Product Review – KoalaSafe

koalaLTD has long been a slave to the iPad and now BB is getting in on the action. They only stop using it when the battery dies but now we are trying something different. The device that looks nothing like a Koala but is called KoalaSafe plugs into the wall and then goes all Big Brother on the screens. You can set time limits that shut off the internet and also block sites and apps plus enforce safe search on different engines. Another feature that we haven’t used to much since the boys are still pretty young is what I call the NSA feature. You can see how your household usage compares to other families and monitors if there is a jump in your own site use. Of course in an ironic twist you monitor everything from the app on your phone (do as I say not as I do). Now let’s hope The Mommy doesn’t get any ideas about blocking certain sites I frequent.

Book Review – There is a Tribe of Kids

tribeIn a sea of endless children’s books I’m still always impressed when I find one that is elegant and dare I say beautiful. Lane Smith uses sponge-paint art to make There is a Tribe of Kids pop. The tale follows boy on an epic journey through our natural world. Each setting he encounters whether it be elephants, butterflies or the ocean he learns about different “tribes” but continues searching. I don’t want to spoil the ending but I think you can guess what he finds at the end (hint: see book title). The story is easy to follow and the art captures the beauty of nature in almost magical fashion. All of which is to say none of that matters to BB who just likes the whales.

 

The Boss

wantEvery day after LTD and I pick up BB from preschool it seems like the boys fight in the car over LTD touching one of the toys that BB has left in the car since he can’t bring them into school. Yesterday, the yelling was particularly headache inducing and so I reminded LTD that as a 7 year old I can punish him and not BB. LTD knows exactly what this means but BB took my explanation and ran with it. He launched into a chorus of the phrase “I can do whatever I want.” In fact he started singing it. Least you think his ego would allow this seemingly momentary victory to be forgotten. Upon waking me up at 5 am this morning he leaned into my face to once again proclaim, I can do whatever I want.

Product Review – Name 5

GameName5LTD has a habit of wanting to play board games that are above his pay grade and BB has a habit of wanting to sit on my lap and be on my team. In that regard, LTD has been getting into the Endless Games release Name 5. In the vain of Scattergories and games that involve shouting things out Name 5 lives up to the title as the cards direct you to name 5 things as the timer counts down. Five seems doable but when the sand runs down staring at you, you do get jammed up. Of course even LTD can rock obvious categories like name 5 video games, but when we get into name five vegetables that begin with “a” he gets as BB says, Fwustrated. The game is fast paced enough to hold the boys attention but The Mommy doesn’t particularly enjoy the shouting. I’m sure as they get older and game play gets easier the volume will decrease (name 1 thing that isn’t true).

 

 

 

Book Review – Busy People

astronauntBB has been talking a lot about what he wants to be when he grows up. The latest is a Knight (not sure how well that pays). In that regard he has been digging Author Lucy George and Artist Ando Twin new series Busy People. Each book focuses on Astronaut, Doctor, Police Officer, Fire Fighter and Teacher. As the title suggest each tale focuses on the daily life and work of the above busy people. The explanations are easy to follow with wide eyed characters. I particlurly like the section at the end of the books that shows associated busy people like the Forensic scientist and Flight controllers. There is also a cool part showing equipment and uniform details that have led to BB declaring each one to be this year’s Halloween costume. Thankfully the book on Astronaut’s features a Robot lest LTD declare the series to young for him.

 

Oral Cancer Awareness Month

oralcancSoon I will take LTD to see his first “real” baseball game and that reminded me that it is now Oral Cancer Awareness Month. What is the connection, you are wondering. Chew or as they used to call it when I was in school, dip. Great Expressions offers some tips:

As baseball season gets underway and millions of impressionable children are exposed to chewing tobacco, Great Expressions Dental Centers (GEDC) seeks to help parents raise awareness of the dangers of dipping, while providing the following tips to help prevent a life-threatening disease, oral cancer:

  • Get moving: An active lifestyle is known to boost the immune system and help ward off cancer. Get moving with your children by taking nightly walks or playing games outdoors.
  • Brush and floss daily: Children learn by observing. By brushing and flossing your own teeth regularly, your children will learn how to keep up with their own dental hygiene. Pack a dental kit in their backpack for easy brushing after lunch at school.
  • Educate: Have an open conversation with your children about the dangers of tobacco products and excessive alcohol use. Spend time educating them while they are young, so they will be less likely to experiment as they get older, reducing the risk of cancer.
  • Study your family tree: Review your family’s history of head or neck cancer and be sure to note any history at your child’s next dentist visit. This will allow your dentist to discuss preventive measures and keep an eye on any changes.

Product Review – Fast Flip

fast flipLTD has long been into games and recently BB has joined him in theory if not in practice. Now that both kids enjoy Spot It. We have moved on to Fast Flip. The game is a little over BB’s pay grade but he plays in my lap and it is only slightly distracting. As with Spot It, Fast Flip wins me over for one simple reason, the games on last about 15 minutes (or less if BB dumps all the cards on the floor). Fundamentally a matching game Fast Flip features fruit and for obvious reasons fast flipping. For added difficulty you can also play with the included tiles. The compact nature of the game makes it super easy to travel with and store unlike Candy Land which is currently under my couch. The game is a bit of brain teaser so if you play with against a youngster you need to slow it down a bit and give yourself a handicap in order to not win every time.

 

I’m in Charge

i-tell-it-like-it-isBB is not only growing fast but his attitude is matching his new height. He has taken to bossing people around and demanding things instead of asking. However, the real issue is that he has been putting baby in the corner if I am baby in these scenarios. He doles out a lot of time outs in my direction and the other day, he said he was going to throw me out of the car into a hill and he would drive. Not cool. He also throws/drops numerous items on the floor while at the table and requests that I pick them up. Half the time these demands also include a whine and that’s where I draw the line. But most of the time he is cute enough that I allow him to be undercover boss or at least give him the appearances he is in charge.

Book Review – What Do Grown-ups Do All Day?

grown upsBoth my children ask a lot of questions, which shows they are curious and intelligent, however answering them can be as exhausting as a supreme court nomination hearing. That is why we gravitate towards books with a lot of facts but sometimes those types of books don’t make great bedtime tales. Virginie Morgand’s new book What Do Grown-ups Do All Day? solves a lot of my book requirements. First up the art really pops. The pictures have a retro printed feel and are wicked bright with a sense of fun. The tale is broken up by area like hospital, farm and school to show the different applicable occupations. For some reason, the boys are drawn to the section on action-packed jobs. LTD only focuses on the Secret Agent as he wants to be a spy when he grows up (I assume working a desk job at the CIA since he keeps telling people he is spy and thus blows his own cover). While BB digs the usual suspects of astronaut, firefighter and police officer. The section headings first explain the setting like the airport or university before discussing the jobs inside. For my money the Water Sports Instructor looks like a fun job based on the pictured surf board.

Book Review – Gator Dad

gatorNormally, I would be jealous of Dad authors but since I can’t draw I’ll give it to Brian Lies for his new book, Gator Dad.The tale meets all of my bedtime requirements. Not a ton of text and amazing art. The central theme of the story seeks to debunk the myth of the bumbling useless dad as seen in popular media culture. We follow the titular hero Gator Dad as he sucks the marrow out of a full day with his three kids. The book is filled with splash pages and is spot on with the depictions of activities including grocery shopping and building a fort out of the living room. Unfortunately, the page showing Gator Dad teaching the kids the sounds that their toys should make has resulted in my voice giving out as my non-alligator children request I follow the lessons of the book. Lastly, the book is sweet without being too sugary. A proud dad indeed.