Thursday, April 19, 2007

Comfy Cozi

Like most families, we are always on the go. We usually don't know from one night to the next who has to work late, who is making the tae kwon do run, who is hitting the grocery store, who is taking the dog to the vet, and all the other fifty gazillion things we encounter on a daily basis. As I told someone a while ago, I really could use a wife to keep myself straight. Not sure if Joey would have a problem with that, but I'm all about it.

Well, Cozi might be the answer. When Parent Bloggers asked me if I'd be interested in reviewing it, I got pretty excited. Both Joey and I are Outlookaholics at work and we email each other all day long as well as keeping our separate calendars going. So when I started looking at Cozi and the features it offers, I thought it was pretty intriguing.

Cozi is a completely free download that provides you with your own personal assistant. First of all, it has a family calendar that is color-coded for each family member. At a glance, you can look at the calendar's events and tell who in the family has to be there. For example, if only Joey and Monkey Man have to be at a playdate, it's noted on the calendar as "Playdate" with a dot with each of their colors on it. If the entire family has to go, there's a different color dot for that. Joey can make changes from his office, I can make changes from mine, and then both of us can log in at any time and see what everyone in the family has going on. Even at a glance, you can keep on juggling everything and know who is supposed to be where.

Another great feature is the list features. Divided up into four types - grocery, wholesale, other and new list - you can keep a running list going at any time. I typically scribble down stuff as I think about it at work on Post-Its and you know what happens to those, right? They go straight into the Burmuda Triangle in my handbag. This lets me put down bananas on the list if I think about it at a nice convenient time like when my boss is yelling at me about not being able to find something. And the coolest feature of all is that if you forget your list, you can call the toll-free number that Cozi provides and have it read to you or sent as a text message to your cell phone. Now that, my friends, is wickedly cool stuff.

There is a messaging feature as well that you can use to send a message to the people in your family. At this point, apparently, the program doesn't allow the recipient to respond - which for me is fine, because that's what I like to use e-mail for. This messaging feature is more for things like "don't forget the milk." Or to make sure your spouse picks the kids up at school before CPS does.

Cozi also offers a photo collage feature. I didn't have an opportunity to check this out, but if you check out the Cozi blog you can see what some other creative folks have done. I can't wait to try this feature out!

The best part about Cozi is that not only is it user friendly, but it is totally free. So you can download it, give it a whirl, and fall madly in love. You know, because it's cheaper than getting another wife to keep your schedule straight for you. Stop on by Cozi and check out the interactive demonstration to see everything this amazing program can do.

Parent Bloggers Network

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Let's Get Ready for Kindergarten!

On April 26th, I will not only be the bawling basketcase standing in line at Kindergarten registration, I will be the nervous competimommy pacing back and forth while Monkey Man is tested for readiness.

So when Parent Bloggers contacted me about my interest in reviewing Let's Get Ready for Kindergarten! I was intrigued. Hey, we've been paying out the wazoo to send him to The World's Most Expensive Preschool for five years now - what better way to see if we've gotten our money's worth?

Let's face it - when kindergarten time rolls around you are afraid. How is my kid going to stack up with the other kids? My kid can't remember to cover his mouth when he coughs, how is he ever going to remember his shapes or numbers?

Let's Get Ready for Kindergarten is an amazing book. First of all, the entire book is laminated, allowing you to use a dry-erase marker wherever you want. And it wipes completely off with no traces of marker left (unlike some other alleged "wipe-off" books we've tried before). I liked the size, too - I was able to tuck it into my bag easily and tote it along on a few outings where I knew we'd have some time to kill and it was perfect. Each page has a separate activity, so you can touch on things fairly quickly and move onto the next thing.

After being bombarded with knowledge all day long at The World's Most Expensive Preschool, I knew that Monkey Man would probably show some resistance to the book. Heck, half the time it's a death match to get him to do his homework. Well, not with Let's Get Ready. He immediately started going through page by page, asking questions and we worked our way through the entire book in about twenty minutes. He was intrigued with the sample telephone key pad where you can practice dialing your telephone number - a very handy skill to have, and I'm hoping he only uses it for good versus learning to dial any 900 numbers. Ahem.

Not only does each page have a different activity, but at the bottom you have "Mrs. Good", the teacher, who suggests other things you can do on the page - like "Can you name another pair of opposites?" I liked that feature a lot - not only did they have some creative ideas, but sometimes just a word of encouragement like "Magnificent!"

So when all was said and done, Monkey Man did very well. He has a few weak areas like skip counting, but we have enough time to work on that so hopefully by the time school starts he'll have no problem at all. And the cool part is that every few days since we got the book, he's brought it out of his backpack and asked to work on it with me or my husband. And considering how overloaded he is after a day at preschool, I'd say that's a ringing endorsement.

Let's Get Ready for Kindergarten! has a sister book, Let's Get Ready for First Grade! Both are available for purchase from the publisher, Cedar Valley Publishing, and if you want to get a jumpstart on making sure your child is ready, I highly recommend this book. I already have plans to use it all summer as a refresher, both for Monkey Man and myself.

Want a chance to win these cool books? Stop on by at Parent Bloggers and post a comment on any of the posts about the Let's Get Ready series, and a winner will be selected at random to receive a free set of these books. How cool is that?

Parent Bloggers Network

Sunday, April 8, 2007

No more 911 for my skin - emerginC skincare

When I first started doing this product review thing, I promised that I would share any cool products with you that I stumbled on and tried out myself. I've been sitting on this one for a while - mostly just because I wanted to make sure that this stuff worked as well as I thought it did before I stuck my neck out there.

Y'all know I loves me some skin products. And hair products. And whatever else will make me the best-looking corpse at the funeral home. I've spent hours discussing the agony of bad skin as an adult, just when you thought that zits went away with the teenage years. Well, when we were in Las Vegas early last month I splurged one afternoon and went to the spa at the Wynn Las Vegas. There I had an amazing esthetician who introduced me to the emerginC line of skincare products

I was skeptical. I've battled with oily skin and breakouts since I was about 10. For the past few years, I was a diehard Philosophy fan and had been relatively fond of their products. However, I'd tried a few of their newer products lately with not-so-great results, like some breakouts and flaky skin. So when I got a full facial with the emerginC products and saw how great my skin looked, I went back to the spa shop and bought some of the products to take home and try out.

The regimen that she recommended was using the No-Comedone pore cleansing lotion twice a day, the Crude Control hydrating lotion twice a day, and the Micro-Scrub two or three times a week. And since I was already going whole-hog, I decided to go with some of the Deglazing Cleanser as well

The Deglazing Cleanser is soap-free, which immediately attracted me because if you're like me, you've been brainwashed for years that soap on your face is the root of all evil. The esthetician didn't recommend it, and now I know why. First, it has a very unpleasant smell and look - it looks like some kind of greenish-yellowish goop and has a sulfur-like smell to it. The good part is that it does get your skin clean - but for me, it is almost too drying and even using the hydrating lotion afterwards left my skin feeling tight. I will probably put this away to use for times when my skin is very oily (like the dead of summer or when everyone's favorite relative Aunt Flo is in town) and stay with a mild cleanser like Philosophy's Purity Made Simple for everyday use. Another positive is that it takes a very minute amount to work and make your skin clean, so one bottle will last a very long time

After cleansing, you should use the No-Comedone Pore Cleansing Lotion. To call it a lotion is kind of a misnomer to me - instead of a lotion-like consistency, it's liquidy like a toner. I put some on a cotton pad and wipe it all over my face. Now this stuff - this is gold. I have noticed a significant improvement in my skin - all the little bumps on it have greatly decreased and the quantity of huge zits has gone drastically down. I really think this is worth it's weight in gold, and the esthetician told me that if I only went home with one thing that this would be what she would recommend.

All this is followed by their lotion, Crude Control. The scent is almost a little sickly sweet to me, but it definitely leaves the skin feeling soft and supple. After my skin peel last week, the after-peel balm that I had been given by the facialist didn't do a great job of combating the flaking. Well, Crude Control did - I put a little extra on the flaky areas and it definitely helped without leaving me feeling greasy. Crude Control is also great under foundation and does a good job keeping the oil under check during the daytime - you still have a healthy glow but not like your face is sopping in oil and your foundation stays in place very well

A bonus that I bought was the Micro-Scrub. I was a big fan of the Philosophy micropeel kit, so I was a little afraid that I wouldn't like the Micro-Scrub as well. Well, I do. You need just a teensy bit for your entire face, it washes off cleanly, and frankly was a lot less messy than other scrubs I've tried before. It has done a great job both before and after the face peel that I have removing the dead skin and keeping a nice glow on my face.

So, you ask, how do I get these and am I going to have to get a second mortgage on my house to afford it? Well, the most expensive item is the Crude Control, which runs a stiff $48 for two ounces - however, after having it for a month, I still have half of a bottle left and have used it twice a day except for 3 days after my peel. You need so little that I think a bottle could potentially last you almost two months. I would probably avoid the Deglazing Cleanser unless you have super-oily skin - it's a more reasonable $24.50 for 4.4 ounces and you can use a dime-sized amount and get great results, so a bottle of that would last a long time. The No-Comedone Lotion is priced at $22.50 and in my opinion, the most valuable part of this entire equation. The Micro-Scrub at $28.00 is very nice, but you could do without it if you're watching your dollars. If I had to pick the must-have items from this collection, I'd definitely do the No-Comedone Lotion and the Crude Control hydrating emulsion.

Where can you get them? They're available at fine spas and salons throughout the country, but I found that you can order them directly from the emerginC website and the shipping was a flat fee of $6.50 no matter what you ordered. I just placed my first order directly from them, so I'll be anxious to see how quickly it arrives.

So why do I like it? Well, it's the first thing I've tried in a long time that had quick and noticable results. Even after my last trip to the facial place, I reverted back to the emerginC products after trying what the facialist recommended for a few days and my face revolted. After my face peel last week, I developed a nasty zit on my chin from using the after-peel balm, but after two days back on the emerginC products it is almost gone. I can't help but feel like I've stumbled on something special.

So, trot on over to emerginC's website and check it out. They have a ton of other products too, like some yummy face washes.