Our toys have gotten shitty

Our niece turned one year old a few weeks ago. We decided to send a few toys and one of them was reminiscent of our childhood. Do you remember the Fisher Price Little People Farm? It had a barn door, and when you opened it, it mooed like a cow. There were other farm animals, a fence, and a grain tower. There was a little window at the top of the barn that opened and you could put the little people in there so they could look at the farm where the bales of hay were stored. Ahh….memories.

So a few weeks ago we are in California at Charlie’s house, and the Little People Farm comes out, and we are flabbergasted. The thing is a cheap piece of crap. The barn doors do not open. There is no mooing noise. The little people are not little. The animals are funky looking and fat and their legs do not bend or move. The fence is chintzy. We spent over $40 on hoping to create our childhood memories for Charlie and find that she got the raw end of the deal. It was horrid.

I want to send a note to Fisher Price and ask what they were thinking. Her barn – well the top comes off. No noises come from the farm, and honestly it just looks like a barn lunch pail. Saddened that such a shitty birthday gift made it on her doorstep (compliments of Amazon), we later found a toy store and had fun seeing what fascinated her. In the end we found a cute bowling set up of animals, and had fun having her roll the ball to knock them over. What child does not love knocking over anything? I have to say, I am not biased or anything, but Charlie is damn good at kicking a ball.

After some online research, I found the original Fisher Price Little People Farm going for over $100. Seriously? Fisher Price needs to go back to its roots and produce a toy that lasts as long as the one I used to play with — I mean it lived in the nursery of my church for years and years. Bring back your vintage farm. It was worth it just to hear the moo when you opened the door.


The simplicity of appreciating and sharing…

Chris and I had a solo Christmas. More like it was another day. I was so sick we did not even follow through on the food we were going to make. Instead we watched a few movies and I napped, oh and we slept until 11 am. (What is not to love about that?) We were thinking maybe we would just have today be Christmas Day. I think I am feeling better. It is hard to say as there have been many moments over the last few days where I have felt better, and then whoosh I get hit hard again. No one should ever have to feel this way!

In any case, I was thinking about simplicity. We had a simple Christmas which I love. I absorbed many Christmas trees, gifts being opened, and gatherings via Facebook these past few days, and there are two things I want to mention: opening presents and how to share with others on Christmas.

Opening presents. As a kid our tradition was to take turns selecting a present under the tree for someone else in the family, and when it was someone’s turn everyone gave that person their attention. They could take as long (within reason) as they wanted to open that gift, share gratitude to the giver, and if it were not filled with a million pieces they might even get to put it together quickly. After opening up their present, they cleaned up the mess of paper and ribbons and put it in the trash bag available. You would have your own turn when someone else gave you a gift to open, but you could not hand a gift to yourself. That was our tradition. It has stuck with me. There was a patience, appreciation, and enjoyment with watching each person feel loved and grateful for their gift. Why am I telling you this? Facebook photos yesterday showed crazy amounts of toys, with kids surrounded by them and all the paper and the mess. It makes it hard for me to think that they appreciated them, were grateful to the giver (if they knew who they came from), and I wonder if they cleaned up the mess. Maybe I am horrible, but I think my childhood tradition is one I would like to pass to many.

Which leads me to: share with others on Christmas. Another find on Facebook was a mention of a tradition I do want to start when I have kids that are old enough. This specific family writes a note to Santa on Christmas Eve, leaves a plate of cookies and milk, and each child selects a toy of their own (that they like or no longer play with) and leaves it for Santa to take to a kid somewhere in the world that may not have many toys. A brilliant idea! It is a great way for kids to think about others that do not have what they have and it is a way to have children part with unneeded toys (especially when they are going to be getting more the next morning).

The simplicity of appreciating the gifts we open. The simplicity of sharing with others on Christmas.

Do you remember Fashion Plates?

We are bombarded with a plethora of articles, Facebook posts, and Twitter feeds that bring us back to our past. There are reminders of being children of the 80’s, 90’s, etc. Some of them are cheesy, and some bring back nostalgic memories of toys, songs, and adventures of our childhoods. There are always specific toys that we remember we just had to have. Sometimes it was so we could fit in with our friends, and other times the toys were just the coolest.

Recently I saw something on the Internet that brought back memories of a toy that captivated my attention. For some reason my memory brings me back to my grandma’s house, yet I cannot remember where she kept it and brought out when I came to visit. For some reason I do not remember having this toy at my own house. It is also not a toy that probably had widespread popularity. It was the “1978 Fashion Plates.” It should have been the precursor for Project Runway. I think I loved it because it allowed me to dream and think about how different pieces of an outfit would go together.

How it worked? There were different top, middle and bottom plastic pieces, and you would decide which you wanted to put together. You would place them on the left side, put down a piece of paper, and then use a colored pencil (or crayon) to rub across the plates to make a final design of the look. In the future, if I have a girl, (I know it is girly and pink and all) I would like to try to track one down.

I even found a cheesy commercial for “Fashion Plates.” Watch and be taken back to the 1970’s. Ah the fashion of the 70’s.

What, what? An unkept Barbie?

Okay, I confess. I was a Barbie girl. You would not find me playing with horses, or GI Joes, I was 100% a Barbie girl. You could bring over your horse or GI Joe, but I would only play if it meant that Barbie would be involved. I do not know if it was considered a lot, but I had about 10 different Barbies, in addition to the townhouse (with string powered elevator) and the hair salon. I was obsessed with changing their outfits, combing their hair, and even gave one a haircut. Little did I know that Barbie’s hair would not grow back like mine always had.

my one saved Barbie

my one saved Barbie

Yesterday when I saw this article on the Huffington Post. I had to laugh. What would Barbie look like without her makeup on? Click the above link to see. In my mind, she looks like an exhausted mom. Even so, I think that Mattel should sell a Barbie without makeup. It would show little girls that women are real, and they are beautiful with and without makeup. We do not always look amazing in the morning, and sometimes we do. Either way the reality should be present in toys that kids purchase. Free of fake eyelashes, eyeshadow, and foundation to cover up moles.

I wonder what it would have been like if my Barbie dolls looked like real woman (even in the way their feet are formed) would I have had a different idea of beauty as I grew up? Luckily I got makeup out of my system at an early age, and eventually formulated my own view of what was beautiful to me, and makeup was not on that list. I know the discourse and dialogue around creating an anatomically correct Barbie doll is old news, but I still think it needs to happen. I wonder though if makeup free, “accurate” dolls were created, would little girls be interested? Have we created little monsters?

Hopefully the trend can be reversed and there can be a happy medium. Instead of Barbie without makeup that looks exhausted and worn out, we could just have natural Barbie that has flat feet, wears her Chacos, looks energized, and maybe just wears lip gloss. Is that too much to ask?

Should Girls Have “Girl Legos”?

I am torn. I just purchased a “Lego Friends – Adventure Camper” which is basically the girl version of a camping Lego set. At the time I thought it was the perfect gift for a girl – that for once there was a Lego for a girl who did not always have to do with helicopters, action heroes, and cars. Softer colors, yet could also be used by a boy. It felt like something I would have wanted as a young girl.

Then I saw this petition on Change.org. It is a petition against Lego to “stop selling out girls.” The SPARK Movement and Powered By Girl are behind the petition that debunks the idea that: “girls want pink, already-assembled toys that don’t do anything.” I love this quote from the petition:

“I can speak from personal experience and assure you, LEGO, that girls do like minifigs. They also like Star Wars and Harry Potter, and they like being creative and making up stories that involve adventures and good and evil and things blowing up. But if you keep on excluding them from your marketing vision, soon they will start to believe that they would rather have hot tubs and little plastic boobs.”

So I am torn with my purchase. I think all kids like playing with Legos. Do girls notice the difference? Do they know that Legos have always been designed for boys? Do they care? Do they like having the people who go along with the Legos be girls rather than usually only boys?

I would love to hear what you think. I am trying to decide if I should unwrap and return my gift.