After what felt like a little bit of a lull, the past couple of years have delivered some fantastic new ways to foster hands-on creativity. One company that's been leading the charge is Spin Master (an outfit whom you've no doubt heard me mention on occasion), and this year they've got a new spin on creative play with Bunchems Alive!, the latest iteration of Bunchems - winner of the coveted 2016 Activity Toy of the Year Award, presented by the Toy Industry Association. These little balls stick together, allowing for endless possibilities in what kids can create. Squish, connect and create the creatures, characters, structures and vehicles shown on the box, or just free-form to create your own - this is open-ended imaginative play... with NO MESS. And now, with Bunchems Alive!, kids can add motion to their creations, bringing a whole new element into some already rockin' play.
As parents, we always want the best for our kids - that's an undeniable fact. There are times, however, when the scale of "good" vs "convenient" can sometimes tip in the wrong direction, and let's face it - we all hit that point. No matter how noble the intentions, nor how "perfect" we might try to be, a trip to the proverbial "dark side" can happen, so when new things enter our daily lives that help assist and accentuate what we're trying to do, we appreciate it - and it's little things, in this case, a juice drink. Sure, thinking of what kind of beverage to serve with a morning snack, a lunch break, or during outdoor play might not seem like a big deal, but when you go out of your way (and spend a premium price) to buy only organic fruits and such for the kids, why muck-up the vibe with some junky juice drink that's probably loaded with stuff like high fructose corn syrup? Capri Sun Organic helps strike the perfect balance between what kids love, and what parents love to give them. It's a certified USDA organic juice drink that also packs one full serving of fruit* in every convenient pouch.
When it comes to LEGO®, so much has changed over the years, though the fundamentals have stayed the same. Growing up, we had a couple of different options in terms of size, all presented as basic building sets limited only by your imagination - or available in themed collections that offered a starting point for adventures yet to come. During my first LEGO experiences in the 1970s and 80s, we didn't have all of the great licensed sets that exist now, and as a parent it's been fascinating to explore the multitude of possibilities available to the kids of today as they still build worlds limited only by their imagination - but ones that now feature some of their favorite characters from comics and film. LEGO Super Heroes is a home-run on so many levels, with LEGO Super Heroes: MARVEL and LEGO Super Heroes: DC Universe allowing kids (including BIG kids like me) the ability to create the ultimate comic crossover at home. While you won't see MARVEL's AVENGERS vs. DC's JUSTICE LEAGUE facing-off or teaming-up on the big screen (I once explained to our oldest daughter that Superman and Spider-man don't "hang out" due to rights issues - she wasn't having it), it's completely feasible that you'll see it on the floor of your family room - and in multiple scales! There's Super Heroes for every age, with LEGO DUPLO (1½-5), LEGO JUNIORS (4+) and the LEGO Super Heroes (5+) putting the tools for adventure into age-appropriate packages that have just the right size or skill level for your little builder.
I do love seafood, and when it comes to going out for such a dish, there's only one place that comes to mind: Red Lobster. I think many will agree with me that one of the best times to visit Red Lobster is during their "Endless Shrimp" promotion, and that's happening right now, for a limited time. This time around, there's five fantastic shrimp dishes to choose from, and they're being joined by two new Craft Cocktails that pair perfectly for a deliciously-grownup treat. In fact, I tried both during my birthday dinner last night!
I've been Teaching The Force THE ROCK FATHER Way™ on an official basis ever since our oldest daughter, Addie, was born back in 2009. Now, in 2015, we've got a pair of Stormtroopers daughters who are becoming well-versed in the ways of a galaxy far, far away. Growing up with STAR WARS the first time around, we had three movies (five if you count the two made-for-tv Ewok movies), and since only a rare few had home video players in those days (mostly VHS or Beta), if you didn't catch those films on the big screen, your viewing options were pretty much limited to cropped versions that would occasionally run on TV. Now, just as it was back then, one of the greatest pieces of the STAR WARS puzzle is how those stories pique the interest and curiosity of those who view them, and how kids' imagination is stimulated and inspired to create their own adventures. To "build" new stories and worlds, if you will.
In the short period of time since I finally decided to allow my girls to get some hand-held screentime, we've gone from having no tablet to having at least three (there might be more). The iPad Mini is largely THE ROCK FATHER's tablet, and that means that it's pretty much set-up for me, but over the past couple of months, I've really started to kid-ifiy it a bit, loading up the best Apps that can both teach and entertain. One of the best new releases comes from Disney, a name that families like ours are immersed in on a daily basis, and with Disney Imagicademy there's a whole new world of learning opening up for kids ages 3-8, and a parental component that can enrich the entire program through an interconnected experience.