Monday, December 26, 2016

First Christmas with Victoria
and Favorite Toddler Gifts

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This Christmas is special and different for a few reasons. It's our first with Victoria, which made it especially fun buying and wrapping gifts. It was also the first that Graham and I decided to spend on our own in Chicago, without family. It wasn't that we didn't want to be with them, but we wanted to establish our own traditions and celebrate with them before and after. There's also a third reason we are glad we spent time on our own this year: A few days before Christmas, our dog Taylor collapsed and was unable to move or breathe. We frantically took her to an emergency vet, who told us that she had fluid in her chest surrounding her heart. After an emergency procedure and lots of testing, we found out she has a mass in her chest. While we are grateful she is still around, it's been a sad, defeating and scary time. We tried our best to make stay positive and remember an important part of the holidays is to cherish our time together. We visited family in Louisville the next day when it became clear Taylor was doing better, and she seemed so happy to see her old stomping grounds. (That's where she was born.) Another way to take our minds off the pain of change is to see the smile on Victoria's face when she learned that Santa had visited our home while she slept. She is so loved by many who sent her adorable and fun gifts to open on Christmas morning. She spent the day scattering her toys about, playing with all of them and insisting we could not put them away.

Some of my favorite that she received from us and from others:


  • Cloud B Twilight Turtle nightlight. Turtles are my favorite animal, so when I saw this nightlight I knew I wanted Victoria to have it. It doubles as a stuffed animal and lights up Victoria's room with stars that change colors.
  • Elena of Avalor jewelry. We watch this show every day, and I think Elena is a great role model. I also like that they have snippets of Spanish on the show.
  • Melissa and Doug chunky wooden puzzles and art easel. I became acquainted with Melissa and Doug toys at Target when Victoria arrived. She loves a puzzle I bought her so much, and now she has four more! One is the alphabet, another is numbers, a third is dinosaurs and a fourth is safari animals. She also received a dinosaur floor puzzle that she loves assembling! I really wanted to get her the art easel as well, because coloring is one of her favorite activities. I recently saw this one at a friend's house, and her toddler and Victoria bickered over it at one point, so I knew Victoria would love to have this in her room.
  • Moana musical globe and jewelry box. This was a gift from Victoria's grandparents, among other items. She already loves putting her Elena of Avalor jewelry inside. It also plays a song from the movie.
  • VTech Smart Shots Sports Center. This will be nice to have this winter since we can't go to the park to play with a ball anymore. She can stay as active as possible (and entertained) inside our place.
  • Peppa Pig Peppa's Red Car and long-sleeve shirt. Victoria loves this show. She watches it every day and requests to watch it incessantly during road trips. The theme song from the show never leaves my head. 
  • Hermione Granger wand. Obviously. Victoria seems interested in Harry Potter, and she already pretended that a reed diffuser stick I have is a wand, so of course she will play with this wand. 
  • ABC Yoga book by Christiane Engel. This book shows kids how to do yoga! It has adorable names for the poses, too.
  • LeapFrog LeapStart Interactive Learning System. With a stylus she can point to the activity books and learn with this system, which we bought in pink. (It also comes in green/blue.) So far she just has one activity book. The levels progress from preschool to first grade.
We are incredibly grateful to have people who care about us and wanted us to have gift cards to help shower Victoria with gifts. Of course, Christmas is not about the gifts, but we think Victoria deserves them and so much more.

And, really, the best gift was being together and as healthy as possible. Taylor has given us so many gifts and lessons in her lifetime, and we hope we have many more.

Did you receive any special gifts this Christmas? It doesn't necessarily have to be a possession. Let me know in the comments!



Favorite Gifts for our Toddler**: