‘Put Me in the Story’ Makes Story Time Personal

It’s no secret that story time with your little one can foster a lifelong love of reading and create a strong bond between mother and child. That’s why I’ve always made bedtime reading a family ritual and it’s just gotten better.

Put Me In The Story turns books into individual tomes by personalizing them with your child’s name. Your mini me will be fascinated by the fact that her (or his) name appears throughout the book—making story time even more special.

Seeing their names woven into the story promotes reading comprehension and allows your child to truly be a part of the story.

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Disney’s Dream Big, Princess is available here, $34.99. Hurry, order by 12/16/16  11:59pm EST in time for Christmas arrival. 

From Disney’s Dream Big, Princess, to Marvel’s “Avengers,” these books make excellent gifts for your little reader.

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I have one for my daughter and I can’t wait for her to unwrap it on Christmas. Hey, maybe seeing her name on and throughout the book will inspire her to become an author! You never know what can spark their interests.

Have you ever purchased a personalized book for your child?

Inside Sprout Studios: A Tour to Remember

There’s nothing more precious than witnessing your child experience a priceless moment.

I had that special pleasure a few weeks ago when I surprised my children with a visit to Sprout, the premier 24-hour cable network for preschoolers. Nestled on the 6th floor of Rockefeller Center in the heart of Manhattan, the NBC-owned channel is home to popular children programs like “Caillou” and “The Berenstain Bears,” as well as several original animated series such as “Dot.,” “Terrific Trucks,” and “Floogals.”

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But the main star of the network is “Chica,” the chipper, gibberish-speaking chicken from the flagship, Emmy-nominated program, “The Sunnyside Up Show.” Not only does Chica serve as a co-host on the aforementioned show, she also makes appearances alongside hosts, Emily, Kaitlin, and Tim for birthday announcements, sing-alongs, holiday specials, etc. between programming breaks.

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The private tour started with a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the control room. Having never visited a television studio before, seeing the multiple screens, monitors and unfamiliar knobs and buttons were fascinating for both of my kids. Watching their little faces light up in amazement was a true joy. But that excitement couldn’t compare to the jubilation of meeting Emily and Chica.

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As we turned the hallway and walked into the studio where all of the action happens, the moment I’d been waiting for had finally arrived: they met Chica! Ava was excited, but certainly not as enthused as my 3-year-old son. His excitement was palpable and confirmed by his constant squeals and shrieks.

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But, Chica wasn’t the only notable in the room. Emily is bonafide celebrity in our home so they were both pretty thrilled to meet her in person too. Her warm, peppy personality was just as vibrant off-camera as it appears onscreen.

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After chatting with Chica and Emily, checking out the set, green room and makeup room, we were on our way with memories (and mementos) that will last a lifetime!

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Be sure to look out for Sprout’s holiday specials throughout the month. Click here for more information. 

Are your children Sprout fans? If so, what’s their favorite show(s)?

Kids Will Go Crazy for This Easy Thanksgiving Dessert

If you’ve got the beans, greens, potatoes and tomatoes ready for Thanksgiving, but are still stumped on what to serve the kids for dessert don’t fret; I’ve got you covered!

Why not whip up a batch of yummy Apple Pumpkin Spice muffins made with GoGo squeeZ’s seasonal (Apple Pumpkin Spice) applesauce? These sweet and cinnamon-y pastries are the perfect alternative for the sugar-laden treats that are typically presented during the holidays.

The recipe is easy, tasty and most importantly—healthy. The all-natural applesauce is a hit for moms because it’s made with real fruit and doesn’t have any of those unpronounceable ingredients or artificial flavors.

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GoGo squeeZ Apple Pumpkin Spice Applesauce available here, prices may vary.

Plus, if your kids are like mine, simply mentioning the popular fruit-filled pouches will make them jump for joy. So, imagine their delight when they learn that their favorite snack will serve as the main ingredient for a delicious dessert. Trust me, you’re going to score major points for adding these muffins to the menu.

My kids are excited to prepare (and gobble) this simple recipe on dinner’s biggest day and I couldn’t be more thankful.

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Below, find the foolproof recipe:

GoGo squeeZ Apple Pumpkin Spice Muffin Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 2 cups oats
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 pouches of GoGo squeeZ Apple Pumpkin Spice
  • Oil or cooking spray

Instructions:

*Preheat oven to 350°F.

*Grease muffin pans (24 total muffins).

*Mix all dry ingredients (except for nuts).

*Mix wet ingredients and slowly add to dry ingredients. Stir thoroughly.

*Fill muffin cups 2/3-3/4 full.

*Bake for approximately 25 minutes.

*Enjoy delicious, scrumptious Apple Pumpkin Spice Muffins!

What are some of your Thanksgiving dessert staples? 

Farm Fresh Festival Promotes Healthy Lifestyle for Kids

This past weekend, my family and I had the pleasure of attending the first Farm Fresh Festival for Kids here in New York City. Held at South Street Seaport, the event was created to inspire healthy habits, featuring farm-to-table foods. The one-day celebration was the perfect way to usher in the new school year.

Organized by the Generation Fresh Foundation, Howard Hughes Corporation, Fresh Kids and a host of community volunteers, entertainers, authors and small business owners, the event was a smorgasbord of fun.

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Packed with tons of interactive and experiential discovery zones, kids were able to explore how their food is grown to actually making their very own healthy snacks. From small farm animals to hands-on cooking demos, children in attendance were treated to a ton of engaging activities that promoted a healthy and happy lifestyle. Throughout the space, children (and adults!) were able to snack on Fresh Kids pretzels, popcorn and veggie straws – my kids’ favorites.

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These tasty nibbles were GMO-free and contained no artificial coloring or flavors – making them a win-win. The event also offered a sports zone where kids were encouraged to get moving. Not only did the festival promote the importance of being healthy and active, it also cultivated kids emotionally. Through the Kindness Corner, children were able to write notes to sick hospital patients, allowing them to show compassion for others.

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Plus, the festival also served as a benefit to raise funds for non-profit organizations working in NYC to fight childhood obesity, hunger and poor nutrition.

My two little ones couldn’t get enough of petting the farm animals and playing games, but for me the highlight was meeting Haile Thomas, a bright young lady who is a health advocate for children. At just 15 years old, she’s also a vegan chef and founder of The Happy Organization, where she educates students about the importance of healthy eating and more.

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The all-day affair was surely one that my kids and I won’t soon forget. We walked away with awesome tips on healthy eating, quick-and-easy recipe ideas and a wealth of knowledge about brands and vendors that offer healthier snacking options.

With so many children being inactive and glued to their tablets and eating unhealthy snacks, the event was a reminder that we have to fuel our children with the proper nutrition they need to succeed.

How do you keep your kids active and excited to eat healthy foods?

Probiotics Keep Kids’ Tummies Happy

Now that school’s back in session, unfortunately those pesky germs that cling to kids are also making a comeback.

With classrooms being a cesspool for germs and viruses, it’s imperative that we moms protect our children as much as possible. The germ-ridden surfaces they encounter on a daily basis can wreak havoc on their immune systems. And reinforcing proper hand washing isn’t enough. Did you know that most sicknesses start in the gut? Yep, hand washing alone can’t prevent nasty bugs from entering their intestinal tract. That’s why we have to help build their systems from the inside—literally, in their tummies.

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Bio-Kidz Probiotic Supplement available here.

One of the best and easiest ways to do this is by introducing probiotics into their diet. Probiotics have many benefits namely, serving as a stomach’s first defense to keep bacteria from finding its way into vulnerable immune systems. They can also help heal the damage that bad bacteria can cause.

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And the really good news is that probiotics can be found in Bio-Kidz, a new beverage supplement that tastes good and protects tiny digestive systems. My daughter is a huge fan of the drinks and often asks for two at time. Available in a couple delicious flavors: strawberry and vanilla, the drinks are perfect for school lunch boxes and weekend playdates. Each bottle contains 12.5 billion bacteria – the good kind that will keep your child healthy and well all yearlong.

How do you keep your kids healthy during the school year?

GIVEAWAY: Baby Magic Products to Keep Baby Fresh & Clean

There are scents that just stay with you. New car, fresh baked cookies and newborn babies are the first to come to mind. For many, the latter is a smell that we moms wish could linger forever. Unfortunately, infants grow up and no longer possess that unique scent.

Until then, we can slather them in Baby Magic’s “Original Baby Scent” lotion – my favorite for after bath time. Somehow the legacy brand managed to bottle the elusive smell we moms crave and sold it to the masses. In fact, they’ve been in the business of making babies smell heavenly and clean since 1951! Oh, and course they accomplish this by infusing that fresh scent into many of their products including cleansers, shampoos and moisturizers.

Orgininal LotionBaby Magic Gentle Baby Lotion available here,  

No Rinse Wash

Baby Magic No-Rinse Wash click here for where to buy.

Soft Powder Scent Wash

Baby Magic Hair & Baby Wash click here for where to buy.

The heritage brand has been in homes for generations and has definitely been a part of my son’s life. Not only do the products have an addictive aroma, but they also get the job done—without causing any skin irritations.

There’s a reason why it’s been around so long, quality products and that fresh baby scent keeps families coming back!

In celebration of the brand’s 65th anniversary, I’m partnering with them for a giveaway. I’ll be giving away three of my all-time favorite products to a lucky winner.

Simply leave a comment below or tweet me @BrownGirlGumbo letting me know how you make bath time fun. The contest ends on 9/19/16 at 11:59 EST. The winner will be randomly selected and notified via email by 9/21/16.

How do you make bath time fun?

Giving Back this Back-to-School Season

If your child hasn’t already returned to class, the countdown to back-to-school is now in full swing.

Shopping for crayons, Post-It notes, pocket folders and everything else in between can be a fun experience for kids and parents alike. Unfortunately, not every family can afford to provide their child with the proper supplies needed to succeed at school.

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That’s why for the past 16 years, the Office Depot Foundation has been giving back-to-school sackpacks to those in need. Through the company’s National Backpack Program, colorful drawstrings bags are filled with basic essentials to ensure that all students have a thriving school year. Each one includes a zippered pouch containing a pen, pencil, pencil sharpener, eraser, six-inch ruler and four crayons. Plus, none of the sackpacks have any of the company’s branding or logos—an added bonus!

Since 2001, the program has donated over 4 million backpacks and sackpacks to children across the country. And they couldn’t be successful without other organizations’ assistance with getting the bags into the hands of students. This year, they’ve donated 200,000 sackpacks to nonprofit organizations, schools and agencies across the United States and internationally.

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When it comes to shopping for school and office supplies, we have many choices – but when we can support a business that gives back, it makes that choice less difficult.

Disclosure: I was given several sackpacks, which I plan to donate to my daughter’s school—hopefully helping a child in need.

For more information about the National Backpack Program, please visit the Office Depot Foundation’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/officedepotfoundation.

How do you give back during back-to-school season?