Monday, January 31, 2011

Winter Storm Prep


Today I am getting ready for the next big winter storm to roll through Oklahoma tonight and tomorrow. According to all the news channels around here, it is going to be a doozie (doozy?). Snow, ice, even thunder and lightning. True blizzard-like conditions they say. Oh boy. I've planned a menu and made a grocery list for the next week (shopping will happen this afternoon). And since we still have two sick kiddos around here, I made a quick check of the medicine available at our house. Turns out, we need both infant and children's fever reducer. I also surveyed the diapers/wipes situation and we're good there. Oh and I'll probably stock up on toilet paper because if we are stuck in our house for a few days, that is one thing I do not want to run out of.

Now I am hoping that the power doesn't go out! With all the provisions I am making, that would be just great. Instead, I'm hoping to just hole up with my family for a few days with plenty of food and fun things to do.
Leah fell asleep on the floor by the fire this morning while coloring some pictures. She has a fever/cough/congestion. Note her pink blankies are snuggled up next to her too.
My sad, sick boy this morning. He had a 103 temp before I took this photo. I gave him some tylenol and put him in his crib where he is still sleeping as I type this post. We took him to the ER at midnight on Saturday because he had a wheezy/"barking" cough. Diagnosis: upper respiratory infection. Look at those sweet, feverish red cheeks on that boy.

How do you prepare for a winter storm?


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dancing Boy

video

Have I mentioned that this boy of mine loves to dance? Well, he does. He goes up to our iPod dock several times a day, points and says, "Ick! Ick!" which is short for "music". He likes songs with a good beat so he can really get into. Enjoy this little sample of his work, then go put on some music and get your groove on wherever you are today. :)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Security Blanket

I had one. It was a soft, buttery yellow color with satin edges that I would rub between my fingers and on my cheeks. I carried it around the house and snuggled with it at bedtime. It was my security blanket. Leah has one too. Actually, she has two. Mike's Grandma Velda knit two small pink blankets for the girls when they were born, but somehow over the years Leah confiscated both of them. She pokes her fingers through the holes and rubs them together. She cannot go to sleep without "pink blankies".

And now it looks like Lucas has developed an affection for a certain blanket which we call "green blankie" (we were real creative with these blanket names as you can see). More than I was, and even more than Leah is, this boy is seriously attached to his blanket, Linus-style. He carries it everywhere with him, and has to fall asleep with it. We let him take it in the car, or over to Grandma's house, but we draw the line when it come to taking it outside or into a grocery store. After he is away from it for awhile, his face lights up when he sees it, and he buries his head into its soft, green center like he is being reunited with an old friend.
Chillin with Green Blankie
Playing with Green Blankie within arm's reach

I wonder what it will look like in a few years?

Friday, January 28, 2011

100th Day!

Today is the girls' 100th day of school! Wow. 100 days of kindergarten are behind us now, and they have learned so much already. I really like the school the girls attend. They both have excellent teachers who put so much creativity into their daily lessons. Not only that, but the school the girls attend focuses on learning through the arts which is important to us. And they are happy at school; they make friends easily and look forward to each new day.

In honor of the 100th day, the girls classrooms are having parties this afternoon. There will be pizza and cupcakes and games. Hannah and Leah had an assignment this week to find a collection of 100 things and create a sculpture or collage out of them. After some thought, raiding Grandma's button drawer, digging through our pantry, and recruiting Mike as an artist, we ended up with some cute results!
Mike drew a coat for Hannah to glue on 100 buttons.
Hannah Couture

Leah's giant macaroni and cheese with 100 noodles.
Mmmmm....tasty

In addition, today was also a Sock Hop. The school has been doing a reading challenge this winter and since they reached their goal, the kids got to dress up in 1950's gear and dance their little hearts out.

I can't wait to hear all about their day when they get home!




Thursday, January 27, 2011

10 Things About Denver

Today is the ten year anniversary of the plane crash that killed my Uncle Denver as well as nine other men. Denver was the pilot of the plane that went down in Colorado that cold January night. He was flying members of the Oklahoma State University men's basketball team, staff, and local news media back home after a game. It was a shock not only to our family, but to the entire state and even the nation. I will never forget that night or the days that followed. I have so many cherished memories of my uncle and his family. Christmases, Thanksgiving meals, and numerous summers spent swimming in the pool in his backyard with my cousins, just to name a few.

Denver married my mom's sister, Lindell, in 1967. He and my aunt had three children, my cousins Kathryn, Deborah and David. In birth order, I came along in between Deborah and David, so the four of us are pretty close. Growing up our families vacationed together, celebrated every holiday together and spent plenty of time just hanging out with each other. Since I don't have any siblings, I always saw my cousins as such. We always had a great time together.

In honor of the tenth anniversary of that fateful night, here are ten things/memories I have about my uncle:

1. He loved to fly. Denver was a CPA, but his passion was flying. He took me and my family up in an airplane numerous times over the years. One time, when my parents and I were living in Texas, our small town experienced a major flood. Before the flood waters were too bad, Denver flew down to pick us up and take us to safety.

2. He and I (and my other uncle John) always celebrated our birthdays together. My uncle John's birthday is January 30th, Denver's is the 31st and mine is February 3rd. I have several pictures of the three of us blowing out candles together at our family dinners.

3. He was very generous. Beyond being financially generous, he was generous with his time. When I was in high school, I went to start my car one morning only to find that the battery was dead. My parents were already gone for the day, and I was a sophomore and didn't know how to give it a jump. So I called my uncle and he came right over. He was always willing to help.

4. He (like my own dad) was smart. He knew a lot about a lot of things.

5. He was funny. I remember that he usually had a joke on hand or a funny story. He always seemed to have a smile on his face.

6. He was a hard worker and always provided for his family.

7. When my cousins and I were younger, he would always get down on the floor and play with us or chase us. I thought he was pretty cool for that.

8. One of my earliest memories is from when I stayed with my aunt and uncle during the week that my dad ran the Boston Marathon. I was five, and as much as I missed my parents, it felt like I was right at home with them.

9. Denver loved his family. It was incredibly obvious. He loved his wife, and he beamed with pride when he spoke of his three children. He was a very loving father to them.

10. He loved God, and his life reflected it in all areas. He and my aunt both spent many hours volunteering at our church and hosting the youth group at their home. His faith was important to him.

It was neat to see Denver and the rest of the "OSU TEN" remembered at last night's basketball game. They truly will never be forgotten.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Nurse Emily

Today started off with an early morning phone call from my dad. I was worried something was wrong with my mom, but instead he said he was having his own personal emergency. While eating some popcorn the night before, he bit down on a hard kernel which ended up shattering one of his molars into three pieces. His dentist was going to work him in at 9:00 this morning which meant that Dad needed me to come sit with Mom while he had some dental work done. Poor guy. He came home numb, mouth filled with gauze, and one less tooth. I spent a little time with my mom and the home health nurse who was changing the dressing on Mom's wound vacuum.

After I hung out with Mom for awhile, I headed off to work. While there I got a phone call from the girls' school saying that Leah had a 101 degree fever and needed to come home. One good thing about Mike working out of our house is that he was able to run right up there to get her. She came home, crawled in her bed and slept for two hours. When I got home, she woke up, grabbed the "puke bucket" and proceeded to throw up. Lovely. I got some Motrin in her though, and she is now laying on the couch looking pathetic. Poor girl. I'll play "nurse" to her this evening and give her lots of back scratches and snuggles.
My sweet sick Leah Bee
There was a highlight from today, though! When I ran to make some copies in the workroom, there was a box filled with books labeled "Free! Take As Many As You Want!" Apparently, the school library was clearing out its shelves. So I happily picked through the pile and brought home a new stash! Yay! One thing I love better than books is free books!

Hope you are having a good Hump Day!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things

Ten of my favorite things (right now) are....

1. A warm fire every night to snuggle up next to

2. Fresh pineapple in the middle of winter (it is hard to choose a good one and we seriously lucked out on the last one we bought-- so sweet!)

3. Using my Jamba Juice gift card today while out with my two favorite boys

(Note that my hand looks crazy distorted in this photo)

4. A good book to read. Right now I'm reading True Grit by Charles Portis.

5. These mixing bowls I got for Christmas. They make stirring up some pancake batter a much cheerier experience.

6. These recipes for my friend Rachel's "Peanut Butter Granola Balls" and "Quinoa and Black Bean Salad." Seriously good, folks. And good for you!

7. My family. Just because they are always some my favorite things. :)

8. Watching Gold Rush with Mike on Friday nights on the Discovery Channel. We haven't decided if we are hoping the miners will succeed or fail.

9. Listening to the girls sound out words. Every day they continue to get better at reading.

10. THE BEST FAVORITE THING EVER--
MY MOM CAME HOME FROM THE HOSPITAL LAST NIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Yes, that deserved a hundred exclamation points. After 84 days, she is finally home. She still is hooked up to a lot of things like a peg tube, an iv (for antibiotics), a wound vac, and a nasal cannula for oxygen. But she's home and sleeping in her own bed and that is just wonderful for our family. My dad is playing "nurse" most of the time while a home health nurse will visit every day to check on things. This is definitely my "favorite thing" of the week!

What are some of your favorite things lately?


Monday, January 24, 2011

Hands

Mike and I have learned that while driving in the car it is good to sometimes stop and listen to the backseat conversations between our children. We've discovered we can learn a lot about them when they don't realize we are listening in. For example, yesterday on the way to church we heard this conversation between Hannah and Leah.

Hannah:"Leah, do you know what is the most important part of your body?"

Leah: "Ummmmm..... Your heart?"

Hannah: "No."

Leah: "Your blood?"

Hannah: "No, your HANDS! You can use your hands to help people, to make your bed, to cook food, and draw and color."

I thought about this throughout the day and was filled with pride at my little girl's profound statement. Your hands are so very important. Like she said, a person's hands can be used to fix, heal, comfort, create, nurture, and share. On the flip side, we could use them to hurt, harm, destroy or point fingers. It is a choice every day how we can use them. What a powerful thing!
Hannah's hands
How are you using your hands today?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Grocery Store Survival Tips

I survived taking all three kids to the grocery store today. Follow these simple tips and you too can have grocery store success!

Tip #1: Pack lots of snacks for the 18 month old. Goldfish + Granola Bar = Happy, Busy Boy
Tips #2 &3: Try to find a cart with a car for the six year old twins. And bring along the twins' Leapster game system.

And the result? Three well behaved children, a cart full of groceries, and a non-stressed-out Mom!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Book Review: The Lace Reader

I finally finished a book last night! I have (sadly) been working on this one since August. I will allow myself a few excuses on why it took me so long to finish it: 1. Beginning of the school year craziness, 2. The ups and downs of my Mom's surgery/illness, and 3. It was just a dad gum slow book.

Do you ever wonder why people pick up the books that they do? I will see a person in an airport reading a book and wonder if someone gave it to them, did the book's cover stand out to them, was it highly recommended? I wonder about things like that. Anyway, the story of this book began back in May when I was waiting for Hannah and Leah during their gymnastics class. One of the other moms in the waiting room told me about her book club, and this title came up as one that people in her club either loved or hated. A few months later, I was at Barnes & Noble when I saw this in the bargain book section for $5.99. So I picked it up.

Now I know why it was in the bargain section. The story is very disjointed. There are flashbacks, visions, sudden perspective shifts, and strange dreams. Towner Whitney, the book's main character, comes from a family of women who can "read lace", or see the future in the lace's intricate pattern. This skill comes in handy when two women go missing in her hometown of Salem. Towner, along with one of Salem's police officers (which ends up as her love interest) are drawn into a spiral of family secrets, strange cults, and eventually the truth. Not just the truth about the missing women, but also the truth about the death of Towner's twin sister many years ago.

I did enjoy the wonderful descriptions of the historic city of Salem. It is an area of the country I have never been to and would love to visit one day. And some parts of the book were quite suspenseful. But as a whole, I was either bored or confused as I read this novel. I am glad I stuck it out and finished it, but it won't be at the top of my recommended reading list anytime soon.

Now, on to the next one. I have a few more "real books" to plow through before I plan to start using my Nook!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Snow Day Cookies

Frosting our snow day sugar cookies
Hannah
Leah
The girls were out of school yesterday for their first ever snow day. Not their first day to see snow, but their first day to actually be out of school because of snow. Now they have had the taste of how wonderful it is to see your school name scroll across the TV screen among all the other school closings. The funny thing is, here in Oklahoma, we really should call them "Ice Days" instead of Snow Days. We just don't get much snow accumulation, but we do get a lot of freezing drizzle. This was the case yesterday. The roads were super slick, but by noon the temperatures had warmed up and practically melted everything.

We enjoyed our day by staying in our pj's, drinking hot cocoa, coloring pictures, reading books, watching movies, and decorating (and eating) sugar cookies! The girls helped me make the cookies (from a box I must admit), but the dough ended up being way too sticky to try to cut out any fun shapes. Which was a little disappointing because I had several snowflake cookie cutters to try out. Oh well. Plain circles/blobs is what we ended up with. And it worked just fine. A little blue, yellow and pink frosting, and a bunch of sprinkles made up for our lack of snowflake designs. We had fun and that is what matters!

What do you like to do on a snow day at home?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

This Photo Needs a Caption!

So today, I went to grab some garlic to whip up in marinade for our dinner tonight, and found this bad boy bulb of garlic:
I think this photo is crying out for a great caption. And this is where you, my dear readers, come in. I'd love to see some of your humorous creativity at work.

Ready. Set. GO!


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cuddly Dudley


We had a visitor spend the night at our house last week. He was small, furry, cute and polite. He never spoke a word and got to sleep snuggled up next to Leah. May I introduce......Cuddly Dudley, the penguin!

Dudley came home with Leah in a small cooler along with a book (Cuddly Dudley by Jez Alborough) and a list of activities for us to do. We were to let Dudley be a part of our nightly activities, then write about his adventures with us in a journal. We were to go on a hunt through newspapers and magazines for the letter "P", and also draw a picture of something black and something white. Leah and Hannah had a good time taking care of Dudley. They dressed him up in doll clothes, introduced him to the other stuffed animals living in our home, and even took him out to eat with us that night. He sat like a perfect gentlemen as he watched us eat our meal. Dudley ended his night by snuggling up next to Leah in her nice, soft bed.

The next morning, after our journal entry was written, Dudley was whisked off to kindergarten where he would have another adventure. We always enjoy having house guests. Even of the penguin variety.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Expanding Our Circle: A Tribute to Jacquelyn

One of the best tidbits of parenting advice I have ever heard came from a friend of mine named Gina. She was speaking one night at our church's small group gathering, and mentioned that as parents we should "expand our circle" for our children. She went on to explain that kids are born into a circle of family. Beyond that circle of mom and dad and siblings is extended family (Grandma, Grandpa, aunts, cousins, etc). A third way to "expand" that circle of love around our children is to look for friends who can be positive role models and mentors to our children. Gina pointed out that building a healthy relationship with a family friend can come in very handy later in life during those critical preteen and teenage years when your child may or may not feel comfortable asking Mom or Dad about things, but could instead go to his or her mentor with concerns or questions. She said that we have to be picky about who we would allow to fill that role; it should be someone whom you love, trust, and respect. Someone whose answer to tough questions would align to your own family's core values.

For us, that friend is Jacquelyn. She and I have known each other for years as we grew up at the same church together. Her parents did our pre-marriage counseling and have been friends of our family for a long time. Jacquelyn is eight years younger than me. When we first started hanging out together it was the summer before her freshman year in high school. I was newly married and teaching a high school girls' Bible study out of my apartment along with my friend, LeAnn. Jacquelyn attended the study that summer and for the next several summers as well. Later, after high school, she moved to New York City to go to college and pursue a career in the fashion industry. When she moved back to Oklahoma City, we reconnected one afternoon over lunch and have been good friends ever since. For nearly four years now, she has been coming over to my house once a week to eat dinner and hang out with my family. Hannah and Leah adore her and see her as a cool aunt or big sister. They love spending time with her.

I can't say enough good things about my sweet friend. She is beautiful, smart, funny, witty, carries herself with confidence, and lives life with passion. And more than any of these things, her life truly reflects her love for our Father God. She is like my little sister as well as my friend. I know I could trust her to be a positive mentor to my girls since her life reflects the one mentioned in Proverbs 31. I am so glad she is a part of our "circle."

Check out Jacquelyn's blog Cover to Cover!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sand Plums and Soapberries

Saturday afternoon we had some more spring-like weather here, so we did what we love to do most-- go outside!! Mike stayed home with Lucas since he wasn't completely up to par, while the girls and I met my dad at Martin Nature Center for a walk. Growing up, my parents took me outside on a lot of "adventures." We went bird watching, hiking, camping, and exploring. Some of my favorite memories with them are of being outside in nature together. Time sort of stands still for awhile when I am in the Great Outdoors with my family.
Leah and Hannah "running the logs".

Ready to explore
Geese flying in a bright blue sky
Frozen pond
Papa and Hannah watching for birds
Leah on our "swinging tree"
We found a bird' s nest on the trail and spent some time wondering if the mother bird was worried that she had lost it.
Tiptoeing across the stream

While walking the trails at the nature center, my dad would stop and point out different things: a Sand Plum thicket, the thick, rough bark of a Hackberry tree, or a bird's nest high up in a branch. He would bend over and show the girls a Sumac bush or reach up to pluck a few berries off a Soapberry tree. At one point Hannah told him, "You sure know a lot about a lot of things, Papa!" Then Leah chimed in, "Yeah! You know all about trees and bushes and berries and prickles!" I am so glad they get to hang out with such a smart, gentle, patient and knowledgeable Grandpa.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Late Sunday Post

My Little Man has been running a fever today and has been having some seriously stinky, explosive diapers, so....I haven't had a chance to write much today. Instead I've been doing lots of the following: smelling dirty diapers, cleaning up a cute, but stinky, baby bottom, doing laundry (and lots of it), repeat.

His fever has broken and he is currently snuggling up next to his Daddy, his favorite green blanket in hand, watching The Golden Globes in the dim light of our living room. His sisters are in bed, and I think I'm going to go collapse on the couch and watch with them for awhile.

Hope you had a great Sunday!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Resourceful

One of the many character qualities I hope for my kids to develop is resourcefulness. The definition of resourceful is "the ability to deal skillfully and promptly with new situations or difficulties."

I hope that when a problem arises, they they learn to quickly and effectively look for a solution. Whether that be in a friendship or problem at school, or even as simple as learning to whip up a meal for themselves using whatever ingredients they have on hand. I hope that they "see the glass as half full" in life, and are able to tackle the bumps in the road along the way.

This week I saw a bit of resourcefulness in my Leah Bee when she came to me with a Barbie in hand saying that she had nothing for her to wear to a ball. Apparently we have more Barbies than appropriate ball attire for them to wear.

My suggestion to her? Try to make your own ball gown. So she did. She tried to make one out of paper first, but it was too stiff and just didn't look right. Then she discovered coffee filters. She cut and taped and fiddled with the soft filters until she had fashioned the perfect Barbie party dress. She was so proud of herself too! I think that girl just may be developing some resourceful qualities indeed.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Dance Central

Lately we have been having a dance party at our house every evening. We got the girls (and us too really) a Kinect for Christmas. We have a river rafting ride, an animal game, and Dance Central which is by far our favorite. I mean, with dance moves called "Love Warrior", "Sky Taffy", and "Booty Bump" how could you not love it?!

Our favorite thing to do is have dance battles. Each player gets to choose a song and a dancer to follow along with. I personally love "Rump Shaker" with "Miss Aubrey," a British Pop Princess who can talk a lot of smack.

My girls always pick "Pokerface" or "Pump Up the Jam" with "Dare," another British gal with pink hair, neon colored clothes, and upside-down heart shaped sunglasses. We have been practicing our moves and are getting pretty good, ya'll. Here are some photos from last night's dance extravaganza.

Me mid jump with the kids ready to join in at any time.
Leah"Dare" Galloway
Hannah ready to "Throw it Up"
Lucas watching on as I get my groove on.
Everybody Freestyle!!

So who wants to come over this weekend and have a dance battle?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Resting My Brain

I did something completely lazy and self-indulgent this morning. And afterwards my brain and body felt completely rested. You see, after the whirlwind of our morning routine getting the girls dressed, fed, ready for school, and out the door, I felt really exhausted. Just mentally wiped out at 8:30 am. Sad, but true. Then my mom called and told me that her doctor decided he wants to open up her chest again to clean out the infection. The surgery will be today at 2:00. Then I played with Lucas until he went down for his morning nap at 9:45.

After all of that, I went back to my bedroom to make up my bed. I stood there a minute looking at my comfortable, soft sheets, and then I did something I usually never do-- I crawled back under the covers, turned out the light and closed my eyes. Unless I am sick, I hardly ever get back in bed again during the day. But my brain needed to be quiet, so I decided a thirty minute rest would be alright.

And that is exactly what I did. I closed my eyes and was completely still for about half an hour. The only sound in the house was the hum of the heater which lulled me into a state of half-sleep/half-consciousness. I thought about what I needed to accomplish today. I thought and prayed about my mom's surgery this afternoon. Tundra saw this as a golden opportunity to get some snuggling in with me, so she settled in next to me too.
Thirty minutes passed, and I got up, took a hot shower, and now feel like I can face the day.

Do you ever have to just stop and rest your brain like that?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Just Like Sister


Brushing his teeth with Leah
This little boy of mine wants to grow up and do things just like his sisters do. He is thrilled beyond belief when they allow him to play with them as they build with blocks, color a picture, or play with their stuffed animals. He smiles and squeals loudly when they chase after him saying, "I'm gonna get you!" And when they kick a ball around with him, he just beams with delight.

He is usually the first child up in the mornings. I take him into the kitchen and feed him his favorite breakfast of waffles and yogurt, then I ask him, "You want to go wake up your sissies?" He instantly raises his hands up in the universal way of expressing, "Get me out of this high chair!" He smiles and starts waving as soon as we begin walking down the hall to their room. He likes for me to lean him down to each sister so he can give them a hug.

My hope for these three kids of mine is that they grow up to have a loving, healthy relationship with each other. That they spend time together, even as they move on and have families of their own. Nothing would thrill me more to see them together laughing, encouraging, and serving each other. As an only child I missed out on an opportunity to have a sibling to share life with, so I am excited to watch these three grow up together.

Lord, help me teach these children to love you with all their hearts, minds, souls and strength, so that they can in turn love others as much as they love themselves. Help them to work out their differences in a healthy way, and plant a seed of unconditional love for each other deep into their hearts.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Must Have Toys

When I first became a parent a little over six years ago, I had no idea the mass toy accumulation that was coming my way. It is staggering how much stuff one can acquire for such a small human (or humans in our case). We found ourselves weeding out toys into a giveaway pile about every six months and constantly planning out what creative methods we were going to use to organize and store what was leftover!

Well, after six years, we have discovered that there are about five basic types of toys that get played with the most. If you have a little one, make sure to stock up on the following.

1. Wooden Blocks: These get played with over and over and over again. The girls love to build castles, a zoo, and most recently a Wipeout obstacle course (Ya know, after the show Wipeout? They love that show.). And Lucas enjoys building a block tower and then knocking it over, again and again and again....
2. Books: I'm not sure these count as a "toy", but having a stocked library of children's books at home is a wonderful thing. Not only do we read books throughout the day and especially at bedtime, but the girls will play school and read their books to their "students" (aka stuffed animals). You just can't go wrong here!
3. Dress-Up Clothes: We have a big plastic tub stuffed full of various costumes and dress-up clothes. The girls still love to pretend to be princesses, fairies, ballet dancers, etc. They like making up their own costumes too. My tips for a good dress-up box: 1.) Go to the store the day after Halloween to stock up on various costumes usually marked down 50% or 75%. 2.) Check out your local thrift store or Goodwill for old prom dresses, funny old coats, and sparkly tops (for girls especially!), 3.) Go into your own closet and look around. My girls love to put on my scarves and high heels. Throw on some sunglasses and they feel like movie stars! Hours of entertainment, I tell you!
4. Stuffed Animals: For some children, dolls might be a better option, but my girls have never gravitated toward dolls. Barbies, yes, but baby dolls, no. Instead they LOVE stuffed animals. They play school with the animals, take them to the animal doctor, sort them out into families, replay favorite books, etc. Each and every one has a specific name and personality too!

5.) Food: We have a large box full of both wooden and plastic food and dishes that the girls still play with quite frequently. The photo above is of a picnic spread just waiting for some stuffed animal visitors. A good kitchen set is a bonus (we used to have one until we literally wore it out), but it is not absolutely necessary if space/money is an issue. My girls happily play without one now, but did enjoy "cooking" on their old kitchen stove.

In addition my girls are crazy about horses, Barbies, and dinosaurs, but they go through phases with those things. For a few weeks they will be engrossed with a dino drama, but then as soon as it started, the dinos will go back into the box for awhile. And of course I would recommend always having plenty of paper, crayons, markers, watercolors, play dough, etc. on hand for drawing and creating. But I consider those things in the "art supply" category instead of "toys".

What were your favorite toys as a child? What about for your child/children now?

**Parts of this list might be different for boys, but I am basing this off of my experience with little girls!