Gifts for the Active Men in Your Life #GiftGuide

If you are anything like us, you want to be active and outside as much as possible. Colder weather complicates things, but not to worry. You can get outdoors and enjoy your vitamin D year round, just bundle up a bit. Check out these functional and eco friendly cool-weather options we are loving right now- they would be perfect for the active men in your life this holiday season.

eco friendly clothing

Stopping off at Trader Joe’s on the way home- active wear that is great as any wear

The perfect slip on shoe for indoors or out, the Original Stegmann is not only comfortable, but also functional. They are great for camping, running errands, and everything in between. They have fantastic arch and toe support, so if you have aching feet, issues like Plantar Fasciitis, or a bad back, these might be worth considering. They have free shipping and exchanges, so nothing to lose. Made with a Tyrolian & Merino wool blend into a single piece, it is then paired with an anatomically contoured cork sole that is balanced for both arch and metatarsal support. These shoes have a gentle slope which helps reduce ankle and back pain as well. These shoes as a whole are designed for comfort, so if that’s your thing- and honestly, whose isn’t- check them out at https://www.stegmannusa.com . Prices vary.

A brand we have really fallen in love with over here is Mountain Khakis. Not only are the products soft and durable, but the environmentally friendly fabrics and practices have completely won us over.  Take for example the Rainmaker Jacket. It’s all sorts of wet-proof (rain, snow, mud, etc), and it’s strechy as well. It’s also warmer then some raincoats, without being swelteringly-sticky-hot like so many can be. A nice medium-to lightweight, and easily layered. It has a removable hood, with welded seams and snap-closed patch pockets.  It has a relaxed fit and hits about the hip area. Best part? The eco-friendliness of this jacket. Polyurethane is a greener alternative to the traditional raincoat’s vinyl. It’s also more durable and is better for the environment in long term care and use. Polyurethane does not require the chemicals used to soften vinyl in the manufacturing process, and is eventually biodegradable, where as PVC (vinyl) never breaks down, and is usually incinerated.  This leaches toxins into landfills and emits carcinogenic dioxin into the air. Any reason to choose PVC over PU? Not in my book. Check out https://www.mountainkhakis.com for your jacket, available in several colors, for $139.
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Love To Travel? You Will Love These Bags

If you love to travel as much as we do, then you will love these bags. Good for overnights and weekends at Grandma’s, they are just as useful for long trips.

have sippy will travel

The National Geographic luggage line by Eagle Creek is extremely durable, with weatherproof tarpaulin outer that makes the pack easy to wipe clean both inside and out. What’s not to love about that? Especially if you have kids- but anything you are dragging around is bound to get dirty, all the better if it’s easy to clean up. Since it’s easy to clean, it makes sense that the zippers are water resistant (and self repairing!). These lockable zippers have protection from thieves, wind, water, and more. It has a laptop compartment that can also be locked, as well as zippered mesh pockets and key fob. You can separate your dirty or wet items from clean items and main compartment with the front zipper compartment, and there is even a hidden space for your passport, wallet, phone- whatever items you want to keep close and safe.  Designed to be secure, it has compression straps, internal gear attachment, D rings, and it comes with an emergency whistle and spots that reflect light to help keep you visible.  Several types of bags available, prices vary, see https://www.eaglecreek.com/national-geographic for options.

The Wayfinder Waist Packs from Eagle Creek has been crazy useful, I’ve used it pretty much nonstop. It comes in two sizes, small and medium, and it’s great for going hands free. And shoulder free- I get so tired of dragging stuff around on my back sometimes, and it’s often inconvenient. Biking, climbing, kayaking, whatever. If you only have a few things to take with you, the Wayfinder is perfect. High capacity, quite a few compartments and zippers for organization, water resistant, and just all around easy. The water resistant coating? It’s made from recycling the PVB coating in windshields. Really. It also makes them stain resistant, which any parent or traveler will love. $30-$40 at https://www.eaglecreek.com
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Products For Your Home You Will Love

With winter on the way, and fall finally here (thank goodness for the end of that scorching summer heat!), we are going to be spending more time indoors. Keeping that in mind, here are some interesting and useful new items that you can use year round.

Calamityware serving-ware brings whimsy and art to the dinner table. These fantastical porcelain-plates will also serve as conversation starters, with hidden pictures created by Calamityware and artist Don Moyer. These clever takes on flatware are both pretty and unique, while using a traditional blue and white color scheme. Unexpectedly decorated plates, mugs, and more are covered with depictions of sea monster creatures, giant robots, frogs, and more creatures from sci-fi.  Dishwasher and microwave safe, they are as functional as they are interesting. While they aren’t cheap- $42 for each plate, for example, they make your table a more fun place to dine. Check out all the options at  https://calamityware.com

dinner plates

Save money and single-use-plastic waste by filling and refilling water glasses and  bottles at home. Safe Home Drinking Water Test Kits help provide peace of mind, letting you know what’s in your water. Learn about your tap water with these helpful and easy to use home test kits. Test your water, and make sure that your family’s health is protected.  There is a lot of nonsense in most town’s water nowadays, find out if there is trouble with yours. 80% of the body is water, and you use it for everything- cooking, bathing, drinking, washing, and more. It’s vital to have safe water.  According to the brand, “Safe Home® and Safe Home® Pro EnviroTestKits from Environmental Laboratories, Inc. (ELI), one of North America’s largest EPA Certified Laboratories for testing drinking water, provides several testing options in three easy steps.  Upon receiving the results, you’re empowered to make appropriate decisions – for instance, installing a water treatment or filtration system or disinfecting your well system, among other solutions.”  They are easy to use, the directions take only about a minute to complete and are all but foolproof. There are options for test at home as well as sending a sample out for more detailed information. For more information, visit http://envirotestkits.com/drinking-water-test-kits/
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Cute New Interactive Toys and Take Alongs

With summer coming to a close, you might be trying to get a few more road trips in, and as much outdoor time as possible. These fun items are sure to please even the pickiest members of the family.

cat toys

Pomsies are too cute, your kids will love them. While they might be aimed at girls, we all know that gender marketing is ridicules and that kids pick what they like- my son and his friends liked playing with Pomsies, as well as my daughter.  These wearable and interactive pets could be the next Fingerlings, who knows. They are really sweet- they are like a wearable Furby. Available since July in all major retailers for about $15, they have a long fuzzy tail that can be wrapped around your wrist, suitcase, backpack or whatever your child feels works for them. Pomsies have eyes that light up and change color to express their mood, such as being hungry, silly, happy, or giving 50 reactions when you play with them. They purr when you interact with them (which you can feel), and love it when you brush them with their included brush. These are super cute, and not too pricey. I’m thinking you and your kids will like these quite a bit- we do.

For the exact opposite of Pomsies, check out Grumblies. Much like your cranky 2 year old, there is no pleasing a Grumblies. I think these are plural no matter how you are speaking about them…LOL. Grumblies are short-tempered trouble makers who don’t want to hear a word about it. Grumblies have more then 40 reactions when you play with them, but unlike Furbies or Pomsies, you can’t cuddle or nurture Grumblies. The more you play with them, the angrier they get. Each Grumblies have it’s own personality and sounds that it makes. $20 at major retailers.
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Astronaut Training Experience® (ATX) at Kennedy Space Center

Your Child’s Dream of Space Travel is HERE!

We have all imagined what it might be like to go into space, to land on Mars, to be an astronaut. Now at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida you and your family can live it.

Learning about science and space is important, but experiencing the trials and actively participating in simulations of life on another planet gives education a whole new perspective. There are two parts to the new program, the Astronaut Training Experience (ATX) and Mars Base 1. These are both are pretty much all day events, though there are shorter options available should you prefer. Keep that in mind because you will want to give yourself plenty of time for each, and time to explore the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

space center

Astronaut Training Experience® (ATX)

The virtual reality Walk-on-Mars, Land-and-Drive-on-Mars full-motion simulator, Launch Mission and Spacewalk Training are all part of the ATX. This experience is hands on and high tech. If you or your children already love science and have a fascination with space, this will bring that passion to life. Prepare for your mission to Mars by training like a real NASA astronaut headed to space. Once you have been through ATX, Kennedy Space Center has taken it one step further with Mars Base 1. Ever wanted to take a space walk? How about a zero-gravity experience, where you fix space equipment like a real astronaut would? You and your team are strapped into special seats just like the real thing and you are handed tools to maintain the equipment you need to function day to day in space, using NASA techniques to solve problems. Navigate Mars terrain to deliver needed goods in your own space rover- be careful, it can get very bumpy. Don’t worry, you receive training so your skills are up to par before you are sent on these harrowing missions.
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Summer Fun In New York With the Family

There is a lot to do in New York with the kids this summer, no matter what your interests are. From waterparks to Broadway shows, indoor or outdoor activities, you and your crew will find much to do in the Empire State.

When it’s hot, but you still want want to be outdoors, why not consider a water park? Splish Splash Waterpark is a great place to spend the day as a family in the heat of the summer. Waterparks should be high on the summer “to do” list, and this is one of the best spots in the area.  There are lots of options for kids of all ages, with smaller splash or wade pools for smaller kids (scaled down pools and slides, little swings, spray parks, etc) in several varieties so that everyone can have fun and enjoy themselves. The bigger the kid, the more places they can play- but of they are too big, they can’t play in the small kid areas, so that the little ones don’t have to worry about being trampled.  Some favorites were Mutiny Bay, which puts your family in brightly colored boats, letting riders use water-spray “cannons” to blast other boats while those outside the ride can blast those inside the boats- and get sprayed themselves. Abyss Tube Slides were a favorite with all the kids, twisting and and turning your way down the enclosed slides. So was Bootleggers run, which holds up to four at a time in a tandem raft.  “Climb aboard a four-man raft that actually goes uphill with new generation hydromagnetic technology. It flies like a roller coaster without rails. So much fun, it just may be illegal!”says the park.  It really did seem as much like a roller coaster as it did like a tube ride, it was very cool. There are also favorites like wave pools and “lazy rivers”, and so much more.  Head over to SplishSplash.com and get your tickets soon, summer will be over before you know it.

luna park

 

Coney Island, a “must” for locals and tourists alike, is a great place to beat the summer heat, or at least lean into it somewhat gracefully. A go to spot for generations, each season changing slightly, adding more rides, keeping new and fresh while still appealing to the nostalgia of days past. Just steps from the boardwalk, there is a beach with a clean shore and big open ocean.  For the animal lovers, there is the New York Aquarium just a little ways down, which also has a wonderful seal show that should not be missed.  For the adventurous types, there are big thrill rides at Luna Park which include 7 roller coasters like the classic wooden Coney Island Cyclone.  For the littler park goers, there are tons of attractions and rides at Luna Park like the Happy Swing and Magic Bikes. This year, Luna Park has also opened new rides Cozmo Jet and Coney Clipper, so even if you have been before, there is a great excuse to go again.
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Too Hot To Work Out? Work In. Inside, Anyway.

When it’s just too hot to work out outside, you can take your workouts inside. Don’t have a gym membership, or just REALLY not in the mood to go out? Just keep some DVDs in the house so you can stay on track. Here are some new ones we tried out.

Bottom Line & A Core Defined with Patricia Friberg (a professional trainer) is a Pilates and Strength based workout broken into three segments; Bottom Activation 1, 2, and A Core Defined. These and a few guides, set ups, and an intro make up the DVD. It focuses on defining your butt (as the name indicates) but also works your core, improves posture, and helps you become more flexible and fit. While it definitely focus on the glutes, you will feel this workout in your abs and legs as well for sure.  You will likely want to do the first activation a few times before you move on to the second, just to get the hang of it or to get your body ready for the higher intensity. A Core Defined covers more of the body overall, but really focuses on the abs. Friberg gives good direction throughout, just keep pace that is comfortable to you and move on when you are ready. Available for $20 from http://www.patriciafriberg.com

Want to work your lower body? Want to work out, but in a bit of a time crunch? Your Sexy Everything (Booty, Legs, Thighs) by Ilyse Baker might be one to try out. I know it says “everything”, but it means everything below the Mason Dixon, it seems. It has a good variety of workouts, containing four mini workouts that are 5, 6 ,7, and 8 minutes long each as well as two bonus workouts- Ballet Grooves, a 5 minute core workout (and it’s fun) as well as the Dancer’s Floor Stretch (seeing a theme here?) that is 10 minutes of lengthening, flexibility enhancing stretching and toning. $15 at http://ilysebaker.com/
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Fun Toys That Let You and Your Children be Creative

It can be hard to find something to do as a family, or something that will entertain the kids that doesn’t need to be charged. Getting kids away from screens can be challenging, but with toys like these, you won’t have to try too hard.

Have a little car lover? (Or maybe a big one, as well- Father’s Day is just around the corner) You can select from a handful of new mini-vehicles from Automoblox®, an award-winning line of high-quality collectible wooden car toy vehicles. Included the pick-up truck Grizzly, the X10 Timber Pack SUV with a trailer, and the very first Automoblox motorcycle. These cars have a body made of European beech wood, and can be manipulated multiple ways to create different designs.  Both kids (recommended for ages 4 and up) and adults love playing with the mix and max, fun to put together cars that don’t require tools to create. New minis are priced at $11.99 – $23.99. The larger  BR100 Hercules 16.5″ hauler (that can also be recreated into a dump truck) is $59.99.  It is not only larger, but also comes with two back ends, a ramp, two mini vehicles, and has room to hold five mini vehicles. Get yours on Amazon.

puzzles autism

If you are a fan of puzzles, TCG has an excellent line that you will want to get your hands on. They have s many options of different photos, scenes, and piece counts, there is something for everyone (and every family ability). These are really beautiful, well crafted puzzles you will be tempted to frame (and in fact, we are framing one of ours). In addition, TCG has a campaign that benefits both Autism Speaks and Autism Speaks Canada since 2016. As puzzles help calm and stimulate some children and adults with Autism, it is a wonderful fit and a great cause to support. Every box has Autism Speaks puzzle piece logo on it. “TCG’s Autism Speaks assortment includes puzzles designed for a wide range of puzzlers, from the whimsical and gorgeous renderings of fantasy artist Miharu to original TCG designs, and more.” (as per TCG) Prices range from $3.99 for a 200 piece puzzle to $7.99 for a 1,000 piece puzzle.
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