IMG_3600Confession:  I love shopping for toys.  I normally refrain from giving toys as gifts to my nieces and nephews, because I know how toys can quickly pile up and take over the house.  But sometimes I can’t resist.  And for my own child, well that is a different story.  I get to carefully select the cutest toys for her, give them to her, enjoy her excitement, and play with her.  The only hard part is narrowing down which to buy because we don’t want to overdo it.

IMG_3602One amazing thing about having a child is you sort of get to be a kid again!  Reliving vicariously all the things you left behind when you became an adult (trick or treating, seeing or doing things for the first time, etc).  So since I’m now newly obsessed with toys, I’m going to talk about a few toys I – oh, and Catherine 😉 – love!

IMG_3615 IMG_3617First, I have to mention Lamaze cloth books.  I was a big reader growing up and I’m hoping Catherine will be too.  Not only do books teach you to slow down and relax and focus and be patient (hard to come by in today’s instant gratification world), they also expose you to new perspectives and philosophies and you absorb these much better than if you watched them passively on the tv.  Not to mention your language and communication skills improve with reading.  Sooo…long story short, my mom read to me and I read to Catherine.  But she isn’t quite ready for regular books.  Her attention span is short and she grabs them and tries to eat them.  That’s where these books help.  I’m not sure why, but she will actually focus and sit quietly, captivated, while I “read” her Mittens the Kitten Lamaze cloth book.  I say “read” because this particular book doesn’t have words so I make up the story, which I think has a lot to do with why she’s more interested. But even when I make up the story for her board books, she doesn’t sit still for those stories the way she does for Mittens the Kitten.  Maybe the colors, the soft feel, and the crinkly cat on the cover has something to do with it.  Catherine loves Mittens so much I ordered How Do I Feel, Peek-a-Boo Forest, and Emily’s Day.

IMG_3702 IMG_3707 IMG_3709 IMG_3714 IMG_3715Another toy we love around here are these blocks by Apple Park.  Catherine got them in her Christmas stocking from Santa this year.  Each one makes a soft jingle, chime, or squeak.  They stitching and detailing is very nice, making these an attractive toy to have around the house or on a shelf.  Most importantly, Catherine loves them.  Each side has a number, a color, or a baby animal on it.  They’re great learning toys!  I show her the animals and she looks and listens as I say the names and make the animal noise.  She has now learned how to roaaarrr like a bear (though I’m sure she doesn’t understand that’s the noise a bear makes)!  They’re soft and just the right size for her to grab and throw.  Plus, they have a cloth tag she loves to chew on.

IMG_3788 IMG_3803And since we’re talking about Apple Park, here are a couple more Apple Park toys we love:  this bee critter puppet blankie with a wooden teether attached.  Catherine has a weird obsession with cloths and linens.  She’ll take anything and put it over her face or suck on it, but it’s nice to have this soft, pretty little blankie she can hold on to easily using the wooden teething ring.  I love that the blankie is so pretty.  Good for baby, good for mommy. 🙂  IMG_3604And…this bunny puppet!  My only complaint about this puppet is that my hand barely fits in it, but other than that Catherine gets a big smile on her face when she sees Bunny and gives him a hug.  Bunny is good for car rides and diaper changes and he has long ears that make excellent chew toys too.

This next toy is highly recommended…

IMG_3720_2 IMG_3724 IMG_3728 IMG_3759 IMG_3767 IMG_3768IMG_3778The Haba Toot Toot Rattle is a MUST.  I’m not kidding.  Chris picked it out before Catherine was born.  I was skeptical because it looked slightly boyish and she already had some teething things.  But this little teether holds her attention longer than…I do believe…any other toy she has.  It is especially useful when we go to dinner as it’s small and keeps her occupied.  There’s absolutely nothing toxic in the wood or paint, so she can chew away without me worrying!  And as a bonus, this toy is really nice to look at.  You almost want to display it.  I plan to buy more of these toys for her, as there’s a huge selection for all stages.

IMG_3627Yet another hit from Chris – and he’d been eyeing this one since before we were even pregnant – this Fun On The Farm Stacker from Pottery Barn Kids is a BIG hit with Catherine.  Not only is it a really pretty toy, there are so many things you can teach with it – animals, animal sounds, colors, sizes, etc.

IMG_3629Catherine loves to aggressively attack her stacker and take it apart then chew on the top.  I hold the little animals and tickle her with them, making the animal noises, and she laughs! Don’t let this photo fool you. Someone was ready for a nap. 🙂

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IMG_3686Okay, so this next one is something I’m hoping will sort of grow with Catherine.  It’s the Pure Nature Organic Doll named Bea.  It was Catherine’s Christmas gift from Mommy.  I’m trying to teach her to “love the baby” and “kiss the baby” and all that sort of sweet, gentle stuff.  She hugs Bea for a second, then grabs her by her spaghetti hair and shakes her aggressively.

Catherine really loves her toys, and it’s so much fun to watch her greedily try to play with them all at once, and eat them and love on them and shove them out of her way when she’s done.  Her eyes light up when she sees them and she gets a big smile on her face.

IMG_3584So, I need to stop. But toys are so much fun to photograph since they always put Catherine in a good mood. I’m sure there’ll be many more toy posts to come!