Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Whooga! Sheepskin boots for the rest of us

Did you know that ugg boots have been around for decades as the preferred footwear of competitive swimmers and surfers? As someone who has to wear boots six months of the year to keep her feet warm against the snow, the thought of wearing thick heavy sheepskin on the beach seems pretty funny. But apparently the wicking properties of fluffy lining on these boots helps regulate your body temperature -- perfect for ensuring you don't get chilled when you first get out of the water. Cool.

Did you further know that there have been some ugly trademark disputes about these boots? The UGGs brand-name has tried to argue that people are infringing on their trademark by describing their sheepskin boots as generic ugg boots. But in Autralia, the term "ugg boots" has been in use for over 50 years to describe this style of boot, no brand required.

What does all this add up to for you? Why $30 off your very own pair of cozy, comfy, fashionably ugly boots, obviously!

A number of small Australian companies offer sheepskin boots, and Whooga is just one. You can find on their site all the styles you might want -- tall, short, even woven/knitted ones with buttons. They come in lots of colors besides the classic tan and brown, including pink, dark purple, forest green, and black.

Whooga's customers sing their praises for excellent customer service, great comfort, and very competitive prices.

If you've always wanted to try a pair of these sheepskin boots but have been put off by the price, then Whooga might just be your answer. Priced nearly 1/3 less than competitors' brands, Whooga boots are certainly more affordable. And on top of that, Whooga generously created a coupon for Mommy's Martini and The Best Stuff readers. All you have to do is type MOMMYSMART into the coupon code at checkout, and Whooga will deduct $30 from your order!

The coupon is only good for the next two months, and as anyone who has ever tried to buy some of these boots for a holiday gift in the winter knows, supplies run low once cold weather comes. So what are you waiting for? Check out Whooga. And may your feet be cozy come fall.

Full disclosure: I'm not getting free boots out of this, just access to the same coupon you have. I haven't ordered mine yet, but only because I can't decide what color to get. I already have some light tan faux shearling boots. If you didn't want tan or brown, what color would you pick?

P.S. For more great deals and giveaways coming your way, you might want to subscribe to or follow me here.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Musicals for the Prescool Set?

I have always loved theater. In high school and college, I dabbled in acting, made costumes, ran shows backstage. Whenever I travel to a city, I make a point to see a production of something. The summer I was in London for three weeks, I saw four plays.

I've also done my best to get my children interested in theater. I take them to local productions, university theater department plays, puppet-based theatricals, basically any place that I think the show itself is appropriate for small ones. It never ceases to amaze me, although we've been to a fair amount of theater, how well they can pay attention and maintain a respectful silence.

But for me it's always a gamble: will my three- and five-year-olds behave themselves in a "grown-up" venue?

So, I was quick to jump at the offer of promotional tickets to the traveling production of Thomas and Friends Live Onstage, which is perhaps the only BIG show I know that is explicitly aimed at the preschool set. (Even Disney on Ice is, I think, aimed at children in the 4-7 age range.) And then, today, off we went.

Here's what my son (age 5) had to say about the show: "It was good; I liked it." When pressed to clarify what he liked about it, he replied with a smile, "Everything." My daughter clapped along, made Thomas toot whistle sounds, bobbed her head to the music, laughed a lot. In short, both of them were thoroughly entertained.

My husband and I, on the other hand? Not quite so much. Sure, it was really fun to watch the children having such a good time, but the plot of the show itself was hardly scintillating (a circus is coming to town, and Thomas keeps messing things up by trying to be helpful). And the entire experience was LOUD. L-O-U-D, *loud* loud LOUD.

Part of the noise was due to the incessant chatter of the three-year-old audience. "Where's Harold? Where's Harold? Harold? Harold! Haaaarrrrrooolllllddddd!" chanted a little one in the row in front of us. It was pretty cute in the singular. But multiply it by the hundreds of people in the audience, and it made sense why the cast had to have the volume turned up so exceedingly loud on their microphones. Between the chattering audience, the shout-singing cast, and the numbing plot, I was glad when the two hours were over.

To be fair, I find the television episodes of Thomas a little odd and not that compelling either. And I realize that what is compelling to a parent is often precisely the opposite of what will be enrapturing to a pre-schooler. But I also think that the best productions aimed at children, particularly very young ones, contain elements intended for adult appreciation -- excellent skating, if that's your thing, or fancy footwork in the choreography, or an intriguing plot, or witty dialogue.

This show had, I must say, fantastic trains. Apart from the excellent fact that their faces were mobile, the engines chugging across the stage look exactly like the tiny, shiny plastic ones in the battery-operated Thomas line. But these engines onstage were big enough for full-grown humans to drive as conductors. That was pretty amazing.

In short, my recommendation would be to take the little ones to this show if you personally enjoy the animated episodes. It really is just like an episode come to life. If you don't love Thomas on tv yourself, but your little ones do, then take them for the joy of watching the joy on their faces. That is certainly not valueless. Just don't go expecting a show pitched at adults. Because, really, your three-year-old has different taste than you do.