Ever been browsing through baby products, looking for baby shower gift or birthday present ideas, and felt kinda, blah? I mean, yes, wipes and bottles are incredibly useful, but they don't feel very personal. If this is something you've struggled with, I have a really exciting website to introduce you to: IncrediBundles.com - Extraordinary Baby Gifts! Keep reading to learn more about their incredible gifts, and enter to win a $50 gift certificate to their website at the bottom of this post (US residents only)!!!
IncrediBundles curates bundles of small gifts with various themes, kind of a modern twist on the traditional baby basket. Their adorable and reusable containers are filled with award-winning items selected by child development experts and approved by parents! Here are a few pre-packaged bundles (including a reusable gift container) that I think any parent would be thrilled to receive:
You can also create your own bundle - the reusable container costs $9.99 and then you add as many items as you'd like to it! Most of the products available in the pre-packed bundles are available for create-your-own bundles. You simply search by category: books, toys, diapers, bath, sleep, organics, Sesame Street, and gift cards!
Another gift option they offer is the "one-year supply" gift, quite pricey but an amazing gift from a grandparent or a group of friends!! They have 3 great choices:
If you have a baby shower, meet the baby party, or first birthday party coming up, I highly recommend heading over to IncrediBundles.com for your gift!! If you happen to be the one with the baby on the way, you can even create an IncrediBundles gift registry!!
And if you're looking for the perfect Mother's Day gift, something the mother can enjoy along with her child(ren), this is it!! Just also make sure she gets to sleep in and escape for some alone time as well!!
THE GIFT THAT GIVES BACK:
One thing that makes IncrediBundles even more amazing is that they make a donation to a children's charity for every bundle purchased!! I LOVE THAT SO MUCH!!! You can read more about their charity network here!
OK, now it's giveaway time!!!! Enter in the Rafflecopter box below for your chance to win $50 credit to IncrediBundles.com!!! Open to US residents ages 18 and over.
Disclaimer: I'm no sellout guys! Though I was compensated to create this post, thoughts and opinions are my own and completely unbiased.
NY's 529 College Savings Plan
Many of us have heard of the 529 College Savings Plan, some of you may have actually set it up for your child(ren) already (good job!!!), but if you're like me you never really gave it much thought. I've always been of the mind frame that we'll save as much as we can in the bank, stock market, and real estate, and not allocate funds for anything specific. I want it all accessible at any moment for whatever it's needed for, whether it's illness, job loss, vacation, college, or retirement! However, I was recently compensated to attend and report on a seminar about NY's 529 College Savings Plan and I gotta tell you, guys, I think I may have been wrong! YIKES!!!
Organized by Mom Trends, our seminar's speakers included Vanugard's Mary Ryan - Director of the NY 529 College Savings Program, and Michael Turner of NY State Higher Education Services. Below are the key points I gleamed from the seminar that surprised me and really got me thinking about things. I hope you find them helpful, too!!
What's a 529?
The 529 is a type of investment plan used for higher-education, usually sponsored by states. Your money grows federally tax-deferred and qualified withdrawals are tax-free. If you live OR work in New York, you're lucky, because ours is one of the best!!
is your best friend!! It's basically earning money on your investment, and earning money on those earnings!! It's the idea behind any investment plan, 529 just has the added benefit of all of the tax breaks. Here's a great visual on how compound interest works from NYSaves.org (using a $100 monthly contribution and 5% interest rate for their example):
529 isn't just for college tuition!
Your savings can be used toward any qualified higher-education expense in or out of your state, even abroad! These can include tuition, books, room & board, study abroad, college / university, graduate school, vocational & technical school, computer & software, etc! Even if they get a large scholarship, there is often a significant gap between what is covered and remaining expenses, which usually include room and board, books, and more. This is something the 529 plan can help with tremendously!
Our kids got to do some cooking at the Institute of Culinary Education while us mom bloggers learned about NY's 529 Plan... what if one of these kids doesn't want to go to college and wants to be a chef instead? They can use their 529 savings to attend a certified culinary school!!
529 savings can be transferred to various family members!
Let's say your child is a genius or star athlete and gets a full ride (room and board - everything is covered) - you can hold their savings for their graduate school (which is much harder to fund with financial aid and scholarships), or you can transfer it free of charge to a sibling, yourself or your partner (maybe you've always dreamed of getting your Master's - why not now!?), a cousin, or even a grand child.
529 donations instead of birthday / holiday / graduation gifts!
Do you have friends or family members who send your child checks for their birthday? How about providing them a link to contribute that money into your child's 529 plan instead (you can set this up through UGift)! If it's a grandparent who would like the tax benefits, they can open up another account for your child themselves in whatever state they work in (only the account owner is eligible for the state income tax deduction)! There's no limit to how many accounts can be opened per child/beneficiary, and there's no age limit.
How does this impact financial aid and the new Excelsior Scholarship?
The Excelsior Scholarship (brand new in 2018 - students in households earning under $125,000 a year can go to any CUNY/SUNY school for free) and many other scholarships and grants look only at salary, not savings. In these situations, how much parents have saved in 529 plans, Roth IRA, or in the bank wouldn't have any impact on aid offered to the student!
When assets are considered, savings and Roth IRA plans owned by the parents are looked at but only a small percent is calculated to be available to cover a child's higher education expenses (because they realize you need that money for your home, regular expenses, retirement, etc). Custodial accounts, where your child is the account owner, however, WILL greatly impact eligibility for financial aid. Every penny will be expected to go toward their cost of education. So, keep this in mind when deciding to open up a regular savings account for your child! Definitely something to discuss with a financial planner!
If you don't have a good financial planner, a dear local mama friend of mine is a GREAT one and I highly recommend her, you can reach out to her here with all of your questions!
Amber Flanagan of NY Life Securities
TEL (347) 574-6615
Penalties for non-qualified withdrawals
If your kids don't use the money and you don't want to transfer it to another family member, or if you find yourselves in desperate need of the money, you can withdraw it for other use, however it'll be subject to all the taxes that had previously been deferred (federal, state, local) as well as a 10% federal penalty tax and other possible penalties.
What if we move?
To transfer your 529 from one state's plan to another, according to the NY 529 Disclosure Booklet, you'd be "subject to New York State income taxes on the earnings portion, as well as the recapture of any previous New York State tax deductions taken for contributions to the Account". Potentially, NY could view moving your plan to another state as a non-qualified withdrawal!! So, it may be in your best interest to let the account stay in NY, continuing to accrue interest. You can continue to contribute to it from your new home, though you won't receive the NY state tax benefits on new contributions at that point. If your new state has a great 529 plan with tax benefits, you can open a new one there and start contributing to that one, pulling from both accounts when your child gets to college age.
So, what do you think?? Are you going to look into the 529 plan more and set one up?? Leave a comment below with your thoughts - I'd love to hear more personal experiences - why you have or haven't set one up, what your accountants or financial planners have advised you, etc!!!
Disclaimer: Though I was compensated to attend this seminar and provide a blog post about it, thoughts and opinions are my own and completely unbiased. I did my best to summarize my understanding from the seminar, but some information could be inaccurate. Please consult a professional financial advisor to discuss any questions or concerns!! As mentioned above, my friend Amber is a great one!
We Love The Earth - Giveaway
We're thrilled to be promoting another great giveaway by Peace, Love & Literacy, this one including a huge jackpot of Earth-focused books and activities to help instill in your child an interest in caring for our planet and all of its creatures, big and small! Keep reading for a list of all the prizes in the jackpot, and enter to win in the Rafflecopter box at the bottom!
PRIZES IN THE JACKPOT!!
(Some links are "affiliate links" - if you make a purchase you won't pay more but I'll receive a small commission to help fund the blog!)
Whether you're riding a bike, skate boarding, rollerblading, snowboarding, or skiing, helmets are life savers, but who's to say they can't be fun and faaaaabulous as well?? Certainly not crazeeHeads, check 'em out!!!
crazeeHeads has several lines of helmet covers, from plush animal heads to cool/punk/creepy covers! They've been generous enough to include one of their stretcheeHeads spandex helmet covers in the $400 value jackpot of my latest giveaway (link at bottom of post to enter) - winner can choose between the Sparky the Unicorn, Stretch the Purple Giraffe, Hankster the Prankster, and Princess Mona Leza (pictured left to right below). These stretchy helmet covers are good year round on just about any type of sports helmet, from size children's/XXS to adult XXL!!
crazeeHeads also sent me the Sparky the Unicorn helmet cover to test out, and being the "pink is NOT just for girls" gender neutral mama I am, I was more than happy to gift it to my overjoyed son! Check him out rocking his stretcheeHeads unicorn below!! Safety first, but fun fashion second LOL!
It was super easy to put on the helmet, it has a little zipper in back to help it on and off and make it a universal fit. My son felt so special wearing it, too, and that says a lot because he was more than happy to cover up his AWESOME spiderman helmet with the unicorn haha!! He kept saying he was one of the My Little Ponies. Oh man, little Brony in the making!!
Here are some reasons I think these helmet covers are so cool (and practical!):
What do you think? Would your kids go nuts over one of these helmets? Would YOU ever wear one?? Which one? Reply in a comment below!! And don't forget you can win one in my huge $400 value jackpot giveaway!!
Disclaimer: Although I did receive this product free of charge and was compensated for my honest review, all thoughts and opinions are my own and completely unbiased.
We all do our best trying to exercise and eat right, and want to instill those healthy values in our kids. But sometimes it feels like they haven't eaten anything other than PB&J for 3 weeks straight, am I right? UGH!! Desperate times call for desperate measures and we gotta get a bit sneaky - whether it's secretly tossing spinach and flax seeds into a yummy smoothie or handing them vitamins disguised as candy.
One thing most kids will gladly chug down day or night is milk, especially flavored milk. It's a great source of protein and calcium (and sugar, so be careful), but there's one brand out there offering a bit more. Have you heard of Sneakz Organic Milkshakes?? I've reviewed them before (see it here) and I'm back to talk about them again because they've thrown 6 six-packs of their milk, a tote, and reusable shopping bag into my $400 value jackpot Spring Goodies for the Kiddies Giveaway - link at bottom to enter to win!!
Coming in chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, each 8oz box of Sneakz milk contains half a serving of vegetables, is sweetened with 12 grams of natural cane sugar*, and uses organic dairy from grass fed cows! No antibiotics, no synthetic hormones, and less sugar than other leading brands. *See bottom of post for a special note about the American Heart Association's recommendation on sugar intake.
And get this - if you don't do dairy, NO PROBLEM!! They've even launched a VEGAN protein powder featuring 14 grams of protein, probiotics, 10 essential amino acids and a half serving of vegetables!!
Sneakz milk boxes are great for throwing into your child's lunch box as a special treat, giving as an on-the-go after school snack, or slurping up quickly with breakfast. But, you can get creative with them, too! They've got some fun recipes on their website utilizing Sneakz milk, so I thought I'd give coming up with my own a try!!
I've been hearing a lot about the health benefits of chia seeds - rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and antioxidents - a true superfood! You can use them to replace eggs in a recipe or toss them into just about anything for added nutrients. You can also use them to make pudding, chia seed pudding to be more exact. You basically soak chia seeds in milk and your choice of flavor and sweetener, and after a few hours in the fridge the chia has soaked up the liquid and turned into a gelatinous seedy nutrient-packed pudding. I figured it sounds simple enough, I could tackle it! I decided to make a batch of chia pudding featuring each flavor of Sneakz. And you know what chocolate plus strawberry plus vanilla means... NEAPOLITAN CHIA SEED PUDDING!!! Keep reading for my "recipe" (I can't even call it a recipe because it's just too simple LOL!!!).
US Japan Fam's Sneakz Neapolitan Chia Pudding
Please note: chia pudding is a very odd texture - some love it, some hate it. My son made it to the second bite before he decided he hated it (no offense to Sneakz, he begs for you all day every day haha!!) You may find the flavor from just Sneakz alone isn't quite enough, so you can explore by blending the milk with berries or other flavors (nutella, peanut butter and banana, etc!!) before adding it to the chia seeds and refrigerating. If you try something that turns out great, reply below and share the love!!!
*The American Heart Association recommends no more than 25 grams of ADDED SUGAR (6 teaspoons) a day for children ages 2-18, and limiting sugary drinks to no more than 8 ounces a week. Added sugar is anything not naturally occurring in the food - added while processing or at the table. AHA recommends children under the age of 2 not be given any added sugar, in food or drink. These recommendations are based on the belief that a high sugar diet in childhood is tied to obesity, heart disease, and high blood pressure in adulthood. Most food labels list total sugar, not added sugar, so you unfortunately have to dig deeper or contact the company to find out how much sugar is ADDED. A Sneakz rep was happy to disclose 1 box of Sneakz milk contains 12 grams of added cane sugar.
I hope you didn't forget about the giveaway!!! We've got a $400 value jackpot of kids toys, shoes, clothes, and picnic wares!!!
Disclaimer: Although I did receive these products free of charge and was compensated for my honest review, all thoughts and opinions are my own and completely unbiased.
Whether you're looking for indoor or outdoor fun, from tricycles to balance bikes, there are a plethora of ride-on toy options out there for toddlers. But I discovered one at the recent Toy Fair NY that I had not seen before and, wow, it's really cool, the Original PlasmaCar!!!
I'm pleased to be working with PlaSmart to bring you this review, and also to announce that they've been generous enough to include a PlasmaCar in the $400 value jackpot giveaway I have going on right now!!! Keep reading for our review, and click the link at the bottom to enter to win!
The PlasmaCar is a really unique ride-on toy in that it has no pedals, gears, or motor. It's not powered by feet but rather powered by your hands twisting the steering wheel left and right! It's meant for ages 3 and up (and by up, we're talking up to 220 pounds - so even older kids and parents can get in on the action!!!)
Basically, you sit on, put your feet up, lean slightly foward, and turn the wheel left and right to move forward. If you hold the steering wheel in one direction you'll spin in a circle. If you turn the wheel 180 degrees and then turn left and right, you'll go backwards! It's not hard to figure out, and on a flat smooth surface you can get going up to 6 miles per hour! Check us out in action:
While riding the PlasmaCar doesn't take long to figure out, we had a much harder time putting it together. Instructions included stuff such as hammering pieces into place with a rubber mallet (um who has one of those??) and left us wondering if things were in the wrong spot and we were going to break them by forcing them in. Eeek! Our biggest problem was getting the steering wheel set up, because you have to wrench it really really tight into place or else it won't be engaged enough with the wheels, and you won't go anywhere when you turn the wheel. It took a few tries, but we finally got it set up, and the fun ensued!! If you can find a PlasmaCar already put together, I highly recommend buying it that way! I've set up many strollers where wheels and parts simply clicked right in, super easy, no force or tools required. I hope PlaSmart will consider a redesign in the future to make setup easier. They do have a manual & YouTube video about PlasmaCar assembly, which is a helpful, and maybe my husband and I struggled more than most, who knows. Anyway, it's definitely worth the sweat, it's really really fun for kids and adults alike!!!
A couple of other things to note: it seems to do best on a smooth, flat surface. Think linoleum, tile, garage, basketball court... It's not recommend for hard wood floors as it may mark them up. It does really well in our tiled apartment corridor haha, I'm sure our neighbors love us zooming up and down the hallway! It didn't do too well on our rough uneven sidewalk, and the weight limit actually goes down to 120 pounds when on non-smooth surfaces. It's not recommend for any surface with "give" such as grass, gravel, sand, etc.
PlasmaCar comes in a number of great colors, as a MSRP of $69.99, and can be purchased on Amazon (affiliate link), or you can check here for a local retailer.
Don't forget you can enter to win a PlasmaCar in my $400 value jackpot Spring Goodies for the Kiddies Giveaway, running through April 19!!
Disclaimer: Although I did receive this product in exchange for my honest review, all thoughts and opinions are my own and completely unbiased.
When it comes to kids' shoes, we have to consider health, safety, comfort, and of course, fashion! I recently ran across a brand that nails each of those categories right on the head - Tsukihoshi!! I'm thrilled to be working with them on this review, and they've been generous enough to contribute one pair of kids shoes to my $400 value Spring Goodies for the Kiddies Giveaway (our jackpot winner will receive their choice of design and size - link at bottom of post to enter to win!!).
Designing children's shoes in Japan for over 140 years, Tsukihoshi's mission is to provide "comfortable, fun shoes that give children's toes the freedom to move"! From split-toe Tabi Tabi to sturdy sneakers, Tsukihoshi has great shoes for babies to big kids that feature generous toe boxes, heel stabilizers, and light and flexible soles.
Before we get into reviewing the 3 awesome designs my kiddos are now rocking, I think we first need to address the brand's name, which might be a bit intimidating for some! Tsukihoshi, pronounced "skee-ho-shee", means moon and star in Japanese. The name is a tribute to the moon and stars, which the company's founders, two shoemakers back in 1873, used to look up to for courage, strength, and inspiration when working late into the night trying to perfect the traditional Japanese split-toe Tabi shoe. Pretty cool, right? And now you know 2 more Japanese words (I bet you already know a few others... sushi, karate, and ninja, to name a few!
Speaking of ninja, that brings me to the first shoe we're reviewing today, Tsukihoshi's Tabi Tabi, split-toe home shoes. Using the same philosophy behind their Jika-Tabi ("ninja boots" still worn today by many in Japan), the split-toe allows kids' toes to wiggle around more freely, as if barefoot! The slippers also help lift the arch and bring foot bones, tendons, and muscles into a natural alignment.
Tabi Tabi are entirely machine washable, with a thick and soft removable insole. The slipper is made of thick, soft, breathable jersey cotton and the bottom is also fabric with a wee bit of embossed grip (grippier than a sock, less than a sneaker). You can find Tabi Tabi for sale on Badorf Kids - they have 4 color options (blue/grey, beige/camo, lavender dots, and fuchsia dots) in sizes Small (Toddler 8.5 - 11.0), Medium (Toddler 11.5 - Youth 1.0), Large (Youth 1.5 - 4.0) for $29.95. My son wears a toddler size 10 and we decided to go for the size Medium, it's quite large on him, as you can see, but they stay on just fine and he loves them, so I'm happy as it buys us extra time in them haha!!
They're really great for us because we are a "no outdoor shoes inside" household - not just because it's my Japanese husband's culture, but also because it is SO MUCH HEALTHIER - think of all the nasty things you can track in from outside in your shoes. No thanks!!
My son is too young to understand about the split-toes being healthy for his foot development, but he does understand that they look VERY different from anything he's ever had on his foot, and he's in love with them. The first time he put them on, he looked at me and said, "ROARRRRRRRR, I'm a T-Rex!!!!" and I couldn't contain my laughter. Yes, I guess they do look a bit like a dinosaur foot (or goat, pig, etc).
The other shoes we got for my son were the Tsukihoshi Marina sneakers in cobalt/orange and man, I'm in love with these, I wish they came in MY size!! They are super lightweight, are easy to get on and off (just one velcro strap, and the tongue is stitched into place on one side, so the kiddo doesn't struggle with that either)!
My son was in desperate need of some sneakers. He had just outgrown his last pair and was begging for some Spiderman light up shoes. I'm sorry, I just couldn't go there. But these Tsukihoshi sneakers are so so cute, and I'm thrilled because he LOVES them and hasn't been bothering me about those Spiderman shoes since getting these - ha!! He is 4 but can get these on and off himself with no problem, and says they're really comfy. They definitely look comfy!
Tsukihoshi's Marina sneakers are machine washable, are water-friendly (featuring quick dry textiles), and have a removable antibacterial insert infused with natural green tea extract to kill odor causing germs. How cool is that!? Other features include wide toe box, heel stabilizer, arch support, and a grippy flexible non-marking TPR sole. You can find them for $52.95 on Badorf Kids in 11 colors from toddler size 7 - 13.
Last but certainly not least, we got the Tsukihoshi Neko sneakers for our 18 month old twin girls. I love getting them coordinating stuff rather than totally matching, when possible, and this is easy to do with Tsukihoshi having many color options in each design. Neko had 8 colors to choose from (in toddler sizes 4-7), so we went with Purple/Berry and Fuchsia/LtBlue.
The Neko sneaks feature most of the same good stuff as the Marinas: machine washable, antibacterial removable insert, wide toe box, heel stabilizer, tongue stitched to one side, easy on-off with single velcro strap. These also feature a non-marking EVA outsole and cushioned arch support.
They're incredibly lightweight; not as flexible as I'd hoped but decent. I should add we're coming out of only wearing baby moccs until now, so the jump into sneakers is always a tough one. But I gotta say, they were literally off and running within seconds of strapping these on! Nothing stopping these girls!!
Alrighty, now all 3 kids are fitted up with amazing Tsukihoshi sneakers and ready to get out and enjoy the Spring!! Ready or not, here we come!!!
To get some Tsukihoshi sneakers or Tabi Tabi for your kids, head on over to Badorf Kids or Amazon (affiliate link), and don't forget, one pair is included in the $400 jackpot of my Spring Goodies for the Kiddies Giveaway running through April 19!!!
Disclaimer: Although I did receive these products free of charge, all thoughts and opinions are my own and completely unbiased.
Spring is here, life is good, and I'm here to make it even better... with another huge giveaway!!! This one features awesome goodies for your kiddies this spring, summer, and beyond - we're talking shoes, outdoor toys, picnic wares, and clothes!! Keep reading for more about the prizes in our $400 value jackpot and enter to win in the Rafflecopter box at the bottom!
*Disclaimer: Some links below are "affiliate links" - clicking or making purchases through them won't cost you more but I'll receive a small cut to help fund my oh-so-very-awesome blog :)
PlaSmart's award winning PlasmaCar reaches speeds of up to 6 miles per hour using only the power of your hands twisting the steering wheel left and right! Fun for ages 3 and up (it can hold up to 220 pounds!), PlasmaCar has no gears, batteries, or pedals and is fun for outdoor and indoor use. Our grand prize winner will receive one PlasmaCar, a $70 value!! Check 'em out on Amazon and and my personal review (with fun demo of my husband, my 4 year old, and MYSELF taking it for a spin!!)
With a half serving of veggies in each 8oz box of flavored milk, Sneakz helps us sneak some extra nutrition into our kids! Coming in 3 delicious flavors (chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry) and certified USDA organic, Sneakz is the perfect drink to throw in the lunch box, bring on a picnic, or suck down in the car on the way to school! They've got some really fun recipes on their website, and I'll be coming up with my own so come check back soon! Our grand prize winner will receive a great prize pack from Sneakz including 2 six-packs of each flavor (that's 36 milk boxes!!), a Sneakz tote bag, and Sneakz reusable shopping bag (a $70 value)! You can shop for Sneakz on their website (and even sign up for a discounted subscription service) and Amazon. And you can read my personal review here (spoiler alert: we LOVE them!!) and check out my recipe for Sneakz Neapolitan Chia Pudding!
Tsukihoshi has been designing shoes for over 140 years, with the mission to provide "comfortable, fun shoes that give children's toes the freedom to move"! From Tabi Tabi (traditional Japanese sock shoes with split toes) to sturdy sneakers, Tsukihoshi has great shoes for babies to big kids that feature generous toe boxes, heel stabilizers, and light and flexible soles. Our grand prize winner will receive one pair of Tsukihoshi shoes (winner chooses design and size, valued around $68), and others can find them available to purchase on Badorf Kids and Amazon, and check out my personal review here!
If you haven't heard of them before, I'm thrilled to introduce you to Monikako Kids, a Spanish children's fashion brand featuring original prints and handmade drawings on fun and comfortable clothing and accessories for babies 0-24 months and kids 2-12 years. Their 2017 Spring & Summer line (showcased in the photo above) revolves around the theme "Let Music Feed Your Soul", in unique and adorable styles! Our grand prize winner will receive their choice of the best selling Sippie Dress (far left in above photo) or Eric T-Shirt (far right in above pic). Others can shop through their website!
Made of 100% food-grade silicone and featuring a removable no-spill insert that actually works, Squeasy Gear is my all-time favorite reusable food pouch. Hands down. They're self-standing with a large opening, so filling them up is super easy. They're top-rack dishwasher safe and can even be turned inside out for cleaning. They come in 16oz, 6oz, and 3.5oz, and the no-spill insert works so well, you can even use Squeasy Snackers for liquids (and of course the pouch standards - pureed baby food, yogurt, applesauce, etc)! Our grand prize winner will receive 3 Squeasy Gear products - size and color of his or her choice, a $50 value. You can find them available on Squeasy Gear's website and Amazon, and you can check out my personal review here!
Do you have a child who loves to play dress up or dressing creatively? Or perhaps YOU do! Well, why not let this flare carry over to your helmet when riding a bike, scooter, or roller skates?? In addition to plush animal covers for ski helmets, crazeeHeads also has a spandex line of helmet covers called StretcheeHeads - they fit just about any helmet (1 size fits all, from child's XXS to adult's XXL), good for biking, skateboarding, skiing, snowboarding, roller skating, you name it!! Our jackpot winner will receive one StretcheeHeads spandex helmet cover, in their choice of design - Sparky the Unicorn, Stretch the Purple Giraffe, Hankster the Prankster, or Princess Mona Leza - a $30 value! You can find them on crazeeHeads' website or Amazon. And check out my review here!
From TVs and computers to phones and tablets, our kids are exposed to so many screens these days, it's really important to make sure they're getting enough unplugged play in there, and that is something GeoSafari Jr. by Educational Insights really focuses on. They've got tons of great toys to help encourage kids to have fun exploring the world, both indoors and outdoors! Our grand prize winner will receive their choice of GeoSafari Jr. toy, choosing from Walkie Talkies (let's kids communicate from up to 300 feet away!), Kidnoculars (focus-free binoculars offering 2x magnification, extra large eye pieces, and breakaway neck strap), or My First Microscope (fully functioning microscope with up to 8x magnification, extra-large eyepieces, and a chunky kid-sized focusing knob) - a $30 value! You can find GeoSafari's toys on Educational Insight's website and Amazon.
We all know the phrase: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, right? Well, are you doing your part to waste less? It's time to graduate from wasteful ziplock bags and get you some reusable storage bags from Revelae Kids!! These zippered moisture resistant bags come in tons of fun designs and 3 convenient sizes: 12x16" Everything Bag, 7x7" Sandwich Bag, and 4x7" Snack Bags. Made of BPA-free, phthalate-free, PVC-free, and lead-free nylon, these bags can be washed in the dishwasher or washing machine! Our grand prize winner will receive a 3-pack of the 7x7" sandwich bags in their latest design, "Jewel" (shown above), a $15 value. You can find them on Revelae Kids' website or Amazon.
Did you know electrolyte replacement drinks tend to be full of artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners? Big Bang Beverages wasn't too thrilled with that, so they created an organic and healthier alternative to Pedialyte: Wubba Water, a children's hydration drink free of synthetic dyes, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, and GMO's! Colored only with fruit and vegetable extracts and having only 1 gram of organic sugar per serving, Wubba Water is a healthier way for your little one to replenish water and electrolytes when sick or playing sports (and they'll get a Vitamin C boost to boot)! You can find Wubba Water at Whole Foods (in the TriState area) and on Amazon, and our grand prize winner will receive a 3-pack (one of each flavor - blue raspberry, fruit punch, and orange).
Amazing giveaway, am I right!?!?! Coordinated by US Japan Fam, this giveaway is sponsored by participating brands and open to US residents ages 18 and over. No purchase required to enter. Giveaway ends Wednesday, April 19 at 11:59 PM EDT - one winner will be randomly chosen and contacted through e-mail, and their name displayed on the giveaway page. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. US Japan Fam and participating blogs are not responsible for fulfilling brand-sponsored prizes. Prizes will be shipped directly from each brand.
ENTER TO WIN HERE!!! GOOD LUCK!!!
I LOVE a good live show - whether it's a Broadway musical, traveling circus, or rockin' cover band. The loud music, the artistry, the thrill... it's all SO much fun!! And its something that has been missing from my life since having kids. Most of these events are not exactly baby/kid friendly, and leaving 3 kids home with a sitter isn't exactly budget-friendly. If this struggle sounds all too familiar to you and you live in the NYC metro area, I've recently discovered a place and added it to my list of the best things to do with kids in NYC: the New Victory Theater!
New Victory Theater, in the heart of New York City's Times Square, has been devoted to presenting theater, dance, circus, opera and music from around the world to New York families since 1995. Ticket prices are a fraction of its neighboring Broadway theaters (I believe usually around $16-38 a seat), and yet you get the same quality shows set in an equally spectacular theater, with tons of added features specifically geared toward making their littlest audience members (and their grownups) feel welcomed. You'll be greeted by exuberant ushers and find family-friendly conveniences such as booster seats, stroller parking, free lockers, step stools at bathroom sinks, healthy concession snacks, and tons of games and activities before and after each show.
Last weekend, I received 2 comp tickets to check out their newest show, "Something" by Liberi Di Physical Theater, running March 31 - April 16. Always looking for fun one-on-one activities to do with my son, he was an easy choice as my plus one (daddy reluctantly stayed home with the babies).
"Something", a contemporary cirque show from Italy, starts off really quirky and upbeat - with vibrant colors and funky acrobatics and dancing in a big group. From there, each scene features a different performer(s). From dance and acrobatics to mid-air performance (a beautiful duet on a hoop and a girl rocking out on aerial silks - the latter of which I've usually seen performed more sensually, but this punk twist was really cool and totally worked!)
All acts were amazing and so completely different, it left me a wondering if there was any kind of plot. DIrector Davide Agostini explains the theme, "You can make every day extraordinary and find ‘something’ that makes you feel better." One scene features 4 silly guys flipping around a table playing poker, and another has a guy hanging for dear life from a hoop above a group of acrobatic animals trying to eat him! Eventually certain characters and props started intertwining but overall, no, there didn't seem to be any kind of grand story being told. But each scene was so entertaining in its own, it was just fine by me (also makes it easier for any kids who may doze in and out). It just added to the quirkiness of it all! And the music, oh the music! It took on a character of its own - it is REALLY catchy, no live orchestra, but I loved it!
There was a lot of humor woven into the acts - you were wow'd one moment with a jaw dropping stunt, and laughing out loud the next moment by their silly antics. The show and the theater are obviously marketed toward families, but I would say it's equally relevant and enjoyable for an adult as a child, and I would 100% recommend it for families with kids as well as for a date night!
One of the most awesome parts of New Vic being so family-friendly is that you don't feel as much pressure to have your kids on their best behavior. When they shout out excitedly in the middle of the act (as mine may or may not have done...), you won't feel the entire room is giving you the stink eye. HOORAY FOR THAT!!!
"Something" is 60 minutes long with no intermission and is suggested for ages 6 and above, but my 4 year old enjoyed it thoroughly, until he passed out hard half way through... He doesn't really nap anymore, but put him in a dark room or moving vehicle midday and it's game over. I'd personally say the show itself is appropriate for 3 or 4 years and up (assuming maturity and ability to be quiet and sit still), but you have to consider if your kids will be able to stay awake despite it being super exciting haha! They also have 5pm and 7pm show times on some nights, and even had an Autism-Friendly show on Sunday April 2!.
Disclaimer: Although I did receive tickets free of charge, all thoughts and opinions are my own and completely unbiased.
I'm a NYC metro area mom blogger living in NJ with my Japanese husband & our 3 kids (twins plus 1), focusing on fun and honest product and travel reviews, saving moms time finding the best for their families! Find what you need in the menu bar or search section above!