7 Quick Takes: The One with a New Year’s Christmas

Each week I post seven “quick takes” of things on my mind. Topics are typically related to our family happenings or things I’m into right now.

  1. We spent New Year’s Eve with Andy’s family. It’s become a tradition to play games and eat party food together to ring in the new year. There’s something about that particular holiday that feels so laid back, and I love it. We had a great time. Aria enjoyed it at least as much as Andy and I, because she got to spend the entire night playing with her cousins. We got around and went home as soon as midnight hit, because we had a big day planned for the first. Also because we had a two-year-old and a six-month-old out past midnight.
  2. We slept in a bit on the first, then packed the kids up and went back to Andy’s parents’ for our Christmas celebration. We had a lovely brunch, then opened gifts. It was really fun, and we all gave and received nice things. Aria was pleased with her toys (she’s generally pleased with things, really), and had a blast playing with her cousins again. Toward the end of the day things got a bit rough, because the kids were overly-tired. But then our family and Aria’s idolized cousin, Emma, were the last to leave. Once everyone else was gone, the girls sat, all by themselves, in the living room in a shared chair and played separately and very quietly next to each other. It was precious.
  3. I cannot believe I am back to work already! I had eight days off, and they flew past. Before the Christmas vacation each year, I feel as though the things I need to tackle in the new year are so far off, and then Рbam! Рthey hit incredibly quickly.
  4. I’ll probably spend most of the next week or so planning this year – work, blog, and personal. I would have liked to do most of that before January, but I didn’t get to it. I love to plan, so starting the year with some serious brainstorming and organizing sessions doesn’t bother me a bit.
  5. You might recall that I set a goal to read 60 books in 2013, then did so by August (what?!). So I set a new goal to read 80 books before the end of the year…and missed it by two. I didn’t try incredibly hard, though, I’ve gotta say. I’m sure I could have gotten two more books in, but I was already feeling plenty self-satisfied. ūüėČ So, I read 78 books this year. You can see the list here. I also read approximately five board books each day (though it was not five¬†different board books each day, of course). It was a good year reading-wise, both in number (not really that important, just fun), and content. I wrote a wrap-up post about content here. Also, I finished¬†The Thirteenth Tale after I wrote that post. It was a fantastic novel. I read every line, every word, and that’s unusual for me in a novel. I’m known to skim paragraphs if I lose interest, and I didn’t do that with this book.
  6. I am starting some significant new endeavors this year, which you will probably read a lot about on the blog. Three words: house, diet, work. I’ll write in detail in the next week or two.
  7. I am enjoying watching the kids play with their new toys. Aria has such an inquisitive, organized mind, and it’s a joy to watch her play. I am telling you, this thing where she’s two is fantastic so far. I anticipate a great year with her. Overall, Noah is increasingly interested in playing with things. At the moment he is teething, so he mostly just chews on everything. In fact, yesterday I was holding him close because he was fussy, and he turned his face in toward my arm…and bit. That was a first for me. I yelped, which resulted in him crying pretty hard. Anyhoo, he’s thisclose to several new skills, including mobility and sitting on his own, that will increase his interactions with toys. I’m looking forward to it!

7 Quick Takes: Aria’s Birthday & Christmas

Aria's Bday & Cmas 2013 ~ Plumfield DreamsEach week I post seven “quick takes” of things on my mind. Topics are typically related to our family happenings or things I’m into right now.

  1. Mom, Sister, and I took the kids to Holiday Pops last weekend. Noah was fascinated. He alternately watched closely and napped – a pretty good way to approach the thing, I thought. Aria enjoyed it, but didn’t stay interested consistently. I didn’t expect her to, though. That would be a bit much for a not-quite-two-year-old.
  2. Speaking of which, she’s two now. We had a lovely little birthday party for her with our immediate family on the day (Christmas Eve). She thoroughly enjoyed herself, and is loving her presents. It was a good celebration of her, and we welcomed her third year of life (I got that right, family) by praying over her. That evening we had one of her current favorite meals, pot roast, then opened our Christmas Eve box – a new Christmas movie, a Christmas book, and PJs for both kids. We dressed in our PJs and settled in for the movie (which Aria would typically have been interested in, but she’d had cake, so…) and then the book before bed.
  3. Christmas morning we spent at home. Aria awoke to a kitchen playset by the tree, and she played with it a bit while Andy and I finished up breakfast prep. We had a beautiful breakfast of gluten-free, dairy-free banana pancakes; turkey and egg muffins; and fancy potato bites. We ate to candlelight, and it was quite lovely. Then we opened presents, got everything cleaned up, and went to my parents’ house for the remainder of the day. It was a wonderful day with my family. A couple of the men went out in the afternoon to commemorate the troops’ Christmas in Bastogne with a ceremonial shoot. The rest of us stayed home and played this game, one of my Christmas presents.
  4. I already have most of our decorations down. I don’t typically remove them this quickly, but this year I’m anxious to get the house cleaned up, and to be in a position to trade rooms with Aria. Also, our Christmas tree is rapidly dying, and I’d rather it were out of the house before it gets to the Charlie-Brown-tree point.
  5. I recently purchased an ebook bundle that included a several-month subscription to a meal planning site called Plan to Eat. We’re finding it quite useful thus far, and will likely continue our subscription once the preview time is up. It doesn’t yet have an app version, unfortunately, but it still works well on the iPad (within the browser).
  6. I had the stitches in my face removed early on the 26th. It was a quick and painless process. I’m glad to have them gone. The doctor wants a couple of follow-ups to make sure it’s healing properly, but so far, so good. Apparently it will take a few weeks for the swelling and redness to reduce. It was nice to go to the appointment by myself. I even got a few minutes to read.
  7. We have more Christmas celebrations yet to come. We were supposed to get together with my aunt and uncle this weekend, but sadly they are both sick. Hopefully we can reschedule soon. We’re “having Christmas” with Andy’s family on New Year’s Day. The plan is to have brunch and presents. We’ll probably spend most of the day together. I’m looking forward to it.

Christmas Gifts for the Whole Family

Christmas Gifts for the Whole Family ~ Plumfield Dreams{This post contains affiliate links}

When I was growing up we often received a family gift from Santa. It was always something we would enjoy together, and we would often put it to use Christmas afternoon.

The gift was given as part of our pickle tradition (yep, you read that correctly), and that’s the tradition we plan to continue with our family. Our kids aren’t old enough yet, though, so we’ll have to work our way up to it. This year I don’t know that we will buy a family gift for ourselves, but we have requested a membership to the zoo.

Memberships ~ This is a great one to get for another family you love. Memberships might be for zoos, state parks, museums, pools, or amusement parks. You could also purchase tickets for a sporting event or a show (or season tickets, if you’re made of money). Our local orchestra does family concerts, pops concerts, and classical concerts. There are many other arts organizations in the area, as well, including more than one venue for musical theatre.

Board Games ~ This is a big one in our family. We love to play games. We all have our favorite type, of course. Personally, I LOVE trivia games. I don’t particularly care whether I know the answer, I just find trivia fun. There are many different types of games – trivia, strategy, chance, word games. Pretty much anything you might enjoy. There’s even a game called Pass the Pigs, which is ridiculous and pointless, and that’s its charm.

Here are some of our family favorites:

(We just tried this version of Trivial Pursuit, and it’s nice if you don’t have a long time to play, or you have players slightly uncomfortable with trivia games You can earn a pie piece every play, and can even ask another player to help you answer the question.)

Movies ~ Some families have regular movie nights. We didn’t watch a ton of films together, but we had a few things we always loved. We watched several documentaries and war films, and a few years our family gift was a Veggie Tales video. (What? You don’t think those things go together?) When we kids were all older we loved the Lord of the Rings films. We also watched Masterpiece Mystery and British comedies on PBS as a family (Vicar and As Time Goes By are my favorites…but don’t buy them for me, ’cause we already own them). Anyway, the point is each family has their own culture, and it can be fun to find something unique to them.

Books ~ I’m pretty sure everyone knows how good reading aloud is for the developing brain. It’s also great for family bonding. I always enjoyed hearing Winnie-the-Pooh and The Tales of Beatrix Potter as a kid. Any good story can be read aloud, so this is another area where the family culture is important. What type of stories are your recipients most likely to prefer? Do you know of something new you can introduce them to?

Outdoor Games ~ Whether or not a family is particularly athletic, lawn games make great gifts for the whole family. A couple of perennial favorites are croquet and cornhole (or horseshoes).

Support Their Hobbies ~ Andy and I both enjoy cooking. That means our kids are going to grow up learning cooking is ¬†an enjoyable activity to prioritize. For us, something that supports that activity would be a good gift. Perhaps you have friends who particularly enjoy exercising together, or who like to make music or art as a family. Many families have a “thing” you can thoughtfully encourage through a gift.

What is your favorite family gift you’ve ever given or received?