Best Items for Active Parents

useful camping items

We love camping, and this is a great time of year to head out to your favorite campsite (or find a new one to explore).  What to pack, besides your tent and sleeping bags? We have a few suggestions for the Best Items for Active Parents.

best flashlights

One of the most important things to bring with you is lighting. You don’t want to wonder what you are about to run into on a middle of the night bathroom run. Recently, VSSL Outdoor Utility Tools and Mountain Khakis came together to bring out a very cool camping torch that is also a survival tool kit. A powerful light when you need it, you can also unscrew the cap to find mini disks that have different tools one might find useful inside. Lightweight at only one pound and impact resistant, it comes with 12 tins inside, including the flashlight disk itself, instructions, a compass, water purification tablets, first aid supplies, and more. The flashlight has four modes of LED light on it as well- medium, high, red, and SOS.  Available for $130 at https://www.mountainkhakis.com

I don’t know about you, but I really don’t like to mess about with my hair when I’m camping or otherwise outdoors. Basically, I just want it kept out of the way. I really like Seirus, they offer a variety of options to keep you protected from the sun and as dry from sweat as can be in a no fuss manner. They have these multi-functional what they call “neck tubes” on the site, and that’s a pretty accurate description since that’s exactly what they look like. They can be worn around your neck to protect from the sun, around your head as a stay put headband that keeps the hair out of your face and sweat out of your eyes, a balaclava, and quite a few other ways to wear it- super versatile. They are quick drying, very breathable, and have a UPF of 25 built in. The site posts videos on the many ways to wear them- check it out. $19.99 at https://www.seirus.com
(more…)

Get Outdoors And Play This Summer

It’s beautiful outside these days, and we are spending as much time outdoors as humanly possible. If you are looking to get outside and play, here are some fun options.

spinner swing

A fun twist on the tire tree swing, the Super Spinner® is a “UFO shaped” (according to my 10 year old) disk swing that lets one or more kids (and even a parent) take a ride. It comes with “adjustable double-braided ropes and weather-resistant clips are designed for a safer, more comfortable ride” according to the manufacturer. Super Spinner can be suspended to swing and spin from trees, play sets, a porch beam or a secure structural beam wherever works for your family.

There are two sizes of Super Spinner currently available. The original Super Spinner is sized one or two little kids, and can hold up to 200 pounds. It is available in green, blue, red, purple, pink or  yellow. If you want a larger size, the Super Duper Spinner lets more kids and adults ride, and can hold up to 650 pounds. That size is available in hunter green alone.  Get yours for $49.99 – $89.99 at stores like Amazon or Target.

pool float

Heading to the pool? Grab a fun float and head out. Intex makes a really fantastic assortment of floats your family is sure to love- my kids love the Intex Inflatable Mega Unicorn this year- they are, in fact, mildly obsessed. They have brought it to friends’ houses, and all the kids have had a fun time floating about the pool on the very colorful, very magical, large floating unicorn. You’d think this is mostly girls, right? Wrong. The boys love it as well, and so do mom and dad. My partner and I like to have our turn as well- although in all honesty, that rarely happens.Intex’s mega-sized, oversized pool floats are a lot of fun, more durable then many, and worth the price at $29.99.  Mega Unicorn and also the new Peacock design are newly available this year. You can also get Mega Swan, Mega Flamingo, and Mega Duck Island Floats. Tough choices- you might end up with more then one of these floaties.
(more…)

Preoccupied With 1985? It’s OK, So Are We

It would be hard not to notice that our favorite toys from the 80’s are making a comeback- some of them really never went away, but are suddenly popping up everywhere, some are back seemingly from the grave.  Either way, this 80’s baby is now giving her child the same toys she grew up with (and usually getting a kick out of doing so).

product 10 12 14 001Lets start with Care Bears – a personal favorite of yours truly, and happily they didn’t distort the bears too much when they brought them back for a new generation.  So many times, you see the new versions of the toys and they are tall, way too skinny, with super long legs, big heads, and giant eyes.  Thank goodness some bears know how to “keep it real”.  The new bears are ultra plush, extra soft, and come in several sizes. The Care Bears continue their mission to teach kids responsibility, caring, sharing, empathy for others, and being a good friend. This is a big job for a little bear- good thing they still have magic “belly badges” should they need a little help from Care-a-lot. Available from $3-$25 in stores like Target and Amazon.com

product 10 12 14 018Doodle Bear was a favorite of nearly every kids I knew- I never had one, but always coveted them. Now that they are back again, you bet your bottom dollar I was ready to check them out and see how my own child liked them.  Doodle Bears are sweet and cuddly bears that you can create your own artwork on, then just wash and have a brand new canvas. When you wash the bears, place them in a pillowcase or “delicates” bag, and hang to dry. You can get the original Doodle Bear in three colors or the Glow Doodle Bear (where kids can doodle with light).  Doodle Bears each come with special washable markers (meant ONLY for Doodle Bear), Glow Doodle Bear also includes a magic light pen and stampers. Available for $20 and up at stores like Target and Amazon.com
(more…)

Fun With Superheros

With great power, comes great toys.  That’s how it goes, right?  Let’s go with it.   If you are looking to power up, check out these fun new playthings that have recently hit the stores.

seal stuff 012If you have a little one, chances are you have seen or heard of Paw Patrol- the hit TV show aimed at Pre-K and kindergarteners.  The show revolves around 6 puppies, Chase, Marshall, Rocky, Zuma, Rubble, and Skye. They have a human companion, a ten year-old boy who likes technology, named Ryder. They work together as a team, solve problems, and help creatures and the environment while showing kids cooperation skills. Now the pups are available as toys, from plush to action figures and even vehicles (which play a large part in the show).  The “Racers” are also lots of fun, because they each come with one vehicle and one pup, and have real working wheels that even small kids can use for push and race fun.  If your child is a fan of the show or of animals in general, these super-pups will be a fun treat for them.  Available for $7.99 and up at Amazon, Target, and more.

seal stuff 027

P1010812

It’s always a good time for LEGOS. Some of the latest superheros variety include Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Guardians of the Galaxy, and the Lego Movie- full of heroes.  Some of our current favorites include the LEGO Marvel Super Heroes Knowhere Escape Mission and the Guardians of the Galaxy Starblaster Showdown, both featuring the characters from Guardians Of The Galaxy. The Knowhere Escape Mission is a fairly large set, great for bigger kids or collectors. It has 433 pieces, and comes with 3 minifigures and weapons- Rocket Raccoon, Nebula and the Sakaaran, as well as a Groot figure.  Star Blaster Showdown comes with 196 pieces, 3 figures, weapons, and more (features handcuffs as well, which is pretty cool and somewhat unique). About $40 and $20, respectively.
(more…)

Sometimes, You Gotta Get Away. Take these with you!

Disclosure- I received the below in order to facilitate my reviews. All opinions are my own and honest.

So you are taking a trip with the kids.  Whether you are taking a road trip or hopping on a plane, you will need to keep the kids , safe, occupied, and at least a little bit quiet if you plan on staying sane.  Here are some fun new take-alongs for your next trip.

6 20 14 and waterparks 212

First up comes the packing.  If you are like most parents, you become a pack mule, dragging luggage, laptops, and lovies all over creation.  Do it as easily as possible with something lightweight and durable, like the Delsey Helium line.  In 3 sizes, with 4 wheels that pivot and turn in all directions (which makes the lugging oh so much easier) it is “featherweight” luggage.  This is easier on your back, as well as great for packing, since we all know the airlines are fairly evil about the weights of baggage and trying to get every nickel out of you that they can.  Take that, TSA!  In both standard and brightly colored styles, it is quite durable.  My bag made it on 16 flights, 9 boats, and almost 20 trains and still looks pretty good.  The split book opening makes packing easy, and it comes equipped with a TSA approved lock.  From $160 and up on http://shop.delsey.us

Norway, Packing, Products (canon small cam) 215The Day Traveler line from Eagle Creek is and has been a favorite of mine- durable, lightweight, and easy to tote around, there are tons of options and your money is well spent- these bags LAST.  My new favorite, won’t leave without it bag is the Site Seeing Tablet Courier, which you can pack a surprising amount into.  Water resistant, so no worries about spilled drinks or rainstorms, lockable, and with RFID blocking technology ( which protects your personal information), it makes it so easy to travel light.  It has 3 pockets that zip of various sizes and depths, and can carry phones, tablet, wallet, sunglasses, and more.  It’s just a perfect size bag for all your travel needs. $45 at http://shop.eaglecreek.com
(more…)

Avoid Summer Brain Drain

Now that summer’s here and the kids are home, parents are looking for ways to keep their little one’s minds sharp over break. While activity books, worksheets, and reading are all important to keep learning locked in, there are fun toys you can add into the mix that kids will enjoy playing (er, learning) with.  Hey, as long as they go back to school ready, willing, and able, that’s all that matters.

pic7

Telly the Teaching Time Clock is perfect for kids learning to tell time.  No matter if your child is just starting, or trying to perfect his or her skill, this cute clock will be a fun teaching tool.  You can teach your kids both analog and digital time, which is hard to find on the same teaching clock.  There is also a “quiz mode”, where Telly will ask children to match the time shown on his face by moving the hands on his (literal) face. Bonus- Telly is a real, fully functional, working clock, making him perfect for a child’s bedroom.  He comes with three AA batteries, and sells for $28 on http://www.tlji.com

Product and Doll pics 006

Use the Magnetic Spell and Learn Board to teach your kids letters, sounds, and spelling- this is a good tool for a variety of learners and abilities. Some of the  magnets have short words and pictures of the words on them, which encourages children to sound out the word, and spell it for themselves using the magnet letters. Grow their spelling as well as phonics skills while also developing early vocabulary abilities. The board and interlocking magnets make putting words together easy, and since there is a storage compartment, keeping it all together until next time is a breeze.  No one likes lost pieces, and and most parents love things that are easy to clean up and keep track of.  Available for $20 on http://www.tlji.com
(more…)

Keeping Kids Occupied in the Kitchen

 

Got little kids?  We all know that making meals can be one of the hardest time of the day- both because the kids want all your attention, all the time, and because keeping kids clean and participating in meals is never an easy task.

One of the best ways to keep kids busy in the kitchen is to give them something to keep them occupied- if you are cooking, why not let them “help”?  You could give them a real pot and put some water and etc in it, but that can be messy.  If you have smaller kids, you can give them pretend food to “cook” with at the kitchen table while you make dinner at the counter or next to them.  There are some great and realistic sets available now, made in felt, ceramic, plastic, and wood.

pic8

Melissa and Doug make many varieties, in both wood and felt. You can choose not only the set(s) that you prefer, but the material as well.  Some of the sets include a sandwich making set, which will keep kids entertained with the variety of items they can make.  The pieces (available in felt or wood sets) are stuck together with either bits of velcro, or the felt sticks to itself.  It comes with a wooden knife (that isn’t sharp, of course) and items like bread, rolls, lunchmeat, pickles, hamburger, and more.  To make sure your child gets their pretend fruits and veggies into their diet (and maybe encourage eating them in real life and at mealtimes) check out the Cutting Fruit Set.  The food makes a fun “crunch” noise when kids “cut” it with the included wooden knife.  Included are seven pieces of various fruits that can be sliced into seventeen pieces.  Of course, putting them together (or mixing them up into their own creations) is just as much fun as making the fruit salad for dessert. The sets come in their own wooden storage crates, for $20 on http://www.melissaanddoug.com
(more…)

It’s Raining Super-Men

Disclosure: The below was provided for me in order to facilitate my review. All opinions are my own and honest. I am disclosing this in accordance to FTC Guidelines. Please see “Disclose” tab for more information.

The little, plastic kind- sorry ladies.  While that may be bad news if you are shopping for a husband, it’s great news if you are shopping for a son, nephew, or superhero loving child.  There are toys to go with movie blockbusters, TV shows, cartoons, and even a few just because.  What’s hotter then a superhero, really?  For kids, I mean.  Toys. Totally.

pic8

Why is it so many superheros seem to have multiple personality disorders?  They want to save the world, they are distraught and angry, they are filled with angst, they feel responsible, they feel lonely, they push people away, they cling to friends, they occasionally go off the rails (I’m looking at you, Spiderman) etc etc etc.  Now, you can intentionally confuse your superheros- well, those in the Marvel Universe, anyway- by mashing them up with other heroes and villains.  Take the head of Iron Man, the body of Thor, the legs of Hulk, and the arms of Dr. Doom and make your own super-confused-super-humans.  Actually, maybe it IS a good way to shop for a man….Well, there you go.  Fun for kids, for fun superhero enthusiasts, and fun for mom.  What’s not to love?  Prices range from $10 – $20 on http://www.hasbro.com, also available in most stores that sell toys.

3 21 14 080

Got a kid who is really into Power Rangers?  Or perhaps just waxing nostalgic yourself.  The Power Rangers have morphed through more sets of super-rangers since it’s origins in 1992 then I care to shake a stick at, were I inclined to shake sticks.  (19 seasons and nearly 100 Rangers total later, the show is still going strong.)  My little brother watched the original Rangers back in the stone age when I was a kid, and I once dressed up as “Tommy, the Green Ranger” at a birthday party which confused all the kids at the McDonalds I was working at, since Tommy is not really a girl.  Hey- I was the only one short enough to fit into the costume on that shift that day.  The Power Rangers are an institution, and going nowhere. They are still making movies and TV episodes, and my son and his friends look forward to the new toys as much as my little brother did a thousand years ago.  So, what’s new in Power Rangers?  The Legacy MegaZord is a return to the original, after celebrating 20 years of Power Rangers saving the world.  This latest Megazord has all the original details from the first toy, but improves it with diecast metal pieces for durability. It comes with a Ranger Key that can be used to open it’s chest. Good for collectors and fans of the current show alike. The Mystic Dragon Zord and Green Ranger set is also inspired by past seasons, and connects to other parts of the Zord Builder collection.   Any 4 inch figure or Power Ranger Key can work with the Dragon Zord, and it comes with one Power Ranger Key as well as the Green Ranger.  The Legacy Megazord and Mystic Dragon Zord can be used together. Roughly $35 and $16 depending on your place of purchase.
(more…)