Photo Friday

Candy Corn at Disneyland

Candy Corn Cactus at Disneyland

I’d always wondered how candy corn was made. Turns out they grow on this special kind of cactus inside Disneyland’s California Adventure. Who knew?

I’m a sucker for these kinds of whimsical displays. It’s one of the things I love about visiting Disneyland. So many little surprises to discover.

Imagination Lives Here

If you have a young daughter, chances are she’s going to ask for a dollhouse at some point. There are dozens and dozens to choose from, in all different shapes, sizes, and materials. Here’s one of them I can recommend.

The good folks at Learning Curve recently sent one of their dollhouses for my daughter to review. It’s the Mrs. Goodbee Talking Dollhouse, part of Learning Curve’s new Caring Corners line of toys that encourages kids to care about others.

And my daughter’s evaluation? She’s in love with it. She thinks it’s the best dollhouse ever.

From my perspective, the house is pretty cool. When it’s opened up, it has 12 different rooms to decorate and play with. Folded up, it stores easily on the shelf and contains all the little bits and pieces into one place.

The house actually talks, with over 400 different helpful hints, playful prompts, and silly songs, all designed around sharing and caring. Oh, and using your imagination.

I love watching my kids play with the house and the figures that were included. They added their own furniture from other play sets (Littlest Pet Shop accessories fit perfectly) and I could hear their imagination take off.

Oh, wait, did I say “kids”? Shhh… Don’t tell anyone, but even my son has been having a great time with the Mrs. Goodbee Dollhouse. He had Boba Fett renting a room in the attic, and Scooby Doo fixing tacos in the kitchen.

As if just playing with this talking dollhouse wasn’t enough to teach my daughter some excellent lessons about positive behavior, the people at Learning Curve were kind enough to send along a second dollhouse, so that she could donate this wonderful toy to a local charity or needy family. She’ll be doing that next week. What a great way to kick off the Christmas giving season!

We’ve looked at five or six of the more popular dollhouses on toy store shelves, and I think the Mrs. Goodbee Dollhouse stacks up with the best of them. I really like the fact that it folds up, is made of durable plastic, and has a friendly, positive message to deliver. My daughter just likes that it’s “Fun!”

You can find Caring Corners products at just about any toy store or large retailer.

Guns N Kids

When my son was born, both my wife and I agreed that we would discourage him from playing with toy guns. We simply wouldn’t have them in the house.

I’m not talking about hunting. No, I mean games of “cops and robbers” or “cowboys and indians.” We were nervous about the effects of that kind of imaginary violence on our child.

In other words, we were new parents who were totally clueless.

Because since then we have realized two things. First, there is not one darn thing you can do to prevent a boy from playing shoot-em-up games. From almost the time he learned to walk, my son was running around saying “Bang Bang” with a spoon or Lego or some other object in his hand.

I have no idea where he learned it. Maybe it’s genetic. Maybe prehistoric toddlers ran around their caves with a stick in their hand yelling “Bonk Bonk!”

Even when we took away the toys, he found other things to turn into guns. He would even roll his napkin up into a tube and use that to shoot bad guys.

That leads me to the second thing we realized. Playing with toy guns is not going to warp our kids’ minds. I believe it does just the opposite, as a fertile imagination can only be beneficial to a child. Shooting outlaws and monsters is not going to turn them into homicidal psychopaths or make them indifferent to human life.

I should’ve just remembered my own childhood. Yup, that’s a 7-year-old me in that photo. I turned out okay. Right?