Gotta get me some Lovin

Lovin' Scoopful, that is! I had the chance to taste some ice cream at the Maria Shriver book signing event I attended. I know it doesn't look like Maria Shriver ever eats ice cream, but she and her brother Tim actually founded the company that makes it. They donate 25% of the profits to the Special Olympics (which was founded by their mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver).

The ice cream itself is delicious. They had all 5 flavors available but I decided not to be piggy and only tried 3: Cozy Vanilla, Caramel Chocolate Heaven, and What the Fudge. WTF!!! was my favorite; their vanilla was, well, vanilla, and I found the caramel overly sweet (which, for a sweet-tooth caramel-lover like me, is saying something). But the texture was great: it was pleasantly creamy, not watery.

Low fat, low cal, low guilt. High in taste, high in social awareness. Suffice it to say, it's now on my favorite "healthy" ice cream list (which also includes Skinny Cow and Dreyers Churned Light).
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Lands End Deals and Steals

Summer is coming... time to buy swimwear! Honestly, the kids' swimsuits are so old, they have hardly any elasticity left. They're running around with plumber's-crack bottoms and swim shirts (or tankini tops) that stretch to their knees when they get wet.

So it's off to Lands' End for a one-stop swimsuit stock-up. I love their UPF 50 swimsuits for kids -- I don't have to worry about stripping them naked and reapplying sunscreen to their torsos after 2 hours in the pool.

I have to hurry, though -- Today is the last day for Lands' End's $25 off $100 offer! Just enter Voucher Number 6046319334612576 and PIN 98890011 in the "Gift Card & Voucher" payment area when you check out online.

And for even more purchasing power, how about a free Land's End $100 Giftcard? My fellow US Mom Blogs contributor Kim is hosting a super giveaway on her blog, Hormone-Colored Days. Head on over to her site and leave a comment to enter!
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MOMocrats Mother's Day Giveaway

So who are you supporting this election season? Say it out loud and say it proud! Head on over to the MOMocrats and join their Mother's Day Giveaway for a chance to nab yourself some cool Obama or Hillary swag....
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The best product ever


How's this for a product review: Mosquito nets. Simple, plastic or cloth woven things that people sleep under at night. Some of them look really cool and classy, like something from Out of Africa. Some of them look horribly tacky. But they keep mosquitoes from biting you. And in many areas of the world, they save lives. And that makes them one of the best products I'm ever going to review. Period.
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Knut is keeeyoot!

What better way to celebrate Earth Day than talking about one of our family's newest books: Knut: How one little Polar Bear Captivated the World. This book tells the story of how Knut (that's Kuh-NOOT) the baby polar bear found himself without a mother, how he was raised by his dedicated zookeeper, Thomas, and how he ended up capturing the hearts of millions of people around the world. Reading this story is a great way to raise kids' awareness of the plight of endangered animals and the relation between our actions, global warming and endangered species.

Despite Alfie's initial reservations ("It's too long", "Too much text", "Too complicated"), the book has quickly become a bedtime favorite. Part of the reason is the gorgeous photographs of baby Knut looking soft, cuddly and oh-so-adorable. I'm not especially fond of huge, smelly animals, but even I found myself looking at the gorgeous photos and cooing, "Awwww, Knut is sooooo cute!!".
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And More American Girl coloring pages

If you loved the American Girl coloring pages in my previous post, you'll love these even more!

Here are links to all my American Girl coloring pages. Enjoy!
Coconut and Licorice
American Girl Fashions
Rebecca Paper Dolls
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American Girl coloring pages

For her American Girl themed birthday party this Sunday, The Pea told me she wanted some of crafts and activities that her guests could do while waiting for everyone to arrive. We're planning on making some dolls' felt purses, but The Pea told me that she and her friends would love some pages to color and cut out to make frames, greeting cards, etc..

Unfortunately there don't seem to be any American Girl coloring pages on the web anywhere, even on the American Girl website. So I took matters into my own hands and bought a copy of Coconut's Poster Pages. I photocopied the pages so that the girls will be able to color and craft to their heart's content:

Here are links to more of my American Girl coloring pages. Enjoy!
Coconut and Licorice
American Girl Fashions
Rebecca Paper Dolls
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Book Giveaway: Parenting, Inc.

I love my kids. And I love to shop. Put the two together and you have a potential bank balance disaster. I manage to curb my spending by being very strict about separating the things my kids actually need versus the things I want them to have. But what if you can't tell the difference?

When The Pea was a baby, I remember agonizing over whether to buy a $250 Combi UltraSavvy stroller (we did). When 3Po and CleanBoy were babies, I remember agonizing over whether to buy a $550 Mountain Buggy Urban double stroller (we bought a $250 Target knockoff). Did we need it? Would we have been happy with a $60 Graco stroller? Thank goodness I don't have a baby anymore, because now I would be agonizing over whether to buy a $900 Bugaboo Chameleon.

The number of products and services related to babies and parenting has exploded in the past several years. It's out of control. Consider this: the New Parents Checklist on the Babies-R-Us website 173 items, not including organic baby products. The stroller section alone has 9 items. So what's a new parent to do?

For guidance during both my pregnancies, I turned to Denise and Alan Fields' book, Baby Bargains, a great buyer's guide with honest reviews. Here's another book that I wish I could have turned to for advice: Pamela Paul's Parenting, Inc: How We are Sold on $800 Strollers, Fetal Education, Baby Sign Language, Sleeping Coaches, Toddler Couture, and Diaper Wipe Warmers -- and What It Means for Our Children.

Everyone wants what is best for our children. This book tells us that you don't have to break the bank to do so. As such, it's a must-read for every parent who worries that forgoing Baby Einstein tapes will impede his baby's intellectual development. By tracing the development and motivation behind today's rampant parent consumerism, this book helps separate marketing from merit, benefits from b***s**t -- and ultimately, helps parents make informed decisions about the purchases they make.

I was particularly struck by one of the book's central themes, that catering to our children's every real and imagined need is not only unnecessary, it's detrimental. Just as antibacterial soaps may be robbing our bodies of the natural ability to fight germs, over-pampering children with all sorts of products impedes their ability to adapt to less-than-perfect situations. Take baby wipe warmers: if your baby can't even deal with a cold butt now, how in the world is he going to learn to cope with any sort of discomfort when he's older?

Whether you're agonizing about buying a Bugaboo Chameleon or just want a good read, you'll enjoy this book. And now here's a chance to get it for free: Just leave your comment here and tell us about the silliest baby item you have given or received, and you'll be entered to win a copy of Pamela Paul's book, Parenting Inc. I'll select a winner randomly on Wednesday, April 16 (sorry, open to US residents only). Good luck!
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