Natural and Local Toys

My oldest son, Tonchi, just had his 4th birthday on the 12th of July. He is getting so big. How does time pass by so quickly? I know some of you probably have kids in college and say the same thing and read that sentence and say “WHAT?!? Only 4 years old, she still has a baby!” I know, I know, but it still feels like he is getting big so fast. I feel like it was just yesterday that I was pregnant with him! Even though it is going so fast I’m enjoying it and love every moment of seeing him grow, explore, learn and develop! It is such a joy! However, not the reason for this post!

On birthdays and Christmas I try and send out a reminder to my family about what types of gifts we appreciate. Of course any thought is appreciated, but PLEASE don’t buy us stuff, just because you need to get something. We prefer to have natural toys of wood, steel, iron, silk, wool, etc… “Nothing with plastic or batteries!” is our motto. How to address that with more mainstream families can be a delicate thing! The following is the paragraph I usually try to send out before any birthday or gift-giving-holiday.

Just a friendly reminder, please no plastic or batteries for the kids. We prefer wood, metal, glass, wool, silk, or other natural materials. I know this makes shopping more difficult, and the items tend to be a bit more expensive… so combination gifts (i.e. for Tonchi and Koa from Jack and Jill, etc) work well! Under their names I’ve listed a few websites that have great products that all pretty much fit our requests. Just let me know if you have any questions! 😉 Thank you so much for your generosity and kindness in remembering our family! 😉 We love you all and can’t wait to celebrate the Christmas (holiday of choice) season with you! 😉

Throughout the year I try to keep a running tally of toys and items that I would like for the boys that I don’t have the money for or that aren’t enough of a priority that I would purchase them right away. For example, one thing we had listed this year was stainless steel plates and bowls for the boys. I REALLY wanted them, but didn’t have the money to invest right away. Educational toys and games are always ok as well. Tonchi has been really in to marine life and dinosaurs and he received a few books with information that is way over his head, but he LOVES looking at the pictures for now. Later when he learns to read I’m sure he will treasure these in a new way! These books in particular were great because they suit him now and probably will through middle school! As long as he is still interested in it!

Recently I ordered a few wooden toys for Aisling from Etsy which is one of my favorite places to order from. Usually the items are handmade and USA made at that! I can also easily find out if they are local or not! I purchased a pearl necklace for my sister for Christmas from Etsy… it was from NY and she lives in NY City, so it was local for her!!! 😉 Does that count! 😉

Our families have tried really hard to honor our wishes and for the most part they do a great job. They have also generously contributed to a college fund and also a stock trade account that my banker brother set up for each of the kids. This helps a lot for generous grandparents who have a dollar amount they want to spend and parents who don’t want the toy room completely replaced with the toys it would supply!

It is also very important to me that my kids treasure the gifts that they receive and are grateful to the person who thought about them and remembered them. I don’t want my kids to open one gift and then go to the next not even noticing what they received and then often overwhelmed at the end of the day because there is so much to play with that they don’t know where to start.

I think we might be making headway and I’m so excited! Just this week we celebrated Tonchi’s birthday on Saturday when his birthday isn’t until Tuesday. Saturday morning I was trying to explain to him that we were going to celebrate his birthday that evening, but he wasn’t going to get any presents from Mama and Papa until Tuesday. Try explaining that to an almost 4 year old! He then said, “My cake?”. He thought his gift was his cake! 😉 And he was completely happy with that being his gift, but not ok with waiting to eat it until Tuesday! I assured him that was part of the celebration for Saturday and he felt much better!

Below is an example of the Christmas list we gave out last year for people who asked what they wanted. Some of them were websites that have a lot of items that meet our specs and are easier for relatives to pick out something on their own… Most of these, unfortunately, have toys made in China. I would prefer them to be made in the USA, but I haven’t finished researching it. That is on my to do list by this holiday season!

  1. Veggie Tales DVDs
  2. Really Wooly DVDs – produced by Dayspring – I think you can find them at the Christian book store. I think the Christmas one is on sale now for $5.
  3. Educational books on numbers, alphabet and colors would be good for Tonchi
  4. Gardening set (remember no plastic please) – I’ve seen a few that come with a few tools and gloves in a canvas bag… both of them would LOVE that. They use mine right now, but then I don’t have any to use! 😉
  5. Cowboy stuff- they are getting a stick horse from us… Tonchi would love new/used boots, holsters, wooden guns, felt cowboy hat, etc
  6. Wooden food – at Oompa, which also has a lot of other great toys.  Not all are Mintz approved! 😉 So you will have to be choosy, but GREAT ideas and I think they have the garden set on this site.
  7. Down To Earth Toys –  Another great website for kids toys that are wood, wool, silk, etc…Most made in the USA.
  8. Also this blogger has come up with a great list of USA companies who produce great toys which I use as a resource as well. Read her post on it with links.
  9. Also another GREAT artisan is Bill Merkel at Neighborwood who is located in Arlington, VA which is about 20 miles local for us who makes all of his own toys from trees that were taken down in his area. It is all local wood that he gets from tree services and mills himself. For Koa’s birthday family and friends contributed financially and we ordered a wood kitchen from him. We are SO pleased with it and highly recommend his work.
  10. Tonchi LOVES sharks, dinosaurs, dolphins, snakes, and a lot of other animals, so just about any educational book on those subjects would be great
  11. Books on CD – This is for both of them to listen to at night while falling asleep:
  • Narnia series – Focus on the Family puts out a dramatization of which is AMAZING
  • Any classic that would be on their level
  • Adventures in Odyssey – we just ordered the drama bible story set for them for Christmas, but I’m sure they wouldn’t mind getting two sets! 😉

Please let me know what you do at your house and if you have some favorite places to buy from that produce good quality toys.

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