Friday, November 11
And while I'm going crazy for the same reason all of you are going crazy, Buttercup is focusing on more critical issues...like how Santa Clause is going to drop off her presents if we don't have a chimney.
An entirely valid question, I would have to agree.
Rather than answer awkward questions and have to hire a therapist tomorrow, I decided to log into etsy and search a few key words. There's a lot if you decide to look...but I'll save you some trouble and tell you about the sweet little deal I found on One Strange Girl's shop. Prices vary greatly, but for a little $5 price tag, you get this cute little skeleton key and a wonderful little poem that explains the magic of they key to the little ones.
The shop owner was kind enough to send me an extra key with my paid order for one of my readers. I'm figuring there are probably three of you, so odds are pretty good, yes?
Good. So leave me a comment and make sure to include a way to contact you (email or twitter handle). Comments will be accepted through midnight, EST, on Nov. 15. Good luck!
Tuesday, October 4
First let me say that if procrastination were an Olympic sport, I’d be bringing home the gold. Why? Because I was approached to review The Reading Kingdom program ages ago and after shouting out an enthusiastic YES! I just let it fall on the back burner. Not because the program isn’t incredible. It was more to do with the fact that we started Buttercup a little early and I wanted to give her a chance to master a few of the skills before giving my thoughts. That, and I’m just really really good at that procrastination thing.
The Reading Kingdom is a program designed to get children ages 4-10 reading and writing at a third grade level. Obviously, Buttercup isn’t there yet, but I love the fact that she is the one who comes to me asking if she can play her “Birdie Reading Game” on my laptop without me bribing her with cookies. (She’s referring to the cute owl you’ll see on the site and in the program lessons.)
Because the program customizes itself to your child’s individual learning needs, there’s no need to worry about information learned not being absorbed. Buttercup has been at the same level for months now, but that’s okay with me. I’m not trying to get her to pick up Harry Potter tomorrow. I just want to give my four-year-old a literacy boost since I myself didn’t even know how to write my name until I was six. She enjoys learning and I love programs like this that allow for me to help foster that love.
You just need a computer with a mouse and the program does the rest. A 30-day free trial gets you and your kid going and then if you like what you see, it’s basically about 50 cents a day to get your kid on the happy path to learning.
For more information on The Reading Kingdom, check out their website and blog, follow them on twitter, or like their Facebook page.
But before you go, check out this cute interview I attempted with Buttercup on her point of view about The Reading Kingdom.
*The Not So Fine Print: I was offered the opportunity to try out The Reading Kingdom at no cost to myself. But this is my blog and my sandbox which means I only write about what I want to and my opinions are my own. That being said, thank you to The Reading Kingdom for your patience and understanding and for this incredible learning opportunity for Buttercup.
**This post originally appeared on Aspiring Mama.
Monday, September 26
I was recently approached to review a copy of The Christian Mama’s Guide to Having a Baby: Everything You Need to Know to Survive (and Love) Your Pregnancy by Erin MacPherson. I might not be pregnant and I might not go to church often enough (make that only for events with invitations and religious holidays involving rabbits and chocolate), but I had taken a peek at Erin’s blog, liked her style, and figured my ability to say The Lord’s Prayer in two languages qualified me to give my opinion on this book.
First, let’s get the fine print out of the way. Again. Yes, I received the book for free. In fact, I didn’t pay for it. And? There was no monetary exchange involved. But maybe more importantly, my blog belongs to me and so do the opinions expressed within. That being said?
This book is awesome.
With a bit of sass, a lot of humor, and a great blend of expert with a dash of girlfriend thrown in, Erin MacPherson covers pregnancy from the obsessive days of peeing on a stick to, “Holy Wow-the baby has to come out where?” While it might not be a necessary read for experienced mamas, I would definitely recommend to first-timers who are searching for a pregnancy book with a practical and sweetly-stated spiritual side.
But enough with the pleasantries. It’s time to talk. Read on for a fun interview with the author.
Berrie Sweet Picks: Fact or fiction: praying really, really hard will make all labor pains magically disappear.
Erin: Fiction. Well, I don’t want to put God in a box so I’m going to go ahead and say that God COULD take my labor pains away if he wanted to, but so far, no matter how much I prayed and moaned and groaned, labor still really hurt for me. And, similarly, I’ve been praying and moaning for two weeks now that God would make my water break or put me into labor again and I’m still huge and pregnant… so that’s not working so well either.
BSP : You talk about pretty much every aspect of pregnancy, labor, and the first few days after baby arrives in The Christian Mama’s Guide. And you do it with adorable sass and an authoritative but encouraging manner. So my question is: Can we go shoe shopping together?
Erin: Yes. Please. But if you’re looking for someone to help you, let me warn you ahead of time… I’m not the best at doling out shoe advice but I will definitely buy you an iced coffee and chat with you while you try on a million pairs.
BSP: You asked for potty training advice (on your blog). As the proud mama of a recently potty-trained almost four-year-old, allow me to shed some light on the subject: pray for patience. It will happen when they are da..uh..darned good and ready. But turnabout is fair play, so I’d like some advice, too. Please explain how I might avoid gaining 45 pounds the next time around…
Erin: Thank you for this. I have a friend who just potty trained her one-and-a-half-year-old and she’s just ranting about how EASY it was and how it just takes patience and dedication and well, darnit, I don’t have patience and dedication and it took me almost a year to potty train my second. And, she peed her pants yesterday while we were at Target. I think you’re right, they must be darned good and ready or you’re going to end up with a lot of wet panties to clean. As far as the 45 pounds, I can’t help you. I’m not sure how much weight I’ve gained this time (I conveniently avert my eyes at the doctor’s office) but I’m sure it’s not pretty.
AM: *Running out of material* *Thumbs through book again for more questions* *Lightbulb* *A-Ha!* What do you mean I was acting psychotic while I was pregnant? Have you been talking to The Husband? And if so, nothing he says is true.
Erin: Well, I certainly haven’t acted psychotic at ALL during this pregnancy (Case in point: I did NOT wake my husband up at 3 am this morning to tell him that he was “breathing too close to my pregnancy pillow”)… but apparently a lot of women (not me, of course) get all hormonal and cranky when they’re pregnant. Who knew that being 50 pounds overweight and throwing up every 10 minutes could do that to you?!
BSP: Will there be a Christian Mama’s Guide to Not Going Crazy the First Time Your Kid has a Public Tantrum in the Toy Section at Target? ‘Cuz I would totally buy that.
Erin: I’ve been scheming The Christian Mama’s Guide to the Terrible One-and-a-Halfs but perhaps your idea is better. And, if you want my advice, get an iced vanilla latte at the Starbucks at the front of Target and when your kid starts throwing a fit, turn across the aisle to the electronics section and yell “Hey, someone’s kid is really losing it over here? Does anyone know where his mom is?!” Then stand back and enjoy your latte. Works like a charm until your kid is old enough to say something like “Mommy?! I don’t see anyone ELSE throwing a fit!”
AM: Number three just joined your family. Any new pregnancy insight to share with the world? Or does Fudge Ripple still reign supreme for cravings?
Erin: Coconut Frappucinos. Pregnancy craving #1. They’re new at Starbucks and so, so yummy. And, they’re coffee-free so they don’t mess with my coffee aversion. BUT, word to the wise, if you have kids, it’s NOT a good idea to share your coconut frap with them or you’ll end up with a sugar-fueled meltdown which is NEVER fun when you’re nine months pregnant. Just sayin’.
It’s giveaway time, people. Up for grabs is one copy of Erin’s book. All you have to do is follow Erin on Twitter or stop by her Facebook page and click the like button. Stop back here and leave me a comment telling me what ya did and boom.
Entries will be accepted through midnight, EST, on Monday, Oct. 3.
Sunday, September 18
I've been busy over at my new(er than this) blog and am now revising the book I'm trying to get published. So naturally I thought it a great time to relaunch Berrie Sweet Picks.
Have I mentioned I am crazy?
I am working on getting my ducks in a row and hopefully migrating over to wordpress while lining up a few reviews/giveaways, but for now here's the plan:
*Post once or twice a week in order to maintain some semblance of sanity and allow for real and honest reviews to be written and not come out sounding like commercials.
*The fine print? I will only be posting reviews for items I endorse and have a) personally used or b) have direct knowledge of someone I know using. Example: Company A sends me a boy related item I hand off to a friend with boys and I review based on her experiences.
*If you are a company interested in a review this is how I roll: you send me the item in question and I respond by email to let you know if you made the cut for a review. Contests and giveaway prizes are to be held by you to ship directly to the winner(s) once they are randomly selected in order to reduce the need to ship items twice.
*Did I mention the Fun part? I've been loving the time to refocus and get serious about my writing, but I did miss this! Hope to see you soon!
Monday, December 7
I am so in love with the concept that I recently purchased one for my girlfriend's daughter for her first birthday. Mom and Dad report that they will eventually let their little girl play with it since Dad is having too much fun testing it out.
If you saw the original review or are falling in love with the SweetPea3 now, listen up because I've got a chance for one lucky reader to win a SwetPea3 of their own, in their choice of color, just in time for Christmas! Mr. Dan Lemay, the creator of the SweetPea3, has recently posted a video on YouTube.
Check the video out and if you think that your mom, sister, best friend, or neighbor might be interested in learning about the SweetPea3, forward them the link. You receive one contest entry for every single time you forward this link on to someone else.
All I ask is that you 1) CC me on every single email you send at (berriesweet dot info at gmail dot com) in order for the entry to count and be sure that the email contains your online ID so I can connect the dots. Rest assured I will delete every single one upon completion of the contest and that this is just a way for me to make sure that the contest entries are fair and legitimate, and 2) Leave comments on this blog post! Leave one for every round of emails you send out. Leave one telling me why you adore the SweetPea3 you already own or why you think your niecve or nephew would go crazy if you won the contest!
The contest is open to anyone 18 years and older and is limited to those living in the United States and Canada. You've got one week to email the world and the sky's the limit on this contest because if you email 500 friends, you've got 500 entries. Contest ends at midnight, Eastern Standard Time, on Dec. 14. Winner will be selected at random.
So get ready, get set, and win that SweetPea3!
Saturday, December 5
I have a few left to take care of contest and review-wise...so I'm going to take care of that and then call it a day.
Maybe I'll start this up again in a new format...I've got some ideas. But for now, this is (almost) goodbye on this blog.
It's been a great run!
Sunday, November 8
And instead of having to try to figure out a nice way to tell a PR person and/or musician that I, um, didn't think their music was a "good fit" for my audience, I am instead trying to figure out how many times I can call The Jimmies "like, you know, totally cool" without sounding like a valley girl because they are just that good.
Here's the deal: We got to check out The Jimmies' brand-spankin' new DVD Trying Funny Stuff and their kickin' CD Make Your Own Someday. First off, the titles are catchy and fun. Second, I squealed a little too loudly when Buttercup asked for her new "Muskik Cho" to play again. Third, The Husband thinks they are "cool." And fourth, I get a lot of stuff for free and would more than gladly pay my own bucks to stock up Buttercup's musical collection with all things "Jimmies."
The group, fronted by mastermind and uber-cool Ashley Albert, is getting rave reviews from blogging parents who are as picky as I am and wining awards left and right. The collection features real songs that parents and kids will find themselves singing together, a 45-minute DVD that I may have liked more than Buttercup (and she liked it a LOT), a bonus live CD, and a "Film 101" behind-the-scenes documentary on how the videos were made.
And of course, there are always the lessons. It's kiddie stuff, so it's a given that they'd be part of the package. But it takes a genius to incorporate them in such a fun way that they kids don't realize they are actually learning. With the musical cherry on top of the proverbial sundae, The Jimmies are in the process of being immortalized in my Zune playlist and Buttercup's iTunes "Play Time" list. I can't do much about the DVD, since Buttercup thought it was so much fun she actually ran off with it and shoved it into her toy box so her toys and "Jimmies" could get to know each other.
And that my friends, is the highest compliment any two-year-old can bestow.
Tuesday, October 27
Buttercup and I share a love of music and it's a bond I cherish. My little girl was humming "Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star" at 10 months, is begging Santa for a piano at two-years-old, and loves to try playing her daddy's old guitar.
I say she's destined for Broadway. But for now, I'm content to sing "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" as many times as she requests. Okay, okay, so even a big music lover like myself can get a bit tired of the kiddie songs that come standard with Toddler Territory, so getting the chance to listen to some Aerosmith with Buttercup tonight was a huge treat for both of us. It was awesome; she fell asleep and I couldn't stop smiling.
And no, I did not deafen my daughter to sleep with rock legends blaring on the iPod. It was really a much more soothing experience thanks to Rockabye Baby! The company, which specializes in lullabye renditions of music parents actually want to listen to like AC/DC, Green Day, Queen, The Beatles, and Coldplay, was gracious enough to send me a review copy of the newest addition to their library, which includes liner notes by Steve Tyler!
It's.Just.Awesome. And I'll tell ya, listening to "Dude (Looks Like a Lady), and "Walk This Way," in a genius rendition soothing enough to almost lull me to sleep but so good I could hear the lyrics in my head was just the coolest musical experience I've had since becoming a mother.
My husband loves it, too, and we're already planning on adding to our collection. I see Metallica in Buttercup's future. (And I'm going to admit here and now that I'm adding the Aerosmith collection to my own mp3 player for those crazy moments when Mama needs some soothing of her own.)
So who wants to call dibs on cool music for your kid that you can't wait to tell your own friends about?
* Tweet about this contest and leave me a comment with the tweet.
Monday, October 26
One of my favorite books when I was a kid was a sing-along version of "Turkey in the Straw," complete with the cassette tape that allowed me to belt out the tunes as I flipped the pages. I was off-key, probably hurting the dogs ears, and happy as happy can be. Because right in front of me, I had my two favorite things in the whole world: Music and words.
Times have changed, but the power of music and the magic of a storybook are still enough to delight any child. Take our recent experience with Sunday in Kyoto, the new children's storybook-music CD from the award-winning publisher, The Secret Mountain. It's set for release tomorrow, Oct. 27, and Buttercup were given the opportunity to take a sneak peek, and oh what a peek it was.
Sunday in Kyoto features illustrations by Stephanie Jorisch, who has created sets for Le Cirque de Soleil, and songs by Gilles Vigneault, a central Canadian music figure. Vineault also wrote the 14 pages of text for the story, capturing his love of nature, culture, and travel, while telling the story of a Cajun musician enjoying a Sunday afternoon jam session in Kyoto with friends from far away places.
Sounds great to parents, but what's this all mean to kid? And to an American, at that, one who has never heard of these famous artists? Buttercup will tell you...it's magic. The combination of all creative talent fused into this one musical story-telling event is enough to whisk my two-year-old to a magical place where T.V., toys, and afternoon tantrums don't exist.
And I have to smile each time she tugs on my shirt and looks up with an expectant smile on her face. "Music story, mama. Please?"
Sunday in Kyoto will be released tomorrow. You can get more information by clicking here.
Monday, October 5
What's not to like? So I was pretty excited when Prima Princessa present The Nutcracker arrived in my mail box. Ijust knew that this was going to turn into a successful series!
As in the original DVD, Prima Princessa transports a group of pre-school girls to see a professional baller performance. And what's better than The Nutcracker for the upcoming Christmas season?
Prima Princessa narrates the story (which makes it a lot more interesting for me, too, and now I actually can say I understand the story behind the performance!) and seems to know exactly when to break to allow her young charges time to practice the ballet moves they've learned. That little intermission gives Buttercup time to play, pretend, and laugh along with the girls on TV.
Prima Princessa presents The Nutcracker is definitely going to be played a lot as the holidays draw closer, and each time Buttercup gets more and more excited when the opening credits start up. Why not order now and stow it away for a sweet little Christmas stocking stuffer for your own little princess?
And an FYI from one mom to another---make sure the volume is turned off on your computer speakers before checking out the product site. I'm a huge Prima Princessa fan, but am not crazy about sites that automatically start talking to me (and Prima Princessa has a lot to say!), especially since I do a lot of online shopping when the family is asleep. So if you wanna keep it a surprise, and I'm sure you do, just hit "mute" and make it a Merry Christmas!
Saturday, October 3
Buttercup might be all about princesses and butterflies right now, but the girly-girl in her can't seem to resist the universal call of dinosaurs that seems to attract all kids from the age of two on up.
And while she may be too young to question how she got here or where the dinosaurs went, she is not too young to enjoy learning as she grows and having fun with both every day.
Enter Charlie's Playhouse: A super-smart company with the aim to provide children and educators with fun learning tools to help teach children about evolution. Buttercup and I were treated to the Giant Timeline Floormat ($49) which she fell in love with as soon as she realized her "Dinos!" were a primary focus. This illustrated, walk-on play mat is one smart toy. Kids ages 4-10 can sit and read it like a book, stand it up like a fort, and spread it across the living room floor for an 18 foot lesson spanning 600 million years!
The Giant Timeline Floormat is printed on enviromentally-friendly and durable synthetic paper, can be cleaned with a damp cloth, and is printed in the USA. What's not to love?
Wednesday, September 30
I found her site through an online search a little over a year ago and then learned that she lives right around the corner from me! Well, I've since moved across the country, but I still make a point to stop by Honeychunks when the need arises.
Buttercup is getting into her "mothering" stage. She's two now, and wants to mimic what she sees and emulate what she knows. And well, in our house, that's co-sleeping, cloth diapering, and Time Outs for misbehaving.
Enter Honeychunks. When my mother pointed out that trying to button a full-sized cloth diaper onto one of Buttercup's many dolls was pretty much pointless, I got online and immediately ordered a few of the doll-sized cloth diapers for Buttercup to indulge her AP tendencies. We couldn't be happier. They're handmade, cute, and priced perfectly.
And in case you're wondering, the photo in this post is of her teddy in Time Out for not behaving during his diaper change.
Friday, September 11
I remember thinking Tie Dye was the coolest thing since sliced bread when I was a kid. Looks like some things never change.
My husband helped me this weekend with the creation of a few Tie Dye masterpieces for our Buttercup. And I have to admit that the process was fun and the results worth the effort!
Jacquard Products, the makers behind the popular and award-winning Tie Dye and Funky Groovy Tie Dye Kits, have created an easy and fun way for families to achieve stunning results together, inspiring tons of creativity!
My husband did the majority of the work since I'm allergic to the rubber gloves and dye, so I happily snapped pictures as he went to work soaking the T-shirts in soda ash, mixing and applying the dyes, and then setting them out to dry for 24 hours in our garage.
This afternoon all he had to do was rinse and wash them, and after air-drying for about 30 minutes in the desert sun, Buttercup had five new reasons to smile. Click here for a list of places you can buy these great kits from Jacquard Products.
Buttercup's a bit too young to appreciate the experience as a bonding one, but my husband and I will always be able to tell you that the shirt she is wearing was made in our kitchen sink our first fall in Arizona and that we couldn't stop smiling at how her face brightened when she got to wear her "rainbow" for the very first time. She calls it her new shirt. We call it a great memory.
* Tweet about this contest and leave me a comment with the tweet.
Monday, September 7
We're all busy. I know I am...Heaven knows it''s taken me forever and a day to get this post up with all of the daily challenges presented as a work at home mother. So how do we stay connected to our kids? When do we have time to learn what's going on in their lives?
The award-winning Around The Table Games company sent me a great new game concept to try out, and I happily passed it on to my friend Jill and her daughter Jordan, 6. Owner Beth Daniels can look forward to plenty of personal purchases from yours truly as Buttercup gets older. Her new line of games, which inspire and facilitate open-ended conversations with our kids, were actually inspired by her own.
Jordan reports that her friends at school love Buddy Talk, and Jordan loves being able to have a built-in reason for making new ones. All she has to ask is ""Who wants to play a game?" With questions like "What's your favorite thing about summer break?"and "I you could have picked your own name, what would it be?" it works every time.
I'd also recommend Family Talk to try at home with your kids. Save it for a rainy day when the kids are moping about nothing to do or for that long car ride to visit the family. Sure beats 103 games of Eye-Spy in a row and you'll learn so much on the way!
Saturday, September 5
I've had a potty chair in the bathroom for almost a year now just so she could sit when she wanted and get used to it being there. I waited until she turned 2 to get busy after taking a minute to make sure she was showing signs of readiness.
One nifty little contraption is the Potty Watch from One Step Ahead. It's cheap (10 bucks!), cute (I got the pink one!), and makes it fun for kids with musical reminders for when it's time to try and potty. We set ours for every 30 minutes right now, and it's working a lot better than the battle of wills that ensues every time I asked if she wanted to try going potty. Just make sure to save the directions. I've had to refer to them a few times to refresh my memory on how to access the different modes available.