With school starting here yesterday, summer has officially ended. I now am mom to a first grader (seriously, where does the time go?). And I’m happy to say that he said his first day of first grade was AWESOME!
This summer I truly became a soccer mom (minus the minivan) and a chauffeur. On top of soccer, we had Bible school, basketball camp, and swimming lessons. Oh yeah, 4-H and a vacation were tied in there, too.
We were busy, had a blast, yet I think we were definitely ready for school to start. I could tell that the kids were a little “summered out.” Their excitement for going outside started to dwindle in these past couple of weeks, so the change of school seems to be a good thing.
Still, I’m trying to suck in the last sweet bits of summer. After the kids are put to bed, I try to sit on the deck or patio and read in the last moments of sunlight. A lot of times, it backfires, and I have at least one kid sneaking out, but sometimes, I am able to soak in every last minute of daylight, enjoy the fresh air, and just be.
Yes, the days keep getting shorter.
And my nights are about to get shorter, too.
I am currently 38 weeks pregnant.
I’m in that stage where I don’t really get a good night’s sleep (let’s face it, when you have a basketball attached to your abdomen, it gets a little uncomfortable in bed).
Even though I’m uncomfortable, even though it’s harder to breathe, sleep, and get dressed (compression hose….definitely an acrobatic act), I’m still trying to suck in those last sweet moments of pregnancy. Because this is it. The last feelings of those flutters, the last of having feet sticking in my ribs, the last little pops of hiccups, the last moments of feeling the gift of life inside of me.
Just like summer, this doesn’t last forever.
And just like a new school year, I’m eager with anticipation for the unknown.
Boy or girl?
Calm or boisterous?
Sweet or sassy?
I’m filled with hope that God will bless us with a great year, filled with new adventures and new life.
This year we headed to the South Dakota Black Hills, and had a great time as a family.
We stayed three nights, which seemed to be the perfect amount of time for us on this trip.
We hit up a lot of the sites geared toward younger kids, but there is still so much to do and see that we will probably go back when the kids are older.
Day 1: North Dakota to Rapid City
On our drive from North Dakota to South Dakota, we took the Enchanted Highway. Just beware of which ND/SD highways you take on a Sunday morning. There are not a lot of places to stop. (And when you are pregnant, this matters!) 😉
Storybook Island: This is like Storybook Land in Aberdeen, but smaller. Admission is free, and it’s fun to walk through. They also have a train that the kids can ride for $3.
Dinosaur Park: This is another free attraction in Rapid City. There are a lot of steps, but the view of the city is worth it. The kids had fun climbing on some of the dinosaurs and touching the larger ones.
We concluded Day 1 by staying at Ramkota in Rapid City. They didn’t have continental breakfast (which would have been nice!), but the pool was worth it. They have a zero-entry play area with pirate ships and water slides. It was fun!
Day 2: Rapid City to Rushmore
Reptile Gardens: This is really like a small zoo, but with mostly reptiles. I have a boy who is into snakes, so he thought it was very cool! While you are at Reptile Gardens, you can take in different animal shows. We watched an alligator and a snake show, where the worker handles these creatures. We had the opportunity to pet giant tortoises, pet a python, and walk through the terrarium where you can get up close to different birds, lizards, and even snakes (a boa constrictor!) that roam free in this building.
Mount Rushmore: This wasn’t the most eventful stop for the kids. We found the North Dakota flag on the walkway. We also took some photos with the kids and family in front of the faces, and that was about all we did at Mt. Rushmore.
Needles Highway: By this point, I suggested we take a drive. It was mid-afternoon, and a good time for the kids to fall asleep. I enjoy scenery, so suggested we take this route. Let me tell you, it will take a lot longer than you think to drive though this loop! And if your kid gets queasy, it makes for an even longer drive. 🙂 But it was gorgeous and there were lots of tunnels to drive though. I’m glad we took it.
After our long journey though curves and hills, we headed to Rushmore Shadows, the resort we chose to stay at. We roasted hot dogs over a fire and relaxed for the rest of the evening.
Day 3: Bear Country USA and Resort Relaxation
Bear Country USA: This was great! It’s a drive-thru park where you get to see the animals close up. Keep your windows rolled up because the bears come right up to your vehicle! And they have more than just bears. Expect to see lots of other wildlife as well. We went first thing in the morning which worked out well. The animals were up, and there weren’t many people there at all.
We spent the rest of the day at the resort, with swimming and mini golf being favorites of the kids.
Day 4: From Old MacDonald’s Farm to North Dakota
Old MacDonald’s Farm: This is a simple petting zoo, but the kids loved it. They offer a lot of hands-on activities such as bottle feeding, holding baby chicks, and going inside the pens with the rabbits and goats. If you are already from rural ND, your kids have probably “been there, done that”. But it’s still fun.
After that, we were on our way back to North Dakota.
Overall, the road trip was pretty smooth. The worst of it was the first five miles away from our house, when dad had to almost pull over and tell the kids that if they don’t stop fighting (over a yellow marker), we would turn around and not go on vacation. After that, it was clear sailing for the most part. Thank goodness, in part, to our ancient portable DVD player. 🙂
I’m glad we took the time to go on a family vacation. We made memories together, and I think it made my kids grow a little closer.
I’m excited to see where the road will take us next year!
My kindergartner came home from school and said, “Mom, can you buy me a fidget spinner?”
My gut response was You are absolutely not taking a fidget spinner to school!
Some of you may be wondering what a fidget spinner is.
In case you haven’t been in the school scene in the past couple of months, a fidget spinner is a toy that’s been marketed as a tool to help kids focus and relieve stress. Sites are specifically marketing them as tools that are great for kids with ADHD and autism.
I was once in the dark and didn’t know what one was. I was subbing in a middle school classroom, and a student was supposed to be doing work, but instead was spinning a toy between his fingers, showing his friends. I took it and told him that I would give it back to him after class.
Then a few days later, I saw a picture of one of these contraptions online and discovered exactly what I had taken away from the student.
They are a LEARNING TOOL?!
To help kids focus?!
So I felt a little dumb that I took it away. Maybe this kid was supposed to have it?
Now, I am not an expert with students who have special circumstances, so perhaps these fidget spinners do provide some benefit to those kids.
However, as I’ve been subbing in more and more middle school classrooms, the number of kids who bring this to class is astonishing. And distracting.
These are supposed to help students focus?
I recently had a room full of 6th graders. They were in groups at tables, and their assignment was to answer questions in literature circles about the novels they had just read. Many, many students were more focused on showing off their tricks that they could perform with their fidget spinners, while other kids watched. One even had a fidget spinner with flashing lights.
So these are supposed to help with focus?
As the teacher, I had to constantly walk around and remind the groups to put the spinners away and get back on task.
Then, when they were done with their questions, their assignment was to continue reading the next chapter in their assigned book.
What do you think happened?
The students got cozy in their reading positions, their books were in their laps, and out came the fidget spinners, which they paid more attention to than the pages of their book.
So if you think you are buying one of these to help your child in class, I don’t think it is worth it. Fidget spinners are way too distracting in a regular classroom.
So when my 6-year-old came home from school wanting one, I told him, “I don’t think you should have one in school.”
“But other kids do!”
What he doesn’t know is that I recently did order two (not the overly expensive ones!).
First of all, I am curious about them.
Secondly, they will be in my purse, and I hope to be able to pull them out during times when my two kiddos need a distraction, like when we are waiting for a meal at a restaurant or when they are bored on a car ride.
Because from what I’ve witnessed, these are definitely a distraction, which can come in handy during those moments when the kids need to just sit still.
But for school and the classroom, no. Just, no.
These are toys. A fad. They are obviously attractive to kids, so if you need something to keep them distracted, this seems to be it.
But please, please keep them out of the classroom. All I’ve seen is students choosing to focus on spinning and ignoring everything else that they should be working on in class.
So, Carter, no, you are not taking one to school.
Luckily summer is almost here, and I’m willing to bet that the craze will be over by next fall.
I feel like I’ve reached the end of an era–sort of.
Every year after one of my kids has a birthday, I dig out the baby book and fill out the most recent birthday page.
So after Carter’s birthday, that’s what I did. I shuffled through, looking for the page for Birthday #6.
But it wasn’t there.
Because baby books generally go up to age five.
That’s it. My first baby’s baby book is done.
I’m not quite sure how to feel about that.
He’s mature, smart, self-sufficient, and SIX.
Give him a 1,000 piece Lego set and he’ll finish the thing in a day without any help.
I realize that in a few years, six will seem like such a small number. And I’ll look back at pictures and think, He was so little then!
So while I’m feeling a bit nostalgic as I flip through the pages of his baby book (and my heart is feeling a bit of an ache for the baby he once was), I’m also flipping through the pages of his “Birthday Book,” a book that has a page for each year up to page 18. (Yes, yes, a baby book AND birthday book. I’m a documenting, word-obsessed mama.)
Ages 8, 11, 16, 18…
More years to come. More growth. More firsts.
So many hopes and dreams for the years ahead.
As I’m saying goodbye to the baby book, I’m also saying hello to his future. Future friends, activities, disappointments, and successes.
And as his mom, I get to come along for the ride.
Motherhood is a blessed, blessed position to find myself in. And even though it goes by in the blink of an eye, I feel so rich to be able to look forward to the years ahead.
Even though I’m done with the baby book, I still have 12 years left of “The Birthday Book.”
And I’m excited for God’s plan for Carter and how those pages will be filled.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
Being from North Dakota, it’s almost a given that my homegrown, rurally-raised man is a deer hunter.
And if you have a deer hunter in your family, it’s almost a given that you will have deer sausage in the freezer.
We happened to have a hunk of venison in the freezer, just waiting to be transformed into jerky or sausage. We decided to give it a whirl and make a small batch of sausage ourselves.
In the past, we have made large batches of homemade sausage with my grandparents, and it’s a family affair. The guys grind and mix the meat, and then proceed to stuff the casings. Grandma cooks up the sausage as it’s being mixed to make sure it has the right balance of seasonings. We all taste test to make sure it’s good. (That’s an enjoyable requirement!). Grandpa smokes the sausage on his massive homemade smoker. The ladies make sausage patties and seal all of the sausage using our trusty vacuum sealers. It’s quite a process, and it’s quite efficient.
This is from a couple years back. Love that she loved helping!
This is tradition. I used to help make sausage even when I was a little kid. And look, now my kids are helping, too! 🙂
Along with this family tradition, we have also taken the shortcut route in the past and have had it made at different processors, like Reister Meats out of Medina. I think we’ve even had some (gulp!) goose brats made at Meats by John and Wayne in Fargo.
But sometimes, it’s just fun to experiment and do it yourself. So that’s what we ventured to do one recent Sunday afternoon. And by “we” I mainly mean my husband since he’s the one who planned it and did most of the work. I was sort of along just for the ride.
Bless his heart, while I was on a girls trip to Fargo (to see Ree Drummond I might add!), he cut up the deer and pork and had it ready to go.
Then Sunday afternoon, he and Carter got it ground up and mixed.
We tried a country style seasoning that we picked up at the Bismarck Sports Show in February. We got it at the Owen’s BBQ booth out of Glenburn, ND. And then after a quick call to grandpa and grandma for advice, they reminded me to always add extra garlic (4 “toes” for 25 pounds), plus extra pepper. Always extra pepper.
So we did.
We also planned to add bacon to half our batch. We soon discovered that bacon turns into a gloppy mess when you try to run it through a meat grinder. Still, we put it in half our batch with some high-melt cheddar cheese.
We (I mean my husband) got our seasoning mixed in and I lit up my trusty electric fry pan to test our our concoction.
As I was frying, I noticed our color was off. Normally, sausage turns pink, and this was brown. We forgot to buy the cure!
Still, it tasted good. But more pepper. We definitely needed to add more pepper.
We figured we could manage without the cure, it would just look a little different. I recalled my sister did the same thing when they made sausage, so I called her up. Lo and behold, she hadn’t died from it, so we figured we’d be fine. 😉
Then I googled uncured sausage and smoking it (because we planned to smoke our sausage), and I discovered that unless you smoke it at a high enough temp (basically cooking it), we risked a nasty dose of botulism.
Time for a little improvisation. We had some jerky seasoning in the cupboard that had cure packets in it. We followed the instructions for ground meat and added enough cure for our sausage batch. Voila! That cured our cure problem.
In went the bacon and cheese, and I again fired up the fry pan to test out our new and improved sausage. The sample patty was Harper approved. This three-year-old doesn’t want much more in life other than chicken strips and fries, so when she ate almost the entire patty, we knew we were onto something.
So the sausage was mixed and seasoned to our liking. Now it was time to stuff the meat into casings, which happen to be pork intestines. (Guess which one of us rinsed those babies out…..I’ll give you a hint….it wasn’t me…) As he pushed the meat through the “stuffer” he continually said, “Yeah, we’re never doing this again.”
When we stuff sausage with my grandparents, we use my grandpa’s antique stuffer. Literally antique. They have one on display at the North Dakota Heritage Center. It’s like the one pictured here:
This is similar to ours. Surprisingly, I found this on Etsy!
It works amazingly well. Those Germans from Russia were onto something.
Well, we didn’t borrow my grandparent’s antique stuffer. We used the attachment on our humble little electric meat grinder. It wasn’t as efficient as one might think it should be.
To make it work, one fills the “tank” with meat (and it doesn’t hold a whole lot) and then uses the pusher to push it out. I was in charge of guiding the meat that came out into the casings and it took awhile to get the right size down. Some of our sausage came out about as wide as a brat, so I was told to “get them a little fuller.” That resulted in some of our sausage resembling an anaconda that just swallowed a very large animal. We are taking massive girth.
Eventually I figured out a happy medium and we also have some normally sized sausage rings.
We (I mean my husband) got our sausage twisted into rings, and the hubs then threw them in our little meat smoker. When he brought them in, our entire house smelled like a meat factory, in a good way.
Since I wasn’t exactly the most hands-on helper when it came to cutting up the meat, mixing the meat, and rinsing out those lovely casings (remember…pig intestines…), I did the clean-up.
I thoroughly disinfected everything multiple times. Throughout the afternoon, you could hear me saying multiple phrases to the kids, such as:
“Wash your hands…that’s raw pork!”
“Don’t touch everything with that meat on your hands!”
“You got raw meat all over our fridge handles. Go wash!”
I have a bit of a phobia of contracting a parasite from raw pork. Never watch Monsters Inside of Me on Animal Planet at night. Ugh, I tell ya… 😉
We eventually got everything sealed. Carter helped me label the bags. I told him to mark the unsmoked packages with a “U.” So here’s what he wrote:
We tried our bacon cheddar smoked sausage for supper, and we liked it! Success!
After everything was said and done, “I’m never doing this again” turned into “Would you ever do this again?” And that turned into “I would only do this again IF…”
I’m guessing that somewhere down the road, we might do this again.
We may just have to borrow that 100-year-old sausage stuffer first.
I accepted others for who they were, no matter what.
I sometimes recruited the kids with no friends to be on my speech team. (If anyone from my speech team is reading this, be assured I didn’t think you were all loners! 🙂 Because that’s not the case. But you know that we did have some lonely, shy, or “awkward” students that may have needed a place to fit in, so I invited them.) I tried to show interest and be welcoming to others.
Anyway, I digress.
As I’m reading this book about serving others, I’m realizing just how much I served others in my past career. Students would drop by when they needed encouragement. Or, if they needed to vent (which can happen a lot with high school girls…). I always tried to be welcoming. But at the time, I never thought about it from the Christian aspect of being called to serve.
As open to students as I was in school, I know I wasn’t like that with my home. I’m a bit of an introvert, a bit of a perfectionist, and a self-declared “not very good home decorator.” Which means I was always self-conscious about inviting people over.
I remember a time early in our marriage when my husband suggested we invite people over to grill out after work.
What?! We can’t have people over last minute like this. The house isn’t clean!
And that was BEFORE kids. So, I can now assure you that my house was definitely cleaner then than it is now.
And I’m still not as open with my home as I could be or would like to be. Since becoming a stay-at-home mom, it’s been so easy to fall into the pattern of not offering hospitality to others and shutting myself in with the kids. It’s so easy to just “be and exist” and not think about how I might welcome others to my home.
Of course I serve my family. But what about my neighbors? Am I as welcoming as I could be? Probably not.
It’s been so easy to wrap myself up with my family in my home and not think of others. It’s so easy to think, “If they wanted to hang out, they’d ask us.” But the truth is, in today’s society, we are all busy, and we sometimes don’t take the time to build a sense of “community” in our neighborhoods and even extended family. But that can change by stepping up and becoming the one to serve and love others.
Since becoming a mom, my faith has definitely grown. I think once you have kids, it has to. 😉 Now that I’m expecting my third, I’m pretty sure I’m going to be needing a direct line to God. (But, don’t I know it…that’s been in place from the start.)
I feel like God has been putting it in my heart to love others, to serve others. And when I say “serve” I’m not talking about starting a homeless shelter in my basement. Serving can be as simple as inviting a friend over for coffee or inviting an unfamiliar neighborhood mom over for a play date in order to get to know her. It’s about offering hospitality and saying, “Come on over and join us, mess and all!”
Specific lines and messages from books I’ve read this past year are still sticking with me.
“If community doesn’t come to you, build community for others.” – Jen Hatmaker, For the Love
“Don’t wait for others to bless you–be a blessing to others first.” – Lysa TerKeurst, Uninvited
“I am a woman who wants to love God, but so often I am too busy to love the people he puts in my path…’Love your neighbor as yourself’ (Mark 12:31). – Karen Ehman, Listen Love Repeat
I don’t think I would be remembering the Hatmaker and TerKeurst themes if it wasn’t put on my heart.
So I’m hoping to work on this skill. Or really, this calling. We are called to love others, to treat others as we want to be treated.
And for me, branching out of my family bubble and finding time amidst the busyness of life can be a tricky thing. But in the end, I know it’s something that I want.
Will your smoke alarm actually go off if there’s a fire?
I had started to question the integrity of our smoke alarms after we seared steak one evening and our upstairs was filled with a smoky haze. (Oops…) Even though our house was smoky, the alarms did not go off.
And then in October we had a fireman speak at our MOPS group about fire safety. He told us how alarms generally last about 10 years. I put it in my mind to check our smoke alarms.
And then recently Jeff Rossen reported on the Today show about smoke alarms and how to make sure yours actually works. The link for that report and video is here. I again put it in my mind to check our smoke alarms.
And then over the weekend there was a heartbreaking tragedy in Carrington–3 children were lost to a fire in their home.
Last night, we finally checked our smoke alarms.
And do you know what? Our main level alarms did NOT detect smoke.
Now, you can always press that “test” button on your detector. It will tell you that the battery is working and that the alarm itself (the sound) works. But that test button won’t tell you if your alarm actually detects smoke.
So we did the candle test, as Jeff Rossen’s report suggests. We lit a candle, blew it out, and immediately held it up to the alarm and let the smoke surround the alarm area. We repeated that for all of our alarms upstairs and downstairs. Only ONE of four smoke alarms on our main level detected the smoke. All of our alarms in the basement detected the smoke. They are newer so that makes sense.
Smoke alarms generally last about 10 years, and that’s about how old our main level alarms are. Over time the sensors can go out or get covered with dust.
So we ordered replacements last night.
And that gives me peace of mind because you just never know….
I highly encourage you to do the candle test and make sure that your alarms still detect smoke.
I know you love your iPad. And you know how to take pictures on my phone just as well as I do. Technology is integrated into your life just like any other basic necessity. Food. Air. Shelter. I mean, could we even survive anymore without Wi-Fi??
But let me tell you about the olden days. Like when I was a kid. Waaaay back in the 1900s. A magical time period known as the late 80s and early 90s.
I didn’t have an iPad. In fact, if you would have used the word iPad in front of me, I would have thought it was something only to be used after a severe eye injury.
I didn’t have 24-hour access to cartoons. I had maybe an hour of old Scooby Doo, Bugs Bunny, and Pink Panther reruns on weekday mornings. Then Little House on the Prairie would come on. We had no choice but to see what Laura and Mary Ingalls were up to on that day because there was no way my mom was missing her favorite show.
On the weekends, we, of course, had Saturday morning. After Saturday morning, there were no cartoons on ANY channel. Of course, we only had 12 channels on our big, square, wooden TV…and that was a lot. Some of my friends were stuck with only 3 fuzzy channels.
Back to Saturday morning. Garfield and Ninja Turtles ruled the roost. I know you have Ninja Turtles today, but trust me, the turtles of my era were much cooler. 😉
We didn’t have Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV, or DVR.
We DID have VHS, but of course, you have no idea what that is. And you will never have to abide by the phrase, “Be kind, please rewind” after renting a movie.
It seems we had a lot more free time to just be kids. There was no such thing as a play date. Moms did not preplan who we would play with or when. We just went outside. And if there were other kids around, we played.
We weren’t shuttled to gymnastics/dance/swimming lessons/soccer/orchestra/basket weaving 3-5 days a week. We entertained ourselves. If I was bored, it was my fault. I didn’t rely on my mom providing me with mind stimulating activities on a routine basis.
There was no Wi-Fi, no Google. We couldn’t ask Alexa or Suri if we needed an instant answer. For example, if I wanted to know what a camel sounded like….totally out of luck. We were just left to wonder about a lot of things. Of course, I could have tried to look up information in the 1976 set of World Book encyclopedias that I had. They were my dad’s when he was kid.
And there was NO Facebook. My mom didn’t have 200+ internet friends to wish me a happy birthday when she posted a picture of me on my special day. There was no public birthday announcement for me. Sometimes, sometimes, I would get a pencil with a cool eraser at school on my half birthday (summer birthday here). But that was about as public as it got.
Eventually, we would get something known as a Motorola bag phone that allowed us to call from our car. It was like a cell phone, but way more discreet. 😉
Yes, my loves, you have all the conveniences of today’s technology at your fingertips. And you have learned a lot because of that.
But sometimes I do wish that I could plop you right back in 1990. When technology didn’t clutter every aspect of life and free play was king.
Of course that’s not going to happen, and we are going to navigate this incredibly modern world together. I love technology just as much as you do, and who knows what amazingly awesome tools we will have next!
Someday, you will probably look back at my iPhone just like I look back at my parents’ bag phone, and you’ll say, “Remember THAT thing. That was a beast!”
But for now, you can continue to play and tap and watch your little screen. And you can continue to get mad at me when I tell you to shut the cartoons off or that your iPad time is up.
Because I also want you to remember all the fun you had without technology.
Last year I was blessed with three large gift bags filled with feminine hygiene products.
They were from my four-year-old boy. 🙂
It all stemmed from a conversation we had earlier that year. He noticed some large pink boxes in my Target bags that I returned home with. (Because isn’t that how it goes…mom comes home with grocery/shopping bags and the kids have to raid the bags to see what mom bought).
“Mom, what are these?”
“Oh, they’re just something that moms need.”
And we left it at that.
Around Christmastime, he wrapped three presents for me by himself, and lo and behold, he went shopping in our bathroom storage closet and gave me three large boxes of Playtex tampons. Something I needed, I guess.
It was cute. It was sweet. We all got a chuckle out of it.
Fast forward a year.
My son got mysteriously quiet one day after school – a trait that is fairly rare for him.
I went searching, and I got to the guest bedroom downstairs (aka my gift wrapping station). I heard, “Don’t come in mom! I’m wrapping your present!”
I turned around to leave and noticed that the bathroom light was on. And a light bulb went on in my head. I knew exactly what he was wrapping for me.
He came upstairs with a gift bag and a smile.
“Mom, this is for you. It’s something that you need.”
“Ooooh, that sounds good.”
A few days later, he brought up another gift bag, complete with name tags and tissue paper.
“I wrapped you another present. It’s something you REALLY need.”
“Okaaay.” (forced smile)
At this point, I’m realizing that I have a supply closet filled with enough to remedy all of the women in our residential development for quite some time.
He has continued to wrap presents for his sister (a gift bag filled with dolls from her room).
He has also wrapped presents for his dad (a Bison magnet from our fridge, and I’m not sure what else).
At a certain point, I started to get a little bothered that he was using up all of my Christmas supplies for these “presents.”
The other day after school, I approached him as he was wrapping a bottle of Powerade for his dad.
“Honey, it’s really sweet of you, but you know what? We can go shopping sometime and you can pick out presents for everyone. You don’t have to just give stuff from around the house.”
“I know. I just wanted to do something nice.”
And he totally warmed my heart with that.
‘Tis the season for giving from the heart.
When it comes to gifts, it doesn’t always matter what it is. What matters is the givers’ heart and the thought behind it.
And my little giver has pretty good intentions.
And, hey, at least I’m getting something I need! 😉
Time to start thinking about Christmas shopping, Black Friday, and presents. Oh my!
I like stuff.
I LOVE stuff.
I like to shop for stuff. I like to buy stuff. I really like to buy stuff online because how fun is it to get a package in the mail and open it?!
Let’s see what FedEx brought today!
I think the UPS guy practically knows us by name once the holiday season arrives.
But even though I love stuff, I also hate stuff.
I hate how stuff accumulates and clutters my house.
I hate how my kids play with stuff for only so long and then it sits around.
I hate how I feel that I need to go through their rooms (and the toy room….a little hint that, yes, we have too much stuff) to get rid of stuff to make room for the new stuff they will be getting for Christmas.
After four Christmases and birthdays with kids, its safe to say they have WAY more toys than they need.
Way more than they can possibly play with.
Of course they do have some of their favorites. Some of the toys that my kids play with over and over again are Magnatiles/Picasso Tiles, their marble run, Legos, a dollhouse, puzzles, and kinetic sand. And I won’t lie….I kind of love to play with Magnatiles and kinetic sand, too. Magnatiles are sooooo expensive, but definitely worth it. 😉
So, once again, I will be cleaning house (while they aren’t looking of course), and picking out toys that are perhaps no longer loved. Off they will go to be donated. Others, I won’t be able to let go of, even if they aren’t being played with, because I have that inevitable guilt. “Grandma bought this for him/her. I can’t get rid of it…”
I know that we will be getting more stuff this Christmas. Last year it was a good thing that we made two trips back to our parents’ houses, because otherwise we wouldn’t have fit everything in our vehicle after having at least three Christmases complete with grandmas, grandpas, aunts, and uncles.
I don’t want to sound like I am complaining or ungrateful, because the kids LOVE opening presents. I love watching them open presents. It’s fun. It’s not what Christmas is about, but it is fun. And a tradition that I’m not ready to give up. I love that my family is so generous. I love that we shower each other with gifts.
We will still plan buy Christmas presents, we will still do Santa. All of this is part of the magic of childhood.
But I also think it’s fun to offer experiences as well. I like the idea of pool passes, movie tickets, hotel stays. Experiences that will create memories as a family. Experiences are fun. Experiences don’t sit around and clutter the house after they are done being used. They will hopefully leave a warm memory in our hearts.
And speaking of experiences….
As much as a I love to buy STUFF for my kids, nieces, and nephews, (as well as for myself), I never know what to get the adults in my life!
I think experiences are a great way to gift adults. As adults, we already have so much stuff. And it’s so incredibly hard to buy for my parents and grandparents because they already have everything they need.
So this year I might try to stick with experiences. Restaurants, movies, massages, etc. Who doesn’t love a night out or a little pampering?
So this Christmas, perhaps consider giving more experiences. You will have less stuff to haul around, more memories to make, and let’s be real here – it’s also more environmentally friendly – no so much wasteful packaging.
Merry Christmas! (I know it’s not even Thanksgiving yet…)
May your hearts be full and your wallets a little less full (it’s the giving season after all), whether stuff is included or not.
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