Friday, November 14, 2008

Focus on Holiday Photo Projects

Holiday Cards:
Our holiday photo cards are already printed, and waiting to be addressed. We're not bragging, it's just that we're astonished to be done so early -- all because we discovered a really fun website that made creating the card easier than ever. Once you have selected a photo (we prefer a single, great shot to the collage approach) go to Tiny Prints and peruse their many card designs. They make it easy to see how your image looks on the card, and will send you a proof before they print your order. We've used other well-known sites for online printing in years past (with fine results) but are mad about Tiny Prints' fresh designs. Also, their customer service is stellar -- to woo KOTC subscribers, Tiny Prints is offering $10 off for every order over $99 until 12/2/08 (use discount code SAVE10NOW at checkout).

Memory Books:
Our favorite gift to give is a scrap book of images from the year as it draws to a close -- a keepsake for parents and child! We create very high quality books through MyPublisher, whose user-friendly website works with your computer's photo program. You'll have to download their BookMaker program (free), but we promise the process is very intuitive and if you get stuck, the tutorials are also simple to follow. Ordering multiple books brings the price down, making this a fun choice for family gifts, or sports teams. Tip: Sign up through the Costco website (with your membership number) for significant discounts.

Making a calendar with the year's best photos is also a great holiday gift -- our twist on this tradition is to compile photos of all the cousins and make a calendar for the grandparents. Both Apple's iPhoto and Shutterfly have good programs which allow you to customize the calendar with family birthdays and other important dates. Poke around each site as various discounts are available if you can get organized before the holiday crunch.

Now.... if only we had a quick tip for writing notes on all those cards!

Diane and Sarah
Founders, Kids Off The Couch

Monday, November 10, 2008

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa + Wildlife Safari Animal Park or Zoo Visit

A Beastly Good Time

Temper tantrums, eye rolls and spotty table manners seem beastly enough when coming from your own sweet darlings, but Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (which opens this Friday), features a band of animals who embody admirable human traits, like fierce loyalty and toleration of differences among friends. This lusciously animated sequel to the 2005 blockbuster follows the escapades of four Zoo-raised animals who find themselves out of their urban element in the African plains. Our tribe loved revisiting their animal pals from the first film and roared throughout this rollicking tale of family and friendship. Inspired to meet some of those kingly beasts up close, we drove down to our local Wild Animal Park, and jumped into jeeps for a photo caravan through the park where the animals roamed cage-free. Our kids got close enough to lions to examine their paws (behind a special glass barrier) and were thrilled to serve lunch to a herd of giraffe. While a trip to your local Zoo is both geographically and economically more efficient, the safari let us feel like we adventured to Africa for a few hours. (Click here for our review and for more on visiting a wild animal reserve.)