Monday, November 26, 2007

My Neighbor Totoro

This is by far my favorite animated film. (Okay, I do have a soft spot for Mulan, too.) The story is fanciful, even bordering on the bizarre if you take the cat bus into account. Two sisters, ages 4 and 11, are living in the country in 1950s Japan. Their mother is in the hospital with TB, and their father is a professor. The sisters develop a relationship with the local forest spirits, or totoro, who come to their aid when things go wrong.

Written and directed by Japanese legend Hayao Miyazaki, the character design and animation are breathtaking. Mai's character is imbued with the essence of little girl as she busily investigates her new house.

There are some tense bits to this movie, mostly when Mai (the four-year-old) gets lost. But everything ends happily; watch the beginning of the credits to see mom arriving home from the hospital.

Adults should also check out Spirited Away, and Kiki's Delivery Service is great for six and up.

Finally, for .25 a pop you can pick up a bushel of wooden acorns from Casey's Wood to make little tied-up packages just like Totoro's. I was going to make them as stocking stuffers but decided the acorns are a little small for my still-mouthy one-year-old.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Kick it, funky snowman!

This selection of goofy poems is one of our favorite reads. Calef Brown has a knack for the ridiculous.

Ronan's favorite part? When the polkabats drop polkaturds on a bystander's unsuspecting head.

Calef has a few other books of poetry, but this one remains at the top of our list.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Why I love Hanna

Andersson, that is. This photo shows my son wearing his new deck pants in May 2006. He also wore them today, and it's late November 2007. They're above his knees now, but still fit.

HA uses a lot of organic cotton, and their styles are colorful and classic. Also, I've found that stains are much more likely to come out than in other brands.

Hanna can be expensive, but if you get on their email list for sales, you can catch good deals. And even if you don't live near one of their outlet stores, you can call them. Tell them you're looking for deck pants or playdresses or whatever, and they'll tell you what colors they have in stock and ship them to you.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Tempting, but...

When I first saw this set in a catalog, I was all ready to put it on the Christmas list for Grandma to buy. A felt mailbox with a flag that moves and mail that has velcro stamps and addresses?? Fabulous! But then I saw that it costs $50.

I'm not someone who particularly enjoys doing crafty things. But really, how hard would it be to make a mailbox out of a shoebox, and then make lots of your own mail? Even my son, who also isn't very crafty, would enjoy doing that project, I think.

On the other hand, maybe this is a perfect gift from grandma. I'm not going to judge.

(And it's made in the USA. I saw it in the Chasing Fireflies catalog.)

A hybrid of sorts

This is the limo my son built using his two Automoblox cars. They're a multipurpose toy, because they're cars, but they can be rebuilt into different configurations, and the people come out. In my son's world, the people are always multitasking. As they're waiting for their vehicles to be fixed, they're heading off to Costco or Target (and they're always allowed to buy toys!).

The wheels are rubber that rolls nicely over hard floors. They are made in China. The construction quality is nice, but they can get damaged through very rough play. We've had ours almost a year, and I definitely give them a thumbs up! I think you really need at least two of these to take advantage of the rebuilding possibilities. We bought them at FatBrain Toys.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Thirty minutes on an airplane

That's what this $14 hide & seek board bought me. Which, if you've ever flown with a 1-1/2 year old, you know is worth every penny. Each door opens to show a magnetic animal or object that can be removed. We didn't even lose any of the pieces!

Another hit was the sticker book her brother had just finished doing (Usborne's Wooly Stops the Train). She spent fifteen minutes carefully peeling the stickers off and sticking them on the window and all over me.

The magnet board is by Melissa & Doug -- I purchased it from Amazon.