Gifts bought and made, given and received

We had some Christmas gift wins that I wanted to share, to inspire you for that point next year when you’re going nuts trying to find that last perfect thing.

I already mentioned the adorable “I Love My Sib” shirts from Aunt Kassi. Enduring popularity around here, and people always comment on them. I think I also mentioned the gingerbread house kit that my Aunt Marta sent the kids. It was nice to have a kit because the pieces were all the right shapes, so they fit together well.

Our big gift for the kids was a bunkbed that I found on Craigslist. It’s a twin-over-full, and I LOVE IT. We actually gave it to them a bit early. They had been sharing a bed, for a while. I noticed that Silas seemed super tired, and I was worried that he was getting sick or anemic or something. When we were at Massanutten, one night Petra slept with me. Mystery solved. Petra woke me up at least six times, saying things like, “Give me a dwink from you cup, Siwas! Scratch my back, Siwas!” Sooo we upgraded their bed situation a few weeks early. I got them matching duvets from IKEA. Silas, especially, is super excited about his bed. Petra’s on the bottom. There’s room for us to cuddle comfortably, if she has a rough night.

I also got them some Frozen figures (wow, just looked at Amazon, and the price has gone up! I thought it was pretty steep before…). That was a big disappointment. The kids loved them, but they kept breaking. When Kristoff’s head popped off, I got super annoyed and returned them. I haven’t found a quality replacement, and the kids are very sad not to have them. They played with them constantly when they had them.

Not counting the ill-fated Frozen toys, the most-played-with gift was an adorable stage and cast of 20 wooden peg people that Katie made for the kids. I should have made myself a stage like that years ago! Peg people are perfect for blocking! Petra and Silas have named each of the people, and keep asking me “Where’s Joel?” or whatever. I’m like…which one is Joel??

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As always, they got SO MANY BOOKS (it was awesome. we love books). Pop-ups were big this year. I found a pop-up of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and then Jenica gave Silas a pop-up of The Little Prince.

My mom found some cool educational toys for the kids, like a balance scale and Inchimals, animals that are also rulers…and you can add them up and get them to match each other. It’s hard to explain, but super neat. She also gave us some money to sign Silas up for swim lessons, which I now need to arrange. He’s very excited.

I’m always amused by the way kids love characters of all kinds, even if they don’t know the original material. Konni gave them some toy dragons, as in How to Train Your Dragon, which they haven’t seen, but they were thrilled, and insisted on calling them by their official character names. Super funny.

Robyn made them photo books with pictures from Natalie and Logan’s wedding. Petra’s focused on Natalie, and Silas’ focused on … cupcakes. 🙂

There were loads more presents, of course. They are roundly spoiled at the holidays.

On our way back from WV, Silas said, “Why did people get Petra mostly doll things, and me building things and train things?” He hasn’t seen toy commercials at all (not true–he saw one when we were watching the Macy’s Parade, and he asked me, “What was that strange little movie about?”), so he doesn’t know that there are “boy” toys and “girl” toys. At home, our family has a rather…Obama approach to toys and gender. I told him that we probably would do well to just pretend that all the toys were for everyone to share at our house. He agreed.

JC’s grandparents gave them a big Thomas the Tank Engine track, but it’s the kind that only is supposed to go together one way. Silas got pretty frustrated with it, quickly. One afternoon, I came home from rehearsal, and found it completely reconfigured, in a way that worked. I asked Silas if he’d done it. “No, Petra did.” I’m not sure I could possibly have managed it that well, but she is so good at that kind of thing.

It’s usually like this for a bit, and then they trade.



Petra helps mix up bath salts.
Petra helps mix up bath salts.

For various friends and relations, I made bath salts, hard lotion, lip balm, body butter, bath bombs, and gardening aprons. The kids enjoyed helping make the bath bombs and bath salts. I didn’t get a picture of the gardening aprons, but I was so pleased with how they turned out. We’ll have to do a shoot when the flowers appear.

I’m always stumped about what to get for many of the adults in my life. They already have most of what they might want. I hit something fun this time–unusual houseplants! Silas picked out a terrarium of desert plants for my dad, who is living part of the time in Arizona and part of the time in WV. JC went to Edible Landscapes and found this *adorable* kumquat tree for his mom. I kind of fell in love with this tree during the weeks when it sat on my dining room table, waiting to be given. The kids decorated a pot for it.


I also made little outfits for the children’s dolls, using leftover fabric from their flower children outfits.

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They were pretty dang excited.

The *best*, though, was the gift Silas made for Petra. He said he wanted to make her a doll, so we found a YouTube tutorial about making a simple doll. I drafted a pattern, cut the fabric, and had him help with pinning, sewing, and stuffing. He was so proud to be able to give this to his sister.

6-20141220_094521 5-20141220_095525 4-20141220_094542The fabric we used for the doll’s “blanket” was a piece of some that I had hoped to use to make the kids bathrobes…well, that didn’t happen. Whoops. Sometimes the stuff on my to-sew list just does not get done. 🙁

Petra got him a toy Horton.

I’m glad to see that my kids are getting into giving people presents and understanding the pride of making something that brings someone else happiness. It’s an important lesson, but a tough one to teach.


Aili Written by:


    • January 23, 2015

      Not…uhm… *THAT* kind of bath salts.

      Although this is the Shenandoah Valley, so we’re thinking about crystal meth for next year’s stocking stuffers.

  1. […] Very Special Present was from Aunt Katie. She made the kids an awesome theater and collection of peg dolls for Christmas, which they play with constantly. I saw that some folks on Etsy sell Frozen character […]

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