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It's a crisp 5° here at Rock Father HQ as I write this, but it's never too early to be thinking about spring (and summer) while the dead of winter continues to set in. A new year means new toys, and 2017 is already shaping up to be a big one - and we haven't even hit Toy Fair yet! One of the first items to become available is the PAW Patrol Water Table by The Step2 Company. Produced under license from Spin Master, this new table brings the excitement of Adventure Bay into the water play realm, complete with fun action features and a trio of included characters from the hit Nick Jr. series - Marshall, Skye and Zuma! The second PAW Patrol item from Step2 following the excellent Lookout Climber (reviewed here), to get a new year of toys kicked off right, Step2 and The Rock Father have teamed up to give readers a chance to win one of these great water tables for your house!

This year, TOMY is celebrating 70 years of being John Deere licensee - a tradition that began with the first Ertl toy tractors back in 1946. Growing up in the 80s, my cousins and I had a pretty nice assortment of Ertl John Deere farm equipment - the big metal ones - and we played with them hard, in the sandbox... in the mud... in rain or shine. A few years back, our oldest daughter had a little John Deere hat that said "Dirt Makes Me Cuter," a statement that still rings true (though the hat is outgrown), and seeing that little yellow and green logo always made me recall my teen years living in the Quad Cities, not far from the John Deere World Headquarters in Moline. Living in Illinois, and having farmers in our family, in a lot of ways it feels like John Deere may be a part of our DNA, so it's always cool to see our little ones playing with toys that capture some of the same feeling from when I was little... and lately that feeling is back with some new items from the John Deere Preschool collection, sent to Rock Father HQ for review by the folks at TOMY. 

OPEIThe official calendar start of Spring is just days away, and like many of you, I'm ready to get outside and get the winter mess cleaned-up to get a jump on making the yard nice for the year. As the lawn mowers and trimmers start to emerge from storage, it's important to make sure that those, and any power equipment, are ready to rock safely for the season. The folks over at The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), an international trade association representing more than 100 power equipment, engine and utility vehicle manufacturers and suppliers, has put together a list of 10 Tips for Getting Your Power Equipment Tuned-up for Spring. There's simple basic stuff here, but everyone could use a refresher once in awhile, and starting with the basics like inspecting equipment, reviewing manuals, and double-checking safety procedures is a great thing to do.

Published in Gardening

Everyone has heard of a Water Table, but have you ever seen a Bubble Table? This year, The Step2 Company is putting a new spin on an old favorite by releasing the Big Bubble Splash Water Table just in-time for National Bubble Week. This reasonably-sized water table comes with a battery-operated Bubble Blower, a 4oz starter bottle of Bubble Solution (any brand will work with this), a trio of Bubble Wands, two Dip Trays and a pair of Water Cups. When the bubble-blowing fun is done, the main basin holds plenty of water for outdoor play, and for those who'd like some indoor use, the table can double as a sensory table.

PEPPA PIG is enjoying a Renaissance of sorts, especially here in the United States, where it's seen a massive resurgence over the past two years since being distributed by eOne. Airing regularly on Nick Jr., the Peppa Pig light went off for my girls at some point in the last year, and now the lovable pig and her friends are in regular rotation for viewing and play (Jazwares makes some cool toys). On Sunday, March 6, at 6 p.m. ET, Nick Jr. will host the U.S. premiere of a very special “peppasode," THE GOLDEN BOOTS. In celebration of Spring, eOne and THE ROCK FATHER Magazine are giving you a chance to win PEPPA PIG: THE GOLDEN BOOTS on DVD (out March 8), along with a look at some fun Peppa activies...

Published in Movies, TV and More

Five years ago, right after my wife and I bought this house and moved in, I took to the outside with a spray bottle of outdoor cleaner to attack the siding and deck. Not only did it not work very well, but shortly afterward I discovered that I'd completely ruined a brand new t-shirt and shorts. The reason? Overspray from chlorine bleach, which I'd neglected to notice was the primary ingredient. Not cool. With evolving landscape and gardening projects, we're always looking for new and safe ways to do things, and that's why Scotts® Plus OxiClean™ Outdoor Cleaner was immediately intriguing - the ability to get the house, deck and all of the girls' Step2 play equipment nice and clean without harming our plants. Plus, it's from Scotts - a trusted brand whose products I use regularly here at Rock Father HQ.

Published in Gardening
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