Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Toy Court is in Session

We're one month in on the new Christmas/Birthday presents and the verdict is in. We definitely have some winners and losers in the toy department this year. For the sake of not hurting anyone's feelings (including my own since I'm selfish like that), I'm only going to tote the ones we really like. We definitely had some toy duds this year, but I won't do them the injustice of bad mouthing them in a public forum. They know who they are (by my repeated cursing at and throwing of them), so we'll let them suffer in silence in toy limbo at the bottom of the toy box. As for the winners, here they are in no particular order.

Note: I had a model for most of the time I took the pictures of these toys. He was unwilling to let a picture be taken without being in it and them looking at himself on the viewfinder afterward. Narcissistic, you say? I prefer to chalk it up to his budding prowess as a child model.

First up is the often mentioned pink vacuum.

A great toy. The best part is that the front part detaches and becomes a dust buster. So it's really two toys in one. The dust buster turns on and makes noise, which is a good bonus. The only drawbacks were that I could not find it in any color but pink and I'm not quite sure about the durability. This thing has already taken a beating. Luckily it's not expensive, so we could easily get a replacement if needed. It's a Circo Toy Vacuum from Target.

The next find is food and kitchen accessories. We've had the kitchen for a while (a great consignment find), but we needed more things for the kids to be able to "make" their own food. Cooking in their kitchen is one of their favorite activities and one of only a few games that they can all four can play together in relative harmony (usually there aren't enough parts or pieces of a toy or game to appease all four of them at a time). On the left is their new coffee machine and on the right is the mixer and then the toaster right below it. Kitchen toys for kids tend to be pretty inexpensive and allow a lot of room for imagination. I know the coffee maker came from Big Lots and the other accessories were gifts from others.

The next toy with a passing grade is this VTech 3-in-1 Musical Band guitar. The kids LOVE it. You can play it manually or it will play music and you can strum along to add your own notes to the already playing music. You can also use the keys on the neck of the guitar like a piano. The only thing I don't like are the pre-programmed songs that it plays. This is purely a taste thing (the songs are fine) and I think all moms will agree that when you've heard a toy sing a song once, you've heard it five million times. Luckily, the guitar has volume control, so I'll just ask the kids to turn it down a notch if they insist on listening to "The Bear Went Over the Mountain" for the 67th consecutive time.

One more picture of my budding model with the guitar ... just because it's cute.

Another favorite was Mimi's Art Box.

Homemade gifts are the best and this one was no exception. Matt's mom is a retired art teacher and she went the extra mile to make the kiddos their very own art box.

It's chock full of everything - stamps, crayons, markers, pipe cleaners,  you name it. I love having creative grandparents! If you want a personalized Art Box of your own, you can email Mimi directly HERE.

Just kidding. That's not Mimi. But if enough of you want a personalized Art Box she may have a second career in the making.

The last toy on the agenda ('cause this is getting a tad longer than my long-winded self intended) is this ...

This toy actually has a great story about how it got into our home. It's called the vtech Sort and Soar Rocket. I wanted to get this toy for Luke because they have one at the Y and he loves it. I asked my friends in Child Watch at the Y what kind of toy it was and they let me know. So I went home and after the kids were down for a nap I went online to hunt it down. I was assuming it would cost maybe $30. Well, I about dropped dead on the floor when I couldn't find it for less than $130!!! Are you kidding me?!? I looked directly on vtech's website and couldn't find it there, so my assumption was that it must have been a discontinued toy that was being marked up on other sites because they don't make it anymore. I really wanted to get it for Luke, but I just had to throw in the towel. I was NOT paying $130 for some plastic and lights. I told my friends at the Y what had happened and they were flabbergasted as well.

Well, fast forward two weeks and I'm in FL for vacation right after Christmas. I get a voice mail on my cell phone from the Y to tell me that they have a special gift for Luke when we get back in town. After we got back from vacation and headed to the Y, I was amazed to see that they had found and gifted Luke the vtech rocket! After I told them I couldn't find it, they made it their personal mission to hunt one down. They looked online and everywhere else, but couldn't find one either. Then they just happened to stumble upon a completely new looking one at Goodwill! It cost all of $4! Can you believe it? It never even crossed my mind to look at Goodwill or a consignment store, but it makes sense since it's a discontinued toy and, therefore, probably pretty old. Luke loves his rocket and I'm so thankful to the wonderful people at the Y that love Luke so much that they would go out of their way to find him this gift!

Ok, enough about Christmas ... really this time. Does anyone have some great toys that they'd like to share? I'm always looking for Christmas ideas (even though I know we're 11 months out), so let me know if you have any deals or duds to share. I'm of to play a little guitar and make some pipe cleaner art!

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