Shout Free Stain Remover and Giveaway!

December 27, 2011 by  
Filed under Mom Central, Product Reviews

Having kids, equals a big mess, no matter how you think about it, they are not the neatest and cleanest creatures on the planet.  Inevitably, there is always a stain that pops up on their clothes, and it never fails to be the newest shirt that I just bought for them.   Since, I have boys, there is always dirt involved and one of my boys has the habit of wiping his mouth on his shoulder/sleeve which drives me crazy.  By the time I do laundry, it looks like they have been wallowing in the mud for the past week.

I am always doing battle with one stain or another on our clothes, whether it is grape juice stain, spaghetti sauce, grease stain or ink, I am usually always trying something new to get them out.  In addition, myself and my children have pretty sensitive skin and I am usually very cautious and particular about the detergents, I use to wash our clothes.

I am always on the look out to try things that actually work on some of the more set in stains or the surprise stains that pop up in the weekly laundry.  I recently had the opportunity to try Shout Free, and shout products have always been one of my mom’s favorite go to stain removers, so I was interested in giving it a try.  Shout free, appealed to me because  it is dye free, fragrance free, has 99% natural ingredients, and is safe for all your washables.  This way, I don’t have to worry as much about potential skin reactions, and use the same great product to get stains out of our clothes.

The handy spray bottle allows you to effectively cover the stain and cover a wide area of the stain quickly, so you can toss your clothes right in.   So for a week, I served up juices, and spaghetti to put it to the test.  Shout Free took out a grape juice stain, as well as, spaghetti sauce.  It works best if you treat the stain as soon as you notice it or when it happens.   Overall, I was pleased with it, and it doesn’t seem to bother our skin.  The nice part is that I can save some of our clothes that would otherwise be ruined by a permanent stain.  There is nothing more frustrating then getting new clothes for the boys and not being able to remove a stain.

Currently Shout is offering downloadable coupons on their Facebook page for Shout Free and Color Catcher with Oxi!  And to get your stain fighting off to a good start DoubleBugs is giving away a free sample of Shout Free, to two lucky readers.

Here’s What You Gotta Do

Subscribe to my RSS Feed, and Become a fan on the Shout Facebook Page

Extra Entries

Tweet about this giveaway and provide the link to your tweet

Follow Me On Twitter

Contest starts December 27, 2011, and Ends Jan 2, 2011

Open To US residents only

Good Luck!!!

*winners need to respond within 24 hours of being contacted otherwise the prize is forfeited*

 

“I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Shout and received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.”

CollegeAdvantage 529 Give the Gift of the Future This Holiday Season

December 19, 2011 by  
Filed under Product Reviews

The holidays are in full swing and like me, many of you are out searching for the perfect gift to give.  If your kids are like mine, they get spoiled by two sets of grandparents, Santa comes to the house, and they have all their aunts and uncles.  So why not give a thoughtful gift, like the gift of education, designed to benefit families and their children for their future?

Giving the gift of education, is probably one of the most valuable gifts we can give our children and saving for college can be a family’s most daunting task.  The Ohio Tuition Trust Authority  has the perfect gift this season, the CollegeAdvantage 529 plan. CollegeAdvantage, Ohio 529 plan, makes it easy for a family to save for college and offers a choice of investment options from leading fund managers. Funds invested in CollegeAdvantage can be used at any college in the country to pay tuition, fees, books and room and board.  I don,t know about you, but with having twin boys, we are going to need all the help we can get.

Right now, if you open a CollegeAdvantage account with at least $100 by Dec. 31,2011 you will get a $25 bonus contribution to the newly opened account. All you have to do is enter the promo code SAVINGS at sign-up.

FEATURES AND BENEFITS OF A 529 COLLEGE SAVINGS PLAN.

If you ask us, they pretty much speak for themselves.
TAX-FREE WITHDRAWALS

The account grows tax-free. Withdrawals are free from federal and state income tax if used to pay for qualified higher education expenses.
STATE INCOME TAX DEDUCTIBILITY

Contributions to your state’s plan may be eligible for a total or partial deduction on your state income tax return.
REDUCED ESTATE TAX

Generally, the account value isn’t included in anyone’s estate for federal estate tax purposes. State estate taxability varies by state.

INVESTMENT FLEXIBILITY

Generally, you can choose between two types of investments: age-based options (investments change to a more conservative mix as your child nears college) and individual investments (you manage and create your strategy). You can change investments within the plan once each calendar year.
UNLIMITED PARTICIPATION

Under Ohio’s plan, anyone—parent, grandparent, or friend—can own an account or contribute to another’s account for a beneficiary. Some states’ plans allow only the account owner to contribute.
ABILITY TO CHANGE BENEFICIARY

You may transfer the account at any time to a different beneficiary who is an eligible family member of the original beneficiary.
MINIMUM IMPACT ON FEDERAL OR FINANCIAL AID

Funds invested in a 529 plan are considered to be an asset of the account owner. If the parent is the account owner, on average, about 5.64% of the value of the account is considered in determining federal financial aid.
NO INCOME RESTRICTIONS

You may invest in a 529 plan no matter how much you earn.
FLEXIBLE AGE LIMIT

Most plans allow contributions for a beneficiary of any age. Only a few plans have age restrictions.

Ohioans who contribute to a CollegeAdvantage 529 account can also take advantage of the state of Ohio tax deduction for college savings. Up to $2,000 of contributions can be deducted each year per contributor (or married couple), per beneficiary, with unlimited carry forward in future years. Any Ohio taxpayer contributing to a CollegeAdvantage account including grandparents, other family members and friends can also claim the state tax deduction. In addition to the state tax deduction, earnings in a CollegeAdvantage account are free from state and federal income taxes when the funds are used for higher education expenses.

Being a new parent, I had not even heard of CollegeAdvantage, and I have been living here for nearly 17 years. As my husband and I were getting our bills in order, these are the types of things that cross your mind. The boys are only 5, but momentary panic sets in when you realize just how much it will cost to send both of them to college at the same time. With CollegeAdvantage, it makes it a realistic option to actually save up for college without making big adjustments in the family budget. Also, I like that anyone can contribute, so when Christmas, and things like graduations come around, money can be spent on a gift that matters most.

Rather than buying toys that eventually fall apart, why not give the gift of education for Christmas? Now, is the perfect time to get the new niece or nephew in the family started on one of a family’s biggest investments, their child’s future. Families, can quickly open a CollegeAdvantage account by visiting the CollegeAdvantage site.

To help get you on your way, DoubleBugs is happy to offer 3 $100 CollegeAdvantage Savings Plans to help you start saving for your child’s college.  It is never too late to start!

To Enter

Leave a comment why you would like to win and how this would benefit you.

Additional Entries

Become a fan of Ohio’s 529 College Savings Plan on facebook

Tweet about this giveaway and leave the link

Follow me on Twitter

Contest starts December 19, 2011 and Ends January 19, 2011

Winner has 24 hrs to respond or prize is forfeited

Good Luck!

 

**I was compensated for this post all opinions expressed here are that of my own**

 

 

SanDisk Memory Vault Protect Your Valuable Photos Review and Coupon

December 12, 2011 by  
Filed under Blog Tours, Product Reviews

Before I had my children I just dabbled in photography and didn’t particularly take that many photos.  Once they were born, as all new parents do, I felt compelled to snap numerous pictures of the boys each and every day as they grew.  Even though I didn’t have all of them printed, I slowly over time, have acquired thousands of images on my local hard drive and that which we store on our home server as well.  Besides the obvious digital storage options, I have always wanted a place though, to keep them besides just on the home computer.

Our plan was to ultimately burn all our photos on to cds, and make triple copies, sending one to my parents to keep, one to put in a safe and one to just have on a shelf in our home.  That way I would be sure to have copies, no matter what happened.  I am always on the lookout, however, for compact ways to have my most precious memories kept safe without risk of damage and readily available to me if I need to access images.  Let’s face it, cds break, get corrupt, and hard drives fail.  Having a low risk, highly reliable, and compact way to store your pictures has to be the most logical and desirable way to store digital images and video.

But, what if there was a way to store your photos for at least one hundred years, in a compact location, with minimal risk of losing your precious photos?  And what if you didn’t have to rely on your computer’s hard drive to store your digital images and risk them failing?  SanDisk has come up with a way to protect, and store your most important images, and videos for at least 100 years.  The SanDisk Memory Vault is designed for long-term preservation.  All you have to do is connect it to your computer’s USB port and drag-and-drop.

Features

SanDisk Memory Vault features Chronolock™ technology:

  • Engineered to preserve the quality of photos and videos long term
  • Tested to support data retention for up to 100 years*
  • Physically designed for long-term reliability and durability

*For more information, see www.sandisk.com/preserve
1 gigabyte (GB) = 1 billion bytes. Some capacity not available for data storage.

Additional Info

Minimum System Requirements

  • Windows® XP, Windows Vista®, Windows® 7 and Mac OS® X v10.4.11 or above
  • USB 2.0 high-speed connector

Package Contents

  • SanDisk Memory Vault
  • USB 2.0 transfer cable
  • Quick start guide
  • Writable labels
  • Storage pouch

With as many pictures as I take, the SanDisk Memory Vault is very useful.  I also like the designated place that they have for a label which is provided with the Memory Vault and the handy little storage pouch.  I was sent the 16GB SanDisk Memory Vault for review and I found that I am going to need a whole lot more space than what is available on it.  I take so many pictures that it was full in the first twenty minutes of transfer.  Currently, the SanDisk Memory Vault retails for a whopping $90, which personally I feel is a tad on the steep end for a flash drive like device with some added technology.  I would like to see a much larger storage capacity at that price range.   Putting the price aside, I feel like it is a really nifty little device and has a potential to be a a really great go to device for the future of photo storage.  I would like to see this with more storage capacity and for organization sake a place like storage box in which I could slide the SanDiskMemory Vaults into it, with the labels visible within the box.  The SanDisk Memory Vault is a great forerunner in the future of digital memory protection and storage options.

If you are looking for a great way to preserve your treasured photos and memories, the SanDisk Memory Vault would make a great stocking stuffer or gift for an avid photographer or just a special person in your family. DoubleBugs would like to offer a 20% discount to the first four people to email me at laurie@doublebugs.com. The coupon is good for one discount and can only be used at the SanDisk online store (http://shop.sandisk.com) and expires December 31, 2011 at 12am EST.  Keep your memories safe with the SanDisk Memory Vault.

 

“I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of SanDisk and received a product sample to facilitate my review, and coupons to giveaway.”

Hickory Farms Perfect Gifts For This Holiday Season

December 9, 2011 by  
Filed under Food & Recipes, Mom Central, Product Reviews

Christmas is in full swing at our house,  the tree is up, shopping is being done, and I am busy checking off my list of people that we have to buy for.  The kids are easy, because toys are usually at the top of their list for Santa to bring.  But I always seem to get stuck when it comes to getting things for the adults in the family.  I always struggle with gift ideas.  What do you buy for people who seem to have everything, who give you very vague ideas as to what they could want, and who tell you they want nothing but you insist on buying something for?

We recently received a wonderful Hickory Farms Gift basket, stuffed with yummy summer sausage, and smoked cheeses and we have already been enjoying its contents.  Hickory Farms, is one of my favorite go to gifts during the holidays.  I have loved Hickory Farms since I very little and remember when my Mom would bring home a gift basket from them, or we would buy some of their famous beef summer sausage and cheeses.  I have fond memories of the strawberry bon bons that they used to place in between all the wonderful tasting food goodies within the basket.  For us, our traditions would often involve a family movie night, and we would slice up the sausage and cheeses, and crab the crackers.

Every year around this time Hickory Farms sets up shop in our local mall and I always love to stop and get a few things for our travels back home.  My parents are always delighted to get Hickory Farms goodies, and the tiny mint meltaways are one of my mom’s favorite treats.

So, when it comes to giving, I like to give Hickory Farms.  There is something for everyone and you cannot go wrong with food.  It is a perfect general gift that can be given to family and friends and something that everyone can enjoy.   Hickory Farms has a wide selection of signature sausages and savory cheeses that are always packaged so pretty.

And, to kick off the holiday gift giving season, Hickory Farms will donate $5 from each Party Planner gift box sold to Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign, a national nonprofit that is working to end childhood hunger in America. In addition, Hickory Farms provides free shipping on select products to APO/FPO military addresses across the globe, allowing loved ones overseas to share in holiday traditions.   I love when companies incorporate good causes into the items that they are selling and  Hickory Farms products taste so yummy, that it makes it easy to buy. Right now you can have Hickory Farms delivered right to your door in 3 days for just $3!

So if you are stumped as to what to buy family and friends and you don’t want to give them something they might not like.  Hickory Farms has some tasty gifts for everyone.

 

 

**“I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Hickory Farms and received a product sample to facilitate my review.”**

 

Rockboard Scooter Review and Giveaway!

December 7, 2011 by  
Filed under Featured, Product Reviews

If you have kids and you have a garage, it might look a lot like mine.  We have about twelve different things with wheels on it, and every outdoor play thing known to mankind.  I didn’t have half of the things, I see kids with today, and sheepishly I admit that I would even like to have some of them.

Scooters seem to be a big deal in our neighborhood, I have seen motorized scooters, scooters with three wheels, my boys have scooters that spark, and I’ve even seen those ripstick things that look like anyone would break their neck on.  I think as a parent we are always kept informed by our children of the newest, latest and greatest toys out there.

Recently, we were given the opportunity to review the Rockboard Scooter, and the boys were absolutely excited to get this and try it out.  It was not like any other scooter that I had seen roaming about the sidewalks and streets in our neighborhood.  At first when we took it out of the box, the size seemed a little intimidating to me, but I couldn’t get it set up fast enough for my two before they were up and rockboarding away.

Firstly, there was absolutely no assembly required other than unfolding it and adjusting the handlebar height to fit the boys.  We were sent the full size Rockboard for them.  The recommended age on it is 8 and up with a 200lb weight limit.  They make a Rockboard mini for children ages 5 and up with a 90lb weight limit.  Despite the boys being 5, the full size Rockboard was perfect for them to handle.  I was a tad nervous at first when they got on it, but they made it look easy. Your child does have to have a sense of balance to ride this scooter.

The scooter is propelled forward by your child rocking the main step platform back and forth with their feet.  I had a slight heart attack at how fast they can get this thing moving, but thankfully it comes equipped with a brake on the handle bar.  In my nervous mom voice, and probably for my own sake, I had to continually remind them to brake, but they had the hang of it before I really had to say much, they quickly retorted “I know Mommmm” in the voice of a teenager in a five year old’s body.  The Rockboard also doubles as a regular scooter, you simple lock the platform back into place and off you go. It comes equipped with a kick stand as well, which I really like, this way the scooter isn’t getting tossed to the ground.

Product Features

  • 2-in-1 scooter that combines shredding scooter with kick scooter
  • Advanced Rockboard propulsion technology with steel power-drive chain
  • Rear spring-enhanced suspension creates smooth ride on unforgiving pavement
  • Nylon-reinforced spokes and super-tough urethane wheels
  • Folds for easy storage; adjusts from 36 to 46.5 inches tall; 90-day warranty

Specifications

  • Wheel base: 27 inches (rock mode); 29 inches (kick mode)
  • Handlebar height: 36 to 46.5 inches (adjustable)
  • Curb weight: 20.8 pounds
  • Maximum weight: 200 pounds
  • Warranty: 90 days

One thing in particular, that I did notice, is that over time with braking repeatedly, you could possibly need replacement urethane wheels. Since we haven’t had it that long that may or may not be an issue. All in all we really like it, and it drew quite the crowd when we got it out. The boys liked the fact that it could “race” really fast as they say, and it also appealed to the older kids 9, 11, and 12 that decided to take it for a spin as well. It is now one of my boys favorite things to get out when they want to play.

This would be a great scooter for younger and older kids alike. It deviates from the standard looking scooter and it is pretty cool how it gets around. The Rockboard scooter retails for right around $200 which may be a little pricey for some but you can find it at Target, Amazon or even Toys R Us.

Would you like to see your kid rocking the neighborhood? To help you with your holiday shopping and to give you a chance to get your special someone a really cool and totally rocking scooter, Rockboard was kind enough to give one DoubleBug’s reader a chance to win their very own full size Rockboard Scooter!.

Here’s What You Gotta Do
(Mandatory) Leave a comment and tell me why you want to win

Additional Entries

Tweet about this giveaway and leave the link to your tweet

Follow me on Twitter @Laurie2008

Open to US Residents Only

Giveaway starts December 7, 2011, and Ends December 14, 2011

Good Luck!!!

 

**A Rockboard Scooter was provided in order to facilitate my review, the opinions voiced in this post are my own.**

Family Movie Night Game Of Your Life December 2nd on NBC!

November 29, 2011 by  
Filed under Mom Central, Product Reviews

Teaching our kids to make the right choices is something that you hope to instill in them before they go off on their own.  Life is full of lessons, that we either learn the easy way or sometimes the hard way.  It is hard to watch your children do this, but often times these are things that help them in the end.

At least once a week we watch movies or a show together as a family.  Some of my favorite shows to watch are the ones that involve life’s valuable lessons with examples that kids today can relate to.  Periodically, P&G and Wal-Mart offer Family Movie Night, and I have been pleasantly surprised by their wholesome quality.  Their newest movie, Game of Your Life, premieres December 2at 8/7c on NBC.  I love the wholesome content of the movies offered, and I feel like I don’t have to shield my child’s ears or eyes when we are watching.  It also has valuable lessons, that can open up good conversations after the movie about the story, and the lessons learned.  My boys are only 5 but no matter what they got from the movie you can incorporate lessons learned.  Game of Your Life, was a good story with a great ending and I loved the movie as always.

What the movie is about

When Zach Taylor heads to an elite video game design program his future takes a promising turn.  First he must survive the good ole freshman year and make the cut after the first three months.

Teamed up with determined group leader Sara, his roommates, Donald and Phillip, the four set out to involve the entire campus  in a new social interactive game of making choices. At the height of their new project development Zach learns that his father Billy, is  facing growing debt and financial problems back home. Worried and desperate  to help his Dad and not lose the only home he has known, Zach accepts an opportunity to work directly with Marcus Bentton on the side which is against policy at the school. His new secretive project has Zach falling asleep in classes and falling behind on the team project. which he should be devoting to the project. Struggling to keep it together, Zach is torn between his responsibility to his team, his admiration for Bentton and a chance to help his father.

Everything comes undone when Zach’s teammate threatens to remove him from the group the  truth behind Bentton’s secret project comes to light. With the help of his  Professor Abbie Lambert, Zach must make a decision that will impact his family and those around him.


Game of Your Life, premieres December 2at 8/7c on NBC. So grab some popcorn and your kids, curl up in your pjs and watch a movie that you all can watch. You can check out the Family Movie Night webpage to see previous movie offerings and read about the current movie and become a fan on Family Movie Night’s facebook page.

 

 

“I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of P&G and received a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.”

Healthy Choice Top Chef Inspired Café Steamers

November 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Product Reviews

Lately, I have been on a mission to create a healthier lifestyle for myself and trying to lose some of the weight I have put on over the years.  As a busy mom to twins, it is sometimes hard to incorporate exercise and healthy meals into my daily schedule, especially when the boys typically want something that is a little higher on the calorie count list than I want.

I am always on the look out for things that I can make relatively quick, so I am not making two separate meals for the family and myself.  I tend to make healthier decisions for all of as a whole, but I don’t want to deny everyone the things that they love for the expense of my personal weight loss endeavor.  I recently had the opportunity to try Healthy  Choice Top Chef Inspired Café Steamers.  I am not a huge frozen dinner/lunch type girl.  I typically like fresher selections, and meals that I have to prepare, and haven’t found too many frozen meals that I actually enjoy and would say that I would eat them again.

I tried Healthy Choice’s Chicken Margherita with Balsamic (chicken tenderloins with angel hair pasta, roasted garlic, and tomatoes in a balsamic vinaigrette sauce).  You pop the meal in the microwave for three and a half to four and a half  minutes, without having to cut the film to vent.  Once the meal is done you take off the film cover and you see the bulk of the meal sitting in the top portion.  The top bowl gets removed and dumped into the main bowl with the sauce and you mix it up and wahlah!

The taste was pretty  yummy and flavorful, although I felt like it lacked in the chicken department a little.  The picture on the front showed much more chicken than what was actually there.  I think there were only two good sized pieces and the rest was pasta.  I let the boys give it a try and they seemed to like the taste as well.  Overall, I actually liked Healthy Choice’s Chicken Margherita with Balsamic  well enough to have it on occasion when I don’t have time to throw something together, but hopefully there is a little more chicken in the next one I try.    I liked the fact that I didn’t have to vent the cover, and it was pretty much no fuss.  I haven’t had the chance to try some of the other varieties but the Chicken Linguini with Red Pepper Alfredo looks pretty good too!

About Healthy Choice Top Chef Inspired Café Steamers

bringing an all-star lineup of bold, modern and exciting flavors to give you exactly what you want – food that is both healthy and delicious.

- The line of great-tasting dishes features quality ingredients such as slow roasted garlic, asparagus and grilled eggplant.

- The unique steaming technology separates the sauce from the rest of the entrée to steam the meal in the microwave, allowing for crisp vegetables, tender meats and al dente pastas.

- The exclusive new line includes eight delicious varieties that utilize proprietary steaming technology that produces a fresh-tasting meal in minutes.

Varieties include:

Barbeque Seasoned Steak with Red Potatoes
Chicken Fresca with Chardonnay
Chicken Linguini with Red Pepper Alfredo
Chicken Margherita with Balsamic
Grilled Chicken Marinara with Parmesan
Grilled Chicken Pesto with Vegetables
Grilled Vegetables Mediterranean with Rice
Roasted Chicken Marsala with Mushrooms

- The packaging features a Top Chef mark, along with a description on why each entrée is inspired by Top Chef.

Healthy Choice Top Chef Inspired Café Steamers sell for a suggested retail price of $2.75 – $3.50 which is not bad for a meal these days. In fact, I would probably spend more at a drive through that doesn’t have remotely anything healthy. They are perfect to bring to work, or just to have a meal that you don’t have to slave over. For more information, you can visit the Healthy Choice Website. You can also Follow Healthy Choice on Twitter @Healthy_Choice or visit the Healthy Choice facebook page!

 

**This is a sponsored post, samples were provided to me to facilitate my review  in conjunction with Healthy Choice and The Motherhood**

Premature Awareness Day and RSV Prevention

November 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Mom Central, Product Reviews

More than half a million American babies are born prematurely each year.  When I was pregnant with the twins, I was aware of the increased risk of complications of carrying multiples.  At 19 weeks into my pregnancy, a relatively uneventful pregnancy became a scary one.  I was placed on bed rest and hospitalized at 25 weeks for premature labor.  I was able to maintain the pregnancy till about 34.5 weeks, when my water broke and the boys were born nearly six weeks early.

Being a new parent is scary enough, but you never even think of or are prepared for the special medical care that your babies may require if they come early.  Even though the boys were a healthy 5lbs each, they still spent close to three weeks in the NICU with breathing issues and learning how to eat, swallow and breathe at the same time, as well as, maintain their body temperatures.  According, to a March of Dimes survey,  most expecting parents don’t discuss preterm birth with their doctor during prenatal care, even if they are at high risk and even though I went to a high risk doctor, we didn’t particularly discuss the possibilities in depth.

November 17th is World Prematurity Day and a great way to help spread awareness to existing parents, new parents and soon to be. Nearly every baby contracts respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) by age two. In most full-term babies, symptoms are similar to those of the common cold and parents may not even know their child has the virus. However, because they don’t have the antibodies needed to fight off infection, preterm infants—even those born just a few weeks early—are at increased risk for developing an RSV-related infection, often requiring medical attention or hospitalization.  One of my sons had a great deal of difficulty with RSV and today he has to have breathing treatments and he has a lot of trouble when he gets a respiratory illness.

RSV Quick Facts:

  • RSV is the leading cause of infant hospitalization, responsible for more than 125,000 hospitalizations and up to 500 infant deaths each year.
  • RSV occurs in epidemics each fall through spring. The CDC has defined “RSV season” as beginning in November and lasting through March for most parts of North America.
  • Certain regions have longer RSV seasons than others, with the season beginning as early as July (e.g., Florida) or ending in April.
  • Despite its prevalence, one-third of mothers have never heard of RSV.

Prevention is Key:
There is no treatment for RSV, so it’s important for parents to take the following preventive steps to help protect their child:
• Wash hands, toys, bedding, and play areas frequently
• Ensure you, your family, and any visitors in your home wash their hands or use hand sanitizer
• Avoid large crowds and people who may be sick
• Never let anyone smoke near your baby
• Speak with your child’s doctor if you believe he or she may be at high risk for RSV, as a preventive therapy may be available

Be Aware of Symptoms:
Contact your child’s pediatrician immediately if your child exhibits one or more of the following:
• Persistent coughing or wheezing
• Rapid, difficult, or gasping breaths
• Blue color on the lips, mouth, or under the fingernails
• High fever
• Extreme fatigue
• Difficulty feeding

I think that this is so important, especially for new parents. Many doctors may not share these possibilities to avoid stressing parents out  but I am a firm believer that knowledge is power and keeping parents informed can go a long way in preventing RSV. I know how scary breathing issues can be and even though you don’t want to face the possibilities of having a premature infant or a sick child, it is easier to face if you know something about it before hand. The RSV Protection site is a great resource for you or someone who is expecting.  We can’t control if a baby is coming early in most cases but we can give them a leg up by knowing what to expect.

 

“I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of MedImmune and received a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.”

VTech DS6421-3 Cordless Phone

November 21, 2011 by  
Filed under Blog Tours, Featured, Mom Central, Product Reviews

This one time (recently), our cordless phone was left on the bumper of the car (whoops!), and my husband, took it for a little drive where it spent the night lonely on the side of the road in the rain.  It still worked sort of, but no one could hear me when I talked. It’s been a long time since I’ve paid much attention to cordless telephones.  If you’re anything like me, you look at a cordless phone and think “hey, it’s just a phone, what’s the difference?”.  Thanks to VTech, I’ve had a chance to play around with a new modern “digital answering system”, the DS6421-3.  Apparently there’s a lot of difference between cordless phone systems nowadays, a lot has changed over the past 5+ years.

First, here’s what’s in the box, neatly packaged:

  • Quickstart guides, user’s manual
  • Wall mount bracket
  • 3 cordless phones (handsets) with batteries
  • 1 base station with power adapter and phone cable
  • 2 charging cradles with power adapters

Specs

I won’t go into all the detailed specs here as part of this review, you can find the complete listing on the VTech DS6421-3 site here.  This set of phones operates on the DECT 6.0 standard.  That means it uses the 1.9 GHz frequency and it won’t interfere with your wireless network (home wifi equipment  that generally uses 2.4 and/or 5 Ghz frequency).   Another feature that comes in handy is the “Connect To Cell” technology.  Connect to cell means you can use both your cell line and your landline with this set, easily switching between the two.   The VTech DS6421-3 also includes “Push To Talk” technology so you can use the sets like walkie-talkies.  Overall, the features are pretty impressive, equaling those of some of the more expensive high-end sets on the market.

Installation

Installing the phone is as easy as can be.  You just have to figure out where you want to put the base station and plug the included phone cord into a phone outlet.  You can easily mount the base on the wall with the included wall mount bracket if you want, but I preferred to have mine on the counter.  The batteries included with the handsets come pre-charged, so you just plug them in and the ‘base’ automatically recognizes each handset and configures it.  One handset sits in the cradle as part of the base, the other two handsets can be placed anywhere you like, just plug each of the charger cradles into any available outlet.

Using the DS6421-3

Once you set up the base and cradles, you’re ready to start using the phones.  The VTech DS6421-3 does everything you’d expect from a good cordless phone set.  The handsets themselves are very sleek, fit comfortably in your hand and feel well-built.  The back lighting is good, the screens on the handsets are crystal clear and easy to read.  So far everyone I have talked to sounds crystal clear. Each cordless phone has caller ID, functions as a speakerphone, and the base has an indicator on it that tells you how many voicemails (if any) are recorded.  You can also screen calls right on each handset – just hit the “screen” button  and you can listen to the person leaving the message on the handset speakerphone.  I love not having to get up to hear who is calling.   Another feature I found myself using frequently is the ability to listen to recorded messages from any of the handsets.  Just use the menu to select “play messages”, and listen to the voicemails on whatever handset you have available.

There’s nothing more annoying than having your cordless phone run out of  battery all the time.  The VTech DS6421-3  features very long battery life.  I used the cordless phones for hours and didn’t have to charge  them for at least a week.  I was very impressed with the battery life and I had no low battery sounds beeping in my ear mid conversation.

Another, aspect of cordless phones is their range of use.  I am often on the phone and going out to the mailbox and prefer not to lose connection.  You want something that will let you walk anywhere in the house without interference, as well as short distances like your driveway.  I was able to use the cordless sets throughout the house, outside the house all the way to the street in front of the house with no problems.  VTech lists the range as “up to 500 feet”, which is probably only feasible under the most perfect conditions, but the range on these were great.

The 3 handsets in this set are identical.  They operate using a very simple menu, it didn’t take long at all to figure out how everything worked without even opening the manual.  The menu is operated using a left / right select buttons along with a round disk .  The menu options are straight forward, you can customize pretty much everything from the ring tones to the ringer volume to the number of rings it takes before the answering machine picks up.  You can also set a name label for each handset so you know where each one goes.  This feature is perfect for when you want to use the “push to talk” functionality.   Picking up the phone and pushing the button for “Kitchen” or “Basement” makes a lot more sense then trying to remember where “handset #1” is located.

One thing I really liked about the phones is that when someone calls each set it speaks the name/caller id of the caller.  You don’t have to look at the phone or base to know who’s calling, which is very handy for easy screening of calls.  For me this is more fun than anything, because at first I had some trouble recognizing the pronunciations. The DS6421-3 also has “equalizer” functionality to optimize the sound quality of your phone calls.  I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine ever needing to use an equalizer to fine tune the sound on my mono phone handheld…. But hey, it can’t hurt, it’s a nice touch they threw in!

 

Connect To Cell

The “connect to cell” functionality is one of the features relatively new to the cordless phone market.  Basically, it allows you to integrate your cell phone(s) and your landline together into one seamless phone system.  it works like this:  you “pair” up to two cell phones to the DS6421 base, using Bluetooth connectivity.  That means the paired phone just has to be somewhere near the base (in the same room generally) to be connected to the DS6421 base.  Once paired, the base will treat the paired cell phone as another “line” in addition to your land line.   You can receive incoming calls from your cell phone(s) on your cordless phone the same way you would incoming calls on the land line.  Different ring tones indicate whether the call is on the landline or on the cell.

This is an excellent feature for those with a cell phone with Bluetooth.  When you come home, just put your cell phone in the same room as the DS6421 base, plug it in to charge the battery, and you’ll be able to make and receive calls using your cell or your landline with the simple click of a button.   Click the “cell” button, and you receive or make a call using your cell phone.  Click the “home” button, and you receive or make a call using your landline.  Since you can pair two cell phones, two people living in a home cold both have their phones paired, and both use the same set of cordless phones to access either the landline or the cell phone.

One important note to the landline/cell phone functionality is that you only need to have one or the other to use the system.  If you have both cell phone(s) and a landline, the DS6421-3  integrates them perfectly… but you can use the VTech DS6421-3 without having a landline at all, great for those who are thinking of getting rid of their land line and just using cell phones.  With this system you get the best of both worlds, a nice handset with great range and coverage while your cell phone is charging.   For example, you could use your cell phone for free long distance if your landline doesn’t have free long distance.

Another great feature of the connect to cell technology is that the DS6421 phone system can copy your contacts from your cell phone(s) to the cordless phone system.  That makes the issue of having someone’s info on your cell but not your home phone a thing of the past.

You can also connect Bluetooth headsets to the DS6421 for easy hands-free calling in your house.  I found this feature somewhat less than useful since you are limited to a relatively small area around the base of the phone system.  You can’t use the Bluetooth headset and wander off to the other side of the house while on the phone, the Bluetooth signal will get disconnected.  Still, it’s a nice option to have if you need to be on the phone a lot and want an easy hands-free setup.

Expansion

The DS6421-3 can be expanded to up to 12 handsets, although who needs 12 handsets?  I found that the three provided were more than enough and felt like I had phones laying around everywhere.

In conclusion, I really like the VTech DS6421-3.

Pros: great feature set, great look and feel, cell/landline integration, phone contact copying, expandability, long battery life, ease of setup and use, overall value.

Cons: inability to set ringer volume for each handset, ringer options have to be set for all handsets at the same time.

Overall, I was thoroughly impressed by the VTech DS6421-3.  It was easy to set up, works great, integrates the land line with the cell phones seamlessly, and does everything at a very reasonable price (less than $100 last I looked).  That’s a great bargain! I’d recommend this set to anyone who’s in the market for a new cordless phone system.  You can save a few dollars by getting a “no frills” cordless phone set, but you’d miss out on a lot of great features and functionality for relatively small savings.  The bottom line: The VTech DS6421-3 is a really great phone for the home.

 

**I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of VTech and received a product sample to facilitate my review.  All of the opinions I have expressed here are my own.**

Cheerios Cheer Sending Words Of Cheer This Holiday Season

November 15, 2011 by  
Filed under Blog Tours, Mom Central, Product Reviews

With the age of the internet, most things we do, even the mail we send is often via the computer. I sometimes miss the days when someone would just send me a handwritten letter. There is something special about receiving a note of encouragement or just a thank you in your mailbox outside. I believe it to be much more meaningful and a heartfelt expression to a special person or even a complete stranger.

I know a lot of military families that I have met either online or just friends and acquaintances. I know that sending their loved ones overseas for months and even years at a time cannot be something that is easy. Many of their spouses are back at home taking care of the family, paying the bills, and holding the household together. I think being in the military is a huge monumental sacrifice to take care of the American people and I think the families involved make just as many sacrifices by giving up their loved ones to go protect our country. I can imagine that it can be a huge emotional taxing on families, and often times it’s nice to be able to hear kind uplifting messages to help get you through each passing day.

To help spread these messages, Cheerios has started a wonderful campaign. Cheerios and the USO have launched “Cheer,” a postcard campaign that spreads cheer directly to these honorable military families and supports USO programs. During the months of October and November, 2011, specially-marked boxes of Cheerios cereal will feature Cheer postcards on the front of the box. You and your family, can out the postcard, write a message of thanks, let the kids make a drawing, or write words of encouragement. Then, all you have to do is, add a stamp, and mail the pre-addressed card to the USO. The USO will then deliver the Cheer card to military families across the country!

And, along with that, Cheerios will donate $1 to the USO for every postcard that is mailed and received by November, 30, 2011. Cheerios has already donated $150,000 to the USO, and will donate up to an additional $100,000 based upon the number of postcards received. Your participation is needed to reach this goal and who doesn’t love cheerios?  So stock up on a few boxes, and mail some wonderful words of thanks and encouragement to these families who are making big sacrifices each day.

 

**I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Cheerios and received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to post.**

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