Little Pim: Watch Your Kids Learn a Foreign Language

We've all heard that kids can more easily learn a second language than adults.  I'm clearly not a scientist but for whatever reason, kids pick up and retain languages easier when they are younger.  This is why many schools now start teaching a second language like Spanish or French in Kindergarten.

But how do you get them going?  Do you just wait for them to go to school and hope they have a program like this?

I have to admit, I had never heard of Little Pim until I got an email from them asking if I would do a review of their products for the site.   I looked them up and according to their site:

Little Pim is an award-winning foreign language immersion DVD series for babies, toddlers and preschoolers.

We currently offer three theme-based DVDs that use our unique Entertainment Immersion Method™, which combines animation and real kids, teaching simple words and phrases for everyday activities.

Each program is available individually or in a discounted three-disc set. Currently we offer Spanish, French, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Hebrew, English (ESL), German, Arabic, and Russian.

So, I chose Spanish and waited for the DVD to arrive.

Now call me a skeptic, but my little girl is not quite two and although she chatters a whole bunch she really only says a handful of words.  "Juice" and "shoes" sound exactly the same so I don't count that as two.  So, I was pretty sure she some DVD isn't going to start making her speak Spanish...

Little Pim Dropping Some Knowledge

We sat down and watched Wake Up Smiling: Spanish for Preschoolers, Toddlers & Babies and from an adult point of view it seems to be a pretty standard kid's educational DVD.

They mix cute cartoons of Pim the Panda in with live action scenarios showing you the phrases they are teaching you.  If they are teaching you the Spanish word for eyes, ojos, they draw a circle around the eyes of the person on the screen and so on.

To me, it seemed like  Sesame Street with out the puppets and celebrities...

But to my little girl, it was some earth stopping stuff.  Reagan doesn't focus on the TV very often; she'll stop and watch for a couple of seconds but usually doesn't linger much.  Even when she's watching her favorites Curious George, Sesame Street (Burt and Ernie are second only to Elmo) or football (yeah, how awesome is that!?) she doesn't really just sit there and watch.

But with Little Pim's Spanish DVD, she literally froze and just watched it with the most focus I have ever seen from her.  After a bit she began to move her mouth to the words and would point at things like her eyes, our dogs and other things she saw when they said the word.  I was seriously impressed, but nothing prepared my wife and I for what came next.

As the DVD was winding down, my wife and I were messing around and I said, "Donde estan los peros?"  Which, if my high school Spanish is right, means "Where are the dogs?"  Without missing a beat my daughter ran around the coffee table, walked right up to where the dogs were laying and pointed at them!!!

We tried with other words and she wasn't as on it, but whenever we said something about the "peros" she knew what were talking about!  How crazy is that?  The nutty thing is the DVD never once said "Donde esta..." I just threw that in.  Yet, she knew what I was asking.

Could it be a fluke?  I guess.  But that is one crazy coincidence if it was!

Needless to say, we're going to be ordering more of these and making it a daily habit to watch them with Reagan.

For more information, visit Little Pim today!

DadLab’s Guide to Fatherhood - Review

DadLabs: Pregnancy and Year One DadLabs: Pregnancy and Year One
List Price: $16.95
Sale Price: $3.71
Used From: $2.93

Overview: The guys at dad labs have been dispensing funny and worth while information for years and this book is no different.  It walks you through all of the steps of pregnancy and the first year of your baby's life.  It shows you how to deal with raging hormones, cravings, nesting, lack of sex and all of the other fun things that come with knocking up your partner.

What I Like: The book not only teaches you stuff that the other baby and pregnancy books do but it delves into the odd subjects most books won't even touch.  Myths about affecting the sex, male fertility, the crazy people that give you advice and tips to not piss your wife off during labor are some of my favorite.

More importantly all of this info is presented in a hysterical manner.  You're learning stuff but there are enough jokes, funny pictures and charts to make you forget all of that. 

What I Didn't Like:  Nothing!  (Is that a double negative?)

Zonk Out Earplugs

As a new dad, my duties when it comes to the baby are somewhat limited.  I change the occasional diaper, feed her every now and then and will cover a late night feeding if need be.

Now before you get on your high horses and judge me for being some sort of slacker, uninvolved dad just calm down.  My wife stays at home while I work a 9-5 job, run a side business as well as run wonderful sites like this which takes up most of my time and then some.  Red Bull and I are good friends.

I help out as much as my wife needs me to and work the rest of the time.  With a hectic work schedule sleep is precious to me and I have to maximize every session of shut eye.

Unfortunately, I have sleep apnea and have to sleep with a fighter pilot -like mask on my face that forces air down my throat.  The machine makes an oh-so-interesting sound every time you breath and can be a pain to sleep with.  That combined with my wife getting in and out of bed and the sounds of our daughter letting us know she's displeased  make for many interruptions in sleep.

That is until I found Zonk Out Earplugs.  These little guys are made of soft power foam and can reduce 32 decibels of noise.  I have been using them for a couple of weeks now and I have to say the change in quality of sleep is quite noticeable. 

The Zonk Out Earplugs filter out almost all sounds and even quite the whirl of my CPAP breathing machine.  They are perfect for blocking out noise, but also don't completely deafen you, so you can still hear an alarm or something major going on.

Make sure you read the instructions though.  In typical male fashion I opened the box and just rammed them in my ears.  You need to flatten the ear plug then insert it into your ear.  The power foam then expands to perfectly fit your ear canal and makes for a perfect fit. 

Every now and then when my wife is completely wiped I cover a night of feeding.  I got my wife the Sleep Pretty in Pink ear plugs and sleeping mask to help her get some shut eye on those nights.  They help block out the sounds of a crying baby and a snoring husband I am told.

If you're looking for some slumber time and need to escape the sounds of a crying baby or snoring husbandI highly recommend these earplugs.  They are sold at more than 30,000 retailers worldwide including Walgreens, Wal-Mart, Rite-Aid, Longs Drugs, Drugstore.com and even Amazaon.com.  For under $5 you can be sleeping the night through. . .

New Look For NDB

So check out the new and improved New Dad Blog!

In the 6 months or so I have been blogging I would like to say that I have gained so much knowledge in the world of code that I put this bad boy together all on my own.

But I am big believer in the capitalistic system of division of labor.  I'll keep on doing what I do best (write, fumble my way through being a dad) and let the code guys do the rest.

That's why I went over to Studio Press and picked up this and a couple of other themes.  The one I am using on this page is called Metro and like most of their others uses featured content galleries (the big pretty pictures) to really make your blog come alive.

If you're code impaired like myself they even offer a killer forum where you can get all of your questions answered.  They make web design easy even for someone who has no idea what they are doing.

I still have a few more tweaks to do but since I am running on Red Bull fumes and a couple hours of sleep it will have to do for now.

Check them out at Studio Press and let me know what you think of the new design.

“I Can Make You Thin”- Review

I Can Make You Thin: The Revolutionary System Used by More Than 3 Million People (Book and CD) I Can Make You Thin: The Revolutionary System Used by More Than 3 Million People (Book and CD)
List Price: $22.95
Sale Price: $8.49
Used From: $0.45

Overview:  If you read my recent post about being Skinny Fat and trying to get in shape (and of course you did because you are a loyal reader. . .) you know that I have made some changes to the way I eat.  This book is the cause.

I first saw Paul McKenna on The Learning Channel (TLC) last year.  He had a special by the same name as the book.  I watched an episode or two, but for some reason it just didn't seem to click.  I don't know if they were not giving out the good info to sell the book or what.  But I thought this guy was an English weirdo and kind of forgot about him.

I came across the book and needed to lose some weight, so said "What the hell?" and gave it a try.  Great move on my part!

The book is full of simple and easy to use tactics to lose weight in a healthy manner.  You read them and think "That can't be all. . " but it is.  No crazy food selections, no forbidden foods, no Biggest Loser style all day workouts (actually he says you don't even have to work out).

The basic idea of the book is that we eat way too much and when we aren't hungry.  We don't listen to our bodies and eat too much and at the wrong time.  We create a feast-famine scenario in our primitive brains and so our bodies store fat because it isn't sure when more is coming.

So how do we change all of this?  It's shockingly easy:

  • Eat only when you're hungry:  Don't eat because it's noon or because someone else is hungry.  If you're not hungry just wait until you are.
  • Eat slowly:  Eat slower by chewing and enjoying every bite a lot longer than you normally would.  Also put your eating utensil down between bites or if you're eating something like a sandwich, put it down.  By doing these things you give your brain time to tell your body that you are full.
  • Stop eating when you're full:  Pay attention to your body and stop eating when you feel full.  You'd be surprised how much food will make you full if you pay attention.  I started eating about half of what I was before.  Get over not "finishing your plate" and just save the rest for leftovers.

And in a nutshell. . .that is it!  Too easy right?  Before I was using this system (it's not a diet) I was losing about 1lb a week if I was lucky.  After I started I was averaging about 4.  I didn't change anything in my workout or anything else.  Only the way I ate.

The book also comes with a CD to listen to.  Basically it's a relaxation/hypnosis CD that helps the pillars of this way of eating sink into your head.  It sounds kind of silly I know, but I swear it works.  Just make sure you listen some where you can take a nap (I listened in my parked car one time during lunch and  zonked out).

What I liked:  It's easy!  The book is a simple read and the ideas in it are easy to understand and immediately implement.  If you love McDonalds, or Chicken Fried Steak you can still have it; just stop eating when you're full.

What I didn't like:  McKenna puts little emphasis on physcial activity.  He does recommend just moving more (parking farther away, taking the stairs instead of elevator etc) but for my needs that wouldn't do.  If you're grossly overweight and the idea of an elliptical makes you want to run to the buffet line then his advice works.  But I wasn't just trying to lose weight, I was also trying to be healthier.  I think in the long run physical activity is key to maintaining a healthy life and I thought he should have focused more on it.

My Opinion:  I think "I Can Make You Thin" is an awesome book.  If you've tried everything else or simply hate depriving yourself constantly give this book a read.  It's so simple you'll put it down and think "Either there is no way this is going to work, or it's the greatest idea ever!"  It's the latter, trust me.

I Can Make You Thin: The Revolutionary System Used by More Than 3 Million People (Book and CD) I Can Make You Thin: The Revolutionary System Used by More Than 3 Million People (Book and CD)
List Price: $22.95
Sale Price: $8.49
Used From: $0.45

“What a Difference a Daddy Makes”- Review

What a Difference a Daddy Makes: The Indelible Imprint a Dad Leaves on His Daughter's Life What a Difference a Daddy Makes: The Indelible Imprint a Dad Leaves on His Daughter's Life
List Price: $14.99
Sale Price: $5.43
Used From: $2.99

Overview:  Ever since I found out we were having a little girl, I have been plagued with the notion that I don't really know a lot about the female gender.  At the wise old age of 28 I am just now catching on to fun things like "I don't want you to fix my problem, I just want you to listen to me complain" and "the closer you sit to me on the couch the more you like me".  In all honesty I am blind man trying to feel my way through the world of the feminine. 

I'm not sure how to be a good dad to a kid, let alone a girl.  So how in the hell do I raise a little girl so she doesn't end up on the stripper pole?  Enter Dr. Kevin Leman. . .

Dr. Leman is a well known psychologist and author of more than 20 books on family issues inlcluding "What a Difference a Daddy Makes: The Indelible Imprint a Dad Leaves on His Daughter's Life"  This book is a guide on how to be a good dad by raising a daughter in a balanced environment so she avoids the trials and tribulations of nasty relationships in her own life.

One of the main points of "What a Difference a Daddy Makes" is that children look for love and acceptance from both parents; but the opposite sex relationship (dad-daughter, mom-son) is the one that will affect them the most in their lives.  A daughter's image of how a man should treat her is based on how Dad treated Mom.  If you're never around, negligent, uncaring, abusive, drink too much etc, your daughter will subconsciously look for that when she grows up.  Dr. Leman's rule of thumb is: Treat your wife the way you would want your future son-in-law to treat your daughter.  So if you're wondering how to be a good dad, start by being a good husband!

"What a Difference a Daddy Makes" also goes into depth about how much involvement a dad should have in their daughter's life.  Dr. Leman describes Daddy Attention Deficit Disorder, or dad's under-parenting, which can lead to lower self esteem and may drive your daughter to do self-destructive things to get your attention.  By not being involved in your daughter's life (not knowing her friends, likes, dislikes, or listening to her talk about her day) or being too involved in yours (working too much, devoting too much time to hobbies) can lead to this.

On the other hand, "What a Difference a Daddy Makes" also talks about over-parenting.  By being too involved in your daughter's life you can make it so she is always dependent on you.  By not allowing her the freedom to make her own decisions and sometimes fail you are hindering her greatly.  This sometimes means letting her get hurt; and while we have no problem "toughening up" a little boy, most of us are unable to let our little girls do the same.

So like all things in life, moderation is key.  Dr. Leman lays out how to show your daughters boundries but also discover the world for themselves.  By arming your little girl with these tools you better equip her to handle the world she will one day have to interact with.

"What a Difference a Daddy Makes"  also covers topics like how to talk to your daughter about developing into a woman and sex.  Yes, it made me uncomfortable to read (and honestly type right now) but it is a fact of life that must be dealt with.  While I have many years until I have to do deal with this (I think 25 years is ok) there are some great tips I will remember.  For example; the best way to discuss this topic with your daughter is in a car so both of you can look out of the windshield and not have to make eye contact.  Write that one down!

What I liked: "What a Difference a Daddy Makes"  is filled with common sense solutions that will help you raise a balanced daughter and have a better relationship with your wife as well.  It's a good read for Moms too, as it explains a lot about her relationship with a son, husband and daughter.

What I didn't like: One issue I have with the book is that Dr. Leman is very religious and his faith is intertwined with his teachings.  I don't fault him for this since the book is about his family and obviously faith is a big part of that.  It's just that I am not religious so I felt like some things didn't apply to me. 

I also found that he could be very hard core in some of his views.  For example; he would tell his children every time they drove past an accident that drugs and alcohol were involved.  Thus, they grew up believing that IF you drink or try drugs you will die in an accident.  That is too extreme for me.

My Opinion: I personally think "What a Difference a Daddy Makes"  is a great book.  If you are at all confused about how to be a good dad to a little girl I highly recommend it, especially if you are religious.

“Best Baby Products”- Review

Best Baby Products, 9th Ed. Best Baby Products, 9th Ed.
List Price: $16.95
Sale Price: $4.20
Used From: $2.85

Overview:  One of the first things I thought when I found out I was going to be a new dad was, "Oh crap, we're going to have to buy a bunch of stuff!"  If you don't know already you're going to find out really quick that there is almost no end to the amount of baby products out there.  Sorting through all the different products and brands can seem like an insurmountable task.  Enter Best Baby Products, 9th Ed.; a true life raft in the endless sea of baby gear.

While registering for our baby shower, I just happened to have picked this book up at the front of the store.  I literally carried this book with me and used it as a reference guide while we added stuff to our registry.  If it wasn't for Best Baby Products, 9th Ed. I would have gone with my usual "This looks good" shopping method.

Best Baby Products, 9th Ed. is a complete and thorough guide to all things baby and should be a must read by any new dad or parent looking for the best quality and value in their baby products.  Consumer Reports is known for their unbiased and impartial testing of products in all industries.  They don't even accept advertising in their magazines to remain completely objective.  So you know you're getting the best possible reviews with this book. 

It's 37 sections are alphabetically listed for easy reference.  They cover every possible baby related product category you could think of (and even some you wouldn't).  Some of the most helpful are:

Baby Bottles and Nipples

Baby Food

Bouncer Seats

Cribs

Diapers

Formula

Gates

Strollers

Swings

Besides the main feature of reviews, the book comes chalked full of extras.  Stuff like "The Baby Basics" checklist, "Keeping Baby Safe" and "Guide to Pediatric Drugs" really are just icing on this already awesome cake. 

What I liked:  Consumer Reports does a great job of scientifically and objectively breaking down products.  Their reviews keep you from buying something that "looks good enough" or has "cute colors".  For most products they provide a chart that breaks down essential factors (saftey, durability, comfort etc) and gives "poor" to "very good" ratings.  They also give a numerical rating so you can compare between different brands and models.

What I didn't like: For some products they only provide a "recommendations" section instead of break down by model.  Car Seats and Breast Pumps are both like this.  Then for other products they only have limited review charts.  For example the Cribs section only tells the price and if the crib meets basic safety standards.  So it's harder to compare between brands and models.

My Opinion: While the formatting for the reviews is not completely uniform, this book is a must have!  I paid $16.95 for it at the store and it was worth every penny.  I couldn't believe that it was going for only $5.99 @ Amazon.com That is an insane deal!  If you don't own this book, do yourself a favor and get it today.

“The Expectant Father”- Review

The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips, and Advice for Dads-to-Be (New Father Series) The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips, and Advice for Dads-to-Be (New Father Series)
List Price: $18.95
Sale Price: $10.99
Used From: $15.90

Overview:  "The Expectant Father" was the first book I purchased when I found out I was going to be a new dad.  The authors do a really great job of covering basic pregancy information from the man's point of view.   The book is broken down by months; each month's chapter will have a short section on the things you, your baby and your partner may all be going through.  In addition to that there will be a subject high lighted in that chapter.  Topics that are covered are: paying for the birth, child and college, communication, telling the world, work and family changes, the birth and many others.

What I Liked: "The Expectant Father" gives you a good base of information if you don't really know what to expect from pregnant ladies or the process of child birth.  It is written in a very conversational matter, so it's more like one of your buddies talking to you than a biology text book.

What I didn't Like: The book is organized by months while everything in pregnancy is by weeks.  Yeah the math isn't hard, but sometimes big things can happen from week to week.  Also you get a lot of information thrown at you that may not apply right away.  For example; the authors delve deep into college funds in the second month's chapter.  This wave of information sometimes was too much and I literally had to limit myself to 2 chapters at a time, or I would start to feel the beginnings of panic attacks.  Sadly, I am not joking.

My Opinion: "The Expectant Father" is a great book if you just found out you are going to be a new dad.  It gives you a good base to start off with, but will not be the only baby book you need.  The authors are not doctors so the tone of the book is usually light and entertaining, but they incorporate plenty of professionals into their writing that you get good solid stuff to go off of.  All in all this book is worth the money and does a fantastic job of introducing you to the wide world of pregnancy.

Funny Baby T-shirts

It seems like the minute I found out I was going to be a dad, there has been a never ending shopping list of things we need to buy;  crib, stroller, car seat, bottles, jumpers, clothes, breast pumps, toys etc.  Needless to say I have spent a lot of time in stores looking at baby stuff.  If you're a new dad I am sure you feel my pain on this one.

The worst things are the cheesy shirts and bibs that are supposed to be funny but are just flat out lame.  I call them "Ahhhh" shirts.  They are made to make an aunt or grandma go "Ahhhh, isn't that cute" and that's it.  But I find no humor in the "Too Cute to Eat My Veggies" bib or the dated "Got Milk" or standard "Grandma Loves Me".  Yeah, they are cute on a baby, and they make you go "Ahhh" but I need a little more.

I admitedly have a twisted sense of humor.  I find the distrubing and messed up hysterical.  So when my friend turned me on to T-Shirt Hell.com a couple years back I was in heaven.  This site is full of sick, inappropriate and just plain wrong t-shirts.  If you're looking for a laugh or perhaps a punch in the face, this is the place to buy your shirts.  If political correctness is a 7 Series BMW, T-shirt Hell is a pair of roller skates with metal wheels from the 60's.  One of the awesome things about this site is they have a section just for baby and kid sized shirts: Baby T-Shirt Hell.com

No, these aren't the type of shirt you would put the kid in to go to church or over to the in-laws for Sunday dinner (unless your in-laws are way cooler than mine). But if you're looking to get a laugh from your buddies, or make a bad impression on someone you need to pick one of these up.  Look, you are supposed to stop telling nasty jokes and using bad words around your kid, so why not enjoy the couple of years where the kid can't catch on to what they are wearing and amuse your friends and piss off strangers?

My personal favorites are:

Kickin' Ass & Taking Naps

Daddy Drinks Because I Cry

And the one my wife hates the most. . .

All Mommy Wanted was a Back Rub

My wife vehemently claims that she will not allow our kid to wear any shirt of this sort. . . but mommy can't be everywhere can she?  So if you're like me and feel the need to revolt against the mass produced bland and boring clothes they want our wives to buy our kids, check out Baby T-Shirt Hell.com and participate in it's attempt to extend a middle finer to the world.