December 20, 2016

Last Minute Toys For Kids (STEM, STEAM and Fun)

dsc_1100

 

When the boys were really small, I had Christmas down.  We did holiday-themed art projects, advent calendars, Christmas stories, and went to see Santa right after Thanksgiving.  Their stockings were filled with carefully curated items, and Christmas cookies were baked.

I’m slipping.

For the last few years, Christmas seems to take us by surprise.  Now it’s as much of a Christmas tradition to have Mike and I on Amazon at 1AM three days before Christmas chanting, ‘Prime shipping!!  Filter on prime shipping!!”

So.  If you are riding the crazytown train right into Christmas, turnaround and say hi.  We’re sitting one row behind you.

Happily, Amazon does have some seriously amazing options.  We’re talking really and truly special gifts with high levels of Morning-of-Excitement, and even some toy options that were included in this year’s STEM guide (available to newsletter subscribers), but are worth talking about again. (Also check last year’s STEM guide – most of the products featured come with prime shipping options.)  Additionally, I found a few subscription-based gifts perfect for little (or teenage) engineers and artists.

Without further ado….here are a few last-minute gift options that will make it look like you’ve been planning this all along…

Continue Reading…

December 9, 2016

Baby Gifts for the Design-Minded

img_2626slideshow

Lucky me… I got to round up adorable baby gifts! It can sometimes be tricky shopping for the itty bitty ones at the holidays though. You want to get something fun for them, but depending on how tiny they are, they may not be super into toys yet. Sometimes for the littles you’re essentially gifting to the parents, so you want something lovely and cute.

I tried to include a good mix of toys and special items to help ya out this year when shopping for the 0-2 year old loves in your life. Check them out here…

Continue Reading…

December 7, 2016

Preschool Picks: 10 Bright Gifts for Your Little One

preschool-gift-guide

Preschoolers are such a cool age – big enough to graduate from baby toys, not quite ready for the tiny pieces of big kid toys – but bursting with creativity, exploring pretend play and interested in figuring out how everything works. So creating a gift guide for them was incredibly fun! These toys are pure joy – think brightly colored, open-ended and safe for hours of boredom-busting this winter and beyond.

Continue Reading…

December 5, 2016

Gender Neutral Dollhouses

dollhouses_opening

When I was three, I got a dollhouse for Christmas, built by my talented Papa (he went on to make grandfather clocks and I’m honored to have one in my dining room.) I was so excited; it was a memory I’ll never forget. As I got older, I remember decorating the walls inside with wrapping paper for wallpaper and placing the delicate furniture my grandmother got me in the different rooms.

I’m grateful for my thoughtful parents who carefully saved this dollhouse that is now sitting in Sienna’s room here in Portland (all the way from Arkansas via a stint in Nashville) and I’m so glad we lugged that around all these years. The coolest part? My papa painted the house yellow with white trim all those years ago…the exact colors of our new house in Portland. (Cue all the tears).

I know not everyone can have a talented Papa around to make a custom dollhouse, but I’ve found some seriously cute, high-quality options that will bring years of joy for your little.

me_papa_christmasslideshow

Why gender-neutral?  Well…for two reasons:  First, here at TME we strongly believe in moving past old, limiting stereotypes and embracing the child you have, whatever that may mean, and….as it turns out, non-gender biased dollhouses are less-gimmicky, more décor-friendly dollhouses, too.  The simpler designs allow for kiddos’ imaginations to run wild and give us mamas who enjoy a peaceful looking home a great option we don’t have to relegate to the toy closet. When on the hunt for these little houses, the designer in me was tempted to only choose the natural wooden ones, but I did find some cute, colorful wooden houses, too.

(My poor child and her black & white, neutral-toned life, haha. Except for the yellow dollhouse, of course.)

Check out the fun options I found below.

Continue Reading…

November 15, 2016

Best Non-Chocolate Advent Calendars for 2016

non-chocolate-advent-calendar-2016

I know. I knowww it’s too early for holiday stuff, especially before Thanksgiving, but advent calendars get a pass because you need ’em by December 1. Which is in a few weeks. And this year, I was looking for non-chocolate advent calendars for a few reasons: one, kids + chocolate before breakfast = no; two, toddler is woke to whatever big sis is eating and I don’t want to be painstakingly bisecting tiny candies before my eyes are even open,  and three, the chocolate isn’t even good. There are so many fun options on the market, from pre-filled toy versions to gorgeous personalized – ones you can use year after year.

Our top pick in this house is the playmobil advent calendar – perfect for a toddler + kindergartener, but I found all kinds of cool, modern options for all ages & stages.  We’re talking Star Wars to hand-embroidered heirloom pieces you can incorporate into your existing holiday traditions and fill with whatever you want. My absolute favorite idea, especially in light of recent events, is tucking a note with an act of kindness for each day of the month into the fill-it-yourself versions.

Continue Reading…

By November 15, 2016 21 No tags Permalink
August 25, 2016

Best Back to School Backpacks from Preschool to College

best_backpacks_2016

So I was flipping through channels and came upon a charming show called “Don’t be Tardy” starring an ex-‘Real Housewife’, but which could in fact be the theme song for my life recently. (Facebook told me it’s my 8th wedding anniversary today, which totally didn’t register until my hubs rolled over bright & early and confirmed – um, whoops? I have no grounds for getting mad about his lack of planning for special events for the foreseeable future.) Also, suprise – I’m behind on back to school shopping. Most importantly, for a backpack. I realize many of your kids have started the school year already but in my state we don’t go back until after Labor Day so there’s still time! If your brain’s still on summer vacation like mine, I rounded up the coolest backpacks for toddlers through teens that have fast shipping (and many are on sale since it’s so late!) Off to have that recurring stress dream about forgetting it’s the 1st day of school…

Continue Reading…

By August 25, 2016 8 No tags Permalink
July 27, 2016

The Coolest New Portable, Open-Ended Toy: Sago Mini Jinja’s House

 

 

imaginative-play-for-kids

I may have stumbled upon the coolest new kid’s toy for 2016: Sago Mini Jinja’s House.

There’s this tiny toy craze (borderline obsession) that seems to have taken over the minds of kids everywhere. You know what I’m talking about, right?  Shopkins, Kinder Surprise eggs, yada yada yada.  I don’t understand it (at. all.), but my kids are ALL ABOUT IT.   Where did baby dolls go…or a good old unrealistic Barbie (haha)? Those were my jam.

Anyway, Jinja’s House has got the tiny-and-cute thing down pat.  We’re talking little animal creatures, colorful furniture and an adorable little house. Now, I may not get the Shopkins craze, but I can get down with this. It’s cute, doesn’t require assembly (yesaaaaah!), is foldable and can be carried around. Not to mention, it provides kids with an open-ended toy that gets their creativity and imaginations working.

I like it. I really, really like it.

Continue Reading…

By July 27, 2016 4 No tags Permalink
May 12, 2016

What’s Your Pool Float Personality?

pool-floats-2016

 

Did you know Memorial Day is less than 3 weeks away?! What? We’ve had a few false starts to spring here, but today was finally warm enough to imagine that summer’s on its way. Maybe.  Since we’ll have access to a pool this summer I’ve been browsing water toys for the kids but ended up finding all these amazing pool floats I want! There are so many cool options now that I was almost overwhelmed by choice (back in my day, this guy was about as exciting as it got) so I rounded up the best of the bunch in hopes someone may benefit from the many, many hours I waste conduct research online.

To make shopping even more fun (because looking at giant, adorable inflatable animals is so taxing) I created fun little pool float personality capsules – are you a GLAMama, junk foodie, American beauty or the resident mermaid on duty?

Continue Reading…

By May 12, 2016 3 No tags Permalink
December 18, 2015

Gifts for Crafty Kids of All Ages

kids-arts-crafts-gifts

When I was a kid, my favorite gifts were arts and crafts-related; they were the first ones I ripped from the packaging and dove into headfirst, then continued using long after the novelty of other toys wore off. Kids today have so many opportunities to create with technology but often at the expense of projects made with real, tactile objects which are so important. Another magical benefit of open-ended crafty gifts? They’ll center kids when they need a break from the holiday chaos and provide a better outlet for all that sugar-driven energy than whatever follows “HEY MOM, watch this!” Here’s a roundup of gifts for makers of all ages.

Crafts for Little Kids

Don’t let the Pigeon Finish This Activity Book!: Parents are raving over this book on Amazon – seriously, it has a damn near perfect rating. It’s a crazy, unusual, playful journey which tells a story as they work through 250 pages of activities. Think pages that turn into hand puppets, building an airport, creative prompts like drawing your favorite food in the fridge – one mom said her kids were entertained for THREE hours in a row. God, I need to stop shopping enabling myself.

Yoobi Art Enthusiast Bundle: Have you guys heard of Yoobi? They’re a company that makes bright, modern school supplies with a 1-for-1 mission – for every item purchased, they donate an item  to a classroom in need in the U.S. So awesome. Their holiday bundles are so cute; they were kind enough to send over this art bundle which my preschooler is using non-stop. The surprisingly vibrant crayons are triangle shaped so they don’t roll off the table (yesss), and the markers are perfectly sized for little hands. We haven’t tried everything yet, but it got her enthusiastic stamp of approval. (Note: the tempera paint is more of a pretty, watercolor-y wash of color).

My Giant Busy Box: This is our go-to gift for the preschool set. Tons of projects they can do independently or with a little help. The scissors included for paper cutting exercises are plastic and not sharp, but they work amazingly well! Does your kid march to a different drummer? Mine too. Sometimes she didn’t want to follow the projects and had a blast creating whatever she wanted with the fun art supplies. Because art doesn’t have rules, Mom.

Crafts for Big Kids

Sneaker Customization Kit: Got a hard to shop for tween/teen on your list? Call in your ringer. They can customize 2-3 pairs of ‘involved’ shoes, or 4-5 pairs of regular shoes with this kit, which includes everything they need to paint a waterproof, wearproof design and have the coolest kicks in town.

Craft-A-Day: 365 Simple Handmade Projects: This book’s filled with supersweet little crafts like magnets, cupcake toppers, garlands, hair accessories, little stuffed animals, cute overload right here. Your response every time they say “I’m boooooooored” for a whole year.

Hand-Carved Stamp Kit: I love this little stamp maker kit. Kids can use the templates provided in the box to carve stamps, or freehand whatever they want to make custom stamps for stationery, notebooks, gift tags, etc. They’ll be opening an Etsy store before you know it.

Crafty Gifts for Everyone

The Little Book of Calm Coloring: Anyone not need a calm, sanity saving activity during the holidays or just everyday life? …Bueller? This little book is less intricate than the detailed adult coloring books, but still has interesting patterns you (or kids) can get lost in for an hour or more. Well, I’ve already bought some Christmas gifts for myself, so on to stocking stuffers it seems!

Colorforms Original 60th Anniversary Edition: They’re back! And still as awesome as you remember (unlike Flight of the Navigator). These are pretty much the definition of open-ended creativity for ages 3+. Educational, entertaining and just plain cool.

Boogie Board eWriter: Ok, so this one’s electronic – but – it’s basically a feather-light portable sketch pad where kids can practice writing, draw, do math problems. See? Educational. Nice feature – upload their artwork to your phone or computer (or write your grocery list then send it to your phone because it’s more fun than paper).

Happy quiet time!

Amanda

P.S.- More guaranteed cool Mom Edit gift guides for everyone on your list.

By December 18, 2015 0 No tags Permalink
December 6, 2015

Our Favorite STEM Toys (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)

holiday-2015-stem-01

 

Mike and I were both math majors in college – that’s actually how we first met.  I spent my pre-baby career as an engineer working on missile warning systems (Mike worked on similar programs – include the Hubble Space Telescope which was so freaking cool), and I bring this up to make this one very important point:

Science + Math = really cool shit

As you might imagine, it’s important to Mike and I that our kids know their way around the solar system, the periodic table, a Random Forest, of course.  But what you might not realize (based on the number of times people say, ‘you don’t seem like an engineer’) is that science and technology fields actually require a good deal of creative thinking.  And that the best engineers are often rule breakers, innovators, totally out-of-the-box thinkers.   They are people who question, who puzzle, who figure things out.  There’s a reason IBM’s motto is simply, THINK.

What I love about kids is that they do all of this naturally.  Kids are the ultimate out-of-the-box thinkers.  And when we adults can clear their schedules, give them the time and the space….kids tinker, they puzzle, they turn things around and around….they think.

 

Ultimately, kids don’t need much in terms of toys to do all of this good work.  Carving out time and space in their day is much more important.  However, there are a few toys (and books) that Mike and I have really been impressed with over the years.  Some are totally engaging and open-ended and promote curiosity like no other.  Others help build critical thinking skills, and a few books so beautifully illustrate complex mathematical concepts it almost brings tears to my eyes.

So.  Keep reading for a list of our favorite STEM toys. (STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)

little-bits-review

 

Continue Reading…

By December 6, 2015 51 No tags Permalink