Video Gaming Systems 101: Everything You Need to Know

Which one is right for your family?

Video Gaming Systems 101: Everything You Need to Know

Video Gaming Systems 101: Everything You Need to Know

Seven years ago, we purchased a Wii for our girls. If you can believe it, they now consider it “old.” SEVEN YEARS!!! By those standards, at 10 and 12 years of age, my girls are practically pre-historic. I have clothes I’ve been wearing longer, but in today’s age, technology moves at the speed of light and gaming systems are one of the ultimate beneficiaries of this rapidly changing technology.

Now that Christmas is almost upon us, we’ve decided that this year we’ll surprise them with a new gaming system. The problem is that I'm too “old” to figure out which gaming system is the best fit for our family. Thankfully, the gaming experts at EB Games recently gave me the lowdown on the hottest gaming systems and games. Each console is dependent on the games your kids may be interested in, so EB Games were an excellent resource. Since I know many moms are in the same boat as me - the S.S. Clueless - I’m going to break it down for you because each gaming system brings something unique to the table as well as exclusive games.

So which gaming system is right for your family? Read on...

Xbox One

So the XBox One system is "sick," which, by the way, is kid speak for "really awesome." You can command your XBOX and TV with your voice and gestures, and the Kinect Sensor. You can also play along with friends over Skype in HD. My hyper-connected kids have friends and cousins across the province and country, so this is a definite plus.

It also allows players to find new challengers to play against remotely by using Smart Match technology that matches skill and style to bring the right players together. What I really love about the XBox One is that it has been designed to get better with age (kind of like us moms) with new experiences being added all the time via updates. Sounds like a smart gaming investment to me.

  Games exclusive to Xbox One: Halo Master Chief, Sunset Overdrive, Forza Horizon, Dead Rising 3, Forza Motorsports 5, Ryse, and Titanfall. (Before purchasing, be sure to check game ratings to determine if they are appropriate for your kids!)



This one is "off the hook." (You're totally impressed with my knowledge of youth lingo, aren't you?) Kids are all about the sharing these days and epic moments played on the PS4 can be shared immediately with the click of a button to UStream, Twitch, Facebook, and Twitter.

I'm told the PS4 (Playstation 4) is "old school meets new gen," which is basically me and my kids. What does this mean for our family? It means that it's simple enough that even my husband and I can figure out the controls, but still has graphics and speed that will blow kids' minds.

  Games exclusive to PS4: Infamous Second Son, Killzone 4, Little Big Planet 3, MLB 14: The Show, Knack, Drive Club, The Last of Us Remastered. (And I must say again, before purchasing you should check game ratings to determine if they are appropriate for your kids.)


Wii U

When it comes to the new Wii U, I am told that its GamePad controller removes the traditional barriers between you, your games, and your TV by creating a second window into the video game world.

Hmm...I'm not even really sure if my ancient brain can comprehend that but when it gets too much for me, I think of Mario and Luigi and everything is right in my world again.

My girls loved their original Wii so I can't help but lean this way a bit. And really, who doesn't love those Mii characters? (fyi...Mii characters are cute caricatures that your children can create to use as players in certain Wii games. Pretty cool, right?) The added bonus here of course is that most of our original Wii games are also compatible with the Wii U.

  Games exclusive to Wii U: Super Smash Bros, Mario Kart 8, Loz Hyrule Warriors, Bayonetta 2, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Super Mario 3D World, Legend Zelda Wind Waker, Pikmin 3, Wii Sports Club.


No matter what model we decide to go with, I love that we can trade in our old gaming system at EB Games and put the credit toward a new, more exciting model.

After talking with the experts, I now know which system we're getting and I’d love nothing more than to tell you which one we bought but I know my girls read my blog. Nice try ladies. You'll have to wait until Christmas.


The Best Way to Keep Your Kids Internet Safe

No more stress about raising technology generation kids

The Best Way to Keep Your Kids Internet Safe

The Best Way to Keep Your Kids Internet Safe

Before I became a parent, I expected there would be worry. I was prepared for many sleepless nights worrying about if my children were growing, if they were learning properly, and if they would be happy. What I was 100% wholly unprepared for was the Internet. I seriously did not even give a single second of thought to how much stress the Internet plus children would create.

My children are the technology generation—raised from birth with touch screens and wi-fi—the Internet touches almost every aspect of their life from education to socialization. Just like I monitor where they go outside of the house, I also police where they go on the Internet. I often compare letting them loose on the Internet without supervision to dropping them off downtown at 1am in the morning and telling them to make their own way home. Not only is it dangerous, it’s highly irresponsible.

So I worry. What apps are they downloading? Who are they talking to? What pictures are they sharing? What pieces of information are they sharing? And last—but certainly not least—what are they searching for? Sadly, I learned the hard way this past spring what happens when I neglected to monitor their search history.

And you know what? I’m tired. It’s exhausting being hyper-vigilant about every move your children make online. I’ve often wished there was someone to police the Internet for me and at long last I found out that there is.

Behold: the coolest one minute you’ll see on the Internet today:

Kidokey is one of those "I wish I had thought of it" inventions. It is seriously brilliant and I love that it empowers children to go find the very best there is online without me having to worry that one click will expose them to the very worst. Believe me, I know what a simple search like “boy kiss” can turn up on the internet. *shudders*

Here are some of the things I love about Kidokey:

Real people vet the sites

The fact that real people screen these sites puts a very human side to this company and tells me they are genuinely concerned with the youngest internet explorers. They’ve already gone through hundreds of thousands of sites and are dedicated to updating their software regularly so parents can have peace of mind—on a continual basis.

Time management tools

Perhaps what I love the most is that it offers time management tools for my kids. I’ll be able to determine when they log in, ensuring that they are getting the right online to offline balance in their life without hearing me bark “GET OUTSIDE” everyday. I can ensure that when they’re on the web for homework, they’re really getting an education, and not an "education" if you know what I mean.

Have I mentioned how much I love this freakin’ thing? I’m chomping at the bit to get one and I’m not alone.

Kidokey is being funded by a Kickstarter campaign!

Kidokey was launched through a kickstarter campaign and it has taken off beyond expectation, showing there is a demand for this service. The campaign is still underway and for a $69 pledge, you will receive one Kidokey box with lifetime database updates—a special deal for early birds who support the campaign. I don’t believe I’ve said “SOLD” faster in my life.

All funds raised so far have been put towards production costs with a planned release date of March 2015.

I’m looking forward to March when I get my Kidokey and the weight of the world wide web will be lifted off my shoulders.


Get Rid of Smells Plaguing Your Home in the Winter

Foul home odours have met their match

Get Rid of Smells Plaguing Your Home in the Winter

Get Rid of Smells Plaguing Your Home in the Winter

The first snow has already fallen in Ottawa, and it's left a pretty, white blanket behind. It's beautiful and yet I already dread the smells that accompany winter, and I'm definitely not talking about Christmas trees or hot chocolate. I'm talking about smelly boots, damp mittens and hats, ski boots parked in the hallway, and the absolute worst smell of all: wet dog.

Meet Honey. Honey is the world's best dog and my favourite child by far. I like it when Honey is happy, and winter makes Honey happy. We can't get her in a pool in mid-July, but come December 1st she'll sit outside in the snow as though meditating and becoming one with the weather. Zen Doggy. Look at that cute face! I just want to squish her.

But then this happens:

Wet dog syndrome. She's still cute, but now she's too smelly to get close enough to cuddle and when she's totally stinky, I momentarily move her down the list to "least favourite" of my children. Not even a mother can love a wet, smelly dog.

In the past, Honey would be banished to her pillow to dry out and the rest of us would suffer in silence with the unpleasant aroma wafting through the house. Until this week, because things took a dramatic turn when Honey met her match with the Febreze Fresh Air Purifier.

Although still banished to her pillow to dry out, the rest of us didn't have to plug our noses until she was our favourite again.

Placed strategically and discreetly between my kitchen and front entrance, the Febreze Fresh Air Purifier has been working overtime already this year, and it's saved us from a variety of foul smells. Fried fish, wet boots, damp mittens, even a compost bin that wasn't emptied on time are no match for our new air purifier. Considering that windows are closed up tighter than a drum during cold months, it's "refreshing" to know you can have fresh air without freezing us all out.

Here's why this little genius machine works so well:

  Febreze Air Purifiers use a HEPA-type filter to capture 99 per cent of airborne pollutants - This includes pollen, pet hair, dust and smoke. Pollen, pet hair and dust are all things I have in spades in this house, so it's nice knowing that those things are being filtered out when I turn the machine on.

  The Febreze Freshness Scent Control dial allows for scent control intensity and three cleaning levels - I'm a HUGE fan of this because I actually like the smell of...nothing—you know, the smell of fresh air? This air purifier doesn't mask foul odors with an overpowering perfumey smell.

So, this winter, things are going to smell a whole lot better around here. With the holidays approaching and unexpected guests stopping in, I'll be able to swing open my front door with confidence knowing that wet dog smell isn't going to hit them in the face.

Now, if they could only invent a machine that folded and put away my laundry, things would be perfect.