Tag Archives: hanukkah

Build-A-Bear Pony Hanukkah Conundrum

Hanukkah falls ridiculously early this year. It starts the night before Thanksgiving. So, two days before most people even start their holiday shopping, I’m supposed to be completely done with mine. There’s no Black Friday for Jews’ Hanukkah this year– although I suppose you could shop for the remaining 5 days, I prefer to be more prepared than that. I like to have all my gifts wrapped, labeled and ready to go on the first night of Hanukkah.

One particular Black Friday event has thrown a wrench in my gift-giving plans. The big girls are obsessed with My Little Ponies, and Build-A-Bear recently released a line of My Little Pony plushes, which they are slowly putting out on the market one pony at a time. The big girls already got Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle for the birthdays.

Pinkie Pie sold out at Build-A-Bear almost immediately from what I understand, and Lily was sad to learn that she would never have at home access to ALL the Build-A-Bear My Little Ponies. I hadn’t planned on getting her ALL of them because they are $$$$$, but apparently that was in her big plan. I was actually a little glad when I found out Pinkie Pie was sold out because it meant the set could never be complete and I wouldn’t have to secure all six ponies.

Well, that plan got destroyed. Build-A-Bear rereleased Pinkie Pie, but with a catch. You couldn’t make her in the store until Black Friday. I refuse to go to the mall on or around Black Friday. I hate crowds! Pinkie Pie was available online earlier, though, and I ordered her and received her shortly thereafter.

Now I was faced with the very annoying reality that I only had ONE pony to give to two (or three) girls at Hanukkah, but I decided they could share it until…

Build-A-Bear announced they were releasing Fluttershy. Great! Now I have a pony for each girl for Hanukkah. But wait. Wait!

Fluttershy isn’t available until Black Friday. You can not preorder her on the website. The only way I can get Fluttershy in time for Hanukkah if you consider shipping times is if I go to Build-A-Bear on or after Black Friday.

Oh yay.

I guess we’re stuck doing that, but it creates a whole new equal sister treatment problem. We already have one pre-stuffed pony. Who gets the unstuffed pony? Are we going to fight over who gets to make Fluttershy? Is it wrong to give one sister a stuffed pony and then take the other one to go make one herself?

I mean, what to do, right? I suppose I could go out to the mall (45 minutes away) by myself mid-Hanukkah to stuff Fluttershy by myself, but that’s time-consuming and also seems unfair. Or maybe I could buy a pre-stuffed one in the store? Or maybe the girls will be ok with sharing stuffing responsibilities? Or?

I also absolutely can’t make my mom the year-end photobook I usually make her for Hanukkah because I’d have to finish, oh, right now, and that’s seriously not close enough to year end.

You see what this early Hanukkah does to people? Or how Black Friday totally neglects Jewish people this year? I want Fluttershy right now and I need her for Jewish children, but nope. I can’t get her.

Thanks a lot, Build-A-Bear, Black Friday and the Jewish lunar calendar. Thanks a lot.



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Hanukkah Debates

It’s Hanukkah over here! “Right day” Hanukkah this year! If you weren’t around last year, we had to adjust the start date of Hanukkah last year to work around our travel schedule. This year, we have nowhere to be so we’re being more observant Jews this year by following the rules and sticking to the calendar.

The trouble I’m having with Hanukkah this year is deciding which nights we do what presents. It’s a lot of presents over a lot of nights. I try to keep things more affordable by buying them a fair amount of gifts from The Dollar Tree. Last year, $1 coloring books were one of the biggest hits. As exciting as Dollar Tree gifts are, I have trouble deciding which nights deserve cheap puzzles and coloring books and which nights deserve big ticket items like Legos.

Do you start out small and work your way up to the big ticket items? Or do you start out big and the rest of Hanukkah is junky? Do you alternate junky/amazing/junky/amazing? I can never decide.

Right now we’ve already done two big ticket items and I’m still not sure what I want to do. It’s way more of a dilemma than it should be. I just don’t know what I want to give these people! And more complicated is the fact that Santa comes and brings them a few token gifts because we celebrate Christmas with my husband’s Catholic family. What does Santa bring?

I know I’m overthinking it all, but man, it’s hard. Maybe I’ll just bring the pile down here and make them pick something at random. The thing is, many of the gifts have matching counterparts. So if one gift gets chosen, I should really give the other matching gift to the other sister. So then which sister gets to decide?

So much confusion that the Christians out there will never have to experience. I’m finding myself a little jealous of the one-day present dump because it’s easier. Not only do you not have to decide what to give when or divide your gift budget up among 8 days, but you also don’t have to keep your house relatively clean for holiday pictures for eight days.




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Tricking a 2 year old

One of Lily’s larger Hanukkah presents is a Leapfrog Scribble and Write (and I highly highly recommend this toy to people with kids who are learning to write their letters. It’s amazing!). She played with it over at a friend’s house recently and was overjoyed when she opened it here. The toy was about $20. The same night, I gave Rose a $3 imitation Magna Doodle. Even though The Scribble and Write talks and lights up, Rose is convinced her $3 non-electronic Magna Doodle rip-off is the exact same toy as what her big sister got.

Clearly these toys are identical.

While both toys involve drawing on an erasable board, they are clearly very different. But Rose KNOWS it must be the same toy. Whenever Lily plays with her Scribble and Write, Rose sits right next to her and draws on her Magna Doodle. She even proudly declares “I’m drawing letters!” (She’s not. Except for maybe “O”.)

I wonder when she’ll figure out that Lily got the better toy that night?


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$5 of Joy

EDIT: This was supposed to be posted tomorrow, but I guess I messed up my scheduling dates! Oops! So much for getting ahead. Enjoy it early.

We’re on night 8 of Wheneveryouwannukah Hanukkah over here (it’s officially night 2 to the rest of the Jews). Monday night we had our unexpected biggest hit so far. What do you think it was? Surely it must have been some big expensive toy that the girls have been begging for, right?

Wrong. The combined total of BOTH gifts was $5.

Most luxurious Hanukkah present ever!

I gave them a box of crayons to share and two coloring books from The Dollar Tree. The coloring books were of My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake. When the kids opened them, the level of excitement in here was insane. They were bouncing off the walls excited and screaming about the coloring books and new crayons. It was the type of reaction I’d have if I’d won the lottery. I wish I’d had my video camera going, but who’d have known? I thought I was giving them a sell-out junk gift.

We have not had this type of reaction for any of the other gifts we’ve given them EVER. Their gifts this Hanukkah have ranged in price from $1 to $35. Although they seem to have liked everything, in comparison their reaction was luke warm at best for the $35 presents.

If I had known how exciting a $1 My Little Pony coloring book would be, we’d have spent $16 total for Hanukkah instead of the hundreds we ended up spending!

It just goes to show, with little kids (and perhaps all kids) how much you spend has very little to do with how much they like the gift. Next year I’m buying a lot more things at the dollar store!


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It’s a Hanukkah Miracle

Those of you who aren’t Jewish probably don’t know about this little talked about issue of setting up the menorah. Even though you have to buy specific candles to fit in your menorah, chances are even these overpriced, hard-to-find* beauties won’t stick in your menorah without a little prep work.

For almost every menorah I’ve ever had, you’d stick your candle in the holder and it would just… fall over. Alternatively, some of the menorahs’ candle holders were ever so slightly too small and your candle wouldn’t cram in without breaking.

It is ridiculous. Surely there is a way to get this right? And these aren’t cheap menorahs either. We paid at least $50 for each of them.

Anyway, BEFORE you light the menorah, at least everywhere I’ve been, you hold a flame to the bottom of the Hanukkah candle to get it to melt and stick into the menorah. Basically, you light the menorah twice. Once from the top and once from the bottom. I just did a google search to see if anyone else has ever discussed this on the internet and I’m shocked to see I’m the first. Maybe most people just let their candles be dangerously wobbly in the menorah? I don’t know.

The traditional melting of the bottom of the Hanukkah candle.

Whatever the case, last year my mother bought me a new menorah for Hanukkah. I didn’t get it use it until this year because I didn’t receive it until after Hanukkah because, as you’ve noticed, we don’t always celebrate our holidays on the right days in our family– especially because I live 4 hours away from my parents. So imagine my complete elation when I put a candle in the new menorah for the very first time and it fit. And stayed. And needed NO preparatory candle melting.

Those candles just slid right into the menorah and stayed there! OH THE NOVELTY!

It’s a Hanukkah miracle!

I know it’s a silly thing to be excited about, but man was I pumped when this happened. No more candle melting prep work at our house!

Seriously, though, menorah and/or Hanukkah candle manufacturers of the world: MAKE SURE THE CANDLE HOLES AND CANDLES ARE THE SAME SIZE. It’s really, REALLY not that complicated.

Or am I missing something?

Happy Hanukkah for real today, everyone!



*Hanukkah candles are almost impossible to find in Northwest Ohio. If you ask a clerk for them they will be SHOCKED that any old candle won’t just fit in a menorah. No. Birthday candles don’t fit. No. Giant candlestick candles don’t fit either. They HAVE to be Hanukkah candles. Grocery stores with kosher sections? You should be carrying these things like EVERY grocery store in Northwest Indiana did when I was growing up. Do you hear me Kroger and Meijer? Do you? I found them at Target this year, but trust me, they weren’t there OR Bed, Bath and Beyond the past THREE YEARS. I called the stock people to ask four years in a row and had to resort to ordering them off the internet. WTF, Northwest Ohio? We have THREE synagogues in the area. Surely there are enough Jewish people to justify carrying Hanukkah candles! Jerks. (Alternatively, the synagogues probably have candles available, but, um, I don’t belong to a synagogue right now so this is a moot point for me.)


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The REAL Hanukkah still doesn’t start until tomorrow, but here at the Toy Warden’s house we are going to celebrate night 6 of Wheneveryouwannukah tonight. This makeshift Hanukkah is going great, though we did skip a night of candle lighting due to a late nap butting up to a Christmas party we were supposed to go to. Oops. Seriously, it is hard to find time for the ritual eight nights in a row. I mean, it’s great to have a long celebration, but in the real world when you aren’t that religious and the rest of the world is another religion (not to mention it’s not technically Hanukkah yet), it’s very difficult to hit every night right.

This year, I’d hoped to make Lily understand that most people do not blow out their Hanukkah candles every night. In fact, you are supposed to let them burn out. That’s why Hanukkah candles come in packs of 45.

It was not to be. The second my girls see lit candles, they want to blow them out. Considering that this is what happens at birthday parties, I can’t say I blame them for thinking this is what is supposed to happen. The fact that we sing while we’re lighting the candles and we open presents after certainly adds to their feeling that candle blowing MUST happen.

The not-so time-honored tradition of blowing out the candles.

So every single night, we light the candles and then we blow them out. It might be sacrilegious, but it makes the kids really happy. It also solves the fire hazard problem of leaving candles burning for an hour with little kids who desperately want to touch them and are really too young to be trusted to follow fire safety guidelines.

Maybe someday we’ll let our candles burn down properly, but for now, our candle-lighting ritual ends birthday-cake style.



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Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah at our house. Now, if you are not Jewish, you’re probably about to yell “Happy Hanukkah!” and run to write on all your Jewish friends’ facebook walls.

It is not Hanukkah. While it’s true that some years Hanukkah falls around now and in fact Hanukkah changes its date on the Western calendar every single year, it is not Hanukkah this year until December 20. Yep, 6 days from now.

But at our house, it’s Hanukkah. We have a lot of plans that will interrupt Hanukkah itself and make it difficult to celebrate when it is. The plans include visiting my in-laws. The idea of traveling with a menorah and candles and millions of presents, some of which would make our car trip seem shorter, turned me off so much that we are starting Hanukkah early here.

Or whenever we want, which is today.

It makes me a bad Jew, but a practical mom/traveler. Dealing with all those presents and candles and singing and a menorah and a long car ride and…

Yeah. No.

We will still overlap Hanukkah by 2 days and the girls will get all 8 nights of cultural goodness, if only on a different time schedule than other Jews this particular year. If it were different year, Hanukkah might have ended already! One recent year (too lazy to look it up) it started something like December 4.

I know that Jewish holidays follow the Jewish calendar and there’s a religious significance to when they fall, but our holidays seem really random by the Western calendar. It seems like Hanukkah already falls whenever THEY want (or whenevertheywannukkah). This year we’re just taking the power into our own hands and making it when WE want it/need it. It’s no different than meeting family members you couldn’t see on a holiday and celebrating the holiday later. Or earlier.

Let the Wheneveryouwannukah celebration begin!



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Get a Clue, DJs

In lieu of TV Tuesday and in honor of Hanukkah, I’m going to rant about radio coverage of Hanukkah. As my husband just pointed out, this post isn’t really about kids unless you go about it from the angle that our kids are Jewish (and Korean. I like to call them Jewrean) so this affects them.

Every year on Christmas Eve, I have no choice but to listen to Christmas carols if I want to listen to the radio. Since we live in the cave ages and don’t have even a CD player in our car, I always do end up singing along to “Silver Bells”. Every year without fail, some moronic DJ plays Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah song and then wishes everybody a  happy Hanukkah.

While I’m a fan of Sandler’s song (and so is Lily! Already!), this drives me insane because often Hanukkah is long since over by the time Christmas comes around.  Hanukkah starts on a different day each year on the Western calendar because its start date is based on the solar/lunar Jewish calendar.

I know it makes me a bad Jew, but I really wish we’d just convert the holidays to solid Western start dates so I stop being shocked when I turn to December to discover that Hanukkah starts the next day or that I’ve completely missed Purim AGAIN. (Going to temple occasionally might help me conquer this problem.) I know it’s totally commercialized holiday of me, but it’s really annoying when Hanukkah starts so ridiculously early that you can’t get in on holiday deals.

This year was one of those years– Hanukkah started on the evening of December 1. It will be over December 8. By the time Christmas Eve is here, Hanukkah will have been over for two and a half weeks. It’s ridiculous to say “Happy Hanukkah to our Jewish listeners” on the radio at that point.

I wouldn’t be as annoyed by this if perhaps I ever heard the Hanukkah song on the radio any time but Christmas Eve. I never hear it in the weeks leading up to Hanukkah or during Hanukkah itself unless it is a year that Hanukkah happens to overlap Christmas Eve.

The DJs are trying to be more inclusive by playing the occasional Hanukkah song during their Christmas carol purge, but saying nothing about Hanukkah until it’s two weeks too late is insulting.

So next time you hear Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah tribute on Christmas Eve, check your calendar and roll your eyes if the DJ is actively pissing me off. Chances are, he is.



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“Soon” means “Now”

I’ll let you in on a secret: We bought Lily a Buzz Lightyear doll for Hanukkah. Shhhhh… don’t tell.

Today I was putting out feelers to make sure she even wanted a Buzz doll. In the past, it’s seemed like she doesn’t like Buzz or might even be scared of him. When she got her birthday gift cards, she chose every other Toy Story character over getting him (or a big sandbox or a giant Dora doll).

If you watch the “Toy Story” movies from the perspective of a 3-year-old, it make sense why Lily doesn’t like Buzz. There are moments in each of the three movies where Buzz comes off as a bad guy. In the first “Toy Story”, Buzz threatens Woody’s place as favorite toy. In “Toy Story 2″, there’s a Buzz clone from the toy store who doesn’t understand he’s a toy and threatens the mission to rescue Woody. In “Toy Story 3″ (spoiler alert), Buzz gets reprogrammed and turns against the other toys.

Given three instances of bad Buzz moments, I can understand why Lily might not like Buzz or want him to be a member of her “Toy Story Friends toys” (that’s what she calls them).

Today I asked Lily if she wanted a Buzz and she got completely excited. She is only 3, so where her logic took her next really amused me. “We have to go get Buzz! He’s at Toys R Us! We have to go to Toys R Us and get Buzz! I have to put my shirt on. Where are my pants? I need shoes. We have to go now.”

She thought if I even mentioned getting Buzz, we all had to pile into the car and go to Toys R Us immediately! She wanted him RIGHT THEN.

Oops. She has to wait at least 2.5 more weeks before Buzz will actually become a member of her toy family.

Next time I won’t ask. I mean, we have every other Toy Story cast member (except the green alien guys Lily calls “the green toys”), clearly she wouldn’t object to having a Buzz Lightyear (a talking model was on sale at the Disney Store for $20! I’d never seen them for less than $35!).

Seeing her excitement makes me impatient for Hanukkah even though it starts WAY too early this year. Making Hanukkah start December 1 is just cruel! It’s hard to shop in time and I know I can’t be the only one who forgets about the presents she just got 2 weeks ago when everyone else in the world is hitting the motherload December 25. Lunar Jewish calendar, I beseech you to take more care in the future! If Hanukkah must be corrupted and overblown because of Christmas and commercialization, it should at least wait to start until mid-December. Enough with the December 1 nonsense already!


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