Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Skyball – A Basic Toy with a New Twist

Next week I’ll be attending the Fall Time to Play Showcase which will feature new toys coming out in time for the holiday season. But before I start to write about toys that make good Christmas and Hanukkah presents from grandparents, here is a great toy for right now – the Fall. It is an old fashioned ball but with a new twist. It is filled with helium and pressurized air which makes it bounce really high.
I received a free sample at the Spring Time to Play event and frankly it had been sitting in a bag in my office. My grandson is 15 months old and last week, my husband said, “I wish we had a ball to play with.” And presto, Grandma produced a ball. The Skyball has become one of Zach’s favorite toys to play with at our house. It has a snappy look and nice feel and he can grab it in one hand and walk around with it.
My husband, son and I are engineers and we have been examining it with an eye loop and speculating about how it is made, how thick the wall is, what it is really filled with, etc. My grown son loves it. I have been having fun demonstrating for Zach how his Grandma bounces and counts and raises her leg and passes it under her leg. This brings a smile to Zach’s face and everyone else watching as I play and sing a childhood song with the Skyball.
When I first brought this home, I thought it would be best be appreciated by an elementary school age child, but now I know it is a toy for all ages – toddler to grandparent age.
Skyball is made by Maui Toys, a company founded in the 80’s so it is not a company known to those of us of “grandparent age.” However, it is really an improved version of a good old fashioned ball and I highly recommend it. There are several varieties of Skyballs – all reasonably priced – and they are available at ToyRUs, WalMart, Target, Kmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods. You can also order directly from Amazon below.
It is great weather for getting outside and playing ball with the grandkids. Enjoy – I know I am. Oh, and how about leaving a comment on one of your favorite playing with a ball experience.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Visit the New Aquarium at the Turtle Back Zoo

If you live in northern NJ here is a great place the visit with a young child – the Turtle Back Zoo! The zoo has been dramatically updated since I visited with my children 20 years ago and is well worth a visit. New features which will delight all ages include the prairie dog habitat and the brand new aquarium which just opened on September 15th.
This is such great weather for visiting the zoo – so don’t delay your visit. And even if you’ve been there not that long ago, you’ll want to see the new aquarium. It is small and intimate - sized perfectly for a pre-schooler. It is also sophisticated enough in its layout and “inhabitants” for adults to enjoy too. This picture was actually taken before the fish were installed.

In August I was invited to an event for bloggers to have a sneak preview and tour by the Zoo Director, Dr. Jeremy Goodman. The exotic sea species who will have a new home at the aquarium were still at the “Zoo hospital” where all new animals stay before they are placed in an exhibit. Dr. Goodman took us to the zoo hospital which was a very interesting tour in itself and so I can report that the tropical species in the new exhibit will definitely delight.

The exhibit is very nicely laid out so that an adult can sit and enjoy the exhibit while a young child stands right next to the window on this exotic world and both of you can let your imaginations wander to the deep blue sea.

The new aquarium exhibit is a gift from the Zoological Society of New Jersey in celebration of their 35th anniversary – the coral anniversary. It seems to be a well kept secret since it isn’t even on the website yet but I did verify that it opened as scheduled.

Oh, and don't forget to see the prairie dogs - it is sooo much fun to watch them from a bunch of angles scurry around.

Definitely worth a visit.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Zach and Grandma - Perfect Together

Sunday was Grandparents Day – our second. We celebrated with a family dinner and just being together as a family. What more can any grandparents ask for. It was a rainy day so we weren’t able to play outside but Zach found the umbrella and wanted to go out anyway. He is walking around firmly these days and he knows his way around our place very well. We have toys all around but he has his favorites and of course he isn’t limited to toys. As I said in an earlier post, when you are walking there is a lot more in your reach and now easily getting into any cabinets he wants and reaching onto tables is a cinch for Zach.

I wanted a picture of Zach and I together for this Grandparents Day post and this is my favorite. I call it – Zach and Grandma – perfect together.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Exploring on Foot - Zach Reaches New Heights

When Zach was turning one year old – in early June – we all were hoping anxiously that he would begin to walk. This wasn’t because we thought he should walk once he was one, it was because he was 23-24 pounds and he was getting awfully hard for some of us to carry. He was an expert crawler and he could make it up the stairs like lightning, so I never carried him up stairs anymore. We all were ready for him to walk – but as is frequently is the case, he just wasn’t interested since crawling was such an efficient mode of transportation.

He was cruising – walking with holding on to something - and he would let go before he took a step and then hold onto something again. His mother, Fran, tried moving the furniture a bit so he’d have to let go, but Zach would get down and crawl to the next place he could cruise. We would just have to wait.

In August, Zach decided he was ready. He took a few steps and down he went. When he walked we would clap and smile and he would give us a big smile back. He knew he was doing something that we all enjoyed. Before we knew it, he had this walking thing down pat and now it is a favorite activity.

Fran and I would walk in the park and he was happy to have a ride in the stroller and then go to the swings. Now he wants to walk quite a ways before he’ll hitch a ride in the stroller. And in the playground he heads for the climbing play gym rather than the swings.

There is a whole new “reachable world” when you are walking rather than crawling. Those cabinet doors open so easily when you don't have to reach up and pull them out. You can find a new favorite rather than be told by grandparents which is your favorite. “Don’t you just love these plastic containers, Zach?” “Well these pots and pans and soda bottles I love to shake around are much more fun” …..You get the idea. You can reach tables and some counter surfaces and explore those things that had been put out of your reach. Life is grand!

You can’t keep them down on the farm once they’ve seen Paree!

We love each new phase and somehow are still conjuring up the energy to deal with each one. Zach brings us new energy and joy and we are grateful that he is in our lives each and every day.