Back to School Must Haves from Momtrends’ Back to School Bash

 

We’re still very much in summer mode, however, when it comes to trend spotting and scouting the best kids’ products, we’re always looking ahead. Last week, together with many of my blogger friends, we descended upon Momtrends’ Back to School Bash to check out some of the coolest gear and gadgets for Back to School.

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Joules

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I had the chance to meet British clothing brand, Joules at the Momtrends’ Back to School Bash. This brand makes beautiful, classic yet modern clothes with bold prints. The girls’ styles were age-appropriate, yet super stylish. The boys’ looks were polished, classic and fun. I loved the boots and outerwear and the vibrant colors that make these pieces stand out!

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Aidan, my friend Alicia from Mommy Delicious’ son, modeling some looks from Joules.

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Paula’s Choice

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Always on the hunt for new skincare lines that work for me, it was great meeting Paula’s Choice. While Paula’s Choice makes a variety of products designed for different skin types, I particularly loved learning about their Clear line which is designed for oily and acne-prone skin. Paula’s Choice products are intended not to be irritating, so there are no fragrances or dyes or anything that could be harmful to your skin.

 

Vamousse

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photo credit: Momtrends

Having kids in school, there’s no doubt that at one point you’ll be faced with sick kids and possibly receiving a note from the school nurse that someone in your child’s class may be infected with lice. That dreaded letter has found its way to my son’s backpack this year more times than I could count. Lucky us, products like Vamousse are designed to be effective yet non-toxic. At any given time, I always have a Vamousse treatment kit in my arsenal, knowing that lice infestations can happen at any time with 2 boys in school. I also like that they have Lice Defense Daily Shampoo as well as Lice Elimination Powder. And, yay me! I won a cool Amazon gift card from Vamousse at the event. Thanks for being a sponsor!

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Thanks to Vamousse, we were treated to a braid bar from Glam Squad. I had a great time getting my hair braided and catching up with Julie Cole, one of the founders of Mabel’s Labels! 

Chewbeads

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Known for their teething-friendly accessories, Chewbeads were onhand at the Momtrends Back to School Bash to showcase their new line of JuniorBeads. Perfect as accessories for kids, these necklaces, bracelets and pendants are made with silicone and can double as sensory tools. My younger guy has special needs and low tone, and we often have to exercise his jaw muscles with chewing on things, so these pendants would be perfect for him. Have a kid who bites their nails or needs some sort of sensory tool? JuniorBeads would be ideal for them. I love the necklaces, shark tooth pendant and that military tag!

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Mabel’s Labels

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One of my family’s must-haves year-round, Mabel’s Labels showcased several new designs, combo pack and a cool new school years memory book. I’m eyeing the limited edition zombie design for my tween who has outgrown the cutesy designs. The School Years Memory book is a perfect solution for parents who want to collect special certificates, awards and occasional artwork. I love the oversized size that can actually fit the giant posters that the kids bring home. The price is right around $30, making this affordable and an absolute necessity when organizing for the school year. 

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Nalgene

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As a lunchbox enthusiast and gadget nerd, I absolutely loved learning about Nalgene’s new Lunchbox Buddy. This durable and versatile lunchbox is made with the same material that makes Nalgene so popular. I love that these lunch boxes are simple and rugged; the box itself can be thrown in the dishwasher and the outer case can be thrown in the washing machine—perfect my messy kids! And something that I never knew: all Nalgene products have a lifetime warranty. How’s that for awesome? I truly respect brands, especially ones that accommodate kids, that can stand behind their own reliability.

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Earth’s Best and Ella’s Kitchen

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In between school, sports, volunteering and all of the other demands of life, some days, we need an easy dinner solution. (ok, most days) Thank goodness for Earth’s Best. Earth’s Best has an extensive line of frozen foods that are geared to families. These products are void of all the bad ingredients, but packed with flavor and portability to boot. I loved tasting the different flavors, with the mini meatballs and pepperoni stuffed bites as my favorites. I will be adding Organic Fruit Cups into our lunch box rotation for when cheap fruit is no longer an option!

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Sister brand, Ella’s Kitchen has been a mainstay in our pantry since Littles started eating solids. I love the delicious flavors they offer for baby foods, and their Nibbly Fingers are the best for babes and toddlers. I loved learning about their smoothies, which I’ve been including in my preschooler’s summer school lunch box. Those things are a hit!

 

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Keen

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Keen, known for their awesome sandals, was featuring highlights from their fall lineup. I’m eyeing several boots and hightops from my guy. I adored the sparkly hightops for girls, only wishing they came in my size. I appreciate that this brand is known for their casual and rugged look and feel, which is ideal for school-aged kids.

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Wall Pops

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Wall Pops offers a great selection of wall coverings that can be used as decor or as functional tools that are helpful for staying organized or informed. Always a fan of the oversized calendars, I love that they have maps and dry erase wall pops that make our school days seamless. We like using Wall Pops as calendars and as an unobtrusive way of reminding us what to do and when! My friends and I loved hanging out in the photo booth, thanks to Wall Pops!

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A big thank you to Momtrends for having me once again at the Back to School Bash. As always, I loved checking out the awesome trends for fall, as well as hanging out with my girls!

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Full disclosure: I received a generous swag bag and won a gift card at this event. As always, all opinions on NKT are my own.

 

 

Toy Fair 2015 Faves: Knit’s Cool, Snap Pets, Lego Minecraft, Plan Toys

There was so much to see and do at Toy Fair this year. Before I share about the trends I saw, I wanted to share a few of my favorites from this year’s show. Most of these toys won’t hit shelves until this summer or fall, so here’s your sneak peek at a few of my favorite next kid things:
 

Knit’s Cool
 

Spinmaster’s Sew Cool did so well last year that they’re riding the maker trend with a number of cool activity sets for Tweens. Knit Cool is an interesting set that allows kids to knit with ease, similar to that of finger/arm knitting. I can’t wait to see this generation of kids continue to make cool things with their own imagination and ingenuity.
 

Snap Pets

Selfies and tech toys were displayed loud and proud at Toy Fair. Snap Pets from Wowee is a fun selfie tool that can be used to take selfie images or as a remote. Tweens will love the small size of this cool selfie tool. 
 

Lego Minecraft

Speaking of creations, Lego, as expected, has a slew of cool new sets. Because Lego Minecraft was one of hottest gifts last holiday season, I thought I’d share a few photos of the upcoming sets in this series.

I saw a lot of new and upcoming Lego sets that encourage kids to forego the instruction manual and enjoy open-ended play. The crafting box is just one of many sets that give suggestions on what to build, but just like the digital version of Minecraft, this set capitalizes on pure imagination.

The Mine is another cool set that I loved seeing coming to life. The skeleton, creeper and spider are my favorite part of this set!

The Ender Dragon is another cool set that is sure to be huge among Minecraft aficionados.

Plan Toys
 

Plan Toys remains one of my absolute favorite toy companies, not just because they produce aesthetically pleasing goodies, but also because they’re eco-friendly and socially conscious.
Here are just a few of my favorite finds from my Plan Toys booth visit.
 
This chalkboard table set would look super cool in a playroom or classroom!

This rocket nesting toy is so eye-catching. The toys nesting inside were never-ending!

I can’t resist boat toys. This sailboat was so classic and cute!

If only NYC taxis could be this innocent and cute. Nevertheless, I love this sweet wooden taxi.

You can’t go wrong with wooden pull toys. Plan Toys owns the cute card in this category.

 More details and fun finds to come!

Preschool Non-Candy Valentines: Twistable Crayons + Free Printable

At my house, we have approximately 17 tons of candy leftover from all of the various holidays. With Valentine’s Day class parties looming, I knew I wanted to do a non-candy treat for the preschooler’s class party. But other than candy, the only other options seem to be plastic tchotchkes, and who needs any more tiny plastic toys?

I opted to do a more practical Valentine’s treat: twistable crayons.

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When checking out the discount store for something else a few weeks ago, I spotted these packs of twistable crayons on the clearance rack for less than $1. For my older guy, these crayons were like currency in Kindergarten. Biggie was also known to trade crayons with his best buddies. They did so much coloring, these Twistables were a fun change. For preschoolers, many of whom can barely hold regular crayons without breaking or dropping them, these packs of twistable crayons seem like such a fun alternative to candy and toys.

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Since the personalized candy bag tag is so hot on the DIY circuit, I knew I wanted to do something along that vein. But, again, these packs of crayons were such a find because creating the Valentine card/tag would be so easy. 

 

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First, I measured the inner label in the crayon pack. I considered making a label that would cover both sides, but knew that would be redundant. I opted to create a tag just for the front. The front label measured about 2.5 x 4, which is just about the same size as a classic valentine’s day card. 

 

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Next, I headed to Picmonkey to create a “pun”ny card to slide over the front label. Since the crayons are all about color, I went with “You brighten my day, Valentine!” And as a play on the twistable crayon, I created a tag that says: “You’re a twist above the rest, Valentine!”

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Since Littles doesn’t write anything other than circles yet, I had big brother help me personalize the crayon packs with some name tags. We punched out red card stock and wrote the kids’ names in silver Sharpie and slipped it into the back. We closed the pack and sealed it with a decorative V-day-themed washi tape. Names are blurred out to protect the innocent <3

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Since my guy’s preschool class is rather small, as in less than 10 kids, buying one of those Valentines class packs with 25 cards would be a waste. So, I’m very happy with the way these crayon packs turned out. Instead of candy or tiny toys, we have crayons that my preschooler’s classmates will (hopefully) use again and again!

Hurray for practical goodies!

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And since Valentine’s Day is all about sharing the love, I thought I’d share the tags with you. I grouped the 12 tags together for you to download and print for your personal use. The tags are about 2.5 x 4 in. and would be perfect for a pack of crayons, markers or anything colorful!  p.s. I eyeballed measurements, so the layouts and sizes are wonky. Of course it is…

Enjoy this freebie! If you use this, I’d love to see how your projects turned out. Make sure to Pin or share on IG and tag me! I’m jenrab on all social media outlets.

Beachin’ it with Paul Frank Summer Essentials

Lazy summer days simply don’t exist in our house.  Since we live in an active lake community and an active town in general, we typically find ourselves trotting from one fun event to another. Most of our summer mornings are spent at our lake’s “beach,” so we are in beach mode for almost the entire summer.


 

For us, “beach mode” entails snacks and meals on the go or packaged to eat on the beach.  We also always have our beach essentials packed into our beach bag and wagon.  Beach essentials include staples for the kids such as sunscreen, towels, beach toys and, of course, snacks!

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On that end, our June Saban Brand-bassador box included some super cool Paul Frank beach staples to supplement our ample supply.  I love that our Paul Frank pride is on display with the Skurvy Beach Towel, Reusable Snack Pack and Tumblers.

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The Skurvy Beach Towel is a big, cozy towel that’s both suitable for guys and girls.  It has polka dots, complemented by the signature Paul Frank Skurvy.  Both of my guys love warming up in this towel after a swim or simply laying out on it under the sun.  This towel can be found on Amazon.com for $17.00.

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The Paul Frank Snack Pack is a cool eco-friendly reusable snack pouch.  It folds flat, yet opens up to an elongated triangular shape that seals with Velcro.  The Snack Pack holds fun snacks like pretzels and popcorn and is perfectly sized for smaller portions.  My only wish is that it was bigger!  The Snack Pack retails for $6.50 each on Zak.com

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The tumbler is a fun cup, perfectly suited for either of my guys.  It has Julius on the front, with a convenient rubber bottom.  Like the Snack Pack, the tumbler is BPA-free and dishwasher safe, so clean up is easy and convenient.

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All of these beach essentials are perfect for on-the-go summer outings or relaxing days at home!

 

Full disclosure:  samples were provided as part of the Saban Brand-Bassador program.  As always, all opinions on NKT are my own.

Oogaa Feeding Products Put the Fun in Function

Plastics in baby bottles and feeding products has been a topic of discussion for some time now. The research has been done, and BPA and phthalates are chemicals we should try to avoid.  Even though there’s been some conflicting info floating around, it’s safe to say, these are chemicals we don’t want in our baby products.  

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On that note, we’ve seen an increase in baby products made of different materials such as silicone, stainless steel and glass.  One of my absolute favorites has been silicone, because of its versatility, durability and convenience.  The rubbery texture of silicone often doubles as a teether AND it’s virtual kid-proof.  

Healthy Child Healthy World recently shared an article on silicones in our baby products, but the consensus on its safety seems to be: more research needs to be done, but it’s safe to use for our babes.

We recently received a line of Oogaa feeding products to review.  These products, made of silicone, are, hands down, some of my favorite feeding products to date.  To start, they’re bright and fun, something that’s welcomed after such a cold and gray winter.  

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The spoons have cool airplanes, boats and other designs in the middle that make them not only fun tools, but also more weighted.  Like many who already do this, mom and dad use the fun airplane or train spoons together with those sound effects to make baby eat that baby food.  

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We’ve been using the placemat on top of the high chair tray for easier clean up when eating yogurt or other messy foods that the toddler insists on feeding himself.  The portioned plates, though, are perhaps my favorite. I can cut up fruit and cheese and put in each compartment so that the tot can pick and choose bite-sized pieces himself, but to also control portion sizes.  With the two boys eating such different amounts of food, I often forget that the toddler has a much smaller appetite and pickier palate, and food often gets wasted because of this.

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Best of all, after eating, clean up of these Oogaa products is super simple.  Because of the products are made of silicone, it’s easy to just throw them into the dishwasher.  

There’s a variety of awesome Oogaa feeding products ranging from the spoons to plates to placemats.  The plate and spoon set would make an ideal baby shower gift—talk about functional!

Here’s a little vlog we did when reviewing these fun feeding tools from Ooga:

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Full disclosure:  I received these products to facilitate this review.  As always, opinions on NKT are my own.

Things We Love: Fun and Colorful Goodies and Gear

Cold, wintry days often mean monochromatic shades of gray for weeks at a time.  We’re currently craving warmth  and color on the dull days, and enjoying these goodies (and gear) that channel some much-needed cheery vibrance.

 

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EO Bubble Buddy

 

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Winter, especially with small children in school, typically equates to germs…lots of them.  There’s been a lot of negative reports about antibacterial products lately, which is why I prefer old fashioned soap and water when it comes to hand washing.  In fact, I’m currently I’m in love with EO’s Bubble Buddy. This kid-sized foaming soap squeezes out and features natural and pure ingredients and is paraben free, polysorbate free, disodium EDTA free and sodium laureth/lauryl sulfate free. With scents like orange, coconut and lavender, Bubble Buddies makes clean up time a little more fun.

 

 

New Balance

 

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A departure from my predictable and conservative gray New Balance sneakers, the Splatter 890v3 make quite the colorful statement for kids.  Neon colors are a resounding throwback design trend and remain a mainstay in kid style. These New Balance sneakers not only boast a brighter presence, but also feature glow in the dark details and splatter design. My boys have this style and have been sporting them when we head to the indoor playspace.  I love how the bright colors contrast against all the snow and gray landscape of winter.  Aside from the bright colors, I always love that the New Balance’s baby and toddler sizes feature a hook and loop closure.The Splatter 890v3, which was unveiled this fall, is available in toddler and youth sizes and are currently on sale.  

 

 

Play-Doh Rainbow Pack

 

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A longtime fan of Play-Doh, I’ve probably mentioned how my love for this classic modeling compound has been renewed with the babe’s ongoing therapies.  Between his occupational and developmental therapy, we get even more use of Play-Doh around here.  So, between the big kid’s creative sessions and the little’s therapy, we seem to always be creating something colorful, which is why I absolutely love Play-Doh’s Rainbow Pack.  With a palette of 33 different colors, the Rainbow Pack is ideal for those open-ended play sessions where a handful of colors just won’t do.  Even better, the singular packs found in the Rainbow Pack make Play-Doh even more portable for those families on the go.  The only caveat I found for this fun spectrum of Play-Doh is the clean up and storage afterward.  I don’t like mixing the colors, so we try to preserve each individual color by wrapping each one in plastic wrap.  There has to be a better way, though.

 

Pantone

 

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Having studied a bit of graphic design and then working closely with magazine production, I appreciate that Pantone remains the color standard.  A Pantone-influenced children’s book is an ingenious idea.  I couldn’t think of a better way to introduce a spectrum of color to young kids, than by the authority itself.  In this Abrams title,  nine basic colors and 20 shades of each are overviewed, giving toddlers and preschooler a bright primer on the beauty of color. The  puzzle element to the book gives it a tactile approach to engaging the kids even further, though unfortunately, we’ve learned by experience that these pieces are easily lost.  Nevertheless, Pantone Colors is our color theory board book of choice.

 

Ruum Headphones Hat

 

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We’re obvious fans of Ruum Kids Wear, but when I say I love them for their unique style, I mean LOVE.  Beyond the cool, yet classic styles, Ruum has some of the best accessories to boot.  Right now, they’ve got crazy sales going on, including their winter gear.  In January and early February, I like to stock up on basics for the next size up, but I positively love this cool headphone hat.  You rarely see purple for boys, so I always love that I can turn to Ruum for boy color schemes beyond baby blue.  Best part of this unique hat, besides the fact that it’s on sale for about $3?  You can wire a pair of buds so that they actually depict the design.  Want some gloves to match? Those are $3 bucks too! Cool!

 

Hunter Kids Boots

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I’m sure I’ve professed my love for Hunter Wellies before, but I’m currently loving these bright yellow boots for kids.  The fire fighter and lady bug rain boots get overplayed, so why not opt for a pair of yellow Hunters that are well worth the investment.  In addition to rainy days, Hunter boots can be paired with warm boot socks and worn in the snowy weather. If you have an older kid and need functional, colorful rain boots, check out Hunters.  These are the kind of staples that are worth the investment and hold up as hand-me-downs.

 

 

 

Kid Made Modern

 

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I’ve been in love with Todd Oldham’s kid craft line Kid Made Modern since its debut at Target a couple of years ago.  From the basic colored pencil sets to the craft kits, Kid Made Modern takes craft sessions to an all new level of cool.  Santa gifted Biggie with the coolest ukelele personalization kit and comic creation kit.  It’s like Kid Made Modern can read our creative minds to combine fun, function and crafting.  I’m currently eyeing the Felt Frenzy kit, which would be a great collaborative craft with the toddler and big kid.  The colorful kid-friendly felt crafts make this kit a perfect snowy day activity.

Kidz Vuz Holiday House Party Highlights

A couple of weeks ago, Biggie and I had a much-needed mom and J day.  But it wasn’t just a regular day out, it was a day well spent getting our hands on some of the best gear for tweens.

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Though J is a few years away from the official tween stage, we were in great company at the Kidz Vuz Holiday Party.  In case you’re not familiar, Kidz Vuz is a safe online hub where tweens gather to dish and disseminate their thoughts on any and everything, including the latest gadgets and gear.

The Kidz Vuz Holiday Party, held at Gary’s Loft just footsteps away from the hustle and bustle of Herald’s Square, was abuzz with a slew of tween-appropriate goodies.  From tablets to gaming consoles to books to broadway, The Kidz Vuz House Holiday Party had everyone covered.

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Here are some highlights of the wonderful day we had at the House Party of the season:

Samsung

Samsung was front and center showcasing their Galaxy Tab 3 Kids 7.0.  Just as the name suggests, this 7 inch tablet is geared to kids and packs a punch in a colorful little package.  Heavy on the parental controls, this wi-fi enabled tablet allows kids a safer, yet simple interface.  There’s also a standard mode so parents can use the tablet as a fully functioning tablet.

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I didn’t get that much time with this cool device, but I was quite impressed with this kid-friendly tablet.  My only reluctance about this device is the yellow and orange, which, for us, wouldn’t be as appealing in a year.  At just six years old, my older son is already turned off by electronics or “babyish” devices.  We’ll group him into the spoiled Apple generation.

Nintendo
We didn’t spend much time at the Nintendo Lounge, but it was quite the hotbed for the tweens and teens, which meant the target audience was satisfied.  We did, however, have a chance to check out a few of the Nintendo DS games, which were fun.  Unfortunately, we’re not a big DS family since we mostly co-play on our XBox and PS3 and J prefers the iPad to a DS.  Nevertheless, I always enjoy Nintendo’s expansive offerings on their various platforms.

Spinmaster

J spent almost the entire afternoon at Spinmaster’s nook.  He was immediately drawn to the Tenkai Knights building sets.  Along with several other dudes, J built creation after creation until he could build no more.  Untitled
We are longtime Spinmaster fans, so we have been testing out the other toys they had on display.  I loved seeing how my favorites, Kawaii Krush and Zoomer, were well-loved.  Tenkai Knights have firm placement on our Christmas list.

Hasbro

Hasbro, another longtime favorite of ours, had several fun toys for the kids to explore.  The most popular of the Hasbro corner, though, was definitely the Rebelle shooting range. This fun extension of Nerf includes the Heartbreaker, Guardian, Sweet Revenge and Pink Cross.

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À la Katniss from Hunger Games, the Rebelle Heartbreaker underscores the popularity of archery, especially for our fearless females.  Make no mistake though, plenty of boys were giving the gear a spin for themselves.

The Furby Boom, which is looking like a hot item this holiday season, was also a featured product from Hasbro.  This new take on the quirky character is interactive via an app, is responsive and loves to dance.  This latest iteration of Furby is much more vibrant (if that’s even possible) and has more flair than ever.

Downtown Bookworks

This fun children’s publishing company had a selection of superhero books that made quite an impression on us.  With board books featuring DC Superheroes, such as: DC Superheroes, ABC 123 and My First Batman Book, this publisher has numerous titles that would make our littlest superhero fan stand proud.
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But it was The Official DC Super Hero Cookbook that kept my biggest superhero fan completely engaged. I love that this book combines two of our loves: superheroes and cooking.  The Downtown Bookworks table let the kids decorate their own superhero cookies with a stencil.  J made his own Flash cookie, which we devoured on the bus on the way home. By the way? This Wonder Woman apron was EVERYTHING!

Green Mustache Smoothies

One of my favorites of the day was Green Mustache Smoothies.  Created by a mom of a picky kid, these smoothies are made with a full serving of greens and fruits.  It’s non-GMO, organic and tastes amazing.  My younger guy is showing picky tendencies or textural issues, but he absolutely LOVED these smoothies.
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We normally buy another brand of smoothies, but after tasting these, we are sold.  In fact, I’m headed out today to pick up a few flavors at our closest store, which is 20 miles away.  I will be dropping off an info sheet at my local organic store, in hopes they pick this product up.

Chloe’s Fruit

Chloe’s Fruit was another delicious treat, this time featuring frozen fruit.  With quite a few flavors to choose from, I can see myself choosing this delicious treat over Tasti d-lite anyway.

The Lamp NYC

The Lamp NYC is an organization described by NYCcharities.org as an organization that educates and equips people to shape the media landscape through hands-on training.  The Lamp NYC teaches young, impressionable minds about news, reporting, commercials, digital media and more.  The purpose of this charity is to immerse kids head-on with the different types of media that shapes our ever-evolving informational landscape.  I love the purpose and meaning of this charity, and it’s one that I hope to get my kids involved in, when the time is right.

Kids’ Night on Broadway

Kids’ Night on Broadway takes place on Feb. 24- March 2.  For this program, kids 6-18 see a Broadway show for free with a full-paying adult.  Tickets go on sale on January 8th for this fabulous experience that gives kids a taste of culture as well as a peek behind the scenes during a fan festival.  This is definitely something I’m hoping we can take part in, so I’ll be penciling in the dates now!

Stonefire Flatbreads

Lunch was catered in part by Stonefire Flatbreads.  J and I ate some delicious sandwiches made with these amazing breads.  These are the fluffiest flatbreads and pitas I’d ever tasted.  Seriously, so fluffy and filling!  A big thanks to Stonefire for introducing me to a new family staple.

Homewood Suites

One of our absolute favorite places to stay when we’re on the road is most definitely Homewood Suites.  In fact, during Hurricane Sandy last year, we had a family member who was staying at a local Homewood Suites and we had the opportunity to stay there for a week.  We had the chance to experience the great complimentary weekday meals, fabulous indoor pool and impeccable service.  Whether traveling for business or with family on vacation, we personally seek out the comfort and convenience of establishments such as Homewood Suites.

Dermalogica

I had the opportunity to get my face mapped while at the Kidz Vuz House Party.  The well-versed aesthetician told me things about my skin that I had no idea about, such as I could still have acne prone skin and it still be dehydrated.  I also learned a bit about the Dermalogica’s teen line, which is more concentrated for problem skin that is often brought about during those hormonal teenage years.

Justin Case

Kidz Vuz had a lovely raffle going towards Lamp, which I was more than happy to make a contribution.  As luck would have it, I won a fabulous Justin Case Rechargeable Power Case from Innovative Technologies, which is a back up battery and iPad case all in one.  I read all about it on NYTimes.com, so I’m quite excited about this win!

A big thank you and congrats to my friends Rebecca and Nancy of Kidz Vuz.  I attend a lot of events throughout the year, and this was, by far, one of the most well-organized and informative events where my kid and I both came away with a lot of great information and fun goodies to boot.

Full disclosure:  I was not compensated, although I did receive a generous swag bag from the event.  As always, all opinions on NKT are my own.

Navy and Mustard: on-the-go Baby Essentials

On the way to school this morning, my older son looked up at the sunshine and determined that Spring is almost here. It’s true; with just a few weeks of winter to go, Spring is, indeed, right around the corner.

And so, since many of my fashion and beauty writer friends (Vera of Lady and the Blog and Jill of Glamamom come to mind) have been sharing the vibrant trends to come, I was inspired to share just some of the many cool baby finds that have been hibernating in my inbox and bookmarks.

I’ve done styleboards and Polyvore boards before, but I’m finding that this is a great way to encourage fresh content while merging social media and fun graphics. I have to note that this particular board was inspired by the Stokke Xpory Winter Kit (which is still very much a necessity for most areas) and that super chic chevron Patemm Pad (which is exclusive to Pottery Barn this Spring.)

So, by the numbers, here are just a few on-the-go baby essentials inspired by these brisk days leading up to a sunny Spring!

1. Clek Foonf

You know how Natalie Portman says in The Garden State that the Shins song will change your life? Well, that’s what I’m getting from the Clek Foonf. Except it’s a car seat. Yeah. So, from what I’ve read and seen, the Foonf is a game changer in the car seat realm. As it should, car seat safety is constantly evolving, and from the reviews I’m seeing, the Foonf is being described as revolutionary. And when it comes to kid safety, who doesn’t want the best?
The seat pictured is called Dragonfly, and it’s one of the many color options of the Foonf. I felt this one had a modern, minimalist feel with its white base and mossy colored seating. Expect to pay top dollar for this sleek car seat that boasts the highest safety standards and features REACT Technology.

2. Thermos Tripoli Foogo Vacuum Insulated Soft Spout Sippy Cup

Sippy cups from Thermos are typically as sleek in function as they are in aesthetic. Foogo was always one of my favorites with my older son, so I’m glad this mainstay in the stainless steel sector has designs beyond licensed characters. Besides the sustainability, I always found that Thermos sippys are just as durable.

3. Skip Hop Treetop Friends Wise Owl Stroller Toy

I’ve been a longtime fan of Skip Hop because of their modern yet playful designs. I know the owl craze has been fading, but I love the colors and textures of this simple stroller toy.

4. Aden+Anais Brilliant Blue Swaddle

Parents know, especially in the infancy stage, a great blanket and/or burp cloth are diaper bag staples. Based on conversations I’ve had on Twitter and simply by walking around the city, Aden+Anais Swaddles have reached a cult-like status among parents because of the versatility of these muslin swaddles. Before Beyonce introduced Blue Ivy to the world with an A+A swaddle in the backdrop, many of us were using these lightweight blankets to wipe up barf, use as a nursing cover, stroller shade and, yes, even as a swaddle. Just as glamorous as Bey, right?

5. Stokke Xplory and Winter Kit

As a devoted Stokke fan, naturally, I adore just about anything this Norwegian company conjures up. Truly. We invested in the Sleepi crib for our oldest and haven’t looked back since. The Xplory, however, sets the bar higher for strollers—quite literally. It boasts a higher seat, giving baby a better view of their new world and more opportunity to interact with their caregivers. The Xplory is noted for its comfort and maneuverability, which is particularly important for families who consider their strollers their main mode of transportation.
For those of us who are still wearing heavy coats and snowboots, the Stokke Winter Kit is, perhaps, an essential for your stroller arsenal. From the sheepskin edged rim to the warm muffs, the Winter Kit is both functional and stylish for baby and parent.

6. Itzy Ritzy Snack Bag in Social Circle Blue

Reusable snack bags are just a few of my favorite items that make sense for families on the go. Whether they’re Annie’s Bunnies or baby puffs, reusable snack bags like these from Itzy Ritzy help diminish waste and add a little flair to the diaper bag.

7. Navy Chevron Patemm Changing Pad Pottery Barn Kids

If there was ever a diaper-changing essential, the Patemm Pad is it. A round changing pad that actually accommodates your growing child AND all of the accoutrements? Say no more. Patemm Pads not only have stylish prints, but they’re also mom-invented. This chevron print is exclusive to Pottery Barn Kids this Spring, so be sure to grab one while you can.

8. timi & leslie diaper bag Sophia – Lemon Yellow & Shadow White

Beyond the color scheme on this board, style and function are the other overlapping themes. Timi & Leslie diaper bags are synonymous with style while remaining functional. Like many other moms on the go, I don’t have time to switch from diaper bag to work or evening bag. Seriously. One of the greatest compliments is when a non-mom friend compliments my diaper bags, thinking they’re “regular” bags.
The Sophia bag in Lemon Yellow and White, which is part of the Convertible Collection, is a roomy bag with a variety of pockets, yet maintains a sleek satchel silhouette on the exterior. I like that this bag looks like leather, but is a vegan-friendly material. And going back to functional, I’m absolutely loving the clutch that’s included. It’s all about the details!

The Olympics and Swimming with SwimWays

With the Olympics wrapping up last night, I’d be remiss without giving an update on Biggie’s swimming progress and how it coincided with the games, and actually, our community’s latest festivity.

As I previously mentioned, this summer will forever go down in history as the summer that Biggie officially learned to swim, and we’re so thankful for Swimways for helping to make that happen. Of all the fun products we’ve been enjoying all summer, it’s the Sea Squirts Swim Assist vest that has helped Biggie build his confidence and skill in the water.

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Together with swim lessons from certified instructors and daily trips to the lake, the Sea Squirts has given him the boost to learn his ability on his own.He can jump into the deeper swim lanes to swim laps, as well as play around in the shallower water without hesitation. He’ll take off his vest to swim freely and confidently, but he still knows his limits, and when it’s time to put the vest back on. I like that it’s lightweight and buoyant, so the vest doesn’t do all the work, or make him stay floating up top. And, not only has it been a fun teaching tool, the clever blue shark fin has garnered so many cool compliments from other parents, the lifeguards and friends.

We loved watching the Olympics this summer, now that Biggie is a swimmer. We enjoyed watching all the different swim styles and watching history be made right before our eyes! Biggie had the chance to meet Olympic Gold Medalist Aaron Piersol at an event for Auro-dri last summer, but to see this latest batch of athletes excel in their craft, was something truly special.

Jack with Olympic Gold Medalist, Aaron Piersol
Of all the swimmers, like many other kids, Biggie was mesmerized by Michael Phelps. As we watched him collect even more medals to become the most decorated Olympian in history, Biggie had some words to say to him.

Dear Mr. Phelps,

Thank you for helping kids to like swimming. I like swimming and watching you is cool. I like how you practice hard and win your races. Keep helping kids so they can be happy and exercise too. I like all of your medals! Good job!

Biggie is a boy of many words, as you can see! But, as a family, who has spent most of their summer in the water, we’ve enjoyed watching the Olympics, and especially witnessing Phelps’ trials and triumphs. I admire his work with kids and the influence he has on the importance of water safety. I can’t wait to see what he does next.

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On a related note, our lake community has a roster of fun activities for families throughout the year. This past weekend was Royal Weekend, which is a long tradition that has been passed down generations, and one that Biggie was so excited to be a participant. The Olympic-themed event was held all weekend, honoring a duo of high school students and their achievements, before they go off to college and start their lives away from the lake. It’s a quirky tradition, but still so fun to see and take part in. The “royals” are both lifeguards and fixtures at the lake, so, to see the little kids look up to them is so fun.

What a fun, fun summer this has been!

Full disclosure:  I received product samples as part of the SwimWays Swim Team program, but as always, all opinions on NKT are my own.

Back to School with The Children’s Place: Mom Knows Best

Ready or not, here it comes!  As summer starts to wind down, the back to school frenzy begins…just like that.  All summer however, I’ve been checking out the latest and greatest in back to school trends.  I’ve seen a lot of looks ranging from retro, classic and edgy.  But of everything that’s new for the season, the best look we’ve found, ultimately, is the one that lets kids be kids.

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A brand that gets it right by offering a myriad of styles while remaining age-appropriate and affordable is The Children’s Place.  And so, when TCP, one of my favorite retailers, asked me to take part in a back to school promo that involved styling Biggie, it was a no-brainer.

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As I studied their back to school lookbook, I couldn’t help but get nostalgic about The Children’s Place.  I remember my mom perusing the racks when shopping for our back to school outfits.  And so, being tasked to style my soon-to-be school age son for a promo for TCP, I must admit, it was supremely surreal, considering I wore their clothes as a kid and a vast majority of my childrens’ basics are from this same brand.

Back to school looks for everyone

The back to school looks, as I mentioned, seem to assuage all tastes, shapes and kid sizes.  The girls’ pieces, though strikingly pink, retro and sparkly, also offer classic and more subdued styles as well.  As a mama of boys, I usually have tunnel vision for the more rugged and edgy styles. The Children’s Place tasked me with styling my boy for some back to school looks.  They gave me about a $150 price range to work with, which was more than enough to pick and create many looks.

I had a fun time picking out styles that I thought suited Biggie.  He’s an outspoken four-year old, and one who just happens to have a penchant for clothes.  It doesn’t matter what it is, this kid loves clothes.  He’s obsessed with cool pjs, wearing sporty clothes for playing outside and even, getting “fancy” when we go out.  This could be my doing, but hey, you can’t fault a boy who appreciates being well-dressed.

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The pieces I chose were a mix of preppy and classic, with navy blue as the dominant hue.  I try to buy timeless and durable clothes that would potentially be in style and in great shape four years later for baby bro.  I like to layer because the weather in northern Jersey is very unpredictable in the fall and because he’s a boy. Hello, ketchup on the top shirt.  Thank goodness for that undershirt! As for accessories, I went with items that Biggie loves: a skateboard bookbag since he loves skateboarding; a striped tie because they make him feel “fancy”; and classic navy sneakers.  The sneakers, by the way? They look like they’re regular laces, but they’re not! They’re actually elastic, which makes them easy to slip-on–perfect for kids who can’t tie their shoes yet!

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I love the way his looks came together!  Biggie was such a great sport, considering it was 80 degrees on the day I took these pictures, and according to Biggie, he had “too many clothes on,” yet he still managed to cheese it for every photo!  We shot these pictures at this tiny red school house in Florham Park, NJ, as suggested from a friend.
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Getting him all dressed for this mini photo shoot got me all excited and anxious for the first day of school!  Do you guys like this time of year as much as I do?  What sort of clothes do you buy?

Check it

As part of their Mom Knows Best back to school campaign, Biggie will be featured on TCP’s FB page!  If you feel so inclined be sure to vote for us and the styles I chose!  I’ll be sure to link when it goes up.