Ali’s Favorite Toys at 2.75 Years Old

04/15/2014

A friend with a child a bit younger than mine was wondering if I could share about some of her favorite toys, particularly things that will hold her interest for longer than 5 minutes inside when the weather isn’t conducive to shooing the little ones outside for an adventure. (Click any of the blue text for links to purchase if you’re interested.)

Play-Doh
It’s amazing how long the squishy, colorful dough can keep Ali’s attention. She sometimes mixes stickers and toothpicks into the dough, and definitely jumbles the colors. It’s cheap and she’s having fun so I try not to look. Our biggest challenge with play-doh is reminding her to put it back into the containers so it doesn’t dry up.

playdoh

 

 

Glow-in-the-Dark Bracelets
At a playgroup one time I overheard the other moms talking about doing glow-in-the-dark baths for their toddlers. What?! I had to find out. It’s simple: give your kids a couple of glow bracelets and dim the lights. Suddenly, bath time is fascinating. This is often the reward at the end of a good day… sometimes it’s just to give mommy a break. I’ve never tested it but I think she would play in the bath with glow sticks until the water got cold. Sometimes I can find 15-packs in the dollar spot at Target. Amazon sells 100 for $9.

IMG_9610

 

Watercolors
Ali got some paint-with-water books for Christmas, but honestly her favorite thing is to just make abstract paintings on plain white paper. I’ve always been a lover of abstract art so I find each of her creations to be masterpieces worth hanging on my office walls. This pack of Crayola Washable Watercolors is my favorite. Last summer (when she was turning 2) we only painted outside. Now that she’s approaching 3, she paints at the kitchen table strapped into her buckle booster. I have the paper on a placemat and I use a heavy mug for the water. Clean up is pretty easy with a damp cloth. She uses some of my old higher quality paintbrushes.

watercolors

 

Potato Heads
I’m sure you are all familiar with this classic toy. I don’t have much to say except that it gets a lot of play.

potatohead

 

Play Kitchen / Tea Set
Jason and I both drink coffee and tea (respectively) several times throughout the day so Ali is used to seeing us with a mug of hot liquid. I think it’s for that reason that her tea set gets so much play time. Sometimes I let her have real tea in her cup, which she loves. Usually it’s imaginary tea: sparkle tea for me and chocolate tea for her. This was my first Green Toys purchase. They’re all made from recycled food-grade plastics and have a nice tactile texture. I found a play kitchen for Ali off of craigslist.

teaset

 

Play Food
We have crocheted food handmade by Ali’s Nana, cloth breakfast food and vegetable sets from IKEA, and some second-hand Melissa & Doug wooden play food. Ali loves to practice her chef skills slicing apart the M&D Cutting Food set. I’d definitely recommend this to a friend.

cuttingfood

 

Ball
I think this is a given at any age but it’s always good to have a good bouncy ball around. While it’s not usually an independent activity, Ali and I have spent many rainy or cold days playing soccer or catch. On her first intensive day of potty training when we spent hours in the kitchen, soccer was a life-saver.

Slide
Again, this doesn’t need much explanation. It got a ton of play time from age 18 months-present 2.75 years. We just moved it outside a few months ago. It used to be in our den/playroom. I stalked craigslist until I found a good deal on one that hadn’t been sun-bleached outside.

Play Tent/Fort
There are lots of options for this one. Drape a blanket between two pieces of furniture. Turn a big cardboard box on it’s side. (Pictured below: Ali and her BFF Jaron in the box fort in his bedroom.) Buy a play tent. Or do like I did and make a playhouse out of a sheet that fits snuggly over a card table. I only get this out when I’m desperate and it always works to keep Ali busy for a while.

IMG_2405

OUTSIDE TOYS

Diving Toys
This is also not an independent activity because it requires supervision but this is an addition to my list from Buzz last summer. We spent many, many hours at my parents’ swimming pool and these Cars diving toys were a big hit with both kids. Buzz’s mom bought him a set last summer and I plan to get Ali some for this summer. I’m praying she’s tall enough to stand on her toes in the shallow end like Buzz was last summer…

divingtoys

 

Water
A wading pool. Water guns. A watering can. A bucket and a hose. Whatever you’ve got – toddlers love experimenting with it. Dumping, splashing, drinking, blowing bubbles, etc.

IMG_8720

 

Bubbles
I make my own bubble solution. Ali is starting to get the hang of blowing bubbles with a bubble wand at this age. (And Buzz was doing it last summer at this age.) Last year, she relied a lot on the battery operated bubble gun. She also has a bubble mower that gets a lot of playtime.

IMG_9653


New Home Tour: Den/Playroom

02/28/2013

Depending on the angle of the photo, it looks like a den…

IMG_1309  IMG_1312 IMG_1313

But 98% of the time it’s a playroom. (Technically, it’s a guest room, too, though it hasn’t been used as such yet. Someday it’ll be a bedroom.)

IMG_1311

IMG_1320

The closet is full of books, toys and games.

IMG_1315

IMG_1322

IMG_1324

A few things to note about this room:

The sofa is vintage. We’d like to reupholster it someday but it’s not in bad shape and the pull out mattress is in excellent shape.

The rug is from Urban Outfitters. I purchased it for a staging project right before we moved in. We had it in the living room for a little while but it was way too small in there. It’s perfect in here.

This room is the smallest bedroom in the house but the super high ceilings make if feel big and the high windows and concrete wall make it very unique. I’m hoping a teenager will love it as a bedroom someday.

The play stove is second-hand, hand made but someone. I got it at a yard sale. It was Ali’s adoption day gift.

Ali’s navy table was a Christmas gift from Grandma and Grandpa. The metal folding chair is vintage from an estate sale in my neighborhood. I got it when I was putting together our first room for future foster kids.

The small guitar was a baby shower gift before our first placement. It’s still a bit too complex for Ali but she likes to bang on it, August Rush style. The blue guitar is really special to me. It was the guitar Jason first learned to play guitar on…it deserves it’s own post.

The TV is not attached to anything except power. Eventually we plan to get another Roku box for this room (which we use for Hulu and Netflix) and attach a DVD player. We’ll also need some kind of shelving for that.

The robot decals I won from a giveaway on Design Mom. Ali loves to give them kisses.

Ali’s favorite activities right now are the slide (going down and sending toys down) and sitting at her table to play with stickers

FYI, our architect is Ryan Thewes.

Related Posts:

New Home Tour: Kitchen

New Home Tour: Living Room

New Home Tour: Dining Room

 


It’s Tea Time!

10/10/2012

If you know me in “real life,” you know I’m a tea drinker. (Hot black tea—not herbal, not green—with a little sugar, to be exact. Republic of Tea Mango Ceylon is my all-time favorite and I’m currently out in case anyone is interested.) So naturally, I must teach my daughter all about tea. With a gift card from her adoption day, I decided to order this Green Toys Tea Set.

I was not familiar with Green Toys prior to this Amazon order but I’m very impressed. They’re made from recycled milk jugs, BPA, phthalates and lead-paint free—believe it or not they’re made right here in the USA. And they’re inexpensive. I think this set was a great value. For $19.99 we got a tea pot with lid, sugar bowl with lid (same as teapot’s), creamer, four saucers, four tea cups and four spoons. My favorite thing about it is probably the mix of colors: pink, purple, blue, green and yellow. It’s like Fiestware for toddlers!

I opened the package one evening after Ali had gone to bed and I was so excited that I set it all up…

and, ahem, had a tea party with Lucy…did I just admit that?

Thankfully, Ali redeemed my craziness the next day and indulged me in several tea parties. She seriously played with these toys for hours. She’s not totally getting the tea concept yet but she loves to bite the saucers and take the lids off the tea pot and sugar bowl.

The tea set was such a big hit with Ali that I sent her cousin Iris a set for her birthday. I hope she enjoys it too, and they’ll be ready to have a tea party next time they’re together.


Tubby Time

04/24/2012

Shortly after I wrote about feeling like everything was at a standstill, progress started happening. We’ll be breaking ground on our new house soon…soon…soon. I don’t know when exactly yet, but things are starting to roll forward. We’ve decided on a contractor and we’re doing paperwork with our bank. Also, Precious just had a burst of new milestones. Scooting around on her belly (more on that later), her third tooth emerging and this: she’s graduated from the inflatable toddler tub to the full bathtub.

Precious has always enjoyed bath time but the big tub allowed for the introduction of some exciting new toys. Also, it’s easier to wash her when she can stand up or lay back in the water to rinse her hair.

My friend Leila bought us this Yookidoo Fill ‘N’ Spout bath fountain back when we were preparing to become foster parents. Ladybug (16-17 months old) had a lot of fun with it and now Precious is old enough to love it, too. I highly recommend this toy. There are three different cups that can go under the spout—a rainshower, a mill and a nesting “peekaboo” cup. Have I ever mentioned that cups are Precious’ favorite toys ever? And the fountain is so easy to turn on and off (by pushing the big orange face) that my 9-month-old can do it herself—not exactly on purpose but she does manage to turn it on and off!


Jason’s Childhood Favorite Toys: Definitely Dinosaurs

05/25/2011

Little Jason was a dinosaur enthusiast. He and his little brother Dan had a collection of a particular kind of dinosaurs called Definitely Dinosaurs made by Playskool. Jason and his brothers also had every boy and unisex toy and game manufactered in the 1980s and early 90s. Nerf guns, sit-n-spin, Hungry Hungry Hippos, Ghostbusters gear, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Super Soakers…you name it, they had it. Anyway… most of that stuff is long gone but his mom saved the Definitely Dinosaurs for him. Since we’re going to have kiddos around the ranch soon she brought them over. I cleaned them up and took some photos before putting them away in toy storage.

The official Definitely Dinosaur crew:

With their 5 Caveman comrades:

And with a few inferior-quality friends. Every dino collection needs a T-Rex. And a … a … whatever that little guy on the left is:

I’m really glad Jason’s mom saved these. I’m also glad they’re still in great shape and they’re really durable toys so we don’t have to worry about sentimental childhood toys getting ruined by our kids.