Festive Fireplace and a Top Five List

We finally got around to putting some shelves up on either side of the fireplace and it really finishes it off.  We built them out of  pine boards and then I painted them white.  Aaron also finished the caulking along the top of the crown moulding and I puttied nail holes and painted and it looks so much better now.  We finished it all in the nick of time to decorate for Christmas!

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While we are speaking about Christmas I thought I’d give a top five list of big ticket gift items for toddlers to little kids.  These “toys” have been worth the money we spent on them, providing hours and hours of fun. So here they are in no particular order:

1.  Strider Bike (or some kind of balance bike).  We have been so amazed with the enjoyment Myles has had on his bike.  We got it for him when he was about 2.5 years old although they can technically use them as long as they are able to walk steadily.  We did have one for Leah this past summer when she was 18-22 months and she enjoyed having a bike like her brother but was very slow on it and never really took off gliding, but I do know other kids who were gliding fast before or around 2 years old.  I really like the Strider brand because the bikes are SO light and easily handled by a small child.  The seat also goes low enough that an 18 month old would be able to sit on the seat with their feet flat on the ground.  We paid around $90 for each of our bikes and it looks like $100 will buy a base model now.  This is a fun gift because there are also add ons that can be given by other relatives or as a birthday gift later in the year etc.  Myles has a number plate, snow skis which allow the child to use the bike all year round and we are borrowing a taller seat post which extends the use of the bike.  The best thing about this gift is that is encourages physical activity and fosters a love for cycling at a young age(which was my husband’s goal:) He needs a partner).  The child masters balance very quickly and the transition to a two wheeler is very smooth, in fact Myles learned to ride his pedal bike this summer at 3.5 years old.IMG_2192

2.  Italtrike Ride-on toy.  This may just look like another junky ride-on toy that you would pick up at any department store, but…actually that’s not even true, it doesn’t!  Look at those nice clean lines!  I won’t be judgey anymore, I used to loathe anything branded with characters plastered all over it before I had kids.  Now I see that if my kids like a toy and they play well with it then it doesn’t really matter, but this ride-on is AMAZING!  It moves like a dream, almost floating around, the front wheels turn 360 degrees so it pivots effortlessly, IT HAS RUBBER WHEELS-like soft rubber that DOES NOT SCRATCH OUR WOOD FLOORS, and the whole thing is a small package so it tucks away anywhere.  And it doesn’t have any annoying sounds or beeps or flashes or batteries that need to be replaced.  And if you have more than one you can stack them on top of each other when not in use.  There’s also a compartment in the seat to stick little toys and such.  Someone is usually sitting on this or buzzing around on it but I don’t even notice because the wheels don’t make noise.  I know it is a toy, and yes it makes me excited.  At around $50, it isn’t much more than that junky ride-on you were going to get.

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3.  Wooden Train Set.  I think this one is fairly obvious.  Most people recognize the fun and imagination involved in them.  Myles has had a great time with his, and Leah loves joining in too.  We bought ours used and have purchased other sets to add on to it.  Most brands of track will work together and Myles uses his for his cars too.  Right now he is into Chuggington, so we bought a few Chuggington trains and boom, it’s a whole new track.IMG_2648

4. Dolly Stroller.  Again, this is something most people would have as a standard toy.  We got one like this for Leah last year for Christmas and she loves it.  Myles does too.  He had a stage where he always had his toys piled in it pushing it around the house.  It also has wonderful rubber wheels that do not mark our floors.  It is very much like full sized stroller but small.  It adjusts many different ways and can fit a few dollies.  Leah had it outside this summer and she just loved pushing it around.

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5.  Zip Line.  This will make some of you cringe and it’s also probably not for toddlers.  Our kids are quite active and adventurous and if we don’t provide appropriate outlets for that, we will likely find Myles hanging out on the roof one day.  This is a fun toy!  Even for adults.  Leah has been on it on her own but we walked behind it so that it was going slowly.  Myles can completely operate it on his own.  It says it is for ages 8 plus but I feel very confident in Myles’ ability to use it safely.  We had it in time for their birthday party and everyone enjoyed it.  You could make a DIY version, or you could buy a kit.  We opted to buy a kit for our first try.  We paid around $120 but then also spent $60 or so to build our platform so how much you spend depends a bit on what your yard is like with slopes etc.  We got it online but I did see the exact kit at Mastermind Toys in store. IMG_5784 IMG_5792 IMG_5788

Here’s a bonus suggestion for any millionaires reading this.

6.  Imagination playground.  Seriously, these blocks are very very expensive.  So expensive that I don’t think they even give you the price without requesting it.  Our early years program has them occasionally and they are fun!  So, if you are a millionaire and if you purchase your own set of these, please invite me and my family over to play.  Thanks.IMG_2718

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