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In the thick of summer, it’s hard to get the kids to slow down and indulge in anything educational. Ease them back into learning mode with some entertaining documentaries on Netflix.

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Walking With Dinosaurs is an obsession in this house (my 4-year-old spends most of his days wearing a dinosaur tail and dinosaur boots). This documentary reels the little one in with the promise of dinosaurs but packs a lot of information into each episode. This show is the reason my son tells the checkout woman at Target, “65 million years ago, dinosaurs roamed the Earth.”

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I have to admit that I actually enjoy watching The Magic School Bus myself. A trip to outer space? Submerged underwater? Yes, please. I love this little show for its combination of whimsy and education.

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The Blue Planet is a big hit around here, offering beautiful cinematography of ocean life and a pretty great soundtrack to boot. It has the added bonus of essentially hypnotizing my kids. Everyone screaming? Blue Planet, please. Sea life is soothing. For mom and the kids.

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Turtle: The Incredible Journey is a SeaWorld film tracking a loggerhead turtle from birth through the grown-up years. It fascinates kids with its portrayal of the life of a turtle, but also follows the obstacles in the way, many (most?) of which are human-made.

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All of the Leap Frog films are excellent for teaching young kids the basics in math, reading and other pre-school building blocks. My kids love them, and the educational quality means guilt-free time for mom.

Prince George turns one today. Is it a big deal in America? Who cares. He’s a cute baby, and a great excuse to celebrate a little British-inspired style.

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London Guard print, $20, available on Etsy.com.

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Sailor baby suit, $129, available at Luxaby Baby + Child.

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British flag pillow, $110, available at Jonathan Adler.

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Burberry boy trainers, $150, available at Burberry.

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London stamp set, $13, available at Branch Home.

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Set of four fox glasses, $19.95, available at Paper Source.

 

 

Sales This Week

Get ready for some serious sidewalk sales this weekend!

Park Ridge newcomer Belle + Beau (40 N. Northwest Hwy., Park Ridge, 847-696-7684) hosts a Taste of Park Ridge Sidewalk Sale from Thursday, July 10th through Saturday, July 12th. Also, during the month of July, use this coupon to take $100 off any stroller. (Great deal for expectant moms!)

The Roscoe Village Burger Fest and Annual Sidewalk Sale is this weekend. Fixture (2108 W. Roscoe St., Chicago, 773-244-3100) will have $1 and $5 tables as well as a 50 to 90 percent off table, and The Denim Lounge (2039 W. Rosceo St., Chicago, 773-935-2820) offers 40 to 90 percent off men’s, women’s and kid’s clothing.

Central Street in Evanston hosts its own Summer Sidewalk Sale from Thursday, July 10 through Sunday, July 13. Maya Papaya & Tony Macarony (1901 Central St., Evanston, 847-866-6292) in particular is offering huge savings on spring and summer apparel, plus 30 percent off Melissa & Doug toys.

Hinsdale hosts a two-day Sidewalk Sale on Friday and Saturday, July 11 and 12, including kid’s shop My Sister Kate (48 S. Washington St., Hinsdale).

Downtown Naperville holds a Summer Sizzlin’ Sidewalk Sale from Thursday, July 10 through Saturday, July 12.

 

 

Surrealism Junior

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Check out this 3-D cut-out sculpture set, with a Surrealist bent. Inspired by the work of  Miró, the set includes bendable wires to connect the pieces and add interest. Recommended for ages 6 and over; available for $15.95 at the Museum of Contemporary Art store.

 

 

I’ve been using the The Honest Company products for a little less than a year. I wanted to move to more green cleaning supplies, and I love home delivery, so I signed up for the monthly essentials package.

The experience has been a mixed bag. I was super annoyed by their treatment of The Honest Toddler blog, and the products have been a mixed bag. The personal care products such as the bubble bath, hand sanitizer and kid’s toothpaste have worked very well. I recommend all of those.

Not so much on the cleaning side though. The laundry detergent, dish soap, floor cleaner and multi-surface cleaner may be environmentally friendly, but they aren’t great at, you know—cleaning. The floor cleaner in particular left a sticky residue that had to be undone with other cleaners. Frankly, cleaning with vinegar has been more effective and much cheaper.

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There always seems to be a last minute need for a 4th of July craft. There’s a parade, a party, a burning urge to dress as the Statue of Liberty. We’ve all been there. Here’s a simple and adorable step-by-step guide for a Statue of Liberty costume, courtesy of spoonful.com.

Pod Planter

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Whimsical planter gets kids excited about a green thumb. Available for $19 at Urban Outfitters; plant not included.

A Classy Swing

 

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I love this rattan hanging chair from Anthropologie. If you’ve got the right beams, this could be a quirky addition to any kid’s bedroom or playroom. Available for $498 from Anthropologie; allow 3-4 weeks for delivery.

Sales This Week

The Red Balloon Co. (877-969-9800) is hosting its summer warehouse sale at 653 W. Armitage Avenue on Thursday, June 19th and Friday, June 20th from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, June 21st from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, June 22nd from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. with discounts on Zutano, Stella, Petit Lem, Charlie Rocket and more. (No strollers allowed when the space is crowded.)

Building Blocks Toys is hosting A Day Out With Thomas fan party with face painting, balloons, giveaways, and 15 percent off all trains, tracks and accessories. (Day Out with Thomas tickets will also be available, without online service charges.) The party is Saturday, June 21st at the Wicker Park location (2130 W. Division Street) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturday, June 28th at the Lakeview location (3306 N. Lincoln Avenue) from 10 a.m to 2 p.m.

Open Books (213 W. Institute Pl., Chicago, 312-475-1355) is offering 50 percent off all used books on Saturday, June 21st and Sunday June 22nd from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Stop by Pilsen this weekend for the Renegade Craft Fair Mini Market, with wares from 80 indie crafters. The sale runs Saturday, June 21st and Sunday, June 22nd from noon to 6 p.m. at 2233 South Throop Street.

Netflix Is For Moms

The Netflix Steam Team is all about moms this month, so forget those kiddie shows and kick back to explore some titles of your9597346 Unknown own. Put the kids to bed, make some popcorn and catch up on TV shows that are just for mom. Here’s a list of suggestions that are worth exploring. (I have a tradition of re-watching Arrested Development and 30 Rock, every time I have a newborn to nurse. They get nutrition; I get entertained. Everybody wins.)

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You know what makes life with toddlers look pretty good? A show about prison. The second season debuted June 6th.

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Mystery. British accents. A dude named Benedict Cumberbatch. What more could you need?

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This fantastic show is set in 1950s London and follows the lives of the midwives who service the area residents. It’s heartwarming, sweet and usually ends upbeat.

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The best show about high school, ever. Maybe the best show ever period.

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