Sunday, June 29, 2008

Win a Huggies Summer Essentials Kit!

Edited to add: This contest is now closed. Congrats to the winners, Dorene and Misguided Mommy!

Have you been out in the sprinklers or the backyard pool yet this summer? We have several times already, because Cordy loves to be outdoors splashing in the water.

But if you've seen her, you know she's pale. Ghostly white. Meaning that if she goes outside on a sunny day she has to be coated in sunscreen, wearing light colors, and if we're lucky, we keep her in the shade.

Huggies sent me a gift pack of their summer products, including swim diapers, sunscreen (how did I not know they made sunscreen?), UV sensors, a shovel, a pail, and beach ball.

While we're already big fans of the Little Swimmers swim diapers (Cordy has to have them for school), I really haven't seen the UV Sun Sensors until now. They're stickers in cute sea-themed designs that change color to tell you when you need to get out of the sun. Stick them to an arm, a hat, or anywhere that gets good sun exposure, and then let your kid play. When the sticker changes color, it's time to go in for a bit or put on more sunscreen. I think we'll be getting a lot of use from these.

Fish-shaped sun sensor on Cordy's arm

You can win your own Summer Essentials Kit from Huggies! I have two to give away, and all you have to do is leave a comment here by 11:59 PM Eastern on July 3, 2008. After that date I'll pick two winners at random to receive their own pail filled with sunscreen, Little Swimmers swim diapers, Sun Sensors, a beach ball, and a shovel. Good luck!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mabel's Labels Winner! has given us a winner for the Mabel's Labels contest:

Congrats to Amelia Sprout, and thank you all for entering! Check back here for a new contest by the end of the week.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Save Some $$$ On Diapers

A while back, I asked people for recommendations on diapers, after Pampers had changed their design and were no longer as leak-proof as they used to be. After trying many types on Cordy, we found the Luvs had the best leak protection of any diapers out there. Rarely do we have a leak, and when we do, it's usually because someone gave in to her begging and let her have five cups of (watered-down) juice in a very short period of time.

Little did I know that we would also come to appreciate the cost savings as well. She's still in diapers, and the Luvs are cheaper than other brand name diapers as well as being better quality, too. Saving $4-6 per box of diapers adds up quickly.

I just found out that Luvs is offering a $5 off coupon starting June 25 (Wednesday). There are a limited number, so be sure to get to the Luvs website first thing on June 25 to snag one of those coupons. Sure, Luvs are already cheaper than other diapers, but why not get another $5 off, right?

To promote this coupon offer, Luvs brought in Anita Renfroe (remember her awesome Total Momsense video on YouTube?) and asked her to do a follow-up song. I love her, and the new lyrics she's created are a lot like the first song: funny and oh-so-true. Be sure to check it out - you can also forward it on to friends to let them know about the coupon, too!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Who Needs a Beach? We Have Sand & Water Right Here!

Summer didn't wait for it's official start here in Columbus. Last week it was hot - unbearably hot. And of course I had two children who wanted to go outside every day.

The problem, of course, is that any amount of time spent outdoors will melt the lot of us faster than a bucket of water on the wicked witch. Wait - water! Add water to a hot day, and suddenly it's not so bad anymore, right?

So last week we introduced the Step 2 Sand & Water Cart to our backyard, and the girls were very excited to try it. It required a little bit of construction, so I told the girls to be patient. (Never an easy task.) Thankfully, the pieces fit together easily, and the screws were easy to put in. I'm not good with building things, but this took only 10 minutes and very little effort with the well-written instructions.

The cart is very compact, yet still offers plenty of room for several kids to gather around and play. Wheels and a handle on the front make it easy to move around the backyard (we moved it to the shade), and a cute umbrella provides shade if the cart is out in the sun.

Cordy saw the water wheel toy on the cart and decided that no sand was needed. I was ordered to fill both sides with water, even though one side is designed for sand and I had a bag of it sitting nearby. Both girls immediately started splashing, pushing the boats around, and Cordy poured water into the water tower to watch the wheel spin. I splashed around with them for a little while (we had boat races by blowing on the plastic sails) and then I pulled up a chair nearby and relaxed in the shade for a bit.

An hour later, I had to drag them in from the backyard and deal with the wails that dinner wasn't important, because there was water to play with! Clean up was a snap: there's a spout on the bottom to drain out the water, and the toys can be stored inside or on the lower level of the cart. The cover fits tightly with bungee cords to secure it, keeping bugs and water from getting into your sand.

I really appreciate how portable this toy is. We don't have a deck or patio, so we have to move all of their toys to mow the lawn. Wheeling this cart out of the way is a breeze. And the cart can be used in several ways: sand and water, sand alone, or water alone. We added the sand this week, and they love digging in the sand to find things Cordy has buried. (And I get to practice my observation skills, as Mira tries to eat the sand every now and then.)

It's also a toy that both girls can use together. The one year old enjoys it as much as the nearly-four year old does. Mira enjoys the sensations of feeling the water and sand, while Cordy learns how water can make a wheel move and a boat float, and practices hiding and digging up toys in the sand.

I can see this cart will give us years of use, and I highly recommend the Step 2 Sand & Water Cart. Having this toy around has resulted in more time spent in the backyard and less around the TV. But I think we need to build a patio now just so I can relax at a table (with my computer, of course) during these extended outdoor play sessions!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Babybug: A Magazine For the Short-Attention Set

I'm sure Mira is a girly-girl in the making. For example, she has a strange fascination with shoes. Any shoe in our house is sure to be picked up and examined, and if she finds one that she thinks is pretty, she tries to put it on her foot. She loves satin ribbons, jewelry, and feather boas. And she steals every one of my magazines. Mira watches me read magazines, and has decided she needs to be doing the same. But Self and People aren't exactly ideal reading for babies, and I get tired of trying to read around the half-ripped pages.

Now she can have a magazine designed for her age group. Parent Bloggers told me about Babybug, a magazine designed for children 6 months to 3 years old. I'll admit I wasn't sure what to expect, since I didn't know how a periodical could be designed to interest someone who can't read or even understand that many words yet.

What arrived in our mailbox looks like a board book, much smaller than your average magazine. Each page is thick - not cardboard, but very thick paper. This gave me hope that each issue might survive more than a week without being shredded. The outer cover had an introduction to that issue for parents, discussing the theme of that month's issue and suggestions on how to make reading these stories and poems to your child more interesting.

Inside Babybug, there are lots of poems and very short stories. The longest story is 6 pages long, and it is the continuing adventures of Kim and Carrots. Kim is a little girl, and Carrots is her stuffed bunny, and the first pages of each issue feature a new story about them. Following that is a series of poems and rhymes, emphasizing simple words and lots of repetition.

Each page features large fonts and is filled with bright, colorful illustrations. I know the large font was probably intended for children, to help with letter recognition, but I appreciate being able to read the text without difficulty as I hold it out so Mira can see the pictures well.

The illustrations are beautiful, too. Some look like watercolor paintings, some look like cut out shapes and animals, and some are very detailed drawings. Lots of animals are represented, and I like that there is a lot of human diversity represented in the illustrations as well.

Mira loves listening to the rhymes and short stories. Like I said, the longest story is 6 pages, and there isn't a lot of text on a single page, so this is perfect for the short-attention span set. Sometimes we'll sit and read the entire issue. Other times I'll read a page or two and then she's off to do something else. She also will pull Babybug off the table and page through it herself at least once a day.

And my initial hopes about the weight of the paper came true. She cannot rip these pages! It takes a lot of effort to tear out an entire page, and even more effort to rip a page in two. Even my determined ripper has yet to pull out a page, although she continues to try. I can see each issue adding to our library, right next to her board books. With how well they hold up, it's like getting a new book each issue.

Babybug has 9 issues a year, and is only the first in several magazines for children published by Cricket. As children get older, they have developmentally appropriate magazines for each age group. I'm a big fan of Babybug, as is Mira, and I think we'll continue to enjoy this magazine as it fosters a love of reading in my little girl.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I'm Stuck On Mabel's Labels

**Edited to add: This contest is now closed. Thanks to all who entered!

Most parents know that the second you get more than one baby/toddler/preschooler together, stuff gets mixed together and often goes missing. More than once I've had to ask a friend, "Does this sippy cup belong to your kid or mine?" I've written Cordy's name on many items with marker, but the marker always fades after awhile.

Then I tried Mabel's Labels, and I'm in love. Have you seen these? They're personalized labels that can be used for all sorts of stuff. They have labels to use on hard items, like baby bottles, toys, and sippy cups, plus they have labels that can be ironed into clothing or stuck into shoes. Clothing labels are great for kids going to preschool or daycare - it's too easy for extra clothing to get mixed together if it falls out of a cubby or backpack.

Best of all? They don't come off. My one year old, who picks at everything, can't get these labels off of her sippy cups, and after many trips through the dishwasher, they're holding strong and still just as colorful as when I put them on.

The label colors are bright and the font is cute. When you place an order, you can choose a cute design to go with your child's name, too. Sticky labels come in two sizes to accommodate most items, and you can choose from the Standard, Princess, or Ocean color packs. We like the standard colors, but little girls who love pastels and soft pinks will love the Princess pack.

There's no question which items are ours at playdates now. The labels make it easy to spot our stuff when cleaning up, and if something gets left behind at a friend's house, they know who it belongs to. This has saved us so much money in replaced bottles and cups. I'm thinking about labeling our plastic snack bowls, too, since they seem to disappear at an alarming rate.

Also, if you're a bit of an organizer yourself, Mabel's Labels makes household labels for the kitchen, storage, crafts, or any other use.

I'm a big fan of this Canadian company, and can't say enough how durable and useful Mabel's Labels are. My older daughter loves looking at the labels on her stuff and spelling out her name, and while she can't read yet, she can recognize the butterfly and letters on her labels and know it's hers.

WIN IT! The lovely folks at Mabel's Labels have offered me a gift certificate for a Camp Pack of labels to give away to one lucky reader. This includes: 15 Sticky Labels, 40 Iron-Ons or 50 Tag-Mates (your choice), eight Shoe Labels and two Bag Tags, in your choice of color packs. Your child won't lose anything this summer with this set!

To enter the contest, leave a comment on this post telling me what baby or kid items you've lost or if you haven't ever lost an item (it must be a miracle), which items you think these labels could keep you from losing.

Participation is open to both U.S. and Canadian residents. One winner will be chosen at random (thanks to and the deadline to enter is Tuesday, June 24 at midnight Eastern time. Good luck!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Send a Yummy Message With Fruit Roll-Ups

Edited to add: This contest is now closed. Congrats to the winner, janny226!

As a child of the 80's (well, born in the 70's, but went to elementary school in the early 80's), I remember Fruit Roll-Ups well. I always wanted one in my lunch bag each day. I loved how one side was rough, and the side against the plastic was so smooth. That smooth side was always the side you placed against your tongue - I'm sure it had more flavor.

Fruit Roll-Ups have come a long way since their launch in 1983. Back then there were, what, four flavors? Now they come in lots of flavors and shapes and cut outs and stamped designs and rainbows. It's amazing how much you can do with rolled out fruit paste.

Now you can add messenger to the list of Fruit Roll-Up accomplishments. The Parent Bloggers Network asked me if I wanted to try the new My Fruit Roll-Ups website and try making my own custom designs, and of course I said yes! It's probably been 10 years since I ate one, so I was only too happy to try this out.

The My Fruit Roll-Ups site has cute little animated characters walking you through how to customize your snack. They have a huge assortment of designs that can be applied to your Fruit Roll-up, in several different pattern combinations. There are animals, sports, hobbies, holiday icons, and general party images to choose from.

But if you want to really personalize it, you can also add text, in one of four fonts. There are so many ways to customize Fruit Roll-Ups with this option. Got a child's birthday coming up? Have them say Happy Birthday with your child's name printed on the fruit snack. Teaching your child to recognize her name? Print them on her fruit snack, along with her favorite animal. The possibilities are endless.

(And sure, you could use them for wedding favors, but I'd think you must really like them to do that. Or are planning an 80's pop culture themed wedding.)

The design process is extremely simple, with instant viewing of your Fruit Roll-Up as you click each image or enter text. It's easy enough that a computer savvy preschooler could do most of the designing herself. In our case, I did the clicking, but I let Cordy pick out the designs. She wanted a butterfly, a ladybug, and a dragonfly, so we used the three image option to create her perfect design.

Ordering is just as easy, with a checkout system that guides you through the process. Yes, these are more expensive than your regular box of Fruit Roll-Ups. But for a special occasion or a reward for your preschooler, they're still reasonably priced. Customized Fruit Roll-Ups are fun, easy to design, and have to be healthier than any of those personalized candies.

WIN THEM! Want to win your own box of personalized Fruit Roll-Ups? All you have to do is visit the My Fruit Roll-Ups website, then leave a comment here telling me which design(s) you would choose for your Fruit Roll-Ups. You have until Thursday (June 12) at midnight Eastern time. One winner will be picked at random on Friday to win a box of their personalized design. (One box equals 30 Fruit Roll-Ups.) Good luck!