Switch your homepage to Yahoo! and help change girls' lives

The following is a post sponsored by Yahoo! Every time someone clicks here to make Yahoo! their homepage, they're showing their support for Girls For A Change.

I was selected for this opportunity by Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

You know what they say: if only women ran the world, there would be far less wars, and countries would find a way around their differences and Get Stuff Done. Sadly, there are far too few women in key leadership positions in politics and in the community. We need more females who can lead and implement real change in society, and since there aren't too many role models around, we need to create opportunities for our girls to do it themselves.

Girls For Change
is an organization that does exactly that: they empower girls to create social change by helping them create social change in their own communities. Girls team up in groups of 5-10, and under the guidance of two women coaches, they identify an issue that girls face in their own neighborhood -- then design, lead, fund and implement projects that address those issues.

Here are just some of the projects that Girls For Change teams have tackled:

Team #7, Clyde Fischer Middle School, San Jose - This Stuff is Bananas!
The girls at Fischer want their peers to understand that proper nutrition is a main cause for a healthy life. They handed out flyers and healthy snacks at lunch directing students and parents toward a YouTube video they produced about the importance of eating healthy and smart food choices.

Team #9, Monroe Middle School, San Jose - Communicating Job Placement Resources and Where to Find Work
The girls from Team #9 want break-ins to stop! They feel that a lack of finances to job loss is the main factor contributing to theft. They created a flyer campaign to distribute in the community featuring job-finding resources. They hope that employment will help provide the finances people need to live instead of stealing from others

Leadership Public Schools College Park, Oakland: Stop the Jokes!
The girls at LPS College Park are tired of hearing jokes about race and stereotypes at their school. After having a round table discussion about why people stereotype and how it has personally affected their lives, the girls decided to get the word out by making posters to combat common racial stereotypes. By starting this conversation they hope people can find common ground rather than continue to make hurtful jokes.

Amazing, huh? And you can help this organization empower even more girls with just one simple act -- change your browser's home page to Yahoo!. Yahoo! will donate $10 to Girls For A Change (GFC) for each person who switches her homepage browser to Yahoo! -- up to an amazing $10,000! To make Yahoo! your homepage browser and help raise $10,000 for Girls For A Change, click here and follow the instructions. This has to be done by July 1, so act quickly! Can we get 1,000 people to make one small change? Heck yeah, we can!

Disclosure: This is a compensated post. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.
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What's in your sausage? Introducing all-natural foods by Safeway Open Nature (and a giveaway for you!)

You know the old saying, you should never visit a sausage factory, because if you see how they're made -- with all the entrails and parts of the animal nobody eats, and don't even ask which animal we're talking about -- you'll never eat sausage again? (okay, it's not really an old saying but everybody says it)

Turns out, you don't need to visit the factory, all you have to do to lose your appetite is read the list of ingredients. Sausages aren't just made with meat, salt and herbs they way they were made in the old days. I did a quick internet search and listed all the "extra" ingredients that I found in four or five varieties of sausage:

corn syrup
isolated soy product
isolated soy protein
sodium nitrite
sodium lactate
sodium phosphate
sodium diacetate
monosodium glutamate
collagen casing

At least entrails would have been part of the animal. You're no longer eating a sausage, you're eating a chemical lab!

Fortunately more and more companies are making all-natural products these days -- but price and availability is always an issue. But now that Safeway has introduced OpenNature, a line-up of 100% natural products, getting real food at a good price has never been easier.

I first heard of OpenNature at last weekend's World's Longest Table picnic, where chef Tyler Florence cooked a delicious meal with OpenNature products. Safeway sent me a gift card so I could try OpenNature products for myself, so I stocked up on some OpenNature sausages, Greek yogurt, granola and baby back ribs. The potato salad I made with the Greek yogurt was delicious, and so was the white bean and cauliflower stew that I made with the sausage for dinner tonight (Check out the recipe and photos on Finding Bonggamom). Their OpenNature Sweet Apple & Maple chicken sausage is proof that you don't need preservatives or artificial ingredients to make a great-tasting sausage. Here's the full list of ingredients:

chicken raised without antibiotics
organic maple syrup
sea salt
organic evaporated cane juice
organic cinnamon
organic spices (nutmeg and allspice)
natural pork casing

Ahhhh, much better, right? Now that sounds like something Laura Ingalls' Ma could have made in their Little House on the Prairie. Something that even I could make in my kitchen, if I had the time or talent -- but why bother, when Safeway Open Nature does it so deliciously?

Win a $50 Safeway gift card

Safeway wants you to try their new OpenNature products, so one lucky Bonggamom Finds reader is going to win a $50 Safeway gift card!

Required entry:
Leave a comment on this post and tell me which OpenNature product you would most like to try. This entry must be completed before extra entries qualify.

Extra Entries
For extra entries, you can do any or all of the following. Please leave a separate comment for each extra entry with a way to verify the entry (i.e. tweet link, blog post link, Facebook id, Twitter id, etc.).

1) Retweet my Safeway OpenNature tweet (1 entry per day, leave a comment with the tweet link for each tweet).

2) Retweet my Safeway giveaway tweet (1 entry per day, leave a comment with the tweet link for each tweet).

3) Write this on the Safeway Facebook page (1 entry):

I entered to win a $50 gift card on Bonggamom Finds! http://ow.ly/5rFOV

4) Write this on the Bonggamom Finds Facebook page (1 entry):

I entered the Safeway OpenNature giveaway! http://ow.ly/5rFOV

5) Leave a comment on my OpenNature potato salad post or my World's Longest Picnic table post and share your thoughts on what "100% natural foods" means to you (1 entry).

This giveaway ends at midnight PST on July 15, 2011; I will draw a winner at random on July 16 and post the winner's name on the comments section soon after. Continental US residents only. For additional giveaway rules, click here. Good luck!

Disclosure: Thanks to Safeway for providing the gift card for this giveaway and additional gift cards for me to try their Open Nature products for myself. Product information is provided by the featured company/product and is indicated in italics. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.
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Personalized Thank You Notes from InvitationBox.com

When I was in elementary school, we actually had a subject called Social Graces, where we learned things like how to arrange place settings and how to write thank you cards. It seems archaic now, but good manners is as important as ever, and I'm very keen on instilling good manners in my children.

For example, after every birthday party I ask them to write thank-you notes. Even in this age of text messaging and emails I think it's important to keep the tradition of the hand-written thank you note because it tells the gift-giver that you, the recipient are taking a little bit of time and effort to acknowledge their thoughtfulness.

As you can imagine with kids, getting them to write these notes can be a tiresome task -- but it's a non-negotiable. I've found that providing them with cute thank-you cards can motivate them to write the cards, because they want to use the cute notecards. If the cards are personalized with their names, even better! The trick is finding a card they like.

Fortunately, there are sites like InvitationBox.com, which provides cute, trendy thank you cards, invitations and other personalized stationery online. They have lots of cute designs for both kids and adults. In fact, InvitationBox.com has so many cute designs, it's impossible to feature them all. Here are some of my favorites for kids' thank you notes:

I love this madras print!

It also comes in pink.

They have lots of kid-friendly animal designs that reflect your child's favorite things, like animals, pirates, cupcakes, soccer balls, construction vehicles and more. Your child will enjoy choosing his own design!

InvitationBox.com sent me some personalized notecards so I could see their designs and quality up close. Here is one of the designs they sent me:

I love the warm colors and cheerful flowers on this Tropical design! You can personalize the cards with your name, and do it all online so it's really convenient. The cardstock used does seem a bit thin, and I'm not a big fan of the glossy finish -- but the great news is, prices start at about 50 cents per card, and the minimum order is just 10 notecards, so you can get beautiful personalized notecards for your kids (and yourself) without putting a big dent in your budget. They're definitely a cut above your regular drugstore or cardstore box of generic thank-you notes, and I can't wait to use them!

InvitationBox.com summer sale
InvitationBox.com has a great clearance section with lots of items on sale. They are also offering great Summer discounts with the following codes:

Use coupon code Hot75 to get 5% off any order.
Use coupon code Hot85 to get 10% off orders of $100 or more.
Use coupon code Hot95 to get 15% off orders of $250 or more.

These coupons expire on 6/30/2011 so make sure you use them soon. And even if you do miss the Summer Sale, you can still save with free shipping on order of $100 or more.

Disclosure: I received an assortment of personalized notecards to facilitate my review, but have not been paid to review the product or give my opinions. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.
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Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Fully Charged

The circus is coming, the circus is coming! Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey are coming back to the Bay Area, and this year they're staying for 3 whole weeks. Their new show, Fully Charged, promises to have lots of high-voltage thrills and entertainment for the whole family. No matter how old they get, my kids never seem to cease enjoying the circus, and they can't wait to see Fully Charged when it arrives in San Jose in August. There will be strong men, clowns, acrobats, human arrows, tigers, elephants and horses -- and don't miss these pre-show activities (which are free with your ticket):

Pre-Show Party
Everyone knows they need to arrive early to a show, but at Fully Charged you won't be sitting in your seat for 30 minutes, bored out of your mind. The fun begins 1 hour before show time with a Pre-Show Party, where you can meet the performers and animals up close. Don't miss the chance to see an elephant paint a picture -- you could even win the picture he paints!

Animal Open House
If you're watching Fully Charged in Fresno, San Diego, Sacramento, Denver or Salt Lake City, there's even more fun awaiting your family. Arrive 90 minutes before show time for the Ringling Bros. Animal Open House, where families can see the circus elephants up close, speak to animal care team members and learn about Ringling Bros. commitment to animal conservation.

You can get your tickets to Fully Charged at ticketmaster.com (you can view the full performance schedule on the RIngling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey website to see if there's a show near you). The cheapest tickets are between $13 and $18 (depending on the city), but you can get them for even less with the discount code below!

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® presents Fully Charged
HP Pavilion at San Jose – August 17-21
Cow Palace in Daly City – September 1-5
Oracle Arena in Oakland – September 8-11

WEEKDAY SHOWS – Purchase a 4-pack of tickets for only $44
(Not valid for FR/ VIP seating. Only valid on shows Wednesday thru Friday morning)
Redemption Code: MOM

WEEKEND SHOWS – $5 off tickets to all performances
(Not valid for FR/ VIP seating)
Redemption Code: MOM5

Disclosure: I have been given 4 tickets to see the show with my kids. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.
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Nautical Items from Company Kids

Ahoy, mateys! If you're looking to refresh your kids' bedroom decor, Company Kids has some really cute nautical, pirate and mermaid themes. I love Company Kids for their adorable designs and high quality; in fact, I bought these Bradford quilted covers and shams for my boys a couple of years ago:

Cute, huh? And these nautical-themed Company Kids window accessories would look adorable right along in their room:

Stripe Rod Pocket Curtain Panel:

Stylish drapes for bedrooms of all stripes! Our versatile window panels coordinate perfectly with all of our bedding collections, providing the perfect finishing touch for your child’s room. These cotton drapes are striped in red, white and blue, specially lined to help keep sunlight at bay

Sailboat Rods & Holdbacks.

Smooth sailing style. Company Kids' curtain rods and holdbacks are topped with seaworthy sailboats that float against the sunlight for window treatments that sparkle with nautical flair. Add these curtain rods and holdbacks to your child’s room and create a window that’s ready to set sail from daytime to bedtime

Your kids can also have more high-seas or underwater fun with Pirate or Mermaid hooded towels, pirate costumes, mermaid wall art or mermaid bedding.

Disclosure: I am receiving a Company Kids item as a thank-you for posting this information. Product information is provided by Company Kids and is indicated in italics. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.
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Bonggamom's Friday Finds -- List Your Giveaways Here

Bonggamoms Friday Finds

Welcome to Bonggamom's Friday Finds! I'm glad so many of you are finding this to be a useful way to get more traffic to your giveaways. And as a person who loves entering giveaways, I have to admit it's a great, easy way to find out where all the best giveaways are.

So feel free to leave links to your giveaways, everyone. And don't forget to get cracking and enter everyone else's, too!

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Discovery Girls Magazine celebrates 10 years

I can't believe The Pea is already 10 years old! Time has gone by so quickly, and I'm sure it will feel like the blink of an eye before she turns 14, 16, then 18. A few years ago Alfie and I watched the movie 13, and we were haunted by how easy it is for young, impressionable girls to get on the wrong track without strong mentors and role models in their lives, someone they can talk to and look up to.

I know parents always hope that their kids will be able to talk to them, but sometimes girls also need a trusted friend or aunt, in addition to their parents. Strangely enough, my most recent ally in opening up the lines of communication between me and The Pea isn't even human -- it's Discovery Girls magazine, a magazine created for tween girls with features written by real girls about topics that matter most to them. It's now celebrating it's 10th birthday (just like The Pea!). Discovery Girls sent us a couple of their magazines and their Fab Girl Guide book set to review, and so far they have been a real positive influence in her life.

About the magazine
Discovery Girls is a national magazine aimed at girls between the ages of 8 and 13. Our mission is to inspire and encourage girls to be more confident and resilient and help them deal with those difficult situations that all girls run into growing up. We give them advice and wholesome content addressing everything from peer pressure, to hairstyles, to future careers.

Most importantly, much of our content comes form the girls themselves. Their embarrassing moments, their questions answered and statistics gathered from their answers to our questions, polls and surveys. All this content helps connect them to each other and realize they're all going through the same thing in their own unique way.

We also feature real girls on the cover and in every issue. We choose 12 girls from a specific state to inspire our readers, and we never put celebrities on our covers!

The Pea LOVES this magazine -- what 10 year old girl wouldn't? It's filled with lots of fashion tips and ideas, photos of cute clothes, fun articles about stuff girls like, quizzes and more. But I really love this magazine as well, and here are the two main reasons why:

* The girls on the magazines we received are pretty, sure, but they don't look like polished models or twenty-five year-olds, and they're not overloaded with makeup, so I feel good that the magazine is not promoting unrealistic standards for my daughter. As for The Pea, she's thrilled and impressed that "real" girls can appear on the cover of the magazine.

* The more serious topics in the magazine and the Fab Girls Guide books -- mean girls, friendships, body image, growing up -- have really been able to spark some great conversations between us. I'm not the type of person to broach subjects like this out of the blue, but the questions she asks me after reading an article have served as a springboard for both of us to open up. I feel so much more confident that she is going to enter her teenage years feeling like she can talk to me about anything -- and I am SO grateful to Discovery Girls for that.

While I'm all for the "girly-girl" topics like fashion and hair, even the serious "girly-girl" topics like fights between BFF's and body odor, I'm also hoping to see other topics in the magazines like sports, starting a business, outdoor adventures, organizations they can join (like Girl Scouts or Boys & Girls Club) or ways girls can volunteer their time to help the community. But other than that, I really like Discovery Girls magazine because I can see that it's helping my daughter become more confident and open as she begins the challenging process of growing up.

Discovery Girls Ultimate Survival Guide is out on July 8

Discovery Girls is celebrating their 10th birthday with a supersized special magazine issue! This year's Collectors Edition is called the Ultimate Survival Guide and it's twice the size of a regular issue. The magazine, coming out on July 8, will feature the best articles and advice from their first ten years, and it's going to be something your daughter will read again and again. I know, because they sent me a copy of the Collectors Edition, and The Pea can't put it down! Her favorite feature is a hair styling guide that has suggestions for cute hairstyles for every day of the week, for all different types of hair. I've been trying to get her to comb her hair for the past 10 years, so it's quite humbling to see that Discovery Girls got her to do it in no time flat.

About the Ultimate Survival Guide:
You won’t want to miss out on our SUPERSIZED Collector’s Edition, featuring the very best of Discovery Girls’ first 10 years. Reserve your copy by July 31st and get FREE SHIPPING AND 2 FREE GIFTS! This ultimate survival guide is packed with:

The very best stories from real girls
Style smarts you can use every day
Our most popular advice from the last 10 years
Bloopers, embarrassing moments and more fun!

Win a copy of the Discovery Girls Ultimate Survival Guide
To celebrate their 10th year, Discovery Girls is giving away one copy of their super-sized, Collectors Edition magazine every day for the month of June! Then, on July 8 (the day the Collector's Edition hits newsstands), they'll be giving away a special DG Collector's Swag Bag, which includes:

The Discovery Girls Collector's Edition (Of course!)
Their past two Collector's Editions
A special Discovery Girls t-shirt
And so much more!

Enter at Discovery Girls.

Win a Discovery Girls gift pack
The celebration continues on Bonggamom Finds! Discovery Girls is providing one lucky Bonggamom Finds reader with a Discovery Girls gift pack worth $70! The winner will receive the following:

1 complimentary year subscription to Discovery Girls magazine (a $20 value!)
1 set of Discovery Girls Fab Girls book set ($40)
1 issue of the special Discovery Girls Collector's Edition magazine ($10)

Required Entry
Leave a comment on this post and tell me the best birthday present you received when you turned 10 (or the present your daughter loved the most when she turned 10). This entry must be completed before extra entries qualify.

Extra Entries
For extra entries, you can do any or all of the following. Please leave a separate comment for each extra entry with a way to verify the entry (i.e. tweet link, blog post link, Facebook id, Twitter id, etc.).

1) Take the latest poll on the Discovery Girls website -- currently they're asking "What are you most looking forward to this summer?" -- then leave a comment on this post, telling me what percentage of poll respondents share your answer, i.e. Sleeping in and spending the day in my pajamas, 12% (1 entry).

2) Write this on the Bonggamom Finds Facebook page (1 entry):
I entered the Discovery Girls giveaway! http://tinyurl.com/bonggaprizes

3) Follow Bonggamom Finds on Networked Blogs (1 entry).

4) Follow Bonggamom Finds on Blogger(1 entry).

5) Follow Bonggamom Finds on Twitter and tweet this, up to once per day (1 entry per day, leave a comment with the tweet link for each tweet):

Win a Discovery Girls magazine gift set from @bonggafinds http://tinyurl.com/bonggaprizes #giveaways

The Rules
This giveaway ends at 11:59PM PST on July 14, 2010; I will draw a winner at random on July 15 and post the winner's name after the winner confirms acceptance. US addresses only. For additional giveaway rules, click here. Good luck!

Disclosure: I received a product sample to facilitate my review, but have not been paid to review the product or give my opinions. Product information is provided by Discovery Girls Magazine and is indicated in italics. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.
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Nerf N-Strike Barricade RV-10

It's our second week of summer vacation, and the temperatures have really hit the roof! We've had high 80's and low 90's most of the time, with a couple of almost-100's thrown in for good measure. My boys are playing with their Nerf Super Soakers almost daily! I love that these toys get them running around and playing outdoors. The water cools them down and doesn't leave a mess to clean up. Plus, they're good for watering the plants! It's all good, clean (literally) fun.

In keeping with safe sun practices, though, I always try to get them indoors when the sun is at its hottest, between noon and 3PM. Fortunately they don't have to abandon their Nerf play, because we have lots of Nerf guns with soft darts that don't make dents in the furniture or floor (not to mention in each other!). Our latest Nerf find is the N-Strike Barricade RV-10, with a motorized, revolving barrel.

The BasicsPut a new “spin” on your battles with this motorized, semi-auto BARRICADE RV-10 blaster! The 10-dart revolving barrel keeps the “firepower” coming and the compact design of this sidearm blaster means it’s easy to take along on any “mission”. The tactical rail and stock attachment give you the versatility to add additional accessories (sold separately) to hit your mark with precision. Quick and reliable, your revolving barrel blaster is the one to turn to when you’re outnumbered and need to blast your way to victory.

The Bongga
My boys love this Nerf! They love shooting a quick, successive barrage of darts without having to reload the Nerf shooter each time. They think the Nerf N-Strike Barricade RV-10 is the highlight of their Nerf collection!

Their favorite way of playing with it is for target practice. They set up a target a few feet away, and see who can topple it with the fewest number of darts:

I have to admit, it's a lot of fun. Even if I suck at it.

The Blah
I do wish Nerf only made one kind of dart! I'm constantly having to buy different kinds of refills -- whistler darts, cartridge darts, foam balls -- and it's difficult to remember which dart goes with which shooter.

But that's a general Nerf complaint. As far as this particular Nerf model goes, I'm not sure why any kids' shooter has to be motorized -- it's not like loading regular Nerf shooters is difficult or tiring. I'm uncomfortably reminded of the semi-automatic gun debate, i.e. why semi-automatic guns need to be legal. But 3Po and Jammy insist that the motorized barrel is better. Even Alfie, who is the most anti-violence, anti-gun, safety-conscious parent ever, says it's so much more fun when you can shoot darts in quick succession. I guess I can't argue with them, but you see why it seems like I have 3 sons instead of 2.

The Bottom Line
Boys will be boys, and boys LOVE the rapid-fire action of the Nerf N-Strike Barricade RV-10.

Disclosure: I received product sample to facilitate my review, but have not been paid to review the product or give my opinions. Product information is provided by Hasbro and Litzky PR and is indicated in italics. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.
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Mattel Green Lantern Toys now availabl

Hurrah, Green Lantern is now out in movie theaters! 3Po and I already have a date to watch this fun summer action movie. And once he's watched it, 3Po can have a blast reliving the action with the Green Lantern action figures that Mattel sent him to play with.

Here's more information about the new Green Lantern toys:

Protect peace and maintain intergalactic order with Mattel’s new line of Green Lantern action figures, role play toys and accessories, available at major retailers nationwide. Just in time for the highly-anticipated summer superhero action film in theaters June 17, Mattel’s new Green Lantern toys allow kids to replicate the main hero’s ring-wielding vigor while immersing themselves in the Green Lantern univehttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifrse.

Transform into the Green Lantern hero by slipping on the movie-inspired Green Lantern Colossal CannonTM Blaster, which lights up and emits blaster sounds when projectile discs are fired from the Gatling-style barrel! Available now for SRP of $29.99.

Become part of the Green Lantern Corps with the four-inch scale Green Lantern Battle ShiftersTM figures that feature popular Green Lantern characters Hal Jordan, Sinestro, Tomar-Re and Kilowog. These figures include Power SlingerTM accessories of malleable weapons or creature constructs that can be folded up and used again, creating unlimited play for young fans! Available now for the SRP of $11.99.

Bring the major movie characters to life with the Green Lantern Movie Masters® figures, crafted with superior accuracy and unmatched detail using digital design files directly from the film. Collect all eleven figures – each comes with a Collect & Connect piece to construct a giant figure of the villain Parallax. Available now for the SRP of $14.99.

Simulate Green Lantern’s visually-transforming powers with the Green Lantern Ring BlastTM Jet Figure & Vehicle. One press of a button transforms the Battle ShifterTM 2-in-1 vehicle from a swift turbo tank into a stealth fighter jet. The Ring BlastTM Jet features firing projectiles, lights, sounds and a Hal Jordan figure. Available July 2011 for the SRP of $39.99.

Even though 3Po and Jammy don't really know much about Green Lantern, they were delighted with these action figures. They started playing with Hal Jordan, Sinestro and Green Man right away, and they've been having an awesome time saving the universe.

The figures are very detailed, with rippling sinewy muscles and realistic facial expressions. They're great for imaginative super-hero play, and when the sun gets too hot it's nice to know that the boys have something to play with indoors that doesn't involve switches, plugs and wires!

Disclosure: I received a product sample to facilitate my review, but have not been paid to review the product or give my opinions. Product information is provided by Mattel and is indicated in italics. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.
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Kelloggs FiberPlus cereal -- a sweet (and healthy) way to start the day

Growing up, I never ate breakfast. You'd think that the daughter of a doctor would have known better than to skip the most important meal of the day, but my dad always got up later than we did, and I don't think he ever knew that his kids were sleeping in until the last minute and rushing into the car to get to school. Or maybe my parents just figured that if I ate a snack during our school's 10AM recess break, we'd be okay.

Now I'm a parent of three school-aged children, and our morning routine couldn't be more different. Okay, maybe it's not that different. My kids also sleep in until the last minute and rush to get ready. But we do sit at our kitchen table to have breakfast every single day. The benefits to mind and body of eating a good breakfast each morning can't be ignored! I had to make a real effort to cultivate the breakfast habit in myself, but now I'm just like Alfie and the kids -- I need that morning fuel to jump start my day.

So when I received an invitation from Technorati to review Kellogg's new line of FiberPlus cereals, I couldn't believe my luck! I had already discovered the Cinnamon Oat Crunch cereal at the supermarket a couple of months ago, and it is already a staple in our cereal cupboard. My kids love the sweet cinnamon taste, and I love that it has just 7 grams of sugar per serving.

The Berry Yogurt Crunch flavor, which we had not tried before, is a bit higher in sugar (12 grams per serving), but both varieties are super-high in fiber (9 and 10 grams per serving) and whole grains (16 and 25 grams per serving). I try to eat high-fiber cereal because it really keeps me from getting those mid-morning munchies, so I can avoid reaching for unhealthy snacks to fill me up. My staple breakfast cereal is Kellogg's Special K, but it's really nice to switch it around. Thanks to Kellogg's FiberPlus cereals, I'm glad to have two more healthy, yummy options to start the day right!

Disclosure: This is a compensated post courtesy of Kelloggs and Technorati. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.
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Time Saving Tips for Busy Moms

Last week I went to Atlanta and met up with 11 other bloggers, where we talked about the challenges we faced as bloggers, as women and as moms. In many ways we are so different: we come from all different parts of the country, we have different jobs, different family situations, different interests, different priorities. However, the single biggest common challenge we all faced was the lack of time. This must be a universal need, especially for busy moms! I don't think I could find a mom out there who couldn't use some extra time.

Since you can't get more than 24 hours out of the day, it's up to us moms to share each other's tips and tricks for making the most of the time we've got. Here are my ten time-saving tips and techniques to make life as a busy mom a little bit easier:

1) Get a good night's sleep. This might sound counterintuitive -- why waste your time sleeping when you could be getting things done? -- but if you're tired, groggy and cranky, you're not as productive. You don't make good decisions. You can't plan your day properly. Take care of yourself so you can be the most productive mom you can be!

2) Shop for groceries and clothes online. I love the internet! They've brought home delivery back into our daily lives, so we don't have to spend as much time driving to and from stores.

3) If you must do your shopping in actual stores, DO NOT shop on a weekend. That's when stores are the most crowded, and you'll spend way too much time waiting in line. I'd rather do grocery shopping at 9:00 PM on a weekday anytime!

4) Get your children into the habit of doing things for themselves. I can't tell you how much easier my life became once my children learned how to dress themselves and get their own breakfasts. My husband was somewhat aghast that they were picking out their own clothing and pouring out their cereal at the tender young age of 5 (hey, it's not that young!!), but it gave me more time to prepare and pack lunches for 4 people for the day. It might take a little extra time in the beginning, but it's worth it.

5) Make double portions of every meal, and freeze the extra portions so you have a ready-to-eat meal for later in the week.

6) Take advantage of pre-chopped, pre-washed produce -- you'll save time preparing onions, carrots, celery, lettuce, etc... and save time washing up!

7) Make one-pot meals, so you don't have to waste time washing all those extra pots and pans.

8) Create a to-do list.

9) Consolidate your car errands.

10) Take advantage of your smartphone -- there are so many apps nowadays that can help make your life easier. You can search for cheap gasoline, download coupons, even make payments straight from your phone! Busy moms will really appreciate one of the latest and greatest of these apps: the Starbucks Card Mobile App, which allows you to check your Starbucks Rewards balance, find Starbucks locations, reload your Starbucks cards and pay for your Starbucks purchases. This new app makes morning coffee runs even more convenient, giving you more time to get on with your busy day! The new app is available for Android, BlackBerry, iPhone and iPod Touch.

Disclosure: I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Starbucks blogging program, for a gift card worth $30. For more information on how you can participate, click here. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.
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Mickey's Soundsational Parade at the Disneyland Resort

Mickey's float

The Disneyland Resort has a new catchphrase to describe all the new things going on there this summer: Soundsational. Having recently been there, seen it, and done that, I think Soundsational is a pretty apt description, and nowhere more so than their new summer parade. It's called -- what else -- Mickey's Soundsational Parade.

I happen to think that parades are one of the best things about Disney's parks. They are something you can't get anywhere else, and they are one of the reasons that people are happy to pay the higher cost of admission to a Disney theme park. Their parades are like mini mobile musicals, and you'd have to pay at least $20 to see a show like that at your local concert venue!

I'm actually amazed -- thankful, but amazed -- that Disneyland actually goes through the trouble and expense to put on new parades year after year, because families would probably continue to line the sidewalks of Main Street an hour before parade time even if it was exactly the same parade. Fortunately for the grownups, Disneyland does put on new parades all the time, and I think Mickey's Soundsational Parade is the most interesting and enjoyable of all the parades I've seen since we took the kids to Disneyland for the first time in 2008. Here's why:

1) They start the parade with a syncopated drumline! These guys are amazing. I loved hearing their crisp, catchy, complicated rhythms.
Frontline drummers start off Mickey's Soundsational Parade

2) In this parade, the music takes center stage, and we get to hear some of Disney's most beloved music instead of parade tune composed especially for the parade that nobody can sing to. Each of the 9 main floats is themed on a movie with a distinct musical style -- Caribbean (Little Mermaid), jazz (The Princess and the Frog), Samba ("Tres Amigos"), African (Lion King), etc... People can actually sing to favorites like "Under the Sea", "Chim-Chimenee", and everyone's favorite "Mickey Mouse Club" (M-I-C-K-E-Y...M-O-U-S-E!).
Tres Amigos float

3) The floats are amazing! They are whimsical and colorful, and best of all, they really reflect the musical theme. A lot of the floats were shaped like drums, or tambourines or cymbals. My hands-down favorite float was Princess Tiana's riverboat. Check out how the smokestack looks like a flute:
Tiana's Riverboat Float

I was rather perplexed that they chose to end the parade with Mary Poppins, instead of having a great big finale float with Mickey on it (Mickey was actually the first float of the parade), but Mary Poppins is one of my favorite classic Disney movies -- I still know all the lyrics to the songs -- so I can't complain too much. Besides, the moving merry-go-round horses were the coolest things ever.
Mary PoppinsBert

The Princess float was beautiful, and I'm sure all the little princesses in the crowd loved it, but I wish it had reflected the parade's musical theme a bit more.
Princess Float

I had the opportunity to speak with John Addis, the parade director and Steve Davison, the creative director, who shared some fun facts about Mickey's Soundsational Parade with me:

* Mickey's Soundsational Parade has 9 themed floats

* There are 11 chimney sweeps in the parade

* There are 97 performers in the parade, but the directors hired 180 in total (since they can't perform 7 days a week!), not to mention the choreographers, drivers, props people, sound people and more.

* In January, over 1000 people auditioned to perform in the parade, and rehearsals started in March.

* Look closely at each of the parade floats; there are lots of hidden paper character sculptures on them! For example, on Tiana's float, there is a character that doesn't really belong because he or she is from another movie. Do you know which character it is?

Mickey's Soundsational Parade will be strutting and stepping its way down Disneyland's Main Street U.S.A. all summer until September 5.

For more photos of the parade and of Disney's Soundsational Summer, check out my photo set on Flickr!
Akemi & JodiJedi Knight TrainingFighting Clone TroopersMermaid LagoonLas sirenasOpening ceremony of the Little Mermaid ride Jodi Benson sings at the opening ceremonyAkemi & JodiChat with Jodi BensonI meet the real Little MermaidThe Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undesea Adventure is now openEntrance to the Little Mermaid ride The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea AdventureBeginning of the rideMe in my pretty clamshellDigital image projected onto the ceiling at the beginning of the rideStar Tours, the Adventures ContinueOpening of the revamped Star Tours, June 3 2011 The line for Star Tours on opening dayThe crowds on Star Tours' opening dayFrontline drummers start off Mickey's Soundsational ParadeMickey's floatGoofyAladdin's float

Disclosure: I received a media invitation to attend the opening of Star Tours and other events. Transportation, lodging and park tickets were provided by Disneyland Resort Public Relations. I was not obligated to blog about my experiences at the event. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.
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