Great Spring Toys and Gear

Spring is finally in full swing.  Even though it’s still chilly, we’re resisting the cold.  It’s pretty safe to say that we officially have spring fever.

And with spring fever, there’s plenty of fun new toys and play things to get excited about this Spring.


With that in mind, I thought I’d round up some cool new toys and products to get you excited for spring and the prospect of the kids playing outdoors until the street lights come on.








Crayola Grab & Go Games


Chalk Grab  N Go Games  Foot Hockey 

Crayola’s new Grab & Go Games is one of my favorites this seasons.  The kit includes chalk and accessories needed to play an outdoor game such as bean bag toss, foot hockey, chip shot golf and an obstacle course.  These are games we’ve been playing for years, but Crayola, as always, has the foresight to conveniently package these games for easy outdoor play. Grab & Go

Games retails for about $4.99



Tricksters Helmets

Tricksters Helmets are a line of plush helmets from the makers of Pillow Pets. TrickstersHelmets

The helmets, themselves, are the hard, protective kind that can be used for bike riding, scootering and beyond, but what makes Tricksters different is the plush exterior. 

 They can be found at or at select specialty retailers.The Trickster Helmets come in five different styles: Rainbow Bear, Flower Power Cat, Lulu Leopard, Comfy Pandy and Snuggly Puppy. PTRU1 17074604enh z6

YBike GLX Pro

This 3-wheeled scooter features an adjustable handle and super-efficient foot brake.  The sleek design and compact frame set this scooter apart from other well known brands.  What I like most about this scooter is that my 2 year old can use the scooter in the handlebar’s lowest position and my oldest can glide across the street in one of the middle settings.  The YBike GLX pro is a scooter that will go and grow with the kids! A more thorough review to come!  California New Dessus copy

California Maverix

This remote controlled board takes street skating to a whole new level.  Geared to older kids and more experienced skate enthusiasts, the California model was designed to be light weight and has a variety of speed variations. Equipped with a wireless remote control the 3 positions (Beginner / Medium / Expert) and brake are all powered by a simple movement of the trigger! It has a power motor 150W and max weight 100lbs  

Brer Rabbit Golf Set

Golf Set copyBrer Rabbit Toy’s Golf Bag is a fun beginner set for wanna-be golfers.  It comes with three toy golf clubs, two tees, two holes, two numbered flags and five toy golf balls.  It’s ideal for preschoolers who are interested in putting, but not quite ready for the driving range.  It’s just hitting shelves now and retails for about $16.99 633812 toddler dome climber xalt1

Little Tikes Tunnel N Dome Climber

Little Tikes new dome-shaped climber channels play structures of yesterday.  It features various sized holes to accommodate those who need easy or challenging climbing play.  The hiding spots, too, would make for great preschool play. I love that this outdoor toy provides endless play patterns for younger kids and beyond.  The Tunnel N Dome Climber retails for $149.99 

NERF BASH BALL A4832 copyNerf N-Sports Bash Ball

Resembling a Nerf-textured O-ball, the Bash Ball has a cool hollowed Nerf foam core with grip-able holes.  The holes gives kids a better grip to pass, fling, whip or whatever!  This ball is one of our absolute favorite toys right now.  It’s been fun for both my bigger boy and my littler guy; and an absolutely ideal toy for OT and PT.  This is such a cool innovation, I’m excited to check out even more NERF N-Sports gear!   


NERF Rebelle Star Shot Target Set and Crossbow 

D603819650569047F564AD06CF256798The super popular Nerf Rebelle line is unveiling several more products to their lineup. The Star Shot Target Set and Crossbow is among the new products, and will help make target practice even easier with the red laser light that helps to pinpoint the target.  The Star Shot target set includes a crossbow, large size target and comes with 6 suction cup darts.NERF Rebelle Star Shot Target Set and Crossbow    P36353 0M 1

Gazillion Bubbles Typhon 2.0

When old fashioned bubbles just aren’t enough: you can create a gazillion bubbles instantly with the Gazillion Bubbles Typhoon 2.0.  There’s no  pump and or wait time, just massive amounts of bubbles with this fun contraption.. In fact, this bubble fountain blows more than 5,000 bubbles per minute. 


Cooking Fun: Lawry’s Summer of Flavor

Since retreating to the suburbs last year, our family has been enjoying the convenience of more space, the luxury of our own yard and even, the simplicity of having a dishwasher!  As awesome as city living is, enjoying life’s little luxuries within your own home, I have to say, is a little more than awesome.

For our first summer in the suburbs, one luxury that I’ve probably enjoyed the most has been grilling in our backyard.  After 10 years of city dwelling and not being able to grill out, I’ve made up for lost time and have been grilling, what seems like, morning noon and night…and even in the rain.

Ingredients for grilled steak quesadillas

Not only is grilling much more convenient in the summer, it keeps the house cooler.  And since I’ve become quite the grilling queen this summer, I’ve had a great time experimenting with recipes and techniques. So, when I was asked to participate in Lawry’s Fabulous Summer of Flavor, thanks to my friends at The Motherhood, I happily obliged!


So, for this assignment, our NYC team was tasked with creating recipes that incorporate Lawry’s newest marinades–Balsamic Herb and Original Seasoned Salt– as well as Lawry’s Seasoned Salt.  My family has long considered Lawry’s Seasoned Salt an essential kitchen spice, for as long as I can remember.  And when I was first learning to cook back in my high school and college days, I became fast friends with the convenience of Lawry’s marinades.  You can’t beat the 30-minute marinades, not to mention the savory selection.

To go hand in hand with my grilling obsession, I came up with two summertime recipes that incorporate the grill, convenience and kid-friendliness.  For my Lawry’s Summer of Flavor recipes, I came up with Grilled Steak Quesadillas and an Easy Steak Salad.

Grilled Steak Quesadillas

For the quesadillas, I included steak cubes that were marinated in a mixture of Lawry’s Original Seasoned Salt marinade and the Chipotle marinade that I already had onhand.  I also made a super easy, super fresh pico de gallo to sprinkle within the quesadilla.  And, of course, cheese!


What I love about quesadillas is that they’re filling enough to be served as an entree for lunch or dinner, or if you like, they can be served as apps.  Quesadillas are perfect kid-friendly meals because they’re finger foods and like my guy reminded me, Dora (as in Explorer) likes to make them.  Um, okay!

Finished products: Steak Quesadillas

As much as I love to cook, I refuse to cook more than one meal.  I don’t agree with special meals for kids, but I do believe in getting the kids involved during mealtime.  I thought getting the kid to help out with the quesadilla-making was great.  Even though he insisted he does not like tomatoes, he still spread some pico de gallo amongst the cheese and ate it too.  From my experience, getting kids to help out, not only curbs pickiness, but it gives kids a sense of achievement, in that they created what they are eating.


This was the second or third time I’ve done this recipe, and it really is such a fun outdoorsy, grilling-type of food.  From the freshly made pico de gallo to slicing up the grilled steak, I love sitting out on the patio putting it all together.  And the flavors when all put together are so, so good.  Serve it all up with some guacamole, salsa, chips, and it’s a fiesta!  Only thing that would’ve made this meal better would’ve some Margaritas and Sangria! YUM!

Easy Steak Salad

This Easy Steak Salad is exactly what it sounds like!  I marinated some steak cubes with Lawry’s Balsamic Herb marinade. And I also marinated some veggies with the same marinade.  I grilled it all up and served the grilled steak and veggies on top of a fresh green salad.

Easy Steak Salad

For the salad, I incorporated a few different lettuces, cucumbers and shredded cheese.  I then served the grilled steak and veggies on top of the greens.  The marinade was so flavorful, that none of needed more dressing.  It was so good—perfect for a fresh summer lunch.


See below for the recipes and a giveaway!

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Water Balloon Fun with KAOS Nemesis

Long summer weekends usually means grilling, relaxing and fun in the sun.  And since the kids are already in the pool, why not break out the water balloons?

Of all the fun summer toys we’ve been checking out this season, a family favorite has been the water balloon launcher, KAOS Nemesis Wrist Launcher.  After filling up the cool textured balloons via the handy garden hose nozzle, big kids can launch their water balloons with the KAOS Nemesis Wrist Launcher.  Likened to a lacrosse stick (albeit for water balloons,) the launcher can launch water balloons up to 100 ft.

Even though I have pix of the kid playing, it was my husband and the neighbor kids who had the most fun seeing who could launch their balloons the furthest.  The smaller kids had fun trying to locate where the balloons landed and picked up the broken pieces. And of course, it was the grown men who had the most fun with the Kaos Nemesis.


From personal experience, I don’t recommend actually launching the balloons AT people.  The launchers make for a fun poolside or BBQ game, and one that gets everyone involved, from the filling of balloons, to launching, to measuring/cleaning balloons.  The best aspect from the official balloon filler?  The nozzle that helps you streamline the process!

Intended for kids 8 and up, the KAOS Nemesis from Imperial Toys retails around $14 and can be found at retailers like Target, Toys R Us and Kohl’s.

Full disclosure:  Samples were provided to facilitate this review, but as always, opinions on NKT are my own.

Stocking up on Staycation Goodies and Gear with

As everyone is anticipating the upcoming holiday weekend, I’m finally getting back into the groove of things after last week’s travel and then a bout with sickness.  I hope you guys have fun weekends planned.

At our house, summer is definitely in full swing, and we’ve got the bug bites and sunkissed faces to prove it.  It’s our first summer in the suburbs, and by the smiles the kid gives us, I think we made the right choice in neighborhood.

Our new neighborhood, though just 30 miles from NYC, is in a wooded area that surrounds a lake.  Families swarm to the lake for daily swimming and evening outings; it might not be the chaos of the city that I love so much, but this corner of the world is truly more than I could have ever envisioned for our family.

A patch of grass to call our own

Having spent the past few summers at public parks, running through water sprinklers to cool off, I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am to have our a patch of grass to call our own.  As much as I miss city living, one thing I don’t miss is the lack of space.  Once upon a time, we’d have to question ownership of one or two ride-on toys and where we’d put them, and now, we sort of have a fleet of them, next to the baseball bats, footballs, water balloons, water guns, floats…

Boredom is not an option

Outdoor play is a big part of our day-to-day routine, and making sure we have the goodies and gear onhand is crucial.  Boredom is not an option.  Because of our former space restraints, we didn’t have too many big outdoor toys to begin with and besides our usual brick and mortar shopping locales, I love knowing that my go-to online shop for all things baby/kid,, sells toys and other outdoor play paraphernalia. fangirl

I’m a long-time fan of and their sister site,  In fact, I went to the launch event for and regularly sing their praises on Twitter.  When I was asked to participate in this BabyCenter Blog Network campaign, I giddily obliged knowing that I’d get to write about, yet another service that I already love.  And because the suggested topic idea had to do with a staycation, I actually waited to write about this campaign so it would coincide with our actual staycation, which begins this weekend.

On this recent shopping trip on, I made a point to stock up on even more outdoor toys and gear for the boy to enjoy over the holiday weekend.

The staycation  goodies and the gear

So, for this staycation,  I spent right around $100 and I made sure to stock up goodies and gear that would get good use on our staycation.  For starters, we have enough sunblock in our arsenal, but we’re low on bug ointment that actually works and is safe for the kid.  Badger Balm, which gets great reviews on, was first on my list.  Can’t play outside if the bugs have their way with you!  And as for the good stuff, of course I ordered toys..lots of outdoor toys!  I ordered a kiddie pool for the back yard, a float for the lake and various other toys to play with in the yard or when we go to the beach.  So, here’s the main goodies I ended up buying:

I’m so impressed by how many great toy brands there are on, including brands that I’ve only seen at specialty boutiques.  I especially LOVE Spielstabil‘s beach and outdoor toys.  Spielstabil is a beloved German toy company that’s also under the Haba umbrella.  Their products, which are extremely durable, are bpa, pthalate and pvc-free.  I just love that puts a lot of thought into the products they sell. (Trust me, I’ve seen the buying team in action at Toy Fair.)  I ordered the sand and water mill from Spielstabil and can’t wait to see it in action!

Amidst the hundreds and hundreds of choices of toys, gear and baby and kid products, I finally made my purchase and the first shipment should be arriving tomorrow.  The main caveats of this shopping trip were my indecision and that the order is coming in three separate shipments, with one of them not coming until next week.  Nevertheless, I  can’t wait to share more AND to reveal a pretty fun giveaway to boot!  Stay tuned.

Full disclosure:  This post is sponsored by BabyCenter in conjunction with the BabyCenter Blog Network.

Sesame Place Welcomes 2011 Season with Neighborhood Street Party Parade

With the warmer weather here to stay, for many families, summer vacation is within reach.  And speaking of warm weather fun:  amusement parks, ubiquitous with summer vacations and day trips, marked the start of their summer season over the recent Memorial Day weekend.

But even before the summer season began, as part of their Opening Day Celebration, our family had the chance to preview the excitement that Sesame Place has in store for the 2011 season.


A little over an hour outside of the NYC area, Sesame Place in Langhorne, PA is a popular day trip for city and suburban families alike.  The fun mix of shows, family-friendly rides and water rides make the only Sesame Street-themed amusement park an ideal locale for young families.

As guests of blogger pal Heather from Girl Gone Mom, who is also one of the Sesame Place ambassadors, the Kid had a chance to meet and greet the newest member of the Sesame Place gang, none other than Murray, himself!  As if meeting Murray wasn’t enough, Sesame Place pulled out all the stops and invited the media and our families to meet ALL of the Sesame Place characters prior to the debut of their new Neighborhood Street Party Parade.


The Neighborhood Street Party Parade, a vibrant display of floats, charming performers and cheery characters, was a highlight for my Sesame Street-loving crew.  Favorites like Big Bird to the Count to Super Grover and beyond kept kids and parents smiling from beginning to end! Check out a quick video we took of the new Neighborhood Street Party Parade.

Neighborhood Street Party Parade
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Gardening Goodies for Kids

Spring is finally in full bloom, and I couldn’t be more excited to see the trees, plants and flowers come back to life.  And hello, meet my new garden that the kid helped me grow, of course!

Along with the changes in scenery, I love that Spring also brings lots of new and interesting toys.  Last week, we were treated with a glimpse of some of the season’s latest and greatest at Time To Play’s Spring and Summer Showcase, and I love that good ol’ fashion outdoor play remains a trend.

A few companies are honing in on kids’ ongoing affection for gardening and getting their hands dirty. Afterall, gardening with kids isn’t just a great lesson in a plant’s lifecycle and nourishment, but it’s also a rewarding and engaging experience for parents and kids.  Gardening is a great way to get kids and parents to disconnect, and in the end, it gives them a sense of achievement.

In general, you don’t need much to garden, other than some seeds, dirt and gardening tools, but check out these great goodies geared to make gardening even more fun for kids.

Miracle-Gro Kids

Miracle-Gro Kits from Peachtree Toys is a new line of gardening kits for kids.  With starter kits like the 3-n-1 Gardening Set, Terrarium and the Mini Greenhouse, among others, where kids can grow their own flowers or veggies with the Miracle-Gro Gro Mix.  We’re typically organic and old school when it comes to gardening, so I’m a bit apprehensive about the fertilizers involved in Miracle-Gro.  Nevertheless, I do appreciate the nifty kits in this line of gardening sets from Miracle-Gro Kids.


Growums are one of my favorite gardening kits for kids, yet.  This new line of gardening kits includes six different sets: an Herb Garden, Pizza Garden, Salad Garden, Stir Fry Garden, Taco Garden and Ratatouille Garden that include coco or peat pellets that make these sets a bit more kid-friendly.  Kids add water to the pellets and put them in a shallow dish.  Once the peats are expanded, they add seeds and put the dish in the sun and wait for the seedlings to grow.  And from there, the kids can plant their herbs and veggies in their garden.  But what makes Growums so unique is the online element that engages kids by giving them tips and info from quirky characters like Elvis Parsley. (haha!) I love these sets, and can’t wait to see more from the Growums.

Buddy B Children’s Gardening Tools

Kid’s gardening tools are all over the home improvement stores, but if your kids are going to be doing some serious digging, much like mine does, I can’t speak highly enough about Buddy B Children’s Gardening Tools.  These tools are scaled down replicas of the “real thing,” and they work so much better than the plastic kiddie versions you see everywhere.  We have the hand trowel and kid’s shovel and I have to say, I probably use both of these tools as often as the kid himself.  These tools come in handy and they’re great quality.


Burpee gardening products are staples for many beginning and/or experienced gardener.  The biodegradable seedling cups are great for kids, but I’m also a fan of their great selection of organic seeds and other gardening supplies.  It’s my first season gardening on my own, and I’ve had great luck with the flowers so far and we’re crossing fingers on the the vegetables!

Crafts Go Green: Eco-friendly Art Supplies for Kids

Crafts are a fun family activity, and one that we love doing outside on our deck.  When we’re painting and doing messy crafts outside, the little artist’s canvas seems limitless, and thankfully, cleanup time is much easier—or so it seems.

Many of my favorite eco-friendly crafts are of the DIY variety.  The kid and I are fans of repurposing old household items and painting scraps of wood from our ongoing remodel.  Even better than recycling the medium is making your own tools.  Aside from DIY crafts, there’s a myriad of eco-friendly and kid-friendly art supplies that make craft time safe and colorful.

Here are just a few of my faves:

Glob Arts and Crafts Paints

Glob Art & Crafts Paints are botanically-based paints that also have fruity scents. These paints are colored naturally with pigments from fruits, vegetables, flowers and spices with natural food-grade ingredients. I love the Glob paints that come in packets; all you do is add water when you’re ready. Whether you and the kids are more watercolor painters or gauche painters, you add water and can determine the desired consistency. Glob also comes in Easy Shake jars, paint sets and other kits.

The color palette that’s offered is pretty basic, but after mixing and matching the paints, the spectrum of colors is seemingly endless. Glob can be used for paints, as well as for coloring DIY play dough, coloring eggs and more.


P’kolino, the makers of gorgeous modern children’s furniture and toys, also have a great line of art supplies.  Through a collaboration with Jovi, P’kolino offers kid-friendly, non-toxic art supplies that includes, Triangle crayons, fingerpaints, markers, colored pencils, dough, creative dough and poster paints.  P’kolino recently introduced their new line of art supplies which are inspired by famed Pop Artist, Romero Britto.  And a coloring book inspired by Romeo Britto?  Yes, please.  The sustainability, bold colors, combined with the modern influence of P’kolino’s products make these art supplies ones to check out.

Stubby Pencil Art Studio

Stubby Pencil Art Studio is the mecca for eco-friendly art and school supplies. This online shop has a plethora of kid crafts and a great selection of supplies that are non-toxic, recycled, fair trade, educational, sustainable or environmentally responsible. I love perusing all of the different crafts and unique supplies, many of which you’d be hard pressed to find at your local big box craft store. Of all the green crafting goodness, however, I’d have to say my personal favorites are the cupcake crayons (!) and the colored Smencils. Ideal for birthday party gifts, the colorful, hand-poured cupcake crayons come in a 4-pack and are made of soy. The Smencils are made from 100% recycled newspaper, sharpen just like wood pencils, and have delicious scents like watermelon, bubble gum and cotton candy!

Goodies and Gear: Opening Day

Citi FieldIt’s that time of year again; it’s Opening Day, a day that celebrates the Boys’ of Summer’s reemergence from the offseason and time to play ball again. If your family is anything like ours, reality and kiddie shows are happily swapped for 6 months of  America’s Pastime streaming on the tv—that is, when we’re not outside enjoying the outdoors ourselves.

With snow in our forecast, it may not be the most ideal weather for this time of year, but that’s not to say we can’t celebrate Spring and Opening Day with some of the latest and greatest in baseball fun for the kids.

This morning, while I was reading the news online, I was pretty disappointed to read about the decline in kids playing baseball over on WSJ.  To be quite honest, despite what the studies show, you’d never know there was a decline from the plethora of great toys and gear that are aimed to share the love of the game.

Here are just a few of my baseball picks in honor of Opening Day:

Melissa and Doug All Star Sports Fill and Spill

Baby can’t throw or catch quite yet, but Melissa and Doug’s All Star Sports Fill and Spill helps to familiarize tiny fingers with ball shapes.  Each of the four balls rattle, jingle or crinkle and are suitable for 6 months and up.

Grand Slam Baseball from Step 2

Spotted at Toy Fair last month, Step 2’s Grand Slam Baseball is an electronic auto-pitch machine that encourages hand-eye coordination, not to mention, promotes outdoor play. Geared to the smaller baseball fans, Grand Slam Baseball gets kids fielding balls and a chance to work on their swing.

EA Sweet Spot Baseball Bat

For the bigger kids, EA’s Sweet Spot Bat incorporates a little crowd cheer every time the batter hits or holds the ball in that sweet spot.  Ideal for beginners, it features a soft bat, and helps the rookies to refine their accuracy and hand-eye coordination.

SKLZ Sweet Spot Youth Training Bat

Beyond the tee-ball phase, SKLZ makes the top-rated Sweet Spot Youth Training Bat.  The training bat features an all-wood barrel and handle, as well as a fiberglass rod, and provides instant feedback and “stings” if hit too far off.
Looking for training tools for entry-level players? SKLZ Hit-A-Way Jr. is something that I’m going to check out for batting practice and hand-eye coordination for our not-quite Tee Ball-aged little guy.

Sports Illustrated Kids: All Access

And to better understand and appreciate America’s Pastime, Sports Illustrated Kids has a new book that delves into the inner sanctum of baseball.  Sports Illustrated Kids: All Access grants readers a behind-the-scenes look into cool findings, including favorite stadiums, the story behind the Green Monster and something that I want to know more about: Lousisville Slugger’s journey from big trees to the big leagues.

Go Mets!

And Speaking of behind the scenes look at baseball, did you miss our family’s adventure at Citi Field last season?  If you’ve been reading NKT for awhile now, you must already know that we’re Mets fans–in good times and in bad.

It’s always been my husband’s dream to sit in our beloved Mets’ Clubhouse, and thanks to a fun media invite, we had the chance to learn more about the Mets’ new stadium.  Be sure to see where our exclusive behind the scenes tour took us at our beloved (and sometimes beleaguered) Mets’ CitiField.

Citi Field Tour

Hooray for a new season!  And yes, even for us Mets fans, it’s a brand new ball game!

Okee Dokee Brothers’ Take it Outside is Down-Home Fun

They’re a little bit country, a little bit bluegrass and a whole lot of funky, and together, Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing are The Okee Dokee Brothers whose latest cd is set to be released tomorrow.  Take It Outside showcases the duo’s fun and quirky sound, which gives a nod to down-home goodness and smart lyrics that teach helpful lessons.

I gave a quick listen to the duo’s new cd, and it reminded me of my husband’s favorite kind of music, not to mention some of my southern childhood and watching a lot of Hee Haw!  I love the sweet harmony and catchiness of Water Balloon; and Auctioneer is an energetic tune that got the kid on his feet.  And quite honestly, I think more kid’s music should involve the awesomeness that is the banjo.

You can see Okee Dokee Brothers at any of their shows in Minnesota this summer, at Every Family Rocks in Des Moines in September and at Austin Kiddie Limits in October.

Imagination Playground Debuts in NYC

Innovative design is all around us, and that often includes our kids’ playthings.

Yesterday, NYC unveiled the long-anticipated Imagination Playground, an innovative Play Space that was designed by architect David Rockwell. The Imagination Playground at Burling Slip in lower Manhattan is the first realization of Rockwell’s site-specific park concepts that can be designed and conditioned for any place or community, and includes a full set of Imagination Playground loose parts and a sculpted landscape, as well as sand and water installations.

According to the Huffington Post, the playground was paid for with $4.5 million from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and $3 million from the city’s Department of Environmental Protection.

I’ve been reading a lot of information and preliminary reviews about this playspace that’s being described as “revolutionary.”  One bit of information that I loved reading about was how KaBOOM! partnered with Rockwell Group to help distribute Rockwell’s innovative Imagination Playground to communities across the country.

I’m one of the KaBoom Summer Challengers, and, well, I love how the organization has its hands involved in so many prolific movements relating to play.

I fully expect our travels to bring us to the city to check out this playspace for ourselves, but in the meantime, check out all the cool features of the Imagination Playground.