Christmas Gifts and Regrets…

When I was about 10, I looked through the huge Sears catalogue and spotted what I thought would be the world’s best Christmas gift – a rock tumbler.  It was an electrical contraption that looked something like your local hardware store’s automatic paint mixer.  You added rocks, grit and water, plugged it in, and in no time you had beautiful polished rocks! And you could make things with those rocks! Like earrings! And necklaces! Oh the creative possibilities! (If you’re wondering, the answer is yes, I was – am? – a bit dorky.)  I put it at the top of my Christmas list.

And OH HOLY NIGHT, Santa came through!  There it was on Christmas morning. I was thrilled!  I opened it up! I read the directions! I put the rocks, grit and water in the tumbler! I plugged it in!

And then I waited.

FOR THREE MONTHS.

During those three months two things happened:

  1. We moved the very noisy rock tumbler into the cellar.
  2. I completely lost interest in my slowly polishing rocks.

In the years since, The Rock Tumbler Incident has earned its place in Tartlet Family History and Lore and I regularly suffer good-natured and well-deserved ribbing about it.

Some Christmas gifts are just duds.  Here are a few I have regretted…

The Dyson Vacuum Toy

61iqnvgrnl-_sl1500_

Honestly, my kids loved this toy.  They played with it all the time.  But they also left it running every time they played with it, and I and my husband would regularly have to go hunt for the cause of that annoying buzz.  They also loved to run it into walls violently.  Unfortunately, this toy recently wandered away from our home. Oh well.

Tegu Blocks

tegu

In all fairness, these blocks ARE awesome.  They are wooden, fun to play with and really lovely.  Unfortunately for me (and my wallet – these aren’t cheap!) my kids never played with them.  Ever.  They loved other blocks and building toys (Duplo and Magnatiles especially), but Tegu?  No love.  Bristle blocks faced a similar rejection.

Magnetic Putty

putty

Again, in theory, this stuff sounds awesome.  It is basically magnetic silly putty that comes with a magnet.  You can make it move and grow and climb!  Sort of.  This stuff just isn’t that fun for a 5-year-old who wants it to move more quickly than molasses.  It also isn’t fun for moms googling “how to get magnetic putty out of my carpet” at 11pm on Christmas night.

So, tell me, what Christmas gifts that you were sure would be winners turned out to be duds?

 

 

Things I Love Thursdays

Stick-eez Clothing Labels by Oliver’s Labels

I have 6.5 years of labeling experience now and I can state with confidence that my favorite labels are the Stick-eez Clothing Labels made by Oliver’s Labels.  They are meant for clothing, but I’ve put them on everything.  They are tiny (a feature I prefer) and they survive the washing machine just as well as they survive the dishwasher. The designs are great and totally customizable.  We are currently loving the Eric Carle “Brown Bear” themed labels.  Plum was two before I figured out that if I put only my family’s last name on the labels I could use them for the entire family!  (Duh.)  They aren’t cheap, but they are worth it (says the woman who has recently purchased 3 replacement water bottles because she forgot to label the first two. Ugh.)

labels

 

One-Man Band Toy by Vilac

What a cool toy! I might even travel to France to buy a few of these for my nieces and nephews.  C’mon, what kid wouldn’t love this?!  I do think, however, that the parents of said nieces and nephews are probably glad this toy is so far away and so hard to get.

homme-orchestre-vilac

 

Casco Bay Butter Co.

I’m pretty sure good bread with good butter is one of the world’s most perfect things. Truly. Simple and indulgent. You have to try these amazing butters made in Maine by the Casco Bay Butter Co.  I’m a sucker for the traditional sea salt, but every one I’ve tried is excellent.  Blue cheese butter melted over a steak?  Garlic and herb butter stirred into mashed potatoes? Yes, please!

logo

butter

 

(Links are for your convenience only.  I don’t get any money – or free butter – for recommending this stuff, it is simply stuff I think is great.)

Things I Love Thursdays

Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens!  Schnitzel with noodles!

Okay, I’ve actually never eaten Schnitzel.

Some things I’m digging right now…

Gelli Baff by Zimpli Kids

GOO!

This stuff is AWESOME.  You mix a packet of sand-like stuff with water and it turns into a bathtub full of jelly!  It comes in a variety of colors and when you’ve had enough of squishing around in the goo, you add the included packet of dissolver and rinse it down the drain.  My kids (I saved it for the big kids, since I wasn’t quite sure how it was all going to work the first time around) LOVED this.  I used 2 packages for our standard-sized bathtub, and it was plenty.  I was a bit concerned about exactly what chemicals I was exposing them to, but it is non-toxic, manufactured in the UK and approved in Europe, so I figured it was at least as safe as them ingesting Kraft Mac & Cheese.  The company also has a SLIME BAFF – we’re trying that next!

Slime Baff

Caveats: 1. It doesn’t dissolve and rinse away quite as easily as they make it sound. 2. Though it is put in a bath tub, no one gets clean, and you might actually find little pieces of jelly on walls and in  kids’ ears. 3. It costs about $7.50 per box. 4. I have no idea if this would be a problem for people’s septic systems. 5. Probably not appropriate for kids under 3.

Maileg Mice

I know, I know… again with the small woodland creatures and anthropomorphizing.  I can’t help it.  Maileg is a Danish company.  They make a lovely collection of whimsical toys. These adorable little creatures come individually, in a variety of outfits and combinations.  I love the ones that come with matchbox-like beds.  There is a cute (expensive) little mouse house you can buy.  And, for some reason, they also sell a mouse-sized toy vacuum. I want all of them. (Click on the photos for links to the pages on the Maileg site.)

Little Sister in a BoxBrother Mouse

As always, these aren’t affiliate links.  I just provide them for your convenience.  Happy Thursday!

Things I Love Thursdays

The latest installment!  Holiday shopping is upon us, so here are some ideas for great gifts for kids.  As usual, I don’t get any sort of kickback for recommending this stuff.  I just like it. 

Micro Kickboard Mini Micro Classic Scooter – This scooter is awesome for the 3-5 set (my children started using it at 2).  The double wheels in the front makes it easy to balance and steer.  It is lightweight, active and fun.  Speaking of Christmas gifts, my 4.5 year old is probably ready for the next size up (the Maxi Micro). 

Mini Kick Scooter by Micro Kickboard. Image from microkickboard.com.

Mini Kick Scooter by Micro Kickboard. Image from microkickboard.com.

 

Elemenosqueeze Blocks by B. All of my children play with these. They are fun as blocks, but they’re so much more.  They are colorful and chewable.  They are squeezable – and my kids love the little whoosh of air squirted on their faces and hair. They are the complete alphabet with great graphics on each side. Young children can stack and balance them more easily than other blocks because they aren’t slippery. AND they aren’t dangerous – since they aren’t hard, they can be thrown and stepped on without pain (yeah, I’m lookin’ at you, Lego). Bonus? They come in a carrying case. 

Images from Amazon.

Elemenosqueeze Blocks by B. Image from Amazon.

 

Edison the Petite Lamp by Fatboy – This is a bit of a strange recommendation for a child-friendly “toy”, but hear me out.  I love this little lamp.  We received this as a gift and I was a bit confused about why until I got it home.  This little LED lamp is molded out of plastic, so there are no light bulbs to mess with.  It has three different brightness levels. It is rechargeable and each charge lasts for 6-8 hours (or more, in our experience).  It has replaced nightlights in our house.  Our children can take it to bed to read a book, and we don’t have to worry about burns, or broken glass or plastic.  It is definitely splurgy, but is well-designed and so very useful. The little switch tag is rubber and can break off, so be sure to use it with kids who won’t try to eat small rubber things. 

fatboy

Edison the Petit by Fatboy. Image from Amazon.

Things I Love Thursdays

And now for your latest installment of TILT!  Just so you know, these aren’t affiliate links, I just like this stuff.

MagnaTiles – These flat, magnetic blocks are awesome. My children play with these just about every day.  We build buildings, make pizza, make rockets, the options are unlimited, and they really encourage creative play. They are even fun for parents.  Downside? Super expensive. 

Image from MagnaTiles.com. Click on the image for to go there.

Image from MagnaTiles.com. Click on the image to go there.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee – I know I’m not alone in my love of this book.  It is a simple (and not too long! Major perk at bedtime – I’m looking at you Mike Mulligan) book about sweet friendship and the illustrations are just lovely.  We have a lot of books, and this one consistently ranks among my favorites.

Amos

Image from Amazon.

Max Daniel Security Blanket – Pickle and Plum chose Angel Dear Blankies as their security blankets/lovies. I thought Pistachio would do the same.  But this soft, silky blanket gifted by my sister is his lovey of choice.  I can’t say I blame him.  It is cozy and luxurious, and a nice size.  It is pretty darn expensive for a lovey but it is his favorite. 

Image from Amazon (click on photo to link there).  You can also see these at maxdaniel.com.

Image from Amazon (click on photo to link there). You can also see these at maxdaniel.com.

Things I Like Thursdays

I’m thinking I should rename this blog feature “Things My Kids Like”…

Skip Hop Zoo Packs

Skip Hop makes great backpacks for kids. My children love them, and they are the perfect size. They are great for day trips, car rides, and flights.  Roomy enough to fit some toys, extra clothes, lovies, but still small enough that a toddler can comfortably carry it. Plum has the bee, Pickle has the zebra, and Pistachio has the giraffe waiting for him when he is big enough to carry it/care. Bonus: these make great and inexpensive gifts!

Image from Skip Hop.

Image from Skip Hop.

 

Kleynimals

Babies love keys. They just do.  But those silly plastic key-wannabes just don’t cut it. Kleynimals are lovely, jingly, well made, and safe for chewing, unlike the key to my minivan. They are bit pricey, but are a favorite of Mr. Pistachio. Bonus: you can put them in the dishwasher, and you can have them engraved for a lovely baby gift.

Image from Kleynimals

 

Note: I have no affiliation with Skip Hop, Kleynimal or Amazon.  I don’t receive anything for liking them, or linking to them, I just like their products.  

Things I Love Thursdays (One Day Late)

Thing I Love: IKEA Landet Farm and Animals

We have lots of great toys in our house. Lots. And with a recent birthday (Happy 1st, Plum!) we got even more.  On one hand, I am so very grateful for our abundance and loved ones’ generosity.  On the other hand, I’m kind of ready to purge some of the abundance.  My house is only so big, and we are slowly becoming overrun by small plastic pieces, music-making toys and STUFF.

But this week’s TIL is a keeper. No plastic, no batteries, just imagination, play, cute furry beasts and everything wraps up into a neat and tidy package. Thank you, IKEA! And thank you to Aunt S. and Uncle M. for sending it!

IKEA's Landet

IKEA’s Landet Farm

IKEA Landet Animals

IKEA Landet Animals

IKEA Landet Farm

IKEA Landet Farm – Everyone tucked in tight!

 

Note: I may be Swedish, but IKEA doesn’t know me. I just love this toy.