Welcome to Trips 'n Toys!

Welcome to Trips 'n Toys!

Ice on the Landing - Chattanooga, TN

It's not every day you get to go ice skating when you live in the South, so this was definitely an extra special treat. The downside is, when you don't go ice skating every day, you tend to stink at.

This wasn't exactly the most fruitful investment we've ever made, but it's one of those things that you have to try, at least to know you tried!

Gearing Up!

Ice Princesses

Are You Brave Enough, Bibby?

As for the critique, I'm going to go out on a limb and assume there are probably better places to try your hand at ice torture, um, I mean, ice skating, than a temporary rink set up and ran by iphone-wielding teenagers who were also NOT raised in an icy biome. Everyone was friendly, but not super helpful. The cashier knew how to take your $10, but not much else.  The rest of the staff seemed more interested in coordinating a group pizza order.

After struggling for a while, we decided to rent "Ice Buddies" for $4 each. The blue plastic units that resembled handicapped walking devices looked super-useful in helping the little kids learn to position themselves on the ice. But apparently, if you're over 5 feet tall, you get an actual handicapped walking device.

If you are concerned about looking socially awkward, I'd already discourage the use of an Ice Buddy. Since I'm not the slightest bit concerned about social awkwardness (if I were I'd never leave the house and this blog would simply be toys.blogspot.com) we attempted to give these gizmos a try.

All awkwardness aside, they were still pretty useless. They didn't slide at all. If you're over 5 feet tall, suck it up and learn to skate without an Ice Buddy. Instead, spend your $4 on hot cocoa. Or butt padding.

If you have experience skating, this might be fun. But, then again, if you have experience skating, is it fun to dodge the dozens of people around you that don't know what the heck they are doing?

$10 per person seems a little expensive for Ice Bumper Cars, whether you are the car or the bump.

But, even with our egos bruised as badly as our derrieres, it's still an afternoon spent with friends.

And THAT is what it's all about!

Viga Wooden Cupcakes & Dessert Tier

Viga Wooden Cupcakes & Dessert Tier

Pictured here are two absolutely stunning wooden dessert sets from the Viga company.

The first is a 12 piece set that includes 11 cupcakes, donuts, and cake slices and one beautiful pink dessert tier.

The second is an add-on set that includes an additional 6 cupcakes and cake slices.

Of all the wooden bakery themed toy sets we ordered to go with Ribby's Bakery, these are probably my favorite. The wood is solid. The finishes are beautiful! The details are absolutely adorable!

The tier requires about 2 minutes worth of simple assembly. The cake slices with the tier come individually wrapped in tissue and plastic wrap, which probably takes another 2 minutes to finagle.  The add on set of cake slices come in a cute little tray made of thick cardboard. I'm sure the tray is meant to be disposable, but we've actually been using it for a tray in Ribby's Bakery. The most popular thing on her menu is the "6 Pack of Ribby Cakes" and this tray is a great way to serve up the fun!

The only place in the United States I've been able to find these products is on Amazon. If you're in the market for adorable wooden food toys for your kiddos, I'd recommend heading over to Amazon and checking out the Viga line!

Djeco Tom & Charlotte Bakery

Djeco Tom & Charlotte Bakery

For Christmas, we refinished a few pieces of furniture for Ribby's new room, which will surely be it's own post at some point. We turned an old handcrafted entertainment center into a Doc McStuffins-inspired Doctor's Office, and we turned some sort of old cherry hutch into a bakery.

We're also still working on turning a desk center hutch into a kitchen. We have a few other small pieces for which we're brainstorming ideas. All of these things are still very much a work in progress, but Ribby's Bakery gets cuter and cuter every day!

One of the reasons her room is so gosh-darned cute is because of toymakers like Djeco. This particular collection, called the Tom & Charlotte Bakery, is unbelievably adorable. It's a pricy little booger, I'm not going to lie and say it wasn't, but it's definitely a hit!

I bit the bullet and made the investment on this amazing toy constructed of painted wood and felt for two primary reasons beyond just being cute. First, it comes with a menu card that can serve a purpose during creative play, but also because it keeps the toy educational in nature. I was actually hoping it came with multiple cards that could help teach Ribby visual discrimination and following directions while she used the cards to create her baked goods, but it's just the one card. But, even so, it's useful.

Secondly, all the pieces stack together on stacker pegs and can be mixed and matched to create "custom orders" as the kids call them. This is great for developing and honing manual dexterity and fine motor skills. And even better, because the kids don't even know they're learning, they just think they are being creative!

Stay tuned for more blog entries on wooden baked goods and desserts, photos of Ribby's Bakery and Doctor's Office, and how it all comes together.

Merry Christmas from Trips 'n Toys!

From Our Family to Yours!
Merry Christmas!

Waiting for Santa!

Christmas Magic!

Star Wars Bound!

Getting ready to head out to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Bibby decided she wanted to put a little effort into the evening's festivities, and encouraged everyone to join her.

The kids have been working hard all week catching up on the Star Wars Saga by rewatching all the previous episodes. 

Prepared well, they have.

Pickett State Park Christmas Party - Jamestown, TN

Hosted by the Friends of Pickett State Park in Pickett County, Tennessee, this Christmas Party was a great deal of fun!

Luckily, the weather this winter was pretty mild temperature-wise, so that helped make the outdoor activities more bearable. But inside the recreation lodge where a bulk of the activities were held, it was nice and toasty warm with multiple fires burning bright.

Refreshments were available; from veggies, to sugar cookies and gingerbread men. Hot cocoa and hot cider were plentiful.

Several craft stations were set up, including making owls out of pinecones and felt; rubber stamping on hand-cut log slices; jingle bell fingerpainting; birdfeeder pinecones; and cinnamon tree ornaments.

Tractor-pulled hayrides were offered throughout the afternoon that circled both sides of the lake.

The highlight of the afternoon was the guest of honor, Kris Kringle himself. The kids were all fascinated as rangers directed their attention to the lake. And who should appear, but Santa Claus, crossing the lake on a canoe! Once ashore, Santa joined the kids in the lodge and gave out candy canes to the children as they shared their Christmas wishes.

Pickett State Park is a great destination for families wanting a natural getaway in Central Tennessee. We've visited countless times over the years. Around holidays, the campgrounds and cabin areas are usually at capacity; but at most other times, the pace is pretty relaxed. There are multiple playgrounds throughout the park, including a brand new one for younger kids that has been installed within the past few months. There is a tennis court, and plenty of lakeside picnic tables. A swinging bridge spans the lake and leads to some great forest hiking.

Bear and beaver sightings are quite common. Visit during spring to witness amphibian activity in the shallow shore areas. During summer, they have ranger-led educational activities almost every day of the week. Canoe programs are available. You can even hike down to Hazard Cave at night to see the glow worms! How cool is that?

Oh, Christmas Tree!

Checking out our town's larger-than-life Christmas decor.
Yes, please, I'll take some of these cuties under my tree!

The Office of Dr. Ribby... Opening Soon!

We've been refinishing and repurposing an old handmade entertainment center into a Doctor's Office for Dr. Ribby.

It's still a work in progress, but here's a Sneak Peek:

Keep checking back for more progress!

Ogie's NERFday Birthday Loot

Ogie, our resident NERF Junkie, wanted to post his birthday loot, and share his opinions on them:

Happy NERFday, Ogie!

Now, I'm no Pinterest-worthy cake baker...  So, don't judge me...  :)

And on top of that, the "H" had a little accident of its own.

Hopefully I can find a few more pics to add, but I had a memory chip go rogue on me and eat about 1,000 photos, unfortunately including my baby boy's 8th birthday party.

But, all that aside, and Ogie had a pretty fun birthday. We baked him a nifty little NERFday cake and held his party in his favorite backyard hide-out. Bibby designed targets and hung them on different trees so they could have a shoot out after we enjoyed cake and ice cream.

Special thanks to Gramma and Daddy for hanging out with us, and helping us get the table and all the chairs into the Secret Hideout!

Happy Birthday, Ogie!

Mommy loves you!

Sweet 16!

When you're not ready to do the whole car and license thing on your kid's 16th birthday, it gets a little trickier to think of something that will create memories that stand the test of time. After all, a 16th birthday is a very special milestone in a girl's life and should be celebrated as such.

I'm very fortunate that I have raised 4 wonderful, humble, and modest children, and my oldest in particular doesn't ask much at all. So she chose to spend her special day with her best friend.

We originally planned on taking the girls to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg for a day of shopping, hanging out, and eating some yummy goodies...  But, Mother Nature was not a happy camper that day, and it poured NON-STOP.

So, instead we ended up in the Knoxville area. The girls did their shopping at the West Town Mall, and then we ate lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. After all, what could be yummier than CHEESECAKE?

After our meal, we got the waiter in on the deal, and he brought Bear a VERY special dessert.

Happy Birthday, Baby Bear!