Best Toy Ever: YEARS of Building Fun

As many parents know, some toys just remain a hit year after year, while others have come and gone.

This one has been a clear favorite since they first arrived in 2013.  (Thanks, Amazon purchase history!) It’s the Magna Tiles Clear Colors 100 Piece Set. 

No, this is not a sponsored post either, just an unsolicited review from a happy mom.

We bought these when my son was two years old.  He looked like this then:

toddler

2 year old big boy

Now he’s six years old, and he is still building and creating with these Magna Tiles.  His cousin and eight-year-old sister were playing with them over the weekend.  Inventing who know’s what and having a blast.

Go Mama O. Magna Tiles Tower

2018 and this toy is still going strong

After building and toppling countless towers, he knows now to add “stabilizers” to the bottom. When he runs out of squares, he puts two triangles together to make a square.  He’s learning and playing all at the same time.  Genius! They’ve routinely made a bowling ally (kind of like a maze with a bouncy ball) and many other creations.  These Magna Tiles have withstood much use and abuse through the years, and I can’t recall ever having to throw one piece away! Just last week, I found a stack of them in my eight-year-old daughter’s closet.

I remember buying these Magna Tiles years ago with Christmas money from Great Grandma, and yes, it was a lot of money to spend on one toy.  We’ve also added a building pack, so the kids could create vehicles, which have been mostly trains in our house! (I’ve written about cardboard trains and the Illinois Railroad Museum)

And yeah, we really loved trains – especially here in April 2014:

Little Brother watching trains

My Little Railroader

As I look back on these pictures and blog posts, it IS nice to see that my kids will still play with toys and, in fact, are still little kids (despite their growing size).  I can’t freeze time, as much as I’d like to, and while I want my kids to stay little, stay sweet, I can be more mindful of times that I catch them “being little” and playing intently with toys. Take a picture (as my son requested this morning even though we were busy getting ready for school), and enjoy the moment.

While my kiddos are much too big for the term “babies don’t keep,” I have experienced that time flies when your kids are in school full-time. There will be a time that these toys aren’t as appealing as sports and activities win out over playing at home.

Until then, we’ll gladly embrace the Magna Tile towers and messes that may come along with them.

 

 

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RIP Crappy Kid’s Toy

The first full week of summer vacation, and I gave in to buy my kids some junky toys, one of which is now being dumped in the garbage after a brief, 2-day stay in my daughter’s care. Here is the toy that will be laid to rest in the trash:

image

Is that a mocking smile on that yoyo?

Yes, smiley yo-yo, you are adorable, irresistible even! You stole my daughter’s eye among a toy chest full of treasures.

And I was a yo-yo for giving in and letting each kid choose a toy from the free entertainment at our local library. I viewed the money as a donation, or admission fee for an hour long show from a very funny ventriloquist (after all I can rationalize ANY purchase it seems). And I was in “fun mom” mode, feeling generous and happy for the time with well behaved kids.

Dear yo-yo, you made it home with us, and then just inside the door, you were dropped on your face / body. Oops! Your halves came apart so easily, and when that happened, it drove my daughter to tears.

She wailed, “Mom, it broke!”

I took you in my hands and brought you to the workbench, where I hot glued your plastic insides together and applied a clamp to finish the operation.

After a few hours of drying and resting, I thought you’d make it. I gave you back to your owner, who brought you to our main living room. Two days later, I found you laying on the floor. I picked you up, trying to make you go up and down. Just in one fluid motion, I could see the operation was not successful, as both sides once again came apart.

Now off to the trash you’ll go to rest in peace, sweet yo-yo, but your short life was not in vain. It reminds me to be wary of such treasures and to make kids earn their own money to buy toys like you from now on!

Forget Spring Cleaning – Winter Organizing 101

Winter has us cooped up inside for most days, though Wisconsin weather HAS been quite kind to us as of late, so we’ve been able to enjoy playing in the snow. Still with all the indoor time it is a prime opportunity to get organized!!

A visit from one of my dearest friends, who has know me since 5th grade, was exactly what I needed to get inspired and start organizing.  Here’s how she helped me attack at least one room – our living room:

  1. Dump out one bin or focus on one area at a time. We have a lot of wicker and cloth bins, so we just dumped out their contents to see what toys were where.
  2. Start sorting like items. By doing this, we identified “themes” of play-things. We planned out bins for cars / trains, pretend-play, games, books, technology / music, dolls, blocks and one miscellaneous.
  3. Ask yourself – does this item need to be in this room? We had this conversation about my daughter’s hair-things. They were stored in a bag in the living room. “Why are they in the living room?” my friend asked. “Because I often do her hair in the living room,” I explained. “Why can’t they go in the bathroom?” she inquired. I thought about this, and realized, oh yeah, they CAN go in the bathroom closet instead. Good call, my friend!  You should also ask yourself, “Should this item be kept, sold or donated?” Build a pile each for keep, sell, and donate.
  4. Decide what fits where. Once we took some items out of the room to be placed elsewhere in our house, we started filling up my existing bins.  Before doing so, my friend (who is also a neat-freak) vacuumed out the cloth bins. We filled up bins and she found spots to place them that I didn’t think of before.  It was genius!
  5. Find “homes” for the remaining items. This meant I had a list of bins and plastic tubs to buy. I searched my own home first, so I could make the most of what I already had. Just shifting toys around a bit helped me find similar patterned cloth bins.
  6. Buy said bins / organizers & finalize the room.  It’s amazing what you can fit into bins that are more accessible for kids than a toy’s original packaging! Now I am ready to rotate my kids’ toys more often to keep them entertained this winter. Already, I feel like everything has its place, and we’re picking up before getting something new out.  Clean, organized house = one happy mama!

Here is my new & improved tv stand converted into toy storage:

organized toy storage

With a little help from my friend – the final result of my organization!

At my going rate, I hope to keep on organizing this winter, so come springtime I can be outside with my family!

How do you keep your home organized? Let me know if you have any tips that work well for you!