Face Mixer

I don’t go to a lot of mom blogger gatherings.  Was it something I vlogged?  There are bloggers that seem to know everyone, I don’t think I’m that person.  I haven’t been to any of the BIG events, but over the last year I have been invited to a few smaller gatherings and it is nice to meet the sisters.  One a few weeks back was hosted by Romy Raves in the SF Valley.  It was the OPI Salon where I actually had done a segment as host of the Fashion Team there ( you know, before they downsized me to occasional correspondent) it’s a nice place where you can get a massage and pretty nails.

This soiree was sponsored by Therapon skin.  I can’t give a review of it yet as I still haven’t cracked open the sampler box they tucked under my arm that night.  If that cute gal Christina who reps them is any indication I’ll be dropping my dreams of a scapel. She said this is stuff for your skin that was developed by a plastic surgeon. She is a darling Southern Belle who made the party possible and allowed me to gorge myself on LASAGNE cupcakes.  Sounds gross?  well, It’s in the form of a cupcake, but no batter, more like a lasagna bomb. Also cupcakes from Magnolia bakery ( just ordered some mini’s for Rex’s bday party) Ran into Candice of fashionably organized.  We love to talk charter schools and fringe neighborhoods we can afford.

Lots of the gals were getting that new Katy Perry crackle nail thing, not my bag.  But, nice to have a little color on these worn paws.

That’s why I need to listen to my friend Carolyn who always says, “go where your invited.”  Highlight for me was when a gal said, “I just watched Rex’s wallet service!”  Felt like a star.

Laptop for kids 5-10yrs: A review

“Vivien, would you like your own laptop?” I had been approached by a PR firm reagrding a laptop for kids age 5 to 10 that Best Buy was selling exclusively.  I do very few product reviews, but this sounded intriguing.  It’s also a big issue now.  Kids want access to a computer and the net, but their are reservations on the parent of parents.  Me included. The laptop is the FIRST SPARK™ kids PC . Featuring the Toshiba L635. (retails for $499.00)

(from the Best Buy website) This full-sized laptop was made specifically for kids and their parents. Get peace of mind with hardware features like a wipeable keyboard, and software to help you keep your kids secure while playing games or browsing the Internet.

Toshiba L635 Laptop
Preloaded with
  • Internet filtering service (1 year)
  • kid-friendly Internet browser (1 year)
  • Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 2 movie*
  • Disney’s The Princess and the Frog movie*
  • LEGO Batman: The Videogame

Vivien’s reaction?

“no, thanks”  she said flopping onto the couch.  Her 16 year old brother, “Well, wouldn’t you like to at least see it and then decide?” not understanding why she would refuse such an offer.

“okay” She shrugged.  Obviously a computer is essential in a teens life, but maybe not in a child’s.  Questionable whether one should be.  Nonetheless I agreed to receive it for FREE to give a review. they wanted a child’s review of it.

When we unwrapped it Vivien was excited to see it.  I thought it was quite good looking. She sat with me as we did the intial logging on and figuring the various programs out.  She was a trooper and hung in there, but in retrospect I think that was a mistake on my part.  She was getting anxious waiting for the fun to start.  “Princess and the Frog” and “Toy Story 2” are said to be loaded on the hard drive, but we couldn’t get that going.  I subsequently received further directions about playing them, but it was no go for us.

The Net Nanny comes loaded on it which I really like a lot as my chief problem with kids having a computer is being exposed to unsavory sites and people.

“I want to play games”  Vivien said.  Great, we started a few, but the dexterity required her to move the thumb to click and the index finger as a mouse was impossible for her five year old hand.  I became the clicker, she the mouse while we went through some games.  Rex was grabbing at my leg for attention, I saw the sun set behind us.  All of the games had written directions and she can only read a few words, so I had to be at her side the whole time for literacy and fingers.  I realized unlike the the TV babysitter, this was not going to make life easier for me.

“is this the best use of our time? ” I thought.

Finally Vivien’s frustration blew.  We had been at it for over an hour. “Enough, I’ve had it.”

Me: “Should we give this to Lily?” My 9 year old niece

Viv: “yes, Lily, will have a better time with it than me.”  She climbed off her perch and started to play with the neglected Rex.

Lily and my sister Cecily were thrilled when I called, “want a laptop?”

Cecily took possesion of it.

From Cecily:

“I took it to a coffee house to get to know it before I gave it to Lily, so I could get the lay of the land. Took me a little while just to know a PC, I’ve been working with a Mac for years.The first thing that struck me was it was nice and light and had a good feel. It felt like little hands could use it.  I really like the washable key board because I can’t stand the crap that falls within the cracks of a regular keyboard.

I was confused by the net nanny.  It came up intially and I like the idea of it for protecting my child, but I haven’t been able to test it. I think it’s partly because Daphne set it up and we need to reconfigure passwords and such.

I went home and gave it to Lily who was very excited to have her own laptop. IMG_0285.JPG Then I let her noodle around with it.  I showed her the kids browser.  Then last night we sat down together and I had her show me what she was doing.  We used the KidZui browser which is great because everything that is shown has been vetted by teachers and parents.  We tested it to see if playboy.com would come up and it doesn’t.  This is very important.  There are cute touches like you can make an avatar and name it and if their friends are on they can talk to each other, but it’s protected.  The parent has to approve them. It’s not chat roulette.

As long as the net nanny is activated  and the Kidzui is up they can’t get through to something you don’t want them to.  Also you get weekly reports on where they have gone and length of time online.”

Here is what the 9 year old Lily has to say about it. My questions are in bold.

Lily: ” I thought it was pretty for a laptop.”

was it easy for you to figure it out?

Lily: “yes, it was self explanatory”IMG_0285.JPG

did you need your parents to help you?

Lily “not much, if I got confused or if wanted to change a name or if it got frozen.”

what have you most enjoyed?

Lily:  “going on the internet, it saves time it has categories, like ‘totally girl” it takes me to non violent videos from you tube” ( note: you can not get on you tube directly) You could use it for homework, they have “homework helper” like multiplication tables.”

what will you use this computer for the most?

Lily: “probably going online and playing games and going to disney.com”

will your friends like it?

“yes, because there is a web came and we can talk on kidzui. I haven’t done the skype, but I’m going to ask my friend if she will with me.”

To wrap it up here is a video of Lily and her mom Cecily ( the sister making her first Coolmom appearance) summing up their thoughts.

Josie Maran

This little sprite of gal, model Josie Maran was on The Fashion Team last year.  She had just been bumped from Dancing with the Stars (first one off, ouch) and was launching her green cosmetic line.  A year later she came back and has been selling her line like gangbusters.  She has also been helping fellow Momversation panelist Rebecca Woolf with her five minute makeovers. Here she dishes on DWTS experience, being a working mom and touts her Argon oil.  Okay, QVC gal, I’m sold!  Well, actually she gave it to me, but I’ve been slathering it on my face night and day.

I wonder if I put it all over my body, will I look like her in a swimsuit?

Wee Little Notes (& a Coupon for You!)

I love stationery for kids. It might seem funny to get cards made up with my children’s names on them and then write the thank you notes myself, but they can’t, so why not? I figure that over the years they will get that THEY are suppose to write thank you notes when they receive a gift. And they will pick up manual dexterity. I think I should let my friends and family know that I appreciate their generosity and one day, hopefully so will my offspring.

I paid through the nose for Viv’s first set of stationary, but you know that was 2005; we did things like that. It was cute, but I couldn’t figure out what to do with her name. It’s long: Vivien Tiana Brogdon Peel. Peel is legally her last name, although she thinks she has a hyphen last name, and if she ever wanted to change it, that would be fine. So, she has two middle names. I thought it was overkill to have all four names on the note cards but didn’t want to trash can my last name. (This also seems so 2005 that I could spend time thinking about this)

So the cards read:  Vivien T.B. Peel

Yeah, her middle initials are a disease. I should have give her the middle name Irene. That would have been some cool initials.

Well, those cards ran out, and I scanned around for some replacements. I liked the Paper Culture cards. They are modern and pretty. And instead of the long list o’ names I went for this:

Just a a pretty V and her first name. Seems regal… and less complicated. Personal, yet stopping short of her social security number. It’s an old-fashioned-type illustration, but it’s on a one-page card with rounded corners, so its not too fussy.

For now we can leave it at that. I told them I was going to blog about the cards, and they said if any Cool Mom readers wanted to get some, they would offer a 20% discount. Put in the code COOLMOM at check out. They are not pricey to begin with. This isn’t 2005.

COOLMOM code is good through 3/31/10 for 20% off their order (not to be combined with any other offer, and not applicable to shipping & handling or taxes).

My New Scent, a.k.a. I’m Obsessed

Years ago in the Clinton era, I was a swinging single in San Francisco. I used to wear Issey Miyake perfume. I’d put on my short skirts, vest without shirt, short blazer (think Melrose Place), chunky high heel loafers, a splash of Miyake and work it! A guy friend used to inhale me as I came near. It actually was kind of a problem as we were always dating different people, but my scent made him wild, and I was wild for the attention.

Then one day I saw that friend, and he didn’t inhale.

“It doesn’t work anymore.”

“What?”

“Your scent, it changed. The Miyake, it doesn’t work. It’s gone,” and he walked off to crush on another woman’s smell.

I had sensed what he said. My scent wasn’t working.

Then in the zeros, it was Michael Kors. That was my smell. I put on jeans, with high heels, an empire shirt, and rode the ups and downs of the ’00s with Michael Kors. I landed a husband, so it must have been okay.

But while my previous scents were about attracting men and feeling sexy, my newest scent holds for me the association of prosperity, security, a newly remodeled bathroom in a big house. In short, what most woman want as they approach middle age. Let me explain.

Shortly after we got the bad Madoff news, my co-host Lawrence Zarian gave me a bottle of Jo Malone Lime Basil and Mandarin bath oil.

I took it home to my beautiful house that I knew we would have to sell soon and plunged my big pregnant body in a warm bath with a splash of this new scent. I was transported. Does it smell like Lime basil and mandarian? No, it smells like a fresh start. It smells like my bills are paid, and I’m pretty. I can’t explain it, I need a scratch and sniff web site. What else are you going to do to unwind when you are pregnant? Run? No. Drink? No. Pop a tranquilizer? That would be another no. I would breathe in the clean, fresh, spring, soapy-like scent of the Jo Malone and tell myself that it was all going to be OK. That my baby would healthy and we would have another nice home one day, and I wouldn’t be eating cat food at 70. That smell always made me feel better.

Cut to this past Christmas when I asked my husband for knee-high boots and Jo Malone Lime Basil and Mandarin bath oil. They ain’t giving it away, but I figured, hey, we got through this year, time for a treat. Christmas day I got the wrong boots (took them back, added money and got the ones I wanted), and no Jo Malone. I said to Mark, “Um, you said you were at Nordstorms. I told you EXACTLY what I wanted.”

Him, “But then it wouldn’t be a surprise.” Argh! I am slightly embarrassed to say how bummed I was about this. I was, a tad furious. I had been waiting to sniff the stuff in my smaller, but nice, rented house and do my affirmations for the new year.

Once again I had to take matters in my own hands. And Voila, here it is. (I also got their vitamin E body balm. The smell is different; see if that shapes up my arm skin.)

And on a rough day, the smell still makes me happy.

Hello, scent for the teens.

V Day

Only two weeks to start feeling conflicted, miserable, or immune. That’s right. Valentine’s Day is almost here.

Most of the time it’s positioned as a lover holiday, but I liked those store-bought Valentine’s that we used to exchange in elementary school. You know, if you give one to one, you give it to all. I just loved giving them and getting them. I didn’t think, “The school makes everyone in your class give them.”  I thought, “Wow, look at all these valentines!”

When I was about 11, I made or bought, can’t remember, Valentine’s presents for my sister and parents. They didn’t give me anything, but I didn’t think about it. Then I went to do errands with my mom. She ran into the grocery store while I dreamed of putting money in a bank (I don’t remember where in the shopping center I was). Anyway, my mom pulled up, and I got in the car. On the passenger’s seat was a potted red tulip. She said I had been so sweet to everyone else on Valentine’s Day, and she wanted to do something for me.  It made me so happy.

I think that was the high point.

E-Cards Are Not Cards: How a Blended Family Can Send a Real Card

Okay, I’m about to gripe. But I’m not alone. I have had it with THE EMAIL HOLIDAY CARD. No, it’s not okay. And if it’s an email it is NOT a card. It’s an email, which we all get way to much of. All year we delete group emails. We rarely get personal mail through the mail box anymore. The holiday season is the one time of year we get some sort of personal mail. Something that a human had to stick a stamp on. Oh, goody, instead I will get less personal mail and more emails that lack any warmth. And don’t tell me they are green. That’s a cop out. They are powered and received on large machines that suck electricity faster than Tiger Woods can ask a cocktail waitress for her number.

I get it. Some years one is more overwhelmed than other times. Than either skip the ritual, or do a pared list like I often do in less well planned years. You know the great aunt who doesn’t even know what Facebook is let alone how to access the pictures you post there, people like that. Or if you are behind, send a New Years card.

I am not a fan of getting electronic greetings to begin with. If I have to sit and wait while some amusing Jacquie Lawson animated pixie talks about a bird landing on a leaf, and it unfolds same sappy greeting I’m going to stick a fork in my head.

Here is what I want in a Christmas Card: A picture and or a little something about your life. Or a short personal message. PERSONAL message. That means written to ONE person. Not everyone on your contact list. That is what Facebook is for. And even with people I keep in nominal touch with, I like seeing the pictures of the kids and the letter talking about the promotion and the terrier they rescued outside of church. I’m a dork that way.

When I got one or two of these email christmas cards a couple of weeks ago, I was like, okay, happy holidays to you too. But, now, it’s gotten to be too much. It must stop. We are already an overly casual culture. As Bill Maher joked, (paraphrase) dressing is so casual now that people aren’t going to be happy until they can walk around in a diaper.

Look, I always get my cards out late.

I have HORRIBLE handwriting.

I get overwhelmed and don’t send them to all my friends and family.

But, dang it, I’m still trying to keep this ritual going.

To that end… I wanted to share with you my personal journey with holiday cards this year and pass on a discount that I also enjoyed.

I think I am not alone in having a hard time finding one photo where all members are accounted for and no one is blinking. I don’t need a professional photo… we don’t all have to walk on the beach. We just need a decent picture. Where I don’t look tired and my back fat doesn’t show.

The single card holiday card is not my favorite. You know the kind that arrive, you notice how little Susie has grown and then it lies flat on the mantle or china hutch because there is nothing else to hold it up. When did the Christmas post card come into vogue? Well, better than an email card (which is not a card). It’s like bringing frozen apps to a party and expecting the hostess to heat them up (this happened to me last year). Don’t make me do the work to find a place to prop up the piece o’ greeting.

So, I stumbled upon a well known web greeting company, Tiny Prints. But they had the perfect blended family card. It holds 5 pictures. And not in a montage, but one where you can put a little story to 4 of the pics. And since a lot has gone on this year I thought this would be perfect.

I had some explaining to do. I had a baby, yet sent out very few announcements. We moved and never sent out a change of address. It’s not the kind you want to “woo-hoo every one, had to sell the dream house and now we are renting. Not sure how long we will live here, but the address is…” Yeah, let’s skip it.

I used the petite alma line at Tiny Prints. The one that has 5 pictures to choose from, plus you can write a little bit underneath about 35 words, so each picture had a caption/story.  

I always have a problem with typos or fitting a picture correctly, but they have a line where a real human who speaks English called me to clarify some of my choices/mistakes. They were cheaper than doing those ones on the Mac (which I tried and aborted).

So, if you are a late deliverer or REAL holiday cards here is a last minute discount for  Coolmom.com readers www.tinyprints.com/holiday and the Promo code is TPHOLIDAY.  10% off orders with an order of $75 or more. Expires 1/1/2010.

I also liked the graphics on paperculture’s card, but they weren’t folded so I couldn’t pull the trigger.

Yes, I wish I had a minion to run and get stamps and calligraphy the addresses so my friends and family don’t think they are getting a note from a prison, but I can hack it.

I’m not sending an email holiday card. It’s such a Teens decade thing to do, and I peaked in the ’90’s.

Knock-Out Water

I don’t know how I missed this one, but Christine at Storked discovered there is a water that has the tagline “Zero calorie water puts moms to sleep.” Now, I know if I watch Charlie Rose for a couple of minutes I’m asleep, so I didn’t know there was a need to knock mom out, let alone with zero calories. Christine rightly points out that as a mom she feels she would be ready to be conscious should her young ones need her.

I think I would only feel comfortable taking an aid when I’m:

1) no longer nursing

2) in a hotel that night with kiddos taken care of elsewhere

3) on an overnight plane and super nanny is in the next seat watching my children.

I love the gutsy marketing of this water. I can imagine for such a crowded field they have to try something.

“Hmm, vitamin, done.  Jennifer Aniston? Taken.”

I always say I have a cheap mouth. I drink tap.

Seems like it would be more helpful to have something to knock out the kids.

Swag Bag For a New Mom

Here is a great gift for a new mom: a fun bag full of all the essentials for new mom life, made by a mom.  I think it’s especially good for either a first-time mom or a super-busy-already mom.  Nice idea to have on some good smelling stuff as you lay back with your road-kill look.

dinky little parcel
Creative Commons License photo credit: brockvicky

Not that I’m hinting that anyone get me one, wink.

Baby Gear

I need help. Okay, at 7 months, I’m starting to wrap my brain about what I need for my little boy in February.  Since this is my second child, I have many things already in the storage hut in the back: high chair, crib, etc.  I have been sorting through Viv’s newborn clothes to pick out the ones that won’t emasculate a young man.

But here is what I need, and I’d love to have an suggestions or advice about which products you all have liked.

Monitor.  My husband talked me out of a video one with Viv, and I regretted that.  I could Ferberized her better if I could have WATCHED her.  Which ones are good?

Bassinet/co-sleeper.  Vivien’s bassinet was borrowed, and it has never been given back.  Advantage: it rocked side to side when I was trying to get her to sleep.  But, is it better to have a co-sleeper so I don’t have to rise out of bed?  I’m talking about the first 3 to 4 months when he will still be in my room.  I’m thinking a bassinet is better. But rocking? music?  Remember, a light is good.

Swing.  I know I have to get the kind that goes back and forth and side to side.  Vivien and my niece hated the back and forth.  Or maybe it was good for a couple of minutes.  When she was almost too old, we borrowed the side to side one.  Is one better than another?

Sound machine.  We had a great one from Sharper Image.  Perfect pitch.  Vivien wouldn’t sleep without it for many months.  She grew out of it, and then I was addicted.  “Get rid of that!”  Mark finally screamed.  Harumph.  No like the sound of waves?  The problem is, we can’t find it, and Sharper Image is NO more.  So, which ones worked for you?

Made in the USA.  I know this is probably a big pipe dream on my part, but are there ANY HUNKS OF PLASTIC NOT MADE IN CHINA? With our economic woes and deflating dollar, I’d love to buy domestic, though it doesn’t seem possible in baby gear.  Just bought a baby outfit for a friend, and the best I could find was Made in Thailand.

What am I not thinking of?