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!
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!
Who doesn’t remember loving Sesame Street as a child? I was so obsessed that my parents got Big Bird to come to my fifth birthday party, a day that still goes down in infamy among my family.
These days, Sesame Street’s educational and award-winning story lines aren’t just for television. The show now tops children’s learning in the digital sphere as well. Parents got the chance to check out some of the program’s latest apps, all designed for children 5 and under to expand their creativity.
1. Big Bird’s Words, $0.99 Recently launched on Google Play (and soon on iTunes), Big Bird’s Words is an app that uses verbal cues to teach vocabulary. In the game, Big Bird and your child help Sesame Street’s friends find items on their lists, such as shopping for Cookie Monster at the grocery store. Once everything is checked off, kids can explore further by taking pictures of everyday objects matching each item and learning additional related words.
2. Elmo’s Story Maker, $3.99 Based off Sesame Street’s “Elmo The Musical” segment, this app for iPad and Kindle allows kids to tell a story from beginning to end. They can choose or create their own characters and pick special objects as the tale plays out. The app reads your story out loud, or you can make a special recording. Later, share with family and friends through email or social media.
3. Sesame Street Family Play, $0.99 Lacking inspiration for new games to play with your kids? The Family Play app available on iTunes features 150 ideas! Whether you’re at home or on-the-go, this generator will help you find an activity based on location, number of kids, and objects around you. Each idea encourages playtime outside the screen, proving technology isn’t totally necessary for a good time.
Also on our radar: Sesame Go, a video-on-demand service that will offer content from the show on any web-based application. Currently in Beta testing, the service will be available to fans in the next few months, proving Sesame Street really is just about everywhere you look…or click and tap.
If 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, ISeeMe.com has provided Parents.com 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.
And stay tuned for my full interview with Mary GrandPré and Jennifer Dewing in the coming weeks!
If you had to sum up the birth of your child in one word, which one would you pick?
WOW. There isn’t one word that is strong enough to describe the feeling. Birth was absolutely incredible. My husband said it was a miracle, and I agree that it was pretty miraculous. I didn’t realize I could love something so deeply.
Some new moms write down when they feed the baby and change her, and how long she sleeps, so they can learn their child’s pattern. Have you done the same? What is Carmen’s schedule?
I was writing everything down at the beginning, especially before she gained back her birth weight. Now I am at the point where Carmen and I are in sync with each other, so I no longer have to write everything down. Carmen wakes up around 11 P.M. and then again around 2 A.M. and 5:30 A.M.
I read that baby Carmen has her days and nights confused. How are you coping with the situation?
We had some nights that were rough. She is up every two to three hours because she needs to eat, but she also likes to hang out and spend time with us.
What has been the biggest adjustment you had to make?
I am definitely sleeping differently, but I think my last trimester prepared me for the lack of sleep, because I was waking up all the time needing the bathroom! (Laughs) Aside from the sleep issue, I’ve also had to adjust to having another person in the house. My little person has needs, and because we love her so much, we want to cater to her every single need and make her as happy as possible. Another thing I have adjusted: priorities. I used to run to this meeting and that meeting, and now my life revolves around home, where we build everything around Carmen’s schedule.
What books or websites have you found useful?
When I was pregnant I read, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel. If I have any other questions, I go right to the Internet or I ask my baby nurse or my mom.
What books do you like to read to Carmen?
Are You My Mother?, by P.D. Eastman. I even read it to her in Spanish because I want her to speak Spanish. When I read this book, Carmen just coos, shifts her head from side to side, and smiles.
Your husband has been down the baby road before, so has he given you any advice?
It was so long ago — it’s really apples and oranges. He feels that this is a brand-new experience. But you can tell he has done this before. He’s so at ease when he holds the baby. I honestly feel like we are both new parents who are taking this journey together.
If you’re like many busy parents across the country (including us), it can be tough to come up with quick meal ideas to keep your family healthy and happy. Enter food blog superstar Stacie Billis. The author of “One Hungry Mama,” a family-friendly food blog with tips, tricks and recipes to encourage healthy eating, is also a child development specialist who produced her own organic family food brand. She believes that keeping an eye on what kids eat is just as important as monitoring what they play with and watch on TV. For the month of October, Billis will be joining the fun over on our Pinterest page and pinning her favorite recipes, parenting tricks and other One Hungry Mama-approved picks.
In addition to being our guest pinner, Billis also lends her voice to the Huffington Post and Cool Mom Picks, where she is a regular contributor. Her work has also been featured in publications including Parents magazine and Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine to name just a few.
Walt Disney World in the August heat. With my two girls, ages 6 and 2, and a wife who is seven months pregnant.
Friends questioned our sanity.
It was a blast.
Sure, it was hot, and rained almost every afternoon. And we had our (normal, everyday) challenges, including occasionally sluggish kids, disagreements over what to do next, and increasingly frequent tantrums from the younger one. But watching my normally reserved 6-year-old light up in excitement at her first glimpse of Cinderella’s castle and my 2-year-old give bear hugs to every character we encountered, there was no doubt we’d chosen wisely for our vacation.
I’d visited Disney several times as a child, but wow, has the place grown since I last went 20+ years ago! We stayed at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort—one of the newest and the biggest of Disney World’s now-25 hotels (up from the two or three that existed back then). We had a large one-bedroom suite, three swimming pools to choose from, and many fun movie-themed elements all around. It was a full 20-minute drive to the Magic Kingdom, but regular bus service made the comuting easy. (Full disclosure: Our trip was partly paid for by Disney, for which I am extremely grateful.)
My memories of visiting Disney World as a kid are all about rides, more rides, and the occasional parade or encounter with Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck. And those are all still there, many of the rides virtually unchanged since then. But in four days, we went on only a handful of rides, instead spending our time with that newer Disney obsession: princesses!
Although I’d heard that the place was now thoroughly infused with princesses, I was still surprised at how much the, um, princess-industrial complex defined our experience. And thankfully so, considering my kids were not so excited about many of the rides. For my older one especially, finding ever-more princesses—even ones like Mulan, who she hardly knew of beforehand—was one of the most exciting parts of the trip. Despite the often-long lines, she’s wait her turn, collect their autographs, and take photos with them. We went to a couple of princess-themed meals, and she even had a “princess makeover” at, yes, the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.
I was continually surprised and thrilled at my older daughter’s eagerness to buy into the fiction (what we called in high-school English “willing suspension of disbelief”). If you ask her, she will tell you outright that these are actresses dressing up as princesses, that Rapunzel’s flowing hair is a wig, and that the woman playing Cinderella sleeps in a regular home at night and not in that impressive castle at the end of Main Street USA in Disney World.
And yet, there she was, hugging them and posing for pictures, eager to find the next one and the next one. She, who is usually too shy to speak to adults, would ask them whether they remembered her from an earlier encounter, and at one point expressed hope that Cinderella would recognize her because she was wearing the same clothes as she was earlier in the day.
Between princesses, we did manage to catch some rides and encounter Disney more like the way I did as a kid. My little one loved “it’s a small world,” as you can see in the video below, while the older one took to the calm of the PeopleMover. I’d worried that Epcot would be too older-child focused for them, but they both loved the Journey Into Imagination ride, after which we visited different “countries” in Epcot’s World Showcase .
And me? I loved the Main Street Electrical Parade, the after-dark procession of brilliantly lit up floats and dancers, as brilliant and festive as I remember it. I took my older daughter twice, returning with her to the park after we put her younger sister to sleep to buy snacks and get a curbside seat.
With all the change coming up in our lives—new school year, new baby, even new sleeping arrangements at home—we felt our kids needed a period of extra attention and fun. At Disney, we let them call the shots (more or less!), and mission accomplished.
While there, the cynic in me kept rolling my eyes at the inescapable, constant invocations of the “magic of Disney.” (When my wife called housekeeping after our younger daughter vomited all over the older one’s bed, the receptionist, following Disney protocol, wished her, “Have a magical evening.”) But seeing my kids’ reactions to all they experienced, it was hard not to use the “m” word.
“Where do babies come from?” is a question that most parents may not feel equipped to answer on the spot. Thankfully, “What Makes a Baby” by Cory Silverberg recently came across my desk, and the picture book immediately grabbed my attention (and the attention of several colleagues) with its bright colors.
The book starts with the basics of conception by introducing an egg and a sperm and explaining how both are needed to create a baby. In a smart move, the story avoids elaborating on the physical ways babies are made (i.e. through sex, IVF, and surrogates) and focuses instead on the behind-the-scenes biological process. Short and breezy sentences explain the fertilization of the egg and sperm (“When an egg and a sperm meet, they swirl together in a special kind of dance. As they dance, they talk to each other.”), the baby’s gestation period in the uterus, and the baby’s eventual birth. While it may feel odd to read and say words like egg, sperm, uterus, and vagina out loud to your kids, the book presents these natural terms in a matter-of-fact way to temper any squeamishness and embarrassment.
Silverberg, a sex educator, started a Kickstarter campaign to fund the book and to cover the cost of illustrations and the printing. Good thing he surpassed his goal since the drawings by Fiona Smyth really give the book an extra special zing. Even though there are drawings of a uterus and two birth scenes (vaginal and C-section) that may also seem jarring at first, the round cartoon shapes and the neon colors give the book a fun, happy, and modern feel. The book is appropriate for ages 4-8, and you can find it on Amazon.com and BN.com.
Now parents can have easy-going, straightforward, and (hopefully) painless discussions with kids about the miracle of birth!