Sunday, 27 January 2008

Tales from the Tickle Trunk

It’s three o’clock in the afternoon and our new “puppy” if flaked out on a rug with the warm afternoon sun streaming down on his face. As he dozes, he stirs occasionally, letting out the odd little snort and snuff. This “puppy” is my dear little Chi-Chi. He’s spent the bulk of the day outfitted in his doggie Halloween costume. Luckily for me, he’s completely immersed himself into the puppy role and is enjoying a leisurely afternoon nap!

Like many young Canadians growing up in the seventies and eighties, I definitely enjoyed the wonderful world of Mr. Dressup. I was always anxious to discover what crazy costume would appear from the infamous “Tickle Trunk”. My sister and I had a well-stocked tickle trunk of our own compliments of my mother. She always seemed to have a stash of fantastic costumes and dress up clothes on hand. Silly hats, zany costumes, goofy wigs and fancy party dresses provided the inspiration for countless hours of daydreaming and imaginative play. The possibilities were endless as we dove into the wonderful world of make-believe.

Now that I’ve got little ones of my own, I’m witnessing first hand the magic that unfolds when a child transforms himself into another character. Although Christmas came and went over a month ago, Chi-Chi is still dancing around the house to holiday music, decked out in his Santa hat and a grimy little pair of red PJ’s. He refers to Muffy as “The Elf” and these two little characters get into a lot of mischief in “the workshop”.

Costumes and dress-up clothes are a wonderful open-ended toy that can be enjoyed by kids and adults of all ages. With a long, cold winter ahead of us, I'll no doubt be calling on the tickle trunk regularly for a little inspiration and entertainment. Perhaps I should dig out that old prom dress!

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Guys and Dolls

As I young girl, I spent countless hours feeding, dressing and caring for my constant and faithful companion, Didi the Cabbage Patch Kid. Didi and I were an inseparable duo and I rarely ventured out of the house without my dear little friend in tow.

As a mother of two little boys, I’ve witnessed both Chi-Chi and Muffy display an inherent, instinctive attraction to anything with wheels. As I write, Chi-Chi is literally bombing around the house on his ride on car, filling the air with impressively realistic “vroom, vroom” sound effects.

Although my boys exhibit a deep affection for their fleet of vehicles, I feel strongly that dolls offer invaluable play opportunities to children of both genders. Chi-Chi and Muffy each own special little dolls. These Waldorf-style bunting dolls are filled with millet and essential oils of lavender. While the boys are busy participating in the nightly bath ritual with Daddy, each doll undergoes a little “session” in the microwave for a couple of minutes. The warm and comforting babies are waiting for the little ones when they crawl into bed. Both boys drift off to dreamland snuggling their special babies. During waking hours, the babies are played with regularly throughout the day. Chi-Chi whips up a quick breakfast in the play kitchen for his companion and usually treats his little friend to a speedy and thrilling ride on the back of his car. The dolls provide my kiddies with the opportunity to mimic and foster nurturing and caring skills that both Mommy and Daddy perform in our household.

With Chi-Chi quickly approaching the age of three, I felt he was ready to “graduate” to a more formed doll – one with arms, legs and hair. Being a nostalgic and a traditionalist, I thought it would be a rewarding (and cost-saving!) experience to take part in the old-fashioned tradition of personally hand-making a special and unique doll for my child. A number of companies offer convenient and easy-to-follow doll kits that are designed to help beginners like myself tackle this type of project. I ordered a kit and supplies from Joy’s Waldorf Dolls ( Four evenings of doll making resulted in the “birth” of the “little dude with the wild ‘do”. He doesn’t have a name yet as I feel Chi-Chi should be the one to select it. I’m now working on a wardrobe for the “little dude” so I am waiting until that is complete before introducing Chi-Chi to his new friend. He’s definitely got a few flaws as my sewing skills are pretty limited, but he’s one-of-a-kind. He was lovingly made with all natural materials from the organic cotton used for skin, to the eco-wool stuffing and the mohair hairstyle. It was interesting to see how “little dude” evolved during the process. He already seems to have his own little personality! I look forward to witnessing the upcoming adventures of Chi-Chi and "Little Dude with the Wild 'Do"!