Monday, December 8, 2008

eebee is a cutie

Parent Bloggers asked me to review one of "eebee's adventures" dvds, and to be perfectly honest, I initially found it to be a little weird. eebee is a puppet, admittedly pretty cute, who explores all kinds of different methods of play in the dvd- Exploring Real Stuff. eebee, and other babies featured during the video, play and explore with cheerios, rice, paper, wrapping materials, balls, and other equally common objects and manipulate them in different ways. All sorts of experimentation takes place, from dumping to scooping to tearing to crumpling to rolling and sliding.

The real test of the dvd, of course, came from playing it for Gabriel. In the end, what I think doesn't really matter, if the real critic in our family liked or disliked it. He was mesmerized. I was sure it would be a little young for him, since the age range for this particularly dvd started at 6 months (although others on the website start at different ages), but as usual, I was totally wrong. Whenever the screen would shift and the title of the next scene came on, Gabe would scream "more baby!" at the television. He loved the puppet, eebee, and he loved watching the other babies play with the different objects on the screen. He kept inching closer and closer to the television to see the babies up close and personal, and would occasionally turn around to comment to me on what he was seeing.

Besides being entertaining, I almost wanted to pull out paper and a pen to take notes on the different things the babies were playing with in the dvd. It would be a great snowy day activity to fill some containers with rice or beans and let Gabe go to town with a scoop or a tube as they were demonstrating in the movie. I'll definitely be saving my packaging or wrapping materials for him to do some mini-experiments with tearing and crumbling and pulling. I even started thinking that I should wash out my recycling and let him play with it before I put it out each week. The babies in the dvd seemed to be totally engaged with all of the activities, and I think Gabe might enjoy it too.

In addition to the dvd, we also reviewed eebee's HAVE A BALL cloth activity book, and Gabe really loved this one. In fact, I'm planning to order a couple as gifts for other ball lovers in our life, because this book was such a hit. The book has a cloth stuffed ball attached on a string, and on each page of the book, the ball is used in a different way. On one page you put it through a hoop, then on another in a pocket, or you hide it behind a pillow on the page, or some other equally cute activity. Gabe couldn't get enough to playing with it and will often ask for the ball book when we are sitting around. It looks like there are several different books and toys on the website, so there is lots of choose from even if your child isn't obsessed with balls the way Gabe is.

Gabe was a definite fan of eebee's adventures, so I can wholeheartedly recommend the book and dvd for the 2 and under crowd. It would make a great holiday present, and eebee is offering some discount codes for 20% off and free shipping on the website. Here are the codes if you're interested:

free shipping on orders over $50
coupon code: hooray

20% off thru december 25, 2008
coupon code: eebee20

Check out what everyone else has to say about eebee's adventures on Parent Bloggers also!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My Baby A to Z DVD

We've been working on shapes with Gabe for the last couple of weeks, so we're always on the lookout to find some new ways of showing him different shapes in a fun and interesting way. We jumped at the opportunity to review the My Baby A to Z DVD. My Baby A to Z- Come Explore Shapes With Me DVD introduces the basic shapes to kids through a few adorable puppets, fun music, and snippets of children and animation.

Gabe doesn't seem to care much for television, but he found the Come Explore Shapes With Me DVD to be interesting enough to hold his attention for the whole video. I sat with him, and he would excitedly chatter about the characters on screen and point out the shapes he recognized while the video was playing. It was pretty cute, and made me feel that he was definitely learning and having his shapes reinforced for him through the video.

The creators of the DVD are two parents with a toddler themselves, so they have the inside track on what toddlers find interesting. At 21 months, I thought the video was a little challenging for Gabe and would definitely serve an older audience too. For example, when the characters would ask the viewer a question, the answer period was too short for him, so he ended up opening his mouth to try to say something and the puppet would have moved on. I don't see that as a negative, though, I'm sure that as he gets more adept at pointing out shapes and following along it'll be the perfect speed. And for those of you with older kids, it'll likely be the perfect speed to keep them occupied.

Since watching the DVD over the weekend, Gabe has been pointing out circles, triangles, squares and stars to me all over the place. We had taught him those 4 shapes before watching the DVD, but I think maybe having those characters demonstrate how to find shapes in everyday life clued him into his ability to find them all over the place too. It's been exciting to see him make the connections!

The My Baby A to Z DVD is available on Amazon and on the website, and I happen to have a free copy to give away to one lucky reader! Just leave me a comment and I'll have Gabe draw names out of his Halloween candy bucket! Parent Bloggers are also giving away 20 copies of the DVD on the launch post for the DVD, so stop on by to increase your chances!

Friday, May 16, 2008

the tao of fertility

I'm definitely a fan of trying alternative or holistic medicine. Earlier this week I was trying to convince my OB to write me a prescription for acupuncture to see if it could make a dent on this nausea. Which is horrid, by the way. Truly, truly horrid. But that is the subject for another post.

When Parent Bloggers asked if I'd like to review The Tao of Fertility, I jumped at the opportunity because I figured that Josh and I would start "trying" for a second child in the next 6 months or so, and everything helps. I'm a big fan of acquiring as much information as possible, and I've heard wonder stories about Chinese medicine, so I was fascinated to learn more.

Truthfully, though, I can't speak much to the validity of the methods in the book because before I'd finished the first chapter, I found out I was pregnant. I can, however, confirm that having the book in your house helps you get pregnant, so I'm happy to send the book along to anyone interested in having a good luck charm.

I did find the book interesting and informative, however. I don't know much about Chinese medicine, and although I've heard about its success with infertility, I haven't heard details. The Tao of Fertility assumes no prior knowledge, and lays out fertility advice in a straightforward, clear, and logical way. Dr. Daoshing Ni encourages readers to make serious changes in their lives, from diet and nutrition, to herbs, acupuncture and exercise, and even examining your readiness toward having a child. He discusses his methods in relation to Western medicine, and even provides a 28 day plan for readers to follow.

If you are at all interested in undertaking an alternative approach to fertility, or you'd like to try something before embarking on fertility treatments, I would definitely recommend The Tao of Fertility. Dr. Daoshing Ni keeps the book interesting with his clear tone, and touching vignettes sprinkled throughout.

As I mentioned, I'm happy to forward the book along to a worthy recipient. Email me if you're interested, and if I get more than one request, I'll draw names out of a hat. For more information, check out Parent Bloggers or Amazon to order.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

a website for the less than organized

Gabe's grandparents have serious gripes with me. I take tons of pictures of Gabe, but I rarely upload them to the computer, and once I do, I very rarely forward them along to family and friends. At first, I claimed it was because I didn't want to be obnoxious and overload their inboxes with pictures of Gabe, but the truth is, I'm just kind of lazy. I'd really like to be able to share pictures of Gabe with my family, especially since the last time I went to my inlaws' house, I realized they have almost no pictures of Gabe around the house!

Enter Kinzin. Kinzin is a website for parents and families that allows you to connect with family and friends, communicate with your family and friends, and share pictures and stories - all in a secure environment. Kinzin allows you to create a family page, including sections for each of your children, and then you can invite family and friends to join your page and keep updated on everything going on in your family. By using Kinzin, you can share information with those people you'd like to keep updated, and maintain your privacy at the same time. In an age where so many of us live far away from our extended families, Kinzin can really help. Best of all, Kinzin is free!

Kinzin allows you to upload pictures and stories to your page. You can create memory books, journals, family newsletters, and even more, all on Kinzin! But my favorite feature of all, by far, and the one that has initiated a truce of sorts with the grandparents, is that you can sign up for an additional service that mails your best 10 photos from every month to the address/es of your choice. Each address to which you'd like photos mailed is $2.99, and every third address is free! $2.99! That's it! To have Kinzin automatically mail 10 photos one time per month to the grandparents or great aunts or cousins, and then no one yells at you anymore! No one has anymore excuses for why they don't have pictures of your children featured prominently on their mantle. Plus, it'll help out those non-computer literate members of your families (we all have 'em). Zero effort from you, and voila! You've kept everyone up to date!

Kinzin is easy to use. So far, I've found that the photos are easy to upload, and you can add titles and descriptions of each picture if you'd like. Kinzin also lets you enter short descriptions of what is new in your child's day or week or stage of development. When you invite family and friends to view your website, they don't have to sign up for anything either, your invitation is enough for them to see your page. Kinzin can even be linked up with your Facebook page, if you'd like the news and pictures about your kids to be more public. Kinzin also works with Flickr to pull photos from there instead of your hard drive, if you'd like.

The bottom line is that if you face the same difficulties I do- finding time to email, print, or mail out photos and then send them along to family and friends, or if you'd like a way to share information about your family through a secure network, Kinzin is for you. I've been using it for a couple of weeks now, the first shipment of photos of Gabe shipped out this week, and so far I've received rave reviews. Everyone has updated pictures, and I didn't have to do anything! It's a win-win situation! Plus, the grandparents are happy!

For more information, check out Kinzin or Parent Bloggers to learn more!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

sex, sex, and more sex

If you are having more than enough passionate, intense, HOT HOT HOT sex, then please don't read on. While you're at it, send me tips on how to achieve a sex life like yours, I'd welcome the advice. If you could use a little more of that HOT HOT HOT sex (I can't wait to see what kind of spam I get from this post!), then feel free to read on.

I just finished reading Sex Detox, by Ian Kerner, Ph.D. I have to admit, I wasn't the biggest fan of Dr. Kerner's book, but I did appreciate some of his points. Dr. Kerner's premise is simple- our love lives are in serious disrepair and we need a drastic intervention to correct them.

If we were to undertake a detox of any part of our lives, we would fast from that activity for a period of time. Similarly, Dr. Kerner asks that in order to rejuvenate and renew your relationship, you undertake a "sex fast" for 30 days. If you are not in a relationship, Dr. Kerner's program is still applicable, your "fast" would be from dating or casual sex. I didn't read through the sections for single people, but that was the basic idea. During those 30 days, Dr. Kerner provides you with assignments, questionnaires, readings, and exercises to assist you throughout the process.

Dr. Kerner gives scientific explanations for why a Sex Detox will improve your relationship, or your search for a relationship. It makes sense if you think about the Sex Detox creating anticipation and excitement in a relationship that has become boring or lackluster. The Sex Detox is more than just a fast from sex, though, it is a way to change the course of your sex life. A Sex Detox gives you the time and emotional energy to address any problems that exist in your sex life. Hopefully, at the end of Dr. Kerner's sexual fasting, you will learn how to connect with your partner in a new and exciting way.

The book includes stories of people who have undertaken the Sex Detox and improved their lives in some fundamental way. I found the stories interesting (although often very graphic), and I particularly appreciated Dr. Kerner including stories from same-sex couples, something I haven't seen often in self-help books.

Now comes the moment of truth. I understand the idea, and I don't doubt that Sex Detox can work for some people. Did we try the program? No, not exactly. Our sex life isn't perfect, and I'd certainly like to have more of it, but neither I nor Josh see our sex life as toxic. Without getting into too much detail, we have a one year old and Josh works long hours, and those are what we believe to be our main problems, not a problem specific to our sex life. I just wasn't sure that taking a 30 day break from having sex was going to help us.

On to the criticism I have of the program. While Dr. Kerner makes several interesting points and provides very pertinent research backing up his ideas, I didn't like that he proposes undertaking a Sex Detox whether or not your partner agrees. I don't know about you, but if my partner up and decided to take on a 30 day sexual fast, and didn't give me a say in it, I'd be pretty pissed. It would definitely drive a wedge in our relationship. I think this is the type of thing a couple has to agree on, or at least agree that it is an area that needs improvement and assistance. I also just don't believe that there is a one size fits all program that can improve everyone's sex lives, especially when many people arrive into relationships with serious emotional baggage that impair their ability to have healthy and loving sex lives.

That being said, Sex Detox is an interesting read, and definitely worth a shot if you're looking to make a change in your sex life. The program is thorough, well-written, and easy to understand. Check out some of the other reviews on Parent Bloggers to see what other readers have to say about the success or failure of Sex Detox! Dr. Kerner will also be on the Motherhood Uncensored radio show on 2/20 from 9-9:30pm EST if you'd like to hear more!

Monday, January 7, 2008

ice, anyone?

It is an understatement to say that it's been cold around these parts lately. It's been icy, and frigid, and icy, and snowy, and icy, and COLD. Really, really cold. One day a couple of weeks ago, I had to visit 6 stores to try to find ice melt for our driveway, and was out of luck every single time. Josh had to try to break up the ice with the edge of the shovel and hope that no one slipped on what remained.

As you can imagine, I try not to leave the house with Gabe when we're in the middle of these kinds of freezes, but sometimes I have no choice. Luckily, I received two Prestone products for my car through Parent Bloggers that came in handy during those times. I tested out Prestone's Windshield De-Icer and Windshield Fluid Booster. I have to admit that I'm a fan of additives. I've bought Prestone's fuel additives for the last few years, and I don't know, but I think they help. I like thinking that I'm helping out my car by giving it a little boost. I felt the same way about the ice fighters.

The Windshield Fluid Booster is a specially formulated concentration that you add directly to a vehicle's washer fluid reservoir. This powerful formula helps improve ordinary washer fluid performance to remove light ice and frost, repels the build-up of dirt and salt from road spray and helps prevent dangerous re-freeze from forming on a car's windshield.

I added the Windshield Fluid Booster last week, and although we didn't have tons of ice build-up during this last week, I did notice a marked improvement in the dirt and salt build-up. In the winter, I'll have to run my windshield wipers several times during a short drive because other cars kick up tons of gunk onto my windshield. After adding the Windshield Fluid Booster, I ran the wipers and washed my windshield once and didn't have to do it again. I felt like the windshield seemed clearer and didn't look nearly as dirty once we'd arrived at our destination. Even Josh commented that the windshield looked better. Prestone also sells a special winter washer fluid that I think I'm going to buy.

The second product, the Windshield De-Icer is made from a concentrated high performance ice-melting formula. The product, when sprayed on car windows, helps melt ice fast and even reduces dangerous refreeze. It also has a convenient ice scraper top to help clear away ice.
The Windshield De-Icer is the type of canister that you would keep in your car for days when you find your windshield frozen and in need of scraping. You can either spray the windshield and then try to scrape it off, or you can use the scraper that comes attached to the can. The Windshield De-Icer formula seems especially convenient because the scraper and spray are attached, so you only need one product. In a huge freeze, where you walk out to find inches of ice on your windshield, I think that you might need another larger scraper to assist you, but for thinner layers of ice on your windshield, or for frozen wipers or patches of ice, I think this product would be great.

Boston winters can be tough, and I'm always looking for ways to make life easier (especially since we have a one car garage and I don't park inside). I don't have tons of time to spend on icy mornings scraping the car, especially now that I have Gabriel. I can't leave him alone while I run outside, and I hate to leave him in a cold car for too long. I think the Prestone products, both the Windshield Fluid Booster and the Windshield De-Icer help to make icy mornings easier and faster. I'd definitely give them a try if you face snowy and icy days as well.

Check out Parent Bloggers or Prestone for more information!

Friday, November 30, 2007

autolite flareglo

For some reason, I tend to hit curbs when I turn corners. I'm sure it has nothing to do with being a bad driver or spatially challenged or something, I suspect the curbs jump out at me when I'm not looking. I've had to replace two tires in the last three years because I hit curbs and the tire blew out. Once as I pulled into the parking lot of my friend's apartment building, and another time in the parking lot of huge baby superstore. Slightly pitiful, I admit.

Both times were at night, and both times my car ended up stranded in the middle of a trafficky area and all I had at my disposal to ensure that no one hit me were my hazard lights. Both times I also thought to myself that it would have been pretty helpful to have had flares or cones or something that would make people realize before they were practically on top of me, that my car was unable to move.

I'm pleased to report that I now have that product: the Autolite Flareglo. The Flareglo Safety Lite is a small battery operated light that serves the way traditional flares would, without the whole live flame thing. Each Flareglo has three super bright LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights inside of a small red plastic casing. The lights blink rapidly and can be seen from up to 500 feet away. I didn't actually measure out 500 feet to test it out, but I did walk down the street while Josh stood at one end to make sure the lights were easily visible, and according to my tester (Josh), the lights are easy to see and really obviously blinking.

The Flareglo Safety Lites were compact and easy to store in the car, an issue for us since I am a rather serious packrat in my car. These are small enough to fit in a safety kit in your car, or even in the glove compartment if it wasn't packed full of napkins and straws like some people. The batteries were also easy to install in each Flareglo. My only complaint was that one of the tiny LED lights was burnt out in one of the Flareglo lights I received, and I wasn't sure how to go about replacing it. The light still worked fine, since there are three LED lights in each Flareglo, but it did make me wonder whether there is an easy way to replace the bulbs. This is a minor concern, though, if you consider the fact that with flares you'd have to keep flammable stuff in your car. Batteries and LED lights are more reasonable, especially with kids around.

All in all, I'd recommend the Autolite Flareglo Safety Lites, especially if you have a penchant for having car emergencies. I think they'll come in handy in the future, especially now that I'm carrying precious cargo around with me. Check out the rest of the reviews at Parent Bloggers and for more information about the other Autolite products.