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April 9, 2013 / mommylok

DIY Wedding Tips

If you know me, really know me, you’d laugh at the fact that I am posting something that has “DIY” in it.  I found it particularly hilarious that I was asked to post my own ideas because simply said, I am not a Do-It-Yourself type of person.  I see nothing wrong with paying other people for their services (or bribing friends!)

Despite the fact that I do not do-it-myself, I truly do envy others who have the patience and skills to be a do-it-yourselfer.

In anticipation for the upcoming movie, The Big Wedding, I wanted to share a couple of fun tips (that some shared with me!):

Bridal Party Gifts:
Have you been a bit of a bridezilla? Show your bridal party your appreciation with a special gift that isn’t something generic. Buy lockets and put pictures of you together inside or write a note on a beautiful strip of decorative paper to fold inside. Make your own pearl and ribbon bracelet or necklace that uses beads, ribbon, needle and embroidery floss or thread. Make each unique to those special girls  standing next to you by the color of the ribbon or any extra beading you feel like adding.
Something Blue Wedding Shoes:
Every bride needs something new, something old, something borrowed, and something blue. The first three are the easy ones—jewelry, a dress, and flowers perfectly fit into those categories. Something blue though?? Why not color the bottom of your shoes! It’s a fun, easy way to have something blue on you all day that can stay nice and hidden if blue really isn’t your thing. To dye the bottom of your shoes, all you need to do is clean them, paint them with white nail polish and then paint again with the blue of your choice. Let them dry and voila—your something blue will be right at your toes! If you don’t want to color the whole sole, add blue rhinestones for some sparkle and fun.
Now, to share in the fun and anticipation for this movie, I’d love for you to share some of your own DIY Wedding Tips.  I do know a couple people who are engaged to be married this year so the more tips I can share with them, the better!

The Big Wedding, a Lionsgate® film

ABOUT THE MOVIE

With an all-star cast led by Robert DeNiro, Katherine Heigl, Diane Keaton, Amanda Seyfried, Topher Grace, with Susan Sarandon and Robin Williams, THE BIG WEDDING is an uproarious romantic comedy about a charmingly modern family trying to survive a weekend wedding celebration that has the potential to become a full blown family fiasco.  To the amusement of their adult children and friends, long divorced couple Don and Ellie Griffin (De Niro and Keaton) are once again forced to play the happy couple for the sake of their adopted son’s wedding after his ultra conservative biological mother unexpectedly decides to fly halfway across the world to attend. With all of the wedding guests looking on, the Griffins are hilariously forced to confront their past, present and future – and hopefully avoid killing each other in the process. Screenplay by Justin Zackham. Directed by Justin Zackham.

Disclosure:  I received information to share only; no compensation was received for this post.   All opinions expressed are my own.

April 7, 2013 / mommylok

TV, are you good or bad for kids?

I admit, I am one of those moms that feel there is nothing is wrong with using TV as a babysitter for my kids.  Don’t get me wrong, I did feel bad (between reading all the countless articles informing me how negative TV can be, my parent-in-laws who drilled it into me that my kids would have bad eyes if I let my children watch TV before the age of 5-by the way, is this an Asian thing?, etc.) but it didn’t stop me from doing it.  I’d constantly have the debate in my head (oh my god, am I ruining my kids??) but eventually I got over it and told myself “I’m not a bad mom!”  By the way, 2 of my children did make it into NYC’s Gifted and Talented Program so my decision to let my kids over watch TV couldn’t have been that bad, right?

Now that I’ve given up on beating myself up over the “misuse” of TV, I came across the infographic below, “Better TV Means Better Kids”  and found it intriguing.  For the most part, I did try to stick with the educational programs and seeing how my kids are now doing well in school, I can totally relate to the stats below.  I’m not agreeing or advocating for this data, but I think it has valid points.  I’m interested to hear what you think about this – please share your thoughts!

Better TV Infographic

Source: EducationNews.org

February 24, 2013 / mommylok

Recognizing Chinese New Year with Build-a-Bear’s Year of the Snake

Photo by mommylok

I received Build-a-Bear’s Year of the Snake plush as a special gift.  It was a pleasant surprise because I didn’t realize Build-a-Bear made such a product that provides exposure to Chinese New Year and the Chinese zodiac.  It was also pleasant because they actually turned a snake (an animal I am not so fond of in real life) into a really adorable plush that even my kids fell in love with.

Here’s a message from my daughter:

“It was very thoughtful of you to make the snake.  The snake is cool.  I like the snake because it’s the Year of the Snake. Next year, maybe I can get the horse.  I think you should make more. The snake tells me which animal is which year, how to write snake in Chinese, and it even has a tag where you can write its name.  The snake is so cute!”

I also thought this is a wonderful idea.  As my daughter mentioned, the tags include the Chinese character for “snake” and a calendar that tells you which of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac you are according to the year you are born.  My children have a basic understanding of the Chinese zodiac but having a product like this reinforces the meaning and makes them interested in learning more.  It really is inspiring to see how a simple product can effectively promote the Chinese culture.  It also helps my children appreciate and respect their own culture because they see someone else outside of their own family who embraces it, as well.

On Build-a-Bear’s website, it was nice to see a little blurb in the product description of the meaning behind the animal (this is from last year’s Year of the Dragon):

Each year of the Chinese calendar is represented by a special animal.  2012 is the Year of the Dragon.  The dragon symbolizes energy, creativity and wealth.  If you are born under the Year of the Dragon you have strong leadership abilities.  You have natural charisma and are very lucky.  Celebrate your year with this special dragon. Personalize this animal with clothing and accessories to make the perfect unique gift.

I was a little disappointed, however, to see so little in the description from the Year of the Snake.  It would be nice to see the same level of depth of information from year to year.  I would also love to see Build-a-Bear include references to where children can learn more about the history of the Chinese zodiac and Chinese New Year.  I do hope that Build-a-Bear continues this Limited Edition collection to teach children of all cultures about the Chinese zodiac and Chinese New Year in which they may not have gotten the exposure otherwise.

DISCLOSURE:  I received the “Year of the Snake” as part of a cultural promotional program with Asian Black Community, Build-a-Bear Workshop and The Mommy Factor.  Since this item is only available for a limited time, it might be sold out in Build-a-Bear Workshop stores and online website.  No other compensation was received.  Views expressed are always 100% my own.

 

January 12, 2013 / mommylok

Product Feature: Quick Adjust Suspension Cross Trainer

When I was approached to do a feature on some home fitness gear, I jumped at the opportunity.  My thoughts at the time were, a new year-a new me…I can do this!  Yeah, right.  What was I thinking?  I haven’t been inside a gym since my kickboxing days pre-kids (8+ years ago!)  But now that I’ve received my sample, there’s no turning back.  I must do this!

 

Sportline’s Quick Adjust Suspension Cross Trainer allows you to target every major muscle group for the upper and lower body.  You can modify exercise intensity by quickly adjusting the rope length with innovative Lock-n Load Quick Adjust Pods.  A foot cradle adds a dynamic element to your workout with static and sliding actions so you can change lower body  exercises quickly and easily.  By customizing the rope length you can also change intensity levels and move from one exercise to the next to improve your athletic performance and agility while burning calories and improving your cardiovascular fitness.  The system includes two Quick Adjust pods with suspension rope, a door  anchor, two handles, two foot straps, a foot cradle and an instructional DVD.  The system mounts to standard doors without screws or drilling, so you can  easily set up, store and travel with this quality home gym unit.

In addition to the DVD and equipment, there is also a printed workout guide.  I like this because I actually don’t have an ideal set-up where I can watch the DVD at the same time as I use the Cross Trainer.  I can hang this up on a nearby wall and have a constant reminder of what I should be doing…what I need to be doing!  The equipment doesn’t take up that much space and you’ll always have the convenience to workout in the comfort of your own home, on your own time.  Available through Sportline’s website, the Cross Trainer retails for $59.99 – a very reasonable investment if you ask me.

Sportline Chart

ABOUT SPORTLINE

At Sportline, this one idea has driven our growth over the last twenty years.  Every day, there are opportunities to improve our fitness and overall wellness.  That’s why, every step of the way, founders Larry Livingston and Don McClelland kept a vision of simple, performance-rich products that provide unsurpassed accuracy but also fit into your daily lifestyle.  From our start as a small specialty sport timing brand to our current position as a global leader in fitness monitoring instruments, Sportline has provided you with the tools that help you stay motivated and informed in your personal efforts to join the movement.

Disclosure:  I received a sample for review purposes only; no other compensation was received for this post.   All opinions expressed are my own.

December 17, 2012 / mommylok

Mamarazzi’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid Blu-Ray DVD Release Event with Jeff Kinney and Robert Capron

Written by mommylok’s daughter, Miriya

When my mom first told me about the event of Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days Blu-Ray DVD Release, hosted by The Moms), I was excited.  I read almost all the books except for The Third Wheel.  I enjoyed the books very much.  The event was at Apple Seeds in Manhattan.

Photo by V. Lok
Miriya and actor Robert Capron (Rowley)

At the event, the actor in the movie (Rowley) talked about being in the movie.  He talked about things that happened in the movie.  Some people asked questions about him.  I didn’t get to hear most of the questions because it was hard to hear and my mom was late to the event because we couldn’t find parking.  Then I decorated my very own diary and bookmark.  I also got an autograph from Robert Capron and the author of the Diary of the Wimpy Kid books, Jeff Kinney.  I loved this event!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Robert Capron and Jeff Kinney

Photo by V. Lok
Actor Robert Capron and author Jeff Kinney

A note from mommylok:  For more information, please visit http://www.diaryofawimpykidmovie.com/.  You can pre-order the Blu-Ray DVD now, which is scheduled to be released December 18, 2012!

Disclosure:  I received a book and DVD for review (and enjoyment!) purposes only; no other compensation was received for this post.   All opinions expressed are my own.

December 3, 2012 / mommylok

eBay’s GiveOne Program

eBay GiveOne Program

eBay and Toys for Tots is “unwrapping” a new way to GIVE this season with the eBay Give One program at giveone.ebay.com. There, shoppers can donate a toy to a child in need. eBay is also bringing the experience to life in NYC with The eBay Toy Box – a pop-up showcasing season’s hottest toys, available new and now on eBay. Mom and 90210 star Jennie Garth will help launch the experience on Dec. 6.

At the Toy Box, shoppers can use their smartphones to instantly donate a toy to a child in need through Toys for Tots™ (eBay will match each donation). And, shoppers can browse and buy top toys and have them delivered (often within an hour!) through eBay Now, a new delivery service.

Open Dec. 6-9 in the Meatpacking District (Hudson Street at 14th Street, NYC), the Toy Box is just one way eBay is making the holidays “merry with mobile” this year. Those outside of NYC can donate through eBay Give One at giveone.ebay.com.

August 3, 2012 / mommylok

A Cookie Fairy

Back in early May, I attended the The Mamas Expo held at the New York Hall of Science with my daughter.  The Mamas Expo is an event for parents and their children where they gained insider access to local services, specialists and products currently available for families in Queens and throughout New York City.

As we were walking around the room, my daughter skipped ahead of me as I was talking to one vendor and later presented me with half a cookie that she received as a sample (isn’t she so sweet? I wouldn’t even have known if she ate the whole thing herself!) I took one bite and WOW! Boy was the cookie delicious!  It was an oatmeal raisin cookie but it was so soft and nearly perfect that I could have sworn it was freshly baked.  But when I looked around, I didn’t smell any cookies baking nor did I see any baking ovens.  What I did see were some Cookie Fairies.  Literally!

A couple tables over stood Paige and her husband, owners of Cookie Fairy Sweets, as they handed out samples of their freshly baked cookies.  That’s right, they were freshly baked with no oven on-site.  Cookie Fairy Sweets are fresh-baked frozen cookies that are 100% preservative free, created with organic ingredients.  According to Paige (who graduated from the French Culinary Institute), the cookies are frozen because “Frozen is fresher!  By freezing our cookies after baking, we are able to guarantee you always have a fresh-baked cookie that is 100% preservative free, convenient and healthy for you and your family!”  As if that wasn’t impressive enough, Paige’s warm and welcoming smile would have brought anyone from across the room over to her table.  I loved the fact that as the baker and owner of her own company, she took the time to mingle with all the families at the Expo that entire day.

Photo by Cookie Fairy Sweets

Cookie Fairy Sweets bake their cookies in small batches, freezing them just out of the oven to lock in the fresh-baked, unique flavors.  What’s super convenient and such a great selling point on this cookie is that you don’t even need an oven to eat them!  They’re fully baked and can thaw at room temperature so you can literally eat them right out of the bag!  It’s also deliciously acceptable to eat them frozen – a great treat for those hot summer days.

Cookie Fairy Sweets offers three yummy varieties (with more flavors in the works):

Lil’ Devils: fully-loaded chocolate cookies with hints of spice

Oats n’ Raisin:  hearty oatmeal with rum soaked California raisins

My Man Cookies:  chocolate chip, oatmeal, pecan and coconut

Based in Brooklyn, NY, Cookie Fairy Sweets offers their cookies in your grocer’s freezer near the frozen desserts and ice cream in stores throughout Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan.  There’s an online request form to get Cookie Fairy Sweets in your local grocer if you cannot currently find them there.  And starting this week, they will be available nationwide!  You can purchase these wonderful cookies online at http://www.cookiefairysweets.com/ in either the individual flavors or as a sweet treat, the sampler pack.

For more information about Cookie Fairy Sweets, please visit their website or follow them on Facebook.

Disclosure:  I received cookie samples for review (and enjoyment!) purposes only; no other compensation was received for this post.   All opinions expressed are my own.

July 25, 2012 / mommylok

Product Feature: Learning Mandarin Chinese with Miss Panda

I received Miss Panda’s Let’s Learn Mandarin Chinese CD a while back and felt bad that I wasn’t able to post this feature in a timely manner.  My life got really hectic and I just didn’t seem to have time to listen to the CD in full, only portions of it when I was driving in the car with my children.  When I contacted Miss Panda to apologize, she responded “listening in the car is actually the best time.  Short and sweet.”  I realized she was absolutely correct.

Eventually, we were able to listen to the entire CD – on my kids’ terms, not because I forced them to sit and go through lessons to learn Chinese.  I loved that when we got into the car, my kids (especially my 3 year old) would demand to listen to Miss Panda.  They’d spend time repeating words and phrases and also singing fun songs.  By listening to the a chapter or two at time, my kids seemed to retain more of the lesson.  More importantly, it’s because they wanted to learn, not because I wanted them to learn.

This 54 minute CD is a fun and effective way to engage my children in learning Mandarin Chinese, especially in the car.  I mean, what’s the alternative – more sibling bickering?  I acknowledge that I have purchased many other CDs, videos, and books that also teach similar lessons – the more exposure my children have to their culture, the better.  To me, however, there really isn’t one method that is more effective than another.  It really is dependent on a child’s preference on how he or she is receptive to such lessons.  For this particular program, I appreciate how new vocabulary words and phrases are constantly reinforced through repetition and cute songs, and it’s easily done in the car.  This is a great way to utilize the downtime we have while driving.

The “Let’s Learn Mandarin Chinese with Miss Panda!” audio program is designed for newcomers to Mandarin Chinese with limited or no Mandarin Chinese language experience.  This CD will take your child on an adventure-filled journey with carefully orchestrated content.  Over 100 most commonly used Chinese words, phrases, expressions and simple sentences are introduced through song, rhyme, rap, movement, and games.

For more information about Let’s Learn Mandarin Chinese with Miss Panda, please visit her at http://www.misspandachinese.com/ or follow her on Facebook.

ABOUT MISS PANDA

“Miss Panda” is a dynamic Mandarin Chinese language instructor and the mother of two young bilingual children.  She is a native Mandarin Chinese speaker and a trained Mandarin Chinese Language Instructor.  She was the host for “The English Club,” a top-rated language learning program on the National Education Radio Station in Taiwan.  She has extensive teaching experience with children in Taiwan, Morocco, Canada and the United States.  She is also registered with Hawai’i Careers With Young Children (PATCH) and is director-qualified.  Miss Panda received the highest possible score on the Chinese Proficiency Test administered by the Foreign Service Institute of the U.S. Department of State in Washington D.C.   Additionally, she is a member of the Chinese Language Teachers Association and a member of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.

Disclosure:  I received a CD for review purposes only; no other compensation was received for this post.   All opinions expressed are my own.

July 2, 2012 / Nelson Lok

Product Feature: Nerf Super Soaker Electrostorm

Super Soaker Electrostorm

When my Nerf Super Soaker Electrostorm finally arrived by mail, I was thoroughly filled with glee on what my 7 year old son’s reaction would be. Secretly, I was also filled with anticipation of how much fun this water gun was going to be. Why the excitement? Boasting a fully motorized water gun with a 25ft range, this is not your father’s water gun. “Oh the utter joy of soaking hapless combatants in the park.” After my son tore open the packaging, the batteries were set and the water tank full, we found out that the gun worked as advertised. My son literally sprayed the entire water reserve on me with a single pull of the trigger from both close and far away. The steady stream of water was strong and relentless.

Unfortunately, this is also where the shortcomings kicked in. The Electrostorm requires 4 batteries. The full tank reserve was emptied in a matter of 30 seconds. And the initial shot from the water gun does not kick in until about 4 or 5 short pulls before the motor engages its full potential for automatic firing. While researching about this product, I noted that quite a few customers complained about the Electro Storm being defective out of the box, this is probably why. So if you plan on purchasing, just remember about the short pulls or else you will think it is broken or defective.

With a little training, we learned that the water gun performs much more efficiently with short bursts. The Nerf Super Soaker series has clearly dominated the high end water gun market and The Electrostorm adds to its ever growing arsenal.

Overall, the Electrostorm, averaging around $10-$15 from popular toy stores, is a great water gun with some solid coolness factors, but it does have its limitations.

ABOUT HASBRO

Hasbro is a branded play company providing children and families around the world with a wide-range of immersive entertainment offerings based on the Company’s world class brand portfolio.  From toys and games, to television programming, motion pictures, video games and a comprehensive licensing program, Hasbro strives to delight its customers through the strategic leveraging of well-known and beloved brands such as TRANSFORMERS, LITTLEST PET SHOP, NERF, PLAYSKOOL, MY LITTLE PONY, G.I. JOE, MAGIC: THE GATHERING and MONOPOLY.

Disclosure:  I received Hasbro toy samples for review purposes only; no other compensation was received for this post.   All opinions expressed are my own.

June 28, 2012 / mommylok

My Lil Nerdette

A few weeks ago, I tweeted about how I found “something” under my daughter’s (M) pillow.  That “something” was The Big Book of How.  Baffled, I asked her why she put a book under her pillow.  She replied, “so I can read when I first wake up.”  Ok, I get that she loves reading, but her book of choice was The Big Book of How.  I’m humored and in awe of my darling daughter and her eagerness to learn.

Skipping ahead to yesterday (the last day of school for NYC kids), all I heard from M was “I miss my teacher!” Rolling my eyes and sighing at how precious my daughter is (there’s no mental rest for her!), I suggested that she write her teacher a letter.  Then this morning when I went to her bed to wake her up, I found yet another “something”.  Two somethings, rather.  Her incomplete Grammar and Math workbooks from school.  I left her in the room to change her clothes and when I peeked in to make sure she was changing, I saw her in bed, pencil in hand, flipping through her workbooks.  Let me remind you, school just ended the day before.  I just don’t know what to do with my lil Nerdette.  I’m also completely baffled at how I could have produced such a wondrous little girl.

Regardless, I hope that she forever keeps this passion for knowledge.  #learningneverends

 

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