Millennium Mom

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fox Segment June 22

Best Apps for Young Children

A couple of months ago we did the best apps for moms, so we decided to flip things a bit and find the best apps for kids. Whether we like it or not, our smart phones not only serve as a phone and internet connection for us, but also for entertaining, education and endless fun for our children. I researched Parenting magazine, NY Times and other blogs to get their recommendations for the best apps for kids.

1. Educational – essentially any games or educational tool you buy for your children is now available in an app version. Your kids can now learn the alphabet, shapes and words on your phone. They can also begin to learn how to read using phonics and other tools.

Alphabet Animals -Perfect for your talented toddler, this game is packed with colorful animations, animal sounds, and tons of tips for learning their letters. The digital flash cards are interactive, with animals that talk them through every letter of the alphabet. $.99, iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, Ages 4 & up

Super Why: Already a super-fabulous PBS show for the preschool set, Super Why! takes your child's fave characters and delivers a bunch of games where the alphabet, rhyming, spelling, writing and reading are all rolled out in fun ways. The catchy theme song will surely be playing in your head at 2am. $2.99, iPad, iPhone, Ages 3-6

iTot Toddler Flashcards - Just like traditional flashcards, iTot Toddler Flashcards teach the names of animals, foods, and other objects, as well as the alphabet and numbers. You'll get hundreds of beautiful cards in this simple application. And with language support, iTot Cards can teach these words in French and Spanish, too! $.99, iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, Ages 1-4

Toddler Teasers: Shapes - Created by a real mom and dad searching for ways to occupy their own 2 year old, Toddler Teasers Shapes quizzes tots on the basics. Kids are told which shape to touch, and after four correct answers, they're rewarded with a virtual sticker. And if they push the square instead of the circle? They'll still learn as they go by hearing the name of the wrong shape and guessing again. Free, iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, Ages 2-4

ABC Phonics Animals Free Lite- Parents are always right and ABC Phonics Animals Lite is another piece of evidence of this claim. This application was developed by parents who focused on ABC phonetics, spelling, reading and sounds with their own children. ABC Phonics Animals enables parents to interact with their children through flash cards to enhance quick learning

2. Musical and Artistic – If your child is more right brained and has the creative juices flowing, try these great apps that teach beginner piano and let’s your kids record their own pieces. Or scribble light which is the modern etch-a-sketch and finally Kid Song Machine Lite which teaches them songs to sing a long too.

The Pianist -Transform your iPhone into an 88-key piano for your little Mozart. Realistic graphics feature 3D keys that depress as you touch them. And when the magnum opus is ready, your kids can record it, overdub it as many times as they want, and play it back for adoring fans. $3.99, iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, Ages 4 & up

Scribble Lite -Turn your iPhone into a miniature sketch pad. Draw your masterpiece, then shake to erase. With tons of colors, pen sizes, and draw-on photo options, the possibilities are endless. Equally appealing: the excuse to shake an iPhone violently. Free, iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, Ages 4 & up

Kids Song Machine Lite - Kids Song Machine Lite can keep your children entertained for the duration of a long road trip. This is a fun musical educational application for your children that allows them to learn and sing songs that will create memories for many years to come. The full version of Kids Song Machine has an additional 10 songs. Kids Song Machine has been voted in the top ranks in more than 65 countries to include the United States, England, and Spain

3. For the Writers – If your child loves to read and write these are the apps for you. MadLibs let’s them pull together stories of their own, while Playtime Theatre goes one step further an allows them to bring storytelling to life via a play of their own.

Mad Libs : Just as goofy and fun as your remember. Create silly stories by filling in the blanks with this addictive story creator. Great for your budding grammar-whiz, there are tons of stories to choose from, and there will be tons of giggling after. Free, iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, Ages 6 & up

PLAYTIME THEATER -PlayTime Theater is a customizable, interactive castle play set that gives kids characters, props, and sound effects and invites them to create and record short shows. This truly innovative app delivers what so many others promise (but don’t quite deliver): free play. In a crowded field, this app stands out as the single best use of touch-screen technology that we’ve ever seen for kids.

4. Games that teach something – there are so many gaming apps online that can occupy children for hours…or adults, can you say Angry Birds. I wanted to find games that also help with your child’s development. These simple games are fun, yet still help to teach your children invaluable tools.

Memory Match: Child Development Edition - In this flash memory game there is no luck, just pure memorization. Kids get points for remembering where they last saw matching pictures or numbers, and can spend days practicing. $2.99, iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, Ages 4 & up

Spot the Dot is a perfectly executed and very visually appealing app that teaches toddlers colors and fine motor skills. It was designed by children’s author David A. Carter (who wrote the best-selling pop-up book How Many Bugs in a Box) and it shows. One by one, kids will have to find a colored dot that is hiding in plain sight, in the dark, among other shapes, or behind tiles that must be flipped. And so on. Each activity is different, but clearly explained which means kids won’t need to be able to read to play. They may need an adult helping however, because there are no prompts if they forget what they’re looking for or don’t quite understand the challenge.

CUT THE ROPE Oh, what a cute story this game presents! An adorable green monster arrives by mail and it’s up to your kids to cut a series of ropes (negotiating the laws of physics and gravity) to feed it candy. The graphics are perfect, the music and sound effects are appealing, and the game play is very challenging. .

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It's transition time again

Life if full of transitions. Some of them are minor, like the change of seasons, back to school and so forth. Others are on a grander scale, a move to a new city, a new job or company or a new marriage. Some people thrive in transition and others do not. I have always been of the mindset that if you have to deal with change you might as well change everything at once.

In 2000 I decided to move to a new country, take a new job and get married all together. With nothing settled we embraced all the change and formed a lot of memories in the process. When we moved back to the US in 2003 we came back with a baby, moved to the suburbs of Cincy, and took a new job. And with most of my pregnancies when a baby arrived that typically met a new job at the end of mat leave, so I used to dealing with constant change.

We are now getting ready for another transition that we are taking very seriously, and that is childcare for our kids. Thus far in their precious lives we have had two caregiver situations for our kids. The first was at P&G Children for Children daycare for five years. Despite loving every minute of it, when Ben was heading off to half-day Kindergarten we need to transition to a new care provider. At that point we went to a nanny who came to our home each day. For the past two and a half years we have had Amber watching our children which is wonderful and met our needs perfectly. But now we transition again.

As much as we love Amber and how much she helps our family each day, with Sarah going to 1st grade in the Fall we don't need someone all day long, but rather just after school, so we are transitioning again. Given how important this decision is we have begun our search already. Like our nanny search the last time we have found two candidates we are talking to this via word of mouth, a women who works at Fox 19 here in Cincy that I met via my segment while talking about what I needed in the studio. The other, just like last time, is coming from an agency Arnie has worked with in town for childcare service.

Hopefully by this weekend we will be able to make a decision, you all know me...I like to plan ahead and make sure we are on top of it. As I say in my book, Childcare is one of the most important decisions you will make in life, so whether they are a newborn baby in his or her first year of life, or 5, 7 and 8 like mine are, it will always be an incredibly hard and important decision so treat it that way. Wish us luck.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Oh what a night...thank you Cover Girl

I am blessed to work for truly one of the most unbelievable companies in the world, actually double blessed as my husband works there too. P&G is not only a stable, profitable company, it is a company based on values that supports it's employees better than most. Our benefits, salaries and so forth are truly top notch. But one area that P&G is not normal is "perks" per se. Most large companies like ours who deal with customers, agencies and suppliers get lots of perks for giving those people business and vice versa. You may get tickets to a sports game, the theatre, a great party or a nice gift. At P&G we are not allowed to take anything that is worth more than $25. We believe this can get you "in a predicament" if the other party thinks they will get business in return and so forth. So despite being the largest advertiser in the world (spending billions of dollars a year) we don't get perks. Given that I have never known any different, this really isn't a big deal.

Then came the email from Bruce. Bruce is a peer of mine ,the Marketing Director of Cover Girl North America. This was not a typical email. It was sent to all Marketing Directors, General Managers, Functional leaders and our President of Female Beauty at P&G. The email invited us to attend the Taylor Swift concert in Columbus, OH because Cover Girl is the tour sponsor. In this case the perk was from P&G to P& it was fine. Taylor became a CG last year and helped launch NatureLux. As part of the marketing of the product we are sponsoring the tour, and they did a great job. You could get make-overs with NatureLux cosmetics, pictures on the red carpet and more. I was thrilled to get this email, because all three of my kids love Taylor.

Thankfully Bruce was able to secure me four tickets so I didn't have to disappoint anyone. We arranged to carpool with my old boss and her two girls and were excited for the night. Then the 2nd email came on Monday night, this one had even more good news. On top of going to the concert we would get VIP treatment; a suite with food and drinks that we could go to throughout the evening, a behind the scenes tour (which ended up being given by Taylor's mom) and a meet and greet with Taylor herself. Even my 8 year old boy was having a moment with that one.

Taylor was a sweetheart, as nice as you would imagine. Very beautiful, and VERY TALL (at least 5'11" and skinny. She was over the moon with my beautiful children, I think they god "what a handsome guy", "you are so adorable" and "what a beauty" respectfully (and they will quote it to you. We had the time of our life with a great show that is like a concert meets Cirque Du soleil. The only downside was rolling into our garage at 1am, at least for mom who had to go to work the next day. I am still not completely recovered and am very much looking forward to tomorrow night.

So thanks to P&G, not only for the past 14 years but for giving my children and me a memory that will last a lifetime. Once again I know that I work for the best company in the world. As our corporate mission says "touching lives, improving lives"