Monday, November 29, 2010

Quick, and Disorganized, Christmas Thoughts

Note: This has taken forever for me to get posted. Sorry. If you want the quick version, skip down to where the **** are, but if anything's unclear, I'm sure I've explained it ad nauseum above the ***. Cheers!

Okay, I don't (ever) have a lot of time, especially not today, but I know I've been getting LOTS of Christmas presents questions, so I'll try to make this short and sweet and give some ideas and also let you know what we're thinking this year. As always, we appreciate anyone thinking of us and wanting to get us gifts. That is the most precious thing.

But this year there are a few things I’d like to say first about how we think about both Christmas and toys. We really don't want to add to our toy load very much. So please try to think outside the box: we'd love a gift certificate to a restaurant so we could all go out to eat (I know Jason's Deli is safe for Nathan's allergies, just off the top of my head), or a membership to the Y or the natural history museum, for example. Also, we'd love some fun CDs (thanks, Grandma Jane, for our awesome They Might Be Giants collection!) and right now we're wishing we had Laurie Berkner's CD called Buzz Buzz.

Books are always well-loved at our house, and we wish we had some Sandra Boynton board books for Nathan, since all our old ones were too well-loved throughout James' babyhood to be readable now (mostly, they're missing too many pages). James is already getting How The Grinch Stole Christmas, I know, but books that we'd love to have would be either an encyclopedia-type book of, say, the ocean or space or an atlas of the human body, or more grown-up books that the whole family could use, like Unplugged Play or a group games book, I think the one my mom used to have might've been called Games People Play? but I don't have time to look it up. Fun family game books that don't require game boards, for active outside play and such, and especially for cooperative play, would be great.

Actually, there's a board game called Pandemic that Ben and I love that we don't it is. The other things on the grown-up list are mostly pretty expensive, but maybe there could be some collaboration? Actually, we'd ALL love some really nice, fancy, lasting socks. You know, wool or organic cotton something or other, knitted socks, SOMETHING that won't get holes in it in five minutes. James really needs size 4T pants too.

For the grown-ups/whole family, we could use a couple of houseplants, and I'd prefer ones that 1) aren't poisonous if ingested (see: Nathan Chews Everything) and 2) it would be awesome if they'd also be great at reducing household pollution. Again, I could Google that if I had the time, but....not today! We really would ADORE a stainless steel pressure canner set, but that's probably pretty expensive. Same with a steam vac, and a hand grain grinder, and maybe even a shotgun. Also, perhaps less expensive but definitely harder to find the perfect one, if anyone likes antiques or garage sale shopping, we really need a sturdy old desk with several drawers that's not too big. We're trying to replace the one in the office because it's too long for that room to be functional, but I don't want a prefab thing that's wasteful and gonna break in a couple of years. I want a real, old, antique desk. So that probably won't be good for Christmas but if anyone sees one at a reasonable price, let me know! Oh, and Ben and I could use a gift certificate to a shoe store. The shoe situation is pretty sad around here. ;)

For Nathan what we really need, AND what is cute and fun to shop for, I hope, is larger cloth diapers. He doesn't fit any of the mediums anymore. This is my favorite of all the ones we have, although it's an "all-in-one" and I usually prefer what's called "prefolds." He also could use some kind of musical instrument set, but I do NOT want, and would probably just return, anything with batteries. Frankly, any toy we get with batteries this year will probably have to be donated or returned, because 1) we are saturated with toys and need to be very selective in which we keep, 2) those toys are less flexible and therefore not as fun to play with or as good for the kids in the long-term and 3) they have a more harmful environmental impact. Plus, hey, Nathan really needs a baby swing so he can play outside on the swingset with Big Brother! That and time in the sandbox are so, so much more fun than a battery-operated anything, you know?

That being said, I know they are fun to see and to play with in the beginning because they're flashy, and occasionally we've gotten a really good battery toy, and we've appreciated what we've gotten, so please don't be offended. It just has to stop somewhere and now is a good time. James is getting so sensitive to these kinds of issues that we have to put our foot down. I don't want a toy that doesn't even do what he wants to do with it, because that upsets him, or a toy that I have to help him play with, because that's just weird. I also don't want the world filled up with cheap plastic baby toys for my kids and their kids and so on to have to deal with and be poisoned by. So. There's my big issue soapbox. I'm sure there's a more politic way to say those things but I am superpressed for time, so please remember that we're just trying to do what we think is best for our kids, and part of that is helping them not be big consumers so that they don't have a broken world when they grow up.

Just to recap, then, we don't want a lot of gifts; we don't want to overconsume, and we're happy with what we have. We'd like our gifts to be useful and durable; otherwise we feel wasteful. We want gifts that will allow kids to play with them freely, that are not restrictive and limited in their scope, but toys that allow imagination, toys made of natural materials, toys that, again, will last for many years and will be fun to play with for many years because they don't have a limited age range.

Here are the basic lists for anyone who isn't interested in hearing me up on my soapbox:

Nathan: cloth diapers (prefolds and/or all-in-ones preferred), a baby swing, maybe musical instruments?, board books, and that's it! He won't even remember this Christmas and he sure doesn't need a lot of toys.

James: boots (in fact, please let us know if you'll get him some, because if no one else does, we probably will), pajamas (but not the ones that are labeled as PJs, because they've been treated with scary chemicals to make them fireproof), toys that will last and grow with him, or really cool sheets, pictures for his walls, CDs, science kits, etc. The list for him includes a lot of Not This and Not That, so please respect that and if you're not sure about something, don't get it. Thank you.

Ben: jeans, shoes, or a gift certificate; a hand grain grinder; a family board game; chocolate; a restaurant gift certificate

Susan: pjs, jeans, or a gift certificate; a family games book; a terry pratchett book; a YMCA family membership

So there's just a couple of ideas. Please feel absolutely free to take any, all, or none of my suggestions and requests. We'd really appreciate some useful gifts this year, but truly and honestly, we're just glad you're part of our lives and we appreciate you. Love till next time~


Thursday, November 04, 2010

Happy Late Halloween!

You didn't really think I'd manage to post Halloween pictures in a timely manner, did you?

Well, thanks for that but no, my life is not that cooperative. But here you go, only a few days late:

Chicken and Knight, in case you couldn't tell.

Fierce but friendly. With a friendly dragon too.

I have a lot more to say, James has been saying some real humdingers lately, but the natives are restless so that's it for today. More soon, I hope. Love to all~