Cirque du Soleil – Ovo – A circus and bugs of a different genre

standard February 5, 2010 2 responses

Thanks to the wonderful people at the Cirque du Soleil and Silicon Valley Moms blog M and I were given the wonderful treat of attending the opening night of the new show Ovo. Opening night in San Jose that is, not first opening night ever.

It was our first “real” Cirque experience. We saw Wintuk, a small family show that they put on a few winters ago in Madison Square Gardens, but this was a whole new experience.

Once we got past the whole ‘walk 8 blocks in the pouring rain’ thing (reminding myself that at least we’re not on snowpocalypse watch like our friends in the North East) and got into the tent we were instantly transported into a wild new world.

Crickets chirped and crazy creatures slinked around, everything hazy in the fog that filled the room. We found our seats and chatted a bit with the other SV Moms bloggers in attendance and then the lights dimmed and we were swallowed up in the magic.

I was blown away by the way they have reinvented the circus environment, elevating it to something even more magical and special, and yes, even more grown-up than a regular circus.They have clowns and they have traditional acts, they just spin it into something new with different props, sets, and lights. And yes, to M’s amazement, even with a live band and singer.

We could have brought the girls, but it was a late show so we left them with a sitter. As it turns out, they would have loved it, but it was neat to be there without them. The tent was packed with grown-ups who were just as enthralled as we were.

Little ladybugs juggled with their feet, eliciting awed “no ways” from M. Creepy grasshoppers performed a gravity defying trampoline act that had me wondering if I was seeing things. Disturbingly supple spider contortionists did things that no human should ever be able to do, and that made my knees and back ache just to watch.

All in all, it was just breath taking and amazing. A really fun night out.

If Ovo comes to your town I highly recommend that you attend. And if you live in the Bay Area, hop on over here to try to win some tickets for Valentine’s Day!

Please note: I was given tickets to attend the Cirque du Soleil show, but the opinions contained in this post are mine and mine alone. Hyperboles are courtesy of the cough syrup I took 13hours ago and which is still messing with my brain.

Mommy went to a Blogger party and we all get cool swag

standard November 17, 2009 3 responses

Well, clearly we can’t all be as cool as C sporting her new Teeny Tiny shades. They’re best known for protecting little eyes from harmful UV rays, but you just can’t reason with these 4-year-olds going on 15. They want to look cool and wear them indoors.

Teeny Tiny Optics

Oh, wait. Apparently you can’t reason with the 2-year-old set either. Little L is also sporting fancy Teeny Tiny Optics shades as well as the shaggiest hippest hat in town. This beauty was hand made by Zooni and she’d be asleep wearing it if I hadn’t made her take it off before bath time.

Zooni Hat and Teeny Tiny Optics Glasses

If you have a fetish, or just a love, of unbearably cute babies in unbearably cute hats then I double dog dare you to click that link. I guarantee you will also find the cutest socks you will have ever seen. Ever. Honest. Be warned. Clicking that link could be harmful to your wallet.

Oh that hat. And that face. And those crooked glasses.
I could just eat her up.
Though I’d chew with my mouth closed…
Zooni Hat and Teeny Tiny Optics Glasses

Mommy didn’t just come home with hat and eye wear. She also brought home some kick ass shoes for her kick ass eldest. Though it might be hard to actually kick ass with shoes this cute. It would be a shame to get them scuffed.

Livie&Luca Livie's Pink Wings

These puppies come to us straight from Livie & Luca, which I did not know before last night, and who will now be pocketing my next paycheck. Come on! I can’t have one child in these and not the other! Plus, wouldn’t it be unfair to deny Little L these? Toddler shoes with spats people! Pink spats!

Now I did say swag for all and here’s where you guys win! The awesome people behind Livie & Luca are so cool they’re letting you have 25% off until the end of December. What are you waiting for? Get shopping! And use the code BLOG25 when you check out.

Look how happy they’d make your child!
Livie&Luca Livie's Pink Wings

More to come on the incredible awesomeness that came out of the Silicon Valley Moms Blog Holiday Extravaganza. I still need to sort through everything!

I was not paid, blah, blah, blah, to say any of this, blah, blah, blah, nor did I bribe my children to smile and look happy with anything other than Costco Mickey Mouse chicken nuggets, cool hats, glasses, and new shoes. I just couldn’t resist sharing the cuteness with you.

Disney Digital Books, a great idea with a few issues

standard October 21, 2009 2 responses

Disney Digital BooksLast night a few of my blogging friends and I gathered for a presentation of Disney Publishing’s latest big product: Disney Digital Books.

Now, when you consider that Disney owns all of the rights to all of it’s books and that all of them have already been digitized for easy distribution to 85 different countries, it’s not hard to understand why creating a website to house all those digital books was nothing short of brilliant.

I mean, picture it, over 500 books laid out in all their artistic glory, for kids to enjoy at the clickDisney Digital Books of a mouse? The books are organized by reading level, but can be searched by character or theme. Once the child is done reading a book he can place it on a shelf where it can be easily accessed again. And if your child has a friend or two who also uses the site, she can send them a canned email message with a link to that book.

But the site goes further than just presenting books that can be read, it turns reading into an interactive experience. For the little ones, the site reads the books out loud, highlighting words as they are spoken for early reading awareness. For older kids who are reading on their own, the software is equipped with a handy dictionary tool, which gives the definition of the word, but also pronounces it. And creatively minded kids can use the Story Builder function to decorate and narrate their own books. (Kids pick images from the selection offered and fill in the blanks in prepared text.)

It’s a neat product with huge potential. As an avid reader, mom to two other avid readers, it’s hard not to be excited at the thought of so many books being just a mouse click away, but my bloggy friends and I still left the presentation with a few concerns.

First: While I know that this might be an issue that doesn’t affect the country at large, a few of us found it frustrating that, knowing that Disney Publishing has digitized versions of their books in countless languages, the site only offers books in English. A Spanish component is slated to be added later in the year, but to access books in other languages parents will have to join the sites in those countries as the sites are rolled out. Your US membership won’t automatically grant you access to those foreign sites with their treasure trove of foreign language books.

Second. While $8.95/month ($79.95/year) doesn’t seem like much to be paying when you consider that you get access to over 500 books, month after month it does add up. And yes, I know, one children’s book might run me that if I bought it in a store, but once I buy that book I can take it anywhere with me – the car, a restaurant, or even a plane. And if I’m really hankering for a huge selection of books, I can always join my library for free.

Third. I was thoroughly impressed with the quality of the graphics and the incredible selection of materials, but I kept thinking of places this could be a fun way to distract my kids and realizing that I wouldn’t be able to use this product in any of them. It’s a web based product with no option to download any selected books. And there’s no mobile phone or Reader version yet. So no, you can’t take that beloved Princess book on a plane, in the car, or even into a restaurant, you have to read it on a computer that has web access and that’s that.

If you happen to be a family where both parents are self conscious about accents or language issues, then this is an awesome product. If you want to expand your child’s library and make reading a bit glitzier and cool, then this is an awesome product. But if you’re already a family who reads avidly and has hundreds of books at home, then you’re going to have to ask yourself if this is really worth $9/month to you. Me, I’m still not sold. But if they ever expand the foreign language selection I’ll be all over it! I’d pay much more for access to 500 books in french!

Starbucks Goes Instant.

standard October 2, 2009 3 responses

In a move that’s going to make Starbucks even more famous, (if that were possible) this week the major coffee corporation launched a product that has been 20 years in the making.

VIA. Instant coffee.

I know. I know. Your grandma was drinking Sanka long before the 80s. VIA ain’t your grandma’s Sanka.

Instead of dehydrating brewed coffee and pulverising it, Starbucks figured out how to take real coffee beans and grind them so fine that the powder produced dissolves instantly in water – hot or cold. To make sure that you realize there’s a difference, they’re calling it ready brew, not instant.

It really did take them 20 years to figure out the process, so it’s understandable that the Starbucks executives are insanely excited to finally present this gold dust to its customers.

And it is gold dust. Fine powder that smells exactly like coffee should smell.

Slip a packet or two in your pocket so you’re never home without a cup of decent coffee. Or do what the foodies around the world are going to do – hunt down some recipes that call for coffee powder and have at it. I’m thinking that VIA rubbed on a nice steak would be amazing, especially if we follow it up with some chocolate mocha iced brownies.

Mix a little packet of the VIA Instant Brew in exactly 8oz of cold or hot water and you’ll have yourself a cup of coffee that you probably won’t be able to tell hasn’t been freshly brewed.

Not convinced? Head over to a Starbucks any time between Friday, October 2 to Monday, October 5 and take part in the taste test challenge. Starbucks is pretty confident you won’t be able to tell which cup is instant and which cup is drip coffee. Most of their experts couldn’t tell, why would you?

Cliff Burrows Starbucks US President,
presenting VIA to a gawking group of press mavens like myself (snort).
He prefers the Colombian. Me, the Italian Roast.