Apr 25, 2016

DiskoPets: The Safe and Educational Online Game World For Kids

I've partnered with the creators of DiskoPets to introduce parents to a cartoon based, educational, online game world for kids All opinions are my own.

I struggled with letting my son use technology.  Lucky for him, his father is an IT engineer and understands the great importance of technology, regardless of age. So, reluctantly, I gave in to technology when I saw that it helped my son with his fine and gross motor skills, social skills, language skills... everything.  Ok the free time tech time gave me, was really nice, too!

Thanks to really great learning apps and programs for toddlers, my son was saying and tracing the alphabet with his finger by the age of two!

I made it my mission to find every great learning tool for my son. I quickly realized just because the program promises to teach great things, if my son doesn't think the program is great, forget it. I started looking for "games" that brilliantly hid learning lessons under the fun.

So when the visionary behind, DiskoPets-- a cartoon based, educational, online game world for kids, that promises to keep children happy and entertained--reached out, I stopped to listen!









DiskPets Is A Cartoon Based Interactive Learning Game World:

  • Diskopets is a funny, animated, educational, multiplayer online game. Like TV cartoons, it has comical and whimsical characters as well as a vast, ever changing world to explore. 
  • The characters are small, cute, funny pets living high above us in the sky, on a floating island world. Kids take care of and raise these pets, as they play and learn with each other in the multiplayer world
  • There are many different areas to explore within the Diskopets world for children, Most containing educational activities disguised as fun games and puzzles. 
  • Parents can actually customize and add new learning material to the world. It’s a perfect educational game world for any child in your life.
  • Parents have access to which games their child is playing, what they have learned and accomplished, as well as, how much time their child has spent playing DiskoPets.
  • Multiplayer, so kids get the benefit of approved social interactions and working together as well. 
  • Each pet’s personality changes over time and adapts to the player. The pet's behavior and emotions will change based on how the player interacts with them.

Intrigued? I know, I was too!  

Here is a video fully outlining DiskoPets, and how you can get it!





To help this project along, head over to the DiskoPets Kickstarter Campaign, here.







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Apr 21, 2016

Wanna Know What It's Like To Have A Toddler? #ThrowBackThursday

In honor of Throw Back Thursday, I'm reposting one of my favorite posts. Originally titled: 10 Things My Toddler Is Doing That Will Make Yours Look Like An Angel.



Having a toddler is interesting to say the least. Below are 10 Of My Son's Best Moments in Toddlerhood:

1. MINE! MINE! MINE! Everything is "MINE!"  I could pick up a cat turd out of the litter box and he would declare it, "Mine, Mommy, Mine!"

Two years ago when I first read this, I thought it was super funny.
Now, I totally get it how true it is...

2. NO! EVERYTHING is NO! I've decided he answers, NO!, to everything just so he can feel like he has some sort of control, because sometimes it makes no sense.

Me:  Ollie, do you want an Ice Cream Cone?
Ollie: NO!
Me: OK...
Ollie: MINE! Mine Ice Cream Cone, Mommy.
Me: No.

3. Clingier than a school girl with a crush! "Mommy, hold you!" I hear it all day, and at a stout 35 pounds, hold you mommy not only gets old, it gets heavy!

4. Escape artist. He has learned how to turn locks and open doors. We officially have to lock the front and back doors from inside with a key. The poor kid, already trying to run from us at 2. Sorry, kid, 16 more years to go... turn your little Jeep around.


5. The second I get on the phone, ALL HELL BREAKS LOSE! I swear, the minute I get on the phone he gets gitty with excitement for the possibilities.  I can see the little hamster wheel turning in his head... He can't decide if he should draw on the walls, throw his toys down the stairs or chase the cat... or try to do all three at once.

6. If it can be launched, it will be launched. My kid is going to be the next Peyton Manning for sure. He throws EVERYTHING!  It's actually a real issue. Nothing is safe-- toys, chairs, remote controls, food, anything and everything.

7. Working the lip like a pro. It's the craziest thing, over the last week, Ollie has figured out how to pout. (I'll get a photo and post it to Instagram.) It's super cute, but the problem is that he clearly knows that. If he wants something he curls that cute little lip out and pouts. Being the spineless pushover that I am... it works like a charm. 

8. Stubborn as a mule. If the kid is not interested, he will plant his feet, curl his lip and declare that my idea or what ever I want is dumbassery, and that he has no intention of entertaining it.  Think: bedtime, nap time, clean-up time, or any other time that infringes on his time. I have to pick him up, all 35 pounds of concrete pile-on, and move him kicking and screaming.

9. The boy who cried, "Poo-Poos, Mommy." Since we are still actively working on potty training, Ollie knows if he even hints that he has to go, we stop what we are doing and take care of business.  So now when he is not interested in something--i.e. Bedtime-- he insist that he has to poo poo.  It sucks because I have to honor that request. Yes, I am fully aware that 95% of the time I'm just a pawn in his poo-poo game.

10. Toddler Picasso. The kid is going to be an artist. Working in the medium of "Anything will do." Especially mommy's lipstick and eye liner.  #FAIL

All I have to say is, Thank You, Magic Eraser.
(You had it right, Des!)
Oh and, speaking of masterpieces, he picked that awesome outfit out, socks and all!


Please, remind me again how I will look back on these crazy toddler years fondly...


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Apr 20, 2016

Mom Confession: I'm A Bedtime Battle Enabler

Bedtime SUCKS around my house. It's an hour long process (at least) that includes, but is not limited to the following; begging, bartering, anger, annoyance, spineless groveling, and eventually, a very hard won victory. Though, I am starting to think there is actually no real victory, but a draw that is replayed in 24 hours.


I hate bedtime, and I blame myself for it. After all, I'm the one who has taught my son the bedtime routine of bath, books, singing, rocking, then when I say, Ok, it's bedtime, that really means, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Because if bedtime meant something, then I would not spend the next thirty minutes to an hour begging my son to go to sleep! If it meant something, I would not constantly return to his room, and play the games I play with him. All the word "bedtime" means to my son is, play with mommy until I'm tired enough to pass out. 

Since Ollie's first days, I have held and nursed him to sleep. Then, last month I stopped nursing. When that happened, we exchanged nursing to sleep, for the bedtime game from hell. The game where Ollie doesn't go to sleep until he is ready, and I grovel and beg like a jackass.  I do this, every night, even though I know it is a game to him.

Why? Because, I am spineless.

FAIL. FAIL. FAIL!!!

Every night, I sit and rock him to sleep until I think I am going to lose my mind, at which point, I put him in his crib. If he is not ready to fall asleep, he will stand up, cry and beg to be held.  So what do I do? I pick him back up out of his crib, and rock him some more. Yes, I know how stupid it is that pick him back up, but I do it anyway because I am a sucker! I am sucker that just wants him to go to sleep, so I do what ever he asks to get him to calm down and go to sleep.

FAIL. FAIL. FAIL!!!

I will repeat this stupid crap game of rocking him to sleep, then putting him in his crib and getting him out again until I get really mad... at myself. OK, and a little mad at him too. Then, I will put him in his crib and make empty threats about how much trouble he will be in if he climbs out.  Nine times out of ten, he climbs out. I pick him up, tell him he is naughty and put him back in bed. Sometimes he stands up and just protests begging to be held, others we just repeat the process of climbing out and me putting him back in.  Sometimes, I rock him again because, again, I am a complete spineless butthead.


I KNOW this ridiculous bedtime crap is all my fault.  If I would just be tough, and not put up with the games, he would go to sleep.  I know this, because on the nights FTD puts Ollie to sleep, its easy for him.  Ollie will stay in his crib and sing himself to sleep. That actually sucks worse to me than the games we play, because I can see just how foolish I am.

What the hell is wrong with me?! Why can't I be tough, tell him to go to sleep and mean it.  Why have I created such a monster, when I KNOW BETTER!?  And how in the hell am I going to correct it?  I have friends with children MUCH younger than Ollie that go into their cribs only slightly tired and fall asleep without issue. I am SO jealous of the parent that puts their kid to bed and goes about their business.

I know Ollie will not die if I let him cry, but it still totally sucks to hear him screaming for me. I rationalize my behavior by thinking this will pass. I tell myself that it's a phase, and really, I should somehow cherish every moment he lets me hold him, because soon enough he will not even want me to hug him. Still, I just wish I could hold him and rock him, and then put him in his crib and go about my business, NOT play into a ridiculous toddler bedtime game.


Ugh. Have kids they said... It will be awesome they said... Too bad they never said, grow a set first because it's going to be hard and you need to be tough, even when it breaks your heart.



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How Heat Pumps Can Benefit the Family Budget #Infographic



Everyone loves to save money on an energy bill, and heat pumps can yield significant savings year after year. Although they come with a high up-front cost, the monthly energy savings they afford can more than make up for the initial investment required. Because they don’t burn fuel, heat pumps are also more environmentally friendly than most other heating and cooling systems.

But owning a heat pump brings more perks than just financial savings. For one thing, a heat pump can both heat and cool your home. Depending on where you live, you might be able to forgo a separate air conditioning unit or furnace in favor of a heat pump. What’s more, heat pumps heat and cool consistently instead of cycling on and off — the source of much of the savings they can bring. And don’t forget one of the most useful benefits of a heat pump — providing hot water for all your daily needs.

To learn more about how heat pumps can save you money on your energy bill, check out the following infographic, published by Griffith Energy Services to explain how heat pumps work. You’ll be able to learn about scroll compressors, variable-speed motors, desuperheater coils, and the other features of home heat pump systems. Take a moment to learn about the heating and cooling process behind the magic of heat pumps, and see for yourself why a heat pump might be right for you and your energy needs.\
Turn Up the Heat, Pump Up the Savings


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Apr 19, 2016

10 Things The Pregnancy Books Are Afraid To Tell You

For all my expecting readers, and moms who have had the pleasure of post-pregnancy amnesia... this one is for you...


1. Pregnancy is not an Event, it's a Process-Who ever said it was nine months was a damn liar! 40weeks=10 months Dumbass!  10 insane months that take you on the wildest most unexpected journey of your life.

2. Morning Sickness Is Only The Beginning of a LONG day- Speaking of Dumbasses...Morning sickness is really morning-noon-and-night sickness! So who ever called it Morning Sickness and got it to stick was clearly a male dumbass doctor! That shit lasts 24 hours a day for 20 weeks... or 40 weeks depending on... God knows what since no two doctors can agree on the exact cause of it.

3. Weight gain is inevitable- I don't care who you are - you're going to gain weight, so get over yourself and your size four jeans. Doctors recommend, depending on your size and weight, that you should not gain any more than 15-25 pounds. Sorry but, I call BULLSHIT on that! I have yet to meet ONE woman who gained 25 pounds or less. (Go ahead leave a comment below saying it was you, because when you do, 345,987,907 other women will leave a comment right after you saying, "WOW!  Good for you, I gained 40+." Because 40+ is the average. If I can impart any real tip here, don't look at the scale, don't bother with that number, be healthy, eat right and take care of yourself, that is WAY healthier than focusing on gaining no more that 25 pounds.

4. Pregnancy induced exhaustion is inevitable, you have no control- The insane fatigue that takes over during the first and third trimesters is so freaking debilitating, and since caffeine is frowned upon, plan to do EVERYTHING during your second trimester. 

5. Your hormones will rage harder than a pile of juggalos at an Insane Clown Posse concert- (Or swing more than a pile of kids on a playground, you pick...both apply.) I would have to say one of the most frustrating things about my pregnancy was the roller coaster ride of psycho hormones.  I could laugh, cry, and get angry during a 30:second fabric softener commercial. 

6. Paranoia will destroy ya- I spent my entire pregnancy scared something awful was going to happen.  If my Morning sickness was really bad, I was afraid I was going to throw up the baby (Yes, I am a freak) or when my morning sickness went away, I was afraid the baby did too.  Or when he would move too much, I was afraid he was having a seizure (Thanks for that Dr. Google) or when he wouldn't move, I was terrified.  I got an ultra sound at 34 weeks because he didn’t move for a day- he was fine just breech and running out of room.  If I would have horrible heartburn... I mean the list just goes on.  Everyday I would worry.  SUCKED! 

7. Pregnancy cravings go WAY beyond 'Pickles & Ice Cream'- First of all, no one eats pickles and ice cream in the same damn bowl at the same damn time.  My only guess as to why the combo is instantly attributed to pregos is because of two things, 1. Pregs love Sweet and Salty., 2. Pregnant women crave both pickles and Ice cream, but seriously, not at the same time!  Now, as for cravings in general. I learned that the cravings were most times my body begging for dairy, or vitamins, or protein... there is a method to the madness.

8. Potty humor looses its luster- Man oh man, I love a shit or fart joke as much as the next guy, however, when I was pregnant, there was nothing funny about constipation, hemorrhoids and seedy public toilets. They hit too close to home. While it is funny hearing about a how your pregnant friend had to pee so bad she pulled into the dirtiest gas station in the scariest part of town, prepared to go toe-to-toe with the meanest gangster on the block to pee, however, when it happens to you...  NOT FUNNY! 

9. From Princess to Pregnant to Parent: Nothing will humble you like pregnancy-A friend of mine sent me this meme the other day with the caption, "Man how times have changed!" 


I replied with, "No, it's still true. I said that the other day." Truthfully, MAN HOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED!! Nothing will humble you like being poked and prodded by numerous doctors for 40 weeks. And if that doesn't work, the massive weight gain, losing friends who are freaked out because kids scare them, swollen ankles and feet that no longer fit into your cute shoes, stretch marks, constipation, hemorrhoids, the awesome preggy waddle... and then the best part of all, complete strangers rubbing your belly like you are jolly little fat Buddha giving out wishes.  Trust me, by the end of your 40-week journey; you will be a whole new kind of princess.  

10. You may not be ready to be a mother now, but by the end of the 10 months, you will be more than ready to get on with it- I was terrified (from day one of pregnancy) of becoming a mother, but by the end of my pregnancy I was so damn ready to get on with it.  I was tired of being pregnant and ready to feel normal again! I could not wait to meet the little guy who was practicing Kung Fu on my bladder 24 hours a day. I could not wait to see this little guy I had been talking to and rubbing on for the past 40 weeks. I couldn't wait to meet my, son.  




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Apr 18, 2016

5 Tips For Taming Toddlers




Yesterday, I got a question on the First Time Mom And Dad Facebook Page from a friend and reader that read: I need some mommy help. My little one is getting to a mean stage. He is taking toys and pushing kids and generally just being a douchebag. What can I do to correct this behavior. If it gets to be too much I intervene and explain to him that he's being mean and needs to be nice or he gets a timeout. It doesn't seem to be helping. Is this just a phase? Please help me.

First of all, I promise I did not write that... It only sounds like I did because that is pretty much a summary of my posts over the last couple of months. I told her that I completely felt her pain, since I was dealing with the same issues. The only difference being that her son will be two next month, so I have a four month head start on dealing with the terrible twos. Wanting to help, I reflected on the past four months and came up with five tips that were helping me (and Ollie) survive the terrible twos...

1. Consistency is KEY. If you are going to say No, say it the first time. Toddlers thrive on routine and constancy. Flipping the script midway through on a toddler is the worst thing you can do. Letting bad behavior slide the first couple of times makes it near impossible to correct down the road. For example. Taking my son out of the shopping cart at the grocery store and either holding him or letting him walk, will forever be one of my biggest regrets. If you learn anything from me, do not let your kid out of that cart! It's almost impossible to put them back in! Another of my regrets is letting Ollie help me in the kitchen. Every morning he tries to slide a chair over to help. This sucks since I have hot coffee and knives out making sandwiches. He is too young to help, I wish I would have waited until he was at least three. If only I said no to the grocery cart escape and helping make meals the first time, I would not have the daily battles. 

If you don't want your child to throw toys, correct them EVERY time! If you don't want them screaming, hitting or biting, reprimand every time. If things belong in a certain place, put them back every time. This gets old, but eventually it sticks... and becomes second nature for you too.

2. "NO" is not enough, explain why, and ALWAYS have a redirect ready. Being that my son is CONSTANLY testing boundaries and getting into things he should not, it quickly became apparent that a simple 'NO" would not be enough. I learned very early that my son responded best when I said, NO... and this is why, then showed him an activity that was appropriate for him to be doing. This way, I could teach him why what he was doing was wrong, and then show him something else he could be doing that was even more fun. Like instead of banging things on the floor, he could be driving cars on his toy table or playing with his blocks. That is much more effective than shouting NO, removing him from the activity, and then leaving him there with nothing to do but find more trouble.

3. Consequences are KEY! Since two-year-olds are not cognitively developed enough to understand spankings, or long time-outs, consequences are the best bet. FYI: empty promises of consequences are lazy parenting at it's finest hour. I know, this lazy parenting was me. "Oliver, if you do that, NO Park." He did it, we eventually went to the park. FAIL! FAIL! FAIL! Now, it's, "If you smash your car into the wall one more time, I am going to take it way!" Thanks to my prior lazy ways, he would smash the car into the wall. Now, I get up off my lazy butt and take the car, and explain again why I am taking the car so he is clear about the consequence. Of course he throws a fit, flopping like a fish on the floor, but eventually he stopped smashing the car into the wall.  

It's a process, everyday he is on to something new... but the consequence are reinforced now.

4. Ignore the temper tantrum. a.k.a the flopping fish out of water routine. I know most all parents who have made it though the terrible twos, threes, and yes apparently the fours too, will agree with me on this one, you cannot play into the tantrums, or they will just keep happening. I tell Ollie that he is hurting mommy's ears, and when he wants to use his words we can talk about what is upsetting him, then I walk out of the room. It's not always immediate, but eventually, he will calm down and move on.

5. It's not your fault. You are awesome. Going back to the mom that sparked this, during our back and forth she said this: "I think I'm a good mom and I'm hoping it's not something I'm doing or not doing." I struggle with this, but I know in my heart I am a good mom too. I know I am doing everything I can, even on my lazy to-tired-to-get-off-the-couch days, I still do my best. This IS a phase. ALL children go through the terrible toddler phase to some degree. This is a time for testing and learning for both the toddler and parent. Somedays we both get it right, others... Not. So. Much.  

As a whole, I know I am awesome and doing my best to navigate the toddler phase with my toddler. I am certain that staying patient, consistent and compassionate, is the key to surviving the toddler phase with my sanity, and a well-mannered and grounded child to show for it.





Do you have any tips to add?
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Apr 15, 2016

THIS Is The Key To Surviving Being A Parent With A Few Marbles

I am always carrying on about how important it is to find humor in parenting, even when the moments strike where you are sure it is impossible. I am always carrying on about it because I still struggle with it, and need to constantly remind myself to relax and laugh. Thankfully, I am getting better at it...




Just yesterday, the crazy toddler struck again with an all day festival of cranky boy. It made the day very difficult to find those moments of parenting humor.  Between throwing himself on the floor because I wouldn't let him play with my phone, then crying the whole time that I was on a phone call, to running off before I could get him in the car, to throwing rocks on the playground... we both had our moments of ridiculous frustration. Thankfully, for some of those moments, I no longer cater to his silly behavior by either refusing to give him the attention or thing he wants, or just walking off until he is finished throwing a fit.

Still, some days I fall short and wish I had the mentality of parents of multiples. I see and talk to mothers of multiples who have gone through the toddler stage, at least once, who are so calm about those moments that I find myself crazed. I wish I could have that "whatever, he's fine," mentality of my been-there-done-that friends. I wish I could not be so fearful and crazed!

"Fearful" being the operative word. At least once everyday, I have that heart stopping moment when my son gets too close to the road, or runs off and doesn't stop when I say, STOP!, or takes a bite that is too big and coughs. I even still worry when my son takes a nap that last more than three hours that he is in a coma or something! WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH ME???



Yesterday, while chasing Ollie all over the front yard to get him into the car, I saw my neighbors laughing at us. All I could do was wave, and feel like a complete idiot.  Here I am, 35 and chasing a 2-year-old around trying to reason with him... "If you don't get into that car, we are not going to the park!" then...  "Do you want some ice cream?  Then get into the car. Right now!"  The entire time, my son is having the time of his life!  Running and laughing, and positive that this game of chase is WAY better than ice cream at the park...


Yes, you should be laughing, of course I see the humor in it now... even if it is at my expense.
                                         
This whole parenting thing... What a blessing... and constant lesson about life and learning to not get so worked up about the small things...



Speaking of finding the humor in those difficult situations, in case you missed it, The Toddler Code of Conduct Part 2 is on the Huffington post.  So is Part 1 if you missed that... To read them, Click here!


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Disclaimer

We are FAR from childhood development professionals. We cannot and will not be held responsible if you take us seriously. Especially because we don't even take ourselves seriously.