The Wednesday Fave Five

Today’s Fave Five will focus on finances because in light of this ridiculously bad economy, we could all use a little cheap advice on how to save money, where to find great deals and who is giving the best advice during these trying times.
1. As much as I love surfing the web, I also enjoy reading insightful articles from The Bottom Line, a custom published weekly newsletter offering tips on everything from investments to retirement, health and much more. If you’ve got 10 minutes, then that’ll give you just enough time to read Bottom Line from cover to cover.
2. If you’re looking to save big on the homefront, then visit Mom Advice, whose founder, Amy Clark is featured in this month’s Redbook Magazine. Check out her blog on the No Spend Challenge where Amy offers tips on how to make it through 30 days without splurging on useless items.
3. If you’re looking for deals on the best shopping finds on the web, then here’s a simple solution…visit The Find and their new blog, The Find Buzz which shares the inside scoop on the latest steals and deals.
4. I never really watch financial news, but lately, I’ve found my self gravitating toward CNN and MSNBC since they’ve been featuring stories and experts offering great advice and leads on how to find a job, reinvent yourself, pursue a new passion and much more. Favorite segment yesterday was on CEO’s who became pizza delivery men and taxi drivers. Maybe we should all just go back into farming and call it a day.
5. On April 2, Jean Chatzky, author of the new bestseller “The Difference” will be doing a free chat on Liveperson.com. If you’re in need of some great advice on how to manage your finances and prosper even in tough economic times, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to hear directly from Chatzky who will be available to answer your questions at Liveperson.
To hear some of Jean’s tips in the meantime, the click on the video below…

The Ultimate Holiday Mom Blogger Gift Guide

It may only be November but the great thing about being a mom blogger is that my kids, hubby and I have had the chance to try out lots of toys that will be hitting the toy stores this holiday season. Plus, I also reached out to some of my favorite mom writers who are sharing links to their fabulous gift guides to help you navigate your way to the must-have toys of the year. Before I share their holiday gift guides and reviews, here are a few of our favorite tech toys of the year for kids and adults. I’ll be posting reviews of tons of innovative new games, toys and books and if you comment, you can win a valuable prize.
FOR TWEENS, TEENS (& MOMS)…
boogie-superstar_multiplayer-dance_2.jpgBoogie Superstar – Call me a cheese ball but there is nothing that quite compares to challenging your entire family to a karaoke/dance competition complete with judges who comment on your performance. We just received Boogie Superstar for the Wii a few days ago and I have to say, we have played it dozens of times. In fact, I’ve already set a date for my girlfriends to come over so we can share wine and sing – just need to send the kids to somebody else’s house. If you’re a karaoke and dance show fanatic, you will love this new game.
IMG_0552.JPGDisney Sing It! Okay…hold the phone. I had the chance to attend a party thrown by Disney Interactive this past week and was able to sample their latest Karaoke game Sing It! If your child (and you – admitting it is the first step) are big fans of Hannah Montana, High School Musical, Camp Rock, The Cheetah Girls and more, you’ll now have your chance to sing along with the stars of the shows and films and sing duets, compete against teams or against each other and the best score wins. No dancing on this one, but check me out giving it a whirl the other night while Kim at Mom in the City enjoyed wine, appetizers and great conversation – too much fun! Incidentally, if you don’t like to sing, Disney also just released Ultimate Band for Wii too and according to Kim at Traveling Mom, it’s easy to use and she totally felt like a rock star after just one turn!
IPOD’s with Lyrics from Itunes Here’s a really cool option from those geniuses at Apple. If you own an iPod or plan to purchase one as a holiday gift, for a $20 upgrade on iTunes, all your songs will come with words, which means wherever you or your kids go (yes another item you’ll both be fighting over) – on the street, in the car, in the bathroom, in the gym, you could be singing right along to your favorite songs. Microphone not included, of course!
106177627.jpgHuru Humi – These new interactive mini dolls can have full on conversations with each other or your child can chat with them too. And let me just warn you by saying some of the girls are really nice and others may have a bit of an edge to them. The good thing about them though is that once you hear the Huru Humi girls chatting up a storm and sometimes insulting one another you can actually start a conversation with your own kids about not being mean to their friends. Plus, my husband now wants to take the pocket sized Huru Humis to work so he can get a chuckle out of his cubicle mates.
FOR KIDS 6+
wiis07_music.jpg
Wii Music – For the budding musician, the folks at Nintendo have come up with a fabulous instructional music experience with this latest Wii game. You can even use the Wii fit balance board to play the drums and easily turn your controller into a clarinet, piano, bass and more. Then, put all the instruments together and you can conduct an orchestra. Since my son just started taking guitar lessons (he was a Guitar Hero fan and decided to try his hand on a real live guitar), he is now totally hooked on Wii Music.
animal-crossing-screen.jpgNintendo’s Animal Crossing for Wii – This brand new game from the folks at Nintendo hasn’t hit stores yet, but once it does, kids and adults will be hooked. Animal Crossing is a virtual city where you can play games, send mail, chop trees, catch fish, get your hair done, attend a show, visit a fortune teller, have conversations with townspeople and much more. And along the way, you’ll earn bells that will enable you to go shopping in clothing and furniture stores and much more. Nintendo threw a launch party the other night to release the game which Barb at One2One Network, Amy at Selfish Mom, Kim at Traveling Mom and young adult novelist Marianne Mancusi, whose new book “Gamer Girl” was just released in bookstores, all attended along with at least one hundred gamers who were eagerly waiting to get their turn, so something is telling me, this one will be flying off the shelves.
ds-cover.jpgClub Penguin for Nintendo DS – If your child is hooked on Club Penguin (who hasn’t tricked out their igloo or visited the pizza shop?) then they are going to be over the moon when they find out that Nintendo has just released a game (actually the street date is November 22) where you will get the chance to play Club Penguin, win coins and then load those coins via wifi into your child’s virtual world. That means more cool gadgets and products for my son’s two penguins who I have to admit are pretty deprived since we don’t invest in the monthly member fee. The games on the DS are a lot of fine – I was having a blast catching fish until one of my favorite blogger moms Jessica from NYC Moms arrived with her family!
61lyXrGSnBL._SL500_.jpgWii Outdoor Challenge – While the Wii Fit was all the rage in our household a few months back, these days my kids are obsessed with the Wii Outdoor Challenge. If you’re looking to get fit with your kids by playing hilarious games from trampoline tricks, to rollerblading, jump rope, riding down a tunnel, log jumping and much more, then this is the game for you. And the best part is it won’t reprimand you or make you feel guilty if you’ve gained weight. Just pure fun and laughs for the whole family.
myBABY_minigameSCREEN.jpgFOR PRE-SCHOOLERS
My Baby Village
Beginning November 10, SouthPeak Games introduces the 21st century baby doll with the new My Baby Girl and My Baby Boy series for Nintendo DS. The new baby doll is designed to allow children to nurture, engage and raise their baby at their own pace with their own sensitivities, instincts and style. How they raise and relate to their baby will be their very own personal experience. From how to change a diaper to how to hold a bottle, children learn all the ways they can keep their baby healthy and grow. As the baby meets certain developmental milestones, new age appropriate activities get unlocked. If you’re ready to introduce your little one to the Nintendo DS, then this is the perfect first game for your inquisitive pre-schooler.
princess_1.jpgMY PRINCESS ACADEMY – If your little one loves to play dress up and computer games then you are in luck! My Princess Academy is about to have its grand entrance at the 2008 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day with an enchanted castle float featuring Interscope Records tween pop group, The Clique Girlz. The site, www.MyPrincessAcademy.com offers both a virtual and real world experience for girls. Created for girls ages three and up, My Princess Academy offers children a chance to play games and have fun on and off-line while learning how to become their best selves, defined not only by physical beauty but by inner beauty. The site is filled with interactive games and exciting princess-themed activities. The website is also home to the My Princess Academy Shop where girls can purchase dress-up clothing and accessories – from princess dresses and tiaras to diaries and castle canopies. With each purchase, girls advance to new levels of the Virtual Princess Academy Castle, all while earning Princess coins that can be redeemed to decorate their own virtual Princess Dorm Room.
SAFE TOY GUIDES…
Cool Mom Picks
A Child is Chosen
THE LATEST MOM BLOGGER HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDES
Princess Loves Pink Holiday Gift Guide
Parents with Style
Baby’s First Gift Guide
Gifts for Little Dreamers (toys for pretend play, ages 3 and up)

Gifts for a Happy Home (helping your family have a meaningful
Christmas)

Gifts for Learners
Cool Mom Picks – Holiday Gift Guide Released Today!
Holiday Gift Guide 2008
Mommy Daddy Blog just posted their holiday gift guide today!
Modern Mama – Just released her holiday gift guide this week! Take a look and see some of her fabulous picks for your family!
Tech Savvy Mama – Tech Savvy Mama Holiday Gift Guide is going up all week with a guide launching every day for a different age group. They currently have toddlers & preschool and elementary guides up. Teens & Tweens will be up tomorrow and their adult guide will be up on Friday. Plus, it will be chock full of giveaways and coupons too!
Mommy Goggles – straight from Iowa, here’s a comprehensive guide to great gifts for your family.
This Full House – Holiday Survival Guide 2008 – compliments of one of my favorite mom bloggers, Liz Thompson.
Twitter Moms Holiday Gift Catalogue
My Kids Registry
Posh Point of View
Jersey Bites
A Parent in Silver Spring
Mom Dot Christmas Guide with the chance to win over $1000 in prizes!!!
Cool Mom Guide
Mommy Mandy’s Gift Guide
All American Mommy
Holiday Gift Guide for Foodies
Gifts for Mom Too…The Gift Closet
Two Blue Peas – Gift Guide and Great Discounts!
Holiday Guides Coming Soon…
Steals and Deals – Will be hosting a 12 days of Christmas celebration December 1-12th. They will have a new product review each day with a giveaway included. Then draw all the winners on the 15th.
 
The Dirty Shirt – This site offers a review and giveaway of a product for Christmas now through the month of December.
MOM BLOGGER FAVORITE TOY PICKS

Classy Mommy
Here are a few all time favorites for gifts – think something unusual, unique and NOT plastic! I’ve also got a few all time TOY favorites as well for affordability, durability and the fact that these toys are the kind that GROW with your kids from 6-9 months – 5 or 6 Years of age!
Personalized Apron $23
Personalized Storybooks
Bee Bop Band Music Toy Set by Parents $22.99 (Target best price i found!)
iPlay Lift Off Rocket $26.99 (best price amazon)
Mom in the City: LeapFrog Fridge Farm Magnetic Animal Set: Appropriate for ages 12 months to 3 years, this award-winning toy has been popular with both of my sons.  (I also see it in the homes of several of their friends.)  This is a great, fun way for kids to both practice matching skills and be creative with mix-matches.  The matches include animal names, sounds, facts and songs.  This is an all-around great toy. 
APPROX. RETAIL: $ 14.99

Fisher-Price Little Superstar™ Classical Stacker™: Recommended for ages 6 months and up, this has been a popular toy with both of my sons and many of their playmates (including their group classes).  There are four sparkly stars that light up while the music plays.  It helps the kids gain a variety of skills and it gives us parents a visual of their growth.  (It’s cute to see how they go from banging the stars together and putting them in their mouths to actually figuring out how to stack them, spin them, etc.)
APPROX. RETAIL: $ $10.00
Mom Advice: I have to say that my kids are really loving the LeapFrog Tag System and it has been a hit with both my beginning reader and my 2 year old. It doesn’t require as many motor skills as the game systems do and it is a great way to get your kids to understand word recognition. It was originally intended for our son, but I am buying books for my daughter’s third birthday because she loves it so much.
If you are a mom blogger and have a favorite holiday toy you’ve reviewed this holiday season or if you’re going to feature a gift guide, we want to hear from you! Please comment below with a link to your review so and you can win valuable prizes!

Glamour Reel Moments – Part III

Brunch_Speaker Panel 3.jpegOur adventure continued with a mouthwatering brunch at the Sofitel – complete with healthy omelets, french toast, fruit, sausages, muffins and much more. As I sat chatting away with my new friends, Amy at Mom Advice, Dawn at Because I Said So, Michelle at Scribbit and Liz with This Full House, Jean Lee, Suave‘s associate brand marketer introduced us to Bill Wackerman, the Publisher of Glamour who along with Leslie Russo, Glamour’s Associate Publisher, came up with the concept for Glamour Reel Moments.
Now if you’re wondering, what is Glamour Reel Moments, well it’s pretty simple. Every year, Glamour asks its readers to submit real life stories to the magazine and after receiving several thousand entries, three are selected and are then transformed into short feature films that are directed by some of the most talented women in Hollywood.
The program started nearly 3 years ago in an effort to encourage more women to try their hand at directing. Only 7% currently direct films and so it is the goal of Glamour Reel Moments to celebrate their readers by sharing their voices through the eyes and lens of a woman. To date, Glamour Reel Moments is responsible for 14 directorial debuts.
images.jpegThis year’s effort featured films directed by Demi Moore, Courtney Cox and Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith – a gifted comedy writer who penned “Legally Blonde,” “House Bunny” and many others. Kiwi appeared at the brunch along with producer Francesca Silvestri and moderator Andrea Buchanan and shared how she first broke into the business – she actually wanted to be a poet but realized poetry doesn’t pay the bills and so, she began writing screenplays. She also explained that when she heard about the Glamour Reel Moments opportunity, she instantly wanted to throw her hat into the ring and be considered as a director. Her good friends in Hollywood agreed and the next thing she knew, she was enlisting Anna Faris to star in a short comedy called “The Spleenectomy.”
Also featured was producer Francesca Silvestri, whose production company, Freestyle Productions works with the female director to select the winning stories. The event was moderated by Andrea Buchanan, a Glamour Reel Moments directing alum who happens to be releasing a new book in the coming months featuring essays from women who share their most embarrassing, humiliating and inspiring moments ever – sounds like a must read! If you’d like to read the entire interview from the event, then check out Michelle’s blog at Scribbit, she used her Flip to record the entire thing…(so clever!)
An important message that hit home for me from the talk was that despite the odds, one should never give up on what they believe in. Russo says when she first came up with the concept, she was told no one in Hollywood would be interested in taking on the project without being compensated for their efforts. With the support of A-list actresses and writers and of course, Glamour’s partner on the project, Suave, Leslie proved them all wrong and together with Freestyle Productions, they are now paving the way for female directors.
IMG_0306.JPGFollowing the brunch, we were given several hours to explore or shop and while I initially thought I’d hit the Beverly Center, I decided instead to join Dawn, Michelle, Liz and Amy on an action-packed sight seeing adventure which took us to Grauman’s Chinese Theater and the Walk of Fame, the Hollywood Sign and the Santa Monica beach and pier. Check out my video below and then stay tuned for my next post…The Premiere!