Thursday, December 10, 2015

Two Gift Ideas (that we already have, but recommend to you)

This is the time of year when I always start feeling panic-y about the hard-to-shop for person on my list, for whom I still haven't figured out what to get.

I really appreciate it when people post about gifts they've received or loved or had success giving, so I'm going to throw two ideas out, just in case you're feeling particularly stumped.

Electric Salt and Pepper (Spice) Grinder.
Our friends in Germany had a version of these, and to be honest, had we not tried theirs first, we never would have purchased this item for ourselves. It seems so silly! An electric grinder for salt and pepper! Please! How lazy can we get?

Well, pretty lazy, apparently. But whatever! Because these are so FUN! And oddly satisfying to use! Just push the button on the top and ground spice comes out the bottom. Everyone we've given them to has really liked them as well. We've been buying ours (as gifts) from various vendors on Amazon, but they are also available at specialized kitchen stores.

Wind-up Toys / Ornaments
The two wind up toys above are from Kikkerland. They spark and jump and turn and move in funny paths. We gave them to our kids last year for Christmas, although, due to the sparking, etc., they're not recommended for younger kids. The kids used them with supervision and they have held up fairly well.

This Jack in the Box ornament below has also been a big hit with the kids. We've had it since 2008. It's missing a bow, but still works! As an ornament, it doesn't stay on the tree for very long. The kids can't wind it until about age 3 or 4. Now we're at the point where there's always a bigger kid willing to wind it for a smaller kid. I always feel like I won a small victory when something encourages an older and younger to work together.

There's definitely some irony in these suggestions. DON'T wind your spice grinder, but DO wind a toy. Did you catch it?

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The weight of things going on in life has overwhelmed my ability to small talk.  As far as this blog goes: I think it's healthy to post about small things. I think it keeps me from being overwhelmed. I think I'm better at small talk in real life when I'm practicing it here on my blog. And yet, at the same time, when I am feeling particularly worried, it's hard to think about the details. It's hard to be lighthearted. It's hard to be funny. It's hard to be creative.

Instead, I find myself obsessively reading the latest news cycle to take my mind off Weighty Things in Life. It's a poor strategy. The news cycles have been pretty horrible the last month.

I'm not a big fan of being obtuse, nor do I want to overshare: so let me do a short version of Weighty-Things-in-My-Personal-Life:

My mother had a series of panic attacks last month. This is the first time anyone I love has ever spiraled into panic attacks. My experience has been: you see it coming and feel pretty helpless to do anything about it. Actually, I was very concerned that the whole spiral was going to end in a heart attack (or worse). So far, I've noticed one doesn't just snap out of it. It takes time. It takes medical leave. It takes patience. What else? I don't know, I'm still learning about this. I feel frustrated to be thousands of miles away.

My uncle, who lives nearby, has spent the last 3 years battling lymphoma. He is undergoing his third round of chemo now. The most recent cancer return has been the most aggressive variant yet. The cancer is everywhere in his body, and most days it feels like every piece of medical news is bad news. In fact, about three weeks ago, the doctors gave him 2-3 weeks to live without treatment. He's still alive. I'm learning the human body can do amazing things, but learning this through experience is not something I would wish upon anybody.

I think: I would like to stop reading the newspaper. I would like to post about non weighty topics. I think I will post about other things. But I also felt like I had to share this information to move forward.