Tuesday, March 31

boon, splat, scrubble!

Buttercup loves staying in the tub until her little toes prune up, and thanks to the new toys from boon I'm having one heck of a time getting her out of the tub now.

I really can't complain, though. I love boon products, and am relieved to have bath toys options that are safe for my baby girl to play with since each of the new line of boon goodies is BPA, PVC, and Pthtlate-free!

Check out the video of Buttercup getting her splash on with her new favorite splash time toys!

*Scrubbles are just cute and the name makes me all happy cuz I'm easily amused like that. For $9.99 you get three interchangable bulbs witgh tectured attachments that kids can fill with water and then squeeze it out to their hearts content. And the best part? Yeah....they're dishwasher safe. Rock on.

*Splat is just $7.99 and is the most adorable take on a bath time ring toss game I have ever seen. You get one floating post and three fun rings.

*Water bugs also run $7.99 and are as simplistic as they are genius. Three colorful little critters glide across the water until your happy kid scoops them up with the mesh net.

Now, get ready for the drumroll because I have my first contest since my moving craziness took over! The cool peeps at Boon want me to picks three winners and each will get their choice of one of the three toys I reviewed. Entries are limited to U.S. and Canada, please.

To enter the contest, please leave a comment telling me how much you missed me and that your world is now a better place because I am blogging again. (no, really!) Or you can just leave me a comment telling me which boon toy reviewed here that you would like (by name!) to win if your comment is chosen! It's simple, really... just don't forget to leave your email address in the comment or your entry will not count.

Entries will be accepted until midnight (mountain time!), April 7, 2009 and the winners will have four business days from the announcement date to contact me with their information or an alternate will be selected.

Additional extra entries are also available if you:
* Become a fan of Berrie Sweet Picks on Facebook
* Become a fan of boon on Facebook
* If you are already a facebook fan of either group, let me know in a comment on my fans page for your extra entry for this contest.
* subscribe to my RSS feed and comment letting me know you did so.
* Blog about contest and link to this post.
* Non-bloggers can email three of their friends about the contest at berriesweet.info (at) gmail (dot) com and CC me on the email. Girl Scout's honor that I will never bother these sweet people. I promise!
* Grab my Berrie Sweet Picks button and place it on your blog page. I'll check!
* Follow me on Twitter! (nickname: berriesweetest)
* Follow boon on Twitter (nickname: booninc)
* Tweet the contest and leave a comment with your username telling me what you said to your "tweeple"!
* Vlog about the contest and post at www.newbaby.com!

Please note all entries MUST include a valid email address to be considered for the drawing! That means that well, all entries must include an email address to be considered valid. Simple enough, right? ;)

Monday, March 30

Hello world!

I'm back!

And wow, am behind! But I guess coordinating a cross country drive with four women, four dogs, and two vehicles from Michigan to Arizona can do that to a blogger...so I'm not gonna be too hard on myself!

I'm hard at work putting together a few finishing touches on a vlog and a few written reviews/contests, so stay tuned!

Saturday, March 14

Temporarily closed for business

Hi dear readers!
I haven't abandoned you.

How ya doin', generous sponsors?
I haven't taken the free stuff you sent me to look at and run. Well, I have, but not in the way you think.

Ya see, I'm currently sitting at a cramped kitchen table with all of my earthly posessions that are NOT going with the moving truck on my trek to Arizona. I naively assumed I'd be able to handle coordinating a 2,000 mile move, breathe, sleep, shower, and blog. But reality knocked me upside the head and I'm lucky I got two out of five handled in the past week.

I am leaving Michigan on Monday morning and planning on being at the new home by Wednesday or Thursday, and as soon as I unpack my "Items to Review" box, I will diligently get one new review and contest (if applicable) up per day until I am caught up.

So stay tuned because I have some sweet items to tell you about like some new stuff from Boon, an eco-friendly shower gel, an immunity booster for moms and kids, some cute new styles from See Kai Run, and more!

Thursday, March 5

Expert nap tips from parenting expert Elizabeth Pantley

Did you know that studies have proven healthy sleep habits for your child now can directly impact their health for the rest of their lives? Or that a child not wanting a nap and not needing a nap are not one in the same?

But let's get real: While our intentions may be great, real life doesn't always allow for step-by-step approaches to getting our kids the daytime rest they need (and the sorely needed breaks we get while they nap!). Crabby kids, relatives popping in unannounced right before nap time, teething, upset bellies, that doctor appointment you can't miss, that 15 minute car nap that ruined little Johnny's afternoon siesta that led to an even more difficult bed time fight because he was so overtired...we've all been there, done that, and were all ready to pull out hair out by the end of the day.

Best-selling author and parenting expert Elizabeth Pantley recently shared with me her newest book, The No-Cry Nap Solution: Guaranteed Gentle Ways to Solve All Your Naptime Problems (Pantley), and I can't recommend this book enough.

There's a lot of great information in this book for parents of newborns through toddlerhood, and I made plenty of notes while I read. And there was also plenty of information that did not apply to our situation, some of which I skipped entirely and some of which I just skimmed (because I do plan on having another baby eventually!). But that is what is so great about Pantley's book: it's not a one-size-fit-all solution. Whether you co-sleep, nurse-to-sleep, stick to a by-the-clock schedule, or fly by the seat of your pants (like I do), you and your nap-fighting child will benefit greatly from the little bit of time it will take to sit down and read!

A few very important lessons I learned while reading Pantley's book included:

* Buttercup needs 12 hours of sleep a night and 1 to 2 hours of nap time per day for 13 to 14 hours of sleep total. Oops! I had been cutting her short by about 2 hours. We have been working on remedying that situation and I am already noticing improvements.

* Night time sleep can help make up for naps but naps cannot make up for night time sleep.

* No matter what ANYONE tells you, newborns cannot be spoiled. So baby-wear, cuddle, and hug to your hearts content.

* I am not the worst mother in the world.

* What works for us is fine. A parenting expert says so. So if Buttercup and I are happy with our she-holds-my-hand-until-she -falls-asleep-for-every-nap-and-bedtime situation, then so be it. It doesn't mean I am spoiling her and it doesn' mean I did something wrong. It just means that this is what is right for us. (I'm not sure why I needed an expert to tell me this to make me feel better, but thank you, Elizabeth. You don't know how much better this makes me feel.

I should also point out that I actually read the book. As in cover to cover. And that is a big flippin' deal because I haven't read a book since before I gave birth. This one mattered. And I think you'll agree.

Elizabeth Pantley's The No-Cry Nap Solution: Guaranteed Gentle Ways to Solve All Your Naptime Problems (Pantley) is available at Amazon.com.

Wednesday, March 4

One sweet music player for your little pea

Funny story: Once upon a time a mommy-to-be had her own 30 gig iPod and was happy. But once the baby came, the little princess took over the iPod in the nursery for nightime lullabies on the mommy's iHome2go.

For months, the mommy left the iPod in the little princess's room for naps and bedtime on the appropriate "Buttercup's lullabies" playlist. Although the little princess loved her sleepy-time tunes, the mommy was REALLY missing her iPod.
That's when she discovered the SweetPea3 mp3 player for kids. And the mommy rejoiced.

This award-winning little baby is seriously AWESOME! The Sweetpea Toy Company was kind enough to send one for Buttercup to try out for our trips to see her daddy who is working out of state, and I can already promise my future unborn children that I will by each of them a sweetpea3 of their own because it is that cool.

The sweetpea3 itself is the brain-child of a small Canadian start-up designed for kids ages 0-6. Yep, you read that right. But before you freak out, no one is talking about sticking nickel-sized headphones into your little prince's or princess's ears. Instead, the player is designed to play with our without headphones, and has a jack for older kids to listen to their chosen tunes in peace. The littlest music lovers can enjoy naptime lullabies in their nurseries with the sweetpea3 shushing them to dreamland while perched safely on a dresser or shelf.

The design itself is pretty smart. It's small enough to throw in a diaper bag for happier car rides and made of a durable enough rubber that it survived Buttercup's baptismal spike onto the floor from a shopping cart the day we got it. Add the fact that it's easy for little hands to carry around and it's one smart kiddie mp3.

Other bonuses are the easy-to-use kiddie controls with three buttons which allow kids to go forward, backward, or stop a song. Hidden parental controls allow for saavy parents to set the volume, play time (you can have it auto shut off after a few minutes or let it play for a few hours), select the playlist (you have three you can choose from to easily separate boisturous play time music from gentle night lullabies), and set the volume to your desired level.

The Sweetpea3 holds up to 16 hours of music and easy to get going with the included USB chord. You can load it up with mp3 and WMA files, but save yourself the trouble of even trying to get any of your iTunes music on this little player. It won't work. Ninety percent of my iTunes playlist is from my own personal CD collection, including Buttercup's tunes, and I wasted a good chunk of time trying to load it with music it basically just rejected.

This really is my only major complaint as I have about 5 gig of music for Buttercup on the iPod that I have no chance of letting her listen to on the Sweetpea3.
And as far as complaints go, I also have one minor one: Buttercup listens to the Sweetpea3 all day long and no battery can outlast her. And when you add in the 8 hours of uninterrupted nighttime serenades, we use up AA batteries pretty quickly. The Sweetpea3's $60 price tag would be much more attractive to me if it included the AC adapter, which currently sells as an optional accessory for $10.

If you are looking at purchasing this for your child for plane trips, keep in mind that unless your child is old enough for safe headphone use, you will only be able to use the sweetpea3 while waiting to board the plane. But it's a great buy for long car rides and even longer layovers in boring airports.

All in all, I think this is a great option for mjusic-loving kiddos and parents wishing to reclaim their own prized electronics. You can get your own sweetpea3 from the Sweetpea Toy Company.

***Post edited on March 3 to include a message from the Sweetpea Toy company***

Hi Pauline,

Thanks for the review.

FYI, you can use iTunes to copy your CD collection but first you have to change the setting from AAC format to MP3 format (see http://sweetpeatoyco.com/SupportTroubleshooting.cfm#6 for details). Also, 40 hours on one AA battery is exceptionally good. I get many comments about how long the battery lasts. About 1/3 of customers purchase the adapter. Separating the adapter from the package allows me to lower the price for 2/3 of my customers who don't actually want or need the adapter.

I'm pleased to offer you a promotional code that you can distribute to your readers. They enter the code on the order page of my website and it knocks $10 off the purchase price of a SweetPea3. It would be wonderful if you could let your readers know. Your promo code is 24WWW.

Thanks so much,
Dan Lemay
SweetPea Toy Company Ltd.

Monday, March 2

I'm back!

It's been a crazy two weeks and I am finally home...or at least I am for the next two weeks before moving cross country to Arizona. Talk about a whirlwind! Buttercup and I had a great time visiting with family and seeing her daddy...and we are counting down the days until we can all be together again under the same roof in about 8 weeks!

I swear that I had planned on blogging while I was on vacation, but I had laptop issues and basically wasted a carry-on since I wasn't able to use it at all on my trip. So give me tonight to get to bed early (ha! It's midnight already...) and I promise to get back in the game tomorrow. I've got winners to pick and announce, new items to review, and more contests to post!

It's going to be craaaaazy over here in Berrie-land for a few more weeks, but I am going to do my best to get back on track and give you all plenty of reasons to keep on coming back!

See ya tomorrow!