Friday, May 30, 2014

Go, Go Lil Lovebird! Nia's Razor Jr. Kuties Unicorn Scooter

Disclosure: I received a Razor Jr. Kuties Unicorn Scooter for review purposes. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Our first spring in Jersey City two years ago Nia developed a certain obsession with scooters: whenever we were at the playground she would try to take over any temporarily abandoned scooter while the owner was running around or playing on the jungle gym. She was definitely too little to use one at the time, but her obsession didn't stop. 

I took quite a few pictures of her "meeting" her new unicorn scooter - she was petting it so frantically they came out blurry!
While at Toy Fair this year I stopped by the Razor booth then met them again at TPPM's Spring Showcase. I was excited to see their full line of scooters and now with Nia nearly 4 years old, she's the perfect age for Razor's Jr. Kuties line which currently retails for about $40 at Target and has an age minimum of 3 years and weight max of 44 lbs. (Nia's 41 lbs). While I had images of Nia attempting to scoot around super fast as I see older kids do around the city, I quickly learned that the 3-wheel configuration of Razor Jr. allows for younger kids to better maneuver vs. their traditional 2-wheel scooter which is more appropriate for older kids.

Nia was thrilled when her Kuties Unicorn Scooter arrived and begged to take it out immediately. We compromised and she practiced in our apartment building's hallway several days with her dad before taking it outside (I posted this Instagram sneak peek of her in the elevator on her way out to test it!).

Here's a quick video of Nia's first time outdoors with her Razor:


Somehow she convinced me she could scoot all the way to school (it's usually a 15 minute walk). Let's just say we won't be doing that again anytime soon, and once we finnnnnnnally made it to school she even agreed it wasn't a good idea! We've had the scooter about two weeks now, and she still needs quite a bit of practice maneuvering - something she should get lots of time doing this summer when we head out and about. 

I know once Nia gets a bit more practice she'll literally be flying, and I'm happy to share my favorite features:
  • The safety of having 3 wheels
  • Double function - with the removable hobby horse Nia likes to use it for pretend play when she's not scooting
  • Lightweight - I was concerned about this especially during the walk to school; it was easy enough for me to pick it up and carry it when she wasn't able to scoot
Here's what I'd change:
  • Make it easier to put together - there was one particular bolt that drove both me and Mr. Lovebird crazy! We each took turns trying to put it in place and after his second attempt he finally was able to do it, but boy did we work up a sweat!
  • Stabilize the hobby horse - perhaps because Nia is Type A like me while riding she wanted the horse's head to remain positioned perfectly the front, but it kept turning; she'd stop every time to reposition it. If there was a way to keep it front and center that'd be great (or if we were just a bit less Type A!)
  • Make it foldable - while I'm thankful that the Razor Jr. Kutie's lightweight, I'm envious of the Razors that fold. It just seems so convenient! When Nia gets older we'll upgrade to a foldable one for sure
And a few thoughts on safety: I make Nia wear a helmet when she scoots outdoors; she has to dismount when crossing the street with me (I hold her hand and carry the scooter in the other); on the playground she is not allowed to scoot around the play space - this is one of the rules of our local park, but I often see it broken and as a result she wants to break it too. 

Overall, we're very pleased with the Razor Jr. Kuties Unicorn Scooter. I'll have to do a mini-update at the end of the summer to show her improvement with maneuvering!

Have your kids tried a scooter? Or even you? I see quite a few adults scooting around the city!

Butterfly In the Sky: It's Coming BAAAAACK!

I remember hearing faintly about Levar Burton's desire to bring back Reading Rainbow and apparently the public has declared that time is NOW!

Did you hear?  Read this to find out more. Basically, Mr. Burton put up a $1 million dollar Kickstarter campaign and more than doubled it pretty quickly. Amazing!

This post on the 80s is one of my top posts and I do have a warm, fuzzy place in my heart for Reading Rainbow as I shared here

Now I get all giddy thinking about it coming back! It brings back memories of eating Little Debbie after school snacks while watching it laying on the living room carpet (please tell me I'm not the only one who has food/childhood TV associations like that!). Anyway, for old time's sake here are a few of my favorite Reading Rainbow moments:

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  • Abiyoyo read by Pete Seeger - Mr. Lovebird, and I still recite this to each other randomly from time to time; we showed the video to Nia and it scared her
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  • The Macy's Day Parade episode - it featured Jumanji (I was terrified of this story as a kid!), and I believe the guy who later became the voice of Elmo appears at the end (take a look and correct me someone if I'm wrong!)


{Image Credit}

  • Miss Nelson is Back - again another one that scared me, but still loved it; the full episode featuring the talent of the make-up artist from The Goonies is BRILLIANT! 

Did you watch Reading Rainbow as a kid? What are your thoughts on the Kickstarter campaign? BTW it's live for another 33 days if you want to contribute!



P.S. Did you know there was a "Mr. Rogers Meets Levar Burton" episode of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood??? I completely missed this awesomeness as a kid, but you can watch it here

Thursday, May 29, 2014

HuMn Mini-Wallet: It's Changing My Life Ya'll!

Disclosure: I received a HuMn Mini-Wallet for review purposes. All opinions expressed are my own. 

I'm usually on top of things, but the truth is due to pregnancy brain or just age, I'm seriously slipping. Since being pregnant I've misplaced my driver's license at least twice. The worse was when I went to check the mail one day and somehow my driver's license was inside O_o NOT GOOD!

I've shared my frustration before with finding the right system for carrying my phone AND wallet essentials, and while I've come close to a solution, I'm always on the hunt for something better. I carry a small cross-body bag most of the time, and while I really wanted a combo phone/wallet case to be the answer I had to compromise to separate the two due to my bad luck with broken phones. I MUST have a WWIII proof case on my phone at all times - that's all there is too it!


The last straw was when carrying my cards in my makeshift "wallet" (pictured above, it's more like a glorified business card holder) everything spilled out on the street, and I lost my driver's license. I ended up backtracking my steps and calling around to every place I had been. In the end it was stuck to another card, but it was quite the scare. Just a few weeks before that incident while visiting my parents, I completely lost my debit card and after doing a full sweep of the car, house and backtracking steps again I had to cancel it, have a new card reissued and then go through the process of updating all my accounts. Ughhhhh.

As a soon-to-be mama of two I simply don't have time for this nonsense!

When HuMn reached out to me to review their Mini-Wallet (MSRP: $29.99) soon after all these mishaps I was intrigued; it was as though they had been following my scatter-brained self around! Made from high-grade impact resistant injection molded plastic the HuMn Mini-Wallet's suprisingly thin, and has the snap bands similar to my makeshift wallet, but I wasn't sure it would really do what it lived up to: hold everything easily in place without falling out.

Curious to see how it turned out? Check out the full results in my vlog review:


So are you a believer? Thought so! You can get your own HuMn wallet here

There are other sizes and colors available to truly customize it how you want it - you can even add more plates to expand the wallet. I personally love to keep it as simple as possible and the mini-wallet works for me!

Also as an entrepreneur I really appreciate that it's a start-up and am happy to support HuMn (the spelling comes from combining the founders' names - I love details like that!).

What's your current wallet situation like? Have you ever lost an ID or debit card?

I Still Dream of Harlem

Wanna know my fantasy?

We end up sticking it out here in NYC-metro, purchase our current condo (it's for sale and the area's about to go through major redevelopment making us want to hold onto it), when we grow out of space we rent it out and move back to Harlem in a gorgeous brownstone and eventually get a 2nd home upstate (or in New England) to visit on weekends and someday retire someplace warm keeping one floor of our brownstone as a pied-à-terre while renting the rest, always keeping a foothold in NYC (especially since Mr. Lovebird's family is here).

::SIGH::

A girl can dream right?

Well, here's some inspiration for my dreams:

52 Hamilton Terrace (all images via link) 








426 W. 147th ST (all images via link)








What's your real estate/geographic fantasy or are you living it right now? Where do you go for home inspiration? 
 


P.S. You can find the rest of my Harlem Brownstone Love posts here!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Lovebirds at Brooklyn Baby & Family Expo 2014

I did a brief reminder of last month's Brooklyn Baby and Family Expo and keeping up with my A Lot to Blog About post I'm excited to finally share a recap!


This was my first time at the Brooklyn Baby & Family Expo thanks to my friend and fellow GoGo squeeZ Squad member Denise, who blogs at FiDi Families. Honestly, I don't get out to Brooklyn, Mr. Lovebird's home borough often and it was a perfect weather day to go - Mr. Lovebird gave us a lift as he was on his way out of town for work which made the trek a bit easier! 


When I arrived Honest Toddler was already speaking so Nia and I hurried into the auditorium to hear the last part of her talk - her discussion of needed-parent inventions left me laughing especially the suggested pill to give you a 20 or 30-minute grace period of compliance from your kid. Since then I can't stop thinking of instances when that would be most helpful! Oh and I got especially giddy when this happened later on Instagram - I was kinda cheesin'!:




I wasn't quite hungry yet, but later wish I had picked up something from Fresh Direct's delicious spread which I passed by on my way to check out the children's drop-off area. The food was cleared out pretty quickly!



Speaking of the kid's drop-off area, I was delighted to see that one existed, but the capacity was so low and you had to wait for kids to leave before another entering so it was easiest just to keep Nia with me. Instead she wanted to spend a lot of time at IKEA's play area - it was hard to pull her away to look at booths. We had just been at IKEA the day before to upgrade her room with a big girl bed so she kinda has an affinity for the place!


From Pottery Barn Kids to Babyganics, Fairway and Bundle (their organic, prenatal juice was delish!) there was a good mix of national and local vendors at the Expo. 


I was most excited to visit with Joovy and learn about the VaryLight double stroller. We've since received for review (sneak peek here), and I can't wait to share with you! Joovy also makes the new Boob Baby Bottle compatible with my breast pump, and I recently received their gift set which I look forward to using this time around. I only manual pumped the first time around, which happened rarely, but this baby will definitely be more bottle-fed since I'm on the go more.


The Expo started to get pretty crowded, and there were so many strollers trying to go up and down the very narrow aisles. I kinda shut down after a while and gave up out of exhaustion. I just didn't feel like pushing through the aisles especially with my belly in the way. I definitely hope it's in a bigger venue or a different layout next year!

Regarding the giveaways, they required a bingo card and you could enter for specific ones which I liked, but between pushing through the aisles and then dropping off the card and waiting for your prize's selected time and straining to hear if you're name was called it was definitely hard to do with a little one in tow. 


What I really appreciated were all the activities for kids at the Expo - with the play area I mentioned above, the face/body painting and musical performances I could see this as the type of event both parents come to while they trade off between vendors and kid's events.

Have you been to any family expos in your area? Which aspects do you like most?
 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

It's Here!: Gain’s® #MusicToYourNose Laundromat Takeover & Sweepstakes

Disclosure: I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom CentralConsulting for Gain. I received a promotional item as a thank-you for participating.


I remember the first time I smelled Gain when I came to the east coast for college - the smell was seriously addictive! I "bumped" into Gain again at my first Blogalicious in 2012 and was excited to see they were a sponsor. I was even a finalist in their t-shirt makeover contest and got to go on stage with Doug E. Fresh, remember

I always think of Gain as a fun brand so when I saw they were taking over laundromats this spring to unveil community-created art displays in laundromats throughout the Bronx, Spanish Harlem and Washington Heights I was curious to see for myself. Aiming to create a cultural immersion experience in unexpected locations, Gain celebrates the blend of music, art and culture through art installations throughout the city.

Lil Lovebird and I headed up to the Bronx a couple weeks ago to check it out after school including a street concert by Leslie Grace (here's a quick snippet!). It was a rainy afternoon, but the bright colors more than made up for it! 



Are you in NYC and want to check out Gain's laundromat takeovers for yourself? 

Here's where they are located:
  • 1965 Amsterdam Avenue (between 157th and 158th Streets), Washington Heights, 10032
  • 275 East 163rd Street, (between Morris Ave and College Ave), Bronx 10451
  • 2037 3rd Avenue (between E112th and E113th St.), Spanish Harlem 10029
  • 3825 3rd Avenue (between E 171 St and Claremont Parkway), Bronx 10457
  • 938 E 163rd St (between Intervale Avenue and Kelly St.), Bronx 10459
  • 1210 Webster Avenue (corner of Webster and 168th St) Bronx 10456
And with Gain's special #MusicToYourNose Sweepstakes that's running now through June 16, 2014 there's even more of an incentive to visit! Snap a selfie in front of the designated art installation at one of the laundromats and upload it on Instagram or Facebook with the #MusicToYourNose hashtag. The fab prizes?: Three winners selected to receive Gain Prize Packs including product and Amex gift cards ($150 value) and one Grand Prize winner receiving $500 in Gain products and an Amex gift card towards home cleaning service.

I could definitely use a prize like that, how about you? 

Are you a Gain fanatic like I am? 
 

Our Baby Prep Memorial Day Weekend

This was a "get stuff done" kind of weekend and it was about 50% so. We ended up eating and sleeping quite a bit which I determined was much more needed than washing and folding Baby Agbai 2.0's clothes. 


Friday Mr. Lovebird got off early so we could go on our hospital tour. I'm under the care of a midwifery practice which has privileges at a local hospital. While I wanted to get all "The Farm" this time a la Ina May Gaskin, Mr. Lovebird was not down for a home birth so this was the compromise. After visiting the hospital I definitely think it's a good choice. I'm most excited to let my baby come this time around on his own time unlike last time.

The bad news is the hospital still had a flu restriction so Lil Lovebird was not able to join us. She's super perceptive so I was looking forward to her seeing the place she'd first meet her brother ahead of time, but I'm sure she'll be fine regardless.

We got down to business Saturday doing quite a bit of purging, donating and rearranging. Mr. Lovebird is quite Type-A (deep down inside) and it turns out he can organize a closet like a game of Tetris! We were also able to get a bit of outdoor time at a birthday party for Nia's preschool friend then tried out a local burger joint that's been calling my name for quite some time. That decision might have been a bad idea because their fried mac & cheese burger (with BACON!) is highly addictive and sits beside a bus stop I frequent. Thank goodness for extended nursing I tell ya! I'll be visiting a few times for sure... 

Sunday we ended up at my college friend Maria's BBQ (remember this sweet picture of Nia and my friend in their backyard?). Well here she is again in her backyard:

She looks like her dad, agree?
My parents were in town helping my sister Lauren move so they came over and we all BBQed yesterday. I definitely overate (hey, I gotta get my iron level up per my midwife!) then I napped HARD!

I was glad we were able to get this family selfie although Lil Lovebird was passed out:


I couldn't help but add the banner - doesn't this remind you of a sitcom or something?
Curious how we spent previous Memorial Day Weekends? Check them out here: 2013, 2012 (this was the weekend I weaned Nia), 2011.

How was your holiday weekend? Feeling like you need an extra day or two like I do?
 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Toys Galore at TTPM's Spring Showcase 2014


The fact that TTPM's Spring Showcase was in my 3rd trimester and Toy Fair was in my 2nd made the world of difference! The former was a more manageable affair vs. the expanse of Toy Fair - I don't think I could've done Toy Fair in my 3rd trimestser. The best part: I was able to revisit quite a few brands I had met at Toy Fair to see their updates as well as meet some new brands.

The TTPM team discussed the big trends this toy season including the fact that it's a BIG movie year (Godzilla, Frozen and Lego's continued success, Spider-Man and Transformers to name a few!)

Here are my favorite highlights from the showcase:


JAKKS Pacific - their anticipated Frozen dolls and dresses will be out soon and everyone is waiting with baited breath! I have to admit we're a Frozen-obsessed household (are you?). Additionally, their Whimsy & Wonder tea/dress-up line is perfect for the budding princess in your life - we've been playing with it the past couple weeks and a separate review is coming up!


Paw Patrol - I hadn't heard of this until the showcase but to see everyone else excitement piqued my interest. I look forward to checking out this cute line with Nia soon!


LeapFrog - LeapFrog's LeapBand is something to be excited about! With all the fitness trackers for adults, I was excited to see one for kids. It has the ability too for parental control to shut off the play feature while the child is in school when it turns into just a watch. 


Mega Bloks - I had always thought of Mega Bloks as a toddler toy, but fell in love with the Barbie playsets for bigger kids. It brought back memories of my mini-playsets growing up and I know it's something Lil Lovebird would love (we've been a bit paranoid though of introducing toys with small pieces with baby coming soon!).


My Little Pony - After introducing Nia to My Little Pony post-Toy Fair, I was thrilled when Nia took to it just like I did when I was her age. The Equestria Girls based on the Hasbro movie is one of Nia's favorites as well as Flip & Whirl Rainbow Dash.  


Crayola - I continue to be a fan of their Color Wonder line and they've done a lot to make the colors even more vibrant than before. We've been playing with the Doodle Magic Lap Desk (full review to come!) and are excited for the outdoor playsets too - I think they'll make a fun addition for Nia's 4th birthday party this year which will be outdoors again. 


And Nia's #1 favorite item I brought home from TTPM's 2014 Spring Showcase???




The Happy's - these adorable, interactive pets allow kids to train them and do tricks for treats via the infrared key chain remote. For us, it's the perfect compromise for a real pet! As you can see above Nia was thrilled to see it in her gift bag and has had fun training her kitten Mittens.

Oh and the food too - I was happy to see yummy sandwiches, fruit and salad for my pregnant belly!

 
Stay tuned for some fun reviews of the toys we've received. . .

What toys are your kids into this spring?  
 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Our Newest Addition

Those of you who follow me on social media saw the latest addition to our household last month: 


During Nia's spring break last month we made our way down to my parents' home in Maryland to bring back my childhood piano. It's a beautiful piece that my parents purchased new years ago, and we are excited that they are letting us use it!


I shared a while back that Nia started piano lessons and she takes them with a Suzuki instructor in our area at a local church. It's in a group setting with other 3-5 year olds, but most of the students take violin. It was really hard to find a Suzuki teacher who takes 3 year olds. Why Suzuki? My parents started me on Suzuki piano at a really young age, I appreciated the technique and continued lessons for 8 years. I can still read music, and it's a gift my parents gave me that I'm really thankful for.


Nia started her lessons in January and the first two months were a bit rocky. It was difficult to get Nia to sit and focus - she was more interested in playing with the other kids. Uka and I have also found that if we're not there (for example, if my sister Ariane takes her), she does really well and even does other impressive things like this.

It's also important that Baby Bobo witness her lessons:


Uka's been able to be with her more than I have at lessons, and he's even gotten in on the action:


Sometimes they'll perform a mini-duet with Uka on the piano and Nia on the violin - she told us she actually prefers the violin and her teacher said she's exceptional at it already outperforming even some of the older kids! While we considered the violin, we believe the general music foundation of a piano especially if she wants to go into other areas like singing, writing music or even dancing, is an excellent core instrument so we're sticking with it for now.

I enjoy having it in the home (the amateur interior designer in me loves how it matches our cabinetry!) and have enjoyed starting my mornings with a bit of music! Nia's inspired to walk up to it as well making up her own songs and practicing. She's a bit young to put on a regimented scheduled and I still want it to be fun for her so we don't pressure her too much but she does play something on it at least once a day.

Her recital is coming up the beginning of June and my mom's already made her an adorable dress that I can't wait to share (as well as a snippet of her performance) so stay tuned . . .

Did you take music lessons growing up or do your kids? Which instruments are favorites in your household? 

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