Saturday, March 19, 2011

Book Review: "Un, Deux, Trois" (First French Rhymes)

Un, Deux, Trois: First French Rhymes (Book & CD)

Now that I have my very own little disciples living at my house, I’m more excited than ever about language education and – specifically for the sake of this “bargain blog” – great finds for teaching languages to little ones.

Even if you’re not trying to teach multiple languages to little ones, feel free to keep reading. After all, reliable research proves that the best way to learn a new language is the same way you learned your first language when you were little! (You might pick up some tips for really learning that language you spent two or three years on in high school!)

Those who know me know I love languages. Having had the great privilege of growing up bilingual in South America, (Yes! I realize that fact is a great gift from God!) I’m eager for my children to grow up exposed to (or better yet “immersed in”) at least one other language.

Having majored in languages and second language education and having taught languages in a variety of settings, I’m excited to share the tips I’ve gleaned for how best to teach languages to little ones. So, this is the first of a series of posts on teaching languages to little ones – and perhaps learning the language in order to teach it!

At this point, God’s leading in our lives points to our little ones growing up bilingual like I did. However, I’m still keenly interested in their learning yet another language – partly because of the time and resources I’ve already invested in the (on-going) learning of it and partly because there are great advantages to language learning. So, I’m choosing French as the third language for my little ones.

For the sake of time, I’ll mention only one resource in this post:

Un, Deux, Trois: First French Rhymes (Book & CD) 

We purchased this book and CD set three years ago from when our toddler was already learning both English and Spanish. As is most likely true of all very small children, she was intrigued by the sounds of another language – and the fact that Mommy actually understood what was going on! (We’ve since struggled, living in an English-speaking world, to get her to continue with both primary languages – but chronicling that will provide an abundance of material for other posts...)

Having been reminded recently that babies establish neurological paths for the specific sounds of languages surrounding them (such that they can more easily learn languages later on), I'm eagerly exposing my baby (as well as my toddler) to the sounds of French.

So, back to our book (and CD):

I like:
  • the inclusion of a CD
  • the fact that native French speakers read (and interpret) the rhymes (ensuring the absorption of correct intonation and pronunciation)
  • the simple, tasteful piano accompaniment (to the rhymes) on the CD
  • the variety of rhymes (Some are games; others are songs.)
  • the colorful artwork and layout of the rhymes on the pages (Click on the book to Look Inside!)
I also like the fact that the rhymes are laid out like a journey from the fields to the market place and ulimately to the house in order to help the child use the language meaningfully. Key words are illustrated and labeled throughout the book (thus providing opportunities to learn in small increments as well as larger ones), and the Guide (for teachers and parents) at the back of the book explains the rhymes and how to play some of the games, highlighting useful (idiomatic) phrases that children can use in simple conversations.

Click on the “Look Inside” feature to explore the book!

This book and CD set is currently available from for $9.95 and is also eligible for the 4-for-3 promotion. (Details on the page.)

I was not compensated in any way for this review; all opinions are 100% my own. That said, I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Friday, March 18, 2011

FREE Italian Ice at Rita's – only on 03/20

Mark your calendars to celebrate March 20 – the "official" arrival of spring!

Rita's will be celebrating the day by giving away 10-oz. cups of their famous Italian Ice! Yum!

For those in Greenville, SC: Don't forget the newer location on Pleasantburg Drive in the shopping center next to the Home Depot.

Read the details. While you're there, you may as well sign up for the Birthday Club, too!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Review: “Changing Diapers, Changing Minds”

The “Changing Diapers, Changing Minds” program, offered by Jillians Drawers (a mom-owned company in upstate New York), is a great way to decide if cloth diapering is for your family. For a $10 program fee, you can try out a wide variety of cloth diapers for 21 days.

The $155 package (give or take $5.00, depending on what’s in stock) includes enough diapers for full-time diapering. (See a sample list below.) A quick look at the prices leads me to conclude that overall you’ll be getting the diapers at better prices than if you ordered the same ones individually elsewhere – especially considering the fact that this trial program includes free shipping.

A sample list might include:

1 Kissaluvs Fitted Diaper
1 Thirsties Duo Wrap
1 Thirsties Duo Pocket Diaper
1 Smartipants One-Size Diaper
1 Fuzzi Bunz Perfect Size Diaper
1 GroVia Shell
1 GroVia Soaker Pad
2 BumGenius V4.0 One-Size Pocket Diaper with Snaps
2 OsoCozy Indian Prefolds
2 Bleached Chinese Prefolds
1 Snappis Diaper Fastener
5 sample sheets of Flushable Liners from Imse Vimse

Basically, the program can work in one of three ways:

  1. After 21 days, if you decide to keep all the diapers, you will be refunded the $10 program fee, thus paying only $145 (give or take $5.00) in the end.
  2. If you decide to return all the diapers, you pay only the $10 program fee – and you will know that you gave cloth diapering a fair trial.
  3. If you decide to keep some of the diapers and return others, you will pay the $10 program fee (plus return shipping), but you will get in-store credit for the value of the returned diapers – plus free shipping on your next order from Jillian’s Drawers.
I chose the third option, returning over half of the cloth diapers we tried out. Only one was a matter of definite dislike, others were a matter of preference given our current life of travel, and still others would soon be outgrown. (Because our tall “Little Man” tends to be right on the top edge of fitted diaper sizes, the “one size” options seem better for us.)

In my opinion, the greatest benefit of this “Changing Diapers, Changing Minds” program is that it allows potential customers (like me!) to honestly try cloth diapering – without paying bunches in shipping and handling – in order to find out:
1.      whether or not cloth diapering will work in the first place, and
2.      which diaper styles we like and which ones we don’t.

So, in a nutshell: How did “Changing Diapers, Changing Minds” work for me?

I became persuaded that cloth diapers are much better than disposable. They’re not just frugal, they’re also fun! Today’s cloth diapers come in a great variety of colors and styles.

You can read more about how I grew to love cloth diapering in previous posts:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Working on building a stash of cloth diapers...

Previous to our very messy adventures (during a return to disposable diapers), we had made diapering with only six cloth diapers work because we were on our own for a week and had easy access to laundry equipment. That experiment, however, emphasized the necessity of having enough cloth diapers on hand to make laundering more efficient; we were washing a small load of diapers every day that week.

And that brings me back to the Changing Diapers, Changing Minds Program...

I did end up returning over half of the cloth diapers we tried out. Only one was a matter of definite dislike, others were a matter of preference given our current life of travel, and still others would soon be outgrown. (Because our tall “Little Man” tends to be right on the top edge of fitted diaper sizes, the “one size” options seem better for us overall.)

At the end of the 21-day trial period, I decided to keep:
  • the SmartiPants pocket diaper (with one microfleece insert)
  • the two BumGenius pocket diapers (with double microfleece inserts)
  • the KissaLuvs (insert only)
In my opinion, the greatest benefit of this Changing Diapers, Changing Minds Program is that it allows potential customers (like me!) to honestly try cloth diapering – without paying bunches in shipping and handling – in order to find out:
1. whether or not cloth diapering will work in the first place, and
2. which diaper styles we like and which ones we don’t.
So, here’s how “Changing Diapers, Changing Minds” is working out for me:

I started with $150, given as a gift. My goal has been to stick as close as possible to that sum. I paid the $10 program fee plus $10 in shipping to return unwanted diapers via an insured service; Jillians Drawers gave me in-store credit for the returns – plus free shipping on my next order. I was excited to discover that “gently used” diapers are resold at reduced prices. (What a smart idea!)

Per Jillians Drawers, all “gently used” items have been used for 30 days or less and can be returned within seven days of receipt. Diapers in “excellent condition” have been used for four weeks or less and have no visible staining.

I plan to use the $76 in credit to buy the following gently-used diapers:
  • one more SmartiPants (One Size) – $11.75
  • one Thirsties Duo Diaper (Size 2) – $13.25
  • one FuzziBuns (Medium) – $13.50
I also ordered the Diaper Cover Sampler (Medium) – $42.95
  • one Bummis Super Whisper Wrap
  • one Prorap Classic Diaper Cover
  • one Thirsties Diaper Cover (the newest version)
  • one Imse Vimse Organic Diaper Cover
(Since the gently-used Thirsties Duo Wraps were out of stock, I'm glad I discovered this option which is actually better value! I plan to use these covers with the KissaLuvs and the prefolds I already have.)

I’m thinking that the Thirsties Duo Diaper (with Velcro tabs) and FuzziBuns (“fitted”) will be the best options for babysitters or grandparents, etc. who may be unfamiliar with modern cloth diapers (in other words, folks who probably won’t want to try to figure out adjustable snaps, etc. while trying to get a diaper on a wriggling baby!)

When the used diapers arrive, I’ll have a total of (at least) thirteen combinations – in addition to a stack of prefolds (previously given to me) that can be stuffed into the diaper covers. I should then be “all set” with enough to cloth diaper full-time, washing larger loads of diapers every third day (or so). As I found out last week, it’s hard to maximize on the money-saving potential of cloth diapering when you have to wash small loads every day...

Stay tuned for a detailed review of the Changing Diapers, Changing Minds Program...

Monday, March 14, 2011

To cloth diaper while traveling – or not?

That is the question!

We switched to disposable diapers for a few days when our travels took us where laundering would be hard to predict... However! Our Little Man had so many “blow-outs” in the church nursery – at least once during every service (except one!) at a three-day missions conference – that I was repeatedly wishing he’d been wearing cloth...

We have yet to experience a “blow-out” with cloth diapers! (Gotta love ‘em!) So! Due to the messy experiences of this past weekend, I’m seriously considering using cloth diapers on the road. The big question will be a place to launder them. As those who cloth-diaper full-time know, you can only go so long with a bag of wet and dirty diapers!

I'd appreciate any insight from full-time cloth-diapering moms – especially any who are traveling (full-time).

Thursday, March 10, 2011

How's cloth diapering goin'?

As much as travel has allowed, I’ve been working on cloth diapering – using the six cloth diapers I have on hand:
Our “diaper pail” has been a very frugal version of a “wet bag” – i.e. a giant-sized Ziploc bag!

I’ve been finding diaper liners to be a great help. If unsoiled, these can be washed and reused, too!

For laundering, I started with Arm & Hammer Sensitive Detergent (because I had some on hand). It worked well. Following a friend’s recommendation, I later took advantage of a $10 coupon for and was able to get a tub of Charlie’s Soap for $5.00! My little ones tend to have sensitive skin, so this is an especially great product for our family.

Six diapers – with a place to launder them – have worked okay, and I was even brave enough to keep a cloth diaper on “Chubbs” for a Wednesday evening service at a church we visited. I figured I would forewarn the ladies in the nursery when I signed him in, asking them to page me if they were not comfortable with the idea of changing a cloth diaper. (As it was, I ended up in the nursery with him, so I was the one on-hand to change him anyway...)

Stay tuned for a detailed review of the Changing Diapers, Changing Minds Program...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Zulily Deals: Seersucker Dresses for $11.99

I'm excited about Zulily, a fabulous new online store offering daily sales at up to 90% off on top-quality apparel, gear, and other goodies for moms, babies, and kids!

Today's deal (good through 6:00 a.m. PST on 03/10/11) includes seersucker dresses for $11.99! These are great for summer travel!

Isn't this one cute?!
Sizes range from 0-3M up to 6X.

Use the following coupon codes to save even more on your order:

GA1189 – $5.00 off $50 purchase
GA9331 – $5.00 off $50 purchase
COUPCAB316 – 10% off $30 purchase

Membership for zulily is free! Check 'em out!

(Thanks, Fiddledeedee Mom!)