Friday, May 29, 2009

GoGo Pets Hamsters

Some MORE Added Update at bottom of post and on Boymom blog!!!!!

My Little Man loves him some animals. Creatures of every kind are interesting to him and we have had numerous discussions about what can and cannot come in the house to become a pet.

So far the only things that have made it throught the door are a lizard that he kept in an aquarium and our cat, Blackie Chan. He has BEGGED for a hamster and I have refused to allow one into my home, because I've had hamsters and I know how they smell!

Well, the good people at MomSelect and Cepia have solved one of my long standing pet issues and I have to say...I am grateful. Really, really grateful! Let me show you what we did last week:

(Couldn't get the party video to upload, but here's on of Little Man and the hamster with fresh batteries!)

Can I just say that Go Go Pets Hamsters are one of the best toys to come along since the hoola hoop and Furbies!?! No kidding!

We had a Go Go Pets Party and invited some friends over to try them out with us. Along with the hamsters, we also received a whole Hamster Playset so the kids could experience the hamsters in action. Word to the wise, some of the playset items take a bit of effort to put together. Not like backyard swingset effort, but a little bit of concentration and just a tiny bit of muscle. The playset is made of plastic and did not seem to be cheaply made. I was impressed by the fact that nothing broke on us after we had to take a few things apart after we put them together incorrectly.

The one negative comment I do have regarding the playset items is that the Adventure Ball kept coming apart. It is made of 2 halves that kind of just snap together, but it wasn't a tight fit and the kids got a little frustrated that it kept coming apart. I finally Super Glued it and it works fine now. But if I were spending money on it I would be a little miffed at having spent money on a toy that doesn't hold together well. Maybe mine was defective...don't know.

Anyway...everything else worked wonderfully and although the Hamsters don't go through the Playset as smoothly as the video on the GoGo Pets Website shows, they are still a lot of fun and the kids have had a blast playing with them. They can make over 40 little noises and Little Man takes his with him wherever he goes. The hamster chatter can get a little annoying after a while, but the hamsters shut down on their own after a short time, then there's a button on their back to start them up again.

There are 4 different colors of hamsters availble, each color has it's own name and personality. The Go Go Pets website has more information and some fun games that will help kids get to know their hamster better. The little accessories are fun, it is hilarious to see a hamster driving the little car around. All the kids at the party left with one and most of the parents were interested in picking up an accessory or two for their child. The Hamsters run about $7.99 each and you can pick one up, along with some of the Habitrail accessories at Walmart or Toys R Us.

What do I love most about Go Go Pets Hamsters? No food to buy, no cage to clean, no hamster poo to deal with. In fact, the sticker on the side of the box the toys came in says "Pets without Poop." It left the Fed-X guy who delivered the box scratching his head, so I had to explain the whole Smart Pet thing. He was pretty impressed. So am I. So are my kids and their friends. So are the friends' moms. That's alot of impressed and happy people! I think we have a winner here, folks!

Update: I received an email today from one of the engineers from Cepia, LLC - makers of Go Go Pets Hamsters. They addressed the Adventure Ball issue so that it doesn't come apart anymore and I will be testing the new design. I will post results after the test. But how great is it that they actually took the time to listen to consumers and fix the problem!? Also, I put fresh batteries in both our hamsters today and there was a WORLD of difference in how they performed on the Habitrail! They ran much faster and smoother through the Habitrail thing and my boys enjoyed them a lot more tonight.

Update on New Adventure Ball: Received the new ball last week and the changes that the engineers made were definitely an improvement! The ball has held together well without the Super Glue! I noticed the new one also included a stabilizer to put on the botton of the hamster to keep it from tipping over when it is in the ball, which they tend to do. The stabilizer helped with the tipping issue, but the hamster sometimes got hung up on the lid of the ball with the stabilizer on it. All in all though, the product was much better than the first ball we received. I want to thank Cepia LLC for listening to their consumers and making the necessary product changes to ensure that their customers get a decent product for their money!

Check out the Boymom Blogoversary Giveaway Bash to win a GoGo Pet hamster of your your own!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Chemical-free cleaning with Steamboy T1 Mop Giveaway

Housecleaning causes me lots of stress, mostly because I am still trying to find a way to enjoy it. Because I tend to be a "gadget" person, I can pretend like I would enjoy housework more if I had a cool gadget with which to clean. Like a Steamboy. It's a floor cleaner, folks, not a hot dude in a sauna. Anyway...I'm trying to win one. The floor cleaner, not the hot sauna dude. Unless the sauna dude mops floors, then maybe....

Anyway...Check out this contest at 3 Kids and Us :

Steam clean your way to a greener life with the Steamboy T1 Steam Mop. Chemical-free cleaning with the power of steam just got easier. Read about the experience mom blogger Cat at 3 Kids and Us had with her Steamboy T1 and enter to win a steam mop for your house too! Giveaway ends May 31st.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

ProWash Activewear Detergent Review

I received a pouch of ProWash last week and I have to say, I was pretty skeptical about claims that it could remove sweaty odors that regualr detergents tend to cover up with fragrance. ProWash's website says "ProWash is designed to target perspiration and odor molecules in the wicking of the garment which ordinary detergents cover with perfume. This innovation actually removes odor molecules and detergent residues left by ordinary detergents."

I know A LOT about sweaty odors. I live with boys. Who play really hard. In the desert heat. They dig holes and play with the neighbor's smelly dogs and catch lizards. My husband is a Pool Man who works outside all day. And I won't even go into my whole peri-menopause thing, but my hot flashes are leaving me with "pit" odors and stains on some of my cotton/poly blend t-shirts. The smells that come from my hamper would bring the inventor of Limberger Cheese to his knees. So I was eager to see if the stuff really works.

Using the stuff was a little difficult at first, just because I had to get used to not squeezing the pouch too hard when I poured the liquid in the little measuring cup, thereby shooting the liquid out of the top and all over the floor. I used a little bit more that the recommended amount on my first load of stuff, which consisted of more than just "activewear." Anything my kids wear should be considered activewear! So the load included cotton t-shirts and shorts, some spandex stuff and my cotton/poly t-shirts. (Directions say use 1.5 units for front-loaders, with each unit equaling 1 Tablespoon.)

I treated stains and ran the load as I normally do, but without my usual extra rinse cycle. I have to say, when I opened the washer door, there was a pleasant, clean smell. As I transferred the washed clothing to the dryer, I smelled each item and found no icky, sweaty body odors left in most of the clothing. The only articles that did not respond to the detergent were my t-shirts, which made me a little sad. They still had a BO smell and yellow staining. Stinking hormones are wreaking havoc on my t-shirts! I'm gonna run them through again, this time I will pre-treat them with ProWash before I wash them again and see how they do.

The rest of the clothes came out of the dryer smelling fresh, not perfumey. And they felt clean and soft. So...I am giving ProWash a pretty good grade. It did a good job on stinky boy clothes that were covered with dirt and stiff with sweat. I think it will do great on everyday sweaty odors, but it may not be able to deal with really old or set-in underarm stains and odors. If I see a change in my t-shirts after a few more washes I will revisit this review.

The website says that you can add ProWash to your regular laundry, along with detergent, to boost cleaning power and reduce detergent build up. I tried that and did notice my clothes didn't smell like soapy fragrance, but at $10 a pouch, while I will continue to use ProWash for my worst smelly clothing, I'm not sure I will mix it with my regular loads.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Woolite Drycleaner's Secret

I'm not really big on buying clothing that has to be drycleaned. I used to have a whole closet full of dresses that required drycleaning. This was when I owned my own business and was busy in the corporate world. Yeah...Pre-Boymom days. I no longer have most of those dresses for a few reasons. First, I had kids and outgrew a few of them cuz I now have Mom Body. Second, a few picked up stains that never would come out, no matter what anyone tried. And mother-in-law washed about 7 of them, thinking she was doing me a favor, in the washing machine. It never occurred to her to read the labels. How long has this women been doing laundry?! ? So my 7 dryclean only dresses went through the washer and dryer and came out the size of my old doll clothes. I actually cried I was so angry. I swore I would never do drycleaning stuff again. (I don't know why boycotting dryclean only clothes made the situation seem bearable, but it did. I never said I was a rational person!) But we all know "never" rarely means never and I have managed to pick up a few really nice tops and a couple of dresses and a skirt that require I make a visit to the drycleaner once in awhile.

So imagine how excited I was to get the opportunity to try Drycleaner's Secret by Woolite. Drycleaning is getting expensive! The thought of saving gas AND time AND money? I am so on it!

I used one of my blouses with a stain on it (enchilada sauce) and my husband's wrinkled rayon suit pants that were laying in the back of the closet waiting to be dropped off at the drycleaners for the trial run. The pants were dusty and smelled kind of sweaty. Drycleaner's Secret comes in the form of cloths that are moistened (wet would be a better word) with a drycleaning/spotting solution. I followed instructions and put a paper towel behind the stain, then dabbed it with the wet sheet. After a few minutes of working at the stain most of it was gone, but it wasn't completely removed. The pants had no stains, so I threw them in the dryer with the drycleaning cloth and my blouse and ran them on low for 20 minutes. No bags, no hard steps, just throw the cloth in the dryer with the clothes.

The pants came out great! They smelled nice and they were unwrinkled and ready to go! The blouse came out just okay. The stain was still just a tiny bit visible, but the blouse came out looking and smelling really nice other than that.

So...I think the product is fantastic for simple drycleaning of items that need just a freshening up. The stain removal power probably depends on the age and type of stain. I will definitely post another review when I try it on a different type of stain.

Dry Cleaner's Secret comes boxed in a 6 pack, with each sheet capable of cleaning 4 garments per load. That's 24 garments you can clean at home for around $10, which is waaaaaay cheaper than the drycleaner! While it may not work for every garment, it will definitely be part of my laundry routine for items that don't require major surgery to clean.

Stay tuned to I Am Boymom for a chance to win your own box of Drycleaner's Secret!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

$100 Tyson Giveaway @ Busy Mom

Busy Mom is giving away $100 worth of Tyson Any'tizers! I don't know about all of you, but I could use a few bags of quick chicken appetizers n days that are jammed packed with sschool, sports and parent teacher conferences. I was looking at the different products and know my kids would love the Ranch Chen Fries and the Cordon Bleu minis.

Hope I win, but I am willing to share this great contest with ya'll! Head over to Busy Mom and Enter!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Primrose Schools - Where Were They When My Kids Were Younger?

I never wanted to be a mom. I know, a lot of women wouldn't say that out loud, but there it is. I didn't think I would have that nuturing motherly instinct and I didn't want any kids for which I would be responsible to feel like a burden because of my issues, so my plan was to never have them. Then I got married and a year later found myself pregnant. At the time I had my own corporate concierge service and was very busy and enjoying my work and the thought never crossed my mind that I would want to stay home with my child. I assumed I would be back at the office in 6 weeks. Then my oldest, Big Brother was born. My heart melted and my world changed. Work was still there and I was even on the phone the day he was born trying to find some elusive concert tickets for a client. But when it came time to actually head back to the physical office, I found myself completely overwhelmed with sadness and panic at the thought of leaving him with anybody for even an hour, much less a whole day. I was shocked, but happily surprised that those motherly instincts I thought I might be lacking were indeed very present.

After much discussion and some changes within our business, I decided to bypass daycare and work from home while my husband joined the company and worked from the office. I count myself lucky that I had both the choice and the opportunity to stay home with my kids and still earn an income for awhile.

When my next son was 3, I had enough mom experience to know that he would be okay in a good pre-school program and that in fact, he would be better prepared for Kindergarten if he had pre-schoool under his belt. Again, I was very lucky to find a great woman who did pre-school from her home and Little Man thrived under her care for 2 hours a day.

Now I am faced, like many mothers, with the prospect of re-entering the work-force. Only this time my boys are both in school and child care isn't an issue for me. But it is a huge issue for many of my friends and neighbors with younger children. Let's be honest...we've all heard horror stories about bad experiences and it can be scary and difficult to find a safe environment where we feel comfortable leaving our kids.

So with that in mind, I happily accepted an invitation to attend a Mom Mixer at the Primrose School in Peoria to get a better idea of what kind of child-care situations exist in the Greater Phoenix area. Maria Bailey, creator of MomSelect and BSM Media, coordinated the event and was on hand to help answer questions and introduce the great folks at Primrose.

If you've read my blog at all, you know that if I have an opinion, I share it. Well, after spending a few hours at Primrose, I definitely have an opinion. My first impressions as I drove up to the school were very positive based on 3 things:

1)It was very close to a grocery store...convenient for moms who are running behind to quickly run in and grab last minute dinner items. I know...that has nothing to do with how good the school is, but after talking to the owners of 3 different locations and mentioning the stores, they all told me they purposely chose a location near conveniences, which tells me that they make decisions about their business with both their adult and young clients in mind.

2) The parking lot and playground areas were very clean and well maintained and the school was pretty secure. I wasn't all icked out (my high school journalism teacher would lose her mind if she read that phrase!) when I pulled up to the school, wondering what kind of disrepair I would find inside. It was apparent to me that the owners of the schools are committed to the ENTIRE school and pay attention to details.

3) When I opened the front door, the halls were filled with bright, creative and colorful bulletin boards. It was very upbeat. It felt fun. It made me want to find out more about their program. My 7 year old went with me. His curiosity was immediately piqued by the fun designs and he was very interested in what other kinds of things he might do there at the school.

As we toured the school, we talked about the Primrose School curriculum. Their Balanced Learning® program emphasizes learning, play, self-esteem and character development by combining child-initiated and teacher-directed activities. Primrose is the first educational child care company to achieve accredidation with CITA and both the SACS and NCA CASI's based on that curriculum, along with being able to meet their stringent standards for safety and teacher training.

I found many aspects of the curriculum interesting, including the fact that they incorporate the use of computers into their teaching as early as age 3 (on a very limited basis) and that they really promote and get the children involved in worthy community service projects. The whole program seems very well thought out and well-rounded.

There were other little details that Primrose addressed, like the fact that the schools provide the bedding for each infant in the infant room and launder it daily. Each infant also has his/her own little drawer, where moms can leave changes of clothing so that they aren't constantly having to pack a huge bag.

The little folks all get a cute little back pack of their own when they start school at Primrose, which I think is a great way to help them feel like "big" kids as they pack their backpack for the day and wear it to school. The pack is used to send items home daily.

The playgrounds are separated by age, so that the bigger kids aren't mowing over the little kids during a more rambunctious moment of play.

The more I learned about Primrose Schools, the more I wished it had been available when my kids were pre-school age, because I can tell you with all confidence that I would feel absoultuely 100% comfortable sending my boys to a Primrose School. There was nothing there that led me to believe they would receive anything other than a wonderful, preparatory education from kind and nuturing individuals.

Aside from all of the great educational and child-care benefits at Primrose, I was really amazed to hear that Primrose offers franchises, which is a unique concept in child-care. I met 3 different Primrose franchise owners from Mesa, Peoria and Goodyear. I spoke with each one of them regarding their decision to enter the world of child care and found each one of them to be very dedicated not only to the success of their own schools, but with the success and happiness of each child under their care. I think the thing that stuck out in my mind the most is that they are there, at their schools, every single day to eversee and direct their staff. They know every child at the school. Why? Because it is their business, not just their job. They all have children of their own and understand what moms go through in our search for a safe and stimulating environment for our children. Kathy, Heather and Karen are committed to creating a wonderful environment in each of their respective schools, where both children and families can grow and learn.

I'm glad Primrose took the opportunity to get to know us and introduce us to their great schools as well as their unique business model. Now more than ever, quality child care is important and Primrose is leading the pack in providing it, along with opportunities for entreprenurial minded people who are passionate about providing a nurturing atmosphere where youngsters can thrive.

Wanna see for yourself? Call the Primrose School near you and set up a tour. Many offer summer programs as well, even for children as old as 10 or 12. The summer programs sound really fun and include field trips. Check out the website for more details and to find a Primrose School near you!