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January 31, 2007

Athletic Baby DVDs - Soccer!

I'm pleased to be part of The Parent Bloggers Network's blog tour for the latest offering from Athletic Baby DVD - Soccer!

I watched this charming DVD with my four-year-old. She's a little too old to appreciate this DVD, but I confess that I enjoyed it quite a bit. This is not a "how to play soccer" movie. Rather, it is a sensory experience that would have had all three of my children cooing and mesmerized when they were young toddlers. The soundtrack is wonderful, and the variety of images - from babies with soccer balls all the way up to teenagers running drills at soccer camp - really adds interest. There is no emphasis placed on methods or correct game play. The focus is on playing and exploration.

For a family with older siblings or parents that are soccer fans, this is a very gentle and subtle introduction to the game. However, I believe this would be a favorite DVD for just about any baby, regardless of their interest in sports.

Athletic Baby has a fine assortment of DVDs for babies as young as 3 months. Go check them out!

January 25, 2007

12 day Body Shaping Miracle

Over at my healthy living blog - Big Slice of Life, Small Slice of Cheesecake, I have been struggling to shed 50 pounds. I've managed to lose 12, but it has taken me nearly a year, and I've suffered all sorts of setbacks, most of them self-inflicted. In my never-ending quest to find the magic answer to my slow weight loss, I've been reading a ton of diet and exercise books. I recently recieved a large stack of upcoming books to review, and the first one I pulled out of the pile was Michael Thurmond's 12 day Body Shaping Miracle.

The cover announces Michael Thurmond as "TV's #1 Diet and Fitness Makeover Expert, and Author of the New York Times Bestseller 6-Day Body Makeover. This is my first exposure to Mr. Thurmond, but some of you may know him from his work on Extreme Makeover.

Throughout the book, Thurmond addresses readers in a straightforward, non-judgemental manner. Rather than dwell on how the excess weight (or lack of muscle) happened, he provides tools to determine how your body will respond to diet and exercise, and provides a plan of attack.

Regardless of your individual body type, you have the physical potential to develop a beautiful body and an attractive shape through diet and exercise. Knowing your body type is the first step toward attaining these goals.

I really appreciated the lack of condescending language. Thurmond assumes that you are ready, willing and able to tackle his program, and quickly establishes his authority without spending page after page trying to sell you on his expertise.

Thurmond's chapter on the mind-body connection, with suggestions for positive visualization and relaxation techniques is another example of how this book is overwhelmingly positive and empowering. Thurmond doesn't promise drastic weight loss or dramatic physical difference, although he does present testimonials from clients who have experienced incredible changes over 12 days. What he does offer is the chance to see visible progress for those who apply the techniques he advocates.

With clearly explained, photo-illustrated exercises, sample meal plans and guidelines, and encouragement free from cheerleading, Michael Thurmond's 12 day Body Shaping Miracle is an impressive resource for those of us who have managed to get off the couch, but aren't sure what to do next. I highly recommend it.

January 23, 2007

Mother Talk Blog Tour - Babyproofing Your Marriage

Today is Three Kid Circus's stop on this week's Mother Talk Blog Tour for the highly anticipated new book Babyproofing Your Marriage. The tagline reads: How to laugh more, argue less, and communicate better as your family grows. I think most marriages could do with a few helpful pointers in those areas, right?

I'll admit, when I first cracked open Babyproofing Your Marriage, I was put off. I did my usual open the cover, jump around reading random pages, scan the final pages, and I wasn't ready for what I found. At first pass, the language seemed flippant, the anecdotes I read seemed overly negative, and the vibe of the book seemed harsh.

Don't do what I did. Start at the beginning, and read the book as it is meant to be read. Despite my initial reaction, I settled down into a chair after a long day, and dove in. When I surfaced several hours later, pages were turned down, passages were highlighted, and my husband was reading over my shoulder. I honestly think my knee-jerk reaction to the first few anecdotes and passages I read was due to the real-life experience I have with many of the emotions and realities recounted in this book.

Stacie Cockrell, Cathy O'Neill and Julia Stone are all longtime friends, and it comes across in the writing. The tone is chatty, humorous and down-to-earth. The three authors have seven children between them, "...none of whom have yet set foot in a Kindergarten. Needless to say, we lived this book as we wrote it." Ah, my favorite kind of 'experts!' Those that are walking the walk, not just talking the talk.

Cockrell, O'Neill and Stone conducted a bazillion interviews with parents, and present the good, the bad and the ugly in a straight-forward manner. They note early on:

Athough this book is written by women, men get a fair shake and a loud shout. This is not a girl's bitch session; though we don't pull any punches. We've done our best to get the guys' side of the story straight. We didn't always like what they had to say, but we can pretty much guarantee that whether you are a man or a woman, something in here is going to tick you off. Fair enough. Just try to keep an open mind. We found that even the most inflammatory comments helped us learn something.

With my mind locked in the open position, I jumped in. With chapters discussing everything from keeping score to the "Sex Life" of New Parents, dealing with extended family and adding more children to the family, the authors leap right into the middle of the subjects that most new parents struggle with. Even eight years after the birth of my first child, I still found myself wincing over some of these problem areas. Babyproofing Your Marriage is written with newbie parents in mind, but many of their astute observations and troubleshooting tips can be applied by seasoned parents as well.

My appreciation for Babyproofing Your Marriage continues to grow as I reflect back on some of the passages I reacted strongly to. Even though I've hashed over these trouble spots with friends time and again, and I know that most of my friends had similar struggles, it would have been very empowering to know that some of these problems are almost universal, especially as a newly minted parent.

Babyproofing Your Marriage offers tools to get the conversation started, and suggestions for resolving some of the strife that comes from adding a new member to the family. I think that Babyproofing Your Marriage is a great addition to the growing library of parenting books that tell it like it really is.

For more reviews from your favorite Mother Talk Bloggers, check here
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Babyproofing Your Marriage is on sale today!

For more about the authors and the book, you can visit their site

January 22, 2007

Revolution Health Launches Today

Guess who I just talked to on the phone? At then invitiation of the fabulous Cynthia, I just spoke with Steve Case, who took time out of his busy schedule to speak with Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah, Kelly of Mocha Momma, Mommy Needs Coffee's own Jenn Satterwhite and little old me about his latest venture - RevolutionHealth.com.

The site just launched today, and I'm quite impressed with what they are offering. While the site is still in its infancy, they plan to become to go-to destination for health online, with several great ways to get the information you need to take charge of your own health. You can read the press release here.

The site features tools to rate and compare doctors and health facilities, information on different conditions from top sources, a symptom checker, drug and treatment options and a comprehensive section with tips for healthy living. What really has me enthusiastic is the addition of community features that allow users to share their own experiences with one another, in addition to getting advice from medical experts.

As a mother, and a mommyblogger, I have learned more about childhood illnesses, vaccinations, learning delays, you name it, from my peers. The first place that many of us turn is the internet - and frankly, with millions of search results for the average symptom, it can be a scary process trying to find out what you need to know. Revolution Health has built-in categories, and can help you find a knowledgeable group of peers, as well as the experts you need to make decisions about your family's health.

They also have a service that allows you to speak with a human being (hurry and sign up - they are giving away complimentary year-long memberships for early users.) They have a call center that is staffed with nurses, who can help you determine what time of provider you need to see, and will locate a provider that is accepting patients and is covered by your health plan - while providing all the background information you need about the physician they recommend and their user rating from other members of Revolution Health. They can also help by acting as an intermediary between you and your insurance plan. Knowing first hand how frustrating it can be to deal with coverage and co-pays and deductibles and in-plan doctors - this sounds like an invaluable service.

Go check out the site, and add your own feedback on your health professionals and services - I'm looking forward to seeing how Revolution Health evolves.

January 11, 2007

A Groove Thang

Baby Loves Disco is my kind of party. It has been well-documented that I spend hours shaking my boo-tay with the kids. Those living room dance parties rock the house, literally, since we're apparently missing a foundation support. There have been plenty of times I've been whirling around with a kid or two in my arms, or underfoot, or standing on the couch shaking their little butt in time to the beat, and I've thought that the only thing we needed was disco lighting.

Well, that and more bass. And drink service.

Enter the fine folks behind Baby Loves Disco. Get this: they throw open the doors to awesome clubs, feature some amazing DJs and provide the answer to my disco lighting and more bass and drink service demands. People, the last time I was inside a fancy club was like... okay. It's been years. Let's not dwell. The odds of me hitting one of these amazing clubs and dancing into the wee hours are nil. This mama loves to dance, however, and having the chance to drop a little "Ooh, I was at Ruby Skye last Saturday..." would be awesome. I don't have to let on that it was from 2 to 5 pm. Besides, sharing the experience with my wild dancing maniac children in a family friendly, child-proofed space would be even better. I can't wait.

Get yourself over to their website, and then get your friends on board. Baby Loves Disco is spreading like wildfire across the country - if there isn't one in your area yet, make some noise!

SF Bay Area Parents - let's do this thing. I've got my eyes on February and March...