Archive for the ‘
Birthdays ’ Category
Thursday, December 8th, 2011
Woody the Rocking Horse
“What should I get a 1-year-old?” is a surprisingly frequent question around here, especially around the holidays. Here’s what I tell people:
1-YEAR-OLDS LOVE BLINKING, MUSIC-PLAYING PLASTIC TOYS. Their parents may hate them, but 1-year-olds love love love them. Why not make a kid happy? And though I’m always one to champion the little guys, toys from big companies are often great hits. Fisher-Price (with their Laugh & Learn line), VTech, Leapfrog, and Playskool all test their toys on real kids and pretty much nail what young toddlers want. Just pay attention to the age grading on the packaging. If it says “12 months and up,” don’t buy it for a 9-month-old and expect him to do much with it. If it says “3 years and up,” take that to heart; it usually means there are small parts that a child under 3 could choke on.
We got a lot of mileage out of this toy car!
TODDLERS ALSO LOVE TO IMITATE THEIR PARENTS. I just adore this about 1-year-olds, and 2-year-olds too. Before babes can walk around on their own, they are more or less stuck watching grown-ups, so when they begin to play, they imitate what they’ve seen, to often hilarious results. My daughter Grace had a toy cell phone, but instead of talking on it, she mostly pretended to be listening, and then would give an occasional big, fake laugh. Anything from pretend cell phones and keys (Parents makes these with Manhattan Toy, see them here) to kitchens (Step2 and Little Tikes make the classics) and toy cars have that I’m-just-like-Mom-and-Dad appeal. Both my kids were obsessed with the Little Tikes Cozy Coupe. We got a lot of mileage, ahem, out of that one!
1-YEAR-OLDS WILL PLAY WITH PRETTY TOYS TOO. And these will make their parents much happier. Simple wooden cars are nice, or stacking blocks. Or a pretty wooden rocking horse. A rocking toy is such a classic, and there are so many fun versions. Our executive editor’s mom got her grandson, Julian, this adroable one. Is it a dino or a dragon? Doesn’t matter—the birthday boy loved it!
This year I’m liking Woody the Rocking Horse because he’s a modern-looking but totally classic toy. He’s also only $80, which makes him as affordable as many of the big plastic toys. And he’s got a nice story; Prince Lionheart, the company that makes him, started off in 1973 making rocking horses, you can see their story here. Note: Woody is age-graded 18 months and up, so make sure you’re buying it for a kid heading toward his second birthday!
And good news! One of you lucky ducks will win a Prince Lionheart Woody the Rocking Horse of your very own. Just leave a comment below; you can post once a day through Wednesday. I’d appreciate it if you posted what your own 1-year-old loves to play with! Click here for the full rules. Goody luck!
Categories: Babies, Birthdays, Giveaways, GoodyBlog, Holidays, Shopping & Gear, Time for Fun, Your Child | Tags: baby, gifts, Giveaway, GoodyBlog, little kids, Prince Lionheart, rocking horse, shopping, toys, win
Thursday, December 1st, 2011
I looooove dressing my kids up for the holidays. They look so precious in special clothes. Especially Grace. There’s no denying that it’s more fun to dress up a girl than a boy. Though my son Joe had some cute outfits as a baby.
- Check him out in a tie at his very first Christmas, back in 2005.
My kids are 6 and 9 now, and it gets harder and harder to use them as my own living dolls. Grace is hot and cold on dresses. She did don a brown one for two days straight over Thanksgiving because she got it in her head that she wanted to be a Native American maiden. But she never once wore a dress to third grade last year. Now that we’re a few months into fourth grade, she just told me last night that she wants to start wearing dresses “that aren’t too dressy.” So I’ve got to decode that request. My girl was in nothing but gowns when she was ages 2, 3, 4, and 5—those prime princess years. Sigh! Here she is looking like an angel at Christmas 2007.
So how do I satisfy my urge to play with tiny, adorable outfits now that my kids are school-age? Fortunately I work at American Baby, and even more fortunately I have an assistant, Hallie, who loves clothes the way most people love food. Hallie and I look for any excuse to call in outfits. Even if we can’t get the space in the magazine to do a whole fashion spread, we can put up an online slideshow. You can see our latest here, it’s a bunch of comfy Christmas outfits for infants.
Hallie and I have a lot of favorite baby-clothes companies that we call on. But when it comes to just mooning over special dresses, it’s hard to top the Chasing Fireflies catalog. They showcase gorgeous photography, well-made clothes, and happy kids. Their Web site doesn’t do them justice, but it’s still fun to look at: Chasing-Fireflies.com. And sign up for the catalog if you want a real treat to arrive by mail. Maybe the upcoming holidays give you an excuse to buy the $44 Santa baby romper, or the $68 angel romper, or their amazing “fireworks dress” that comes as small as 12 months. Go ahead and do it. I’ll try not to cry with jealousy as I wrestle my kids into some reindeer-themed T-shirt and call that fancy.
Their Winter catalog
And now the exciting part: I reached out to our Chasing Fireflies contact, and they’ll give one lucky reader a $100 gift card, which they call a wish card. Enjoy the dress-up years while you have them! Just leave a comment here on this post by the end of the day on Wednesday, December 7th, to be eligible for the wish card. You can post once a day. For full rules, click here. Goody luck!
Categories: Babies, Birthdays, Giveaways, GoodyBlog, Holidays, Shopping & Gear, Time for Fun, Your Child | Tags: catalog, Chasing Fireflies, dress-up clothes, Fashion, little kids, shopping
Monday, October 3rd, 2011
I’m finding it hard to focus at the moment. Not just because it’s Monday morning but because I’ve just spent some time on Nicole Friday’s site, The Cupcake Craze, and all I can think right now is Must…have…chocolate souffle cupcake…)
Like me, Nicole is a mom of two children, ages 6 and 3, who lives in New Jersey. (Those are her boys, Ellis and Edison, at right.) But unlike me, she’s a fabulous baker with her own catering business–just check out the slideshow of scrumptious desserts she’s created. I asked her to share some of her best baking-with-kids tips, and she happily obliged:
1. What’s a home-run flavor combo for kids?
Oreo Cookies & Cream is definitely a hit! Anything chocolate works with kids, especially a supersize cupcake—chocolate cake with cookies & cream frosting and topped with an Oreo cookie. Simply irresistible!
2. How old were your boys when you started baking with them?
Ellis was 2 (he’s now 3 ½) ; Edison was 3 (now 6).
3. Any fun kitchen missteps you can share?
Oh yeah. Edison added a bowl of eggs–including the shells–to the batter and turned on the mixer. There was no picking out those shells—another batch into the garbage! Another time, I had cupcakes for an event resting on the counter and Ellis, who was 2 at the time, stuck his fingers in all the cupcakes. (Luckily I made it to the event with a new batch of “hole-less” cupcakes.)
4. What’s the best task for little ones brand-new to the kitchen?
The key is to start off small, doing pretty much anything that doesn’t involve fire or hot or sharp things. So you can try beating eggs, adding and mixing pre-measured ingredients, licking the bowls clean. That’s a popular one.
5. Do you have favorite gadgets for kids?
Use a mini ice-cream scooper to fill the liners and a plastic spoon to spread the frosting (though fingers work too!). The picture above shows my boys doing just that.
6. Is there any such thing as a “healthy cupcake” that kids will love?
Yes. It’s all about the ingredients and the size: I choose mini-cupcakes and sneak veggies and “good stuff” into my cupcakes all the time, especially when my kids are on a veggie strike. Some ideas and healthier choices include: applesauce, carrots, sweet potatoes, zucchini, raisins, cranberries, apples, blueberries, strawberries, bananas. Instead of butter, use canola oil; opt for white-whole wheat flour or whole-wheat flour; use non-fat ingredients such as sour cream, buttermilk, and cream cheese. You can even skip the frosting and dust with powdered sugar.
7. Care to share a recipe?
Here you go!
Candied-Yamberry Cupcakes by Nicole Friday
Yield: 24 mini cupcakes
1 pound (2 medium) sweet potatoes
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¾ cup canola oil
¼ cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ cup applesauce
¼ cup dried cranberries
½ teaspoon orange zest
- Boil sweet potatoes over medium-high heat until the center is soft and the skin begins to peel. Remove from water, set aside and let cool. When cool enough to handle, scrape skin from the potatoes and mash until smooth.
- Preheat oven 350°F. Line muffin pans with paper liners. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Set aside.
- With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, applesauce and sweet potatoes. Reduce speed: add flour mixture. Stir in cranberries by hand, until combined.
- Divide batter evenly among lined cups filling three-quarters full. Bake approximately 25-30 minutes, rotating pans halfway through and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Transfer pans to rack or counter to cool before removing cupcakes.
- To finish, top cupcakes with mini-marshmallows mounds. Using a small kitchen torch, brown marshmallows all over and enjoy!
(Note from Nicole: If you don’t have a torch, use the broiler. Works magically–just keep a close watch, otherwise you’ll have super-toasted marshmallows. Or take the no-frosting route and just dust the cupcakes with powdered sugar. Still yummy!)
Categories: Birthdays, Food, GoodyBlog, Holidays, Time for Fun, Your Child | Tags: cooking with kids, cupcakes, healthy desserts, Nicole Friday, sweets, The Cupcake Craze
Wednesday, September 7th, 2011
Is your child obsessed with a group of funky, neon-colored friends named Brobee, Foofa, Muno, Toodee, and Plex? If the answer is “Yes!,” we know where you can score tickets to see Yo Gabba Gabba! LIVE in a city near you.
Starting at 12 pm on Friday, September 9, you’re invited to attend an virtual birthday celebration with Memorex and Yo Gabba Gabba! The 20-minute party will be streaming live on Ustream at ustream.tv/memorexbirthday.
During the party, kids and parents can chat live with Yo Gabba Gabba! characters and their friend Leslie Hall, dance and sing along to favorite songs, watch clips of the LIVE! tour, and win prizes including free tickets to see Yo Gabba Gabba! LIVE. Just watch the 20-minute party on Ustream for more information on how to win tickets.
Don’t forget to help your favorite Yo Gabba Gabba! characters make a wish when they blow out the candles on their virtual cake!
Categories: Birthdays, Entertainment, GoodyBlog, Time for Fun | Tags: birthday, Birthday Party, memorex partycubes, nick jr, Television, tickets, TV, tv show, ustream, yo gabba gabba
Wednesday, May 18th, 2011
Is your little one’s birthday coming up? Sign up for our Best – Ever Birthdays newsletter for children ages 1-5 years. Don’t worry– we won’t inundate your inbox! With just four emails, you’ll receive personalized birthday party ideas specific to your child’s age along with a customized development email for what to expect in the year ahead. From the party menu to fun decorations and activities, the newsletters are jam packed with ideas to make this birthday the best ever!
Wednesday, April 7th, 2010
Baker’s twine has become an irreplaceble craft supply for me. When in doubt, I say use the red and white string. I love that companies are breaking out with other colors, like these great ones from Divine Twine.
But what can you do with Divine Twine besides wrapping gift boxes? Make greeting cards! These precious designs were made by Suzonne from Urban Comfort. Check out her blog…it’s full of great crafts and yummy recipes!
Monday, June 1st, 2009
We at Parents really appreciate a great birthday cake. As such, we've decide to partner with Mixing Bowl for the Parents Magazine Kid's Birthday Cake Bake-Off! Log on to the contest site before July 31 and enter a picture of your kid's cutest birthday cake, along with the recipe, for a chance to win $250. We've been blown away by how many fantastic cakes there are out there — take a peek for ideas for your next birthday party.
Wednesday, May 27th, 2009
I miss mail—real mail. I really do. As much as I appreciate electronic birthday cards (especially someecards.com) and Facebook messages, I miss ripping open that brightly colored envelope, not knowing if I'll laugh out loud, if I'll be $25 richer (fingers crossed), or if I'll need a tissue to wipe my tears.
We've nearly abandoned the art of sending cards because other methods of communication are much faster and easier. But check out Jackcards.com, a website that makes sure you'll never forget an important event again, from birthdays to anniversaries to holidays.
JackCards.com has thousands of cards to choose from, for every recipient and all occassions (3 adorable kiddy ones picture here). You pick the right ones for the right dates, and when the time comes, Jack Cards will mail you the card to sign and send! That way, you still can add your own personal handwritten touches. And get this…the card comes stamped, addressed and ready to send off. Ah! Genius! Membership is free and cards start as low as $1.50.
Now, there is no excuse for not sending a birthday card! (And by the way, mine is January 30th.)