Metro Mama & Metro Baby

By Kim Taylor

Back-to-school marks a clean slate. You want your children’s school gear to be as fresh as their faces, and exciting enough for them to eagerly embrace school days. Here’s a roundup of gadgets, bags, lunch treats and clothes that will send kids bounding through the school doors, ready to greet their friends and, ideally, to hit the books.

It’s in the bag:

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School kids will need a bag, most likely a backpack. Let your children express themselves by choosing their own type, style and color backpack at eBags.com. This remarkably extensive source for bags is ideal for kids who like prefer choosing their own gear. Plus, the bags are high quality, incredibly durable, and come in vivid colors and memorable styles. The eBags Outlook Laptop Messenger bags are roomy, padded, and offer so many extra features and compartments that dad will want to visit eBags.com as well. It comes with a lifetime warranty! Visit www.eBags.com.

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Parents alarmed by the amount of backpack book weight that their children have to lug around on their growing backs will love the Zuca Bag. It’s a portable backpack on wheels that can double as a chair, piece of luggage or even pet carrier. Athletic gear will fit nicely in it as well, and it moves up stairs with no problem. A lightweight aircraft aluminum frame ensures durability and portability, and oversized silent urethane wheels with flashing LEDs for night visibility amp up the cool factor for back-to-school. Choose a favorite water-resistant bag pattern in a variety of styles and colors at www.zuca.com.

Office Depot is another source for eye-appealing backpacks, including the tried and true TUG backpack, which is not only trendy for back to school but ergonomically-designed for much-needed back and shoulder comfort. Available in 26 styles at very reasonable prices with a plethora of reinforced zippers and multiple compartments. Visit www.OfficeDepot.com or visit an Office Depot store near you.

Novel gadgets kids will love:

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Teens and tweens can turn anyone’s computer into their own with Seagate’s FreeAgent Go, which allows them to carry a plethora of great programs, all their browser faves, and passwords without having to tote around their computer. In other words, any PC can be their PC, which is a boon for homework help and lightening backpack loads. It’s secure, and as simple as plugging in the cable. Read more about it at www.seagate.com, or find it at Circuit City and other elctronic stores.

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Kids who love to snowboard or skate will absolutely want to arrive at school on a Razor Rip Stik Caster Board. It’s like nothing else they’ve ever ridden, and there’s no need to push: they simply twist and go. Any child with a Rip Stik will enjoy their own entourage after school; it’s a great way of making new friends start of a new year – or even at their new school. The Rip Stik’s flexing motion renders it the ultimate wild carving machine on two wheels. Read more about it at www.razor.com.

Also available at Wal-Mart and Kohls stores.

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SanDisk’s Sansa Shaker MP3 Player is the first affordable MP3 player with an integrated speaker, SD card slot, fantastic sound and unique “shake” feature that randomly skips to the next song. Adorable to look at and fun to use, the Sansa Shaker comes in pink and blue, and can be found at www.sandisk.com. Shake things up a little on the way to school, and after!

The iMainGo is no ordinary iPod accessory: it’s an award-winning speaker system and iPod protector from Portable Sound Laboratories, which renders your kids’ favorite songs in beautiful clarity and volume. The iMainGo sets a new standard in portable sound. Available in vivid hues such as hot pink, electric blue and lime green at Apple stores, select Virgin MegaStores. www.target.com, and www.imaingo.com.

Dressed to thrill:

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The A4 clothing brand has launched a line of athletic sportswear that melds high performance clothing with comfortable fashion for teens, tweens and adults. A4 is available in a full spectrum of sizes, ranging from x-small to x-large, and strives to be affordable. Little mesh shorts, tank tops, retro-style shorts, fleece sweatpants, skorts (shorts and skirts combined), basketball wear, muscle tees and more can be found for your budding athlete at www.A4.com.

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The new CRAZY 8 kids clothing brand from GYMBOREE is everything a parent wants in a kids’ clothing line: quality fabrics, inspired designs, and good prices. And it helps that it’s everything kids want as well: bright colors, interesting shapes and designs, and a soft feel. Send your toddler or elementary school child off to school in style with this endearing new line! Visit www.crazy8.com to see the entire collection.

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Kids will get their kicks with a pair of Vincent Shoes, a fun, hip, fashionable line with names like Smith or Stan – and they’re as easy to order as clicking on www.vincentshoestore.us. You’ll find Mary Janes, high-tops, boots, sneakers and dozens of stylish little boots at this very reasonably-priced shoe site based in Raleigh, NC. Parents will appreciate the non-lace options (though there are many laced shoes as well), sturdy craftsmanship, modern styles and quality leather. Visit the Vincent Shoes site and be forewarned: you won’t want to buy children’s shoes anywhere else.

Inside the backpack:

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Dr. Praeger knows what toddlers and elementary school kids love to eat, and lunch doesn’t have to be healthy or fun, it can be both, thanks to his new line of kid-friendly finger food in whimsical shapes. Parents will appreciate that they can actually recognize and pronounce the ingredients in these products, and kids will absolutely love the flavor and shapes. Sweet potato, broccoli, spinach and potato dinosaurs are easy to cook and rife with vitamins. Order up for school lunchboxes at www.drpraegers.com.

Kaplan Publishing and TOKYOPOP joined forces to introduce a vocabulary-building Manga series of comic books, which will help bolster scores on the SAT and ACT exams. Enjoyable to read and visually exciting, this is an engaging alternative to dull vocabulary word lists. Titles include Psy-Comm, Warcraft abnd Van von Hunter. Find them at www.TOKYOPOP.com.

Tween and teenage girls who participate in after-school sports programs will want to keep the Tess “Day in the Sun” sports kit handy, which contains orange-mint sunscreen with a SPF of 30 and mint lip balm with a SPF of 15. The Wipe Out Wipes are ideal for tucking into backpacks and lockers, and sweep away blemish-causing dirt and oils to leave teenage and tween skin refreshed and clean. Visit www.tessskin.com and Sephora stores for Tess products.

Unfortunately, back to school for the pre-school and elementary school set sometimes means contagious lice, but Circle of Friends comes to the rescue with their new Lice Free Zone Shampoo and Conditioner. Preferable to harsh treatments, this line shifts the focus to prevention. Fin it at Ulta, www.drugstore.com, and www.circle-of-friends.com. Another preventative, anti-bug line is Bug Bam! – a non-toxic, DEET-free wristband that repels insects for up to 100 hours. September in the city seems to get warmer with each passing year, so keep a few Bug Bams on hand for trekking through Central Park and patio-grilling. Load up at www.bugbam.com.

The first day of school is always fraught with anticipation, and these items should impart some measure of comfort. Bag? Covered. Rip Stik? Covered. Tech gear? Covered. Clothes, shoes, books? Covered. Don’t forget to give your child a reason to flash a toothy grin.

Originally published September 2007
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