Stuff It Real Good

Stockings!

I love the tiny treasures that stockings hold, but it is a challenge to fill them each year.  I try to find a balance of fun stuff (that isn’t complete junk) and useful stuff (like socks and floss).  Here are a few things my kids will find in their stockings this year.  All of the links are to Amazon, but I didn’t buy all of my goodies there.  You should be able to find most of this stuff in a store near you.

presentation1

 

  1. Slinky!  These are endlessly entertaining to my kids. And I’m glad they’re cheap, because they inevitably get bent and/or tangled in about 27 minutes.
  2. Little Brown Bat stuffed animal – My three kids each get little stuffed animals peeking out of their stockings most years.  This year I went for the non-traditional: a bat, a llama and a raccoon.
  3. Body Doodlers – Nontoxic bath crayons made for doodling on skin.  My kids love any type of bath-time art, so I expect these will be a hit.  Fingers crossed they wash off as easily as they are supposed to!
  4. See Thru Music Box – This one plays Plum’s favorite, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and it is less than $5! Win!
  5.  Hexbug Nano Cat Toy – Because our cat Elsie needs a present or two, too.  These little Hexbugs skitter around the house like cockroaches. (I’ve actually never seen a cockroach, but I’m assuming they skitter similarly.)
  6. Flossers for Kids – Every stocking needs floss and socks.  It is the law.
  7. Edible Bubbles – We like to try to eat regular bubbles, so I’m guessing that ones that don’t taste like soap will be a big hit.  I also found some touchable bubbles that harden after you blow them, and can then be gently touched or stacked.  I’m kind of excited to try those myself!
  8. Cow Popper – Pistachio, my youngest, loves cows. And I imagine he will also love using these to shoot the balls at his sister.  I’m predicting that all of the balls will be lost by 12/27.
  9. Hair Paste – My 6-year-old loves looking stylish, and his hair IS pretty amazing.  So styling products have begun to appear in his stocking each year.
  10. Butterfly Hair Clips – We’re in the process of letting Plum’s hair grow back into a cute bob from a pixie.  She has specifically requested some “pretties” for her hair. Added bonus these are GOLDEN.

As for me, I’m hoping to get some scratch tickets, a whisk, post-it notes, and of course, FLOSS! Happy shopping!

Advertisements

Books for Christmas

It is a Christmas tradition – the nieces and nephews each get a book from me for Christmas.  (Yes, they get a toy or two, as well.)  So what are we putting under the tree this year?  I tried to focus on stories that feature characters being brave, persevering, and learning gratitude.  And I tried to find some books that feature characters, locations and traditions that might be different from ours.  I have linked these images to Amazon so you can learn more about them, but – as always – I’d encourage you to support your local independent bookstore and buy there!  Here’s our list:

A mouse musters up the courage to ask a lion to teach him how to roar. By Rachel Bright, Illustrated by Jim Field Ages 3-5

A mouse musters up the courage to ask a lion to teach him how to roar.
By Rachel Bright, Illustrated by Jim Field
Ages 3-5

A tale about the power of stories and storytelling set in Morocco. By Evan Turk Ages 4-8

A tale about the power of stories and storytelling set in Morocco.
By Evan Turk
Ages 4-8

Winner of many awards, a book about thankfulness. By Matt de la Pena, Illustrated by Christian Robinson Ages 3-5

Winner of many awards, a book about thankfulness. Features people of all shapes, colors and abilities!
By Matt de la Pena, Illustrated by Christian Robinson
Ages 3-5

Bedtime poem by Inuit throat-singer and author describes the gifts given to a new baby by Arctic animals. By Celina Kalluk Illustrated by Alexandria Neonakis Ages 2-3

Bedtime poem by Inuit throat-singer and author describes the gifts given to a new baby by Arctic animals.
By Celina Kalluk, Illustrated by Alexandria Neonakis
Ages 2-3

A clever and lovely seek-and-find book By B.B. Cronin Ages 3-7

A clever and lovely (and detailed!) seek-and-find book
By B.B. Cronin
Ages 3-7

A book about imagination, frustration and problem solving. By Ashley Spires Ages 3-7

A book about imagination, frustration and problem solving.
By Ashley Spires
Ages 3-7

A silly, funny book in which a penguin tells the readers what his life is really like. By Jory John, Illustrated by Lane Smith Preschool - Grade 2

A silly, funny book in which a penguin tells readers what his life is really like.
By Jory John, Illustrated by Lane Smith
Ages 3-7

A beautiful, poetic story about a boy who sets off alone with only a few belongings to find a new homeland. By Rebecca Young Illustrated by Matt Ottley Ages 4-8

A beautiful, poetic story about a boy who sets off alone with only a few belongings to find a new homeland.
By Rebecca Young, Illustrated by Matt Ottley
Ages 4-8

A story about a bear who finds a piano in the woods and learns to play. By David Litchfield Preschool - Grade 2

A story about a bear who finds a piano in the woods and learns to play.
By David Litchfield
Ages 4-7

Happy shopping and reading!

Things I Love Thursdays – Baby Shower Edition

Baby Showers!  I’m nearing 40 so, alas, my baby shower attendance has dropped off a bit in the last few years. Sadness.  Hopefully I have a few left to attend.  Here is a list of a few of my favorite baby shower gifts to give (and get!).

L.L. Bean Boat and Tote

This is one of my very favorite gifts to give.  They are made in the good ol’ U.S. of A and last forever.  Know baby’s name?  Add a monogram!  Or perhaps add just the last initial.  I have a large collection of these bags and use them for everything.  They have served as diaper bags, luggage, and grocery bags.  I use them daily.  My favorite is the large tote with long handles (to go over shoulders when arms are full of baby and baby things).  I do have a zippered version, which works well for travel.

112636_2253_41

 

Nightlights

I always get an inexpensive pack of nightlights for new moms and dads.  These are really helpful when you are groggily nursing at 4am, and they are usually an afterthought.  Middle of the night diaper changes are jarring enough, low light makes it a little easier.

Nightlights

 

Books

Now that my littlest is in size 3T (sniff!) I am certainly drawn towards those adorable tiny clothes.  But new parents get lots of clothes at showers, so I usually try to give them something else – books.  Also, I am a nerd.  I pretty much think books are the coolest.  I usually try to give a small collection of the titles that were kid tested and kid approved at my house.  So many are available inexpensively on Amazon.  And many come in a variety of formats – board books for younger children, hard cover for keepsakes, and soft cover for when they are a little older.

Engine

 

Zoo

 

words

 

jack

 

bear

 

Clothes

Yes, I know I said I tend to avoid giving clothes, but I love these Hanna Andersson sleepers so much I sometimes just have to gift them.  They are a bit pricey, but the quality is always excellent, and the cotton really is the softest.  We own a lot of Hanna Andersson at my house and not one piece has ever worn out – even items that have been handed down three times.  So pick up one of these adorable sleepers in a gender neutral pattern, and know that it will last through kid after kid after kid and wash after wash after wash.  I like the footed ones for babies, and the footless ones for toddlers.

Sleeper 1

 

village

 

After the shower…

Anything personalized makes a great new baby gift.  Sweet gifts include personalized blankets, birthday blocks, and framed birth info (check Etsy for tons of choices).  And of course, gift certificates to local restaurants are great, too.  With a new baby, sometimes take out is a life saver!

Chamois Stroller Blankets from Pottery Barn are lovely, useful and not too expensive.

Chamois Stroller Blankets from Pottery Barn are lovely, useful and not too expensive.

 

Keepsake Birth Blocks by Smiling Tree Toys

Keepsake Birth Blocks by Smiling Tree Toys

 

As always, no affiliate links.  I have linked these items for your convenience. 

 

Things I Love Thursdays

A few happy Things I Love on this first Thursday of August…

Pengoloo

Penguins

 

A game I never mind playing!  Pengoloo is a memory game made of hysterical little penguins and their colored eggs.  The game is easy to understand, fun, and fast!  It is loved by all three of my kids.  And we’ve given it as a birthday present in the past and it has been well-received. Only negative? The eggs are a choking hazard so stick to playing with kids who are 3+.

Pumpkin Muffins (recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

I do admit that I am usually anti pumpkin food stuffs.  And it isn’t fall.  But these are easy (one bowl!) and tasty.  My kids adore them (because, really, like most muffins, they are basically cake).  Smitten Kitchen is brilliant – I’ve loved every recipe I’ve tried (except the gingerbread, but I think that was more about me and less about the recipe, but I digress…)

Make these muffins.  I cut the sugar down to 1 cup, and eyeball the pumpkin amount.  I also eyeball the spices.  And the muffins are always great.  The recipe is really forgiving. I’m going to try making them with a 50/50 white/whole wheat flour mix in the next few days.  I bet they’ll still be great. Added bonus? These keep beautifully for a few days, unlike some muffins with fruit in them that get soggy on day 2.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/3 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (I usually just use cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger)
  • cinnamon sugar

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 and put muffin tins in a 12-muffin pan.
  2. Whisk together the first 4 ingredients.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients except the cinnamon sugar and whisk ingredients together.
  4. Fill muffin cups 3/4 of the way full.
  5. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes (mine are always done at 25).

Enjoy these August days – eat as much ice cream as possible and run in those sprinklers – it’ll be back to school soon enough!

Things I Like Thursdays

Yes, yes, I know. This is a day late.

And yes, yes, I know.

I owe y’all a real post.  And soon.

I’ve got about 8 in the works. Really I do.

In the meantime…

1) The Most Lovely Building Blocks Ever

I wanted to give blocks to the nieces and nephews – plain ol’ blocks, no batteries, long-lasting, imaginative-play-inspiring, classic fun.  I over-researched this. (Shocking, I know.)  I wanted high quality, hardwood blocks that would last, were beautiful, and were safe (meaning splinter-free, chemical-free, and chewable).  I found them at Smiling Tree Toys via Esty. Not the cheapest blocks out there, but lovely, and personalized.  Read about Smiling Tree – a family business with a fabulous philosophy – you’ll love them, and their toys.

Personalized deluxe 30-piece hardwood block set by Smiling Tree Toys

Personalized deluxe 30-piece hardwood block set by Smiling Tree Toys. Image from their store at Etsy.

2. Sanity-saving, color-changing alarm clock

I only regret I didn’t buy this a year ago.  My son is an early riser.  Some kiddos like to sleep until 7am (or later!), but not mine.  And I like mornings, but I really feel like waking up when the clock reads 5:xx can make for a harder day for me, and for the sleepy little dumplings, who don’t go to bed until much later than they should.  Enter the Onaroo Teach Me Time! Talking Alarm Clock and Night-Light.  This clock can do everything.  In fact, it can do so much, that it is a little confusing.  But there are a few features I am currently loving. 1. It emits a soft yellow glow that replaces a night-light.  2. It has a digital AND regular clock.  3. It announces the time at the press of a button (my son LOVES this!) and 4. It is programmed to turn green when it is okay for my son to creep into my room, and pinch my nose to wake me up. (Yes, he really does this. I thought it was hysterical when he did it to his father. But now? Not so much.)  It works like a charm, and Pickle loves announcing, “It’s GREEN!”  Downside? It IS a bit confusing to use, and is pretty expensive for an alarm clock.  But hey, those minutes between 5:45 and 6:20am?  They’re worth a lot.

Onaroo Teach Me Time! Talking Alarm Clock and Night-Light

Onaroo Teach Me Time! Talking Alarm Clock and Night-Light (Image from Diapers.com, click the image to be linked to their site.)

My Kingdom for a Gift Receipt!

There are some kid gifts that parents love, some they loathe, and some that they have love/hate relationships with.  These include:

LOVE: Gift certificates. The end.

LOVE/HATE: Blocks, Legos or other items with lots of small pieces.  Great toys.  Kids love them.  They are great for imagination, fine motor skills, so many things.  But there are always. pieces. everywhere.  And toddlers especially think one of the best things about blocks is dumping them on the floor (and in the case of Mr. Pickle Pumpkin, yelling “CRAAAAASH!”).  I am forever picking up blocks. And damn, those suckers hurt when you step on them by accident.

LOATHE: Make-up kits.  As a little girl, I would have loved to get one of these.  Now that I know parents of little girls (and have my own little girl!) I can see why this is a street-walker, wall-scrubbing, disaster in the making.

LOVE/HATE: Bathrobes for newborns. Granted, they are ridiculously cute.  But they are entirely impractical.  Newborns don’t want to lounge around in bathrobes, like mini-Hefners.  They want to be cozy and comfy.  And as a parent, my first priority is not putting my newly-cleaned, sweet-smelling bambino in a bathrobe.  My priority is to get that bambino in a diaper before he/she is no longer clean or sweet smelling.

LOATHE: Gum-ball machines. My sugar-sensitive sister got one of these when she was 8.  We still talk about it, 20+ years later.  If you’re thinking of getting a gum-ball machine for the children in your life, print out directions for “gum removal: hair,” “gum removal: upholstery” and “gum removal: carpeting” and include them in the package.