Author: Kate Etue

So smart! A new board game subscription box to keep family game night fresh.

My kids’ playroom has a bookshelf with piles of board games taller than me. So yeah, you could say we’re fairly avid tabletop gamers at our house. But, even so, we’re still always on the lookout for fun new games. If they’re really affordable, even better. So you can imagine how happy I was to hear that Hasbro just announced their first-ever board game subscription box service. Subscribe, and every three months you get a crate with three new board games right to your door. Choose from either a family game option and an adults-only option for $50 a...

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Should you really avoid SPF over 50? We’ve got facts, and we’ve got answers.

Growing up as a fair-skinned, redheaded kid, I’m no stranger to the intricacies of SPF labels. Or sunburns. Like lots of us, I always believed that the higher the SPF, the better the sun protection I’d get, but that’s not necessarily the case. In fact, the EWG warns against sunscreens with very high SPF over 50, and that goes for kids and adults. In fact, they say flat out to avoid SPF over 50. But, why? Related: 2017 EWG best safe sunscreens for kids and babies: Which is the most affordable? First off, what is SPF? SPF, or Sun...

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The Night Sky’s custom star maps: The sweet, sentimental gift that’s modern, never sappy.

I’m a mom, you know, which means I pretty much can’t help but feel sentimental about the special milestones in my family’s life — my kids’ birthdays, preschool graduation, our daughter’s adoption day. The thing is: I love finding ways to memorialize these moments, but sappy just isn’t my thing. So when I recently discovered The Night Sky custom star maps, I knew this was the perfect way for me to commemorate an important event without getting cheesy about it. In fact, it’s so subtle most people won’t even realize it’s a secret sentimental nod to a special moment...

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5 creative ways to make a summer bucket list with your kids. Let the fun begin!

Summer break is here for my kids (yes, already!), which means I’m looking down the barrel of 13 long, lovely (and lively, knowing my crew) weeks at home. We have a lot of things we want to do — go for hikes, do every single craft in Project Kid (ha!), touch a frog (really!). But most days I look up and it’s already lunch time…and nap time for the toddler. Then, there goes all our plans. So, I’ve been researching some creative ways to make a summer bucket list with my kids. It’s going to help us narrow down our list to...

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The best family board games for summer travel…because good things come in small packages.

My family loves to play board games. I’m talking, big, involved, takes-three-hours-to-play board games. And what better time to play than when we’re on summer vacation? But, it can be tricky to travel with big boxes full of a zillion pieces. Luckily, we have found a few games we love that come in boxes small enough to easily toss in a backpack or tote bag. So, if you’re looking for some offline family fun that you can take with you, wherever you’re headed this summer, check out these 5 family board games for travel. In fact, these are the ones I’m packing for our trip...

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How to make a DIY weighted blanket, and save yourself $100 (whoo!)

I have a couple of kids with on-and-off sleep issues, so I’ve been paying attention to the swell of discussion about the benefits of weighted blankets. These blankets, which are filled with anywhere from 5–10 lbs. of weighted beads, are said to help increase both serotonin (which improves your mood) and melatonin (which makes you sleepy). Basically, your kids feel like they’re being held, which of course makes them happy. And sleepy. Yay! We recently received a sample weighted blanket from The Magic Blanket for my kids to try out, and after using it for a week or so their bedtime routines were much less stressful. They’re awesome —...

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7 awesome page-turners your early readers really need to check out this summer

My kids are officially on summer break (I know, already!) so we’re hitting up the library ASAP to get started on our summer reading lists. My Kindergartner has made amazing strides this year with his reading, and these early reader books are all geared toward kids his age. So, if your kid is just giving up the picture books — or even still holding onto them tightly — but is more or less ready to move on to their first big kid chapter books, we’ve got 7 early reader summer reading books we think they’ll love. Because ours do. At top: Narwhal: Unicorn of...

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No way: Custom plush animals that look just like your actual pet.

A few years ago my kids tried out the cool service Budsies, which turns kids’ drawings into stuffed animals. They were so excited when their creations arrived, and they still have them in their beds today. So, when we heard that Budsies was launching a new company called Petsies, which creates a stuffed animal for you based on a photo of your pet, we were intrigued. Yes, it’s an interesting way for some people keep a memory of a pet around after they’ve gone to “join the circus” or “moved to the farm” or went to doggy or bunny heaven. Maybe you think that’s creepy, maybe you think...

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Hot trend alert: Rose sneakers are this summer’s new neutral

This summer we’re seeing a new trend that — I’ll admit — I was skeptical about at first. But now, I’m hooked. Rose-colored sneakers are everywhere. In fact, I’m declaring them the new neutral. The pretty, soft color dresses up our jeans-and-a-tee outfits, and I might even follow my daughter’s lead and start wearing them with casual dresses for a sporty look. So, here are 6 great rose sneakers I’ve found at some of my favorite shops, from Target to Barneys. A little something for every price range. CMP is an rstyle affiliate Related: Greek boho sandals: the fun summer trend anyone can pull...

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2017 EWG best safe sunscreens for kids and babies: Which is the most affordable?

Every year, I take a look at the Environmental Working Group’s report on the best safe sunscreens for kids and babies. This list measures popular brands against the EWG’s standards, including everything from worrisome ingredients to false marketing claims. Not every top-ranked tube of lotion is the same value for the dollar, though, so I’ve broken down all 19 of their best safe sunscreens for kids by price per ounce. Because I’ll bet there are other parents like me, who want safe products for their kids but don’t feel the need to spend more money than necessary. Top photo: © Kate Etue for Cool Mom Picks...

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8 tips and tricks you can start now to help your kids avoid the summer slide. Because, it’s coming.

Summer break will be here in just a minute, but there are some things you can start planning now to help make sure your kids don’t hit the summer slide on their reading and math skills over the break. Research shows that most kids lose about two months’ of learning over the summer — and have for the last 100 years or so. But by putting some simple (and, yes, even fun!) activities in place for the summer, you can help your kids retain what they’ve learned this year. We’ve polled everyone from teachers to administrators to BTDT parents to find...

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The quick-fix, natural bug bite remedy that really works. Really!

With the weather getting warming and my kids spending the afternoons playing outside, we’re starting to see a lot more bug bites on their tender, sensitive skin. Mean ones. The kind that turn bright red, itch like crazy, and keep them up at night. Ugh! But, I’ve found an incredibly easy, quick-fix, natural bug bite remedy that I’m itching (ha!) to share. Because, it really works! And you most likely already have everything you need to make it right in your pantry at home. Related: Your essential guide to the best, safe tick repellents for kids this spring. Because, eek. All you need...

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Damn you, Facebook ads: We tried the FLEX disposable tampon alternative, and here’s how it worked for us. In full detail (sorry).

I’m coming up on my 25thish anniversary of my first visit from Aunt Flo. And over that those 2.5 decades, I’ve had the same exact routine every month: tampons and pads. I wasn’t necessarily looking to spice things up in that department, but when I saw the ads on Facebook for a free trial box of FLEX disposable tampon alternatives, I figured, why not give them a try? And then share every sordid detail with the entire Internet. So, here’s how my tampon-free week went, so you can see if making the switch is right for you. FLEX: What is it? (No, really.) Okay, so...

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This Is How We Do It: The fabulous new book that teaches kids empathy while celebrating diversity.

One of the best ways our kids can learn empathy and celebrate diversity is to see the myriad of ways different people live their lives all around the world. Which is why I am loving the brand-new children’s book, This Is How We Do It, by Matt Lamothe. My kids get to see that their way of life isn’t the only way. And that’s a really important lesson. For us all. CMP is an rstyle affiliate Related: 9 lovely children’s books about the immigrant experience to help encourage more kindness and empathy. Related: The One Globe Kids app takes your children around the...

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A fun summer fashion trend anyone can pull off. Seriously, we’re obsessed.

We’ve been keeping our eyes on hot shoe trends lately (it’s hard work, but someone has to do it) and we’ve noticed a new look coming out of the Mediterranean that we’re completely obsessed with: tassel, lace-up, blinged-out boho sandals. These shoes are so fun, and the best part? They’re a hot summer fashion trend anyone can pull off. If you’re looking for a way to add some big personality to your summer style, check out these five boho sandals we’ve picked as our favorites. For each shop, click through and look around at all their styles. They’re all handmade, so each pair is...

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Should your kids be watching 13 Reasons Why? 15 must-read articles to help you figure it out.

Okay, parents. Let’s talk 13 Reasons Why and whether your kids should be watching it. Because, no doubt, your kids are doing just that. And now that it’s been picked up for a second season on Netflix, the question about whether your kids should watch it won’t be going away anytime soon. Now personally, I haven’t watched the series yet myself because after checking with the Common Sense Media review (which has a suggested age of 16+) and talking with my own trusted parenting friends, I’ve decided my 11-year-old is too young. Also, we’re getting word about entire schools sending out warning letters to parents,...

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An updated comparison of our 13 favorite custom photo book services, for one of our all-time favorite gifts

Since one of our very favorite Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and teacher gifts are custom photo books, we thought it was about time to take a fresh look at our favorite custom photo book companies. There are now so many out there, it can be hard to choose one service over another. That’s where we come in! We’ve researched and tried dozens of them, and we’ve narrowed down 13 of our absolute favorites, with a few details on what makes each one special. So, if you’ve got a few thousand photos sitting on your laptop like we do, it might be time to...

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Emojis, sly cats, and other cool kids’ leggings you won’t see everywhere on the playground

Hold on to your credit cards, mamas. Because we found some seriously cool kids’ leggings at The Trendy Tot Etsy shop. From magic 8 balls to emoji faces, these knee patches will add a ton of interest and personality to your kids’ wardrobe this spring. Let’s just say, we’re all in. CMP is an rstyle affiliate Related: Totally tubular 80’s clothes for rad babies, like, yours, you know? Related: 8 super cool swimsuits for picky tweens and teens that their mothers will approve of too. Sure, they’re priced a bit more than we’d ordinarily spend on a single pair of leggings....

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10 adorable handmade Mother’s Day cards from the kids that will totally melt Mom’s heart

My most favorite Mother’s Day cards are the ones my kids make themselves. Because, how can I resist an adorable handprint poster or toddler-style drawing of Mommy & Me? Heart is melting over here. So, I’ve checked out some of our favorite craft bloggers and DIY sites to find some creative ideas for handmade Mother’s Day cards from the kids. Maybe I’ll just leave the screen open to these so my kids will see them and get inspired to make some sweet Mother’s Day cards of their own. Hint, hint. At top: A fun, DIY, free printable Mother’s Day cootie catcher at Homan at Home...

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75+ of the best Mother’s Day brunch recipes you can prep the day before, cook at the last minute, or make with the kids

Mother’s Day is right around the corner, and so I’ve been searching for some really great brunch recipes. Good news is, between Cool Mom Picks and Cool Mom Eats, we’ve already found more recipes than we could ever cook in a lifetime, so we rounded them up in one place just for you. Whether you’re looking for a recipe you can prep ahead of time, a sweet treat for a thoughtful and delicious food gift, or even a mocktail (or cocktail) to make the day a bit more festive, we’ve got 75+ Mother’s Day brunch recipes the whole family will enjoy — all right here. At top:...

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