Category Archives: Outdoor Toys

First camping

First Time Family Camping Tips

Spring is a great time to get friends and family together and go camping.  Never been camping before with kids, or ever?  No worries! We are here to help!

Lake Camping 3

First things first..decide where to go.

One of our favorite places to camp when the kids were little and even today is at the lake.  This is where we do most of our “car” camping. What’s “car” camping, you ask? It’s basically where we pack everything but the kitchen sink for the camping trip!  For this type of camping, it is usually at a campground where we reserve a site ahead of time.


What do I need to bring with me?

If this is your first time camping, chances are you are going to have to purchase a good amount of items.  The upfront cost can be expensive, but once you have essential camping equipment, it’s a pretty cheap weekend getaway!   I always suggest purchasing good quality gear up front.  It may cost more, but in the long run, you will not be replacing it as often, if at all!

1. Tent

How many people are you going to sleep in the tent? On the outside of the text bags/boxes, it will show you how many people can sleep in that tent.  If it shows 4 people on the box, technically 4 people can sleep in that tent.  That does not account for clothing bags and gear that you have in the tent with you.  Usually, if I am trying to fit my family of 4 in one tent I use a 6 – 8 person tent to account for all of our gear and sleeping.  If you have smaller kids a 6 person will be just fine.  Now that my kids are 16 and 18 we use an 8 person tent.

2. Sleeping Bags

Sleeping bags have different temperature ratings.  I recommend a sleeping bag with a 32-degree rating and a fleece sleeping bag for a few different reasons.  The first reason is, in the summer months I use the 32-degree bag underneath me for more padding and then I cover up with a fleece.  The second reason is, in the fall/winter/spring I use my 32-degree bag as my main bag and then I can put the fleece inside if I need it for more warmth.

3. Tarps

Tarps have all kinds of usage when camping.  We use one under our tent to keep moisture from seeping under our tent and getting inside the tent. We also hang one above our tent so that way if it rains and we get out of our tent we are covered from the weather.  And we put one above the cooking area in case of rain so we don’t get wet while cooking! Plus it gives us a dry place to sit and eat or play games.  Do not buy cheap tarps!  They will tear up after a few uses and you will have to keep replacing them.

4. Head Lamp and/or flashlight

When the sun goes down, you are going to want a flashlight or a headlamp.  There are about 10 billion options available.  My favorite is the MagLite SP2201H Black Mini Flashlight.  It is small enough for little kid hands or for it to fit in my pockets but powerful enough to shine a good bit of light so I can see where I am going.   

5. Cooking Gear

I cook at a campsite just like I do at home.  Really..I do!!  I have two camping boxes just for cooking equipment, including a full-size coffee maker.  I must have my coffee by the pot full, there is not an exception to this.  You are going to want a camping stove, fuel for the stove, pots, and pan to cook in, plates, cups, bowls, mixing bowls, soap, something to wash dishes in and to rinse them with. I literally bring everything under the sun but the kitchen sink!

I could go on and on with stuff that you need to bring with you camping.  REI has a pretty great list already made up that you can use to make sure that you have everything that you need! You can find the Camping Checklist here. You will not necessarily need everything on the list but it is a great guide to get you started.

Camping is a great way to get out of town and away for a weekend with the family. It helps to decompress and let the stress melt away.  Camping always helps me regroup and get centered again.  With the kids older now we seem to all be moving is different directions and never seem to be home together anymore, so it is wonderful to reconnect with my family!




Looking for something fun and easy to do with your kids outside? Try Dip Stix bubble kit.. great for all ages!

Dip Stix Extreme Bubbles

I haven’t met a child yet who doesn’t love to blow bubbles.  I buy my kids bubbles for almost every holiday as I’m sure a lot of parents do.  Bubbles are easy and entertaining.. two things I love!

We own automated bubble blowing machines, tiny bubble wands, big bubble wands, and spill-proof bubbles.  We recently added a new kind of bubble product to our bubble blowing collection called Dip Stix from award winning company Extreme Bubbles and the kids love them.  Not only can you make the biggest bubbles EVER but the bubbles last for a long time in the air.

Little kids, Big kids, Parents, and Grandparents all have fun together playing with our bubble products. Extreme bubbles add excitement and fun to parties, picnics, the park, or in your own backyard. Our motto is “Get outside and play,” and we truly believe that bubbles can make the world a better place.

Dip Stix Giant Bubble Maker Kit is a small package that contains everything you need to blow big bubbles anywhere; a set of Dip Stix, concentrated big bubble solution and a very sturdy bag with a zip enclosure to hold the big bubble solution.  Madelyn loves watching the bubbles float way up high.. the bubbles last a long time before popping.

Dip Stix are so easy my 4 year old can us them and my 10 year old loves them.   As you can imagine.. getting them to share is fun!  🙁  Sebastian is working on perfecting a few bubble tricks featured in this Dip Stix bubble tricks video on the Extreme Bubbles website.

Here are some photographs of my kids, 10 and 4, playing with their Dip Stix bubble kit from Extreme Bubbles.

Visit Extreme Bubbles’ website to learn more about Dip Stix and their other great bubble products and ‘Like’ Extreme Bubbles’ Facebook page here.

These Backyard Safari Outfitters’ toys supply kids with endless hours of outdoor fun

Backyard Safari Outfitters

Sebastian loves to be outside.   He’ll easily spend over an hour poking around the yard with a stick.  I don’t know what he’s looking for when he pokes around.. I’m just glad he’s occupying himself and is not in front of the TV.   I love watching him tiddle around in the yard whether he’s poking around with a stick or looking for mysterious bugs in the flower garden.  Madelyn, on the other hand.. she’s not a big ‘tiddler’.. she likes to run around and jump on the trampoline but she’s not into searching for cool bugs and ‘treasures’ (cool rocks) like Sebastian is.

Sebastian was really excited when he got a Bug Wrangler’s Extreme Suction Bug Vacuum and Essential Field Gear Cargo Vest from Backyard Safari Outfitters.

The Essential Field Gear Cargo Vest is geared for kids a little smaller/younger than Sebastian (he’s’s for kids ages 5 & up) but he romps around in it just the same.   He loves that the cargo vest has a gazillion pockets to hold things including his compas, a small flashlight, a granola bar, binoculars, a multi-tool.. and the list goes on.  As you can see in one of the photographs below, Sebastian was really excited about the pop-up field guide and was nice enough to share the second one he got, with the bug vacum, with Madelyn.  They walk around with their Backyard Safari Outfitters pop-up field guides like they rule the backyard!

Essential Field Gear Cargo Vest Features:

  • It’s durable – Rugged poly-twill fabric with reinforced detail
  • 4 cargo pockets with velcro closures
  • 1 two inch deep zipper pocket with mesh-net outer pocket
  • 6 D-RINGS
  • 2 over-sized mesh-net cargo pockets in rear

Bug Wrangler’s Extreme Suction Bug Vacuum Features:

Sneak up on bugs and suck them up.. in a nice and gentle way of course! There are THOUSANDS of crawling, flying, buzzing bugs in your backyard – catch them LIVE with your Bug Vac! Look at bugs UP-CLOSE with built-in magnifying glass!

  • 2 catch & release capture cores with built in magnifying glass
  • An extra cone for the really big bugs like the one Sebastian tried to catch in the video below

About Backyard Safari Outfitters

Children can now get up-close and personal with nature right in their own backyard or nearby park. BackyardSafari Outfitters equips young explorers with all the essential field gear they could possibly need for scoping out local “wildlife,” from insects in the grass to birds in the sky to frogs in a pond — and more!  Kids can choose from a broad array of fun gear and tools, including the practical and very snappy looking Cargo Vest, as well as the cool Bug Vacuum, Mega View Periscope – among dozens of other choices.

Follow Backyard Safari Outfitters on Facebook and Twitter.

To learn more about these and other Backyard Safari Outfitters products, visit Backyard Safari online.

Add some summer splashing excitement to your backyard with a Little Tikes Slam ‘n Curve Slide

KLittle Tikes Slam n' Curve Slideids love playing the water and what’s better than swimming and splashing in the summer?  How about sliding down a curving slide to shoot out into the cool waters of a splash pool?  Sounds fun, doesn’t it?  It is!  I can tell you first hand and that’s because despite the fact that I am in my 30’s, and not in the recommended ages range of 5-10 years old, I’ve been down the slide more than once.  There is a weight limit of around 300lbs so I felt OK about enjoying the Slam n’ Curve Slide with my kids.  We had a blast!

The Slam n’ Curve Slide from Little Tikes is designed so parents can see all the action.   I sit on the back porch while my kids enjoy the slide and splash pool.  The splash pool is just the right depth for Madelyn (3 yrs old) to enjoy while Sebastian goes down the slide again and again and again.  It never gets old.  The Slam n’ Curve Slide is made of puncture-resistance material and includes everything you need to set it up including stakes, the blower which inflates the Slam n’ Curve Slide in about 1 minute (no kidding!), a repair kit, and storage bag. A fun inflatable rock wall is the way up to the slippery slide with an optional spray of water (turn off or don’t hook up the hose if your kids don’t want the water spraying on them) coming down from the canopy at the top of the rock wall. The curve at the end of the slides makes for nice, fun, splash into the refreshing pool.

Here’s a short video of my kids enjoying the Little Tikes Slam n’ Curve Slide.

Learn more about the Little Tikes Slam n’ Curve Slide on the Little Tikes website and check the lowest prices at here.

Product Review: Little Tikes Butterfly Beach Sandbox and Wading Pool

Little Tikes Butterfly Beach SandboxIt’s imperative that moms relax and it’s nearly impossible for a mom to have alone time.   For me, sitting outside, even with the kids, is the next best thing to having alone time.  I am usually trying to relax when I’m sitting outside, so it’s important that the kids have something to do so they will leave me alone for a few minutes (right!?).
After much trial and error, I concluded that sand is just about the coolest outdoor toy ever.  So, now I have a sandbox on both porches.  On the front porch I have a shallow, wide plastic storage bin (the kind you put under a bed to store stuff in) filled with sand while the back porch, the one I sit on more often, has the more aesthetically pleasing Little Tikes Butterfly Beach Sandbox and Wading Pool.

The Little Tikes Butterfly Beach Sandbox and Wading Pool entertains both of my kids, 9 and 3,.. at the same time! Imagine that!
The butterfly’s wings unfold with one wing becoming the pool and the other wing is the sandbox.   It sounds like magic, but it’s not.  The sunshade pops into the butterfly’s back and provides great protection from the sun.  I absolutely LOVE having the sunshade.  When Madelyn is playing in the front porch sandbox (the make-shift storage bin sandbox) I have to move it as the sun shines down on the porch which is a pain because sand isn’t light!  When the kids are done playing in the Butterfly Beach Sandbox and Wading Pool, the emptied pool side folds over the sand side doubling as a secure lid. The Little Tikes Butterfly Beach Sandbox and Wading Pool is great for kids ages 2 and up and holds enough water and sand to occupy my 9 year old for a while.

The Little Tikes Butterfly Beach Sandbox and Wading Pool is sold at for about $45.

1 lucky subscriber will win a
Little Tikes Butterfly Beach Sandbox and Wading Pool!  Stay tuned and subscribe to learn how to enter starting April 1st.