More than a Toy Store
More than a Toy Store
Like so many of the moms of our generation, I grew up a “Toys R Us Kid”. We went there for birthday presents, Christmas presents, last minute birthday gifts, and on special occasions like preschool graduation and mother daughter outings. Many years went by where I didn’t have a reason to go there. Then came baby showers, pregnancy, and motherhood, and it took on a new meaning. We drove two hours to the closest full size Babies R Us to register for our firstborn after over a year of trying so hard for her. Over the years that followed, it became a regular place for me to visit for urgent pumping supplies, Black Friday sales, Christmas and birthday presents, baby shower gifts, and wandering aisles on maternity leave to keep me busy.
It was also the parking lot I was sitting in when I accidentally found out our firstborn was a girl. Eight months into my pregnancy, I decided to switch to a birth center and had picked up my records from my OB to bring to the new center. On the way, I stopped at Babies R Us to pick up some things, and decided to look over the records before bringing them to my midwife.
We had not found out the sex, and not planned to. But our miracle baby had kidney disease, and they left the gender out of all but one report. The one from Children’s Hospital. You see, with most conditions, gender does not matter. But with kidney disease, it does. So there it was “singleton female fetus”. Out poured tears and tears and tears of pure joy. I was so sure my sweet baby was a boy. I was wrong, and I was elated. Then I had to let my husband know I ruined the surprise, but that is another story.
It may just be a store, but it is a store so full of memories lasting decades. Wandering the aisles with my parents, hearing their stories of shopping then staying up until the wee hours of the night putting gifts together, then taking on those same roles myself as a parent. So much of my mothering experience was rooted in time there. Walking the aisles with the scanner as we eagerly picked out the perfect gender neutral baby items. We had waited until after the anatomy scan, a scan at which we got devastating news about our rainbow baby. So then we waited. Eventually, we registered. Hopeful, optimistic, and praying that our baby would be just fine. Aisles I had walked prior to that pregnancy while facing infertility and miscarriage searching for hope like I’m sure so many others have. Thumbing through tiny clothes, maternity wear, testing out strollers, and wandering aimlessly wondering if you will ever need these things. Month after month. And then we were finally there for our baby, a miracle baby, but also a sick baby. A baby we weren’t sure at that time would make it. It was such a joyous, bittersweet, emotion filled experience.
To fast forward, over two more pregnancies and three more babies, there were dozens more visits for all the reasons listed above. Each new baby brought new needs, and the excitement of shopping for gifts for new babies to be of our friends and families. So many merry trips with my children climbing in and out of the ride on cars, just as I had as a kid, picking out toys that brought them hours of entertainment. Flipping through the Big Book of Toys at Christmas time and circling all the toys they wanted. Playing in the ride ons at the exit, putting coins in the tattoo and toy machines. It was a dream world for my children, like so many others.
And today we said goodbye. Goodbye forever. With two carts full and then some (Baby #4 not pictured.) Not just to a store, but to a lifetime of memories.
Brianna is a native Cape Codder and homeschooling mom of 4, a six year old girl, three year old boy, and twin 7 month old boys. She enjoys nature exploration, beach days, snowboarding, baking, fishing, travel, crafting, and writing, as well as geocaching, hiking, and picnicking with her children. She runs a blog and Facebook page called "The Mostly Crunchy Mama" and owns a children's consignment shop in Orleans called Little Codders. She enjoys staying up late long after the kids have gone to sleep to indulge in homemade desserts, to sew, write, coupon, and generally catch up on life without little hands needing help. An avid volunteer with 14 years of experience working with the American Cancer Society, as well as several other organizations, she has a background in business management but left behind her career after deciding self employment was a better fit for family life and a good work/life balance.
We recently heard about one of the Top Holiday Toys for 2017 called: Watch Ya' Mouth Throwdown Edition. It is a fun family game that is sure to make the whole family laugh. Watch Ya' Mouth Throwdown is the evolution of the original, wildly popular, hilarious Watch Ya' Mouth game. Rather than just speak phrases, players now go head-to-head with hilarious and challenging tasks - while wearing mouthpieces. Throwdown Edition takes competition - and laughter - to the next level and builds on the multigenerational gaming phenomena.
Throwdown Edition has already been Awarded Top Holiday Toy of 2017 by Toy Insider & selected for the 2017 Amazon Holiday Toy List.
Want a hilarious family game to play during the Holidays? Your search is over. 15% off Coupon Code: 15THROWDOWN and purchase it here! Our moms have been offered a chance to review the game so stay tuned for our personal thoughts and tips on how to play Check out how to play below and add it to your holiday shopping list because it will definitely keep the laughter going all day long plus help engage the family in quality together time! Enjoy and remember: Watch Ya' Mouth!
The KEENZ Stroller Wagon (7S)
The KEENZ Stroller Wagon (7S)
or There and Back Again:
Is the striking 7S the next must-have... or just another ephemeral piece of baby gear?
Find them at www.KEENZ.us
The Keenz 7S stroller wagon (“stragon?”) is not at all like the Radio Flyer that won’t fit in our car. Light and agile, it scrunches up into a surprisingly small fold and will then roll like a suitcase.
There is a stationary, optional canopy zippered with mesh. Both long sides of the canopy have full curtains rolled and concealed at the edge, which can be used for shade or privacy. The material is tough backpack-type polyester. Best of all, instead of serious shoulder pain after a few hours of hauling a wagon behind, the Keenz has an adjustable height handle at each end. Push down the streets, and pull through the beach sand. Oh, the physics of it all.
It’s a wagon – meant for young kids over 12 months… but in reality, used by everyone. With unofficial capacity to hold whatever one dares to pile in ( up to the 110 lb. weight limit) rather than two little seats that cannot easily be shared, there is room for creativity. Some parents use it for special needs children who don’t want the “baby stroller” stigma. Closely-monitored infants can nap and play in it like a mini Pack N Play. Parents fleeing Hurricane Irma said that their youngsters were happy to sleep in a familiar, happy spot while evacuated. Pet parents push their frosty faced canines who can no longer hike on their own.
It’s a stroller – JPMA certified and thus allowed on planes and in theme parks like Disney, with two 5-point harnesses. The impressive push is said to be comparable to a City Select. At $360 MSRP (but there are plenty of sales), this luxurious ride falls short of the investment required for many double strollers and most triples. It really does have a premium feel: from the embossed handle cover to the superb handling.
Ultimately, its value also lies in its versatility. Unlike the brightly-colored plastic baby gear in our attic, e.g. the jumperoo that was mission critical at 6-9 months and useless since, this stroller wagon will be seen hauling beach gear, sports gear, coolers, and lawn chairs for the forseeable future. Are you going to put beach chairs in a Double BOB five years from now? No. It will be taking up space in your garage or gone for a fraction of what you paid.
Anyway, Keenz very generously sent a 7S for review, and I gleefully and resolutely drove or dragged it through everything.... in the name of science! Fully loaded (seriously at the 110lb. max weight capacity), we glided over uneven sidewalks and popped up stairs. We wove through the skinny aisles in Eight Cousins book store, easily navigated the partially-obstructed walkways of Woods Hole, and managed all but the worst roots of Carvershire at King Richard's Faire. I am impressed.
Playground mulch and our crushed stone driveway would stump my umbrella-style Maclaren but posed no problem for the 7S stroller wagon.
At the beach, the Keenz 7S could certainly handle the three littles plus all gear safely through the parking lot. However, once securely in the sand, the twins got out and walked. There is a reason Keenz beach wheels (a separate purchase) exist: "the baby and the gear" was a more appropriate load in the soft, deep sand of Old Silver and Chappaquoit Beaches with these standard wheels. Fair enough.
The twins are huge for their age (3), and it is a bit of a squeeze to ride side by side (cozy" in real estate terms). When the pinching and fighting starts… it’s close quarters in that Keenz stroller wagon, just like any other stroller. (Graham crackers, toys, and board books usually keep the peace effectively.) It’s nice to know a Baby Jogger glider board can be attached in the future.
Green is the only light color, and it is probably a safer bet to get a darker one: gray, purple, black. My beige interior is holding up surprisingly well. I dumped out the wagon and used a couple baby wipes (which rival duct tape in versatility). Still, I cringe when the kids ask for juice… although polyester more famously shows grease spots. Ideally, this stragon will be rocking a liner soon.
Let me just say – it is cruel for most playgrounds to be completely without bathrooms, and many bathrooms without changing tables. I have changed a thrashing, angry, strong baby at the playground and beach in the bottom of the Keenz. No sand, no sticks, no pine needles... no prying eyes. It was everything I thought it could be. In addition, I have applied the brakes to all wheels, and the Keenz served as a toddler scaffold at the petting zoo.
Lastly, my Keenz 7S stroller wagon arrived with a malfunction by which a front wheel remained locked. It seriously impacted the handling but was easily "fixed" with tape. Keenz offered to send a new axle, two weeks later, or for me to return the 7S for a replacement. I was already in love and could not box up my new ride and say goodbye. Plus, I wanted to see what hassle a paying customer could potentially face. It was easy but still seemed noteworthy.
Hopefully, the possibility of this mechanical issue has since been fixed.
We boldly went where some double and all triple strollers never would have fit, on terrain where other strollers and wagons would falter, enjoyed adventures that would have been an epic fail... or a major inconvenience at the very least. The Keenz 7S is a sharp-looking and valuable asset to any family.
Lauren is a Mainer who moved to the Cape in 2003 with her husband. After starting in Research and Development for a biomedical manufacturer for five years, Lauren is living a very different adventure as a SAHM of four, including twins. It's a very busy mix of feeling grateful and overwhelmed.
Back at the beginning of October when I was trying to figure out what to surprise my 6 year old daughter with for her birthday, I looked at some of the holiday season’s “hot toy” lists. There I saw a Hatchimal for the first time. One of the descriptions described it as a Tamagotchi that was soft and could be held. Well I loved my Tamagotchi in the 90’s so I started to try and track down a Hatchimal. I found one off Jet.com with a discount coupon and ordered it but when it still had not arrived 2 days before my daughters birthday I started to look for another one. Luckily Toys R Us had one of the Owlicorns available for in-store pickup so even though it was not discounted and I had to drive to get it I got it (for $59.99 they were on sale at Target but were all sold out).
On my daughters birthday night, she opened and was very excited! The next day after school we sat together and started hatching the Owlicorn (there is a large direction manual). Basically the more attention (tapping and rubbing of the egg) you give it the faster the Hatchimal hatches. At first my six year old as very patient sitting there patting and tapping the egg but because her hands are small the Hatchimal kept going back to sleep so I helped some. Once it started pecking out of the egg it was exciting for a while but because (like a real chick hatching) it kept getting tired and stopping/sleeping we thought something was wrong with it and removed parts of the egg oops. The good news is there is a way to set the Hatchimal to its newborn stage if you do this. If we ever get another one we will be more patient. Once the Hatchimal hatched my daughter was very excited to nurture it and follow its cues (sounds and color lights all explained in the manual) by patting, rubbing, and tapping it to take care of it and it quickly grew into a toddler. For the next two days my daughter played with it a lot. In addition to needing to be cared for it can sing, dance, talk and play games. Since the first few days though she only days with it a little and it is still in its toddler stage. She says she still really likes it but the time she spends using it is limited especially for how expensive it is. Hatchimals are probably better for older kids who can read the manual and figure out what the Hatchimal “needs” themselves instead of needing an adult to read and try and figure it out with the child like I need to with my daughter.
Does your child want or have a Hatchimal what are your thoughts?
Usborne Books & More Independent Educational Consultant
I am always looking for people to join my Usborne team, host parties (Facebook or home), or just share these wonderful books! For more information visit my website or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Plus follow me on Instagram www.instagram.com/mollyhubnersusbornebooks/
Review of Pley Subscription Service
Review of Pley Subscription Service
Pley is a toy rental service that I got one free rental credit to try out. The cost ranges from $13-$30 a month depending on toy how many credits you want a month. There is a large selection of toys to rent from Legos to American Girl outfits to games and electronics. Going in I loved the idea of being able to get toys for my kids that would not become clutter later in my house.
When selecting the toy I would have chosen Legos or an American Girl outfit but I was concerned it might get mixed up with all the Legos or doll stuff we already have thus making my life more difficult. I ended up choosing Zuppies Spot which is a plastic dog who you can love, play with, and train because I thought my kids would have fun with it. I was excited when it arrived so I opened it while the kids were in bed to surprise them with in the morning. Well the kids never played with it because I could not get it to work properly or really do anything. After reading the direction a couple times and playing around with the dog I still could not get it to work so I gave up and emailed Pley. After two days Pley got back to me and asked if I had gone through the directions… at which point I said “yes and it still was not working and that I didn’t really want to spend more time on this toy could I return it?” Pley CS said sure return it but didn’t offer to send me a new toy or any other compensation even though the toy didn’t work. Maybe I just chose the wrong toy. According to the website if a piece is missing or broken they just send a new piece out.
I really wanted to like Pley. I think it is a great idea for Legos if your child just likes to build the set and plays some and then is done with it. And if after you rent a toy you just can’t give it up you can buy it at a reduced cost. Maybe I will try Pley again when my kids are older and can really care for the toys themselves.
Want to try Pley use this link then let us know what you think!
Usborne Books & More Independent Educational Consultant
I am always looking for people to join my Usborne team, host parties (Facebook or home), or just share these wonderful books! For more information visit my website or contact me at email@example.com. Plus follow me on Instagram www.instagram.com/mollyhubnersusbornebooks/
It's that time of year again! The famous Cotuit Craftfest is this weekend!!! I am so excited I can't stand it!!! Anyone who knows me knows why this is my favorite Crafty weekend of all......... the TOYMAN will be there!!!! I save my change all year long just for this specific weekend (Read on to find out mroe about this local legend!)
Beginning in 1970, and now celebrating their 42nd year, the Cotuit Arts and Crafts Festival will feature more than 125 outstanding artisans and craftsmen. They will gather this weekend from 104pm on both days, to offer their latest creations to those who venture to the quaint, seaside village of Cotuit knowing they will view some of the finest traditional and contemporary crafts of the entire region. Not only will there be amazing crafts, but local music will pepper the soundscape for both days! Food will be offered by the local church, kids activities will take place under the kid tent with the playground on site to entertain the famly.
Below are my TOP Exhibitors who are a MUST to visit and why.....
1.) Lester Ruth The Toymaker (Booth 51) = He is the real deal folks! If you haven't read my previous tribute to this amazing craftr then read it now Tribute of Toymaker Lester Ruth This man is no joke, a modern day Santa if you will. American made wooden toys for children and adults! You can't go wrong with any purchase made here. He stands by his products 100% lifetime guarantee! And the kids LOVE LOVE LOVE his toys!!! These are toys that can be heirlooms and handed down! I cannot say enough great things about this legend, he is just AMAZING!!!!
2.) Mattapoisett Bird Works (Booth 72) = Michael McCarthy hand carves/whittles every single one of these birds. They are absolutely exquisitely done and his attention to detail is superior! I enjoy visiting his booth every year and watch in awe as he carves right in front of spectators and shoppers. I am most excited to bring Ethan to this booth because I know how excited birds make him. Plus I know how he is fascinated in watching creation processes.
3.) Lori Devlin Author of Cape Cod Critters (Booth 84) = Lori will be there signing her book Cape Cod Critters, a fabulous book for kids about the unique wildlife inhabitants of Cape Cod. A fun and playful read, kids love this book!!!
4.) Sweet Baby Georgia (Booth 85) = And when your done getting your book signed, pop in next door to see Abigail, owner of Sweet Baby Georgia who creates adorable handmade hair accessories for babies and girls. She is a fellow Cape Cod Mommy as well and I always enjoy supporting our local moms!!!!
5.) Summer House Natural Soaps (Booth 104) = Natural soaps and body care products, all handcrafted in their workshop in Barnstable Village. I am a huge fan of soaps especially naturally made ones. I love checking out this eco friendly businesses' products and sampling the fragrances! With soaps for even the most sensitive to soaps for furry friends, they cover it all. My personal faves from here are: Bath sea salts, the oatmeal milk bath for sensitive skin (works for babies/adults with excema), and the lip balm - the cranberry oil, cocoa butter and other ingredients will definitely help sooth dry lips this season!
These are just some of my favorites to see this yea. There are over a 100 more crafters who will be there this weekend though! Will you be attending this year? Who are you MOST excited to see?
Educational and Crafty Toys
I love finding new and exciting places to shop for my kids. I'm sort of a crazy organic mommy always in search of safe, non-toxic toys for my kids. Since I'm obsessed with handmade items on etsy.com, I thought I'd give their toy section a browse. This may or may not have been a good idea! I literally could spend hours going through each page and liking all of the great products! If you haven't been of etsy.com before, you're welcome:)
Here are a few my favorite toys I've found so far.......
HEART Sorting Game, Waldorf Toy Counting and Color Learning Set
About the product:Rainbow colored heart sorting game for color and counting
learning made in the waldorf tradition. This set includes 12 LARGE size wooden hearts (2 in each color of the rainbow) and 6 rainbow hued wooden bowls all painted in AP certified non-toxic acrylic paint. This set is unfinished, but you may choose to have a light finish of shellac (a non-toxic all natural sealant made from the Lac Beetle and pure grain alcohol) or a rub of beeswax and olive oil.
Pretend Play with Owl Puppets
About Product: Set of 5 Owl Finger Puppets. I handcut each one from felt and machine sew them together for durability. They are decorated with felt pieces, wiggle eyes and nontoxic fabric paint. Each set comes with an original laminated rhyme for everyday use. The set also works well with many other rhymes and songs. Perfect for preschool, daycare or to give as a gift.
Wooden Stacking Blocks
About the product:This large hand-crafted wooden rainbow stacker is perfect
for your little ones to spend hours imagining with. One moment the rainbow can be made into a tunnel the next it is an arch. The possibilities are endless with this toy.Each of our Rainbow Stackers are uniquely handcrafted and are one of a kind.
Organic Numbers & Shapes BLOCK SET
About the product: LEARN TO COUNT!! A classic wooden number block set for
little ones of any age - handcrafted from gorgeous local or sustainably sourced
hardwoods, silky smooth, and full of natural color! This 10-piece set will grow
with your child - it works well for beginning to count, and as little one grows
it becomes a more challenging learning tool with geometric shapes.
Custom Sophie Scarf!
About the Product: Tired of your baby's toys flying out of the car seat/stroller/playpen?? How many teething giraffes have you bought?? I bring you the solution: the Sophie Scarf! Handmade with a lovely cotton blend, this toy tether will keep your little one's toys easily accessible. The crocheted scarf has several natural button holes - so just make sure the button is securely through one of them and off you go!
Attach the other end to your baby's hand, their stroller or car seat, even your diaper bag! No more worrying about the grossness that toy might be covered in after falling on the ground. No more lost toys!
Today I wanted to give tribute to a very talented toy maker:
I first heard of Lester Ruth in the fall of 2010, when my sister and girlfriend started talking about the toys they had seen at the Cotuit Craft Festival. They raved and raved about the toy they had just bought for our friends daughter.
The following year, my sister reminded me of the festival, so we packed up the car and headed on over. We talked excitedly about the toys as we drove. Upon arriving there were many vendors displaying some pretty amazing products; from hand carved wooden birds with exquisite details to homemade belt buckles and leather shoes. There were even some baby/toddler shoes for only $5! (I bought some of course). But I could not be swayed from finding this myth of a man whom everyone talked about.
We finally rounded the corner and found his display and I was instantly brought back to childhood!
The beautiful wooden toys gleamed on the table, aching to find a loving home with a family and a child who would love them as much as their maker had. There were trains that would delight any child, wooden boats with people that float, walking toys, dogs, dinosaurs, frogs, baby carriages and more. He even had wooden toys for adults! Old fashioned telephones, movie cameras, airplanes and cameras are sure to bring some nostalgia to many!
Lester didn’t disappoint either. He reminded me of slimmed down Santa Clause if you will. He had the snow white beard complete with the glasses, and a twinkle in his eyes. He picked up each toy lovingly and describes how he made it, what it is painted with, whether it has the ability to float, where the people can be moved to, etc. You could tell how extremely passionate he is about what he does and that is something rare to see.
Lester also gives a lifetime guarantee on his work:
“Since 1977, same terms:
Unconditional, unlimited guarantee of satisfaction. If you are ever dissatisfied with a toy you purchase from us, we will, at your sole discretion, give refund or exchange, make free repairs, always, postage paid both ways, collect calls accepted, personal checks are best, or money orders, we take visa, mc and amex. ….”
That’s pretty amazing! It is rare to find toys for our children these days that are American made with a lifetime guarantee, wooden, simple, and that our children will come back time and time and time again to play with.
We came away that day purchasing a 6 seater pull toy for my son while his Aunt bought him a wooden boat that could float in the tub. We knew at the time that these would be great birthday presents.
Since his birthday, my son remains obsessed daily with these two toys. He takes the wooden people out and puts them back, we talk about the colors of the people and I show him how they can slide through the boat. He chases after me as I pull the toy and then stands to mimic me and
tries to pull it along. We even brought it to our Mommy and Me Conditioning class and shared it with the other babies who also loved it! These are toys that will be well loved by our son and can be handed down from one generation to the next. They are well worth the investment to us.
So Mr. Lester Ruth, THANK YOU! Thank you for having the passion to create such simple yet wonderful toys!
Below I have put up a file of Lester Ruth’s order form and toys. He will also create custom pieces upon request. Happy Playing!
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