I always say I'm going to shop throughout the year so that I'm not running around like a wild-eyed crazy lady two days before Christmas trying to convince myself that Ryan will definitely love one-piece zip-up pj's with basketballs printed all over them. And trying to deny that I'm just attempting to find something, anything so I can cross his name off my list.
But I can't shop too early because then I forget what I bought. And I am forced to hide the gifts because Reagan is a serious snooper. Then I can't find them.
Plus, it's hard for me to catch the Christmas spirit when I can still wear shorts to the mall.
I want to be bundled up in a puffy coat, wearing a scarf and mittens, and carrying my many shopping bags down the cold sidewalk while seeing my breath swirl up in a wreath around my smiling face.
But alas, I do not live in a Lifetime Channel Christmas movie.
As difficult as it can be to find gifts for my family, it can be doubly difficult finding presents for Lily. I'm just never sure what's gonna float her boat. And any item from a special needs catalog will be twice as expensive as a "regular" toy.
Sometimes I can get pretty discouraged. I am envious of parents who can simply choose an item off the shelf, know that their child will be able to "work it" and will love it.
But then I remember how rewarding it is to come up with something that Lily loves and not simply because it's Barbie or Mickey Mouse. She loves it because it is creative. Because she can "work it" in her own way.
So I really have to put on my thinking cap when I shop for The Bird.
I look at things and try to figure out other ways to play with them. In my house, the directions on boxes are simply suggestions - just one way of doing things. And I ignore those silly ages listed on toys.
I don't just spend time on the toy aisles. I look everywhere - hardware, storage, kitchen, sporting goods, home decor, camping, automotive....
It's like a treasure hunt. Only my treasure isn't the toy - it's watching my baby girl with something I found that has totally captured her imagination.
And for just a moment, I feel like I'm in her head and I get it.