Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Rabbit & Duck

Rabbit & Duck has 25% off storewide - including Haba and Selecta. a lot of things are sold out, but there are still great deals. I'm about to buy a replacement push toy for Linnea.

Hearthsong and Moolka also have a large sale selection right now. I'm not looking.

2008 Haba

Both Maukilo and Oompa announced today that they have new 2008 Haba in stock. I'm especially loving the Biofino petit fours ($13.99)

and the Black Forest Cake ($13.99).
These look so yummy. I think we need them for tea parties in our play kitchen.
I also like the magnetic puzzles ($11.99) in fun themes like flower fairies and pirates.

These have only nine pieces, so they are perfect for pre-schoolers who are still figuring out how puzzle pieces fit together.
The Sakadra blocks ($23.99) are very pretty and I'm very curious about what other blocks will be coming out. I like the unusual shapes and they would be a nice complement to our existing collection. They have some nice new shapes in natural-colored blocks as well.

If you sign up for Maukilo's email list, they will send a coupon code for 15% off.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Linnea's current favorite toy: 14-15 months

Linnea's current absolute favorite toy is the Bajo Toys Stacking Fellow ($14.39). It arrived shortly after Christmas and I left it on the table to show her later. She discovered it on her own and knew exactly what to do. I think Linnea especially likes the bright red nose and the hat. "Hat" is one of her favorite words right now and the toy gives her an opportunity to practice.

What I like is that the center pole is attached. When I was reading reviews, it seemed that many of the wooden stackers had a removable center ring and it seemed to me that that could be a bit tricky for a little one still working on hand-eye coordination, as well as being one more piece to lose. The Bajo stacker has only four removable pieces (including the head), so it is not overwhelming.

Another favorite is the Vilac Baby Telephone ($9.99). Linnea loves my cell phone and I was worried that this would be too simple for her, but she's happy with the jingly bell and the bright ball on the antennae. She holds it to her ear and says "Hi, Dad!"

Arielle is modeling the phone. I bought two so they could call each other. Arielle is a little less impressed, but she enjoys carrying it in her purse when she pretends to be Mommy.

Linnea is also very much enjoying dolls (which she will feed with a toy bottle), stacking cups (reviewed in bath toys), pots, pans, bowls and spoons from both my kitchen and the play kitchen, and blocks.

She is particularly playing with the little dwarf and the car from the First Blocks set from Haba ($23.99).

I've recently caught her putting the little dwarf in the car and pushing it around while saying "brmmm... brmmm..."

I love that at this age she's so curious, and so busy, and trying so hard to be like the big people in her life.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Toy Review: Hess Push Toys

Push Toy Vogel Lilly by Hess ($28.49)

Unfortunately, this is going to be my first negative review. Linnea received Lilly from her Granny Bird for Christmas. Yes, this is a very cute toy, but to our disappointment, Lilly was very hard for a one-year old to handle. The toy did not roll smoothly and the bird flipped around making it difficult to push. The final straw was when Lilly's head popped off. I called Moolka and arranged a return. I think we are going to try a Selecta push toy instead. If anyone has afavorite, please comment on it.

Plastic Bath Toys - no more toxic rubber duckies

Happy New Year! Linnea has decided that the computer is a wonderful thing and this makes it very hard to get any writing done, so posts may be slow for a while. She wants to help. Uggh!

While I love this busy stage, I'm hoping she'll move onto something else soon. So stay with me because I have tons of ideas and loads of Christmas toys to review.

I've been meaning to write about bath toys for a while. When Arielle was younger she played with a huge collection of rubber duckies until her mommy read about phthalates and PVC's and then all the rubber duckies swam away. As did the plastic stacking cups and foam bath books.

Unfortunately, plastic is the best material for bath toys. It is waterproof, easy to clean and resists molding. Two companies that make great PVC-free, phthalate-free bath toys (and sand toys) are Spielstabil and Gowi (both made in Europe).

The best selection of Spielstabil is at Maukilo.

A great place to start is the Spielstabil Bath Set ($14.75). The set includes a rubber duckie, a small cup with a water wheel, a larger cup with holes in the bottom, a boat and a water scoop. Last night, I was filling the cup with holes and letting it drip like a shower on Linnea's tummy and she was giggling and giggling. We may need another set because I have not been able to find another PVC-free duckie, and the duckie is quite the coveted item.

I've reviewed the Baby Bucket ($5.95) before. This bucket is great for a toddler to take outdoors and it is great for the bathtub. My children like to pretend to cook with bath water.

Another multi-use toy is the set of five nesting cups ($8.95). Lucky Linnea has two sets - one for stacking and one for the bath. Some of the cups have holes and others don't, so they are fun for playing with and useful for rinsing soapy baby hair. The largest cup has a handle, so it can double as a bucket.

Older children will enjoy filling the bucket with water using the Spielstabil water pump ($10.75). This really works and Arielle really enjoys getting water for the rubber duck.

Gowi toys are made in Poland and Austria. They are bright and colorful safe plastic and pretty hard to find in the U.S., but last year I bought great sand toys at Mastermind toys. We brought the sand toys in for the winter and sometimes use them in the bath. The watering cans are great for rinsing shampoo off "pretty flowers".

Unfortunately, these Gowi bath buckets are out of stock, but I'll update when I can find them again.

Finally, these are probably Made in China, but my daughters love the Alex Tub Tunes water flutes ($9.56). In this case, I may be compromising safety for a learning experience.

I did throw out the soft smelly-plastic connector, so they use these individually. Linnea is so proud that she can make noise and Arielle experiments with changing the volume of water. No symphonies yet, just a lot of fun.

Kathe Kruse (Germany) makes some lovely vinyl bath babies ($54.95-$94.95). These dolls are meant to be played with in the tub and then dried and dressed in their pretty outfits or jammies - what fun for little mommies. I would love to get one, but it would have to be two..... and that would be pricey.

There are also a few non-plastic (wood and cloth) bath toys floating around. However, they tend to be pricier and require extra care to prevent molding. One exception are bath puppets that can be tossed in the washing machine.

Kathe Kruse squirting fish ($9.99)