Wednesday, August 24, 2011

BlogHer 2011 Swag Report/Giveaway-Everyone Wins!

There were a lot of fantastic things at the BlogHer 2011 expo. Here is my take on what some of the best things were for me and my kids:

Chuck and Friends: Friends for the Long Haul iPhone/iPad app. This app by the Ruckus Media Group is an original story of more than 70 pages that contains narrative-driven matching, touch and reveal and spelling activities that progress the adventure and teach letter recognition, picture/word association and basic problem solving. Users can read the story, have it read to them, or even record their own voice for a personalized reading experience. H&R really enjoyed this app after watching the Chuck and Friends Big Air Dare DVD that came in the official BlogHer swag bag. H is a stage 1 reader so he was having fun reading the story himself! If you don't want to wait till the end of this giveaway, you can get the Chuck and Friends app during the Ruckus Media Group's special back-to-school promotion with pricing of $0.99 per app on its entire digital library of 15 apps for iPhone, iPad and iTouch from Friday, August 26 through the Labor Day weekend, ending Tuesday, September 7, 2011.

Dr. Scholl's Custom Fit Orthotic Inserts. I had seen these machines in CVS and Walmart, but I was always skeptical. How could I get orthotics for such a low price after being tested by a machine when my sister had to go to a podiatrist who billed the insurance company hundreds for her orthotics? Even after I tried out the machine and received a free pair to review, I wasn't convinced. Then I tried them out. The case for the orthotics says "Immediate and All-Day Comfort" and it was true! I put the inserts into my sneakers and I noticed a difference right away. And after a week of walking around in them, I can say, the Dr. Scholl's inserts were the best thing I got for the outside of my body at the convention. Right now you can get a $7.50 rebate on any purchase of Custom Fit Orthotic Inserts on the Dr. Scholl's website.

Nimble Balance Bar. This was the best thing for the inside of my body. The bar is naturally sweetened with truvia so women who are borderline diabetic can finally enjoy energy bars! This 120 calorie bar is packed with daily nutrients like Protein, Fiber, Iron and Calcium, plus Lutein and Beta Carotene for your skin and has balanced 40-30-30 nutrition. I was ecstatic to find out that the two nimble flavors are peanut butter and orange swirl so I can keep them in my minivan without worrying about them melting! Visit Nimble Bar on Twitter Thursday morning (8/25) to find out how to enter to win top model perks at Modellounge New York next week in preparation for Fashion Week.

Mother's Touch Digital Forehead Thermometer. This device works by slipping it over your finger, pressing the button, and waiting for it to beep. Then you gently caress your child's forehead. In just 6-8 seconds, the patented technology of the thermometer measures the rate of heat flow from the body and calculates a clinically accurate result. No more poking an ear or sticking a thermometer where you do want to! It also includes a last reading memory, fever alert, and room temperature display and is F or C switchable.

Personalized Journal from Paper Coterie. I had the journal personalized with my new baby girl's name so I can use it as a baby journal for her. Until Wednesday, August 31, Paper Coterie is celebrating “Begin Anywhere” month. The premise is simple: It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you do, it’s never too late to start documenting the beauty of everyday life. The challenge comes in knowing how and where to start. Any Random Mommy reader who visits Paper Coterie can use the promo code BEGINANYWHERE to receive a $40 credit. There you can create a personalized photo book, calendar, or other creative products. There is no purchase necessary, and shipping is not included. It's a good thing I received a journal for Baby E from Paper Coterie at BlogHer, otherwise she might not ever had a baby book!

So I thought what better thing to do than to share some swag with my Random Mommy family. Everyone who enters will win one of the following: Chuck and Friends app (5 available), Mother's Touch Digital Forehead Thermometer (2 available), 1 Free Product + Free Shipping from Paper Coterie, or a coupon for a free Dole product (Fruit Bowl, Frozen Fruit, Canned or Jar Fruit, or Fruit Smoothie Shaker). Other prizes may become available throughout the contest period. (Of course everyone is a winner as soon as you read this and claim your $40 credit from Paper Coterie.)

HOW TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY:  Contest period runs from Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at 11:01 PM (Pacific) until Wednesday, September 7, 2011 at 11:59 PM (Pacific). All you have to do is follow my blog with Google Friend Connect by clicking on the sidebar (it counts if you are already a friend) and then leave a comment stating which of the prizes you would like to win. I reserve the right to add prizes and extend the contest period. At the end of the contest period, I will utilize to randomly choose the winner order. Everyone will be contacted by e-mail and will have 72 hours to respond to my e-mail with their prize preference order. This contest is open for US Residents Only as I am mailing these prizes out myself. Thank you to the generous sponsors!

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

Monday, August 22, 2011

BlogHer 2011 Day 3 Recap

I started off the last official day of BlogHer with an early morning visit to the Expo. I was excited to see the Brawny Man and took a photo with him! You can see my hair is still sleek from the efforts of the Robert Cromeans Salon. While I was at the expo, the boys spent some quality time at the Hot Wheels sponsor suite. They were really excited about playing with the tracks on the wall. After breakfast they met up with some LA friends at the pool. The Marriott has a great pool area. I wish I could have gone in the water but my body still hadn't healed to the point where swimming was an option. I think this will be an entire summer with not a single dip in the pool or ocean. But I digress...

Also during the morning Baby E and I checked out the MomSelect Swag Suite. We got some great toys including a cute Build-A-Bear smallfrys curly bunny. But before we could get through the entire suite, Baby E let me know in a not small voice that she was hungry. Then she needed to be changed and, after changing her, I found to my horror that I had no more diapers in the diaper bag. Meaning we needed to bail on the swag suite and get back to the hotel room pronto because Baby E has a tendency to need changing for #2 three times in succession. And more often than not, especially if I'm wearing her in a baby carrier, this results in an explosion and the need to be changed from head to toe. So we made it back to the room and I had to pick up R on our way out. Apparently the water was too cold and he was done with swimming. This meant I had to kiss any opportunity of attending an afternoon session goodbye. I knew I could take Baby E with me because she was so good and slept a lot, but R was a different story. I didn't want to disturb a panel or presentation that a speaker had been working on for months. So it was back to the expo. Where R proceeded to enjoy chocolate from Lindt, chocolate ice cream miniatures from Dove, and mango pineapple smoothie from McDonalds. After that sugar bath I made sure to stop by and get some Arm&Hammer toothpaste!

R was so wiped out from swimming and walking around the expo that he went back to the hotel to take a nap. Stewart didn't want H to wake him up so I took H with me to the ShopAtHome's Save and Splurge Suite at the Hard Rock Hotel. The Suite was on the top floor of the hotel and had a great view of the pool. It was a truly fabulous room filled with very friendly and kind PR folks. I say kind because they entertained H while I had to feed Baby E, held Baby E to give me a break, and then let me change her on top of the bed in the suite. Carole Baker and her team really impressed me! You'll be hearing more about Shop At Home in a separate post.

Then we went back to the MomSelect Suite since I hadn't been able to finish going through it that morning. The only sponsors left were the team from Hexbug. H had so much fun playing with the enormous set they had on the table. He also loved the spiders and making them move in tandem. I was a little freaked out by the new larva that are coming out, they move a little too much like real bugs! H wasn't fazed by them. The ladies from Hexbug recognized a fanatic when they saw one and gave H the Hexbug Nano Hive, a product that isn't even on the market yet. He LOVED it and has been playing with it ever since we got back from BlogHer. It's nice because you can fold it up and take it with you to a friend's house to combine sets and extend the play time. H is a lucky lucky boy! I'm going to wait until Halloween to give him the Hexbug Nano Glows in the Dark Starter Set I received from the Big Toy Company's Sweet Suite. I know he will flip out when he sees it. Thank you so much Hexbug team!

That night I went to the parties. My goal was to stay up so I could make it to CheeseburgHer. I enjoyed some great music and food at the Social Fiesta, snagged a free bottle of Monogamy at Aiming Low (although I left before they cut the cool "breakfast" cake), and grabbed two cheeseburgers from CheeseburgHer before collapsing onto my bed. At that moment I knew that what everyone had said was true--I was CRAZY for coming to BlogHer less than five weeks after giving birth!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

BlogHer Recap Day 2

BlogHer officially started on Friday August 5th, but almost everyone I know who attended got there for pre-conference parties that started on Thursday or even as early as Wednesday. I had a lot of fun on Friday catching up with friends who had been part of the LA Moms Blog (which has been acquired by Technorati Media). I finally have my girl, so I was eager to show her off. She had her first photo taken with Elmo, Cookie Monster and Abby Cadabby. R had been scared when he took his first photo with Elmo a couple years ago. In fact he was still traumatized and ran out of the room where the Playskool mock session with the Sesame Street friends was held. The event was moderated by Caryn Bailey of, a fellow former LA Moms blogger. More than a few of my former mom blogger friends, including Liz Peterson, were there to witness the chubbiness that is Baby E. 

Baby E and I left Sesame Street and headed down to the Gaslamp District, where the FamilyFINDS Afternoon Soiree was taking place at the Airr Supper Club. The room where the event took place was painted entirely red, which explains why I couldn't stop eating the delicious hors d'oeuvres. I couldn't partake in the signature cocktail since I'm still breastfeeding but they made a virgin version just for me. It was certainly interesting to find out that most deal sites give 6% commission to affiliates whereas FamilyFINDS shares 50/50. At some point during the day I had a chance to attend some conference events and swing by the expo. The boys were having a great time swimming and enjoying the hotel.

Then Baby E and I went back to the room where we had a little time to unwind before I made my way to the YOU-phoria, the launch party for, the new personal shopping agent that finds deals and sales from thousands of sites and matches them with the preferences of individual users. The event sponsored by the One2One Network was held at the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art: The Farrell Gallery. The walls of the room were covered with moving art. I wish I had had my flip camera because the effect was really beautiful. Later I was happy to find a brush from Sarah Potempa in the event gift bag since I had forgotten to pack one. I won a mini flat iron at the event so maybe I will attempt to recreate the look from the Robert Cromeans Salon!

At this point I was so exhausted and went back to the hotel to sleep. But Baby E wouldn't cooperate. She still has her days and nights a bit confused so it took a long time to get her to go down. She's a trooper though, going to her first convention at five weeks. But then again, this little girl sat for the California Bar Exam and passed. Her good nature is the only reason I was able to attend BlogHer at all. Thanks Baby E! 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

BlogHer Trip Day 1

 My BlogHer 2011 plan had been contingent on Baby E following my birth schedule for her. She would be born mid-June so Stewart could take a week vacation the first week of August even if he did take off a few days around her birth. But unfortunately, like all daughters do, she had her own idea of when she would appear and wasn't born until the beginning of July. And of course, Stewart had to have the bad luck of contracting pink eye at the hospital so he ended up taking a week off so he wouldn't go into work with bloody watery eyes. Nice. So there was no way he would be taking off another week at the beginning of August for our trip to San Diego. Which left me with a huge dilemma, do I go to BlogHer or try to sell the ticket? I held off making the decision until the end of July when it was clear that Baby E was a good baby. She slept for long stretches during the day and rarely cried. The boys had been promised a trip involving a hotel stay since before Baby E was born so that was another factor in the decision.

We decided to go for it. Stewart would take off two days. This meant we could spend Wednesday night with Baby E's namesake who flew in from the East Coast for the weekend. We slept a few hours that night and then started driving at 5:00 AM. No fuss from the boys, we were finally on our way to the hotel! The drive went a lot smoother than anticipated and what I had feared would be a 12 hour journey ended up taking only 9 1/2 hours. If you factor in potty and feeding stops with two toddlers and a baby, that is actually pretty amazing. As long as Stewart was going over 60 mph, Baby E was content to sleep. We made it with time to spare for the first event on my excel spreadsheet: The Big Toy Book Sweet Suite Event. It was at the Hard Rock Hotel across the street from the Marriott, the official BlogHer hotel. (To digress, it was very interesting, everyone staying at the Hard Rock dressed as if they were rock stars. Women wearing sparkly cocktail dresses and super high heels with blown out hair and huge sunglasses. And there I was with Baby E strapped to my chest, diaper bag in one hand and R's hand in the other.)

The Sweet Suite Event was sponsored by The Big Toy Book and KidzVuz. I had fun making bracelets with H and R's names and meeting up with other mom bloggers from Silicon Valley and from Los Angeles. Somehow I completely missed the Pinkberry but had enough chocolate covered strawberries to make up for it. Baby E and I also had a great time looking at all the new toys coming out for fall and the holiday season. I especially loved the life-like dolls from Adora Doll Friends. I've been searching for a while for an Asian doll to get for Baby E and it has been really difficult. I asked them whether they had one and they showed me their catalog which had a Korean doll! I was so excited! I hope I win the Adora Doll Friends $500.00 ADORA-ble Dolly Giveaway which runs on their blog till the end of August. The baby dolls actually look and feel like actual babies. I could tell they weigh as much as a newborn since I had Baby E with me!

Next I headed over to the Glamour Suite sponsored by Dermalogica, Stila, Paul Mitchell, CND and Beautisol at the Robert Cromeans Salon. I had my hair done by one of the salon's great stylists and a facial treatment by Dermalogica. I even got a photo with Robert Cromeans, the global artistic director of Paul Mitchell! I was so happy they did my hair with a flat-iron because they told me that it would last a few days meaning I would have a frizz free head for most of BlogHer! I had wanted to get a shellac manicure from CND (lasts 14 days without chipping!) but didn't have time as I could feel the pressure in my chest signalling my need to get back to the hotel to feed Baby E. Maybe next year? Anyway, I was happy to get back to the hotel room and get some sleep to prepare for the first official day of BlogHer.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Random Mommy and Kids Dance Party: Dance Pocoyo Dance DVD Review

H&R are still getting their daily fix of TV time. I think I was unrealistic in how quickly we would be able to resume our normal routine after Baby E arrived. Going out once a day is a big accomplishment. I had no idea how long it would take my body to bounce back, since it still hasn't! So when I was given the opportunity to review Dance Pocoyo Dance! DVD I pounced on it, since it would get the boys moving, albeit inside the house. Dance Pocoyo Dance! is based on the Pocoyo animated television series and encourages kids to get up and dance, jump and have fun for hours.  The music provides high-energy participation, and Pocoyo and his animal friends, Elly the elephant, Pato the duck, and Loula the dog, add to the excitement. 

The boys LOVED the DVD, so much so that they broke their trampoline while jumping on it while watching the DVD. So it's definitely a great DVD to have for rainy days or any day when you can't make it outside (especially this summer with the crazy weather across the country!) and have antsy kids that need to move. The multi-award-winning animated television series Pocoyo is now featured in a new half-hour timeslot during the weekends on Nick Jr., on Saturdays and Sundays at 1:00 pm ET/10 am PT, complementing the current weekday broadcasts at 4:25 pm ET/1:25 pm PT. Pocoyo also airs on Univision’s Planeta U on Saturday mornings at 8:30 am; and on select PBS stations nationwide (check local listings). Also, you can find lots of FREE Pocoyo content available on the Pocoyo YouTube channel and plenty of fun and games in Pocoyo World. For a limited time, beginning August 1 through August 31, parents can receive Dance Pocoyo Dance! with the purchase of 10 Langers Juices (plus $1.99 shipping and handling), while supplies last. Let's dance!

I did not receive compensation for this post. I received a product sample to facilitate my review.