Monday, November 24, 2014

Win an LG G3 Beat, a Lou Harvey baby bag and a voucher for Baby City!

LG reckons the new G3 Beat is a great smartphone for moms-on-the-move, and challenged me to use it for a couple of weeks and share my experience. They also threw in a Lou Harvey bag (SWAG!) and a Baby City voucher so that I could do some diaper shopping with young Oliver as my assistant, and the G3 Beat in my pocket.

Challenge accepted! Like I need an excuse to hit Baby City.

Here’s the skinny on the LG G3 Beat:

Specifications and features
It’s the mid-range version of the LG G3, meaning it’s cheaper, but with many of the same features. It runs on Android, and has an 8MP main camera, and a 1.3MP camera for selfies. The G3 has a 5-inch, 720p display, and it’s powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core chip. The battery is pretty beefy at 2540mAh.

My experience with the LG G3 Beat
Keep in mind, the G3 Beat is the little sister of the LG G3 – but that doesn’t mean it’s particularly ‘little’ in proportion with its 5-inch screen. It does have some heavenly bezeled edges, and I am a sucker for a white phone.

The backing looks like brushed metal, but it’s actually a type of plastic and very durable, which is always at the top of my must-have list, with three sets of curious, chubby fingers grabbing for mom’s phone.

It slides easily into my jeans pocket, and into my pretty Lou Harvey bag. I’d actually made my shopping list for Baby City using QuickMemo+, which comes pre-installed on the G3 Beat (including the full suite of Google apps like Chrome, Maps, Gmail etc).

Something that took me a while to get used to: the power and volume buttons are on the back of the phone, not on top or on the side.

I also snapped some photos with the 8MP camera while I was out shopping. In a mid-range phone, an 8MP really camera isn’t bad.

A huge novelty of the G3 Beat is a feature called Knock Code. Instead of unlocking your phone with a swipe or a passcode, you tap a pattern into the display. This is so useful for parents who have to ‘share’ their phones with toddlers.

The challenge: let my toddler loose in Baby City, while I go shopping with an LG G3 Beat and my cute Lou Harvey baby bag.

New teats for our Avent bottles. Check!

Nappies. Check!
(Mutiple photos of my flabby arms. Check.)

This is a photo (above) I took with the LG G3 Beat. No filter or edits!

I even had a free hand to read a few pages to my bookworm.

Got everything on my shopping list!

My three favourite features of the G3 Beat are:
  • The curved shape makes it easy to hang onto when I have my hands full
  • Impressive battery life – it lasted me from 6am until the kids went to bed
  • Knock knock. Whos there? Knock Code - and its awesome

You can win an LG G3 Beat, a Lou Harvey baby bag and a voucher for Baby City! 

To enter, there are two requirements:

1) Tell me in the comments section below, what feature on your smartphone do you use the most?

2) Tweet the following message:

I want to win an @LGMobileSA G3 Beat, and a Lou Harvey baby bag with @MissStaceyVee. Enter here: #G3Beat

Terms and conditions:

This competition closes at midnight on 10 December 2014, and is open to residents of South Africa only. The sponsor is responsible for the delivery of the prize. Prize will not be exchanged for cash. You may enter as many times as you like. Winner picked randomly.
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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Nothing will desecrate your furniture like a toddler armed with curiosity and a Koki pen

In my never-very-humble opinion, we spend far too much money baby-proofing our homes, with silly clips to keep the toilet lid down, and latch thingies to keep the fridge door shut – when you could save oodles of money just by making intelligent purchases right at the beginning of your journey into parenthood.

Babyproofing is an exercise that lasts a year, max, but CHILDproofing your home is something that will occupy your free time and bank balance right past toddlerhood until your kid goes to ‘big school’.

As my father-in-law likes to say, “Once you have kids, you ONLY have kids”. This is wisdom, folks – because nothing will smash, scribble on, and just generally desecrate your pricey furniture and carefully picked out d├ęcor, like a toddler armed with curiosity and a Koki pen.

Couches. One day I will buy that grey Coricraft L-shaped couch. But not until the boys are at least in Grade 1. Because bottles are propped in couch corners and leak down the side. A small boy who is toilet training goes pee-pee on the couch every so often. And under the cushions is where half-nibbled toast crusts with apricot jam are hidden. Get fake leather couches that you can wipe down. Or at the very least, get couches with removable covers. And for the love of your evening glass of wine that’ll get batted out of your hand as a baby climbs on your lap, don’t get a white sofa!

Duvet covers. Is there anything prettier than a white linen, freshly washed and ironed duvet cover, maybe with a calming floral pattern stitched around the edges? For now, create a Pinterest board of white duvet covers and bed linen. Because if you have babies and toddlers, what you want is black, grey, navy and dark browns and greens. Anything that doesn’t show milk stains, poo marks, and what might be gunky biscuit smears – although you won’t be able to tell unless you scratch and sniff.

Rugs, mats and carpets. Fuck carpets, with their super-absorbent stain-attracting qualities. The weekends I have spent on my hands and knees scrubbing the TV room mat and the cutesy hopscotch themed carpet from the Lionheart’s room with a bristle-brush these last seven years. Scrubbing the skin off my knuckles against the thick pile! You want tiles. You want that fake wood laminate. You want those 1m-long Mr Price rugs (with the stripes) that you can just slam into the washing machine.

Ornaments. Let me tell you where the shabby chic flowerpot, and the pretty glass vials filled with bath salts are kept in our bathroom. Right at the top of the bathroom cabinet. Along with the roll of toilet paper – because bog roll left within reach of a 16-month-old baby just gets wrapped artfully around the legs of the dining room chairs.

Dining room table and chairs. Why, oh why, did we spend that one weekend re-covering our dining room chairs in soft grey suede? Were we smoking crack? Let’s just say that it’s a magnet for magic sauce, which is what we call tomato sauce in the Lionheart household. And you can’t exactly throw your dining room chair in the washing machine.

Bedroom and bathroom doors. If yours are the cheap kind, you know, the ones that you could easily ding and dent because the wood is that cardboard stuff – prepare for the second coming of the holey door. (Cause, you know, the first encounter with holey door was when we were in high school and we punched a hole through one in a temper.) Also, the paint will chip off on all these doors, thanks to years of bulky Fisher Price toys on wheels scraping past them.

Kitchen drawers. We got so sick of attempting to baby proof our cabinets and drawers, that now all the sharp knives and utensils that can poke eyes out are kept in a plastic jug on the highest shelf above the kettle. We own steak knives, I promise, you just have to scratch for them.

Plasma and LCD TVs. Mount these as high on the wall as you can. Because there was that time one of our boys found a paperclip, and decided to draw swirly rainbow patterns into our TV screen. It took me 30 minutes of frantic buffing to (almost) get the scratches out before dad came home.

What is the most expensive piece of furniture your toddler has wrecked?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

5 things to do with your red-and-white striped socks

No, there’s not a Where’s Wally or Dr Seuss convention in town, if you’re wondering why so many people are rocking red-and-white striped socks. This trend is entirely the work of McDonald’s, and it’s probably one of my favourite campaigns of the year.

If you buy a pair of Ronald McDonald’s iconic red-and-white striped socks at your nearest McD’s (R20 for adults, and R15 for kids) you are helping raise money towards building a Ronald McDonald House at the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital.

The idea behind the Ronald McDonald’s House is to keep families close while their children are undergoing treatment. I think it’s a grand idea – around this time last year our nanny Saint Irene had to take her son for a procedure at hospital, and the stress her family went through with the catching of taxis at the crack of dawn, and her son having to stay overnight even though he was so young… it was awful, awful. It was only a small procedure, thankfully and I cannot imagine what families who have children with leukaemia and other terrifying conditions must endure. 

There are now Ronald McDonald’s Rooms at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, and with our help, there will also be a similar set-up at the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital when it opens in 2016. So next time you pop around to McDonald’s for a milkshake, get your socks!

And just for fun, here are five things to do with your red-and-white striped socks.

1. Post Instagrams full of whimsy 

2. Make a sock puppet

3. It’s quite cute as a headband

4. Doorstop, anyone?

5. Take the best Christmas photos ever

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Respite care - it’s finally happening

This morning I sent the email to book Travis the Lionheart into respite care at Oak Haven in December. Baby steps, tippy toe steps. Easy on the heartstrings for his first time – it’s only for one weekend.

You guys, I don’t want to be tearful about this moment. I’ve cried all the tears, and this last year, as we’ve waited for the lovely Kerry to open her residential and respite care facility in Midrand, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was counting the days.

For respite. The noun: “a short period of rest or relief from something difficult or unpleasant.” The terrible, humbling, and occasionally even uplifting burden of raising a mentally disabled child. The ghost boy – the shadow of my first-born son.

Travis – the rational part of me knows that you’ll be safe, well cared for and even, in your own fashion, happy, when you spend two nights at Oak Haven.

I know that this is the right thing to do for your brothers, so that they can have just the tiniest taste of normalcy for a single weekend. A nibble. I know that this is the right thing to do for your father and I. We need a break – from you. Because that’s what’s really happening here, and why try paint this with pastel-coloured words to soften the truth?

The less rational part of me – the part of me that remembers the months when you were growing inside of me, the part of me that still wants to crawl into bed next to you after you’ve fallen asleep so I can breathe in the smell of you (even though you pinch and shove me away when you are awake)… this part of me can’t admit defeat.

I love you, my son. 

I know it’s only two nights away from home. But I also know that this is the first step to a future where you are no longer in our home. And that, that is never going to sit easily with me.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

We had a #PictureBookParty every day this week!

The joy of reading. Is there any greater gift you can give your child? I know many of my mommy friends can’t find time to read books anymore, what with the demands of family, work, social commitments and all that time you spend fretting that your life partner never resets the microwave timer, so it always says it’s 9 seconds until Armageddon.

Not me. I am a book hog! My bedside table is stacked with books and I never go to sleep without reading a few chapters. I am unashamedly selfish about my reading time.

Reading to little people is one of life’s secret, gooey Lindt balls. And this week, if you’ve been following my #PictureBookParty posts on Instagram, you’ll know that Pan MacMillan South Africa and Walker Books shipped me a whole chocolate factory of treasured children’s books!

The box came with 5 books, for 5 days, and posters, activity sheets, stickers, and even… (I’m going to whisper this)… a SIGNED print from Julia Donaldson’s The Flying Bath, which I immediately hid away from sticky fingers.

I cheated. We should have thrown one over-the-top, fantastic picture book party, but I have been taking one book a night, and reading it to my boys. It’s been a manic week for me work-wise, so taking a few minutes every evening to re-connect with the kids and share a page-turner has been good for the soul.

These are the books we explored for our Walker Books picture book party:
Each title is hyperlinked to the Instagram posts I’ve been doing all week, where I’ve shared a bit more about the author, and what we enjoyed the most about the book. 

My personal favourites were Goldilocks And The Three Dinosaurs, which was hysterically funny – you know, one of those wry, black humour children’s stories that were written to be enjoyed by adults – and Journey, which is one of the most beautifully illustrated, imagination-churning children’s stories I have ever paged through (it has no words, you see).

You can read more about Walker Books ‘Picture Book Party’ concept here. And thanks for including the Lionheart family in this campaign, Pan MacMillan South Africa, it has been such a special family bonding experience!