Soccer Girls


Nica is doing kindergarten soccer. To help her understand how the game is played, we got her Soccer Girls, which is kind of like army men for sports.


Pack o' girls

You can also get Baseball GuysHockey Guys, etc.


I love the concept of this toy; it’s a great way to teach your kid the basics of a sport and how teammates are supposed to help each other on the field.

One thing I don’t like is that the “field” the set comes with (a felt mat) is too small for the size of the players. It makes for a ridiculously crowded game. Archie solved this problem by drawing the soccer field on a giant sheet of paper.


White turf



Another thing I find irksome is that one player on each team comes with a ball already attached to her foot. And then there’s another ball that comes with the kit, which is gigantic.


Ball on steroids

This ball is size 3. This other one is size 79.


Nica has a lot of fun playing with this kit, especially with her dad, and a bit of what Archie is trying to teach her might be sinking in. But does she apply this on game day? Er, no. At least, not yet.


What you do see on game day:


En-masse running reminiscent of a herd of confused bison.





A lot of hanging off the goal frame.


They put aside their differences to hang together.



One kid who seems to be playing good D—finally!— but is really just tired or lazy.





No goalies are allowed in our games, but there is always at least one kid who is thinking, Hey, if someone stands here, maybe we won’t get scored on so much!





One kid who is really just there for the snack.


She smells Goldfish.

I wanna hug them and pet them and squeeze them and name them George.

Nica has had sets of Calico Critters since she was 3. The cats, the dogs, the hedgehogs, the rabbits…. They are all so tiny and fuzzy. They are so adorable, you want to take them in your hands and just pop their little heads off.

Why is it that cuteness brings out such violent impulses in women? You never hear, “Oh, my God, he’s so cute, I want to gently stroke his hair until he falls asleep like an angel.” Instead, you hear, “Oh, my God, he’s so cute, I could eat him”; “Oh, my God, he’s so cute, I want to die”; “Oh, my God, he’s so cute, I want to tear my hair out, run screaming down the street naked, and kill some innocent bystanders.”


The deer family. They are so precious. Let’s burn them alive.


Nica has a couple of the big playsets, and she really enjoys them. But the one she uses the most is the Carry and Play House.



When you open it up, it looks like this:


Et Voilà


You have to supply your own furniture and Critters, so this is a great gift for someone who has some Calico stuff already. Nica’s aunt and uncle got her the awesome Baby Playhouse Windmill, which she does play with from time to time, but she seems to use the simpler, portable one more.

I remember the days when Nica’s Critters did not have much strife in their lives. They just moved from one room to the other, played with each other, lined up for no apparent reason, went to bed. They hardly spoke to one another except to say “Hi!” and “Oh, thank you!” Now there’s all kind of drama goin’ on in Critterworld.


The Real Hedgehogs of Calico County


FYI, do not get Calico Critters if you…

… have small children who are still putting objects in their mouths. The Critters sets often include teeny, tiny, oh-so-chokey parts.

… are constantly misplacing your reading glasses and/or have arthritis. Your child or grandchild will undoubtedly ask you to retie the strings or bow on some lilliputian apron or dress. I guarantee it will drive you insane. Some of these outfits should come with microsurgical tools.


Seniors rock.

Ham, 2, adores his grandparents—both sets. He asks about them every day, he is ecstatic to see them when he gets to, and when it’s time to say good-bye or I tell him we’re not seeing any grandparents today, he mopes or throws a tantrum. To Ham, his grandparents are rock stars. Or crack.

His love for his grandfolks has made him keen on the elderly in general: Wherever we go, he flashes smiles at old ladies and wizened gentlemen, waves at them, shakes their hands or gives them high fives as requested. He is like a toddling politician trying to win the geriatric vote.

Lately, he’s been playing with Happyland toys a lot. We have many, many Happyland figures. But these are the three he consistently chooses to play with:


Two old, one middle-aged

The woman is the oldest one he could find. We don’t have any grandmotherly figures in our collection.

If Happyland ever makes a Retirement Home set, I’m getting it.