Category Archives: Toys

Just Dance 4 Launch


 

Last night was SUCH fun. I was invited to attend the Girl Guides ZA Just Dance 4 launch.

Ok,  I’m  going to speak simply (read: show my ignorance at these things) to explain what this was all about. It’s a “game” that you can play on your Xbox or your Wii and the person in the TV dances and you must copy them. Well basically. And this is the 4th and newest edition. It’s AWESOME! I’m not a gamer, neither is my husband and my kids are too young to even know about such things – I am sure their time will come of course. So I don’t know much about X, Y or Z box. I’ve played Wii before but I’ve never played a game this interactive (I can hear the techies cringing).

Boy, I laughed a lot. Once I got past how unfit  and how uncoordinated I am, I had a great time. I felt like I was auditioning for one of Rihannah’s back up dancers. The food was great, the venue was cool – Slow in the City at the Radissson Blu Gautrain hotel. The company was fun and of course the goody bag was amazing – including Marc Jacobs perfumes, sunnies, Just Dance 4 gear and of course the game! I got to meet a few bloggers I only know in my computer which is always a treat.

Besides being fun, this game has a calorie counter and believe me when I say it’s like a proper workout, my body is aching today! And personally, the only way I am going to consciously lose weight is if it’s under the guise of having fun – like I did last night. I ain’t no gym bunny as you know. I can see my girlfriends and I enjoying an evening with Just Dance 4. The song selection is great and caters for just about every taste, yes even you with your Rick Astley crush, I see you over there.  The moves are hardcore – thank goodness you can choose a difficulty level, I suggest you start at level one and work your way up, ok.

So if you have one of these X,Y,Z Boxes or a Wii or whatever other gismos you can play these “games” on, do yourself a favour and get Just Dance 4. Serve with popcorn, friends and family. Good times!

 

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Toy Story Part II – The Final Frontier


I have blogged about our toy dilemma over here, way back in early 2011. Then earlier this year, I read Sharon ‘s post over here, particularly her point about her toy problem, and made a decision then and there to do something about OUR toy problem. Up until a few weeks ago, our house constantly looked like a nursery school, minus the lurking diseases and gruesome stains on the floor mat (oh wait, we have those too). There were more toys than grass in our yard. I could not escape to any room without finding a toy laying about; Captain America taunting me as he lay upside down under the sink, while I sat on the toilet. To say it was driving me insane is an understatement; every time I stood on a piece of Lego or felt myself grind a leftover piece of play dough into the rug, I wanted to scream at my two mites to put their blinking toys away before I gave them away.

It’s not that they aren’t good at cleaning up after themselves, but the attention span of children under the age of five, is so limited, that after three seconds of playing with one toy, they “need” (Liam’s favourite word) to play with something else. After an hour or so, there’s a massacred trail of toys which they leave in their wake, as they go about their toddler destruction business. Not to mention the fact that we just don’t have the space to store all of these toys, so even when they were “packed” away, it was more an exercise to get them out of my sight to lessen my irritation, than to actually put things away, if you get what I’m saying. But two weeks ago, I decided to take this toy bull by the horns and kick some toy butt. 

It wasn’t a quick fix, it took me days and days to complete this project, and finally on Sunday I was able to say that every single toy, down to the rubbish trinkets you get with a Kiddies Meal had a place of its own. I started by clearing out everything (again) that they had outgrown and I also threw out all the broken toys (three wheeled cars, battery operated toys which had leaked battery fluid through the mechanical device, half eaten toys, 10 piece puzzles with only one piece in sight). Although there are many toys that I have duplicate of because they both love to play with them simultaneously (two prams, two pianos, 59 Barney’s, etc), I gave away a lot of the duplicates that they no longer fight over – all giveaways totalling two black bags full. And then the mother of all exercises, I took every single toy remaining and threw them out onto the lounge floor. I emptied the ball pond of everything that wasn’t a ball (it had become more like a dumping ground than a ball pond) and then emptied the balls and cleaned the pool of all the grit and grime that had collected there. I found about four dummies, six old crusty chicken nuggets, hundreds of Nik Naks, a shoe of Hannah’s we had been searching for for ages and my note book which I had lost back in November last year. I sorted toys according to category and size: animals together, cars together, soft toys together, and so on; toys too big to fit into the fabulous drawers I had purchased, books, buildings blocks and so on. I kept odd pieces from board games and puzzles with bright and distinguishable objects and started a collection of flash cards, clever hey? And then I started to repack. There are nine beautiful drawers – wide and deep, all at a child friendly level, so the kids can help themselves at all times and love that they are able to find exactly what they want, when they want it. They are actually quite pedantic about putting everything back in its place; heaven forbid if someone finds a block in the animal drawer… oh no… I get a full report about how “someone” must have made a mistake and how could that have happened? I’ve kept the hideous-for-toy-storage-but-pretty-to-look-at big bucket type of storage bins and have all the teddies in one and all the bigger toys like pushy, press buttony type of toys in the other. Note to self and any other toystruck parent, don’t use these big storage bins for teeny tiny toys which just get stuck at the bottom, never to return to the land of being played with, because children are generally surface grabbers – well mine are because I have warned advised them of the peril that awaits them if they EVER and I mean EVER upend that blinking box AGAIN. So now that there’s only bigger items in them, I don’t mind them strewing the bin’s contents all over the bedroom floor because it’s easy to pick up and clean up, because it can only hold about 15 big toys at maximum.

I’m glad to announce that the girly toys have finally made their appearance. Hannah’s (and Liam’s) dolly collection has grown considerably, and they too needed their own bin. Tea sets with cups, saucers, sugar bowls and tea pots, princess crowns and beautiful plastic chunky jewellery which they both love to don. A little dresser with a gazillion little pieces of hair accessories, stickers, brushes, combs and mirrors. I’ve waited for the girly toys for a long time, as Hannah preferred Liam’s cars, diggers and balls up until very recently and Liam and I have ourselves a ball with all the pink stuff, making each other fake cups of tea as Hannah moans at us for playing with her things.

Everything has its place and I love that our house looks like a house again, and not like a toy store just vomited in my lounge, as Sharon so eloquently put it! The only visible items are the chalk board, the two bins and the nine drawers. And as for the ball pond, well let’s just say that it hasn’t lost its allure afterall, see for yourself… 🙂

Foul Play


 

Please help me, I seem to have lost two cute little cherubs. They were average in height, chubby around the waist, all smiles, and they did everything together, went everywhere together and kissed and hugged a lot. In their place, I seem to have acquired two outlandish, noisy, gangster babies. They are still kinda cute and cuddly, but their behaviour stinks. They bicker over everything, they try to out-do each other in everything like who can scream the loudest just for fun, who can make the most mess in their rooms, who can unpack the kitchen cupboards the fastest, who can spill the most milk out of their cereal bowls – ITS NOT A COMPETITION DUDES!!! These two are driving me crazy, and it’s just not cute anymore.

Up until recently, Liam enjoyed having a shadow who would mimic everything he did, he loved it when Hannah would gaze at him in admiration when he did something heroically amazing like star jump off the couch, after I had screamed at him to stop it like 10 minutes ago. Hannah, however, has come to realise that she is just as cool as Liam is, that she doesn’t need to be the shadow anymore; she has realised that she can run this show, and why the heck must Liam always be the leader, and she, the follower? I think she believes that she was made to shine, and actually Liam is stealing her limelight. So, what’s ensued is an ongoing battle between the two of them to be the best! I always prayed that my kids would be go-getters, but this was not how I imagined my prayers would be answered.

If Liam has the soccer ball, Hannah will come dashing out of shadows, where she was happily playing with her dolly, to grab the ball away from him. Just because. If Hannah has the alphabet puzzle, Liam will instantly have this burning desire to learn his letters right at that very moment. They will be surrounded by books, and I mean books in every size, font, colour; beautiful books about a variety of different fun topics and lots of exciting activities.. the choice of books would make a librarian drool.. but they have to fight over the exact same book, and it usually turns out to be the most boring book of the lot, but the battle must be won! I thought I’d intervene by buying toys which are similar, yet different so that we can still distinguish which one belongs to who. Boy, did that backfire. I bought two tambourines, exactly alike in everything but colour. I bought a blue one for Liam and a yellow one for Hannah. Please understand that they are IDENTICAL – they make the exact same racket, they are the exact same size, they serve the same function which is to give me a headache, but STILL, they fight over the blue one, or depending on their mood, the yellow one. The other day, there was only one Zoo Animal biscuit left in the pack.. I KNEW I should have just eaten it myself when nobody was looking, that’s what any smart mother would have done, but I went for the chocolate next to it instead. Of course, Liam spotted it in the cupboard and wanted it. I tried to explain that there was only one left and that if he wanted to keep his life safe, he would go and hide in a dark corner and eat it quietly. But noooo, he marched around the room like a proud peacock, carrying his biscuit like a trophy. Of course Missy came running up to me salivating, with her hand outstretched. She scoffed at the Eet-Sum-Mor I offered her and pointed to Liam’s biscuit. I stood for a minute, not sure what to do – shout at Liam for being such a peacock or shout at Hannah for not accepting the damn Eet-Sum-Mor. In the end I had to break the Zoo Animal in half, which sent them both into the throes of a tantrum because who really wants a crumbly half eaten soggy lion anyway. I’m tired of playing the referee, sometimes I have to physically pull them apart, other times we stand back and place bets on who will win. Don’t be alarmed, they love as fiercely as they fight, and when they aren’t fighting over my cell phone or who gets to put the bubble bath into the bath this time, they are still the best of friends who stand up for each other and cry for each other when they have to be apart. Sometimes they even share really well, down to Liam splitting his Barney-vite in half to share with Hannah, even though the packaging says from age two and up. Nonetheless, I still hope this endless bickering does come to an end soon, it’s no fun having to turn the tv up so high to drown out the yelling from the other room, the neighbours are going to start complaining soon.

In a bid to restore some sanity to our household, the husband and I have decided to buy identical-double of anything and everything that could possibly defuse the time bomb. The same food in their bowls, the same bottled juices, the same colouring books, the same toy with their kiddie meals – you get the picture? I even have to ask the nice lady behind the counter to really try her best to make the exact same looking ice cream cone – TWICE, or else one will be thrown back at her. I just hope it doesn’t reach crisis level where they fight over clothes, because I really wouldn’t want to put my son in a Hello Kitty t-shirt.

Truth is, I just want some peace and quiet. Why does every phase have to come with NOISE? And I believe it doesn’t get any quieter as they grow. I’m 30 and my father still tells me to tone it down every now and then. This parenting thing just gets better and better, doesn’t it?

ps: sarcasm aside.. I still love my booboos – cat fights and all.

Mothers of little boys work from “son up to son down…”


Dear Liam

You jammed your finger in the door today and you screamed so loud, that you actually turned a weird shade of purple, and I feel like a horrible piece of stinky poo for allowing that to happen! Then last night, Dad was cleaning your ears with an ear bud and he pushed too far and you almost puked the way you cried so hard from the pain. Dad also felt like a complete and utter loser for hurting you like that. We are so sorry!!!!

It really has been a series of unfortunate events, because a few days ago you were jumping on mummy’s bed and you bounced into the wall and had a big horrible lump on your head and it was close to bed time and I was too afraid to make you sleep because I didn’t know if you had a concussion or not. And in the same day, Hannah beat you up (well she gave you a few hot slaps), and you are so good, you know not to hit your little sister back, but it hurt so you were very upset.

You fall off your bike quite often, because you think you are a professional racer and you try stunts that you clearly have not practiced enough. Your fearlessness makes you believe you can fly off ledges and jump off chairs which are far too high, and you don’t believe me when I tell you that the water coming out of that tap is STILL TOO HOT, and you often scald your little fingers. You love spinning around and around to make yourself dizzy and you think it’s funny to fall all over the place, that is until you fall into a piece of furniture and hurt yourself. Your little legs and arms bare the evidence of your injuries, you look like you play rugby, bar the cauliflower ears.

I know you are a little boy, and that I should expect these wild and adventurous antics from you, but please boy, you are going to give mummy an embolism (that’s a very serious booboo) if you keep this up. How about we stick to reading books, doing puzzles and colouring in for a while? I know these aren’t half as much fun as seeing how fast you can roll down a grassy bank or sliding down the slide backwards or seeing if your finger can fit through the keyhole (only for it to get stuck), but we really need to find other outlets for that pent up energy you have.

One last request, please can we try to preserve the medical aid? We have to make it stretch until the end of the year and at the rate you are going, we are going to have to patch you up at home and although I have witnessed you getting stitched up before, I don’t think I have the stomach to do it myself.

Other than that, please remain the little comet you are. A comet is a bright spark that zooms across the sky, it doesn’t orbit the sun like the other good little planets, but instead follows its own path. Like you, it too has a mind of its own.

Love you my little soldier.

Xxx Mom

Previously Loved Goods


I like making a quick buck. Who doesn’t? If there’s money to be made, I want in on that action! With this thought in mind, I was pondering the many milestones my babies have reached and how so many items and accessories have now become obsolete in my household. When I think of the thousands of Rands we spent on all this paraphernalia that’s now just cluttering up my garage,  it makes me want to have another baby just so that I can get my money’s worth. What? Did I just say that? Slip of the finger.. If God so wills, I trust my family is COMPLETE! But seriously, being the frugal tightwad that I am, I am considering having a garage sale or opening a second hand baby store to get something out of this baby business.

Why not donate it or give it to another family having a baby, you ask. Let me state for the record, that I have graciously offered my leftovers, but these days ALL NEW parents want ALL NEW goodies – especially for their first born baby! I have given many things away to charities and to those less fortunate, I’ve even boxed old clothes and sent them as far as rural KZN, but now I think I’m going to get my own back and start a mini business selling baby leftovers. I could call it “Used But Not Abused” or  “Worn But not Torn” or “Hand Me Down Couture.” Ok, the name needs work but that’s the least of my worries, my leftovers will actually sell themselves!

Presently I am hoarding a walking ring, a feeding chair, a car seat, NUK bottles which Liam has outgrown, a Bumbo seat, a breastfeeding pillow, a changing mat, toys for every age, clothes and shoes galore, a breast pump (missing one small vital part, but I won’t tell if you won’t – hey sales is a cutthroat business). I have cot linen in all shades and colours, and receiving blankets upon fleecy blankets upon crotched blankets, a humidifier which I must admit was a real blessing for a croupy baby, but now stands stagnant. Bottle warmers, flasks, dummies in an array of colours and shapes, nappy stackers and a cupboard dedicated to baby bags – for what? What about all the items that looked useful at the time but actually proved to be useless – like the bath ring which both my children couldn’t stand to sit in, the cupboard locks that both my Macgyvers could unlock, small umbrellas – children don’t know what umbrellas are even for, they think it’s fun to get wet in the rain, not cover themselves up – DON’T EVER BUY YOUR KID AN UMBRELLA, no matter how cute it looks in the store, it’s a waste.

What irks me the most is that babies grow so quickly that you spend very little time at every stage, so just as your baby starts to enjoy something, they outgrow it! Hannah spent a lot of time just “lumping” in her walking ring, then she realised her car could take her places, but no sooner had she made this discovery, she started walking and we said goodbye to the walking ring. I’m beginning to think that babies should be left to run around naked in their first year of life and perhaps we could wrap them in a piece of cloth during Winter – they sprout so quickly out of their clothes. I have many beautiful treasured outfits that neither of them wore, because I was saving it for a “special” occasion – only for them to have outgrown it by the time that occasion came around.

So that’s it, I am opening shop! If you’re looking for previously loved baby goods, in excellent condition, I’m your (wo)man! I’ll make a fortune and probably spend my riches on more useless kids stuff. It just doesn’t end until they actually pack up and leave home and get their own garage to fill with useless stuff.