Sunday, November 10, 2013

Playing On Sesame Street’s Digital Playground

This littlest blogger gets tech-savvy with the help of some friendly muppets!


This week I played on a very different type of playground: the Sesame Workshop Digital Playground. Children like me were invited to explore the digital playground and uncover the way Sesame is transforming how we kiddos use electronic media. Mommy and I were so impressed by the extensive educational and fun offerings and especially enjoyed that many features encourage Mommy (or caretaker) to play along with me so it is a family experience (and not just me with a screen). There is so much fun to be had on the digital playground that I can only include some of my and Mommy’s favorites below. There is endless opportunity to explore and there are tremendous resources available so let this be a warm-up lap for our first visit to this palatial playground.

Sesame Street Family Play
What I learn according to Sesame: family play and team building
How to play: This recently released app is aimed at parents to involve kids in fun, family games. It has over 150 family games in one app! I can choose my location such as at home, away from home, or traveling to pick a fantastic game for my current location whether in the living room or at a restaurant. The text is given onscreen and I get to go and play wherever I am! For example, we played an at home game where there were three objects and I had to guess which one went under a sombrero! It was mucho mucho fun!
Why Mommy loves it: It is the most interactive app that allows the entire family to be involved and play together. Also, the games are parent led. This is sure to help give your caretaker a little inspiration to keep things interesting.

Big Bird’s Words
What I learn according to Sesame: Word recognition tools to learn vocabulary and to help kids familiarize words in context.
How to play: I create a shopping list for Big Bird using the pictures of the grocery store. And it always has milk (my favorite)! I get to choose the words based on pictures and then look for the words in the scene. I get three hints and then a visual glow helps me find the object (just in case the hints didn’t do the trick). Big Bird also helps me sound out the letters and words.  Then he gives me definitions and descriptions of the words. I learned so much!
Why Mommy loves it: This is a great way for Mommy to connect words to real life products

Elmo Loves ABCs
What I learn according to Sesame: Learn all about letters through songs, videos, coloring pages, and games
How to play: I learn to recognize and write upper- and lower-case letters by tracing the letters with my finger (and as I do a dotted yellow line appears and lights up to show my work). Once I complete the letter, I can color that letter’s words with the coloring the objects, see three pictures of words that start with the letter (and can get hints, too) and also hear the sounds that the letter makes and words that the letter begins with.
Why Mommy loves it: The app allows Mommy to track and monitor my work and IDs my favorite letters (E for Elle and Elmo, of course!) with the app’s features.

Explorer! Sesame Street on Leap Frog
What I learn according to Sesame: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) concepts
How to play: I explore one of three magnificent missions with Elmo, Abby, and Super Grover.  I chose the magnetics mission (to help with my budding math and science skills) and in the game, used a magnet to recover Elmo’s toys from a tree while learning about the levers and weights to get the toys down. Then, I got to try to catch the toys as they fell back down. This was a bit challenging for this near two-year old as I need more hand eye coordination but look forward to playing better soon.
Why Mommy loves it: I get to discover my super powers while secretly learning math and science!

Elmo’s Story Maker
What I learn according to Sesame: Develop your imagination and storytelling
How to play: I let my imagination run wild as I created my very own adventures for Elmo based on the television segment “Elmo the Musical.” I can select settings, themes, characters, and other key features that allow me to create an infinite number of adventures for Elmo. I had a blast as I figured out how to structure stories by learning about the beginning, middle, and end.
Why Mommy loves it: Once I create my story, Mommy and Daddy’s voice can read me the story or Elmo will read it to me himself until I learn how to! I can also send the stories to my friends and family who can in turn build on my story and send it back to me with a plot twist!

There are so many educational apps and over 150 eBooks, all available to make me and my friends smarter while having fun Sesame style. Find them all HERE!

Birthday Guide: The Best Kids’ Party Venues In NYC

As seen in New York Family Magazine

Check out some cool birthday themes, ideas, and top NYC party venues–all inspired by our favorite kids’ movies:


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Dreading Date Night

A toddler’s perspective on staying home while Mom and Dad hit the town.


Dream: I am ready to hit the town and check out the new sweet shop that opened down the street. Mommy and Daddy really don’t want to be left alone and have a lunch date all by themselves, but I insist that they deserve it. While they get ready I slip into my favorite high heels (they used to be Mommy’s) and beckon for puppy and together we head out for a candy-filled adventure. Mommy reminds me that she installed the Elle Belle Tracker App on her iPhone so she can watch over me and puppy from afar. We all hug and kiss and I go on my merry way!

Reality: After a fun day asserting my toddler independence, the doorman rings up at 6 p.m., which only means one thing: a babysitter. See, I have it all figured out. It’s too late for a play date, but too early for an evening food order, so it must be what I fear most…Mommy and Daddy going out without me. Or so they think! This time I got it covered because I installed the Elle Belle Parent Tracker App on my pretend champagne-colored iPhone 6. It tells me where Mommy and Daddy are so I can find them. Surely they don’t want to be gone too long from their prized child?

Yet they do. I can tell Mommy is going out because she is wearing my favorite high heels. Upon seeing this, I immediately put on my cutest pouty face and cry Mommy and Daddy a river. But in return, they just hug me and tell me they love me. I already knew that–I just don’t want them to go! So this time I wrap myself around Mommy’s leg. She takes off her shoes, bends down to console me, and hugs me tight. Now I am in business! I keep crying to make sure I get the effect I want. I know Mommy feels icky leaving me because she gives Daddy a confused look that I have learned to love.

Mommy hugs me tighter while reminding me that wherever she is, her love is with me. Then (you won’t believe this) she goes on to tell me how much fun I am going to have with the babysitter and that she will see me in the morning. Daddy pulls Mommy away from me and tells me he loves me and to have sweet dreams. Sweet dreams my bum bum! My favorite people in the world are abandoning me at bedtime and I am expected to have sweet dreams? I don’t think so.

I continue to fuss until I am sure I have sufficiently sabotaged Mommy and Daddy’s plans and they will stay home for bedtime. But tonight Mommy and Daddy mean business. After a few (well, maybe several) more tears, kisses, and hugs for reassurance, they leave. Couldn’t they have just waited for me to fall asleep and sneak out like they used to? At least then we would read and sing lullabies together before they “abandoned” me.

I hear the elevator door close and have my confirmation: they really are gone. Even though I feel sad, I run to greet the babysitter with a smile. I ask for a tissue to clean my nose and then sit and play with my new iPhone app, secretly tracking my parents’ every move. I think of all the fun Mommy and Daddy must be having without me. Maybe they went to my favorite toy store. Or my favorite restaurant. Or maybe they are not having fun? Maybe they are crying because they miss me? That must be it!

At least puppy chose to stay home with me. Before I know it, I hear the babysitter saying something about bedtime. I decide to ignore that reference to dreamland and keep playing. Luckily, the babysitter goes along for a while; after months of playing with me, she still doesn’t know all of Mommy’s silly rules. We have a grand old time–we even pause to have cookies and milk! Yum! And before I know it, I ask to go to read books, puppy gives me kisses, and I willingly go nighty night.

And Mommy and Daddy were right about me having sweet dreams. My dreams were so happy that I woke up in the middle of the night to dish all about them and realized I had a really wet diaper. And guess who was there when I beckoned? Mommy and Daddy! I bet they were so glad they didn’t have to wait until morning to see me again!

Friday, October 11, 2013

A Frightfully Fun Time at the Count’s Halloween Spooktacular

A Frightfully Fun Time at the Count’s Halloween Spooktacular



I just had a frightfully fun time celebrating a not too spooky Halloween at the Count’s Halloween Spooktacular at Sesame Place! It looks like they did an Extreme Makeover: Sesame Place Edition because the park was transformed into a silly and fun Halloween haven. There were Halloween decorations everywhere, Halloween-themed shows, a character hayride, character mazes, and even a rubber duckie costume disco!

It all started when I woke up on Saturday morning and asked for Elmo and Mommy and Daddy replied that we were going to visit him at Sesame Place in honor of my BFF Fiona’s birthday and an early Halloween. I immediately got dressed as quickly as I could and ran down to the car with Mommy so Daddy could drive us to Sesame in a hurry.

We arrived at Sesame Place and the welcome sign with Big Bird was replaced with a special sign featuring the Count. There was purple garland and Halloween decorations and numbers everywhere. In the spirit of the Count, I started counting! By the time I counted to ten and we were inside the park and once inside, I got dressed for the occasion (you are encouraged to attend in costume!). I wore my Abby Cadabby costume of course! Now I was ready for action.

I started running uncontrollably around the park with excitement. Everyone couldn’t help but notice how cute I was dressed as Abby Cadabby. Lots of other toddlers thought I was Abby’s look-a-like and asked to take a picture with me. I was happy to do so for my fans. Then I was off and running (literally) to Elmo’s World Live! The show informed us all about Halloween. I learned all about this fun holiday with the help of everyone’s favorite monster, Elmo! And Dorothy, Mr. Noodle, and Telly joined Elmo to teach us about Halloween. I was taught very important lessons about costumes, trick-or-treating, and more.
It was so much fun that I worked up an appetite so we went to celebrate at the Count’s Batty Birthday Bash! “One bat, two bats, three bats!” Count said as he welcome us and gave us a bat noise maker. We had a yummy buffet lunch followed by cupcake to celebrate the Count and Fiona’s birthday. Yummy in tummy! And then we had an educational dance party in true Sesame style. I danced like a ballerina with Zoe, did a yummy cookie dance with Cookie, soared across the dance floor with Super Grover, and partied like a Sesame monster with my best friend Elmo. Elmo loves me. He told me so!
Next it was off to the Countdown to Halloween musical show where I was trick or treated to a performance starring Count, Elmo, Zoe and Abby. The show followed Count as he started a journey alone but was joined by more and more friends on his favorite night of the year – Halloween!
After protesting nap time, I channeled my inner Abby Cadabby as I weaved and rambled through Abby Cadabby’s Magical Halloween Maze. It was so magical – even the pumpkins were pink like Abby! I went in the enchanted maze and using all my senses helped Abby find her wand. Poof!
I next poof-ed myself to Ernie’s Rubber Duckie Costume Party. There was a rubber duckie bigger than Daddy! And Ernie and Bert were there dressed as a duckie and a pigeon. We all gathered in the larger than life bathtub disco and danced up a storm. Rubber Duckie disco made dancing oh so fun! Quack! 
The party continued as I danced my way over to meet and greet my best Sesame friends. Everyone was dressed in costume just like me (I always have been a trend setter). I ran to greet my Sesame friends one by one but I stopped in my tracks when I saw Elmo! “Elmo” I squealed, saying hi with a sweet wave of my Abby wand, and ran like a bull in a china shop straight to Elmo. Elmo gave me a big smile and hug. I was tickled red! Elmo was dressed like a kitty cat, Abby like a fairy princess, Ernie like a pirate, and I could go on and on. I ran to each friend, gave them a great big Elle Belle hug, then I told them to snuggle me close for a picture, and I posed for the camera. We worked it baby! Then I thanked my favorite friends for the pictures with high fives and saying thank you!
The last stop of the Halloween hay ride for me was The Count’s Halloween Spooktacular “Neighborhood Street Party” parade. It was a blast! And the finale was a happy Halloween song that is so catchy that Mommy, Daddy and I all couldn’t stop singing it!
I am walking on sunshine, scratch that, I mean pumpkins, after a visit to the happiest street on earth to celebrate the Count’s Halloween Spooktacular!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Happiness is...

Happiness is...a trip to Sesame Place to celebrate Fiona's birthday and play at the Count's Halloween Spooktacular!

A beary fun time for big and little cubs alike!

A Beary Fun Show in Bear Country

Elle Belle Reports On “Berenstain Bears Live”


The Berenstain Bears Live
I am still smiling after going to Bear Country and seeing the “beary” wonderful adventures in “Berenstain Bears LIVE.” (which runs now through January 2104).  I almost could not “bear” the excitement and had a grizzly good time!

The set was bright and colorful and the bears looked just as they do in the books. It was so inviting that this very important bear (V.I.B.) parked herself on the grassy knoll and took in the story up close and personal with all her favorite bears.

The show was just an hour long, the perfect length to keep any little cub’s attention, and the story was sweet as the sugary snacks the bears love. The show weaved together three different stories (The Berenstain Bears Learn About Strangers, The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food, and The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble at School) so seamlessly I didn’t even know it was a three in one! Triple score!

The show captivated me from the start when the bears appeared on the set and started singing to me. Brother Bear got sick and was sneezing and wheezing—his nose sounded so silly. Dr. Grizz made him all better but he still had to stay home and rest and miss soccer. And Brother was so upset about missing soccer that he didn’t do his math homework (even though he was having a math quiz). Then at school he had to sit out at practice to stay healthy but still didn’t do his homework. Then in math class he failed his math quiz. Uh oh.

Meanwhile, Sister Bear loves making new friends with other bears, and even a special frog friend, on her way to school but Brother Bear warns her not to talk to strangers and Mama Bear already told her she can’t bring frogs home. When Papa Bear hears about this, he tells a scary story about strangers which scared me (and Mommy, too, but don’t tell her I told you). Now Sister doesn’t want to talk to anyone.

And all the bears love their sugary snacks, especially Papa Bear. But the sugary snacks aren’t good for you. I learned that little cubs need good nutrition and healthy snacks to grow big and strong. And even big bears like Papa Bear need healthy snacks. Papa Bear grew wide instead of tall and said there was just more of him to love. But he grew so much from junk food that he split his pants right on stage. I laughed out loud! I even saw his red polka dot underwear!

And guess what silly things happen? Brother Bear tries to hide his failed quiz, Sister Bear sneaks the frog back to the bear tree (I was in suspense the whole time the frog was hiding and kept calling ribbitt!), and Papa Bear secretly eats junk food. By the end, Mama Bear figures it all out and helps solve everyone’s problems while reminding everyone of important lessons. Brother Bear learns to do his homework and succeed at math, Sister Bear learns to be cautious making new friends, and Papa Bear learns to be a good role model by eating healthy for him and his cubs! Also thanks to Mama Bear brother learned his division, the frog found a safe home outside the tree, and everyone ate healthy. The family learned important lessons from each other making them an even happier family. They even ran a race together as a happy, healthy family and won a shiny trophy. Go team go!
And the show stopper was at the end when the bears taught us to do Papa Bear’s pants splitting dance by pointing our fingers, rubbing our tummy, and jumping for hip hop hurray! This little cub had a “beary” good time.

After the show, the Bear Family came to greet everyone! Mama Bear asked me if I wanted a bear nose painted on but I said no. And Brother and Sister Bear stayed for photos but I said no, too. But lots of other kids got bear noses and “beary” special photos. I just hugged my new Mama Bear doll and went home with my own “beary” loving family.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

In Mom's Shoes

September 29, 2013

In Mom’s Shoes

A Manhattan toddler discovers the thrill of stepping into a pair of high heels.

As seen in New York Family Magazine:

Dream: I am walking down the street in my diaper, tutu, signature bow, and Mommy’s high heels. Ever since I have started dressing myself, I look totally fab. The heels slow down my pace a bit but it’s worth it for all the extra attention and ooohs and aaahs I get as I strut my stuff. Elle Macpherson better watch out for Elle Belle.

Reality: Mommy and I are happily playing in my room when all of a sudden she tells me it is time to get dressed. “No way!” I say, and the chase begins. See, until now, our routine has consisted of Mommy giving me two outfit choices and me picking the winner. But lately her choices haven’t been up to my standards. Personally, I prefer either to be nudie-kins–sporting nothing but my diaper–or decking myself out in my Abby Cadabby dress-up outfit.

Mommy repeats that I need to get dressed. So we go back into my room and this time she asks me what color I want to wear. My answer is the same as it is every day: blue. I heard that daddy went for one whole year wearing only red, and since I have inherited his competitive spirit, I’ve decided I will wear only blue for as long as possible.

Mommy shows me an outfit with blue and purple and one with blue and green. I pick the blue and purple one but as she puts it on, I see it just doesn’t flatter my figure. I pull it off and cry, “No!” So Mommy reaches for the second option, which I already said no to, and puts it on. I protest with a louder “No!,” pull the shirt off, and throw it across the room. Mommy is totally letting me win as I see her fetch two more blue outfit options. I start to settle for a cute blue and white number when suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I spot the most beautiful shoes I have ever seen. They have a bow on top, silver sparkles throughout, and big heels. Wow!

I race over to admire them. My feet slip right inside and I feel like Cinderella. They are just right! I start delicately walking and am unsteady at first but slowly but surely get my groove, parading around like I’m on a catwalk. And I distracted Mommy from dressing me so much that she fetched the camera. She starts taking pictures and the flash is going crazy. I feel like a supermodel.

I love all shoes but I really love my new shoes. Now I’m ready to get dressed and go on an adventure! I run back to Mommy and ask her to put the rest of my outfit on. Then I strut to the door and say, “Go, go go!” Mommy looks at me and tries to hide her smile but I can see it. She tries to give me two other shoe options in my own size instead of a pair of Mommy’s grown-up shoes, including a pair of blue shoes, but I give her an emphatic “No!” (Smart thinking, but no thanks, Mommy.) I remember that in my book, “Cinderella,” it said one shoe can change your life, and now I totally get it. But Mommy doesn’t get it. And the next chase begins.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Hapiness is...

Happiness is...a big week walking in high heels and saying my first three syllable word!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Monday, August 19, 2013

The First Year-And-A-Half

As seen in New York Family Magazine:

From mastering animal sounds to throwing pretend tea parties, a toddler shares with us the highlights of turning 18 months.


Dream: I am pushing my baby doll down the street in her stroller. Baby has learned so much in the past months thanks to my fabulous parenting. Baby walks and talks and is developing a lovely disposition and personality. She is strong, smart, independent, sweet, and pretty adorable (if you ask me).  We turn the corner and head into our apartment building. Our doorman, Mr. Andrew, greets us with smiles and high fives. He alerts me that I have a package, but I tell him to just give it to Mommy later. Baby and I are tired and want to grab a quick lunch before nap time. Hopefully, Mommy made us grilled cheese sandwiches. Yum, yum!

Reality: I am reclining in my stroller seat as Mommy pushes me home from a Music Together class. We sang a special “Happy Birthday” for my half-birthday. What a special day! Can you believe I am 18-months-old already? Time flies when you’re an Elle Belle! And this baby has learned so much in 1.5 years–it is remarkable. I am so strong, smart, and independent. And if you ask me, I am a natural learner. Well, I guess Mommy helps me learn a little. As we continue our stroll, I start daydreaming about making a documentary about me, the super duper one-and-a-half-year-old.

I know the perfect song to kick it off: “Harder, better, faster, stronger…” These are Kanye’s words that I live by. I can walk along with my baby stroller, run endlessly, climb stairs, push my radio flyer wagon, kick a ball, jump on the trampoline, and even undress myself. That last one comes in handy when Mommy asks me if I want to wear something and I say, “No,” and she puts it on me anyway. I can just take it off and say, “No way!” As you see, I am strong physically as well as when it comes to willpower.

I am told that I am one smart cookie. My vocabulary is rapidly growing as is my comprehension. I articulately say many words with authority, especially: No way, doggie, golf, cupcake, grilled cheese, and bye bye. Leading sing-a-longs and reciting key segments of my favorite books are other smartypants pastimes. I also know my colors, letters, and numbers. I know that while my favorite color is blue, not all colors are blue (some are red and purple). I can sing the alphabet song with gusto, and I can clearly count to 10, even if I do use the number two for one and two (just until I learn to say “one” properly).

I am a budding artist, coloring on paper with crayons. And I mastered my animals and making their corresponding sounds, learned my shapes and can fit them into my shape sorter like a pro, and spent endless hours identifying my body parts and also finding them on my dolls. My favorite body part for now is the belly button. When I touch Mommy’s, it makes her go, Hee hee! How silly! And the list goes on. Are you floored yet? My grandparents are!

I am also sweeter than sweet. I must say I am quite affectionate with those I know and love. I understand letting friends deliver high fives and will even give a whole ten if I am in a giving mood. I have mastered the art of giving nice, gentle kisses as well as blowing a kiss (which was no easy task). I also learned that I should not kiss with my tongue: this is reserved for puppies and the French. (That’s what Daddy told me.) And I love to deliver bear hugs and know Mommy and Daddy love getting them.

When I want to be, I can also be pretty adorable. Playing pretend is off-the-charts fun and everyone loves to play with me. I host the most fabulous tea parties! We cheers with our tea cups, with fresh brewed tea, and I make homemade tea sandwiches. Delish! And I am pretty cute when playing a pretend mommy and caring for my baby dolls. I even spice things up by being a crazy, cool mommy, letting Baby bounce on my legs as we sing our favorite Music Together song, “Trot Old Joe.” But I have to stop playing with Baby when the phone rings. I pretend to answer–it’s always Daddy! Hieeee!,” I say with enthusiasm and I mind my manners and always say bye bye” before I hang up (even if Daddy is still talking while I do so). But everyone’s favorite is when I pretend to get ready with my makeup mirror and say: “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all? Elle!”

I am exhausted just thinking about all the great life accomplishments I’ve achieved so far–and I am only 18-months-old! I am pretty sure I will have to make a mini-series instead of a documentary.

As my day dream bubble pops, I realize I am hungry and Mommy already got us home and made me grilled cheese. Yum, yum! Who knows what can happen next? Maybe I will even use the potty soon.

Happiness is...

Happiness amazing half birthday! And an amazing half birthday cake!
Happy 18 months!

City Kid Meets the Country

As seen in New York Family Magazine:

For a toddler born in the Big Apple, a country getaway is full of wonder.


Dream: New York City was sweltering and I longed for a cooler place to escape to. Then I envisioned something amazing: instead of pushing my baby stroller up and down city streets with Mommy walking Puppy on a leash beside me–the three of us popping into my favorite air-conditioned boutiques to cool off–I saw myself running through endless sidewalks of grass with puppy sprinting ahead of me off his leash into giant puddles of water (Mommy called them lakes?). Could this place be real?

Reality: I wasn’t sure about leaving the big city, but my recent trip outside NYC was a wonderful break from the heat. This place was beautiful! I had never seen so much green in one place except in my storybooks. I could feel the moist grass tickling my toes through my sandals. I ran to the left and then to the right and there was still more pretty things to see. I ran across bridges, over water and along stone paths. And I climbed up a foothill and slid down a rock stairwell. It was like nature’s own obstacle course. And in the middle of it all were lots of rivers and flowers. I must have been in paradise, but Mommy called it…the country.

I ran as fast as I could chasing after my puppy. He sprinted so fast and jumped so high that he looked like a jackrabbit! While we were playing, I tripped over my tiny toes and fell into a pile of soft  grass. I reached down and felt it with my fingers. Not knowing my own strength, I ripped some up from the ground and the little blades blew away as they fell from my hand. It was so stimulating that I did it a few more times. And then puppy came and gobbled the grass up. Yuck!

Soon after, Puppy and I were running nonstop (again). Mommy and Daddy could barely keep up with us. It looked like a family choo choo train with puppy up front, followed by me close behind, and Mommy as the caboose. Mommy called for me to come back, but before I could even protest I spotted ducks in a lake. I ran up to the lake and, taking Mommy’s hand in mine, leaned close and gave my best, quack, quack! And guess what? The ducks quacked right back. We started quacking up a storm. When we first counted the ducks, there were only five, but by the end I was making such great duck conversation that Mommy counted 25. I saw ducks in all different sizes and shapes that made a beautiful family.

While the ducks were fun and all, I soon tired of quacking and looked for different company. Puppy led us through trails to a farm. I met llamas, donkeys, chickens, roosters, peacocks, and lots of other animal friends. The chickens and roosters said I could bawk, bawk (imagine me flapping my wings while making the sound to get the full effect) and cock-a-doodle-doo better than they could! Daddy pointed out that the inn where we were staying had a farm-to-table restaurant and Mommy said not to tell me or I’d be a vegetarian. (Note: I had pasta for dinner that night.)

After lunch, I tried to make a run for it toward more animals but stopped short in my tracks when I saw an electric fence. Yikes! Who thinks of such cruel things? I know I certainly don’t like boundaries. I hope they never make electric fences on playpens for kiddos like me!  Before I could further reflect on that awful invention, Daddy was right there to scoop me up and somehow redirected my attention.

We were on our way up a very rocky and wet path. Clearly, I was strong enough to hike but Daddy needed an extra workout to keep in good shape. So he picked me up and Mommy and puppy followed. Before I knew it, we were staring at the biggest shower I had ever seen. Mommy said it was nature’s shower and called it a waterfall. It was breathtaking. Literally, I don’t think I moved or said anything for at least a millisecond. I watched the water fall down the mountainside and into the lake below. Sometimes it splashed off rocks or tree limbs first and other times it shot straight down.
I found a tree swing and the four of us (puppy included) cuddled up on it to enjoy the view. All I could think was, I am not in NYC anymore. Here, rocks touched the sky instead of buildings. You could hear birds tweet instead of pigeons gobble crumbs (rats with wings, as Daddy calls them). The water lightly falling on me from above was from a waterfall instead of an icky air-conditioning unit. The simple wonders of the country were simply wonderful!

Our weekend in the country was full of more natural wonders, too. I played hide and seek with Mommy in corn stalks. I chased puppy through weeping willow branches. I climbed up a tree and swung from one of its branches (Mommy helped a bit). I actually saw stars in the sky and not just airplane lights. And I played hard and slept even harder, falling asleep to real nature sounds–not the ones on my sound machine.

By the time we got back in our car to head back to the big city, I was so tuckered out from my country adventure that I could barely keep one eye open to watch the inn get smaller and smaller out the rear view window. When I woke, it was to the familiar city sounds of cars honking and sirens blaring. There’s no place like home!

Happiness is...

Happiness is ...a beach weekend! But don't make my rookie mistake and eat the sand. Yuck!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Happiness is...

Happiness is...going to my first Yankees game!

My Dream Job

As seen in New York Family Magazine:

One tiny toddler proves it’s never too early to start weighing career options

Dream: This tiny toddler always likes to be one step ahead. After lunching with the E*TRADE baby–the talking baby featured in the company’s TV ads–I realize it’s never too early to start thinking about what you want to be when you grow up. While a lot of my friends want to be Wall Street titans, rock stars, ballerinas and firemen, based on my current interests and skill set, I am going to be a bestselling author.

Reality: After seeing the E*TRADE baby on TV and observing how boring finance jobs are–what kid wants to sit behind a desk?–I am considering an occupation as either an LPGA golfer, race car driver, mountain climber, or zoo keeper. As for being a bestselling author, I realized I already am one thanks to this blog!

My name, Elle, is already in LPGA (the Ladies’ Professional Golf Association). Coincidence? I think not. When I arrived at the golf course for the first time, I noticed immediately that everyone needed my help. On the putting green, I would take the balls the golfers were putting and put them in the hole. This little lady got the concept right away! Then, Daddy took me for a ride in the golf cart. It had me at go. Daddy even let me try steering the wheel and pushing the pedals. We rode along up and down the hills feeling the breeze in our hair. And we only stopped nine times for Daddy to swing the club and for me to drop the ball in the hole. Daddy said I am a natural! Shortly after, Grandpa went to the Masters and got me a fab purple Masters onesie. It gave me total street cred on my next golf outing, where my grandma taught me to putt and swing. With her help I was soon doing it all by myself. A few people did start running away from where I was practicing, but they must have been overwhelmed by my athleticism. I should definitely be a lady golfer!

Then again, thinking of how I only want to go, go, go when I am on the golf cart, maybe I should be a race car driver instead? I love steering the pretend car wheels at the playground and I have a fantastic toy steering wheel that I drive at home. In music class, I am a pro at honking the horn to the lyrics “the horn on the bus goes beep, beep, beep.” I also make a great vroom sound when I play with my toy cars. And when I drove a ride-on Thomas for the first time, my instincts took over and I cruised along beautifully at 1 mph. Watch out, here I come! Not to mention, to date, my driving record is impeccable. All of this, coupled with watching the Indy 500, has gotten me all riled up: race car driving may be the perfect profession for me!

But I also love another adventurous activity: climbing. I excel in gym class–walking up inclined mats, venturing up slides, and tearing up the rock climbing wall. I hang tough with the big boys. At the playground, I scale the equipment with minimal help from Mommy. I climb other things too. Puppy taught me to climb across the furniture in our apartment. And I have climbed out of my high chair and stood up on the tray. I also climb in and out of my stroller–most recently at Grandma’s house. And I climb on top of the bunny house at Art Farm in The City. The list goes on! As you can imagine, I am quite agile, so perhaps mountain climbing is my true calling?

Still, I think my most favorite activity is playing with my puppy. As soon as I hear my doggie’s leash come out of the front closet, I run for my shoes to help walk him. I love my doggie with all my heart. I also get super excited when I meet other doggies. I stop to give them kisses, hugs, and Cheerios. All the dogs in my building woof at me and I woof right back, bouncing around when I bark just like they do. My love of animals goes beyond dogs though. I’ve met pigs and cows and horses and more animal friends at a barn in the country and had the best time mimicking all their animal sounds. When Mommy took notice of my loving ways with animals (and the way they calmed me), she started taking me to the Central Park Zoo. We spend time there feeding and talking to the animals. It makes me so happy that I clap my hands and stomp my feet, and say hoo, baa, moo! And at home, I make sure to nurture all my stuffed animals by feeding, bathing, and caring for them. Teddy says I give the best hugs and kisses. Recognizing my passion for animals has helped me come to a decision: I will be a veterinarian.  Dr. Elle Belle it is!

There are so many career possibilities for this growing girl to pursue. On second thought, I probably shouldn’t pigeonhole myself given all my natural born talents. So I will simply do it all and be a true renaissance baby. And this baby will make whatever work she chooses fun so we won’t have to call it work anymore!

Friday, June 14, 2013

It’s A Bird…It’s A Plane…It’s Super Daddy!

As seen in New York Family Magazine:

Our resident toddler reflects on the many reasons she loves her dad

Dream: It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s … Super Daddy! It’s Father’s Day, and I am flying through the sky with my daddy. He is wearing his superhero uniform (which is already stained from playing with me) and I am his little sidekick. As we fly, he holds me up with only his pinky finger. Whee! Together, we can do anything!

Reality: Daddy is the most fun person in the world. He comes up with the best games and is always inventive, wild, and crazy. From the early baby days when he would carry me around in one arm and the puppy in the other, he has always known how to make me giggle. Daddy is so strong that he can throw me high in the sky and still catch me: I fly just like a birdie! He twists and twirls me and makes me giggle so hard it hurts. Daddy also bounces me better than anyone–even my ride-on zebra. And Daddy can hut, hut, hike me up like a football or spin me around upside down. Yahoo! Daddy always has terrific tricks up his sleeves that even he didn’t know he could think of.

When the week day is winding down and I hear the door open, I immediately drop everything (literally) and run to greet Daddy. I scream, “Daddy, Daddy!” with my most enthusiastic soprano voice and run directly into his arms for a big, daddy hug. Now I need to figure out how to top this sensational display of affection on this special day coming up called Father’s Day (I wonder why they don’t just call it Daddy’s Day?).

To get ready for the big day, I practice with my baby doll. Usually, when I am with Mommy, I feed baby some food, share my milk, get her dressed, comb her hair, and give her play time and a bath. But with Daddy, baby likes to roughhouse. So I throw baby up in the air again and again (I only drop her a couple of times–not bad for a beginner!). Next, I feed her and make her say “Yum, yum!” in a pirate voice. Then, right after she eats, I spin her as fast as I can until we both fall down!

My energy level is so high and so is baby’s. Mommy says to calm down, so I do what Daddy would do and run and snatch baby up for a great big hug and just as our arms embrace she flies up into the air. Baby is having the best time! I pull her in for another hug and a kiss right on top of her head–her favorite spot. Daddy always knows just the right spot to kiss and hug and tickle. Daddy does things different than Mommy and I love that about him.

Daddy reads me books in hilarious voices (you should hear his Fluffy voice), makes napkins resemble pouring rain at restaurants when I get bored, tells me funny stories based on our favorite books (like A Bad Case of Stripes), bounces balls over my entire body… the list goes on and on! And when we are not wearing our silly pants, Daddy is the best person for me to cuddle with (and sometimes even fall asleep on) after our adventures. Daddy wouldn’t tell you, but he is a big mush. I had him wrapped around my finger from the moment I was born when I grasped his pinky with my newborn reflex. Even then, I knew a good thing when I saw it–I knew to hold on tight to Daddy and never let him go.

Father’s Day will be extra special this year since I can take Daddy out to eat and actually share his meal (his food always tastes better even when he says it’s the same). I will do all the fun things he likes to do (after the mostly successful practice rounds with my baby doll). It’s going to be an incredible day and I cannot wait to honor and love my daddy. We should all give our daddies a great big daddy hug and sweet baby kiss on Father’s Day. And I will tell Mommy to let Daddy throw me up in the air higher than ever!

Friday, June 7, 2013

A Few Of Elle Belle’s Favorite Things: Summer Fun Edition

As seen in New York Family Magazine:

From mini sunglasses to floating toys to natural sunscreen, this baby’s got all the essentials she needs for a season of fun!

Hello sunshine! This baby has been getting summer ready since last summer ended. I’ve been perfecting my toddler figure in my gym classes and watching what I eat…watching it all go yummy in my tummy! Now that summer is officially here, I’m ready to hit the beach and playground and frolic outside. But I simply couldn’t get by without these summer essentials:
I don’t leave home without a pair of these…this light-eyed baby is sensitive to the sun and must protect her baby blues. These shades are 100% UVA and UVB protected, stylish, and, best yet, come with a lifetime guarantee. So if I lose or break them, I get another pair…guaranteed. Not that I plan to do either but accidents happen. Given this, they are Elle Belle tested and Mommy approved.
Crocodile Creek Balls
Every kid at the playground needs a Crocodile Creek ball. Mommy once took me to the playground without one and I tried to take everyone else’s. Lesson learned. Crocodile Creek balls come in a variety of sizes depending on your whim—small enough to hold and play or large enough to kick and dodge. Although I must admit, even when I have mine, sometimes my friend’s balls are more interesting to bounce since they come in so many fun colors and designs.
Starting at $7.99,

Gazillion Bubbles
After seeing the Gazillion Bubble Show, there were no other bubbles this little lady could have. And what baby doesn’t love bubbles? I may not be able to blow a bubble big enough to fit inside, but these fun toys make me so happy. And it reminds me that bubbles give me the simplest pleasure while stimulating my mind. Mommy always has these bubbles on hand in case of an emergency. They instantly turn frowns upside down.
Starting at $4.39,

Green Toys Sand Play Set
This play set can keep this tiny toddler busy for hours (okay, minutes) on end. Equipped with a bucket, shovel, rake, and sand castle mold, I can dream up my perfect fairy tale castle and then use the tools on hand to build it in the sand. I can also store all of my sea shells and other treasures in my bucket. And Mommy told me not to share this…but you can also use the rake to comb your hair, the bucket as a drum, and the shovel as a drum stick…and so much more. It lets your imagination go wild. And as always with Green Toys, it’s made from environmentally friendly materials.

Honest Company Sunscreen
This natural, water-resistant, and unscented Honest sunblock keeps babies 6 months and older safe against the sun’s harmful rays. With the primary ingredient zinc oxide and UVA UVB SBP 30, it keeps out the bad rays without putting in any bad chemicals. I may still squirm and fight while Mommy slathers it on me, but it’s worth it to be able to play outside and be carefree of burning my delicate, snow white skin.

Huggies Little Swimmers
These disposable swim pants (okay, diapers) are a baby essential. It would be an awful mess if I jumped in the pool or playground fountain in my regular diaper. It would simply disintegrate. These strong swim diapers keep everything inside, plus they are comfy and stylish. They even have Nemo and other fun friends on themmaking them both cool and practical.
Price varies,

One Step Ahead Baby Spring Float Activity Center
This is the mac daddy of pool floats. Mommy almost got me a simpler one, but this was so worth it. It has an octopus with eight legs and different toys on each that I can play with or throw in the water. It has a UV canopy to protect me from the sun in case I toss my bonnet in the pool. And I can be in the water without Mommy having to hold me constantly. I could almost fall asleep while floating if I wasn’t busy having so much fun.

Skip Hop Central Park Outdoor Blanket
This blanket makes picnics a snap…literally. The spacious throw easily folds down, zips shut into a messenger, and can hang out on your stroller with your diaper bag. But when unzipped, it expands into a large (5’ x 5’) water-resistant picnic party blanket. It’s large enough to feast on and drive my toy car across. Plus, it scores extra Mommy points since it is PVC, BPA, and phthalate free.

Happiness is...

Happiness is...getting dizzy spinning in the tire swing!

Monday, June 3, 2013

A Baby's Dream Escape to Sesame Place

As seen in New York Family magazine:

Even though I’m just a tiny toddler, I’ve been down many city blocks. And last weekend, I found myself on the best one ever: Sesame Street! After a short car ride and accompanying nap, I woke up in an instant. I pinched myself to make sure that I wasn’t dreaming. This place was for real!

My stroller wheeled in under the Sesame Place sign and the magic began. I could see familiar places and all sorts of friendly faces coming my way. Just like on the TV show, I was first greeted by Murray. Between you and me, I might have cried a little at our meeting. Murray looks much bigger in person and the excitement was so overwhelming that I did shed a tear…or two or three…but I soon climbed back into my stroller and was ready for my sunny day Sesame style. Next, we saw Rosita and Zoe. I stayed safely tucked inside my stroller while they came by to smile and wave. We are BFFs now. Really! Even though Elmo is still my favorite.

We first stopped at Elmo’s eatery to get some lunch. Everywhere I looked I saw Elmo stuff! I got to eat yummy mac and cheese on an Elmo plate and Mommy had an Elmo cookie. Yum! We got souvenir cups with cool twisty straws. While sipping away, I looked out the window and saw a Sunny Day carousel. GG (that’s my grandma!) and Daddy let me ride and it was so much fun that I kept asking for more and more. We went on again and again. Whee!

We next stopped for a snack at the corner of Sesame Street by Hooper’s store. Cookie Monster must have been hungry because he came to visit…meaning he wanted to share our food. Mommy gave Cookie a high five and a big hug—and it made me jealous. So I ran up and did the same. Cookie said my hug was the best and he wasn’t even upset that I ate off an Elmo plate. Next, Grover walked by and we said say hi and gave high fives, too. I picked the best corner to have lunch. It was celebrity sighting central!

After getting yummy in my tummy, we went to see Elmo Rocks! It was a fanatic show starring my favorite pal Elmo, along with Zoe, Cookie Monster, Bert, and Ernie as they auditioned for a rock band. We all got to rock out to the music. To celebrate, there was colorful confetti everywhere and lots of fantastic dancing. I gave it a big round of applause by clapping over my head. How cool is that? We danced up an appetite just in time for snack time, so we went to Cookie’s Cafe where I shared a cupcake with Mommy. Delish!

Then it was off to the rides. Luckily, we never had to wait in a long line. While Big Bird’s Court was made for the under 5 set, this little daredevil wanted to enjoy some big-girl rides. I flew up in the air like a bird in the trees on Big Bird’s Balloon Race. Tweet tweet! And on Ernie’s Bed Bounce, I ran and jumped stronger and faster than the big kids. I wish my bed was that big and bouncy. Boink! There were so many great rides for kids of all ages that I had to skip my afternoon nap to fit it all in.
After that, we were off to another show, Elmo’s World, where my favorite Sesame Street segment was brought to life. Elmo, Mr. Noodle, and Dorothy taught us all about dancing. I was moving and grooving in my seat and then in the aisles chasing after Elmo. It was a whole new world being on a TV set. I’m such an A-list star now.

To confirm my A-list status, I was escorted into a VIP meet and greet with all of my Sesame Street friends. I mean, anyone who is anyone was there: Elmo, Abby, Cookie, Zoe, Big Bird, Super Grover, Count, Bert, Ernie, Zoe, Telly, and Prairie Dawn! I played it cool and hung out in my stroller and let everyone come say hi to me. But I had to get out of my stroller and squeal when Elmo came over. I totally lost my cool! But he gave me an extra hug and high five. I’m never going to wash that hand again. Well, as long as I can keep it away from Mommy. Before I knew it, they all wanted to take a group picture. It was off the charts special. More special than my recent tea party. During the photo, Elmo hugged me extra tight. His fur tickled! And I’m still seeing red!

But the best was yet to come. My Sesame friends were so jazzed by my visit that they put on a whole Neighborhood Street Party Parade just for me. Everyone in the park stopped to watch the spectacular sight. There were colorful floats, educational songs, and more. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, we went to Dine With Me where I had dinner with Elmo and friends. It was a disco party with singing and dancing. Now I get what happy hour is all about!

After conga lines, spectacular sing-alongs, and ice cream, the dinner hour came to an end (with great hugs and “see you again soon”s). I left the park clutching my new Elmo stuffie and didn’t even resist being plopped into my car seat. Before the car backed out of the parking lot and I could say bye-bye, I was sound asleep with visions of Sesame friends dancing in my head.

Happiness is...

Happiness is a sunny trip to sunny FL to see Grandma, Grandpop, and Auntie where I learned to say house, pool, and more!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Happiness is...

Happiness Mommy a big hug and watching it make her smile even bigger!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

It's a Tea Party in the City with Baby Elle Belle

As seen in New York Family magazine:

This little NYC lady shows that she’s passing big milestones quicker than her mommy can pass the milk!

Dream: I’m having tea with the Queen of England to discuss the upcoming addition to her family because she wants to make sure the baby is well understood and knows I’m the source for baby-parent translating. At her request, after staying up late at night for weeks on end in my crib, I’ve finally corrected all the mistakes about raising and caring for babies found on Wikipedia (in case the royal family uses the popular site as a resource). What a big job that was! I also read a lot of other interesting stuff on this Wiki thing, by the way. This tiny toddler is a sponge, soaking up all that I can and processing it later during my naps. At times, this leads to sleep walking and talking but it’s all for a noble cause. My constantly developing physical, mental, social, and emotional prowess now allow me to articulate what I want clearly and achieve physical feats beyond my years. I’m on an upward trajectory and there’s no slowing this burgeoning baby down!

Reality: I’m having tea with Mommy and Grandma at Lady Mendl’s tea salon. I can tell this is a rather fancy place because they wouldn’t let Mommy bring the clip-on high chair since there’s crystal and fine china set on the table. So the delightful staff hooked me up with a beautiful, new high chair that is secured to one of the lovely armchairs. I feel like royalty.

It’s so exciting that I’ve mastered the art of eating. Well, unless you want me to use a fork and spoon properly and drink from a cup that’s not a sippy cup. That will come later. For now, I prefer to use the water glasses as a receptacle to wash my hands and the utensils to drum and entertain the dining room.

During our tea, I wow Grandma by using a lot of my words and even try some new ones. I tell her that I’m an intelligent, sassy, sweet, and good girl. Really, I did. I at least said the good girl part unmistakably. My vocabulary is rapidly growing. Mommy notices every time we read books and I say the words with her (or if she asks me to repeat a word or tell her what something is and I do!). She is so proud and it makes her feel better that I pay attention. Sometimes Mommy doesn’t think I pay attention, but the truth is that I’m absorbing everything. I’m a very quick learner.

We’re enjoying our tea thoroughly and having all sorts of fancy fare. My favorites were the finger sandwiches. I ate them like a big girl. With my fingers. From a china plate! And I loved the scones with cream and preserves. I took a bite and then used my words to ask for more preserves for each bite and Grandma gave me more after I said please. I really am so well mannered. I even made sure to toast the special occasion by clanking my sippy cup with Mommy and Grandma’s tea cups to say cheers. And then I insisted on cheers with the teapot. It was extra special. But the most special was my fancy milk cup. Grandma used it to pour milk into her tea. What a mistake. The milk is perfect on its own. So I grabbed hold of the creamer (I think that’s what Grandma called it) and drank the milk pure and simple. If the Queen could see me now!

We finished the tea party with some cake and cookies. These tasty treats made for a fantastic finale. They saved the best for last. Being the adventurous eater that I am, and also mindful that I have to keep my milk belly growing, I tried at least one bite of each treat. Then I gave it to Grandma and Mommy to try bites, too. Mommy laughed and told Grandma how good I am at sharing. I was just glad she noticed.

Being the thoughtful baby that I am, I decided to pick up the tab. I reached for Mommy’s wallet and took out my favorite credit card, the one she had custom designed for me with Puppy on it. I waved it in the air with excitement, but the waiter came by and actually tried to take it. What nerve! Can you imagine? Mommy quickly got out another card instead. That was a close call!

We wrapped up our special tea party and wiped our hands and mouths clean. I wiped by myself but Mommy tried to help so I protested of course. I was already clean enough! I gave a round of applause for a terrific tea service and waved goodbye to all my fellow tea partiers. After taking a couple of family photos, we said thank you to the hostess and were on our way. As you can see, my social graces are unparalleled.

My physical accomplishments are pretty great, too, as I demonstrated by taking Mommy’s hand in mine and Grandma’s hand in the other, and climbing down the brownstone steps. I did it effortlessly and really didn’t need to hold their hands, but I know they like feeling needed. I used my big muscles to descend the steps and then hail a taxi.

I was ready for a nap after such an exhausting adventure in displaying all my passing milestones for Grandma. Plus, I was tea-partied out!