Shopping Ideas to Cash in Your Gift Certificates After Holidays

The holidays are over, so now is the time to cash in those gift certificates. There are some fine selections of books and DVDs for all ages and interests listed here as well as inventive little gizmos to make life easier. Time to go shopping!

Fit for the New Year

The ADEO Personal Fitness Companion is a unique workout-tracking device that uses GPS technology. The lightweight system works with any iPod or MP3 player and allows you to chart your workout progress. It audibly reports your distance, pace, speed, elapsed time, time of day, elevation and calories burned. Works with both MACs and PCs. $149.95. Go to www.motionlingo.com to purchase it or to find a local retailer.

End the fog now

Anyone who has dared to place a mirror in the shower knows that at the most critical point of a shave the mirror fogs up and is rendered useless. Now, ShowerTek introduces a two-sided fog-proof mirror that stays crystal clear while you shower. Using a patented warming system, the ShowerTek mirror diverts a trickle of water between the two surfaces of the mirror to keep it clear no matter how hot the shower. $99.95. Available at www. showertek.com.

Cheers!

Gallo may well be the most recognizable name in American wine—and the company is producing some fine, reasonably priced wines. The Gallo Family Vineyards Sonoma Reserve Chardonnay is a great example of a white wine, rich with fruity flavors and a hint of vanilla and priced about $13 a bottle. To order or learn more about wines, visit www.gallofamily.com.

Kid-friendly first aid kit

Created by a busy mom and dad, the Medibag features a patented design with compartments for all the important first aid supplies parents and grandparents need to have on hand. The brightly colored kit looks like a kid-friendly doctor’s bag, which helps to reduce kids’ fears when it’s time to treat a “boo-boo.” All supplies are hypoallergenic. $19.95. Visit www.me4kidz.com for a list of retailers or online stores where the kit can be purchased.

A “RRRoarin’” start to learning

Colorful, musical and fun, the Bright Starts play gym offers babies a “safari” of exploratory adventures. Babies lie on a comfy lion mat and play with five toys, including a rattle, bead chaser, water-filled teether, fabric mirror, extra Fun Links™ and a soft lion plush toy that plays melodies. But the best part of this play gym is that it not only entertains babies, it also encourages sensory play and development. $24.99. Available at Target.

Historic adventure

Targeted at children of upper elementary-school age, Way Back When is a unique board game that’s educational, interactive and fun! The game focuses on American history from the time of the early explorers through the Civil War era. Questions and answers were derived from fifth-grade textbooks used in both public and private schools. $24.95 plus $5.50 shipping and handling. To learn more or to order, contact Star Games Inc. at 715-549-0065.

Penny Love

By Lisa Soares Hale Illustrated by Marilee Harrald-Pilz Winepress Publishing, 2006 Hardcover, 32 pages Reading Level: all ages

This endearing children’s book tells the story of a grand- mother and granddaughter who find a penny while on a walk. When they get back to the house, the little girl puts the penny in a jar labeled “Penny Love.” Her grandmother tells her that every time she finds a penny, she can put it in the jar and see just how much Grandma loves her.

Things That Go! DVD

This fun-filled kids’ DVD is sure to get kids movin’ and shakin’. It’s the second DVD in The Monkey Doos series, and this one explores the movements and sounds of airplanes, scooters, jets, bicycles, boats and more. The interactive DVD combines colorful backgrounds, animation and real kids and lots of moving around.

Posh pacifiers

Here’s a great idea—a quality-brand pacifier with your grandchild’s name on it. Just think how that will cut the confusion when the grandkids come to visit or when they’re at daycare or a play date with other young children. ItsmyBinky.com offers personalized pacifiers designed for boys and girls, and each binky comes with its own plastic, snap-on cover to help prevent spreading or attracting germs. Packages from $7 to $36, depending on number purchased. Check out www.ItsmyBinky.com for purchasing information.

Money sense

Teach your grandkids how to value their money with the Learning Cents Bank. The bank, really a system for guiding children to an understanding of spending, saving and donating/giving their money away, consists of three interconnected tubes for money that help children organize, track and watch their money grow. A great way for grands to introduce the dynamics of money to children. $21.99. To find a retailer or to order online visit www.learningcents.com.

The 1960s’ Most Wanted

By Stuart Shea Potomac Books, Inc., 2005 Paperback, 290 pages

This book is subtitled The Top 10 Book of Hip Happenings, Swinging Sounds and Out-of-Sight Oddities, and you can bet you’ll be jettisoned back four decades to the time of VW vans, flower  power, the Summer of Love and lots more that’s “far-out” and “groovy.”

But upon closer examination, you’ll find yourself immersed in a decade of contrast and discovery, from the Civil Rights Movement to a space program that landed on the moon, from the Bay of Pigs to the revolutionary uses of plastic.

Trivia Lovers’ Lists of Nearly Everything in the Universe

By Barbara Ann Kipfer, Ph.D. Random House Reference, 2006 Paperback, 656 pages

The title alone is enough to make you want to jump into this intriguing book, but just turn to a page and you’ll be awestruck at the information. Forexample, there are 48 listings for “Heaven’s Designations” and nearly a page and a half of “Mathematics Branches and Kinds.” You can learn the names of “PlowVarieties,” types of “Soccer Kicks,” “Gem Cuts,” and even “Crayon Types.” Loads of trivia fun

African American Lives DVD

Part of the PBS Home Video series, this DVD features Harvard professor Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. tracking the history of eight accomplished African Americans. Gates uses revolutionary genealogical discoveries and DNA in his quest and traces the lineage of these individuals all the way back from America to Africa.

DVD includes stories of neurosurgeon Ben Carson, actor Whoopi Goldberg, Bishop T.D. Jakes, astronaut Mae Jemison, musician/producer Quincy Jones, sociologist Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, comedian Chris Tucker and TV talk show host/philanthropist Oprah Winfrey.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

By Kate DiCamillo Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline Candlewick Press, 2006 Hardcover, 228 pages Reading level: ages 9-12

Edward Tulane is a china rabbit that lives with a caring girl named Abilene. One day, however, Edward is lost and begins an amazing journey filled with adventure and even a miracle. Written by Newberry award-winning author Kate DiCamillo.

You’re Stronger Than You Think

By Peter Ubel, M.D. McGraw-Hill, 2006 Paperback, 288 pages

This book focuses on the amazing emotional resilience of human beings. Author Dr. Peter Ubel and several scientists studied thousands of people to uncover some fascinating facts about several aspects of human emotions.

For example, happiness—is it based on events and circumstances or on our genetic makeup? Throughout the book, Ubel explores such questions and offers advice and information to help you develop your own emotional resilience during troubled times.

Originally Published on GRAND Magazine in January-February 2007 Issue.

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