Category: Lifestyle

Google Home Review: My Home Just Got a Lot Smarter

This is a sponsored post. Nonetheless, this review is 100% my honest opinion and, to the best of my ability, an unbiased review. You can read about my disclosure policy here

Google Home Review - Full ShotI am a pretty typical 30’s something mom. Which is to say, I try to keep up with the times and the latest gadgets but implementing new technology into my life is usually directly correlated with ease vs. benefit.

The concern with getting any new tech gadget for me is whether or not it will really be used in my daily life. Luckily, the Google Home was incredibly easy to get started. All I had to do was install the Google Home app on my phone to set up the wifi and some other basic settings.

The first thing I connected was my Pandora account so that I could stream music into our home. The second thing I did was have a dance party with the kids. The music was rich and clear and we had a blast.

Now, we always have music playing (especially in the mornings to get us started) and, of course, random dance parties thrown in. 🙂

Besides streaming music, my second favorite feature is its ability to translate things into Mandarin Chinese. I’m trying my best, but truthfully failing, to raise Max and Alexa bilingual. Max now loves to run up to our Google Home and shout “OK, Google! How do you say [most random thing] in Chinese?” The translations are accurate and come out in the tone of a native speaker.

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Top 5 Books to Read to Toddler

When Max was a baby, I wrote about my top 5 favorite books to read to him. Now that he is a 2-year old toddler, the books I enjoy reading to him have evolved a lot.

Several reasons: 1) Max’s attention span has grown to be greater than that of a goldfish; 2) He is *gasp* actually willing to cuddle up with me while I read to him these days; and 3) He now has, arguably, enough self-control (on the good days) to not rip all the damn pages. (Although we still patch up our fair share.)

All of that means we are no longer confined to board books and can read books with proper stories from start to finish. Yay!

My main criteria for books that I enjoy reading to Max is that have to enjoy reading it. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve re-re-re-read a story because my toddler kept screaming “MORE!” Let’s just say you better be damn sure you like that book.

Without further ado, my top five favorite books these days are (spoilers ahead):

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Freshly Picked Review: Toddler Edition + GIVEAWAY

Freshly Picked Logo

It’s time for me to talk about my favorite baby and toddler moccasin company again! That’s right, it’s Freshly Picked. I previously raved about their moccasins when Max was 11 months old. Looking back on that prior review makes me feel incredibly nostalgic – he’s grown so much since then!

Freshly Picked sent a pair for Max the Toddler to try on and I chose the color “Stone Suede.” Honestly, I really, really wanted “Starry Night” (a gorgeous metallic color) but I had to remind myself that the moccs weren’t for me 🙁

freshly picked moccasins

freshly picked heels

I opted for suede because Max already has two leather moccs from Freshly Picked so I wanted to see what their suede was like. I was not disappointed. The suede is thick and feels durable yet remains soft and supple. Their moccs are no longer handmade but the quality and craftsmanship is still impeccable.

The reason I am such a huge fan of Freshly Picked and their soft moccasins is largely because, for babies and toddlers who are learning to walk, moccs do not hinder healthy feet development. Barefoot is best whenever possible. But when they are walking outdoors those tender feet need protection. I think soft moccasins are the next best thing.

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Best Jigsaw Puzzles for Toddler: Mudpuppy vs. Djeco

In my life before kids, I was an avid gamer. I love(d) computer games, card games, board games, all games.

As a Freshman in college, I broke up with my boyfriend when he gave me an ultimatum – him or Counterstrike (a popular PC game back in the day) – I chose Counterstrike. (In fairness, it was the ultimatum itself that I found to be unacceptable more than anything else but it makes for a good story.) However, just a few years later, I (in)famously told my parents while we were out dining at a nice steakhouse that I wanted to drop out of college and become a professional poker player. Yes, yes I did. And, no, thankfully, I did not pursue those foolish dreams. I also know, with certainty, that the only reason I made it through law school is because Mr. C banned me from playing World of Warcraft (another popular PC game).

Suffice it to say, I really was a gamer and will always be one at heart.

As such, I would love nothing more than to instill and share my passion for games with my children. I already envision daily – potentially forced – game nights playing card and board games. After all, I have a captive audience now – HA!

Max just turned two and I recently introduced him to jigsaw puzzles because I’m sure that a love of doing jigsaw puzzles is the gateway to… more games! The good news for other parents is that jigsaw puzzles also enhance a whole host of skills for toddlers which include: spatial, cognitive, fine motor, gross motor, attention, concentration, matching, sorting, logic, etc., etc., etc. It’s really great for their overall development. But I just like it because, you know, puzzles!

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Kinderpack Review and How I’ve Scored Them

Kindercarry

I’ve joined a babywearing cult. More specifically, the Kinderpack babywearing cult.

Ok, first, let me rewind a little bit to when Max was just a wee baby (HA!). During the newborn to four-month period, Mr. C and I swore by our Beco Gemini Baby Carrier.

Max hated his swing, never went down in the crib, and unless I was lying next to and/or nursing him, the boy would not nap. The Beco was our GODSEND. I still remember the countless hours that we strapped Max on while bouncing on a yoga ball while playing loud white noise in the background while attempting to eat our lunch/dinner or watch Netflix.

Trust me, if your baby is being exceptionally fussy or refuses to sleep, you will do whatever it takes and this was what worked.

Not to mention that the Beco pretty much saved our lives on our 14-hour international flight.

So, yes, I have always been a HUGE fan of babywearing. Sadly, Max outgrew the Beco a little after he turned a year old and I stopped thinking about babywearing in general.

With the upcoming arrival of Bean, I had to re-evaluate our transportation options. I initially wanted to purchase a double stroller but we had previously invested in an excellent (and expensive) stroller. Plus, I don’t really like maneuvering the single stroller to begin with – let alone a double stroller.

That’s when I started looking into soft structured carriers for toddlers and came across the Kinderpack. The company, Kindercarry, is a small family-owned business started by a stay-at-home mom, based in the US. Each carrier is beautifully handmade by her team of tailors. The carriers range in price from $179-$194 (+$12 shipping) and, depending on the style, come with Koolnit, which is a mesh back panel that promotes air flow. Kinderpacks are also unique in that the back panel is comprised of three panels, creating an exceptionally deep seat for the baby/toddler. This is ideal for the child’s comfort and promotes an M-position carry (where the knees are higher than the bottom) which is the optimal position for a child’s developing hips.

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