Tentrr, A New Way to Camp

Are you camping-curious, but not sure you want to deal with all the tent and sleeping bag related hassle? Have a hesitant spouse? Or perhaps you love camping, as we do, but are ready to try something new and different with your friends and family this fall. We recently headed out with Tentrr, a new company that gives you the camping experience you are after, from the most basic and remote locations to the “glamping” end of things as you desire. The best part? No set up or breaking down, you just go. When you arrive, everything is ready for you, just like a hotel (but way cooler, since you are outdoors and get to spend some time in nature).

easy camping

There is no end to the benefits of spending time in nature, from *physical health benefits like improving your immune system as well as mental and emotional health and well being (boosting you mood and giving you a creativity boost for examples), your whole self will benefit from your time camping. It doesn’t matter if you choose to really “rough it” or not, just being outside with your family will give you a wonderful bonding experience and memories that you can keep forever.

(*These and other health benefits of spending time outdoors can be found at  https://www.health.harvard.edu)

camping with kids

In a similar manner to Airnbn, Tentrr works with private landowners to cater to the camping community. These landowners install a “fully-equipped campsite on their property. Each campsite comes with a canvas wall tent on an elevated platform, bed, wood stove, Adirondack chairs, fire pit, grill, picnic table, sun shower, and camp toilet. Tentrr is perfect for families who love the outdoors but don’t love all the work associated with camping like packing a car full of stuff or pitching a tent.” (Via Tentrr)
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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
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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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