LeapPad Platinum Review

LeapPad Platinum review

 

Disclosure: LeapFrog sent me a LeapPad Platinum and the PAW Patrol Imagicard game in order to facilitate this review. As always, all opinions are 100% my own and I was not required to post a positive review.

LeapPad Platinum Review

We have been enjoying LeapFrog products for a long time, my oldest is 19 and learned to count and learn ABCs with a LeapFrog Learning bus.

Our younger children are really enjoying this latest offering from LeapFrog. The LeapPad Platinum tablet is a kid-friendly tablet that allows for fun, educational game play as well as safe web-surfing.

The seven inch touch screen displays crisp graphics, and as an impatient mom, I totally appreciate the increased processor speed. The battery life is long, between 5 and 7 hours depending on activity, and can be charged with USB or AC adapter. No batteries needed! Win!

All of our older LeapPad cartridges work in this LeapPad, and we can also share downloaded content purchased for our older devices as well. I have twin daughters, so I appreciate that I can download a game once and both girls can have the game on their own devices. This is a great savings for us (plus, let’s face it, those cartridges get lost.) There are over 1,000 games and apps available, and if you watch sales on Leapfrog.com you can get some great deals!

This is a kid tough and kid friendly tablet and my girls love the lease of use. I admit to even having fun playing some of the games–you never quite outgrow the joy of leveling up.

My girls love the dual cameras and the video recorder and have fun playing the the included Photo Fun Utility.

One of my favorite new features is the enhanced parental controls. There is now an option to set a time limit for playing and then the device shuts down for a preset amount of time. This is a great way to help limit screen time.

The LeapPad Platinum includes 8GB of memory and 10 apps (music player plus 10 songs, Pet Pad Party, Pet Chat, Photo fun Ultra, five Utility Apps, and a choice of App download).

This is the perfect, age appropriate tablet for the 9 and under set. My twin five year-olds give it two thumbs up!

PAW Patrol Imagicard Game Review

This game has been the biggest hit with my five year-old twin daughters.

The package includes a collectable tin, the Imagicards (and they are sturdy–much thicker than a standard playing card) a fold out play mat to sort the cards onto, and a downloadable game. And this is the key for a family with multiples: the game is downloadable so can be played, at the same time, by more than one child. When a new game comes into the house, this is a HUGE bonus!

This game arrived in the mail while my girls were off visiting grandparents, so I had a chance to play-test it myself, and I’m not ashamed to say that I really enjoyed playing the game. It is engaging and goal driven.

This is the perfect game to get my girls warmed up for Kindergarten. It covers numbers 1-20, basic shapes, patterns, sorting, and some basic arithmetic. My girls may be twins, but they are not the same, and the game adjusts seamlessly for their skill level.

On a rainy day it kept them both occupied, entertained, and quarrel free for hours! They don’t watch a lot of TV, but were somewhat familiar with the Paw Patrol characters. However, the game plays fine if you have no knowledge of the show. The storyline in the game is self contained.

I think it is clever how the cards work within the game; when a card is “scanned”, or photographed, the characters leap onto the screen. The game can also be played without the cards, as there is a digital card gallery included. I find it interesting that one of my girls likes to physically flip through the cards, while my other prefers the digital gallery.

This game is prefect for children from 3-5 years.

Buy It:

LeapPad Platinum on Amazon.com and LeapFrog.com

PAW Patrol Imagicard game on Amazon.com and LeapFrog.com

 

How to Dye Easter Eggs With Toddlers

Easter Fun with toddlers

Easter Fun with toddlers

 

I have great memories of dying Easter Eggs when I was growing up. It remains one of the most fun activities to do with my kids in the kitchen, even today!

This year I decided to dye eggs with the twins. They are just over two-years-old, so old enough to participate, but not quite old enough to be set loose.

In my motherly wisdom, I decided to have the little girls dye their eggs while the big boys were at school. The big boys will dye eggs next week during a twin naptime!

During my adventures, I learned a few things about dying Easter eggs with toddlers, and I thought that I would share them with you!

Tip 1. Work with a kit. I grew up using kits from PAAS  and I love continuing the tradition with my own children. I still get a little excited when I open up the box and take all of the goodies out. And PAAS does not waste a thing! The box turns into an egg drying rack and the punched out holes can be made into spinning tops! Lizze was really EGGsited to see the duckie egg-arounds. I set some of the things in the kit aside for later with the boys and to minimize toddler distractions.

inpatient children

Tip 2. Don’t make toddlers wait.  Do those look like patient faces to you? They are not. I made the mistake of assuming that they would want to see the magical transformation of food coloring pellet to glass full of colored water. I was mistaken. Even though the PAAS color and Heinz Vinegar only take about 3 minutes to dissolve and combine…that was three minutes too long. I should have had the dye ready to go!

 

Tip 3. Have something ready for them to do while they wait! PAAS and Heinz Teamed up to create this free fun app for the iPad. The girls enjoyed decorating their eggs. For each egg “dyed” on the App, Heinz and PAAS will donate $1 to the Make-a-Wish Foundation. At this rate, t our girls are donating a lot of eggs!

 

Tip 4: Keep things simple. Although our kit came with 9 dye tablets, I opted to only use three when working with the girls. We played around a little with crayon resist. I really think that nine glasses of Easter Egg dye would have been overwhelming for the girls, and more than just a little messy!

 

Tip 5: Allow for wonder.  This is a brand new experience for your toddler. Allow her to smell the vinegar, touch the damp, cool eggs, dip her fingers in the dye.

 

Tip 6: Be ready for a mess.  Toddlers are messy. I put down newspapers and the girls were wearing easy to wash play clothes. Remember that the entire job of a toddler is to explore her world. Our world is messy. I just clean up a lot!

 

Tip 7: Enjoy the results!  Look at and admire the colors on the eggs. talk about them with your toddler. Then, let them help you peel an egg and eat it together! This is a great time of year to eat the food we play with! And what a healthy snack!

Need tips on how to make hard boiled eggs without turning the yolk green? My recipe for Fool Proof Hard Boiled Eggs is here.

Did you know that Heinz Vinegar helps the dye turn brighter on your eggs? Also, use 2 T of Heinz vinegar in the boiling water to reduce eggs cracking during cooking!

Chime in! What are some of your favorite Easter Egg Dying traditions? 

*I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Heinz and PAAS and received a Heinz Vinegar bottle, a PAAS Egg Dyeing Kit, and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

 

The Silver Lining

It was a tough motherhood week last week. The boys were very busy, the girls were teething and then ill. I had to be a grown up more than I wanted to. Some days I feel like I am teaching and reteaching and then reteaching again with the kids.

It can get frustrating.

This week I made three last minute grocery store trips. Elizabeth managed to lock herself into her room, and then also managed to lock her and I into another room the next day. I still need to get to the hardware store to buy new door knobs, currently most of the doors have no knobs. . .which makes it tough to block twins from getting into off limits rooms.

Needless to say, yesterday I was tired. And I was cranky. I was looking forward to getting out on a play date with friends. And then, a crabby toddler crawled up on my lap, popped her thumb into her mouth and fell asleep.

So I sat. And I rocked her. I nuzzled her fuzzy head and told her about all of the dreams I have for her. I whispered about how I wondered how she would look. I told her how I was afraid to mother one daughter let alone two. I savored her weight in my lap, her sticky warmth. I was just present.

Later that afternoon, Elizabeth was taking a second nap (she has a cold, hence the crabbiness). Emily was restless, but not wanting to go to bed. Finally I pulled her onto my lap. She put her little head on my shoulder and we rocked. I repeated all of the things I told her sister. I nibbled her little ear. And then she fell asleep. She NEVER falls asleep on my lap.

I savored it all.

Everyone has bad days, even bad weeks. However, there is nearly always a silver lining. God gives us glimpses of the good amidst the hard times. It is funny how even a sick toddler can make my day!

Chime in! What has been your silver lining this week? Sometimes they are hard to find, sometimes easier! You know I’d love to hear from you!

The Trouble With Twindom

twins
At the end of the day, they are sweethearts.

The trouble with twins is that while we have two times the fun, and two times the snuggles; here at 20 months of age, we also have two times the tantrums. There are challenges with raising twins.

I’m not going to sugar coat this. I’m not going to lie. Some days I feel like I have a twin crying All.Day. Long.

Combine the tantrums with our family tendency for late talking, we have tantruming toddlers who cannot talk to me. Not that I really want to know what they think anyway. I’m fairly certain they would just tell me that I am mean for not allowing one more cookie, or insisting on a nap or not putting the shoes back on for the fiftieth time in a day.

Going out in public is getting tougher. Neither girl is fond of sitting in a shopping cart. However, neither girl really wants to walk  nicely next to the cart either. Have you ever read Llama Llama Mad at Mama? In the middle of the story, the climax, if you will, the little llama throws a tantrum of epic proportions in the middle of the store. Groceries, shoes, toys, and clothing go flying. This is but a wee insight into what happens when I shop with the twins.

This would all not be so disturbing, except that I am an experienced mother! This is not my first rodeo! I have four other kids who I stayed home with, and took grocery shopping, and took them in fitting rooms with me so I could buy jeans that fit. And while the boys may have whined and complained; none of them threw fits that caused fellow shoppers to stare at me as if I were the one throwing a fit.

So what is a mom to do? For now, I stick pretty close to home. A cop-out perhaps, but sanity is important too. I can wait until after school when I have older brother assistants, but they are not fond of spending their free time running errands either.

I was sharing my toddler twin woes during a playdate on Friday. All of the moms of singletons clucked politely and said silent prayers of thanks that they had but one baby at a time. However, sweet Mae, mom of two sets of twins, two years apart, laughed. She said, “I wish I had some great Mom of Multiples wisdom for you, but I’ve got nothing.” And then I realized that we are all wallowing through this motherhood thing.

Advice from other moms may or may not work. . .we are all a product of our current and past environments. Some days I even dream of the freedoms something like a live in housekeeper or nanny would give me. And yet, I wonder if extra help could even complicate things further.

What I do know is that no matter how difficult these days are, I would not trade them for life without my crazy, moody, sweet, beautiful twins. They are a blessing beyond words, and a lesson in patience for me as well.

Chime in! What are your kids teaching you? Patience? Acceptance? Unconditional love? You know I’d love to hear from you!

Do you have twins, are expecting twins or know someone who is? Make sure you click on over to my “Got Twins?” page and learn more about the wonders of twindom! Lots of advice and experience from pregnancy, breast feeding and beyond!

My Life With Twins: When Twins Come Early

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to one of my favorite fellow twin mamas! My friend Kristin agreed to guest post today to share her experience with preemie twins, what led to their premature birth, and how the March of Dimes has helped her family! You can read more from Kristin here and here

 

Kristin with the twins
There is always a special feeling when you hold both babies at the same time!

I have always supported the March of Dimes and the amazing work that they do.  They have helped to fund the research of amazing medical advances such as the polio vaccine, perfect amniocentesis, and helped to educate women of child bearing age about the importance of taking enough folic acid to prevent neural tube defects.

I supported the March of Dimes and their mission to help moms achieve full term pregnancies and researching the problems that threaten health of babies long before I ever fully understood just what the March of Dimes does.Then in December 2005 I saw firsthand the amazing things that the March of Dimes has accomplished with funds raised…because I became a Preemie Mommy.

In May 2005 my husband and I learned that we were pregnant. We were over the moon, as we had been trying for over 18 months to get pregnant after the birth of our first daughter, Delainey in 2003. In June we learned we were expecting twins…. It was amazing and we couldn’t have been happier.  Our pregnancy went extremely well. We did have a few pre-term labor scares and a few bouts with modified bedrest but once we made it to 33 weeks in mid December both my doctors and I sighed a huge sigh of relief because we knew that our girls were going to be ok.

The Thursday before Christmas I began to get ill. I started feeling dizzy, flushed, and swelling a lot. I went to the clinic and was told to go home and try and relax over the holiday. During the Christmas holiday my symptoms got worse. In addition to being dizzy, swollen and being flushed I began to have horrible headaches. I went to the hospital to get checked on Christmas Day and was again sent home and told to relax. My husband and I finally went into the hospital on Dec 26th, the Monday after Christmas, as I had begun to have contractions and we were only 34 weeks pregnant.  When we got to the hospital they attempted to stop the contractions but also began to explore my symptoms further as I had begun having severe abdominal pain in addition to previous symptoms.

I was eventually diagnosed with HELLP syndrome Class 1 (the most severe). I had all the signs of HELLP and they were ignored both by the clinician I saw on the Thursday before the holiday as well as the doctor who saw me on Christmas Day.  Both my husband and I were very scared when we learned that our twins were going to be joining us in a matter of minutes. I was quickly rushed to the operating room where I was placed under general anesthesia (because of my illness I could not be awake during the operation because of risks to me).

NICU baby Our girls were born at 11:44 and 11:46am on Monday, December 26th, 2005… and they were both quickly rushed into the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) because of respitory distress. They were both placed on breathing machines and given IVs.

I was unable to see my daughters until 7pm on December 27th due to the severity of my own medical condition but when I was finally taken to see them it was just amazing. At the moment you don’t think of all the wires, lines, machines and people… you only think about your baby… or in our cases babies. NICU baby

Life in the NICU is different that is for certain. Having had a NICU free preterm birth with our first daughter, this was all new to us. There was no seeing your baby when you wanted to, there was no cuddling with them in your own bed, there was no holding them when you wanted, or even showing them off to family. They were kept in small incubators and behind walls, doors and glass. It required 2 full minutes of washing up before you could even enter into the NICU to see them.

Our daughters were placed on “grow/feed” status which really truly meant they were just there to learn to eat and breathe at the same time, regulate their body temperatures and put on just a little bit of weight before they were able to come home.

We had a rough 11 days of trying to coordinate schedules of “NICU time” and making sure that we spent enough time with our older daughter who was only 2 years old at the time. I wanted to be at the NICU as much as possible so that I could establish a healthy breastfeeding relationship with my girls… I wanted to be their mom and not just a bystander.

Our NICU staff was amazing! The nurses were by far angels on earth. They would comfort me when I couldn’t get Shelby to nurse and they celebrated with us when Avery actually ate her whole feeding with neither of us wearing it. We all celebrated together as the girls moved from their incubators to isolettes (open air glass cribs).

Honestly, our girls had a relatively uneventful NICU stay (praise God), and we were only in the NICU for 11 days.  On January 6th, 2006 at 11 days old, both of us girls were able to come home. Both my husband and I sighed a huge sigh of relief to have our family at home and complete. And it has been wonderful ever since.

Grown twins
Avery and Shelby, all grown up!

As a NICU graduate Mommy, I have just a few ‘survival’ tips to share with you:

  • Trust your medical staff. They are there to support you and to care for your child(ren). They do know their jobs, and they are good at them.
  • There is no ‘planning’ in the NICU. You will not find out that you are going home until probably the day of… you may get to know the day before. It helps no one to get disappointed if you are given a date and then something happen that can change that.
  • You can still breastfeed your preemie, and you can breastfeed your preemie multiples. It will be difficult, but it can be done. I took the ‘stance’ of whatever gets them home, so my girls were allowed to have bottles of expressed breast milk while in NICU (bottle feeding is easier). It wasn’t until we got home the breastfeeding got fully established.
  • When someone asks to help… LET THEM. We know we are all super mom, but even super mom deserves a break.
  • Remember to sleep. Because trust me, once your preemie gets home you aren’t going to get any.

It is because of the wonderful help that our family received from the March of Dimes and their amazing research that we like to give back.

The March for Babies, is the biggest annual fundraiser for the March of Dimes. Walks are scheduled all over the country beginning in May and going through June. Our family has been active walkers in the March for Babies since 2006 and we are doing it again this year.  Please join us in fighting for the   babies…because babies shouldn’t have to fight.

 

2010 March For babies team
Our 2010 March for Babies team.

Thanks Kristin, for sharing your experience. My Emily was cared for in the very same NICU as Shelby and Avery, and the care she received was indeed wonderful. Though Emily was not pre-term, we shared similar experiences and Kristin was a great support for me while Emily was in the hospital.

Do you have twins, are expecting twins or know someone who is? Make sure you click on over to my “Got Twins?” page and learn more about the wonders of twindom! Lots of advice and experience from pregnancy, breast feeding and beyond!