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Archive for the ‘review’ Category

For my husband’s academy graduation I rented the beautiful Canon 135L lens to capture the special occasion. I took tons of photos, maybe around a hundred. I can’t tell you the exact amount because I lost all of them after my daughter knocked over my laptop of seven years, and it was not worth the price of repair. Then what do you know, the external hard drive I used as a backup crashed the same week.

The only photos from that event I have are web-sized versions I happened to send to my mother-in-law. Thankfully she hounded me for pictures or I wouldn’t even have those. Pictures from that event and a period of my daughter’s life are all gone, forever.

I’m generally not an obsessive-compulsive person, but that terrible experience triggered this fixation with backing up photos. I spent so much time researching multiple ways, to back up my photos. ALL of my photos. Including images from my iPhone, our iPads and most of all, my camera.

Last year I shared with you a way to backup and print all of your iPhone (and Android) photos for next to nothing. This time I’m going to share the ways I archive and my opinion of the best ways to backup photos and videos (you know how I love my videos!) so that you nor I will ever lose another cherished captured moment again.

Never lose your precious photos again! Here are three ways you need to be backing up your photos and videos. The easiest and best ways to save your memories.First let me explain why it’s SO important to organize your photos. It’s one thing to have a million photos backed up, but it’s an entirely different issue when there’s no rhyme or reason to how you have them saved. I could dedicate an entire post to this but let me just briefly explain how I organize mine.

Any time I import new photos I make a new folder with the event. That folder is saved inside a folder for events for that month, which a subfolder of the current year folder. For example I’d import Lil’ J’s ballet recital pictures which would be in Pictures à 2014 Pictures à August 2014 à Lil’ J’s Ballet Recital.

Then each picture in that folder is titled “Lil’ J’s Ballet Recital01, …02, ..03 etc. It makes it much easier when looking for specific images. Especially when you can’t remember the name of the event but have a general idea for when you took the photos. As I back my images up, I keep them organized the same way as often as possible.

Now here are some of the best ways to back up your photos.

The Cloud

I am a huge fan of web backups, especially if they can be automated. Like I explained here, I have all of my iPhone photos automatically backup to Google Plus in a private album (you don’t even need the app to be open for them to upload), then I print out the month’s worth of photos using Groovebook for $2.99 (free shipping). You can also upload images from your computer to Google Plus but I haven’t been doing this unless it’s a super important event I want to save because of the amount of images I take. Storing images and whatnot on Google Plus is free up to 15GB then you have to pay for more space.

Never lose another precious memory: 3 Best ways to backup photos and videos. This post will give you all the tips you need. Another option for backing up large photos from your computer is using Flickr. Flicker is awesome for storing your photos and videos because you get a full TB of storage for free. Even I can’t imagine filling that up. However videos have a time limit of 3 minutes, so keep that in mind with your uploads. I haven’t been using their mobile app to backup my photos because my app had to be open in order for it to update, and I aint got time for that. But I love using it to back up my large photos from my computer. I try to log in once a month and upload my photo event folders for the month. Most of those albums I keep private, or select which photos I want to show publicly.

External Hard Drive

This is an obvious necessary backup. You never know when the Internet may fail you, so back up your stuff to another hard copy you can keep your hands on. I have a few Western Digital drives that I use to backup my entire Macbook Pro and iMac. I even connect it to my wireless router so it can backup both of my computers wirelessly and have less of an issue with plugging and unplugging it in, or it getting knocked off my lap when using my laptop (which I think is one of the reasons my previous one failed). I have two 500GB drives and a TB drive. Believe it or not my TB drive is full already because I was backing both of my computers up to it. I’ll probably do them each on separate drives from now on to conserve space, or upgrade to a 2TB drive. My plan is to keep one in my fireproof safe and update it every month in case of a fire (is my OCD showing again?).

LyveHomeNever lose another precious memory: 3 Best ways to backup photos and videos. This post will give you all the tips you need.

This device is my latest backup endeavor and it’s the perfect addition to the methods I already have in place. In fact, if I had this first, I’d be tempted to skip my other two means all together.

The LyveHome is a wireless photo and video manager. It works in conjunction with the Lyve App that I have downloaded on my iPad mini, my iPhone and my iMac. So every time I take a photo on my phone, or upload a photo to my computer, it automatically pulls it over to the LyveHome and stores it as a backup. It has 2TB of storage so until I reach about a million photos, or an insane amount of videos, I won’t run out of space. (So far I’ve imported 14,038 photos and 617 videos and I’ve only used 4% of my storage). I love my external hard drives to backup EVERYTHING(all of my programs, documents, files, etc) but it’s nice to have a device specifically for our memories.

Never lose another precious memory: 3 Best ways to backup photos and videos. This post will give you all the tips you need. My favorite aspect is seeing photos I take on my iPhone now automatically sent to my computer. My iCloud account has long since been full, so I had to manually sync my phone (which I rarely did) or search my Google Plus backup to find a pic I wanted to edit. Or just email it to myself. ANNOYING.

I can also view all of the images from my computer on my iPad or iPhone. When you reach storage capacity on your phone and get that dreaded warning, you can delete your photos and videos from your iphone library without worrying because you’ll have an extra copy already on your LyveHome and stored in your LyveApp. This also comes in handy when I want to show off a photo I took on my DSLR that I haven’t uploaded online yet. I can access the photos from my computer while I’m out.

Another little bonus is the cute clock it adds to my desk, and the fact that it scrolls through all of my old photos so I can feel a bit of nostalgia while I work.

Never lose another precious memory: 3 Best ways to backup photos and videos. This post will give you all the tips you need.

Here are a few things worth noting:

-Although it has a touchscreen, you can’t watch videos or delete photos/videos by toughing the LyveHome device, but you can through the app on any of your other devices. I was a little confused by this at first. You control it from the app, not the cube itself.

– It doesn’t import photos shot in RAW format. So if you are like me and don’t shoot in JPEG or RAW+JPEG, you’ll have to convert your images before they’ll be added to LyveHome. This will probably motivate me to hurry and edit all of the images I love so they’ll immediately be backed up in an additional spot, instead of just saving them to edit later.

-It scrolls through all the images, and right now the only way to “hide” them from being displayed on the LyveHome cube is by deleting the photo from your LyveApp. So those boudoir photos I wanted to save for myself but maybe not have my friends from church see when they come over… Umm, I’ll probably just stick to my alternate backup methods.

Never lose another precious memory: 3 Best ways to backup photos and videos. This post will give you all the tips you need.

Overall, I love it for automatically syncing photos as I take them, and for peace of mind. I wish I had this back when my computer and hard drive crashed. It could have saved me a lot of heartache.

One of these will run you about $299. You can learn more by visiting their website.



Never lose another precious memory: 3 Best ways to backup photos and videos. This post will give you all the tips you need.

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed reading about the best ways to backup your photos. Now here’s the fun part. I LOVE sharing ways to document and preserve your family legacy and you know I love feeling like Oprah. Lyve sent me an extra device to give away to one of my readers. To enter the giveaway just check out the video about LyveHome and let me know what you thought, and what memories you’re most excited to backup and why by leaving a comment. You have until August 28th EXTENDED TO SEPTEMBER 2ND to enter. I’ll randomly draw the winner using random.org. Entrants must be at least 18 years old and live in the United States. Good luck my friends!

*I’d like to give a huge thanks to Lyve for allowing me to review their product and give one away to one of my fabulous readers. I was sent the device to try for free, and compensated to include an honest review in my post. All opinions expressed are mine, ALL MINE!

Never lose another precious memory: 3 Best ways to backup photos and videos. This post will give you all the tips you need. Never lose another precious memory: 3 Best ways to backup photos and videos. This post will give you all the tips you need. Winner Alert: Lucky #13: Trenton Robertson. If the winner fails to claim their prize an alternate will be chosen at random.

Never lose another precious memory: 3 Best ways to backup photos and videos. This post will give you all the tips you need.

I blame my hatred for cleaning on my parents. I’m pretty sure from the moment I was old enough to hold a washcloth they put me to work. Laundry, sweeping, mopping, bathroom duty you name it. I felt like Cinderella. But instead of having evil stepsisters laughing at me, my sisters were alongside me doing a crappy job, which left more work for me and–Well, you get the idea. Anyway…

My parents probably thought it was some kind of character-building technique, but I just thought it was torture.

“They only had us so we can be their slaves and clean the house!”

“Yea!”

My sister and I were pretty dramatic.

So basically I feel like I paid my dues from the age of 6-17, and for the next 10 years I’ve thought of ways to make cleaning less miserable. From marrying a recovering neat-freak, to hiring help, and researching cleaning robots.

The robot fascination started one day when I was working on a story about a robot that may eventually be able to detect early signs of autism in children. I had just finished interviewing the inventor about this really cool device when my photographer told me how he has a robot.

“It vacuums my floors,” he told me.

“Do you have a Roomba?!” I was excited to talk to someone who actually had one. I’ve been salivating over these things forever, and the reviews were great, but are they really all they’re chalked up to be?

“It’s awesome, we come home every day to freshly vacuumed floors.” SOLD! He had me at ‘It’s awesome.’ I proceeded to ask him a gazillion questions about it, and tell my husband I wanted one, but he said to wait until we moved, and we’d see. Our vacuum was on the fritz anyway, and we’re in the market for something new. I’ve heard great things about Dysons… Rolling around on a ball and all. People tell me you barely have to push them. But here’s the thing… When it comes to vacuuming all I want to push is a button.

I got something very similar to try out. It’s a Braava 380t, Roomba’s little cousin. It’s a robotic mop… Think of a Swiffer on wheels running around by itself. Ya, it’s pretty cool.

I named him Bob. And he’s basically my Prince Charming. I told you when I got him I’d give you my honest opinion and here it is… (Beware, the following photos are pretty nasty, yet exciting).

Braava-380t robotic floor mopA good kind of gross.

We still have quite a few boxes everywhere but I tried it out anyway to see what it could do. Once Bob was done charging I set up the GPS cube in my kitchen and let him do his thing. My kids and dog were quite amused, as was I.

I didn’t think he would pick up much dirt cause we just moved in to brand new clean tile floors, but boy was I wrong. Bob picked up dog hair and dust like nobody’s business. We’d only been in a day!

I don’t dust, but now I can totally be one of those people who does. Braava-380t

So Bob isn’t so good at picking up big things like pretzel chunks or rocks (hey, it happens). But anything a Swiffer can do, he can do better—Reaching under my couch and spots I’d never sweep myself. Perfect for routine cleaning and dusting that I’m usually too lazy to do. We made a mess moving into our laundry room, leaving a ton of debris. Bob sucked a lot of it up, but the solid concrete-like stuff didn’t stick to his cleaning cloth. Luckily I don’t see a lot of concret debris in my kitchen floor’s future.

A bonus is it’s also great kid entertainment just push the button, walk away, and my kids are entertained without me for the next 30 minutes or so. Poor Snoop was scared though. He’s no where to be seen in this video.

Here’s a very non-fancy blurry iphone video of him in action alongside my thoroughly amused children.


Just like you’d want to do a quick rinse before putting your dishes in the dishwasher, you’ll want to pick up big things off your floor before getting this thing going. You can use it in wet mop mode, or dry sweep mode, using either the reusable clothes it comes with, or disposable Swiffer cloths.

My absolute favorite part about Bob is the fact that once a day, he quietly takes care of Snoop’s dog hair on my tile. He has no problem running from room to room, aside from occasionally getting confused under one of my couches. But I just give him a little nudge after I hear his call for help and he gets going again. Snoop is getting a lot more love from me these days now that his hair isn’t a constant annoyance.

Braava-380tYucky yay!

I’m ok staying on top of messy dry concrete and cereal spills and Bob can take care of the rest. Now my only question is do I still get the Roomba to vacuum my carpet and everything else? I’m thinking probably yes.

Moral of this story? Don’t get a dog. Or if you already have one, get a Bob, er, a Prince Charming… I mean a Braava.

Questions about my new BFF? Shoot!

And for more information about this little robot and others, check out iRobot. Technically, they sponsored the review, but my love for Bob is pure and priceless.

Jun
26
2013

We’re moving!


*The giveaway after this awesome good news is sponsored by Carter’s. See below for additional disclosures.

I’ve been reluctant to blurt this from the rooftops because I’m afraid to jinx it, but it’s finally starting to sink in so here I go… We’re moving!

Not far, just to the burbs. We’ve been thinking and praying about where to move a long time. I’d say years even. We found the perfect place last month, put money down, and we’re officially under contract. The builders are scheduled to break ground this Friday.

It’s a one story right on the edge of a culd-a-sac, four bedrooms, two bathrooms, two living rooms, and two dining rooms. It truly is my (realistic) dream house. Needless to say my Pinterest boards are off the chain. We set an appointment for four-hours worth of design decisions and were done in two. I agonized over making the right choices the weeks leading up to the appointment, but during, I choose colors in a split second, and spit out my answers like a confident Jeopardy champ. I really hope I’m still happy with it once it all comes together. This is totally new for me. We own a condo too, but it was already built when we bought it, so picking out the insides and waiting for it to come together is whole different ballgame.
Lot sold

I snapped this photo the day after we bought our lot when I drove by to see the SOLD sign. I don’t have a natural eye for decorations but I do know I’m going to fill this new place with TONS of photographs.

And see that cute little number my little guy is wearing? I made that! Link to the cute tutorial is in my sidebar (to the right)! It’s made from a Carter’s bodysuit. For my daughter, most of her clothes are from boutiques. But for my son, for his first wardrobe, I love layering cute things from Carter’s. They have the most adorable layette collections that can be layered and miss-matched for different looks. I get a lot of cute out of date stuff at my local consignment store, and the new baby clothes in their store or online.

carters-happy-baby

I personally love the bright colors of the Little Speedster collection. And my grandmother sent us pieces of one of their elephant collections as well. The “Elephant Friends” collection features shades of blue and elephants.

Another nice thing about our new place is we’ll have WAY more closet space. And since Big T’s wardrobe is already close to rivaling his sisters (definitely ahead of what hers was at his age) we’ll need all the space we can get for my stylish duo.

Lucky me, Carter’s sent me a gift card and to try some of their new collection and is sponsoring a $50 Carter’s gift card giveaway with you, that you will be free to use at your local store! So let’s celebrate our good news with a giveaway! It’s not a house but hey, it’s still awesome.

Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, make sure you “like” Carter’s on Facebook and follow Carter’s on Twitter to discover the latest great deals, exclusive events and offers for your little ones! There they’re also having a Carter’s Precious Gift Sweepstakes until July 8th. 16 winners will get a customized Gift Basket of new Little Layette product valued at $300. You can enter here or here if you’re using your mobile device.

little speedsterDisclosure: Carter’s partnered with bloggers such as me to help promote Little Layette. As part of the program, I received product or gift cards. Carter’s believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words, and therefore did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about the products I used. Carter’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations. The winner of any giveaway in this program will be randomly chosen and gift card fulfillment will be handled by a third party.

I had all these plans for maternity leave. Plans to go to my first Austin farmers market. Plans to take my daughter to swimming lessons. Plans to take a mini vacation to a nearby town. None of these things happened. I only have a week and a day left, and I have no idea where the time went. Most days were spent hanging out at home, a neighborhood park, or meeting up with friends. Most evenings were spent cuddling with my babies as they drifted off to sleep. Then of course my nights were spent watching TV show marathons on Netflix.

I had plans to reorganize my daughter’s closet, revamp my websites, and complete a multi-backup system for all of my digital photos. I’m only beginning to make a dent in all of these goals. Instead, I’ve spent much of my time making up stories with my daughter, and getting acquainted with my sweet baby boy.

I’d hoped I’d be some kind of master chef by now. Instead I’ve discovered I love to bake, and I’m still not very fond of cooking.

I thought I’d be able to keep a cleaner house since I’d be home more to clean it. But I’ve learned being home more just means there’s more of a mess to clean up. Cleaning then leaving the house is the trick.

I thought I’d still enjoy quality time more than quantity, and now I’m not so sure.

I hoped I’d be able to knock out at least a hundred Pinterest projects but I think I’ve done two.

Maternity leave is about recovery, and getting to know my new baby, but I’ve spent just as much time growing even closer to my daughter.

One thing I’ve learned during this experience is sometimes simple is better. After work I’d try to make up for lost time by planning fun activities and projects for us to do. Now, coloring a picture together, practicing writing our ABCs, or making up stories can be as fun as anything.

Lately my daughter asks me to make up stories about herself as a princess. The first one I told was a rendition of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Since then, she’s enjoyed telling the story herself to family and friends.

Last week we were sent an HP ENVY X2 and an HP ENVY 120 e-all-in-one printer to try out and review, courtesy of HP. We were encouraged to make a craft or project together, so I thought it would be fun to draw out her story and print it for her to have.

I could tell you all about it, but instead I made a video of the experience, complete with silly outtakes at the end.


The video was probably just as fun to make with her as the story book (in case you’re wondering… Little boy was attached to me during most of the shoot, but quiet and asleep for most of the filming).

I’ve been thinking a lot about quality vs quantity time. I don’t feel like I see my daughter any more than I do when I’m working, but reality is I’m with her nine more hour a day five days a week. That’s insane. And you’d think she’d be tiring of me by now, but she’s attached more than ever, and always reluctant to go anywhere with her daddy when I’m not going too. She’s my little buddy, my tiny friend.

My maternity leave hasn’t been all it was cracked up to be. It’s been better.

Twelve weeks just isn’t enough. I’m just now getting the hang of things–into a routine, and now I’m going to change it all up again. Great.

Like our video? I’ll be giving you more details about the HP products in an upcoming post. I’ll also be doing a giveaway for the laptop/tablet, printer and a $50 Snapfish gift card.

I did this video review while participating in a program on behalf of HP and received an HP ENVY x2, and HP ENVY 120 All-in-One Printer, and a Snapfish Giftcard as a part of my participation.

I’m not a style blogger by any means, but I am a practical woman who happens to have just had a baby five weeks ago. I’m dying to get back into my pre-baby clothes, if for no other reason than I don’t want to have to buy new sizes in everything.

A little over a month ago I was contacted by BLANQI to do a review on their new, more affordable line coming to Target stores. It’s called Bumped by BLANQI. The line features maternity and postpartum tanks that support your belly, or slim the post-baby curves.

I wasn’t brave enough to put on a sports bra and leggings and dance around for a photo demo, but I found a lovely model to do it for me.

I was brave enough to put on normal clothes and put a little make up on.

I have other maternity/postpartum tanks and honestly, I can’t get enough of them. So I was excited to try this one out and tell you about it. First, to explain what I think of it I’m going to compare it to other types of shirts I have with similar results in mind:

-I have a maternity/postpartum tank that stretches long to cover up zippers that may or may not be buttoned/zipped.

-I have belly bands that do the same thing, and maybe a bit of belly slimming, but they aren’t tank tops that go all the way up the back.

-I have nursing tanks that unsnap when I’m feeding my baby, but they aren’t real long or stretchy.

Capri jeans: Old Navy; Necklace: Banana Republic; Cami: c/o Bumped by BLANQI

The Bumped by BLANQI cami is sort of like the best of all of these. The cami swoops down below the bust line, (“low ridin”)so there’s no need to unsnap both your cami and your nursing bra. It’s long and stretchy, so even though I appear to be fitting in my pre-pregnancy size 4s, no one knows they aren’t actually buttoned or zipped. … Well, now you do.

The cami also helps me “suck it in” for pictures, without actually having to suck it in, in a good way. I mean, it’s slimming, but not restricting. It’s also very breathable, and it has a nice stay-dry design.

Big T’s Romper: Baby GAP (via consignment); Lime onesie: Baby GAP (via consignment)

Overall it’s really comfortable, and I honestly wear it almost every day. In fact, I am ordering another one in black. For just $34.99 it’s worth it for a new wardrobe staple. And since I’ll be nursing my little guy for at least a year (maybe two) it’ll come in handy when we’re out and about.

I recorded a video so you can see how it works. Big T told be he wanted to be in it but then he fell asleep right before we hit record (I didn’t bore him to death I swear). I haven’t done a video review in a long time so I was a bit rusty, my husband was uninterested, and I still haven’t managed my postpartum blog/life balance during daylight hours. All that is to say… Don’t judge.


The only criticism I have, which comes with a lot of tops made of this material, is sometimes it rolls up and doesn’t stay stretched out flat, depending what I’m wearing. It’s pretty flawless with jeans, but sometimes with yoga pants or workout clothes it’ll roll up. Still, not bad enough to keep me from buying another.

BLANQI makes two types of camis:

Both camis come in either ivory or black.

And now here’s your chance to win:

I’m giving away a BUMPED by BLANQI maternity or postpartum nursing/smoothing cami in black or ivory (your choice!), and a $25.00 Target gift card to one lucky reader. All you have to do is enter in the Rafflecopter below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Big thanks to BLANQI for sending me a cami to try out and for sponsoring this giveaway. Opinions are all mine.

I hate fumbling through my wallet with Lil’ J in tow, trying to find my credit cards, coupons, etc. So when I was approached by AT&T to review the mobil wallet–Isis. I was intrigued.

The first thought that came to mind when I was learning about it was “is it secure?” They assure me it is, with an additional passcode to access the app, and easy account freezing if my phone were to get lost or stolen (just one phone call).

I’ve had my wallet stolen more times than my phone, so it’s actually less scary to think of them being together that way.

Unfortunately it doesn’t work on the iPhone just yet, so I’m trying out the app on a Samsung Galaxy SIII. They got me all set up at the AT&T store but then I failed as I tried it myself.

The app lists stores it works at. Funny enough, the two cities it’s available in are Salt Late City (where we often visit, and moved from) and our current town of Austin.

The directory lists stores like Finish Line, Jamba Juice (yum!), Dillard’s, JP Penny’s, Champs Sports, Whole Foods, and more. It also lists coupons you can redeem at those places. One that stuck out to me was Coke vending machines. You can get a free drink! Why not? I saw one that accepts Isis at the mall but I couldn’t get it to work.

20121204-004719.jpg


I tried and tried but nothing happened. Meanwhile Lil’ J is yelling “my drink, my drink!!” and pointing to the machine, while it didn’t work. Our Fanzz store, while on the list of stores, didn’t have a way to pay using the device. Then, after the vending machine incident I was too afraid to make a large purchase and it not work. So we left the mall, my husband a bit disappointed that he didn’t get any athletic wear, and I got the number for Isis support.

Luckily they’re there 24/7 and a nice man helped me figure out what I was doing wrong. I was holding my phone perpendicular to the payment pad when the phone should have been flat against it.

20121204-005215.jpg

20121204-005240.jpg


We tried again at the University Co-Op and it worked! While I’m not a huge Longhorns fan just yet, I did get a cute ornament for our Christmas tree, and my husband got the sports attire of his dreams (this was his reward for not vocally complaining during our family Christmas photo session).

Things I like about ISIS so far:

1. It’s easy and convenient. I always have my phone on me, and so long as it’s got battery power, it would be cool to just skip credit cards from now on.

2. The deals and coupons are easy to access. I know there are coupon apps and coupons in the paper but I don’t have time to seek everything out. It’s nice that I can see “buy one Jamba Juice, get one free” in the same screen I’m using to pay for my fruit smoothie.

3. Their customer support is top notch. I told the guy I was chatting with I’d call him back if it didn’t work and he called ME back later that day to make sure I got it worked out. I can’t say a company has ever done that for me before. I love that they’re always available too.

4. You can use a pre-loadable card (which is what I’m using on it) instead of your own credit cards, if you’re worried about security. You can re-load it with MoneyPaks or Paypal.

Things I think ISIS could improve on:

1. Locations it’s available. I know the app is still fairly new so this is bound to come, but I’d love to see it in stores like HEB, Walmart, restaurants. Basically all the places I like to shop. You know those little wireless payment things you can wave your credit card in front of? That’s what Isis uses, so I assume it would be an easy upgrade for many of these places.

2. How to use it isn’t exactly intuitive… At least not to me. You enable the app, then you can pay, simple as that, but I felt like there should be another button/step in the process. haha. Not that they need to make it more complicated. Where I was screwing it up was how I was holding it, maybe if there was a photo of how to position the phone, and a reminder to hold it until it beeps–it would have been easier. Of course, now that I’ve figured it out, it won’t be a problem for me anymore. It’s like riding a bike.

3. Get it on the iPhone! I think this could be in the works, and I sure hope so because while I love the app, I have a love affair with iOS and Droid does not like me.

Overall, I’m really liking Isis. I’ve still got a little bit of money on my pre-loaded card so I want to take Lil’ J to Book People and find some fun Christmas and big sister books to bring home. I also want to go back and challenge the vending machine. I’ll let you know how it goes!

*AT&T provided me with a phone Isis works on and MoneyPak card. Opinions expressed are my own.

My Mom tells me stories of when I was a little girl. Apparently I talked her–and anyone else who came near’s–ears off.

It’s not too hard to believe. To this day I’ll strike up conversations with complete strangers, and my poor husband constantly hears my most frequent question: “Are you listening to me?”

Of course this answer is always yes, and I always proceed to have him prove it by reciting the last thing I said. Most of the time is close enough.

My daughter is no different. Even in her near 19 months of age, she’s always babbling and telling us what she thinks. She’s not much of a loner. At all. She likes being around other people, and us, and getting out of the house.

When we walk into stores she’ll wave to passerbys and give a resounding “HI!” People smile and say hi back.

A lesson of “stranger danger” will have to come much earlier than normal with my friendly child.

In some ways I wonder if she is going to love talking even more than I do.

My mom tells me when I was young, and wouldn’t go to sleep, she’d put me in my car seat and drive around town until I did. To this day, I can still barely stay awake in a car. If Lil’ J is quiet in the back (and I’m not driving) I’m out.

My daughter on the other hand, is not this way. She rarely falls asleep in the car unless it’s really late, or she is just extra pooped from a really long day. Otherwise, she’s up talking my ear off and begging for entertainment.

I don’t know if this is normal for kids her age, but she can’t just sit and ride in silence. I mean, she did have a few months in there somewhere where she seemed to, but now she either needs to have a snack, a toy, or me singing her favorite songs.

Depending how far our trip is, the snacks usually run out, the toys fall, and I’m belting “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” as we are pulling into our neighborhood while I watch her do the hand motions from my rear-view mirror.

The funny thing is, no matter how much she seems to be ticked at me for making her ride strapped down in coach, she never wants to get out right away when we get home.

“Come on baby, let’s go inside”
“No,” This is her new favorite word. Though I don’t totally hate it yet because the way she says it with her country twang accent and drawn out “O” it sounds more like a question. “No?”

I unsnap her buckle and try again.

“Don’t you want to go see Daddy and Snoop? They are inside.” She shakes her head and tells (or asks?) me again…
“No?!” And she buckles herself back into her seat. Yes… She knows how to do this, but thankfully can’t undo it.

She has a love/ hate relationship when riding in the car.
The throne she sits in while we cruise around has varied since the day she was born. Being as tall as she is, she outgrew her infant seat fairly quickly, and the next seat up we had, didn’t face backwards, so we got another. And finally, we have one more convertible seat for our second car. While a second seat isn’t crucial, it’s been a huge help to save us from days where one of us forgets to leave the seat for the other. And let me tell you, that’s happened and it’s not fun.

“Hey honey, how did picking her up from school go?”
“Well, I got there and realized I forget the car seat.”

GAH!

What seat are we using now? Which is our favorite? Well, we have three Gracos, one that isn’t convertible so she hasn’t tried it yet, and a RadianRXT Shadow. That last one sounds like a car right? Compared to the rest of them, it weighs about as much as one. And since we’re on the topic of cars, I’m going to use this analogy to compare them.

I got one from Diono to review and was totally excited to get it in the car and see what she thinks of a fancy seat. If all of our car seats were cars, our Gracos would be like Toyotas. Not very expensive, but reliable. And our new RadianRXT Shadow would be like a Lexus or a Mercedes. It has the reliability plus all the bells and whistles, but it’s going to cost you quite a bit more.

As I assembled it (which didn’t take very long at all, but there were a few belts I had to move around and adjust) I geeked out and used the QR reader codes with my phone to watch video demonstrations to make sure I was doing it right. And they have helpful people manning their twitter and facebook pages too.

There’s extra padding, a steel alloy frame, it’s the highest rear facing car seat, NCAP tested, and they can ride in it starting at 5 pounds. It seems humongous to me and hard to picture my tiny infant in it, but there is an additional infant support attachment that came with it, that we can add. Kids can ride backwards in it up to 45 pounds, and it’s narrow enough to fit three across. Based on reviews I’ve read with parents who have three kids and a sedan, this is a huge deal.

I’m pretty sure her favorite feature is the cup holder she can fit even her really wide sippy cups into. You can attach up to four(not sure why we’d need four but maybe one day I’ll learn and buy more). That thing has come in handy when I’ve forgotten her cup and we go through a drive through to get an ice water. She kicks her feet with excitement and puts her drink in that thing. It’s just a cup. Seriously. But it helps!

Now how much will this luxury car seat cost ya? About $339.99. Now some of you may be thinking “Oh that’s nothing,” and other like me are probably spitting out their morning energy drinks. But before you waste any more of that drink, I’ll tell you that I just looked it up and they’re only $289 at Walmart.

Still a bit more than the average car seat price, but so is a Mercedes compared to other cars. You can keep them rear-facing longer, which ultimately is declared safer. I’ll let you decide if it’s worth it and give you a chance to win one (below).

I suppose in a few years I’ll be glad I have all of these car seats (which luckily don’t expire for 5-10 years). I’ll have enough thrones, for all my little talkative (and hopefully some sleepy) rug rats.

How do your kids roll in the car? Talk your ear off? Sleep? Comment and you’ll be entered to win. Read the rest of the rules below for more entries.

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What matters more: The amount of time you spend with your child, or the quality of time you spend together?

I think I’ve learned the answer to that question this week.

It’s been slightly insane the past few days. My husband is now halfway through his training and we’re beginning to get a taste of what his schedule will be like once he graduates.

He’s in to work at 5pm and not home until after 2am. This week I was beat and in bed before he got home then back at work before he and Lil’ J woke up. It’s just been one of those weeks where I wonder what it would be like if I stayed at home with her and didn’t have any place I had to be.

I tried my best to hurry to work early so I could get home earlier, and catch my husband before he left for work. But he had to leave extra early for his shift and by the time I picked up Lil’ J from school and made it home, I’d just miss him. I was frustrated and felt like I was seeing both of them… Well, never.

I have some time off coming up around the holidays, which normally is a good thing for most people, but for me this means I have to put in a little more work now. I’m writing and editing stories in advance, and doing extra interviews.  Everything combined means a little more overtime and a little less time at home with my family.

I know I get a mix of sentiments from other moms. Some know exactly how I feel and others don’t wish they were in my shoes. I suppose some could wish they were, but I doubt it.

That full-time daycare that we pay for, but use part-time finally earned its keep this week.We took her all five days versus her usual three.

It’s not like she doesn’t like it. In fact, my husband told me this morning she kept grabbing his shoes, demanding he put them on, and shaking her car seat, while saying “skoo” “skoo” which means “school” in Lil’ J talk. I just feel bad when she’s spending more time playing with her teachers and friends than she is playing with me.

There’s hardly anything in this world that makes me feel worse than picking my daughter up from school and only having time to feed, bathe and dress her for bed before it’s time for us to crash and do it all over again in the morning.

I had had enough. It was time to reconnect.

I went in a couple of hours earlier than I normally do and told myself I was skipping a lunch and leaving exactly eight hours later. Then I picked my daughter up for some good old fashioned fun.

Normally when I want to have a blast, I take her somewhere.–A park with slides, a museum, a water playscape, or petting zoo. But tonight we’d bring the fun to us.

finger pupper fun

We had just received our finger puppets in the mail courtesy of Her Threaded Needle. One set for of Old Mc. Donald’s farm, and another of 5 little monkeys.

Before we even got inside I pulled them out and showed them to her. She had never seen finger puppets like this before but I knew she’s love them because she loves puppets and she loves singing. Sure enough, I couldn’t even get them all on my fingers before she pulled them off to try for herself.

We changed into our PJs long before it was time for bed so we could eat cheese and crackers, talk, and play. She shows me her toys and babbled to me, and I replied. It made me stop and think how often I give her my undivided attention on a regular basis, and how often is my mind someplace else. In this very moment, I was all hers.

In her room I took out the monkey finger puppets and sang the “Five Little Monkeys” song, and tried my best to make it as hilarious as possible. BOINKing my head when the monkey’s fell and hit their head, and jumping when they jumped. I think it worked. She of course wanted to sing it too. Then, just before lights out time, I taught her one of the coolest things she’s ever learned–How to jump.

I pretty sure in this moment, and right after I kissed her goodnight she was thinking something like:
“COOLEST. MOM. EVER!”

I may not get to spend all the time I would like with her. I may not be home with her every day. But I make the most of the time we do have together. Because I think it’s quality that matters more than quantity.

***

Rachel, owner of Her Threaded Needle has graciously offered to giveaway a set of Christmas finger puppets to one of my readers.

Just enter using the tool below (if you don’t want to use your facebook account, click the small print that says you want to use your name and email address). It’s a quick one so you can get it by Christmas. Ends 12:01am on Monday. Good luck!

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Hi! I’m Jennifer Borget

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I'm a part-time journalist, full-time wife and mother striving to make the world a better place and inspiring others to do the same. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day.

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