Friday, November 22, 2013

A Christmas Miracle and Gifts for 1 and 4 Year Olds

Last night I finished our Christmas shopping for the girls. A week before Thanksgiving, no less. I'm on fire!

Thanks to our huge construction project and the fact that we're living temporarily in my parents' condo, this Christmas cannot be about piles of *stuff*. When we were packing up our house to move out, I realized how much we have accumulated that we don't even use - clothes for all of us, toys that no one plays with, random kitchen gadgets. I'm no minimalist, but I love the idea I read somewhere about keeping only what's "useful, beautiful, or loved".

So with that in mind, I finished off my Christmas shopping last night on Amazon.

For four year old T:

Amazon Kindle Fire HD (8GB, no ads)

This is her BIG present. I'm rolling my eyes a bit at the idea of a four year old having her own tablet, but I think it's a sign of our technological times, and she will actually get a lot of educational (and fun!) use out of it. We have two trips coming up, and we'll give it to her early to keep her occupied on the plane and car. I chose the version without "special offers" for an extra $15 to minimize her chance of clicking and purchasing something accidentally.

I'm still working on setting it up (I'll write another post later), but will load up a few kids' books, fun apps, music and videos for her. This also means I'll get my phone back at restaurants and waiting rooms!

Tickets to "The Snowman" at the Symphony

Seattle Symphony has an awesome Discover Music series for older kids (6-12) where real symphony musicians play and the conductor explains the music.  The entire show is about an hour, which is perfect. This year they will show the movie The Snowman while the symphony plays the score live. I think T will love it.

Like most kids, T is a born scientist who likes to study the world around her. Because she wears glasses and hasn't yet mastered the idea of closing one eye, things like kaleidoscopes, telescopes, microscopes and binoculars are tricky. This magnifying glass set will be perfect for inspecting slugs (she loves them!) and the fine print on various boxes that she's always asking me to read.

Owl Babies is one of my all time favorite kids' books and T loves it too. This summer at one of the excellent Spanish Story Times at our library, we found out the book has been translated into Spanish. It's a pretty simple story so I can probably manage reading it to her. And soon she'll be able to read it to *us*!

This set of beginning reader books was recommended by a friend. T is very close to being able to read - she has a lot of sight words memorized, and can sound out other simple words with some help. She really wants to read by herself and studies her books carefully for hours (and has memorized many of them!)  So I'm hoping these simple books will be good practice and encouragement for her.

For 1 year old M:

Yes, this sounds crazy. But these little cups are her favorite toy at our toddler group. They're metal, make fun noises, and she loves to nest and separate them. She also loves to put things in them, hand them back and forth to other people, and pretend like she's giving you something to eat. $5.79 for 12? Awesome.

This is another find from her toddler group - when the music teacher brings these out, the babies go crazy. M loves them - they have thin handles and are light, perfect for chubby baby hands. We'll need to keep an eye on them to make sure they don't break, but they are quite sturdy.

Hand Kite and Wooden Eggs

More hippie crunchy toys for BabyM. Watching her interact with the simple toys at her toddler group is amazing - she is so focused and interested in them. I found this Etsy shop, CakeInTheMorn, through a search and fell in love with their wood toys.

The "hand kite" is a smooth wooden ring with a large silky scarf tied to it. The eggs are solid heavy wood, good for putting in things and figuring out gravity and balance. I think they might fit in the nesting cups - we'll have to find out!

For both girls:

Christmas PJs from Old Navy

Since T now wears regular girls' sizes, and M is still in baby sizes, I couldn't find any matching pajamas.  I probably could have looked at Hanna Andersson, but we have a LOT of pajamas already and I didn't want to spend a lot. But I love the idea of special December PJs, especially when we cuddle up and do our Book Advent. T got penguin and snowflake PJs, and M got some cute red ones with a Christmas mouse.

I'm happy with our short list of presents and love that many are things that will be enjoyed through the month of December. I've found that both girls get overwhelmed when there are too many boxes to open and new things clamoring for their attention. Having just a few presents on Christmas Day will be much better, I hope!

What about you?  Have you started your shopping yet?

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Tuesday Lovin' - Passenger and Amazon MP3 Impulse Buys

I spend a lot of time in the car as a cliche suburban stay-at-home mama. Most of the trips are short - to/from preschool, grocery, Target. So I listen to the "regular" radio a lot rather than plugging in my phone to listen to *my* music.

Every now and then I'll hear a song that makes me buy it immediately. I love you, Amazon MP3, for those impulse purchases from my phone.

Passenger's "Let Her Go" was one of them:

I have a weakness for British and Irish male bands and singer-songwriters. What I love about this guy (and yes, Wikipedia tells me it's a guy and not a band) is that you can clearly hear his accent. It's so delightful. :) On a side note, his real name is Michael David Rosenberg, which seems way too serious for a musician.

Since I loved the song so much, and the album was only $6 ($5 now!!) compared to $1.29 for the single, I bought the whole thing, and BOY am I glad. This is absolutely my new obsession - every song is amazing. I love that you can clearly understand his lyrics, which are often brilliant.

There's a song called All the Little Lights which made me weepy while driving the girls to the zoo yesterday - it talks about how every time you feel love, you get another little light in your heart, but how they also go out when something bad happens. He draws such a lovely picture with his words and simple music.

He does have some kid-inappropriate language, but I feel strongly about purchasing music the way it was intended by the artist. If T starts to pick up on it, I'll rethink listening to it in the car.

I really hope I get to see him live. Let me know what you think!

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