Climbing Toy Mountain

Our daughter's birthdays are within weeks of each other and right before the big birthday extravaganza starts I like to cull through the Mt. Everest of toys and try to bring it back down to K2 size.

I am rarely successful in this because no matter how careful I plan, or how quickly I remove the stash, the kids somehow bring them back from the brink of recycling. It's absolutely uncanny. They go from not noticing a pile of laundry that has built up to avalanche proportions to detecting the tiniest erosion in their six-story toy mounds.

This is part of their father's American Indian heritage, no doubt. If only I could send them out to track a few jack rabbits, then I might be able to sneak out a couple headless dolls or odd fast food toys.

How does this happen? How did our house become home to the greatest deposit of plastic and acrylic fur on the block?

Before I run off with a nice long story of how cheap toys have destroyed our national appreciation for well-made, hand crafted toys and how if it weren't for global competition I wouldn't be able to add a seemingly infinite number of toys to the bin for a mere two or five bucks, let me confess.

It's me. The packaging, the little cute outfits, the interesting things you could build, the snappy television and movie tie ins—they sucker me right in. I have no resistance. None.

This is part of why it takes so long to cull the toys, why I can't swoop in there with a plastic bag while the kids are outside for 30 minutes. It's me. Well, not me exactly. It's because there's a little girl in me that just can't part with the circus train that has the cages and open car for the giraffe and the snazzy snow boots and cape that go with the doll and sleigh set.

That's right. I'm a toy marketers target market. They probably have a picture up on the wall of me with the caption "There's one born every minute! Go Get Her!"

Still, it's getting dangerous in the family room and with the recent addition of the princess bed (which is another story altogether) and upcoming birthday celebrations, we've got to get rid of a few bags full of toys. So I have a plan.

Next week I may be able to get both daughters out of the house for a few hours in the morning, and I'll try to dig my way through the mountain. If I'm not back by noon, just come on over. You can help me build a miniature circus town complete with snow park. But I get to drive the train, 'k?