Great Child-Friendly Apps.

March 6th, 2014

These little things are life savers and nowhere are they more appreciated than in the car (especially on long journeys). While in desperation, we’re all tempted to reach for a bag of sugary sweets (still an essential part of any road trip), it’s SO important to have a bag of virtual goodies to keep the kids entertained.

Little “put-together” toys just drive me nuts as they always end up on the floor of the car, and impassioned pleas to collect all those little bits do nothing for my struggle with car sickness.

The portable DVD player along with a couple of favourite DVDs is a great part of the entertainment arsenal, but for the sake of variety and sanity, my personal favourite is the iPad. Parents can lock it too, so kids can’t repeatedly access the home button.

Following are 8 fabulous apps, whether you are in the car or not. These are wins with my daughter and seem to have universal appeal.

1. Monkey Math School Sunshine – Targeted toward pre-school/school age. My daughter loves this app, and happily joins in with number and shape recognition, addition and subtraction and completing patterns.

2. Peppa Pig Holiday – Another winner – Peppa makes pizza, goes on holiday and goes to the beach. It is an interactive app requiring shape and number recognition. It encourages dexterity and is great for their listening skills.

3. Lego – If your kids love lego, they’ll love this virtual version. Best of all – it’s FREE

4. Little Writer – For your little academic who prefers to work on reading/writing/arithmetic – they can do it all here, including ABC, abc, 123, shapes and basic words.

5. Toca Boca – Lots of different games are on offer, but they’re all good. Again, my daughter loves them and they keep her entertained for ages.

6. Mr Potato Head – A big fave with lots of kids from toddler age up. Creative and fun, most of the kids I know prefer this to the hands-on Mr Potato Head.

7. Mickey’s Wildlife Count Long – This fun little app encourages numeric skills with matching, se-quencing and sorting. They can take photos and use the wildlife photo album to place animals in their correct habitats. Mickey and his friends trip around to different locations having fun and learning along the way. If your kids like Mickey Mouse, they’re sure to love this one.

8. Talking Ginger – I know, I know, you hate this cat, but although he is annoying, this is a good addition to the app arsenal. It encourages speech development, and ALL kids love it.

As soon as you’ve download a kid-friendly app, there’s a new one on it’s way, so you’ll never run out of inspiration.

Got any favourite ones? Be sure and let us know by leaving a comment?

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Put a Ring On It

January 24th, 2014

I don’t wear much jewelry. 

I never got into it as an everyday staple. Perhaps it’s because my mom doesn’t get the paper (from the front door) without a gaggle of baubles—and lipstick.

I do enjoy a good statement/accent piece though and I love a fabulous ring—and I especially love when the two combine.

My fave statement  du jour: The handcrafted rings from Monkeys Always Look.

Seriously, you’ve got to check out this collection of rings here.

From the Family Name rings to their signature Latitude and Longitude sets to the Tree Bark rings and so many more stunning designs, Monkeys Always Look captures sentimental-cool at its height.

And I am living for the copper.

With price points from under $50 to $1300, there’s something for everyone.

Easy and edgy, meaningful and chic–this is the (as in the)  place to go for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day and birthdays and just because.

While you’re ringing in the fabulous, be sure to check out the bangles and necklaces, all equally as right on.

For more gorgeous, custom-made jewelry, go to


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How Much Sleep Does My Child Need?

January 8th, 2014

Kerry Rawls, owner of Little Me Sleep Solutions and certified pediatric Sleep Sense™ consultant, is a mom who knows the pain of  getting a wee one to sleep through the night. Read about her own personal victory over the-every-two-to-three-hour-rise-and-shine on her website.

Here, Kerry tells baby-weary parents what their sleeping beauties need to sleep tight.

How much sleep does my child need, you ask? A lot! Many parents are surprised to learn that children need anywhere between 12 and 18 hours of sleep per day, depending on the age of your child. Here are some specific guidelines for different age groups.

  • 0-3 months of age:  16-18 hours per day
  • 3-6 months of age:  about 15 hours per day
  • 6-12 months of age: about 14 hours per day
  • 12 months of age and up: 12-13 hours per day

A good night’s sleep gives children the energy they need to wake up each morning feeling happy, refreshed and ready to learn, so if you’re concerned that your child might not be getting enough sleep, please keep reading!

Plus, if your child isn’t getting enough sleep, there’s a pretty good chance that YOU aren’t getting enough sleep either…and this lack of sleep has been linked to everything from postpartum depression to weight gain in new mothers.

My name is Kerry Rawls.  I am a certified pediatric sleep consultant, a licensed counselor and a mom.  Most importantly, I’ve been in your shoes!  So let’s get started today and get your family sleeping through the night in no time!  Please give me a call at 817.475.1945 for your FREE 15-minute consultation.  No need to be local, I work with families across the U.S.

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Cool for School: Sierra Magazine Names America’s Greenest Universities

August 21st, 2013

Looking for a school that takes higher eduction to new eco-friendly heights?

Sierra, the official publication of the Sierra Club, America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, just revealed its seventh annual ranking of the country’s top enviro-minded universities.

Recognizing colleges for their commitment to shaping students into future environmental citizens, workers and leaders, Sierra‘s cool list—the only one of its kind—profiles the academic institutions making a marked difference for Mother Earth, from sustainably sourced dining hall grub to eco-smart courses to what’s powering the dorms.

“For the past seven years, Sierra magazine has ranked colleges and universities on their commitment to fighting climate disruption and making sure the future their students will inhabit has safe water, clean air and beautiful landscapes,” said Bob Sipchen, Sierra magazine’s editor-in-chief. “By showing such strong leadership on so many fronts—from energy use and transportation to the courses they offer—the best of these schools are pointing the way for other institutions.”

Whether it’s American University’s new campus-wide composting program or Cornell’s minor in climate change, see how colleges across the country are answering a generation’s clarion call to live la vida verde.

Sierra magazine’s top schools of 2013 are:

10. University of California, Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara, CA)

9. American University (Washington, DC)

8. Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA)

7. Stanford University (Stanford, CA)

6. Green Mountain College (Poultney, VT)

Click here for the rest of the top 10 list.

Greening is Believing Bonus:

In addition to featuring the rest of the best of Sierra’s data-based rankings (all 162 of them), the magazine’s September/October issue examines whether colleges’ sustainability efforts really make a difference when students graduate.

Hot topics include “Aha Moments,” which profiles three people whose lives were forever changed for the greener because of a moment (or a person) in college, and “The Measure of an Education,” written by Pulitzer winner Edward Humes who reports on how schools can gauge whether steeping students in environmentalism truly does create a more sustainable world.

Available online only is a list of the most coveted eco-scholarships, plus Sierra’s annual “20 Days of Giveaways” sweepstakes.

Want more great green content like this?

Click here to sign up for the Sierra Club’s Green Life newsletter.

*Cover: Artwork by Harry Campbell



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Fun in the Sun: SPF 101

May 20th, 2013

With Memorial Day just around the corner, the unofficial start of summer is upon us—and so is the barrage of sunscreens, all promising to protect and serve.

So, how do you know which ones are the best? And what about the all-natural kinds? And are the conventional ones really that bad for you?

We asked the the sunscreen experts at MelanSol 100% Natural Skincare to shed some light on what you must know to keep your family safe during its season in the sun.

Here’s what they told us:

  • Most popular children’s sunscreens have been found to contain higher levels of harmful chemicals and chemical active ingredients than many adult sunscreens. Check this out for further proof.
  • Many chemical active ingredients used in sunscreen are hormone active—meaning they mimic the hormone estrogen. Two recent studies found traces of five chemical active ingredients in breast milk.
  • Double the sun protection factor (SPF) does not mean double the protection from UV rays. It only increases the concentration of hormone active ingredients.
  • Baby sunscreen sprays, made with chemical active ingredients, synthetic preservatives and fragrances, might be convenient but the ingredients pose a danger if breathed in, ingested or sprayed into a baby’s eyes.
  • The “active ingredients” are located at the top of every sunscreen’s back label. There are two types of active ingredients: chemical and physical. The vast majority of sunscreens you will find use chemical active ingredients. These active ingredients use a chemical reaction of energy and filter sunlight by absorbing a percentage of UV rays on your skin. Sunscreens relying on these ingredients must be applied in advance of entering sunlight because they require 20 to 30 minutes to become fully active enough to begin protecting your skin .
  • Physical active ingredients are physical or natural in nature and filter sunlight by reflecting a percentage of UV rays away from your skin.  There are only two physical active ingredients: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Though the quality of these ingredients can vary, they are safer and easier to use than chemical active ingredients.
  • The “inactive ingredients” are the remaining ingredients that make up the sunscreen formula. Chemical sunscreen brands are made with chemical stabilizers, synthetic preservatives, colorings, fragrances, alcohols, glycols, parabens, etc. If you don’t immediately recognize the ingredients on the label, then do not buy the sunscreen. Period. Your family’s health is at stake.
  • Find an all-natural sunscreen brand. All-natural sunscreens represent the smallest portion of the sunscreen market because they are made with non-chemical ingredients.
  • Look for a 100% all-natural sunscreen that has been certified by the Natural Products Association (NPA). When a sunscreen carries the NPA Certification Seal, you know that each ingredient (and the way each ingredient has been processed) has been examined to ensure that no chemicals have been involved in any way. Only three sunscreen brands have currently been certified by the NPA. All MelanSol® 100% Natural Skin Care products have been NPA-certified, including our 100% Natural Sunscreen for Baby, which provides complete broad spectrum protection from potentially damaging UVA and UVB rays.
  • Look for sunscreen that use antioxidants in combination with natural active ingredients. A 2003 university study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, concluded that traditional sunscreens needed to also include natural plant based antioxidants in order to be effective against UV skin damage. Safe, healthy and protective, MelanSol’s top-quality protection sports a triple antioxidant formula, which includes vitamin E and green tea extract, that boosts the body’s natural sunburn protection.

For more sunsational tips, go to

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What’s Your Earth Day Resolution? Four Simple Things All Families Can Do

April 22nd, 2013

Liz Kennedy, a stylist for Moxie Jean, a jaw-droppingly fabulous kiddie couture and more consignment shop you must know about, gives you four ways to show some love to Mother Earth:

As we celebrate Earth Day this year what better time to teach our kids through example, how to develop healthy practices for recycling and sustainability. They are our future after all, and it is our responsibility to show them ways big and small to preserve and protect the planet.

So this year, why not utilize the occasion of Earth Day to start a resolution with your kids! Choose a few environmentally responsible tasks that can be carried out through the home to get kids into the habit of conservation. From recycling to up-cycling, and bicycling to your destinations—sustainability starts at home.

So what are some possible resolution activities?

1. Conservation of resources is one of the most important so remind your kids to turn off the lights and faucets and wash your clothes in cold water.

2. Recycle glass, plastic, paper, and practice zero waste in school lunches. Don’t forget to show kids that recycling can be fun too, melt old broken crayons into fun new shapes or turn decorated juice cartons into bird feeders.

3. Commit to driving an hour less a week. As a family, you will find you actually enjoy the time together. Encourage your family take walks and bike rides to reduce fuel emissions. You’ll benefit from the fresh air and a little exercise.

4. Resell your outgrown clothes

We all know how fast kids grow, and in fact children’s clothing is often overlooked as an area of waste. So much wonderful clothing is either thrown out, has hardly been worn, or is sometimes even brand new. As a stylist at Moxie Jean, I see examples of all the hidden gems that may be buried in your closet every day. So pass them along to another family in need.

At Moxie Jean our Earth Day resolution is to keep the cycle of sustainability alive and eliminate the waste of buying new off the rack. We’ve only got one Mama Earth so take time to get creative with the kids to show her how much you care.













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April 17th, 2013

Guns and gams not ready for their warm-weather debut?

Not to worry—we’ve got an instant silky-smoother-upper for you that’ll take your skin from dry to divine sans the harmful chemmed-up slather of traditional salves.

Listen up, ladies (and gentlemen): The all-natural skincare line MelanSol does a mean cream.

Specially formulated with antioxidants that hydrate, condition, nourish and rejuvenate your skin while guarding your skin cells from casual sun exposure,MelanSol 100% Natural Moisturizer is the real deal when it comes to skincare that protects and serves on all levels.

In fact, the 100% natural claim is actually certified by the Natural Products Association.

No greenwashing here—as in no BPA, no gluten and no chemicals—just a rich, super-healthy, ultra clean cream that’ll give you gorgeous glowing skin you’ll go ga-ga for.

And speaking of ga-ga, MelanSol’s Moisturizer for Baby is a dream cream for both face and body. Plus, it works wonders on diaper rash too.

Give it a glow! Go to

Get 10% off with code SAVE10.

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Discount of the Week: Anna Marie’s ABCs

August 20th, 2012

It’s time to name names—and take Junior’s room from okay to A-OK!

Anna Marie’s ABCs turns your child’s name into a work of art.

With fun themes like animals and sports, these handmade works of art elevate decor while inspiring the imaginations of your favorite little ones.

Go to and get 10% off with code Groove.


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Table This Discussion

September 29th, 2011

TFG etiquette expert Nicki Donley, author of Cool Conduct: 100 Ways to Make a Positive Impression, a book she wrote to help kids feel confident in social situation, dishes on table manners:

Imagine this scenario: You’re at your favorite restaurant having an absolutely wonderful dinner with your family. You quickly turn to tell your mom something and wham you knock an entire glass of water over on to the floor. It’s embarrassing, other diners turn to look. Do you get on the floor and start picking up ice cubes? Call for help? Not to worry, accidents happen all the time. First, place extra napkins on the spill to prevent any additional items on the table from getting wet. Alert your server, the restaurant staff should retrieve the items from the floor. If the server does not offer to, politely ask for a replacement of the spilled drink (and any items that were spilled on).

Today, many restaurants have such a casual atmosphere you may not get silverware without asking. Or if you do, it comes all wrapped together in a napkin; and although we may be more casual in our home settings, table manners are always appropriate.

To make meals more enjoyable for the entire family, parents appreciate when everyone contributes. Use this phrase as an easy way to remember how to set a causal place setting; Freddy Needs Practice Kicking Soccer Goals. This will allow you to place your dinnerware in the proper positions. A causal place setting consists of Fork, Napkin under Fork, Plate in the middle, Knife on the right, Spoon next to the Knife and Glass in the upper right hand corner. When eating, napkins may be placed on your lap and used to dab the sides of your mouth. Never use your sleeve or the back of your hand as a napkin.

Another tricky aspect of table manners is eating messy foods likes pizza or cheese sticks. Most girls love a really good piece of pizza, full of mozzarella cheese dripping from every side (except on a first date). To prevent embarrassment or having your date perform the Heimlich maneuver cut the items into pieces, take small bites and chew thoroughly before taking the next bite. This will also help with digestion, hence less burping and gas later.

Regardless of where you eat, some things should never be done at the table: Do not chew with your mouth open, speak with food in your mouth, play with your hair, pick your teeth or take food from another person’s plate without asking. Turn cell phones, MP3 players, iPads and other electronic devices off and enjoy each others company.

Dining is full of the unexpected, by staying cool you can easily handle any situation that comes your way.

Want to learn more? Check out Cool Conduct: 100 Ways to Make a Positive Impression by Nicki Donley for easy to understand etiquette and safety tips.


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Make That Change!

September 28th, 2011

How many diaper ch-ch-ch-changes are in your future, new mama? A lot.

So, do you want to be part of the problem or the solution (no pressure, here) when it comes to helping lil’ ol’ Mother Earth get back on her feet?

Not sure where to begin? Start with the mom in the mirror and make that change—from disposable diapers to cloth ones.

Get the scoop on everything you need to know to be a woman of the cloth with the informative DVD Diapering Today.

Packed with tips on how and why reusable diapers are the way to go, this empowering DVD also includes info on: how to use cloth diapers, the different types of cloth diapers, washing cloth diapers, cloth diapering on a budget, potty training and more.

Pair it with cloth diapers from the Willow Store, a go-to green depot for moms and their babes and you’ve got a baby shower/new baby gift that’ll not only garner well-deserved oohs and aaahs but just might help others make that change, too.

For more change-inspiring items, go to The Willow Store today.



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Outta Sight Site Spotlight:

July 20th, 2011

4paw Fashion is, paws down, one of the most stylish doggy clothing lines we’ve seen.

It’s like Barney’s for dogs: meticulously executed fashions with a dash of irreverence and a hint of tongue-in-cheek.

What can we say? We love.

Here, we talk to 4paw Fashion’s co-founder Aubrey Berger about her must-see line (seriously, even if you don’t have a dog, you must see these clothes), doggy wardrobe staples and the hottest looks of the season.

THE FAMILY GROOVE: What inspired you to start your business?

Aubrey Berger: Believe it or not, it more or less started with an aquarium. We started a 25 gallon aquarium, which grew into almost an obsession of ours; the aquatic creatures all took on their own little personalities and we took a lot of pride in what we created. After a while we would wishfully talk about how much fun it would be to someday open up a fish store. I have two miniature Dachshunds as well, and they’re hilarious. It’s hard not to spoil them. Both of us love animals—all animals, but especially dogs. If we had it our way we would just hang out with dogs all day. Somehow we refocused our vision of someday opening a “fish store” to someday opening a boutique where we would offer pet lodging, clothing, grooming, daycare for dogs— the works. From that, 4paw Fashion was born. Starting with fashion for small dogs online lets us build a foundation right now for what could someday turn into something bigger. For now, we get to have fun with the designs we find, the marketing and our fashionable little customers.

TFG: Did you have a background in fashion?

AB: Actually neither of us have studied fashion or had a formal background in fashion, but we like to think we have pretty good taste. It’s always been an interest, and most definitely tune into trends and what’s in style.

TFG: We are living for your designs! They range from edgy to classic to sporty to gorgeous with a through-line of cheeky. What informs your fabulous design aesthetic?

AB: Our own tastes have a lot of influence on the designs we make available at 4paw Fashion. We say on our website, “if you wouldn’t want to wear it, why would your dog?” and we don’t lose sight of that when we’re selecting our collections. Our tastes are eclectic, and that helps us appeal to a broad client base—we really try to provide something for everyone.

TFG: You do coats, jackets, shoes, boots, dresses, entire outfits and even jeans—and all of them hit the mark when it comes to high end, high quality style. What are some of your favorite pieces?

AB: It’s hard to pick favorites because we honestly love everything. We do love the “D’Uggs,” as far as footwear goes. The “Shiver Me Doggone Timbers” nautical t-shirts have been our best sellers—we think those are fun, unique shirts. We also love the winter jackets – “Puff Doggy” is a notable favorite and very hip!

TFG: What is your proudest moment as a business owner?

AB: As a business owner of a relatively new company, there is nothing more gratifying than receiving your first order.  It was quite rewarding to provide a new 4paw winter coat & matching boots to give our first little Shih Tsu customer the style and warmth she deserves!  We also put a lot of work into the look and original content on our website, so it’s always fun to hear positive feedback about the descriptions and overall personality of the site.

TFG: What exciting things are on the horizon?

AB: Many exciting things are happening at  Our summer stock presents a trendy selection of summer dresses, pajamas, and t-shirts…we even offer a line of tennis shoes and rain jackets to protect your pooch against wet coats and messy paws on those rainy summer walks or camping trips!  In the near future, we hope to be adding a lot of fun products and collections, such as collars and other accessories. Visit our live chat support for help with orders and sizing.

For more from 4paw Fashion, go to

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Truth, Justice and the American Way

July 4th, 2011

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.”

What a truly, truly amazing concept: Freedom.

Let freedom ring.


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We Remember

May 28th, 2011

“The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.” —Thucydides

We honor the memory of the American men and women who died in our nation’s service, giving their lives to protect we the people.



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Nursery’s Cool

March 19th, 2011

This weekend’s Chipper Tip from Let’s Go Chipper:

This is a great weekend to think about your summer garden. Take a family trip to your local nursery. Before you go, create a scavenger hunt to keep your child  curious and on track with you. Write down what you are looking for in a creative way: “It’s long like a snake and green.” Kids will delight in helping you find a garden hose.

If it’s too wet for a hike or you can’t get to the path, the nursery provides an abundance of nature for everyone to enjoy and explore.

For more ways to get back to nature, go to

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All You Need Is Love

March 9th, 2011

As all good movies are, Mars Needs Moms is at once an entertaining, funny, poignant tale of good versus evil (with good prevailing, of course) and a referendum on modern-day society.

Emotionless, nameless, militarized female aliens run an overly industrialized, highly high tehched Mars. Babies are hatched from the barren ground and raised by nannybots. The male aliens, who are colorful,silly, joyful and like to dance and hug, are banished at birth to wasteland beneath the surface.



Who saves the day? A kid, a dude (who acts like a kid) and a rogue female alien who was turned onto a crazy little thing called love via transmissions of hippie TV shows from the sixties.

We come to find out that Mars wasn’t always a harsh, cold place and its peeps weren’t always doomed to live a life of servitude to the Supervisor. In fact, it used to be a groovy kind of colorful, flowery place where families, happy families, loved out their days.

As I type this, my son is playing with his sitter and my daughter is in all-day kindergarten. Work is my third child and, boy, is that child demanding.


Okay, give me a moment to reel in my working mom guilt.

So let us not mire in where things are headed or question whether a two-parent-working household is heralding the decline of civilization and instead redirect to another of the movie’s themes: How awesome moms are.

I feel better already.

The movie adroitly illustrates the importance of moms (and dads/families) are and how without them, we are just alone in the world, left to fend for ourselves in a whirling dervish abyss-like sieve of nothingness.

Yeah, we are awesome, aren’t we?

There was a point in the movie when I teared up thinking about my mom and how no matter how much I push her, she is always there for me. Her devotion to her child is unwavering—even when that child is 34.

My kids, by the way, got none of that and chose to sit next Dad when we went for lunch afterward.

What they did get was a good hour and a half of solid entertainment, superior graphics (some of the best animation we’ve seen yet) and a few very likable characters that they still talk about.

It was a touch too much for my almost-three-year-old but it was perfect for my almost-six-year-old and everyone in the theater seemed to really enjoy it.

The movie reminds us that, at our core as human beings, we just want to love and be loved—that’s what a family, in essence, is: a small group of people who love you, no matter what, and who you love, no matter what.

The movie opens Friday. Check your local scene for theaters and showtimes.

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