Posts Tagged ‘gifts’

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, a stupid Baby Alive that pees, a Giraffe Plushie and Children’s Book Set. 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.

My Week(270) in iPhone Photos

Monday, January 4th, 2016

I’m late again, but it wasn’t my fault this time, I was having laptop issues and my iPhone photos wouldn’t load. I know you were really concerned.



Annual Nutcracker Conference


You’re “welcome”.


Teaching the children naval dominance



Pretty pleased with his own driving skills




We play a lot of cards in Ohio



Child-sized hamster run was quite entertaining


No caption needed





The doc is in and she’ll fix you up…


Drive thru banking is so convenient


This is what happens when I want Linc to pose for a picture



Cousin Christmas is a little crazy


Trouble face


More cards





I forgot to bring my phone inside COSI, but it was REALLY fun


Disco sparkle tree



So many pine needles


Post-Christmas disaster house


Post-Christmas ER trip for some face-gluing

I got both big kids out the door and off to school on time with no crying and no screaming, so reintroduction to real life is going pretty well. It’s currently softly snowing outside while I drink coffee and watch Lincoln destroy the house I already cleaned once today, so my day is going well. That’s not sarcasm, that’s a perfectly lovely day with a 17 month old.

I went a little crazy signing the kids up for activities (again) because bored kids trapped in a cold house are the worst, so this week is going to be B U S Y. Let’s hope they wear themselves out too much to whine, since I am all full up of whining children after 2 weeks off school.

Great Christmas Gift Idea: Personalized Activity Bags

Thursday, November 26th, 2015

Holiday Gift Idea - Personalized Activity Bags

We’ve finally started winding down, but this fall was the fall I signed the kids up for ALL THE ACTIVITIES. Evan has Judo, Caroline has ballet, both big kids had soccer (two different days, two different games on Saturdays), and all three kids have swim (on two different days). I felt like a big reason we had such a great summer was that we were never home. Busy kids don’t whine about the iPad. Tired kids go right to sleep. It seemed like a good idea to keep us out of the house as much as possible. The problem with a full-time after school schedule on top of both full-time schools kids and a full-time baby is you run out of time to keep track of all the accoutrements that go with four different activities. My car was a disaster of shoes, cleats, tights, hair clips, soccer balls, belts, snack cups, water bottles and goggles. I would go to the store to buy groceries and realize every reusable bag contained wet towels from swim. We would get to ballet and I’d realize we were missing a shoe. I couldn’t tell the kids “grab your stuff, let’s go!” because no one ever remembered where their stuff was.

Then I had a GREAT idea: activity bags specifically for each activity. And even better,  personalized photo activity bags so they wouldn’t get mixed up. Luckily, Walmart Photo has the perfect bag as part of their home decor collection – the canvas tote bag. I decided for the Judo and ballet bags I’d really love new pictures, so I took the kids out for a fun photo shoot. For the swim bag, I used photos from my 365 project, both at swim class and from the beach. It was impossible to pick just one, so I made a template in Photoshop for a 4-square collage. If you want to use it, you can download it here (just click, it should download). It’s a PSD Photoshop file, so you’ll need Photoshop to use it. If you don’t have PS or PSE, Picasa makes a quick and easy 4-square collage – and it’s free!

Here are some of the photos from our photo shoot: canvas activity bags-4
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I didn’t tell them what the photos were for, so when the box came and I told them it had presents in it they were really excited. walmart photo canvas tote bags-2
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Really pleased with himself for putting all his Judo stuff in the bag.

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The bags are a nice sturdy canvas with a wide bottom, so they stand up when I fill them with stuff. I can fit 2 towels and changes of clothes in them.

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All three bags hanging up on the hooks in the hallway, ready to go!

We’ve been carrying these all week and they’re working GREAT. Now when I shout “Caroline! Ballet!” she knows exactly which bag to grab (although the fact that I’m pretty sure we left a ballet shoe at the Christmas tree farm is a problem that can’t be solved with organization). There are 3,500 Walmart Photo locations nationwide or you can order online without leaving your couch. Many of their photo gifts are available for free same day pickup in store, so last minute isn’t a problem (and you know grandparents love photo gifts). Right now is offering free shipping on all holiday cards and gifts through the end of the year (12/30/15) so that makes things like their photo ornaments and mugs even more affordable. A huge thanks to Walmart Photo and BlogHer for making these bags possible!    


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How Does Your AeroGarden Grow?

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

Thank you to Scotts and AeroGarden for sponsoring this post and giveaway!!

I got an email from my friends at MiracleGro asking if I might be interested in an AeroGarden for review. I ignored it.

Want to know what happened to my last houseplants? Dead.

Wondering how long my cute indoor herb planter lasted? Not even long enough to sprout.

Ask me how many tomatoes I got from my garden this year. NONE. (And yes, I did plant tomatoes.)

But they followed up. And it looked so cute. And after I explained “NO REALLY, IT HAS TO BE FOOLPROOF” they assured me it is. So far, they’re right.

miraclegro aerogarden review


A Special Christmas Gift

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

special gift 1 special gift 2 special gift 3 Those should come in handy right around July  16th, 2014.