Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cars 2 Real Parent Review

I took three of my kids to see Cars 2 this weekend.  We left really early, hoping to be able to get a seat.  But wow, I guess other people had read the reviews, our theater was empty! Literally, a Sunday afternoon show and there were maybe 5% of the seats taken, pretty poor showing.
So I had with me my 3 year old girl and a 7 and 10 year old boy.
Our grades for this movie are
3 year old girl:F
7 year old boy:A
10 year old boy:A-
I want to begin this review by telling you DO NOT BE LATE FOR THIS MOVIE!  I don't want you to be late, because you will miss the cutest part of the movie, the 5 minute Pixar skit by all the Toy Story characters.  The toy story part is so cute, I am wanting to see that part again.  My kids were laughing, I was laughing, we were all ready to enjoy a great movie.   Too bad the cars part of the movie was awful.
The Cars 2 movie was really not enjoyable.  Since my 2 boys loved it, my little girl and I found ourselves playing on my phone during most of the movie.  Seriously, this movie was boring, annoying, confusing, and pretty violent.  My little girl was scared in a few parts and she is not usually scared during movies. 
The strangest part of the movie was, there was very little car racing!! I thought that was what cars do, they race around!  Nope, not in this movie.  In this movie they talk and talk some more.  They also spy on other cars, try and scare other cars, and insult other cars.
I do not know who created the idea behind this movie.  Obviously they knew what they were doing because my 2 boys walked out saying this was one of the best movies they had ever seen!  So if you have a little boy, maybe he might like it too! I would definitely wait until this movie comes out on DVD, because movie prices are crazy these days and this one is just not worth it!

Zevia is a great refreshing drink!

Having two sweaty teenage boys in the house means they are thirsty all day long.  I really do not like them drinking soda all the time.  Most of us eat very healthy and the teenagers really do not enjoy the healthy foods.
Last month I was sent from Mambo Sprouts 6 flavors of Zevia to try.  We had bought Zevia from Whole Foods a long time ago, but I had forgotten about this soda.  The 6 sodas arrived just in time, the hottest week of the summer.
The first thing we noticed were the colorful cans.  They were great colors and we could not wait to try the soda inside.  Sometimes the kids really want a cold fizzy drink and the Zevia really hit the spot!
The kids really liked all the flavors very much.  I loved that there were zero grams of sugar.  Zevia is sweetened with stevia and is an all natural soda.  SOOOO much better than your regular can of coke.  The favorite flavor we tried was the cream soda.  It really tasted like a real cream soda.  We poured a little over vanilla ice cream and that made a great float.
The least favorite flavor we tried was the caffeine free cola.  I think just seeing the words caffeine free turned the kids off to it, but they claimed that they liked that flavor the least. 
Zevia comes in 12 different flavors.  We tried 6 and they were all pretty awesome!
My favorite thing about Zevia is that it is 100% natural but yet at the same time it is fizzy and sweet.  Sometimes you just need that soda taste and for now, Zevia will replace all other bad sodas in our house.  If you have not heard of it or tried it yet, give it a try!
Read more about Zevia at

Disclaimer: I was sent a 6 pack of Zevia to try along with a coupon and some other goodies.  The ideas expressed above are all my own ideas and I have since bought many cans of Zevia myself.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Taste and Nutrition is Important!!

Nutrition is not nutrition unless your kids eat it!! I know that is very true for my kids.  Some of my kids really enjoy healthy foods, but others do not.  To me it is more important that my kids eat something for breakfast instead of nothing.
Did you know that cereal is a great breakfast option because it is the number one dietary source of many key nutrients including iron, zinc and folic acid?   Frequent cereal eaters tend to have better nutrient intakes too!
Did you also know that a typical breakfast contributes more than 30 percent of needed calcium, iron and B vitamins while delivering less than 20 percent of daily calories?  In addition, ready-to-eat cereal is the top source of whole grain in kids’ diets.
Big G is the only leading line of kids' cereals to contain at least 8 grams of whole grain (48 grams recommended daily) and a good source of both calcium and vitamin D in every serving. In addition, cereal is an inexpensive but nutrient-dense option. On average, a bowl of cereal with milk is approximately 50 cents per serving
 Just for reading my blog, General Mills would like to offer one winner a great prize this week.  You will get 6 cereal bowl boxes of cereal.  My kids love these, especially on trips when you might not have a seperate bowl.  The cereal dispenser has also been a huge hit in my house! It is easy enough to use for my 3 year old by herself and it encourages snacking throughout the day.  All of my kids are eating more cereal thanks to this dispenser.  Would you like to win one of your own??
*********Would you like to win a cereal giftpack of your own from General Mills?
Please leave me a comment and tell me:
 What are some easy ways you help your child get necessary nutrients like vitamin D, calcium, iron, folate and zinc into the foods they eat?
For a second entry, What tips can you share with fellow parents to make sure their kids take advantage of the nutrition benefits of cereal?
If you would like additional entries, 
* follow me on twitter @cookwith5kids
* follow me above on google friend follower for 1 extra entry
* tweet about this giveaway using hashtag #myblogspark
* please leave a comment for each entry, thank you!
Winner will be chosen on June 30th at noon.
Dislcaimer: I was sent a giftpack from General Mills and MyBlogSpark to review.  The opinions I have provided above are all my own.  Winners must live in the US. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Quick Disney trip report

We just got back from a week at Disney and I will have a few in depth blog posts in the coming days that will include some great Disney info and a very cool Auto Train review.
Some of my upcoming blog posts will be
*Best Disney Buffet you have never heard of
*Disney buses, the true story
*Where is the Disney magic
*Auto Train, family room and roomette up to date report with photos
*Water park tips for Typhoon Lagoon
*Ride updates for Disneyworld
*Our suggestions for staying cool when it is blazing hot outside!

Overall we had a good time. 100 degrees each day made the day less enjoyable than it could have been, but we still had fun!
Stay tuned for some great blog posts, and another cereal giveaway and a great healthy soda review!
If you have any Disney questions please feel free to email me at

Monday, June 13, 2011

The truth behind your bowl of cereal

Here we are, already on week 2 of the share your love for cereal week!
Congrats again to @JoeyfromSC for winning the cereal prize for week 1.
This week I have another great prize for my cereal lovers.

Today I want to talk about the truth behind the bowl, I want to try to clear up misconceptions about cereal.  Dr. Keith Ayoob, an internationally recognized dietitian who has worked extensively in the area of child nutrition, obesity, heart health and family dynamics for more than two decades, has partnered with General Mills to help correct cereal misconceptions and let moms know that cereal is actually one of the healthiest breakfast choices they can make for their family.


"Your child´s favorite cereals may actually help fight childhood obesity," said Dr. Keith Ayoob Ed.D., RD. "Cereal provides key nutrients that are important to overall health and cereals, including sweetened cereals, provide less than 5 percent of a child´s daily sugar intake."
In addition, did you know cereal is lower in calories and higher in nutrition than many other breakfast options like bagels with cream cheese and pancakes?
  • A 2009 study of children aged 6 to 18 shows cereal eaters have healthier body weights than those who don´t eat cereal, regardless of sweetness level.
  • Cereal eaters consume less fat than non-cereal eaters.
  • Not all cereals are equal and it´s important to read the labels -- General Mills is proud of its commitment to reduce sugar in all of its kids´ cereals to single-digit levels per serving.
  • General Mills has more than 30 nutritious cereals with 130 calories or less per serving.  
As you eat or serve your next bowl of cereal please take a few minutes to read the front and side of the box of cereal.  Look at the nutrition facts and ingredient list.  Compare that label with other foods you would typically serve for breakfast. 

**********For one entry into this week's giveaway of mini bowls of cereal, bowls from Crate & Barrel & adorable Zak Design spoons, what did you learn when you looked at your cereal box.  Please leave me a comment below with something you learned from reading your labels.  You can leave up to 3 separate comments for each thing you learned from your nutrition label.
For additional entries
*Follow me on twitter @cookwith5kids
*Tweet this contest to your followers
Leave a separate comment for each one entry. 5 entries max per person!

Disclaimer: I was sent a giftpack from General Mills and MyBlogSpark to review.  The opinions I have provided above are all my own.  Winners must live in the US. Good Luck!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Mr Popper's Penguins Real Parent Review

Jim Carrey stars in this new movie for kids - Mr Popper's Penguins. Jim Carrey plays a real estate salesperson who is left a very odd gift by his father after he dies.  The beginning of the movie shows a young Tommy Popper waiting for his father to call from his various trips to exotic places around the world.  We then cut to Tommy (Jim Carrey) as an adult in NYC off to close a big deal. He seems to have become just like his father, as he works constantly and hardly ever sees his children. He soon learns about his father's death and goes to hear the will being read.  Tommy Popper learns that a special package will be arriving soon.  When the crate arrives at his big NYC apartment he is in for a huge surprise.  At first, Popper does not realize that his gift is actually alive and leaves the penguin on the table to deal with later.  Of course, the penguin in real and has a blast in his apartment while Popper is gone chasing the next deal of a lifetime.  After a while, the penguins really get to Popper and allow him to reconnect with his children and his ex-wife. 
Although Jim Carrey is very entertaining, the penguins become the stars of this movie.  They are extremely cute and show real personality throughout the movie. There are some great scenes with them following Mr Popper around and getting into all kinds of mischief.  You do have to suspend your disbelief as an adult (where did all that water from the tub go, wouldn't more people be upset about the noise and cold from the apartment?).  But, if you can just enjoy the movie for what it is, you will be laughing right along with your kids.  This is a very fun, enjoyable movie which has some great characters including the penguins.  

There is little to no cursing and a few brief kisses (and a sweet scene with Popper and his ex-wife beginning to get back together after "hitting a rough spot").  There is really nothing objectionable or scary about the movie and plenty of great themes revolving around family and its importance. 

I also want to add one more thing.  I am not a huge Jim Carrey fan. But in this movie he is very believeable and more down to earth than he usually is.  I do not enjoy his over the top crazy actions in most movies but in this movie he is much calmer and so much more enjoyable!!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Super 8 was really great! Real Parent Review

Super 8 is a collaboration between JJ Abrams (LOST, Fringe, Star Trek) and Steven Spielberg.  You can see both of their fingerprints throughout the movie, but especially JJ's.  If LOST was made as a 2 hour movie instead of a long running TV series this may be what it looked like.   After they give you some set up with who the characters are you get to the beginning of the story and the action.  This begins with an exceptionally well done crash scene that also drops you into a mystery that sets the whole movie in motion.

The movie is set back in 1979 and they appear to get every detail of that time down perfectly, right down to the posters on the wall of the main character (which are probably ones I had then too).  The best way to describe this movie is that it is a mix of Aliens and Stand By Me.  There are a number of great suspenseful moments where you literally jump out of your seat after waiting for the inevitable gotcha to occur.  There is also a great story aspect to this movie as well, with four boys who are all the best of friends, trying to make it through this extraordinary situation they have been placed.  Some step up to the challenge more than others.  Overall, this is a great, fun, roller coaster ride of a movie.

It is not, however, a movie I would recommend taking young children to.  I am not going to give away too much of the story, but it can be scary at times and there are elements which would frighten a young child.  There are a number of scenes where things jump out and caused us to jump a little out of our seats (in a fun way).  I took my 13 year old along with me (who BTW loved it too), but I was very glad I didn't take my 10 year old who I think would have been very scared.  There is very little in the way of bad language and no sex at all, but the scary aspect might be too much for the youngsters.  If Mom and Dad want a movie night out, this would a great choice.  I think that the youngest child I would bring to this movie would be an 11 or 12 year old.  This movie is scary and there are scenes where sudden things happen which I think would scare most kids!  Be very cautious before taking a child to this movie please.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Parent Review of Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer

We received free passes to see the movie Judy Moody and the not Bummer Summer this weekend.  To be honest I would have been quite unhappy if we had paid a lot of money to see this movie as a family.
To say that this movie is mostly a disaster from start to finish is true.
The books by Megan McDonald in the Judy Moody series are so cute!!  But something got lost in translation along the way.
Here is how we rated this movie:
Dad  C-
Mom  C
7 year old boy  B
10 year old boy  B-

To say that this movie is mostly a bore is how I would generally describe it and having the word "bummer" in the title seems very apropos.  The movie starts with Judy making plans for her summer with her friends only to find out that two of them are going away and doing fun things on their own.  Her parents then let her know that her plans are all for naught since her Aunt is coming to take care of her and they are going to California by themselves. I had hoped that the movie would pick up when the fun aunt came to stay, but that was not the case.  She leads them through a number of unsuccessful activities while Judy's friends are at Circus camp and traipsing through the rainforest in Borneo.  Much of the movie is Judy being unhappy about her lack of fun and activities over her summer break.  She finally decides to try to help her brother with his quest of capturing Bigfoot and some of the movie comes together while that they are on this quest.
The two redeeming qualities of this movie are the brother Stink (played by Paris Mosteller) and the Aunt (played by Heather Graham - a nice treat to entice the fathers to come along for this one).  The brother is hilarious even though he is trying to be annoying (even this doesn't work well).   There is also a small role played by Jaleel White (remember Urkel???)  who we wish we had seen and heard more from.
The books by Megan McDonald in the Judy Moody series are so cute!!  But something got lost in translation along the way.
For parents still considering taking their children to see this movie, there is NO bad language at all.  The Aunt uses the word "crap" and is scolded by Stink that crap is a "bad word".  There is no sex or even mention of it.
The one thing I can say about this movie is that it is a very clean movie which we could recommend for a child of any age.  If your child is a fan of the book series they might really enjoy seeing the characters brought to life in this movie.  Please leave me a comment if you see this movie!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Breakfast for kids is a challenge!

As a Mom to 5 many of my challenges are based around food.  I personally am a morning person. I get up early with my little ones and we eat breakfast together.  But, as soon as my older kids became teens they stopped wanting to eat breakfast.  They go to bed too late and then they cannot wake up in the morning.  As they sit groggy at the table the last thing they want to think about is, what should I have for breakfast.  
I am participating in a Share Your Love for Cereal Month with MyBlogSpark and I think new ideas are always worth a try.  I was sent a selection of 10 different cereals by General Mills.  Each cereal came in its own disposable bowl and each cereal appeals to teens.  I put these cereals on the table and my teens jumped on them.  They opened it up, put in the milk they liked and ate it up in minutes.  
My oldest even asked if he could have another one?  Seriously, are these the same kids who sit with their eyes closed and heads on the table most other days?  My best advice for kids who do not like breakfast is to always try to stay one step ahead. Change things up!  Serve different foods and flavors than they are used to.  I know when I took out my waffle maker a few months ago everyone was excited for hot fresh waffles in the morning.  That experiment lasted for months.  Us Moms and Dads need to be on our toes, thinking ahead, planning ways to make the kids want to eat.
General Mills recently did a survey in the DC area and 97% of parents think that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  I agree!  My 15 year old does not get to eat lunch at school until 1 pm.  If he does not eat before we leave the house at 730AM he cannot concentrate in any of his classes.  On the General Mills survey another interesting question was, what is the most important factor to get your child to eat breakfast, and 81% of the respondents said that the food had to taste great!  The last question that I found really important is which food do you think is a healthy food option, and 86% answered with cereal.  A 2009 study found that children who eat cereal have significantly higher intakes of whole grain, folate, calcium, iron, fiber, zinc and several other nutrients.  If you would like to watch a video or read more about cereal please visit  It is very important to me that my kids have some whole grains and calcium in their morning meal and if they can get that in a cereal they love, all the better!  If I could ask an expert in the cereal world a question, I would like to know if there is anyway to make a cereal that my kids would love without all the usual sugar.  Can there be a happy medium between sweet cereal and less sugar?  I hope so!!
Another tip I can offer is that when my kids agree to come shopping with me at the grocery store, they usually choose many foods that surprise me and 98% of the time they eat it and enjoy it!!  I love when my kids come along and choose new breakfast foods and nothing makes me happier than seeing them wake up in the morning eager to eat breakfast!

*********Would you like to win a cereal giftpack of your own from General Mills?
Please leave me one comment and tell me which benefit of cereal is most important to you and your family?  Or, leave me a comment and tell me what question you would like to ask a cereal expert?
If you would like additional entries, 
* follow me on twitter @cookwith5kids
* tweet about this giveaway using hashtag #myblogspark
* please leave a comment for each entry, thank you!
Winner will be chosen on June 11th at noon.

Dislcaimer: I was sent a giftpack from General Mills and MyBlogSpark to review.  The opinions I have provided above are all my own.  Winners must live in the US.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Meatless Meals, Millet Meatballs

Since we have one vegan and one vegetarian in the house I like to experiment a lot with meatless meals.  My carnivores will try most meals I make, but they are a bit skeptical.  I think meatballs are one of the foods that everyone in my house really likes.  I am trying to add more grains into our meals too, so this recipe really interested me.
For those of you who have never seen millet, it is a small yellow grain and looks like couscous or quinoa, that shape and size.  The millet needs to be cooked before you can make the meatballs.  Put 2 cups of water on to boil, add in 1/2 cup millet and reduce the heat to simmer. Cook 35-40 minutes, till tender.  You can even cook the millet the day before. One more note, to make these vegan you can use vegan Parmesan cheese, if you are vegetarian you can use regular Parmesan cheese.

Millet Meatballs
one can cannellini beans, rinsed well
1 medium onion
1 clove garlic minced
2 tsp basil
1/2 cup water
1 and 1/2 cups cooked millet
3/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs to roll the meatballs in

Preheat oven to 350
In a large food processor combine canellini beans, onion, garlic, basil and water.  Add in millet, bread crumbs, parmesan and salt.  Let mixture sit for 10 minutes.  Shape mixture into 1" balls. You can roll each one in the extra bread crumbs.  To make mine less calories, I did not roll my meatballs in the crumbs.  Place meatballs on to the cookie sheet.  Bake for 30-35 minutes.  Serve with whole wheat pasta and fresh marinara.  This is a delicious meatless meal!