A Safe Space for Alphonse

So I finally did it. The first batch of my Sylvanian toys has been shipped to their new owners and Project Alphonse’s Safe Space is officially started!

Alphonse and his “six-teeth-less” smile, heehee

As many of you already know, I started collecting Sylvanian Families at one of the lowest points in my life. At that time, I had injured my neck and suffered stiffness and mobility issues in my neck, spine, and upper limbs. After one particularly rough day, my husband gave me a set of Sylvanian Families figures to make me feel better. Something in that gift ignited and fuelled an interest and passion for all things Sylvanian, and from that single four-figured family set (and a baby!), my collection grew exponentially over the years. Pretty soon, my Sylvanian Families toys took over every nook and cranny of our home.

Over time, I acquired items not only from local toy stores but also from abroad, all while navigating online websites for great deals. With my husband’s unwavering support and encouragement, I was also able to tick off my bucket list some Sylvanian-inspired dreams. A few years ago, I travelled to London to visit SSK (Sylvanian Storekeepers) and, in the same year, visited Japan to see the Sylvanian theme park in Grinpa. Collecting Sylvanian Families proved to be instrumental in my physical recovery from my injuries. Best of all, it linked me to a worldwide community of collectors who became my friends. Looking back, I truly enjoyed every second of this ride.

And then one day, when one of my old high school friends passed away unexpectedly, it suddenly dawned on me how little time is really given to each one of us. I was also reminded of the tedious, exhausting year I spent disposing of my father’s collection of various items when he died- knowing none of us had the time or predilection to care for it- and the burden, sorrow, and dread it filled me every single day. I certainly didn’t want to pass on this same burden to Alex when he will have enough on his plate with the care of his brother.

As I pondered on all these, I was faced with another pressing concern. As Alphonse grew bigger and stronger than us, we realized that our daily living accommodations were no longer enough to keep him protected; we needed to create a “safe space” for him for those nights when his energy refuses to dissipate into rest or for those times when his anxiety and anger get the better of him. While Alphonse already has his playroom (which doubles as his bedroom), we felt we needed an even more controlled environment where he could decompress and relax. The room we envisioned would be padded, sensory-friendly, and child-safe, but also relaxing and comfortable.

One night without sleep is one night too many. 🤯

When Alphonse doesn’t sleep, we don’t sleep! 🥴

We looked at the Internet for inspiration and we found companies that specialized and custom-built them. I spent more than a few nights poring over pictures and prices, customization and colors, sizes, and designs. Alas, not only were they expensive; they were also available only in Europe and in the US. The cost of transporting one to the country, with the current tax measures in place, would be more than our pockets can bear.

The most logical option is to DIY one for him. After taking a good look at our home’s layout, we found the perfect location to be my Sylvanian storeroom. This extra space could easily be an adjunct to his living space, making the transition easier for him.

Ultimately, it was Alphonse’s need that proved to be the tipping point in my decision to let go of some of my Sylvanian Families, dolls, and other sundries. When the Sylvanian storeroom is cleared enough, the funds acquired from this sale will jumpstart the renovation to install wall and floor paddings, smart lights, cctv cameras, and audio/video equipment.

Over the last few months, I have already re-homed some of my precious toys, but there are still more to be organized, sorted, and sold. I will keep my favourites to give to my future grandkids, but the rest will have to go to give Alphonse his safe space.

Should you be interested in the purchase of Sylvanian Families or dolls (I also have duplicates of Blythes, Barbies, and accessories) or even just in helping out to make Alphonse’s safe space a reality, please send me a message here or on Facebook. I welcome all help.

Someone asked me if this means I am saying goodbye to toy collecting, and, consequently, to the friends I’ve made. Truthfully, I don’t feel like I am giving up on my community of collector friends. The desire to enjoy Sylvanian Families toys remains just as strong as the first time I laid eyes on them. I look at this decision as simply an opportunity to enjoy playing again instead of always obsessing for the next big thing.

The long and short of it is this: I want to love more and want less. And in wanting less, I hope we will be able to give Alphonse his own safe place.

Kittymama loves her new SF family! 😍


The Ban Kee Trade Show 2015

Ban Kee Trading, Inc.,  the official distributor of Sylvanian Families toys in the Philippines, held its annual Trade Show at the Shangri-La Hotel last Friday, September 4, 2015. The trade show featured the company’s impressive line-up of well-loved toys and baby products; it also showcased new items for the coming holiday season. The whole day affair was by invitation only, with Ban Kee’s clients, business partners, and special guests in attendance.

Ban Kee Trade Show 01

At the Ban Kee 2015 Trade Show

For almost 30 years, Ban Kee has brought to the local market a wide variety of toys and baby products. Partnering with some of the largest and most trusted names in the children’s market industry, Ban Kee has made these once inaccessible products readily available and at reasonable cost to local consumers. One of their most well-loved products, Epoch’s Sylvanian Families, has experienced a resurgence in collectors’ interests, caused in large part by the effective marketing of the toy line. This included a special dedication to the creation of charming, whimsical displays that are outstanding advertisements for the brand the world over. Although Sylvanian Families is said to cater to the upper end of the market, Ban Kee’s efforts to bring in a more diversified line helped create new enthusiasts and renew flagging interests of the older collectors.

Ban Kee Trade Show 02

With Mr. Joseph de Leon, Ban Kee’s Brands Department Manager

For 2015, the Seaside series comprise the bulk of Ban Kee’s Sylvanian Families offerings. These newest themed play sets which can be purchased as individual pieces or as gift sets are still available in toy stores all over the country. As an adjunct to brick and mortar stores, ToyTown, Ban Kee’s retailer arm, has also partnered with Lazada, a popular e-commerce site, to beef up its online presence and bring their products to other parts of the country.

Aside from the featured products, the Trade Show also brought in another piece of good news for Sylvanian collectors. In the works is a special 30th Sylvanian Families Anniversary celebration, with commemorative events, sales, and activities for the diehard Sylvanian fan. (Me! Me!) Even as I write this, details of the said event are already being ironed out. I will follow up this news and update local fans accordingly.

I hope that Ban Kee Trading is able to bring in the newer releases of the Seaside series. We’re keen on the new ice cream parlor, the adventure figure set, and the merry-go-round. One thing for sure, there’s loads of fun (and education!) to be had with Ban Kee’s choices of toys. And if the Trade Show is any indication of just how much fun it’ll be, there’s plenty to look forward to in 2016 and in the coming years.

Sylvanian Page Update!

SF Cleaning TipsI am reposting the Care tips from PH Sylvanian Families in this blog to make it easier to find. Mobile Facebook, unfortunately, does not make accessing notes easy for fans of the page. I’ve added a new section in my Sylvanian pages called ” Sylvanian Play Tips: Collecting, Organizing, and Taking Care of Your Sylvanian Families Toys.”  You can either click this link to go there or click the tab and scroll to the subpage.

If you have any more suggestions and helpful tips, please feel free to comment so I may add to the lists.

Happy Sylvanian collecting!

Because It is Still Easter in Some Part of the World

Yesterday was a day spent with the boys at home, eating barbecue ribs, garlic honey shrimps, and that undeniably Filipino dessert concoction, the halo-halo. We couldn’t go out with the boys because Alphonse still has a fresh wound on his ear (he had a second operation, maybe another story for another day). And so, instead of bringing them out, we thought to celebrate at home with the hopes that maybe Alphonse wouldn’t feel so bad about being cooped up for so long.

In the few minutes before Alphonse woke up yesterday morning, however, I took pictures of my larger Sylvanian rabbits as my Easter photo for this year. I didn’t have time to set-up my dolls and critters so this had to do. This is a bit late as Easter has come and gone where I am but because it is still Easter Sunday somewhere in the globe. I am posting this to wish everyone a  –

SF Easter rabbitsMay the spirit of our Risen Lord be with us always,

with love, friendship and peace for us all!


Sylvanian Families- Collection Update 2015 P1

I should really get around to uploading these pictures to the Sylvanian collections. If I don’t do it now, I’ll never get them done, I just know it. With me being at Alphonse’s beck and call these days (and he does beckon very often, alas!), there’s hardly any time to do much of anything else except look at a few figures now and then.

Usually, I no longer bother to post separately before I upload these pictures in their proper categories. I thought to do it differently, just so I can see in one glance what I’ve done so far. Doing this also allows me to know right away which boxes and bags I still have to work on.

These figures are part of last year’s purchases from London, Japan, and Hong Kong. There are also a few that were bought locally, precious finds from local toy collectors and resellers. As much as furniture and houses are fun, I’ve discovered that I love figures more and can’t wait to add more to my collections. I have some more that will need to be reunited with their families so here’s hoping I have more time tomorrow to haul them out. In the meantime, please enjoy my new figures.

Warning: This post is graphic heavy.

The Grandstand and Souvenir Shop with Shopkeeper Zoe Barker (FL)

New SF 0315 01- Sue Barker and games stand

The Fish and Chips Van with the Osbornes (FL)

(Papa Finley comes with the van, Mama Francesca comes in the “Francesca the Fish Fryer and Sonny” play set, and Andrea comes from the “Canal Rowing Boat” set.)New SF 0315 02- osbornes and fish and chips van

This is Sonny Barker. He has a thing for fish and chips.

New SF 0315 06 FL Sonny Barker

Dolly’s Candy Floss (FL)

New SF 0315 21 FL Dolly's Candy Floss

Elsie’s Ice Cream (FL)

New SF 0315 20 FL Elsie's Ice Cream

Chocolate Labradors (FL): The Hunter-Smyth Family

Papa Charles, Mama Camilla, Brother Hector, Sister Isabella, Baby Gerald and twins Thomas and Georgina

New SF 0315 04 FL Chocolate Labradors

 Striped/ Caramel Cats (JP)

New SF 0315 03 JP Caramel Cats

 Beavers (JP)

New SF 0315 24 JP Beavers

 Gray Mice: The Thistlethorns (FL)

New SF 0315 17 FL Thistlethorn Gray Mice

Goats (JP)

New SF 0315 16 JP Goats

Yellow Labradors (JP)

New SF 0315 15 JP Golden Labradors

Monkeys (JP)

New SF 0315 14 JP Monkeys

Hamsters (JP)

New SF 0315 07 JP Hamster

Solitaire Cats’ Wedding Set (FL) 

New SF 0315 08 UK Solitaire Cats

(Grandma) Hazel and Rihanna’s Day Out (FL)

New SF 0315 19 FL Grandma Hazel and Rhianna Dappledawn

Babblebrook Grandparents (JP)

New SF 0315 13 JP Babblebrook Grandparents

Chocolate Rabbit Grandparents (JP)

New SF 0315 23 FL Chocolate Grandparents

Berry Grove Cheerleaders (FL)- renewal figures for SSK membership

New SF 0315 22 FL Berry Grove Cheereleaders Renewal Figures

Maypole Dancers: Abbie Keats and Poppy Dappledawn

New SF 0315 18 FL Mayflower girls

Oakwood squirrel brother (JP)

New SF 0315 12 JP Oakwood Squirrel Brother

JP Milk Rabbit sister with JP Cake Shop Special Gift Set

New SF 0315 11 JP Cake Shop Special Gift Set Milk Rabbit Sister

 JP Prize Pink Cotton Rabbit (c.2000)

New SF 0315 10 JP Special Prize Pink Cotton Sister Yr 2000

Woodland Princess (JP)

New SF 0315 09 JP Woodland Princess

Part 2 coming soon…


The PH❤SF Love Photo Contest 2015

Thank you 03 copyThe final entries came last night in a flurry of last-minute submissions. There were more entries in the past two days than in the first three weeks of the contest and I was floored with all the e-mail and private messages I got one after the other.  I was also pleasantly surprised to find that this year, despite the absence of international submissions, we had 70 local entries- a record number!

While the judges set about to studying each picture in detail, I’d like to invite you all to please check out the submissions of our local contestants. You can find them at the PH❤SF page in this album: The PH❤SF Love Photo Contest 2015.

PHSF timeline old

My thanks to all those who Liked the page, who made time to set up their detailed dioramas, painstakingly took photos, and submitted their entries, and who stayed tune to all the developments in the page. I am also deeply grateful to Ban Kee Toys, the official distributor of Sylvanian Families in the Philippines, and to Mr. Joseph de Leon, Brands Department Manager, for the support they have shown me and the PH❤SF community.

And with yesterday being Sylvanian Families’ 30th birthday, I must say these entries were all wonderful ways to celebrate this important milestone! Salamat muli!

HBD Sylvanian Families

Mabuhay ang Sylvanian Families sa Pilipinas!


Just A Regular Every Day

I have not had a real chance to play with my Sylvanians in a long while. When I packed up my Sylvanians in May last year to do some house remodeling, I did not foresee that getting them back out again would take this long. But life is crazy that way and what we plan for one day isn’t necessarily what will happen the next. The best we can hope for is to always be prepared, and if that doesn’t work, at least to hope for some grace and wisdom for when things go awry.

These last few weeks, we’ve all been hard at work to make our house feel like a home again. We’ve had boxes of things from my parents’ move lying around forever. Old furniture that we had been storing for a planned remodel were occupying what little space we had left. Even our collectibles were in sore need of organization and downsizing. We were living in boxes again and suffocating from the huge weight of clutter in our lives.

The first to go were piles of junk. I call them junk now but for a long time, I could not bear to let them go, determined as I was to find a use for them. Then, we finally found a great upholsterer who could work within our budget. In two weeks, we had three sofas, two arm chairs, and three ottomans looking like new again. We finally rid ourselves of that unsightly pile of old sofas lying around in the garage. We started moving around the house, reorganizing to make more room, giving old collections a once over to make sure we didn’t start piling them on again.

We still have more to go through and that means combing over the catch-all rooms- the basement library in our home, the kitchen and bedrooms in the schoolhouse. We have also planned some minor kitchen remodeling, additional shelving by the basement stairs, and a second round of roof repairs. It’ll take us much longer to sift through all those, but as long as we continue, one day at a time, I am confident even those will be ticked off our to-do list in no time.

In the meantime, while I take the morning off for some rest and recreation (I have a wee bit of a cold), allow me to share with you my newest Sylvanian treasures. I think finding them reawakened my Sylvanian mojo, my desire to start playing with them again after all these many months. And you already know by now that Sylvanian grandparents are my favorite figures in the whole line; they never fail to make me smile.

I purchased this pair of Babblebrook grandparents from my dear friend Apples for a very reasonable price. They were a little stained and dirty from storage and didn’t have all their accessories (Grandpa was missing his cane and Grandma was missing her shawl) but they were in great condition. Their fur/flocking did not have any scuffings or scratches, which was most important. Their clothes were not ripped and only needed some washing to restore to their original colors. And they both had their wire eyeglasses, which can be so difficult to find these days.

I gave them both a bath last night. Washing the figures lightened the stains but I did not try any of the more vigorous cleaning techniques I have employed on newer figures because of the possibility of tearing their flocking. These are old figures, circa 1986, and I would much rather love them with their flaws than risk hurting them.

Here is a before picture (original photo of Apples):


Here is an after picture:


I fashioned a cane from a real plant stalk and spray painted it clear to give it some sturdiness. Grandma’s shawl is borrowed from an outfit sewn by The Crafty Ladybug for my Periwinkle grandmother. The color is great on her, and is very close to the original. I can live without the missing parts for now but will be on the lookout for them in the future.

Finally, here they are, being welcomed by some of the senior rabbit citizens of Kitty Little Lanes.


Sylvanian Families help remind me that no matter how busy we are with real life, it’s always a gift to be able to play, to relax, to unwind. So today, as I get ready for the next round of cleaning, I am thankful for these moments of peace, for this gift of unhurried time, and for this joy of childhood play.