6/30/11

Chuggington Interactive Railway Toys Not Just Standard Train Sets

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The Chuggington Interactive Railway Wash & Fuel Set
Image: ToysRUs.com
The Chuggington Interactive Railway Wash & Fuel Set brings to life the animated series through its 33-piece set by Learning Curve. Unlike many standard train track sets, this one features SmartTalk™ technology – the Chuggington engines actually recognize and talk to one another. They also react when arriving at different train stops.

The Wash & Fuel Set comes with
33 pieces including Brewster the train

Photo by M.Adcock
At the Chug Wash, Brewster the train will say, “Wash up!” and respond to different wash cycles. At the Fuel Depot he’ll exclaim, “Time to fill up!” When this set is used with other Chuggington interactive products it boasts over 175 sounds and phrases.

The figure-8 shaped track uses easy-to-connect plastic tracks. The Wash & Fuel Set includes Brewster the train, Chug Wash, Fuel Depot, signal gate, overhead signal, and tracks. Kids can collect other Chuggington interactive sets and connect them to make a huge fun playset.

The Chuggington Wash & Fuel Set has easy instructions to follow. Made for ages 3+, parents can find the set at Toys R Us for $39.99. The set requires 8 AA batteries (2 included in engine, others not included).

Learning Curve products at the Time to Play
press event in New York City

Photo by M.Adcock
For more info:  Visit www.chuggington.com to view all Chuggington products and for more product details. Learning Curve Brands, Inc. markets infact, toddler, and preschool products under the brands: The First Years, Lamaze, JJ Cole Collections, as well as popular and classic licensed properties.

Note: The author viewed products and met with Learning Curve at the Time to Play toy event in New York City.

Disclosure:
Author received a product sample solely for the purpose of this review. Author did not receive any other compensation. All opinions expressed are those of the author.

6/29/11

Embracing Asperger’s by Richard Bromfield, PhD – Book Review

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Richard Bromfield's new book is a
primer for parents and professionals
.
Image: Amazon.com
Richard Bromfield’s book, Embracing Asperger’s, offers a solid primer for parents and professionals who interact with children diagnosed with Asperger’s . In an effort to bring a greater understanding of the Asperger's child, Bromfield incorporates his 30 years of family clinical experience into this book.

Children with Asperger’s may encounter delays in the development of skills such socialization, communication, and imagination. Though similar to autism, it is not the same - autism generally is a more severe type of pervasive development disorder (PDD).  

Bromfield states, “My experience has taught me that parents and educators want information and insight, even when it challenges them. They want honesty and frankness, not sugar-coated pabulum that goes down easy but offers empty calories and false reassurance.”

He continues, “Parents and teachers alike know too well the feeling that they are not quite reaching the child, that they are not quite hearing and getting it, that they are not communicating just right or at all.”

Bromfield provides strategies and clear action items to connect with these children. Though at times the writing appears clinical, he balances it with personal examples from his private practice where he worked with children with Asperger’s. These real-life stories provide an additional layer of depth to understanding the condition.

To present a look into how the book is organized, chapters include:
  1. The Child’s Burden
  2. The Child’s View
  3. The Parent’s View
  4. The Teacher’s View
  5. Creating a Safe Place
  6. Treasuring Previous Goods
  7. Quieting Sensory Overload
  8. Quelling Anxiety
  9. Facilitating Communication
  10. Tending the Intellect
  11. Connecting to Feelings
  12. Promoting Friendship
  13. Giving and Nurturing Empathy
  14. Feeding Creativity
  15. Considering Girls
  16. Other Children’s Views
  17. Butterfly Love
  18. Connecting It All
Embracing Asperger’s is a quick but informative read at 176 pages. Published in June 2011 by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, parents and professionals can find the book at Amazon.com and other major book retailers.

Non-fiction
ISBN-10: 1849058180
ISBN-13: 978-1849058186

About the Author: Richard Bromfield, PhD, is a graduate of Bowdoin College and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A faculty member of Harvard medical School, he writes about children, psychotherapy, and family life in both professional and popular periodicals. He has a private practice in Boston, MA.

Also by the Author:
Doing Therapy with Children and Adolescents with Asperger’s Syndrome (Wiley)
Teens in Therapy: Making It Their Own (W.W. Norton)
Doing Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy (Wiley)
Playing for Real: Exploring Child Therapy and the Inner Worlds of Children (Basil)
How to Unspoil Your Child Fast: A Speedy, Complete Guide to Contented Children and Happy Parents (Sourcebooks)
How to Write and Cite APA-Style-6th (Basil)

Disclosure: Author received a copy of the book solely for the purpose of this review. Author did not receive any other compensation. All opinions expressed are those of the author. 

Stay in Touch:  Please subscribe and follow me by providing your email address in the designated areas on the right side of this website, follow me on Twitter (@BiculturalMama) and "Like" me on Bicultural Mama's Facebook page.

6/28/11

Bicultural Band "The Ladies of Sport" Features Japanese Twins and an East Coast Guy

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The Ladies of Sport featuring Ann, Rich, and Mary
Image courtesy of The Ladies of Sport
Today's post features the band The Ladies of Sport. The bicultural band members hail from New Jersey and Tokyo. 

One February New York City evening, two sisters newly moved from Los Angeles sought escape from the blustering 2°F chill. Ann and Mary Kohatsu happened to stumble into The Library, a Lower East Side dive bar, where Rich DeCicco just happened to be drinking.  East coast man next door meets striking Japanese twin ladies, forever changing each other’s lives. This unlikely trio of musicians forms the Brooklyn-based alt-pop band, The Ladies of Sport.

The band’s debut album Empires Fall launched in February of 2009.  Subtle grooves support this record packed with catchy songs. Starting in May 2011, new singles released by The Ladies of Sport juxtapose elements of their old sound with added edge. With more organic elements like acoustic guitar and live drums, the latest tracks are more aggressive and biting, yet still melodic and catchy. 

Lead singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist Rich DeCicco’s divulges, “I’ve spent a lot of my early 30s thinking about mortality. Many of the lyrics in the new singles build from Buddhist ideas on impermanence and desire. I practice Vipassana meditation, which is mostly about clearing the mind…it helps me to let go and enjoy the creative process for what it is, without worrying about the end product. It’s about getting over things you can’t control…the grasping at stuff and trying to hold it to you when it’s all going to be gone and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

The new single, Bridge to Brooklyn, echoes this sentiment, observing how the city offers amazing opportunities yet can slowly steal the life from you. Another track, Irish Brothers speaks to conflicting feelings about his closeness to his siblings, yet still feeling like an outsider.

He was the favorite/Everyone knows
Too big for this world/Too big for his clothes
Frank as a murder/Strongly opposed
And me a black jellybean always on retreat
A beggar in a world of kings and queens
Observing ecstasy
- “Irish Brothers”

All of The Ladies of Sport releases are available on iTunes and at TheLadiesOfSport.com, with the latter hosting exclusive B-Sides and instrumental versions. The band members are always busy writing and recording, and fans who follow the band on Facebook and Twitter can keep up to date with their new releases.

The Ladies of Sport are all products of musical parents. Rich’s parents knew it was time to buy a drumset when at age 4, he ruined their pots and pans. Mary and Ann’s father worked for Yamaha demonstrating early model synthesizers, and their mother sang and played drums. As children the twin’s parents forced them to improvise on musical instruments, a practice they resented, but now an asset for their roles in The Ladies of Sport.

Growing up on opposite coasts, they all developed into very different souls. Rich is tempestuous and prone to anger while the twins are graceful and patient. Their songs reflect these differences, contributing to the great depth shown by The Ladies of Sport.  

Note: The Ladies of Sport biography was published with permission by Rich DeCicco. This biography was originally written by Maria Wen Adcock, also the creator of BiculturalMama.com, for the band's usage for its website and other promotional materials. 

6/27/11

From India to Indiana - A Tale of Two Worlds

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Deepak Kothavade with wife Sharda
and twins Meera and Gautam.

Photo courtesy of D.Kothavade
By Guest Writer Deepak Kothavade

Culture is generally defined as the arts, customs, inventions, language, technology, traditions etc created by a group. In keeping with the theme of this blog on understanding and accepting different cultures, through this post I hope to present my experience as it relates to the language/communication aspect of a culture.

I was born, brought up, and spoilt (!) in Mumbai, India. I came to the U.S. in the Fall of ’98 for business graduate studies at Indiana University. This was my first ever visit to the U.S. (anywhere outside India for that matter), so it was a big change for me. Among the many cultural adjustments I had to go through when I first moved here, I think the most amusing one was trying to understand the American accent.

Though English is not my native language, I have always been very fluent in it. I had to be - all of my education right from kindergarten through the undergraduate program was in English!! But, when I first came here it felt as if English was an alien language. I used to have a hard time understanding what was being said. And the reverse was true too where folks would struggle to understand what I said. Obviously, it was because of our respective accents. In those early days, there were many amusing, and sometimes frustrating, incidents. Since I came here as a student, most of them happened at school.

When classes began at my graduate program, imagine my horror when I could not grasp what the professor or classmates would be saying. It used to take my brain a good 15-20 minutes to tune to the newer accent before I could realize what was going on. With 45 minute sessions, that is about one-third of the class gone wondering what in the world is going on. To make matters even more interesting, our grades were partially tied to class participation. I used to come home from school thinking how in the world am I going to earn that part of my grade when I am practically clueless as to what’s going on in the classroom?!

There were even funnier stories when we had to work on our class assignments. Some of them were to be done in a group setting and a similar pattern repeated – the first few minutes of the group meeting, I would be clueless. I only prayed that in those few foggy minutes my classmates weren’t asking me to do something. Well, maybe they did and I didn’t know! (To my former teammates: if you thought I was clueless…you were right!)

Of course with time my brain slowly got tuned to the new accent and normal order was restored. Years later when work took me to the Far East Asian countries, I found myself very quickly adjusting to the different English accents of the locals there. I wondered if my past experience played a role in that. I experienced something similar when I travelled to other parts of the world and encountered different English accents. I now firmly believe that my bi- and multicultural experience helped.

Deepak Kothavade traded Indiana for the even more un-India-like weather of Minnesota.  He resides in the suburbs of Minneapolis with his wife Sharda and twin wonders Meera and Gautam.

6/24/11

Interracial Dating and Family Approval Poll Results

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Happy Couple!
Photo courtesy of M.Adcock

In my most recent poll I asked the question, “If you've dated someone of another race, did your family approve?” Here are the results:

  • Yes – 55%

  • No – 10%

  • No at first, but eventually Yes – 19%

  • I don’t know – 6%

  • I’ve never dated anyone of another race – 10%

Though this was an unscientific poll, the results are encouraging with almost three quarters of participants’ families approving – whether immediately or later – of interracial dating.  Hopefully this is a good sign of the direction attitudes are moving towards regarding interracial dating.

Please vote in my new poll on racist comments located in the upper right area of this website. The new poll is open for one week.


6/23/11

Winner Announced for PediaSure Giveaway

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PediaSure - A nutritional drink for
growing kids and picky eaters.

Image: PediaSure.com
Congratulations to Angie B., the winner of the Bicultural Mama Pediasure Giveaway! The mom from Pennsylvania submitted this entry as to why she’d like to try PediaSure:

"My toddler is getting to be a very picky eater. I have a hard time getting meats other than chicken and veggies into him. I have to get creative. This would be a nice supplement."

Angie wins the following prizes:
  • One 8 oz. PediaSure chocolate shake
  • One 8 oz. PediaSure vanilla shake
  • Four $2.00 coupons off any PediaSure product (including PediaSure Sidekicks for picky eaters) – Total value equals $8.00 worth of coupons.
Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway!

Disclosure:  Winner was chosen using Random.org. Author did not receive samples or other compensation for this post/giveaway. All opinions expressed are those of the author.

6/22/11

Is the Brazilian Peel an Antidote for Aging?

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The Brazilian Peel is the first professional
strength single-step at-home glycolic treatment.

Photo by M.Adcock
The package for Brazilian Peel, a professional strength glycolic açai anti-oxidant facial treatment by Advanced Home Actives, stated the claim, “Antidote for Aging.” The Brazilian Peel was also the #1 skincare product sold at Sephora and won the Allure Magazine Reader's Choice Breakthrough Award. So when the company approached me to review this product, I jumped at the chance - as a busy mom always on the go I could use a good facial treatment.

The manufacturer stated that its Brazilian Peel offered the first professional strength single-step at-home glycolic treatment and that it was 5x stronger than the average at-home peel. One of its main ingredients, açai, was a natural antioxidant from the Brazilian rainforest that was known to counteract the damaging effects of free radicals to brighten, smooth, firm, and tone skin.

I received a one month’s supply (4 applications). Each applicator contained pre-measured amounts of the peel and neutralizer which were stored in two separate chambers. The directions said to “Open one Brazilian Peel syringe.” I saw the word “syringe” and cringed, thinking, “What? I have to inject this into my face with a needle?” Upon further observation I determined there were no needles involved – it was just a poor word choice (note to manufacturer, just say “applicator”).

To dispense the two formulas simultaneously, I simply pushed in one end of the applicator into the palm of my hand. A white cream and a clear gel came out which I then mixed together with my fingers. The directions said to expect a warm sensation; the heat was actually more intense than expected. I was worried the peel would burn my face, but it was fine when I applied it to my skin.  I felt the clear peel tighten as it dried. After 10 minutes, I rinsed it off with warm water.

The manufacturer made four claims on its packaging. After using the Brazilian Peel for four weeks, my results are listed below next to its claims:
The syringe-shaped applicators contained
two capsules: one with the peel and one
with the neutralizer.

Photo by M.Adcock
  • Instantly firms, noticeably smoothes and brightens with just one use – Yes, my skin did experience these attributes after the first application.
  • Visibly reduces fine lines and wrinkles after four weekly applications – Perhaps the peel reduced some fine lines slightly, but I did not have many wrinkles to begin with so it was hard to tell.
  • Maintains a radiant, youthful complexion with continued weekly use – I did not radiate every day, but a lot depended on other factors like sleep, diet, exercise, your menstrual cycle, and more. The days my skin glowed, I cannot be sure if it was due to the Brazilian Peel or something simple like getting enough sleep the night before.
  • Won’t cause redness or irritation – Yes, the Brazilian Peel was surprisingly gentle. Unlike many other peels, I did not experience redness or dryness. 
Would I claim the Brazilian Peel was an antidote for aging? Well, that’s a very strong finite claim. I would instead say that the Brazilian Peel left my face feeling refreshed, firmer, cleaner, and brighter. I liked the at-home convenience and thought is was an affordable alternative to pricey professional peels. If you’re looking to use a peel at home, then sure, give this a try. If you’re looking for the fountain of youth, well, let me know when you find it.

For more info: Advance Home Actives Brazilian Peel retails for $78.00 for a one month supply of four weekly treatments (breaks down to $19.50/week) or $23 for a single treatment. Brazilian Peel is available online at advancedhomeactives.com, Brazilianpeel.com Sephora stores and Sephora.com!

Disclosure: Author received product samples solely for the purpose of this review/post. Author did not receive any other compensation. All opinions expressed are those of the author. 

Stay in Touch:  Please subscribe and follow me by providing your email address in the designated areas on the right side of this website, follow me on Twitter (@BiculturalMama) and "Like" me on Bicultural Mama's Facebook page.

6/21/11

Miracle-Gro Kids Greenhouse Not Always a Miracle But Still a Good Lesson

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Image of what a successful
greenhouse should look like.

Photo courtesy of Peachtree Playthings
When Peachtree Playthings approached me to review its new Miracle-Gro Kids Ready, Set, Gro Greenhouse, I was the perfect candidate. Like most kids I didn’t have much gardening experience so this greenhouse kit was at my ability level. I received the Vegetable Garden version that included tomatoes, sweet peppers, eggplant, and cucumbers. I envisioned harvesting a garden full of delicious vegetables to use in my summer recipes.

The success of growing something from a seed to plant depended on many factors: seed quality, dirt quality, sunlight, water, temperature, etc. The ideal environment had the best of these, but reality was that some households may not. I’m not sure where my house fell within this spectrum so before I describe my experience, I should state upfront that eventually all four sets of seed sprouted.

The Miracle-Gro Ready, Set, Gro
Vegetable Garden Greenhouse Kit

Photo by M.Adcock
Playtree Playthings provided this description about the greenhouse kit:
(Ages 5 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $12.99 /Available: Spring 2011) Growing flowers and vegetables any time of year is easy with the Miracle-Gro Kids Greenhouse. Together with the specially formulated Miracle-Gro Gro-Mix, the Greenhouse gardening set is designed to promote optimal growing conditions both in and out of season! The convenient lift-off lid makes for easy watering and on-going plant care.  In addition, the Greenhouse kit includes seed packets, plant marking stakes, a planting stick, a Gro-Chart and plant care instructions. Whether you choose the vegetable garden or the flower garden variety, you will enjoy watching the plants grow and tracking their progress!  Adult supervision recommended.

The Gro-Mix expands in the
Gro-Pods when mixed with water.

Photo by M.Adcock
My Experience:

Step 1: Get Ready
The Gro-Mix came in flat round tablets that enlarged when mixed with water. They were easy to use and there was a “cool” factor to watching the tablets expand within the Gro-Pod containers.

Step 2: Get Set
The greenhouse set included packets with more seeds than initially needed – save those for later just in case the first batch of seeds don’t sprout. Per directions I planted 4 to 5 seeds in each container and used the planting stick to cover them with a thin layer of Gro-Mix. The set included plant stakes with a picture of each vegetable, and I inserted them into their respective Gro-Pods. The instructions said to water the seeds. It was easier for me to bring the small Gro-Pod containers to the sink – my mistake as I didn’t know they had small holes in the bottom, and as results the water leaked out before I could bring them to the greenhouse.

Assembling the greenhouse proved
challenging, but perseverance won!

Photo by M.Adcock
Next step was to assemble the greenhouse – an exercise in frustration. The illustrated instructions did not clearly indicate which side of the plastic walls were suppose to face inwards versus outwards and which ends should go up versus down. There was definitely only one way to assemble the greenhouse correctly because when not done properly, the whole thing fell apart like a house of cards. The walls need to be marked better and should also have deeper end grooves to hold them together better. After several failed attempts I finally put the greenhouse together. With the lid the greenhouse measures approximately 7”H x 7”L x 7”D.

Cucumber Gro-Pod was moved to a
larger pot (the missing pod).
Tomato did well initially.
Eggplant and Red Pepper are doing
well in their second round.
Photo by M.Adcock
Step 3: Grow
I placed the greenhouse near a window, kept the lid on the greenhouse, and made sure the soil was never dry. It would have been helpful if the directions had provided an estimate of when to expect the seeds to sprout. Otherwise I didn’t know whether to attribute the lack of growth to either not waiting long enough, failed seeds, or something else.

Within a few days mold covered the Gro-Mix in all four containers. However, even with the grayish white mold fuzz, the tomato and cucumber sprouted within two days. After a couple of weeks the mold died off.

Tomato – Sprouted right away. Within a week grew to about 2.5” then withered. Tried planting new seeds, but two weeks later nothing had sprouted.

Cucumber – This plant performed the best. Within a week it shot up to 5.5” and I was able to move it to a larger pot.

Eggplant and Sweet Pepper – Both failed to sprout after a week. I reseeded them and am happy to say both now have sprouted to 2 inches tall.

The End Result
The last stage of the process is to plant the seedlings outside in the ground where they can flourish and grow vegetables - a much longer process. I’m hoping that by the end of the summer I’ll be able to eat homegrown vegetables.

Overall I liked the concept of teaching kids how to grow their own food. A friend of mine said that after bringing her toddlers to a farm to pick fruits and vegetables, the kids didn’t complain about eating these healthy foods and even wanted to consume more. The Miracle-Gro Kids Ready, Set, Gro Greenhouse was like having your own little farm in your house. The reality was that it was hard to grow plants from seeds. That’s why nurseries sell seedlings so that you already have a head start and a better chance of success. If you purchase this greenhouse kit for your kids, just make sure to stay involved and explain the process along the way to ensure they’re learning even if you don’t end up with a vegetable garden outside.

Disclosure: I met Peachtree Playthings and viewed its Spring 2011 new product line at the Time to Play event in New York City. I received a free sample solely for the purpose of this product review. I did not receive any other compensation. All opinions expressed are my own.

For more info: Visit www.Peachtreeplaythings.com for additional product details.

6/19/11

Spirit Airline Sends Customers Weiner Emails

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Spirit Airline's first email to its customers
Image from M.Adcock
I recently received two emails from Spirit Airlines that were filled with sexual innuendos. I was surprised that this airline resorted to such measures to tout its $9 fares. The low fare in itself would have been enticing enough to make me open the email. The emails, filled with references to weiners, had nothing to do with its brand. What do weiners have to do with the quality, perception, and strength of the Spirit Airlines brand? It seemed a lazy ploy to get people to open emails. I am flying Spirit Airlines next month and had booked online; thus, I'm receiving their emails. It seems a puzzling way to get their own customers' attention.

I was asked to be a guest writer on the marketing and social media sites Content to Commerce and MOMentum EVP and Managing Director, Holly Pavlika who I had met via Twitter. We connected as both of us were moms with marketing backgrounds. To read my entire guest post on Spirit Airlines and to view their full weiner emails, please CLICK HERE.
Spirit Airline's second email to its customers.
Image from M.Adcock

6/17/11

For Father’s Day, Favorite Childhood Memory – Piano Competition Day

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My dad and I when I was a 1 year old.
Photo by A.Wen
In honor of Father Day on June 19th, one of my favorite childhood memories took place at my piano competition when I was about 12 years old. My dad drove me to the event held at a college campus far away. “You will do fine. You practiced a lot. Just do your best,” he assured. I didn’t want to make mistakes in front of the judges, and I wanted to be one of the pianists called back to perform at the winner’s recital the next day.

I was nervous while waiting for my turn. The black Steinway & Sons grand piano loomed center stage in the huge recital hall. I sat with sweaty hands and a rapidly beating heart. The other pianists, all the same age, seemed so much more accomplished and mistake-free.

I looked at my dad, and he nodded with a smile. When it was time for my performance, I walked up the stage stairs. The clicking of the soles on my patent leather shoes pierced the silence. I eased into the black cushioned piano seat, took a deep breath, and played. My fingers took over, and my mind focused. I performed both songs well, and took a bow. All smiles I searched for my father while walking off the stage. I found him beaming back at me and clapping.

Practicing piano at 7 years old.
Photo by W.Wen
On the drive home my dad announced he would take me to lunch anywhere. Since we usually only ate at home, I held a strong fascination for restaurants. I had heard about a fancy one in our hometown called MacKinnon’s that served American food.

We entered the restaurant filled with people who looked at least my dad’s age if not older. However, they did not look like him - not surprising given the demographics of our small Midwest town. The customers were dressed nicely, eating at tables covered with pressed white tablecloths and dabbing their mouths with white cloth napkins.

We ate at a small table in the back of the restaurant. I opened the menu to find entrees with elaborate names and pricing that entered the double digits. I did not know what to order; everything involved a big slab of cooked meat unlike the small pieces found in my mother’s stir fry dishes.

I ordered some sort of chicken breast covered in white sauce. I cut it up into small pieces with the heavy knife and fork. My dad and I talked about the competition, and he told me I did a great job. I could not finish the large meal and felt bad since I was the one who wanted to go there. My dad said it was okay, and when the bill came he glanced at it with a straight face while giving the waiter his credit card.

On the way home he did not mention anything about my restaurant choice, the food, or the bill. Although he would not have chosen this restaurant himself, I know he did it for me. This is what favorite childhood memories with your father are about – knowing he loves you no matter what.

Later that day I received a call announcing my win at the piano competition. Sure enough, my dad was there to drive me to the winner’s recital the next day.

What was your favorite memory with your father?

6/16/11

Not Just Bottled Water, Aquafina Launches Personal Care Line

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Aquafina Purifying Daily Cleanser
and Daily Balance & Clarity Toner

Images from AquafinaSkinCare.com

Who knew Aquafina sold more than just bottled water? Aquafina, the number one brand of bottled water, introduced its Skin Care, Bath & Body, and Lip Care lines. Using the slogan, “What Your Skin Thirsts For™,” the brand boasted superior hydration benefits with groundbreaking, anti-aging products. Aquafina stated its products have a patented, breakthrough delivery system that enables ingredients to work better, faster, and longer.  

I sampled two products in the Aquafina Advanced Hydration Rx skin care line. I used these products for a couple of weeks and noted my observations below.

The Purifying Daily Cleanser
produces a foam lather.

Photo by M.Adcock
Purifying Daily Cleanser
The slim white and blue bottle featured an easy-to-press airless pump. I pressed a dollop of foam cleanser into my hand and noted the fresh light scent. I gently massaged the lather onto my face and rinsed with warm water. My face felt pleasantly clean. The cleanser was gentle enough to use every day and the packaging stated it was fine for all skin types. (6 oz./Average Retail Price $5.00)

Daily Balance & Clarity Toner
Light blue liquid filled the clear toner bottle topped with a screwed-on cap. I used it after washing my face by dabbing toner into a cotton ball. The toner did a good job of removing residual makeup, and it also left my face feeling fresh and clean. My pores were noticeably smaller. Enriched with botanical extracts, this gentle toner can be used several times a day. (6.5 oz./Average Retail Price $5.00)

The Daily Balance & Clarity
toner removed oil and dirt.

Photo by M.Adcock
The prices were in line with other non-premium personal care items, and the ones I tried worked well. I recommend the cleanser and toner and would also be opened to trying other products in the Aquafina personal care line.

For more info:
The Aquafina Skin Care line also includes Intensive Under Eye Cream retailing for $14.00. The Aquafina Bath & Body line consists of Body Wash (ARP $5.00), Bath & Shower Gel (ARP $5.00), and Body Butter (ARP $6.00).  The Lip Care line includes Lip Balm (ARP $3.99), FlavorSplash Lip Balm (ARP $4.99 for 4 pack), and Lip Oil (ARP $1.99 single or $3.99 for 3 pack). Visit www.AquafinaSkincare.com for more details.

Aquafina is a trademark of PepsiCo, Inc. and is distributed for and by Added Extras, LLC based in New York City.

Disclosure: Author received product samples solely for the purpose of this review/post. Author did not receive any other compensation. All opinions expressed are those of the author. 

Stay in Touch:  Please subscribe and follow me by providing your email address in the designated areas on the right side of this website, follow me on Twitter (@BiculturalMama) and "Like" me on Bicultural Mama's Facebook page.

6/15/11

New Weekly Poll on BiculturalMama.com

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Visit every week to view
poll results!

Image: Google Blogger
New to BiculturalMama.com is a weekly poll, located in the top right of the website. It’s a fun way to interact and see what other readers are thinking. All submissions are anonymous. I cannot track back who submitted votes so be as honest as you want. Some questions will deal with biculturalism, some with raising a family, and others may be random. Hopefully readers will find the questions fun and interesting.

Give it a try and vote today!

6/14/11

Baby Food as a Toddler Snack?

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My 2-year old loves eating what she calls,
"Squeezies" though she doesn't always
love it when mama takes her picture.

Photo by M.Adcock
A friend once told me she gave baby food to her 3 year old as a snack. “Hasn’t he moved on to solids?” I asked and pictured a toddler scooping drippy baby food out of a glass jar. My friend clarified she gave her son only baby food that came in pouches. In this way he ate more vegetables and fruit since he thought it was fun to squeeze the pouches. Companies like Plum Organics, Sprout, and Happy Baby all sell baby food in pouches and they’re all organic.

What is baby food? It’s simply pureed food. Adults eat blended foods like tomato soup and applesauce. Baby food is the same, just packaged differently.

Food manufacturers have already produced products for kids in squeezable packaging. Yoplait GoGurt is a long thin tear-top pouch filled with yogurt. Earth’s Best just launched a line of yogurt smoothies in packaging similar to the baby food pouches. French-based Materne sells applesauce in a pouch under the “GoGo Squeez” brand in the U.S.

Some parents may question providing kids with packaged versus fresh produce. I don’t think the question is about replacing fresh foods, but more of getting picky toddlers to eat additional servings.

One of the many brands of baby
food pouches available.

Image from babiesrus.com
Like many toddlers, my daughter is open to eating fresh fruits and vegetables, but not all of the time. I tried the Plum Organics pouch with her and it worked to overcome her pickiness. She calls them “Squeezies” and loves to well…squeeze them. I love that the Stage 1 and 2 pouches have resealable caps. The pouches are convenient when traveling and don’t need refrigeration unless opened. Plum Organics does offer a line of pureed snacks for toddlers called, “Mish Mash,” but these are smaller in size than the Stage 2 pouches and come in fewer varieties.

The baby food pouch volume range from 3 oz. to 4.22 oz. and price from about $1.19-$1.49 depending on the brand and size. The key is to purchase in bulk when they’re on sale, often for $1.00 each. For example, Babies R Us recently promoted the baby food pouches 10/$10.

Sure it may be less expensive to make your own baby food, but that’s not the point. For toddlers, it’s the squeeze factor that makes them want to eat more fruits and vegetables.

What other ways have you used baby food besides their intended use for babies?

Disclosure: Author did not receive any samples or compensation for this post. All opinions stated are those of the author.

6/13/11

Germy Kitchen? New Dish Liquid Kills 99.9% of Kitchen Bacteria

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New! Ultra Palmolive Antibacterial
Dish Liquid

Photo: Colgate.com
The summer months pose the largest threat of food borne illnesses due to the heat which increases the chance of bacterial growth in food. Did you know these harmful germs tend to grow in foods high in protein and/or moisture such as meats, seafood, dairy products, vegetables, and egg dishes? Bacteria can easily spread from food to dishes, utensils, and other ingredients.  

One step you can take to reduce the chance of bacterial contamination is to start food prep with clean dishes. New Ultra Palmolive Antibacterial Dish Liquid is the only dish liquid approved to kill 99.9 percent of E. coli, Salmonella, and Staph on dishes and non-porous surfaces in 30 seconds.

I sampled the new Ultra Palmolive Antibacterial Dish Liquid for several weeks. I could easily hold the clear plastic container due to its ergonomic design. The wide green cap at the top was easy to pull up and push down even with longer nails. The orange color of the dish liquid reminded me of other antibacterial products like hand soap.

I noticed the packaging stated PHOSPHATE FREE in bold capped letters. Not familiar with this, I searched the web and found this explanation:

Phosphate Free: Phosphates, which are salts of phosphoric acid, are used extensively for various industrial and agricultural purposes, including use in detergents. Consequently, phosphates leach into rivers and other waterways, where they serve as a food source for algae. In turn, excessive algae growth reduces the oxygen levels of those waters, killing native fish and other aquatic creatures.

Given the description above, it was definitely a bonus that the Ultra Palmolive Antibacterial Dish Liquid lacked phosphates.

The dish liquid cut grease and left dishes
clean and shiny.

Photo by M.Adcock
I tested the dish liquid on many greasy baked-on dinner plates. The dish liquid cut the grease easily and left the dishes with a sparkling shine. It worked just as well as other dish liquids I’ve used, and it was nice to know I was also killing harmful bacteria that could make my family ill.

The suggested retail price for the three sizes available is affordable and in line with other dish liquid pricing: 10 oz./$1.99, 20 oz./$3.49, and 30 oz./$4.49. Mass retail and grocery stores nationwide carry this product.

My conclusion – the new Ultra Palmolive Antibacterial Dish Liquid achieved its main purpose to clean dishes. Though I could not see the product actually killing germs, knowing that it had antibacterial properties was a huge bonus.

For more info: Ultra Palmolive Antibacterial Dish Liquid is manufactured by the Colgate-Palmolive company based in New York City. Visit www.colgate.com for additional details.

Disclosure: Author received product samples solely for the purpose of this review/post. Author did not receive any other compensation. All opinions expressed are those of the author. 

Stay in Touch:  To read future postings like this, please sign up to subscribe and follow me by email at the right of the blog, follow on Twitter (@BiculturalMama) and "Like" on Bicultural Mama's Facebook page.

6/10/11

Race Check Box: Can’t Pick Just One

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What to do when your race
falls within two?

Image by M.Adcock
Elaine, a Chinese-American mother of two married to a Caucasian man, encountered a dilemma when registering her son for kindergarten. The New Jersey mom noticed that the race section of the form allowed parents to choose only one race check box.

“I found myself facing my first cultural dilemma,” Elaine explained. “Do I check Caucasian, Asian, or Other? I didn't like that I had to choose ONE. I polled my Facebook friends who are mixed and got answers like, 'I check other' or 'I check what will benefit my situation the most.' Some identified with one race more than the other depending on how they were raised.”

I have not had to deal with this situation yet as my toddler is only 2 years old, but I know one day a similar situation will occur. In my previous post The Minority Majority Future of America I included stats that indicated minorities were growing at a faster rate than Whites. The stats also showed the growth of interracial marriages. With these trends apparent, why do forms still force people to choose one race box?

The good news is that the U.S. government has acknowledge this growth. Since 2000 the Census has allowed respondents to check all races that applied. The Census takes place only every 10 years so we’re not talking about everyday forms, but it’s a start.

How do you handle the race check box if you’re biracial?

6/9/11

Star Wars Mini Lightsaber, Dino Poop, and Tarantula Planet - New Toys from Uncle Milton

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At the Time to Play Magazine Toy Industry Event in New York City, toy manufacturer Uncle Milton introduced its lineup of new toys. The items below highlights Uncle Milton’s innovative and fun Spring/Summer toy launches.

Are you a Jedi or Sith?
Image from UncleMilton.com
STAR WARS Dark Side Detector Mini Lightsaber (Ages 6+, SRP $12.99)
The perfect toy for little Star Wars fan! Are you a Jedi or a Sith? This mini lightsaber changes color to let you know. If you belong to the Light Side, the blade will turn blue. If you belong to the Dark Side, the blade will turn red. 

Not only is this toy fun to battle with, but kids will also learn about the science of electricity while building the mini lightsaber. The package includes:
  • 6 pieces for the mini lightsaber
  • LED light source
  • Fun and informative learning guide
  • 3 button cell batteries
  • Educational poster

Dig and play in Dino Poop
Image from UncleMilton.com

Dinosaur Train Dino Poop (Ages 4+, SRP $7.99)
What did the dinosaur eat today? Kids can discover this and more with Dino Poop. Based on the popular PBS kid’s series Dinosaur Train, the kit includes:
  • 1 Pile of Dino Poop
  • 1 Set of toy bones, toy plants or both
  • 1 Container
The soft and pliable dough is stiffer than Play-doh, but still moldable since it is made of modeling compound. Kids can make fossil imprints with the bones or plants which they can dig out of the poop. From there, they can determine what type of dinosaur made the pile. For example, if there are only bones, then the dinosaur was a carnivore. If there are plants, the dinosaur was an herbivore. The color of the dough gives a clue; the herbivore Dino Poop is green while the other versions are dark brown.

Varieties include: Buddy - Carnivore, Tank - Herbivore, and Mr. Conductor - Omnivore.

Red Beard "The Pirate"
Image from UncleMilton.com
Tarantula Planet Creepy Crawlin’ Pets (Ages 5+, SRP $9.99)
These sound-activated creepy crawlers move and their eyes light up when you clap your hands. Kids will be thrilled watching these 5” long tarantulas race across the room.
  • Collectibles include:
  • Red Beard “The Pirate”
  • Octane “The Racer”
  • Spike “The Rocker”
  • Tango “The Soldier”
Figures require 3 Button Cell batteries (included). Other Tarantula Planet accessories and toys are available at major retailers like Toys R Us and Amazon.com. Don’t be surprise if junior sticks one of these in mom and dad’s bed to scare them! 

Uncle Milton's display table at the Time to Play event
Photo by M.Adcock
For more info: Visit www.unclemilton.com for product details. 

Disclosure: Author receive product samples solely for the purpose of this review/post. Author did not receive any other compensation. All opinions expressed are those of the author. 

Stay in Touch:  “Like” me on Facebook: Bicultural Mama, follow me on Twitter (@BiculturalMama) or visit and subscribe at www.BiculturalMama.com.

6/8/11

Win PediaSure Samples and $8.00 Worth of Coupons - GIVEAWAY CLOSED

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One lucky winner will win PediaSure samples
and $8.00 worth of PediaSure coupons

Photo by M.Adcock
Win a chance to receive PediaSure samples and $8.00 worth of PediaSure coupons through Bicultural Mama's giveaway. PediaSure offers complete balanced nutrition to help kids grow. It provides 23 vitamins and minerals, contains prebiotics and antioxidants, and is an excellent source of DHA Omega-3. PediaSure is the #1 pediatrician recommended brand of nutritional drinks for toddlers/children. It’s suitable for lactose intolerance and is gluten-free.

One lucky winner will receive the following:
  • One 8 oz. PediaSure chocolate shake
  • One 8 oz. PediaSure vanilla shake
  • Four $2.00 coupons off any PediaSure product (including PediaSure Sidekicks for picky eaters) – Total value equals $8.00 worth of coupons.
For more information on PediaSure, visit www.pediasure.com.

PediaSure products
Image: PediSure.com

TO ENTER:
Please leave a comment below at the end of this post and say why you want to try Pediasure (mandatory entry). Please ensure you leave a way for me to contact you (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Email).

Bonus Entries: Please leave a separate comment for each entry/action taken below to ensure your entry is counted.

1) Follow @BiculturalMama on Twitter and tweet the following:
“#GIVEAWAY PediaSure Samples & $8 of Coupons @BiculturalMama http://t.co/q0XEt3X” (Can enter 1x/day leaving a separate comment for each)

2) View the Facebook page for Bicultural Mama and feel free to LIKE the page. Post on your Facebook status: “ Win PediaSure Samples & $8 of Coupons via BiculturalMama http://t.co/q0XEt3X” (Can enter 1x/day leaving a separate comment for each)

3) Subscribe To blog updates via the RSS Post feed on the right of the blog (one entry)

4) Follow by Email by entering your email address in the area on the right of the blog (one entry)

5) Follow on Google Friend Connect by pressing the Follow button on the right of the blog (one entry)

This giveaway is only open to U.S. residents 18 years and older with a valid street address. Giveaway ends on Wednesday, June 22, 2011 at 12:00 pm EST. Comments submitted after the deadline will not count. One winner will be selected randomly by random.org and be notified via e-mail, Twitter, or Facebook. Winner must respond within 48 hours or will forfeit winning the prize(s). 

Disclosure:  Author did not receive any free samples or other compensation for this post/giveaway. All opinions expressed are those of the author.

6/7/11

Fujifilm and Rite Aid’s Moms, Dads and Grads Photo Contest Offers 28 Prizes and Daily Giveaways

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Celebrate moms, dads, and grads through the
Fujifilm and Rite Aid photo contest.

Photo by M.Adcock
Film manufacturer Fujifilm and drugstore retailer Rite Aid are partnering to sponsor the Moms, Dads, and Grads Photo Contest. Running through July 1st, the contest will award 28 winners for photos submitted into these categories:
  1. That's My Mom
  2. Mom: Then & Now
  3. Mom: Generations
  4. That's My Dad
  5. Dad: Then & Now
  6. Dad: Generations
  7. That's My Grad
  8. Grad: Then & Now
  9. Grad: Generations
Prizes
GRAND PRIZE: One winner will be awarded a trip for four to either San Diego, Calif.; New York City, N.Y. or Montreal, Canada. In addition, the winner will receive a $250 Rite Aid gift card, a linen-bound hard cover photo book created at Rite Aid’s Photo Center, and a high-quality photo print and pinnacle frame.

First, second, and third prizes will be awarded to nine winners in each contest category for a total of twenty-seven prizes:
  • 1st PRIZE: Nine winners will receive a FUJIFILM Finepix HS20EXR camera, a digital photography course from the New York Institute of Photography, a $150 Rite Aid Gift Card, a linen-bound, hard cover photo book created at Rite Aid’s Photo Center, an 11x14 Pinnacle photo frame, and an additional free photo gift of their choice.
  • 2nd PRIZE: Nine winners will receive a FUJIFILM Finepix F550EXR camera, a $100 Rite Aid Gift Card, a linen-bound, hard cover photo book created at Rite Aid’s Photo Center, an 11x14 Pinnacle photo frame, and an additional free photo gift of their choice.
  • 3rd PRIZE: Nine winners will receive a FUJIFILM Finepix XP30 camera, a $50 Rite Aid Gift Card, a linen-bound, hard cover photo book created at Rite Aid’s Photo Center, an 11 x14 Pinnacle photo frame, and an additional free photo gift of their choice.
In addition to the prizes above, Rite Aid is offering a free Daily Giveaway of more than 2,000 personalized photo-gift prizes. Just register for the giveaway at RiteAidPhotoContest.com to enter to be one of 25 daily winners.

How to Enter:
Go to www.MomsDadsGradsPhotoContest.com and click on the Enter Contest link. Complete the free Contest Registration Form. Following registration, entrants will be directed to submit photo(s), in JPEG format, in any of nine (9) contest categories. Entrants may submit up to a total of 90 entries among the 9 photo categories, but there is a limit of one first prize per household.
Each photo submitted by must be an original photo and the submitter must be the photographer, or have the permission of the photographer in a form deemed acceptable by the Sponsors. Permission must be granted by any person used as a subject in the photo. Any editing/retouching/ modifying applied to a submitted photo must have been performed by the submitter. All submitted photos must be original, non-professional, and must not have been previously published or won any previous award, and must not contain any material that would infringe upon third party rights if used in advertising.

No purchase necessary to enter or win. A purchase will not increase chances of winning.

For more contest details, visit RiteAidPhotoContest.com.

6/6/11

Book Review: The Magic Brush by Kat Yeh Transcends Cultural Boundaries

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The Magic Brush by Kat Yeh
Image: Amazon.com

In a heartwarming children's tale featuring a young Chinese girl, The Magic Brush provides an engaging story line appealing to readers of all cultures. Jasmine’s grandfather comes to live with her family and teaches her the time-honored art of Chinese calligraphy. Together they create and travel to a magical world of dragons, flying horses, and friendly monkeys. When grandfather becomes ill and never returns, Jasmine recreates the lessons learned to relive the magic instilled by him.

Beyond the story line, the book introduces children to the Chinese language. Thousands of years ago when the language first developed, Chinese characters resembled pictures. Words related to water featured three diagonal lines to resemble splashing. The character for fire looked like flames. The horse character included four dots to represent hooves. The vibrant illustrations in The Magic Brush seamlessly incorporate Chinese characters mentioned in the story line. Parents will love this primer to the Chinese language and children will love searching for the hidden characters within the pictures.

The author, Kat Yeh, based parts of the book on true life experiences. The characters’ names are those of her children and their grandfather. Details such as how grandfather peeled clementines in one long curly peel are unique to the author’s own memories. It is this honesty that comes through in the writing to grabs readers’ hearts.

Children of all ethnicities can relate to the book’s universal themes of family, love, tradition, loss, and the memories that live on. The aspects of magical travel in imaginary worlds hold no cultural boundaries. The Magic Brush is the ideal book for children grades K-3.

You're Lovable to Me by Kat Yeh
Image: Amazon.com
About the Author: The Magic Brush (Walker Books for Young Readers) is Kat Yeh’s second children’s book. She published her first book, You're Lovable to Me in 2009 (Random House; Pre-K to Grade 2). Kat Yeh resides with her family in Long Island, NY and is currently working on a middle grade book. The Magic Brush and You’re Lovable to Me are available at all major book stores and online retailers.

Note: This book review was republished with permission by the NY Motherhood Examiner (Maria Adcock) who is also the creator of BiculturalMama.com.


6/2/11

Letting Go of Asian Constraints to Pursue Writing

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One little fan of children's books.
Photo by M.Adcock
When I was in seventh grade my teacher asked the class to say what we wanted to do one day. I answered, “I want to write a book.” My teacher responded, “Why wait? Just do it now.” I was thirteen and had no clue how to write a book. As a pre-teen living in a small Midwest town, the idea seemed huge and unattainable.

Yet I always wrote. In junior high and high school I won poetry and essay writing contests, representing my schools at award ceremonies while my English teachers beamed. I was also Editor-in-Chief of the Yearbook staff for several years.

Many Asian parents steer their kids to major in medicine, law, engineering, or business. Writing, music, and art – those were just hobbies, not “real” jobs. My parents grew up during turbulent times in China and experienced periods of uncertainty. From their point of view they wanted me to have a secure future. Security meant working in something practical, concrete, and salaried.

I majored in Communication, and my parents were not thrilled. The Communication department was part of the Liberal Arts school which meant jobs titles were not as easily definable as say, a doctor or a lawyer. Liberal Art majors got jobs with whichever companies recruited at the school and offered jobs. Eventually they came to accept my major, but at that time I think they just did not understand what it was.

My first job was working in sales for General Mills - a great company, but I hated driving 500 miles a week. I noticed the marketing people were the ones dictating to the sales department what to do. I wanted to call the shots, so I switched to marketing at the same company. One day at the corporate holiday party, my coworkers and I lined up for different activity stations of which one included a fortune teller. I was skeptical, but curious regarding what she’d say. Surprisingly, the fortune teller mentioned, “You’ve always wanted to write a book, and you will…around the time you are 40 years old.”

As a freshly-graduated 20-something year old, 40 seemed really far away. I forgot about the comment and continued my career path, eventually getting my MBA in marketing. During this time the only writing I did was in my personal journals.

Ironically my business degree led me to the publishing world. After grad school I got a marketing job in New York City at Time Inc., the publishing arm of Time Warner. I worked for magazines such as Real Simple, InStyle, Entertainment Weekly, Southern Living, and more. I loved and breathed the magazine world. While I crunched numbers and performed analytics, I secretly envied the other half of the company - the editorial side. I wondered, “Had I pursued writing in college, could I have become one of these writers and editors who created the content for the magazines I marketed?” During this time I took writing classes after work. I wrote short stories with the intent of submitting them for publication, but never “had enough time” to actually send them out.

Now that I am raising an active 2 year old I laugh as I look back on how I thought I had lacked time. In reality I never made writing a priority because it was not my main job. It was always something on the side like the paperwork on my desk that collected dust.

With the arrival of my daughter my priorities changed. I realized my job was not my identity, and I felt a powerful urge to stay home with my daughter during the short time we’d have together before she started school. I also felt I was at a cross roads, and if I were to pursue writing the time was now. I quit my job, spent more time with my daughter, and began freelance writing.

For one article I interviewed an Asian children’s book author, Kat Yeh, who most recently wrote The Magic Brush. She inspired me so much that I admitted to her my dream to write a book. After having my daughter I knew I wanted to write a children’s book. Kat encouraged me to pursue this and told me about the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Conference in NJ. The conference holds workshops for writers and also offers the opportunity to meet with agents and publishers. This conference starts tomorrow and ends Sunday. I will be meeting Kat there.

I feel this is the beginning of something good...something I was meant to do. As for the fortune teller, I’m not quite 40 so perhaps if all goes well her prediction will ring true.
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