Saturday, January 26, 2008

Moveable art

Since we recently finished an addition to our house, we have a lot of blank walls. I got inspired, and ordered a magnetic spiral puzzle with a magnet board. Now we have a unique, constantly changing work of art.

My suggestion is to hang it so that it's easy to remove from the wall so you can work on it at the table. We didn't do this, but I'll ask my husband to remedy that sometime soon.

I got my puzzle through a co-op, but it's available at Nova Natural. Google "spiral magnet puzzle" to find other retailers. The small, wooden pieces are definitely too little (and enticing) for the under-three set.

Monday, January 21, 2008


As an adult, you're probably asking, what is a Bilibo, and what the heck would you do with this thing? Have no fear -- your kids will know what to do!

Watch the movie here if you're still not convinced.

Available from many online retailers, including Fat Brain Toys.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A most excellent stroller

The Phil and Ted's E3 is a single jogging-type stroller, but you can hook a second seat on. The maneuverability is unbelievable; there's never a worry about whether you'll fit through the door. The combined weight limit for the two seats is 88 lbs., but luckily the air-filled rubber tires make pushing fairly effortless.

The downsides: price (although I imagine the resale value is pretty good), lack of storage space (we sprung for the panniers, which you can see in the photo), and the possibility that the kid in the back will want to touch the spinning tires of death. People often comment that Beatrix, seated in the back, can't see anything, but she has plenty to see out the sides. At any rate, she's never complained!

In addition, if your kids are really close in age, I probably wouldn't recommend the E3. I'd check out the Mountain Buggy Urban Double, or something similar. The beauty of the E3 for us is that it's a great single, with the capacity to be a pretty amazing double.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Lucky grandparents!

About six weeks ago, I began the search for something my four-year-old could make for his grandparents for Christmas. Keep in mind, he's not an artistic kid. I've tried dot paint, glitter glue, scissors, stickers, 18 kinds of crayons -- he'd rather run, as he explained to me.

Last year he painted coffee mugs at one of those paint-it-yourself pottery places. Granted, the total time spent painting was about 3-1/2 minutes, but they turned out great and hit my two major criteria: He was involved in making them, and they're useful.

On one of the photo sites, I saw notepads made out of a photo, and then, my inspiration struck. Ronan wrote "Mimi," "Papa," and "Nonna" with different colored markers (he does like writing, so this was acceptable to him). Then I had Beatrix scribble. My fabulous husband scanned in their work, and pasted it into a VistaPrint template in Photoshop. Two weeks later, we had gifts!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

An all-purpose essential

Before Christmas, I was lucky enough to get into a toy co-op that included a gorgeous German brand: Grimm's Spiel and Holz. I think my favorite item so far is the beautiful wooden nesting boxes. They're big, and they just have so many possibilities: little houses, garages, towers, pots for cooking.

S&H puzzles are also drool-worthy. Not all of their items are readily available in the U.S., unfortunately, but Three Sisters Toys carries some (check the Stacking & Nesting and Games & Puzzles links for the selection).

Saturday, January 5, 2008

A box of books

This box of miniature board books makes a great baby shower gift. They are perfectly sized for little hands, and I'm partial to the illustration style.

My daughter often brings them to me to read. While my son isn't much of a reader, he has used them for a variety of stacking and sorting games.

The "X" installment includes "xenops," which is apparently a kind of bird. Huh.

This set is published by Chronicle and available on Amazon.

Friday, January 4, 2008


I assume that many of you out there are anti-video games. This post is not for you. Given that my husband worked for a video game company, I never had any illusions that I would be shielding my children from them. Up until now, I've been pretty hands-off about it; Ronan and JP play Nintendo 64 games on the weekends, whatever.

Then, in September, my husband mentioned that there was a Wii available online and we should get it for Christmas. I thought he was crazy, but agreed.

Whoah. This is seriously fun. Who knew that I would really enjoy a game called Excite Truck? And it's perfect for Ronan, because not only do you get to pick your truck color (black, of course) but you get to finish the race, even if you're in last place.

JP and I are already uber-competitive about Wii Tennis. Uh-oh.

And in case you're wondering, we restrict video games to when Daddy is home, which seems to be working pretty well so far.

Note: The image comes from the Creative Commons pool at Flickr. Click the photo to be taken to the photographer's photostream.