Thursday, 30 October 2014

Learning Through Play with LeapFrog Plus A Fabulous Toy Giveaway


Wow, Christmas is fast approaching yet again and I am beginning to feel that familiar pressure when it comes to selecting and buying toys and requested items for the big day for my six children.

Obviously there's the financial pain of the season to contend with felt by most parents but on the lighter side of that, is the challenge to find exciting new playthings which will engage your child for longer than five whole minutes. Ever bought your child a toy like that?; Something that was discarded out of disinterest within minutes of being unwrapped? It gives you a very horrible sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach as a parent to witness that.

I dislike the wastage and consumerism of the Christmas season and so I am very particular about selecting items that are educational, enjoyable and engaging for my children. A good toy pick should be strong enough to go the distance and continue to have the 'pull-power' to keep drawing them in further down the track. I firmly believe the Leapfrog brand offer these three impressive elements. They've been a high-standing brand in my mind for many parenting years now.

LeapFrog recently sent my two youngest children a parcel of goodies for their enjoyment. You can bet my little road testers were pretty pleased about that too!


Miss Celeste, (once the excitement of the post box itself wore thin!) descended upon her LeapFrog Mobile Med Kit with all the urgency of a true emergency department professional. She rolled its little ambulance housing, fumbled and fiddled, pressed buttons, clapped her way through its happy tunes and admired its inclusions with lots of enthusiasm and interest.


This little girl of mine is almost two now and has begun to branch out into the exciting world of pretend play. We've had a couple of medical toys over the years and they've always been very successful playthings with this age group. Our existing medical kits were well and truly beyond their use-by however so a shiny new toy with all her favourite medical bits and bobs is a huge treat indeed.

 
The Mobile Med Kit is a good, sturdy, rolling ambulance with a cute face and an even cuter personality. No need to worry about your child taking tumbles pushing this, even when they lean all their weight on it while they do so. It has a good design being wider at the base which makes it able to take a bit of punishment at the hands of your toddler.
 
The little ambulance itself speaks and sings with a good, crisp British accent (love that!), and its sweet little voice comes in two volumes too so that Mum and Dad can still hear the TV. The ambulance encourages your child to complete medical missions and rush to the aid of a patient to the tune of its siren.
 
On board are all the regular essentials used by any GP: A pretend-play stethoscope, a thermometer, (complete with twistable temperature function), an otoscope for checking out ear complaints and a squeaking syringe for jabbing siblings and parents as required. (Ever popular that one!)
 
The Mobile Med Kit stores everything on board and can be easily carried or rolled from room to room by your young child. Medical toys are a fantastic way to acquaint your toddler with the real workings of a regular doctor and this little toy is designed to educate your young one about the human body, health and hygiene.
 
The Mobile Med Kit by LeapFrog retails for RRP $34.99 and is suitable for the 2 plus age group.
 
 
Taite was beside himself with joy when the latest LeapFrog Leap Band appeared. This sensational toy is designed for the 4-7 year age group and Taite sits right in the middle of that at 6. He's an ever-active boy in need of constant entertaining and the Leap Band is the perfect toy to rope him in and give him purpose.
 
 
Leap Band is a small gaming device which is worn on the wrist. This is not just a watch however (though is does have a time display). Leap Band is packed full of fun activity inspired learning and it is powered by play. Every movement and every activity is designed to get the wearer physically busy and earning 'joules.' Joules to us grown ups are units of energy but for kids with a Leap Band these are depicted as actual jewels. Earning enough jewels unlocks up to 8 animated pets which is a huge incentive to get into action for a fun reward.
 
 
The device comes with one pet unlocked and ready to customise. Additional pets are a real physical workout and not so easy to unlock as to make the toy redundant quickly. The device has a brilliant high resolution colour screen and again, a pleasant British accent. It does not require batteries thanks to an included USB - simply dock to your PC to charge. There are even parental controls so that you can lock your child out at bedtimes and during school hours.
 
 
Setting up the Leap Band was super simple and it took around 20 minutes to fire itself up with the included USB. There is very little to do to get it functioning as it pretty much does it all for you. Parents just need to register the device or sign into their LeapFrog account as part of the process - all prompted and all easy.
 
 
Watching my Son play with his new Leap Band is so entertaining!
 
Taite spent a good long Sunday afternoon getting to know his new device and I spied him doing the sweetest little challenges as he worked towards powering his pet and earning new ones. I witnessed him pretend to walk like a penguin, wade through imaginary water while carrying ice cream, and even crawl like a worm on the ground! There are too many activities to list here.
 
 
The Leap Band has initiated unexpected play opportunities with additional family members too which I am very happy to see. There is sharing happening here! When Taite gets a bit worn out from earning joules, he passes his Leap Band over to a Brother to continue the action. The boys all hit the trampoline together to 'up' the chances of earning even more joules!
 
 
One Leap Band equals lots of worms slithering...!
 
I think this device is fantastic! It is very engaging for all the reasons I have mentioned here and well worth the RRP of $59.99. Despite the recommended age range of 4-7 years, my 8 and 10 year old Sons were extremely interested in this toy too. LeapFrog toys are available in department stores and toy stores across Australia. Visit the LeapFrog website here for more information on these and other great toys available in the range.
 
 
 LeapFrog would like to offer two Six Little Hearts readers the choice of one of these two toys to win!
Choose either a Leap Band (Valued at $59.99) or Mobile Med Kit (Valued at $34.99) for your child.
Total prize pool is $94.98.
 
Please share the love! Let your friends know about this review and giveaway by shouting out about it on your social media using the options below this post.
I really appreciate this so thank you in advance.
 
Entry is easy. Just follow the prompts on the Rafflecopter App below. (App may take a few seconds to load.) Please note: Four of the entry requirements are mandatory so be sure to follow the simple steps to ensure your entries count.
All winning entries drawn are screened to ensure they conform to these requirements and those that do not will be disqualified.
This is a game of skill and the most creative / informative answer as deemed by the judge will win.
 
To Enter:
 
 
Follow the Rafflecopter App below.
Please specify which toy you would like to win in your comment. If you would like to win either toy, please write 'Either.'
Important: Please leave your name along with your comment so that your entries can be matched.
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
Full terms and conditions regarding all promotions, giveaways and prizes
held and offered on Six Little Hearts can be viewed here.
 
*Disclosure: The items reviewed in this post were gifted. Opinions expressed are those of the blog's author.
 
Recent posts on Six Little Hearts you may have missed:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Playtime Our Way

 
I think my two youngest babes are heart-warmingly adorable together. They play in such funny and tender little ways with one another and it makes me so happy to watch them at it.

This pair have a language and understanding that's unique to them. Having bigger siblings makes them tend to unite in their innocence. When Taite gets playful, Celeste lights up and excitedly and joyfully follows the animated ball of action that he is.

I caught this little show of rough-play one morning recently and it made me laugh!

Taite likes to be one of the first in the family to greet his baby Sister each day. He entertains her by being boyishly hyperactive and making silly noises to get her giggling and warmed-up for my arrival. Sometimes I fear he can be quite rough when he plays but the worry is mostly unwarranted - it only makes her laugh all the more. I think I am really just being over-cautious.

On this day, Celeste decided to play it his way and gave him a decent belting around the head with her soft toy. Listening to so much tiny laughter spilling from these two was just magic! I don't think I could ever tire of watching them play together.

He loved it just as much as she enjoyed dishing it out!



 
Do your kids play together in a way that both worries you and entertains you at the same time?

*Please follow Six Little Hearts on Facebook and Instagram*

Recent Posts on Six Little Hearts you may have missed:


Nuance Dragon Voice Recognition Software Review and Giveaway


Easy Family Meals - Mexican Cornbread Tamale Pie


And So We Had A Car Accident...


Santa's Magical Kingdom Family Pass Giveaway


BabyChic Designer Pram Accessories Review and Giveaway

Linking up for Wordless Wednesday
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Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Making Homework Easier For Teens with Nuance Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium Software Plus Giveaway


*This is a sponsored post on behalf of Dragon by Nuance and Digital Parents Collective.

I don't think there's a single person amongst us who has not experienced the frustration of trying to type an idea super-fast before losing the information altogether due to fingers that just couldn't keep up.

Have you ever watched someone struggling to do this and felt that eye-rolling pang of frustration for them?

I am quite a fast typist, thanks to years of dead-boring keyboard and computing classes when I was in high school. I was trained to touch type but honestly, those skills went out the door long ago. In truth, I never fully mastered the touch-typing thing at all and my own typing 'skill' is more a personal style I have developed through practice which has fortunately become reasonably quick and serves me well.

Then there's my almost teenage Son who is currently in year 6 and though he's pretty deft at using the web, computer games and can zip about pages on an iPad like a pro, I have often observed that he's not a fast typist. During homework downtime he's a frequent victim of these 'keyboard fumbles' which can be so irritating when there's an important idea just bursting to be caught. Too often his thoughts are lost altogether due to a lack of typing prowess and when this happens, I've stood-by and cringed as the enthusiasm, effort and concentration drop off along with it; Not good!

When you're a parent, this is an outcome you just do not want for your child. It's hard enough getting a teenager motivated to do anything and distractions on such a crucial level can be a real hindrance.

We've been playing around with a new study aid kindly sent to us by Nuance. The Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium Speech Recognition Software is a simple to use tool which you can install on your home PC to aid your child to quickly record their thoughts as soon as they are voiced. This software translates speech into text and it's a technology which has been eagerly embraced by my second eldest tech obsessed child.

 
The program allows users to work wirelessly and can make your words and voice commands appear much faster than typing them and with 99% accuracy. Users can send emails, surf the web, dictate and edit simply by voicing their commands, effectively allowing students of all ages to forget about their typing woes altogether.


Inside the box is everything you need to get started: A CD ROM, full instructions and a headset with built-in microphone. There's also a guide of simple voice commands to aid the translation process.

Installation was easy on our family PC. Actually, it was so easy my twelve year old Son installed it for me. :D


It is important to note that the software is designed to transcribe a single person's voice so decide on the family member with the most need and call it theirs. For this reason also, the program is unable to transcribe multiple people speaking at once in a single recording. These points are the only drawbacks we encountered and are not really a genuine issue at all with regard to most users but are worth a mention here.

My Son was keen to get started right away and tested the software with a story he pulled from thin air. He was amused by the speed and thrill of seeing his voice become words on the screen in front of him as if by magic. This one is off to high school next year so we've decided that he is the lucky recipient of the program for his future studies. He's chuffed by that too. Being a little computer whizz, to him it's all fun and games which is great.


After a good play around to familiarise ourselves with Dragon, we came up with several reasons why we love the software:

Your voice is transcribed instantly and with great accuracy.
The program can adapt to the user's preferences giving you control over formatting when it comes to words, phrases and numbers.
With frequent use, Dragon's software promises to achieve even greater accuracy as it learns to adapt to its single user.
The program translates without spelling errors so your time working becomes more productive - no back-tracking for corrections or typos.
The user can create their own custom voice commands which are unique to them or preferred.
You can control your PC almost entirely by voice command: Switch from one window to another or surf the web hands-free.

The program allows you to use whichever microphone you prefer too, be it built-in or wireless giving you greater freedom to work however you prefer. You can even transcribe your own notes from a compatible digital voice recorder including iOS and Android devices, so down the track, this is a program that has the potential to grow with my Son.

We're looking forward to getting to know the software more with time. It's lots of fun, (according to Ki) and I hope the enthusiasm remains strong when he's faced with the difficult assignments and deadlines that are coming his way next year.

Dragon is available in Premium (as featured here), Home and Mac versions and is priced at $99.95.
Full details and instant digital downloads can be purchased on their website here. Dragon is also available in store at Harvey Norman and Officeworks.


Nuance would like to offer five Six Little Hearts readers the chance to win a copy of the Dragon NaturallySpeaking software in a format of their choice valued at $99.95 each.
The total prize pool of this giveaway is $500.
This software is suitable for anyone who would like the convenience of transcribing a large amount of voice to text quickly and effortlessly. If you're a blogger too, this comes highly recommended!

Please share the love! Let your friends know about this review and giveaway by shouting out about it using the social media options below.
I really appreciate this so thank you in advance!

Entry is easy. Just follow the prompts on the Rafflecopter App below. (App may take a few seconds to load.) Please note: Three of the entry requirements are mandatory so be sure to follow the steps to ensure your entries count.
All winning entries drawn are screened to ensure they conform to these requirements and those that do not will be disqualified.
This is a game of skill and the most creative / informative answer as deemed by the judge will win.

To Enter:

Follow the Rafflecopter form below.
Inportant: Please leave your name along with your comment so that I can match your entries.
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
Full general terms and conditions relating to all promotions, giveaways and prizes held and offered on Six Little Hearts can be viewed here.

*Disclosure: Six Little Hearts received product and payment in exchange for this feature.

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Sunday, 26 October 2014

Santa's Magical Kindgom 2014 Plus Win a Family Pass!


Let it snow!

Christmas is just around the corner and your kids, like mine, are probably reminding you of this impending special event daily now.

Little twinkling hints of the season are beginning to appear all over, heralding the most wonderful time of the year - like special invitations to the enchanting Santa's Magical Kingdom filled with snow...
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Friday, 24 October 2014

...And So We Had A Car Accident and What to Do When You Do...


*This post is brought to you in collaboration with Firth's The Compensation Lawyers.

Now here's a post I was hoping to never have to write.

Statistically we're all aware that we are quite likely to experience an incident on the roads at some stage in our lives. In case you missed my recent post, our 'lucky number' on the road just happened to come up a few short weeks ago and you can read about our accident here.

Prior to our road accident, I had often thought on what it would be like to actually be involved in a car accident. (As you do. Do you ever think on maddening things too?) These thoughts at the time were quickly brushed aside however as soon as any horrific images came to mind. No-one wants to think on that stuff, least of all when you have children. I am always worried that thinking about these things can make them become a reality too: A horrible, horrible reality.
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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Easy Family Meals - Mexican Cornbread Tamale Pie


*This post is brought to you in collaboration with Plateful.

We're a house full of Mexican food lovers here. We eat Mex inspired foods at least once a week, sometimes more.

Mexican dishes are so full of flavour and they're often one pot meals too which saves us busy Mums a great deal of time. Nothing like popping a pot of Mexican food on the stove while you work on other things.

Mex inspired foods are easy to prepare using simple ingredients like mince meat, tinned tomatoes and fresh, readily available store-bought vegetables. No trips to special food stores required. (Just as well too, there's none near my place.)

And the smell of Mexican - Oh the smell! I think Mexican has such a fantastic aroma. It's best described as mouth-watering. I have trouble even looking at images of this culture's cuisine without the salivary glands getting active!

We've been enjoying this Mexican inspired creation for several years now and it's popular with the kids, especially the crunchy cornbread topping. It is also a good way of serving this side dish no fuss (cornbread), as it's incorporated into the main so no extra baking required. I'm all about short-cuts here so a yummy short-cut is a beautiful bonus.
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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The Facts About Head Lice: How To Treat Nits Plus a Nitwits All In One Product Giveaway


I feel so horribly qualified to write this post. Can you be qualified as an expert on head lice? If there is no such thing or person yet, then I am self nominating because my kids seem to always have nits...did you hear that?

Always!

It wasn't always this way. It's only been in the last four or so years we have suffered what seems like a never-ending scourge of the little critters. To be more precise, it's since we moved from the inner burbs to our current home on the outskirts of metropolitan Melbourne.

Here, amongst the wineries, cottage industries, cows, grass, mountains and trees, flourish countless nits on the heads of the local residents. Something about the fresh air and slower pace of life? I am thinking nits must like the community feel here and have decided to park themselves in the neighbourhood permanently.
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Friday, 17 October 2014

BabyChic Designer Accessories For Your Pram - A Review and Giveaway


How much did you spend on your child's pram? I'll bet it was a bucket load.
How expensive are those things?! They seem to be going up in price every year too. These days I am thanking my lucky stars that I am finished with pram buying altogether.

I have two prams: A stroller for quick outings and whizz-by shopping trips and a snazzy Mountain Buggy jogger pram for more heavy duty trips and rare occasions where I do some walking workouts. (Both of which I love by the way, oh, and the walking part too.) Combined these two prams cost me loads of cash and like all investments, they're worth looking after. I am hoping at the end of their faithful service to my child, that I can re-sell them for a scraping of the outlay I invested.

Whenever I've bought a new pram, (to date there's been around 10!) I've pledged to be so careful with it:

"There will be no food of any kind consumed in this pram! No ice cream! No drinks other than water!"

BUT, like all Mums out and about with their exhausting child, after a while we'll give in with whatever it takes to stop their fussing and before you know it, your baby's happily sucking on their very first lollypop following a bout of tantrums; your pram taking the brunt of their sticky mess along with your nerves as you struggle to complete your day.

Right along with that first lollypop - gone is your chance of selling that pram for a decent value later too. (Or at least having a new-looking vehicle for the next family addition.)

If you've managed to avoid fuelling your child in your pram altogether then you are a Mum to be revered. I envy your spotless buggy! For the rest of us mortals, there are measures we can take to preserve our precious prams and they're pretty simple too. Make that pretty and practical!


BabyChic are a company founded by Mum Lauren Southern who accidently fell into the designer pram business after she sought to make her plain black pram a little more aesthetically appealing. Her origins are quite amazing and you can read the full story of her business here.

Following the brilliant makeover of her own pram, Lauren was encouraged by the constant stream of flattering comments she received and so BabyChic was born. Like me, it seemed there were many Mums out there wanting liners to both beautify and protect their prams and I have been sent one to share with you here.


First up, both of my prams are black. Black is altogether boring - practical for its purpose yes, but dull. Add a lovely liner, (this one's called Apple Tree), and my Mountain Buggy has blossomed into something else entirely.


There are a number of reasons why the BabyChic design is so covetable apart from its designer look. Firstly, all BabyChic liners are universal and backed by a guarantee that they will fit your particular pram. If it does not fit in a way you are happy with, BabyChic will make it right.

BabyChic liners are 100% cotton throughout. Not only is the gorgeous fabric design itself cotton but the thick inner wadding too, keeping your child cool, comfortable and as dry as possible in the heat of Summer. This is an important consideration if you have a very young child or one that has skin conditions which may become irritated by the perspiration induced by acrylic lined products.

BabyChic liners have a stitched in waist section which means your pram straps remain snug and natural against your child's waist at all times. The liner does not pull inwards against your child's body and remains firmly in place against the pram where you want it. I don't know about you but I have owned countless liners which slide about constantly and curl in. (Sheepskin liners are notorious for doing this.) Nothing makes for a grumpier child than when this occurs and that in turn, frustrates me no-end.


All edges and sewn in contours are bound with the same stylish outer design so your liner has extra reinforcement and a quality finish. Better yet are the two ties at the top of the liner that secure it to your pram preventing the 'slippage' that looks so uncomfortable. (No need to spend your entire outing constantly yanking the liner up and baby with it - sound familiar?) There is even a fully reversible plain co-ordinated colour backing made from 100% soft cotton jersey so you can change your pram's look to suit.

Installation is easy and best of all, the liners can be cold machine washed on a gentle cycle, line dried and popped straight back into action when required. There are an array of beautiful chic designs to choose from and the liners are priced at $59.95 - a great price which you will no doubt re-coup when the time comes to part with your treasured pram. (Add the liner to the sale and score a few extra dollars.)


BabyChic have recently released a fantastic new product called the Pram / Buggy Organiser. This super nifty device attaches to the centre of the handle/s of your pram and functions like an extra set of hands to accommodate all the little extras we Mummas tend to cart about on outings. It's a place to throw your keys, phone, cosmetics, toddler snacks, (Dad's wallet and keys) and general kiddy bits and pieces as well as small change, spare nappies, wipes and so on.


This is generously sized and styled to play matchy matchy with your liner, making your pram not only stylish but improved altogether. The interior is lined with a wipeable fabric and stiff base liner. There are multiple pockets to help you organise the clutter. The Pram / Buggy Organiser is crafted in canvas, attaches to your pram via secure Velcro tabs and closes securely with magnetic closures. A great feature is the removable flap opening so that you can make it an open 'basket' for holding your goods if you prefer.


I am loving this new addition to my pram which is also universal to most models. It can even store two drinks within and it's fully washable if they spill too. Also, this design has the potential to be detached from your pram swiftly and carried as a fashionable clutch for those times when you're leaving the pram behind altogether.


The Pram / Buggy Organiser retails for $39.95 and comes in a range of stunning styles.

BabyChic Designs have very generously offered to giveaway
a Pram / Buggy Organiser to one lucky Six Little Hearts reader.
This fantastic prize is valued at $39.95 and the winner can choose their preferred design from the BabyChic website.
 
Please share the love! Let your friends know about this review and giveaway by shouting out about it on your social media using the options below this post.
I really appreciate this so thank you in advance.
 
Entry is easy. Just follow the prompts on the Rafflecopter App below. (App may take a few seconds to load.) Please note: Four of the entry requirements are mandatory so be sure to follow the simple steps to ensure your entries count.
All winning entries drawn are screened to ensure they conform to these requirements and those that do not will be disqualified.
This is a game of skill and the most creative / informative answer as deemed by the judge will win.
 
To Enter:
 
Follow the Rafflecopter App below to complete your entries, details and comment.
Important: Please leave your name along with your comment so that I can match your entries.
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Full terms and conditions relating to all giveaways, promotions and prizes held and offered
on Six Little Hearts can be viewed here.

*Disclaimer: The items featured in this review were gifted.
 




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