It’s Okay to Buy Christmas Gifts

 

I feel like, somewhere along the way, people started seeing me as the mother who had it all together. I have been pulled aside, messaged, and flat out called out in front of a crowd for this blatant lie. 

I, in fact, have nothing together more than anyone else. Actually, I gave up having it all together after Veda was born. That baby #5 really rocked me. But, that’s when (more than ever before) people would confront me wanting to know how I could do it all — It’s as if my letting go and giving in to this stage of life really allowed me to relax and become a confident hot mess.

We are always late (or really early); my kids never have on matching socks – or any socks. I swear the crumbs in the van reappear within 38 seconds of me trying to vacuum the freaking thing out.  

All of that to say this: If you do believe that I am doing a good job over here, then know this:

You are allowed to not take your family on a magical trip for Christmas. 

You are allowed to buy them everything on their wishlist (and more). 

You are allowed to stick to the want, need, wear, and read rule.

You are allowed to jet set across the world for Christmas.

You are allowed to spend Christmas on the beach, in the snow, or sleeping under the stars.

You are allowed to make this YOUR family’s Christmas – not someone else’s.

I have focused a lot on why you should consider experiences over all.the.junk. I have written about our own experiences. It is true, my kids did not miss a damn plastic package while we adventured last year – and it was glorious, BUT – BUT – BUT – this year? 

This year, I am buying all.the.gifts.

Why? I’m not exactly sure.  We aren’t doing a big trip – possibly postponing my cross-country winter drive until spring, even. It will be our first Christmas morning in this beautiful house, maybe that’s playing into it?  Maybe it’s just that my oldest will be TEN next year, and there aren’t many ‘Santa Years’ left? Or, maybe, I’m just in the mood to have a big Christmas!

Buying a bunch of presents doesn’t ruin my kids. It doesn’t make me a bad mom. It doesn’t make our family any more ridiculous than we already were. We just live in a society that judges everything.

Guess what? It doesn’t matter my exact reasons – just like it doesn’t matter what you decide. The kicker, though, is that you just need to be happy with whatever you decide! Go big, go little, go outside, travel, bake, sleep… just make sure that you (and your family) are happy this Christmas!

 

32 Fun Christmas Books for Kids

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Sticking with more experience gifts for the holidays, I have read about children opening a new Christmas-themed book every day of December. The idea has been tossed around for a few years, and I have purchased a few books here and there, thinking I would complete the book gifting idea. Somehow, though, I always started collecting the books too late in the season, and I would give up before the second week.

This year, I am determined to be ahead of the Christmas avalanche. I know that fall is just beginning, and I haven’t even planned my Thanksgiving menu, but I’m going to start ordering or searching for great winter/Christmas/family books to add to our home library. 

If you want to jump on the bandwagon, I’ve listed out 30 of our favorite, or soon-to-be-our-favorite books. You can wrap them and set them under the tree. You can set them out on the Thanksgiving Day table to start after dessert. You can stack them next to your child’s bed and let him choose the order he wants to hear them. The options are limitless in how you gift the books, but the memories will be made none-the-less.  

Snuggle up. Grab some hot cocoa. Light the fire. Open a good book. (affiliate links included)

31 Fun Christmas Books for Kids

How to Catch Santa

The Littlest Elf

The Night Before Christmas

The Christmas Wish

Bear Stays Up for Christmas

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Little Blue Truck Christmas

The Polar Express

A Charlie Brown Christmas

The Christmas Sweater

The Snowmen at Christmas

The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree

The Jolly Christmas Postman

Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree

A Wish to be a Christmas Tree

The Spirit of Christmas

River Rose and the Magical Christmas

Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas

I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas

The Tale of Three Trees

Christmas Day in the Morning

Merry Christmas Curious George

Home for Christmas

Charlie and the Christmas Kitty

The Christmas Fox

A Pirate’s 12 Days of Christmas

The Nutcracker

Legend of the Candy Cane

The Sparkle Box

The Story of Holly and Ivy

Apple Tree Christmas

Socks for Santa

Any of your favorites not make my list? What should we add?

I am definitely not opposed to reading two books a day!

The Time I Decided to Donate Half of Our Toys

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I may be drinking wine.

I’ll let you decide.

I am DONE with a basement full of SHIT that is worth $234,957,478,470 – but yet can never be played with because:

a. “Mama, I can’t find all the pieces.”

b. “This part is broken.”

c. “I don’t know what to do” – because there’s too many things to choose from, duh.

d. “This is for babies.”

e. “I can’t find the charger.” One year later, “I still can’t find the charger.”

f. “I don’t like that anymore.”

g. “It’s not fair that we only have one, and Lyle is playing with it! I want one!”

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU*K. No. I am so freaking done.

As you know from following my amazingly non-consistent blog here, I have switched over to ‘experience’ gifts, and we had a KILLER time last year at Christmas in Colorado. But, that means that I didn’t purge ALL.THE.SHIT. before our trip.

Somehow another year has passed before my eyes. Veda is a toddler. Ollie actually grew hair. We’ve *almost* adapted to life in the midwest. But, I still haven’t purged the basement.

(pours wine)

Guess what I’m doing right now?

dun. dun. dun.

Did you see the picture up there? That is what is happening. No. That is not what the basement looked like an hour ago. Everything was in its place…. until I somehow needed to accomplish something. I swear you could see vacuum lines earlier today, but what fun would that picture be? Exactly. I’m here to show you REAL LIFE. So let’s get to work. But, alas, Rome was not built in a day, my friends. After tearing EVERYTHING apart, I laughed at myself and retreated upstairs. I may have overwhelmed myself on day 1.

Time Out: I do have a plan, here. I’m not just drinking and throwing shit out. (Although, that may get it done faster.)

Our ‘Experience Gift’ this year for Christmas is redoing our basement into a ‘big kid’ area from a little kid play room. Yes, this requires buying a ton of age-appropriate crap. We’ll be investing in a sectional couch, smart TV, Xbox, air hockey table, basketball arcade game, and an art/drafting table/craft area for Scarlett. Our family will *hopefully* chip in and fulfill the kids’ wishlists so that John and I can cross off the big items. But a basement overhaul cannot be completed unless the current state of the bottom floor changes.

What have I accomplished thus far? I’ve created a bonfire-worthy pile of kid crap to sort.

We’ll be donating a lot to local charities (The Ronald McDonald House, shelters, and churches), gifting some to neighbors and friends, and saving anything and everything that will continue to be loved by our little ones. Yes, we will still have a lot of stuff, but, with my new layout, I’m hoping to keep things better organized.

The best part of everything is that none of the kids are fighting me. They are actively wanting this change.

So cheers to moving forward in this parenting journey. Instead of having a play room centered around a play kitchen, we will soon have a game room with a corner play kitchen. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t crazy happy about giving my big kids a place where they feel big-a place that their friends will love, too.

 

When a Friend Goes Quiet.

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Sometimes a friend goes quiet. Sometimes you wonder why. Sometimes you write it off and let them be… because, who are you to reach out? Maybe they just want to be alone.

Reach out. Always reach out.

In this society of loneliness, mixed in with the demands of adulthood (and parenthood), it can be easy for a friend to withdraw from life for awhile. But, in these moments is when friendship is needed the most.

My Quiet

When skies turned gray and smiles frowned,

I felt as though we’d been drowned.

Seasons changed, but all stayed sick. 

We came to learn it was a tick…

Or was it really, after all?

That pushed us down and made us fall? 

Unexplained aches, pains, and tears.

My worries turned into true fears.

Doctors said, “We’re not sure, more tests.”

Then we learned: An Autoimmune Mess.

Now we start the road to heal

And hope that someday soon we feel – 

Sunshine in our souls again…

We’ve lost count of how long it’s been.

 

Hello, Dear Friends, Hello.

I am sorry for the long pause in my words here. It has been a long season of life here, and although, I would love to analyze every detail with you, I am exhausted by the thought. Perhaps, someday I will. And, perhaps, I will not. Either is okay.

I can say this, I am beyond thankful for our lifestyle and our strong immune systems. I am grateful for our choices, as this mess could have been – or would be – extremely worse than it currently is. Doctors are amazed at our overall health, and now that we have figured out underlying autoimmune issues, we should hopefully begin to feel normal again soon. With the help of a healing center here, we are all on tinctures and herbs that are (fingers crossed) killing off co-infections. Everyone is sleeping a lot; sugar, dairy, and anything processed is a no-go. But we have smiles that last longer than a few hours, finally.

As a mom, I have been a blubbery mess. I’ve watched my husband suffer from Lymes Disease this summer, and we learned that it is most likely the root of my son’s lifelong issues we’ve always been puzzled by. After many – many tests, we have unlocked autoimmune answers that connect all of us. It was finally time for me to stop ignoring my own underlying issues, too.

Motherhood is hard. I am giving my all, 200% of the time. But, this has knocked me on my ass, and I have significantly readjusted our lives. I am grateful that we had already slowed down, but now we are focused on happiness and health within each day.

I did, however, go quiet. I stopped texting. I stopped posting. I stopped doing anything more than working and going to doctors or keeping kids alive each day. I am so blessed to have an amazing cross-country friend who is living this same life out, and together we have laughed and cried. But, I have come to realize that our world today is severely lacking in real life connections.

This can be blamed on moving and living away from so many loved ones, of course. But, in all honesty, it is the state of our society.

It is easier to forget about a friend than it is to reach out to one.

We are all guilty. We all get caught up in our own lives. But, taking a few extra moments to harvest our true friendships may save our society, and model for our children what is truly important in life.

This experience has opened my eyes to many things. One being that I will protect ‘My Bubble” – my family – above all. Another being: it is time to purge… detox, if you will. Toxic elements of life can be let go of. Social media can be ignored. But, true friendships should be strengthened.

Pick up the phone and reconnect with someone. Sit down and share lunch. Bring a neighbor a bottle of wine. Let’s dig deeper than surface level. Let’s get to know one another.

 

 

The Year Without Travel

I never thought I would see a calendar be flipped, month after month, without a significant chunk of time blocked off for a trip.

Those of you who know me, know my love of road-tripping with my kids.  I have rarely let more than a few months pass by without a crazy trip on the books. But here I sit, the calendar crossed out through more than eight months of the year, and I just don’t know where the days have gone.

While I am planning an epic cross-country trip for the kids and I this winter, it does not happen until 2019. It will be a large portion of our family’s Christmas gifts this year. And yes, I have started planning minor details of the trip, I haven’t started really getting after it, and that’s ok.

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated here, and while I can give you 10,000 excuses of raising five humans, working, and all.the.things. The truth is that most of this year was needed to put myself back together. I know that I technically was not injured, but I feel as though I was in a fog of survival. There was no way I was capable of keeping five young humans alive in a car for weeks on end.

And survive I did.

I almost didn’t share this little post with you. I figured it was minute and worthless.

I was wrong.

There is no shame in my inability to conquer the world.

There is no shame in NOT traveling.

You know what I did do this year?

I rebalanced my life. I made it through postpartum baby blues. I celebrated small milestones. I snuggled my last baby every possible moment.

I DID NOT RUSH.

I DID NOT OVER PLAN.

I regained my happiness.

I’m telling you this so that you know it is okay to take a break and get your shit (back) together.

I’m still hoping to sneak in a getaway before the new year, but I don’t feel the pressure to make it happen. And that is a good feeling.

me

 

 

 

 

When Here Became Home.

We have parted with multiple houses, cities, and states over the last decade. Some places have been harder to leave than others – with many being shorter stops along the map of our lives. We left our hearts in Virginia just over a year ago. I knew that I would move on but couldn’t see passed my love of everything there; not to mention, the amazing road trip situation I had going on throughout the entire coastline.

One year later, I am here to put the words into the world. These words that I knew would come but just couldn’t imagine writing through the first 8-10 months in Omaha.

“We are home.”

Home is wherever we are together, of course. This much you all know about our traveling family.

In the past month, I have made more friends, joined an amazing yoga studio (hello newest friends!), and found peace with our schedule here. We found an incredible therapist for my oldest son’s apraxia speech disorder; my oldest daughter’s swim and girl scout friends have become her ‘total bffs’ (her words, not mine). I am watching my kids blossom here. They are becoming fiercely independent and proving that our attachment parenting paid off. We can trust them with a walkie talkie and bikes throughout the neighborhood, full day trips with friends, and with more responsibilities at home.

Needless to say, the kids are loving life in the Midwest. Are they over the cold? Yes. Are they happy? Hell yes.

I knew my mindset was shifting as I started planning this year’s house projects. It went from being, “best bang for the buck” to “I can’t wait to make this everything I dream.”

Maybe my baby #5 funk is gone. Maybe it’s just that the kids are all healthy and adapting. Maybe it’s that I can look out my window and see a spectacular sunset every night. Maybe it’s the yoga.

Whatever it is, I am finally happy here.

My words of advice for today:

Let time pass. Let life play out. What you feel today is valid today, but what feelings 100 tomorrows may bring you won’t be known unless you let tomorrow become today – mentally, physically, and spiritually.

5 Reasons Yoga and Motherhood Mix

If you are my real life friend, you are probably sick of me talking about my yoga obsession right now, but I’m not done yet – now I’m on a mission to spread the yoga love.

I have a ton of kids. Not a physical ton, although, they may eat an actual ton of food throughout a year. These small humans are all-consuming. If you are a mom, you get this. You don’t have to have an entire gaggle of tiny beings in your personal space, even one is enough to lose yourself.

I have trained for and ran marathons during my motherhood journey. I have worked out regularly at gyms and at home. I have taught workout classes for other moms – hell, I even had my own mommy bootcamp business for several years.

I drink wine. I read books. I plan awesome trips. I thought I was filling my cup, and I was, but I was trying too hard.

Here’s the thing though, my mind is always going. While working out does save my sanity, I am still running through the lists of motherhood as I get sweaty. Not every time, but a lot of the time.

Instead of intentionally filling your cup, you can lead a life that constantly keeps you happy. This means your cup is actually never empty. Choose happiness. Choose a life that you want to be present in.

Insert yoga here.

I have done yoga here and there over the years, but never consistently. I actually laughed at Yogis who said the practice was part of their lifestyle. I take it all back. I have basically moved into my yoga studio. I have attended classes 20 out of the last 24 days – most of the times were at the absurd 5:30am hour.

Why would I willingly roll out of bed at such a ridiculous hour? Simple, I get to be alone.

Everyone is asleep, and John can handle any little ones who wake up. Everyone is take care of for the time I am gone. I get sweaty, centered, and focused – oh, and happy – and then return home to a house that is still *mostly asleep (*minus John walking out of the door for work, and at least one child awake and hungry). I make tea, change the laundry over, open my computer to work, and take a quick shower before sitting down to write. My mind is clear; my patience is renewed.

This is what I want other mothers to know about yoga:

It Makes You a Better Mom

Patience, breathing, and peace are all contagious. Learning to fill your entire lungs and release that breath can reach each point of the body and mind. It is amazing what taking the time to breathe can do for you and your children.

It Grounds You to the Earth

Completing moon salutations and series of flows that connect you to the seasons and life springing around you can open your senses to the earth. You don’t have to be good. It will be your own journey, each day different than the one before, but your practice will bring you closer to the world we live on.

It Keeps You Present

My studio harps on the mantra “Wherever you are, be all there.” I have found myself skipping social media and leaving my phone in another room. I have spent the weekends not opening the computer unless work must be completed. The TV has been off, and we have chosen music and hands-on activities instead.

It Makes You Less Judgmental

Everyone can do yoga. Sharing the energy inside that room reminds you that everyone is on their own journey – just as each parent is on her (or his) own path of parenthood. Finding contentment within your yoga practice – and within your life allows you to be happy for others instead of jealous or spiteful. We need more of this in our society.

It Helps Your Health

Including yoga in your exercise routine alongside of other activities or done daily provides the body with more benefits that I can list here. Learning to listen to your body will easily transition you into a healthier lifestyle all around.

If you can find a yoga studio that offers kid classes, grab your tribe and head over to try it out. My 4, 6, and 8 year olds attend classe and absolutely love it. It’s also fun to watch them utilize the mantras and breath into their daily habits. Even John goes after work.

We are all in love with yoga… and I believe, possibly, that you could fall in love with it too.

What’s there to lose?

(And, in case you were wondering, Goddess Pose is my absolute favorite.)

What Happens When I Find My Way.

As you all know, we have relocated and are still adapting. It has been 11 months and 5 days, and I cannot believe how fast the months are flying off the calendar. After a serious elimination diet, which I’ll be writing about next, the kids all seem to be back to their supremely healthy selves again.

You also know that I have tried embracing the ‘slow life’ and simplicity of the Midwest. That simplicity is what they all pride themselves on here. That simplicity that goes against every Type A fiber of my being. At first, it felt ok. Then, it felt like I could do it. But after an amazing trip back to where we left our hearts (#VirginiaIsForLovers) – I stepped off the airplane and into the DC airport and breathed in the souls of my people. Everyone was going… and going… and no one cared what I was doing. Everyone had their own to-do lists and were checking them off mentally as they smiled and held the door for the person behind them. My soul began singing.

Now, we won’t be returning to Virginia any time soon, and who knows if we ever will (TEARS). But, we will be here – in Omaha – for quite some time, and I am okay with that. In the past year, I have cried, yelled, prayed, cried, searched, found, lost, and re-found myself.  A few things that I have learned:

  1. I like to adapt to my surroundings: Everyone is laid-back here, so I should be too.
  2. I’m not the ‘typical’ midwest homeschool mom: Finding like-minded homeschool friends out here is hard.
  3. I’m not made for negative temperatures: negative temps = $400 gas bills… and no one goes outside when it’s this cold. That being said, I am learning to layer, plan well, and hibernate.
  4. I need to let go of expectations: I don’t need to be surrounded by like-minded homeschooling friends. I’m confident in our lifestyle and education decisions, and ‘my people’ here are being found poolside and in other like areas.
  5. I thrive with more.

This last one brings me to why I am writing today. I have always been a Type A, list-making, more-is-better kind of a person. It’s probably why I have five kids. I know it is why I can homeschool and work from home. But lately, I was pushing this natural yearning away. I was trying so hard to fit the ‘simple’ mold. Not anymore…

The kids’ co-op classes started back up last week. I just signed the oldest two up for 3-days a week (or more) of martial arts, on top of 3-days of swim team with weekend meets for Scarlett, Soccer for Emmett, Scouts for both each week, piano, gymnastics for all, homeschool, and speech for Emmett and Lyle. When I add all of this on top of my love of writing, weekly articles, and other work tasks, errands, home crap, cooking, and kissing boo-boos, I have no idea when I find the time to workout – but I do. I’m with you right now. I have NO CLUE how it all gets done. But THIS MAKES ME HAPPY. Of course, I burn out sometimes, but then I rest and jump back in.

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The saying, “If you want something done, give it to someone who is already busy.” – that was written for me.

So, this is me telling you that you should do you. YOU SHOULD DO YOU. Do not conform to your environment. Make your soul happy. Until you figure out your own groove, you will not be happy with where you are – physically and mentally.

This is all to say that Omaha has grown and is growing on me more each (FREEZING FREAKING COLD) day. I fought it all so hard and tried to change myself to fit here. After letting it all go and listening to my inner self, we are finally thriving here.

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They Don’t Stay Little

I found her reading to her baby sister, and in a captured moment, I found myself staring at both my baby and my little girl.

I’m here instead of on a much-needed vacation with my husband this week. I was so looking forward to being pampered in the mountains at one of the most gorgeous hotels in the country, but I’m with the kids this week instead – and that’s okay.

I was so touched out last week. I spent an entire Saturday avoiding my family and working upstairs just to have alone time. I was counting the moments to escape.

But here I am. I am home, while the husband is away for his work conference. I was a bit sad at first, but as the fire roars, all the children sleep, and the wine flows, I can look back on the last few days and feel like a mother fucking rockstar.

That’s right, I said it. I have rocked 4 days so far, with 2 days more to go. We have homeschooled, attended any indoor activity acceptable for -20 degree temperatures, bickered, and read by the fire.

That last bit is what brings me to this post.

The days don’t hit a rough patch until that mid-evening-I-need-wine hour, and then, when I realize that there will be no backup, and that I have to single-handedly get FIVE babies to sleep.

My babies are my heart. I have always had a hard time envisioning them growing up, but somehow, I have blinked and a few of them have. Scarlett is almost 8 ½ years old. She is reading chapter books and designing her dream clothing boutique. She sells girls scout cookies, checks her teeth every night for cavities, daydreams of unicorns, and loves every color in the rainbow. She also clears the dinner table, rocks the baby, and reads to her until she is asleep. Scarlett is not a baby anymore.

John and I joked last week that our work was basically done; that she is as grown as she is going to get as far as the parenting side goes. From this point on, she will take everything that has been engrained in her and use it to better herself – or make mistakes – whatever (I’m realistic). But taking a step back and watching her step up to help me out while her dad is out of town just blows my mind. Scarlett Ann, our baby girl, is not little anymore.

I write this because I know you may be seeing this in your own home. This tiny being that you created is all of a sudden NOT a baby. She isn’t a toddler or even a little kid – she’s a full grown child. She has her own thoughts and opinions. If you look close enough, you can almost see the future.

Hanging out with my first born is starting to take on a new role. We are and will always be mother and daughter, but we are becoming actual friends. We are sharing stories and ideas. We ask questions and give ridiculous answers. The dynamic of the relationship is growing in new ways, as it should. I just didn’t notice it.

Tonight, I came downstairs after putting the littlest boys to bed and I found Scarlett reading books to Baby Veda. Veda was watching her and giggling like crazy. It’s almost as if I was gifted this tiny window of time in which I had both the baby and the child in the same moment to myself. I remember when Scarlett was as tiny as Veda is now, and I almost cried. But I didn’t. I smiled. It’s time to start the next chapter of life with her. She’s ready, and so am I…

They don’t stay little forever – they blossom and grow and turn into real people…. good people… beautiful, world-changing people.

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Make 2018 the year you stop giving THINGS.

I am a giver. I am a buyer. I am the consumer most stores target.

Scratch that; I WAS the buyer and the spender and the shopper. I am still a giver.

I was born into the role of a shopper, and for the past few years I have battled with myself on how to end the cycle so that my children do not fall victim to our consumer-driven society. Having 5 babies makes buying something quite expensive because it is never just one thing that is bought. But if you only have one child, you can still completely relate to over buying.

In 2017, I made a huge decision to cut Christmas down. It was, no joke, HARD. I actually cried several times. I am assuming now that I was going through holiday withdrawals, which is pretty funny because I’m the one who HATES clutter, plastic crap, and has the entire house stripped down and undecorated within days of Christmas ending. I also need everything to have a place in the house or I will donate it. So, I had this internal minimalist vs consumer battle that lasted months… all the way up until the week of Christmas.

We planned a trip with some of our extended family, and we drove about 10 hours to the mountains. Before even arriving, the kids were cheering that it was the greatest holiday ever – in their entire lives. My heart began to swell and I completely relaxed and gave into the trip. We had 3 feet of snow and a complete white out on Christmas. We partook in mountain activities, and John and I even spent a day snowboarding together. There was an afternoon of bitter-cold snow tubing for the kids, snowball fights, and homecooked food. We read books and played games together, and listened to Papa play the guitar at night.

My computer was in the shop, so I was disconnected for the most part – and it was GLORIOUS.

We did have a few Santa gifts, but nothing outrageous or expensive. The kids opened a game for the Xbox, Barbie dolls, hair chalk, puzzles, and a few other small items – WHICH THEY FLIPPED OUT OVER.

In the past, this reaction would have only lasted until the next present was opened, with the previous 30 tossed behind them… at the end, they would say, “Are there any more to open?”  There were meltdowns and lost pieces, trash everywhere, and too much money spent.  But this year? The money was spent in exactly the right places.

My kids are still playing with their few items from us a week after Christmas, and if they are done playing with them in a month or so, I won’t lose my shit because I didn’t overspend on any of it.

What We Learned

Gifts should not include clothes, shoes, toothbrushes, and other things that the kids need. Those should be purchased when the needs arise. Gifts should simply be a few of the items that will make them so incredibly happy. That’s it.

An experience tops the charts when it comes to the magic and spirit of the season. It can be as expensive as you make it, but you can request family gifts be giftcards to be used on the trip. My kids received one from a set of grandparents and had a blast shopping at the mountain gift shop for sweatshirts and hats!

Become a Non-Things Giver

So here is my plea to you. Decide NOW – in January to make a change. It will be a struggle. It will suck when the sale e-mails start coming, but decide now to let go of all of the THINGS. You don’t need to know where you will go or what experience you will give, that can be pondered about for awhile. You may want to invite friends or extended family; you may want to go just with your kids; you may want to host a smaller Christmas at home and then head out for New Year’s on the road (or in the air!). The key is to make sure that the experience or trip is not far away. Kids will not understand that.

I loved having the kids help plan this entire trip. They knew they would only be getting a few things, and we built the trip up for about a month before going. But next year, we may change things up and surprise them with a trip. (Although packing for a family of seven can’t be done secretly… or can it??)

I’d also love to hear how you plan to leave the things behind throughout the year.  We are planning trips for birthdays throughout 2018, vacations in the summer and camping in the fall, and I haven’t been to Target in 6 weeks. (SIX WEEKS) Nor have I ordered anything on Amazon in 4 weeks… but I’d rather order one thing online than be tempted by the entire store and screaming children.

Go ahead and take the plunge. It sure as hell feels good to not have holiday guilt (or spending guilt) hanging over me this January!