Monthly Archives: March 2012


word play: sentence shuffle fun deck

Sometimes, my 2nd grader likes to speak backwards–not facing away from me, but mixing up the order of her words. She, of course, thinks it’s hysterical; I find it maddening, especially by the end of the day. Because she gets a kick out of making us work to figure out exactly what she’s saying, it’s a real power kick…for a 7-year-old. But I figure there’s got to be a positive side to her punchy behavior. Maybe this strange sense of little kid humor was the inspiration for Sentence Shuffle Fun Deck. Housed inside a Band-Aid-style box are 56 illustrated cards containing a bunch of words that are out of order (for instance, “scaredy cat is a Linda.”) Players must then unscramble the words to form a sentence and then move on to the next card. Super-fast readers can show off their proficiency, while those just getting comfortable with chapter books can challenge themselves to become better wordsmiths. To up the ante, draw 20 cards, set up a timer and see how many each player can guess correctly. This is the perfect rainy-day boredom buster and works great for long car rides, too. You may find yourself getting caught up in the game play. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. Or, should we say, “warn we didn’t you Don’t say.”

In a Nutshell: Kids who think they know their way around a sentence can test their skills with this travel-friendly game.

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glow to go: citrus lane pampered pregnancy box

How many Facebook friends do you have who’ve shared their cute pix of their kids? You can put your hands down. Now, how many of those pals have posted their sonograms or photos of their pregnant bellies online? Yup, we’ve gotten those updates, too. But now matter how many telltale shots they upload, you don’t need to see documented proof to know that every mom-to-be is in need of a little TLC. If you’ve got a faraway friend or relative who’s expecting, let her know you’re thinking of her–even if you can’t see her–with a Pampered Pregnancy Box from Citrus Lane. This well-stocked package contains a ton of treats reserved for those times when she’s in need of a boost (think tired skin, swollen feet…). Brimming with beauty favorites put together by renown style expert Amy Tara Koch , the Pampered Pregnancy Box features Josie Maran Argan Lip Gloss, Mama Mio Tummy Rub Stretch Mark Butter, Vosges Haut Chocolate Peppermint Candy Cane Bar, Psi Bands (for queasy tummies and morning sickness relief), Foot Petals Tip Toes (to ease those tired tootsies) and Zoe Organics Face Wash. There’s special discounts and offers from companies like Spanx, Bashful Bump and Blanqi tucked away in there, too. The best part is that everything is boxed up and delivered right to your friend’s doorstep. The Pampered Pregnancy Box is one gift that keeps on giving–through all nine months–and something she’ll be able to put to good use, long before the baby comes.

In a Nutshell: When your pregnant pal can’t make it to the spa, bring the spa to her. A perfect present for those days when she can’t bear to hear the words “pregnancy jeans” one more time…

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disposable me: icky products

Lunch out with little kids is no picnic.  Because many of our local restaurants must keep up with a steady flow of kiddie customers, we sometimes dine atop tables that are, shall we say, not exactly up to snuff? Combine that with having to wait for your food indefinitely, and you have the makings of a rather unpleasant dining experience. For moms eating out with little ones comes a new line of eco-friendly products that won’t make the intended fun turn into a fiasco. Icky Products Color Me Placemats are ideal entertainment for kiddies in waiting (for their chicken fingers, that is). One handy box contains 10 stick-on, biodegradable mats and 3 non-toxic crayons, so little ones can busy themselves and eat their yummy meal without picking up the latest bug. Just stick one of these in your diaper bag the next time you head out for a bite, and you’ll be set…at least until dessert. And if you’ve got a little one in tow, Icky’s Disposable Bibs are great in a pinch. These terribly convenient paper bibs come 12 in a pack, and are compostable to ease your guilt in helping save the planet. We’ve seen our fair share of green products and know how much they get a bad rap for being unfashionable. Well, don’t worry about sacrificing style with these babies. They come in fetching Matisse and Blast Off prints to keep your little darling looking as good as that food tastes. Bon appetit!

In a Nutshell: Going green on the go? Here’s a couple of feeding time finds to whet your appetite…


they’ll be singing for their supper

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a pocketful of poisies: muny pocket dress

My 3-year-old is at a bit of loss when she doesn’t have pockets. These days, she is constantly picking up stones, flowers and other treasures courtesy of Mother Nature, yet never seems to have a spot for safekeeping. While her standard outfit of pants and tops usually offer plenty of pocket space, we’re often at a loss when it comes to dresses. It’s one of the many reasons we love the oh-so-adorable Maggie Pocket Dress from MUNY Shop. This vintage-style one-piece is the perfect pull-over for the precocious preschooler: one who loves to dress up, but who needs her clothing to accommodate her sense of adventure. We love the contrasting print of striped pockets offset by the sweet flower bodice of this 100-percent cotton design. Those puckered short sleeves are ideal for a girl-on-the-go who can afford to slow down, especially when there are so many backyard treasures to unearth. The Maggie Pocket Dress is machine washable and sized by age (1-4 years).

In a Nutshell: Just in time for spring, this stylish, yet casual little girls’ dress is perfect for Easter egg hunts, backyard parties or any other occasion that calls for casual, comfortable attire.

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traveling artist: Crayola Color Wonder Tiny Tube

I’m convinced that my bag will forever contain remnants of my daughters’ fledgling careers as artists. Broken crayons, dried-out markers and scraps of paper and old receipts have served as the materials and canvases for everything from stick figures to cityscapes. In fact, some of their best drawings have taken shape en route to some remote destination, so I often make sure I am armed with sufficient supplies. For convenient creativity, we’ve got our hands on the latest travel-friendly art kit: Crayola’s Color Wonder Tiny Tube. Looks may be deceiving, as this pint-sized container holds over 10 feet of tear-off activity sheets, along with 3 markers. We love the fact that the drawing sheets have adhesive backing, so they stick on to any surface for static (read: in-place) coloring. Hard to believe that everything fits right in the handy tube, which goes directly inside your car’s cup holder. Time to rid the backseat of those hard-guzzled juice boxes and make room for the artistes! Pratt and RISD, here we come…

In a Nutshell: Good things do indeed come in small packages. This mini art set makes a great road-trip companion or Easter basket stuffer.

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bibliophile baby: new picture books

When someone I know has a new baby, my favorite gift to welcome their little one is a book. It doesn’t matter if it’s a board book about bunnies or a picture book about penguins; I love the inviting prospect of sitting in a comfy chair with a little person on my lap, inhaling their fresh-from-the bath scent and snuggling in for some one-on-one time. It’s a small moment of parenting that gives me the greatest pleasure, and my hope is to offer that same experience to my new mom friend. If you’re on the lookout for a new baby gift this spring, be sure to check out Hey Little Baby! by Heather Leigh. The tender tale of a brand-new person and all the possibilities that lay before him, this story features beautifully muted watercolor illustrations that invite new parents to imagine the endless opportunities for their child. This charming book makes a delightful gift for any new baby and is the perfect excuse to share some quiet time with Mom or Dad. And of course, if there’s a big brother or sister in the picture, it’s always nice to remember them, too–especially at a time when they could use some extra attention. We’ve got just the thing to make them giggle: Tickle Time! by Sandra Boynton. As fun to say as it is to read, this tongue-twisting tale will get even the grumpiest kid to crack a smile. The sing-song, repetitious verse will have them reading along and eager to turn the pages. Don’t be surprised if you’re challenged to a tickle fight by the time the story ends.

In a Nutshell: Reading aloud is a wonderful way to bond with your baby, not to mention her older sibling. Here’s to two new books just begging to be opened…

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not your basic bottle: pura kiki

Back in the day, figuring out what bottle to feed your baby with wasn’t considered rocket science. Buzz words like BPA and PVC didn’t have moms on high alert, worrying whether their child would ingest toxic substances while drinking from her “ba-ba.” Plastic didn’t conjure up images of towering landfills, but was simply something you used to box up your leftover meatloaf. But because today, we live in a different world and have a myriad of product choices, figuring out what’s best for our kids can be a bit more challenging–even when it comes to something as ordinary as selecting a baby bottle. Well, we had an eye-opener this week when we learned that some of those bottles dubbed “BPA-free” may, in fact, may still leach harmful chemicals. One product that isn’t confused about its identity is Pura Kiki, the bottle that proudly wears the 100-plastic-free label across its base. Made from stainless steel and medical-grade silicon, Kiki features a non-plastic nipple designed to stay put (that means no leakage). And even if you have a fussy child who prefers a particular nipple or spout, this bottle works with other major brands, such as Avent, Dr. Brown’s and Born Free. Once your baby has graduated to a sippy cup, simply upgrade her bottle to a sip-style spout. We like the fact that Pura also makes stainless water bottles for big people, so your whole family can drink safely. Cheers!

In a Nutshell: BPA what; PVC whom? Don’t worry about deciphering the latest acronyms. With Pura Kiki, your baby can enjoy her ba-ba–and so can you.

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cruel to be kind: mean moms rule

I never realized how my work as a camp counselor would someday come back to haunt me as a mother. Many moons ago, I had a camper who refused to play sports. Any time we were headed in the direction of a field or gymnasium, she suddenly felt sick to her stomach and couldn’t participate. Because I knew to play by the rules (and I certainly didn’t want the camp director reprimanding me for any bad choices), I let her sit on the sidelines. But of course, once the end of the day rolled around and ice cream time was upon us, her stomachache mysteriously seemed to disappear. Well, one day, rules or not, I was not allowing this manipulative child to have even one lick of a Popsicle “so as not to jeopardize your health,” I explained. No matter how much this child begged and pleaded, I refused to budge…only to be met with tears and cries of “You’re going to be a mean mother someday!” Today as a mother of two, I recall those words every so often–when my 3-year-old demands dessert even if she hasn’t eaten much dinner, or my 7-year-old makes a desperate plea for wearing a T-shirt when it’s 60 degrees “because everyone else is but me”–and it is without regret. I take pride in the fact that I don’t back down too easily with my girls and that after nearly 8 years of parenting, I’m slowly realizing which battles I can pick–and actually win. Maybe that’s why the new parenting book Mean Moms Rule called out to me when it hit my desk one afternoon. Author Denise Schipani is my hero, as she divulges just how you can be a good parent without losing yourself (and your mind) in the process. She breaks down her witty, yet insightful book into 10 easily digestible Mean Mom Manifestos that aim to help you through the days when it feels like you’re ready to toss in the towel. Caution: this is not reading for the parent who’d rather pal around with her kid than parent her. As Schipani divulges, there’s plenty of opportunities to show your child how much you love them…but love doesn’t have to mean picking up their socks when they can easily do it themselves. While I wouldn’t call her a Tiger Mom, Schipani is a master at conveying why parenting can be difficult…if you choose to let it be that way. For any mom who’s feeling backed up against the wall, it’s time to put down the gloves, open this book and find out how to make your job as a parent a little less frustrating–and a lot more satisfying. And if that means refusing ice cream, then so be it. The camp counselor in me salutes you.

In a Nutshell: A modern-day parenting bible, Mean Moms Rule proves that you don’t have to be a pushover to be a decent parent.

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channeling tony hawk: janlynn design your own skateboard

I get a kick out of seeing hipster kids on their skateboards. Because they aren’t as common out here in the ‘burbs, it’s a small slice of city life that reminds me spring is almost here and that every kid deserves a way to get around town and hang out with their friends. I admit I’m not cool enough to frequent skateparks, but I am hip to the skate board lingo and know a cool deck when I see one. (For all you novices out there, that’s the part of the board that you stand on.) We think the Design Your Skateboard Kit from Janlynn is one way for crafty kids to make a statement on the streets. This kit comes with everything you need to make a custom design, including the skateboard itself. You paint directly onto the wood deck, let dry and then affix the non-skid tape onto your board. There won’t be any mistaking your board for anyone else’s. And that will make even the most seasoned skater pretty “stoked.”

In a Nutshell: Get ready to ride on a personalized skateboard all your own. We think this DYO Skateboard Kit is “sick”–and we mean that in the very best way.

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i see iowa, i see maine: license plate game app

What would a road trip with the kids be without playing the license plate game? For as long as I can remember, my sister, brother and I passed the time seeing how many different state plates we could spot on those long treks down I-95. The game always seemed to start off slow–how many times could we spot New York and New Jersey before getting out of the tri-state area?–but before long, it got a lot more interesting as we headed south. If you’ve tried unsuccessfully to engage your tech-savvy kid in this classic game, it’s time to kick things up a notch, smartphone-style. Introducing pl8s, a kid-friendly travel app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch that gives a virtual shout-out to U.S. geography. When you spot a particular state’s license plate, tap on the state on pl8s and find out how many points you’ve earned, along with a fun fact about that state. You can earn more points depending on the rarity of the state plate or your distance from that state. And don’t worry about your kid hogging up the entire game; pl8s can be played by up to 4 people. (Sure beats watching that same Big Time Rush movie over and over…)

In a Nutshell: A new twist on an old travel game favorite, pl8s takes your mind places, without having to leave the backseat. It’s available for download in the Apple App Store.

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