Thursday, January 31, 2008

Swiss Penguin Enchants Many, Including Hasselhoff

Sam loves Penguins. We have several books featuring these delightful arctic creatures. Pingu the Swiss pengiun seemed like he would be a big hit in our house. The Parent Blogger's Network offered up this DVD back in December and we patiently awaited its arrival.

We don't watch much TV at our house (clarification: the kids don't watch much TV. Mom and dad are addicts. And also hypocrites.) I've been trying to slowly phase in a few programs so that Sam doesn't get culture shock in a few years. I like the idea of DVDs because it give me a lot more control over what he's watching, and for how long. The disc is composed of eight short episodes, each running around five minutes long. To me that was a huge plus because we could watch one episode at a time and not OD on the television. Also cool? None of the characters actually speak. Instead they squawk and honk in some oddly humorous penguin dialect. There is also a lot of gesturing and pantomime used in lieu of words to communicate the action of the story.

The first time I popped in Pingu: On Thin Ice for my own viewing, I was enchanted. First off,, the theme song is an excerpt from David Hasselhoff's Pingu Dance rap. I am so not kidding. The show itself was silly fun, and the clay-mation reminded me of episodes of Gumby from my youth. I also dug the family dynamic presented. Even though the father penguin was shown going off to work at the post office, he also did plenty of helping around the house, including the knitting!

While I found these quirky little birds (and seal) entertaining, Sam didn't seem to share my enthusiasm. I wouldn't say he disliked the show, but it didn't really hold his attention well. I think that, at not quite 2, the lack of clear communication made it difficult for him to follow along with the story. He would watch for a minute and then jump off the couch to find some toys. I tried playing it for him several times and at different times of the day, but he just wasn't that into it.

Even though Sam wasn't enthralled with Pingu, I think most kids would love him. He's cute, funny, and a little mischievous. As proof, I checked out the other reviews over at PBN and guess what? He's very popular.

So check him out. Or buy your own copy here. Or drop me a comment or email and maybe a free copy might find its way into your mailbox!

P.S. If you're commenting to win the DVD, please make sure you leave some way for me to contact you. If you don't have an email attached to your Blogger account, then just send me an email me at instead! I'm still waiting to hear from Demi who won a copy of The Ultimate Tea Diet.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Winner Annouced!

Congrats Demi! You won yourself a brand new copy of The Ultimate Tea Diet! Email me at with your contact info and I'll ship it right off to you.

Oh, and I went to Weight Watchers this morning. I lost 4 pounds!!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

It's High Time for Tea Time

When I was a little girl, my grammy and I would have tea parties where we would drink tea with milk and sugar (in my case, tons of sugar) and eat saltines with cream cheese. These parties were something I looked forward to more than I can express. I felt so grown up drinking tea.

Now that I am grown up, tea is still something I enjoy immensely. In fact, I have three different brewing devices and more than a dozen loose leaf teas. When asked by the Parent Bloggers Network to review The Ultimate Tea Diet by Mark Ukra, I though how perfect! I already have a bunch of tea, and I already have a big butt! Why not let one take care of the other?

As soon as the book came, I started reading thirstily. The mainstay of the diet is to drink tea all day long, eat healthy meals, have a positive outlook and exercise. The plan is complimentary to other weight loss plans, which is nice. I'm starting back to Weight Watchers next week, and by adding tea and tea recipes to my plan the book claims I can enhance my weight loss results.

The main concern I had when I started drinking tea was about caffeine. Ever since Sam was born I've switched to drinking mostly decaf. Whenever I would have too much caffeine from coffee, I felt awful. I would get sweaty and agitated, and have trouble focusing. Tea also has caffeine, but it also contains other compounds that make it better for you than coffee. Caffeine, L-theanine and EGCG are the main components linked to tea's weight loss properties. I quickly found that even after drinking three cups of fully caffeinated tea, I never felt jumpy or anxious, just alert but calm. At night I would switch to decaf teas, but during the day time it wasn't a problem at all. Plus I learned from the book that most of the caffeine is extracted out during the first steep. So if you re-steep the same leaves, the subsequent steeps are nearly caffeine free!

So after two weeks of cutting out coffee and drinking tea instead, did I lose weight? Probably. Like I said before, I'm starting back to Weight Watchers next week so I didn't get officially weighed. And my bathroom scale is highly unreliable. But I feel as though I did. I also noticed a drastic reduction in my hunger levels. My mood during the day was so noticeably calmer that SOB commented on it multiple times. I plan to try and incorporate some of the recipes into my diet as well since they look pretty yummy.

As far as the book goes, I did enjoy several things about it. Mark Ukra got several of his Tea Garden patrons to participate in a weight loss challenge with him, so at the end of every chapter is a TEAmmate profile detailing that specific person's challenges and successes. There were also many interesting studies mentioned that, as a scientist, piqued my interest.

That said, being a scientist who is married to a physician, I do have issues with people who call themselves Dr. Anything when they are not. It's misleading, disingenuous and somewhat disrespectful to those who have earned an MD, DO or PhD. He could have easily called himself Mr. Tea. And then he could have made himself a necklace of gold plated tea bags. Although that turned me off at the beginning, reading the book brought me around. While I don't agree with his self appointed title, I would recommend this book to people looking to either expand their knowledge of tea or lose weight, or both!

Interested? Read more reviews at the Parent Bloggers Network! Or...leave me a comment and WIN a brand spankin' new copy of The Ultimate Tea Diet!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Mango's Big Dog Parade: The Wheels on the Bus

When the Parent Bloggers Network asked for reviewers of Mango's Big Dog Parade: The Wheels on the Bus DVD, I decided to take a chance. We don't usually watch TV or DVDs, but since The Wheels on the Bus song is like crack to Sam, and The Who’s Roger Daltrey is the voice of Argon the Bus Driver, I had to give it a try. I was raised by a classic rock loving father (except it wasn't classic rock to him, it was just rock) and The Who is a family favorite.

Doing some research before the DVD came, I read on The Wheels on the Bus home page that, "Dr. Dorothy Singer, from Yale University’s Family Television Research Center, ensures the content is appropriate for young children and that the series conveys important life skills in an intelligent and fun way." So I had some reassurance that I wasn't going to be showing Sam some junk TV.

Once the package arrived, I popped it in for my initial viewing. The songs were catchy and the colors were bright. With a mix of live kids and puppets, I knew Sam was going to love it. And he did. With lessons like taking turns, getting along and listening to your mother I didn't mind either! There were also segments on insects, counting, and singing in Spanish. It sounds like a lot, but it's presented in a way that isn't overwhelming.

My only small complaint about this DVD is kind of nit-picky. In general I try and present lessons to Sam in the most positive way I can. The lessons in Mango's Big Dog Parade: The Wheels on the Bus DVD generally start out with two characters arguing, or child being disobedient. It's a little thing, but in a perfect world I would prefer a more positive message.

Overall, Sam really enjoyed singing along with all the versions of his favorite song The Wheels on the Bus. If you're looking for a new DVD for your collection, I would give this one a big thumbs up. Click over to PBN to read the rest of the reviews if you want more info!