I'm going through and bookmarking sites and making lists of things I love for Christmas this year, and the kids' selections are pretty slim so far. But I do have one resource that I really want to share, and that is wooden toy maker John Michael Linck. Well, Mr. Linck is not wooden; he makes wooden toys. You know perfectly well what I meant. Anyway, his stuff is amazing, and intended to last not just for years, but for generations.
Bella received, in 2003, when she was barely a year old, as a gift from her grandparents, Mr. Linck's fabulous Block Wagon. This is not a cheap item, by any means. But then again, it's...well, it's not a cheap item. It's meant to be an heirloom. It is the most-played-with toy she has ever owned, and she has never stopped playing with it from the time she first got it to the present day--right now it's in a prominent spot in the living room, and she builds from it several times a week.
Bella learned to pull up and walk with the aid of that block wagon. And then she built her first structures, which were, admittedly, simple in the beginning.
She used the blocks for abstract art, as seen here, in "Family Portrait, In Blocks."
Currently, one of her favorite things to do is to build a fanciful structure of the blocks, and then set up her easel and pastels and create a still-life based on what she's built from the blocks. She even photographs it--often.
I'm telling you, this thing is incredible, and I love that one day she'll be able to pass it down to her own child. The construction is flawless, and each block is satiny smooth and perfect.
Mr. Linck makes an assortment of toys, including a smaller pull-behind wagon full of building blocks, and an impressive set of wooden train cars meant to last a lifetime and beyond. Many items are affordibly priced, and there's even a "train car of the month" club, which I have to admit seems kinda cool. And there are TWENTY cars to choose from!
This is my contribution, totally unsolicited and uncompensated in any way, this year, to the No More Plastic Crap From China movement, as well as the effort to buy handmade, as far as major toy items go. You certainly couldn't do much better.