Top Picks This Week

The Weekly Digest

Happy December! We’ve started the countdown to Christmas—today in the Advent calendar the kids found “open up the holiday books box” (which we hide away for the rest of the year). I need to add some new titles to ours, I think. Here’s an old post about my favorite holiday books. Do you have some I’ve missed that I should consider? That link to “advent calendar” is also a post I like to revisit, for holiday activity inspiration.

On the first day, we decorated the tree and it seemed to go in record time with the kids helping so much. Ever since, they’ve fawned over it and said how much they love it. Skyler, this morning, claimed to want to marry it. I’d say it went well.

Tonight we’re looking forward to a night out with friends: a group of us are going to ride a “brew bike” around a neighborhood in Sacramento that’s known for its light displays. Actually, it’s where the Lady Bird house is. I got my booster yesterday and I’m happy to say that I’m feeling great, so I’m all set to head out and take in the scene.

And yet all the while, I feel compelled to mention, the news feels pretty glum: the other morning was spent listening to the Supreme court hear arguments in the Mississippi case, which will likely end up weakening or even overturning Roe v. Wade. “Depending on the ruling, legal abortion access could effectively end for those living in much of the American South and Midwest, especially those who are poor, according to an analysis updated this week.” “Justice Sotomayor asked whether the court would ‘survive the stench’ of being considered a political institution, a point echoed by Justice Kagan.”

It has been a grim reminder that in his single term, Donald Trump appointed three Supreme Court justices, transforming it for decades to come.

Here are some other, much more fun, links of note…

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Happy Thanksgiving! Some last minute tips (& weekend sales picks)

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you celebrating! I’m pulling some favorite tips from the archives today. Even if these last couple of years have looked very different, there are some traditions I know we will all be clinging to this week.

I also wanted to say thank you for reading. I know I’ve been posting less in this time, but I appreciate many of you coming back here to check in and say hello. I really appreciate it!

Here are some last-minute suggestions for those of you who will be gathering with friends and loved ones this holiday. May you find yourself enjoying it however you have wished…

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Gift Guide: For the Kiddos

Children are the most fun to shop for! I’m always thinking about them, even if mine have started being more specific with their requests. Here are some gift suggestions for the kiddos… 

MakeDo Construction Kit. They can get to work immediately (all the boxes!). Bonus: they might stop using up all your tape.

Magic Butterflies. Place a few in a book for a beautiful surprise. Their little minds will be blown!

Kiwi Crate Pinball Machine. My kids would love to build their own pinball machine! There’s a cute, customizable one by Plan Toys, too, but we’ve had a lot of successes with Kiwi Crates at all ages. Giant bubbles looks great, too.

Smiley-Face Basketball. Because it will look cuter when you trip over it on the floor.

Adjustable, color-in-able inline skates. You can use these over five sizes of growing feet. Brilliant. Don’t forget wrist guards, knee-pads and and a helmet! Scooters, skateboards, and—for the youngest—balance bikes are great holiday gifts, too.

Treasure Blocks. For the mini-hoarders… er, collectors. (So. Many. Collections.)

A dollhouse to match your own home’s style. These are strong enough to sit on, if pretend turns more King Kong than Marie Kondo.

Bath Toys are always a good idea. Kitpas bath crayons are great. Unicorn Poo bath bombs might be a winner even with a tween.

Friendship Bracelet Tattoos. Oso & Me sells the cutest patterns and all their temporary tattoos are awesome.

Perplexus Maze Ball. It’s basically a 3D marble run: you shift, flip, and twist the sphere to guide the marble on 22 feet worth of track with a series of barriers. It does make some noise as the ball rolls around, but it’s pretty unobtrusive.

My Calendar. A beautiful piece that can be toy or art, depending on where they’re at. (Sold at Bitte online, but it’s a lovely, local shop if you’re in Sacramento.)

A first watch. Here’s a round-up of some favorites. Tip: Go for waterproof.

Mancala. I love this game of strategy and recall playing it at my elementary school playground. It travels, has a simple and pleasing design, and you can use pebbles if you lose a piece. (Here’s an old post about the game.)

Pretend-play clothes. (These Meri Meri Dress-up pieces are so cute! And I love the knitted scarves! Like a Puppy or a flamingo or an alligator! Gah!)

You, Me, We. (Hudson and I have been slowly filling in these books together).Us: A Compendium has a similar vibe. Some other winners recently: Silly Jokes for Silly Kids (Because “you’re so silly” is the highest compliment), the Ramona series, Percy Jackson novels, and Mac B Kid Spy. And don’t forget the gift of books in general! Give them a ticket for a date to get their very own library card, if they don’t have one yet. Or wrap up some small bills and take them shopping at a used book store.

Not pictured: Other perennial favorites at our house are Real Origami Paper (it matters), A responsive Yo-Yo (Hudson tells me that the Fizz is the absolute best for beginners), Rubik’s Cubes (all with the help of some YouTube tutorials), and all kinds of soft, fuzzy dolls for snuggling.

What are the children in your life asking for this year? 

P.S. The best children’s gifts are timeless enough to please year after year. If these ideas aren’t working, take a look at these gift guide from the past few years. The link is below each image.


2018—Skyler circled that door-pong in a catalogue this year, and they still play with magnatiles

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