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Entries in product review (37)

Sunday
Nov232008

A booster seat's best friend

Since we already know how neurotic I am, it's no surprise that I spent months researching booster seats and finally found one with latch, AND a 5 point harness that works for kids up to 65 lbs. Of course, this is no $20 booster seat, plus I had to buy two of them. But at the time it was the safest option I could find for those 6 hour drives to Grandma's house.

We do, however, have the cheaper, lighter boosters in Mr.'s car for quick trips around town and for carpools.

Which is why after watching the first 10 seconds of this short video, I was sold. (Watch the video here: www.seatsnug.com)

Thanks to Mom Central I was given the opportunity to test the SeatSnug child stability device and discovered that this nifty device can secure those less expensive booster seats for half the cost of the boosters in my car!

SeatSnug gets that annoying slack out of the belt, and prevents the booster seat from bouncing around, rocking, and tipping as can happen even during normal driving conditions. Those that live in and around DC can vouch there is no "normal" because people are always late, weaving in and out of traffic, and slamming on breaks (not yours truly, of course).

Installation:
It just took me less than 10 minutes (in the freezing cold so my fingers were a little slow) to install. I realized the "off" switch makes the tongue and strap slide easily and then the "on" is what locks it in place.
The BEST part? When Mom Central told SeatSnug I had twins, they sent me a second one right away! Not that's a company that CARES.

Here is my own home video of the SeatSnug in action!


So thanks again Mom Central and SeatSnug for keeping the Twofer safe & snug, and me a little less neurotic.

Janine

Wednesday
Oct222008

A Kid’s party with no gifts? Think of the trees we’d save!

OK, so this is really cool. I came across this company on twittermoms and had to give them a little plug because it's such a cool idea!

I've mentioned before that kid's birthday parties (including my own bash for the twfoer) can often get over-the-top. And I can't even begin to think about how eco-UNfriendly that 5-year party was! Well ECHoage can help parents make their child’s party a little greener, a lot less messier, and helps engage ALL participants in a discussion about giving. Plus, the birthday boys and girls are loving it because they get to pick one or two BIG gifts and they FEEL GOOD about their choices.

Here’s the scoop:
When you sign up to ECHOage your party you pick an online invitation design, pick a charity, and invite your guests. Guests are encouraged to give a secure online gift of money instead of a wrapped present when they RSVP. ECHOage then pools the payments and sends half to the charity you chose. The other half is sent back to you to purchase one BIG gift for your child.

Here's why I find this so attractive (and y'all know how I love to make lists)

  • Greener, Cleaner, and Nicer Online invitations mean less paper.
  • Fewer packaged gifts means less paper, plastic, and packaging to discard.
  • Guests have the opportunity to learn about charity and the gift of giving to others instead of bringing a wrapped present.
  • Birthday boys and girls get to choose which charity will benefit from their generosity and leaves them with a really good feeling.
  • Secure online giving is easy and parents don’t have to shop, wrap or remember a gift (yea! no more leaving the gift on the kitchen table!).
  • Host parents can choose to include their child in choosing the BIG gift, or surprise them at the party!

Resistance?

ECHOage has thought of just about every concern too so check out their FAQs if you are considering an ECHOage party. Even if you aren’t ready to have an ECHOage party, they have great language to use when you sit down and start talking to your kids about charity and what it means to give.

Here’s a big Twofer Thumbs Up to ECHOage for the One Gift-One Cause birthday party option!

Feeling a little more socially responsible,
ScaryMom

Monday
Sep222008

The Wonderful World of Woogi

Imagine, if you will, a place online where where kids are encouraged to do good deeds and where their efforts pay off in the real world...what? Yes: play online, do good deeds, get rewarded in real life.

That place is Woogi World.

Woogi World gets a big Twofer Thumbs Up from me for these reasons:

It is a world where kids learn about internet safety as well as how to find a balance between time spent on the computer, with time spent doing other important things.

Kids are rewarded when they watch videos that discuss real world values.

Rewards for community service happen in real life with letters of recognition from state governors and senators (this is a first I believe).

There is the opportunity to start learning financial responsibility without risking real money. (This excites me because I'm tired of watching them blow what little they have on stupid plastic stuff that breaks and makes a mess within hours!)

Plus, it's fun! The Twofer loved picking out their personal Woogi World character and checking out their Wigwam, then exploring the neighborhood and playing games too. Next we learned that we cannot afford to adopt a pet and that motivated them to get going on earning (and saving) some Watts (Woogi money).

I disabled the chat feature until they get a better feel for the site. I'm not opposed to it because it's set up to be ultra safe. I just don't want them distracted from learning how to be an active participant in the Woogi World community. (See, times like these and I start to think I'm not so Scary).

The best part? Most of this is FREE with the basic membership. Just go to Woogi World, sign up for the free basic membership, and start playing!

Meet us at the Shark game!
ScaryMom (L and M too)

Special thanks to Mom Central for another really cool opportunity!



Wednesday
Sep172008

Mmmmmm mashed potatoes in minutes

I am a skeptic...blame my mother (sorry mom but you're used to getting thrown under the bus by me I can't change just because it's in a blog).

I am also a mashed potato snob of sorts.
I like to put mine through a ricer, then hand mash them, THEN take the hand mixer to them for light and fluffy homemade mashed potatoes.

I often don't like the restaurant versions that everyone else does and feel I can make them better. I have made mashed potatoes flavored with garlic, Monterey Jack & sour cream, dill, chives, etc. but prefer plain with light salt.

When I'm in a rush, I have my own version of "instant": microwave, peel, and mash with just the hand masher and some milk and butter.

I came up with this method only after trying all the others:
boxed, frozen, refrigerated...and "doctoring" them up to taste a little better.

So when I saw the new Ore-Ida Steam n'Mash potatoes I just couldn't believe it would taste as good as homemade. I read the ingredients and liked it -potatoes, salt, and something I can't pronounce but basically keeps them fresh. The directions were easy too...similar to my quick method but without the peeling...the part I really hate!

And the taste? Well, when I asked the Twofer they said "39 thumbs up!". Why 39? I have no idea. Mr. Scary liked them as well and as for yours truly? A big Twofer Thumbs Up to Ore-Ida Steam n' Mash potatoes from this tater snob! They tasted like real potatoes (they are real potatoes so that's no huge surprise). Had a light and fluffy consistency (and I didn't bring out the ricer or the hand mixer!). And were ready in 13 minutes!

For the record, I bought the plain kind but they come in cheese, garlic, and sweet potatoes too.

I also have a small stack of coupons for $1.00 off for the first 8 people to leave a comment! So if you want one, let me know (and tell me where to send it if you don't live near me).

Mmm eating the leftovers,
ScaryMom

Saturday
Sep132008

Save your money or find an agent and put that drama to work!


How timely. Right on the heels of talking about responsibility, The Parent Bloggers Network has a contest for those who write about when to teach kids about money (prize: an iPhone).

In addition, Capital One has launched a new online Moneywise eLearning tool
to help families learn about managing money including ways to bring their kids into the discussion.

Well, we here in the Scary household recently did just that - we talked to the Twofer about money and we came up with a way to teach them about it....we put them to work!

OK, Ok really, we assigned chores to them and started tracking on a weekly basis. It is somewhat coincidental that around this time we made the decision to pay the Twofer a weekly allowance...but they are not actually getting paid to do the chores (that's my story and I'm sticking to it).

The Twofer turned 5 this Spring and after asking around, we decided to give them each $1 per week. We actually give them $2 a week and $1 of that goes into our "charity bowl" and they get to keep the other $1. The "charity bowl" will be opened closer to Christmas and together we'll decide how to donate that money (and hopefully teach the Twofer just how lucky they are to have what they have).

Why pay?
I really do believe that kids should help out around the house not for money, but as members of the family. We also wanted them to start learning the value of money. Not how many quarters are in a dollar, but what a dollar can get you...or these days, can't get you.

In short, we wanted them to understand why they don't get an ice cream every time we're at the pool.

Lessons learned.
Now when we're out at a store and they see something they want, we say, "How much money do you have?"
They are learning that the neighborhood ice cream truck is a ripoff ($3 for a bomb pop) compared to the snack bar at the pool ($.80 for an Italian ice). And that a Hannah Montana magazine provides hours more entertainment than a necklace that breaks within 5 minutes of wearing it.

Oh don't worry. I'm not that Scary. I treat them to an ice cream sandwich now and then and of course provide them with the necessities: shoes, clothes and riding lessons (I gave in to that because we are no longer paying for school).

The fact remains: learning about money, it's value, and the importance of saving is a lesson that can't be learned too early.
Check out the Capital One tool and fingers crossed that I get one of the 3 iPhones!

Saving it for later,
ScaryMom