We live in a world filled with creepy-crawlies. We’ve also become more and more aware of them each year. From dust mites to mosquitoes, seemingly nuisance pests are wreacking more and more havoc. Then, each spring moms are starting to cut their boys’ hair to make it easier to do tick checks (all our friends are nervous about ticks after our Lyme Disease issues). Other than ticks, our biggest tiny bug anxiety is about lice.
Do you remember that feeling of squickiness and shame when the school nurse found out you had lice? ick But now parents are not only worried about eliminating the lice and nits, but also worried about using pesticides on their children’s heads in order to kill off the lice. Everyone needs to comb every strand of hair, but coating the head in olive oil or mayonaise and then a hair thingie for 3 hours seems to work, but not everyone can do that. The kind folks at MomCentral have teamed up with Lice MD to show parents that there’s an alternative to pesticides sitting on their pharmacy shelf.
LiceMD Hair Lice & Egg Treatment was easy for me to find on the pharmacy shelves, it was right near all the pesticide-filled treatments. The pricing is also comparable, which was encouraging, as many natural products are priced significantly higher than the non-natural products. Plus at Lice MD.com you can download a $1 off coupon (but only if you are using Windows).
LiceMD has created a product that has many advantages over pesticides, and even some over the oil-on-head method. The product eliminates lice in 10 minutes after it has been applied (much nicer than 3 hours!), and also super-conditions the hair to make it easier to comb through. The LiceMD Hair Lice & Egg Treatment includes a patented lice comb, and after the treatment has sat for the 10 minutes, you need to comb every section of hair very carefully. They suggest using bobby pins to section off the completed hair.
You do need to check your child’s head daily for 10 days and also wash bedding and clean your house, but because LiceMD Hair Lice & Egg Treatment has no pesticides it doesn’t contribute to pesticide-resistent lice, and also can be used more than once if the lice recur.
My children didn’t get lice during my review time, but I’m very impressed with the LiceMD Hair Lice & Egg Treatment and the information on the LiceMD webpage. This is good information to be saved for later use! It’s nice to know that companies are making pesticide-free options for lice treatment!
I spend a lot of my time with my girls and pups taking pictures, which we post in blogs and on flickr. The joy of digital cameras is that you can delete the bad pictures, and crop the images so that the pics you select are exactly what you want to share with your friends and family. There are a lot of programs and websites where you can share pictures online, but there aren’t many where you can choose who can see the pictures of your kids OR sites that easily mail your digital images to someone who might not have a camputer. Kinzin is a program that allows you to limit who can view your pictures, and will mail 10 pictures to any address once a month. With out of state family and great-grandparents without computers, (and far too many unfulfilled promises about mailing prints) we were eager to review the service for PBN.
Kinzin works independently, or in conjunction with Facebook as a social networking site that allows you to personally invite and restrict individuals access to pictures of your kids. In addition, you can make books that are grouped around a certain child, an event, or anything else. Our current “book” is filled with spring pictures of the girls. Additionally, you can tag your kids with what they are currently doing, just as you do for yourself in other social networking sites.
The Kinzin interface is easy to use, you simply add a page to a book, and there’s a pull-down menu for importing an image from your computer, flickr, or a couple other places. Selecting from flickr was easy – I just chose a flickr set and clicked – the title and caption were brought over, too! It’s really handy to have all our spring pictures in one place that is easy to browse! If you want to share your pictures online only, without the automated mailing, Kinzin is completely free, and happily without ads!
Once you have added pictures to Kinzin, check out your “outbox” and make sure you delete any duplicates (I forgot to do that the first time, oops!). Then you can sign up to have Kinzin deliver 10 pictures to any address for $2.99/month. Right now, if you add a 3rd address, it’s free! Who can resist a bargain?
We sent pictures to my grandmother in Connecticut, my husband’s parents & grandparents in Texas, and my father and step-mom who live about an hour away. All 3 were very impressed with the pictures – they are beautifully printed, and come in a nice envelope. My grandmother lives in an assisted living place, and her pictures came at breakfast, and she was the talk of the dining room! She was so proud to show off her great-grandchildren!
The one problem I noticed is that I am used to viewing images online rather than having them printed. So, there needed to be some black framing on a few images because I didn’t crop them for printing as a 4×6.
Overall, I really like Kinzin – it’s easy to use, a fun and safe way to share pictures online, and the automated photo-mailing means that your relatives will really get your pictures, rather than just your intentions to mail pictures!
We happily give Kinzin 5/5 spotlights, with a few added beams from our very pleased family members who finally received long-promised prints!
We have always tried to make our birthday party invitations stand out a bit. We’ve made collages out of construction paper, and customized invitations made using theme-appropriate clip art on the computer. However, since BG was turning 10 this year, we were thrilled to team up with PBN to review birthday party invitations by tiny prints.
I worked with BG to choose an invitation (this one) and a picture (this one). It was remarkably easy to enter the invitation and choose the image on tiny prints. The hardest part was really narrowing down the invitation – there were so many great choices! There was a problem with how the image would print on our invitations, so the tiny prints folks contacted us and made it very easy for us to upload a new image (this one), which wouldn’t be grainy. The customer service folks were friendly and very helpful, and we fixed it quickly. (The pic of the invite is before the change)
Once we had the invitations ordered, they shipped quickly and arrived here a day or so before they were expected! We were very impressed with the quality of the paper and the sharpness of the image, text, and design. These are beautiful invitations that people will enjoy putting up on their wall/fridge! BG is thrilled with the invites, and loves the attention.
We weren’t going to need the minimum order of 25 invitations, but because the invitations are lovely, we decided to send a few to out-of-state family members as well as children we were inviting. It was a great way of making the out-of-state folks feel very included. Even if they can’t attend, they know they were wanted.
The responses about the invitations have been overwhelming. It really catches your attention, and people loved seeing a recent picture of BG. While I’m not sure our budget could allow us to use these invitations for 3 parties a year, they are very, very special, and perfect for a milestone birthday such as BG’s 10th or for another special occasion.
After navigating the website, ordering, and receiving invitations from tiny prints, I highly reccomend them. Great quality and wonderful customer service. We give them 5/5 spotlights!
We are continuing our reviews on Social Skills DVDs (check out our previous review of Skill Builder Buddies) in partnership with the Parent Bloggers Network in recognition of April as Autism Awareness Month. Our oldest daughter lives with Sensory Integration Disorder and other related issues, so we have spent many years focusing on social skills awareness, and scripting how situations will play out. Leave a comment on the Parent Bloggers Network Blog for a chance to win both DVDs!
Kibbles Rockin’ Clubhouse vol. 1 Expressing Yourself is a DVD from NoteAbilities, which is aimed at children ages 2-7 with Autistic Spectrum Disorders and other associated issues. If you’ve struggled with helping your child understand how others are feeling, you might need more tools to help your child recognize emotions in others and cope with their own emotions. Kibbles Rockin’ Clubhouse is a great way to add tools to your toolbox and to your child’s toolbox in a fun way with catchy songs.
Hosts “Handy Sam” and “Miss Angela” (as well as Kibbles the dog) lead a group of four children through activities and songs. Each activity helps children with their emotions and building their skillset to cope with emotions and recognize emotions in others. Throughout Kibbles Rockin’ Clubhouse, Miss Angela and Handy Sam demonstrate, sing about, and talk to the children so they can learn how to cope with anger, frustration, and other emotions. We really liked the song refrains of “use your mouth to ask for things”, “take 3 deep breaths and count to 10″, “I’m OK when things don’t go my way”, and “I can accept no as an answer”!
In Kibbles Rockin’ Clubhouse, there is also a segment called “Kibbles World”, in which Kibbles the dog can talk, and helps the kids identify emotions, and work on their “use your words” skills. Kibbles also adds some activities that are interactive – Kibbles gives you a problem, and goes through the options, and the studio audience chips in with the answers. My girls were quick to chime in with the answers as well, and always love talking dogs. Using a style that is reminiscent of “Elmo’s World” and “Blue’s Room”, Kibble’s World engages the children and almost tricks them into participating.
I really liked the messages in In Kibbles Rockin’ Clubhouse, and thought that they were well-executed. There were examples of “good” and “bad” ways of dealing with anger, meeting people, and coping with strong emotions. Some DVDs only show the “good” way of dealing with a situation, which doesn’t feel realistic to me or my kids. The songs are very well integrated into the action, and the songs are fun and very, very catchy, yet not overly sweet. I was happy to find a fun, song-filled DVD that is aimed at helping children with life skills.
Regardless of how I feel about Kibbles Rockin’ Clubhouse, it was important what my daughters thought of the DVD, they won’t watch DVDs just because I like it. All three enjoyed the songs, and were up dancing for each one. They all agreed that this DVD gave them tools to help them through problems. While some of the tools mentioned in Kibbles Rockin’ Clubhouse were strategies I had already discussed with the girls, somehow it sticks better when it’s on a DVD with a great soundtrack! When Kibbles Rockin’ Clubhouse was over, the girls were upset, asking “is that all there is?” We quickly found the “Special Features” section, which includes a bonus Kibbles World episode, and a karaoke option for the songs inside Kibbles Rockin’ Clubhouse. They were also thrilled that there is a sing-a-long CD we can play in the car, too. As the parent who has to listen to most of the songs, I can safely say that these songs are much better than most childen’s music, and the fact that they have a message makes them even better – catchy and fun without being insipid.
While it’s too early to say if the strategies presented in Kibbles Rockin’ Clubhouse will make lasting changes, it did help recently when my oldest daughter got frustrated at the beach. We were able to work through her anger, and get to the root of the trouble rather than just patching up the surface issue. I’m crossing my fingers that this DVD will help reinforce the messages I’ve been teaching, and it will be in our “to watch” stack for the foreseeable future! If you are looking for a Social Skills DVD, Kibbles Rockin’ Clubhouse is the one to get!
Mrs. Perfect is Jane Porter’s newest novel. If you read Odd Mom Out when it was released last fall, you will recognize several of the characters, as Mrs. Perfect is also set in a well-off Seattle neighborhood. If you didn’t have a chance to read it, the storyline in Odd Mom Out focused on Marta Zinsser, a newcomer who moved into the area as a single, working mother when the other moms in the area are well-dressed, wealthy, at-home moms with nannies. Taylor Young, the main character in Mrs. Perfect, is one of those “perfect” moms from Odd Mom Out, but now we learn the rest of the story – sometimes life isn’t as perfect as it looks. While both books can be read as stand-alone novels, I highly recommend reading both, and not just because Jane Porter’s novels are addicting; they are great reads.
Jane Porter has written more than 20 romance novels for Harlequin, and has written several wonderful chick lit novels for 5-Spot as well. Jane has taken incidents in her own life, and spun them into fiction that captures your attention and imagination, pulling you along for a fabulous ride. Jane’s writing skills help blur the line between romance and chick lit – her characters in her romance novels come alive just as much as her chick lit characters, and while she uses her memories of time spent traveling in her romances, she seems to put more of her self in her books for 5-Spot. Jane was nice enough to chat with us about the lines between fact and fiction in books today. Read the rest of the review
April is Autism awareness month! Parent Bloggeers Network is hosting two concurrent blog tours about edutainment DVDs for children with special needs, especially children with speech/language or autistic spectrum disorders. You can win a copy of the DVDs by commenting over at PBN.
Skill Building Buddies is a DVD by Mazzarella Media aimed at kids ages 5-12 with language or autistic spectrum disorders. If you have a child in either of these categories, you will definitely want to check it out, as it helps teach a positive way of working through transitions. Even if you have a child without any labels, but one who has trouble with transitions, you’ll want to read on to learn more about Skill Building Buddies!
The strategy for staying calm throughout transitions in Skill Building Buddies is “Look” “Listen” and “Stay Calm”, and the DVD comes with cards that can be used to remind kids of these three tips. There is a pattern of cartoon explanation, live-action demonstration, then cartoon. After two live-action segments, there’s a song break. This pattern can be comforting to children, especially when they are children who prefer patterns and dislike change!
In Skill Building Buddies children are presented with an expected or unexpected change/transition. The cartoon characters show hosts Mikey and Mandy introduce each live action character’s issue, and discuss how they handle it. The children’s changes include needing to watch TV in a different room & chair, not having your favorite snack, needing to move from clay to reading, having to stay inside for recess, and when your friends want to change games. Each live-action character’s change is a day-to-day issue, something that isn’t life-shattering, but children can relate to as a source of frustration/anger/sadness. The theme song sings “when things change, you’ll be ok”, a great message for everyone!
I really liked the message in Skill Building Buddies, and the way the DVD reinforced a coping strategy that could be used in a wide variety of situations. Look at the person, listen to what they are saying, and then stay calm and move on – that’s a great coping strategy for everyone. In the segments, the children asked questions a few times, showing their frustration, but they all went along with the change. I would have liked to see one segment where the child did not go along with the change, and instead threw a tantrum (as a what not to do), but I know that there would be children who mimicked the tantrum rather than the coping strategies.
My 4 year old really liked Skill Building Buddies, but my 7 year old thought there were too many singing breaks. That said, she was singing the song days after watching the DVD, and called it “catchy”. My oldest (almost 10) has some learning differences, and she was upset that the DVD didn’t pay attention to the different ways children responded to the change – some just accepted it, some asked questions, etc. I think she wanted reassurance that it was OK not to like the change, but you needed to cope with it anyhow. My oldest also pointed out that the majority of scenes took place in a school, and since we homeschool, she didn’t relate to them as much. Finally, she was upset that in a DVD about change they didn’t change up the format (segment, segment, song). She did admit that the coping strategy might be helpful, and she’s willing to try it to see if it’s useful for her.
If you have a child diagnosed on the Autistic Spectrum, I strongly recommend picking up Skill Building Buddies. Watching the DVD multiple times will help reinforce a positive coping strategy for dealing with change. Changes and transitions are hard for all children, and we can all learn more ways of facilitating positive interactions despite our frustrations. We recommend Skill Building Buddies to anyone who needs help with transitions and change. We look forward to seeing additional titles from Mazzarella Media, and give Skill Building Buddies 4 out of 5 spotlights.
If you are over the age of 40, you can make a video from one of the songs from the Mamma Mia movie. You can audition in New York City, or you can do it at home and send them the video. Winners are going to win a lavish trip to London to live the life of the 3 Dynamos at the World Premiere of Mamma Mia!
You know, it’s been a while since I wanted to be older, but now I wish I was over 40! C’mon folks, go enter the contest, you can audition on 4/28 in NYC or submit it online by 4/30 – so you have a little more than a week. Winners will be posted on the Ponds site on May 23. I can’t wait to see some videos!
All three girls (almost-10, almost-8, 4 1/2) sat in rapt attention when I started Hip Hop Harry, and even the older girls quickly started repeating after Harry, “I say ‘hip hop’, you say ‘Harry’! ‘Hip Hop’”, “Harry!” Hip Hop Harry’s main character is a human-sized teddy bear who leads the children through activities in this live-action show. Unlike the bear in “Bear and the Big Blue House”, the bear in Hip Hop Harry doesn’t have a moving mouth, but that didn’t seem to make any difference to the kids at all. In the picture on the right, I caught them during one of the few moments they were sitting down. Harry quickly had them on their feet, dancing and rapping with him.
I’m not a big fan of rap music, but the songs were fun and catchy enough that I occasionally find myself humming them. With songs like “I love to learn!”, they are a fun way to teach concepts and encourage kids to sing, rhyme, and move. One segment I really enjoyed was when the kids learned to exercise using a hula hoop, showing them that any time you move your body, you are exercising, and exercising can be a lot of fun! I have very active girls, my kids spend all day moving, so getting them to exercise isn’t top on my list of parenting issues, but it’s great to reinforce early that exercise doesn’t equal something distasteful.
Here’s a little video of the girls dancing around with the Hip Hop Harry: Move Those Feet DVD. It was rather hard to make even this short of a video, as the girls were up and down and all around with their moves, so keeping them in the frame was tricky!
Hip Hop Harry: Move Those Feet gets 5 spotlights out of 5 from the Gaggle of Girls! It’s a great way to get kids moving, plus there’s a lot of thinking and learning. A great combination. This was enjoyed by all 3 girls, ages 4-10, and they think that kids a little older and/or a little younger would also like the DVD as well. We’re going to try to check out the show on Discovery Kids and pick up the second DVD, Hip Hop Harry – Fun with Friends!
Blood Moon is an intense soon-to-be released novel by A. W. Gryphon. Blood Moon is Gryphon’s first book, and it is also the first novel in the planned Witches Moon Trilogy. As with several other books I’ve read recently, this one is hard to categorize. It deals with Wicca and Witchcraft, so it could be paranormal or urban fantasy, yetBlood Moon is also a mystery, and it could also fit as a women’s fiction novel as we uncover a woman’s childhood and the facts of her mother’s life. Regardless, this is a book that will capture your interest from the beginning, and it will be hard to put down before the story is complete. Read the rest of the review
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