Toys and Parental Vicarious Living

Sometimes when my daughter is napping and my husband isn’t home, I sneak down to the storage room in the basement and look at this…


Yes, down with the holiday decor, golf clubs, and water heater is my…I mean my daughter’s American Girl doll. I ordered it when she was three months old.

I always wanted an American Girl doll. I definitely wasn’t deprived as a child, but never had one. Mom and Dad cringed at the price tags, and who could blame them? Let’s get real here, American Girl products are insanely over-priced. Bitty Baby’s crib costs more than my daughter’s actual crib. I remember flipping through the catalog longingly, drooling over each page.

Just like a junky fighting an addiction, I had to have one (I mean, for my daughter) even if it meant surviving on bread and water for months and stealing car speakers to sell on the black market. Obviously I’m kidding about that last part, but honestly, I do prefer to spend a little more on a quality toy that will last for years to come rather than shower her with a ton of gifts.

The American Girl doll and her accessories are labeled “ages 8 and above.” This means, we have something like a mere 2,300 days until we can play with her, but who is counting? Realistically I plan to give the doll to my daughter when she is three.

Are there any toys you purchased for “your child” that you really purchased for yourself?

In My House

Childhood Toys and the Creepy Monkey

Passing our own beloved childhood toys down to our little ones is one of the great joys of parenting. I have kept my Cabbage Patch and a huge tote of Barbie dolls for my girl, all safely stowed away at my parents’ house.

Over Thanksgiving weekend at my mother-in-law’s house, I learned my husband has a few special toys as well, including… wait for it… THIS!


This monkey doll is the scariest thing ever. I swear there has to be at least one 1980s horror movie featuring this monstrosity as the main character.

This doll was so coveted by my husband and his sister that the bottom of the monkey’s feet have child’s writing in Sharpie spelling out “Nathan.”

This monkey gives me nightmares, but my girl loves it. She carried it around like a baby. I was delighted that the monkey stayed at my husband’s childhood home and did not find its way into a suitcase to journey the nine hours to our own home.


What toys from your childhood have you passed down to your little ones?


Chairs Are NOT for Standing

My brother and sister-in-law gave my daughter this adorable interactive chair for her first birthday. My brother and I promptly named the chair Ethel, which is what Jack Black’s character in Saving Silverman calls his easy chair. “Ol’ Ethel and I, we’ve been through a lot of games together.” Bear with me; we love that movie.


(Image from

It’s great and she loves it. Best of all, it also features an “off” button when you can’t bear to hear the hit single “Froggy Goes Splish Splash” once more.

However, this is often how my girl chooses to use the chair.


Yes, that’s one foot on the chair, one foot in the air, one hand on the armrest of the couch, and one hand on her bottle. This leads to us repeating in a firm tone that “chairs are for sitting, not for standing.” The other night it also lead to my husband banishing Ethel to the hall closet for two hours. It is a challenge to effectively discipline a one-year-old. She doesn’t comprehend that standing on Ethel is dangerous, and it is so, so difficult to keep a straight face when she stands on the chair and waves and smiles at us.

What toddler-disciplining challenges have you faced? Do you have any advice on what works and what doesn’t?

In My House

My Top 10 List: My Favorite 1980s Toys

Happy Thursday, everyone. Let’s hop in our time machines and go back to when big hair and bright colors reigned supreme. Yes, I’m talking about the 1980s. Since I was only a wee child in that stellar decade, here are some of my favorite toys. Some of these probably drift into the early 1990s because I definitely played with dolls longer than what would be considered normal. Do you remember any of these?


10: Lady Lovely Locks: Lady Lovely Locks and her friends Maiden Fair Hair and Maiden Curly Crown live in an enchanted forest inhabited by magical creatures. The dolls came with animal clips that were essentially a colored hair extension to liven up their already massive mane of fake doll hair.

9: Quints: As the name implies, Quints were five tiny little dolls that came with five of everything, each with a signature color: pink, blue, yellow, green, and purple. Although because of my questionable mothering skills, my Quints quickly became just Quads after my cousins and I spent Easter Sunday hiding the Quints instead of Easter eggs resulting in the loss of the yellow Quint.


8: Magic Nursery: This doll came with a packet that dissolved in water to reveal the gender, weight, and other stats of the baby. Always a sucker for the element of surprise, this was an absolutely favorite for me.

7: Legos: This one is basic but needs to be on the list because my brother and I spent TONS of time playing with them.

6: Barbie: Tried and true, this woman has seen (and done) it all.


5: My Little Pony: No 1980s toy list would be complete without this staple.


4: Lisa Frank Items: Though not technically a toy, I put this one on the list because I loved anything and everything Lisa Frank. I don’t know what the woman was smoking, but I was eating up the “artwork” she was cranking out. I remember my pencil box for kindergarten featured her classic painting of two neon-colored unicorns kissing. Those memories don’t fade easily.

3: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Just so this list isn’t all pastel-colored dolls (though they were clearly my favorite), I had to include my boys in the half-shell. My brother and I spent many a rainy afternoon helping Barbie set up her house perfectly (me) only to watch the turtles toilet-paper her living room (him).

2: Cabbage Patch: A total classic. Most women I know who were born in the 1980s still have their Cabbage Patches and I am not exception. Rory Duncan (don’t you love those birth-certificate names?) is still safely at my parents’ house waiting for when my actual human baby is old enough to play with him without destroying him.

1: She-Ra Princess of Power: For a long time I thought He-Man was her boyfriend, but he’s actually her brother-ew. Still, She-Ra and her entourage of gorgeous, butt-kicking friends occupied my time through most of 1988.

(All images from