Since we’re in the gift giving season, I thought it would be fun to mention a fun gift we received for Christmas last year. Steve’s brother gave us an experience for Christmas – a family trip to the aquarium.
We tucked that gift away until we thought Briggs was old enough to enjoy it and not make us rush through it – we went this fall and had a great time. We took our time wandering from exhibit to exhibit taking most time at the sting ray station where the kids could touch them as they swam by. There were hands-on exhibits and movies to watch. Things to crawl on and under. We all learned a lot.
And the best part about it – it was a gift. A gift we enjoyed as a family long after the Christmas tree had been taken down. We’re big fans of experiences as gifts, especially for birthdays – but Christmas gifts can be experiences too. Plus it’s one less toy you’ll have to donate down the road!
What’s the best experience gift you’ve received?
I think it’s a universal joke that kids often prefer the box that the toy came in more than the toy itself. What could possibly be better than a box you ask? Well a box filled with packing peanuts of course!
And since I’m the mean mom that refuses to let my kids play with the packing peanuts because heaven knows it makes a royal mess – the next best thing is a box filled with packing bubbles. (thank you to whoever invented an alternative to the peanuts – bless you!).
In which I fully support they dance and jump all over those bubbles and make as loud of noise as they can muster with their little jump. And when companies repeatedly send the wrong product you tend to have more than enough packing bubbles to go around!! Just keep jumping…
Thanksgiving and the Turkey Trot go hand-in-hand in our family. Steve’s brother (and friends) started a little neighborhood turkey trot years ago to raise money for local charities. What started as a neighborhood gathering has grown to so much more. They’ve outgrown the neighborhood retention basin and the last couple years have been held at a local mall. It takes a lot of coordination and a lot of service hours to pull this off and I’m always impressed with how many people jump in to help.
There’s the evening before registration and packet pickup – last year Hallie joined me to help – this year Hallie was still in school so Hunter joined me and helped at registration.
The morning of there’s lots of last minute to-dos. The roads are blocked off – food/water is picked up and fruit is cut – more registration takes place – signage is distributed and hung – sound system is checked – backdrop/stage is set up and then months of planning culminates in the firing of a cannon at the start line.
And we run/walk to support local kids who get food in their backpack for the weekend as well as a charity near and dear to our family – Families Fighting Blindness. We run for our niece who is losing her vision and other kids just like her who are hoping for a cure. We run with family and friends and complete strangers and it’s really quite amazing.
I sat at the finish line for a while photographing runners as the crossed the line and as I saw families running and crossing together I got a little emotional – I love that Thanksgiving brings people together. I loved seeing families helping and pushing each other along and laughing and joking in the process. I loved watching dads push kids in strollers and moms running behind their young independent runners. The atmosphere was joyful and unified. Such a great way to start out our morning (although exhausting in the same breath).
After clean up was complete, we made our way home and prepped for lunch with family. Steve decided to have a little taste test while the turkey was being carved. He approved! 😉
The afternoon was spent in the backyard playing football – exactly as it should be in Steve’s perfect Thanksgiving world! I’m not sure who was happier about playing so long – Steve or Hunter. They stayed outside until the sun went down and you could no longer see the ball.
It was a really good day. I could hardly keep my eyes open at 9pm (which is highly unusual for me) but it was just as good as I had hoped.
Briggs has hit a silly stage. Every picture has become a goofball pose and the more his siblings laugh the more he just hams it up. Sometimes he’s winking, other times he’s doing funny poses with his hands and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get a good shot of him. More candids (when he doesn’t know I’m shooting) is going to be my game plan. Luckily – we’ve got plenty of pictures to remember this fun stage! We’ve got a mini-Bennett on our hands.
I swore I would never do it – but yes – we were that family visiting Santa before Thanksgiving at the Bass Pro Shop. In an effort to make December a little more peaceful and less scheduled – we are working to free up our month just a little bit. We tend to shove so many things in one month because it’s tradition and it’s the holidays. But it makes every thing feel so rushed. So we’re picking apart the month and figuring out what can take place in November and even January which will hopefully give us a little more time to live in the moment. So we went to see Santa early this year – and as you can imagine, the kids weren’t complaining! For the first time since we’ve had kids – we didn’t have one child afraid to see the jolly old man, just excitement and anticipation.
We figured going on a Tuesday night before Thanksgiving, we could avoid some crowds. And although it wasn’t packed like we’ve seen it before – it was still busy – we weren’t the only ones with this genius idea. But the problem is, we had a window of time before Steve had a meeting. We showed up and they were handing out tickets for a later time slot than we could stay. We were a little bummed, but we figured we’d just come another time, we’ve done this gig before and have arrived several times where no slots were available.
As we were getting ready to turn and walk away someone tapped us on the shoulder and asked if we wanted their time session that was starting right then. Seriously?! Steve and I looked at each other is disbelief that it was going to work out after all. It was such a simple act of kindness of this stranger but we were beyond appreciative. It makes me want to go early one day and collect some tickets and then show up later and hand them out and make someone’s day. It made our day!
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