Family life on LA's Westside


Cool summer stuff for hot summer fun

Essentials for fun in the sun, entertaining and vacationing all summer long

Got Game

Hitting the road with kids for a long drive to your summer vacay spot can mean hours of, “Are we there yet?” Or, with the coolest of old-school electronics, Mini Arcade Games ($19.99, Walmart), like Rampage, the kids will be toppling buildings with George, Lizzie and Ralph and dodging helicopters, all from the backseat, without you having to say, “Let’s play I spy” once. Other games include Pac-Man, Space Invades, Q*Bert, Centipede, and Frogger, with all the sounds and retro-styling you remember, just smaller.

Bunch ‘o fun

All kids love to throw water balloons, but most kids hate to fill them up and tie them, as do their parents. Bunch O Balloons solved this age-old hassle with their ingenious design that allows you to fill up 100 balloons and seal them off at once, in 60 seconds. New to the Bunch O Balloons family is the Marvel Avengers branded balloons ($9.99), featuring character symbols printed on the balloons, such as Iron Man, Captain America and the Hulk, for a water balloon battle of superhero proportions. Add some zing to the water warfare with the Bunch O Balloons slingshot (SRP $19.99) that can launch balloons over one hundred feet! Available at toy retailers nationwide.

Soft Ball-ish

The irresistible Koosh ball is back. Easy to pick up, but hard to put down, this squishy rubber-haired ball is the original fidget toy that’s almost as fun to hold as it is to throw. Toss them indoors or outdoors, use them for games, stress relief or even grip therapy. These fist-quenching balls come in an assortment of bright color combinations, including new neon and black combinations. Ages 3+ SRP $3.99 each. Available at toy retailers nationwide.

Bubble Up

Talk about a win-win situation – when your opponent scores at Bubble Pong (SRP $19.99), you get blasted with bubbles! This fun-for-all-ages game (3 and up) is played with singles or teams who bounce ping-pong balls onto an opponent’s side to score points. When the game is over, turn on bubble machine mode for a nonstop bubble party! Ages 3+.

Sipp it

There’s nothing like a refreshing bubbly, fruity drink to satisfy your thirst on a hot summer day. Sipp organic sparkling beverages, infused with culinary extracts and lightly sweetened with agave, can be enjoyed straight up or mixed in a drink to craft a natural, fresh cocktail, with fun flavors including Zesty Orange, Ginger Blossom, Mojo Berry, Lemon Flower, Ruby Rose and Summer Pear.  Available in 12oz bottles and 10.5oz cans. Sold on Amazon and select retailers.

New hair day

When school’s out for summer, keep the kids busy and keep them out of trouble, or you can do both with a little Splat. Your little juvies can look like bad-apples, but in a fun way, with this comb-in, low-mess temporary hair color, in vibrant hues like Piercing Pink, Red Pop, Bolder Blue, Vivid Velvet, Mango Mash, and Eclectic Green. It’s out in one shampoo, and your little angels are back to their old selves, just in time for grandma’s visit. Splat kits are $6.99 at Walmart or

Hot shot

Get the hottest blaster for backyard battles on the block, the Thermal Hunter ($29.99), featuring a heat-seeking scope that detects a heat source up to 60 feet away. When a warm-blooded target is in the cross hairs, the scope will turn red to let you know when to pull the trigger, with blasting power of up to 100 feet. The 10-count dart clip allows you to hit multiple targets without having to stop and reload. Available at Target.

Drink up

Forget those sugary sodas and serve up some naturally and deliciously sweet drinks at your summer soiree with Zevia, the top-selling sparkling beverage brand that has zero calories, no sugar, no dyes, and just the right amount of sweet. Now with a multitude of flavors and drinks in a variety of categories, from sparkling waters to mixers and energy drinks, Zevia’s clear and clean formulas are a favorite at parties for all ages. Sold at Amazon, Whole Foods and other grocers nationwide.

Scent of summer

Luxuriate in the scents of summer, with the sweet aromas of a 100-percent soy wax Jaded Candles. This line of handmade, clean, refreshing candles contain no additives, chemicals or colors and are made from pure soy. Soothing scents for the season include Island Hibiscus, Green Tea Lemongrass, and White Tea Berries Candle.  $15 to $35.

Summer cleaning

Washing the car will be a chore you won’t mind doing, armed with the Brush Hero, as showcased on Shark Tank. This handy hose adapter turns an ordinary garden hose into a powerful weapon of cleaning, using water pressure to power its turbine and bust grime from cars, motorcycles, bikes, BBQs, lawn furniture or whatever else needs cleaning.  It does the spinning and scouring while you just adjust the water flow as needed to release its scrubbing power. Available on Amazon for $34.99.

After the sunning

Enjoy spending time outdoors in the summer sun, even if you suffer from dry skin or eczema, with dermatologist-awarded Theraplex ClearLotion ($18.50), a light, fast-penetrating emollient oil spray that seals in moisture when applied to just-showered skin. The formula of a special petrolatum fraction and natural jojoba oil helps to provide added protection against moisture loss and prevent dryness without irritation and leaves skin soft and smooth. For extra moisturizing day or night, Theraplex Eczema Therapy ($18) relieves dry skin with superior soothing that lasts for hours.

Walking and talking

Even if the kids are too young for their own smartphones, they will feel like the smartest kids at the pool, theme park, campground, or wherever they are using their Cobra ACXT360 Walkie Talkie Radios ($69.99). This three-pack of simple-to-use, two-way radios has a 23-mile range and loads of handy features, including hands-free operation, automatic severe weather alerts, 22 channels, and the ability to program up 221 privacy codes. They also have a keylock, to prevent accidental button pushing, a Roger beep after you finish talking, a battery level indicator, and a backlit LCD display for low-light conditions. If recharging them using the micro USB charging isn’t handy, they can be powered by regular AA alkaline batteries.

Tapped out

Nothing is worse than warm, flat beer when you are out in the hot summer sun, fishing, camping or hanging at a backyard party with friends. Keep the brew fresh and cold with a TrailKeg growler, a vacuum-insulated pressurized container that keeps beverages cold for 24 hours and perfectly carbonated until opened. TrailKeg’s gallon stainless steel bottle ($89.99) is suitable for any beverage and is the perfect vat to cart along to your favorite locally crafted beer brewery, to fill up with cold nitro brew to keep it satisfyingly chilled and fresh when you take it home.

Take it outside

There’s a million backpacks on the market, but if you’re looking for a tough one, then the Lizardskin brand name says it all. The rugged Cache Lifestyle Backpack by Lizardskin ($109.99) is one fine bag, where urban style meets durability. The roll top opening and magnetic clip provide an adjustable storage space to protect all your necessities, and a side zip pocket gives quick access to your electronic devices. It also features webbing for carabiners, an adjustable magnetic sternum strap, and lots of pocket and pouches for organizing all the stuff you carry along on a summer adventure.