Friday, September 24, 2010

When Scouts RePurpose

Does anyone remember this?

Back in the day it was used to make these:

Which are no longer considered potholders.  Apparently they are now being used as:

Ear Warmers for Cub Scouts.

 For those long, cold nights out in the backyard. The backyard that is located right in the middle of the Arizona desert. Where it's always summer.

Monday, September 20, 2010

We've Been Invaded! Hexbugs Review & Giveaway

Sometimes raising boys can be a little challenging, especially when you're a mom who isn't big on all the little creatures that boys seem to be attracted to.  We have been home to a number of lizards over the last few years, which means we have to keep crickets and mealworms for the lizards to eat.   I really HATE having these icky things in my house.   I've found the boys poking at beetles, grasshoppers and even a scorpion once, albeit from a distance, with a VERY long stick.  That one about gave me a heart attack!

A few weeks ago, we got a package from the UPS man FILLED with bugs!  Lucky for me, they are of a robotic/electronic nature, so they were very welcome inside our living room.  HEXBUGS are swarming the country and I gotta say, for little tiny toys, they are pretty interesting.

So what are they?  HEXBUG Nanos are these little robotic toys that look and act like bugs!  They use vibration to scurry around on their twelve little rubber legs and when they hit a wall or get stuck, they just redirect themselves  (in a freaked out, chaotic way like a real trapped bug would) until they find an escape point, then they're off again! They can even right themselves when they get flipped on their backs!  They really do look and act like real bugs.  Kind of freaky, but in a good way!

The HEXBUG Nanos come in test tubes, each with a unique code that kids can register online to track their collection.  Once online, they can play games and learn intersting scientific facts. I liked the fact that the manufacturer (Innovation First International) encourages learning as a part of the HEXBUG experience.  My oldest is really enjoying the website, my youngest seemed a little overwhelmed by it, but he's not the computer kid in the family, so either his brother or myself will have to help him navigate the website at some point.

According to the HEXBUG website, "the first prototypes of the Nano were inspired by the old vibrating football games...Thirty some iterations, a few years, and dozens of designs later the Nano was born. To give just a taste of how much development went into this product, we engineered and rapid prototyped over 150 variations of legs alone."   Which is why I'm not a scientist.  I have no patience for the fine tuning process I guess.  But people who are interested in what makes the HEXBUGS tick should check out the Design portion of the website.  It gives LOTS of information on what makes the HEXBUGS work.  The site also has instructions on how to change the batteries and other helpful info to keep your bugs working properly.  A "How to Care for Your New Hexbug" handbook, if you will.

Thanks to HEXBUGS and MomSelect, we had the chance to invite some of the boys' friends over to try out the HEXBUG Nanos on their Habitat set.  Boys and girls both loved the little creatures and spent 3 hours at our little bug party racing them in the habitat and all over the house. 

Along with using the habitat, we also played a few games with the HEXBUGS.  The kids favorite game was called Anthill.  We cut some holes in a box and assigned each hole points.  The HEXBUGS all got turned on and set on the floor then we quickly (and I mean quickly!  Those little dudes are fast!) turned the box over on top of them.  We could hear the bugs bouncing off the sides of the box looking for and escape, which made the kids laugh hysterically.  Eventually one of them would find a hole and emerge, winning the points assigned to the hole.  The HEXBUG with the most points after 3 rounds won the game. 
It was a fun day for the boys and their friends and the HEXBUGS and Habitat continue to be a source of entertainment for our boy filled neighborhood, as well as for Blackie Chan the Ninja Cat, who on occasion will appear out of nowhere to pounce on one of the unsuspecting robotic creatures.  His fun is shortlived though.  As soon as he realizes he can't bite through them, he bats them across the room and walks away.  

Wanna win a HEXBUG Nano of your own?  I have 2  Nano test tubes to give away to one lucky reader!!   You know the drill, right?  Leave a comment and you'll be entered to win!  For extra enteries you can
  • Post the contest on Facebook
  • Tweet the contest on Twitter
  • Blog about the contest
  • Link the contest to a Mr Linky somewhere on the internet
  • Follow my blog!  
Let me know in a separate comment what you've done so I can make sure you get credit for each effort! Contest will end on September 30th 2010 at 12 midnight PST.  U.S. residents only (sorry, shipping costs!). 

Where Did My Little Boy Go?

This post is late.  About 4 weeks late.  Man how the time flies!  Is it just me or does it seem like the days go by in a matter of just a few hours lately??

Eleven years ago in the middle of August, I had my first baby boy.  He was the easiest, most well behaved, happy little baby I had ever had the pleasure to know.  And he was mine.  I still remember the overwhelming love that rushed into my heart when I saw my son for the first time.  I used to waste hour after hour just staring at him and watching him and talking to him and loving him.  He was, for me, the perfect little dude. 

Back then, he looked like this:

Now he looks like this!

It seems like the little boy in him is trying his hardest to escape and run away.  In his place?  I find this giant Man-Child who is only a few inches shorter than me with feet the size of a small Sasquatch!!  Inside of his growing body are hormones that have turned my normally relaxed little kid into a frustrated wanna-be man.  Not old enough to hang out with the teenagers, but too old to hang out with the little kids.  Not old enough to watch certain TV shows or movies, but too old for many of the cartoons he used to love.  It's a tough place to be, for him and for me.  We have lots of issues now that we didn't have before, because he feels the need to voice his opinion A LOT more than he used to.  He's struggling with delivering his disdain for our rules in an appropriate manner.   We are struggling with the fact that he is struggling. 

I wasn't prepared for this stage of his life.  I didn't really know who he would be heading into puberty.  I didn't realize that his normally laid back personality would change so much!  Of course, I am recognizing that part of his discomfort and lack of enthusiasm these days in due in part to the fact that more and more expectations are being put upon him as he ages.  Big Brother isn't a guy who thrives on challenges.  He likes his livin' easy.  He prefers a slower pace with lots of social interaction.  And he prefers that social interaction to take place without his parents present.  It seems we block his Chi or something. 

His independence is nothing new.   He's always been comfortable being by himself and he was the one who was happy to start school and have his "me" time away from mom.  I want him to be able to be independent.  But I want him to be aware too!  Big Brother doesn't always get that simply being away from Mom and Dad doesn't make you independent and functional.  He thinks things will just kind of take care of themselves.  It's one thing to think you can handle life on your own because YOU think you're smart enough to deal with challenge.  It's another to be fully aware that, at times, life will be tough and in order to successfully navigate it emotionally intact and independently, you need to be truly prepared with proper coping skills.  I'm not quite sure he's ready to make some of the decisions he will have to make about who he hangs out with and whether or not he will participate in questionable activities, ya know?  There's so much he still doesn't know.  He just doesn't know that he doesn't know it yet.  I know what he doesn't know though, because I flew out of my childhood nest completely unprepared for what the world was really like.  I found it to be a pretty brutal and unforgiving place when I was young, because I really believed that everyone around me was who they said they were.  Unfortunately, people aren't always honest and a lot of those people have no problem preying on naive, kind-hearted teenagers who are looking for acceptance.  Funny thing is?  I think I was a lot like my son.  I thought I was pretty world-wise and could handle just about anything or anyone.  Turns out I couldn't.  And some of my choices (or lack of action) left some pretty big emotional scars.  So I worry about Big Brother.   

But...Big Brother is growing up.  And because he is growing up?  I have to grow up.   Maybe that's what all this melancholy I feel is really about.  I should rejoice that he is growing up and becoming a wonderful young man, because he really is a wonderful young man.  He is kind and loving.  He loves to experience new things.  He has this really incredible laugh.  And he is working so hard to find himself.  I should be happy.  But I'll be honest.  I don't know that I am that much more emotionally mature than my son is.  He is actually striving to be a mature adult!  I think I spend half of my time running away from that concept!  How can I help him be the man he needs to be to have a full and happy life when I can't even figure out how to have a full and happy life of my own!?

My son, my small man, turned 11 this year.  He reminds me every day that when I chose to be a mother, I chose to help another human being come into this world and make a life for himself.  He's reached the age where I am way out of my comfort level when it comes to answering his questions and teaching him the life skills he'll so desperately need to function well in the world.  I've reached the end of my skill set. So I worry.  Because I'm not sure I can stay ahead of the curve enough to make sure he always has a well-adjusted parent available to offer support and  guidance and direction.  I have to step up my game now - big time!  And I'm really feeling the pressure. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

WaterPik Sinusense Review

Everyone in my neighborhood is sick right now with horrible head colds that turn into horrible chest colds.  I've been lucky so far and have somehow remained untouched by this rotten pre-winter cold/flu stuff (crossing fingers, knocking on wood!).  My husband was not lucky, however and found himself waking up a few weeks ago with a head full of icky stuff and a nasty sinus infection. 

As fate would have it, the Fed-X man delivered a package that very afternoon, just minutes after my husband went to work wondering how he was going to manage this illness without calling in sick to his parttime job, which is all we have going for us right now since my census job ended!

Even more of an issue is that we don't have insurance right now either, so a trip to the doctor just seemed impossible.  So the question of how to help him get his sinus infection under control was looming large.  But miracles do happen people!  The box that was delivered in such a timely manner?  Contained this:

 and also this:

I KNOW!  How fortuitous, right?  WaterPik has some new products out that are specifically geared toward sinus health!  We know that WaterPik has a wonderful reputation in the dental car world, but had never heard of their Sinusense products.  My husband took advantage of our opportunity to review the products by immediately ripping the boxes open as soon as he walked in the door from work.  He headed straight upstairs to the bathroom and began to put the Sinusense products to the test! 

He tried the Neti Bottle first, just because he had heard so much about the benefits of Neti Pots and wanted to see what the difference was between using a Neti device vs. a regular squeeze bottle.  Following the directions, he filled the Neti bottle with warm, distilled water and the Saline Packs that were included in the Sinusense kits.  His first reaction as he squeezed the solution out of the bottle into his sinus cavities was that it didn't burn like regualr salt water does.  Waterpik's Soothing Saline Packs contains eucalyptus oil and aloe vera to help take the sting out of siuns cleansing.  His second comment was that the neti bottle seemed to somehow get the solution further back into his sinus passages than a normal spray bottle does and that it does so gently.  No shocking blasts of water to make you choke and gag.   

He went to bed that night breathing much better and was actually able to sleep through the night, which was good for me too, as I was completely exhausted from his previous night of coughing and snorting.  The following morning he used the Squeeze Bottle instead of the Neti Bottle, just to compare the two.  He found that with the bottle he could get a much more powerful spray of water into his sinuses and he was able to manipulate the bottle easier.  He also mentioned that he appreciated the flow control mechanism on both of the bottles that prevented the water in his nose from going back into the bottle when it came running out.  Ummm...yeah.  Nose backwash would be kind of gross.  So that is really a nice feature.   

In the end, he liked both kits for different reasons and ended up alternating between the two of them all week long.  While our neighbors suffered through their stuff for a few weeks, my husband moved through his infection in about 5 days.  The final verdict?  Easy squeezy, no more sneezy!  We are definitely attributing his ability to get over his sinus issues so quickly and without medication to the Waterpik Sinusense kits.  We will continue to use them throughout the winter to fight off cold and flu season. 

Wanna try WaterPik Sinusense yourself?  Go to their website and print out a coupon good for $2 off any Sinusense product!  While you're there you can find out more about the entire Sinusense line.  Stay well this winter, my bloggy friends!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Things I Heard While Waiting for my Kids at School

Conversation #1
Girl: Justin Bieber sucks. 
Girl's friend who apparently loves Justin Bieber: No, you suck.
Different kid:  Seriously?  Justin Bieber totally sucks!  He's lame! He looks like a girl!
Bieber Fan Girl (almost crying):  You guys are lame.  Justin Bieber is so awesome.
Random Mom standing next to me:  Justin Bieber does suck.  I hate that kid.
Me (Laughing):  Yep.  Glad I have boys so I don't have to listen to him. 
Random Mom:  Lucky. 

Conversation #2
Kid:  Dude!  Your legs are really hairy!
Other Kid:  Dude, I know!  It's weird.  They just started getting that way during the summer. 
Kid:  Dude!  You gotta shave that!  It's nasty!
Other Kid:  Dude!  Guys don't shave their legs, what's wrong witchu?  
Kid: look like a gorilla.  
Other Kid:  Man, shut up! You're just jealous that you ain't a man yet, like me.   
Kid:  Dude.  You're 12.  You ain't no man yet either.  
Other kid:  Whatever dude.
3rd Kid:  I'm the only man around here.  I got a 'stache.  Now what? 
Kid:  Dude...that's just some peach fuzz.  That ain't no mustache.
Me:  Dude.  Quit hatin'. He's 12 and he's already got dark, manly facial hair.  That's pretty impressive. 

Conversation #3
Girl, halfway to car:  Mom, I gotta go to the bathroom.
Mom:  Honey!  Why didn't go before we got to the car?  
Girl:  I didn't have to go then!
Mom:  You didn't have to go 2 minutes ago, but you have to go now?
Girl:  Yeah.  Bad.  I have to go bad.
Mom:  Fine.  Hurry up!  (Heads back to sidewalk then looks at me as daughter runs to the bathroom)  She does this every day!  You'd think I'd figure out to ask her before we head to the car!  
Me:  I know. Mine does the same thing.  See ya later!  (heads to car with my kids who just walked up)
My Son, halfway to car:  Mom, I gotta go pee.  
Me:  Seriously?  How come you didn't go before you met me at the gate?
My Son:  I forgot.  I gotta go, Mom.  Really Bad. 
Me:  Fine.  Hurry UP!!  (looks at 1st Mom as we walk back to the sidewalk) what were we talking about?