Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy New Year and Bring On More Travel Toys

Yep, ok it's like a few days late and several dollars short for this one. But hey, I have my reasons. Primarily it's because we were out of town, visiting my family. And when I'm with my family, I NEVER have time to blog. There is just too much food to eat!

First, my mom cooks all the time. Let me tell you, the woman is obsessed with keeping her fridge stocked to the point that the door doesn't close unless slammed hard. Then there are my aunts, each a culinary genius in her own right.

And boy, do they all love to feed you! I mean, if you get an invite from any of my family, be prepared and come hungry, even if it's just for a quick 15-minute stop. If you are a complete stranger, let's say you bought something my parents were selling on Craigslist, and you stop by to pick it up, you WILL have at least some tea and sweets (true story, by the way).

As with many other Russians, New Year is a HUGE holiday. That's why we drove to NY and that's why mom cooked even more food than she normally makes. The table was covered with plates of zakuski and everyone was full even before the main course (or should I say courses).

But it was really perfect. We had some snow early on December 31. The hubby took Mr. M out to have a snow fight and maybe even build a snowman. Well, the snowman didn't turn out which we blamed on the snow being too dry. Still, M. was so excited to finally see the snow. He even tried eating the stuff and found it perfectly agreeable.

BTW, can you believe it - he ate this whole entire bagel?!

This trip marked the first time we drove each way in just one day. Correction - first time with Mr. M. He's always been a handful and we usually took 2 4days to drive to NY and 2 days to drive back, with an overnight somewhere in southern MD or northern VA. With only 4 hours of driving time each day, we would normally pack 1 smallish and quietish car toy and a DVD player.

Well, this time it was going to be 10 hours of driving. The DVD player was on its trip to France along with our friends (who graciously let us borrow this thing from time to time). So we stocked up on various toys and games instead. In the retrospect, it would have probably been cheaper to book a hotel room.

Actually, finding car toys for a soon-to-be 3-year old boy who's not into drawing and fine motor activities and whose rather old-fashioned parents limit his exposure to toy computers and other glowing boxes proved to be next to impossible. Here's what we took with us (half the toys were gifts from grandparents and those were saved for the drive back):

I Spy books - M. didn't bother flipping through them on the ride, but was interested in playing a bit (one page at a time) as soon as we got home.
LeapFrog Text and Learn - "k" is like "karate kick" - a huge hit with M. Unfortunately, not much was learned from it, but in all fairness, M. knows all his letters VERY WELL.

Crayola Beginnings Color Me A Song - this was a dud as a car toy (and I put such high hopes into it, thinking that adding interactive music to the experience would encourage M. to spend more time drawing with crayons). In all fairness, outside of the car, M seemed to like the toy more, but still he only spends a few seconds with it once in a while.
Quercetti Super Saxoflute- hooray to saxoflute! First, M spent hours playing with it in NY and then more saxofluting in the car. The best thing about splurging on the Super Saxoflute is you can configure it a dozen different ways, making new instruments each time (same sound though). We even made 2 instruments at a time for some family fun.

Tote-along Travel Memory, Seek and Find Game - personally, I loved-loved-loved this game. M didn't get the point at all. Then again, he can't see as much from his car seat. But there was a moment during our stay in NY when M got bored and it was way too cold to go outside. So I led him on a "Things at Home" scavenger hunt and he loved it. So maybe that's a game he can grow into. In the mean time, it helps me stay awake better than Starbucks.

Home-made pizza game - ok, this was just a very primitive game of pizza that I fashioned out of cardboard and felt scraps and put in a real pizza box (the box is the key to making it really interesting). I didn't spend much time on this toy, no sewing at all since I figured M wouldn't really care much for it. But surprisingly, it was his favorite game on the way to NY. And he played with it some more in NY when we had a truly diverse pretend picknik with pizza, playdoh cakes and tea from a samovar.

Oh, we also took some stuffed animals, a small wooden robot toy and a bunch of kid-friendly CDs.

Ultimately, we are very thankful for DC-area IKEA stores, conveniently located just off of I-95, that provided us with decent food and some good old running around and exploring (and I'm talking about me as well here).

1 comment:

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