Bannor Toys: Handmade Wooden Toys

Brotherhood with Kacie Case

You know her as Mama Case, but three of the world's cutest kids call her Mama.  Kacie Case joins us this week to chat about sibling love and just how amazing it is.  Disclaimer: Ray's cheeks will melt your heart.  For real.  You've been warned!

_________________________

Mothers are told, just before they have their second baby, "Don't worry. Your heart will just expand."

But we all doubt it. I looked at Eddy, 2 years old and with a fresh, heavy type 1 diabetes diagnosis, and was devastated at the thought of him having to share my attention. I reminded myself daily that I adore my own siblings and that life wouldn't be the same without them. I was over the moon to be giving Eddy a sibling and for our family to grow but I was wracked with guilt.
And then Rocky barreled into our lives. Quickly. I joked that his labor gave me whiplash. We thought that maybe it was a sign of his personality - like a little tornado. We learned almost immediately that rather it was a sign that he didn't want to make things harder. From the moment we knew him, we could see patience and kindness. He wasn't needy, just easy going and happy. It was as though he was telling us not to worry, no big deal, take care of Eddy and I'll be right here waiting. We were all enamored, Eddy included.  
We watched Eddy offer love to Rocky and were just floored. His love was immediate and so natural. Before long, neither of them wanted to be to far from each other. I loved Rocky the moment I met him, just as I did Eddy, but my heart blew wide open when I saw a love grow that existed independent of me.
How do you teach your kids to love? I don't even know the answer. The best I can figure out is to just love them, to show them how it feels and hope that it shows them how to give it to others.

Having faith in that unshakable sibling love, I didn't have the same worries before Ray was born. He came quietly in the middle of the night, the day before Christmas. His two big brothers woke up to the news and I was again able to witness the birth of new love. Eddy and Rocky met Ray for the first time with absolute wonder and adoration.
Ray falls asleep to the sound of his big brothers playing, he stops crying when they are near, and moves his legs and arms with all his might when he watches them run past. 
Motherhood is not without its bumps - 3 times the bumps now - but this brotherhood is giving me life. 
_________________________

 

What'd we tell ya?!  Cheeks for days and a whole lotta love between these three boys.  You can catch up with Kacie and her crew on her Instagram page here!

SURPRISE! with Anne Hill

We've been a fan of Anne Hill's work for some time, and we're elated to have her joining us today to chat about the surprise that is her third pregnancy.  Anne's story is real and emotionally charged and we love her for that!  Let's take a moment to join Anne on her surprise journey and celebrate her baby boy who is due to join her family any day now...
_________________________
_______________
 
Anne Hill for Bannor Toys
                                                                                                                             
It feels like yesterday I was sitting in my parent’s bathroom, waiting for the pregnancy test I’d bought to show negative so I could move on with the rest of my day knowing I just had the stomach flu. Except it didn’t show negative. There was a big pink plus sign staring me in the face, shocking me to the core.

I’m a planner by nature and this was not in the plan. We had just spent the past month packing up our home and moving from Canada to Alaska, we were living in my parent’s basement temporarily, and looking for a permanent job with insurance. Oh no, this was far from the plan.

I’d love to say I was excited and then terrified, but at the start I was only completely shocked. I showed my husband who was equally shocked and we just cried and laughed together. How was this happening? We had no idea, but the fact remained, it was indeed happening!

The next few months were the sickest I’ve ever been in my life. I honestly thought I might be dying (I’m dramatic!) and was feeling so stressed that I was having this baby when I could barely take care of the two kids I already had. Physically and mentally this was a low in my life and I knew I had to do something about it besides feel upset.        
              
Anne HIll for Bannor Toys

Flash forward to now. I am about to have three kids! My husband and I are about to be outnumbered and it’s wildly exciting, and still a little bit terrifying, but mostly we are so excited! It took me the entire nine months of my pregnancy to arrive at this point, but I’m here! It wasn’t easy, and it took a lot of coping mechanisms, so I wanted to share them with you in hopes it can help a fellow mom who finds herself staring at the other end of a surprise positive test.

1) Let yourself feel all the feelings

If this is a total shock to you chances are you’re going to go through a wide range of emotions. Let’s face it; some of them might be negative. They certainly were for me. Don’t feel guilty about having negative feelings. Go ahead and let yourself feel it. Grieve seems like a strong word, but I gave myself a grieving period where I could feel badly about it, because that’s what I needed at the time. It was so helpful for me to finally give myself permission to feel this way, and opened the door for me to move past it.

2) Rely on your village

When you haven’t planned on having a baby there are likely a lot of plans you need to get in place to make everything work. Chances are between you and your spouse you’re going to need extra help, and I’m here to tell you, TAKE IT! I would have never survived the first few weeks and months of my pregnancy without the help of my family. I felt absolutely terrible that I was so sick I could barely care for my kids. I’m a pretty independent person, and it was out of my comfort zone to hand over control so much, but I’m so happy I did. It taught me that things would be ok even when I’m not doing everything. It taught me there would be help to come when this next baby came too. So reach out for help, accept help from others, and rely on your village.        
                          
Anne Hill for Bannor Toys

3) Find a healthy coping mechanism

Even with the help of family I still had lots of stress and anxiety about having another baby. Being the emotional eater I am I tried to fill that void with chocolate, but turns out I was just eating a lot of chocolate and not solving the problem at all! I searched out coping mechanisms for stress and anxiety and turned to meditation to help me. This was exactly what I needed and I have practiced it for most of my pregnancy. Also, exercise was a wonderful help to deal with these feelings.  Any healthy way you can cope with the feelings you have will really help.

4) Get excited!

It might take a little bit to get there, but take steps to get excited about your bundle of joy! Buy some cute baby things, rejoice in the feeling of baby kicks, have a gender reveal party. Anything that helps to celebrate the miracle that is having a child can really add to your excitement and anticipation. Each step along the way I took to be excited about this baby has led me to my current state of total excitement and anticipation of our baby’s arrival!
 
Many of us have gone through a surprise pregnancy, and ultimately we each learn to deal with it in our own way. These things helped me and I hope they will benefit you as you prepare to welcome your new baby! You’ve got this.          
                                          
Anne Hill for Bannor Toys
____________________________
____________________
                                                                                                                                 
We are anxiously waiting  to meet you, little man!  Thank you so much, Anne, for opening your heart for us and for sharing your story.  You can find Anne and her adorable family on her Instagram page here.

Up Close and Personal with Amy Lou Hawthorne

We have declared that this year is about you, our customer.  We want to get to know you, and we also want to introduce you to some of the most amazing women we have the pleasure of knowing and working with.  Women who have offered to open their hearts and share their experiences with us. Today we are so excited to introduce you to Amy Lou Hawthorne.  A wife and a working military mama of two beautiful little girls, this party planning extraordinaire's brutal honesty will have you wanting to grab a coffee and roam the aisles of Target with her.  Friends, let's turn it over to Amy...

...............

Beautifully imperfect motherhood. Hard and easy. Up and down. Painful and joyful. Beautiful and ugly. Perfect and imperfect. Motherhood: beautiful and imperfect in so many ways.

I’ve thought about what to write in this blog post for over a month now, and as I sit here in Starbucks with my newest little lady asleep in the stroller next to me, I realize that the reason it’s been so hard to figure out what I want to say is because there’s so much to say. I was asked to write about “love.” One of the most powerful words in existence that is only multiplied a million fold after you add “mother” to your resume. Love and motherhood are nearly synonymous and that feeling of love for your children begins long before conception.

 

Amy Lou Hawthorne for Bannor Toys

 

For many, loving children began when you were a little girl. How do I know? Because I’m watching my oldest daughter Everly, at the tender age of 2, longing to comfort, protect and nurture her 2 month old little sister, simply because she knows that’s what mothers do. But it’s not until you’re going through the beautifully imperfect days, nights, weeks, months and years of motherhood that I believe you fully understand the depth and vastness of that love. That same love you felt as a 2 year old little girl.

It’s that spilled grape juice all over your new white rug, but the hug and “I sawwie” that follows that makes you forget. It’s that terrible night of sleep with a newborn who won’t stop crying, but the first smile in the morning that rejuvenates you for a new day. It’s that worry that they may not be developing fast enough, but then the first “mama”, that first giggle, that first step that reminds you that all kids grow up at different rates. It’s that Target tantrum that boils your blood, but the kind lady that says you’re doing such a great job that reminds you- it’s all for love. It’s all for those tiny little humans that break you down to your lows and bring you up to your highs, because we just want to do our best and love them well.

 

 

Blake and I knew we wanted to have kids when we got married in 2011. What we didn’t know is that in December of 2012 we’d be faced with divorce papers at our kitchen table. The same table we imagined to one day sit at on Christmas morning as a family with kids of our own. When we were at our rock bottom, one thing kept reminding me to fight for our love. I wanted to see him as a daddy. I didn’t want to lose the chance to mother his kids. I wanted to have Christmas morning with him as a family. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to our forever. By the grace of God and our willingness to fight for the love we promised to one another, in August of 2013 we renewed the sanctity of our vows in a quaint, beautiful ceremony in Fiji. Since then, we have continued to rekindle our fire and we continue to fall more and more in love with each other every day. He’s now the father to our two beautiful girls, and I get to watch him rock this daddy thing like a king. He’s so good for my soul, and I’m so grateful we fought for our love.

I always knew he’d be a good papa bear and that I’d be a good mama bear. I never questioned that. But the moment we drove away from the hospital with our first (Everly) fear set in, and the realization that Blake and I had no idea what we were doing came over my body. While I felt more prepared for my second (Hadley), the fears this time around were “Am I doing the right thing in taking away all of Everly’s attention and giving her a sibling?” “How am I ever going to love Hadley as much as I love Everly?” You always hear, “love doesn’t divide but it multiplies”, and to be brutally honest…I didn’t know if I fully believed it. These are all common thoughts, and I share this to say it’s okay if you have these same thoughts. I won’t share what’s right or what’s wrong or how you can make it better, but I will share that the same love that’s gotten you through all of those hard times before will get you through these hard times of uncertainty now.

I want my girls to see a mommy who doesn’t lose all her marbles at the drop of spilled grape juice. I want my girls to see a mommy who even after a night of no sleep still wakes up with a smile on her face. (just after a cup of coffee). I want my girls to see a mommy who doesn’t compare her kids to others and embraces our families’ development journey. I want my girls to see a mommy who disciplines her girls in Target the best way I can, just knowing I’m trying my very best.

 Amy Lou Hawthorne for Bannor Toys

 

We are their biggest role models. We are who they want to be. Our children are growing up in a difficult generation. The added pressures of social media and continuous technological advancements can lead us down the wrong road to our future if we aren’t careful. It’s these developments that take away from the genuine sincerity of a hand written letter and face-to-face conversations. It’s these developments that take innocent kids away from handmade, beautiful wood toys and turn them towards cell phones and tablets. It’s these developments that can make my little 2 year old girl care more about the things of the world than watching mommy and daddy and learning how to love in her future.

 I pray we make love a priority. I pray we work harder to teach our children what matters most. I pray for simplicity in the midst of this complex, continuously advancing world. Now more than ever, the way we parent our tiniest little humans will shape their future.

I’ll be your biggest fan if you’ll be mine. Let’s stop comparing and stop reaching for Pinterest worthy lives. Let’s cheer each other on and rock this beautifully imperfect parenthood thing together. Let’s smile. Let’s dance. Let’s laugh. Let’s love. 

...............

 See, we told you so!  Amazing, right?!  You can catch up with Amy and her adorable family on her Instagram page (@amylouhawthorne). 💗

-2017-

Hi ya'll!  Stacey here, I wanted to say hello quick and tell you about some exciting things we're doing.  We've been in business now for almost 6 years, and this year we are focusing on you.  You are so important to us that were bringing some things back to basics and connecting on a more personal level.  First, we've updated shipping in the shop, the most you will pay is $3.99, and if you spend $75 or more you will only pay $0.99!   While the trend has been for online stores to move toward free shipping, they are having to increase their prices by up to 30%. That is not hyperbole, compare prices. :)  We want to leave the choice of how much you spend up to you and so we have left our prices as low as possible and we have lowered shipping prices to what we feel it fair for all.  Jesse and I have also been hard at work on new toys for a long while now, and 5 of them are in the store (+ on sale)!  You'll find 3 new wand shapes, a heart, butterfly, and rocket (because, blast off!).   Ethan also talked us into making a new camping matching game, he (+ we) hope you'll love it!  Our last new toy this month is a set of all cherry ABC picture blocks.  You all have loved the maple animal set, so we made a set that included more than just animals!  My favorite block is probably the T block, for T-Rex!   Let us know which block is your favorite?  We have so many new adventures planned for 2017, so let's get started!

 

 

First up, our Valentines Sale that is taking place right now!!  We're celebrating LOVE this coming month and want to share a little love with you!  All the toys below (+ some) are on sale with no code needed!  Sale prices valid through 2/7, and anything ordered by the end of the sale will ship in time for your little ones Valentine's day! 

 

 

Mark your calendars, Bannor Toys is on the move this year and we have a few pop-up shops scheduled!  First up... the Kansas City Pop-Up Shop!  We're joining an amazing line-up of your some of your favorite small shops to bring you all kinds of awesome products.  Keep watching for updates on our social media accounts!

 

 

You can also expect some amazing things right here on our blog this year!  We have invited some of our favorite mamas to join us and share their life experiences with you!  These women will have you rolling on the ground laughing one second and then crying good tears another.  First up, we will have Amy Lou Hawthorn chatting with us about LOVE on the 13th.  Amy is one of those moms whose brutal honesty will make you feel like you could be Bffs, and her two adorable girls will have you smiling from ear to ear.  You can catch-up with Amy and her uber adorable family right here on her Instagram account.

 

 

Last but certainly not least, we want to talk about community.   It is a word that holds a whole lotta weight with all of us here at Bannor Toys.  It is because of our community that Bannor Toys is what we are today.  This is why we have created a new space for our customers to come together and have the chance to be more than a customer.  We want Bannor Toys to be less about a transaction and more about family, about community.  We want to meet you, get to know you, see pictures of your littles, and pick your brain!  With that being said, we are so excited to introduce you to Bannor Toys Collective!  We are inviting you to join us and have a voice in what you would like to see from us.  At BTC you will have the chance to see what's new in our shop first, test toys, and share your life experiences with us.  Here our customers can ask questions, share opinions, and be an integral part of how we can work for you.  You can join in all of the fun here!  And, if you know someone who you think could benefit from our group invite them to join us too.  We are so excited to have the chance to get to know you.  Won't you join us??

 

 

Small Shop Promo

The shopping event of the season is just around the corner!  We've teamed up with over 100 of your favorite handmade shops to bring you the Shop Small Promo sale just in time for the holidays.  This sale will begin at 12:00 AM EST Friday, November 18th and will run for 24 hours.  
We recommend making a wish list before the event to ensure you grab everything on your shopping list.  Check out all of the amazing shops participating here.  Get ready to shop 'til you drop!  We can't wait to see what you are sharing with your family and friends this holiday season.