Toy Shopping with Toddlers

It should really be a reality show.

Our girls were given $10 Toys'R'Us giftcards by their grandparents as stocking stuffers back in December. We hold onto a lot of things likes this. Generally, because our kids are already suffering from uncontrollable body tremors as they bounce from one Christmas present to the next...like hummingbirds on acid.

So, we tucked said cards away for a "rainy day."

That rainy day came this past weekend. It's cold here in WY . There's lots of snow and 'windy' would be an understatement. I've seen the iconic images of Marilyn from The Seven Year Itch and let's be honest, if you even attempt to wear a dress in this weather, your skirt is over your head and you have second degree frost bite. Not to mention that the wind chill makes a balmy 17 fell like a rather crisp -20.

Needless to say, we don't get to play outside for a good portion of the calendar year and my toddlers get restless, stir crazy, grumpy...they basically start to hate life. And in all honesty, the hubs and I aren't far behind.

So, we head down to Colorado any chance we can get. Whether it is with the sole purpose of perusing the Whole Foods or wanting to try a new pub...we pretty much reserve all "fun" funds to be spent out of state.

So, with toddler-life-hating rearing it's ugly head, we planned a day of play cafes, book stores, toy shops, yummy lunches, and Whole Foods meandering.

We started off at Whole Foods. Meandering complete in 10 minutes. Micro brews purchased in about 20 minutes. Tots losing their stuff all over the place in less than five minutes.

So, with the natives restless, we headed to the play-cafe...because Tots must be appeased to make the rest of this crazy plan work. This place is awesome. Granted, we have to drive 45 minutes to get to it, but it offers yummy food, good coffee, and endless indoor play for your kiddos. The hubs and I switched-off watching kids and using the free WiFi. As an aside: I was amazed at the number of parents who chose to completely ignore their children. I'm all for giving my kids "room," but when your kid is begging me to watch them slide and you don't even look up...you're doing something wrong.

After an hour of the girls losing their minds (in a good way), we head out for lunch. Which started with french fries and ended in a dessert that our 3-year-old shamelessly and unreservedly inhaled.

Now comes the toy store...or Dante's seventh circle...

Has anyone else ventured in on this madness? Allowing your young children to choose their own toy? It is right up their with eye-gouging.

We looked at EVERY aisle. Did not utter one opinion on toy selection...just clarified price and actual purchasing "ability." We held our breath as the girls walked down aisles of Barbies and Bratz. We used time-honored parental guerilla warfare tactics of distraction.

"Yes, that Barbie is interesting....LOOK A STUFFED HORSE!"

"Oh, that is Calliou....HEY IS THAT A ROCKET SHIP!?"

Our girls finally landed on a miniature stuffed monkey and two little Olivia play sets. We were pretty happy with those choices.

Our girls don't actually own (m)any licensed character toys.  Clara had somehow come to obtain a small Dora doll that was quickly lost and now, of course, they own a family of plastic pigs (Olivia and her family).

However, I love Olivia as a character and I love the original Olivia books (those written by Ian Falconer...not the books published under the Nickelodeon banner). They make me smile. Falconer works in a bit of sophisticated wit and humor, while presenting a strong, interesting, curious girl.

We tend to stray away from pre-made character toys (Disney princesses, cartoon characters, etc) because it seems to stifle imagination. All of the sudden - that toy can only be named ONE name and only participates in a series of pre-fabricated scenes and interactions. When we purchase toys that are pretty vague an generic the toys become ANYTHING our girls want them to be...and that's really fun thought process to watch.

The girls were so excited about their new goodies that they fell sound asleep on the way home (SCORE!) and 45 minutes later dove into making the pig family at home in our house. They haven't stopped playing with them since - especially our littlest.  She basically hoards them all in a little people school bus and takes them with her wherever she goes.

So, what kid toys do you love (or not so much love)?

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