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  1. #1
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Toys for kids…

    Tis the season to rack up credit card debt to buy a bunch of cheap plastic stuff for your kiddos that they will break in 10 minutes and get more joy out of playing with the box it came in than the item you bought.

    OK, maybe not me. But we have hit a point in our lives where my wife’s family thinks that it is wrong that we don’t load up on cheap plastic crap for our kids. When it comes to toys we require that they be one of the following:
    • Educational (We buy a lot of books and to go the library 2 to 3 times a week, but the oldest has a 2nd grade reading level at 3 years old and is doing adding & subtraction already)
    • Athletic (bikes, scooters, balls, hockey gear, soccer gear like the net we are getting him this year), or similar items)
    • Creative (Legos, Lincoln Logs, Crayons, Markers, Play dough, or musical instruments)

    One exception to this is his hot wheel cars. But for those, he gets creative and will build garages and stuff out of his Legos and other things. Overall if an item is only for entertainment or has values that we don't approve of at this point in time, then he does not get it.

    My mother out-law has stated that she is going to get him a Nintendo DS this year for Christmas. My wife explained to her that if she does, we will return it and he will get socks and underwear and tell him that they came from Grandma. There are some of those leapfrog games that we allow because they are educational.

    What kind of toys do you get for your kids? Do you have crazy rules like we do or will your kids get the latest popular toys? What are you getting your kids for Christmas this year? What items of note have you gotten them in the past years?
    Invest in the things today, that provide the returns tomorrow.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    Tis the season to rack up credit card debt to buy a bunch of cheap plastic stuff for your kiddos that they will break in 10 minutes and get more joy out of playing with the box it came in than the item you bought.

    OK, maybe not me. But we have hit a point in our lives where my wife’s family thinks that it is wrong that we don’t load up on cheap plastic crap for our kids. When it comes to toys we require that they be one of the following:
    • Educational (We buy a lot of books and to go the library 2 to 3 times a week, but the oldest has a 2nd grade reading level at 3 years old and is doing adding & subtraction already)
    • Athletic (bikes, scooters, balls, hockey gear, soccer gear like the net we are getting him this year), or similar items)
    • Creative (Legos, Lincoln Logs, Crayons, Markers, Play dough, or musical instruments)

    One exception to this is his hot wheel cars. But for those, he gets creative and will build garages and stuff out of his Legos and other things. Overall if an item is only for entertainment or has values that we don't approve of at this point in time, then he does not get it.

    My mother out-law has stated that she is going to get him a Nintendo DS this year for Christmas. My wife explained to her that if she does, we will return it and he will get socks and underwear and tell him that they came from Grandma. There are some of those leapfrog games that we allow because they are educational.

    What kind of toys do you get for your kids? Do you have crazy rules like we do or will your kids get the latest popular toys? What are you getting your kids for Christmas this year? What items of note have you gotten them in the past years?
    What a Scrooge. Let your kids have some fun with crazy, out-of-the-ordinary, wacky toys that they wouldn't get any other time of the year. Sure, my kids get books and educational stuff, but I also love to see the smile on their face when they open up the cheap plastic toy. Moderation my friend, moderation.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  3. #3
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by btrage View post
    What a Scrooge. Let your kids have some fun with crazy, out-of-the-ordinary, wacky toys that they wouldn't get any other time of the year. Sure, my kids get books and educational stuff, but I also love to see the smile on their face when they open up the cheap plastic toy. Moderation my friend, moderation.
    http://www.melissaanddoug.com/

    Every toy on that site meets our requirements. It is also amazing how many good toys are out there that are also educational as well as entertaining. Nintendo DS and Super Mario Bothers is not one of them.
    Invest in the things today, that provide the returns tomorrow.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    We downplay Christmas because my wife is Jewish and I am sort of an anti-consumerist. Which isn’t to say they don’t get anything on Christmas Day and Hanukkah, but it gets spread over a large span of time. Many of the gifts are small things. Some are practical, some are just fun. Usually there is one larger thing they each get. This year my daughter is getting a new (used – she’s 7 and still growing) bike! I think we’re likely to get our son a little trap set or at least a snare and stand. Hours of entertainment right there.

    The other reason for being more subdued is our house is small and there isn’t any room for all that crap! As a kid, we did celebrate Christmas, but the orgy of toys and gratuitous useless, space-hogging items was overwhelming in retrospect.

    So, I’m not a scrooge, but I’m also not jumping headlong into the unconstrained consumption of worthless crap. We have a lot of fun over the holiday time, though. Between us and our relatives, the kids get a perfectly reasonable dose of presents. My only rule is I will not allow video games in the house. They play some stuff on the computers, and I am ok with that in limited doses, but I am not into the playstation, Nintendo, Atari (can you guess my age?), etc. Call me what you will, but I only have a few hard and fast rules and this is one.
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  5. #5
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    My kids are 3.5 and almost 2 both boys. Their current favorite toys are. Thomas trains and the tracks. A "kitchen" set with fake food. Puzzles of all kinds and books. And the iPad...

    This year they are getting a sit and spin, Mr. Potato Head set (many pieces), Scooter, Bigger Trike, T-ball set, and a building block set that makes castles with some knight action figures.
    @GigCityPlanner

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    http://www.melissaanddoug.com/

    Every toy on that site meets our requirements. It is also amazing how many good toys are out there that are also educational as well as entertaining. Nintendo DS and Super Mario Bothers is not one of them.
    My mom bought our girls Nintendo DS's last year. We didn't threaten to return them. We accepted the gifts and only let the girls play with them as rewards. Again, moderation.

    If you restrict your kids too much, they may rebel down the road. Sort of like the whole forbidden fruit theory. At least that's my take on it.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  8. #8
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    The Dollar General was a friend when my son was little. He was just as happy with the dollar store crap as he was with more expensive gifts. Now, he is a lot more discerning and expensive. Fortunately the uncles and aunts spoil him too.

    Last Christmas it was trebuchets. He got two and had good fun tossing things at the cat in the back yard (maybe thatis why that cat is so feisty). Now he is into kits so he can build RC cars. I am getting him a roller coaster kit.

    I try to give him stuff that will challenge him and keep him busy. But also give him stuff that is just fun and stupid. Most improtantly, it has to be fun for me too. Just cause I am a grownup doesn't mean I don't like toys.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

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    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    http://www.melissaanddoug.com/

    Every toy on that site meets our requirements. It is also amazing how many good toys are out there that are also educational as well as entertaining. Nintendo DS and Super Mario Bothers is not one of them.
    I am pretty much with you here. RT never had a lot of junk type toys growing up. We always tried to get her things that required some interaction or imaginative play with it. Legos, Lincoln Logs, Little People farm playset, art supplies, books, an occasional video, a cherished baby doll, a couple of Barbies with a few outfits, board/card games, Mr. Potato Head. I never got a gaming system since I never saw the point of them-I let her play puzzle type games on the computer or kid friendly games. She never seemed any worse off not having a gaming system so I stand by that decision still and will apply that to the baby.

    Even the baby doesn't have a lot of toys right now. One of those ring stacker things, a little electronic activity table that is bilingual, stuffed toys. She really likes to play with boxes and containers, bowls and wooden spoons, and her books. She is getting clothes and a Little People farm so far. I like some of the puzzles on the Melissa & Doug site as well so perhaps one of those too. Her birthday is two weeks after Christmas so I am sure she will get other things too.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  10. #10
    Cyburbian terraplnr's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by otterpop View post
    Most improtantly, it has to be fun for me too.
    Haha, I feel this way also, either the toys have to be something my son will want to play with on his own, or something that sounds somethat fun to me. The grandparents haven't gotten him anything that I haven't been ok with, other than they both have a tendency to get big (as in takes up a lot of friggin' room) things like a train table or play kitchen or arcade-style basketball hoop game. This year from Santa & his parents he's getting Legos, a scooter, books/clothes/puzzles/random items, some crafty make your own robot type kits, and an easy bake oven, because he really wanted one last summer and I had a lot of fun with mine when I was a kid. He's too little to think it's a "girl's toy" yet but I probably couldn't wait too much longer.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    Guess I'm going to be a terrible parent when the time comes. I fully intend to have video games in the house because they'll be mine

    Personally I'm of the belief of just getting kids what they want as long as it's reasonable. I'd rather support my kid's interests over trying to steer them into more productive activities. Went through this battle with one of my parents growing up and would like to not repeat it when I have kids.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by btrage View post
    My mom bought our girls Nintendo DS's last year. We didn't threaten to return them. We accepted the gifts and only let the girls play with them as rewards. Again, moderation.

    If you restrict your kids too much, they may rebel down the road. Sort of like the whole forbidden fruit theory. At least that's my take on it.
    That was my ideas as well. Plus, when my daughter was little, she'd play with the boxes as much as the toys. It was always a mix with her of educational as well as fun.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Whose Yur Planner View post
    It was always a mix with her of educational as well as fun.
    The educational toys are just as much fun if not more so.

    The no video game thing was not an easy decision for us, but after quite a bit of discussion on the matter, research on it, and praying about it, we have come to the conclusion that they do more harm than good. As for the other stuff, they don't know the difference between educational/creative/athletic toys and entertainment toys on Christmas Morning. It just takes a bit more work to shop for them.

    Our oldest was even more excited than his cousin last year at the 'family' Christmas. The cousin opened a new DS game and a transformers car but was whining because it was the wrong game, whereas our oldest opened up lego blocks, a book, and a soccer ball.

    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
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  14. #14
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    The educational toys are just as much fun if not more so.

    You forgot Uzi Elmo.
    Yeah ,but. When I was growing, my folks always balanced educational (Tell Me Why books) with the practical-clothes, and the fun-the really old hand held games and Garfield books. Keep in mind that I was a bright kid growing up and really loved learning. My folks still tried to balance it all and give me the fun gifts, not just the educational. They were smart enough to know, that they needed to provide the balance for me instead of giving in and just giving me pruely educational stuff. However so bright, I still needed to be a kid.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  15. #15
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Whose Yur Planner View post
    Yeah ,but. When I was growing, my folks always balanced educational (Tell Me Why books) with the practical-clothes, and the fun-the really old hand held games and Garfield books. Keep in mind that I was a bright kid growing up and really loved learning. My folks still tried to balance it all and give me the fun gifts, not just the educational. They were smart enough to know, that they needed to provide the balance for me instead of giving in and just giving me pruely educational stuff. However so bright, I still needed to be a kid.
    So you mean to tell me that a kid is less of a kid if he is out at the skating rink playing hockey or sledding with friends, building a block tower, or drawing a picture, than he is if he is playing a video game?


    It is not purely education stuff. Legos, Lincoln Logs, Sports Equipment, Tinker Toys, Crayons, Markers, Playdough, and similar times promote physical activity or creative thinking are all 100% wonderful toys in my book. Balanced is not providing mind numbing entertainment. It is providing toys that offer something beyond entertainment. If entertainment is the only thing it will offer, then I find something better.

    Also, clothes are something they get throughout the year. We don't buy any clothes as gifts.
    Invest in the things today, that provide the returns tomorrow.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    So you mean to tell me that a kid is less of a kid if he is out at the skating rink playing hockey or sledding with friends, building a block tower, or drawing a picture, than he is if he is playing a video game?


    It is not purely education stuff. Legos, Lincoln Logs, Sports Equipment, Tinker Toys, Crayons, Markers, Playdough, and similar times promote physical activity or creative thinking are all 100% wonderful toys in my book. Balanced is not providing mind numbing entertainment. It is providing toys that offer something beyond entertainment. If entertainment is the only thing it will offer, then I find something better.

    Also, clothes are something they get throughout the year. We don't buy any clothes as gifts.
    That's a pretty hard line to take. Do you apply that to all things in life, or just toys?
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  17. #17
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    So you mean to tell me that a kid is less of a kid if he is out at the skating rink playing hockey or sledding with friends, building a block tower, or drawing a picture, than he is if he is playing a video game?
    I think he's saying that the kid that is out playing, building blocks, or drawing is not MORE of a kid than one playing a video game. A kid is a kid is a kid. I am hearing (reading) that they are saying that in moderation and under supervision video games aren't necessarily brain numbing equipment, and that a balance of educational toys and video games (in their opinion) would be ok. At the end of the day, it's up to individual parents to make the best choices for their kids. I don't mind video games and electronics when they are used once in a while and the kids spend more time on other things, making forts, coloring, reading, etc. Afterall, the Commodore 64 and Atari (haha!) didn't screw me up, but I also didn't play on them nonstop.

    I always try to buy the kiddo (8 years) an assortment of things - books, games, clothes. My ex likes to turn it all into a competition, but I refuse to play. Two years ago he bought her a 3D-DS, last year a Nook (the tablet one), and this year an I-pad. Are you freaking kidding me?! To each their own I guess, but I think she's too young for that.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by btrage View post
    That's a pretty hard line to take. Do you apply that to all things in life, or just toys?
    It is actually much simpler than you would think and that line moves as he learns new things. You just need to know where to look for replacements. For example, we will let him watch "Super Why" instead of "Sponge Bob". Is Super Why entertaining, yes, but is also educational and focuses on reading. Sponge Bob is total crap and has been documented to cause attention issues in kids.

    Right now, he is learning about Santa, the north pole, and all of the Christmas tradition stuff. So we bought the movie "Polar Express" and let him watch some of those cartoons, like Charlie Brown Christmas because he is still learning about the subject. Down the road, those will fall more into the entertainment category since he won't be learning anything new.

    There are situations where we have no control over it. When he is at the YMCA when I am working out, he plays with the toys that they have and when he visits friends, there are toys that we would otherwise not approve of. But we found that he will often pick up a toy that has a physical activity associated or a creative toy than just a mind numbing entertainment only toy. We also spend quite a bit of time introducing him to the arts. We took him with us to see Art Prize (big art event in town) and they had tons of stuff that he loved. He wanted to paint more pictures for several weeks after that. He has also been to a few concerts and wants to know more about how the instruments work and how to play them. At the Christmas Parade he said he liked the marching bands and the drums the best.

    Quote Originally posted by SW MI Planner View post
    I think he's saying that the kid that is out playing, building blocks, or drawing is not MORE of a kid than one playing a video game. A kid is a kid is a kid. I am hearing (reading) that they are saying that in moderation and under supervision video games aren't necessarily brain numbing equipment, and that a balance of educational toys and video games (in their opinion) would be ok. At the end of the day, it's up to individual parents to make the best choices for their kids. I don't mind video games and electronics when they are used once in a while and the kids spend more time on other things, making forts, coloring, reading, etc. Afterall, the Commodore 64 and Atari (haha!) didn't screw me up, but I also didn't play on them nonstop.

    I always try to buy the kiddo (8 years) an assortment of things - books, games, clothes. My ex likes to turn it all into a competition, but I refuse to play. Two years ago he bought her a 3D-DS, last year a Nook (the tablet one), and this year an I-pad. Are you freaking kidding me?! To each their own I guess, but I think she's too young for that.
    The leap frog games are wonderful because they focus on education, but if there is an alternative (ANY Alternative) to the general video game boxes or devices, we go with that, and there always is an alternative.

    As for a nook, we are actually looking at getting our oldest a Kindle (he will be 4 before Christmas), mainly for the long trips to the UP. This way we can load it with kids books and since he loves reading, it will be something cool that he can use on trips.

    The oldest saw his cousin playing the DS a while back when we were over at their house. Not only did he not ask to play it, when my sister-in-law offered it to him, he politely declined and asked if he could play with with some Tinker Toy like kit that he saw in the corner of the living room. He spent hours on that building stuff.
    Invest in the things today, that provide the returns tomorrow.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post

    It is not purely education stuff. Legos, Lincoln Logs, Sports Equipment, Tinker Toys, Crayons, Markers, Playdough, and similar times promote physical activity or creative thinking
    And video games don't provide physical activity or creative thinking? Gone are the days of yore where you were given a square pad with an a/b control pad. Case in point: My daughter looked at me funny when i handed her a remote for my original NES system. She tried to move mario by waiving the remote in the air similar to our nintendo wii. Told her mario moves by moving the directional pad and a/b button. She looked at me puzzled, and than just wanted to play just dance, a game where you constantly move, and get one hell of a work out. It is great phsycial activity on a rainy day, plus she practices soccer with the Xbox connect.

    Video games provide a great critical thinking skill, especially those that provide situational decisions on whether to bust down a door and blow some terrorist's head off or just be real stealthy like and just kill him with a knife . No but seriously, they do provide an element where you have to think. It may not be an "educational 2+2" life skill, but it does present choices and think how to problem solve through levels and ways to get to the next portion of the game.

    I don't let video games run my kids life. All in moderation. My folks bought my bro and I these systems. We played them a lot, but we stayed active playing sports, I played with toys, read books and other things. My daughter enjoys reading, art, etc. These are things we get her throughout the year, thus at Christmas we spoil her with things she doesn't normally get like this year an easy bake over, and Nintendo 3DS.

    My 2 year old is really into trains, so we bought a train table, some new wooden train sets, and an play house set which seems weird for a boy, but for whatever reason he likes playing with his sister's similar looking dollhouse. My wife works for a children's boutique so we get plenty of green/wooden toys that are "batteries not necessary" throughout the year either for free to "test" prior to purchasing them for the store, or we buy them at cost, which is a significant cost savings from the MSRP (usually 50%).
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  20. #20
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    So you mean to tell me that a kid is less of a kid if he is out at the skating rink playing hockey or sledding with friends, building a block tower, or drawing a picture, than he is if he is playing a video game?


    It is not purely education stuff. Legos, Lincoln Logs, Sports Equipment, Tinker Toys, Crayons, Markers, Playdough, and similar times promote physical activity or creative thinking are all 100% wonderful toys in my book. Balanced is not providing mind numbing entertainment. It is providing toys that offer something beyond entertainment. If entertainment is the only thing it will offer, then I find something better.

    Also, clothes are something they get throughout the year. We don't buy any clothes as gifts.
    Different generation mskiis. Back when I was a kid, the very, very early days of computers and video games, Educational toys were considered books (Tell Me Why, etc), chemistry sets, etc. You are drawing a line between video games and everything else. That line did not exist when I was growing up. Video games were pong and primitive hand held games and were not that common, as Maister and the older Cyburbs will tell you. The point I was trying to make was my parents tried to strike a balance for me when I would have perfectly happy with withdrawing into the books and educational toys. As for the clothes as gift, I was low middle class, borderline poor growing up. Clothes and hand made gifts were perfectly acceptable gifts. Our Christmas goodies-cookies and the such, were not bought at the store. They were home made by my mom and grandma starting right after the Thanksgiving feast.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  21. #21
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Tell you what... how about we get back to what you are getting your kids for Christmas instead of telling me what I should get my kids. If you all want to get your kids video games, go for it. It won't happen any time soon in my house though.
    Invest in the things today, that provide the returns tomorrow.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    Tell you what... how about we get back to what you are getting your kids for Christmas instead of telling me what I should get my kids. If you all want to get your kids video games, go for it. It won't happen any time soon in my house though.
    Except you didn't just ask the question. You framed it in the context of your beliefs. What did you expect? That no one would question your comments? If you simply wanted to know what we get our kids for Christmas, you shouldn't have included all the comments about cheap plastic crap and threatening to return the Nintendo DS. You basically called into question how people raise their kids. Of course people are going to respond in an appropriate manner.

    Like I said in my earlier post...Sure, my kids get books and educational stuff, but I also love to see the smile on their face when they open up the cheap plastic toy.

    My kids don't get very many random gifts or presents throughout the year. For us, Christmas is the one time where they get the "cheap plastic crap". And they love it. It makes them smile. It makes me smile.

    For what it's worth, both of my daughters, ages 6 and 9, are very high functioning academically. How is this possible if they each have a Nintendo DS? Because they use it in moderation.

    This year, I will buy them more DS games and some cheap plastic stuff.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  23. #23
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by btrage View post
    Except you didn't just ask the question. You framed it in the context of your beliefs. What did you expect? That no one would question your comments?
    Ah... no. I asked what people getting their kids, what they got there kids in past years, and if they were crazy like me when it comes to the toys that they buy their kids. I stated my position and the reason for my position.

    Do you think challenging my position will change my mind? You should know me better than that.
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  24. #24
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    I gave up on all the political threads, now I may give up on toy threads as well.


    “Oh wad some power the giftie gie us To see oursel's as others see us! It wad frae monie a blunder free us, And foolish notion” - Robert Burns
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

  25. #25
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    Ah... no. I asked what people getting their kids, what they got there kids in past years, and if they were crazy like me when it comes to the toys that they buy their kids. I stated my position and the reason for my position.

    Do you think challenging my position will change my mind? You should know me better than that.
    I know you better than that. But you should know I like to play devil's advocate and debate. Maybe I should go to law school.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

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