by Sally J Shim
For the past two years my family and I have been living overseas in Busan, South Korea. Since my children attend an international school they have friends from all over the world. One of the fun things about having an international group of friends is learning about the various holidays and traditions they observe. Most people are aware of the popular American holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, but what about Kite Flying Day? Kite Flying Day is February 8! I just learned about it this year and I think it is a fun excuse to gather friends, go outside, and fly a kite! Here is a fun invitation you can make for your Kite Flying Day festivities.
Click through for instructions…
I get a lot of emails about our toy collection and I figured it was time for a post since it is almost Christmas. I love kids toys. Buying them is one of my favorite perks of being a parent. My boys are growing up and now requesting not-as-cute toys (ahem, Angry Birds) but they still play with the toys we’ve collected over the years and I’m really happy with our strategy for buying toys. Our philosophy was to invest in quality collections that are well-made, beautiful, and clever. In addition I make sure that we store our toys low to the ground and in clear storage bins so the kids can access them. There have been a few that I loved that they just didn’t play with. We gifted them to friends who use them all the time so I think it definitely depends on the child and their interests. I should also point out that I don’t for a second believe a kid will be better off with these toys than the kid who is playing with kitchen bowls and cardboard boxes. I just happen to have a weird amount of knowledge about these toys and wanted to share our favorites. Here is a giant round up of all our favorite toys (I’ve starred our absolute favorites.)
Vintage Robots | This goes under the category of “adults like them as much as the kids.” When I have to travel for work I usually pick one up to add to the collection instead of buying a throwaway toy at the airport. They aren’t great for little kids because they can break, now that they are older they play with them more. Before we kept them on a high shelf and would pull them down on special occasions. | Vintage Robots |
Schleich Animal Figurines | These are really well made animal figurines that are great for collections. We’ve slowly amassed a nice set of them over the years and the kids really love them. It’s great to add one to the collection (or use as a bribe) when you are shopping with the kids at Target. We have a set of dinosaurs and animals. | Animals | Dinosaurs | (animal photo found here)
Planes Trains and Automobiles | We got the little wooden cars years ago and they are still going strong. They are really fast little toys and one of my favorites. The fire engine we got in France and I think it is the perfect “classic” firetruck. The helicopter, plane, and rocket are a French brand they have started carrying in the US the last year or two. They are magnetic and super clever little toys, highly recommend them! | Wooden Parking Garage | Wooden Cars | Wooden Firetruck | Train Set | Magnetic Helicopter | Magnetic Airplane | Magnetic Rocket|
Dress-Ups and Disguises We have a collection of masks and capes and wigs in a big closet. I like the Melissa and Doug Dress-ups, decent quality for the price. We always keep wigs around and the animal masks we got in France but they sell some online. | Animal Masks | Super Hero | Glasses and Wiggling Moustache | Cowboy Hat | Pink Wig | Yellow Wig | White Wig | Brown Wig | Fireman Costume | Pirate Costume | Doctor Costume|
Art and Coloring Supplies | I still love the Ikea Art Easel and we’ve become huge fans of these coloring books since a friend gave us one for a birthday last year. We discovered this German chalk a few years ago and it’s the only kind I buy. The colors are amazing compared to the pastel colors we are used to. The Kid Made Modern brand is so great. My personal favorite are the watercolors. | German Chalk | Kid Made Modern Watercolor | Best Coloring Books Ever | Ikea Easel | Cray-Pas Oil Pastel Set|
Puzzles | I always make sure every toy has a place so this puzzle rack is a must-have. There are so many good puzzles out there these days. | KID O Shades Puzzle | Giraffe Puzzle | Alphabet Puzzle | Green + Blue Puzzle | Magnetic Letter Board | Cats Puzzle| Puzzle Rack
What am I missing? Do you have favorites that aren’t included here? We’ve never had board games (because of lack of space) but now I’m now the hunt for a great board game collection. Any suggestions?
That’s about it for now, there are a couple more categories I wanted to cover like stuffies and big toys but I ran out of juice. I will add them tomorrow!
Make Thanksgiving dinner fun for the kids this year with bright, colorful decorations. Keep them entertained with their own turkey (or chicken) to “carve”, and paper feathers they can decorate and hang before the meal begins!
Today, I’m really excited to announce my partnership with in Too Small To Fail – a joint initiative between The Clinton Foundation and Next Generation. Their goal is to improve the development of kids in America (you can read all about it here.) Research shows that over 80% of a child’s brain develops before they turn 3 – so it’s important for parents and communities to spend quality time interacting with kids in positive ways. I’ve caught myself sounding like a dork talking to my toddlers because it looks like I’m talking to myself “this is our favorite park and wow! look at that big tree.” But the research shows that talking with your kids and giving them that eye to eye contact is what really helps them develop. I have been wanting to create some habits to make sure I spend more time with my kiddos so I’m setting a few goals on Go Mighty over the next few months. I’ll be sharing my experiences there. I’d love to hear if you have any tips on what kind of activities have helped you spend quality time with the kids in your life. (ie: Volunteer at their preschool, go to the park everyday, read together everyday, play games together, etc) I’d love any ideas.
Photo via my Instagram
A few weeks ago we attended Crafting Community at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs. It is hard for me to explain how special this event was. After two days of crafting, swimming, and playing, my kids were asking to never leave. The Ace Hotel is great for kids, but the Crafting Community team took it to a whole new level. Every detail of the weekend was executed beautifully, so that we didn’t have to worry about anything except for having more fun. From sunscreen and kids toiletries in our hotel rooms to healthy snacks for the kids nonstop throughout the day, these guys thought of everything. When we first arrived the boys discovered hundreds and hundreds of little Matchbox cars on the sidewalk. They had drawn a giant city out of chalk for the kids to race the cars on. It was little kid heaven! They also had hula hoops and colorful bouncy balls everywhere.
The crafting sessions were the focus of the event and they did not disappoint. The craft room was filled with so many beautiful, colorful supplies. So much thought and work went into each table, it was really impressive. Each project was led by awesome designers like Confetti System, Clare Vivier, and Kid Made Modern. At one point Moses was making a wallet out of duct tape and I realized the guy helping him was the designer Todd Oldham! After crafting we would head over to the pool for a bit and then eat before we would start all over again.
One special element of the event is that it really feels like a community. Each family’s photo is printed in the year book with their names and their family “theme song.” Since the event is over a few days we had a chance to have encounters with several new families and ended up making new friends. I can’t think of a vacation environment that fosters that kind of experience the same way. In the evenings there were lots of activities like Bingo, gourmet ice cream sandwiches, photobooths, button making, nightime movies in the pool, and a desert disco (a giant dance party!) The caliber of the activities and the quality and detail that went into everything was over the top. For example at the dance they played everyone’s family theme songs!
The icing on the cake was the canvas gift totes they gave us when we arrived. This bag didn’t have one thing that wasn’t beautiful or useful. Seriously, I am really picky about what I bring home since my apartment is so small and I brought back everything. Some of the items included: custom coloring and activity book, lots of art supplies from the Kid Made Modern line at Target, a pair of Converse (in each child’s size that they could custom color!), some Naef wooden blocks, a Target gift card, and snacks from Whole Foods.
The whole weekend I kept looking around and thinking, “Yes! Finally someone got it right!” Paul and I kept comparing the trip to a weekend at Disneyland and this was a million times better for parents and kids. We all made new friends, the kids were entertained, delighted and given a chance to do creative activities. The food was excellent, if anyone ever needed a nap we were 2 minutes from our hotel room. And on top of that we all had fun. I cannot vouch for this event enough. In fact I’m already planning on going back next year.
This post is sponsored by Crafting Community: creating immersive design experiences where families can play, grow and be together. But they didn’t ask me to vouch for it. Seriously, it was awesome.
Photos by Paul Ferney