Posts filed under ‘Our Favorite Things’

Friday Fave!

Kate and I (and Heather) are iPhone devotees. At least I am, Kate’s a more recent converter to Apple so we’ll see if she gets sucked in like Heather and I were. But we realize not everyone has an iPhone and even if you do, there are only so many apps you can use. I have loads more apps on my phone than I use on a daily – or even weekly – basis.

So we’re expanding Favorite App Friday to simply Friday Fave. Kate and I are always finding things we love or sites we want to recommend and now we’ll use Friday’s to point you to our finds.

My fave for today – my iMac. Stick with me. I know some of you are like geez, she really is a total fangirl.

Four years ago I went in search of a new computer. My laptop was dying and we needed a replacement. I did some research, set a budget of $600-$800 and took Heather along with me to the store for a second opinion. As soon as we walked into the store I was drawn to the iMac. I made Heather promise to not let me buy it. An hour later I walked out of the store the proud and very excited owner of an iMac – and I’d blown the budget significantly (even though the one I bought was a refurb so I saved some off the list price).

But it’s been so worth it! It is the best, most stable, reliable, intuitive computer I’ve ever used. In my experience with PCs they work well for about a year, work so-so the next year and then they’re nothing but trouble. Constant crashing, viruses, etc. To back up my “I’m not a total Apple fangirl” claim – I passed on the iPad (instead I bought a MacBook Air so, ha, jokes on me!).

My husband, Pat, was less than thrilled with the iMac at first. Having used a PC for years and knowing all the Control+ shortcuts, switching the Mac took some time. But the conversion is complete (at least to the computer, he’s not an iPhoner yet). His parents recently visited and during a conversation about their next computer purchase Pat raved about the Mac.

I spent around $1200 on the iMac and we’ve had it for 4 years so that’s $300 a year. If I’d spent $800 on a PC and replaced it at the two-year mark (which was my plan) that would have been $400 per year. So in the long run the iMac is cheaper and it kept one more appliance out of a landfill!

-Aly

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October 7, 2011 at 8:19 am Leave a comment

Long-distance Grandparenting

In life my daughter Nora will find that she has many advantages and opportunities due to having an American mother and a Spanish father such as having dual-citizenship and being bi-lingual.  However, one major downfall is that she doesn’t get to see her American family often which can be heartbreaking.

In her first year of life we were lucky to fly home for three extended visits which were wonderful, but it doesn’t quite make up for not being with my family on a daily basis.  So it’s important to my family and I to use other methods to keep them fresh in her mind and maintain the bonds they’ve formed in her visits with them.  Here are some ways we’re doing that:

Hallmark makes wonderful recordable story books.  Nora has three!  One from my mom, another from my dad, and one more from my aunt and uncle.  She loves them!!!  She can hear their voices on a daily (some times hourly and nonstop at that) basis and they are her favourite books to play with.

She also has two flip photo books that are baby-friendly.  My Aunt Dorothy gave one her filled with pictures from a recent visit and she plays with it often.  Sassy Look Book

My sisters, Mom and I all have Whatsapp on our iPhones and I try to send regular videos and photos and Aly does the same for me with my nephew Kevin.  It’s great to instantaneously and spontaneously share a funny little thing Nora has done or something new she has learned.

And la creme de la creme of keeping in touch with family has to be Skype.  It’s the next best thing to having your family physically with you.  We try to Skype every couple of weeks and for now it’s more exciting for my family to see Nora than Nora to see them.  She just doesn’t quite get that it’s live, but with time she’ll soon be chatting freely with them and running to show them her newest toy.  I also get to see my nephew on a regular basis and marvel at his progress.

So I’m not gonna lie to you, being an ocean away from my family and not being able to share Nora with them on a regular basis can be pretty sucky sometimes, but these methods really help and I know I’m doing my best to let Nora know how special these far away relatives are.

-Katie

October 6, 2011 at 6:18 am Leave a comment

Favorite App Friday: Fisher-Price Apps For Babies

Being the cheapo that I am, I’m always looking for good FREE apps and there are some good ones out there for kids.  I recently downloaded a Fisher-Price App, Animal Sounds,  and my daughter loves it.  It’s a simple app and the name says it all.  The only problem I’ve had so far as it gets stuck on the last set of animals but I’m not sure if that’s due to the app itself or the abuse my daughter gives my iPhone while playing with it.  They also have two other apps for babies , Where’s Puppy’s Nose? and Let’s Count Animals, that I’m looking forward to trying out.

And something fantastic is now available from Fisher-Price…a child-friendly iPhone protector case so you can actually let your toddler play with your phone without worrying about them sucking on it or dropping it.  It may be too late for my iPhone but I would definitely recommend buying this case before you even think about handing them your phone.

-Katie

September 30, 2011 at 1:31 pm Leave a comment

Favorite Apps: Top Recommended Apps

Aly asked me to write about Words with Friends since she knows I’m addicted to it.  If you don’t have it already and you like Scrabble, I would suggest downloading it (it’s free).  I play it whenever I have a few minutes to myself and I love that my opponents are friends and family living all over the world.  I do suggest turning off the instant notifications so that you’re not woken up at 4am by your cousin living half a world away who  just played the word “clunky”.

While Words with Friends is a great app, it isn’t particularly related to parenthood or children so we decided to put some links to top recommended apps for parents.  Aly and I will try some out and report back in the next couple of weeks.  And, as always, we love our readers’ opinions so please send us your personal review if you have tried any of these.  I’m excited to try out the one called Bubbles!

Best iPhone Apps For Parents

Best iPad Apps for Parents with Toddlers and Young Children

Best Apps for Parents

-Katie

Words with Friends is available for both iPhone and Android. Looks like it’s available on Facebook too. -Aly

September 16, 2011 at 1:34 am 3 comments

Favorite Apps: Pandora

Kate posted recently about the power of music and how it has an amazing ability to calm my son’s fussiness. Usually when Kevin gets fussy it means he’s about to vomit. Not some cute little baby spit-up, it’s a complete projectile vomit.

So we’ve learned the signs and whenever Kevin gets that specific type of fussy we sing. The problem is that my husband and I don’t know any songs. We’re limited to The Itsy Bitsy Spider, Happy Birthday, On Top of Spaghetti and The Cannibal King. My husband also does a rather unique version of the Alphabet Song.

With such a limited repertoire these songs get old fast. In frustration one day I remembered the Pandora app I’d downloaded a few years ago and rarely used.

I’d already created a Children’s Folk Songs station on my desktop so it was simply a matter of clicking on that station and then fine tuning the selections a bit – giving songs a Thumbs Up (please play more like this) or a Thumbs Down (Stop! You’re making my ears bleed).

It’s funny looking at the songs I’ve given a Thumbs Up – mostly songs from my childhood: Simon & Garfunkel, George Harrison, Cat Stevens, Van Morrison and then a sprinkle of newer hipster baby songs (do you know how many versions there are of “Three is the Magic Number”?).

Changes you make on your iPhone are reflected whenever you log onto the site. There’s also a way to share stations with friends – so that my parents and sisters can play the same station for Kevin whenever they’re babysitting him. If you’re interested in listening to my Children’s Folk Songs station just
drop me an email
.

The best part – this is totally free (of course there is the occasional ad but they are fleeting) and the app is available for pretty much every operating system – Android, iPhone, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, etc.

Pandora’s a great app and I’m hoping soon we’ll have expanded our musical knowledge base to the point where we can retire the Alphabet Song and save Happy Birthday for, well, birthdays.

-Aly

September 9, 2011 at 7:15 am 2 comments

We’re Back & Tipsy!

Thanks for bearing with us while we took last week off. We’re back and raring to go!

Since it’s Tuesday, we’re Tipsy!

Washing baby clothes is a never-ending task – babies are little laundry making machines. I love doing laundry and before baby I was very strict about sorting and laundering clothes just “so”. Post baby, I’m all about getting it done. Towels get laundered with non-towels and (yikes) whites get laundered with mixed colors and even darks.

After a few weeks of washing clothes without sorting I realized I was quickly heading towards a sea of gray “whites” and a pile of muddy looking clothes. And then I remembered this post and hurried out to my beloved Happy Harry’s to snag a few boxes of Shout Color Catchers (and bonus – they were on sale 2 for 1).

I’ve been using them since June and they really work! I do sort the whites – at least for the adults in our household but everything else still goes into the same load.

Here’s a picture of laundry I did on Monday with the before Color Catcher on the left and the after on the right. As you can see it was a pretty colorful load of all new clothes but the colors survived nice and crisp.

When I was googling for this article I found this link to a Free Color Catcher sample so give them a try.

And as always, we are not paid or perked for anything on this site!

-Aly

September 6, 2011 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

Tipsy Tuesday: Buy Second-hand

When I was pregnant I turned my nose up at second-hand items for my daughter.  We were offered many things which I declined or begrudgingly took.  And one year later I realize that I AM AN IDIOT!  I would have saved a lot of money if I had bought more items second-hand or used/taken more of the things that were offered to us.

So my tip this week is to embrace the world of used baby items.  From play centers to strollers to pajamas it’s all out there and it’s worth buying.  Look for a second-hand children’s shop in your area or online.  Shop ebay for bigger items which is where we bought our daughter’s Quinny stroller used and have had no complaints.  And if your family or friends offer you items TAKE THEM! even if you think you won’t use them you might surprise yourself and you can always donate them later if you don’t.

-Katie

August 23, 2011 at 8:00 am 1 comment

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