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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Turn Off TV Week Survival Guide and Giveaway

***UPDATE 5-10-09***
Winner of the Outdoor Prize pack is...Stacy!
Last week my kids participated in Turn Off TV Week. Note, I did not say ‘family’, I say my kids. I actually did not w
atch TV either. The Mister, however, cheated just about every night when the girls went up to bed. But who’s counting.

I was in full support after having been part of the Subway / NIH WE CAN! effort to fight childhood obesity. Actually, it was easier than I thought, even with one kid sick and home from school on one of the days! Here are some of the things we did that helped us survive.

We Made a mural in honor of Earth Week

I am not a crafty gal but I do have a large roll of white paper. I laid out about 5 feet from a roll of white paper I had in my non-crafty craft closet, grabbed the glitter glue, markers and stamps they got from the Easter Bunny, and told them to have at it while I cleaned up from dinner.

Murals = Cool

We played board games

Now that the Twofer are almost 6, they have kid versions of games that even I can get into…. Princess Monopoly, Cranium Cadoo, and various card games. Yet reality is, we’re playing those games on the floor in the family room…in front of our tv…that is turned off. Depressing. So, why not add a little gambling? Whoever loses has to empty the dishwasher. The next person to roll a 6 has to get Mom a glass of get the idea

Play-Doh anyone

For real, I can't remember the last time they just sat and played with Play-Doh. That roll of white paper came in hand again...

Play-Doh = Cool

We made dinner together

Em was definitely into this. And has been asking every night since if she can help. We stepped it up a bit and I allowed her to do some cutting with an actual knife, AND crumble up the ground beef as it was cooking. But it just isn’t real cooking until someone gets burned and Em wound up with burn on her tummy. Yes, her tummy. Long story, but it involves my cook top being located on an island in the kitchen and the lack of a child guard that has since been put back.

Other things we did besides watch TV

  • Went to the library and read books.
  • Had friends sleep over…with no TV – yes, they were game for it!
  • Went shopping, ran errands, got ice cream (no TV means yes to spending money)
  • Took a bath! (Girls have been showering but a nice leisurely bath with lots of toys was very entertaining)
  • Played outside…a lot.

Which leads me to the giveaway...

I have in my hot little hands a big box filled with all kinds of outdoor toys that YOU can enter to win!

Win ALL of this great outside stuff!

Contents Include:
Baseball bat game
Some kind of racquet game
Frisbee thing

Butterfly net
A kite and

a $10.00 gift card to Subway!

Here's what you need to do (as ALWAYS, separate comment for each!)

1. Leave a comment telling me your favorite "No-more-TV-today!" activity
2. Tweet this post (click on '30 sec ago' for the link)
3. Email a link to this post to 5 friends and cc me (scarytwins [at] yahoo)
4. Grab my button and put it on your site (leave link)
5. Do 10 squats, 3 Hail Mary's and pat yourself on the back (just making sure you're paying attention)
6. Blog about this topic and include link to this post

Contest ends Wednesday, May 6, 2009 at 11:59 pm!

Doing my squats,

Thanks to Subway for providing the great outdoor prize pack!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Part 2 Backstage Experience at Yanni Voices in Baltimore

More on Yanni Voices....Did you check out the Concert review and videos?

The Mom Media Meet & Greet with Yanni Voices

After the concert we were lining up with about 70 other people for the Yanni Voices meet & greet. I, of course, did not have the right credentials because I never do, but does that stop me from getting in line? No.

Anyway, we're chatting and then we hear the lovely Krystal from YanniWake come walking down the line calling, "Who are the mommy bloggers? Mommy bloggers? Anyone here a mommy blogger?"

And then like a trouble maker I ask, "Can we be the Mom Media?"

Krystal, "Sure! Follow me!"

We jump out of line and she escorts us behind a curtain where all 4 vocalists come and chat with us. We all look at each other and say a little silent thank you to @BarbaraJones, @ToThink, and the whole team at One2One Network.

And then I turn on the Flip and hand it to my trusty friend Barb...

This was my backstage experience at Yanni Voices.

I am still recovering.
Next up - an interview with Leslie Mills...and Tango lessons with Ender (ok, that might not happen but I can dream).


Yanni Voices Show at Baltimore's 1st Mariner Arena

Ok really? You can bring a glass of wine into the shows at Baltimore's 1st Mariner Arena? The night was starting off great. And that wine might be what lead to this...

Have you all seen @twincident dance w/ Ender from #Yannivoices? on Twitpic
Dancing with the Stars: Ender and Me!

Whether you're a Yanni fan or not, a little wine, some good company (Barb, Amy & Jill) and the amazing musicians and vocalists of Yanni Voices in Concert will put a smile on your face, and, at times, a little shake to your booty.

Here's Why:
This Yanni show is not at all about Yanni. It seems to have been created to highlight all the other musicians and performers on the tour. Of course Yanni himself is a great host for the evening, but the real stars are the four new vocalists (Chloe, Leslie Mills, Ender Thomas, Nathan Pacheco) and the incredible musicians including the violinists, the percussion and drummer, the classical guitarist, and the harpist.

Here are the highlights from the Yanni Voices concert in Baltimore as I experienced them.

Ender Thomas came out in a hot pink shirt and tight pants and the Grandma sitting next to us whipped out her binoculars. No Joke. I can only imagine what she was focused on....can you?

Leslie Mills' satin vocals and fabulous wardrobe.

Dueling drums....honestly, amazing.

Chloe performed Change and I swear she was really crying.

A family of young girls (ages 12 to about 7) sitting right in front of us completely enjoying the concert!

Classic Baltimore moment...the mom of the girls comes shuffling through mid-song with nachos and a 20 oz beer (see - loving the 1st Mariner Arena!)

Dueling violins - insane

Crazy Brazilian harp thing....doubly insane!

Nathan Pacheco gets a standing ovation and we learned later on that his family was in the audience.

Next: My Backstage Experience at Yanni Voices


Friday, April 24, 2009

This. Is. Cool. KaBOOM! mapping 100,000 play spaces in 100 days

Imagine you are on vacation at your inlaws and just really need to find a great playground for your 2 and 4 year olds...nothing too big, shade preferred.

You go to KaBOOM! 's playspace finder and BOOM! There's the perfect park not 5 miles from where you are.

But KaBOOM! needs your help.

KaBOOM! wants to map 100,000 playspaces in just 100 days. I'm helping the Mom Central team add play spaces because for every space we add,
$1 will be donated to Jumpstart, a non-profit that brings at-risk preschool children and caring adults together to improve literacy.

What is considered a playspace for KaBOOM?

a playground

skate park
roller hockey rink
dog park
community center
basketball court
ice rink
or any place where kids can engage in unstructured play for free or a nominal fee.

A playspace listing on KaBOOM! consists of an address or cross street and a description, one photo and one rating.

Join KaBoom! (registration takes 1 min.) then join the Mom Central team. Be sure to log your playspaces. Look up the ones you frequent on the internet and when you are there take a quick picture with your phone - you can upload it to twitpic! Then be sure to add a rating and any other information you think parents might want to know.

Boom! You just earned a dollar for Jumpstart.

But hurry - as of today there are just 68 days to go!

I thank you, Mom Central thanks you, and all the kids and parents looking for places to play thank you.

Guest Post! JP Laqueur on The Verizon Hub for Families

Verizon Hub Widget Phone
Photo Credit: Techfever on Flickr

I was invited to get a first-look at the Verizon Hub home phone in New York last week but couldn't get up there in time. Thankfully fellow marketer, blogger, and all-around good guy JP Laqueur (full-disclosure, he's my brother!) was able to take my spot and here is what he experienced.

So today I had the privilege of seeing the new Verizon Hub firsthand. Verizon Wireless has done a great job with the first generation of this product.
The Hub is aptly named as well.

Verizon Hub connects family members

Verizon envisioned this device from the start as something that would tie an entire family together in the one time and place they are likely to meet each day: the kitchen at breakfast. And they built its features and capabilities around that typical family experience.

Mom or Dad can quickly check weather, messages or news while they make coffee. They can we real time traffic updates before staring the commute. The kids can even watch short-form videos of their favorite shows while they eat breakfast.

But the Hub goes beyond breakfast too. It's calender feature allows all family members to keep track of events and it will soon integrate with Outlook and other calender systems. At dinner Mom or Dad can also call up recipes to help whip up a quick dinner.

And the Hub has a messaging interface that integrates neatly with your Verizon Wireless phones. The kids can instant message the Hub remotely to let Mom or Dad know about soccer practice change. And anyone can leave a message on the Hub like "went to Kmart. Back in 30" in lieu of paper notes.

Cost of the Verizon Hub

The Hub costs $200 then $35 a month and it must be accompanied by a new or existing Verizon Wireless account. It can support up to 3 handsets in the house and uses a VoIP connection and the home wireless network rather than a land line - making it convenient, fast and easy.
It's also very upgradable. Verizon pushes updates to the device (new videos and recipes) all the time.

The next generation of the device will be even smaller and more integrated into the 7-inch screen.
All in all it's a great initial product an likely to get even better. For busy Verizon Wireless families it's definitely worth a try.

JP Laqueur is president of Idea-Ware Inc. and blogs his random thoughts on marketing advocacy, technology and life at The Madvocate Blog.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Try FREE this weekend!

If you haven't yet signed up for this is the weekend to do it!

What is is a membership site where you can review profiles, references AND background checks done for
all kinds of caregivers including:
Child care
Special needs
Pet sitters
Senior care
Housekeeping FREE Weekend

Next weekend (April 24-26 2009) will be offering you the benefits of a paid, premium membership FREE.

Starting midnight (PST) on Friday, April 24 and running through Sunday, April 26 you can post jobs, review profiles, contact care providers that match your experience and hourly rate requirements and even run a background check!

Click on the button at the top left of this blog
to check it out then come back and let me know who you found to help out on your next date night.

I can't wait to see who is available in my area!

Monday, April 20, 2009

WE CAN! Part 3: Lessons I Learned from Jared Fogle

Having already accosted Jared with my Flip at the NIH / Subway WE CAN! program kick-off, his PR people thought it best to allow him to give me a more civilized a distance, and over the phone. Luckily, I think I won him over and he knows I'm not psycho. Also, he totally won me over and is my new blog friend. These are things I learned from Jared.
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Be a Communicator

Jared understands that people are curious about him. When I asked him why he started blogging he explained, "Everyone is doing it now. It’s a way to communicate. People are always coming up and asking me questions. They want to know who I am. I’m this guy they see on a 30 second commercial or interviewed, but they ask, "What do you do?". The blog gives me a space to let people know what I’m doing, if they want to keep track of where I'm going, and occasional tips for staying healthy."

This reminds me that people respond to the personal stories and insights I share as much as the giveaways and contests. Readers want to know who I am too.

Time is not an excuse

Jared's full-time job is as a spokesperson for Subway. He also does key note speeches and is starting the Jared Foundation to help battle childhood obesity. While I envy this, Jared travels over 200 days of the year. He never knows when he'll be eating or when he'll have time to relax or work out. Yet he makes the time to take care of himself.

"My schedule is not left up to me, it’s up to the people who schedule the trips...but there are always going to be issues. Everyone has things that crop up. If they have a gym in the hotel then I try to get even 30 minutes on a treadmill. As far as eating part, I’ve always known what’s healthy or not but restaurants these days have enormous portions and you have to have the discipline not to eat the whole thing."

Jared reminds me that while I have a list of products to review and articles to write, I have to find the time to take care of myself, and get quality time with the people I love. As he said, there will always be issues. So I need to make it a priority.

Kids are kids and parents are not police

When Jared said, "I got my first Nintendo system in third grade and things went downhill from there" I realized that he wasn't always overweight. Parents need to teach kids that staying active can be fun too.

When he was in college, Jared started the Subway diet because it was convenient for him. "I tried not to schedule my first class before noon", he explained, "So I really never ate breakfast. Maybe a cup of coffee." And Subway was just a few blocks away." Basically, Jared discovered the lazy-kid's diet.

Now that he's older, Jared is spreading his message to adults as well. He asked me, as a parent, what I thought about the WE CAN! program which is where I first met him. The materials in the WE CAN! program work to engage not just the kids, but the entire family, if not the community. Jared understands that while a healthy lifestyle starts with the parents, there "is a lot vying for a kid's attention these days. It's not easy."

And so once again I learn a lesson from Jared Fogle. Start now, but as a parent we cannot be perfect. You give them the tools and show them the right choices and then stand back and say a little prayer. Then you blog about it!

In the end I learned why Jared the-Subway-guy has become so successful. It may have started as a fluke, but it has lasted because he is a genuine person with a message he is passionate about. And, he is making a difference.

In this series:

Part One: Video Interviews with Jared and Laila Ali
Part Two: More on the WE CAN! Program

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Support the Arts: City Dance Ensemble at the BSO (Saturday 4/25)

Times are tough. And when the going gets tough, the tough go see shows.
But instead of losing your cares in another animated movie, why not try real, live artists?City Dance Ensemble in "Jungle Books"
Photo Credit: Paul Gordon Emerson

Next Saturday, April 25th at the Meyerhoff in Baltimore, the City Dance Ensemble will be performing Jungle Books. Live music, live performers, great costumes, and great are just a little more than a movie ticket at $12-$20.

Plus, you'll be supporting the arts and they need it during times like these. They need it more than the movie studios at the very least!

Giving my support,

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Flasback - Musthaves with Newborn Twins (X-Post at TyepAMom)

I'm over at Type A today and chose four must-haves for newborn twins that still stick out in my mind almost six years later. I know there are other items that helped us get along (including friends, family, and our beloved Suzette and Royanne) but for some reason these four stuck out to me:

Ultimate Crib Sheet
Feeding/Diaper chart as I mentioned in earlier post
Breast pump

What else helped you get through those newborn days and sleepless nights a little easier?

Head on over to Type A Mom and let me know in the comments. I'd love to compile a list for future reference!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Flashback: Twofer's Newborn Twin Feeding & Diaper Schedule

I am working on an article for Type A Mom and was remembering the early days with newborn twins. I went searching through their baby books and came across the chart we made to keep track of their eating, sleeping, and diapering.

It's not that we were particularly, um, anal (no pun intended). It's just that we were not the only ones caring for our babies. Those first few weeks we had a revolving door of people including friends, family, neighbors, as well as a part-time nanny and even a night nurse on occasion.

It was important in those early days to keep track of what they were eating because, well, because that was the first question the pediatrician would ask in those weekly appointments!

This chart made it easier for us to keep track and keep the twins on the same schedule.

I know several of you are making fun of me,

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cross Post - Win an Electrolux "Kelly Green" washer and dryer

Want to know how you can get your hands on a set of really cool, eco-friendly, and efficient Electrolux washer and dryer like this.....

Go to Twofer Thumbs Up and find out TWO places where you can enter to win!

But get in line...I'm all over this giveaway. Green is definitely MY color!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Haagen-Dazs Five ice cream is cool. Dry ice is too!

It's no secret that some of the perks of being a blogger is getting free product. But sometimes you get a little something extra too.

Last week I received 4 containers of the new Haagen-Dazs Five ice cream from Mom Central to taste and then review. But this freebie came with an BIG extra bonus...a cooler FULL of dry ice!

Ice cream on dry ice is COOL!

The 'coolness' quotient is then doubled by the fact that the package came with a warning.

How exciting...I had to use special gear for this one.

And then the dry ice experiment.

I looked up a few experiments online but only one I was brave enough to try was this:
1. Use safety gear (do NOT touch dry-ice or it will burn you) and put materials in your kitchen sink.

2. Take a piece of dry ice and place it into a cup of it smoke.

3.Then add dish soap and was like a volcano of bubbles!

No pictures as I was busy making sure no one knocked over the ice and caused major damage to themselves. But it was fun, and made me feel like I was back in that chemistry lab in high school fiddling with all kinds of things that could explode. Cool.

For the full review head on over to Twofer Thumbs Up (including video of the Twofer tasting exotic flavors like passion fruit and ginger!) AND for a chance to win 3 FREE containers of HDFive ice cream for yourself!


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

We've Lost a Tooth! (Warning: this post may not be suitable for all ages.)

Frankly, this post is not suitable for me! It has taken me 2 days to even watch the video and y'all know how much I love seeing myself on tv.

M's tooth was wiggling so much she was getting really whiny and complaining that it was annoying her so much she just wanted it out.

Mister tried first but couldn't get a good grip (blaming it on his pudgy finger...puhhlease) and brought out the pliers...seriously.

So of course she decided it could wait another day, and it did...lucky me.

It just so happened that our neighbor was over and was willing to hold my Flip while Mr. held the 'real' video camera and L sat back with neighbor kids and watched the torture.

(All I can say is there was a moment when I thought I had broken the tooth and some was still in there, but thankfully, I was just nervous and wrong. It was a clean break.)

Here's what it felt like when I pulled (read: yanked, tugged, snapped) her tooth:
1. the Inquisition
2. the 'snap' of a crisp green bean
3. the wave of nauseousness that came with morning sickness
4. the sweaty clamminess of what I imagine menopause will be like

Oh, you mean you want to know how M felt?
This is my show people. All she had to do was sit back and dab the bloody tissue. I did all the work!

For the record, she said it didn't hurt, it just was a little scary. And it stopped bleeding soon after.

Just getting my appetite back,
Janine (torture queen)

Monday, April 6, 2009

WE CAN! Help our kids avoid childhood obesity with Subway and Scholastic (Part 2)

While interviewing Laila Ali and Jared Fogle was exciting, the WE CAN! program and what it is doing for kids and communities across the country is too!

Like the Escambia County Health Department giving inner-city Pensacola kids the opportunity to get in shape.

And the way the Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery in Kentucky encourages families to spend more time in nature.

The WE CAN program has tools that make it fun to learn about eating healthy and getting exercise.

For example, I have a sample kit for teachers that includes everything to get started:
parent/guardian letter
move of the day calendar
certificates and stickers
AND - special hologram stickers that turn the certificates into a coupon for a FREE Subway Fresh Fit for Kids meal!

WE CAN Makes it simple to be healthy

If you are a parent you'll want to check out the Learn It and Live It sections.

If you are a teacher or community organizer you'll want to see just how EASY it is to run the WE CAN program for your group. (Think boys/girl scouts, recreation departments, educator, after-school program coordinator, neighborhood coach, etc.)

If you are a health professional there are materials you can distribute to your families.

Some of the materials available I have pinned to the side of my fridge already including the Go Slow Whoa sheet, and the Family Activity chart so we keep these in mind when we start our days.

Make it Happen! Contest

In addition to all the cool learning materials, WE CAN! and the program partners have created an exciting opportunity for your child to share a personal story about staying healthy and be entered to win Scholastic and Subway prizes!

How to enter:
Have your child write a story (or write it together) that tells how he or she eats healthy, stays active or limits recreational screen time (TV or Computer). Has she learned a new sport or motivated the family to start eating better?

Try starting with...
"My family and I stay healthy by eating..."
"Instead of watching TV or playing video games I like to..."

Then head over to and submit your child's story before June 30, 2009 (Mail in entries must be received by June 30, 2009. Visit for official rules and eligibility.)

1 Grand Prize Winner receives: $5,000 worth of athletic equipment for his/her school, Scholastic gift basket ($500 value), Subway gift cards ($100 value), and his/her story published online at and in Scholastic Parent & Child magazine!

6 Runners Up receive: Scholastic Gift Basket ($100 value) and Subway gift cards ($100 value)

I'll leave you with a tip from the Move of the Day calendar...
"Super-size? No way! If you buy snacks in big bags, put the amount you need for small healthy portions in individual bags. That way, it's easier not to over eat."

Good advice,

WE CAN! Series Part 1

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Mom It Forward and Make a Difference

Congratulations to Jyl and Carissa from Mom It Forward on the launch of their new site, the way cool chip in widget, and the upcoming LIVE #gno parties/fundraisers that are going to happen all over the US and Australia on April 18th!

What is Mom It Forward?

Mom It Forwrd is the newest trend in mom groups and makes giving back fun, sociable, accessible, and stylish. The Mom It Forward mission is “to change the world one mom at a time” by strengthening women, helping them become the best moms they can be, and providing support.

Who is Mom It Forward going to help?

The answer to this is always changing. At the Blissdom conference in February MOM IF members helped serve food at a homeless shelter. Recently Mom IF Utah members held a family service project to benefit kids who are abused or neglected. The LIVE #GNO event is raising money for The Pope Foundation which helps women and families support themselves through
a concept called microfinance. The Pope Foundation took the microfinance one step further and created 2 more businesses to help their movement. (Read all about this in the Mom IF Fundraiser FAQs)

How you can help Mom It Forward?

1. Chip in via the widget above.

2. Grab the widget and place it on your own blog, w
ebsite, Facebook page, My Space page, etc.

3. Attend or even help organize one of the local LIVE events taking place April 18th.

4. Donate $20 or buy some of the the Pope Foundation's Basa Body line of products and you'll automatically be entered to win one of three gift cards: $250 Disney gift card, $150 Amazon gift card, $100 Target gift card.

I'll be helping with the DC event so let me know if you'll be there too!

Counting my blessings,

Friday, April 3, 2009

Around the world in one night

Last night was International Night at the Twofer's school and I was completely wowed. Families chose to represent a different country from around the world and set up tables with photos, books, artifacts, and even food from that country.

Flags Of The World
Photo via Flickr 365

Many families chose countries they had ties to, and even included short dance routines like Irish Step Dancing. Some families just chose a country and used it as a way to explore another culture with their kids. One family chose to represent the country where they adopted their children.

Each table was unique and you could see the families that chose to participate had the most fun as they stamped each child's paper passport.

And I learned a lesson - sometimes it is better to give of your time, than to receive.

Jambo! Next year, I think we'll do the Kenya table.