Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Diana's Bananas - Banana Babies

A snack-time conversation documented---a real review....

She-Twin (emphatically): "Diana's Bananas taste so good!"

Mom (genuinely curious): "What makes them so good?"

She-Twin (with authority): "They're chocolately and healthy at the same time."

Mom: "When do you think is the best time to eat them?"

She-Twin (responsibly): "Probably after dinner..."

He-Twin (with immediacy): "ANYTIME!"

Mom (again, curious): "Would you recommend them to friends?"

She-Twin: "Friends? Sure. I'd like to tell the whole universe."

Mom (always pushing): "To be honest, they are kind of expensive...."

She-Twin (responding with her mouth full): "Totally worth it."

Mom: "What should we do when we run out of the free samples Diana's Bananas gave us?"

She-Twin (with "duh!" written all over her face): "Find out who sells them here in town."

Mom (always with the pageant-style questions): "If you could get any message you wanted to the makers of Diana's Bananas, what would that message be?"

He-Twin: "Whatever you do, don't stop making the Banana Babies."

She-Twin: "I love you! Why don't you try making some with mini-M&M's or maybe try a vanilla coating, too?"

*Our abundant thanks to the incomparable Judy Faulkner Krause of Suite for introducing us to what will clearly be a long-term, much-loved snack choice for our twosome. And yes, we've already employed the store locator function on the Diana's Bananas website...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Jeff Kinney's Latest: Cabin Fever

Reviewed by He-Twin (age 10):

"I love the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, and this book, Cabin Fever, I thought was the most funny.

I don't want to spoil it, but there are very funny jokes in this book. Greg gets trapped in the house during a snow storm and is accused of a crime---which he sort of did.

If I were to give this book a rating, 10 being the best, and 1 being the least best, I'd give it a 9.75."

[*Twin-Mom's note: He-Twin received this book at 5:00pm on the day of its release, and completed it by 7:55pm...taking only a maternally mandated break for dinner. He did NOT want to put it down.]

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Curious Critters

Not a nickname for our twins, but rather the title of a stunning new text by award-winning author and photographer, David FitzSimmons.

In their wee days, both He-Twin and She-Twin were enraptured by Lost in the Woods, the tale of a young fawn's first days, photo-illustrated.

When given the opportunity to review Mr. FitzSimmons' Curious Critters, with He-Twin's long-demonstrated interest in all things zoological and She-Twin's preoccupation with beauty and form, it seemed we had two ideal commentarians in-house.

So in their words...

The pictures are are fantastic of real-life animals. The text is a little below my level (age 10/grade 4), but it would be good for younger kids.  My grade = C.

The graphics were clear and fascinating. The writing made the facts funny. I'd recommend it for ages 6-8. My grade = B+.

I genuinely LOVE this book! Granted, the bulk of the book proper is probably geared for more the 1st/2nd grade level, but at the tail (pun intended) of the book are amazing resources describing the natural history of the creatures featured, life-sized (an overlapping for comparison!) silhouettes, and a glossary with terms so detailed that even at my level (age 46/grade TBD), I learned a few things. The photographs are accessible and non-threatening. Any man that can make a Virginia Opossum seem cute has my full respect! My grade = A.
For more on the book and on Dave FitzSimmons' work, visit FitzSimmonsPhotography.com .

Sunday, June 26, 2011

States of Delight

Scholastic Storybook Treasures are without fail amongst our favorite DVDs....and the latest one we were fortunate enough to receive for review, The Scrambled States of America and More Stories by Laurie Keller, may just be my personal favorite to date.

Sarah, our in-house geography aficionado/expert, took a particular liking to this new title. Here, in her words, a review:
"I like all of the stories on this DVD, especially the two 'Scrambled States' stories and 'Do Unto Otters.' I also like 'Open Wide' a lot. My favorite state is Florida. No, my favorite state is actually Michigan in the first story, because she is a girl and she has the same voice as Sally Incisor. I also liked Mr. Rabbit and the bee in 'Do Unto Otters.' I really like the part where the rabbit was in the bathtub and the bathtub turned into a dinner table. Laurie Keller uses good colors and humor. On the side of the DVD case, South Dakota is riding a bike! This DVD gets an A+++++++++++++++++[continues repeating plusses for a few minutes]"

Mom's perspective:
"Truly, this is one of my very favorite DVDs. [Thanks, Scholastic!] Without realizing it heretofore, author/illustrator Laurie Keller's work has long been a facet of books I've repeatedly aloud to our kids. To my great pleasure, Ms. Keller has subtly weasel-ed in valuable facts not only on history, but kindness, gratitude and empathy. The added feature of an interview with Laurie Keller is a perfect inspiration for budding young authors.

As a mom largely opposed to non-stop video watching during roadcar travel ["Back when mom was little, we used to have to drive hours and hours, uphill both ways, and holding the CoolWhip container for my motion sick brother in the backseat..." ;) ], the fact that these books are true-to-the-published-original animated versions of justly lauded texts, makes this DVD beyond palatable road trip entertainment. Truth told, our two will likely want to watch it at our destination as well...with no complaints from me. My grade concurs with Sarah's, A+ !"

The lovely folk at Scholastic Storybook Treasures not only graciously allowed us a free copy in order to review this new release, they have given us TWO---count 'em TWO!---comparably high-caliber selections to giveaway to Twinfatuation's TwIn Reviews readers.

Readers with younger children will no doubt appreciate My First Scholastic Storybook Treasures ;

those with older kids may go for the aspirational The North Star and More Stories about Following Your Dreams.

Comment here with a favorite title you and your children would like to see animated, or an existing animated favorite, and be entered to win! [Random.org will select a winner this coming Friday, July the 1st...you may enter more than once, just be sure to cite different titles with each comment.]


Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Mouse, The Monster and Me

As a mom of twin 9-year-olds, when given an opportunity (and a review copy!) to check out a text designed to help growing kids (ages 8-11) handle their responses to day-to-day challenges, I readily accepted!

Here, in Darren's words, a review:

"This book deserves 4.5 stars out of 5. Reading this book, I felt it was a good book if you had some issues with your feelings; and if you do now, you should read it. The book suggests that you might give up your 'mouse' ways of letting people control you, and giving up your 'monster' ways of controlling other people. You should be yourself...let things follow naturally. When you give up your 'monster' and 'mouse' ways, you can just be YOU---not a mean or pathetic kid."

*Important addendum: As She-Twin overheard Darren verbally giving his review, she said, "I need to read that book. Where is it?" There you go.

For more information on the author, Dr. Pat Palmer, or on this and other related resources to help your kids assess their feelings and behaviors...and modify as needed...visit Boulden Publishing's website.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Feelings. Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Feelings...

Life with growing twins is full of blessings.

However, life is also peppered with challenges---some more daunting than others. In the past two years alone, our now-nine-year-old twins experienced a month wherein their parents both lost their jobs (Dad's out-of-home, my freelance in-home); addressed the suicide of a much-loved 17-year-old babysitter; dealt with their Mommy's return to the full-time, in-office workforce; faced their Daddy's recurrent cancer, subsequent surgeries, radiation and clinical trial treatment.

As an unabashedly Pollyanna-ish Mama, the affirmative, optimistic aspects are the ones upon which I tend to focus more maternal attention. In the past two years alone, our twins saw how in the same year Dad and Mom lost their jobs, they gained new ones, and made more money financially than in years preceding. They saw how fruitless and heartbreaking suicide can be...and the efforts so many have made to educate others on the warning signs. They've seen and accepted Mom's absence during the workdays and have relished Dad's long-desired assumption of  the stay-at-home-parent role. They've seen us plow forward with Daddy's cancer fight, and celebrate his now seven months cancer-free.

Learning to identify with all feelings---the positive and the less-than-positive (a.k.a. negative)---is imperative for their---and my---health.

When you know feelings may be bubbling up--or are intentionally being squelched--we've got a fun new way to dive into that discussion!

Truth told, as a huge fan and faculty member of the FishfulThinking.com campaign, when I was contacted to give Wild Ride to the Heart a test-drive, I was a bit reticent. Surely a board game would be a highly superficial way to explore important emotions. Happily, after many repeated and revealing plays, my supposition has proven grossly wrong!

When the game arrived with a "correction" to one of the cards taped to the cellophane, a flag raised as to the "professionalism" of the product's manufacturer---however, it turned out to be a good lesson in the importance of "When you know something is 'wrong,' or could be made 'better,' it's always good judgment to try to 'fix' whatever is incorrect!"

Wild Ride to the Heart lingo is now incorporated into our family conversations---e.g. "Sarah, are you in Pouty Pond?"---which helps us find the humor in -- and to identify with -- where any of us may happen to "find" ourselves on a given day, in a given moment. Few are the games that our kids will de-shelve to play without my parental suggestion. Wild Ride to the Heart is truly one of those.

Mommy's grade for Wild Ride to the Heart: B+

"Awesome! It's fun to make the faces for the emotions"
Sarah's grade for Wild Ride to the Heart: A

Darren: "I think it's awesome. The surprise cards are the best. I like that you can spin or roll the dice."
Darren's grade for Wild Ride to the Heart: A+

*When items are submitted free-of-charge for our review consideration, as was the case in this instance, the providing company is notified prior to submission that Tw-In Reviews are always honest, and not always positive, nor is a review of any product guaranteed by virtue of product submission.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Tees for Two

When I received an email from Cindy Hoeppner, the founder/creator of MiteTees, introducing me to her products along with an extraordinarily kind request to consider a review; naturally, a peek to the website was in order. Whenever a line offers twin-specific items---as does MiteTees---they get an extra gold star for their inclusion in our book!

A cursory overview of the line seemed to reveal a "baby/toddler only" focus---with sizes topping out at 6T. Within a very short time, my "Do they come any larger?" query to the "Contact Us" link on-site was quicky fielded with an enthusiastic "We can do up to 8T!" response. With our disparately sized duo, this was good news indeed.

Within a very few days after asking Darren and Sarah which multiples-born message best suited their tastes, our gratis-for-our-review consideration* Mitetees arrived in the mail. The packaging was stand-out; a colorful crown adorned Darren's cellophane wrap, a bright flower on Sarah's.

In most instances wherein new articles of clothing are acquired, no matter how charming to my maternal eyes, the items invariably go to the drawer awaiting the Sarah-determined "right time" to wear. In contrast, when our Mitetees arrived, both He-Twin and She-Twin pulled off the shirts they had on, and the Mitetees became the garment du jour...as well as their PJ tops for that night!

[Point of clarification: Jam does NOT come with the Mitetees. Jelly face not included.]

Our reviews:
Mitetees' catchy slogans/motifs are printed on high-quality, very soft tee shirts. The old-school typewriter typeface printing complete with trademark appealed greatly to my retro taste sensibilities. This message in particular strikes a fun note for our family as my husband--the twins' Double Daddy--and I have long been involved in TV/Video/Advertising. Assured of the tees' quality, I can easily see us purchasing Mitetees for colleagues and friends in the business---twins or no. The ONLY drawback from my perspective is there is noticeable shrinkage after washing/drying...not unlike other cotton clothing. Select your sizes accordingly.
Mommy's grade for Mitetees: A

"My shirt feels a little bit rough, but I really like it."
Sarah's grade for Mitetees: A

Darren: "Mitetees are fun to wear because I think they are really soft. It's really, really cool and funny."
Darren's grade for Mitetees: A+

*When items are submitted free-of-charge for our review consideration, the providing company is notified prior to submission that Tw-In Reviews are always honest, and not always positive, nor is a review of any product guaranteed by virtue of product submission.