Category Archives for Kids and Family

Best Auto Stove Shut Off Device – Fire Avert

If you’re a fan of the TV program Shark Tank, you might be already familiar with this item, which was pitched on the program (and clearly succeeded). Its primary purpose is to connect with your smoke alarm and immediately shut down the stove and oven’s power if smoke is detected.

Fire Avert Electric Auto Stove Shut-off Safety Device
5 Reviews
Fire Avert Electric Auto Stove Shut-off Safety Device
  • Plug-in ready.
  • FireAvert is activated by your smoke alarm.
  • Your home will be protected from stove fires in minutes.
  • FireAvert will automatically cut power to your stove.
  • Installs in less then 10 minutes.

FireAvert plugs into the back of your stove and does not require any type of regular fee (like an alarm system) or even batteries. It simply plugs into your power system. Some alarm systems are triggered by loud noise, but FireAvert is not, which is yet another benefit of it.

The device only responds to the unique sound of your fire alarm.

One critique of fire alarms are that they respond too easily, but the FireAvert has a 30-second delay to adjust for quick cloud puffs of an overheated microwavable popcorn bag or frying an egg.

This device really makes me feel secure. That’s not because I am a regular cook, but because I travel almost constantly that I have rented my condo to long-term residents.

This means that I have one more layer of security that protects me from any concern of the building getting mistakenly burned down.

Three cheers for the little guy scoring a huge success on Shark Tank and bringing this unique product to the market. Whether it is for daily chefs or long-term travelers relying on AirBnb or others to keep their stoves active, this makes a great holiday gift.

The FireAvert retails for $150 on the company website or on Amazon.

What we recommend for your outdoor trips: ASAP Wound Dressing Gel- OTC

I live in a house where Band-Aids fix everything from the real ‘boo-boo’ to the imaginary. There’s something in the psychology of children that requires a cartoon branded sticker to fix the moment. But, what about adults? We don’t look nearly as cool with our Ninja Turtle or Doc Mcstuffin’s Band-Aids! Not to mention our ‘boo-boo’ are usually of a greater caliper and need sufficient care. As a surgical assistant I always have a stick or two of medical grade skin glue for these emergencies but the glue has an alcohol component to it, which creates a burning sensation approximately 1 minute after application. I’ve applied it to grown men and its taken them to their knees… we usually apply it while our patients are still under their anesthetic and for good reason!

Thus, I was intrigued by ASAP OTC Wound Dressing. Could it stand up to the hospital approved gel and be pain free? Yes and no. ASAP OTC Wound Dressing Gel is clear and odorless making the application on the any part of the skin appealing as it would not dye clothing or leave a funny color at the site. It provides a thin layer of protection over the affected area preventing germs from entering and by passing the body’s first defense, your skin. This product would work great for the road rash or steam burn from camping and outdoors activities but lacks the ability to approximate the edges of a wound and hold it together. With that said, if you were recovering from an accident or even a surgery where you had stitches or staples placed at the incision site, ASAP OTC Wound Dressing Gel would be the appropriate topical dressing to apply to maintain a germ free wound. Similar to colloidal silver, ASAP OTC Wound Dressing Gel is formulated with a more stable and bioavailable due to the Ag4O4 coating which is more hydrophilic thus allowing it to bind with the natural water in your body.

I have used this as a relief gel from chafing from my bra after a long run or at the neckline from my life jacket after spending a day on the lake wake surfing. You never know what germs are floating around in the lake so the antimicrobial properties of this gel sets my mind at ease.

It is offered in three different sizes making it easy to throw a couple 1.5oz packages in the boat or on the pack I carry on my bike, a 4oz package in my day hike backpack and the 5g option in my first aid kit.

Although I will still carry my skin glue, it has found a travel companion in ASAP OTC Wound Dressing Gel for they work well as a team and for this mom, an overall arsenal of wound healing and infection prevention for my family.

Don’t forget to look into their other products in the line: Pet care (wound dressing gel), Silvers Tooth Gel and ASAP 365 SilverGel for cosmetic use!

Zumer Sport bags and backpacks

This unique company has found a clever way to recycle and repurpose old sporting equipment into stylish bags and carrying cases. Zumer Sport make perfect gifts for sports lovers or those that want to tote around a bag that is different from everyone else.

The company uses actual sports ball materials in the design of everything from drawstring bags to backpacks and duffel bags. I tested out one of the company’s carrying cases that worked perfectly for storing a passport, keys, coins, pens, and other small items. It actually looks like handcrafted leather and appears more expensively than it actually is.

Backpacks range between $60 and $100 while other products are far cheaper. Wallets cost about $20 while business card holder and luggage tags are $13.

Unlike leather, the bags hold up quite well and have no issue if they get wet in the rain. Their durable surface, since it is designed for heavy wear as sports equipment, can withstand constant tosses and tussles.

Personally, I think that some items like basketballs can have a distinct smell to the material, but these bags lack that odor thankfully (although the texture and appearance remain the same).

It is really cool to see the way companies are thinking outside of the box to attract customers. Surely, this is not the cheapest material to acquire and redesign to use in this way, but it will appeal to those looking for something either unique or eco-friendly.

Zumer Sport bags are great for sports teams, gifts for friends and family, or simply as a treat to yourself if you’re looking for a gym bag with a twist. They are available on the Zumer Sport website or on Amazon.

CleverMade SnapBasket Review

CleverMade SnapBasket Collapsible Shopping Tote
69 Reviews
CleverMade SnapBasket Collapsible Shopping Tote
  • Space-saving solution that combines packing, transport and storage into one.
  • Flop-free structured design means no more spilled groceries.
  • Features a zippered stash pocket for valuables.
  • Stability feet prevent tipping and 2 carry handles.
  • Collapses flat to 1.3″ for compact storage.

Busy road warriors (especially those that live in condos or apartments with limited space) may find these to be a great way to stay organized during short breaks when returning home.

It is not uncommon for me to arrive from overseas in the evening, turn my suitcase upside down, refill it, and leave for another continent the next morning. That’s why staying organized (or at least pretending to) is important to me.

I really like how easy the CleverMade Collapsible Container and soft-sided SnapBasket make that a cinch.

Everyone has been to The Container Store and seen the vast array of products on the market, but these shift between efficient use at home or on the road. It makes it so much easier to transport accessories to a conference or trade show in these (than a suitcase or box) since they look good in public, but can also be collapsed and stored under a bed, table, or behind a trade show stand.

The CleverCrates stack on top of each other and protect the contents inside while also latching together to keep them from falling during movement. The newer SnapBasket is similar in design, but is fantastic when you’re on the go since it is more like a lightweight, soft-sided container with handle.

When you’re finished using it, the handle hinges down to fold flat for easier storage.

It can hold more than 25 pounds plus has a zippered pocket for smaller items. There are so many uses for this from grocery shopping to transporting items from your car to the office.

It is great when I am bringing home materials from a work trip because instead of lugging a box or throwing them into a disorganized rolling suitcase, I can wheel them more respectably without burdening my shoulder or back.

Lest you are worried for the base to become dingy with water from puddles, there is a special fabric lining the bottom to keep it durable. But, just in case, the plastic surface is also easy to wipe if it does get wet or dirty.

Its variety of colors even lets you color coordinate it for the appropriate setting. The SnapBasket comes in various sizes (including a thermo version serving as a cooler) and retails for about $15-20 on the SnapBasket website or on Amazon.

Dryfins Swimwear for Guys

Let me start by saying I’m not a guy, and Dryfins swimwear makes products for guys. That said, I’m the mom of three boys, and as such, I’m acquainted with the problem Dryfins has set out to solve: chafing and rash below the belt caused by those netted liners in men and boys’ swimsuits.

So sure, this is a problem that happens to guys, but let’s be real: as a mom, if my son has chafing from his swimsuit, it becomes my problem as well. My kids love the water, and we spend a lot of time in pools, at beaches, in lakes, and in rivers. Over the years, I’ve cut the mesh liner out of swim trunks numerous times, and doled out petroleum jelly or aloe more than once. My boys have tried swimming with underwear under their swim shorts, they’ve tried wetsuits over their swim shorts…everything. They’ve still ended up with that awful chafe.

Dryfins are designed differently than any other pair of swim trunks I’ve come across. Instead of that dreaded mesh liner, Dryfins feature a built-in solid stretch liner that fits just like a pair of biker shorts or boxer briefs. This is the style of underwear my kids prefer anyway, so they knew they’d find them comfortable. The outer section of the Dryfins is a very soft material that looks good dry or wet, is quick to dry, and resists stains and sand.

You get a draw cord at the waist, as well as elastic, and a nice-looking logo on the bottom front right. Best of all, according to my 11-year-old, you get three pockets in the Dryfins. Usually, boys get exactly none in swim suits. The Dryfins feature two side pockets that are surprisingly deep, plus a back pocket with velcro closure.

Dryfins are simple and classic in terms of styling. In the mens’ sizes, you get three choices of color: red, blue, or green, and they’re all solid (no prints). In the boys’, the choice is red or blue. The red is a rich, bright red, and the blue is a deep nautical blue. I like that the boy Dryfins, as least, are cut generously, so there’s plenty of space in them for kids to run and jump and swim. They don’t come down as long as some current styles (the hem hits at mid thigh), but I like that too: again, it’s all the better to play in.

If you have kids who are serious about their water sports, spending whole summers in wet swimsuits, Dryfins are absolutely worth the investment. Pick up Dryfins for adults for $52, in sizes S-XXXXL (ranging from 29″ waist to 49″). The S and M fit my teen boys perfectly. The boys’ Dryfins are $42 in YS-YXL. My 11-year-old (a little bit small for his age) fits in the M.

Swann DriveEye Ultra HD Dash Cam/ Action Cam

Swann DriveEye Ultra Portable 3MP HD Vehicle Recorder
2 Reviews
Swann DriveEye Ultra Portable 3MP HD Vehicle Recorder
  • Vehicle safety system protects you from fraudulent insurance claims.
  • See every detail including license plates with Super HD 3 Megapixels.
  • Download the free DriveEye Ultra app to control advanced features.
  • Connect to your home Wi-Fi network & use the cloud setting to view live footage remotely.
  • Record footage & audio to Micro SD (takes up to 64GB, not included).

Lest you think you are the latest new hire at the police academy, business travelers have many uses for this type of small camera. For me, it has exceptional use as a security device on the road since I travel so frequently.

It is extremely small making it undetectable to the eye when in use. While it is probably not appropriate to film people without their consent, it does come in handy while finagling with a taxi driver, shopkeeper, or other type of on-the-spot deal that you might need to replay.

The uses of the camera are endless, especially since it has a dashboard mount that allows it to stay in place and record driving situations when in the car. This puts it beyond the scope of even the average business traveler and makes it usable for everyone from carpooling moms to keeping an eye on kids or pets.

A 120-degree wide angle lens pans a large surface area. The camera and video recorder offer a 3 megapixel capture and video compression technology to allow for a longer capture time (as many as 2,000 minutes) or repeat looping of the recording. An internal sensor can detect collisions or heavy bumps to prevent recordings from overlapping. Some of my friends use this as a camera to record video while driving (for example, when on a recent safari), and it created some fantastic content to watch again later.

There is also an automatic video stabilization feature to keep bumpy videos from appearing to grainy.
It is easy to transfer data from the camera to a cell phone or laptop (or also via the memory card, which is similar to a digital camera). Other ports allow automatic playback on a television, and movie maker buffs can even attach it to a tripod to record steady video. Embedded wifi capability allows users to stream recorders over an Internet signal.

Even if it is not connected to power, there is a lithium ion battery to record remotely (especially important for those on the go) that can last as much as four hours. This clever camera retails for $180 at the Swann website or on Amazon.

Aspenta Vectu Portable Vehicle Tracker

My first thought when I was introduced to the Aspenta Vectu Portable Vehicle Tracker was along the lines of, ‘I really don’t have anyone in my life whose driving habits I feel the need to track’. However, this simple, lightweight device does so much more! It’s not just a cool (or creepy, you decide) spy tool, though I guess it is that too.

aspenta-GPSWhat is it? The Vectu is a portable GPS tracker about the size of your palm. It comes with an installed SIM card, which allows you to use it anywhere in the world where GSM reception exists (this would be everywhere except Japan, South Korea and North Korea). I guess if you need GPS tracking in North Korea, you have bigger problems, anyway.

Just place the activated Vectu tracker wherever you need it, and track its location using the free myAspenta app for iOS and Android. You can also access tracking online, at The location updates every 60-seconds on a map on your app.

It’s designed to track a vehicle, and that’s where we tried it out first. Since we have a teen driver, we placed the device in his car (with his knowledge) and gave it a spin. We were able to track his location back and forth across town, and could even add extra people to the system, so my husband could track him as well as myself. We trust our teen driver, so we’re not using the tracker to catch him in trouble, but it’s nice to be able to see his location without texting him to ask. Using the app is much safer for him as a driver. There’s also an emergency help button, which is nice to have.

Should we want to monitor our driver more closely, there are some cool additional features on the Vectu. You can set a speed limit and get an alert when that speed is breeched, and even place a ‘geo-fence’ around the device; it will alert you if the driver travels outside this ‘zone’. You can view up to 90 days of activity on the app or on your computer.

The Vectu is very versatile. In addition it using it to help our teen driver, it can be placed in luggage to track its location as we travel, or even stashed in a backpack or bag to track a person for safety purposes. While he won’t be in range of a signal at all times, we plan to place the Vectu in our son’s backpack during a multi-day hike next summer. It will be reassuring to know his location, even if updates are scarce. Solo travelers can use the Vectu to stay ‘on the radar’ of friends and family members back at home.

The set-up process: It literally took me two minutes to take the Vectu out of the box, start charging it with the included USB cord, and download the myAspenta app (there’s also an Android version). I registered with just one simple form, and was off and running. There is a annual service fee of $36, but this fee is waived the first year. I really appreciate this; it will give me a full year to decide how much I actually use the Vectu.

The Vectu is only 3.7H x 2.2W x 0.7D inches and weighs in at 3.3 oz (94 g). It’s $99 on the Aspenta site, with free shipping, or available on Amazon for the same price. If you don’t need to use it in your car, a smaller personal GPS locator is also available.



Phone Soap UV Light Sanitizing Machine

Photo credit, Phone Soap

Photo credit, Phone Soap

It is true, even though it is better not to think about it, our phones are covered in germs from our hands (especially the screen where we type away madly). We place them on strange surfaces, and whether from surfaces or in-air particles, our phones are subject to floating germs from people who cough or sneeze around us.

A bit of a germaphobe myself, I was intrigued to learn about the Phone Soap machine. It is certainly clunky looking and a bit large (perhaps to fit a multitude of phone types), but it is a no-brainer to set up on a countertop and keep discreetly out of the way. It is designed to kill germs on the surface of your phone through infrared light.

The way it works is that you thread your charger through a side opening and then plug your charger’s USB into the side of the case. The case has its own charger that goes into the wall. It fits various types of phones including the larger iPhone 6 and Android.

Once you place your phone inside and secure the lid, a blue ultraviolet light switches on and begins the sanitization process. Don’t ask me how the light cleans the phone, but it is similar to what one might find in some gyms where brushes and combs are placed in a similar contraption.

The device came with a notice that radio frequency energy can be emitted by this device and that it may cause interference with other devices. However, I never noticed any type of disruption with my phone or remote controls, and I have been using it for several months.

It is a bit bulky to travel with, and I choose to simply leave it at home so that I can give my iPhone a good cleaning after returning from a trip. This is a nifty novelty item, but provides an important service to keep your mobile device germ-free. It retails for $60 at the Phone Soap website or on Amazon.

Hi-Tec Altitude Lite Jr hiking boot for kids

We’ve reviewed multiple Hi-Tec shoes and boots, including the men’s lightweight Altitude Lite, but what about the Altitude Lite for kids? Hi-Tec Altitude Lite Jr  combines the same high-quality, low impact hiking boot for adults with a fit designed just for younger hikers.


We have three junior hikers in the family, and while each love the outdoors, finding quality gear that actually fits and feels comfortable has proven key to getting them to enjoy hiking. Our ten-year-old has been wearing the Altitude Lite Jr throughout the year, and we’ve found this boot to be a great all-purpose hiking shoe. It’s lightweight, waterproof, and comfortable enough that he describes it as a ‘shoe’. I love the high ankle support to prevent rolls, and how sturdy it’s proven through three seasons of hiking in Oregon. It does well in slush and mud, on rocky trails, and even in sand, to a lesser degree (does anything do well in sand?).

The outer material of the Altitude Lite Jr. is stain-resistant…a quality you don’t think you need in a hiking shoe until your kid dumps an entire cup of kool-aid on his feet. You also get a breathable membrane, to prevent odor and keep feet temperature manageable during the summer months, and the lacing system promises a snug fit. It even includes what Hi-Tec calls a ‘Big-Fit’ system, which allows kids’ feet room to grow with adjustable and removable insoles. This is my favorite feature, as my kids often go through two shoe sizes a year!

Otherwise, the Altitude Lite Jr has all the features you’d expect to see (and do see) on the adult version, including an abrasion-resistant toe cap for extra protection, a steel shank for support and stability, MDT traction and grippy rubber outsole, and gusseted tongue (which stops annoying pebbles from entering the shoe).

The Altitude Lite Jr comes in size 1.5-6, with a second toddler/little kid category for even smaller sizes. There are several color options. My boys like the charcoal/black/sunray, with just enough bright color to pop, but they are also available in a smoky brown and a lavender. Pick up a pair for $64 directly from Hi-Tec or look for a deal on REI, Zappos, or Amazon.

Review for Kidz Gear Bluetooth Headphones

Trying to find a pair of headphones that fit head of Alex, my 7-year old daughter, without slipping off seemed like a simple task to accomplish. Sadly, it was not so. In-ear buds were never her first choice, and I found they were prone to falling out when she moved around. Spending hundreds of dollars for a pair that Alex would grow out of in a few years also seemed like bad idea to me. Thankfully, I discovered Kidz Gear Unplugged Bluetooth wireless stereo headphones and my daughter was quickly hooked. The first comment Alex had for me when she put them on was how soft the pads were, and how they fit well on her ears.

Made with durable kid-friendly materials, the Kidz Gear Unplugged wireless headphones can take the rough handling of my active 7 year old daughter. These headphones are completely adjustable and fit her small head. The straps have quite a wide size range, so I know Alex will be able to keep these around for quite a few years. They even fit me. These headphones also come with a Boom Microphone which comes in handy when Alex practices her Spanish for school.

One of the main reasons I decided to go with the Kidz Gear Unplugged wireless headphones is the KidzControl volume limit feature. This cable comes included, and I always make sure Alex utilizes this feature when she needs to wear the headphones for long periods at a time. She can even adjust the volume herself so that she talks to me in a normal tone, rather than yelling over her headphones.

As long as I remember to pack the charge cord, travelling with the unplugged wireless headphones was a breeze, although I do recommend having a portable back-up battery charger on hand for long road trips or plane rides.

I didn’t quite realize how handy the wireless feature was until I saw it in action. I could finally say goodbye to the days of pulling out a knotted mess of wires. The Kidz Gear Unplugged wireless series will work with infrared-based car entertainment systems, iPads, iPhones and many other audio devices.

All in all, the Kidz Gear Unplugged wireless headphones are durable, affordable, and most importantly, have great sound. You can buy these headphones directly from their website for $59.99. This includes a free carry bag to make them easy to find, and keep them clean.