Archive for the ‘Product Reviews’ Category

Raising a Bilingual Child~Hebrew Speaking Toys

Monday, September 8th, 2014 by by

raising bilingual children

I found this amazing store that has toys, books, games and DVDs in Hebrew that ships to the US.

It is really expensive for my inlaws to send toys and books and I have been trying to find a store like this since Baby Bear was little. We got this really cool Taltol doll to try from Pashoshim.

It is so important that children have all different kinds of language interactions. (more…)


Bob and His Pouffe

Saturday, September 15th, 2012 by by

My adorable-genius friend, Amber, is a mom of three kids under six. Amber and her family live in a two bedroom house and storage is obviously in high demand. She was looking for something cute to hold the ton-load of stuffed animals that seem to re-produce on their own in every kid’s room. She couldn’t find much beyond baskets and those hang-y net tube looking things. So, Amber (here’s the genius part) designed her own thing called a “Pouffe.” It was so awesome and so many friends loved it that Amber and her friend Andrea started a company called Red Zipper Designs to keep up with the pouffe demand.

Here’s how the pouffe works: It looks like a big ottoman, beanbag chair deal. It has a zipper that goes all the way around the middle and opens up where it can store stuffed animals, extra bedding, off-season clothes: lots and lots of stuff. You zip it back up and it’s an adorable little pouffe. They’re great in a kid’s room but they are Pottery Barn-ish looking so they can work in the living room too. Plus, they are machine washable. Bob has the blueberry one and he loves hanging out on it.

Red Zipper is having a tremendous sale on the pouffes for the holiday weekend. They are regularly $160 and this weekend they’re on sale for $99. Go check them out here.

This isn’t a paid advertisement, you guys. I just love me some pouffe and I think you will too.

Smacksy Sunday Links

Sunday, February 12th, 2012 by by

Impossibly cool.

Lovely story.

Glorious voice.

Happy Sunday.

Top Toys & How They Can Support Speech & Language Development (Part One)

Thursday, February 9th, 2012 by by

As a speech pathologist, I am asked all the time by parents what toys I recommend they buy for their children to help expand their speech and language skills. When I became a mother, I became even more interested in children’s toys. So for the month of February, I’ve decided to write a series of posts all about my personal top pics of toys I wish every child could have, and how they can support language development and overall learning. Welcome to part one of four in my series!


I have been working with children in  professional capacity for over 15 years and have had the pleasure of working with children of all abilities in a wide variety of settings (preschools, elementary schools, middle and high schools, child care programs, recreation programs, homes, etc.). Working in these settings over the years, as well as my experience as a speech pathologist and a mother of two, has given me a unique perspective on the use of toys as learning tools. Particularly how toys can help (or even HINDER!) speech and language skills.

As I share with you my personal top picks for toys for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, I will also be sharing the areas of speech and language that these toys can help support. However, it is important to know that for these toys to help support speech and language development you, as the parent or caregiver, must help to facilitate that language. What I mean is this: You can’t just give a child a shape sorter and expect him to magically know and use the names of shapes and colors! You need to sit with your child and facilitate his learning. You need to use some strategies that I have mentioned before including:

Parallel Talk, Self Talk, & Descriptions

Expansions, Extensions, and Repetitions

Commenting and Asking Questions (more…)


Review, Recipe, and Giveaway: Wholly Guacamole

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012 by by
Who doesn’t love guacamole? Everyone I know does. Well, maybe not my kids. You see, guacamole is different, and it’s green, and that’s enough to keep my kids away. In the past, when we have been at a restaurant, they have refused to try the guacamole. So I was excited to receive a package of different varieties of  Wholly Guacamole and Wholly Salsa. I knew that there was bound to be something here they would like. I also knew that if I was going to get them to try this good stuff, I would have to make it pretty appealing.

Who has the time to make guacamole? With three little ones running around, not me. Wholly Guacamole allows you to have guacamole whenever you have the craving. Their products are all natural with no preservatives. You can feel good about giving it to your family. They have many varieties of guacamole such as Classic, Organic, Pico de Gallo, and more. I just adore their 100 Calorie Packs. They satisfy a guac craving while allowing me to practice portion control. In my area, you can find Wholly Guacamole products at Target, Safeway, and Costco. (more…)

Reading… Kindergarten Style

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012 by by

Eric seems to have found the “keys to the castle” when it comes to reading…because suddenly, he is doing an amazing job of it! For a while now, he has been bringing little poems and books home from Kindergarten, and he reads them himself. He has been wanting to read more books, but all of the level 1 or pre-1 books I’d found, even the Phonics books, were just a bit… Well, honestly, they weren’t too hard, they were just too long. He could read them, but by the middle of the book, he was tired of working so hard to read it.

“You read it, Mommy!”

So, I remembered a book series I’d heard of a while back – Bob books. Not Bob the Builder, though… Just Bob.

The first couple of books I flipped through from the first set seemed almost too easy, but they progressed quickly through the set, and by the end of it they were perfect for Eric. Short sentences, repetition, word families, and a lot of words he could easily sound out.

It was like mana from heaven for the kid when I brought them home. He was so thrilled that he could read books all by himself! Randomly, he would pick up one, sit on the couch, and just…read. Other times, he would tell me I needed to sit down so he could read to me.

He was so excited. He was reading! All by himself! (more…)

Transitioning to a Toddler Bed – Review and Giveaway of Sleep Buddy

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012 by by

My twins are 3 1/2 and, as of two days ago, were still sleeping in cribs. We’ve gotten a lot of flack about this from friends and family, but we don’t give into peer pressure. When the girls were 2 1/2, B climbed out of her crib a few times. We panicked and bought toddler beds and consulted a sleep expert.  Yup, there are sleep experts out there – who knew? I had a won a free consultation with a sleep expert and it seemed like the perfect time to use it. She advised that we wait to take them out of their cribs. She said it was very difficult to have 2 year old twins in a room who will stay in bed and not have a party each night. She told me she had seen it before, and it could be a very difficult situation.  She suggested if I wanted to spare myself a big headache, wait until they were 3, when I could reason with them a little more.

Well, a funny thing happened. Neither girl ever climbed out of their crib again, and they were quite content in them.  But when they turned 3, A became very… oh what’s the word… mean to her sisters. She would do anything she could to push their buttons and generally get reactions out of them. There was no way I was going to take the girls out of their cribs now. I could just picture A going to B’s bed and stealing her stuffed animal and generally annoying her. But a few weeks ago, things changed. A started being super affectionate with her sisters and no longer takes pleasure in annoying them.  The twins are now BFF. (more…)


Play-Doh Redeems Itself

Saturday, January 14th, 2012 by by

If you’re like me and have ever thought you loved Play-Doh, then experienced the joys of a child smearing Play-Doh all over the carpet and it never coming off again, you’re probably already suspicious. We were in Target last weekend looking for something… Now I can’t even remember what. You know how that memory just melts away with each kid you have, and I’ve got four. Anyhow, of course we wound up in the toy section, of course a bunch of stuff was on clearance, and of course the kids all had money left over after Christmas because they were smart and spent *our* money on gifts and saved theirs. They really needed new toys a week after getting like a zillion of them. Two years later, they’d finally picked out the toys they were going to buy, when I spotted something that gave me pause.

Yes, it was the dreaded Play-Doh. Play-Doh like I have cleaned up a million times and swore we were finished with. But this Play-Doh came with letter stampers! This elevated it out of toy status and into the realms of school necessity. Plus, it was on clearance at 50% off, and you know what a cheapskate…err, bargain hunter I am. The Play-Doh came home with us under strict admonishments that it would live in the school closet and only be used by Coral for letter practice. I figured we had about a 10% chance of abiding by those rules for more than a day. (more…)

Disney on Ice: 100 Years of Magic (at Rogers Centre)

Monday, January 2nd, 2012 by by

Dan and I bought tickets to Disney on Ice as part of Noah’s Christmas present. Noah has always loved Mickey Mouse and anything Disney. (His favorite Disney movie is Lion King.) We splurged for front row tickets to make sure we could see all the action clearly.

Now, having been there and seen the seating, I would say that there were plenty of other seats that provide just as good a view for less money. Any of the “stadium” seats would be great, since they are leveled. The only seats I would not choose would be anything other than the first row in the VIP section (which is where we were), or anything other than the first row the Field section. Since the rows are not leveled in these sections, your child could have trouble seeing over an adult sitting in front of him. (more…)

The Potty Watch: My New Favorite Item

Friday, December 30th, 2011 by by

I’ll be honest, I was not looking forward to potty training. I mean, honestly changing diapers was FINE with me…but I knew we needed to do it eventually.

Last summer (2010) while in Hawaii, E was showing interest in the potty (at 21 months), so we bought her a potty when we got home and just set it up for her with no pressure. We got all excited and talked about going in the potty, etc. Eventually, she started going in the potty…once in a while. This continued for several months. Then, for Christmas last year, we also got her Karen Katz’ A Potty For Me!, and started reading it often.

Long story short: She just wasn’t that into the potty.

Fast forward to several weeks ago, when we realized that she was going to be turning three soon, so I decided we needed to buckle down and get it done. So we picked a weekend, started it and….

She got pneumonia. We were like, “SERIOUSLY?”  So we had to put the potty training on hold for a couple weeks. Then, a couple weeks ago, I asked my husband to find this thing I had heard about, a “Potty Watch.” We could try that, because our E was not going to pee in the potty just to make us happy ;)

So he picked it up (we got this one, to the left,  from Potty Time Inc ), and E came home and excitedly showed me the watch (that she had made daddy open right away). We immediately put her in underwear, set the watch to alarm every 30 minutes, and..

BAM! The girl was peeing in the potty! And she was excited about it!

We used the potty watch for two weeks, and now my daughter is day-potty trained (pee only). We paired the watch with a sticker chart I made her…She got one sticker for trying, two for actually going, and three for going potty on her own without the watch alarming. We made her try every 30 minutes for a little over a week, and then after that when it alarmed, I would just ask her, “Do you need to go potty?” She would say yes or no. After about a week of that, we just turned it off.

The Potty Watch+Sticker chart=FINALLY POTTY TRAINED! This week, we are going to start enforcing number two on the potty. She is still in diapers at night and naps, but that is FINE for now.

So, if you have a toddler or preschooler who you think is ready but is still resistant, I highly recommend the potty watch. And no, I am not receiving anything from the potty watch people for recommending their product nor did we get it for free. I just wanted to share how we finally got our daughter to potty train ;)