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Poncho, a personalized weather service, is now available in Chicago. The hoodie-clad cat offers tailored forecasts through text, email or both, based on your personal preferences.

Sign up for the free service and enter your zip code and answer a few questions like what time you wake up, how you commute, whether you have allergies or whether you want to know how the weather will affect your hair. So the benefit of the service, with all due respect to the venerable Tom Skilling, is that it doesn’t break down the humidity index or show weather fronts, it just tells you if you need a jacket and whether your hair is going to frizz out.

Visit http://poncho.is to subscribe.

 

After age 21, milestones become fewer and farther between. But kids have milestones all the time — first days of school, first pet, first junior high dance — not to mention any other moment that a young child chooses to lend their unbridled enthusiasm. (First peanut butter and cheese sandwich! First time wearing underwear as a hat!) Celebrate these mini-milestones with your child through the movie and TV episodes that highlight these firsts.

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New SiblingThe Hive: Babee’s Room 

This cute episode celebrates the birth of a new sister! It helps very young kids understand what this whole new sibling business is all about.

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Losing Your First ToothSuper WHY: S01E10, The Story of the Tooth Fairy 

I love Super Why. It’s such a smart show and this tooth fairy episode has a sense of whimsy with the usual Super Why educational spin.

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Getting GlassesArthur: S15E09, Through the Looking Glasses 

Can you imagine Arthur without his glasses? See the origin of his signature look.

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First PetBeethoven

A Saint Bernard wreaks havoc on a family’s life, much as a new puppy does to anyone. Here’s a good celebration of a first pet (or maybe a good discouragement to kids who won’t stop asking!)

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First Spelling BeeAkeelah and the Bee

This is such a sweet story about a little girl who makes her way to the spelling bee through perseverance, mentorship and pluck.

 

And not to leave mom and dad out…here’s a few on theme episodes and movies to watch after the kids go to bed.

 

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Getting Married: Four Weddings and a Funeral

This classic movie celebrates marriage, relationships and Hugh Grant. What’s not to love?

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Having a Baby: Away We Go

In my opinion, the best pregnancy movie ever made, perfectly capturing the excitement and uncertainty of a baby on the way.

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Life as a Parent: Parenthood

This show can get maudlin at times, but I can’t stop watching nonetheless.

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First Job: The Office

A perfect encapsulation of workplace life.

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Running for Office: Parks and Recreation

Sure, not everyone hits this milestone but the show is worth the excuse to watch it. Not only for comedy genius Amy Poehler, but for Ron Swanson, one of the best TV characters of the last 10 years.

House Hunters_EN_US_571x800Buying a house: House Hunters

Oh, who can get enough of House Hunters and the prospective buyers complaining about paint color and praising crown moulding?

 

Sales This Week

The new location of Cat & Mouse Game Store (1112 W. Madison St., Chicago, 312-465-2178) is hosting a grand opening event with games, raffles & other fun activities on Saturday, Oct. 25th from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 26th from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Activities include game demonstrations, an in-store scavenger hunt, and more.

 

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Chicago-based Sittercity, the online portal that matches parents with caregivers, has launched a new service called Date Night Now. It’s a more on demand service than Sittercity, so parents can schedule a night out and leave the kids in the care of a vetted sitter. I found my wonderful weekday babysitter on Sittercity, and so I was excited to try the new site, which was created in response to requests from parents who were hoping for a more immediate way to find a sitter, without a membership fee or a commitment of part-time or nanny hours.

Here’s how it works: Log onto  Date Night Now, (no fee required), and choose a date to go out. Friday and Saturday nights are available three weeks out, suitable both for parents who plan ahead and those who decide on a Thursday night that they just have to get out of the house on Saturday night. Then view the profiles of the sitters who have availability on the chosen night. All of the sitters have been interviewed, vetted and specifically chosen for this program by Sittercity. You then choose your favorite and get in touch via email. (Phone interviews can also be set up before booking.)

I tested the program this past weekend, and it was seamless. The sitter was responsible, sweet and did a great job accommodating my  4-year-old’s decision that he wanted rice and blueberries to supplement his dinner. The best part, of course, was that my husband and I got to go to our first movie together in at least a year (Gone Girl–highly recommend) knowing that our kids were well cared for and we could just relax. We came home to two sleeping kids, and a studious sitter doing homework on the couch. It was the best.

The cost is $55 for four hours, $13 for additional hours beyond that (fees for additional children may apply), and you pay the sitter directly. The service is currently only available on the North Side of Chicago, so anyone outside that radius has to wait for now, but there are plans to expand as it gets underway.

Use promo code PINWHEEL15 to receive $15 off your first date night!

 

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I hate cleaning. It’s my most dreaded chore. But NYC cleaning company MyClean has landed in Chicago, just in time to outsource a pre-holiday sprucing.

I’m hosting a giveaway of free MyClean home cleaning services to three winners, plus a special $50 discount for all readers to use on their first MyClean. Winners receive a free clean regardless of the size of your house, but must be residents of the city of Chicago. (Sorry, no service to the suburbs yet!)

Here are some benefits of the service:

  • MyClean’s convenient and easy to use website allows you to book and pay for appointments in seconds.
  • You can get instant price quotes, schedule and securely pay for appointments online, and even leave specific cleaning instructions for your maid.
  • Unlike many cleaning companies that hire independent contractors, MyClean professionals are full-time employees of the company and are all insured, bonded, and background checked so you can trust having the cleaner in your home.
  • Cleaners show up to the job with eco-friendly cleaning products, unlike other companies that require customers to provide their own cleaning supplies.
  • MyClean cleaners clean by a 50 point checklist, so you can ensure that they get everything done. MyClean has a 200% happiness guarantee meaning that if you are not completely satisfied, they will re-clean for free.

Enter by emailing pinwheelchicago@gmail.com with the subject line “MYCLEAN” by Oct. 31st to enter. And all readers can receive $50 off their first clean anytime — just visit MyClean.com and book an appointment with promo code PinWheel50. 

Sales This Week

There aren’t many small businesses, let alone local shops, that can boast being in business for 18 years. Congratulations to the excellent Building Blocks Toy Store (3306 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, 773-525-6200; 2130 W. Division St., Chicago, 773-235-1888), which is celebrating its anniversary by offering 20 percent off everything in stock from Friday, Oct. 17th through Sunday, Oct. 19th.

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Northbrook-based Deco-Plate.com combines playful designs with a new plastic resin technology that is microwave, dishwasher and oven safe, BPA-free and made in the USA. (The design is also free of formaldehyde, which is used in melamine.) The plates are substantial rather than flimsy, and very break-resistant, a theory that both my sons put to the test.

But beyond the practical considerations is the fact that each plate and platter can be customized. Either choose a pre-existing design or upload photos, text, or any other design of your choosing, through an intuitive, easy-to-use interface. For instance, a birthday plate with your child’s photo and name or a design with their name and birth date customized inside of it. Enjoy!

 

Every new mom struggles with compiling a registry. Huggies Little Snugglers partnered with Lindsay Pinchuk, founder & CEO of Bump Club, to provide Baby Registry 101, covering diapers and wipes to car seats.

A recent survey by Huggies Little Snugglers found nearly 75% of new moms anticipate changing less than 2,500 diapers in the baby’s first year, but the reality is the average mom will change more than 3,500. Before I share Lindsay’s tips, enter to win a pack of new Huggies Little Snugglers and Natural Care Wipes because who doesn’t want free diapers? Enter by Oct. 20th by emailing pinwheelchicago@gmail.com with the subject “Diaper Giveaway.”

And Huggies doesn’t stop the love there. If there’s something you really want but could never ask for on your registry (like a vacation or a year supply of diapers), submit it at Huggies.com/registerwish for a chance to see it come true.

To check out Pinchuk’s comprehensive registry recommendation list with links to products, click Registry Must Have. Enjoy!

 

Confetti Pop

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The kids will love it, even if mom, dad and the vacuum are less enthused. Just push, old-school push pop style, and watch the confetti fly. Available for $10 at UrbanOutfitters.com.

Getting Into Animation

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How cool is this? This stop motion animation kit includes easy to manipulate figures, camera and stop-motion software that’s easy enough for a 6-year-old to use. (Includes 101 pieces though, so keep away from toddlers and anyone else who enjoys swallowing plastic.) Available for $70 at UncommonGoods.com.

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