Category Archives: Scary Kids’ Toys

Oh my, these toys.

Birthday Thaumatropes

What are thaumatropes you ask? Thaumatropes are Victorian spinner toys. In this case they are also Eli’s birthday party invitations. I got the idea from my new favorite author Ester K. Smith. The thaumatropes are from a book called Magic Books & Paper Toys. You hold the strings, twist and see the robot open and close his eyes and mouth. Eli is obsessed with them. While I was working on them, he claimed all of my prototypes and goofs.

Front & back of cards and many buttons.

You can also see the buttons I made as party favors in the foreground. Eli can’t decide which robot he wants to keep for himself. I have this sneaking suspicion that I’m going to be making four or five more buttons for him to keep for his very own.

I have gotten a ton of crafting tools (the button maker! and a Bind-it-all!) and books at Christmas and since then. There’s going to be many, many craft/making things posts in the days to come.

LEGO Creator: The Race to Build It Board Game

Several years ago, a friend from church graciously gave me a trunk load of her son’s toys. He was turning 13 and I guess that means some sort right of passage by ditching all of his kid toys. One of the things in the stash was LEGO Creator: The Race to Build It Board Game and it has languished on the shelf in Eli’s closet for several years. The recommended playing age is 7-10 so I didn’t think we could really do much with it for at least another year. The past week Eli has asked multiple times to play the game. Today he wore me down and I took it off the shelf.

This game is so cute! And because Eli is reading now, it totally works for us. It is exactly what you would imagine a LEGO game would be. You race around the board collecting pieces and the first to finish the project from his/her card wins.

I thought when I first looked at the board, it would be too simple and the game play portion is very easy. Roll a die, move around the Monopoly-like board and follow the directions on each square. The squares tell you how many and what kind of bricks you can pick up.

The project cards are the real fun though. There’s about 20 cards and they are color coded for difficulty. One half of the card shows the kind of bricks you need. They are drawn actual size so as you are collecting you can place them on your card to remember what you’ve picked. The other half are the standard LEGO instructions for building your project. We had an awesome time building our projects and Eli did very well following the directions. He did better than I expected given our previous attempts with Lego instructions.

I think this is a great boy game and I am sad that they don’t make it any longer. (Did you catch the $260 price tag at amazon.com?) I think we’ll be playing it again tomorrow.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot: There were extra LEGOs and another book in the game box. I sorted out the pieces and bagged them separately from the game. When I started looking at the book, I realized it was a LEGO robot kit. It’s 86 tiny robots to make. Any questions about what Eli and I will be doing for the next couple of days?

An Unusual Fit of Cleaning

We’d been talking for a while that we needed to do some cleaning before Christmas. Specifically in Eli’s room so there’s actually room to bring in some new stuff.

So to show him how Mom and Dad can clean up their stuff too, Stephen started pulling books off of bookshelves and chunking them in a pile to go to the used bookstore. Some 60 books later, we have a bit of space on a few shelves around the house. And a whopping pile to trade for other books!

The office was also a bit of a mess. Stephen still had portal gun bits and pieces strewn around for Liza to impale herself on and I had a corner that just seemed to continually expand when I wasn’t actively beating it back. So we spent about 30 minutes last night and here are the results:

Today, I’m going to try and convince Eli to part with a few things as well. If you hear the moaning, it’s Emo Eli trying to part with his toys.

A Fun Saturday

We were full of the busy yesterday and I managed to get photos of big chunks of it.

First thing was playing with the doll house:
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In the afternoon we were off to hang out with our friends at Hallie and Remy’s house. I made all the girls t-shirts that say “Future Huntsvegas Girl Scout Troop”. They turned out pretty cute, if I do say so myself.
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The Fantastic Adventures of Kreeli and Bliza

We were outside at the playset one afternoon this past week and Eli requested I tell him a story. He’s always making up stories so I guess he decided he needed a break from all the work and wanted to hear someone else’s made up stuff.

I might be crafty with a glue gun and paper or even upon occasion fabric or other materials. I think I can cook decently and do a few other things nicely but I am not a storyteller. I guess it is the practical gene in me. Don’t get me wrong, I love to read. I just don’t seem to have the ability to make this stuff up.

So I started telling him the story of a boy named Kreeli who fought a dragon and saved his friends, LukeDuke and Burwill, and his sister, Bliza. Yeah, after that story I was out of juice. I didn’t have much to begin with but I was tapped out after the dragon.

But as in all things with kids, the thing that you most want to disappear becomes the most favoritest thing they can imagine.

Every night this week I’ve had to tell a Kreeli and Bliza story. Sometimes I slip and say Eli and Liza and he reminds me that these kids names are Kreeli and Bliza. I guess he has to maintain the wall or something. I’ve tried to keep the stories fantastical but the last couple of nights they’ve deteriorated into rehashes of the day or previews of the next day. He doesn’t seem to mind as it netted him pancakes this morning since Kreeli had pancakes last night in his story.

The nicest part of this is that it allows me to reinforce stuff we’ve discussed during the day. Kreeli never kicks other kids on the soccer field. He’s kinder than that. Kreeli always watches out for Bliza and takes care of her. Kreeli always does the brave thing, the kind thing, the smart thing. So while in the beginning it was annoying for me to do, it’s starting to grow on me.

The Krebs Family: from Japan

Eli loves a set of nesting dolls that Stephen’s mom has. So when I saw a set of Dharma Dolls in Japan, I knew it was the right gift to bring home for Eli.

As Eli was playing with them one day, he began telling me of his adventures in Arkansas. While he was staying with my mom, she took him to my college roommate’s house for a visit. So he named his dharma dolls after the Krebs family.

Red=Mr. Brett
Brett, he so wanted the red one to be Missy and the pink one to be you! I changed his mind… You’re welcome.
Pink=Miss Missy
Orange=Grace
Yellow=Morgan
Green=Lydia

He calls them his Grace, Morgan, and Lydia dolls and carries them everywhere. Missy and I joked after he was born that maybe we should go ahead an arrange a marriage between him and one of the girls early. If the amount of time he spends talking about them is any indication, I don’t think he’s going to have a problem with that.

Secret Bird Project

I was making Liza’s butterfly when I found this bird pattern on one of my craft blogs. I knew I wanted to make it and combine it with this quote:

Use what talent you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those who sang best.
–Henry Van Dyke

I’ve been working on them almost since I finished the butterfly.

I’ve actually finished eight of them, but two of my first efforts went to Eli’s friend Will because of his obsession with birds.

Why has it been a secret? I was saving them to give as gifts. Now that those gifts have been given, the birds are no longer secret. I’ll probably make some more to give as gifts but right now since I’ve finished the first wave, I’m taking a break.

Paper Dolls: After the Internet

I loved paper dolls when I was a kid. I know it’s rooted in my obsession with paper, so it’s not really a surprise that any craft that involves cutting, folding and gluing paper is going to rock my paper socks.

Back in the day, paper dolls were hard to come by. When you could find them, they were printed and usually produced so you could punch them out–no cutting involved. You got cutesie girl dolls with sailor outfits and tiny black schnauzers to sit by their side. I had loads of fun with them when I was a kid but hadn’t thought of them until a couple of years ago when my sister-in-law sent me a link to The Toymaker. I had the most fun printing things out and making them for Eli. He played with his sunbox until it fell apart.

So it was a big surprise to me this week when I was browsing my seemingly 948 craft blogs that I found out paper dolls have gone all hard core. Boxpunx was a revelation. From there I got to Papercraft X. Toypaper has a really lovely message. Eli wanted to know why Derek the toast ninja was so mad. I told him that that was a ninja’s job. We also got a kick out of looking at Monkey Design USA and are sad that there’s no retailer near us or a way to download their designs.

All these are fun to browse through with your kid and to make if you have the desire. Who knows? You might just spark a love of paper that lasts a lifetime.

Eli’s Felt Robot

From one of my craft blogs, I found a pattern on this page of a robot. I decided that it was cute and that I could certainly make it for Eli.

Eli picked out the colors from a stack of felt that I had. Purple and green are always favorites, but the orange in the mix was a bit of a shocker. I think he picked it because it was sitting on top of the pile. I started out using black thread to sew him together but I quickly discarded that arm and started over because he looked like a Tim Burton reject. I rummaged around and found some silver thread and that totally makes his look.


Notice between this photo and the next he went from having matching legs to having mismatching legs in the style of the arms. When I discarded the first black thread arm, I cut out a purple piece instead of a green one. I decided it would be cuter to make the legs match the arms. Opposite, of course.


I made the decision to put hair on him and now wish I hadn’t. Eli doesn’t like it either. One of the first things he asked me this morning when I gave him the finished product was could we take his hair off because he couldn’t see the robot’s green head with the hair in the way.


On the third limb I figured out how to attach the limbs attractively. Unfortunately, the two good ones are the legs. Ah, well, Eli doesn’t know or care.


In this photo you can see how uneven the arms ended up. I matched them on the piece of green felt from the bottom but then when I started sewing them onto the back, I ended up with about 1/2″ of fabric that I cut off. End result: wildly mismatching arms.


I didn’t stuff him super full. I didn’t want to strain the seams by putting 5 lbs. of stuffing in him. He’s just a wee bit squishy, which is what we all want in our robots, right?


Here he is finished up last. I think I spent around 10-12 hours making him and around $5. I believe I could probably make the next one a bit quicker. I’m thinking of trying to make Liza a butterfly in the same style since she is all about the butterflies!


Even though he didn’t like the hair, he ended up naming him Tentacle, because of the hair. Go figure.

Also, as with so many things, the joy seems to be in the making. He’s only played with him for about 5 minutes. While in contrast, yesterday after nap he insisted that we work on the robot and he sat in the office alternately watching me sew on robot legs and They Might Be Giants videos on youtube.