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Heather Bays' Etsy Store

20 Delightfully Geeky Baby Toys

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Heather Bays' Etsy Store

Just because you were lucky enough to forgo pop music and trash television doesn’t mean your little one will be so lucky. But if you want to start your baby off on the right path as soon as possible, you can always help push him or her into geekdom with one of these great baby toys.

1. Vampire Pacifier

Whether your little angel is an Anne Rice, Bram Stoker, or Twilight fan in training, ThinkGeek’s pacifier fangs are a great way to make him grow to love his inner vampire.

2. Handlebar Mustache Pacifier

If your baby was just born to love Victrola records and Penny Farthing bicycles, then this fantastic handlebar mustache pacifier from appropriately named Etsy seller BabyHipsters is a must.

3. Golden Snitch Rattle

Just because your child probably won’t receive a letter inviting him to Hogwarts doesn’t mean that you can’t train him to be a professional quiddich player from an early age. If you want a champion seeker, start him out with this golden snitch rattle from Etsy seller ThreeDegrees.

4. Yoshi Egg Rattle

Teach your child the value of old-school games so they can appreciate why Yoshi, Tetris, and Pac-Man are so fantastic. Start your babe young with Etsy seller HandmadeMonster's rattle that looks like Yoshi’s egg.

5. Dr. Mario Pill Rattle

Etsy seller 72stitches' Dr. Mario rattles are great because they will not only get your child interested in classic Nintendo games from an early age, but they may also inspire your little angel to go into medicine—and who doesn’t want their baby to grow up to be a doctor?

6. Mario Baby Rattle

Etsy seller Mama24Boyz sells a PDF pattern of these designs for anyone interested in crocheting their very own Mario Bros. baby rattles. Yarn, needle, and intermediate crochet experience sold separately.

7. Eye Ball Rattle

Have you sworn to train your child how to survive the zombie apocalypse? Then get her started early with Etsy seller HandmadeMonster's eye ball rattle so she can become desensitized to the inevitable violence and gore that will take over the world in those dark days to come.

8. Cthulhu Rattle

Prefer your horror to be a little more psychological than a typical zombie gore-fest? Then interest your child in Lovecraft and the Cthulhu mythos with this cute little crocheted Cthulhu rattle by Etsy seller HeatherBays.

9. Death Star Rattle

If your baby Jedi is ready to destroy his first Death Star, start him off easy with this adorable baby rattle version by Etsy seller SincereCostumes. Sure, it will take a lot of spit, dirt and vomit to destroy this soft version, but like all Death Stars, it has its weak spots.

10. Lightsaber Rattle

Etsy seller Geek-a-Bye Baby sells all kinds of great geek baby goodies. This lightsaber rattle, for example, is a great way to accustom your child to using the Force from an early age.

11. Yoda Rattle

Similarly, Geek-a-Bye Baby’s Yoda rattle provides an excellent chance for you to expose your youngster to the light side of the Force before she ever learns that the dark side likes to bribe young recruits with cookies.

12. Doctor Hoo Owl

For geek parents who prefer the TARDIS to the Millennium Falcon, Geek-a-Baby’s adorable plush “Doctor Hoo” owl, based on Number 11, can help introduce your little companion to the wide world of Whovianism.

13. Dalek Plushies

These pastel yarn Daleks by Etsy seller fassbaby may not destroy the world, but be careful—they might just steal your baby’s heart. Aside from being adorable, they also feature a jingling bell inside so even before your little one can really grasp what it means to be The Doctor’s greatest nemesis, she’ll understand why the Daleks have been a fan-favorite since the sixties.

14. The One Ring Teether

This One Ring teether by Etsy seller averyrayne won’t make your baby invisible, but it might help the pains of teething disappear. Just make sure you take it away before she is old enough to start calling it “my precious.”

15. Nintendo Controller Teether

NinTeeth-o might not be as popular as Nintendo, but when your baby is teething, he’ll certainly appreciate this wooden controller by Etsy seller 3PrincessStore over the plastic game controller he’ll grow to love as he gets older.

16. Batman Teether

If you want your kid to grow up ready to take a bite out of crime, then get him started on the right path with this Batman teether by Etsy seller TeethME. It’s a much better way to start him on his road to superherodom than letting him become an orphan.

17. Superhero Rubber Duckies

It’s important to make bath time fun for your young ones or else you’re going to have a hard time getting them to scrub up as they get older. If you want to help make your babe’s bath fun and geeky, then grab one of these superhero rubber duckies.

18. Scrabble Building Blocks

Some parents want to teach their children the value of a dollar, but for others, the value of Scrabble letters can be just as important. These Scrabble blocks by Etsy seller TheBlackSpot are a great way to get your child familiar with Scrabble tiles before she can even spell the word “Scrabble.”

19. Presidential Building Blocks

Get your little one addicted to history from a young age with these Presidential Building Blocks that feature images and facts about all 44 presidents. When stacked in the proper manner, the blocks come together to form an American flag.

20. Periodic Table Blocks

Just because your little one is too young to read doesn’t mean she’s too young for science. Now you can begin to instill elemental knowledge before elementary school with these periodic table building blocks.

I regret that I can’t weigh in on the effectiveness of such great geek goodies as I don’t have any youngsters yet. But do any of you Flosser parents have any other useful tips on how to get your child interested in geek culture before they can even speak?

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Food
This Couple Has Spent the Past 30 Years Visiting Every Cracker Barrel in the U.S.
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Ray and Wilma Yoder are probably America's foremost amateur experts on Cracker Barrel restaurants. As Eater reports, the Indiana couple is on a 30-year quest to eat at every single Cracker Barrel in the U.S. And they’ve almost completed it.

Ray Yoder of Goshen, Indiana, first started going to Cracker Barrel regularly when he worked delivering RVs across the country. Soon, Wilma was coming along, too, and the couple began hunting down Cracker Barrel locations in earnest, a pastime they’ve pursued for the past three decades.

Cracker Barrel got its start in Lebanon, Tennessee, in 1969, and according to Ray, visiting the restaurants while on the road felt like being at home. “It has a down-home spirit, and everybody is friendly,” he told the Lebanon Democrat. He told the paper that stopping at Cracker Barrels helped relieve boredom when he was on the road.

Ray and Wilma Yoder stand in front of two RVs outside a Cracker Barrel.
Now, he and Wilma are celebrities to those in the Cracker Barrel know. Cracker Barrel’s corporate leadership invites them to opening day at new stores. Employees know of them, and sometimes they receive gift baskets when they come in to cross a new Cracker Barrel off their list. People ask to take their picture when they visit.

The 80-year-olds have just two rules for their visits: At each location, they always buy something, even if it’s just a cup of coffee, and leave a tip. There’s no limit on how many Cracker Barrels they’ll go to in a single day, though. They once visited 10 different locations on a drive along the East Coast. Overall, their Cracker Barrel adventure has taken them more than 5 million miles across 44 states.

The Yoders recently visited their 644th Cracker Barrel, attending a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new location in Lavonia, Georgia, in early July. They’re hoping to hit up the last Cracker Barrel on their list—until the next one opens, that is—by heading to Tualatin, Oregon, sometime later this year.

Update: Portland news station KGW reports that the Yoders have now completed their quest, stopping in at the Tualatin Cracker Barrel on August 28. The company flew them to Oregon for the occasion, which marked the end of their 645-restaurant journey. For now, at least.

[h/t Eater]

All images courtesy Cracker Barrel

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Animals
Watch a Panda Caretaker Cuddle With Baby Pandas While Dressed Up Like a Panda
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Some people wear suits to work—but at one Chinese nature reserve, a handful of lucky employees get to wear panda suits.

As Travel + Leisure reports, the People's Daily released a video in July of animal caretakers cuddling with baby pandas at the Wolong National Nature Reserve in China's Sichuan Province. The keepers dress in fuzzy black-and-white costumes—a sartorial choice that's equal parts adorable and imperative to the pandas' future success in the wild.

Researchers raise the pandas in captivity with the goal of eventually releasing them into their natural habitat. But according to The Atlantic, human attachment can hamper the pandas' survival chances, plus it can be stressful for the bears to interact with people. To keep the animals calm while acclimating them to forest life, the caretakers disguise their humanness with costumes, and even mask their smell by smearing the suits with panda urine and feces. Meanwhile, other keepers sometimes conceal themselves by dressing up as trees.

Below, you can watch the camouflaged panda caretakers as they cuddle baby pandas:

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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