1. Homesick Blues

    Homesickness is one of the most common camp-related ailments, up there with bug bites, heat rash, and skinned knees. Unfortunately, it still confounds campers and their parents alike. The American Camp Association says that 10% of kids experience homesickness, but this number is likely much higher because many kids feel homesick but don’t say anything. As a parent, what can you do to keep your child’s homesickness in check?

    Preventing homesickness can start at home. If it’s your child’s first time at camp and they haven’t spent much time away from home, send them on a few practice runs. Sleeping at friends’ or relatives’ houses for the weekend can be a good primer.

    Are you nervous about your child going away? Try to project a nonchalant attitude to your kids. That way, your anxieties don’t rub off on your camper. Keep reassuring them that they will enjoy camp. Even saying something like “If you don’t like camp, you can always come home” sends a subtle message that camp won’t be fun, so keep that kind of talk to a minimum.

    The key to keeping homesickness at bay once a child gets to camp is making sure they stay busy. If they write or call complaining about homesickness, encourage them to take on more activities. Talk to their counselors; they can get your child more involved in the daily life of camp. And although phone calls and email are important, put a limit on this behavior. Too much parent-child contact, especially in the first days of camp, can intensify homesickness. You want your child out having fun, not dwelling on missing you. Letter writing can be a good alternative to phone calls. Ask your kids to use the letters to tell you how much fun they are having.

    The great thing about homesickness is that it usually takes care of itself eventually. All you have to do is offer a compassionate ear and support. When you send your child off to summer camp next year, homesickness will be a thing of the past. Plus, doesn’t it make you feel good to be missed?


  2. Shortalls and Skirt-alls for Girls – We’re All for It!

    Shortalls and skirt-alls are an easy solution for the little lady who’s always on the go. These versatile pieces make building an outfit as easy as choosing shoes and a T-shirt to match. And with accents ranging from trendy to rustic, shortalls and skirt-alls also integrate well with more elaborate and fashion-forward getups. Here are some of our favorites:

    Floral printed jeans are all the rage right now, so Guess carried the trend over into these adorable skirt-alls.  

    An overall bib combines with tiers of patterned fabric to give this Kidzone jumper a unique look. The sturdy dependability of overalls with the breezy cuteness of a dress: who could ask for more?

    If she likes stripes, this Hello Gorgeous 2-piece is just for her. The stripy T seamlessly pairs with the overalls, but this set also happens to be a mix-and-match winner. 

    Spread the love with these Crystal Vogue overall shorts. The open back is great for staying cool, and she’ll adore the “Love” print.


  3. Road Trips with Kids

    Jumping in the car and going on a summer adventure is a time honored tradition. But as fun as road tripping can be, having kids in the car, especially young kids, can be taxing. The constant noise, bickering, and requests for pit stops are enough to drive even the most patient parents insane. What can you do to make sure your long distance summer travel goes smoothly?

    Make sure kids have a lot to do in the car. Heavy luggage should go in the trunk, but make sure each kid has a compact carry-on bag as well. Help each child pack their bag with things like books, art supplies, an iPod, handheld gaming device, and anything else that can reliably distract them. Make sure everyone has their own stuff so the kids don’t argue over a coveted toy.

    Make sure your kids have what they need to entertain themselves, but also plan some group activities. Family games like I Spy or 20 Questions can help pass the time. Make use of your car’s stereo system. There’s plenty of family-friendly audio content out there, such as podcasts, audiobooks, and language learning programs. If you have some free time before the trip, go to a record store with the whole family. This will ensure that everyone has some fresh tunes to contribute.

    Nothing fails to annoy parents like young passengers’ persistent need to stop. This is usually brought on by a mix of boredom and legitimate needs to eat or use the facilities. Curbing boredom will go a long way toward limiting these stops. Make sure to also have snacks and drinks on hand for the kids – fruits, nuts, and energy bars are popular choices. Avoid sugary drinks, as these are more likely to make young passengers have to pee.

    With a bit of planning ahead, the car ride can be the highlight of any trip. Just make sure the kids stay comfortable and entertained – that way you can enjoy the ride, too. Safe travels!


  4. Brand Alert: Chams and GS-115

    If you’re looking to add more bottoms to his wardrobe, check out GS-115 and its sister brand Chams. Their line of jeans and shorts has everything from basic denim in a standard straight cut to more exotic cuts and washes. Signature embroidery, studs, and flaps add distinction that’ll turn heads wherever he goes. Best of all, Chams and GS-115 offer a premium designer look at a price parents can afford. Check out some of our favorites:

    These Chams belted cargo shorts are a must-have for summer. The light cotton is exceptionally breathable and sports unique grid texturing.

    These slim fit jeans from GS-115 are perfectly on-trend. The brightly colored raw-look denim is sure to get him the attention he deserves!

    A classic straight fit combines with subtle fading on these GS-115 jeans. The included D-ring belt is a useful bonus.

    Chams turns up the volume with fun details on these versatile straight fit jeans. Dress them up with a button-down, or go casual with a T. 


  5. Beyond Summer Reading

    Does your child dread summer reading? If they don’t like the assigned books, that’s one thing, but if they’re not interested in reading at all, there may be a problem. Often it takes a parent’s guidance to ignite a child’s passion for reading. Luckily, summer is the perfect time to transform your child from a reluctant reader to an avid one. But how?  

    Reading to your child from an early age is a great way to get them hooked. Choose a book you think your child will love and read the first few chapters aloud to them. If they seem to like the book, ask them to read a few chapters to you. Before you know it, they’ll be unable to wait and will zoom ahead in the story – the desired effect.

    You may need to try a few books before you find one that captures your child’s imagination. Once you do, make a mental note of what kinds of stories they like: stories with a plucky female heroine? Stories about adventures on the high seas? Suspenseful stories? Stories about magic? If you can crack the code to your child’s reading interests, it’ll make a trip to the library or bookstore a lot more fruitful. 

    It doesn’t have to be a book that introduces your child to a story or character. If your child loved the Harry Potter, Hunger Games, or Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies, introduce them to the books next. Pique their interest by telling them the movie is only a small part of the story – which is usually true. To get the full picture they need to read.

    If your child loves being online, you can make reading a multimedia, interactive experience. Have your child go online and connect with other fans of a book. There are lots of activities they can do to flush out the story, like drawing scenes or characters from the book, writing their own fan fiction, or even dressing up like their favorite characters.

    Your encouragement and interest will make it much easier for your child to develop a lifelong love of reading. Try to read some of the same books as them. Ask about their opinions on the story, what they expect to happen next, and what they would change if they were the author. Their answers may surprise you!    


  6. Ride On, Star Ride!

    If your little girl likes to show off, then Star Ride is the brand for her! Star Ride has a myriad of unique and playful pieces, here just in time for summer. The brand takes many wardrobe staples and enhances them with fun and flashy details, so she’ll stand out without leaving her comfort zone. The best part? All these styles are under $20!

    Check out some of our favorites from the Star Ride collection:

    This breezy dress is as perfect as a summer day. The butterfly print will lift her spirits.

    A versatile pair of plaid shorts can be a part of almost any ensemble. This pair incorporates metallic threading for extra glimmer.

    Fun and elegant, this dress is full of unique touches. It comes pre-accessorized with a patent skinny belt, a welcome addition to any wardrobe.

    This 2-piece top is the perfect topper to a pair of denim shorts. The layered design is perfect for quickly changing temperatures.


  7. Waterside Safety

    Summer is here, which means more trips to the beach, pool, and lake. Before you plan a family swimming trip, be sure to brush up on waterside safety.

    No one likes to get sunburned, so applying sunscreen is a must. Most experts suggest sunscreen with an SPF of 20-30 for kids. Try to select a sunscreen that’s waterproof and provides full spectrum protection (this means it blocks both UVA and UVB rays). For kids with sensitive skin, find something hypoallergenic and free of fragrances. The best protection from the sun is time in the shade. If your little guy or girl looks like they’re starting to turn a bit pink, have them relax in the shade for 30-45 minutes and reapply sunblock. Make sure to reapply sunscreen every 4 hours.

    When it comes to water safety, one must first factor in such concerns as how strong a swimmer a child is and what kind of water they’ll be swimming in. While your child may be good enough to swim alone in the backyard pool, they won’t be able to in choppy seas. In general, the buddy system is useful for staying safe in the water, but that shouldn’t stop you from keeping a pretty constant eye on your little swimmers. Those new to swimming should wear life jackets.

    It’s important to work out some kind of system with your kids about what they should do if they feel they’re in trouble. Many parents don’t know what drowning looks like, so agree on a clear and easy-to-remember distress sign – a wave or a whistle, anything to let you know they need help. Make sure your kids know they should call for help the moment they feel danger. They should never wait until they are already exhausted from trying to get to shore. If someone is missing, the first things you should do are call 911 and check the water. Being lost on the beach or by the lake is much less serious than being in trouble in the water, so always start there.

    Once you have established some safety protocols and applied some sunscreen, you can get to having fun by the water. Make sure to snap lots of pictures, and bring plenty of snacks, water, and your favorite aquatic toys. Enjoy the water this summer!  


  8. Bank Account-Friendly Baby Furniture

    Outfitting your home and life to accommodate a baby is no easy task. You can break the bank getting your house, car, and everything else ready for your new arrival. Luckily, we have everything you need to ensure baby is comfortable at home or anywhere you go. Here are some of our favorite items at the best prices online. Have fun accessorizing for baby!

    This table and chairs set by Teamson is just too cute to pass up. Hand-painting and fine craftsmanship bring the dinosaurs to life. 

    This Dream on Me playpen can be set up in minutes. It’s portable, so anywhere baby goes becomes a play area.

    This adorable booster from Summer Infant grows with baby. It also folds up, making storage a snap.

    Keep baby close wherever you go with this Luvable Friends baby carrier. The soft and padded design keeps both you and baby comfy. 


  9. Throw an Affordable Summertime Birthday Party!

    Summer birthdays are a blessing and a curse for kids. It’s ideal to have a bright, warm day on your birthday, but on the other hand, it can be much harder to organize a party with friends when you don’t see everyone at school every day. Sometimes it takes a little extra effort on your part to make your child’s summer birthday special. If you’re trying to help organize a great summer birthday for your child, check out these party ideas. 

    Homemade Waterpark: Going to a waterpark is fun, but it’s not ideal for a birthday party. Not only are waterparks expensive, their size makes it difficult to keep track of a group of unruly kids. Fortunately, you can bring the waterpark to your backyard or local park. Get some water balloons for throwing, soap up a tarp for a homemade slip and slide, and make some homemade bubble blowing solution. Sprinklers are great for running through, or poke holes in an old garden hose for the same effect.    

    Painting Party: If your little one is a creative type, a painting party will bring lots of smiles. All you need to do is put out some paints, markers, paper, and other art supplies. Create funny masks and frames for adorable photo opportunities. Buy or build one big canvas that all the kids can collaborate on. Best of all, the pictures, drawings, and paintings your party guests create become memorable party favors!  

    Backyard Camping: If you have a spacious backyard, you can pitch a tent and build a campfire there. A rented campsite might run you $20 a night, but that’s pretty reasonable for a big group. Pitch a couple of tents or, if the weather permits, sleep under the stars. Make a fire, break out all the fixings for s’mores, and enjoy some quality time around the campfire. Don’t forget to brush up on your campfire stories!

    Trivia Bowl: Summer is traditionally when kids let their minds atrophy, so whip them back into shape with a trivia bowl! You can find age-appropriate questions online. Make sure to include a mix of knowledge categories to appeal to everyone. For a real multimedia experience, try incorporating video and audio clips. Split your partygoers into teams and test their mental mettle. Winners get to be first in line for the sundae bar – after the birthday boy or girl, that is!


  10. Summery Girls Activewear

    Summer heat isn’t going to keep your active gal from doing her thing. Make sure she has the attire she needs to beat the heat and keep moving. These pieces are designed to maximize movement, prevent overheating, and wash easily – plus they’re full of sporty style. Stock up on activewear sets before summer’s heat sets in. Here are some of our favorites:

    This shorts set embodies the active comfort and sporty style on which Puma built their reputation. It’s perfect for dance, soccer, and other activities.

    This stretchy Diva 2-piece is a steal at under $10. The leopard print will make her feel fierce!

    If she’s a Hello Kitty fan, this 2-piece is sure to be her new favorite. A bonus, it seamlessly mixes-and-matches with other HK attire she already owns. 

    An off-the-shoulder neckline lends this Beverly Hills Polo Club set a unique look. The bright polka dots are perfect for showing off.