The Toys

Our basement scares me. I hate going down there and I am sort of happy that Cortney has pretty much taken over laundry duties while I’m pregnant.

It’s not that it’s spooky–at least not in the traditional sense. There aren’t weird shadows or strange nooks and crannies. It’s a finished basement: Eddie’s bedroom, a full bathroom, and a large family room.  The laundry room isn’t finished, but that is probably the least scary room down there.

No, it’s not because I feel like there is someone hiding under my stairs or ghosts lurking in shadows.

It’s the toys.

Oh my word, the toys.

We have almost six years of birthdays and Christmases and random “just because” gifts of toys in our basement. One time I organized it all. I bought a 9-bin tote shelf thing with 3 different color totes. I put plastic drawers in. I sorted the kitchen stuff from the trains from the Little People from the matchbox cars from the pirate stuff from ALL THE TINY THINGS people give out at birthday parties. I parked trucks under the train table. I set up the easel with all the fun magnets and paper and dry erase markers. I put all the puzzles together. I lined up all the DVDs and Wii Games. Shoot, I even dusted.

And now?  It’s like I was never there.

Cortney can’t even get to the ironing board to iron his long-sleeved shirts.

The room gives me hives.

And yet I love when my kids get new toys. They really do play with most things (which is why the room is a disaster zone), and getting something new is so special to them because it really only happens for Christmas and birthdays with the occasional blog-related-try-it-out toy sent our way.

One of my favorite online stores to shop for toys for my kids and for my nieces and nephews is Imagine Toys. They are local to me (Michigan, baby!), they are focused on thoughtful/educational toys, and toys can be searched by age/skill of the child you are shopping for.

Tomorrow night (Wednesday, November 12), I will be hosting a twitter chat on the hashtag #ImagineToys discussing their toy line, their partnership with KaBoom! (which I blogged about this summer), and what to get the kids for the holidays.  There will be four prizes and one BIG GRAND prize handed out to some lucky participants, so you don’t want to miss it!

What could you win just in time for the holidays?  Feast your eyes…

1. The Electronic Cash Register (this is totally on Eddie’s Christmas list!)

Electronic Cash Register

2. The Wobble Deck Extreme (I wish I could fit on this thing)

Wobble Deck Extreme

3. Nancy B’s Moonscope (another thing Eddie put on his Christmas List)

Nancy B Moonscope with tripod and multiple lenses

4. Step-to-Play Giant Piano Mat (Charlie would DIE for this!)

Step-to-Play Piano Mat

And the GRAND Prize: One GLX yGlider!

I told you. SERIOUSLY cool prizes…just for showing up to talk to me about toys and shopping and kids, five of you could end your Wednesday with something sweet to gift a child this holiday season!

The details:

Twitter party at 9pm est on Wednesday, Novemeber 12. Follow the hashtag #ImagineToys as well as @ImagineToys and @ksluiter to make sure you don’t miss a thing! See you there!

Now excuse me, I have a basement to organize!

*************

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. I just really want to make sure people know about the twitter party because PRIZES!  I am being compensated for the twitter chat, however, with a gift card to Imagine so I can get some fun toys for all the kiddos I have to buy for this holiday season!

Imagine the Possibilities

One of Eddie’s favorite birthday gifts was a “sidewalk art” themed gift from his aunt MacKenzie and uncle Dave. It included sidewalk chalk, sidewalk paint, and sidewalk tattoos. There are two reasons he loves this gift: 1) it was artsy and he loves all things arts and crafts and 2) it was an outdoor activity.

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If it’s possible, Charlie likes outdoor play even more than Eddie does. As soon as he gets up in the morning he asks if we can go “houtside”. And once he’s “houtside”, just try to get him to come in.  Seriously.

"Charlie, it's time to come in." "no."

“Charlie, it’s time to come in.”
“no.”

It’s good though, this love of play–and outdoor play, specifically. My kids are getting fresh air, exercise, and a stretch of their imaginations. They run and laugh and make believe.

This is probably why partnering with Imagine Toys was so natural for me. All of their toys promote interactive family play and big imaginations! Their Kaboom! Collection is cool because it promotes outdoor play as well. Plus 8% of each Kaboom! toy sale goes to bringing outdoor play to the lives of all American children.

Imagine is also a small, women-run business and local to me here in Michigan (Battle Creek to be exact).  It’s like we were made to go together. Like peas and carrots.

Part of my working with them means that they are sending me to BlogHer in San Jose, California in a week and a half (I’ll be the hottie with the Imagine Toys gear on).

While I’m there I’ll be armed with some goodies for bloggers who are seriously interested in working with Imagine Toys. Have I piqued your interest? Want to know more?

GOOD!

Tuesday, July 15, I will be hosting a twitter party talking all about Imagine Toys, Kaboom, and how to get involved. I also get to giveaway FIVE sweet prizes:

 

I KNOW you want to join me, yes?

So mark your calendar for Tuesday, July 15th at 8pm EST and follow me (@ksluiter), Imagine Toys (@imaginetoys), and the #ImagineToys hashtag.  We will have a fun discussion about playing and toys and you can learn more about being an Imagine Toys Blogger…and maybe win something!

See you there!

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I was not compensated for writing this post nor will I be compensated for the twitter party. Imagine Toys is sending me to BlogHer as a brand ambassador. US bloggers only are eligible for prizes and blogging partnerships. 

Go Out & Play!

If you follow me on Instagram, you know my kids love to play outside. Even if it means wearing winter coats during spring break.

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As soon as the snow was gone, they were chomping at the bit to get outdoors and run free, and I was not about to hold them back! We had a long winter with frigid temperatures and tons of snow. That meant lots of screen time and cabin fever, so when the wind shifted and our noses smelled the first hint of spring thaw? WE GOT OUT!

Because outdoor play is a staple in our summer schedule, I was beyond excited when I learned about Kaboom!, a national non-profit that is dedicated to ensuring that all children get the active play they need to grow up healthy.

Kaboom! currently has a Go Out and Play Collection available that is an assortment of active play products. Our favorite is the Backpack which is actually the center of the collection. It includes a Frisbee, two jump ropes, 2 boxes of sidewalk chalk, a rubber playground ball, and a book–by the same name–with tons of great outdoor games.

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We have both the purple AND the orange back pack because each boy needed one, of course. They are nice a big and super durable. In fact, Eddie has given his a few test runs to school.

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The playground gear gets a decent work out around here too. Both boys are crazy about the balls. In fact, Eddie claimed he had “amazing bouncing skills” last week.

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He totally does.

I love Kaboom! and their vision for getting kids up from their sedentary lifestyle to a more physically active and FUN life.  Active play can help kids develop motor skills, coordination, and increase cognitive capacity. Active kids tend to do better in school and are better problem-solvers.

As a mom and an educator, that is important to me.

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Now that the days are longer, we are outside for HOURS if the weather allows.

The best part for them is the fun and healthy aspects, but the best part for me is how fast they fall asleep at night.

Summer is rad, yo.

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Another amazing thing about Kaboom!? Along with Imagine Toys, they are sending me to BlogHer ’14 in San Jose next month as an Ambassador for their products and message about active, healthy play.  In the coming weeks I’ll tell you more about ways you can get involved with Kaboom! and spreading their message of getting outside and PLAYING!

In the meantime, go out & play!!

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own. Kaboom! sent us backpacks full of goodies so we could try them out, but I was under no contract to talk about them here. I just believe in the toys and the positive message for kids.

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