The Perfect Present: Or how important is this stupid toy?

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A week ago we received my husband’s Christmas bonus, and I was dying to spend it.  For a month I had been checking on various Lego products searching for the perfect gift Sean.  Sean enjoys playing with our one Duplo boy, putting and taking him in and out of Evan’s police vehicles.  He’ll sit playing with the little boy for a half an hour which is like two hours in toddler time.  He needs more of these characters.


For weeks I debated which ones to buy him.  There was the awesome zoo vehicle set with two cars, two people and several animals, but it turns out that hadn’t been made for a while because people were charging twice the amount.  There was the police station with a car, a policeman, and a bad guy, but something about giving an 18 month a bad guy just didn’t sit well with me.  I finally decided to buy the police boat kit with two boats and four policemen.  Perfect.


But first I wanted to check the stores so that I could get around the shipping and handling fees.  Wal-Mart?  No.  Target?  No.  Toys ‘r’ us?  Nope.  The Lego Store?  Surprisingly no, though they had several police stations.  But the boat was cheaper with more men.


So last week, the morning after my husband placed the money in my hands, I went online to order the police boat.  When I went to click on the “add” button, instead there was a little note asking me to call for availability.




Call who?  What number?  WHAT?


Is worth it?  Is it worth tracking down a toy that I don’t know if he’ll even want it?  As I debated I watched Sean put the little man back into the police car.  Yes.


I scrolled down the page, looking for any sign of a 1-800 number, finding one in tiny print at the bottom of the page.


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Looking at the clock, I wondered how long this would take as I was wasting valuable shower time.  We had to go to Wal-Mart that day, and as you know, every minute is precious to get there before the crowds.  I mean we really needed to go because we needed Kleenex for running noses, art supplies for presents, and toys for Santa.  Damn.  How long will I have to be on hold?


Our agents are currently busy helping other customers.  Please hold on because we are answering calls in the order we receive them.


Hmm, I can’t place that song.


Ring.  Ring. Click.


No!  No!  They didn’t just hang up on me.  You didn’t just hang up on me!  I looked at the phone.  5 minutes and 40 seconds.  No!


Is it worth it?  Is this toy worth it?  I imagine Sean’s face on Christmas morning.


Where’s that number again?


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Look, we need Tootles.  Oh, Tootles!


It’s “The Girl from Ipanema.”  Good song.  I dance around the house.  Thank God this isn’t a health emergency and that I don’t have a baby crying demanding something.  It could be worse. 


Our agents are currently busy helping other customers.  Please hold on because we are answering calls in the order we receive them.


Sean will be so excited about this toy.  He’ll push the boats around the family room as the skid on the carpet.  He’ll play with the police men.  I wonder if I should get him some police cars like Evan’s or if Evan is still content to share.  We could always use more cars in the house.  What else do I need to get at Wal-Mart?  I look over the shopping list as well as the day’s to-do list.


Here, Sean.  Do you want some juice?  No, Evan, that’s Sean’s jui-


Ring.  Ring.


Hello, this is Steve.  Can I assist you in a purchase?


Me: Only if you have it.


Steve: All right.  Do you have the product number?


Me: 12345


Steve: 12345?  The Police Boat?


Me: Yup.


Steve: It says “Call for availability.”  (Duh)  You’ll have to call our customer service department.  (What?)  Would you like that number?


Me: Sure, why not?


Steve: It’s 1-800-*********.  Is there anything else I can do for you?


Me: Nope.


Steve: Thank you for choosing Lego.

My pleasure.  Click.


Is it worth it?  Thirteen minutes, nearly half my “me” time.  I could just go get the police station.  It’s not like Sean knows about the boat or the car.  I scanned the website again, clicking on the customer service button.  But the boat actually has better reviews.  It has more police men.  What’s one more phone call?


Our agents are currently busy helping other customers.  Please hold on because we are answering calls in the order we receive them.


Ring.  Ring.


Lego Customer Service Department.  This is Carol.  How can I help you?


Me: Well, I’m checking on availability of a product.


Carol: I can assist you with that.  May I have the product number?


Me: 12345.


Carol: 12345?  The Police Boat?


Me: Yes.


Carol: It says there are two left.  (Pause for a cheer.)


Me: (Too stunned to cheer) How can I buy it?  Who can I call?


Carol: I can assist you with that. 


Me: Really?  That’s awesome.  Thank you.


Carol: No problem.  Have you shopped with us before?


Me: No.  (a few minutes to take the information)


Carol: Now it is possible that this item may have been sold out in the last hour, and the computer may not have updated the inventory.


Me: (Damn.  I forgot what I learned in my years of retail.  Computers lie.)  When will I find that out?


Carol: Two days.  We won’t charge you unless it’s shipped.


Me: And how long will it take to ship?


Carol: To California?  Five to seven business days.


Me: Well, ok, thank you.


Carol: Thank you.




So for the last four days I have waited for the dreaded email of apology, debating how I can slip away to the Lego Store to buy a police station and a box of Duplos for Evan.  I obsessively checked my email all weekend, knowing that that they didn’t work on weekend.  I debated the whole idea of the police boat kit, checking my bank account to see if I’ve been charged. 


Today this was in the inbox:



Your LEGO Order has Shipped


Let’s just hope we get it before Saturday as I didn’t have the heart to tell Carol that I needed it shipped to my parents’ house where Santa is going.



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More Christmas Crafts for Children, Toddlers, and Babies

I worked on some more crafts and ornaments with the boys.  The handprint tiles and dishtowels can work with babies too, but baby handprints are hard to do.  Older children can do more of the work like making the applesauce ornaments on their own.


I thought I would mention some other gift ideas too.  Every year I give out the jar mixes to couples and families.  They’re a real cute gift, and you’re giving them the gift of time to spend with each other baking and eating.  This is a great site:  The people I have given these to love them.  This is also a great gift to make with children.  I have also made candles and soaps.  With the soaps I added a little toy in the middle for a neat surprise.  One year I added charms to the candles. 


Here is a great site for homemade ornamets:  I Plan on making the Festive Paper Pines for my soon-to-be sister-in-law.

A warning: DO NOT MAKE THE CANDY GLASS ORNAMENTS!  I did this last year, and the ornaments got sticky before I was even able to give them away.  They messed up gifts, and it was horrible.



Applesauce Ornaments

(I had a lot of fun making these last year, and I plan to make more this year.  Hopefully Evan will be big enough to help me.  These look so cute, and they smell so nice.  These take up to three days to dry)


Things you need:

  • ½ cup of cinnamon
  • ½ cup of applesauce
  • Bowl
  • Wax paper
  • Cookie cutters
  • Straw
  • Ribbon
  • Rolling pin (optional)
  • Wire rack (optional)


Mix the applesauce and cinnamon together.  It will become very stiff.  Roll into a boll and place on the wax paper.  You can either flatten it with your hand or use another sheet of wax paper and a rolling pin.  Flatten to ¼ to 1/8 of an inch.  (The thicker it is the longer it takes to dry, but it’s hardier.)  Using the cookie cutters, cut out shapes.  Use the straw to make a hole for the ribbon.  If you have a wire rack, place the ornaments there as they will dry quicker, or you can leave them on some wax paper.  They will turn a lighter brown as they dry.  String with ribbon, and tie the ribbon.



Contact Paper Ornaments

(The boys and I did these yesterday.  We tried glitter and confetti, but those did not work out.  The boys had fun.  Sean really liked putting the paper down.   If you have any of the dyed coffee filters left over {See craft section if you have no idea what I’m talking about}, they look great as collage strips.)


Things you need:

  • Clear contact paper
  • Cookie cutters
  • Marker
  • Scissors
  • Colored tissue paper or other nice paper
  • Hole punch
  • Ribbon
  • Markers, glitter glue (optional)


Trace the cookie cutter shapes on the contact paper.  Cut the tissue paper into squares or shapes.  Allow the child to place the paper on the sticky contact paper.  When the child is done decorating, seal the artwork with another piece of contact paper.  Cut out the shape.  Punch a hole in the top.  If you wish, the child can decorate the top of the ornament.  String a piece of ribbon through the hole, and tie the ribbon.



Handprint Hot Plates

(We did this the other day.  We used ink because it shows the detail of the handprint, but you can use washable paint {That would come off easier than the washable ink}.  Don’t forget to write the child’s name and date.  Or if your child can write his or her name, let he or she do it.  I got the idea from here:


Things you need:

  • Ceramic tile 6×6
  • Washable ink or washable paint
  • Sealer or enamel spray
  • Magic marker
  • Felt feet (optional)


Paint the child’s hand with ink or paint.  Place the child’s hand on the tile.  Allow for the handprint to dry.  Write the child’s name on the tile.  Seal the time.  You can put felt feet on the bottom of the tile to protect it.



Handprint Dish Towels

(These were really cute.  And any excuse to get their hands wet is good enough for the boys.  I thought these matched well with the tiles.  And I can’t find the site I got this from, but I’ll keep looking.)


Things you need:

  • White dish towels
  • Fabric paint
  • Paper plate or pie tin


Wash the dish towels.  Paint the child’s hand with the fabric paint or dip the child’s hand into the paint on the plate.  Place the child’s hand on the dish towel.  You can do both hands or make a boarder.  Write the name and date.  Allow the towels to dry.



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