Sunday, February 27, 2011

Review: Just Dance Kids

I was a reluctant addition to the legions of households with video game systems. I remember the days when my friends and I would sit on the couch like zombies not moving for hours as we tried to beat one game or another. The new gaming systems luckily are more interactive where you get up and move.

Fortunately, the wee ones are huge fans of this. We recently tried out a new game that is very different from any of the ones we'd played previously. Just Dance Kids is a Wii game that really keeps them moving. Granted, most Wii games are somewhat active because of the way the controller works, the dancing game really gets their whole bodies going.

Even better? I can check out how much they're really moving and burning. So far, I've been lucky in that neither of the wee ones has a weight problem, but I know their activity levels will decrease as they get older. Having games like this where they're exercising while having fun where it doesn't feel like work is ideal.

I was a little worried about the dancing to start, for a few reasons - forget the part about how their dancing is ummm not exactly ready for stage or screen. Kids are growing up way too fast these days, and I was a little fearful that the songs on the game were going to be a little mature for them. While they love songs like Dynomite and Party in the USA, those are somewhat benign. Fortunately, Just Dance Kids has extremely age appropriate songs available like the Hamster Dance (one of our personal favorites) and The Chicken Dance. That said, the songs aren't all just for the younger set. MmmmBop and other songs more appealing to older kids are also readily available as part of the game.

The menus of the game aren't as frustrating as some games we've seen, which means Mister Man doesn't come stomping into the kitchen when I'm trying to chop veggies for dinner, begging me to help him get the game to work. I love fostering their independence, and this is perfect for him. And listening to him sing along (the words are on the bottom of the screen during the song) - especially to songs he's never heard before - cracks me up. I definitely need to get video of him soon!

I'm a big fan of games that aren't just the one or two player versions. When we have playdates, the disagreements over whose turn it is or the loss of interest in a game that only some people can play is frustrating. Since up to four kids can play at once, this works out perfectly. I love watching all the kids trying to figure it out - and the lack of coordination some of them display doesn't keep them from enjoying the game. Because so many of the moves repeat across songs, the wee ones are starting to really figure it out and master some of the moves so they can win. And the joy on their faces when they do? Priceless.

Mommy, check it out! Look what I did! This is my most favoritest game EVER, Little Miss bounced up to me shouting just yesterday afternoon. That is the kind of reaction I love to see. The hardest part is figuring out a good time to turn it off because they just haven't been getting tired of playing it.

Mister Man's take? Mommy, those are actual kids dancing! They're dancing on tv, and I'm doing just what they are. If they can do it, I can, too. I love how having actual children leading the dances is boosting his confidence and willingness to try the game - even when he's having difficulty with a particular part. He keeps going because he's seeing that they can do it, too.

And shhhh, don't let the wee ones know, but it's possible I've played this one on my own when they've been at school. That's a pretty good endorsement of a game, I think!

You can find Just Dance Kids at retailers everywhere for a suggested price of $29.99.

In the interest of full disclosure, while Ubisoft provided me with this game to review, the opinions I've expressed here are solely my own and represent my honest viewpoint. Ubisoft, Clever Girls Collective and I promote Blog With Integrity.

Friday, February 25, 2011


Congrats goes out to Bani from Bani's Puzzle Pieces who won the Progresso Souper You Debut giveaway from Progresso and MyBlogSpark. She has 48 hours to get back to me.

And for fun, check out the video below from Progresso, and the Style Network.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Promo: Sassy Moms Night Out - Chicago

There are more charity events out that than I can shake a stick at. If I wanted, I could spend nearly every waking moment at one event or another. And while I do attend my fair share of charity initiatives, I don't have the time or money to attend as many as I'd like.

This one? I'm making time for it on my calendar. WBBM Newsradio 780 and 104.3 JACK FM present Sassy Moms Night Out on February 24th at Alhambra Palace Restaurant in Chicago from 7-10pm. This is in support of the American Heart Association and New Moms, Inc., both charities I greatly admire, but first some quick details on the event itself.

There will be cocktails (Red Martinis by YES Vodka, whoo!) and hors d'oeuvres to sample throughout the evening, plus plenty of pampering. Attendees can experience everything from mini-manicures from Mario Tricoci to Massage Therapy by Access Chiropractic to Hair Consultations by Tony Mondragon. Let's just say that I could use some pampering - and advice.

There's also the opportunity to peruse - and purchase from - the spring collections by Miracle Body Jeans (love love LOVE them!), 1154 LILL Studio (who is also providing a tote to all attendees), NuNu Collection, Jules Artisan Jewelry, and Sabika Jewelry. I fully expect to come home having provided some proceeds to the event that will be passed along to the American Heart Associations Go Red for Women Initiatives.

The red dress and shoes are optional, but it's possible I've purchased four dresses online that will arrive next Tuesday in the hopes that I will have a red dress to wear - that isn't from a 1996 college formal. I'm that excited to be going.


I love New Moms Inc that aims to take underprivileged adolescent moms and moms to be and helps them craft better lives for themselves and their children. The programs focus on everything from providing stable housing to ensuring children are vaccinated to career programs. It aims to end the cycle of poverty for the participants, and it's doing a great job. Want to help? New Moms Inc is accepting donations of gently used maternity items from 11am-8pm on February 24 at Alhambra.

Want to help? Donate some of those maternity clothes you haven't quite decided what to do with yet - and unfortunately mine are long gone. There are no more babies in my future.

Or hey - come on down to the party on the 24th. There will be lots of awesome women there, including plenty who will be there sans red dress and shoes - so no pressure there. You can RSVP here.

Oh, and did I mention that there's a special guest there, too? She's all part of the fashionable evening filled with mini spa services, shopping and fashion demo/book signing by style expert and author Amy Tara Koch spotlighting how to transform wardrobe basics into of-the-moment looks. And anyone who knows me - or has so much as glimpsed me - knows that I can use the help there.

Every attendee will go home with a signed copy of Bump It Up: Transform Your Pregnancy Into the Ultimate Style. Yes, I certainly could have used that about six years ago. And eight years ago. Oh well! Plus... every attendee will come home with the aforementioned tote from 1154 LILL Studio creation (the "Wendy" reversible tote) filled with more swag.

OH! And a relatively new addition? One lucky attendee will win tickets for 2 to the Toronto Film Festival from Porter Airlines. That's a $3,650 value. Can you imagine how fun that would be? Details on that part here.

So come. Have fun. Hang out with me. And keep up to date on the event by connecting with Sassy Moms in the City on Facebook.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received a complimentary ticket to this even for myself and a friend from Sassy Moms in the City. There was no compensation involved. All opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Review: Monster Truck Jam

On Friday night, Mister Man and I headed to Allstate Arena to check out Monster Truck Jam. He's been wanting to go to something like this since he got a stuffed version of Grave Digger (one of the more popular trucks) awhile ago. I was a little more hesitant - the noise being my primary concern. But go, we did, and I don't regret it at all.

When we arrived at the Allstate Arena, I was surprised by how chilly it was in the arena, but it quickly made sense as I realized they needed the doors open to get the giant vehicles into and out of the arena for setup and the actual show. Mister Man left his coat on for a good while - with his earplugs (and headphones to hold the earplugs in place).

I was surprised by how family-friendly the show was. I'll admit that the crowd attending was not at all what I had expected. The show sponsors are obviously aware that many fans are there for the first time. Prior to the show starting and throughout the show, there was a great em cee who gave information on what was going to happen or what was happening so that I wasn't sitting with a blank look on my face for the majority of the night.

When the trucks first came in, all ten (I believe) went roaring around the outside of the arena at the same time. Sitting one a few rows from the sectioned off portion of the arena (for safety, I presume), I was a little concerned right then. They were huge and loud and I vibrated. Fortunately, that was as nervous as I got, as no more than one or two performed at a time after that, making it much more palatable. That said, the fumes from the trucks were a big strong by the end of the evening, and I was feeling a bit sick to my stomach from them - but I also know that I'm hypersensitive to smells and noises.

The first event for the trucks was freestyle. Trucks had two runs (if I remember right!) to show what they could do. Grave Digger - Mister Man's favorite - fell over on its side on the first stunt it attempted and had to be righted by a backhoe. Fortunately, there were no injuries, and Grave Digger came back for later competitions.

That said, my favorite truck was Monster Mutt. He was so cute, and his tongue actually panted. His ears moved and his spring-loaded tail kind of wagged. Unfortunately, he didn't win anything that night, but he was still a ton of fun to watch.

After the freestyle round, quad racers came out, which I didn't even realize was going to be a part of the show. The ATVs had two rounds of Quad Wars, with purposeful animosity on the part of Team Missouri becoming "Team Green Bay" to antagonize Chicago. Again, it was all in good fun. In the second round, one of the ATVs tipped over, but again all was well - and Team Illinois ended up winning. Yay!

The next Monster Truck competition was a race. Two by two the giant trucks came out and raced around the course twice, with the first vehicle to cross the finish line moving to the next round of competition. The Batman car also fell over once and had to be righted, but that was the only casualty. And yes, it also came back for the last competition of the night. Mister Man was thrilled when the US Air Force truck won the race.

There was also a bit of entertainment that came with two transforming "robot" cars - one good and one evil that battled just after intermission. There was a whole backstory and plot of what was going on, and the way the vehicles played to the crowd thrilled Mister Man. He actually asked me again just now about what happened to Reptar (the evil car) who had the whole shot in his chest. I loved having the break between the trucks that was again very family friendly.

The last segment was another competition of style where the vehicles each had sixty seconds each to show what they could do. Here, they flew higher and went more vertical than they had previously. The crowd's favorite move? When the trucks spun, flinging dirt and mud and rubber into the stands - and yes, we were hit by mud more than once.

All in all, it was definitely a fun night, and Mister Man can't wait to go back. The earplugs were definitely needed, although it wasn't as loud as I'd feared. The explanations made the action much easier to follow, and it was really impressive to see what these drivers could do - all long veterans of the sport.

I'll admit that the parking was steep - but that's an Allstate Arena issue, as is the inability to exit the arena parking lot - and the fumes were a bit much for me. The show itself was surprisingly cool. And when it comes next year? I'll be looking forward to the show - and hoping that Monster Mutt has a slightly better showing!

There are still more shows on Sunday February 13 at 2 and 7:30. If you can't make it now, there are more shows throughout the country, and Chicago is already reserved for February 10-12, 2012, so block it on your calendar now.

Don't forget, you can get discounted tickets. Use the promo code MOM to save 33% on adult tickets Saturday and Sunday. Children's tickets (I love shows that charge less for children!) are $10 all weekend, and adult tickets are already $10 on Friday night. For the discounted tickets, use promotional code MOM when purchasing tickets at the Allstate Arena box office, or by calling 1-800-745-3000. Enter Code in the “MC Promotions Box” on Ticketmaster. Offer only valid on $20 mid-level seats. Not valid the day of the show. Service charges and handling fees may apply. No double discounts.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received tickets to attend Monster Jam with Mister Man for review purposes only, and there was no additional compensation. All opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Giveaway: Progresso Souper You Debut

We've started to move into February, which means that some of those New Years resolutions are dying down. I've noticed that the gym is far more empty now than it was a couple weeks ago. This is the perfect time to step it up again.

Progresso offers soups - and with the temperature at five below tonight as I drove home - that offer hearty meals for winter that can help you keep your weight under control as the servings have only 1 or 2 Weight Watchers points. For those of us (me) not disciplined enough to do Weight Watchers, that translates to 100 calories per serving for the New England Clam Chowder or 70 for the Italian-Style Vegetable soup.

I was a little skeptical of the light soups, knowing that frequently the light versions of foods I try just taste ... off. I am happy to report that I actually enjoyed the five Progresso Light soups I tried. And I wasn't alone.

Mister Man's new favorite soup is New England Clam Chowder. Forget all the health benefits of eating soup in general, I'm thrilled that my sensory sensitive child can use soups to work into eating new types of foods. I've been able to get him to eat vegetables he wouldn't otherwise try by feeding him soups that contain them. He decided he likes creamy things (we're working out way up to actual sauces) because of the creamy soup. And the chewy clams? He can eat them now.

For that reason alone, I'd happily feed Mister Man (and the rest of my family) these soups - that don't contain HFCS or other ingredients we don't eat, thankfully. The fact that they actually taste pretty good - Zesty Santa Fe Chicken is my personal favorite. While some of them contain a surprise dairy ingredient meaning that Little Miss cannot eat them, there are plenty of varieties that she can eat.

Even better? Progresso is a new member of the Box Tops for Education family. For every can we eat, I can once again cut off the label and earn $0.10 for our school.

Back to the healthy debut part. Progresso announced the return of the "Souper You™ Debut" contest! From January 3rd through March 16th, you can visit Progresso on Facebook to enter for the chance to win a full makeover in New York City (not that I could use one, of course...).

Three grand prize winners will be awarded a trip for two to New York City from May 20th-22nd (awesome!). The prize includes roundtrip airfare, a two-night stay in an NYC hotel, a full makeover, a guided wardrobe shopping spree with a personal consultation at a New York City department store, and $1,000 in spending money.

To enter, you’ll need to do the following:
1) Go to Progresso on Facebook to learn more and enter the contest
2) Submit your essay (200 characters or less) telling Progresso why you love their soups that contain 100 calories or less, and why you deserve a chance to win a trip to NYC for a full fashion overhaul
3) In addition, please submit a photo of yourself that visually reinforces the theme of your essay

Once the 10 finalists are announced, you can visit Progresso on Facebook from March 30th through April 13th to vote for your favorite.

If you're more into creating your own makeover at home, you have a chance to win an identical Souper You Debut pack to the one I received. It includes a VIP coupon for a free can of Progresso soup, as well as a yoga mat, water bottle, set of aerobic bands, sport headband and two sport wristbands. And yes, I've been using mine heavily. I love that the water bottle keeps me from sloshing water all over myself while at the gym the way my old ones did.

Sound fun? I think so! So what do you have to do to win one of these Blu-Ray copies? First of all, let me stress that you must follow all the rules. If you do not follow the rules, your entry will not count!

This contest is open until Wednesday February 23 at 7pm CST. I must have a valid way to reach you, so leave me your email address in your comment or be sure your profile has your email address visible. No duplicate comments will count. This giveaway is open to US residents age 18 and older. Winners will be selected via and must respond within 48 hours of being notified by me or I will select a new winner.

Mandatory Entry: What Progresso Soup would you want to try?

Bonus Entries (leave a comment for each entry - if you put it all in one comment, I'll count it as one entry):

1) Earn one additional entry for following me on Twitter and tweeting this contest with the following tweet: "Don't give up on your New Years resolution. Win a Progresso Souper You Debut kit from @honestandtruly" (leave a link to your tweet as your comment and make sure you do all the steps!)
2) Earn one additional entry by following this review blog publicly via Google Friend Connect.
3) Earn one additional entry by following my “regular” blog Honest & Truly! publicly via Google Friend Connect.
4) Like my blog on Facebook and let me know what name you used to like it.

Good luck!

In the interest of full disclosure, I received a Souper You Debut kit as described above from Progresso via MyBlogSpark for review purposes only. There was no compensation involved. All opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Review: Disney on Ice Toy Story 3

Last week, the wee ones and I had the opportunity to go see Disney on Ice Toy Story 3. Given that Toy Story 3 is the current favorite around here - it's possible that it's actually supplanted Star Wars with Mister Man - I knew it would be a hit.

Which is, of ourse, why I didn't mention to the wee ones that we were headed there until we were on our way. Fortunately, the wee ones "happened" to choose Toy Story 3 t-shirts to wear. Again.

The show finished up at the Allstate and is now playing (through this coming weekend!) at the UC, where family shows have free parking - yet another bonus and reason to go see the show before it moves to the next city (or if you're in another city - check out the list of upcoming shows to see when it's coming to a venue near you)

Little Miss was so excited for the show to begin. She literally couldn't sit in her seat.

It was absolutely adorable how the show started with the toys "stored" in the box headed for the attic.

The show was introduced by the traditional Disney characters - Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy - who were "telling" the story of Toy Story to some degree. The first half of the show borrowed bits and pieces from all three movies but wasn't truly any of the movie stories.

That didn't bother the wee ones, who were happy to see all the characters from the Army Men - most of whom "parachuted" onto the ice...

And Hamm!

And of course, Slinky Dog!

Buzz had one of the coolest entrances of all the characters - and yes, they were just about all there - where he "flew" in with his rocket jet pack. The wee ones were in awe.

One of their favorite parts was when Rex was "playing" the video game and finally had Buzz defeat the Evil Emperor Zurg. Good triumphing over evil is always a win - and that was the only time in the show that Zurg was present, fortunately not at all scary for the wee ones.

After intermission, Little Miss's favorite character finally made an appearance. Lotso showed up, and the remainder of the show was primarily focused on the telling of Toy Story 3 - much to the delight of the wee ones.

Personally, my favorite part was the interaction between Barbie and Ken. It was priceless. Completely campy, but purposely so, and I loved it - as did other parents I know who've attended the show so far.

Obviously, there's no way the completely recreate the entire movie on ice, but they did a pretty good job. The dump truck that transported Lotso was awesome and very true to the movie.

That said, there was definitely some license taken with the movie to get it to fit the timeline of the show and the restrictions of live action on ice. The wee ones were fine with it, and best of all - the claw was still there with the alience. It was adorable.

Nonetheless, we had a blast, and I wish the show were coming to Milwaukee soon so we could go see it again. Disney on Ice has yet to disappoint, and I know I'm eagerly looking forward to the next show coming through town.

Still want to see it while it's in Chicago? It's not too late - and there are great discounts available, too. The remaining shows at the UC are:

Wed, Feb 9 7:00PM
Thu, Feb 10 10:30AM, 7:00PM
Fri, Feb 11 10:30AM, 7:00PM
Sat, Feb 12 11:30AM, 3:30PM, 7:00PM
Sat, Feb 13 11:30AM, 3:30PM, 7:00PM

And once again, you do not need to pay full price to go see the show. If you are looking to go Monday-Thursday or to a Friday Matinee, excluding holidays, you can get a family four pack of tickets for $44* by using the coupon code MOM. If you're going Friday night or on the weekend, you can still save $4 using the same coupon code.

How? Simply go to Ticketmaster and enter MOM in the “MC Promotions Box” or mention the code when purchasing tickets at the Allstate Arena or United Center Box Offices or by calling 1-800-745-3000. Note that this is not valid on Front Row or VIP seats. No double discounts. Service charges and handling fees may apply. Discount not valid on Front Row or VIP seats.