Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Super Duper Princess Heroes Book Review

What it is
The Super Duper Princess Superheroes is a picture book for preschool and early elementary school aged kids about a group of girls who acquire super powers when they put on mysterious princess dresses they find outside while playing. 

Who wrote it
Sanjay Nambiar

What Mom thought
My super awesome sister-in-law, Crunchy Con Dance Mom, kindly reviewed this book with my 2.5 year old niece. Here's what she had to say:

The first thing that grabbed my attention with this book was the graphics! The illustrations are bright and colorful, and the characters look more "modern" that most childrens books. I also enjoyed the positive, "girls can do anything" message.

My favorite concept was how each girl was given a special "super power" that was unique to only her. I think that's a great message, that we all have different abilities and skills and everyone is needed to accomplish the goal. I liked how the girls did not compare their gifts to one another or get jealous, but instead they celebrated each others differences.

Although I enjoyed the girl power message, I thought that the author swung too far to the other side, by making the little boy in the story seem weak, embarrassed, and helpless. It would be good to emphasize that BOTH genders are important and necessary and BOTH genders need help sometimes. The message here seemed to be that girls are more powerful and smart and better than boys.

Also, it didn't make sense to me that the story was about three normal little girls who were just like "you and me" but then they meet a prince in the woods and bring him to the neighboring kingdom. It was as if the prince/fairytale theme came out of nowhere in the middle of the story.

Overall, I thought the book was "okay". Some good solid points about friendship and uniqueness, but lacked continuity and the deeper theme that I hoped for.


What my niece thought
While the book is a little wordy for toddlers, my niece still loved it! She loved the idea of princess superheroes and listened remarkably well for her age!

Get it
 
You can get the Super Duper Princess Superheroes from any major book retailer!

The Bottom Line
A fun and empowering book for girls who love princesses and super heroes, albeit a bit inconsistent in places. Written at a preschool/early elementary reading/listening level. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! I'm so thankful this year, as always, for my wonderful family and friends, for food to eat and a warm home to eat it in, and so many more nice things than I deserve. I am truly blessed! 

I plan on eating way too much turkey, potatoes and pie and on watching football in the afternoon and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in the morning. It wouldn't be Thanksgiving for me without watching the parade, and I loved seeing behind the scenes in this fun video from Lindt chocolate about their chocolatier float that will be in this year's parade!
Am I the only one craving chocolate now? Yum! (PS the parade airs from 9 to noon Thanksgiving morning on NBC in all time zones). 

Anyway, I hope you are able to spend the day eating something you like with someone you love, and I'd love to hear about your Thanksgiving traditions in the comments if you feel like sharing!
Happy Thanksgiving from our home to yours!


Thursday, November 21, 2013

3:21 Blog Hop Nov 2013

Every month, a cool blog called With a Little Moxie hosts a fun blog hop all about Down syndrome! At the end of the post you will find the link to click to add your own post (if you link up, you end up linking to every blog who has the hosting thing in their post!) Each month participants are asked to share one truth, one tip, and one picture. I hope you enjoy mine!



One truth
They say babies with Down syndrome almost have an extended babyhood because they tend to be both smaller in size and behind in milestones compared to others their same age. But platitudes like "babies don't keep" and "time flies when you're having fun"? Totally still apply. I can't believe we've had this little cutie for 3/4 of a year already!!

One tip
Daniel Tiger has a cute song about "in some ways we are different, but in so many ways, we are the same!" that would be excellent to bust out if you are ever discussing the implications of your baby or child having DS with a preschooler or early elementary school student. 

One photo
Apparently peas are delicious and funny. He did get some in his mouth, I promise :)


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wear them Wednesday Nov 20, 2013

One I love
My go-to cold weather wrap right now is Natibaby wool dinosaurs in blue & yellow. It is soft and cozy, and I feel good about taking my baby out and about even in chilly weather when I know he's bundled up in several layers of wool (depending on how I tie it). And it's sooooo cute (although it does not actually look this yellow in real life, more like a light spring green. But these pictures show the dinosaur details well so I like them anyway!)



One I want
I love this cheerful yellow wrap from Norwegian wrap company Ellevil
It's called Zara Sun and is 100% organic cotton and just looks like it could brighten any day!

One way to wear it
My favorite way to tie a wrap if I know I'm going to be somewhere that I will need to take baby in and out is a "front cross carry", like this:


But again, Babywearing Faith on YouTube really shows it much better (and I highly encourage you to subscribe to her YouTube channel!):
What baby carriers, wraps, or slings are you using or craving this week?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Puttin' on the Ritz: Kid, Schools, Food, & Control

You've probably already seen this note, which is actually a year old, but is now going viral after being posted on a site called Weighty matters:

Basically, a Canadian mom had her kids in a daycare with nutritional requirements on lunches brought from home due to participating in a government nutrition program. Her kids' lunches contained potatoes, but no actual grain, so they were considered "deficient" and accordingly the lunches were supplemented (with Ritz crackers) and the parents were fined. Moms across the political spectrum are speaking out against this intrusive control of children's diets. But many of them seem primarly concerned that the regulations are not the right regulations, that the problem is not the the government is regulating what parents must give their children to eat, but that Ritz crackers are considered superior to potatoes (they're on the naughty list for many ├╝ber healthy moms, as they are a processed food with things like fat and sodium in them). Still others view this as an unfortunate but not terribly important side effect of a program they believe genuinely helps underprivileged kids who don't have adequate lunches when they bring from home. 

My thought is that under American law and common sense, this is an unfair intrusion upon the rights of parents to raise their children the way they see fit (barring abuse). It is reasonable and even good for the government to have laws to protect children who are actually not being fed, it is unreasonable for the government to impose caloric restrictions beyond the level considered neglect, or to require foods from certain categories. And I also think it is reasonable and good for schools to have the power to supplement lunches that actually lack adequate calories for a child to be able to participate fully in school, and charge his or her parents the cost of the food provided. 
Beyond that, it is prudent for society, government, and schools to educate, to recommend, but NOT to actually control what parents feed their children. Parents should be able to choose for their children diets that I personally don't advocate for, like Paleo, vegetarian or vegan diets (none of which would be able to fulfill the requirements of the restrictive school lunch program as delineated on the note). They should be able to choose to occasionally send a special lunch without much healthy food in it. They should be able to choose to not include any veggies because their child only eats veggies slathered in ranch dressing or baked in olive oil and they don't want to send expensive produce to be thrown away. They should be able to choose fo send a lunch that balances breakfast and dinner, even if that means it is lacking in a certain food group, or even several. The most important part of that: the parents should get to choose. 

It is beyond the scope of the government to tell parents which foods they must feed their children. But the fault doesn't lie entirely with the government in this case; it also lays with the owners of childcare facilities and schools that accept government restrictions on nutrition (I was heartened that at least one teacher I know posted about this on Facebook earlier today, even though I know individual teachers probably don't get much say on nutrtion policies adopted by their districts, it gave me hope that at least some teachers might show more leniency and common sense in enforcing such policies.) The responsibility also lays with parents who agree to abide by these restrictions. It is a reminder that as parents, we must be vigilant about reading the policies of the places we entrust with the care of our children and need to speak up about those we disagree with. That we must let our politicians know that we do not agree with unecessary and intrusive government regulation.

 If we as parents do not stand up for our right to make decisions for our children according to our own values, the government will continue to chip away at them, one Ritz cracker at a time. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

What to buy for Christmas for a Baby with Down Syndrome!

This is part of a series of gift guide posts I plan on doing this Christmas shopping season. I know I've found similar guides from other bloggers very useful and I hope my suggestions are useful to you too! 



For the most part, babies with Down syndrome are just like any other baby, so most gifts you'd typically buy for any baby will be good for them as well. That being said, here are a few of my favorites and why I love them so much:

Freddie Firefly
Why I love it: lots of textures and colors, easily hangs from carseat or stroller, but mostly because my baby does! 
Recommended age: birth-6 months

Summer Infant Super Seat
Why I love it: all the fun of an exersaucers with none of the hip dysplasia concerns! (Most physical therapists recommend against using any type of exersaucer with a baby with DS)
Recommended ages: 6 months + able to easily sit for long periods of time with moderate back support

Anything from Oball
Why I love it: The weblike design of Oball toys makes them lightweight and easy to grab, even for babies with low tone. We have a rattle, rain stick ball, and a car and love them all!
Recommended ages: birth and up!

Marvel plush
Why I love it: these cute plushy superheroes are great for babies and older siblings alike. They look like classic Marvel characters we know and love, but don't hurt if you accidentally hit yourself-or a sibling-in the face with one. These would be especially great for a toddler with DS who would want to play with action figures but might still be putting everything in their mouths. 
Recommended ages: 3 months-3 years

Sophie the Giraffe
Why I love it: Sophie is made of natural rubber and food grade coloring, so I think she's much safer to chew on than some of the plastic toys that abound now. A wonderful teething toy or just-for-fun toy.  
Recommended ages: Birth & up

Musical instruments
Why I love it: Musical instruments help babies understand cause and effect, not mention being tons of fun! I love musical instruments that are baby safe and make a great sound. 
Recommended ages: 3 months & up

Indestructibles books
Why I love it: these books are bright and colorful and basically impossible for a baby to destroy or get injured from. I especially love that they are waterproof and so easy to clean, but still feel like paper and not plastic. 
Recommended ages: birth & up!

What's your favorite gift for babies?

**links are Amazon affiliate links which means your product costs the same, but I get a tiny chunk of Amazon's profits!** update 11/30/13: I just saw that the Amazon links are a bit wonky...I apologize and will get them straightened out as soon as I can!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Have you heard about Amazon Smile?

I just found out about a cool new thing Amazon is doing, and I basically don't know why anyone who orders from Amazon wouldn't do it! It is called Amazon Smile, and in a nutshell, means they will donate .5% of the profits from stuff you buy on Amazon Smileto the charity of your choice without raising your purchase price. There are a gazillion great organizations set up on there, but I personally set mine to support the National Down Syndrome Society. 
Even better? It works with Amazon affiliate links to, so if you click through an Amazon link on my page to Amazon Smile, your price stays the same, but both your charity of choice and the my family get a tiny chunk of Amazon's profits! 

To get to Amazon Smile, either click through a link like that one(which would allow you to also support your favorite blogger!), type smile.amazon.com into your navigation bar, bookmark smile.amazon.com, or from any regular amazon page, change "www" to "smile". Some products, like subscriptions for monthly delivery of certain products, don't qualify, but most do. 




I think its awesome that Amazon is making it easy to support your favorite bloggers and your favorite charities when doing your usual shopping and without any additional costs to you. Yay Amazon!

Friday, November 15, 2013

7 Quick Takes Nov 15, 2013

--- 1 ---
When boy #2 came we got into the bad habit of watching way too much TV. As the temperature drops and outdoor play becomes but a fond memory, I can feel us falling back into the same habit. So we are going to try a cute idea I saw online of giving "tickets" for TV privileges. Once the tickets are used, the TV is off for the day! I'll try to update on how its going once we try it for a while. 

--- 2 ---
I asked my preschooler to pick his favorite activity to do when spending time with his mama, and he requested we bake cookies! He poured in all the dry ingredients, helped stir, helped roll dough, chose the cookie cutters, and cut many of them out himself. They turned out delicious!
Made of gingerbread, I am!


--- 3 ---
I am loving the cool fair trade stuffCatholic Relief Services has for sale this Christmas season, like this fair trade batik headband:


--- 4 ---
Boy #2 figured out how to get from his stomach to sitting on his bottom and he does it all the time. It's still such a surprise to me though when I turn my back for just a second and discover him sitting up! He can also scootch that way and can now pretty much get himself anywhere he wants to go (which is usually to whichever choking hazard toy Boy #1 has left lying around)

--- 5 ---
I tried a new veggie blend at the grocery store and discovered I actually like asparagus. Who knew?!?

--- 6 ---
I can't believe how close Advent is. I need to get all my stuff together for the activity advent calendar my preschooler has requested to do again this year! One thing I still need to decide is what types of Christmas ornaments to make together. 

--- 7 ---
I accidentally discovered a really fun Christian children's book at the library recently. Its called "P is for Pumpkin: God's Harvest Alphabet" but in the library catalog was listed just as "P is for Pumpkin" so I was pleasantly surprised to discover the religious aspect. Even better? It is still available (I sometimes check out very old library books, but this one is fairly recent) and not very expensive at all! I definitely recommend it for families with preschoolers. 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Shepherds to the Rescue: Kids' Book Review

What it is
Shepherds to the Rescue is the first book in the Gospel TimeTrekkers series for kids

Who wrote it
Sister Maria Grace Dateno of the Daughters of Saint Paul. (Side note: I love that in her author bio blurb she proudly brags about having 22 niece and nephews so far!)

My thoughts
I think this book is so fun for kids! In Shepherds to the Rescue, three siblings are mysteriously transported to Ancient Bethlehem, where they end up befriending a young shepherd as they try to figure out what happened and how to get back home. 
I remember some videos we had in 90's with kids who were magically transported back to Bible days and that we totally loved them, so when I heard about these books, I had a feeling we would love them too. I think it's a fun and creative way of helping kids understand what life was like in times and places important events in Christian history occurred. The book was written at a level that I think most first or second graders could easily read, but was also fun for my 4.5 to listen to me read aloud. 

My kid thought
"I liked it! I liked the part when they got to go into Jesus land! And got to come back to normal land!"(He was slightly concerned they were trapped there forever). 


Get it
Shepherds to the Rescue is available from the Catholic Company for $5.95 at time of posting. 

This review is my last review written as part of the now defunct Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Gospel Time Trekkers:Shepherds to the Rescue Vol.1. Thanks for all the great books, Catholic Company, and good luck with the next chapter of your social media journey!


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Top 10 Everything in Sports from Sports Illustrated Kids (Book Review)

What it is
Is a book full of top 10 lists about mostly American sports. From the top 10 underdogs to the top 10 overall athletes, there really are lists for the top in everything in sports it seems!

Who wrote it
Sports Illustrated for Kids

The dirt
I barely got a chance to review this book myself because my husband kept taking it and reading it!! He thought the lists were mostly great, although he disagreed with a few choices (which is bound to happen anytime lists of this nature are made). He thought there was a great variety of sports represented. 
When I finally got a hold of the book myself, I thought it was very visually appealing with tons of great pictures of famous athletes and famous sports moments. I recognized more of the names than I was afraid I would. I did notice that there were not even close to as many women as men mentioned. It totally makes sense- Usain Bolt is much faster than Shelly-Ann Fraser,  so he makes the fastest list and she doesn't-but I would love to also see a future book from SI Kids of the top 10 everything in women's sports or some lists of top women athletes and top moments in women's sports added to future editions of this book. 
My husband and I both agreed that the pictures are interesting to all ages, but most of the text would be most interesting for kids 7 & up. He thought it'd be appealing to tween and teenage boys as well as elementary school kids, and would be a fun book to have laying around the house for anyone interested to read (which I think was his way of asking that I not hide it away on a kid bookshelf because he isn't done reading it yet, lol), and says if his friends came over to watch a football game, he's confident they'd be reading it. 

What my kid thought
My preschooler loved all the pictures, and liked to hear his Dad tell him who some of the athletes were. His favorite parts were "the football and baseball pictures". 
 
Get it
The TOP 10 of Everything in SPORTS is available for $14.46 from Amazon at time of posting

The Bottom Line
A great action packed book for sports fans of all ages, and one of my top suggestions this year for a Christmas gift for a kid or teen who loves sports. If you buy it for your child, don't be surprised if your husband wants to "share"!

Thank you to Sports Illustrated Kids for providing a review copy of this book. I received no other compensation for this post. 

Wear Them Wednesday Babywearing Blog Hop

I'm hosting my first ever blog hop! To participate in this weekly blog hop, write a post about babywearing and link up here! Feel free to copy my format or come up with something entirely different!

One I love
Since this is my first #WearThemWednesday it seems fitting to show off my first ever baby wrap. My first woven wrap was a gift from my mama and is Oscha's triskele honey. This wrap is half linen and half combed cotton in a beautiful goldeny yellow with a triskele pattern. I'm of mostly Scotch-Irish origin, so I loved the idea of getting a wrap from a Scottish company that uses Irish linen, plus I love the color and pattern too. Triskele is actually a trinity symbol, used by the ancient Celts to symbolize the maid-mother-crone triad and then later adopted by Christians to explain the Holy Trinity. I love looking at the wrap and thinking that hundreds of years ago, some priest in Ireland might've used that same symbol to help my ancestors grow in their faith!



One I want
Pavo, a relative newcomer to the woven wrap market, has positioned itself as a must-have for babywearing aficionados with bright colorful patterns on soft and supportive wraps. I have my eye on the darker green hearts wrap. I'm crossing my fingers it wasn't just a test color and that it doesn't sell out before I even notice its on sale!


One way to wear it
My favorite way to wrap currently, and the first carry I learned to tie well, is the front wrap cross carry. It looks like this when I do it:



But this video from Babywearing Faith on YouTube really shows it much better (and I highly encourage you to subscribe to her YouTube channel!):

Want to link up your own babywearing post? Use this handy form to add any babywearing related post you've written in the last week or so!

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tell Sephora to ditch "Celebutard" lipstick!

*****UPDATE*****
Sephora has now pulled this product! Hurray! This is what they had to say on Facebook:

Sephora, one of the biggest retailers of trendy makeup in the US with a popular website, stand-alone-stores and boutiques inside JCPenneys across the nation, is currently selling a lipstick called "Celebutard" as part of their Kat Von D line. "Celebutard" is a hybrid word that Wikipedia claims the New York Post cruelly coined to describe Paris Hilton by mashing "celebutante" and "retard" together. But maligning celebrities we believe to be foolish or airheads or both by comparing them to people like my son is NOT okay, and neither is then naming a lipstick after this hateful term. 
To make matters worse, they sent an email out to their fans recently featuring the "Celebutard" lipstick as an "editor's pick"!



And I actually totally understand how this could happen, because confession time: despite now being the proud mama of an adorable baby boy with Down syndrome, I used to use the word "retard". I didn't think I was being offensive. I didn't think about people with intellectual disabilities when I said it, and certainly didn't harbor any ill will towards them. I didn't think much at all, and that was the problem. Luckily, some friends pulled me aside after class discretely and let me know that wasn't cool and why. They made me think. I changed my vocabulary.

And now its time to pull aside Sephora and Kat Von D and do the same. It's not okay to mock people, even if you aren't intending to, even if you actually have nothing against them and just weren't thinking. 
There is no lipstick worth marginalizing millions of people. 

Please let Sephora and Kat Von D know this is not okay, and that you'd like them to pull the "Celebutard" lipstick. You can use the highlighted words above if you're not sure what to say, or just speak from your heart. I'll include some helpful contact links below. So far Huffington Post is the only news organization that appears to have covered the story, but feel free to contact your local news stations as well and ask them to ask local Sephora and Sephora in JCPenney stores about the lipstick. 

Places to share your thoughts:
Louis Vuitton (Sephora's parent company) e-mail: Contact_us@louisvuitton.com