Building Moments: the Best Baby Toys for Development

tesco stuffed animal

When you’re expecting a baby, you want the best items for your child. You want to give them the most intellectually stimulating toys so that they have the best start in life, as well as equipment that can cope with their energy, and accessories that can keep them safe.

What toys are the best for your baby’s brain? There are lots of suggestions online but here’s just a selection of the classics.


When your baby is really young, give them an unbreakable mirror so that he or she can learn more about their surroundings. Babies at this age don’t know they’re looking at their own reflection. You’ll be entertained by their antics as they learn about the world!


This classic toy is a classic for a reason: your child will be honing their motor skills while eventually graduating into problem solving and simple math. At first, a toddler will pile them up and learn about weight, gravity and balance. The next stage is stacking and lining up, beginning to produce patterns and maybe even learning about fractions a little. Then building structures and experimenting with symmetry follows.


When your child is very young, it’s important to give them toys that will stimulate all her senses. The rattle is an excellent choice: your baby will very quickly understand that the sounds being made are being produced by the rattle, and what shaking produces which different sounds.

Soft books

Even before your child can understand stories, you can play with a soft book: the sound of your voice is soothing, and the turning of the pages is a nice addition which your child will continue to associate with a peaceful and comforting time.

Stuffed animals

These toys play a huge role in the development of your child’s imagination. The games children play are preparation for the adult roles of their future, and help them understand the way the world works. Pretend play allows children to explore their feelings about real life while retaining control of imaginary situations. This is a hugely important part of growing up.

Children have amazing imaginations. You’ll find that your kids can make toys out of anything from an empty cardboard box to a blanket and an upturned table. But the classic toys are classics for a reason: they work!

(In partnership with Tesco. Picture from Tesco website)

Book Review: Wherever the River Runs: How a Forgotten People Renewed My Hope in the Gospel

wherever the river runs

Recently, I was sent a copy of Wherever the River Runs: How a Forgotten People Renewed My Hope in the Gospel by Kelly Minter, an acclaimed author, Bible teacher and musician.

In this book, you are whisked away from the hectic pace of America consumerism and the distractions of modern communique and into the world of the Amazon where simplicity brings clarity and modern conveniences are replaced with ancient traditions and inventive solutions to everyday life.

The simple healing truth of Christ is a balm to believers in this jungle (literally) who fight for the basic essentials of life. The experience of coming into this foreign existence is a refreshing reminder to Kelly to step back and absorb God’s truth which she shares with the reader as she walks us through her journey with brilliant descriptions of what she experienced and saw along the way blended with a touch of enjoyable self-effacing transparent humor that had you laughing out loud between moments of thought-provoking, reflective pauses.

While Kelly was probably fearing for her life, I enjoyed reading the vignette where she prayed lightning wouldn’t strike as sun-kissed Brazilians are baptized by Kelly’s father  in the Solimoes during one of the daily downpours. What a rich moment to truly experience a symbolic washing away of sins and yet, Kelly’s touch of humor bring a lightness and joy to the moment as she recounts her fears about the lightning and says “The whole point was to keep it in the likeness of” Jesus’s death rather than having people actually die from electric shock.

That blend of personal fears and hopes expressed by Kelly interwoven in techni-color through a voyage into a world so completely foreign to most of us made the reading easy, quick-paced and inspirational. I look forward to reading more work by Kelly Minter.

About the book: 

In Wherever the River Runs, Kelly Minter invites us on a jungle adventure down a river teeming with piranhas, caymans, a beautiful people, and, especially, God’s presence. Her honest and engaging narrative pulls back the curtain on one of the most captivating places on earth as well as on parts of the gospel we may be able to recite but have never fully believed.
For anyone feeling complacent in their American Christianity, Kelly’s story of the forgotten people of the Amazon and how they transformed her understanding of the gospel, is sure to inspire.

Smokey Bear Twitter Party Today at 2 PM EST #SmokeyBDay

After 70 years, Smokey Bear continues to share the message: “Only YOU can prevent forest fires.” Did you know that 9 out of 10 forest fires are started by humans? Thanks to Smokey and his familiar phrase, we have reduced the number of acres lost to wildfires from 22 millions to today’s yearly average of 6.5 million. That is amazing.


Help us celebrate Smokey Bear, a classic figure in American culture and key messenger for fire safety. First, sign Smokey’s birthday card! It would mean the world to him!

Another way is to get your kids familiar with Smokey. Teach them his ABC’s: Always Be Careful with fire!  He also offers great resources and activities for children:

Lastly, join Smokey for a Twitter Chat today, Wednesday August 6, from 2pm-3pm EST. Follow @smokey_bear with hashtag #SmokeyBDay. Come chat about your outdoor activities this summer and how you are helping keep our great outdoors safe for everyone!

You can connect with Smokey on  FacebookYouTube, Instagram, and Twitter.

Still Recovering from #EAEvents Social Suite launching at Blogger Bash 2014

ea eventsThis last week was exhausting and fun as I joined the team of Element Associates in creating the Blogger Bash Social Suite during the two-day Blogger Bash event in NYC this last week. I think I can finally feel my feet!

We had so many amazing sponsors that you see listed below but it was also really great to reconnect with so many bloggers who I “meet” online through blogger outreach and sponsored posts. It is truly rich to meet people in person and get to know them one-on-one.

Check out some of the fun pictures and information about the sponsors who joined us below.


Bloggers attending were the first to see the new Miii jewelry collection by Joseph Nogucci. Miii bracelets are crafted from semiprecious stone beads and gleaming rhodium-plated magnets  designed to bring all of your bracelets together in a perfect arm stack. Like individual charms on a bracelet, each Miii commemorates a specific milestone or memory.

joseph nogucci mii


#EAEvents focused on social good also.  Smokey Bear, who celebrates his 70th Birthday in 2014, posed for photos and shared birthday cake with bloggers. Nine out of ten wildfires are started by humans, and Smokey Bear still plays a key role in educating the public that “Only YOU can prevent wildfires.”  You can help wish Smokey a Happy Birthday by signing his online card:

Smokey Bear


COVERGIRL provided beauty services as well as COVERGIRL Colorlicious Lip Gloss samples to the bloggers attending. Manicures featuring the new COVERGIRL XL Nail Gel collection—the polishes provide the plump, polished look of a gel manicure without having to go to the salon. The formula glides on smoothly and evenly, and one coat is all you need. Also, there’s no UV light required. Makeup touch-ups featuring essential beauty products for moms-on-the-go including: COVERGIRL’s new #instaGLAM Collection (Ready Set Gorgeous Liquid Foundation, Ready Set Gorgeous Concealer, Ready Set Gorgeous Fresh Complexion Pressed Powder, and Colorlicious Lip Gloss), Bombshell ShineShadow by LashBlast, truMAGIC, and Clump Crusher by LashBlast Mascara.


AutoTex Pink encouraged bloggers to help “Wipe Out Breast Cancer.” A donation is made from each purchase of AutoTex Pink wiper blades to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. AutoTex Pink wiper blades are available in pink or in black with a pink ribbon online at


Bloggers received samples of Washdrops, an award-winning green car wash solution. Finally, there is a quick, easy and environmentally responsible way to wash your vehicle.  Washdrops uses only one bucket of water—no hose or rinse is required to get a beautiful shine. Washdrops is ideal for school and non-profit car wash fundraisers too!


Everyone had a chance to play with the amazing Wubble Bubble Ball, which looks like a bubble but plays like a ball.  The Wubble ball is available for $19.99 at Target stores nationwide.

Here is a picture of my own Wubbles at home that we are having tons of fun playing with:

wubble ball


Additional Sponsors included friends from at Affiliate Summit,  JetSet Dress, author Lauren Willig and Alex’s Lemonade stand who came with delicious lemonade and lemon flavored candies and Peeps.


Here’s to next year!

Preparing Your Family – Your Life for Hurricane Arthur and other storms

wireless emergency alertsAre you ready for Hurricane Arthur? Does your family have a plan?

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, with the peak occurring between mid-August and late October. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season began on May 15 and will end on November 30. By working as a community, lives can be saved despite natural disasters breaking apart our homes and towns. They don’t have to break apart our families if we properly prepare and are aware of what to do.  has tips about what to do to prepare:

1. Sign up for WEAs (Wireless Emergency Alerts): Wireless Emergency Alerts are automatic texts sent to you in an emergency. Alerts received at the right time can help keep you safe during an emergency. With WEA, warnings can be sent to your mobile device when you may be in harm’s way, without need to download an app or subscribe to a service.

2. Build an Emergency Kit

3. Making a Family Communications Plan

4. Download the following guide: How to Prepare for a Hurricane Guide: 

Hurricanes have the power to cause widespread devastation, and can affect both coastal and inland areas. How to Prepare for a Hurricane explains how to protect yourself and your property, and details the steps to take now so that you can act quickly at a time when every second counts.

Special NYC edition of The Talk: Tune in Friday at 2 pm #everybodytalks

This Friday, at 2 pm, make sure to tune into The Talk for a special NYC edition with all your favorite hosts and a couple of extra special guests, including myself & my mom in the audience and several other very special blogging friends.

This last week, we headed into NYC for a pre-taping of this Friday’s show which features very special guests and really fun giveaways. I won’t spoil it now. You have to see it to believe it!

What an incredible fun day and even more fun that that my mom got to share it with me as a special post-Mother’s Day treat.

Watch for an update on all the amazing things the audience won. Like, really?!!!!! Can you saw jaw-dropping?!

Follow The Talk on Facebook and Twitter to join in the fun and live tweet your favorite moments. Follow #everybodytalks on Twitter and join the conversation with some of your favorite ladies. Tweet them individually if you hear something you like! @JulieChen @aishatyler @MrsSOsbourne @THEsaragilbert @sherylunderwood

May 16, 2014


(Pictured: Sheryl, Vera, Sara, Kate, Beth, Sharon, Aisha, me, my mom, Julie, Danielle)

SPOILER ALERT: (CBS shared it and so will I):

[Tune in] TOMORROW: the incredible @idinamenzel, lifestyle expert @chilanlieu & @Chef_Aaron Sanchez: #Frozen #letitgo

See you on The Talk!