We found a toy library today. Well, we found it last week, but it wasn't open, so we RE-found it this week. It's, like, a 15-minute walk from our house but it was also -37 with the windchill today and Joel had the morning off so we took the car.
It's amazing. Eleanor played with literally everything that wasn't in a bag (so, all the baby toys and large riding toys, because all the toys with parts come in bags) while I chose which three things we would bring home.
Last week, the janitor had let us in to look around, even though it was closed, and Eleanor fell in love with a pink rubber elephant about as tall as her waist. All week she talked about that elephant and how we were going to bring it to our house, but when we got back the sheer AMOUNT of things available overwhelmed her, and I couldn't get her to do more than pat the elephant on the head.
So we picked up an alphabet flip board and a train track instead, both of which she's pretty in to. The real winner, though, is a castle with turrets, and a king and queen and a horse and a throne.
And a dragon! He lives in there.
When you press the flag on the top, two trumpets shoot up and fanfare a bit and the drawbridge drops open. We were both QUITE STARTLED when we figured that one out. Eleanor spent an hour walking the queen up and down the stairs, shuffling her and the king between the horse, the throne, and the balcony, and having her change the dragon's diaper.
Our membership was $20, and for that price, none of these toys are going to clutter up my house after Eleanor is tired of them. I don't have to store them anywhere while I'm waiting for them to become exciting to her again. I'm not shelling out dollars for a toy she ends up not liking, and I can take risks on things that are outside her comfort zone.
In sum: toy libraries. Look them up.