It has been a month since we opened all the gifts under our tree and I know it seems like a strange time for a Christmas recap of any sort, but here I am doing it anyway. This morning I watched Dessa make a pretend salad for the millionth time with curls in my greasy hair that should have fallen out several days ago while wearing an incredibly comfy (and surprisingly stylish) nursing top. Gift-giving can be tricky and I hate giving and receiving gifts for no reason other than “because it’s what people do.” A gift that brings genuine joy, however, is something to treasure and I would rather receive just one thoughtful gift than thousands of dollars worth of stuff that just takes up space in our home. Each member of our family received some truly wonderful and personal gifts this holiday season and I just can’t resist sharing a few of our favorites with you today.
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Maria’s Favorite Gifts
Latched Mama breastfeeding tops
During the fall and early winter, I was fully invested in breastfeeding Harvey and was desperate for nursing-friendly tops that were stylish and comfortable. My mother in law always asks for wishlists from our family and Latched Mama nursing tops were definitely on my list. I was overjoyed when I opened a charcoal Petal Front Nursing Pullover and Petal Front Nursing Hoodie 2.0 in grey pebble. These tops are AMAZING. They are incredibly comfortable, flattering, and are very easy to care for. The fact that they made breastfeeding a breeze was just an added bonus.
I actually stopped breastfeeding Harvey a few weeks ago when we were struggling to figure out his food allergies and get his gut back on track. I have mixed feelings about my decision and I’m especially sad that I don’t have a functional need for the breastfeeding tops, but they are so comfortable and so cute that I fully plan to keep wearing them all winter long. If you are a nursing mama or you know someone with a baby, I highly recommend these two shirts. They sell out from time to time but keep an eye out for a restock. Size down if between sizes. A size small fits me great and I throw them both in the dryer.
Hot Tools Nano Ceramic Curling Iron
At some point, my sister in law came to the house, noticed that I was using a cheap curling iron, and made a mental note to upgrade my styling tool as a Christmas gift. There wasn’t anything wrong with my old curling iron and it served me well for several years, but the Hot Tools nano-ceramic curling iron that she gifted me is amazing. The iron gets hot faster, has adjustable heat temperatures, and the curls hold so much better than with my old curling iron. I’ve been trucking Dessa to swim every day for the past three weeks and the air around the community pool is hot and steamy. My hair couldn’t hold a curl for anything after visiting the pool this past fall. I’m shocked that the humidity has very little effect on my curls now and the spirals last for several days between washings. This was a gem of a gift I didn’t even know I needed.
The curling iron I received is silver and I searched all over the internet for the exact same model, but can only find it listed on Ebay and Poshmark. Based on what I saw online, the current model of Hot Tools ceramic curling iron that’s black and white appears to be the same quality.
Freshly Picked diaper bag
I have had my eye on a Freshly Picked convertible diaper backpack ever since Dessa was a baby and could never quite bring myself to pull the trigger and purchase one. We had been gifted a perfectly functional Skip Hop diaper bag that is gender-neutral and not too girly for Rob to carry on outings with the kids, so our old diaper bag always got the job done. Now that we have another baby in the family, I figured it was a great time to ask for the bag I had been admiring for so long. You can imagine my excitement when I finally opened a gorgeous black leather Freshly Picked backpack during our family Christmas celebration. It’s hard to feel chic or stylish as I head out the door holding a toddler’s hand while lugging around a baby carrier, but the Freshly Picked diaper bag absolutely helps in that department.
Michael Kors crossbody purse
As much as Rob’s mom enjoys shopping from our Christmas wishlist, she especially loves to throw a few surprises our way. One of my surprises was a cute black Michael Kors Bedrod crossbody purse. This is one of those gifts that wasn’t really on my radar. I made a habit of shoving my wallet, keys, and phone in the diaper bag when my hands were full and I didn’t want to deal with a purse. When I opened the black crossbody purse, I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to keep it, but I tucked those necessities inside, hung it by the back door and figured I could always sell the bag in my Poshmark closet if I didn’t really use it. Now that I’ve had several weeks of using a lightweight crossbody purse, there is no way I’m getting rid of it! I love how easily I can wear it over my shoulder and the fact that it doesn’t have any bulk. There’s no more moving of my wallet and keys from one bag to another. They just stay in my purse and I quickly throw it on as I head out the door. This has proven to be one of those items that helped to simplify my life and make my transitions out the door just a little bit easier.
Shark Navigator Lift-Away Handheld Vacuum
We have needed a new vacuum for a while since our old one is currently dying a slow death. A new vacuum may not be the most glamorous gift idea, but it was functional and necessary so it also went onto my wishlist. Actually, it went on Rob’s wishlist but somehow ended up with my name on it under the tree. That’s ok though because I am not complaining. The Shark Navigator Lift-Away Handheld Vacuum is a great, trusty little vacuum that easily goes from bare floors to rugs and has been great for helping to clean up the endless stream of cracker crumbs that Dessa leaves in her path.
Dessa’s Favorite Gifts
Speaking of Dessa, she also received some really great gifts for Christmas this year.
Garden Fresh Salad Set
The Garden Fresh Salad Set from Learning Resources was one of those toys that were sort of an afterthought when we added it to Dessa’s list for Santa. We bought Dessa a play kitchen for her birthday and she loves using her pans to make imaginary food. I thought about asking Santa to bring the usual assortment of play food for the kitchen with hot dogs, eggs, and french fries; but saw an ad for the salad set on Facebook and thought maybe she would like that instead. Honestly, I figured it would just be less of a crazy mess to manage in her play kitchen. Santa delivered and I am truly shocked by how much Dessa enjoys making salads. She hauls her big salad bowl, tongs and little serving bowls over to the coffee table every single day so we can have a salad party. One day she even told me she was making “cheesy garden salad” and that it was delicious. God bless her salad-loving heart.
Wooden Shopping Cart
We often joke that Dessa is in the early stages of becoming a bag lady. She loves nothing more than loading up any bag she can find with as many toys and household items as she can possibly stuff inside. She also has a history of loading up the laundry basket, calling it a shopping cart and sliding the basket all through the house. When Dessa and I go to our weekly mommy and me class, she always heads straight for the play shopping carts during free play. Santa knows that I am picky about any big toys in the house that I have to look at every day, so he brought Dessa a cute little wooden shopping cart from Pottery Barn Kids. The cart is adorable and Dessa loves it. It really is the cutest shopping cart ever, but if you’re considering it as a purchase, you should know that the cart was designed with form over function and that it’s surprisingly difficult to turn. I’m honestly not complaining because one of my greatest concerns was the possibility of Dessa racing through the house with her cart. Since the cart is so awkward to steer and turn, she physically has to go slow with it. And miraculously she never whines or complains about the difficult steering. She just repositions the cart and powers through.
Take-Along Tool Kit
Santa’s elves were extra busy this year so Santa had to do a little shopping on Facebook marketplace for a gently used Melissa & Doug toolset. Dessa loves carrying the little set around the house and will bang her hammer on anything that “needs to be fixed.” Dessa has fixed our dining floor, rugs, and walls more times than I can count. Our house is in tip-top shape thanks to Santa and this little handy little toolset and it turns out that the wooden nuts in the set tool kit also make great rings. Don’t let the Christmas pajamas fool you – I snapped this photo earlier today.
Melissa and Doug Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles
Dessa is a little puzzle bug and I knew she was ready to start solving jigsaw puzzles. We always do an inexpensive gift exchange with Rob’s extended family and I requested this simple two-pack of 12 piece wooden jigsaw puzzles from Melissa and Doug. Sure enough! Dessa quickly figured out how to manipulate the pieces and can solve each puzzle independently when she sets her mind to it. Jigsaw puzzles teach children so many spatial and problem-solving skills, it makes my heart happy to see Dessa enjoy an activity that is so good for her brain development.
Harvey’s Favorite Gifts
I know this makes me sound like a Grinch, but Harvey really didn’t need anything for Christmas. Rob and I bought Harvey some clothes and loaded his stocking with socks and baby formula. Santa brought a cute little pull toy that he will love when he gets a little bit bigger, but he didn’t need anything else. I actually dreaded the non-clothing gifts I knew we were going to receive because we already have plenty of baby-friendly toys. Thankfully, the few toys Harvey did receive were perfect. Here are two of our very favorites:
Fisher Price Soft Activity Book
Admittedly, we already have a cloth book from when Dessa was a baby, but the Fisher Price 1 to 5 Soft Activity Book is even better. Despite the terrible product photos on Amazon, the actual book colors are vibrant and the book has a fun feature on each page. One has a little pocket, another has a flap to lift, one page has a squeaker sewn in and another has a mirror. Harvey loves staring at the pages of his little fabric book and he thinks the pages taste great. The book also has a cute little purple teether monkey that is designed to fit into the pocket sewn into one of the pages.
The First Years Rattle
Once again, I will stress that Harvey didn’t need any toys for Christmas. But a relative bought him a plush little rattle with arms and legs that crinkle. This cute little rattle has quickly become one of Harvey’s favorite play objects. He loves the bright colors and is always happily munching on it while he grabs at the various appendages.
Rob’s Favorite Gifts
I could finish this post by telling you about Rob’s favorite Christmas gifts that are still going strong, but it just makes more sense for him to tell you all about them himself. So I’ll let him take over for this next section in his own words:
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Hey there, Rob here! You probably remember that I love playing video games and that I bought a Nintendo Switch a couple years ago. But, as you can guess, it’s really hard to find time to play any games right now. The most I can spare is a couple of minutes here and there. Which is why Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is so great; I can squeeze in a few quick minutes while still advancing in the game. It’s really fun to battle Mortal Kombat-style with tons of classic Nintendo characters (and without the gore.)
Johnnie Walker Gold
When it comes to a present for me, it’s really hard to go wrong with some good booze. Maria really knocked it out of the park this year by getting me a bottle of Johnnie Walker Gold scotch. This is the gift that will keep on giving for a long, long time. I love to unwind with a glass of scotch or bourbon after a long day and Johnnie Walker Gold is a very, very good scotch. I’ll be stretching this present out for months to come to make the enjoyment last.
The Story of Civilization Series
I have been on a huge history reading kick lately and my parents bought me one of the best series around: all eleven volumes of The Story of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant. These Pulitzer Prize-winning books cover the history of Western civilization from ancient Sumeria all the way up through Napoleon in a high-level overview type way. He wasn’t concerned so much with minute details as he was of trying to understand human nature, both our highs and our lows, through the lens of history. The Story of Civilization is actually out of print, but my parents purchased a used set online and there are many listings for it on Ebay.
And last, but certainly not least, my mom bought me a couple of cardigans off of my wishlist. The temperature in my office can vary A LOT during the winter. Often, it will be quite cold when I arrive but warm up throughout the day. Or, it might just be cold all day long, especially when we have a polar vortex come down to our area and the outside temperature is downright Arctic (literally). Cardigans are one of the best ways for me to handle the fluctuating temperatures because I can put them on and take them off really easily. These particular cardigans are a wool/cashmere blend so they are a great combination of warm and soft. I just love having these around the office.
Honestly, we were very blessed this Christmas and all of us received many, many wonderful gifts. These were just a few of our favorites. I think the fact that we still appreciate them so much after a month is a good indication that they will continue to be used and loved for a long, long time.