Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fyrflyz Review & Giveaway

The kids are heading back to school next week, the fireworks of summer at the shore are done for the season, but there's another way to light up the night! 
If you haven't heard of them yet, allow me to introduce you to Fyrflyz, the hottest toy of Summer 2011! Currently Fyrflyz are only being sold at select Toys R' Us stores, but they'll soon be available at Toys R' Us nationwide. Look for them online and on the shelves at Toys R' Us next month.

So...what are Fyrflyz you ask? They are an awesome spinning toy that allow you to create amazing light shows in the palm of your hand! 

When our Fyrflyz arrived, I thought, "Okay, big deal, it's like a double ended yo-yo with a light in the middle." 

It's actually much more than that...and much cooler. It consists of a plastic center with multi colored LED lights, with two strings on each side attached to handholds. By tightening or loosening the tension of the strings on each side, you're able to create different light designs and patterns. The toy itself might not look like much at first glace, but the effect is really, seriously cool!

Take a look at some of the tricks you can master with Fyrflyz:  

Check out the Fyrflyz YouTube Channel to see them in action!

Fyrflz are available in 4 different colors and retail for less than $10 each. Here's what I absolutely LOVE about Fyrflz:

  • They're fun for both boys and girls and fun for all ages, including Moms and Dads! We played with ours for an hour after we first opened it and the kids were fast asleep!
  • There's no assembly required, Fyrflyz come ready to play!
  • They're easy to operate. It took me about ten minutes to really get the hang of it.
  • Fyrflz encourage creative play as kids try to master new tricks and create new light patterns.
  • They give you an excuse to play outside in the dark!
  • They encourage fine motor development and coordination.  
Want a Fyrflyz of your very own? Leave a comment for your chance to win one. Be sure to include your email address so that I can contact you if you're the  winner. Contest ends Tuesday, September 6th at midnight. Winner will be notified via email. Good luck!

Be sure to check out Fyrflyz on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Circus of The Scars...

It's that time of year again. You know the end of summer is drawing near when you start seeing signs staked in the ground around town advertising the coming of the Cole Bros. Circus. The Circus of The Stars. 

The Cole Bros. Circus, who boast they are the largest circus under the big top, has been rolling into Cape May County for as long as I can remember. I've been to the circus a number of times in my life, most recently this time last year when The Cole Bros Circus came to Rio Grande and I brought my boys to see it for the second year in a row. 

We had a fun family night the year prior and were looking forward to the boys being a little older and a little better able to appreciate and enjoy the circus experience more.

What ended up happening took me completely off guard. 

I started to feel really uncomfortable and not because of the heat and the stench. I started to realize that what we were watching wasn't entertaining at all. It was unnatural. And wrong.

I should tell you that while I love animals and believe they should be treated with love and respect, I'm not some big animal rights activist. True, I don't wear fur, not because of the death of animals, but because I cant' afford fur. I enjoy a good hamburger. I don't read the label of my shampoo to ensure it wasn't tested on rabbits. When I think of animal neglect and abuse I think mostly of house pets, dogs and cats. 

This was not my first time to the circus, but it was the first time I had given any real thought as to what was going on in front of me. They brought out a dozen or so tigers in tiny cages and I sat there and thought, "This is just wrong. An animal of that magnitude doesn't belong in a cage, let alone a cage that small." When it was time for the tigers to leave their respective cages, a circus hand used a long stick to poke the animal on the back side to signal it to move. If it didn't move, it was poked again. 

We watched as the tigers made their rounds, jumping up here, standing there. Each time a tiger hesitated, didn't do what it was supposed to do at the exact time it was supposed to do it, someone cracked a whip near it. Or poked it with a stick. Stacking tiger on top of tiger.

I started wondering what it would take to train a huge, powerful animal like a tiger to stand on another tigers shoulders and then let another tiger stand on it's shoulders. 

It became pretty clear that there was probably more going on behind the scenes than cracking a whip in the tigers direction or giving them a nudge with a stick. 

When they lit the ring of fire is when I really lost it. I watched the first of these magnificent wild creatures back away from the fire...and as soon as it did, someone cracked the whip. The tiger approached the ring again and then backed away again. Finally it jumped through.

There's a reason for this: Animals, by instinct, are afraid of fire. 

It occurred to me how wrong it was for all of us to be sitting there watching tigers jump through fire and be entertained by it. It suddenly felt wrong and weird and unnatural.  

If my neighbors were in their backyard, "training" their dog to jump through a ring of fire, I would not be okay with it, why should I be okay with it happening with another animal? I shouldn't. That's what I decided right then and there. I shouldn't be and I wouldn't be and we left.

Bears don't ride bikes, elephants don't go around balancing on one leg and tigers don't jump through rings of fire for shits and giggles. It just isn't right. And that isn't taking into consideration the training process used in order to achieve these results for performance or the traveling and living conditions these animals endure. 

Trainers often use whips, bullhooks, electric prods and other painful tools to force animals to "learn" tricks. When animals are not performing (which is the majority of the time, between shows and traveling between venues), they're kept in cramped cages with little monitoring. 

We won't be going to the circus this year. Or ever again. Like any Mom, I want to raise my kids to be strong, confident and compassionate. I want them to understand that the choices we make affect others in profound ways. I want them to understand that it's never okay to harm (or support others who harm) those who are defenseless. I want to raise my kids to have respect, for themselves, for other people and for animals.

If I want my kids to see some unnatural and just plain wrong things, we'll sit outside the Villas Wawa for awhile. Now that's entertainment!

My hope is that at least one other mother will be sitting in the crowd tomorrow night and suddenly realize the circus isn't where she wants her family to be. I'm glad it happened to me.

Friday, August 5, 2011

ZhuZhu Pets Ice Cream Social Play Date

Among any kids "Top 10 Best Things About Summer" is of course, ice cream!!!
The only thing better than having some delicious ice cream on a hot summer day is sharing that ice cream with a friend beside you.

 Lennon and Isabelle enjoying their ice cream.

Today we hosted a fun Ice Cream Social Play Date and enjoyed some ice cream with over 20 of our favorite friends.

Our friends at The Zhuniverse sent us (4) brand new ZhuZhu Pets as well as an Ice Cream Parlor and Ice Cream Truck that inspired our party and we sent each of our guests home with a new ZhuZhu friend. It doesn't get much better than friends, ice cream and ZhuZhu Pets. :)

My favorite thing about the ZhuZhu Pets line of toys is that they appeal to kids of all different ages and interests. Our guests ranged in age from 1-13 and they all had a love for ZhuZhu Pets in common...as well as a love for ice cream! 

Mila, The Ice Cream Queen

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

"Miss Erin, what do we do if we need more ice cream?" - Hailey
 Getting Ice Cream Tattoos...
Daniel and Johnelle sporting the Ice Cream Sand Art Necklaces they made.
 Our play date ended with a game of Pin the Cherry on the Ice Cream Cone.
 Be sure to check out the Zhuniverse online, "like" The Zhu-niverse on Facebook and check out the trailer for the new Quest for Zhu movie coming this Fall!

*In full disclosure, we received a party pack that included (4) ZhuZhu Pets, (1) ZhuZhu Pets Ice Cream Parlor and (1) ZhuZhu Pets Ice Cream truck from BSM Media with the agreement that we'd turn around and throw a super fun Ice Cream Party and tell you all about it here.*

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Summer = Sandwiches (*Sweepstakes Alert*)

No one wants to cook or eat a huge dinner when it's 90 degrees. Sandwiches are the perfect summer supper. They require very little work and make for a filling, yet light, meal. Apparently sandwiches are more than just a convenient dinner option for many. In a recent survey, 59% of Americans answered that they believe making a sandwich is an art that gives them an opportunity to get creative, rather than a science that simply requires slapping the right ingredients together.

To me, a sandwich isn't a sandwich without Hellmann's.

Chef Bobby Flay teamed up with Hellmann's to encourage sandwich lovers to share their passion and preferences for sandwich-making techniques. Visit Facebook.com/Hellmanns to share your sandwich making tips,tricks, techniques and secrets. You can also virtually build your perfect sandwich and enter the Hellmann's Build Your Perfect Sandwich Sweepstakes for a chance to win awesome prizes, like a kitchen essentials bundle, grocery store gift cards and Hellmann's products. 

My favorite sandwich? It starts with an everything or garlic bagel and includes thin sliced roast beef, provolone cheese, roasted red peppers and of course... Hellmann's! 

Disclosure: I was entered to win a prize package from Hellmann's for telling you about the Hellmann's Build Your Perfect Sandwich Sweepstakes, no monetary exchange took place.