Thursday, November 5, 2015

Thinking, Playing, Reading

Thinking:

“What if we took all the money and time we put into tutors and coaches and private lessons, and invested instead in making our children holy? Not well-known and praised and celebrated for what they do, but humble and meek and truly holy in who they are?”

More here.


Playing:
Some great deals on some of our top favorite indoor toys:

Kapla blocks-once these come out, every age participates, even the teenagers.  I honestly thought, "What is the big deal with these things?  They are small planks of wood!"  but apparently they are irresistible.  My mom has the huge set of these (being the Montessori teacher she is, she is the one who introduced my kids to them) and at every family get together there is some huge protected creation that we all must walk around and not get near, built by one of mine, or a cousin.  They have five full stars on Amazon which is pretty rare, and so it's not just us weird ones that like them.


This is an indoor toy for us and once again it is has worked it's way up from the basement again (our ceilings are too low down there for proper bball games) where it will stay all winter long.  When my oldest walks in the door during college breaks, this is the first thing the littler boys challenge him on.  Every day they play. .

Yes, sometimes it drives me crazy-all furniture pushed to the side, not a pretty look, basketball hoop front and center. Yes, there are heated arguments about rules and who is being too rough, and yes I've marched myself in there and said,"Enough!" when I've heard the ball hit a lampshade too many times (which is also why I buy discount lamps). But I have four sons, and the winters are long and they love basketball, and I love that they play together and burn off energy.

We've tried a few other hoops, this is by far the best one and is the keeper. (The rim doesn't bend down, the strings stay attached, and it has a lot of leeway in it's height.)  If it can survive years at OUR house it can survive anywhere.

This is the classic set, and one of the best toy purchases ever. 

KidKraft Vintage Kitchen - White ($112 which is more than half off)

Janey loves this kitchen and it's really really on sale right now-for less than Santa might have paid his elves to make it last year during prime-sale-season.  

I researched kitchens like crazy when I thought Janey was old enough for one, and this is what we chose after my cousin gave it a glowing review, BUT with this warning.  It comes in a lot of pieces.  If you wait till Christmas Eve to put it together you will be sobbing at 4 a.m. from exhaustion.  This is a job for a grandparent or an uncle or an older sibling you might hire for twenty bucks to lock himself in his room and assemble the thing.
It is sturdy and the knobs turns, the shelves move, the little doors open and close and the little phone is a sweet touch.  
Reading:
I reserved about a dozen Thanksgiving/autumn themed children's books from the library, and only liked two.  I always seem to draw towards the "vintage" ones, I know I've mentioned this before, but I think it's because of two reasons:
1.  There is an actual story-not just choppy sentences, or something silly, but a simple story-with characters, and a plot and conflict, and resolution.

2. The illustrations are rarely cartoon-ey or slick or ultra contemporary, but are recognizable by a child (like a squirrel looks like a squirrel and are not pieces of paper cut in squares in all different colors, that mildly resemble a squirrel if one squints right.)  Sometimes I feel like the picture books today are all trying too hard-to hard to teach a politically correct lesson, be original, have crazy weird artwork or some other concept behind them, or to win some award, rather than to just tell a story to a child. 



This is the sweetest story ever, I adored it, (and bought myself my own copy), and so did Patrick and Janey.  I love Miss Suzy!  

Mean squirrels took her home that she keeps so clean and works so hard at, and she must move to the attic of a house nearby to escape them, where she meets a nice group of toy soldiers that in the end, give her a wonderful gift.  



Here's another about a little boy squirrel who is taken advantage of by a mean old squirrel, and resolves the crime through bravery, and also forgiveness.

The boy's read-a-loud book we are loving for the month is:

20 comments :

  1. Thanks to you I invested in a magna tiles set a few years ago and hands down it is the best toy ever. Each year I add another set and they are all in a heavy wicker basket to make clean up easy. They are always the favorite when a friend is over - they make little houses for mine craft figures, garages for hot wheels, or elaborate structures to knock down. I recommend it to anyone looking for a gift...not inexpensive but totally worth the price, and after all the wow gifts are put aside, magna tiles is the one they will continue to play with! Love!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Sarah
    Any suggestions on girls books for preteens (age 11)??? Also was wondering what your thoughts were for girls at age 11 for good Christmas gifts?
    :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Stacie! I will do some posts soon for gifts for boys/girls and different ages-especially those pre-teen/teen years that can be hard!

      Delete
    2. Yay!!! So glad to hear this! Just in the process of coming up with some Christmas gifts for my 10 and 13 year old boys. I love your toy suggestions! We have picked up so many of your recommendations. Thanks so much :)

      Delete
    3. I'm with Kendra. As my kids have gotten older, I'm struggling more with gifts. I don't want to give all electronics or highly expensive clothes.

      That first quote is something I ponder frequently. It is so hard not to get caught up in the rat race. I've been shocked about how many of my son's friends who are freshmen in high school already have college coaches.

      Delete
  3. Oh yes, we love Kapla. We even had to buy a 2nd box because the kids said they didn't have enough planks!
    Lots of toys have left the house when our youngest was too old to play with them, but I have kept Kapla, Duplo and Lego for our future grand-children.

    ReplyDelete
  4. My boys love Jean Craighead George books. There are a few sequels to that book. We live very close to the Catskills and every time we are in the mountains my kids try to find a place like where that boy made his home. :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you thank you for these posts, well, all your posts. :) It's such a wonderful blessing to be able to read your thoughts and advice on a regular basis. God Bless.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Sarah - I've been reading your blog for years (since Patrick was small!) and have never said 'hi' so thought I'd drop you a note. I admire you so much - you seem to have such a strong sense of self which translates confidence into your posts! I work outside the home and have 2 lovely children but would have liked to work at home and have many more (wasn't in the cards for me mainly due to lack of spousal support... sigh). I probably don't quite fit the average demographic of your readers but I wanted to say: Thank you for sharing your perspective and insight - it has been a blessing to me and I think it has helped deepen my faith, resolve, and well... my own sense of self. All the best to you -

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh my goodness... is My SIde of the Mountain about a boy that runs away from his family in New York (or another big city perhaps?) and lives in the mountains in a hollowed out tree. I think he befriends a Librarian at some point? I read it as a child and have never forgotten it. Emma

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh thank you! I am going to order a copy for my boys for Christmas.

      Delete
  8. There is a book called "too Many pumpkins" I love that story and so do my kids. We usually read it around Halloween but it would be great at thanksgiving time too I think.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Me again... The author of "Too Many Pumpkins" is Laura White. Beautiful illustrations and a story about kindness.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Jill! I ordered it from the library!

      Delete
  10. For your readers...that kidkraft kitchen is realy an excellent classic toy, and it's sale price on Amazon is $112.12 down from $229.99! It's also eligible for free shipping with Prime membership. Great buy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Margie! It is less than what I paid for it on Black Friday when I bought it!

      Delete
  11. What age would you recommend my side of the mountain for? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Patrick loves it and he's seven (but I am reading it TO him.) I'd say it's about a 5th/6th grade book if they are reading it themselves?

      Delete
  12. Hi Sarah, I just wanted to say thank you for the recommendation of Miss Suzy! I bought it used before Christmas, but just pulled it out a couple days ago and both my 4yr old daughter and I love it! She asks for Miss Suzy quite often and I love reading it to her. I too enjoy the vintage books much more than most of the current offerings available for this age group. Again, just wanted to say thank you! God Bless!

    ReplyDelete