Room Decor: Taxiplushie

Misfit Menagery Raindrop

from the MisfitMenagery

When it comes to real live taxidermy, I can get a little squeamish. Once, my husband and I were vacationing in Switzerland and arrived at one of our hotels late one night. Little did we know that each of the rooms had unique themes, and after being lead through the windy paths that made up the hotel complex in the dead of night, we were presented with our “hunting” themed room. I entered the room first and let out a shriek. Animal skulls and unfinished pelts hung from every corner of the room. Not the best room choice for a vegetarian and her animal-loving husband. The hotel itself was beautiful though, so we carried on, but there was one wall in particular I could not bring myself to look at the entire stay. My husband kept commenting morbidly that the skulls reminded him of our skinny little rat terrier back at home.

So why then, do i find stuffed animal taxidermy so amusing? I mean, isn’t it still at least signifying a dead animal? It may be, but there’s something I like about markers of the upper crust, items that would be found in hunting lodges or country estates, translated into materials and brought into places we can all enjoy.

Aircreatures Giraffelephant

from Aircreatures

That’s what first drew me to faux taxidermy plushies. Years ago, we purchased a “stuffed” unicorn to mount on our walls. I can’t remember the details of the purchase or who created it, but these days, you can find plenty similar stuffed animals on etsy. MisfitMenagerie, for example, offers standard fair such as deer, goats, and rabbit heads. Aircreatures mixes it up with some made up animals like the Giraffelephant (pictured) or Mr. Dear-Moose-Stachio.

Wall Animal escape Elephant

from Good Evening

However, these taxiplushie wall hangings from Japan kick up the absurdity a notch (via Kickcans & Conkers). They revolt against their passive, humiliating position as human trophies, instead making their escape by leaping through the wall. They’d make a perfect accompaniment to the unicorn we bought, which I plan on hanging in Archie’s room (side note: We’ve been embarrassingly slow at decorating his room. Perhaps more decorating blog posts like this can kick me into gear).


Stuff Your Doodles: Bringing Your Child’s Drawings to Life

Stuff Your DoodlesI definitely have to file away this site, Stuff Your Doodles, away for when Archie is older. This artist takes your child’s (or your drawing too I suppose) and turns it into a stuffed animal. I’ve seen some DIY tutorials for printing out drawings on fabric, but I love that she’s not simply transferring the image, but creating in terms of volume and texture as well. How does a two-dimensional ice-cream scoop blob with spike claws look when it comes to life in 3D? Artist LucyMoose knows…

(via Cool Mom Picks)

Top Five: Wire Bead Maze

As Archie’s grasp has been improving, he’s been going for smaller and smaller objects–leaves, stones, etc. However, they all also go from his hand to his mouth. So I’m thinking a bead maze might be a good way to satisfy his desire to practice his fine motor skills while remaining safe. It turns out, not only is there a huge selection of these bead mazes out there, but there’s a wide variety as well. So here’s a few, from simplest to most crazy, spectacular, elaborate, bizarre mazes.

1. ImagiPLAY Bear Bead Maze: Six beads, one wire, cute bear–that’s it. Simple, small, effective.

ImagiPLAY Bear Bead Maze

2. Melissa & Doug Deluxe First Bead Maze: Recommended for ages 12 months to 4 years, this bead maze has a good variety of bead shapes and colors, plus there’s two little abacus-like wires at the base. It’s still simple, with only a few wires, but has a lot of different shapes to explore

Melissa & Doug Deluxe First Bead Maze

3. Educo Countdown Wire Maze: This maze takes the complexity of the maze design up a notch from the mazes above. The beads themselves are rubber, and the product description describes an outerspace theme with rockets, craters, and moons. I have to say that while I didn’t immediately see this and think “outerspace,” it could be how an imaginative kid approaches this maze.

Educo Countdown Wire Maze

4. City Beads Urban Wired Bead Maze: Now we’re stepping up into the deluxe territory. Trains, cars, and even planes move through land and sky in this cityscape. This base is actually raised up so that your kid can sit and play comfortably, plus it’s non-toxic!

City Beads Urban Wired Bead Maze

5. Youniversity Wood Activity Cube: Holy crap. This is the like the Rolex of the wire bead maze world. Sitting on top of a wooden hexagon, this bead maze also involves a city theme, with a park, schoolhouse, and bike path. Moreover, the sides of the hexagon are covered in bells and whistles, like a color wheel, alphabet blocks and a counting tree.

Youniversity Wood Activity Cube

Want: Playmat Puzzles

Tadpoles PlaymatI’ve been meaning to write a post on playmats for a while. I’ve learned that creating a safe, contained space to play is pretty important. In Archie’s eight short months, we’ve already reconfigured rooms multiple times to accommodate his developing abilities. Right now one of our favorite spaces to play is in his room on the Tadpoles Playmat Set.

We originally bought this mat for our outdoor patio, but found that every night, all the pieces of this interlocking mat would blow away. At the same time that we discovered this mat wouldn’t work outdoors, Archie started sitting. This also meant he started falling, so we quickly brought this mat inside to pad his play area.

It turns out, as an added bonus, this mat is composed of puzzle pieces. Archie loves these. They’re kind of one of his favorite toys. He likes to pull off the edges of the mat, take the center rings out, wave them in the air, chew on them, throw them–basically anything he can think to do with them.

Youlka Design CarsSo, when I saw these felt rug designs with laser cut removable pieces from Polish based designers Youlka Designs, I immediately thought of how much Archie would love them. Right now, the squishiness of the rubber Tadpoles mat probably suits him well, but I’m already looking around for more fun rugs for when he gets a bit older, and this would definitely be on the list (if they had a retailer in the US). These rugs retain the puzzle fun, but in shapes (cars, jungle animals, roosters) that can encourage more imaginative play.

Youlka Design Roosters

(via little. lovely.)

Toy Milestones: Month Eight

Archie has been a barrel of fun this last month. He keeps getting more and more social and interactive, learning to follow nursery rhymes, playing along during interactive songs like “Row Row Row Your Boat,” and even making up his own games. The downside of all this increased socialization–separation anxiety, boo! Archie’s been a little bit clingier as of late, which is both endearing and difficult when I’m off to work every day. Beyond these developments, what else do I have to look forward to in the coming month?

Archie at LACMA

  1. Using objects with purpose: Oh, Archie understands how to use objects. Right now, however, the uses he envisions are primarily dropping, throwing, rolling, and banging. In the case of his Oball, he’s got it down. He rolls it and bounces it and can amuse himself chasing it around the floor forever. He likes doing this so much, however, that he tries to play the same game with every new toy we introduce to him. So for instance, when we got him these XYZ Blocks, he tried rolling them as well. Needless to say, doesn’t work as well as a ball. But soon, soon he may realize blocks are for stacking, not rolling.
  2. Pointing: Currently, Archie will look at objects when I point to them. Soon, he should start pointing on his own, which is definitely an exciting step forward in his communication skills. Right now, you can tell when he wants something by his intense stare and the increasing intensity of his grunts. However, pointing can clarify exactly what he wants when faced with a panoply of toys.
  3. Pincers!: Archie’s pincer grasp, or the grasp between his thumb and his index finger, should be getting more precise. This will eventually lead to him being able to feed himself finger foods. While Archie’s been eating solids for the past few months, this new step makes me a bit nervous. It just seems so grown up! Anyway, I suppose there’s no stopping this next step, so we’ve been practicing this pincher grasp out in the yard with leaves and a measuring cup (thanks Mom for the idea!). Here’s how it goes: I put the leaves in the cup. Archie takes them out. I put the leaves in the cup, Archie takes them out. He hates leaves in his cup!