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Entries in gifts (13)


Celebrating Chrismukkah


We're celebrating Chrismukkkah this year. My husband and I celebrate Hanukkah with his family and Christmas with my family. We’ll continue to honor traditions from both holidays. And when Reese is older we’ll explain the significance of each.  

For now, here is my attempt at combining traditions from the two holidays.  

The Tree: In stead of having a red, gold and green Christmas tree (like I've done in the past) or a "Hanukkah Bush," I decorated our tree with royal blue and silver ornaments - Hanukkah colors. 

Wrapping: I wrapped gifts in blue and silver Hanukkah paper and also found some blue and silver Christmas paper. To make sure Santa was still included, I found some fun silver wrapping paper with Santa's face all over at Target. Man I love that place! 

Stockings: I was going to go with blue stockings but I wanted to keep our set from last year. They are red, green and white and they have our names embroidered on.

Menorah: We decided to go with a simple and modern menorah. We'll be lighting one candle for each night of Hanukkah, progressing to eight on the final night. 

Books: Reese is a huge fan of lift-the-flap books. We have Where is Baby’s Christmas Present? and Where is Baby’s Driedel? She loves flipping the flaps on each page looking for what ever it is she should be looking for.

Dreidel: I found a large wooden dreidel at Target. I know Reese is going to love playing with it!  This will be Reese’s first gift of Hanukkah.

Opening Gifts: We will be exchanging Hanukkah gifts, one every night of Hanukkah. These are all small gifts and on the last day we'll exchange our main gift. We'll open most of our Christmas gifts on Christmas morning… maybe a couple on Christmas eve.

Santa Clause: Of course we can't forget good ol Saint Nick! We took Reese to visit Santa and well you can see for yourself that she's not quite a fan yet.  

Food: My favorite part of the holidays -- cooking and eating! This year I'm hosting Christmas Day dinner. Turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes & gravy and some type of dessert. I've never cooked a turkey so wish me luck! And if you have any easy and good recipes, please send'um my way! 

Then the following day we're going to celebrate a Hanukkah dinner at a friend's house. She's making brisket and latkes (aka Potato Pancakes - YUM!). 

So that's how I'm combining the two holidays. I wonder when Reese will be old enough to understand that our family celebrates two holidays and not just one. I hope I don't confuse the gal! If you celebrate Chrismukkah how do you incorporate traditions from both?



MommyBeta Podcast This Week: Taking Credit For Satan's Gift

Click here to download or listen to this week's MommyBeta podcast! Its all holiday talk this week! We discuss teaching our toddler's Christmas words like Satan and Satin and Santa. We also discuss the Elf On The Shelf and creative ways to play the game, and whether or not to take credit for Santa's big-ticket toys. And don't miss our gadget gift guide


MommyBeta Gift Guide: Gadgets! 

Of course you don't need gadgets to raise a little one but they sure do help! So being a technology reporter, I decided to offer up a few high tech tools to help you rear your youngins! 

Luvion Grand Elite Baby Monitor: This monitor ties with the Lorex Live Sense for my favorite baby monitor systems. They are VERY similar and you won't be disappointed with either but the Luvion has a bit of a better screen. It has a 3.5-inch near-HD color screen that can be split for multiple cameras if you have multiple children. It also has a talk-back feature that lets you speak into the camera to calm your little one down if he/she needs a little soothing to go to sleep. The screen also has a temperature gauge with the ability to alert you if the temperature rises or drops in your nursery. You can also record to an SD card. Again, the Lorex Live Sense does all of these things too. They are both great systems. The Luvion costs just under $300 and the Lorex can be found on Amazon for just under $200.  

Gro-Egg Room Thermometer: This is one of Nathalee's picks. It doubles as a night light and a room thermometer. It is nice to get a gauge of the temperature in baby's room at a glance. Cooler temperatures are said to prevent SIDS so it is important to know that your little one can sleep comfortably and safely. This is available on Amazon for about $23. 

Cobra Tag: If you are prone to losing your keys and your smartphone in your black hole of a diaper bag, you need the Cobra Tag! This is a great stocking stuffer that will help the parent who feels a little scattered feel much less scattered. The tag goes on your keychain and pairs with your smartphone. Then your keys go missing, you use the smartphone app to find them. And if your smartphone goes missing, you can use your keys to find it too. If they are both missing, you're hosed. I don't know anyone who couldn't use this product! It is temporarily sold out on Amazon but you can order it through Cobra's site. It works with BlackBerry and Android phones for now. No iPhone support just yet. 

Sony NEX-5K: A good camera is a great investment in your family memories. This is one of the best portable cameras I've used. A friend who works at Sony sent me a tester and it takes GORGEOUS photos! It isn't cheap but it is a little cheaper than the expensive and complicated D-SLRs on the market. This is not an SLR. It is a point-and-shoot with all the features of an SLR including a beautiful zoom lens, shutter control, and several fun features to change the look and coloration of your photos. 

Sonos Sound System: Again, a bit of a luxury item but if you want to get a gadget that is great for baby and the whole family, this is one of my favorites! We use these speakers in most rooms of our house to stream music, podcasts, Internet radio, and more. I like to play Baby Mo the Disney radio station on Pandora and it is easy to do with the Sonos app that you can use to control any speaker in any room of the house. This is an investment in your home system but in my opinion, a worthy one. 

iPad 2: I know, I know, gadgets are expensive. And the iPad 2 is not cheap but I honestly can't imagine being without it. My iPad is basically Baby Mo's iPad. It is FULL of learning apps, music apps, drawing apps, book apps, etc. It doesn't hurt that I review children's apps for Consumer Reports but my little one really does learn from these apps! And in a pinch when he is getting antsy on a shopping trip, I can always rely on some apps to keep him occupied when mommy needs a minute or two more. I know an iPad is not a babysitter or preschool teacher but it sure is a great supplement! 


The Holidays: Not just about the gifts

I remember how excited I was to write my Christmas Wish List and my anticipation that followed everyday until Christmas morning when I would realize what I got from my list. 

I remember drinking Mexican hot chocolate and singing Christmas Carols with my family the night before Christmas. We’d each get to open one small gift. At the end of the night, my brother’s and I would leave a glass of milk and some cookies for Santa Clause. I remember every year we’d wake up around 5am (oh my poor Mom!) to see if Santa had come and sure enough – the cookies and milk were gone and our Stockings were filled. Once we confirmed that Santa had been to our visit we’d go back to sleep for another couple of hours and then get up to open up all of our gifts.

San Francisco Union Square Christmas TreeI have such fond memories of the holidays. It was never about the gifts. We didn’t have a lot of money (but I didn’t know this until I was older) because my Mom always managed to buy us each a handful of gifts that she new we’d love. I so enjoyed opening my presents and I appreciated each and every one. I look back and realize that what I loved most was spending time with my family. Being around each other and laughing.

I want my little girl to have these same memories and appreciations. I don’t want her to grow up thinking the holidays are about gifts. And that the bigger the gift is, the better. I want her to associate the holidays with family. There is part of me that wants to give Reese the things that I didn’t have like lots of fancy expensive gifts but I know that is not in her best interest.

I want Reese to get to make her own gift wish lists with the understanding that it’s a “wish list” and she will not get everything on the list. I’ve seen her reaction when she receives a gift. Her face lights up and her eyes widen with curiosity. Mostly she smiles with appreciation and I don’t ever want this to change. I want her to “want” for things. As she gets older this will be important.

I can manage how much my husband and I buy for her during the holidays but how do you manage family? For starters I created an Amazon Wish List for Reese. Nathalee, awesome suggestion! I shared this with the grandparents and family. I also explained to Reese’s grandparents that she doesn’t need a lot (not to mention we don’t have much more space in our city condo).  And I reminded them that just this month Reese received the last of her Christmas and Channukah gifts from 2010. (She got so much last year that I stocked a lot of the gifts away and gave them out during the year).

I know I can’t control what others buy her, but I can greatly influence what Reese learns to value and shape some of her memories. The holidays are about family, giving, laughter, appreciation and love. And gifts are a distant second to all of this. 

What do the holidays mean to you?


MommyBeta Gift Guide: For Babies (0-12 Months)

It’s baby’s first Christmas (or Chanukuh)!  They’ll never remember it, but your gifts can have a lasting impact.  Below are the MommyBeta’s favorite picks for the wee ones on our lists.

Little Learners

Earlyears Lil' Shopper Play Set: We heart fabric toys!  And each of these has a fun surprise (peel the banana with velcro, crinkle the lettuce, etc.).  Infants will love to manipulate these, older babies will start to recognize the foods and older babies will play pretend by feeding them to their teddy. $18

Fisher Price Laugh & Learn House: Baby can open the door, crawl through, open the window or mailbox, ring the doorbell, play hide in seek with mama or insert the shapes into the top.  Basically, it will keep baby busy and learning—what a great combo! $100

Hide n Squeak Eggs: BabyBeta Nic wanted to steal these from his girlfriend Elle.  This toy offers challenges to a wide age range (from getting the eggs to make noise, to putting caps on, to matching shapes).  And a big plus is that they are super portable. $12

Good Night San Francisco (or wherever you live!):  Want your little one to know your city?  BabyBeta Nic loves seeing cable cars climbing hills and sea lions basking in the sun on the pages of his San Francisco edition.  But the best thing is that this series, Good Night Our World, has a book for many major cities and even some states. $9.95

Fashion Forward

Trumpette Socks: Adorable and fashionable socks that resemble real shoes for infants. And they stay on! There are great designs for boys and girls. $17.50 as pictured.

Experiences Not Stuff

Music Class: Clapping, shaking maracas and eventually dancing are what music class is all about.  Your LO won’t learn to play the guitar, but you may inspire a life-long love of shaking her groove thing.

Museum Pass: There’s likely to be a children’s museum, aquarium or some other educational/play space nearby. A family pass to a place like this will be a joy to baby and mama—hooray for time out of the house!          

Babies are Pushy     

Vtech - 3-in-1 Learning Zebra Scooter: Grow-with-me toy converts easily from push walker to ride-on to scooter. BabyBeta Reese plays with this toy every day and has transitioned from walker to ride-on. $55

Fisher Price Stroll Along Walker: Combining babies’ love for dolls and pushtoys, this one is a winner for the tiny mommy in your household.  It's especially good for pre-walkers. $30

Let’s be Practical             

SnoozeShade Plus: Stroller naps are sometimes a necessity.  Make those naps on-the-go a snap for your favorite baby/mama with this oh-so-functional and versatile stroller cover. $49.99        

Merino Kids Sleep Sack: Ok, we admit it, this one probably crosses the line from practical to luxurious.  If you have a very special little someone in your life, and you want them to sleep like a dream from birth to two years, this is the gift for you.  Really, it’s amazingly worth every penny.  $119

And in case you missed them, here are our gift guides for the mommies and the daddies.