Living in S. Minneapolis (and reading a lot of craft blogs) can having a normalizing effect on some of the not-so-normal standards by which we live. We do the vast majority of our grocery shopping at one or the other of several local co-ops. We line dry our clothes when we can. We compost. We make our own bread and granola. Our kids don’t watch much t.v. and we have worked hard to get rid of toys that require batteries. Even the impulse to raise chickens in our little backyard isn’t that crazy among the folks we know (in fact, at least 3 families I’ve talked to lately are contemplating the same).

Even with these nutty notions as our norm, we can still be caught off guard by the strange and simple things that will entertain our children. Before the weekend’s run to the co-op, Brad and I were trying to finish the grocery list and pack up the necessary containers and returnables (did I mention we buy in bulk, filling our own containers and get local milk in glass bottles?). Those containers are Sarah’s favorite “toys”, so in a blind attempt to distract her I grabbed an empty egg carton and a handful of dried pinto beans. These were the things in the kitchen that were plentiful and handy.

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No sooner had I set these things on the chair for Sarah, then both Lizzie and Joshua had to get in on the fun. Brad and I just stared at each other in amazement.

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Over an hour later, when Brad returned from shopping, they were still at it. Lizzie had developed a complex game with several rules and some logic. Joshua had done everything from counting and grouping in various ways, to filling a small container to make a shaker, to starting his own complex game (yes rules, no logic). Sarah spent most of the time bringing them to me one at a time or taking them out of and putting them back in the egg carton. A study in child development – no batteries required.

I feel a toy purge coming on…

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