Tuesday, December 29, 2009

holiday looks: foot fetish

So you've been on your feet all day...and you're still expected to wear heels all night long at that New Year's Eve party. Don't shy away from your favorite pair of stilettos. Amazing Arches ($6.95 per pair) from Foot Petals will cushion your feet and make you feel comfortable way past midnight, giving footwear that previously didn't work for you a second chance. The extra padding sticks to your shoes and cushions every part of your foot, creating a virtual arch for flat feet and offering much-needed stabilization. The best part: It works with your body's natural shock absorption system to reduce foot fatigue. Go to
www.footpetals.com to purchase a pair. But don't check out before grabbing a pair of Heavenly Heelz ($4.95-$18.95) too. They are total lifesavers! I recently went to a store to buy a pair of high heels I was eyeing for months. When I tried them on, my heel kept slipping out of the back of the shoes. Thanks to Heavenly Heelz, I can step out in style once again.

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holiday looks: wow brows

The good news: The 'rents have decided to babysit so you can go out on New Year's Eve. The bad news: There's no time for a brow wax in between Gymboree class and diaper changes. For a quick way to look fuzz-free, try Parissa Mini Wax Strips for Eyebrow Design ($8.99). They're the simplest, mess-less, quickest way to clean up your brows in no time flat. Plus, they come with an easy-to-follow guide for face shapes to make brow waxing a snap. Look for them at Target, Duane Reade, Whole Foods, Wild Oats, Ulta and online at parissa.com and myperfectbeauty.com. While you're shopping, check out the entire Parissa collection and dare to go bare elsewhere too.

Monday, December 28, 2009

holiday looks: the updo

Running from work to holiday party with no time to spare? Forego the blow-dry and spend $3.99 on the Goody Ouchless Updo Barrette at your local drug store. Available in large or small sizes, this soft, flexible clip gently grips your hair for long-lasting style and comfort. The no-metal hinge and clasp design eliminates hair breakage and the soft plastic means you can lean back and relax. Just gather hair in back, twist it in your hand then wrap it into a loose bun at the back of your head. Clip into place and let front strands hang loose. Now you're ready to party. Go to
www.goody.com and pick your favorite clip.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

holiday gift guide: the Yidishkeyt tales

Just because Chanukah is over, doesn't mean you can't get your kids this adorable story, The Yidishkeyt Tales: Moishe's Story ($16.99). Written by Erin Verkhovsky Finelli, the book is dedicated to her great grandparents and all other immigrants who journeyed from Kobrin, Russian Empire to New York. It features authentic historical photos and tells the tale of how they met in a lighthearted poem that rhymes Yiddish words (don't worry, there's a glossary in the back if you can't get the gist from the context). Your kids will definitely learn a bit of the lost language, which is a nice change after they spend hours with Dora and Kai-Lan. The story is very kheynevdik (cute) and Finelli's fammily should shep nachas (derive pleasure) from her efforts. Buy it for your kids at www.amazon.com.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

holiday gift guide: give annabel karmel

Uggh! I start getting frustrated every day at about 4 PM. That's about the time I have to start thinking about making dinner for the family. All four of us! What happened to the good 'ol days when single-girl-me could go to the movies and count my small portion of popcorn sans butter as my dinner allotment. Now not a day goes by without four tiny eyes staring up at me saying, "I'm hungry. Is dinner ready yet??!" The worst part is, I feel like I know how to whip up a few basics and I stick to them since I don't have much time to start creating new dishes. Thankfully, leading nutritionist and children's book author Annabel Karmel comes through with the book, Favorite Family Meals, and there are enough pages to feed my kids (and husband!) for at least a few months. Not only does she offer delicious easy-to-make recipes--everything from soups and pizzas, to vegetarian dishes and desserts--but she also features plenty of tips, like preventing tooth decay, offering healthy protein suggestions, encouraging weight maintenance in kids and lunch box ideas (there's also a Lunch Boxes and Snacks book too!) Find both, as well as Karmel's other great titles at www.annabelkarmel.com.

Monday, December 21, 2009

holiday gift guide: give Lipstick. Laptops. Life.

The holidays are about inspiration. We are embarking on a new year and are hopefully inspired to have a great one. If you're lacking in that department, pick up a copy of Angela O'Mara's recently released, "Lipstick. Laptops. Life." In it the successful public relations firm owner talks about her struggles to keep her business thriving through a turbulent economy and reveals how she found parts of herself that were lost along her journey of more than twenty years in business. Throughout the pages, readers will learn a valuable lesson: That they may need to climb the corporate ladder more than once. This is way too apparent for many of us who are going through similarly difficult times in our careers and lives due to the current state of the economy. To give yourself an inspirational gift, or buy one for a friend, go to www.lipsticklaptopslife.com or check out www.amazon.com or www.barnesandnoble.com.

Friday, December 18, 2009

holiday gift guide: give peter lamas

As the new year approaches, women everywhere are renewing their vows to be thin. But the one thing they don't want is thin hair. That's why the Peter Lamas Chinese Herbs Regenerating System Promoting Healthy Hair Growth makes a great holiday gift, especially for new moms and moms-to-be who are going through dramatic changes in their hair density and texture. And all the products are 100% natural and vegan, so breastfeeding moms don't have to worry about harmful chemicals. The kit includes a Stimulating Shampoo, Stimulating Conditioner, Revitalizing Nutrient Mist and Revitalizing Styling Cream. The combination is designed to stimulate and energize weak hair and scalps. Check out www.lamasbeauty.com for more info.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

holiday gift guide: give baggino

The perfect gift for new moms or their babies: Baggino Learner's Bibs. When my kids were little, I often wondered why all the cute bibs were tiny and the bigger ones were harder to find. Designed by a Mom and Dad duo after numerous messy meals with an aspiring self-feeder, Baggino Learner’s Bibs ($15) feature long sleeves and an extra-long front so it will protect even the most special baby clothing your little one might have on. They're totally cute--they come in bright pink with adorable designs like a sweet cupcake, peace sign or circle motif--and they even double as an art smock. Talk about the ultimate cover-up! Go to www.baggino.com to order.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

holiday gift guide: give Zia

Ease the stress of travel and ensure they have extra room in their luggage. The perfect gift for those on the go: Zia Natural Skincare’s Holiday Travel sets ($19.95 each). What's inside: Five skin care treatments that work specifically for dry, normal and oily skin. Each collection contains a daily cleanser, toner, exfoliant, moisturizer, and facial mask to target all facial needs. The best part: The kits are TSA-compatible so they won't cause hassles at the gate. Shop for these handy little totes at www.ZiaNatural.com and Whole Food Markets nationwide. And while you're at it: Pick up a couple for yourself so you can breathe easier when traveling home to family to drop off the rest of them.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

holiday gift guide: give Gift Hero

It's 11 PM on December 21st and you still haven't finished shopping for the kids' gifts. Use the next hour wisely: Go to www.gifthero.com, check off the rest of the items on your list and your kids will get them in time for Christmas Eve. Gift Hero offers a vast selection of toys, games and puzzles for kids ages 2-10 at your fingertips. In addition, if you're traveling for the holidays, the company will ship your gifts for you. No extra baggage required. The best part: How cute is the bag they come in? So here's the deal: Procrastination is so 2009. Click on www.gifthero.com now and start shopping!

Monday, December 14, 2009

holiday gift guide: give soft hugwear

If winter is anything like the weather has been in NYC recently, this Soft Hugwear Winter Essentials set ($15) will surely come in handy. It was freeeeezing cold with wintry winds and shivering temps (for NYC anyway). Thankfully, I had the perfect winter accessories at my fingertips--a cozy scarf, hat and gloves--and was sure to put them on before heading outdoors. The fabric is, true to its name, hugable--and super soft. I tried the berry colored hat and gloves and the scarf in a light pink, deep pink and berry stripe. But they come in other colors so you can choose your favorite hue. Sure, it's a great stocking stuffer and all that--but I'm keeping this gift for myself. Available at select Wal-Mart locations nationwide and at www.walmart.com.

Friday, December 11, 2009

holiday gift guide: give Splendid Littles

Who doesn't want to have the best-dressed kid on the block? There are so many cute clothing companies out there so when a celebrity--who can splurge on practically anything--chooses one over the others, we want to see what's so special about it. Nicole Richie has been dressing her kids, Harlow and Sparrow, in Splendid Littles and was recently photographed with her family, including Sparrow wearing a Splendid Littles striped onesie. Turns out the clothing brand offers lots of adorable options when it comes to baby clothing, including the three-piece thermal romper set shown here ($99). There are cute tiered dresses and leggings and tunics for toddler girls, plus long-sleeve fleeces and hoodies for toddler boys. Replenish your kids' wardrobes or shop for yourself (think cozy leggings, thermal henley tops and pjs too). Buy all your holiday baby gifts at

Thursday, December 10, 2009

holiday gift guide: give Redken

There are tons of gift sets out there for women but what about the men in your life? Don't they deserve something just as special? Redken saves the day with two great grooming kits. The Grooming Essentials Gift Set ($21; pictured here) is the all in one kit designed to gently cleanse hair and skin. It includes Redken For Men go clean daily care shampoo to hydrate the scalp, and strengthen the hair, grip tight holding gel that provides excellent control and shine without flaking when styling hair, and cleanse acid balancing cleansing bar to gently cleanse, smooth and refresh the skin. Or pick up the Mint Essentials Travel Kit ($12.50) for all his travel needs. The four products from the Redken For Men Mint Active Line all come in travel sizes that are airport security friendly: mint clean shampoo, cool finish conditioner, mint fix sweat-resist gel, and new mint rush hair & body wash. There's also a sample packet of mint shape forming paste to keep his style in place. Visit www.redken.com to locate a Redken For Men salon in your area.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

holiday gift guide: give ACE

It's easy to get wrapped up in holiday shopping for the kids but don't forget your significant other. If he's anything like mine, he won't want anything excessive and won't be happy with something he doesn't really need, like the ACE Dual Action Trimmer ($21.99). Not only will it keep his face smooth and groomed, but it also features a two-sided trim system with a rotating head for nose and ear hair and a reciprocating head for sideburns, facial and neck hair. Granted, you may not need or want to know all these details of your husband's private grooming routine but he'll be impressed. Find it at www.amazon.com or www.drugstore.com. get more info at www.AceForMen.com.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

holiday gift guide: give kiss

Tweens are always difficult to buy holiday gifts for--one day one thing is cool, the next day it's SO five minutes ago! With Holiday Party Kits from Pink by Kiss ($7.99), you won't have to worry about whether or not you're hitting the mark. Most tweens love to dress up and get creative--but while most already own several trendy dresses and all the necessary accoutrements, now they can get cool, unique, acrylic nails too and do their own manicures at home. Holiday Party Kits come with 60 press-on nails that fit snugly on small fingers including 20 design nails, and 40 solid nails in order to mix and match and wear on more than one occasion. All they have to do is find the right sizes and press in place . For more info, go to www.kissusa.com or head to your nearest Rite Aid store before January 1st to stock up.

Monday, December 7, 2009

holiday gift guide: give Weleda

Every mom needs a little R&R now and then (actually more now, than then). But with little time to slip away, we have to make do with the resources at our disposal.
The new Pomegranate Regenerating Body Care Kit from Weleda offers the perfect escape, even in the comfort of your own bathroom. Why pomegranate? Says Weleda's European holistic esthetician Lilith Schwertle, “As we age, our skin’s own rebuilding functions begin to slow. The active ingredients in pomegranate seed oil, including fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants, help encourage your skin’s natural regeneration process.”
The kit contains hand cream, body oil and body wash.
Hand Care: It does everything a good hand cream should do--ie, moisturizes skin and makes hands look more youthful--but it smells amazing too! Thanks to those Turkey-grown pomegranates. It's recommended to be used twice daily for four weeks to prevent roughness, but I definitely felt a difference after only three applications.
Body Oil: I typically prefer macadamia nuts that are chocolate covered but those blended into this innovative formula are just as sweet. Apply twice daily to preserve skin's elasticity and firmness. Don't forget your neck and decollete area.
Body Wash: Use it with a loofah in the bath or shower to exfoliate dead skin cells and leave your skin glowing. While you're lathering up, vanilla, sandalwood, blood orange and neroli make it a rejuvenating aromatherapy experience.
Go to Whole Foods or www.usa.weleda.com and stock up on this great stocking stuffer for yourself and your other mom friends.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

holiday gift guide: give Tiny Tillia

I have tons of toys for my kids to play with in the bath. But what they love most--even more than the wash-off bath crayons that don't always wash off so well!--is squirting soap or shampoo on their hands and lathering up. So when I find kid-friendly bath products, I'm hooked. Tiny Tillia products are not only safe to use and gentle on the skin, they're entertaining too. Now you can buy a pre-made gift bucket and share the fun with friends. It includes a bath mitt featuring a fun Tiny Tillia character (choose from Ben Giraffe, Indy Sheep, TT Cow or Duncan Dog--pictured here), a waterproof character story book, bubble bath, foamy wash and an adorable bucket that you can use afterward to store toys or take to the sandbox. Created by London-born designer Tiffany Lerman, daughter of novelist Jackie Collins, Tiny Tillia is available at select specialty boutiques (such as Fred Segal, Lisa Kline Kids and Kitson), nationwide at Target and online at www.shoptillia.com.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

holiday gift guide: give kiddimoto

How cute is this? Available in baby blue and seafoam green too, the new Scooter ($169.99) by Kiddimoto is every two- to six-year-old kid's dream holiday gift. (The Chopper comes in a black and silver combo).

I remember wearing my favorite white flared jeans when learning to ride a bike, and getting the extra fabric from one pant leg caught in the chain. Kids today have nothing of the sort to fear. Kiddimoto's Scooters, made from renewable birch plywood, have no pedals, chains or gears to get hurt on. And their unique build makes them ideal for kids to learn balance and steering and improve their motor skills.

Check out the entire collection of Kiddimotos at www.kiddimotousa.com.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

holiday gift guide: give tech toys

If you're not a techie at heart but want to give your kids the latest innovations around, let Skype Resident Tech Expert Jamie Sorcher do your holiday shopping for you. I love his picks for tech toys under $50...

Freetalk BuddyCam for Skype ($19.99)

We've tried video cams that you hook up to your computer and haven't found one that works well. So if you don't want to deal with voice delay or unclear imaging, try Skype's free video calling. It's a great way for kids to say hello to grandma all year-round.


Zhu Zhu high-tech pet hamster ($10)

There's no way our kids are getting a dog, not at this stage at least! A great alternative: Furry interactive hamsters that react to your touch, coo and purr. Stock up on triple-A batteries too while you're at it! http://zhuzhupets.com/main.html

Leapfrog Tag ($49.99)

The Tag Reading System revolutionizes the reading experience for children ages 4 to 8 by bringing storybooks to life. My son used it from age 2 to 2.5 when he started reading on his own. I'm sure it helped him learn to read at such a young age. And my daughter loves the Tag Junior--she just turned two! Definitely worth the investment... http://www.leapfrog.com/en/shop/tag_library.html

Targus Sport Netbook Case, the CVR215 ($25).

Planning on leaving home for the holidays? Designed for an on-the-go user, this netbook case from Targus is perfect for carrying just the essentials. And these days there are a lot of them!


Griffin Technology’s Volume-Limiting Headphones for kids ($40).

Want to have some adult talk during the long family car ride home? MyPhones are safe, comfortable, and customizable over-the-ear headphones geared towards children ages 3 to 12. The volume doesn't get higher than what's recommended by auditory health organizations. And your kids can personalize them with their own unique designs. Check out http://www.griffintechnology.com/products/myphones

And don’t forget, that with Coupons.com, you can take advantage of various virtual clippings, right at your fingertips!


holiday gift guide: give mini social

Need a great kid's gift but don't know where to turn? Theminisocial.com has quite a selection--and they're all pretty unique items. Founders and children's shopping experts Dominque MacPherson and Melinda Marinack share some budget-friendly gifts for all the kids on your list. For under $25: Hair clips from Giddy Giddy ($5), Wooden Animalz ($4) and Jazzy Toes Socks ($12.50). For under $99: Babush Slippers from Zid Zid ($40), Dante Beatrix Backpacks (dinosaur, $42). If you want to splurge, check out these find for over $100: Custom Prints from Ida Pearle ($158), Bla Bla Giant Dolls ($130--shown here) and Chaiken Mommy Bags ($240). Go to www.theminisocial.com now to place your order.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

gift-a-day holiday gift guide

check out kidandcaboodle's
holiday gift guide,
featuring a gift idea every day
for the month of


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

november braininsights winner

Congratulations to Cherie W--the winner of the kidandcaboodle/braininsights November giveaway contest. We loved her story about telling stories to her granddaughter so we're sending her a braininsights free gift set for newborn- to three-year-olds featuring fun activities she can do with her kids to promote brain development. Look for another great giveaway coming soon!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Cherie's story:
"My granddaughter who is 4 now is one of the best story tellers. Ever since she has been a baby I have told her stories. We attend the YMCA and after swimming we always take a shower. During the shower, is when I tell the story. Her favorite has always been "The Three Little Pigs". She has down the voice inflections for the wolf and for the 3 pigs. Because of her interest, she was in a Children's Pageant "New Star Discovery". This year they had a talent show. We debated what we should have her do. We chose for her to tell "The Three Pigs" story and act it out with props. She competed against 0-10 yr old. Others had singing, dancing, karate,and piano playing as their talents. My granddaughter took Supreme Title #1 winner of this talent show. I have never been so proud of her in my whole life as I was at that point in time. You see, storytelling does pay off. I now have a 14 month old and another on the way. I will continue my storytelling with them also!"

Sunday, November 22, 2009

clothes for kids: rollingrack.net

All of us with young kids can relate: Our child gets an outfit as a gift and it sits in his/her closet until one day we remember it's there and suddenly realize he/she's outgrown it. Or, we just buy too many adorable dresses in size 12-18 months! How many can one kid wear? Newsflash: There are plenty of kids who could use all of those unworn items and the Rolling Rock Fashion and Apparel Group has found a way to get them to them.

A collective of talent dedicated to the Fashion Industry and the people who make it happen, the organization's screened members include couture designers, high-level company executives, retail designers, buyers, merchandisers, public relations professionals, photographers, make-up artists and others. Rolling Rack members represent the fashion spectrum from Armani, Estee Lauder, Benneton, Lacoste, Guess, Puma, Nike, Calvin Klein, La Perla, Lloyd Klein Couture, Girbaud, Levi's and everyone in between.

Last year, Rolling Rack, along with Marc Ecko, Russell Corp and Kate Quinn Organics generously donated over $1200 of brand new clothing to the students of Port Monmouth Road Elementary School in Keansburg, NJ. The school staff raffled off beautiful clothing gift baskets. The winners of the baskets took home hundreds of dollars of new clothing and the school raised over $500 for their student activity fund and to purchase new children's books. "It broke my heart when a first grader came up to me and she was so proud of her new winter coat; I knew her parents had gotten it from the local charity," says Founder/President Gary Montgomery.

This year the urgent need continues. Montgomery was contacted by another elementary school in North Carolina where 90% of the children cannot afford a daily lunch and many of them are proud of their second hand clothing purchased from charity shops.

If you'd like to help these children, most of whom live under the poverty level, you can do so through Rolling Rack's/Meet The Fashion Press's combined effort, the Threads of Gold program. You can donate brand new children's clothing, or make a donation. Go to www.rollingrack.net or email gary@rollingrack.net with questions or to give now.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

just one more week to enter the braininsights giveaway contest!!

You have the chance to win the easiest and real way to support your baby's brain development! Do you want to win a free gift set of the beautiful and unique braininsights packets for newborn to three-year-olds? All you do is, sign up to be a follower of kidandcaboodle and add a comment to the braininsights post about a fun, interactive activity you do with your child! (include your email address so I can contact you). Then post the link to your kidandcaboodle comment on another social networking site. You will get a chance to win the set and you will be contributing to creating greater awareness of real brain development! A winner will be chosen at random on November 24th...it may be you! By signing up for the kidandcaboodle site, you will get updates on the giveaway, lots of ongoing parenting information and you'll also get to see all the shared ideas from other parents! So sign up now....and enter as many times as you'd like. Just make sure you post the link on a social networking site each time! Also, watch for the three- to five-year-old gift set contest coming soon!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

a better bedtime: pajama program

At our house, there's always a fight over which pajamas the kids want to wear. My son scams for Spiderman, my daughter prefers polka dots. But there are some kids out there who have never had a cozy pair of PJ's to wear to sleep at night. Thankfully, the Pajama Program delivers. The organization, started by Genevieve (Gen) Piturro in 2001, has provided almost 600,000 new pajamas and new books to children in need.

Thousands of children served by Pajama Program live in orphanages, group homes and shelters. In the U.S. foster care system, alone, there are more than 500,000 children. Every two seconds another child enters the system. Many have been abandoned or abused, and have never enjoyed the simple comfort of putting on a cozy pair of pajamas and having a mother or father tuck them in at bedtime and read to them. Teens in the system have often spent most of their childhood without warm sleepwear or the chance to read themselves to sleep. For its 2009-2010 awareness and fundraising campaign, the Pajama Program launches "A Better Bedtime." Says Piturro , "So many of us take this nighttime ritual for granted, yet hundreds of thousands of America’s kids have never experienced these basic comfort. Every child should have the chance to experience A BETTER BEDTIME.”

At the Official Pajama Program A Better Bedtime Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/abetterbedtime — visitors are encouraged to share their favorite bedtime stories (from published or original works) on the group’s Wall and Discussion Boards in the Fan Box, to offer memories of their own childhood bedtime routines, to upload photos of their favorite pair of pajamas, and to share ideas, stories and photos from their own local events that support Pajama Program.

To learn about local chapters of Pajama Program and to participate in events, visit http://www.pajamaprogram.org/chapters.html.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

save your skin

You've got kids and they wear you out. But they wear out your skin too. Suddenly, you have dry skin from running around outside, dry knees from constantly kneeling down to their level and dry hands from washing dishes and giving baths. Thankfully, Jergens has an answer to these skin care problems. New Jergens Sensitive Skin Relief Daily Moisturizer ($5.99) is fragrance-free, hypo-allergenic, and dermatologist tested, plus it's designed to instantly soothe and protect dry, sensitive skin for 36 hours. It's fast-absorbing and super-hydrating so you can apply it and get on with your day (they know we've got lots of other things to do!). Since it's made for sensitive skin, it's even gentle enough to use on the kids--so it's definitely a staple to have in the house. Learn more about this moisturizer or some of the other great Jergens products at www.jergens.com. Or try it yourself at a food, drug or mass retailer in your neighborhood.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

travel essentials for the home

Here's why I like this product. Sure, it makes your airline seat more comfortable. But I'm a stay-at-home mom and probably not flying anywhere anytime soon. Instead, I plan on using it at home. For example, my daughter wakes up at 5AM. After I take her out of her crib and cuddle her, she usually falls asleep on the couch next to me and I end up sleeping sitting up for another 45 minutes before she wakes up for the day. Soft Hugwear's Travel Essentials Set ($20) can help. I'd put the mask over my eyes to block out the rising sun outside the living room window, lean back on the comfy neck pillow and throw the mini blanket over my lap. The neck pillow would also come in handy when I'm reading a book to her before bed and she falls asleep before I finish but I still have to sit still for a few minutes until she's really zonked out. The ear plugs will likely be a lifesaver when my son decides to play all three of his bongo drums at the same time (trust me, it happens). The Soft Hugwear collection is priced between $3 and $29 and is available exclusively at Walmart locations nationwide and online at http://www.walmart.com/. Stock up now!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

a modern classic: little red hoodie

We all know and love the classic tale of Little Red Riding Hood. Writer Adrianna Kruse and illustrator Patricia Kruse give the famous tale a 21st century twist. Little Red Hoodie is a tech-savvy young girl and the Big Bad Wolf is a not-so-ordinary granny who rides motorcycles and takes karate. You can imagine where the story goes from there. My kids are 3.5 and 2 and a bit young for the message but their interactive internet days are fast approaching--and it totally makes me nervous.

"I, like many other people, have been continually horrified by stories of tragedies caused by social networking sites," says Adrianna Kruse. "One day while watching a talk show that focused on a young girl who was kidnapped by a person who she met online, I thought of the parallel between online predators and the Big Bad Wolf in the Little Red Riding Hood story. I have always been a collector and lover of children's literature, and it felt like a natural fit to turn my idea into a book. The biggest challenge in writing Little Red Hoodie was getting the serious message of the story across while maintaining a light-hearted and humorous feeling that would appeal to kids."

While it makes a great read, Little Red Hoodie is also a catalyst for parents to discuss safe internet practices with their kids. "I hope that this book can initiate a conversation about Internet safety among families, and that it will inspire kids to think twice about how much they really know about the person on the other end of the computer."

Kruse even adds some important safety rules at the end of the story, including the priceless, "When in doubt, log out!" Listed at $13.99, Little Red Hoodie is now available on www.amazon.com for $10.07, which means there's no excuse not to buy it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

picture perfect: ABC Art for Kids

Some people count sheep when they can't sleep. Annette Back comes up with innovative new business ideas.

"One night when we were staying with friends at the Jersey Shore, I couldn't sleep," she says. "I had a son Aaron--he was two at the time. And I just saw it in my head: Some sort of artwork featuring Aaron's picture along with other objects that start with the same letter as his name (ie: apple, alligator, airplane). It would work for other names, letters and objects in the same manner. When we got home from the shore, I got to work. That's how ABC Art for Kids got started."

"Since I am a graphic designer, I knew where to look for the art. I found just the right illustration style, had the perfect photo and designed my first piece.
Finding the right output for this took a lot of research. I settled on producing the idea on canvas. When it arrived at my house, Aaron and I thought it was gorgeous! I created a few more as gifts for my friends' kids. Everyone loved it. I was encouraged to start selling so I went to work designing a website."

Annette's creations aren't gimmicky and don't try to hard to be classy. They're beautiful, fun and engaging--definitely a labor of love. I hope to get one for each of my kids soon. They will definitely be an improvement from all the homemade "art" on their walls!

"I started this business to get the art out. I did not like any personalized art out there (with a few exceptions) everything else was so cutesy and soft, monotone and predictable. I thought this was fun and alive."

Her kids Aaron (4.5 years) and twins Joshua and Sara (age 1.5) don't leave her much time to work on the business but they are a sure source of inspiration. Says Annette, "Their faces are so super yummy; as I imagine every parent feels that way about their kids."

Annette is currently working on a new concept for parents and grandparents that features headshots of their kids on a themed background (ie: "beach" for a summer house or "food" for the kitchen, etc.) as well as more sophisticated options for older kids. She also creates customized canvases to suit each individual's style and taste. Email her at abc@abcartforkids.com with your ideas or go to www.abcartforkids.com to start your personalized art collection now. Enter code "2010" and take advantage of a special holiday promotion.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

november giveaway: win a braininsights packet with cool activity ideas to do with your kids

Exciting announcement for you and your baby!

You have the chance to win the easiest and real way to support your baby's brain development! Do you want to win a free gift set of the beautiful and unique braininsights packets for newborn to three-year-olds? All you do is, sign up to be a follower of kidandcaboodle and add a comment to the braininsights post about a fun, interactive activity you do with your child! (include your email address so I can contact you). Then post the link to your kidandcaboodle comment on another social networking site. You will get a chance to win the set and you will be contributing to creating greater awareness of real brain development! A winner will be chosen at random at the end of the month...it may be you! By signing up for the kidandcaboodle site, you will get updates on the giveaway, lots of ongoing parenting information and you'll also get to see all the shared ideas from other parents!

So sign up now....and enter as many times as you'd like. Just make sure you post the link on a social networking site each time! Also, watch for the three- to five-year-old gift set contest coming soon!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

brain insights: what every parent should know

I came across braininsights on LinkedIn and I was immediately hooked. This is something every parent should know about and practice.

Deborah McNelis is the creator/owner of braininsights, a presenter, and a brain development specialist. Her training comes from her degrees in Early Childhood Education and Adult Education and her experiences as a preschool and kindergarten teacher, an instructor for an Early Childhood Associate degree program, a brain development specialist, and coordinating a family literacy program. So basically, when it comes to brain development, she knows what she's talking about!

Her product consists of packs of cards, bound together on a ring, that offer activities to do with your child geared to his/her particular stage of life with an explanation of how these activities aid in brain development. Choose from Love Your Baby: Making Connections in the First Year, Fun While I'm One, More To Do While I'm Two, Play with Me While I'm Three and Let's Learn More While I'm Four (Help Me Thrive While I'm Five will be out soon!)

My daughter, Ava, turned two on Sunday so I tried some of these activities with her: Squeezing water out of squirt bottles into the bathtub (uses hands, muscles and brain connections to prepare for writing and drawing), creating an obstacle course for her to crawl through (gets her thinking through challenges to figure out solutions) and hiding objects in a box and letting her tell me which are missing (builds new brain connections and helps organize them). They sound so simple! But I don't seem to have time in a busy day to remember these fun little games so having the card deck in front of me is so helpful. Every time I have a few minutes to spare, I grab the deck and flip to a page and get her involved. She loves every minute! You can even do some of them while grocery shopping or doing the laundry; they help make the most mundane chores a fun, interactive learning experience.

Here, some more brain development tips from McNelis: Ninety percent of your child’s brain develops primarily from experiences in the first five years. Isn’t it wonderful to know that you can have the most valuable impact on brain growth through loving interaction and play?

The following is information your child wants you know and use everyday:

Provide different (safe) things for me to see, hear, touch, taste, and smell. I learn a lot when I get to use all of my senses.
~ Learning happens when playing with real things. Television, videos and workbooks do not provide the best way for my brain to learn

I need to know you consistently are there for me when I am frustrated, scared, sad, excited, etc.
~ My brain is not developed enough to control my emotions. Giving me comfort when I need it will help reduce the stress and insecurity that is not good for my brain.

Develop daily routines for my meals, naps, bath, and bedtime.
~ If my life is too chaotic it is very confusing. Knowing what is going to happen next is comforting And helps organize my brain.

When I am in an active mood just have fun with me. Do piggy back rides, roll around on the bed, tickle me, crawl after me on the floor, dance to music, etc.
~ Physical play increases oxygen to my brain. It also improves the connections to my muscles for developing increased skills.

Talk to me, read to me, sing, do nursery rhymes, tell me stories. Have “conversations” directly with me even before I can talk.
~ My brain makes connections through repeated experiences. You are my favorite “toy”!

Check out McNelis' blog, braininsights.blogspot.com for regular updates.

Monday, October 26, 2009

clip tip

Trying to find a way to cart your kid's sippy cups, playground toys, change of clothes and snacks while balancing your Starbuck's latte and talking on your cellphone can be challenging. Time to get Baggino's Duo Clip ($4.50) and give your hands a break. The two tiny straps hook onto your stroller bar, allowing you to keep gear, toys and other necessities neat and organized. You can clip toys and snack traps right onto the hooks or clip on a basket to store them all in. The best part is that they won't snap and break like some of the plastic versions (believe me--I've bought my share of those!) Duo Clip comes in pink or blue. Get one at http://www.baggino.com/ and be hands-free (well, except for your latte!)

Monday, October 19, 2009

backpacks get personal

You can put your personal stamp on everything these days--so why not backpacks? Oakley lets your kids get creative and design their own. They're more fun than traditional styles and you can avoid inadvertent mixups since you're guaranteed no other kid will have the same one. Here's how it works: For the Rework Pack ($90), kids choose from nine different colors when designing their bags, from the main color, contrast color, trim, and webbing, to the logo and zipper tape. For the Hardshell Pack ($170-$190), choose from a black or khaki base and eight different designs to cover the side panels. Sure, you can buy them for less at Payless, but if your kid doesn't like Spiderman or the Transformers, you're outta luck. Set your kids up on www.oakley.com so they can create their own personal designs now.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

a kid in a castle

Sure, there's Disneyworld. But why take your kids to Cinderella's castle when they can sleep in a real one? Ireland's Dromoland Castle and Castlemartyr Resort not only offer a true castle experience but design their itineraries with kids in mind.

While parents enjoy an authentic Irish breakfast or a pint of Guinness at the bar (it's OK to indulge, you're on vacation!), kids can try archery, falconry, horseback riding, fishing, tennis, clay shooting, nature walks, duck feeding and the castles themselves. Where else can they play hide and seek in the forests and gardens or spend hours in the Kids' Zone, or play fetch with resident Irish Setters Earl and Countess?

Once they've worked up an appetite, they can enjoy a children's menu or snacks from the in-room dining menu while watching a movie with the family. Special treats also await at check-in and turn-down: lollipops, cookies and warm milk, and teddy bears (a special teddy bear picnic can be arranged).

Nearby you'll find a wildlife park, beaches, Europe’s largest indoor activity center for kids and a go-cart circuit. Yet other family-friendly outings are easily arranged by the resorts’ knowledgeable and enthusiastic concierges; ie: day sailing on the Celtic Sea and shopping in historic-yet-vibrant nearby towns. Go to
www.dromolandcollection.ie. or www.castlemartyrresort.ie to book your stay; your kids will be treated like royalty.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

traveling with tots

If you have to stay in Brooklyn, check into the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge. (It's just over the bridge from Manhattan so it's a great spot to unpack in if you are planning a trip to the city too). In addition to getting all of the basic amenities you get at any Marriott hotel (think clean, comfortable rooms, dependable service, and attention to detail), you'll find it's a great place to escape to with kids. We took Harrison, age 3, and Ava, 20 months, with us for the weekend. The hotel happily provided extra beds and linens, including fluffy pillows and down comforters. You'll love the cityscape and bridge views looming before you; your kids will love the HDTV and selection of Pay-Per-View movies. You can request an in-room fridge to store their favorite foods and snacks. The best thing about the hotel for kids is the lap pool, designed for adults but very amenable to kids who want to splash around a bit. The lifeguard closed a lane for us and some other mini swimmers each time we went down for a dip! Walk a few blocks to visit the New York Transit Museum where kids will love trekking through old train cars and going through the different turnstiles that have been in operation over the years. If you really need a break, leave the kids at home and take advantage of the hotel's romance package ($379 through December 31st; champagne and chocolate covered strawberries included). Go to www.marriott.com and search for the Brooklyn Bridge destination to make your reservations.