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23 Mar '20

Six Heartwarming Activities for Kids While Social Distancing

Posted by Annie Messing

This blog has been gathering virtual cobwebs while I've focused on other areas of the shop - but a new post is long overdue! And there's no time like the present while we are all hunkered down at home, perfecting the art of social distancing.

I am fortunate that my four children are natural homebodies and love being home together. My husband and I have been taking them outside at least once a day for fresh air, but they've been mostly content with their books, art supplies, and beloved toys. Hmm, wonder how long that will last - ha!

Amidst all the fear, panic, and grim news regarding the coronavirus, I have been so touched by the heartwarming acts of service so many popular artists, authors, and entertainers have been creating. It's wonderful to see such empathy reflected from  the global community. 

While I always recommend good old-fashioned block building, pretend play, and book reading over screentime, I am incredibly grateful that we live in a time when the internet is providing ways for parents to keep their children happily engaged and entertained. Here are six online activities for kids while social distancing - ones my own children have been enjoying ever so much!

1. Oliver Jeffries Storytime, available on his website as well as live on his Instagram account, weekdays at 2pm EST.

2. Josh Gad Storytime, available each day on his Twitter account.

3. Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems, every weekday day at 1pm EST on the Kennedy Center's website.

4. Coloring pages by artist Lore Pembleton. All proceeds go to a local Vermont food bank. Lore has also generously offered 20% off anything in her shop with code ATHOME.

5. Delish is offering a free children's cooking class via their Instagram account, weekdays at 1pm EST. For ingredients list, go here.

6. Google Arts & Culture invites you to virtually explore five US national parks here.

 

30 Apr '19

Five Helpful Parenting Resources

Posted by Annie Messing

My four children get out of school in just a few weeks, which means as thrilled as I am to have more time with them this summer, I also know my not-so-deep well of patience will be tested. I feel very blessed that for the most part, my children get along quite well. The squabbles do occur though and wow, I can feel so drained helping them mediate through it!

This summer, I have decided to create a "parenting toolbox" for myself. It's nothing too complicated, just some resources that I can turn to when I need some emotional encouragement and support. In case it may be useful for you as well, here is what I've gathered thus far.

Annie's Summer Parenting Toolbox
2. Courtney Adamo's new e-course, In The Loop (sign-up through May 15th)
3. Raising Mixed Race by Sharon Chang
4. Parents Magazine special edition: The Mindful Life, (on newsstands now)
I am excited to read, listen, and learn from all five of these sources, as many of them have come highly recommended. If you have a parenting resource you would like to share, please feel free to send me an email. I would love to hear from you!
14 Feb '19

Celebrating Black History Every Day

Posted by Annie Messing in Gift Guides

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With MLK Jr. Day in January and Black History Month in February, I always appreciate how our local library intentionally highlights African American history on its book displays during these winter months. No matter how many times I've read to my children about Rosa Parks, the Underground Railroad, Martin Luther King Jr. and other important black history makers, we learn something new that deepens our overall understanding of race in America.

It is my humble opinion that if we want to raise up our children to be tomorrow's leaders, they have to learn and hopefully possess a deep empathy for what it means to be black in America. The books we read to our children, the dolls we give them to play with, and even a simple thing like crayon colors can all help shape their understanding of diversity.

In this months blog post, I've rounded up eight gifts and books that I hope will encourage children to champion civil rights and experience life from another person's perspective. In addition, here are a few other wonderful links on African American history and culture.

10 Black History Books for Bedtime

The Conscious Kid

Family Education: Black History Month

P.S. Read picture books to your children that show African-American/Asian/Hispanic characters! Regular stories - not just ones on historical figures. I would hate for our children to think that every book that features a person of color tackles racism or historical repression.

31 Jan '19

Sweet Elephant Themed Baby Shower Gifts

Posted by Annie Messing in Gift Guides

I am no expert on baby trends, but it really does seem that elephants are becoming more and more popular! I keep seeing them pop up in nursery decor, picture books, and even baby clothing. Since a new knit elephant was also just added to the shop, I thought this month's blog theme would follow suit! Here are six adorable elephant gifts to choose from for your next baby shower.

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13 Dec '18

Six Wonderful Wooden Toys to Gift this Christmas

Posted by Annie Messing
There are so many fantastic wooden toys available right now from small family-owned craftsmen to larger, more established toy companies in Europe. Before I go any further though, I want to remind readers that a well-designed wooden toy is always going to be made with hardwoods, whereas a mass-produced wooden toy will be made of either a soft pine or particle board. The latter will not last more than a few years. The paint will chip off, the wood itself will splinter and you'll wonder why you didn't just go with an equivalent in plastic from the start!
A well-designed toy made of hardwoods will last for years if not decades. The edges of the toy may smooth over time and need a little oiling if it isn't finished with a top sealant. But on the whole, a toy made of hardwoods will stand the test of time. Yes, this higher quality toy does tend to be more expensive, but when you watch your child play over and over with that same toy - year after year, you'll realize it was worth it.
Today I am sharing six beautifully designed wooden toys that are all still available for this holiday season. Most of these toys, like the bow + arrow set, the forklift, the elephant puzzle, and the woodland animals are all ones my own four children have and play with often. No matter how many times I have to pick these up off the floor at the end of the day, I smile at how well-loved they are. These are toys that truly enrich playtime and inspire a child's imagination!
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