Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pooka's Christmas List # 6: bObbles Elephant Tumbling Animal

Last week Pooka and I had the good fortune of attending Unplugged on a Rug's Great Green Playdate at Kidville. We had an amazing time and fell in love with the bObles that were scattered about the room. Natalie Cronin of Unplugged (and also our Wee Wiggle Giggle instructor at Kidville) showed us how beneficial they can be even for baby's who aren't crawling yet. Using the Crocodile bOble she showed us how Pooka can strengthen her core and work on stability by sitting at an angle, or laying on a downward slope on her belly. But our favorite bOble by far is the Elephant Tumbling Animal. Shaped like a half circle your little one can climb up its trunk and sit atop, or flip it over and use it like a rocking horse or chair. I love that bObles promote imaginative play and can grow with your child. When they are older they can stand on the elephant to practice their balance. I get tired of buying so many toys that are outgrown in 5 months! Order yours from Oompa Toys, or you can find them at Mini Jake in Brooklyn or in Manhattan at Babesta or the MoMA Design Store (that's right folks, a toy that's considered high design!)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Finn's Finds NYC Sample Sale December 18-19th

Our friends at Finn's Finds are having a sample sale this Friday, December 18th and Saturday, December 19th just in time for you to stash some fab clothing under the tree for your dearest ones. Finn's Finds focuses on unique clothing lines from all over the world, and seeks clothing lines manufactured by environmentally and ethically responsible partners. You may remember Finn's Finds from a Fab Find post I did last month. Their site features adorable clothes for your wee ones, and lots of organic choices. I'm hoping to pick up the Double Face Knit Pique Romper, the Rouched Button Hoodie, and the Touch of Stripes and Ruffle Long Sleeve Onesie. See below for more information. Maybe we'll see you there!

Finns Finds Holiday Sample Sale:
Up to 50% off current merchandise

Friday December 18th 10am-7pm
Saturday December 19th 12pm-6pm
@ Archetype Showroom
676 Broadway, 2 fl
New York, NY 10012
(btwn Bond & Great Jones)

Pooka's First Christmas Dress

Being Pooka's first holiday I wanted to choose a special outfit for her to wear on Christmas day and memorialize in photos. There are tons of options out there in many different price ranges. Several dresses made our short list. On the less traditional side we considered the plaid taffeta dress from Baby Gap's Copper Mountain Collection (may still be in stores, but no longer online), Baby CZs Audrey Dress, and Marie Chantal's Dotted Silk Dress (the last two are both on sale at Saks right now). For a more traditional style we looked at Isabel Garreton's Smocked Silk Bishop Dress (also on sale at Saks), Olive Juice Kids Trapeze Dress in Regent Red, and Rachel Riley's Tartan Print Dress in red or green. In the end, we went with the very traditional velvet Douane Dress in Ruby Red from Jacadi (available in-store only). We will be pairing it with Hanna Anderson's Snowflake Tights, and Pooka's silver Naomi Pedipeds. We are searching for a sweater to put over her dress, so let us know if you have any ideas!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Pooka's Christmas List # 5: Melissa & Doug First Bead Maze

Often relegated to the waiting rooms of doctor's offices or play corners in stores and restaurants, the bead maze is an underrated developmental toy. As Pooka approaches 8 months it is important for her to begin working on her fine motor skills. What are fine motor skills? They are usually defined as her ability to use her pincer grasp (her thumb and forefinger) to pick up something as small as a raisin. I don't know about you, but I will not be handing my child a handful of raisins to practice with because they also present a choking hazard. That's why a bead maze is on Pooka's Christmas list. I particularly like the My First Bead Maze from Melissa and Doug. It has a wooden base with suction cups so you can attach it to the floor, a table, or high chair. It has two "maze" tracks and several wooden beads in different colors. One track has larger beads that are easier to grasp, while the other has smaller beads with a second layer of beads that require highly tuned skills to slide them over the first. What's great about this bead maze is that it will grow with baby as their skills develop!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Pooka's Christmas List # 4: Haba Cordoba Building Blocks

My favorite toys for Pooka are generally colorful, made of wood, and encourage creative play. Haba toys tend to do all of those things and are designed and made in Germany so you don't have to worry about the "China factor." They make several amazing baby block sets, so it's hard to chose a favorite. Better yet, buy a few sets and create a serious collection or leave a set at Grandmas house. My favorite are the Cordoba Building Blocks because they are a little bit feminine, but not enough to disqualify them from unisex status. Looking for a more boyish set? Try the Fantasy Building Blocks. Something a little girlier? Check out the Sevilla Building Blocks. All three of these sets are more than just the run of the mill wooden blocks, featuring turrets, archways, and even onion domes. Certain blocks incorporate bells, rattles, and kaleidoscopes. We also love the Eeeny, Meeny, Miny, Zoo Wooden Blocks for a different flair. This set includes cute animal blocks that turn the collection into a puzzle set as well. These building blocks are rated for one year olds and up, but with Pooka being 8 months on Christmas Day I figure she's ready for them even if they only go straight into her mouth. Is your little one not ready for blocks yet? Then don't miss the Haba clutching toys like the Klapperworm, or the Flower Fairy Stroller Toy. Check out all the great Haba toys on Oompa, my favorite site for toys!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Mommy's Little Helper: Mama's favorite iPhone Apps

Many years ago, in a time when pregnant women still drank and smoked with abandon, "Mommy's little helper" referred to a chemical form of stress relief to help mom's get through the day. Today we know that all those things are not healthy for us, and we are forced to rely on helpers of a different nature to get us through the day. My latest addiction is my brand spanking new iPhone and all the fabulous applications that make my day easier, happier, and shinier (much like the "Mommy's Little Helper" of old)! If you have an iPhone you know that there are something like 75,000 different applications available to download, it's an absolutely dizzying array to choose from. But in just a few short weeks I have found some indispensable apps that I would love to share with you.

First, all NYC mommies (or visitors to NYC) must download iKidNY. Created by a brilliant NY mommy (and UWSider to boot), this is the app I dreamed about when Pooka was first born. How many times have you found yourself outside your hood and wondering where you're going to find the closet changing table after your dear one has just blow out their nappie? Trust me, it happens, usually when you have forgotten to bring along a clean set of clothes. The first time I was confronted with this dilemma I rushed home and searched the web, assuming someone must have created a website to address just this issue. And yet, unbelievably, no such site existed. How about a stroller friendly restaurant, or the closest park for the wee ones to burn some energy? And the real piece de resistance, the closest subways with elevators so you and your stroller (avec bebe) can ride the subway with wild abandon! Salvation has arrived in the form of iKidNY. Using the GPS in your phone, this app will locate the nearest indoor and outdoor activities, restaurants, changing tables, and subway elevators. Now, if only this app could also tell us where the cutest baby boutiques are! A girl can dream...maybe in a future update.

How about making mommy errands easier? I have been reveling in Grocery IQ, especially when gearing up to make baby food. Enter your list item by item (the app has an awesome autofill that even lists brands), make separate lists by store (for instance Whole Foods, Target, Babies R' Us), and never forget your list at home because it is always in your phone. Want Dada to grab a few things on the way home? Email him the list from your phone. I like to add items to the list as they run out, then head to the store once a week with my completed list. No more mommy brain leaving me stranded in the paper goods aisle trying to remember how many rolls of toilet paper we have left. I mean, when do I ever have a free hand or pen and paper handy to make grocery lists the old fashioned way?

My husband has been after me to work out a budget (can't imagine why?). Thanks to iXpenseIt keeping track of spending is almost fun until I see the bottom line and gasp a bit (How much did I spend on Pooka's clothes last month?). You can itemize spending, keep track of the form of payment, and even add the vendor or notes to a purchase. Then you can create reports to view accumulated spending by category, like groceries, baby supplies, baby clothes, or shoes for mama. View your spending in a bar graph or pie chart to better understand your habits. Well to be honest, I already know my habits, but viewing the bottom line on a regular basis is very sobering.

How about keeping track of dirty diapers, feedings, and baby milestones with Total Baby. With Pooka over 7 months now I don't need to keep track of diapers and feedings, but I would have loved this when Pooka was a newborn. I use it now to keep track of her doctor's appointments, vaccination record, and developmental milestones. Only want to keep track of nursing or diapers? There are also separate applications for those individual needs if you aren't interested in the whole sha-bang.

What about keeping your dear one entertained? For the youngest babies try iBabySee. This app flashes simple, beautiful black and white images perfect for captivating your newborn. It likes having flash cards in your purse at all times. For older babies check out the Peekaboo Barn and Peekaboo Wild apps. The Peekaboo Barn app hides a farmyard animal making noises behind barn doors. Once the doors are tapped, they open to reveal the animal with the name spelled out and an adorable child's voice repeating the animal's name. Peekaboo Wild does the same except with safari animals hiding behind tall grasses. I've found this app popular with babies all the way up to kindergarten aged children. I also love Baby Piano, which turns your screen into a simple piano keyboard where you can create songs of your own or follow the lead to play familiar songs like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Play it for your infant, or let your toddler or preschooler play the piano themselves. While I do not endorse these apps as educational or strengthening development in the infant stage, they certainly have their time and place. These apps have really come in handy at restaurants, on the train, or in the car when your dear one becomes a fussy nightmare.

All of these apps are avaialable in the Apple iPhone App Store, and some of them, such as Peekaboo Barn and Baby Piano offer "Lite" versions that you can download for free and test drive. You're a mommy now, so go ahead and toss out that Blackberry you had from work and grab an iPhone. I did, and I'm never looking back!