Welcome to my blog. I write about fitting in, sticking out, and missing the motherland as a serial foreigner.

The joys of hand-me-down toys

We received a huge load of hand-me-down toys yesterday from our friends the Heisses, who are moving back to America later this week. Jackpot! Hand-me-down toys are nothing new to us (ha ha), most notably exemplified by that time we inherited two dozen My Little Ponies. Oh glorious day.

This time is a little different, though. Many (if not most) of the toys the Heisses gave us were originally hand-me-downs to them, given to them by other families departing Cairo. Heck, some of them might even have been third- or fourth-generation hand-me-downs, the way things go around here.

So you can imagine what an interesting mix of toys it was. Think about it: although we received them in one batch, each one of these toys (or sets of toys) was acquired by a different family with different values and ideas and genders and ages of kids. Maybe some were free. Maybe some were specially saved for. Whatever they were, when the time came to go back to America or on to another overseas location, these toys did not make the cut. The only thing that the families who contributed to this pile of toys had in common for sure was that they lived at one time in Cairo, which you can understand does not make a very cohesive group.

Let's take a look!

(Before we do, let me state clearly that we were so grateful to receive all these toys since we didn't bring any with us. I am not making fun of the people who originally purchased these toys. I just think that considered as a group, they make for an interesting mix.)

First up: the belle of the ball, the one and only My Little Pony castle. It is pictured here without its various appurtenances since Miriam likes to re-assemble it before each play period. This is a true gem. Whoever handed this down to whoever, etc., THANK YOU.

Your run-of-the-mill letter/number floor blocks. Nothing special. Magdalena likes them.

I consider these to be quite the treasure: a set of Ladybug magazines from the mid-1990s. They are in almost pristine condition. I am so grateful for this collection of fresh, interesting reading material for the girls.

Highlights magazines. Meh. In my memory, this magazine is irrevocably associated with childhood doctor and dentist visits (it was all they ever had in the waiting room and the puzzles were always already completed) so I can hardly even look at the cover without feeling all sick and nervous and disappointed.

There are a few books like these - almost normal storybooks, but not quite, because they came free with something (like Heartgard).

Along with the pony castle, some teeny tiny pony dishes. Very cute, but I'm glad there are only a few of them because it makes it easier to manage. (I've always wondered why some toys say on the box, "over 372 individual pieces!" like it's an asset instead of a huge, headache-y liability.)

This was the unexpected favorite for Magdalena. You press a button on this thing and it plays the refrain from a song apparently called Dubi Dam Dam. Repeatedly. She walks around the house and dances to it, so whatever!

A set of small plastic rabbit bowling pins. Awesome.

I thought I knew every classic educational game out there but this lot of hand-me-down toys has a few surprises in it. These matching disks are rather neat.

OK, here comes the really wacky stuff. These - wrestling...guys? I'm not sure - were sprinkled liberally throughout the toy tub. I still haven't discovered them all. Gee, I can't imagine why they got left behind...

Here's a sampling of The Rest - all the things I couldn't quite put a category to, and they don't seem to go with anything else. We've got random character in red, a cat nose, lady's head on a spaceship (seriously someone tell me what that is), a pirate, an orange guy, a large surfboard, and dear goodness is that Kevin Costner?

I think it is.

I'll leave you with this video of the toy that gives me an idea of what hell must be like. I know I'm abnormally sensitive to toys that make noise, but I have to believe that even people who claim they aren't bothered by noisy toys, would be bothered by this one. Watch the video and try to imagine being in the same room as this thing. Also, the "music" doesn't stop. It just keeps going until you manually turn it off.
Hooray for random hand-me-down toys!

(Except that last one.)

An open letter to Egyptians trying to take pictures of my kids

Clotheslines of Egypt