post-consumer party gifts?

I’m not sure if this is global, but: here in the suburbs of [Deep Harbor + Angular Music Building], when you give a tween/teen birthday party, you get A LOAD OF RUBBISHY PRESENTS which then lie around, getting dusty and waiting to be stepped on.

You may imagine me surrounded by bottles of pink bath gel with collars of pink fur and sparkles around the neck (the bottles, not me). DSD (14) hates pink and we all shower – quickly! Bring on the regifting box and the home made presents!

I am not knocking DSD’s friends. They’re just doing what “everyone” does. But anyone who is trying to get over being consumerist would definitely get a boost looking at what kids swap for presents around here. Some of the ways we are trying to cope:

  • We try not to “open presents” AT the party. That way, the nicer presents (assuming we have enough in the category already) can be regifted. Important to remember who they came from so people don’t get their own back. We have a stack of four BIG document boxes filled with brand new stuff just waiting for the right occasion (or a yard sale).
  • Some of them (including DSD) are making collages for each other instead of presents. It’s great to collect a collage of pictures of you and your friends with mushy stickers like Besties 4 Ever & even original artwork if you are in the mood. (Social note: last year they were using these phrases seriously and this year they are using them ironically, while still meaning the sentiment.) Other presents that take time/care are custom MySpace layouts and photoshopped montages.
  • They’re also being smart in some cases by talking beforehand and deciding to get group presents, either pooled money or some one thing the girl really wants.

Here’s an older Salon article on a related topic (K Mieszkowski interviews P Paul):

What is your advice to parents who want to avoid being suckered?

At the most basic level reuse, recycle, repurpose. The average American child gets 70 new toys a year. That is just so far beyond what is necessary. Most child gear, toys, books are a lot cheaper, relatively speaking, than they were decades ago. In the aggregate it ends up being a lot more expensive, because we’re buying a lot more of it, but kids just don’t need that many toys. Kids lose out when things become less special.

Actually I think we’re just ahead of economic shocks (and more expensive transport) that will make this topic seem quaint and academic – very soon. (I started writing this in March. Should have posted it then!) Nevertheless, advice or anecdotes welcome!


Comparing Play Across Generations

As if we busy moms needed more to feel guilty, kids today lack “self-regulation,” or discipline to listen in class, for example, than their  peers 60 years ago, according to NPR. The culprit? Today’s kids are more likely to play with toys and spend time in structured play rather than freely play make-believe or hang out in packs as kids did at the turn of the 20 century.

It turns out that all that time spent playing make-believe actually helped children develop a critical cognitive skill called executive function. Executive function has a number of different elements, but a central one is the ability to self-regulate. Kids with good self-regulation are able to control their emotions and behavior, resist impulses, and exert self-control and discipline.

We know that children’s capacity for self-regulation has diminished. A recent study replicated a study of self-regulation first done in the late 1940s, in which psychological researchers asked kids ages 3, 5 and 7 to do a number of exercises. One of those exercises included standing perfectly still without moving. The 3-year-olds couldn’t stand still at all, the 5-year-olds could do it for about three minutes, and the 7-year-olds could stand pretty much as long as the researchers asked. In 2001, researchers repeated this experiment. But, psychologist Elena Bodrova at Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning says, the results were very different.

“Today’s 5-year-olds were acting at the level of 3-year-olds 60 years ago, and today’s 7-year-olds were barely approaching the level of a 5-year-old 60 years ago,” Bodrova explains. “So the results were very sad.”

Sad because self-regulation is incredibly important. Poor executive function is associated with high dropout rates, drug use and crime. In fact, good executive function is a better predictor of success in school than a child’s IQ. Children who are able to manage their feelings and pay attention are better able to learn.

This article was interesting in that it compared play across generations expanding from the 19th century to today. Modern play as we know it — playing with toys and attending camps in safe quarters — came about in the 1950s when Mattel advertised its first toy on television. Then play was focused on things rather than activities.

The article was heavily in favor of free play — like make-believe — and letting children talk to themselves, which helps them learn self-regulating behavior. That should let parents, who feel they must schedule every minute of their children’s days, off the hook. But I would have liked to read alternatives to letting children roam free with other kids, as safety is of utmost concern nowadays. I wonder why that is?


My Baby Destroyed My Decor

Cross-posted at The Mom Blog.

There were so many things I swore I would never do when I became a parent.

Because I found the concept yucky, I did not plan to breastfeed past the first few weeks (reality check: I nursed Maya for 14 months).

I planned to get back to work ASAP (reality check: I took a 5-month leave and still wish I could afford to cut back my hours or be a SAHM).

My husband and I would continue to take long, exotic vacations, and leave the kid with her very accommodating abuelitos (reality check: our longest trip away from Maya has been 2 nights…and we didn’t cross the state line).

And last but not least, I would NOT let my home become Romper Room, strewn with toys and plastic and other assorted kid clutter.

Take a wild guess as to how that turned out.

We staved it off OK in the beginning; a little baby doesn’t need much, and we managed to find a baby swing, high chair and bouncer in neutral colors that blended nicely with our decor.

But now that Maya is older, her toys are bigger. And more garish. And just plain MORE.

So our formal dining room table has been relegated to a corner, sad and forgotten. We eat our meals in the kitchen, and Maya’s beloved train table is now the focal point of the dining room.

We’ve got puzzles stacked under our coffee table and a couple of toy bins that are constantly overflowing. While it’s too much for my personal liking, I’ve seen much worse. So I can live with the toys and the trains and the crayons for the time being…unlike this British mum, who wrote a column for The Independent about how her baby is cramping her style:

But as we cradled her blissfully in our arms, the midwife, doctor and nurses quietly going about their duties, there was one vital treatment they failed to administer. Somehow, someone, somewhere, forgot to give me the pill from the bottle whose label read: “You’ve just had a baby, from now on your aversion to all things cute, cuddly or smothered in teddy bear pattern will be forgotten. Go forth and spend a fortune on useless furnishings and ugly-coloured plastic items. Everything you thought you knew about how you wanted your home to look is wrong. Oh, and if it’s a girl, prepare to like pink.”

This then, is the diary of the design-freak-turned-new-mother, who was given a baby, but not the “right” pill, and whose life may never be the same again, but whose home sure as hell will be.

I get the sense that the piece was written with tongue placed firmly in cheek, but I did raise my eyebrows a couple of times:

October 2007- Harper is fast outgrowing the bathroom sink and our old cast iron bath is too deep, so it’s back to Mothercare for a baby bath. Online I was tempted by the practical white version that sits on top of your bath. Unfortunately in the flesh the object in question has all the elegance of a plastic garden pond, and is of similar dimensions. I’m not paying twenty quid to ruin one of my favourite rooms in the house, so it’s back to the sink and hope she doesn’t grow any more…

December 2007- The black high chair has arrived. It is beautiful. The baby is beautiful. The baby looks beautiful in it. More importantly, the room still looks beautiful.

I appreciate aesthetics and order as much as the next gal, but I’m OK with a house that doesn’t always look like a page out of the Pottery Barn catalogue. Maya’s toys and drawings and photos somehow make my house feel warmer, more alive.

I still remember going to a colleague’s house for her daughter’s 1st birthday party. It was a lovely showcase of a home, with some of the nicest decor I had ever seen. But after a minute I realized there was no evidence at all that a small child lived there. Not a block or a doll or a high chair in sight. I assumed it was all hidden away for the occasion, but then I started looking for baby pictures. I found exactly one, a lovely 3×3 black and white close-up of her face, artfully arranged in a large, wooden frame and placed on a side table. Like something out of a Pottery Barn catalogue.

While I admired the home and envied my colleague’s clutter-free living space, I realized I prefer my own little pocket of pandemonium. If my house was that pretty and perfect, I would expend way too much stress and energy ensuring that it stayed that way…and life’s just too damn short.

What do you think? Does a messy home go hand in hand with parenthood? Did you resent your child for ruining your decor? Did you take any pre-parenthood vows and proceed to fail miserably, like me?

NOTE: That is NOT my home in the picture…but that’s sort of what it looks like on a good, organized day. :-)


Is Having Too Many Toys Bad?

Here is an appropriate discussion for the holiday season: “Is There Such a Thing as Too Many Toys?“

Brain, Child posed the question in this issue’s debate. Arguing for the negative is writer Barbara Simmons who says parents who limit their children’s toys for aesthetics — think wooden toys — are “snobs.“ She has found that an abundance of cheap plastic toys actually increases creativity in her household.

In fact, toys are democratic class levelers. Inexpensive and durable, toys are something every child can have — unlike dance lessons or a Montessori education. Most families can afford enough toys to give their children a sense of plenty. Claire regularly plays with the children of large families living in small two-bedroom apartments or basements in our working-class neighborhood. She has never mentioned the occasional poverty she sees while visiting. She speaks, instead, of the fun they had with this or that toy. But like all affordable pleasures available in abundance — television, junk food, and Kmart clothing — mass-produced toys are given a dirty connotation by unwitting class snobs who want their kids to have better — and by extension be better…

Having a diversity of toys makes our girls more creative. Any fascination they have — with jungles, outer space, museums, or slumber parties — they represent three-dimensionally with toys. Creating a small world in the corner of the living room, they build on each other’s ideas, get input from adults, and use toys in new ways. Toys we don’t have, they make. Racing cars need a track and a finish-line banner. Dolls need cardboard houses of all kinds. Book characters like the Magic School Bus kids need to come alive as paper dolls.

Arguing against too many toys is writer and teacher Adrienne Martini, who gives the reasons that Simmons trashes: the elite feel that too many plastic and electronic toys made from China has a bad impact on the environment; that we are falling for the marketing tactics of toy manufacturers and teaching children how to consume above all else.

Take one of our kid’s store-bought toys and hold it in your hand. Flip it over. I’ll bet you a marble that it was made in China. Eighty percent of American toys are imported from there. Much as I like China and wish it no ill will, I find it staggering how far any given toy has traveled — and how many barrels of oil it took to get it from its point of manufacture to my house, where it will be played with for thirty seconds and then forgotten about. That amount of waste alone disturbs me.

But my concerns go beyond the logistics of distribution. Not only has the travel sucked up fossil fuels, the toy itself is made from them. Then packaged in them in order to appeal to a kid’s eye on the store shelf. Once my brain starts to wander down that path, I also start to ponder how the U.S. has transformed from a country that knew how to make stuff into a country that only knows how to consume stuff — and I don’t want my kids to think that being good consumers is the most important attribute one could have.

Even if we could fix the global issues with toys, I still wouldn’t buy that many of them because there isn’t much proof that modern toys are more beneficial to my kids’ developing brains that the classic toys, like marbles and dolls and boxes. But most toys, especially the electronic ones, are designed to do things for your kids, like sing to them or read for them. Most researchers have figured out that what grows nice, flexible brains is interaction with other human beings, which is not something that one-trick toys can provide.

Logically, I agree with Martini. (Go ahead and call me a snob.) On the face of it, I would think play that largely hinders on plastic toys that talk to children rather than interaction with their care givers is harmful — or at least, not that beneficial.  

But I empathize with Simmons that even in my household, the battle against cheap plastic toys from China has been long lost. Ari’s room floor is littered with itsy-bitsy lego pieces — the obsession of the year. In fact, his favorite toy store is Walgreens.

But my justification for so many toys is not because we are trying to enhance his education. We are trying to buy time for ourselves. He can easily spend an hour building toy planes and robots with his legos. We figure this is better than watching TV and it buys us time to work or just take a shower. Okay, that’s my confession for the day.

What about you? Do you think your children have too many toys?


Policy Mom, Here I Come

I don’t want to be Policy Mom. You know, the mom with the list of 300 rules governing what can and cannot be given to her children, and by whom. This doll is acceptable, but only if made in the following countries, but that doll, under no circumstances–even when present only in animated form. Only wooden toys, provided said wood comes from sustainable forests. Children should paint only with watercolors, and only with the colors red, blue, and yellow. Under no circumstances should black paint ever enter The Child’s Environment. Elderly relatives raised during the depression will simply have to understand that Bailey can’t have that toy, because it represents consumer values we don’t support.

OK, I really don’t want to be that mom. (Can you tell?) But there’s a limit. I think I’m over the limit. I’ve just spent 5 hours organizing toys and I haven’t even scratched the surface of the upstairs playroom. Granted, it’s been ummmm a few months since I’ve done this, but how is it even possible that we have this many things and I can’t remember the last time I’ve consciously gone out to buy the kids toys? For about a year, I’ve had (let’s call it a “guideline”) a guideline, that if you can’t eat it, wear it or read it, I’m not buying it. Yet here we are. The toypocalypse.

My mom has been asking me about Christmas gifts this week, and I keep hearing myself say “You know I don’t have rules about this stuff, but…” so here I am, I guess I’m Policy Mom. I guess that’s where we’re at as a society. There’s just so much stuff that it’s now an essential part of a parent’s job to keep too much of it from entering the home. It’s now my job to stand there with my finger in the dike, holding back the raging waters of plastic crap threatening to engulf every surface of the house. Someday we will look back at 2007 America and shake our heads in disbelief.

Miss D spent the weekend whining for mini-Pokemon toys she saw at a friend’s house. Not a mini-Pokemon, but the beginning of what is sure to be a Pokemon army, because the whole point to this particular brand of kiddie-crack is that you can’t have just one. Well, you know what kiddo? New policy. (Like that will last.)  

(Cross posted from my personal blog which currently has about 2 readers.)



Today is Black Friday, and if you were out shopping at a big box store at 4 in the morning, you’re nuts in my book. A masochist.

I sympathize with those parents who are a little gun-shy about purchasing toys this season, in light of all the recalls… the Aqua Dots and the Thomas trains and god know what else. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group has taken up the cause and released their 22nd Annual “Trouble in Toyland” report.

For the report, safety consultants were dispatched to stores with lead test kits, choke-test cylinders, and sound meters. The results were somewhat reassuring:

Despite the record number of toy recalls this year, the vast majority of toys are safe.

“Sometimes I’m walking for hours and am not finding anything, but I tell myself that’s a good thing,” said Cassady, who helps compile the annual “Trouble in Toyland” report for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. This year’s report is scheduled to be released Tuesday.

The recent recalls of toys containing lead and small powerful magnets have made a difference. Cassady said she had a harder time this year finding toys with those hazards.

Ambitious and untrusting parents can acquire the same testing equipment that Cassady employed, although there is some debate over the usefulness of the cheap test kits, since they only test the surface of things. Toys made from vinyl and other soft plastics can have high levels of lead blended in to the material.
In the Washington Post story, the safety consultant indentified lead in a Curious George doll, and shortly thereafter the doll was recalled. I bought one of those kits at a hardware store a couple of years ago, because I live in an old house with peeling paint.

U.S. PIRG’s safety brochure contains useful information for us toy-shopping mommies:

Some children’s toys and cosmetics may contain toxic chemicals.  
   -Avoid toys made of PVC plastic; choose unpainted wooden or cloth toys instead.
   -Read the labels of play cosmetics and avoid products with xylene, toluene, or dibutyl phthalate.

CPSC, PIRG and children’s health groups have found high levels of lead paint on toys, as well as high levels of lead in vinyl lunchboxes and bibs and in children’s or costume jewelry.

Children exposed to lead can suffer lower IQ, developmental delays or even death. All lead should be removed from a child’s environment, especially lead jewelry and other toys that can be swallowed.
   -To test a piece of jewelry for lead, use a home lead tester available at the hardware store. Or simply throw cheap, heavy metal jewelry away.
   -Tell your children not to put their jewelry in their mouths.

Charles Margulis of the Center for Environmental Health sez to avoid buying soft plastic toys altogether. And if you must buy plastic, stick with hard plastic. He recommends that parents avoid giving metal jewelry to children altogether, especially anything with a charm that may come off.

Two extra bits of info: You can sign up to receive toy recall notices from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, (which USPIRG considers woefully underfunded and understaffed) here. USPIRG is currently working on the product safety bill (HR4040) in Congress.


Barbie Teaches Credit the Wrong Way

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!? And we wonder why we can never get out of debt…shocking! – Gloria

This article spurred a great discussion over at feministing but, seeing as mothering is kind of our thing here, I thought I’d get some of your perspectives on it.

Meet the Barbie Fashion Fever Shopping Boutique Playset

One of the worst aspects of the commercial (the article has a YouTube link, what the heck did we all do without YouTube?) was the little girl’s comment “and you never run out of money!” Ick.

BUT I find this toy actually more disturbing:

Dora’s Talking Register
Dora? Isn’t her target audience 3-8 year olds? Credit cards for toddlers? Seriously? Start ’em young and move ’em up to the Barbie fashionista card, I guess.

Credit Cards are Not. Good. There is very little redeeming quality about them save the ability to gain miles or Disney bucks or help you out in a pinch- and that only works should you pay off the total every month. With bank cards and the like, it’s probably a safe bet that our kids see us paying with the plastic nine times out of ten, and toys that glorify the “never-have-to-pay” virtue of credit cards seems silly at best and damaging at worst.

More interesting to me, though, is the conversation that follows- how do you teach your kids about money? Allowance is such a strange beast- should it pay for lunches? Extra stuff? Clothes when they are older? How do kids learn about credit, why it’s dangerous and how it’s A LOAN EVERY TIME YOU SWIPE IT? Why the hell isn’t it required learning for every high school student, right there with English Lit and Civil War History? Why is it that almost every kid who gets a job in high school becomes an insta-republican after they see what taxes are taken out of their checks? Why isn’t all that explained in detail to kids before they drown?

My own parents never spoke to us about finances. We got the ‘be responsible’ thing, but they never explained how they had no CC debt, how they saved for cars and paid cash, how they didn’t purchase things without a plan. We never even talked about how much I would owe for my college education when all was said and done. A loan was a foreign idea to me, one I didn’t try to tackle until I was at least 21 years old.

If you haven’t seen Maxed Out yet, add it to your Netflix cue. It’s horrific. When they get to the part where the two mothers are talking about their college-age children getting into horrendous debt? And you don’t see the children anywhere around? You know it’s bad.

From the director James Scurlock:

We’re all led to believe that people get into financial trouble because they are irresponsible, but I’ve learned that most people are getting in trouble because the banks and credit card companies are setting their customers up to fail. Why? The more credit they give us, the more credit we need. When we inevitably fall behind, they can charge the huge late fees and the over-limit fees and the stratospheric interest rates that drive their profits.

It isn’t even about teaching kids that they need to be generically “responsible” for their spending- it’s about teaching them that there are traps in credit card lending, that there is a reason why someone is handing you a credit card- so THEY can make money, not so you can save a few.


Toxic Toys No More. USW Launches ‘Protect Our Kids’ Campaign

Hi Everyone.

This diary was published by TomP on Dailykos, but it is not getting that much attention.  I suggested to Tom that he publish it at MotherTalkers, but he is not registered with this site.  I felt it was important information for parents to be aware about and the efforts being made to deal with this issue.  I agreed to crosspost though I read things here but don’t post here.   I hope this is of value to you.

Consumer Group Finds Lead In More Children’s Toys.

Extremely high levels of lead were found in a Go Diego Go backpack, a Superfly monkey and a pair of Circo Lulu boots, the Center for Health, Environment and Justice (a group dedicated to ridding the world of PVC) reported in a new study released yesterday. In all, 11 items they tested contained lead levels and/or heavy metals well over the safety standard.

Consumer Alert
Today, the United Steelworkers (USW) launched a major campaign to “Protect Our Kids–Stop Toxic Imports.”  Speaking at a Capitol Hill press conference today, USW President Leo W. Gerard said:

Toxic toys. Lead-laced baby bibs. Poisoned pet food. Red lead in Chinese-made steel. … It’s time for this to stop.


WASHINGTON – China-made kid’s jewelry, toys recalled

By CHRISTINE SIMMONS, Associated Press Writer
Thu Sep 27, 6:57 AM ET

Toys and children’s necklaces made in China were recalled Wednesday, including five more items from the popular Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway product line, because they contain dangerous levels of lead.

RC2 Corp.’s “Knights of the Sword” series toys and some of its Thomas and Friends items, along with floor puppet theaters and gardening tools and chairs for children, were among the more than 601,000 toys and children’s jewelry announced in the recall by the Consumer Product Safety Commission…

In all, 11 items they tested contained lead levels and/or heavy metals well over the safety standard, 10 of which contained PVC, or vinyl. The backpack had levels of 4,600 parts per million. The CPSC standard is 600 parts per million

Consumer Alert
Speaking at a Capitol Hill press conference today, USW President Leo W. Gerard said:

Toxic toys. Lead-laced baby bibs. Poisoned pet food. Red lead in Chinese-made steel. Every day the list of imported products that endanger our families and workers grows. It’s time for this to stop. Our political leaders must deal with the failed trade policies that are the root cause of this crisis.


The USW will distribute thousands of Get the Lead Out Screening kits and spearhead a series of “Safe Home Sessions” so families can learn more about protecting themselves and their loved ones.

You may remember that the Steelworkers created  the Blue Green Alliance with the Sierra Club last year:

The United Steelworkers (USW), North America’s largest private sector manufacturing union with 850,000 members, and the Sierra Club, the nation’s largest grassroots environmental organization with 750,000 members, announced today the formation of a strategic alliance to pursue a joint public policy agenda under the banner of Good Jobs, A Clean Environment, and A Safer World.

Blue Green Alliance

Gerard was joined by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who is sponsoring legislation to safeguard consumers from unsafe food and other products and require country-of-origin labeling. Says Brown:

From food to toothpaste, toys to tires, we must do more to protect our families from contaminated and defective imports. Safeguarding consumers from unsafe products is the most basic of government functions—we must protect our families and our children.

While Chinese and other imports are the major source of concern, domestically made products must be screened more carefully, especially in light of the Bush administration’s cuts in the number of inspectors and staffers at the Food and Drug Administration and Consumer Product Safety Commission. Gerard puts it this way:

China’s attempt to export its poor standards is a serious problem, but a huge number of dangerous imports are made for North American manufacturers that choose profits over safety. Meanwhile, our government regulatory agencies are being gutted. Those facts are equally as disturbing.

In early August, John Edwards called for increased regulation of imported toys.  I’m sure he will support the Steelworkers in their efforts here.  Everyone should.

Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Aug 3, 2007
In the wake of a flurry of safety recalls of imported toys and other goods, particularly from China, Sen. John Edwards called on leaders in Washington to take immediate steps to reduce the growing risk posed by unsafe trade and ensure the health and welfare of American consumers. This week, for example, Fisher-Price issued a recall over concerns that imported toys, mostly from China, were tainted with levels of lead far above U.S. standards – thereby posing a serious health risk to America’s children.
“The recall of Fisher-Price toys highlights the need for smarter, safer trade and consumer protection policies in this country. I’ve talked about what we have to do to make food safer. Now with nearly 80 percent of children’s toys made in China, we need to strengthen our ability to ensure the safety of products designed for our children’s hands. We need tougher penalties for safety violations and we need to look at solutions like third-party testing of imported toys. At the same time we need to put the Consumer Product Safety Commission back on the side of consumers—instead of having their travel bought and paid for by the industries they are supposed to regulate.

The Growing Threat To America’s Families Posed By “Unsafe Trade
Go to protect-our-kids ( for more information on the campaign and Safe Home Sessions, to order Get the Lead Out kits and to sign an online petition calling for stronger laws and regulations to stop toxic imports and other dangerous products.
Toxic Trade Petition

Our children should be the top priority of our government. That is why I am signing this petition imploring you to help put an end to unregulated toxic trade that is threatening our families with everything from lead-laced baby bibs and toys to toxic tooth paste. We need tougher trade laws that not only safeguard consumers but protect our jobs. We need to stop toxic imports from ending up on our store shelves and in our homes. We need a strong Consumer Product Safety Commission and other regulatory agencies in North America to inspect the imports flooding our countries. And we want corporations to be held accountable if they put profits over our families’ health and safety. Please take action now to protect our children and stop toxic trade!

From the CDC:

Exposure to lead should be avoided. Lead is highly toxic to humans, especially young children. It has no known physiologic value to the human body. Nearly half a million children living in the United States have blood lead levels high enough to cause irreversible damage to their health.

Center for Disease Control
Please sign the Petition and support this effort.  Lead causes brain damage and other organ damage in babies and small children.

Lead accumulates and can cause brain damage, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders, behavioral problems, stunted growth, impaired hearing, kidney damage and even death. It can be removed – but only if you know it is there.

Get the Lead OUT!!!
Don’t let them harm our kids anymore for the almight buck!
online petition


Yet More Toy Recalls

This is getting ridiculous: More toy recalls from Mattel, including various Barbie accessories (though not the dolls themselves), Fisher Price Geo Trax Locomotive Toys, and Fisher Price Bongo Band Toys.

Moms Rising has a petition you can sign urging Congress and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to institute measures for better testing of children’s products. You can also write directly to your members of Congress.

In the meantime, you’ll have to make your own toys or fashion Barbie accessories out of things found around the house. I’m thinking a bit of brown paper bag, cut and glued, would make a nice toolbelt.

(Crossposted at Mombian.)



When I was growing up, my parents made me make friends with the daughter of a couple they were friends with. This girl was around my age and had ZERO personality. She was snotty, spoiled and SO unlikeable. But she had THE BEST TOYS! I admit that even at 10 years old, I felt bad using her for her possessions. But what else could I do? She had EVERY Barbie possession advertised, including the Dream House, the RV, the pink Corvette, the Moped…and Skipper. So, when I saw the episode of Seinfeld when Jerry had a girlfriend that had a collection of the coolest toys, I could totally relate! Remember when he fed her turkey, gave her extreme amounts of wine and made her watch boring movies so that she can fall to sleep and he could play with her toys?

Don’t get me wrong, I had my own toys…just not the “cool” ones. I remember begging my mother to buy me the “Easy Bake Oven”. No dice. She said, “if you want to bake a cake, go to the kitchen.” She didn’t understand how it wasn’t the same thing. So when I finally had a daughter, I bought her (myself) the Easy Bake Oven. She just wasn’t interested. I also tried to buy her THE Barbie Dream House (remember the one that was three stories high and had an elevator?), but couldn’t find it. I did buy her Barbie furniture, which I admit I played with more than she did. At that point, I knew I was living vicariously through my daughter, which to my dismay showed NO INTEREST in toys.

So I’m wondering if I’m the only one, or have you also noticed yourself living vicariously through your children? What toys do you remember with nostalgia?