Archive for the 'Toys' Category

The Tails of Abbygail, Episode 1: Dreams Come True

amoc1hcc8o3ijyamcbf3What little kids don’t daydream their favorite toys will come to life? Movies have been built around  such youthful fantasies (“Toy Story,” anyone?). Abbygail, a spunky little Jack Russell terrier, is no exception.

In the newly released live-action DVD, “Tails of Abbygail: Dreams Come True,”  the protagonist pup Abbygail watches her ultimate dream come true as her toy dogs and horses – including a cotton candy pink poodle, two giant draft horses and a Bernese mountain dog adorably named “Girlfriend” – magically come to life and embark upon an exciting journey with her. Along they way, they meet new furry faces and learn important, relevant lessons relatable to children ages 2-10.

My four-and-a-half year old son went on this 34-minute adventure with Abbygail and her canine and equine companions, completely enchanted with the storyline. When asked who his favorite character is, he naturally said “Abbygail,” and that his favorite parts were when the gang found treasure and threw a party.

The fun continues with four more episodes from the award-winning “Tails of Abbygail” series. For more, visit weloveabby.com and be sure to like facebook.com/thetailsofabbygail on Facebook!

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On Gender-y Stuff

I love this 1981 LEGO ad. To me, this is the quintessential happy kid.

There are some things as a parent I’ve vowed not to obsess over. Because they’re a waste of time and energy and don’t matter when it’s all said and done. If they ever matter to my child, it won’t be because I made them seem important when he was growing up.

Gender-y stuff is a big one. I don’t get all bent when my son points out the princess castle EVERY DAY at preschool (instead of say, the firetruck). Or flip a lid when he wants to hold his male friend’s hand. Or is curious about my makeup and fake applies blush to his face.

Because, guess what? KIDS ARE KIDS.

They like all of the toys (and the boxes the toys come in – *especially* the boxes the toys come in) and rocks and water and bugs and things you and I don’t even see anymore. They like being with their friends. They like showing friends affection and enthusiasm with hugs and hand-holding. Kisses, even. This is an innocent time. I fully intend to let my son enjoy this time without any adult’s ideas of what a boy or girl should be.

Children care about having fun and exploring the world – they do not differentiate between blue and pink, gay and straight, feminine and masculine. No, it’s the adults who do that.

I know I’m not being very scientific here (if my use of “gender-y stuff” is any indication). There are entire fields of study built around this topic. I know it’s more complicated than a blog post. I’m not naive.

But I know shaming a child for going outside of his or her gender stereotypes does not help in raising a confident, empathetic person (given that’s what we aim for). Limiting a child to a certain color or toy or area of interest does nothing to encourage independent thinking or discovery. Yanking a doll from a little boy’s hand because it’s “for girls,” for example, is basically telling him girl-things are wrong. That and the fact that there are things, as a boy, you can’t and should not enjoy or want. Talk about totally cutting your child off from a major part of the human experience.

Me? I’d like to keep my son’s innocent years free from the confines of the sort of bizarre creature that is gender role stereotypes. Having a happy child is more important to me than pretty much anything else in this world.

Pirate PARRRty For My Little Matey!

It’s a pirate theme for Ollie’s 3rd birthday! Once again, Auntie Coco will be baking the custom cake – can’t wait! Here are a few things we’ve stocked up on …

Top row: Pirate garland/flags, booty chest goodie box and action figures (temp tattoos, eye patches, etc.) for goodie box.

Second row: Buried treasure cake with lots of booty, pirate hats (and accessories) and foam swords.

Third row: Pop-Up Pirate game (by Tomy); skull sweater from Target and lots of doubloons!

Playing Catch Up

Hi! Remember moi? I’ve been pretty busy over here with the dayjob, but rest assured, I have lots of blog ideas for February. Before I can move on, I have to catch you up on what’s been going on in Ollieland. So here’s a pictorial review:

First Show – We went to see The Boogers (“Ramones meets Mother Goose”) at Schubas in January. I wish I could say we stayed for the entire set, but Ollie was a little sensitive to the noise (he wasn’t the only one). But we had a great time anyway, scored a t-shirt and had all the tater tots we could snarf next door at Harmony Grill. I highly recommend checking out The Boogers, especially if you’re a punk rock parent like me. After the show, we headed across the street to Uncle Fun, one of my favorite shops in Chicago – full of curios, tchotchkes, pranks, toys and books. Our haul included a Homies lunchbox (for Kate), a pooping pig (Ollie is quite smitten with this), wind-up chattering teeth and two plastic double-finger rings for me.

Terrific Twos – The rock star 2nd birthday party was a blast. Auntie Coco knocked the record cake out of the park as predicted. Great pizzas from Nick’s.

 

 

 

Baby’s First Blizzard – We had two super snow days after Mother Nature dumped almost two feet of snow on the Chicago area. Ollie could not get enough of snowball throwing and climbing the drifts.  We couldn’t get enough of him being naturally cute with his rosy cheeks and nose. Another item of note, we were all thankfully shoveled out in time for a weekend playdate with Judys – Ollz made a great new friend, Mylo.

 

 

 

Going for a Spin – Ollie’s vintage Fisher-Price record player finally came. It’s pretty fantastic. He’s a bit small to play it himself, but we enjoyed “The Fox and the Hound” on vinyl – and I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been getting a lot of mileage out of it – old 45s sound wonderfully tinny and crackly. Also for his b-day Auntie Coco got him the retro record player toy that he has manhandled to the point that it half works. We have fun singing oldies like “Camptown Races” and “Hickory Dickory Dock.” How bad is it that the Andrew Dice Clay versions of some of these nursery rhymes are the ones I remember best?

 

Famous Babe – Ollie’s mug was featured on the homepage of ChicagoParent.com to promote local snowbaby pics in the site’s photo gallery. After the blizzard, they used it again to encourage parents to send blizzard baby pics. This is validation that we’re not too biased – Ollie is unarguably cute.

Something Borrowed: The Train Has Arrived, Indeed

Yes, another commercial – this time for Amtrak trains – featuring cute kids. Gimme a break. I’ve been busy (not uninspired, just busy). And it’s so infrequent I even WATCH commercials, let alone fall in love with them. Now if an airline would just make a super ad featuring kids being awesome, we’d have the trifecta.

Something Borrowed: How You Like Me Now?

This Kia commercial featuring toys gone rogue (soundtrack by the ever-soulful The Heavy) is my guilty pleasure right now:

Buy Buy Baby! Chicago Jr.

Saying I love Chicago is an understatement – I’ll always be in love with Chicago, and I am really crazy about the cool stuff it offers children. We’re fortunate that it’s only about an hour train ride away from our newish digs.

Below are some goodies for kids by local artists that I highly recommend – and you don’t need to live here to shop here (gotta love the Interwebs!):

Clockwise from the top: Flag onesie by music editor Anne Holub; Poster art by Dan Grzeca c/o Web zine Gapers Block; “All Dogs Go to Heaven” by crafter Steff Bomb; “Made in Chicago” onesie by designer Vic Sanchez; Skyline two-piece by So Silly Stuff (30 percent of sales goes to American Red Cross!); “Buy it, Burn it, Trash it” onesie from rock radio show Sound Opinions; and logo shirt from Windy City Rollers roller derby.


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