Monday, December 13, 2010

my favorite things from the toy and game fair (part one)

i received a free pass to the chicago toy and game (chitag) fair a few weeks ago.  our family really enjoyed surveying the latest and greatest on the toy scene.  the kids had a lot more things they wanted to ask for from santa after we went.

i also attended a special bloggers' luncheon where some companies had special tables out for us to see their products up close and personally.  these were some of my favorite things (that are now my kids' favorite things!).

at the absolute top of our list has to be the mega bloks thomas adventure on misty island.  thomas the tank engine is always high on tate's list.  if you factor in the fact that this thomas comes with tracks that you can build yourself in various combinations, and this gift is a trifecta that tate will love to find under the tree.  (in fact, he caught a glimpse of it when i was bringing it home so now he keeps insisting that it is christmas now! and he wants to open it and play with it.)  i really can't imagine a better toy to give tate this year.  i know that he will get hours of enjoyment out of building the track, running thomas around it and making up adventures for thomas and james.  i also like that the pieces you can add on to this set are so affordable.  tate can get another set to add to his collection each year.  i just hope he will share it with the girls sometimes!

of course, the girls will be busy enough with what they find under the tree this year.  the kids have really been excited about tattoos lately (if they get it out of their systems now, does that mean they will be less likely to go for the permanent ones later?).  it has been a little bit hard for me to keep up the supply to match their demand.  i figure the tattoo writer by roseart allows them to be creative while decorating themselves to their heart's content.  my favorite aspect of this is that they tattoos wash off with soap and water!  the kit comes with 3 tattoo markers, 8 rubber stencils and an instruction sheet.
while it is hard to think about being outdoors with temperatures the way they are right now (single digits, anyone?), i love the various backyard safari toys, tools and kits put out by summit.  my biggest fear about living in the city is that my kids will miss out on outdoor time and be less confident when they are outside.  the backyard safari items can make outdoor adventures both exciting and manageable.  the selection is great:  i saw a net that you can use for catching small animals (or your little brother if he's handy!), a bug vacuum that puts standard butterfly nets to shame and a periscope that can see over your neighbor's bushes or be used in the pool to see what is out of the water when you are underwater.  what i like about the backyard safari toys is that each one comes with a patch.  you can make your own sash or buy the backyard safari vest to iron-on your patches.  kids can mark their learning progress in a visible way.

i didn't wait until christmas to give the kids their belly washers and tummy ticklers sippy cups.  they were a fun surprise for our thanksgiving trip to tennessee and have been in constant use ever since.  these sippy cups/sports bottles come with juice but they are washable and reusable as water bottles.  the girls have princess and hello kitty tops while tate loves his lightening mcqueen and thomas the tank engine bottles.  lilianna even has her own princess bottle.  the tummy ticklers have a no-spill top with a less concentrated juice, while the belly washers have stronger juice and a sports bottle type top that pulls out when you are ready to drink.  i like that the kids are more likely to drink throughout the day when they use these extra-fun water bottles.  they are reusable but also affordable in case we lose one or two.  the lids are interchangeable and come in a wide variety to match the interests of any kid, young or old.

lilianna was not left out of the fun.  playtex had a few special goodies for her as well.  we have had some problems getting lilianna to eat and drink anything but my milk.  you can see in the picture how happy she is to have the playtex sippy cup with a straw.  i never thought she would be able to manage the straw when she wasn't even that good at drinking out of a bottle.  this cup allows you to press the sides as they are taking a drink to help them get started sucking from a straw.  i have found this truly ingenious!  lilianna seemed to get the concept pretty quickly when i pressed the sides and now she can drink from it all by herself.  i love this sippy cup.  one of my favorite things about it is that it is bpa- and phlalate-free.  now i don't have to worry about finding a pricey cup to keep lilianna safer from those toxins.  we'll be using these for awhile.  playtex also has a teether that is shaped like a pacifier that i'm hoping to find in lilianna's stocking this year.  she is good at taking her pacifier in and out.  i think this teether will be great for gnawing on since it is stronger and more durable than a pacifier.

i hope that you can get some good holiday gift ideas for your own kids from this.  i am looking forward to watching the kids open their presents this year because i know they are going to love what they find.

i received free items from each of these companies at the chicago toy and game fair.  regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

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