By Kim Taylor
Bubbles are getting bigger, wetter and wilder every year, and this summer’s crop of magic-makers clearly aren’t your parents’ bubble blowers. Hasbro offers a mind-blowing selection of bubble-making options, with machines and sprayers of all sizes and shapes that spew forth a river of soapy orbs. Children will be delighted, literally reveling in good clean fun. Pick your favorite from this year’s crop at www.hasbro.com. And while you’re there, check out the foam Nerf Dart Tag Crossfire blaster. Could anything possibly appeal as much to a child? Yes…super-soakers! A vast array from Artic Shock and triple barrel soakers can be found at Hasbro.com as well. If your child is a techie, he or she will love the new musical, interactive I-Dog robot pet featured on the site (compatible with iPods, Rio MP3 players and Discman devices).
It’s tee time for junior on the links with the Wilson Golf Junior Set. Since you’re never too young to take to the greens, this quality set is lightweight, slightly oversized, scaled down for shorter arms and legs, and padded for comfort. Designed to last a lifetime and just as superb as the adult version, this is a perfect birthday gift or summer home investment. Available at www.amazon.com and your favorite golf equipment store.
Parents on the go or romping outside with little ones will appreciate the convenience of Shady Day suncreen wipes (SPF 30, packages of 5 or 15) and sunscreen stick (SPF 30, waterproof, hypoallergenic). Childhood sun exposure has an impact on the health of adult skin, so avoid burns and overexposure with this dermatologist-recommended duo. Purchase at www.shadydayinc.com.
Avance Sun Cure products provide both curative and protective approaches to suncreening, treating previous sun exposure while protecting you and your family from further damage. They also block both UVA and UVB sun rays, which is important for complete protection. Most sunscreens only block UVB rays, but this line goes the distance and blocks the rays strong enough to even pass through window glass. The Avance face cream is ultra=hydrating, and the body sun block is oil-free. Visit www.avanceskincare.com.
Wallaroo hats from Australia with a 50+ SPF are crafted for both adults and children and are recommended for extra sun protection. Their ray-blocking material, wide brims and sturdy construction render them a smart choice for summer. Available in many different styles, they are also crushable for travel, hand-washable, water-friendly, and wind-resistant. They are guaranteed for satisfaction for good reason. Find your sun style at www.wallaroohats.com.
The Taylor Precision Products UV Meter is a digital hand-held thermometer and UV monitor that enables parents to know precisely how much sun protection is necessary on a given day, based upon the amount of UV light in the area, skin type, and length of exposure. This invaluable tool is lightweight and easily clips to a key ring or bag. Superior design and usefulness will render this an instant classic. Buy one at www.amazon.com.
Kathy’s Family Body Wash ideal for parents who want to use chemical-free, natural products on those sheets drying outside, blowing softly in the breeze. Children love bath time thanks to the fresh fragrance and soapy lather in these products (in lavender or citrus). Dad can use them to shave, and even the family pets can be washed with them. Check out the complete, and impressive, product line at www.kathys-family.com.
Holy Cow cleaning products are another eco-friendly, human-friendly product line, safe for everyday use. Packaged in pretty pink and sea-stripe blue, they look great, smell great and are as strong as required to thoroughly get the job done. Most amazing is that this line is actually far more affordable than most other cleaners. Peruse the entire line at www.holycowproducts.com.
Garnier Fructis provides a solution for the crazy tangles and mysterious knots that children effortlessly impart to their hair – and then protest when parents attempt to comb them out. Family size shampoo and conditioner are now available, and the brand’s leave-in conditioner fruity fragrance is appealing to children for peaceful detangling. Visit www.garnierfructis.com for more information. Hapuna Paul Brown is no doubt intended for moms instead of their offspring, but it imparts such a memorable scalp tingle that kids will be pleasantly distracted while their hair is conditioned and hydrated after a day at the pool or beach. Naturally moms will love it too. www.paulbrownhawaii.com.
Poland Spring now offers its refreshing water in kid-pleasing small, round bottles that are ideal for little hands, picnics, lunch boxes, and summer frolicking. Look for them in your favorite grocery store. Also, Parents will greatly appreciate chilled Café Sepia, the ready-to-drink iced coffee new to the U.S. from ITO EN, the Teas’ Tea producer. Due to a smooth taste and perfect balance, Café Sepia is a summer treat for ardent coffee drinkers. Available in mocha and house blend flavors at Whole Foods, Costco, Wild Oats and Target stores.
Thunderstorm or just too hot to go outside? Random House’s latest offerings for children and teens includes Where Did Daddy’s Hair Go? by Joe O’Connor, illustrated by Henry Payne. Originally self-published in Michigan, this humorous, sweet book gathered popular momentum on its own that it is now a family favorite. The Junie B. Jones series makes a summer splash with Aloha-Ha-Ha, a tale about Junie and her family’s trip to Hawaii. Teens and tweens will love Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, which teems with music references, NYC landmarks, angst and love. Browse the e-shelves at www.randomhouse.com.