Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Few Grains of Sanity: Rice as Kitchen Distractor

Ranger, my chief assistant, shows endless enthusiasm as kitchen help.

The problem is that, at two, he's more of a kitchen danger than a helper. I dread seeing him dragging a chair toward the sink when I'm up to the elbows in very hot water.

So, I gave him an important job at the kitchen table. He's to rearrange about 2 cups of long grain rice in a variety of containers.

He was a bit distressed when some of the rice fell on the floor, so I stopped washing dishes and got out the broom to reassure him. Once he saw the broom- it kept him entertained until all the dishes were done.

I shook the rice on the towel back into a container and labeled it "Play Rice." It's sitting on top of fridge waiting for Ranger's next burst of kitchen apprenticeship.

***This is the unsolicited, independent opinion of the geek parents at Baby Toolkit. We're definitely not experts at this so take it all with a grain of rice, er.... salt. Baby Toolkit, (c) 2008 (photos and text).

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

For the Love of the Game: Board Game Resources

If you have read Baby Toolkit for a while, you know that we like to play board games. We particularly love games that are typically classed as "German games" or "Euro games,".

The only problem is that there are so many and they are often kind of pricey. We can have a talk later about whether a game is worth such a price (we think they are given the amount of entertainment you will receive in the time that you play versus the price you pay). With the advent of podcasting and blogging in all its forms, there are quite a few resources that you can use in selecting your next purchase.

Four particularly good resources that we recently found are "Board Games with Scott" and three podcasts, "Family Night," "The Game Kennel" and "King's Court," from the Pulp Gamer site.

"Board Games with Scott" is a regularly updated video podcast in which the host, Scott Nicholson, usually focuses on highlighting one game, its components, the basic rules, general gameplay and provides a mini-review about who the game might appeal to.

To get an idea of the types of games that all these resources are talking about, Scott created a handy Board Games 101 episode that gives an overview (with MANY examples) of what these types of games are all about.

Pulp Gamer
produces a number of excellent quality game-related audio podcasts; each focusing on a different audience. Generally they discuss the components of the game, the general quality, the cost, general game play, and give a starred score (using a scale that they repeat in each episode), and a justification for the score. "Family Night" focuses on family oriented titles and activities that they think will help entertain the family as a whole. "The Game Kennel" is a general game review podcast as is "The King's Court."

For all of these resources, it is worth checking out the back catalog of episodes if your reader doesn't pick them up.

If you have any board game resources that you enjoy, let us know in the comments. If you have any games that you have recently tried and enjoyed, let us know that as well.

Happy gaming.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Naptime: Laying Low in Fort Ranger

Ranger (2 yr 4mo) does not like naptime. I used to be able to cheer him by letting him help me lower his shade and singing a song, but such things hold no sway.

However the kid is simply CRAZY about forts. So the question "Will you lay down in your fort" can evoke a enthusiastically positive response.

Meet Fort Ranger:

where a tired young rambler can settle in with his dogies (or stuffed doggies in our case) and get a little shut eye.

Pardon the photo composition and quality, I didn't want to wake the little fellow while snapping this picture.

This hack should only be used with older toddlers who will extricate themselves from blankets in case of a collapse. It shouldn't be used with kids who will pull the blankets down and tangle themselves in Gordian knots. An adult can also slip in and remove the blanket(s) once the child is sleeping.

Coincidentally, a reminder of the sweet baby naptimes past, is on Thingamababy today. AJ features a sleepsack I sewed for his highly anticipated baby boy (who you can name!).

***This is the independent, low-budget, fully-unsubstantiated opinion of the geek parents at Baby Toolkit. We're definitely not experts at this. Baby Toolkit, c 2008.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

"Meanest Mom on the Planet" a.k.a. One Great Mother!

Yahoo News served up a tantalizing headline today: 'Mean Mom' sell's son's car after misdeed.

In short, self-proclaimed "meanest mom on the planet" Jane Hambleton SOLD her 19-year-old son's car after finding booze hidden under the front seat. Her classified ad read:
OLDS 1999 Intrigue: Totally uncool parents who obviously don't love teenage son, selling his car. Only driven for 3 weeks before snoopy mom who needs to get a life found booze under front seat. $3,700/offer. Call meanest mom on the planet.
I love her resolve and creative publicity of the punishment. If you read the hometown paper's version of the story, you can see that she loves her son but expects him to do the right thing.

Jim, his dad, and his brother were almost killed when hit by a drunk driver celebrating a promotion with a high-speed turn on the Georgia interstates. A drunk driver totalled my brother's car (with 5 people inside), a USPS mailbox, and a building one sunny afternoon. And worst of all, one night my mom, my brother, and our neighbors rushed to help someone after a terrible accident near our home and found the driver, a mother of school-aged children, dead, ejected, and pinned under her car.

When it comes to driving and alcohol, taking away the keys temporarily probably isn't lesson enough. I'm really proud of Jane Hambleton for going public with this important lesson for parents and young drivers.

Sink Playtime: Slotted Spoons Equal Less Mess

Ranger loves water. Maybe I swam too much during his pregnancy, but he's always pulling a chair over to "help" whenever I'm washing dishes. The wash water is too hot, so he's not allowed to help.

Yesterday he pulled a chair over when I was just finishing up, so I let him run a sink of cool water to "SPLASH!"

In past attempts at sink play, I have given him a cup and lived to regret it. When his enthusiasm for pouring outmatched his aim he created minor floods encompassing the floor, wooden chair, cabinet fronts, and counters.

To lessen his munitions without diminishing his enjoyment, I substituted intentionally leaky vessels for his normal cup and spoon. He showed no signs of disappointment at receiving a pot scrubber, a slotted spoon, an egg separator, a potato masher, and half a tea ball.

He played for over half an hour and much less than the normal thirty gallons escaped the sink. Good times were had by all. Next time we'll probably add a colander to the mix.

***This is the independent opinion of the geek parents at Baby Toolkit and should be taken with a grain of salt. Baby Toolkit, (c) 2008

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Hack Your Cell: Identify Regular Wrong Number Callers

Jim and I have not always had great luck with phone numbers. Our last home number was one digit off of a salon called Hard Bodies. When people called and asked if we were Hard Bodies, we collapsed into laughter until they hung up. Somehow it never ceased to be funny.

Now our home phone number echoes that of a health insurance provider. If insurance customers dial 1 (800) our number they can order prescriptions. If they dial our local area code- which also starts with an 8- they get the Joneses. We periodically get calls from people trying to renew their mail order prescriptions. If we're home, we give them the real number, but if we're not- people sometimes leave all their information on our answering machine. Once when we were on vacation, one person left a series of increasingly frantic messages as he was running out of a critical medication. We called the person back to explain, but seemed to freak him out without convincing him to call the insurer again. Finally, we called the insurance company and provided all the information left on our answering machine. It took a while to get through the phone tree without an account number and then explain everything, but the insurance company was eventually convinced to call the person and assist.

Now, our cell phones are getting a lot of wrong number dialers. Somehow, the people with numbers near ours have friends who frequently & consistently dial the wrong number. I hate struggling to answer the phone when it's a wrong number.

So we've created a contact named Wrong Number. Any wrong number dialers are added to the contact which can be set to silent. It saves us cell phone minutes and the annoyance of searching for the phone.

Happy 2008!

(c) Baby Toolkit, 2008