big apple books: a walk in new york

A Walk in New York
by Salvadore Rubbino

With Father's Day on the horizon, this week's Big Apple Books features a father & son tale of discovering the Big Apple. Told in the boy's first person narration, A Walk in New York is a charming look at getting to know this great city of ours. Each page features a landmark visited by the duo, and is chock full of information. For example, did you know the names of the lions perched outside the NY Public Library? Umm... I did not (answer: Patience & Fortitude), but must admit I feel smarter now that I do!

Salvadore Rubbino writes, "I love the way a good story or picture can take you on an adventure and introduce you to wonderful new things."  And in his first book, Rubbino does just that. 


lunch with chris o'donnell

Earlier this week, I was invited to the launch of the *new & improved* Lunchables, which now comes with a full serving of fruit in each package. To kick off the campaign, Lunchables has partnered with Feeding America to donate up to 1 million pounds of fresh fruit to food banks across the country.  By "liking" Lunchables via their Facebook page, you'll be helping the company reach their goal of aiding families in need. 

Okay, okay, so the fact that Chris O'Donnell is the "face" of this campaign & would be available for a brief interview (conveniently during my lunch hour!) might have also prompted me to attend. The father of FIVE (yes, five) became involved to show his support of the Lunchables Feeding America campaign & new healthier stance on meals for children. 

Well, what can I say. He's positively dreamy. And very easy to talk to. And completely normal & non actor-y. And did I mention dreamy? We talked about raising a family (his quite larger than mine!) & the importance of fruits & veggies in kids' diets. He was quite talkative & seemed honestly passionate about his involvement with Feeding America. Needless to say, I really enjoyed our conversation.  I also might have confessed to a minor obsession with "Circle of Friends" back in the day.

Staring adoringly into his eyes Asking serious journalistic questions

Despite what you might think of pre-packaged food, I have to commend Lunchables for recognizing the importance of fruit & for their collaboration with Feeding America. Once again, when you have a minute, please head over to their Facebook page & "like" them to help make a difference.

I was given promotional coupons & branded materials by Lunchables, but all opinions expressed herein are my own.


just call me madame...

The daughter of immigrants, Madame Beatrice Alexander was born in Brooklyn & began the Alexander Doll Company in 1923 with a $1600 loan. During an era when women entrepreneurs were scarce, her story -- full of dedication & perseverance --  is what American dreams are all about. And that she began calling herself "Madame" because it sounded refined just makes her all the more fabulous in my book.

I've always known about Madame Alexander dolls. I didn't personally collect them, but I certainly knew people who did. While I was more of a Barbie girl growing up, I always loved the look of the Madame Alexander doll -- all at once classy & refined. Special. Yet I wasn't aware of the history behind the company, OR its deep NYC roots.

Not surprisingly, I was thrilled to be invited up to the Madame Alexander Doll Factory in Harlem for a tour earlier this week. All test dolls are dreamed up & created on West 131st Street and tours are free to the public. I had no idea! In a behind-the-scenes visit to the factory, you'll pass by the "doll hospital" where Alexander creations are mended, the space where the Design Team works their magic, & you'll go on a tour of the Heritage Gallery, which is worth a visit on its own. In this permanent showcase, you'll see the doll that Madame Alexander created in her likeness, and some of her more famous creations, like Scarlett from Gone With The Wind. The attention to detail -- everything SO perfect & SO miniature (!) is just such fun to see, whether you're a collector or not.

I had no idea the amount of licenses that Madame Alexander owns -- in addition to their established collectables, the company also manufactures lines from many recognizable children's figures: Olivia, Fancy Nancy, Peanuts, Eloise... (see here for a complete list).  Their Huggums line is pretty adorable, too.  Walking into the showroom and seeing all of these dolls in one place... my first thought after squealing out loud was, I cannot WAIT to bring Toddler S here one day!

After the tour, we got to "create" a doll of our own. Yes, the squealing continued. I went for this blond haired, blue eyed chick, & was able to pick from 5 different outfits in addition to a pair of shoes & accessory. She's kind of a cutie, I gotta say.

My masterpiece
Saving the best part for last, I learned you can have a birthday party or tea there at the factory (see details here). You will take part in everything I mentioned above & package prices range from $38 to $100 a person. For the little girl (or full-fledged adult) who loves dolls, this is truly a memorable event. I've been smiling all week.

Yes, that is me in a life size Madame Alexander doll box.
Lastly, while there's some discussion over girls & their fascination with dolls, princesses & the like, how about sharing with your child the history behind the company... about the Madame herself. Her remarkable career & legacy will no doubt live on forever, & that's one lesson only this doll can teach.

I was given a tour and products for consideration.  I was not compensated for this post.  All opinions expressed herein are my own.


somebody's mom

This past weekend left me reflecting on the journey that precedes Motherhood, & the enormous responsibility & privilege that comes with being somebody's mom.

We spent the afternoon visiting a friend who recently delivered her first child. Unattached at 40, she made a decision to pursue IVF treatment after learning she would not be able to become pregnant naturally, due to a medical complication. She had always known, without a doubt, that she wanted to be somebody's mom. I must admit I secretly pondered her decision... raising a child can be so draining... so frustrating at times... so HARD for two parents, let alone one! Yet despite my apprehension, I was, & am, in awe of her. She made a careful decision that came from deep within, & when the time came, took matters into her own hands to make that decision a reality.

This is what Motherhood is all about, & why it deserves a capital "M," in my opinion. Becoming somebody's mom is worth fighting for, worth making happen despite the odds & whether or not it bucks the traditional scenario. The reward? Well, it's impossible to put into words.

I would encourage us all to recognize the sacrifices of our own mothers, the challenges & joys of our journey as parents (& what it takes to get here) & our membership in an exclusive club: no doubt the greatest & most challenging job around.


big apple books: journey around new york from A to Z

Journey Around New York from A to Z

Today's Big Apple Books is brought to you by sisters Martha & Heather, an illustrator/author team whose Journey Around New York from A to Z is a pure delight.  The illustrations are colorful & vivid; there's just so much to look at on each page!  And on a side note, having a picture of a giant pigeon on the cover of a book about NYC just makes me chuckle.

There are lots of "A to Z" books out there, but I like that the Zschock sisters thought outside the box on this one... for instance, "I" stands for "Immigrants imagine a better life" and features a drawing & description of the Statue of Liberty.  "Z" stands for "Zillions of commuters zip beneath the zodiac," which, of course, describes our beautiful Grand Central Station.

I look forward to sharing this book with Toddler S & her sibling when I'm not afraid they'll tear the pages (that's just how much I like it).


review: north american bear co.

Toddler S doesn't realize there's a new baby coming her way in a few short months. I'm beyond curious as to what her reaction will be to the little he or she when they meet for the first time. Will she envelop the cutie pie in hugs & kisses like I hope, or check he/she out for a passing moment & then ask for Elmo?  I expect it will be somewhere in between, which honestly, is just fine.  My goodness, the child won't even be two yet, let's cut her some slack. Which begs the question... what exactly did I get myself into again??! 

But I digress...

The gracious folks at the North American Bear Company are helping Toddler S prepare. Recently, I received an adorable Rosy Cheeks Baby Blonde Girl & a Rosy Cheeks Baby Bassinette from the company, & I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed watching her play with each toy.  Rosy Cheeks doesn't have a name yet other than "baby," but just hearing her say that word makes me sniffle. I'm kind of partial to Rosie for her name, so we'll stick to that for the purposes of this post. 
Rosie is soft & sweet & looks as though she's just home from the hospital - in fact her hospital bracelet is still attached with space available for you to write the baby's name (a nice touch). Toddler S loves to squeeze her tight & recently, has taken to feeding her Goldfish & helping her sip milk from her cup (translation: milk everywhere). As a result, Rosie has already been washed & luckily, came out looking good as new. 
The flowery bassinet where Rosie sleeps is an adorable accompaniment. The straps are long enough that Toddler S likes tucking her in, carrying her around, & will even wear it like a backpack. This is simultaniously cute and scary -- we hope she does not try this with her baby brother or sister in a few months.

I must admit I was not aware of the North American Bear Company before they reached out to me, but I'm so glad they did.  The site is FULL of adorable items for your child, from dress up capes & tutus for older children, to adorable lovies & dolls for the younger set. They are a great resource for new baby gifts, too (this froggy blanket is too cute), & their products are affordable to boot.

Clearly, we have a happy customer below... big sister in training! 

As mentioned, I did receive products from the company for review on this blog, but all opinions expressed herein are my own.
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