Who Got Who What

Update: We just learned that Chop Suey Books here in Richmond (in Carytown) is having a sale this Saturday with 10% off all local books (including signed copies of ours). Just wanted to save you some money if you’re still in the market for it. 

Yup, it’s time for the annual gifts-we-got-each-other post. Allow me to do some voice exercises. Mimimimi. Ok. Onnn the first day of Christmassss, my true love gave to meeeee… well, we’ll get to that in a moment. In general we like to treat the holidays as an awesome time to spend with friends and family while being grateful for what we have, so it’s really not all about gifts at our house (people over things and all that). But our tradition is to make Clara a few handmade items – like her fridge and her latchboard – and then we get each other a few “tokens” of our affection (we usually spend around $100 on each other over a few different items, give or take). But before we get to those, let’s recap Clara receiving the play fridge that we made for her.

If you saw our Instagram pics on Christmas morning you already got a taste of how happy the bean was about what Santa brought her. Of all the stuff that we had set out for her that morning (we moved everything into the living room so it’d be near the tree to “open”) – the things she loved the most were the play eggs. Which makes sense, since she had specifically asked Santa for “eggs and ice cream.” No joke.

And of course, since she was so hilarious last year, we video taped the whole thing.

So here’s a little edited-down and subtitled version of how the morning went. It started off a bit rocky when she wondered where her Santa balloon was (the grocery store only had a snowman this year) but things picked up when the eggs were discovered…

After about 20 minutes of play kitchen time, we migrated back over to the Christmas tree to see what else was in store for us. Note: about 70% of those presents were for or from friends/family members since we usually just exchange a few things each.

Clara ripped through a couple of gifts from other family members – stickers, markers, clothes, Legos, and a warm winter hat that she already calls her “pigtails” (thanks to those long braids on the sides).

And Burger got a bag full of his favorite bone treats among a few other tasty delights. He loves them so much he even got out of bed before noon for them. What a guy.

When the “kids” were sufficiently distracted by their bounty, Sherry and I took a moment to exchange ours. Sherry picked up on my recent declaration that I need new t-shirts and gifted me a nice stack of tees from Fab.com (my recent go-to source for them). I love Virginia, mazes, bikes, and NY, so it was pretty cool that they all had some meaning while still just being comfy T-shirts that made me want to hug my wife with gratitude for not buying me a tie.

Sherry’s recently been toying with the idea of getting a tattoo (I’m 99% sure she’s just messing with me), so (you know, to mess with her back) I got her some temporary ones from Tattly just for fun.

I even threw in a kids’ monster pack for Clara to enjoy with us. That ended up being the biggest hit, and within a few minutes we were all sporting matching ink on our arms.

I also got her one of these porcelain cottage lanterns from Ballard Designs that she mentioned in her lady-gift roundup (they’re no longer available, but they’re similar to these). I got her the big one and my sister and mom got her the other two smaller ones. Could white ceramic buildings be the new white ceramic animal? Sherry cooed over them for a while, and now they live on our mantel so I’d venture to say they were a hit.

Sherry’s very good at dropping specific hints (think emails entitled “think Santa knows that I love this?”) so I astutely picked up on the notion that she’d love this colorful pillow from House of Pillows on Etsy.

And last but not least, it wouldn’t be Christmas without Sherry getting some earrings. So I got her these emerald-colored ones from Kendra Scott (they look a little more teal in this picture than they are in real life). She loves that they’re giant and colorful and I love that they look like arrowheads. Everyone wins.

The picture above is actually at my mom and dad’s house, where we moseyed over to after our small-family-present-opening activities wrapped up (Christmas pun!) at our place. Over there we had a casual Christmas lunch with my parents, sisters, brother-in-laws, nephews, and even my aunt, uncle, cousins and their kids came down for the day from Northern Virginia. And yes, there was more present opening.

Clara’s favorite gift from “second Christmas” were these Make-A-Face stickers from her cousin Elsa.

It actually may be my new favorite present too, because watching the faces Clara puts together is HIGH-larious. Above you can see Sherry helping her with the placement of that first eye, but we soon learned that it’s far more fun to let her do it all. So we help her get the stickers off the sticker page, but the placement on the faces is all hers:

But like any Christmas, the best part was the family time that we got to spend through it all. Here’s Clara clocking some quality girl time with her cousin Elsa.

And here we are after discovering that we were accidentally dressed somewhat similarly. Minus the fur boots.

And perhaps the most amusing /unusual part of the day was the makeshift indoor playground that my dad set up in his garage to help keep all of the little kids occupied (there were 6 kids under the age five here, mind you) and out of the lunch-maker’s way in the house. As weird as it looks, it was a great way to let them burn off some energy (yes that’s a slow slide leading to an empty baby pool). So if ever you mistake us for being super classy or remarkably fancy, just remember this was part of our Christmas. And it was totally awesome.

That was pretty much how our Christmas looked. And you already got the drill about Christmas dinner at our house on Monday.

So, how’d your holidays go? What did you give/get? Did any special family events occur (we learned two of our cousins are pregnant!) or were any new traditions started?


  1. Carrley says

    Hi! Sorry this is off topic but wasn’t sure where to ask you this…any chance you will be doing another book signing in Richmond again soon? My sister and I would love to attend one of your signings…we live in Richmond and missed your past appearences.

  2. Kristin says

    Yay-uh…we had a proud potato Christmas too. But I’m missing those days of moving box fort in the family room. We had a 3 box home for years The funniest experience with it was when our cat went in the door & a child followed him. He flew out the window in a BIG hurry. Looks like you guys had a great holiday!

  3. says

    Oh so many things to be said! But I’ll limit myself to three. :)

    1. I have a sister that is 18 years younger than me & love to think about all those hilarious early Christmases. The first year she was old enough to talk she asked for a fruitcake & a knife. What?! How had she ever even heard of fruitcake? The next year it was red rocks & blue rocks… & then she started pre-k, was exposed to lots of other children, & asked for a Nintendo DS. Sigh.

    2. I must agree with so many of the others. Lasturday is my new fave!

    3. We got my sister-in-law your book for Christmas & I may have read every single page before wrapping it. Whoops! Loved it & so glad she introduced me to your blog.

  4. Heather says

    We started a new tradition of going to eat Christmas Day lunch at a Chinese restaurant. It was delicious, and awesome, and super fun! We had all our family Christmas’ the previous days before actual Christmas day…so it worked out really well. We think next year we will invite whoever wants in to join us, and make it official!!! :)

  5. Laura says

    Your kiddos, human & furry, are just too cute. The fact that the two of you are so hands on and haven’t handed this site off to a team of pros is part of what makes me YHL so much. I love the idea of having forums here & am happy to volunteer my time to help keep them fun & friendly if you end up adding forums to YHL.

  6. Guylaine says

    This is so beautiful!!!
    You are beautiful persons outside and inside!!!
    you are inspiring!Clara is lucky to have parents like you!
    I wish a great 2013 year to you and your family :)

  7. says

    Nice subtle Suze Orman reference … “and all that”!

    I adore Clara’s delicious morning face and her hilarious word choice — “I’m so proud!”

    What a delighful holiday for ya’ll. You deserve it!

    • Gil says

      Awesome Christmas celebration!
      Do you think you’ll ever spend Christmas with Sherry’s family?

    • says

      We do Thanksgiving with them each year (traveling up there for that holiday seems to be easier when it comes to traffic, etc than doing that drive for Christmas). But Nonna (my mom) came down and spent Dec 18th through the 22nd with us at our house, so Clara got in lots of pre-Christmas time with her grandma :)


  8. Amy Brewer says

    I LOVE the word lasturday as well! May be a new favorite for me. We don’t go overboard on gifts also, but our tree looks like yours! We have two big families and by the time we buy a few gifts, we don’t buy for all the adults, it looks like we have a crazy Christmas but we don’t go overboard at all!

  9. Allison says

    I got all kinds of fun kitchen gadgets, including a PASTA MACHINE. Winter hibernation is a go. :)

    I also got some giftcards, and I just got back from the post office where I picked up the copy of your book I ordered with them! Wooo!

    Glad you guys had a great holiday! :)

  10. Maddy says

    Let’s be honest, the winner in this post was Clara’s boots. Who doesn’t love some Flo-rida inspired footwear?

  11. says

    The best gift I gave was to my husband. He always teases me that our artwork doesn’t have any meaning other than making the house look nice. I found an artist from Greece on Etsy who makes vintage bus scrolls. I ordered one from him that lista the towns in the state where we live (Arizona). I had it custom framed out reclaimed wood to keep the vintage look. It is beautiful and most importantly, he loved it because it is a history of our life here. Our 9 year old loves to play house and uses her kitchen stuff all the time. This year she wanted eggs that you could crack open and have the yolk and whites come out just like a real egg. I found a foam food set at Ikea that had felt eggs so I got her those and put them inside plastic eggs so she could “crack” them open and fry them. Love that my kid isn’t the only one who had eggs on her Christmas list.

  12. Emily says

    I got my tattoo at 27 – a tortoise and hare on my right foot – so I say go for it! My father was mortified (grin), but it’s easy to cover up if I need to and I love it.

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