When my in-laws were in the US recently, my husband and I took the chance to order products from the American online stores so that they could bring back for us. They have a lot more varieties and cheaper in prices compared to what are available in Singapore. Half of the stuff we ordered are for Buddy, mostly toys and educational materials.
Buddy has shown a deep interest in trains, cars, bus and trucks after he turned two in June. I guess that is typical of boys. When we took him to this toy shop The Better Toy Store (previously located at Takashimaya), he parked himself at the train set; same for the other kids. We thought we might get a starter kit for him, but which one? The shop sells train sets from Plan Toys, which, I was told, is also compatible with Thomas Train brand.
I decided to do some research, and found that there are actually a lot of brands out there. A couple of the high quality popular ones are Brio and Thomas, and of course the prices reflect that. However many of them, whether cheap or expensive, are actually compatible with each other. I then thought of getting a second-hand set from eBay (US site) where there are a lot of train sets and accessories available. But my husband felt we should get a basic set for Buddy first, instead of waiting till mid September for his parents to bring it back.
We went to check out Toys R Us, and I was surprised at the meager offering. Still, Buddy took a fancy to the Percy Take N Play train (the die-cast train series). My husband bought it for him (before I could say no), and he became inseparable from Percy then. I thought I might be able to get cheaper train online, since the little Percy costs more than S$14. I checked out Qoo10 and found the wooden train series, and bought Salty for about S$5 (too bad this is the only series available on the site). My husband then told me we should get a motorized train for Buddy since that is more cool. (I think he wants it as well.) He sent me this link of a motorized Thomas running on Ikea train track, and I have to admit it sure looks fun.
The motorized train is part of the TrackMaster series, and I chose a Thomas with cargo car from Amazon. When my husband opened the box for Buddy, it immediately became his favorite train. But strangely, he didn’t want the cargo car attached, and he also didn’t let Thomas runs on its own. It took a week before he could be persuaded to allow Thomas to run freely, and even now he still doesn’t want the cargo car attached to it. I guess it’s because it’s easier to carry Thomas around without the car. My husband told us to guard Thomas with our lives; wheneverWe bought a basic train set from Ikea, and later an expansion set and bridge set. The diecast train can’t go on the wooden track, but both the wooden train and Trackmaster series move on it just fine. Here is Thomas running along the track.
Whenever we visit my parents, who stay with my brother and his family, Buddy would be fascinated with the little diecast toy cars that his cousin, Yikai, owns. This is a yellow car that Buddy played with and refused to return.
Both my husband and I may be seen as competitive parents. To us, it would be best if we can combine Buddy’s play with learning. We got him this box of 4 jigsaw puzzles when he was about 22 months old for him to try. Initially he was only able to put together the 2-piece puzzle on his own. But we also realized, as he continued to work on the other puzzles that he enjoyed putting the pieces together. Now he can complete all of them without help.
Since Buddy has shown a love for jigsaw puzzles, we wanted to get him something interesting from Amazon, like a fire truck or pirate ship picture. My husband thought this fire truck giant puzzle would be enticing for Buddy. But I wondered if it might be a little too advanced for him since there are 30 pieces. Still my husband felt it would be a good challenge for him, and he could slowly learn to put it together with our help. He had tried it a few times with us, and I must say I also need time to figure it out myself. My husband finally admitted that maybe we should get an intermediate set of 15-piece puzzle for Buddy for the time being.
The Learning Journey brand has a lot of good stuff for preschoolers. We bought a number of learning puzzles for Buddy, like this spelling match-it puzzle set. He is able to piece the words together, though I don’t think it is because he knows how to spell, but it is like a simple jigsaw puzzle for him.
I realized that we need to do more on Buddy’s Mandarin skill, and bought him this cute animal puzzle cards so that he can learn the animal names in Chinese.
I have mentioned in previous post that it has not been easy to get Buddy to bathe. We have tried the rubber ducky, the water piston, the beach pail and scoop, and all only managed to get him into the bath tub for a short period of time before he got tired of them. So we needed something exciting. I chanced upon this set of monster truck squirters on Amazon, and showed my husband. He agreed that this would do the trick to entice Buddy to bathe willingly. When we first showed them to him, he literally ran into the bathroom. He couldn’t decide which one to play with, and kept asking us to give him different trucks. So now, we only limit him to two. But he does have his preferences, like the tow truck and the green jeep are frequently requested.
My father-in-law bought toy balls for Buddy again, adding to the now extensive collection of balls. (Perhaps a Trackmaster train next time, or a HABA toy?) Buddy only tried playing with the soccer ball, but it is a little too heavy for him, and he got frustrated when he couldn’t kick it far enough on the grass field. He prefers the mini soccer ball we got him from Giant supermarket.
Last year, when my father in law made a trip to Germany, my husband told him to get some toys for Buddy. He came back with two, and one was a pretty well-made toy tool box set. We only opened it for Buddy a couple of months back, when he got older, since it is meant for 3+ years old. (Luckily Buddy doesn’t chew or swallow his toys or anything that is non food.)
Initially he wasn’t really interested in the tools, and instead discovered he could turn the tool bench upside down and use it as a stool. But my husband keeps showing him the bolts, nuts, spanner and such, and how to use them. Buddy has now learned to play-act with the hammer and spanner.
Buddy also received a scooter early last year from his uncle and aunt from the US when they stopped by Singapore. Though it comes with a small seat for toddler, Buddy was still too young to use it. We left it in storage until a couple of months ago when I thought Buddy might be able to try it. It was then I realized we could have set up the seat for him earlier. But he likes to scoot around on it though he still can’t steer. We bought him a helmet but he doesn’t like wearing it. We let him off since he can’t move fast. But he is learning to propel himself faster on it, so soon it’ll be helmet or no scooter. But he is pretty headstrong, and will rather forgo the scooter than wear the helmet.