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Cub’s Corner

Hi parents,

Are you still insecure what toys to buy your baby or toddler, and worried to fall for fake reviews, where people receive the items for free and write favorably about them in exchange? Ever noticed that when you buy toys online, there aren’t very often children photographed next to the toys, so you can’t really tell how big they are? (I fell into that trap and bought the wrong sizes before.) Want to hear an upright opinion supported with photos and videos of how well a child really received a toy? I was a first-time mom, too, and read what other moms thought before making an informed decision.

(Photo credit: Daphne Treadway)

Here, you’ll find Lyons Cub’s favorite toys; those that worked out of all the things I bought for him or he got as presents. There are so many things that are dust catchers and hardly ever get used, but then there are those that withstand many seasons and are loved beyond measure; those that last through many summers; those that survive the wear and tear although being used by several wild toddlers; those that don’t break the first time a little fist twists them the wrong way, and those that don’t cause tears on Christmas Day because they didn’t last longer than a few hours. These are our honest opinions. You can see the joy in Lyons Cub’s face.

We hope that there are some good ideas for you, too! Below are the snippets; for a longer review with more pictures and occasional videos of Lyons Cub enjoying his toys, click on the links. If you want to see just the recommendations for babies, go to the right side bar and look under “categories” for the baby toy reviews. If you want to peruse just the recommendations for toddler toys, go to “categories” on the right side bar and check out the reviews for toddlers.

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Yay!!! Off we go!!!

This is the Simplay3 Young Explorers Adventure Climber. One of the best investments I’ve ever made. Lyons Cub used it from when he could barely walk, to practice his climbing and sliding skills, until he was almost three years old and we moved. His friends ages 2-13 came over to play on it, and it is so sturdy, even Lyoness was able to stand on it! He climbed on it in the summer heat and in the winter snow. Nothing could deter him from running outside and playing on his favorite toy! It looks like a car inside, with a steering wheel. It has a climbing tower and a slide. You can use it indoors or outdoors, and it did not lose color in the sun. Neither did it become brittle or cracked in the winter. Year long, Lyons Cub had fun with it! Even the cat loved to lounge on the tower. Click here for more of our photos.

My home is my castle!

Come have teatime with your little guests in the Little Tikes Cape Cottage Play House! If I had known it also exists in blue, I would have gotten that one, but I bought the red one instead. Lyons Cub and his friends loved it to pieces! It is cheaper than many more bulky houses, but it looks so much nicer! This was his first house (well, apart from the one we lived in, of course). Lyons Cub loved to open and shut the windows, to go through the red doors, and to put up the two little American flags (those don’t come with it, but you can buy them cheaply). The play house can be used inside or in the yard, and it’s big enough to put a children’s chair inside. Even adults can go inside! We anchored it down with four iron anchors in the four corners, and it withstood every storm. One of Lyons Cub’s favorite socializing sites and hiding places 😉

Creepy crawly friend

The ECR4Kids Peek-A-Boo Caterpillar was our back yard attraction. Doggies and kitties loved to hide in its underbelly, and Lions Cub went straight for the head. It’s big and sturdy, so the older neighborhood kids could play on it, too. Don’t worry about assembly, everything snaps together, and those little yellow screws are easy to fasten by just one mommy alone. Your friendly looking wormy will be the highlight of every birthday party and would also be a great motor activity for a daycare. Just look at the colorful tootsies. Click here for more pics.

Doodledoo, rattle, scrunch!

This is Lyons Cub’s first activity toy, the Fisher-Price 2-in-1 Sit-to-Stand Activity Center! Perfect for infants who can’t walk yet, to strengthen their muscles and practice standing. It went along with us on trips and into hotels, to keep Lyons Cub busy on mom’s travels. Half an hour of entertainment for kiddo and a welcome break for hectic moms! Doesn’t topple over, is easy to assemble, and the coolest thing ever is that you can take the seat in the middle out and put a table in, which has a slide for balls and toy cars to roll down. Daddy Lyons was a pianist, and I was glad our cub could try out his first keyboard skills with this activity center 🙂

Sleepsack Swaddle for Newborn

When Lyons Cub came home from the NICU, he slept swaddled in the baby blue HALO micro-fleece sleepsack swaddle I had bought in the stores in Vanderbilt in Nashville. It helped him to maintain his temperature while leaving his arms out, so he could practice grabbing and being more active. The inverted zipper opens from the bottom, so it’s easy to change diapers with that little trick!

Splash, splosh, bubble trouble!

What to do when your kiddo can’t sit yet, the baby bathtub is too small, but the adults’ tub is too big? Fear not, the Summer My Bath Seat (Aqua) comes to the rescue. Baby can’t fall over and swallow water, but you can still wash his back, and he has plenty of room to kick his feet and play with his rubber duckies. Look here for more pics.

Choo choo!

The Brilliant Beginnings – Ride On Learning Train – what a fun toy for your little conductor! We got this one as a present for Lyons Cub’s first birthday, but you can get it cheap from Walmart, and my German friends can get it for a little more from ROFU. Lyons Cub has loved it for three years now.

We all live in a…

yellow submarine! And what’s more, the Yookidoo Baby Bathtime Toy – Submarine Spray Whale is connected with a hose to an awesome sprinkler that can wash your hair, massage your back, drench mommy, and – if she’s not careful – flood the tiles outside the bathtub! What fun!

Early Learning Centre Splish Splash Adventure Island

Our English friend gave Lyons Cub this cute learning center for his bathtub. He can turn rounds with a blue ship and a red one, and let them go down the slide. He liked the stem of the palm tree most, which is a green cup (because he loves to pour water outside the bathtub, hah!). It’s not pictured here — mommy hid it in a safe place 😉 — but you put it over the leaves. There’s a white cloud, too, which you can’t see in the picture because it’s floating somewhere in the tub. It’s also a nice thing to use outside on the lawn or at the beach. Just another toy that makes bath time fun and enjoyable for longer.

Tiny tootsies, music makers

The Fisher-Price Deluxe Kick & Play Piano Gym & Maracas was Lyons Cub’s first activity mat when he was 2-4 months old and learning how to grab things and focus his eyes on toys. Right from the beginning, he was very interested in the colorful hanging toys!

Baby and Toddler Clothes from Carter’s

Are you a mommy with brand awareness? When I find something that works and that I like, I usually stick to it. Carter’s was love at first sight. Already in the hospital, my tiny preemie fit best into onesies from Carter’s. Once home, I spoiled him with the prettiest Carter’s and Oshkosh clothes I could find. We did get lots of hand-me-downs from his older cousins and friends’ and colleagues’ children, but when I bought new ones, I splurged 😉

Who loves bath time?

The Angel Care Bath Support (which exists in blue, pink, and gray) was a great thing to have when Lyons Cub was about 3-6 months old. It’s soft, comfy, keeps baby in a good position, and allows splashing with the legs. It filled the gap just right between the newborn baby bathtub and the support seat we used from 6-8 months. He evidently had fun in it!

Noise-Cancelling Headphones for Babies/Toddlers

When Lyons Cub flew to Europe for the summer (at 8 months, 1.5, and 2.5 years of age), I wanted him to catch some zzz’s on the 8-hour transatlantic flight (during the 2-hour continental flight, we read books, played games, or watched TV). But how can you get your baby to sleep when other guests are talking, eating, and the cabin crew and captain are making announcements? By blocking out the noise. I bought my son these cute, blue noise-canceling headphones. He can’t hear music or stories with them; they just block the noise and make falling asleep in his car seat on the plane much easier — so mommy can finally crash 😉

Topsy Turtle & Sand

What could be better in the hot summer? Nice warm sand on your feet, a bucket of water, some shovels, a few trucks, and colorful molds to bake sand cake. The Little Tikes Turtle Round Sandbox makes it possible. Lyons Cub had his turtle sandbox before he could walk, and the older he got, the more sophisticated the games became…

Baby, you can drive my car…

It’s called the Step2 Whisper Ride II Ride On Push Car, and although it doesn’t exactly whisper but is so loud that you can barely hear grandma on your cell phone when walking around on asphalt, it’s one of Lyons Cub’s favorite toys, used year round and being the subject of envy by his friends. He got it when he was about one and still rides in it at three. And if you have twins, Step2 also has a side-by-side push around SUV for two!

The EMSCO Infant Boggan

was Lyons Cub’s first baby sled that lasted three winters. Light-weight, colorful, fast, and fun – what could a happy mommy ask for more? If you don’t want to make a huge investment, go with this version; laughter is guaranteed.

Dinky Dragon Baby Halloween Costume

The InCharacter Dinky Dragon Infant/Toddler Costume was Lyons Cub’s first Halloween costume, and it was so cute and a great success! Dragons were his big love back then.

Jumpy, jumpy

The Evenflo Exersaucer Door Jumper was a big thrill for Lyons Cub. We started early, when he couldn’t even sit unsupported yet, so he could strengthen his leg muscles. He became a real master at it as the months passed.


Maybe you’re scared after googling SIDS and dangers for babies to suffocate in their cribs. Maybe you’re convinced your baby will rest better in a dock-a-tot. I can just say that my son had one, but I never let him sleep in it during the night, only when he lay next to me while I was pumping or grading papers at home. You can shell out over 200 bucks or just stay within a budget of $39; to each his own. Here is a variety of dock-a-tots and similar infant positioners.

No yard is perfect without swing!

Lyons Cub loved his plastic baby swing from when he was under a year until 3 years old! He had the one from Step 2, but I went a little overboard and bought three of those, so they don’t seem to be available anymore ;), but there is a similar one from M&M.

Have you lost your marbles?

Actually, it was grandma Lion who convinced me to invest in expensive wooden toys – so Lyoness got Lyons Cub a wood marble run from Eichhorn. In the U.S., you can find a similar one from STOBOK. Let’s just say, they are more fun for the adults than the preschool kids!! This is a MENTAL CHALLENGE!!! My tip: get a plastic marble race if your kiddo is as impatient as mine. If you have a genius or favor Montessori toys, get this one ;).

Plastic Marble Run

“Success is a relative thing―and the victory of a boy at marbles is equal to the victory of an Octavius at Actium when measured by the scale of cosmic infinity.”
― H.P. Lovecraft

This was the ultimate fun! TWO HOURS!!! Lyons Cub has never been able to focus this long on anything other than Paw Patrol 😉 The Meland Marble Run was a great success. There are different sellers on Amazon that seem to sell the same product, so we just need to make sure we pick the same one or a compatible one when we extend our set. Lyons Cub is planning something big….

Swim Like a Fish…

in a fish! This is a cute, orange baby pool that we used from 4 months on until about 1.5 years. I’m not sure whether it’s still being sold, but I was able to find a similar snail pool. You can use it to float in a bigger pool, or on the lawn like we did. First splashing adventure for the littlest ones!

Water, Sand, and Dinos…

What could be better??? If you have a cruising or already walking baby or even a bigger toddler who loves dinos, then the Step2 Dino Dig Sand & Water Table is for you! Fill one half with water, the other with sand, and let the dinos climb the rock formation. Lyons Cub loved it! When he got older, he planted his veggies in it.

Hello Little Pirate, Argh!

The LBN Tot Crawl Climb Pirate Ship was one of the main attractions in our basement and later in the back yard. When used outside, it’s probably safer to anchor it to the ground, but it never toppled with just one small toddler on it. Lyons Cub loved climbing on it or hiding in its belly.

Wooden Horse Swing

For his first Christmas, Lyons Cub got a beautiful natural wood horse swing. It comes unstained, so if you want to use it outside, it’s better to stain it to protect it from the elements. We had it inside for about a year, and then it went under the back deck. Lyons Cub loved to ride his horsey! It was so much more interesting than the plastic swings, but we rotated it. If grandparents want to make a present that’s on the nicer side or are Montessori fans, this would be a good choice, hint, hint…!

Baby Shark Sing-Along Book…

Every mom’s horror, every child’s delight!!! What else can I say about this…. For Christmas 2019, I got Lyons Cub this sing-along, battery-operated Pinkfong Baby Shark book. He loved it and clapped to the songs. There are many more songs, not just Baby Shark, on it, such as “The wheels on the bus go round and round,” which he knew from his Montessori kindergarten. I’m not a fan of electronic music (that’s not what I play the piano for and aim at classical piano education for my child), but from time to time, when mommy isn’t available to produce song, kiddo can experiment by pressing a button and getting prerecorded electronic sounds. As long as he’s happy… I have to admit, sometimes, I hid this book on the top shelf!!! 😉

Teamson Kids Play Kitchen

For some reason, I was really attracted to wooden toy kitchens, so Lyons Cub got this beautiful blue one. It was just a tad difficult for me to build, but every evening, he fixes mommy some wooden toast with butter, or he pours his real milk into one of the pots on his little stove. Check out the Teamson store with a big array of differently colored kitchens. Lyons Cub is already a really good cook; check out the video where he makes chocolate cake for mommy!

Roba “Kaufladen” (Store)

I had this cute, natural wood Roba “Kaufladen” shipped to Clarksville, TN from Amazon Germany, so Lyons Cub could have one with authentic German letters, such as “Mehl” (flour), “Zucker” (sugar), “Salz” (salt), etc. It was a bit difficult to assemble the little boxes in the back, but otherwise, a single mom was able to set it up on one evening. He’s been playing with it for more than two years now, and we put real food and juice bottles in it, too. He has a little plastic shopping cart, a Fisher-Price cash register (the same retro cash register his mommy had as a kid in the 1980s!), and lots of plastic and wooden food items and silver pots and pans. He first goes shopping in his “Kaufladen” and then prepares our food in his toy kitchen. This game never gets old.

The Dust! Sweep! Mop! Set from Melissa & Doug

You cannot start early enough to get your kiddo used to cleaning up. That’s why my son got this cute, wooden “Dust! Sweep! Mop!” set from Melissa & Doug. Even I use the long, green broom constantly for the messes he makes on the floor. He also helps clean spiderwebs, dust, and the crumbs he made with his cookies and bread rolls. We clean the couch with the brush and dustpan. Careful–the mop is not supposed to be soaked in water; it’s just a pretend toy. However, the other parts can be used just the same as real cleaning utensils!

Jonah and the Whale plushies

were a big hit with Lyons Cub at Christmas 2019! The whale has a magnetic mouth that can open wide to swallow handsome, friendly-looking Jonah and other things a tot would want to make disappear. The plushies came with an accompanying book, and we got all of this together at the Hallmark store in the Clarksville, TN Governors’ Mall. At 3 years old, Lyons Cub now insists on the Jonah and the Big Fish book for bedtime story and plays with the plushies at the same time. The poor fish had to eat a seal, a Minnie Mouse, and other, smaller plushies and toys already. It washes well, too (survived a sudden sickness accident in bed, with Jonah safely tucked inside). (Strictly speaking, a whale is a MAMMAL and not a fish! So when you buy this book, which is nice in every other aspect, you might have some scientific explaining to do…)

Baby Bath with Sling

Of course, you can wash a newborn in the sink – been there, done that. But how much more comfy is a little plastic bathtub you can place in your big tub: The First Years Sure Comfort Deluxe Newborn to Toddler Tub. Lyons Cub had grown out of it by 6 months, but while it lasted, he enjoyed it! And it was a relief for mommy.

Ding dong! You got visitors!

Yes, you heard right, this cute Neat and Tidy Cottage Play House from Step 2 has a REAL door bell!!! It also has a fire place, a clock, a lantern, and a letter box to push mail through. It was very easy to assemble by mommy. Lyons Cub loved to open and shut the door and window, and to “wash” his hands in the sink. There’s even a little built-in chair to sit beside the blue table. Plus, it has a planter for real flowers on the front wall! It has a floor, so if you use it on the lawn, it’s nice and clean inside. We took this house with us to Europe, and it stands on the balcony now. The bell is still ringing!

The Boppy Nursing Pillow…

No kidding, but this donut-shaped pillow was by far the most useful thing I bought for Lyons Cub when he was a newborn. I used it for nursing, I placed him in it for bottle feeding, and he slept on it next to me while I was pumping. The Boppy Nursing Pillow had just the right size to fit my tiny baby. I covered it with a burp cloth, so it wouldn’t be hit with milk and spit up all the time. Worked like a charm. What would I have done without it??? This is an absolute must for any mommy. Kitty loved to sleep in it, too…

Double trouble, boil and bubble…

or something like that! Have a kiddo who loves to play with streaming water? The Yookidoo Flow ‘n Fill baby bath toy might be just the right thing for you then. The three wheels are indestructible and provided bath fun for a long time. The suction cups are very strong and don’t fall off the wall. Your baby can stack the colorful cups or take the yellow one with the green wheel out and fill it by itself to make its wheel turn. Oh, what fun it is!

A boy and his dolls…

He’s not the gentlest father, but Lyons Cub passionately pushes his Caucasian and Hispanic dolls through the back yard and up and down the driveway in their Hape wooden babydoll stroller. He learned to walk with this stroller, but he had the most fun with it when he was two years old, could steer better and didn’t bump into every wall and corner. It’s sustainable and sturdier than many plastic strollers. We still have it; I’m sure it will last him until he’s 5 or 6. It also has a matching cradle!

Das Auto!

Lyons Cub loves cars. He already had a push car where mommy decides where to go, so he needed one where he was in charge. The Jeep Cherokee Ride on Push Car was just the right, low-budget toy to practice his gross motor skills, such as getting up and off, and keeping going forward and down the hill.

Pink Minnie Mouse Ride-On Plane

Lyons Cub is a fan of Minnie Mouse! He has a plush one he’s sleeping with, and he has this cool plane to dash through the living-room with. When you press different buttons, it produces quite realistic lift-off and landing sounds. The best things are the two propellers that rotate to changing light-up patterns. While this is certainly made for 1-year-olds, Lyons Cub is still flying around on it at 3.5 years of age and lovin’ it! He’s had it for a year now. One of his first words when he started talking was, “Fukinana,” which was supposed to be “Flugzeug” (German for “plane”). Maybe that’s because we kept flying to Germany for vacations. Well, he can say “Flugzeug” very well now, but his love for his old, little pink “Fukinana” has remained the same…

Basketball, soccer, and loops – 3 in 1!

Do you have a tiny baby? Lyons Cub could barely walk when he already wanted to shoot goals. This little blue giraffe made it possible: the lowest setting was perfect for a 1-year-old to reach, and the higher settings will still be a challenge for 3-4-year-olds. We used this basketball set, which also sports a soccer goal and loops for throwing, both indoors and outdoors. Here, you see him cheating 😉

Magnetic Drawing Board

What’s better than a drawing board that can be erased without messes? Lyons Cub loved and still loves to draw on his magnetic drawing board. Lyoness has to draw bears, cats, dinos, caves, volcanoes, and other things for him, and he fills them in. They show up in red, green, blue, and yellow, depending on which corner he draws in. A bonus are the stamps that come with the board. Lyons Cub is also doing his own artwork, as you can see. Plus, it’s an easy way to trace letters without wasting any paper. You can’t lose the pen, because it is attached with a string! How quiet a car trip can be when this board comes along! And if little Picasso is chewing on the pen while thinking about his wondrous creation, who cares, as it has no color he could get in his mouth 😉

Melissa & Doug Fishing Game

Finally, a nice, educational, wooden game… my kiddo has waaaayyyy too much plastic! This Melissa & Doug “Catch & Count Magnetic Fishing Rod Set” with two fishing rods and 10 fish (two of each, numbers 1 through 5) has been a hit with Lyons Cub for the past two years. He still regularly goes fishing with mommy or grandma. Now that he knows the numbers, it’s even more fun. We also go fishing for lots of other magnetic items, not just the fish provided! That’s the best of all, actually 😉

Indoor trampoline

Before Lyons Cub was tall enough to use a big-kid trampoline outdoors with his cousins, he trained on a small indoor trampoline from Little Tikes. We picked this one because it was small, ideal for a 2-year-old, sturdy, and easy to assemble. He had these without handles at his local gym where he was taking lessons with other children, and they were always his favorite activity besides their huge offer of balance boards, foam blocks, balls, ropes, cloths, etc. This trampoline is for one little toddler at a time. It will cause big crocodile tears if more than one want on it at the same time! If you have more kids or a bigger child, get the next level up!

LED Star Light Projector

Does your kiddo need a baby night light? Lyons Cub is still afraid of monsters. When he saw that his cousins got this beautiful Delicacy LED Star Light Projector for Christmas, he wanted one, too. Isn’t his room magical? He can use the remote control all by himself and choose between blue, green, red, and white light, and a mixture of them, including green laser beam stars that come and go. It’s a “breathing” light and can be dimmed. The waves created on the ceiling are fantastic! We are not even using the music feature. Falling asleep has never been that easy. We can also use it as a party light, once friends can come over again after Corona. I bought three of those so far, as presents. Come to think of it, mommy wants one, too!

Crocodile Walker from Melissa & Doug

If you have a toddler who is a beginning walker, this wooden walker from Melissa and Doug might be a suitable toy. My son has way too much plastic, so I’m happy that from time to time, I can get him sustainable toys that last longer and offer more space for initiative and creativity. This crocodile walker lifts the crocodiles when it is being walked, and they make cute clacking sounds on the wood board under their heads. There are also some wooden shapes, like a butterfly, that can be turned and rotated by your child. This toy is not very stable, so it is not suitable for a baby who just learns to walk and needs to lean heavily on it. This one is rather for kids who have mastered walking and just need to practice balance a bit.

Puppy Activity Home

Lyons Cub grew up with two real doggies, Honey and Sally. So it was only natural that for his first Christmas, he got a musical puppy activity home from Fisher-Price. He could open the door, twist the yellow button, turn the light on and off, rotate the roll, and listen to songs. A voice told him,
“thank you for making the door shut,” and “thank you for making the door open,” etc. The toy has three levels of difficulty, so with more speech ability, baby can advance to the next level. It also speaks Spanish, which Lyons Cub learned in his Montessori kindergarten. What a perfect toy for kiddos under 1! And there’s also a next level for kiddos with more dexterity, where baby can put a doggy inside.

Gopher Splash Mat

It’s summer, it’s hot, and what’s more fun than to step on a water-filled gopher that sprays you wet? This gopher mat is a great activity for little toddlers and bigger kids alike. It’s connected to a water hose, but even when it’s switched off, there’s still enough water in there to provide fun for the littlest. It’s not as scary to them as a deeper pool with full submersion; Lyons Cub loved the sprinkles! Invite the neighborhood kids over and make a contest who can flatten the most gophers 😉

When he thinks tadpoles become sharks…

Doing science with Lyons Cub is so fun! We collected tiny tadpoles and some frog eggs from our garden pond and put them into his Aqueon Betta Castle Kit. He put the little red flags up all by himself, and then, he admired his babies. We had them until the froglets had legs and were ready to go back into the garden pond to hop out. What a lesson he learned! When I asked him what tadpoles become when they grow up, he said, “sharks!” 😉

Seesaw, Seesaw…

Well, ideally, you’d have two children for that, but it works alone, too! 😉 Lyons Cub’s first seesaw, which he shared willingly with the neighborhood girls, was just right for a small toddler, especially for one who loves horses. It was sturdy, but easy to carry around. Ours held kids up to 9 years of age, but was ideal for the 2-3-year-old children. You can use it in the playroom or outside. Ours was strictly outdoors, and it didn’t fade or crack in the sun, of which we have plenty in Tennessee. It was essential for Lyons Cub to develop his balancing skills.

Can’t start early enough…

… to make your child a good housekeeper 😉 This cool Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Light-up Learning Vacuum sings happily, “Clean up, clean up!” while your toddler follows mommy with her grown-up vacuum cleaner around the house with the toy one. Too cute! Lyons Cub still loved it as a three-year-old. It can make vacuum sucking noises or songs and phrases. And if mommy gets fed up, she can switch off the sound altogether and enjoy quiet housecleaning by her offspring. For some reason, Lyons Cub was in love with vacuum cleaning, especially between 1 and 2 years of age. The next passion will probably be a lawn mower 😉

Tummy Time a Problem?

Well, not anymore with this Splashin’kids Inflatable Tummy Time Premium Water mat. We actually did it for gross motor delays during our Early Intervention practices, and Lyons Cub managed to strengthen his arms for crawling. But also for non-IUGR babies who need extra tummy time or who just like squishy things, this water mat is fun. There are cool sea creatures floating inside it. If it isn’t dried out well, it will get moldy after several months, but by then, ours had served its purpose well.

The right high chair…

… is hard to find. I feel we made a good choice with our Graco Blossom 6 in 1 Convertible High Chair. Lyons Cub started using it between 5-6 months of age, when he began eating baby food in addition to milk. It can recline, you can take out the inner cushion part for very little babies (we did not use it at all), and when kiddo is bigger, you can use the black, hard seat underneath separately in the scaffold, or tie it to an adult chair, which is what we did. This way, the high chair lasts for a long time and serves as a transition for your child to sit on a standard chair, while still being able to see the table. Our Graco Blossom was easy to set up and to clean. The tray has an upper part that can be taken off. This mommy was very satisfied!

Paw Patrol skates for little fans

Have a child who loves Paw Patrol? Yes? Maybe it’s time to start acquiring new balancing skills, and what better way to use veeeeery slow, nice, safe toddler skates? They grow with the foot, are adjustable without tools, have sturdy frames and secure buckles, and the knee pads for safety are a great addition. If your kiddo is a huge fan, there’s a matching helmet, too. The instructions say “ages 2-6,” but come on, at age 3, Lyons Cub outgrew the slowness of those beginner skates. He still loved them but definitely required a bit more action. It’s amazing how sportive my little dude who once got Early Intervention for gross motor delay has gotten! Those skates definitely helped with self-esteem and coordination.

Cool dude with sunglasses

Also have a light sensitive toddler? Lyons Cub was blinking, and most of all, he wanted to look as cool as mommy, so he got his first Baby BANZ Ultimate Polarized Sunglasses. He won’t lose them, as they stay safely on his head with the adjustable straps. They fit perfectly and look nice, don’t they?

Summer is in the air…

… and a pool becomes a welcome relief from the heat. Lyons Cub loved his Inflatable Pool with 2 Seats, Headrest, and Cup Holder. It was big enough for mommy or nanny to join him, and he could bring his swim toys, too. Tip: put rubber yoga mats underneath to make the bottom nice and soft! This high-quality pool is durable and not easy to break and promises splashing fun for the whole family – or the neighborhood friends. It measures about 213 x 207 x 69 cm (83.86 x 81.50 x 27.17 inches) and is quite roomy. You will need an electric pump to inflate it; took me at least half an hour. The best thing is that if one layer gets a hole, it won’t affect the other layers. Lyons Cub spent lots of hours in this pool during the summer when he was 1.5. And if that pool is still too small for you, look at the upgrade below…

Giant pool with bench

When Lyons Cub was 2.5, we upgraded to the next level pool: 229 x 218 x 76 cm (90 x 86 x 31 inches), with a long bench for mommy to lie on or him to jump on. This pool is Lyoness’ favorite. It was so roomy, he swam around in it with his inflatable pelican. The Intex Swim Center Inflatable Family Lounge Pool is THE summer sensation for bigger kids or a whole family. Have no money to make vacations on the beach? Staycation will be a HIT with this lounge pool!

First Trike

Before the balance bike comes the push trike…. With his first tricycle with sun shade, Lyons Cub was very satisfied. He got it at 1.5 years old, when he was still too short to reach the pedals, but there are foot rests he could use while mommy pushed him. I remember how I had to push him in circles through the basement; he enjoyed it that much! At three years of age, he learned how to ride by himself and drove through the whole park. The sun shade can be removed; we leave it at home most of the time. We love the basket in the back, which is big enough to hold his food bag with a change of clothes. At the handle, it has a bag for mommy’s cell phone, drink, and wallet. Perfect for long walks!

Dinosaur Rocker for Baby

Lyons Cub loves dinos! The Fossil Dinosaur Rocker was his first rocking chair, which we used for gross motor training with Early Intervention when he was sitting up around 8 months. It has 4 different songs, which are very agreeable and not like the usual plastic music that gets on parents’ nerves. One is about the ABC, one about numbers, one about colors – and that’s the one that Lyons Cub and Lyoness liked most, the rainbow song. “Rainbows are red, rainbows are blue….” The dino rocker is very soft, comfy, has crinkly crests and two squeaky horns. Very nice for baby to train his hands. He can choose the 4 songs himself by pressing four buttons on the back of its head. This dino is a keeper, meaning mommy will hold on to it when the boy is off to college 😉

My Yellow Digger

Lyons Cub was excited to dig through the sandbox with his little helper riding his Mobby Dig, while he was shoveling caves and heaping up volcanoes. The digger is sturdy to sit on and perfect for 3-year-olds, and the shovel is very strong and doesn’t break like so many of the flimsy ones. This guarantees hours of happy play and can be shared with a friend, so each one is content. The helmet fits the head of the 3-year-old well and looks very professional. The stickers hold up well, too. The digger is not too heavy or big to carry along to playgrounds. Great for pretend play!

Waterproof Painting Apron

Especially during Corona, one has to do many things at home with the toddlers. We are always doing crafts and painting. Here, Lyons Cub is protecting his clothes with a long-sleeved painting apron, so mommy doesn’t have to wash clothes right after. There are three in a package, they fit 2 to 8-year-olds, and they can be easily cleaned. Kids have fun, and parents can relax!

June 2021 – Get your ALDI Balancing Bike Right Now!

By coincidence, Lyons Cub and Lyoness went shopping at ALDI South on June 12th and found this adorable balancing bike for EUR 24.99. He wanted the pink one. They’re either pink or baby blue, with a brown saddle and brown handles. Mounting it together was quick and easy, and of course, the height can be changed for saddle and handlebar. Nice bike for the transition to the real deal! Can’t beat that price.

Peppa Pig Pool for Tight Spaces

Kiddo is hot, and you just have a balcony? Don’t worry, there’s a small 3-ring pool that will fit and provide welcome relief from the summer heat. And if your child loves Peppa Pig, you scored double.

Toddler Slide & Rocker

Still looking for a 1st birthday present for an active toddler? We chose the 2-in-1 slide and rocker. Turn the slide around, and you’ll get a motorcycle rocker. It’s as simple as that. This was one of our activities for Early Intervention. Lyons Cub was able to climb, rock, and slide. Three things in one, actually. It’s also a nice addition for a day care or kindergarten. Kiddos won’t get bored that quickly if their toy is a “transformer” 😉

Short Sleeve Toddler Swimsuit

Worried your tot might burn his shoulders? I got this short-sleeved toddler swimsuit for Lyons Cub for the hot days in the yard. It’s well made, comfy, and looks great. It prevented him from getting cool, while he could also get a little tan (with sunscreen, of course). This swimsuit dried quickly, felt good on the skin, had tight stitches that would not rip open, and the material was elastic and gave way. YOU want this!

Great Pretenders Dragon Cape

A whole-body dragon costume is too hot for summer (Lyons Cub had one of those for Halloween as a baby), so he got a Great Pretenders dragon cape he could put over his shoulders and head. It’s light, glittering, and beautiful. Here comes the big, dangerous dragon; fear, ye people! ROAAAAR!!!

Toothless with Light, Sound, and Projectile

Look at that little dragon trainer here! Lyons Cub loves his cousin’s Toothless and Stormfly dragons from DreamWorks Dragons. At 3.5 years old, he is interested in the toys of his older cousins and loves pretend play with the “big, dangerous dragons” that can hiss, light up, and shoot projectiles. Watch his video to see the fun!

Doorway Playhouse – Use the Space You Have!

Don’t have enough space to set up a bulky plastic playhouse in your child’s room? A 2-sided doorway playhouse like ours from Crate & Barrel might be the solution. Here, you see Lyons Cub’s post office (the backside is a veterinary clinic). It comes with a big fabric mail box, a mail bag to hang from his shoulder, and several envelopes, postcards, stamps to attach with Velcro, and a fabric parcel to open and place something inside. The windows are open, the door can be climbed through, and the “open/closed” sign on the vet’s office can be turned around with velcro. There are lots of different versions out there, including puppet theaters. We love this thing. It’s been hanging under our staircase, and between the door frames of his room.

Role Play and Door Frame House

Here, you see the backside of Lyons Cub’s door frame house, the veterinary clinic. Lyoness had to dress up as a witch for Halloween (all the German teachers were witches that year), and the door frame house could also double as haunted house 😉 By the way, you can make those yourself! All you need is a shower rod or PVC pipe, some cloth or felt in different colors, scissors, and glue or a sewing machine. For DIY ideas, check out doorway theater or doorway playhouse on Etsy.

Pikler Arch, Triangle, and Ramp

Are you fond of Montessori education? Do you have a little climber in your house? Providing Pikler gear is easier than plucking your kiddo from the shelves (believe me, Lyons Club needed to be taken off the top of the grand piano and from several shelves). My son climbed way before he could walk, so the Pikler triangle combined through a ramp (or, a slide on the other side) with an arch was the perfect activity for a one-year-old.

Volcano Mat with Dinosaurs

Does your child love volcanos and dinosaurs, too? Do you need a spot on the floor where he/she can play undisturbedly? This jurassic mat can solve the problem. Lyons Cub and his dinosaurs are inseparable. But most of all, since he could speak his first words, he loves his “cano.” He has different volcanoes, and we usually fill them with bubble bath balls and took them into the bathtub with him in the evening. In his bedroom, he has his awesome mat, where he plays dino fights and chases. When picking a mat, check its size so it fits in your toddler’s room. Ours is small, 39” x 36” (100 x 91 cm). It’s not thick and soft, so it’s not for baby’s tummy time but really for big brother’s/sister’s dino play. We added different dinos and volcanoes with time, so this activity never gets old.

Volcano alert!!!

“The ground rumbles. Steam and smoke escape from the mountain top…” This is how Lyons Cub’s favorite volcano book starts, and he can recite it gleefully. He has a bunch of volcanos, including this Learning Resources Beaker Creatures Bubbling Volcano Reactor. Just pour some water with a little oil in it over the bubble ball, and green wonder slime emerges, in which a tiny creature in an egg is hidden! Cool for preschool science and homeschooling experiments! Here, you see Lyons Cub carefully dipping his hand in, not knowing what creature is gonna bite him 😉 Of course, we did it outside…

Dinosaur Race Track with Battery-Driven Cars

Does your kiddo have a 3rd birthday coming up? Any dino lovers out there? Lyons Cub was so happy to get this dinosaur race track for his 3rd birthday from his Aunty Mary from Carbondale, IL. Those cars dash off like crazy when you put a new AA battery inside (better use a half-empty one, so they don’t have that much power!). This toy can engage the whole family. I found it a bit too difficult to snap together for a just 3-year-old (in the meantime, Lyons Cub has learned it), but the adults have just as much fun with this race track as the children. If you combine some similar tracks, it’s really worth while. Here, you see the size of just one track. It was fun already, but not as intricate as it could be. We simply HAD to splurge and get an additional set!

Ryan’s World Dino Universe Fizz N’ Dig Volcano Surprise

Does your kid watch Ryan’s World on TV? Lyons Cub loves the little scientist and was thrilled to get his blue volcano for Christmas. You can take it apart. There’s a sand mix on top that dissolves when kiddo pours water in it. With a fork or spoon (or the tiny, included yellow spade), kiddo can shovel to find a dinosaur fossil and three surprise-filled eggs. After we had discovered everything, we put bubble balls into the top and used it in the bathtub. Never-ending fun!


Whether you call it “Kerplunk,” “Marble Mayhem,” “Murmelmikado,” “Topple,” or whatever, this game has been around for a long time, and Lyoness remembers playing it with her daddy and sister in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It’s just as much fun as ever, and although it says it’s for 5+, a 3-year-old can practice his dexterity by inserting the rods through the holes and then carefully pulling them out again, without making too many marbles fall. It’s for up to 4 players, so if you have a bigger family, this might just be a nice afternoon’s entertainment. Fine motor skills and lots of patience needed!

Bubble-Making Lawnmower

Do you have a child who loves to make soap bubbles? Lots of ’em? Lots of soap bubbles? Well, try this lawnmower, then. Kiddo won’t get soap on his lips all the time, getting too close to the stick to blow through. Just push the lawnmower, and the bubbles come out the top. It’s great fun while it lasts! It would make a cool summer birthday gift. Alas, you will need lots of liquid soap…

X Shot Hydro Hurricane Water Gun

What’s more fun on a hot summer day than spraying oneself and other people? The X Shot Hydro Hurricane has lots of power, holds 1.5 liters of water, and reaches as far as 9 m. Lyons Cub took all his strength together to man this huge water gun, and all the trees, shrubs, flowers, and family members in his vicinity benefited from it… he himself most of all!!!

Bowling Set for Toddlers

What a simple game, and yet, you can find this classic in almost every household! Lyons Cub likes to play bowling with his colorful set in grandma’s apartment. Bowling and soccer belong to a German family like baseball to an American one 😉 It’s suitable for both indoors and outdoors, light enough for a toddler to carry around and handle, and easy on mommy’s budget. You can take it along to the park, so it never gets boring. It’s great for kids’ birthday parties in the yard, too (especially if you have small prizes).

Track Cars with LED Lights

Remember the dino tracks Lyons Cub got for his birthday? Well, half a year later, he has managed to lose all four battery-operated cars, so I got him replacement track cars that have LED lights. Best thing ever! They are meant for the glow-in-the-dark tracks, which he doesn’t have, but it was still fun to let them run on his dino tracks and turn the light out 😉 He has a fire-engine, a dump truck, a police car, and a bus. The fire-engine is his favorite. They are very powerful and run with a high speed. Plus, they are transparent at the bottom and reveal their interesting inner life to the toddler. Mommy will have to make sure they don’t vanish under furniture again.

Little People Construction Set

Got a little builder? He or she will enjoy the Fisher-Price Little People Work Together Construction Site Playset with light and sound. The vocal prompts let the child explore a work process that happens in a specific order, which is based on team work. If your tot presses the red buttons, either holes open up to release the boulder, or voices and lights start. There are two Little People figurines of different race and gender. A truck and three boulders are also included. And there’s a secret hidden on the underside


Duh, what need is there to explain… playdough is the most obvious children’s past time I can think of. Weren’t we all raised with it? Don’t we all remember our fragile constructs, which were reshaped so often until the colors melted into marble-like structures of “something”? Our snow men, little people, trees, animals… The available color palette is much greater nowadays. There is softer and harder playdough, there’s ecological playdough without chemicals, and you can also make it yourself. Did you know that playdough originally started off in the 1930s as a wallpaper cleaner? I didn’t!

Sidewalk Chalk for Toddler’s Creativity

Sidewalk chalk has been with us for generations and will continue to be. So far, Lyons Cub isn’t drawing any discernable pictures on his own yet, but he wants mommy to draw dinosaurs and helps fill out their crests. It’s a great way to teach letters without using up too much scrap paper. And if any neighbors complain, the rain will wash it off some day, anyway. When we go for a walk, we always have a little bucket full of colorful pavement chalk in our tricycle or stroller basket, for emergencies. This way, we always have some form of entertainment with us that never fails.

John Deere Tractor Go-Kart

Off we go on our John Deere tractor! It was easy to assemble with just two Allen keys and a wrench and is ready to go within minutes. Doesn’t it look cool, like a real one? Lyons Cub’s American heritage is coming to life here. That thing runs fast, and mommy had problems keeping up with it. Of course, kiddo wears a helmet. We got a nice discount from myToys for the tractor, and in addition, had a EUR 20 coupon, so the price was great for what we got! My only worry is the other children around the block will want one now, too–sorry, parents!! 😉

Playing Banana Blast…

didn’t quite work as planned with my toddler, but he loved to insert and pull out the bananas. However, he threw a tantrum every time someone else caught the jumping monkey, so grandma lion and Lyoness had to agree on letting Lyons Cub catch it. We’ll wait until he’s a bit older to play Banana Blast with the correct rules! In the meantime, he can practice his fine motor skills 😉

Plush Rocking Horse

with stirrups! We got ours for about ten bucks at a second-hand store in Clarksville, TN when Lyons Cub was under 2, but he’s still riding on it at 3.5 years of age. Now, at least his legs are long enough for his feet to fit into the stirrups 😉 The horse used to have sound, but luckily, we bought it without its voice. It looks quite realistic and rocks well. We’re reading the Yakari books to him right now, so he’s always the Indian Yakari, and his horse is “Kleiner Donner” (Little Thunder). He loves to do pretend play on this rocking horse and relives entire sections of the stories we read to him.


Which kid doesn’t like slime? Lyons Cub was fascinated by the gooey, stretchy “alien blood” and smeared it everywhere (on his clothes, onto grandma’s carpet, and, alas, into his hair). The pink one in the small jar was “Puuupsi Schleim,” which can make farting noises (luckily, he hasn’t figured that out yet), but the green one was the best, super extendable and a big bucket full. Needless to say, Lyons Cub went into the bathtub afterwards and had his hair combed out really well, while our clothes went into the washing machine. Everyone and everything was successfully restored to before-slime condition!!

Radio Flyer Inchworm Ride-On Toy

Now, this one is a classic. At least for American children, because in Germany, I had never seen it before. Lyons Cub loves his inchworm. You can get it from Walmart or Ebay, and they exist in green and pink. It is a fun activity toy for practicing gross motor skills, but I have to say inside the house (on parquet flooring), it is VERY noisy! Kids will figure out quickly to jump on it, and I don’t think the tenants below will be very amused… So I will reserve this toy for outside play and times when nobody holds an afternoon nap… 😉

Lego Duplo Jurassic World

Finally, a toy that makes no sound!!! (If you don’t count my son roaring like a dinosaur…) Lyons Cub loves volcanoes! His present to commemorate his first day of kindergarten was a cute Lego Duplo Jurassic World set. He loves to play with it in his Peppa Pig pool. He built a volcano, a bridge, let the guy on the motorcycle race through the water, and the T-rex and Triceratops baby smash his bridge. The bricks have no stickers, so they’re perfect to use in the water. These are for kids ages 2+, so they’re fairly easy to assemble, there aren’t many parts, but they provide enough separate pieces for fun pretend play. “Now the lava died me, aaarghhh!!!”


Mega Bloks First Builder Build ‘n Learn Table

Does your tot have lots of Mega Bloks, but nowhere to store them and no surface to build on? Then, this learn table comes in handy. When your tot opens up the lid by turning the red star in the middle, he/she can store blocks inside and close it back up. It has a race track as a bonus. The legs fold inward, so you can store it easily. It doesn’t cave in when your tot climbs on top of it (VERY important, at least for my child!). Get your kiddo off the floor and let him/her build at a comfortable height with this Mega Bloks learn table.

Dino Sweaters

Lyons Cub loves dinos. They are everywhere — on his socks, on his carpet, in his fold-out books, in his toy crates, on his bed sheets, on his jogging suit, and of course, on his sweaters! So I’m constantly on the hunt for dinosaur pullovers. I’m looking for those that don’t dissolve after multiple washing cycles and that don’t lose their color. This one is among his favorites, and it looks great with jeans. Here are some dino sweaters from his collection.

Dino Pants…

My son is not only a fan of dino sweaters, but also of dino pants. You can pair them with one another–in the picture above, he wears his blue dino pants and his green dino sweater, and in the pic to the left, he sports his bright yellow dino pullover with his tan dino and volcano trousers. He can never have enough of them… He wears them for playing in the sand, jumping on the trampoline (“Jumping Spider“), collecting chestnuts, going to the park… and now that it’s fall and it is getting colder, they are not just very suitable for the season but also nice to look at.

Bristle Shapes

What a great educational toy! With his bristle blocks, Lyons Cub builds houses, cars, windmills, and towers, just to have them knocked over again by an “asteroid that falls out of the sky and smashes the houses.” They are conceived for two-year-olds and over, and we started exactly at 2. By now, at almost 4, he can build his own constructs and only needs mommy to perfect his artworks. His buildings get more complicated, and he recounts complicated stories about parents driving to work, crashing their cars (oops, it never happened in real life, though!), having their houses destroyed (that actually happened in 2009 during an inland derecho), etc. These toys are more advanced than Duplo and Mega Bloks, which he also loves to play with, because they require more delicate fine motor skills and are harder to assemble. There are no boundaries to his imagination.

Playdough Barber Shop Set

Today, I have a little barber… Thank goodness, no real scissors and no real hair, just playdough hair. Grandma brought an old doll with “hair follicles,” through which you push playdough to make the hair grow. It can be cut or even made into braids (they’ll most likely break off, though). If you mix colors, you’ll have a rainbow hair doll! Add a pair of plastic scissors to cut them, and kiddo will be really satisfied. Mommy less so, because tiny bits of “hair” will be all over the floor to attach themselves to your soles, so be prepared and have kiddo work on a flat trash bag or cardboard 🙂

Magnetic Building Blocks

Just the perfect toy for your little builder!!! Mine enjoys these magnetic building blocks so much, he follows me everywhere to show me his new creations–even to the bathroom (roll eyes)… He builds houses, rockets, cars, towers, and prisons for his Paw Patrol and PJ Masks figurines. Sometimes, grandma is helping to build a big city. When she’s gone, he takes it apart and creates separate houses out of it. He learns the function of magnets (and the fine motor skills to overcome several inherent obstacles when the blocks stick together although he doesn’t want them to). One set is NOT enough for creative play! We bought two sets, so he has enough blocks and doesn’t run out when he is right in the middle of something. This educational toy can keep him occupied for several hours. And when play time is over, they go neatly in a plastic box with lid, so they don’t lie around the house.

Lego Marble Run

If you already have lots of Legos lying around, why not spice them up with a cool Lego marble run? Beware, the pieces you get in the box are usually not enough for an intricate construct, but if you get a compatible marble run and can combine it with your old Legos, it’s really worth while. My son, grandma, and mommy had lots of fun playing with it. It’s harder than you think. The balls are quite big and won’t fit in plastic marble runs. You will need lots of blocks to achieve a sturdy wall, so your kid’s construction doesn’t topple over and the balls don’t get stuck due to misalignment. Check out our videos; we made a building mistake first, but finally were able to figure out how to create a smooth race!

Felt Christmas Tree for Baby

Babies take lots of things in their mouths. You wouldn’t want them to do this with thin, fragile Christmas ornaments made out of plastic or even glass!! Thus, for the littles, a felt Christmas tree is just perfect. The ornaments are made of felt, too, and are hung on those sticky red Velcro dots. Lyons Cub was able to practice fine motor skills by hanging up the ornaments (and taking them off) at the age of 11 months. The star on the top was his clear favorite (he always took it off). If that tree tumbles over, it won’t hurt anyone. By the way, Felix and Frankie, our cats, loved the ornaments, too!!!

Fisher Price Little People Nativity Scene

Lyons Cub’s first nativity scene was from Little People. (He also owns Noah’s Ark, as well as the sled and the castle from Frozen). We have the new version (deluxe) with more characters, where the star lights up when you put the angel on top, and which plays music. It’s lovely, sturdy, and good for the little hands of a 1-year-old. The sheep are huge in relation to the humans 😉

Mix and Match-a-Saurus from VTech

Last Christmas, Lyons Cub got a talking, walking, and dancing dino that ate his pizza 😉 It’s his faithful companion that sings, “I am your dino friend, and I want to play with you!” It has 27 possible combinations of song, dance, and prompts. For a year now, it has survived and brought lots of joy and movement into our living-room. Dino friend comes with a big, orange egg that holds a handful of tiles, each producing different songs, games, and educational prompts. When you don’t play and interact with dino friend for a while, he will tell the child to change a tile on his back. It’s astonishingly agile while still looking cute and child friendly.

Playmobil Advent Calendar Christmas Manger Yellow

Does your toddler have a safe, sturdy nativity scene yet to envisage the birth story of Christ? My son had the Little People manger when he was 1-2 years old, but a year later, he got a Playmobil Advent calendar with this cute nativity scene, which we still use now, shortly before his 4th birthday. The figurines are simple, don’t move much besides standing and sitting, have no movable hands and no little parts that could fall off. The painting is quite detailed and lovely (although the green present looks rather modern and the bunny didn’t figure in the original story). We like this set a lot and set it up under our Christmas tree.

Spiderman Costume and Mask

Lyons Cub was not only fascinated by his Aunty Petra and her beautifully knitted spiders, but also by his Spiderman costume and mask she brought him as a gift!! He’s still running around and impressing grandma with his superhero powers 😉

Matching Dino PJ’s

For this year’s Christmas, Lyons Cub and Lyoness are wearing matching green dino PJ’s 😉 They’re so soft and just perfect for the suddenly rather chilly weather! His are a little big (4-6 years), but he’ll grow into them. The one for me have a mommy and baby dino cuddling on them in front of a Christmas tree (with two tiny dinos to the sides), and his has a single dino wearing a crown. The pants look like a Swedish pattern with elks and snowflakes. He liked them so much he made a little happy dance and raced into my arms through the whole room 😉

Hot Wheels Toxic Gorilla Slam

I have to say, as much as I personally prefer quality wooden toys, this plastic toy is great fun for kids and adults alike! Lyons Cub and Lyoness love to slam the diecast cars right into the gaping mouth of the Hot Wheels green slime gorilla (the slime has to be purchased separately). Just make sure no living being is sitting right in the path of flight! We’ll have to get some extension tracks to make the race track bigger (his birthday is near, so….). We ended up switching off the terrifying noise the gorilla makes. It’s great fun without lights and sounds, too! Who can make the gorilla tumble more often? Lyons Cub is clearly the winner!

Wooden Tetris for Kids’ Strategic Skills Development

Looking for a low-budget educational game that will last many years and brings joy to young and old? We just found it: A revival of the original gameboy Tetris in wood! Totally without screen time and sounds (well, just the laughter of your youngster when the pieces don’t end up as they should and you have to retrace your path to find a different solution to reach your goal!). What a perfect game for wintery days indoors with siblings, parents, or grandparents! There are so many possibilities; there just isn’t one way of winning. And as you can see, your preschoolers will be overjoyed when finishing the game and there isn’t a single hole left over. Great job, Lyons Cub!

Rainbow Wooden Desk Organizer

When looking for a kid-friendly, wooden pencil holder for Lyons Cub, I came across this lovely rainbow desk organizer. It reminded me of the Montessori rainbow puzzle, and it looks so cheery and friendly. My son received it for Christmas, along with sturdy colored pencils, and I am sure he will draw many nice paintings with them.

Pop It for Stress Relief

This fidget toy is not only great for stressed-out littles but also for their parents 😉 If you don’t have a Pop It fidget toy yet and need something for your hands to do while you relax, consider it. On my page, you can read up on its history and that its inventor saw it in a dream about a “field of nipples.” Your kids will just enjoy that it’s pokable from both sides, comes in different shapes and colors, and has been THE TOY to show on the playgrounds since the pandemic… Since Corona, the Pop It had a revival, so to say. Can it be that we’re all more stressed than before? By the way, on my link, you can also watch a monkey pop its Pop It!

Hot Wheels City & the Robo T-Rex Ultimate Garage

For his birthday, Lyons Cub got parts of the Hot Wheels City (the Robo T-Rex Ultimate Garage, the Toxic Snake Strike, the Shark chomp, some curve track pieces, a loop, a couple of ramps, a gravity launch ramp, and a red dragon transporter). My little architect spent hours constructing his city (and especially, playing with the yellow slime of the snake!). What a fun toy also for older kids and the parents 😉 We’re planning to add some more pieces in the future. This toy will grow with him.

Playdough Cupcake Set

Playdough never gets old! On a rainy day, with a sniffle, what’s better than calm indoor play with his beloved playdough? Today, we made cupcakes. Lyons Cub decorated them with hearts, sea shells, and stars, adding icing on top. The playdough that came with the cupcake maker set was pink, pastel blue, and pastel yellow with tiny red and blue confetti chips. Delicious cupcakes with sprinkles!

LEGO Jurassic World T-Rex Dinosaur Fossil Exhibition

Lyons Cub was a good boy at the doctor’s office today, so he was allowed to pick a little gift at the toy store. He went straight for the LEGO T-rex skeleton! It’s too hard to assemble alone for a preschooler, but with mommy’s help, he got a very agile and movable skeleton with an exciting ribcage to explore, movable crested tail fragments, a gaping mouth, and long claws on his feet. Just about everything moves! In addition, there was an educational cart with a dino egg and tooth, a triceratops, a teacher, and a museum visitor, plus a stand for the T-rex. This will be played with for a long time.

… Buy Tonies for the Toniebox before the Price Hike?

Argh, it happened… it was announced in the press that Tonieboxes and Tonies will get more expensive; the pandemic caused higher material and transportation costs, and this had to happen sooner or later. Time to get Lyons Cub some additional Tonies and the earphones he wants, before they kill mommy’s budget…

Hot Wheels City Color-Shifters Sharkport Showdown

This set must not be missing in a Hot Wheels City! Lyons Cub loves his color-shifting cars and shark port that change colors when you put them from iced water into hot water. The shark ejects some of the cars, but most make it into the water pool. Mommies, it’s bet you get some ice cubes ready to keep the water nicely cold! Also, it’s a wet affair, so make sure you have towels nearby or let kiddo play with it outside 😉

The Paw Patrol Lookout Tower

Yippie!!! Finally, at 4.5 years, Lyons Cub doesn’t need diapers anymore. Going potty wasn’t enforced at his German kindergartens (in Clarksville, he had been almost dry at 18 months in his Montessori kindergarten); they were waiting for him to declare he was ready. Well, he is, so he received his gift that had been waiting for him in the closet for the past two years: The Paw Patrol Lookout Tower! It has a movable base to rotate the right dog’s vehicle to the exit of the slide. The platform holds many figurines, and the elevator catapults the dogs high in the air! What fun for 2-4 year-olds.

LEGO Ninjago Jay’s Thunder Dragon

As entry-level LEGO Ninjago toys, I picked Zane’s robot and Jay’s Thunder Dragon for Lyons Cub. He can’t build them yet all by himself, but he loves to play with the intricate weapons and likes the movable limbs of the robot and dragon. The toys are well conceived, delicate, and detailed; with relatively few bricks, they capture the fantasy of preschool and grade school children.

Pokemon and Pokeballs…

Aahhh…. the Pokemon fever has set in!!! My son runs around with his belt and two Pokeballs clipped to it, one of which houses Pikachu. Now, if his friends had some other characters, they could all play together!

Playing Mind Maze

Lyons Cub foraged through the old games I had gotten my husband from online antique markets. We checked out Mind Maze, a game where you have to pull a metal ball with a magnet through a maze without looking. It was fun and quite challenging, so we cheated and looked, or coached 😉

Growing a Hatch’em Dinosaur Egg

Alas, it wasn’t the prettiest dino that hatched after three days in a water bath, but my son was still fascinated by the birth process: After the first night, the egg shell cracked. After the second night, the orange nose peeked through. After the third night, Lyons Cub got impatient and liberated his baby dino!!

Sonic the Hedgehog Costume for Halloween

It’s that time of the year again… This Halloween, Lyons Cub wanted to be Sonic. In the past years, he had been a dragon, Gecko Boy from PJ Masks, a doctor, and a policeman. Now, he couldn’t decide whether to be Mario, Yoshi, or Sonic, but when we looked at costumes on Amazon together, he quickly favored the blue, lightning-fast hedgehog. He put it on immediately when it had arrived in the mail and raced through the living-room. Now, he’ll have to wait until October 31st… Won’t be easy 😉

Carrera Race Track

For our Halloween party, we went to relatives to show off Lyons Cub’s Sonic the Hedgehog disguise, and he also got to play with his older cousin’s Carrera Race Track. If you’re still looking for a great Christmas present for your kid(s), this might be it… Even the parents will join in the fun!

Mr. Kacka Game

Oh dear…. we just wanted to go grocery shopping at ALDI’s and came home with a Mr. Kacka toy!!! My son loves it. You press the yellow handle to flush the toilet, and a die plops out, indicating how often one player has to use the plunger. At some point, Mr. Kacka will jump out of the hole in the top, and the player who catches the poo wins two blue coins for catching it in the air and one coin for catching it on the floor. It’s great fun! And you can really annoy grandmothers with it 😉

Pikachu Hat with Lights and Movable Ears

My son has a new addition from the Christmas Market in Opladen: A Pikachu hat that lights up and can put its ears up straight when you press the paws. It follows him around everywhere, to Christmas Markets, onto merry-go-rounds, and out into the dark when we go out in the evening with our relatives. He even showed it to Saint Nick, who visited him with a bag of goodies on December 6th 😉

Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Tiger Shark

Lyons Cub has admired Tiger Shark on YouTube videos for quite a while now. Surprise, surprise! Saint Nick brought him his very own remote-controlled Tiger Shark! We practiced driving and getting the directions right on straight asphalt first, and then we took his monster truck out to the park, where we had a huge terrain including mud, grass, sand, and stones. He raced against mommy’s truck, and Tiger Shark managed to run over the smaller truck and sit on top of it until it got rescued. Way to go, little race driver 😉

Playmobil knights’ castle

For Christmas, Lyons Cub received his older cousin’s recycled Playmobil knights’ castle, complete with horses, knights, weapons, and dragons. Even if several parts are missing and some of the knights are from a flea market, nothing impedes fun and play. Plus, mommy saved A LOT of money by not buying a new castle!

Hot Wheels Ultimate Parking Garage with Shark

This is Lyons Cub’s second Hot Wheels garage, and it comes with a surprise shark attack (the first one had a robo T-rex). It features a loop, and when lowering the heavy, blue lever, the Hot Wheels cars shoot through the loop, and some land in the shark’s gaping mouth. Others just fall through the garage, roll out at the bottom, or dash through the living-room. If you’re not opposed to that, you’ll have lots of fun with this thing 😉

Plush Bowser from Mario Bros.

My son loves Bowser. When we play wii together, he always wants to be Bowser (and mommy is usually Yoshi). Lyons Cub even wore a carnival Bowser costume on February 18th at the city parade. His plush Bowser (about 26 cm big) is his new sleepy time companion. The spikes are soft, in case you wondered 😉 He wears cool wrist bands and a collar and looks quite scary with his gaping mouth and the big teeth. Not for the weak of heart 😉 But for bigger kids who are Mario Bros. fans, that’s a cool cuddle bug!

Painting by Ivan Beslic: Blue Koopa Shell

For Lyons Cub’s 5th birthday, we went to the art gallery again and got another painting by Ivan Beslic: A blue Koopa Shell. We already have Mario & Luigi and Pikachu. The Koopa Shell is hanging over the TV across from the other two Mario characters, so we can look at them when we play Mario Cart Wii 😉

Bowser Costume for Carnival in Germany

On Feb. 18th, we went to the carnival procession in town to admire the floats and collect candy. Lyons Cub went as Bowser from Mario Bros. His costume was admired by many kids and adults alike. Luckily, he wore warm clothes underneath, because it was very cold and wet. He collected a whole bag full of goodies, and after warming up at home, we got comfy with all the candy and played Mario on our wii 😉

Hudora Stunt Scooter in Orange with Skull Design

It had to be exactly THIS scooter from Hudora, in orange, with a cool skull design. My boy’s birthday wish! He rode it first in the Hugodrom, an indoor playground in the city of Remscheid. Now, he has his own one and can practice his skills (with helmet).

Hot Wheels Super Mario Bros. Jungle Kingdom Race Track

What’s under the Christmas tree this year? A Hot Wheels Mario Cart race track with a Mario car. What great fun to launch off from the toad and race with enough speed through the waterfall, just to return to the start position and go for a second round?

Hot Wheels Corkscrew Crash Track

Hot Wheels City T-Rex Attack

This blue dino with a loop and a tail that shoots the cars out at the end (if they happen to reach it) was another Christmas present for Lyons Cub in 2023. It is not without challenge! Check out his Hot Wheels City components including this dino.

Hot Wheels Crocodile Attack with Pizzeria

This Hot Wheels crocodile with a pizzeria to guard was yet missing in Lyons Cub’s Hot Wheels City. He has connected it to some other components, like the blue T-rex, and it does its job catapulting the Hot Wheel cars through its loop onto the tracks.

Simba Print by Ivan Beslic

Shortly before Christmas, went to Ivan Beslic’s art gallery again and bought another print that fits very well with the others in Lyons Cub’s den 🙂 A little lion!

Lighted Pikachu Statue (Collectible)

My son loves this statue of Pikachu with a lighted ball (the light changes intensity and also flickers). He got it from Ivan Beslic’s art gallery, where his twin brother Kiki also sells baseball cards, paraphernalia, and other sports collectibles as well as lots of different trading cards.

First Bicycle for my Big Boy

After having learned to ride a scooter and having practiced on his cousin’s little 12″ pink bike, my son got his own, 16″-wheel bicycle in his favorite color this Christmas. It came from the Fahrrad XXL online shop, was discounted, and was delivered right to our doorstep. What more can mommy want 🙂

Klutz Lego Gear Bots Science Activity Kit

From his aunty from Carbondale, IL my son got a Lego science kit for Christmas, which teaches him about wheels and camshafts. He can build different monsters out of paper and stick them onto the Lego construction to observe their spinning in different directions, depending on the wheel combination chosen. Very educational, but so difficult that the parents have to build the frame!

Playdough Dentist Set

As a present for having been cooperative at the real dentist’s, what about rewarding your child with a playdough dentist set? Watch Lyons Cub’s video of how to form the tongue, the teeth, and the cavities as he replays what he has observed in real life when he accompanied his mommy to the dentist. What a nice, educational toy 😉

LEGO Polar Bear Christmas Set

We went to the Megabricks store in Monheim at the Rhine River, where children and their parents can build and play with LEGO bricks and meet like-minded families. Mommy bought Lyons Cub a LEGO polar bear Christmas set and built it while he and his friend Giuliana were playing with cars and race tracks and other things…

… Play with an Orbeez Slime Kit?

For all kids who love to experiment with slime and gel beads, the Orbeez Mixin’ Slime Kit is a great find! Lyons Cub enjoys crushing the colorful gel beads and mixing them in with the slime. The milky white ones glow green in the dark!!! We tried it out at night. The set comes with a mixing dome and star and contains two tubes to press the gel beads through. The dark blue beads are micro beads, half the size of the big ones. We love the marbled ones in turquoise, violet, and blue. The slime smells a little bit, but it’s not too bad. If you close the lid tight again, the beads and the slime will last longer and not dry up for quite a while.

Volcano from Playland

Do you also have a kid who loves volcanos? Well, this one here (for 3+ years) with the wooden tracks comes with cold water vapor and glows in the dark, making scary eruption sounds!!! This is the perfect extension set for other wooden tracks and comes with wooden dinos and plants and one plastic, battery-driven train that attaches through magnets to other trains and wagons.

Hot Wheels Mario Kart Track Set Deluxe

Yet another Hot Wheels track to explore! Lyons Cub turned 6 and received a Mario Kart race track that works with four D batteries. It makes a lot of noise, but it is also a lot of fun for two players. The player to lower his flag first wins!

Extensions for Hot Wheels Mario Kart Track Set Deluxe

The piranha plant and the stone monster are two cool additions to insert into Lyons Cub’s race track to make it even more fun.

Rainbow Friends Costume Blue

Lyons Cub wore the Rainbow Friends Blue costume for his kindergarten carnival party, because we didn’t dare to put him in the “blood spatter” Rainbow Friend Green costume 😉 The blue one looked much friendlier and happier (although most kids and the kindergarten teachers had no idea what or who he was supposed to be). The costume is a bit impractical when the kid wants to go pee, since it has to be unzipped by another person in the back. Otherwise, it looked great and washed well at 30 degrees in the machine.

Rainbow Friends Costume Green

My little Roblox fan loves his Rainbow Friends Green costume! It’s even better than the blue one, because it has a practical little zipper in the front. He wore it when we went to the Rhineland carnival parade in the city of Langenfeld, and he was proud to be the only kid with a Rainbow Friend Green costume there 😉 The costume is made of nylon and stretches enough to wear clothes underneath for cold days outside. The eye spacing could be better.

Rainbow Friends Blue Jacket

This Blue Rainbow Friends jacket fit very well with my son’s Blue costume. It’s also made of nylon and is a very light jacket for springtime or slightly windy days over a t-shirt or costume. It doesn’t have lining.

Rainbow Friends Green Jacket

With my son’s Rainbow Friends Green costume, this jacket fit very well. The Rainbow Friends Green jacket shows about every monster from this Roblox show and also looks great with jeans.

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