Sunday, March 29, 2009

There's a cow on my head

A few days ago, I announced this blog to the world - and then I didn't write for days. It's hard to get out and explore Chicago when the little one has been sick for a solid week.

So today I will blog about the one thing that helped us get through the week: our Laurie Berkner Band DVD. We rarely put Mia in front of the tv, but when she was feeling so horrible and nothing seemed to help, this was a phenomenal distraction. We mostly just listen to the music, but this week we watched the video as well. Mia LOVES these songs. I give this dvd full credit for Mia clapping her hands any time she hears the words "Clap your hands" - even if it's in the middle of a song she's never heard before. It's also the reason she says "Moo" or "Oink" any time he hears mention of a cow or a pig.

I don't play just baby music for Mia. We spend time dancing almost every day to my iPod, and she's getting exposed to a completely random mix - Britney, the Killers, Beck, KT Tunstall, Arcade Fire - and my personal favorite for dancing with Mia, Jai Ho from Slumdog Millionaire. Yet the songs on this kid DVD are catchy and fun, and while I don't really understand what Mia likes about the visual parts of this DVD, she can't take her eyes off of it.

As I write this, however, I wonder if I'm the last parent to learn of this DVD. We had friends over for dinner a few weeks ago (grownups), and found out that we weren't the only parents with "Victor Vito" constantly running through our heads. And just last weekend at the zoo, we overheard a mom singing "Let's go swimming" to her little girl.

The DVD came with a bonus CD which we keep in our car, and that has helped us with many grouchy car rides. And I should probably be embarrassed to say that on several occasions, I have found myself out driving by myself, only to realize about 10 minutes into the ride that I am listening to a baby CD. And singing.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Calling all princesses

If you've got a little princess at home, or a princess to be (like my Mia), you've got to check out the Princess Club at 3300 N. Southport. It's just north of A Fairytale Ballet, which offers programs that introduce little girls to dance, music, costumes and all other things princess-y and ballet related. The Princess Club is from the same owner - this is where your dancing princess comes to find her clothes and accessories.

I'm still fairly new to having a little girl, so I haven't yet been exposed to all the girly-girl stores. So this was my first - and I loved it. They've got everything you can imagine for a budding princess: pretty slippers, tiaras, sparkly princess wands... and an amazing selection of dresses and tutus. I realized early on that Mia would eventually need a tutu, but I hadn't realized just how many ballerina/princess-wear choices we would have.

A Fairytale Ballet offers classes for kids as young as 2, and they even have Fairytale Princess camps. It looks like the Princess Club web site isn't up and running yet, but you can visit

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Lazar's Juvenile Furniture... I still have mine.

I can't possibly blog about great places for parents in Chicago without mentioning Lazar's Furniture in Lincolnwood. They've got a great selection of baby and kids' furniture, bedding, strollers, car seats, apparel, high chairs, gear and more. And if you're an eco-friendly mom, you'll love the great selection of green items, including organic mattresses, linens and clothing, FSC certified solid wood cribs, and PVC, phthalates and BPA-free baby bottles.

We shopped here before Mia was born, at which point I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. The salespeople who helped us on our various trips to the store were incredibly knowledgeable, and were clearly experts on the products. We ended up getting our car seat, stroller, convertible stroller, glider chair and lots of accessories here.

The thing that I still personally love the most about Lazar's is actually MY baby furniture. I'm talking about the furniture that I've had since I was a child in the very early 70s! My furniture set followed me from my parent's house to the various apartments I've had in Chicago, and it now occupies what I consider to be our very cozy guest room. I will say though, it doesn't seem like anyone really makes furniture quite like this set anymore, but it certainly did endear Lazar's to me in additional ways. Here it is, after all this time!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Giggle - uber cool and eco friendly kid store

Next Saturday, March 28, is the official grand opening celebration of the already-open "giggle," a baby store in Lincoln Park at 2116 North Halsted Street. Again, here's a place I hadn't heard about and was extremely happy to stumble upon this past weekend.

From the moment I walked in, I knew that the items in this store were special. They've got everything, from baby clothes to nursery furniture to toys, books, gear, baby care and lots of great accessorites. giggle takes pride in the fact that they have done all the hard work for moms out there, weeding through the overwhelming amount of products out there to bring you only the best of the best.

You'll find lots of organic, natural, earth-friendly products here. It's probably not the best bet if you're on a budget, but if you're looking for the most innovative and stylish baby products, this store's for you.

And if you're looking for a great baby registry, you should definitely check this place out.

Threadless Kids - not your every day onesies and t-shirts

Last summer, I anxiously awaited the opening of a store called Theadless Kids at 1905 W. Division Street in Wicker Park. I'm not sure why I was so excited about it, since I had no idea what it was going to be, but I liked the name and I knew it had something to do with kids.

The store opened a few months ago, which I only realized a few weeks ago when I was passing by. I stopped in, expecting to find a fairly standard kids clothing/gifts/accessories store, and was surprised that it was devoted exclusively to printed onesies and t-shirts. These weren't your ordinary designs - they're super cute, original and whimsical, and there's a style for everyone.

The best part is how the designs end up on the apparel. Designs are submitted online by anyone that wants to create something, and then web site visitors vote on their favorite designs. Designs with the most votes are selected, and the designer gets $2,000 per design that is used!

So if you're looking for some cute, original, casual duds for your kids, this is a great place to look. And if you've got a creative streak and want to see your artwork on kids apparel, start creating submit something!

You can order from the web site at, and submit your designs as well.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I'm finally blogging.

For months, I've been wanting to start blogging. Since my daughter Mia arrived in April '08, I've come across many great resources - baby accessories, kids stores, play locations, kids services - and I'm often so excited by what I find that I want to share it with other moms and families.

The first thing I should blog about is my own web site: I launched in Fall 2001. The idea for some sort of network for parents about kids' activities first occured to me several years before the site launched, when I worked in marketing at Brookfield Zoo. Up until the birth of my daughter, I produced the site on the side of other full-time jobs. I've built it into a highly trafficked site, and it was even named one of "Chicago's Best Web Sites" by Chicago Magazine last year.

Finally, I'm actually not just compiling family information, but I'm also using it for my own family. I'm getting to experience firsthand many of the places that I promote on my site, and when I come across places or things that I love, I want to share the information with others.