Monday, July 21, 2008

Toy Philosophy

I just finished reading Susan Linn's The Case for Make Believe: Saving Play in a Commercialized World. And WOW! It was good. Not that the ideas were surprising in any way to me, but I think everyone should read it because a lot of the times we forget how important play can be for children and how our ideas about fun as adults can sometimes get in the way of children's agendas and development. So here's the review that I just wrote for my booky blog. At last you'll know why I always put up gift suggestion lists even when I know no one will pay any attention to them. ;)

This book, by Susan Linn, is one of those that I think every parent, every educator, every person involved in the upbringing of children in our society, should read. Or at least this type of book: the kind that explains how some things really are good or bad for our children, and what we can do about. For example, the problems with consumer culture, and toys that we think are educational that actually stunt the imagination, and the loss of playtime that is crucial for mental, physical, emotional well-being.

So. Read it. But if you can't, here are what I consider the high points, taken mostly from pages 216-221 and edited slightly for blog-readability and to reflect my own emphasis:

Remember that:

--We buy our kids way too many toys.
--Toys linked to media programs can limit creative play rather than encourage it.
--When picking toys to encourage creative play, less is more. If it moves and speaks, it deprives children of opportunities to move and speak for it.
--Toys that can be used in lots of different ways and that promote open-ended play are great. But a block building kit that only builds one thing diminishes the creative value of playing with blocks.
--Babies don't really want or need electronic toys or TV characters. All the world's a toy to a baby.They'll fall in love with whatever creature is familiar to them, and generic creatures don't show up on candy wrappers--they aren't designed to sell you other products.
--You can find ways to take a shower and cook dinner and take car trips without using TV as a crutch, and then your children won't have to use TV as a crutch to be entertained.

--Build unstructured time into your children's lives so they can learn how to generate their own creative play.
--Give them chances to play on their own.
--If you allow children regular access to screen media, set limits on time and have scheduled screen-free time.
--Be conscious about your choices and remember that while TV, computer games, and web sites can be entertaining, most don't promote creative play (even if they say they do!).
--Invest, from infancy, in toys promoting open-ended play. Great suggestions at Honor your child's interest, but ideas include: blocks, toy doctor's kits, firefighter's hats, puzzles, and puppets.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

We miss you, Grandma! ...and Grandma, and Grandpa, and Grandma, and Grandpa, and Grandpa!

My mom was here to visit this month, and she got to spend about a week with us, split up over the span of two weeks, and of course while she was gone to my uncle's in the middle was when Grandma and Grandpa D came to visit for a few days.

James LOVED it all. He is finally at that age where he really and truly gets it that these people love him and are here to pour their love and attention all over him. I'm sure that trip to Oklahoma in May helped, too, but it is really neat to get to see him so excited over grandparents.

Sadly, there's a dark side to this whole maturation thing. That is, when we took my mom to the airport last Tuesday, James started bawling as soon as she got out of the car.

He gets it. Along with understanding how amazing grandparents are, now he understands how horrible it is to have them all so far away. =(

But, moving on to happier topics, here are the pictures I managed to take on Grandma Stephanie's last full day here. Of course we spent it playing in the sand.

Not a real smile, I don't think, although he was full of those--he's also recently learned how much fun it is to cheese for the camera.

Real smile. Wheeeeee!

We like to go THWACK! with the "Big Shovee."

And then we do our baby yoga...Downward Dog, to be exact. Luckily enough, at this point Daddy happened to be walking up, so he joined us for another round of ecstatic swinging.

We miss our family!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Alisa Post

There's something familiar to me about Alisa. Let's see...

Helping Tyler in the pool.

Helping James open presents.

Running around playing with James on the playground.

Mediating between James and Olivia and the DIGGER!

Helping Olivia up the playset.

...Oh, I know what it is. She reminds me of ME! =) You know, always taking care of the younger kids and loving every minute of it.

What an awesome friend for James. Much love to Alisa and her whole family.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


I am sooooo behind on photo uploading. I never get time with a computer and the internet and a charged camera all in the same place. And here I have it but I'm also exhausted, so I'm just going to skip the rest of the excuses and show you this:

James has a wonderful friend named Alisa who is like his little mommy. I had a whole post about her planned but who knows when I'll get to it, so this is the pic I love best. We had a couple of people over for a mini pool party on Saturday and, as you can tell, it was a blast.

More pictures, eventually. I miss you, internet.

P.S. That's James' cousin Breyanna, Tyler, and Alisa's brother David in the background there. Good times. ;)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Birthday presents, continued

Today is James' birthday. Holy crap, how did two years go by so fast? That's such a cliche but also so true.

So we got him a train set and a kitchen set over a month ago, and those were our big presents to him. Also, Grandma Stephanie, Grandma Robin and Grandpa Dave all came to visit, so that was like a big huge present for all of us as well. And we're throwing James a party on Saturday, so that's part of our present to him also.

You wanna know what he got us for his birthday? A big ol' pile of poo in the living room.

That's right. He pooped in our living room tonight after dinner.

Big pile.

Of poop.

And then he ran over to me and said "PEE POTTY!" So I said okay and we started to run to the potty but then I almost tripped over the ginormous surprise poop.*

I'm starting to wonder if we should just conveniently "forget" to celebrate our birthdays next year. Are we cursed?

In other news...We taught James that he's two today, and he managed to say it to us once when we asked. Then we said it again: "How old are you today, James?" And he said "Four!" So we said " old are you today?" And he said "...THREE!" And then we finally got him to say TWO again.

And then just now Ben asked him and he said FIVE!

I almost believe him.

*Incidentally, he DID actually go pee in the potty. But it seems we still have some learning to do before we're completely done mastering this whole potty thing.