Perfect Pairings – A Book and Toy Holiday Gift Guide!

It’s the holiday season! And if you are anything like me, you are not the shopping type! Lol. I don’t like to go shopping, and so I do 99.9% of my shopping for the holidays online. I don’t even Black Friday shop – that sounds terrifying! However, my husband and sister-in-law go every year together, early in the morning – my brother and I usually meet up for breakfast later in the morning. This year, I have more kiddos than ever to shop for – and isn’t that the best part of Christmas? The joy on kids’ faces is what makes Christmas, whether it is from the sheer wonder of the season, the decorations, the excitement, the family get togethers, and of course, for kids, no matter what we think or teach, it is in part, the presents. I mean, they are kids. It’s fine. I teach minimalism and mindfulness and all that to Wyatt but he is still 3, and toys are awesome. And that is fine too. There is always a balance! 

I love a good theme. I can’t help it. I like when my presents all match a central idea I have. And I thought I would share some of my ideas with you! I of course, always give a book. My cousin’s two children, the oldest in our family of kids, know without a doubt that their gift from me will contain a book. But I also love to pair the book with another gift, a toy or something else that goes with the book (gloves and Little Women for example, for older kids!) to kind of round it out. This year, I have my son, my three little nieces, two nephews, and a few of my cousin’s children to buy for. And I have had a great time compiling some ideas! Most of these are items I have bought for Wyatt or have on my list for another kiddo! 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links for Usborne Books, a company I completely stand behind and love their products. If you buy something through one of these links, you won’t pay any more, but I will receive a small commission. I put an * next to the affiliate links. All other links are not affiliate. Thanks!!

For the Stargazer:

  1. GeoSafari Jr. My First Telescope   2. What Are Stars? book by Usborne* 3. Moon by Britta Teckentrup   4. Phases of the Moon Peg Dolls   5. Uncle Goose Constellation Blocks   6. Lottie Stargazer Doll 

For the Artist:

  1. Faber Castell Beeswax Crayons   2. The Day the Crayons Quit   3. Paint Me a Picture* by Usborne  4.  U.S. Paint Supply No Spill Cups  5.  The Usborne Big Book of Colors*   6.  Melissa and Doug Tabletop Easel

For the Dinosaur Lover

  1. Fossil Hunter Lottie Doll    2.  Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs  3. Dinosuar Party by Melissa and Doug  4. Melissa and Doug Dinosaur Play Rug  5. Dinosaurs Before Dark  6. Usborne Dinosaur Activity Pack*

For the Little Naturalist

  1. Melissa and Doug Binoculars   2.  An Extraordinary Ordinary Moth  3. Bug Hotel by Usborne*   4.  Melissa and Doug Bag of Bugs   5.  Melissa and Doug Bug C (just remember to free them!)  6.  Birdhouse by Usborne*

And there you have it! There are of course so many themes and options and books out there to choose from, these are just a few of mine. Have fun avoiding the crowds! 

My Sunday-Monday Post

 

First, my heart is breaking for all of those suffering in the fires. I just cry over the news these days, as I am sure many of you do as well. I am planning on becoming more of an activist for our environment – I have always done what I could, I’m a vegetarian, recycle, use sustainable goods when I can, but I can be much better and much more active.

We celebrated my birthday yesterday, and it was just a small little family dinner out, which was nice. Today we went to the Detroit Institute of Arts with my brother and his family, which was great. Wyatt seemed to enjoy it, until naptime came and went and we were still there. Then he got a bit cranky… Tomorrow morning Billy and I are having a date morning, and going for a hike while Wyatt hangs out with his grandma at home. I am looking forward to an invigorating walk in the woods, to clear my head and and relax!

Read Last Week:

I finished up Virgil Wander – hands down one of my favorite books of the year. Absolutely loved it. And now,  I definitely want to fly a kite at night in the middle in the snow.

I also read Snowlicious, a short and sweet little romance. It was a great read to follow up my two more serious books! Quick and easy and fun. And snow! Review this week.

And finally, The Glorious Life of the Oak by my favorite nature writer John Lewis-Stempel. I ordered this book and had to wait two weeks or so for it to come in from England. I was so excited to read it, and I loved it! Another short and quick read, all about, well, the life of the Oak. Lol. I found it pretty interesting! I had planned to read Heart Berries, which sounds amazing, but also heartbreaking. I couldn’t deal with more sad this week, so I skipped it for now. I will go back to it because it does look really good.

Reading This Week:

house of dreams

I am starting this book about L.M. Montgomery this week – as well as trying to read Anne of Green Gables again. I think I am more in the mood for it than I was last time.

Watching:

Riverdale, Reign, YouTube junk and that is about it. Not much tv happening over here.

Posted Last Week:

Book Review: Snowfall on Lighthouse Lane

 

How about all of you? What is happening in your corner of the world?

Book Review: Snowfall on Lighthouse Lane

snowfall on lighthouse lane

Goodreads Summary:

Lose yourself in the magic, charm and romance of Christmas in the Pacific Northwest as imagined in JoAnn Ross’s heartwarming Honeymoon Harbor series. 

Growing up on the wrong side of the tracks, Jolene Harper is forever indebted to the mother who encouraged her to fly—all the way to sunny LA and a world away from Honeymoon Harbor. Although Jolene vowed never to look back, returning home isn’t even a question when her mom faces a cancer scare. Which means running into Aiden Mannion all over town, the first boy she ever loved—and lost—and whom she can barely look in the eye.

Aiden’s black-sheep reputation may have diminished when he joined the marines, but everything he’s endured since has left him haunted. Back in Honeymoon Harbor to heal, he’s talked into the interim role of police chief, and the irony isn’t lost on the locals, least of all Aiden. But seeing Jolene after all these years is the unexpected breath of fresh air he’s been missing. He’s never forgotten her through all his tours, but he’s not sure anymore that he’s the man she deserves.

Despite the secret they left between them all those years ago, snow is starting to fall on their picturesque little town, making anything seem possible…maybe even a second chance at first love.

My Thoughts:

This book was the perfect start to a holiday reading season line up. It’s not a Christmas book, although, Christmas movies of the Hallmark sort are talked about! It was a fun, easy read about starting over and reconnecting with the “one that got away”.

I thought Aiden’s character was great – a real hero, the epitome of what a sheriff of a small town should act like.  Returning to Honeymoon Harbor from a stint in the military and then as a cop in LA, he finds that being a sheriff of the town he grew up in suits him. He cares about his community, the people he serves, and despite the fact that he used to be a big city detective, he takes his new position very seriously. He is a family man, cares about animals, and is just a good guy. His past haunts him however, both in his professional life and the memory of the rebellious boy that he used to be, and he has some demons to work through and figure out. Jolene is a bit too blithe for me, or lacking something. I had a hard time connecting with her character – she didn’t seem to care much about some major things that happened to her at the beginning of the book, and it was kind of weird. She, like Aiden, is returning to Honeymoon Harbor after a long time living away, to be with her mother during a health scare. She is on the brink of beginning a new chapter in her career life as well, and is able to use her time back home to gather what she needs and really think about her options.

The two find that their connection is just as strong as ever, and can’t be denied. Both have ties to their past still lingering, and must deal with these issues as well.

Honestly, that is my only complaint about this book. I felt that there were way too many threads and plot lines going on – I think it really watered the book down a bit. Had there been fewer, Ross would have been able to really flesh out the ideas that were left. As it was, I felt some of the issues were a bit throw away, and when they would pop up I would be like, “oh yeah, I totally forgot about that”.

Otherwise, this book is a good solid read to put you in the holiday spirit without going overboard before the holidays, if you are waiting until after Thanksgiving to dive headfirst into the winter holidays. It is not a Christmas romance, but they do celebrate Thanksgiving!

 

Thanks for Little Bird Publicity for the chance to read and review this fun holiday read! I received a complimentary review copy from Little Bird Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

My Sunday-Monday Post

Check out the The Caffeinated Book Review for the Sunday Post
It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date
I didn’t get as much reading done as I wanted to last week, but I did get more family time in. So I guess it was a good trade. 🙂 We just did some little things, but sometimes that is all you need.
Read Last Week:
I am almost done with Virgil Wander. I love it!! It is one of those books that you know you are going to love the minute you open it and start reading. Just the writing alone!
I made some headway with Braiding Sweetgrass. I love it, but it is slow reading for me, and sometimes I just need to escape when I read, and last week was one of those weeks. I am still reading it, but it’ll probably show up on my blog here for a while. Lol.
Reading This Week:

Two totally different type books, and I am excited about both of them! I going to finish up Virgil then move on to these. Heart Berries is only 143 pages and Snowlicious is only 107 pages so they are both pretty short reads.

Posted Last Week:

Finding a Morning Rhythm

Snapshot Saturday

Watching:

We are watching Riverdale (whoa!), Sabrina, Reign (just me), Lore, and the Great British Bake Off! I love that show. I think we are going to start baking more on Sundays, especially as it gets colder – and it has already snowed, so I think that time isn’t far off.

 

Snapshot Saturday

 

SaturdaySnapshot
My prayers go out to anyone suffering right now – I feel like every time I turn on the news, something is happening that breaks my heart.  Much of my last week was spent glued to the news too – there was a lot going on, and while I try my best to not get over inundated with current events for my own mental health, the past two weeks or so have demanded my attention. The timing of these events coincided coincidentally with a 30 Day Slow Down Childhood Challenge that I joined, and honestly, with the way I have been feeling, it was perfect timing. I needed something positive, and the challenge has forced me to do new things, and focus on my family and family time. And it is time very well spent.
For instance, last Wednesday I was having a rough day. Our challenge was to create a family moondala – something I had never heard of before but we were game. Billy and I are creative, and together make a good team, and it was fun to do a creative project with Wyatt. A moondala is a visual representation of what you hope to do in the next month, or lunar cycle. It can include drawings, bits of nature, whatever you want to represent these ideas. So, I poured myself into gathering the materials we might need, and then after dinner, we gathered around our table and started putting it all together. Billy and I really got involved in it, more than I thought we would! Definitely a case of the parents having more fun than the child. Lol. We had a lot of fun, and Wyatt did too, adding stickers and directing us on where he thought certain aspects would go. It was a hopeful, optimistic project, and it was just fun to sit as a family and make. I would think in families with older kids, etc everyone could make their own too.
moondala
I think we are going to try to do this every month!

Finding A Morning Rhythm

fat mug

When I was a little girl, I would wake up in the morning to the sound of the stove clicking on, as my mom started the kettle for her tea. She was always up before us, and had a cup of tea and toast in the dark kitchen before the rest of us tumbled out of bed. I would hear the clicking, then fall back asleep just long enough for the whistling of the kettle to wake me again. Then I would wait in that in-between sleep and wakefulness state, for my mom to come and get me for school. I felt safe and secure in those moments, cocooned in my bed, the light outside just starting to grow brighter, knowing my mom was awake and starting her day.

I recently joined the Wilder Child 30 Day Slow Down Childhood Challenge, and 0n Monday we were challenged to establish a morning rhythm. We were warned that it would take more time than just this one day, but the point of this challenge was to get us thinking about it, and it really is a tough part of my day, especially on days Wyatt has school. I am usually racing about, tense and anxious and hurried, constantly glancing at the clock to see how much time we have left before we leave. Wyatt rarely eats or drinks the breakfast I give him, and I feel very disconnected from him on these mornings. This is not how I want our mornings to start together.

In the book I am reading, Braiding Sweetgrass, the author Robin Wall Kimmerer shares a memory of her father’s summertime morning ritual. She talks about how their family would spend the summers camping in the Adirondacks, and every morning, her father would make the coffee. When it was ready, when he picked it up ever so carefully, the family would grow hushed, respectful, as he poured a bit of the coffee out onto the ground, before pouring it for anyone else, including himself. As he poured it, he would “speak into the stillness”, saying, “Here is to the gods of Tahawus.” The woods came first. And so began their mornings.

I think this is a lovely memory and way to begin the morning, and I know that all cultures probably have their morning songs and prayers. For our family, it was my mom’s tea. For a vlogger I watch, With Kendra, she begins her day with  yoga, coffee, and her planner before her 2 year old twin girls get up, setting her path for the day, in a slow, deliberate manner. I am looking for something that starts our day off less chaotically; I think that just sets a tone for the rest of the day, one that has me already all anxious and rushed. And that trickles down to everyone else. Maybe I need to start recreating the mornings of my own childhood, and getting up with enough time to have some quiet moments to myself before I get Wyatt up. The fifteen minutes I give myself are not enough apparently. And then maybe, once I am not so hurried, I will be able to interact with Wyatt more, connect with him before he goes off to school. I’ve got a few ideas swimming around in my head – maybe we can feed the birds and squirrels together before we leave. Or listen to a particular song. I am not sure yet, but I will get there.

How about all of you? How are your mornings? Crazy or calm? Do you or did you have a routine or rhythm to your mornings?