This post is because I love Christmas, and something about summer being over makes me go right into Christmas mode.
According to facebook I have been finished Christmas shopping on September 4th for the last three years. HAHA
And this post is also because my friend told me I am her sole source of good book recommendations for her little guy. So I feel some responsibility.
Oh and this post is also because we are sitting here waiting out a hurricane in an eerily quiet Miami with everyone's houses boarded up around us. Fun stuff.
This year for Christmas I WANTED to get the girls matching dolls, matching doll beds (think ikea), a few doll outfits, maybe some dolly and me matching pajamas, etc. But....Ruth does not play with dolls. It is what *I* would have wanted when I was little. But Molly has a ton of birthdays and Christmases to get her fill of dollies, and I've come to realize that it is not really Ruthie's thing. And that is totally a-ok and now I just need to figure out what is. Which was not to hard. DRESS UP! Obviously.
Dress up is all my kids play with 24/7. But have you ever looked into BUYING dress up clothes? And I mean, the kind that is durable, nice quality, and will actually stay up on your kids' shoulders and around their waist? We're talking a LOT of money. Especially if you go to etsy or something. We have quite a few fun things, mostly handed down from my sister Kami (a pioneer skirt, a red riding hood cape, some super hero capes my mom helped me unpick the velcro on and put in snaps because the velcro was wrecking the fabric, and a couple classic disney/halloween dress up princess dresses) but I wanted some more things that were durable.
After doing some research I came up with play silks. After figuring that they might be quite fun I happened to be talking to my sister Andrea and she had gotten them for her kids for Christmas a few years ago and LOVES them. So. No questions, that was top of my list. 1. I am excited to dye them with Ruth because I think she will get a kick out of that. 2. I liked picking out the exact sizes I wanted with the idea that some of the them can be forts/capes/dresses while others can wrap around heads, etc. 3. I thought it was a perfect FAMILY gift as all three of my children can play with them. Online people go on and on about them because they are a great montessori thing--kids have to use their imagination to play with them, they aren't a dress-up dress that is a specific thing already. I think that's great, but mostly, I wanted them because I think they will be a blast.
Molly has been in love with cats since Grandma's house, so that was easy. I really wanted to get her a jellycat cat because that is the brand her Ellie (the elephant) is and she sleeps with that thing every night and it is the softest ever. But they are SOOO expensive. So I went with this little guy called the Longfellow Cat and he is adorable and snuggly and WAAAY cheap, so I'm sure it'll be a win.
Will was finished this summer. You know those rat-a-tat cars/trucks/airplanes that you can take apart with a thick plastic screwdriver and put back together? There was a big sale on the airplane and we knew he'd be in heaven and he likes to work on puzzles like that, so I'm sure he'll love it.
For Ruthie I scored on Zulily. They had a couple dance outfits and tutus on a big clearance one time when I was checking and instead of the ridiculous $30-40 prices, we got a couple for under ten bucks. Along with a little pink ballerina duffle bag that I think she will adore.
Of course we had some stocking stuffers--I got the kids wallets for a dollar because they are all super into collecting pennies right now and saving up for things. I also got these little three dollar recorders and harmonicas because I love adding some music into Christmas.
So besides their big present and stocking stuffers, we do a book and pajamas. I splurged a little on pajamas this year because WE CAN ALL MATCH. I'm sure my kids will not be ok with that forever, plus it gets more expensive the more children you have, so I really wanted to do it at least once and figured now or never, right? I'm very excited about them.
On to books.
This year I found a LOT of the Elephant and Piggy series by Mo Willems. We check these out from the library REGULARLY and one day at BJ's (wholesale store like Sam's Club) they had a whole stack of them and I just couldn't resist. I think I got four or five, haha. My kids ALL love those books, and they all laugh and laugh at them. Ruth has the one that we own memorized. I just thought we needed those staples in our library.
For Ruthie I got the first three Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa books. They are an older series with longer pages. I love the old style of illustrations and I wanted to promote a LITTLE longer books with her, but not ready to jump into chapter books yet. (We can do Roald Dahl's Esio Trot, The Enormous Crocodile, etc. My kids love those books so much they will sit and listen to them all in one reading, but it's a pretty long haul for the reader!)
I'm trying to remember for Molly. I know I got a set of Berenstein Bear on clearance a while ago and I think that's what I planned. Not because I think those books are amazing, but they are good, and my kids always enjoy them with a good laugh, and they were on clearance.
Now if we weren't on such a tight budget this year, I would definitely have gone overboard on books. My kids have been wanting to read like crazy lately, Ruth is starting to sound out words, and I definitely want to keep that train going! But then again, I have to remind myself, we do enjoy the library and that keeps us plenty happy! So had I NOT been going with some clearance items, here's some I would have liked:
Heckedy Peg. We have this checked out so often it might as well be ours. My kids have it mostly memorized and the illustrations are FANTASTIC.
Petite Rouge Riding Hood. Again, we might as well own the library copy. In fact, we had it all summer while in Utah and paid $6 in fines, haha. This book is just hysterical. I think we love it even more since we live in Miami and really have come to love the Creoles. But even if you don't have that connection, it is wonderful.
The Circus Ship, by Chris Van Dusen. My sister *just* recommended this to me and it was delightful. I love the rhyming. I LOVE the illustrations and the best part is the page where all the animals are hiding and my kids sit there and search for them all. Obviously, that was the most fun the very first time, but even after dozens of read, my kids still sit there and point out where all the animals are hiding. They love it!
Fables by Arnold Lobel. I have not read this in a thousand years, and unluckily, our library system doesn't have it. But I was thinking about how much Will loves Roald Dahl's the Enormous Crocodile and thinking of how much that reminded me of what my little brother Ethan used to enjoy. He always picked things that I thought were a little too long, or a little too boring. I'd think "What do you see in this stuff?" but they always had some great humor. I remembered that he picked out this Fables book forEVER and EVER to have read at bedtime. He adored them. I'm pretty positive Will will too, once we track down a copy.
Ella the Elegant Elephant. I want to find more. I loved it.
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. I think this is a little old for my kids, but I love it and I think they will too.
Oh if you have a kid Will/Ruth's age get MERCY WATSON--we listen to the audio books in the van because that is what our library has, but they are HYSTERICAL and Will laughs his head off, which is so adorable.
Now for my friends that have slightly younger kids, here are some recommendations of what I already own:
Babies, by Gyo Fujikawa. My kids read this DAILY. They love it so much.
On the same vein, Little Golden Book Mommy Stories by Esther Wilkin and illustrated by Eloise Wilkin. Will and Molly especially love those right now. Also, Molly LOVES the Little Golden Book farm animals story (I can't find it to look up the title) but you say all of the animal noises and she LOVES that.
Off the top of my head, here are ones we reread over and over: Are you my mother?, No Room on the Broom (if you do not have this BUY IT before Halloween, and then maybe your daughter will memorize it like Ruthie, haha), We're Going on a Bear Hunt, Little Blue Truck, Five Chinese Brothers, Princess Hyacinth, The Brute Family (I LOVE this one), Every Cowgirl Needs Dancing Boots, Pout Pout Fish, and Leonardo the Terrible Monster. Oh the Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear--that book is so great and the illustrations are even better.
To make this post EVEN LONGER, here are a list of books that I want to buy/read but have not been able to because they are not at my local library but they come HIGHLY recommended:
The Children of Noisy Village.
Beekle: The Unimagined Friend
Tales of Magic and Mystery
We Were Tired of Living in a People House (illustrated by Doris Burns)
Andrew Henry's Meadow (Doris Burns)
Summerfolk (Doris Burns)
Poppleton the Pig (this is a series, and for older kids, like Ruthie, but I already know she's going to love it, I just need to get in gear and find it!)
And now, I am so excited for Christmas I can hardly stand it and can't wait! But luckily, when it does come, I just get to bake a lot and enjoy doing things with the kids (hopefully outside, this fall has been SOOO INSANELY HOT!) and not worry about Christmas presents!