Category: Cool Stuff for Kids

Keep Lice Away This Summer!

With the school year winding down for some kids and already over for others, this may seem like an odd time for me to be writing a post about head lice. But unlike schoolchildren, head lice don’t take the summer off. And without all the back-to-school warnings and media coverage that August and September bring, many parents are probably letting their guard down when it comes to lice.

But I’m not. While it’s true that head lice is more prevalent during the school year, the little buggers can still spread at day camps, indoor play gyms, rec centers, and other places at which kids congregate during summer break. And though lice isn’t the end of the world (despite its reputation), who wants to waste precious pool time combing nits out of their kid’s hair?

So I’m going to continue using my lice-prevention arsenal on the kids this summer: Fairy Tales Rosemary Repel Hair Care products. Fairy Tales makes shampoo, conditioner, conditioning spray, hair spray, and styling gel that contain organic rosemary, citronella, tea tree, and geranium oils. These ingredients are clinically proven to repel lice. The products are free of sulfates, harsh chemicals and toxins, gluten, soy, dairy, and nuts, so they’re safe for daily use for all kids. They also contain jojoba and chamomile to moisturize, hydrate, and soothe the scalp.

Fairy Tales Rosemary Repel hair care products

I received these products complimentary last summer to try out. I’d already been planning to buy them before the twins started kindergarten and Lily started preschool, because several of my friends were using them on their kids and swore by them. One even mentioned that her daughter had never gotten lice until she ran out of her bottle of Fairy Tales Rosemary Repel Shampoo. After a couple of weeks of not using the shampoo, her daughter got lice.

So, I’ve been using the products religiously on all three kids for the entire school year, and so far (knock on wood) none of them have gotten lice. I’m not saying that’s fully because of the products, but using them definitely hasn’t hurt! The shampoo and conditioner do a great job of cleaning and moisturizing the kids’ hair. The conditioning spray helps get the knots out of Lily’s hair. The styling gel does not hold as well as some heavy-duty gels on the market, but it provides light hold without leaving residue behind. And I’ve only used the hair spray a few times on the boys’ hair for special occasions like school pictures, but it seemed to do the job just fine.

I’ll admit that the smell of the products takes a little getting used to. They do smell a bit like the herbs they contain, and the scent of citronella doesn’t exactly evoke thoughts of the best parts of summer. But the smell dissipates pretty quickly, and you don’t even notice it after a bit. Plus, it’s a small price to pay to protect your kiddos from lice!

If you want to give Fairy Tales hair care products a try, visit fairytaleshaircare.com to order them or to find a store near you that carries them. I hope you have as much success with them as I’ve had. Here’s to a happy, healthy, and lice-free summer!

Disclosure: I received complimentary hair care products to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own!

Upcycling with Chick-fil-A

As a member of the 2016-2017 Chick-fil-A Mom Panel, I get to try menu items for free in exchange for my opinions about food, kids’ meal prizes, and more. Sometimes, I am also asked to participate in fun challenges.

Recently, Mom Panel members received coupons for free bowls of chicken tortilla soup or chicken noodle soup and were challenged to upcycle the empty containers. According to Merriam-Webster, upcycle means “to create an object of greater value from (a discarded object of lesser value).”

It wasn’t long before the Panel’s Facebook page was flooded with posts showcasing all of the amazing things my craftier comrades were creating with their plastic containers—bird feeders, turtle crafts, toy boats, etc. But if you know me, you know I I am not the crafty type—at all. I’m the mom who buys her kids’ “homemade” classroom Valentines on Etsy.

So when thinking about how to make use of my soup containers, I thought about it from a more practical standpoint. As a busy mom with three kids ages 5 and under, I have a lot of STUFF all over my house. So the soup bowls, with their tight-fitting lids, offer endless possibilities for helping to control the clutter. Here are some items that can be stored in the containers:

TOYS/KIDS’ ITEMS:

  1. LEGO bricks — You can even glue mini base plates to the lid to make a travel building kit!
  2. Crayons — Throw a small notepad inside, too, and you’ve got an on-the-go coloring kit.
  3. Pokémon or other trading cards
  4. Barbie shoes and accessories
  5. Shopkins, Army men, and other small toys
  6. Beads, pom-poms, and other craft items
  7. Tiny hair clips, rubber bands, and other hair accessories
  8. Stickers
  9. Kids’ jewelry
  10. Rocks, marbles, and other collectible treasures

HOUSEHOLD ITEMS:

  1. Office supplies like paper clips and rubber bands
  2. Receipts
  3. Box Tops, if you collect them for your kids’ school (which I do)
  4. Business cards
  5. Band-Aids, gauze, and other First-Aid items — You can keep a mini First Aid kit in your car or diaper bag!
  6. Q-tips, cotton balls, and other small bathroom items
  7. Cosmetics
  8. Travel-size toiletries — You can just toss the whole container in your bag when it’s time to travel!
  9. Snacks such as pretzels, goldfish, and nuts
  10. Batteries

As for my soup container, here’s what I am using it for:

Chick-fil-A soup container holding perfume samples

Chick-fil-A soup container holding perfume samples

Yes, that would be my collection of mini and sample perfumes, which previously were scattered all over my bathroom vanity. I am thrilled that they are now all in one place. Why didn’t I think of corralling them sooner?

As for Keith’s soup container, I was going to let Lily decorate it and use it to store her beloved stickers. But, she went a little paint happy on it and ended up making a big mess out of it, which gave me another idea for the soup containers—you can use them as paint cups during art projects!

Chick-fil-A soup container used as a paint cup

I’m glad this challenge got me thinking about ways to reuse items that pass through my home every day rather than tossing them into the recycling bin or the trash. It’s a great way to help protect the Earth and save some money.

Also, this challenge inspired Keith and me to try Chick-fil-A soups for the first time—we had always been loyal to our salads and chicken sandwiches. We thought both the chicken tortilla soup and the chicken noodle soup were delicious, and perfect for days when you want a lighter lunch option. Thank you for the fun challenge, Chick-fil-A!

Mudpuppy Puzzles Are Perfect for Travel!

Military life comes with frequent moves. That often means being far away from family and friends—and driving or flying long distances to visit them. So, military kids often do a lot of traveling.

My children are the perfect example. My twin boys logged at least five cross-country airplane flights by the time they were 2. My daughter took a 3,000-mile road trip with us at 5 weeks old when we moved from California to Virginia. Over the past two years, we’ve driven to New York to visit family more often than I can count. Add to that our various vacations, and you’re looking at some very well-traveled kiddos.

But while my kids’ extensive travel experience has made them a bit more flexible than other kids in many ways—they can easily sleep anywhere, they can handle schedule changes pretty well, etc.—at the end of the day, they are still kids. And just like any kid, they need to be entertained on long flights and car rides. They need things to do in the hotel room or at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. And because Keith and I don’t want their travel entertainment to consist solely of TV and iPad time, we’re often forced to devote way too much suitcase space to toys and books.

So as you can imagine, I was thrilled to have the chance to try out some of Mudpuppy’s portable puzzles. They are light and compact, making them easy to toss into my carry-on bag or diaper bag. And they are adorable and lots of fun! Here’s what we tried:

Pouch Puzzle: Mudpuppy’s 12-piece Pouch Puzzles (for ages 2 and up) come in zippered pouches, not boxes, making them flat and super easy to tote around. We received the Princess Castle puzzle, perfect for my little girly girl. We took the puzzle with us to Hawaii and on several trips to New York, and even when we’re not traveling Lily loves to put it together. The thick pieces are perfect for her little hands, and the puzzle is just hard enough that she feels challenged, but can still put it together on her own. Pouch Puzzles come in 16 themes and retail for $10.99.

Mudpuppy Princess Castle Pouch Puzzle
Our completed Pouch Puzzle

Puzzle To Go: The 36-piece Puzzles to Go, geared to ages 3 and up, are 12″ by 9″ when put together. That means they fit perfectly into an airplane or train tray table! We received the Outer Space puzzle and the Airplane puzzle, which was perfect because Nate loves space and Matt loves transportation. We first whipped these puzzles out on our long flight to Hawaii, and they entertained the boys for about an hour each! They were so excited to be able to do puzzles on the plane. And because they come in a drawstring pouch, the puzzles took up hardly any space in my carry-on bag. Mudpuppy makes 10 Puzzles To Go that retail for $9.99 each.

Mudpuppy Puzzle To Go
Look how small the pouch is!
Mudpuppy Airplane Puzzle To Go
Our completed Airplane Puzzle To Go

 

My First Touch & Feel Puzzle: Each of the six My First Touch & Feel Puzzle sets come with four three-piece puzzles for ages 1 and up. The pieces are chunky, and each puzzle has one textured piece for little hands to feel. We received the “In The Garden” set, and even at 2 1/2 Lily absolutely loves these puzzles. I’d say this set is the least portable of the puzzles we tried because it comes in a box, but a bonus is that the puzzles are small enough to fit on a tray table. My First Touch & Feel Puzzles retail for $12.99.

Mudpuppy My First Touch & Feel Puzzles
Our completed My First Touch & Feel Puzzles

 

In addition to these awesome puzzles, Mudpuppy makes lots of other fun travel toys and games for all ages, including Magnetic Build-It sets, felt Play Scenes, Ring Flash Cards, and more. So with spring break travel coming up and summer vacations just around the corner, now is the perfect time to visit galison.com/MUDPUPPY and get some for yourself!

 Disclosure: I received complimentary items to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own!

Diapers.com Has Everything for Moms, Babies, and Kids!

This post was sponsored by Diapers.com as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

When the twins were babies, I’d spend hours running around to different stores—often with the two of them in tow—to buy the endless list of items they needed. I’d pick up baby food at the grocery store; diapers, wipes, and formula at a baby store; tiny clothing at the mall. But by the time Lily came along and I started working more, I no longer had the time or energy to do that. I needed a one-stop shop where I could buy whatever it is was the kids needed at the time—even better if I didn’t have to leave my house.

That’s where Diapers.com came in. Diapers.com carries so many sizes and brands of diapers, of course. But it also sells way more than that. There are the basics, like bottles, diaper cream, and wipes. There’s all the baby gear you could need, from car seats and strollers to monitors and safety gates. There are items for mom, like maternity clothing, diaper bags, and groceries. There’s clothing, shoes, toys, and food for babies and kids. And there is tons of other stuff! And, all of the products sold on Diapers.com are handpicked by experts, meaning you can be sure anything you buy on the site is a top product.

I truly wish I had known about Diapers.com during those first few crazy months of motherhood. It would have taken a lot of the guesswork out of shopping, given me more time to spend enjoying the boys instead of toting them around town, and allowed me to shop from home in my spit-up-soaked pajamas.

Luckily, I do know about Diapers.com now, and I do a lot of shopping for Lily on the site. Consider my most recent purchase, which came in at a little under $100:

As you can see, the prices are also competitive on Diapers.com. I was quite happy to get all of that for less than $100! Shipping was free, too, since all orders above $49 qualify for free shipping. And because Diapers.com offers 1-2 day shipping, I got my items quickly!

If you’re new to Diapers.com, you can save even more money because the site offers the following promotion:

  • First order: 20% off your order* plus extra $5 off with a case of diapers
    • Enter code: TRYUSLOVEUS
  • Second order: Get 10% off your entire second order**
  • Expiration Date: 12/31/2016
    • *Excludes diapers, wipes and formula. Brand exclusions apply. Max. discount $35. To redeem enter code TRYUSLOVEUS. Offer subject to change and cancellation
    • **Discount will auto-apply in about 24 hours to use on second order. Brand exclusions apply. Max discount $50. Offer subject to change and cancellation.

To place your first order on Diapers.com and redeem your new buyer offer, visit diapers.com/tryusloveus. And if you’re a new mom, click here to find a page just for you that lists everything you might need for your new baby. Happy shopping!

A Chemical-Free Baby Wipe … Plus, Win a $100 Walgreens Gift Card!

This post was sponsored by WaterWipes as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own. 

Baby wipes are a necessity when you’ve got little ones in diapers. Unfortunately, many of the baby wipes on the market contain chemicals that can irritate babies’ sensitive skin. So the very thing that keeps babies clean can also cause awful diaper rashes. It’s just one of those unavoidable aspects of parenting, right?

Not necessarily. I recently discovered WaterWipes, the only baby wipe in the world that contains no chemicals. In fact, WaterWipes contain only two ingredients—99.9% pure Irish water and 0.1% grapefruit seed extract, a natural skin conditioner. That means WaterWipes are gentle on baby’s skin and help prevent diaper rash and other skin conditions. The National Eczema Association has even awarded WaterWipes the Seal of Acceptance.

When I first read these facts, I figured WaterWipes must be flimsy like other sensitive baby wipes I have tried. I was thrilled to find that that’s not the case at all. WaterWipes are actually quite durable! They also work very well, meaning I don’t need to use 10 of them to get Lily clean. And, they’re not inter folded in the package, a feature that’s supposed to help make them more sterile.

Sounds like a product that could only be available in health stores, right? Actually, they are fully stocked at many major stores, including Walgreens. That’s where we got our WaterWipes. They were very easy to find, smack in the middle of the top shelf of the baby aisle.

WaterWipes

WaterWipes

Even Lily was excited to buy them!

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We have been using WaterWipes for a few weeks now and have had a great experience with them. Though Lily has never had very sensitive skin, I still feel good knowing I am using such pure and natural wipes on her. I may not be able to protect her from everything, but why wouldn’t I avoid using harmful chemicals on her as much as I can?

Lily seems to love them, too. Have you ever seen a baby so happy to have her diaper changed?

Baby with WaterWipes

Click here to learn more about WaterWipes and get a coupon for $1.00 off.

Want to buy your own WaterWipes? Influence Central is giving away five (5) Walgreens gift cards. That’s enough to purchase WaterWipes and other necessities for your little one! Just click below by October 7, 2016 to enter:

WaterWipes Walgreens Giveaway

I-C will randomly select winners from all program entries and will facilitate fulfillment of the winning prizes (5 winners). Good luck!

Ready for Kindergarten With Nature Made® KIDS FIRST® Multivitamin Gummies

This post was sponsored by Nature Made® as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central.

It is the final week of an extremely busy and fun summer for my family. We enjoyed lots of pool and playground time, baseball games, trips to New York, and even a Hawaiian vacation!

But now it’s time for us to get back into the swing of things. In just five days, the twins start kindergarten, and Lily starts preschool a week later. So many big changes are coming up for my family, and I can’t quite believe it!

Though Keith and I vowed to get the kids (and ourselves) back into a routine by mid August, our easygoing spirits took over and we failed to do so. Right up until last week we were still staying up too late to eat popsicles al fresco and enjoy family movie nights; still spending leisurely mornings lingering over breakfast and building LEGO cities in our pajamas.

But we’ve finally decided to get our acts together and transition the kids into a healthy back-to-school routine. Over the past week we’ve been eating earlier dinners and getting the kids to bed by 8 p.m. I’ve also been waking up before them to jump-start the day and prepare a nutritious breakfast. And for Matt and Nate, that breakfast includes Nature Made® KIDS FIRST® Multivitamin Gummies.

The boys started taking these vitamins a few weeks ago after we picked up a bottle of them during a Target run. They were right on the top shelf at the beginning of the vitamin aisle, so they were really easy to find! That made the kids happy because it meant we could head over to the toy aisle quicker.

Nature Made® KIDS FIRST® Multivitamin Gummies img_8923

The boys tried the vitamins the very next morning and absolutely loved them. They have taken them every morning since then, even asking for them if I forget to set them out with their breakfasts. The gummies come in three flavors—orange, cherry, and mixed berry—and Matt and Nate say they taste just like fruit snacks.

IMG_9130

Here is Nate ready to take his favorite flavor, orange:

img_9126

And here’s Matt with his favorite, mixed berry:

img_9128

 

But while the boys simply view Nature Made® KIDS FIRST® Multivitamin Gummies as a morning treat, they also contain 12 essential nutrients for kids. These include vitamins A, C, D, and E, B vitamins, and minerals such as iodine and zinc. I also like that the gummies’ colors come from natural sources (meaning no synthetic dyes are used), that they are gluten free, and that they contain no preservatives or yeast.

I will continue to give the boys Nature Made® KIDS FIRST® Multivitamin Gummies every morning this school year to help give them a healthy start to their day. Click here to learn more about them. Then head on over to Target to purchase a bottle. Here’s to a healthy, happy, and successful school year!

†These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Get Unlimited Kids’ Classes in the DC Metro Area with JumpIt Pass

Happy summer! Northern Virginia (NOVA) public schools have been closed for nearly two weeks now, but for Matt and Nate, preschool ended right before Memorial Day. That means it’s already been summer for us for over five weeks. And what a busy summer it has been. Besides the two weeks of camp the boys have done, we’ve gone to the pool, the splash pad, the nature center, movies, playgrounds, the trampoline park, the library, baseball games, and so many more fun places. Every day has been a new adventure. Here’s a shot of the kids at the Independence Day Parade in downtown Fairfax on July 4:

3 Kids on 4th of July

But there are still two more months of summer to go, and even with our upcoming trips to New York and Hawaii, we have many more days to fill. And it gets hot here. Really, really hot. That leaves me and so many other NOVA parents with a bit of a challenge: How do we entertain our children on these long, hot summer days without spending a ton of money?

NOVA—and the Washington, DC area in general—has many indoor gyms, play spaces, and other venues that offer children’s classes. The problem is, they are generally pretty expensive: Many of them have monthly memberships that cost $75 or more for one class per week. And what happens when your kid gets bored of going to the same place every week, or when your schedule doesn’t allow you to be at the same place at the same time each week?

Luckily, there is an option that can help solve those problems—JumpIt Pass. JumpIt Pass provides unlimited monthly access to some of the best kids’ classes across the DC metropolitan area. Families can attend classes at a variety of venues including play gyms, art studios, fitness centers, martial arts studios, dance studios, and more. You can take as many classes as you would like per month (up to three each month at the same venue).

When I first learned about JumpIt Pass back in October (about a month after its launch), most participating venues were in Bethesda, Rockville, or DC. As more and more NOVA venues got on board, I decided to give JumpIt Pass a try with Lily in January and February while the boys were at preschool. Unfortunately, frequent snow and the fact that Lily was still under 18 months old at the time prevented us from taking full advantage. But, we still really enjoyed the classes we took at Great Play of Fairfax with our JumpIt Pass.

Since then, JumpIt Pass has expanded even more. Now many NOVA venues participate, including Blue Box Sports in Chantilly, Gymboree Play & Music in Alexandria and Burke, BusyBees in Falls Church, Monkey Joe’s in Sterling, Tippi Toes in Alexandria and Arlington, World Karate in Fairfax, and more. There are also many fun locations in DC and Maryland. Click here to see a full list of participating venues.

And this summer is the perfect time to try JumpIt Pass because there’s an amazing promotion going on. JumpIt Pass usually costs $99 per month for unlimited classes for one child and $169 per month for unlimited classes for two children (additional kids cost $70 per month extra), or $59 for a three-class starter plan. But this summer, you can get 50 percent off any JumpIt Pass by entering promo code SUMMER at checkout. That is a huge bargain!

So if you live in the DC area and are looking for ways to entertain your kids this summer, head over to jumpitpass.com and give it a try. Your child may just find a new favorite place or discover a new passion. If you try it, let me know what you think!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary JumpItPass to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own!