie talkie system to instantly communicate with any or all of the handsets within the system.
  • HD Audio provides an extended frequency band allowing for the signal to be reproduced and tuned for a fuller and clearer sound.
  • Make and receive landline and cellular calls – Connects to BLUETOOTH enabled cell phones to make and receive calls with the ease  of a home phone system. Two cell phones can be actively connected to the base. Cell calls can be made or received from either of these two active cell phones. Pair four different cell phones to the base unit.
  • Voice Announce Caller ID audibly announces the name and number of the caller on all of the handsets and base unit. (how cool is that??) No need to find the handset to see who is calling.   Makes screening calls that much easier (love it!)
  • With the touch of a button, the handset speakerphones makes hands-free conversations easy.
  • Expandable up to 12 handsets using only one phone jack.
  • Access your cellular phonebook directory – Download your cellular phonebook directory to this cordless phone system.  Dial a landline or cellular call from the directory for easy access. Stores over 6000 directories from up to four different cell phones. No need to input names and numbers into your cordless phone. (Thank Goodness!)
  • Pair four different cell phones (or headsets) and have two devices actively connected. Cellular calls can be made or received from either of the two active cell phones. Landline service not required, works great for cellular only households.

There are so many more great features, you can check them out for yourself, by going to VTech’s website here.

As the holidays approach, I knew things around the house would be getting even busier–and messier–making all the features of VTech’s phone system that much more appealing.

In a recent holiday survey, Vtech found:

  • 46% of respondents said they would spend more time with family/friends if they had an extra set of hands to get things done (51% of all females); higher with moms at 48%.  37% of respondents said clean the house quicker; 47% of moms
  • 31% of respondents said phone calls ranked the highest as the biggest distractions to getting more done at home during the holidays.  24% of respondents (48% of moms and 40% of dads) said kids needs/events
  • 81% of respondents (92% of parents) ranked a device that could help you multi-task and get more things done  as very/somewhat important

I guess I’m not the only frazzled parent out there who wishes I had more hands!  After trying out VTech’s Connect-to-Cell phone system, I’m thinking it might just be the perfect gift for some of those hard to buy for people on my list this year.

Disclaimer:  I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of VTech and received a product sample to facilitate my review.  As always, all opinions–good and bad–are my own.

 

Our Little Miracle, Born at 24 Weeks

preemie

I will never forget the day we got the call from my sister-in-law, Jill.  She was in the hospital and had just had her baby.  How could that be? She was only 24 weeks pregnant? The terror in her voice was palpable. My husband and I felt helpless.  We were in Cleveland, Ohio, where my husband was going through his own health scare with cancer and my sister-in-law was thousands of miles away in Arizona.  To top it off, it was right around the holidays.  Little John weighed 1 pound 8 ounces, when he was born, and was 12 inches long. He spent 110 days in the NICU before coming home on March 20, 2006. John is a true miracle and an inspiration to all that meet him!  You can read more about his amazing story here (grab the tissue!)

More than half a million American babies are born prematurely each year.  That’s a staggering 1,400 babies born prematurely in the United States every day. Because premature babies immune systems haven’t had time to fully mature, preterm infants are more likely to develop infections.  Preemies have underdeveloped lungs, so they are more susceptible to respiratory problems.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a highly contagious virus which is quite prevalent during the winter months. It is transmitted primarily by hand-to-nose, hand-to-mouth, and hand-to-eye contact. The severity of the symptoms vary depending upon the age of the child and whether he has any chronic medical problems.  RSV can be particularly serious in infants born prematurely and children under the age of two suffering from chronic lung conditions.

For otherwise healthy children, RSV usually amounts to little more than a cold. However, for preemies and other at-risk infants, the health consequences can be much more serious. In the U.S., approximately 125,000 children are hospitalized each year with serious RSV disease and, sadly, some of these children die.

To help protect your baby from RSV, there are simple steps that parents and caregivers can take:

  • Have family members and caregivers wash their hands with warm water and soap before touching the baby
  • Avoid being around the baby if you have a cold or fever
  • Avoid exposing the baby to other children with cold symptoms
  • Keep the baby away from crowded places
  • Never smoke around the baby
  • Talk to your baby’s pediatrician about RSV risks and prevention

Symptoms
Contact your child’s pediatrician immediately if your child exhibits one or more of the following:

  • Persistent coughing or wheezing
  • Rapid, difficult, or gasping breaths
  • Blue color on the lips, mouth, or under the fingernails
  • High fever
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Not eating well

To learn more about RSV please visit www.rsvprotection.com.

As we prepare to celebrate my nephew John’s sixth birthday, I can’t help but think of all the other babies born too soon. November 17th is World Prematurity Day, an important day designed to help raise public awareness about the problem of global prematurity, which affects more than 13 million babies worldwide.

preemie as a child

John (6) with his mom, dad and sister

I wrote this post while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of MedImmune and received a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

 

 

Pumpkin Spiced Smoothie (all the taste, none of the guilt!)

A few years ago I stopped buying flavored creamer for my coffee because of all the ingredients.  If I can’t pronounce it, I don’t really want it in my body.  My motto is, “most things, in moderation, are okay .”  That being said, I drink coffee seven days a week, not just on occasion.  I was so excited to learn about Coffee-mate’s new Natural Bliss line, featuring just four ingredients in each of its three flavors.  The Natural Bliss line currently comes in Caramel, Vanilla and Sweet Cream.  I have always been a fan of Coffee-mate, but recently I had only been buying it around the holidays.  With this new line, I can feel good about adding it to each cup of coffee.  I picked up a bottle of the Sweet Cream and it was delish!  Now, that doesn’t mean I won’t also pick up a small bottle of the Peppermint Mocha or Belgian Chocolate Toffee (those yummy flavors Coffee-mate is known for), because we all deserve to indulge a little around the holidays.  😆

pumpkin smoothieThis recipe, courtesy of the Foot Network’s Claire Robinson, should get you in the mood for the holidays.

Pumpkin Spiced Smoothie

 

  • 1-1/2 cups ice
  • 1 (6 oz.)  low fat coffee yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 cup NEW all-natural Coffee-mate Natural Bliss Sweet Cream

  •  

    Family Ties

    My sister and I spent our childhood pretty much attached at the hip. We have subsequently spent most of our adult lives thousands of miles apart. She has a job that has moved her around quite a bit, I have my own business here in Phoenix and am, therefore, not moving any time soon.

    premiere dress

    My sister

    little boys

    The early years: my sons

    For a while, our lives were quite different. She was rising up through the ranks  in her career,  and I was beginning to have babies and trying to start a business while keeping my head above water. She was flying to a premiere in L.A., wearing a fabulous dress and getting her hair and make-up done, and I was trying to get breastmilk out of my work shirt, and trying to picture a life without a “Boppy” and immunization records.

     

     

    cute mom and toddler

    My sis & niece

    More recently, with the birth of her first baby about 22 months ago, my sister  is in the forays of early motherhood and chasing a toddler, and I am navigating a household where no more naps are taken, but two school-aged boys may or may not jump off the dog kennel onto the couch in superhero fashion. The divergence of our lives the past 20 years is narrowing again and our circle is beginning to get smaller.

    family picture

    A recent family picture

    There was a time when my boys were really young and I was a nap Nazi and a hyper-scheduler and every time my sister  looked at me I felt like she thought I had three heads, and maybe I did. I had my second son on a Thursday and saw my first patient in my new practice on a Tuesday. Not exactly the best timing, but at the time, it is what I felt I had to do. I don’t imagine I was much fun in those days, and she probably wondered whether I ever would be again. I wondered if there was ever going to be a time where she would understand the pressures and demands and stress I was experiencing. I wanted her to love my babies as much as I did, but seeing them once or twice a year was not really enough to forge the tight bond for which I had hoped. When your kids are under the age of three, they are only friendly with people they see often, people with whom they have established memories.

    Fast forward almost nine years from the time I had my first, and she was finally having her first. Although I hated the desperation in her voice as she was describing the frustrations of no sleep and early mommyhood, I loved being the one she called for advice or for simply an ear. I wished I could have given her a shoulder. It was very hard to be so far away and not have the ability to hold my sweet little niece and give my sister a break without her having to worry about her baby being cared for. Because to me, that is what family does. They are the people with whom you can trust in caring for your most valued possessions without worrying about them. We had two or three days here and there–not nearly enough time for me to be a trusted face for my niece or for my boys to really spend some quality time with their aunt.

    Then this past summer came. My sister was in the throws of looking for a different job….she had some time to spare–we planned a family vacation, and then my boys got to spend an extra week with my parents and my sister, her husband, and their new niece. They came home with the kinds of stories that can only come with time real time spent in the company of the ones you love. They loved their niece, they constantly played with their uncle, and they were doted on by their aunt. The story was coming together….closer to what I had always wanted for us.Toddler and her cousins

    Now there is a real possibility of her finding work here where I live. I can barely think about it because I dare not, lest I jinx it. They have been staying with us and other family off and on the past few weeks–and any time they aren’t at our house, my boys are wondering when they are coming back. You see, there is no other reason that 9 and 7 year old boys would be so infatuated with a 22 month old cutie pie, except for that family bond and time that establishes and cements these core relationships. My sister is over the hump and confident in her motherhood and I am basking in these boy years where they still let me kiss them. We are both relaxed for the most part, sharing the best bond of sisterhood and motherhood. She watches  me looking adoringly at her daughter and I look at her cracking up at my silly boys’ antics. It just doesn’t get much better. And my niece? No stranger danger with me anymore. This morning I got a kiss and a smile–none of that “Who is this lady that loves me?” look. My sister and I are geographically and emotionally closer all at once. Our lives are converging–no longer parallel three time zones apart…..attached at the hip, and hopefully within the same time zone, state, county, and maybe even zip code.

    Sisters

    Chili-Garlic Roasted Broccoli (You Will Love This!!)

    roasted broccoliI do not like cooked broccoli.  Well, I used to not like it, that is, until my friend made me this.

    O.M.G. I had to share this recipe with you.  Not sure where my fellow TV buddy, Maria Neider, came up with the recipe, but one thing is certain….I can’t get enough!   Here’s what you’ll need:

    1/2 cup of Olive oil

    10-12 cloves of finely chopped garlic

    2 T chili powder

    2 T  McCormick Montreal Steak Seasoning

    2 large heads of broccoli cut into thin long spears

    DIRECTIONS:

    Preheat oven to 425. Combine ingredients in large bowl and toss to coat. Spread on baking sheet. Roast broccoli until crisp and slightly brown. 17-20 minutes. HINT: Do NOT Salt and pepper or it will be WAY too salty.

     

    Shaving, Simplified (Review)

    I recently took a trip to Arizona with my daughter (boy, do I love traveling solo with a toddler) and I was thisclose to having to pay extra for luggage that was over the weight limit.  I’m convinced that even a travel-sized can of shaving cream would have tipped the scales in the wrong direction.  Enter the Schick® Intuition.

    Intuition razor

    It’s my new favorite thing, when it comes to packing efficiently and streamlining my morning routine.  The shaving cream and moisturizer are built right in to the razor.  Seriously, what’s more annoying than shaving your legs in the shower and discovering, mid-leg, that you are out of shaving cream!?  With the Intuition razor, the problem is solved!

    To get a $3 off coupon on this razor, head over to their facebook page through the end of October,  and take their quiz to fight out which razor is right for you!

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