Memorial Day weekend just can’t be complete without a good, old fashioned BBQ. Whether you played chef in your own backyard or were a guest at a friend’s or family’s gathering this weekend, you hopefully enjoyed what will be the first of many meals centered around the grill. And if there’s ever an American staple during a summertime feast, it’s the hotdog. We can’t seem to go to a ballgame without sampling one, and it’s always a favorite among the kiddies. In the spirit of the season, The Talking Walnut is holding a Hebrew National giveaway this week. We’ll be awarding 2 lucky winners 4 sets of coupons, each good for a free package of hot dogs. It’s a great excuse to stock up on plenty of dogs to get you through those impromptu, “it’s too hot to kick indoors, let’s grill” nights, or for any BBQ you have planned over the next few months. To whet your appetite, here’s a delish recipe for franks and beans that you can bring to a potluck dinner.
In a Nutshell: Fire up the grill and enter to win these tasty dogs by e-mailing The Talking Walnut. Don’t forget the mustard and relish!
When my husband was a boy, he had a wooden rocking horse on which he happily rode off into the proverbial sunset. Well…not exactly, but I believe that horse had something to do with his signature sign-off, “Happy trails.” Today, we have that same treasured horse in our own home, so our girls can rock to their hearts’ content. Among all their other toys, it stands out as a treasured childhood favorite and is in sharp contrast to the high-tech gadgets and brightly colored plastic playthings of today. If you’re a fan of the toys of yesteryear, you can step back in time with a classic favorite that returns to the modern world. Woody Rocking Horse is a simple, but elegantly designed rocker just begging for new riders to grab hold of its reins. We love its fresh, clean look; green-minded moms will appreciate that this rocker is fashioned out of 100% birch tree from an approved harvested forest (that means all natural). Eco-friendly nomenclature aside, we know this is one toy that kids, parents and grandparents alike will enjoy. Cowboy-approved, too.
In a Nutshell: Take a walk–or should we say, ride–down memory lane atop this rocking horse, destined to be a family heirloom.
My 1st grader is so excited for her upcoming class trip to the aquarium, she can hardly contain herself. A recent trip to the local fish hatchery was enough to whet her appetite…now she’s ready for the big time! (Why do I foresee a follow-up trip to the zoo in the near future?)…It’s only natural that kids love animals. Think about it: they do what they please, eat without the use of napkins or utensils and spend their time either playing or sleeping. Did I mention that they can do what they please? When watching my girls play with their stuffed animals, they act out the silliest scenarios, so it only makes sense that they are drawn to playthings that mimic the very behavior they want to exhibit, be it wild or mild. The newest addition to the animal kingdom, Anamalz, is as fun to say as it is to play. Not only are these creatures incredibly flexible, so little hands can bend them into any and all positions, but moms will love their design. Crafted in a maple wood/cloth combination, Anamalz are eco-friendly, durable and stand up to hours of imaginative play. The line currently comes in a variety of different species–farm, prehistoric, wild and Australian–and also includes a playmat and other accessories. No aquarium creatures just yet, but that doesn’t mean my kids–and yours–can’t envision the next animal kingdom.
In a Nutshell: It’s a jungle out there…your kids can embrace their wild side with these well-made poseable pals.
As a mother of two girls, it’s not always easy to find something my kids can play together. Either a craft or board game is too complex for my 3-year-old, or her older sister is bored to tears because “it’s too boring.” Sometimes, you just can’t please everyone! Luckily, we have found common ground for both girls in the amazing world of Calico Critters. If you’re not yet familiar with these adorable pint-sized animals and their various habitats, it’s not too late to immerse yourselves in this imaginative culture. From the common mice family, to the atypical hedgehogs, there are a variety of species that play together and co-habitat, be it in a cozy cottage, monstrous treehouse or any magic-believe locale young minds can dream up. And now, just in time for summer, the gang is ready to hit the road in their very own Calico Critters Caravan Family Camper. The fold-out rooms invite plenty of opportunity and space for shared playtime, including a well-stocked kitchen, bathroom complete with shower and bunk beds for naptime. I love that this is one age-appropriate toy that still holds my 7-year-old’s interest, while enabling her little sister to expand her own imaginative horizons. After all, learning to “share and share alike” is something to foster, no matter how old you are.
In a Nutshell: Even if you’re not hitting the road with the kids this summer, they can still feel like they’re going on vacation along with the Calico gang and all the comforts of home.
My 7-year-old has her own tape measure; I kid you not. Maybe it’s because she expressed an early interest in home improvement, thanks to her handy father, and wanted to covet her own tool. When she’s not assisting her dad around the house, this tape measure has become a useful tool for her math homework when she can’t seem to locate her MIA ruler. This ingenuity got me to thinking about inventive ways to make math fun, and so I stumbled upon Inching Along. This clever board game makes the chore of using a ruler repeatedly a little less tedious. Set against a camping-themed backdrop (just in time for summer), Inching Around has its players move around the board as they draw cards and solve coded math problems, ranging from simple addition/subtraction, to more complex equations. The universal tool? A yellow ruler with which to determine the number of spaces they are permitted to move. Once someone reaches the finish line (at 75 inches), they win. Inching Along is designed for 2-4 players, ages 5 and up.
In a Nutshell: When it comes to engaging board games disguised as teaching tools, Inching Along truly measures up.
Got any bathing baby beauties in your house? Well, then you’re in luck. 4moms is getting ready to launch its Cleanwater Collection of bathtime products, and is holding a giveaway. Every day from now until the line’s debut on June 15, the company will be awarding a winner with this new product destined to make tubtime more enjoyable for both you and your little one(s). Each recipient receives one Cleanwater Infant Tub, one Digital Spout Cover and one bath sponge. Both the Infant Tub and the Spout Cover feature color-coded digital thermometers that show the water temperature at a glance. What’s neat about the Infant Tub is that it lets clean water flow in while dirty water flows out, while the bath sponge adds support for newborns. When your baby outgrows the Infant Tub, the Digital Spout Cover will protect her from any bumps and bruises on the faucet.
In a Nutshell: Bathtime just got a whole lot easier with this high-end tub and accessories. Enter to win the Cleanwater Collection giveaway today. Good luck!
Outside our kitchen window, a new family of sparrows have created a home for themselves. While my husband installed a birdhouse on top of a high post, it was the mother bird who did the real work of feathering her nest. Each day, she diligently flew back and forth, returning to the house with a beak full of grass and small leaves. My daughters marveled at her dedication and tirelessness…and I was reminded how my own job as a parent isn’t too different from the mother bird’s. Whether clothing our kids or feeding them a nourishing meal, I am trying to be more mindful of taking pleasure in the simple things in life: a warm bath, a good book and a snuggly pair of PJs are all high up on our list these days. When thinking of a special gift for a new baby or big brother/sister, the Birdhouse PJ Box is a thoughtful way to welcome a new arrival by evoking the comforts of home. Playfully packaged inside a cardboard birdhouse comes a set of cotton pajamas, along with a plush bird toy. Not only are the PJs soft and sweet, but the box doubles as a playhouse for any lucky doll or stuffed animal (including the birdie). As a busy mom myself, I can always appreciate a smartly packaged present that saves me the time and aggravation of gift-wrapping. And that leaves lots more time to do other things…like birdwatching.
In a Nutshell: Our resident fine feathered friends have inspired us to look for more meaning in our gifts: ones that evoke comfort, coziness and home.
One of my all-time favorite things to do with my daughters? Read. After a long day that starts with getting to the bus stop on time, and ends with a fresh bath (most days!) and a clean pair of PJs, the idea of sitting down with a good story is an experience I relish and one that I find both engaging and calming. (It’s a great way for me to wind down before bedtime, too!). I began reading to my girls shortly after they were born and home from the hospital; we have tattered copies of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and “Goodnight Moon” as proof. When my fussy, younger daughter wouldn’t stop crying, I would take a book in my shaking hand, clear my throat and begin, “In the great green room…” And when my older daughter had a tantrum as a preschooler, I realized that reading was the only way to soothe her. It’s no wonder that I’m a big fan of bonding through books as early as possible, and why the latest list of “Best Books for Babies” from The Fred Rogers Company (producers of the beloved classic kids’ TV show, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood”) is so important. Selected by a group of librarians, teachers, early childhood experts and parents, this list features new titles that are both age-appropriate and filled with rich illustrations to stimulate young minds. I invite you to check out this compilation and pay a visit to your local library with your little one. It’s never too soon to cultivate a lifelong love of reading.
In a Nutshell: Snuggle up and enjoy one of these acclaimed books with your baby. What better way is there to end your child’s day than with you and good book?
On Day 2 of a super soaker rainy stretch, it’s hard to imagine we’ll soon be trading in this wet spring for sweltering heat. In my family, the hot summer sun is nothing to scoff at; my girls have unfortunately inherited my fair complexion and I make a point of slathering them in sunscreen so much that the sun’s damaging rays don’t stand a chance. Of course, when my little ladies aren’t under my wing and it’s time to re-apply the lotion, it helps to have a way to make this chore both convenient and not so involved, especially for kids. Sunbow Sunscreen Sun Sticks are handy, portable sticks that stow away easily in camp backpacks. Not only do they offer optimal protection with an SPF 45, but they come in kid-friendly designs (yellow formula featuring SpongeBob and pink in a Dora the Explorer motif). I used to roll my eyes at character-influenced products, but in this case, if it helps my 7-year-old remember to take her SpongeBob stick out of her bag and use it, I’m all for it.
In a Nutshell: It may be OK for a sponge to soak up some rays, but when it comes to kids and the sun, the two work best in moderation–and with the proper protection. This sunscreen stick aims to keep kids covered, so they can enjoy the summer without the sunburn.
It never hurts to have another friend and when you’re a kid, you’ve got an entire lifetime to make new ones, wherever you go. A friend doesn’t have to be a person, but even a cool plaything that you can tote with you. Shoulder Buddies may just be the next best portable pal. Bearing somewhat of a resemblance to those Trolls dolls that we grew up with in the 1980s, these pint-sized creatures have spiky up-dos that kids will love to brush or simply flick with their fingers. And, like any good friend, Shoulder Buddies have a magnetic personality…almost literally. These figures are embedded with a magnet and come with a Magic Coin that kids can place on their shoulder, hat or backpack. Then they can put their new buddy directly on top of the coin, so he’s sitting pretty. These colorful characters have their own identities marked by bold graphics on their tummies: from the hipster peace sign, to the eco-friendly green-leaf lover. We think they’ll be the perfect companion to join your kid at camp this summer.
In a Nutshell: Friends come in all shapes and sizes and in this case, the smaller, the better. These collectible figures are poised to be the next great backpack companion.