Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Sweaty Baby Is An Unhappy Baby. So Is a Cold One.

I haven't put a small baby to bed in a long time, not since Brady was enormous seemingly moments after birth. However, when he and Kyle were infants and the nights were chilly, I never used blankets to keep them warmer. Instead I reached for the sleep sacks that were given to me as shower gifts.

Like overalls that end in a bag instead of pant legs, or like a miniature sleeveless Snuggie, the sleep sacks were the perfect solution to keep the babies warm without adding another risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). One might blow this risk off as minimal, but if you are the mother of a young baby you do not care how minimal a risk is, you just don't want to take it.

The CJ Foundation for SIDS has released a reminder about the risks of SIDS and a list of guidelines to follow when caring for your infant to reduce them.

* Consider the use of fans to increases ventilation
* Room temperature should be comfortable for a lightly-clothed adult, approximately 61-67 degree Fahrenheit
* Cribs should be totally free of all loose blankets, stuffed animals and crib bumpers
* Lay baby to sleep in an improved crib, on a firm mattress; do not let the baby sleep on soft things, like a couch, pillow, sheepskin, foam pad or waterbed
* No smoking when pregnant or near baby
* If possible, breastfeed baby
* Offer a pacifier at bedtime
* Co-sleeping should be in the same room but not the same bed or other sleep surface as parents

Even when it's cold, it is very important for babies to be dressed lightly and comfortably to avoid overheating. The muslin swaddling blankets by aden + anaisĀ® were not widely available when my kids were infants (do I sound so old already?) but now everyone has one and they even make the sleep sacks now too. Cuter than the sleep sacks that I used, these are really adorable and they help you keep the baby warm and safe at the same time.

Do you have a baby to keep warm and safe this spring? aden + anaisĀ® will give a cozy sleeping bag to one of my readers. Typical giveaway rules - leave a comment here with an obvious way to contact you and I'll use Randomizer to pick a winner by the end of the week.

Stay warm!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

It's Not Too Late To "Whip It"

Sometimes, when you're mired in the humdrum day-blending life of a suburban working mother, it helps to watch a bunch of bad-ass chicks beating the crap out of each other while traveling at high speeds around a rink wearing miniskirts. While the story of Drew Barrymore's directorial debut, "Whip It," turns out to be predictable, fitting right into the typical sports team-comes-from-behind-because-of-plucky-unlikely-hero format, not to mention the teen rebellion/coming of age format, the action and characters were satisfying to not just me but also my hard-to-impress husband and even my 2-year-old who couldn't sleep last night. "It's da race!" he exclaimed during the final sequence.

Ellen Page is just as adorable as she was in "Juno," although with considerably less script to chew on, and the supporting characters are all nice to look at and listen to. For me the standout was Barrymore herself, whose every appearance was the indulgent equivalent of punk rock mosh pit melee. It was fun to see her go balls out for once, gleefully partaking in a food fight, hurling her body at other skaters, tackling her character's fiance, and on and on.

This film appealed to my husband on the sports level, and I was just curious. I would definitely recommend this as a rental, and if you're into that sort of thing, purchase it for the bonus features, because any chance to get inside Drew Barrymore's head is pretty priceless. Also, Juliette Lewis, an actress I've always loved ("How sexy am I NOW?!") plays a 36-year-old menace. The scene in which she gives Page's character the older woman smackdown is just...awesome.

My review copy was provided by Fox, who has given me three copies for my readers. Leave a comment here and pass it on - comments will be open until Friday, February 12, 2010 at 8:00PM Pacific Time and winners will be chosen from them by Randomizer.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Elfing Around Winner

The winner of the Elfing Around Giveaway has been chosen at random (see proof! below!) and it's Rebecca L. Congratulations, and thanks to all of you for entering the contest. Merry Christmas!You may notice that there were 39 comments and I only entered 38. That's because my mother is disqualified!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Mabel's Labels Cyber Monday Madness

A while back I agreed to review and give away a set of Mabel's Labels. I mean, they gave me free panties at BlogHer. It was the least I could do.

But I totally flaked like the flakey flake I turned into this year, a thing that I am desperately trying to improve. Mostly I am just turning down new offers to review things because I simply do not want to be obligated to churn out more posts. Since I did accept free labels from Mabel, though, I really do want to tell you that a) I love them and b) they are having a big sale!

So, about A. I ordered a variety pack of labels in honor of Kyle's first year in preschool. They have his initials and a star, and there are little dog tags, round labels, teeny tiny labels, and medium sized labels. I have stuck them on everything from clothing tags to the Tupperware (also received for free, back at Brooke Shield's fabulous beach party. Thanks, Brooke!) that I put strawberries in for his lunch. The labels go through the dishwasher with no sign of wear or tear. That kind of makes me wonder what they're made of, but not that much. And the best part is that Kyle's initials are the same as mine so I can use the labels for my own stuff too.

And now for the sale. Since tomorrow is "Cyber Monday," and Mabel does all their business online, it's only fitting that they run a crazazy sale for the holidays:

30% off Holiday Gift Tags and Return Address Labels - Regular Price: $18.50, sale price $12.95

And my favorite: 40% off Selected Write-On! Stationery, in choice of Bzzz (shown above) or Cowpoke designs, regular Price $34, sale price $20.40. This is a great gift for any paper loving letter writer.

If I were you, I'd surf on over there starting NOW and snap up a bunch of gifts and just cross them right off your lists. Boom!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Fresh and Easy Wine - Vine Yard Cabernet Franc

Last night was Thanksgiving eve, and with a dinner of linguini and sausage we enjoyed the first of two wines Fresh and Easy sent me last week. I didn't have high hopes for it, expecting something tart and headache-inducing like two-buck Chuck, but I found it surprisingly pleasant. It's not a fancy wine that you'd give as a gift. It reminded me of the table wine that is poured so freely at our old haunt, the hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant Bruno's in Santa Monica.

The wine came with an information sheet that has all kinds of detail (13.3% alcohol) about the winemaking process that went into creating this wine, but really all I care about is how it tastes. I'm not a wine connoisseur, so all I can tell you is that I liked it. At the end of the evening the bottle was gone, and that's a good enough review, right?

Monday, November 23, 2009

For Kids on the Nice List

Living so far away from any family members, my husband and kids and I have to create our own holiday traditions. For Christmas, these include driving around at night to look at holiday lights, leaving cookies out for Santa, and going to church on Christmas day. Yes, we are that family that our church friends see once a year. Where else are the kids going to wear their special outfits?

I'm hoping the creative little dolls from Elfing Around will help us create another fun Christmas tradition. The dolls are elves that come to visit children during the 12 days leading up to Christmas, and then travel back to the North Pole with Santa on Christmas day. During the 12 days, the elves get into elfin trouble at night. In the morning, the children wake up to discover the elves have been having magical adventures while they themselves were sleeping. For example, the dolls are found in front of the TV with a bucket of popcorn and a DVD case. They had an awesome movie night last night! Or as in the photo above, they spent the night reading books with a flashlight!

Here's what I love about this particular doll: it comes with a book of ideas. You can certainly take any old doll and stick it in weird places and say "Oooh! I wonder how that elf got stuck up in the Christmas tree!" but the Elfing Around dollmakers actually did that thinking for you, an extra step that I appreciate during this busy time of year. While your children are sleeping, you simply follow the plans that the included Parent Adventure Guidebook gives you, and voila. Magic happens every morning, 12 days in a row. You cap off the elves' visit with a note on Christmas day next to the empty cookie plate that tells the children that the elves will be back next year.

Despite my insistence that we only need one elf doll, the company sent me one for each of my children. Since the boys are prone to fighting over every scrap of plastic that enters the house, I am glad they had that foresight. The dolls are adorable and soft, and I have no doubt that my kids will love them. That doesn't even matter. I love them! And if I just keep doing the same thing every year, then it becomes a tradition by default.

One lucky commenter will be visited by an elf doll starting this year! Leave a comment here and include a working email address (if you don't your comment won't qualify, home pages don't count) to be entered into this giveaway - open until November 30, 2009 at 3:00PM Pacific Time. Winner will be chosen at random to receive one elf doll in time to make mischief during the 12 days of Christmas.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Video Sharing Software - Pixorial and FlipShare

I agreed to review the services of Pixorial quite a long time ago. It was such a sweet offer: send us a bunch of your old home videos, we'll digitize them, upload them to a website, and you can edit and create movies with them. Bam! Considering that most of our home video footage is on mini DV and (cough cough) VHS-C, I loved this opportunity.

I have no way to digitize VHS-C footage, so I appreciate Pixorial's mission. They'll take VHS, VHS-C, MiniDV, Hi8 cassette, 8mm cassette and (GASP) Betamax, all for different prices. Shipping is secure, as far as I have experienced, and you receive your media back once the digitizing is done.

Of course, then it took me almost six months to get my act together. I've had media sitting on their servers for quite a while. Tonight I finally played around with it, and here is one result:

The editing tools are rudimentary and clumsy, and there doesn't seem to be an option to add a music track. But if you want to take a long video tape and break it into shorter clips that you can then email to friends and family, this service is fantastic.

I was inspired to finally play around with Pixorial because today I got my Flip Video camcorder in the mail from Amazon (yes I actually paid for it). It was SO EASY to get it up and running. It even came with 2 AA batteries! Pop them in, turn the camera on, and you're off. Here's my test video:

Videos are loaded to your computer with the FlipShare software that comes in the camera. This, too, has rudimentary editing tools. Very rudimentary. The trim tool is not very intuitive and you have to open separate windows for each file to trim it, then if you want to edit clips together you drag them into another window blah blah blah and then 100 years later you have a movie. At least you get to add music, but after all that, why bother? It is easy, however, to upload videos to the internet. Just click on youtube and it loads right to your account.

The convenience of this pocket-sized camera (well, a large pocket) and the quality of the video is worth the splurge, I say. I used my birthday money towards the purchase. Happy birthday to me! For editing purposes, I will look elsewhere.