Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day: Dinosaur Train DVD GIVEAWAY


Everyone rightly associates St. Patrick's Day with the color GREEN. After all, if you've ever been to Ireland in the spring/summer, you would never forget the lushness of the countrysides or the breathtaking vegetation of Killarney National Park. When Stewart and I visited the park, it was a strange moment while my eyes adjusted to the scenic vista--I felt like I was moving even though I was standing completely still. The boys and I had a great time this past weekend at a St. Patrick's Day party and they know that St. Patrick's Day is about green, green, and more green! So I thought what more appropriate day could there be to talk about March being National Nutrition Month than a day that celebrates GREEN in light of this year's theme "Eat right with Color."

March is National Nutrition Month®, a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the American Dietetic Association. The campaign focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. This year's National Nutrition Month theme, “Eat right with Color,” encourages everyone to remember to include a colorful variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and dairy on their plates every day. To help parents, the American Dietetic Association provides many online resources. They even have a downloadable PDF list of 25 healthy snacks for kids, including these five great ideas:
  1. Peel a banana and dip it in yogurt. Roll in crushed cereal and freeze.
  2. Spread celery sticks with peanut butter or low-fat cream cheese. Top with raisins. Enjoy your “ants on a log.”
  3. Stuff a whole-grain pita pocket with ricotta cheese and Granny Smith apple slices. Add a dash of cinnamon.
  4. Mix together ready-to-eat cereal, dried fruit and nuts in a sandwich bag for an on-the-go snack.
  5. Smear a scoop of frozen yogurt on two graham crackers and add sliced banana to make a yummy sandwich.

 PBS's Dinosaur Train has also designed an activity to help children learn about the campaign. Buddy can help you and your child prepare a vegetarian (herbivore) picnic. The Have A Brachiosaurus Picnic activity helps young children to learn what foods fit into an herbivore's diet (fruits and vegetables); reminds children about the importance of hand washing before eating; and also creates an opportunity to discuss why all animals need to eliminate waste from their bodies (a.k.a. “poop”). The downloadable PDF file provides the ingredients to prepare Brachiosaurus Picnic, with fun food items on the menu, including: 
  • Brachiosaurus Super Salad: The kids will have fun tearing up green leafy veggies into bite-size pieces and mixing ranch dressing with green coloring to make a tasty topping.
  • Sauropod Sandwich: With a plastic knife, cut pieces of whole wheat bread in the shape of a favorite dinosaur and spread with cheese spread or peanut butter.
  • Herbivore Herb and Spinach Spread: Mix frozen spinach, dried onion soup mix, sour cream, celery sticks and crackers
  • Green Juice – fill a child’s plastic cup with apple juice and add green food color to make a green beverage fit for an herbivore. (The boys and I are taking this idea to the next level and making "shamrock" shakes with ice cream, mint extract, green food coloring and soy milk!)

To celebrate Dinosaur Train's support of the American Dietetic Association's campaign, one Random Mommy reader will get the chance to go on a virtual trip around the world on the Dinosaur Train through the new DINOSAUR TRAIN: PTERANODON FAMILY WORLD TOUR ADVENTURE DVD, released on March 15. Buddy and his adoptive family of Pteranodons embark on a roaring, exploring world tour adventure to discover a variety of dinosaurs inhabiting the globe as they journey to Asia, Europe and Africa.  From the world-renowned Jim Henson Company, PBS KIDS and Paramount Home Entertainment, the DVD includes eight exciting edu-tainment adventures, interactive games, coloring pages, a dinosaur reference guide and parent information. Boasting incredible CGI animation and an average monthly viewership of 11.9 million, the “Dinosaur Train” is a Parents’ Choice recommended PBS KIDS TV series and is one of the top ten shows for kids 2 to 5.

HOW TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY:  Contest period runs from Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 12:01 AM (Pacific) until Thursday, March 31, 2011 at 11:59 PM (Pacific). Enter by leaving a comment on how you celebrate St. Patrick's Day, and leave your e-mail address OR sign in to comments using your Blogger ID, making sure your Blogger profile is public and includes your e-mail address.

Bonus Entries (leave a separate comment for each entry, it counts if you've done any of these so leave a comment for each one)
1) Follow me on Twitter
2) Tweet this contest and leave the tweet url
3) Follow my blog with Google Friend Connect by clicking on the sidebar
4) Like The Jim Henson Company on Facebook
5) Follow Henson Parents on Twitter

If you don't leave a qualifying comment and your e-mail address or public Blogger profile, your entry will be disqualified. I reserve the right to extend the contest period. At the end of the contest period, I will utilize to randomly choose the winner. The winner will be contacted by e-mail and will have 72 hours to respond to my e-mail. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, the prize will go to the next place winner as decided by This contest is open for US Residents only. Good luck!

I did not receive compensation for this post. I was given an opportunity to share the information and run a giveaway for my readers and took it!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

March Movie Madness: Hoodwinked and The Reef Blu-Ray Review

The Random Mommy tradition is to ignore the basketball games and watch movies in March. The boys and I have watched a few so far and we'll review some of them this month, with a great giveaway coming later this week!

Hoodwinked was released on Blu-ray/DVD Combo last month and we watched the movie coincidentally right after H&R heard Little Red Riding Hood during story time at Korean school. I think it helped that they were a bit familiar with the story beforehand because the movie is not the classic fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood.  Right when the Woodsman jumps into the room to save Red from the Wolf the story takes a very different turn. The police cordon off Grandma's cottage and an amphibious investigator named Nicky Flippers (voiced by David Ogden Stiers) begins interrogating the suspects: A Little Red in bell-bottoms (Anne Hathaway), a Wolf turned investigative journalist (Patrick Warburton), an extreme sport enthusiast Granny (Glenn Close), and a "Woodsman" (Jim Belushi), each of whom have very different reasons for ending up in that cottage living room.

There were some moments that were too scary for R (big bad Wolf and craaaaaaazy Bunny) but H watched without any issues, although all of the popular culture references, of which there are many, were over his head. This is definitely an animated film that adults will get and children can enjoy. I especially loved "The Schnitzel Song" but I don't think kids will really get why it's so hilarious. If you're looking for a film that will engage you and entertain your kids, definitely check out Hoodwinked.

The Reef
The Reef (released last week on Blu-ray/DVD Combo) is the story of Pi, a young fish who suffers a great loss and moves from Boston to what I think is the Great Barrier Reef where he falls in love with a beautiful fish named Cordelia and angers the resident shark bully, Troy. The Reef was the first Hollywood feature-length, all computer generated film ever made in Korea (Be the Reds!), winning the Film Advisory Board Award of Excellence. The voice talent includes Freddie Prinze Jr. as Pi, Evan Rachel Wood as Cordelia, Fran Drescher as Pearl, Donal Logue as Troy, and Rob Schneider as a variety of sea creatures including Nerissa. The movie follows Pi as he trains with the wise old turtle Nerissa in order to defeat Troy. Unfortunately R was so scared that he fell asleep during the opening scene (could be pretty traumatic for little ones) and there were some other shark and shipwreck scenes that were scary for H as well. But H still wanted to see it all the way through so I think the story is compelling enough to keep a child's interest. If your children enjoyed the other under the sea animated films, The Reef would be a good fit for them. 

I did not receive compensation for this post. I did receive product samples to facilitate my review.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

DVD Review: VeggieTales 'Twas The Night Before Easter

I've loved VeggieTales for a long long time, as proven by the many titles I have of it on VHS tape and the soundtracks I have on cassette! I first came across it when I was teaching second graders one summer while I was in college. If you've never watched or heard the song "The Bunny" from Rack, Shack & Benny with your kids, you are missing out on one of the greatest teaching tools ever for the story based on the book of Daniel in the Old Testament, in which three friends stand up to King Nebuchadnezzar, refusing to worship a false idol. Over the years I've watched VeggieTales become less biblically-based and more focused on generally good character traits to instill in children. I think there is definitely a place for both versions of VeggieTales and am grateful that there is such a wide spectrum of past and present titles for my kids to watch. I love the songs and recently added to our children's music collection with Bob & Larry's Toddler Songs and VeggieTales Worship Songs.

The latest release VeggieTales®: ‘Twas The Night Before Easter, from Big Idea Entertainment, is a parody in which Marlee Meade discovers the importance of helping other people while exploring the real meaning of Easter. ‘Twas The Night Before Easter features a new silly song “The Hooperena”, a backstage pass with Larry the Cucumber on the “VeggieTales Live!” tour, and a brand new character Cassie Cassava – played by Melinda Doolittle an American Idol top finalist. You can find more VeggieTales resources on Big Idea Entertainment's recently launched interactive website. The website has games, videos, activities, eCards, stories, and a daily message from the bible. You can make sure you have the latest VeggieTales info by following them on Facebook.   

I'm glad I had a chance to watch this DVD with the boys as the Lenten season is starting. It gives them a context as to what Easter is about, since I know they are years away from being able to watch or appreciate the Passion story. “If you like to talk to tomatoes, if a squash can make you smile,” then this is a DVD that you will surely appreciate. We'll meet you in the produce aisle!

No compensation was received for this post. I received a copy of the DVD for review purposes.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Stars on Ice Review

Stewart and the boys had a great time at Stars on Ice. I was at the tail end of bar review so they took my mom for her first live skating show in 20 years. This is what they had to say:
I’ve always enjoyed watching figure skating on TV.  The 2010 Vancouver Olympics were of particular interest because of the tremendous success of Yuna Kim, a wonderful skater who first caught my eye in the 2009 World Championships.  One of the things that always stuck out in my mind was how the TV commentators repeatedly gushed over her speed and power.   And while I could certainly appreciate Yuna’s grace, I guess I never really was able to fully appreciate their comments about speed and power since it all kind of looked the same to me, no matter who the skater.
But when I was able to lay eyes on a live professional skating event for the first time, it truly was an eye opening experience.  The spins were so much faster.  The effort put forth in each jump was made so much more evident.  And the pure joy and elation on each skater’s face were just abundantly clear for all to see.  The Smucker's Stars on Ice was a revelation in how intense figure skating really is.  It was mesmerizing.
But of course, while I could certainly understand such things as an adult, the true test of the event’s worthiness came in the form of my son H.  Would such powerful moves on ice be as interesting to a four year old boy who can hardly sit still without an electronic gadget in his hands?  The answer, much to my surprise, was a resounding “yes”.  Far be it from the formal, classical music laden spectacles we see during the Olympics, the Stars on Ice show truly is just that – a crowd pleasing show filled with interesting props, pop music, and exciting back flips perfectly executed by an “A-list” group of skaters, all of whom are either Olympic or World medalists.
Watching the event made for a great fun-filled evening – one soon not forgotten.  H is now clamoring to hit the ice rink.  I hope my back side is ready for the beating it’s about to take from all the falls that are sure to come my way. 
Smucker's Stars on Ice is still touring the country and you have a few more days (until March 13) to enter the contest to be Evan Lysacek's VIP guest at a Stars on Ice event in the NYC area, which also includes dinner with Evan and a 3 day/2 night trip for two to NYC including airfare and hotel. Good luck!

I did not receive compensation for this post. I did receive complimentary tickets for review purposes.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What The Boys Did While I Studied for the CBX

As a SAHM I definitely did not have the financial means to hire someone to play with the kids while I studied for the California bar exam. So the boys watched a LOT of TV and played an extraordinary amount of games across all platforms. Netflix, Hulu Plus, iPad, PBS Kids, Nick Jr, Wii, Leapster, board games, books, paints, and puzzles were out in full force all day long while I tried to study and keep them occupied at the same time. I tried to keep things educational so that they wouldn't emerge from the process without having grown in some way.

 One iPad app that I was very pleasantly surprised with is the new Juno's Piano app. I wasn't surprised because of the quality of the app--like everything from The Juno Company, it's a wonderful way to engage children to learn to play and appreciate classical music. Juno's Piano - Learn Songs, Play with Parents, and Free Play is an interactive and educational music app that allows kids to play music on a piano keyboard. There are three main options for gameplay. Learn a Song teaches kids to play three different songs on the piano, a few notes at a time, with a large amount of positive verbal feedback. Play Together allows parents and kids to interact with the app together. Free Play allows kids to play what they like on the piano, which on this screen is ten white keys and six black keys. Juno stands above the keyboard encouraging kids to keep going. An HD version is also available for the iPad.

My boys loved the previous Juno app, CD, and DVDs they've experienced, especially the Juno Baby Sing Along Edition. What I was surprised with is that the boys liked Juno's Piano enough to ask for it specifically a week after they first played it. It was very intuitive. I didn't have to explain to them how to play and they figured it out after a couple minutes. With everything else that was competing for their attention, they liked the piano teaching app enough to remember it and ask for it. So it goes to show, toddler boys can appreciate something other than racing video games and superhero paraphernalia.

Now that the exam study period is over (and no matter the results in May, I will never do this again), I'm weaning them off screen time. Yesterday we went to a farm, the recycling center (one of their favorite activities), the library and then to a park (all of this on our own and not part of any organized group). We're all exhausted, but I had promised them we would make up the fun times after I took the test. In the next few months before Baby #3 is born we're going to get in as much of California as we can. And when we need to be still and rest our bodies, Juno's Piano is definitely something I won't object to them enjoying. Today brings THREE Dr. Seuss birthday celebrations with preschool somewhere in the middle. Onward ho!

I did not receive compensation for this post. I did receive a complimentary download of the app for review purposes.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My First Technorati Post!

If you've been following any of the Silicon Valley Moms Blogs (I was a part of the LA Moms Blog), you know SV Moms was recently bought out by Technorati. Now that the bar exam is over, I've managed to get my first post up! Please check it out and leave me your comments. Thanks!