Blog, christmas, holidays

Christmas Leftovers


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Before everyone completely moves on from Christmas, I just wanted to share a few photos from the Christmas season and Christmas morning! I’ve also had a few people ask how we do gifts in our family so I’ll share about that as well! But first, matching jammies! I promise, we’ll back off the jammies a bit now that the Christmas season is over. But I can’t promise that you’re completely done seeing them because I love them so much.

Also, our virtual family Christmas card! Because for the past couple of years, I haven’t gotten my act together early enough to have cards made and mailed in time! For these pictures, we just set up a tripod and use our remote to take a billion pictures. We misplaced our remote somehow while taking some of the Clem on the Shelf pictures so we ordered another one because I love this thing so much (and it’s such a good price!) This is how we take all of our family photos…unless otherwise credited. There’s no way this pregnant body is going to run back and forth for a self timed photo.

The last sleeping picture of Clementine in our room! That’s right..after nearly 15 months in our room, Clementine has moved up to Evangeline’s room! We struggled to find a way to fit a bed and a crib in that room but I think we found at least a temporary situation until Clementine is big enough to move out of the crib! I’m going to miss walking by her bed daily during naptime and bedtime to see her sweet sleeping self. But it’ll be nice to have our own room for the next 6.5 weeks haha.

I had been so excited to put Clementine in her Christmas dress for Christmas Eve church. It’s one of my favorite dresses that I bought when Evangeline was a baby! But that’s about the time that sickness started creeping into our house so I had Don stay home with a few kids, including Clementine, instead of sharing our germs with everyone at church. However, that didn’t stop me from getting a picture of the girls in their coordinating outfits! The boys weren’t interested in getting a picture so I didn’t include them 😉

Christmas morning!! Like I mentioned in my last post, this was the first Christmas morning that Don had gotten to spend awake with us so we were all so excited to start new traditions. I grew up eating biscuits and gravy on Christmas morning so we continued that tradition this year..along with some cinnamon rolls. Next year we may try something else but for this year, it was perfect!

I had envisioned everyone wearing their Christmas jammies to bed on Christmas Eve and wearing them as we opened gifts on Christmas morning. But half my kids ended up sleeping in the clothes they wore the night before and I just didn’t care at that point. Oh well. Maybe next year!

I have gotten some comments and messages on Instagram from people asking how we do gifts at our house. The simple answer is that we haven’t quite figured it out yet. I know a lot of people have different systems (budgets, number of gifts, etc) but we really don’t have much of a system at all. We had considered doing the 4 gift method–something they need, want, wear, and to read. But when I was thinking through, I realized that didn’t work out as much for us.

Clothes are something we pretty constantly need. So on Black Friday, I stocked up on some sales at Old Navy and just wrapped them up as gifts. These are the types of things that they needed anyway, but I just used it as a gift opportunity. Of course that wouldn’t be a very exciting Christmas if that was all they got. But we also don’t want to be bogged down with more stuff. So the rest of their gifts, even though they may have been addressed to a specific kid, were more like group gifts.

The boys got some games and crafts that we can do as a family. Liam was really excited about the games we got him because those were pretty much the only things he asked for for Christmas this year.

The younger kids got a bunch of kitchen items that we had gotten for their play kitchen (that they will be getting from their Grandpa next week!) These kids steal my kitchen stuff all the time so I thought this would be perfect. And I was so right! All 6 of them have been obsessed with it all. I got them some play pots and pans from Ikea. I also bought some of the real utensils there because they were actually cheaper than the play ones. And I have been picking up some wooden/felt foods from the Target dollar spot when I see them.

They have no idea why we now have a basket full of kitchen items (they got more from their other grandparents) but they haven’t even questioned it. I’m so excited for them to get the kitchen next week!

 

Also, clearance costumes after Halloween! I picked up a costume for each of them when Target had their Halloween items clearanced at 90% off! Those ended up being between $1-3 each. They love to dress up throughout the year and they were all so excited to add to our collection. This picture of Desmond with his new llama costume is my favorite thing ever. I’m pretty sure he thought it was just a giant stuffed animal haha. But he has loved running around in it!

And Kai’s obsession with pigs continues. All he asked for this year was books so this book was perfect and his reaction is priceless!

We decided when Liam (our oldest) was a baby that we were not going to do the whole Santa thing. We treat him as a fun fictional character that comes around at Christmas time. But he doesn’t bring gifts for the kids and they know he is not a real person. Although, after watching the “Santa Clause” movies, I’m pretty sure a couple of the kids are thoroughly confused haha. I know it’s a personal decision for every family so we try to make sure our kids don’t ruin it for other families. But for us, this is how we wanted to do things. (And don’t worry, they still think Christmas is plenty magical 😉 )

While we don’t really keep track of what we’re spending (I know, that’s horrible!) we do try to be wise with the amount we’re spending. I shop sales and clearance and end up saving a lot of money. And we try to be mindful of what we’re bringing into the house. Meaning that I really try to think of things that will remain an interest long term and that will get a lot of use. I also like to find things for them to play/do together.

In the future, I think I would like to develop a better system. But so far this has worked pretty well for us and I don’t feel like it has been a financial strain. They kind of each get one or two “bigger” items (in the $10-20 range) and then some smaller things that I was able to pick up at a very low cost.

After we got done opening presents, the kids put on some of their new clothes (minus Kai, who didn’t end up getting any new shirts) and we went to my Dad’s house to spend the day while Don was working. I’m dreaming of next year and HOPING that Don will get to spend the entire holiday with us. I’m so thankful that he got to spend the morning with us this year but I have to admit that it was hard to have to send him away for the rest of the day.

And the next day is when everyone started to get hit with fevers. Coughs have now spread to everyone except Don. So we’re looking at the possibility of spending New Years at home this year. Don works until 11pm on New Years Eve so even though I would be a little let down to miss out on the party we go to every year (with our church friends,) I am starting to think that it sounds nice to put the little ones to bed and just stay up with the big kids, playing games and making crafts until the clock strikes midnight. But we’ll see how everyone is doing tomorrow.

How about you guys? Does anyone have a system for gifting in your family? I’m thinking about doing a gift exchange between the kids next year and letting each kid pick out a gift (with a price limit) for one of their siblings. I still have a while to think about that 😉 But I’d love to hear how other families do it!

Have a great weekend and Happy New Year!!

Blog, christmas, Family, holidays, kids

Clem on the Shelf


I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas! Don has worked nights (holidays included) since our 7 year old was born so it’s been that long since he has spent a Christmas morning awake with us. He switched to the day shift last year right after Christmas so this was the first time he was able to spend Christmas morning with us. We were very excited to be able to start new traditions this year!

Unfortunately, yesterday all of our kids started getting sick. We’ve had 6 kids with coughs, 3 with fevers, 2 close to having a fever….and a partridge in a pear tree 😉 So we’ve had to reschedule our last Christmas gathering with Don’s family while we keep our germs at home and try to clean up the toy tornado left behind from Christmas day.

Anyway, over the past few weeks, I’ve been posting pictures as a part of a little photo series on my Instagram under the hashtag #clemontheshelf so I wanted to share them all here, along with sharing a bit about them.

Last year we had taken a picture of Clementine as a tiny little baby on our mantle and deemed it our “Clem on the Shelf” (you can see that picture HERE.) I’m sure you’re fully aware what an Elf on the Shelf is. While we don’t actually do the whole elf thing, we did have a lot of fun setting up these pictures of Clementine.

The first picture idea came to me while I was out running errands one day. I called Don (I hate talking on the phone so this must have been really important in my mind haha) and told him the whole idea I had for a picture. I am pretty sure I had more confidence in his photoshop skills than he did but he agreed that it sounded like a good idea.

By the time we were done talking about all the ideas with the first picture, I decided that I wanted to do a little mini series and already had multiple ideas floating through my mind. I knew they all obviously had to include our Clem on the Shelf. But I also wanted to incorporate our letterboard to help with the storyline of each photo.

With each photo, we would photograph Clementine separately and Don would photoshop her in later. He is actually currently working on a guest blog post to share a little behind the scenes look at how he did it. It isn’t exactly a tutorial but it does explain his process and what he learned through doing all these photos. I can see how his skills improved over the course of the past few weeks just from playing around and watching tutorials.

What I think is really neat is that some of these pictures are actually 3-5 pictures all layered together to make the final edit. It’s kind of amazing what goes into making one “simple” picture.

I think the best part about this project was working together with my husband to come up with the ideas. I usually pitched an idea and then we’d toss ideas back and forth until we came up with the end result. The hardest part (for me) was coming up with the letterboard quote. I’m pretty sure that with each of the quotes, I would ask Don what we should write and then turn down all of his ideas and just go with something I liked haha. But it still helped to hear his ideas because sometimes it sparked an idea for me.

The kids also had a lot of fun with this project and seeing how it all came together. When it came to the last photo and I wanted to do the reverse setup of our first photo, I was afraid that they would complain about being tied up and duct taped…especially with Desmond, our 2 year old. But they were all giggling and thought it was hilarious. I had a hard time find a photo where Desmond didn’t look too happy.

I think we need to print out a short little photo book with the pictures to set out every Christmas season. I think it’ll be really fun for the kids to look back on and see some of the fun memories we made together.

As for the question of our plans for next year, I do think our elf will be back! But it’s up for debate on if Clem will be taking on the role or if her new baby sister will be taking over. Clementine was actually not the easiest to work with this year. We had to get really creative with how to get her to cooperate (and it involved quite a few mini marshmallows.) But I love how they all turned out!

Now that this project is done, I feel that I have been depleted of all creativity so I’ll have to work to get out of that funk.

Thank you to everyone who followed along with our little series and for all the kind comments! We really had so much fun putting these together so it means so much that other people have enjoyed them too!