Filtering by Category: An Honest Steal

My Kids Favorite Apps

I've been so caught up with work that I put my Pesach travels completely on the back burner. I literally didn't even go back to the flight reservation email to check what time of the day we're flying - until after I finished my last Babyccino class on Monday afternoon and fully finished the Babyccino "Spring!" curriculum (which is live and available for purchase if anyone new is interested). I can't really multi-task well these days, and I seem to function much much better when I only focus on one thing at a time. So! This morning I woke up completely psyched for our imminent trip to my family in Skokie! Aside from my parents and my brother Moshe (who has been my right hand man in the Babyccino office deptartment!!), my sister Shterni and her family are coming (cousins!), as well as my hipster brother and his awesomest preschool-teaching wife, plus my fabulous newest-married sister with her boy beau. I'm SO looking forward to getting away, checking out (work/life wise), and spending heaps of quality time with my family. This morning I started packing up the girls clothes, and organizing our in-flight entertainment plan. Aside from buying a couple novelty coloring books, a slew of stickers, and some small-fare games and gimmicks, I dug up my old iPhone and restored it to factory settings. I cleared it up of all the regular icons, loaded it with my girls favorite apps, plus a bunch of new ones to try, and left the camera on there for Freida to explore with photography over this trip. She's going to be so excited at the prospect of having her own "phone" (it's really no more than an iPod touch) for the trip that I think we should be pretty set for the 4 hour flight. Anyways, lots of you have been asking for good kids apps to download before hitting the road, and I figured I'd share our top 4 favorites here. The interesting thing about these 4 apps is that both my 2 year old and my 5 year old LOVE these. Enjoy! 1. Endless Alphabet $6.99

This letter recognition app is, by a long shot, THE best app out there for toddlers. The adorable graphics + the genius phonics-teaching method is preschool gold. Not to mention the animated short it shows for the definition of every word! The words are truly endless and I have even upped my vocab from eavesdropping on Freida's playtime (gargantuan, anyone?). Also, I find it completely mind blowing that Hudi has learned all her phonics from this app. She doesn't know the whole alphabet, but can point to any letter and make the correct sound!! This is totally worth the whole $7. Promise.

endless alphabet app

2. Toca House $3.99

Help the quirky Toca characters with chores around the house. Sort the family mail, mow the lawn, wash the windows... you get the idea. Awesome graphics and great sound effects make this app super-fun to play and non-obnoxious as backround noise. Your kids will love it.

toca house app

3. Drawnimal $1.99

This interactive artist app has fast become a family favorite. And for a while when I was sleep training Hudi last year, this was the activity I would set Freida up with after bath each evening. We upped the ante and made it even more fun by implementing a little lap whiteboard (the kind for practicing letter, $1 aisle in Target) and a dry erase crayon + eraser. The concept of using the device as an art component is wild, and the animations are adorable, to boot!

drawnimal app

4. The Very Hungry Caterpillar & Friends - Play & Explore $3.99

This 3-D popup storybook features the most beautiful and whimsical of illustrations. This app is so well done, and the story-telling narration helps walk the kids through how to play and what to do. And somehow that makes it just interactive enough for them to play with it longer than other apps. Plus, the activities are relatively educational.

very hungry caterpillar app

P.S. Don't forget about Fiete for the toddlers!


Maid Easier

maid easier magnets I have a friend here in LA who actually went to college. And graduated. With a Masters. She speaks a really good Spanish, and many of us had been hitting her up endlessly as our English - Spanish translator. I for one have a really difficult time conversing with my cleaning help. It's a bit shameful, really. Not speaking Spanish in LA is really not cool, and I definitely want to make sure my kids grow up with enough of a Spanish grasp. It's just much simpler to live here and be able to communicate with everyone easily. Our automated phone services now say "for English press 1"!! Anyways, my friend was getting tired of answering the many texts (How do I say 'wash the windows'/'put in the casserole'/'throw out old food from fridge'?) and had an impromptu little epiphany to create Spanish/English magnets specifically geared toward house help!

Enter Maid Easier. The most helpful $10 you will spend this year. I used to wait for my cleaning girl to come in the morning just so that I could be there to explain to her what I needed done that day. These little magnets have completely saved my sanity! I put my every week basic tasks up on the fridge, and rummage through the little tin container to put up the other tasks I want her to do that day, before I hightail out the door Thursday morning. It's been insanely easy! And my home has never been cleaner. (I've definitely come a long way since my very first cleaning lady!) You can buy Maid Easier magnets on Amazon, and start stressing less about your cleaning lingo.

Side note: the tin itself is not a magnet. I just found the easiest place to keep it was right there on the fridge, so I slapped a little square of adhesive magnet paper to the back of it, and voila.

maid easier magnets

Fun with Fiete

Since my initiation into modern adulthood, I've discovered some simply fabulous apps that have slightly changed my mind about things. It's taken some time to sift through the junk and come out with some treasures, so while I already did the dirty work, I figure I'll share the bottom line goodies with you! Starting with one for the kids: childrens app: fiete

Fiete is an adorably illustrated interactive story board, inviting pudgy little fingers to try their hand at helping this friendly european sailor, Fiete, with his basic tasks: putting on his reading glasses to read the paper, fry his morning eggs, load cargo onto the ship, fix the tires on his car, etc. There are 16 different interactive scenes, including different levels of the sweetest matching game you'll ever find.

children's app fiete

I originally bought this app for Freida, but it's Hudi who's been adoring it! She loves figuring out just how to put the sunflower seed into the planter pot, is obsessed with giving the ladybug back her spots,  and cracks up when she uses the needle to pop his balloon! It's a perfect app for babies and toddlers, and the best part is the peaceful mellow backround music - something you don't find very often - this app won't make you want to pull your hair out. : )

childrens app fiete

It is the most beautiful children's app I've ever come across, and the charming little nuances and wonderfully well-done sound effects make this my very favorite app at the moment. Believe me, it's well worth $3 - perfect for lazy Sunday mornings in bed.

childrens app fiete

One Last Summer Scoop

best ice cream scooper So! The end of August is a little lad to be sharing Summer tips, but I've only just discovered the very best ice cream scooper EVER. And I figured I'd share the joy of deliciously delectably just-soft-enough scoops of summer-y goodness, for you to savor the last little bits of the ice cream season.

best ice cream scoop

You may have heard of the $20 Zeroll ice cream scoop. Well, this is it's knockoff. And while I feel bad for the awesome folks at Zeroll for coming up with the most genius ice cream invention since the waffle cone only to have it ripped off and sold for under 5 bucks, I'm happier that someone actually did knock it off and bring perfect scoops of ice cream to the masses. The idea is this: the scooper is made of cast aluminum and is filled with self-defrosting fluid in the handle. Just by holding the handle, you're warming up the liquid and when you turn it upside down to scoop... well, the proof is in the pudding ice cream.

best ice cream scoop

We've been eating way too many ice cream cones around here since I bought this amazing little kitchen gadget! It may just be the best $5 you'll ever spend. Get one here.

best ice cream scoop

best ice cream scoop

2 more things:

Book Report: A Sick Day for Amos McGee

a sick day for amos mcgee Freida was home sick a few weeks ago, as seems to be our family's summer tradition - an impromptu sick week in the middle of July. Hudi was sniffly and teeth-y, and Freida was coughing and sneezing. So along with amped-up doses of Vitamin C, meticulously hidden shots of liquid Echinacea, and a pocket-full of Ricola throat drops, came the UPS man with our favorite monthly delivery: PJ Library books! And as fate would have it, one of my favorite library books landed with a thump on our doorstep.

I don't quite know why I have long adored A Sick Day for Amos McGee, by Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead. Maybe because I love cute little old men, or because the illustrations are so quirky, or because the writer and illustrator are married (how sweet?). It's a beautiful book, with a really kind and simple message, and apparently I'm not the only one who loves it; this book won the 2011 Caldecott Medal. AND it's the first book Erin Stead has illustrated! Can you imagine? The Caldecott on her very first book?? Nice.

a sick day for amos mcgee

The book tells the story of a friendly zookeeper who spends his day taking care of various animals. He plays chess with the elephant, and runs races with the tortoise. But one morning he wakes with the sniffles and the chills and can't go into work. So his friends decide to come check in on him. They wait for the bus and ride over to Amos' home, and take care of him for a change. It's the simplest story of visiting the sick, and is told in the sweetest most unique way.

a sick day for amos mcgee

I suppose the mitzvah behind it is what made it PJ Library-worthy, but my curiosity on that matter led me to google the Steads... (That's where I learnt about the Caldecott.) If your curious too, read about how she heard about the big win here. One of my longtime dreams has been to write and illustrate a children's book, and I found the interview fascinating! Especially this part:

But winning the award for a collaboration with her husband has made the honor even sweeter. “We work together all day long, every day. We’re each other’s first pass. It would be really different if we didn’t win this as a team.”

a sick day for amos mcgee


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