Friday, April 13, 2007

The Calendar For The Wired Family

I keep several calendars in our house: a small one in my purse, a Fridge Grid Pad in the kitchen, etc. However, I'm usually the only one who updates them, and soon something will get missed because my husband never wrote it on the calendar.

I can't blame him entirely - he's gone from the house much of each day, so it's hard for him to remember to update the calendar. Plus, by the time he does get home, he's often forgot what it was he needed to write down. But he's usually near a computer 18 hours a day, meaning if he had a virtual calendar he could be better at writing everything down.

We were asked by the Parent Bloggers Network to try out Cozi, and once I saw what it was I could barely contain my excitement! Cozi is a software program that includes a family calendar, shopping list, and message center. You can download the software onto your computer for quick, easy access to your family calendar, but you can also use the Web login to check and update when you're away from home.

Each family member is given a color code, so you can easily sort out who is doing what. You can see the overall family calendar using the "All" tab, or look at each person's individual calendar. Adding a meeting or appointment is as easy as double clicking the day and filling out the event, time, and choosing who is involved. You can also set up recurring appointments or events, like birthdays or regular meetings.

This calendar is amazingly useful for the family that doesn't spend all day together. (And really, who does that?) Aaron can update the calendar from work via the Web, while I'm adding appointments to it from home using the downloaded software. The two versions sync up right away, so you always have the most up-to-date information.

Also useful is the shopping list that Cozi provides. I updated it from home, then pulled it up online before I left work so I could remember what I needed at the grocery. Aaron was also able to update the list with things he needed while at work. And best of all? You don't even need to write it all down before going to the grocery. You can either ask Cozi to text the list to your cell phone, or you can call the Cozi toll-free number and have a computer read the list to you. How cool is that?

Cozi has other features that I didn't play with as much, like a family photo collage screensaver, and a messaging system. And you can customize the color assigned to each family member, as well as select a family photo for your Cozi Central homepage.

But the most awesome part of all of this? It's free. Yes, you read that right: f-r-e-e.

Is there anything about Cozi that I don't like? Well, the login for the online version is sometimes very slow. And I would like to see more customization of the homepage beyond one picture - maybe different display layouts, or a selection of backgrounds. But these are minor complaints, and it's hard to complain about little things like layouts and backgrounds when the product works well and doesn't cost a penny to use.

I'd recommend Cozi for any family who has little time at home, a lot to do, and has at least one or two techno-geeks with a computer attached to them for a significant part of their day. But even the non-geeks in the house can use this simple, intuitive software to manage the family calendar.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Ending Leaky Nights

When it comes to diapers, we're connoisseurs. In the early days, we had small packages of nearly every kind of diapers, trying out each brand and off-brand, and judging each of them like a good wine.

"This one has good coverage, but the texture is too plastic-y."

"Great at preventing leaks, but has an unpleasantly strong odor."

As my big baby grew into the Amazon toddler, and we realized potty training was nowhere in sight, finding good diapers has become a real challenge. Not only is she big, but she has a large bladder to go with her size, so only the best diapers survive more than an hour or two. It also doesn't help that at 35+ pounds, finding diapers that fit isn't easy.

We've been trying out Huggies Overnites diapers for the last month, courtesy of the Parent Bloggers Network, and overall they have passed most of our tests. It's common for Cordy to have a nighttime leak at least once a week, so we were hoping that these diapers would stand up to the Iron Bladder of the Thirsty Child.

Using the Huggies Overnites diapers, we didn't have a single leak on nights with just urine. They even held up on nights when she had a late dinner with three cups of milk right before bed. However, they didn't do so well when a night poop entered the equation. Cordy has never been one for solid poop - her sensitive digestive tract usually produces something a little more loose. Adding that on top of a night of pee was just too much for the diaper to handle. (It's too much for her normal diapers to handle, too.) Thankfully, those nights were few.

Like the other diapers we use, I like that the Huggies felt more like fabric, with velcro tabs instead of sticky tape. I know I wouldn't want crinkly plastic underwear, and I won't put my daughter in anything that doesn't feel soft against her skin. These felt very nice, and were absorbent enough to keep her skin dry and rash-free.

My only complaint is the cut of the diaper. I know Huggies promotes their baby-shaped fit, but I don't think they've met my baby girl. Trying to get these on Cordy's large, solid frame involved some squeezing, but this is the largest size they offer. Size 5 is supposed to fit 27-40 lbs, but they felt too tight on Cordy. I always worried they were cutting into her, and I was nervous about the coverage on the sides, even though they never leaked under normal circumstances. I'd suggest either making a larger size in these, or perhaps cutting them a little wider to accommodate toddlers who are long-waisted with large frames.

Overall I was happy with the performance of Huggies Overnites. While we probably won't use them again for Cordy, due to the size issue, there's a good chance we'll use them in the future with our next daughter.

Win them! Want to give Huggies Overnites a try? Click here and leave a comment on the Parent Bloggers post to be entered to win a free package of diapers!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

A Grown Up Cereal That Tastes Good

I was a little hesitant to try out the Nature Valley cereal I was sent in the mail. After all, when it comes to cereal, I still haven't grown up yet. Give me some Apple Jacks or Frosted Flakes or Honey Smacks any day. If it doesn't come with a surprise inside and more than my daily suggested allowance of sugar, I usually think it'll be tasteless.

However, I'm glad I did give this one a try. The Nature Valley Oats 'n Honey is a cereal made up of sweetened multigrain flakes with chunks of granola bar mixed it. The granola bar chunks are kind of flattened patties, really, and not much bigger than the flakes. No twigs in this box of cereal, thank goodness! One serving has only 3g of fat, 4g of fiber, and 4g of protein. Add some vanilla soy milk for added protein, and you have a very yummy breakfast.

The cereal was sweeter than I expected, but not too sweet. I also like that the flakes and granola bits are big enough that I can eat the cereal dry, too. I've always been a fan of munching on dry cereal as a snack, and this brand doesn't let me down.

The Nature Valley cereals come in two flavors: Oats 'n Honey and Cinnamon. Seeing that my daughter is allergic to cinnamon, we'll be avoiding the second one, but the Oats 'n Honey flavor is a hit at my house.