Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Gift Ideas!

Okay. I've been "given" a moderate amount of money by my lovely husband to spend on whatever I want (we are not financially great which is why this is a rare thing). Being who I am, I'll probably spend 95% of it on my kids. Here's where the needing of help comes in. We're fairly new to the natural/Waldorf way of *living* - we've always been of the mindset but the implementation is recent. So there is an excess of junk in our house. I've been slowly doing away with the junk and trying to encourage the kids to play with more natural things.

A lot of what I've read in Waldorf forums is that you should just have baskets of rocks, shells, blocks, etc. That's great in theory. But my youngest two are too young for that. And we have cats. Oh my, do we have cats. So wool being left out and nature tables aren't realistic for us.

Here's what we do have: play silks that I dyed. Blocks (regular mass-made unit blocks). Plastic dinosaurs (they're too well loved for me to get rid of). Balls of all sizes. The rest is junk, in my opinion (or slipping my mind). And now, here are extremely brief overviews of the kids:

The Elf: Will by eight in August. He has a very addictive/obsessive personality. We "screwed up" with him early on and he's more quantity oriented rather than quality. For his birthday I've bought him an Earth stacker and some figures - they will all go with a felted play mat I'm going to make for him. His current obsessions are Spore (a computer game) and Toy Story 3 (ugh). I want to get him a Waldorf doll (he babies lego creations and plastic toys) but I'm not sure where to start.

The Imp: Will be two in September. He doesn't talk a great deal yet. He's recently discovered that blocks are stackable, loves to paint with (those crappy dry) watercolors, loves spoons and balls. Six months ago he accidentally swallowed a marble so we're leery about small toys now. Mostly, he seems to throw things and dump things out. I'm afraid that he's not playing "right" because he's learning from the Elf.

The Beast: He's almost three months old. He loves to watch the mobile I made for him and a knitted bird we hang in his car seat. We have a wooden teether that we'd gotten for the Imp when he was wee (a rattle, too, but I've no idea where it is).

I'm considering dolls for the older two. Is two too young for a dressable doll? They're so expensive. I can't see being able to afford the different stages that seem to be encouraged. I've thought about making them, but really, I don't have the time. Also, I'd like to actually see and touch one in person before embarking on that particular adventure. So. Any suggestions on where to have one made? Do your kids have dolls? Do they actually play with them regularly? I didn't have dolls growing up - I had stuffed animals. And well, I was never a little boy. So I'm at a loss.

I want to learn to knit, but I need someone to show me. Books and videos are not helping. So simple knitted things, I'd have to buy. Things I've thought of: knitted and felted rings and knitted/felted nesting bowls.

I'd also love to get them some wooden figures - animals and people. But my goodness, they're expensive! I'm not sure what would be best or what would be played with most. There are too many decisions!

So I need help. What toys did you love growing up? What do your children love? What have you seen that my children might love? Do you make something I should consider? Do you want to do a swap? I've birthdays and the Winter Solstice to shop for and limited funds. Help!


  1. When Ellie was almost 2, we gave her a doll house for Christmas. Best thing I have done for her to date. It is one of the discontinued Melissa and Doug Fold and Go houses, but I replaced the dolls with a Peg Family Portrait (including all six cats). She is almost 2.5 and we play a lot a LOT of Meow Home. She re-enacts things that have happened to us and invents new scenes based on events (thunderstorms) or things we have read about in books. I've given her Peggy "expansion packs" (three bears, three pigs etc), but so far they just visit the cats.

    She has one doll that she is only moderately interested in (a simple plush baby doll from Pottery Barn by North American Bear) but she can't dress it herself (undressing is easy), nine billion stuffed animals (since I make them) that she likes much more than dolls (I am raising a zookeeper), plastic dinosaurs in the sandbox and a mess of art supplies. We are not particularly "Waldorf" in philosophy, but I believe that Ellie's imagination is her greatest asset right now and open ended toys are a great to develop it. She doesn't really need the dollhouse, I saw two magic markers have a conversation the other day and take a walk on a pier. The markers did invite each other to play Meow Home after they finished swimming.

    All that to say: you might consider getting Imp and Beast dolls at the same time (in a year or so) so that they can interact with each other. Elf might prefer some sort of farm set or doll house so that he can work out more complex scenarios.

    Whew. That's a lot for a first comment. :D

  2. Yarn Miracle: Wow! Thanks so much! I'm going to digest this comment for a while - partially because having gone out to eat with three monsters has liquified my brain.

    Are the peg people the kind that so many people make little gnomes out of? I'd been pondering making some.. and a dollhouse might be just the thing.

    I'd considered a farm set for the Elf's birthday. My husband thinks he wouldn't play with it, though. He (the Elf) is a very Star Wars/action figure/fighting kind of guy. I'll put some more thought into it.

  3. I am happy to swap anything in my Etsy shop, love and light Marie

  4. What about getting your 8 yo to make dolls/figures himself. If he has ownership he may play with it spoon puppets, sock puppets, wooden figures, etc?
    The felted playmats are great. What I found from experience is if the play is getting tired chuck in something glassbeads from dollar store in with the dinosaurs etc

  5. I've got nothin' for this one.
    We're too wild and free around here to be locked into one kind of toy. :D

  6. Twolittleseeds: We just bought a jigsaw today. So there will be woodworking in our future. The Elf is excited about making branch blocks for the Imp's birthday. (: Thanks for the ideas!