Well Hello Kitty, Nice to Have You Back Where Girls Belong

File this under things that make me feel old. This year marks 35 years since Hello Kitty came to America (37 since the cute cat with the big bow was born in Japan). Yeah. Old. No wonder I can’t remember where I left my keys.

And to drive that little bit home, the kitschy creature we all wanted splashed on our Trapper Keepers (fourth grade flashback!!) is still a hot commodity for the kindergarten set. Which includes my 5 1/2-year-old. Only problem?

Is it me or has the adult market taken over this childhood fave? Perhaps it’s because we grew up with her, and we just can’t let go, but the sudden appearance of Hello Kitty wine and the like, the hipsters are totally cramping the parent’s style.

So I couldn’t help myself. When The Children’s Place contacted this here swag hag and asked if I wanted to take a peek at their new Hello Kitty shop, I said hells to the yeah! All for the sake of parental good, naturally (cough, cough). And, honestly, we’re big Children’s Place shoppers anyway. Their jeans tend to fit my daughter’s teeny weeny waist with the adjustable waistband, and their headbands are the ONLY ones I’ve found that stand up to a rough and tumble tot. For Christmas, we asked for (and received!) gift cards to CP from family members to keep the kid’s closet stocked. So I was pretty comfortable stepping out on this limb anyway.

Here was the deal. They sent me a $25 gift card to the store to cover a Hello Kitty item, plus shipping. Usually companies pick this kind of thing FOR a blogger, so it was the rare chance to take my kid on a site and let her pick. I let her at it. And you know how kids are. She picked about five things. To which I said, yeah, nice try. But even this here grinch couldn’t cut her off at the tutu. So I caved. I kicked in some of my own funds (yeah, yeah, sucker!).

So why am I gushing about this company? Is it because I got some free stuff? Oh, you should know me better than that by now!

Honestly, I was looking at the Hello Kitty line, and I was comfortable giving her free rein to pick her faves. It FIT my daughter’s style; it was appropriate for a 5, almost 6-year-old. That’s the key for me. I see too many little girls running around with words written across the backside (if you’re nodding your head here, please pick up a copy of Celia Rivenbark’s Stop Dressing Your Six-Year-Old Like a Tramp, you’ll be in cranky mom heaven).

But there’s the right sense of funky. The tutu ($19.95) with a soft inner layer covered in Hello Kitty faces was a hit for style (and on comfort note, it won for separating the scratchy tutu material from the skin — tutu makers, take note!). Check it out:

Cuteness, right? I want one for me. Which, erm, is the whole Hello Kitty conundrum, isn’t it? We want Sanrio’s sweetie for US. The kid also had her heart set on the Hello Kitty dance t-shirt way up top. The right amount of 80s style balanced with kid cuteness, I caved. It was $9.95 (they always get me with that 5 cents; I feel like I’m saving when I spend less than $10 — I can’t be the only one). And with a little headbanging hip hop dancer in the house, it fit.

Do you have trouble finding kid-appropriate clothes when the adults take over their cartoon faves? What’s your favorite in the Hello Kitty shop?

Disclosure: I received a $25 gift card from The Children’s Place in order to access items to facilitate this review. I wasn’t paid for this review, and the opinions expressed are my own.

GIVEAWAY: Fisher-Price Doodle Bear (Ends 5/26)

Fisher-Price Doodle Bear

Most of the time, I hate stuffed animals. There. I said it. I’m like the person who bypasses cute little bunnies and steals lollipops from babies, but I hate those suckers.

OK, MOST of those suckers. Because the thing is, with an almost 6-year-old in the house, I am inundated with those fluffy little things that you can’t wash. Really. Surface wash only? Manufacturers, are you nuts? This is for a CHILD. And I can’t WASH the thing?

Rant done. Kind of. Because I have some good news and SOME BETTER NEWS.

Fisher-Price has come up with a new kind of stuffed animal that is made to go in the washing machine. Excuse me for a moment:

OK, now that that’s over. The better news — for you anyway — is that the company sent me one of these bad boys to test out. AND they’re going to send one to a reader of Inside Out foh’ freeeeeeeeeeee.

Yeah man! Now the detes — called the Fisher-Price Doodle Bear, it looks a bit like a Care Bear to me (although you didn’t hear that from me, I think that’s trademarked?). Anyhoo, it’s soft and cuddly like a standard stuffie, but the surface is fur-free so the kids can use washable markers (included) all over it to decorate their little friend. And now for the kicker — when they’re done, you just throw it in the wash to clean it off.

I was a bit bummed that the bear — we got the “pink” version named Rose, but there’s a blue one named “Sky” and a purple one named “Violet” too — had as much decoration already on it as she (he? it?) did. I could see this working a tad bit better if it were all white. But the markers do work on the whole bear, and most kids I know love to color outside the lines anyway! And did I mention it’s machine-washable?

The bear retails for $21.99 at Toys R Us, but as I mentioned before, Fisher-Price is giving an Inside Out reader their own. Want in?

Here’s how it works. For an entry, leave a tale of the worst EVER stuffed animal disaster in your house.

Want extra entries? Of course you do. Soooo, you can:

1. Follow me on Twitter @jeannesager and tweet this giveaway. Leave a link to your Tweet in the comments below.
2. Become a Facebook fan of Inside Out Motherhood, and leave a comment telling me (and drop by to leave me a comment on there too if you want — I’m a glutton for looooove). 
3. Grab my purty new button (you’ll see it at left), post it on your blog, then leave me a link in comments so I can come visit you and say hi!

I think that’s it. Oh yeah — make sure I have some way to contact you if you’re the winner. If you’re a blogger and have a contact on your blog, that’ll do so you don’t have to put your email out there for the world to see. But if not, how about a Twitter handle, something, so I can reach out. Or you can check back. The contest will end May 26.

Disclosure: Although Fisher-Price provided me with a bear to facilitate the review, I was not paid for for my comments,, and all opinions expressed are my own.

Because Growing Up Doesn’t Have to Taste It

Quick, tell me which of these reasons for having my kid are true: Because my husband wanted one. Because I wanted one. Because they brought all the ’80s toys back, and I needed a good excuse to buy them. Because I would still rather run something that tastes like bubblegum over my teeth in the morning, but that’s not appropriate when you’re approaching 30?

OF COURSE it’s the first two. Uh huh. You keep thinking that.

And while you’re at it, confession time. I AM approaching 30, and I still think that mint stuff tastes like . . . a word my 5 1/2-year-old is supposed to pretend she doesn’t hear out of my mouth. So I’m not dumb enough to go through 13 hours of labor on pitocin for the world’s worst reason (what, do I look like Katie Holmes?), but I’ve been known to sneak a dab of something marked “junior” onto my brush in the morning.

But those days are done ladies and gents. Hello swag. I have missed you my good friend. In the time that my blog has been semi-dormant, I’ve missed out on fabulous inventions like this new one sent my way by Colgate (yes, folks, that’s what they call disclosure . . . I got schtuff fo’ freeeeeeeeeee). Wisps, you know those itty bitty on-the-go toothpastes that I have by the dozens (no kidding, I’ve spent real money on these things because I’m manic about bad breath) has added an Icy Bubble flavor.

Can we get an OMG? OK, overused. But how else do flip the lights fantastic online about how this little doodad has changed my life? I don’t have to hide it anymore! I can indulge in the kid stuff in an adult package! Huzzah. They aren’t extremely bubblicious (sigh), but what they lack in super bubblegum flavor is made up for by a freshness from the “icy” mint side without the minty taste that makes me gag.

Oh yeah, and the kid likes it too — which is awesome because as I once mentioned over at The Stir (that would be the day job), these babies are a LIFESAVER for the morning routine. When the kid isn’t cooperating . . . which happens ONLY on odd Tuesdays and even Fridays, natch . . . they’re my little guarantee that she’ll still have clean teeth by the time she gets to school, even if we’re running late.

So spill it . . . what’s your “childhood” only craving that’s followed into adulthood?

A Gift to Chill Out Mom

Invitations to baby showers are piling up, and you don’t have time to hit the store for every single blessed registries. Skip them all and head for the Qube.

The makers of emergency preparedness kits for families have come up with a one-stop shower gift that will fit every mom-to-be and her baby. The Ice-Qube Baby to Go comes stocked with a full set of baby toiletries in sample size (perfect for stowing in the diaper bag), all the medical supplies you need for simple (non hospital) baby medical care, plus extras of everything kids lose on the go (think pacifers, toy keys).

With a onesie and actual diapers, it’s an extra diaper bag already stocked in one big sturdy cardboard square. All mom has to do after the shower is shove it in the trunk of her car. You just bought her peace of mind . . . she can chill out now.

Get the Baby to Go Ice Qube for $96.82 (remember what you’d pay for each of those items individually).

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Celebrate “Lost Sock” Memorial Day With a Free Set of Socks

In our house, we blame it on the dryer gnomes. Also known as the mysterious force that walks off with just one sock of any particular set.

The folks over at Little MissMatched have made that a problem of the past with their mismatched sets of three socks – that’s right, there are no pairs, and hence you’re never one sock short! With rockin’ colors and designs that are always a little bit off, you’ll find something for your little girl and you too (they have ’em for kids AND for women).

It’s a way to play Mommy and Me and still be unique (and keep your feet warm).

And since this weekend is Lost Sock Memorial Day (which they didn’t make up, believe it or not), you can get two sets for the price of one from Little MissMatched. The offer is good from May 7th through the 11th, so check out Little Miss Matched!

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Psychedelic Strawberry Tee for Your Little Hippie

You know what they say about location, location, location?

Yes, I’m Woodstock obsessed. But you can blame it all on my location folks – I grew up a stone’s throw from the site of the best known musical festival on earth. And now that the whole of Sullivan County, NY is gearing up for the 40th Anniversary (including the paper I work for), I’ve been on the hunt for groovy finds for little hippies.

My favorite for little girls? This delicious strawberry tee from Decaf Plush. The psychedelic size of the sewn on felt fruit makes your eyes dance (while you’re grooving to the music in your head), and the cotton American Apparel-made tee is soft on little skin.

You can get it from one of my favorite shopping spots on the Web – Psychobaby for $35, and if you buy today, you can use code SPRING15 to get 15 percent off your order.

Too late? Become a fan of Psychobaby on Faceboook, send them a picture of your own psycho baby by May 31, and you’ll be entered to win a $250 gift card.

Want more Woodstock finds for kids? Check out my whole list over at Droolicious:

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Win a Dainty Initial Necklace From Homespun City

Ready for Mother’s Day? What about Father’s Day?

You don’t have to show the world you’ve got two point five kids with your jewelry this year thanks to Homespun City, home of dainty initial necklaces, hand made with an initial on delicate charms that sit just so on the throat. Both sexy and sweet, nothing about these necklaces screams “mom,” and yet each initial in the bunch can stand for your kids, your partner, or yourself.

As the name implies, it’s a line spun in the city with a hint of home, from something to slip on for yoga to the gorgeous bouquet that blossoms on the neck.

I’ve reviewed them over at Droolicious this week in ode to Mother’s Day, and Homespun City’s talented owner Catie has offered to give one mom (or dad) a chance at winning one for Mother’s Day.

To get one, check out the post on Droolicious, which will link you straight to my favorites from Catie’s shop, Homespun City on Etsy (or go straight to Homespun City.) Follow the links over, and you have the chance to pick out your favorite. Leave your pick (other than the dainty) back here in comments for an entry into the drawing. Get extra entries by grabbing my badge and/or blogging about this contest and all (remember to leave the link in comments as well).

Open to U.S. and Canadian residents, the contest will close on May 5, so remember to check back or subscribe at left to be notified right away. NEW SUBSCRIBERS for the month of April will all be entered to win the new Tamagotchi Music Star from Bandai.

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Win Tina Fey’s Sesame Street Debut on DVD

You love Tina Fey for the gut-busting (and totally under-rated) funniness that is 30 Rock. Our kids love her for being their favorite pirate . . . argh!

Tina’s Sesame Street debut hit stores in DVD form this week, and she’s carried off one of my favorite celeb on the street guest spots I’ve seen in my three years of watching. With all of their other favorite Sesame Street characters (and a guest spot by NBC’s Brian Williams that made me chuckle), it’s on Amazon now.

But you can win one over at Droolicious! Check it out and get entered!

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Win a Signed Copy of “If I Stay”

If I Stay has only been on shelves since the beginning of the month, and it’s already gotten the nod as the next book-to-movie adaptation from Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke.

Poignant and haunting, the book may well take over the place Twilight has held in the hearts of all those Twilight moms out there.

And you can get a signed copy from author Gayle Forman. Check out the giveaway going on over at Droolicious for details!

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Save Big on Swimsuits

Protect-a-Bub is closing out its line of UPF 50+ swimsuits, and they’re giving parents the chance to cash in on the savings.

You can get up to 70 percent off right now on the line as you get ready for summer. Want to get in on the action? Click here.

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