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Toddler & Preschool iPad Case Reviews

Kids on their iPads, Case Review

My kids have been blessed with grandparents who believe in the benefits of technology. Because of this, each of the kids has been an unlikely recipient of an ipad by the time they turned two. It is an amazing tool, even in the hands of a toddler and preschooler. We do limit the amount of time they spend using it, but its ability to entertain and educate has been a priceless. Like most parents, we try to choose apps wisely – mostly educational and skill-building apps, and also ones that engage their creativity (more on those later).

Being the sensitive (and expensive) handheld devices they are, an iPad can’t survive little hands without a case. Chloe’s case was chosen by Grandpa and still looks good after almost three years. It is a pink Hard Candy Street Skin Case. It fits very snug, but can be pulled off (by adults) to clean when needed. It also came with a solid screen cover, which is nice when its going into a carry-on and might rub against things. For Chloe it was perfect. She has had no problem carrying it around and her iPad has been safe ever since.

When Leo received his iPad, I had a hard time finding blog-style reviews on cases and mostly had to rely on amazon ratings. Eventually I chose a blue i-Blason ArmorBox Kido Series case. It’s been great! At the time, Chloe’s case was selling for $40 on Amazon. The i-Blason is $20. The soft handle makes it very easy to carry and use for little ones, and I often choose this iPad when watching movies at night because of the handy, built-in stand. Although it is more padded than Chloe’s, it still feels nice, and the iPad is quite protected. The only negative is the case density cuts down slightly on the sound quality, but it just means the sound has to go up a bit more. Overall, I’m really happy with this choice and would recommend it as an affordable choice that I would buy again.

Hope this helps others who are looking to buy a good iPad protection for their kids, and I’d love to hear what case you are using!


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Spring Flowerpot Makeover + Elmer’s Paint Markers Giveaway!

Leave a comment on this post before midnight tonight, April 4th, for your chance to win a set of Elmer’s Paint Markers and a $25 Walmart gift card. See details below!

A couple weeks ago I was approached about doing an Elmer’s product review and giveaway. My reply? Yes! I’ve always wanted to do a product review, and you know how I love art supplies! With the arrival of springtime, blooming plants, and sunshine, I figured a painted pot project would be just the thing!

To begin the project, I stopped by to a local thrift shop to pick up a pot. Hmm… which lucky pot would be going home with me? How about this one:

It would be perfect for our front porch. I brought it home for a little TLC, including a thorough scrubbing and a coat of semi-gloss white paint.

Then my Elmer’s Paint Markers arrived. Wow! These are not like any paint marker I’ve ever used. The colors are bright and the flow is just right. At first I kept doodling test sketches of flowers, but then I realized a friendly greeting might be more appropriate for near the front door.

Like any paint, you have to shake the pens before using. To get the paint flowing, you depress the tip on a dry surface. I had a piece of paper to do this on before I painted the pot. I was pleased to see that the marker caps were true indicators of the paint color, and that they fit snugly – not only is the product protected from drying out, but I don’t have to worry about my little ones being able to open them without my supervision. They are also non-toxic, acid-free and fast drying. I was able to lay down the green lines and then draw the blue letters on top shortly after. I did go over the filled-in areas a second time, just to ensure a solid coat. Over all, I was pleasantly surprised. I can see many possible future uses for these little pens!

What do you think? Want to paint your own flower pot, or have some other project in mind where paint markers would be handy? Then you’re in luck because this post includes a giveaway!

Enter to win a set of Elmer’s Painters AND a $25 Walmart gift card!

To enter, leave a comment below (or by clicking “comments” under the title above to add your comment). That’s it! Yay!

More details: This is not a paid review. I was simply given a pack of markers to try, which I sincerely enjoyed. Winner will receive a 5-pack of medium Tip sherbet swirl painters which includes: Ocean, Lilac, Citron, Coral and Tangerine, AND a $25 Walmart gift card. This contest is open to residents of the US and must be 18 years or older. Giveaway ends on Thursday, April 4 at midnight PST. Winner will be drawn on April 5 using random.org. Please be sure to leave a valid email address so I can contact you. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours a new winner will be chosen. Good luck!


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Go see AVATAR

Words cannot express how awesome this movie is. The story is one we can all benefit from and the visuals are outstanding. It is simply something that you have to go experience for yourself. And I mean Experience. The 3D effects kept making me say “Oh my God!” over and over in my head. And don’t expect the included RealD glasses to be last generation’s flimsy red lens/blue lens cereal-box junk either. They are actually surprisingly comfortable black plastic, and lightweight enough to make it through the entire movie. Just be sure to recycle them in the designated bin when your done. And don’t forget turn your head for a peek back at the rest of the audience wearing their goofy black glassess, too. 🙂


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New Mother's Breast Pads Review

Rachel‘s comment on this post reminded me that I’ve had this breast pad review sitting in my drafts folder for months. I don’t know why I never got around to posting it. Anyway, after breastfeeding for 6 months, my need for pads has certainly lessened, although I still use them  regularly. Here are the ones I’ve tried, and my personal opinion and recommendations:

DISPOSABLE BRANDS

Medela Disposable Nursing Bra Pads ($9.99/60, 4.75″dia)
♥
♥♥♥♥ (5 stars)
Overall: Discreet and comfortable
These are the pads I use most often. They are comfortable, but more importantly, they are thin and discreet. There are two pleats which helps contour the pad (place pleats below the nipple) and the design tapers to the edge. There is only a small square of adhesive toward the top, which is just enough to keep it from shifting.

Evenflo Comfort Select with Lanolin – ($7.99/60, 4.75″dia)
♥
♥♥♥ (4 stars)
Overall: Soft and comfortable
These are one of my favorites. They are large but thin, and packaged in pairs. The inside lining (which is inexplicably purple) is soft against skin, wicks moisture away and contains a layer of lanolin. Their large size helps keep shifting to a minimum. They are nicely absorbent and after being used you can feel it’s gel-like core. These pads are less likely to be seen under clothes, although they do show occasionally since I favor thin bras and tees.

Gerber Ultra-Thin ($5.99/60, 4″dia)
♥♥♥♥ (4 stars)
Overall: A perfectly basic and affordable pad.
I love how simple and basic these thin pads are, with a breathable moisture barrier and nicely defined edges. For a while, I would alternate between this brand and the Evenflo brand, above. No frills, but economical, slip resistant, and comfortable (although probably not the best for heavy leakers). They are not individually packaged, which I liked because there was no wasted packaging and I could access them quickly straight out of the box.

Playtex ($7.99/60, 5×4″oval)
♥
♥♥ (3 stars)
Overall: Probably better for heavy leakers.
These pads are contoured with a thread of elastic gather on the top and bottom. They are bulkier than the ones above, but provide a decent fit under clothing, despite a bit of lumpiness. They come individually packaged in a soft, quite wrapper which is nice when I need to change them in the middle of the night and don’t want to wake my husband and baby. The large adhesive section on the back bugs me, though, because the adhesive backing is attached to the packaging. This makes it easy to remove, but doesn’t give you the choice to leave the backing on if you don’t want to use the adhesive. They feel like they have an absorbent core which feels like gel after it has been used.

Philips AVENT Disposable ($4.99/40)
♥ (1 star)
Overall: These suck.
This was the first box of pads I bought, and they turned out to be the worst. At first I wondered if I had a bad experience because it was the time when my nipples were sorest, but no, I’ve read other reviews with my same complaints. First of all, they are thick, so they show through clothes. The perimeter of the pad was very itchy, and I found that the pad itself would often stick to my skin, leaving tiny fibers behind that I then had to wipe off so that I didn’t feed them to baby. At night, they shifted quite a lot, despite a tiny patch of adhesive, and I ended up leaking. The funny thing is, I thought this packaging looked trustworthy. Hah!

WASHABLE / REUSABLE BRANDS

Dr. Brown’s Lace Washable ($10.95/4, 4.75″dia)
♥♥♥♥ (4 stars)
I like to wear these when they are clean, which only seems to be immediately after the laundry is done. They are 100% breathable, soft, absorbent cotton and are contoured for a comfortable fit. The outer side is lace, which provides slip resistance. They are puffy, but look okay under clothing, except in certain lighting situations where their round shape can be seen. Comes with a net washing bag.

Philips AVENT Washable ($5.49/6, 3.75″dia)
♥♥ (2 stars)
These are smaller than the Dr. Browns, and tend to shift more, especially at night. They look similar, although the cotton material that lies against the skin on these has become more pilled, despite less washings. The only real benefit I’ve had from this brand is that the smaller size fits in the front of my only padded nursing bra (I prefer nursing tanks, or thin material bras). I would not buy these again.  Also comes with a net washing bag.

Lillypadz – ($20/pair, 3″ dia.)
I got a pair of these re-usable nursing pads early on. They are an alternative to traditional pads, as they are made from non-absorbant silicone. One side of the pad is slightly tacking and adheres to the breast with what feels like a bit of suction, while also pressing against the nipple.
Pros: Lillypadz are thin, flexible and comfortable, washable and re-usable, and practically undetectable under clothing.
Cons: After a short while it seemed as if skin oils and some clothing fibers were collecting on the pad and not washing off. Silicone is not breathable (air circulation is necessary for maintaining skin and nipple health), and occasionally small pockets of air can collect around the nipple, which then can fill during let down. If on too long, the milk can force its way out and leak. One pair costs about $20.


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Baby Carrier Recommendation – Beco vs. Ergo

During our recent trip we decided to leave the stroller at home, making our Beco baby carrier a constant companion. Carriers are an indispensable parenting tool, keeping baby safe and close while conveniently allowing the hands free to do other things.

Before our daughter was born, my husband found a local store that carried both Moby Wraps and Ergo Carriers, so that we could try them out. This is where we were introduced to the Beco. I was hesitant at first, because A) I had never heard of the Beco, B) it was more expensive, and C) I already felt sold on the Ergo from all the good things my friends had to say. However, the sales lady was very knowledgeable, and clearly stated the differences so that we could decide for ourselves. In the end, we decided on both a Moby (which I also highly recommend) and a Beco (which David preferred over the Ergo).

Since I don’t own an Ergo, I can’t speak from experience of having both, but they have a very good reputation. However, there are several features which set the Beco apart. The feature my husband liked best (besides the fact that the Beco fit us both equally well) was that the Beco sits baby in a pouch, so that even if the waist belt somehow came undone, the baby would not fall through. This makes transferring the baby from person to person, which I have done, very easy. On the Ergo, a person to person transfer is impossible without taking the baby out completely and then re-settling her into the carrier. The Ergo’s waist belt forms the pouch, so the baby is only secure if the waist belt is fastened.

The initial cost of a Beco is more than the initial cost of an Ergo, however the Beco comes with the infant insert, and the Ergo’s must be purchased separately for an extra $25-$38. The Beco insert attaches to a large velcro strip on the inside of the pouch creating a raised seat, suitable for newborns and infants. The Ergo insert looks like a small, thick quilt, in which you wrap the baby (much like a hot dog bun) before inserting her into the carrier. Both carriers come with an adjustable hood. The Beco hood is removable and tucks into the front of the waistbelt. Tthe Ergo’s is permanently attached and tucks into the front pouch.

Another appealing feature of the Beco is it’s thinner profile and the multiple available patterns. I am stopped surprisingly often by curious and admiring mothers and grandmothers asking what brand it is. We have the River print (shown above). The one feature that the Ergo has that I’d love on the Beco is a zipper pocket.

Regardless of anyone’s opinion, there is no way of knowing which bag is right for you and your baby until you try them on yourself. We purchased ours before the baby came, so we wouldn’t have to bother with it afterward. Honestly, I highly recommend either one, especially if you’re into attachment parenting or just want the convenience of a safe and alternative mode of transportation, other than a stroller.


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One Mother's Unbiased Disposable Diaper Review

We have been so fortunate when it comes to diapers. Not only did we benefit from a diaper raffle during our baby shower, but also were given a year’s worth of diapers from my mom. On top of that, David’s co-worker gave us bags of unused diapers (her baby was born large) and just last week, a neighbor left a package of diapers on our doorstep. Free diapers are a wonderful thing.

Because of our good luck, we’ve been able to try a lot of different brands and given them a run for their money. I’ve listed below thoughts from our experience, but of course, what works well for one baby might be different for another. Feel free to provide your own reviews and comments below.

(All diapers tested were size 1 except for the swaddlers and seventh generation which were newborn size, and the Huggies which were size 1-2. Prices listed are for size 1 diapers at diapers.com).

Pampers Swaddlers 44ct/$11.99
My friends and I agree that these are pretty much the best. Soft and plush, with an almost cloth-like feel. I don’t think we’ve ever experienced a blow out.The shape is contoured and the fit is superb. This is what they gave out for newborns at our hospital. I could do without the light “baby fresh” scent and the Sesame Street character design, though.
Overall: One of my favorite diapers. ♥♥♥♥♥ (5 stars)

♣ Nature Babycare Diapers 44ct/$11.99
Currently the greenest diaper available – Environmentally friendly, natural, breathable, 100% chlorine free, latex free and fragrance free. Even the packaging is 100% natural and biodegradable. The fit of these diapers is very good. I particularly like their simple print – matte white (although slightly papery) and dotted with tiny abstract leaves. To roll up a used diaper, you have to attach the two tabs together, otherwise it will not stay closed.
Overall: My eco-friendly favorite. ♥♥♥♥ (4.5 stars)

♣ gDiapers 2pk starter kit $26.99/40pk refills $14.99
An earth-friendly “hybrid” diaper which consists of a soft, washable cotton outer “pant” in which you place a disposable breathable liner held by a nylon sleeve. The liner can be flushed, composted or simply thrown away. We never actually flushed them because I read tales that made me cautious with our older pipes.

These are the cutest-looking diapers by far, but you’ll need a number of the pants and liners. It’s easiest when you have time to place a bunch of liners in sleeves before hand, instead of one-at-a-time during a diaper change. Then you can just snap them into the pant when you need one. Overall, more time consuming, plus you have to use a trash can liner since you can’t roll up the used liner neatly. The sleeve also tends to stain. We used these during the day, but chose a traditional diaper for nighttime. Note: You must close the velcro tabs before washing or they will catch on and damage other articles that are in the wash with them. We learned this the hard way.
Overall: Super-cute alternative to traditional diapers ♥♥♥♥ (4 stars)

♣ Seventh Generation 44ct/$12.99
A good, chlorine-free diaper. The fit on these were good, but the size ran a little small. A bit papery. Their plain tan color (from brown pigment) definitely sets them apart from other diapers.
Overall: A good, basic, chlorine free option. ♥♥♥ (3 stars)

♣ Earth’s Best 42ct/$10.99
Another chlorine free diaper. Bulky and oddly stiff, but can be softened slightly by rolling it it your hands before diapering baby. A good fit. The liner has a waffle texture that bothered me, but baby didn’t seem to mind. I doubt I’ll buy these again, although the company makes other good products.
Overall: Stiff, but solid. ♥♥♥ (3 stars)

Huggies 56ct/$11.99
With an extra stretchy waist and contoured shape, these are a good overall diaper. Occasional leakage. And I don’t really like the Disney characters.
Overall: Affordable, but average. ♥♥♥ (3 stars)

Luvs 58ct/$8.49
A decent fitting, contoured, thin and flexible diaper. There were many things I didn’t like though, the worst being the annoying synthetic diaper smell. These diapers stained quite often, but rarely leaked. I didn’t like the cartoon decoration and blue cross-hatch design, or the use of blue dye on the elastic and liner. They were my least favorite diapers.
Overall: Only for tight budgets. ♥♥ (2 stars)



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Baby's First Toy

After Chloe’s first play date with Ava and Lorenzo, I thought it might be time to get her an infant-specific toy. I started looking at options online and really liked…

The wooden Anelina Rattle Teething Ring and the Tulpino Rattle, both by the German toy maker Selecta. I loved their simple design and materials. Unfortunately, neither of these seem to be available locally, so…

Instead, Daddy brought home a Rombino Rattle Ring (0+months). I was delighted to see her grasp the toy after I placed it in her hand, and then and bring it up to her mouth all by herself! Two other toys that Daddy couldn’t resist was a Chick-ita (not shown) and a Ballino. The Chick-ita sounds like a mini maraca and the Ballino is made of beech wood, with ecological, water-based, non-toxic lacquer. It is one of those really great structural toys that looks good just sitting on a desk – fun for adults too. 🙂

“Babies learn soon to comprehend the world around them: holding, observing, putting everything in their mouths – A baby explores their surroundings with all their senses…”

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