Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

This Christmas I Am Spoiling My Kids Rotten

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

Hello Internet.

Thank you for all the wonderfully written, thoughtful posts about how kids these days are too focused on things and not on the true meaning of Christmas. It’s so important to remember that giving is far superior to receiving, just as God gave his love to all of us. I also read your advice on how experiences make better gifts than giant hunks of plastic. It’s true! You made some excellent points. Then there were the 4 Things devotees: Something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read. It rhymes! So adorable and minimalist and a great way to cut down on junk! And finally, there are the hardcore anti-stuff people who object to basically all of it and make their opinions loudly known. Thank you for your input, I appreciate the time you took to explain it.

This year, I am flat out ignoring ALL OF YOU.

wrapping presents

 

 

 

And I’m doing it 100% on purpose. I haven’t accidentally bought too much. I am not pretending to purchase only hand-crafted, heirloom quality, Waldolf-inspired toys. I am not claiming to be a minimalist while buying piles of presents. This is intentional, planned, thoughtful spoiling.

Our December has been full of both experiences and things. This year, we are seeing Santa no less than 5 separate times. We have five sets of matching Christmas pajamas, including two sets for me and one for the dog. Caroline has a special dress for The Nutcracker, a different special dress for our photo session with Santa, and another special dress for Christmas Eve. Oh and one more to wear on Christmas day after taking off her matching Christmas pajamas. We are opening seven advent calendars every morning. There are custom printed Santa bags for each child and fancy gourmet chocolates for their stockings. They are getting everything they asked for and then some. There is a giant Batman robot, thousands of Legos, and a stupid Baby Alive that pees. There are sleds and ride on toys and loud beeping things. ALL FOUR KIDS get their own Fingerling monkey, even the baby, who definitely does not need a Fingerling monkey. When they come down the stairs on Christmas morning, they’re going to freak out and scream their little heads off with joy.

Do you know what won’t be around our tree on Christmas morning? Their father.

I realize things don’t make up for your dad being deployed during Christmas. There is no present in the world I can give them that will stop them from saying “I wish Daddy was here”. My heart breaks a little more every time they say it – which is often. This isn’t their fault. They didn’t ask to be born into a military family. And until this year we’ve been able to shield them quite a bit from true Navy life – no moving, no long separations, no new schools. I grew up with that lifestyle and although I enjoyed it for the most part, not having “a” home or long-term friendships or a sense of being FROM somewhere can be hard sometimes. We’ve been very lucky that we can do this a little differently than most military families. But our luck ran out now that E is very fancy and important; his skills and expertise are needed on actual working submarines, and actual working submarines deploy.

It’s hard. Being the only parent means I am responsible for all the Christmas, for everyone. I don’t mind, really, because I love Christmas. But trying to buy stocking candy when I am never without at least one child is hard. Wrapping gifts at midnight is hard. Trying to decide if it’s time to tell the big kids about Santa is hard. I’m still part of a partnership as far as parenting goes but my partner is unavailable (most of the time he is 100% unavailable, not reachable by any means).

My choice to go completely overboard and ignore what other people are doing is in no way meant to be a reflection on others. This doesn’t just apply to our specific situation regarding Christmas presents or even just the holidays. As I am very fond of telling my children, different families make different choices. Some do small Christmases, some do big Christmases, some go to great lengths to be with as much family as possible, some want to stay home. Some people step away from Facebook and social media to stay focused on family, but I couldn’t imagine doing that when I spend so much time as the only adult in the room. Some find that taking photos helps keep them connected and in the moment (me, 100%), others find that putting away the camera makes them happier. It is a difficult time of year for so many people for so many reasons, finding joy however you want should be allowed. And this year, my joy is in distracting my kids from things that make them sad with things that make them happy.

Come January 2nd when everyone goes back to school, I am going to be cursing all this STUFF that will have taken over my house. There’s nothing more #firstworldproblem than buying too many toys and then being annoyed by too many toys. I’ll remind myself of that as many times as is necessary during the long, cold, dark months between the end of the holidays and the end of deployment. But right now, I am SO EXCITED about Christmas magic and that is just what our family needs.

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Essex Steam Train North Pole Express 2017

Friday, December 15th, 2017

Previously: 2013, 2015

Taking an Essex Steam Train ride to the North Pole is one of our favorite Christmas traditions. Last year was sort of awful¬†because Finnegan was only 4 months old, it was the 7 pm train, and it was VERY loud. He cried almost the entire time. I don’t think I even took pictures with my real camera – I definitely never blogged it. This year I might have skipped it because E is gone and wrangling four kids on my own at public events is hard, but our boat FRG* decided that to celebrate Kids Halfway Night we would get tickets to the Essex Steam Train North Pole Express. Since it was a group activity (and the FRG subsidized the tickets) it seemed like fate that we should go.

The kids all did GREAT. No crying, no meltdowns, no spilled hot cocoa, (mostly) no torturing each other. There wasn’t even any fighting about who got to sit by the window. We got there right on time and didn’t have to wait long to board. Basically, everything was magical.

Our train car this year was significantly darker than in previous years so my photos are blurry and noisy. I think next year I might – MIGHT – splurge on first class tickets. The fanciest elves host the first class cars, there’s so much more room for dancing, and they have more twinkle lights which would mean better pictures. I’ll also make sure the baby doesn’t rub his grubby fingers all over my lens, leaving some sort of sticky stuff that made all my pictures fuzzy and out of focus.

The gnome jammies and hats are cute enough to make up for a slight lack in technical quality though.

*Quick Navy life lesson: submarines are called boats. What you think of as boats are called ships. An FRG is the family readiness group, which is like a club for all the spouses/families of people on that submarine. They do fundraisers and bake sales and have meetings and they keep us updated on what’s happening with the boat while they’re gone. Halfway Night marks (approximately) the halfway done with deployment date.

 

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Things I Am Giving Up And Things I Am Not

Monday, December 4th, 2017

So here’s the thing: I am not a quitter. I have kept up my 365 project for 3 full years now, and I plan to do it again next year. I’ve been trying to catch up on laundry since 2008 and I haven’t given up on that even though I’m pretty sure it’s hopeless. And I made it through 362 weeks (that’s almost 7 years) of iPhone photos. But I don’t think I’m going to catch up. My phone isn’t making it easy to move my photos, the program I use to resize them isn’t recognizing the folders, and the amount of work it takes to get it all together just doesn’t fit in my schedule anymore. I’ve also completely failed to take photos with my phone several days in the past few weeks because if it’s in my hand the baby tries to steal it and if it’s in my purse I’m not taking pictures. No matter how many times I SAY I’m not going to stop, I think it’s time to admit I’m done.

That doesn’t mean I’m letting the blog die. I’m going to go back to more life-documenting with my real camera. I take photos literally every day for my 365 but haven’t been sharing them here. In 2018, the plan is a weekly/bi-weekly post of those pictures, so I have all my projects (years of pregnancy, baby and kid stories, adventures and thoughts +daily life photo documentation) in one place. I’m just working on not letting myself feel like a failure over something as stupid as blog posts, so I feel like making an announcement that I am quitting officially will help.

Besides letting my iPhoneography slip, I’ve actually been holding things together pretty well. Mostly.There was a day last week where I got off the phone from discussing one of the many adult problems I am currently juggling and I briefly considering just canceling everything. Like, just not doing any of it. Not taking the babies to their doctor’s appointment, not calling the plumber, not doing the dishes, not moving the laundry to the dryer, not taking Caroline to ballet, not putting Lincoln on the bus to school, not making dinner, not taking a picture, not changing the dog’s foot bandage, not taking out the trash…nothing. LIFE IS CANCELED.

Unfortunately, that’s not how this works. None of those things go away and dealing with the consequences of not doing them is going to be more annoying than just doing them. Plus my four small humans don’t let me get away with skipping meals or bedtimes or activities they want to go to. It’s good, really. If I didn’t have all these kids I might let myself slip slowly – instead of just wearing my slippers to the bus stop, I might not leave the house at all. Instead of having a fun day baking with the kids and then eating a handful of mints, I might sit on the couch and eat a pint of ice cream every night. Instead of spending maybe probably definitely too much on presents to make this Christmas extra magical, I might let the sadness of missing E this month overwhelm me.

Speaking of E, I finally had a chance to talk to my husband over Thanksgiving. It was such a relief. Even if we don’t get him back for a lot longer, being able to update him on everything that’s been going on and let him know that we’re OK.

And we are. Ok, I mean. Operation Keep Them Busy has been a raging success. December is officially here and we have plans almost every single day. We kicked off the month with the train to the North Pole followed by a day of holiday fun in Mystic. We haven’t been to the aquarium in a couple months and Finnegan was REALLY into it. We’ll be headed back soon so he can run around squealing at the fishes.

Oh and we saw Elsa. Caroline and Linc were in heaven.

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Christmas Tree Weekend 2017

Monday, November 27th, 2017

Every year we go to Geer’s Tree Farm the day after Thanksgiving to pick out a Christmas tree. It’s perfect New England fun, with tractor rides and kettle corn and beautiful scenery. The next day is the Norwich Winterfest Holiday Parade, which goes right past our street. It’s one of the best weekends of the year, especially when it’s almost 60 degrees and sunny. My sister and brother-in-law came with us to the tree farm and our favorite Navy friends joined us for the parade.

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Christmas 2016

Monday, December 26th, 2016

Merry Christmas! Happy Everything! My parents left today after spending a few days celebrating the holiday with us. I took too many pictures of some things and none at all of others (why didn’t I take a picture before we went to church? No idea.) but the baby took a nice nap today so I had time to cull and edit what I got, so here’s our Christmas weekend in photos.

My mom has worked at Target forever. Almost 20 years, I think. She got me a job at her store when I was 15, then I opened 3 stores in South Carolina when I was in college, worked at another when we were stationed in Virginia Beach, and started working for our district office until we were moved here to Connecticut. So we both love Target way, way too much. One of her co-workers makes and designs shirts, so these were a very appropriate gift. They say “Dear Santa, Just take me to Target”.

Christmas Eve, ready for Santa!

Christmas Morning!

I really, really, REALLY tried to go with useful and wanted over quantity this year. Santa brought the big kids new kid Kindle Fires plus a few small things on their list (Caroline asked for socks and notebooks, Evan asked for a laser gun and Legos, so that was pretty easy). From us they got some clothes and lots of books. Extended family did a great job with thoughtful, fun things the kids have been playing with intently. We’re doing one more mini-Christmas when my in-laws visit in a few days.

I hope you and yours had a beautiful and merry holiday too! We’re going to treat the rest of winter break as extended Christmas, so more matching jammies to come!

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