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Winter in Maine - Bella Luna Toys
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A New Year at Bella Luna Toys

HAPPY 2012!

When I became the new owner of Bella Luna Toys in 2009, my vision was not just to operate a retail website, but also to share my experience and expertise as a teacher, mother, and author on topics such as child development, play, and parenting.

To that end, I created Moon Child in order to communicate with our customers, and to connect with parents of young children seeking a different, more natural way of raising their children.

I envisioned the toy store as a small home-based business, and a way to bring in some income to help support the work I am passionate about – writing and sharing my love of Waldorf education.

Everything was going nicely, all according to plan. For about a year.

WHAT HAPPENED?

Thanks to the support of so many of you, Bella Luna Toys grew. And Grew. And GREW!

By early 2011, it was clear that we had outgrown the confines of the small barn next to my home here in Maine from which I was operating, and, even with my family’s help, I found myself trying to do at least three full-time jobs.

It was exciting seeing the business grow, but writing began to take a backseat to the day-to-day operation of Bella Luna Toys. By the spring I knew that it was time to make some big decisions.

Last April, Bella Luna Toys moved out of our cozy little barn at home and into a real warehouse in the nearby coastal town of Rockland, Maine (recently voted one of America’s coolest small towns), where we can walk to Main St. for lunch, and feel the ocean breeze.

Here, we have a spacious shipping area, I have my own office, and we and lots of room to grow. My husband Max, a writer, is very happy to have his home office back to himself where he can again compose his thoughts in peace, and not find himself covered with packing peanuts at the end of the day!

I also realized I needed more help. During the course of the past year, I hired my three “Shipping Fairies” – Liz, Jessie, and Sarah – all of whom did an AMAZING job keeping up with an extraordinary number of Christmas orders last month.

Now Sarah Reilly has become my full-time, Right-Hand Angel (some might call her a “manager”), in order to free up my time to the things that I love most: writing for the blog, discovering unique new natural toys for children, promoting the importance of play, and sharing my love of Waldorf education. (We hope that two Sarah’s won’t be too confusing for our customers.)

So my resolution for the New Year is to post more frequently, and to engage more fully with all of you.

In addition, we have some pretty big plans for Bella Luna Toys in 2012, which marks the 10th birthday of the company! We will have more giveaways, and some very special announcements during our 10th anniversary year. If you’re not subscribed already, be sure sign up for our newsletter so that you’re among the first to hear!

Thanks to those of you who have been a part of Bella Luna Toys’ growth this past year. We are filled with gratitude for your support and many kind words. We wouldn’t be here without you.

Wishing you and your families many blessings in 2012!

Warmly,

 

What changes did 2011 bring you and your families? What are your hopes and dreams for the coming year?

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Natural Toys, Sarah's Silks, Waldorf Toys

Mothering Magazine’s “Best Natural Toys of 2010”

Natural Toys from Bella Luna Toys

I am delighted that six new items from Bella Luna Toys‘ collection of natural toys were chosen by the editors at Mothering magazine as among the Best Natural Toys of 2010 featured in the new November/December issue!

Which items, you ask? Well, here they are!

Waldorf Birthday Crowns

Waldorf Felt Birthday Crowns

Waldorf Birthday Crowns

These gorgeous Waldorf birthday crowns are handmade in Maine by my friend and former classroom assistant, Jes Anthonis. Jes is a mama and crafter who is starting her own Waldorf childcare program at home. Available in petal pink or green, for ages 1 to 6. Aren’t they sweet?

Fairy Dress from Sarah’s Silks

Fairy DressNew from Sarah’s Silks, a magical Fairy Dress with rainbow wings that attach to the wrists with elastic bands.

Wool Felt Crown Set

Waldorf ToysI adore this cheery, Wool Felt Crown Set set made of thick New Zealand wool with matching cuffs. It’s Fair Trade made in Nepal, and was one of my favorite finds this year!

Fairy Garland Set

Fairy CostumeThis charming Fairy Garland Set features a garland of felted vines that ties around the head, with a 100% silk veil. Can be worn as a headpiece or cape. I just love the little hanging felted bumblebees, don’t you?

Big Drum from Plan Toys

I’ve been wanting to add more kids musical instruments at Bella Luna Toys. Here are the two newest additions, which will help to develop a child’s eye-hand coordination and sense of rhythm.

Plan Toys, Big DrumThe Big Drum is our first addition from Plan Toys, a line of wonderful eco-friendly wooden toys, from which we’ll be adding many more new products in the coming weeks.

Tambourine from Plan Toys

Plan Toys Tambourine, Kids Musical Instruments…and the colorful Tambourine from Plan Toys. (Love the Bella Luna blue with moon and stars!)

Hope you’ll agree with the Mothering editors that these are among the best!

What are your favorite natural toys of 2010? Have you seen any wonderful wooden toys or Waldorf toys that you think should be added to Bella Luna’s collection of natural toys? Share your ideas here and win a $5 gift certificate to Bella Luna Toys if your suggestion is added!

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Archives

Waldorf Toys: Bringing New Consciousness to Choosing Children’s Toys

My second guest post as a contributor appears over at Simple Homeschool today.

In my piece, Waldorf Toys: Choosing the Best Educational Toys for Your Children, I describe games that, as a Waldorf teacher, I shared with the parents of children in my classes. These hands-on experiences would shed new light on how young children experience toys, and allowed parents to experience the very different ways that children play with typical Toys ‘R’ Us type toys versus the kinds of natural playthings typically found in a Waldorf classroom.

Waldorf Toys

I wish I could give every one of you the same direct experience, because there is nothing that beats experiential learning, but my hope is that you’ll head over to Simple Homeschool, read my description of the exercises and try them yourself. (Better yet, try them with a friend!)

This was one of my very favorite “parent evenings” to offer, and the insights gained were often profound. I owe credit to my dear friend Louise de Forest who first introduced me to similar exercises many years ago when she was my son Harper’s kindergarten teacher. Thank you, Louise!

Try picking up and handling different kinds of toys and objects from your child’s toy box with your eyes closed. No peeking! Experience them with all your senses. What did you discover? Share your thoughts here.

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