When I was pregnant with each of my daughters, I didn’t want to find out their genders in advance. It didn’t matter to me whether or not I could paint my nursery in pink or blue (for the record, we chose yellow) or whether I could buy adorable, frilly dresses (for the record, neither are girly girls…at least so far). I figured that this would be one (or two) of life’s surprises that would be pleasant, and I would rather sit back and wait rather than plan their lives away. It’s probably why I’m always amazed that the first question out of someone’s mouth when they hear of a pregnancy is, “Does she know what she’s having?” For those of us who relish a little mystery in our family’s future generation comes a line of baby clothing that suits us to a T. Twotara gender-neutral reversible clothing is not only practical, but stylish. Made from 100-percent knit cotton, this layette collection is as in favor of girls as it is little boys. From booties to rompers,each garment features a pink-hued design on one side, with a corresponding blue pattern on the other. Not only is Twotara ideal for gift-givers determined to select “just the right present,” but its flexible styling even cuts Mother Nature some slack (yup, there are those cases when the sonogram was wrong!). Cost-conscious moms planning on expanding their families will appreciate that this line’s longevity and versatility. And as anyone who has a kid can tell you, any baby item that does double duty goes a long way.
In a Nutshell: Reversible, gender-neutral baby clothing? Kind on your wallet, beautiful on your baby (boy or girl).
I can hardly believe that in another year, my younger daughter will be starting kindergarten. It feels like only yesterday that my older girl was boarding the bus for the first time, and now she’s about to enter third grade! Because the little one likes to follow in her big sister’s footsteps (or at least, some of those steps!), she loves playing school even when she’s not in the classroom. I knew then that my preschooler would just eat up Get Ready for Kindergarten, the latest book in the LeapFrog Tag Reading System. If you’re not familiar with this electronic learning tool, it’s essentially a “smart” pen reader that works by touching the page to launch interactive games, reading exercises and other fun-filled activities. We were recently given a review copy of the kindergarten Tag book, which my 4-year-old happily put to the test. Teeming with reading, math and even science activities, the latest book in the Tag learning library did not disappoint. Starting with ABC Snack Time, my daughter followed along as she was prompted with questions about letter sounds in a fridge full of whimsical foods, from broccoli in boots to a teeth-chattering ice cream cone. Next it was on to “The Vowel Show,” a bit trickier for a preschooler just feeling comfortable with her ABCs. What I liked was the fact that she could choose to be challenged and I could lend a helping hand, or stick with what she already knows for independent play (reinforcement and repetition is perfect for this age). Like the other Tag titles, Get Ready for Kindergarten helps set the stage for learning the basics, while letting kids take the lead. If you have a child who loves to learn or, as my grandmother used to put it, “is hungry for knowledge,” then this new book will surely satisfy her appetite.
In a Nutshell: Kindergarten-bound tots who love a good game (and do we love the ones cleverly disguised as educational!) will eat up the newest title in the Tag Reading System. Also ideal for on-the-go learning for summer road trips.
This has been one, hot summer, and if you’ve been spending these sultry days with a little one in tow, we’re betting you’ve really been feeling the heat. And if you’ve been noticing that even your hands are perspiring as you stroll around town, we’ve found the summertime solution for you. City Grips stroller handlebar covers are one of those baby gears extra that you’ll appreciate once you’ve put them to good use. These removable soft wrappers fit over any standard stroller handlebars to provide you with a little comfort during your walk. Not only do they help absorb perspiration, but they keep handle-bars free of extra dirt and gripe that you inevitably pick up along the way. We love that City Grips are machine-washable, in case you succumb to that afternoon sugar slump and buy an ice cream cone . Plus, they come in a variety of colors and prints, so you’ll be able to spot your Maclaren in a sea of buggies at the petting zoo stroller parking.
In a Nutshell: Looking for something to cool those handlebar-clutching, perspiring palms? No sweat. City Grips let you get a handle on strolling.
Packing for a vacation with kids is a job in and itself; trying to figure out what will fit in your luggage is one thing. But if you’ve got young kids, you also have to set aside some room for their favorite toys, especially for those rainy, indoor play days (we’ve had more of those than I care to remember!). Whatever toy we are taking along, I want to make sure it’s worth its weight: a toy that can stand up to wear and tear, offer hours of play and, for a refreshing change of pace, one that is powered by imagination, not batteries. Diggin Active’s new BoxSets line is just what every traveling parent is looking for. These carryall playsets, available as a castle or dollhouse, contain all of the basics for inspiring creative, young minds. We relish the details on these wooden sets, from the castle’s movable catapult, to the dollhouse outdoor swing. What’s even better is that BoxSets lend themselves to multiple players of different ages–and that means fewer toys to pack. When playtime is over, all of the accessories and figures fit nicely inside and the carrying handle makes for easy transport. Now if we could get our kids to carry their own stuff, that would really make for a great vacation (sigh…)
In a Nutshell: Playtime on the go just got a whole lot easier, thanks to these well-constructed, portable playsets. Check-in time: now.
Not long after my first daughter was born, I armed myself with enough baby gear to entertain an entire playgroup. Well, maybe not that much stuff, but in our modest living room, it sure felt like it. Looking back, I realized that the few things that seemed to interest her early on, ironically, didn’t take up much space at all: her books. And because I’d heard about the benefits of black-and-white toys and books for stimulating newborn eyes, I was armed and ready. To this day, I recall a cloth book that contained bold imagery with no words, so that I needed to “get creative” and come up with my own witty dialog (as it turned out, I could have been chanting about anything and my daughter would have been soothed by the sound of my voice alone). Memories like these prompted me to take note of the hello baby line of first books. From the mirror cloth book, to a shaker teether title, each one is perfected sized for little hands eager to grasp and explore. Their design may be basic and simple, but the payback is immense. Watch as you turn the pages of these books filled with high-contrast colors and bold patterns, and see if your little one doesn’t kick her feet or wave her arms excitedly. Consider that a two thumbs’ up review in baby talk.
In a Nutshell: The grown-up world may not be so black and white, but to a baby, it’s exactly what they need to be. Toss one of these books in your diaper bag the next time you’re out for a stroll, and see if they don’t hold your little one’s attention. Let the cooing begin…
Congratulations! You just had a new baby and you’ve been invited to your cousin’s wedding, all in the same week. But before you hastily turn down the invitation (who wants to get all dressed up when you’re not exactly feeling like your absolute best?), consider the new line of postpartum body ware from Ameda Intimates. Their collection of nursing bras and camisoles are especially forgiving, offering you sleek coverage for special occasions, while keeping you comfortable all the while. Made from a flexible microfiber, they are lightly absorbent, so you can dance the night away (if you’re up for it) without feeling sticky. Dual side knit panels won’t cut into your skin, allowing you to move about freely, while the special drop-cup design provides easy access while nursing on the go. So, line up that babysitter and go enjoy yourself for a few hours. Ameda’s nursing camisole has you covered.
In a Nutshell: Postpartum partying? When you’ve got the right undergarments on, make that RSVP a “yes.”
Come the weekend, my daughters love to fight over who gets to use my husband’s iPad (you know, your average Saturday struggle). So like most families with different aged kids, we’re always on the lookout for apps that will suit everyone’s interests–easier said than done. Fortunately, my 8-year-old loves playing school and you can only guess who has been recruited as her one-and only student. When my girls got their hands on Educational Insights’ Hot Dots Jr. app, it was all they could do not to contain their excitement. The game play is relatively straightforward: four categories (ABCs, numbers, colors and shapes) with 12 questions in each. A friendly girl prompts young players to answer questions and with each correct answer, a talking dog rewards them with a job well done. My 8-year-old helped walk my 4-year-old through the first sets of questions, but once she got the hang of it, this preschooler was off and running, virtually speaking. Typical questions range from basic letter recognition, to more complex challenges like identifying the word “four” along with the numeric figure 4. Both my girls enjoyed the shapes category best, as they raced each other to see who could complete a pattern first: “diamond, square, triangle; diamond, square…what comes next?” For my younger daughter, this app kept her attention and taught her some new concepts that she’ll surely pick up on in the classroom this fall. And for my older kid, it was a way to reinforce what she has already mastered, while enabling her to demonstrate her own teaching skills. Who knows? We have just have a future educator on our hands…
In a Nutshell: Keep the summer slump at bay with an educational app for the iPhone/iPad that puts budding teachers in the driver’s seat. Ideal backseat companion for road trip/vacation time.
In today’s mail, the Old Navy back-to-school catalog arrived. It wasn’t the first one we received, and it isn’t even August yet. Seems hints of backpacks, lunchboxes and all things back-to-school are happening earlier and earlier this year. If you haven’t already gotten a jump yet on school supply shopping, allow us to whet your appetite with some items that are making a name for themselves–literally. Makaboo lets kids design and personalize their own lunchboxes, backpacks and other cool-for-school accessories. Simply select an item, and then choose from one of over 30 colors, a font for your name and favorite icon (take your pick of 100 different pictures!). You’re good to go! We think Makaboo will be a big hit this September, especially for kids with unusual first names, like my girls. Score one for individuality…even if there are already 4 girls named Olivia in class this year (sigh…)
In a Nutshell: In a sea of SpongeBob and peace sign backpacks and lunch bags, your kid’s will stand alone. Proudly.
Got a summer reading list? If your teen hasn’t cracked open this year’s selection, it’s time to get crackin’ (only 6 more weeks ’til Labor Day). But if the sun and surf are competing for her attention and making it difficult to hunker down with her Kindle, Nook or hardcover, it’s time to offer a little inspiration. Out of Print Clothing features an entire line of book-themed T-shirts, tote bags and journals for kids and adults alike. Whether your grade schooler has just finished “Charlotte’s Web” or your high schooler has plowed through “The Great Gatsby,” there’s an item that’s just perfect for her. Among our favorites are the literary covered journals that invite aspire young writers to keep at their craft, and the bags that are ideal for toting around those massive tomes. (Yeah, we think you’ve earned your bragging rights if you’ve polished off “Moby Dick.”) So, celebrate summer with a brainy beach bag or head to class this fall in a shirt that proudly proclaims your lofty achievement. No matter the season, reading is always in style.
In a Nutshell: Some whale of a tale that was! Share your love of reading with the rest of the world with this fab collection of literary classic accessories.
What mom couldn’t use a little “om” in her day-to-day? This morning at the library, I witnessed a mom desperately trying to quiet her babbling toddler while perusing the stacks. Despite her efforts, she was not successful and judging by her tone, her mounting frustration was entirely palpable. I know when I experience those stressed-out-mom moments, a little treat for the senses provides some welcome relief. It’s why the new skincare line from Baby Mantra caught our attention. Made from all-natural, organic ingredients like lavender, coconut and shea butter, these products are designed for those most sensitive skin, and are also a favorite of moms in need of a little TLC for themselves. Our favorite is the 2-in-1 Shampoo & Body Wash that contains a moisturizing coconut oil/sesame oil blend that is as calming as it is cleansing. Since we know how slippery bathtime can get, it helps to have one multitasking product that lets us keep an extra hand on an active baby. Even ones who run through the non-fiction section, too.
In a Nutshell: Treat your little one–and yourself–to a new line of organic skincare that turns tub time into tranquility.