Author: Christina Refford

A mobile that really moves

It’s no secret we are big fans of Houston designer Melissa Borrell, having selected her stainless steel jewelry as a 2009 Pick of the Year. But her product line extends far beyond amazing jewelry. I am thrilled to see that she has turned her talent to the baby nursery where her keen eye for shape, shadow and unique style transforms the baby mobile into a little floating work of art. [don’t miss the awesome giveaway after the jump!] Unlike most baby mobiles which come out of the box and are ready to hang, the 2d3d mobiles from Melissa Borrell Design let you...

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7 lifesaving tips for flying with toddlers – Reader Q&A

I have a trip coming up in December, flying for the first time with toddlers. . . what will I need and what can I use? My kids are not the type to sit! I’m almost afraid to have them on a airplane! Any thing you can share would be great! -Amanda, mom to a 2 & 3 year old We’re all big proponents of traveling with kids here, as early as possible. But we realize that flying with kids, especially really young ones who haven’t quite mastered things like an “indoor voice” can be anxiety-provoking. I hope the...

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Halloween costume swaps – Frugal or just plain smart?

My younger kids wear a lot of their siblings’ hand-me-downs but, at Halloween, they draw the line. They want their own special costume and so I take a deep breath and buy new Halloween costumes every year. Oh sure, their old costumes get passed on to friends or charity, but I’m still left starting over from scratch. This year, I’ve found a way to get them “newish” costumes, find homes for their old ones, and feel a little greener without spending a lot of green–with a good old fashion costume swap. Green Halloween has partnered with Kiwi Magazine to help promote National Costume Swap...

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Transforming the typical robot toy

Though I have a six-year-old son, I have somehow avoided those plastic transforming toys that are supposed to go from a car or a truck to a robot, though I can never get them to look like either one. But avoid a block of wood that transforms into a smiling robot that looks like he’s about to bust a move? No way: This one is just too cool. Created by amazing designer David Weeks, the Cubebot Wooden Robot Toy is a twist on the very-neat Japanese wood craft known as Kumiki. And unlike the typical battery-hogging, noise-producing, plasticky robot toy, the Cubebot is crafted of...

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Indie lullabies? That would be a yes.

Going back a few years, I held fast to the belief that if I was going to be stuck out of my bed in the middle of the night rocking an infant, I deserved to play a little night music that would be awesome and make us both (oh please, oh please) fall asleep. So when a bunch of indie musicians got together to make a compilation lullaby CD, I took notice on behalf of those you who will soon find yourself rocking, rocking, rocking the night away. The result is Sing Me To Sleep – Indie Lullabies which brings together...

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Special gift to say goodbye to nanny?- Reader Q&A

Our nanny is about to leave us to pursue full time pilates instruction. She’s been awesome and I’d like to get her something to commemorate her time with our toddler. Any thoughts? Thanks much! Grace We’re sorry to hear your nanny is leaving and think it is wonderful you want to give her something special to remember her time with your family. Here are a few ideas we’ve put together that are a unique way for her to remember her time with all of you. –Christina Little Pink House’s Custom Felt Portraits are amazing, and can turn a cute...

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Organic plush toys that are ripe for the picking

My kids really love their stuffed animals, but not knowing what the heck most of these piles of fur are made of, I kind of wish they’d love them a little less. And after seeing a new organic line of plush toys that is not only safe for all ages, but totally environmentally friendly, I wish I could replace my kids’ piles of stuffed toys with these adorable critters. San Francisco’s Apple Park makes organic plush toys that look like the kind of creatures my kids would adore, but are made with a lot more care for the environment. And for the kids who...

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Fall is coming: Is your camera ready?

Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, Big Picture Scrapbooking no longer exists. Lazing in the pumpkin patch. Biting into a just-picked apple. Jumping in a leaf pile. I have all of those iconic family pictures of fall sitting in photo albums already. So what’s next? This year, to give me a little inspiration (and mindfullness before I click the shutter) I’ll be signing up for Picture Fall, the 31-day online photography workshop for both pros and photo newbies alike. Like its predecessor Picture Summer, Picture Fall is led by Shutter Sisters’ founder, pro photographer and cool mama Tracey Clark and hosted on the Big Picture...

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Just a little peace

I have a definite affinity for owls, telling people that I wish to someday be old and wise. But there are times like today, or on days when my son is in his fifth time out, when the dove, the quintessential symbol of peace and love, seems more appropriate. This sterling silver dove necklace by Massachusetts artist Emily Rosenfeld fits my sensibilities perfectly in its simple modern shape. Only an inch wide, I can wear it with anything, and I love that the charm is double sided so there is no “wrong side” But mostly, I love making others think a little bit about the symbolism of...

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9/11: A day to remember, through service

I have struggled with how to explain September 11th to my children ever since they were old enough to understand that something big and terrible happened that day nine years ago. I still struggle, but now that this has also become a National Day of Service, I like the idea that my family can honor the day by doing something good for a charity in need. Last year, we learned of 911DayofService.org, a website that was created to give people a place to share their service projects with others, or to find an organization in the community that can...

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Birthday gifts for 5 year old boy? – Reader Q&A

Danielle asked us on Twitter for the best birthday gift ideas for a 5 year old boy, since her son is about to hit the big number five. She says he likes “things that go” but already has 400 cars. He also likes art projects and writing notes.     We have some great ideas for you, Danielle! I have an almost-six year old son, so I am excited to answer your question about good gift ideas for your little guy. It sounds like he has more than enough vehicles already, so I’ll try to stick to gifts that don’t involve little tiny wheels. Related: Coolest gifts for...

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Many hands–and voices–come together to help Haiti

I was a teen when Live Aid rocked the world, and saw how powerful musicians can be when they come together for a cause. Now, many years later, another group of musicians has come together, this time on a fabulous children’s CD to benefit the Haitian People’s Support Project which helps the people in Haiti who are still recovering from the devastating earthquake. And, in case you were wondering: The music, like the cause, is awesome. Conceived by versatile musician and CMP favorite, Dean Jones, the album Many Hands: Family Music for Haiti quickly became a reality after receiving the support and label backing from Spare...

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New luggage for child-free getaway? Reader Q&A

My husband and I are taking our first real vacation since our honeymoon without any of our three children! I’m in desperate need of some new luggage and I’m wondering if you have any recommendations. Thanks, Rhonda First, congratulations on your upcoming getaway! I have three kids as well and still remember how special it was to go away without them for the first time. While we’re fans of packing light and using carry-on bags as much as possible, keep in mind all these brands make both larger and smaller pieces. –Christina. If you’re looking for something really special, I...

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Gimme an oi! for punk music for kids from Candy Band

The next person who simpers that kids’ music is just too watered down to really rock is getting locked inside my minivan with the Candy Band’s new CD — cranked up to 11 until they cry uncle. Because there is nothing wishy washy about these four motor-city mamas whose ability to perform punk for kids is so much fun, I’d lock myself in the minivan willingly. High Five is Candy Band’s fifth CD, and it makes clear that this foursome is still rocking as hard as their last CD, 2007’s Calling All Kids. I love that I can play the kind of aggressive...

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Great games to take along on your late-summer trip

There’s nothing like finally taking that summer vacation and then getting stuck in the hotel while the skies rain down on your plans. To save us from extreme hotel ennui, I make sure we take along a few easy-to-pack games to help us pass the time until the sun comes out again. These games all come from the wonderful small company Gamewright, and if you’re looking for alternatives from the same-old, you’re in luck. I am embarrassed to admit that I am story-telling impaired, always falling back on a tale about a princess, a castle and a cliche. But with...

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Custom earrings without the custom pricetag

Though my regular Starbucks order doesn’t come close to a Decaf double tall non-fat extra-dry cappuccino, I do have very specific tastes in everything from coffee to jewelry. So, I was thrilled to learn of a custom earrings website that lets you pick not only the style but the gemstones and metal, all without costing so much that I have to justify my purchase to death. Portland’s GemKitty has new custom earrings for those of us who are particular about our jewels. The earrings come in five dangling styles which may not work for those days when you’re with a grabby toddler, but are...

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Need a travel crib? Just pump it up.

Words I never thought I’d hear come out of my husband’s mouth as he strolled by our living room: Whoa, that’s some cool-looking pack-and-play.While I’ve never thought of a portable crib as particularly cool, I do admit this is one that would stop me in my tracks too. Good thing it lives up to its looks. The new GoCrib is totally unlike the portable cribs I had to schlep around when my three kids were babes. Back then, I remember metal bars and slippery nylon. I remember lugging a heavy bundle and trying not to pinch anything as I set...

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Group gift for kids ages 2-11? Reader Q&A

My nieces and nephews from Israel are on their way visit grandparents. My 2 year old son will probably not have a chance to visit but would like to send something to them while they are here. Any ideas for a gift to help entertain the 2 to 11 year-olds?  Thanks for any suggestions! -Katie It’s awesome that he wants to send his cousins something for them to do while they are visiting. The wide age range means we need to find something safe for the youngest but that will still hold the interest of the older kids. Here...

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Randy Kaplan is the thinking kids’ musician

Super storyteller/singer Randy Kaplan is no ordinary kids’ music performer. Oh, sure, he may sing about monkeys, bears and queen bees, but on his latest CD he also has my kids asking me to explain Freud, the definition of Hebrew terms, and even why someone might be happier with no money.  In other words, if you’ve got a precocious, question-everything kid, meet the perfect CD to get them thinking while they sing along.  (see the giveaway after the jump!)   Following up his much-beloved Loquat Rooftop, The Kids Are All Id kicks off with the bouncy banjo-y My Little...

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As close to being Harry Potter we’ll ever get

My children would give just about anything to apparate inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort. The early reviews (and word from CMP Editor Liz who worked with Universal early on in the development) make it look so cool, it almost makes me want to brave the crowds. But alas, we are mere muggles and need things like vacation time and money, not magic, to get us there. Until we gather enough knuts for the trip, we have a new game that will make the waiting a little more fun. The cool new LEGO Harry...

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