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The Best Toddler Scooter

When our boys were two we had a 10 year old neighbor who was extremely cute and would come over to play with the boys most days after school. He would also ride his big kids scooters over thus inspiring a very early and obsessive love of scooters in the hearts and minds of certain twin boys. They could barely reach the handle bars of the big kid style razor scooter and if they managed to stand on the thing they would fall over immediately.  What we needed was a little kids scooter, a scooter for toddlers. Well, after exhaustive research on toddler scooters that consisted mainly of reading reviews on Amazon I ordered two Mini Kick Micro Scooters and a happy Birthday was had by all.

That’s Speedy circa 2005 on his new third birthday toddler scooter.  Yes, this scooter is manageable even for little kids. They have two wheels in the front, making it more stable. They stand up on their own and are not at all tippy. They have a brake on the back wheel, but I think the boys were 4 before they noticed it.

The greatest part of this scooter is the slow, easy turning, a feature I haven’t seen on any other scooter. Most have handlebars that actually turn, leading to accidental turning and then falling, tears and possible bleeding. The handlebars on this toddler scooter doesn’t turn. Instead, when you lean the wheels turn slightly to the right or left, causing slow, gentle turning. There are none of those sharp turns which lead to the aforementioned tipping and potential bleeding.

I love my boys, but I don’t think anyone would call them the most physically coordinated of children. They aren’t overly clumsy or anything, but I am not anticipating any Olympic medals in their future or anything. Well, I was astounded by how well they managed to actually use these toddler scooters from a very early age.

Click HERE for more information on the Mini Kick Scooter

So, if your little one is begging for their older sibling’s scooter, consider the Mini Kick Micro – now in pink too!

Well, summer might not be officially over just yet, but it’s close.  And living in a temperate climate such as we do, short winter days and long winter nights can drive both parents and kids alike a little bit batty.

Our two year old Princess always loved her doorway jumper as a toddler and loves swinging outdoors with her brothers in the summertime.  Mrs TR clued me into the unfathomable idea that you can actually install an indoor swing fairly easily and quickly.

NOTE: Improper installation of any kids swing, indoor or outdoor can lead to serious injury!  Make sure all attachment points at 100% secure and rated for the weight you’ll be subjecting the swing to.  Make sure the area around the swing is free of obstructions or obstacles at all times.

There are really only two basic things necessary for installing an indoor swing:

Item 1:  A Swing

There are many options here depending on how much you want to spend and the age of the child using the inside swing.  For a toddler swing, there are a couple of main options:

Toddler Swings:


The Fisher-Price Infant To Toddler Swing is a great value at $25 and is a good bet for most babies and smaller toddlers.  It comes with a movable tray which can make it easier to put little ones in and out of the swing.  It also comes with the ropes and hooks to attach it to properly installed swing brackets.  It does NOT come with any mounting hardware and it’s not easily reversible without taking down the swing and turning it around.  Also, there have been some reports of larger children almost flipping the swing forward by leaning forward at the top of a high swing.  These make it slightly less desirable than a commercial grade toddler bucket swing, but for the price, it can’t be beat.

31UJHCHxpoL._SS500_Commercial Bucket Swings are just like what you see at your traditional playground, made of  high strength plastic with an anti tipping metal attachment for the chain.  As with the Fisher Price seat model above, this one does come with the chains to hang it, but not with any brackets for attaching it to a beam or doorframe.  The chains here are vinyl coated to avoid any injuries due to pinched skin as the swing is in use.  At around $65, it’s not cheap, but it’s sturdy and not prone to tipping.  Certainly harder for kids to climb out of when you turn your back for that one second.

41BuKBDUrYL._SS400_The Airy-Fairy Baby SwingOk, if you want the ULTIMATE in baby/toddler swing style and comfort, then the Haba Airy-Fairy is the only way to go.  Support, comfort, and a giant parachute wing make this the only way to go for the discerning toddler.  Seriously though, it’s far more stylish, attractive, and adjustable than any of the other options for indoor swings, but the price may come as a shocker to some.  Click here to see the price on this Porsche of toddler swings.

Kids Swings:

410q5F3KarL._SS500_The Basic Plastic Kids Swing – There seem to be far nicer options for kids indoor swings than those for babies and toddlers.  For toddlers and babies, it seems that basic hard plastic is the only option.  And there are still hard plastic options for bigger kids.  For around $20 you can get a basic plastic kids swing, complete with vinyl coated chain.  Not all that much to say about it, it’s a swing.  Note that like all the other swings, hanging brackets are NOT included and must be purchased separately (see our picks below).

410EgcaKd6L._SL500_AA280_The Haba Swing Seat Ikarus is certainly a huge step up from the generic green plastic chain hung swing pictured above.  Made from strong polyester cloth filled with bean bag type stuffing, this is far more comfortable than most swings.  It comes complete with nylon wings to give your little one the feel that they are really flying inside.  Also, for an indoor swing, a chain probably is a little overkill and likely won’t fit into most decor.  Plus the irony of the name can’t be lost on anyone who has tried to swing so high that they actually flip over to the other side…

41o7COhB-FL._SS400_Haba Swinging Tent Cavern is much like the Airy Fairy toddler swing above in that it will certainly make your little ones jaws drop when the see it ready for their enjoyment.  It’s maximum load of 176 pounds could easily fit both our 6 year old boys, their little sister, and likely a couple of friends.  Of course, it has a price that will set you back a but, but it certainly wins for sheer awesomeness.

Item 2: Swing Hangers

Honestly, if you have a drill of any kind, cordless, corded, whatever, you’re fairly well qualified to mount a kids indoor swing.  First you need to score some swing hangers.  Really you have two basic choices.  Note, you won’t typically find these at your local Home Depot or Lowes for whatever reason, apparently they’re considered specialty items.  They’re pretty easy to order online from the following places.  Seriously, as long as you have a sturdy well built door frame or an exposed beam, you can mount an indoor swing set.

41gflyDyLvL._SL500_AA280_The Wood Screw Swing Hanger is what you need to use if you don’t have a fully exposed beam with which to hang from.  Basically you screw two of these into a door frame or beam at a distance slightly greater than the width of the swing, at bare minimum 20 inches apart.  If you are hanging in a door frame, about one to two inches from sides is a good bet.  Be absolutely sure you get a good bite into the wood of the door frame, not just the trim, using some nice long wood screws.  Note that these come as a pair, so you only need to buy one hanger for your swing.

41wLQnmz4-L._SS500_The 6 3/8 Nylon Bush Swing Hanger is what you want to be using if you have a fully exposed beam and/or are attaching to something other than wood.  You drill a full hole through your beam and thread this swing hanger right through, with the washer and nut on the top side taking up all the weight.  Just be VERY careful with the size of the hole you’re drilling, should be the same size as the swing hangers going through it to make sure the washer and nut on the other side can take the weight.

Do you have some pictures of an inside swing you’d like to share?  Let us know in the comments below!


Board Game Kids Sheep

I can’t type the name of this game without an exclamation point. You can’t just say the name Battle Sheep, it must be bellowed like a war cry!

Battle Sheep!

OK, maybe that is just me.

This is a delightful game that has been fun for our whole family and many friends ranging in age from 7 to 40-something.  It really doesn’t take more than 10 minutes to play, so even young kids (who in our house tend to get bored and wander off if a game lasts too long).

battlesheep2Strategy Game For Kids

It is a strategy game in which the object is to spread your flock out taking up more of the pasture than anyone else, without getting blocked in by your rival flocks. The best part of the game, in my opinion, is the expressions on the faces of the sheep. Each time features a different sheep and a few of them are hilarious. If funny sheep faces are amusing to you. They are to me.



Here is a helpful video explaining how to play if you, like me, find learning games from playing much easier than learning by reading the rules.

Battle Sheep – fun for everyone! And full of silly sheep!

Click on the picture of the crazy sheep to buy it from Amazon:

sheep tiles, battle sheep, board game

We have some close friends that live down the street from us that we car pool with to school every day and the kids are over at their house a couple times a week to play.

And without fail, every single time one or both of the boys will spend at least half an hour trying to do this ball maze puzzle game called Perplexis.

Perplexis takes a great twist on the traditional ball in a maze games where you would tilt and turn a flat two dimensional board trying to coax a small ball around obstacles and brings it into the third dimension.  You need to slowly rotate or rock or very very very gently shake the ball to make the little marble inside move further along the track or jump an obstacle.

There are no batteries required, no beeping or flashing or other general annoyances about the game.  At first glance it appears to be one giant maze when in fact it’s a bunch of different mazes all in the same ball, and there are multiple marbles in there too so once you master a couple of the mazes you can attempt the impossible and guide multiple metal balls through at the same time.

There are three different versions for different age ranges:

Of course, since the games are self contained with no exposed choking hazards you could certainly give the Epic version to a 4 year old, just don’t expect them to get very far toward solving it.

Note that your child needs to be old enough to understand that it’s not a ball to avoid breakage.  While not totally fragile, it’s not going to survive a toss in the air and a fall onto a tile floor without something breaking.   I know many six year old boys who probably would have a hard time controlling the impulse to throw a ball in the air or kick it across the room, so keep that in mind.


Best new baby bath tub

I really wish I had this tub when my kids were babies. It is brilliant, because what my babies hated about baths is being laid out on their backs in a traditional baby tub. This bucket design in this European Upright Baby Bath Tub is genius. The baby gets to stay upright, is held with their body in close together which is more comforting for the baby. Also,most of their body can be submerged keeping them warmer then when they are in the cold air and you have pour the water over them.

This would make a great baby gift. And, I was checking out new bath toys and this boon creatures interchangeable bath toy cup set is the best thing I’ve seen.

It is everything you want in a bath toy. Very open with no tiny cracks that will stay wet and get moldy. The act of pouring water into and out of cups is pretty much the greatest thing for younger kids – you would think something simple would get old but it never does!



The Best Balance Bikes

Balance bikes are the perfect way to introduce kids to bike riding. They don’t have brakes or pedals and are typically sized for kids 2 to 6. They develop the balance skills necessary for riding a bike and they have been shown to be a better way to learn to balance than training wheels on a regular bikes – I know five year olds who went right from their balance bike to a regular bike and skipped the training wheels altogether. The one seen above, the balance bike from Smart Gear is the one The Princess has (only hers is pink).

This Spring Fever balance bike is adorable too.

If you want more of a motorcycle vibe, this YBIKE balance bike may be for you.

And I also like the Kazam balance bike for its more traditional bike look. This may be the best choice for younger siblings who need something that is just like an older sibling’s bike.

There is something about standing at a table playing with water that kids love.  Every once in a while we make the trek into the Children’s Museum and they have a great room with all sorts of fun things to do with water and soap.  There is a bubble making station, a place to make whirlpools, and the like.

If you’re looking for a little cool fun in the summertime, a kids water table might be just the thing.  Like it’s close cousin the sand table, you can occupy a toddler for far longer than you would expect by letting them play and pour water around.  Combine it with a toy fishing set and some nets and you might be able to have a nice relaxing afternoon in the hammock while the little ones splash.

There are a bunch of options out there for these tables, here are some of the better choices.

The Step2 Kids Water Activity Table is always a good choice.  At around $45 it’s got everything you need for some good outdoor fun.  Or indoor if you’re very brave and don’t worry about water damage to your floors.  There is a tower with a water wheel, cups for pouring, some boats, and different depths to keep your toddler playing for hours.

Step2 also makes the Sand and Water Transportation Table pictured above.  For about $10 more than the regular water table, you get two sections to keep the sand and water separate, a little train for transporting water and sand around the table, and three different water wheels for playing and pouring.  It certainly has more to do, but if you think FOR A MINUTE that your toddler will be able to resist the urge to mix the sand and water, you are sadly mistaken.  But a mud table is even more fun, and kids should be kids so I say go for it.

But if you want the ULTIMATE toddler water play table, you’ll have to look here:

The Little Tykes Sea and Sand Table has it all.  Both sand and water with good separation, a selection of cups and water towers and such, and an umbrella to keep the little ones out of the sun while standing at the table for hours.  Unlike the smaller tables above, this one has space for four kids to play very comfortably and not get in each others way.  Of course, it’s also more expensive than the other two.   But if you want to keep your toddler busy while you sit in the sun and read, this is the table for you.

Baby gifts are one of the most difficult gifts to buy. Babies don’t really have opinions about the kinds of toys and clothes they like and they actually don’t need much. It is months before a newborn baby will even notice any of the adorable toys their parents got at the baby shower. For this reason I like to give practical gifts for new parents, things that might make their lives with a tiny baby just a smidge easier.

My suggestion for today: changing table pad covers.

Whether you have a fancy, expensive changing table or are using the top of a repurposed dresser, you are going to have one of these:

A changing pad that keeps the baby comfy while being changed and hopefully keeps him or her from rolling off the top. I love these changing pad covers from Summer Infant. They are soft and plushy and, most importantly, machine washable (They will get dirty. You may want to give them in sets of three or four). They have four designs:

Green Monkey

Blue Lion

Pink Giraffe

Tan Frog

They also make some solid color changing pad covers if you think the parents would prefer it to the cartoon animals (we have already established that the baby doesn’t really care – baby gifts are really for the parents).



Boon Glo nightlight

I am always on the lookout for the coolest nightlights and look what the awesome people at boon made for us?

In addition to its sexy space-age look, the glowing balls can be removed from the base and taken wherever you need a little light (just a little, the word on the street is that the balls off the base are not very bright). Once separated from the base the balls fade after about 30 minutes.

If you leave them on the base they can change color (there is a sliding thing on the base to change the color) or you can have it cycle automatically through all the colors. You can also set it to white (the brightest setting).

As you would expect from a great company like boon, the base and lights are all BPA-free, Phthalate-free and PVC-free. There is nothing electric in the balls (they are just made of a glow-in-the-dark plastic) so they never get hot. I love this for a baby gift for parents who are into design or trying to be gender neutral.  It doesn’t have to for a kid’s room – I think it would be great as a hallway or bathroom nightlight. Fun enough for the kids’ rooms and yet interesting enough for grown-up rooms too.

Collectable Muppet Toys

Have you heard of the Vinylmation figures? They are these little (3 inches) vinyl toys inspired by the Disney theme parks and collected by many. I am newly enamored of them, I think they are adorable and I love the element of surprise.

When you order them you get blind box, meaning you don’t know which figure is inside, making collecting them all more challenging. Also, each set has a mystery figure, one that isn’t in the picture of the whole set. I love Vinylmation Muppets, as you know, but the other Disney sets are pretty cute too – perfect for a collector or just a fan of Disney.

Theme park Vinylmation

Star Wars Vinylmation: