If you think you’re the only one in your family psyched for the new fall TV line-up, you’re dead wrong. My 4-year-old has been watching and waiting for this Monday’s premiere of “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” ever since she saw the promo earlier this summer. If the title alone conjures up memories from your childhood TV watching days, then you’re in good company. Turns out the PBS Kids’ animated series was indeed inspired by “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.” But this time, it’s a tame feline who’s leading the pack–and donning a fetching cardigan as an endearing nod to his predecessor. As Daniel begins each episode by tying his sneakers and inviting viewers to join him on his journey with his animal friends, we can’t help but think this show will have universal preschool appeal. And we’ve no doubt Mr. Rogers would approve, too.
In a Nutshell: “Nashville” and “Park Avenue” may be your top TV picks this fall, but for kids ages 2-4, “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” is the place to be. The show premieres on PBS Kids on Monday, September 3. Check local listings for times.
It’s been a long, hot summer, and my kids are ready for a long winter’s nap…or maybe that’s just me. These days, it seems like the season’s novelty of tons of free time, beach days galore and outdoor play has finally worn off and everyone is getting on each other’s nerves a little too quickly. Even my cat has been howling a bit too much lately. So when “Catchin’ Some Peazzz,” a new CD of lullabies ‘magically’ landed on my desk, I took it as a sign and popped it in the player during a recent cranky lunchtime. “What’s this?,” my 8-year-old inquired. “I like the title.” (Catchy, that one is–and I don’t just mean my kid.) My 4-year-old, who had been crying about her jelly sandwich just minutes earlier, suddenly perked up when she heard the band’s unique version of “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.” “That doesn’t sound like the one I know,” she said and then added, “But I like it.” (See, miracles do happen.) For any parent who’s been on the receiving end of one too many meltdowns, “Catchin’ Some Peazzz” is the antidote to cranky kids. Whether you’re winding down before bedtime, or just dealing with a case of the summertime blues, this CD of easy-listening kid tunes is like comfort food for your too-tired head. The same one that deserves a nice, fluffy pillow on which to lay down. Nighty-night…
In a Nutshell: Put on your PJs, grab Teddy and hunker down with a lovely collection of sleep-inducing lullabies. (Just tell ‘em your practicing turning in early for the first day of school.)
As my family and I wrap up a week’s vacation in coastal Maine, we can head for home, confident in the fact that we’ve completed all the requisite Maine specialties: We visited a lighthouse, sampled just-picked blueberries and, of course, gorged ourselves on lobster (well, maybe not all of us, but my husband was definitely had his fair share). And no matter the destination, what’s a vacation without a good book? My husband and I are happily devouring our selected reads, but I also wanted to make sure that my girls had some fun reading of their own. I was especially delighted when I saw that the picture book I had packed had made its way into area bookstores and gift shops from Portland to Portsmouth. The aptly named Crustacean Vacation is a fitting title for a summertime adventure. Set against a beach backdrop, this charming story follows a family of crabs as they spend the days lolling in the sun, catching some waves and doing all the things expected from a seaside soiree. My girls marveled over the fact that this crabby crew shared many of the same experiences that they had done that very day, like visiting a zoo/amusement park, to jumping in the frothy surf. While my husband and I might have envied the crab parents who had some times to themselves, we could certainly relate to the tongue-in-cheek crabbiness of the worn-out kids by day’s end. A delightful reading romp for anyone headed to the shore with the kids, Crustacean Vacation helps make the joys of summer last a little bit longer.
In a Nutshell: This endearing picture book will allow you and your kids to revisit summer vacation memories, long after their swimsuit suntan lines have faded.
Getting ready for vacation always puts our family in a good mood. But packing for the trip? Not so much. Trying to figure out just how many books/stuffed animals/toys can be crammed into our generously sized car still proves challenging. That means there is only so much space for kiddie DVDs and CDs (or at least, that’s what we tell them). This summer, however, we don’t mind making room for some of the newer, travel-friendly releases that put even our “driver” in a toe-tapping mood. Among the ones we’ve got our ear buds plugged into this season is The Harmonica Pocket’s Apple Apple. Not only is it seasonally appropriate, as the summer days segue into autumn, but it offers a fine balance between lively sing-alongs and low-key little ditties for tolerating traffic jams. “I’m Gonna Count” makes a nice alternative to the license-plate counting game, while “Diaperman” and “Little, Little Baby” had my daughters laughing and cooing simultaneously over the real baby sounds. Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out the super-cool harmonica playing on this release. Kind of puts us in a lazy-days-of-summer mode….just right for vacation.
In a Nutshell: This road trip-ready release makes a fine choice for family vacations, or any other time you can sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.
Just because the Olympics are over, doesn’t mean the excitement of Team USA doesn’t live on, even when it comes to playtime. My 4-year-old’s summer camp fashioned gold medals out of sparkly glitter and construction paper, while a childhood friend’s kids turned a manicure into a opportunity to display their patriotism with red, white and blue fingernails. Maybe that’s why the timing couldn’t be better for the new line of American Girl Crafts, inspired by McKenna Brooks. Dubbed the 2012 Girl of the Year by American Girl, the aspiring gymnast is the focus of this collection of craft kits that let girls dream big as they express their creativity. Whether they share their heartfelt sentiments with family and friends using the Super Spirit Card-Making Pad and celebrate girl power with Color Coded Friendship Bracelets, there are plenty of activities to keep them occupied. Ideal for either a group crafting session with friends or a solo project, the American Girl Crafts line makes for an entertaining way to enjoy the remaining days of summer vacation’s down time, and have something to show for it.
In a Nutshell: The latest American Girl Crafts invite you to show your good sportsmanship–and show off your artistic talents.
In my house, we go through paper towel like water; practically every time I turn around, it’s time to replace the now-empty roll with a new one. And while I aim to clip coupons whenever a brand I like is on sale, I am particularly fussy about which products I use. Once the colder weather rolls around, I tend to favor the softer towels with the thicker plush–much more kind on my seasonal eczema. Of course, like every mom trying to save the planet, one small sandwich baggie at a time, I do my best to cut down on waste. So, when I received a sample of Bambooee resuable paper towel, I thought maybe it could help me do a better job–both at planet-protecting and skin-soothing. At first touch, this paper towels are noticeably soft and gentle on hands (and even tender noses when wiping up ice pop-stained faces). I’ll admit that their softness took a bit of getting used to–I kept looking down to see if I’d grabbed a hand towel from the bathroom by mistake–but after a short time we caught on. Made from eco-friendly bamboo, these paper towels look and feel different from your standard roll, but amazingly they are reusable. Rather than crumple them up after drying my hands, I left a few squares out on the counter and went back to them several times; they stood up to small spills and repeated hand-washing…and even absolved me of some guilt! Now while Bambooee towels don’t run cheap, you’ll save a bundle if you plan to use them over and over.
In a Nutshell: Cost-conscious shoppers may not be turned on right away, but for those who’ll gladly change their ways to go green, these towels are worth checking out.
Today, my 4-year-old unearthed a snail-shaped teether we had saved from her teeth-cutting days. I remember she would happily gnaw on whatever she could get her little hands on: from shiny spoons, to board books. And whenever I dressed up and donned a strand of colorful beads, she instantly gravitated toward my jewelry and, much to my horror, popped them in her mouth as though they were candy. If you have an equally curious baby with a penchant for pendants, then you’ll breathe a sigh of relief that there’s a cool product out there that may look like costume jewelry, but secretly doubles as a tempting teether. Rock-ease by Teethease is an attractive necklace of 7 stone-shaped beads fashioned from soft, flexible silicone. Not only are they PVC- and BPA-free, but the beads are dishwasher-safe, so you can effectively keep them drool-proof. We think Rock-ease teethers look so stylish, you’d never know they were designed especially for moms and grandmas who love their baubles as much as their babies! Available in turquoise, grey marble and sandstone, these wearable teethers are the perfect gift for the woman who doesn’t need a little chomper to put a crimp in her style.
In a Nutshell: Don’t let your favorite jewelry act as a baby magnet; dress up safely with a necklace that just may “taste” as good as it looks.
My 8-year-old’s best friend went on an African safari earlier this year, and truly had a chance to explore the wild. While a trip to the Bronx Zoo is as close to the animals as our family will probably get, there are still plenty of entertaining and educational ways to experience the wonders of the animal kingdom without leaving home. Uncle Milton’s new Nat Geo Wild line of puzzles, toys and games spotlight the many inhabitants that make up our jungles, oceans, rainforests and other natural surroundings. We got our paws on the African Safari Dominoes, featuring up-close-and-personal photography so lifelike, you’ll almost feel like the animals are right there with you. Not only does this game have an easy-to-follow format (think regular domino rules, minus the dots), but it comes packaged in a portable metal tin, making it ideal for summer travel. Other highlights in the line include a bug vacuum in the likeness of an ant eater and puzzles featuring the most darling baby animals. So, if you can’t make it to the zoo before school starts up, break out the Nat Geo games and have yourselves a wild time! Uncle Milton’s Nat Geo Wild line is currently available at Barnes & Noble stores.
In a Nutshell: Go on a safari during playtime, and learn a thing or two about the vast world that we share with creatures great and small. No passport required.
How many Cheerios and Goldfish do you think your toddler has consumed? One look at the backseat of your minivan, and you can answer with certainty: A LOT! You may not realize it, but even little kids get tired of eating the same snack foods over and over (in fact, multiple mini boxes of raisins have been blamed on many a meltdown…we kid you not). If you’ve been noticing that your little one has turning up her adorable nose at her favorite snack food, it’s time to break out of that rut and try something new–and nutritious. We’re finding ourselves going ga-ga over Little Duck Organics’ Tiny Fruits. This assortment of 100-percent organic dried fruits are especially tasty, not to mention healthy. There’s no sugar added and they’re gluten-free. Plus their bite-sized shape makes it easier for even the littlest foodies to grasp and enjoy. We got our hands on a sample of these mouth-watering treats and loved that they had just enough flavor without being overly sweet. Available in fun fruit combos like apple/banana, strawberry/mango, blueberry/apple and, our favorite, pineapple/mango, Tiny Fruits have rightfully earned themselves a spot in the kiddie snack food drawer.
In a Nutshell: Banish the snack-food doldrums with a healthy treat for your favorite toddler, and everything will be just ducky.
Sometimes, when I can’t fall asleep, I stare at the ceiling and count sheep. And when I’m not busy composing lyrical poetry, I’m recalling silly moments that take me back to a time when life was a lot simpler and a lot less hectic. Like when my college roommate and I noticed that our dorm room’s ceiling had been decorated to look like the Milky Way. Upon turning out the lights during our first night at school, we realized that our previous tenants had left dozens upon dozens of glow-in-the dark stars and moons on the ceiling, turning our otherwise dull room into a heavenly spectacle. No wonder we slept like babies that night. As you create a dream space for your own child, do you consider what gives them a sense of calm, a peacefulness that carries on long after you’ve shut the door? We think all babies deserve a crib mobile that lets them fixate on something entertaining, and when they’re ready to drift off, a lullaby to ensure a good night’s sleep. Tiny Love’s new My Nature Pals Mobile is just the ticket. As a smiling-faced bird, ladybug and bird spin overhead, your little is treated to a half-hour of soothing songs and soft lighting. Particular parents will appreciate the flexibility of the optional music/lights (pick either or both, depending on your little one’s mood). And once she’s outgrown her crib mobile, you can detach it and hang on to the music box. After all, who doesn’t appreciate a lullaby every now and then?
In a Nutshell: Dream a little dream, and treat your sleepy babe to a mobile that provides hours of stimulation–and (hopefully) shut-eye.