Friday, November 20, 2009

STOP sending Noah Biorkman cards: Spread the word!

Recently the Internet mobilized to make the last days of Noah Biorkman's life better by sending him Christmas cards.

People did (over 80k pieces of mail on one day alone), and they were greatly appreciated.

Noah is now in his last days, and his family has requested that people stop sending cards. reports that family requested no more cards or gifts:

Wow! The outpouring of love and concern for Noah is just
amazing! Scott and I never in a million years thought that so many
people would want to send Christmas cards to Noah. However, please
note: We did already celebrate Christmas LAST Sunday -- November


Noah is very ill. He is not getting out of bed and it's time for
Scott, our families, and I to concentrate on our son. His time is
very short and he needs us.

Please publicize this in your communities (real and virtual). A quick tweet or a facebook update would do a lot to keep a postal tidal wave from complicating this family's final days together.

Let's have second Internet miracle and put this Christmas card genie back in the bottle.

If you want to do more for Noah and other families facing the same horror, donate a dollar or more in his name to the Children's Hospital of Michigan Foundation.

The full post:
Noah Biorkman's Care Pages site:

Help the planet (and your bottom line) with online auctions:

Like an angler with a bountiful fishing hole, bargain hunters like to keep their best sources secret. While I'm sure to draw the ire of other cheapskates, it seems wrong not to tell people about this cornucopia of savings.

All proceeds benefit a charitable non-profit. Buying resale items keeps usable goods out of landfills (longer) and prevents redundant manufacturing. It can also save consumers a fortune.

We married young, so in the first years of our marriage, Jim and I were lucky to buy the essentials. By the time he got the first professional job in our family, even a single dollar had meaning. Around that time I discovered antique malls and consignment sales. After a while I started looking into thrift shops. Now, over a decade later, I answer most "Where did you get that?" inquiries with some form of resale or reuse answer (thrift shop, yard sale, consignment, gift, loan from a friend).

When we're clearing out the house, I like to give usable to goods to friends and some of my favorite charity shops. It was at one of these drop-offs, when I stumbled upon

In its early days, I visited and found mostly tchotchkes requiring dusting, dolls that give me nightmares, and handbags. Beyond the amusement of the occasional suggestive monkey teapot, I didn't think it had much promise. But I didn't think the Web would catch on either (didn't Gopher already offer everything minus the images and sound? Is that really such a big deal? In my defense the early web featured the blink tag WAY TOO much).

In the time since my initial introduction has grown into a real beauty.

The savings are mind-blowing. This cool metal dollhouse's current bid is $10.99, while an identical dollhouse (possibly with fewer furniture pieces) sold online for $130 at an antique shop. The antique store has better lighting and photographs, but are they really worth the additional $119.01?

Not only can you find many of the original Fisher Price Little People buildings- from the barn to the A-frame house (that I wanted to live in) to the great merry-go-round to the school, you can also buy NEW stuff and current electronics.

Just cruising through I've found new in package games for systems ranging from Leapster to DS to Xbox 360 to PS3 to didj to PSP.

Want a DS or a Leapster?

Are you shopping for someone who likes Lego, American Girl, Hannah Montana, Star Wars, or Sesame Street?

And who doesn't love this vintage Fisher Price tabletop kitchen stove (presently with a $6 bid)?

Shipping seems to be reasonable. If you are willing to drive to the selling Goodwill, you can often arrange for pickup.

I can trust you to keep this under your hat, right? We wouldn't want the place overrun with hipsters looking for Elvis memorabilia.

***Baby Toolkit is a couple of geek parents with more opinions than should be shared. While we shop at Goodwill Industries and drop off lots of unwanted stuff there (including review samples), we are not affiliated with Goodwill Industries nor have we received any compensation for this review (beyond the joy of sharing something awesome with our readers).

Monday, November 09, 2009

Fence Me In: Daybeds & Toddler Security

When we moved Ranger out of his crib, we wanted something that would offer him a similar sense of security with greater independence.

We talked about something like the Ikea Kura which would offer a sense of enclosure. When we saw the Kura in person, the slat supports didn't seem sturdy enough for our bed jumper.

While I was considering bunk beds, Amy at Mom Advice posted photos of the smartest bed transition hack. For her toddler daughter, she turned the daybed opening to face the wall.

A few weeks later I came across a daybed with a trundle at a local consignment shop. With its exposed springs and snapping metal joints, the trundle frame looked problematic with preschoolers. We stowed the trundle frame for future consideration (a solid decision I think, especially in light of the recent Maclaren stroller recall) and replaced the crib with the daybed.

With a step stool at the foot of the bed, Ranger could easily get in and out on his own. It didn't take long for him to start climbing between the bars rather than over them.

Ranger still prefers the bed in this configuration. He likes his bed and sleeps well at naptime and through the night. When he wants the bed changed, we'll move it, but until then, we'll all rest easy at night.

***Baby Toolkit is written by geek parents who love sleep. We are in no way affiliated with daybed manufacturers, and we have limited home design skills. Adrienne once enjoyed a flight with Amy Clark of Mom Advice (only to literally run away at the end when flight delays made the Cincinnati connection tenuous).

Photos: (c) Baby Toolkit, 2009, some rights reserved.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Halloween 2009: Making Mario

My favorite Halloween costumes have function beyond the holiday. Before his first Halloween, Ranger's grandparents gave him a cowboy outfit, so we just added a Western hat to complete the costume.

I found an old chef's coat at a thrift shop, so Jim and I talked about a mad scientist costume (in the spirit of Dr. Horrible), but that amused us more than it would Ranger.

Cruising's great Halloween coverage, I found a great costume that would delight Ranger and satisfy my hopes of reuse. (Thanks, Dot!)

Ranger follows the adventures of Mario in Kart , Tennis, and Strikers via Nintendo. When he saw the Flickr photo a Mario costume became a regular topic of conversation. I launched the hunt for a long-sleeved red shirt, denim overalls, white gloves, and a hat (or sewing pattern).

By Sunday, I had everything but the hat. Jim helped me search through pattern books for a good match and we settled on Simplicity 2808 (note for sewists*: this pattern is for adult sized hats as we're big-headed folk). Ranger's preschool Halloween parade was Thursday, so I spent Tuesday and Wednesday nights as an amateur milliner. The hat needed to look cartoonish, so all errors in tailoring could be deemed value-added features.

Jim fashioned Ranger's fine mustache from brown felt. I attached it to a loose-fitting loop of thin, soft elastic which fit over the ears and behind the nape.

Thursday's parade went well. Even the people who didn't know about Mario (like the nursing home residents who Ranger's class visited) loved his mustache.

On Friday afternoon, I noticed a long sleeved green onesie in the Raptor's closet hanging near her overalls. When I told Ranger about this, we both came to the same conclusion. On Saturday, Jim, Mario, and the Ranger hit the fabric store for more elastic while I sewed against the clock.

If you want to show off a homemade costume to people who will appreciate it, go to the fabric store on Halloween. Ranger got full rock star treatment from both staff and shoppers and EVERYONE knew about Mario. I think he preferred it even to trick or treating.

They returned home and one mustache later, the Mario brothers were cavorting on the front lawn.

Mario pulled out Ranger's golf set and entertained the neighborhood with some impromptu Mario Golf (why isn't this available for the Wii) while Luigi mostly laughed and pointed.

Luigi's hat is also an adult size large. I sewed a tuck in the back of the hatband to size it down. The large size makes her look more like Baby Luigi than Luigi and it leaves us the opportunity to reuse the hat set as the kids get older. Plus, I can wear it too.

Happy Halloween!

*Yes, this is an emerging word, but neither seamstress nor tailor really seemed appropriate and sewer (to me) always starts with a su sound and bears an entirely different meaning, so sewist it shall be. Feel free to suggest better terms.

***Baby Toolkit has received a Nintendo DS and a review copy of Mario Tennis from Nintendo. We have no fiscal interest in nor undisclosed relationship with Nintendo nor its parent companies. Baby Toolkit is written by geek parents who can be seen driving around town in felt mustaches.

photos: (c) Baby Toolkit, 2009. All rights reserved.