Friday, December 4, 2009

Pretty Please Books Review and Giveaway

I was given the opportunity to review some books geared towards the ages of my kids. I like the idea behind these books, basically teaching values and character building with more advanced books than you normally see. When my son was younger, we really needed the "No Hitting" and "No Biting" cute little board books, and they even kind of worked. I'm also struggling with getting my older guy to like reading, so am always open to suggestions. This was also perfect timing with the 2nd grade lessons, which include not just summarizing the books but explaining the author's message.

There are currently four books available from Pretty Please press. You can get 20% off the list price for books purchased through the website as well as a “buy 3 books, get 1 free” offer, but this great offer expires December 31, 2009.

We read three of the four books. As much as my kids love dogs, I just could not get them to crack open anything with ballet dancing puppies. My favorite was the The Scritchy Little Twitchell Sisters which I read with Donovan, who's a lot more open to new books. The was silly and hilarious, about fighting siblings who go on tour. We read Kick Block Punch several times, my boys are eager to start karate as soon as they get the okay from dad. I was really hoping they would like Pynx more, the illustrations were wonderful and imaginative. The books were long enough to allow for some discussion, but the messages simple enough for my 5 and 7 year olds to get right away. I can't say my kids loved the books, but I don't have big readers here and they sat through the whole book which is not a guarentee around here. I would love to see a silly book with brothers, or planes or big trucks. Sadly my son will judge a book by it's cover.

You can take advantage of the discount, or you can try to win these books for yourself. I'm giving away all four books. The minimal requirement is to leave a comment here, but if you want to help out you can also do one or more of the following:
  • check out the Pretty Please website
  • include one of your or your child's favorite book in the comment
  • retreat this on twitter (@nicole_pelton) or post on your blog for an extra entry. Use this or post your own: (@nicole_pelton is giving away books from Pretty Please press

The contest will end on midnight Monday, December 14th and I'll have my little readers pick a number out of a hat.


Full disclosure: I was given these books for free to review and asked to post the review and do a giveaway on my blog. I was not influenced by the publishers nor given any monetary compensation for the post.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thank You Party Sponsors

I had the absolute pleasure of going to a Silicon Valley Moms blog holiday party, not the least of why it may be my only chance to really dress up this season (that awkward sentence was my gift to you this holiday blogging season). Hooray I'm back working at my old company, but they got rid of evening parties eons ago, so no chance there. This party was sponsored by Chevy, who gifted us with lovely Tiffany GM key chains.

Photo by Carla Duharte-Razua of babyjidesigns

Coffee mate gave us travel mugs and creamer, but more importantly gave me the kick in the butt I needed to donate some suits I never wear. They collected 95 pounds of clothes to send to Dress For Success, whose "mission is to promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life." You should go send a Cup of Confidence and COFFEE-MATE® will donate fifty cents to Dress for Success for every cup (or note) sent.

Photo by Carla Duharte-Razua of babyjidesigns

I actually won two fabulous items. One was a Nintendo Wii and Wii Fit Plus. Awesome awesome prize, yes and I got it by getting the highest points flapping like a chicken (Bird's-Eye Bulls-Eye to be exact). Tee hee. I got a Wii fit a while ago, and when I heard about the Wii Fit Plus I ran out to add it to our minimal Wii game collection. It was only $20 and it's got loads more games for 2 people. My kids can't seem to fathom games that are not competitive, so they only want to to the 2-person run, which is technically not a race but don't bother telling that to my kids. This Chicken flapping game is so silly my 5 and 7 year old boys refuse to do it, so I of course had to try for myself, and let them laugh at me. All that practice paid off and I got the high score. I've been encouraging my parents to get a Wii Fit, since my mom really needs to improve her balance and I thought this would be perfect. They have helped us out so much this year and I was glad to give them this gift, I just need my kids to get grandma to actually try it.

I also got three of Olive Smart Sack reusable bags, and won six more and I have to say these are so much better than all the other reusable grocery bags I have. They are compact, designed to fit in your cup holder so you don't forget to bring them in. I've been keeping them in my purse and they are so soft and so strong I love using them for everything. I swear I'm not just saying that because one of the owners of the company got me a glass of wine while his wife told me about the bags. I have a weirdness about certain materials, and these are really nice to the touch and come in pretty colors.

I left with goodies for the kids too. So often all the fun kids things are for babies or little girls plus my boys mostly wear soccer gear or jeans and t-shirts. They loved these soft blue grass hats from Zooni though, and sure looked adorable with the glasses from Teeny Tiny Optics. The baby blanket from Lucky Jade was soft and so different than most, can't decide if we should keep it or give it to an actual baby.

He likes the hat, just not having his picture taken.

There were so many great companies there. I got tickets to Wicked, which I've been wanting to see. I read the book a while ago, and keep hearing great things about this show. Tiny Prints! gave us a beautiful assortment of thank you and holiday cards and if we can get our act together and take a family photo we may order our Christmas cards, or more likely New Years, cards through them.

There were so many other sponsors, and you can see them here as well as get coupon codes for your holiday shopping. I will post more about all the great electronics and lotions and creams as I try them out.


Disclosure: I was not compensated monetarily for this post, nor was I obligated to post in any way. I did receive the products mentioned above for free.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Cute and Snuggly Hamsters, Whee!

Have you heard about Zhu Zhu pets (aagh, my ears - turn the sounds off before clicking)? My boys, their friends, and I got a chance to throw a party with these furry bundles of cuteness. Yes, I store them in a KFC bucket, wanna make something of it? These things are absolutely adorable, making cute sounds and racing around the house. There is no off button, but you can pet them to put them to sleep, start them back up and hold them and pet them and call them George.

We got a whole slew of hamsters.

Mr. Squiggles / Num Nums / Chunk / Pipsqueak (looks like there's a new one called Patches, and yes, they have bios).
Donovan picked Chunk - ha, remember that name, you'll get to hear my son say it over and over again. My kids only took two or three hours to choose which one they wanted, and after all my worries that nobody would want the girls, Keegan went with Num Nums. Could you die of the cuteness?

So here they are putting together the elaborate maze that we also got, although in hindsight I should have put it together before hand. I wanted to see how easy it was for kids to put together, and the answer is, not so much. While the hamsters are really nice quality - furry and soft and zoom around impressively, even backing up when they hit something, the plastic "habitrails" leave a lot of room for improvement. It really brings out the personalities, though. Some kids just gave up and went off to find obstacles to challenge their new little "pets" while those of us with a touch of OCD (raising hand) stuck it out and managed to put the thing together after I sent the boys off for snacks.

Check out the spread I created for these guys - thank you Zhu Zhu pets for the snack ideas. Yes, in answer to your question, boys can make weapon-like objects even at a hamster party, but we love us some fruit kabobs.

For some real hamster action, I present to you the completely non-professional, non-edited zhu zhu pets home movies. Pay not attention to the boy-generated sound effects in the background or the mom completely ignoring one of her sons. Just enjoy.

I think the pets make great gifts, although they are a little pricey. Think of them as furry robots and they are quite a bargain. The accessories all come separately, and the little car is my favorite, although every time I tried to use the ball some kid would grab it and take it apart so it was not fully tested.


I did get all of this free, including the set for us and the hamsters to give away. I was asked to post but was under no obligation and there was no monetary compensation for this.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Catching Up...Eek! And a winner

I am so behind on my reviews. I've got books, skateboards and hamsters with adorable and funny video to share if I can just get my computer to run a bit faster.

Without further ado, though, I am finally giving away the Cake Wrecks book. So so sorry for the delay.

I used since my number picking children are away at grandma and grandpas tonight, and the winner is Mar Vista mom Sarah Auerswald. Congrats!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Book Review: This is Where I Leave You

I just, literally (hah!) finished This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Trooper, this months Silicon Valley Moms blog pick for our virtual book club. I managed to finish this book in just about four days, which is not that unusual for me, but I would definately call this a dense book, in a good way, an excellent way. The story was so packed with description and dialogue, from the hilarious oversharing of the mom, the aging obese or pasty-legged visitors, to the angry thoughts constantly running through Judd's mind. Judd is the main character, who stumbles upon his wife with is boss, somehow manages to light the guy's testicles on fire with a birthday cheesecake and soon after leaves to sit shiva with his highly disfunctional family after his father dies. I loved his family. Perhaps I loved them because they made me laugh out loud, or made my family seem mroe normal, but it's more likely I envy their directness, their emotions that seem to leak though even when they try to hide them. One of the very last lines is:

"We can all drive stick. We can all change a flat. We can all repress our feelings until they poison us."

Sure their life was not perfect, okay there is no question it was screwy, but repressed emotions? Not in that house. Sure sarcasm about your mom's skirt length, insults hurled at matchmakers and the constant punching is probably not a healthy release of emotions, but it sure makes for fun reading. Like an engaging TV show, I wanted to jump in and snap those characters into action. "Alice, you can adopt. Get that husband of yours tested. I know the feeling, really, I pondered doing that same thing with my husband's nephew." "Judd, you are clearly using this affair as an excuse to get angry that your life is not a fairy tale with a happy ending. Nice Jewish boy does not get the hot babe unless he works hard on the marriage, especially after a loss like that. Who doesn't want to fall in love again? Get over yourself." Okay, got that off my chest.

In case it wasn't clear, I highly recommend this book.

And full disclosure, I got a free copy of this book

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Cake Wrecks Book and UnderNeat that "A Giveaway"

Read here about the book signing I attended for the fantabulous and hilarous new Cake Wrecks book based on one of my all-time favorite blogs. This book is really funny, as you can imagine, and it's got tons of stuff not on the blog. It is of course in the same spirit of the blog, funny without being mean spirited, family friendly and utterly silly.

If you've read the blog, you'll know how awesome Jen is with her commentary. She's added stories and oodles of new photos. There's a whole chapter on CCCs (cupcake cakes, ptooey), an ode to baby bottoms and "gut-wrenchingly awful, with a snide of snickering schadenfreude" wedding cake wrecks. To be honest I'd never even heard of groom's cakes before this blog, or it might have been the cake shows I obsess over. In this book we've got the question of which you'd rather eat, "a slimy whole fish or a fuzzy, month-old pickle?" Yum.

I'm not going to post any of her cakewrecks here, but here are some of my own highs and lows.

Pigs by me and Soccer cake by Brian, not to shabby. These were two of Donovan's cakes.

Two very busy Star Wars cakes for Keegan's 3rd birthday. Yes, I made one cake for preschool and one for a party at home.

It's Dialga, can't you tell?

And my masterpiece!

Get it, it's a fun book. Support your local bookseller, get it on sale at Amazon, or to win your very own autographed copy of Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes Go Hilariously Wrong leave a comment below, describing in detail a wrecked you've had made. No, I'm kidding, just leave any old comment by midnight next Saturday, 10/10 and I'll randomly pick a "winner."
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Friday, August 21, 2009

Close Encounters of the Third Grade Kind, It'll make you laugh and cry

This month the entertaining Phillip Done is coming out with his second book, Close Encounters of the Third Grade Kind: Thoughts on Teacherhood. I reviewed his first book here. He wants to add the word teacherhood to the lexicon, after all motherhood, fatherhood and parenthood are all words. In 11 chapters, one for each school month (just like pregnancy, the school year is longer than we think) he made me chuckle, tear up, appreciate teachers even more, and thoroughly enjoy reading about little kids from a teacher's perspective.

I've heard that he's taking a break from teaching to promote his books, which is sad because you can tell from his writing he'd make a great teacher. Just like his first book (with the even better title of 32 Third Graders and One Class Bunny), this new one is full of little anecdotes from 30 years of teaching third graders, such as a heartwarming tale of a troubled little girl reading to a dog, which made me cry both times I read it, or a student's dad bidding $210 at a school auction so his son could go trick or treating with his teacher. It was a battle between two boys who really knew their trick-or-treating, leaving Mr. Done with a list of TRICK-OR-TREATING LESSONS for his October chapter.

  • After being handed a piece of candy, always look back in the bowl to see
    what you did not get.

  • Old people are very generous or give you one peanut, there is no in

  • Men don't care what their handing out. Women give

  • Cute costumes = more candy.

  • His book is full of these "teaching truths" which of course are not always 100% true. I give out organic chocolate or toys, thank you very much. We can forgive him these generalizations, despite being a teacher, because they are clearly written out of love of teaching and many, many years of experience. Besides the funny and poignant parts, he covers the areas children love, like learning cursive, laughing at the teachers foibles and conducting messy science experiments. I see my son obsessed with learning cursive, but I affect the whole experiment when I'm in the class, so I don't often see first hand his spontaneous joy of learning.

    My only critique is I think this book could have been shorter. Each chapter covers different aspects of his hilarious and trying life as a teacher, but in some ways it's a lot of the same. I think both his books would make great gifts for teachers and parents of young kids.

    I've got two boys who started 2nd grade and kindergarten this year. I have absolutely loved all their male teachers and am glad there are teachers like Phillip and like the wonders in our school who have the patience and humor to teacher our little ones. This book comforted me in the knowledge that 3rd graders are still such little girls and boys, making mistakes, acting silly and being allowed to act like kids.

    Wednesday, July 8, 2009

    Pixorial Online Video Service Review

    A couple weeks ago I was offered a chance to try out a new online video service thanks again to Silicon Valley Moms blog. In the interest of full disclosure, Pixorial gave me a $50 credit so I would be able to upload content to play with, and a Pro membership (value $24.50). One of the most unique features of this new site is the ability to digitize any form of video. While so far I've only uploaded videos from my Canon digital camera and Flip, I know we've got our wedding video on cassette, and I can bet my dad's even got some old movies on reel to reel. We also have a continual problem with various tapes and DVDs that come with a couple different video cameras we own. The idea is to ensure all the movies are safe and can be seen, in the founder's words:

    "Pixorial was created to make it easy for you view, safeguard, and share your most cherished memories with the ones you love.

    The site was fairly straightforward to use. As I said I haven't sent in any video, but you can find a review of someone who has here. I chose the upload feature and have uploaded about 8 videos of various lengths. It take a while, and because of the unique digital conversion, you can only upload one at a time, but I'm hoping eventually you can do more than one. I did create a really long movie using the Flip video software and piecing together a bunch of videos, and I could not upload that, so I'll be asking them about whether it's the format or the length. They are very responsive to questions, wonderful customer service, I just haven't gotten around to asking.

    Once you have your videos in your media section, you can edit your footage. This way you can pick certain "scenes" or sections of your video. In my case I grabbed just a few seconds of some Guitar Hero playing, split up two different songs from Donovan's graduation, and grabbed about 30 seconds worth of Keegan's entire first grade concert. It's very simple editing, easy to fast forward to the parts you want - doing it directly, or using these cool (virtual of course) magnets to pull the ends of your scenes. I know they are working on an upgrade to the user interface, as right now it's a bit confusing. View to create the scenes, and Edit to produce a show from those scenes. Or go directly to the Produce tab. Here are some screen shots to illustrate, hoewver there are very easy to follow tutorials on the site itself.

    After you've created your scenes you can then Produce a Show using the scenes or adding the master, which would be the whole video. There are then options for transitions and titles. I think there could be a lot more too this, and I'm sure they are working on this aspect. On another online video service I've been able to add more color, text right on the video, fun effects (which are in process) and other features. It was quite fast, though, once I got the hang of it.

    The third step is share, which might be a DVD or a whole set of them for a volume discount. You can create covers for your DVD as well. I'll be creating one of these for my mother-in-law, since her computer is usually a little too slow for video links. Those all cost something, but you can share on facebook, email a link or embed as I've done below for free, or download a Hi Res version for $1.99. The emailed links takes you to the video, with an option to copy the link or the code for embedding. You can even create a mosaic of a picture of your choosing with thumbprints of the videos, which sounds like a fun idea.

    I also posted this on facebook, which took about 10 minutes to appear in my email and was really easy to throw right on my wall. The link worked really well.

    There is a free membership offer right now, so you can head on over to sign up. I'll report back once I've located and sent in my "analog" videos. You can even send in a memory card and they will upload all the videos on there, so I may do that as well.

    Monday, July 6, 2009

    Super Why Camp Activities

    As part of our SuperWhy event a few weeks ago we took home a package of activities, just a subset of what PBS brings to their great looking summer camps. There were a few worksheets for each day, corresponding to the superhero Super Why characters. I have to admit, the stars must be aligned, the bribes offered and the energy exhausted to get my boys to actually sit down with crayons. They love the idea of coloring and cutting and gluing, just would rather be outside playing soccer. So it took me a while to get this going, and we ended up doing the first activity in one day, the rest another (instead of one per day).
    On the first day you ask a series of questions on day 1 then again on day 5, to see what they learned. Great idea, no tricks, just imparting a love of learning with familiar stories, super powers and solvable problems. For the activities the kids transform themselves into the characters, so they get the powers and do the work. I loved the idea, kids not so thrilled.

    As you can see, here is Keegan who has transformed into Alpha Pig. Keegan was enthusiastic, bordering on whiny, wanting to do the worksheets, but they were way to easy for him. Donovan didn't want to be anyone but Super Why, so Keegan got this mask, with the payback of having to pose for a photo. I got a video of Donovan doing the activities for this day, but they were a bit easy, identifying letters and reading simple words. He also already knew the story of the three little pigs.

    My kids have lost any remnants of their feminine sides, so Wonder Red and Princess Presto were a no-go on the masks, but Donovan had fun with the work sheets. It really brought a smile to his face when he could fill in the letters and identify the right words. Notice most letters are still backwards. He's not even in kindergarten so I'm happy I don't have to correct these yet.

    Finally, the Super Why mask. Too bad mom was incompetent and unprepared when it came to actually figuring out how to get it to stay. In the second photo the mask is taped onto his nose.

    Backwards as his letters might be, Donovan is very confident when he writes. In the last activity, they finished the sentences/story lines and drew a picture of the word they chose. Drawing he struggles a bit more, but gee, if someone told me to draw a wolf I would have panicked. His only question was whether it had to look like the picture. Of course not, so I present you with stick-figure big bad wolf.

    And pink pigs, of course. Pink pigs are his favorite animal, although he's got emotional troubles with the color pink, what with bro and dad expressing their hate of that color at every opportunity. Phooey, pink is pretty.

    Thanks again PBS. I am really impressed with their shows, activities, outreach programs and desire to get parents more involved. I would much rather sit down and read of color and write with the kids. I'm not against TV and computers, but I'd rather have them do that on their own. You can find these activities here and tons of activities on this page

    Monday, June 29, 2009

    Super Why from PBS

    I got to attend another fun and enlightening event with the Silicon Valley Moms. PBS hosted a discussion about kids and learning and their Super Why program at the Stanford Park Hotel, with delicious food and wine (in fact I was inspired to make their sliders for a dinner party).

    If you want to see the thoughts on PBS, educational TV, all things PBS, check out the tweets under #pbsparents. Here's one of mine:
    Words don't have power until we read them. We can change the story by changing the words. #pbsparents from twhirl

    They talked about the development of Super Why and all the research and work that goes into each episode. It is a really cute concept, solving a problem, super heroes, fairy tales and reading. My kids used to watch it, now they'd prefer the online games. The PBS website is actually a bit nicer than others for kids, since the online games are customized for each show. The characters are Alpha Pig, Wonder Red, Princess Presto, Super Why. Even though my son is obsessed with stuffed piggies and pig books, his favorite is Super Why/Whyatt.

    What they really wanted to know was how to get parents more involved, how much information they want. Personally I rarely watch TV with the kids, although they don't watch much anymore, it's been replace by the Wii and computer time. Every bit of research shows that reading, and talking to your kids, and reading to your kids, is absolutely critical in doing well in school, in life, to put it in a very simplistic way. I do love how PBS and Super Why focuses on that. My son who's been reading for a while is clearly to old, although he'll watch if it's on. But my 5YO, who is learning to read, very excited when he learns new words, gets completely engaged and likes the web games as well.

    A huge shout-out to PBS for giving us wonderful programs for us as children as well as our children. They spoke about a Super WHY reading camps outreach program, which looks wonderful. They also gave us activities to take home, as well as a backpack, book which we read tonight (Jack and the Beanstalk), the Three Little Pigs DVD and one other musical DVD. I've started the activities with Donovan so will be blogging all about that at the end of the week.

    Saturday, June 6, 2009

    Thanks Acitveion and Tech Museum

    Silicon Valley Moms blog came though again last week, arranging a fun day for me and the kids. Last week Donovan and I got to attend a very cool and science-filled event at one of our favorite places, the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose. Bill Nye, the science guy, gave us some great experiment ideas and we are now big fans, we just need to snag some of his videos. It was all sponsored by Activeion, which I admit I kept reading as 'activevision" and imagined some futuristic screen.

    When I found out it was Activeion, a non-toxic cleaning technology, my enthusiasm waned just a smidgen. I confess, I don't clean all that much, and usually stick to water and elbow grease for the occasional burst of cleaning, resorting to bleach if the sink is really yucky, along with my Roomba for the dog hair. I find myself a bit lost in the cleaning section of the store, so have purchased a variety of various cleaners and have only recently given thought to the chemicals and environment.

    When we saw the thing in action, though, my kids and I were sold. It looks like a gun, to begin with, glows green, and you can spray it right in your mouth, does it get any cooler? Those of us with little boys figured we'd need three, and wondered if this would turn our kids into mad little cleaners. The real test, though, was would it work? The idea is it ionizes regular tap water, does something with the bubbles so it changes the way the water affects the dirt, similar to how soap attaches to dirt. Okay, I had to step out for that part of the talk, and unfortunately my more scientifically oriented son was at a soccer game during the demonstration.

    I wasn't sure how I could test it. I don't clean much, and like I said I usually use water, anyway. I tried it on windows, not bad, but not streak free. Just the fact that it got me to clean a few windows is a feat in itself, I must admit. I then sprayed the thing all over a grease spattered sink, courtesy of a lamb curry dinner. Wow, have you ever tried to clean grease with plain cold water? It doesn't work. A few squirts of this stuff and the grease was easily wiped away. I love the fact that my kids can play around with it and not risk ingesting anything icky or leaving residue around. And I can madly clean the kitchen without worrying about getting chemicals on food or dishes, meaning I might have a clean kitchen more than once a week. I's not only harmless to the environment, but after the initial cost (which is quite steep, and for full disclosure we got them free) you just use regular tap water.

    Don't just take my word for more next week at Silicon Valley Moms blog and check out Bill Nye on the Active Ion website. Thanks again to the Tech Museum and Active Ion for a great day, including an awesome IMAX show about space. Stay tuned for a possible giveaway of one of these babies.
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    Wednesday, January 7, 2009

    Cool Frame and Phone from T-Mobile

    So several weeks, okay maybe more, ago, I got an offer to review a couple techie gadgets. Seems T-Mobile took a survey at Blogher about kids and cell phones, and were asking some moms to review them. I at first was not interested in the cell phone, since it was T-Mobile and I'm pretty set with AT&T, what with the contract and my company paying and all, but the 2nd thing, that sounded really, really awesome. Essentially you can send pictures to a digital frame, from a cell phone, any cell phone. So let me get into a few more details.

    First, the phone, camera phone call the MOTOZINE (Motorola ZINE) which has a 5 megapixel camera. I have to admit, the camera took better pictures than my own digital camera, not that that's (my cheap one) anything to write home about. So I have to say, I did love the phone, particularly the camera part. I am not one to read directions (I know I'm not alone here) so it took a few days for me to figure some of it out, and I did have to crack open the manual on more than one occasion, but it wasn't so bad, and my 6YO son even managed to add grandpa to my faves list with no help at all.

    I'm going to focus (ha, get it?) on the camera part, just for the record. The first photo of my lovely Christmas tree is from my camera, and the two below are from the MOTOZINE. Yes, we went for the pipe-cleaner candy-cane/painted porcelain pig tree this year, it's all the rage, don't ya know? And I couldn't resist throwing in a family photo, taken in the practically pitch dark, btw.

    Another great feature was the photo upload ability. I loved my first camera phone, but went the phone broke (okay, I dropped it for the umpteenth time) my pictures were pretty much stuck, since I had no desire to put the time and money in getting software and hardware to get the photos from the camera to the computer. Sure, it's easier with the iPhone, but you can actually upload all your photos to a kodakgallery album with just a few easy steps. You can still email as well, but not very many at a time, and I didn't try the connection to the computer as the upload was so cool. The phone also takes some pretty good video, and I have to say if I had this phone I would not bother with a digital camera unless I could afford an SLR one.

    Next up is the Cameo, which definitely lived up to its description. That link takes you to a brief review, by the way. It looks like a regular digital frame with one really cool feature. Imagine giving perhaps technically challenged grandma a digital frame for Christmas loaded (on a flash memory card) with some adorable photos of her grandsons building a snowman and her great-granddaughter on her first snowboard run. Then the holiday vacation ends, and suddenly pictures of post-Christmas unpacking arrives on said frame from the distant relatives, along with camping photos and a birthday party. For a mere $100 and $10 a month, the whole family can send grandma photos. The frame has it's own phone number, and you can send photos with messages right to the frame, from any cell phone, not just T-mobile (even the iPhone using this little trick). Once you give the frame permission, which just happens the first time, the photos are automatically uploaded.

    I didn't get to keep these, just for the record, whatever record that is.