Author: Liz Gumbinner

After Manchester: Essential safety tips to discuss with your kids about crowds and separation

The second I saw those big pink balloons in early images flooding media from the Manchester Arena last night, without knowing a single other thing about the story, I thought, Oh my God…whatever happened, there are children there. It was a rough night for me, as I’m sure it was for all of you, and for parents around the world. It’s hard enough for us to process our own feelings as parents and as caring human beings when we hear about a terrorist attack, especially one that’s impacted so many children and families — let alone knowing we’re also going...

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Gwendolyn Brooks’s new children’s book offers a joyous lesson in empathy

Once in awhile, a children’s book comes along that’s equal parts timely and and classic, and that’s just how I’d describe the We are Shining, penned by the late poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner, Gwendolyn Brooks. It’s filled with exquisite but accessible words of hope, excitement and self-affirmation that even young children can understand and appreciate. And a message they could probably use these days, if they have a sense of some of the more troubling issues in the news lately. Related: What did Frederick Douglass really do? This book helps them (and a few adults) find out. What’s really special to me is how...

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The cast of Hamilton gets bigger and cuddlier

Of our entire 2016 holiday gift guide, by far one of the most popular gift ideas were the genius handmade Hamilton dolls by Christina of Etsy’s Bobeena Shop. What can we say, you all have good taste in artists — and game-changing Broadway musicals. Now she’s out with a few brand new characters to help round out the most adorable founding fathers (and mothers) around: John Laurens and Hercules Mulligan. Add them to favorites like the Schuyler sisters and Alexander Hamilton himself and you’ll have the most enviable pop culture doll collection on the planet right now. Related: The best Hamilton party theme ideas: Decor, invitations, treats, and...

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Getting kids excited about science: A chat with NPR Wow in the World hosts Guy Raz and Mindy Thomas | Spawned ep 76

Well, if Spawned with Kristen and Liz haaaaas to be beaten by someone in the Kids + Family podcast category, we’re happy it’s the new NPR podcast Wow in the World, a weekly science show “for kids and their grownups.” Especially because it’s hosted by two of our favorite people, Guy Raz and Mindy Thomas, who we’re excited to get to chat with this week! Join us for a lively, informative, and sometimes hilarious chat about how to get your kids excited about science, why science has gone from geeky to cool, how to answer the crazy questions kids always ask, whether or not our...

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The danger of fidget spinners: Miniature death traps! Or…not.

THE DANGER OF FIDGET SPINNERS is appearing all over our newsfeeds and splashing across subject lines flooding our inboxes. Hm, why are we not shocked? It was inevitable that the number of articles about the fidget spinner craze (hey, our kids are fans too), would be followed by an equal number of fidget spinner backlash articles. It started with all the reasons the toys could be distracting in classrooms (wait, a toy can be distracting?) and now we’ve moved onto full-on imminent danger. In case you’re starting to panic about the danger of fidget spinners,  I’ve put together what I think are some common sense suggestions as to how...

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Work after baby: Lauren Smith Brody’s tips for surviving with sanity and style | Spawned ep 75

How do you get back to work after having a baby without losing your mind? How in the world can you start looking — and feeling — human again when you feel anything but? How do you carve out me-time when it seems least likely? And the big one: Is it possible to ever get rid of mommy guilt when you’re a working mom? We’ve got answers! This week while Kristen was traveling (sniff) I was so fortunate to sit down for a fun, honest, and incredibly helpful chat on this week’s episode of Spawned with Lauren Smith Brody, former Glamour magazine...

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Build your own LEGO fidget spinner, await the gushing praise.

With the massive popularity of fidget spinners, it was only a matter of time before we found a DIY project for making your own. Fortunately this one doesn’t require an engineering degree or even a 3-D printer: Just some basic LEGO pieces. The very clever Sarah at Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls (F.K.A. Frugal Fun for Boys and my girls in particular thank her for the name change!) has put together a terrific tutorial on how to build your own LEGO fidget spinner. Click over and find detailed photos, step-by-step directions, and even links to purchasing the right round tiles and...

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The best and worst states for working moms: A whole lot of surprises | Thinking: Parent

Reading the results of today’s WalletHub study on the best and worst states for working moms, well let’s just say that this working mom’s eyes are wide open: 70% of moms with children under 18 are employed, so this is info that really impacts our country as a whole. There’s some great news in the study…and then some states that make me want to storm the governors’ offices and state legislatures, and go all Gloria Steinem on them. The WalletHub methodology is pretty fascinating, at least for a data nerd like me. (And for these purposes, let’s just establish that “working mom” means...

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12 fantastic gifts for stepmothers on Mother’s Day. Because we love them too. | Mother’s Day Gift Guide

We certainly couldn’t forget to include cool gifts for stepmothers in our Mother’s Day Gift Guide this year. After all, for a lot of us, Mother’s Day is a chance to give thanks to all the nurturing women in our lives who have helped make us who we are — and that includes grandmother, mothers-in-law, godmothers, and of course, stepmothers. Whether your stepmother raised you like her own child, whether she’s a dedicated grandmother to your own children, or whether she’s simply another fabulous female in your life you rely on for love and support, we hope these gifts for stepmothers on Mother’s Day are a small way to honor a very...

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The Princess Bride turns 30! Have fun storming the theaters.

Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautifulest ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles. Really, what’s not to love about The Princess Bride? Nothing, is the answer. There’s nothing not to love. Back in my single days, I even had a Princess Bride Test in which any prospective suitor who “didn’t get the big deal about it” was automatically out. And now — and yes, I know I’m not the first to make this joke...

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7 important things to do before a career change or starting a business

As someone who left a full-time advertising career behind to become a writer, website publisher, and public speaker — all while raising tiny children, all while being the sole earner in my household  — I totally get how scary it is to change courses. It is! It’s scary! But, there are times that opportunities fall in your lap, passions make themselves known, and big dreams call so loudly, you just can’t ignore them. So, I’ve put together some of my own favorite real world tips for a few important things to do when you’re embarking on a career change or starting...

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One Star Wars gift we want the whole world to buy. May the Fourth be with you!

We are clearly not unbiased when it comes to everything Star Wars, but when there’s a totally perfect Star Wars gift to celebrate May the Fourth and it happens to support one of our own team, we’re all over it. And you should be too. Can’t wait for The Last Jedi? You’re in luck!   Uh. So I’ve been keeping secrets from you… #Phasma A post shared by Delilah S. Dawson (@delilahsdawson) on Apr 14, 2017 at 2:39pm PDT Our own longtime contributor Delilah S. Dawson, also a popular author, girl power graphic novelist, hilarious Instagrammer and bona fide Star Wars junkie is...

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A teacher appreciation gift your kids will appreciate later. We hope.

If you’re looking for the perfect teacher appreciation gift, well, admittedly it may not be a mug. I’m well aware that most teachers probably have their share of them, though I’d like to think that’s because you can only own so many “World’s Greatest Teacher” mugs. On the other hand, I would totally make an exception for this grammar nerd mug. How perfect for the teacher who’s always correcting, “Yes, of course you can go to the bathroom, unless you’re having a medical issue. Are you wondering if you may go to the bathroom?” Related: We asked actual teachers for their favorite (and least favorite) teacher...

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Inspirational quote art for your home office: 14 amazing quotes to encourage amazing women

She believed she could so she did. My very favorite inspirational quote. The first time I saw it, not long after I had graduated college, it was printed on a funky wooden brooch by an artist at a craft fair. I pinned it to a jacket, and wore it for ages. From then on, it was like…it was mine. I claim it! (Even though I’ve been told it was penned by R.S. Grey, from her book, Scoring Wilder.) Now, I repeat it to myself like a mantra, whenever I need a little boost. Hey, maybe that’s your favorite too. Maybe there’s another. Maybe you just haven’t found the one...

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A taco truck on every shoulder

While I’d personally be thrilled to have a taco truck on every corner (especially those ones from Austin, mmm…), I would happily settle for this hilarious taco truck lunch tote dangling from my shoulder. Especially because it doesn’t have to be a lunch tote at all; just wear it as a handbag and bask in that 2017 zeitgeist. Related: The taco truck playhouse for kids not satisfied with those boring castles. For the price, I can’t imagine it’s made of genuine nappa leather (or anything even remotely close to that). But then, for the cost of a few tacos pollo con mole — or two tickets...

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15 of our very favorite personalized gifts for mom | Mother’s Day Gift Guide 2017

We remember when personalized Mother’s Day gifts meant monogramming a tote bag for her months in advance and spending a fortune to do it. Now, there are so many cool personalized gifts for mom (and Grandma and your mother-in-law too) that make a gift a lot more special — but not necessarily much more spendy. So take a look at our picks this year for cool personalized gifts for moms of all kinds, whether they’re from you, or you’re shopping “for” the little ones. And don’t forget the best one of all — a hand-signed Mother’s Day card. Of course....

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Exquisite Mother’s Day jewelry ideas that glitter and give back: Our fave!

You all know what fans we are of gifts that give back, especially this time of year. And of course, we can never say no to fab jewelry gifts. (Hint to the SigOths and children, ahem.) So we are thrilled to welcome our sponsor, Guilded Grey, which makes stylish, vintage-inspired jewelry that’s so wearable, you can find something in the shop for any mom in your life. In fact, we’ve included them in our Mother’s Day gift guides in the past, that’s how much we love them! Most of the collection includes one-of-a-kind, handmade layered necklaces, all crafted from vintage chains,...

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We found the most adorably modern, modest, mix-and-match swimsuits for kids. So many problems solved!

Each spring, one of our readers’ favorite posts is our recommendations for cute, modest swimsuits for girls that are stylish but not…you know…a little old for them. We’ll have our latest version coming soon! But in the meanwhile, I’m so excited to share this brand new swimsuit line for kids that launched today. From our friends at mom-run Primary, whose wonderfully wearable, affordable basics for kids and babies pretty much fill my girls’ closet these days, there’s now an awesome line of swimwear for girls and boys that will make a picky swimsuit-searching parent dance with glee. You’ll find a colorful, kid-appropriate collection...

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The most fabulous indie Mother’s Day gifts from women makers + shops | Mother’s Day Gift Guide 2017

This year, we’ve been feeling like moms are in need of a lot of love. As in, more than usual. So for 2017, we wanted to kick off our annual Mother’s Day gift guide with fabulous gift ideas as always (would you expect anything less?) that will not only delight any special mom in your life, but will do some good for an indie business, small maker, or woman-run business. While we wholeheartedly admit that nothing gives us more joy on Mother’s Day than handmade cards from our kids, and maybe some coffee in bed, a very close second would be...

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Go forth and reinvent! 10 terrific resources for women ready for a career change or entrepreneurship.

We know a little something about reinvention after motherhood and women entrepreneurs. Hey, Kristen did an entire TedX talk about it! And I’ve made a few career switches myself — finally landing on this sweet gig that Kristen and I created for ourselves. The best part is, Cool Mom Picks has allowed us to support so many other entrepreneurial women who have found themselves in similar situations, wanting to embark on a new business venture that will enable them to wake up every day feeling excited. Just like we do. So we’re always down to share any companies, organizations, or resources that for women entrepreneurs — and not just...

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