‘Tis the season y’all. I’m busy shopping and list making and triple list making and deciding what to do about Christmas cards (post cards? New Year cards?) and slowly organizing our trip out to Utah. It feels indulgent, buying Gracie Christmas gifts plus a few airplane surprises, but the trip out there is just the two of us (B has to stay in Chicago a few more days to get some more billable hours in, lawyering, isn’t that the best) and we take off at bedtime and there is no way in h-e-double-hockey-sticks I’m coming unprepared. The iPad will be loaded and toddler headphones will be acquired, a travel Magna-Doodle is in the wings, and special new coloring markers will be at the ready in case of meltdown. And then there is Christmas and of course I just got my hot hands on one of the “Top Lists” of the year- top picture books of 2014- and I think Gracie needs all of them. Obviously.
I had to put a week long lock-down on Frozen after Gracie awoke Monday morning asking for it (Hi Mommy, Pozen?) and as soon as we got in the car after daycare (Home? Pozen?) and I told her that Frozen took a nap and went bye-bye. Maybe they will come back Saturday! In the meantime I offered up Charlie Brown, which she rejected, but now that she realizes Mommy is quite serious about no-Pozen she asked for Mr. Brown this morning. Sadly (for her) I said no, but I am going to record Frosty for her as a little Friday night treat. (Frozen will be offered on the airplane as many times as she likes, because Mama isn’t a fool)
Going to Utah presents its own little challenges regarding packing (making room for the gifts we are giving, hoping they spatially match up with the gifts that are given) but for now I’m just mailing every gift I give to may parents and crossing my fingers nothing is much bigger than what it is in my mind. We ordered the UppaBaby stroller travel bag for our umbrella stroller which appears to be back in stock after being sold out at 90% of retailers (I found it at Bloomingdales), making me worry we’d missed the window of opportunity. Fun fact: if you register your UppaBaby travel bag + stroller on their website, if it is damaged under the plane, they fix/replace it for free. Consider it an inexpensive insurance policy. The bag has arrived, and like all things Uppa, I’m impressed with the quality. Go figure.
I am also mentally trying to work out Gracie and I and our trip to the airport for our flight out, which is during rush hour, so the train makes the most sense, except B can’t come so it is me, Gracie, 2 suitcases, a stroller, a carseat, and a huge tote with the diaper bag, stroller bag, Tula inside of it. During rush hour. On a train. Haaaahahahahaha. And of course the logistics of getting us from home/daycare to the train itself, which obviously involves walking city blocks and, uh, can I hire a Sherpa?
I had a momentary freak-out that I only have one holiday-weekend left in Chicago before heading out of town, drastically reducing my spare time in which to get things done. This Saturday we plan on hitting up the Christmas market (plans were thwarted last weekend) with friends and attending a family Christmas party in the evening. Between now and then there are meatballs to make and cookies to bake (having our neighbor over for some sugar cookie decorating) and work Christmas parties to attend (two down, one to go) and of course, work. Always in the way, jobs. I also need to figure out which portions of my ski gear are here in Chicago and which are in my closet in Utah and ask myself why I have my snowshoeing boots in Chicago when all snowshoeing I do is in Utah…. and I should probably remember to bring a spare set of gloves for Gracie and also her snow suit…..
Regardless of the hustle and bustle we are enjoying our tree and Christmas jammies and listening to Gracie “ho ho ho” every time she sees Santa. Christmas with a kid is pretty great, even when they rearrange the ornaments on your tree and try to unwrap gifts that are for others.
And finally, I ask (for…a friend…) how many pairs of Christmas jammies is too many?
(amazon links are affiliate, you know the drill)
A little over a week ago we had family pictures done with Claire of Knoten Photography here in Chicago. We met Claire through Gracie’s daycare- her son attends the same one- and it has been great to make some “family friends” to have playdates with! Claire and her husband have a photography business in addition to their day jobs, and we were so happy to have them come take some photos for us. B and I are both really happy with the finished product…I now have 2 professional sets of images waiting to make it into frames for our house- hello January project. I’m behind the curve on Christmas cards (postcards? happening soon?) but for now, I wanted to share a few of these pictures.
If you are looking for a photographer in Chicago, I highly recommend!
Whew, Friday. We’ve had a great but very long week and I’m looking forward to some R&R this weekend, enjoying my Christmas tree and not making turkey and gravy. After the whirlwind that was Thanksgiving we got back to it- work, daycare, the usual. On Wednesday B had his office holiday dinner which is always a nice time. We got a babysitter, we had good conversation, caught up with colleagues and friends and had a nice night out. It is always nice to eat dinner without worrying about a toddler throwing something or getting antsy.
Last night was the Lincoln Park Zoo’s members night for zoo lights- they close the zoo to just the members, set up all sorts of activity stations and open up the carousel for free rides (among other things). We had a good time despite getting there late due to Bears game traffic. Please note that toddlers feel no obligation to work with the camera.
We had a fun encounter with the lion, he was sleeping right next to the viewing window as we watched he suddenly woke up, looked right at us, wiped his face, rolled over, flicked his tail around and was generally really, really cool to watch. Of course Gracie tried to lean through the glass to get to his fuzzy tummy with her fingers, all while yelling “TICKLE TICKLE LION” which was pretty funny. She was not a fan of the free carousel rides though, as soon as this picture was taken she informed me “NO WANT” and I held her on the platform for the ride.
We had a good time looking at the lights, picking out our annual ornament (Gracie tried to convince us to bring home a few different stuffed tigers, declaring “I FOUND IT! I YIKE IT! TIGER” and carrying them around, except the $1000 one that was so huge she just stood there hugging its leg) and letting her run around since the crowds were so light.
This weekend we have grand plans of Gracie’s last swim lesson, seeing my Dad as he comes through town on his way to the East coast, and watching some Christmas movies. I can’t wait.
Ahhh Cyber Monday. Here we are, filling up our carts to fill up our stockings/trees/menorahs. After extensive research (read: Google and other Mom-friends) here is what I’m going with for Gracie and my almost-six year old nephew……Amazon links are affiliate but you should shop wherever you want, duh. (Shopping for a different age? Check out my Christmas/birthday ideas for 10 month olds and one year olds here)
Stockings will be filled, for the most part, with a plethora of Target dollar bin items (think Sesame Street and Frozen) and small art supplies like crayons and bath paint. I think I’m also going to grab a bottle of “bath drops” to color the bath water – definitely a good bribe to get kids in the tub.
In the same “small stocking stuffer” though process I think my nephew would really love one of these magnetic storyboards, perfect for car trips and waiting rooms/restaurants.
I think books are a part of any great Christmas. I love Adam Rubin/Daniel Salmieri books so my nephew definitely needs Super Secret Pizza Party while I think Gracie is ready for Dragons Love Tacos. I’m well under way collecting Christmas books for Gracie and I think this year she will be getting How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas which fits well with her current dino-love.
The Big (and Littler) Stuff
This year I really wanted to get Gracie something big – either a Learning Tower (which is on an amazing Cyber Monday deal, holy smokes) or a wooden kitchen set- but we are traveling to Utah and the logistics of a physically big gift seemed daunting and/or cost prohibitive.
We did a mini Christmas with B’s parents this weekend and they got her a pretty awesome baby pram (the Costco one, recommend highly, but it is only sold in stores not online) so her “something large” needs are fulfilled.
For Christmas morning we’ve decided on a few Santa items that we know she will love, namely a kids Dyson vacuum and a toddler sized Ergo babydoll carrier. She is all about acting like a grownup (helping to clean up, taking care of her animals and babies) so why not let her?
Based on recommendations from friends, we are also getting Gracie the Thinfun Roll & Play game. It comes with a suggested age of 18 months and up, where kids can roll a die and pick up a card with simple instructions. I think this will be a lot of fun this winter when we need indoor things to do!
No Christmas is complete with out Little People, this year we opted for a dump truck that she can fill with all her treasures and push around.
And finally, I’d like to get her the Aden and Anais muslin dream blanket which is 4 layers of muslin and seems very cozy for winter…in fact I really, really want the adult sized one for myself, but neither here nor there I suppose.
For my nephew we decided to go big with Magformers, the magnetic tiles you can build with. After comparing them to the popular Magnatiles we decided the Magformers were more up his alley because they have gears and “moving part” kits you can add on to them. We are getting him a 37 piece kit with some gears, I think Gracie will be ready for a non-gear set sooner rather than later. I have it on good authority other family members will be supplementing his set.
And for things that are more experience based, we bought a family membership to the nature museum (we can park at the zoo and walk over!) that definitely counts towards the Christmas haul.
And with that, I think we are done. It is so easy to go overboard (kids items are so inexpensive when compared to the adults on the list!) and I like to think we’ve struck a nice balance of special but not totally spoiled.