Big Apple Books: Star Sisters & the Best Seller

I've really enjoyed seeing the progression of Millie's reading this year, and the types of books she likes being read to at bedtime. And while it might make me a little sad that she rarely requests Goodnight Moon or The Napping House anymore, I love the fact that she still gets excited about reading books at night -- and I hope that will always continue. These days, we've progressed to short chapter books, which she just LOVES, mostly because I think it solidifies her almost 5 1/2 year old "big girl" status.
Speaking of which, we're so excited to have discovered the Star Sisters! Written by Jennifer Blecher, the series takes best friends Coco & Lucy on a variety of adventures after they discover two magical necklaces. In Star Sisters and the Best Seller, their adventure brings them to NYC, which was all the more fun. Along every stop the girls make in the book (the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park, Fifth Avenue, etc), Millie would say "I've been there! or "Hey, I know that place!" I love that Blecher was able to replicate the magic of NYC from a child's perspective. 
In the adventures that follow (there are 4 books thus far in the series), the Star Sisters are along for an extraordinary ride, all with the goal of helping those they meet along the way. I highly recommend!


An Afternoon with Happy Family Brands

This post is sponsored by Happy Family Brands. Thank you for supporting Baby Meets City!
A few weeks ago, I brought Vivian to a photo shoot with Happy Family Brands, makers of all sorts of yummy organic treats for babies & kids. We've been buying their products since the girls were old enough to eat Puffs (quite possibly the best "go to" baby snack around), through "squeezies," as we call them in our household, to our current go to snack: nutrition shakes. In short, it made for a total no-brainer collaboration!
Next month, Happy Family will be launching Love My Veggies, the first line of pouches to contain a full serving of nutritious veggies like spinach and sweet potatoes (here's to simplifying the feeding process)! The pouches will be available exclusively at Target as part of their Made to Matter collection of leading natural, organic and sustainable brands.

I have to admit that while we do love the product, the photo shoot didn't go so well. Vivian, who is the biggest ham within the walls of our apartment, decided to clam up and um, refuse to have her picture taken without crying or clinging to me. Such a shame, too, because she looked so cute in the overalls they picked out for her! Come to find out, that was part of the problem... she wanted to wear a dress. Three year olds have an opinion, you know!

I am grateful to photographer Tara Donne, who caught this behind-the-scenes moment where she was actually smiling and running around having fun (she took all these photos, in fact).

Stay tuned for a second Happy Family Brands post coming soon -- I'll be giving away an exclusive Target Made to Matter gift bag filled with hand-picked products from the line!


Lifting Each Other Up #SisterhoodUnite

A few weeks ago, I helped spread the word about a new movement by Similac called The Sisterhood of Motherhood (if you haven't seen the video yet, you must!) In short, the program's goal is to encourage a new conversation amongst mothers, minus the judgment that often comes with our parenting decisions. And it's a conversation worth having. The amount of time and effort spent writing, talking and re-hashing stay-at-home moms vs. working moms, attachment vs. free range parenting, breastfeeding vs. formula moms... the list goes on... it's EXHAUSTING.

I've been on both sides of the stay-at-home vs. working mom debate. I felt the "tisk tisk" judgment from some when I went back to work after my children were born. While nothing was ever said outright, I actually felt passive aggressive comments to be even worse (they came from every which direction) - and never mind what I was feeling inside, which was almost always conflicted. Then, I was laid off when Vivian was about a year and a half. Suddenly I found myself on the other side of the debate, and I wasn't quite sure how to feel about it.

Even though I do receive work as a freelance writer and blogger, I still feel that because I'm at home, there are some who think I'm sitting around eating bon bons all day (I'm not, for the record). Silent judgment is tough. And it's almost worse when it comes from inside, as I think I'm my own toughest critic. I've really struggled with achieving that work-from-home balance while trying to be a "present" mother at the same time. And in this age of social media oversharing, I often feel the frustrating need to "keep up" with the moms who are seemingly doing it all. What a ridiculous waste of time, wouldn't you say?!

I'm so happy that I was selected for this campaign with Similac, if only to remind myself that when we only see differences, when we only contrast and judge each other, we miss out on all that we have in common -- and first and foremost as mothers, that's the love we all have for our children. Confidence in ourselves, in our decisions and our worth are reasons to lift ourselves up, not tear each other down.

Here's to embracing the here & now & lifting each other up in this sisterhood of motherhood.

Disclosure: I've partnered with Similac for The Sisterhood of Motherhood Program. As part of this program, I received compensation for my time. All opinions expressed are my own. Similac believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Similac’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.


Snack Time with SMARTCANDY

This post is sponsored by SMARTCANDY. Thanks for supporting Baby Meets City!

I have to admit I've become a bit boring in the role of Head Snack Preparer. It's a serious position, as any parent knows. The girls aren't really fond of that whole "3 square meals a day" concept... well, they are, but then add to it an additional 5 snack times & you've pretty much rounded out the day. Or maybe it's just that my children always seem to be hungry...

In any case, far be it from me to head out the door without some type of snack in my bag... the wrath of hungry toddlers is a scary sight, and no one wants to see that - least of all me! But as mentioned, I could stand to step up my game. While the standard snacks will always be present (apple slices, string cheeses, Goldfish or pretzels...), I'm excited to add a little something new to the mix.

Have you heard of SMARTCANDY? Brought to you by the parents of two always-hungry kids (who were inspired by Michelle Obama's Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act), this new snack comes in four yummy flavors and is packed with vitamins A+B+C, which promotes vision, focus and strength in your kiddos. Oh, and high fructose corn syrup & trans fats are noticeably (& happily) absent. Hurrah!

Available online & in stores at Target & Wal-Mart, this new snack is well on its way to becoming part of our daily rotation. And in case you were wondering, Viv's favorite kind is this yummy little gummy (& mine, too)!

Want to try SMARTCANDY for yourself? Print out the coupon below for $2 off. Woohoo!


Big Apple Books: Charlie Girl

What fun it was to chat with Elizabeth Frogel, author of the Charlie Girl: "Tails" of A Very Original Poodle series, over coffee at Irving Farm recently (one of my favorite spots)! As I continue to review NYC-based children's books, it's been such a treat to sit down with authors and illustrators lately & get to know their stories more personally.
The idea for the Charlie Girl series came from Ms. Frogel's own poodle, Charlie, and her experiences in Central Park, otherwise known as NYC's back yard. Inspired by Charlie & her doggie friends, Frogel wrote the first book as an homage to Charlie's hometown. I just love the vintage feel of the illustrations in this book, and the girls have really enjoyed reading about Charlie Girl & her adventures (Charlie's fond of shopping at Bergdorf Goodman, visiting art galleries & eating in cafes along Madison Avenue... naturally).
And why stop with just one book? Charlie's vivacious personality warrants a whole series! Future books in the series will bring Charlie to Los Angeles, Paris, London & more. This pup has quite the adventurous spirit, but there's no place like home, of course.
In addition to a hardcover copy of the book, you can also follow along with Charlie's adventures online. I also love that Frogel offers educational worksheets for teachers & parents who would like to make Charlie's experiences a learning opportunity as well as an entertaining one.
Stay tuned for more from this precocious pup!


Week in Review: Winter Break Survival

I have to admit I was a bit apprehensive going into Winter Break (NYC public schools get a week off in February every year), mostly because it has been unbelievably cold -- as everyone knows! -- and I was worried about cabin fever setting in on Monday at about 10:15am. Thankfully, I managed to keep us busy enough, with little outings on most days that kept everyone happy and entertained... and mama's sanity intact.

See below for a few photos from our week's adventures... from bathing-suit-mermaid-pretending in our living room to outings in Central Park. It was actually a lot of fun. Not perfect by any stretch (hair pulling, tattle tailing & copy catting, oh my!) but we made the most of our week, and for that I'm grateful.

How cute are these swimsuits from Garnet Hill Kids? I love a tankini for little girls, which makes trips to the potty SO much easier! Dreaming of warm weather over here, and these bright colored suits are helping a lot!

 Later in the week, we headed to one of my favorite spots in Central Park: the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre. "Jack in the Beanstalk" is performing currently, and the girls loved it!
Tickets are $7/children & $10/adults -- check their website for scheduling information.

And guess what? When you're walking in Central Park and decide on a whim that sledding might be fun, sitting on a plastic bag works remarkably well! There's my #parentinghack for the day, thanks to the friends who were with us.
Millie's class at school goes ice skating once a week, and she's really starting to get the hang of it this year.
I, on the other hand, have ice skated about three times in my life and wouldn't say it comes naturally. AT. ALL. The things we do for our children! I made it around Lasker Rink a few times while gripping the sides, and right before we took this photo, she told me it was okay if I fell. "You just get up and keep going, mama." Good advice, Millie.... good advice.


Back to regularly scheduled programming this week... 


Getting Creative with Sprout by HP (part 1)

This post is sponsored by HP. Thanks for supporting Baby Meets City!
Last month I was invited to try out the new Sprout by HP creativity station, and I've been having so much fun playing around with it! In addition to being a pretty sweet desktop PC (with a 23'' diagonal touchscreen, I have to mention), Sprout offers a whole host of creative options when its touch mat is activated. PC World described the new Sprout as a "digital sketch pad," and I have to say it's been really fun discovering what it offers, especially to someone like me who is admittedly not the most tech-proficient person in the world (translation: if I can figure this out & have fun with it, so can you!) I'll be sharing more details in my next post, including a fun project reveal and why this might be a useful tool for bloggers.
In the meantime, I'm not the only one who's been having fun with Sprout! The girls have been loving Crayola Color, Draw & Sing, which comes already installed. This creativity app combines the best of art and music by playing songs as your child "paints" their picture. I should mention my 5 year old had already figured how to go back to "home" and pick a new picture to color before I did. And I'm only slightly exaggerating...

Fun times with Sprout by HP. More to come!
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