Sunday, November 25, 2012

Another cozy, red Christmas in our house! (Scandinavian inspired Christmas decor)

 It's that time of year again! And I LOVE it!

There's nothing quite like the cozy feeling of Christmas decorations for  me :) 

I kept it simple this year, and didn't buy anything new (ok...ok....just one little cushion and a red reindeer)....does that even count?

I'm hooked on red. It's just so festive, and warm, and inviting!

Our mantel is very similar to how it was last year, but I added a new "Tis the Season" sign that I painted last night :) I kind of like the fun, "not-too-serious" vibe it gives off!

Our little haphazard Christmas village....mostly from the thrift shop.....which the boys LOVE. They play with it non-stop, and I don't have to worry about the odd breakage because the whole bag of little figurines cost about $2! :) 

Anyone else getting ready for Christmas already? We've got carols playing and the fire lit....and it really is "beginning to look at lot like Christmas"! ;)


GIft Guide for little BOYS ages 3-5 (toys that actually get played with!)

After a lot of time spent scouring the internet for Christmas present ideas (for the boys), I was wishing I could just stumble upon a "shortlist" of toys that boys (age 3-5) would actually play with!!

It's completely overwhelming....the amount of selection available online. I had a hard time knowing where to start. I read a lot of reviews on all sorts of different toys, and found that many of the reviews seemed to be written immediately after receiving the toy (sometimes before the child had even received it!), and focused mostly on the quality/shipping/customer service/missing pieces and not necessarily on how much the toys got played with! 

So.....without further adieu.....this is a list of toys that we actually that GET PLAYED WITH over and over again. You know...the ones that the boys go back to, and actually sit down and play with ON THEIR OWN! :) Of course they always prefer it when either Mama or Dada plays with them, and there have been countless hours of playing rockets and knights, but it's somewhat difficult (at least with our boys) to find a toy that they will actually spend some time playing with on their own.

Invaluable (for this pregnant mama who has a hard time sitting on a hardwood floor these days!)

My boys are 3 and 5, and there are several toys that they both play with, as well as some that are more popular with one or the other. 

We gave this to Finn for his 3rd birthday (October) and it has been played with every single day since. He sits down on his own and actually plays with the little green alien and spacemen, riding them up and down in the elevator and flying them off to "Venus" and "Saturn" in the removable space shuttle on the top. 

This rocket was a gift from "baby Finn" to Toby 2 years ago at Christmas time, and is still a huge favourite in our house (mostly with Finny now). It is most ideal for 2-4 year olds, but Toby still flies it around on space missions, and he's 5 :) Again, the space men and alien get a lot of play, as does the little space dog (he's a favourite!). It counts down to blast off, and makes rocket sounds when you press the button.

"Santa" brought this for Toby last year at Christmas, and it is still an ultimate favourite "very special toy" that sometimes has to get put away before friends come over (even after a whole year!). It shoots missiles and talks (phrases like "They're Escaping!" and "FIRE!" in Finn McMissile's british accent). Perfect toy for the 3-6 age group.

This castle was a gift for Toby's 4th birthday, and although it doesn't get played with every day, it is still a favourite in our playroom. I find that the boys go through "spurts" with it...playing with it every day for a week, and then taking a break for a month or so. Right now, they're back at it, playing with it every day. They love to play "Knights and Dragons"....rescuing princesses...that sort of thing. It doesn't come with any figurines, but it's a great castle at a great price for the size!

Or this one...  Colorful Wooden Medieval Castle Playset - Slot Construction - Kidkraft (comes with 8 knights/2 horses/king/queen/swords, etc)
We don't actually own this castle, but I thought I'd include it because I KNOW it would be a hit with our boys! And it's a great price since it also includes so many figurines!

We have several Schleich (and other brand) dragons, and they all get a lot of play. I didn't bother including them all here, but this one is always a hit. 

Toby "earned" this armour set for reaching a goal on his "good behaviour point chart" and it's had a lot of use by both him and Finn. I can't say that the sword hasn't been confiscated to the top of our dining hutch more than once, but it's mostly because there is only one of them in the house and both boys love it so much that it causes trouble!

Toby gave this to Finn for his 3rd birthday, and it has had a lot of play time already. He loves making up custom pizzas for everyone in the family, and especially enjoys sneaking mushrooms onto Dada's slice ("Dada" doesn't like mushrooms!). :)

We have had this cookie set since Toby turned 2, and it's clocked a lot of play hours in its lifetime. Definitely a hit. And definitely not "just for girls" ;)

Finny received this for his 3rd birthday and has played with it pretty much every day since. He loves filling it up with not just play food, but all sorts of toys/trucks. It does double-duty as a great "clean-up wagon" and he enjoys going around the house picking up stray toys and delivering them back to the playroom :). Score!

Finn received this as a gift for his 3rd birthday as well! He LOVES it! He organizes all his pizza sets, cookie sets, food, etc. and loves getting it all set up. He hangs his little dish brushes on the hooks underneath, and is actually quite cautious when he turns the burner "on" :) I love how it's pretty compact, simple and easy on the eyes!

Finn received this for his 2nd birthday, and he can literally sit for a whole hour setting it all up and playing with the little pieces/people. The best part is that it can all be packed away so easily inside the house! Again, NOT JUST FOR GIRLS!:) We added a little Playmobil Santa and Snowman, and he loves putting the Santa down the chimney, along with his sack of toys:) This is always a hit with friends who come to play as well. Perfect for the 2-4 age group. (Keep in mind there are some very small pieces, so if you have a 2 year old who like to put things in their mouth, it's a good idea to wait until they're older)

These little die-cast cars get played with almost every day. Our are mixed in with all sorts of Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars as well, and the whole bunch are a source of many hours of imaginative play.

This double decker bus was a gift my mom brought back from the UK for Finny when he was 2, and he still plays with it all the time. It has little "parking spots" for the die-cast cars to "sit" in and get driven around in the bus. It's also a great storage spot for the cars.

Toby received this last year for Christmas, and although it's a pretty cheaply built plastic toy (what can you expect for the price of $15+/-), it's still one of his favourites. It comes with a whole bunch of airplanes/helicopters, and packs away quite compactly.

Although both of our boys also enjoy playing with regular sized (small) Lego, I find that they spend a lot more time building with the DUPLO blocks! I think they enjoy the fact that they can build real, high towers (even taller than them!) and big "castles" and "ferry boats".....the list in endless. The DUPLO blocks, in my opinion, are a step above their MegaBlock competition. They stay together a lot better than the MegaBlocks do (we've tried them all), which is very important for small boys who tend to get frustrated when their creations break apart too easily!

This is a great set to add to the plain old building blocks. Our boys both enjoy making different types of cars/houses using the car bases and windows, etc.

A necessity when playing with DUPLO blocks, in my opinion. They love building big castles and forts on these plates.

We bought a Strider bike for Toby when he turned 3, and my parents bought one for Finn when he was 2. They have both used their bikes non-stop from ages 2-5. Not only that, when Toby received his for his 3rd birthday in April, by June (2 months later) he was able to hop on a pedal bike without any training wheels, and RIDE! It really is amazing how these bikes teach them to balance, and in turn, pretty  much eliminate the need for training wheels.  They are so light and easy to ride, and the seat is adjustable enough that Toby can still have fun on his at age 5 and a half! (even though he's gone through three pedal bikes since then). We've tried several other brands of balance bikes, but these ones have proven to be the easiest to ride.

This puzzle has probably been taken apart and put back together at least 50 times since we got it a few months ago. They boys will actually sit down on their own and do it together!

Awesome game! It *says* it's for ages 7 and up, but Finny (3) is AMAZING at it, and enjoys playing it with everyone else. Toby can beat me, hands down, and he's only 5. It's a great little game to stick in your bag for playing at a restaurant or on an airplane. My sister in law Miranda was the one who introduced it to us, after my nephew (Dax, who was 4 at the time) played it non-stop on a 5 hour flight!

Another hit. This game has been played countless times in our house, and always  results in giggles and giddiness when the "skunks" are used to "skunk" Mama ;) Finn is just starting to get the hang of it now, at age 3, but Toby is a pro at age 5, and would play it over, and over, and over again.
One more favourite game in our house. Toby received this as a gift for his 4th birthday, and it's been a source of many fun times every since. I love how, now that he's in French Immersion at school, we can play using the french side :)

So....there you have it. I know I've forgotten a lot of favourite toys, but these ones are GOLD! They have been a great source of fun for our boys, and continue to be played with all the time. 

Hope this helps! :)


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