Wait, poke a what?

August 30, 2008

Somehow, my daughter got exposed to Pokemon a few months back. I suspect school.

All our play centers around Pokemon. “You gotta be the bad guy, daddy, and I’m Pikachu!” Okay. Then she lays there and expects me to know what to do. Any play involving Disney movies I can do. I’ve seen them, I know what happens. I can even do a lot of the voices. Pokemon? Not so much.

I try several plot lines and my daughter, Pikachu, just lays there. “You gotta help me out here, sweetie, daddy doesn’t know what to do.”

I’d decide a different tactic to buy time… Read the rest of this entry »


Via goes on the wall!

January 21, 2008

via_wall_mount

We love our daughter’s toy boxes from Via. And after building and installing (by which I mean standing it upright) it in my daughter’s room, my first thought was, “Are all the cool kids gonna copy me?” And, of course, they did.

My second thought was, “Where the heck are we gonna put this thing once we need to upgrade her to a full-sized bed?!?”

Well, thank goodness Via has solved my problem with their new wall mount system.

I’ve always thought a storage system similar to the Via Toy Boxes (something from IKEA) mounted to the wall would rock in the Play Room / Office, mounted over the computer. Yeah, space is at a premium in our house, so the only way to go, in some cases, is up.

For some reason, I never thought of this kind of solution for the Via boxes, but reconfiguring my setup (easy to do with Via) and sticking ’em on the wall over the bed would be a great solution.

Oh, it seems they also have some new colors.

Check ’em out.

I guess all we gotta do now is get our daughter a Snow White another generic, not at all associated with Disney princess dress.


Green to Grow Bottles

November 28, 2007

Oh, hey, did I mention we got our http://www.greentogrow.com/ a couple weeks ago? I mentioned them originally here. You know, the Bisphenol-A and Phthalate free ones?

Well, we used them fairly extensively for the first time on our trip back home for Thanksgiving. I like ’em. There are, like with everything, good and bad point about them, which I will attempt to outline here:

Good:

  • Plastic. And not the bad plastic. We like glass, but to put the glass in a diaper bag is not something we like to do.
  • 5 ounce size. The glass we have are 4 oz. Believe me, the extra ounce comes in handy. Especially when travelling. We also have some Born Free Bottles, but they only come in sizes which are way too big right now.
  • They are kind of cool looking. Yeah, I know – silly, but a plus, none the less.

Not-so-Good:

  • As I mentioned before, they are a bit pricier than glass. Maybe that will change if more people buy them.
  • The stuff printed on the bottle scratches easily. We didn’t have this problem with the Avent plastic bottles we used with my daughter. And we used those for years. It isn’t really that big a deal if the cute cartoon fruit guy on the front gets scratched. But, if we lose the measurement stuff on the back… that won’t be quite so okay.

Overall, we’re happy with them. Will we buy more? Probably not. We use glass in the house, and three is sufficient for most travelling. Maybe when we move up to a bigger size for him, but then again, we already have the Born Free in the bigger size…


Giving Thanks

November 26, 2007

Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. Sorry for the late wishes. Especially sorry to our Canadian readers, to whom this greeting is especially late.

Our Thanksgiving was, well… a lot of driving. And the first time with two kids instead of one.

We weren’t sure how it was going to go. In the past, one of us sat in the back seat next to my daughter. This allowed us to interact with her – playing, reading, singing. This time, with both kids in the back seat and both of us up front, we weren’t sure how either kid would react and how we would deal with it if they needed attention. I set up the third row seat, just in case. It was piled up with stuff, but it could be moved.

Oh yeah, the stuff – two kids requires more stuff. And a baby requires more stuff than a 3-year-old. Fortunately, we had the car-top carrier from my last car in the garage.

We wound up not needing the third row. This time. Both kids did great. This time. The baby slept just about all of the trip. This time.

Ms. Kaz is still worried. That’s why I am researching Toyota Highlander Hybirds and Toyota Siennas (Ms. Kaz’s suggestion).

Yeah, I’ve got a Highlander Hybrid now, but the 2008 has a 2nd row center console which can be removed, creating a bit of a pass-through… sort of like a minivan. The third row seating is a little more spacious, as well. And the Sienna? Well, it is a mini-van, and offers all a mini-van has to offer to a family of four.

The thought is — and if anyone has any knowledge or advice on carseats in third row seating, it is greatly appreciated — we could put one carseat in the second row, and on in the third, and we could move about, as needed, to offer attention.

I think Thanksgiving travel went well enough that we are going to see how Christmas goes with the car we have.

Oh, and I asked my daughter, at the dinner table, what she was thankful for. I had high hopes – a week or so before, we had been watching the Little Match Girl, and she was telling me things like, “We’re lucky to have a home,” and, “We’re luck to have a family.” I was hoping everyone could hear some of these gems.

Her response? “I’m thankful for my toys”.

Oh, well. Maybe next year. Now, she and I have to go back to browsing through toy catalogs.


Big Girl Room: Part IV – Via Toy Box

September 26, 2007

Via Toy BoxI loved these when I first saw them… uhm… on some blog somewhere. Probably on Daddytypes. I knew I had to find an excuse a justifiable reason to have these in our home.

I mentioned them very briefly before, but Via Toy Boxes are very nice quality, configurable storage options for, well, I guess not just for kids necessarily, but they definitely seem targeted to kids.

Basically, you are purchasing each individual box. You get your choice of shape (or door) and color for the front. The rest of the box can we either natural or white. Each side and top and bottom of the box has 4 holes in it for attaching boxes together (with supplied hardware).

This allows you to configure them any way you want. With the space we had, we went 2 wide by 3 tall (click photo for larger version). But, you can do whatever you like (although bases and tops are only available for certain widths).

To help you, Via will send you a kit with cutouts for the boxes, shapes and colors. You can cut these out and plan your configuration. There are also ideas and pre-configured (but not pre-assembled) options on the website.

Now.. how easy are they to put together?

Read the rest of this entry »


Big Girl Room: Part III – More Blik

September 23, 2007

Taking my expertise garnered from my previous Blik wall decal installation, I decided I was ready to tackle the alphabet…

blik1

Of course, that meant 26 of these things to put on. And, with an alphabet, it isn’t like you can just leave the decal off if you screw it up. Not that my daughter would know for a white yet.

I decided to go window-to-window, going over the bed and the toy box. There was a little more wall than I wanted to use, so there were some gaps between letters that were bigger than I wanted. But I also wanted to overlap some letters.

The experience with the flowers helped, although I still had the occasional difficulty with getting them to stick to the proper sheet. The advantage of these were that they were smaller than the large flowers.

There were many new difficulties I face with the letters, however… (more after the jump) Read the rest of this entry »


Big Girl Room: Part II – The Flensted Mobile

September 19, 2007

butterfly1My daughter wanted a butterfly mobile. I didn’t want a cheesy mobile. Luckily, there was Flensted.

The mobile is actually a kit. The wiring is all done for you, but the butterflies you assemble yourself. There are 4 pieces to each each butterfly.

The body is made of a spongy kind of material, much like what those little put-it-together-yourself little toy gliders are now made out of.

You poke a hole all the way through where the antenna goes, and push the antenna through, centering it. The antenna is made of plastic, halfway between the width of fishing line and the line for a weed whacker.

Next, you pick two pieces for the wings. This is made of more durable, yet flexible plastic. The nice thing is that you pick your color combinations yourself. They give you more wings than you need for the mobile, so you can make many combinations. My daughter had fun helping me pick out the combinations.

The string for hanging it is way longer than you could possibly need, which is nice. I actually trimmed mine very short to discourage my daughter from standing on her bed and attempting to reach the mobile.

butterfly detailWe placed it over her bed, where the dragon was in her old room, near her feet. I actually used it the first night, telling my daughter, “if you have trouble sleeping, just watch the butterflies, and they will help you fall asleep.”

On the second morning, she told me, “I watched the butterflies last night!”

And they look great in the new room (click on pics for larger versions).

Previously: Hanging around with Flensted.
Also: Big Girl Room: Part I – Blik, etc
Coming Soon: More Big Girl Room Updates, including more Blik and Via Toy Boxes.


Big Girl Room: Part I – Blik, etc.

September 14, 2007

We’re finally nearing completion of my daughter’s new Big Girl Room.

blik1a Today, I’d like to highligh a little project which actually turned out as nice as I’d hoped. A lot of projects turn out good, or okay, but never like you envisioned them. This project did come out much as I envisioned it.

The picture here actually shows off three pieces of my daughter’s Big Girl Room. The Blik wall decals are actually the highlight, however, I’d also like to point out how nice the purple paint turned out (Sherwin-Williams low-VOC paint; color = kismet), and the new IKEA chest of drawers.

I really like the way the white trim and furniture contrasts with the darker purple. I did discover later, however, one minor issue with the purple paint, which I will point out when featuring another part of the room.

But the wall decals are what gives this part of the room its Wow Factor (at least, that’s what my daughter said when she saw this part of the project completed).

By the way, you can click on and of the photos for a larger, more detailed version (which were taken with my new Nikon D50 digital SLR with Sigma 28-70mm lens – a NewBaby Gift from my father-in-law).

(more details and pictures after the jump) Read the rest of this entry »


Bath Crayons

August 9, 2007

As I’ve mentioned before, my daughter likes to draw in the bathtub. I think she mostly likes me to draw in the bathtub, but she’ll also draw a little herself.

Well, her old bath crayon was getting a little, how shall we say, gross.

So, we made a note to get her some new ones. When we finally remembered while at the store, we saw these new gel ones from Crayola (apparently called Crayola H2O Bath Gel Pens, but I cannot find a link to the set of three with the colors we have).

gel-pens.jpgThey looked pretty cool. Little plastic tubes filled with colored Gel with a twist top. Would certainly help keep our hands cleaner. Seemed easier to use – just “gently squeeze” and draw. They were also filled with gel, which is much easier to clean off of the tub and my daughter (although, to be fair, she does most of the washing off).

Well, I gotta say, they are a bit of a disappointment.

These suckers are kind of difficult to squeeze. My daughter especially has trouble squeezing and drawing a the same time. They say 3+, but I even have difficulty squeezing and drawing for too long without my hands starting to hurt. “Let’s do it together!” she tells me. Good luck squeezing these things along with your kid without crushing your kid’s hand.

Our set came with green, which works great, and purple and orange, which you can hardly see on the bathtub, let alone on my daughter’s skin. I will say, though, that the green is great for making dots on her skin and pretending (or “making an imagination” as my daughter would say) she has developed some weird disease.

Anyhow, I want to like these crayons – they are a good concept, just executed poorly.

Or maybe I just got a dud package..?


Light up my life…

July 31, 2007

One thing that is still unsettled for my daughter’s new room (besides actually painting and putting everything together – I’ve got as lot still sitting in boxes) is a nightlight. Currently, we use this wall-mounted moon from IKEA. This light is nice, but… even with the lowest wattage bulb we could find, it still gives off a lot of light.

We’re hoping we can move her to a much dimmer light in the new room. And I’ve narrowed my choices down to four:

offi

1) Offi – I love these Offi Dachshund lamps. Low voltage (12v), with replaceable bulbs, they give off a soft glow, and are available in several colors (many of the cooler ones not available until September). I have no idea how these are turned on and off. But they are pretty cute. Drawback – they generally go for about $59.

spoka

2) IKEA – Similar to these, IKEA offers their SPOKA nightlights. Supposedly “ghosts” (like I’d tell my daughter this), they can be turned on and off by pressing. Having played with these a bit, I am not sure how easily they can be turned on and off by a three-year-old. These lamps give off a softer glow, and, like the Offi, sit on a table or other flat surface. Unlike the Offi, they are just $14.99. However, the bulb is not replaceable, which means, you could eventually spend more on the SPOKA than the Offi.

candeloo

3) Candeloo – the Candeloo lights are pretty sweet, as well. I got to see some of these “in the wild” over the weekend, and they really are pretty nice. That being said, they are more for kids to navigate their way around at night than they are for use as a nightlight. They sit on their rechargeable base, and automatically turn on when removed from the base (or in the event of power failure). There are no exposed contacts, and you get two of them. They are about $50. One other drawback – they are recommended for ages 6 and up. Not so good for a three-year-old.

egg lamp4) Uhmm… You know, when I started this post this morning, I definitely had 4 night lights in mind, but now I am not sure what the fourth one was. The only thing I can thing of is my several-year-long lust for the J Schatz Egg Lamps. These ceramic beauties are egg shaped and project “stars” on the ceiling and walls. I’ve always had a personal desire for a “star” lamp myself. The drawback of these, for a three-year-old, are (a) it is ceramic, and (b) they are $125. They are available in 10 colors. If you aren’t interested in a night light, the egg birdhouses and birdfeeders are pretty sweet, as well.

So there are my choices. Of course, like most choices, I haven’t run any of them by Ms. Kaz yet, but I’d have to say the dachshund lamps may be the front runner. I’d ask my daughter, but, well, I’m afraid she’d choose the egg lamp.

Anyone else found some kick-ass night lights?


Ciao Time

July 23, 2007

Okay, we are on the Pottery Barn Kids mailing list.

Okay, I peruse the catalog now and then because, well, I think some of their stuff is nice looking.

I also like to check out what the “hot” kids names are these days. As defined by PBK, at least. I just want to know what names to avoid.

I also like to find interesting details in the catalog. If you got the most recent catalog, see if you can spot the page where they Photoshopped just one section of a shelving unit. You can tell because, while all other items in the unit look fine, one section contains a stack of books where the titles are all backwards (as if looking at them in a mirror).

They also have some interesting educational toys, such as the Triangle Puzzle, the Color Wheel, the Alphabet Puzzle, the Additional and Subtraction Puzzle. Oh, and my person favorite, Learn Language Circle Puzzle.

pbk puzzleThe circle puzzle has several “layers”, if you will, which represent words. There are also “slices”, which represent languages. There is a slice for English, for Spanish, for French, for Germany, and for Italian.

For example, the outer layer represents “Hello”. Easy in English. In Spanish, kids learn “Hola” for hello. “Bon jour”, of course, is French. Get to Italian, and you learn that hello is…

Now, I am not the Italian one in our family. My wife is Italian. Well, at least 1/2 Italian, but Italian halves tend to crowd out any other halves. But, I have learned a few things. Like a love for food, garlic, and wine. And, you tend to pick up some words along the way.

So, of course, “hello” in Italian on the Language Puzzle is… uh… “chow” ?? (click on the photo for a larger version)

Ok, like I said, I am not Italian. Maybe “chow” is an acceptable alternative to “ciao”. Better run it by Ms. Kaz. “Maybe they are spelling it so kids can pronounce it?” she counters. Well, that wouldn’t explain “Arrivederci” or “Per Favore”.

I even checked with some (okay, one) Italian at work. They also attempted to defend PBK.

The only defense I can figure is that the photo is Photoshopped, and the entry-level graphic artist just didn’t know how to spell it. I’ll have to get to a store to see how it is spelled on an actual puzzle.

Unless there’s someone out there than can tell me this is an acceptable spelling..?

Update: Finally, an explanation. Linda Phillips writes in the comments that, had I been more careful in my reading, I would have noticed that the reverse side of the puzzle pieces contain the words spelled phonetically. I just knew there was a good explanation, I just never thought it was my own carelessness!


Holy Cow! Moo Stickers!

July 19, 2007

I remember reading about Greg’s love affair with Moo Business Cards and then Moo Note Cards over at daddytypes.

They were pretty cool, taking your Flickr images (I think they work with other sources, as well), and creating some nice looking cards from them. Did I really have a use for them? Meh. Not really. But they were cool looking!

Moo stickers!Well, now they are making stickers! And these are pretty sweet looking. 22 mm (yeah, I had to check, too — about 7/8 of an inch), and printed on scratch-proof vinyl. You get 6 per sheet, 15 detachable sheets per book. $9.99 a book (that’s less than $10 a book!).

And.. and.. well, go check the link and you’ll read all about them.

My daughter’s at that age where she has a love of everything stickers. I may just have to finally give in and get me some Moo.

And my parents and in-laws still go ga-ga over anything grandchild related. I could slap these on some letters (you know, cards and stuff – no one writes actual letters anymore).

(via BoingBoing. Sorry, all the free sticker books have been claimed.)