Thursday, January 28, 2010

Toys worth having for a LONG time

A lot of thought went into what were were going to bring in our suitcases to Maryland to live with for these first two months while our apartment is in storage.  A good amount of room was set aside for toys.  Toys are my sanity!  They are also a big investment.  So far we have been surviving well on what I was able to pack into our suitcases but tonight I got to thinking about what toys we own that stand out to me and why.  Most of them had one or more of the following qualities: 

Durability- something that doesn't break or come apart easily is a must for mommy's sanity and pocket book;
Creativity- has more than one use and allows the boys to use their imagination in different ways;
Longevity- I want a toy that we will go to again and again that also interest multiple age groups (me included).

Here is my list (what comes to mind right now) and suggestions on where to find them.  I would love to know what toys you have that fit one or more of the above qualities.  Please share!

  • Kid K'nex - don't confuse them with K'nex which is geared toward the older crowd with LOTS of tiny pieces (and are also pretty cool, we have the dinosaur set).   Kid K'nex is the younger brother.  They are bulkier, sturdier, and very versitile.   They stick together easily and aren't frustrating for Sam (3 yrs) to put together and take apart by himself.  There are a plethura of different kinds of sets, each with their own set of instructions.  They come with quirky creative pieces in addition to the standard pieces.  Elijah is notorious for making guns, swords and aliens; can you tell he is five?  Kid K'nex are great toys to get second hand because the are so durable.  I got most of my Kid K'nex at a consigment store or garage sales.  You can also find them at your local stores though the selection is very limited.  You can see more at Kid K'nex's website. (I am not familiar with the new blocks sets)
  • Fisherprice GeoTrax- If your boy loves trains these are totally the way to go (sorry Thomas wood trains, you don't even compare).  Again very durable with so many options.  You can make a different track every time you get it out.  The options are endless.  The electric trains are also really nice though they do take 6 (yes SIX) AAA batteries each.  Older kids 4+ can build their own tracks without help from mom (yay!) though I've found that building the track is actually a fun mental challenge.  GeoTrax can be a bit pricy but because they are so durable they are another toy that is excellent second hand.  Consignment stores are likely your best bet.  Also watch or for local sales.
  • Legos and Lego Duplo- depending on the age of your child these are a staple building block to have.  We are just getting into the standard sized legos and Elijah is eating them up (not literally, he is 5).  Legos call back to my own childhood and my sisters (10 and 12) are even still playing with the legos I grew up with.  Legos don't die! Plus the creative possibilites are endless!  Duplos are the bigger blocks for smaller hands but their size doesn't limit the creative possibilites.  New Lego sets are nice in that the come with instructions for the kids to study and follow.  You can also find patterns online.  Buying secondhand is the economical way to do it though you will find that legos maintain their value.  Garage sales are a good bet.  Always keep your eyes out for them, you will not regret it.
  • Wii- I know, I know... it's a video game system not a toy but right now it has saved me many a painful afternoon and it is something we enjoy playing.  Our family focuses on games that are multi-player and are active.  Many of the games teach sharing, turn taking, rules and mechanics of sports, thinking, team playing, etc... So maybe one paticular game doesn't fall under my list of qualities but the system itself is ingenious and not completely pointless fun.

Friday, January 22, 2010


I thought being in Limbo was a familiar feeling as we tredged through last year with job searches and graduation, but that had nothing on the limbo I am feeling now. 

Everything worked really smoothly to get us here to Maryland and I am ever so grateful for that.  Josh's job is paying for us to live in temporary housing while we work on getting into a house.  They have us covered for the first 60 days of room and board.  This is a pretty nice set up and is saving us money but has proven to come with some unforseen "costs".  We pulled up our roots in Colorado and because we are in temporary housing I have yet to be able to really put our roots back down.  It's an aweful feeling.  I don't know if, where or when to put the boys in preschool, I'm afraid I'm getting attached to our ward, I haven't changed my address with anyone (it's all just getting forwarded), I'm excited about our house but afraid to get too attached in case it doesn't end up working out, etc...  I'm pretty much just existing and living off of high calorie restaurant food.  Blehh!  I'm going to have to break down and stock the kitchen.

I kept saying if I could make it through graduation and the move all would be good.  Well, now I'm saying if I can make it through to the end of February...  I wonder what it will be next.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Could it really happen?

I've had a few questions about our house hunting process.  It is quite a rollar coaster!  Housing prices are quite a shock coming from Utah and Colorado.  We finally found a house we like and just recently got our contract ratified.  Inspections were done today and everything seems to be good (still waiting on the official report).  Next step is to get the appraisal done and we are also working around a silly FHA loan rule which supposedly won't be a problem come Feb 1.  Anyway, it all looks promising for closing the end of February.  I'm excited!

Here's a quick picture of the outside.  Hopfully I'll have reason to share some of the inside soon.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Valentine's Day is just around the corner...

It's hard to believe that January is soon to end and February is just around the corner.  Now's the time to start plotting and planning if you are going to be doing the 14 Days of Valentine's.  I've moved my Mother-in-law's Valentine's Day blog link back to the top.  Be sure to take a look.  There are some really fun and creative ideas on how to express your love to those around you.

Private Showing

The boys got a doorway puppet theater for Christmas and finally got the chance to try it out today.  They haven't quite figured out the whole storyline/conversation process.  Mostly it was just puppets popping up and making funny sounds and then disappearing again.  Elijah kept asking me what time it was and how to change the clock on the front to match the time.  I think it's a hit and look forward to many more private shows put on by the cutest boys I know.

First time on the Metro

Despite my dragging my feet, Josh got all of us out the door and onto the METRO for the first time on Saturday.  It was a bit too spontaneous for me but Josh was very determined and in the end I was happy that we all went.    It turned out to be a quick afternoon trip to the Museum of Natural History at the Mall that we all enjoyed and are sure to repeat soon.

My boys infront of two Giant Sloth skeletons.  I've heard of giant sloths but didn't realize the "giant" was ment in relation to humans.  Wow!

Sam wanted to take some pictures of a massive whale that was hanging from the ceiling.  While I was helping him I turned the camera and grabbed a shot of the two of us.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Alive and Well in Maryland

I thought I would have more spare time on my hands to finally catch up on my blog, but find that most of it is either spent researching houses on the internet or actually seeing them.  House hunting is a process! 

Josh and I made it safely to Maryland.  The move with surprisingly smooth.  The moving company got everything packed up and loaded on the truck without a hitch.  I was amazed how many boxes it took; they tagged 370 items including furniture.  There was a lot crammed into that little apartment.  Having someone else do the packing is certainly the way to do it.  I was able to clean the bathroom and the kitchen while they were packing.  By the time they were done loading everything up the apartment was clean.  Wahoo!

The only hitches in the whole process have been related to our apartment.  The first night it took us 30 + minutes of walking around to find our apartment.  Finding stairs to take us down to the second floor was a trick and the parking garage is a nice feature but we got lost thoroughly the first night. 

Josh had his first day of work on Tuesday.  Went out to get in the car and came back in a minute later and said the cars were gone.  I was shocked and didn't believe him and had to go see for myself.  Indeed our Sienna and our Prism were not where we had left them.  Talk about a pit in your stomach!  Josh scrounged to get a cab to work (he was late) and I was left to figure out how in the world to get our cars back.  The temp housing company was a lifesaver.  Turns out we had put the wrong parking passes in the windows  (they gave us two white and two green and didn't tell us which to use where) and our cars were towed.  They found out what company had towed our cars and an employee was even gracious enough to drive me to the boonies (lets say gheto/white trash area in the middle of nowhere) to get my cars.  The operation was a man sitting in his SUV on a gated lot full of 20+ cars.  He had a laptop in his car took my drivers licence and my credit card, took my thumb print twice and $420 then let me take my cars.  Insain!  The lady from Oakwood was a lifesaver!  Prayers are answered.

House hunting is a rollercoaster ride.  We've adjusted the area we are looking in.  I saw one yesterday that has a lot of potential and I'm going out to see more today.  If only I had a million dollars!

I'm missing my boys.  I am grateful that we were able to leave them in Utah during the move.  Things would have been very difficult with them around (can you imagine if I had them on Tuesday with the car towing?).  I look forward to seeing them on Sunday.  It's cute to talk to them on the phone.  Most of the time I'm on the other end listening to them talk to someone else.  It melts my heart to hear their little voices on the on end of the line.  Man, they are cute buddies!  Sam is excited to get a house.  I'm afraid he will be disappointed when we get him here and we are living in a pretty minimal apartment but I'm sure working hard to find him a house.

Something else I'm very grateful for... GPS!  And I'm grateful we got two of them for Christmas.  I don't know how anyone can survive without them out here.  I am so turned around without the mountains.  It doesn't help either that all of the roads are curved and windy and that none of them are on the North/South East/West axis.  Everthing is either NW or NE or SE or SW and then they call them North or South when really they aren't.  Arrgh!  I'm going nuts!  It also doesn't help that the GPS map turns so you are always driving up.  I think I'm doomed to be GPS dependent as long as we live here.

Ramble... ramble.  I'll see if I can find my camera cord and put up some pictures of Josh's graduation.  The rest of my pictures are all on our portable hard drive and that will take some time to set up.  My goal is to do better with the blogging even though I'm being slow on the start.

Happy New Year, everyone (who hasn't given me up for dead and still checks my blog)!