Big Hugs Elmo Gets No Love

I’ve been waiting for a recall announcement to come out on the Big Hugs Elmo doll.  I kept expecting it to come out any moment now, but have been disappointed by Hasbro’s refusal to issue a recall.  Why?

Big Hugs Elmo Gets No Love (Cloth Diaper AddictsWell, it turns out that there’s more to the furry little monster than spindly arms and complaints of being hugged too tight.  There have been reports of batteries melting in the little guy.  As soon as I heard about it on Facebook (it happened legit to a friend of a friend, not an “I’m hearing this thing that happened to a friend of a friend’s mom’s aunt’s cousin’s wife’s sister-in-law’s niece” thing), I pulled the batteries out of mine and called Wal-Mart.  Yes, we could return it, no problem… and they’d already had two returned that day for the same reason in the Prince George store. [Read more…]

Vtech Baby’s Learning Laptop – Sturdy and Durable

For Norton’s first Christmas, we went a bit overboard on buying presents.  Granted, my family tradition is excess, so it’s not surprising.  We still have Norton’s toys from that first Christmas.  Some he still plays with, others he’s outgrown and have been passed on to Eudora.  Then there are those that they “share.”  The Vtech Baby’s Learning Laptop is one that they “share.” [Read more…]

Thomas the Train – Coming Soon to a Christmas Tree Near Me?

Last year, I wanted so badly to get Norton hooked on Thomas the Train.  I took him to Gingerbread Toys, the local toy store (yay for supporting small local businesses!), and was crushed when he had no interest in Thomas the Train at all.  This year, I hadn’t even considered getting him Thomas the Train.  I figured we’d get him an awesome kitchen set and other things to go along with that.  You know, things that will facilitate imaginative play.

While I was out grocery shopping at my local big box store, Norton spotted some Thomas the Train engines on the shelf.  He got so excited when he pointed to them and shouted “Train!”

We don’t watch Thomas in our house.  Actually, about all we watch is Sesame Street.  However, we do live near train tracks that are part of a rather busy shipping line.  (In Prince George, it’s not so much a “wrong side of the tracks” thing as much as it’s a symptom of Prince George being a huge railroad and forestry town.)  Every time Norton hears the train, he yells, “Bye bye, train!”  He’s also delighted when we drive away and see the train along the road.

So with that in mind, I’m thinking that maybe we need to get some Thomas or Chuggington in the house.  I’m leaning towards some kind of train with the wooden tracks because they’re compatible with each other, generally better made and more sturdy, and have a better resale value for when my little ones are no longer little enough to be interested in Thomas the Train.  Besides, I keep thinking that the Misty Island Adventure Set would be something really cool for us to play with.

Thomas the Train – Coming Soon to a Christmas Tree Near Me?

How cool would this be on Christmas morning?

Or perhaps we’ll consider getting Melissa & Doug or Brio wooden train sets.  After all, Thomas, Chuggington, Melissa & Doug, and Brio are all compatible.

Do you have a wooden train enthusiast in your house?  Which train product do you (or your enthusiast) prefer?

Sesame Street Hide and Seek Pals Review

Sesame Street Hide and Seek PalsIt’s that time again.  Time to look for a ton of Sesame Street toys to appease my Elmo-loving toddler.  Last year, we went crazy with the Sesame Street paraphernalia.  Some of it is still available this year, so it’s time to give you a review before you buy it for yourself.

A last minute, spur of the moment purchase was the Sesame Street Hide and Seek Pals Review.  At first, Norton wasn’t terribly interested in the toy.  I was glad; the toy got on my nerves.

How Sesame Street Hide and Seek Pals Works

Well, it’s a pretty simple little thing that is exactly like it sounds.   You’ve got four windows on 123 Sesame Street.  When you pull the lever, the characters rotate behind the shuttered windows.  Elmo then tells you to find one of the characters or to open a particular colored door.  Rather than telling you that you did or didn’t open the right one, it just tells you which one you actually opened (or which Muppet you actually found).

What Sesame Street Hide and Seek Pals Teaches

It encourages fine motor skills by teaching the child how to manipulate the different window levers and closing them back.  The toy will also teach colors and numbers by asking the child to open the particular window.

Ultimately, Norton did become interested in the toy a few months after Christmas.  He does enjoy hearing his favorite characters talk to him, and he’s always been fascinated with opening and closing things.  Do I still find it annoying?  Yup.  Thankfully, that’s a toy that Norton plays with mainly in his bedroom.  On the plus side, it’s also quite durable.  It’s held up with absolutely no problems.  The sounds work, the batteries keep charged, and Norton still enjoys it.

Do you have the Sesame Street Hide and Seek Pals toy?  Would you recommend it to a friend?

Toddler Toys – What’s Under the Tree for Norton? (Sesame Street Edition)

Now that I’ve discovered that Norton has a deep and abiding love for Elmo, toddler toys for Christmas became significantly easier.  In fact, it’s safe to say that I am currently done shopping.  Or at least, the husband has decided that I’ve bought enough toddler toys for Norton’s Christmas and it’s time to stop shopping now.  Boo.  I haven’t even put up a Christmas tree, and he’s already telling me to stop shopping.

Because Norton finally likes something and I can identify it without watching him for a reaction, Norton is getting a Christmas that’s a bit Sesame Street influenced.

[Read more…]

Nostalgic Toddler Toy Found on the Cheap

I had a great childhood.  I was spoiled.  I had a ton of toys.  And I took care of my toy.  In fact, I took such good care of my toys that some of them were used by Andy when he was little.  And my nieces and nephews played with them, too.  There are a few toddler toys that I remember fondly…  I’d have to say my favorite toy was my Radio Flyer horse.  I got him for a Christmas present, so I named him Christmas.  I cried when my mother insisted that I throw him away… and I was nearly twenty years old.  Actually, I’m still pretty ticked that he’s gone.

I relate a lot of my awesome childhood experiences to the fun that I had playing with certain toddler toys.  There was creativity and imagination involved all the time, and my big sisters would often play with me.  I want Norton to have an awesome childhood and have fun and play, so I often look for toys that are as close to what I had and loved as possible.  (This love is why Norton has a lot of Little People toys.  I loved my Little People, so Norton now has the Little People Animal Sounds Farm, the Noah’s Ark set, and other play sets for his entertainment.  Yes, we play with it together.) [Read more…]

The Toddler Toy Gift Idea That Didn’t Work

I desperately wanted Norton to be interested in trains.  Trains are a stereotypical toddler toy for a little boy, right?  Even better, trains are a toddler toy that I kind of think are awesome and I could get down on the floor and play with.  Play them with Norton, I mean.  Then, of course, there’s the whole “Prince George is a railroad town” thing.  And that one of those train lines runs near my house and can easily be observed.  And that Norton’s Grumpy worked for the railroad and loves trains, so it’s something that they would play with together… and… well, really, I could list a thousand reasons why I would love for Norton to develop an obsession with trains. [Read more…]

Toddler Toys for Christmas – What’s Norton Getting?

Shopping for toddler toys is always an adventure.  There are things to look at, like is it actually a good toy?  Is it educational?  Will my kid enjoy it?  Is it a toddler toy that will get played with?  Or will it end up languishing in a bin, forgotten?  Obviously, I’d prefer my choice in toddler toys to be things that Norton will love and play with, and then outgrow and be in great condition when next kid is ready to play with them.

Not that I ask much or anything.

We haven’t gotten much so far.  Part of the problem is that we keep handing Norton toys to play with while we’re trying to shop and we buy them for him.  And he gets to keep them, of course.  I think he’s too old to get to play with toddler toys in the box at the store and then put them away for Christmas.  So, yeah. [Read more…]

The Difficulty of Toddler Toys and Christmas

Last year, I thought that shopping for toys for Norton’s Christmas was hard.  He was only nine months old, and there really aren’t a whole ton of toys for that age group.  The older a baby gets, the more there is to choose from.  Still, in the end, Norton got a ton of toys to play with… some of which are toys that he didn’t develop an interest in until roughly six months ago.  This year, I’m struggling with Christmas gifts for Norton.  I’m not struggling with toddler toys because of a lack of selection.  I’m struggling with toddler toys because I want good stuff that he’ll play with for a long time.  I don’t want to throw my money away on crap.

So I did what any reasonable, research obsessed mom would do.  I checked the “hottest toys of 2011” lists.  And that’s when I started to run into problems. [Read more…]