Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Holidays

Yet again, I'm late to the party.  Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas flew by this year and I'm finally getting this post up!


My brothers family came up from Maryland and the boys had the best time.  Dylan loves being around his cousins- they are 5 months apart!

Dylan also LOVED helping us and watching us cook.  We constantly turned on the oven light so he could see what was going on!

We made Brined Turkey with a Delicious Gravy.  I ended up not making the Maple Butter Gravy but my Gravy was still delicious!

Our first course was Leek and Butternut Squash Soup.  It was so tasty!

Brussel Sprouts with Pomegranates and Pancetta is always a favorite at my house.

And of course I can't have Thanksgiving without Kale and Butternut Squash Bread Pudding.  The six of us finished this right up!

We also had a traditional Sweet and Savory Stuffing that had sausage, craisins and all the basics.

My delicious plate of food!

We timed Thanksgiving perfectly with nap time.  All three boys took 2 + hour naps while we enjoyed an early 'dinner.'  After they woke up more play time ensued, including getting some Hanukkah gifts!

There was a joint bath time and a joint story time and then the boys all tuckered out for the night.

We went to the Farm before my brothers family left and even in the 20 degree weather, all three boys had a blast!


Hanukkah was fun for all the boys.  They really got into opening their presents.  We don't do anything formally- no 8 days of lighting and 8 gifts.  When the family is together we open gifts and light candles and my mom makes a delicious meal, but otherwise we are very casual with Hanukkah.  We want it to be part of Dylan's life, but it's not the only holiday he celebrates.

I also had a big playdate with a bunch of our friends before Mike left, and I made this festive Fruit Turkey!

At home we set up our Christmas Tree.  I grew up without one so I always loved colored lights.  It seems white lights are more popular these days, but I just love how festive the tree looks with colors!

We also set up a train around the tree and Dylan was obsessed with that.  And we brought out our own Menorah just in time for the last night so Dylan got to light the candles and get a present at home as well.


Christmas Eve we headed up to my in-laws and then later to Dave's Aunts house.


Dyl fell asleep on the way home and woke up Christmas Day like any other morning.  He isn't quite old enough to grasp the significance of it.  We ate our normal breakfast and then dived into some presents.  Dyl definitely enjoyed opening gifts! BUT, he wanted to play with EVERY toy as he opened them.  I think next year I will take them out of the packaging!

In the afternoon, we headed to the in-laws and had a great day celebrating!

Oh and Dylan has something he'd like to share...

I'm pregnant and we're having another baby boy in early June!  I'm currently 20 weeks and finally feeling like myself again, albeit, quite large!

2014 will be a great year : )

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Best Gifts for Toddlers (1-2 Years)


I'm a little obsessed with researching toys and seeking out the best ones for my son. I've compiled a list of what I think are perfect Chrismakkah gifts for your little one. Now before I tell you to go out and spend a fortune- I have to admit that I buy almost all of his toys used/second hand. Craigslist, Kid to Kid (my local consignment shop), eBay and friends with kids who've outgrown toys is always my go-to.

I also compare prices and use coupons whenever I buy new.

Play Kitchen/Play Food

I saw this play kitchen on a blog and I instantly wanted to have it. It's about 7 years old from Pottery Barn so I knew my options were limited. I searched craigslist and there it was in a town not too far away. Dylan has played with the kitchen multiple times a day since he got it around his first birthday.
A play kitchen for a boy or girl is a must. I recommend one that has multiple doors to open, buttons to click and things to do! I also like the wooden ones because I think they look nicer than plastic if you're going to keep it in a room other than a play room. And it's better for the environment! Win! We keep ours in our kitchen and it matches our real appliances.  It is by far my favorite toy we've gotten for Dylan.

Play Food
I'm getting him more for Christmas. So far he has some from Melissa and Doug that I got with a gropoun to Econmom. (Great website btw). It's also good to have pots, pans and cooking utensils. I got a kenmore set after Christmas last year for half the price then waited until his first birthday to give him it with the kitchen. Similar to this:
For Christmas, Also bought this:

I got a bunch of these sets from Dave's cousins whose kids outgrew it. Dyl loves playing with the farm, bus, village, airplane, fire and dump trucks.

I got a big bag for ten bucks from my local consignment shop but they are pretty cheap on amazon too. Playing and knocking over the towers we build is a nightly pastime. We are also teaching him to put the blocks back in the bag which is exciting that he is learning to clean up.

Dylan Loves puzzles. I got a bunch from Dave's cousins but I've bought a few too. I lucked out by buying some at toys r us when they were having a sale. Home Goods also had a ton of puzzles too!

Dylan loves Thomas the train and I knew buying tracks/bridges and trains would be a big hit. Problem is Thomas trains are 12-15 bucks each! I knew he would destroy them so I decided to take a gamble on eBay. I got an entire set with multiple bridges and about 45 assorted trains for 100 bucks. This new would have cost over 300 dollars. I also asked friends on fb if anyone's kids were done with their train sets and I got more tracks and bridges. We gave him this gift early and he loves playing trains!

Ball pit
I consider this a real cheap gift. We bought the pool for 8 bucks and the bag of balls for 15. Endless hours of fun.

Dylan goes in phases with this but when it's out he loves going in and out.

Almost every toy we got last Christmas Dylan still plays with. Especially this piano, puppy, remote, learning table, soccer ball, lantern, camera and laptop.

Shape sorter
Dylan received both a Fisher Price Shape Sorter and a Melissa and Doug Shape Sorter last Christmas but recently started showing a huge interest. He can put every piece in the correct spot on his own now.

We have SO many books and keep getting more. He just got Richard Scarry Cars Trucks and Things that Go, Best Word Book Ever and What People Do All Day and loves to look at all the pictures and find objects we ask him to find. Any Karen Katz flap books are great as well as Fisher Price Little people flap books. We also love Berenstein Bears, Eric Carle, Dr. Suess, Goodnight Moon, Goodnight Construction Site, I Love you Through and Through... really the list could go on and on. But the links I provided above are so great for toddlers.

Tool Bench
This was another gift he got last year (actually truth is I bought it for 65% off when I was getting a key made at Sears Hardware after Christmas!)We bought him the My First Craftsman Tool Work Bench and he loves this thing and has figured out how to screw the bolts. It's pretty hi tech. Highly recommend!

Play Table and Play Chairs
I think this was one of my best craigslist finds. 65 bucks for the Mammut round ikea table (they no longer sell it) plus 4chairs and two stools. We sit at this table and play with Play Dough and color!

This is a hit with Dylan and pretty much every kid that comes over. You can stack the gears on top of each other, move them around and hit the button to make them turn.  

I lucked out and picked up both Tickle me Elmo and Hokey-Pokey Elmo for $3 bucks each at a Yard Sale.  Dylan treats his Elmo's like his babies.  He gives them milk, tucks them in at night, dances and hugs them all the time.  This is totally an item you should try to find on Craigslist.  What kid doesn't love Elmo?

Outdoor Toys- Bubble Machine, Ride On Toys, Bikes, Wagons, Cozy Coupe, Radio Flyer 3 in 1 
In addition to the toys you see, we also have a lawn mower, a water table and slide and swing.  All great items to have for playing outside! For his second birthday, I plan to get a scooter for him!

My friend Gretchen recommends Bruder and Tonka trucks for her son.  I recently bought a few CAT trucks from Zullily.  But really any 'truck' you get will make your kid super happy!  Dylan loves to sit on trucks that are not meant to be ride-on.  I think it's one of his favorite things to do.

So that's my list of Dylan's current (and hopefully future) favorite toys.  


If you're a mom, I'd love to know your favorite toys your little ones.  I always love recommendations from others! Add it to the list in comments below!