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of gifts and books and things

reading in a tea cup

Noah and I dropped the kids with the in-laws last night and finished almost all our Christmas shopping in under three hours. We hadn’t bought a single gift until last night and the two littles and I bought the remaining two gifts today. This may sound like a huge accomplishment — buying and shipping all our Christmas presents in less than 24 hours — but our list was quite small.

Both our families choose names and each buy for one person (I LOVE THIS) and other than that, we have only to buy for my brother’s kids and our kids. (And Taygan. Hi, Taygan!) A couple years ago, we went a little overboard on Christmas gifts and it really bothered me. Liliana opened one gift and disregarded the rest of them. She didn’t even open them until hours later. Kaylie was overwhelmed and left one gift unopened until later. So, two years ago, we began buying only one present for each kid, plus a stocking. With aunts and uncles and grandparents, they want for nothing. I’ve found the whole Christmas present thing much more enjoyable since we started doing this. And, Christmas is much more affordable.

Noah and I haven’t bought each other Christmas gifts in quite a few years, mostly because we (I) don’t see the point. Noah loves giving gifts, and while I do too, I really don’t care if I don’t get a Christmas (or anniversary or birthday) gift from him. I’m too rational and always find more sensible things to spend our money on. What I’m trying to say, is that I’m a party pooper. Noah loves reading and music and sports and history and video games and has a (long and) detailed list of books and CDs and video games he wants. I have a really hard time drawing up a Christmas list, and when I do write one up, he thinks that buying me kitchen items is completely unacceptable. What? I like cooking! I need to cook! I need kitchen items in which to do the cooking!

When I was going over the Reverb prompts for the last couple days (I haven’t been keeping up)(which is why I like this reverb thing because it’s not required that I keep up), I saw a prompt I liked. It reminded me of a book I put on my Christmas list a couple years ago, and one I wanted to get for the kids this Christmas, but couldn’t find. (I didn’t look too hard, but I may in the next year or so.)

Friday’s Reverb prompt: What was your favorite children’s book?

I have a few favorites. There was a certain book that I took out of my school library every chance I had. The Eleventh Hour. I loved it so much. I haven’t read it in a very long time, so I stole a little bit from the previously-linked site.

Horace the Elephant holds a party for his eleventh birthday, to which he invites his ten best friends (various animals) to play eleven games and share in a feast that he has prepared. However, at the time they are to eat—11:00—they are startled to find that someone has already eaten all the food. They accuse each other until, finally, they’re left puzzled as to who could have eaten it all.

Throughout the book, the reader is to search for mice. They’re on every page, hidden in the incredible artwork. I used to spend hours searching for the mice and trying to solve the mystery. I want to get my kids this book.

Another book I loved was one I had growing up. It was blue and I’m now wondering if my parents still have it. (Mom? Dad?) It was called The Railway Children. I don’t remember a ton about it, but I do remember reading it over and over and over.

One of my very favorite teachers I ever had was the one I had for grade five. Ms. S would give us a jolly rancher candy if we answered a question right or did a special job for her. I still think of her every time I see a jolly rancher candy. Another thing she did was read to us. She read to us a lot.

My very favorite book Ms. S read us was Where the Red Fern Grows. This is the book I put on my Christmas list a couple years back. I did receive it and I think I finished it before Christmas Day was over. I’ve read it several times since then and it’s on my list of books I want to read to my kids.

The other book Ms. S read us that I still remember was The Brothers Lionheart. I loved it so much I named the cat we got that year after one of the characters — Rusky.

The other prompt from the last couple days that caught my eye was this one: What is the best and/or worst thing about your life right now?

That would be these three little beings who live with me. I’m struggling right now with them, but they’re also the best part of my day.

I wish I had more wisdom for Kaylie when it comes to dealing with her school friends. I also sometimes want to punch her school friends in the face. With a chair. Dealing with a 10-year-old attitude is so not easy and I’m believing my in-laws more and more when they say that the easy part is over. I’m a little scared of what is to come.

At the same time, though, Kaylie is proving herself to be responsible (most of the time), generous (most of the time), and witty (all of the time). We can have actual conversations about real things. We can watch movies (Star Wars) and TV shows (Survivor) that we both enjoy. I see her making big decisions on her own and I am so pleased with her judgment.

Liliana is a challenging individual. She argues and questions everything and has the quickest temper of anyone I have ever met. She refuses to eat most anything except Nutella or peanut butter and jam sandwiches WITH TWO PIECES OF BREAD STUCK TOGETHER NOT TOASTED CUT IN TWO PIECES. Not toasted, mama. Not toasted. She asks so many questions that my head spins. I’m thinking that incessantly-talking four-year-olds should be banned while driving, right along with cell phones.

But, she is always ready with a monkey hug (bear hug) and a kiss on the cheek. She is incredibly friendly and out-going. She makes me laugh multiple times daily. She provides me with much blog/facebook/twitter fodder and my father-in-law with many sermon illustrations. She is very loving and sensitive. She always wants to hear about your day and will not hesitate to let you know when you’re doing something well.

Preston hates sleeping. He’s acting like such a BABY. He’s up 3-5 times during the night and nothing but nursing will put him back to sleep. For the last couple nights, so that everyone gets the maximum amount of sleep, Noah has been sleeping on the couch and I’ve been letting Preston co-sleep more often than I’d like. He’s also been skipping his naps lately. Dude just loves being AWAKE and ALIVE and oh hey, are you eating something? GIMME SOME OF IT.

He’s such a funny little guy. He tilts his head to the side to get you to play with him. He yells to make himself heard over his sisters. He thinks his sisters are the most hilarious beings on the planet. He amazes me with new tricks every single day. He has the most mischievous knowing grin. He has the most wonderful red hair I have ever seen.

What is the best (or worst) part of your life right now?

I’m taking part in a blogging group called Reverb Broads that will be suggesting daily blogging prompts this December. If you want to join in, feel free! Go here or here to learn more.

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  • Jo Thursday, December 15, 2011, 7:48 am

    A thought about many Christmas presents…….When my guys were little they were really into lego and a few other things. So, to make sure they received the set/thing they wanted for Christmas, we had a family shopping day. The boys had to make a list – they were given store flyers and a budget, so spent quite some time doing this. Off we went to the store, where they picked up what they wanted. If they saw something else/better, they would have to choose between the items on the list or a substitute, but they could not exceed the budget. Almost always they stuck to their list.

    While they knew exactly what they were getting for Christmas, they were only allowed to open one gift a day. They would literally spend hours laying on the floor by the tree, looking and touching the wrapped gifts and planning what they would open first, etc.

    We found this resolved many issues; first they got exactly what they wanted, second they actually played with the one item rather than rip everything open and ignore most of it and third they learned how to budget and plan.

    They were probably about 3 and 5 or 4 and 6 when this ‘tradition’ started and it continued for about 5 years or so, until our family situation changed.

  • Angella Thursday, December 15, 2011, 8:29 am

    Worst part? Read my last post. Best part? Christmas break starts next week!

    (Loved this post, bee tee dub.)

  • Sonja Thursday, December 15, 2011, 6:49 pm

    I loved the Brothers Lionheart so much as a child (tween?) that I read them to the 4th-graders during my student teaching. Fun times. :)

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