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.

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  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!

Christmas Gifts and Regrets…

When I was about 10, I looked through the huge Sears catalogue and spotted what I thought would be the world’s best Christmas gift – a rock tumbler.  It was an electrical contraption that looked something like your local hardware store’s automatic paint mixer.  You added rocks, grit and water, plugged it in, and in no time you had beautiful polished rocks! And you could make things with those rocks! Like earrings! And necklaces! Oh the creative possibilities! (If you’re wondering, the answer is yes, I was – am? – a bit dorky.)  I put it at the top of my Christmas list.

And OH HOLY NIGHT, Santa came through!  There it was on Christmas morning. I was thrilled!  I opened it up! I read the directions! I put the rocks, grit and water in the tumbler! I plugged it in!

And then I waited.

FOR THREE MONTHS.

During those three months two things happened:

  1. We moved the very noisy rock tumbler into the cellar.
  2. I completely lost interest in my slowly polishing rocks.

In the years since, The Rock Tumbler Incident has earned its place in Tartlet Family History and Lore and I regularly suffer good-natured and well-deserved ribbing about it.

Some Christmas gifts are just duds.  Here are a few I have regretted…

The Dyson Vacuum Toy

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Honestly, my kids loved this toy.  They played with it all the time.  But they also left it running every time they played with it, and I and my husband would regularly have to go hunt for the cause of that annoying buzz.  They also loved to run it into walls violently.  Unfortunately, this toy recently wandered away from our home. Oh well.

Tegu Blocks

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In all fairness, these blocks ARE awesome.  They are wooden, fun to play with and really lovely.  Unfortunately for me (and my wallet – these aren’t cheap!) my kids never played with them.  Ever.  They loved other blocks and building toys (Duplo and Magnatiles especially), but Tegu?  No love.  Bristle blocks faced a similar rejection.

Magnetic Putty

putty

Again, in theory, this stuff sounds awesome.  It is basically magnetic silly putty that comes with a magnet.  You can make it move and grow and climb!  Sort of.  This stuff just isn’t that fun for a 5-year-old who wants it to move more quickly than molasses.  It also isn’t fun for moms googling “how to get magnetic putty out of my carpet” at 11pm on Christmas night.

So, tell me, what Christmas gifts that you were sure would be winners turned out to be duds?

 

 

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.

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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.

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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. 

 

Living. Life.

Parenthood.

It is fun.
It is funny.
It is humbling.
It is interesting.
It is challenging.
It is ridiculous.
It is tedious.
It is messy.
It is the best thing I have ever decided to do.
It is the most worthwhile undertaking I have attempted.
It is really, really hard.
It is awesome, in the truest sense of that word.

But a lot of the time, it isn’t particularly enjoyable.

It is a never-ending quest to manage, wrangle, calm, soothe, meet-the-needs of, care for, provide, go and do.  And clean.  Why is there so much cleaning involved?

I try to be present as a mom, as a wife, as a person.  But the minutiae, the to-do list, the exhaustion, the frustration, the pace, the never-ending work of fulfilling the needs of others, can make this difficult.  In the quest to tread water, to keep my head afloat, I sometimes forget to feel the slippery water weaved through my fingers, to feel the cool and calming pressure on my skin, to feel my body in that space at that moment.  My life has become an eternal quest to plan for and accomplish what’s next while still being here, now.

Last night at dinner – which I hurriedly, and half-assedly prepared – before Plum started grumping and Pickle started trying to throw his kielbasa (“But I HAVE to! But I WANT to!”) there was a moment when Pickle was looking over at his sister, making funny raspberries, rolling his eyes up into his head, being silly and laughing.  She thought he was hysterical.  Her uncontrolled belly laughter is one of the tell-tale signs of her exhaustion and an impending meltdown, but we ignored that fact for a second.  He mugged and chortled and she laughed and laughed.  And we laughed along, too.

My husband, who had had a very long day of grumpy baby and willful toddler said, “See?  There is always one moment of the day where I like everyone.”  It was a funny way to put it, but I understood.  There is always one moment of the day – an exhalation, a sigh – where the kids are happy, everyone’s needs have been met, the to-do list is forgotten, and we are well and warm.  In that moment we are all present. Imperfect and usually exhausted, but present.  And in that moment, living becomes life, and I gratefully realize that in fact, I am floating, and not treading.