During our Christmas shopping, Jim and I tried to stay away from noisy battery opperated toys that would get lost in the pile of other toys that don't really encourage creativity and thought. If I had known about this website then, our shopping for Willa and the other kids in our life would have been different: http://www.backtobasicstoys.com
Growing up we'd visit both sets of grandparents frequently. Mom's parents had a play room. It was actually grandpa's office/grandma's nursery (a vertical plant stand with a lot of violets, I remember)/the room with the pullout couch that Lisa and I (and the other grandkids) would sleep on/and the place where they kept the tinker toys. I loved those wood dowels in primary colors and the connector pieces with holes around the outer circle. I remember grandpa praising every structure I brought out to show him. Golf or nature shows were always the soundtrack to their apartment, and there was frequently diet pop and cheese popcorn offered as snacks.
Tinker Toys are for ages 3 and up, but Jim and I would probably happily break them in for Willa. Now I'm going to research if there was ever a toy called "Milky the Cow" or if that's just some make believe disappointing Christmas that haunts me. I never felt cheated or lacking as a kid, but I have it stuck in my head that I yearned for Milky the Cow and those fires were never extinguished.