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August 24, 2007

Wii Boogie - U Can't Stop This.

I recently became indoctrinated into the Mother-Daughter Sorority of Kappa Kappa Wii, which is another full entry sitting in my drafts. I'll post that this weekend. Anyway, as a proud (and addicted) Wii Mom, when The Parent Bloggers Network offered me the chance to play Wii Boogie with my family before it was released in stores, I was all over it.

You see, I'd had the chance to play with it a little bit at my Wii party, but having my own copy? In my own living room? Where I could challenge my poor husband to a dance and karaoke-off, using the included microphone? Aw yeah.

Hard-core gamers, scoff all you want. Wii Boogie is hilarious to play, and my entire family gets into it. And with its up on your feet, move-it-or-lose-it game play, Boogie has unexpectedly effective cardio built in.

I've got some things I love about it, and some things I would like to see changed: Let's start with the not-so-good:

The characters are really cute, but the only female character is, while adorable, a tiny-waisted club-looking girl. That's fine for me (heh) but my younger girls, at four and eight years old, would rather play with the little cat character. It would have been nice to have the option for them to cute-up some of the male characters, and not be locked into being a hottie.

The song selections - why oh why was it necessary to include heavily edited versions of songs like Milkshake? With a whole wide world of great songs, why take this paean to the mystical power of Kelis' T&A and edit it to the point of sheer nonsense? I mean, if they wanted nonsense, they could have used Gwen Stefani's Hollaback Girl. And yet, including Slave4U, that Pussycat Dolls song, with little or no editing... let's just say that it boggles the mind what is considered truly objectionable, and what is still okay.

I will say that having Milkshake on the program made for an entertaining discussion with my very literal four-year-old, who imagines that the milkshake in question must be chocolate, and be available at a lemonade-type stand in "that lady's" yard, and she probably charges a quarter for it because it is so delicious. Yes. That is exactly what is going on.

Now for the funny stuff: we've been able to determine which of my children has natural rhythm, and we've discovered that karaoke to songs we thought we knew is rather humbling. We're pretty good on the choruses, but you get us into the rest of the lyrics, and we're hopeless.

We're all like "Muh nuh nuh hum mhn ba duh duh nuh mmm She's a Brick! House!..."

That doesn't stop us in the least, for what its worth. The husband and I have gone head to head nightly (and I kick his sorry butt.) I've got to say Karma Chameleon is still pretty damn catchy after all these years. And it cracks me up to see the kids trying to sing the songs and then giving up, substituting their own words for the provided lyrics. Just like their mama.

I also love the fact that we can play the game together, and it requires an enthusiastic effort with the Wii remotes. Like the other games for the Wii console, Boogie gets you up off the couch and happily flailing to the beat. For a family that spends plenty of time stationary, whether at school or at work, having a fun dance break gets the blood flowing and everyone laughing.

We haven't tapped into the game's story mode yet - we're having too much fun just gettin' down with our bad selves. Wii Boogie is rated for ages 10 and up, but as you can tell, even my four-year-old can have fun making her character jump, spin and back-flip around the screen. We love it.

For more reviews, check out the roundup at The Parent Bloggers Network. For more information on Wii Boogie, you can visit Nintendo, or EA Games. To get your own copy, shop here..

August 23, 2007

KINeSYS Performance Sunblock

When the Parent Bloggers Network asked me to test out KINeSYS sunblock, I was more than ready. We've spent a lot of money on sunblocks that work...for the most part. We adhere to the guidelines - applying more than 20 minutes before sun exposure, reapplying hourly after swimming or heavy exercise - and yet my children and I are all sporting rather pronounced tan lines. This tells me that our current sun coverage isn't as complete as it should be.

Another problem I have with most sunblocks is the consistency. Either they are greasy, or sticky, and a day at the beach turns into a sand-adhering nightmare, with reapplications turning into exfoliation sessions. The kids hate it, I hate it and we're still exposing our skin to potentially harmful rays.

What's a mom to do, right? I'd never heard of KINeSYS before - it is sold places like REI, which isn't on my weekly grocery run, but I was impressed from the moment I cracked open my samples. It's paba, oil, and alcohol free -- water resistent and sweat resistent -- and the kid's version is fragrance-free. This is an important item on my list, because two summers ago, while at DisneyWorld in 105 degree heat, all three of my kids had a violently painful reaction to a mass-marketed kids sunblock stick. It was the first time we had tried that particular brand, and within moments of application, they were all screaming and crying and begging me to wash it off. I've been very wary since that time - and I'm happy to say that KINeSYS passed the Lauck Kids Face test with flying colors.

We recently spent the day at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, and I sprayed the kids with the kid's sunblock, and applied the adult's version (which smells totally yummy, but didn't attract bees!) to myself and the husband. I reapplied once, around 6 hours into our day in the sun, and guess what? NO COLOR.

That's right - it worked all day long, with only one reapplication. And there was not a hint of any tanning on any of us. I'm totally impressed.

The KINeSYS stick has been in my purse since I got it, and it is perfect for those quick reapplications at the park or pool. The spray makes it easy to apply in the morning before rushing the kids off to school, and I can trust that they are good to go, even through several broiling recesses and playing at the park after school. This is a great product, and I'll be stocking up for the fall.

To find out more about KINeSYS, you can visit their website here. To read more reactions from Parent Bloggers Network Bloggers, check out the roundup of reviews. To order KINeSYS products you can check out the selection here.

August 6, 2007

Mother Talk Blog Tour - The Other Mother

Today is Three Kid Circus Auditions' stop on the Mother Talk Blog Tour for Gwendolyn Gross' latest novel, The Other Mother. With all the press received about the so-called "mommy wars" - I'll admit I wasn't sure I even wanted to read a fictional tale of strife between a stay-at-home mother and a working mother. Curiosity won out, though, and I was quickly drawn into this darkly drawn novel.

from the back cover:

"Amanda is a successful book editor at a prominent publishing house in New York City. Thea is a stay-at-home mother of three who has never really left the community in which she grew up. Amanda, eight months pregnant with her first child, and her husband move in next door to Thea and her family, and the two women are both drawn to and repelled by each other and their opposing choices in the constant struggle to balance career with family life.

When a disaster forces Amanda and her family to take refuge in Thea's home, the underlying tensions simmering between them are pushed to the surface -- even more so when Thea fills in as Amanda's temporary nanny. But once dead animals start appearing on Thea's front porch -- surely a macabre gift from Amanda -- the battle with "The Other Mother" begins in earnest.

A compelling story about family, work, and the constant push and pull of contemporary womanhood, this stunning, dark, suspenseful novel is as brave as it is shocking."

From the opening chapters, the stories of Thea and Amanda play out in parallel, and the view from both sides of the fence grows increasingly tangled and conflicted. Gross illustrates her character's world with poetic, descriptive passages that add richness and build tension masterfully. I couldn't put "The Other Mother" down, and was left with a vague sense of disquiet upon closing the book.

I've got two extra copies on hand - if you'd like to win a copy, leave me a comment on this post, and I'll randomly pick two of you.

For more reviews from my fellow Mother Talk Bloggers - check out the roundup post here. To get your own copy of The Other Mother, or to visit author Gwendolen Gross at her site click here.

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