Archives for the month of: January, 2012

Summer Infant Best View Color Video Monitor (Silver)

I’m a little old-fashioned.  Not old-fashioned 90’s style, but old-fashioned 70’s style.  There’s a lot of technology that I believe should be left out of parenting.  A video monitor WAS one of them.  I don’t know why, but I guess BC (before child), I thought that I should be able to hear a baby crying through 3 walls and a door no problem.  Silly me.  I learned quickly that the Summer Best View video monitor in the baby’s room was almost as incredible an addition to the family as the baby.

We mounted the video camera about 15″ above the top of baby’s crib.  From that vantage point, I can pan and zoom to any part of the crib without a problem.  In the daytime, the screen is color.  At night, the infrared kicks in automatically (I assume it’s infrared, but someone please correct me if I’m wrong here.) and I’ve got night vision.  The camera has plenty of range of motion as well, which increases the number of mounting options.

I use this camera every day.  It’s another one of the items in my house that gets a lot of use and wear.  So far, the Summer Infant Best View Camera has been holding up very well.  Once I put Gavin to nap, I can see what he’s doing and hear what noises he is making before he falls asleep.  I love it.  Now, I don’t have to run to his room every time I hear a noise.  I can just look at the monitor and avoid waking up the baby.  The silent mode is excellent for when you are watching TV or something and only need a visual sign if the baby makes noise.  The LED’s light up on the monitor according to the sound level in the baby’s room.

We don’t have a need for the A/V output portion of the Summer Infant Best View Monitor, but someone mentioned on another website that they hooked it up to their TV and recorded some of the video from the monitor.  (That’s a great idea, especially if your baby starts to do things alone in his crib before showing it off to the family!)

I used to think that having a video monitor was a lazy man’s way of taking care of his baby.  But, I was very wrong.  It is great for checking on the baby without disturbing him.  I can do it while typing out this blog!  I can do it while hanging out in the garage!  I can do it while watching a movie in the living room!  It’s baby management at my fingertips.  It’s so handy, I may even continue to use the camera well into Gavin’s teenage years…

NOTE:  If you are going to mount the camera above the baby’s crib, you need to find a place to hide or shield the camera’s power cord from the baby’s reach.


Overall Rating:  7 Worms   

Ease of Use:  10 Worms  

Performance:  8 Worms 

Features:  8 Worms 

Durability:  7 Worms 

Manliness:  10 Worms (Come on, it’s a gadget!)

Retail Price:  $199



Provides easy monitoring of baby room, both video and audio.  Silent audio mode.  Remote controlled pan, scan, and zoom.  Day and night viewing.  Can add up to 3 extra cameras.  A/V outputs to a TV.


Could use more volume control.  Vertical axis movement makes a bit of noise.  Video could be a little more crisp in night mode.  When you are moving the camera, the audio cuts in and out.  Battery life?  (I don’t know, but I’ve heard elsewhere that battery life could be poor.  I’ve been using this product for 9 months now and yes, there’s been a degradation in the battery life, but not much.  If the battery dies within a year or so, I will adjust my rating accordingly.  But, so far, it’s been fine.)

Things I would modify:

Higher resolution night vision.  I guess it would be nice to have a thermometer built into the unit to remotely monitor baby room temperature.

Where to find:

Cleaned Up and Ready to...Sleep

This picture was taken a little while after the incident with the lederhosen and the pitchfork.  What?  I’m trying to make this picture interesting…Ok, he’s napping soon after completing his descent from the warmth of mom’s womb.

WordPress is a great platform for me to blog from.  On top of being laid out nicely, there’s a page that provides statistics on how many views I get, how many people clicked my pictures, where people are visiting my site from.  This last statistic is interesting for me.  Facebook seems to be where viewers notice my MVG blurbs and click through.  That’s great!  And thank you from the bottom of my heart.  There are also Google (I can’t believe that I’m getting a spelling error for ‘google’.  The google came way before the Google!  Get it right WordPress spellcheck!  Sorry, I digress.)  search terms that people use to find my webpage.  It even lets me know what people are searching for when they click to my website.  For instance, if I do a Google search for funniest dad blog in the universe, the results don’t even show  But, let’s imagine that my blog shows up on the first page and I click through to get to  That is a statistic that I can see.

Well, last night I was looking at the stats for and I saw that someone came through Google search engine.  The search terms were ‘child pornography’.  Yep.  If that creeps you out, then you’re probably not a pedophile.  But if it doesn’t creep you out, then maybe you should seek out some counseling.  Ok, you should seriously seek out counseling.  (In case you were wondering, on one of my other posts, I typed out those two words.  Google spiders find everything, huh?)

Anyhow, it got me thinking about what Steph told me when I started to blog about our life.  (She’s a savvy blog reader and has about 100 of them in her Google reader thing…so I defer to her opinion on all things blog-related.)  She said that I would be attracting some disturbed as well as normal people, especially as more readers get interested.  I just didn’t realize how soon the crazies would start knocking on my blog.

This is one of those things that you know happens on the internet, but you don’t really think about it until it affects you.  And it slapped me in the face last night.  After doing a double take at the WordPress statistics screen, I looked a third time.  Yep, there it was under Google search terms, correctly spelled.  I got the weird butterflies in the stomach feeling.  And then I wondered about my blog and whether or not I should keep doing this.

But, then I started thinking even without the involvement of rum.  I’m not going to stop writing this blog because some wacko wants to see naked pics of my kid.  I’m going to keep writing this blog so that my friends and family can share in watching my son grow into a lovely human being.  I’m going to keep writing this blog so I can share my family’s struggles and victories with child rearing.  I’m going to keep writing this blog so other parents can see Gavin doing the same zany stuff their kids do.  I’m going to keep writing this blog so that people can see that raising kids is a wonderful experience.

So, if you have a desire to look at fatherhood from a stay-at-home dad (SAHD), you are always welcome here.  If you have a desire for lewd behavior with children, you’d better knuckle up.  Someone may want to sit you down and have a “come to Tebow” talk.

You Want Somma Dis!?!

Bright From the Start By Jill Stamm

Every new parent wants to get their kids on the right track to learning.  Finding a way to give your children the best opportunity to feed their brains has fueled an enormous industry in baby learning products.  Are they really necessary?  Is one better than another?  The vast number of products available can cause you to lose your mind trying to figure out which educational toy is best.  Bright From the Start by Jill Stamm is a great starter book for people looking to figure out what is really important in nurturing a child’s mental growth.

Bright From the Start is easy to read and contains fundamental ideas from which you can build a solid learning platform.  (Parents are always looking for that magic secret to unlocking those extra IQ points in their kids, aren’t they?)  The book stands by its principle, ABC, or Attention, Bonding, and Communication.  The entire book is written around this simple philosophy.

Stamm discounts the hype associated with the latest and greatest products to boost your child’s brain development.  (And rightfully so.  Do you really think that your child playing with a jump rope is worse than playing with a talking multi-lingual stuffed toy?  Not necessarily.)  In the beginning of life, there are more important things to work on, hence the ABCs (see above).

Now, I know that different parents have different ideas about the early years of a child’s development.  So, please understand that this is my opinion.  I agree with Jill Stamm’s ABCs.  Babies need attention.  Attention from you.  That is how they learn.  Babies want attention from you and obviously their verbal skills haven’t developed yet.  So, they use their face, hands and voice to get your attention.  This interplay between you and the baby is probably the most important aspect of learning.  (Stamm also talks about the TV being a problem before the age of 2.  I agree.  Staring at a TV teaches your child to, um, stare at a TV…even if it is an educational show.)  Bonding is also important.  Your baby is a living creature.  It naturally wants needs to bond to a human.  That human should be you.  A strong bond with you lowers stress hormones in the baby.  When the baby feels safe, he or she can explore and learn without fear.  Lastly, there’s communication.  We need to learn to communicate with the baby as much as the other way around.  Adults are so used to verbal communication that many have lost the ability to recognize non-verbal cues.  Babies provide a nice refresher course for us.  When we work on communication with our baby, there’s less frustration on both parties.  You’ll probably notice yourself starting to “read your baby’s mind” which may result in less frequent crying.

Jill Stamm has written a nice book with general concepts for us non-neuroscientists.  She briefly explains brain development from a neural connectivity perspective and then goes into the Attention, Bonding, and Communication strategies.  For some parents, the ABC philosophy makes complete sense.  For other parents, it may take a little convincing.  (I believed in the ABC philosophy from the beginning and Stamm gave some great reasons why the philosophy makes sense.)  I enjoyed reading this book as it was not densely filled with data.  But, it left me wanting a little more substance to bite into.  (Personally, I would have liked to see a bit more technical information.)  If you are looking for an instruction book on how to manage your child’s learning from 0-3 years old, this is not it.

Bright From the Start gives you, the reader, some games that you can play with your baby.  Stamm talks about how these games work on the baby’s brain.  There are also tables on how your baby should progress, developmentally.  It’s a great book to learn about how YOU can assist in developing your baby’s learning from birth until three years of age.  I recommend this book as a reference for parents who want to understand how the time they invest in their babies is more important than anything else.  If you already understand how important spending time with your baby is, then this book may be somewhat rudimentary.


Overall Rating:  7 Worms   

Readability:  8 Worms

Usefulness:  7 Worms 

Manliness:  7 Worms 

Retail Price:  $17



Easy to read.  General concepts.  Simple games to play with your baby.


Not enough technical information.  I would have liked to see some studies and scientific evidence, etc.

Things I would modify:

Not much.  This book is a casual read.  I think it is targeted towards a parent that is interested in building a strong relationship with their child, but could use a little guidance.

Another Chef Steph creation.  This recipe is also full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals!


  • 2/3 cup baby carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup sliced peaches (I used the frozen ones, but if they are in season, fresh is even better)
  • 1/2 cup yam, chopped
  • 1/2 cup yellow summer squash, chopped (you can also use green summer squash or zucchini)

Orange You Glad I Didn't Say Carrot - Carrots, Peaches, Yams, and Squash


Place the carrots and yam in the colander over boiling water; cover
and steam for 10 minutes. Add the peaches and squash and steam for an
additional 10-15 minutes or until everything is thoroughly cooked and
soft. Place in a food processor along with some of the steaming liquid
and puree to desire consistency. This freezes well and keeps in the
fridge for 5-7 days.

When people describe other people’s inadequacies, they may say to you…”So and so has a great personality!”  which translates into “So and so is ugly as sin.”  Or…”So and so is an incredible athlete”  which means “So and so can’t think his way out of a paper bag.”  Well, we think Gavin may be the athletic type.  (Which is disappointing for now, unless we can later exploit his athletic prowess for millions of dollars.)

Pediatricians have developed a way to measure mental growth in children.  There are milestones for you (and them) to observe and chart your child’s progress.  It is based upon the average age at which babies learn to do things such as giggle, wave, make eye contact, turn when called, etc.  This milestone checklist is partly so doctors can catch abnormalities early in baby brain development.  More importantly though, milestones are used for parents to quietly rank their own child against their friends’ kids.

In the beginning, Gavin was smarter than average.  Smiling, laughing, rolling over, fetching  (or was that Duncan?).  Gavin was passing the milestones early by weeks, if not an entire month.  We would visit with the pediatrician and made sure she knew how advanced our prodigy was.  She would check off the milestone boxes on the Worm’s medical chart and we would make sure she documented the additional parlor tricks of our young Einstein.  Oh, how we enjoyed weekends at the park, jeering and throwing yogurt drops at all of the ‘normal’ kids falling off swings and tripping over themselves in the grass.  Our child was so much smarter than THAT!


Well that’s changed, and not for the better.  Gavin’s almost 10 months old and has missed a few milestones already.  He doesn’t mimic any sounds we make (except for burping and farting).  He doesn’t say mama or dada.  He uses his forehead as an extra limb.  There’s no baby sign language coming off his hands even though I’ve been teaching him how to sign “eat” for 6 months now.  (At least, I’m learning sign language…)

Let’s just say that if licking the sliding glass door, dragging your face over the carpet, and chewing power cords comprised the milestone checklist, the Worm is in the 99th percentile.  But alas, he is doomed to be either an athlete, or worse, a reality TV actor.


We’ve got a TV in the house.  (Yes I said house, not living room.)  It’s not big by today’s standards, just a 40″ LCD.  It probably weighs 45 lbs.  As with most LCD’s or flat screens, there’s a svelte base supporting the TV.  Barring earthquakes (we get them here in SoCal), the chances of our TV falling or toppling over had been less than 1%.  But with a baby that is crawling and pulling himself up on things, that chance has increased 10-fold.

Since we don’t want to see Gavin trying to muscle himself up onto the TV and then have it topple over and injure him (or even worse, kill him), we have installed a child proof TV anti-tip strap.  (After I became a parent, I started hearing these stories about TV’s crushing kids and furniture falling over on babies, etc.  It seemed like every day I read about a freshly pressed baby.  Not good.  So, naturally I freaked out about  all the evil house furnishings that could injure him. Duh, that’s what parents do!)

Our TV is perched on a stand on top of an entertainment center.  Our TV has mounting holes (in the back) to mount said TV onto a wall or other vertical surface.  It is these screw holes that will be used with the KidCo anti-tip TV strap.  The KidCo kit comes with a few different sized machine screws to fit the mounting holes on your TV.  This may be a problem if your TV mounting holes are recessed or odd-sized.

KidCo Anti-Tip TV Strap Kit

Check that your TV has holes in the back before purchasing this KidCo anti-tip TV strap.  Otherwise, it will be difficult to install this kit properly.  Also, you must be willing to drill holes into your entertainment center or into your wall.  Drilling into an antique entertainment center could be a deal breaker for some.  NOTE:  The KidCo kit does not have drywall anchors, so you’d have to purchase these separately to secure the anti-tip straps to a wall.

For our television setup, the KidCo Anti-Tip TV Strap mounted fairly easily.  The package says that it’s a 2-pack.  This is BS because you need both straps from the box to secure one TV.  I also had problems with the quality of screws in the bag.  Since I know more about nuts and bolts than I should, this was disappointing.  Especially if you ruin your TV mounting holes trying to force some cheap screws into your $10000 TV.  The nylon straps in the kit are well, nylon.  They seem ok for general use, so I can’t comment on the strength of them.  But, the thing that still worries me are the plastic mounting brackets.  The nylon strap has loops that sit over a hook portion of the plastic mounting bracket.  When you pull on the nylon strap, the plastic hook tends to deform.  This means that there is a chance that the anti-tip TV strap could break a plastic bracket and still fail.

Hook mounts

Even after mounting my KidCo anti-tip strap, I still worry about those plastic mounts.  I don’t feel like I should have to do that with any child safety item.  It should give you some peace of mind, right?

Bottom line:  This product provides some protection from TV tipping, but not enough for me.  Would I buy this product again?  Probably not.  I’ll be looking for another child proof TV anti-tip strap.


Overall Rating:  3 Worms   

Ease of Use:  7 Worms  (But others can have problems with mounting to back of TV.) 

Performance:  1 Worm 

Features:  7 Worms 

Durability:  1 Worms 

Manliness:  10 Worms (We know how guys like to put things together with tools!)

Retail Price:  $10



Provides a little peace of mind.


Cheap screws, no drywall anchors, flimsy plastic mounts.

Things I would modify:

Closed loop plastic fasteners. Different sized screws.  Add drywall anchors.

Where to find:

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