The Top Five–Children’s Toys

Time for another “Top Five” list…and this time, I actually kept it to exactly five! Today I’m looking at my favorite children’s toys…and with one exception, they’re all toys I played with when I was a child, in addition to all being toys my children have enjoyed/still enjoy playing with!

  • Little People–Fisher Price’s Little People were originally introduced in the 1950s. The barrel-shaped, armless, Little People I had (including those that came with the iconic house and the farm), looked quite a bit different from the chunky, more-detailed ones my children have played with, but the basic concept is still the same, and they’re extremely sturdy! They have been the basis for many hours of imaginary play!
  • Lego–Lego is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the brick this year! Of course the Lego company has gotten bigger over those years, and the sets have become more complicated, especially as they have introduced licensed lines, but the bricks themselves really haven’t changed. As a matter of fact, it’s my understanding that the first Lego bricks, the Lego bricks I played with, and the zillions of Lego bricks in our house today, just waiting for someone with bare feet to step on them, will all work together. That is impressive commitment to standardization and quality control! I’m also not ashamed to admit that I’m still building with Lego bricks, as is Ryan, so this is one toy that is literally enjoyed by every single person in our house!
  • American Girl/Beforever–What we know as American Girl today started as the Pleasant Company in 1986. I had one and only one American Girl doll when I was a child (Kirsten), and I still have her today. Bunny and Ladybug have…well, way more dolls, some they received as gifts, and some they saved their hard-earned money to purchase themselves. In addition to being very high quality (my doll still looks great 25+ years later!), they’re a great tool for learning about history. And not only do they encourage imaginative play, they also encourage reading, because you just have to learn the story of your doll! Like Lego, this is a toy that I’m still playing with, and I even added a second doll to my collection last year when the children gave me Melody for my birthday!
  • Crayola–Crayola crayons have been around since 1903! I don’t know if everyone would consider drawing materials (plus all of the other fabulous arts and crafts stuff Crayola makes) to be toys, but I do. They inspire so many hours of creativity, and what parent doesn’t have a house filled with artwork created with Crayola? And there’s something special about the smell the first time you open a new box of crayons…
  • Build-a-Bear–This is the most recent toy on the market to make my list (they were founded right here in the St. Louis area in 1997, and their first store opened in the St. Louis Galleria), and the one toy here that I didn’t play with in my childhood. The stuffed animals are high quality, and let’s face it, getting to make your own bear, make as wish on its heart, “wash” it in the store, and dress it is a lot of fun! Of course, it can also get expensive really quickly, but that’s true for pretty much all toys. If you’re feeling really crazy, you can even have a child’s party in store, and they even have a new concept called the Build-a-Bear Bakeshop where you can decorate cupcakes and enjoy other treats.

There are so many other toys my children have enjoyed playing with over the years…pretty much anything made by Fisher-Price, Webkinz, Leapfrog, Transformers, and My Little Pony to name a few, but these five are really special, and I hope they’re around for a long time to come!

Retro Schnucks Sign

I really have no idea how old this Cahokia Schnucks sign actually is (the store itself appears to be an old Kroger, so old enough, I suppose), but it feels retro to me, maybe because it’s a cube. I also think the Schnucks soldier probably has something to do with it…while you see him on their trucks and in their advertising, he doesn’t appear on store signs too often!

Update: The good people at Schnucks were kind enough to give me a little background on the store location and sign. I was correct that it was originally a Kroger store, which opened in 1982, and was purchased by Schnucks in 1986. They inserted the Schnucks soldier logo (which debuted way back in 1968 as part of their “Revolutionary Low Prices” campaign), into the original store sign at that point.

2017-18 School Year–Week Seventeen

Finally back to work after our Christmas vacation!

I will confess, we kind of took things easy this week. We didn’t do every subject every day (and we never did get around to literature at all), but I still feel like we got a lot accomplished.

Turkey and Bunny found the surface area of various solids in math. Ladybug got to use a compass for the first time, to draw circles of various sizes, which she found very exciting! Chickadee continued working on counting larger numbers, as well as more basic addition.

We had a very exciting week in science. Ladybug started a new chapter on ungulates. The very first animal we learned about was the elephant, which thrilled Chickadee…they’re her favorite animal! We also learned a bit about wooly mammoths and mastodons, and I’m hoping we may have a related field trip next week. Turkey and Bunny are still learning about cells, and they jumped right into the thick of things with DNA, RNA, transcription, translation, and mitosis this week! It was a lot of information, but also very interesting.

In history, Turkey and Bunny learned about different city-states in China, and then moved west to learn more about Assyria, Babylon, and Egypt. Ladybug learned about the Medes and the Persians and Cyrus the Great (Turkey and Bunny will be learning about all that next week).

We also got out of the house on Thursday, when it was (briefly) nice outside and visited the Missouri Botanical Garden. I love how it doesn’t matter how many times we’ve been there, or what time of the year it is, we always see and learn something new. We enjoyed the walk outside, as well as through the three greenhouses, and we especially enjoyed getting to watch some ducks and geese in the Japanese Garden!

I’d like to say we’ll be back on our regular schedule next week, but we have some extra special things planned, so it will be a fun, but very disjointed school week!

Sartorial Saturday–Jenny January

It’s Jenny January, that wonderful time of year when fans of Pinup Girl Clothing’s Jenny skirts and dresses wear their favorite pieces. My Jenny skirt collection hasn’t changed since last January, but I thought in honor of the first style of skirt I bought from PUG, I would share my current favorite ways of styling each skirt. It’s hard to choose, though, because Jennys look great no matter how you wear them!

The Linnean House–January

Today begins my fourth year of sharing a monthly photo of a Missouri Botanical Garden landmark! I previously photographed the Climatron in 2015, Tower Grove House in 2016, and the Japanese Garden’s Drum Bridge in 2017. This year, I’m going to be looking at how the scenery around the Linnean House changes through the year.

The Linnean House (which was named for Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus), was built in 1882. Its “sister greenhouse” in nearby Tower Grove Park, the Piper Palm House, is actually older than the Linnean House, having been built in 1878, but the Linnean House is the only remaining original greenhouse at the Botanical Garden that was built in Henry Shaw’s day. It also the oldest continually operating public greenhouse west of the Mississippi River!

The Linnean House is one of our favorite places to visit at the Garden. The inside is home to fruit trees (its original function was as an orangery), cacti, and a beautiful collection of camellias. The outside is always beautiful, with seasonal plantings and reflecting pools that not only contain sculptures but are also frequently a display spot for events like Garden Glow and the Lantern Festival. I’m looking forward to watching how the view changes this year, and I certainly got off to a good start with ice and leftover Christmas decorations in the pools outside!

Chickadee Thursday

It was unusually warm here this morning (in the 60s!), but that’s set to change dramatically this afternoon/evening, so I decided we should sneak in a trip to the Missouri Botanical Garden while we had the chance. There was a little rain when we first got there, and Chickadee loves any excuse to use an umbrella!

The rained cleared up quickly, and we had a very pleasant walk around the Garden. We especially loved stopping in the Japanese Garden to observe the ducks and geese…Chickadee was very entertained by them!

Out with the Old…In with the New

After over 11 years, our faithful old Whirlpool dishwasher finally died. It started showing signs of its demise on Christmas Eve, and last Friday (Ryan’s Birthday Eve), it gave up the ghost. Fortunately, I was in the kitchen when it happened, or we would have had a major flood on our hands! I can’t even imagine how much work it saved me over the years…around holidays, it wasn’t unheard of for me to run it twice, and occasionally even three times a day! I always enjoy playing “dishwasher Tetris” trying to get as many dishes in as possible before starting a load, but when you’re talking Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner for as many as nine people, those dishes pile up fast!

It was, of course, very exciting to see our new Bosch dishwasher delivered today, and figure out what all it can do! It has three racks! And it’s SO QUIET!!! I can’t even believe it’s running, because I have to put my ear right up to it to hear it!

We’ve now replaced all of our kitchen appliances, plus our washer and dryer. I guess that’s to be expected, after 11 years in this house, and I’ve enjoyed seeing what new things each new appliance can do!