January 18, 2007

Travel With Kids Hawai'i: The Big Island

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Growing up, my family didn't do much traveling. We went on lots of vacations to the local campgrounds, but anything more than a day's drive away was strictly out of the question. I had always thought that the reason for this was the cost of traveling, but now that I'm a parent as well I realize that traveling with children is really hard!

That's where the Travel With Kids series comes in. These DVDs are filled with lots of fun facts, traveling tips, and a thorough explanation of each destination. So I was eager to see what was in store for me when I received a copy of Travel With Kids Hawai'i: The Big Island.

This DVD follows the Hawai'ian adventures of Jeremy and Carrie Roberts and their two sons Nathan, age 5, and Seamus, age 3. They visit attractions like Kilauea, the world's largest active volcano; a coffee plantation; Dolphin Quest where the kids swim and play with a pod of dolphins; Parker Ranch -- a real working ranch; and Pana'ewa Zoo where the family sees a white tiger among other animals. And of course, no Hawai'ian adventure would be complete without a luau with hula and fire dancers.

Travel With Kids DVDs all feature a special "Plan Your Trip" featurette which guides families in planning the best and most educational excursions. The "Expanded Information" section covers all the local activities, packing tips, and travel products that make traveling with children a breeze.

Best of all, these DVDs include simple crafts projects, recipes, and vocabulary sections that introduce children to key phrases and culture of each country.

Travel With Kids Hawai'i: The Big Island joins Caribbean: Puerto Rico & The Virgin Islands, The Islands of Maui & Molokai, The Island of Oahu, and Mexico - Mayan Riviera in the Travel With Kids series.

Peter at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

January 17, 2007

My Bedbugs: Volume 1

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I'm sure that everybody's heard of Barney, or the Wiggles. Well, there's a new kid on the block from Detroit Public TV: My Bedbugs. Winner of an iParenting Media Award, four Emmy awards, and four Telly awards, My Bedbugs follows the adventures of Gooby, Toofy, and Woozy, a family of bedbugs, as they learn life's lessons.

The trio is joined by other memorable characters such as J. Edgar, a vacuum cleaner who teaches them manners, discipline, and critical thinking. A cuddly pillow, Snoozy, a bubbly goldfish, Ruffy, and a talking window, Windy round out the cast. These characters are all brought to life in live-action, to make them more real to children.

My Bedbugs Volume 1 is composed of three vignettes, "Lost Sock Adventure," "Pirates of the Bugabean," and "Rainy Day." In "Lost Sock Adventure," Gooby, Toofy, and Woozy learn the value of cleaning their room in order to re-united two separated bobby socks. "Pirates of the Bugabean" is the story of a treasure hunt in which the Bedbugs learn to put aside their sibling rivalry and work together. And "Rainy Day" shows all the great games you can play when you're stuck inside. The action is very light-hearted and believable. The lessons are presented in a fairly straight-forward way and reinforced appropriately. Most importantly, there were no nerve-grating songs or characters. This is definitely a DVD I wouldn't mind having on in the background, something that can't be said for all children's DVDs. Anderson wasn't terribly interested in watching, although it didn't upset him the way some other live-action shows can. However, it's recommended for ages 2 to 7, so I'm sure he'll like it even more in the upcoming years.

My Bedbugs Volume 1 will be released on February 13, 2007, for a suggested retail price of $14.99. My Bedbugs Volume 2 is scheduled for April, 2007, with another two volumes set to appear by the end of the year.

Peter at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

January 15, 2007

Plum Organics

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The folks over at Plum Organics were kind enough to send Super Cool Baby a small sample of their food. We received two containers of Super Greens and Banana Peach Rice Pudding. Gigi Lee Chang, the founder of Plum Organics, believes that the joy of eating starts with the very first spoonful. Plum Organics provides your baby a wide range of delicious foods that offer the best building blocks for a lifetime of healthy eating. Research indicates that eating habits and food preferences are formed by the age of two, so it is definitely important to get things off to a good start, and you definitely can't go wrong with Plum Organics. The food comes in two stages: Real Smooth and More Texture.

Even though these are in the Real Smooth stage, they definitely had some texture to them. In fact, they seemed very reminiscent of homemade baby food.
The Super Greens are made from organic peas, spinach, and green beans. Using a unique cooking process combined with flash freezing, Plum Organics locks in the fresh flavor and helps retain vitamins and enzymes that are essential to your babies development. Even though these are in the Real Smooth stage, they definitely had some texture to them. In fact, they seemed very reminiscent of homemade baby food. Now, Laura is a vegetarian, so we're used to eating our vegetables in this house, but when I tried these veggies myself I found that they were very good. Definitely a much more pleasant texture than your typical pureed baby food. Anderson didn't agree with me at first though, and since he is one of the least picky eaters in existence, you may want to introduce these slowly before stocking up your freezer. I think it was the texture that bothered him the most, as we only recently started introducing food with a little more texture. But too his credit, he ate all of the Super Greens without any more fuss.

I was a little more skeptical about the Banana Peach Rice Pudding. Made from organic bananas, peaches, rice, and cinnamon, I figured this would be a good chance to introduce Anderson to some new flavors. However, the pudding was much thicker than I was expecting. It came out of the container in one solid chunk. When I tasted it, I thought it was very nice. You could definitely taste the bananas and peaches, with the tiniest hint of cinnamon. And there was no mistaking the texture of the rice pudding. This would be a nice dessert for anybody, not just your baby! My first thought was to put little chunks in front of Andy and let him feed himself. This actually went surprisingly well, and the ate at least half the container that way. After a while I mashed everything up a little more and finished feeding him the container myself. Interestingly, he had no problem with the texture of this one.

In addition to Super Greens and Banana Peach Rice Pudding, Plum Organics currently offers Pears & Apples, Sweet Potatoes in the Real Smooth stage. And in the More Texture stage, they offer Chicken Whole Wheat Pasta, Super Greens Multigrain, Vegetable Stew with Beef, and Red Lentil Veggie. You can purchase Plum Organics at Whole Foods, Wild Oats, and Wegman's nationwide.

Peter at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

January 2, 2007

Safer Bather

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When Anderson was still a newborn, we tried using the Safer Bather during bath time. We liked it because it kept him at a good angle for bathing. The raised head rest would keep his head and ears out of the water which can be very helpful for preventing ear infections. The pad is nice and soft too, and afterwards just hang it up to dry. Of course, our only problem was that back then Anderson hated baths. After a few unsuccessful tries with The Safer Bather, we resorted to a quick wash-up in the shower while one of us held him.

Peter at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

December 19, 2006

Baby Love: Quiet Time CD

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My Aunt Pat is a very generous woman. When I saw her in October, she gave me a few presents for Anderson, including the cd Baby Love: Quiet Time. On the drive home that day, I ended up in Friday afternoon rush hour, and my drive ended up being 3 hours instead of an hour and a half. Anderson, you can imagine, was very upset about the long car ride. He was bored, cranky, had a wet diaper, and wanted to be home. And he let me know it through his cries and whines. I remembered the cd that I had just been given, and I put it into the cd player hoping it would distract him a bit. Oh, did it work wonders. By the time the first song ended, he was once again nice and quiet, and somewhere in there he fell back asleep.

This cd quickly became my favorite cd in the car. I'd play it for Andy during our long car rides to visit my family, and he started sleeping during each car trip. If I forget to put the cd on, he lets me know by not napping well and being generally unhappy. And I really can't blame him as I love this music too. The songs are beautifully sung by two different artists, and many of the songs are new to me, so I am not bored listening to it. Before giving birth, I'd assumed that all children's music would be grating, like nails on a chalkboard. But this cd is one I would even listen to on my own! I cannot recommend it enough. It's quickly become a staple for all of us.

Laura at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

December 5, 2006

Apple iPhoto Holiday Cards

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Now that our little family is growing we decided to do holiday photo cards this year. The possibilities for these cards are nearly endless but I wanted to create a double-sided card that was printed on card stock (as opposed to a single-sided card printed on photo paper). After a quick look online it seemed like our favorite vendors were charging anywhere between $2.00 to $2.55 and that didn't even include a custom message on the back.

First things first though. A friend of ours is a semi-professional photographer and he was kind enough to set up a little home studio to take pictures of us. It was a quick photoshoot; 30 minutes to shoot about 150 frames. I've never been to one of those places at the mall but I'm assuming that they probably don't take quite so many pictures. Because we were taking so many we could relax and take a few un-posed pictures. In fact, my favorite picture of the photoshoot was one where I was just fooling around and snapping a few pictures myself.

So, once we had our photos we took a look at our options. We've used Purple Stork in the past and we really like the designs at InABabyCarriage.com. However, we really wanted to go with something a little less expensive. Instead, I fired up iPhoto (version 6) on our Apple laptop.

Making the card was ridiculously simple. The hardest part was just choosing what design we wanted. After we picked that out (we went with Holiday Wreath) we just typed in our greeting for the front and back. It wasn't completely obvious, but if you hit Command-T you can bring up the font menu and switch any text to a fancy font like Zapfino.

Ordering the cards couldn't have been simpler. We just click the 'Buy Card' button and specify the quantity we want. Since we already have an Apple account (to buy music from iTunes) we don't even have to type in our address. Finally, we selected Express shipping since it only added $2 to our order.

Our cards arrived about a week later (so plan ahead!). Apple ships them in little white boxes which hold about 20 cards and the included envelopes. Since these were postcard style cards all we had to do was address and stuff the envelopes! Apple also offers a greeting card style card if you want something you can sign inside.

Overall, we're really happy with the service. The cards themselves came out great and they were really easy to make. We've already had several compliments about our cards as well! I will definitely be using this service again and recommend it to all our loyal readers.

Peter at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

November 30, 2006

No More Diapers

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No More Diapers is the story of a little bear named Glen, who gives up diapers for big kid pants. Like many babies, Glen loves his diapers and is reluctant to give them up. Until one day when Glen's best friend, Sophie, announces that she's a big girl, and wears big girl underpants. Glen decides that he's ready to give up his diapers and wear underpants too. There are a few sing-alongs including Wonderous Underous Pants, Underwear is Great, and Congratulations March. Hopefully these will inspire your reluctant toddler to give up diapers as well.

The most ingenious part of the DVD, however, are the included potty training rewards stickers. The package says there are 30 included stickers, but mine only came with 15. There are also several downloads available from the publisher. You can print out 3 coloring pages of scenes from the DVD, a potty chart where your child can place his rewards stickers, and a No More Diapers diploma, when the transition is complete.

The main story runs for about 23 minutes. And after the songs are repeated, this time in a karaoke style with the words underneath. However, there doesn't seem to be any easy way to navigate around the DVD if you just wanted to play the songs. There is no DVD menu, and you can't skip ahead, other than by using a regular fast forward, which is cumbersome at best.

Before watching, I thought the DVD would be more instructional. Instead, its designed to delight and entertain your child, and inspire him to give up diapers as well. You may wish to start playing the DVD regularly before your child is ready, so he can get used to the idea.

No More Diapers is available at Amazon.com for $11.99. Buy a copy for your child today, or give it as a gift to anybody with a young infant this holiday season.

Peter at Permalink | Comments (1) | social bookmarking

November 22, 2006

Giggles Computer Funtime for Baby Software

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Anderson recently discovered the computer keyboard. Whenever we try to use the computer while he is sitting on our laps, he reaches out to pound on the keyboard. His enthusiasm for this is only matched by his desire to play with the mouse. Of course, after letting him pound away on the keyboard for a few minutes, we discovered that this probably wasn't the best idea. With a few keystrokes, he could delete files, reboot the computer, even send inappropriate emails to the rest of our family!

So, when I heard about Giggles Computer Funtime for Baby Software, I was intrigued. Would it let Andy safely play on the computer while stimulating him at the same time? We were able to see for ourselves after we were sent a copy by the creators, Leveractive. For this review, we used a PC running Windows XP. The software is also compatible with Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows ME, Windows NT, and Mac OS X 10.1 and higher.

The installation of the software was very easy. Just stick the CD in, and Windows automatically starts the install process. After typing in the included software license key we were ready to go. (One caveat, we were unable to quit the installation process without typing in the software license key, so make sure you have it handy before you start). There is also a screensaver on a second bonus CD included in the package.

After installing, we started the software right up. In both Shapes and My Animal Friends you're presented with 14 different activities such as Diving Diamonds, Flopsy's Funny Farm, Groundhog Day, and Little Quackers. Anderson loved watching these activities. The colors are high contrast and the shapes fill the screen. Typically he would pound the keyboard a few times, then get distracted by all the movement on the screen. He'd stare at it, transfixed for a few seconds and then pound the keyboard again. Even after just a few minutes, he started to understand that he was causing all the commotion on the screen.

There are also more than 50 songs included in Shapes and more than 60 in My Animal Friends. By default, there is no music playing, but you can choose things like My First Classical, Jazzy Baby, Baby Funtime, Baby Boogie, and Lullaby Baby. The music is all very nice. Most of the songs I wouldn't mind listening to even without the game.

This software is a great way to introduce your child to computers. When it's running, you don't have to worry about your child accidentally deleting files. I was never able to figure out any way to exit, other than through the main menu of the program itself. This is probably the most important feature of the software that I can think of. Even the infamous control-alt-delete sequence does nothing in this software.

I cannot recommend this software highly enough. Anderson loves to play with it, and I only feel safe letting him pound away on the keyboard when this is running. There are enough activities included in the program that he won't get bored with any of them for a long time. So, go out and buy it for your little one today!

Peter at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

November 21, 2006

Review: Bub Love

We were lucky enough to get a t-shirt from bub love, a company that makes tees for babies as well as their parents. Bub love is run by a mother who started making tees for her son after not seeing many cute ones on the market. Quickly her homemade tees drew attention, so she started a business designing tees so that other babies would have cute clothing as well.

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First of all, the packaging is very cute. It came in clear plastic wrapping with a bow tied with ribbon on the top and a business card that has your size circled. We received the bumble bub design, and the front of the shirt shows through the front. The tee is printed on Hanes Playwear on preshrunk cotton. It is a soft yellow color with chocolate brown ink.

We must say that we really like this tee. It seems a little longer than most, which is great if you have a large baby as it'll continue to fit for a while. One of my pet peeves is when shirts are too short, as they inch up so easily exposing Andy's belly or his onesie. And as it's getting a little cooler, I want him covered! I also really like the folds around the collar. I have no idea what that is called, but it is essential to us as Andy's head is very large. If it wasn't for those folds, he wouldn't be able to get the tee over his head!

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Bub love sells more than baby tees. They also have tees for kids up to size 12 as well as tees for Mom and Dad. I will be reviewing a Mom's tee over at Shirt Snob in the next few days in fact, so make sure to head on over there and check it out! There are also a bunch of cute designs. There are a bunch of emotions such as Happy Bub or Cranky Bub, there's a Birthday Bub, Bub Loves Mama (or Daddy), and a new one for the hip parents Two Turn Tables and a Pacifier. And that's just for the infant sizes. There are different designs for the older kids, such as Merry Bub and Flower Bub in the 2-4T sizes. I really just love the idea of different tees for different moods. I had this idea for myself a few years ago as a way of letting the world know how I felt so they would know how to react to me (if I was wearing an angry tee, they'd stay away for instance), and I love to see that such an idea is already out there for my little one. If he's having a bad day, I can throw on the cranky bub tee, and everyone will hopefully understand!

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I must bring up my one issue with the tee as this is a review. Unfortunately, I think the tags are big and stiff. We will have to cut them out as I think they will bother Andy. Really, this isn't a big deal, as I would probably have done that no matter what type of tag was in there as I hate tags myself and therefore assume Andy does as well. Other than that, this is a great tee and a great company. They have great customer service and are very nice and friendly and so easy to work with.

Peter and I really like this tee a ton and recommend it whole heartedly to you all!

Laura at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

Christmas Toons by Thingamakid

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We received a copy of ThingamaKid's Christmas Toons here at Super Cool Baby. ThingamaKid is a new company founded by former Veggie-Tales producer, and creator of the platinum selling Cedarmont Kids series, Matt Huesmann. If this sounds familiar to you, its because we already looked at Toddler Toons, and Action Bible Toons.

Like the other titles in this series, Christmas Toons is a series of animated cartoons set to sing-along music. The songs are sung by a childrens' choir and set to up-tempo jazzy music. However, unlike the previous titles, this music sounds a little more orchestral, as is fitting for Christmas music. One of the best features of this DVD is the Karaoke mode. This allows you to learn the words while you sing-along to the words and music, or just the music if you desire. The DVD includes the following songs:

  1. Over the River and Through the Woods
  2. Up on the Housetop
  3. Christmas Medley (Deck the Halls, Here We Come a Caroling, We Wish You a Merry Christmas)
  4. We Three Kings
  5. The Friendly Beasts
  6. The Christmas Story
  7. Away in a Manger
  8. Jingle Bells
  9. O Christmas Tree
  10. Pat-A-Pan
  11. The Twelve Days of Christmas

Christmas Toons also includes a CD containing many of the same songs, with a few additions. If you don't mind listening to a children's choir sing all your favorite Christmas songs, then you'll probably play this a lot during the holiday season. I know it'll be played a lot here at Super Cool Baby headquarters.

  1. Over the River and Through the Woods
  2. Angels We Have Heard On High
  3. Christmas Medley (Deck the Halls, Here We Come a Caroling, We Wish You a Merry Christmas)
  4. Go Tell It On The Mountain
  5. The Friendly Beasts
  6. Jingle Bells
  7. Away In A Manger
  8. O Christmas Tree
  9. Joy to the World
  10. Up on the Housetop
  11. The Twelve Days of Christmas
  12. Pat-A-Pan
  13. Hark the Herald Angels Sing
  14. We Three Kings
  15. Silent Night

The CD also includes split-track versions of all the songs. This basically means that the music plays in your left speaker, and the lyrics play in your right speaker. However, I don't really understand why you'd want to do that; maybe it has something to do with karaoke?

Peter at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

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