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Thank you to LeapFrog for sponsoring this review. For more information about the LeapFrog Animal Adventure Learning Table, please visit their website. #LFAnimalAdv #spon

One of the things that drives me craziest about kids toys is not the whole gendered toy thing – I mean, my daughter LOVES pink and her name is Amelia which means that a pink airplane? Pretty freakin’ rad. So while I could go on about that – my mother would approve heartily of me bashing gendered stereotypes – it’s not something I think about terribly often.

No. That’s not what bugs me.

What bugs me about kid’s toys is that they’re aged all wrong.

Sure, they may be labeled as “appropriate for ages 6 months to three years,” (in compliance with the whole, “let’s not let your kids choke on stuff-n-things”) but really, my five year old is going to have a TON more fun with a toy designed for a toddler than a toddler will. He’s the one who can read and write and sing along to whatever annoying song the toy sings, which by the by, is another thing that annoys me – those freakin’ things go off in the middle of the damn night, nearly causing me to pee the bed as a discombobulated voice asks me if I’m “ready to count now?”

Freaky crap, Pranksters.

Anyway.

LeapFrog, who happens to be one of my most favorite toy manufacturers (besides Legos, because, well, the kids are OBSESSED with Legos) ever, sent me an Animal Adventure Learning Table, which was rad, because then my kids had something new to play with at Mom’s house. New (or used), in kid eyes, always equals better. This was no different.

the kids are alright

(totally note the boxes behind her – I wasn’t quite done unpacking. That’s a job for THIS weekend)

Like other LeapFrog toys (of which I’ve owned plenty)(no, not for myself)(weird, I know), it’s a nice sturdy toy, that, to be honest, I’m thankful because my children are now old enough to enjoy it. While it would make a fabulous thing for me to stub my toes on while a toddler used it to practice standing, puking and walking, it’s much better suited for older kids. Kinda like that kid’s Blackberry I bought Alex back when I was a Blackberry Widow, which bored him to tears then, but now, finds it wildly entertaining.

She played with the thing for at least twenty minutes, which is practically an eternity for a three year old, and honestly? The noises it makes are kinda soothing and not nearly as grating as some of the toys the kids’ve been given over the years. (note to self: buy new parent friends THE MOST ANNOYING SOUNDING TOYS EVER) Alex was similarly impressed, although he was busily playing Batman, which is his new favorite game. Just WAIT until you hear what his decisions about what we all have to be for Halloween – it’s both hilarious and full of the awesome.

Love that kid.

And while the nights (when the kids are at Dad’s house) are lonesome, the apartment filled with no pattering of wee footsteps, I know one thing and I know it well.

The kids? They’re gonna be alright.

I carry that thought with me all day long.

I was selected for this opportunity as a compensated member of Clever Girls Collective and received free product from LeapFrog to review.

The content and opinions expressed here are all my own. #LFAnimalAdventures #spon

One of the weirdest things I was stressed out about was not my decided lack of coffee mugs or my inability to properly assemble furniture, but the idea that I’d have to somehow get Teh Internetz into my new place. It’s not that I can’t make phone calls or decisions – if I ruled the world, I’d make texting illegal, and not just while driving, though it baffles me that people actually DO that, but because text conversations remind me of the notes I passed in high school, sitting in the back row with the Metal Heads. I’d prefer a phone call most days.

Anyway.

I was terrified of dealing with Comcast in the same way I loathe dealing with Jiffy Lube. Because I’m not smart enough properly know whether or not my air filter needs changing, for example, I’ll listen to them, have it done, and then realize that I’ve just dropped 40 bucks on some bullshit thing I don’t actually need, only to Rage Against (not, I should clarify, LOUNGE Against) The Machine, because being duped by the Jiffy Lube guys makes me want to taco punch both Captain and Tennile (which, frankly, is the way I feel most of the time) AT THE SAME TIME.

I figured that dealing with Comcast would be similar, our phone call something like:

Becky: “Hi, I need to set up new internet in my apartment.”

Comcast: “For that you’re going to need the Linux box modem coupled with Windows 92, plus a router box made by a Scandinavian company that starts with the letter C.”

Becky: “I just want the email box to make emails for me.”

Comcast (smelling a sucker): “Well, if I upgrade you, at a cost of 92,748,272 dollars a month, your “email box” will work.”

Becky: “Um.”

Comcast: “I’ll set you up with an appointment for next Tuesday between 1AM and 8PM.”

Becky: “Um, oooookay.”

comcast

I fretted awhile before I called them, first because I’d just gotten another NEW apartment number and wanted my keys to ensure I’d actually be living in aforementioned apartment rather than kindly hooking up the cable for another tenant, but by Tuesday of last week, I realized it was time – I’d be moving and I need an email box to do “work,” and Comcast, well, after my inability to make OR receive phone calls using AT&T’s network, was the best option, which made me die a little inside.

Besides, Comcast SAYS they care about me. ME!

I was delighted to see that I’d be able to do the whole thing online. Because while texting is bullshit, being able to take care of shit without the pressure salesperson is like a lil slice of heaven. I even managed to get all the way to the point where I was to chat with an online representative without needing a nap to continue.

Comcast Robot: “So you want to have XYZ set up in your new apartment at (address).”

Becky: “Yeppers.”

Comcast Robot: “You can’t.”

Becky: “…”

Comcast Robot: “The former tenant put his account on hold so he could keep his email address. We can’t hook up two lines to the same apartment.”

Becky: “Wait – he wants a COMCAST email? What about GMAIL? It’s FREE! Shit, I’ll give him one of my zillion addresses.”

Comcast Robot: “You’re going to have to go to the business office and show them a copy of the lease proving you live there now.”

Becky: “Um. Why can’t I scan it and email it to you?”

Comcast Robot: “Good Day.”

I closed the chat window, fuming. I still had a boatload of packing, not to mention a couple of saved videos of cats playing the piano to watch. I decidedly did NOT need to be driving an hour to show Comcast that I, in fact, was the new tenant. Instead of throwing things around or kicking the box fan, I put on my “fuck shit up” pants and drove over to the apartment complex.

When I informed the lady at the desk that I was, in fact, going to need thirty-seven types of proof that I’d be living here, she goggled at me, which was approximately the same response I got whenever from the rest of the world. “Woah,” she said. “That’s nuts. I’ve worked here 7 years and NEVER seen anything like it.”

I nodded, unhappily, clutching a ream of papers on official letterheads that all claimed that I was, in fact, going to be moving into the apartment on October 1.

Driving out to Comcast’s business center was fine, excepting the whole, “this road is closed” thing going on in front of their business office. I ignored all signs, crossed my fingers and drove on it anyway – I needed my email box to work. The woman behind the counter was nice enough, I guess, although she said maybe ten words to me the entire time, including the fateful, “do you want me to set this up for you?”

“Nope,” I replied breezily. “I’ll do it online.”

And like that, I sealed my fate.

Back home an hour later, I tried, once again, to order Comcast online. The conversation was identical to the first, and ended with, “let me look into this and call you back,” which, of course, never happened. Robots, man, they’re unreliable.

The following day, between packing and trying to find my keys, I decided it was time to put an end to the bullshit and call Comcast for the 8,373 time, hoping this time I’d actually manage to find the one person who had more than two brain cells knocking around their skull.

A funny thing happened.

I did.

After dealing with Comcast for three days, I finally found someone with properly firing synapses. Quickly she disconnected the previous account and set me up with my own account, even managing to get me an install on Saturday, the day I’d rented the U-Haul and planned to finish moving. She was so kind that I actually began crying on the phone with her, which got HER crying, and we both ended up a soupy mess, which these days, not as uncommon as I’d like.

And now, I have a working email box.

Those damn cat videos have been waiting.

—————

I haz a guest poster here talking about making your own cleaning products. Which, of course, scares the shitnuts out of me.

One of the biggest concerns I’ve had about moving out and away from my kids (since, of course, I cannot pay my home mortgage) has been how they would cope with the change. I mean, I get upset if I find out my favorite brand of socks has been discontinued, so I could only imagine how my kids would feel about their Mama moving out of the house. I talk a good game, but I love my children so fiercely that it’s been barely possible for me to talk about the divorce and the kids without bursting into tears.

Damns. I just burst into tears again. Looks like I’m going to need a new keyboard and now.

I was very careful, when packing my stuffs up and loading my life into a truck, to make sure that the kids would have a place they could feel at home. My new apartment is small, but cozy. It’s been partially decorated, so I can even call it slightly homey (not, as you may expect, “homie.”). Deliberately, I chose a place so near to one of the parks that the path is literally behind my buildings. I may not have the bedroom for the kids (yet), but I do have a space for them to call home.

In that vein, I’ve been careful to snatch up any toys that have been long-forgotten and shoved into bins in the basement formerly known as my own. And I’ve happily accepted any fun stuff the kids might like, while I quickly replaced my kids lovies with as an identical match as I could find. Hey, I’m not above bribing them with toys that are strictly for Mama’s house.

The timing was fortuitous for me as I’d been asked to do a giveaway (after trying the product) for kids from The OrganWise Guys, who promote understanding of how the body works and how to be healthier by following a set of educational games followed by some plush toys. It’s not quite the same as Oregon Trail, but I’m pretty sure my digital kids would be all, “what is UP with that green screen, Mama?” and the anatomy nerd in me, I won’t lie, squeed at the chance to teach my children about anatomy while they learn eating habits so they can grow to become doctors and buy me a house and diamonds and stuff. It’s a little more on-level than the Grey’s Anatomy book I’ve been reading to them since they were babies. And the diamonds? I figure it’s the least they can do to pay me back for those sleepless nights.

Amelia, my wee book nerd, was especially impressed. That girl will read ANYTHING she can get her wee paws on.

the kids are alright

Alex is, well, he’s a dude. Watch. Trust me, it’s… he’s a dude.

And lastly, we unveiled the kidneys, which were much cuter than when I’d dissected them on the A&P slab. THEY’RE EVEN HOLDING HANDS, PRANKSTERS. When I stop dying of the awesome, I’ll let you know.

the kids are alright

(note the matching Capitol Kitty’s in the background – Amelia was especially impressed that she’d managed to put both of her cats together.)

While I’d wanted to play a game with the kidneys, possibly, “hide the kidneys” or, “let’s cuddle with kidneys,” I didn’t. Mostly because the kids both fell asleep inside my sparkly pink ottoman after this shot was taken. Don’t ASK me how. I can barely sleep in a bed, but they’re happy sleeping inside furniture. Kids are weird.

ANYWAY.

So The OrganWise Guys are giving away the very same game to one of my Pranksters. Why? Because they’re awesome.

To enter, leave me a comment telling me what YOU’D do with a pair of plush kidneys.

For additional entries, you may do the following (please leave a comment for each – I’m not too bright):

*Follow me on Pinterest

*Subscribe to my Frugal Living Blog (how to save money at Target is my post today)

*Like my Facebook Page (which I have NO idea what to do with)

*Like Band Back Together’s Facebook Page

I’ll pick a winner (heh) in one week – October 10, which I feel something important is going on, which makes me uneasy, because if there is something, I’ve forgotten it. I’ll also give you one last day at this giveaway before I pick a winner!

Moving totally screwed with my mojo but I’m SO almost done!

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