It’s not even December 1st, and I’ve already heard “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” so many times, I’m beginning to take issue with the song’s title. Nothing against Andy Williams, but overplaying those Christmas carols is an easy way to drain you of any holiday spirit. If you’re looking for something fresh for your December playlist, and your listening audience includes the wee ones, give a listen to Renee & Jeremy’s Sunny Christmas. This duo will take the jitter out of your jingle with six oh-so-calming tracks, you’ll be dubbing this a mellow merry medley. From “Deck the Halls” to “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” you’re bound to find a favorite among this assortment. And if you’re looking for something a little different, try the title track, a warm tribute to spreading holiday joy. Because each song’s rhythm is gentle on the eardrums, we think it’s ideal pre-bedtime music for helping wind down those wired and worn out kiddies.
In a Nutshell: A soundtrack for the season, this holiday CD is great accompaniment for card writing, gift wrapping or settling down for a long winter’s nap.
If my dad were alive to see his 8-year-old granddaughter, I think he’d be impressed. This is one kid who does not shy away from math or science, and if there’s a problem that needs solving, she’s your girl. For all I know, she may one day follow in his footsteps and wind up as an engineer. And considering that we’ve all been hearing about the shortage of female mathematicians and scientists, this would be a most welcome accomplishment. If you know any future math majors who happen to be of the female persuasion, and you’re looking for something to encourage their complex thinking, pay close to attention to a new toy line that’s getting a lot of buzz–and with good reason. GoldieBlox is a book + construction toy series that encourages girls ages 5-9 to roll up their sleeves and get down to work. The play starts out simple–reading the stories of Goldie, a fictional young girl who sets out on adventures with her friends–but the fun builds (literally) from there. As each story progresses, the characters encounter various problems that can only be resolved by building alongside Goldie. GoldieBlox comes with a kid-friendly toolbox of gears, connectors and tops in the likeness of Goldie’s crew–plenty of supplies for busy minds (and future engineers). MIT, here she comes. (GoldieBlox is available for pre-order online and is expected to roll into retail stores by April 2013.)
In a Nutshell: Looking for a gift for the young girl in your life? This book/construction kit combo offers plenty of hands-on play. Problem solved.
When I was in high school, my boyfriend (now husband!) bought me a copy of Margaret Wise Brown’s “The Runaway Bunny.” Because I adored children’s literature–and he wasn’t too bad either–I treasured this charming story of a young rabbit determined to break free from his mother’s strong, yet caring grasp. After we had kids of our own, I relished the moment I could share this quietly beautiful, timeless tale with our girls. Because I can practically recite this story backwards and forwards, it has earned a well-deserved spot on their bookshelf. As much as I do love it, like any parent, who doesn’t tire of reading the same story over and over? (Ah, the curse of introducing your kids to it in the first place!) For any mom or dad who could use a bit of reprieve from all that reading comes a new audiobook with plenty of star power. This holiday season, GPR Records releases Catherine Zeta-Jones narrating “The Runaway Bunny,” Michael Douglas reading “The Story of Babar” and English baritone Mark Stone singing “Goodnight Moon.” The soothing voices of this Hollywood husband/wife duo are balanced by Stone’s rich vocals, creating a CD that will calm any crying babe and relax a frazzled caregiver to boot. Available on CD or as an MP3 download, we think it makes for a welcome gift that any young family will appreciate.
In a Nutshell: Hollywood turns into Dreamland as a handful of celebrated stars lend their voices to classic children’s stories.
When I was a kid, a snow day meant trekking over to the local country club, squeezing between the fence and sledding until the sun set. Never mind the fact that I was trespassing; I was in plenty of good company, as evidenced by the many sled tracks up and down the hilly grounds. I joined my older sister and brother and their friends, happily trudging up and down that blasted hill, with mittens so soaked I could barely feel my fingers. And that was a good thing. I’m lucky that I can relive fond memories like these, thanks to a charming new picture book from Islandport Press. The Iciest, Diciest, Scariest Sled Ride Ever is a fitting title for an especially active story. Anyone who’s ever experienced the excitement of feeling the wind whip past you as you glide downhill in a winter wonderland will surely appreciate this story. And even if you’ve never belly-flopped a Flexible Flyer, you’ll enjoy the tale of these adventurous children who recreate the wonders of slick sledding when they convince their grandfather to loan them his custom-built runner sled. With each turn of the page, vivid watercolor illustrations set the stage for a magical ride that carries readers up and down, and back up again. A delightful romp of a read for all ages, this picture book deserves a spot under the Christmas tree this year…right next to a sled from Santa.
In a Nutshell: Time to dig out your trusty old sled, and find the nearest hill. And when you’re back indoors, you can settle down with this storybook and compare notes.
It’s inescapable. Turn on the radio, and the air will suddenly be filled with the sounds of Burl Ives recalling that famous red-nosed reindeer. Hit the shopping mall, and you’re instantly treated to Bing Crosby wishing it would snow. Even the car wash isn’t immune to Adam Sandler’s “Hannukah Song.” One day after Thanksgiving, and the world instantly converts to Holiday Central. And while we love the classic Christmas carols just as much as the next bunch of elves, who doesn’t love a fresh set of holiday songs? A Laurie Berkner Christmas to the rescue! Packed with 15 seasonal favorites, including three new tracks, this stocking stuffer CD offers plenty of new reasons to sing along as you get ready for the holidays. Berkner puts a refreshing spin on traditional favorites, from “Jingle Bells” to “Frosty the Snowman,” as she lends her unmistakable voice to a spirited selection. New tunes like “Candy Cane Jane” and “Christmas Lights” hold their own, destined to become mainstays on your holiday play list. So, whether you’re trimming the tree or heading out to shop, this CD will be your family’s holiday soundtrack.
In a Nutshell: Holiday music from a favorite kid rocker that’s parent-friendly too is a gift in and of itself.
From the looks of things around Walnut Land, we need a little Christmas…right this very minute. Yup, you heard me right–I’m rushing the season, only because the last few weeks of dealing with the residual effects of Hurricane Sandy have put the little Walnuts in a rather bah-hug mood. Lucky for us, just in time to banish those blues comes a new holiday special that we’re sure to set our DVR for. PBS Kids’ “The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Christmas” will have preschoolers on the edge of their seats as the infamous feline, along with Nick, Sally and the rest of the gang, set out to help a little lost reindeer find his way home in time for Christmas. Along the way, their otherwise trusty Thinga-ma-jigger breaks down, but the helpful of some knowledgeable creatures, they aim to get things back up and running. Will they make it to December 25th in time? Well, you’ll just have to tune in to find out. (We’re rooting for a happy ending!)
In a Nutshell: Christmas comes a little early this year with a delightful TV special that’s DVR-worthy. “The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Christmas” airs on PBS Kids on Wednesday, November 21. Check your local listings for times. If you miss the premiere broadcasting, you’ll be able to catch encore presentations throughout Thanksgiving weekend and in December.
When you’re pregnant, everyone always talks about that healthy glow that magically appears. But I’m pretty sure they weren’t talking about me. As someone who suffers from dry skin on a regular basis, being pregnant actually made things worse (was it all those crazy hormones or was that growing babe of mine already draining me?). No matter the culprit, these days when I see a pregnant mom during these cold-weather months, I truly feel for her…and will gladly offer up my moisturizer. If you’ve got a gal pal who’s expecting soon, what better way to indulge her than with a skin-centric gift set? Noodle & Boo’s Pregnancy and Newborn Gift Set is the ultimate in prenatal pampering. From an invigorating hand and foot balm, to an amazing elasticity oil specially formulated to protect against stretch marks, this box of goodies lets moms-to-be treat themselves to some much-needed TLC. And after their little bundle of joy arrives, they can take advantage on the shampoo, ointment and body wash designed for sensitive newborn skin. Our favorite treat? The Love Light Candle to calm and relax new moms while in the tub or just catching a few moments of alone time. And of course, that warm glow doesn’t hurt either.
In a Nutshell: It’s the perfect season to show a pregnant pal you know just what she’s in need of. No, not free babysitting…but a little lotion goes a long way.
When my girls were babies and we hit the road (even for a day trip to my parents’ house), I was always lugging tons of gear for my own precious cargo. Stroller, portable crib, booster seat…you name it. While I couldn’t, of course, duplicate all the comforts of home, judging from the trunk of my car, you’d have thought I was! For those babes on the go who can’t quite settle down without a little traveling music, comes the ideal solution. Tiny Love’s Take-Along Mobile looks just like the standard-size model snapped onto her crib back at home, but in a travel-friendly version. It attaches to most strollers, car seat carriers and play yards, so your little one will never feel compromised. Five different melodies play up to 30 minutes of continuous music–plenty of time to get your little one off to Dreamland–as three little friends twirl and whirl overhead, inviting little ones everywhere to conk out and get some shut-eye. And if you’ll be traveling this holiday season, some extra zzz’s are definitely in order.
In a Nutshell: This mobile’s on the move, just like you and your baby. Whether you need it to stimulate or soothe, it goes wherever you do.
Attention, moms-to be: When it comes to planning for your new arrival, don’t forget to include your better half. Sure, we know you’re super-excited about choosing colors for the nursery and buying all those cute little outfits. But what about the father-to-be? Chances are he’d like to feel part of the equation–and not just when it comes to picking out paint samples. In honor of dear ol’ dad comes an entire line of Major League Baseball products from Kolcraft, designed especially for the newest addition to your team. Whether it’s a potty ring, umbrella stroller or step stool, each product is embossed with your guy’s favorite team logo. So if he’s helping out at home or just out taking a stroll, he’ll feel like his vote counts for something. (Just don’t tell him you’ve decided on Passion Pink for the baby’s room.)
In a Nutshell: Step up to the potty…er, plate with this baseball-inspired line of baby gear. Kolcraft’s MLB collection will be available in January 2013.
Show me a 6-year-old boy, and I’ll show you a house littered with Legos. While I myself don’t have sons, every mom of boys that I know tells me how their home is practically taken over by those unmistakable building bricks, forcing them to find creative ways to organize and contain those pesky playthings. Don’t get us wrong; we love Legos just as much as the next kid, and the Lego Friends line has already found a place on my daughter’s Christmas list. If you have a Lego fan on your holiday shopping list this year, but are unsure of what he does and doesn’t have (and don’t want to add to his mom’s madness!), then we’ve got the perfect gift for you. LEGO Lunch boxes let the building aficionado proudly showcase his playtime passion at the lunch table. Colorful Lego-styled boxes house snacks, fruit and other mealtime favorites, while leaving enough room for a sandwich or other main meal. Everything fits inside a larger Lego-like box– one that’s easy to spot in the class lunch crate, and that fits nicely inside a backpack. Now you can check off one gift on your shopping list…
In a Nutshell: Yes, it’s OK to play with your food. This is one lunchbox that knows how to “build” on a childhood favorite.