Christmas Gifts & Other Good Stuff

Today we’re wrapping up our annual pair of “Christmas present” posts (the first was yesterday’s rundown on what we made Clara) with this summary of what else we unwrapped and how we spent the day, like this one and this one of yore. Think of it as our way of trying to cling to the holiday season for one more day while answering all of those “what did you get each other?” and “what else did Clara get?” questions. Meanwhile, in quick kitchen update news, we’re knee-deep into staining the lower cabinets, which means the room is a complete disaster, but it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas progress.

The doors/drawers/frames have been sanded, deglossed, stained, sanded, and stained again – so we’re just waiting for them to be dry enough to rehang. That should happen this weekend, which means we can share all the photos and details with you on Monday (in case you missed it, we revealed our painted upper cabinets a few days ago). But back to our tree on Christmas morning.

Clara was more excited this year than any other year before – even waking up about 10 minutes after going to bed the night before and declaring that it was the morning already. I was more excited too, because for the first time I could recreate a family tradition of mine growing up: sitting on the steps for a photo before sprinting down to rip through some wrapping paper. We can’t wait to accumulate years of pictures like these… especially since next year Clara won’t be sitting alone!

Clara was an unwrapping tornado. Many of the presents under the tree were sent from relatives (or were our gifts to others that we’d be delivering later in the day), but I was grateful that there were also a bunch of wrapped (not bagged) gifts for Clara so that we could witness her having those exciting moments where you get enough paper off to finally see what’s inside. Here she is actively shouting “oh wow, man!”

We won’t bore you with everything this little lady made off with, but there are some highlights – like these two Cinderella mouse ornaments from my parents, which were mine as a kid.

These were a surprise favorite (my mom worried she wouldn’t even notice them among all the other bigger and newer toys that shared the same package) but Clara was HUGE fan. She even gave them a giant hug before running right over to find the perfect spot for them on the tree.

The main gift from Santa (not to burst anyone’s bubble, but it was really from us) was the “ballerina princess doll” that Clara had been telling various Santas, relatives, and friends about all season. It’s a Gotz doll from Pottery Barn Kids and she spotted it weeks ago when we were in there picking something up for someone else. If you’d like a mental picture, her eyes locked and she saw hearts. Despite our original “she’ll probably forget all about it by the time Christmas rolls around” thoughts, she was still talking about it weeks later. So Santa delivered.

We decided it would be our one “splurge” gift for the year, and after a nice pre-Christmas sale and using an old Pottery Barn gift card, it ended up not being that bad. Honestly, even at full price it would’ve been worth it considering how much she loves this thing. “Melinda” even came to Burger’s annual check-up and to a neighborhood New Year’s party with us this week.

Some people have asked about our family’s take on the Santa tradition. Both Sherry and I both got some gifts from Santa and some from our parents or other relatives, so that’s what we do with Clara.  Since she specifically asked Santa for her the little ballerina – well, Ole St. Nick got the glory for that one. But otherwise we try to give credit where credit is due, like this one that came from Nonna…

…and stuck with the theme of ballerinas. It was like tutu heaven for Clara. She named her “Spaghetti Hair.”

She got other things like books, games, stickers, and clothes, and we gave her a stocking with some socks, PJs, and Pez – which, by some miracle, were all met with equal levels of excitement.

We also did the traditional “you get to open a few smaller gifts on Christmas Eve” thing, and miraculously got this shot with Sherry’s iPhone, which completely captures her joy. As some of you noticed in yesterday’s post, there was a two-pajama-rotation (Clara wanted to wear her Santa ones and her new reindeer ones, so she put these on in the late afternoon, and then changed into her reindeer ones right before bed so she could wake up on Christmas morning in them).

We didn’t get all of the gift-opening action on tape (or even capture it all on our cameras) but here’s a culled down version of the short video that we like to take each Christmas morning, which is mostly just Clara discovering her cubby shelf and hypothesizing about where Santa is at the moment. The bump-kiss is my favorite part.

And we can’t forget about Burger. He made his way out of bed about 5 hours earlier than usual, which earned him a few Christmas treats (literally) from us. He also scored a paw print “Feliz Navi-dog” ornament from my godmother Gerrie, who’s always great about remembering furry family members.

Sherry got me a fun soda-themed gift (she knows me well) complete with four unusual bottled sodas like chai cola, chocolate soda, and ginger cola.

Here’s my soda-tastic spread, which also included some themed candy as well (Bottlecaps are my favorite). I haven’t tried all of the sodas yet, but so far the best was the “Dog Drool” one, which was actually orange lemon flavored.

Sherry also got me this big pop-out reflector/screen that I had been eying to (hopefully) help boost my photography skills. I’ve seen how they come in handy to all of the pro photographers we’ve encountered in this job, and I finally figured it’d be worth having one around – you know, to help bounce/block/diffuse light. It collapses and has a few covers that zip on and off so I’m still getting the hang of it.

Since Sherry’s love for white ceramics is undying, I got her this set of porcelain ornaments from Crate & Barrel.

And since jewelry is a close second to her ceramic obsession, I plucked these two items from some strong hints that she dropped (Pinterest, and this gift round up). The arrow necklace is from Madewell and the love bracelet is from Anthropologie, which she liked because it reminded her of the “love” script on the cover of our book.

After all of our unwrapping was done on Christmas morning (and we downed some quick breakfast), we drove about 45 minutes west to meet up with the rest of my family at a nearby cabin we had rented for the night. You may have seen us Instagram a picture of it that afternoon.

We only stayed for about 24 hours, but it was awesome! We took a ton of pictures so we’re going to post a Cabin Crashing of it next week, but here’s a sneak preview.

I think we’re going to officially wrap-up the holiday season at our house this weekend – i.e. take down decorations and the tree. But we did snap a couple better-late-than-never seasonal pictures, since this will likely be the last time we can take a photo like this in front of the tree.

Kinda crazy to think that this was our last Christmas with just one little one (well, two including Burger – and about 30 if you count all of Sherry’s ceramic animals). What’s even crazier is that Clara stood still enough for this long of an exposure!

What did you guys wrap and unwrap this year? Do you do big gift exchanges with your other half, or just little fun things that you’ve been eying? Sherry and I like to keep it pretty low key, but we love hearing about giant surprises (were there any bows on any cars in any driveways?) and little thoughtful things alike.


As a little Friday bonus, here are four fun projects, chats, or questions going on over on the Forums. We also announced this week’s giveaway winner, so you can click here (and scroll down to the Rafflecopter box) to see if it’s you.

by kschrav by TomRob
by Maria_OurLakeLife by afnhendrickx


  1. Frannie says

    Love love love the belly tree shots and the one with Clara. :) Brought tears to my eyes for some reason! Maybe since we are thinking of adding one more baby to our family as well. The sweetness!

  2. says

    a) I had the same Cinderella mice!!!!

    b) Totally jealous of the stairs pic. We were hiding out waiting on our little man and kept waiting and waiting and heard him jump out of bed and we waited and finally, I decided to go check upstairs (our first Christmas in a house with stars) to find him and when I turned the corner before going upstairs, he was already playing wtb his toys in the loving room!!!

    c) Love the last few pictures in front of the tree…

    Y’all are great!

    • says

      I know, right?! I thought it was the “second pregnancy means you pop earlier” rumor, but then I looked back on Clara bump pics and I was the same way with her! I think my short torso = early poppage, but then I sort of max out and stay that way (a 6 month pic vs. a 9 month pic with Clara wasn’t very different at all, which made me laugh).


  3. Ava says

    The soda looks great. I’ve tried the Dog Drool one before, and I think the company also makes a Bug Juice that is pretty good. We went small on gifts because we spend the weekend before with a quick getaway to downtown Chicago. I would much rather take the time to do something to get crazy gifts!!

  4. Frannie says

    I think my computer ate my comment. Just stopped by to say how much I love the bump and tree shots. So beautiful and sweet! Thanks for sharing with all of us.

  5. Rachel says

    Ahhh I have the same Cinderella mouse ornaments (Gus Gus is my fave) and still hang them on our tree every year! Love :) Looks like a pretty wonderful Christmas Petersiks :)

  6. Brittany says

    Wow the pictures of Sherry and Sherry and Clara in front of the tree are absolutely gorgeous!! What a good idea! And as far as presents go, I got my husband tickets to the Broadway show Once. We are very excited :)

  7. says

    I’m sure there will be a lot of comments on this, but I love the baby bump silhouette photos against the tree lights! Total pregnancy memory keeper.

    For our holiday, we stayed local and saw lots of family. It’s been pretty snowy here in the Middle West, so we’ve had to dig out around our house most days, but our toddler has been having fun sledding and making snow people. We didn’t do much decorating this year, just our mini DIY Christmas tree (we’re planning on designing and building a life-size wooden one for next year!). We did get out and enjoy some holiday decorations around our new neighborhood, though.

  8. says

    I have the same Cinderella mice :) they were my favorite ornaments as a kid, and when I got married & moved out, my mom gave them to me. They’re still some of my favorite ornaments. :)

  9. Ann Firth says

    Happy New Year Petersiks! I hope that 2014 is a happy, healthy, and successful year for everyone. I thought it’d be difficult picking a favourite picture from this post, but the last two–Sherri, Sherri/Clara–win hands down for me. Thank you for continuing to share your lives and projects with us :)

  10. Karen says

    Gorgeous pics! When I was 5 I totally also named my favourite, most beloved doll Melinda. She gave me so much joy, and I hope Clara gets the same from her Melinda!

    Also, I bought myself a ring with the exact same “love” script in the post-Christmas sales last week.

    Here’s to lots of love from my family to yours in 2014 xox

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