Giveaway and Review: Alcatel One Touch Idol S2 Smartphone and Tablet

Until a few short months ago, I still used a phone that looked pretty much like this. Well, not exactly like that, because it was portable.  But it did have a screen that was about 1.5 inches square, with no data capability, and you had to press a key three times to get the right letter of the alphabet when texting. Which meant that it was never used for texting. It was basically like an emergency phone line. Or a walkie-talkie. Or maybe a bottle containing a SOS note.

For a long time, this didn’t bother me.  Who wants to be available 24/7?  I’ve given up instantaneous everything almost, even the Ramen noodles which I love. Convenience isn’t everything; slow and plodding could be a decent personal motto.

But then things started happening. My husband was gifted two iPads from work, and I got the little one. And you know, after I got used to it, the thing was actually pretty handy. It was nice not to have to rely on the big now-clunky desktop all the time.  And those smartphones… people did look kind of smart using them.  I started to notice how agile Beth-Anne and Nathalie were with their phones and, well, as someone on social media, I finally began wondering whether I ought to join the game. Sure it looked efficient and all that, but it also looked kind of fun.

And then, as I contemplated relaxing my grip on the Ghost of Telephones Past, I got the most perfect gift over the holidays and in time for 2015: my very first smartphone. The crew at Alcatel One Touch generously gave an Idol 2S as well as a Pop 8 tablet and just like that, they swept me into the new millenium.



Like a proper nerd, I read the manual (a couple of times). The truth is I had never used a smartphone before and had no earthly idea how they worked. I was nervous, but didn’t need to be – the phone is easy peasy to use, and it was a cinch to start figuring out what all the fuss is about. Turns out these gadgets are really useful!

Texting, unsurprisingly, is a revelation.  Tapping a big key just once is a lot faster than punching a little one three times. But not just that – the Idol S2‘s predictive keyboard is fast and accurate. In the spirit of research, I borrowed my sister’s smartphone to compare, and was that new phone’s texting capabilities ever clunky (how does she manage with something so slow)!  I double-checked my impression with my 14 year old nephew, who categorically strikes me as the best possible judge of my phone. He played around with it for a few minutes and handed it back: It’s a good phone. It’s fast.” Gold seal of approval, people.

There’s a lot of other things to like about the phone.  It’s very slim and good-looking, for starters. It’s gentle on the eyes, with its clear wide screen (5″ HD 720 display), which is lovely when using the 8 megapixel camera.  As a blogger and a mom, this is a boon.  I also like that the battery lasts a good while.  I’m not glued to my phone, but heavier users will be glad to know that charging the Idol S2 is fast.  I love the camcorder, and that the phone can turn into a little flashlight.  It’s a marvel!

The Pop 8 tablet is a great little toy too.  Like the Idol S2. the Pop 8 is slim and sleek, and handles easily.  I was a bit less of an inexperienced user when it came to tablets, and the Pop 8 is intuitive and simple to use. It’s perfect for check-ins with the online world and handing to the kids for an educational app or 5.  Both the phone and the tablet clock in as fast, effective devices at affordable price points.

I can say without hesitation that my presents from Alcatel One Touch are among the most impactful items to enter my realm.  And as a former Techno-Resister, you’ll know I speaketh the truth when I say I really love my phone!!

The amazing thing is that you can enjoy similar presents too:  Alcatel One Touch is generously offering both the Idol S2 smartphone and a Pop 7 tablet to one lucky reader!  The contest will stay open until Sunday at midnight EST, and is open to Canadian readers (except Quebec).  Enter to win by liking our Facebook page, following us on Twitter or Instagram or simply leave a comment. It’s a great giveaway – best of luck to you!


Halloween Reads Giveaway

For the past few years, we have done a modified version of an advent calendar for Halloween.  (Read more about it here.)  In the two weeks leading up to the big day, we read one spooky tale a night from our box of Halloween books.  This year, we are happy to offer your littlest readers a trio of Halloween picture books.  Please leave us a comment, and we will draw for a winner on Friday, October 17th.  Canadian and American readers only, please.  Thanks to Sourcebooks for the bookish goodness!

It’s Halloween night, and Count von Count is dozing off in front of his fireplace. Suddenly, he hears someone knocking at his castle door, but when he opens the door, nobody’s there! Could it be a spooky Halloween spirit playing a trick on him, or is it something less sinister? Join Count, Elmo, and all of the Sesame friends as they celebrate Halloween!


A Halloween Scare by Eric James

It’s Halloween night, and creatures and critters from near and far are starting to gather outside the front door. And now here comes a whole army of monsters, on broomsticks, buses, and bikes, all clamoring in the darkness. What is it they want? Are they coming for you?

This humorous, creative story is the perfect Halloween adventure for children and parents to share.



Pumpkin Time by Erzsi Deak

The day the cows strolled down Main Street in fancy hats…Evy didn’t notice.

What was Evy doing?

Evy is so focused on watching her garden grow that she misses all the silliness going on around her—pigs DANCING, donkeys FLYING, and sheep HAVING A PICNIC.

But after Evy’s spent all year taking care of her garden, everyone’s invited to pumpkin time!

My Pretty Playhouse Giveaway!


Recently 4Mothers was sent a cardboard playhouse called My Pretty Playhouse, by Cascades, and I was the lucky one who got to try it out at my house.

Part of Cascade’s ecological boutique, the playhouse is made from 100% recycled paper, and was quite easy to set up.  It’s also quite sturdy, and didn’t get knocked over easily.  It also presents various play possibilities besides using it as a house:  as soon as my boys saw it, they grabbed their paints and for two days, we painted away, making the house our own.


My boys found new ways to play with it when friends came over, and actually used it as a house.  The house is recommended for 3 years and up, but our 15 month old baby toodled in there and explored on his own terms quite comfortably.

It’s possible, of course, to create your own cardboard playhouse out of a big box, and we did do that a year or two ago.  But we rarely buy a new refrigerator or furnace, so My Pretty Playhouse is a delightful shortcut to some good old-fashioned fun with paper.  Plus, who would make sweet attic windows from a refrigerator box?

Also, sturdy as it is, being made of recycled paper also means the playhouse won’t last forever – ours didn’t survive a particularly rambunctious playdate – but for us, this is part of the charm of the cardboard playhouse.  Cascades’ lovely playhouse is big, and our house is small, so the fact that it wasn’t a permanent fixture worked well for us.

The bottom line?  The playhouse is a lot of fun, easy to put up, and comes down in its own time for the recycling bin:  a great toy.  And for every playhouse sold, Cascades donates $2 to Habitat for Humanity, thus helping to make real houses where they are needed too.  Other fun items, like cardboard Christmas trees and furniture, can be found in their ecological boutique.

It’s my pleasure to announce that Cascades is generously offering one My Pretty Playhouse to a 4Mothers reader!  Simply leave us a comment, and you will automatically be part of the pool from which we’ll randomly pick a winner and announce on Monday morning.  Cascades says that they can ship within 5 days, so with any luck, you could have this sweet toy over the holidays.  Please note this giveaway is available to readers in Canada.

Dear Readers, there are no strings to this giveaway.  There is no skill-testing question, you will not be charged for shipping, you will not be peppered with spam, you don’t have to sign up for anything, it is not a hoax.  You don’t have to do anything except leave your name and sit patiently while a playhouse makes its way to your door.  This is a gift from Cascades and a thank you from 4Mothers to you, because we love our readers.  Please enter!

ps.  We’ll keep the giveaway open until Sunday, December 16 at 10 pm EST.  Good luck!


Congratulations to Anna, our giveaway winner, who wrote:

Sounds wonderful! Crossing our fingers up here in Thunder Bay!!

And thank you to everyone who played along with us!