Saturday, 24 November 2018

gift guide : for the 2-year-old toddler

it occurred to me this black friday that i love reading other people's gift guides, and that i thought i'd write one of my own, in case you find it useful! i especially look for ideas for things to buy for my 2.5 year old son, because i always want to buy things that he will truly love for years to come.

so, i thought i'd add my twopence, and share the toys we play with the most...

before i start completely, i did do a video showing you all our toys over on my YouTube channel (click here to watch), in case you're interested in seeing even more ideas. but let's consider this the Top 10, the abbreviated version of that video, and also an update. i'm also going to tell you the things we are buying for him this year.

also, i want to highlight a fab post written by the lovely Meagan over at Whole Family Rhythms (read it here), in which she explains a philosophy i truly believe in. it's a brilliant way to make sure that you don't overdo your spending, and that the children end up with useful things that they appreciate. it follows this little rhyme, "Something you want, Something you need, Something to give, Something to read".

instead of following this to the letter, instead we just don't go crazy and we like to talk about and consider what specific items to get. we also like to ask relatives for specific gifts to add to his collection so we don't end up with too many unused and unloved things at the end of the season.

so, here goes with our top toys that he plays with most of the time, and will hopefully give you ideas for your own children, or for any toddlers you know.

  1. paints - our boy is obsessed with paints, and so this year we are getting him some washable dab and dot markers (US/UK), which i know he will love. he also really loves his giant a2 sketchbook (US/UK), which he is almost finished with and needs a new one. and most importantly he LOVES his Faber-Castell gelatos (US/UK), because he can use them in so many different ways and they're easy to transport too.

  2. cars - he loves every single type of thing with wheels he's ever received, however small. his absolute favourites are the smaller ones that he "accidentally took" from his gran's house because he can take them with him in his backpack. if he didn't already have so many i would buy the Viga Vehicles set (US/UK) or the Le Toy Van London set (US/UK). so cute!

  3. trains - he's obsessed with trains, and he's already got a lot of hand-me-down pieces of Brio and Bigjigs, but we've got a few members of the family contributing to the collection this Christmas, and we are also getting him some new bits - in particular the Bigjigs Fire Sea Rescue (US/UK) and the "Crazy" track (US/UK). i think his love for trains will continue on for a good few years to come (i hope! i love it too)

  4. books - this one is probably too obvious to mention, but we absolutely LOVE when people buy us books as presents. if you've not seen my toddler book video (watch it here) then go and have a watch because it has so many more ideas in it. this year we are following the icelandic tradition of the Christmas Book Flood (Jólabókaflóðið) and getting a Christmas book to read on Christmas Eve - this year we've got him Pick a Pine Tree by Patricia Toht (US/UK) - and also one more non-Christmas one called The Dot by Peter Reynolds (US/UK).

  5. clothes - another gift we always love is clothes, because you can really never have too many and he is also a boy who is starting to like to choose which things he wants to wear each day. and although this year we've already got enough clothes for him, usually we do get him something! clothes from Marks & Spencer and John Lewis always make really great quality gifts to give and receive.

  6. bath toys - the best thing we ever bought our son for the bath were his Boon Building Bath Pipes (US/UK) which he has played with since he could hold something and still is finding new ways of using them. and they're also really easy to keep clean! he doesn't otherwise have heaps of toys, because along with his Green Toys tug boat (US/UK) and a few sea animals, he doesn't ask for any more and he's so content to play for ages with just those.

  7. sticker books - we've got him 2 new sticker books for Christmas, because when we were on holiday last, it was a great way to entertain him in small spaces (the car and the plane) and is also a fab way to learn new words. so we've got him the Zoo book (US/UK) and also the Airport book (US/UK). i think colouring books will be for his next birthday as he's not really shown interest in them yet, but that could also be a great gift for some.

  8. magnetic easel - a toy that everyone who comes to our house loves to play with, and is also a great gift for giving from a young age to last many years to come, we've got a fabulous set from Toys of Wood Oxford, which comes with magnetic shapes, alphabet and numbers, and it even has a chalkboard on one side to use and a white board also (US/UK) - we love it!

  9. backpack - our son really loves his backpack, and loves to put things in it to take on a walk or on a trip to see his Grandma. the one we have isn't super high quality but is a cute design from last year in Zara, but if i had a do-over i would buy one of these gorgeous Skip Hop Zoo ones (US/UK).

  10. animals - the last thing we have bought him for Christmas are a couple of new animals for his Schleich collection, we bought the Elephant (US/UK) and the Deer (US/UK) - he loves to play with his animals outside, in the bath, make them eat soap, etc. they are very robust as well as life-like.

if you're stuck for ideas for new parents, curly girls, faith journaling ladies or more, please go and check out my Amazon Shop, where you can see my favourites from Amazon, and there might just be some more ideas for you there (only for Amazon US at present though, they haven't made the "shop" feature available in the UK yet).

please know that i receive a small % of commission from anything bought via any amazon links above. it doesn’t cost you any more, but is a little way that you help keep the blog going. so thank you!

thank you for reading today, i really hope this helped you! if you have any other fab ideas, please let me know in the comments below, because i'd love to hear them (always on the hunt for good gift ideas) x

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

anything could happen at any moment

one of the hardest things i've found about my journey in grief so far has been the anxiety of knowing that anything could happen at any moment.

and today i want to write about it, because writing about things helps me understand how i'm feeling, and i guess i feel that by sharing it in this way i can start to move through it a little more. it's not something i can easily talk about face to face, so those of you who know me or see me in real life probably haven't realised what's been going on in my head and why i've been quite so flaky lately.

so, if you're new here, you need some context, because this anxiety all stems from losing my beautiful littlest niece earlier this year - i wrote a post about it at the time, which so many of you have been so kind about.

it's been over 6 months now, and one of the major repercussions of this tragic loss has been how it has affected my anxiety levels. because, you see, the way in which she was taken was so very very very unexpected, and it was so sudden and simple. it could have happened to anyone. but it didn't happen to just anyone, it wasn't something that happened to someone else in the newspapers, it happened to her and it happened to our family.

i do believe that God took her that day for a reason, that it wasn't random, and that it was very much a part of His bigger plan and that He was protecting her from something worse in her future. i talked about this more in my previous post. and i guess i feel confident in His ability to do the right thing, but i feel exactly the opposite about my own ability. i feel like if i step outside of the house, however tired or awake, however well or sick, something bad could happen.

and that IS the reality - anything could happen at any time. i just didn't see it as clearly as i see it now.

i believe more than ever that we do need to live in a way where there are no regrets and in a constant state of preparedness for our final day, where we make sure to speak kindly and gently and thoughtfully to those around us, because only God knows when that last day is going to be. and we make sure to not go to bed angry with anyone, and to say goodbye properly.

but, instead of believing and living in the positive sides of this truth, i'm currently in an opposing extreme, where i stay in more often than not because i feel safer that way. and i only do things outside my comfort zone if it's been in my diary for a while and i feel comfortable with all the variables. i hardly ever do anything last minute. i cancel things a lot; when my sugar levels are slightly out of control (i have type 1 diabetes) or if my toddler is grumpy or sick (he's 2.5 so it happens a lot), or if i haven't had enough sleep, because then i don't feel in control.

of course, the irony of this is actually that the fewer people i spend time with, the harder i find it to go out the house and spend time with people and hold a conversation, especially new people. i seek comfort in the people i've known for ages because i know that if i say something stupid they'll still love me.

being a stay-at-home mum really does compound this situation rather a lot too. as well as just my own personality type (a people-pleasing introvert/INFJ). to make my stress levels higher also, we moved country at the end of last year, and we are in progress with moving again shortly... it's all just rather a lot at the moment. it feels the same as the last time i had proper doctor-approved "stress" and took two weeks off work - i have shortness of breath, chest pains, foggy brain, i cry all the time - only i can't exactly get a prescription for time off to fix this one...

so that's where i am, and that's how i feel. and that's why you may not have heard from me, or that might be why i've cancelled our dates. thank you for bearing with me those of you who have, you are so dear to me. and thank you for your encouragement and support, you will never know what one kind word or message can do to change my day. please keep praying that i feel His confidence to get out the door, and that i fully know that in Him i can do all things.

so then, there's this gorgeous song by Lauren Daigle called You Say, and the lyrics are so perfect that i want to share them with you, because each time i hear this song at the moment i cry, and each time i hear it i want this song to be my song...

I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up
Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low?
Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know

You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe, oh I believe
What You say of me
I believe

The only thing that matters now is everything You think of me
In You I find my worth, in You I find my identity

i hope these words speak to you. please go and listen to the song because it's so beautiful (you can listen/watch here on YouTube). it's a reminder of some key truths that i need to get stuck down deep in my head and my heart - i need to keep singing 'i believe what you say of me' until i do.

i don't believe in being a hands-off Christian, one that just does whatever they want and hopes God will protect them, because i do believe He gave me a brain for a reason. but i do also know that He would rather i have a life lived confidently outside of these walls, and that i would chose to do things in His confidence more often. that i would use His strength and His love to move forwards.

if you've experienced stress or anxiety before, i'd really appreciate your practical advice as well as verses or words of encouragement - so please add them in the comments or send them to any other way you can. i believe our words can change lives.

thank you for reading today x