Meeting Cookie Monster and other highlights from the 2014 PBS Annual Meeting

Once again, I’m attending the PBS Annual Meeting as part of the PBS Kids VIP ambassadorship program.  This time, the meeting is in beautiful San Francisco, where we’re getting a chance to enjoy the local restaurants after sessions, as well as take in a few sights.



The agenda for the PBS Annual Meeting serves as a preview for the upcoming year for the channel’s various shows and specials.  It’s a chance for the executives at stations across the US to engage with PBS execs, show creators and others involved in creating content for PBS’ platforms.  

Lots of great independent programs, Martha Stewart, How We Get To Now with Steven Johnson are among the highlights so far.

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Because so many of us embrace PBS for their stellar programming, it’s safe to say that we can relate to one—or all—of their current and upcoming  shows.  Like many of you, I grew up watching Sesame Street, Reading Rainbow and the Electric Company.  In a home where English was my first language, yet my parents spoke a different language, these educational shows served as a supplement to my immersion to American culture, and ultimately, my version of preschool.  


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Of course, this was *ahem* 30 something years ago, nevertheless, this sentiment rings true today for many families of different socio-economic backgrounds.

My fellow PBS Kids VIP @urbanmama tweeted this today during an earlier session:

@PBSKids is the leader in school readiness.  For families who don’t have access to preschool education #PBSKids DOES teach #PBSam


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After a long day of traveling (ignore my crazy hair and loco face), yesterday we had the pleasure of meeting THE Cookie Monster and his muppeteer, Emmy nominated David Rudman.  Cookie and the man who brings him to life were so lovely in making us laugh.  But really, as if meeting Cookie wasn’t amazing enough, he answered questions for us and did personalized videos too.  I mean, really?


Here’s the quick chat I had with the Muppet of the hour, Cookie Monster.

A big push on the PBSKIds pipeline is Oddsquad.  It’s a little bit Men in Black, Airplane and SpyKids.  Like other PBS Kids’ shows, this new live action show embraces math concepts to solve problems.  It looks like they hope to tap into the school age demo, perhaps that 5-10 category.  Including the snappy humor and strong female leads, I personally appreciated the pronounced diversity among the characters. 

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One of the lead boys looks just like my older boy—this is huge for mixed kids who have often wondered why other shows don’t have characters that look like them.  In a few hours, we’ll be meeting Tim McKeon and Adam Peltzman, the witty creators of OddSquad.  I can’t wait for this one!


Stay tuned for more PBS Kids updates on here or catch me on Twitter or Instagram for live updates at #PBSam


TTPM Highlights Top Trends and Best in Play at Spring and Summer Showcase

It may feel like we were just unwrapping Christmas gifts, but thankfully, after the longest winter ever, we can finally focus on spring and summer.  And with a new season comes more new toys!


 Last week, TTPM highlighted the key top trends and best in play at their annual spring and summer showcase. Time to Play Mag, which has expanded and officially rebranded to TTPM, is the same juggernaut and resource for reviews on playthings and beyond.  



The TTPM editors pinpointed three trends that will contribute to the popularity of toys this summer, including: bigger blockbuster movie lineup, innovative outdoor toys and breakout hits.  

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The movies that are expected amp up toy sales include Transformers: Age of Extinction, Disney Planes: Fire and Rescue, Godzilla, and The Amazing Spider- Man 2.  We’re hardcore Spider-Man fans, so our house alone may contribute to this increase in sales.  Untitled


Innovative outdoor toys such as automated bubble blowers, our favorite: the bike bubbler and Grab n’ Go Chalk Games are just a few of the many toys that are sure to keep the kids entertained for hours.  There are so many fantastic breakout hits, but Paw Patrol, Lego Movie, The Happy’s and not surprisingly, Frozen take top honors in this category.

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There were quite a few standouts for spring and summer toys in the showcase.  Ride-on toys such as Razor’s Power Ride 360 and the Kawasaki TMNT 4-wheelers made it on to the hot list.  Personally, Hasbro’s Spider-Man toys and TMNT Combat-a-Bubbles are on our current list of must-haves.



I have tons of photos to share from the event which I’ll include within this post.  I also did a gifting suite haul, something I had fun doing with my older son. 

Attending the TTPT showcases is always a highlight of the season for me, but getting to test out the toys via the gifting suite is a true highlight for the whole family.  So, many thanks to the companies who participate in the gifting suite. 


Best Baby and Kid Foods: All about Avocados

Happy Cinco de Mayo! In a different lifetime, I spent many years working in a Mexican restaurant slinging margaritas and chips and salsa! These days, we enjoy a kid-friendly Mexican dishes close to home.

In the name of Mexican pride and heritage, I thought I’d share some information we learned about one of our favorite fruits, the avocado. Native to Mexico and Central America, the avocado is often called one of nature’s perfect foods.

Naturally, this fruit makes one of the best first foods for babies because of its creamy texture and good fats. According to, avocados have 3.5 grams of unsaturated fats, which are known to be important for normal growth and development of the central nervous system and brain.

Since we’re on the topic of avocados, I learned a lot about avocados recently. I had the chance to ask Chef Pati Jinich, host of Pati’s Mexican Table, about avocados and here are just some questions I asked. She kindly answered my questions in a video, so be sure to check it out. Btw, that’s not my voice asking the questions but you already knew that.

1.  What are your tips on choosing avocados at the grocery store?  

2.  How do you suggest on properly cutting and storing avocados?  

3.  What are your favorite avocado recipes for babies and kids?

4.  How do you serve avocados to your family for breakfast or brunch?

5.  Do you have any thoughts on the recent news that avocados crops may be affected by the west coast droughts?  

6.  Can you tell us about the different types of avocados and which is your favorite kind for certain recipes?

7.  Can you share your favorite recipe for guacamole, which is one of my family’s most-consumed food.

And here’s a fun recipe from of Pati’s Mexican Table for you fellow guac-loving families. 

Mango Guacamole with Grilled Tortilla Wedges Guacamole de Mango

Serves: 6


2 ripe Hass avocados, halved, pitted, meat scooped out and roughly mashed or diced
1 cup diced, fresh, ripe, peeled mango
3 tablespoons chopped white onion
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeño or serrano chile, seeded optional, or to taste
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste
Corn or flour tortillas, cut into wedges and grilled

To Prepare
Gently mix the avocado, mango, onion, cilantro, chile, lime juice and salt in a bowl, or mash in a molcajete. Serve with grilled tortilla wedges.

First Look: LeapFrog Unveils LeapBand

Fitness Trackers just made a big leap, but this time, they’re tracking the kids. Educational entertainment powerhouse, LeapFrog, unveiled the LeapBand, a wearable activity tracker designed for kids. Part gaming device, part fitness tracker and part virtual pet, the LeapBand is touted as being the first of its kind.


The LeapBand activity tracker gets kids moving and having fun with 50 different activities and challenges, tracking a child’s physical moves so the more active a child is, the more points they earn with their virtual pet. As the child earns points through active play, they can unlock additional games, challenges, levels of play and virtual rewards for their on-screen pet.  

Just like a gaming device, the kid is rewarded with play.  The wearable aspect creates a new dimension for kids who are on the go. The more activity and physical movement a kid does, the more points they get. 


My first thoughts? As an entry level fitness tracker for kids, this thing is pretty unique.  It retails for around $40, and it’s something that can engage an active kid who also appreciates games and virtual pets.  Because the device is geared to 4-7 year olds, the LeapBand is image-based, as opposed to text and numbers often seen in the adult fitness trackers. Another difference for the LeapBand is that data collection will be geared to parents and not the manufacturer.


The fact that we “need” a device like this is a whole different discussion.  Physical activity should begin at home; a toy shouldn’t be the sole motivator to get moving.  Ultimately, there’s nothing like playing outdoors totally unplugged.  That said, I appreciate that this technology encourages physical activity and healthy habits.

With the likes of Nike Fuel, Jawbone Ups and Fitbit catering to the adult fitness market, LeapFrog is hoping to tap into this emerging trend. According to NPD Group, the overall digital fitness device market is said to be worth $330 million in 2013. As tablets for kids are on the rise, could wearable tech be the next big thing? The reaction I’m seeing and hearing so far sound decidedly skeptical. Ultimately, it’s the consumers who determine the need and demand so, we’ll see!



My older guy is at the older end of the target demo. I can see him getting a kick out of feeding his unicorn or other virtual pet.  As an active athlete, however, the LeapBand would strictly be an at-home toy.

Between school and after school sports, I’m not sure he’d benefit from the fitness tracking.  Is this something his school and coaches would allow? Probably not. Nevertheless, having the ability to care for his pet on his wrist? That, right there, would keep him entertained at doctor’s offices or playing in the backyard.


At the launch event, we were able to get a quick glimpse of the LeapBand.  Here’s a quick demo:


Weigh in: is the LeapBand something your child would enjoy? Or do you think wearable fitness trackers for kids is unnecessary?

Brain food: Recipes and Coconut Oil for Kids

Lately, coconut oil has been touted as quite the wonder food.  Though it’s been around for a long time, it’s now making the rounds as a natural beauty aid, as well as a healthier option for cooking with oils.  Beyond that, research on coconut oil has revealed that it works wonders for the brain, something that’s gotten my attention considering our ongoing trials and tribulations with pediatric epilepsy.  

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According to Food for the Brain: 

Virgin-pressed coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) which convert directly into ketones. Recent evidence suggests ketones may lessen symptoms in those with Alzheimer’s, as well as children with epilepsy.

Ketones are also made directly from coconut oil (virgin-pressed is best to avoid any hydrogenated fats) which contains medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs for short. These convert directly in ketones which the body can burn for energy rather than store as fat.



The Wall Street Journal backs the positive effects of coconut oil:  Early research on coconut oil and Alzheimer’s disease shows a possible protective effect on neurons. In a study published earlier this year in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, Canadian researchers found mouse brain cells treated with coconut oil were somewhat protected from the toxic effects of amyloid proteins, which build up in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.


 Coconut oil and Kids

With all the good news about coconut oil, how can you introduce it into the kids’ diets and routines in such a way that works for everyone.  It’s pretty simple, actually.  The easiest way to include coconut oil is to just add a teaspoon here and there to foods that you would eat with a spoon.  I’ve been known to add coconut oil to meals and snacks such as:




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I picked up a Costco-sized tub of Carrington Farms coconut oil and we’ve had fun experimenting with meals and other daily uses. Coincidentally, after I bought my own coconut oil, Carrington Farms contacted me to participate in their April campaign.  As such, in addition to sharing how we use coconut oil, I thought I’d share some tried and true recipes that the kids love.

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I especially love adding, or rather, substituting coconut oil in baking. Because it tolerates high temperatures, coconut oil is a great substitute for shortening, butter, margarine, or vegetable oil. Here’s a delicious waffle recipe where I’ve incorporated coconut oil instead of butter.  These waffles are so crisp and delish, I’ll never go back to the boxed versions again.


Whole Wheat Waffles

 Recipe source: 100 Days of Real Food

•2 large eggs

•1 ¾ cups milk 

•¼ cup melted coconut oil 

•1 tablespoon honey

•½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

•¼ teaspoon baking soda

•1 ½ cups whole-wheat flour 

•2 teaspoons baking powder

•? teaspoon salt


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1.Preheat waffle iron.

2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, oil, honey, cinnamon and baking soda until combined.

3. Add in flour, baking powder and salt and whisk together until lumps disappear.

4.  When waffle iron is hot, put butter or spray and ladle batter onto center of iron.

5. cook until golden and crisp.  

6. Top with syrup and enjoy! 


And finally, here’s one more delicious recipe that includes coconut oil:

Banana Bread and Chocolate Chip Muffins

 Adapted from the banana bread recipe as seen in Feeding Your Baby Day by Day by Fiona Wilcock


1/4 cup of melted coconut oil

2 large bananas

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

2 tsp baking powder

handful of chocolate chips

 1. Prehead the oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare pan; I made mini muffins

2. Mash bananas until smooth and place in mixing bowl.  Stir in oil, eggs, and vanilla.

3. Sift flours and baking powder, adding back any that stays in sifter.

4 Stir the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and beat together until smooth.  Pour or spoon into prepared pan.  Bake for 30 minutes or until golden.

5. Cool on wire rack and enjoy


Other uses for coconut oil

Aside from adding to food, coconut oil is an amazing natural moisturizer.  We’ve used it for dry hands, burns, conditioner, diaper cream and one of my faves, as the oil in my DIY wipe solution.


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Great Spring Toys and Gear

Spring is finally in full swing.  Even though it’s still chilly, we’re resisting the cold.  It’s pretty safe to say that we officially have spring fever.

And with spring fever, there’s plenty of fun new toys and play things to get excited about this Spring.


With that in mind, I thought I’d round up some cool new toys and products to get you excited for spring and the prospect of the kids playing outdoors until the street lights come on.








Crayola Grab & Go Games


Chalk Grab  N Go Games  Foot Hockey 

Crayola’s new Grab & Go Games is one of my favorites this seasons.  The kit includes chalk and accessories needed to play an outdoor game such as bean bag toss, foot hockey, chip shot golf and an obstacle course.  These are games we’ve been playing for years, but Crayola, as always, has the foresight to conveniently package these games for easy outdoor play. Grab & Go

Games retails for about $4.99



Tricksters Helmets

Tricksters Helmets are a line of plush helmets from the makers of Pillow Pets. TrickstersHelmets

The helmets, themselves, are the hard, protective kind that can be used for bike riding, scootering and beyond, but what makes Tricksters different is the plush exterior. 

 They can be found at or at select specialty retailers.The Trickster Helmets come in five different styles: Rainbow Bear, Flower Power Cat, Lulu Leopard, Comfy Pandy and Snuggly Puppy. PTRU1 17074604enh z6

YBike GLX Pro

This 3-wheeled scooter features an adjustable handle and super-efficient foot brake.  The sleek design and compact frame set this scooter apart from other well known brands.  What I like most about this scooter is that my 2 year old can use the scooter in the handlebar’s lowest position and my oldest can glide across the street in one of the middle settings.  The YBike GLX pro is a scooter that will go and grow with the kids! A more thorough review to come!  California New Dessus copy

California Maverix

This remote controlled board takes street skating to a whole new level.  Geared to older kids and more experienced skate enthusiasts, the California model was designed to be light weight and has a variety of speed variations. Equipped with a wireless remote control the 3 positions (Beginner / Medium / Expert) and brake are all powered by a simple movement of the trigger! It has a power motor 150W and max weight 100lbs  

Brer Rabbit Golf Set

Golf Set copyBrer Rabbit Toy’s Golf Bag is a fun beginner set for wanna-be golfers.  It comes with three toy golf clubs, two tees, two holes, two numbered flags and five toy golf balls.  It’s ideal for preschoolers who are interested in putting, but not quite ready for the driving range.  It’s just hitting shelves now and retails for about $16.99 633812 toddler dome climber xalt1

Little Tikes Tunnel N Dome Climber

Little Tikes new dome-shaped climber channels play structures of yesterday.  It features various sized holes to accommodate those who need easy or challenging climbing play.  The hiding spots, too, would make for great preschool play. I love that this outdoor toy provides endless play patterns for younger kids and beyond.  The Tunnel N Dome Climber retails for $149.99 

NERF BASH BALL A4832 copyNerf N-Sports Bash Ball

Resembling a Nerf-textured O-ball, the Bash Ball has a cool hollowed Nerf foam core with grip-able holes.  The holes gives kids a better grip to pass, fling, whip or whatever!  This ball is one of our absolute favorite toys right now.  It’s been fun for both my bigger boy and my littler guy; and an absolutely ideal toy for OT and PT.  This is such a cool innovation, I’m excited to check out even more NERF N-Sports gear!   


NERF Rebelle Star Shot Target Set and Crossbow 

D603819650569047F564AD06CF256798The super popular Nerf Rebelle line is unveiling several more products to their lineup. The Star Shot Target Set and Crossbow is among the new products, and will help make target practice even easier with the red laser light that helps to pinpoint the target.  The Star Shot target set includes a crossbow, large size target and comes with 6 suction cup darts.NERF Rebelle Star Shot Target Set and Crossbow    P36353 0M 1

Gazillion Bubbles Typhon 2.0

When old fashioned bubbles just aren’t enough: you can create a gazillion bubbles instantly with the Gazillion Bubbles Typhoon 2.0.  There’s no  pump and or wait time, just massive amounts of bubbles with this fun contraption.. In fact, this bubble fountain blows more than 5,000 bubbles per minute. 


The Doozers Debuts on Hulu + Giveaway

If you’re a huge fan of furry, cute monsters like I am, then surely, you’re a fan of Fraggle Rock.  From the imagination of Jim Henson, the Fraggles was a hit show from the 80s that followed the world of their name sake.  It was a musical, muppet-centric world that made many, many children happy!

And from the Fraggles, several characters emerged as cult faves.  One of the all-time favorites were certainly the Doozers, who are all set for a modern reboot with a new preschool show on Hulu.  

Doozers Poster

If you know anything about the Doozers, they’re all about construction and doing things together with their crew. They’re doers and put ideas into motion. The Doozers focuses on four little Doozers, dubbed the Pod Squad, who are a group of best buds who play together and share a love of inventing.

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 We had a first look, and so far, we’re loving what we’re seeing.  It doesn’t appear as though there’s a curriculum, but the show is fun, fluid and engaging.  I love the vibrant colors, helpful interaction and relatable language. I can’t wait to see what sort of things Spike, Molly, Bolt, Flex, and Daisy Wheel get into on The Doozers. 

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 A few years ago when The Doozers first hit the tv radar, I reported about the news of this upcoming show.  It sounds like that show was a totally different premise, but I’m just glad The Doozers show came into fruition, and I just love that they landed over at Hulu.  I appreciate that The Doozers are a Hulu Plus exclusive; this brings a new dynamic to subscription-based viewing for families, and one that I’m thrilled to see expand.  

The Doozers is a Hulu Original produced by The Jim Henson Company and DHX Media.  The Doozers launched last week with seven episodes on Hulu Plus, followed by a cycle of three more new episodes every third Friday.  




In honor of the Doozer debut, we’re giving away a 3-month subscription to Hulu.  Just comment to let me know why you’re excited about the Doozers on Hulu.  I’ll pick one winner at random at the end of the week!


Watch Doozers on Hulu at

 check out the trailer right here:


Five Things the Mets Have Taught Us

In light of the most recent cheating scandal involving a different baseball team across town, I thought I’d highlight the FIVE most important things that the Mets have taught us.


Sometimes, it’s not about winning, but learning to lose gracefully.

One of the first things my husband, a life-long Mets fan, ever told me when I crossed the Mets’ fan threshold: the Mets are a team who play with their hearts, but be forewarned that your heart, too, may get a little broken too.  Off the top of my head, 2001 and 2007, my heart got a little roughed up.  But on the upside, my heart as grown to see my boys now included as we make new Mets traditions and memories.  It’s true, we might now win every single game, but that’s not what baseball is to us, anyway.  You win some, you lose some, and for us, it’s important that our guys learn it from a team of class acts.

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Teamwork is for winners

One of life’s lessons is definitely that teamwork makes life a little smoother.  And so, understanding baseball and how each position supports each teammate is a great way to reinforce that teamwork is for winners.  A pitcher communicates with his catcher and the infield works with the outfield; at the end of the day, it’s how the players work together that underscore their strength.


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America’s pastime is also our quality family time

If there’s one thing I love about spring and summer: it’s spending time with my guys watching baseball.  The fact that we get to go to Citi Field every now and then is an absolute treat.  Every other day, though, we’re perfectly content watching baseball at home together!  

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Even a hometown guy can be Captain America

Virginia Beach, which is in Hampton Roads, is our hometown.  We grew up watching many AAA players when they’d play with the Tides.  But it’s David Wright who is one of our hometown guys with whom we have a loyal allegiance.  We’ve watched him flourish as a professional ball player in our new hometown in NY and love to cheer him on every chance we get.

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It’s all about the Peanuts and Cracker Jacks

Ok, so we all like to eat.  When we go to baseball games, we absolutely LOVE indulging in snacks, especially the typical baseball treats: peanuts and Cracker Jacks. It’s like a rite of passage eating and watching the game.  They even have a whole stretch and song devoted to it!  Lucky us, Citi Field has quite a few delicious treats and shops to choose from.




Moms and Families Day

Does your family love watching the Mets as much as we do?  Don’t forget about the Moms and Families Day on Sunday, April 27 at 1:10.  There’s a meet and greet with Mr. Met pre-grame, too!  The package includes a game ticket, hot dog & drink, a Mets lanyard & ticket holder and an exclusive meet-and-greet with Mr. Met!



SheBuysCars and Toyota Host Girls’ Night Out at NYIAS

Earlier this week, at the New York International Auto Show (NYIAS), car manufacturers unveiled a lineup of new and concept cars for the auto industry and the public to revel and revere.


Just before the doors opened to the general public, however, together with an esteemed group of women bloggers, I was able to get a sneak peek of events.  SheBuysCars, Toyota and NYIAS, who were the organizers and sponsors of the Girls’ Night Out event, hosted a wonderful presentation and fun events for what was, perhaps, the first female-focused gathering of its kind at NYIAS.

According to an article in Forbes

Here’s what is true: Women buy just over half of all cars sold in the United States and take part in 80 percent of all family car-buying decisions. And women car buyers do more research than men, generally speaking.


As a tech enthusiast and blogger who has been to my fair share of car and auto media events, I absolutely appreciated the girls’ night out presented by SheBuysCars.  It was a platform for the NYIAS to speak to us directly, and for us, women and members of the media, to get a firsthand look at the some of the most sleek, chic and technologically-advanced cars—even if some were just for show.  


I loved that my friends and fashion experts, Audrey and Vera, were on hand to discuss trends in fashion.  More often than not, style and fashion trends are parallel with style aspects of new cars.  The colors, designs and how it all meshes together, makes all the style choices come full circle.

Just a few of the cars and sights I loved while taking a tour of the NYIAS showroom floor:







The NYIAS is open until tomorrow, if interested in checking out these rides for yourself.

Welcoming Spring with Julius Jr.

The snow has finally thawed and Spring is starting—just barely—to sprout.  We’re anxiously waiting for warmer weather so we can enjoy the playground again, but until then, we’re keeping busy with crafts and games.


For March, Saban sent us a fun outdoor-themed packaged with Julius Jr. in mind.  In order to get ready for spring, they sent us some fun activity sheets, which were created  in partnership with the Center for Childhood Creativity.  The activities highlight the CCC’s overall goal with Julius Jr.’s themes of adventure active play, imagination and imagination. Parents, caregivers and teachers can access these materials on the Center for Childhood Creativity’s website or pick them up when visiting San Francisco’s Bay Area Discovery Museum.


Sadly, it’s either been way too cold for us to all of these activities, but we’ve tried a few when we had a reprieve in the weather.  The Nature Hunt, which is something that both the toddler and six year can participate in, is a prefect way to rediscover nature after our brutal winter.  The best part, though, is watching the toddler collect items or discover items he’s not familiar with!

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And of course, to go along with the fun activity sheets, the boys got their own tumblers to help us stay hydrated outside.  Crossing fingers for more sunshine and warmth and playground. 

Julius Jr. can be seen on Nick Jr. on weekdays at 5 and Sundays at 10am.

Full disclosure: as a Saban brand ambassador, I received products to provide content for this post.