May 13, 2014


For awhile, I had a separate main blog along with this review blog. I've since started posting everything on the "main blog", and so this "review blog" is an archive of past reviews I've written about a variety of products.

To be frank, I didn't get into blogging for the products. Rather, once I started having "influence," the review opportunities started rolling in. I really do enjoy telling my audience about services, trips, experiences, food, and so forth that I enjoy; however, it feels a bit funny to have an entirely separate "review" space as if I'm some professional reviewer. Because I'm not. Rather, I will point out on my "main blog" when something truly merits a mention.

May 6, 2014

Camp Galileo: We're Going Down Under!

Galileo_Logo.jpgCan you taste it? Summer vacation is almost here. That means it is nearly time for Galileo Innovation Camps!

My younger son is in that "sweet spot" as an entering 5th grader where he's still eligible for Camp Galileo, but is also old enough for Galileo Summer Quest. It is a tough decision to select which camp to attend, so he may just end up going to both! 

He's already signed up for a week of Camp G and has selected "Adventures Down Under" as his preferred theme. I'm particularly thrilled that he chose this topic, since I spent a bit of time myself down under, and enjoyed it immensely. My son is going to learn quite a lot more about the region than I did, though, as he will create some traditional Papua New Guinean art; will learn the secrets of surviving wild winds and waves; and will learn about the Haka chants of the Maori, and even invent one of his own. 

Camp G's other 2014 themes include "Galileo Road Trip (along Route 66)," "The Incredible Human Body," and Leonardo's Apprentice." It is definitely tough to choose among these options, but it is even more difficult to narrow down a Summer Quest major. This year, there are 18 different areas of concentration, including brand-new offerings "Illuminated Art Studio," "Music Producers," "Chefology: International Eats," "3D Design and Printing," "Cool Chemistry, "DIY Screen Printing," "Minecraft Universe," and "Theater Troupe."

Once my son actually attends camp this summer, I'll report back on his adventures. Until then, check out Galileo Innovation Camps' website for more information about their programs. Now is definitely the time to sign up!

Then, in case you are curious about our past adventures, I've written about Camp Galileo and Galileo Summer Quest several times:
- posts of mine from a Spectrum of Reviews about Galileo Innovation Camps
- posts of mine from The Karianna Spectrum about Galileo Innovation Camps

Disclaimer: Galileo will provide my son one week of camp in exchange for my publicity of their program. Back in 2011 I had already paid for Camp G before they approached me, so it was a natural fit. Since then, I've paid for additional weeks of camp on my own dime, since I'm such a fan of the program! 

May 1, 2014

YoBaby Recall

This week, Stonyfield Organics voluntarily recalled a very small amount (188 multipacks) of their YoBaby multipack cups.

The possibly affected products - YoBaby Pear/Peach 6-pack cups - UPC 052159701161 all have a code date of June 5 2014 . These products could have only been purchased on or after April 23, 2014.

This voluntary recall affects ONLY these products, no others. At the time of the recall, Stonyfield has not received any complaints of illness or any other concerns from our customers or consumers. They chose to call back the product as a precautionary step.

If you purchased any of these products, please return any open or unopened containers to the store for a full refund.

I am a Stonyfield "Yo-Getter", although I admit I haven't been as active in the program as I would like. This program does not come with monetary compensation, but does -on occasion- come with product samples. I will receive no compensation for mentioning this recall; it is only to help spread the news in the unlikely event that any of my readers are affected.

March 19, 2014

Maleficent Movie in May

I cannot express fully how excited I am for Disney's Maleficent on May 30, 2014. This trailer has gotten me even more eager than before:

February 3, 2014

Multilingual Let it Go [Frozen]

I love Frozen's Let it Go (don't we all!?) but this version makes me even happier:

January 23, 2014

Gearing up for Galileo Innovation Camps

I know it is very hard to believe, but it is almost time to sign up for Galileo Innovation Camps! In the next couple months, there will be various discounts for early-registration, for recommending the camp to a friend, and more!

Galileo Innovation Camps

I have been very vocal about my love of the Galileo Innovation approach. I feel that my kids are entertained by the camp, but also learn valuable life lessons like it is OK (and even preferred!) to make mistakes. My kids have learned how to approach problems and solve them in a methodical way. And yet, they think they're just having fun! 

Galileo_Logo.jpgCamp G's 2014 themes include "Adventures Down Under," "Galileo Road Trip (along Route 66)," "The Incredible Human Body," and Leonardo's Apprentice." I'd have a tough time choosing between these, but would have even a more difficult time trying to narrow down a Summer Quest major. This year, there are 18 different areas of concentration, including brand-new offerings "Illuminated Art Studio," "Music Producers," "Chefology: International Eats," "3D Design and Printing," "Cool Chemistry, "DIY Screen Printing," "Minecraft Universe," and "Theater Troupe." Wow! 
- keep your eye on Galileo's Facebook page for registration discount promotions and for photos of past years of camp

Disclaimer: Galileo provided my sons one week of summer camp in exchange for my promotion of their program. (I will receive no further compensation or commission should any of my readers sign up.) Back in 2011 I had already paid for Camp G before they approached me, so it was a natural fit. Since then, I've paid for additional weeks of camp on my own dime, since I'm such a fan of the program!

January 21, 2014

Looking Ahead: Bandworks Summer Camp

bandworks-school-of-rock.jpgNow that the winter holiday season is over, it is time to think about summer camp! I know, I know, it seems too early. But, it is time to get summer activities in line.

Last year, my son had an amazing time at Bandworks camp. His enthusiasm was stronger than I could have ever imagined! I knew it would be a fun experience to try out being in a "rock band" but I had no idea just how rewarding the experience would end up being.

He had absolutely no experience going into camp, and yet he was perfectly in his element and learned a tremendous amount by the end of the week. On the flip side, I met families last year whose teenagers were very accomplished musicians who gushed that only Bandworks School of Rock had advanced-enough options to promote and satisfy their kids' accomplishments.

Bandworks really is for everyone from the very very beginner to the musician who is ready to record his or her own CD. Bandworks has after-school programs and also some special vacation camps. (Spring break, anyone?)

Registration for Summer 2014 is now open, so go check it out!

Disclaimer: My son received a week of Bandworks camp in 2013 in exchange for my review. (I will not receive further compensation or commission should any of you fabulous readers decide to rock.)

November 20, 2013

The Owner's Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain

The Owner's Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain: Review from A Spectrum of ReviewsAs we were driving from one errand to the next, my older son smirked at his brother, "Bet you can't name all the lobes in the brain!"

My ears perked up. After all, although I am a chauffeur extraordinaire to my boys and do a bunch of computer-related gigs in my "spare" time these days, I am a former neuroscientist.

My younger son quickly said, "Well, frontal - duh." But then stumbled a bit as he tried to recall the others.

My older son filled him in with an eye-roll, "Occipital - that's how you SEE, Doofus! And temporal, and parietal." He then went into further detail about each lobe, as I sat stunned in the driver's seat.

And then they started talking about drugs and the various affects of different substances on the brain. I figured out their information came from Red Ribbon Week assemblies at their respective schools. 

I was amazed at how much detail my seventh-grader and fourth-grader had absorbed. All I remember from my "drug education" days was a police officer with a very visible gun, handcuffs, and his huge club as he showed us a metal suitcase full of pills as if it were a spy hand-off. And, of course, I remember that stereotypical egg dropping into the sizzling pan.

The Owner's Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain: Review from A Spectrum of Reviews
Not soon after, Little Pickle Press approached me about reviewing their book The Owner's Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain. The timing was perfect! Not only do I have a son who is right in the midst of adolescence, but I have a very inquisitive younger son who likes to shake his head and sigh, "Teenagers!" whenever his older brother is surly.

Plus, it appeared both my kids already have had an introduction to brain science and enjoyed it enough to banter about it after school hours. So, why not continue to explore these interests?

Sure, there are plenty of "growing up" books out there, but this book's concept of framing adolescence in neuroscience terms shows the young men and women that they are capable of handling what is considered an "adult" science, and, it allows for discussion of puberty in a way that makes sense. This sets The Owner's Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain apart from the myriad of other "learn about your body" books, especially since this particular one doesn't rehash the "common" medically-related topics that kids blush over during health ed, but instead goes straight to the command center: the brain. The title and introduction of an "owner's manual" and the "driving" concept is clever, since many kids are eager to get their driver's licenses!

Continue reading "The Owner's Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain" »

November 5, 2013

A word about Tiny Prints

I had been a very loyal customer to a previously small, previously local greeting card company called Tiny Prints. (In the past, it was tiny*prints, then TinyPrints.) Unfortunately, it was purchased by a larger corporation, and as such, their procedures and formerly excellent customer service changed.

Originally, the company was generous with bloggers, recognizing our influence and the amount of time and energy it takes to thoroughly and thoughtfully review a product. Unfortunately, as it changed hands, the compensation for reviews became smaller. But, because I still "believed in" them, I agreed to review their holiday greeting cards last year. Our cards turned out fine, but I remember being disappointed that the designer review no longer exists (unless the customer pays a fee) and thus, the "personal touch" that made Tiny Prints so attractive was gone. 

Many years ago, a designer actually phoned me to double-check the spelling of my oldest son's name, since it is unusual. And then the designer personally emailed me the proof. That doesn't happen anymore. And so, last year my enthusiasm for Tiny Prints went markedly down.

I was sad then, but I'm even more so now.

I received an email today from one of the marketing people at Tiny Prints requesting that I remove links to their site "ASAP" because my support of them was hurting their Google ranking. They offered no compensation to do something that would benefit them, but harm me. 

I've inserted the "nofollow" attribute to my past links to save their precious ranking, but maintain my own online integrity; however, I've posted a disclaimer so that anyone looking at those past posts will note my disappointment with the company. 

The irony -of course- is that because I had been so prolific with my praise and support of them, the task of updating these posts was very time-consuming. I was punished for being enthusiastic about this company.

Alas, Tiny Prints has lost a customer. And, I know other bloggers who are taking their business elsewhere as well. Tiny Prints could have handled their request much better. It is a shame.



Apparently, some bloggers have received a follow-up email saying to disregard the previous request. I did not receive that email or any other communication after the first email. 

To be clear, I understand that sometimes companies will request updates of bloggers who have posted about their products in the past, but this usually comes with a familiarity of the client-blogger relationship. But, in this case, the marketing person wrote "Our team may have worked with you in the past which resulted in links back to our site." 

"..may have"?

I've wrote about their company multiple times since 2008. Some posts were compensated in the form of free product, other mentions were completely out of the kindness of my own heart. So yes, I feel slapped in the face.

Updated #2:

Some bloggers received yet another follow-up, this one offering a small sum of money to change the links. This is insulting TWO ways: 1) That only some people received an offer of monetary incentive and 2) that said incentive is so small.

Tiny Prints' treatment of this really belittles the work that bloggers do, and is turning their backs on the dedication/loyalty we had to the company.

September 4, 2013

The Fifth Estate

The Fifth Estate movie opens October 18th. Since I'm a Benedict Cumberbatch fan, I'll of course have to go see this film, especially as we're still waiting for Sherlock, third series.

The Fifth Estate Movie

I did not receive compensation for putting up this movie banner.
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