Cool Dog and Puppy Products for Travel

If you are planning to take your pet dog or puppy on a road trip or even in the car for just a short time, you might be surprised at all the interesting and essential products designed just for the purpose of travel with pets. When traveling with your pooch, comfort and safety come first, but let’s not forget other necessities such as food, water, and play toys!

Countless pet travel products exist for dogs and puppies that will be traveling in the car. Consider the following dog and puppy products as a few examples of our favorite pet travel goodies.

Pop Open Auto Seat Cover (Red) –
Target stores offer this handy seat saver – a fabric covering that attaches easily and quickly to your backseat so your pooch can relax during a car ride without getting fur all over your car. This handy backseat cover also prevents damage to the car seat from the pet’s nails. The Pop Open Auto Seat Cover literally pops open and unfolds to easily fit in most cars, trucks, SUVs, and minivans. The seat cover also folds up for easy storage when not in use.

Made primarily of red polyester, the seat cover is especially soft and fuzzy where the product folds across the backseat. The product’s dimensions are 23.5″ x 47.5″ x 22.5.” The Pop Open Auto Seat Cover retails for $16.99 and is available at Target or

Bamboo Quick Control 3-Foot Leash with Seat Belt Latch –
Especially great for puppies on the go, the Bamboo Quick Control 3-Foot Leash with Seat Belt Latch offers the perfect solution for how to keep your dog from jumping into the front seat or climbing all over the place while you are driving. The Bamboo Quick Control Leash with Seat Belt Latch is available in both 3-foot or 6-foot lengths and features a padded handle area with a zippered pocket to hold keys, small treats, a waste bag, money, or whatever small item you might need.

Smartly built for versatility, the Quick Control Leash features reflective stitching, an integrated ID card, and a metal buckle and D ring so you can easily and conveniently attach a longer leash for those doggie pit stops. The leash is easy to adjust for your pet’s needs and gives you peace of mind that your four-legged best friend will be safe on your commute. The Bamboo Quick Control Leash with Seat Belt Latch is available for $10.80 (3-foot length) or $19.55 (6-foot length) with free Supersaver Shipping on orders over $25 at

Silicone Travel Bowls by Bamboo Pet offer a stylish and space-saving way to offer your pets food and water during your road travels. The silicone travel bowls feature an array of cool colors and a collapsible design that allows them to fit compactly in your purse or pocket, backpack, glove compartment, center console, or door compartments.

The collapsible pet food and water travel bowls are constructed of durable, non-porous, BPA and PVC-free silicone. These cool pet bowls collapse to less than half an inch thick, which makes them great for packing to take just about anywhere. The bowls are available in one-cup size and three-cup size and they have a suggested retail price of $5.99-$9.99.

DogToids (also CatToids) Breath Mints by Bamboo Pet – “Ferociously Flavorful™ bite-sized treats” – are packed with breath freshening ingredients and natural flavors contained in a handy and attractive travel tin for pets. The travel tin is highly compact and fits perfectly in a pocket, purse, backpack, or glove box. (You can reuse the tin for toting treats on the go.)

The DogToids Breath Mints contain human-grade ingredients and flavors like beef, liver, and fish, as well as parsley to freshen even the smelliest of doggie breath. The doggie breath mints tin is available for $3.99 with the option for Free Supersaver Shipping at

Bamboo pet products are available at and most pet supply product retailers. For more information or to find a store near you, visit

Children’s Spray Sunscreens – KINeSYS SPF 30 Alcohol-free Spray Sunscreen

Once the season for summer sunshine gets into full swing, it’s nice to have a few reliable sun safety products on hand, especially for children. From strolls along the beach picking up attractive seashells to hours crabbing on the waterways to a quick jaunt across the sands to hours spent at the pool, protection from the sun is needed on many occasions. Discovering a few reliable products can be the difference between minutes spent in pleasure versus time spent crying.

KINeSYS SPF 30 Alcohol-free Spray Sunscreen: Girl KINeSYS SPF 30 Alcohol-free spray sunscreen vanilla-green tea scent
and Kids KINeSYS SPF 30 Alcohol-free spray sunscreen anti-oxidant

“Gearing up for summer fun” is one of the phrases clearly associated with KINeSYS products. After all, if we want to have fun in the sun without the damaging effects of sun radiation, then we need to gear up for it with a bit of protection.

One of the best facets to KINeSYS sunscreen products is that they are designed to meet the needs of everyone- girls, boys, moms, dads, athletes, landscapers, etc. Each of the KINeSYS products is designed to protect the skin from free radicals through an ingredient known as Topical Antioxidant Tocopheryl Acetate or Vitamin E. Plus, these products include Parsol®1789 to provide broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection.

Since these products are highly sweat-resistant and water-resistant, they are perfect for very active individuals or those who spend their time lifeguarding, swimming, boating, training for outdoor sports, landscaping, or working outdoors in general.

Plus, each one of the KINeSYS products are hypo allergenic, fragrance-free, and non-comedogenic, a fact that shouldn’t be lightly dismissed in today’s times when so many people are exhibiting a higher incidence of allergies.

The two products that my family tried are KINeSYS SPF 30 Girl Sunscreen Spray in a vanilla-green tea scent and KINeSYS SPF 30 Kids Sunscreen Spray with antioxidant UVA/UVB protection. Perhaps the first really neat fact that I liked about these two spray bottles is their size- pocket size! Getting a kid to use sunscreen is a challenge, especially when they reach the teenage years when they are too “cool” to bother with it. Pocket-sized products are perfect since they slip right into a kid’s pants away from teasing eyes.

The Girl’s sunscreen spray features a fresh, delicate scent of vanilla-green tea that is appealing and light. Packaged in an attractive pink spray bottle, it definitely makes the statement “Girls, use me. I’m for you.” This petite spray bottle contains 1 full fluid ounce. To tell you the truth though, any family member can use this product since it works so well. Even after hours in the sun, no one received any sunburn whatsoever.

KINeSYS SPF 30 Girl Spray Sunscreen

The Boy’s sunscreen spray features antioxidant UVA/UVB protection in an attractive orange spray bottle containing one full fluid ounce. Since orange is my son’s favorite color, this product is a big hit at my house. To be honest with you, products with a cute gimmicky feel do better with kids whether it’s the cool colors, the easy spraying feature, the size of the container, or even the name of the product.

How to Get Your Husband or Partner to Pitch in around the House or to Help with the Kids

Sometimes family chores and obligations can seem unbalanced. When this is the case, very often one spouse is doing more work around the house, or handling more responsibilities with the children, than the other spouse. Sometimes this uneven way of living can be very obvious, and other times it may sneak up on you out of nowhere.

If you feel that your husband or partner is not helping enough around the house or with the kids, you don’t have to give up. Even if you feel frustrated and helpless, there are things you can do to help encourage your spouse to pitch in around the house and with the responsibilities of being a parent.

Charles Orlando, author of The Problem with Women… is Men: The Evolution of a Man’s Man to a Man of Higher Consciousness, shares some of his favorite tips for helping to get your husband, boyfriend, or partner to chip in with daily and weekly responsibilities of life. Check out his tips and commentary below:

Tips to Get Him to Pitch-in Without Having to Bitch-in, by Charles Orlando

Many men are driven by primal instincts to solve problems based on evidence and/or hard data. And when it comes to child care, that instinct can sometimes quell the possibility of knowing what a child needs, when they need it and how often. As a result, men oftentimes take a voluntary step back from child care, leaving the mother with the lion’s share of the workload. Women wanting to change this cycle have a few options… some commonplace (and unsuccessful), some to perhaps think about and try.

—Hoping it fixes itself. This has the most chance of failure. Wants and needs need to be communicated clearly … and most times, consistently.

Men are prepared for the inevitable “I-know-you-just-got-home-but-I’ve-been-doing-this-all-day-and-you-need-to-help-me-out” statements. The result is usually more withdrawal, or passive-aggressive “attempts” at doing something to “help”.

—Change the approach with “Thought Seeds.” As discussed in my book, The Problem with Women… is Men: The Evolution of a Man’s Man to a Man of Higher Consciousness, perhaps the best approach to convincing your partner of the extreme importance of recognizing your needs, is planting the idea in his head, and then reinforcing it over time (which might prove especially useful for stay-at-home-moms whose husbands think you sit around all day, watching TV). Careful phrasing and calm discussion from the woman is paramount … and the key to this is to “get on the man’s side.” That should not be understood to mean that she must agree with him, or “fold” (read: be cowed into silence when she encounters his opposing views). Her job in this step is to plant an idea — a so-called “thought seed” — in his head, and then to add to that idea on a daily basis. The premise behind this tactic is simple: It’s a lot easier to convince people of things if they think they thought of it first. By germinating new thoughts that lead to new actions, she can effectively create an atmosphere of healthy change.

Short-term example

Instead of:
“I need a break! Get in here and take over for me!”

“I’m tired… and I need a break. Do you want to take over for me now, or in 20 minutes?” This provides a response the woman controls. While not forcing the man with an ultimatum, this statement provides the illusion of choice and has a positive expected outcome.

Long-term example

Instead of:
“Hey! Why do you need me to explain every little thing to you? Use your brain and figured out what our child needs! That’s what I have to do.”

Try: Talking about it. In a non-confrontational way, go over things with the father: schedules, food, and the thought process behind how you (as a mother) eliminate what is needed (or wanted) at a particular time (feeding schedule, check diaper, child is bored/needs playtime, etc.)

This process is easy to write, but it takes time, consistency and reinforcement. (Ever attempt to box train a cat? Did it work the first time?) The main message to get across to your husband is that it’s not a man’s job to “help” with caring for children. “Help” implies that it’s the woman’s job to do it, and he’s doing her a favor by lending-a-had once in a while. It IS his job…


About the Expert:
Charles Orlando is the author of The Problem with Women… is Men: The Evolution of a Man’s Man to a Man of Higher Consciousness, and is a speaker and life coach in the San Francisco Bay Area. When he’s not cooking his wife breakfast-in-bed or playing Guitar Hero with his kids, he can be found blogging at

Tips for Adopting a Puppy, Kitten, Cat, or Dog from a Shelter or Dog Pound instead of Buying a Pet from a Breeder

If you’ve decided to adopt a furry, four-legged friend from a dog pound or shelter, good on you! Millions of homeless pets could really use a good home rather than living out their lives in a shelter… or worse. Rescuing a pet dog, cat, kitten, or puppy from an animal shelter gives that pet a chance to live a full and happy life, showered in love and enjoyable experiences with a family of its own.

Even if you are set on a certain age – like a young puppy – or a certain breed of dog – your chances of finding the right pet for you and your family are still fairly good if you are willing to put in the effort. My husband and I recently adopted a puppy from an animal rescue on the other side of the country. I had originally been looking at breeders in our area and within a few hours of a drive, as I knew I wanted to get a young puppy in a particular breed. (I wanted a border collie!) I did extensive research on and found a border collie mix that is the perfect puppy ever, and she has the spitting image of a border collie, even though she is half Australian shepherd.

If you choose to adopt a pet from a pound or animal shelter, it’s always a good idea to get your new pet checked out at the vet, and make sure they are up-to-date on any shots. Here are some additional tips for adopting your pet from a shelter.

1.    If you can’t find the perfect pet at a rescue location near you, look online. Countless dogs and cats (and other animals too!) need good homes, and thanks to today’s technology, you can see their cute mugs online, and then call or email for more information.

2.    Look far and wide. If you fall in love with a pet that is out of driving distance, some shelters will still allow you to adopt out of state if you are willing to pay for the transportation costs.

3.    Don’t give up if you can’t afford to transport your new pet. Some animal rescue groups offer ground transportation services from shelters several states away or farther. Breed rescues very commonly do this.

4.    Check the pet’s health right away. Once you’ve adopted your pet, schedule a vet appointment for a standard check-up and to get any shots that may be needed.

5.    If you get your pet from a shelter with common areas for the dogs, be aware that your dog might have a chance of catching Parvovirus if not fully vaccinated. Talk to your vet about this possibility and whether a diagnostic test is a good idea for peace of mind. (Parvo is often fatal in dogs if not detected and treated early, and my puppy did have it, so I am a strong advocate for being on the safe side.) Also, if your pet begins acting very sick (throwing up and diarrhea), you should rush to the vet stat.

6.    Schedule your pet’s next round of shots while you are at the vet. Keep your new puppy or kitty up-to-date on all boosters.

7.    Ask questions about your pet’s health and lifestyle. Talk to your vet about diet, exercise, socializing your new pet, and any other burning questions that come to mind.

8.    Shower your new pet with unconditional love and affection!

Best wishes with your furry new family member!

The Parvo Chronicles – How Our Puppy Survived the Often Fatal Parvovirus

If you are reading this, you may suspect or know that your dog or puppy has Parvo, aka: Parvovirus. If that is the case, I am very sorry and I encourage you to take your pet to the veterinary hospital without delay. If it is after your normal vet’s hours and your puppy exhibits the signs of Parvovirus, you would be wise to consider an emergency vet if you are fairly convinced your pet has Parvo. However, if you are already in the treatment phases or unable to do so at the moment, here’s a tale of how our long awaited puppy survived Parvo. Hopefully this tale is enough to encourage you to stay strong, keep a positive outlook, and give your dog the proper vet care that is so typically needed for a dog or pup to beat Parvo.

I’ve had my heart set on a border collie puppy for a few years now. This year, 2009, I thought would be the year we’d get a puppy, and I was right – but it didn’t happen right away. For one reason or another, every time a pregnant border collie was about to have pups, something either went wrong, or we discovered there were no puppies to be born. The false pregnancies got me started thinking that something wasn’t quite right with my plan, but I still desperately wanted a puppy. Then one weekend, my husband suggested we adopt a border collie from a shelter or a rescue instead of buying from a breeder.

I was skeptical at first because often the border collies given up for rescue tend to be older dogs or dogs of a few years old. Puppies rarely seem to be available. I decided to search on to see if I could prove myself wrong. I checked up and down the whole East Coast to no avail. Plenty of dogs and puppies needed good homes, but I just didn’t see the one that stole my heart on first glimpse. Finally, I started searching the available pets out on the West Coast. When I got to Utah, the perfect puppy stared back at me from one of the pages of search results.

The little puppy was only nine weeks old and had the adorable looks of a border collie. She was half border collie and half Australian shepherd too, but you’d never know it by looking at her. She is the spitting image of a border collie – with the split face and all. Her fluffy black and white fur and precious face – half black and half white – gave me all the inspiration I needed to pick up the phone and call the shelter. She was still available!

In one day’s spin of the clock, I had all the plans in place for this little puppy to fly to PA from Utah in two short days. She’d catch a ride to Las Vegas, fly into Atlanta for a connection up to Allentown, and then we’d pick her up after my brother’s high school graduation and drive her home. It was a well choreographed plan, all things considered. Turns out her flight got delayed and we didn’t get home with her until 2 a.m., but it was all well worth it. What happened next is where the real story begins.

We took our puppy to the vet for a health check and a Lyme’s disease shot, as well as a kennel cough vaccine. She seemed perfectly healthy! We named her Moko, after the Maori tribal face tattoos worn by a number of the aboriginal people in New Zealand. (With this in mind, it translates roughly to “mask.”)  Moko met some of our family members and neighbors, played, ate, slept, and did all the wonderful things a puppy does. Then, only five days from the night we got her, our little puppy became very ill. My husband and I had no idea why or what was wrong. My hubby had to leave for a weekend golf trip, and that first night is when I looked up all her symptoms online.

My projected hypochondria and hours of sleuthing led me to believe she had Parvo. Her symptoms included very watery yellow diarrhea, vomiting (since she hadn’t eaten anything, it was mostly yellow bile and foamy, clear liquid, kind of just like slobber), laziness and complete lethargy (what puppy do you know that is content to sleep ALL DAY LONG?), no desire to play, and refusing to eat and drink all day. The more I read online, the more I convinced myself she had Parvo. Around 11 p.m., I called and left the vet a message that I wanted the first available appointment that next morning.

Based on my detective work, I frantically tried to get her to drink water. Dogs and puppies that get Parvo typically die of starvation and dehydration within 24 – 48 hours or so. This terrified me. My efforts to get Moko to drink water were not working out too well, but I kept trying.

Here is what I did to get her to drink:
1.    Tried to give her ice chips in her bowl to entice her to drink or even accidentally get some water in her mouth.
2.    Used a turkey baster to force some water down her throat. This was somewhat successful, but I spilled as much as I got down her throat.
3.    Added a small splash of milk to her bowl of water – she actually did go after it and drank for a good 20 seconds or so. This was the most successful method.

I also gave her a small piece of ham lunchmeat even though we decided no people food. It was literally a small piece the size of a quarter, so I don’t know if she got any nourishment at all, but she did reluctantly eat it, which made me feel better.

The next morning, she seemed a good deal better – happy and playful, but she still had diarrhea and she just didn’t seem right. At the vet’s, they tested her droppings and gave her a general exam. The vet didn’t think she had Parvo as I suspected, because she seemed too energetic and healthy, but decided to do a Parvo test anyway for both our peace of mind. About 10 minutes later, the vet returned and my worst fears were confirmed. Moko tested positive for Parvo.

Continue reading the story…

Hats Off to Dad — Some Creative Gifts to Make Him Smile

Who did you turn to for help when you got your first bike? When you learned how to drive? When you got your first flat tire or had your first car problem? Who scrupulously checked out your boyfriends, and later walked you down the aisle to unite with the man of your dreams?

Chances are, at least some of the above indicate your father has been there for you.  Since the commencement of your existence in the world, he has carried you, pushed you, and held your hand. No matter how far apart you live or how many years have passed since you were but a tiny babe, you will always be his “little girl.” For Father’s Day, make sure you let him know how much he means to you.

With that special day marked as a tribute to our fathers, now is a great time to start thinking of clever gifts for you to give to your father, and for your kids to give to theirs!

Forget about another tie, a box of hankies, or extra socks. He has got tons of those from all the previous Father’s Days and birthdays and Christmases. Throw a dash of creativity in your gift-giving this year and break out of the ordinary. Below are some crafty and clever ideas that will keep your dad smiling for times to come.

Gifts for kids of all ages to give Dad:

– Grab some paints and a glass jar with a lid (some stores sell neat-shaped little ones with a cork top that would be ideal for this) and create a savings system for him. Decorate the jar however you like and paint a special saying on it somewhere… like “For a Rainy Day,” “Fishing Money,” “Hunting Fund,” “Golf Money,” “New Boat Fund”… anything that he likes or wants to buy would be a perfect target for this personalized bank of sorts. Put in a few shiny pennies to get him started and he will surely think of you when the time comes to spend its contents!

– When the times are tough and a long day or week at work has tired him out, a coupon booklet would be a perfect gift to give him some relaxation time. Make the coupons on the computer or by hand with crayons, markers or whatever you have available. Give him a “free back massage” coupon, a “Night off” coupon for a chore-free evening, a “King of the Remote” card saying he is the controller of the remote for the entire night, a “breakfast in bed” coupon, a “free lawn-mowing” coupon… you get the idea. Be creative, be humorous—give him something he can laugh about and enjoy at the same time.

– Let the kids pick out a favorite picture and have them decorate a frame especially for him. He can put this custom-made picture frame on his desk at work or keep it somewhere special at home, but kids do grow up quickly, so this gift will hold importance for years to come!

– Purchase a glass beer mug and some stain glass paints to honor him with his very own mug so he can enjoy his beverages a bit more. Any phrase, saying or picture will do, but make sure it is something to which he can relate or something that holds a special meaning. Even “World’s Greatest Dad!” would be a fine choice to make him feel especially loved.

Make a “Daddy Survival Kit”
Begin by taking a blank sheet of paper and writing down everything you know about him, from his favorite color to his favorite candy bar to what he likes to do in his spare time. If he likes hunting, fishing, golf, tinkering with things… write these pastimes down. What about items he uses on a daily basis, or those pesky things that he needs but can never find in the instant he wants them? Write those down too… this survival kit you create for him should have a variety of things he likes and those he might need from time to time, but it will be customized just for him.

Examples of some items you might want to include:
–    A small lunchbox-type container, or Tupperware that can be easily designed and decorated with paints, pictures and crafts

–    Some band-aids, tissues, perhaps tweezers, antiseptic, or other first aid items

–    A picture of his family

–    A spare key to the house, his car, etc.

–    His favorite candy bar, a pack of gum, and some snacks you know he loves…

–    A custom-made CD for him to enjoy

–    Extra fishing hooks or weights if he likes to fish, some camouflage paint or hand-warmers if he likes to hunt…

–    A few extra golf tees, a golf ball, etc.

–    A few coins for emergency toll money, some batteries, a mini-flashlight…

–    Use your imagination — there are so many possibilities out there to make the perfect kit just for him!

Unique Baby Shower Centerpiece Ideas – Cute and Creative Cakes for Any Occasion

For an adorable and edible baby shower centerpiece idea, consider cute and creative cakes or cupcakes. You can order (or make!) super cute baby shower centerpieces with cakes or cupcakes in the colors, shapes, and themes of your baby shower party. You can even inspire guests to decorate their own cupcakes with a special kit designed and available for just this kind of special occasion.

As you search for the perfect unique baby shower centerpiece idea, you can take things in a number of different directions. Using cakes, mini cakes, or cupcakes as baby shower centerpieces, you can offer a cute and adorable theme for each table while also providing a special treat for all the guests at each table.

Baby Shower Cake Centerpiece by Kelly Delaney / Cakes for Occasions (Photo courtesy of Cakes for Occasions / Kelly Delaney)Cakes for Occasions creates mini cake centerpieces that can be given away as a party favor / prize from a game or served as a dessert to save money on the total baby shower budget. Cakes for Occasions also offers a cute baby shower centerpiece idea using a tier of cupcakes that allows each guest to enjoy or take home one or two cupcakes.

“At Cakes for Occasions, we can create gorgeous centerpiece ‘mini’ cakes that are pretty to look at and also perform double duty when served as dessert,” says owner Kelly Delaney. “We can even create an edible ‘flowerpot’ to eliminate the need for an arrangement.”

Another specialty cake baker, Tasha Festel has created a number of unique and adorable baby shower cakes to serve as both dessert and creative centerpieces. On the baby shower section of her Web site, you can find adorable baby shower cake centerpieces she’s created, such as a Diaper Cake (completely edible!), Two Peas in a Pod, and a Rainbow Cake, among others. She’s also recently completed a Dr. Seuss cake featuring the Cat In the Hat and Red Fish/Blue Fish combo, as well as a giraffe diaper bag themed cake.

“I’ve also done some cupcakes that have been served at baby showers and put on cupcake trees as centerpieces,” says Festel, citing rattle cupcakes and Bees and Blossoms.

“Another fun thing I’ve done for baby showers is a Cupcake Kit,” she adds. “I have one specific for baby showers that’s called a Nesting Kit. This gives the guests a fun game as well as a yummy cupcake. It can also be a favor for the guests to take home. People love this – there aren’t that many opportunities for adults to do these kids of crafts. They’re always reserved for kids!”

Cakes and cupcakes make lovely and memorable, edible centerpiece ideas for baby showers, among other special events. Consider ordering a special set of cake or cupcake centerpieces or put your own culinary and decorating skills to the test to create an adorable baby shower centerpiece. Your guests will love the look and the “taste” of your creative baby shower centerpieces!

About the Experts:
Kelly Delaney is the owner of Cakes for Occasions, located in Danvers on the north shore of Boston. Visit Cakes for Occasions online or order products at and

Tasha Festel is a member of Ladies Who Launch and owner of Hillside Cakes. Visit Hillside Cakes or order products online at

Top 10 Suggestions for Fun and Entertaining Activities to Do with Your Grown Children

When it comes to spending time with your children after they’ve grown, the family dynamics often tend to change. There are lots of fun things you can do with your grown children and their families. You begin to see your sons or daughters and their spouses sometimes as another couple instead of just your own kids. Now that your kids are grown, you may find it more difficult to plan family activities and events that work for everyone. Scheduling becomes a challenge and people’s tastes may have changed.

And while the traditional dinners out or dinners at the house never quite lose their flair or flavor, you may still crave something fun and exciting, something different. With this new family dynamic and the unending love for one’s children – grown or not – in mind, here are 10 suggestions for fun and entertaining activities you can do with your grown children.

1.    Visit a winery or a brewery together. As long as your children are 21 or older, this activity is sure to please. Visiting a winery or brewery often involves an informative tour of the facilities where the wine or beer is made followed by a tasting of a selection of the beverages available. If you plan to visit more than one winery or brewery, consider arranging chauffeured transportation so no one has to miss out on the experience.

2.    Attend a professional or minor league sporting event. Baseball games and hockey games are timeless sporting events that offer an entertaining date idea or group outing for all ages. If your grown children already have children, the little ones might find favor with this activity as well.

Enjoy wine with your family or visit a vineyard for a tour and tasting.3.    Rent a pontoon boat and have a picnic on the water. Pontoon boats cater to nice sized groups and allow you to relax, enjoy a meal or a snack, and float about all at the same time. Again, this is another great activity for spending time with your grown children even if they have children of their own.

4.    Take a trip to the beach or the mountains for a family vacation getaway. Many families plan a week at a special location every year without fail. Some families choose the Adirondack Mountains in New York State while others may choose the Outer Banks or another more southern vacation destination. No matter what your family’s preference, a family vacation getaway is a great option for you and your grown children of any ages.

5.    Have a barbeque at one of your homes, or use one of the grills at a local park. While dinner may be a common theme for your get-togethers with your grown kids, a barbeque still offers a great family bonding experience mixed with an all-time favorite summer or warm weather activity.

6.    Visit a botanical garden, butterfly preserve, or other natural wonder. Take in the wonderful sights and sounds of nature by visiting a nature preserve, botanical garden (like Longwood Gardens), or other natural place of note. You can enjoy sharing the lovely display of flora and fauna with your grown kids and their children, if they had kids already.

7.    See who gets the best score at a few rounds of bowling.
Bowling is another one of those timeless date ideas and anytime activities that can rustle up a good helping of competition and family fun time. You can play a few rounds and see who wins over all or split up into teams and make things more competitive.

8.    Visit an orchard or a pick-your-own farm. For a fun and interactive seasonal activity to do with your grown children and even their kids, consider visiting a pick-your-own farm or an orchard. You could also visit a pumpkin patch around Halloween. These fun activities are memorable and offer a nice way to spend time together outside.

9.    Play some miniature golf or chip-n-putt. As always, miniature golf (putt-putt) and chip-n-put make great activities for groups of all ages. From yourselves to your grown children to your grandchildren, miniature golf delivers fun for everyone.

10.    Go on a cruise. While this option requires more planning and more of an expense, going on a cruise with your family becomes an unforgettable experience that you will cherish and treasure for a lifetime. No matter what your ages, make it a point to plan a cruise with your grown children as soon as funding permits. With the tough economy, you might set your sites for up to five years out, but give a family cruise some serious thought for a memorable and exciting family vacation.

Fun with Bendaroos – A Cool Springtime Activity to Do with Your Kids

There’s so much to say about Bendaroos (I don’t even know where to begin)…Bendaroos come in many different colors. (Photo by Barbara Baker)

They bring fun and excitement to any room, windows or wall. Bendaroos are perfect for kids of all ages; they open eyes to the world of imagination and they certainly entertain for hours and hours!

Sadly, I do have to admit that before I was offered the opportunity to review Bendaroos (like most parents); I wasn’t much for paying attention to the commercials for them. My daughters would scream out “I WANT THAT!” every time they heard the word “Bendaroos” or saw a commercial for them. Unfortunately, I just didn’t think that they’d be worth paying for (I hate being wrong).

However, I knew that my girls wanted these things, so I was pretty excited about trying them out AND, I knew that this would be a great way to put any skepticism behind me. It worked… these Bendaroos really are amazing and need to be on your list of “must haves” for spring things to do with the kids!

Barbara Baker's daughters enjoy playing with Bendaroos on the walls of their home. (Photo by Barbara Baker)I’ll be the first to declare that my kids aren’t always the kindest ones. They fight like most siblings and are very territorial about “their things”, but when I opened the box of Bendaroos it was like opening the gates to serenity. Not a single argument broke out. The box was filled with plenty of color strips for everyone to do what they wished. They happily helped each other create and were eager to have me take a look at what they did – TOGETHER!

There’s just so much that you and your little ones (and teen ones) can create with Bendaroos. All along my walls were dragons and swirls, flowers and suns, astronauts and space ships. It was just amazing to see what these kids were concocting. It was delightful to hear the subtle laughs and cheers throughout the house. What’s more; not one of them complained that they couldn’t make anything with the Bendaroos.

Bendaroos come in many different colors. (Photo by Barbara Baker)I definitely, without a doubt, applaud the creator of Bendaroos. These “magical” wax strips are something everyone should try. Even we parents can have fun with them (I know I did). You can imagine and do just about anything. The box even comes with an instructional poster to show you step by steps on how to create some of the wild and crazy things you can do with Bendaroos. There’s even a special page right now for some springtime themed creations. It’s just so fun!!!

Next time you’re trying to find something to do with your kids – think of Bendaroos! You can draw, build, decorate and transform anything. It will bring millions of smiles and laughs to the ones you love so much; those darling little ones.

You can get Bendaroos online at – Bendaroos Mega Set (500 Pieces) for $19.95 and eligible for free Super Saver Shipping.

Fun Easter Activities to Do as a Family; PAAS Easter Egg Dye Kits Review

I’ve always enjoyed crafts that the kids and I can do together. Paas Easter Egg Dye Kits are a timeless way to celebrate. (Photos by Barbara Baker)And, no matter what the occasion; family fun is (in my home) always a must. It’s a way for my kids to feel included in whatever it is we have going on. Sharing these moments with my kids also inspires and motivates their creativity, which is such an important part of their emotional and developmental skills.

For more than 125 years, PAAS has been helping all Americans celebrate Easter. PAAS has indulged us with Easter egg decorating kits that the whole family can enjoy. From flowers and stickers to paints and dyes, this visual candy has and always will be considered a “must have” on Easter!

Aside from the important biblical reasons for celebrating Easter, it is also a time for any and all children to let their imaginations soar. The anticipation of where the Easter bunny will hide their decorated eggs for them to seek, the glorious food atop of each table, and the family gatherings that last the whole day through. Easter is a special day for all of us and how we celebrate this day is as different as each magnificently decorated egg.

Paas Easter Egg Dye Kits are a timeless way to celebrate. (Photos by Barbara Baker)Paas Easter Egg Dye Kits are a timeless way to celebrate. (Photos by Barbara Baker)Paas Easter Egg Dye Kits are a timeless way to celebrate. (Photos by Barbara Baker)

Paas Easter Egg Dye kits are fun for the whole family. (Photos by Barbara Baker)When my family received the new PAAS kits in the mail, I guarantee the noise in the house rose about 100 Decibels. The excitement was pretty high not only for the kids, but for me too. Easter has always been one of my favorite holidays, and to get these kits in the mail was like opening the doors to spring.

Now, although I really wanted to, we didn’t tear into the kits that day. A close friend of mine and I decided to make a special day of it. We wanted to do a little pre-Easter, Easter day celebration. So, that following Sunday we came together and planned for a Bar-B-Q. We let the kids play outside while “us moms” boiled eggs and prepared the craft table inside; the dads sat outside tending to the fire and watching kids – without really knowing that we planned it that way (LOL).

The PAAS kits were a success… the kids were entertained for hours and not a single argument broke. Each child picked a spot, started with that kit, and worked their way around the table until each kit was tried. Then we let them do one egg with a little of each kit (a concoction of fun, if you may). Once they decorated their eggs, we took pictures and asked the kids what they thought. They loved it so much that they can’t wait to do it again… looks like we’re going shopping.

The kits I received were as follows:
Paas Easter Egg Dye kits are fun for the whole family. (Photos by Barbara Baker)PAAS color squirt – this kit was pretty fun. The kids were able to use their muscles with this one. They “squirted” the eggs with color using a little paint pump and their choice of color. This kit comes with a 12-piece egg drying tray, 12 silly circles, 8 egg stands, and 6 PAAS food coloring tablets; 3 pouches of non-toxic paint, 3 paint pumps, 1 plastic tray, and 1 egg dipper.

PAAS flower power – The kids really loved this… they were all VERY sticker happy! The kit includes 45 flower power stickers, 20 multi-color flower sequins, 12 piece egg drying tray, 12 silly circles, 8 egg stands and 6 PAAS food coloring tablets; 5 flower power strands, 1 egg dipper and 1 non-toxic glue pen.

PAAS brilliant beads – Whether it’s a girl or boy decorating an egg with this kit, they’re going to have fun. It’s like the “momma” of all kits. This kit included 37 stickers, 15 piece egg drying tray, 15 silly circles, 12 egg strands and 6 PAAS food coloring tablets; 4 bags of multi-colored beads, 2 glitter pens, 1 non-toxic glue pen, and 1 egg dipper. Deviled Eggs are a great end result of Easter Egg Dyeing Adventures! (Photo by Barbara Baker)

I had so much fun with the kids and kits that I’d recommend purchasing a few extra kits this year. What I like to do is stack the boxes away and every once in a while (as a “just because” day) pull them out and have some fun. It doesn’t have to be a holiday to entertain your child with a PAAS kit, trust me. The plus to the whole experience is that it makes for some wonderfully delicious Deviled eggs afterwards!!!

Easter Entertaining Tips for Kids of All Ages – How to Make Gum Pops

Every time Easter is close to hopping into our days, the kids and I like to find ways to keep us entertained. Make these delightful Easter gum pops with this recipe from Beth Kimmerle.If the craft involves something that will be edible afterwards, than that’s even better. After all, who doesn’t enjoy eating their own creations?

I’m sure that with “spring” comes spring cleaning (for most of us) and our poor little ones patiently (not always eagerly) await the completion of this long and overbearing task that parents feel so obligated to do. We know it must drive the kids crazy, and we’re not their favorite people at that moment, but, I have a solution that can rid your kid’s frustration for many hours.

This craft idea is such an ingenious idea that I wish I had the smarts to have thought it up myself, but I didn’t (darn). I do, however, wish to give credit where credit is due; the wonderful candy expert and chocolate historian, Beth Kimmerle. This wonderful lady has gifted me with a cool and exciting recipe that will kick those springtime “spring cleaning” blues out the door and leave your kids wanting more. What’s more; it’s perfect for those Easter gatherings when you want to be the one showing up with home-crafted gifts.

The girls and I personally had a great time. We shared in silly stories and told jokes as we squeezed gum between our hands as we made them. The girls enjoyed every bit of the fun that exploded at our kitchen table. The wait for the pops to set was a little agonizing, but once they bit into what “they” made, it was all worth it.

It’s great for any budget and gives many hours of fun not only for the kids but for the whole family. The reward; a beautifully decorated gum pop!

Beth’s concept is perfect for giving kids of all ages a great activity and fun decoration for spring.

Make these delightful Easter gum pops with this recipe from Beth Kimmerle.This is all you need to make some far out, gorgeous gum pops:

You will need:
1.    Plastic candy mold
2.    Several softened sticks of gum
3.    Lollipop sticks
4.    Vegetable oil or non-stick spray

Gum color recommendations:
1.    Juicy Fruit for yellow
2.    5 Elixir and Lush for pink and orange
3.    Extra Fruit Sensations Berry Paradise for purple
4.    Extra Spearmint for green
5.    Hubba Bubba Max Island Punch for blue and green

1.    Clean and dry plastic molds. Using vegetable oil or non-stick spray, lightly grease inside mold cavities. Set molds aside.

2.    Unwrap and soften stick gum by kneading in the palm of your hand.  The amount of gum you will need depends on mold size, but start by kneading several sticks at a time and once soft, place and press firmly into mold cavity.  If more gum is needed, repeat steps until mold is completely filled. The softer the gum, the better. Try a brand like Juicy Fruit for best results.

3.    To transform molded shapes into lollipops, lay sticks along the back of the mold and cover with additional pieces of softened gum.

4.    Once molds are filled and sticks are in place, give each a final press and place in refrigerator for about one hour or until gum is completely hardened.  Once chilled, remove plastic molds, gently ease gum shape from cavity and enjoy!

See, I bet just reading the simple instructions made you drool. I know your mind started wondering who you were going to be gifting these with on Easter Sunday…. I’ve got an answer; everyone. You mustn’t leave anyone out, trust me, they’ll know.



Puppy Love: Socializing a New Puppy, and Dating with Dogs

Cute, cuddly and completely adorable, even the smartest, most lovable puppies have a lot to learn about the world and their surroundings. From the time they are first born, puppies have their littermates and mommas to keep them company and enjoy the world around them. Play outside with your pups! (Photo courtesy of Mette,

As the puppies grow old enough and strong enough to join families of their own, they need a little help in preparing for on adventures of their own. Showing your new pet warm, loving care and introducing new people, places, and things are both critical to the most cohesive development of a puppy’s disposition. This article offers suggestions for socializing your new puppy and also ideas for double dating with your dogs.

Enhancing Your Puppy’s Social Circles
As with young children, socializing your new puppy can be just as important as proper housebreaking and disciplined training sessions. Before you have any uncomfortable run-ins at the vet’s office, make efforts to introduce your pet to other pooches. Taking your puppy on play dates with other dogs can really impact his or her character while also building a pleasant social routine for both of you.

Taking your little pup for a walk through the park makes a great first start at seeing how your new family member will react to other pets and unknown people. Before socializing your puppy with other dogs and people, be sure that he or she has received all puppy shots.

Play fetch when you can (Photo courtesy of Phaedra Wilkinson) Puppy pals (Photo courtesy of Share a snack! (Photo courtesy of Chi Hinks,

Fun for you and pup! (Photo courtesy of

Consistency in socializing the young pet with an assortment of different people and pets, will aid your pup’s best traits in shining through. Something as simple as bringing your new puppy into town one day will add the element of new aPups explore new friends (Photo courtesy of Lisa Solonynko, unexplored territory, mixed with unfamiliar people and maybe even a few unfamiliar pets.

Depending on your dog’s breed and interests, playing Frisbee, having a catch with a tennis ball, or chasing each other around grassy areas may be the most enjoyable means of getting a healthy dose of exercise. By incorporating other people, gentle children and other dogs into the equation, your young pup will reap the biggest benefit in outgrowing timidity and shyness while learning to play nice with others.Going for a ride (Photo courtesy of Charlotte Jessen,

If friends have a new puppy or even a dog that’s been with the family for many years, consider getting together with them at a neutral location like a park, or host a small get-together at one of your homes to socialize the pets. Keep them under close supervision, but allow them to explore the area and get to know one another.

No matter how young or old pets and people might be, socializing your new puppy with a variety of friendly strangers will tremendously improve his or her social behavior and general temperament.

When Puppy Love Sneaks Up… Dating with Your Dog
Perhaps a bit cliché from all the exposure in the movies, singles often express an interest in members of the opposite sex who clearly love animals. Allowing two pets to become close companions can be positive for their dispositions and overall happiness.

Spend time with your dog (Photo courtesy of Kevin Rosseel, two singles meet, both walking their own pet, a mutual double date for owners and pets could be a great icebreaker! While guardians get to know each other, pets may enjoy the new company, whether walking along side-by-side or frolicking in the park. Below are a few date ideas for anyone tickled by puppy love!

New pals for playing ball! (Photo courtesy of Mariana, Double Dates for Pet-Lovers:
–    A walk or a gentle jog in the park
–    A trip to a dog-friendly restaurant or bakery
–    An adorable photo session with a disposable camera
–    A trip to a pet-friendly beach
–    A casual roller-blading excursion
–    A trip to a pet boutique or pet-friendly store that allows you to shop together