The blistering hot, humid summer really has a way of taking the fun out of life. When fall finally arrives, we celebrate in a frantic haze of back to school events, sporting events and outdoor family fun. If you're not careful, celebration can lead to chaos. Here are a few ideas to help you restore a little fall sanity before Old Man Winter hitsâ€¦
barbecue to go
If you're like a lot of American families, just the thought of throwing together an afternoon picnic is exhausting. You know why? Because we have forgotten how to rough it! We think that, if we haven't planned for a week and packed every possible modern convenience, our experience will be lacking. It's about time to knock off that way of thinking. Start by running (not walking) to your local sporting goods store and purchasing a portable road grill. Fold it up, leave it in the trunk -- and weekend cookouts by the river or in the park will always be just a bag of frozen burgers away.
portable fun for baby
Activity centers for babies are a dime a dozen. So why do we love Fisher Price's Precious Planet Deluxe Musical Activity Gym? This design grows with your baby, so when she starts to roll onto her tummy or sit up, she'll still have lots to do. The toys are linked on, so if baby starts to fuss because she's bored, you can move things around for her. The best feature of this activity center is its portability. It folds up neatly so you can transport it easily to daycare, playgroup or any social function. Just imagine carting this to your sister's house knowing your baby will be thoroughly entertained. You know what that means: You might actually get to finish a cup of coffee -- or if you're really lucky, have a conversation that has a beginning, middle and an end!
I bought reusable shopping bags from Costco because I got sick of tripping over boxes after I put everything away. I love these things, and not only for warehouse trips. They are really inexpensive -- around $5 for four bags. If you're one of those overachieving organized types, you can put together one of these for the pool, one for picnics and one for sporting events, and leave them in the back of the SUV. When you get home from your fun-filled afternoon, haul the bags in, refill them and put them back in the car. And there it is. An inexpensive way to make your outings easier and "greener."
GRADE-A FIRST AID
Nothing can put a crimp in your follies like a tot who has been bitten, clocked in the head or taken a face-plant. Enter Medibag 4 Kids. These clever first-aid kits have cute bandages, stickers, ice packs and dozens of other disaster remedies. The folks at Medibag have figured out what parents and dentists already know: There are few mishaps in a child's life that can't be cured with diversion tactics like bright colors and cheerful stickers.