Wednesday, March 31, 2010

If You Love Legos, You’ll Love the New Lego Games

I usually write about baby through preschool topics on this blog. But every once in a while there is something worth stretching this niche for and this is one of those times. It fits in with my theme for product reviews that they should be from a grandparent perspective and often are about a new twist on a product that we remember well. We all remember Legos and many of us – including me – have kept Duplos and some favorite Lego sets in the attic just sitting and waiting for grandchildren. I have some of those and will be writing about new Lego sets in the Fall.

Today I want to introduce a new product line by LegoLego games. There is a move back to families spending more time together and away from having kids overprogrammed in organized activities. Our town even has a monthly family night – the fourth Wednesday of every month when there is no homework, no sports or other organized activities scheduled and families are encouraged to eat a family meal together and spend the night in family activity. I know, I know many of us think of family dinner as a nightly event but for many families today this is a once a week or once a month activity.

At the New York Toy Fair that I attended in February, bloggers (That’s mommy bloggers and one grandma blogger to be exact) were invited to a special after hours party sponsored by Lego to introduce their new game line. Besides being able to stroll through their entire exhibit without the crowds, they had a sit down time where we got to play a couple of new games. Lego is introducing 10 games – some will be introduced in the Fall and some were just introduced in March. The games are pretty sophisticated and featured a Lego building construction pad with a template that you build yourself.

The game we played is called Minotaurs. You each have three micro Lego characters and start at the edge of the board and work your way to the middle to win. The dice has colors and numbers. You move toward your goal when you roll a number, and when you roll a color you may get to jump a hedge, block the path of another, free up your path or swoop in and send another player’s piece back to start. There’s strategy, logic, guessing and good old luck at work to become the winner.

I enjoyed playing the Minotaurs game and in fact I won at my table. Did that contribute to the fun? Well, perhaps. It reminded me of playing with Legos with my kids and it doesn’t have any music or flashing lights – my favorite features to be absent in toys. If you know a child who likes games such as checkers and chess this may be a perfect gift for them. This is the kind of game that you get better at the more you play and develop a winning strategy. It is a good game to play across generations also as children as young as five and as old as – whatever – will enjoy playing. So I give it an A+ for “family engagement.”

This new set of Lego games should be available everywhere. They were recently featured in a Toysrus email I received. This game retails for $24.99 and it is also available at a discount at – click on the ad below for more information.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Zach’s Gourmet Menu and Preferences

Zach is eating solid food these days and clearly lets us know what he likes and doesn’t like in one of two ways:

If it is food on a spoon he will either come toward you with an open mouth or keep it zipped up even while smiling while gently pushing your hand with the spoon away from him. If it is finger food it is either picked up and put in his mouth or picked up and dropped on the floor. No questions about what he is and isn’t interested in at all. He may not be talking yet but he is an excellent communicator.

All orange foods seem to be his favorite and it already looks like getting him to eat green vegetables will be a challenge. What he doesn’t know is that his Grandma thinks eating green vegetables is very important and is willing to try a variety of approaches to win him over.

Fran, his Mom, has been making almost all of his food and he has no idea how spoiled he is. The food is much tastier and has a nice texture compared to store bought food. Zach’s favorites include sweet potatoes, plums, peaches, carrots and pears. The “orange colored family of foods.” A recent addition to his favorites is peach yogurt. Fran adds her home cooked peaches to plain yogurt and it is really a tasty treat - so Zach has let us know. Once in a while he has some store bought baby food at Grandma’s since I keep a few containers for emergency purposes at my house. Fran has dubbed this “Baby Burger King.” If you are interested in making homemade baby food, Fran recommends this great website with recipes:

Wholesome Baby Food

More recently Zach has been eating finger foods and table food. That is always fun to watch as he picks up some food – sometimes really in his hand and not between two fingers - and maneuver it into his mouth. We watch and cheer on success. Learning to pick up something small which to this point everyone has avoided you being anywhere near – and get it into your mouth is really quite a skill and takes practice and interest to master. So the food has to be tasty for Zach to be willing to put in that effort.

Zach enjoys Puffs and Cheerios. No – Puffs are not the tissues. Puffs are a lighter version of Cheerios. They come in a variety of flavors and Zach's menu includes peach, banana and sweet potato flavors. This is a new product since my kids were babies but definitely check them out. Both of these have become quite a favorite snack.

Some of Zach’s favorite table foods that he can pick up himself are grilled chicken and meatloaf. On Saint Patrick’s Day he enjoyed corned beef. No cabbage though - too gassy. Today is Palm Sunday, ham will be on the menu.

Hungry yet? Quite a menu for someone who only had formula just a little while ago. Every aspect of experiencing a baby grow and do new things is so much fun to be part of. Watching Zach learn to eat “real” food, seeing his preferences, wondering if he swallowed that or is it still hanging out in his mouth makes every mealtime an adventure. I love it!

It’s Spring – almost and we have been spending more time outdoors. That’s next on the writing agenda. Please share your experiences for all of us to enjoy in the comments and Check back soon.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Mrs. Smith's Diaper Bag Giveaway Winner!!

My first giveaway - a Mrs. Smith's Diaper Bag - is awarded to "Jaydensgrandma" who wrote:

"I would love to win this bag. My daughters bag is cute, but not so functional. This one looks real nice. Thank you for the chance to win it."

Thanks to all of you who entered.  The contest ended on March 20th, and this morning I chose the winner by selecting a random number at  Check back next week for a new giveaway.

Mrs. Smith's Diaper bag is really a special and unique bag.  If you are interested in purchasing one you can by clicking on the link below.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Zach Takes Off and Puts Us on Alert

Zach, my grandson, is now nine months old and he is in that “getting into everything “ stage. He is crawling around and grabbing onto handles of drawers and cabinets. He isn’t walking but is taking a couple steps cruising. Real cruising can’t be far away. He likes to pull out all the plastic containers from the one cabinet we try to steer him too. Forget bothering with organization in that cabinet for the forseeable future.

As Zach reaches each new stage – that seems like every few weeks – the parents and grandparents have to make adjustments. Zach used to be satisfied to stay in his high chair on wheels and observe Mom for awhile during the day. She would move the chair from room to room to get some things done and he would play and interact with her just fine. Now that he can crawl, being happy to sit in this chair is a thing of the past.

Here at the grandparents’ house, we are getting ready to implement some changes ourselves. There are more safety plugs in the outlets. I must admit I hate having to do this in my much used outlets but Zach particularly is interested in the one on the side of my counter that I plug a mixer into and so it was the first one to get the safety treatment. Zach’s safety comes before Grandma’s convenience – no contest!.

On our list of safety steps is a gate from the kitchen to the basement and safety lock for the under the sink cabinet. My sister-in-law plans to bring us her safety gate since her grandchildren are all older now and so we will once again benefit from handy-me-down supplies.

Like many babies his age Zach has a huge number of toys – many designed to have educational value. He likes many of the toys and is learning more ways to play with them, but here is his favorite by far –an empty water bottle with the ring and wrapper removed. He crunches it up, bangs it, bites it and in general it’s a blast. We often give him one when he is in his high chair at the dinner table. I must admit I usually can’t help thinking “real boy” when he takes the bottle and crunches it between his hands like a regular little “he-man.”

Enjoying life’s simple pleasures is really amplified with Zach around. Watching Zach grow and change continually is both enjoyable and stimulating for us. Soon I plan to write about Zach’s eating habits and gourmet menu. Check back soon for that post. I hope you’ll share your grandparenting experience with little ones in the comments.