Quirky Toy Fair Finds

With every Toy Fair that I attend, I come away with a good idea of the direction that toy makers are going. In terms of toys, we’re getting more tech-enabled, yet we’re riding the throwback wave.  I try to mentally catalog the cool new toys and how the kids will receive them.  As the experts say, ultimately, it’s the kids who deem the cool factor of these shiny new toys and games.

Quirkytoyfair

 

BUT…  that’s not to say that the Toy Fair showroom floor doesn’t have its crazy aspects.  There are some crazy-cuckoo ideas and then there are some crazy-cool ideas, too.  And then, there’s the quirky things that find their way home with me. And by quirky, of course I mean unique!

So, here’s a round up of a few things that I found quirky-cool.

IMG_0399

Lady Gaga Brush Buddies

Ok, so, I love Gaga.  I would go as far as saying that I secretly wish I could be one of her little Monsters.  But alas, I’ll just continue to rock out to Paparazzi full blast while carting my kids around in the car. Or maybe, just maybe, I’ll rock out to “Born this Way” as I brush my teeth. What!

IMG_0388
Brush Buddies features a replaceable brush head and two buttons to play two different songs.  Each song plays for 2 minutes, which is the dentist-recommended time for brushing teeth.  This Lady Gaga Brush plays Born this Way and, aptly, Teeth.

Rabbids

Who doesn’t need a collectible rabid, um, punk rock rabbit? Inspired by the hit video game-turned popular Nickelodeon show, Rabbids Invasion Toys embrace the quirkiness of these characters known for their wild antics.  

IMG_0397

This line, which is a part of McFarlane Toys,  features a new lineup of crazy toys that include a sound blaster, action figures, plush and blind packs such as this.  As you can imagine, each Rabbid is just as crazy as the next.

Lil Bub

Unbeknownst to me, Lil Bub is a full-blown internet sensation; as in, she has upwards to 357k followers on Instagram, 34K followers on Twitter and very own Wikipedia page—celebrity status.  Lil Bub, who was born with several genetic mutations, has a short lower jaw and toothlessness which makes her tongue always hang out.  

IMG_0392

She also has osteoporosis and short legs, which is said to  restrict her movement.  She’s doing well thanks to her owner and therapy.  Lil Bub’s story has been a heartwarming sensation; her owner has sold Lil Bub merchandise to benefit animal shelters.
Lil Bub will now have her very own plush to benefit even more great causes.  My cat has made a friend with the plush Lil’ Bub.  

 

Mad Lab from Fairy Dust

While walking the aisles of Toy Fair, I’m always on the hunt for something different, even if it’s totally gross.  Fairy Dust, makers of girly bath gels, lip gloss, sugar scrubs and DIY bath product stations often found at little girl spas, made me stop in my tracks when I spotted their bowl of eyeballs and zombie heads.  Amidst the pink and sparkly backdrop, with table after table of beautiful tubs of lotion and soap, in one corner sat a gross-looking selection of stuff that I knew my boy would LOVE.

IMG_0380  

I made my very own tub of bath gel with a green soap that pumped out like ooze, threw in a layer of sparkles, plus a few zombie heads, eyeballs and a finger for good measure.  Oh, and the finger?  It unscrews and is a bubblewand.

IMG_0383

As crazy as it looks, it was an absolute hit with my zombie and gross stuff-loving dude.  Bath time has never been more crazy.

image

Emoji Icons

Everyone loves Emojis, right?  The fact that emoticons are now embedded into our vernacular says a lot about us.  Emoji Icons extended everyone’s love for our digital expressions of emotion. They made Emojis into a bracelet that can be personalized and it features the fun little faces and even the quirky little poop icon. ha!

IMG_0390 IMG_0391

Rattlesnake Eggs

Now, this last one wasn’t a toy sample or anything.  It was actually given to me in a trade show survival kit from one of my favorites, Prince Lionheart.  

IMG_0379

The kit was so memorable and functional; I ate the granola bar and used an Advil that was included in the kit.  But the rattlesnake eggs, well, that knocked me off my socks! I got a kick out of it, for sure! If you’ve ever seen something like this before, I’m sure you know what I mean!

 

 

 

Make Every Day Mother’s Day with ONE.org

With Mother’s Day just a few days away, I’m sure dads, kids and loved ones have some great ideas lined up for the mamas in their lives.  I love baubles, flowers and “stuff” as much as the next gal, but I’ve been mum on the whole Mother’s Day gift ideas for several reasons.

Reason one: I don’t really *NEED* anything—well, besides sleep, I can’t think of a single thing that I need.  Want?  I can give you a long list…but, need?  I’m so thankful to be in a position where my wants continually outweigh my needs.

Most importantly, in our constantly evolving world, so many families are really, truly in need right at this moment.  Moms can’t provide for their babies, and sadly, there are some moms who aren’t healthy enough, or in a position to be an advocate for their babies.

And then, there are those women who pick others up when we can’t stand on our own.  And right now, my friends, our world needs more of that.

Cooper Munroe, one of the co-founders of TheMotherhood said it best in her recent blog post on ONE.org:

Mothers make the world go around.

Read Cooper’s moving post about how Maria Mchele Mwasonge changed her community in Tanzania with her small potato farm.

Today at 1 PM ET, The Motherhood will be hosting a live, text-based talk with the ONE Campaign and Every Mother Counts to celebrate mothers everywhere. Please join us and share what inspires you about mothers and learn more about what we can do to help mothers and kids around the globe who need us.  Along with several amazing co-hosts, I’m honored to lend my voice to help spread this message.

In case you’re not familiar, ONE is a grassroots campaign of more than 2 million people committed to the fight against extreme poverty and preventable diseases.

If you have a chance, check out Laura Bush’s video about Making Every Day a Mother’s Day with ONE.  Let’s all pitch in to use our voices and platforms to help more moms with their needs.

Please, join us!

Changing the World, One Flip Flop at a Time

Flip flop season is almost upon us; the time of year where many of us bare our toes and opt for the ubiquitous summertime footwear.  At our house, weather permitting, we tend to wear our flip flops from the end of April to October.

I’m such a fan of flip flops, but among our many pairs, I’ve never really considered what happens to the flip flops after we’re done with them.  Donate? Hand them down? Let them collect dust?

How about recycle?

Genius.

There are a few organizations that accept old flip flops to recycle them into something else to give them a new life.  Check out what cool things that can be done with those 10 year old flip flops that have put in many, many miles.

TerraCycle

This forward-thinking company isn’t new to recycling and upcycling.  TerraCycle is the organization behind those cool Capri Sun bags, among other functional items.  I absolutely love what they’re going to be doing with old flip flops.

TerraCycle and Old Navy are partnering in a month-long drive to collect used flip flops and recycle them into four public playgrounds around the country.  The public can stop in any Old Navy store in the U.S. between April 22-May 21 to deposit used flip flops in designated collection bins.

As such a big supporter of getting kids to play outdoors, combined with this innovative recycling effort with a major retail store, I think TerraCycle and Old Navy’s partnership to create playgrounds is simply awesome.  I’m looking forward to hearing more about the playgrounds and the neighborhoods where they’ll go.

My only wish about this program is that I’d love to be able to donate all of our old flip flops to recycle them to create playground mulch for our neighborhood.  Maybe one day?  With kids constantly outgrowing their shoes, I’m sure many families would pay good money for something like that, and truly repurposing objects that would inevitably create more waste in our landfills.

Old Navy will collect old flip flops in designated collection bins from April 22 to May 21.


UniquEco Designs

UniquEco is another innovative organization that recycles old flip flops, but has an emphasis on cultivating social liveliness in more ways than one.  UniquEco, out of Nairobi, Kenya, collects old flip flops and employs talented artisans who create unique consumer goods out of the flip flops. Check out the UniquEco shop.  The Champali bracelets and necklace are currently on my wishlist.


As trash and thousands of flip flops washed up on the shores of Africa, UniqueEco was started in part as a clean up effort, which in turn, became the organization it is today that employs local people who create amazing handmade products.  I love the significance behind UniquEco and think this is such a valiant foundation to support.

Involving kids to donate and collect old flip flops to send to UniquEco underscores the ‘recycling’ and ‘reusing’ lessons they’re taught, but also teaches kids the impact of being socially aware and responsible by contributing to a cause that also provides a sustainable livelihood to those in need.

To send your old flip flops to Uniqueco:
PO Box 15565-00503
Nairobi, Kenya

UniquEco will donate 9% of the sale price for all products sold from your footwear.

Share Your Breakfast and Help Fight Childhood Hunger

Imagine not having the resources to adequately feed your child; even worse–sending your child to school on an empty stomach.

According to a survey released a few weeks ago, two-thirds of teachers across the U.S. say they have children in their classrooms who regularly come to school too hungry to learn because they are not getting enough to eat at home.  It’s a proven fact that hunger impedes our childrens’ ability to learn and perform academically, but fortunately, there are organizations and brands who are shedding light on childhood hunger.

Kellogg’s has partnered with Action for Healthy Kids to help remedy this sad reality of childhood hunger.  With their campaign, “Share Your Breakfast” Kellogg’s is is asking people to take pictures and “share their breakfast” on their website.

From now until July, an uploaded a photo of your breakfast can help combat childhood hunger.  One photo upload to www.shareyourbreakfast.com or the word SHARE texted with a photo or a description of your breakfast to 21534 equals one shared breakfast.

With nearly 1 in 4 kids in America struggling with hunger, Kellogg’s goal is to share 1 million breakfasts in the 2011-2012 school year.  With all the information I share online here on NKT, on Facebook and Twitter, a simple photo of breakfast is the least I can do to help a child in need.  We hope to do our part and share our breakfast as soon as we can, and I sincerely hope you consider to do the same.

Check it

Kellogg’s will be kicking off the Share Your Breakfast campaign tomorrow in NYC in Grand Central Station, where they will be feeding thousands of people breakfast from 6am to noon.  I’m hoping to make my way over there to help support this worthy cause.

Aside from uploading a photo of your breakfast, you can help spread the word about this important campaign. There will be a Share Your Breakfast Twitter party tomorrow, March 8 from 10 – 12 AM EST. Be sure to visit www.mombloggersclub.com for more details.

Disclosure:

This is a sponsored post through a compensated Mom Bloggers Club member program.

Build-A-Bear and St. Jude Kick Off Cause for Celebration

Mondays are usually unbearable for me, but not today. Today, in fact, will involve…well, a few bears.  We’ll be at the Build-A-Bear flagship store in NYC helping Build-A-Bear Workshop and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital kick off their new partnership, Cause for Celebration.

In an effort to make even more children happy, Cause for Celebration is a national  fundraising partnership between Build-A-Bear Workshop and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Starting today, party hosts will have a Cause for Celebration: those who schedule a party at any Build-A-Bear Workshop store have the option of adding an additional $10 dollar donation to their party. Their entire ten dollar donation will be directed to St. Jude to support research and treatment at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

The charitable aspect of the party goes both ways: In honor of each Guest donation to the hospital to help with research and treatment, Build-A-Bear Workshop will give a St. Jude patient a gift card to any Build-A-Bear Workshop.

To celebrate the launch of Cause for Celebration in NYC, Marlo Thomas, the national spokesperson for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Maxine Clark, Founder and Chief Executive Bear of Build-A-Bear Workshop will be onhand to meet fellow partygoers.

Check it

Even if you’re not hosting a party, during the month of March, you can still make a donation to St. Jude’s during the check-out process at any store or at buildabear.com

In line with the launch of the Cause for Celebration program, Build-A-Bear Workshop is giving their Facebook fans with the opportunity to win a “Cause for Celebration” party valued at $300 for themselves and friends. Build-A-Bear Workshop will award one party each month from March through August. All participants in this contest will be entered to win the grand prize, a Build-A-Party celebration valued at $500 and plus a $500 contribution to St. Jude made in their name. Check out their Facebook page for more details.

Photo credit: Marlothomas.com

Holly Robinson Peete to Host Webinar on Food Allergies

Because allergies run rampant in our family, this topic has been on my radar well before I became a parent.  Once I became a mom, introducing food to the kid with the possibility of food allergies became an even bigger reality.  Aside from real-life experience by helping my younger brother cope with being “allergic to the world,” my husband and I researched to educate ourselves for the uncertainty of having a child with food sensitivities.

Amidst all the gatherings this time of year, it’s the parties and family events that can be a cause of concern for allergic reactions.  After being so cautious with anything new that the three year old has eaten, over Christmas, he had an allergic reaction after having some cashews.  Of course, the reaction happened the evening of the post-Christmas blizzard and weather conditions would have complicated everything.  Thankfully, the kid is at an age where he can verbally communicate with us now, and immediately told us that his tongue was itchy—a telltale sign of an allergic reaction, and something that I always remember my brother describing after eating various things he was allergic to, when we were kids.

Always reluctant to let the kid have nuts in anything, for some reason, I thought he would have been ok trying cashews for the first time that night.  I thought he was in the clear with any nut allergies, but I was wrong.

The kid’s hives, swollen lips and an itchy tongue was enough to remind us that not all foods are safe for our allergy-prone kid.  Thankfully, we had Children’s Benadryl onhand to remedy the situation and that it didn’t require a trip to the ER.  We learned from this terrifying situation and are grateful it didn’t transpire differently.

Because of our family’s allergies and my interest in sharing this sort of information to other parents, I will be logging into a video webinar on the topic tomorrow.

Super Bowl Sunday is the second biggest eating day of the year after Thanksgiving. Since severe allergic reactions to food send 90,000 people to the emergency room annually, TV personality Holly Robinson Peete of CBS’s The Talk (who is married to former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete) will be hosting an online video webinar about handling food allergy dangers at gatherings like Super Bowl parties. Nine out of 10 people say they will be attending one this year, according to a recent Nielsen survey.  Since Holly’s four children all have some kind of food allergy, she has plenty of expertise in this topic.

After the webinar, I’ll be one of a few bloggers who will ask Holly questions pertaining to allergies and her experience.  It’s always interesting to hear other parents shed light on issues that hit so close to home.  I’ll of course share Holly’s insight after the interview, but I’d also like to invite you to watch the online webinar.

Allergy Friendly Superbowl Webinar with Holly Robinson Peete

When: Tuesday, Feb. 1, at 5 p.m. ET (2 p.m. PT)

Where: Click this link
to get to the webinar, where you will be able to watch Holly via live video feed: http://agencyroad.na4.acrobat.com/allergyfriendlysuperbowl/

Full disclosure: I am being compensated for my participation in this webinar and Q&A via TheMotherhood. The webinar is being sponsored by Dey Pharma L.P.  As always all opinions on NKT are my own.

Sesame Street Rolls out Food for Thought: Eating Well on a Budget

‘Tis the season for  joy, giving, graciousness…and eating well.  And by eating well, I mean making healthier choices, and helping others make healthier choices, too.

To further underscore the importance of healthier eating among families, Sesame Workshop announced that they’ve partnered with UnitedHealthcare and The Merck Company Foundation, to roll-out  a new outreach program, Food for Thought: Eating Well on a Budget.

At the Capital Food Bank in Washington, DC, celebrity chef and author, Art Smith, joins Elmo in a healthy and affordable cooking demo during the unveiling of Food for Thought: Eating Well on a Budget. Photo credit: Gil Vaknin/Sesame Workshop

Food for Thought: Eating Well on a Budget, part of the company’s on-going Healthy Habits for Life initiative, is a free bi-lingual (English-Spanish) multimedia outreach program designed to help support families who have children between the ages of two and eight, cope with uncertain or limited access to affordable and nutritious food.

According to Sesame Workshop, Seventeen million American children—nearly one in four—are food insecure, meaning they do not receive food that meets basic nutritional needs due to financial instability.  Of these children, more than half (9.6 million) are under the age of six, which is all the more reason to help spread this message.
As the country’s economic status continues to take its toll, the number of young children confronting food insecurity continues to increase, as do the subsequent effects on children’s health, school performance, growth, and development, Sesame Workshop said.

As part of this outreach program, 400,000 Food for Thought resource kits will be distributed through UnitedHealthcare, The Merck Foundation and other key organizations including National WIC association, Feeding America, Head Start, Meals on Wheels and other key organizations. The initiative will also include two public service messages promoting trying new foods.

I hope to do my part by continuing to share healthier eating and snacking ideas for kids, including ways to eat well on a budget.

77kids Gives Back with Wish-4-Snow Charity Program

IMG_2072The holidays are in full swing, and it’s certainly the time for giving.  NKT fave, 77kids, is once again in the spotlight for their charitable initiatives.  The retailer announced that they plan to keep their “Do Good” momentum flowing by giving back through a charitable initiative twice a year, once in the summer and once during the holiday season.

The Motherhood invited the kid and I, along with several of my NYC/NJ blogger friends, back to 77kid’s NYC design studios a few weeks ago to discuss their current holiday charity.  The execs from 77kids shared a lot of great details about their holiday line, plus gave us a sneak peek of upcoming lines.  But more importantly, we were on hand to learn about what matters most about the holiday season: giving back.  77kids has kicked off their holiday season with their Wish-4-Snow charity program that benefits children’s hospitals.

A sampling of 77Kids' holiday lineIMG_2044

Want to know why I love working with 77kids?  It’s not just because I genuinely adore their kid’s clothes and their “Do Good” mantra, but also because they enlist bloggers to spread their word.  As Betsy Schumacher, chief merchandising officer of 77kids mentioned, their grassroots approach to marketing involves moms and word of mouth.  And to me, that accounts for a lot; reaching out to the key demographic who makes the buying decisions and involving bloggers in their social media campaigns speaks volumes.  But better yet, this company continues to underscore the importance of charity, and  I like that even more.
IMG_2064

For 77kids’ Wish-4-Snow program, there’s a variety of easy ways you can get involved to make a big impact:

In stores

– Customers can donate 77 cents (or more) to benefit their local children’s hospital!

– Customers/kids will receive a snowflake to write their name and wish on, and then they can place the snowflake on the “blizzard wall” in the store for all to see!

– In addition to the snowflake, the customer will get a ‘you done good’ bumper sticker to take with them!

IMG_2018

Online

– Visit 77kids’ Wish-4-Snow microsite, featuring a fun “catch the snowflake” game and giving visitors the opportunity to design their own snowflake to help 77kids reach their children’s hospital donation goal!

– Help 77kids reach their goal to make a total of 100,000 snowflakes.

– If that goal is hit, 77kids will make an additional $25,000 donation to the children’s hospitals on top of the customer donations each store collects during the month!

– You can make as many snowflakes as you want – not just one! You’re asked to submit your contact information only after the first snowflake.

– Creating a snowflake makes you eligible to win a $77 gift card from 77kids (one gift card given away daily!) and enters you to win the ultimate grand prize: an awesome block party for you and 77 pals!!

Local benefiting hospitals include:

– Children’s Health and Wellness Center at Danbury Hospital

– Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota

– Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh

– Children’s Regional Hospital at Cooper

– University Hospital (Cherry Hill/Philadelphia)

– Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital (Syracuse)

– WakeMed Children’s Hospital (Raleigh)

– Connecticut Children’s Medical Center (Hartford)

– Children’s Memorial Hospital (Chicago)

So, log on and help 77kids give back by making a snowflake or three!

Giveaway

And because it’s the season for giving, 77kids would like to give one NKT reader a $50 giftcard!  All you have to do is, you guessed it, make a snowflake! Do you know of someone that needs a warm coat or a new outfit?  Nominate them for the giveaway! ‘Tis the season.  After you make your snowflake, just leave a comment below.

Would you like extra entries?

Become a fan of 77kids on Facebook

Tweet about this giveaway and be sure to include @jenrab and @77kids

Become a fan of NKT

Please comment below for all entries.  This will giveaway will end at midnight on December 6, so enter away!  Winner will be chosen via random.org and will be notified via email, so be sure to include a valid email address.  Good luck and have fun!

Full disclosure:  I am being compensated for my participation in this campaign, but as always, all opinions on NKT are my own.

DIY: Animal Pumpkin Stencils from WWF

Ever wonder how people carve such intricate Jack-o-lanterns and pumpkins?  Me too!  I’m a classic pumpkin carver myself, but have always wanted to be adventurous and do a cool design.

Good news, you don’t have to be an artist to carve super-cool pumpkins.  You can be the envy of the neighborhood with these fun and easy to follow stencils from the World Wildlife Fund.  You can download these free PDF stencils of interesting animal-inspired designs like a tiger, butterfly, a rhino and more.  Show your support for WWF while turning heads for Halloween.

Carving pumpkins is always a fun family activity, albeit a messy one, but the end result is so worth it!  If you carve any of these designs, be sure to share!

As always kids, take care when handling sharp objects!

 

Read for the Record Today

Readers unite: today, parents, teachers and children are being encouraged to take part in Jumpstart’s Read for the Record, which is a nationwide campaign that aims to set a new world record for the largest shared reading experience on a single day.

This morning, The Today Show interviewed spokesperson, Amanda Peete, about her involvement with Read for the Record.  According to Jumpstart,  Read for the Record encourages record-breakers to spread the word that reading with a child before he or she enters kindergarten can improve his or her chances of graduating from high school by as much as 30%. Today, more than 2.5 million children are expected to take part by reading The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. In the process, Jumpstart and the Pearson Foundation aim to draw attention to the growing crisis for disadvantaged young children whose literacy experience is limited and to Jumpstart’s role in addressing this issue.

Read More