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Saturday
Jul262014

Levana Video Monitors Rule

There is a loooooooong list of things that people tell you that you need for a baby, but it's pretty much a lie. Fortunately, a wise person told me that before Alexis was born, so we never spent money on things like a wipes warmer, a "legit" changing table (a dresser with a pad on top works fine), a bottle sterilizer, and various other little things. Sure, some of them might come in handy once or twice, but they aren't a true need.

One thing I was wrong about needing with Alexis was a baby monitor. I was absolutely certain that was a "need" item, but our townhouse was a whopping 1200 square feet. If Tiny Alexis wanted someone's attention, she could get it by breathing loudly because we could hear everything no matter what part of the house we were in.

With Mila, I figured things would be different. Our current house is a lot bigger, so an inexpensive audio monitor went on the registry. I didn't think we would need anything fancier than that.

But.

But then we received a Levana Keera video monitor for review. I'll admit, I was planning to write a review basically saying video monitors are pointless and audio is enough. Don't spend your money! Blah, blah, blah!

I was wrong. I super duper love having a video monitor.

The reason is simple -- with a video monitor, I can find out when Mila is awake, but hasn't remembered that she is starving yet. That means I can get to her before she screams that it's been too long since she last ate. Preventing meltdowns is always a good thing.

Before I admit the other reason I love the video monitor, here are the pros and cons of the Levana Keera:

Pros:

  • It works in the dark.

  • I can pan/tilt the camera in case Mila moves.
  • The receiver works from a really good distance - I have tried it as far away as our neighbor's house and still had reception.
  • It works via a hidden wifi network, so it can't be detected by creepers and hacked.
  • It has a battery save mode that lets it last a long time. Basically, you have your choice -- you can have the video on all of the time (the battery lasted 5 hours that way) or you can have the video turn on only when the Keera detects noise. It's pretty sensitive, so I've found that if Mila starts kicking/shuffling around, that's enough to get the video to turn on. Thus, I see that she's starting to wake up before she figures out why.
  • It came with two cameras, so I don't have to move it around all of the time. It can be expanded to four cameras.
  • The little blue light in the photo above? That changes color based on how much noise the camera detects. If it's blue, all is quiet on the home front. If it's yellow, things are getting a little louder. Red means ZOMG THAT CHILD IS MAD. That means I can have the sound muted and still know how serious things are on the other end.
  • It came with rechargable batteries. Just plug it in from time-to-time, and you're good to go. There's also an alarm that lets you know the battery is low so it doesn't die without you knowing it.
  • It can record video and images. I haven't gone that far yet, but I'm looking forward to doing it.
  • I can talk through the monitor. It's not just that I can hear Mila, she can hear me as well, if I want her to.
  • It can play music.

The cons:

  • Sure, it can play music which is SUPER handy (way better than a wind up mobile that stops at the worst possible time), but it plays it in 15 second loops. It's maddening listening to the same 15 seconds of a lullaby over and over and over. I do it anyway because Mila genuinely seems to be soothed by it, though.
  • It didn't come with an instruction manual in the box. Rather, I had to go online to read it. I like the eco-friendliness of that, but it took me two weeks to actually go find it. In the interim, I mostly figured the monitor out, but there were definitely features I missed.

That's it. Those are the only things I don't like.

Now, for a confession.

My absolutely favorite thing about the monitor? I CAN USE IT TO HARASS THE CATS AND DOGS!

It's an ongoing hobby of mine, but I have already used the monitor to give Kiara a complex about getting up on the kitchen counters. I set up one of the cameras in the kitchen. I occasionally flip to that camera at night. If Kiara is on the counter, I yell at her through the monitor.

She can't figure out what's happening.

The Cat Who Thinks She Owns This House looks around wildly trying to figure out where I am, but only after she has jumped to the floor and scrambled for dear life.

It's so fun. For me.

Next I'm going to give the dogs a complex about getting into the trash cans. Weeeeee!

Thanks to Levana for sending the monitor for us to review. While the monitor was provided at no cost, the opinions expressed here are my own.

Thursday
Mar132014

Once is Not Enough

Sponsored by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Opinions are my own.

I’ve never seen anything quite like Once.

No orchestra. No elaborate sets. Want to jump on stage, visit the pub where the musical is set, buy a drink, and mingle with the cast? Go ahead, just make sure you do it before the show starts or during intermission.

The show weaves the tale of Guy and Girl (we never learn their real names) as they crash into each others lives and change them forever. Guy is a Hoover fixer and musician who begins the show heartbroken and in pieces as his girlfriend has moved to far away from his home and the setting of the show, Dublin. Girl is a Czech who has immigrated to Dublin and is instantly drawn to Guy’s haunting last song. She insists that it not be his last song.

She gets her way.

The Celtic folk rock music is a highlight of the entire show. While there is no orchestra, there are musicians on stage, integrated into the show itself. They play instruments like the banjo, guitar, violin, and other less traditional instruments in a way that breathes life into the background of the show. But then that background becomes the foreground as those same musicians are the supporting cast. The choreography that drives the transitions from background to foreground is masterful.

The chemistry between Guy and Girl is something even better. Guy is often awkward while Girl is often overly straightforward. It’s a combination that leaves the audience in stitches. The hilarity that is woven through the entire show is a perfect complement to the complexity that is Guy and Girl’s story. They could end up living a perfect romantic dream, but things aren’t quite that simple.

Will they live happily ever after? Maybe, but not in a way that you would imagine as you sit engrossed in the show.

Once is the rare musical that I could watch again and again and again. And again. Everything about it was unexpected yet fantastic. The music has already made its way onto my play list, the characters seem like friends who I’ve known for years, and the entire show has catapulted to the top of my list of favorite Broadway shows.

Once is in Pittsburgh through March 16th. Tickets are $29-$80 and available here.

GO.

While you’re there, say hi to Guy and Girl for me.