Tuesday, April 22, 2014

INTERVIEW: Kara Vallow of COSMOS!

Just in case you can't love science and the incredible astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson any more, he joins up with the incredible minds behind shows like Family Guy and American Dad and brings science into the homes of millions with COSMOS: A Spacetime Odyssey. The 13 episode series is running right now on Fox networks, and I was given the opportunity to chat with the Animation Developer and Producer Kara Vallow!



Check out my interview over at the About.com Kids' Cartoons page. Because, yes! Cosmos is for kids! It's for adults! It's for everyone! It makes science so accessible and really brings to light the fascination with the world that children already have. If you're not watching it, you should be! You won't be disappointed!

Friday, April 18, 2014

APP REVIEW: StoriesAlive

If your child is anything like TV Boy, they aren't yet too keen on just sitting down with a book and flipping through. No, it has to be something with technology! It has to be animated, moving, musical, etc. It has to be entertaining. A book made of paper cannot be that... not just yet.



Enter the StoriesAlive App, available for iOS and Android platforms. You can have it on your phone, your iPad, your Galaxy, or whatever you prefer to hand your children for digital entertainment time... even Nabi systems! The app features bestselling storybooks by popular authors with more arriving all the time.



My friends at StoriesAlive shared a demo of the popular New York Times Bestseller "On The Night You Were Born" by Nancy Tillman in my demonstration, so that's what I wanted to feature here.


You can customize the story with your child's name, which you can also record so that various characters in the story can actually say it aloud, as well as your child's picture so their face can appear in the stars! The story is read aloud to the child and the pages have interactive characters on them that the child can make dance, sing, and fly.


It also features soothing music behind the story, so that your child can easily be read this story with you at bedtime. It also showcases the beautiful artwork from the actual story book.


There are several other fill-in-the-blank digital scrapbooks that your child can fill out about themselves, their family, their home, their pets and more!



StoriesAlive has also already won numerous awards!



I wasn't sure that TV Boy was going to like it when I first heard about it. He really doesn't gravitate towards the educational apps he has and while he does like having stories read to him, he doesn't tend to sit still for something that isn't Minecraft related. However, StoriesAlive held his attention enough that he read three stories all the way through the first time he sat down with it. The navigation is also easy enough that he had no problem figuring out how to choose a book, and choose whether it was read to him by a narrator or set so that he can touch the words and have them said as he did so. Plus, we don't need to be on wifi once the books were downloaded, so it makes it easily portable to places that don't offer wifi like doctors offices and in the car.



The app download itself is FREE and comes with six free trial titles. However, for a subscription price of $7.99 a month (or there is a $29.99 for six months option that lowers the price to $4.99 per month), families get unlimited access to the ever growing library of titles. See the FAQ page for more information. It is available for tablets with a screen size of 7" or larger that support iOS6 or above and Android platforms, including the Nabi.

All in all, I'm impressed with it. It gets TV Boy interested in reading as well as learning to read, and those are wins in my book! (And it's not Minecraft! Woohoo!) Thanks to all my friends at StoriesAlive for sharing this with our family!

Disclosure: A free trial of the app was provided for review purposes. Please see my Disclosures tab for more information.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

10 Cartoons Parents Love to Hate

If you're a friend of mine, perhaps I've asked you a question about children's television lately: what is your most despised kids' cartoon? I piled over the responses--and I had tons thanks to my DAM Blogger friends--and compiled a list of the top ten most mentioned cartoons that parents hate.


Just a sampling of the list competitors!

Check out the list over at the About.com page! Did your child's favorite (or your least favorite) make my list? Did I miss something? Sound off on The TV Mom Facebook page!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Geek, Thy Name is TV Mom

Some of you who are frequent readers of the blog here at TheTVMom.com might have noticed a slight change recently... look around, I'll wait....

Did you find it?

The banner.

There ya go.

That's right, I'm adding in a component of my everyday life to the blog: Geek Culture. And as part of that, I'm going to let you in on a little bit about who The TV Mom is on a day to day basis.

First of all, here's a more recent picture of me, surrounded by a friend's massive video game collection:


Geektastic!

Here are just a few things you might want to notice about that picture. First of all, I'm wearing a shirt that is a Doctor Who/Donkey Kong crossover (found at BlueBoxTees.com, by the way). I'm also sporting a lovely pair of NES controller earrings that were a birthday gift from TV Dad to me for my thirtieth (he got them from Etsy... seller unknown, he won't tell me!). Third, you can see most of my tattoo in this shot... an 8-bit heart with TV Boy's first initial in Binary written on the banner. And of course, my geek glasses.

Then, there's pinball.


Pinburgh 2014 - Image credit: S. Vieth.

There's TV Dad and myself at what is essentially heaven/Mecca for pinball enthusiasts: PAPA... the Professional and Amatuer Pinball Association. It's a huge warehouse just outside of Pittsburgh, PA that houses pretty much every pinball table ever created. They host tournaments every year (no, I'm not *that* good, I'm only ranked 9706th... but I'm friends with the #10 ranked guy!) and events like Pinburgh, when you can show up, get a cup full of tokens, and play until you can't feel your fingers anymore. Here's a shot of me putting the boys to shame on a Black Rose table:


Image credit: S. Vieth.

Those are just a few of the ultra-nerdy things I fill my days with. There are more R2D2's around my house than most normal people have, and I may or may not have gotten to talk to Star Wars actors Jeremy Bulloch and Peter Mayhew a couple of years ago at Comic Con in Chicago...


Boba Freakin' Fett people!

Yeah, this totally happened!

Essentially, I'm a huge nerd, and I love it. Why am I telling you all of this? Because I want you to not only know that I have serious geek-cred, but that I am now an official supporter of the #IWantMyNerdHQ campaign! You may or may not have heard about the Nerd HQ event that is put on concurrently with THE huge Comic Con on the west coast. The event is hosted by The Nerd Machine and features guest speakers from across the realm of all things nerdy including a special panel called Conversations for a Cause, which helps raise funds for charity Operation Smile that provides free surgeries to children with cleft lip and palate across the globe.

The Nerd HQ 2014 event is scheduled to run July 24th-27th at Petco Park in San Diego, CA.

Here's why this is important. This year, Nerd Machine is crowdfunding the event to cover ever-increasing costs for hosting. Here's spokesman Zac Levi to tell you a little more about Nerd HQ and how YOU can help!



Here's what you can do to help. First of all, visit IWantMyNerdHQ.com or use the widget on the right to donate to the NerdHQ fund. Even small donations of only $5 can help! Then, you can share or tweet this campaign using the hashtag #IWantMyNerdHQ across all social media platforms, even if you can't give financially. This helps get the word out to all nerds across the world who might want to help and participate! And, just announced: "If we reach our goal by 250K goal by 11:59pm PDT this Friday, April 11th , Five (5) contributors will win a Skype call with Zachary Levi. Anyone who has contributed at least $5 since the beginning of the campaign will be eligible to win." How cool is that?

So please, give if you can, and share, share, share! Nerd it forward! Click the image below for more!



Tuesday, April 8, 2014

TRAILER: Disney Planes: Fire and Rescue!

Check out the new trailer for the upcoming Disney flick, Planes: Fire and Rescue, coming to theatres this summer!