Category Archives: Reviews

Moms on the Go

As active parents, we’re excited that warm weather has finally decided to visit us (and here’s hoping it stops raining for a few minutes so we can stay outdoors to enjoy it!). Now that Spring has sprung and Summer is on the way, here are a few of our favorites for moms on the go.

Save the Fishies Water Bottle (Sand Cloud)

save the fishies bottleSand Cloud, an environmentally aware company that donates 10% of its profits to #SaveTheFishes (to help protect and preserve marine life) offers a wide array of items that are sustainable, adorable, and environmentally friendly. From super useful items mom will love like reusable glass bottles with beautiful and fun designs on them to metal straws that you can take anywhere (avoid those unnecessary plastic ones), and from soft towels with lovely artwork to organic tees and tanks, and more. Prices vary. https://www.sandcloud.com


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Screen-Free Fun for Everyone

In our there’s-an-app-for-that world, where almost everything beeps, talks, or lights up, it’s sometimes hard to imagine that humans somehow managed to have fun for hundreds of years before electricity, batteries, and screens. Yet it’s true. And Screen-Free Week (April 29-May 5) is the perfect time to give your family a taste of the good old days. Here are some of our screen-free faves.  You’ll find more ideas at https://www.screenfree.org

Push (Ravensburger)

pushOne player lays out up to three piles of cards (which are both numbered and colored). Players then add cards to the stacks, but aren’t allowed to repeat a color or number that’s already in the stack. The more you add, the higher your potential points. But if you push your luck and get to a point where you can’t play a card, you start losing points. Scoring is a little complicated at first, but the game moves quickly and will keep everyone engaged. For 2-6 players, ages 8+. $12.99. https://www.ravensburger.us


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White Mountains of New Hampshire

Searching for an all-season vacation you can enjoy with the family? Look no further than the always-stunning White Mountains of New Hampshire. With endless outdoor fun at your fingertips, and unspoiled, natural beauty wherever you go, the hardest part of your vacation will be choosing what activities you have time for on this trip—and planning your return visit.

Waterville Valley Resort

Everyone needs a comfortable spot to put their head at night, and choosing your “home away from home” can be stressful. No matter what the reviews say, it’s always a crapshoot—you never really know what you’re going to get. But Waterville Valley Resort is exactly as advertised. The location itself is truly stunning. Nestled deep within the White Mountain National Forest, the Resort hosts a wide selection of on-the-property activities, where you can enjoy the fall foliage, winter wonderland, spring blooms, and summer splendor all from the mountain valley with jaw-dropping 360-degree views. Of course, you can always venture off property as well, but if you want to stay in one general spot and still have plenty to see and do, you won’t find a better base. In addition to the natural surroundings, the facility is comfortable (and clean), with plenty of amenities and multiple restaurants and stores within a stone’s throw from your room. Forgot or lost something? Always, right? No problem, as there’s someplace on the property that has exactly what you need. And there’s no price gouging, either, which is both refreshing and oh-so-rare. Bonus? The staff is amazing. Nice, friendly, accommodating, and really helpful. Apparently, they’re trained that way. Imagine that—putting guests’ experiences first. What a throwback, and a most welcome one.

waterville valley trailsWaterville Valley is a hiker’s paradise, with hundreds of miles of trails, ranging from a leisurely ramble along Corcoran Pond at the center of Town Square, an easy walk through the woods and wildflowers on the valley floor, or a more challenging hike up the 4,315-ft. summit of Mount Osceola, where you’ll find yourself surrounded by stunning views of 700,000 acres of national forest.

There’s also mountain biking and trail riding, including a very cool option that lets you take the chair lift to the top of Snow’s Mountain and ride your bike down. Don’t own a bike? You can rent one from the Adventure Center in Town Square. Other options include golf, tennis, swimming, the cultural center, tours, seasonal skiing, skating, and more.

waterville valley gymOh, and let’s not forget about the high-quality, well-appointed, on-site gym, which has everything you need, including an indoor swimming pool, whirlpools, saunas, weight rooms and cardiovascular room. Find out more at https://www.waterville.com

 

The Margret and H.A. Rey Center

curious george cottageThe creators of the Curious George books, H.A. and Margret Rey, lived in the area part time in the 1950s, and left their legacy, and many personal items and sketches, at the Margret and H.A Rey Center within the property. The Center hosts nature walks, writers’ workshops, discussion clubs, a monthly lecture series, art shows, and activities for children. We attended both a nature walk, where we looked in vain for owls, and heard a discussion about moon cycles given by a NASA volunteer. They also had an arts and crafts portion for children.

In addition to the Resort itself, the White Mountains area is well worth exploring. For more information, call 800-GO VALLEY or visit www.visitwatervillevalley.com or e-mail wvrecreation@watervillevalley.org.

Get Out!

Well, we’re already a month into Spring, and isn’t it about time you started taking advantage of all that extra daylight? Not sure what to do? We’ve got you covered. Just grab one of these great toys and you’re good to go.

Helix Power Swing (Yulu)

helix power swingIf you’ve ever dreamed of throwing a football (or anything else) up to 350 feet (which is a long, long way), now’s your chance. Just pull out the Helix’s retractable cord, swing it around, gradually building momentum, and let ‘er rip. And in the unlikely event that no one noticed, Helix makes a howling sound as it floats through the air in a perfect spiral. Ages 6+. About $20. http://playhelix.com


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Hoppin’ Toward Easter

It’s already April, and of course that means that for many, the Easter Bunny will soon be hopping his or her way into their houses with a basket of treats. Here are a few ideas to consider for your kids—or kids at heart.

BuddyPhones (BuddyPhones)

Are you tired of hearing your kid’s video games or other noisy electronics? Do we really need to hear every time their character gets a coin? And don’t we deserve some peace and quiet once and a while? Giving them a set of headphones may sound like a good solution, but research shows that 12.5% of 6-18-year-olds have hearing loss due to overly loud headphones. The solution? Volume-limiting BuddyPhones, which let kids keep their noises to themselves and protect those young eardrums. These fun looking, high-quality headphones come in a variety of popular colors and designs (including a unicorn model). They’re also water resistant and have a battery life of up to 24 hours. Got more than one kid? BuddyPhones offers their patented shared BuddyCable, lets two kids listen at the same time (though getting them agree to what to listen to is up to you). $70-$80. www.buddyphones.com
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Now for Something Non-Traditional

While there’s definitely nothing wrong with traditional games (especially newer ones that reimagine old favorites), we’re big fans of complete new games and those that completely transform the classics. Here are some of our current faves.

Mafia (Laurence King)

mafiaIn this beautifully designed game (and we’d expect nothing less from the folks at Laurence King), all you have to do is kill your friends. One player is the judge, and the others take on the role of civilians or ruthless gangsters. Then, it’s a fight to the death, as players try to figure out who’s an enemy and who’s a friend. There’s plenty of bluffing, intrigue, wild accusations, strategy, subterfuge, and, of course, murder. For 7-24 players. https://www.laurenceking.com/


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Not Bored Games

What is going on with the weather? It’s still cold is some places, hot in others, and wet everywhere else. But whatever the climate, having fun with your family is one of the best things you can do. Here are some of our current not-boring board games.

Banana Kick (Tactic)

banana kickImagine playing soccer with a football—suffice it to say that the ball won’t always end up where you intend it to. Now, imagine playing soccer with a large, soft, kickable banana—which is even harder than a football to reliably aim. That’s about it. You provide a nice field, Tactic Games provides the banana and four wooden stakes to use as goals. For two or more players, ages 6+. https://www.facebook.com/TacticGamesNorthAmerica/

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Soft and Snuggly

Soft and snuggly is what bedtime (and even just cuddle time) is all about. Here are some new cute critters that will make wonderful additions to your den, living room, and/or your child’s bedroom. Of course, they’re perfect for Easter and Passover, but they’re also great fun for the rest of the year.

Petsies (Petsies)

petsiesIf you have pets, your family will love Petsies, which let you and your kids custom design a stuffed animal to look just like your real-life furry family member. Just send in a photo of your pet and choose from a wide selection of colors, ear types, tails, and even tongues, and a plush version of your pet will arrive at your door in about six weeks. In the meantime, the Petsies Design Team will send you regular updates, with photos of the entire design and sewing process of plushifying your pet. The likenesses are amazing. Get yours at https://www.mypetsies.com


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Go Figure

Whether your child likes dolls, trolls, dinosaurs, or more traditional pets like birds and dogs, we’ve got a figure for you.

Rescue Runts (KD Kids)

rescue runtWhen you first unbox them, Rescue Runts aren’t much to look at. They’re scruffy, unkempt, have bandages, fleas, and tears in their eyes. But each pet comes with a brush to smooth out that unruly fur and tweezers to de-flea. By the time you’ve removed the bandage, wiped away the tears, and finished the makeover, your new pet will be ready to love—and to love you right back. Available in various breeds (Shepherd, Husky, Spotty, and Spaniel, with more to be released soon), and sizes. Ages 3+. Prices vary. https://rescuerunts.com/us

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Ha, Ha, Made You Think…

With little kids, it’s easy to combine education and fun. But once they hit the advanced age of five or so, a lot of kids see the educational component a mile away and rebel. Fortunately, game designers have figured out many clever ways to slip in some (and in many cases, a lot of) serious business learning, without sacrificing the all-important fun factor. Here are some recent games that caught our attention.

Thrill Rides Clock Work (K’NEX)

knex thrill rides clock workIn addition to being fun to ride on, roller coasters are gigantic examples of physics and engineering in action. There’s gravity, centrifugal force, various types of energy, friction, drag, acceleration, and more. This 300+ piece kit lets you teach (and learn) all those lessons right in your own home. It comes with a battery-powered motor (but batteries aren’t included) and an easy-to follow instruction manual that will lead you through building a coaster of your very own that’s more than two feet tall. Thrill Rides kits are also compatible with each other, so you can build even bigger models. K’NEX pieces are made in the USA in a landfill-free, zero-waste manufacturing facility. For ages 7+. $$34.95. https://www.knex.com


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