Sunday, March 01, 2009

Sylvania PalPODzzz LED nightlight - Keeping kids in their beds and monsters in the closet

As any parent of a three year old knows, nightlights are essential to keeping not only kids that age happy but also their parents. Something tells me if we didn't have the appropriate light to darkness ratio in my daughter's room we'd be seeing her a lot more in the middle of the night, and we don't want that to happen. No, that would be bad. Very bad.

Chicky has been thrilled with her Sylvania PalPODzzz ladybug nightlight. The PalPODzzz is this sweet detachable/rechargeable nightlight/flashlight LED doohickey (Okay, so no one will ever hire me to come up with professional descriptions for new products. I think I'll live.) either shaped like a ladybug or a spaceship. The thing she likes the most about it is that the ladybug itself can come off of its "leaf" charger (which also lights up) and she can keep the flashlight portion either in her bed or on the floor next to it and she knows she can use it whenever she needs to. I like it because it's rechargeable, so after I dig it out of the blankets every morning I pop it back on the charger and it's ready to go for that night.

Another plus is she now has her own flashlight to play with during the day when she wants to go exploring. No more stealing Mommy and Daddy's emergency flashlights. It's not fun to find out during a major ice-related blackout that your preschooler has been playing with the flashlights too much and now none of them work. Trust me on this. The flashlight itself is not super powerful - which is good since it always seems to be pointed in the direction of the baby's eyes - but it's the perfect strength for, say, couch cushion spelunking.

Also, not too bright to shine in one's own eyes. If you're into that sort of thing. Bonus.

She's playing with it right now, as a matter of fact. There is a missing toy and she's playing "detective" to find it. Carry on, Sherlock.

As a nightlight, I do wish the PalPODzzz was a bit more powerful. The light up leaf is a little dim for my daughter's liking (she likes her nightlights pretty bright) but as an emergency keep-the-boogie-man-away device the PalPODzzz seems to be working out just fine.

All in all the PalPODzzz is a pretty nigty product at a good price (just $19.99). So may we recommend the Sylvania PalPPODzzz portable LED nightlight for keeping those pesky monsters under the bed where they belong?


This is a review for the Parent Bloggers Network.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

VTech V-Motion - V-ery Interesting

I'm convinced that all children are one part spastic animal beast, bouncing off of walls and climbing furniture every chance they get, and one part couch potato, zoned out and drooling in front of the television if allowed.

How the two co-exist in the same body, I'll never know.

What I do know is I'd like to harness the energy of one and rouse the other from its stupor. If only I could get the two to work together in harmony I might have a happy child. Maybe there would be less whining. Maybe there would be less manic meltdowns. Maybe Republicans and Democrats will start playing nice. Maybe my cat and dogs will start peacefully coexisting. Maybe...

Anyway. PBN asked me and my daughter to review the VTech V-Motion video game system - sorry - Active Learning System...

Can I just take a moment to shake my head at video games for a moment? They're either labeled "learning" or "educational" or they're Grand Theft Auto. Whatever happened to just having fun without a pop quiz or bloodshed?

But I digress.

... I was pretty excited to get my kid all learned and stuff while burning off some of that unrelenting preschooler energy. The V-Motion system is described as
"a brilliant breakthrough gaming console that combines wireless, motion-activated play, web connectivity and educational gaming into a system that plugs directly into your television!"
Great idea right? A sort of Wii for kids?

Sort of.
There is actual learning involved in VTech's V-Motion learning system (geared toward children ages 3-7): Counting, colors, shapes, and in more advanced games spelling, math and science. Once Chicky understood what was expected from her she really started getting into sorting colors and counting numbers. And as for the motion part, children are expected to think on their feet. Literally. The wireless controller is motion activated. The child playing is supposed to be an active participant in the game, encouraging kids to get off the couch and move around while using the motion-activated joystick.

However, before you rush out thinking this is something akin to Wii Fit, it's not. The movement needed to activate the controller was minimal in the games we played (the included game Action Mania), barely amounting to more than gently moving the controller from side to side. And if the kid really wants to veg out, he can just set the controller to joystick mode.

With all that said, the VTech V-Motion was a lot of fun even if the included game was not the sweat-inducing activity I was hoping for. Action Mania was a little challenging at first for my three year old but after playing it a few times she started to catch on to the more simplistic games (it does have a beginner and an intermediate level) and she really got into it. And my husband and I did see some actual learning happening; Chicky got much better at rattling off her numbers in correct order where before she would have to stop and think what came after the number 11.

(Of course, if she were older I would tell her that there is nothing after 11. That's as far as it goes. Because it's 11. But she's too young for This is Spinal Tap references.)

I'm curious to see if she would fare better with one of the other video games VTech offers with characters she would recognize - like the Wonder Pets, for example - but at $24.99 a pop per game cartridge (sorry, Smartridge) she'll have to wait for a special occasion, like Christmas. I liked that the VMotion has a cool web connect feature that allows the user to download bonus games. I also like that the controller is wireless and the system is very easy for a young child to maneuver through on her own.

I think with the V-Motion active learning system we'll have to wait and see how our daughter does with it in the future as right now she seems just a bit too young to get everything out of it. I have a hard time recommending this for a three year old but if you're looking for a gift idea for your favorite nephew or neice (the V-Motion system is $69.99, a little on the pricey side so make sure you really like the kid you're buying this for) who is older than, say, four years old the VMotion might be something you'll want to consider.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

"Ready for.." books. Positivity at its best.

"Are these books for her or for us?"

That was my husband's question upon reading "Ready for the Day" and "Ready for Bed" to our three year old daughter. And he was right; the books are just as much of a reminder to parents to be positive while dealing with the more challenging aspects of their toddler's or pre-schooler's personality as it is life lessons for children.

The two stories are interesting for kids, tackling topics that any boy or girl in that age group could easily understand - brushing teeth, deciding what breakfast food they would like, etc. - and speaking from our experience with the books, they were very engaging. The illustrations are colorful and the story held our daughter's attention and she often asks for them.

Okay, let's be honest. I've read each of these books 15 times in a row on some occasions. Easily.

But the underlying theme of positivity is what really stuck with me. Bedtime and first thing in the morning are probably the two most difficult times of the day in our house, with constant battles over mundane details (to me anyway) like what book to read and what clothes to wear. "Ready for the Day" and "Ready for Bed" reminds both me and my husband as well as our daughter about compromise and making correct decisions to cut down on the amount of drama in our lives.

After just one reading of "Ready for Bed", for instance, Chicky was much more willing to "take turns" brushing her teeth. Which really amounts to her asserting her independence enough to make her happy and me being able to brush dinner from between her tiny teeth. A win/win situation, if you ask me.

The situations in both books will be very familiar to any parent of a preschooler. Sometimes a gentle reminder to keep things positive is all both parties involved need to be successful and these books help with that. I'd say that "Ready for Bed" and "Ready for the Day" are books I'd have no trouble recommending to friends.


This was a review for the Parent Bloggers Network.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Meet the Sight Words Review - Repetition Repetition

It's no exaggeration when I say that my daughter would rather sit on the couch and have book after book read to her than play with a room full of toys. Which is great for her but a little tiring for the person reading the books - Me. It will be a happy day when she learns to read a book all by herself because maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to read my own books again.

To further along the process I agreed to review the DVD "Meet the Sight Words" with Chicky. This DVD features sight words like "of", "in", "you", "he" and more. Each word is repeated about eleventy billion times as it turns into a recognizable cartoony-like shape things. Yeah, I'm no expert and I'm not sure how it works. All I know is Chicky was into it and she was repeating right along with the DVD. After watching it a couple of times she was recognizing words like "and" and "play". Kinda cool if you ask me.

If you're one of those stickler types and really want to know what sort of science is behind this teaching, you can go to their website to learn more.

Would I recommend "Meet the Sight Words" to a friend? Probably. From an adult's point of view, I was ready to stick a fork in my ear if I had to hear the word "for" repeated again. The repetition was driving me up a tree. But Chicky seemed to like it and like I said, she was starting to recognize words after just two or three times watching. That's got to count for something, even if I wanted to claw my own ears off.

The things we'll do for our kids. Sheesh.


This was a review for the Parent Bloggers Network.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

These Tiny*Prints pack a big punch

This is going to be an easy and quick review. Ready?

I love Tiny*Prints cards.

It really is as simple as that. I love them. These contemporary and stylish personalized cards are simple to make, simple to order, and Tiny*Prints has a wide range of choices in different price points for every occasion from birth announcements, like the one I created to let everyone know about the arrival of my daughter,

Cute, huh? The card AND the baby. Heh.

... to thank you cards. They have every type of invitation you could possibly need and you can even make matching return address labels if you like that matchy-matchy kind of thing. Which I do.

I had a ridiculous amount of fun trying to find just the right card style for our birth announcement and in the end decided on one of the cheaper ones. I really like the design and was thrilled to see that the less expensive ones were comparable to the pricier options. Because I'm cheap but I don't want to everyone else to know it.

If you don't feel like customizing your cards with a picture you took you can use one of their designs and add your own flair by choosing between different fonts and colors. And it's all so simple it's almost fool-proof. When you're a new mom and the quote-unquote mommy brain has kicked in hard believe me, you need something fool-proof.

Do you really have to ask if I would recommend Tiny*Prints photo cards, announcements and invitations to my friends? Really? Did you not read the last few paragraphs? May I recommend that you read them again or just go to the Tiny*Prints website and see for yourself.

Really. Go now. Okay, gaze upon the beauty that is my newborn daughter and then go check out the cards for yourself.


This was a review for the Parent Bloggers Network.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Maiden America barrettes - made in America but are they made to last?

My daughter inherited my husband's blue eyes and his dimple. From me she got her skinny legs and long torso. And from the both of us, our impossibly thin, straight hair.

Sorry kid.

Barrettes are a must for her, however. I'm letting her bangs grow out so her hair will be all one length and that makes at least one barrette a necessity. She's pretty good about letting me put them in and leaving them alone, but because her hair is so silky and fine most barrettes tend to slip out. I can't even count how many we've lost to date.

We seemed like the perfect candidate to test out the Maiden America barrettes who claim that their barrettes "Stay where you put them. Even in the finest hair." I'll get to that claim in a moment.

All of their clips are handmade by (to quote their website) "by moms, military wives and the like, in the beautiful Pacific Northwest" with luxe touches like Swarovski crystals and Cabochon pearls. Most of the styles are a bit too precious for a recovering tomboy like myself but with a little searching I found a few different styles that were pretty without being too cutesy or over the top for every day use. Like the "Daisy May" with it's gingham ribbon, small flower and Swarovski crystal. That one has quickly become my daughter's favorite. And I did order a couple that will be reserved for special occasions, like the Velvet Crystals in ruby red, that will be set aside to be worn with things like Christmas outfits. Even the daughter of a woman like myself needs a little bling sometimes.

The clips are pretty and my daughter regularly requests them - I think because most of the ones we have have flowers on them - and I'm happy to oblige because the Maiden America barrettes are easy enough to put in and go with most of her outfits. And, for the most part, they live up to their claim of staying put. However, even though the prices of their products are fairly reasonable, I will think twice before sending my daughter out to rough house with her friends while wearing pretty ribbons and crystals in her hair. Just this morning while she was running around like the crazy monkey she is with a couple of friends I had to put her Maiden America barrette back in her hair at least five times. The clips stay put during normal activity but during an extreme game of "Chase the imaginary monster" the barrettes just couldn't keep up.

I wasn't expecting miracles. I have yet to find a barrette that could contain my kid's hair. The nice thing is that my daughter is so fond of them that she notices when the barrette is slipping and immediately asks me to fix it because she's afraid of losing it.

Would I recommend Maiden America barrettes to my friends? Well, I have one friend whose daughter has curly hair, so Maiden America's clips in their different sizes (xs, small, medium and large) would be perfect for her. Another girlfriend has a daughter with fine hair like my daughter's so she might find the same problems with the grip, but for a nice occasion she might like a fancier alternative to the cheap barrettes you can find at the local Target. The quality is good and the add-ons are very pretty. It's also nice to know that they're hand made with non-toxic glue, especially with a little girl who will occasionally chew on a barrette when she's bored.

All in all, the Maiden America barrettes are a good product and in the future when we're in need of more hair clips I will definitely keep them in mind. Especially when we're in need of something fancy. A girl does need to feel pretty every now and then, even a tomboy.


This was a review for the Parent Bloggers Network.

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Friday, May 09, 2008

Kinzin - It will help keep you in the will

"Lazy" is one word I would have no problem using to describe me. "Procrastinator" is another one. Put the two together and throw in the fact that I only use digital cameras to take pictures of my daughter and my poor family and friends never get copies of all the adorable shots I take.
They beg. They cajole. They threaten sometimes, if I'm being frank. We'd really like some pictures of our (granddaughter, niece, etc.) at some point, they tell me. Maybe some nice pictures of her third birthday, before she turns 18. Uh yeah, I'll make sure to get some printed for you. And then I forget. I'm definitely not winning any points for mother of the year and I'm pretty sure I'm going to be disowned by the family.

Enter Kinzin, the FREE website that's perfect for the sometimes lazy and oftentimes stressed mother I am. At Kinzin you can upload your family's pictures and share them with your extended family and friends - for free (did I mention free?). You can customize your own page with your kids' photos and a little bit of information about them (they're wishes, for instance, if a birthday is coming up). From there, you can make photo books with the pictures you've uploaded or even connect with other parents online, if that's your thing. I prefer just keeping my pictures private for my close relatives and good friends to view whenever they so desire.

The best part about Kinzin is for a low fee of $2.99 per home address you can have up to 10 pictures of your choice sent to the people in your Kinzin address book each month! Automatically! Kinzin does the sending for you! Notice the exclamation points!! I'm very excited about this service and think that $2.99 is totally worth having someone do my dirty work for me!! And if you're sending them within the United States shipping and handling is free!!!

I think I just passed out from sheer happiness there for a second.

A word of caution about the prints - make sure the quality of your digital photos are exactly what you want. Kinzin is not going to touch up or make your dodgy pictures look nicer for you. What you upload is what you get. Just keep that in mind when you're manipulating your pictures into something unrecognizable and they're all cropped strangely.

I'll be recommending Kinzin to my friends, especially those who, like me, would rather do just about anything than worry about printing digital pictures of their adorable cherubs to send to grandma and grandpa. And the bonus? I'm sure my dad will still keep me in his will.


This was a review for the Parent Bloggers Network.

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