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July 13, 2007

Noah's Pals™

Today is Three Kid Circus Auditions' stop on the Parent Bloggers Network tour for Caboodle! Toys' wonderful new collection: Noah's Pals™. The kind folks over at Caboodle! Toys sent over not one, not two, but SIX pairs of animals, plus Noah, for my children to test out. The second I opened the box, I was impressed.

Now, we're pretty much connoisseurs when it comes to the plastic animal market. We have entire herds of animals over here, allowing my kids to create reenactments of massive migrations from one end of the living room to the other. So all of us were taken with the beautiful and detailed work on these animals.

giraffe
These hand-painted pairs of animals (Sold together! More on that in a minute!) are apparently built to a 1:24 scale. The eyelashes on the giraffes are just wonderful. Little details really make this a magical collection. Each pair is also packaged with a cool trackable ID card, that gives facts about the animal, and allows the collector to register his pairs. Caboodle! offers a special reward to loyal collectors - register all 40 pairs of Pals in the collection, and they will send a box full of exclusive rewards.

Noah.jpg
We're not a religious family, so it cracked me up when Noah came out of his box, and my kids all said "Evan Almighty!" Heh. We watch too much TV, methinks.

The little doves are tiny - small enough to be popped into a mouth. The larger animals would be fine for very young children. My kids think these are the coolest animals...we've been big fans of the Schleiss animals for years, but at a cost of $10 or more for their large animals, most of whom lack the detail and clever modeling of Noah's Pals, these wonderful pairs are a great deal, especially for moms like me whose kids want to have "a family" of every variety. I will say that Noah's Pals seem a bit more fragile, because they are constructed in pieces instead a solid mold, but if my children haven't managed to behead any of them, I think it is safe to say that they are perfectly durable.

The whole collection is available over at Amazon.com - you can get the entire collection for a specially discounted price of $269 (a savings of $30) through July 20th. Amazon also allows you to purchase individual pairs.

For more information on the collection, and the company behind it, visit www.noahspals.com. If you'd like to see what other play-testers had to say, check out the reviews over at the Parent Bloggers Network.

May 21, 2007

Mother Talk Blog Tour - Mamasource.com

Today on Three Kid Circus Auditions, I'm trying out a great new site for moms - Mamasource.com. When the hot mamas over at Mother-Talk were putting together this blog tour, I jumped at it. I've checked out a lot of community sites for mothers over the years, so I was eager to see if Mamasource.com had something new to offer.

From the "About Mamasource" page:

Mamasource is a safe and easy way to connect with other moms in your local area. Find the advice, referrals and insight you need, in a supportive community of moms helping moms. As a Mamasource member, you can:

Ask other local moms any question you need help with.

Read the questions other moms have asked- and see what answers they have received.

Share your own advice and practical referrals with other moms who need your help.

Mamasource is a free service, but to protect our members we are an invitation-only community. We have a strict no-spam policy and your personal information will never be shared with advertisers.

Well, that's refreshing. So many of the other mom-communities exist to sell advertising dollars or promote products from the sponsors to the highly desireable mom demographic. And while there's nothing wrong with that approach, it is cool to see a site that is not riddled with ads and flair.

I like the local focus, too. Mamasource.com allows users to review local services and recommend everything from hair stylists to restaurants. Personal recommendations on great businesses are always helpful, and when you have kids, hearing it from another mom has extra clout.

I also really love the "a little about me" footer that is inserted after any request. This is a snippet from your profile that can be customized with each post you make. So, you could be asking for advice on great travel tips, and in your "a little about me" footer, you could mention the ages of your children and your frequency of travel, so that you are more likely to get appropriate suggestions. As a long-time discussion board user, I think this handy feature will cut down on "ass-vice" that can result from commenters who don't know the whole story.

Mamasource.com makes finding peer advice easy and supportive. Even their great FAQ page gives 'insider' tips on netiquette to help new users feel like old pros - because let's face it, at one time of another, we've all stumbled across a discussion board or blog where it is all caps, all the time, or full of abbreviations that defy logic. These simple suggestions will take the mystery out of it, and keep everyone happy.

Mamasource.com is still fairly new - my local area includes moms from all over California, for example. I'm sure as the member roster grows, the regional focus will be enhanced. I'm looking forward to seeing this community flourish. Take some time and check Mamasource.com out!

Want to hear what other bloggers have to say? Check out Mother-Talk's reviews.

April 25, 2007

Let's Get Ready for 1st Grade

Today is Three Kid Circus Auditions' stop on The Parent Bloggers Network review-tour for the awesome, award-winning Let's Get Ready for... titles produced by Cedar Valley Publishing. Let me just start off by saying that I wish I had requested both titles, because these books are fan-freaking-tastic. Since I was sent the 1st Grade version, my review will focus on that title alone.

Packed into this lightweight volume is literally all the required curriculum that your kids will be expected to master in 1st grade. Think I'm kidding? I showed this book to my son's 1st grade teacher, and she couldn't spot a single concept from the standardized curriculum that was missing from this book. And my son, who is in the final month of 1st grade, also recognized these concepts as things he covered in class this year.

The information is organzied into kid-friendly pages full of colorful illustrations and large text. Each concept has its own page, perfect for introducing or reviewing. Unlike many of the popular worksheet books available, this book is something that even my four-year-old was happy to sit down and flip through the pages. There is no pressure here, only solid information that I believe would be beneficial to every parent and student to have at their fingertips before the school year even begins.

Academic requirements are so much more intense than they were when we were kids. Take the mystery out of wondering what your child should know, and pick up a copy of Let's Get Ready for">Let's Get Ready for 1st Grade (or Kindergarten) today.

To see what the rest of the Parent Bloggers Network Reviewers had to say - check it out here.

April 5, 2007

BrainQuest DVD Game

Today is TKC Auditions stop on the Parent Bloggers Network tour for Brighter Minds Media's new Brain Quest DVD game.

When I first accepted this product for review, I thought it would be a computer game. Which is cool, because my kids are starting to really enjoy using the computer. When I received it, I realized that this is actually a DVD that plays on the television, using the remote as the controller. This thrilled me to no end, because as a blogging mom, it can be really annoying to jockey for time on the computer with your offspring.

I grabbed the kids and settled my six-year-old and eight-year-old on the couch with the remote. After a round of rock - paper - scissors to determine control of the remote, I fired up the disk. Within moments, the kids had figured out the controls and were wizzing along through the questions.

We found this game had the perfect balance of easier questions and tougher subjects - they were challenged but not frustrated. I especially appreciated the lack of dramatic sound effects when a child failed to answer correctly. I wandered away to assist my youngest with a project, but stayed in earshot of the game in progress. My kids were working as a team, high-fiving and occasionally reasoning out answers before selecting an on-screen choice. They played for 45 minutes, with nary a fight. Somebody call Guinness - I think we have a new record.

Best of all, the kids have been regurgitating factoids, and quizzing each other and their friends. Brain Quest certainly sparked their interest and has encouraged them to learn more. The accompanying little flip book Q&A has been a lot of fun in the car, with the kids taking turns.

This is a really wonderful product - the kids love it, it is easy to use, and perfectly geared for ages 6-8. I highly recommend this game.

For more reviews, check out my fellow reviewers over at The Parent Bloggers Network. To purchase Brain Quest, visit Brighter Minds Media, or click here.


January 31, 2007

Athletic Baby DVDs - Soccer!

I'm pleased to be part of The Parent Bloggers Network's blog tour for the latest offering from Athletic Baby DVD - Soccer!

I watched this charming DVD with my four-year-old. She's a little too old to appreciate this DVD, but I confess that I enjoyed it quite a bit. This is not a "how to play soccer" movie. Rather, it is a sensory experience that would have had all three of my children cooing and mesmerized when they were young toddlers. The soundtrack is wonderful, and the variety of images - from babies with soccer balls all the way up to teenagers running drills at soccer camp - really adds interest. There is no emphasis placed on methods or correct game play. The focus is on playing and exploration.

For a family with older siblings or parents that are soccer fans, this is a very gentle and subtle introduction to the game. However, I believe this would be a favorite DVD for just about any baby, regardless of their interest in sports.

Athletic Baby has a fine assortment of DVDs for babies as young as 3 months. Go check them out!

January 11, 2007

A Groove Thang

Baby Loves Disco is my kind of party. It has been well-documented that I spend hours shaking my boo-tay with the kids. Those living room dance parties rock the house, literally, since we're apparently missing a foundation support. There have been plenty of times I've been whirling around with a kid or two in my arms, or underfoot, or standing on the couch shaking their little butt in time to the beat, and I've thought that the only thing we needed was disco lighting.

Well, that and more bass. And drink service.

Enter the fine folks behind Baby Loves Disco. Get this: they throw open the doors to awesome clubs, feature some amazing DJs and provide the answer to my disco lighting and more bass and drink service demands. People, the last time I was inside a fancy club was like... okay. It's been years. Let's not dwell. The odds of me hitting one of these amazing clubs and dancing into the wee hours are nil. This mama loves to dance, however, and having the chance to drop a little "Ooh, I was at Ruby Skye last Saturday..." would be awesome. I don't have to let on that it was from 2 to 5 pm. Besides, sharing the experience with my wild dancing maniac children in a family friendly, child-proofed space would be even better. I can't wait.

Get yourself over to their website, and then get your friends on board. Baby Loves Disco is spreading like wildfire across the country - if there isn't one in your area yet, make some noise!

SF Bay Area Parents - let's do this thing. I've got my eyes on February and March...