Author Archives: Parents@Play Team

Reading up on Summer

We all know about the dreaded “summer brain drain,” when students forget a lot of what they learned during the previous school year and have to spend the first few months of the new year catching up. You can help your kids turn that brain drain into a brain gain by encouraging reading over the summer. Here are some recent books that will not only capture children’s attention, but also encourage them to read even more.

Weird but True USA (National Geographic Kids)

weird but trueThis fascinating book contains 300 unusual facts about the states that make up the USA. For example, California scientists modeled a solar cell after a fly’s eye, Jell-O is the official state snack of Utah, and Nutty Narrows Bridge in Longview, Washington was built to squirrels can safely cross a busy road. Ages 8-12. Under $7.

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Something(s) for the Little Ones

Little kids learn just about everything there is to know about their world through play. So it’s no wonder that there’s a dazzling array of games, toys, and other activities for even the smallest children (even though they’re quite often more interested in the box something came in than whatever was inside.) Here are a few great options for infants and toddlers.

My First Yoga Mat (KD Kids)

first yoga matYoga is great for exercise, concentration, coordination, balance, body awareness, relaxation, and just plain fun. My First Yoga Mat helps in all those areas. BitsyBot, the computerized teacher who’s built into the mat itself, gives directions and challenges (such as “can you touch my hand and press my head?”) in several game modes, including identifying body parts and step-by-step instruction in seven basic yoga poses. BitsyBot is also bilingual—just flip a switch and you can do it all in Spanish. For ages 24 months through six years. About $50.
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Coconut Bay, St. Lucia

No matter what kind of vacation you’re looking for—whether it’s a family trip, a romantic couples’ retreat, a weekend getaway with friends, or anything else—you can find what you are looking for on the diverse island of St. Lucia.

Coconut Bay is located near the airport (in fact, just five minutes away), so you won’t have a long trek to your room once you arrive. That’s never a welcome surprise, is it? Once there, you’ll be greeted by friendly staff with cool towels and cold drinks of your choice: water, rum punch, or champagne.

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Gifts for Dads

With Father’s Day right around the corner, here are some fun and funky gifts we’re sure those special dads in your life will love.


trücup Coffee

trucup low-acid coffeeWho doesn’t love a good cup of coffee? Well, a lot of people don’t, but those who do know that as we get older (aging like fine wines, of course) sometimes the acid or the caffeine can be less-than ideal. A low-acid brand like trücup (in either regular or decaf) can help with that problem, while leaving all the flavors and aromas. trücup’s low-acid options use a natural steam process to remove the things that can be harmful or painful for some people’s stomachs, like those who have acid reflux, GERD, IBS, or about a zillion other stomach issues. With bold or mild, espresso, and other choices, there’s at least one that’ll tickle Dad’s fancy. Visit to choose your dad’s favorite roast.

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Hit the Road, Baby

If you’ve got little ones, you know how much gear you need, whether you’re planning a walk around the block or a road trip. And it’s not just any gear, you’re always thinking about cost, size, durability, safety, ease of use, and more. Here are some solid options to consider—we’re confident that you’ll find them useful.


DualFit Harness-2-Booster seat (Britax)

britax dual fit harness seatOne of the first and most important things to decide on is a car seat. And this seat from Britax is a safe, solid, and reasonably priced option for when your baby outgrows his or her carrier “snap-and-go” seat. It easily transitions from a three-point harness seat (that accommodates kids from 25 – 65 pounds) to a booster (that goes up to 100 pounds), so the seat will grow right along with your child. According to the company, Britax’s “patented system of safety components work together to transfer energy away from your child and 2 layers of Side Impact Protection shield your child in the event of a crash.” With it’s easy-on and easy-off lower connectors that lock into place with a click and are released with the push of a button, installation (and removal) is a breeze. About $170. This one and many other are available at

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The Art of the Family

Doing art projects—regardless of your level of artistic talent—is one of the best ways we know to spend quality time with your family. Here are some of our current faves.

Paint Your Own Stepping Stone (Creative Roots)

paint your own stepping stoneIf you and/or your young child love gardening, this cute art kit lets you add a little personality and personalization to your outdoor tableau. The kit comes with a 7” ceramic stepping stone, six different paints, and a paintbrush. Just mix your colors, paint your stone, and, voila! Keep in mind, though, that you’re creating art here, and not an actual stone to be stepped on. For ages 5+. $7.99.

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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.

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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

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.

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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


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 or e-mail [email protected].

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.

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