Toddler Toys

There is such thing as too many toys. As parents we want our kids to have it all.  But I’m sure we all also want our kids to grow into respectable people and not spoiled brats.  Appreciating and respecting what we have and how we get those things is integral to much of that development. I have no evidence to back up nor will I attempt.  I can only do my best to not spoil E. 

I try to carefully select what we purchase for E.  I want him to have variety, but I also want to nurture his interests and development. Here are my favorites and why I love them for our adventurous car loving toddler.

Kin smart Cars and trucks

So we found these by happen stance. We were in Hawaii. Which was amazing. I would move there in a heartbeat if the opportunity would arise. But back to the Kinsmart cars we found a little VW bus that had a surf board on top. Perfect souvenir for our car loving little man. We took it to the beach at the suggestion of a friend to take a picture of it in the sunset at the beach. Said photo didn’t happen. I guess we will have to go back to Hawaii. Anyways, another dad friend checked it out and declared it was the same brand car they buy for their girls from their local grocery, think Kroger or Dillon’s or Costco something in that family. Which made me look at our local grocery, to my luck they had them!  E was with me and mesmerized. I vetoed a couple of run of the mill models, kinda of a car snob. We made it home with a ’55 Chevy pickup and a Porsche. One other  reason I like these cars is that they meet a lot of Montessori criteria.  (Read more here). However, most important to me is that E loves them.


I love puzzles. Always have. My little guy is a fan too. Puzzles are great for children’s physical, emotional and cognitive development. ( E’s pretty good at them but gets bored with them easily. I have to be on top of rotating them in and out and making sure they’re challenging enough. Currently he’s beyond the skill level of all the puzzles we currently own. Here are a few I’ve been eyeing. His birthday IS coming up soon.

Tegu blocks

Maybe I’m slightly more obsessed with these than E is. He really really likes the wheels or rather taking apart the wheels. But these are sooo cool. I know he’s going to love them a lot as he ages and I do catch him playing with them. More often when the box with the diagrams is out. I need to copy and laminate them. Sooner than later.
We got this cute Magbot from our dear friends for his first birthday. I got him a little travel pouch for Christmas that I proceed to give him just before thanksgiving because, I’m that person. His cousin got him this car that he gets very excited about when we give him the wheels back! If he takes them apart they are a choking hazard. So we take them away when he doesn’t play with them properly.  For his next birthday I’d be surprised if we don’t get him another set. I’m between these three.

Shleich animals

E discovered these at no other place than the Discovery center! It feels like every time we have gone he grabs one up and carries it all around or sits down and plays with the barn/farm set. I found them our farm store, Orschlen’s. They were having a sale and I was able to pick up quite a few for only $2 a piece. They average around $6 which isn’t bad. It’s so easy to want all of them they have, but a itty bitty handful can add up fast. I’ve seen cute little Pinterest parties that use them as decor, some have spray painted them for bedroom decor. Although, I love how detailed they are so I don’t think I could ever do that! Unless of course they were on their last leg of paint. They too meet the Montessori criteria and many Montessori mommas use them in their lessons, maybe one day I’ll be as organized. E has been eyeing the dinosaurs, when we stop and look. We currently need a pig a duckling to complete a farm. Some kiddos have quite the collections. We will probably wait on building a collection until we know that E truly plays with them. 

Cute Safari Animals

Musical instruments

Music is important, not just to our family.  My hubs plays guitar and was in a few bands, as bands go. So we knew we’d want E to have instruments. He loved an old broken guitar to death, for serious. And is a little to rough on the hubs old keyboard and his grandmas already beaten piano. Pardon the cliché, music is universal I once watched a super cool video of a tribe with no known western connections (if I remember correctly – of course I can’t find it)  listen to western music as an experiment and they were able to understand the underlying emotion evoked by the music.  Here is a decent article I did find ‘Music Really Is the World’s Universal language’. So my point is, if you want them to not just listen to music. Introduce them to musical instruments give them that creative outlet. E has a little guitar he got from grandma M, for christmas this year. The hubs and I got him this little accordian from a local toy store.


Play-food encourages pretend play, and modeling.  I love watching E eat the food, feed it to his animals and sometimes me. Maybe one of these days he will cook.  It’s great to have a variety of different toys so E can explore different aspects of life.  I’ve noticed he plays with EVERY kitchen set he sees at playdates.
I’m considering the idea of getting him a play kitchen but I also don’t want him to have EVERYTHING.  I really don’t want it to take away so of the specialness of getting to play with one during visits.
We do have a little food set for him. Melissa & Doug make some of the cutest little kitchen sets. I like playfood sets that he can cut because it helps him with his slicing skills.

Activity Center

Kids need to move.  And if you want them to sleep you should encourage all the movement you can.  Having a little play-set, thank you momma H!, E can climb and get some of that toddler energy out! We keep ours in the house. Do I love all the space it takes up? No. Although, its great to have inside on those crappy days (like the day I started this post) when going outside isn’t exactly a practical option.  Plus watching him race his cars down it is super adorable since he figured that out all by himself.  We’d both thought about showing him, but at the time I was trying to encourage play without cars, or at least separate from cars.


Humans can be quite in love with themselves.  Its cute when its littles who like their own image.  Having a HEALTHY body image and self-love is HIGHLY advised.  We have a mirror by chance sitting on the floor of our playroom/office, we were about to purge it.  Since I’ve had more free time I’ve gone room by room and closet by closet and purged all the things I just didn’t have time to do before.  It started with toys after reading ‘The Montessori Purge‘ from the Kavanaugh Report, and just continued on into my whole life. We aren’t a full on Montessori family per se, but we do see the value in their ways.  I should not forget to mention it helps keep our house SO much more organized and clean!


Who didn’t love Legos as a kid? Lego just found away to get your little one addicted to them earlier!  No I really don’t think legos are trying to addict your child. The duplos are neat, double the size I’m guessing.  I hadn’t heard of them until my dad got E a set for for Christmas.  He likes his little fire truck.  I had the teenagers put it together at Christmas and they seemed to have way too much of a good time with it ;). I bought one other set of town trucks and he likes them too.  He enjoys mostly taking them apart at the moment but he’s playing with them!  I made a little “house” out of some of the parts and he enjoys putting cars or little parts though the window & door. I’m super tempted to buy a lot of them off of Facebook market place but I’m not sure we need 15 more sets.  Even if its only $50.

Here are some I think he’d like

Art Supplies

This is pretty self-explanatory so I’ll save you the reading.

  1. Crayons *
  2. Stickers *
  3. Play-doh *
  4. Watercolors  *
  5. Colored Pencils *
  6. Markers *

Well theres another list from me.  I hope you liked this one I try to pick out toys for E that will last more than just a few months as far as age range goes.  I want our toys to have lasting power. I also want our toys to last for another kid and be something that translates to another personality. So we really get our monies worth out of them!

Toddler Toys

14 Mostly kids movies for family night 

It’s the weekend! We love movies here in our house.  Besides Sunday after E goes to bed we really don’t watch TV anymore.  HBO is our guilty pleasure.  However Sunday’s are usually also our family movie night.  Yes we do watch movies during the week.  Especially during the day, because we just don’t really do TV.  And sometimes mama needs to shower, or clean house.  So bad mom here, lets the baby watch a movie. Anyways go ahead and judge all you want, but just don’t throw stones in glass houses.  Or however that saying goes.  Those of you non-judgers can read on for some suggestions or just to get to know our family by the type of movies we like.  Shoot you judgy ones can read to, some of these may make you like me even less.  xoxo Anna

Really any Kung Fu Panda movie is awesome. Although, I think 3 is the full favorite. I say that but yet I still choose to watch the original quite often. It’d be a toss up between one and three. One might win now that I think about how much E giggles at Po struggling to make it up the stairs.

Hands down 3 all the way. I don’t love how mean the bear is but I like that more than the creepy man stealing Woody and waayyy more than the torturous neighbor brat. I’ll say it, the original is my least favorite. 

Yes. It has a bad guy in it. It’s always the bad guys that I don’t like. Go figure. E thinks the tiny “baby” who toots his trunk is hysterical.  His sense of humor makes my heart so happy.

Love this movie. Love the singing. Love the adventure. E gets a kick out of me singing to this movie. It’s actually pretty cute and full of wonder, the movie not my singing. But we have to fast forward through the realm of monsters after she jumps. He likes that she jumps but that black thing ruined it the scene. He doesn’t like the crab being mean to Maui. Even though I kinda think the crab is funny. We also enjoyed the bonus features for this movie and we don’t watch most movies bonus features…so yeah we liked this movie

This is the first movie E ever giggled at. He giggles at the same part every time.  I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, We love Dragons. This just fueled the dragon loving fire at our house.

E’s first movie! He watched pretty much the whole movie in the first shot. This is a favorite of both the hubs and I. E loves it. LOVES IT.  I dare you not to at least like the Jungle Book. 

So the Bee movie took a few views for me to come around and actively like it. D loved Seinfeld so that explains this movie. I was fun that this movie made E want to look at insect books and we did check out quite of few bee books that he was super interested in after we watched this movie. It also has some sort of cult following status now too? What?! It’s pretty silly funny. Bees are important you know.

This one has a special place in my heart. One of the only kids movies I actively went out of my way to see as a child free adult.  Not much dialogue per se but yet still so much you can understand between the two main characters.

Gus Gus should I say more? Yeah this movie had a nice pretty girl and a Prince Charming. But, I love all animals. I know E does too.

Ugh I did not want to like this movie.  I repeat I did not want to like this movie.  E loves cars, really he loves anything that goes.  Maybe excluding planes?  I feel like we’ve watched this a zillion times. We’ve tried Cars 2 but E just didn’t like it as much even though he thinks Mater is hilarious.  He might like Mater as much as he likes Doc.  I love that he loves Doc.  We think we might take E to see Cars 3 in theatre, which would be his first theatre movie.  We’ve watched the trailer enough to know about the crash.  I’m sure they’ve done it tastefully.

I turned the TV on one day and this movie was just playing. I was about to turn the channel when I remembered it had “cars” in the movie so I left it.  It was the one kid movie Dane and I rented and watched while I was pregnant with E.  Maybe this is why he loves cars so much.  Anyways its pretty funny.  About a bad guy who so badly wants to be good.  It’s won my heart.

Yeah not exactly a kids movie.  Hubs apparently watched this with E quite a bit while I was working.  WHAT?  I would say its a kids movie if there wasn’t chicken killing and gun shooting in it.  But we’d already seen a few disney movies with guns and death in them so I figure the harm has already been done.  Plus he rarely makes it to see the end of this one.  I think that he likes that the animation is different. Of course he likes ALL the scenes with trains.  Which I think is only two but man does he zone in.

I was unsure about showing him this movie, because monsters.  It was given to us by a family member.  I think I viewed it before we showed it to him.  I do fast forward to the second scene.  I mistakenly just played it once and he did indeed get frightened.  The rest of the movie doesn’t have a lot of scaring.  There are a couple scenes that he doesn’t seem to put off by but I don’t know that I’m in love with him seeing. We also really like Monster’s University probably equally.

Old favorite.  Maybe I like the “little guy” too much. Old Disney is hard to beat and apparently so is new Disney.  E even went as Robin Hood for his first Halloween we love this movie so much.

We’ve tried a few other movies some were fine just not worth mentioning, because they didn’t capture the whole families attention or hearts.
We originally wanted to only do old Disney movies and go in sequence of release date. Several I would say are too scary or plain mean for his age. I know he’s not supposed to have had screen time to begin with but it was a battle I was already losing so I decided to at least control as much as I could what he was watching. Maybe one day we will watch them with him but for now these are the go to family movie night movies

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14 Mostly kids movies for family night 

Yard play day 

Little man and I played in the garden this morning. He was getting his new clothes dirty so I stripped him down to his diaper. We (he) made dirt angels and we (I) checked all my newly blooming flowers. 🌺 He’s only interested in my flowers when I’m not looking. He’s even more interested in getting filthy and hiding his chalk. It was a good day. Cars were raced, animals were transported, in said cars. Zootopia played.  Songs were sung. I’m so lucky that snuggling is one of his new favorite things. Mama needed a nap after all the go go go. Maybe tomorrow. 


Yard play day 

That’s MY Toothbrush 

I’m so so so happy you like to brush your teeth. You love to brush your teeth. I can’t make this up. We lucked out, I know. You loved watching me brush my teeth as a tiny baby. 

I know I started it. This thing that I now complain about. You were so curious about my tooth brush. So willing to let me brush your gums with my tooth brush. I figured it was good you were so willing to brush. 

You have 4 tooth brushes that I can think of. You’re favorite, is mine. It is not among those I count as yours. Because it’s not, it’s mine. If only you could use your own. I even tried switching our tooth brushes just to give you the color I mistakenly assumed you wanted. Your favorite color is which ever color I use. 

I’ve tried bright new fun colors. Giving you my “old one”. A lighting McQueen tooth brush that the two of us bought to make it more exciting and hopefully effective. You couldn’t care less about it. 

So my last resort is to get matching toothbrushes for you and I. I’ll try it all, just so you DON’T USE MY TOOTHBRUSH! 

That’s MY Toothbrush 

Baby & Toddler Book Suggestions

We have checked out many of these books. Many of them were suggestions from friends or family.  Some we found, some were gifts, many on this list are authors and illustrators we now love! Others are our own childhood favorites and old childhood books.  Look & read on for over 60 book suggestions and almost 20 different authors and/or series to choose from! Come back for more as I may update from time to time.  Also, check out more of our family favorites here. I hope you find some new books and probably some old books on this list that you will love as much as we do.

Our families two thumbs up books:

Little Books by Amy Kroger Rosenthal & illustrated by Jen Corace

We happened upon this series at the library I love the illustrations and the simplicity.  The humor is sweet, maybe a little corney but great visuals none the less.

Critter Books by Mercer Mayer

These books bring back book-it memories! I was shocked at how much E loves these. His favorite is Just For You, it makes my heart melt.

Mac Barnett

These books are probably more for the adults.  Not that they are adult humor, but maybe for those with humor that is a little more advanced? Either way they are cute books and both of them, although, separate illustrators have great visuals as well.

Renata Liwska

We LOVE books with Wagons in them.  I think these books are stink-in’ adorable.  I love her illustrations too.  Can you tell we are a lot about the visuals in this house? They are fun reads with sweet messages too!

Janell Cannon

I had not heard of Stellaluna until this year.  Such a beautiful story, I can’t thank my friend Kennedy enough for suggesting this one.  I liked it so much I checked out Verdi too.  I liked Verdi but E man wasn’t into reading much that week, will try again.  They have Pinduli but I haven’t read it yet.  If you need a book that teaches a kid about learning who THEY are these might be some books to get!

Elephant & Piggie by Mo Willems

These are cute books. We Love, I Will take a Nap.  Thank you Brooke, my pre-school teaching, sister-in-law.  Check out all the awards! Great for beginning readers!

Bear on Chairs Books by Shirley Parenteau

Sweet books.  I have a small inside joke about Bears on Chairs.  Maybe that will be a post for another day.  I saw Bears on Chairs in the library and I did indeed HAVE to check the publishing date. It was well before my inside joke, but it would have been awesome if I had inspired a book! That is probably why I like these books.  E likes books with bears.  Win-win in our house.  These are a few she has written. They have nice messages about sharing, caring and being kind.

Gosling Books (& others) by Oliver Dunrea

We received Gossie as a baby shower gift. When I was having a baseball themed b-day party for E’s first birthday, I wanted to give him some baseball books as gifts and double as decor.  I found Peedie, its more just about him wearing a baseball cap, cute still.  Gossie started me reading books in accents.  This series I read in mostly a British accent  (That’s about the only one I have). Also, this series made me fall in love with illustrators.  He also has a few bear books as well.  I figured you might get tired if I keep plugging all the bear books. Although, we really like them in this house.


Bear Books by Karma Wilson & Jane Chapman


How Do Dinosaurs… by Jane Yolen & Mark Teague

My cousin Meg suggested these.  I like them. They have great illustrations of all kinds of dinosaurs! So if you have a dinosaur or dragon lover like E, these may be good ones for your little reader.

Tatyana Feeney

Okay this is a hubs love.  He likes this illustrator.  Small Elephants Bathtime is my favorite,  Little Frog’s Tadpole Trouble is good for a soon to be big brother or sister.  If we had read the title I’m sure we would have known, before we read it.  I guess we were rushing that day.  I’m not sure I loved Little Owl’s Orange Scarf but it started the series and we read the other two!

Little Blue Truck books by Alice Schertle

Truck lovers get your series here.  These are also great for learning animal sounds! The Halloween one is a lift the flap book, probably my favorite of these two that I have read.  Although, the first is great for learning about the importance of being nice and helping.

Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen

I read a mini-adventure of this series and just wasn’t sold.  Although, people rave about the Pout Pout Fish books and after reading this one I get it.  It’s cute and fun to read out loud.  Hard not getting into it while reading this, which I’m sure your kids would just love too.

Llama Llama books by Anna Dewdney

Love. Fun to read, rhythm and rhyme. Llama Llama Sand and Sun is short but is a touch and feel book. E sometimes goes in spurts of reading 6+ books a day to not wanting to read for a couple days.  Having a book like this or a lift the flap, and sometimes just an old favorite we haven’t read in a while, can get us back on track.

Pigeon Books by Mo Willems

These are popular.  The Duckling get a Cookie is probably my favorite of them that we have read.  I’m not sure I love all the squawking/yelling but, I think its because I’m not good at reading this series out-loud.  Good reads, with an endearing little anxious Pigeon.

Sandra Boynton

Books for littles! Great little board books.  Short and sweet.

Eric Carle

Don’t forget about the oldies.  We love Pandas specifically at our house.  So that is why I included this book on here.  It’s pretty much the same as Brown Bear but with endangered animals instead.

Pete theCat by James Dean

Suggested by my cousin V! Who’s neighbor or friends kids loved them.  And now my friend K’s little guy loves them, after I tipped her off to them.  I know the Pete the Cat series started off with one author and is now written by the original illustrator.  Some people I know, have more love for the old ones but I don’t think I’ve read one from the original series.  We’ve read these two and a couple others.  E loved Go, Pete, Go because it has wheels.  I loved Rock on Mom and Dad because after we read it he went to his guitar. Swoon.

Curious George by Margret & H.A. Rey’s

I sure hope nobody dislikes George.  E loves things that go and some how also seems to like George.  I can usually capture his attention with a Curious George book especially if it involves something he already has an affinity for, like wheels.  But sometimes I can also sneak in another subject like sharing or thanking or listening if I show him a Curious George.

Walter the Farting Dog by William Kotzwinkle and Glenn Murray

I laughed out loud reading this book. I know, its bathroom humor. But, I thought this book was hilarious! I’m sure you’ve met a “Walter” before in your life and can feel for this poor family and their plight. Thank you for the laughs Uncle J.


Check Back for more.  I’m sure I will think of too many that I have left out. Night.

If you’re checking this out because you read one of my other blog posts about baby items and haven’t created a baby registry I completely recommend you put some books on your registry! It may spark the idea that guests get you a book instead of a card as it did some of mine! We were gifted many of our family members cherished books.  Create your amazon registry here.

Baby & Toddler Book Suggestions

Please use your spoon

Dear lord please use your spoon.

You know how to use it. You are actually quite good at using your spoon. This phase of not wanting to use a spoon has me oscillating between amusement and frustration minute by minute.

I see your excitement as the gooey yogurt squishes between your fingers and the how funny you think it is to lick them clean. The delight you get from ripping your pb sandwich apart just to play with the sticky peanut butter.  Brings me joy and high blood pressure.

Sweet boy. I’ll let you do it for now. Because you’re learning. I’m learning too. Learning you may always be my baby but you won’t always be little. So for now, be that little boy who gets to play with his food. But seriously DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING.

Please use your spoon

Baby E’s Nursery

**This is a slightly updated old post from a super old blog I moved over to this more mommy ish blog I’ve started** Only a couple links are affiliated the rest are for your shopping pleasure and ease.

Well, we had a little boy.  I truly was worried about having a girl or girls until I found out I was pregnant.  I was convinced it was going to be a girl, or girls since multiples run in my family.  I know anyone can just say that but, I’m talking identical, fraternal and even the extremely rare identical triplets.  I may have been hoping a tiny bit for multiples.  I was thinking along the lines of a one and done pregnancy.  I was floored when I we had the sonogram at 20 weeks. There was no question he as to whether he was a boy or not.  Let’s just say I doubt I’m gonna have a shy one on my hands.  She in fact didn’t even have to tell me it was a boy I was already wide eyed realizing what I was seeing.  She announced, “well there’s your money shot.”

It was so neat to see him movin’ and groovin’.  I had read before my appt. to drink lots of water for a better picture.  That may have been old advice, but I think it worked and maybe even woke him up.  He was wide awake.  Covering his face as she tried to get a picture.  Tilting his head back and kicking like crazy.  It could have been the water or maybe the peanut butter toast and OJ.  Or just maybe it could have been the starburst…I only had a few! Either way it was worth it.  Here are the pictures of my little guy!

Face & Hands  Movin'

The grandparents came up and helped us paint his room.  I did my best to make descions and include Dane in on the design process.  My fondness for antiques and his for modern don’t always mesh.  I’m not big on themes or baby decor.  I want to do something that can grow our child.  Dane and I decided on the color and many of the decorations well before we knew the gender, although we still have some furniture pieces to pick out.  Here is the design plan I created and for the most part went with.

Inspire Baby


1. Solar system mobile

2. My mom and I made these inspired by a pinterest project you can follow the links here: Alphabet

3. Babyletto Crib -the one linked here is similar the one we have is no longer available

4. Floral Medallion Rug

5. Geometric Throw

6. Robin Hood Watercolor Print

7. Peter Pan Watercolor Print

8. Golden Yellow Fitted Crib Sheet

9. Orange Tile Fitted Crib Sheet

10. Raindrops Fitted Crib Sheet

11. Windham 4-Shelf Bookcase

12. Gold/Yellow Mirror, I have this for years and couldn’t tell you where it came from but I found one similar here:

Versailles Gold Framed Mirror

13. Globe

14. Yellow Pillow

15. Blue Pillow

We ended up with everything on this except the two pillows and the raindrop fitted sheet.  I found two different pillows in target that they physically had in the store that I loved just as much as these two above.

 If you’re just in the planning phase good luck and have fun!

Register for that new baby on amazon here!

Baby E’s Nursery