Archive for the 'Products/Shopping' Category

Dec 11 2013

Googaro Box – December 2013

Published by under Products/Shopping,The Boy

Here it is, our first and last Googaro box! Once I opened it and looked at what we’d gotten, I decided that children’s subscription boxes are not for us. I will probably, when The Boy is older, subscribe to one of the monthly boxes that provide craft projects, or maybe Little Passports, but he’s too young for that stuff right now. I should also mention that the Googaro subscription is $10 more per month than Citrus Lane, which make this box even more of a let down. I paid more for this, folks. Yes, I did.

Anyway, let’s commence with the disappointment, shall we?

Dec2013Googaro

 

Thanks for the well wishes, Googaro, now someone get Santa out of that bag before he suffocates!!!! One thing I do like about Googaro is that on the info card they send, they do put the suggested retail price of the item. It’s nice to have an idea of how much was spent where. Of course, I look this stuff up on Amazon, but I’m sure most people don’t bother. And now, it’s time for a breakdown:

Sophie La Girafe Janod Toy (I’m not sure why it’s called by its French name. In the US, you’ll find this as “Sophie the Giraffe Looping Bead Toy”)
Amazon price: $19.99 (Googaro suggested retail price: $19.99)
Dear sir or madame: Please note that this toy is recommended for ages 12 months+, and that the child on the front looks pretty much like a 12 month old. When I signed up for this service, I was asked to input my child’s age, and I did so, accurately. He is, in fact, nearly two years old. I assume that you believe the + on the 12 months+ means that children of any age over 12 months would enjoy this toy, but that is not the case. My son looked at it, pushed the beads around for a minute, and said “Done. No.” That’s because this is a boring toy for someone who is nearly two years old and neurotypical.

Bearington Plush (aka Suffocatin’ Santa up there)
Couldn’t find on Amazon (Googaro suggested retail price: $7.00)
A stuffed toy. Like I don’t have enough of these that he never, ever looks at. At least it’s a Santa so that I can use it as a home decor object. And I will do that, because it’s pretty cute. However, my child will not enjoy it.

Paul Frank Only in Dreams book
Amazon price: $6.29 (Googaro suggested retail price: $7.00)
Books are always good. I find Paul Frank’s Julius character (the monkey who is the star of this book) to be somewhat creepy and off-putting, but he seems to be everywhere these days, so I’m guessing that’s not a common thing. I won’t hold it against anyone. So, a nice book. OK.

Oogaa Silicone Placemat
Amazon price: $8.99 (Googaro suggested retail price: $8.99)
I see eating accoutrements as the epitome of the “We don’t know what to do for the 18 month to 2 year old set” syndrome. It’s like a bunch of people were sitting around in a brainstorming session, trying to figure out what to do with these kids, and someone said “Screw it, they have to eat, right? Give them a plate or something.”

Smith’s Minted Rose Lip Balm
Amazon price: $7.00 (Googaro suggested retail price: $7.00)
More lip balm? Not to mention, another stupid mom gift? Is there an epidemic of moms out there with dry lips and who just can’t stand not getting a token present for themselves? I hate mom gifts. I sincerely expect the craft boxes that I may order in the future to have a mom gift of a hot glue gun that shoots lip balm or something, because apparently these box people all picture us scrabbling madly in our child’s monthly gift box going “What, there’s nothing for me? There has to be something for me! I’m the mom!”

So, the overall retail value of the box, leaving out the derpy mom gift, is $42.98. I spent $35 on this box. I will use one item (the book) for my son, one item (the Santa) for my home, and that’s it. I’m drowning in lip balms, so I doubt this rose-mint concoction will ever get play, plus it’s in a stupid tin, which means I have to get my finger gunky to put it on. That makes my actual use value is $14. Not great. I would be willing to give this another month, but at $35/month, I’m not willing to hang in there when the first box was so terrible. I will be taking that $35 and heading out into the wilds of actual brick-and-mortar stores next month to see what I can find on my own. If I remember, I might even blog about it.

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Nov 19 2013

Citrus Lane – November 2013 box

Published by under Products/Shopping,The Boy

This will be our last Citrus Lane box, at least for awhile and possibly forever. Out of the three boxes we’ve gotten, one has been good, one has been “meh” and this one was like “That’s it?” The box arrived while I was out with Mackers, and The Man tore right into it, so I didn’t get a picture this time. But, here’s what was inside:

Bumkins Reusable Snack Bags, Two-Count
Amazon price: $6.95 for two
I guess I’m not a normal mom, because I don’t pack snacks that need to be distributed into smaller bags. Maybe I’ll use these more as he gets older, but right now the snacks that come out traveling with us are things like yogurt and string cheese. I would never have bought these and I probably won’t use them.

Green Toys Chef Set
Amazon price: $14.12
The Green Toys Chef Set is four pieces: a lidded pot, a pan, a ladle, and a spatula. They’re nice enough, and he’s getting a kitchen for Christmas, so they will probably get some use. They are recycled plastic, which is fine. I prefer wood, especially since we’re getting him Melissa and Doug kitchen stuff, but they are nice and plain and don’t have cartoon characters all over them, so they pass muster. Since I didn’t open this, I’m not sure if we didn’t get the pan or if it’s lost somewhere in the house. I’ve never seen it, so it’s hard to say. When The Man comes home, I’ll ask him if I remember and edit appropriately. I am currently using the pot as a snack holder to try and drum up some interest in it. It’s a nice place to put animal crackers.
Edited to add: I asked The Man, and we did not receive the pan. So, either we got the shaft, or Green Toys inexplicably decided to remove one piece from their normal four-piece set before sending the product to Citrus Lane.

Good Boy Organics Organicsaurus Baked Organic Corn Snack, Cheddar Cheese
Amazon price: $41.99 for 24 (approx. $1.75 each)
They looked cute – 3D dinosaur shaped treats. But The Boy spit them out. I don’t know if he didn’t like the taste or the texture.

Skip Hop Zoo Divided Plate – Dino
Skip Hop price: $6.00
It’s. A. PLATE. A nice plate, but still a plate. As my husband said, “If you need a plate, you’re not waiting around, hoping one shows up in your Citrus Lane box.” Also, there’s not a lot of innovation in tableware. It’s basically what design is on it, and by the time your kid is eating solids, you probably have a collection of tableware already.

Some coupon for address labels
The Man threw it out, but told me it was a coupon that we could only redeem if we spent $100 on product. He thinks it was for a site like Shutterfly or Snapfish.

Mom Gift: Purlisse Pur-Lip Comfort Daily Lip Nourisher, 0.38 oz
Amazon price: $7.00 for 0.5 oz
It’s fine. The last thing I needed was more lip stuff, though. And I’m annoyed that they threw in a mom gift.

Anyway, I’m sure this would have been a fine box for some other family whose child isn’t a picky eater and who likes snack bags and where the mom was excited to get a token present of her own, but that’s not us, so we were not pleased that this is what we got for $25. I subscribed to Citrus Lane hoping to be introduced to products that I wouldn’t find on my own or wouldn’t think to buy. I’ve been disappointed overall in our three months of boxes. We’re going to cancel Citrus Lane for now and try out one of the other subscription services. Next up is Googaro, which is $35/month, so we’ll see if we feel like we’re seeing the additional value.

 

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Oct 22 2013

Citrus Lane – October 2013 box

Published by under Parenting,Products/Shopping,The Boy

Our second Citrus Lane box arrived last week. I wanted to give The Boy some time to handle the contents and see how he liked them before I rated the box. For me, the initial impression was “Meh”. However, since he seems to enjoy the two main items, I guess this gets a passing baby grade.

October 2013 box

OK, so The Boy is 20 months old this month. This is the box he got.

Cool It Buddy instant cold packs
Amazon price: $4.99
OK, so it’s a cold pack. Or specifically, it’s a package of two cold packs. Useful and everything, but I’ve had instant cold packs in my medicine cabinet since The Boy started moving around independently. I can’t imagine not having cold packs around with a wonky toddler going full tilt around the house all the time. I tossed these in the medicine cabinet with the rest of them.

Boon Water Bugs Floating Bath Toy with Net
Amazon price: $7.99
Comes with three plastic water bugs that float in the water, and a net to catch them with. The theory is that it helps with hand-eye coordination and motor skills, but The Boy laughs in the face of intended toy use. He floats the net in the water and puts the bugs inside. Or chews on them. He plays with it, though, so it gets a passing grade.

 Green Tones Train Whistle (by Hohner)
Amazon price: $19.84
It’s a nice whistle. It has a good sound. It’s made of sustainable rubberwood, and other non-toxic materials. The Boy enjoys hearing us blow it, but he hasn’t figured out blowing himself, yet. I’m sure when he does, I’ll be sick of this toy in no time flat. It’s nice that it’s also shaped like a train so he could pretend with it as well. Personally, if I saw this toy in a store, there’s no way I would pay $20 for it. It’s also worth noting that two days after we got it, he dropped it on the floor and one of the decorative blocks broke off. The glue holding it to the main body gave way. It was simple to reattach it with wood glue, but it was an eye-roll worthy moment, when the big, sustainable, non-toxic, expensive train whistle broke due to normal toddler handling.

Babybug Magazine (one issue)
Yearly print subscription is $33.95 at www.cricketmag.com, one issue value approximately $2.83
The Boy was underwhelmed by this. He looked at it one time, but every time we’ve picked it up since then, he’s refused it. We also got a coupon for a free digital subscription or reduced priced print subscription to this mag, but I threw it out, so I can’t put down the details. Regardless, we won’t be redeeming it. The Boy isn’t into digital content yet, and he didn’t care for the print, so it would be a waste either way. I will give this “magazine” props for being printed on very heavy paper. It’s like glossy book paper, not thin magazine paper. It is much more durable and will hold up well to a toddler paging through it. The pages will still tear, but shouldn’t rip with normal handling.

This is one of those instances where the monetary value of the box will exceed my subscription price, but the actual value will not. The train whistle I would have rated at most as a $10 toy. My husband told me he wouldn’t have spent $5 on it, but he is notoriously 1980s in his mental pricing. The cold packs are practical, but I think it would be a challenge to find a Citrus Lane subscriber who is parenting a toddler and who doesn’t have cold packs in her arsenal already. Maybe I’m wrong about that.

The total cost of items in this box was $35.65 (not including the free or reduced magazine subscription). My subscription cost was $25.00.

Want to get $10 off of your own Citrus Lane box? Click here!

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Sep 28 2013

ABC, sing with me!

Published by under Products/Shopping,The Boy

Update on the Charley Harper ABC book from our Citrus Lane box:

The Boy has started loving the alphabet, thanks to Super Why and Alpha Pig. He “says” the alphabet when prompted (“A! B! O! J! D!”) and now loves his ABC book, because I will open it up and make the letter noises for him. He can identify some of the letters. Today I asked him where the O was and he pointed to it. Same with J and V. Lots of people say TV is bad for kids, and I definitely think if you are parking your kid in front of the television all day, that’s no good. However, Super Why has been teaching my son about letters and words much more quickly than I’ve been able to. Now I just reinforce what he’s learned with books and real life examples.

Anyway, point being, he now loves his ABC book, so that’s another check in the Win column for the Citrus Lane box.

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Sep 19 2013

Citrus Lane – September 2013 box

Published by under Parenting,Products/Shopping,The Boy

Citrus Lane is a subscription service for children from birth to 5 years old. You pay them money ($25 for a month to month subscription; discounts for prepaying) and they send you a box once a month with things hand picked for your child’s age and gender. These can be toys, books, body care items, food products, lovies…you just never know what you’re going to get. There’s generally a mix of things in each box.

We ordered Citrus Lane because The Boy is at an age where there aren’t a lot of things marketed to him in the stores. It’s like there’s a void between 12 months and 2 years where toy manufacturers go “I don’t know, kid. Here’s some blocks; call us in 6 months.” We do have various kinds of blocks for The Boy (these are our favorites because they are easy to grip and stack), but we wanted some ideas of other things he can be playing with that aren’t either 6 months behind or 6 months ahead of where he’s at, developmentally.

We got our first box yesterday. Let’s see how we did, shall we?

Citrus Lane Sept 13 box

Hape City Planner Blocks
Amazon price: $9.99
This is the first thing I saw when I opened the box, and needless to say, I was disappointed. MORE blocks? Ugh. However, these are well made, wooden blocks, and they are nicely sized to fit in a little paw. It’s a 15 piece set, and the size and number of the blocks mean I can throw them in a baggie and put them in the diaper bag to use when we are out places. Disappointing to get more blocks, but still something we will use.

Charley Harper ABCs
Amazon price: $7.96
New books are hit and miss with The Boy. We have to read them aloud, in his presence, several times before he will deign to show interest. This one is a pretty basic ABC book (A is for Ape, B is for Bird, etc). The drawings of Charley Harper are what set it apart. They are nice illustrations, but when I started reading it, The Boy said “No!” and closed it up. I’m not sure if he didn’t like the book or didn’t like the newness. Only time will tell.

Happy Family Organic Superfoods Super Toddler Bar – Mixed Berry
Amazon price: $8.78/box of 5
New food is even worse than new books for my kid. He wouldn’t even try this. I took a bite, though, and it was pretty tasty. It had a strong, pleasant berry flavor, and a nice light texture. It’s made with brown rice, which is a nice change.

Episencial Playful Wash (8 oz)
Amazon price: $9.43
Smells nice; haven’t tried it yet. We don’t have any allergy problems, so I’m sure this will be just fine for bath use. It’s a combo body wash and shampoo that smells like tangerines.

Nail Color from Julep
Amazon price: $14.00
I have to be honest, it ticked me off to see this. For one thing, I order this box for my son, not for me. I don’t need a gift. For another thing, what if I weren’t a mom, but rather a dad? The box is shipped under my husband’s name. For all they know, I could be the grandmother and The Man could be raising our son alone. Regardless of the presumption, I would rather have had another goody for my son rather than a gift for me. Anyway, it’s a fine nail polish. I put it on last night.

So, leaving out the nail polish, I got $29.14 worth of items for $25.00. That’s a pretty good value, and the items are of good quality. We’ll keep going with the subscription, and hope that future boxes are a little more innovative with the toys and a little less concerned about throwing Mom a bone.

Want to get $10 off your own Citrus Lane box? Click here!

 

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