Building a playground for the holidays.

I have two very conflicting thoughts on Christmas - I LOVE THE FEELING OF CHRISTMAS!! I Love the Christmas celebrations, I love the gatherings, I love saying thank you to friends, co-workers, teachers and neighbours! I love decorating, the music, the lights...the parties, the dressing up, cocktails - friends! I love hot chocolate and cozy fireside nights! I love the magic of Christmas.
Where I sometimes feel conflicted is my children have so much. First and foremost they have love, the have a warm home, they have safety, comfort and support, needless to say they have toys. Toys, toys, toys and STUFF! I don't want to deprive them of the magic, but truly - what more could they need - definitely not more toys!! So I want to take this opportunity for us to help teach our children the importance of giving during the holidays, rather than receiving.
My goal this holiday season is to contribute these elements to the next Playground initiative that Playground Builders is creating.
  1. 1 Swing set $317.00
  2. 1 Slide $391.00
  3. 1 Seesaw $381
  4. 1 community bench $74.00
  5. 1 playhouse $1100.00

So far though our amazing Peekaboo Beans Play Stylist, Beanefactors and sales of my personal stash of Vintage Beans we have raised $1,690.00.
Only $573.00 left to go! 
There is nothing that feels better than being able to give the gift of play this holiday season. 

Introducing our Winter PLAY Challenge reporter

It's the start of the Winter Play Challenge. And what way better to ease into it than crossing off one of the classics? Painting rocks to look like animals. Unfortunately we hit a speed bump right away when we realized we had no paints! But the little ones were quick to think of using felts instead. The two of them immediately dove right into the fun. And I was in complete awe of the way their creativity took over. They chatted about everything from dragons to princesses. And it wasn't long before they were running outside to get some more rocks. We ended up with quite the zoo! We had a crocodile, a snake, a cat, a bumblebee, a turtle, a lady bug and a beetle. And the jungle fever must have gone to their heads, because it wasn't long before they were showing off their scary animal faces.

Don't get left our of all the fun and join our Winter PLAY Challenge HERE!

How far can your $2 go?

Peekaboo Beans wants to give children from all walks of life the opportunity and right to safely play. This is why we have partnered up with Vancouver based non-profit organization, Playground Builders and starting November 1st, Peekaboo Beans will give you the option to purchase a $2 donation to fund Playground Builders with your On-Vine Beans order.  Or if placing an order with a Play Stylist, simply advise them to add the $2 donation to your total.  Peekaboo Beans is on a mission with our Play Revolution to bring PLAY back into the lives of children everywhere.  Our children are playing less than any previous generations, and this lack of play is causing them profound physical, intellectual, social and emotional harm. Experts say our kids are experiencing a Play Deficit.  As parents we need to and support our child's right to develop and grow in a natural and healthy way, no matter what walk of life we are from. 
You can find and add the $2 donation to your Peekaboo Beans order under our Really Neat Things section in the On-Vine Site HERE.  See our Ingredients of a Playground below to find out exactly how your contribution will be used in order to bring PLAY back into the lives of children everywhere.
A bit about Playground Builders:
Playground Builders is a nonprofit that builds playgrounds for children in war-torn areas. There is often no safe place for children in these communities to play. Most have never experienced the joy of a swing or the thrill of a slide. Playground Builders is dedicated to building hope and peace through the gift of play.
To date, they have supported the construction of more than 100 playgrounds throughout Afghanistan, Iraq and the Palestinian Territories. But this is just the beginning. There are many more children, schools, orphanages and communities in dire need of safe havens for play.  Playgournd Buliders are building hope, one playground at a time.
Play builders logo
Visit their website to find out more about Playground Builders.

Our Play Stylists Paying it Forward

Sharing stories of our Peekaboo Beans Play Stylists Paying it Forward
Taking some inspiration from the 'Keepin it Real' event that was hosted at the Peekaboo Beans   Playground in August, on Saturday September 15th, I had the pleasure of hosting my own Keeping it Real - an event for tweens in Ottawa. I could not have imagined a better response or turnout for the event. A friend who owns her own home organization company, Heather or Smart Space Organizing, offered her office space for the event. With Heather's many business contacts, we were able to get some donations for swag bags, including Dove shampoo and deodorant, 3M post it notes and biodegradable pens, and even personalized Mabels Labels tween packs, which were a HUGE hit with the girls. I included some mini CiCi Bean catalogs as well.

The event was advertised on Facebook, Twitter and Eventbrite. Both Heather and I also sent out the information through our newsletter lists. I had 25 RSVPs, and more than 20 tweens (ages 8-14) and their moms arrived for an afternoon event! I was so happy with the response! Almost everyone arrived early, hoping to be one of the first to get a swag bag (I had advertised that there was a limited amount). By 1:00pm the room was buzzing with conversation about real beauty!
Another friend who owns her own photography business, Julie, offered to come and take photos of the tweens and their moms. We had motivational signs for the girls to hold with messages like:
I love you because.
When I see you I see.
I hope you can see how amazing you are.
The best part of me is...
Let your heart be your guide.
Happiness is the secret to all beauty.
A smile is the best kind of makeup a girl can wear.
One mom/tween pair chose to write their own message and not show each other. It will be a surprise once they see the photos. We had moms tearing up as they were touched by the power of the motivational signs.

keepin it real 2
Around the office walls I had posted large sheets of paper with a question prompt on each one. The girls were given markers and crayons and invited to answer the questions. What happened was a personal and intimate conversation between moms and daughters as they answered each questions. I overheard a lot of tweens asking their moms of their opinions, and moms redirecting the questions to their daughters, prompting them to think deeper and come up with their own opinions. It was beautiful to see this bonding experience, in a safe environment, where moms could really connect with their daughters and think about some hard questions that tweens are facing.
Heather provided some organizational activities in the boardroom. One activity involved asking the tweens and their moms to empty the contents of a bag and organize them. The objective was to show how we all think differently about organizing, and that to a tween her room may be untidy but organized in a way that works for her. It was an eye opening activity for sure!
We also had snacks and punch in the kitchen, and invited everyone to help themselves.

keepin it real3

At the back of the space I had my rack of Peekaboo Beans and CiCi Beans samples to try on. I invited the girls to give me their feedback about the line, without any pressure to buy. The focus of the event was really on making a connection between tweens and moms, and raising awareness of how important it is to talk to our kids about hard questions like: "Do you find some people easier or harder to talk with? Why do you think this is? How important is it to be able to express yourself effectively?" The energy in the room was vibrant, and just by looking around at the pairs of moms and daughters, I could tell there were moments of connecting. One tween answered the prompt "Why did you decide to come to Keeping it Real" with the answer "to spend quality time with my mom."
keepin it real

I was honestly so inspired by the answers the girls gave to the questions about beauty. As a parent of young children, but also as a teacher who often teaches tweens, I realized that this age group has far strong opinions and knowledge about self and beauty than I ever realized.
Heather and I are already teaming up to host a 2nd Keepin it Real event in November, which will include a tween yoga session and also a talk about budgeting and finances for tweens. I can't wait to share with you how it goes, I know it will be even better than the first one!

In love and play, Vicky Bisson
Peekaboo Beans Play Stylist, Ottawa

Moments that matter

Momspeak: In parenting, the ‘5 percent’ moments are what matter

Checking homework. Making lunches. Shuttling to soccer practice, music lessons, doctor’s appointments. Finding money for soccer uniforms, musical instruments, out-of-pocket co-pays. Much of what we do as parents, as much as 95 percent, is a largely thankless grind. We do it without thinking because if we actually thought about it, we’d never get out of bed in the morning.
But this is not a column complaining about the 95 percent of what we do that goes unnoticed, what the great Anna Quindlen calls “transcendent scut work.” I’m writing about the other 5 percent, and why that is the ultimate measure of parents. It is that 5 percent that makes all the difference.
This thought occurred to me while watching “Finding Nemo” on a big screen, in 3-D, with my 16-year-old twin sons. Christopher, who would dissect and analyze the merits of every Pixar movie ever made, had been talking about seeing “Nemo” in 3-D for months. But then I read Post colleague Jen Chaney’s cogent analysis: “As lovely as ‘Finding Nemo 3D’ is, the current economy compels me to recommend that it’s probably best to save your money, watch it in the family room and let your children’s imaginations conjure thoughts of just how vast Nemo’s ocean must be.”
That made a lot of sense to me, and so I groaned internally when Christopher asked if we could go see it. A Saturday afternoon and $30 gone. But as I sat in the theater seeing Nemo’s ocean ripple and sway and come to life for the first time on a big screen, I came to the realization that this was one of those 5 percent moments. Could my kids live full, complete, successful lives without ever seeing “Finding Nemo” on anything bigger than a 27-inch screen? Absolutely.
But here’s the problem with that. Until you experience “Nemo” as director Andrew Stanton intended it to be viewed, you don’t know what you’re missing. There is less joy in your life, but you don’t even realize it. Your life is incrementally (say, by 5 percent) less beautiful, less realized, less fulfilling.
This 5 percent theory factored into our decision to adopt a new dog, just weeks after our beloved family pet passed away. We found that all the things that annoyed us about the dog when she was alive were the things we missed most acutely when she was gone. No one to beg for food at the table. No one to wake you at 5:30 a.m. No one to nuzzle into your leg or look into your face with such unconditional love.
We could have gotten used to a house without a dog. But that’s exactly what I didn’t want to happen. I didn’t want us to grow accustomed to there being 5 percent less laughter, 5 percent less love, 5 percent less joy in the house.
My son Andrew is taking an AP art history class this year. At back-to-school night his teacher conceded that this was not a course anybody needed to take to succeed in life. That’s precisely why she loves teaching it so much. It’s the class that makes the 5 percent difference. It’s hard, I know, after spending far too many waking hours doing the 95 percent to do even more. And what that 5 percent is will be different for every family, maybe for every child. Perhaps it’s a walk in the woods or a trip to see the painting of John Brown at the Portrait Gallery. Perhaps it’s ice cream for breakfast once in a while or staying in your pajamas all day long. Perhaps it’s reading aloud all seven Harry Potter books or seeing “Nemo” on the big screen.
You will discover what the 5 percent is for your family. It’s well worth the search. Tell us about your “5 percent” moments in the comments section.
Grant, the editor of KidsPost, writes about parenting issues every other week.
Originally Posted in The Washington Post - October 3, 2012

Winter PLAY Challenge

You're Invited!  Peekaboo Beans Winter PLAY Challenge.
So much like our popular Summer PLAY Challenge, we are now inviting you and your families to take part in our Winter PLAY Challenge.  Peekaboo Beans introduced this challenge because we feel that just because the weather gets a bit cooler and darkness comes a bit earlier, these shouldn't be excuses to stay indoors and forgo what wonderful elements nature has to offer us.  So bundle up, grab some hot pockets and go on some adventures and child friendly excursions with our Winter PLAY Challenge
We have collected a variety of activities for you and the kids to complete.  Most of them are outdoors, however, we realize that indoor play can still be an option.  So jump in and get going!  Even though Winter has not yet officially started, there's no better time than now to create some fun and unique memories. 
Our children are playing less than any previous generation and this lack of play is causing them profound physical, intellectual, social and emotional harm. Experts say our kids are experiencing a play deficit. Parents are choosing structured recreational and sports activities over free play partly because they no longer consider neighborhoods safe for independent play. Children are being over scheduled and their brains are tiring out. They lack the time and space to diffuse and relax.
On average, children engage in 7 hours and 38 minutes of recreational media usage each day. Without ample play, we will continue to see a decrease in creativity and imagination, as well as vital skills including curiosity, social skills, resiliency and the ability to assess risk.
Peekaboo Beans is on a mission to not let kids of today experience this play deficit by doing what we can to get them playing outdoors and having fun. They need this free time and free play in order to become happy healthy human beans! It's not a option, it's a necessity!
We encourage you to join the Winter PLAY Challenge with your family and embrace the opportunity to experience some creative outdoor activities and fun adventures during the long and chilly months. Peekaboo Beans Winter PLAY Challenge is here to help bring fun back into your life and connect with your children through sharing time together, having fun with one another and PLAYING!
Click HERE to download your printable copy
Challenge Instructions:
Print off a copy of the Winter PLAY Challenge, post to your fridge, bulletin board etc, and during the winter months of November and March, see how many of these fun activities you can accomplish. Check them off as you go and feel free to update us with summaries of your adventures. Share with us your stories, which ones your kids enjoyed the most, how did you make each activity your own? Whatever you want to say, we would love to hear! Most important of all, have fun and enjoy the time you will spend with your family! Now get out there and PLAY!
For the Mommy Bloggers out there participating in our Winter PLAY Challenge,
grab our button below and let us know who you are by emailing so we can link up with you!

Pop Up Playdates

Kids in this day and age are experiencing a serious Play Deficit.  And as parents, we all need to band together and do something about it.  Peekaboo Beans introduced our Play Revolution to the world in March, earlier this year, and to continue on our quest to get kids outside and experience the simple act of unstructured PLAY we are hosting a whole series of random Pop Up Playdates.  And the sole purpose of these Pop Up Playdates is simple.... get kids outside and playing!  They need this, they need free play and lots of it... to become happy, healthy human beans.

So we are launching our first round of Pop Up Playdates this month in the Greater Vancouver area, and what could be a better time of year to do this than at the very start of our winter season.  So bundle up your beans and get ready to join us for a Playdate full of PLAY!

Stayed tuned for the release of the dates and locations later this week.