boys toys

 Over the past few weeks and months Theo has shown a greater interest in I'd say typical boy toys and activities. Since he was born we've never really pushed any gender specific toys on him, and have just provided what he seems to show an interest in. Notably that was and is trains, and whilst that may seem like a typical boy thing to be interested in, I remember playing with trains and cars when I was young. He's also got a toy till, kitchen, pushchair and dolls house for the more stereotype 'girls' toys (not that it really matters at all!)

But recently he's started to get really into guns, swords and knifes. I don't think he has a grasp on the real concept of killing or dying, even if he did proclaim rather loudly on our flight to Barcelona, that when we fly over the water we all might die...

We don't let him watch aggressive cartoons, when he watched a few Spiderman episodes I found them too violent so that was stopped fairly sharpish and even though we bought him an action man from a car boot sale we tried to make him as passive as possible! Theo likes us to talk to him through Action Man, and listens to everything he says so its a good way to try and encourage good behaviour (such as helping action man pick up some litter and put it in the bin) and so far he hasn't really started to let action man live up to his name.

So I was sort of baffled as to where all the gun loving came from?! Whilst on holiday in the parks he would point his finger at other children and say 'bang bang' and always wants to play with gun shaped objects. Now from my standpoint I do not like guns or violence at all, and I won't be buying him any guns but it's not something I can really stop being imagined. I know that when I was little my friends older brothers always played 'army', running around the garden with imaginary machine guns (I still haven't met a girl who can make a convincing machine gun noise!) and when speaking to Rob about it he used to do the same, and they've all turned out to be normal, gentle people.

So my question is, is it just something that boys (and maybe girls?) are interested in, no matter what you try and do to stop it? Will Theo still run around with his friends when he's older playing army and carrying imaginary weapons, regardless of whether I buy him a toy gun or not? Does it only get worse as they get older, and the gender specific toys are aimed at him are around guns? I asked Rob if he remembers his parents ever telling him about the morals of shooting other people, what killing people means or what guns can really do, and he said no he doesn't specifically remember. Whether it happened when he was younger and he just grew up subconsciously knowing what it all meant or just that his parents trusted that he'd know it was just a game.

Because that's the thing, if I forbid him from playing and acting out his imagination would it just put more intrigue on real guns as objects, like a forbidden fruit. Is it important to let your children just be free to play what they want? I mean I can remember creating and acting out all sorts of games when I was little, I even married my cousin and walked down the aisle with a baby in my arms and I'm pretty sure that hasn't influenced my adult decision making.

Is there too much pressure to censor our children's free play and imaginations? 



boys toys

 Over the past few weeks and months Theo has shown a greater interest in I'd say typical boy toys and activities. Since he was born we've never really pushed any gender specific toys on him, and have just provided what he seems to show an interest in. Notably that was and is trains, and whilst that may seem like a typical boy thing to be interested in, I remember playing with trains and cars when I was young. He's also got a toy till, kitchen, pushchair and dolls house for the more stereotype 'girls' toys (not that it really matters at all!)

But recently he's started to get really into guns, swords and knifes. I don't think he has a grasp on the real concept of killing or dying, even if he did proclaim rather loudly on our flight to Barcelona, that when we fly over the water we all might die...

We don't let him watch aggressive cartoons, when he watched a few Spiderman episodes I found them too violent so that was stopped fairly sharpish and even though we bought him an action man from a car boot sale we tried to make him as passive as possible! Theo likes us to talk to him through Action Man, and listens to everything he says so its a good way to try and encourage good behaviour (such as helping action man pick up some litter and put it in the bin) and so far he hasn't really started to let action man live up to his name.

So I was sort of baffled as to where all the gun loving came from?! Whilst on holiday in the parks he would point his finger at other children and say 'bang bang' and always wants to play with gun shaped objects. Now from my standpoint I do not like guns or violence at all, and I won't be buying him any guns but it's not something I can really stop being imagined. I know that when I was little my friends older brothers always played 'army', running around the garden with imaginary machine guns (I still haven't met a girl who can make a convincing machine gun noise!) and when speaking to Rob about it he used to do the same, and they've all turned out to be normal, gentle people.

So my question is, is it just something that boys (and maybe girls?) are interested in, no matter what you try and do to stop it? Will Theo still run around with his friends when he's older playing army and carrying imaginary weapons, regardless of whether I buy him a toy gun or not? Does it only get worse as they get older, and the gender specific toys are aimed at him are around guns? I asked Rob if he remembers his parents ever telling him about the morals of shooting other people, what killing people means or what guns can really do, and he said no he doesn't specifically remember. Whether it happened when he was younger and he just grew up subconsciously knowing what it all meant or just that his parents trusted that he'd know it was just a game.

Because that's the thing, if I forbid him from playing and acting out his imagination would it just put more intrigue on real guns as objects, like a forbidden fruit. Is it important to let your children just be free to play what they want? I mean I can remember creating and acting out all sorts of games when I was little, I even married my cousin and walked down the aisle with a baby in my arms and I'm pretty sure that hasn't influenced my adult decision making.

Is there too much pressure to censor our children's free play and imaginations? 



thomas

You all must know by now that Theo has a serious Thomas obsession that doesn't seem to be wavering anytime soon. Everyday we either play with his trains, read Thomas stories or watch something Thomas related. Recently he discovered review videos on youtube, or videos that other children have made and he loves them. I find it a bit strange, him sitting watching other children play with the toys you love or watching grown men review all sorts of different sets. Weirdo.

Out train collection is pretty good and most of it has been free or cost very little; a mix of wooden Brio found at nearly new sales or hand-me-downs, die-cast Thomas figures picked up from street stalls or charity shops (some even from 1981!) and new plastic style set found on the street with a battery powered Thomas and various other Thomas trains bought as gifts or bribes...mainly bribes.

In the lead up to the wedding we were both obviously pretty busy and perhaps couldn't give Theo as much attention as we usually do (planning a wedding with a two and a half year old is hard!) and when I needed to get on with something I couldn't really sit and build an elaborate brio track and play with him like I usually do. I felt guilty about it, and what do you do when you feel guilty, well of course you throw a toy at him in the hopes it keeps him occupied! We looked around and found a large range of boys toys available from Argos like this Thomas the Tank Engine train set (would obviously be a good toy for a girl too!) 


We chose this set because it had a fun battery powered Thomas with different voices and phrases. Theo also loves Cranky and we don't own one yet so I thought he'd enjoy playing with him too. The train goes round the track and stops at the different points according to which button you press on the top. It's pretty simple and easy to use and Theo picked it up straight away. He enjoyed pushing Thomas around as well as watching his chuff around on his own. The track is pretty simple to put together, but I'm not sure Theo could do it himself in the right order, and obviously you can'y really make your own design like you can with wooden sets which he does like to do. 


Theo does enjoy playing with the set, and he likes talking along with the voices, taking the cargo from the docks to the sheds etc. The only thing I would say about sets like this is that they obviously don't involve the same amount of imagination or input from the child when playing. When Theo plays with his other trains he likes to reenact stories, have conversations with the different trains and of course builds his own tracks. I find that with most modern toys really they come with all these different pre-loaded functions and activities which are good to some extent to encourage role playing or to direct play, but I don't think they should ever take away the most important aspect of playing which is engaging the child's imagination. Some times I think the best toys are ones that are inanimate until they are picked up and brought to life by a child. That being said I'm sure this track with be played with quite a bit, and makes a good addition to our pretty extensive collection! 

thomas

You all must know by now that Theo has a serious Thomas obsession that doesn't seem to be wavering anytime soon. Everyday we either play with his trains, read Thomas stories or watch something Thomas related. Recently he discovered review videos on youtube, or videos that other children have made and he loves them. I find it a bit strange, him sitting watching other children play with the toys you love or watching grown men review all sorts of different sets. Weirdo.

Out train collection is pretty good and most of it has been free or cost very little; a mix of wooden Brio found at nearly new sales or hand-me-downs, die-cast Thomas figures picked up from street stalls or charity shops (some even from 1981!) and new plastic style set found on the street with a battery powered Thomas and various other Thomas trains bought as gifts or bribes...mainly bribes.

In the lead up to the wedding we were both obviously pretty busy and perhaps couldn't give Theo as much attention as we usually do (planning a wedding with a two and a half year old is hard!) and when I needed to get on with something I couldn't really sit and build an elaborate brio track and play with him like I usually do. I felt guilty about it, and what do you do when you feel guilty, well of course you throw a toy at him in the hopes it keeps him occupied! We looked around and found a large range of boys toys available from Argos like this Thomas the Tank Engine train set (would obviously be a good toy for a girl too!) 


We chose this set because it had a fun battery powered Thomas with different voices and phrases. Theo also loves Cranky and we don't own one yet so I thought he'd enjoy playing with him too. The train goes round the track and stops at the different points according to which button you press on the top. It's pretty simple and easy to use and Theo picked it up straight away. He enjoyed pushing Thomas around as well as watching his chuff around on his own. The track is pretty simple to put together, but I'm not sure Theo could do it himself in the right order, and obviously you can'y really make your own design like you can with wooden sets which he does like to do. 


Theo does enjoy playing with the set, and he likes talking along with the voices, taking the cargo from the docks to the sheds etc. The only thing I would say about sets like this is that they obviously don't involve the same amount of imagination or input from the child when playing. When Theo plays with his other trains he likes to reenact stories, have conversations with the different trains and of course builds his own tracks. I find that with most modern toys really they come with all these different pre-loaded functions and activities which are good to some extent to encourage role playing or to direct play, but I don't think they should ever take away the most important aspect of playing which is engaging the child's imagination. Some times I think the best toys are ones that are inanimate until they are picked up and brought to life by a child. That being said I'm sure this track with be played with quite a bit, and makes a good addition to our pretty extensive collection! 

the alphabet

I mentioned before that Theo has suddenly had a sort of lightbulb moment and the alphabet has started making sense to him, or at least letters have. He doesn't know the letters in order, but he knows pretty much all of them now without too much confusion! I'm not claiming him to be a genius, just probably learning things at the normal rate, but it still impresses me that he can recognise them all and tell me what they are and how they sound.

I can't remember when we started really trying to teach him to letters (to be honest before I had Theo I just assumed they learnt the alphabet and numbers at school...how wrong I was!) so I thought I would share a few of the things we have found fun and useful.

First off books. We've got a few nice books to do with the alphabet but these two are probably my favourite!



The first is Alphabet by Alain Gree which was a lovely birthday present from his god father. I just love the illustrations so much and some pages have little alliteration rhymes and others just lots of picutres. Theo's favourite at the moment is 'e' because it has an excellent picture of a train engine. What's even better about this book is that the paper cover doubles up as an Alphabet poster!


The second book probably doesn't need much introduction, as I'm sure everyone knows a little Dr. Seuss. But we love this alphabet book too! The book reads more like a story, with a page per letter some describing them as big and little letters, with tongue twisters and lots and lots of alliterations in true Suess style! There are weird and wonderful creatures along the way and I'd say this book is great for teaching the order of the alphabet.


Next we have a letter puzzle, and since Theo is puzzle mad we complete this at least twice a day! My mum bought it for Theo for Christmas from John Lewis I believe? We really love it! The letters are big and chunky and he has to figure which way up and round they go in the right holes, we then look at the pictures, or I'll ask him what letter the snake is etc, it's pretty fun!

We also have letters in the bath, which we play little games with...


We have a little wash mit monster with a mouth, so we made up a game where the monster likes to eat letters. So it asks Theo for a letter and if he picks the right one then the monster will eat it right up, but if its the wrong one he will spit it out and say yuk not that one...the other one! It's safe to say Theo likes this game quite a lot!

Finally of course there are alphabet apps. There are a few we've used but none come close to the genius that is Endless Alphabet.



First you can select the word from the gallery by scrolling through, with new words added daily. The word appears but then the letters are jumbled up by a stampede of monsters. You then drag each letter do its right place, and when doing so the letter with make the phonic sounds, when dropped into the correct place it will tell you what letter is. When the word is complete there is then a little animation that describes what the word means. For an app that is free we think it's amazing! I can see it helping Theo learn his letters, phonics, how to spell and the meanings of words.

Anyway those are our favourite alphabet related toys and books! Hope you enjoy them too! 

the alphabet

I mentioned before that Theo has suddenly had a sort of lightbulb moment and the alphabet has started making sense to him, or at least letters have. He doesn't know the letters in order, but he knows pretty much all of them now without too much confusion! I'm not claiming him to be a genius, just probably learning things at the normal rate, but it still impresses me that he can recognise them all and tell me what they are and how they sound.

I can't remember when we started really trying to teach him to letters (to be honest before I had Theo I just assumed they learnt the alphabet and numbers at school...how wrong I was!) so I thought I would share a few of the things we have found fun and useful.

First off books. We've got a few nice books to do with the alphabet but these two are probably my favourite!



The first is Alphabet by Alain Gree which was a lovely birthday present from his god father. I just love the illustrations so much and some pages have little alliteration rhymes and others just lots of picutres. Theo's favourite at the moment is 'e' because it has an excellent picture of a train engine. What's even better about this book is that the paper cover doubles up as an Alphabet poster!


The second book probably doesn't need much introduction, as I'm sure everyone knows a little Dr. Seuss. But we love this alphabet book too! The book reads more like a story, with a page per letter some describing them as big and little letters, with tongue twisters and lots and lots of alliterations in true Suess style! There are weird and wonderful creatures along the way and I'd say this book is great for teaching the order of the alphabet.


Next we have a letter puzzle, and since Theo is puzzle mad we complete this at least twice a day! My mum bought it for Theo for Christmas from John Lewis I believe? We really love it! The letters are big and chunky and he has to figure which way up and round they go in the right holes, we then look at the pictures, or I'll ask him what letter the snake is etc, it's pretty fun!

We also have letters in the bath, which we play little games with...


We have a little wash mit monster with a mouth, so we made up a game where the monster likes to eat letters. So it asks Theo for a letter and if he picks the right one then the monster will eat it right up, but if its the wrong one he will spit it out and say yuk not that one...the other one! It's safe to say Theo likes this game quite a lot!

Finally of course there are alphabet apps. There are a few we've used but none come close to the genius that is Endless Alphabet.



First you can select the word from the gallery by scrolling through, with new words added daily. The word appears but then the letters are jumbled up by a stampede of monsters. You then drag each letter do its right place, and when doing so the letter with make the phonic sounds, when dropped into the correct place it will tell you what letter is. When the word is complete there is then a little animation that describes what the word means. For an app that is free we think it's amazing! I can see it helping Theo learn his letters, phonics, how to spell and the meanings of words.

Anyway those are our favourite alphabet related toys and books! Hope you enjoy them too! 

the 'c' word

can I say it, am I allowed? hmm...so I've been thinking a little about CHRISTMAS!

I know I know, it's only October, but since Theo is at an age where he can appreciate Christmas and the gifts he gets a little more, I've been thinking, searching and compiling a little wish list (and getting a little bit excited...sssh!). Obviously we're not going to everything on my wish list, just one or two, but it's nice to look at pretty things right? I think like last year we will just get him one or two 'main' presents, like a new toy, then perhaps I will get one nice print for his room and then rest would be art and craft supplies that we can use together to make and create things throughout the whole year. I don't want Christmas to be about going wild and spending loads of money (that we don't have!) on toys that are only going to get played with a few times, I want to get a few toys that I think will last a long time and get played with over and over.

1- Ingela P Arrhenius lion poster // 2- Ingela P Arrhenius plates // 3- Spaceboy apron // 4- le grand garage // 5- personalised Sarah Dyer illustration (T!) // 6- activity train // 7- crocodile puzzle // 8- Ingela P Arrhenius nesting dolls // 9- fisher price record player // 10- wooden camera // 11- alphabet print // 12- Space boy lunch bag // 13- Monster at work book by Sarah Dyer // 14- Rabbit night light

When we were in Berlin we stumbled across an incredible toy shop, full of beautiful wooden and traditional toys. If we'd had lots of money, and endless luggage space I could have bought so much, or at least sorted Christmas presents there and then! We did buy Theo a sweet metal spinning top, which he is obsessed with! So for now the internet will have to do and this is just the start of the search, I'm sure I will add lots over the next few months, but I thought I'd share a few bits that caught my eye! And I haven't even started on my wish list for clothes....

has anyone else started thinking about Christmas, or am I going a bit mad already?! 

the 'c' word

can I say it, am I allowed? hmm...so I've been thinking a little about CHRISTMAS!

I know I know, it's only October, but since Theo is at an age where he can appreciate Christmas and the gifts he gets a little more, I've been thinking, searching and compiling a little wish list (and getting a little bit excited...sssh!). Obviously we're not going to everything on my wish list, just one or two, but it's nice to look at pretty things right? I think like last year we will just get him one or two 'main' presents, like a new toy, then perhaps I will get one nice print for his room and then rest would be art and craft supplies that we can use together to make and create things throughout the whole year. I don't want Christmas to be about going wild and spending loads of money (that we don't have!) on toys that are only going to get played with a few times, I want to get a few toys that I think will last a long time and get played with over and over.

1- Ingela P Arrhenius lion poster // 2- Ingela P Arrhenius plates // 3- Spaceboy apron // 4- le grand garage // 5- personalised Sarah Dyer illustration (T!) // 6- activity train // 7- crocodile puzzle // 8- Ingela P Arrhenius nesting dolls // 9- fisher price record player // 10- wooden camera // 11- alphabet print // 12- Space boy lunch bag // 13- Monster at work book by Sarah Dyer // 14- Rabbit night light

When we were in Berlin we stumbled across an incredible toy shop, full of beautiful wooden and traditional toys. If we'd had lots of money, and endless luggage space I could have bought so much, or at least sorted Christmas presents there and then! We did buy Theo a sweet metal spinning top, which he is obsessed with! So for now the internet will have to do and this is just the start of the search, I'm sure I will add lots over the next few months, but I thought I'd share a few bits that caught my eye! And I haven't even started on my wish list for clothes....

has anyone else started thinking about Christmas, or am I going a bit mad already?! 

A Theo update


So I thought it was time for a little Theo update, the good and the bad. So I'll start with the bad!

He's not really that bad he's just changing and showing more that he's a toddler now and not a baby.  He's just testing the boundaries and learning new things, but it's a pretty testing tiring time for poor old mama!

Firstly he's becoming a lot more naughty and cheeky very quickly! He knows when he's doing something he shouldn't, and he looks at you in this way and waits. I say no and try and explain why he shouldn't do it, but then he continues to do the naughty thing, for example pulling the lamp cable on the bedside table, I carry on saying no, but then he just pulls it off the table and it smashes on the floor. He's just testing to see what he can get away with! I can't just keep picking him up and taking him away to try and stop him, because he'll just always try and go back and do the same thing, and I guess I want him to learn consequences to his actions, but boy it's frustrating!

This week he's discovered how to climb up onto the chairs. He's always been quite a climber, trying to get his leg up onto every surface, but this week he's finally worked out how to get onto another level. He pulls the table chairs out, pulls himself up onto the seat, then stands on the chair. And it all happens within seconds!


He then decided he could climb on every other chair in the house too! And proceeded to throw everything off the shelf. We lift him down and tell him no, but sometimes there's just no stopping him.

And that's another story, if you do stop him doing something he wants to do, he definitely tells you about it. He started to show signs of little tantrums, throwing himself on the floor, doing bratty crying and even sometimes hitting us. I'm scared that it's only going to get worse! I need a toddler manual I think, I have no idea what I'm doing really, and it seems like I'm just constantly saying no all day long. Any tips?!

But anyway, he's not doing anything that any other active, inquisitive little 13 month old wouldn't do, it just means I've got my hands full with this little boy!


But onto the good! As I mentioned before Theo is showing his affection towards us a lot more. He now gives me kisses and cuddles ALL day long, holding out his little arms for a cuddle! He also greets Rob in the sweetest way when he comes home from work! Rob will kneel down with him arms open, and Theo will walk towards him with his arms open too, and then he gives him a massive hug and a kiss, but of course he then has to come and give me a kiss, as he doesn't like anyone to be left out! I love it so much!

When I was at my Mums house last week he found a little dog cuddly toy and carried it round with him, we were making woofing noises, which he then copied. Every time that he now sees a dog he starts making that noise again! I keep on being amazed at how good he is at remembering objects and sound associations. Same with trains, he goes woo-woo! On that note every time he sees a cat he says aaaalll-ma, as though every cat is called Alma, or that the name for cats is Alma. It's pretty funny!


He's also started to show his use of logic more and more, and over the last few weeks I've definitely seen his skills improve. He seems to be getting the hang of shape sorters, and claps himself when he gets the shape in the right hole! I love it!


I hope this doesn't come across as 'oh look how amazing my baby is', it's not meant to be showing off, but all of these things just amaze me and make me proud to see him learn and progress, and I guess this is my way of recording these moments.

So lastly I just wanted to share how big he's getting! He's no baby anymore! We found this pretty cool workbench in a charity shop for £3.50 (bargain!) and thought we should buy it for him. I'm not really into pushing very strong gender toys on children, and I'd be as happy if Theo was playing with a toy pram or doll, (he does love brushing his own hair with my hairbrush too) but thought this was too awesome to pass up!


He's already started acting like a proper man, going to his workbench and banging away needlessly on bits of wood...that's what men do right?

I think that's about it! He is such a funny little one, that I can't stay mad at him when he is naughty! Especially with all the kisses...

A Theo update


So I thought it was time for a little Theo update, the good and the bad. So I'll start with the bad!

He's not really that bad he's just changing and showing more that he's a toddler now and not a baby.  He's just testing the boundaries and learning new things, but it's a pretty testing tiring time for poor old mama!

Firstly he's becoming a lot more naughty and cheeky very quickly! He knows when he's doing something he shouldn't, and he looks at you in this way and waits. I say no and try and explain why he shouldn't do it, but then he continues to do the naughty thing, for example pulling the lamp cable on the bedside table, I carry on saying no, but then he just pulls it off the table and it smashes on the floor. He's just testing to see what he can get away with! I can't just keep picking him up and taking him away to try and stop him, because he'll just always try and go back and do the same thing, and I guess I want him to learn consequences to his actions, but boy it's frustrating!

This week he's discovered how to climb up onto the chairs. He's always been quite a climber, trying to get his leg up onto every surface, but this week he's finally worked out how to get onto another level. He pulls the table chairs out, pulls himself up onto the seat, then stands on the chair. And it all happens within seconds!


He then decided he could climb on every other chair in the house too! And proceeded to throw everything off the shelf. We lift him down and tell him no, but sometimes there's just no stopping him.

And that's another story, if you do stop him doing something he wants to do, he definitely tells you about it. He started to show signs of little tantrums, throwing himself on the floor, doing bratty crying and even sometimes hitting us. I'm scared that it's only going to get worse! I need a toddler manual I think, I have no idea what I'm doing really, and it seems like I'm just constantly saying no all day long. Any tips?!

But anyway, he's not doing anything that any other active, inquisitive little 13 month old wouldn't do, it just means I've got my hands full with this little boy!


But onto the good! As I mentioned before Theo is showing his affection towards us a lot more. He now gives me kisses and cuddles ALL day long, holding out his little arms for a cuddle! He also greets Rob in the sweetest way when he comes home from work! Rob will kneel down with him arms open, and Theo will walk towards him with his arms open too, and then he gives him a massive hug and a kiss, but of course he then has to come and give me a kiss, as he doesn't like anyone to be left out! I love it so much!

When I was at my Mums house last week he found a little dog cuddly toy and carried it round with him, we were making woofing noises, which he then copied. Every time that he now sees a dog he starts making that noise again! I keep on being amazed at how good he is at remembering objects and sound associations. Same with trains, he goes woo-woo! On that note every time he sees a cat he says aaaalll-ma, as though every cat is called Alma, or that the name for cats is Alma. It's pretty funny!


He's also started to show his use of logic more and more, and over the last few weeks I've definitely seen his skills improve. He seems to be getting the hang of shape sorters, and claps himself when he gets the shape in the right hole! I love it!


I hope this doesn't come across as 'oh look how amazing my baby is', it's not meant to be showing off, but all of these things just amaze me and make me proud to see him learn and progress, and I guess this is my way of recording these moments.

So lastly I just wanted to share how big he's getting! He's no baby anymore! We found this pretty cool workbench in a charity shop for £3.50 (bargain!) and thought we should buy it for him. I'm not really into pushing very strong gender toys on children, and I'd be as happy if Theo was playing with a toy pram or doll, (he does love brushing his own hair with my hairbrush too) but thought this was too awesome to pass up!


He's already started acting like a proper man, going to his workbench and banging away needlessly on bits of wood...that's what men do right?

I think that's about it! He is such a funny little one, that I can't stay mad at him when he is naughty! Especially with all the kisses...