M. Giant's
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Saturday, May 21, 2005  

That's Intellitainment!

About the time we realized that M. Tiny's head was taking on its worrisome trapezoid shape, one of the things the pediatrician suggested was some sort of device for keeping him up off of his head, so as to prevent further asymmetrical flattening action. Not long ago, the ideal thing for that would have been a walker or "ExcerSaucer" of some variety. This is a baby toy that basically consists of a cloth seat that you drop the baby into, and he's then surrounded by a plastic ring with toys built in, and the whole arrangement is on little casters so that pre-ambulatory tots can Fred-Flintstone their way around the linoleum. However, these devices have fallen out of favor in recent years due to the danger of pre-ambulatory tots Fred-Flinstoning their way down the stairs. They're not built for that. In fact, they're not built at all any more, for just that reason. At least not in this country.

However, you can still get stationary equivalents that are just as entertaining. So we went to Babies R Us and that's what we got.

It stands on four legs at the end of our living room, just waiting to receive M. Tiny's weight at any given moment. Except for those moments when it's already bearing his weight, such as this one:

Just like his dad, back when I used to work at the Podium. Except with fewer computers and fewer phones, at least for now.

It's changed our lives. M. Tiny loves every moment he spends in it (not counting the last few seconds or so of each session, when he lets us know he's had enough). We can actually put him down and leave him alone long enough to go to the bathroom and return before he gets loudly and angrily bored--a luxury that was not previously available to us. We've had it so long, and it's become so integrated into our lives, that we're practically taking it for granted. As if it were a seventh member of the family. It wasn't until Al mentioned the Intellitainer in her entry about her Minneapolis trip that I realized that there might be an actual, entire entry for me there.

When we first bought it, we thought it was called the Intellitrainer, as in "Intelligence" and "Trainer." But then I saw one at Target (for the same price, I was gratified to see), and realized that there's only one "R" in "Intellitainer." As in "Intelligence" and "Entertainer." This came as a relief to our friend Bitter, who upon hearing the correction thought that the "Tainer" stood for "CONtainer." Which is funny, but hey, we don't go off and leave him in it indefinitely or anything. Besides, any decent baby container should come with a handle for greater portability.

But on to the features. One side is relatively primitive, consisting of a set of three plastic gears, a little globe-rattle on a stalk, and a mirror. Naturally the mirror is his favorite part of this side. Can you blame him, looking like he does?

The side he's facing in the photo is the battery-powered area. You flip it on, and every button, slide, cylinder, and plastic book page generates a sound. In non-musical mode, it recites nursery rhymes and identifies his three main buttons as "A" (red), "B" (green), and "C" (blue). In musical mode, it sings in the voice of some perky soprano who might be Kristin Chenoweth, only more irritating. Which is where our favorite button comes in: the "half-volume" button. M. Tiny doesn't yet know that his Intellitainer is capable of such a thing as "full volume," and we intend to keep it that way until he outgrows it.

But back to musical mode, which is where it gets really educational. Specifically, if he hits the "A" button, it plays a measure of a jazzy little piano riff in C#. If he hits "B," he gets a measure in F#. "C" gives him a lick of A-flat. That's a I, IV, V interval, or "Louie Louie" chords to you non-music-theorists. Which means one of the first things I'm going to be able to teach my son is the 12-bar blues.

So far he's resisting, preferring to interrupt the jam in progress with another replay of "The Wheels on the Bus" in A-nnoying. But I'm not giving up. He's past the seven-month mark, and if he's going to be another Mozart we have to get on the stick. He's going to get the blues one way or another. I'll keep you posted.

Today's best search phrase: "Anakin and pamie in star wars pictures." Pam, is there something you're not telling us?

posted by M. Giant 10:00 PM 12 comments


Exersaucers are still used, it is the walkers that are illfavored. We just had to store Fuller's exersaucer until the next baby because Fuller is definitely too big for it now. He loved his saucer. He would spin and spin and spin until I got dizzy. He would jump and rock and squeal with glee. And I would get 30- 80 minutes of time where I could fold laundry, make dinner, or sit and read your blog. Now I just watch him roll around on the floor, trying desperately to figure out how to crawl. So far we have butt in the air, knees under, arms move forward, belly flop, repeat until frustrated and start crying. It kind of entertains me.

By Anonymous mrscrumley, at May 22, 2005 at 3:12 AM  

I beg your pardon, it was me who believed it came from "container," sir.

By Blogger Linda, at May 22, 2005 at 6:03 AM  

We had an exersaucer back in 1999. Loved it. Many tasks could be completed while Ethan was in it. And it was easily transported. One day while we were getting ready to head to grammas house I plopped my fresh, sweet, clean baby into his exersaucer and proceeded to collect all of the baby crap needed when visiting overnight. 10 minutes later we were ready to rock. I picked Ethan up and noticed he had poo'ed that liquidy poo we all know...His exersaucer turned into a neat spinart kind of thing. Needless to say another bath for the rugrat and a hosing down and scrubbing with Lysol was necessary for the exersaucer. My advice is: Make sure baby is wearing pants when placed into the exersaucer...not just a onesie. My work here is done.

By Anonymous Judy, at May 22, 2005 at 7:44 AM  

I think the full search phrase must have been:

"Anakin and pamie in star wars pictures" + "pamie doesn't know who Anakin is because she's never seen these movies." I can't even figure out what that person must have been trying to find.

M. Tiny looks like the pit boss at one of those casino games you're too scared to try, like pai gow or the Wheel of Fortune. Step right up, little lady, and give the Intellitainer a spin.

By Blogger pamie, at May 22, 2005 at 7:11 PM  

Wow - it's been 7 months. Doesn't it seem like just yesterday that M. Tiny came into this crazy world? Soon it will be his first day of school.

By Anonymous Jennifer, at May 23, 2005 at 5:48 AM  

I'm one of the reasons the walkers don't exist anymore. I took a header down the basement stairs trying to follow my big sister, a pile of laundry saved my life.

The intellitainer looks much more cool than the excersaucers do, and anything that let's you go to the bathroom without someone crying in the background is heaven sent.

By Anonymous ckatz, at May 23, 2005 at 6:55 AM  

Not to be too much like my mother, but how did any of us survive? I zipped around our house in a walker, rode my bike without a helmet and ate both bugs and dirt. I guess we were just lucky.

Of course I'm not saying you should go out and buy a walker -- I just think it's funny.

By Anonymous Renee, at May 23, 2005 at 7:29 AM  

M. Tiny's thought bubble might say "Ground control to Major Tom..." I think there's not much of anything cuter than a busy baby. ~Laura

By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 23, 2005 at 9:20 AM  

He appears to be in training to become the pilot of a living ship like Farscape's Leviathan, Moya.

What, me, a huge geek? Never.

By Anonymous ginger, at May 23, 2005 at 10:19 AM  

What I am really digging is what's on M. Tiny's head. This is a pit boss with style, kind of rocking the "Spirit of '76."

By Blogger Diane, at May 25, 2005 at 2:25 PM  

When I saw that, my first thought was that he was in a little DJ booth. From your description, I wasn't too far wrong. Awesome infant containment.

Search typo, huh? Pamie = Padme?

By Blogger Dimestore Lipstick, at May 26, 2005 at 9:09 AM  

I read this entry (I just got back from maternity leave, so I'm behind) Friday and bought the thing over the weekend. Our four-month-old LOVES it. She's pooped in it twice already, which means it's very special to her. Kind of a pain in the ass to put together, but well worth it. I still can't believe I spent 70 bucks on a toy, but whatever.

By Anonymous Vanessa, at June 20, 2005 at 9:52 AM  

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