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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Christmas 2017 recap

I'm having a hard time getting back into the swing of things.  Being off for the holiday and sleeping in was great.  I got used to it real quick.  The kids first week back at school wasn't too bad since 3 out of the 4 days had a delayed start due to the weather, so I was still sleeping in.  This week however, has been a little rough.  The super cold temperatures didn't help either, but yesterday and today are warmer, if you can call 40° warm.

I'm finally getting around to recapping our Christmas.  I know it's 2018 and I've already taken down my Christmas decorations, but I'm still going to write about it.  Then I'll share some Valentines decorations I've been making.

This Christmas seemed to fly by and we didn't get around to doing all the fun traditions we've done in the past.  But there is always next year.  Some of the fun and FREE things we did included:

* Making a gingerbread house at Home Depot.  I was quite impressed that my 7 year old did all the work herself

OK, she got a little help painting from her brother.

* Along with a wooden gingerbread house, we also made the edible kind.  I think more candies were eaten than actually put on the house.

* My little guy just loves trains.  So of course we had to take him to a train garden.  Actually he got to go to several of them thanks to relatives taking him as well.  He loved being able to press the buttons to make things move.  

I think he could have stayed there for hours.

* The two youngest and I went to see Santa and one of his reindeer.  You can't tell by his worried expression, but my son was so excited to pet a reindeer.

* The Elf on the Shelf came back.  You can read about how and why we brought it back in THIS POST.  This was the first time my son was involved in this tradition.  And since the elf was only around for a week, which is a lot more manageable than a month, I think she'll be coming back next year too.

* We went to Bass Pro Shops and played in their Winter Wonderland while visiting with Santa.

Once again my daughter impressed me with her skills, this time it was shooting.  She had pretty good aim for only playing this game once a year.

The 'dirt' was brown kinetic sand and the kids loved playing in it.  We have kinetic sand at our house and I'm thinking of recreating this.  I could put the sand in one of those underbed storage containers along with some vehicles and sand toys and let them play with it that way.  We usually just have it on a baking sheet and use cookie cutters and plastic knives to play with it.  This would bring a whole new dimension to our kinetic sand play.

And let's not forget about Christmas morning.  I don't know who was more excited me or the kids.  Three of the kids got some big gifts.  They didn't cost that much, they were all bought second hand, but they were large and so I didn't wrap them.  You can see in the picture below how I like to separate out my kids gives so we have 4 piles.  On the left is my 7 year old's pile.  Her presents are stacked upon a pink and black leopard print high heel shoe chair.  My 3 year old son's pile is next and behind it is a tall Fischer Price Little People City Skyway race car ramp thingy.  And that big red bag conceals my teenage son's punching bag.  My teenage daughter didn't get anything very large.  Her gift requests were small items like books and art supplies.  I tried to make up for the smaller size with more items by individually wrapping the 13 book set she got.

Since some of the gifts were unwrapped, I didn't want to spoil the surprise (or spoil the change of me seeing their faces when they first see the gifts.  Because of the openness of our house, the kids can look down from the second floor and see right into the living room, I wanted to cover up the gifts and unveil them when I was there to see their expressions.  I just used some bed sheets.  The kids were definitely interested in what was under there making those weird shapes, but they did wait for me to unveil it for them and boy were they surprised.  

And then I took the obligatory Christmas morning photo.  My 7 year old's face was pretty much frozen like that all morning.  She's the most dramatic of our kids and it was so fun to watch her open her gifts and squeal in excitement over each one.  

This year we did pretty good with the presents.  We got stuff the kids actually liked and would use or play with.  That hasn't always happened.  Sometimes it's hard to know what they'll like/play with since birthdays are just a few months before Christmas and the kids already have so much.  To cut back on the amount of stuff, we've tried getting the kids 'experiences' such as pool passes or a trip somewhere but we also like them to have fun stuff to open. 

Here are some of the things the kids got (go ahead and plan ahead for next Christmas or think birthdays, or Easter baskets gifts):

3 year old boy gifts:
Superhero dress up costumes - these are great to pick up on after Halloween clearance.

7 year old girl gifts:

Teenage girl gifts:
Books - mystery, fantasy, sci-fi, how to draw, how to paint, creative writing...
Art supplies such as canvases, paints, gel pens, high quality markers, fabric markers....
Clothes - robe, pajamas, shirts...

Teenage boy gifts:
Ceiling fan - because he says he's always hot at night.

And here's a fun family gift they got - The Claw Arcade Game.  They loved it and practiced much patience in playing it.  It has been fun to play with their friends too.  The novelty has worn off like I knew it would, but I plan to use it for the kid's birthday parties too.  You can change up what you put in it from candy to small toys or even money.  In the video below you can see how intense the kids are in trying to get something.  It's much easier than the claw machine at the arcade.  Depending on the type of candy/toy you put in there, you could be a winner every time.

Hope your Christmas was a merry one and that 2018 has been off to a good start for you.

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