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Friday, May 16th, 2014
Summertime is right around the corner! But there’s always so much to pack and buy before the fun can start. Whether you’re prepping your little one for sleepaway camp, the beach, international travel, or just a trip to Grandma’s, we’ve got you covered! (Click on the pictures to shop!).
For the Little Camper
Accessories: Your nature-lover will enjoy having a place to keep track of fun memories, friends’ contact info, and more in this journal with a woodsy design. (Chronicle Books, $10)
Games: A group activity like Mad Libs will be enjoyable for the whole cabin. (Ebeanstalk, $4)
Tote: The duffel is a sleepover classic, but it’s also great for longer trips. This orange color makes it easy for your kid to identify his bag. (Paragon Sports, $45)
Don’t Forget: Stamps and stationery so he can send letters to friends and family (hey, snail mail isn’t dead!), fun snacks if he needs a break from camp food (as long as the camp directors say it’s allowed), and a note from mom and dad to dig out if a homesick moment strikes. Worried about kids’ belongings getting mixed up in the cabin? This camp-specific set of labels, on sale until June 30, is weather-resistant and will help him keep track of all of his stuff. (Mabel’s Labels, $40)
For the World Traveler
Accessories: This notebook is tres chic! Your little travel companion can use it to doodle on the plane or make a list of must-sees. (Chronicle Books, $12)
Games: If you’re worried about overweight luggage, pack a lightweight card game that will keep kids occupied during long plane or train rides. Plus, kids will have a go-to activity if there’s downtime in the hotel room. (Diapers.com, $6)
Tote: You may be traveling from destination to destination or have a ways to go from the airport to your hotel. A backpack is a practical way for kids to tote their stuff and pull a rolling suitcase at the same time. Make sure zippers stay shut and keep an eye out for strangers’ wandering hands so that nothing goes missing en route! (Amazon, $45)
Don’t Forget: That summer reading book (long plane rides are the perfect time for kids to tackle work), music and DVDs (plus headphones!) for additional entertainment, and chargers (plus country-specific converters) for all electronics. (Headphones: Sears, $25)
For the Beach-Goer
Accessories: Help her sun in style with this cheerful chair and umbrella set. (Hayneedle, $33).
Games: Keep your little one occupied with a variety of toys to use in the sand. The multitude of options makes it easy to share with siblings. (Walmart, $21)
Tote: Kids can stash towels in this mesh bag which can later store wet swimsuits. (Paragon, $14)
Don’t Forget: It may seem like a no-brainer–but sunscreen is absolutely essential. Pack sunglasses to comfort sensitive eyes. This colorful lunchbox is cheerful and also keeps their snacks and drinks cool. (Paper Source, $23)
For a Visit with Relatives
Accessories: A pillow will help keep little necks comfy in the car or on the plane and can double as a nighttime snuggle buddy if kids are wary about bringing favorite stuffed animals on vacation. Games: Grandma may not have tons of toys on hand, so be sure to pack some travel-friendly favorites! A game like Scrabble is fun for all generations. (Diapers.com, $19)
Tote: If Grandma is only a car ride away, you don’t have to be as concerned about weight limits and hauling hefty luggage. A canvas tote is a road trip must for keeping games, snacks, and books accessible. Plus, kids will love having their own personalized bag. (Grandin Road, $39)
Don’t Forget: This vacation is all about relaxation and bonding time, so encourage your kid to choose some special activities to do with relatives. Is there a movie your daughter has seen recently that Grandpa would absolutely love? Rent it and bring it along to watch together! Is Grandma great at photography? Encourage your son to bring his camera so he can snap along with her. Is your little one curious about Uncle Jim’s life story? Bring along this ball filled with questions for kids to ask older relatives. (It may help you learn more about your family, too!). (Walmart, $19)
Have a wee one on board? Make sure Grandma and Grandpa’s house is babyproofed.
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accessories, bags, beach, car trips, Games, grandma's house, kids summer essentials, packing for vacation, plane trips, road trips, sleepaway camp, Travel, visiting relatives | Categories:
Wednesday, April 30th, 2014
I may be the food editor at Parents, but like other moms and dads I read the magazine for parenting advice and product tips. When I opened the March issue a couple of months ago I devoured every word of Beach Bliss, my colleague Karen Cicero’s story featuring the 10 best Caribbean destinations for families. It was cold—really cold—here in New York, and I was ready to daydream about a warm holiday. But, one thing led to another, and before I knew it my family and I had booked a long Easter weekend at The Somerset on Grace Bay in Turks and Caicos, the magazine’s top recommendation.
We’ve been home over a week now and I can confidently say that Karen had it right when she recommended Turks and Caicos. Here’s why:
The Sand and the Water: That sounds obvious, right? The beach should be a highlight of any tropical vacation, but Grace Bay is truly special. The sand is fine, white, and oh-so-soft. The sea was as turquoise as a swimming pool and just as clear. Most days it was also very calm, making it perfect for little ones to splash around in.
Family-Friendly Resorts: While numerous accommodations catering to a variety of budgets dot Grace Bay, we loved the beachfront Somerset. The suites were spacious (at least as big as our Brooklyn apartment, which I guess isn’t saying much…), with a well-stocked kitchen and washer and dryer. Water toys were available at the resort’s three pools; snorkels and flippers were free to borrow at the beach. The staff was extremely friendly and helpful, and the pool-side pina coladas were pretty spectacular. Bonus: The resort offers a free Kids Club on weekdays.
Kids Can Play With Dogs: If your kids are anything like my kid, a dog is a big draw. About a 15 minute walk from the Somerset is Potcake Place, a charity that rehabs the island’s many stray dogs for eventual adoption. Visitors can play with the dogs and even take them out for walks on the beach. We played a couple of times with Happy, a sweet butterscotch-colored puppy. American families frequently adopt dogs they meet at Potcake Place, and not a day has gone by that my daughter hasn’t lamented the fact we didn’t bring home Happy. (Truth be told, I feel the same way.)
Easy Adventures: For older kids like my eight year-old, a boat tour is an exciting way to experience sun, surf, and sand. Top on our agenda was snorkeling, and we booked a half-day trip with Island Vibes Tours. Since Turks and Caicos is near the world’s third-largest coral reef, we saw tons of colorful fish and even a cool-looking lobster lurking in a small underwater cave. After snorkeling, we sped towards a deserted island nearby where small lemon sharks circled in the surf and endangered rock iguanas posed for pictures.
My daughter with the dog we actually bought her.
Fun Food: As you would expect, fresh seafood is everywhere on the island, especially conch. Fried into fritters or chopped into a salad, this mild-tasting shellfish is surprisingly kid-friendly. For a full-on island meal, a staff-member at the Somerset suggested we check out Da Conch Shack, a relaxed restaurant literally on the beach. We sat at picnic tables with sand under our toes watching the sun set and inhaling conch hush puppies, jerk chicken wings, and fried plantains. We bought my daughter a small painted conch shell there, which is now her favorite souvenir from the trip, especially since we didn’t come home with a (real) dog. We’ll save that for our next trip to Turks and Caicos, which I hope will be very soon.
The Somerset is offering Parents readers a 25% discount on lodging and free continental breakfast on stays of three nights or more through August 31. Use the promo code PARENTS.
Images provided by The Somerset on Grace Bay
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beach, beach bliss, beach vacations, conch, family friendly, family-friendly vacations, grace bay, Parents magazine, Travel, Turks and Caicos | Categories:
GoodyBlog, Time for Fun, Travel
Friday, July 12th, 2013
New babies have a way of highlighting what we’ve been taking for granted all of our lives, like a nice shower, for example. When was the last time you’ve had a nice, long shower without the worry of a tiny cry coming from the other side of the door? Or a day at the beach in the summer time? Mama’s skin can take the heat, but we’ve all sacrificed plenty of perfect beach days for the sake of our little ones’ skin.
Luckily, this week’s giveaway will scratch one sacrifice off of the list. Leave a comment below, up to one a day below between now and the end of the day on Wednesday July 17th, and you can have the chance to win a Mustela Beach and Bath Essentials kit. The set includes a baby-safe mineral sunscreen and after-sun hydrating spray for baby, and hair and body wash to get that icky sand and salt water off afterward. And to make it extra fun, you’ll find a beach mat, bubble bath, and a rubber ducky too!
Only one lucky commentator will win, but the products are also available for purchase at Babies “R” Us and online at Mustela.com, so we’re all in luck.
Here is where you can read the official rules. Goody luck!
Congratulations to our winner, Joni Pena!
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bath, bath essentials, beach, Giveaway, Mustella, prize, skincare, sweepstakes | Categories:
Giveaways, GoodyBlog, Health & Safety, Shopping & Gear
Friday, June 28th, 2013
Kowabunga! Summer’s in full swing and that means one thing: It’s time for fun in the sun. So stock up on these beach bargains, currently available at Shop Parents for up to 40 percent off.
• Get them swimwear that features their favorite Disney characters, such as a pink polka-dotted Minnie Mouse two-piece or a rad pair of Toy Story swim trunks.
• Protect them from the sun’s rays with Banana Boat’s Natural Reflect Kid’s sunscreen and, for the little ones, a reversible canvas sun hat.
• Inspire their creativity (and a few kooky sand confections) with imaginative beach toys like Melissa & Doug’s Seaside Sidekicks Sand Baking Set and Happy Giddy Sand Toy Set.
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40% off, beach, beach toys, Disney, kids, Minnie Mouse, sand, sunscreen, swimsuit, swimwear, toy story | Categories:
Thursday, January 24th, 2013
Listening to the radio this morning, I hear that it’s 13 degrees in New York City, but it feels like 4. As I grab a thicker sweater, my mind drifts to warmer days—specifically a weekend in October I spent on Emerald Isle in the Southern Outer Banks in North Carolina. I arrived late at night, and though I couldn’t see the beach when I got to the house in which I’d be staying, I was greeted with the sound of the waves and the refreshing smell of the salty air.
The view from my room.
After a restful night’s sleep, I awoke to a view of the sun rising over the beach. Ah. Heaven! I would’ve loved to have sipped coffee on my room’s balcony, but there was no time to sit and stare (plus, there’d be time for that later. I soon realized that staying in a rented beach house, with it’s mix of privacy and luxury, is a nice change of pace to my usual resort vacations). After a quick breakfast with a few fellow journalists who were also touring N.C., we were off to the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. Once there, I gazed at the various swimming creatures, pet a couple rays in the touch pool, and took part in the Sea Turtle Rescue exhibit, where I assessed the ailments of a (plastic) turtle and diagnosed it with hypothermia. How appropriate. I’d welcome the blanket I used to treat the little guy now!
Me, posing at the aquarium!
Later that day, we took a boat ride to Cape Lookout National Seashore where we had a picnic lunch on the beach to fuel our 207-step climb to the top of Cape Lookout Lighthouse. From our new perspective we gawked at the gorgeous view of sand, sparkling ocean, and the wild horses galloping on a nearby island.
Looking at the lighthouse before our climb. It wasn’t as strenuous as I expected!
After our descent, we got back on the boat and headed for home. About midway back to shore, a team (school? Pod?) of dolphins surrounded us! The playful fellas jumped and squeaked, seemingly pleased to pose for our cameras.
Click to watch a video of the dolphins!
The following day we got up early and headed to Hot Wax Surf Shop for a stand-up paddle-boarding lesson. Don’t let the picture fool you—we did make it out on the water! We were doing great, despite it being all of our first times, until the Coast Guard cruised by and knocked us all down with the waves created by their boat! There was no harm done, though, and we all had a good laugh, got back onto our boards, and continued paddling.
The beginning of our lesson.
After drying off and freshening up, the gang headed to historic Beaufort (the third oldest town in North Carolina) where we heard about the history on a double-decker bus tour. It’s a quaint town right on the water that started as a fishing village. (Side note: If you’re a fan of fishing, the Outer Banks is the place for you! I took a run on the beach each day of my trip and dodged happy-looking fishermen, -women, and -children the whole way.) Okay, back to Beaufort: Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time to spend there but other highlights are the Maritime Museum, tours of restored historic buildings, and a yummy fudge shop (okay, I may have made the time to sample some fudge).
The group in front of the double-decker bus.
Later that evening, we were treated to a 5-course catered dinner at our vacation house, where we raised a glass to a great stay in North Carolina!
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beach, Beaufort, Cape Lookout National Seashore, Crystal Coast, dolphins, Hot Wax Surf Shop, lighthouse, North Carolina, North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, stand-up paddle boarding, vacation | Categories:
Monday, April 30th, 2012
Taking kids to the beach: What’s not to love? You spend a lengthy period of time putting sunscreen on every possible surface, you drag all of your family’s stuff to the most ideally located spot, you no sooner set it all up when someone needs to go to the bathroom, you return to the beach to requests for a drink or a snack, the drink and/or snack drops in the sand, you can’t take your eyes off your child(ren) for a second as you assume the role of their constant playmate and/or manage their fears of the water, and when it’s time to leave your children are covered in a thick coat of sunscreen mixed with sand that refuses to budge from their skin. (Or is that just my typical routine?)
I can’t help you with any of the irritations of going to the beach with young children–except for one. Get yourself Sand-Off, a mitt that wipes sand off your child’s skin. After trying it out in Florida last weekend, I’m here to tell you that it works! The terry cloth mitt is filled with baby powder, the secret ingredient for removing sand. I was already using baby powder to help slough the sand off my girls’ skin, but there were two problems with my method: I was going through pounds of the stuff, and I was making a giant mess. Sand-Off keeps the powder contained, and comes with a plastic storage bag, too. Each mitt lasts for between 30 and 40 uses; you can buy 1 for $8, 3 for $22, or 6 for $40.
Give it a shot (or slap) this summer–I bet you’ll be hooked.
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Wednesday, March 28th, 2012
I’m not sure where you are located, but the temps here in New York have dropped. It’s the perfect time of year to take a sunbreak, and last year I found just the place.
St. George Island, a 28-mile barrier island, sits four miles off the mainland, with the Apalachicola Bay on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other. According to Dr. Stephen Leatherman’s (aka Dr. Beach’s) annual survey, the tiny island claims to be the sixth best beach in the world! I have to agree…it’s breathtaking. The nine miles of undeveloped shoreline features some of the best shelling. If the kids are lucky, during May and August, they might get a glimpse of a loggerhead sea turtle.
Besides the beaches, there’s great fishing, nature trails, canoeing, and kayaking in shallow Apalachicola Bay. Journeys offer some great kid-friendly adventures. For $40, you can hop on a boat to scout for dolphins and visit Little St. George for a hermit crab race. Snacks and drinks are included. Local rental agencies such as Resort Vacation Properties offer loads of private accommodations. For $5 (per person, per night) you and the family can also rough it and camp at Gap Point in the island’s state park. Watch out for the “cat faces” left over from when the pine trees were turpentined. Hope y’all get to visit!
Photo: Lou Kellenberger, Franklin County, TDC
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Wednesday, July 27th, 2011
Even though some kids are going back to school, summer’s far from over! From Memorial Day through Labor Day, there are 99 days of summer (we counted!), which means we’re dedicated to bringing you tons of ideas to have fun, keep cool, and stay safe every day until September 5.
There are still plenty of summer days left, so make sure to sign up for the Daily Parenting Tip newsletter to receive special summer features from us and our partner, PBS Parents.
Get through the heat wave by keeping your kids hydrated and making unique and colorful ice pops. Or seek the shade and stay indoors to create dazzling crafts that will catch the sun.
For more summer inspiration, here are our favorite ideas to get your family through the rest of summer:
Don’t forget to visit our 99 Days of Summer page for more recipes, crafts, travel, and safety ideas!
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99 days of summer, backyard camping, beach, crafts, daily parenting tip, pbs, pbs parents, recipes, summer, summer safety, toys | Categories:
Crafts, Food, GoodyBlog, Time for Fun, Your Child