Excuse me, can you spare a pencil?

d6ee1e0e-72b2-4683-a2cd-68ecaef60020
Share

Six Chicagoland area low-income schools need our help to get their kids off to a good academic start this fall. Building Blocks Toy Store, along with other businesses, is partnering with Families Helping Families of Chicagoland (FHFC) to collect essential school supplies for them. 

school supplies drive

We need new (not used):

  • Writing Tools: pencils, pens, colored pencils, markers, crayons, dry erase markers, highlighters, erasers, pencil sharpeners
  • Supplies: scissors, glue, glue sticks, calculators, rulers, notebooks, notebook paper, folders
  • Backpacks
  • Any school supplies in general!

Please consider purchasing a few extra things as you shop for back-to-school supplies for your own family.

 

From now until August 15th, bring your donation to any collection site listed here:

Building Blocks Toy Store

2130 W Division Street, 773-235-1888

3306 N Lincoln Ave, 773-525-6200

Purple Monkey Playroom

2040 N Western Ave, 773-772-8411

Snippets Mini-Cuts

2154 N Clybourn Ave, 773-755-1000

3724 N Southport Ave, 773-327-6000

Diversey Health Center

2626 N Halsted St, 773-472-7484

Little Threads

2033 W Roscoe St, 773-327-9310

Lively Athletics

109 N Park Ave, Oak Park, 708-358-0605

My Gym

1461 W Webster Ave, 773-975-9600

7625 W. Lake Street, River Forest, 708-209-1600

The Children’s Gift Shop

310 Happ Road, Northfield, 847-441-5975

Beanstalk Toyland & Bookstore

654 Central Ave, Highland Park, 847-432-8300

 

Thank you for your generosity and support!

Toyshopkeeper Katherine

 

 

 

“I’m a bad mommy”

linh and kat holding hands

This past weekend my daughter was role playing with her brother. She was the mommy and he was the child. He pretended to need all sorts of things like milk, a burp, cuddling, and all the sweet things a child needs from his mother. As they played I could overhear my daughter say “oh, well then I’m a bad mommy”. My heart stopped and I felt a twinge of achiness. After hearing several variations of the phrase: “I’m a bad mom”, I couldn’t concentrate on my work any longer and asked her about it. Her non-answer was typical of 4 year old child, but I pressed on, asking in different ways where she got that idea.

“Well, Marie (not her real name) says it all the time when we play at school”.

Moms everywhere, I have a challenge and a personal request for you. This is for the sake of all our children, particularly our daughters. This is for the sake of moms everywhere. This is for your sake. Please stop saying to yourself, your community, and your children: “I’m a bad mother”. I take this pledge as well, with you, to never say it again.

kat and tai 2011

Every day I am moved and inspired by my customers, most of whom are moms. The stories they share about what they are up to for their families, their kids  are AMAZING. One mom told me during her holiday shopping at Building Blocks that she takes down her tree on Dec 26 because her son’s birthday is on the 28th and she wants him to feel special for those days and not be overshadowed by the holiday. Another moms drives her 3 kids to 3 different schools, every day, so they may get the best schooling for their needs. I could cry many joyous tears while I share endless stories like this. The things a mother would do for her child and show her love is limitless.

You, mom reader, are a miracle worker. You are a healer. You are a warm blanket. You are magician. You are everything beautiful to your children. Every day is Mother’s Day and Father’s Day to children who have loving parents in their lives. You are chiseling away at that gift when you speak such damaging words that have no basis on reality. To make mistakes or falter is to show our kids what it means to be human and to forgive oneself.

You, mom reader, are a good mother.

Love,

Toyshopkeeper Katherine

 

Their belongings are not trash

bags for kids

Bags for Kids

The Association House of Chicago supports hundreds of underserved family and kids through the child welfare, foster care, family programs, etc. Recently, it has come to our attention that when kids are removed from their homes and placed in foster care, they gather their possessions to transport them in a garbage bag. Let’s make this difficult situation a little more dignified for these children.

We will collect and deliver to Association House your used or new:

backpacks

messenger bags

suitcases

laundry bags

travel bags

large tote bags

Drop off locations thru 1/31:

Building Blocks Toy Store

2130 W Division St, 773-235-1888

3306 N Lincoln Ave, 773-525-6200

Noteworthy Notes

3629 N Halsted St, 773-661-1333

5231 S Harper Ave, 312-608-5120

KH Photography

1001 W Webster Ave

Call ahead: 773-697-4903

Sweet Sensations Pastry

1918 W Montrose Ave, 773-275-0697

Sod Room Playspace

1454 S Michigan Ave 2nd fl, 312-922-3131

Snippet’s Mini Cuts

2154 N Clybourn Ave, 773-755-1000

3724 N Southport Ave, 773-327-6000

Purple Monkey Playroom

2040 N Western Ave, 773-772-8411

TK Photography

4353 N Western Ave

Call ahead: 847-386-1223

K Grace Childcare

2135 W Belmont Ave, 773-649-9149

The Growling Rabbit

6981 N Sheridan, 773-654-1444

Flirty Cupcakes

1030 W Taylor St, 312-852-4441

4631 N Lincoln Ave, 312-852-4441

Posture Perfect Pilates

1247 S Wabash Ave, 312-676-2981

Chicago Blue Dolphins

2222 N Elston Ave, 773-342-7250

Gather

602 Davis St, Evanston, 847-859-2312

MOORE Toys & Gadgets

107 W Front St, Wheaton, 630-480-4285

The Children’s Gift Shop

310 Happ Road, Northfield, 847-441-5975

 

Thank you for your generosity & support friends!

Toyshopkeeper Katherine

My favorite holiday of the year….

pmp halloween party

You may think that it would be Christmas but it is not. Sure, I love presents but when you everyone dresses up and it’s a world of imagination, real-life characters, and CANDY–nothing beats Halloween on my calendar countdown!

By the time you read this post, we will likely be booked full for our Shopkins Halloween Party. Or maybe you are like me and you want to go to all the festivities :)

One party we look forward to every year is Purple Monkey Playroom’s “Not-At-All-Spooky Halloween Party”. My son is definitely partied out in this picture from a previous one we attended:

pmp halloween party mchenry

I highly recommend this option for a fun way to celebrate Halloween because:

*indoor climate & crowd control

*safe play for young kids, less parental anxiety

*LOVE The Storybook Mom

*every kid loves facepainting

*pizza & treats included (dinner and desert!)

*great way to include grandparents/family

pmp halloween 3  pmp halloween 2

Normally, tickets for a family of 4 are $40, however, since I am promoting this to my readership, we got hooked up with 30% off!!!! Building Blocks friends pay only $28 for a family 4-pack ($5 for each additional person).

Buy your tickets here and use code: BBTOYS

Enter to WIN a family 4-pack to the party HERE. If you win and you already bought tickets, you will be awarded a 3-visit pass. Cool right??

My daughter and I are planning to attend  the party on the 29th. I hope we will see some friends there :)

Trick-or-treat!

Toyshopkeeper Katherine

A magical world comes to life with ‘lil Fairy Doors

little fairy door

When a customer came to my shop a while ago and told me she had purchased a ‘lil Fairy Door from Australia, but it wouldn’t come in time for her niece’s birthday, this intrigued me. What is this must-have gift for a 9 year-old child that was worthy of the international journey??

lil Fairy Mailbox - Red_2 'lil Fairy Footprints  'lil Pixie Door_2

‘Lil Fairy Doors are tiny doors that, once they are attached, allow children to have visits from little fairies into their bedrooms at night…..this toy opens up a whole world of imaginative play!

Sally Copus, founder of ‘lil Fairy Door, tells us in a cute,  short video why these doors & accessories are an international success.

I’m so excited to open up this world of fairy stories for little children!

I predict these will be a huge hit for holidays. To ensure that your loved one will be receiving this magical gift, fill out this contact form and you will be among the first to be notified when they arrive. Or, if you would rather pre-purchase them go here: Fairy Doors, Pixie Doors, Mushrooms, Fairy Mailboxes, Fairy Tea Set, Fairy Letters, Fairy Footprint Stencils, Fairy Dust–oooh so fun!! We are currently waiting for the container of Fairy Magic to clear U.S. customers. I am hoping they will be here by end of  November–crossing fairy fingers!

Finally, I would like add that I would have LOVED this as a kid. My fairy would be named Lady Queenie and she would magically make all the imagined snakes under my bunk bed disappear at night. She would leave me my favorite candy treats, miniature Reese’s peanut butter cups. She would also leave me notes of how much she loved my penmanship.

What is the name of your fairy and what wishes would she grant you?

With a sprinkle of magic & fairy dust,

Toyshopkeeper Katherine

Calling all builders! BRICK FEST LIVE Chicago

lego edison

What: Brick Fest Live Chicago, Lego Fan Experience

Who: Kids of all ages, and their super awesome parents

Where: Donald E Stephens Convention Center, 9291 Bryn Mawr Ave, Rosemont IL 60018

Why: Because building with blocks/Legos helps your child develop:

*motor skills

*hand-eye coordination

*spacial skills

*divergent/creative thinking

*social & language skills

AND IT WILL BE SUPER DUPER FUN!!

TIPS: 1. kids under 2 attend for FREE. 2. there’s a Groupon for that. 3. wear comfortable shoes & a colorful outfit for pictures 4. make an agreement with your kid prior to attending if you do not want to shop the pop-up Lego store. 5. ENJOY!

GIVEAWAY: Enter here to win a family 4-pack of tickets. Enter by Sunday 9/27/15.

lego edison 2 lego duplo baby lego catbirdbaby

lego ivy  lego nora walsh kerr

lego amanda simkin  lego mia  lego masterbuilder

Thank you to my Chicago Moms in Business friends for these pictures: ChicagoKids.com, CatBird Baby, Easy Tax Appeals, Eva Ho Photography, Queen of the Land of Twigs ‘N Berries

Everything is awesome!

toyshopkeeper

Color the Garden

secret garden with markers lined

Many of you have asked me what supplies you need for your coloring books. I’m so glad you asked me because I’ve been having so much fun researching and experimenting. I’m so excited to share my findings.I looked into many brands and tested a lot of different options. I also factored in pricing for my recommendations. We do not need to be stressing over breaking bank in order to have fun and relax! My research is based on the book I am currently coloring, Secret Garden.

In order to color in very fine details like this page, I recommend Steadtler Fineliner Markers (10 pc pack or 20 pc pack)

secret coloring book page

I prefer markers over pencils for the instant gratification of beautiful colors appearing without much effort. Plus, there’s the scratching sound when you use markers that I LOVE. I also mentioned how addicted to the meditative sound I am in my recent blog post about how relaxing and fun coloring is. Be careful to check the paper thickness of your particular coloring book’s pages before using markers. I find that your household Sharpie-type permanent markers have too much dye in them and will not work in general. Most markers that we have at home have tips that are also too big.

This page was colored using 1mm fine tip markers and watercolor pencils:

secret garden page 2

 My type are favorite are Steadtler fiber tip 20 or Carioca 36 fine tip Markers

Every colorist should have color pencils to shade, blend, or fill in bigger coloring sections. Watercolor pencils seem to require the least effort with the richest colors.

Here’s a page that has mostly Staedtler watercolor pencils which I prefer:

secret garden page 3

But the regular Staedtler color pencils pack comes in 48 colors!

So I have both sets in my supplies pouch :)

secret garden page 4

Finally, don’t forget to have fun with glitter markers, metallic brush tip markers, neon and gel pens (coming soon to the web site. available in our shops).

Here’s a peek at how fun glitter & metallic can make your garden:

metallic flower glitter flower secret garden page 6

I hope you share in comments about your coloring adventures.

Happy coloring!

Katherine

Summer Carnival at Building Blocks

SUMMER CARNIVAL EVA WITH BALLOONS

The Building Blocks team and I had been tirelessly preparing for “Summer Carnival” for the past 2 months. At 6am Carnival day,  it was raining nonstop but I was still hopeful. The rain came down even harder while we were setting up at 8am. Even under our tents, the sidewalk was accumulating water. Then I started to become unsure whether a small portion of the 180+ families who had registered would even come to play. Luckily, as if someone pushed the big red button, the rain stopped exactly at 10am–at carnival time! It was very rewarding to see smiles everywhere and hear parents say “thank you for this. We love having you in the neighborhood”.

summer carnival

Can’t have a carnival without a prize wheel

SUMMER CARNIVAL PRIZE WHEEL

or entertainment by Musical Magic

or cool games like Archery with Two Bros Bows

TWO BROS BOWS SUMMER CARNIVAL

Everyone loves pampering, by Noktivo Non-Toxic Spa & Beauty Boutique

SUMMER CARNIVAL MANICURES

and hair braiding (& cool punk hair spray), by Rock Candy Salon & Spa

SUMMER CARNIVAL HAIR BRAIDING

Sticky Mosaics were a big hit

SUMMER CARNIVAL BOY WITH STICKY MOSAICS   SUMMER CARNIVAL STICKY MOSAICS

and so were balloons!

SUMMER CARNIVAL EVA WITH BALLOONS   summer carnival dad with baby balloon

Thank you to everyone who came to play with us! Shall we host this event again? Any suggestions on how to make Summer Carnival more fun? Please post in comments.

Until our next playdate,

Katherine-toyshopkeeper

Green is the new black!

green toys sports boat

To say that I love everything about Green Toys doesn’t closely express how truly passionate I am about these products. Every parent wants these for their kids and kids prefer these awesome toys. Let me tell you why:

PARENTS:

-so durable, not even a sumo wrestler can break them (ok, maybe a sumo wrestler)

-made in the USA out of 100% recycled milk jugs. Even the packaging is minimal and 100% receycled materials. Can we ask for any purchase for our that makes us feel that much better about being a do-gooder for our planet and our country??

-super safe & nontoxic. When they get dirty, just put it in the dishwasher. I like the top rack.

green toys construction truck

KIDS:

-are you sick of your parents telling you that you can’t bring a toy to the bath? Tell them Green Toys are waterproof and even more fun with water!

-do you like to play at the beach or in a sandbox? Who doesn’t?? All the Green Toys are easily washable from dirt and sand!

-these toys are fun! Get lost in your own world with a submarine, rocket ship, helicopter, tea set, tractor, tugboat, watering can, tool set and many more cool toys to choose from!

I love offering Green Toys at Building Blocks Toy Store and my kids have been enjoying them for years. My son’s favorite toy for 2 the past years is his Green Toys Seaplane and and my daughter’s favorite is the Fire Truck. Dump Truck is the earned the title of “Mayor” of our sandbox.

I’M GIVING AWAY A TREASURE BOX FULL OF MY FAVORITE GREEN TOYS TO A LUCKY WINNER!!! ***

1 Ferry Boat with 2 Cars

1 set of Building Blocks

1 3-part Train with 2 cute figures

1 Airplane

1 Recycling Truck

My kids approve of my selection…

green toys tai linh chest

ENTER FOR A CHANCE TO WIN HERE

Entries through 8/31/15

Forever Green,

toyshopkeeper

 

 

A “Secret” Meditation

secret garden 2

Everyone know that mom = tight schedule, distractions, stress, little “me” time, and always questionable kid-stuff on your hair or clothes. I’m proudly part this  mom-sanity-seeking populous bunch of women, enjoying motherhood and surviving it at the same time. For years now, I have found easy-to-access “me” time involves a late night generous glass of my favorite wine (Cass Cabernet)and working on a 1000-pc Ravensburger puzzle.

Here are some of my recent completions:

puzzle 1000 landscape 

  puzzle 1000 candy with wine

Recently, a friend sent me this link from The New York Times

I immediately wanted to try my artistic hand as revealing beautiful garden pictures full of trees, leaves, flowers and birds. I ordered a small quantity for the toy shop, because many of my customers, mostly moms, are parched for ways to unwind.

I was immediately hooked as soon as the coloring books arrived. I love everything – the beautiful illustrations, bringing flowers and butterflies to colorful life, and the sound of the marker scratching on the parchment in the silent night, while my family is sleeping. Coloring is my new meditative state.

Listen to that sound:

I’m no Liudmila Kondakova, but I am quite proud of my artistic work. My kids ask almost daily if I have completed something new. Here are a couple of completed pages from my personal copy of The Secret Garden.

secret garden 1  secret garden 2

The moms in my community have reaffirmed my presumption that moms NEED this. Building Blocks has gone from ordering 30 books to hundreds, including new titles Enchanted Forest and Ocean Life (fall).

I have also been obsessing over the craft supplies that are perfect for these books. For advanced colorists I recommend Staedtler fineliner and fibertip markers–Johanna Basford uses these! We import from Italy the Carioca brand or art supplies. I recommend those for all levels of artistic coloring from beginners to advanced. The fine nib markers come in 36 colors that produce bold colors but have a watercolor effect. They are also superwashable with just water so if you have little ones around you don’t have to worry if they get into the markers (nontoxid too, of course). The brilliant color pencils are very smooth to use and the colors are vibrant. We offer all these fun supplies at Building Blocks. We also have a selection of metallic pencils and markers, brush-tip (also my favorite!) markers, glitter markers, watercolor pencils, and many other supplies that I love to have for variety and added fun during color time.

9/2 update. Here are my recommendations for art supplies.

Have you tried this new form of relaxing? How do you de-stress?

Share with me in comments.

Peace-out :)

toyshopkeeper

1 2