Review: Thomas & Friends Engines and Escapades

March 31, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

519brdpkfhl_aa240_.jpgI have been a fan of Thomas since my little brothers were toddlers and my kids are lucky to have a lot of their hand me down Thomas trains. We already have six Thomas DVDs, and they are great, so I jumped at the Parent Bloggers Network’s offer to review Engines and Escapades. I have never found fault in any Thomas DVD and the same goes for this one. There are 6 episodes and 1 bonus feature on the 50 minute long Engines and Escapades. When you only want something short for the kids to watch its great that you can just put on a single episode. I love that Thomas is very wholesome, teaches great lessons and mainly that I personally don’t find it annoying to have on! The boys love watching the train action and the stories. One great thing is that this DVD seems to include a lot of the more unusual trains that my boys own (Duncan, Rusty, Skarloey, and more ) and they always like to watch stories about ones that they have to play with. If you have kids that are into Thomas or any trains, this would be an excellent DVD to get them.

*My boys also have these Thomas DVDs: Best of Percy, Thomas’ Sodor Celebration, Thomas’ Snowy Surprise, It’s Great To Be An Engine, Song’s From The Station and Salty’s Secret.

MY truth about motherhood

March 29, 2008 by  
Filed under Our Life, Parenting

The Discovery Channel and the Parent Bloggers Network are partnering in a blog blast on womens’ truths about motherhood. This is inspired by The Discovery Channel’s new docu-drama “Deliver Me” which follows three women – best friends, working mothers and physicians – as they balance delivering babies together in their OB/GYN practice with their lives outside the delivery room.This is my first time participating in a blog blast and its been something I’ve been meaning to do. Here is what we all are all asked to share this weekend “We want to hear your truth: What is it about pregnancy, parenting, and motherhood in general that only a girlfriend will tell you? Tell us what you wished you knew before becoming a mom.”

What I wish I knew about pregnancy: That something I so desperately wanted would immediately turn into something I couldn’t wait to get over with. This was the case with EVERY pregnancy I’ve had (and I’m brewing baby #4 right now). I make amazing babies but I don’t enjoy being pregnant. I feel like a bad mom when I’m pregnant because I am tired and sick and don’t have nearly as much patience.

What I wish I knew about labor/delivery: That being induced does not always mean you will go into labor and get a baby right away (in my case it took 2 weeks). Sometimes you can push and push and a baby just won’t come out (especially when you have a baby thats 10lbs and 4oz). After 3 of them, I am a pro at recovering from c-sections now!

What I wish I knew about being a mom: Well, I knew a lot ahead of time because I helped my mom with my little brothers (I was 16 when I became a sister so it was good practice). I guess I wish I knew in advance how much breastfeeding would help me, it made things so easy with all of my kids and I have super happy babies! I do wish I knew in advance that each time the first 2 weeks of breastfeeding is difficult and painful and after that it is effortless and enjoyable. Oh and what I really wish I knew after I had my first baby is that it takes me 3 months after having a baby to get into a rhythm and feel like I have everything under control. With each baby I have noticed a BIG change in myself by the time my baby is three months. Not that I am miserable or a bad mom before that but there is something magical at that 3 month point for me where I think “YES! I can do this and I love my life”.

Kitty Cat Ben

March 28, 2008 by  
Filed under Our Life, Pictures

Yesterday started with the boys being rabbits but by afternoon Ben was a kitty cat and asked for a bowl of milk (and then once he got it he asked for some rice krispies too). I did give him a spoon in case he wanted it but whats the fun in that! He was a shy kitty cat but I couldn’t resist getting out the camera.

Tutus and Light Sabers

March 27, 2008 by  
Filed under Our Life, Pictures

I think our boys are pretty well rounded in their interests: dinosaurs, cars, legos, animals, SPORTS, nature and more. Recently Star Wars has become a part of their lives in a big way but they still find the time to play dress up with their little sister. I couldn’t resist putting up this picture of Ben wearing 2 tutus over his soccer underwear!

Hiding Spots

March 27, 2008 by  
Filed under Our Life

My kids are weird! I was cleaning up a little bit in the living room the other day when I noticed that the 2 frog boots I picked up were very different weights. Here is what was inside and why we were all out of spoons!

Review: Ultreo Toothbrush

March 25, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

The folks at Ultreo were kind enough to send us their Ultreo Ultrasound Toothbrush to review. I have never tried an electric toothbrush before and Heather hadn’t used one in a long time so we were eager to try it out. Here is the Ultreo description of their product:

Ultreo® is the first power toothbrush to combine patented ultrasound waveguide technology with precisely tuned sonic bristle action. Ultreo’s bristles create microbubbles that are powerfully activated by ultrasound energy channeled through a patented ultrasound waveguide. The result is a gentle brushing experience and a deep, long-lasting feeling of clean.

What’s in the box?

The designers at Ultreo did an excellent job with this product and it’s packaging. As I opened the box I was immediately reminded of Apple products. Very clean design, no excess – everything has a purpose, and the packaging itself is well done and a pleasure to open. Needless to say, I was immediately excited. Included was the toothbrush, base, brush head, charger, case, and directions. Ultreo also included a second toothbrush head so both Heather and myself can use the same brush and simply switch heads. Setting up was as simple as attaching the head, plugging in the base, and waiting for the charge to complete.

First Impressions

Day 1 – The first time I used the brush I was, to be honest, startled and a little concerned that I wouldn’t be able to continue using the brush. The vibration was downright ticklish and it felt somewhat awkward to brush my teeth. I tried it for a minute before quitting, but resigned myself to give it a week and see if I get used to it.

Day 2 – Surprisingly, I grew accustomed to the vibration very quickly, but it is still awkward. I love the timer feature which beeps every 30 seconds telling me to switch zones and stops after 2 minutes, but I still can’t see myself using this brush long term.

Eureka!

Heather and I had the same experience with the Ultreo. By day 4 we weren’t sure how we felt about. Using the brush still felt strange, but we couldn’t deny that our teeth felt so much cleaner. Something changed around day 5 or 6 and we “got it”. I think it was a combination of getting used to the vibration along with learning how to brush properly so that the wave guide and the plastic head don’t hit our teeth. We are now 3 weeks into our trial and we are loving this toothbrush.

What we love

  • Form factor – superb design. Considering how much larger the Ultreo is compared to a regular toothbrush it is surprising that we didn’t notice it at all.
  • Very, very clean teeth – Heather briefly switched back to her old brush as an experiment and the difference in cleanliness is noticeable. The Ultreo simply gets the job done.
  • Ease of Use – Despite the adjustment period, I know find it easier to brush my teeth. I think the key is to let the Ultreo do its thing.

Considerations

  • Vibration – There was definitely an adjustment period to get accustomed to this type of toothbrush. My recommendation to anyone is to stick with it. Took us a few days, but for some people it might take longer. For those that don’t love the toothbrush after a couple weeks, Ultreo offers a 30 day money back guarantee.
  • Price – I had never even considered buying a $170 toothbrush and that is indeed a steep price when you can buy a toothbrush for a few dollars at the grocery store. After experiencing the difference, however, I would not hesitate to buy this toothbrush. I’ve spent a LOT more than $170 on dental work. Personally, I would rather spend the money pro-actively and avoid the extra time with my dentist.
  • Directions – I think everyone sleepwalks through brushing their teeth so switching to a new brushing method can catch you off guard. The key is to read the manual and follow the instructions, which seems like a strange thing to do with a toothbrush, but I found the directions very helpful for achieving great results.

Overall, we are in love with our Ultreo toothbrush. The upfront cost seems steep, but we feel the payoff from healthier teeth will make it a sound investment. The timing for this trial was perfect since we had just visited the dentist a month before we got our new brushes. We’ll post an update after our cleanings in July with our report card.

WordPress 2.5 RC1

March 24, 2008 by  
Filed under Misc

I just upgraded our site to the first release candidate of WordPress 2.5.  This is a preview release and hasn’t been fully tested, but all the new features are included and it has passed beta testing.  Please let us know if you find anything behaving strangely on the site.  Most of the changes are in the administration area and will only be seen by us while working on the site.  I’ve written a couple posts with the new tools and my first impressions are all positive.

The Secret Lives of Children

March 24, 2008 by  
Filed under Pictures

Ethan loves taking pictures with our point and shoot camera. He took some of the pictures from our egale spotting adventure And I’ve gotten in the habit of bringing the camera when we go to hockey games to give him something to do when the game gets a little boring. A lot of his pictures will be fuzzy, not centered, or of someone’s butt and for every 200 pictures there will be about 20 good ones.
Yesterday, he took the camera around the house and followed Jamie around getting some great pictures of her giggling.
What a cutey!
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Nice tonsils
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Attitude?
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What I didn’t realize is that Ethan has a great future in investigative photography. Here is a series of photos I found on the camera in order…
Exhibit A – Suspect caught red handed dipping spoon in dog’s water bowl
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Exhibit B – Suspect partaking of…dog water?
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Exhibit C – Hope she knows a good lawyer.
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Unplugged Project: Eggs!

March 22, 2008 by  
Filed under Art Projects, Unplugged Project

dscf7127.jpgI’ll follow Piseco’s lead and post what we did early this week. For our Unplugged Project I decided to do something with Ethan that I’d done before but never with the kids: eggs dyed with onion skins. I have no foreseeable need for onions so when I was in the produce isle I took a bag and filled it with all the loose onion skins from the bins. I got a lot from the red onions but also the yellow/white skins. Next I hardboiled some eggs with my FAVORITE method, my Oster egg cooker (also does poached eggs). This is the only way I’ve found always comes out perfect for me with nice easily peelable eggs. BUT then I realized that to do the onion skin method I needed to BOIL the eggs wrapped in the onion skins (it was a while ago when I last made these eggs).

John was conveniently throwing out a holey pair of socks so I cut those to wrap up the eggs covered in onion skins. Ethan and I put some ivy leaves on some of the eggs before covering with the onion skins. I used Jamie’s hair elastics to hold them closed, but most of them came undone when they got boiled. Luckily they still came out pretty good but its hard to see the ivy leaves. I do remember them coming out better when I’d made them as a kid. This was fun and there are other natural ways to dye eggs, but I’m really looking forward to the bright colors we’ll do tonight. I bought 5 dozen eggs to color this Easter and we will use the traditional egg color kit with the kids for the rest! It makes me so excited to think of when my future chickens start laying eggs. Next Easter I’ll have some wonderful blue/green eggs ready made from my birds!dscf7126.jpg

Snowy Easter Egg Hunt!

March 21, 2008 by  
Filed under Past Contests

img_2322.jpgWe took the kids to a snowy egg hunt today that we planned with our playgroup. It was sunny but windy and COLD! The boys had fun but poor Jamie wasn’t so happy about it. Luckily the park where we had the egg hunt was by a pizza place and we warmed up there for lunch. I am not used to thinking of snowsuits when getting the kids ready for such a spring activity!

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