Guest post: The Overwhelming World of Toys

Excited to have another great guest writer! Sara, from Rad Babee has some great tips on how to choose toys for little ones in your life!  She is a physical therapist who specializes in orthopedics and sports. She says pediatrics is a whole new, amazing learning experience for her and her little boy (currently 8 months).  She reports they are absolutely loving every minute of it.  Join them on their adventure as they figure out this first year of life!

Rad Babee’s post:

These days, there is an overwhelming amount of choices when it comes to toys. Selecting toys for my child was one of the most overwhelming choices I had to make. This blog post will take you through my thought process and toy selection for my little one.

  1. The toy should encourage development.

Whether it is encouraging gripping or reaching, used for tummy time, or some other milestone; the toy should help your little one grow. The toy should assist with making them stronger, fine tune gripping skills or encourage visual tracking etc. As long as the toy is helping the little one enjoy reaching his or her full potential, then I feel the toy is beneficial and appropriate.

  1. The toy should stand the test of time.

It is a personal opinion of mine that children do not need millions of toys. I would rather select a few key toys that will grow with the child instead of being overrun with excessive amounts of toys that my child has outgrown. Simply selecting toys because they are cute or inexpensive does not seem like good reasons to purchase a toy. Toys that they will play with for years to come such as balls, stacking cups etc will provide you with many years of play. Toys that can be used for long periods of time by allowing for different developmental stages to be encouraged will be a beneficial toy to add to your toy box.

  1. The toy should be multifunctional.

On my quest for the perfect toy, I looked for toys that multitasked. This was yet another way to avoid an overabundance of toys. Why spend so much money on toys when so much money can be spent elsewhere for children? Ie. Educational funds? When researching toys, I looked for toys that served as a dual purpose. Whether that was a ball that was also a rattle; or a mirror with different fabrics for tactile play. If the toy had multiple functions, that again encouraged development, I considered it for my child.

  1. Toys can be simple!

Toys do not always need to be overly expensive and cost a small fortune. For example, block sets are amazing toys that have been around for ages. There is a reason they are still around…. Because kids enjoy them! Simple toys are fantastic for encouraging creativity. In an age where everything is overdone and people struggle to entertain themselves, simple toys might be even more beneficial now than in the past. Encouraging a child to use his or her mind to play teaches them something that seems to be somewhat lost these days.

See Sara’s choices for her child and the full post here.

 

Strasburg Rail Road Giveaway

It’s Friday and I have something for YOU!

If you’ve been following me for at least a few weeks, then you know I posted about a train play sneak peak not too long ago!  Guess what?  The full story is here!  And what’s better?  I have two FREE tickets to give to a lucky winner!

My mom (Gram to kids) gave our toddler the sweetest gift for his second birthday this past March – a little toy train with a note that said we’d take a family train ride in the summer.  We had been once before we had kids to Strasburg Rail Road with some friends and their kids and decided it was a great place to go back to, so we packed up the toddler, the baby, us and my mom and off we went for a day of fun.

Our toddler LOVED it.  It was really fun for all.  I wanted to write all about it and share it with you but before I did that, I thought it would be way more fun to read if you could have the chance to go there….so, I called up the rail road and got a direct number to their business line where I was able to reach someone in charge of marketing and get two tickets for free to share with one lucky winner.  Yes, that’s right – there’s nothing in it for me.  I simply wanted to share our amazing experience.

First we went on a 45 minute ride through the countryside – gorgeous for the adults and so much fun for the kiddos!  The conductor had great narrative over the loud speaker, a photographer offered to take our photo, and dressed up like decades ago when the railroad ran on coal (it actually still does for this experience) was a person selling an old (newly printed) newspaper!  My son spent the ride looking out the window, excited by all we passed and the ride itself, making “chugga-chugga, choo-choo” sounds all the while.

The adults enjoyed watching him and the delight he found in it as well as the beautiful countryside and ride experience.  After the ride was over we went to the gift shop where my son picked a couple (pretty reasonably priced) toy trains to bring home.  We had packed a lunch and found a nice, shady table outside the shop to enjoy it.  They also have a cafe on site.

Did I mention we had to drive 2.5 hours to get there?  Well, it was worth it.

Want to win two tickets to see for yourself?  Please comment on this Facebook post between now and August 31, 2017 at 11:59pm Eastern to win! It’s really that easy – no sign ups, no sharing, just any comment on the linked post.

Wait, you don’t live in Pennsylvania or near enough to the rail road to make a trip? Please share with your friends who do or enter to win for them.  These would make an excellent gift and I should know, that’s how we ended up there!

 

 

Rethink Gender Roles Book List

As I work on the second book in the Pajama Mama “teachable values” children’s book series published by Eifrig Publishing, Pajama Mama Tutu Tuesday, a playful book for young children (but good for all ages) that supports gender equality and teaches children they can dream to be anything they want when they grow up, regardless of workforce or gender stereotypes, I cannot help but think about what I am teaching my own children.

That being said, I know I am not the only one to write or illustrate a children’s book about gender roles that teaches children the value of being who they are and going after their goals and dreams, regardless of gender norms.  I think it’s time to #rethinkgenderroles and I desperately need your help.

I’m starting a master children’s book list for this rethinking process that I will compile, organize and then happily share with you all so you can reference it, too. If you know of a book that you think should be on the list or you know of someone who will know of a book, please, please comment or share it with them through my “call for books” post on Facebook.

Thanks to all of you for your support and suggestions!

Pretend cooking play

We got a hand-me-down play kitchen months ago.  I repainted it and fixed it up a little to look like our real kitchen a little bit.  I like to have options for different kinds of play and am not bothered by gender stereotypes.  In fact, in our home, my hubby is the better cook and he learned from his father!  I can only hope both my boys get that quality from their Jammie Daddy 🙂

 

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When my oldest son first showed interest in helping in the real kitchen is about the time I remodeled the play kitchen for him.  Now, months later, he uses it for pretend play and it’s so fun.  The other day he made me some alphabet soup with blocks and refrigerator letter magnets!  We have two sets, so he uses one for the play kitchen but he also loves the ones on our fridge and uses them with the intended letter bus! (He’s never even had any real soup with letter noodles so this was just his imagination!)

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When he served it to me, he warned me “hot!”.  I blew on it to cool it down and “tasted” it.  It was scrumptious!

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What is your little one’s favorite pretend play or what was yours when you were little?  Share your response here.

Hope you find time for some play today! Use #pajamamamamonday to share a photo if you do. And remember, it doesn’t have to be a Monday to enjoy some play time! You can play and spend quality time with your loved ones any day.  Check out more on Pajama Mama’s website for other recommendations and play ideas!

 

 

Popsicles

One of this summer’s favorite treats are most definitely popsicles!  I make a smoothie every day for lunch filled with banana, spinach, some frozen fruit, a little apple cider vinegar, hemp seed, sometimes a little coconut oil, and a seed mix we make that includes: chia, oats, ground flax, quinoa, turmeric, and pepper.  Between the bananas and frozen fruit it’s always sweet enough that I think it’s delicious.  My toddler often shares this tasty treat with me.   He would drink it even if it was full of only vegetables but Mama prefers the sweetness of the fruit!  Last summer I bought him some reusable silicone popsicle molds but he couldn’t quite figure out how to use them.  This summer we haven’t stopped freezing smoothie inside of them – so yummy!

Found this popsicle cook book and wondering if I should try other kinds besides simply freezing smoothies!  Does anyone have any yummy popsicle recipes to share?  If yes, please do so here!

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Hope you find time for some play today! Use #pajamamamamonday to share a photo if you do. And remember, it doesn’t have to be a Monday to enjoy some play time! You can play and spend quality time with your loved ones any day.  Check out more on Pajama Mama’s website for other recommendations and play ideas!

Blueberry books

My mom (Gram to kids) went to library before we even had a chance to go.  She’s a retired librarian so I should have expected it.  She brought us two blueberry books to read and I’m so thankful.  One, called Blueberry Train, is a little too advanced for the toddler’s attention span (more lengthy in words) but he still loved looking at the train pictures!  The other one, Blueberries for Sal, was recommended by a few people when I reached out asking for berry picking books last week.

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Blueberries for Sal is delightful and captures exactly what it’s like to go blueberry picking with a toddler!  We pick and they eat! It’s so completely innocent and adorable.

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Thanks to all those who made recommendations for us to read!  Hope you can make time today for some reading fun or other play! Use #pajamamamamonday to share a photo if you do. And remember, it doesn’t have to be a Monday to enjoy some play time! You can play and spend quality time with your loved ones any day.  Check out more on Pajama Mama’s website for other book recommendations and play ideas!

Bean picking day!

I’m so excited! Today we picked a few green beans from the garden.  We gardened in pots this year and it seems to be working very well.  I ordered seeds and ended up not using them all so I shared with the neighbors.  I think this is what we’ll do next year, too!  The toddler helped me collect the “big” beans ready to eat and counted them along the way.

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There will definitely be more to eat later this week but we were able to get a few to add to the dinner menu for tonight.  They looked so delicious.  We ended up snacking on a couple straight off the plant – yum!

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It was so much fun to count with fresh picked beans.  Cannot wait for tonight’s dinner.

Hope you find time for some play today! Use #pajamamamamonday to share a photo if you do. And remember, it doesn’t have to be a Monday to enjoy some play time! You can play and spend quality time with your loved ones any day.  Check out more on Pajama Mama’s website for other recommendations and play ideas!