Nutcracker, What the Girls are Getting, Holiday Cheer.

¶ Simone is taking ballet this year, which she loves and which is every bit as adorable as you might suppose, but the best thing about it is that she got to be in The Nutcracker—not a makeshift recital but the real Nutcracker put on by Ballet Minnesota in a fancy auditorium with ballerinas. She and her classmates were mice (there was some confusion on this point, as when I said that she would be a mouse she crossly corrected me that in fact her role was that of MICE, and we talked about mice being the plural of mouse but…well). Each pre-ballet class appeared in one performance and was on stage for a whole two minutes, but it was still a little tense for them, because it was all very new, and for us because who could tell what would happen once they were out there? The mice are differentiated some, and technically Simone was one of the Cheese Friends, but would the mice remember their designations? Would they all chassé in the same direction around Clara or bump into one another in a tangle?

It went off splendidly, though one little mouse DID get confused and nearly ran off the front of the stage into the audience instead of back into the wings. Simone had a wonderful time, and has informed me that she wants to be in The Nutcracker “for all years!” They had some visiting artists for two of the main parts, but the rest were company dancers and students, and it is always so shocking to see everyone looking so grown up onstage and then get back to the green room and realize that the Fancy Lady Dancer you were just watching is actually about sixteen.

The one downside of the “real ballet” business is that no cameras are allowed during the performances, so I have no performance pictures for you. But here is rehearsal a few weeks ago (Simone is the Mice in front):

And Simone in costume backstage on performance day:

There was a professional photographer there taking shots of all the dancers, so I may end up with something better, but you know, it was actually lovely during the performance not to be thinking about getting a picture, to just be sitting in my seat, leaning forward and watching. It was over so fast, and yes, I DO wish I had a video or some way to see it again, but that’s pretty much par for child-raising in general, the I-just-blinked-did-that-really-happen? feeling.

¶ Now I am sharing what we’ve gotten the girls for Christmas, and if you do not particularly care about the Gifts of Other People’s Children, I certainly can’t blame you, (and I offer up two more useful and educational posts from holidays past, one on Schmutzli and the one on the Caga Tio), but people keep posting these lists and I find them fascinating, so I am adding my own. It is a bit late for any of these gift ideas to be of use to anyone, but oh well.

(I should note that the pictures below link back to the products but are not affiliate links of any kind. I suppose there is no mandate to disclose NON-affliate links, but I am disclosing my non-affiliation just to avoid confusion, not that it matters. No money was earned in the typing of this Web Log!)


Simone is desperately hoping for the “Playmobil Clambulance” (thanks to an episode of Bubble Guppies, she seems convinced that the words “clambulance” and “ambulance” are interchangeable). This is her main present from us.
Playmobil Ambulance

She also requested a Flashlight Friend, which is a moderately unattractive stuffed animal with a flashlight wedged into its midsection. We’re getting her that as well.
Flashlight "Friend"

In addition I generally like to give a game or activity and a book and something to wear. Simone’s getting Snap Circuits Jr., on the recommendation of A’dell, and it seems like something she’ll love. I confess I was given pause when the box came and it said “ages eight and up,” but if Simone doesn’t care for it *I* think it looks excellent, and am WELL over eight.

Snap Circuits Jr

I also got her The Betsy-Tacy Treasury for us to start working our way through at bedtimes (SO EXCITED SO EXCITED). I loved these books. I think I read the early ones when I was about a year older than Simone, and the later ones in late elementary/early junior high (my favorite was Betsy Abroad). I will note that I thought I was buying a set of the first four books, not the first four books bound as ONE book (it is the latter), but I have only my own lack of reading comprehension to blame for my surprise. I note it only in case your comprehension is similarly flawed.

Betsy-Tacy Treasury

She’s also getting  an Owl sweater from Old Navy.
Girls Animal-Graphic Sweaters - Heather Gray

Simone and I saw Frozen yesterday and loved it, so I found a small Frozen-themed early reader book for her stocking, too. I originally had new power toothbrushes for both girls as stocking stuffers, but I forgot to hide them, and they’ve had them for a week now. (Both are wild for tooth-brushing, I do not know why.)

That’s it from us. This year, Simone gave us a very short list and had a separate, SINGLE ITEM list for Santa, presumably to remove as much uncertainty from the process as possible, which I find hilarious, because it is SO VERY VERY SIMONE. Her one item on the Santa list was “Ukelele,” and I have it on good authority that Santa is getting her this one:



Twyla is obsessed with baby dolls and stuffed animals. Mostly feeding them, but she also likes to carry them around and cover them with blankets/paper towels or put them in boxes and carts. Of course, all of the dolls and most of the stuffed animals in the house belong, technically, to Simone, so there have been some…Teaching Moments. Anyhow, Twyla is getting a baby of her own for Christmas:


It is an odiously named Huggums, and looks exactly like that, though we got it quite cheaply somewhere Not-Amazon. Going by her reaction whenever she saw a picture of a baby doll on my computer as I shopped around, she is going to lose her mind with glee.

She also gets a set of enamel pots and pans. It is almost identical to the set Simone got for her second birthday (only those were blue). This will be a hit as well.
Enamel Pans

There’s a greatest-hits sort of Grover DVD as she adores Grover (there is a stuffed one at my mother’s house that belonged to my brother), and just like Simone at this age, Twyla could spend all day being read to (the same few books, OVER and OVER, god help me) so I picked up a few new board books on Black Friday or Cyber Monday or whatever Adjective DayofWeek it was when Amazon was having a sale on board books:

Grover DVDFirst 100 WordsAnimal SoundsSleepy Time

I also got her a nubbly purple cardigan with big buttons (now sold out from Old Navy, so no picture/link), and Simone got her a set of those toy baby bottles that appear to be filled with milk and orange juice, respectively.

Meanwhile, Santa is (allegedly) leaving Twyla a grey sherpa Mini Anywhere Chair, with her name on it in purple. Simone got the Land of Nod version for Christmas when she was about Twyla’s age and it was a BIG hit, as you may recall (BABY SIMONE WITH GLASSES!).
Anywhere Chair

The girls get pajamas for Christmas Eve (when we do the bulk of our present unwrapping and celebrating), and this year Simone decided she wanted Twyla to have the same pajamas as she does, and chose matching footed jammies (less than $10!) from Carter’s. Oh, and I get the girls (previously, girl) a Christmas book every year. This year is Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree:

Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree

Oh, and because the wind-up toys under my mother’s Christmas tree have become a beloved tradition but are becoming increasingly arthritic as they date back to my own childhood, I got this:


It seems like a lot, all typed out like that, but I refuse to be sheepish. Hooray, capitalism! Really though, picking out gifts is one of my favorite parts of Christmas. I can’t help it.

¶ Some of our best holiday bits so far, recorded for posterity:

-Santa Visit:

More specifically, looking at pictures from last year’s Santa Visit and then flipping quickly to this year’s and heaving a sigh.


This cheers me right up. though:

(Simone’s side-eye here is directed towards Twyla, who is out of frame holding her dress up over her head, trying to get extra presents, I suppose)

-Twyla in a ridiculous snowsuit during our subzero spell:

-Simone: “Does Santa say ‘YO Ho Ho’ or ‘HO ho ho?’ Which one is pirates?”


  1. celia says:

    It looks to be an exciting Christmas at your house! My older son is nearly four and got a fire truck and a crane and an electric train. Our “baby” will be two soon and got a dump truck and playdoh and a toy train. Just like brothers train! Not really! There will be fighting! YAY! Oh well. And then in their stockings they got kalidascopes and tops and markers and a chocolate santa. Santa only gives three gifts period, here. Mainly in self defense because they are the only grandchildren on my side of the family.

  2. A'Dell says:

    Somehow, the Betsy-Tacy series passed by me as a kid, and I was a HUGE HUGE reader. I have no idea how I missed them but I have heard people talk about them before with lots of love. I’ll her to get a copy soon. I hope she likes Snap Circuits! Claire is STILL playing with hers daily, more than two months after her birthday. I had no idea it was for 8 and up. OOPS.

    Merry Christmas!!

  3. Jen says:

    What a lovely Christmas those precious girls will have!

    I recently read Betsy-Tacy to my kids and we enjoyed it very much. I had forgotten that Tacy’s baby sister dies (first book) though which led to one unexpectedly sad bedtime of reading, and some tough questions.

    Thanks for continuing you wonderful blog. It us a privilege to read!!

  4. Jen says:

    Betsy-Tacy! Did you know that you can take her to their houses in Mankato? They’ve restored them, and it’s awesome. I loved those books so much that I may or may not have gone on a mother-daughter trip to Minnesota a few years ago for the sole purpose of visiting Betsy-Tacy sites…

    Also, I do not know if that particular Santa is a pirate or not, but his shirt is VERY fancy.

    Merry Christmas to you and your lovely family.

  5. Elise says:

    It is such a pleasure to read absolute anything that you write. Somehow, even the girls’ Christmas list is endlessly entertaining and a lovely read. Merry Christmas to you and your darling girls, or Mele Kalikimaka as we say here on Maui.

  6. Suzanne says:

    I loved reading this list! I especially loved the Betsy-Tacy book, as I adore that series, and the bottles that look like they have milk or juice in them, as those fascinated me as a girl well into my teens, and I am still not sure how they work—they are magic, I guess!

  7. MJ says:

    The same Santa last year and this year – clearly you have the real Santa and not just a helper. I hope you are having a wonderful Christmas.

  8. Kirsten says:

    There is probably not a child I personally know in real life who has not received Snap Circuits Jr 100 as a gift from me (via my child). LOVE that toy (and its additions). Think Lego, but it DOES stuff when you put it together. Lots of different stuff. And even teaches you a little something. and for $20.

  9. silver says:

    My husband took our 4-year-old to see a performance of Nutcracker by Twin Cities Ballet of Minnesota–same group?

    We have that same Betsy-Tacy volume. My daughter was so heartbroken when we finished. I don’t think she would really care for the later years books at this point. So I had to tide her over by reading her “Winona’s Pony Cart” which is about Winona Root (the rich girl) when all those girls were in 3rd grade.

    Isn’t it so funny how children so young have already picked up on “mothering” baby dolls? I often find my 18-month-old in her crib with burp clothes wrapped around her lovie. Which is especially strange because said 18-month-old has never been tucked in with a blanket in her life.

  10. R says:

    I just had to comment as I LOVED the Betsy-Tacy books and am so happy your girl(s) will be reading them. Now I want to go re-read them.

    Simone’s last comment killed me.

  11. I love every bit of this post. (It’s always a toss up between the words, which are beautifully chosen and often hilarious, and the photos, which typically contain those adorable children of yours.) (Mice!)

    We got that 100 words board book for the baby, and I have to express some perplexity/dissatisfaction with that one. It seems to me that all of the images are photographs, but some of them are photographs of The Real Thing while others are photographs of A Toy Version Of The Thing. Like, a real apple but a toy boat. That just… seems so odd and wrong! Perhaps I am putting too much energy into wanting a board book to be thoughtful and consistent.

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