Undoubtedly, there’s a lot of excitement in the air for the holidays, but there’s another important celebration–the Celebration of Lights– that starts next week.
In 2009, Hanukkah begins at sundown on December 11th. For those that don’t know, according to the interwebs, Jews have given Hanukkah gelt to friends and family since the 17th century, but the custom of giving more elaborate gifts has only been around since the 19th century.
Gift-giving goes hand-in-hand with fabulous kid gifts, of course. One of my lovely Jewish friends mentioned this site, and I was hooked. They had me at Jonathan Adler!
Over in the kid gift ideas, I spotted the Jewish Holiday Puzzles. Not only does it include a Hanukkah-themed puzzle, but this set includes Shabbat, Passover and Rosh Hashanah Puzzle as well. By Kid Kraft, the puzzles feature diverse shapes and comes with a puzzle rack for convenient storage. And thank goodness, all paints used are lead free and non-toxic.
Wooden puzzles are definitely a favorite for us, and for many other families. The fact that four puzzles come in the Jewish Holiday Puzzles set, combined with its entertainment, educational and cultural value make these puzzles an ideal Hanukkah gift! These puzzles are in the $30 price point (not bad for 4 wooden puzzles!) and can be found on sites like Modern Tribe.
Zoobies are a plush 3-in-1 concept: Each pet is a stuffed animal, a pillow, and a blanket all in one. The velcro latches on each Zoobie is child friendly and can be easily unfastened to transform the animals into the pillows. The zippers at the bottom unzip to reveal the blanket inside. Each blanket can be detached from the pet for machine washing.
Aside from the vibrant colors, great selection of animals and that they’re appropriate from babies to big kids, Zoobies make a practical gift/toy/lovey and are ideal for traveling. They’re durable and truly cozy and soft. Our Tama is often involved an various toddler accident and spills and has had his fair share of baths in the washing machine. A year later, he still looks just like Santa brought him to us.
Tonight is one of my most favorite nights for holiday tv: it’s the annual Rockefeller Tree Lighting on NBC! This year, is a little different since we’re not even in the NYC are at the moment, but it’s sure to be just as amazing!
As in years past, this tree lighting will be ushered in by a host of fabulous celebs and one of my favorites, Zachary Levi of Chuck will be hosting alongside of Jane Krakowski of 30 Rock Fame.
The tree lighting celebration will feature Michael Buble, Aretha Franklin, Alicia Keys, Barry Manilow, The Roots, Shakira, and The Radio City Rockettes performing a mix of some festive tunes. I heard some rumblings that the Electric Mayhem (as in The Muppets!) will perform along with Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, and Pepe the King Prawn tonight as well!
Aside from the Tree Lighting Celebration on NBC, be sure to catch day 2 of ABC Family’s annual “25 Days of Christmas.” The ABC Family 25 Days of Christmas will features a great lineup of holiday family movies, with the Pixar Shorts as the highlight for me.
Starting at 7:00 p.m. tonight as part of the 25 Days of Christmas on ABC Family, Disney will present 20 “Pixar Short Films.” The lineup of shorts will include: “Presto,” “Lifted,” “Jack-Jack Attack,” “BURN-E,” “Unidentified Flying Mater,” “Adventures of Andre and Wally B.,” “Boundin,” “For the Birds,” “Geri’s Game,” “Knick Knack,” “Luxo Jr.,” “Mater and the Ghostlight,” “Mike’s New Car,” “One Man Band,” “Red’s Dream,” “Tin Toy,” “Your Friend the Rat,” “Rescue Squad Mater,” “Mater the Greater” and “El-Materdor.”
Jack Jack Attack and Boundin’ are our family’s absolute favorites!
The Tree Lighting Ceremony AND Two fun hours of Pixar awesomeness! Holiday programming just doesn’t get any better than tonight!
I hope everyone had a fun and festive Thanksgiving! And if you hit the sales on Friday, I hope you found some fantastic deals and made it home unscathed. My girlfriend and I are still reeling from the lack of sleep on Thursday night/Friday morning since we hit Toys R Us at midnight and pretty much kept going until 11am!
But for those of you who have saved your money (and sanity) for Cyber Monday, there are lots of great deals! Most of these last until midnight, so be sure to check them out! I’ll be sure to post more as I see them!
Here’s my quick roundup of Cyber Monday deals:
Amazon video game deals For the teen and tween set, undoubtedly, a few video games will make it to their gift list! Need some ideas, or better yet, some great deals? Be sure to head to Amazon today for some great Cyber Monday deals!
LeapFrog has a great lineup of Cyber Monday deals today, with select Tag Books and Leapster games as low as $5! I picked up a Leapster for my kid at the TRU Black Friday sale, so I will more than likely pick up a few more Leapster games for to add to the collection. We’re huge LeapFrog fans!
· 25% to 75% off sitewide
· Select Leapster games as low as $5
· Select Tag Books as low as $5
· Up to 75% off on our gift packs
· Spend $50, get free shipping
One of my personal favorite distributors is having some great Cyber Monday deals that start at noon and end at 9pm EST, including 30% off Anka High Chairs and 40% off Svan Scooters! Be sure to go here for their complete list of Cyber Monday Deals.
I cleaned up at Target on Black Friday, but it looks like they have a number of really great deals today, with the $500 off a Philips 47? 1080p 120Hz LCD TV catching my eye. You can check out their Cyber Monday deals here. Here’s a great coupon for $7 off of $70 plus free shipping.
I’m a bit late on sharing this great info., but Stride Rite is having a ton of fan-only Cyber Monday giveaways…including a mystery grand prize worth $600 and more giveaways every hour! Make sure you become a fan to score some great deals on their shoes, which includes great lines such as Robeez, Saucony, Keds and much more!
Online only & today only! Free shipping on any order & save 20% off. New line online now & in most stores 12/2. http://www.gymboree.com
As I’m finalizing my holiday gift guides much later than I hoped, I just wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude. With Thanksgiving just a few days away and all, I have so much to be thankful for—our health and happiness at the top of my list.
We make it a habit to start AND end our days with books. Like many of you, books will always play a huge role in our family life, but unfortunately, that’s not the case for everyone.
Did you know that over 80 percent of childcare centers serving low-income children lack age-appropriate books? And a recent study shows that the ratio of books per child in middle income neighborhoods is 13 to 1, while in low-income neighborhoods, the ratio is 1 age-appropriate book for every 300 children.
Christmas is in the air, guys. Just this week, I attended 3 holiday-related events including this fun one that train lovers would enjoy!
Well loved among train enthusiasts and little kids alike, Lionel Electric Trains, recently opened its first pop up retail shop in Rockefeller Center. In its 100+ year history, this is the first time Lionel Trains has set up shop in New York, 30 Rock on 50th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues to be exact.
Because of its high traffic location, this pop up shop in the heart of midtown attracted a flock of tourists and shoppers. The Lionel store featured various train sets, including an impressive set that was activated with the push of a button.
Last week, I had the privilege of being invited to the annual Blogger’s Brunch here in NYC, where a number of influential bloggers networked and interacted with various companies and marketers. One of the organizations present at the brunch was Goddard Schools, a school that I know a few of my friends and family have turned to in the past.
Goddard Schools had a lot of great information to share with us bloggers, but one piece of information that was especially helpful for NKT was their 10 Eco-Friendly Toys Under $30. Together with Eco-Child’s Play, Goddard Schools unveiled a really great list of eco-friendly AND budget friendly toys.
Things have been hectic around here lately. Besides my packed schedule of events, I’ve been working on my Holiday Gift Guide (WITH giveaways!) that will be revealed next week. In the meantime, I thought I’d post a quick gift idea.
Via Blogspark, Crayola sent us the 150-count Telescoping Crayon Tower to test out and review. At first I was reluctant about opening up this package because my guy is notorious for destroying anything that comes in large quantities. But surprise, he proved me wrong!
Because of the cool telescoping feature, my toddler was amazed at how the tiers could collapse. It’s easy to turn and reveal the tiers and just as easy to collapse to put them away. This set, which is a nice departure from the yellow and green cardboard box that seems to break down so quickly, includes a crayon sharpener on the top tier. The $15 set also includes 118 regular crayons, 16 metallic FX crayons and 16 glitter crayons making the largest set of Crayola crayon colors ever.
I love the easy storage and assortment of crayons. And better yet, I love how this set includes a code for printing accessibility for the Lights, Camera and Color online application—what a fun bonus! Thanks to the novelty of the telescoping feature, we’ve yet to lose or break any crayons, which is quite an achievement! This set would make a perfect gift, and is suitable for preschoolers and older.
Crayola and Blogspark is offering one reader a Crayola 150-count Telescoping Crayon Tower!
To enter, just tell me your favorite Crayola Crayon color! Feel free to enter multiple times by sharing your favorite colors and/or by sharing on any social networking site!
October 20 was a sunny day for me. In fact, the clouds—yeah—-they were swept away, too.
Oh yeah, I found the way to Sesame Street.
By way of a shuttle bus, along with several other NYC parent and family-oriented bloggers, I had the unique opportunity to visit Kaufman Astoria studios, home to one of the most beloved streets in history. After we made our way over the Queensboro Bridge, we found ourselves in Astoria, Queens, which is where the studio is located. The white exterior of the studio was a definite contrast to the color and character that resides inside.
In the room where we gathered, we were greeted by some vintage Sesame Street photos, along with a few plush versions of our favorite muppets. But in addition to the familiar pictoral renderings of Sesame Street’s past, there was a blown up screenshot of a new CGI segment that features the cutest fairy in training, Abby Cadabby, as well as a few promotional posters. But it was the exclusive behind the scenes tour of THE Street that made my heart skip a beat.
Sesame Street which celebrates its 40th anniversary this month, quite simply, is an institution. The characters, storylines, songs, special guests—they’ve all moved us for generations (figuratively and literally!)
Considering they don’t offer tours to the public, to receive an invitation to see Sesame Street in action can definitely be grouped in my “awesome” life experiences.
What goes on behind the scenes at Sesame Street transcends the word, “amazing!”
To gather a group of people that talented and passionate, it’s really no wonder why the show has been around for FORTY YEARS.
The upcoming season, which premiers on PBS on November 10, will feature guest appearances by Cameron Diaz, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jeff Gordon, Adam Sandler, Jimmy Fallon, Ricky Gervais, Jason Mraz, Judah Friedlander and many others. I learned that one of my faves, Jason Mraz was extremely excited about his Sesame Street experience and seemed borderline stalkerish. haha. Cute! (For the record, I probably seemed full-on stalkerish)
Beyond being loved by so many generations, what’s so fabulous about Sesame Street is, they do what they can to stay ahead of the curve. For example, inviting NYC-area bloggers and engaging with us to create that important dialogue was huge. Even further, one of the reasons Sesame Street invited bloggers was to share their latest developments, so that we, in turn, could share with our readers/followers/whom ever will listen.
A chance to hang out with Abby Cadabby and sit in Big Bird’s Nest? Um, yes, please!
To emphasize its 40th year of awesomeness in children’s media, Sesame Street upped its ante with its digital presence. In particular, their website, Sesamestreet.org, became even more child-friendly, in terms of navigation, lively graphics and interactive features. When you first log on, you’re greeted by a familiar-faced Muppet, which is sure to lure in the kidlets. You, or shall I say the kids, can create a “My Street” option to personalize their Sesamestreet.org page. But it’s the new games that stand out to me…er, I mean, the kid.
All the games are, once again, extremely child-friendly and interactive. The games can be navigated by character (so hard to choose!), theme (the fall ones are so fun and timely) and subject (we’re fans of the art games.) They can also be added to the My Street option, which gives you easy access to those games that you know and love. What I love most about the new games is that some of them are perfect for the littlest kids who don’t quite have a grasp on keyboard functionality, but show an interest in say, animals.
While I’m not one to park a teeny tiny kid in front of a computer for hours at a time, every once in awhile, it’s fun to let my 2-year old do a little click clacking for a change. With the Old McDonald game, the kid can just peck away at the keys and animals appear with each strike of the keyboard—it’s like magic!
In addition to all the games, the site has tabs for other interactive features such as Playlists and Video. We’re a dancing and singing kind of family, so I love playing the different songs to dance along with the kid. The video features are so fantastic for parents to share their love of Sesame Street with their kids. Alongside of the newer segments [Neil Patrick Harris as the Shoe Fairy is my favorite modern guest appearance video] of the shows are awesome classics, like ones with Kermit, Bert and Ernie and Cookie Monster. Just like the games, the videos and playlists can be navigated by character, theme and subject.
But Sesame Street hasn’t forgotten about the parents. On the parents tab, I love how there’s a different media for milestones [we just watched “cookie is a sometime food” under the 2 years tab] and links to all the goings on at Sesame Street. One of the newer features, however, is the inclusion of B is for Blog: Sesame Family Robinson. It’s written by Marty Robinson who plays Telly Monster and Snuffleupagus and Annie Evans, a writer for Sesame Street.
Their blog gives parents an insider’s look of a true Sesame Street family. Recently married on set, they are now the proud parents of twins, Lyra and Ripley. After meeting Marty and Annie (and their cutie twins, too) on the set, as well as during lunch, suffice it to say, Sesame Street is a family show—in more ways than one. Not only has the show spent the past four decades of making us laugh, sing and dance while talking about family-related topics, the people who make the show happen ARE one giant family. And thanks for the kind shout out, too! [Babyrific is my mama blog]
And from the bottom of my heart, it really, truly was an honor to experience the deep family bond on THE actual Sesame Street. It’s my hope that my kid will go on to share the same love of The Street with HIS kids one day.
Happy 40th Sesame Street, thanks for all the laughs, dancing, singing and Muppet fun!
Tuesdays always marks a fun day of the week, particularly because of all the fun new DVDs and CDs that are released. Well, this close to the holidays, you can be sure to expect even more exciting titles to pop up, with today as no exception.
The first season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the wildly popular animated series that chronicles “a galaxy far, far away” was released today.
“The Clone Wars sweep through the galaxy, the heroic Jedi Knights – including Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jedi Master Yoda and padawan Ahsoka Tano – struggle to maintain order and restore peace. But despite the best efforts of these brave protectors, more and more planets are falling prey to the sinister forces of the dark side…”
In addition to all 22 episodes, the four-disc set offers a look behind-the-scenes and also includes an exclusive 64 page production journal. Exclusive to the Blu-ray disc, The Jedi Temple Archives provides in-depth access to an extensive database of creative materials.
As children of the 70s and 80s, I know many of my parent friends are huge Star Wars fans, so, it’s no surprise, The Clone Wars has garnered a lot of older fans too. At $44.98 for DVD and $59.99 for Blu-ray, The Clone Wars first season would make a great family gift for Star Wars lovers!
The dvd is available in stores today, and Star Wars: The Clone Wars airs on Fridays at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on Cartoon Network.