Category: Uncategorized

My Favorite Toys {For Kids Under Three}

favorite-toys

Since Christmas, Cody has officially reached the point where I can say that he does not need anymore toys for a long, long while. He has a house full of toys, many of which he plays with; but he also has a lot of toys that he rarely touches, or only plays with for a few seconds every once in a while. Some of his toys are ones that I think he will grow to enjoy more as he gets older, and some of them are probably ready to be retired and saved for the next baby. But overall, there are a few toys that he loves most of all, and those are the ones I’m going to share with you today.

Toys can be a big source of clutter in families’ homes, so it’s important to make sure that the ones you have are ones that are worth the space they take up. All kids are different, so some of the toys that Cody loves might be completely uninteresting to your children, and vice versa. But if I had to choose one type of toy as the best for almost any kid, I would say toys that encourage imaginative play are the best. Electronic and musical toys, those that encourage physical activity, and creative activities like painting and coloring are all fun, too. Yet I have found that most of them don’t get used as much as imaginative play toys. In Cody’s case, he especially likes toys that let him pretend and mimic activities that he sees me doing.

Here are my top five favorite kids’ toys, for kids under three!

1. Play kitchen

Cody has a play kitchen similar to this, which he plays with every day. Personally, I think Step 2 makes pretty good toys compared to some other popular brands, and the kitchen is a good example. It’s well-built and has cute features that are fun for kids. It comes with a reasonable amount of accessories, too.

2. Play cleaning sets

If I had to pick Cody’s favorite toy, I would pick this one. He loves to run around the house with these cleaning toys, especially the broom. He also really likes the little spray bottle, which actually works but I turned it to “off”. 😉 He enjoys pretending to clean and, ironically, making a mess by scattering these toys all around the house. Melissa and Doug is definitely my favorite toy brand; they make toys that use less plastic, are high quality, and encourage imagination.

3. Animals

These toy animal figurines are another favorite of Cody’s. He likes to play pretend with them, practice his animal sounds, and show us how he can identify them by name. He takes them in the bath sometimes, too. This set is cute and sturdy, and safe for the smallest baby hands. Cody also likes stuffed animals, which were a favorite toy of mine as a child.

4. Cars

Like many boys (and girls!), Cody loves cars. He likes to hold them, drive them around, stack them up, and anything else you could think of. These ones are fun and cute because they make noises and are chunky enough for little hands without being too big. There are many different cars in this line of products, like a trash truck, fire engine, truck and trailer, construction trucks, trains, a plane, a bus… you name it! The fun part is that all of the toy vehicles in this line work and interact with the Go! Go! Smart Wheels tracks, which are expandable.

5. Knick knacks

As many parents will attest, kids often seem more interested in playing with things that aren’t toys. So while I have already shared four of Cody’s most beloved toys, I also have to admit that a lot of his playtime is spent on the box of knick knacks we have assembled for him. This box includes things like small prizes from kids’ play places, cereal box toys, old credit cards, old sunglasses, cleaned plastic food containers, lids to random bottles, and even some rocks. He likes to dump out and examine these items, and use them for different imaginative purposes. While most of these items have just been collected for free around our house, we also have added things like these stacking cups and these plastic chain rings.

Those are the top 5 toys I would choose to keep if I had to get rid of everything else. Lucky for Cody, that’s not the case! 😉 But if you’re interested in limiting the number of toys in your home, or trying to find new toys that will hold your little ones’ interest, then these might be a good place to start.

Happy play time!

Dark Days

Like many other Americans, for me this election has been disillusioning, to say the least.

The truth is, I have never before felt so ashamed and disappointed in my country. I am in disbelief about the candidates who we chose to represent us for this election. I am appalled to think that these individuals are the best we have to offer, as leaders for the nation.

Worse, I’ve never felt more marginalized in the Christian Church as a whole. There are many believers I know who were unsatisfied with either candidate, and weren’t afraid to say so, for which I am grateful. But what disturbs me so deeply is the large majority of believers who not only accept Trump as a good candidate, but are now actively celebrating his election. How can we, as Christians, celebrate the election of a president who publicly presents himself as a racist, a sexist, and a bigot? I am saddened to know that a vast majority of the Christian Church around the nation supported this man with their votes. What does it tell the world about the church, and Jesus, when this is who we choose as our president? We are Jesus’ representatives, and we have failed in this.

Of course, the alternative was arguably not much better. Clinton is certainly not a shining light for Jesus, any more than Trump is. Her platform includes things which as a Christian, I cannot morally agree with. Nevertheless, I did vote for her because, frankly, I believed she was the lesser of two evils. I voted for her because she was the only serious competition to Trump, and at the very least, her message was not one of distrust and divisiveness. I refused to support fear, alienation, and hatred.

As a follower of Christ, I support equality, peace, and love. The sad truth is that neither of these candidates offered much of any of those things. And in truth, as bad as this election was, it’s not as if politics frequently offers up Godly candidates. It is for this reason that I am not a Republican, and I am not a Democrat. Neither party comes remotely close to being a reflection of God. For those Christians who refuse to acknowledge that, I challenge them to read the Bible, pray, and recognize that we are called to a higher standard than this. Watching people celebrate the new Republican control of the government as if it’s some kind of blessing from God is what disturbs me the most about this whole situation. God is not a Republican, guys. (He cares for the poor, for one, and he commands us to welcome foreigners, not build a wall to keep them out.)

Anyhow, I am encouraged to know that there are other believers who have also publicly expressed their disappointment in this election process and results, no matter how few they may be. It reminds me that the entire church isn’t happy with what I feel is a tragedy for our nation, not a cause for celebration.

As disappointed as I am with what just happened, my hope is still in Jesus alone. It has to be, because any hope I had left for our nation has been demolished. As a follower of Jesus, I have to respect President-Elect Trump and love him as a person. As such, I will continue to pray for him, and strive to forgive him continuously as he inevitably continues to behave in ways that make my blood boil and my heart cry.

I can’t say that I’m proud to be an American. In fact, I’m considering whether I want to be one at all anymore.

But that’s actually okay, because contrary to popular belief, God is not partial to the United States of America. It’s just a country, a human construction, and a deeply flawed one at that. I am not called to be loyal to my country, but to God’s Kingdom. I am, of course, called to pray for my country, its leaders, and its people. I also have total respect and gratitude for the brave men and women who defend my rights, in the name of our country.

But I’m also called to stand and disagree when I see evil things happening here. So that’s what I’m doing now. I don’t like what I’m seeing, and through my mourning I can only pray that somehow, God will use these dark times for the greater good. I know he will, because that’s just the sort of thing he does.