Author: Lexi Petronis

9 of the coolest, prettiest 2017-18 school year planners to get you and your family on the same page

As much as I love the convenience and ease of digital calendar apps, I’m in the market for a brand new 2017-18 school year planner, because I’m a paper planner girl at heart. I always get a little thrill when it’s time to get a new one,  and that time is now! Because the best 2018 planners tend to start in August or September of 2017 in them to coincide with back-to-school busyness. Here are some of our favorites, from sassy to sweet. Make a date (heh!) to order one ASAP though, because your fall schedule is going to...

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Color-your-own backpacks and bags that let your kids be the designer

Any parent who has walls, floors, tables, refrigerators, windows, or slips of important paperwork knows: If it’s even slightly colorable, a kid will color it. So having extra things around that are supposed to be colored is always a good idea, and that’s just one of the reasons we’re all over the back-to-school coloring accessories from a CMP favorite company, OMY Design + Play. Related: Crazy-affordable back-to-school gear for preschoolers OMY is a cool woman-owned Parisian business that creates color-your-own items like placemats, puzzles, and posters with fantastically fun graphics. And now it’s bringing your kids creativity to a new line of color-your-own...

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Coach’s space-themed bags and wallets are out of this world. (Yeah, we said it.)

As if we weren’t legitimately excited enough already about the total solar eclipse on August 21, the limited edition Coach Space collection has us over the moon — so to speak. Because now we have an excuse to buy some of the coolest space-themed bags and accessories on the planet. At least if we have a few spare hundreds lying around the house. CMP is an rstyle affiliate Related: An amazing kids’ book about the trailblazing women of space exploration   This Phone Wallet is so sleek and cool with that retro space shuttle patch. Its slim design fits all...

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How good are the $3 beauty products from Brandless? An honest review.

I like to keep things simple when it comes to shopping for beauty products, but I have to admit that it’s far from easy. I want high-quality, conscientious beauty products and I want them inexpensive. (A big ask, right?) That’s why I was intrigued to order a few items from the new online concept store Brandless on my own dime and see if their beauty products are everything I hoped they’d be. This just-launched online grocery store was co-founded by former BabyCenter Chairman, entrepreneur and friend of CMP Tina Sharkey, who seeks to reinvent shopping for household essentials. Related: 3 of...

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Oh just a Blink-182 drum and a Chance the Rapper dirt bike for auction to support St. Jude’s

Usually, the amazing feeling you get when you donate to a cause you care about is enough reason to do it. But if that cause you care about just happens to be hosting an auction featuring items like signed instruments and band memorabilia, well — don’t mind if we do! That’s where Music Gives to St. Jude Kids comes in to support one of our very favorite non-profits in the world, And we’re here for it. Related: Charitable donations that support children and education This eBay for Charity auction lists truly cool music memorabilia, like a customized snare by Shinedown drummer...

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A dad created this awesome makeup brand to empower his daughter. And all of us too.

It’s not often that you’ll find a makeup brand that celebrates who women already are instead of making promises as to what women should be. But when Bill Xaing’s daughter was born, he realized that he could do something to change that. So he created RealHer Makeup, a cosmetics brand specifically designed to inspire and empower women—like the one his daughter will grow up to be. Related: Empowering gifts for girls who keep on keeping on Xiang, a cosmetics industry veteran, explains on the RealHer website that when Yarie was born, he realized he was a feminist. “It was striking to...

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5 pool rules for kids that everyone should commit to memory.

Sometimes, I think kids have a button in their heads –like in the movie Inside Out — and it gets pressed whenever they see water. When activated, it’s like this button overrides all rational thought with POOOOOOOL! the second they see one. That’s why it’s important to etch some essential pool rules for kids into their brains from moment they’re old enough to step into the shallow end without you — so they’ll remember and adhere to important safety rules, no matter how immersed in splashy fun they might be. While we’ve put together 11 pool safety tips in the past, we’re condensing here...

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Cool hard-side kids’ luggage: 9 options that might get them to carry their own bags

There are few better moments for traveling families than the day your child is ready to carry their own luggage through the airport! (Can I get a woot?!) I’ve put together some fantastic hard-side luggage for kids that makes for fantastic first-time luggage, whether they’re a tot or a young teen. I wanted options that were rugged enough for the beating kids can give all of their items, but something fun and cool enough that they’ll want to grab it before you can even ask them to yourself.  Now that’s a win! CMP is an rstyle and Amazon affiliate...

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A mermaid pillow so mesmerizing, your kids just might choose it over an iPad.

Mermaid fever is at fever pitch for my kids and probably yours too. So when we heard about mermaid pillows, well. Turns out, they’re truly magical in the most unexpected of ways. Mermaid Pillow Co. calls its puffy creations (which, by the way, are not all mermaids) positivity pillows because of the positive action-driven words on the front (imagine, believe, discover). But the real draw is the silky sequins on the back that change color when you run your fingers over them. The sequins are super responsive to touch, so you can easily write or draw anything you want. And...

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The Star Wars: A Force Awakens Monopoly set was missing Rey. Then one little girl changed that.

When Hasbro’s new Star Wars: A Force Awakens Monopoly set came out in late 2015, fans discovered something was missing. Well, someone was missing: Rey. And one 8-year-old wasn’t okay with that. (And honestly, neither were we.) So Annie Rose Goldman wrote Hasbro a letter, which her mom tweeted to the company, explaining how critical it was to include Rey in the all-male token set. Without her, THERE IS NO FORCE AWAKENS! It awakens in her” she wrote, echoing so many of our own feelings. She ended her plea with: Girls matter! Boy or girl, who cares? We are all...

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Summer ice activities. They’re so hot right now.

During these dog days of summer, when there’s really no other word to describe the heat but “blergh,” we parents have to think way beyond the sprinklers and water balloons that we’ve been relying on to keep our kids cool (and occupied). It’s time to seriously up the ante with summer ice activities. And when we started looking around, we found some really creative, smart ideas. They’re science-y, pretty to look at, fun to play with, easy to clean up, and — importantly — chilly to the touch. Let’s do this. At top: Go Fish Water Play | Let...

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The coolest lanyard pattern instructions that every camper needs.

Lanyards are a summer camp mainstay — remember making them back in the day? But like so many things from our own childhoods, these knotted summer crafts have only gotten way cooler. Lanyards (also called scoubidous, scoobies, boondoggles, scooby doggles, gimps, and rexlaces, among other things, which makes for an interesting Googling experience) are made with strips of flexible, colorful plastic, resulting in neat designs. After poking around and trying some out — see the ones at the very top, I did those with zero experience; cool, right? — I settled on these tutorials for the coolest lanyard patterns...

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Scaring your friends: The best part of summer!

If you thought Michael Phelps racing a great white was the summer’s biggest shark-in-a-pool news, that’s because you haven’t seen this hot water accessory yet. Yes. It’s a wearable shark fin. We know our own aquaphiles will get themselves into a frenzy the second they see them, so be prepared if you’ve got a kid reading over your shoulder right now. Related: The coolest pool floats for the whole family (dibs on the chocolate donut)  Just know the shark fins aren’t flotation devices, they’re scare-your-friends-in-the-pool devices, made with lightweight foamy material and adjustable straps to fit swimmers of all sizes....

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Cool crafts you probably never knew you could do with pool noodles.

When researching our post about the coolest water activities for your yard, I noticed something pretty awesome: pool noodles are the hot crafting supply of the season. Maybe it’s because they’re only $1 each (or less) at dollar stores, or because their versatile texture are ideal for shape-shifting, but whatever the reason, cool pool noodle crafts for kids are everywhere. And they are awesome. From games and activities to art and decor, here are some of the most creative uses of pool noodles we’ve ever seen. At top: Pool Noodle Printing | Alisa Burke Related: Fun summery crafts for...

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12 fun, creative 4th of July crafts for older kids who have outgrown fingerpainting.

We’ve seen so many 4th of July crafts over the years, and admittedly, my own bag of craft tricks for the kids can use some freshening up. So I’ve scoured the web and tracked down some really creative (and relatively easy) 4th of July crafts for kids who have outgrown the kinds of things they did in preschool. In fact, they probably haven’t made most of these before, making them that much more exciting. Whichever you pick, you really can’t go wrong. From string art, to wind chimes to creative jewelry making, one thing I can guarantee is that...

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The new Crayola nail polish by Sally Hansen: Sorry kids, these are just for us.

As parents, we’re familiar with colorful crayon masterpieces pinned to our walls and, let’s be honest, on our walls. But on our nails? Shut the front door. Sally Hansen has teamed up with Crayola to launch Crayola Insta-Dri Nail Polish in 12 of their crayon shades. So now you too can color in the lines — of your nails — with Denim, Granny Smith Apple, Razzmatazz, or Vivid Violet when the new collection comes out on July 1. Sorry, no Burnt Sienna. Related: Kate Spade’s new bag is putting a taco truck on every shoulder The Crayola nail polish will dry in a...

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6 essential sleepaway camp packing tips to keep you organized and sane (if not a little sad)

If your kid is going to sleepaway camp this summer — especially if it’s for the first time — your family is probably dealing with a lot of organizational kerfuffles right about now. Not the least of which is packing. Even though your camp will send its own checklist of “what to bring” and “what not to,” you’re still going to have plenty of questions. So we rounded up some sleepaway camp packing tips to help make it all much easier. That way, there’s less time to worry, and more time for what really matters: Lots of pre-camp hugs....

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23 of the coolest mermaid party ideas we adore. Fin-tastic!

Mermaids are big with kids. In other news, water is wet.  So of course, mermaid parties are big with kids and honestly, with us adults too. In fact, this mermaid trend has legs. (So to speak.) And that means if you’re looking for amazing mermaid party ideas for an under-the-sea theme, we’ve got you covered with the best of the web, from cool mermaid invitations to decorations, food and activities. Let’s dive right in, shall we? At top: Mermaid slime | Darby Smart CMP is an rstyle and Amazon affiliate Related: Magical ideas for unicorn birthday parties  Mermaid party ideas: Invitations Everything oceany,...

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Star-spangled slime: The perfect 4th of July DIY for kids.

My kids are way into slime — and by “way into,” if you’re a parent, I’m pretty sure you know exactly what I mean. So of course I wanted to create a 4th of July slime recipe that would appease them. We’ve tried almost every safe, Borax-free slime recipes we’ve come across, from shaving cream and saline solution to chia seeds and corn starch, before we figured out what works best for us. Related: Creative Fourth of July crafts and activities for kids (no sparklers in sight)     How to make your own DIY Fourth of July slime: I...

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5 incredibly clever ways to transport wine safely to picnics

Summer means picnics, and picnics mean wine! Well, okay — picnics mean an awful lot of good things, like family and fun and memories and sunshine. But for you wine-drinkers, a nice Rosé or Prosecco can have its own special place in a picnic, and we’re all for getting that bottle to your picnic destination safely. So let’s give a toast to these clever ways to transport wine to picnics. Bottoms up! At least, if your city’s open container laws allow. CMP is an rstyle affiliate Related: Outdoor dining gear essentials for perfect picnics   We’ve loved these Wine Sippy...

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