Toy Box Essentials Checklist

Toy Box Essentials ChecklistWe have got SO many toys in our house. I come from a huge family and the gift exchange at birthdays and Christmas gets a little cray-cray. I will admit that I get sucked into it all too. I’ve been that person who is staggering around the shops with an overloaded trolley and a crazed look in their eyes.

Sometimes it can all get a little overwhelming when I’m staring at rows and rows of toys and trying to decide what to buy. Especially when one kid is pulling on my leg while another kid is screaming in my ear. So there are a few simple things that I try to keep in mind when looking for the best toys for the littlies in my life:

Super Simple Toy Box Essentials Checklist

» Long lasting

Good toys last the distance. They can take slobbering, banging, riding and lots and lots and lots of play. There is nothing worse that a child happily playing away with their new toy, only for the wheels to fall off on the first go. Cue the tears!

» Challenging

The best toys provide a bit of a challenge. Not too much – just enough to keep children wanting more. Kids like to feel good at stuff, but if it’s too easy then they will just get bored and move on to something else.

» Able to be used in more ways than one

Kids are pretty good at finding inventive ways of using toys, and the best toys give kids lots of options for different play. Pebble used to love her Rock-a-Stack – not just for stacking but for dolls crowns, bracelets, swimming rings, pretend donuts, colour sorting and matching. Great toys kick start the imagination.

» Good value

Good value does not mean cheap. Cheap toys will lead to tears (see my first point!). Good value means that it ticks all the other points on this checklist AND is affordable.

Fisher-Price Giveaway

This is why I’m so excited to be a Play Ambassador for Fisher-Price. Not only do their  toys tick all the boxes but they also offer a mix of classic toys, like the Fisher-Price Chatter Phone, and new technology, like the Fisher-Price Apptivity Storybook Reader. With over 80 years in the toy making business, Fisher-Price toys have been much loved in toy boxes over generations. Do you remember playing with these classics when you were a kid?

Toy Box Essentials - Fisher Price GiveawayToy Box Essentials - Fisher Price Giveaway

Super big thanks to Octavia and Vicky fans and friends for sharing their photos of their children (and husband!). (1) Kelly’s baby boy, Alexander. (2) Fiona’s baby boy. (3) Katey’s husband (now 34 years old!). Check out Katey’s blog -> Playing and Learning Begins at Home. (4) Christie’s daughter, AJ. Visit Christie’s blog -> Childhood 101.

And guess what, you lucky ducks? Thanks to Fisher-Price I’m giving away over $150 worth of toy box essentials to one happy reader. This box of awesome will include  1 x Rock-A-Stack, 1 x Chatter Phone, 1 x Laugh & Learn Apptivity Storybook Reader, 1 x Giggle Gang, 1 x Love to Play Sis and 1 x Laugh and Learn Puppy.

Toy Box Essentials Checklist - Fisher Price Giveaway 2

To enter please leave a comment on this post sharing your child’s most loved toy.

Conditions of entry:

  • Entries will be judged based on creativity and originality.
  • You may enter as many times as you like.
  • Australian entries only (sorry international readers!)
  • The winner will be notified by email. Please leave your email address when entering your comment.
  • The winner must claim their prize within 14 days of notification or forfeit the prize.
  • Competition ends Wednesday, 7 August 2013, midnight AEST.

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Kylie @ Octavia and Vicky

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Open Ended Play with Chalk and Puddles

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Open Ended Play with Chalk and Puddles

We’ve had lots of puddles to jump in lately thanks to this lovely winter weather. Like most children, Pebble adores puddle jumping. One day I added some chalk to her outside play and she spent a wonderful afternoon imagining, creating and playing.

Pebble imagined a fairy pond, drawing a family of fairies and a path for them to follow to the pond. She drew with lots of colour in the pond, creating rainbow coloured blooms and added a leaf boat. Pebble gathered ‘magic’ stones and sprinkled them around the fairy pond, setting the scene for fairy play.

Sometimes the simplest of things can lead to the most imaginative and creative adventures.

We played and learned: 

  • jumping in puddles
  • drawing with chalk on wet cement
  • drawing with chalk in puddles
  • story telling
  • hypothesising about what would happen if we more poured water onto the drawings
  • pouring water onto chalk drawings and observing the changes

Open Ended Play with Chalk and Puddles Open Ended Play with Chalk and PuddlesOpen Ended Play with Chalk and Puddles Open Ended Play with Chalk and Puddles 2Open Ended Play with Chalk and PuddlesWhat stories have your children been telling?


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30-52 Pebble

Pebble – 3 years, 6 months – she is so completely in love with this swan that she made (tutorial from The Craft Train).

30-52 Rocky

Rocky – 20 weeks – such a chubba bubba!

A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013

52 A Portrait a Week

Kylie @ Octavia and Vicky

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Honey Soy and Garlic Prawns with Capsicum and Snow Peas

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Sponsored by Nuffnang.

Honey Soy and Garlic Prawns

Remember that Asian banquet that my sister and I cooked up for our family? I hope you all enjoyed the Teriyaki and Sesame Lamb recipe – we certainly enjoyed eating it! As promised here is a second recipe using the Maggi Stir Fry Creations range – Honey, Soy and Garlic Prawns with Capsicum and Snow Peas. Don’t forget to read to the end for the best. giveaway. ever.

This little winner has a delicious sweet flavour without being too sticky and overpowering like some sauces can be. The crisp snow peas and crunchy capsicum were a perfect match with slippery, slurpy noodles. I love the amount of sauce that comes with the Maggi Stir Fry Creations range, it’s just right amount to coat the noodles and give a kick of flavour. I’d like to try the Honey, Soy and Garlic Stir Fry with chicken, bok choy and broccoli too. I think that would be so yummy!

The Maggi Stir Fry Creations range made is so easy to throw together a fresh and tasty dinner for our family. Just two steps and dinner is on the table – not just any dinner either. One that is healthy, well balanced and full of flavour. I’m going to make sure that I’ve always got some Maggi Stir Fry Creations in the pantry, then I’ll know that dinner is never far away, especially on those busy days.

Honey, Soy and Garlic Prawns with Capsicum and Snow Peas

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Serves: 6

1 tablespoon peanut oil
600g medium green prawns, shelled and deveined
1 packet Maggi Honey, Soy and Garlic Stir Fry Creations
200g green beans, trimmed
350g broccoli, trimmed, cut into florets
450g fresh hokkien noodles

1. Coat the prawns in the Infusion Paste and set aside for 2 – 5 minutes.
2. Prepare the noodles according to packet directions.
3. Heat half the oil in a wok over high heat. Add half the prawns and stir fry for 2 – 3 minutes or until cooked through. Transfer to a plate.
4. Heat the remaining oil in the wok and stir fry the capsicum and snow peas for 3 minutes, or until vegetables are bright and tender crisp.
5. Add the prawns, drained noodles and Finishing Sauce to the pan and cook for a further 2 minutes before serving.


Thanks to Maggi Stir Fry Creations one lucky reader will win a Scanpan Wok, a $100 Coles Voucher and the entire Maggi Stir Fry Creations range.


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Wise Words

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every day may not be good but there is something good in every day - 52 weeks of grateful{image}

One day, when Rocky was just weeks old, I was at the supermarket with both kids. I stumbled through the aisles, incoherent thoughts tumbling through my mind, barely able to recall the three items I was there for. It had been a bad night. Really bad. As I zombie shuffled towards the milk an elderly woman stopped me.

“This is the best time of your life”, she smiled. I wanted to punch her.

That moment feels light years ago. Now that I’ve had a little more sleep I’m starting to understand what that woman might have been trying to say. I don’t think those were ever going to be the words that I wanted to hear in that moment . I don’t think that this is THE best time of my life (hell, some small moments are THE WORST!). But it’s true that I will never get this moment, this day, back again. With that in mind, today I spent a lovely whack of time gobbling my babies cheeks, covering him in kisses and making giggles bubble out of him with my snappy crocodile hands.

This week I’m grateful for reflecting on wise words.

Practising gratitude is helping me to reflect on life’s best and worst moments, to lighten the load and lighten my heart. Thank you to those of you who linked up last week, I always enjoy reading your grateful words. Here are just a few that I connected with:

    • Natalie is grateful for Friday fish and chip night – oh, me too! We have been having a take away treat every now and again, which is a bit of a change for us. It’s so nice that on a rough day I can say ‘bugger it!’ and let someone else take care of dinner.
    • Tat being grateful for giving herself permission to let a few things go, and finding gratitude flowing freely. I have been practising letting go a bit too (hello, dust bunnies!).
    • Nat is grateful for the sick kids roundabout to be slowing down. Me too! It’s been a couple of weeks of snot and coughs around here but it seems to finally be easing. To think that winter used to be my favourite season!
    • Elisa is grateful for finding new places to spend time with her kids. We recently found a lovely little play space, hidden away from it all and just right for Pebble.