Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mother Goose at kiddywampus next Tuesday!

Fresh from the Zenon Dance Company...join us for your chance to hobnob with Mother Goose!

Tuesday, Dec. 16th from 3-4 pm

This interactive storytime will delight as Mother Goose shares her classic nursery rhymes and tales with added fun and fantasy. It will also give you the chance to meet her (and even get her autograph) before seeing her onstage with Zenon Dance Company at The Southern Theater in THE NUTCRACKER ACCORDING TO MOTHER GOOSE December 13-21.

Please rsvp by commenting to this blog.

Monday, December 8, 2008

free storytime this Friday with illustrator Holly Welch!

Please join us for a free storytime this Friay morning at 10:30 am featuring illustrator Holly Welch as she reads her new work, Inside All.

We at kiddywampus have been a fan of Holly's work since we first met shortly after kiddywampus opened, and are thrilled to share her work with others.

Holly will also be available for book signings after the reading.

Space is limited to 25 kids (ages 2-6 for the reading, sibs always welcome); to rsvp, please reply to this blog with the # of kids you're bringing.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

thank you

An enormous and heartfelt "thank you" to all the customers, colleagues and friends who've expressed sympathy at the passing of my mother last Thursday from cancer. A private service will be held for her tomorrow, on what would have been her 67th birthday. I don't know how she did it, but she gave me more than she had to give. I miss her terribly.

Thanks, all.

Monday, October 27, 2008

join Mom Culture and kiddywampus at the Walker

Here's an organization we love...Mom Culture offers moms and dads a variety of parent-oriented daytime arts + entertainment events that are intended to be shared with children .
On Nov. 18 join Mom Culture's private tour of the Walker Art Center's "Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future" -- you'll gain insight about this iconic figure and his impact through design.

And kiddywampus is proud to partner with Mom Culture and Abrakadoodle to create a Kid Culture Art Class for kids age 2-5 that will take place while parents tour the Saarinen show. The class will be held in the Walker's art lab. Parents who opt to sign their kids up for this class will drop them off prior to taking the Saarinen tour and pick the kids up immediately after the tour (appx. 45 minutes), before heading up to Gallery 8 Cafe for lunch.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

the secret parent handshake

The other day a toddler at kiddywampus threw a tantrum – the kind of awe-inspiring, full-body kicking on the floor followed by a quick boneless move accompanied by an ear-piercing banshee scream only a toddler body could produce. The toddler experts would have given her a perfect score with bonus points for endurance. The Mom went from embarrassed to irritated to overwhelmed to mortified. She had Had It, and the day was young.

And this is where we parents need the Secret Handshake.

I looked at that Mom and there were a million things I wanted to tell her. I wanted to give her a big hug, a cup of coffee, magically soothe her darling and then whisper, “Honey, I have 3 kids and could tell you stories of tantrums no new Mom should ever hear. Of trips to Target – where the aisles and checkouts are virtually empty until I say No to the princess boo boo patches and suddenly the sky starts raining customers, all of whom are looking at me like I’m the Worst Mom On The Planet and I wish I could melt into the floor but I’m not giving in because now my back is up too and I will never buy a princess boo boo patch in my life. Ever.”

I want to tell her, “I have been where you are right now, and you’re doing a great job, so you hang in there because in 14 years when our dearests ask for the car keys we’ll wish to be back here in this moment where we can keep them safe right beside us.” I want to say, “Don’t apologize for her wailing on the floor because we’re all in this together. And the next time you are out shopping and hear a wail look over because it will probably be me with my darlings, in the princess boo boo patch aisle.” But I really can’t talk over the screaming – so I grin, give her my best “we’ve all been there” shrug, and hope somehow she can read my mind.

We really need the Handshake.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

disco fever!

Here's a shout out to the best kids' party in the Twin Cities taking place this Sat. If you've never gone, give it a try...I took my 3 year old last fall and couldn't get him to leave after almost two hours of hurling himself across the dance floor. I'm not sure what was more fun...watching him groove it out or sharing music I love with him. He collapsed in the car on the way home and barely woke up until the next morning. If he sees a sign for another party, he immediately breaks out his best moves. I've created a dancin' machine.

In keeping with the disco theme, imagine my personal nirvana when I came across this little delight -- a solar powered disco ball that adheres to a window with a suction cup that can be easily moved (as the sun moves, perhaps?). We've been testing this out in our store for about two weeks now and it makes me happy every time I see it. And in direct sunlight, it turns our retail space into a disco inferno. Now we just need the music.

help for lunchboxes everywhere

I want to believe that since my kids pack lunches they're eating good food at school. And here it is, only October and the pressure of packing healthy food that looks and tastes great is already getting to me. I'm convinced this book will be the answer to my prayers...or at least, will give me some new ideas for the long school year and hundreds of lunches ahead.
Any tips for great lunch box meals your kids adore...or, rather, will eat on a regular basis?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

a cool site for parents

Yeah! We've just been reviewed by Amelia McClain, a cyber reporter for The Savvy Source for Parents. This is a fun site with loads of preschool information (think toddler social skills to separation anxiety) and tons of other cool parenting perspective and insight. Check it out here.

Monday, September 22, 2008

JWRC event a big success!

A huge thanks to everyone who came out for the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center fundraising and community building event. There was paint flying in the studio as guests action painted to raise money -- and the lemonade stand was a perfect touch to the indian summer day. Kids enjoyed the book reading and signing by author Alison Feigh and in the end, we raised $327.92 for JWRC. Thanks everyone!

For more press details about the event click here.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

new storytime this Friday!

Have you ever wondered what the world would be like if the ocean was orange and shoes sang? For an artist, this colorful world can become a reality. This storytime will will inspire creativity amongst the youngest of budding artists and an activity will follow the stories.
Back by popular demand...a new free storytime this Friday (9/5) from 10:30 - 11:15. Open to 20 kids aged 2-6 (younger sibs welcome)...please rsvp to this blog with the number of kids you are bringing.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

i get around storytime fun

We were thrilled to host the i-get-around crew on Friday to our first-ever free storytime...and the kids had a great time! For more pictures from the event, click here.

We're now planning some more free storytimes...stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

win a free interactive storytime this Friday!

Looking for a free fun fabulous event for the kids this Friday? We're delighted to have the folks from "i get around," our favorite toddler travel people, present

i get around in my imagination

What: story time with activity
When: 10:30-11:00 Friday, Aug. 8
Where: the large studio at kiddywampus
Who: kids ages 2-5

RSVP: this storytime is open to the first 15 kids (parents) who comment on this post. Please include in your comment the number of kids you're bringing and their ages (between ages 2-5 please, older and younger siblings are welcome to attend).

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mini Golf at the Walker

If you get a chance, Walker on the Green is a fabulous summertime activity with kids -- each course was designed by a different artist (what a great way to introduce kids to the idea that art can be interactive) and the environmental themes had us talking all day about how we use water. Check out the details here.

kid perspective

This is what I love best about hanging out with kids...adults see a bike rack, kids see an obstacle course!

Monday, June 23, 2008

the more the merrier

Check out this Abrakadoodle artist cutie who got busy wth our little purses after class last week...and as anyone knows, if one purse is good, four is even better!

Friday, June 13, 2008

action paint at Stone Arch with kiddywampus this weekend!

We're thrilled to be back at Stone Arch Festival of the Arts again this year -- and are hoping for good weather! Stop by to say hi and try your hand at some outdoor action painting that would make Jackson Pollock proud.

We'll be located in the Youth Arts Quarter in Father Hennepin Park at the foot of the Stone Arch Bridge.

For more info about Stone Arch Festival, check out:

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Wish Come True Finally Here!!!

Remember "weebils wobble but they don't fall down?" Here's the new hipper incarnation...I've been waiting for these cute little creatures to arrive at kiddywampus since I fell in love with them at their North American premiere in New York City last February. These magical toys feature weighted bottoms and built-in bell chimes, giving them all a playful rocking motion and a subtle, soothing sound. The series features six primary characters - Coco, Fluffy Pop, Malfi, Buddy Chub, Popo and Mr. TTT. Safe for kids 18 months and up. $7.95 each.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

celebrate you kids with a photo session at kiddywampus

Lisa Slotsve, a veteran photographer in the Twin Cities, will make a special stop at kiddywampus on Friday, June 13th, from 12:30–5:30 pm. She'll have sessions available in our big studio and props from the kiddywampus shop. Make sure you sign up ahead of time, because sittings are going fast! Lisa has a knack for capturing children in their natural essence, using natural light and limited staging to create timeless images.

On that day, kiddywampus will give 20% of the day's sales to Faith's Lodge, which works to provide a place where parents and families facing the serious illness or death of a child can retreat to reflect on the past, renew strength for the present, and build hope for the future.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

a snack fit for a fairy (or picky eater!)

We at kiddywampus love to use our right brains (where the imagination+risk taking happens)–even when it comes to feeding the little ones. What would fairies eat at a tea party? Why, pearls of course! Mozzarella pearls in a shot glass make for an inventive snack, and a healthy one at that!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

rainy day idea: mesmerizing colors

Sky blue, lavender, through for new colors and help your little one decide what to name them.

Friday, May 16, 2008


St. Louis Park toy store will use web-based gift registry to help ease the stress of long-term medical treatment.

ST. LOUIS PARK, MN – May 16, 2008: Starting in early May, kiddywampus will offer a new concept for children’s birthday parties: Toy Connection. The program will use children’s birthday parties held at kiddywampus to collect toys and art supplies for children undergoing treatment at the University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital. kiddywampus will provide parents an alternative to the traditional model of birthday gifting with the option of giving back while celebrating.

Toy Connection will collect toys and art supplies for Children’s Cancer Research Fund (CCRF), which is dedicated to finding a cure for childhood cancer by providing funds to the University of Minnesota for research and training relating to the prevention, treatment and cure of childhood cancer. The nonprofit organization also funds Care Partners, a quality-of-life program for pediatric cancer patients and their families at the University of Minnesota Children's Hospital, Fairview. Teresa Turner, Care Partners Manager will distribute collected toys to children undergoing treatment at the Blood and Marrow Transplant (BMT) Outpatient Clinic.

With the help of a parent, children who are invited to a Toy Connection birthday party at kiddywampus can view and purchase products from an online list pre-selected by Turner. During the traditional party “present time,” attendees will view in real life the collection of toys they selected for donation to the BMT.

Turner chooses products that allow for creative expression, like art supplies and games that encourage open-ended play.

“Many of our patients must come to the Outpatient Clinic two to three times a week and it is important that they have opportunities for normal growth, development and fun. We want to normalize the not-so-normal BMT process for children as much as possible,” said Turner.

John Halberg, CEO of Children’s Cancer Research Fund, emphasized the dual beneficiaries of the partnership. "We are delighted to partner with kiddywampus on the Toy Connection," said Hallberg.

"This innovative concept has two appealing benefits: It improves the lives of young patients facing the challenges of pediatric cancer, and it reinforces the importance of giving among children. It's truly a 'win-win' program."

In September 2007, kiddywampus owner Amy Saldanha announced her goal to give all post-tax profits from her store to charities benefiting children. As her almost two-year-old business–which offers toys, parties, art classes and summer camps–grew, Saldanha found her customers looking for more active ways to participate in giving back.

“Our customers have told me they want a way to introduce giving to their children. We created Toy Connection because kids get it. It is a tangible way for young children to give back.”

Switching up the traditional model of a child’s birthday party is not an easy thing to do, but Saldanha is confident her customers, and their children, will enjoy the unique offering. “Toy Connection is about taking all the energy that goes toward celebrating the birthday of a child and channeling it toward helping a child in need. It just makes sense,” said Saldanha.

Once her pilot Toy Connection is up and running, Saldanha plans to create future registries for other nonprofits in need of toy or art supply donations.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

general mills party at kiddywampus!

kiddywampus was all abuzz today with the creative energy of General Mills families. Kids overflowed from every corner–what fun! Here's a slideshow with photos from the event.

Monday, May 5, 2008

kiddywampus fav: Q-BA-Maze

Q-BA-Maze is one of the toys we keep out to test in the store and kids (especially the 6-9 year-olds) love to create cool structures with these translucent, colorful blocks. This is definitely a game for a sunny room because the Q-BA-Maze catches the light like nothing else. Check out this video for a taste, then come on in and try it out in person!

video via

Friday, May 2, 2008

rainy day idea: a to-do list

(to-do note from russell+hazel)
Yet another rainy day in the Twin Cities leaves us scratching our head for ideas. Take a cue from Maya Waldman and create a to-do list with your little ones–the zanier the better (but don't forget to buy milk!)

Here are some of our ideas: puddle stomp•top smile competition•kumquat shop•stand on head•toes are hands•sunny song search...

Thursday, May 1, 2008

catch that show! dan zanes pulls up in st. paul

We at kiddywampus absolutely love dan zanes' "catch that train!" album. It's as much adult music as it is pure fun for kids. We've heard he's awesome in concert, and his youtube videos certainly attest to that. He'll be in St. Paul on Sunday, May 4 for a show at the Fitzgerald Theater. If you go, let us know how it went!
Here's a video from his recent show in Portland. What a cute idea to say goodbye to all his fans!

Monday, April 28, 2008

rainy day idea:

We learned about from the Elia Chair website (check out the chair in our online store). The best part about this site is that your littlest little ones will have no problem creating a colorful masterpiece. Just move the mouse and click to change colors.

Tip: take a screenshot, print, sign, and put it on the fridge! (screenshots for macs: control+shift+3)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

the Cookie that got away

One of my very favorite US parenting magazines is Cookie. I love the pictures, the originality and perspective of the articles and the travel section is unbelievable.

So imagine how thrilled we were when last fall Cookie came to town to take pics for an upcoming article on the Twin Cities as a family destination (I thought their first call to us was a prank until the photographer emailed me with a Cookie address). In December we were asked to ship a box full of our products for pictures to accompany the store pics. We learned at end February that the issue on the Twin Cities would be in the April issue. And when the second fact-checker called to confirm our address and some of our products, our move date was only two weeks away so I felt I had to speak up about our pending move. I pleaded that we were only moving a couple of miles, etc., but in the end our new location no longer fit the article.

So here we are, Cookieless. The article is a good one, though, and lists lots of great places to visit with your kids, so check it out at

Open Studio!

We've asked Shay Lawrence, owner of Abrakadoodle Minneapolis to write a guest blog about Open Studio, a new collaborative offering from Abrakadoodle and kiddywampus.

Whoo hoo! Last week marked the launch of Open Studio and I couldn’t be more excited!

When we first started dreaming of Open Studio, we wanted to create a space where kids could paint, collage, stamp and create at their own pace as they developed the skills they would need to succeed in elementary school. It was so thrilling to see students proudly hanging their creations on our drying wall, figuring out that if you stamp on play doh with your shoe it makes a really cool design, and blending colors using Twistables. My favorite moment though was when a little girl ran up to me with a huge grin on her face and whispered, “did you know you can paint with crayons? This is so cool!” (She had discovered our watercolor crayons). She proudly offered to share her newfound knowledge with me through a demonstration.

It was pretty cool. I wonder what I’ll learn next week.

It's like a Real store!

Whew! Our new store has been open a month and recently celebrated a crowded and energetic grand opening. The action painting wall, which was looking much too white, now bears some serious splatters of paint. It’s beginning to feel like home.

I am personally moved, touched and inspired both by our customers’ responses. The customers who have been with us for some time are excited about the new space and what this growth means for us. We delight together over the dedicated art studio, expanded toystore and two bathrooms (!). Over and over again our regulars enthuse, “this is like a Real store!” We joke that we no longer have to leave breadcrumbs for our customers to find us.

We are still getting settled in our new space and (still!) waiting on lots of new inventory to arrive. We like hearing comments and feedback about our new space – please continue to let us know what you like and, even more importantly, what we can do to make it better.

To the loyal customers who have cheered us on and gotten us to this point, I give my unending gratitude. And to the new customers we’re meeting every day (we actually have walk-in traffic…imagine!), we are thrilled to meet you and hope to become a destination you enjoy visiting with your family.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Macy's Hallway Exhibit: kiddywampus-style

Macy turned her hallway experiment into a little display with the help of her mom, Tami, and Droog's Frame Tape. Art can be anywhere, and we love this example of elevating a child's creativity.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Little Jackson Pollocks and Expert Toy Testers

The kiddywampus Grand Opening Celebration last week drew quite a cute crowd of little artists and toy experts. Here are a couple photos from the event. There are more great photos on our website:

Monday, March 17, 2008

Sunshiney Days

It might still be snowing outside, so thank goodness our new spot on Excelsior has tons windows. It's hard not to smile when the sun beams in and warms everything up.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

We Want Our kiddywampus Back. Right Now!

Right now it’s moving time at kiddywampus, which means a huge sale (ends this Saturday, March 8th!) with products we aren’t taking with us, some we are taking but we have lots of, and the assorted odd treasure we’ve unearthed in the backroom. The store now has stacks and tables of toys reduced for clearance—while our activity stations and toys out for play are either packed up or sold. And our kid customers aren’t having it.

Earlier this week I spent 20 minutes with a 3 year old in our kiddyplay space, looking at the empty shelves where toys once sat. She kept saying “no toys” in an accusatory voice and looking at me. I told her we were moving to a bright happy new store, with more and new toys. I showed her the boxes we’d packed and how the toys fit in them and how great it was going to be and she just looked at me and kept repeating “no toys.”

I feel lucky that some of our regular customers know us well enough to where this change bothers them. I love that they wander around the shelves stacked with toys and then ask me “where are the toys?” I love how they come here with the expectation that they can wander around freely and play with everything, even if that’s not true for us for this one sale week.

So, to our littler customers: we hear you, and rest assured, your kiddywampus will be back soon…I can’t take this kind of pressure!