Gift Guide for Preschoolers

So this is a bit late.  Black Friday has passed.  Cyber Monday too.  Also, everyone I know that would buy gifts for my kids I think has already done so.


I think these are solid ideas, and I’ll be referring to this list for the next few years if anyone has questions.  So here we go.

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Is Santa real?

I grew up in a Santa house.  James grew up in a no Santa house.

We’ve been trying to straddle a middle ground.

We’d read books about Santa and see Santa places, but we wouldn’t make a big deal about WHAT DO YOU WANT SANTA TO BRING YOU and YIPPEE, SANTA IS COMING!!  We’ve just tried to treat Santa as a part of Christmas fun, but generally talk about Baby Jesus and giving and family, etc.

That actually worked much better than I expected.  Until last night.

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What to do on your Balkan Holiday: An Itinerary for Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia, and Slovenia

So I think I’ve mentioned that in October we undertook our most ambitious trip to date, a two week road trip in the Balkans.  We had a ton of fun.

Because I’ve gotten some questions about it, here is the nitty gritty on what we actually did.  I’ll talk more later on the awesome places we stayed.

I’ll also talk more later on our opinions.  The things we most enjoyed.  The things we might skip.

I will say that this is a very relaxed itinerary.  You could shave several days off of this schedule and still do everything plus some.  We liked having the extra time; it made it feel like more of a vacation instead of just a trip.

Let’s get to it.

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Lake Garda (Lago di Garda): Where Parents can take a REAL Vacation

7.26_garda coverYou’ve seen this, right?  Is it a vacation or a trip?  Hilarious.  And true.

For the most part, I take a lot of trips.  I’m OK with that.  I’ve got a lot I’d like to see.  In the little kid years, I figured I’d be looking at trips instead of relaxing vacations anyway.

But what if I told you about a magical place where you could have an actual vacation?  A vacation where you could linger over your breakfast coffee admiring the beautiful view.  A vacation where you kept forgetting what day it is because you felt fully disconnected.  A vacation where you could finish a sentence talking to your spouse over a delicious dinner.

You’d say it was all too good to be true, right?

Well, harried friend, let me tell you about Lake Garda.

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Some thoughts on Prolonged Paleo

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Starting to think about turning all my shirts into half shirts.

I may have to donate my body to science because it is going to be AMAZING.

These are just a sample of the actual things I’ve told James lately.  Ridiculous?  Absolutely.  But I’d say paleo is definitely working for me.

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All the holiday fun you can shake a cannoli at

You guys feeling festive?  Christmas is somehow only two weeks away.  W00t!

Still tackling your shopping list?  Check out one of these holiday gift guides:

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(I really feel like I need a fourth gift guide to fill that hole.  Hmm, I don’t have a pet, and it really seems like all other lifeforms fit in those categories.  Gift guide for possible extraterrestrial friend?  Your pet rock?  Maybe next year.)

I found this after the gift guides were published, but Cup of Jo mentions this absolutely brilliant play tape.

On a recent podcast, Meagan and Sarah share the perfect hostess gift.

And Laura Vanderkam lists some book ideas for your literary Advent calendar.  (After I spent 20 minutes wrapping our books, Henry snuck out of his room and unwrapped HALF of ours before I heard the tell tale paper ripping.  I was not amused.)

And and for all the fanciest friends in your life, don’t forget the 2015 Hater’s Guide to the Williams-Sonoma Catalog.  The language is not for those with delicate constitutions, but I was snort laughing.  GET UP AND GET YOUR OWN GIMLET, BRADLEY.

Looking for some German Christmas market-inspired beverages for your holiday party?  I’ve gotcha covered.  (Curious about the Christmas markets?  Click here or here.)

Want to relive last year’s Christmas fun?

Looking for a kickin’ lights display in (or around) DC?  Look no further:

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For my Roman friends, I’d be super jealous if you visited the live Nativity Scene in Civita di Bagnoregio.

We made it to Bagnoregio last January, but just missed the Nativity Scene.  (Click on over here for lovely pics and parking tips.)

Looking to get something for moi?  Oh, you shouldn’t have.  So thoughtful!  You are just the sweetest thing.  But I would be delighted if you liked Roman Reboot’s page on the Facebook.  Helping you enjoy weirdness and travel-related nonsense since 2014!

Happy weekend everyone!

Best Holiday Lights near DC

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Yay Christmas lights!  Did you guys also spend who knows how much time driving around in your car on the hunt for epic Christmas lights growing up?  Just us?  You probably just didn’t have the Pelzer Light People.

That’s right.  BE jealous.

And so it was with these high standards that I set off in search of epic light displays in DC.  We made it a tradition to check out something new each year.  Because the lights in DC are so much more than the Christmas trees at the White House and Capitol!

Already hit the zoo and the trains at the Botanic Garden?  Don’t feel like shelling out for ICE! at National Harbor?    Well, my friend, this list is for you.

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Our Christmas in Italy

This was our first Christmas in Italy.  Our first Christmas away from family.  We missed everyone very much, but we did have some fun here.

Henry and I made a pomander.  One of his new Christmas books talks about making one, and I thought it could be a fun craft to do together.  I was wrong.  Stabbing those cloves in was hard for me.  There was no way Henry could do it.  Martha’s it is not, but at least it looked a little better than my usual Pinterest fails.


This pomander is now in the rubbish. I don’t really get how you are supposed to keep this in your sock drawer and not have it mold.

We visited an exhibition on Nativity Scenes near Piazza del Popolo.   There were sets from around the world, which reminded me of the (free!) display at the Mormon Temple outside DC, elaborate sets made in Italy, which seemed to feature Jesus nestled in your local town amongst the trattorias, and sets made of unconventional materials, which included sets made from shoe horns and various types of pasta.  It was pretty impressive.  Only mildly extremely crowded.  Henry enjoyed it.  Sadly, no pictures allowed.

Our building had a very fun and awesome holiday house crawl.  I love that it feels like college here sometimes when you could just go see people without leaving the building.  On the crawl, I discovered the “Dirty Girl Scout” which is now one of my new favorite cocktails.  I’m a sucker for peppermint at the holidays.  Or any other time of year really.

I used the opportunity to bust out an awesome gift from my MIL, her own blazer from her own pre-kids era.  This now vintage blazer is so well-made and beautiful that it really deserves more play, but I at least make sure it sees the light for the holidays.  And I promise that if I continue to take mirror selfies, I will find a better pose.  (Yup, still wearing that shirt.)

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We heard that Romans don’t really “do Christmas.”  This seemed strange considering the location, and I thought it was unfair.  Granted, we didn’t see as many lights as in Germany, but most shops put out festive garlands and lights.

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Downtown had tons of awesome lights.  Via del Corso was lined with lights showing flag from every country, which I’m told is to celebrate the upcoming World’s Fair in Milan.  The tree at Piazza Venezia was ridic.

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James bet I wouldn't put this photo on the internets.  It's like he doesn't even know me.

James bet I wouldn’t put this photo on the internets. It’s like he doesn’t even know me.

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The grocery stores also filled up with lots of holiday treats.  There were literally stacks of panettone and pandoro, panettone’s more buttery cousin.  Henry and I had a very Italian moment when we skipped down the street with our carby goodness.

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They were pretty good.  They were even better as french toast.  That’s right, we just can’t stop french toasting leftovers, but I can’t claim credit for the idea this time.

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We were very excited to receive a Christmas dinner invitation from some new friends.  Not cooking was great.  Enjoying delicious food with friends was even better.  James made this cake.  It is easily the best cake he has ever made in his entire life.  I won the no limit hold ’em tournament, a family tradition of theirs.  (This is another tradition I can definitely get behind.)

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We had our first visitors!  Our dear dear friends, who are also the boys’ godparents, came for three jam-packed days.  We rode bikes at Borghese–which will almost certainly be more enjoyable when the cold wind isn’t blowing in your face, ate pasta, and enjoyed catching up.  It was very special to see them and it means a lot that they made the trip.

The boys have some exciting new toys.  Henry is in car heaven.  Mac has new things to chew on, which is pretty much his jam.  We have some very wonderful family and friends, who not only sent things halfway across the world but wrapped them as well!  I’m beyond touched and can’t thank them enough.

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That’s right. BE jealous of our Christmas jammies.

It was a full and fun festive season.  How about you?  I hope you enjoyed all of your holidays!