Thursday, February 16, 2012

Blissdom, Ending Child Hunger and Blogger Resources

A week from today I'll be in Nashville, TN attending my third Blissdom conference. This great gathering of mombloggers is always fun and informative. Having spoken on brand/blogger relations in the past, this year I'm pleased to be a community leader. This means I'll be facilitating small group discussions and helping participants clarify their personal take-aways from the larger group sessions.

Alli Worthington, Barbara Jones, Paula Bruno and their ever-expanding team really mixed it up their year with the conference format and I have high hopes for how it will play out.

I also have high hopes for the efforts of my client, ConAgra Foods, as a sponsor of this year's event. This year they'll not only be highlighting the company's efforts to fight child hunger, but Blissdom attendees will be invited to join in and bring hope to the fight against child hunger. We'll all have the chance to take action on this important issue.

Another way bloggers can connect with ConAgra Foods is through their blogger resource site, The Dish. The Dish serves up recipes, food trends, and insights from ConAgra insiders. Bloggers can also sign up for First Look, First Taste to get the inside scoop on the latest and greatest products. Have you joined yet?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I Spawned a Creeper

I'm a little early for Wordless Wednesday, but here goes. I spawned a creeper:

Are your kids into Minecraft?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Fun Finds From the Chicago Toy and Game Fair

Yeah, I know what you're thinking, "Wasn't #ChiTag last year?" Yes, but by waiting a couple of months to post, I've separate the wheat from the chafe, so to speak. Also, it means I've unpacked enough from the move to find my notes from ChiTag.

I've attended this show twice as a media guest. The show has grow both in size and liveliness since I first attended (in 2009?); it gets better each year.

A treasured ChiTag tradition is the Young Inventor's Challenge. If you have a creative child who loves games, mark your calendars. The 2012 YIC will open for submissions in March.

Here are my favorites:

Telestrations. I heard a bit of buzz about this prior to ChiTag, but, honestly it sounded dumb to me. The name, I mean, was off-putting. It turns out the game is actually a barrel of laughs. It's part Balderdash and part Pictionary and all fun!
Note: I was given a Telestrations game for my family.

BrickStix A brilliant idea dreamed up by a young boy who wanted to take his Lego creations to a new level, these removable, reusable cling decals are compatible with most smooth plastic bricks. For around $6, your child can get a set of 40-80 "stickers." I bought a zombie pack for my son, who is still waiting for just the right occasion to use them.

Whomp Charmz Poised to become the next Sillybandz, these cute, colorful rubbery charms are also erasers. They can connect to the aforementioned bandz or clip on to laces, ear bud cords, computer cables and such. I don't recall the price, but it was reasonable for a pack of 8. I almost bought these for my son, you know, so he could be a trendsetter and all, but then I remembered the 236 silly bandz he has scattered around his bedroom and figured I'd let someone else's child have the spotlight.

Cool stuff that was too "girly" for my house (which simply means my boys would not like it, perhaps your boys would):

Artterro They make eco-minded artsy journal kits, creativity kits, DIY doll kits and more.

Created by a local mom, Poofins are soft, star-shaped pillows with a special pocket inside to hold Poofin charms, mini pillows with drawings or photos of things of significance to the owner. A charm might have an image of a baseball bat or a photo of a special friend or pet. It's a comfort object that be used to build a child's sense or simply something to cuddle with. I admit my boys might have been into this concept as toddlers or preschoolers, but they likely would have passed on the charms in favor of Match Box cars and superballs.

What is your family's favorite new game?

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The Houdini Box from Chicago Children's Theatre

photo courtesy of Chicago Children's Theatre
My 11-year-old son and I were invited to a recent performance of The Houdini Box, a new play based on Brian Selznick's book of the same name. The brick walls and old-timey feel of the Mercury Theatre was an ideal setting for the story of a boy who tried emulate the great Houdini back in the day.

Much to the chagrin of his mother and aunt, the protagonist, Victor, spends his days wreaking havoc as tries to fashion the kinds of escapes that his hero, world renown escape artist Harry Houdini, manages so effortlessly. One day, he has a chance encounter with Houdini and then...well, you'll just have to see the play or read the book to find out.

I bought a copy of the book in the lobby just before the show. It's such a short story that my son was able to read me the entire thing to before the play began, leaving me just enough time to wonder how it would be translated into an hour-long performance.

It was done so quite well. The play, written by Hannah Kohl, was enhanced with music by Mark Messing of Mucca Pazza and supplemented by puppetry courtesy of Redmoon Theater founder Blair Thomas.

My son enjoyed the play and felt the stage adaptation was quiet creative. That said, he told me he might have been a little old for the show. I'd place the target age around 6-10 years old.

With tickets starting at $15, the show is a lovely way to share a live, professional theater experience including music(!) and puppets(!) with your child.

The Houdini Box is playing at the Mercury Theatre through March 4, 2012.
After that, it will run in Skokie at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts March 13 - 25, 2012.

Disclosure: I received two tickets to see The Houdini Box. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

United Nations Shot@Life

I was invited to attend an event at a friend's home to learn about (okay, and possibly donate to) Shot@Life. Being unfamiliar with it, the first thing I did was head to Charity Navigator to check it out, followed by Google for the same reason.

Once I realized Shot@Life is a program of the United Nations Foundation, I sensed it was legit and worth sharing. It's also a partner of Jennifer James' new Mom Bloggers for Social Good, which is supporting many great causes related to women, children and the environment.

Shot@Life is a movement to protect children worldwide by providing life-saving vaccines where they are most needed.

{pause to reflect on the fact that many children in the US need vaccines because their parents think they'd be better off without them}

Anyhoo, this sounds like a program that does good and important work. Want to learn more? I've embedded an intro video below, but click here for a cooler one.