Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Last Minute Gifts

Christmas is less than a week away, and Hanukkah is already in full-swing. I don't know about all of you, but I'm terrible at trying to buy gifts ahead of time. With only two days until my in-law's Hanukkah party, and a few more days after that until Christmas, I still have a lot of shopping to do. If you're a last-minute shopper like me, here are some ideas for holiday gifts.

First up, I was sent an Insignia 2GB mp3 player to try out. This mp3 player not only plays music, but also can hold photos and play full color videos. My husband has a video iPod, and while I like it, there's no way I'm spending that much on one for myself. So trying out this (cheaper!) Insignia player was going to be a treat.

When I first opened it, I thought, "Wow, this thing is tiny! There's no way the screen resolution is going to look that good." And it is tiny - only 0.6" thick, and the screen takes up about 2/3 of the face. It has a click wheel similar to many other mp3 players, and the battery was already charged and ready to go, so I turned it on and started playing with it right out of the package. It comes loaded with some sample songs and videos, and it also has an FM receiver in it for listening to the radio.

I can now say with confidence, I love this little thing! My initial thoughts were so wrong - the screen has amazing clarity and bold colors. I couldn't believe such crisp video could be displayed on something so small (2.2"). It took me no time at all to learn how to use it, and the controls were so user-friendly that I only had to look at the instruction manual once. The sound is clear, and the volume can easily go to ear-bleeding levels. Best of all has to be the price: you're getting something that has sound and video quality equal to an iPod, but for only $120.

It does have some limitations, of course. The memory is only 2GB, although it has a slot to expand the memory using a microSD card. The radio reception is a little fuzzy indoors, too. Plus when you install the software, it wants you to try Best Buy's music service, which is just a personal pet peeve of mine (I don't like installing extra "junk" on my computer), but others may enjoy. Still, for the price and the features, the Insignia 2GB is a perfect gift for someone who wants an mp3 player.

Now, if you know someone who loves electronics, but already has an mp3 player, you may be stumped as to what to get them. The Philips company has introduced this website to help you search for last minute electronics gifts. You can search by person and by age group for recommendations on gifts that they might enjoy.

Thanks to Philips, Aaron will be trying out the Philips Norelco Bodygroom razor in the next few weeks. (Check out the link - I can never get through that commercial with a straight face.) And if he likes it, I might even try it out on a feminine area to see how well it works for us women, too. I'll report back with the results.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Even Santa Has a Blog

Cordy is still too young to care about Santa, but I know lots of other kids are really looking forward to a visit from the jolly gift giver on Christmas Eve.

Well, Land's End has teamed up with Santa to provide the details of Santa's preparations for the big night. Kids can visit Hi Santa now through Dec. 25 to listen to a daily story, read Santa's blog, download coloring pages, and post their own holiday stories and photos for a chance to win more goodies. They can even find out the daily weather report for the North Pole.

And if you don't let your kids online, or they're too young to take part, you can still hear Santa's story of the day by calling 1-800-HI-SANTA.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Toys To Learn With

It is my firm belief that anyone who buys a loud electronic toy for my child, especially one without an off switch, clearly hates me. Not only are they annoying, but I don't think toys like that add much to helping a child learn. They tell the child what the toy should do, not what the child thinks it can do, limiting the imaginative play for the child.

Some of Cordy's favorite toys are the old-fashioned, simple toys, like blocks, wooden puzzles, stacking cups, and crayons with blank paper. Which is why I'm so happy to have found, which features developmental toys selected by both child development experts and moms. These toys are creative, foster imagination, and are sturdy enough to hold up to years of play.

The really interesting thing about eBeanstalk is their package program. Instead of buying one toy every few months, you can purchase a package of toys. The package includes four toys, one sent every three months, and each appropriate for the age your child is when the toy is sent. You pay once for the package, and eBeanstalk takes care of remembering when to send each toy. They offer a variety of package prices, and you can customize each package if you want.

This is a great idea for grandparents or other relatives for the holidays - instead of overloading a child with a bunch of toys all at once, why not spread out the joy, giving them a new toy every three months? If a package isn't your thing, you can still purchase toys individually as well.

Right now, you can get 10% off your total order at eBeanstalk using the coupon code M2 PFT (be sure to include the space between the 2 and the P!).

(And if any of my relatives are reading this, Cordy would love the 2yr. old's Mom's Favorite gift set package for Christmas!)

Monday, December 04, 2006

A Gift For The Busy Mom

Know a mom friend who can barely keep it all together? Is her house full of post-it notes, reminding her of one kid's soccer practice, another one's swim lessons, and her husband's travel schedule for work?

Well, this might be a good gift for her. The BusyBodyBook is the perfect organizer for an entire household. With categories for each person, it makes it easy to keep track of everyone's schedules, all on the same page. And by having it all in one place, double-bookings are less likely to happen, and mom's sanity is saved. I have one of these, and even with only one toddler and a husband to keep track of, it is a wonderful timesaver.

During the month of December, you can get 25% off of a BusyBodyBook (runs Aug. '06 - Dec. '07) if ordered from their website. Just use the code BBBLOG when ordering anytime between now and Dec. 31.

And hey, at that price, pick one up for yourself as well!