- Dollhouse -- We bought one for our oldest daughter for her second Christmas and she loved it almost as much as her younger brother did. JP really got into setting up the house and family. We bought extra dolls so that our kids would have a big family. That first dollhouse survived the first four kids and then came our little tornado. She is a force of nature to be reckoned with. By her fourth year of life we had to replace our original dollhouse with a new one.
- Kitchen set -- Our kids all love to cook. I wish I had more patience in the kitchen with them and would allow them to help more often. A kitchen set was my way of letting our kids "experiment" in the kitchen without making the mess I so dread.
- Trampoline -- I know many will think we are crazy for getting a trampoline, but this was a great purchase for us. We got it as a combo gift for all the kids one Christmas. They jump on it almost everyday. They have come up with great and very imaginative games to play on it with their friends. The tramp wears them out like nothing else. Sometimes I assign tramp time if I have a particularly rambunctious kid in the house (I alternate between tramp time and laps around the house). Our fifteen year old jumps everyday for exercise. She's into physical fitness and the tramp makes fitness fun.
- Bicycles -- We have a great neighborhood for bike riding. We live at the end of a cul de sac and our kids can spend hours circling on their bicycles. We also have several miles of paved paths through the neighborhood and woods. Once we feel confident in a rookie's riding ability, we allow them to head out on their bikes with their big sister. I always send them with my cell phone. How did we ever survive childhood without cell phones?
- Train table with track and trains -- Daddy has even gotten into the act on this one. He was so proud of himself when he built a track that had only one piece of curve left over.
- Assorted costumes and dress up gear -- Pretend play is really important in childhood. Just check out this article from Scholastic, if you don't take my word for it. Our next door neighbor laughs to see our little princesses out on the tramp in all their regalia. We have all manner of cloaks, skirts in every hue (Thanks Nana!), purses, hats, crowns, wings, and rags in a box in their play room. The best and most worn costume we ever had was a purple cat costume our neighbor gave us when JP was about two. He loved that costume. He wore it everyday and he wore it everywhere, much to my husband's dismay. I remember even taking him to Burger King wearing it. We had to bribe him to take it off, so it could be washed occasionally. I have a picture of him wearing that costume and he has the most self satisfied grin on his face (I'll post it, if I ever come across it). JP is now 13, loves to be stinky and greasy, drives me crazy with sports stats, and lives to give me a hard time; but to me he will always be an adorable two year old and wearing that purple cat costume.
*** UPDATED: I found the picture in one of those creative albums I tried to do over the years. Wasn't he adorable?