Holiday Shopping Guide / Product Parade

Or should I call it “Daph’s Favorite Things”? More like I got worn down by press releases. I get so many emails everyday from companies asking me to put their products in my “holiday gift guide”… but I don’t have a holiday gift guide. There’s a barrel of other sites that do a great job of listing products and I do it very infrequently. Then I thought, ah heck, I will throw them a bone. I will have a Holiday gift guide!  You see how suggestive I am?  Glad they didn’t ask me to hide nukes in my suitcase.

My first pick is one I found ON MY OWN and LOVE. It’s a diffuser. Yes, those sticks that jut out of a glass bottle and are supposed to cover the smell of crap. Most of them do nothing. Then, a few months ago, I stumbled across a gal at the Renegade Craft Fair in Downtown LA selling her good smelling wares and I become a devotee. Pure Palette scents. It’s a one gal band. Well priced. She also has candles, which I bet are also great, but with little kids I prefer no open flames in the house. She will be at the Renegade Holiday Craft Fair this weekend and I will be stocking up.

How about cute, old-fashioned style gift tags that also help feed hungry kids? These gift tags from Share Our Strength are inexpensive and put a little “spirit of the season” on all the material things we covet.

WHY WHY WHY? As mentioned before on this site, your kids can help you to realize what a dumb ass you are. That’s why I like the sound of these Worx toys. They are trucks, helicopters, and fire engines that also tell you HOW they work. Because when my kids ask me, their liberal arts, alternative education mom has NO idea. I have not gotten one yet. I hope too soon, and if it’s as cool as it sounds I’ll let you know.  But it’s worth a look! Price is $30 to $65 and at least in my area it’s in smaller retailers which I also like.

One I was sent too late for the vid, but love is Prank Pack.  Very Mad magazine, wacky packs, silly stuff.  You wrap a good gift in one and people thing they are getting some lame “see on TV” product like a “beer beard”.

I am in the blogger category of “no, big company, I will not publicize your giveaway/FB contest unless you are a sponsor of some sort or provide a solid giveaway for my readers which help make this sight a place to return to.”  But, sometimes a smaller company, a particularly charming pitch and here I am.  That pretty much what happened with the ones in this vid.  (One product in my vid Vitacare toothpaste I do miss now that it is gone. I liked the toothpaste more than the mouthwash though.) Thanks to Vivien for not only adding her talent, but as you will see, her production skills to this.

Toy Audit

One of the opportunities that moving affords is the ability to start anew. I won’t have a pile of crap on my kitchen counter here. Oh, no, it will be an “everything has its place” kind of house. And what a good time to take stock of our bins of toys, right? While I’m at it, I think I will involve my five-year-old in the process. Yes, I’m a flipping genius.


All toys scatter, but the toys that are suppose to cling together and don’t, those are really a headache. Sadly, most of the cartoon channels out there have super cheesy commercials that make cheap, messy toys seem accessible. Today Vivien asked for a “huge cupcake maker.” As I ran to the TV to turn it off saying, “No, and it won’t do what it says.”  She actually said,

“But, wait, there’s more!”

Now, if it was a set of steak knives maybe we could negotiate.

Who Would Buy a Bratz?

Why would any mom buy their daughter a Bratz doll? This lady did and then discovered the doll had the word “Enter” on her belt buckle. But the outrageous lips and hooker outfit were okay?

I was so glad when Mattel won the Bratz case. I think like Bush/Cheney and Bernie Madoff, the people who manufactured the Bratz deserved to be punished. No one made people buy the dolls, right? Yes, but we arrest drug dealers as well. They don’t make people buy drugs, but there is a consensus that society could run more smoothly without them. No fit on the toy store floor would make me buy one of these trampy dolls.

Creative Commons License photo credit: rejohnson71

It’s hard not to tell my daughter that she is beautiful. One thing that I so admire about her is that she hates when I call her that. “No, mommy, I’m smart, strong, and brave.” My thought: Yes, of course you are, and that is what I should be reinforcing in you. Her own innate survival skills are already superior to my own. I’ll buy her the smart, strong, and brave doll. The one who can fix things, doesn’t run up her credit card, is honest to people, graduates from a good college. And doesn’t have Lisa Rinna lips.

And The Winner Is…

…No, not the Emmy Awards. I couldn’t watch more than 20 minutes – just wanted to see the clothes.

I’m talking about the winner of the 3rd Birthday Present award. Out of all of the super cool gifts Vivien got this week, so far the one that has made her the most gaga is this Music Box. It arrived this morning from her friend Mercy (via her mom, of course).  She was absolutely mesmerized by this good, old-fashion keepsake. Vivien insisted on taking it to school where many of the kids were also enchanted. It plays “Beautiful Dreamer” and is from Enchantmints.

Music Box

She also really liked the “decorate your own crown” from her friend Charlie as well as playing with the t-ball set with dad last night. But today, the music box has been kept near.

Can’t blame her. I still have my little log cabin music box I was given at about 5 or 6. I still get a kick out of it when I open it and it plays “Edelweiss.”

Those G– D— Party Favors!

Vivien’s third birthday was Sunday. Naturally, what started as a small gathering in our backyard grew larger and similar in price to the Fed bailout. Invite a few kids, with parents and my relatives, and it was about 30-plus folks. That’s okay: I handled the food (ordered from my husband’s restaurant, naturally), got balloons, rented a couple of tables for outside, had a kid-entertainer who took Viv’s sour morning mood and made her harmonica-playing happy – literally. And I ordered a yummy cake (sidebar: from the most inept bakery, with the worst customer service – Sweet Lady Jane on Melrose in LA). But here’s what got my panties in a bundle: The party favors!

Daphne and Viv at School

I delayed getting them until the afternoon before the party, so I was overwhelmed at the task. And I found one site that said I should “make the favors memorable.” Oh, for the love of Pete!

It used to be that favors were the same junk you found in piñatas: A little plastic whistle, some candy. Now they are real toys. At a party a few months ago, one mom gave each kid three toys in a bag – I’m talking good Melissa & Doug toys. I think the biggest reason to have favors is to help parents get the screaming kid out the door. “I know you don’t want to leave, but here is a present for you, if you do!”

I called my mom and asked her what to do. She said, “I can’t help you. When you were a kid we didn’t have to give favors.” True, the favor at my kiddie parties was a small paper cup of jellybeans that the kids munched on before cake. In a couple of years, it won’t just be favors. Soon, at kiddie parties they will have gifting suites.

And another thing: At the party, three separate kids came up to me and asked, “Where is the piñata?” I sai, honestly, “No piñata: I don’t like them.” Little kids waving around a big stick and finally some dad has to step in to whack it? The whole thing stresses me out.

Toys Gone Bad

You know how you cease to see your own junk, but if you go to someone else’s house, you can instantly see where some discarding and organization is in order?  Well, I just took notice of TOYS that need to go. First off, this sandbox came with our house and I couldn’t understand why the previous owners left such a darling sandbox.


Then I realized that it was waterlogged, and mushrooms and weeds were growing out of it. Uncovered sand gets funky. Also, there were about 4 dozen old balls that were left by the former kids.  Vivien was excited to find them at first.

deflated play balls

But seriously, do any of these look playable? No. So did I chuck them when we moved in? No. For some reason, I left them around. I don’t know why, unless I thought my kid is so clever, she will find a use even for deflated balls. Yeah, like I ever found a use for those striped palazzo pants I got on sale.

I chucked the broken plastic today. The sandbox’s days are numbered.