I loved playing with wooden blocks when I was a kid. We keep ours out in the living room so the kids can play with them often (and I can play with them when I put them away, often). We have a set of maybe 100 with a few odds and ends from my childhood and probably my father’s as well added to it. I think of all the blocks I remember having as a kid, now we are down to about 15. Surely we didn’t start out with 100! I described them to my husband, the tall rectangle green ones were dads and the round yellow ones were mothers. The short ones were children. He said, “you mean the ones with the hay bales,” and sure enough, the “boys” were green and hay bale shaped. That is why blocks are a great toy for the imagination, a different toy for each kid.

Speaking of toys that involve hundreds of parts, Jane asked Santa for a Percy train last year, Percy is a companion of the famous Thomas the Tank Engine. Of course, a train must have a track, so we now have a wooden track too. This I keep in the living room so I can play with it on lonely evenings. I have to wait until the kids are in bed, because Leo will come up and swipe his hands across your project and laugh his evil baby laugh as he knocks everything down. It takes a different mind set to build things which are sure to be knocked down before completion. An architect under these circumstances doesn’t spend time on elaborate details, but builds a utilitarian structure.

The best gift I remember getting as a child was a shoebox full of Barbie clothes made by my Aunt Gloria. I played with them, my step daughter Janine played with them, and now the Ladies play with them. I can’t be sure, but I think we still have nearly all of them. I keep the Barbies put up most of the time because I think my daughters are too young to play with dolls that look like that. Technically I think they will never be old enough to play with dolls that look like that. I prefer that they play with baby dolls. We do have some Barbies that stay out most of the time, like Ariel, Jane’s hero. But every chance I get, I put the Barbies away until someone makes a request a few weeks later and I get a few out again for a couple of days.

We went to a wedding last summer, where my niece, Marie married Abdul. This was the first wedding my children remembered attending, and it made a huge impression on the Ladies. They found an older brown haired Barbie to be Marie (although Marie is actually blonde) and dressed her up in the wedding dress my aunt made. Poor Abdul (Ken) only had a velvet cape and a black cowboy hat to wear. It was a pretty drafty ensemble. I found a lady in on Ebay who makes beautiful Barbie and Ken formal clothes, so we invested in a tux. Unfortunately, Marie got an illness common in older Barbies, her neck broke, causing her head to fall off, so I had to find another brown haired Barbie. The New Marie is a beach Barbie complete with tattoo and bare feet.

Those Bratz dolls look skanky. I really don’t want any of those in my house. At least Barbie looks glamorous in a runway model sort of way, not just plain old slutty. I suppose if we get one as a gift, I will do my best to distract the Ladies until I could put it in our garage sale stash. Santa brought Mae a soft doll with the name brand Groovy Girls, that looked kinda like a teenager, but a nice one, the kind you could be friends with. She even came with a change of clothes. We need to look into more of those.

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