November 25, 2009

Gear Thursday with a Giveaway: Safe Sippy2 from Kid Basix

If you've been reading this blog for a while you may remember I did a post about the Safe Starter from Kid Basix. It's a stainless steel bottle with a silicon sleeve and is a great alternative to plastic bottles because it's sturdy and BPA free. Check out the original post for all the info.

Kid Basix actually has a full line of great products all of them stainless steel and BPA free. One of their newest products is the Safe Sippy2.

I had to move some of my reviews off this blog so please click here to see the whole's easy.

November 24, 2009

A little blog award

Last week I was awarded a blog award called the Kreative Blogger award. Carli from MiniLaLa gave it to me...thanks Carli.

There are some things they tell you to do when accepting the award so here they are:
1. Copy the picture and post it on your blog.
2. Thank the person that gave it to you and link to their blog.
3. Write 7 things about yourself we don't know.
4. Choose 7 other bloggers to pass the award to.
5. Link to those 7 other bloggers.
6. Notify your 7 bloggers.

So here are seven things you all probably don't know about me:
1. I geek out about science and I came really close to adding Physics or Anthropology on as a double major to my Photo degree...but that required too much school.
2. In 1991 I made the last call for the first season of MTV Real World.
3. A couple years ago I got to hang out with Maya Angelou at her house while art directing a photoshoot for Target. Kwaku Alston was the photographer. Dr. Angelou is amazing.
4. I learned to whistle by watching the The Breakfast Club.
5. I broke my left collarbone at some point in my life but have no idea when...I found out when I had my right shoulder x-rayed for a re-injury to a separation.
6. Two days after my wife had sinus surgery I accidentally elbowed her in the nose in the middle of the was horrible.
7. I was an awesome drawer until I took my first photo drawings suck.

Here are seven blogs I dig...I have put some baby blogs on here before so I'll buck the trend and let you know what inspires me:
1. Wooster Collective – great street art
2. Public Ad Campaign – they take on illegal outdoor advertising so we can take back our public spaces and add art...some cool campaigns
3 Oh Joy! – design, inspiration and awesomeness in general
4. No Legacy – design, art, fashion, photography, architecture and culture
5. Fresh 365 – awesome vegetarian recipes
6. Design Sponge – design and more
7. Look at This Fucking Hipster – hipsters 

Hope you enjoy these blogs..thanks again Carli.

November 23, 2009

Another Fantastic Fox...I'll get there eventually and then go on another tangent.

Fair warning...this post is long and goes all over the place so here is a spoiler: I think the movie Fantastic Mr. Fox, coming out Thanksgiving day, looks awesome. That being said you can stop reading and go about your day.

Two weeks ago I did a post about a cute stuffed toy called Semi-Fantastic Mr. Fox stuffed toy we got. This week the caliber of fox I'm writing about is even better.

Last week I got an email from a marketing agency that is working to promote the new animated movie Fantastic Mr. Fox. They found a bunch of bloggers and offered them the opportunity to have a conference call with Jason Schwartzman, one of the stars, to chat about the movie. I wasn't able to participate because it was during my 9ish - 5ish.

At first when I got the email about the call I was super psyched...I'm a fan of Schwartzman and I think the movie looks awesome. But the same day I got the email about the call I was bombarded with about 15 other emails about products that people felt would be "perfect fits" for my reader's interests. People wanting me to pimp their stuff sometimes for free sometimes for lucrative partnerships and sometimes for swag...I kind of felt dirty.

But let's rewind a bit. I started writing this blog four months ago on the suggestion of a friend who thought I had a unique outlook on becoming a father, and was amused when I'd say things to Staci that normal men would self edit.

I had zero expectations for the blog, had no idea what I'd write...I still have no idea where this is going or what direction it will take and that's why I like writing it. I wasn't sure if anyone would read it, I didn't know how it would be received and I didn't expect the warm response from folks like you, yes seriously I'm talking about you, not the other people who are reading this.

Shortly after I started the blog emails would trickle in from people giving me a heads up on their products. Some totally didn't fit the blog...some were pure crap and some may have fit the blog but weren't my style.

Later the emails picked up...a lot more folks had awesome product that would be a perfect fit for my blog. It got to the point that when someone sent me an email saying that his friend thought I'd enjoy a video he linked to, I was weary that it was some marketing ploy...that he was selling something. But really he just wanted to share an awesome video that I will be posting later.

Last week, maybe because of the holidays, I got a lot of emails. Like I said earlier one day I got about 15. And again most were things I wasn't interested in. But a couple were cool. So I had to think about what I want this blog to be. It's really about my experience of becoming a's about that journey and will soon be about the next step of being a dad.

I do talk a bit about gear because as we started to prepare for our baby I found some cool products. I wasn't expecting to geek about about baby stuff and when I did I decided to start Gear Thursday to show the cool things I found. But that is a small part of this blog.

While I like sharing what I find I don't want to just become a shill for companies who are looking for free press. I understand companies that want to get there products out there to a targeted audience..that's cool, and if one contacts me about and I geek out on their product maybe I'll share here. But I don't want this blog to lose it's real share my's not to market products.

My whole struggle comes from the fact that I make my living in marketing. I love marketing...but I'm super cynical about it. And since I get paid to build brands during the day I don't necessarily want to do it on my off time...especially for free. Not that I'm asking folks to pay me for reviews or posts...I'd feel weird about that because I find it hard to trust paid reviews.

That being said I'm digging the new blogger rules that require disclosure of payment. I will fully disclose if I got swag or such for any posting or payment for 2 reviews (this being one, the other is coming up soon) I got some swag. And I'm also not saying that I wouldn't take cash to partner on a promotion, I'm not gonna shoot myself in the foot and lose out on something good. But it would have to be good, feel like a natural fit to me and something I think you'd all care about.

So like I said earlier I got the email about Fantastic Mr. Fox. Maybe I'm looking into this too much, taking this too seriously maybe I'm being too self aggrandizing. But I'm torn because I really think this movie looks cool, and I was thinking of doing a post about it anyway because I love the choice Wes Anderson made on the style of animation, but like I said I don't want to sound like a shill...I don't want you all to think I'm writing about it because I'm getting paid, which I'm not.

But I thought about it and I really do want to talk about the movie because I love that it bucks the current trend of animation.

When I first heard that all animated movies moving forward would be in 3D I was kind of bummed. I thought all movies would have that saccharine look of Wall-E or Up...I enjoyed both those movies but I was bummed because I thought there would be no variety in the style.

It's awesome that Wes Anderson decided go the stop motion route. I think most directors would have opted for the easy route of the new 3D animation. His choice is similar to Spike Jonze's choice of using real people in costume for the Wild Things and using CGI just for the mouths. They are both fantastic directors and I love that they took a chances. Even more so I like that the movie companies gave them a chance...I know that Where the Wild Things Are was almost killed but someone at Warner Brothers got the balls to stand behind it.

I can't really write a review on the movie because I haven't seen it, and although the audio of call with Schwartzman was interesting what was said will probably be in other blogs or news articles.

So instead of talking about that I think I'll just show some behind the scenes shorts that were shared with me...because this is the stuff I really love about stop motion. I'm fascinated with the way these movies are made.

The Puppet Shop with Wes Anderson and Bill Murray

Mr. Fox's World

I also thought it was super cool, and kind of crazy that Anderson acted out all scenes by himself so the animators could know what to capture and how to create realistic movements.

I don't want to bore you with all the stuff you can read on sites that are better at movie reviews...but the cast looks awesome. I am a fan of Clooney, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray and Willem Dafoe...and Jason Schwartzman is pretty freaking cool too.

If you dig Schwartzman I suggest checking out Bored to Death on's one of my favorite shows. I actually wanted to hate the show before even watching it...but decided to give it a chance. One reason I wanted to hate it because I want to hate Zach Galifianakis...I think because his beard makes him look like a hipster and I'm not a fan of on one I can handle them but as a group...meh. However his stand up is freaking hilarious...he was awesome in The Hangover and he is so good in Bored good. I promise that someday I will find a reason to hate Zach...maybe I can hate him for not being hateable.

Another reason I wanted to hate Bored to Death was Ted Danson...I had my fill of Sam Malone and Becker...but he too is awesome in Bored (and he's great as himself on Curb Your Enthusiasm too.) And I suppose since I'm trying to be a total hater about this show I should hate Schwartzman too. He does look like a guy I went to high school with, but he's a friend so I don't think that's a strong reason to hate an actor. I'll figure out why I should hate Schwartzman and update later.

So that's my little review on Fantastic Mr.'s pretty freaking sad as reviews go but I hope you like the can see more here. The movie comes out Thanksgiving...I'll proabably see it 2 weeks later because I like less crowded theaters.

I did mention I'm getting a bit of swag for posting this it's a silly little foxtail tie. I was able to shed my mandatory work day tie earlier this year so this will go to my child when it's old enough.

November 19, 2009

Gear Thursday: Retro Fisher Price

I was out of town the end of last week through the beginning of this week so I didn't have much time to review anything for this week...but I did find some goodies online.

Fisher Price has released some of their retro stuff including the Chatter Telephone pull toy. It's pretty much the same one that was around when I was a kid, although I assume there is less lead in the paint...hopefully no lead. The eyes still roll up and down, the mouth chatters and the dial still rings. The funny thing is kids will have no idea what it is.

When I was a kid this toy was a great primer on how to use a it should really be an iPhone with wheels and a pull cord (patent pending by me.) Maybe you can get this for your child and then take them to a history museum and tell them how much it sucked to call a friend who had a lot of zeros in their phone number.

The only negative I saw in the Amazon reviews is that the phone cord is super short...I'm assuming that's a safety thing.

I also noticed that Fisher Price released some of the classic Little fave was always the mean looking kid with the red hat. Prices of the 4 packs of these are crazy...the 4 pack of the bottom row is $21 while 4 pack of the top row is $6.50 and the 4 pack with the king, queen, dog and girl is $14...hmmm.

Fisher Price also released a retro version of the Play n' Go Barn but it got horrible's smaller than it used to be, comes with less stuff, the doors don't open and worst of all it doesn't moo. My favorite part of the toy was the moo...I used to be able to imitate it perfectly. So if anyone from Fisher Price reads this please do us some good and release the original barn...thanks.

Oh and I know we said we weren't doing a lot of plastic because the whole Montessori thing...but this doesn't count.

One last's a fact that if you make a wish and then click the banner below your wish will come true...and I'll get a vote on Top Baby Blogs. You don't need to do anything but click. Thanks.
Vote For Us @ topbabyblogs.Com!

November 17, 2009

Trying to figure out what babies are thinking

I just got back from a trip to Chicago to see some old friends. While there I stayed at with friends who have 2 kids.

Their youngest is 13 months...he's just on the verge of talking. He'll say small words like dada and up. I was semi fascinated by him.

He's at that age where he's to young to speak but also too young to get frustrated that we don't understand him. I have never actually spent good time with a kid that age. I'm used to that stage he'll be at in a month or even a few weeks. That stage where they really know they are saying things but we have no idea what they are saying.

I'm totally geeked out by human development...that's actually one reason kids really used to freak me out. Their brains are sponges and I think babies are relatively more intelligent than adults...different knowledge but they have crazy brain development and learning ability. Plus they observe and judge everything they's intimidating.

Any way it was so cool to see him so happy with life and just speaking whatever he wanted. His mom could start to understand some of the things he was trying to say..I can never understand kids. However I asked him if he still believes in Santa Claus. Then I said something like 'you don't even understand what I'm talking about.' I swear he said "I understand."

November 12, 2009

Gear Thursday: Semi-Fantastic Mr. Fox by Bird and Little Bird

Well I was going to talk about strollers this week and mention how we went with a Maclaren Easy Traveller because we heard from so many parents that this simple, lightweight system is much more convenient than regular all in one strollers. But then the recall went out. While I'm sure the fix will be fine I am going to hold off until I get the hinge guards and reevaluate then.

So here's something more fun anyway...Staci found it on Etsy. It's a custom made fox toy made by Annie who goes by Bird and Little Bird. The fox is made of all natural materials and filled with organic cotton.She also offers a custom bunny and patterns for both.

While Annie does offer some ready made foxes what's cool about her stuff is that she works with you to customize it to go with your nursery or whatever you want. The body is linen but she will send you pictures of swatches to be used for the ears, arms, legs and scarf.

There are buttons on the arms and legs so maybe it should go on a shelf until you're child is old enough to be around that stuff.

It takes about a week from when you decide on the fabric to when it's shipped. Last week we received the one we bought and we love it. I'd show pics but you'll have to wait until I show more pics of the room. I'm really behind in taking photos.

You can also check out her blog here.

November 11, 2009

New Giveaway: ABC's for Expectant Dads - 10 awesome copies

Winners have been picked for the giveaway. Todd was so nice as to give all who entered by the deadline a copy of his book. Thanks all who entered...I sent an email to you for your info. Please email me (info on the header) if you don't get that email. Rommel I could not find your email...please let me know your contact info.

A bit ago I found Todd Lieman in Twitterland and he sent me a copy of his book ABC's for Expectant Dads: The Ultimate A- for Dads-in-Training. I'd looked at a bunch of expectant dad books and I thought most were terrible. I did pick up The Expectant Father and I liked it but I haven't looked at it in months.

I think it's tough for dad's because we're just reading about what's going on with the mothers and it's easier to hear it from them. Staci is reading so much that she keeps me up to date on things I should know and I'm sure most expectant moms are the same. I'm also luckily in that doing this blog has connected me to a bunch of great moms, new-moms and expectant-moms so I'm getting tons of good info.

The books also offer a lot of info on support and taking care of yourself but that seems like a no-brainer to me.

So when I got this book I was expecting more of the same...I was expecting to be bored. Then I looked through it. I think it's truly awesome. I actually wrote Todd to let him know this would be the book I'd write if someone was fool enough to pay me to write a book. (Please use the email tab above to contact me about that book deal...thanks.)

It's basically laid out in a desk reference or encyclopedia style with the chapters from A-Z. Each letter/chapter has all the terms you need to know with short definitions each. It has serious stuff like; Ectopic Pregnancy, Cutting the Cord and every blogger mom's favorite Mucous Plug. But the book also has personality by talking about: Free Time (not having any,) walking on Egg Shells, and two of my faves Potty (having to say it) and the Due Date (the math being fuzzy.) Todd also touches on products, family and social changes. It ranges from before birth to the first few months with baby.

Trust me, it's a great book for expectant dads, new dads and even expectant moms...Staci learned some stuff from it.

Here's the deal with the giveaway...Todd has been incredibly generous and is offering signed copies to 10 lucky readers of this blog.

Prize: 10 signed copies of ABCs for Expectant Dads (one copy per winner...10 winners.)

How to enter:
I'm going to make this easy with 2 ways to enter, both involve leaving a comment:

Method 1: just leave a comment below about who you'd give the book to. Is it for you, your friend, husband or whoever. Please include your email in the comment if you don't have an email connected to your Google Connect account. You can format it like: whoever -at- wherever - dot - com, or whatever way you want.

Method 2: tweet about this contest. In the tweet add @smonkyou and a link to this contest. Then leave a comment below letting me know you tweeted and please add a link to the tweet. Please include your email in the comment if you don't have an email connected to your Google Connect account. You can format it like: whoever -at- wherever - dot - com, or whatever way you want.

The contest will run 3 weeks and will end December 2. I will announce the winners (picked via on this post. Good luck!

November 9, 2009

Random thoughts: a trial run, time and pseudo science

This was once again written on the bus so pardon the typos.

We had a 24 hour trial run as parents this week when a friends 2 year old son stayed at our house. We've had kids over but only when their parents were staying over. And Staci's watched kids a lot but no one has left their child in my care before....

It went well. I realized I'm not as bad with kids as I thought.

Part of that could be because I thought you had to talk baby talk or talk down to kids so I had no idea what to say. But I just spoke normally and it was easy. Sarcasm didn't go over well because when I asked if he wanted to fix the thermostat in our dryer he got excited.

That's when I learned the most important thing about caring for a need to use misdirection.

Look at woof (what he calls are dog) was all it took to get him on a different train of thought.

He was super easy to play with and take care of. He's already potty trained which was awesome because although I'll be doing 50% of the diaper changing when we have a kid I'm not to big on changing diapers that I don't have to.

One thing that was tough was TV. He doesn't watch any so ours was off. That turned out to be a good thing.

Staci however did the lion share of the work. She is awesome.

The first three months of the pregnancy dragged on for me and we didn't even know we were pregnant for the first. That's because the 12 week appointment is so vital. 

The next 2 months went by pretty fast and that of course leads to the milestone of the 20 week appointment. The month after went by crazy fast.

Now it's dragging for me again. It seems like the due date is painfully far away. Although this is kind of good because I still need to paint the room.

For the guys out there you might not want your pregnant wife know that the time is going slowly. I made the mistake of doing that.

The baby is still head up, if that's how you say it. So the doctor wants to watch to make sure it turns in time, I know it has a lot of time so we're not worried. 

But I was thinking about it. What makes the baby know to turn head down so it's not breach? I'm sure there is some evolution there but I think there has to be more to it. Is it a conscious move? Something initiated maternally?

I shot out the question on twitter and gravity came back as an answer because the head weighs so much. Sounds pretty good but if anyone knows for sure I'd love to hear. I'm going to ask the doctor next time we see him.

If you're in Chicagoland this weekend stop by Rotofugi on Friday the 13th. My friend Jesse LeDoux the illustrator mentioned a couple times on here is having a show there. His new stuff is awesome.

November 5, 2009

Gear Thursday: Road ID Fixx

For this Gear Thursday I chose something that isn't baby related because I think it's a great product, and although geared towards active adults I think it would be great for kids too.

It's the Fixx ID dog tag made by Road ID. They make 6 different styles of identification but I went with the Fixx ID because it's the one that's easiest to wear all the time and it fits my style.

Identification is good to have because first responders look for them if there is an accident. They are usually looking for any kind of medical bracelet or necklace but they would see that your ID has your info and it could help them out and save time. They speak for you if you can't.

I got mine 4 years ago when I got my road bicycle and started going for long rides. Then I started wearing it while snowboarding. Next I got a scooter and just started wearing it every day so I don't forget to put it on. Now that my family is growing I find it even more important to have my info at hand in case something happens.

You can customize the back by adding 7 lines of info or go with a new "interactive" style that has a phone number, web address and unique ID number so first responders can call to get you most up to date information. When I bought they only had the original so I added my name, Staci's phone number, my in-laws number as back up, drug allergies and donor info.

In addition to putting your info on the back you can choose to put one of 227 images on the front. I chose one they call Location Earth. It's a modified image of the plaque that was put on Pioneer 10 to let aliens know where we are. I guess the image was originally made by people who were afraid of alien abduction and thought it would be good to have a map back to earth on the back. While I don't believe in alien abduction I don't mind hedging my bet just in case. Plus I like the image. The real plaque is below.

Friends of mine recently received a different ID bracelet for their son. It really got me thinking that I should get one of these for my child when it's old enough to wear it.

The Fixx costs $25 while their other styles are $20 or $30. Check out Road for much more info than I can put here including some testimonials.

November 4, 2009

Anticipation of things to come

Originally posted on Dad Camp:

I’m not sure how I got my views of what raising a newborn will be like, but apparently they are pretty off.

I realized it when my wife and I were discussing ditching cable. She said it would be great to have at those times our baby won’t sleep and we have to be up with him/her. I told her I’d just play some games on our Wii while I get they baby to sleep…so I won’t need cable.

I guess I kind of thought you just pick the child up when it cries, it stops, you keep it close to you for a bit and then put it to sleep. You see the only experience I’ve had with a baby waking in the middle of the night happened less than a year ago when we had friends in town and I was left with baby.

When he woke up crying I totally freaked out and called Staci to ask her what to do. She told me to figure it out. I did…I grabbed him from his pack and play at a full arms length in case of wetness. When I realized we were all good there I put him on my lap and swiveled in a chair for a few minutes. Then we both fell asleep. It was a piece of cake.

Well, Staci let me know I was lucky…it wouldn’t be so easy…there would be no Wii playing while I have our baby on my chest. Instead there will be crying, pooing, peeing more peeing, bottle filling and more. From there something clicked in my head. Something that has not gone away. Something probably equally as wrong as my first impression. I turned a complete 180.

Right now I’m expecting the first couple months to be a M.A.S.H. style meatball surgery war zone. I now picture our child, due in January, as the king or queen of total chaos. I picture zero sleep, a bunch of crying, pets freaking out, me running around like a fool looking for bottles, diapers and the baby I misplaced.

Staci and I do have a plan for taking care of the baby. I go until 3 A.M. since I can go to sleep at any time but if I wake up a minute early I’m completely useless (fair warning to my employer.) We’ll also have a ton of bottles so misplacing all of them will be hard, but I like the challenge…I think I can lose them all. I misplace things like a pro. I also have a plan for having diapers on both floors of the house so they are always ready to go.

Still although we have plans for the things that I irrationally feel will happen I can’t shake the feeling that the first few months will be M.A.S.H.-like. Super crazy, emotional, scary yet pretty hilarious to the outside viewer. I’m hoping in the next three months I can get another idea of what it will be like stuck in my head. I don’t care if it’s wrong, I’d just like the anticipation to be of a little less chaos.

November 2, 2009

Random shorts: things I've learned or have been thinking

I was pretty sick over the weekend so I didn't think about what I was going to write. And right now my head feels like it's in a vice because of sinus pressure and I can't concentrate when I'm like this will be really random.

I've really been improving on the comfort level with kids thing. I again talked to a 5 year old and felt pretty comfortable. I was even engaged in the conversation and asked questions. If you've been reading you know that's a huge step for me because kids kind of scare me and until recently I could only ask them about their shoes (because Staci told me they like when you ask that.) I think that makes it a total of 3 kids that I didn't know that I felt comfortable with. Huge number.

A little setback in the above area socialization. My office had a halloween party and people brought their kids. I hid at my desk.

Also we didn't give candy out this year at home because I was feeling crappy so we hid out at the in-laws. But we planned on it. I actually really like Halloween and get excited about the candy and kids trick-or-treating. Then when it comes down to actually giving out the candy I freeze up and call Staci to the door.

She's so good with the kids asking what they are, complementing their costumes, asking them to say trick-or-treat and such. When I answer the door I just say 'Here' and give them candy.

Since I was sick I had time to catch up on movies I DVR'd. I saw Schmatta: Rags to Riches to Rags which is a story of the garment industry in NYC from the 60's until now. It's actual a cool look at the industry and also at our economy in general.

I also watched Who Killed the Electric Car. Both movies, coupled with a bunch of friends of mine being laid of from my old employer,  really made me think about businesses and where I want my cash to go.

I also saw Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

Staci and I also watched Marley and Me. She had wanted me to watch it ever since she got pregnant. I didn't really want to see it because I thought it was a chick movie.

It was so good. I'm man enough to say I was crying, hard, at the end. We got a dog 3 years ago and now we're, obviously, expecting so their were some similarities there.

But it also reminded me of my awesome cat Lemmy (not from Motorhead) who died a couple years ago. It sounds weird but I was always excited to have a kid so he could meet it. I think he'd have been a great brother to a baby. But he taught Staci and I to love something that depends on us which prepared us a bit for having a baby. I suppose the dog also helped in that way but she came later.

I got a new camera this week, a Canon 7D. It was an upgrade from my xTI. I plan on taking a lot of picture of the baby. Plus I want to take pictures in the delivery room, from the waist up. I'll pretty much shoot all I can until it get's to the point where Staci tells me to put the camera down or it'll mean divorce.

If you're looking for a camera I really recommend it. I haven't played a ton, maybe when I do I'll do a post, but my initial thoughts are good. Great features, nice autofocus, I took some test shots at ISO 3200 and the the noise actually looks like film grain. Plus it takes HD video and since you're using a real lens that means you can rack focus during the video...pretty cool.

Took awhile... Here's an infographic of MF's first year

I finished this about a year ago just for my personal use but thought I'd share it. It's a visualization of MF's first year in n...