| Stuff We Love

Summer goods and gear picks

Perfect for kite-flying season: the Prism Triad Kite. This single-line box kite can be enjoyed by any pilot age 9 and up. Plus, the kite has its own storage sleeve and folds down to a compact size -- so you can bring it wherever you go. Great for a local visit to Seattle's Gasworks Park, or plan a trip to the annual Washington State International Kite Festival (www.kitefestival.com) at Long Beach, Wash., this year Aug. 20-26. Kite available for $20 at any local REI store or at www.rei.com.

More family game-night fun: Baffle Gab and Evolution. Both products of local inventors -- Pamela Moore Dionne of Port Townsend created Baffle Gab while Karl and Julie Archer of Kirkland developed Evolution -- these award-winning games are made for big family gatherings (read: reunions or other get-togethers where adults and kids can sit around a big table). Our family of four -- two teens and two adults -- tried out both games on different summer evenings. The journalists in the group (my son and I) especially enjoyed Baffle Gab, which requires you to write (or, for younger kids, tell) a story using five words drawn at random -- all in one minute or less. Each word includes dictionary definitions and players keep track of points using "bone bucks" -- encouraging kids to develop math skills by calculating dollars earned and making change. Our entire family also appreciated the interactive, team approach of Evolution, appropriately subtitled "The Game That Evolves as You Play." Designed for players ages 12 and up, the game requires at least two teams of two players each -- but it's easy to imagine a large competition involving several teams of four. The game features five phases -- from Primate through Super Human -- and 18 different challenges. Teams are required to draw, mime, decode clues, rhyme words, answer trivia questions, act and sing. Baffle Gab is available through www.bafflegab.com for $29.95. Evolution sells for $34.95 online (www.platypusgames.com), and is also available at several local retailers.

Whether you are planning a family transcontinental flight or a three-hour drive, keeping the kids busy is always at the top of the list. At last, here's a travel store designed with kids in mind: www.madallie.com. This online store features a virtual inventory of fun and educational items. The Plane Spotter game allows children to identify planes on the tarmac and then check their guesses, keeping them entertained while waiting for flights. Books, including Lisa in New York or This is Venice, give kids the inside scoop on their vacation destination. Other offerings include travel-friendly art and craft projects, cuddly "comfort dolls," puppets, pillows, blankets and travel cases.

Conversations to Go is a portable game that's perfect for a family car trip, beach cabin rainy day or one of those rare evenings -- for families with teens -- when everyone is at home at the same time. Developed by Seattle-based Moonjar (creators of the popular Moonjar moneyboxes), each version -- original, money and travel -- features 100 thought-provoking, fun-filled, multi-generational questions packed in a box resembling a Chinese food takeout container. Available for $12.95 through www.moonjar.com or visit the Web site for local retailers.

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