Thursday, May 26, 2011

Product Review - MicroDry Memory Foam Area Rug

The folks at MicroDry were nice enough to send me their memory foam ultimate luxury area rug for review.  And I have to say that I am in LOVE.

One day I was thinking about the new wood floors that we are planning to put into our house this summer.  Our family has allergies galore and we've made the decision to get rid of all the carpeting in our home.  However, my kids love to play on the living room floor.  I hated to think that their favorite soft play surface would no longer exist.  Sure, you could put a rug down, but rugs on a hardwood floor do not compare to carpeting.  Then I got to thinking . . . wouldn't it be great if you could find a really cushie rug that would make even a hardwood floor a soft place to romp?  Wouldn't it be great if they MADE A RUG WITH MEMORY FOAM!?  Well, the people of MicroDry have read my mind and obliged with their line of rugs, bath mats, floor runners, pet mats, and even toilet lid covers.  All with wonderfully soft and springy memory foam.

From a recent Bed Bath & Beyond flyer
The floor rug is a nice sized 48" x 68" and fits adequately in front of a living room couch as shown in the picture above.  The color I received was "Linen" which is a neutral, light brown color.  The large floor rugs retail for $149.99 and come in two colors (though three are pictured on the BB&B website and Linen is currently out of stock).  The bath mats come in a range of colors, and two sizes, priced from $19.99 to $29.99.

Both the floor rug and the bath mats have a polyester/polyamide mix (i.e. microfiber) that covers the polyurethane foam core.  They come with a slip-resistant base, which is nice since there is no need to buy an extra non-skid pad to use with it.

Now, here's where I get a bit picky and detail a "wish list" for the MicroDry people.  I really wish that the large floor rugs came in more variety of colors just like the bath mats.  I could see using a brightly colored one in the kids playroom.

I dislike the fabric on principle.  While microfiber is very soft, the characteristics of the fabric give it the undesirable appearance of always looking "dirty".  I find myself sitting down and smoothing out all the imperfections so that it doesn't look quite so roughed up.  I assume that the fabric was chosen because it is generally soft, absorbent, and durable.  I see no need for an area rug to be absorbent and I'm sure a replacement could be made that is just as durable and soft.

Although the floor rug is an adequate size, I'd really love it if it came in an even larger size.  Something that wouldn't be so dwarfed by the size of my living room.  Because I can tell you that having this rug in my living room is one of the greatest things about the room.  There is nothing better than coming home after a long day, sitting down on my couch, and squishing my tired, achy feet deep into the foamy goodness of this rug.

Speaking of which, that's the last item on my wish list.  Yes, the foam is gloriously soft, and yes, I love walking and/or standing on this rug, but I desperately wish that MicroDry had made this rug just a hair thicker.  Even just a 1/4 inch thicker would have made a world of a difference to me.

Overall, I am very impressed and happy with this product.  There are a few kinks to work out, but I can't deny that this rug makes me and my family very happy.  So much so that I've already purchased one of the bath mats!  Let me tell you that there is nothing that takes away the stress of the day like stepping out of a hot shower onto one of these bath mats.  Sometimes my husband and I will even stand on the mat as we brush our teeth, just because it feels so nice.

I received this product from MicroDry for review.  My views and opinions are my own and I was not paid in anyway to write this review.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Video Friday - Zooglobble's 2011 KidVid Tournament

Stefan Sheppard over at Zooglobble starts his annual KidVid Tournament today!  This is a really fun way to check-out some great kids music videos from the past 12 months.  This year Stefan is utilizing friends from around the kids music community to host the first few rounds of the tournament.  You can visit Out With the Kids to see a match-up between four of the contenders in the Woodie Guthrie Region. However, I wanted to let you know who I voted for in today's match-ups since it appears that so far I've chosen the underdogs!

First up is Billy Kelly's The Sky Floats (and so do Boats).  You'll remember that a previous Video Friday post was dedicated to Billy Kelly's funny, catchy, and oh-so-silly People Really Like Milk.  So, it's no surprise that I chose to vote for this equally great video.

Next up is a Readeez video for Coal Train Railroad's Just the Juice Jack.  I'm not normally a big fan of the Readeez videos which are like captioned music videos.  There's nothing particularly wrong with Readeez videos, they are usually very simple and easy to follow, they just aren't generally my cup o' tea.  I normally like the original videos best, but I do appreciate the fact the Readeez often makes videos for kids songs that don't have an official video, and I think that this is the case here.  This is definitely a fun and jazzy song that makes me want to check out more from Coal Train Railroad.  My favorite part has got to be the swirling cherries at the end.

If you want to follow the rest of the KidVid Tournament 2011, make sure to check-out Zooglobble for the dates and places of the rest of the match-ups.  Have a great Friday everyone and I wish you a warm and dry first day of spring!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Video Friday - googly eyes by caspar babypants

Wesley and I were listening to the latest caspar babypants CD, This is Fun! the other day and I realized that I never did feature the video for googly eyes here on Video Friday.  What was I thinking!?  I don't know.  I mean, young or old, who doesn't know what you mean when you say googly eyes?  And how can you not have a smile on your face when you say it?  Googly eyes are all about fun times.  This simple video created entirely by Chris Ballew (with some input by his wife, artist Kate Endle, and Chris' daughter Josie) is fantastic in it's simplicity.  You'll want to watch it again and again and you'll enjoy having the song stuck in your head all day.  I'll bet it keeps a silly grin on your face and a bit of lightness in your heart all day too.

From his website, this is what Chris had to say about the song googly eyes, "We love googly eyes around our house.  I will often come into the kitchen to find a sweet potato with eyes staring at me that my kids or Kate has set up.  One of them ended up being named Larry the Lemon.  He might get his own song someday.  For now this is a love song for the googly eyes and their amazing power to make things come alive."

Happy Friday everyone!  I hope you love this video as much as my family does.  Just be careful who you make googly eyes to today!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day Monster Followers!

Because I can't seem to go more than a few weeks without mentioning Recess Monkey or posting one of their videos, here is a special Valentine's Day video featuring them.  Well, one monkey anyway.  That's Drew singing about his daughter's fish.  This song comes from their next album Flying due out June 14 (My Mama's birthday!  Guess what Mom's present will be?  Just kidding, Mom.)  It's titled, appropriately enough, My Valentine! and features local Kindiependent talents Johnny Bregar on piano and Tom Baisden on trumpet, as well as  Dean Jones on trombone.  I love the autographed photos of Johnny and Dean featured in the video.  What a cute touch!

What else do I love about this video?  Well, there's the pink ukulele that Drew plays while wearing a fuchsia cummerbund.  There's the black and white film footage of a big band that comes out towards the end. And then there is my most favorite part, little Valentine's bubbly solo.  Can't get any cuter than a singing fish.  Well, maybe you can, but I loved it nonetheless. 

Happy Valentine's Day to all of you.  I hope that you share this video with all that you love.  Have a super sweet and special day!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Cuz I'm Small. And I'm Brown. And I Hog, the Ground!

Last week the Monsters and I read Joan Holub's book Groundhog Weather School (illustrated by Kristin Sorra).  It's all about the schooling that groundhogs must go through in order to become weather predictors.  It's rather silly, but it does contain some actual facts about groundhogs, weather, and how groundhog day came about.  It's a fun read that the boys really enjoyed.

Well, ever since then I've had this song stuck in my head, which isn't surprising since it is pretty catchy.  This video was done by Steve Burns and Steven Drozd for the Noggin show, Jack's Big Music Show. That tells you how old it is right there.  Remember when Nick Jr. used to be Noggin?!?  Yeah, seems like ages ago.  I missed posting this video last year when I first started my blog and I knew that there was no way I could miss it again this year.  I mean, how can you not post this video for Groundhog Day?  Because, admit it, there aren't that many kids songs out there about groundhogs.  There aren't that many songs out there about groundhogs, period. 

And while we're reminiscing about the good old days of Noggin, did you even catch the fact that Steve Burns is in fact the Steve.  The original dude from Blues Clues.  Yeah, that's him alright.  I admit that the furry little headband threw me off too.

Steve Burns: I Hog the Ground

So, I didn't realize this, but apparently here in the Pacific Northwest, we don't have an official groundhog weather predictor, instead we have a meteorologist frognosticator named Snohomish Slew.  Also, this bullfrog is a little more eager to get the "jump" on predicting the weather because his predictions come out the weekend before Groundhog day.  Ironically enough, bullfrogs are considered an invasive species here and can be killed without a license (!?!)  Snohomish Slew and his buddy Snohomish Slew II have a special exemption issued by the state of Washington to be used by the nonprofit Just Frogs Toads Too! for education on invasive species.  And also frognosticating.

I don't really see the point to all this fuss given the fact that no matter what you say or do, the rain won't stop until mid June.  You can count on that.  Because it's the Pacific Northwest. And it rains here.  A lot.  However, I do find the use of frogs as weather predictors interesting.  Much more so than groundhogs.  Thayer Cueter, Slew's keeper, told HeraldNet that frogs are better predictors because they "chirp" when spring has arrived.  All I know is that there's a frog somewhere outside the door at work and he's been croaking like mad the last week or so.  Like ear-splittingly loud croaking.

I hope that you've enjoyed this little journey back in time, as well as the incredibly interesting look into bullfrogs as weather forecasters.  I dare you to get through the day now without yelling out, "Cuz I'm small!  And I'm brown!  And I hog!  The ground!"

Friday, January 28, 2011

Video Friday - ROY G. BIV by They Might Be Giants

The Monsters and I have been rockin' out this week to They Might Be Giants' fourth album for kids, Here Comes Science.  While we all loved the first three albums (including similar edu-factual-type albums Here Come the ABC's and Here Come the 123's) I personally love this album immensely.  I'm thinking it's the fact that I'm a science geek at heart and Lucas seems to be following in my footsteps.

This Friday I'm featuring two songs from the 2009 CD/DVD that have quickly become family favorites.  First up is ROY G. BIV and I say to all those who have the OCD habit of needing things to always line-up in the correct color spectrum order (me!) "Rejoice!!" I know you will fall madly in love with this song.  I sing it constantly in my head while putting away anything from dishes, to laundry, to crayons (of course).  It's a nice song to listen to while doing chores.  But, even if you have no OCD habits (you freak. yeah I'm talkin' to you), you'll find this song fun.  Despite the fact that they do cruelly burst your bubble about ever glimpsing a unicorn.

Next up is Electric Car.  If you didn't want to drive an electric car before, you surely do now.  This video is so sweet and yet so catchy.  Lucas and I love singing along to it as we drive to the Westside to pick up Wesley from daycare. Let's take a ride in an electric car.  To the Westside in an electric car!  Although, I think it would be so much more fun if we were driving to the Westside in one of these.  (Yeah, I know it's not an electric car, but it's ridiculously cute and itty-bitty and I want one.)  What I really want to know is if the Merry Maids listen to this song as they drive around in their snazzy little purple machines.

Happy Friday everyone!  I hope today is a great day for you whether you are an environmental hippie, drive a gas guzzler, or simply enjoy driving teeny-tiny toy cars.  Just remember to keep yer colors in line.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Alan! Alan! Al!

My family has been a little obsessed with British comedy lately.  I think it started over Christmas when I popped Aardman's Creature Comforts - Merry Christmas Everybody! into the ol' blu-ray. Have you seen it?  Check it out.  If you liked the original Creature Comforts, you'll enjoy the Christmas version.

Well then, next, Wesley became totally obsessed with Mr. Bean.  I kid you not.  What two-year-old likes Mr. Bean?  The average American adult doesn't even know who Rowan Atkinson is, yet here is Wesley requesting to watching him 24-7.  And I mean that literally.  I think we've watched the three DVDs at least 20 times each.  By the way, I am well aware that two-year-olds are not supposed to watch copious amounts of TV.  Save yer sermon preacher.  The other day Wesley knocked on my bedroom door, hollered, "Mama!", then even louder, "BEAN!!"  I derived immense joy from that little episode.  It still makes me laugh.  So how am I supposed to say no to that?

Finally, our family just can't get enough of this YouTube video (which is a lot like Creature Comforts).  In particular the marmot who can't seem to get Alan's attention.  We've been yelling "ALAN! ALAN! ALAN! AL! ALAN!" like a load of idiots ever since we first saw it.  And it's still funny.  All I can think of is how much we're going to annoy my brother-in-law, Steve, when we see him this summer.  That will make more sense once you watch the video.

(Fair warning: it is a bit crude in some parts.)

When next you see me, yell "ALAN!".  Just don't expect me to answer.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Recess Monkey - Live at SPSCC!

Boy am I glad that I took the time to check my email this week.  Parent Map was nice enough to inform me that Recess Monkey was going to play a FREE concert at the Kenneth J. Minnaert Center for the Arts at South Puget Sound Community College (phew, what a mouthful).  And what do you know, that's just down the street from where I live!  What a score!  A free Saturday morning concert that I could literally walk to.  The sun was shining, it was warm and dry outside and I could see Recess Monkey. For free.  Life just doesn't get any better than that.

Let me tell you that I may have been the last to know about this concert, but apparently everyone else knew about it.  This is the third year that Recess Monkey has played this concert sponsored by Parenting Tools.  So guess what?  There were tons of people there!  It was a blast despite the fact that even though there were so many people there, one person was very obviously missing.  Jack Forman couldn't make the concert due to the arrival of his baby boy, Oscar, yesterday.  But no worries.  Though we missed Jack, Drew and Daron brought plenty of energy and fun. 

They started with Birthday Bite, in celebration of little Oscar, off their 2008 album Tabby Road. Then quickly jumped to a sample of their newest album, Flying, to be released in June 2011 with the song Flap Jacks.  It's all about making pancakes on a Saturday morning.  Who doesn't love that?  Next up was Lucas's favorite song, Knocktopus, about an octopus that tells knock-knock-jokes.  Lots of audience participation and really bad kid jokes.  He never gets tired of that.

Jet Pack came next off their most recent album The Final Funktier followed by Melvin the shark and the song Pet Shark.  Then Daron jumped out in front to show everyone how to do the moves for riding a roller coaster.  This was followed by lots of jumping up and down and screaming.  Haven't got a Pet Yet came next, followed by Under My Bed, and then Dr. Wiggle.  I love Dr. Wiggle.  It's just such a fun, silly song.  Even if it is about something that makes my stomach turn. 

Finally, we had songs about playing with a box (hadn't heard this one before), going to swim at the pool, playing on the monkey bars, and to top things off Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?  A totally interactive song in which Daron started a chicken dance conga line and led nearly the entire audience up on to the stage.  No back stage passes needed to see these guys!

Wow!  What a great show!  These guys really bring it when they come to play and even though the auditorium seating was somewhat restricting in terms of movement, that didn't keep the kids from jumping up and down and screaming their little hearts out.  (Not my kids of course who always attend these things like they are a pair of constipated old men.)  All the parents around me knew all the words to the songs and we sang along and, I suspect, had way more fun than the kids.  My husband and I threatened never to bring the kids again.  Next time we'll just go by ourselves. 

Don't tell Daron, but after the concert, I took a few quick photos of Lucas pretending to play that incredibly snazzy, sparkly red drum kit of his.  It was just so bright and glittery that I couldn't resist.  I'd run out and buy one exactly like it today if I didn't think my neighbors would kill me.  Then the kids got to make some craft projects out in the lobby and we took a quick picture of Lucas with Drew and Daron.  They enjoyed the fact that we were all wearing our Recess Monkey t-shirts (thanks Jack!!)  It was a great concert.

I have just one final thing to say.  Recess Monkey, YOU ROCK!!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Video Friday - $9.99 by caspar babypants

Well, I'm back. I'm not sure if you missed me or not, but here I am again. It's been so long that I have not kept up well with all the new kids music videos out there. So "bear" with me here. Oh, that was an awful joke because here I am to tell you about an oldie but goodie video by the very fine Mr. Chris Ballew. Or chris ballew as he would write. No, he'd probably say caspar babypants. Anyhoo, this is my family's all time most favoritest song by caspar. It's the story of a little bear who is loved most dearly until the day that he becomes an old bear. Then he goes on a journey of sorts until one day he ends up with a new little kid to love. It's the age old story of toys. At least that's what Toy Story has taught me.

I don't know why my family loves this song so much, but I can tell you we are definitely not the only ones.  If there is such a thing for Kindie music, this song appears to have earned a cult following.  According to the YouTube comments, this video and/or song appears to be played quite often at your local Chuck E. Cheese.  Apparently every patron of Chuck E. Cheese loves this song.  I wouldn't know since I refuse to step one tiny toe in there.  However, I do know that when caspar came to Olympia and played at the local independent toy store Wind Up Here, there were tons of kids and parents there.  And when he played this song, there was not a single parent who did not sing along.  Truly.  You can't say that about every kids song.  I can't say that about every kids song.  There are lots that I love, but I don't know all the words.  I am proud to say that I know every single word to the song, $9.99.  

So, watch this video that caspar created along with daughter Josie and then tell me why I love it so.  Because I just can't figure it out.  My 7-year-old tells me every time we listen to it that he likes this song, but good luck getting a 7-year-old to explain why he loves or hates anything.  "I just do".  That's the answer.  I suppose you don't really need at reason.  If you love it, well then, that's enough.  I love it.  So there.

Happy Friday, everyone.  Take some time today to appreciate something simply because you love it.  You don't need a better reason than that.

By the way, caspar was at Wind Up Here in late October to promote the release of his third album, This is Fun!  If you didn't know, or haven't got it yet, go out and get it! It's every bit as awesome as the first two!