eBeanstalk Toy Store: The Gifts that Keep on Coming

Sometimes I look around at my kids' toys and wish we only had the really great ones, you know. Why do we have so many toys that are just junk? How do we get them? Why do we keep them?!

That's what I think whenever I go to sites like eBeanstalk.com, a toy site that only sells the good stuff. Toys are selected by child development experts and tested by real parents and kids and helpfully categorized by child's age, developmental stage and skills. None of that is that unusual, but eBeanstalk has another unique twist.

Lunch Box Ideas: Kids' Lunches Made Easier

I wonder how the Iron Chef would do with school lunches. "Okay, you've got ten minutes to make a healthy, fun, kid-friendly lunch that my child can eat in 15 minutes and you can only use what's in my fridge. Go!" Now that's a food challenge - the one parents face every weekday morning. Whether their kids are in day care or school a nutritious lunch must be provided one way or another.

On the surface it seems pretty simple. Slap together a sandwich, toss in a juice box and some string cheese. Done. It's the every morning thing that makes it so ornery. Whether it's because I'm running late, I've run out of bread or run out of ideas, there are definitely more days than I'd like to admit that I've been so desperate I've come scarily close to sending my child to school with a Happy Meal.

As is our wont, Mommy Poppins has scoured the known universe for resources, services, tips and ideas to help NYC parents make making lunches for school easier.

153 preschools you don't have to call on Sept. 4

It's pretty much generally accepted knowledge that to get your toddler into preschool in NYC one has to sit on the phone with her fingers hovering over the redial button on the day after Labor Day in order to be one of the lucky few who will receive an application - forget about getting accepted.

While it's true that there are a handful of schools that really do seem to put their prospective parents through this absurd torture, for the most part this whole story is a big myth. I'm not saying that getting into preschool in NYC is easy (actually it can be), but there is absolutely no reason why schools should make parents do this and very few still do.

Best of the Back to School Guides

As Seen at Cool Mom PicksI culled through the blogosphere looking for the best back to school guides and bring you the best of 2007 blogging back to school guides. Here's where you'll find the best of what kids going to school need in NYC and beyond.

Best Style: Cool Mom Picks wins hands down for having the coolest, well, mom picks for school this year. Fun fashion, back packs, lunch boxes, school supplies, and a little something for mommy too. This is the list to send your kids back to school in style.

Most Informative: Download a comprehensive guide to getting through the school year with tips on everything from healthy snacks to dealing with bullies at Healthy Perspectives. There's a lot of this kind of information out there, but this 36 page well-organized document seems good and tackles unusual but real issues, like what if you don't like your kid's teacher.

The Greens: Environmentalism is all the rage now. This is supported by the fact that several of the back to school guides I found were "green guides." The guide at Green Moms, the iVillage Green Back to School Picks, and the Green Back to School Guide are not all that different from each other and I would be hard-pressed to pick one out as the best, so here's a run-down of what I took away:

Labor Day Weekend: Wrap Summer Up at 5 NY Fairs

Labor Day Weekend is the last weekend of the summer for NYC kids. Time for one last fling with fun. One last chance to lose yourself to the joys of summer. Labor Day Weekend is also the time for The Fair.

Just a short drive from NYC families can find themselves in 4H country. State and county fairs boast agricultural exhibits where farm kids compete for the best rabbits, chickens, goats, pigs, cows, crafts and more. It's a wonderful view into a completely different type of childhood experience, not to mention a great big petting zoo.

After the jump, a run-down of the state, county and other fairs in the area this weekend. Plus find out how any NYC child can participate in the county fair experience right here in NYC.

You Deserve a Break Today at Mommy Poppins: Win a Night Out

You may have noticed a new addition to the sidebar on Mommy Poppins last week. College Nannies and Tutors is running an ad on this site and offering a great deal exclusively to Mommy Poppins readers - and just in time for The Great Fall Baby Sitter Shuffle too. Even I am looking for a new baby sitter as my son goes off to elementary school for the first time and we will cut back to part time care. But I digress.

College Nannies and Tutors is holding a contest for one free "date night" coverage. That's five hours of baby sitting at no charge with one of their trained professional nannies. Free babysitting and a night out just with grown-ups - I know that's something that every one of us could use.

To enter just click on the ad and a new email window should open up. Just add your name, location and children's ages and hit send. The drawing will be held at the end of the month.

Have Parenting Podcasts Jumped the Shark?

Last week the iTunes store did a spotlight on Parenting Podcasts. Since then, I've been trying to decide if that meant that parenting has become cooler or if podcasting has become less cool. After long, hard philosophical soul-searching I've decided...the answer is both. (That was productive.)

Kaboost Portable Chair Booster Gives Booster Seats the Boot

There are certain products that come out that almost make me wish I had a baby again so that I could use them (A couple of minutes of thinking about a sweet baby quickly turn to the reality and I become sane again). The Kaboost portable chair booster is one of them. This cool, new, ingeniously-designed booster seat alternative would not only have made my life a lot easier with my booster seat refusing son, but is just a neat looking piece of furniture.


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