Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Post-Christmas wrap post

(Editorial note: please stop to admire my careful wordsmithery before proceeding. That's two devices in three words in a four word title: the post-post repetition, and the wrap as in gift wrap/it's a wrap pun. What, you don't love it? Sheesh, you people are hard to please!)

Ahem, well then, on with the show. Without further ado, I'm pleased to present to you this round-up of the Gifts of 2006.

The Theme of the Year award goes to Pixar’s Cars movie. Between the two boys, they got maybe ten or a dozen of the cars characters, including duplicate Lightings and Maters; the Mack playset; the movie; a set of board books; the deck of Uno cards; and a toothbrush each. Close second is the Wiggles, making an appearance in a Memory card game, two DVDs, and two board books, including one with a surprisingly un-annoying digital music player that makes a good toddler-friendly impersonation of Mommy’s iPod.

The If I have to play another round of Candyland I’ll swallow this cyanide pill award goes to Cariboo and Uno. While Cariboo is still a little bit simplistic, it’s a game the boys can play with each other – and without parental engagement. They actually prefer just using the key to open the boxes and hunt for balls, bypassing the rules entirely, but so long as they are playing with each other instead of torturing the dog, we all win. And in Uno I have finally found a game that I could sit for hours and play with Tristan. He needs to be prompted a bit, but can play independently without showing me his cards. We are well on our way to family game nights!

The Have I told you how much I love my mother award goes to – surprise! – my mother, who gave me a small package with a gift tag that read, ‘To Danielle, with love and admiration. From Mom.’ Inside was a small silver key chain, inscribed with the word “mothership”. She printed out the blog banner and brought it to the engraver to duplicate the font – and they did a damn fine approximation. Does my mom rock or what?

The Ohhh, I love a good deal award goes to the Bob the Builder Electronic Workshop. We were in WalMart when I saw a bunch of these stacked on a skid in the toy section. They were reasonably priced at $14.97, so I picked one up for Noah, my two-year-old nephew who has recently become a Bob devotee. The boys were so fascinated by the box that Beloved went out that night and picked up a second one for Simon. A few weeks later, we were in our favourite specialty toy store and they had the same set - for $54.99!!

The Indoctrinate them while they’re young award goes to the 65-piece kitchen set for Simon. He calls it his ‘tea set’ and loves it. He was especially excited by the ‘flipper flopper’, which Tristan precociously informed him was called a spatula. (How he knows from spatulas is beyond me.) I’m hoping to have Simon cooking dinner by the time he’s in grade school.

The I know you better than you know yourself award goes to Beloved, who got me the Penguin Book of Popular Canadian Quotations (he specifically said he thought it would make for good blog fodder), and the first season of the Muppet Show and Sesame Street Old School (1969-1974) on DVD. We've recently discovered old Sesame Street clips on YouTube, and have spent hours watching them. Ironically, the boys' very favourite clip from YouTube is the first sketch on the first episode of the Muppet Show DVD.

The How to flummox the staff of Future Shop award goes to me for trying to find tapes on December 24 to go with Tristan’s portable cassette player. The first clerk I asked had no idea what I was talking about and sent me toward the VHS cassettes. The next two clerks hemmed and hawed and said they didn’t think they carried that kind (insert tone of disdain here) of thing. I finally found them in the car audio section. Sheesh, it’s not like I was looking for laser discs or 8-track tapes, for goodness sake. I bought bulk, just in case.

The Most Annoying Toy award goes to Mr Bucket. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, Simon has developed a peculiar obsession with Mr Bucket, going into paroxysm of excitement every time he spotted it in a flyer or catalogue. We have no idea why, even going so far as to ask the caregiver if she has this game. She does not. Simon has simply become fixated on this particular toy for some reason. So of course, we bought it for him for Christmas. And he hates it. Well, that’s not entirely true. Mostly, he’s afraid of the noise it makes. Unfortunately, he forgets about every three hours that he hates it, and takes it out of the box, plays with it for 90 seconds, and puts it back.

The No really, I bought it for the kids award goes to two winners this year: Marble Run and Superfort. It’s a natural progression from the hours I’m willing to spend building intricate and looping wooden train tracks to building intricate and looping marble runs and really fun and funky forts. Bonus marks to Cranium, makers of Superfort: after watching me just once, Tristan is already building his own forts. I am highly impressed! Now, could somebody please add an expansion pack for Marble Run to my Tristan’s birthday wish list?

On a less commercial note, the Awwwwww award goes to Simon, who loved everything he got. Everything! Every time he opened a gift, it was the best gift ever. Not once did he ask for more presents, even when the festivities paused to regroup or welcome a late arriving guest.

And finally, the Big brother award goes to Tristan, who has made my jaw drop open more than once in the past few days with the tenderness he has shown in helping Simon open stuck toys, reach high shelves and find lost toys. There has also been plenty of bickering and sniping, but I've been so impressed with Tristan's behaviour that it merits a mention.

In retrospect, it was a blissful, bountiful Christmas. I've said it before: I'm a lucky girl!

Now I've got two preschoolers and my mother's birthday coming up in the next ten weeks. Any recommendations for more great gifts?

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