November 20, 2006

Review: The Octonauts and the Only Lonely Monster by Meomi

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We recently received a copy of a new children's book, just released in October, to review. It is called The Octonauts and the Only Lonely Monster by Meomi, and as the publisher describes it, this book is like Hello Kitty meeting Star Trek under the sea! I must say, I was intrigued.

The book, geared at ages 4-8, is a tale about a large sea creature that looks like a monster, but is really just lonely and looking for others like it. So the Octonauts search all the oceans looking for others like the monster. It's a tale about how it's okay to be unique and different as we all are in one way or another. I really like this theme as I'm sure every child feels different and strange for one reason or another at some point. I really don't want Andy to grow up feeling like a weirdo because he is a little different than everyone else, so I think a book like this would be great to read to him early on in his life so he knows it's the uniqueness that makes us all special.

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The book is beautifully illustrated. The characters do remind me a bit of Hello Kitty, but they are different enough than that character and each other. The world under the sea looks fun and inviting, and it was great to see how the rest of the ocean looked. There are Russian walruses, Asian whales, and tons of other foreign sea creatures. And as they go west or south the direction of the pages flips, so you will have to flip the book to see the pictures right side up. I think children would get a kick out of that.

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The author Meomi specializes in critter design. However, this means much more than just books. You can buy these cute characters on buttons, magnets, stationary, knit cozies, on t-shirts at Baby Wit (whom we wrote about recently), and tons more. With all these products you can tie into the book, your child can really immerse himself in the Octonauts if they love the characters as much as we think they might.

There are also more Octonaut adventures to come (hopefully one in October 2007), and I for one cannot wait to read them. I think these will quickly become favorites in your household as they have fun characters and show such an adventurous and stunning world under the sea that one cannot help but want to learn more about.

Laura at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

November 14, 2006

Review: Whimsical Children's Blanket by Tots and Tails Designs

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I must say that in the past few years I've been pretty lucky. Besides getting the occasional free baby item to review, I also seem to win stuff now and then. One of those items I recently won is a baby blanket from Tots and Tails Designs. We won a blanket of our choice from this company, and we chose the Whimsical Children's Blanket in "Blast-off" (obviously without the name Roman on it). Let us just say, we LOVE this blanket. It is the softest thing we have ever felt. We want to keep it to ourselves instead of letting Andy use it. Really, it is that soft. I really love the design too. The retro looking print inside the space ship remindsme of the 50s, yet the rest of the blanket is totally modern. It's quite large at 30 by 40 inches, and it's also hand crafted in the USA. This blanket is fun to look at, fun to use, and overall a great product. If you want to buy a nice baby present for someone, this is definitely one to consider.

Laura at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

November 13, 2006

Action Bible Toons by Thingamakid

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We received a copy of ThingamaKid's Action Bible 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.

Action Bible Toons are primarily Old Testament stories set to sing-along music. Most of the stories I remember from my Sunday School days, but there were a few I hadn't heard before. Like Toddler Toons, the songs are accompanied by an up-tempo jazzy music.

Action Bible Toons, like Toddler Toons, is designed for children ages 2 to 5, so Anderson is a little young for it. So, he wasn't particularly interested when I played the DVD for him. The DVD consists of short animated cartoons set to sing-along songs. One of the best features of the 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. Rise and Shine (Arky, Arky)
  2. Days of Creation
  3. Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho
  4. Isaiah 52:9
  5. Only a Boy Named David
  6. Who Did (Swallow Jonah)
  7. God Made Me
  8. Zacchaeus
  9. Father Abraham
  10. The Wise Man and the Foolish Man
  11. Days of the Week Prayer
  12. Dare to be a Daniel
  13. Peter, James and John in a Sailboat

Action Bible Toons includes a CD containing much of the same music. The CD would be great for long car trips. It would give you a bunch of songs that everybody is familiar with. There's enough of them so that you hopefully won't be sick of them by the time you arrive at Grandma's house either. The CD includes the following songs:

  1. This is My Commandment
  2. Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho
  3. Days of Creation
  4. Jacob's Ladder
  5. Rise and Shine (Arky, Arky)
  6. Only a Boy Named David
  7. Jesus Loves the Little Children
  8. Who Did (Swallow Jonah)
  9. Zacchaeus
  10. I'm in the Lord's Army
  11. Father Abraham
  12. Dare to be a Daniel
  13. Jesus Loves Me
  14. The Wise Man and the Foolish Man
  15. Peter, James and John in a Sailboat

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. No, I don't really understand why you'd want to do that either. Maybe it has something to do with karaoke?

Peter at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

November 8, 2006

Preggers n' Proud

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After giving birth to Andy, the people over at Preggers n' Proud were nice enough to send a few things my way. One thing they sent was the Mama's Got My Back tee for Andy. The back says "and so does Daddy!" I think it's the cutest thing, and Andy wears it all the time now as it's a 6 to 12 month size and fits him perfectly right now. It's made on American Apparel, so you know it's high quality. As we seem to have a thousand onesies and footsies but very little of anything else, I really appreciated getting this cute tee.

They also sent Peter a nice shirt, Men Who Change Diapers Rule. I made him bring it to the hospital because I thought it'd be a conversation starter that the nurses would like. And I was right, one even asked him where he got it. I know not all husbands really get into the every day care of a baby, so this might not be for everyone. But it fits Peter perfectly although he does say it's a little smaller than the larges he normally wears. So keep that in mind when ordering. Really, I think the design is great. I love all ringer tees, and anything that says to the world how great he is and how much he helps out with Andy is great in my book! After all, I think he may change as many diapers as I do! It is also available in women's as well.

Besides baby and daddy tees, they also sell maternity tees, mommy tees, and nursing necklaces (which I wish I had, I didn't realize how much Andy could have used one until he started pulling my hair). We really like this company a lot and can't recommend them to you all enough!

Laura at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

November 7, 2006

Toddler Toons from ThingamaKid

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We received a copy of ThingamaKid's Toddler 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.

When I played this DVD for Anderson, he wasn't particularly interested in it. He is a little young though, as Toddler Toons are designed for kids between the ages of two and five. The DVD consists of short animated cartoons of sing-along songs. Many of the songs I knew from my childhood, but there are a few I haven't heard before. The songs are accompanied with a nice up-tempo jazzy music — definitely the kind of stuff to get your toddler up and dancing. The best feature about the DVD, in my opinion, is the karaoke mode. When this is on, the words are displayed karaoke style, and you have the option for the accompanying music to sing along with you, or simply provide the background music. Your kids may or may not care about this feature (obviously Andy's way too young to care), but its definitely helpful when your learning new songs yourself.

The DVD includes the following songs:

  1. Head, Shoulders, Knees And Toes
  2. The Butterfly Song
  3. Mr. Turkey Feathers Counts To 10!
  4. The Wheels On The Bus
  5. Mary Had A Little Lamb
  6. Pop! Goes The Weasel!
  7. Meet The Shapes Family
  8. This Old Man
  9. The Bear Went Over The Mountain
  10. Eensy, Weensy Spider
  11. Colors Of The Rainbow
  12. Old MacDonald
  13. Alphabet Animals (the A-B-C Song)

Also, in the same package there is a CD with many of the same songs, and several new ones. The CD includes:

  1. The Muffin Man
  2. Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
  3. Roll Over
  4. The Butterfly Song
  5. The Wheels On The Bus
  6. Mary Had A Little Lamb
  7. Pop! Goes The Weasel!
  8. Alphabet Animals (the A-B-C Song)
  9. This Old Man
  10. Polly Put The Kettle On
  11. The Bear Went Over The Mountain
  12. Looby Loo
  13. Eensy, Weensy Spider
  14. Old MacDonald
  15. Baa Baa Black Sheep

I have a feeling the CD will be making many rounds in our house, as we feel that music and reading are definitely vital parts of Anderson's education. The nice thing about the CD is he can definitely start to enjoy it during his trips in the car even now.

Peter at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

November 2, 2006

Babybjorn Baby Original Carrier

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After Anderson was born we quickly found out that holding him was the only way to keep him relatively calm. This was especially true in the evening — the so-called witching hour. A friend had given us a sling, but Anderson hated it, perhaps because it completely enveloped him so he couldn't see what was going on. So after a few weeks of sore arms we realized that we needed a Baby Bjorn.

We bought the Baby Bjorn Original Baby Carrier, and I think it was a very good choice. With the Baby Bjorn we felt confident that we could keep Anderson calm whenever we travelled. If he started to fuss, we'd just stick him in, and he'd calm down, and very often take a long nap with his head on my chest.

The Baby Bjorn was very useful in my evening walks with Anderson. Laura, like every new mother, needed some time to herself, so every evening I'd strap him into the Baby Bjorn and take a long stroll around the neighborhood. I liked this better than the stroller because it was a lot easier to maneuver around our less-than-ideal sidewalks.

We don't use the Baby Bjorn anymore. It's only designed for babies up to 22 pounds, and Anderson has been over that for more than a month now. He is an unusually large baby (way off the charts in weight), so you will hopefully get a little more use out of it. Also, your newborn has to be at least 8 pounds before you can use the Baby Bjorn.

There is one big draw back to the original Baby Bjorn. The straps put a lot of weight on your shoulders because there is no lumbar support. Laura never really got used to it, and when she did use it, she would find that her back really started to hurt after just a short period of time. If you think this is going to be a problem for you, I recommend the Baby Bjorn Active Carrier. It comes with an integrated lumbar support which will help put more of your baby's weight on your hips.

Finally, please make sure that your read the instructions before you put your baby in the carrier. Too many people put their babies in incorrectly, which can lead to accidents. And nobody wants that. Most importantly, you want to make sure that your babies arms go through the carrier like this, and are not on top of the carrier like this.

Peter at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

November 1, 2006

Multi-Sensory Clutch Cube Review

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I wrote about this toy the other day. However, since then we've put our money where our mouth is and bought this toy. The idea behind it is simple enough: lots of things for Andy to grab on to, lots of different textures, and lots of different designs.

At first, Andy liked the toy a lot. It was one of the few substantial things that he could grab onto. He loved to pick it up and swing it around. The bells inside would jingle and he would smile with glee. Since then, the toy has lost a little of its initial appeal. Andy still likes it, and he quite often plays with its tag. But he's moved on to bigger and heavier toys to swing around. However, now that he's started teething, we'll see if he goes back to chomping on its rings!

All in all, I would say this toy was worth it. I wish we had bought it a little earlier so that we got a little more out of it. If you're looking for toys for your little ones, or are looking for a good gift, don't hesitate to buy the Multi-Sensory Clutch Cube!

Peter at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

October 30, 2006

inababycarriage Birth Announcements Review

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The other day, I received some sample birth announcements from inababycarriage.com. Amber Gatej, the owner and designer, started creating these announcements back in 2002 after getting fed up with her dot com job. She searched for something that she could do out of her house, and decided to direct her considerable design talents towards the creation of these fantastic birth announcements. Typically, after you've placed your order you'll receive a digital proof within one to two business days. After your final approval, your entire order ships within five business days via priority mail.

Photo Card inababycarriage.com offers a wide variety of products. On the low end there are Photo Cards. These are essentially 5x7" photos that are printed by the folks at Photo Affectations. The process seems pretty straight forward. You pick the design you like best at inababycarriage.com, and then head over to Photo Affectations. There you can specify the text you'd like on the announcement, as well as any customizations like black & white or sepia toned photos. Photo Affectations involves a human at every step of the process — from processing your uploaded pictures, to double checking the information you provided, to creating up to three digital proofs of your announcement. Photo Affectations also provides a very handy page that should help you plan on when you will receive your announcements. The sample we received was printed on 5x7" Fujifilm Crystal Archive paper with a slightly textured matte/luster finish. Since these announcements are real photographs, they will definitely last a long time in your photo album. All orders of Photo Cards include white envelopes made from 80lb paper.

Panel Card inababycarriage.com also offers Panel Card announcements. The card itself feels amazing. It is press-printed on thick cardstock, so it is nice and sturdy. The color reproduction is absolutely fantastic; it looks even better than the Photo Card. The sample we received had the recommended U/V coating which adds a glossy finish, and apparently helps with the color reproduction. So if you don't get the finish, your colors may not be so vibrant. The best thing about these cards is they are double sided. Normally, the basic design is repeated on the back, but for $25 more, you can add custom printing to the back as well. As with the Photo Cards, all orders include white envelopes made from 80lb paper.

Photo Mount The Photo Mount style is a little more expensive than the Panel Card. These are essentially 4x6" matte finish photographs mounted on 5x7" white cardstock. The cardstock is slightly raised where the photo is mounted. The effect brings a nice white border around your photograph, as well as making the whole announcement nice and sturdy. The border sort of reminds me of older black & white photographs when photos weren't typically printed to the edges of the paper. Therefore, I think this effect looks best with a black & white announcement, although your tastes may vary.

Envelopment On the high-end, inababycarriage.com offers Envelopments. These are almost twice as much as the Photo Mount style, but when you get one of these in your hand, you can definitely tell that it's worth every penny. The envelopment came sealed in cellophane wrapping, and once opened, I thought it was just a pink envelope. Instead, it was a thick cardstock envelope that opens up completely to reveal the announcement mounted inside. The announcement itself is the Photo Mount style, so again, I think a black & white announcement works well here. Of course, there is so much color in the envelope that I think you could probably reflect that in the announcement. Also included with Envelopments are matching return address labels!

Thank You Note To complete your set of announcements, inababycarriage.com offers sets coordinating thank you notes. Using the same motifs and pictures, these thank you notes will leave as much of an impression as your original announcement. The notes are 4x5.5" fold over cards made out of thick cardstock, and include envelopes. The cards really feel just like the cards you'd buy at your local stationary store, however the included envelopes seem just a tad too large for the card — perhaps they're really sized to accommodate a 4x6" card inside.

Additionally, inababycarriage.com offers a set of coordinating return address labels. These are included for free with the Envelopment announcements, but if you are interested in something a little less expensive, you can order them for as little as $0.24 per label. Just like the thank you notes, the return address labels carry the design you've chosen outside your envelope.

Calling Card Finally, inababycarriage.com recently started selling mom cards. These are the business cards for today's busy mothers. Give them to the parents you meet at the park, day care providers, or your child's teachers. The cards are professionally printed on both sides and come in glossy or matte finishes. The sample we received in the mail was glossy, and it was very snazzy. And best of all, every design on inababycarriage.com can be turned into a mom card.

Perhaps the best thing about inababycarriage.com is the extensive choice of designs. At the time of this review there are over 140 designs for both girls and boys, and there are even designs for those of you lucky enough to have twins or are adopting.

If you're in the market for birth announcements, I would highly recommend checking out inababycarriage.com. I really like the quality of the products, and the designs are all fantastic. I'm even thinking about getting Laura some mom cards as a gift.

Peter at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

October 27, 2006

Baby Care Onesie by Kee-Ka

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I got this Baby Care Onesie by Kee-Ka as a gift right before giving birth. I thought it was a great design (ours was the This End Up design), fitting my humor perfectly. They come in little tubes that could fit mini posters in them, which made it fun to open at my baby shower as well. Other designs say Handle With Care and Keep Dry. We did have a problem with the snaps ripping off, but as I am not very careful with snaps, it's happened to me a few other times on different products as well, making me wonder if it's mostly my fault.

Laura at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

October 24, 2006

Purple Stork Photo Birth Announcements

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When it was time to create birth announcements for Anderson, we went with Purple Stork. We chose them because they have a fantastic photography tips page which really helped us capture the stunning pictures you see above. Now, I would consider myself perhaps a mild hobbyist when it comes to photography, but their ideas for keeping the background simple and lighting straight forward definitely helped our pictures. I was fortunate to be able to borrow a friends digital SLR camera, but I see no reason you couldn't get good pictures from your trusty point and shoot camera.

When it comes to ordering announcements, the process is very simple. You pick the style that you want (we went with the Emma design), then fill in the appropriate text for the announcement. There are lots of things you can customize about your announcement. You can pick the font, whether you want black & white, sepia, or full color photos, and more. We also had Purple Stork send us envelopes ahead of time, preprinted with our return address on the back (with a matching font, of course). That allowed us to address all of our announcements ahead of time before Anderson arrived because we knew afterwards we probably wouldn't be up to a project like that.

The announcements themselves came out wonderfully. They were printed on photo paper, but Purple Stork offers 100# card stock with both square and round corners for $0.60 more per announcement. We could not have been more pleased, and virtually everybody we sent them to remarked that it was the best announcement they've ever seen. As an added bonus, because we ordered more than 75 announcements, we received a free 8"x10" enlargement of our announcement, as well as two or three wallet sized announcements.

Purple Stork's customer service was very prompt, polite, and professional. They answered all the questions I had and weren't confused when I made some mistakes when sending them the photographs via email. They kept me informed throughout the whole process of creating our announcements, and they shipped them to us very quickly. We had the announcements in the mail to our friends and family within two weeks of Anderson's birth!

Overall, I recommend Purple Stork very highly. We will definitely be using them again in the future, as in addition to birth announcements, they also create holiday cards, moving announcements, birthday cards, and much more. They will work with you to create a photo card for virtually any occasion.

Peter at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

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