NPR wants you to vote for Mommy Poppins***

Occasionally I get into a radio mode and I tune in to NPR. Somehow I always seem to tune in when they are having a pledge drive. So I've basically been listening to non-stop pledge driving for the last couple days and it's inspired me (or brain-washed me) into action.

Here's the skinny: Mommy Poppins has been nominated as the best local blog in NYC in the Parents Connect Parents Picks contest. (Cool) But we're not actually in the lead. (Bummer) But it would be kinda cool to win it 'cause I think we are the best local kids blog, don't you? So here's my NPR-style pitch (read below in best Brian Lehrer voice):

15 Festivals for this Weekend with Kids in New York (Mostly Free)

Summer in New York City means festivals and this summer the city isn't wasting any time jumping head-long right into the festivals. There are over 15 festivals for NYC families going on just this weekend. There are arts festivals, a fish parade, an Italian extravaganza, a pooch parade and bike parade and more than one Strawberry Festival. (So, if a big festival is a"palooza" does that make this weekend a "palooza-palooza"?) Of course, don't forget the summer music festival season has started too. So go get paloozapaloozing. 

Another New York Beach: The Beaches of Staten Island, That Is

With all the tall buildings, noise and traffic, it is easy to forget that New York is really just made up of a bunch of islands, with swimable beaches all around. When you think bout Staten Island, your first thought may not be "beach", but Staten Island is home to many beaches, which are close-by, reachable by public transportation, and free ways to escape the buildings, fast-walkers and chaos of everyday life, without heading to the Garden State. Find out some of the best Staten Island Beaches below.

Shop Local at a New York Flea Market or Craft Fair

Why buy locally? Well, it ensures good independent businesses are here for the long run; it’s beneficial for the environment; and you can get some pretty cool one-of-a-kind items. Finally, these businesses provide excellent learning opportunities: Use shopping trips as a way to educate your child about how local companies operate. If you're already buying locally, take it a step further by increasing the products you purchase. You'll be surprised at how many fine items are made right here in New York City.

One way to shop locally is to visit the flea markets and craft fairs where local artisans and retailers often sell their wares. Brooklyn seems to be the epi-center of these markets now. Below are some of the best markets to buy locally, plus, surprisingly, an online source for local shopping as well.

Hanami Photo Contest Slideshow and Winner

The cherry blossoms have faded, but we're still enjoying their beauty thanks to the all the wonderful entries we got to the Kids of Hanami Photo Contest we ran with the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It took us a little longer than expected to get all the entries together and pick a winner, but we finally have it done and are happy to share them with you.

Even if you didn't enter, you're going to want to watch the slideshow. The photos are beautiful (both the flowers and the adorable kids). Click through to see the slideshow and our winning picture.

Free NYC Weekend Events for Kids May 29-31: Biking, Family Festivals, Sushi Samplings, Concerts and More!

It seems as if we have been in a rain spell for weeks. But this weekend it's going to be sunny and over 70, perfect weather to hop on a free, rented bike (or the one you own) and hit the ground spinning or, if you prefer two feet to two wheels, try some street fairs, family festivals, sushi and other Japanese cuisine samples (as well as concerts), burlesque shows for moms (what?, that's right) and the opening of Governor's Island. Memorial Day was last weekend--it's time to start celebrating summer! And NYC is full of activities to get you started.

Summer Reading List: 5 Great Books for Kids

We have a guest post today from Jay Bushara who has started a new website dedicated to discovering and celebrating the very best children's books, ones that ar hard to find at big box bookstores. Find out about his site and some of his picks for the best children's books this summer. Thanks, Jay!

Children’s picture books are often useful, sometimes glorious, and they are everywhere, the stuff left over from growing up and moving on, proverbial needles in the hay.

Too often we settle for the hay. This is understandable. Still, new parents in particular are likely to be become disenchanted if they go looking for the magic of children’s literature amid the piles and glittery profiles of Hannah Montana biographies and Dora & Diego tie-ins and those books by Madonna where none of the characters have noses - what the heck happened to their noses? Consider, also, books deriving from major motion pictures. What is it these books are meant to accomplish, except, of course, Encourage Reading? Why would anyone choose to look at a photograph of Darth Vader if they can listen to James Earl Jones and that creepy respirator whenever they want with a monthly subscription to Netflix?

Bike Riding in New York City: Rides, Rentals and Resources

Bicycling is having a real renaissance in New York City. We're seeing more bike paths and more nice places to bike, plus more resources and programs to make biking easier, more affordable and fun. Find out below some of the best resources for New York City Bikers from the best places to bike with kids, where to get New York City bike maps, bike rentals, free bikes to borrow and more.

New on Mommy Poppins: Summer Activity Guide

While the calendar may say Summer starts in late June, in New York the first step toward Summer is Memorial Day. Public swimming pools may not open until June 27th, but there are plenty of other ways to get wet, like boat rides, water parks, beaches and playground sprinklers. Our Summer Fun Guide also has great ideas for outings, itineraries, and places to explore nature, plus sports programs and even day trips from New York City.

Check out our Summer Activity Guide for all this and more.

Memorial Day Weekend Getaways: Be a Non-Touristy Tourist in New York City

Not going away is the new black. But just because you're staying home doesn't mean you can't have a mini vacation. After all, you're already in the greatest destination on Earth. And just cause you're vacationing in New York doesn't mean you have to act like a tourist. Here are 5 off-the-beaten path ideas of things to do this Memorial Day Weekend that give you the getaway feeling, right here in the city. You can explore different cultures, go back in time, and feel like you're far out of the city, without leaving, and it's mostly all free.

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