Memory Game


This memory game is personalized with your own family photos. Twelve photos available for upload. Available for $19.99 at pinholepress.com.

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.)














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














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














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.














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

Wanted to share a blog post I wrote for Chicago Parent on the 25 things I cannot accomplish while my children are awake. (Spoiler alert: It includes items such as sleeping and eating.) Anyone else’s life ruled by toddlers? Check out the full text here. I feel your pain!



Dinosaur Birthday Party

My son requested a dinosaur theme for his 4th birthday party. It was surprisingly easy (and pretty cheap, too, thanks to a little help from Oriental Trading.) Here’s the results, with some homemade elements and some off the shelf.

IMG_8492Green, orange and yellow just seemed like dinosaur colors to me, for no real reason.




Each kid at the party received a dinosaur tail sewn by my mom, and the birthday boy got a hoodie with dinosaur spikes as well. (The dinosaur boots are a part of his everyday flair.) Instructions for the tails can be found here. The only difference in our tails is that we cut spikes of different colors rather than having the spikes be all the same color. I just bought fat quarters from the fabric store and cut triangles for a few nights. The hoodie my mom improvised based on this inspiration from Etsy.

IMG_8490Dinosaur tracks in the kitchen.



Easy centerpieces. Just a $2 fern from Home Depot and a T-Rex (fished out of the bin of dinosaurs in the toy room.)

IMG_8495The make-your-own treat bag station. Bought the containers at Wal-Mart and affixed tiny dinos to the top. The dinosaur masks and toys are from Oriental Trading.


Volcano centerpiece. We used an upside down flower pot as a base, then used this formula. We painted it brown, then let the red drip down like lava, and put little dinos around it. All of the kids were obsessed with it.


Super easy dinosaur cut outs. I just searched on Google Images for suitable silhouettes and then cut them into colorful scrapbook paper.

IMG_8507Baby gate turned dinosaur paddock. Inflatables from Oriental Trading.

Fruit Solar System

It’s Science Fair season, and though my kids are too young for that yet, my toddler has been obsessed with the solar system lately. (“Let’s talk about planets, mommy.”) So we did a super easy (and delicious) craft — making a solar system out of fruit. I found the instructions here, and we created our own for lunch, with my son memorizing which fruit corresponded to which planet…before devouring the whole plate.

SolarSystemReadyHere is the guide that includes the names of the planets.

Solar System 4

Here’s our version — we used popcorn for our asteroid belt.

Solar System 1Enjoying the spoils!

If you want to stay in the science spirit with your little one, check out these five titles on Netflix.

1. Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius

2. Peep and the Big Wide World

3. Magic School Bus: All Dried Up

4. Animal Mechanicals

5. Wild Kratts



Basement Makeover

We bought a house that came complete with a retro, wood-paneled basement. We turned it into a playroom (on a pretty tight budget). The before and after shots are below, as are the step by step tips on how to turn a Brady Bunch basement into a crisp white playroom.


First up, tips on how to paint the paneling.

1.) Sand it to get the sheen off. This is messy — masks recommended. We used an electric sander on the main part of the paneling, and then hand-sanded into the grooves. It took a weekend to complete.

2.) Wash the walls down to remove the grit.

3.) Prime the walls using Kilz primer. This effectively covers the knots in the knotty pine and gives a surface for the paint to grip to. This step took us a weekend and some weeknights after the kids went to sleep.

4.) Paint the walls using semi-gloss white paint. This took two coats.

5.) After we finished the walls, they looked so fresh and white that the ceiling looked drab so we painted that as well.


Before and after view down the basement stairs.




Another before and after view. Totally de-knotty pined.



The curtains and window seat were created from cute sheets I found at Urban Outfitters. The shelves are IKEA, and the train table — the bargain of my life — was obtained for $25 at a kids consignment event.



We turned the nook into a reading spot and toy storage. The decals are from Etsy, the pillows are Marimekko, and the pads were covered by Urban Outfitters sheets.


We created toy bins in the seats by sewing canvas bags and velcro-ing them around the top so they can be removed and cleaned. 



The cockpit was created by my husband (the door behind it hides the sump pump, so we don’t need to access it).




Expedit shelving and Sophie the Giraffe should be issued upon a child’s birth alongside those blue and pink striped newborn blankets. The shelving and bins are Ikea; the couch is re-purposed from my parents house. The art along the back is homemade — a spaceman collage, ferris wheel and gumball light. The play table and rug are from the Land of Nod outlet in Naperville.


IMG_8251My husband had to create a door out of knotty pine so we could keep the kids out of the unfinished part of the basement. The result is here, complete with cat door.

And voila! A basement play room for some sweaty equity and a whole lotta white paint.

High Art


This post is a little off the beaten path for me, but these are just too great not to talk about. You know those banners that hang from streetlamp posts around the city to advertise museum exhibits? Well, a company called Betterwall saves them from the landfill and makes them available to the public for purchase.ow t

Granted, they are pricey ($325 to $745, on average) but would be a perfectly offbeat choice for an artsy teen’s bedroom. Browse the Chicago selection here.


Holiday Gift Guide

The Pinwheel Gift Guide has become something of a tradition around here, so without further ado, here is the guide for 2013—a roundup of kid-centric gifts from the best local and national sources. Enjoy and happy holidays!



Noah’s Ark play set, $64.95, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art Store.



Sock monkey hat, $25, at Maya Paya & Tony Macarony (1917 Central St, Evanston, 847-866-6292).



Story flashlight, $18, at Romp.


The Day the Crayons Quit, $17.99, at Amazon.com.



Pom pom tutu, $40, at Penny’s from Heaven (215 E Westminster Ave, Lake Forest, 847-735-7375).



T-Rex skid loader, $48, at FatBrainToys.com.



Creanimaux whimsical blocks, $64.99, at Moolka.com.



Modern dollhouse, $249, at The Land of Nod (900 W. North Ave., Chicago, 312-475-9903; Oakbrook Center, Oak Brook, 630-368-9990).



Bow tie bib, $17, at BabyGardner.com.

2.4 Porcelain 17Pc Tea Set for 4 Pink Basket


Pink basket tea set, $20, at Twinkle Twinkle Little One (2007 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, 773-472-3000).

Peppercorn Kids FEB 3, 2013 MODELS (22 of 64)


Peppercorn Kids diamond beanie hat, $18 and Fox scarf, $32, at Preggers Maternity (900 N Michigan Ave., Chicago, 312-943-6262).




Douglas, $45, at Monster Factory.



Retro Fisher-Price changeable disk camera, $19.99, at Building Blocks Toys (3306 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, 773-525-6200; 2130 W. Division St., Chicago, 773-235-1888).


Stack Up game designed for ages 3-5, $24.99, at Cat & Mouse Game Store (2212 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago, 773-384-4454).



Flatout Frankie dinosaur head — ready for your little one to decorate, $26 at Little Modern.



Three pack of vehicles, $9.99, at Ikea (1800 McConnor Pkwy., Schaumburg, 888-888-4532; 750 E. Boughton Rd., Bolingbrook,888-888-4532).

Sushi Set


Sushi set, $22, at The Kid’s Table (2237 W. North Ave., Chicago, 773-235-2665).



Hero tee, $26-$28, at Psychobaby (1657 W. Division St., Chicago, 773-772-2815).


Imaginext Bat Cave, $34.99, at Toys R Us.



Sparkle tiara, $19.50, at JCrew.



USA blocks, $98, at Anthropologie.



Story box circus, $24.99, at FatBrainToys.com.



Strawberry socks, $12, at Thumbeline.



Snap circuits light kit, $79.95, at National Geographic store.



Pop pups minis, $7.95 a piece, at the Museum of Contemporary Art (220 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago, 312-280-2660).



Kookooshka hats, $30, at Green Genes (5111 N Clark St, Chicago, 773-944-9250).

11MYOSG-Snow Globe-H(2)


Make-your-own snow globe, $28, at Barneys.com.



Sailing ship kite, $40, at A + R store.



Green Toys seaplane, $19.99, at Green Toys.



Chicago Baby board book, $8.95, at Little Threads (2033 W. Roscoe St., Chicago, 773-327-9310).



Spirograph deluxe kit, $24.99, at Toys R Us.



Goldie Blox and The Spinning Machine, $29.99, at Amazon.com.



Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel tee, $22, at OutofPrintClothing.com.

toys 4.tiff


Handmade walnut & cherry doll bed (which fits American Girl dolls), $175, at WoodenToy.com.

Chalkboard Table Runner


Sitting at the kids table just got even better. This chalkboard table runner measures 50′ long and 30″ wide and includes six pieces of chalk.  Available for $46 at Anthropologie.com.

Looking for a creative gift for a new parent? LuliBox, a company that launched in Brooklyn last year, is now making its way into the Chicago market. LuliBox is a toolkit of 10+ essentials for the first weeks home with baby, including Gerber snap tees, footed pajamas, an Aden + Anais wrap, diaper cream, baby socks and surprise gifts for mom, who can use a little attention in those baby frenzied first days.
The founder, Candice Richards, brainstormed the idea after her husband panic shopped at a baby store when they welcomed their first child. LuliBox takes the guesswork out of kitting out a house for the first six weeks home with a newborn and eliminates all the extraneous baby supplies that well-meaning but unsure new parents get snookered at baby superstores. (I’m looking at you, wipe warmers.) The price is $129 with free shipping.

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