Friday, November 28, 2008

Does Your Computer Need A Tune-Up?

My poor laptop is a workhorse. If it were a person, it would be getting hours and hours of overtime each week and taking Ritalin to deal with all of the multi-tasking I put it through. At the moment, I have six windows of Firefox open, with a total of 17 tabs displaying 17 different websites. It's no surprise, then, that the laptop is starting to show signs of wear: crashing occasionally, random errors, and a slooooow processing speed at times.

Mom Central offered me the chance to try out Norton's PC Tune-Up service, where an expert works with you remotely to make sure your computer is running as well as it should be. It's really an easy process. I called the toll-free number, and then the Norton expert walked me through the steps to set up a secure connection between his computer and mine.

I'll admit I wasn't sure how much they could do remotely, but he did find a few places where my computer was running inefficiently - mostly too many background processes running by programs that didn't need to be eating up RAM. The technician suggested several things that I already knew how to do (as a blogger, I know my way around a computer a little bit), but he did have several ideas I haven't considered before. And he was far friendlier than I expected - no "my knowledge is superior" attitude.

Since our chat, my laptop is running better and I haven't had a crash. While it's not as spry as a shiny new laptop, I'm hoping I bought myself another year or two of time before I need to consider a replacement.

If you're not computer savvy, or just aren't sure where to begin with a slow or uncooperative computer, the Norton PC Tune-Up service can assist in getting your system working with you instead of against you.

Try it out! I've got three Norton PC Tune-Up codes to give away to three separate winners. The code will give you one free tune-up for your computer. To enter, leave a comment on this post between now and December 5, 2008 at 11:59PM EST. Winners will be picked via random drawing after Dec. 6.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Home Depot Gift Card Winner

Congrats to Julie Pippert - she's the winner of the $100 Home Depot gift card!

Thanks for playing everyone!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Lee Jeans Giveaway!

I know, it's like giveaway central right now, isn't it? But hey, with the holidays fast approaching, it's fun to help get a few items off of your lists.

Today, I'm giving away TEN pairs of Lee jeans! As some of you know, jeans are my nemesis. I have a hard time finding jeans that fit well in the hips without having a waist twice as large as my waist. In the past, I've had good luck with the Lane Bryant Right Fit jeans, but if I continue on my goal of losing weight, I'll soon be too small for those. Tough dilemma, right?

Lee Jeans, however, sent me a pair of their jeans to try out, and I was surprised that I didn't have a waistband that was swimming around my midsection for once. I like dark jeans, and these look very good and wear even better after washing several times. I think these will be my new go-to jeans as I leave the plus-size jeans behind.

And now I have ten pairs of the Lee One True Fit Premium Bootcut jeans to give away. These jeans are a little lower on the waist (not low-waisted, though) designed to fit most body types and come in petite, average and plus sizes, with lengths of short, medium and long. There are three colors to choose from: Union Blue, Blackdigo, and Galaxy Blue.

How do I enter?
To enter, leave a comment below telling me your fit problems when trying to find good jeans (too long? too tight in the waist? etc.) by Wednesday, December 3 at 11:59pm EST, and make sure I have a way to contact you if your e-mail isn't in your Blogger profile.

Want a second entry?
Blog about this contest or link to this contest via Twitter and you'll have a second entry. (Please leave a separate comment with the link to your blog entry or specific tweet.)

Ten winners will be chosen after 12/3 by random drawing ( Winners will be able to pick the size, length and color of their jeans.

Good luck!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Let's Get Ready To Boogie!

Ever since I got my Wii, I've been searching out fun games to try for it. Until now, I really only played my Wii Sports and Wii Fit, deciding this game system was really all about me getting into shape. But when Parent Bloggers asked me if I wanted to try out Boogie Superstar, I about fell over myself to reply as fast as possible and beg to be one of the reviewers.

Boogie Superstar is a dance and karaoke game, with a design similar to an American Idol competition. The only device you need to play, besides the Wii controller, is a microphone, which is supplied with the game. I was a little diappointed to see that the microphone wasn't wireless, like every other Wii add-on, but at least it does have a very long cord so you can move around while singing.

After watching the intro, you choose a character and then have the option to fine-tune the character to make it look just the way you want. You can change the hairstyle, haircolor, clothing, shoes, etc. Many of the clothing items are locked at first - you have to play the game and earn points to buy them.

When I got the game, I was far more excited about the karaoke part of it, and for the first few tries I selected only singing competitions. At first I was a little surprised to see so many of the songs were locked - again, you have to play the game and earn points to unlock them. As I scrolled through the list, I saw several songs I wanted to sing that were currently locked.

However, while I worried I wouldn't know any of the songs, I did find four that I knew relatively well on the starting list. (Bleeding Love, Hot & Cold, Pocketful of Sunshine, and Makes Me Wonder.) Seeing Hot & Cold on the list was a big surprise - that song has only been on the charts for a month or so! With only a small bit of instruction, I was soon singing loudly to some of my favorite tunes. Was I on-key? Not always, thanks to a cold, but the game is very generous with it's range of what is on-key. My first competition (a series of three dance, song, or combo sets) earned me a win over my computer competitors - not a surprise, since I think I'm a decent singer.

I finally decided I had to try out the dance portion, in order to give it a full review, and so I went into the practice room to practice my dance moves before attempting a competition. I learned that I suck as a dancer. Clearly this game was meant for younger people in better shape. Unlike other Wii games where you don't have to move at lightening speed, you have to keep up a dance club groove at a zippy pace. The first time I tried a competition with dance sets only, I was beat by one of the computer characters.

But playing against friends, though, yielded a different result - play against people your own age, and suddenly age is no longer a factor in the game. And if you're really concerned, make it an adult game night and set out a bottle of wine.

And for the record - Boogie Superstar is a great upper-body workout. After playing several rounds, my arms and upper back were sore the next day.

Despite my lack of dance ability, this is a fun game. It especially works well as a party game, both for kids and for adults. While I tested it out solo at first, I felt kinda lame singing and dancing by myself. I know there are some concerns with songs having bad words in them (Makes Me Wonder has the word damn) or inappropriate lyrics for kids (Britney Spears & Toxic, perhaps?), but at the same time, these are the same songs that your kids are listening to on the radio all the time. The age range for this game is 10+, so unless your children aren't allowed to listen to the radio, I think the songs are acceptable.

If you've got a family who likes to act silly together, Boogie Superstar would make a great game for keeping the family entertained at holiday gatherings. Now if only they'd make a Boogie 80's version of the game. I could totally rock at singing Whip It.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fuzzy Warmth From Lands' End

I've always loved Lands' End for what I call my comfort clothing. You've heard of comfort food, right? Well, comfort clothing is that soft, sometimes fuzzy, clothing you wear when you want to lounge around. It's clothing you wear for yourself at home, where there's no need to hold the tummy in or wear heels.

Lands' End recently sent me a few items to review, and I can report they have successfully been admitted into our collection of comfort clothing.

Terry travel slippers with bag:
While I generally want my feet to be free (foot claustrophobia), when it's this cold out, our living room floor can be pretty chilly. These soft slippers help keep my toes from freezing off, and with their rubber sole, in a pinch I can run outside to get the mail without finding my shoes.

The travel bag is great for packing the slippers in your suitcase when going out of town. I know they'll be coming with me whenever I stay at a hotel again - I hate walking barefoot on hotel floors. They come in four colors - I chose the grey with the red bow (go Bucks!).

Men's low shearling moc slippers:
Aaron took one look at these and said, "oooh, fuzzy!" He was right - the shearling lining is incredibly soft and warm. Of course, I then had to hand them back, since they were intended for him. He's been wearing them every day since, and loves how warm they keep his feet.

These slippers also have a rubber sole that lets you walk outside in them if needed, yet the sole is still very flexible and padded.

Kids' Angel Fleece Pajama Set:
Mira is wearing 24 mo. clothing, so she can still wear those cute one-piece fleece blanket sleepers. But Cordy doesn't have nearly as many options for cute and very warm PJs. Her room is one of the coldest in the house, and she sleeps with three blankets to stay warm.

These fleece PJs, though, are perfect. Warm, pretty, and the fleece doesn't pill up after a few washings like many do. These PJs are available for girls or boys, in sizes toddler through big kid.

Win one!
Thanks to Lands' End, you can win comfort clothing of your very own. I'm giving away one item above - your choice! To enter, leave a comment below telling me which item you'd pick by Friday, November 28 at 11:59pm EST, and make sure I have a way to contact you if your e-mail isn't in your Blogger profile.

Want a second entry? Blog about this contest or link to this contest via Twitter and you'll have a second entry. (Please leave a separate comment with the link to your blog entry or specific tweet.)

One winner will be chosen after 11/29 by random drawing ( Winner will have the choice of the travel slippers, the men's mocs, or the kids' fleece PJs in the size and color of their choice.

Good luck!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

SeatSnug Makes Booster Car Seats Safer

When Cordy reached three years old, we realized she had outgrown most car seats. At 40" and 40 lbs, she was big enough for a booster seat. I really wasn't convinced she was ready for it, though. While she fit the size requirements, I worried that her tantrums and outbursts would pose a problem when she wasn't strapped into a 5-point harness.

While we bought a larger 5-pt. harness system for our SUV, our smaller sedan simply couldn't fit one of those monstrous seats. We bought a Graco TurboBooster instead, choosing to let Cordy slowly get used to it. But my worry has remained that she could too easily slip out of the seatbelt if something set her off into a meltdown, putting herself in a dangerous situation in a moving car. Thankfully, meltdowns are ver rare these days, and she has started to use her booster seat with few problems.

Mom Central recently offered me the chance to try out SeatSnug, a device that is placed on a seatbelt and keeps the lap portion from loosening during a drive. This not only prevents children from pulling on the seatbelt and loosening it, but it also stabilizes the booster seat, preventing it from shifting, rocking, or tipping from normal driving motions.

I'll start by saying this isn't the easiest device to install. The written directions weren't very clear, but the installation video on the SeatSnug website helped a lot. (Note: they're in the process of revising the written directions to make it clearer, but the video is extremely helpful.) So don't let your husband decide he doesn't need to see the video to install it, OK? Once the SeatSnug is on the seatbelt, it's practically impossible to get it off, so it's best to get it right the first time.

So how well does it work? This device lives up to its claims. Once on and in the locked position, you can't loosen the lap portion of the seatbelt, but the shoulder portion of the belt can still be loosened for comfort and movement. I didn't set the lap portion very tight - just enough to keep her secure. If you need to adjust the lap portion of the seatbelt, there is an "off" button that lets you adjust the belt, or you can leave it in the off position if you remove the booster seat for an adult.

Aside from the installation, we haven't had any problems with the SeatSnug. It makes me feel more secure in my decision to put my daughter in a booster seat, and she has no complaints about the lap belt remaining secure while in the car. I recommend this product, and I think once Mira is old enough for a booster, we'll be buying another one for her.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Another Reason To Buy More Chocolate

I've always joked that I accept payment in chocolate, and in this case, it was true. I was sent a box of Ferrero chocolates along with information about their Share Something Sweet promotion. Of course the chocolates are long gone (yum!), but their charity promotion really caught my eye.

Ferrero has partnered with Share Our Strength, a national organization working to end childhood hunger in the United States. Each day, 12 million children in the U.S. are at risk of not getting enough food to eat. Share Our Strength has raised more than $200 million dollars since 1984, using that money to provide grants for programs to bring meals to low-income children and advocate for federal nutrition programs.

So far, Ferrero has donated $150,000 to Share Our Strength this year, and they're giving others the opportunity to donate simply by sending an e-card. Visit Ferrero's website and send a free e-card to friends, and for each e-card sent, Ferrero will donate another dollar to Share Our Strength.

I already love Ferrero Rocher and Rondnoir chocolates, and now I appreciate the company even more for donating to such a worthy cause. If you have a moment, send a Ferrero e-card to a friend and help support Share Our Strength. It doesn't cost you a thing, although looking at all that chocolate may tempt you to buy a box the next time you go shopping.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Build Yourself A Happy Holidays With Home Depot

Some guys are hard to shop for. While Aaron isn't exactly the handyman type, I know several guys who drool at the mention of power tools. For dads and husbands like that, a gift card from The Home Depot might be the perfect solution for Christmas or Hanukkah this year.

Aw, who am I kidding? I'd love a Home Depot gift card, too. I never thought I would get excited about a home improvement store, but being a homeowner has changed that. Looking at the landscaping options alone makes me giddy, and let's not even mention the brushed nickel bathroom hardware. Drool...

This year The Home Depot has 17 holiday gift card styles to choose from including a gingerbread man that can be decorated with stickers and a card that looks and feels like it is covered with the handyman's wrapping paper - duct tape. Aren't they cute?

Win one! I'm giving away a $100 Home Depot gift card to one lucky winner! Yes, you read that right - $100. Give it as a gift or keep it all for yourself - your choice!

To enter, leave me a comment by Thursday November 27 at noon EST telling me what one home improvement project you want to work on the most. (If you live in an apartment, what one project do you wish you could work on the most?) Be sure to leave an e-mail address if you don't have it configured in your Blogger profile or I won't be able to contact you if you win.

One winner will be chosen at random ( on the evening of Thursday 11/27 so you'll know if you can cross one thing off your shopping list for Black Friday.

Good luck!

Two Nintendo DS Games For The Kids (or Husbands Who Act Like Kids)

Please welcome my husband, Aaron, to Mommy's Must Haves. I've got a lot of great holiday gift ideas coming up in the next month, and he's helping to play-test and review some of the things that I don't have time for. In this case, he took these games from me before I had the chance to play them, so in return I let him write the reviews. Enjoy!


Ok, confession time, I may be a thirty-something dad, but I still like video games. If I’ve got a free moment on the computer, I’ll pull up City of Heroes or, if I don’t have time, Solitaire. And I rarely leave the house without either my Palm Pilot (loaded with Solitaire, Sudoku and Text Twist) or my Gameboy DS in my pocket. So, I was more then thrilled to get my hands on two fun new games for the DS - Kirby Super-Star Ultra and Pokemon Ranger: Shadows of Almia. And I have to say, both games are wonderful for audiences both young and old.

Kirby Super-Star Ultra
I’ve always been amused and intrigued by Kirby, the little pink fluffball, but I’ve never actually played any games starring him before – other than learning to love him in Super Smash Bros, Nintendo’s fighting game. So, it was with some anticipation that I put this cartridge in my DS. “Am I going to be at a disadvantage playing this game, since I don’t know his history?” The answer, I am pleased to say, was “Not at all.”

Kirby Super-Star Ultra is a relatively easy game to learn, with simple but fun controls. The DS’s touch-screen is barely used in most modes, with most of Kirby’s controls being managed via the standard control pad and A-B-X-Y buttons. Where the controls are used, they’re simple enough that you don’t even really need to use the stylus, and can just activate them with a quick flick of the finger. The game includes several adventures for Kirby to go on, each slightly different as they add both difficulty and complexity in terms of Kirby’s controls and abilities. It also includes a mode where you can play through all of Kirby’s adventures as the mysterious Meta-Knight (whose powers are different enough from Kirby to add a very interesting twist to the game), and then there are multiple mini-games that you can play.

One of the best things about Kirby Super-Star Ultra is that it is relatively easy to play through – even the final adventure shouldn’t be a challenge for most gamers, meaning that younger kids will hopefully be able to play through the game without being significantly frustrated. At the same time, there are a fair number of “hidden areas” and extras in the game, and tracking those down with give more experienced gamers plenty to do.

Pokemon Ranger: Shadows of Almia
I’ve been a Pokemon fan going way back. We had the Red, Blue and Yellow Pokemon cartridges for the original GameBoy, ran a Pokemon League for the Pokemon Trading Card Game back in the late 1990s and have played through most of the Pokemon games that have made their way through the various Nintendo handheld consoles since then. However, a notable exception to the games we’d played include the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon and Pokemon Ranger games, so I was incredibly excited to get Pokemon Ranger: Shadows of Almia.

That excitement quickly faded as I started playing. While I liked the idea that I would use the stylus to capture Pokemon, I was unthrilled to realize that most of what I was familiar with from Pokemon was now gone. There were no items to collect and use in battle. Nearly every encounter with a Pokemon was about capturing the creature, instead of doing battle to gain experience for my Pokemon. And the Pokemon I captured would stick around long enough to do one task, and then they shuffled off. This was not the Pokemon game I was familiar with.

And then, I started playing deeper into the game, and I realized something: it wasn’t trying to be. Pokemon Ranger: Shadows of Almia is a different beast entirely, with different goals and different play styles. But disliking it on that basis was like disliking hot butterscotch topping on a sundae because it wasn’t hot fudge. Different, but still yummy. The ability to use Pokemon to do “Field Clears” was oddly elegant, and the “Poke Assists” that the Pokemon could use in battle to help you catch their fellows add a lot to the game. The changes make Pokemon Ranger a more challenging game and make you more involved. It was true of the earlier Pokemon games that the human player was kind of secondary to the creatures in the other Pokemon games – in Pokemon Ranger, your avatar matters. You aren’t defined by the Pokemon you’ve captured, you’re defined by the quests you’ve completed, the power ups you’ve earned, and your ability to use the Capture Styler.

So, is Pokemon Ranger: Shadows of Almia for everyone? No. It is definitely a more challenging game than the earlier games in the Pokemon franchise. Knowledge of Pokemon types and what is strong and weak against what will not be enough to get you through this game. You’ll need to have the manual dexterity to use the stylus – and well. Younger players might find this game frustrating as a result, but for slightly older kids who have been fans of the Pokemon series in the past, Pokemon Ranger: Shadows of Almia might be just the game for them to find under the Christmas tree this year.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Saving Energy (and Money!) This Winter

When I woke up this morning, I wasn't prepared to be so cold. Like typical Ohio weather, last week was beautiful and the week ahead will be freezing cold. I swear Ohio is bipolar.

As I start bringing out the winter clothing, the heavy blankets and firing up the fireplace, I've been thinking a lot about home energy costs for winter. Thanks to the Hurricane Ike wind storm that tore through Ohio earlier this fall, our local electric company wants to raise our rates 45% over the next three years to recover some of the money they had to spend on fixing the power lines. Natural gas is also expected to be higher this winter, too. And while Aaron has a contract job at the moment, it could be over as early as December, meaning we need to save as much money as we can, and home energy is a good place to start.

Home Depot recently e-mailed me some tips on how to save energy at home, and in the process reduce your energy bills. They also asked if I would like to install some new energy-saving gadgets in my home on their dime, too. I had already been thinking about this topic, so of course I agreed.

Our house is only four years old, so I know it has Energy Star appliances, a programmable thermostat and good windows. But just like any house, there are always areas to improve on.

I went shopping at Home Depot with my good friend Lisa from Condo Blues - she's kind of an expert on home improvement stuff and has great ideas on making a home more energy efficient. Together we picked up a hot water heater blanket, some weatherstripping, foil tape, dimmer switches, insulation for the areas behind light switches and electrical outlets, lots of caulk, CFL lightbulbs, and a cover for my air-conditioner.

I knew that CFL bulbs helped save energy, and I've been slowly trying to make the conversion each time a light burns out. I was surprised to learn that they make ones that are "daylight" bright - Lisa pointed out that these are great for the bathroom or wherever you put on makeup!

The hot water heater blanket was something I've wanted for awhile. Our utility room is actually out in the (uninsulated) garage, so I'm sure a lot of energy is lost from the cold air on the tank. I also didn't realize that cold air can come in through your air-conditioner unit, even when off, so hopefully the insulated cover will help reduce that influx of cold air.

Lisa was the one to recommend the insulated "sealers" that go underneath the light-switch and electrical outlet plates. If you have a plate that is on an outside wall, it can let a lot of outside air in. (Try it - take off the cover plate and see how cold it is.)

The dimmer switch was for Cordy's room. She doesn't like having her overhead light off at night, and even if I turn it off after she goes to sleep, she'll wake up and turn it back on again. She already uses only a 40 watt bulb, but that's still a lot of light at night, so with the dimmer I can reduce the amount of light (and energy) while still giving her some light overhead at night.

I'll post an update in two months to see how much energy we're saving with these new items. I'm excited at the thought of cheaper utility bills without having to wear several layers in the house!

Here are a few more tips from Home Depot:

Top 10 ways to save energy – and money - in your home.

1. Install a programmable thermostat. You can save up to $180 a year by installing a programmable thermostat that controls the temperature of your home while you're at work or asleep.

2. Change to CFL light bulbs. Americans could save close to $8 billion in energy costs by replacing each home's five most frequently used light fixtures with CFL bulbs. CFL Bulbs use up to 90 percent less electricity than incandescent bulbs and are now available in dimmable and spot light bulbs.

3. Choose ENERGY STAR appliances. Save money and the environment by replacing standard model appliances with ones that are ENERGY STAR-qualified. ENERGY STAR-qualified appliances use 10-50 percent less energy and water than standard models.

4. Install a storm door. Storm doors can help conserve energy by keeping cold air out during the winter and heat out during the summer.

5. Update your windows. ENERGY STAR-qualified windows can reduce your energy costs by $126-$465 per year when replacing single-pane windows or $27-$111 a year when replacing double-pane, clear glass windows. For a quick fix, add heat control window film to your windows and save up to 50 percent on your cooling costs.

6. Install dimmer switches and motion detectors. Dim the lights by 25 percent and save an average of 15 percent a year on energy costs, and extend the bulb life by four times. By adding motion-sensitive exterior lighting and adding dimmer switches indoors where appropriate, you can control the wattage, saving you on your energy bills.

7. Install a ceiling fan – and learn to correctly rotate it. Ceiling fans aren't just for when it's hot outside. Ceiling fans can save you $10 a year on utility bills, plus the additional air conditioning or heating savings gained when a fan is operated properly. ENERGY STAR-qualified ceiling fans use 50 percent less energy than standard fans and circulate 25 percent more air.

8. Regularly maintain your furnace and water heater. Regular maintenance on your furnace and water heater will increase energy efficiency in your home. By combining proper equipment maintenance and upgrades with appropriate insulation, air sealing, and thermostat settings, you can cut your energy use for heating and cooling, and reduce environmental emissions, from 20 percent to 50 percent. Regular maintenance will help make these investments in your home last longer and be more energy efficient.

9. Seal your home from heat and cold. Allowing air to escape through gaps and cracks is like throwing your money away. By sealing your home with caulk, sealant and weather-stripping, you can save up to 20 percent on heating and cooling costs.

10. Install insulation. According to the Department of Energy, the leading cause of energy waste in the home is inadequate insulation and air leakage. Homeowners typically can reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 20 percent by sealing their homes and adding insulation in attics, floors over crawl spaces and accessible basement rim joists.

If you're looking for more information on energy savings projects and products, just visit .

PS - Stay tuned - I have an AWESOME contest coming very soon!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Public Service Announcement - MRSA

Many of you know that I'm a nursing student at the moment. As a result, I have weekly clinicals where I work in a hospital caring for patients. This quarter has been an especially tough one for me, because so far I've had four patients with MRSA - methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. You may not have heard of this bacteria, so let me explain.

Our bodies are covered with Staph bacteria. It's even in our noses, too. Sure, it sounds creepy, but most of the time Staph bacteria is harmless to us. Most of the time our bodies keep it in check, but when given a weakened environment and an entrance, it can overgrow and make us sick. When this happens, we often require antibiotics to clear up the infection.

However, due to the overuse and misuse of antibiotics, some bacteria are becoming resistant to many antibiotics, creating these superbugs that are hard to kill. MRSA is one of these antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and it is becoming the new epidemic in healthcare. There are two ways to acquire MRSA, either in the community or in a hospital setting. Hospital MRSA infections are, sadly, often caused by poor handwashing by healthcare workers. Community MRSA infections are most often spread through public places like gyms, schools, daycare centers, and even our households.

A MRSA infection on your skin looks like a pimple, abscess, boil, or spider bite that doesn't go away. They're usually red, warm, swollen and painful. If you think you or a family member has a MRSA infection, see your doctor right away. Special, more powerful antibiotics are required to treat this infection. The treatment is often longer than a standard treatment, and in those who already aren't healthy, the infection can be life-threatening. More than 19,000 Americans die of MRSA each year.

MRSA is spread by contact, so it is important to remember a few basic tips to keep yourself and your family safe. These tips are provided by Stop MRSA Now:

  • Scrub up - Wash hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 15 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand rub sanitizer.

  • Wipe it down - Use a disinfecting bleach solution to wipe down and disinfect hard surfaces. (1 tablespoon of disinfecting bleach diluted in 1 quart of water)

  • Cover your cuts - Keep any nicks or wounds covered with a clean, dry bandage until healed.

  • Keep to yourself - Do not share personal items, like towels or razors, that come into contact with bare skin.

  • Use a barrier - Keep a towel or clothing between skin and shared equipment.
At the hospital, any patient who is suspected of having MRSA is put on contact precautions, meaning that anyone going into their room is required to put on a full gown and gloves, along with washing hands when leaving the room. I follow all of these guidelines carefully, not only to prevent transmission between patients, but also to make sure that I don't put myself or my family at risk.

To learn more about MRSA and how to keep your family safe, visit the Stop MRSA Now website.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


It's been a busy few days, so I'm just getting around to picking winners for last week's contests. Without further ado:

Once Upon A Potty book winner: Mel

My Baby A-to-Z DVD winner: Amelia Sprout

$25 Kroger winner: Kristen at We Are That Family

$25 Kroger winner from A Mommy Story: Oona

Congrats to the winners and thanks to everyone for entering!

Monday, November 03, 2008

A Baby Book That Won't Make You Worry

When a woman announces she's pregnant for the first time, within weeks she's almost guaranteed to receive some kind of pregnancy and baby advice books from friends or relatives. Most of these books focus on what can go wrong, what you can do wrong, and ways you can screw up your baby for life. It's a little intimidating, to say the least.

Even though my second child is no longer a baby, I was still very excited when Parent Bloggers asked me to review the book Amazing Baby by Desmond Morris. I've never read anything by Morris, but I remember watching his series The Human Sexes on TLC and loving how he explained complex scientific concepts in simple details that helped make sense of how and why people behave the way they do. His social anthropology skills and ability to translate it to the common person are impressive.

Amazing Baby takes a look at the incredible biological process of infancy, from gestation to two years old. All topics of infancy are covered, including physical development, bonding and attachment, emotional development, learning, play, and eating.

There are no scary "what if's" in this book, save one simple one on the last page: a child who is given a loving, stimulating environment has a much better chance of growing up to be a happy, well-adjusted adult. And if you had read the book up to that point, you'd discover that it's really pretty hard to mess that up.

Babies are designed to adapt to life. For as fragile as they seem, their DNA has the foundations to accomplish most of what needs to be done to grow and adjust. They have survival skills that could rival many survivalists. For example, did you know that babies are born knowing how to swim? It's an instinct they lose as they get older, but if you placed a very young baby in water face-down, he would automatically know to hold his breath and would try to propel himself forward by coordinated movements of his arms and legs without panic, eyes open to take in his surroundings. (Obviously, I'm not recommending you try this at home. It's not like the baby can pull himself out of the water or anything, and while I believe in the concept, I'd worry too much to try it.) Babies also can recognize their mother's scent within hours after birth, and their mother's touch can soothe them in many situations.

The book is beautifully laid out, with full page photographs of babies filling every other page. Some pages have a thin overlay page over a picture, with the overlay showing drawings of the inside the baby's body, and the photo underneath providing the outline of the body to place it in context. I really loved these - there were ones showing the muscles of a baby, the parts of the brain and eye, the bones, and the lymphatic system. This book would serve as a beautiful coffee table book to look through even long after your baby's first two years.

Because I'm a nursing student, I've read much of the information in this book before. But even knowing much of it, I was still fascinated to read Morris' conclusions of how perfectly designed a human baby is. His descriptions are vivid and easy to understand, and all of the data he relays is interesting as well as informative. After skimming the entire book once, I've already found myself drifting back through parts of it again, just to read more in-depth while remembering my own daughters passing through those stages of development.

Amazing Baby is the perfect name for this book, and Desmond Morris does a fine job of proving just how amazing the human baby really is. This would be the perfect gift for a first time mother, because it doesn't focus on everything she has to do to make her baby "perfect" (which does nothing but cause more stress), but instead gives her a sneak peak of what to expect from her baby in a non-frightening method. Had I read this while pregnant with my first child, I would have been even more excited to meet her and less nervous about screwing her up from the start.

The book has a retail price of $40, but I checked Amazon and they're currently selling it for $26.40.