The Itzbeen is a baby care timer. It’s a small device that keeps track of how long it’s been since your baby was changed, ate, and woke up or went to sleep – all with the push of a button.
I ordered my Itzbeen the day after the giveaway ended and waited anxiously for it to come. (Thanks, UPS, for randomly rescheduling my delivery by a few days.) When it did, I was somewhat disappointed though not really surprised that the Itzbeen requires 3 AAA batteries, which I had to round up from various other electronic gadgets in our house. The back of the Itzbeen has a clip for attaching to a belt, and it was kind of in the way of the battery case. However, it was a minor inconvenience.
Once the batteries were in the display automatically set all timers to 0:00 and the clock to 12:00 AM. The directions made it very easy to set the clock to the correct time. I love that the time is displayed – since I typically have my Itzbeen more accessible than any clocks in our house, I don’t have to guess what time it is.
The Bwun was asleep when the Itzbeen arrived, but once he woke up, he was ready for a diaper change and a feeding. Perfect! I unlocked the Itzbeen by sliding a switch on the left-hand side (it’s there to prevent you from accidentally resetting the timers), and pressed the buttons I needed. Each button lit up red when I pushed it and stayed lit for about 2 seconds so I could clearly see which button I had pressed. And the timers started rolling. The display shows how many hours and minutes it’s been, but also counts seconds by blinking the colon between the numbers so I knew the timers had been activated.
The buttons do make a beep when pushed, and this startled the Bwun a little. I was concerned that if I pressed a button when he fell asleep it might wake him up. Luckily there is a switch on the right-hand side that you can use to turn off the sound.
There is a fourth button on the Itzbeen that I understand works as an alarm, which can be used as a reminder for taking medicine every x hours or the like. I haven’t actually found a use for it yet. Below the fourth button is a small round button that turns on a blue backlight for the display and red lights for each of the timer buttons – very handy for at night. At the top of the Itzbeen is a small nightlight that turns on and off with a small button. If left on, it automatically turns off after 7 minutes.
By far my favorite feature (aside from the timers) is a switch below the clock display that indicates whether the baby was last fed from the left or right side. Despite being advised to feed from both sides whenever I nursed the Bwun, I’ve consistently found it easier to use one at a time. When the Bwun was little, it was easy to remember which side I used last. Now, he eats so frequently that it’s nearly impossible to tell (or remember). I love the convenient switch to help me out.
The only downside I can find – and this may be something that can’t be fixed, only compensated for – is that there’s no undo feature. Some days the Bwun falls asleep for approximately 3.75 minutes and then decides he’s had enough of a nap. I don’t really think that counts as sleeping…and I wish I could make the timer go back to where it was before and keep counting. Since this is a rare circumstance, though, I understand why the Itzbeen is a forward-only device.
The Itzbeen costs $24.95 and is available through the official website, Amazon.com, and Babies R Us. It comes in pink, blue, and green, as well as in a twin pack. I strongly recommend this for new moms (or even moms who have several children already) – I think quite a few people will be receiving this from me at baby showers in the coming year!
The Underneath is a Newbery Honor book, which is impressive as it is Appelt’s first novel. It’s about animals, the deep South (think bayous and alligators), shape shifters, and revenge. While I wouldn’t necessarily call it a children’s book – it’s an ALA Notable Book for middle readers, and is definitely too mature for young readers – Appelt has produced a fascinating piece of literature.
To begin with, there’s a calico cat who has two kittens (Puck and Sabine). There’s the hound, Ranger, who befriends them. There’s Ranger’s owner, the bitter, hardened, excruciatingly mean and tortuous Gar Face. Woven into their story is the tale of Grandmother Moccasin, an ancient snake who can take human form once in her life (a distant relative of mermaids and selkies), and the loneliness that drives her to exact revenge on those whom she believes have betrayed her.
The writing is, for the most part, exquisite. Appelt’s sentence structure and narration style is very unique, and I loved the elements of repetition that made the story feel like it was really being told – not just communicated. That being said, I cannot express how much I hated the excessive use of exclamation points. Additionally, whenever Appelt was presenting Grandmother Moccasin’s thoughts, the snake-speak hissing was over-the-top. For example:
Grandmother hissed. Sssssttttt!!!
The prrriiiicccccce! she whispered. There’s a prrriiiccce.
Seriously, I can’t stand it. I know it’s just a pet peeve of mine, and honestly, the book is in all other respects superb. But I had a really hard time getting past the exclamation points and hissing.
If you don’t mind it like I did – and probably even if you do – it’s worth reading. As I said, Appelt is a masterful storyteller and the two plots are intricately woven together. It was so enjoyable to watch them develop alonside each other and then begin to combine.
Tweet: In the mood for some timeless bayou storytelling? Pick up The Underneath by Kathi Appelt. Her characters are unbelievably believable.