Can Playing More Be The Answer?

Parenting is tough.  There is so much to do!  To complicate things, entertainment has become almost anti-family values.  Do you know the background of those who are creating your child’s playthings and entertainment?  How much do they know about childhood development?  Do they even think past just selling a toy?  Via E does.  My goal is to help by providing a play culture and play things that are engineered to follow the latest science of child development and learning so you can rest assured.  Here is a list of courses I have completed or are in process (this list will continue to expand over time):

  • Child Growth and Development
  • Teaching Foundations and Frameworks for History and Social Science
  • Child Guidance and Communication
  • Early Care and Education Administration
  • Foundations and Frameworks for Language and Literature
  • Child Family and Community
  • Teaching Language and Literacy
  • Teaching in a Diverse Society
  • Infant and Toddler Development
  • School Age Before and After School Programs
  • Personnel and Leadership in Early Childhood Education
  • Principals and Practices of Teaching Young Children
  • Math and Science for Young Children

Supporting research and books:

  • Mind in the Making – The seven essential life skills every child needs by Ellen Galinsky
  • The Owner’s Manual for The Brain – Everyday applications from mind-brain research by Pierce J. Howard, Ph.D.

We have a whole lot of fun playing, but our play has a purpose of building strong minds and values.  The more play, the more learning…so let’s Play More!


The Freedom to Play

When my grandson was about a year old, I introduced him to an Alexis to see what his reaction would be.  I don’t know why I was surprised when he took to her right away.  He sat her on his push toys and pushed Alexis around the room, picking her up when she fell and promptly seating her back to continue the ride.  He would study her face and poke at her eyes and then he moved on to the next toddler thing to do.  So, I decided I should dress this Alexis in more appropriate “boy wear” and braided her hair so she would be read for tough love.

My grandson, now about 2 ½ years old, moved away last year as my daughter received a great job offer in Virginia.  She keeps me up to date and we Skype so I can still talk to my grandson.  This week my daughter sent me this picture. She said that my grandson, Gunnar, pulled Alexis out of the bottom of his toy box and took careful effort to sit her up to watch him play with his cars.  I’d like to think Alexis reminds him of his grandma, but most of all I love the story because it reflects a world where parents are more open to gender-neutral play.  My grandson also plays with a 12” action figure, but neither are anything more than just Gunnar having the freedom to play and explore.

In a Psychology Today post on their website, Peter Gray Ph.D. wrote, “Play is, first and foremost, an expression of freedom. It is what one wants to do as opposed to what one is obliged to do. The joy of play is the ecstatic feeling of liberty. Play is not always accompanied by smiles and laughter, nor are smiles and laughter always signs of play; but play is always accompanied by a feeling of “Yes, this is what I want to do right now.” Players are free agents, not pawns in someone else’s game.”[1]

Bravo Dr. Gray!  Here’s to the freedom to play and a wish that you may…Play more.


Design Elena’s First Outfit

Your design will make you famous!

Create the winning design for Elena’s first meet outfit and your name will be added to Elena’s box as the fashion designer. You will also receive a first production Elena Dollfriend® for FREE!  Winner will be selected by Facebook Friends vote.  Submit a drawing or sew a fashion and take a picture of it and post it on the ViaE.Dollfriends Facebook #Elenasfirstoutfit page by May 31st, 2016.

Use the picture below to draw an outfit or use your Alexis or Tatiana Dollfriend® as a model to sew a new outfit for Elena. No purchased required to win. All ages invited to enter.  You can learn more about the making of Elena at:

Elana Marie Engel Meet Outfit

Elena Dollfriend and Via E are trademarks of Via E, Inc.  Image of Elena is Copyright© Via E, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Live Inspired.

Every moment that you give, more will be returned to you.  But you have to be still and allow the gifts to embrace you.  Gifts of money, notoriety, success are fleeting. The gifts that quiet the hunger of the sole are only found through others, through appreciation of what we have a peace that is found when you touch the maker.

This TED Conference video was passed on to me as a thank you for time I had donated.  I believed this gift of beauty is greater than anything I could contribute to your day.

RianforestWhy do I design dolls?  Why do I write children’s books?  Why have I chosen to live with less for the chance to leave a smile behind?

In this video Louie Schwartzberg said it best, “We protect what we fall in love with.”

I’m in love with the innocence of children.  I’m in love with the way a doll captures and preserves the warmest of memories from our pasts.  I’m in love with reflecting the beauty of diversity.  I’m in love with the potential of every mind, every heart. But most of all, I’m in love with you.  I love every post, every picture, every family and every girl or boy.

TatianaBeach2I want to protect innocence.  I hope to preserve and cherish your childhood memories or rewrite them if need be to erase pain.  I want to celebrate diversity in such a way that we are enhanced and elated by our differences.  I hope to encourage each to reach for their greatest dream, to love learning and exploring.  And if you are lonely, I want to provide a family where you know you are loved.

Via E is not a toy company…it is a family where dreams are the steps to the best that life can offer.

I hope for you to live inspired.  Inspiration is all around…and you are my inspiration.

From my heart to yours,



The Gift of Confidence Only a Parent Can Give

Why did you do that?  What were you thinking?  I told you how, why didn’t you do it the way I said?  You didn’t listen, did you!  You didn’t work hard enough.  You’re not big enough, strong enough, fast enough, smart enough….etc.  And worst of all…the system is not fair. Have you said any of the above?  Sure, we parents all do at one time or another.  We think we are helping by grabbing the child’s attention and getting them to see they are on the wrong path.  But what if that wrong path had its own lesson?  What if we instead guided with: You are smart, what did you learn from your mistake?  You are smart, you are strong, you are quick, you are destined to win at whatever your choose…just don’t give up.  The system may not be fair for everyone, but you are smart and talented.  You will rise to the top, just keep believing in yourself. Being in my fifties now, I have a reflective mind.  My core personality is a fixer.  My passion is children.  What I have learned through experience and studies of how the brain develops is children do not need fixing…parents do. Yes there are some children who are strong willed, some who are special needs, all will test your patients at times, but they all started at the same place in life and we adults created the connections in their brains that lead them to be who they are or who they are not.  Nature is what they came into the world with and nurturing is how we help our children develop what nature gifted. Sometimes it is our own fear that leads us down the wrong rode of correction.  We fear they will do wrong.  We fear they will fail.  We fear they will not be big enough, strong enough, fast enough, smart enough or the system will not be fair for them.  We gift them—pass on—our fear for their future which can become their own stumbling block. The world is a complex place where fair is not always present.  Where there are real things to be feared. The best gift we can give to children is confidence.  Confidence will become their shield to both defend and win over fear and difficulties.  Confidence, not conceit, is developed through positive reinforcement a 100 times a day.  In the little things, the big things and the tender I love you things. I write this piece for you today after realizing that I too passed on my fear to my son.  I have raised him with positive reinforcement and a million “mama’s lectures” for his safety and success.  Recently, he has achieved top athlete levels in all the conditioning aspects of his sport and his moment is upon him.  But when he is given the light, he stumbles.  I have been searching my mind for what could be causing this.  It hit me this morning, fear.  Fear of not being good enough, not knowing enough.  Fear of failing when it means so much emotionally to succeed.  As I contemplate where the fear originated, I realized I was a source.  It is my fear that he may not be big enough, fast enough, strong enough.  It was me who was afraid of the politics and competitiveness of his sport.  My fear of the chance he may be disappointed and what imprint that would leave behind.  I realized the best way to help my son was for me to release my fear and in turn gift him the flight of confidence that he would find his own way to conquer his world. Father and daughters wearing superhero suit. isolated on whiteRaising children can be difficult and we adults will never make all the right decisions.  But in our love and in our willingness to continually grow our efforts to be good teachers of life, the children we nurture will always have a shield of confidence.  Confidence that we have their back.  Confidence that they are loved. Confidence that being who they are and doing their best will always be good enough.