How To Make It Through Dinnertime With Two Toddlers Unscathed

Things were spiraling fast – food was being thrown on the floor (Benji), people were refusing to eat (Maddie) and everyone was on the verge of mania. A particularly rambunctious dinner time in the Wilhelm household, it was time to pull out my tricks. I sang all of our songs. I promised a fun tubby time. I pitted their eating skills against each other (Benjamin was winning). Finally, I broke out the big guns – a new book!

Daddy FliesDaddy Flies is the sweet story of Katie, a military brat, and her quest to figure out just what her daddy, an airman, does at work all day. Katie wonders across the pages with a darling sense of humor, one that my daughter Maddie (three years old) easily related to. The rhyming prose is effortless, without being too mature. The illustrations are simple but captivating. And when we reached the final page, as she swallowed her final bite of chili, Maddie shouted, “NOW AGAIN!” #winning

Thank you, Brye Butler Steeves, for giving our family a patriotic children’s book that hits close to home without being confusing or hokey (and that gets us through dinner time unscathed)! I can only hope that you make it a series covering all of the military bases (see what I did there)! Daddy Jumps: The story of a proud paratrooper papa, Brye?? Take it and run!!

*A copy of Daddy Flies was provided by the author for review purposes.

Review + Giveaway: Motorola Video Baby Monitor

EDITORS NOTE: (10/3/2014) Giveaway has concluded and winner has been selected.Motorola MBP36With my daughter, Madeline, we used a very basic, sound-only baby monitor. I actually didn’t want to know everything that was going on behind closed doors — I didn’t want to give myself any more reasons to worry or obsess over my baby. And, for the last two years, it has served us well. But after spending last Christmas at my parents’ house and getting to use a super old-school video baby monitor that my sister picked up second-hand, I became a little obsessed with the idea of peeking in on my child after the lights go out.

After doing some preliminary research into video monitors, I was leaning toward investing in a Motorola model because of their great video quality and remote capabilities. To my delight, I was recently given the opportunity to review the Motorola MBP36 Remote Wireless Video Baby Monitor. Read on to find out my thoughts and for your chance to win a Motorola Digital Video Baby Monitor!

The Good:
First thing’s first — this video monitor was so simple to set up, it reminded me of an Apple device. I didn’t need to consult the instructions at all. The camera and monitor came pre-paired, and the buttons and menu on the monitor were extremely intuitive. I had the camera mounted (I hung mine with a small nail high on the wall for the best vantage, but it can also set on a shelf) and the system up and running within minutes of opening the box.Motorola MBP36 Features + In The Box
The monitor fits in the palm of your hand and is almost all “display.” Besides the sizable and very clear 3.5 inch screen (color display in well-lit conditions and infrared in the dark), which also features the wireless connectivity, temperature, battery life and noise level, there are eight function buttons. Four buttons allow you to pan the camera/select menu options (up, down, left and right), and there is a button to access the menu, an “OK” button (to select menu options), a display button (to activate the video display) and a microphone button (to communicate via the camera aka talk to the baby). This last feature I think is super cool for when you have a new baby, to be able to respond to/coach/reassure your co-parent in the room with said nugget. But I wouldn’t dare use it with my two year old — I don’t want to risk breaking down the fourth wall.Motorola MBP36 Infared Photo
It’s important to note that the pan function on the actual camera in the baby’s room is very quiet. If my two year old doesn’t notice me scanning around the room looking for her, a smaller baby would not be disturbed by it in the least.

When you pull up the menu, you can adjust the volume, zoom, brightness, temperature reading (a feature I love, since I’m always concerned with the baby being too cold), camera selection (for use with up to four cameras- awesome for parents with more than one little one!) and auto display-shut-off functions (a definite power-saver). You can also set an alarm on the monitor (though I’m not sure why you would) or play up to five different lullabies through the camera into the baby’s room.

When the display is off, the monitor has only one or two small lights that remain lit. This is a huge positive in my book, since I’m quite light-sensitive when I sleep. Plus, you don’t need the display on for the sound to still work, so you should have no trouble hearing baby in the night.

The Bad:
There were, unfortunately, a few annoyances that stood out right away for me…

My main issue, which I fully recognize might not be a problem at all for some, is that there is no way to adjust the voice activation sensitivity or a quiet mode (to remove background white noise). That means I’ve been hearing every sniffle, squeak and squawk my two year old makes, which means I’ve been awakened more in the night than I have been in the last year. With just a sound monitor (sensitivity turned way down), I had NO idea that my daughter talks to herself for almost an hour before finally falling asleep, that she wakes up fairly consistently around 12/1AM and hums herself back to sleep or that she wakes up 30-45 minutes before I thought she did (more humming and talking) — all interruptions to my own sleep that I would have just as soon (and have) done without. My preference is to hear nothing but the REAL cries, especially in the middle of the night. I do take the point, though, that this hyper-noise-sensitive monitor might be better appreciated when used with a tiny baby, rather than a coo coo bird two year old.

In the middle of the night, when I was waking up to my daughter humming, I fumbled hardcore trying to find the right buttons to pull up the display, and then pan and zoom in the dark. I really wish that the buttons were backlit once the display was activated.

The battery life on the monitor runs down way quicker than my sound monitor (which I guess is to be expected), getting about five hours of juice before needing to be plugged in again. But I want to note that I only kept the display on for a few minutes at a time — to check to see if my daughter had fallen asleep yet (for nap and bedtime), to peek in once or twice on her slumber and to see what she was up to when she woke up before getting her (after nap). I was expecting longer life.

A couple very minor issues…

Because I mounted the camera on a side wall, when I’m scanning the room, the image ends up going sideways making me tilt my head or the monitor to see the image properly. I realize I could just remount on the wall directly opposite her bed for better coverage, but instead I’m wishing the stand on the monitor swiveled, allowing it to sit vertically or horizontally on my nightstand.

I wish there was a clip on the monitor so I could attach it to my pocket when I’m moving about the house or outside.

The Ugly:
A $240 price tag is rough no matter how you slice it (though many competitor models are priced similarly). I guess if you’re wanting to see your little love, you have to be willing to pay the piper.

Rating (1-Not Good, 2- Okay, 3- Good, 4-Very Good, 5- AMAZING!):
3.5

I docked points for the lack of sound control (the option to adjust sensitivity and remove background noise) — which appears to have existed in previous models and is definitely present in competitor monitors — and for the display buttons not being back-lit, but, when it comes down to it, you buy this monitor to see your child and the Motorola MBP36 lets you do that really well. The picture quality is great, the remote pan, tilt and zoom options are top notch and some of extra features (the display shut off, the room temperature and two-way communication) all make this a good choice for a video monitor!

Finally, because they love you just as much as I do, the very generous folks at Motorola have agreed to give away a Motorola MBP27T Digital Video Baby Monitor with Integrated Touchless Thermometer to one lucky Keep Calm and Soldier On reader! Enter using the Gleam widget below!

Motorola Digital Video Baby Monitor Giveaway

I want to know what you think! Do you love your video monitor or could you live without it? Was it worth the investment?

*A video baby monitor was provided by Motorola for review purposes.

16 Summer Must-Haves for Moms On the Move + Giveaway!

We moms have got to be ready to GO GO GO this summer. Whether it’s watching our water babies splash in the pool, play dates at the park or cozy nights on the porch reading, I’ve found the only way to surf through the spontaneity of summer is to make sure I’ve taken care of myself first. Behold, my 16 Summer Must-Haves for Moms On the Move- aka the key to my health and sanity this summer:

16 Summer Must-Haves for Moms On the Move

Coola Mosturizing Sunscreen- the best daily facial sunscreen I’ve found since my diagnosis. / Yes To Cucumber Hypoallergenic Facial Towelettes- an easy way to clean and refresh my skin before bed. / Neutrogena Sunscreen- dry-touch is key (don’t forget to reapply every two hours). / Seche Vite Top Coat- a nail care miracle- keeps my mani/pedis looking brand new for weeks! / Essie Fiji- my summer fave for my tootsies. / Lands’ End Extra Large Canvas Tote- this extra large tote fits all of our towels, Maddie’s life jacket, our sunscreen bag, snacks and more. / Albion Fit Go Long Crew- the only shirt I’m wearing on cool summer nights! / Albion Fit Blousy Suit- this suit flatters, baby-bump and all! / Lands’ End Starfish Slim Leg Pants- my favorite comfy pants (stretchy waist is key). / Sanuk Yoga Spree 2 Flip Flop- the best summer flip flop to aid those aching feet. / Lands’ End Dot Beach Towel- big enough for hubby or to wrap around my growing bump (and monogrammable). / Skinnygirl White Cherry Water Enhancer- makes guzzling down 64 oz of H2O a whole lot easier!/ Pure Flavour 2 Go Water Bottle- would you like cucumber with your water? The best bottle for hydration on hot, summer days. / Albion Fit Antigua Floral Rashguard- sun protection meets glamour. / Ralph Lauren Sunglasses- stylish eye-pro. / Chex Chocolate Cereal- my new-found “healthy” treat (it’s better than eating Thin Mints).

Albion Fit has been my go-to summer shopping destination. Need a new swim suit that can accommodate my growing midsection? The Albion Fit’s Blousy Swim Suit (in mint) does that, while maintaining femininity and modesty! Need a cool, nighttime lounge shirt that can accommodate said midsection? Albion Fit’s Go Long Crew (in grey/white) is the softest, comfiest, stretchiest, most forgiving tee I’ve found! Neither are maternity wear, but both garments (in my normal size small) fill that need. Albion Fit makes beautiful, versatile clothing for women (and little girls, too)! I think it’s obvious why the Antigua Floral Rashgaurd is next on my to-buy immediately list, under the convince-my-husband-guise of “I need to protect my skin!”

And because you deserve to experience the awesomeness that is Albion Fit, they’re offering Keep Calm and Soldier On readers the chance to win a $50 Gift Card! Enter now below!

There can only be one winner, but I invite you to take my word for it and dive right in to a new summer wardrobe at AlbionFit.com using this exclusive 15% off discount code: keepcalm15 Offer express June 8, 2014- so don’t delay! You deserve it!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway end Friday, June 6, 2014 at 5:00AM ET. One winner will be randomly selected from all eligible entries and announced Friday, June 6, 2014 on this site. Winner will have 24 hours to claim their prize. If winner does not claim prize within 24 hours, another will be randomly selected. Personal information will not be shared with any third party without permission and is only intended for entry purposes. Good luck!

*A Go Long Crew was provided by Albion Fit for review purposes.