Best Book So Far!

Munch, by Matthew Van Fleet, has proven to be one of the most exciting items my son could have received.  As with most children, I am sure, he loves books, especially interactive, pop-up, and lift-the-flap books.  This book gets my son to screech with excitement at the site of the cover.  We can’t even read the book anymore because he is so excited to get to the moving pages he begins turning them himself. And, as soon as the page is opened to the first munching alligator he shrieks with excitement.

If this book is within site of my son all other toys are dropped.  I even tried showing him a new pop-up book, which I thought would be more visually exciting, and he pushed it out of the way to find Munch.

It is a simple, rhyming, delightful little book.  Unfortunately, and I knew the day would come, one of the moving parts has been damaged, but I will not hesitate to replace it!

If I had to choose one book to add to any child’s library, it would be Munch, by Matthew Van Fleet.

5 out of 5 stars


Best dSLR camera for Parents

CameraExamples-1I often get asked by expectant parents what advice I can give as a new parent.  My answer is always to take as many photos as possible.  Our little guy has grown up so fast
and without some of the photos I took we would have lost many memories to the blur of time sweeping past us.  That first month…  Wait, that was a MONTH?  It felt like a week.

I also recommend that you take photos of everything.  You won’t know what you needed to record until it’s too late.  I remember when our son was a few months old and we noticed a dime sized red mark on his scalp.

“Had he always had that?  Did he have it at birth?  Was it getting darker? Is it a rash!  IS HE OKAY!?

We reviewed the photos… yep he’s always had it.  Oh, and it’s actually getting fainter.  How had we never noticed it before?  Are we just that tired? (Yes.)

Besides shooting tons a photos and videos with our iPhones, having a nice dSLR camera has helped me create some really stunning photos of our little guy.  Granted, I’m a bit of a photo nerd, but if you can afford it I HIGHLY recommend the following gear:


Canon 70d dSLR camera.

This is basically one step away from being a “pro” model – and 5 years ago a camera with these specs would have be pro. The 70d provides excellent image quality, great accurate focus, and a really nice burst mode so you can rapidly take photos and catch the perfect moment. This camera also has tons of shooting options from fully automatic to detailed manual controls.

To me, the selling point of this camera is the video mode. This is the first dSLR by Canon to offer a super accurate automatic focus system when in video mode. Up until now dSLR cameras had horrible auto focus when shooting video and almost always needed you to manually focus them… This was not a great situation for mom and dad who are trying to capture first laughs, steps and words. The new autofocus on the 70d is so easy and perfect you won’t even think twice about how to use it. It just works.
This camera also includes a great touchscreen and super sensible controls compared to some Nikon models I’ve used.

This version of the 70D ships with a long telephoto lens that will take you from a nice wide angle 18mm to a close up 135mm. This kit lens is a huge improvement over previous models. As to be expected from a zoom lens, it can be a bit big and bulky.  So, what do you do when you want something smaller and lighter?


Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM Lens

This newly released lens is often called a Pancake because it’s so thin.  This fixed length of 24mm is perfect for cramped interiors and walking around parties as it mirrors your natural field of vision when mounted on the 70d (due to the camera 1.6 crop factor).  The lens is known for it’s super sharp images, light weight, tiny size, and for having a fast aperture of 2.8.  The lower the aperture number the more background blur.CameraExamples-5

An aperture of 2.8, combined with the high ISO options on the 70d, will also allow you to shoot photos indoors without a flash.  This is something I found very useful when taking pictures of a newborn.  I didn’t t want to blind the poor kid!  All this for $125 dollars.  You may find that you use this as you main lens because it’s so good.  Should you still get the kit lens?  Yes.  You will want the ability to zoom and if you were to purchase the zoom separately you would pay far more that the bundled price.  Canon also makes a 40MM version of the pancake lens.  I love using this version as well (I own both).


Transcend 32 GB High Speed Class 10 UHS Flash Memory Card

You will need a memory card with your new camera.  I strongly recommend the Transcend 32 GB SDHC memory card.  I’ve shot with a ton of memory cards over the years and speed does matter, especially if you are shooting rapid fire bust images.  This one delivers and the price is amazing.

You will get way over 1000 picures in both Jpeg and RAW file formats.  That’s great because if you remember my #1 tip:  take photos of EVERYTHING.

Secondary options: 

I know not everyone will be able to afford the 70d.  As a lower priced alternative I recommend the Canon Rebel.  They tend to introduce new models every year,  each better than the last.  While I have not used the most recent version, the reviews are very positive.  This camera is also compatible with the Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 lens I listed above. Also, you can now purchase this camera with the  same 18-135mm zoom sold with the 70d!

For years I took photographs on a very old rebel and people were always impressed.  You can, and you will, get great pictures.


If you want to go the other direction and spend even more money, I would always recommend buying higher quality lenses before a more expensive camera body (lenses last longer).  The all time greatest lens by Canon (in my opinion) is the 70-200mm F 2.8 IS II.  This telephoto zoom will create beautiful pictures with razor sharp focus and gorgeous bokah (blurry backgrounds).

Happy shooting!


Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Car Review [VIDEO]

We purchased the Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Car for my son at the Holidays when he was just about six months old.  He is now 12 months and he has loved playing with this toy from day one.  It was delivered in frustration free packaging and we found it very easy to assemble.  As our son has developed over the past 6 months this toy has grown with him and gets plenty of use! Even the cat plays with it… But only when we are trying to sleep.

Cat playing with toy car

Every aspect of the toy has been explored from the shape sorting to the spinning back wheels, and the rotating dashboard.  It was even tested by a slightly older friend (at 15 months, he is the mature friend of our group) and was given a high approval rating by the car loving boy!  As with most children’s toys, the songs can get repetitive, but that’s what we get for purchasing battery operated toys in the first place, right?!

Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Car Review-p4

I give the Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Car 5 out of 5 stars for its ability to grow with the child and provide plenty of entertainment.  I expect my son to continue playing with this toy for many months (maybe years??) to come, making it a worthwhile purchase!


Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920

Grandparents live far away? This webcam combined with Skype (or FaceTime) was a great investment for only $70. The HD webcam was plug and play easy to set up, the image/sound quality is EXCELLENT, and it comes with a super long six foot cord.

The cord is actually a big selling point for me as it allows the camera to be moved around the room to capture the action. The mount contains a standard tripod screw making it easy to attach to any tripod and it also unfolds into a little “claw” that you can use to hook the webcam to the top of your TV, Laptop, crib, etc. Just make sure Jr can’t grab the camera! 🙂

The autofocus feature works extremely well. We could sit on the sofa with the baby and then bring him up close to the camera without the camera searching to try and focus on us. The close focusing distance is very good too. When our son would spot the camera, crawl over and inspect it the image was always in focus and hilarious for those watching his curious face on the other side.

MOST ROYAL! 5 out of 5 stars!


Gretsch G9126 Guitar Ukulele

Wow, I can not express how wonderful this 6 string Ukulele has been. Our kid LOVES it!

Because it’s has six strings, like a guitar, this uke is super easy to pick up and play all the normal songs you know without having to think of ukulele chords.

I bought a wall hanger (Hercules GSP38WB) so I can keep the uke hung up in our main playroom. It’s been super useful. I can quickly grab this mini-guitar and sing songs to our one-year-old son’s delight. He also loves to sit in front of me and carefully strum the stings with one finger while I make chords. He will actually squeal with joy at this. As a dad who hopes to teach his son guitar, these moments are just precious. Finally, there was one day a few months ago when he was having a temper tantrum and we were unable sooth him. Suddenly I saw the Uke, grabbed it and began singing. He immediately stopped crying and began to smile and laugh. Worth. Every. Single. Penny.

This thing sounds great too. I’ve been very happy with the tone, especially for the size. It is very well rounded with a nice punchy feel. We also spent one afternoon around the pool and this little uke got passed around the deck as we sang songs. Super charming. I also like the fact that as our son gets older the size and soft nylon strings will make this a great beginner instrument.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars!