Chuggington vs. Thomas Wooden Railway

A lot of little kids are enjoying the wooden trains.  Who can blame them?  Trains are just awesome.  Still, though, when parents are trying to figure out how to indulge their child’s train love, they often find themselves wondering some big questions.  Chuggington or Thomas?

While my friend Jo likes to tell me that I’m a big geek for the massive Train Track Tuesday layouts, I insist that I don’t actually play with the trains.  I just build them so that my kids can enjoy them.  Although I do sit down to encourage that my kids play and use some imagination….  Okay, fine, I play trains with my kids from time to time.

All Wooden Train Brands Play Nicely Together

It doesn’t matter if you’re buying some spare pieces from the bulk bin at the local toy store or if they are Chuggington, Thomas, Brio, Melissa & Doug, or whatever else.  They all interconnect.  That means you (or your children) can put together a more varied world.

Train Track Tuesday (Cloth Diaper Addicts)

Yes, It’s Expensive

Sure, you can frequently find smaller complete sets used for $100.  However, when you go to the local toy store to buy a wooden railway roundhouse, you’ll find that they are well over $75.  (And over $100 in Canada.)  If you bargain hunt, buy extra track pieces from the bulk bin instead of going name brand, and look for sales, it will only cost an arm instead of an arm and a leg.

All Brands Aren’t Equal

Sure, the track all plays nicely together, and some of the “off brands” do have awesome accessories.  Bridges and tunnels in particular can be awesome from the not so big name brands.  I love the Melissa & Doug Skyline Bridge.  But the “off brand” engines are a bit of a disappointment.  Don’t go cheap on the engines and cars, because they are just far less interesting.  The engines are often flat and boring; the cars are often flimsy.  Stick with Thomas or Chuggington engines and cars.

Which is better? Thomas or Chuggington?

Neither.  Both.  If you’re looking at the television series, I’ve got nothing.  We’ve never seen Chuggington shows and watch the odd Thomas on Netflix.  While I’m particularly fond of Sir Topham Hatt/The Fat Controller, I don’t notice the trains seeming to have distinct personalities in the newer episodes.  But with the toys?

Norton likes the Thomas trains best of all.  They are all older style engines, and let’s just face it, those are way cooler.  They’re cute and aesthetically pleasing.  Skarloey is his favorite.

However, for Eudora’s little hands, the chunkier, less detailed in shape Chuggington engines have a distinct advantage.  They’re the more modern, block shaped engine rather than the old fashioned “steamies,” so they’re easier for smaller hands to hold and maneuver.  That block shape means that there are no chimneys for Eudora to put in her mouth.  They are also just a smidgen taller, so there’s the occasional thing that won’t work together.  (For example, Chuggington engines don’t fit so well under the Thomas the Train Stop & Go Station… but the Thomas the Train Early Engineers engines don’t fit so well, either.  I’ve yet to run into any other clear cut cases where the two products don’t play well together.)

If you’re out to do a full-blown themed room, you’ll do better with Thomas.  There are more readily available companion merchandise pieces like beds, bedding, and even a little toddler sized living room suite.

What Do I Suggest?

Mix and match.  Mix and match as much as possible and remember your child’s tastes.  Sure, both Chuggington and Thomas have roundhouses.  But the Chuggington Double Decker Roundhouse with its nifty little elevating platform and options to separate may be more interesting to a young child than the single layered Deluxe Roundhouse or Tidmouth Sheds.  However, the Thomas And Friends Wooden Railway – Quarry Mine Tunnel and the Chuggington Wooden Railway Rocky Ridge Mine Tunnel are practically indistinguishable.  And the Thomas the Train Deluxe Over the Track Signal is way more awesome than the Chuggington equivalent.

I suggest that you go for the coolest option that’s within your budget.  Since they are frequently the exact same price, it’s a bit easier.

Do you have a wooden railway enthusiast in your home?  How do you choose between Thomas and Chuggington?

If You Give a Kid an iPad…

Everyone loves the classic book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and its sequels like If You Give a Moose a Muffin and If You Give a Pig a Pancake.  It’s all about how when you do something, there are consequences, whether planned or otherwise.  It turns out that if you give a kid an iPad, it’s no different.

If You Give a Kid an iPadIf You Give a Kid an iPad (Cloth Diaper Addicts)

If you give a kid an iPad… then she’ll need a fancy case to protect it.

Then she’ll need an app to play.

After that, she’ll want to sing a song.

Then she’ll need a drink…

When she spills the drink on the iPad, she’ll cry.

Then you’ll need to get a towel to help clean it up.

When she sees the towel, she’ll insist that she can do it herself.

Then it’ll get on the floor.

After that, you’ll need to get out the Spot Bot to clean the carpet.

She’ll hear the Spot Bot and then run off to avoid the noise.

She’ll take the iPad with her.

She’ll fall asleep in her room with the game on.

The iPad battery will run down.

You’ll gently slip away with the iPad to charge it

After she wakes up from her nap, she’ll run out into the living room with great enthusiasm.

Then she’ll see the iPad and want to play an app.

Wordless Wednesday – Explorers




Faces of Eudora – Wordless Wednesday

faces-of-eudora faces-of-eudora-2 faces-of-eudora-3

A Rotten Dog that Bites Doesn’t Like Kids?

I was reading through some blog posts when I found a post about a friend’s rotten dog.  She determined that her friend has a rotten dog because it bit… and based on two biting incidents (I don’t know the details of the first), she seems to have come to the conclusion that the dog has decided that it doesn’t like children.

Rotten Dog Hates Children? (Cloth Diaper Addicts)

Can’t you just see the murderous intent in his eyes?

I’m no stranger to a rotten dog.  Winston the Wonder Chihuahua is a terrible little dog, but oh, how I love him.  And Norton loves him.  And really, he loves Norton.  However, he’s also nipped Norton.  I’ve said that each and every time it was not the dog’s fault.  It was not Norton’s fault.  It was my fault for not separating them fast enough.  And I have very passionate viewsabout the decision to bring a loving family pet into your home: it’s for a lifetime.  Sure, sometimes a pet can be successfully rehomed, but there are times when a loving family pet is so devoted to a family member that rehoming is not an option.  If you’ve ever seen a dog pine for its master, then you know it’s a sad, sad thing. [Read more…]

Fearless Toddler Gives Mom a Fright!

Eudora.  She’s sweet.  She’s snuggly.  She’s cuddly and charming.  She’s also a completely and utterly fearless toddler.

For a while now, Eudora has been tearing around the house, climbing and playing.  She’s so very adept at climbing that it has left her totally fearless about getting up or down.  The first time she caused me a mini-stroke was when she decided to climb out of my bed.  My bed is so high that I use an ottoman to help me step into bed.  Eudora decided that she wanted to get down, so she crawled over to the side of the bed, turned around so her feet were dangling over the edge, and slid herself off.  I caught her before she hit the floor.

Fearless Toddler Gives Mom a Fright (Cloth Diaper Addicts)The most consistent display of that irrepressible fearless toddler quality is on the changing table.  She, like most toddlers, hates the diaper change.  It requires staying still and cooperating.  It restricts movement.  In her mind, it just plain sucks.  That means that she takes the most reasonable course of action for a fearless toddler: she tries to slide down, feet first.  Unfortunately, Eudora absolutely does not look when she tries to climb down.  She just slides and expects to land safely.  I’ve always managed to wrestle her back on the table.

The worst, though, was at the park: we decided to take advantage of the long weekend and burn off some of Norton’s obnoxious energy by taking the kids to one of our local parks.  Eudora loves the swings, and it’s the one place that Norton can actually push her and have it be okay.  There are also slides and climbing structures that both kids enjoy.

I didn’t expect Eudora to enjoy the slide.  When Norton was her age, we took him to that same park and he cried when we went down the slide together.  Eudora was already showing her fearless toddler behavior by going down alone and squealing “Whee!” as she slid.  That was surprising… and pretty neat.  It became less cool to watch when she decided to try to climb the large, arching ladder that went to the top platform.  Norton won’t even climb it.  He prefers to stick to the safer rock wall.

Time and time again, Eudora ran to that blue ladder to climb.  I pulled her off repeatedly… and finally decided to just let her go.  She kept going back to it, and I would be right there.  She went.  Every time my fearless toddler pulled herself up on that ladder, I died a little.  I wanted to be a helicopter mom and hover, but bring her to safety before she climbed too much.  I finally contented myself with being extremely close and able to grab her if she got into trouble.  Anything else wasn’t going to stop her.

So she climbed.  And she kept climbing, slowly but surely, clutching her little pink monkey as she went.  When she was pulling herself up to the third rung, she slipped.  I rushed over and grabbed her as she dangled from that rail by her little hands.  I saw a flash of fear in her eyes when I got her down, and she managed to get her little lip bleeding a bit.

In the end, though, she was okay.  That little flash of fear didn’t stay with her, though.  She was still determined to climb any obstacle and wouldn’t let anything stand in her way.

Do you have a fearless toddler?  How do you keep them from getting too badly injured?

Comedy of Errors Makes an Angry Mother

There are some things in the world that can make me an angry mother.  I readily admit that I have a bit of a temper, and things can bother me.  However, one area that seldom brings out the angry mother within is retail staff.

You see, I worked in a grocery store through high school and college.  I know that customers can suck.  As such, I usually cut retail and wait staff a lot of slack.  Usually.  Today, it was a cashier that brought out the angry mother. [Read more…]

Baby Talk – Eudora Gets Vocal

Language development has often been a topic of discussion in our home.  There was a lot of concern because of Norton’s language delay.  Now, though, the conversation is more joyous: we talk about Eudora’s baby talk.

It’s amazing.  I’m pretty sure that Eudora’s baby talk is far more developed than I thought it was: we’ve had moments of hearing her say “Bye-bye, Daddy!” as the husband made his way to work.  She’s been naming “puppy” for a while now.  Just yesterday, she pointed to the kitty on her shirt and called it a puppy.  (We have no cats, so she’s not exactly exposed to them.) [Read more…]

Sibling Relationship Confuses Me

I have completely and utterly given up on understanding the sibling relationship between Norton and Eudora.  Seriously.  I’m just so done.

I expected a certain amount of rivalry… especially since Eudora’s birth ended up with Norton hardly seeing anyone but his grandparents for a week since I was released from the hospital with a horrendous stomach flu.  Then it sort of settled into Norton just ignoring her, which, while not an ideal sibling relationship, was better than him throwing things at her or whatever. [Read more…]

Saying Good-Bye to the Crib

It’s done.  It’s official.  I will never have another baby crib in my house again.  Norton has been in a toddler bed since December 2011.  Eudora is our last baby… and we’ve converted the crib to a toddler bed for her.  It’s been nearly two months since we’ve made the change over… and our darling daughter is only fifteen months old.  I knew when we did it that we were saying good-bye to the crib for the very last time.

Why did whe convert the crib so early? [Read more…]