Friday, November 25, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday (Take 35)

1.  I am very grateful that my husband and I had someplace to go this year for Thanksgiving.  His graduate advisor invited us to her home and her parents made a delicious meal.  Another professor and one of my husband’s lab mates who were unable to go home for the holiday were there as well.  Although I would have made a simplified Thanksgiving dinner for David and me had we not been invited, I think that much of the spirit of the holiday would have been lost.  Thanksgiving is not just about the food or even about gratitude; gathering together and sharing good company is an essential part as well.  While we weren’t with family, we were with kind people and had several hours of wonderful conversation. 
2.  Last Saturday, we went to the Raleigh Christmas Parade.  Usually I’m adverse to Christmas activities before Thanksgiving, but I had heard such good things about the parade and didn’t want to miss out.  And I certainly was not disappointed!  It was definitely the largest, longest, and most impressive parade I’ve ever attended.  There were even a few balloons in the spirit of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (I heard from all the Raleigh natives sitting around us that it was the first year for these balloons, so they truly were a treat for all who attended).  Here are a few pictures of some of my favorite parts of the parade:

3.  The last several weeks, I have been very touched by all the kind gestures and comments by strangers.  There’s something about a large pregnant belly that makes people go out of their way to help you!  For example, at the parade, I was sitting on the curb on a blanket and several people around us offered to stand (for several hours!) so that I could sit in their chairs.  I’ve never experienced so much consideration from complete strangers! 

4.  Speaking of a large pregnant belly, here is a picture David took of me last Sunday at 39 weeks:

5.  I’ve heard a lot of negative comments this year about Black Friday and materialism.  While I agree that some people go overboard (have you read about the shootings that have occurred today?) and that stores shouldn’t make their employees work ridiculous hours late at night or early in the morning, I do think that when you take the right attitude toward Black Friday, it’s not such a bad thing.  The best Christmas present I ever received was a Kitchen Aid stand mixer that my parents could only afford because it was an amazing Black Friday deal.  It’s such an amazingly useful gift and I’ll have that baby forever!

6.  I’ve been thinking quite a bit about how I want to approach Christmas with my children.  Growing up, my brother and I always received a ridiculous amount of presents, especially from my grandparents.  Of course, my grandparents gave this gifts out of love, but there were two negative consequences that came from it: 1) Christmas became all about the gifts, and 2) we had bedrooms overflowing with toys that we never played with.  To address the first issue, I really hope to spend a lot of time with my kids celebrating Advent to prepare them for Christmas, and to institute Christ-centered Christmas activities.  Even though I won’t need to worry about this for a few years until the baby is old enough to really participate, I’ve already begun to collect some ideas of how to do this since Advent was not something that was ever even discussed outside of Mass when I was growing up.  Does your family have any great Advent or Christmas traditions that help them keep the focus of Christmas on Christ? 

7.  As for the overcrowding of unused toys, there is only so much I can do about that.  Even just the thought of all that clutter makes me uneasy.  Fortunately, my mom has already told me that she doesn’t want to go overboard like my grandparents did and plans to get less, more useful gifts for the baby.  She also said that she will try to keep my grandparents under check and will give concrete ideas of Christmas presents to family that asks.  That means I have to already have a Christmas list for the baby this year before he/she is even born!  We have very few books for the baby, so I thought that would be a good, useful thing to ask for, as well as some very basic, classic (especially wooden) toys (even though the baby won’t be ready for toys for a while).  Do you have any other ideas for gifts for a baby’s first Christmas?  Here are a couple of my top choices:

Baby Teething Toys: Baby Handmade Sophie The Giraffe TeetherBaby Toys: Baby Colorful Car ToyToddler Toys: Toddler Colorful Star StackerKids Toys: Colorful Shape Sorter Wheel Toy

Kids' Books: Goodnight Moon Board Book by Margaret Wise BrownKids Books: Little Blue and LIttle Yellow by Leo LionniKids' Books: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!


  1. I agree that Black Friday isn't so bad. Even for the workers, there is the opportunity for extra hours and extra pay, often in exchange for time off some other day. People outraged at the loss of Thanksgiving with the family neglect the fact that it's just a government-scheduled holiday that a family could conceivably move to whenever to fit its circumstances (kind of like how I reschedule my birthday because it always falls on the doorstep of finals week :).

    (Also, that's a blessing to have a KitchenAid stand mixer--my parents finally got one of those brutes 25 years into their marriage!)

  2. I'm with you on Black Friday. There are always going to be people who go overboard with it (like the shooting and the pepper spray thing today) but I've been going for years and have only had positive experiences. My mom and I always go and it's really more of a bonding thing that anything else. Oh and about the toys, my uncle gave his kids a large chest and they could only keep the toys that would fit in that chest and then give the rest to charity. I used to think it was so cruel but looking back now, it's genius!

    I also got a KitchenAid because of Black Friday. They really are fantastic little machines.

    Oh and I love the Storm Troopers in the parade and your baby bump! He/she is almost here! So excited for you guys.

  3. kathleen basi has an EXCELLENT advent book. :)

  4. I was going to say about the toys to pick out some things that baby will play with at 6 and 9 months, since his/her birthday and Christmas will be so close together, but I see you've already chosen some of Gus's favorites! A simple wooden walker w wooden blocks in it is also a great one, if you have the space. Gus loves walkers (even though he can already walk!), but he only gets to play w them at his friends' houses, as our house is just too small.

    We only do advent candles at dinner as our Advent tradition, although I am hoping to make a magnetic or felt-board Jesse tree to do with Gus this year. I seem to remember that Jen at Conversion Diary asked the same question last year or the year before and got tons of great responses.

  5. My daughter was six weeks old for her first Christmas. It is a bit challenging to have her birthday and Christmas so close together. After her birthday, and after Christmas, I put away about three fourths of her gifts. I rotate them out during the year, and put away or donate the ones she has been playing with. It helps keep everything new and fresh. Also, check out alma's designs. They have very high quality cloth books, dolls, and wall hangings. We have several of their things, and we really enjoy the very cool Nativity Advent wall hanging.

  6. I agree that a wooden cart with blocks is a great's the best thing we've bought our little boy and he still walks round with it now all the time even though he can walk unaided :)

    Sophie la giraffe also fabulous, good choice!

    And can definitely recommend any hard-paged books. Our son adores them and will bring them to us to read over and over...he especially loves ones with flaps to lift.

    Your first Christmas all together will be so lovely :)

  7. I think my little guy got a barbell rattle and some clothes for Christmas. I got him a couple of books. I agree with the previous commenter who suggested asking for some clothes are toys that are appropriate for a little later (beach toys maybe?) to help with the stuff problem/provide for later.

  8. I'm a little late on this, but I second pushing/ride-on toys for older babies (about 9 months+).

    A couple of items that I would have considered must-have toys for my babies:

    Cloth Crinkle Toy of some sort, this is an example of one:

    Rattle-type toys, at least for in the diaper bag since they travel well.

    A few other items that come to mind: toy/book storage, bath tub toys, cloth diapering supplies, and clothing, if you're in need of it.

    Also, I cannot help commenting on how well-researched the wish list for your baby is. Usually I see a first-time mother's wish list of baby items and buy something that I am relatively sure the baby would actually need and use - but yours is wonderful as is!


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