Free Thank You Printable: You’re The Balm

School just ended and we had so many things to celebrate with our wonderful teachers. Littles had a lot of help with his transition into preschool. I was so grateful that these wonderful educators always take such great care of my boy. I felt we could go a bit further than a gift card or generic card. So, I combined some fairly inexpensive beauty items that I absolutely love with a catchy phrase, and voilá!

 I made a super easy thank you gift that conveyed my thanks for multiple teachers and aides who took care of my special needs preschooler all day.

IMG 9914

For this gift, I bought multiple flavors of EOS lip balm and lotions. I then bagged and added a ribbon and a tag. I really think the tag turned out super cute for something I whipped up in just a few minutes. End result: You’re the Balm thank you gifts! EOS balm and lotions can be found at Target and Bed Bath and Beyond. And when they’re on sale or if you have a coupon, it makes them that much sweeter.

Image 1 Tangerine Open rev 22

 

I noticed that there’s a few new flavors and loved being able to incorporate them into my gift. I definitely want to try the tangerine medicated lip balms for myself. As for the lotions? I can’t get over the easy to grab and portable packaging. The scents are fresh and sweet; the only thing about these lotions is that I’d love to see even more scents!

Image 1 Berry Blossom Hand Lotion Closed rev 34

 

And these You’re the Balm thank you gifts can be used beyond teacher gifts! I shared the printable on Facebook and my friend used it for her friend’s bachelorette and bridesmaid’s gifts. When it comes to giving small beauty gifts to show your gratitude, the possibilities are endless. And because I’m all about sharing the love, please download the printable here! If you do use it, don’t forget to Pin it or comment below or on Facebook and tell me how you used it!

IMG 8805

SwimToday and Dara Torres Promote Swimming as #FunnestSport

A few weeks ago, I had the distinct pleasure of joining an informative media event at the Asphalt Green for SwimToday, hosted by our friends at MomTrends. SwimToday is a joint, industry effort created to promote and grow participation in the sport of swimming. The campaign is led by USA Swimming, Arena USA, Speedo USA and TYR Sport.

Dubbed the #FunnestSport, this campaign hopes to highlight the many benefits of swimming as a sport. SwimToday and MomTrends brought together influencers to listen to Ambassador and Olympic Gold Medalist, Dara Torres, and hear several swim moms share their kids’ experience as swimmers. 

IMG 7434

Before Dara shared her experience, I enjoyed learning some benefits of swimming as shared by SwimToday:

·       It’s closer than you think – 62 percent of families live within 10 minutes of a pool; 52 percent of households with combined income of $50,000 or less report they have access to a pool nearby

·       Everyone participates – Swimming is inclusive, there are no benchwarmers (nor benches)

·       Swimming is a team sport – Only 16 percent of non-swimming parents view swimming as a team sport but parents of swimmers associate the sport with teamwork more than any other sport

·       Suit up and go – Only a swimsuit, cap and goggles are necessary to get started

·       Life skills – Swimming increases self-confidence, self-esteem, time management, goal-setting and social development

·       Easy to learn – 76 percent of parents said the ease of learning to swim was high

·       Low risk of injuryNo contact makes for a safer environment

·       Swimming = total body fitness– Burn 650 calories in an hour – more than walking, biking or team sports

·       Sport for life – Once you learn to swim, you can enjoy no matter your age

·       Swimming is FUN – Parents confirm that swimming is the #FunnestSport

I appreciated the swim moms’ different perspectives about their children’s involvement as swimmers. For some, their kids love for swimming began as tots, for others, swimming opened brand new avenues and camaraderies. I enjoyed how the moms shared how swimming rounded out their kids altogether.

IMG 7406

Dara Torres shared how her career as a swimmer didn’t always go swimmingly. In fact, there was a time she said that she didn’t always come in first. Since her youth, however, she said she worked hard and never gave up. She was constantly reinventing herself and striving to do more as a swimmer. I loved listening to her speak as a swim mom and how her career has molded her outlook as a parent. She was so down to earth and well-spoken. I think we could’ve listened to her talk longer, had there not been any time restraints.

IMG 7440

Since we live at a lake, I’m proud to be a current swim mom. My older guy enjoys being active and participating in sports, and swimming is one of those sports that we’ve just recently added to our summer schedule.

IMG 8926

Unlike the contact sports that he prefers, swimming is a challenge because it’s still new to him and he’s constantly competing against himself in addition to participating as a team. As the other swim moms mentioned at the SwimToday event, swimming competitively allows the kids to develop special bonds with teammates. It gives kids a chance to challenge themselves and learn how to better themselves with every lap. At 7 years old, my guy isn’t the strongest swimmer, but I appreciate his willingness to try hard and to pull through for his team.

IMG 6936

I see us continuing to be a swimming family, especially now knowing that my younger guy loves the water. For someone who’s had so many challenges, being in the water seems to make him feel invincible. It didn’t take much for SwimToday to convince me that swimming is the #FunnestSport. We are pretty lucky to live by the water and are able to enjoy swimming almost every day in the summer!

To learn more about SwimToday and the #FunnestSport, be sure to check them out on Facebook. Head to SwimToday.org to find a swim club near you.

 
 

Join Tommee Tippee For a Twitter Party 6/18

Our friends over at Tommee Tippee are holding a Twitter Party on Thursday, June 18 1-2pm! Tommee Tippee will be chatting all about what parents are doing this summer with the kid lets. If you aren’t already following Tommee Tippee, be sure to check them out at @tommeetippee_NA and I’m at @jenrab.

I hope to join in, so if you participate, be sure to say hi. We have a busy summer planned already, I can’t wait to get the show on the road! 2 more days of school!

11401013 10153390465441585 8614153554578642215 n

Full disclosure: this is a sponsored post. As always, all opinions on NKT are my own.

Whole Wide World Toys Village Playsets Introduce Diversity and Culture

Unearthing new and innovative toys is our favorite thing to do around here. When it comes to checking out new toys that help my kids grasp different cultures and diversity, I get down-right giddy.

IMG 0346

As a multicultural family living in not-so-diverse town, playing with toys that allow us to have healthy conversations about race, culture and to examine what makes us different is rather important. Whole Wide World Toys sent us some a set of their new World Village Playsets—China, and we’ve been enjoying learning about China and a culture that isn’t very familiar to us.

The World Village Playset is multi-faceted; it comes with a fabric playmat, a chunky wood puzzle with 13 pieces, a My China Travel Journal and 14 story cards. The set encourages culture with creative play, and that’s exactly what I found my kids to do upon opening the set.

IMG 0347

My youngest was immediately drawn to the playmat and wooden puzzle pieces, whereas my older son was intrigued by the cards and journal. The playmat and wooden puzzle pieces quickly turned into a scene where they made up a story and were able to interact with one another. We learned English translation of each item from the puzzle pieces and enjoyed the story, which gave us more insight.

I appreciate that this set encourages curiosity about different cultures and serves as a wealth of conversation starters. The amount of open-ended play that the set allows is great for younger kids, as well as older grade schoolers. I especially found this set to be a wonderful way to engage in speech and language with my younger son who has a speech disability.

 

IMG 0348

I totally visualize that this beautiful set could be used within a classroom setting to complement a lesson about China or at home for kids who are genuinely curious about culture. I can also see this Whole Wide World Toys to be a great resource for multiracial families like ours, or in a blended family where a child is adopted from a China or another country.

Overall, this well-made playset is an excellent tool that encourages culture, creativity and conversation about the world around us. You can find Whole World Wide Village Playsets on Amazon or at specialty retailers.

Mail from YouTube: Stampy Cat’s WonderQuest Launch

As we returned home from DisneySMMC a few weeks ago, we were treated to a surprise package from our friends at YouTube.  I love the smirk on Biggie’s face as he revealed contents:

It was a signed poster from none other than Stampy Cat! It’s not every day that you get snail mail from your favorite YouTube super cat!

If your kid plays Minecraft as much as everyone else’s, there’s a chance that he or she also knows about StampyCat. In fact, at my house, I swear, my kid watches more StampyCat than he actually plays Minecraft. Don’t get me wrong, if my kid is going to be staring at a screen, I’m glad he’s watching content that I’ve approved and encourages imagination. 

If you’re not on the up and up about Stampy, then you must know that this YouTube channel stars a cat, and overviews the countless ways that Minecraft can be played. According to The Guardian, Stampy’s channel on YouTube has upwards to 5.6 million subscribers and nearly 3.4bn video views. The main audience of this channel are, not surprisingly, children.

The kids are drawn to the funny banter and easy-to-follow gameplay. As if he’s a big brother paving the way through the mines, Stampy is the kid’s virtual buddy and a bonified pop cultural phenomenon.

Maxresdefault

With this wild success comes other great ideas. The creator of Stampy Cat, Joseph Garrett, has launched a new second channel called Wonder Quest. Guardian reported that it’s a 12-episode show of the same name that aims to blend education, entertainment and – while still shot within Minecraft – higher production values. Wonder Quest is a partnership with Maker Studios and YouTube is the official distributor.

Tube Filter reported that there will be a supplement animated series to Wonder Quest called I Wonder. The show will feature  Stampy and his friend Wizard Keen further explore the educational topics presented in the flagship series. Both shows will be hosted on the new Wonder Quest channel.

Finally, Garrett’s Side Quest series contains eight episodes of Let’s Play-style videos where Stampy and his friends play games in maps featured in Wonder QuestSide Quest will be hosted on Garrett’s original Stampylonghead channel, which boasts over 5.6 million subscribers.

After watching an episode or two, I think Stampy is here to stay. I love that this show is scripted and set in the same Minecraft World, and keeps the same funny vibe that kids love. That lovable, fun tone is what keeps the kids engaged, and if that’s what it takes to mesh education with screen time seamlessly, I’m all for it.

 

 

Tommee Tippee Tableware Streamlines Travel for Families on the go

Like many families, we spend a lot of time on the road in the summer. Whether it’s visiting grandparents out of town or heading to the beach, we’re always on the go, and rely on gear that helps us get to where we’re going. 

 

IMG 3675

I can’t tell you how many meals we have when we’re on the road: granola bars before rugby practice, Go Go Squeeze before swim meets and, yes, even cereal with milk on the road down to Va. Like most toddlers, my 3 year old is still perfecting his eating skills, so he needs tools that help him accomplish those tasks. Tommee Tippee has a great range of feeding tools that work so well for families on the go.

IMG 4847

 

Tommee Tippee’s Easi-Roll bib is my all-time favorite bib for my kid, and as gifts for baby showers. This super-practical bib is softer, yet durable and easy-to-clean after the messiest meals. I love that you can put the bib into the dishwasher after eating. The best thing about this best is that you can roll and tuck it right into your diaper bag or carry-on to have it accessible for road trips or any time you’re eating on the go.

 

410x340 1 8

TT’s Section Plates remain a mainstay for all meals at our home. These plates are sectioned off into three compartments, making it easy to portion food for toddlers and keep them from not touching! Unlike other toddler plates, this plate has an ergonomic shape that makes it ideal for little hands to grasp (when they’re not snoozing, that is!)

 

IMG 4915

Pop Up Storage Cups always come in handy for road trips. In addition to Goldfish or Cheerios, we love throwing my toddler’s little collectible toys in the Pop Up Storage Cups. Whether it’s little bouncy balls or crayons for his coloring books, the Storage Cups are great to contain items to keep within reach in the car. Added extra: they fit perfectly in the car and booster seats’ cupholders.

410x340 1 7

 

Easy Scoop Feeding Bowls are another fave for summer excursions. Some mornings in the summer, we start our days early to get prime spots at the beach. This often means we’re eating breakfast in the car, which is where the Easy Scoop Feeding Bowls with Lid and Spoon come in handy. C’mon, whomever thought of stashing the spoon in the lid is a genius!  When we don’t misplace the lids, these bowls are ideal for easy eating at the beach.

410x340 1 6

Do you have any favorite gear that helps you when you’re on the road? Whatever you’re up to this summer, I hope you streamline your travels with easy-to-use gear when you’re on the go.

 

Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post and I am being offered compensation for my time and effort. As always, all opinions on NKT are my own.

Skylanders SuperChargers Reach New Heights with Vehicles; Debut Set for September 20

Activision announced its latest installment in the Skylanders Franchise today. Skylanders SuperChargers will debut on September 20, 2015, which will bring this beloved game to new heights.

Skylanders SuperChargers Logo

In SuperChargers, Portal Masters will take the helm of high-octane vehicles on land, sea and sky. From vehicular combat, races down rapids and aerial dogfights, Activision says SuperChargers will feature story-driven gameplay, vehicle-based and on-foot adventures, puzzles, mini games, activities and platforming.

Skylanders SuperChargers Dive Bomber 1

SuperChargers Dive Bombers

IMG 7836

 

SuperChargers will have 20 new character toys and 20 new vehicles. Starter Packs will include two new Skylanders characters and a new Skylanders vehicle, as well as a new Portal of Power. The game will be available for preorder starting today, June 3 for $74.99. According to Activision execs, the previous Portal will be functional with this game, as well as a Digital Players’ version where the game itself can be downloaded on select consoles, adding even more play value to Skylanders SuperChargers. I’ll share details on that once it’s released.

SSC Generic SP Contents FINAL HiResSuperChargers Starter Pack

IMG 7850New SuperChargers Characters

 

Skylanders SuperChargers feature a new class of heroes. The namesake SuperChargers boast swift moves, powerful attacks and new weapons. The developers, Vicarious Visions, have given SuperChargers special in-game abilities that will uplift players to take on Kaos.

Skylanders SuperChargers Storm Blade 1

Storm Blade

Skylanders SuperChargers Spitfire 1

Spitfire

Skylanders SuperChargers Super Shot Stealth Elf 1

Super Shot Stealth Elf

 

First Look at SuperChargers at #MTSKylanders

Back in February 2011, I remember standing on my tip-toes in the back of a room of journalists, trying to see the stage while listening to Activision executives talk about their next big thing. It was a video game that combined video games and tactile play with collectible figures, that would go on be a major game changer.

Yesterday, I stood on my tip-toes to get a glimpse of Skylanders, but in a much different setting. I had the unique opportunity to attend an intimate lunch hosted by Momtrends to learn about the latest installment of Skylanders. The beloved franchise is unveiling their fifth installment in their character-driven game and they gave a select group of NYC bloggers a firsthand look.

 

IMG 7806

IMG 7807

IMG 7821

 

As major Skylanders fans, it was a treat to get the first look of this new installment of the game we love so much. Skylanders has perfected upping their own ante with each new installment. Is it any wonder why the game remains the top console game for kids? Upon first look, my mind was blown. The vehicles and SuperChargers add a whole new dimension and explore different terrain at a new perspective. The SuperChargers will surely be well received by kids and gamers alike. The vehicle figures alone add so much tactile play value; I see even younger Portal Masters-in-training getting into the mix with the introduction of the cars, planes and vessels.

IMG 7855

Skylanders, as a whole, is the embodiment of The Next Kid Thing, and I’m thrilled to give you a first look of the game in-play.  The video I shot looks and sounds very much like a bootleg because of the setting. Because of the nature of the reveal, we were asked to sign an NDA and video opps were informal since it was a luncheon. Nevertheless, here’s a first look of Skylanders SuperChargers in action:

 

Skylanders not only gave us an exclusive sneak peek of SuperChargers the day before the official announcement, they treated us to a very special Skylanders-themed gift bag. In it, we received a lunch box, Thermos Foogo, Gil the Grunt pillow, Crayola Color Alive book and various stickers. In honor of the SuperChargers unveil, I’ll be giving away one of these fun goody bags!  I’ll post an update on this soon.

IMG 7874

IMG 7876

A big thank you to Activision for always including bloggers in your outreach. As a family who has been a fan since the first unveil, it was an honor to be included in yesterday’s luncheon. 

Thank you to the Momtrends team for hosting a lovely and delicious lunch where I got to see friends, eat delicious food, craft and geek out!

IMG 7864

IMG 7778 

 

Skylanders SuperChargers will be available on Xbox 360™ and  Xbox One™video game and entertainment systems from Microsoft, PlayStation® 3 and PlayStation® 4 computer entertainment systems, Nintendo’s Wii U™ system, and a different, unique adventure will be made available on Nintendo’s Wii™ system and the Nintendo 3DS™ hand-held system. Additionally, the complete Skylanders SuperChargers experience will be available on iPad®. The game will be available on September 20 in North America, September 24 in Australia/New Zealand; and on September 25 in Europe. 

 Full disclosure: I attended a hosted event and received exclusive information to share with my audience. I received swag bags and lunch, but as always, opinions on NKT are my own.

TTPM Spring Showcase Gifting Suite Haul

A few weeks ago, I attended TTPM’s Spring Showcase, where the latest and greatest for spring and summer toys were revealed. It’s always great to hear the experts’ opinions on the hot toys of the season.

IMG 8751

And this time around, hot toys range from outdoor toys, to ride on toys from Razor, to movie-inspired gear and goodies. Be sure to check out TTPM’s full lineup of this season’s hot toys.

IMG 8784IMG 8770IMG 8743 2IMG 8758

Like their other showcases, TTPM hosted a gifting suite where press and influencers receive samples of toys that might be relevant for their outlets. I met with all of the exhibitors, but typically only grab samples that are a fit for us. I let the boys do a haul of the samples I brought home with my usual sidebar comments! Be sure to head to our YouTube channel to check out the video!

 

Join Us for a Twitter Party with Safety 1st on 5/27 at 8pm

Join us for a Twitter party! We’re partying on Wednesday night, May 27th at 8pm with our friends at Safety 1st. Together with several of my fellow bloggers, we’ll be celebrating parenting victories and talking about the very cool Step and Go from Safety 1st.  If you have some parenting victories to share, be sure to keep it real with us and join the conversation at #StepAndGoParent

If you don’t already follow me, be sure to follow me on Twitter @jenrab, and of course, follow our gracious hosts: @Safety1st.

 

Safety1st StepAndGo Twitter Party FB 527


Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post and I am being compensated for sharing this information. As always, all opinions on NKT are my own.

Highlights from The New York Baby Show

Eight years ago when I started this site, I was inundated with baby gear research. Like many other parents, I spent hours researching the best products for my own baby. That research ultimately led to the creation of The Next Kid Thing.

All these years later, one of my most favorite things is attending shows, especially ones that showcase cool new gear and goodies. Last weekend, the kids and I made our way to Pier 92 for the New York Baby Show.

17615374679 4e06f16ebd b

photo credit: Momtrends

Quickly becoming one of my favorite baby shows, this year’s New York Baby Show didn’t disappoint. This year’s show featured more than 140 exhibitors for expectant and new parents to meet and learn all about. Alongside of the expansive list of exhibitors, the New York Baby Show rounded out their weekend-long show with sessions conducted by parenting experts and other informative sessions. Twiniversity and NYC Dads Group, two organizations that I proudly call my friends, were among the experts who led sessions. 

17798824382 06cb561c87 b

photo credit: Momtrends

And speaking of friends, new this year to New York Baby Show was the Blogger Lounge hosted by our friends at Momtrends. As always, Momtrends knows how to host a fun soiree; it was a treat that manis and blowouts were offered by the Glam Squad.

17614780399 6fbcede4af b

17775085836 229307a127 b

photo credit: Momtrends

Before hitting the floor at the show, bloggers were treated to lunch, some glam and had the chance to meet several brands before the show. The Blogger Lounge also provided childcare courtesy of the Nanny League, which was basically a two hour playdate for Littles.

17170905693 fa91e48ff2 b

 photo credit: Momtrends

So, while Littles was hanging out at the childcare area, Biggie and I walked the showroom floor to meet and great with the exhibitors. Biggie was my photographer for the evening, and he was able to capture photos as I networked.

IMG 6817

I loved the way many of the companies interacted with him as he took pictures, but my favorite was when we approached Canon’s booth. Canon, the presenting sponsor of the New York Baby Show, was on hand to showcase several of their latest cameras, including the beautiful and wifi-enabled 70d and T6i models.

IMG 9543

photo credit: Jack Bertram

As I spoke to one of the Canon reps to share my longtime love for their products, another gentleman was so nice to engage with Bigs. He asked to see his photos and made him giggle while I ogled.

Back to the babies: there were so many favorite brands at this show, so it was almost impossible to visit every booth. But here are just a few of the many brands that we loved visiting at the New York Baby Show:

My friends at Regal Lager had a spectrum of beautiful Cybex gear, but the innovative Cloud carseat was my absolute favorite. IMG 9597

photo credit: Jack Bertram

This thing grows with baby; it’s incredible. Love to Dream swaddles promote the arms up sleeping position that many babies naturally love. The textiles for these swaddles are so soft and pure. I love recommending these super practical swaddles and sacks to all of my new mom friends.

IMG 9599

I loved stopping by the Babyganics booth to check out their growing product line. Their sunscreens and hand sanitizers are staples in my beach bag.

IMG 9513

Shea Moisture is another personal favorite that I loved meeting. The Mommy scrub is so perfect for expectant moms and even ones who, like me, just love the smell and feel of this delicious scrub.

IMG 9518

photo credit: Jack Bertram


I was excited to see Nordic Naturals exhibiting at this show because I JUST bought their Children’s DHA liquid which comes highly recommended for kids with speech delays. I add a few drops into Little’s smoothies and voila! I’ve noticed a difference since he started the drops, and I’m thrilled that this liquid seems to be gentler on his sensitive stomach. Nordic Naturals offers a range of supplements applicable for all members of the family.

 

IMG 9526

photo credit: Jack Bertram

I met lots of newcomers at this show, which is always exciting. I can’t wait to learn more about this crib mattress, these snacks and this cool new family camp in Vermont. 

IMG 6792IMG 9536IMG 9492

One newcomer that I wasn’t able to meet was the stroller company, gb. I wanted to get a closer look at the Qbit, which appears to be a smaller stroller that would work well for city families. 

IMG 9578

 If I had an unlimited amount of time, I would have loved to walk the show for another day to meet the other exhibitors that were too busy to chat. The New York Baby Show is a fabulous forum for expectant and new families to learn, shop and engage with family-centric exhibitors. What I truly appreciate about this show is that the whole family can enjoy the day together. 

IMG 6774
The two-day format on the west side allows for show-goers to truly take in all that this show has to offer, from information sessions to visiting all the booths to taking a stroll on the test track. If you’re pregnant or have a new baby and want to check out the latest and greatest, be sure to put the New York Baby Show on the must-do list.

A big thank you to Momtrends and New York Family for having us this year. As always, I enjoyed covering this show and look forward to sharing more.
 
Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post and I am being compensated for sharing my experience. As always, all opinions on NKT are my own.