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Parents Goody Giveaway: Enter for a Chance to Win a $100 Target Gift Card Courtesy of Yoobi

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Yoobi school supplies

By Caitlin Ultimo

One school supply company wants to make more of an impact this fall. Yoobi, a brand that will also be exclusively at Target stores, not only wants to offer up fun designs including pretzel erasers, mini and jumbo highlighters, and neon-colored ballpoint pens, but it wants your purchase to benefit students nationwide.

Research shows that teachers spend $1.6 billion annually on school supplies out of their own pocket, so Yoobi wants to help. Teaming up with a national nonprofit, the Kids In Need Foundation, Yoobi identified U.S. schools with students who have the greatest need for supplies, focusing first on younger classrooms (K-3rd grade). For every Yoobi item you purchase, the company will distribute an item to a classroom in need (think Tom Shoes, but for school supplies). Plus, everything Yoobi sells is affordable (everything is under $10).

“With Yoobi, our goal is to make school supplies phenomenal, while solving an important problem along the way: Providing fundamental access to those in need,” says co-founder Ido Leffler. “We want to provide tools that engage kids and make them eager to learn, while also instilling the values of community and giving back. I’m proud of our goal, but I know it’s just the beginning of what we can accomplish.” Yoobi aims to change the lives of more than 750,000 students by 2015.

Target is giving away one $100 gift certificate to celebrate the Yoobi launch! To enter, leave a comment below, up to one a day between today and the end of the day on Monday, July 14. More Qs about our giveaway? Here are the official rules. Be sure to check back on July 15 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!

Head over to to stock up on school supplies or visit your local Target. Watch a video below to learn more about Yoobi:

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“Confessions of the World’s Best Father”: One Dad’s Comically-Staged Photos With His Daughter

Saturday, June 14th, 2014

Confessions of the World's Best Father by Dave EngledowBy Caitlin Ultimo

Any first-time parent surely can identify with the urge to snap dozens upon dozens of photos throughout their child’s early years. “Oh, look he’s smiling,” turns into: “Oh, look he’s smiling holding a cracker/a cell-phone/the cat (Sorry, kitty, for his awkward grip — we have to get this shot!).”

Well, Dave Engledow took his new-dad camera readiness even further. While Mom was on deployment in the Army, Engeldow and their new daughter, Alice Bee, staged (with the help of Photoshop) hilarious photo shoots. He began by sharing the photos on Facebook, accompanied with comedic essays, as a way to alleviate his fears as a new dad and poke fun at them.  Starting at Day 3 and concluding with Day 918, his outlandish photos (some featured below) included scenes of Alice Bee helping him shave and the two of them breaking a sweat while lifting dumbbells together. Eventually, his photos were combined into one hilarious book, “Confessions of the World’s Best Father.”

Engledow is just one of a few parents who have opted for creative scenes in place of stiff photos.  Jason Lee, a wedding photographer, started taking one-of-a-kind portraits of his two girls back in 2006. Because his mother was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma and his daughters caught colds too frequently to be around her, he began a blog for the grandmother to see the humorous and whimsical pictures. Heather Sphor, who also had two kids, decided to document her infant’s, Jamesie’s, days because his older sister, Annie, had just entered preschool.  Annie wanted to know what Mom and Jamesie did while she was in class, so Sphor decided to document Jamesie’s daily adventures, from searching for Cinderella to exploring the Wild West.

One of Engledow’s many unforgettable photos appears on Day 66, which shows him holding Alice Bee in one arm like a football while his other arm squirts bottled breast milk into his coffee cup that proudly displays the label, “World’s Best Father.” He noted, “Apparently, fathering is not going to be quite as easy or glamorous as it looks on TV.” With Father’s Day right around the corner, plenty of new dads will agree that even though fatherhood isn’t always glamorous, it sure can be fun!

What are some of the creative ways you make parenthood interesting?

Dave Engledow Confessions of the World's Best Father Breastmilk

Dave Engledow Confessions of the World's Best Father Reading Twilight

Dave Engledow Confessions of the World's Best Father Pancake Breakfast in Bed

Photos: Originally appeared in “Confessions of the World’s Best Father” by David Engledow. Used with permission of Gotham Books, an imprint of Penguin Books USA.

Kids Talk about Loving their Daddy
Kids Talk about Loving their Daddy
Kids Talk about Loving their Daddy

What’s your parenting style? Take our quiz to find out what type of parenting you are!

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B.J. Novak’s Children’s Book: Would You Buy It Even Though It Has No Pictures?

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

The Book With No Pictures by BJ Novak front coverThe Book With No Pictures by BJ Novak back coverIf you follow B.J. Novak on Instagram, you know The Office star (and Mindy Kaling’s BFF!) has a tongue-in-cheek feed called “Pictures of Text” with…well, photos of text-heavy signs, posters, book covers, you name it.

So it’s no surprise that Novak pitched an idea for a children’s book called, “The Book With No Pictures“, a “picture” book without pictures…the first of its kind! Speaking to People, Novak shared, “I really wanted to get kids thinking that the written word is their ally not their enemy and it creates a great experience between the parent and the kid.”

Novak also posted photos of the front and back covers on Instagram and Twitter recently. Given Novak’s fondness for text, the cover is plain and sparse, similar to the black-text-on-white-background cover of his other book, “One More Thing,” a collection of short stories for adults.

Although little else is known about the picture book, Novak did tell People that it was a “simple” book with “hidden messages.” He got a chance to read it to a group of elementary school kids in Queens, who responded in a positive way. No doubt humor is a big part of the book (as evidenced by the text on his back cover: “WARNING! This book looks serious but it is actually COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS!”).

“I think a lot of parents think they are not funny and are scared to read a funny book, but I’ve tested it with so many parents and I think this is fool-proof. No matter how you read it, you’re funny,” Novak said.

Look out for the book when it’s released by Penguin Kids on September 30.

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A 6-Year-Old Kid Reporter Shares His First Time Meeting Michelle Obama

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Michelle Obama Kid Reporter Easter Sunday event

First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a Kid Reporter gaggle in the White House Library during the annual Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House, April 21, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Editor’s Note: This post was written by Justin Creppy who, at 6 years old, is the youngest contributor we’ve ever featured on our site! Justin (pictured in a blue shirt with red tie, right) was invited to the White House on Easter Sunday to be part of a special Kid Reporter event hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama. Read Justin’s story about his experience.

By Justin Creppy

This year I visited the White House for the first time on Easter, and I was one of seven kid reporters to be in the first-ever Kid Reporter gaggle. My day started with so much excitement! I couldn’t wait to get to the White House, but I didn’t know what to expect, so I kept asking mommy and daddy so many questions.

When I arrived at the Northgate I had to be a big boy and give my name and birthdate to the secret service. That was special and fun. I got a badge and entered the White House lawn area. There was so much to see.  I walked past the West Wing and I went to the Vermeil Room that had portraits of first ladies. Then I had press time with First Lady Michelle Obama in the White House Library. Her “Let’s Move” program was the focus for the event’s theme, “Hop Into Healthy, Swing into Shape.” When mommy told me what those words meant, I started telling her that I had a bunch of questions for the First Lady. Can I ask her what exercises she does? What sports do Malia and Sasha play? Do they eat healthy every day?  My parents told me to pick 2-3 questions I really wanted to ask because this was an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

I was one of the youngest kid reporters, and I got a little nervous when the First Lady entered the room.  She was very nice and asked us to sit on the floor and introduce ourselves. I got so excited and asked a question, “First Lady, what do Malia and Sasha do to have fun when you are busy and the President is traveling?” I was happy to learn they are just like all the children in the United States. They like to have fun! Malia plays tennis and runs track. Sasha likes to dance hip-hop and plays basketball.  The First Lady also said they like to be normal kids with sleepovers, playdates, and going to the movies.

I also learned so much by listening to the other kid reporters’ questions and learning the importance of eating healthy, being active, and watching only a little bit of television.  I had an amazing day, and the First Lady gave all the kid reporters a wristband to enjoy the Easter Egg Roll. I was so happy to see so many kids having fun, running, and playing with their families. I had a fun-filled day that I will never forget!

Read experiences written by other kid reporters:

 Michelle Obama Kid Reporter Easter Sunday event

Justin, center, standing in front of the First Lady

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The 2014 Newbery and Caldecott Medal Winners: Kate DiCamillo and Brian Floca

Monday, January 27th, 2014

Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo; Locomotive by Brian FlocaThe American Library Association announced the winners of its two highest literary honors: the Newbery Medal (for distinguished writing) and the Caldecott Medal (for outstanding artwork).

Well-known children’s book author (and recently chosen ambassador for children’s literature) Kate DiCamillo was awarded the Newbery for Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures, an illustrated novel about a tween who befriends a squirrel with superpowers. DiCamillo also won the Newbery in 2004 for The Tale of Despereux, a story about a mouse who yearns to become a knight. Her book Because of Winn-Dixie was also chosen as a Newbery runner-up in 2000.

For his illustrations in Locomotive, Brian Floca was awarded the Caldecott Medal. His book features a family of three taking their first trip (from Omaha to Sacramento) on the newly-finished Transcontinental Railroad in 1869. Floca’s book was chosen as one of the 10 Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2013 by the New York Times and the Top 10 Children’s Books of 2013 by the Wall Street Journal.

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Family Weekend Getaway: 10 Things to Do in Charleston, South Carolina

Friday, December 20th, 2013

Kiawah Island Beach South Carolina Low CountryThe winter chill may have finally settled in the northeast, but my mind’s still on memories of warmer climes. Thanks to Wyndham Vacation Rentals, I had the opportunity to visit South Carolina during the summer. (Watch my video at the end of this blog post to see more photos from the trip.)

Over four days, I stayed at a Gone With the Wind-esque rental house on Kiawah Island with a small group of journalists, and we got the chance to explore the historic sites of Charleston. Along the way, we took a photo with actor Bill Murray at the airport, consumed enough biscuits and sweet tea to make Scarlett O’Hara blush, and even spotted a real alligator hanging out in the street.

As a Yankee exploring southern delights for the first time, I was charmed by Charleston: the restored and ornate architecture, the buttery food (deep fried or not), and the friendly, relaxed atmosphere. Kiawah Island has plenty of quiet, low-key beaches (and golf courses) while Charleston is teeming with more active family-friendly attractions. To help you plan your next laid-back weekend getaway, here are 10 family-friendly things to do around Charleston:

1- Hang Out at Kiawah Island Beaches – No matter which Kiawah Island beach you end up visiting, you’re guaranteed to find white, hard-packed sand (great for strolls along the shore!) and Jacuzzi-warm waters. Kiawah Island is also surrounded by marshes teeming with wildlife, so you may see ospreys, herons, and alligators on your scenic drive to a beach. We ended up at Royal Beach, with gorgeous views of the ocean on one side and views of castle-like houses on the other.

2- Grab Dinner at the Fat Hen – Get initiated into Lowcountry cuisine at the Fat Hen, a neighborhood fave on Kiawah Island. Start by ordering tried-and-true southern dishes like fried green tomatoes,  boiled peanut salad, She-Crab soup (Casey, fellow diner and blogger of Moosh in Indy, gave this rapturous praises). You’ll also be well-stocked with warm biscuits and lemon-laced sweet tea from the gregarious staff.

3- Visit the Sea Turtle Hospital, South Carolina Aquarium – The amazing veterinary staff at the South Carolina Aquarium rescue sick and injured sea turtles and nurse them back to health. Kids will get to meet and touch (small) turtles and learn about the turtles’ ailments and recovery process before they’re released back into the wild. The adjacent aquarium boasts equally impressive sights, including an albino alligator (named Alabaster), an American bald eagle, and a two-story tank filled with fish, coral, and sharks.

4- Eat Lunch at Poogan’s PorchPoogan’s Porch is a cozy, light-filled eatery transformed from an 1888 Victorian house and named after a neighborhood dog. Once you see pimento fritters and fried alligator on the menu, you know you’re in for a culinary ride; you can’t go wrong with the buttermilk fried chicken and the airy biscuits. Plenty of celebs have visited Poogan’s (there’s a wall of photos), but what really makes it stand out are the spirits that still live there: Poogan the dog and schoolteacher Zoe St. Amand.

5- Stroll Through the Charleston City Market – For families who want an easy, relaxing afternoon, head to the 206-year-old Charleston marketplace, two long, green-roofed buildings that house artisans selling American Classic Tea sourced from the Charleston Tea Plantation, sweetgrass wreaths and baskets (made by the descendants of West African plantation slaves), and other handmade goods. Or stop by the other shops outside the marketplace, such as River Street Sweets for warm, slightly gooey pralines.

6- Ride a Carriage Tour of Historic Charleston – All tours are designated along three separate routes to avoid traffic, and every carriage must stop at a small shack before the tour begins. Kids will love watching a cage-like machine toss out a colored ball that indicates the carriage route. Our Palmetto Carriage tour highlighted sites such as Cabbage Row (which inspired the setting for “Porgy and Bess”), several Civil War-ear mansions, and Rainbow Row (pre-Revolutionary buildings renovated and repainted in pastel colors). You’ll also notice a ton of churches with tall steeples; in fact, no building in Charleston is allowed to be taller than the highest church steeple. Along the way, your guide may even point out spots where The Notebook and The Patriot were filmed.

7- Take a Walking Ghost Tour of Charleston – Charleston is considered one of the most haunted cities in America, so for families who like a good dose of spooky and supernatural stories, a walking ghost tour is a must. Even though we got a toned-down private ghost tour with Lindsay Beard from Bulldog Tours, our Charleston insider and local guide, the stories were still spine-tingling enough to stay with us for a few hours. Just make sure to check with the tour group to see if the outing will be too scary or too extensive for young kids.

8- Go Horseback Riding on Seabrook Island – The riding path on Seabrook Island starts on a residential street and then meanders through a plant-dense path until it opens onto a breathtaking, wide, flat beach. The sand is firm, making it easy for the calm, slow, gentle horses to walk on. Even though the horses are well-trained enough to know where to go and when to stop, horse rides are probably best for kids 8 and up who have some experience riding on their own.

9- Set Sail to Watch Dolphins – Dolphins are abundant along the South Carolina shore – just make sure to go during high tide to spot them. But even if you don’t encounter any dolphins, there is still plenty to see – like shorelines dotted with antebellum homes, islands teaming with pelicans, and boats with fishermen casting nets. Our group set sail on a small charter boat with Captain Robb of Lowcountry Inshore Charters, a South Carolina native who knows the ins-and-outs of the ocean, and kids who ride on his boat are given the chance to haul up a cage full of blue crabs. Depending on the tour, rides may also be best for kids 8 and up who know how to swim and who are comfortable on a fast boat.

10- Stroll Magnolia Plantation and GardensMagnolia Plantation has been around for over 330 years, and it’s one of three big plantations that still remain in Charleston. The rice plantation has passed down through 15 generations, and it is now open to the public. There are a variety of walking and vehicle tours. Beautiful garden tours lead through romantic paths with lush trees and flowers while other tours include separate train and boat rides that highlight alligators and turtles, slave cabins, and the plantation house.

For more sites to see, things to do, and places to stay in Charleston, check out the Family Vacation Guide to Charleston, South Carolina from our sister magazine, FamilyFun.

Top 3 Things to Do in Charleston, South Carolina
Top 3 Things to Do in Charleston, South Carolina
Top 3 Things to Do in Charleston, South Carolina

Special thanks to: Phillip Tumminia of Wyndham Vacation Rentals and Gina Anderson of Weber Shandwick for organizing the South Carolina trip; Body and Skin by Rachel for providing soothing massages; and personal chef Mark White for cooking a delicious five-course meal of local Lowcountry favorites.

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Watch Sesame Street’s Spoof of the Hunger Game’s “Catching Fire”

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

To celebrate today’s movie release of “Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” I’m sharing a new video made by the clever folks at Sesame Street, a spoof called “Catching Fur.” (They also have a clever spoof of “Downton Abbey”!)

As a big fan of Suzanne Collins’s book series, I love how Sesame Street transformed Cookie Monster into Cookieness Evereat, whose goal is to survive the jungle by eating his way through the “Hungry Games.” His companions include parodies of Peeta (now an animated piece of pita), Finnick (wielding a fork instead of a trident), and Wiress (who keeps staying tick tock while holding an alarm clock). For more on the names of popular characters, check out Lisa Milbrand’s “In Name Only” blog post on why names from the Hunger Games haven’t taken off.

Even though your kids might be too young to understand the inspiration behind the latest video, they can still help Cookieness as he faces challenges related to food. Kids will learn basic pattern and shape recognition by guessing which food type comes next in an apple-banana sequence and which food shape comes next after a circle-square sequence. Parents can just laugh along at the funny antics and jokes.


Plus: Sesame Street characters Elmo and Murray recently visited our offices! Below, watch a video where they give tips on tackling picky eating. And watch Elmo and Murray give more advice on bedtime routines and getting along with siblings!

Sesame Street Lessons: Advice for Picky Eaters
Sesame Street Lessons: Advice for Picky Eaters
Sesame Street Lessons: Advice for Picky Eaters

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Get an Exclusive 15% Discount: “Goodnight Little Me,” Illustrated by Mary GrandPré

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Goodnight Little Me by Jennifer Dewing and Mary GrandPre - ISeeMe.comIf you’re a Harry Potter geek like me, you’ll recognize Mary GrandPré as the illustrator of the famous U.S. book covers and chapter art. So when I got the chance to meet and interview her yesterday, I felt like a bona fide fangirl.

GrandPré was in New York with children’s book writer Jennifer Dewing to talk about their new book, Goodnight Little Me, a dreamy bedtime book that can be personalized with your children’s names, ages, and birthdays.

The book, out later this month, is the newest title from I See Me, a line of personalized children’s books. What makes I See Me truly special is the unique way they integrate a child’s name and photo into the illustrations on each page. For Goodnight Little Me in particular, your child’s name can be seamlessly woven into a starry sky and the socks of dancing dogs.

Take a virtual tour of Goodnight Little Me — you’ll see how Dewing’s lyrical rhymes dance and propel the story forward and how GrandPré’s whimsical illustrations saturate and pop off the page. And note all the places where “Elizabeth” can be replaced with a different name.

Can’t wait for the book to come out? You’re in luck! You can now purchase the Goodnight Little Me book or Goodnight Little Me gift set (which includes a plush lamb). Even better, has provided readers with an exclusive discount code that gives you 15% off your total order. So you can add Goodnight Little Me and other titles to your shopping cart.

Starting today, use the coupon code PARENTS during checkout to receive the 15% discount. The code expires on Sunday, December 15, 2013.


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