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September 14, 2007

RYKA - MC2 Run Running Shoes

Oh, Parent Bloggers Network - you know me so well. All it took was the words "free running shoes" and I was jumping up and down and saying "Me! Me! Me!"

That was about six weeks ago... and for the last month, I've been prancing around town in my pair of RYKA MC2 Run shoes. Prancing, I tell you.

I should back up a bit, and explain about my feet. You see, I have what I affectionately refer to as "Tree Climbing Feet" - wide across the balls of the feet and narrow at the heel. Add to that really high arches, a tendency toward shin splints, grotesque swelling at random times and man, you are totally hot for me now, aren't you? Ahahahaha.

Yeah. Anyway, my feet suck. They make it really hard to find supportive shoes that don't either cause blisters, aggregate my splint-prone calves. After several aborted attempts at becoming a jogger, I finally found my 'thing' with indoor walking/jogging. I know, it isn't the same as running down a trail in a coordinated outfit (which RYKA also has! Really cute ones!) but I still need supportive, cushioned shoes to keep me going through a 65 minute walking/jogging intervals class. My last shoes felt great, but looked like orthopedic nightmares, and I resigned myself to looking like a Mom Who Wears Sensible, Ugly Footwear.

I put in my wishlist to RYKA, and when the box of shoes arrived, I almost did a back handspring*. Look! These shoes are so cool!

MC2 Run.jpg

They aren't just cool looking - no. These are performance shoes. From the very first workout, I noticed how much lighter these shoes were than my orthopedic monstrosities. With just the right amount of flex and plenty of cushioning at the heel and ball of the foot, I was surprised at how light these shoes felt. More importantly, the heel stayed put - no blisters! - and the roomy toe-box on the shoe accommodated my extra-wide monkey toes with no crunching or compressing.

Not only fantastic for working out - the MC2 Run was a comfortable, good-looking addition to my wardrobe. I actually got compliments on my sneakers for the first time in, like, ever. They have become my go-to choice on a daily basis. I'm looking forward to checking out some of the other shoes in the lineup - it appears that they have something for every foot out there. They've even got a handy way to check out what type of foot you have (something I ended up doing at a specialist shoe store months ago - where were you then, Ryka?) and a great quiz to help determine the best shoe for you.

To check out what the other Parent Bloggers Network bloggers had to say, check out the roundup. To find out more about Ryka products, you can visit their website - they are giving away shoes and clothes!

* I say almost, because no way no how am I doing a back-handspring. No. Not even if you beg.

September 8, 2007

Girlology: Hang-Ups, Hook-Ups, and Holding Out

Cover Girlology Hang-Ups.jpgToday is Three Kid Circus Auditions' stop on the Parent Blogger Network Blog Tour for Girlology: Hang-Ups, Hook-Ups and Holding Out, the highly-anticipated book from Melisa Holmes M.D. and Trish Hutchison, M.D.

Apparently I'm the last person on the planet to get wind of Girlology - this popular educational curriculum created by Dr. Holmes and Dr. Hutchison spawned a website: www.girlology.com and the original book, Girlology: A Girl's Guide to Stuff That Matters. This fantastic series of books tackles some of the toughest topics for young women with confidence and directness. Rather than preaching or admonishing girls to follow a rigid, antiquated set of rules, Holmes and Hutchison present case studies - in the form of anecdotes - that delve into the real-life situations that most girls will encounter, or at least hear about through the grapevine, and then break down the important issues in a concise, straight-talking question and answer section.

As a mother of a sooner-than-I'd-like-to-be tween, I'm already bracing myself for the inevitable questions - and I'm coming up short. I'm absolutely thrilled to know that there is a wonderful series of books that takes on these topics. (I can't imagine discussing some of these topics with my now-eight-year-old daughter, even when she is older, but just because I'm having a hard time envisioning a discussion about whether oral sex does or doesn't count as 'real' sex, doesn't mean that her friends won't go there - and probably not when they are in college, either.)

I really liked this book - Holmes and Hutchison had this to say about Girlology: Hang-Ups, Hook-Ups and Holding Out:

Our new book is definitely for the teen that still needs advice, but also needs more detailed information for "damage control." By this age, they're past the puberty stuff and they've already established some personal values and behavioral patterns. Some are already having sex, and many are thinking about it. Hang-Ups, Hook-Ups and Holding Out still emphasizes the importance of a committed adult relationship as the best setting for sexual intercourse, but it offers viatl information that can help teens make smart and safe decisions about their health, relationships, risk taking and sexual behaviors.

I really enjoyed the open-minded approach - good and bad decisions are presented and analyzed. The great Think it Through sections at the end of each chapter are a fun, eye-catching way to help young women work through a situation and come to some very important conclusions.

Girlology is a great find - especially for those of us who don't know how or where to start with all of this. I'm putting this one on the shelf for later years when my daughters are ready - I have no doubt that it will be a welcome resource for both of us.

To see what other Parent Bloggers Network tour members had to say, please check out the roundup.
Click here to get your own copy of Girlology: Hang-Ups, Hook-Ups and Holding Out.

And to find out more about Girlology and the authors, visit www.girlology.com.

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.

June 28, 2007

Skin MD™ Natural Shielding Lotion

I've got the driest skin on the planet. Seriously, come summer time (and mid-winter) I become lizard woman if I'm not a slave to my moisturizers. I'm also quite fickle about my moisturizers...I'm sort-of gullible when it comes to beauty product advertising. I want to believe that I can look 10 years younger with the right lipstick. Never mind that most days I can't be bothered with lipstick. So when I hear that a certain brand of lotion or cream is the end-all, be-all for keeping skin soft, I'm all over it.

The folks over at 21st Century Formulations must have gotten wind of my lizard skin, because they kindly offered me the chance to try their new Skin MD™ Natural Shielding Lotion, billed as the Ultimate Dry Skin Solution. I've been using it for a couple of months now - and I've got to say, I see a huge improvement in the way my skin retains moisture. I guess the way it works is that it forms a natural barrier on the skin - which keeps moisture in, and keeps other products from harming the skin.

They sent me this video to prove their point - It shows Skin MD Natural protecting skin from rock-dissolving acid!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QMYqFO4qD2E

Dude, I don't know about all that action, but I really like the fact that it contains aloe, Arnica Montana, and chamomile. It has been a really, truly effective way to keep my skin looking and feeling hydrated. Finally, a lotion that lives up to the hype. I'm a believer. At $25 a bottle, it isn't cheap - but well worth the cost.

To get your own, visit 21st Century Formulations on the web, or call 1-800-540-4790

February 28, 2007

Nozin - All Up In My Nose

Just before my recent trip to Hawaii, I was offered a sample of Nozin, which is a new Nasal Sanitizer product. Knowing how germy airplanes can be, I figured I would give it a try. I mean, shoot...sticking things up my nose in public is nothing new. And eight hours of germ fighting goodness? Bring it, I say!

These little pre-loaded swabs are filled with a homeopathic solution that fight germs before they have a chance to take hold. I tend to be skeptical about these things - but I've been sick after flights often enough to put aside the doubt. The travel pack I received contained 10 little swabs in a cute plastic box. Before I entered the airport on the morning of my flight, I swabbed. It smells citrusy, and it took 5 seconds. Before my return flight, I swabbed again. This time, I did it in the boarding area. I got a few curious looks from other passengers, but I played it off, because I am super cool!

But hey - I returned home with no sickness. Even though my seatmate on the flight home was hacking and sneezing, and despite the coughing and nose blowing that was going on all over the plane, I was untainted. And despite coming home to a sick family, I've been swabbing once a day and I'm still not sick. For a woman who is frequently treated like a human tissue, who is sprayed with sneezes and coughed on with abandon - this whole germ resistant thing is working like a charm.

Maybe I'm just lucky this time. Maybe.

But maybe it's the Nozin keeping the germs at bay. You be the judge.

(And the little box is really cute!)

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.