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Top 5 Year-Round Vacation Destinations

Summer is finally here! The kids are out of school, the pool is calling your name, and a much deserved vacation is in sight. But when work, weather, and the kids are unpredictable, it can be hard to decide on the best time and place to travel in the summer.

So, to make life a little easier, we have compiled a list of our 5 favorite family getaways perfect for any time of year. No matter the season, these trips are perfect for any family!

And to get everything you need to make travel with the family fun and easy, head over to zulily.

Relax on a beach in the Hawaiian Islands

Why we love it?

No matter the time of year, everyone loves a trip to the Hawaiian Islands. You and your family can sunbathe and build sandcastles on the beach, snorkel through the crystal clear waters, or go for a breath-taking bike ride around any of the islands. The world-famous Hawaiian surf season takes place in the winter, so from November through March you and your family can check out the professionals catching waves nearly 30ft high!

 

Soak up the sun in San Diego, CA

Why we love it?

With temperatures resting between the high 60s and low 70s all year round, San Diego offers you and your family the perfect escape from the humid summers or the frigid winters. No matter what time of year, you’ll never be bored. You can learn to ride the waves in family surf sessions, swing by the world famous San Diego Zoo to see over 4,000 animals, or make a trip to Lego Land to check out a 34 foot long dinosaur made entirely of Lego bricks. To top it all off, you can end the day relaxing and watching the sun go down at one of the many beach-side restaurants!

 

Explore the mountains in Park City, UT

Why we love it?

Park City is nestled between three ski and snowboard resorts, making it the perfect setting for both winter and summer fun. During the holiday season, families can hit the slopes 7 days a week. But don’t worry, if you are new to the mountain, all the resorts offer lessons for kids and adults! Once the snow melts in the summer months, families can slide down the Alpine Slide, zip line across the mountains, hike on the countless trails, or horseback ride through the hills.

 

Rent a cabin in Lake Tahoe

Why we love it?

Lake Tahoe is one of the world’s greatest vacation destinations. Whether it’s skiing at Heavenly or Squaw Valley Resorts, kayaking in the shimmering waters of Emerald Bay, or hiking the trails of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Tahoe will keep you and your family entertained. So, no matter the season, treat your family to a special vacation in the mountains this year, we promise you’ll fall in love with it!

 

Take a Cruise…Anywhere!

Why we love it?

What makes a cruise vacation so much fun is that you can take your family anywhere you want any time of year; it is the perfect customized vacation! In the summer months, you and your family can sail off to Alaska to explore the stunning glaciers and even learn to dog sled.  During the cold season, you can hop on board a cruise to the Caribbean or take a trip to the Galapagos.  Cruises offer countless onboard and shore activities, so that you and your family can create the vacation of your dreams. 

 

zulily’s Top 10 Toy Picks for the Dog Days of Summer

by Amy E. Goodman, Lifestyle Editor zulily

Lemonade stands. Sprinkler hopping. Melting ice cream cones that drip faster than you can lick. It’s definitely sum-sum-summer time.

My family has been living for the outdoors. Our art projects take place in the cool of the morning shade. Come afternoon, we check on the progress of our peach tree. Even dinner is an al fresco affair, often barbequed and served up with hot, buttery corn.

But after riding bikes and drawing with chalk and chasing down our peach-stealing squirrels (never caught mind you!), my kiddos yearn for something new and fun to do.

At zulily we picked our top 10 summer toys to keep your kids happy and engaged…and buying you more time to relax in your lounge chair and quietly sip your margarita and enjoy the bliss that is summer.

#1 Float Away!

With my daughter on the swim team for the first time this year, we’re spending an inordinate amount of time at the pool. So when she doesn’t have to swim laps, cool pool floats are a welcome respite and can be lots of fun.

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Game Station & Chair Float Set, Swimline

#2 Battleship

A pool float that sprays water at your friends? Are you kidding? A child’s dream. (And when you get too hot in said lounge chair, you can ask for a refreshing squirt.)

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Swimline, Battleboards Water Squirter Float Set

 #3 Roly Poly

This certainly livens up a trip to the park or a family reunion, and will undoubtedly provide your kids with hours of entertainment. Just steer clear moms…no sun bathing while the Mammoth Beach Ball is in motion or you might just be balled over!

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Mammoth Beach Ball, S&S Worldwide

 #4 At-Home Parachuting

Okay, so no jumping out of planes just yet, but kids love a massive parachute for tossing, rippling, running underneath and disappearing under. Add some balls on top and you have your own “popcorn” maker. What’s nice is that this is great activity for kids of all ages.

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30’ Parachute, Pacific Play Tents

#5 Tether Ball…is Back

I’d like to think that my beloved tether ball never went anywhere (I can still feel the arm rope burns to prove it), but apparently it’s made a comeback. This new and improved version is portable and dignified with chic paddles. While kids have at it, mom and dad can secretly make Napoleon Dynamite references: “You wanna play me?”

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Paddle tether Ball Set, Alex Toys

#6 Lanterns for Lightening Bugs

With these warm muggy nights, the fireflies are out. And while flashlights are too bright and having no light is too dark, these cutie pie headlamps are just right. Your kiddo might even be mistaken for a lightening bug in the hunt!

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Frog & Monkey Headlamp Set

#7. Water Balloon Slingshots!  

There is nothing better than a good water balloon fight on a hot summer day. These water balloon slingshots make for a great addition to the game…quick, get to your battle stations!

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Water Balloon Slingshot Set

#8 Up, Up and Away!

It’s amazing how much joy my kids get out of those single loop, glow-in-the-dark necklaces; yes, the plastic ones that last only one night. Imagine how much fun they’d have with these LED ultra glow Stomp Rockets? It’s the nighttime version of one of their favorite daytime toys.

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Ultra LED Stomp Rocket Kit, Stomp Rocket

#9 Movie Night

Want to be the cool family on the block? This 132” outdoor projection screen from Camp Chef will promote picnic family dinners and make you an instant neighborhood hit, especially if you play new releases. And if there’s a sudden summer storm? No worries, it works indoors too.

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Entertainment Gear 132” Indoor/Outdoor Projection Screen, Camp Chef

#10 Grill Like a Grownup

Though my husband does most of the grilling, I know how to fire up our grill thank you very much—and now my little ones can too with their very own miniature grill set by American Plastic Toys. I dare you to place them side-by-side and see who produces the best burger!

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My Very Own Grill Set, American Plastic Toys

Brand Spotlight: Q&A with Founder of Haiti Babi

Katlin Jackson started Haiti Babi, makers of handmade blankets, after an impactful volunteer trip to Haiti. We spokes with Katlin about her inspiration for the company, the moms who create the beautiful products and the goals of Haiti Babi. Get your very own blanket today on zulily.

What was the inspiration behind starting Haiti Babi?

A trip to Haiti, with my mom, was my inspiration…During my first trip to Haiti, while volunteering at an infant care center and orphanage, I fell in love with a one-year-old boy named Sterly.  As with many of the other children there, Sterly’s parents couldn’t afford a house, food or simple medical care to keep him alive so an orphanage was the only solution. Sadly, Sterly’s story is not uncommon in Haiti. Many of the 500,000 children in Haitian orphanages are put there by parents who simply cannot afford to provide for them.

I couldn’t stop thinking about Haiti, and Sterly, after returning from my first trip to Haiti, so I decided to go back. On my second trip a few months later, Sterly was reunited with his parents and I got to visit him at his family’s home. I was able to experience firsthand the love of Sterly’s family and realized that no parent should have to be without their child simply because they don’t have the money. That day changed my life and I was inspired to give these families a hand up, not a hand out by creating a sustainable solution to this common problem in Haiti. Haiti Babi gives moms jobs, empowering them to be the best moms they can be. Through earning a steady income, Haiti Babi moms can afford to feed their children everyday, live in a safe house, and send their kids to school- breaking the cycle of extreme poverty.

How did you start Haiti Babi?

When I returned home from that second trip I began talking to everyone I knew about this idea of creating jobs for moms in Haiti. I ended up meeting Kari, my co-founder, at a social enterprise start-up weekend in Seattle, which is where Haiti Babi was officially born. Two months later, we were on a plane to Haiti to set up operations. We launched operations in Haiti with three moms and one Haitian manager. A volunteer, Jessica, spent one month in Haiti training our initial team to make the Signature Haiti Babi blanket. There were many people involved in getting Haiti Babi off the ground. Starting a new business is not easy, and working in Haiti is definitely not easy! Many people have volunteered their time and talents to helping Haiti Babi grow- it has truly been a community effort.

Tell us about how these beautiful blankets are made.

All of the Haiti Babi baby blankets are handmade by moms in Haiti. They are made from 100% pima cotton. Many women play a role in making one of our blankets. First, the yarn is wound by Jeannide. Then, Martha makes the main part of the blanket on a manual knitting machine. Next, one of our “crochet moms” (Hernise, Beatrice, Ystania, Florene, or Fabiola) crochets the border around the blanket.  And lastly, Edwije embroiders the three circles in the bottom corner- giving it the signature Haiti Babi look. The blankets are then steamed, packaged, and sent to the US. It takes about one day to make a blanket.

Tell us about the moms that make the blankets.  

How much space do I have?!  There’s so much to tell!  The Haiti Babi moms are some of the most incredible women in Haiti- and hands down the best moms!  For all of these women, Haiti Babi is their first job ever. They have all taken a very courageous step by working at Haiti Babi.  They all have learned new skills, what it means to have a job, and what it feels like to be empowered to take care of your children.  Haiti Babi moms all work hard so they can earn money to send their kids to school- all of their #1 priority. Some moms are now able to build new, safe houses for their families to live in.

These ladies work hard, but have fun, too!  They are always singing and laughing while they are working, and they have developed close friendships with each other. They take a great deal of pride in the blankets they are creating, and love hearing stories (and seeing pictures!) from people who are using the blankets for their babies. It gives them a huge sense of accomplishment and pride to know that they are making something useful and beautiful, and that the blankets they are making will be loved by moms and babies around the world. I have watched each of the Haiti Babi moms change and grow during their time at Haiti Babi- from women who are struggling to survive and care for their children, to fun and feisty proud mamas who are changing their lives and breaking the cycle of extreme poverty for their children. I wish everyone could see this, too- empowerment looks amazing.

What’s the long-term goal of Haiti Babi? What’s next?

The goal of Haiti Babi is to empower moms in Haiti through sustainable employment, and to empower consumers around the world to use their purchasing power in a meaningful way.  To continue to achieve this goal, Haiti Babi needs to grow!  Next steps for Haiti Babi are to hire more moms in Haiti, develop new products to reach more customers, and spread the word about purchases with purpose. We are fundraising to move to a bigger space in Haiti so that we can have room to hire more moms.  We are launching a new product this summer- baby hats.

Why did you decide to work with zulily?

We decided to work with zulily because they really understand and support what we are working on with Haiti Babi. We like to work with retailers who understand that our mission is just as awesome as our product, and that behind each baby blanket is a story. zulily understands that this is more than a baby blanket, it’s a story, and their ability to support and share that story means a lot to Haiti Babi. 

Devon’s Discoveries: Dresses, dresses and more dresses

Although the weather forecast in Seattle today is for rain (surprise, surprise), we have actually had quite a warm and sunny June so far.  I have already worn my flip flops more this month than I have worn in some entire summers past!  And when the weather gets warm, my go-to for clothing is a simple dress: casual, cool, and put-together.

I wrote in an earlier blog post about the brand Momzelle—their nursing tops are cute, made of quality material, and super functional.  Imagine my happiness, then, when I saw that they made dresses, too!  I just wore this black Momzelle Nursing Dress yesterday and it was as user-friendly and flattering as their tops. 

 

On cooler spring and summer days, when a knee-length dress may not be warm enough, maxi dresses are a perfect solution.  One of my most worn dresses so far this year has been this Miss Sportswear Maxi Dress.  The dress ties in the back, creating a flattering waistline, and, the clincher for me… it’s got pockets! 

 

And when I need to step it up a notch, a patterned A-line dress from Kushi by Jasko does the trick.  Their Blackbird Dress just came in the mail yesterday.  It fits like a dream and will be perfect for the baby shower I am hosting next weekend.

 

Bean and Baby G are also getting in the spirit.  I love the Kickee Pants brand for sleepers and playsuits, and just saw that they make dresses as well.  We got Baby G this adorable KicKee Pants Zebra Dress.

And for Bean, this Burt’s Bees Dress is versatile (she can wear it with tights if it’s cold out, or bare-legged if it’s not) and adorable.

Fingers crossed that it’s rain today, sun tomorrow, and we can be back to dresses for the weekend.

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Devon is a wife (of “DA”), mother two, former History professor, and lifelong shopper.  She grew up with a self-proclaimed shop-aholic and sale-aholic mom, so she’s been in training for discovering cool stuff and great deals since she can remember.  Devon lives in Seattle, Washington, where she is mostly okay with the rain but sometimes pines for her hometown in Southern California.  With a little one at home and a crazy life, Devon is all about doing her shopping on the internet and zulily has been a dream come true for her with its variety, value, and quality.

Throw Your Own Summer Evening Garden Party

As summer’s temperatures climb, there’s no better way to celebrate than kicking off an evening garden party. This midsummer’s eve, take to the backyard with your closest friends and unwind in style.

Paper crafts:

Perfectly prim and easy to replicate, paper crafts are ready to add charm to your garden party and will stay looking fresh in the heat!

Serving dishes:

Showcase that layercake in style with a perfect serving platter. Plenty of kitchen accessories make serving up a bevy of snacks a… well, piece of cake!

 

Décor:

Nautical themes or effortlessly aged accents create a low-key theme with minimal effort. Add lots of candle light for a romantic feel at night.

 

Kids’ Apparel:

Make sure kids stay cool and casual with bohemian pieces. From lightweight dresses to cozy tops, little ones will be ready to play all evening long.

Women’s Apparel:

Rife with vintage charm, these dresses are sure to catch compliments and evoke all the sweetness of a simpler time.

Trend Report: Citrus Color Crush

We’re crushing hard on citrus this season. From lemony yellows to popping pink grapefruits, these tangy and vivid tones have us coloring everything from the kitchen spatula to a pair of pumps with their summery sensibility. Get ready to pucker up because we’re ringing in warm-weather with a kiss of citrus that’s sure to bring a refreshing slice of summer to every corner of your home.

LEMON

Not ready to commit to citrus? Subtly incorporating these bright hues is a cinch. From throw pillows to switching out the linens, these accent pieces add a pop of color to any space.

Pillow by Frog Hill Designs featured in Color Crush Citrus: Home

LIME

Pairing these playful hues with a neutral tone like white is a great way to keep them from clashing with skins tones while still adding a splash of summer to your favorite brunch ensemble.


Dress by Reborn Collection featured in Color Crush Citrus: Women’s Apparel

GRAPEFRUIT

Marvelous minis sport brilliant hues on the daily, but adding a dash of grapefruit brings a girlish touch to playground-ready attire inspired by nature’s goodness. Who doesn’t love that?

 

Tunic & Shorts by Freckles + Kitty featured in Color Crush Citrus: Kids’ Apparel

ORANGE

Orange might not rhyme with anything but when it’s dressed up in stylish accessories is guaranteed to go with just about anything.

 

Clutch by Melie Bianco featured in Color Crush Citrus: Accessories

Best Birthday Gifts by Age

There’s a universal question when it comes to kids’ birthdays: What’s the best gift to get a __ (fill in the blank)-year-old?

Well worry no longer because we have the answers. We asked our buyers and here’s what they came up with.

Shop all our picks for birthday presents by age today.

Infant: Stimulating toys that keep babies minds occupied and growing.

Farm Gym Play Nest from Galt Toys

Jungle Teether Soft Book from Galt Toys

Age 3-5:  Pretend play toys for budding imaginations.

Kayleigh Dollhouse from KidKraft

Rosy Cheeks Big Sister Ballerina Doll from North American Bear

Age 6-8: Educational toys to keep them learning even when they aren’t in school.

Nancy B’s Science Club MoonScope & Activity Journal Set from Educations Insights

Metro Mags Clear Color 60-Piece Building Set 

Age 9-11: Anything with a motor or some sparkle

Message Bracelet Set

Yellow Gen-X Infrared Remote Control Helicopter from Mach 10

Age: 12-14: Outdoor fun to keep them moving.

Zip Line from Spring Swings

Giant Shoot Ball Set from Swimline

Last Minute Father’s Day Ideas

It’s that time again. Father’s Day is right around the corner and you don’t have plans or a gift yet. So once again, we asked around the office to get some creative ideas. Here are 12 last minute gift or plan ideas for your father, husband, partner, doggy daddy, etc.

Cook. They say food is the way to a man’s heart. (I’m pretty sure it’s the way to a woman’s heart, too, but that’s beside the point.) Cook for your dad! Round up the troops and whip up breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. The bonus is, if you did a terrible job, he most likely will pretend to have loved it anyway. It’s the thought that counts.

A card. Write a sincere Happy Father’s Day/Thank you card. They LOVE this stuff. “Are you crying?” “No… I just have something in both my eyes.” Fathers put the “men” in “sentimental.”

Show him this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Jpb2_YdxYM Did you just skip this? It’s ONE minute long and will seriously tug at your heartstrings…

Spend time. If you don’t get to see him all the time, chances are, he just wants to spend time with you. Even if it means watching tv, hanging out in the living room chatting it up, going out to eat or taking a stroll around the neighborhood, it’s time well spent with you. Aww!

Don’t spend time. See him all the time? Maybe leave him be for an hour or so to watch tv, read or just be alone with his thoughts. Once that time is over, ask him how his time was, what he did, what he thought about, how that time made him feel, if he missed you, etc. Resume back to normal.

Wash his car. There is a good chance he’ll tell you that you’re doing it wrong and take over… once again, it was the thought that counts.

Clothes. Dad could always use some new clothes, even if it’s a shirt printed with a photo of you on it, he will probably think it’s the coolest thing ever.

Game it up. Engage in some good old-fashioned games. Bowling, cards, board games, one on one basketball or soccer… you don’t even have to let him win.

Father’s Day Throne. Yep. http://spoonful.com/crafts/fathers-day-throne

Call him. If you live far from dad, call, FaceTime or Skype him! Show him your new interpretive “Happy Father’s Day” dance. He will probably think you’re weird but you can just say you got that from him.

Mail your card NOW! Seriously, get off your computer and mail that thing… you have 3 days! Get out of here.

Once again, the bacon bouquet. These things are pure gold. Bacon Bouquet Recipe

5 Co-Stars Turned Couples & Parents

Parents-to-be Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher - along with Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas – join a long list of Hollywood A-listers who’ve found love at work.

Our friends at Celebrity Baby Scoop take a look at 5 celebrity couples who met on-set, and later became parents.

Ginnifer Goodwin & Josh Dallas:

Parents-to-be Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas are taking their fairy tale from the screen to real life.

The Once Upon a Time co-stars were wed in April 2014, and are currently expecting their first child together.

The couple met in 2011 while filming the hit ABC show. For the pair, life imitated art as their own romance started after playing on-screen loves Snow White and Prince Charming.

Mila Kunis & Ashton Kutcher:

Although they met in 1998 on the set of the hit television series, That ’70s ShowMila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher didn’t start dating until 2012.

In February 2014 it was announced that the couple were engaged. And in March, news broke that they are expecting their first child together — reportedly a girl.

Kelly Ripa & Mark Consuelos:

Longtime couple Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos first met on the set of All My Children in 1995. The pair eloped the following year in Las Vegas.

The couple are now parents to three children: Michael 16, Lola 12, and Joaquin 11.

Of their 18-year marriage, Kelly says their inspiration comes from their own parents.

“Together our parents have been married for almost 100 years. We’re all swans; we mate for life,” she shared.

Anna Paquin & Stephen Moyer:

The stars of True BloodAnna Paquin and Stephen Moyer, first met on-set of their hit television series in 2007.

The pair were wed in 2010 and welcomed fraternal twins Poppy and Charlie in September 2012.

Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie:

A-list couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie met on the set of Mr. & Mrs. Smith in 2005. Their union attracted much media attention since Pitt was married to Jennifer Aniston when he first started the film. But in April 2005, one month after Aniston filed for divorce, “Brangelina” were spotted canoodling on a beach in Kenya.

Together now for nine years, the power couple have six children: Maddox, 12, Pax, 10, Zahara, 9, Shiloh, 7, and 5-year-old twins Knox and Vivienne.

The happy couple became engaged in April 2012.

“We’d actually like to [get married],” Pitt said prior to their official engagement. “And it seems to mean more and more to our kids. We made this declaration some time ago that we weren’t going to do it till everyone can. But I don’t think we’ll be able to hold out. It means so much to my kids, and they ask a lot. And it means something to me, too, to make that kind of commitment.”

More Hollywood mom & baby news:

Olympic Swimmer and Mom Janet Evans Gives Life Saving Tips

Kim Raver: “Family Is Extremely Important To Me”

Tamera Mowry-Housley: “I’ve Learned To Trust My Mother Instincts”

Rosie Pope Shares Details of Nursery

Terri J. Vaughn: “I’m A Great Mother”

CelebrityBabyScoop.com is one of the most popular blogs on the topic and the foremost provider of everything celebrity-baby, featuring baby fashion, baby names, baby trends and up-to-the-minute celebrity baby gossip and pics. Get all the latest news, updates, and photos about Hollywood’s most beloved celebrity moms, dads and their babies. Who’s the latest Tinseltown baby? Who’s due next and who just announced a pregnancy? It’s all on CelebrityBabyScoop.com