review: babiators

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it doesn't really get much cuter than a kid in sunglasses. Take this Little Gal to my right. Obviously I'm biased, but there is just something completely adorable and hilarious about her wearing sunglasses, and it happily brings a smile to my face every time she puts them on.

Fellow New Yorker and mom-to-be, Molly Fienning, is the co-founder of Babiators, a line of sunglasses for kids that are fashionable, durable (as in you can bend these suckers to death and they don't break. Parents to toddlers, you hear what I'm saying) and are BPA-free. Most importantly, they offer 100% protection against UVA and UVB rays. Sunshine, I love you, but you're dangerous -- we put on sunglasses when we go outside, why wouldn't we do the same for our kids? Especially when you have a toddler that yells "bright! bright!" when you head out the door...

Babiators come in a range of colors for your tot, either in Junior Babiators (age 1-3) or Classic Babiators (ages 3+) and have been featured everywhere from Newsweek to Cool Mom Picks. So obviously, we're talking about the coolest eyewear around for your kiddo. Yet another plus? Babiators donates a portion of proceeds to the Children's Eye Foundation, whose mission is to eliminate preventable blindness in children.

Coming in mid-September, Babiators will be running a photo contest (of your tot in an adorable pair of sunglasses, of course) with the winner receiving a $1,000 towards his/her child's future college education -- how cool is that?!  Check out their contest page and follow on Twitter for more details coming soon.

I truly love promoting mom-owned businesses, and the fact that Babiators is a socially concious and fashionably hip company to boot? Well, that's just the "eye"-cing* on the cake.

*Please excuse cheesy word play as am currently sleep-deprived...


Babiators generously provided me with a pair of sunglasses for this review. All opinions expressed herein are my own.

the great name debate

AGH!!!
(with a little $!#@^*! thrown in for good measure)

Okay... just had to get that out there. I feel much better now.

In a nutshell, we're having some issues on the name front. As in, the little gal currently residing in my belly is nameless and will be arriving (presumably) in about 6 weeks. So, why panic... right?  There's still time for the most amazing name on the planet to surface, one that we'll both love completely... right? 

This last part is key. Basically, Husband and I can't agree on a name. We both have names that we love and the other hates isn't crazy about. This has encited laughs and a few arguments, the root of which is not the name itself, but the fact that I don't actually want to tell Husband that I don't actually like the name at all... I'd rather be nice and play both sides of the fence. 

Doesn't he know this is what we women do?! 

So, while I work on being more forthright, here's a list of my name stipulations (okay, "issues"), which I've listed to Husband. As a result, he thinks I might consider seeking professional help:

1. If the name offered is the same name of someone on a reality show, or someone I've ever known in my life that I didn't like, I reject it.
2. If the name is deemed too '80s, too stonewash jeans mall-ish, I reject it.
3. I'd prefer Second Bambina not have the same starting initial as First Bambina (either given or nickname) -- let me say I know a lot of people actually choose names completely on this fact, which is totally their choice; however not for me.  Problem is there are lots of good names that start with "A" and "M"!  I'm also keenly aware that I may have to get over this...
4. Schmidt is a somewhat challenging surname. For instance, Charlotte is my mother's name (which I love), but Charlotte Schmidt is a mouthful.
5. I hate it when a certain celebrity that I happen to abhore chooses a name that we'd practically settled on, thus causing you to throw out name out of spite.
6. Is it too much to ask to find a fabulous yet classic name that isn't overused or set to "skyrocket" in the years ahead?

The list, unfortunately, goes on... I will say that Husband and I have about 3 names right now that we're toying with, and I'm secretly hoping that I can sprinkle magic-name-lovin'-pixie-dust in his direction so he'll love one particular one as much as me.

Until then, I'll be obsessing over the likes of Nameberry and You Can't Call It "It",  two favorite name blogs that I've discovered in the midst of this great quest. 

So what about you, fellow mamas?  Was choosing a name as difficult for you as for us? 

Kleenex: preserving the art of the field trip

School field trips offer, in my opinion, unmatched experiences -- to learn and do and see with your own eyes (outside the confines of a classroom) is incredibly valuable to the ever-expanding mind of a child. While I don't have many moments to kick back and wax nostalgic on my childhood, I can remember a few of my favorite school field trips as if they were yesterday.

Experiencing history 1st hand at Charlestowne Landing
Photo credit by DiscoverSouthCarolina.com
Growing up in historic Charleston, South Carolina, there was literally a treasure trove of field trip opportunities ripe for the pickin'. Every nook and cranny of downtown Charleston has a story to tell from the past, not to mention the area plantations and Civil War landmarks like Ft. Sumter. I always loved visiting Charlestowne Landing, in particular the living history settlement at Albemarle Point.  I remember spending a day there once with my class. We dressed up like colonists, cooked lunch over a fire and learned about what life was like back in the day... as in the 1600s.

Here in NYC, the possibilities for learning outside the classroom are, in a word, endless. For example, check out just a few of the programs going on now and this fall at the fabulous American Museum of Natural History:

Mini explorers at the Museum of Natural History
Photo credit: amnh.org
Beyond Earth: The Future of Space Exploration Beyond Earth launches visitors into the exciting future of space exploration as it boldly speculates on humanity’s next steps “out there” in our solar system and beyond. The exhibition features a full-size recreation of a lunar habitat, a model of an elevator reaching up into space, a walk-through diorama of the Martian surface, and challenging computer interactive exhibits. 

Mystery at the Museum: An Accomplice Experience
From the creators of Accomplice, theatrical experiences set on the streets of New York City, Hollywood, and London, comes an exciting new way to explore the American Museum of Natural History. Part game, part theater, and part walking tour, Mystery at the Museum is an immersive and unique adventure through the Museum’s halls. A
ppropriate for ages 10 and up.

Adventures in Science: Twinkling Stars: Mythic Creatures in the Skies
The Adventures in Science program introduces children to a wide variety of scientific disciplines through thought-provoking, hands-on investigations and interactive tours of Museum exhibits. Three-day workshops and week-long day camps explore topics such as astrophysics, human evolution, robot design, frogs and extreme mammals. 

With my adoration for class field trips out in the open, I'm so excited to spread the word about a new initiative from Kleenex.  By "liking" their official Facebook page, you can vote on your local accredited school (public, private, religious - doesn't matter). If they are among the top 100 schools chosen, they'll win $5,000 to spend toward class field trips for the 2011-2012 school year.  Doing the quick math, that's a $500,000 donation by Kleenex -- nice!!

Today, as a matter of fact, Nanny A and Toddler S are on a field trip to the Bronx Zoo.  It's never too early to start, right?! 

Check out Kleenex's field trip initative when you have a moment!


Disclosure: The opportunity to write about this Kleenex promotion was brought to me by the lovely ladies at The Motherhood. I am being compensated for my participation in this campaign, but all opinions expressed are, as always, my very own.

tourist in your own town: part 2

On day 2 of my cousin's trip to NYC, we hit the ground running.  Like any good NYer, we started the day off with bagels for breakfast.


Quick *sigh* sidebar: We really miss the Brooklyn Bagel Co.
now that we're up, up, uptown. Currently in search of a suitable replacement.

Fueled by coffee and carbs, we headed over to our first stop, the Empire State Building... otherwise known as Where Ellen said Yes. The weather, while hot, was sunny and basically perfect for checking out the NYC skyline.  Certainly a big improvement over the previous day on our wet adventure to the WTC and Statue of Liberty.  The line to get in wasn't terrible and we spent a good hour walking around and checking out the city from each direction.  I've heard Top of the Rock has an impressive view, but for my money, there's nothing that beats the romance and allure of the original Observation Deck.


After soaring 86 floors above the city, we came back down to reality and continued our day.  We stopped by the New York Public Library to say hello to Patience and Fortitude, which was especially fun for my cousin since "Between the Lions" was a favorite show of hers as a child. I often forget what an impressive building the library is, nevermind the precious contents held inside.  Next, we picked up lunch beneath Grand Central Station and took a quick peak at the main terminal -- the ceiling alone is worth a view if you're planning a trip to the Big Apple.

Photo credit: Antiques & Fine Art magazine
Carrying lunch with us with a plan to picnic in Central Park, we first took a quick subway ride uptown to indulge every teen's (and let's face it, every adult's) sweet tooth at Dylan's Candy Bar.  I had a feeling my cousin would love this candy store, and I was right!  Honestly, what's not to love... the store is just a happy place, filled to the brim with every candy imaginable.  Granted, if you're almost 7 months pregnant and handling a stroller like I was, you might find it challenging to navigate.  Powered by sugar in every direction, however, I managed to get around okay.  We all left with a major case of perma-grin.

Central Park, from Sheep Meadow and Belvedere Castle, to the picturesque beauty of ponds filled with row boaters and statues standing tall, is a no brainer when planning your trip to the Big Apple. While we hardly skimmed the surface of the park, I think my cousin saw enough to appreciate its beauty and, quite frankly, it's necessity for us urban-ites.  We took a ride on the carousel and strolled underneath the canopy of trees that makes up "the Mall" (personally my favorite section of the park).


Topping off the day, we headed over to FAO Schwartz, because really, what's not to love about a giant toy store (and we were already on a nostalgia kick from our trip to Dylan's). Toddler S picked up a Labrador puppy stuffed animal when we entered and didn't let it go for the entire visit -- naturally we left with it in hand because clearly Husband and I are a couple of suckers -- though not before first channeling Tom Hanks from the movie "Big."  Seriously, I need that giant piano.  So much fun!


Stay tuned for Part 3 (hopefully coming sooner than this one), and here's a teaser to boot: I'll be sharing my new favorite place in NYC!

opening up to life with crest & oral-b

The move, which I've been dreading and simultaneously anticipating, happened this past weekend.  I wasn't sure the day would ever arrive, but indeed it did, accompanied by 4 burly movers and an over-sized truck, which hauled away our things to another neighborhood... a mere 157 blocks uptown.  As I amble my 7 months pregnant self through countless boxes, some unpacked and some piled to the ceiling, it's impossible not to reflect on how far I've come and grown from the girl who arrived on a one-way ticket to NYC 11 years ago.

I came here in late August 2000, 22 years old and fresh out of college.  Despite crying all the way to the airport, I knew in my heart that I was making the right decision -- I had to at least see if I could manage on my own in this great metropolis.  To say I was "green behind the ears" was an understatement, although the month's internship I'd had here during my senior year of college did ease the transition a bit, thankfully.

In a way, I needed this change desperately.  While I dearly loved my family and friends at home, I must admit I felt a bit out of place - particularly before college.  In the small town I grew up in, a heavy dose of "sameness" hung in the air -- almost as thick as the humidity. To me, everyone dressed the same, had the same political and religious affiliations usually and followed similar paths -- a path I could see myself going down if I stayed put.  Instead, I craved individuality; I wanted to walk amongst people of differing cultures, speaking languages I didn't understand and following a path that might not have been originally how they set out.  There was something very exciting about getting lost in this melting pot, yet still being able to carve out a life for myself at the same time.

And I have. I took a pretty significant leap of faith when I moved to New York City, and fortunately for me, most things have gone according to plan. Eleven years later, I have wonderful friends, including a few I met within my first weeks of living here. I've had experiences and been given opportunities here that would be impossible to replicate anywhere else. I met and married a pretty remarkable man and we have a growing family together... and the best part is that I have done it all in a place I truly love.  A place I dreamed about living as a young girl, when it felt completely and utterly out of reach.

As we make our mark on a new neighborhood, still unfamiliar and exciting in that way, there is comfort knowing I'm not alone this time -- my family and I are doing this together.  But there is also immense satisfaction when I look back on everything it took to get here on my own.

When I took a chance and opened up.

Sunset view from our new apt rooftop

Your mouth is more than just teeth and gums, it's your most important feature when it comes to expressing yourself and engaging with the world. The Crest & Oral-B Life Opens Up Project will highlight individual stories that showcase how a healthy mouth has played a role in opening up to life and to the world. Check out the Life Opens Up Project for more details.

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Crest & Oral-B via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Crest & Oral-B.

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