There aren’t too many shows my 8-year-old and 4-year-old can agree on, but ever since we switched our cable TV carrier to Verizon, the Sprout network is one channel that’s become a consistent favorite. I’m not sure if it’s for nostalgic reasons (we had Sprout when we rented a vacation house in Massachusetts last summer), or because it’s just plain fun (the hosts, setting and silly songs offer a campy feel that you don’t see much these days), but they love it. So when we got wind of the news that the network’s beloved co-host Chica would be getting her own show, and that actor Mario Lopez would be joining the cast of Sprout’s “The Sunny Side Up Show,” my girls were over the moon. For this mom, I can’t get the image of Mario from his “Saved by The Bell” days out of my head (his “Dancing With the Stars” persona has nothing on his former self!). In this new acting venture, Mario will be the voice behind Stitches, a friend to Chica and fellow preschool adventurer. We’re excited to see what they’ll be up later this year when “The Chica Show” premieres. In the meantime, you can catch Mario himself this Friday, June 29 on “The Sunny Side Up Show” at 9 a.m EST. Last one there is a rotten egg!
School’s out for summer, and that’s means a lot more drive time together with the kiddies. If you’re looking for some new music to accompany your many treks to the library, grocery store and any other destination with little passengers in tow, be sure to include the latest release from The Cat’s Pajamas. This isn’t your everyday band of parent rockers. In fact, rumor has it that the members range in age from 20-60, with a grandma in the group and three more expected to become grandparents in September. Let’s just say these folks put the “active” in AARP! But enough about age…their newest CD, Backseat Driver, truly demonstrates their staying power. From “Funky Bears,” a modern twist on Goldilocks, to “Take Time Out,” a well-versed track paying homage to properly-handled punishment (maybe listeners can even glean a lesson from it), their play list is as diverse as their unique sound: a mix of jazz, blues, rock and Latin. Our hands-down favorite is “Shovelin’,” the perfect antidote to a summertime heat wave with amazing harmonica accompaniment to match. No matter the season, Backseat Driver is ready to hit the road.
In a Nutshell: Swap out for tired tracks for some vibrant, pulsating new music for your next family road trip or staycation.
“Take me out to the ballgame,” cries your baby one balmy summer eve. With your husband clearly on board with the prospect of a night out at the stadium, he jumps online to buy tickets faster than you can say “peanuts and crackerjacks.” Not so fast: where exactly is this little person going to sit? Lugging a heavy car seat through those crowds isn’t realistic, nor is a stroller in the stadium. What’s a diehard baseball fan to do? Fortunately, the folks at Moby Wrap have just the ticket. Their line of MLB Edition Moby Wraps are exactly what we’ve been rooting for. These wearable, 100-percent cotton baby carriers are perfect for keeping your little one close, while enjoying the game. Whether you’re a Dodgers fan or cheering for the Cubs, there’s a wrap for you. As New Yorkers, we’d be remiss if we didn’t go for the Mets wrap, which will be available next month. Whichever Moby Wrap you choose, just be sure to “root, root, root for the home team”–and wear it proudly.
In a Nutshell: You’ll hit a home run when your baby is outfitted in one of these sporty wraps.
I’m not sure why I remember the odd things that I do from being a new mom, but one particular memory stands out: my daughter’s nursery being littered with formula-stained bottles that I had forgotten to put in the dishwasher. It didn’t happen every day, mind you, but every so often, I would finish an early morning feeding and return to my bedroom in a half-asleep stupor with the bottle left behind (it’s a wonder I remembered to turn out the light in the nursery!). Blame it on mommy brain, if you will, but seeing that used bottle really irked me. What time exactly had I been in her room, anyway? If you’re equally hard on yourself as a new mom who’s trying to keep everything straight, but sometimes can barely tell which end is up, then the Serenity Star is for you. A handy little device, this nursery aid will become your new best friend upon your baby’s arrival. This star-shaped feeding/sleeping system is almost like a baby Blackberry, keeping track of all your baby care needs. Among its built-in tools are: an electronic feeding diary, a nightlight, sound machine, clock and room temperature indicator. Not sure if the last feeding was at 2 or 4 a.m.? Plug the info into the Serenity Star, and you won’t have to guess if that crying is from hunger pangs. Baby a little fussy when she goes down? Active the sound machine, and she’ll be treated to a choice of lullabies, white noise or even a heartbeat. The Serenity Star is so calming, it just may help you drift off to Dreamland, too. Just try not to leave any bottles behind…
In a Nutshell: A multitasking nursery tool for new moms. Because let’s face it: you can’t possibly remember everything with only 4 hours of sleep.
Today was my daughter’s end-of-school class breakfast, during which these rising third graders were treated to a feast of bagels, muffins, OJ and fresh fruit. Because one of her classmates has a gluten allergy, parties like these aren’t exactly cause for celebration. Rather than sample the homemade or store-bought treats supplied by the collective parent ensemble, this student must dip into his stash of wheat-free mini cupcakes that the school nurse stores for him. His mom tells me he’s gotten used to this routine by now, but that it wasn’t always easy. In fact, it was only earlier this month on Field Day that he wasn’t sure whether he could indulge in one of the parent-provided ice pops (after careful consideration of the packaging label, turns out he was). When a child has a food allergy, you can never be too careful, whether it’s at a class party, school event or any celebration. And for kids who are younger and may not be as vigilant about their health as their parent or another adult might, it helps to have a little helper. Designed by a parent in this very situation, AllerMates was born. This functional, yet fashionable wristband alert caregivers to a potential health hazard for the child donning them. These clever bracelets are not unlike the ones kids sport today for a common cause; adorned with one of 15 unique characters, each wristband represents a different allergy, from asthma to peanuts. We think it’s a hip way to play safe it.
In a Nutshell: Take the guesswork out of protecting your allergy-prone child with these insightful wristbands.
Tis the season of strollers! Spring is in full swing and summer, right around the corner. While my 4-year-old and I were in town today, I couldn’t help but notice how the sidewalks were being taken over by strollers. Nearly every which way we looked, moms were running errands with their little ones in tow, happily bouncing along. Since I review kids’ products, I’m always paying close attention to the gear I encounter on a daily basis, and I have to admit: I’m suffering from a mild case of stroller envy. When my first daughter was born, the Bugaboo was the fashionable choice and by the time my little one arrived on the scene, the pram was back in style. Amazingly, today, there are no shortage of stroller choices and the latest model from Mutsy has currently captured our attention. Appropriately dubbed EVO, this high-performance vehicle embodies just how much the baby buggy has evolved over the years. You can use it right from the beginning, thanks to its reclining seat that faces backward (ideal for newborns) or forward (for older babies looking to take in their surroundings). A full recline position lets sleeping babes stretch out with plenty of space, and there’s a footrest to provide extra comfort for tired tootsies. We really love the ultra-deep storage bin where moms can stash their diaper bag and still have room for any purchases they make along the way. Available in brown, black, white or navy, the Mutsy EVO Stroller is perfect for the mom and kid on-the-go…know anybody like that?
In a Nutshell: A stroller that knows how to get around town, and looks great while doing it.
Has your kid come home from school yet with a Father’s Day gift? My preschooler’s “special surprise” is safely nestled inside a paper bag decorated with colorful artwork. My 8-year-old has yet to make something, but it’s on this week’s to-do list. Because the best gifts are of the homemade variety (or at least, they’re the most memorable ones), it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get crafty. But if you’re pressed for time and would rather not break out the rainy day box of supplies, consider doing double-duty on your trip to the mall this weekend. On Saturday, June 16th at 3 pm and 4 pm, participating Pottery Barn Kids stores will be partnering with Kiwi Crate to host a craft event. For $10, kids will be able to make their own “stained glass” picture frame for Dad or Grandpa (not to worry; it’ll be a safe activity with no sharp edges). So while you’re looking for the latest gadget at The Sharper Image or a new set of golf clubs at The Sports Authority, you can swing on over to PBK and let your little one show your hubby just have creative she truly is. To RSVP and check for local stores in your area, visit Pottery Barn Kids online
In a Nutshell: A picture may be worth a thousand words, but an original creation from your child is priceless.
I’ve always been envious of babies in cozy cover-ups–and it’s not just because I detest cold weather. When my daughters were younger, I got such a kick out of snuggling them into their zip-up car seat-ups as I schlepped them around town. Just the thought of seeing only their little heads peeking out gave me the giggles (or maybe I was just punchy from being so sleep-deprived). Whatever the reason, the very act of being all wrapped up with one, quick zip–rather than being stuffed inside blankets that easily came undone and dragged on the ground–was sheer genius…but one that wouldn’t still benefit from some improvement. That’s part of the reason we love the Pookie Poncho Light from 7 am Enfant. This multitasking product is a lightweight baby carrier, carseat carrier and stroller carrier, all in one. The fleece lining is ideal for keeping your little one warm, minus the overheating. But what really sets this product apart is in the details: When the Pookie Poncho is being used as a front carrier, you can warm your own hands by tucking them in the side slits. And when your baby is snuggled in her stroller, it’s her turn to keep those precious digits snug. We’re smitten with the fashionable orange peel model (so Sundance!). This fall, it will also be available in lilac, marron glace, midnight blue and black. Who says you and your baby can’t look–and feel–good in winter weather?
When your husband is a bona fide punk rock fan, your kids get exposed to music (if you can call it that) that wouldn’t exactly make it on to Mom’s iPod in this universe. While he may be smart enough not to add the Sex Pistols or Dead Kennedys to his playlist just yet, you can be sure The Ramones, Billy Idol and The Cramps all get equal time…and that’s alright by me. Diverse musical tastes make the world go round, and plus our kids will never be able to accuse us of subjecting them to the same songs over and over. In honor of Father’s Day, we salute fellow punk dads who are more at ease rockin’ out to Lou Reed than Laurie Berkner (no offense, Ms. B.) with a new release meant just for them. KinderAngst packs a mean punch in its 14 tracks, paying homage to childhood rituals that are anything but traditional. “Let’s Play” shows what happens when a playdate goes sour, while “Bubble” is perfect accompaniment to bathtime. Debby Harry fans will relish never-before-released “Do It Yourself,” a nod to the ever-independent preschooler who may take 15 minutes to put on her shoes, but gosh darnnit, she did it! By the time the end track, “Be Kind To Your Parents” rolls around, you may finally be able to appreciate what you put your own parents through…and smile knowingly at the prospect of history repeating itself.
I don’t claim to be good at math. I may have inherited my dad’s good looks (!), but most definitely not his knack for doing complicated calculations in his head. My 8-year-old, on the other hand, seems to devour numbers and relishes challenging equations. So when we find a board game that truly tests her math prowess and keeps her engaged, we know we’ve got a keeper. Robbin’ Eggs keeps kids on their toes, even if they count on their fingers. Just like a good math problem, the concept is straightforward. Players roll the dice and then turn over eggs to get the sum as close to the number on the dice. The catch? Some numbers are positive, others negative; if your kid can do quick addition/subtraction on the fly, and she’s got a good memory to boot, then she’ll be a pro at this game. But not so fast…for those whiz kids who think they’ve got this game in the bag, pay close attention to the silly rules on your card and to your fellow players who might steal an egg before you can get to it! In the end, the player with the lowest score wins. How’s that for new math?…
In a Nutshell: Egg-cellent game play for ages 7+, Robbin’ Eggs is a reality check for mini math geniuses and a great way to beat the summer slump.