Tuesday, December 17th, 2013
Family-music heavyweights Elizabeth Mitchell (recently Grammy-nominated for Blue Clouds) and Dan Zanes (a Grammy winner for Catch That Train!) collaborated to record this beautiful update of Pete Seeger’s classic folk song, “Turn, Turn, Turn.” The orignal was written by Seeger in the late 1950s using Bible verses that remind us “to every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” Before you fret about modern singers messing with the masterpiece, be reassured that the lyrics of this 2013 version were written by Seeger’s wife, Toshi, before she passed away in July at the age of 91 (days shy of their 70th wedding anniversary).
Sample lyrics that make this gorgeous rendition appealing to parents and kids include, “a time to teach, a time to learn, a time for all to take their turn.” It goes on to gently reminder us that there are times when we can play and get dirty, times when we celebrate and times when we cry, and times when we should just sit and rest. During the holiday season, when we all strive for peace but end up running around like crazy, the words cut to the heart of things.
Elizabeth Mitchell’s young daughter Storey shares singing duties; you’ll also see Mitchell’s husband Dan Littleton playing guitar. It’s a family affair, which makes the song all the sweeter. We’re thrilled to have exclusive dibs on this world premiere!
So without further ado…here is the video, watch it with your own little ones!
Turn Turn Turn!: A Music Video World Premiere
Here’s where you can buy Turn, Turn Turn.
And watch more of Mitchell and Zanes on YouTube.
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Monday, December 16th, 2013
When I said, in a Parents.com post on holiday traditions
, that my favorite is taking a one-on-one holiday date with each of my kids, some people complained that my kids need more than one
day a year of my attention. But of course, those two get my attention all day, every day. Here’s what makes a holiday time-out so special:
* They get me all to themselves with no sibling, no daddy, and no friends around. You’d think this would happen more often than it does, but I, like most mommies, have to work to be completely alone with any member of my family (the exception being my firstborn’s babyhood…we had plenty of alone time together!) Being with one kid usually means doing homework, walking to a playdate, shopping, or any number of mundane things, as opposed to just enjoying each other.
* I don’t cheat and do anything I “have” to do.
That includes running by a bank or post office, etc., because then it wouldn’t feel like a date, right?
* They get to skip school! At least as long as they are in preschool or elementary school. I try to keep our holiday date off of Saturday or Sunday, when we’re already off-duty. I take a vacation day from work, I excuse them from school, and we both take a break from responsibilities. On a weekday! It feels a little scandalous.
* I follow each kid’s lead.
Joe is a nut about penguins, so this year’s date was to the Central Park Zoo
where we spent maybe 45 minutes in the penguin room. After, I started to make an argument for seeing other animals (to make that entrance fee worth it!), but Joe wanted to eat a hot dog and then go look at Christmas decorations. So that’s what we did.
* Each kid gets something special, and I don’t fret about making things even.
Grace is now in middle school so, for the first time, I chickened out about taking her out all day. Her special mama date was a sleepover at the Conrad Hotel in lower Manhattan
. (It’s not as pricey as it looks, at least by Manhattan-hotel standards, and it’s kid-friendly.) In the morning Grace ordered room-service breakfast, which to her represents the pinnacle of luxury. The fact that I didn’t have to fix breakfast, make the bed, or launder the towels was my own pinnacle of luxury. Joe didn’t get a hotel stay, and Grace didn’t get to miss an entire day of school, but they accept that they can have things that are different and equally special.
* Obviously, we do holiday things.
When the kids were preschoolers I took them to St Patrick’s Cathedral
a few years in a row, where they have a beautiful nativity scene with a crib that stays empty until Christmas. It felt more meaningful to discuss what Christmas is, mama-to-child, outside of church service (and outside of some lecture about asking for too many gifts, lol). Now that they get it, we more often view the Rockefeller Center Tree, or join activities like the cookie-decorating that the Conrad Hotel puts on. (Happening this Saturday, December 21st, from 3pm to 5pm, if you happen to be in NYC!)
Maybe I am just getting old, but it feels like the world is spinning so fast these days that taking a time-out with these little people is the best tradition I’ve ever come up with. I hope you all get a real rest and respite with loved ones in the next few weeks, before we’re on to new-year resolutions and a busy 2014. Happy Holidays!
We’ve put together a helpful email full of our best holiday projects, recipes, and more! To get your copy click here.
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Tuesday, December 10th, 2013
As a mom, there are many reasons to appreciate the Nintendo DS and especially its newest incarnation, the Nintendo 2DS. Unlike gaming systems that hook up to your TV, this can be played quietly in any room of the house without involving the television or control paddles. You don’t need Wifi, either, unlike the iPad or iTouch. (Those don’t strictly need Wifi, I think it just seems like my kids always insist on being on the Wifi when they take out their Apple devices.) Finally, a DS battery lasts a long time, making it the best choice for travel.
The 2DS is larger than previous versions and also seems easier for my kids to use, because the screen and controls are all on the same plane. It took them a minute to get used to the new format, but then they were off and running with their Mario games (seems to be a forever-favorite!). If you’re thinking of investing in a gaming system for the holidays, it helps that this is only $130, which is cheap compared to the usual alternatives. P.S., most old Nintendo cartridges and also Nintendo 3DS cartridges are compatible with this, so friends can bring over their games to share and they all should work.
Just in time for Christmas, Nintendo is offering TWO lucky winners the chance to nab a red Nintendo 2DS system plus two games: Super Mario Bros. 2 and Mario Kart 7. That’s $200 per prize pack!
To enter, leave a comment below, up to one a day between today and December 16, and don’t forget to read the official rules. Be sure to check back on December 17 and scroll to the bottom of the post to see who won. We reach out to winners via Facebook message (it goes into your “other” message folder on Facebook), so if you win, look for us there as well. Goody luck!
Congrats to our winners Maria Wessland and Erika Ortlieb!
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Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013
This past weekend my kids declared Despicable Me 2 “The Best Movie Ever,” though it shares that slot with a lot of other movies (my kids are very generous with how many movies can be number one!). It struck me, though, how rare it is for a sequel to be this loved. I’m glad that Despicable Me 2 hit it out of the ballpark.
The DVD came out just a week ago and the Blu-Ray version, with three new mini-movies included, comes out a week from today. And in the meantime if you need some instant gratification, we named Minion Rush one of the Best Free Kids’ Apps of the year.
Also, one lucky winner will receive a batch of Despicable Me 2 goodies, including the first and second movie, a Fart Blaster (NOT one of our Best Toys this year, because we try to keep that semi-dignified, but I will admit that the Fart Blaster had our kid toy-testers laughing hysterically), an action figure, umbrella and a Blu-ray player (!!!!). Thanks to that last item, this is a giveaway worth about $250. To enter, leave a comment below, up to once a day, today through Monday, December 9, and don’t forget to read the official rules. Check back on December 10 and scroll to the bottom of the comments to see who won. We also reach out to winners via Facebook message (it goes into your “other” message folder on Facebook), so if you win, look for us there as well. Goody luck!
Congrats to our winner Mariaelena Dominguez!
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Friday, November 29th, 2013
It’s the day after Thanksgiving, which means it’s time to mail off my holiday cards. You think it’s crazy that my cards are ready before December? Ha! I fall behind on a lot of things (cleaning, organizing) but when it comes to holiday cards, I am on it. Here are some things I’ve learned over the years.
* Get a competent friend to take the family photo outdoors. Once I did hire a professional photographer; amazing, just not sure if was worth the huge cash outlay. What has consistently been cheapest and easiest is a fast photo session in the front or the back of the house, with my cousin or niece doing the snapping. Instruct your amateur photographer to get up close, put your heads close together, and check the results before calling it quits. Ideal conditions are a bright but cloudy sky so there’s no shadows. And pay attention to the background, you want a solid wall or a hedge or a hill or other background that doesn’t call attention to itself.
* Make your cards online. I love Minted because of their insanely great cardstock quality and attention to detail. But this year I used Shutterfly because that site emails crazy-good offers on a regular basis. There was actually one for 40 percent off the price of holiday cards! (And FYI, Shutterfly gobbled up Tiny Prints, so they are part of the same group.) This year I created two cards, one with a ton of photos from the entire year, and one with just a single new family photo. And I ordered one of each. Then I had my husband and kids vote for their favorite. One-photo won unanimously!
* Don’t feel constrained by the sample cards you see. I chose a design that, in the online model, has a last name written across the bottom. But it’s easy enough to change something like that to be a message instead. Also remember that when you pull in your photos, you can edit them…for instance, go tighter so you can see everyone clearly.
* On the other hand, use the online sites for good ideas. I met with a woman from Peartree Greetings who told me that people literally restage photos they see on that site with their own family. At first I thought “That’s weird!” but then I thought, “Or maybe pretty smart…” In fact, I’m tempted to rip off this family-on-their-bellies card that is so freakin’ cute. Maybe next year!
* Spring for return-address labels. Because writing all your recipients’ adddresses is time-consuming enough. But here’s what I won’t pay extra for: A site to mail my photos for me (if I have to type in all those addresses, what time am I saving?), fancy envelopes (really, who cares?) and express service (because standard service comes faster than they say, usually, and seriously, if the cards don’t get out until 2014, it will be okay).
* Make notes for yourself for next year. I write down how many cards I ultimately send because I know that in October of next year my mind will have erased that information.
Lastly, I do make the extra trip to stand in line at the post office for holiday stamps. I don’t know, they just make me happy. If a craftier approach is more your style, check out our cards and tags you can make. Enjoy spreading cheer, and happy holidays to you!
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Stamped Snowman Card
Tuesday, November 26th, 2013
This is a season of girl-power toys. But I take issue with GoldieBlox, which has an entertaining commercial (mostly featuring toys from other companies) and not yet a great product, IMO…here’s hoping they come out with something better next year. My colleague agrees, and also the Toy Industry Association nominated them yesterday for ”Most Innovative Toy” but not for “Best Girl Toy,” I suspect because they need to up the fun factor a bit.
One thing that was nominated for “Best Girl Toy” is a Nerf Rebelle Heartbreaker bow. Yep, we’re breaking ground by giving girls sophisticated weapons, just as we do with boys. We declined to include weapons (except for the ones in a Lego set) in our Parents Best Toys story, but as a mom, I do know that toy weapons make it into the toybox…my son has a bow and arrow set, a Minecraft sword, and so on. I still balk at calling them a “best” toy.
All this makes me want to go back to an oldie but goodie. Several of us here swoon when we look at the two Barbie Dreamhouses sitting in the toy closet. What an awesome toy! Setting up the Dreamhouse is not an exercise in domesticity (who makes Barbie clean or cook?) but a fantasy of living on one’s own. Barbie is not a baby doll who needs to be mothered. She’s a grown-up and when I watch my daughter use Barbies, it’s to try out grown-up roles: Barbie is waitressing, she’s fighting with a friend and making up, she’s meeting a gal who is a mermaid. (There’s some practice in acceptance for you!)
It makes me wish that my son had a toy that could similarly let him try out social situations. Or that there was a more gender-neutral alternative to the Dreamhouse. The best we found for out Best Toys story is this awesome little Lego Treehouse.
In the meantime, these two beautiful Barbie Dreamhouses need to be with children who will love them and play with them. We’re happy to mail a Dreamhouse each to TWO lucky winners after the Thanksgiving break. Each is worth about $185. To enter, leave a comment below, up to one a day between today and Monday, December 2, and don’t forget to read the official rules. Be sure to check back on December 3 and scroll to the bottom of the comments to see who won. We also reach out to winners via Facebook message (it goes into your “other” message folder on Facebook), so if you win, look for us there as well. Goody luck!
Congrats to our winners Tonya Munque and Mary Happymommy!
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Giveaways, GoodyBlog, Shopping & Gear
Thursday, November 21st, 2013
My kids are crazy about Build-a-Bear Workshops, where you choose the skin of a new plush friend and then get it filled, right there in the store, with fluff. And they’ve got a new addition to announce: Baby gifts from Build-a-Bear! The line is called Hug-a-Cub. Since the new goods are for babies, you don’t have to wait in a store to get them stuffed (definitely more fun for the older kids). They do encourage you to order online, because there’s lots to chose from there.
For instance, the 5-piece Brown Bear Gift Set can be personalized with Baby’s name. And I was excited to see this Sweet Velvet Bear who is allergy-friendly. There are a lot of Snugglers, too, those blankets-with-a-head that babies love so much.
Build-A-Bear is giving away THREE cuddly Hug a Cub 5-piece Brown Bear Gift Sets, including a soft bear, rattle, snuggler, blanket and bag to tote your treasures.
To enter, leave a comment below, up to one a day between today and Wednesday, November 27, and don’t forget to read the official rules. Be sure to check back on December 2 and scroll to the bottom of the post to see who won. We reach out to winners via Facebook message (it goes into your “other” message folder on Facebook), so if you win, look for us there as well. Goody luck!
Our winners have been chosen. Congrats to Charley Elizabeth, Veronica Lynn Willyard and Mary Singer!
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Babies, Giveaways, GoodyBlog, Shopping & Gear
Thursday, November 14th, 2013
At first glance, I didn’t understand why someone would design a high-end bag for a breast pump. My pump came with a bag, and though it was nothing gorgeous, it was fine. Worrying about a breast-pump bag being too ugly is maybe the very definition of a first-world luxury problem, IMO.
But in the past few months I’ve talked to a few different pump companies about how the Affordable Care Act impacts their business, because a small piece of that insurance puzzle is that new moms have their breast pumps covered. The way that will work, it seems, is that some pumps will be pared-down and come largely without bags. That makes the cost more reasonable for the insurance companies, and gets women with health insurance a pump that’s paid for.
That will leave those women without a “free” bag for carrying their pump. Still a luxury problem, yes, but in America, we have a solution you can purchase to solve every problem, this one included! Juno Blu is a new line of breast pump bags that seriously look nothing like breast pump bags. They are first and foremost luxe bags, with a pocket for a pump snuck in. When you’re done with pumping, you can still gets years of use out of the bag.
Juno Blu bags cost $185, which does negate the savings you may have received by getting your pump covered by insurance. But the lovely moms behind the company do have their own story of why these bags can help pumping moms feel less self-concious, which I’m always all for. A mom should pump as long as she dang well pleases, and I hate to think that embarrassment would hold anyone back.
Not to get sidetracked, but because I managed to pump for a full year after each of my kids, I always try to help out other moms. Here is our latest American Baby story on pumping-at-work success, and it’s a good one! And here’s a breast pumping made easy video that includes some of my favorite tips.
And to that end, Juno Blu is going to send THREE lucky winners one of their pretty bags. If you win, you get to chose your favorite! And I wish you many months of easy pumping!
To enter, leave a comment below, up to one a day between today and Wednesday, November 20, and don’t forget to read the official rules here. Be sure to check back here on November 21 and scroll to the bottom of the post to see who won. We reach out to winners via Facebook message (it goes into your “other” message folder on Facebook), so if you win, look for us there. Goody luck!
Our winners have been chosen. Congrats to Courtney Kittel, Monica Desiree, and Becky Gian Campeau!
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Babies, breast pump bags, Breast Pumps, Giveaway, juno blu, Pregnancy, prize, pumping, sweepstakes | Categories:
Giveaways, GoodyBlog, Shopping & Gear