Tuesday, December 31, 2013


A happy holiday we had.

We started Christmas in Osh Kosh with my step-fathers family. We had fun in the pool, though the hot tub was out of order. We had pizza (bad idea) the dairy had me in pain a few days later. The girls love staying in a hotel, they enjoyed staying up way too late eating popcorn!

It was great to see the extended family. We brought our own food to avoid tummy troubles. It was a great day.

The kids got a few great gifts, only a few are rather irritating. I should not have put the batteries in the puzzles-we like them better when they don't make noise. Craft items are always loved by the kids!

We got home and unloaded our loot-and had Christmas Eve at home. We gave the kids their gift a day early. It was so much fun to watch them play pretend all day! We made them a kitchen set and they LOVED IT!!

I made a turkey and some other food. My green bean casserole-I burnt the onions... We tried brussel sprouts for the first time and I LOVED THEM!! I cannot wait to have them again. We invited the in-laws over to share our feast, there was a lot of food and it is always nice to share. The girls and I made cookies during the day (I made them...they were too busy making pretend cookies...)

Christmas morning was great! I woke up and made homemade monkey bread (that the girls didn't like...) Zariah woke up first and opened her stocking. She was so excited to find an elephant figurine in it! The girls didn't realize what their telescope was at first, once they realized they were super excited!
After our Christmas morning we went to the inlaws and the kids got way too many gifts. There were a few great gifts, but still just TOO much. I loved my stocking and main gift from them. I got a big clothes rack (YAY!) and in my stocking was raw local honey, felted soap (WANTED SOO BADLY!), and wool mittens!!

Overall, Christmas was great. It was still a bit stressful. We did not go all out this year on d├ęcor, we actually didn't do much at all. I hope my kids enjoyed their holiday.

This past weekend, we did Christmas at my moms house. It was nice.

My hope is that each year, the holidays simplify more and more. It is nice to have good quality time with family, and bring home less junk.

A note about gifting my children:

I love and care for the people that buy for my children (and us adults) which is why I hate to see them waste their hard earned money on things the kids do not want or need. I feel bad when we have to re-gift items that are lovingly bought for my children. I feel horrible when we have to return items to the store. This is the reason we make suggestions for gifting, and also why we appreciate it when less is given. I feel WORSE yet, when the kids are "excited" about a gift-we open it-keep it...and then the kids do not touch it after the holiday is over! The item ends up donated, we are teaching the kids that it is ok to just toss things, instead of teaching them to love what they have. You cannot LOVE your item if you have too many. It is too easy for forget about it-which is sad! I do not want my kids to think it is OK to just toss something when you get something new. I want them to appreciate what they have, and be contented with less. I am trying to teach through example...

My kids want for nothing really, they have a lot! I do feel that Christmas *and most birthdays and holidays* are way too commercialized! When people buy for my kids, I am not sure they actually THINK about the children. People feel good about buying things, but I do not know that they pay attention to what the kids really truly NEED or WANT. Many gifts are made to make the gifter feel good about themselves, or out of obligation-and what is the point of that? That new Barbie-probably won't be played with-but a gift of your time-that will make their little hearts grow and memories that stick!

The kids were not gifted "activities" (music, art, gymnastics, swimming) which I know they truly want. I do not want my kids to take these activities for granted (with me just paying for them...) and in all honesty, I am not sure I can afford them this time around. Gymnastics starts next week-and I do not know if we will be there.
Maybe, I should have saved the $200+ that I spent on the telescope and paid for gymnastics...maybe? I feel that the telescope was needed for homeschooling, and for our family. We will use it (hopefully) for years to come, AS A FAMILY. My goal is for most of our purchases from here on out to benefit family time.

As for family gifting ideas-I think gifts that give all year long would be great! These are gifts that the whole family would enjoy-they are a little more expensive, but they help us spend time as a family, and make memories together, which is what really matters!

1-Symons membership $36/month or $429 first year (Kind of expensive-which is why we don't have one!)
2- State park pass $25/year
3-county park pass (Redstone...)
4-money towards gymnastics (I pay 120 for 12 weeks for ONE child! it is $225 for both girls for 3 months) $1100/year with tumbling meets figured in (OUCH-no wonder I am broke!)
5-movie theater gift certificates
6-tickets for robot world or other dells attractions
7-Money for their future is always a great gift-maybe not so fun to open, but they will love you for it later in life!
8-outdoor fun (add on to swing set, hiking supplies-new hiking boots for everyone!!)

SOO if we could break down gifting just a little-if you spend $100-$150 on each of my kids plus Nathan and Myself normally (think grandparents)($500-750 total) instead of buying a bunch of little stuff you could do this:
A) pay for a Symons membership $430 (you still have $70-320 left over) you can call it good and get each kid a coloring book (less than $5) so they have something "fun" to open, maybe some beads for the big kids. Your gift would be under $500 for the WHOLE family and would be used EVERY WEEK ALL YEAR LONG!!
B) Buy a state park pass ($25) and a county park pass for redstone ($25), some organic travel snacks for hiking (fruit leathers, organic granola -check GF and safe please) hiking boots for everyone less than $50 for each big kid and about $100 for the adults. You are looking at $350 spent on a gift that gets us outside and bonding as a family! (I also need a GOOD hiking pack for torrin-but need to find a good one $150+?)
C) mix a little of everything from the above list! If you need ideas for stores the kids like-let me know! They like picking out their own clothes-and honestly do not need much for clothes. They love craft items so supplies or money to buy crafts is always awesome!
**We homeschool, so anything that gets us out of the house every so often is very much appreciated! Going to the movies a few times a year is fun for us-it is like $20 for the kids and myself, which isn't bad-but we are always hungry afterwards and it would be nice to have some extra cash to take them to a safe place to eat!

OF COURSE-a Vitamix would be great!! It is super expensive, but our whole family would LOVE one! We love smoothies and dips!

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