Mommy Gearest

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Mommy Gearest is devoted to all-things-baby-and-kids. Passionate about championing great products that actually work and exposing those that fall far short of their brand promises, Mommy Gearest puts products through the ringer - with a twist of...

Andrea is a winner of Top 25 Product Review Moms - 2012

What are your favorite products that you've seen this year that would make great stocking stuffers?

Since I've been working on a massive holiday gift guide series since September, I've seen a LOT of toys and gadgets. Here are my top 10 favourites for babies and young kids - representing all different price points:

1. There's no better kids' music CD going than Squishy Banana (www.squishybanana.com); order the CD or be enviro-friendly and just order the tracks on iTunes.

2. Goody Canada is coming out with a new holiday pack soon that's got the cutest little owls on really sturdy bobby pins (plus two different types of co-ordinating hair elastics).

3. Roll-up one of the onesies from BadMotherTees.com for the stocking and shock your neighbours.

4. Hopscotch Kids Water Colors Safe Nail Polish 2.0 - a great little chemical-free nail polish line made with little girls in mind (at raspberrykids.com).

5. The sterling silver Lainey bracelet from Little Glamour (www.littleglamour.ca) is a splurge of a stocking stuffer, but worth every penny.

6. Spot It Jr.! Animals is a fun card game that even a three year old could play (available at www.scholarschoice.ca).

7. HEXBUGs - micro-robotic critters that are eerily realistic when they move; your little guy will go nuts for these, and there's a new one out for the holiday season that even comes in it's own ornament! (Find them at Chapters Indigo stores.)

8. A Netflix gift membership, which now using most streaming devices (like the Wii, for example) provides parents with a "Just For Kids" option when choosing what to watch. Just For Kids curates all of the baby- and kid-friendly Netflix shows and movies into one area that even my four year old has no trouble navigating. Only $7.99/month (that includes all of the adult stuff, too!) and you may never watch "normal" TV again.

9. Beba Bean's Sock Monkey Rattle (www.bebabean.com) - even little babies like fun stocking stuffers, you know.

10. Mittz by Stonz (www.stonz.ca). Best infant and kids' mittens of all time. Ever. Seriously.

Stay tuned for more awesome gift ideas in the next couple of weeks on www.mommygearest.com!

What's your favorite resource for discovering new products?

Other blogs are a great resource, but my top choice has got to be Twitter. I often get companies following me and I always check out their websites to see if they have innovative or interesting baby and kid stuff.

Whats the best parenting product you've ever reviewed?

Wow. That's a tough question because I get to review a lot of amazing products.

It would probably have to be the Boba 3G baby carrier. I'm really into babywearing (and toddlerwearing), and of all the baby carriers I've tried - and there have been many - the Boba 3G is by far the most versatile and comfortable for me. But more important, like other soft-structured carriers, it's also one of the most ergonomically correct ways to carry your child.

Baby carriers - the good ones, the safe ones, the ones that don't dangle your baby by his or her crotch - are one of the best parenting products overall. They give mom or dad a way to be hands-free to be with older siblings, run errands or do some light household chores. I also love the closeness it brings; there's nothing quite like a warm little body totally passed out on your chest.

Nothing says fall like the flavor of cinnamon! What's one of your favoritie recipes that has cinnamon in it? Please share a link with a photo.

Andrea

I don't have a photo but picture this: use last night's leftover butternut squash or sweet potato (or even cooked pumpkin since it's near Halloween), then mash it up or puree it. Take one cup of your favourite pancake mix, one good dribble of EVOO or melted butter, one cup of milk, a couple tablespoons each of wheat bran and salba, and a good shake of cinnamon; whisk briskly with half a cup of your puree. Pan-fry in butter. These are so tasty and sweet, you won't even need maple syrup. Of course, syrup's not at all out of the question... Enjoy!
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Can your recommend school shoes for girls that are both stylish and playground-ready? Please include a link!

Andrea

I absolutely LOVE everything from See Kai Run (http://www.seekairun.com/). These uber-high-quality shoes are healthy for growing feet and look great. The soles on the big kids' shoes are really thick so you needn't worry about them wearing out before your kid outgrows them.
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What are your best tips for birthday party invitations? (What to include, where to make them online, etc?)

Andrea

If you're in Canada, I suggest the online service from www.VistaPrint.ca. They have hundreds of invitation templates that are very customizable. You can often get upwards of 80% off if you watch the site regularly. While the cost of the actual invitations is really reasonable, they can get you on the shipping charges. So here's the trick: don't wait until the last minute. Sure, you can get invitations delivered in two days - but you're gonna pay through the nose. Better to give yourself a month and choose the cheapest (slowest) delivery method. In my experience - and I've been using the service for four years and have had invitations, thank you cards, and family "notecards" made - the delivery time is much faster than what you've paid for. Be sure to put the date, time and location, plus who the party is for and how old s/he's turning. Add an RSVP date, but know that not everyone will RSVP (but will show up) and some with RSVP and be no-shows. Leave a phone number or email address where people can reach you. And, if the directions to the location are particularly tricky, I like to add those to the back of the invitation. And - most important - don't forget to order one extra for your child's baby book/keepsake box. :)
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