Monday, January 04, 2010

Smiley's Top 10 Toys of 2009

For 2008 I blogged about Smiley's ten favorite toys.

For 2009 I've done two lists. I just blogged about his ten favorite books this past year. Now it's time for the top ten toys.

In retrospect it's odd how I don't have Picasa photos for many of these. (The missing ones, except for his most recently acquired toy phone, are in the Flip videos.)

1. Bunny and Baby Doll

"Bunny" is a Peter Rabbit stuffed animal that he received as a new baby gift. It quickly became Smiley's favorite stuffed animal. He normally sleeps curled over it, with his knees tucked in.

It came in a set with a book. We looked for a duplicate that could be available when the first was in the washing machine, but the only ones we could find by that manufacturer were noticeably different. Fortunately, our washing machine is a front loader with a clear door and Smiley is not too traumatized when Bunny needs to take a bath. ("Bubbles!")

"Baby Doll" is a cabbage patch doll that my mother gave me when I taught Head Start in Rochester, NY. Since it was a classroom doll and only has a tuft of hair, it never received a name or gender. My wife and I enjoy the challenge of keeping Baby Doll nameless and genderless until Smiley picks what he wants.

2. Trains and Trucks of All Sorts

Train cars he can hook together are the best. But any truck with turning wheels that he can push is a great toy.

3. His Scooter

Sadly, it does not grow larger with him. I've blogged about it often.

4. A Piece of Broom Handle

I cut for him a piece of broom handle to use as a walking stick. He plays with it almost every time he is outside. He also wants it when he starts on a walk, although I often wind up carrying it for him after a few minutes.

Besides being a walking stick, it also serves as a hanging bar: he hangs and I do curls. I also cut a second piece of broom handle and hung it on both ends from the big oak tree in the back yard: a trapeze is better than a swing because he needs no help to start and stop using it.

5. His Wire

My wife and I have laptops in the sitting room, with power cords that Smiley is not supposed to touch. To be fair, I gave him a wire that connects a computer to a pair of computer speakers (male microphone-size jacks on both ends). That is "his wire" so he has his own and does not need to touch our wires.

Surprisingly, he loves that wire. He tries to plug it in to all sorts of small holes. Many of his toys have indented screw-holes on their underside into which it fits. The best fit is with his Duplo train cars, which have a hollow vertical peg as the male side of the train connector: turn the train car over and it's a perfect match for his wire.

6. MegaBlock Wagon

Anything to push or pull is great. We did not get him a doll stroller until December, or it would be on this list. He has two plastic wagons; this one is his favorite.

The MegaBlock wagon is large enough to comfortably push or pull. It holds lots of sticks, rocks, leaves, or pine cones for back yard collecting. When the dump-back is opened, he can sit straddling the wagon's bottom like riding a toy car. (He never used it with the blocks as the manufacturer intended after the first day.)

When we returned home from spending half of December with family in California, this wagon was the first toy he went to play with.

7. His Dice

I have briefly mentioned his dice. He has a bunch of eight-sided dice in different colors. They were a new toy when he outgrew putting things in his mouth, and needed something to go inside containers or be cargo for his trucks.

He loves them. I have no idea why. When someone new visits our house, he often goes to his dice and shares them as his first attempt to make friends.

8. Various Phones

My grandmother wants Smiley to talk to her on the phone. So she has sent him a few toy phones with which to practice.

His first phone was a rattle that he never used as an infant, which spent most of 2009 in the car as a mostly unpopular car seat toy. I already mentioned his second toy phone, which he plays with much more, and for which the pull-string doubles in his mind as a ear piece wire. His newest phone makes the best noises and is clearly his favorite phone.

Much to my grandmother's frustration, Smiley loves holding the phones to his ear and pretending to listen to them, but both in play and reality says very little.

9. Bubbles and Bath Crayons

Baths are always fun, and the only sure way to calm Smiley on those nights when he was sick or teething and woke up after throwing up.

Bath crayons and bubble bath make baths even more fun.

10. His Big Paper

I've blogged about Smiley's Wee Ride LTD bicycle seat. But I have not yet blogged about its packaging...

The box was a great size for sitting in: just tall enough to be challenging to climb in and out. Even better was the single, long piece of tough brown paper that was used as package padding.

We have quite a few Flip videos of him playing with it. But they do not do justice to the fun he had and physical development he displayed learning to put it into and out of the box, using it as a blanket for hiding, and eventually using it as a blanket for pretending that he or his stuffed animals or Baby Doll were sleepy.

Honorable Mentions

In December, at a used bookstore, he became really fond of a doll stroller. So I told him that that one had to stay in the bookstore, but we could look for another one at the toy store. One was surprisingly inexpensive: $6.99 at Toys 'R Us. He loves it, both because he can push his stuffed animals and Baby Doll in it and because inside the house it is more maneuverable than his wagons.

He enjoys containers and stacking cups, but without his dice as his favorite "filling" they only receive an honorable mention.

We limit his computer use, but he would spend more time staring at a glowing rectangle if we allowed it. He watches Flip videos of himself, he dances to a recording of his cousin singing the alphabet song, he directs me as I play the Linux game Potato Guy, and he "plays" a course of Extreme Tux Racer named "Who Says Penguins Can't Fly?" that is a very steep downhill toboggan run that works well enough no matter what keys he presses or does not press.

As with last year, I am not counting "places" as toys. His Ergo, jogging stroller, sandbox, inflatable pool, skateboard, and of course the playgrounds near our home and the local library have all been used more hours than some items on this list.

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