Hey, I’m back! And I don’t care what you want to read!

I occasionally read other blogs. If you looked at my Bloglovin’ feed, you’d think I spent my entire day reading them. Nope – I actually probably read other blogs maybe a few times a week.

Even though I don’t read them much, one thing I often see is the blog writer asking readers what they want to see. What do you want me to write about? Do you want funny, fluff stuff? Do you want heartwarming, deeply convicted pieces? Do you want pictures of cats wearing stupid costumes?

Questions like that crack me up, and also made me realize something very important about my own blog experiences: I don’t give a shit what my readers want to see.

Here’s the thing. I write because I have things swirling around in my head, and because there is limited space in my head already I need to get those things out. So I spew them out onto the Internet. Well, I’m going to start spewing them out onto the Internet, anyway.

I stopped blogging several months ago. Part of the reason was because it started to feel more like a chore than a fun diversion. I was too concerned about page views and reader comments, obsessed with writing that one piece that would go viral and net me some online popularity. It was exhausting and took up way more of my time than I wanted. So I walked away from all of it.

Recently, I’ve felt the call to write again. Life has stabilized a bit, which may  have something to do with it. Or maybe pregnancy hormones are causing traffic jams of thoughts in my head and I want them out. Either way, if I write something, it will be for me, not you. If you enjoy it – cool! If you don’t – that’s cool too!

My new blogging mantra is this:

If you write it, they will come. Or maybe they won’t. Either way, it’s a win because I’m writing again.

REVIEW: SumahoMAMA Touch and Sing Along Picture Book

REVIEW: SumahoMAMA Touch and Sing Along Picture Book

*Full disclosure:  I was asked to do this review and the company provided me some dolla bills to purchase in-app features. All opinions and pictures are my own and not influenced by the cheddar I received. All screenshots were taken by me during actual gameplay.

I feel like a “big-timer.” I was approached by SumahoMAMA to review their Touch and Sing Along Picture Book, which is available as a free app. Woot! My son loves playing on my iPad and I like giving my opinion on stuff, so WIN.

youareagoodmamadotcom

The app is free to download (see links at end) and comes with a few songs. I purchased one of the Super Value Packs, which netted me 6 additional songs for $4.99 (a savings of $0.95, as the individual songs are $0.99 apiece). Each song plays in the background, while an accompanying game provides several ways for the child to engage by touch or sound. These are the songs I tested out with my one-week-shy-of-3 son:

Hokey Pokey (free)
I wish I had something nice to say about this one, but the avatars used to do the Hokey Pokey all creeped me out. It randomly tells you to shake it, but when you shake the iPad, nothing appears to happen with the avatar. Plus, it’s kind of confusing because the avatar faces you, so it’s left is the child’s right; so the avatar will put its right hand forward and say it’s the left hand. Maybe I’m overthinking it, but doesn’t seem helpful to me.

SumahoMAMAHokeyPokey
I wouldn’t want to do the Hokey Pokey with these characters

Alphabet Song (free)
Really cute game. A balloon is held up with a letter and the child is asked to find the same letter out of 6 other balloons. Once he picks the right letter, he gets to see an interactive picture of something that starts with that letter (for example, he could strum the guitar for G). It’s also split up into sections (A-F, G-L, etc.) and toggles between uppercase and lowercase letters. Once my son realized the purpose was NOT to pop every balloon, he really enjoyed finding the letters and getting the “special surprise.”

TheAlphabetSongSumahoMAMA
Bigfoot dances!

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (free)
This one teaches kids the names of the planets. The planets are all sort of swirling around the screen, and are named as they are touched. My son particularly loved the rocket that occasionally flies by. My beef with this one was the weird characters that popped up on the planets as they were named. Some of them looked like they died after being named! Venus’ worm lost its head, Jupiter’s frog spun in circles, Mercury’s fish died, the astronaut popped the moon and looked terrified as it sped off in space, and Uranus’ ice cream splattered all over the inside of its spaceman helmet. WEIRD.

Unnecessary death in a children's song
Unnecessary death in a children’s song

Old MacDonald Had a Farm (part of $4.99 pack; $0.99 for individual song)
While the song plays, your child can make sheep jump over a fence, touch various animals to hear their name and voice (Mooooo! Cow!) or mess with the farmer. It engaged my son for awhile, but the song is on a loop (and the activities don’t change) so became very repetitive. It also seemed a little disorganized, as the activities didn’t correlate at all to the song (it’d be singing about ducks while my son was counting a sheep, then making the donkey bray after hitting the cowbell).

OldMacDonaldHadAFarmSumahoMAMA
Just way too much going on in this one

I’ve Been Working on the Railroad (part of $4.99 pack; $0.99 for individual song)
The song plays on a loop while a train passes through a countryside. Lots of things to touch and hear the name, and quite possibly the world’s most annoying whistle. My son loved touching that whistle button so much, I had to take it away for fear my head would explode. The child gives it two thumbs up, the mother gives it two thumbs in the ear. So if screeching whistles give you a headache, my advice would be to encourage listening to other songs or pop headphones on the kiddo while he plays.

Decent little game, minus the whistle
Decent little game, minus the whistle

Parade of Wooden Soldiers (part of $4.99 pack; $0.99 for individual song)
As the song plays, you get to touch the toys and make them move. If you touch the door that says, Do Not Open, a little boy peeks out and the toys freeze. Pretty cute. My son loved touching the airplane and making it fly away, with the fire-breathing dragon a close second. He even made up a little “story” – that the dragon was cleaning the airplane when it breathed the fire on it. The musical instruments that a child can “play” are a cymbal and a piano – much less annoying to me than the whistle!

It's a toy party, until you wake the kid up
It’s a toy party, until you wake the kid up

Bingo (part of $4.99 pack; $0.99 for individual song)
This one came with 5 rounds of a “Find Bingo” game – the child is presented with a picture of Bingo the dog and asked to pick him out among several different dogs. My not-quite-3yo son finished the 5 rounds in about 60 seconds. He enjoyed replaying it, but I don’t think it was worth $0.99.

Good concept for game; not enough content
Good concept for game; not enough content

The Farmer in the Dell (part of $4.99 pack; $0.99 for individual song)
While the song plays, the child is presented with a pattern and asked to choose which one will come next (example: child, wife, child, wife, ?). This one was a bit of a challenge for my son, as we’re still learning patterns. However, it only came with 3 rounds. Not worth $0.99 to me.

Not enough content for $0.99
Not enough content for $0.99

London Bridge (part of $4.99 pack; $0.99 for individual song)
I’m not even sure what the point of this game was. A character starts to walk across a bridge, the bridge falls apart and the character falls to the water. Luckily, the character is saved before he hits the water – either by a ship, a mechanical fish, a friendly mermaid, a grumpy octopus or a dragon. There are different characters to drop into the water – a soldier, a punk rocker, and so on – but that seems to be the extent of the game. The bridge pieces change each time it resets, but there doesn’t seem to be much, if any, interactive play. As far as I know, the character never makes it to the other side. Definitely not worth $0.99.

It's fun, if you just like watching people fall off a bridge
It’s fun, if you just like watching people fall off a bridge

There are other songs available as well, such as The Muffin Man, The Wheels on the Bus and a few others. In addition, there are several traditional Japanese children’s songs sung in English. All are $0.99, unless you buy them as part of a Super Value Pack. Then you save $0.95.

The app also allows you to record your own versions of the songs, which is kind of fun. Then you get to hear just how off-key you actually sing! But as a military parent, I see an added bonus to this feature. When Mom or Dad has to deploy, he/she can record the songs before leaving – allowing a child to hear Mom or Dad’s voice anytime.

Bottom line
It’s a great free app in that it is colorful and keeps a toddler entertained. I would have paid money for one of the free songs (The Alphabet Song), but didn’t think some of the others were worth their $0.99 price tag (Bingo, Farmer in the Dell). Others were fun, but kind of weird. And I’m pretty sure the creepy clown and hairy chest guy from the Hokey Pokey will be included in my next nightmare. If you asked me to say yea or nay, I’d have to say meh.

SumahoMAMA has some videos on YouTube, where you can preview the songs: http://www.youtube.com/user/sumahomama. Or if you’re ready to try it out, find your version here:

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/app/id655370145
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=jp.co.xing.picturebook&hl=en
Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00E95A4JE

I’m Auditioning For Idol!

I’m Auditioning For Idol!

…Blogger Idol, that is. I don’t want to be the next William Hung.

It’s a little scary to put myself out there like that. It’s one thing to do blog hops and link-ups, which bring great exposure. This is putting my stuff out there for the specific purpose of being judged. I’m already pretty sure I’m not going to get picked for the Top 12, but I’m going to do it anyway. I’m scared to death of being rejected, but even if I don’t make it, I figure I can learn something from it. More people will see my words, which is awesome. I’ll probably get to find some other great blogs (I never would have found Momastery if I hadn’t gotten to know some other bloggers from the Honest Voices link-up). And who knows – maybe I’ll make it into the Top 12 and get the chance to hone my writing skills and get solid feedback from other writers.

There are some great prizes involved: $300 gift certificate to Marware, $300 gift certificate to Bullet Designs, One Free Month of Intermediate Level Blog Management Services from Bloom Blogs ($249 value), 1 Week of Full Service Pinterest Management from Little Birdie Social Media ($50 value), One Year of PicMonkey Royale ($33 value), $25 Gift Certificate to Baconery (mmm, bacon) and a $25 Amazon Gift Certificate. I’m uber-duber excited about the PicMonkey Royale prize – I love making buttons for my posts on PicMonkey and I’m dying to try out the Royale features (but I’m too cheap to buy them). And who doesn’t love free money at Amazon?

If I make the Top 12, you may see me begging for votes. I’ll try to keep it to a minimum, pinky swear. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter and, if you feel so inclined, support me in going for Blogger Idol 2013! Check out http://www.facebook.com/bloggeridol and let them know you want ME to make it to the Top 12! You can also find the list of judges and let them know how awesome I am (and read their stuff ’cause it’s good).

BloggerIdol2013YouAreAGoodMamadotcom

 

Finish The Sentence Friday

I love having some outside inspiration for writing. It makes me get outside my comfort zone and write about something that I might not have thought about. I also love link-ups because I meet so many great people!

I’m trying out a new Friday link up: Finish the Sentence Friday. The hostesses are Stephanie from Mommy, for Real, Janine from Janine’s Confessions of a Mommyaholic, Kate from Can I Get Another Bottle of Whine? and Dawn from Dawn’s Disaster. This week’s topic is “When I was younger…”

19048_1359540148149_7809659_n
Circa 1999

When I was younger, I lacked self esteem. I remember a nervous girl, wanting so badly to fit in and be one of the “cool kids” but feeling like I’d never be good enough. In high school, I floated between different groups, hoping to find my niche. I was in the advanced placement classes, but felt inadequate because I wasn’t the smartest. I played varsity volleyball, but felt ineffective because I wasn’t one of the stars. I had plenty of boyfriends, but felt ugly because certain boys weren’t interested in me. Drinking alcohol helped me break out of my shell, because when you’re buzzed and blacked out, you don’t care what other people are thinking. Alcohol really was liquid courage for me, but it ended up being my worst enemy (2 sexual assaults while blacked out before graduating high school is not a proud achievement). I didn’t know who I was, so I tried on many identities in my search for the “right one.” None of them fit and I ended up with what felt like a split personality: the smart, hardworking, good girl who turned into the loud, smoking, crazy party girl when the alcohol hit her lips.

Senior picture
Senior picture

I made so many bad decisions when I was younger because I was afraid. Afraid of ridicule, afraid of being disliked, afraid of being alone. This is one thing that terrifies me as a mother: that my child might grow up to make decisions based on fear. My parents did the best they could for me; I don’t blame them for my problems. I know that there are marked differences between my childhood and my son’s childhood so far, but still I worry that I won’t do the “right things” to help nurture a strong sense of self in him. I want him to know who he is and not be afraid to make decisions that honor that – even if those decisions don’t go with the popular opinion.

There are so many things I wish I could tell that girl. If I could sit down with my younger self, I’d tell her:

  • Don’t straighten your hair. Your curls are gorgeous if you just leave them alone. YOU are beautiful without changing what you look like.
  • Don’t sleep with that guy. He doesn’t love you and you will not love yourself for doing it. You will not find your self worth in the arms of random men. Respect your body and don’t be afraid to say no. If he does leave you because you said no, he didn’t deserve you in the first place.
  • Don’t strive for perfection. It’s not possible. Be happy with where you are and what you have accomplished. You don’t have to be perfect to be loved.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Being strong doesn’t mean suffering silently. Tell someone how much it hurts before it’s too late.
  • Don’t stop writing. It saved your life once and will keep wounds from festering. Writing is your voice in this world; don’t let your pain silence you.

Liebster? WTF is that?

Liebster? WTF is that?

liebster-blog-awardI was nominated for an award. These things are pretty awesome, because it means someone else looked at my blog and thought, that blog deserves an award. And that someone else wasn’t my mom, so double win. My new friend Julie at Next Life No Kids nominated me, which I think is pretty frickin’ awesome considering our first conversation was an argument that ended in a mutual agreement that cheese is awesome (cheese was unrelated to the original argument). All arguments should end that way.

queen cheese

*Note: for once, Google failed me. I typed in “queen cheese” and no pictures of cheese with a crown came up (though a surprising number of girls in dumb trucker hats did pop up). So, I made the above masterpiece myself. All hail the queen.

Since I have found myself with a plethora of free time since finishing my CNA course (CNA standing for Certified Nurse Assistant or Chuck Norris Approved, depending on my mood), I’m diving right into this. Because there are strings with this award. I can’t just put a sweet badge on my blog, I gotta work for this thing (Whomp, whomp)! Who am I kidding – I love writing about myself so of course I don’t mind. Though some would say I have a problem being told what to do, so we’ll see how this goes…

Dem rulezLiebster

  1. List 11 facts about yourself.
  2. Answer the 11 questions given to you.
  3. Ask 11 new questions to the bloggers you nominate
  4. Choose 11 bloggers (with 200 or less followers) to nominate.
  5. Visit each bloggers page and tell them about the award.
  6. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to them
  7. No track backs (so we’re clear, I still have no idea what this means) <—- Julie had this in her rules and I left it because I, too have no idea what this means

I wonder what the deal is with all the 11’s? I suddenly realize that I have a thing for even, round numbers because this emphasis on 11 vaguely bothers me. Does that count as my first fact? Nah, just consider it a bonus.

11 Facts about MEEEEEE

  1. I was the Coos County (Oregon) Spelling Bee Champion in 2nd, 3rd, and 5th grades. 4th and 6th grades, I lost 1st place to some d-bag whose name I totally don’t still remember (bitter, much?).
  2. I was the Forum Editor for my community college newspaper. I was nominated for this position because it’s been said I like to complain about things. Strangely, the position suited me.
  3. I flunked out of sailing school when I was 10 or 11. I crashed one of the small boats into my best friend and decided that was enough sailing for me.
  4. I love Disney movies. One of the best fringe benefits of having a kid is getting to watch all those classic movies. NOTE: Home on the Range is not in this category; please don’t ever make the mistake of exposing your child to this particular Disney movie. He will want to watch it incessantly and it does, in fact, suck.
  5. I’m slightly obsessed with playing bingo. Senior years, I’m ready for you!
  6. I just discovered the other day that my favorite type of pizza is sausage and banana peppers. Wonder if that will still taste good on a cauliflower crust?
  7. ^^I ask that question because I try to eat somewhat Paleo. I did a 21 day sugar detox a while ago and felt fantastic afterward.
  8. I am addicted to caffeine and I am ok with that.
  9. I quit smoking cigarettes a few years ago. I’ve had a few lapses since officially quitting, but have never fully gone into a relapse. It’s been almost a year since my last cigarette and I’m pretty stoked on that.
  10. I really miss my cat, Lola. She passed away 2 years ago. I was there, stroking her head and telling her how much I loved her when she passed. It still hurts because I still blame myself for not seeing her sickness until it was too late.
  11. I am an only child, but my parents have since adopted two Pomeranians who are very annoying little brothers.

Whew! Now for some more fascinating information about me as I answer the questions Julie wrote:

  1. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? Probably Israel and the Middle East. I’m fascinated by the Bible as a historical document and it would be crazy amazing to see some of those places in person.
  2. Who in your life has had the most influence on you or your writing? My son, no doubt. He inspires most of my writing (since I write primarily about motherhood and breastfeeding). He also makes me want to be a better person.
  3. On a scale of 1-10, how attractive do you think you are? Please explain. 🙂 Ack! Shoot, I guess I’d say I’m a 6? I’m trying to love and accept my body for what it is and not be angry at it for what it isn’t. I like my blue eyes, I like my dimples and I’m learning to like my curly hair.
  4. Horror film or chic flick? If it’s a horror film from the 80s, count me in. I love all those super cheesy horror films that still make me crap my pants – Monkey Shines, Ghoulies, Pumpkinhead, Child’s Play, Puppet Master, Freddie movies, Jason movies. The 80s sure knew how to scare and entertain at the same time.
  5. How long have you been blogging? I launched www.youareagoodmama.com in September 2012. This is the first time I’ve consistently blogged. I’ve started other blogs (I have like 9 WordPress addresses) but have never gotten past one or two posts.
  6. What is your biggest pet peeve? People who drive with their blinker on. OMG, are you turning or are you not??? MAKE UP YOUR MIND!!!
  7. Do you have any bad habits we should know about? Yes – I have several character defects that I’m working on! Stay tuned for a future post about those 🙂
  8. What’s your favorite blog to follow? Why? Hmm, depends on the reason. For humor, I love Martinis or Diaper Genies and Baby Sideburns. Seriously hysterical. For levelheaded parenting stuff, I like PhD in Parenting. For everything breastfeeding, I adore The Leaky Boob.
  9. What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given? Forgive yourself.
  10. What’s the worst piece of advice you’ve been given? A wedge haircut would look great on you.
  11. What is the first thing you would do if I gifted you a million dollars? Look at you suspiciously, then grab the money and run, laughing maniacally. Then when I’d come to my senses, I’d do something awesome for you to say, Hey thanks for the million dollars, buddy! After that, I’d give the rest to my husband to manage because he is so much better at managing money than I am.

And here are my nominees!Liebster2

Jennifer at Half Crunchy Mom

Aprille at Beautiful in His Time

Arielle at Their World We Live In

Kristen at it.started.with.a.bump

Nikki at Thirty Something Mom

Meredith at From Meredith to Mommy

Michiko at There’s Something About Michiko

Sara at I Choose Joy (she recently posted she’s taking a much-needed break from blogging. But mark her for the future!)

*Yes, I realize there are only 8 when the instructions said 11. I’m new, I don’t know that many bloggers yet! Plus, slipping in an even number is calming me down.

My questions for the lovely nominees:

  1. What’s your favorite childhood memory?
  2. If you could do any job in the world (money/education no object), what would you do and why?
  3. You’re stuck on a desert island that has food, water and shelter (your basic survival needs are met). What 3 things would you wish to have with you and why?
  4. What person, dead or alive, is your hero?
  5. What’s your favorite animal?
  6. What’s your go-to snack?
  7. What inspired you to start your blog?
  8. What’s your favorite type of music?
  9. Which cartoon character would you most want to hang out with?
  10. Is there anything that makes you giggle uncontrollably?
  11. What’s your favorite flower?