I wonder if there will ever be a day when I won’t find a broken crayon somewhere. Whether lying front and center on our family room rug, covertly lodged in the backseat of my car or buried at the bottom of my handbag, these classic signs of childhood prove that either my kids are very creative or that I can’t get a handle on clutter (probably a little bit of both, actually). If you’re known to stash paper and crayons in the car or anytime you’re on the go, consider the utterly adorable Mess Eaters Crayon Roll from P’kolino. Each high-quality European crayon has its own secure spot in this frog-shaped pouch. Unroll it and your child has a world of color at her fingertips. The easy-to-use hook attaches to the back of a seat or any surface from which your little artist has easy access. When she’s finished with her masterpiece, return each crayon to its respective spot, roll it back up and voila! You’re good to go, minus any crushed crayons. The cuteness and convenience factors alone earn high points from this mom. Next stop, art school!
In a Nutshell: Keep those crayons (and your sanity) contained with this super-cute travel crayon set that lets you take your creative show on the road, mess-free.
A friend just took her first cross-country trip with her baby daughter…and boy, were her arms tired! No, this isn’t a classic joke set-up, but rather a comment on the reality of today’s parents having to lug too way too much stuff with them. Being on-the-go may sound carefree, but if you’re adding a baby to that equation, traveling is anything but easy-breezy! If you’ve got a family trip on the books this summer, it pays to do a little advance planning to figure out what you’ll need and when you’ll need it, so you can pack easily and have everything within your reach. For that reason, we love the lil’ traveler line from Miamica. This designer has found a way to streamline the travel experience by creating pretty, yet practical accessories for each of your baby’s needs, from dressing to feeding. Always misplacing your baby’s hair clips? Lil’ Bows on the Go keeps clips and bows contained in a zippered bag, with a separate, see-through pouch for those easy-to-lose items. The TSA-friendly Plane to See bottle bag will get you thorough security without incident, and is well-stocked for any transatlantic flight. We adore the Lil’ Wet Suit bag that permits a last swim in the hotel pool right up until you have to head to the airport, and doesn’t take up much room in your carry-on. Sure, traveling with a little one can be challenging, but if you’re armed with a good sense of humor and packed gear that’s well-thought out, you’re good to go.
In a Nutshell: Take the pain out of packing (how much can you fit in one suitcase?) by parceling out your baby’s necessities via this travel-friendly accessories line.
Juggling two kids’ schedules competes for my attention every day. As a mom who’s been working from home for the past decade, I’ve become a master at time management and, on most days, feel like I have a pretty good handle on things. Even though my girls’ lives are undeniably busier than mine was at their ages, their schedules are predictable for the most part. But for moms of little ones, trying to get a baby to nap on queue, or take a bottle when they’re good and ready, is easier said than done. Aiming to make new parents’ a little less overwhelming comes Baby Bundle, a brand-new mobile app designed to simplify your baby’s everyday routine at the swipe of a finger. Monitoring Tools let you record and manage your baby’s sleeping, feeding, diaper-changing and even your breast-pumping activities. Super-techie, on-the-ball parents can even export the data to share with their pediatricians at monthly visits. Wonder how Junior is measuring up to his baby cousin in Denver? Just consult the Growth Tracker where you can record height, weight and other vitals while comparing to national averages. (Right up there for sports dads checking game stats!). Or, get your geek on by linking your doctor appointments to your calendar, while learning what you can expect at each check-up. Of course, no baby development app would be complete with a photo journal–aptly named Stream of Life–that lets you organize pix, note milestones and create journal entries to share with family and friends. Or just to moon over when you look back at how fast that first year went (sigh)…
In a Nutshell: This is one baby app that will help you feel you’re more in control of your life. The sweetest part.
Happy (almost) New Year! Have you joined the resolution-making camp? You know the drill: The road to 2014 may be paved with good intentions, but as most folks know–whether they’ll admit to it or not–most resolutions fizzle out before spring. If you vow that this year will be different–you will put that gym membership to good use and get up at 5 a.m., even if it kills you–then we commend you and aim to help you achieve your goal (just don’t expect a gym buddy). Instead, we’ve been checking out some of the newer activity bands, and have found one worth treating yourself to. Oregon Scientific’s Ssmart Dynamo has all the bells and whistles you expect from a fitness tracker, but with an ease of use that is unparalleled. The Ssmart Dynamo works via a downloaded app that allows you to track your steps (to help you figure out just how many calories you are burning), as well as to see how much (or little) sleep you are getting. This device then plots activity trends for different durations and can store up to 14 days worth of data. Compatible with your iPhone, iPod touch, iPad or Android smart phone, the Ssmart Dynamo is ready to work as hard as you are. It may just make keeping that New Year’s resolution a little less challenging… at least until spring.
In a Nutshell: Getting in shape for the New Year? This smartphone-synchronized gadget will help you get there with minimal effort.
No matter how many times we clean it, our family room still ends up looking like a storm blew through it. “What’s the point in cleaning up if it just gets messy again?,” purports my precocious 9-year-old. Despite her “logic,” I’d still like our home to resemble a somewhat civilized place. If you subscribe to the philosophy of ‘a place for everything, and everything in its place,’ but are looking for something a little more stylish than those acrylic bins from the dollar store, we’ve found just the source for you. Pehr Designs offers Petit Pehr upscale nursery and play room furnishings that fit into your home decor seamlessly and without pretense. The storage bins are roomy enough to stash a menagerie of stuffed animals, and light enough for a preschooler to carry and transport her plush pals into her bedroom (why should moms have to do all the work, anyway?). Fun throw pillows, like the Gotta Roll Fox Pillow, feature whimsical prints, while beautiful blankets and nursery pillows boast decorative accents that will render your own bedding dull in comparison. The Petit Pehr collection also includes swaddle blankets, crib sheets and other accessories to make your nursery or play room look like it belongs on the cover of a magazine. (Maybe now that you’ve got the kids cleaning up after themselves, you’ll actually be able to sit down and read one!)
In a Nutshell: Nursery and play room furnishings that turn chaos into order, one stuffed animal at a time.
When my younger daughter was in diapers, my legs got quite a workout. I was forever forgetting to bring an extra pack of diapers downstairs, and so made many a mad dash up to her room to grab a fresh diaper, wipes and other necessities. When I finally got my act together, I put together a small wicker basket filled with supplies. As tasteful as it was, this basket wasn’t entirely practical. I sometimes tripped over it when it was in the middle of the floor, and it never looked right in the middle of the dining room table. Now, if the Windel had been around when I was a new mom, my home might have looked a lot less cluttered, and I might not have stubbed my toe so often. This wooden wall accessory may look like a picture frame or hanging photo cube, but open the doors and you’ll discover a cleverly concealed changing caddy with plenty of room for a stash of diapers, diaper cream and more. There’s even a hidden opening that dispenses wipes, so you can grab a few in the midst of changing without missing a beat. And that means no chance of a stubbed toe.
In a Nutshell: A discreet diaper caddy that fits into your home decor. Add a photo of a proudly smiling mama, and the look will be complete.
Today we picked up school supplies for my 9- and 5-year-olds. We have it easy this year, as our school works with a local retailer to fill orders by grade and have them boxed up and ready to go. It’s truly one-stop shopping, and there’s no hunting for that special 3-ring binder or illusive composition book with the correct number of ruled lines. It also means no fun extras that we always manage to accrue every year, like scented colored pencils or purple glue sticks. But that doesn’t mean we can’t pick and choose an item or two that can shake up the classroom routine and update our home repertoire. Enter the Crayola Wild Notes line of notebooks and journals, featuring black (gasp!) lined paper and a gold writing instrument. Talk about breaking the rules! My 9-year-old has been using the notebook to write letters to pen pals this summer. It’s also the perfect way to inspire creativity, whether it’s jotting down assignments, making to-do lists or just plain doodling. If you’re looking to jazz up your kid’s back-to-school supplies, consider adding an item or two from the Wild Notes collection; it’s got all the “write” stuff!
In a Nutshell: Head back to the classroom with notebooks and journals that are anything but ho-hum.
Psst! Yeah, you. Can you keep a secret? OK, here it goes….my house is a mess! I mean, no matter how much I try to move the newspapers into the recycling bin, the toys into their bins, the laundry into the dressers, I just can’t keep up. And since I work from home, I feel guilty that our home isn’t as tidy as it could be. Barbara Reich must know just how I feel. Her just-released book, Secrets of an Organized Mom, speaks to me in a way that doesn’t make me feel so terrible about my chaotic household. Instead it leaves me with practical tips that don’t require a fancy smancy organizing system–just some common sense. Reich’s how-to book breaks down the otherwise arduous task of house-cleaning into a more manageable series of mini projects: room by room. You can read the chapters out of order and start with whatever part of your house needs the most attention (for us, it’s the playroom) and jump right in. Personally, I liked Reich’s starter advice, especially about making a decision and acting on it (I am queen of holding on to papers for those “what if?” moments.) And if ever you find yourself becoming overwhelmed, recalling her digestible mantra–purge, design, organize and maintain–will get you back on track. And you may just have a cleaner house…even if it only lasts for a little while (sigh…)
In a Nutshell: Just in time for spring cleaning, Secrets of an Organized Mom is a breath of fresh air that helps de-clutter your house and your mind.
A girlfriend of mine regretted never getting baby announcements made up for her son, but it was completely understandable. She had a toddler to care for, along with a newborn, and she could barely manage a daily shower, let alone correspondence. When her life calmed down and she settled into a new routine many months later, my pal decided to turn her annual Christmas card into an official welcoming for her family’s newest addition. For those new parents looking to commemorate their baby’s arrival–even if it has been a few months or more–the pressure is off. You can give yourselves a one-year grace period and instead create a personalized keepsake that celebrates the first 365 days of their little one’s young lives. My First Year cards are a special way to share your baby’s milestones, both big and small, with loved ones. With 30 fill-in blanks, each card includes standard announcement information (date/time of birth, height and weight), while also chronicling moments like “first Halloween costume” and “most effective method for putting baby to sleep.” Sleep-deprived parents who still have their sense of humor intact will appreciate other “firsts” such as “pees on parent” and “throws a tantrum.” (After all those 3 a.m. feedings and endless diaper changes, we should be allowed some fun!) Faraway relatives and friends will surely treasure receiving snail mail that tells a unique story: the one that’s all about your special delivery.
In a Nutshell: If you never got around to sending out baby announcements, here’s a chance to redeem yourself in your great-grandmother’s eyes. My First Year cards are available in packs of 5, 10 and 20. Or purchase one and frame it for the nursery.
I always get a little bummed right around the summer midway point; when I was a kid, my grandmother used to say, “After July 4th, summer’s over.” To this August-born babe, I was horrified by her statement and to this day, I still relish those dog days of lemonade drinking, firefly catching and all the little joys that make the season what it is. Imagine then those bittersweet feelings I experienced this week when the Lands’ End back-to-school catalog landed in our mailbox. It got me to thinking that it’s time to replace last year’s backpack with something a little more, shall we say, “lively.” After all, when you’re a rising third grader, anything remotely babyish just won’t do. So when we got a load of new 3D backpacks from Raskullz, we knew we could make a statement. Inspired by the 3D bike helmets from the same company, these backpacks pack a personality that’s unforgettable. Whether it’s Cutie Cat, Buggins, Radgon or Shark Attax, each pack boasts three-dimensional features that practically pop out at you. Our favorite is Buggins whose antennae and legs look so lifelike, this bag could carry itself to school. And judging from the amount of homework that’s expected for third grade, that may just come in handy.
In a Nutshell: It’ll be back to the books before we know it. Make sure your kid has the right bag to manage his heavy load, without messing with his cool factor.