How to Deal With Relatives Who Like to Contribute Clutter - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 43 Old 09-13-2005, 12:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Inspried by a Waldorf book I was reading yesterday I decided I am going to symplify my toddler's and baby's toy collection. We are getting rid of the toy boxes (AKA pits of doom) and all the toys that they don't use or that are too commerical or don't inspire imagination. DH is on board - I don't even think the boys will notice because they hardly use all this stuff. Anything that we are keeping will be displayed and within easy reach. Etc., etc.

The problem is - my in laws LOVE to buy the boys cheap junk toys from the discount stores. I would like to encourage them to instead just buy one nice wooden toy or something instead of a ton of cheap things but they aren't easy to deal with in regards to that type of thing. (I have a feeling they will just ignore me and then we will have more crap coming in that we are trying to get rid of.) Does anyone else deal with this type of thing? Any advice for me?

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#2 of 43 Old 09-13-2005, 12:23 PM
 
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I have not had any success in that department. My relatives believe they are showing their love and truthfully, for me, I can't rob them of the joy I see when they give the presents to my kids. The junk toy hangs around for awhile and then disappears.

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#3 of 43 Old 09-13-2005, 12:54 PM
 
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You're fighting a losing battle there. The only relative I EVER got to listen to me was my stepmother, and that was only because she had been a preschool teacher and knew what I meant, and because she could feed her need for SPENDING on the kids by buying the big-ticket stuff. She got a wooden Melissa and Doug castle for them one day 50% off because it was a display on sale.

The rest of them? Squeaky, plastic noisemakers, some of which the kids fall in love with. Most of it I can cull pretty quickly.

I miss my family. I hope they "get" soon, the whole experience-over-material wish.
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#4 of 43 Old 09-13-2005, 12:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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OK - not the advice I was hoping for ladies!! :LOL

I've spoken with my Mom about it and she totally "gets" it and will be behind us for sure (which is awesome because she loves to spend so she can be in charge of getting those big ticket items). My in laws though *sigh* well I guess I'll just have to donate the stuff to the local swap shop when they aren't paying attention...

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#5 of 43 Old 09-13-2005, 02:47 PM
 
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My MIl is a complusive consumer. We are sure to provide her with a list of toys/clothes/whatever and places of commerce we support. She never shops from it though.

SOOOO . . when the annoying toys/clothes show up, we tell her.....

"Wow. Little Johnny would love to keep this at YOUR house. That way everytime he comes over you can play with this special toy together. Isn't that great?"

And then leave the toy at their house.

If she says, "Don't forget to take your new toy". Just smile and say "we are not forgetting it. We want to leave it here so we can play with it with you."

Since we have started this, my MIL now has a toy vac. cleaner, a singing duck, a remote control car, a firetruck, a play guitar - all of which light up and make really loud annoying sounds.

She hates it when that duck accidently starts singing in the middle of the night but lately we have been getting gift certificate instead. LOL
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#6 of 43 Old 09-13-2005, 05:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I must admit I would get a perverse joy out of some stupid duck waking my MIL up and annoying her...

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#7 of 43 Old 09-13-2005, 05:26 PM
 
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Roflmao At The Duck

Oh Joy!!!!!!!!!!!!
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#8 of 43 Old 09-13-2005, 11:21 PM
 
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*oy* My mom has her heart in the right place but just doesn't get it. She really looks at what the girls are interested in and trys to find things to go with it. my oldest dd loves, knights, castles, and such but my mom tends to buy main stream things like fp or barbie.
oh well, at least she gets the girls toys that aren't the latest greatest thing unlike my mil.
though I have to say mil bought us a sweet backpack to move youngest dd into....she agree and thought that that was a good idea.

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#9 of 43 Old 09-13-2005, 11:44 PM
 
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And where do we get one of these ducks? Maybe I can ask my MIL to buy one for her house...

Seriously though.... We have the SAME issues and I have tried to stop them to no avail. My own mother is the worst offender. She is a sale shopper and buys all sorts of crap for the whole family that we really don't need. She just can't to pass up a good deal. I try to act grateful (even though I continually ask her NOT to buy stuff) but many times the stuff ends up on Freecycle or at Goodwill.
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#10 of 43 Old 09-14-2005, 07:42 AM
 
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My relatives believe they are showing their love and truthfully, for me, I can't rob them of the joy I see when they give the presents to my kids. The junk toy hangs around for awhile and then disappears.

:

I'm not judging you when I say this, I'm just letting you know how I'd feel in this situation. I do understand completely your position and frustration with the situation.

I actually think it's so sweet of them to think of your kids. While it can be irritating, I'd just do what this poster suggested and toss it if they don't play with it. I was taught that it's the thought that counts, not the quality.

I would be embarassed personally to ask people to buy better toys for my kids lol..other than my mom of course. I would feel like I was being rude..but that is just me.


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#11 of 43 Old 09-14-2005, 11:40 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Edited because I misread Sherra's post a bit... :LOL I thought you were saying that you did "not" understand my frustration but I reread and that's not really what you said...

My issue is that they don't have a lot of money and I'd hate for them to be getting toys that the kids aren't going to use. I would feel much better if they took that money and bought say one nice wooden toy or something that we won't have to give away - that the kids will get use out of and everyone will be happy.

Of course I don't want to rob them of the joy of giving things to my children - but I also don't want to hurt their feeling if they come over and look around and notice that the things they bought aren't getting used.

If for example I was buying things for my neice and nephew and found out my SIL was throwing them away - ouch that would hurt. I would much rather she gave me some direction in terms of what they need and or want.

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#12 of 43 Old 09-14-2005, 04:02 PM
 
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I don't recall if you mentioned if space was a problem at your house, but I keep "annoying" toys in my basement and on rainy/cranky/snowy/too hot to go out/or sick days I have a stash of stuff that is new and exciting and helps to lift everyone's moods.

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#13 of 43 Old 09-15-2005, 07:40 AM
 
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My issue is that they don't have a lot of money and I'd hate for them to be getting toys that the kids aren't going to use. I would feel much better if they took that money and bought say one nice wooden toy or something that we won't have to give away - that the kids will get use out of and everyone will be happy.
I still would never tell anyone what to buy for my kids. I just think I'd be rude for doing it. Maybe that is jsut my perspective on things. I'm not always right :P . We can't control everything around us..wouldn't it be nice? hehe. If they don't have a lot of money, maybe a comment of..wow they have so many toys..you really don't have to do that. But another way to view it is that this gives them joy. Sometimes the act of giving to someone who doesn't have much money makes them feel whole. Doesn't mean you have to keep it though!


Quote:
Of course I don't want to rob them of the joy of giving things to my children - but I also don't want to hurt their feeling if they come over and look around and notice that the things they bought aren't getting used.
I think most people who buy stuff know the reality of the situation that just because they buy it, doesn't mean it will be the top on the priority list to play with. Most of the time I can't even remember what I gave haha. Unless it was a big ticket item of course but I don't do those types of gifts.


Quote:
If for example I was buying things for my neice and nephew and found out my SIL was throwing them away - ouch that would hurt. I would much rather she gave me some direction in terms of what they need and or want.
I'd like to say that is how I am, however, I do know that I am not sure how I'd feel if someone I wasn't really really close to told me to buy better toys! I probably would go hmm.... I am the type of person though that would ask a parent first what the child likes..but that is me..not everyone else. It's taken me a long time to realize and sometimes I think I still am not there yet, that we aren't all alike..hehe..what offends you, wouldn't offend me..etc. I'm sorry if I didn't give the answer you were looking for. It might work for you if you find in the convo a place to inject what your kids LIKE as toys in general...hoping they catch a clue. Johnny..really loves such and such. I know I would make a mental note of it...so hopefully they would?

You know your family better than I do and what could possibly offend them or not..so go with what you feel comfortable with. I can only tell you what I'd do in the situation as it's presented to me .


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#14 of 43 Old 09-15-2005, 10:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Sherra
I'd like to say that is how I am, however, I do know that I am not sure how I'd feel if someone I wasn't really really close to told me to buy better toys!
I am talking about my in-laws here - I'm married to their son who could easily be the one to get the idea accross instead of me. I'm not sure you can get much closer to someone then your own parents...

And geesh way to make me sound like a wench - I'd like them to buy toys that we won't throw away - not just "better toys".

My in laws are strange but they actually do look around for the toys that they buy and ask about them. So they would totally notice if the stuff they bought wasn't around.

I'm just looking for advice about how to do something difficult in a kind way. Maybe you don't agree with my desire to do so but I hate waste so it's important to me to try. Thanks for your perspective though.

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#15 of 43 Old 09-15-2005, 11:52 AM
 
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My mil does the look around for toys thing! And she will call 6 months later and ask if they still play with it and get pissed off if the kids aren't. She got mad the last time she came to visit because I wasn't using the umbrella stroller she got us a year ago.

I know it's because she doesn't see them often (they live far away) and maybe she wants the kids to remember her with the toys?? I think it's odd but knowing her that is probably it.

I don't think it's too much to ask to give a little advice on what to get the kids. If money is tight for them Toys R Us sells imaginarium stuff that is made mostly by kidkraft, it's just packaged different and half the price and they also sell the Melissa and Doug stuff.

My sil loves to buy the battery operated loud and crappy stuff on purpose because I don't like it. I told her I give it all away and she stopped. Now the kids get gift cards or clothes .
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#16 of 43 Old 09-15-2005, 12:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by pilesoflaundry
If money is tight for them Toys R Us sells imaginarium stuff that is made mostly by kidkraft, it's just packaged different and half the price and they also sell the Melissa and Doug stuff.
Oooh that's good to know thanx!! I think pointing them to certain stuff at Toys R Us might totally work.

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#17 of 43 Old 09-15-2005, 12:04 PM
 
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I don't think there is anything wrong with explicitly stating what toys you prefer. I won't let my ILs take my kid to McDonalds. I think all the plasticy, battery toys are kinda like "fast food" toys.

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#18 of 43 Old 09-15-2005, 12:18 PM
 
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Originally Posted by the_lissa
I won't let my ILs take my kid to McDonalds. I think all the plasticy, battery toys are kinda like "fast food" toys.
First I read that as plastic, battery toys are like kid's meal toys, which I totally agree with.
Then I realized that you mean that plastic, battery toys lack creative calories. Which I also totally agree with.

I swayed family members towards getting wooden and other creative toys by stating that I was trying to encourage creativity in my child. And I gave examples. A battery-operated "guitar" that just plays ugly tunes when you press a button isn't creative in the way that a kid-size instrument is creative - where the child makes his own music. Plastic, battery-operated dolls that talk aren't as creative as cloth dolls that the child gives voice to. I gave countless examples until the family members started seeing how much creativity various toys would need as they passed them in the toy aisles. I even explained that they could just bring over boxes for playing, as DS would have a blast making them into his own cars, boats, or trains. The *bling* toys just don't foster creativity.
Now my family members actually check with me before buying DS toys, and I give them feedback. I've also recommended web sites and various natural toy catalogs.

If you want to be more passive-aggressive about it you can sign up your inlaws to receive natural toy catalogs in the mail.

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#19 of 43 Old 09-15-2005, 12:26 PM
 
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Then I realized that you mean that plastic, battery toys lack creative calories. Which I also totally agree with.

Yep that is what I mean.

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#20 of 43 Old 09-15-2005, 12:53 PM
 
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I can totally relate!! I don't completely follow waldorf philosophy but I have learned alot about NFL and keeping things simple through reading about it. I got rid of alot of plasticy junk and have scaled down alot. We just moved and the kids were in need of shelving for their room and the cost of what we needed was well over 150.00 so I saved up and I found a playstand on ebay for 235.00 and it was the best purchase! Their toys are within reach in baskets (I keep a look out for baskets at garage sales and thrift stores and on clearance) and they use it to play store and such. I (oops I mean 'they' :LOL ) love it! I think my house looks better and less cluttered with all the wooden toys and very little plastic now when I go to peoples houses where there are alot of plastic its just a turn off to me.
Anyway, this is a very touchy subject with my IL - my dh family is divorced so there are 2 to deal with (my mom buys thrift store or antique toys! because she doesn't have the money to buy new!)
Anyway I tell my IL's every holiday not to buy plastic they rarely listen! It is so frustrating! I am specific about (learning store,melissa and doug etc forget catalogs I went that route,comp. ignored) what to get and they still don't listen. This year I am telling them the kids have enough toys and to buy books! Or dress up clothes. I should be safe with that Unless they buy commercial character books which I hate... thats a whole 'nother battle... :LOL
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#21 of 43 Old 09-16-2005, 02:19 PM
 
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Remember, no matter what tact you take, it will take some time for your MIL to really "get it". Even though, my MIL is getting better by giving gift certificates, she still succumbs to the Dollar Store, the sale at Ross, the thrift store find. We do always try to thank her for her big heart/wallet/intent even if we don't really approve of the item in question.

My Dh is pretty honest with her about getting rid of stuff. If she asks about it an item later, he tells her we had to get rid of it due to space/clutter issues or that the kids have stopped using it. It does hurt her feelings but she has a short memory about those things. If it is icky clothes she is giving, we explain that our children are not walking billboards and it would be great if she could return the item. She loves brand names. But my son is named Jack not "Tommy" as in Hilfiger and my 2yo doesn't need blinged-out track suits a la J.LO. She doesn't like this too much either. We have told her it is best to check with us first about clothes or to take us with her to go shopping.

The woman is at the mall so much, we joke she has her own parking spot there.

But, really, that singing duck spoke to her clearer than we ever did. :LOL
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#22 of 43 Old 09-16-2005, 07:23 PM
 
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And geesh way to make me sound like a wench - I'd like them to buy toys that we won't throw away - not just "better toys".
WHOA, nelly, don't blame me for your (mis)interpretation!

I merely took your words and applied them to how I'd feel in the same situation!

:


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#23 of 43 Old 09-16-2005, 07:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My IRL friend came up with an idea - she told me to just rave about all the really great learning toys that MY MOTHER has been buying the kids and how much they love them. That will get her whole psycho competition vibe going and she'll have to compete on the same level. :LOL

And if that fails... it's on to having a duck do the talking.

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#24 of 43 Old 09-16-2005, 07:38 PM
 
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I have no problem telling people not to buy my child crap. In her birthday invites I sent a very nice letter stating:

"As many of you may know, we are a very natural family and we are trying to make our household as natural as possible. We limit the amount of toys and stuff our daughter has so that she is able to enjoy each item to it's fullest.
That being said, a gift is not required, just your presence is appreciated.
However, if you would still like to give our daughter a gift for her birthday, please get her either wood or cloth, non-battery operated toys. That way our natural family can keep as natural of a house as possible.
Thank you very much,
Our family"

No one was offended and no got her any plastic stuff. In fact, she got some awesome wood toys. You may have to give some pointers for good toy stores cause almost everyone called me asking where they should go cause they hadn't heard of having wood toys anymore.

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#25 of 43 Old 09-17-2005, 05:56 PM
 
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We are clear with our family that we are not into plastic, battery toys and they know that those toys will get played with for a bit while they are around and then they will get donated to a good cause (sent a big bag to Jackson, MISS. today). In some cases they still get him some cleap platic stuff to play with and we left him have it for a bit and then donate it. Otherwise, we are clear with people and they know the fate of toys we aren't into. There is nothing wrong with that. We also tell them not to curse or smoke around him, we tell then what he does and does not eat - he's our kid, we are paretns, seems obvious to me that this is totally within reason.

That said, we never direct people to specific toys but to genres (ie. wooden blocks, wooden trains, dress-ups, art supplies, books, etc). I don't feel comfortable saying - get him this (although it is abummer when they spend money on him and he doesn't even play with that stuff). We also reward people for getting him good topys - lots of positive feedback when we love it (like dh's grandparents who have found a wooden toy maker in their small town and they buy things from him for all the holidays and they are awesome!). Also, when people ask what he might like I try to talk to them about what interests him (ie. "A's really into his trains right now and loves to make art projects. He could also use something more exciting for the bath tub or some cotton pjs." or "A's really in love with wooden animals and 30+ piece puzzles - he won't play with his xxx anymore, but he does love marbles and anything he could do with them, etc).

Good luck!

We are huge toy purgers and it feels so good!

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#26 of 43 Old 09-18-2005, 06:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanx - lots of good advice here. I'm going to start planting the seeds and see how it goes...

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#27 of 43 Old 09-19-2005, 02:26 AM
 
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I think it's amazing that given do-it-for-you toys and use-your-imagination toys these kids are most often choosing the toys that they must "play" with.

Yea!!

I think following their lead, being open to their discoveries, playing with them we will find out exactly what they want.

I want to offer up some other ideas:
-making your own toys or encouraging grandparents and gift givers to do so
-finding free toys...ie acorns, branches to cut into blocks, seashells and gem stones
-refurbishing old toys from say secondhand stores
-gathering clothes, hats, purse boots things for a dress-up chest

My favorite gifts are those from the heart and not the wallet. My kids understand this and often give other children gifts they have made.

And I would also like to add that I don't believe that kids need much in the way of toys. They know how to play and play all day at the beach, in the backyard, in the bathtub-toys are not required to have fun.

Blessings.
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#28 of 43 Old 09-19-2005, 09:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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And I would also like to add that I don't believe that kids need much in the way of toys. They know how to play and play all day at the beach, in the backyard, in the bathtub-toys are not required to have fun.
ITA. And being toy clutter free feels sooooooooooooo good

Lovely ideas, thank you.

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#29 of 43 Old 09-20-2005, 02:55 AM
 
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My husband has a group of second cousins who all have something genetically amiss...They're all on social assistance and have very limited funds. They have taken to spoiling our dd with items they find at the second hand store. I have no problem with second hand stuff at all but they seem to always find the broken toys or clothes with holes in them. It's been three and a half months and I've literally gotten bags and bags of stuff. However, I'm honoured that they're choosing to spend the little money they have on our little baby. As "junkie" as a lot of this stuff can be, I'm hoping it will teach the little one a lesson in accepting gifts gracefully. Maybe the clothes can be used to teach her to sew (mend, darn, etc...) and we can fix the toys together??

On the other hand, my parents (mother, in particular) feel that they know best what to get the baby and are intent on spoiling her (no matter how many protests). I'm not as concerned about clutter as I am about the greed factor. I'm also against baby getting more for Christmas from Grandma & Grandpa than from Mum & Dad. Any advice on stopping truckloads of presents??
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#30 of 43 Old 09-20-2005, 12:39 PM
 
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Both sets of grandparents know how we feel about toys. We like toys that foster imagination. But that said we still have some Elmo stuff (plush ones) and some Dora figures that play w all the other figures in the figure box. A few will not hurt but the entire collection will. I think it cute when Dora plays w other little figures that DD has in there. They also ride the ponies she has too. My father named the ponies different names- like Tony Pony. But thats about it- let her make her own stories to go along w the people.

We have our play area set up w a kitchen (wooden that dh made last year), two low shelves (again dh made) w toys and dolls. When ever kids come over, they head immediatly to the basmt where this is set up. There is plenty of small animals figures, play food, trains, legos, play dough and babies to keep my dd busy for hours. The only thing- my dh says there is enough toys down there for 10 kids. He's right- we had a playdate w 9 kids and there was enough to go around. :LOL

But still we have gotten a small share of the light up and push a button toys that within days end up w good will etc. Sometimes on bdays she gets so much, she dosent even notice that it disapears after the party

I have heard many times from other parents- you have the most awesome toys. I say- we only have stuff that make the child play not the toy play for the child. Also since some people see what a set up we have, they shy away from buying more so we get more outfits, gift certificates, contributions to savings.

"The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly out distances us."
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