Check out our article published in L.A. Parent highlighting the Toy Trends for 2019. Click below to read full article.
We’re excited to share two of our newest NAPPA Awards book winners.
Meet Ditty Bird, an adorable bird who loves to sing and will take your little one on a musical journey of playful learning. This charming musical book collection is educational, interactive and fun for inquisitive babies and toddlers. Promotes early language and fine motor skills, auditory development, music appreciation and bonding. Each board book has a “music” button on each page, which triggers one of six captivating tunes, sung by children. $16.49, ages: 1 – 3.
Knights Club: The Bands of Bravery is a middle-grade graphic novel series that makes your child the valiant hero of a fantasy quest—pick your panel, find items, gain abilities, solve puzzles and play through new storylines again and again. This book combines two loved genres: graphic novels and stories that allow readers to choose their own adventures. $9.99, ages: 8 – 12.
Looking for a gift focused on healthy living? We got some great ideas for you!
The OttLite Wellness Series Glow Lamp is designed with eye health in mind. Part of OttLite Technologies, Inc.’s healthy lighting options, the sleek lamp is designed to mimic natural daylight and reduce eye fatigue. The touch button offers three levels of light from soft to medium to bright. A good option for a homework nook or home office. $89.99.
These little guys are an adorable solution to providing heating and cooling comfort for kids. Thermal-Aid Zoo comes in a variety of cute and versatile animals to select from. The hippo, monkey, bear, koala, rabbit or elephant can be thrown into the freezer or the microwave to alleviate minor injuries. Animals are 100% natural cotton on the outside and the inside is made of specifically engineered corn, to help eliminate potential odor or mold that most natural therapeutic packs get. Animals are washable, allowing repeated use. $19.95, ages 3+
Good for relieving back and neck pain or sports injuries. The Thermal-Aid Heating and Cooling Packs are available in various sizes and shapes to correspond with the specific body part that is affected. Made of 100% natural cotton on the outside, and specifically engineered corn on the inside. The packs are washable, allowing frequent use. Sizes include small, medium and large sectional pad, small pillow shape, tube shape and eye mask shape intended for headache pain. $36.95-49.95.
The Thermal-Aid Headache Relief System is a natural system that helps relieve migraine and muscle tension headaches. Kit includes a topical analgesic, Headache Relief Cream, that is applied directly to forehead, as well as a Cold Press Eye Pack that blocks light and applies subtle pressure to ease forehead and temple tension. $19.95.
Parents, Kyle & Courtney Minarsky designed Bundle of Dreams for their own daughter. The eco-friendly, hypoallergenic, breathable mattresses come with an organic cotton cover with an eco-friendly water repellent overlay which is removable and machine washable. Their core material is a new blend of polyester called Bundle Fiber, providing comfort and no VOC’s. $199; ages Birth +
#Holidays #Gifts #PlayLearnConnect #Parenting #HealthyLiving
We have some great products for your back-to-school shopping list!
500+ Sight Words Flash Cards Bundle Kit
Think Tank Scholar Sight Words Flashcards help children learn and practice reading the most common words found in a children’s book. Comes in a set of 500 basic words designed to make learning fun for young learners with a non-distracting design and large bold print that helps students automatically recognize words. The flash cards are made from high quality card stock with a smooth laminated coating and rounded edges for easy sorting and handling. Each pack comes with 100+ sight words to help prepare students from grades Pre-K through 3rd grade. Each pack comes with a sequence of six teaching techniques and six fun educational games for kids.
For kids 3-9
Back to School Label Packs
Mabel’s Labels is North America’s leading provider of waterproof, personalized labels for all the stuff kids lose at daycare, school and camp. These Back-to-School Label packs are durable and adorable. They are dishwasher and laundry safe and guaranteed to withstand the toughest conditions. They’re perfect for putting your child’s name on all of their things that leave the house, from shoes, clothing, and backpacks, to lunch containers and school supplies. Just peel and stick. Labels are made in Canada and the USA and backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee and standard shipping is always FREE!
Starting at $18.99
For kids 0-10
Milo & Gabby Toddler Animal Shaped Backpack
The adorable Milo & Gabby friends are now on-the-go. The Milo & Gabby Animal-shaped Toddler Backpacks are perfectly sized for young kids and fully insulated. They are brought to life with 3-D details, including soft stuffed tails. Take Lola, Dylan, Tom or Lucy with you anywhere to carry your toys, snacks and lunch. Features detachable safety strap for freedom on excursions, reflective trim detail for extra safety during dark, cloudy and/or rainy outings, front chest strap to keep shoulder straps in place and 3-D air mesh padded adjustable shoulder straps and backboard for breathable cushioned comfort.
For kids 18 months-4 years
Petit Collage Back to School Bundle
The Petit Collage backpacks and lunch boxes come in a variety of fun designs and are eco-friendly. The wipeable cotton canvas exterior is coated with a protective, solvent-free biodegradable laminate made from sugar cane. The 12 oz. lightweight stainless-steel bottle is vacuum insulated keeping drinks cold for 12 hours. The backpack features a side mesh exterior pocket which fits the matching water bottle perfectly and the lunch box is easily wiped clean of crumbs and leaks. They are all BPA, PVC, and Phthalate-free. This Back-to-School Bundle is perfect to start off a new school year.
For kids 3+
Bento Value Pack
Packing healthy school lunches just got a little easier with the Bento Value Pack by Stuck on You. Your kids will especially love the personal touch of a cute design and their name. The Bento Value Pack comes with everything you need to pack healthy school lunches — personalized Bento Box, insulated Lunch Cooler Bag designed to perfectly fit into the Bento Box.
For the entire family
Tot Cot® Daycare/Preschool Nap Mat
As kids get ready for daycare or preschool, The Tot Cot is a cozy and convenient alternative to the “pillow and blanket” required for families to bring. Includes a pillow, sewn-in-fleece blanket and a slim quilted lining. Easy to roll up with handle to carry. Elastic bands secure the nap mat to daycare cots and mats. Comes with a secret pocket to tuck in your child’s best pal from home. Comes in a variety of fun patterns.
For kids 2-4
Nalgene Grip and Gulp with Cover
When on the go, the Nalgene Grip and Gulp with Cover is a perfect way to keep your kids hydrated. As with all things Nalgene, the bottle is incredibly durable to drop or toss in a backpack or diaper bag, BPA- and BPS-free and dishwasher safe. Leak-proof and durable “sippy”12-ounce bottle for toddlers with a germ sleeve that pops on and off! Made in the USA (Rochester NY).
For kids 12 months to 5 years
#PlayLearnConnect with #NAPPAAwards
What should I make for dinner? That’s a question all of us moms ask. Every night, sometimes. That’s why we were really excited for Aurora Satler’s The Ultimate New Mom’s Cookbook, a recent NAPPA winner. Helping parents gain knowledge about prenatal nutrition while creating delicious and nutritious recipes for babies, kids and adults are just a few of the reasons we love this cookbook. With help from certified nutritionist Allison Childress, Satler was able to create both an informative and creative book of recipes. We recently chatted with Satler about the challenges of being a new mom and the simplicities of creating delicious meals for her family.
Get a first look inside Satler’s new book with these two incredible recipes: Click HERE
What was your biggest inspiration for writing this cookbook?
There is so much information to be absorbed as a first time parent. When I had my son, I found it a little daunting to suddenly have to be up-to-date on all the best baby gear, sleep techniques, developmental milestones, not to mention nutrition. I wanted to create one book for new parents to answer all their food questions, offer great recipes that work for the whole family and keep all the key information so that it was readable at a glance. I also wanted the book to be enjoyable and reminiscent of the spirit of childhood. That’s why all the colors are bright and cheerful and the copy brief and humorous whenever I could manage. Parenting is a challenge – this book should be a helpful and fun resource.
If new parents don’t enjoy cooking but want to feed their children home cooked meals, what advice would you give to inspire them to cook?
You really don’t have to cook every meal and it shouldn’t be a chore. A family meal is the way to go and dinner is usually the best one to strive for in our moving society. I actually set the portions of my meals so that cooking dinner also provides enough leftovers for lunch the next day. You need to maximize your time as a parent so aim for meals that go further to feed the family.
Parents with multiple children can have trouble satisfying everyone’s tastes. What are some of your best tips for cooking for the whole family?
Everyone has different tastes but I’ve learned to separate a lot of meals into their component parts. This works well for different ages and different kids. My son prefers to be fed and my baby daughter wants to do it all herself. She’s more adventurous for different textures, ingredients and flavors. My son likes to watch what everyone is eating and decide what he will try and what he maybe wants to look at but not eat immediately.
For example: if I make chicken enchiladas, I can serve my husband and myself the full enchiladas. For my daughter I can pick out some of the cooked chicken and rice and avocado as finger food. For my son, I ask if he wants to eat the enchilada or if he wants a burrito bowl where I would serve him the rice and chicken with mashed up avocado that he can easily eat with a spoon. Even if my son is in a picky mood, all the cooked components are things I can offer him for his dinner. I also always give him one meal component he loves so he wants to sit down to eat, even if it is just dried cranberries or a special yogurt cup. He sees that one thing he loves at his place and will start eating. At that point, I know I can entice him to eat a more complete meal.
When did you realize you had a passion for cooking?
My family has always loved food. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest where my Grandma grew the best raspberries and sugar snap peas and my parents took me crabbing and clamming as soon as I could toddle along. We ate the freshest meals: grilled salmon that my uncle had caught on the beach, pies my grandmother baked with her own apples and all the millions of meals my mom created to expand my tastes into other nationalities and flavors.
Once children start attending school, meals on the go become staples for many households. How do you meal prep to make sure your children are eating nutritious and delicious food when mealtime is away from home?
For kids eating away from home, I think it is really important to make meals accessible. Meals on the go and meals at school should be easy to eat and not messy. Finger foods or simple food to spear are perfect and there are so many nutritious options. I also try to pack more meals that are good cold or served room temperature since not all schools have the ability to rewarm food. That doesn’t mean food has to be bland. You can pack smoothies, you can pack pasta salads with veggies, fun dips, etc. Just give it a trial run at home and make sure you’re packing in an easy to use container. Kid bento boxes are a good choice.
Growing up, what were some of your favorite family recipes or traditions?
I love food holidays. Thanksgiving will always be a favorite for me and even when my son was born a week before the holiday, I mapped out my meal to lay out an entire spread to host my family after his birth. Okay- not expecting anyone else to do that but that made me feel happy that year. Communal meals give so much more than nourishment, they bring happiness and a sense of family and togetherness. We always had family picnics and birthdays and holidays growing up. I want that for my kids. I want them to be able to have not only a full plate but a full circle of support as they go through life’s ups and downs. Food at its best brings people together.
As a busy parent with a passion for your family and your career, you probably know that despite your love to cook, life can sometimes get in the way. What tips do you have for situations where parents don’t have the time to cook?
Keep a stocked pantry and freezer. Every parent runs into busy stretches. I often roast trays of vegetables and freeze the extras. A good toaster oven is perfect for warming small portions. In a stocked pantry, you can keep gnocchi, fresh pasta, beans, rice and so many components of fast and family friendly meals. Stocking a pantry is also great before you go on a family trip. That way when you return you always have something to eat with minimal effort and no grocery trip.
I also think meal prep is important for all families. In my book I try to offer examples of things that take the same amount of time to cook so that if you have an oven going you can make 2-3 easy dishes in the same amount of time. It is about maximizing the results and minimizing the time.
Families sometimes follow gluten free, vegetarian, or vegan lifestyles. How can parents effectively create nutritionally complete meals for their families using these lifestyles as guidelines?
I offer a lot of these options in the book. I find most families who follow these lifestyles get creative themselves and the food industry is responding well to meet these various nutritional needs. One category of food that I feel meets most of these needs however are curries. Using rice as the base and creating a broth rich in coconut milk and stock, you can add in nut butters for protein and a myriad of vegetables. The best is that they are also one pot meals that taste better over time and are perfectly adaptable for families. The coconut milk is also a real hit with a lot of kids and you can spice according to your family’s preferences.
New parents often suffer from a lack of sleep and exhaustion. What gave you motivation to keep cooking when you were in these situations?
I don’t sleep. It’s a laugh but I always tell my friends if you ever see me come out with a book on sleep techniques that I’ve gone off the deep end and not to buy it. My kids eat great but I’ll be the last to advise on sleep. I cook because it makes me feel better, it gives me energy and good food begets sleep (even if you can’t enjoy it yourself). When you have kids you see that everything is cyclical–a good meal often results in a good nap which then can lead to a good meal and so on. When something falls off–you have to work from all angles to get back to a better schedule. When you eat well, you feel better and your body can perform more optimally. You also just feel better when you eat well and are eating more nutritious food. As a little hack, I make my lunches the night in advance. That way even if breakfast is a moving target, I’ve set myself up for a great meal in the middle of the day to keep me going.
As your children grow older, what steps do you want to take to inspire them to eat healthfully and even learn to cook by joining you in the kitchen?
My son grocery shops with me and I answer all his questions (he’s 3 so he asks a LOT of questions). I also let him pick off my plate even if I know he won’t eat something. I encourage him to try new foods and he has a complete toy set to cook with me from his own knife, cutting board, as well as fruits and vegetables he can cut in half with his play knife (these are blunt toys).
When there’s something he can help with that is safe I always let him: mixing batter, spinning salad, pushing the buttons on the blender to mix a smoothie. He’s been the inspiration for this cookbook and when I told him about this award he told me “It’s my award mommy, not yours”… he might be a little competitive.
What advice would you give to parents whose children are picky eaters?
Keep trying. Most kids aren’t picky 100% of the time and will go in phases where they are more experimental. Even if they don’t finish something nutritious, have them try it. Have them try it frequently. Don’t try to make it into a battle but also let them see you eating a full and varied diet as well.
What are your most valuable takeaways from working with a nutritionist on your book?
Allison was incredible to work with and such an asset for the book. We both are moms and both work with food but see a plate in a different way. I see flavors and ingredients I want to share with my kids and she sees nutrition building blocks to raise a healthy family. She was exceptional as well because she also has a background in prenatal nutrition which is a key component of this book.
Meet Michele Liddle, founder of The Perfect Granola and NAPPA 2018 Winner
While creating The Perfect Granola I worked fulltime as a Business Development Manager for an Electric Motor Shop traveling during the day to accounts in the Erie PA, Buffalo, NY and Rochester, NY areas. I had 2 small daughters ages 2 and 5 while developing the company (they are now 3 and 7) and volunteered at our local food pantry. I am a very active adult and workout at least 4-5 days per week, so I had a lot on my plate, but knew I could do more to help the hungry children and families in our community and if I planned it right, I could help alleviate the poverty that fuels our hunger issue.
While volunteering at our local food pantry, I would watch mothers select their weekly bounty for their families and it broke my heart to see that they could not afford to buy organic and healthy foods at the typical grocery store. There were very little gluten-free and NON-GMO options, so I brainstormed how I could help. The Perfect Granola began as a dream; I envisioned a company where I could share the profits and food with the hungry and create opportunities to employ those in need so they can break the poverty cycle that fuels our hunger issue.
I grew up in a normal household with a solid foundation. During my early 20’s I was a bartender to fund my culinary education and would host “misfit holidays” where everyone from the community who didn’t have a place to go for the holiday was welcome to my apartment to have a good meal and a sense of togetherness. This was really where my love of food and community started. I have always wanted to do something to make a difference in the world and after developing my professional career, I finally had the experience and confidence to start my own company where I could give back.
I have personally witnessed myself, and through friends and family, what it is like to have ends not meet. There were times that I could not afford groceries and still times where I want to provide better for my children. I also know that allergies to gluten, dairy, and soy do not discriminate against the poor; when those in need go to a shelter or to a food pantry, they are only allowed the food that is provided, and in some cases, this food makes them feel even worse. Furthermore, requirements like a degree and experience prohibit hard-working individuals living in poverty the opportunity to succeed and break the poverty cycle. Because these individuals are not given the same opportunities as others, this cycle continues and puts greater stress on these families and our economy as a whole. Companies need to do more to create a positive workplace and inclusion for ALL so that our communities can thrive.
I want to show my daughters that anything is possible. Sometimes people come up to me and say they don’t have the time to work out, or volunteer, or to start something great; my answer to them is that everyone has the time to do what is most important to them. It is important to me to show my girls that no matter what, EVERYONE should have the same opportunities for success and if the drive and passion is there, anything is possible.
DO IT! Nothing is stopping you. Don’t wait for the right time, do it now while the idea is fresh and exciting. If you have questions or need guidance, reach out for help. Nothing great is ever easy, so you need to work for it, but anything is possible with a dream and a clear vision.
Mornings are tough, hahahaha… Having 2 young daughters there are fights and battles, but once they are off to daycare and school, my workday begins. I am still the only fulltime employee working in the company, so I do all the accounting, sales, marketing, shipping, receiving, ordering, recipe creation, warehousing… you name it, I do it. When there is a sick kid, life goes on and I either work from my home office or take them with me to meetings. I am very active in my community and attend as many networking events and political events as possible and am very active in my PTSA for the girls’ school as well. Family comes first, and it always will, so I am a parent volunteer in the classroom, I surprise the girls for lunch on occasion, drive them to soccer, gymnastics, swimming, parties, dance recitals, and everything else that comes with parenthood. I am also an indoor cycling instructor, so in the evenings and early weekend mornings, I teach cycling classes. I live by my calendar and each minute of each day is booked, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Get after it! ????
Get after it! ????
HAHAHAHAHA!!! Day off??? What’s that? ????
I can grow my company the way I want. Since I am making the decisions, everything we do is to better the community. Each and every decision is made with the long term success of both my company and my community. I love being able to make a difference while growing a successful company.
There are many. I have stumbled and failed so many times at both motherhood and business ownership, but these failures and “bad decisions” are what has defined my success. When I make a mistake, I am proud to say that I can confidently own it, learn from it, and move on. There will be many mistakes and failures in the future, but with each failure, comes a recovery like none other and that has been what has made me successful.
I love anything that makes my girls smile and laugh. If it’s a trip to the mall to ride the carousel, or a trip to the museum, or just curling up on the couch to watch a movie. Time spent together is the best time of my life.
Making a difference. We have recently been able to hire students living in poverty and give them real work experience before graduation so, when they do graduate high school, they have the skills for a brighter future. This makes me so proud and makes all the blood, sweat, and tears of entrepreneurship worth it. I can make a difference, and that is the best feeling ever.
Don’t be so wrapped up in what others think and live for today. I think sometimes we get so wrapped up in the fear of failure that it paralyzes us and prevents us from taking risks. Taking risks is when the best can happen and if you fail, fail fast so you can recover fast and move on. Failure is the best way to learn and the only way to succeed.
For more information on The Perfect Granola, click here.