Friday, August 26, 2011

Ty Turns Two! Toy Reviews and a Trip to the Petting Zoo.

As you may know from my last post, Tyler celebrated his second birthday last week! I knew that I was going to want to go a bit overboard on presents, so I had a garage sale to sell his old stuff and took what didn't sell to consignment. I then used the money without guilt to buy him what I thought he could use to challenge him and keep him from being bored, as he continues to master and be done with things quickly. I have to admit that new toys, works and materials also keep me from being bored as well; it's a feeling that is truly uncomfortable for me. Plus, I'm a kid at heart and love to play too!

The following are the items that I purchased for Tyler from I often buy (or don't buy) based on ratings, and also enjoy sharing great products that others may not be aware of (and items that I often wasn't hip to either until I spent way too many hours browsing the site). I am not asked or paid to talk about any of these.

I think it's safe to say that Tyler's absolute favorite gift from us were his  Fisher Price Grow-with-Me Roller Skates. He literally spent the first two days in them except for when we headed out for a doctor's check-up and when he slept! They have three different settings that help children learn to skate gradually. Right now he is in the walking phase, but we plan to try him with the second stage, which allows the skates to roll forwards but not backwards, very soon. My parents also bought him a NHL hockey goal, stick and ball set to go with this, and my ex-hockey player husband is in heaven!

Tyler's second favorite has been his Plan Toys Assorted Fruits and Vegetables. There are so many cutting fruit toys out there and I really wanted one that incorporated fruits and vegetables in the same set, as well as included a banana, apple and carrot (Ty's favorite produce). I also preferred something that was wooden. This set fit those requirements perfectly and he just adores it. The only issue we've encountered is that that neither the mushroom or banana cut, they are whole. This frustrates him at times, so I may cut and velcro them together myself.

I was really exited when I discovered this Melissa and Doug Farm Maze Wooden Puzzle. In one of my old Sesame Street Treasury books (which he loves!), there's a maze that I help him trace his finger through which he thinks is quite neat. It also seems like such a great toy for working small motor and wrist turning skills. He likes this, but I may put it away and take it out when he's a bit older. There are almost too many animals that get in the way of each other and he has a little trouble maneuvering them around the circle right now.

Another big hit has been Beach Stickers for the Tub. These are colorful, stick to the tub and tub wall easily and float so you can even stack them. The mesh bag with suction cups that they come in is really helpful. There are several different themed sets of these as well, one being farm animals.

Tyler often wants us to make his stuffed animals "talk" and sing, so buying him a puppet was an easy choice. This Lion Puppet from The World of Eric Carle is lovely and well-made. There's nothing "cheap" about it though it was quite inexpensive I thought. We're using this puppet as a fun way to teach social skills as well as to do the singing he loves. He thinks the whole idea is quite funny!

"Happy Halloween, Mittens" is a book in a easy reader series by Lola Schaefer that we found he really likes after borrowing one of the books from the library. My mother also got him a book in the series called "What's That, Mittens?" They are simple stories about a cute little kitten that he just adores, likely due to his huge love for felines!
"Llama Llama Misses Mama" is another series book by Anna Dewdney. We first discovered these adorable llama when borrowing "LLama, Llama Red Pajama" from the library (which we also bought him as it became a bed time favorite). We all love the fun rhymes, teaching moments and illustrations of these books. "Llama Llama Misses Mama" in particular is about llama's first day of  preschool. At first he is terribly sad, confused and feeling alone, but by the end he is happily playing. When his Mama arrives he discovers that he loves Mama AND school too. I can't read it without getting tears in my eyes. I'm getting teary-eyed just writing this in fact. Moving on...

Of all of the books Tyler received for his birthday, The Goodnight Train by June Sobel seems to be his favorite. The rhymes are cute, the illustrations lovely and full of hidden jokes if you look closely, and Tyler enjoys trains so it's been a great fit. The story consists of a few children who bathe, play and eventually fall sleep in their little train car beds as it rolls through interesting scenery. It instantly become Tyler's new bed time favorite.

As Tyler likes to nest objects and occasionally still likes to stack, especially if it's something new, I figured the Wedgits Starter Set would be ideal for him. They can be used to build and create in so many different ways and I have to say I really enjoy playing with them too! Tyler liked them immediately, then later got frustrated a couple times because the same color/size squares of course don't stack or nest with each other and it made him mad. Now he doesn't want to play with them at all. Ahhh toddlers! I'm likely putting them away for a while so he can hopefully forget about his grudge and have fun with them again as he did initially.

Tyler is really over the whole drawing with crayons thing, or colored pencils for the matter. All he wants to use are markers, which is fine, but I thought mixing it up with some Finger Crayons may be fun for him. They are also fun because they stack! He isn't too into them other than using them for stacking. Fun, new version of the crayon not, he just wants his markers at the moment. I really love them because they seem quite indestructible. I don't think I could break them if I tried which is great as I have a whole pencil bag full of broken crayons right now!

Gifts that I don't have links for but have really been enjoyed are:

This Huffy tricycle that I spotted at a consignment store. Though he is over the 90th percentile for height, he needs to be a couple inches taller to use the pedals comfortably. Though he slouches low and gets it at times, he mostly likes to let me help him pedal and enjoys walking it around the driveway.

One of the many things my parents purchased for him was a triangle from First Note. It makes a tone like nothing else in his instrument collection and we all enjoy it!

His Uncle and Aunt sent him various instruments and books from Kindermusik (which can be purchased in their online store), including a finger drum and rhythm sticks. He just adores these and plays them several times a day. Yay for a growing music center!

The classic Memory game was also gifted to Tyler. We haven't used in the usual way just yet due to a lack of time, but it is giving me lots of other activity ideas as well.

A Golden Book called "Big Fred's Fire Truck", which goes through a day of a firefighter, is a favorite of Ty's right now as well.

A "Dino Adventure Rig" by Sprig was given to Tyler from our fabulous neighbors. I love that it's safe and eco-friendly and Ty especially adores the dinos and human figure it came with.

A gift certificate to Hobby Lobby was given by a friend. This is really a gift for both of us! I can't wait to choose some fun things for him next week! I'll likely roam the store for a good hour before I can even decide!

It seems a bit awkward to move on to the little trip we took him on for his birthday now, but I just had to share the rest of his birthday events with a few cute photos! Tyler enjoyed feeding, and occasionally touching, the animals at a nearby petting zoo. Though there were animals like zebras, camels and reindeer on our trip last year, this part of the zoo was closed off, likely because it was getting near the end of their day when we finally made it there.

This last photo is a favorite. Tyler thinks biting into this carrot is gross, but the cute little llama sneaking up from behind seems to think differently!


  1. Very helpful toy reviews. Wheels also loves the llama books, and we also own the fire truck book.

  2. Happy Birthday to your little man! Don't they just grow up too fast?!?

    By the way, I've given you an award on my blog. I'm always inspired and motivated when I visit here. :)