Wednesday, June 9, 2010

SUNboring Swimwear for Boys: 2010 Edition

Board shorts are cool and all, but there's something so sweet about little boys in euro-style swim trunks, like the adorable Hip Racer Swim Trunk, left ($9.60, 12 months), from Australian-based ZOGGS. I just wish it was available in more U.S. stores and in larger sizes!

For a similar style, check out Mini Boden's collection of snug fitting swim trunks ($20), which are offered in sizes 1 to 11-12 years. We love all three prints, but our favorite is the bright green crocodiles. If you're looking for more sun protection, we like their bright and stripey Surf Suits ($48), and for post-beach, cuddle your unboring boy up in their comfy Towelling Throw On ($44).

Older boys will really get into Munster Kids' hip and irreverent White Paperplane Board Shorts (sizes 8 & 12, on sale for $39.95 at Tutti Bella), which picture King Kong on top of a building throwing paper airplanes!

Every year I check out Vilebrequin's swimwear collection for boys and I really, really wish their pieces were within my price range, because they have some of the hippest and most inspired styles for boys I've seen, going beyond the surfing and Hawaiian themes we see so much of here in the U.S. Their junior lines--Jim for ages 2-6, and Jam for ages 8-14--were introduced in 1995 and are modeled after the men's collection. This year my favorites are the Rabbits and Corner of Paradise. Both are pricey at $130 but if you plan to live at the beach this year (and can hand them down to a younger child next summer), it might be worth it. You can pretend you're vacationing on the French Riviera!

Just a reminder! There is still time to enter our latest giveaway for a science-themed bodysuit (winners choice!) from KatyANDZucchini. For details click here.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Cool Graphic Tees from Mini Shatsu

Over the years, I've seen a lot of boys' t-shirts, and my reaction to most of them is meh. Because most of them feature the same old tired motifs: cars, sports numbers, dinosaurs. I'm not against dinosaurs or soccer balls--just as long as the designer does something fresh with them.

Once in a while I run across a tee (or tees) that make me think, "Now, that's cool!" And that's what happened when I saw Mini Shatsu's 80s inspired collection of graphic tees & twofers featuring guitars, microphones, old school turntables, cameras, balloon animals and even a fanny pack (sized 3 mos.-8)!

For fall/winter 2010, Mini Shatsu (Shatsu means "shirt" in Japanese) is introducing denim jeans, corduroy and French terry pants, and jackets along with their popular tees and hoodies, including my favorite, the Alien Abduction hoodie, right (this is the back view). Seriously, how cute is this hoodie???! (click on the pic for a closer look). For a list of retailers click here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Science Fun & KatyANDZucchini Giveaway!

Nick and Henry are really into science right now--outer space, experiments, weather, rockets & robots--so this week we're featuring some super cool and geeky science stuff that any scientist-to-be (and his parents) would love, starting with KatyANDZucchini's cool science-themed bodysuits for Baby.

Our favorite is the clever XY chromosome onesie, left ($15.50, sizes 3-6 mos.- 18 mos.) Melissa, the designer behind KatyANDZucchini, who is a mom and science teacher, explains that it's perfect for, "When people in line at the grocery store look at your little guy and say, 'how old is SHE', you can point to his XY chromosome onesie." We also love the set of three alphabet bodysuits including C is for Cephalopod.

Just for Unboring Boys: We are giving away ascience themed bodysuit (winner's choice!) from KatyANDZucchini to one lucky reader! Just browse KatyANDZucchini's shop and e-mail with SCIENCE in the subject line and tell us which style you would choose should you win. Get extra entries for becoming a fan of KatyANDZucchini on Facebook here, leaving a comment below, subscribing to Unboring Boys, or following us on Twitter. We'll pick one lucky Unboring Boys reader at random June 10th. U.S. residents, only, please. Good luck!

More fun science stuff:

Steve Spangler's store has all the supplies and kits little scientists need, including Test Tube Adventures Lab in a Bag, which includes 5 giant test tubes each with a science experiment in it.

Uncommon Goods carries the cutest (and nerdiest) set of Number or ABC Flash Cards ($16-22) (Think: E is for Electromagnetic)!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Bobinette's Spring/Summer Line for Boys

Bobinette's Spring/Summer line is here and I am in love! Bobinette is an Unboring Boy fave (read previous articles here and here) and for good reason. Their styles are hip and adorable and the natural cotton and linen fabrics are so soft and comfortable that your unboring boy will love wearing them. These are signature, timeless pieces that can be dressed up or down, making them incredibly versatile.

My favorite piece this season is the navy Clovis shirt, left, but I also adore the gray gingham Milo shirt.

For the current collection, designer Lorraine Le Tac drew inspiration from her travels around Morocco, Sri Lanka and her hometown of Paris. The name Bobinette means "little face" in French.

To see the entire line and a list of retailers, visit

The lucky winner is....

Congratulations to Kelly from Auckland, New Zealand who won the messenger bag from Meeabee! She chose the adorable beetle cars print. Thanks to all our readers who participated and to Jacqui at Meeabee for being a sponsor! This was our most popular giveaway so far and it was great to hear from so many of you! The very talented Jacqui has hinted at doing another messenger bag giveaway in the fall, so stay tuned.

More fabulous features, giveaways and exclusive savings from the hottest boys' clothing designers and boutiques are coming this summer. Sign up for e-mail updates, or follow us through Blogger or on Twitter.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

For Aspiring Novelists: Tell Me a Story Notebooks from EarthHugs

OK, I know this "Tell Me a Story" mac & cheese notebook from EarthHugs has Pokemon creatures on it (what are Pokemon, anyway?), but read on before you start thinking Unboring Boys has gone over to the dark side of licensed characters.

There are three really cool things about this notebook I want to tell you about.

1) It's made with a recycled mac & cheese box and recycled paper, making it earth-friendly.

2) It's expressly designed for story writing: "Each ruled page is faced by a blank page for young writers to draw a picture that accompanies their journal entry or story." How clever is that?!

3) A mom of two started EarthHugs as a family business that her two kids, ages 6 & 8, could be involved in. Owner Wendi says, "I started it with my kids to help teach them about recycling/upcycling, and also to help teach them some of the fundamentals about business. They are thrilled helping me to assemble the books and also when we get a new heart or facebook fan!"

EarthHugs carries a fun collection of notebooks in different sizes, including a cute Trix Doodle Diary from a mini cereal box, for 3-5 bucks. If you have a struggling or reluctant writer, one of these might just be the motivation they need to start writing their literary masterpiece.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Unboring Rainwear Roundup

It's April and time for our annual roundup of the coolest rain gear for boys. Last year we were a little disappointed in the lack of selection. Sure there were raincoats designed to look like fireman coats galore, along with plenty of boring solid colors. But umbrellas, rain boots and raincoats should be bright and fun to bring a little sunshine to even the gloomiest of rainy days.

Well, this year, I'm happy to report that there are more cool prints and styles for boys to choose from, starting with this awesome tiger print set by Sammies by Samsonite ($47.95) I love the bright orange color & the little tiger handle. Sammies also carries adorable turtle and penguin prints. Shop around the Internet for the best price.

My favorite rain coat this year comes from The Children's Place and features an allover comic book, superhero print (on sale for $22.12; 18 months to 4T). For quality, you can't beat Hatley. Their new Sailing Dog print ($49.99; 2T-7) is SO adorable! As always with Hatley, rain boots and umbrellas are available to match.

Our pick for hippest rain boots this year are the Duck Boots ($58, sizes 1-13) from Stella McCartney for KidGap (looks like some sizes are already selling out), but we also love Trumpette's Johnny rain boots that look like high top sneakers (prices & sizes vary depending on where you buy).

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Make it Personal with Hopscotch Tees

My boys are really into anything personalized right now. So I was excited to come across Hopscotch tees, which takes personalization to a whole new level.

Seattle mom and designer, Shana Perrina, has created an awesome collection of boys' tees that can be personalized with not only your son's name, but his town and even the year he was born! So even if you live in, say, a nondescript suburb like we do, having the name on a shirt will make it seem like a pretty fab place.

Our favorite is the Roboman, left, ($22-27 depending on size and sleeve length) but we also love the Tackle Shop tee. Hopscotch tees are available in infant sizes (the perfect baby shower gift!) up to adult!

Hopscotch tees are 100 percent cotton & made in the U.S. My unboring boy adores his RobomanNick shirt and wears it all the time. It washes up great, and it never fails to get a reaction when we're out and about. The shirts do run small, so I would order a size up to make sure it won't be outgrown for a while, since it will definitely become a favorite.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Just in Time for Warm Weather Adventures: Messenger Bags from Meeabee

If your boys are like mine, we can't leave the house without pockets-full of special toys and treasures, which invariably get lost between the car seats or left behind somewhere. That's why I just fell in love with these messenger bags from Meeabee. Not only are they practical and perfectly sized for little kids 3-5, they are an unboring alternative to backpacks!

Designer Jacqui has boys of her own (ages 3 & 8), so she carries an awesome collection of bags in boy-friendly prints like flags of the world and Beetle-bug cars ($30 each).

When I found out that Jacqui lived in Japan (she ships worldwide), I had to ask her what boys' fashion is like there. Read my interview below, plus find out how you can win one of her fabulous messenger bags!

Unboring Boys: What inspired you to start making children's messenger bags?

Jacqui: I wanted to do something creative and to start a small business. I looked at a few ideas and with the support of my blog readers I started sewing. I looked at the resources I have available to me here in Japan. Fabric was one. Then I looked at Etsy and thought there was a gap in the market for cute bags for kids. The messenger bag was one of my early designs since I wanted to make sure I always had plenty for cool boys. It's evolved into my best-selling item for both boys and girls. I LOVE making them!

Unboring Boys: How do you go about choosing certain fabrics, colors and prints?

Jacqui: I read a lot of online blogs and magazines to keep up with trends in fashion. When I see fabric I love, I buy it. Subconsciously it often fits in with the themes I have been seeing in fashion. Usually I just buy what I have a knee-jerk reaction to - luckily people seem to like my taste! Sometimes I hit the nail on the head. This was the case with an orange and green robot fabric which became my most popular and most-requested design. I knew that orange was predicted to be big that year from reading the Pantone Color Trend Report.

Unboring Boys: What are the current clothes styles and trends for boys in Japan? What brands or looks seem to be hot right now?

Jacqui: Fashion in Japan takes a lot of getting used to. We live in a small city about an hour out of town so it's hardly the epicentre of fashion. I personally find the styles to be very busy with a lot of writing and embellishment on them. The "mini-me" look is popular - dressing your kids in the same style as the parents. In Japan that's called "pair-look". Being winter we are seeing a lot of skinny jeans and black denim; boots are popular as are newspaper boy hats. The rock star look seems to be quite popular.

Unboring Boys: Here in America, the emphasis is on girls’ fashion. Parents don't spend nearly as much on boys' clothes as they do on girls' clothes. Is it the same in Japan?

Jacqui: I think that's probably the case here in Japan as well! However, the Japanese seem to like designer clothing so it's possible they've spent a lot more than you'd think.

Unboring Boys: What are you doing when you are not designing and sewing?

Jacqui: I do most of my designing and sewing late at night. One of my boys is still home with me every day (he's three) so I spend most of my days playing with him, doing housework, the usual mum stuff. My business can be all consuming and I decided I needed some balance. I joined the gym last year and now swim or do aquarobics three or four times a week. It does wonders for my mind and gives me such a lot of energy. It also counteracts the effects of all the baking I do for my home-based English conversation class.

Thanks Jacqui for taking the time to answer my questions! Just for Unboring Boys: We are giving away one boys messenger bag (winner's choice!) from Meeabee to one lucky reader! Just browse Meeabee's Etsy shop and e-mail with MEEABEE in the subject line and tell us which style you would choose should you win. Get extra entries for becoming a fan of Meeabee on Facebook at, leaving a comment below, subscribing to Unboring Boys, or following us on Twitter. We'll pick one lucky Unboring Boys reader at random April 21st. Open to anyone! Good luck!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Unboring Boys supports

Life is funny sometimes. Before I had kids, I worked at a national women's organization that focused on issues affecting women and girls--like the fact that there are way more male engineers than female engineers, and that not enough girls enroll in higher level math and science courses in school. Then I had boys. Even though, as a woman, I was still concerned about girls' issues, as a mom of two boys, I became aware of issues impacting their gender. There are far more boys than girls in special education classes, for example. Too many boys drop out of school. And boys are more likely to struggle with reading.

Reading is one of my favorite things to do, and so far, Nick and Henry enjoy it, too. My hope is that they will continue to love reading as adults, because I firmly believe that readers go far in life. So I want to take time this week to feature whose mission is to "transform boys into lifelong readers."

If you're looking for ways to encourage your little man to read more, is a great starting point. Their site offers a wealth of resources and ideas to encourage a love of reading, such as starting Reading Tribes (basically book clubs for boys) and using graphic novels to get older boys interested. It also has lists of suggested authors and titles--organized by grade level, that boys might enjoy, along with articles, a blog, an awesome logo tee (scroll to the bottom of the store page), sections devoted to writing, and TONS of useful links.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Win an Unboring Nintendo DS Case by BagEnvy

It's just a matter of time before Nick and Henry start asking for a Nintendo DS, and when we do eventually cave in and buy one (no use kidding ourselves), I will definitely pick up an adorable DS case by BagEnvy to keep everything organized.

BagEnvy carries awesome DS/DS Lite cases in boy-friendly styles like the BOYS ROCK electric guitar print ($15.00), left, that has cool black and white contrasting fabric inside. BagEnvy's cases are great quality, fasten with Velcro, and are the perfect "fashion" accessory for any gamer. They keep everything neat with straps inside to hold the DS system securely, 8 slots for game cartridges and loops for the stylus. And they can be customized to hold more games and even a charger. They fit the DS original, Lite and DSi.

We have a blue BOYS ROCK electric guitar Nintendo DS/DS Lite case from BagEnvy up for grabs! Entering is easy! Just browse BagEnvy's collection of Nintendo DS cases, and e-mail with BAGENVY in the subject line and tell us your favorite style. We'll pick one lucky Unboring Boys reader at random March 25th. U.S. residents only, please. Good luck! Psst! BagEnvy carries some chic pieces for moms like iPod and cell phone cases in gorgeous prints so check those out too.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Fun for Earthlings: Alien Mittens from Saint Reagan's Hollow

Snowmageddon, snowpocalypse, snowtorious, in Northern Virginia we've had almost 50 inches of snow so far this winter. And after power outages, endless snow shoveling, school cancellations, and being stuck inside with two cranky 6-year-old boys, I'll scream if one more snowflake falls from the sky.

But these awesome hand-knitted wool alien mittens from Saint Reagan's Hollow ($24.99) give me the strength to make it through the rest of the winter because they are just SO unique and fun. Boys of any age--Dads too--will love them! If your unboring boy isn't into aliens, check out the brown T-Rex mittens, complete with felt claws. Winter's not over yet (sigh). So now's the perfect time to replace those mismatched and worn-out mittens with some cool ones that your boy will love to wear and that will bring a smile to your face even when school's out again and the neighborhood is impassable with no snow plow in sight.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mix it up with Kool Kid Legs from Mamarunswithscissors (plus giveaway!)

The layered look, or twofer, is a simple but revolutionary idea--take a tee shirt and sew on long sleeves in contrasting colors. Twofers remain a top trend and are now a staple of most boys' wardrobes. While sleeves in unexpected (or even clashing) colors make otherwise ho-hum tees look cool, prints, plaids and stripes make them look even cooler. Which is why I was thrilled to run across Kool Kid Legs by Mamarunswithscissors.

Kool Kid Legs are handmade arm/leg warmers that can be mix-and-matched with any tee to create something unique, one-of-a-kind, and a little wild. I LOVE the argyle print and the Tim Burton-esqe black and red stripes, above. Kool Kid Legs are super cozy, stay put, and save money too, because adding long sleeves extends the life of pricey designer tees. They are the perfect accessory for spring, when it starts out cool in the morning and gets warm later. If your boy gets too hot on the playground, he can just slip off his sleeves! For those of you with baby boys, Kool Kid Legs are great to pair with onesies.

Mamarunswithscissors is giving away a pair of 14 inch Kool Kid Legs to one lucky Unboring Boys reader! Just visit Mamarunswithscissors' shop, then email with KOOL KID LEGS in the subject line and tell us what design you like. We'll draw a winner at random February 28th. U.S. residents only, please. Good luck! In the meantime, Mamarunswithscissors is offering free shipping on all orders through 2/28 for readers. Just use the keyword "Unboring" when ordering.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cloth Napkins from JuniperBerries (Win a set!)

Even small changes make a difference, so last year, my family resolved to use reusable bags for all our shopping. For 2010, we're using cloth napkins instead of paper.

To get my boys excited about the switch, I searched for some fun designs that boys would like. I knew I'd found the coolest napkins ever when I ran across Juniperberries' Mad Kitty napkins ($7/set of 2). Even if you aren't a cat person, it's hard not to fall in love with these adorable tabbies in lab coats!

Juniperberries is giving away a 2-piece set of Mad Kitty napkins to one lucky Unboring Boys reader! Just visit JuniperBerries' Esty shop, then email with MAD KITTY in the subject line and tell us what other napkin designs you like. We'll draw a winner at random February 7th. U.S. residents only, please. Good luck!

P.S. Moms, while you're looking at napkin designs, check out JuniperBerries' to-die-for collection of aprons. Even if you're just making macaroni and cheese from the box, you will look chic in their gorgeous black and white floral half apron, just $18!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Win a Set of Thank You Notes for Boys from Bugaboo Announcements!

Writing can seem like a chore for my 6-year-old son, Nick, who is still working on strengthening his grip. That's why I love these fill-in-the-blank notes from Bugaboo Announcements (13.95 for 12). They're the perfect "training" notes for kids like Nick, who are learning the importance of thanking others but struggle when it comes to writing whole paragraphs.

Even for confident writers, composing a stack of thank you cards can seem overwhelming. Here, some ideas for making it fun:

1) Put together a box of special markers, pens and stickers only to be used for writing thank you notes.

2) Give your unboring boy a set of cool personalized note cards, like Alien note cards (16.95 for 12) and matching return labels (7.95 for 24 labels). Bugaboo Announcements carries an awesome collection of cards with fun, original, and all-occasion designs that boys will love.

3) Do your boys need a little extra motivation to write thank you notes? Allow them to play with new toys the day they are received. After that, put the toys away until thank you notes have been written and mailed.

4) Before sitting down to write, talk to your child about the gift. What does he like about it? Who gave it to him and what makes that person special? This will help him figure out what to write.

5) Involve your son in every part of the process, from stamping the envelopes to dropping the cards at the post office.

6) Set a goal of writing one or two thank you notes a day, depending on your child's age, to keep the task from becoming overwhelming.

Bugaboo Announcements is giving away a set of 12 note cards from their Bugaboo Notes stationary line to one lucky Unboring Boys reader! Just visit Bugaboo Announcements's Etsy shop or their website at, then email with BUGABOO in the subject line and tell us which card design you would choose should you win. We'll draw a winner at random January 24th. U.S. residents only, please. Good luck!