A LeapPad2 Review

No More Sharing Your Phone

A LeapPad2 Review

I usually let my daughter entertain herself with my smartphone when we’re out running errands or grocery shopping, but my child’s fine motor issues, combined with the small screen, frustrate her.

Know what frustrates me? When she deletes apps from my phone or worse, buys them without my knowledge! Also, call me selfish, but I like to have access to my phone at all times. One never knows when a hilarious tweet might pop into your head which, as fellow SM addicts can attest, needs to be shared immediately.

Another hazard of sharing your phone…“Toddler Texting.” I can't be the only one who’s had to explain obscene Auto-Corrected text messages and/or heavy breathing to random members of their contact list.

When we received a LeapPad2 tablet to try, both my daughter and I leapfrogged for joy. Not only did I get my phone back, it's like this tablet was made for my child; easy for little hands to hold and manipulate and it’s sturdy…as in, I won’t have a conniption if (ahem...WHEN) she drops it.

A thoughtful new feature is the ability to flip the screen. My daughter is learning to write her ABCs and as a “Leftie” the Left-Hand Mode makes it easier. Click the L at the top of the screen and you’re able to use the stylus on the other side. Brilliant.

My most appreciated feature? The volume control and headphone jack. Sometimes silence is indeed golden.

Here are a few Tech Specifics of the LeapPad2:

  High resolution touch screen—5” TFT screen with 480x272—responsive to finger-touch and included stylus (which is attached...if you have ever owned a Nintendo DS,  you know how important this is!)

  Runs on four AA batteries (we use recharables), but you can purchase a new internal battery system and recharger pack so the tablet can be charged by plugging it into the wall

  4 GB of storage/memory

  Built-in front and back cameras, video recorders and a microphone—the front camera allows kids to take self-portraits

My kids love to edit and alter their photos in all kinds of ways. Even creepy child + chihuahua ways like this

My kids can amuse themselves for hours with photo shoots around the house. Factor in the editing process afterwards and this mama just gained herself some invaluable "me time." Woot!

The LeapPad2 is a gaming system (buy cartridges or download games from the LeapFrog App Center), an impressively good camera and an interactive ebook reader.

It comes with:

  Art Studio—a virtual place to create art, filled with art supplies

  Pet Pad—design and play with your own pet and learn to write the letters…so perfect for us write now (pun intended)

  Music Player (with five LeapFrog Learning songs included)

  Cartoon Director—a huge hit with my nine-year-old son! Choose the setting and characters (even superimpose your own photo onto the face of any character). Move the characters around to animate them and then record your voice to tell your story. The app puts it all together to create your finished project to share!

  One free app download—we chose the Letter Factory video; one of my daughter’s faves and great to have on the device to take with us on the go!

So now when my daughter is left to her own devices, she actually has a kid-friendly device of her own! There are 325 games, apps, music, and videos to choose from. The LeapPad2 connects via your computer to the LeapFrog Learning Path, a service that updates parents on how their kids are doing on the tablet, and recommends which products to explore next.

Now when the grandparents ask what to get for birthdays and Christmas gifts, the kids can tell them which game, book, or video they would like. Perfect for learning something new every day.


Be Conference Classy, Not Conference Clueless

Ten Ways To Make Attending A Blogger Conference Less Awkward

Be Conference Classy, Not Conference Clueless

Be Conference Classy, Not Conference Clueless

Bloggers make us laugh, make us cry and make us think. In order to become better bloggers, many of us attend conferences like Blogher and Blissdom, which allow us to step out from behind our keyboards to meet and learn from our bloggy peers.

Read Sharon's "Building Relationships at Blissdom" and Jen's "What To Bring To A Conference." Both of these insightful ladies make an important point; conferences are about experiencing the moment.

I must add, conferences are also about potentially awkward moments. Like, "Awkward Triangle Game" kind of awkward. This is a game made up by my friend Ali where you choose two random people to join you in an imaginary conversation. The person who comes up with the most uncomfortable scenario is the winner. It's a silly game good for a chuckle. But in real life, an awkward triangle is no laughing matter (unless you're witnessing a friend stuck in one. Because THAT'S just hilarious).

Here are ten ways to avoid awkward conference moments:

1. Don't be a blog hog.

We all have blogs (it's a BLOGGING conference!). We'd like to hear about yours, but we'd also like to tell you about ours. In the same token, avoid being a conversation dominator, a convo highjacker or a competitive one-upper. Certainly share your story, but let other people talk too.

2. Ask.

You're there to learn, so there is no such thing as a stupid question (except... for the question asked during group sessions that is specifically about YOUR personal blog that has absolutely no relevance to anyone else. It's not stupid, but it is a waste of everyone else's time).

3. Don't be a blog snob.

So what if you've had more experience or accolades? We're all in it to win it. Instead, offer helpful advice and encouragement. Newbies want to learn from you, not be made to feel inferior to you.

4. Be respectful of other people's personal space.

If you're a hugger or a close talker, be aware of physical cues. If somebody is leaning away from you, or their eyes are madly darting, you may have invaded their personal bubble.

5. By all means have a drink, but don't be the messy drunk at the party.

Yes you're there to engage, make friends and blow off some steam, but sobbing in the corner, puking in a planter in the lobby or twisting your ankle on the dance floor (I *may* have some personal knowledge about that last one) is a recipe for embarrassment.

6. Be brave.

We're all uncomfortable in these situations to some degree. Keep that in mind and don't let fear or insecurities prevent you from meeting somebody new.

7. Branch out.

Sure there's safety in numbers but staying in your usual group can appear cliquey. Not to mention, others may be less inclinded to approach you while you're in a herd.

8. Bridge the gap.

If you see somebody alone at breakfast or sitting at a conference table by themselves, approach them. Talk to them. Nobody likes to feel like a wallflower.

9. Be respectful.

A lot of work goes into planning and running these conferences so don't talk during presentations and be sure to thank hosts/organizers/presenters for all the work they've done.

10. You only get one chance to make a first impression.

Be gracious, be friendly, be kind. Just be you (and try not to fall off the stage while busting a move to "Dancing With Myself")...

For more articles, tips, and tricks to help you get organized and make the most of your blog and business visit our BlissDom Canada 2014: How Do You Find Your Bliss? page.

Membership Has Its Perks!

We’re offering a special discount for BlissDom Canada to our YMC members. Use our special code for 15% off your BlissDom Canada Conference pass. Find out the details here.

Bonus! BlissDom and YMC want to send you to the conference for FREE this year in the #ThisIsBliss Contest. Have you entered yet? 


Halloween Party Food

Frightening Food For A Spooky Mood

Halloween Party Food

Here are a few ghoulishly gourmet, yet frightfully simple treats to serve at your Halloween Party:

I've met some scary cheeseballs in my life, but this one is by far the creepiest! {Link}


Spooky Black Bean Hummus {Link}

Easy but wonderfully gross—serve a plate of Smiley French Fries on a plate covered in ketchup. Kids love to squish down the fries so "blood" oozes from the eyeballs!

How's this for some frightening finger food? {Link}

Creep up some ordinary chicken wings simply by calling them “Vampire Bat Wings” {Link}

Use Halloween-shaped cookie cutters to cut cheese shapes to embellish cooked pizza slices or serve some of these mummy pizza faces! {Link}

There are many creepy cookies and cupcakes to choose from. Check online and you’ll find lots of ideas. I have my EYE on this one. {Link}

Thirsty? Perhaps one of these mortifying concotions will quench your thirst for blood. Pina Ghoulada with an eyeball garnish {Link}

Or Shrunken Heads Apple Cider! {Link}

But remember to go easy party people; too many treats and trips to the punch bowl may result in this...


Have a safe and yummy Halloween everybody!

Related: How to host a pumpkin carving party

Check out more scary secrets for making this Halloween terrific-ly terrifying.