26 January 2010

Cure the "terrible twos" with these items just for them!

Personally, I'm not sure the twos are so terrible, BUT, just in case you may be having a difficult time with a 2-year old in your life, here are some things that may help cure them (at home OR on-the-go), at least for a while!

Rainbow Stacker: this simple, classic wooden toy from Melissa & Doug has 8 pieces to stack, sort, and help teach colors. Big on fun, small enough to take along anywhere! ($7.99)

Bead Maze: This Cactus Bead Maze fr
om ImagiPLAY is just the answer for those long waits at the Doctor's office or a restaurant - move the beads around, count the beads, name the colors, make up stories about the desert! ($12.99 ON SALE for $8.95) also comes in a Palm Tree version

Wooden Vehicles from Maple Landmark: these Mini Monster Wooden Cars are perfect for little hands and safe for those 6 months and up. There is no paint, just natural wood. Many BIG adventures for these MINI monsters - also comes in Bus and Truck versions - collect them all (only $4.99 each)

PlanPreschool Teddy from Plan Toys; most kids young and old have plenty of plush teddy bears, but this wooden companion is pose-able and sized for small hands. Constructed to be safe for those 19 months and up. It takes teddies one step further! (17.95 ON SALE for $11.95)

Rub a Dub School of Fish: Fish-shaped cup fun from Alex Toys. No child should go without stacking cups with endless play opportunities including TUB play. The many colored, many sized cups lend themselves to stacking, nesting, counting, color recognition, and our kid's favorite, crashing the stack over! (only $10.99)

See, those 'terrible' twos' energy can be redirected to fun, interactive, and educational fun. Easy! (?)

Cure the "terrible twos" with these items just for them!SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

17 January 2010

Saving Money on a little trip to NYC

For the first time, I am headed to the New York International Toy Fair - VERY EXCITED. I have reserved a hotel for 3 nights just 1/2 of a block from the Convention Center where it is held (at a modest $200 a night for nothing noteworthy!?). Then, it struck me that this is happening during my sons' and husband's February vacation so why not make a family trip of it?! They can go see some nearby sights (Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building etc.), while I spend a couple of days trying to find the next wave of really cool items to include for KidsTravelHappy.com (kids, ironically, are NOT allowed at the Toy Fair, and this is an IN the industry show, but if you are a retailer- see you there!).

Then, came the task of figuring out how to make the most of our 4 days and 3 nights in NYC. To drive from Maine means 6-8 hours (or more, depending on traffic and weather), but fairly inexpensive way to go. Our kids (3 and 6 years) are seasoned travelers so the time isn't a problem in that sense, but did we want to spend all that time IN the car with so little time overall on this trip? Then, there's the hassle of what to do with the car in the city, paying to park, navigating around etc. SO, I then looked into plane tickets, on Orbitz and Expedia, finally settling for JetBlue.com, as the show offers a 5% OFF coupon for those attending the show. It ended up being about $450 for 4 of us to fly from Portland, Maine to Laguardia Airport, NY. We booked and are relieved that this will offer the max amount of time at our destination with a minimal amount of travel time.

Next, the task of how to save on the other major 'costs' of travel with a family to a city.

  • FOOD - we love to dine out, especially in a place with so MANY unique options, yet, we are not used to the 'NY' pricing. Our strategy? We have a hotel with a microwave and a refrigerator, so we plan to make good use of them for snacks, breakfast, and lunch, and splurge on dinner out each day. We have had fun surfing around the internet for kid friendly places in and around the Toy Show (Times Square, Rockefeller Center area). Another great option is to pack laptop lunch/Bento style snacks for on-the-go/around town snacking.
  • TRANSPORTATION - we have decided to fore go driving into New York (as mentioned above) and use the abundance of public transportation. More on this after we go! While I'm at the show, my husband and boys will concentrate on the sites nearby, as that will help save cost as well - there are so many things to see, there is no need to go too far anyway.
  • WATER - we are fans of Sigg, Crocodile Creek, or similar reusable BPA bottles, and with studies showing that bottled water is not better or worse than tap water, the investment in a nice Steel Bottle is worth it when you can fill it for FREE! This is especially handy in an airport where bottled water can be somewhat astronomical in price - just make sure it is empty for security, or you'll be dumping it out! You can fill once inside.
In a few weeks I'll have a report on the show, what were good things to do (and, not), as well as fun stuff I found and learned at the show. To be continued.....
Saving Money on a little trip to NYCSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

09 January 2010

You'll FLIP over these, so to speak

We LOVE these games from Melissa & Doug, as they have NO loose pieces and are self-contained (well, there is a 'loose' dry erase pen for the Hangman....)

WHY? you may ask....
First of all, in reference to all games generally
  • all are easy to take on any trip (who says you must learn about states and capitals WHILE driving ONLY?)
  • wooden, quality toys
  • educational
More Specifically...
  • Flip to Win HANGMAN: Classic word game with a twist! Think of a word and try to stump your opponent. Includes one game board with erasable whiteboard, self-storing dry-erase marker and eraser. No loose pieces (except for the dry erase pen & eraser lid)
  • Flip to Win Memory Match: Choose from among fourteen fun themes, slide a card into the gameboard and start looking for matches. This handy memory game includes one game board, seven double-sided game cards and a two-player scoreboard. There are no loose pieces and everything conveniently stores in the board
  • Flip to Win License Plate Game: Add excitement to travel with this sturdy, reusable classic travel game from Melissa & Doug. Learn the name and location of all fifty states, identify states by their license plate design or simply plot your trip by flipping the states along your route...this is truly fun on the go! No loose pieces to leave a trail! Can be played by one or more players. Backside of license plate has state capitals (cool!).
TRY one out on your next trip (or rainy day!) and you'll be 'flipping' before you know it!

You'll FLIP over these, so to speakSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

02 January 2010

Settle in with Crafts for home OR on-the-go!

Living in Maine, I DO love winter, but I also love cuddling up with a warm cup of tea (or coffee, depending on time of day!), and my knitting. I enjoy knitting in the car, on a plane (needles are no longer 'banned'), with friends, watching a movie, sitting with the kids on the couch, or just about anywhere. Occasionally, I even get to hang out with my mom (who taught me to knit many years ago), and chat about life, kids, etc.

Knitting is extremely portable, and I find it's always good for a conversation starter as well. Other knitters (myself included) can't help but inquire about what someone else is knitting, who it may be for (rarely for the knitter her/himself!), type of yarn, and more... every stitch has a story.

At KidsTravelHappy.com we like to offer crafts that promote creativity, stimulate the mind, work on hand-eye coordination, teach reading of patterns, and are a fun way to pass the time at home or on-the-go. Let's not forget that in the end (best of all!) you'll have something to show (give, share...) when it's completed.

Our top suggestions are the following

My Chunky & Funky Scarf Kit from Alex Toys (pictured top on left): Includes the 'chunky' yarn, needles and easy instructions. Save the box and you'll be ready to take your project anywhere.

Schylling Toy's Potholder Loom & Loop Kit: everything you need to make potholders (or drink coasters, or wall hangings...), a metal loom, and plenty of loops (150 of them!) to make the miles go by quickly

Classic French Knitting Flower from International Playthings: the perfect introduction to 'knitting' for those not quite ready for the Scarf Kit. Comes with a kid-safe needle, a variety of yarn colors and ONE knitting flower

Boys will enjoy theses as much as girls, no need to lump these activities into any gender stereotype! It's easy to be 'crafty'!

Settle in with Crafts for home OR on-the-go!SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend