Toying With The Imagination

If you’ve known me for any period of time, you’d know that if there were two things I loved as a kid, they were toys and cartoons. And not just on their own. Together. If I was watching my favorite show when I was a kid, chances are I was sitting on the floor playing along with the toys. It’s just what I did.

What?! No, I don’t do that now… Ok, FINE, I still do it, but not all the time, ok?! Lay off me, you guys. I’m still a kid at heart. Or am I just immature? I hear both things about myself all the time, so neither is surprising. Anyway, where was I? Oh right: toys and TV. Most times, my play would continue long after the episode had ended. Ya know, like any normal kid. I’d make up my own story lines and keep that little party going. And, that is something I’ve tried to instill in the girls. Why? Because it’s awesome, that’s why!

They’ve taken hold of that idea and really run wild. Like SERIOUSLY wild. Half the time, I have no idea what they’re even talking about. Sophia’s busy saying “sweetie” over and over, while Maddie sits there mimicking her and laughing up a storm. It really doesn’t matter that the show they were watching has been over for two hours. If they’re into it, they just keep.on.playing.

That’s one of the reasons I was super-excited to partner with Hasbro for this really cool Yo-kai Watch campaign. Not only did they send us this big ol’ box of toys from their Yo-kai Watch line, BUT, they also sent us the first four episodes of the show to watch. They literally joined together two of our favorite activities in one neat (ok REALLY messy) package. I figured the girls would love it. Umm, duh, of course they did!

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Toys everywhere.

So, we did what any sane parent would do. We had a small, informal viewing party consisting of the girls and me. I’ll be honest with you: I had never heard of Yo-kai Watch before. What is it? Good question! The story centers around a young boy, Nate, who finds a special watch that allows him to find and summon some mysterious–and funny–Yo-kai. They help him solve problems–which are usually the fault of those other trouble-making Yo-kai.

Sophia laughed so much while watching the episodes. Also, she laughed hysterically while pulling toy-after-toy out of the box and immediately ripping open the packaging.

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Their favorite toys–for both of them–was the actual watch that comes up with a character medal that can be slotted inside the watch. Press the button and the watch plays the character’s name and tribe song. What’s pretty cool about the medals, is that there are a lot of them. LIKE A LOT. And, there is a Medallium Collection Book, too, so the kids–or you, I’m not judging–can keep the medals all in one place. Ya know, to keep your house clean.

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What was fun about watching the episodes and playing with the toy line is that the girls went absolutely nuts. They didn’t even know what the show or toys were, and there they were yelling “kai Watch!!!” Because, I guess yelling “Yo-kai Watch!!” was too much?

They played with the watches, running around like crazy people, changing medals, pretending that their were some trouble-making Yo-kai hanging ’round the house–and even gave them weird names. I don’t know, man, kids do weird things with their imaginations. And that’s kind of the point, right? Toys and cartoons do that. I want the girls to be creative and imaginative. And if they don’t like a story line, make up their own. It’s one of the best parts about being a kid. Play on, little ladies, play on.

If you want to check out the first episode, watch this video.

If you–or your kids I guess–want to check out the series, it airs on Disney X D on Mondays at 5pm Eastern.

Yo-kai Watch World

Youtube- Yo-kai Watch Official Channel

Facebook- Yo-kai Official Facebook Page

Twitter- Yo-kai Watch News

Hasbro Twitter

I was compensated both financially and in product by Hasbro for the #YokaiWatch campaign. All opinions mentioned above and below are 100% my own.

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There Goes My Hero–No, MINE!

Stop me if you’ve seen or heard this scene unfold:

*Toys strewn about on the floor. Your kids playing quietly next to each other. Then it happens. They both reach FOR THE SAME TOY*

“No, that is MINE. It’s for BIG kids, like me. You can’t play with it!”

*Insert crying kid here*

Sound familiar? Of course it does. Aside from the fact that IT IS MY LIFE right now. Ok, it’s my life all the time. It also WAS my life growing up. What, that’s impossible, you say. Nick, I’m sure you and your siblings got along famously and shared toys like little angels… To which I reply: Have you met the Browne siblings??? Perhaps you haven’t. But, many times, it was like Mad Max in our basement. You give me that toy RIGHT NOW OR ELSE. Tiny kid rumbles ensue. Really pleasant memories here, you guys.

Need more examples? Of course you do. I don’t recall the year. But, I was a kid. It was Christmas Day. In our family, for a long time, we didn’t unwrap presents. They were laid out in individual piles, unwrapped. So, as soon as we would come down the stairs and turn towards the living room, we would see just what presents we had received. One year, a toy that I REALLY wanted and asked for specifically was in my brother’s pile of gifts. And I threw a fit. Why? Because it was on my list. Duh.

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It was MY toy. I asked for it. I wanted it. It should have been for me, right? Talk about ungrateful… I deserved a worse punishment than I received. That’s the honest to goodness truth. I shouldn’t have thrown a fit, I knew eventually my brother would share with me. And he did. Like, that day. Lesson learned (for a day).

Fast-forward to today where I’m the parent. Sophia and Maddie are at the ages where they both like the same toys, but Maddie isn’t quite up-to-speed with how to handle all the toys that Sophia plays with. But, she still wants to play with them anyway. So, they fight over them. Tears. Screams. SO MANY TEARS.

Honestly, as a way to remedy this, we have been looking for toys they can both play with. Together. Let them team up sometimes. You know how in the Marvel Avengers movies, they bring the characters together to fight as a team, but then they spin off into their own independent franchises, as well? That’s what we’re looking for here. Play with each other some of the time. Other times, be the hero on your own. Makes sense, right? Well I thought so…

And, something that can give Maddie the experience of playing with toys that may not be in her age-range but she can still get enjoyment out of. Plus, if we get them the same toys, that kinda sorta maybe saves us some money. So, that’s a win, too, right? Right.

Quite honestly, that is one of the reasons that we loved the PLAYSKOOL HEROES product line. For Sophia, it lets her play with toys that are meant for her age, while also letting her play with some characters that she’s just starting to understand. Like Iron Man and Transformers Rescue Bots. Plus, who doesn’t love the Tyrannosaurus Rex from Jurassic World?

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For Maddie, who has no idea who these characters are, it just gives her the chance to scream “RAWRRRRR!!!” and have the T-Rex eat Iron man because, well, reasons.  It’s just good fun for both of them.

Check out more on the totally and awesomely fun line below.

Marvel Super Here Adventures Iron Man Armor Fortress Playset

Geared for kids ages 3-7, this set lets kids unleash their inner-Tony Stark. They can re-enact favorite movie scenes or create their own!

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Transformers Rescue Bots High Tide Playset

Geared towards kids ages 3-7, this set was inspired by the hit animated TV series TRANSFORMERS RESCUE BOTS. This set is definitely more than meets the eye.

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Jurassic World Tyrannosaurus Rex

Geared towards kids ages 3 and up, the Jurassic World playset lets little hands get a handle on big-kid toys. Complete with a T-Rex that growls and gobbles with sweet light-up eyes and head-chomping action, kids can unleash their inner beast.

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For even more #PlayskoolHeroes action, follow Hasbro on all of their social channels:

Instagram: @Hasbro

Twitter: @HasbroNews

Facebook: Facebook.com/Playskool

*Thanks to Playskool Heroes, who compensated me for this post, for letting me re-live some traumatic toy-related memories*

No Toy Left Behind

notoyleftHow’s that saying go? All’s fair in love and toys? No, that’s not how it goes? Well, it should be how it goes. At least for kids. How many times have your kids insisted on leaving the house with toys in tow? A lot? A LOT?? I can’t tell you how many times we’re leaving to go somewhere and Sophia insists on grabbing this toy or that. Many times, it’s when we’re heading out in the morning to go to daycare.

We tell her that she can bring them in the car, but not into school, because we don’t want her to lose them or forget them. Toys are expensive, man! That changes on Fridays, though. Friday is “Sharing Day” at daycare. Meaning, all the kids can bring in a toy or two to share with their friends. It’s cool, it’s sweet, it helps teach them to share–hence the name. Continue reading

What’s in the Box?? Enough With Un-Boxing Videos

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Have you ever thought to yourself “Gee, I really wish I could see what this toy looks like. Unpacked. Put together. And played with… BEFORE I buy it”? No, you haven’t? Okay, good, then I’m not alone. Because normal people either look at the box and see ‘oh, that’s how they look assembled’, or buy them and put them together themselves. Why do I ask? Oh, I don’t know, maybe because the trend of MEGA-POPULAR unboxing videos on YouTube is driving me insane.

But. Nick, you say, you don’t have to watch them. No, no I do not. But you know who loves them? A certain four-year old child of mine. Honestly. I have no idea how she discovered them. Somehow she went from watching Peppa Pig episodes on YouTube to watching some floating pair of hands with intricately-painted nails assembling Peppa Pig toys.

Oh, so you know about the floating pair of hands behind the Disney Collector channel? You know the one, that was the highest grossing channel on YouTube last year. Somehow, every video of these folks unboxing, assembling, and playing with toys garners millions of views. Probably from kids on an iPad clicking next after every single video they watch. I guess, then, I’m part of the problem. I can’t fault them for what they do, though. More power to them for finding something that works and making money. I wish I could do that. This is the channel where the most popular videos seem to live.

Aside from the fact that these videos suck the kids in–because, what kid doesn’t wanna see cool toys being played with–it shows the kids even more toys they’re gonna want for themselves. Granted, it’s up to us as parents to control what our kids watch on our devices. But, still I don’t understand how this trend came to be. Who thought up the idea? It just seems like such an odd thing to decide to do.

Is it just me? Is it just Sophia that finds these videos so amazing that she wants to watch them all the time? When she asks me if she can watch Peppa Pig, I know damn well that she wants to watch those floating hands put together the LEGO hospital again. Not an actual episode of Peppa Pig. What’s next? Watching someone walk into the store, pick up the box, and then pay for it? I guess we’ll call those videos “Pay-to-Play”. Make it stop, you guys. MAKE.IT.STOP.

Product Review: VTech Toys

IMG_5563Recently, VTech sent me a box full o’ toys for Sophia and Maddie to play with. And, honestly, who doesn’t love coming home to a box full of toys on the front porch? First, let me say that the girls loved playing with them. They aren’t difficult to entertain, but they were really eager to break all four of these toys out of their boxes and get down to the business at hand–playing.

While Sophia is just out of the age-range for each of these toys, she didn’t care. She wanted to play with them–and did play with them–just as much as Maddie did.

So without further ado, I bring you a review of each of the four toys that VTech sent my way.

Continue reading

Just Between You and Me: #JBFPhilly Sales Are a Parent Must

The JBF Philly sale at the Greater Reading Expo Center

The JBF Philly sale at the Greater Reading Expo Center.

When it comes to buying clothes, toys, supplies, etc. for your kids, frankly the prices can get out of hand. When it comes to clothes, generally speaking your kids will grow out of them so quickly that you rarely really get your moneys worth with them. Then, what do you once they outgrow those clothes? Donate them? Give them to a friend? Luckily, you have another option when it comes to getting all things kids related. The Just Between Friends Children’s and Maternity Consignment Sales Events! Continue reading