Sunday, November 20, 2011

Free Your Family from Holiday Frenzy -Part 2

To see information about this toy for both your child and his pet, see below.

WHAT: New way to reduce holiday chaos surrounding toys
DOES: Reduces anger, frustration, toy breakage, boo-boos and big accidents, arguments, and other things that ruin holidays.
INVEST: Your time (medium-expensive $$)
TOOLS: Family Fix-it

(See 2 other toys below)  Here is the 2nd part of surviving holiday-related toy frenzy. First article was out yesterday.
Tactic  #2: SLOW DOWN

We have the nicest downstairs neighbors.  My boys have the heaviest feet in the nation but they rarely ever complain. However, after a few months of our gerbils rolling around the kitchen in their exercise balls on top of the heavy walking and occasional jumping and running and sometimes bursts of wakefulness and energy in the early AM hours, it was time to talk to us.  They did so with a lovely note and bubble gum.  Seriously, I'm not making this up.  They are that nice.  I  hadn't realized that the gerbil ball rolling would bother them but after they asked about it a ball rolling with a thump (ball hits wall), I realized that I had to do something and so I bought the Hamtrac.

For just $13, I was able to buy a great way to minimize noise, minimize clean up, and still provide good exercise for my son's gerbils- best of all no bumping against walls!  I never thought about how a gerbil might not like bumping into a wall while in a ball.  BTW, gerbils need good exercise especially one of our gerbils who won't run on the wheel because it's not his style.   I was so happy to finally have an excuse to buy the tracks for Number 1's gerbils.

But when we got our Hamtrac, I ran into a problem.  One of the connectors to the track wasn't fitting in so smoothly.  I should have just taken a step back and figured out another way but I was impatient.  Number 1 was anxious to try it and so was I and so I started jamming it and ended up breaking a connector piece on the other side of the track. Not smart.

While I do expect things to go more smoothly, I should know better.  Once in a while, we all get something not quite perfect but still not a big deal. I should have just taken a deep breath and just used my brain.  It's not like this track costs $113 dollars. No, it only cost $13 dollars and I have liked everything we have that was made by Superpet.  But I couldn't slow down and so I broke it and while I was still mad, I wrote a huffy email to the company asking for a new Hamtrac.

WHAT: Run-About Hamtrac  (see above)
DOES: Connecting tracks for small animal exercise balls;  Reduces noise and clean-up; Possibly adds to animal's comfort; Gives child opportunity to create and build
TOOLS: Think Like a Scientist/Engineer, More Make-Believe Please, Fertilize Responsibility and Courtesy

But guess what?  They sent me a new one, free-of-charge and no, I didn't tell them I was a toy reviewer!  Wow.  However, prior to getting the new one, Number 1 took the Hamtrac and changed it from an oval into a square shape (said he learned it on Cyberchase).  Not only did he save us space by changing the shape but not the perimeter but his new configuration made it so that the missing connector piece became less noticeable.  Thus I gave away my Hamtrac to another gerbil owner and friend in our building and we have decided that on occasion, we'll put her tracks and our tracks together to make one big track.  Now that would be really cool!  Number 1 can't wait. And I love the message that I'm sending to the kids. What is the point of keeping the track when our track is pretty functional?

Upon writing this post, I discovered yet another ball track that looked just as fun (and cheaper at $9.99!)  Seeing it helped me figure out that I could make a circular track with the pieces I already had if I wanted only one ball running on a track.  Why couldn't I think of this myself?  Oh I better slow down some more,  I'm missing everything!  And that is EXACTLY what I want to avoid during the holiday season.

Click below for some more articles I found about some things that can happen after receiving lots of toys for the holidays.  Parents Toolshop articleExaminer article

Got lucky on craigslist one day this year.  I took this picture to remind myself of this lucky find but also to show those lovely children of mine how much work can be involved to make sure they have good clean affordable toys.


Suggestion only; it has not been reviewed yet but this letter is too cute and so I had to send it.

WHAT: Lego Toys 'R Us Truck
DOES: Build a truck with wheels that roll and doors that open where minifigures deliver and receive toys for stocking on shelves (shelves and toy store not included)
INVEST: $49.99 (sometimes you can get lucky and find this on sale)
TOOLS: Think Like a Scientist/Engineer, Family Fix-it

I wrote to Santa to help me zap away holiday-inspired ungratefulness: 

Dear Santa, 

Salutations.  I think I have been a good girl this year.  I actually started a new website to help other parents and teachers use toys as tools to help their children to develop skills they seek and nurture talents that fulfill them.  This year, I am a little worried that my kids haven't quite grasped the meaning of how much work goes into making, shipping, and buying a toy.  

So, can you send us the Lego Toys 'R Us truck which costs around $24.99 when you find it on sale at Toys 'R Us, (who knows it may go down more)?  It' may be silly but I need to show Number 1 and Number 2 that toys do not fall from the sky (unless you dropped one by accident).   I would like to give them a visual 3D representation of real-life activity that shows that toys come in a truck to a toy store and real people (the minifigures) must unload them, register them into their computer system to account for all of them, and then stock them on the shelves neatly.  

I will also use my existing lego blocks and minifigures (see above) to fill in the gaps of this story.   I will also show my kids that people buy these toys with money that they direct by using a plastic card and then take it home in a car or a bus or a train.  I promise to encourage the building of a toy factory so that they understand that a toy must be made by humans and machines before it is to be loaded onto the truck.   If the Toys 'R Us truck is out of stock in your workshop, then could you give me the yellow Lego truck instead? Since we have Legos at home, I would be happy with that but I am eyeing the Toys 'R Us truck because for this particular lesson, my kids will make easier associations with a store that is in their neighborhood.

Your "favorite?" toy blogger (Mom to Number 1 and Number 2)

P.S. I was extra good when I saved money and bought these used legos, wasn't I?  See how much I got for just $25?  Aren't you proud of me?  They were kind of dirty and so I washed all of them and it took forever.  But it was worth it. 

By the way, the above is just a letter and not a review.  I do not own this (yet) but it's been an idea brewing in my head and so I'd throw it out there since many shoppers are shopping on foot this week and this could be a great in-store buy if you are wanting to teach them about how toys come to each child's home aside from Santa's deliveries.  

Disclosure statement: Toys are Tools has not been compensated in any fashion by the manufacturer or retailer of any mentioned products or websites for the publication of this post .  However, the letter is going out in the mail to Santa tomorrow as I'm sure he'll read it.

* The picture from yesterday's post is of the Hamtrac but it was altered to give it a "painted" effect just because I thought it looked nice.

This post is dedicated to toy makers and retailers, truck drivers who deliver toys, toy publicists and advertisers, UPS and USPS and other carriers, and all the toy store employees who deal with the everyday madness until January (sorry if I left anyone else out).   As a child who grew up with restaurateur parents and so could never do Mother's Day on Mother's Day, I wish all of you great quality time spent with your own families this holiday season.

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