Monday, December 7, 2009

FIsher-Price Laugh and Learn Line

I love Fisher-Price. I think lots of us grew up with some line of their toys. Recently, for Max's birthday, Nick found some classic Little People toys from the 60's and 70's for Max. They reminded me of being little and playing with those (or similar ones) when I was much...MUCH younger. So, when I got pregnant, Fisher-Price was some of the first toys I looked at. Of course, there a BILLIONS of them out there so today I'm going to just focus on a couple of toys in the Laugh and Learn line we got.

The first one is the Learning Puppy. We got this when Max was about 4 months old and it has travelled with us ever since. It is really cute. Take a look:

Right away Max was drawn to the songs (which he didn't know at all then) and the colors. The heart glows red, which was also a great draw when he was really little. You can squeeze each hand, each foot, its tummy, its left ear or press the heart to hear an assortment of reactions. The right foot has three settings - off, "learning time", and "sing and play games". The learning time involves calling out colors (green hand, blue ear) or learning the alphabet or counting or just chatter. The singing and playing games has an assortment of familiar kids songs - This Little Piggy, Head and Shoulder Knees and Toes, or the Itsy Bitsy Spider. When Max was little..he just liked the voice of the dog and was fascinated by the light. Now that he is older, he has learned how to push the buttons himself and interact with it a little more. He also recognizes some of the songs and it really entranced by the dog singing them. My only complaint about this toy is that, in order to make it baby friendly, they made the buttons VERY sensitive which means Max can gently brush by a button and it will completely change what the dog is doing. I almost feel like there should be a way to ensure the dog runs through the whole song before switching to something else. But, overall, I think this is a great toy and we have gotten a lot of use out of it and at a year old, Max still enjoys it. There aren't many toys that have gotten 8 months of use out of this kid.

>Nick< This bear is great and I love the musical aspect. Touching each of the activation areas toggles between a short song and a sound byte such as "I love you" and "Foot" depending where touched.
As Tali mentions, they can be over sensitive and can stir a resting little Max if I happen to trip over it and it starts merrily singing along while I try to quickly deactivate to prevent the little man waking up.

Alternately, we also have the Fun with Friends Musical Table (and for the record-  that isn't Max in the photo!):

We got this set when Max was about 8 months old. The legs come off so a baby just starting to crawl can play with it on the floor or it has legs so it can grow as a baby is learning to stand and walk. As you can see, there are lots of bright fin colors and toys. There are actually several different settings - speaking, music, and sound effects and all can be used in English or Spanish (although I would guess in Canada it is English or French). The four main components are the piano, the computer, the phone, and the storybook. Everything lights up and makes music of some sort. There are lots of letters and numbers, learning of the alphabet and different words and some really fun sound effects - computer keyboard, dialing, and even the phone ringing. Max has ALWAYS loved the computer and loves to open and close it (which unfortunately for us has translated into him feeling compelled to come over and close our laptops whenever we are on them). He also loved to use it as a walker when he was less steady on his feet. He used to push it all over the room. It doesn't have feels so doesn't quite move as quickly as an actual walker so it was just the right pace when he was starting to stand and make his way around the room.

My only complaint - the handset that comes with the phone is not attached to the actual table. Max immediately took that out and threw it away and now it lives somewhere at the bottom of our toy bin and has never resided on the actual table. I think a better design would have had some kind of attachment so even when knocked off it would still be close by. Other than that, it has been a lot of fun and I think it is a great toy. Leapfrog has a similar table (the Leapfrog Learn & Groove Musical Table) and the reason we went with this one is that we love Fisher-Price and we loved the bits and pieces on this table more than on the Leapfrog one.I have had friends who have had the Leapfrog one, however, and it was also great (I cannot tell a lie...I loved the phone and the computer elements). But both tables are around the same price..within 5-10$ of each other.

So far I have really enjoyed the Laugh & Learn products. To check out what else is available in this line, check out the Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn website here.

- Tali

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Haba Fantasy Blocks

Maximoo has gotten some GREAT birthday gifts from his family and friends so I thought I would take the opportunity to mention a few of the really unique/surprise hits and today that is the Haba Fantasy Block set. This colorful wooden block set from Germany had Max entranced for a good 10 minutes straight before I had to pull him off them to open his other gifts. This non-toxic set filled with different crazy shapes and patterns (including one that is rather breast-like and Max inevitably keeps grabbing that one and sticking it in his mouth. Clearly a nurser)an make even the most impatient little guys stop and take a look. Here is the set:

Since opening the box, Max has sat quietly with them and inspected all the different blocks. One of the blocks has a hole large enough for the other cylindrical to fit in and my little genius (I may be biased) figured out how to get them together immediately. We have piled blocks and knocked them down, checked out the different patterns and textures, and just generally had a good time chewing on these. All in all, a great gift that captured Max's attention and enthusiasm for great toys! At 12m, Max is just at the right age to start appreciating these kinds of toys but I can see the appeal for these going well past the 1 year mark. I think we will be having fun with these for months..if not come (they make a great sound when knocking the towers over and onto the hardwood floors).

Haba, the company who makes the toys, has a great reputation (the reviews for this toy alone were pretty good on most sites I checked out) and several award winning toys. They are available all over the world and for easy access you can buy Haba toys on Amazon. If anyone else reading this has played with any of their other sets, I would love to hear about it!

For more information about Haba and their other toys, check out their website here!

- Tali

Thursday, December 3, 2009


There are many things that I have thought I would like to write about on this blog. So many toys that worked out great and so many that were a bust. I don't know where to start. But with the holiday season coming up and, more importantly, our son's first birthday tomorrow (how has it been a year already) - I thought this would be the most relevant.

The Amazon Baby Registry (or Wish List).

It is absolutely heaven sent - for multiple reasons. When we first found out we were pregnant, we knew that there was a load of things we needed. Basically...we needed everything. On top of that, we literally had family all over the world. Nick's parents are in the UK, my family in Canada, friends and a baby shower here in the US. Initially, I set up a Toys R Us wishlist thinking - how easy to go to the store or online and always have your list with you. Unfortunately, Toys R Us was not only more expensive than amazon, but they also had less options, were more often sold out of the good options they had, and - and this was the real issue - you couldn't use it outside of the US. In order to use the baby registry you had to have a US address and credit card.

Hmmmm. Now that won't work for our international family members.

So we started a baby registry and it was AWESOME. Easy, efficient, stroed the address of people who sent gifts in the "Thank You" section which made life so much easier for thank you notes. Additionally, the Amazon selection is huge as they pull in options from all over the place and often include "marketplace sellers" who aren't amazon so you can do some comparitice price shopping.

Now that Max's first birthday has rolled around, I decided to keep the Baby Registry going and make that his wishlist for this birthday. Once he is a little older - he can even do his own little wishlist for his birthday. The prices are also phenominal at Amazon and often you can find a way to avoid paying shipping charges. No deals like that with the Toys R Us list we had originally.

So - in the end, the Amazon Baby Registry (or wishlist) is such a convenient and inexpensive way to make sure no one goes out and buys you something you just don't want! I LOVE it!

Now...I am off to enjoy the last few hours of being a mom of a less than 1 year old.....omg I'm the parent of a toddler!!

- Tali

Monday, November 30, 2009

Costco Cakes - yum!

The path towards parenthood has led us in many interesting directions. Once we decided that my husband will stay at home with Max, it led us down a bath of budgeting - a task I'm admittedly hopeless at as I can't resist spoiling the little guy. But, we can recognize a deal from a million miles away and we are always looking for a good one.

Many months ago - at my baby shower - I was introduced to the glory of the Costco sheet cake. It is absolutely fabulous and my husband swears that it is irresistible when frozen (details of how we made that discovery to follow)...let me start to when we first sunk our teeth into this yummy treat.

Our baby shower was about a month before I head the little guy - so early November and my husband discovered the option of a cake from Costco. For only $16.99 that beast is HUGE. I had gestational diabetes so had to be immensely careful with what I ate but allowed myself a tiny sliver of that cakey treat. Heaven, that is all I can say. We ended up taking 3/4 of it home post shower and snacking on it forkful by forkful until we had to throw it away or turn into complete "bloaters" (as Nick says). Since then we only allow ourselves the cake on VERY special occasions. A couple of weeks ago a Wednesday became a very special occasion and Nick surprised me with a cake in the fridge. We ate far too much and when we had to get rid of it, Nick decided to freeze some just so he would be able to e3njoy a few more bites. Now he is a total convert and prefers it frozen.

Here is an example of how they look:

So..all this to say the Costco cakes are a STEAL. You can buy some pre-made on the spot or fill in the form to personalize your cake. They ask for about 24 hours notice. You then choose your type of cake - vanilla or chocolate - and then your icing - vanilla buttercream, chocolate cream, or cream cheese - and finally your filling vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry mouse. Then for a whopping almost $17.00 you get a pretty masssive cake that can feed something like 28 people.  They have several different themes for birthdays alone (we chose the clown theme for Max's big 1st birthday party this weekend) and then some other themes you can choose from (an obvious example - baby showers!).

If you aren't looking for any kind of well known theme (no Sesame Street, Dora the Explorer,  Yo Gabba Gabba) or are willing to do a little DIY decorations on the cake - I say this is a GREAT party option for anyone - especially those partying on a budget!

- Tali

Sunday, November 29, 2009


My husband and I are the proud parents of an adorable, enegery filled bundle of trouble who is about to turn 1. He loves to explore, push buttons, listen to musc, read books, and eat dirt. Who doesn't really? In the year we have had little Maximoo (affectionately known as, of course) we have had every toy, gadget, fad - everyting we could reasonably afford - and some we couldn't. But we never felt like we had a real resource for information. So we have decided to start one.

Some background on us? We are two total video game nerds who hope that our son will one day invent the next Guitar Hero so we can retire in luxury. We are from opposite sides of the ocean but despite the geographical differences, appreciate a lot of the same things. We love sci-fi, horror movies, playing too many hours of video games (Call of Duty and Ratchet & Clank being the favorites at the moment), and video chatting with our internationally located families. I am a bookaholic and would note my two favorite series at the moment to be Game of Thrones and the Sookie Stackhouse books.

Maximoo, on the other hand - has his own set of favorites - Yo Gabba Gabba and Fresh Beat Band can hold his attention like nothing else (a fabulous distraction when changing a diaper - otherwise we end up with a handful of poo) , he loves his little ball pit which lives in the living room, his new Little People firetruck that he hasn't quite learned how to ride on, and any book - for this crazy energy ball, he can spend a very long time sitting and looking at pictures. Oh - he also likes to use his high chair as a walker. Who knew it was multi-functional?

We hope that this blog will be a resource for new and old parents alike as well as a place where other parents can share their opinions (or book or video game recommendations - we will take it all!) Hope you enjoy!

- Tali (aka BabyMomma)