Every now and then there are moments here at CertifiKid when the whole team gets excited about something. Maybe even overly excited. Like the day Beth found out that our area was a test market for Starbucks delivery (Mind. Blown.) Then, there was the day that Barbara introduced us to Minted. It went something like this…
“I'm coveting those holiday postcards this season. What a unique spin on the traditional flat cards everyone sends. Did you see how affordable they are? Standing out of the crowd AND getting a deal ... WIN WIN!!” ~Amie
So, naturally we all had to go and check those out. There may have been squeals of delight involved at this point.
If you’re on Nila’s gift list - spoiler alert - you may be getting a framed heart-shaped snapshot collage. We know Lara’s little letter-writing nine year old daughter is going to love the personalized kid stationery she’ll find under the tree in the Minted embossed white giftbox. Let’s just say that it might be a very ‘Minted’ holiday at Team CertifiKid this year.
Leave it to Jamie to come up with one of the most unique ideas, though. After fifty years in one place, her in-laws are selling their house and moving onto the next chapter. There was a little melancholy in thinking about leaving behind the memories made there, the notches on the wall that marked every growth spurt, family photos taken on the porch, Brian’s backyard adventures as a kid. So she thought a custom line-drawing, made from a photo of the family home, letter pressed and framed, would be a great way they could take those memories with them.
Not many of us stay in one place that long anymore. Imagine being able to fill the walls of each place you call home with artwork that reminds you of where you came from? How brilliant is that?
We want you to have the chance to get overly excited about Minted too. The artisan designed table linens, or the hand-crafted custom map art might do that. Ah, but a chance to win a $250 Minted shopping spree… yeah, that’ll do it.
And hey, if you do win we’re pretty sure you’ll know what to get us. We kind of just gave ya a list, huh?
Parenting is a tough job, made even harder when bad things happen and we have as many questions as our kids do (if not more). Like you, Team CertifiKid has been reeling with the news of the attacks in Paris, as well as Beirut last week. We too are struggling with how to talk to our kids about what happened and what it means.
No parent is given a manual on day one that tells us how to handle every situation, though that certainly sounds like something we could all use. In the absence of an instruction book, we can look to experts for guidance. We've put together a short list of online resources and information that might help.
PBS.org has a great resource that applies to helping your kids when bad things happen called, How to Help Kids Feel Safe. "Pay Extra Attention to Your Kids. When you are at home with your children, make sure to be engaged with them. The National Association of School Psychologists recommends that parents focus on their children during the week following a tragedy, including spending some extra time reading or playing with kids before bed, to foster a sense of closeness and security."
Susan Stiffelman - Family Therapist, author, and Huffington Post contributor provides suggestions for talking to both kids and teens. "Limit exposure to media. Although you may find yourself drawn to the television for news updates, children have thin filters and are easily traumatized by dramatic images and interviews. Keep young children away from broadcasts about the event. With teens who are keen to stay up to date on what's going on, sit with them to talk, answer questions, and/or join them in feeling sorrow, fear, or outrage."
Time Magazine ran an article that included this quote and additional information: “Don’t delay telling your children,” says Harold Koplewicz, President of the Child Mind Institute. “It’s very likely that your child will hear about what happened, and it’s best that it comes from you so that you are able to answer any questions, convey the facts, and set the emotional tone.”
Have you found resources that have been especially helpful in talking with your kids? Please share. CertifiKid is a community of families, here for each other when times are good and when things are hard. We stand with Paris and with each of you.
(photo credit: Artist Jean Jullien)Keep Reading »
Was that a leaf that just fell from the tree? Yippee, that must mean that fall is finally here. We can't wait to get out hit the fall farms, festivals and plethora of pick-your-own places. Apples, and cider, and pumpkins... oh, my. If you're anything like us you just can't help but load up on the bounty of harvest season, which means you too have found yourself with a house full of apples and not a clue what to do with them. Fear not, we've taken to Pinterest and found some Awesome Autumn recipes - from sweet to savory and even something just for grownups.
Mini Caramel Apples from MyLitter.com
Tiffany from MyLitter.com takes two ingredients, lollipop sticks and a melon baller tool and makes magic! You'll find the recipe for this HERE.
Rustic Chicken with Apples and Bacon from Seasons & Suppers
One pan is all you'll need to turn those apples into an elegant dish reminiscent of rustic farmhouses in the south of France. Okay, so maybe Canada is as close as we got, being that the author of this blog is Canadian, but you don't have to tell your guests that. Or maybe you should. They're certain to be grateful you pointed them to this site that cooks up drool-worthy dishes and post stunning photos like this one...
You'll find the recipe for this one HERE.
Slow Cooker Apple Butter from Graceful Little Honey Bee
Ah, the "Set It and Forget It" lifestyle. If only there were slow cookers for PTA meetings and laundry days. Alas, that doesn't seem to be a technology in the works at the moment. For now though we have apple butter. This sweet spread will make snack time a breeze, goes great on pancakes and you can even look all crafty and stuff by canning it and giving it as a gift. And it's all thanks to the recipe you'll find HERE.
So we said this was going to be apple recipes, right? Well we're sorry but the moment we found this it was all pumpkin and chocolate (we're easily distracted and stuff... ooh, sparkly... never mind it was just petrified fruit snack under the sofa)
Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Donuts (we know, huh?!) from Cork, Fork, Passport
After that photo, do we really need to say anything other than... recipe HERE? Yeah, didn't think so.
We promised there would be something just for the grownups too. How does Caramel Apple Sangria sound? AH-MAZE-ING!
Caramel Apple Sangria from The Night Owl Blog
Kimberly, the author of The Night Owl Blog takes all the flavors of fall and mixes them together into the perfect Saturday night sip - whether you have company or not! Go. Get. Apples. (recipe HERE)
We're going to have a blast at those farms and festivals! Even more fun when we get back and enjoy making these recipes. Wonder if sangria pairs well with donuts.Keep Reading »
Just because the weather isn't playing nice doesn't mean you have to put off having fun with the family. With that in mind, Team CertifiKid set out with our families to find the best places to take the fun indoors. From "top secret" spy missions to high flying fun, we found tons of ways to make any day awesome.
International Spy Museum (Washington DC)
In a city best known for world-class free museums, you might wonder why you'd want to pay to play, right? To be honest, we wondered the same thing. A single visit to this one of a kind, interactive, and truly unique museum answered that for us... it is AWESOME for all ages!
Randi - Director of Business Development (daughter age 8, son age 5)
My kids loved doing the scavenger hunt as we navigated our way through the museum. It adds an extra element of fun!
Insider Tip: Remember to bring a pen, pencil or crayon for each kid! They will give you the scavenger hunt to do you'll need something to write with too!
Lara - Director of Marketing & Creative Development (daughters ages 16 and 9, son age 10)
We loved the mix of historical and pop culture. Everything from James Bond to Aldrich Ames. There are so many things to see and discover that you could go back again and again and not find everything! To be honest, I liked this place so much that I'd even go without my kids just to enjoy it for myself.
Insider Tip: Push buttons and turn knobs. There are even secret passage ways to discover. Choose your cover identity wisely, you'll need to be able "play" the part.
Rockin' Jump (Gaithersburg, MD)
Raise your hand if the 8 year old you would have been stoked to have an entire room covered in trampolines. Yeah, your kids are gonna love that too. It gets even better at Rockin' Jump though because it is an entire building filled with jumping awesome. If you can dodge a ball, you can dodge one on a trampoline! Flip and flop into giant airbags to test out those acrobatic skills, or just jump, jump, jump till you can't jump anymore.
Randi - Director of Business Development (daughter age 8, son age 5)
We had a blast at Rockin' Jump! It was so much fun, and great exercise for all of us. The kids could jump for hours, and I could go for most of the time. :) It was a really great activity to take a break from the heat. I'd recommend to go during the week and go when they first open so you can have less of a crowd.
Monkey Joe's (Sterling, VA)
This place is perfect for those days when the kids need to expend some of that endless energy they have. Monkey Joe's is packed with bounce houses, and fun ways to play. There is a separate play area for the smaller kiddos and even some comfy seating for grownups
Nikki - Account Executive (two sons ages 1 and 5)
We love to do Monkey Joe's and then go to the V Brewhouse. They have a patio with couches and surprisingly kid friendly brunch menu and it is only about a mile from Monkey Joe's.
Insider Tip: Don't forget the socks! Monkey Joe's requires the kiddos to wear them.
Adventure Park USA (New Market, MD)
Adventure Park USA is Maryland's largest family entertainment center. They’ve got mini-golf to a rock climbing wall, plus lots of fun rides. Yes, the bulk of the fun is outdoor, but there is a great arcade and other indoor fun to be found. The entire place as a fun Western theme and is great for younger kids as well as tweens, even teens.
Amie - Director of Operations (daughter 4, son 4 months)
Adventure Park is a hidden gem right in our backyard. It's all the fun of a big time amusement park without the crowds and long lines.
Insider Tip: Go check out the NEW rollercoaster they added this year!
The Pottery Cove (Catonsville, MD)
This adorable little pottery painting studio offers over 150 different ways to unleash your inner "Maker." You can create almost anything, and don't have to be an awesome artist to have fun. A day spent painting is fun for everyone. The best part though is coming back to pick up your finished work and seeing it transformed from a dusty looking piece of pale pottery into something truly unique.
Jamie - Founder and CEO (son age 7, daughter age 6)
What I love about pottery painting is that it's something fun to do with your kids and/or with your friends. Our team got together with our kids celebrate the arrival of Amie's new baby. It was a blast for all of us and we've got these great pieces of finished art to keep as really cool party gift!
Insider Tip: Leave some extra time for exploring the small businesses around the area where The Pottery Cove is. There is a great little candy shop, an antique store, and even a bread company on the same block.
Keep Reading »
One of the things I love most about running CertifiKid, is finding new things my kids will love - and yours too. It’s like I get to be a kid all over again. I certainly felt like one this past weekend when I attended the 2015 Toy Fair in New York City.
Just imagine over 400,000 square feet filled with TOYS! I know, right? WOW! I had a blast getting an insider’s look at the latest and greatest toys, gadgets, and gizmos that will hit store shelves in the coming year. To say my kids were excited to see pictures and hear about the amazing things I uncovered, is putting it mildly. I may have just won the Coolest Mom Ever award.
There were certainly clear trends that stood out. For example, Beanie Boos were the BIG plush toy craze. These big-eyed versions of what you and I might know better by the name, Beanie Baby, were everywhere. Ironically my kids are totally obsessed with them already. I’m not sure what it is about them that sets them apart from other plush toys - maybe it’s those eyes? - but everyone seems to be into them.
Gru and his crew of minions were EVERYWHERE. Made me excited for the release of Despicable Me 3 this summer. I was surprised to see that FROZEN wasn’t so big. Maybe it’s finally feeling the chill of overexposure? Ha ha.
The Engineers Have It!
Building Toys like LEGO, Magna Tiles, and others of their sort, were all over. Kits with all the gears, pulleys, and levers your child needs to build his or her own contraptions are as limitless as their imaginations. The industry is catching on with the popularity of these types of toys and there will be nearly endless options on the market soon.
Cracker Jack Tattoos are so Last Year
The place was packed with tattoos of all sorts, everywhere. And not just on arms. The sheer volume of new products avaiable are likely to make temporary tattoos a trend with options for nails, skin and even clothes. Parents, guard your upholstery!
I loved seeing that there was a fairly sizeable contingent of back-to-basics toys (like wood toys and blocks) and Eco Friendly stuff. Though I would have expected to see more. Maybe these won’t be as popular as I may have expected.
As a parent, I was super excited to see that educational play took center stage. Science was certainly the star of the show among this toy genre. From kits that guide kids of all age groups through fun - age appropriate - experiments to exploration projects you can do together, this segment of the toy world is poised to make a BIG BANG with families! Or at least that’s my theory.
Blame it all on our obsession with Pinterest
DIY craft kits are HUGE! What I love about these types of toys is they provide guided activities, and all the supplies you need to help grow creativity, all while keeping kids busy. I can think of tons of reasons to have a bunch of these on-hand all year long; party activities, playdates, gifts, rainy, snowy and summer days too.
It seems that scooters are the next hot item to get kids outdoors, active and moving. There were more than a handful fun of companies peddling their version of these little people movers. What I was shocked NOT to see, was a ton of sports related items. There were some, but I went in certainly expecting to see a lot more. Could it be that so many of our kids go to sports themed camps, and/or play in organized leagues, that there isn't really as big a market for these toys at home?
Welcome Back Family Game Night!
There were oodles of options in the board game market. There is going to be literally something for everyone. Who knew there were so many board games? I guess Monopoly isn’t exactly enjoying a monopoly, eh?
Apps Are Where It’s At: Or At Least They’re Everywhere
I found it really intriguing that everything from building to plush toys, coloring books to readers, seemed to have its own app. Some of these were great and gave an obvious added value to the product. Others, not so much. I’m sort of on the fence about apps as add-ons to toys that would traditionally be non-screentime playthings. How about you?
Surprised and Excited
One thing that really surprised me was the small amount of “pinky girly stuff.” In years past there seemed to be an endless supply of pinked-up toys. Paint it pink, it’s for a girl. That seemed to be the norm in years past when it came to marketing to girls. Don’t get me wrong, there were dolls and all the frills that go with them, there just weren’t a ton of these type of things. Manufacturers seem to be spending a lot more time on turning out thoughtfully designed toys for girls. Bravo!
3D printing is coming and I’m SO excited! This technology is nothing short of mind-blowing. Once confined to laboratories and the tech industry - mostly due to costs and complicated operation (it literally took a Rocket Scientist to use one) - 3D printing is now becoming more widely available for PLAY!
Leading the way are companies like PieceMaker which offers a “DIY” 3D printing kiosk where kids, and kids-at-heart, can design and print their own toys. Yes. Print. Toys. Mind blown, huh? The technology has also found its way into creative toy kits, as printing the moving parts is far faster and more economical than traditional manufacturing.
I was thrilled to find our friends from local, award-winning, and generally amazing ThinkFun in this catagory. 3D printing technology is at the core of their BRAND NEW (coming in April 2015) Maker Studio Construction Sets. I love the blending of high and low tech in this toy that is sure to take its place alongside the other cutting edge toys that Bill and Andrea have developed.
I can’t wait to start bringing you some of these innovative and amazing new toys and products. 2015 is going to be an epic year here on our CertifiKid playground! What toy do you think your kids would love?
CertifiKid CEO & Founding MomKeep Reading »
As the song goes, "She Works Hard for the Money." Now, Donna Summer may have been singing about a freewheeling single gal there, but the sentiment is doubly true when that gal answers to “Mommy”.
Working moms have evolved from the lines of cheesy, chart-topping 80s pop tunes to head up some of the most successful businesses on the planet, all while managing to make sure boo-boos are still kissed and holiday traditions remain intact. How do we do it? Myriad ways, naturally...but organization is a key common denominator. To keep all the tools of their trades together and close to hand, the smart working mom employs a SCOUT, of course.
Ingeniously designed, insanely durable and downright fashionable, SCOUT bags make the scene on the shoulders of savvy and stylish moms from the pool to the carpool, grocery stores to gyms, beaches, and even boardrooms. We recently had the chance to chat with Deb Johns, Co-Founder and mom of four, who sits in the pilot's seat of the juggernaut that is SCOUT by Bungalow. She gave us a peek into the genius behind the brand, the family she designs it around and her philosophy on style.
Inspired by a chic Helmut Lang carryall spotted at store in Milan, the first SCOUT bag was made from Deb’s realization that women and families around the world wanted a tote bag that perfectly blended fashion and function; and, if it came at a better price than its high-fashion counterpart, the bag would likely sell out.
She was right.
For so many, SCOUT bags are more than a conveyance for personal belongings, they are an obsession. Why do you think that is?
They solve an equation, allowing the person who uses them to get use from them while still expressing their fashion sense. We work hard to make sure that our products fit a need, deliver great bang for your buck and make you happy.
“Yo Deb” -SCOUT’s blog- is like the fashion equivalent of a cupcake. The perfect bite of decadent indulgence, without overdoing it. Do you write all of it? Where does the inspiration come from?
It’s the “meat” of our fashion side. Four times a week we get to prove we really know our fashion stuff, that we aren’t just following trends, we have a pulse on helping set them. I don’t write all of it, even though I have years of experience in the fashion business . What’s cool is I’m surrounded by a team of young, brilliant, savvy, and fashion-forward folks. They contribute to “Yo Deb,” helping form the collective voice of the blog.
Naming the baby. SCOUT bags have the best names ever. What is your process for this?
Two times a year the whole team gathers and we have a, “Naming Day”. Everyone just tosses out ideas. It’s a creative process, but yes… it’s fun. We look for names that fit the look of the bag, have a nod to Pop Culture, and are interesting. (Interviewer's note: “Oh Buck It” and “Pocket Rocket”... Best. Names. Ever.)
What one item can Deb Johns not do without?
Patricia Underwood headband. After having three boys in three years, then a daughter, I needed something that simplified my life and my look. I added to that a Prada fanny pack for the gear. The logic behind that was, “Really, who is going to come up to your waist and steal something from you?” Plus, it’s the ultimate hands-free option. They’ve both become my signature pieces. In fact, I had a girl at one of my kid’s schools come up and tell me, “Nobody can rock a headband and a fanny pack like you can.” They filled a need when the kids were small, and still do. Useful quality never goes out of style.
What one thing do you insist somebody other than you always do?
Throw things out. I’m a Pack Rat, I can’t bring myself to get rid of things. It’s served me well though, all the shoes and clothes you see in our catalog photos are either mine, or belonged to someone in our family.
So many companies talk a good talk about giving back, but for you it is very real, and very personal. Can you share a bit about Go Bo Fund?
At age 11, our son Bo was diagnosed with B Cell Lymphoma. It’s tough to see your child go through something like this. We knew though that in certain respects we were lucky. Other kids going through this, with parents who didn’t have the means, couldn’t to be there every night with their child. Some lived further away and couldn’t stay, others had jobs that they had to go to in order to sustain their household. We witnessed so much need. We asked the hospital if there was was something to help them. There really wasn’t. We also saw that, even beyond his illness, our little guy was missing his life, lacking in joyful moments that children imbody.
We wanted to help and to instantly empower Bo to get his joy back. So we wrote a letter and sent it out to 12,000 people, friends, family, etc, asking them to donate funds to help these other families. And the money rolled in, with each new donation Bo would get so excited, it really gave him back that spark. In the end, that generosity amounted to between $50,000 - 60,000.
The Go Bo Fund has now raised nearly half a million dollars and provides financial assistance to families to help bridge the gap between what health care insurance covers, and what it does not. Which is a lot! It’s helps provide everything from groceries, rent and in-home care, to tutors and in the sad event that battle is lost, has stepped in to help cover funeral costs.
Bo, now a Senior at Lehigh University, writes about his own story at 10 Years of Going.
Lay some wisdom on those aspiring entrepreneurs out there. What is your best piece of business advice?
Embrace what you are and who you are. Now move on to something more important. Everything else will follow that, because authenticity translates in items, friends, and philosophy. There aren’t that many new ideas out there. But if you see a SCOUT bag and you know it.. it’s because we’ve stuck true to who we are, we are authentic.
You’ll be celebrating SCOUT’s 10th birthday this year. Looking back what would you say now about the journey?
You’ve come a long way baby. When I left New York and moved to the DC area I used to call it the, “Anti Fashion Capital of America”. That’s changed so much. Fashion lives just about everywhere now, and SCOUT has found a home because we solve the equation - fashion, function and affordable- for not just this area, but the new lifestyle. We’ve become a more mobile and nomadic people, the need to keep the style in our lifestyle has evolved with us. SCOUT will continue to innovate and grow with our community and our customers.
With a force like Deb behind the logo, is it any wonder that SCOUT is one amazing product and brand? We think not. Come check it out for yourself, we’ve got a deal for you.
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