Summer Pool Floats

It’s sweltering out there, and with temperatures only rising, you might be seeking out the local pool or lake to cool off. What’s more fun the an interesting float? These are the ones you might see us toting about.

SwimWays Huggables Sloth Oversized Float – Inflatable Lounge with Cupholder

Long name, cute float.  This is a rather unique float, not just for the animal options, but also for the armrests that “hug” you as well as acting as a drink holder. (I mostly left the sunblock in there, though, honestly, works just as well.) Our Sloth moved leisurely along the water, but you can also try out the Teddy Bear or the Panda Bear, all are equally adorable, and definitely attention grabbers and make for super sweet photos and Instagram shots. So many people at the lake came up and asked about it, and lots of kids wanted a go- it was an instant “friend maker” for my son, that’s for certain.

Also fun is that you can actually lean back, and sit upright. That’s pretty unusual in a pool float, most you can only lay on. Sized for adults, not just for kids, this is good for just about anyone. Actual dimensions for those of you who need to worry about sizes for your pool rules: 50 in x 36 in x 40 in. This is intended for ages 5 and up. There are three options, Sloth, Teddy Bear, and Panda. I was unable to find a weight limit, but we personally had no issues, with the heaviest member to try the Sloth being 181 lbs.  You can get these for $15 and up on Amazon.
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Avoid The Summer Slide- Fun Ways to Stimulate Your Brain

Summer is a great time to relax and enjoy time together with friends and family, but you don’t want to let your mind turn to mush during that time. According to the Northwest Evaluation Association’s research,  “summer learning loss was observed in math and reading across third to eighth grade, with students losing a greater proportion of their school year gains each year as they grow older – anywhere from 20 to 50 percent.” How do you keep your child from losing their learning or falling behind? Keep their minds active, keep them reading, and keep brains stimulated. No, Fortnight totally doesn’t count, sorry!

Got a little one? Start young and keep them active. There are some amazing books out there, and of course your local library will likely have summer reading programs you can do with your child no matter what age. There are also puzzles and educational games you can play with your child on technology and “real life” touchable options- we recommend a bit of both.

kids apps

We recently tried out these fun and “edu-taining” science based apps aimed at preschoolers, and found them both adorable and fun. My child didn’t even realize they were learning, they honestly enjoyed them. Even my 12 year old liked them- except the dress up app, but that’s pretty good for an age range in my opinion.

I’m a teacher by trade, and I love that there are these apps that let kids have fun while learning.  Since science is an area that is under-taught in many schools, the more ways a child can be exposed to it, the better.  Cosmic Cubs (www.cosmiccubs.com) help kids pre-k and up learn about ecology, the solar system, and just for fun, a space dress up game as well. These three apps are available for Android and IOS platforms, via the App store or Google Play.  The space cubs also teach kids about the importance of being environmentally responsible- reduce, reuse, and recycle – in their Cosmic Cubs Eco Puzzle App.

The website has lots of coloring pages you can download as well as information sheets in addition to the apps. The apps are technically free but cost $1.99 for full access. Kids will have access to puzzles, games, learning about the planets, asteroids, meteors, comets, problem solving, and more. They also teach new vocabulary words. Even the dress up game helps with dexterity and hand/eye coordination, as well as learning about colors and more. Not to mention, spark an interest in space.  The three apps available are the Cosmic Cubs Eco Puzzler, the Cosmic Cubs Dress Up, and Cosmic Cubs Space Puzzles. $1.99 for full access.
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Built For Your Growing Family

Thinking about adding on to your family? That can be a fun, even if somewhat stressful time. Trying to choose what essential everyday items you will need for your growing brood can be difficult, as you need to think about cost, size, durability, safety, ease of use, and more. We are hoping to help you with some of our favorites, as well why we like them and think you will find them useful.

One of the first and most important things to decide on is a car seat. Once your baby outgrows his or her carrier “snap and go” type car seat, the DualFit Harness-2-Booster seat by Britax is a good choice that is both safe and less expensive then some. It easily transitions from a three point harness seat to a booster that is best for older and larger children. As your child grows, the seat will grow with them.

Designed to fit children from 25 pounds to 65 lbs in harness mode, then in booster mode for children up to 100 lbs. Britax’s “patented system of safety components work together to transfer energy away from your child and 2 layers of Side Impact Protection shield your child in the event of a crash” (as per brand). It is easy to install, and has easy-on and easy off lower connectors that lock into place with a click and are released with the push of a button- however this mom always lets the fire station install with me the first time. It’s a service offered for free by many towns, and one I like to take advantage of to make sure I’m doing things right.

You can find this seat (as well as others) at https://us.britax.com for $169.99

Britax also makes the B-Lively Double stroller, which is a smooth, easy ride for two children. It has a lightweight aluminum frame (which is a necessity for packing up and getting into the car) as well as a quick fold. It takes storage seriously as well, knowing how much moms and dads have to lug about. With six storage pockets as well as a large under-storage basket, there is quite a lot of space for what you need to bring along. The stroller itself is easy to push, and not clumsy or cumbersome. No one likes to feel like a pack mule, or like they are taking up all the space in the aisle. It corners easily, and doesn’t “stick” on you, which is something I find ever annoying about larger strollers. Something else that makes the B-Lively Double Stroller extra handy is that it is compatible with your infant car seat should you need to do so. (*When paired with a infant car seat adapter kit, sold separately.) If your baby is still in a “snap and go” type seat, that makes it that much easier. It sells for $399.99 on https://us.britax.com
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Cute and Cuddly, Prefect for Easter or Passover

Soft and snuggly is what bedtime (and even just cuddle up time) is all about. There are some new cute critters that we thought you would enjoy for your den, check these out- they are perfect for Easter or Passover.

petsies stuffed animals

If you have pets at home, your family will be thrilled by Petsies. where you and your kids can custom design a stuffed animal to look just like your furry family member. Choose from a wide selection of colors, combinations, ear types, tails, even tongues. The plush version of your pet will arrive at your door in a few weeks, but there is actually more. While you wait, you will get emails on the progress it is making-  what point it’s at, asking you to check photos of progress to see what you think, and more. Here is an example-

“CONGRATS! Our lead designer has just reviewed and approved your picture for Petsification. This designer also transferred your photo into our special Petsies plush coding machine, so that we can create the best plush representation of your pet. Next steps: Two more designers will work on picking fabrics and crafting the shape of each individual piece of plush that goes into your design.

Thank you again for letting us plushify your pet! The Petsies Design Team”

petsies toy

We looked forward to our updates, and when we got the email with shipping notification, the wait was on. My son stalked the delivery man, and was completely thrilled with the outcome of the plus twin of his pup, Teddy.

Get yours at https://www.mypetsies.com  Right now there is even a sale going on, so the time is good.
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Healthy Bodies, Inside and Out

This winter, as Spring is (hopefully) around the corner, you might be having a hard time holding onto those New Years Resolutions or even trying to stay healthy or active as a part of your regular lifestyle. I know for me, February is my “ugh” month, I often find myself with a case of the winter blues and really just “done” with the gray and the cold. I find it hardest to be motivated in February, and not just grab a bag of chips and pop on the Netflix. What to do? Try something new, a little change can often be just the thing you need, a little bump to get you moving.

DIY kits

Have you ever heard of Purple Carrot? You have probably  heard of similar ideas, pre-ordered meal kits delivered to your home that you cook yourself. This is the ONLY 100% plant-based meal kit company of the kind, where you can get pre-portioned ingredients and step-by-step instructions for cooking healthy, vegan meals at home. As we are learning, eating plant-based meals even if only one day or a few times a week, has a positive impact on people’s health, the environment, and animal welfare. The food is very good, but it definitely takes time to make, so prepare to spend some time in the kitchen. While not difficult, some of the items made were challenging and to me very unnecessarily time consuming, like making my own veggie burgers. But we learned new things, so that was something. I can honestly say, even as vegetarians, we had never made any of these recipes before, so they were interesting and new.  Find out more here-

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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Tech To Bring Music to Your Ears and Light Up Your Life

As we spend more time outdoors, we look for ways to bring some creature comforts with us.  Check out some of the gear that makes outside a little more modern.

Do you love a good run? Maybe hike, kayak, or even just some time in the gym. Finding good earphones that can deal with sweat is not always the easiest task, but most of us like to bring music (or some form of audio) with us for our workouts. The new PaMu TWS wireless earphones are easy to wear, truly have no wires (really, Pinocchio) until you have to charge them, of course, and are sweat-proof and water resistant. They have some must have features, including Hi-Fi Sound, Auto-connects,Touch Control, Auto Pairing that lets you make calls and listen to music while your phone is in your pocket (or beyond), an In-Ear Mic, they come with a portable Charging Pod that neatly fits your buds and doubles as a travel case, and more. They are reasonably comfortable for ear buds. To me, while wearing them, they reminded me of a Dr. Who episode of Cybermen- that’s how it all started. Giant ear buds, then you become a Robot working for your new alien overlords. Ah, maybe not- but it makes me laugh. You can grab yours before they even hit shelves on indiegogo.

Always on the go?  AdventureJumpStart is a great option for those of us who are constantly on the move- it can not only recharge your tablets and smartphones, but it also has the ability to jump start most cars, trucks, boats and ATVS. Really. And? It’s small. Best. Gift. Ever.
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