Friday, December 23, 2011

Nursing Accessories?

"Do you know of any accessories for nursing in public?"

Last week during our visit from Preggers at our Community Corner, we couldn’t get enough of Maternal America’s Original Nursing Scarves. Even the girls without babies were inquiring about this super soft and stylish accessory. As a mom myself, I can tell you that convenience is its best feature. You can wear it all day long, and it's right there when you need to nurse to give you and your little one some privacy. Even better, you can look super chic and feel comfy while you are nursing anywhere, anytime!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chalk Polar Bear

Brrrrrrr! It's so chilly outside in Chicago. I suggest making a large cup of hot cocoa to drink while you paint your watercolor polar bear! This is an easy winter art project that looks great on the fridge!

  • 1 piece of watercolor paper
  • Blue watercolor paint
  • Paintbrush
  • 1 piece of white chalk
  1. Paint watercolor paper blue. Let dry. 
  2. Draw on top of paper with chalk the design of your choice. Have fun!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Week EIGHT: Recap!

It was a holiday fiesta in Taste Buddies today. We made veggie chimichangas, nachos, and seasoned popcorn. We even took home candy canes for an extra surprise! Thank you to everyone for a great session.  I can't wait to see you next year!

I love this recipe because you can use any veggies you have in the fridge. You can substitute whole wheat tortillas for an extra healthy meal!

We talked about about the difference between kidney beans and black beans today with our Taste Buddies. We also learned about cumin and how to season nachos with it. What a tasty snack!

SEASONED POPCORN:I love this recipe for children. They have so much fun shaking the popcorn bags to mix the seasonings. It's also fun to make lots of different flavors and have your child pick their favorite! Seasons' greetings!

Week EIGHT: Veggie Chimichangas, Nachos and Seasoned Popcorn

  • 1 chopped squash
  • 1 chopped zucchini
  • 1 chopped tomato
  • 1 diced onion
  • 4 whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 cup of salsa
  • 1 cup of shredded Colby jack cheese
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  1. Brush outside of tortillas with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. 
  2. Sautée onions, zucchini, and squash in remaining olive olive oil until soft.
  3. Place sautéed veggies and tomato inside tortillas. 
  4. Sprinkle with cheese.  
  5. Pour on salsa. 
  6. Bake at 400°F for 10 minutes. Enjoy!

  • 1 cup whole tomatoes, strained
  • 1 cup corn kernels (or canned corn)
  • 1 cup kidney beans, strained
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin, ground
  • 1 teaspoon paprika, ground
  • 1 teaspoon onion flakes
  • 1-2 bacon strips, diced
  • 1-2 cups cheddar, monterey jack, or Mexican blend cheese
  • 1 bag corn chips
  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F, spray an oven tray with cooking spray and line with corn chips.
  2. Cook the diced bacon until warmed through and set to one side.
  3. In a large bowl, add strained tomatoes and crush with your hands to make a lumpy sauce. 
  4. Add corn, beans, cumin, paprika onion flakes, salt, pepper and bacon pieces.
  5. Give the mixture a good stir. You may need to drain a little of the liquid off, depending on your tomatoes.
  6. With a slotted spoon, place mixture on top of the corn chips, then follow with cheese.Pop into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese melts.

  • 4 cups hot, popped, plain popcorn
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pinch dried oregano
  • 1 pinch dried basil
  • 1 pinch dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  1. In a large Ziploc bag, drizzle popcorn with olive oil.
  2. Add cheese and spices.  Seal bag.
  3. Shake until well-mixed.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bubbles Staff Picks for Holiday Stories

It's the Holiday Season!  The halls are decked and we're surrounded by sugar plums here at the Academy.  No matter what holiday you celebrate in your house, there are great books out there for your little bookworm, and lots of ways to make reading a tradition in your family.

In the Emmerich household, we all snuggled into bed with our brand new "embarrassing Christmas pajamas" to read The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg every year.  We started that tradition when I was just a wee one like your bookworm, and we still read it to this day.

I asked the rest of the staff at Bubbles about some of their favorite holiday reading recommendations.  Here's what they said:

  • Art guru Miss Meghean always associates Puss in Boots and Angelina's Christmas by Katharine Holabird with the holidays.
  • Our Office Manager, Miss Kate, recommends Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric A. Kimmel.  She couldn't believe she remembered it, but has many fond memories!
  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats is a favorite of our Bees teacher, Miss Victoria, and her siblings.
  • "I remember I really liked the pictures in the The Snowman [by Raymond Briggs]," says our Art and Music Teacher, Miss Sam.
  • Our Membership Coordinator, Miss Megan, loves The Biggest Christmas Tree Ever by Steve Kroll.
  • Bubbles Academy's owner, Gregoire Klees-Johnson, loves the classic tale of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  There's a great picture book version of the claymation classic!
Feel free to comment and let us know your holiday book favorites. Happy Holidays, and happy reading!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Mimijumi Bottles at Urba Baby

"What's this new Community Corner all about, anyway?"

Our new Community Corner at Bubbles Academy is committed to connecting moms and dads with local organizations to meet the needs of their family.  We invite local vendors to bring items from their stores to share with our families so parents can meet local businesses while their children have a blast in Open Play! 

During a Community Corner visit from Urba Baby last week, I was struck by how carefully they have chosen the product lines they carry in their store.  One product in particular that I thought I should highlight is the Mimijumi Bottle.  It was obvious to me that these bottles were created with the help of a mother. Both “The Hungry Bottle” and “The Not So Hungry Bottle” were designed to look and be as soothing as a mother’s breast, which make the transition from breast to bottle much easier.  Of course they are BPA and latex free, and they even have a bit of style.  They also have a specific ventilation system to help babies with colic.  Best of all, they are dishwasher-safe! 

You can come see Urba Baby at our Community Corner on Monday, December 19, or visit their store at 1117 W. Armitage Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Glitter Menorah!

Happy Holidays! We are celebrating Hanukkah today at Bubbles Academy, and next week we will be celebrating Christmas. Today in class we learned about dreidels and menorahs. We celebrated the Festival of Lights by making our very own menorahs out of tissue and construction paper. Happy Hanukkah!

  • Yellow and blue construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Multi-colored tissue paper squares
  • Glitter
  • Glue
  1. Using a pencil, sketch an outline of a menorah on yellow construction paper. 
  2. Cut menorah out with scissors. 
  3. Glue menorah onto construction paper and decorate with tissue paper. 
  4. Make small glue dots above menorah and sprinkle with glitter to represent the flames. 
  5. Have fun with your sparkly menorah!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Week SEVEN: Recap!

The gloomy rain in Chicago could not stop us from cooking today in Taste Buddies. We bake rain or shine! It was a cozy menu today with hummus salad, spaghetti cupcakes and thumbprint cookies. We even served a little bit of hot chocolate at the end, just for kicks!

I love, love, LOVE hummus. Rather than just eating it by itself, I prefer to dip veggies in it so I can get some vitamins at the same time. We dipped carrots and celery into hummus and served it on a lettuce leaf.  I think hummus tastes wonderful with radishes as well, and using a dip is a fun way to introduce a new veggie into your little one's life.

This is a great way to change up an everyday meal. Kids love to eat cupcakes, so why not make them a main meal instead of a dessert? You can do this with any pasta, but spaghetti and macaroni are great to use because they mold easily into the cupcake wrappers.

I think these are a great winter dessert with hot chocolate. You can put jam or a chocolate kiss in the middle as well if you want to make them extra sweet. We just served them plain with hot chocolate today. They are great cookies for dipping in a hot drink!

Week SEVEN: Hummus Salad, Spaghetti Cupcakes and Thumbprint Cookies

  • Lettuce
  • Hummus
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  1. Spread hummus on lettuce leaf. 
  2. Chop carrots and celery. 
  3. Lay veggies on top of hummus. Enjoy!


  • 8 ounces spaghetti, cooked and drained
  • 4 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups pasta sauce
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded                
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Grease 12-cup muffin pan; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine spaghetti, eggs, parmesan cheese, and pepper.
  4. Press mixture into muffin cups to form a crust.
  5. Top each cup with pasta sauce, then mozzarella cheese.
  6. Bake 15 minutes or until bubbling. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 lb butter
  1. Cream butter and sugar.
  2. Add flour, mix well.
  3. Roll out and cut into desired shapes, place on parchment paper.
  4. Bake at 350°F until pale golden.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"Tacky the Penguin" by Helen Lester, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger

Let's face it: ever since the movie Happy Feet, penguins are "in"!  They are also at the top of the list when I poll my classes for "favorite animal."  Who doesn't love those dapper little tuxedos?  I personally think that toddlers find a kinship with penguins because they share that adorable waddle!  If your little bookworm is penguin-crazy, this week's book is for you.  It's one of my absolute favorites:  Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger.  It's a great book about being yourself!

Bring your little waddler out to Bubbles to hear Miss Becca read Tacky the Penguin at Open Play Storytime on Thursday at 4:00!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Child-Friendly Theatre?

"Can you recommend any cultural events around the city that are fun for the whole family?"

One of my favorite places to take little ones is the theatre! You should not miss this season's Chicago Children's Theatre musical version of the beloved story "Goodnight Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown. Fun tunes will be played by live musicians, and of course, beautiful, colorful scenery will bring the
pages of this book to life onstage at Victory Gardens Theatre.
  It promises to keep the entire audience awake!

For more info, visit:

Victory Gardens
2433 N. Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, 60614
(773) 871-3000
October 27 - December 23.
Tuesday through Friday at 10:15 A.M.; Saturday and Sunday at 11:00 A.M. and 3:00 P.M.                              
Cost: $25 children; $35 adults

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Week SIX: Recap!

We explored new terrain in Taste Buddies today with a menu that consisted of Falafel, Roasted Sweet Potato Salsa, and Cheesecake Bites.  Everything was delicious, but I have to give a special shout out to the Roasted Sweet Potato Salsa. It is my new favorite dish, and would be a great recipe to make for a holiday party!

I absolutely adore this recipe. I think the lime juice really adds to it, and the cilantro complements the flavors, too. This is one of those dishes you can make for any occasion. I highly recommend it, and so do the Taste Buddies!

We tried a new dish in Taste Buddies, and it was so fun to make.   We rolled it into balls, which reminded me of playing with play dough! This is a great dish that your kids can help you make.

These are so delicious, and they are a great crowd-pleaser. The only problem with this recipe was that the wafers kept disappearing before we were able to pour the cheesecake on top.  I can't imagine where they went!

Week SIX: Roasted Sweet Potato Salsa, Falafel and Cheesecake Bites

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 red onion, diced small
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium tomato, diced small
  • 1 avocado, diced small
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • Coarse salt
  • Pita chips
  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Toss together sweet potato, onion and olive oil. Roast until sweet potato is tender (20 minutes).  Let cool.
  3. Add tomato, cilantro, lime juice and coarse salt. Toss mixture. 
  4. Serve with pita chips!


  • 1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • Ranch dressing (optional)
  • Olive oil
  • Lettuce
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F with a baking sheet in it, to ensure the underside of the falafel balls get browned.
  2. Combine chickpeas, garlic, onion, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper (to taste) in medium bowl. 
  3. Add flour and tahini and combine well.
  4. Mash chickpeas, making sure to mix ingredients together into thick paste.
  5. Form the mixture into small balls, about the size of a ping pong ball.  Flatten slightly.
  6. Paint falafel balls with olive oil.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until falafels are a nice golden brown. 
  8. Let cool before serving in lettuce wraps topped with tahini sauce (or a little ranch dressing).

  • 16 vanilla wafer cookies
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. 
  2. Line muffin pans with cupcake papers.
  3. Place one wafer cookie in the bottom of each cupcake paper. 
  4. In a medium bowl, cream together cream cheese and sugar. 
  5. Beat in eggs and vanilla until smooth. 
  6. Pour over wafers in cupcake papers.
  7. Bake in preheated oven 15 minutes, until golden and set.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"Polar Bear and the Rainbow" by Moira Butterfield, illustrated by Sanja Rescek

I saw snow today!  That means that winter is finally here.  Winter is the perfect time of year to snuggle up with your little Bookworm, a cup of cocoa, and this week's book: Polar Bear and the Rainbow, written by Moira Butterfield and illustrated by Sanja Rescek.

This sparkly book follows Ben the polar bear, who is tired of being the same color as his mom, his sister, and the snowy world around him.  In his quest to be anything but white, he finds himself pink like the sunset, but only until the sun goes down.  He turns blue in the ocean, but is white again when he hops out on shore.  Despite his rainbow dreams, Ben has little hope of being anything but white.  Then the discovery of a happy white snowman, his natural skill at hide-and-seek, and the beauty of snowflakes makes Ben realize he likes himself just the way he is!  

While Moira Butterfield's story is simple and heartwarming, it is Sanja Rescek's illustrations that make this book snuggle-worthy.  The lovely watercolor illustrations are whimsical with a soft cartoon feel, and to top it off, they're embellished with glitter on every page!  I know your little one will enjoy rubbing his or her fingers on each page to see where the bumpy glitter is.  Worry not, this special sealed glitter stays on the page, not on your hands.  My favorite page features the animal friends staring at the beautiful falling snow.  At first glance, the page appears plain, but if you run your finger along the tiny flakes, you'll feel the bumpy glitter.  A simple tilt of the book makes each snowflake shine- a magical book for a magical time of year!

Warm up at Open Play Story Time when Miss Becca reads Polar Bear and the Rainbow this Thursday at 4:00pm!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Stress-Free Clothes Shopping

"Shopping with little ones can be so difficult- how can I find cute clothes for my child without the stress of shopping?"

If you know me, then you know that there is nothing more enjoyable for me than buying clothing for my little girl.  I have scoured the web looking for cute frocks for her to wear, and by far the best site I have found is A Child's Closet.  They have just about every designer out there for boys' and girls' clothing and shoes.  They have great sales, too- and shipping is always free!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Glitter Polar Bear!

Did you know that polar bears' skin is really black?
They are covered in protective transparent hairs that reflect the sun, making them appear white. This is slightly difficult to mimic in a craft, so we decided to cover our polar bears on glitter instead. Glitter + polar bear = awesome.

  • 1 paper plate
  • Silver glitter
  • Torn newspaper squares
  • Glue
  • 1 piece of white construction paper
  • 1 piece of black construction paper
  • 2 sticker eyes


  1. Cut two ears out of white construction paper and a black nose. 
  2. Cover paper plate with glue. 
  3. Glue newspaper squares on plate and cover them with glue as well. 
  4. Sprinkle with glitter and glue on eyes, ears, and nose. 
  5. Let dry. Put on fridge for some holiday cheer!