Toddler Holiday Gift Guide 2018

Aloha, friends! We’re straight up barreling towards Christmas here, which means festive fashion is in full force, Santa has been visited (Penny was very skeptical this year), and I’ve got about, ehhhh, 60% of my Christmas shopping done?

 

Which, I know, doesn’t sound too bad, but normally I’m a Black Friday-loving, early-present-buying kinda gal, so I’m starting to feel just a wee bit anxious over not being even close to done, haha.

But I’m hoping that I’m not the only one who’s not done with their holiday shopping yet, because I’ve also been meaning to do ye ol’ holiday gift guide roundup for several weeks now, but you know, life. Heh. And I know that many of you have probably gotten a lot of your shopping done already, which is great! But for those of you who might still be looking for ideas on what to gift your little ones this holiday season, I’ve put together a list based on the things that Penny’s either really loving right now, or the things that made it onto her (*coughmycough*) wishlist this year!

Some of the following links are affiliate links, which means if you click through and buy something, I may earn a small payment (at no additional cost to you.) 

If you’d like recommendations on items for the first year, either as Christmas gifts, baby shower presents, or just stuff to put on your own registry, feel free to check out my Baby Stuff Recommendations posts: Months 1 – 3, Months 3 – 8, and Months 8 – 12.

Stocking Stuffers

Skip Hop Fork & Spoon and Straw Cup

 

Penny’s getting more and more interested in utensils when eating lately, so Santa’s putting a “real” pair of metal utensils in her stocking. We also already have been using the Unicorn version of the Skip Hop straw cup, so I picked up the Fox version to match. These cups are great to use BUT I will warn you that the print on her unicorn cup totally scratched off. From my sister’s experience, some of the prints stay on perfectly well, and some of them scratch off soooo guess we’ll see if Fox beats Unicorn!

Munchkin Miracle 360 Cups (10 oz) and Lids!

 

We’re also graduating to the handleless Miracle 360 sippy cups, in a larger size! And Munchkin recently came out with lids for these beauties as well, which is great because Penny now prefers these and this way I can toss them in my diaper bag without fearing drips or leaks.

Triangular Crayons & My First Coloring Book

 

Penny has been showing an increased interest in coloring, crayons, markers, and the like. It’s still like, a 50/50 split between her attempting to draw and attempting to eat her drawing utensils (siiiiiigh), but I figured that this means it might be a good time for her first real coloring book! I’m pairing it with these triangular crayons that are supposed to be easier for little-little ones to learn to hold.

Dimpl

Fat Brain’s Dimpl toy has so many 5-star reviews on Amazon, it’s staggering! Parents are just so pleased with how much enjoyment their kiddos get out of it, and how deeply they can focus on playing with it. I picked it up as a stocking stuffer for Penny, but I have a feeling we’ll be busting it out early for her to play with on the 9-hour (!!) car ride to my sister’s for Christmas this year, hehe.

Children’s Headphones

Penny is still getting used to wearing these kiddo headphones, but they ended up working really well for us on our last flight to and from Atlanta to visit my sister. They have a volume limit so little ears won’t get hurt, but were clear enough to be heard over the roar of the plane noise, so a good balance! They plug into your device, so while they don’t have the convenience of being wireless, you also don’t need to charge them or replace any batteries. And they’re very reasonably priced too, and while they fit her at 15 months, they also expand so hopefully she’ll get a lot of future use out of them!

Knee Socks

Penny is basically a real-life doll, and dressing her up is SO FUN. I love these knee socks that I picked up on Amazon a few months back, as the colors compliment so many of her outfits and they’re so much more convenient for diaper changes than tights! They’re actually more like thigh-socks right now, haha, but I guess that just means they’ll be able to grow with her for a while!

Gifts

First Toothbrush Set, Toddler Toilet

Ahhh, the glamorous side of gifting. Penny’s finally got 8 glorious teeth, which means we are (trying) to get into the habit of brushing them. This Dr. Brown’s set comes with a soft bristle toothbrush that looks like an elephant from the top, and baby-friendly toothpaste.

I also put a potty on her Christmas list this year, even though we are probably not anywhere close to starting the potty training process yet, I know it’ll be here before we know it! And at least this Summer Infant one looks just like a teeny tiny grown-up toilet (complete with flushing sounds!) which I think Penny will love.

Cuddle + Kind Dolls

 

Penny’s favorite things in this world are her stuffed unicorns from Cuddle + Kind (we have the same one, Zoe, in both the small and large size). These handmade dolls are a bit pricey, but it’s for a good reason, as every purchase helps feed children in need around the world and they’re absolutely beautiful. Cuddle + Kind released a new doll last month — a flamingo somewhat unfairly named “Penelope,” so obviously I couldn’t just pass that up! If you live in North America, it’s not too late to order a doll before Christmas, and they’re offering free shipping right now!

OneKid Road Coat

 

I was complaining on Instagram about how annoying it is to constantly have to put on and take off Penny’s coats when getting her in and out of her carseat, and my friend responded recommending the OneKid Road Coat — a winter coat that is safe to keep on in the carseat! And then another friend of mine reached out and said she had scored an extra one on Facebook Marketplace for half-price, and would I be interested? Heck yes! It’s awesome — there’s two layers to the front: one super thin (like windbreaker-type material) and then the fluffier down layer. You just unzip the outer layer and pull it outside of the straps when buckling into the carseat — that way, you don’t need to loosen the straps to make it fit over the jacket (which is what makes it unsafe) at all! I love it, and now I want to order the unicorn print version in her next size up. 😉

Fisher-Price Little People Disney Princess Klip Klop Horses & Castle

 

Penny finds these little horses so fascinating, and the Disney lover in me loves them because, hello? Princesses! Each little horse comes with a ramp (and feeding trough, heh), and then they also can be used on the larger castle. The castle has been discontinued, but you can still purchase the Klip Klop horses new on Amazon. Even better, scour Facebook Marketplace and you might be able to score the castle AND the horses like I did for an absolute steal! $8 for the entire set!!!

Fisher Price Classics Cash Register

This thing makes me feel nostalgic like whoa — I have so many fond memories of playing with one EXACTLY like it when I was a kid, and I’m so excited that it’s BACK. She’s still a little bit young for it, but she’s really starting to “get” how things work and is just starting to touch on pretend play, so I know that this thing (coupled with a play kitchen, which is definitely something we plan on getting her eventually) will provide tons of imaginative play for years!

Halo Early Walker SleepSack

I’ve dabbled in weaning her off of wearing her sleepsack for all her sleeps, but it hasn’t gone so well. She’s pretty attached to her sleepsack, and that’s fine with me, especially going into these cold winter months since she still has no clue how to use a blanket, lol. However, now that she’s so mobile, she will stand up and try to walk around in her crib, in the sleepsack, which often results in her tripping and falling into the rails. Not so fun. So we’ve started using the Early Walker kind where she can slip her feet out of the holes when she stands up (but still deters her from trying to climb over thankfully!)

Skip Hop Explore & More Kids Chairs

I’m already a huge fan of the Skip Hop Explore & More Activity Table, which Penny has used since she was around 5 or so months old, and these chairs are the perfect accompaniment to it now that we’ve converted it into a real table for her to play on! These chairs were super easy for me to put together and they’re sturdy enough to hold a grown-up’s weight (well, I’ve never tried putting *my* weight on them, but both my mom and sister-in-law have sat in them without issue.)

Nugget Comfort

I’ve been obsessed with the Nugget ever since I stumbled upon them on Instagram, and this foam kid’s couch is at the tippy top of Penny’s wishlist. It’s supposed to be awesome for imaginative play as well as occupational therapy — yes, you can use it like a couch, but you can also can build forts, turn it into a slide, and way more! It also stacks up to save space when not in use. My brother and I already are surprising our sister’s kids with one for Christmas (couldn’t quite be a surprise for my sister & bro-in-law though since it has to be unboxed as soon as it arrives.) They do take some time to ship, so alas, it’s unfortunately too late to get one in time for Christmas Day. But if you’re okay with gifting a belated Christmas present, or just want to keep something in mind for future birthdays or holidays, this is a pretty cool, multipurpose gift!

Books

I could honestly make a list that’s pages and pages and pages of just book recommendations, because I LOVE books, and I hope that Penny develops a lifelong love for them, too! Like, I’m literally counting down the days until I can start reading the Harry Potter Illustrated versions to her. ::starry eyed emoji:: Anyway, these are just some of my current favorites and recommendations:

Emma Dodd Books

These books are sooooo beautiful — honestly, they’re more for me than for Penny right now, since they’re not board books, but the illustrations are gorgeous, and they’re printed on pages with foil detailing and more!! They always have a very simple and sweet storyline to them. I have like 10!

Dear Zoo

Without a doubt, this is Penny’s favorite book in the world, and because it also only has like 100 words total in addition to the flaps for her to lift, it’s also the only book I’m ever able to actually finish reading to her before she gets bored. I bring it up constantly because she’s just obsessed!

A Unicorn Named Sparkle and Uni the Unicorn

And these are the books I’m obsessed with on her behalf, hahaha. I mean, hello! Unicorns!! These books are both super sweet and come in either board book or regular book form, depending on what’s more appropriate for your kiddo. Sparkle is a little more tongue-in-cheek/goofy, and Uni has kind of a meta/self-awareness angle to it. They’re both really fun!

Never Touch A… Series

  

More touchy-feely books that are a lot of fun for toddlers! They’re very similar to the Usborne “That’s Not My…” series of books, but with a little more texture on the pages and a goofier vibe.

Gaston & Antoinette

The sweetest books about how family is about more than looks, genetics, and fitting in! They’re real story books, so Penny is still a little bit young to be able to fully enjoy, but I love reading the story to her and can’t wait until she starts to really appreciate it on her own.

Holiday Books: Dear SantaSanta’s Workshop Lift-a-Flap, Construction Site on Christmas Night

 

In case you’re in the market for any holiday-specific books, these ones are keepers! The first two are both lift-the-flap board books, which are Penny’s favorite, and “Dear Santa” is by the same author as “Dear Zoo”, and we have another book by the same author as “Santa’s Workshop” that she adores (another good one called “Babies in the Forest“). Sean works in the construction industry, so we are already fans of the “Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site” books, and so this Christmas-themed sequel had to make the list!

And okay, that’s all I can come up with for now! If you have any other recommendations on things that your littles loved at this age and up (15 months+), drop ’em in the comments! And I hope you’re all having an awesome holiday season so far!

Thanksgiving Recap & Christmas Ahoy!

Happy December, everyone!

I hope you all had an awesome Thanksgiving holiday (though I know I’m already like, 2 weeks late on the well-wishes for that… it’s been busy around here!). Sean, Penny, my parents, and I all joined Sean’s family for Thanksgiving this year, and it was epic. Penny enjoyed turkey but really went wild for the homemade mac ‘n’ cheese that I contributed to dinner, which made me swell with pride.

We also had a mini-second-Thanksgiving dinner at my parents’ house with Ben, Taylor, and Marnie (who spent actual Turkey Day with Tay’s family) and because of course my mom randomly happened to have an entire second turkey that she needed to cook. Oh well, any excuse for more tryptophan-induced food comas is A-OK by me!

Going back to my parents’ house this week also gave us the opportunity to help my dad pull out some holiday decorations, and had me tripping down memory lane when I found an old photo album filled with baby pictures of yours truly! Which confirmed what lots of strangers stop to tell me anytime I’m out with Penny, which is that she really is my mini!!

 

Well, my strawberry-blonde, blue-eyed mini. 😉

And actually, turns out I got quite a bit of extra time in with my parents over Thanksgiving week, since the weekend after I went with them to the Kennedy Center to see the National Symphony Orchestra’s Decade of Disney concert.

 

Sadly, my Thanksgiving weekend did not end on a tremendously high note, as Sunday I came down with some kind of crazy stomach bug / food poisoning / some kinda something that had me hugging the porcelain throne all night long. UGH. Not sure what happened there, but it had me pretty much out of commission for most of Sunday and Monday. Blech.

I’m feeling much better now, but between getting sick after returning from Atlanta, Thanksgiving, and then that lovely ’bout of illness, it had been a seriously hot minute since I’d been to the gym or worked out at all. I also made the potentially grave error of agreeing to a Christmas Eve 5K with my sister and some friends, however, so I knew that I needed to get back on the horse soon.

I felt better on Tuesday, so I managed to drag myself to the gym and put in a half-hearted workout. Not great, but it was something. And then on Wednesday and Friday, I managed to do some real running and real lifting. Training-wise, even on the mend from being sick, I managed to make it to 1.6 miles, so hopefully by the time 12/24 rolls around I’ll actually be able to do the full 5K.

  

Anyway, that pretty much catches us up to today! And as today is, y’know, December, this officially means we are BRINGING ON THE CHRISTMAS CHEER!!

You can find me (and Penny… and the dogs…) dressed festively for the next 22 days and I’m not even a little bit sorry.

 

On the work-front, I’ve got my regional summit the first half of this upcoming week, so I’ll be camping out at Yelp’s DC office pretty much nonstop for the next couple of days. We all had dinner together last night, and it was great — I love getting to see so many of my coworkers (we all work remotely, so it’s one of the few opportunities each year for all of us to get together), but as I’m sure anyone who’s ever had a work conference derail your daily duties a bit, it’s also for sure going to make for a bit of a crazy week.

And even though I so treasure this time spent with my regional team, it is a teeeeny bit bittersweet. I mean, it’s really only because I’m so spoiled, but even though Penny goes to daycare twice a week, I’ve never had to worry about stuff like traffic and commuting during rush hour — this morning will be my first taste of that. So I’m dropping her off extra early and will just have make peace with the fact that the 20 minutes I spent with her first thing in the morning is the only time I’m gonna get with my girl over the next couple of days (since I’ll be getting home loooooong after she’s gone to bed.) I know, I know, this is the daily reality for tons of parents so I should probably just shut my face. It’s just not my daily reality, so it makes me a little wistful. Also, she hardly eeeeeever naps at daycare so, you know, pray for Sean.

Anyway, on that optimistic note, I’ll bid you adieu for now! Hope everyone has a super fun, festive week as we really start getting into the holiday spirit, and Happy Hanukkah to my friends who are celebrating!

 

Catching Up

I know how trite it is to say, but I can’t help it: I am in total shock that Thanksgiving is a mere 2 days away. Like, I just… I mean… how?!

This time of year always goes by really quickly, but this feels like it’s on a whole other level. I think that Thanksgiving coming early has a little bit to do with it, as does the fact that I’ve just been in a total tizzy of nonstop activity since Halloween.

Penny and I have come and gone from another successful trip to Atlanta to visit my sister, which is always so wonderful. And it’s, of course, even more fun now that Penny actually shows excitement and affection for her cousins (and vice-versa!)

 

There were carousel rides and gymnastics birthday parties and all sorts of fun stuff for her to do while we were down there — we had a blast!

 

I also got to see Ed Sheeran in concert while I was there, which was such a treat. After my last concert being Taylor Swift (at the same venue), I wasn’t sure whether Ed Sheeran’s performance would captivate me, but he is just so damn talented!

It’s just him — no band, no backing tracks, just his guitar, a microphone, and a bunch of looping pedals. My only disappointment was that he didn’t play Tenerife Sea, which was Sean’s and my wedding song, but the rest of the setlist was really great. He has so many big hits!

Sadly, I got sick on my last few days in Atlanta, which put kind of a damper on the end of the trip, and I’m STILL dealing with the same freaking cold now, 10 days later. It hasn’t been debilitating, just making me thoroughly snotty, sneezy, and miserable… and of course at what feels like the worst possible time. I’ve just had a lot to catch up on from being out of town, in addition to all the craziness of it being a short week this week, then holiday stuff, etc. I also haven’t worked out since before I got sick, which is kind of depressing.

On the brighter side of things, at least we got back in time to get to experience the first snow of the season in the DMV area!

Well, it was bright news for like, a few hours that day, before everything turned to total crap weather-wise and it was just an onslaught of sleet and rain for the rest of the day. But still, at least we got a few hours of beautiful crisp, powdery white fluff, which is just the best. You can take the girl outta Ottawa, but I guess her love for snow’s gonna stay.

Like I mentioned, I did have two events over the weekend as soon as I got back, so between jumping on those, digging myself out of my email inbox, and trying to get Penny back on some semblance of a schedule (it’s not really working, lol), things have felt pretty frantic since coming back. I’m trying not to get overwhelmed but I can definitely feel the anxiety starting to rumble under the surface. Hopefully the Thanksgiving holiday and the fact that I have a couple of weeks before my next big work event will help me feel like I have a little room to breathe.

Despite all the busy-busy-ness, we did mange to squeeze in a family photo session this weekend with my brother & sister-in-law — this was literally the only time that we would have been able to do it, so I’m thankful that it ended up being a beautiful, if chilly, day! All of the snow had melted by then, so we got lots of beautiful fall colors as our backdrop.

 

 
 

And that just about catches us up to today! Hopefully I’ll be back with another post a bit sooner this time, but that’s unlikely to be before Thursday, so let me say Happy Thanksgiving in the meantime, and see you on the flipside!

Happy Powellween!

Hope everyone had a great Halloween yesterday!

This little owl finally delivered my Hogwarts letter — although she’s pretty terrible at her job, tbh, since it arrived about 19 years late. Good thing she’s so cute!

While it wasn’t technically Penny’s 1st Halloween, we did take her trick or treating for the first time, and it was so much fun! Even if she still didn’t really have any idea what was going on, or why I kept putting the hood of her costume back up every time she ripped it off.

We made it to six whole houses around the neighborhood, and by the last couple she was starting to get the idea of walking up to the door and holding out her bucket, so I’d call it a rousing success!

And while it wasn’t Penny’s first Halloween, it was her cousin Marnie’s!

So we got some more use out of Penny’s unicorn costume from last year, and the two of them together was honestly almost too much cuteness to handle.

The weather yesterday was also pretty much perfect. After so many days of wet, chilly, dreary weather, the warm, sunny, and beautiful Autumn day was such a welcome surprise!

My parents and I took advantage pre-trick-or-treating by taking Penny, Harry the lion, and Daxter the Monkey out for a nice leisurely walk.

Between Halloween, regular work stuff, and my coworker’s big event that I’m helping out at today, this week has been crazy busy. Actually, the weekend was jam-packed, too! My dad’s birthday was on Saturday, and then on Sunday, Sean and I tried to take in more Halloweeny goodness with Penny (though the event we went to was so crazy packed, we barely spent any time there at all, lol.)

 

Throw in a couple playdates, and things have actually been non-stop for a while! Which, of course, explains why I haven’t been back here to blog in a while, and also sadly why thus far this week I’ve only been able to work out once.

Luckily (?) the workout was a barre class taught by my friend on Monday, and it kicked my butt so hard that I’m still pathetically sore today. And these big Yelper Party events like the one I’m off to shortly tend to easily make me double my daily steps (and then some), so at least I’ll still be shaking out some of this soreness?

This weekend brings more fun and craziness with it, with Sean’s birthday, a friend’s birthday party, brunch, and then my own event on Monday night. But next week Penny and I are headed back to visit my sister, so just powering on through ’til then!

Happy November, everyone!

Fitness Achievement Unlocked

Happy Friday, folks!

I hope everyone had a great week! This week has been a bit of a mixed bag since Penny is teething like crazy and it’s been really, really tough, but I’m still ending the week feeling really proud of myself. Why? Because for the first time, um, let’s go ahead and say literally ever, I worked out every single day this week! 

Clearly what I need to work on now is not making the same dumb face every time I take a gym selfie hahahahaha

Well, okay, I didn’t go to the gym today as I’m insanely sore (I had my final session with my personal trainer yesterday, and we definitely made sure I went out with a bang, haha!) and definitely need to rest. And I know that for some, 4 days in a row isn’t really anything to write home about. But it is for me! And I’m feeling good about my efforts, as well as about the simple fact that I’ve been prioritizing fitness and turning it into a real part of my life.

From the beginning of my (most recent) health journey, one of my goals has been to make working out part of my weekday routine. I figured that being able to work out every morning would help me in my attempts to create more of a routine, in addition to all of the obvious health benefits. Clearly I’m not quite there yet as right now I still need time to rest and recover (especially when lifting heavy things, like my trainer has taught me to do), but this week gave me a lot of hope that I will be able to get there in the near future!

 

And once I’ve hit that goal and see how it feels, I’ll be able to refine it and determine what really feels best for my body and the lifestyle that I want. Whether that means going to the gym 5 every weekday, switching to every other day (including weekends), mixing in other forms of activity, whatever!

Honestly, I’d love to magically turn into the kind of person who truly loves fitness and looks forward to working out every day, but I’m only halfway there currently, and may never be there fully. I can say I like the way it makes me feel, and some days I even genuinely look forward to working out, but most of the time it’s still a bit of a mental battle. And that’s okay, because I’m coming off of an entire lifetime of loathing exercise. So, I don’t want this all to seem like a big ol’ self-congratulatory shoulder-pat, but honestly I feel like I’m doing pretty well.

 

Anyway, in other news, poor Penny had a really, really tough day yesterday. I think she’s got her first MOLAR coming in (all of her teeth are like, sprouting up in her mouth all at once!), and was absolutely inconsolable when she woke up from her post-daycare nap yesterday afternoon.

Like, screaming, crying, sobbing, arching her back, throwing herself out of my arms… and nothing seemed to comfort her. Not holding her, not putting her down, not giving her pacifier to her, not singing to her, not even giving her a bottle. I just felt SO terrible for her. She was really resistant to taking medicine but I was eventually able to get her to take some Motrin and after it kicked in she did calm down a bit, but it was really rough for a while there.

I didn’t have very high hopes for how the night would go either, but thankfully she seemed to do pretty well. She took over an hour to fall asleep, which is very unlike her, but she seemed to sleep reasonably well and didn’t wake up screaming until like 5 AM — way better than I was expecting! She was able to fall back asleep and dozed on and off until around 7:30 this morning (again, thankfully.)

 

And she seems to be doing better today! Still a little, er, temperamental mood-wise, and her teeth are definitely still bugging her, but she hasn’t had another screaming-crying fit (yet…) so hopefully that means she’s not in as much pain, at least? Guess we’ll see how the rest of today goes…!

And with that, I hope you all have an awesome weekend!