Stella McCartney goes ga ga for Gap

Fashionista mamas, take note:  famed designer, Stella McCartney, will design a collection for GapKids and babyGap. The line is expected to launch in late 2009, and will be carried in select GapKids and babyGap stores in the U.S. and Canada, as well as online.

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A few years ago, McCartney designed a highly coveted line for H&M that literally flew off the shelves. The affordability factor for McCartney’s designs that the H&M venture provided was, perhaps, one of the biggest selling points for that line.  McCartney, a mom herself, said “I believe that kids clothing should be more accessibly priced, which is particularly important at the moment given the current climate.” I have no doubt this collection is going to be just as popular as the H&M collaboration, and I can’t wait to see what she conjures up!

Happy 90th Birthday, Richard Scarry!

June 5th marks what would have been the 90th birthday of beloved children’s author and illustrator, Richard Scarry. Scarry made continues to make an impact on generations of children by creating more than 300 books that have sold over 200 million copies worldwide and been translated into 30 languages.


Today, in celebration of Richard Scarry’s birthday, Sterling Publishing Co. is holding a one-day contest. Just for today, they’re giving away 90 Richard Scarry books in honor of his 90th birthday. But the celebration doesn’t end there: for 90 days in June, July and August everyone is encouraged to celebrate Richard Scarry’s life and work by having “A Very Scarry Summer.” Check out their site for more giveaways and some downloadable Richard Scarry fun.


This is one of those times that makes me nostalgic for my books from my childhood that were thrown away or sold at yard sales. I treasured several of Richard Scarry’s books, but especially The Great Big Schoolbook. I’d flip through the giant, oversized pages over and over, studying each illustration, hoping to discover a new character or detail I might have missed earlier.


“I’m not interested in creating a book that is read once and then placed on the shelf and forgotten,” Richard Scarry once said. “I am very happy when people write that they have worn out my books, or that they are held together by Scotch tape. I consider that the ultimate compliment.”

Mr. Scarry, I am one of “those” readers. And clearly, I’m not alone.

Oh, and how fun is this?  Richard Scarry illustrations set to one of my favorite songs ever!

Hot Wheels Battle Force 5 to hit full force

Mattel announced several products to go along with the launch of the new series, Hot Wheels Battle Force 5, set to debut in August on the Cartoon Network.  The CGI-animated, Battle Force 5 is said to feature a team of drivers in super fast, super cool vehicles who must work together to save the Earth.


The Hot Wheels Battle Force 5 line features a full range of toys including battle vehicles and figures, a vehicle assortment, a trackset and vehicle assortment two-packs with a DVD containing the first episode of the show. The full Hot Wheels Battle Force 5 line will be at stores in October 2009.  Activision Publishing will release a Hot Wheels Battle Force 5 videogame to Wii and Nintendo DS platforms this November.  Also be on the lookout for a litany of Hot Wheels Battle Force licensed products for boys including clothes, footwear, role play toys, graphic novels, skateboards, bikes dvds, watches and more.

Barbie hearts Jonathan Adler

Nope, he’s not her new boyfriend, but more like a business associate.  Ok, so this isn’t for kids, but it does include many mamas’ beloved gal pals.  Barbie, the style icon who is celebrating her 50th year, is teaming up with one of my favorite interior designers, Jonathan Adler.  Adler, who is well known for his happy chic style, is bringing Barbie’s dreamhouse to life for grownups.


That’s right, ladies.  If hot pink is your thing, “Barbie Loves Jonathan Adler” line of décor pieces, including pottery, pillows and more will be available this September.

Got Probugs? review + giveaway

I’m like a kid in a candy store whenever we stroll through our local health food store.  With every trip, it seems like there’s a new brand or new packaging that catches my eye—Lifeway Probugs Organic Whole Milk Kefir is just one example.

As the organics and natural foods market continues to surge with so many parents filling their grocery carts with healthier foods these days, products that have been around for a long time are becoming more mainstream—and for good reason.

U.S. sales of organic food and non-food products reached $24.6 billion in 2008, growing 17.1 percent over 2007 sales, despite tough economic times, according to a new study by the Organic Trade Association (OTA).

I think our family certainly contributed to that statistic, especially now that we put much more thought into what and how we eat, now that we have a kid.  Even though I’d never heard of it until the kid came along, kefir is a product that’s become a staple promic4in our home—Lifeway Probugs Organic Whole Milk Kefir to be more specific.  The best description I could find was from an LA Times article that describes kefir as a tangy fermented milk drink and a pro_berrycousin to yogurt.  It’s the healthy drink that has been credited with the  longevity of people in the Caucasus.  And, it seems like I’m not the only one who’s noticing kefir these days.  Kefir may have originated centuries ago, but it’s now making its way to  mainstream grocery stores.

So, what is it with kefir?

Considered a superfood by Dr. Perricone, one of Oprah’s doctor friends, kefir and other fermented and cultured foods is said to be “functional” foods—or in this case, 10 live and active cultures.  As in, probiotics.
pro_orangeYou’ve heard the buzz about probiotics, I’ve even blogged a little about it in the past; but in case you haven’t heard, probiotics are good bugs—good bacteria that help boost your immune system, among other health benefits.  But as a mom, especially with the unavoidable worries about the Swine Flu, finding a food that boosts immunity is certainly something I am always willing to add to my grocery list.

I’ll be completely honest, you can’t miss the vibrant Probugs packaging.  Resembling a modern looking juice pouch of sorts, Probugs has this awesome spout feature that helps contain leaks.  The front of the package boasts their bug character, Polly the Probug, that I’m sure most kids can appreciate.  So, on first impression, you have this cool package that’s clearly targeted to kids.

Jack drinking ProbugsSome people buy portable yogurt, we buy Probugs.  The kid sees it in the store and squeals, just like he does when he sees Elmo.  We introduced Probugs when many people introduced baby yogurt, and since then, it’s been considered a treat, when really, it’s a healthy alternative to other snacks.  Once we restock the Probugs stash, it never lasts.  The kid finishes it, almost in one slurp–he loves it that much.  The fact that the kid loves Probugs is huge, but I consider it a treat because it’s healthy, organic, helps boost immunity and aids with digestion.  Lifeway Probugs Organic Whole Milk Kefir is yet again, another one of those products that I continually rave about.

As much as we love this product and how cool the nozzle is, I have to say that the individual packaging was a concern because as much as possible, I try to minimize our waste.  I try to limit our juicebox purchases and other individual packaged products and opt for bulk containers.   But after reading on the back of the package about Lifeway’s social responsibility, my concerns were offset after learning that the company uses renewable energy—a truly green tactic that I think more companies should follow.

Lifeway Probugs Organic Whole Milk Kefir comes in  kid-friendly flavors—Orange Creamy Crawler, Sublime Slime Lime, Goo Berry Pie—and can be found in many health food stores and grocery stores including Whole Foods.  In addition to Probugs, Lifeway has a lineup of kefir, yogurt, pudding and cheese that’s ideal for everyone in the family.
pro_lime And speaking of Whole Foods, if you’re in the Chicago area be sure to check out the Whole Foods Lincoln Park Kids Weekend on June 6th and 7th.  In addition to all the kiddie activities, Polly the Probug will be hanging out.

Oh, the awesomeness doesn’t end there.  Lifeway is graciously giving one Next Kid Thing reader a fabulous giveaway—a variety bundle of Probugs Organic Whole Milk Kefir—one 4-pack of each flavor (that’s three, 4-packs in total!)

To win it:

Visit Lifeway and tell me what product(s) you would like to try and why.

For additional entries:

1. Tweet about this giveaway

2.  Share this product review on any social netoworking site

3. Sign up to receive my updates via email.  (If you already receive it, just let me know!)

Please add a comment for each of your entries. The giveaway ends on June 3 at 11:59 p.m.

Happy Wellness Wednesday and good luck!

*******This contest is closed ***********

B&N kicks off annual summer reading program

No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers’ funny looks!  Ok, so maybe two out of three still applies.

Summer vacation.  It’s a great time to catch up with friends, enjoy the outdoors from sun up until sun down, and of course, catch up on reading!  Just a few weeks shy of summer vacation, Barnes & Noble has announced their 13th annual summer reading program with the  series “Percy Jackson & The Olympians.”  Author Rick Riordan takes readers on the adventures of Percy Jackson, a young half-god, half-human son of the gods of Olympus.
The reading program, which encourages kids to read throughout the summer, asks kids to read any eight books of their choice, then to write about the book in a summer reading journal and once the journal is complete, kids can get a coupon for a free book.


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All aboard the Dinosaur Train

The Dinosaur Train, a new tv series for preschoolers from the Jim Henson Company, is set to debut on September 7 on PBS Kids, just in time for the new school year. The CGI-animated series, aimed at 3-6 year olds, will combine two preschoolers’ favorites—trains and dinosaurs—while encouraging interest in science, specifically natural history and paleontology.

dtrainThe Dinosaur Train’s premise follows Buddy, who is adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Pteranodon, and brought to their nest to hatch at the same time as his new siblings, Tiny, Shiny and Don. The show will follow the family’s adventures as they travel around in the Dinosaur Train checking out the prehistoric world and learning about other dinosaurs along the way.

This isn’t the Jim Henson Company’s first foray with CGI animation.  In fact,buddy perhaps one of their most notable new shows, the parent and kid favorite, Sid the Science Kid, is a CGI-animated show that focuses on science, and was recently nominated for 2009 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Children’s Animated Program.
If the popularity of the Emmy-nominated Sid the Science Kid is any indication, I have a feeling that The Dinosaur Train will be a another big hit and a great natural history-focused addition in the educational media sector.

The full website is expected to launch in August, but in the meantime, be sure to meet Buddy and the gang on The Dinosaur Train’s preliminary website.

Photo credit: PBS

Google Doodle: What I Wish for the World

The fun folks at Google have done it again. This time, they’re tugging at my heart strings with their latest Google Doodle competition. This year’s theme, What I Wish for the World, encouraged students in K-12 to mesh their doodled ideas with Google’s logo. As a company that dreams big and thinks big, it’s no surprise that the finalists’ entries are nothing short of amazing—as is the national winner’s prize!

The National Winner will win a $15,000 college scholarship to be used at the school of their choice, a trip to the Google New York Office, a laptop computer, and a t-shirt printed with their doodle. Google will also award the winner’s school a $25,000 technology grant towards the establishment/improvement of a computer lab.

It’s so hard to choose, but I think this is my favorite:


The artist is 5 year old Miriam Elizabeth Lowery from Austin Peay Elementary in TN. She says her wish for the world is that everyone would get along and treat one another in a nice and loving way. We could all be friends!

I second that, Miriam!

You can check out all Google Doodle finalists and vote for your favorite until the end of the week.

Michelle Obama visits Sesame Street

Michelle Obama Sesame StreetIn between meeting with diplomats and helping to promote the President’s new foreign policies, the First Lady took some time out last week to visit Elmo and the gang at Sesame Street. Michelle Obama visited Sesame Street to tape a Public Service Announcement with Elmo as part of Sesame Workshop’s Healthy Habits For Life initiative. Mrs. Obama and Elmo discussed eating right, exercising regularly and being a healthy and positive role model for children.

“If you want your child to have healthy habits, practice healthy habits, because you’re your child’s role model,” The First Lady suggests in the PSA.

I thought the news about planting an organic garden at the White House was pretty cool, but Mrs. Obama’s visit to Sesame Street is just as much a highlight for her, as it is for her fans!

(photo credit: Richard Termine)