Friday, October 30, 2009

Rice Cereal – The First Banquet

I considered naming this post “Zach grows up” but that seemed a bit pretentious. On Columbus Day, October 12th, Zach had solid (I think that’s exaggerating actually) food for the first time. We were delighted that Fran chose to share this event with us and it certainly was a fun event. The banquet consisted of the traditional first meal of rice cereal. Zach was in his “Lion seat" – sort of a portable high chair which he has already been enjoying at the dinner table and all eyes and smiles were on him as his mother aimed the first spoonful at him. A few seconds later the cameras were out and our family chroniclers snapped away.

So did Zach enjoy the meal? This picture speaks for itself. He had a great time! Since then both Hugh and I have had a chance to feed him and it is really so much fun! Zach sticks his tongue out wide, slurps up the cereal and enjoys his supper. However, lately he has been looking at us while we eat as if to say “Is that all there is?” The plan is for him to have applesauce next – for the first time on Thanksgiving – just short of being six months old.

Check out The Grandma Chronicles over the weekend – I’ll be reporting on the first Halloween – and yes, of course I’ll have a picture.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Holiday Gift Ideas - Today's Feature: Baby Genius

Today’s product review swings to the other end of the spectrum from yesterday’s review and features toys made by Baby Genius and available only at Walmart. Baby Genius is 10 years old so although it is an established company it is a new name to many of us grandparents.

At the A Time to Play Holiday Showcase I had the opportunity to look over some of the new toys in the Baby Genius product line. They are introducing 24 new toys for infants - pre-school ages. The toys are music and activity based. I was told that they cost about 20% less than the competitive product but I have not personally checked it out in stores.

Some of the new toys that caught my eye:

The Singing Bus: This bus with little people plays “The Wheels on the Bus.” All of us grandparents remember that one – Guess what? It’s still popular.

Pet Care Center – Our kids had doctor and nurse kits but I saw two products featuring veterinary care. This is definitely a modern twist and there is much more veterinary care than there used to be. This toy has a small dog, stethoscope, and other care items and the carry all for it is a “pet carrier.” This may be a good toy for young children who have pets to learn about and not be afraid of their pet going to the vet.

This is a reasonably priced line of toys with items beginning at $5.

Visit the Baby Genius website for more information on the complete line, the Parent’s Lounge AND you can download for free 18 songs in the “Circle of Education” designed to help pre-schoolers get ready for school. The songs feature themes like washing hands and taking turns.

Baby Genius website

A Time to Play Magazine

Check back tomorrow for another product review. To see all of the product reviews click on "Gifts" in the Label section of the sidebar.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Holiday Gift Ideas - Today's Feature: Corolle Dolls

Yesterday I featured a low cost, readily available everywhere item and today’s feature is just the opposite. Corolle dolls are definitely high end. They are sold around the world but they are designed and made in France. But it isn’t just in France, its more specific pedigree is self described on their website as only the French could do: “Corolle is located in the Loire Valley, the storybook region of France that is famous for its scenic beauty and magnificent chateaux.” You get the idea – you won’t find this in ToyRUs.

The Corolle dolls are enchanting - as befits their Loire Valley origins, soft and lifelike with beautiful clothing and accessories. There are baby dolls, ballerinas, “les trendies" for older children and more. There are some interesting items for newborns including a blankie/snuggly, the mini baby doll rattle assortment that can be attached to a crib (one is a baby boy) and dolls with sewn-on features - safe for the youngest child.

The Corolle line features lots of outfits and accessories to go with the dolls. And they also have a “French” touch. This set was featured at A Time to Play and it looked like everyone visiting the Corolle table fell in love with it. The BÉBÉ CHARMEUR GIFT SET comes with a heart-pattern carry bed, Bébé Charmeur, pink pajamas, pacifier, bib, baby bottle, and plate with spoon. This is the kind of doll that can be your grandchild’s favorite for years. It is recommended for ages 2 and up. This is a pricey item at $90 but can really be a special gift that only a grandparent would splurge on.

There also is a baby boy “Paul” doll. Since my only grandchild is a boy, this item caught my eye. Little boys like dolls too and boy dolls can be hard to find.

Some other things I Always Like to Note:

Electronic free - There are no batteries or electronics – just an old fashioned doll!

Cost – This is a pricey line but it is made in France - not China - and the quality and attractiveness of the product makes it worthy of consideration.

How to get it – This can be a project. Their website provides a comprehensive list and they are in numerous specialty toy stores, but not at mass retailers like ToyRUs and WalMart.

Website: The Corolle website provides pictures and information about all their products. It also has an easy to use menu so that you can find a store near you that carries the line.

Corolle website

A Time to Play Magazine

Check back tomorrow for another product review - I haven't decided which one yet so it will be a surprise.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Holiday Gift Ideas - Today's Feature: Games from I Can Do That!

Products from a small company - “I can do that!” were among my favorite products that I learned about at the A Time to Play 2009 World Showcase on October 1st. For grandparents, this is a company that you probably have not heard of. It was only founded in 2007 but it has already won over 40 awards – some from very prestigious educational toy sources. These games are for children 3 and up.

Here is what I like:

Characters I Know - Although they are a new company their products feature classical characters that we all know – Dr. Seuss, Richard Scarry and Curious George.

Educational and Fun - The games feature large floor mats and young children develop skills and build confidence while having fun. Each game also has educational features – but the learning takes place as part of the fun. It is light years away from flash cards. The games are designed to develop teamwork, promote attention to detail and develop object identification and matching skills.

Electronic free - There are no batteries or electronics!. Wow – I love that!

Low Cost – The retail price for each game is $16.99

Easy to find – ToysrUs and other mass retailers carry these products – no excuse that I can’t find it.

Website – The company has an excellent website which includes a good page for parents to learn about playing games with young children.

Check ou the I Can Do That and A Time to Play websites.
I Can Do That!

A Time to Play Magazine

I'll be writing about products all this week so check back for more gift suggestion articles. And your comments if you are familiar with any of these items or what you want to know about in the reviews.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Holiday Gift Planning - See a New Article Every Day This Week

On October 1st I went to my first industry event as a grandma blogger. Marissa Connelly at Litzky Publications in Hoboken invited me to a huge media event in New York sponsored by A Time to Play magazine.
A Time to Play Magazine

As an aside - visit their website now as they are having a daily patchwork quilt giveaway contest every day this week.

The holiday showcase featured large and small companies introducing new toys for the holidays. And they weren’t just in boxes. I got to interview company representatives, see the products up close and have all their features demonstrated. I was in the “online media” group and that included many mommy bloggers and from looking around I would say one grandma blogger(that would be me). But guess what? Some company representatives really perked up when I mentioned The Grandma Chronicles and were delighted to have a new entree to this market.

Anyway I decided in advance what my niche would be – items that grandparents would be interested in for children under 5. That focus will probably be adjusted in a few years but it represents where I am right now. This week I plan to post a bunch of articles about the products I learned about. Originally I planned to write just three articles and group them but then that seemed like a big project – Instead each company that I write about will be featured in one article.

I will be providing some articles on small companies that you may have to buy the product online but you won’t have to worry about duplicates –it will be a unique offering.

On the New Grandparents Group at that I moderate there are grandparents who are concerned about being able to afford great gifts for their grandchildren and so I am featuring some interesting possibilities priced under $20.
New Grandparents Group at

One of my favorite categories are products with characters and names we remember like Richard Scarry that are still around with some updated twists.

So be sure to check back every day as you never know when a new product article will appear. And post your comments too!

I had a wonderful time at A Time to Play 2009 Holiday Showcase and I sure hope Marissa invites me again next year.