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Product Review – The Octonaunts

T7014-octonauts-gup-a-mission-vehicle-d-1LTD has been watching a bit of the undersea adventure show The Octonaunts lately. I don’t mind the show as it has its beginnings in England so the characters all sound more professional and act with more gravity then some of the other shows on Disney Junior (ie. that creepy princess show. The show focus on a team of ocean adventurers who discover new worlds, creatures and promote ocean conservation. The Fisher Price toy line has the characters from the show and one of them comes with something called a Vampire Squid which is something that I don’t remember on any Jacque Cousteau special. The show also has a Life Aquatic vibe which gives the toys a pretty cool color spectrum. So far the little guy loves the Octo-Compass as he is getting into maps and states. I like the toys that logically can also go in the tub as LTD still puts up a fight in that department and every bit helps.T7016-octonauts-octopod-playset-d-1

Product Review – CitiBlocs

LTD has gotten a lot better at using his fine motor skills and has started to build things. Don’t get me wrong he is still way better at destroying things, but he is slowly evolving into someone who creates as well. Lately, he has really started enjoying CitiBlocs. And let me tell you these blocks are not your father’s Oldsmobile (if Oldsmobile made blocks). Citiblocs are made from fine New Zealand wood (from certified renewable forests) with each block being the same thin shape and tall size. In fact the blocks don’t look like they would be a friend to gravity or toddler movement, but these bad boys perform as if by magic. In the beginning you just build a simple tower, but when you realize that they can stand straight up you start getting daring and creative. LTD made train tracks and the letter I a whole bunch of times, but he couldn’t wait to knock down my sweet creations and he didn’t care how long it took me to build them; he smashed them all with equal force. I am touched that the little guy is using his imagination and can’t wait to build something tall that he doesn’t knock down the second I’m done building it. Click on the picture for some awesome action shots.

Toy Safety

Interesting article on toy safety. Talks about the fact that we didn’t have all these rules when we were kids, but we still lived. Click here.

Product Review – Meowsic

As long time Beyond the Car Seat readers know, I am prone to spending time in stores as a way to keep LTD busy and out of trouble. In the past I was filled with the weakness of the new parent and rarely left a Target or Walmart without a little something for the little guy. However, for a while now I have not purchased anything for LTD as our house is now wall to wall toys and I have found that if I let the little guy play with something in the store he eventually hands it back with a “no.” As a side note, my mother used to practice a similar method on me in the K-Mart. Well, there is an exception to every rule and a few weeks ago, I saw something in Target that was truly wicked awesome and felt that it would get enough use to be worth buying. I present B. Toys’ Meowsic piano.

On first blush a piano that looks like a cat might not seem cool, especially for a dog family, but on closer inspection one finds that the cat has piano keys for teeth and grins like something out of Alice in Wonderland. LTD took to the ivories like a natural and began playing masterpieces rivaling some of the greats (if by great we are talking about ‘fill in your own joke here.’ He also loves the microphone, which I didn’t even notice it had until he started saying ‘hello’ into it. The piano went to bed with him during the first week we had it and has been in steady rotation for a while now. For my money though, the easy to use volume button, the on/off button and the Stop button are what truly make this piano one cool cat.

Na Na Na Na Na Na…Batman

When LTD was about a year old I got him his first superhero action figure. Okay, well since he was only one I got him his first superhero plush doll. Of course the plush was of none other than the caped crusader Batman. However, before I got a chance to have a man to man with the little guy, The Mommy got a hold of Batman and sang the theme from the cheesy sixties TV show and Adam West vehicle. You know the one, nanananananananananananana Batman. I was too late whenever LTD saw the plush Batman he would say, nananana. Okay, so now my son was basically mocking the world’s greatest superhero and I could only wait and bide my time.

Snap ahead to the present and LTD is a little over two years old and not only can say Batman clearly, but he can also say Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash and Green Lantern. So what if the other day he made Superman and Batman kiss, the fact that he can say all their names clearly is the only victory I need.

Get Me Monkey

I would like to break from the world of LTD for a moment and write about an experience of a friend of ours. More than a few months ago, while visiting her and her son (who is a couple of months older than LTD), we observed something interesting. Her son was either hungry or tired and had a minor temper flare up. She quickly said, do you want monkey? Her little guy nodded in the affirmative, yes please and she handed him a super soft stuffed monkey. At the time of our visit, LTD didn’t really move much and so his temper was pretty much in check, but our friend suggested we get our version of monkey for the future. She felt monkey acted as a sort of security blanket, something that could instantly calm him down. We discussed the pitfalls of relying on such a device and as new parents we both settled on the side of there not being much harm in it at such a young age.

Armed with this new theory of providing LTD a “safe” toy, we choose a super soft Winnie the Pooh and placed said plushy in his crib. We figured it would make a good version of our friend’s monkey and if it ever got lost it would be easy enough to replace, avoiding what I imagine would be the meltdown of the century. However, a strange thing happened while the little guy likes his Pooh he doesn’t love it and it never became his security blanket. Yet, while Pooh lives in the crib to this day, as a lone sentry guarding against threats both foreign and domestic, LTD doesn’t rely on it. Now that he is older the only thing that ends a tantrum is distraction, time or sleep.

Toy Stories

I must confess that I have a soft spot for toys. On the scale of whether or not we ‘need’ a new toy I lean towards yup. This practice has resulted in LTD not only a few too many toys but toys that are a little above his pay grade. Don’t worry I’m not talking about a bb gun or lawn darts, more likely a toy car for a two year old when he was 18months. The result of these advanced items was that the little guy never really played with them ‘correctly’ or the ‘right’ way. Don’t get me wrong I believe whole heartily that the only reason toys exist is to let kids use their imaginations. If LTD wants to use a car as a hammer, I may stop him from doing it on the coffee table, but I won’t yank it out of his hand and tell him to ‘do it right.”

However, one of the interesting outcomes of LTD’s rapid, everyday I change, development spurts is that he has started playing with some toys in the manner they were intended. Keeping in mind there are no judgments only observations it is neat to see him drive a toy car across the floor or stack blocks. Don’t get me wrong, he still does plenty of smashing and hammering, but he is also starting to spend longer with each toy trying to figure out what it all means. I figure it is now only a matter of time until he makes GI Joe marry Barbie.

Product Review – Fropper

Now that LTD is almost a year and half old (crazy, I know) he has taken to embracing his boyhood. He climbs on everything he can get his hands on and with that in mind the Fropper from Okiedog gives him something to climb on that doesn’t end with me gluing something back together. The Fropper is a wicked lightweight ride-on that bounces and thus aptly named. The little red ride-on is stylish without sacrificing function. Perhaps the neatest feature of The Fropper is it’s Transformers-like ability to fold up with ease and be picked up using the built in handle. And because it folds up completely with no separate parts, it makes a great thing to take on trips. LTD either pushes it or cruises around in it and while he doesn’t yet really bounce on it I remain hopefully he will eventually help The Fropper live up to its namesake.

Pop!

Summer fun doesn’t get more simple than when you start blowing bubbles. I was in Target the other day and they had a whole summer fun aisle with pails, chairs and towels. I figured LTD was not quite ready for a hardcore day at the beach, but at the end of the aisle I spied a bunch of bubbles and bubble making accessories. Even though the bubbles were unbelievably cheap I was on the fence about getting any since the little guy can’t really use them yet. I was about to decline with regret from buying any bubbles when I saw the Amazing Bubbles bubble gun. For four bucks, the gun uses one AA battery and a bubble bottle for a cartridge; I couldn’t pass this bad boy up. We got home, went outside and fired off a few bubble rounds. The little pistol shot out tiny bubbles at an alarming rate. LTD was excited for a spell, but then like most things he looks at for a few moments his attention wanders. I however, can’t get enough of the bubble gun. This puppy shoots out so many bubbles that I feel like we are all in some bad spring break Cancun nightclub. In conclusion, bubbles and the bubble gun are a whole lot of fun and worth every penny of their four-dollar price tag.

Baby Sit N Spin

When I was a young lad I never had a Sit N Spin of my own, but was happy to use it when visiting friends. I remember thinking it looked awesome, but wasn’t actually as exciting as I wanted it to be. However, LTD has taken any decision The Mommy and me would have to make in the future about whether or not we would get him a Sit N Spin. On his own he has designed and built his own Sit N Spin using only his butt. For the last few weeks the little guy will sit on the hardwood floors and spin himself around in a few circles using his feet as a rudimentary propulsion system. Occasionally, he will reverse position and spin from a squatting stance using his arms to move himself in a circle. The whole thing is pretty funny to watch and also makes me happy that there is one small thing I don’t have to spend money on. As long as LTD enjoys being a human Sit N Spin, I can save myself a trip to the store.