this year i went round and round with what to get parker. i didn't want to just spend a bunch of money and throw toys at him that i hoped would keep him occupied long enough for me to check my email and get dinner ready (though, the thought was tempting). i wanted to get him toys that would really stand the test of time. now, i know that sounds dramatic, but i'm serious. i knew that things like a tugboat or some puzzles would provide some entertainment, but i wanted something that he'd really use. use and love and continue loving for a long time. i've seen those train tables before but wasn't sure he was old enough to really enjoy one and get the whole trains-on-tracks thing. but then we visited a toy store to get some presents for william and lindsey and they had a train table there all set up. he couldn't get enough of it. surrounded by walls of colorful toys, the train table kept his interest the entire time we were in the store. i mentioned it to steve and he thought it'd be a better present for the following year. i wasn't convinced. we visited the store again for some more christmas shopping and once again, the train table was where it was at for parker. so, on christmas eve when we had a family breakfast out and stopped by the store once more, i looked at steve like, "look! he loves it!" then i saw steve eyeing it and measuring it with his own feet. yessssss. we went home, steve and nathaniel drove to lowes, and they bought the supplies to make parker his own. steve spent a good chunk of christmas eve in the garage, building it with william alongside, his trusty sidekick, and even had to hurry back to the store for an unforeseen supply just before they closed for the holiday. i checked in a few times over the few hours they were down there, brought them hot chocolate (the garage was cold!), and watched it become the train table i'd envisioned. once parker went to sleep, they carried it up and all four of the older kids set up a scene with the tracks and trains we already had. i couldn't have been more excited. i knew parker would love it, and, more than that, it was such a special gift to him made by his dad. well, christmas morning came and parker and nathaniel were the last ones down. parker spotted it immediately and could not get out of nathaniel's arms fast enough to get to it. right there, my christmas morning was made. and honestly, he was even more excited than i'd hoped. i thanked steve a million times, but here's one more: thank you so much. it was so special. and now, every time i hear parker playing at it, my heart grows a size. i spy on him around corners as he tinkers at it, moving trains around and accidentally knocking down tracks (he's getting the idea slowly!). i just love it.
i still may stain it, or paint it some other color. i'm not really sure. part of me doesn't want to do anything to it! i don't think i'll permanently paint grass or water, but maybe buy felt to make shapes that can be moved around it. any ideas?