Holiday Travel Tips . . . with Kids!

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Does it feel like this year is flying by?  For me, it does.  I can’t believe it’s already time to start thinking about Thanksgiving travel.   Traveling with children can be a challenge, but seriously people do it every year!  Thanksgiving weekend is known for being THE busiest travel weekend of the whole year.  According to AAA, 48.7 million American travelers are expected this year and you can bet that many of those travelers are children.  So, if the thought of traveling with your young family in just a few short weeks gives you the anxiety that it is giving me right now, you might want to check out the tips below before you go.  They’ll help make your trip a little less stressful.

  1. Plan Ahead– Make a detailed itinerary and make sure your children understand each leg of the journey. Rehearse parts of the trip that may give your children moments of anxiety. Take your child on short, practice runs for car trips, or visit the airport ahead of time. Walk through the airport and point out things to your child and watch some planes take off and land. When travel day arrives, the travel expectations will feel more familiar and comfortable.
  2. Arrive Early for Flights– Planning to arrive at the airport early will ensure that you’ll have time to make adjustments for any travel “roadblocks”. Be sure to bring enough activities to keep your children entertained for any waits or delays that may occur
  3. Create Realistic Expectations– Know what your children can handle and what they will not be able to handle. You may need to add extra stops into your itinerary or perhaps travel over multiple days.
  4. Charge Your Devices– Ensure that all your devices are charged and that you’ve brought extra chargers. You won’t want to be in a jam if the children have used up all the battery playing games just when you need your map app to get you to your next stop.
  5. Pack Plenty of Snacks– Pack plenty of healthy, low-sugar snacks that your children are familiar with and enjoy. You never know when a flight will be delayed or if the next restaurant is not for another 100 miles down the road.  Healthy snacks will help keep kids from getting cranky due to hunger.
  6. Pack Your Sense of Humor– Make the trip fun for you and your kids. Laugh with your kids and tell jokes.  Make up road trip games to play with your kids along the way.  It will make the trip more fun, enjoyable and memorable for you and them.
  7. Bring or Buy Special Needs Foods– If your child has special dietary restrictions, be sure to bring things you know they can eat. Special needs foods may be harder to find if you don’t know the area as well as home.
  8. Discuss the House Rules– Make sure your children know what will be expected of them at all locations – how to behave on a plane or in a hotel or even what special rules Grandma has at her house. Knowing what is expected up front will help them to follow along with your expectations.
  9. Do a Safety Check– Pack a first aid kit. Make sure each child has a proper car seat.  Bring all medications your children are on.
  10. Pack Insurance Cards– Just in case you need to visit a doctor while out of town, be sure to carry your insurance cards with you. It will make the process much easier and you’ll be able to save your concerns for your sick child.
  11. Visit a Local Playground– Help your kids create a memory of their adventure. Visiting a playground while on the road or in Grandma’s hometown will not only give them something fun to remember during your travels, but will also give your kids a chance to burn up some of the energy they’ve accumulated while playing 50 State License Plate Bingo in the backseat.
  12. Keep Your Cool!– There will always be things that happen, whether it be a speeding ticket from the highway patrol or a missed connection during a layover. Take a deep breath and go with the flow.  If you don’t stress things that happen outside of your control, you’ll better enjoy your trip and so will your kids.

Remember at the end of the road is Grandma’s special turkey and dressing or pumpkin pie that you’ve been craving for months – as well as hugs and smiles and family memories.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Splitting Seams . . . Again

True SmartKnitKIDS pros out there know about the amazing differences between our seamless socks and other socks that claim to be seamless.  But, we know there are some rookies out there, too, so we thought it was about time for a quick refresher on the seamless playbook – just in time for Back to School shopping!

There is more than one way to knit a sock!  Truly.  But, most don’t claim to be seamless.  Of the ones that do, some of them are just that – a claim.  Let’s break them down.

Smooth or Hand-linked Seams

First up is a smooth or hand-linked seam.  This sock really does have a seam even though the seam is a lot more comfortable than regular sock seams.  The seam is created by linking together both sides of the sock to fuse together the toe of the sock.  The process is done very carefully to ensure that the resulting seam is as flat as possible.  But, the most seam-sensitive among us can still feel that pesky seam.  It’s not truly seamless.

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This is an example of a handlinked seam.  Notice you can still see the seam line on the toe.
HandLinkedSeams-Hand-2 Here is the handlinked seam turned inside out.  It is better than a traditional sock, but still has a seam line.

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Here is an example of a smooth seam.  It is very faint, but you can still make out the seam line.

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And this is what your toes would feel.  This is the inside of a sock with smooth seams.

Truly Seamless

To make a sock that is truly seamless you have to start at the toe.  Then there is nothing to sew or fuse together.  No seams!  SmartKnitKIDS seamless socks are knitted by starting at the toe and working up from there.  It’s just like a caterpillar knitting a cocoon.  No seam means no irritation.

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This is one of our SmartKnitKIDS seamless socks.  See how there is no irritating seam anywhere in the toe of the sock.

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This is the same sock turned inside out.  Again, it is easy to see that SmartKnitKIDS socks are truly seamless.
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The difference between the seam types is clear when side by side.

Pressing Line

So some parents tell us that their child can still feel a “seam” on our SmartKnitKIDS socks.  Are they feeling a seam on our seamless socks?  The answer is no, although they may think they’re feeling one.  Why?  Because of what we call the pressing line.  The pressing line is something that occurs in the “finishing” process of our socks.  After the socks are knitted, they are pressed to give them a finished look.  To some children, this line can feel like a seam and can be irritating.  But, it can be easily washed out.  It may take a few times through the wash, but a pressing line should diminish.

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This sock is also a SmartKnitKIDS sock, but see how there is a very faint line around the toe.  This sock has gone through the finishing process and has been pressed.

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Here is a close up of the pressing line.  As it sometimes resembles a seam, some people mistake it for a seam.

Cuff Only on Small and Medium

Okay, one more item for discussion.  Many of our customers have noticed that the Smalls and Mediums have a woven cuff, but the larger sizes do not.  Why is this?  The main reason for this is due to the very small size of these two smallest socks, they require a little more special care in making them resulting in the cuff.  The added bonus is that smaller children tend to have more trouble keeping their socks pulled up and the extra cuff helps with that.

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This is the size difference between a small and an x-large.  Notice how the small has a cuff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 Sensational Summer Sensory Activities – 2017 Edition!

Ah summer!  Here you are again and here we are trying to find fun activities to keep the kids engaged.  We pulled out our list of sensory summer activities for this blog, but decided that it would be fun to enhance them a little bit for even more fun sensory summer play.  So, we turned to Google and Pinterest for some expanded ideas.  Below are some of our favorites, as well as the originals, that are both fun and sensory-oriented.

Sand and Water Play

Nothing says summer like sand and water.  Grab some buckets and shovels and head to the beach for some fun and creative tactile input.  But, never fear if you don’t have a beach near your home.  You can recreate the beach with a sand and water table in your backyard.  They don’t take as much sand as a traditional sand box, and can be cleaned out easier so as to not invite an unsanitary environment (think cats, here).  You can also fill the sand and water table with other objects like uncooked rice, beans, noodles or even shaving cream.  At the end of the summer, if the table is cleaned out well, you can bring it inside and fill it with snow!

Alternative Idea

Here’s another option we picked up with a little google search.  Perhaps you need a taste-safe option for a kiddo that may like to sample his sand creations?  The blog A Little Pinch of Perfect has a great recipe for Taste-Safe Kinetic Sand that uses milk powder and vegetable oil.  Make up a little bit of this for your sand table or even use it throughout the winter.  Read the blog for more info and a recipe.

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Play Doh, Gak, Oobleck, Silly Putty

Each of these fun substances offers a different texture sensation to help kids develop normal tactile processing, but also to enhance their creativity and have fun!  You can purchase several of these substances or many of them can be made using recipes found online.  A simple set of cookie cutters, bowls and measuring cups will provide kids with hours of sensory input fun.

Fun Playdough “Ice-Cream Shop” Enhancement

This idea came from A Little Pinch of Perfect again.  Using a little bit of flour with frosting makes a fantastic substance that looks like ice cream, but is a fun and taste-safe sensory playdough.  Kids can play using ice cream cones, cupcake wrappers, sprinkles and candy bits for ice cream shop fun.  And if they decide to taste it, no sweat!  Read more and get the recipe!

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Sensory Scavenger Hunt

Create a scavenger hunt around the yard of different textured items for kids to find.  You can include things to find that are in the grass, mud, flowers and water to give kids a variety of textures.

Sensory Checklist

We love this checklist.  It came from the DoodleCraft blog and is a perfect list of things to find that target different tactile responses.

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Crazy Straws

It’s amazing how much fun kids can have with a straw, but this is such an easy activity.  Just buy a package of colorful and fun crazy straws and let the kids get to work.  They can use their breath to blow different objects around.  It’s also a great way to keep them sipping on water on those hot days!

Pinterest Possibilities

A favorite at our house is a mini boat race.  All you need to do is fill up a small pool with water. (In Scouts, we use rain gutters, but anything that will hold water will work.)  Then let the kids make lightweight boats out of paper or lightweight wood.  (Ours usually come from kits that we get through Cub Scouts, but you can check craft stores or someone handy can help the kids design one.  You can also use all sorts of things around the house to make boats like disposable plastic cups or slices of old pool noodles.  Plain old paper boats work well, too.)

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Water Balloon Fun

Have you ever been to a summer kid-friendly picnic that didn’t have someone pull out a bag of water balloons?  They’re pretty much a given for us.  A fun game for kids that has lasted the test of time is the water balloon toss.  Have two kids stand close together and toss the balloon back and forth trying not to drop it.  Gradually have them move apart and continue to toss the balloon.  Eventually, someone will drop the balloon and get splashed with water.  (Note: Some kids may scare at this at first.  Show them ahead of time what will happen to avoid tears.)

A Whole New Water Balloon World

Oh Pinterest!  Where were you when I was a kid!  Anyway, a quick glance at Pinterest unloads on the amazing creativity all with a little water balloon.  I can’t wait to try the Glow in the Dark Water Balloons, Water Balloon Art and Water Balloon Pinatas.

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Bubbles

Children love bubbles!  Bottles of bubbles are a cheap way to entertain the kids for hours.  Experiment with different sizes and shapes of bubble wands.  Bubble machines are a fun alternative, too.

Fun with Pinterest

Just like all the others, bubbles can also be enhanced by doing a little searching on Pinterest.  We love the idea of Geometric Bubbles for the older kids.  Giant Bubbles and Painting with Bubbles are both on our list of things to try this summer!

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The possibilities are limitless.  We think summer may need to last all year long!

 

Boxing Up Father’s Day!

Father’s Day is right around the corner, which means it’s time shop for a gift for Dad.  But, if he’s anything like my dad or husband, he has enough ties, he has enough power tools and he even has a barbecue grill set, so he’s all set, right.  Which presents a problem – what to get Dad for Father’s Day.  After a little hunting around on Pinterest, we came up with a great idea for any dad – a custom made gift box!

This box is really special because it reminds your dad (or husband) of all the reasons that being a dad is so great.  On top of that, you make it yourself, so it is personalized just for each individual dad himself.

Here’s just what to do:

Step 1: Download and print out the special tags on this link. (You can decorate or color them however you want.)

Step 2: Choose the tags you want to use and match each tag with something the special dad in your life would like.  You don’t have to use them all – just choose the ones you like the best.  Or create your own on the blank ones provided. (Check out the examples listed below for some ideas.)

Step 3: Punch holes in each of the tags and use ribbon, twine or yarn to tie the tags to its corresponding item.

Step 4: Package everything in a gift box or basket.

Step 5: Give to your dad on Father’s Day with your best smile and a hug!

 

For the Tired Dad 

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There are lots of ideas you can do here.  A bottle of Dad’s favorite soda or a bag of his favorite coffee.  You could do a gift card to his favorite coffee spot, like Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts.  Some dads like energy drinks.

 

For the Athletic Dad 

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Try any of our Core-Sport or TheraSport athletic socks and sleeves.  The Core-Sport Arm Sleeve is a favorite among golfers!

 

For the Dad on the Go 

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Great ideas for this one can include high protein snacks to help Dad from getting too hungry when he doesn’t have time to stop for dinner.  A package of nuts or beef jerky.  Peanut butter crackers or granola bars.  Make sure that whatever you choose is either individually wrapped or re-sealable.  That way it can last a while and doesn’t make too much of a mess in Dad’s car.

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For the Dad that enjoys the Sweet Life 

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What is your dad’s favorite candy?  Snickers? Hershey Kisses? Reeses?  Pick up whatever your dad loves.  You can keep it small or king size, whatever you choose.

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For Dad the Reader 

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Whether you want to pick something for your dad to read on his “throne” or a great bedtime story to read together, you can’t go wrong with some reading material.  Great choices include the latest copy of his favorite magazine; a children’s book to read together like “Star Wars: Vader’s Little Princess” by Jeffrey Brown; funny adult books like “Dad is Fat” by Jim Gaffigan; or whatever your dad prefers.

 

 

For the Working Dad 

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We recommend Ease Trouser Socks for Men.  They are available in three different compression levels: mild, moderate or firm, so there’s something for all dads.

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For Making Memories with Dad 

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There are so many great possibilities here.  Is your dad into Sci Fi?  How about a gift card to see the latest Sci Fi movie.  Maybe he likes baseball.  You could get two tickets to watch the local team play.  Or you could get him passes to go bowling, roller skating or playing mini golf.  Whatever you and your dad like to do together.

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For the Dad that loves Comfort 

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Does your dad like fun or crazy designs on his socks?  Get him a pair of CoreSpun Patterns.  Or maybe your dad is more of a solid guy.  Regular CoreSpun socks are a great option for him.  Either way, CoreSpun socks give your dad the healthy benefits of true gradient compression in a soft and comfortable sock.

 

Ideas for the Gift Box

You can even personalize the way you package it for your dad.  A new cooler would be fun for a dad that loves tailgating or camping.  A tool box or a work bucket for a handy dad.  A tackle box for a dad that loves fishing.  Or maybe just a regular box if your dad has all those things already.  You can keep it manly by putting it in a nice wood crate (you can find these at craft stores).  Whatever you do, your dad will love it!!

Anthem to the Lost Sock

What to do when you lose one sock to a matched pair?  Such a common problem, right?!  Did you know there is a Lost Sock Memorial Day?  On May 9th, we will observe Lost Sock Memorial Day here at SmartKnitKIDS with a one-day sale!  We also thought Bugsley’s Lost Sock “anthem” was a fun way to mark the occasion.

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Bugsley’s Anthem to the Lost Sock

I have two feet, but only one sock.
It’s a common problem on my block.
When doing laundry, one sock gets lost.
I must find the other whatever the cost.

I like my socks matched pair to pair.
All stacked in the drawer with great care.
They feel the same on each of my feet.
And make my outfit quite complete.

But, when a pair of perfect socks
Goes into that big washing box.
I cross my fingers they both come out
So I don’t have to scream and shout.

Many times I’ll be missing just the one
And that, my friends, is not any fun.
I search and search through all my clothes
But I can only cover five of my toes.

The others are left out in the cold.
And I’m forced to pull out my billfold.
And buy a new pair of matching socks
At least there’s a Bugsley that comes in the box.

Do you have this problem of missing your socks?
And you’re thinking of ordering a brand new box?
You’re in such luck, ‘cause socks are on sale
So order a pair and they’ll come in the mail!

May 9 is Lost Sock Memorial Day
So the low price on socks really won’t stay.
Save 15% on each little pair
Order today and do not despair!

Travel Tips for Families with Children

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Are we there yet!?  The end of the school year brings on the beginning of summer travel!  Sometimes travel can cause so much added stress that they are not even fun for the parents of children – especially parents with special needs children.  The point of most summer travel is to have fun and create family memories for both children and their parents.  So, what can parents do to make summer travel less stressful and more fun?  Following this roadmap will help you to avoid many of the stressful detours of summer travel!

Travel Planning

  • Plan Ahead of Time – Make a detailed itinerary and make sure your children understand each leg of the journey. For children that have anxiety, it may help to rehearse parts of the trip.  Take some short practice runs in the car to help the child become accustomed to entertaining themselves in the car.  Visit the airport in advance and point things out to your children.  Watch planes land and take off.  When your trip arrives, the travel expectations you have for your children will feel more familiar and comfortable.
  • Give Yourself Extra Time – If flying, be sure to arrive at the airport well in advance. Although, it does mean extra time at the airport, it will ensure that you have time to make any necessary adjustments.  If you are driving, leave extra early so you can plan to stop several times along the way to stretch your legs or even visit interesting sites on the road.  If you are not in a hurry, the trip will be more enjoyable for all.
  • Travel with Help – If possible, you should plan on at least two adults traveling with your party, especially if you are bringing more than one child, or a special needs child. When things get rough, an extra person who can help with baggage, check-ins or even truck-stop bathroom breaks will help things go more smoothly.
  • Accommodations for Children – If you are using commercial transportation, call ahead to see what accommodations are in place for children. Take advantage of anything that may be helpful in keeping your children comfortable and entertained.
  • Travel During Sleep Times – Many children have an easier time traveling while they sleep. If possible, plan to leave at night or when your kids are used to taking naps.

What to Pack

  • Electronic Devices – Tablets, phones or other electronic devices provide touch, visual and audio input for children. Remember a set of headphones and a pair of sunglasses to help those sensitive to bright light.  Download age-appropriate games ahead of time, or make sure your data plan will be sufficient for your entire trip.  You can also bring a data hotspot.  Ensure that all your devices are charged and that you’ve brought extra chargers, especially if you are sharing devices with your children.  You won’t want to be in a jam if the kids used up all the battery playing games just when you need your map app to get you to your next stop.
  • Snacks – Pack plenty of healthy, low-sugar snacks that your children are familiar with and enjoy. Chewable and high-protein snacks are great choices, as well as things that do not need a lot of prep and can easily be eaten on the go.  You never know when a flight will be delayed or if the next restaurant is not for another 100 miles down the road.
  • Special Needs Foods – If your child has special dietary restrictions, be sure to bring things you know they can eat. Special needs foods may be harder if you don’t know the area as well as home.
  • Insurance Cards – Just in case you need to visit a doctor while out of town, be sure to carry your insurance cards with you. It will make the process much easier and you’ll be able to save your concerns for your sick child.
  • Bring Extra Clothes – Most likely, if flying, you’ll need to check bags. Or, if driving, you may have a very packed trunk with multiple bags.  Easy access to an extra set of clothes for each child will make getting through any mishaps easier and stress free.  Socks tend to disappear easily, so don’t forget a few extra pairs of SmartKnitKIDS socks, too.
  • Toys – Pack several small sensory input toys that will keep your children’s attention for longer periods of time. Choose things that are easy to pack and pick up, but also things that your children already enjoy.  Good examples are Rubix Cubes, rubber band balls and Play-Doh.  You may want to have a few things to play with in the hotel, as well, for downtown.
  • Safey – Pack a first aid kit. Make sure each child has a proper car seat.  Bring all medications your children take daily.

Establish Ground Rules

  • Create Realistic Expectations – Know what your children can handle and what they will not be able to handle. You may need to add extra stops into your itinerary or perhaps travel over multiple days.  Don’t pack too much into your day to overwhelm kids.
  • Discuss the House Rules – Make sure your children know what will be expected of them at all locations – how to behave on a plane or in a hotel or even what special rules Grandma has at her house. Knowing what is expected up front will help them to follow along with your expectations.

Make Memories

  • Pack Your Sense of Humor – Make the trip fun for you and your kids. Laugh with your kids and tell jokes.  Make up road trip games to play together along the way.  It will make the trip more fun, enjoyable and memorable for you and your kids.
  • Visit Local Site for Children – Help your kids create a memory of their adventure. Visiting a playground, children’s museum or other children’s attractions while on the road will not only give them something fun to remember during your travels, but will also give your kids a chance to burn up some energy they’ve accumulated along the way.

Stay Calm and Expect Changes of Plans

  • Remain Calm – Don’t let yourself get discouraged with minor setbacks. There will always be things that happen – a speeding ticket or a missed connection during a layover.  Take each day in stride and enjoy your trip as best as you can.
  • Expect Changes in Plans – It’s okay if you don’t make it to everything you wanted to do with your kids. If you stay calm and continue to have fun with what you do make it to, your kids will build happy memories of your travels.  If you stress about changes, they may, too, and that’s what they’ll remember about your trip.

Following these travel guidelines will help your trip to go smoothly so that all will have fun.  In 20 years, you’ll all be sitting around the dinner table reminiscing about your fond memories of your trip.  So, buckle up and build memories seeing the world with your family.

Introducing Splish Splash Bugsley

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It’s only April, but this bug is ready for some sun and surf!  He’s got his sunscreen and arm floaties on and he’s ready for an exciting game of Marco Polo in the community swimming pool.  Splish Splash Bugsley has big summer plans that include trips to the local water park with his friends to ride water slides, lazy weekends water-skiing at the lake with his family, and even a summer vacation to the beach for a week.  You can bet that whatever Splish Splash Bugsley has on his schedule, it will include time in the water.  After a long day in the water, Splish Splash Bugsley can’t wait to slip on a pair of SmartKnitKIDS seam-free socks.  They feel so soft and cozy on Bugsley’s feet.

 

We hope that you enjoy these 5 new Bugsleys in your packages of SmartKnitKIDS socks.  And as Autism Awareness Month draws to a close, we really hope you and your family enjoy a happy and healthy seam-free summer!