Cousin Christmas Gifts: How Do You Roll?

Here’s what I’m pondering today: how does one manage Christmas gifts for cousins in a family that is ever expanding?

My brother and I had a little chat yesterday and we realize we’re on the brink of needing to change our approach (possibly), which is currently: if you are inclined, buy a gift for your nephews and nieces!

Up until now it hasn’t been a big issue. I think what happens is you start buying that first or second little nephew a gift, because there is just one or two of them. But then, you blink and suddenly there are nine and ten babies or kids (or more!). How do you handle that?

Our neighbors the McBrides actually moved their “Sibling Gift Exchange” to a “Cousin Gift Exchange.” Which works great because they have 30+ cousins. In our families (both sides), we’re at a point that if we did a gift exchange with cousins, it would basically mean I still buy a gift for every other cousin and each of them buys a gift for one of my children. So I’m not really overly motivated to change much because frankly, I come out the same either way.

I enjoy buying little gifts for all the cousins, but here is the key: I don’t try to shoot the moon. I tend to grab a nice little book, or a fun little game. Nothing to try and earn “Present of the Year,” but something that lets them know we love them.

So, what about you? Are you in a place in your family where you’ve had to adjust your approach to gift giving? I’d love some ideas! What is a clever way you can include the kids without getting overwhelmed or breaking the bank?

Augie Asks

My boy Augie is fond of asking questions. Not just questions like “hey, why is the sky blue?” or “how long does Mass take?” but really deeeeeep questions that require me to think. Do you have a boy like that? Isn’t it wonderful?

So I told Augie we would do a little weekly feature here, so he could pose his question to you, dear reader, to see if you’d like to answer as well. Or perhaps your child wants to answer. For all the questions I get asked in a day, I always love slowing down, just a bit, to think about what Augie asks.

And so, for our inaugural question:

If you could see any moment in history, what would it be?

Me: Hmmm, well I feel like I should probably say the Crucifixion, even though I really wouldn’t want to see that (full disclosure: I nearly had a panic attack during “The Passion of the Christ.”). For now I’ll say the First Thanksgiving. And I’ll think about it some more…

Augie’s answer: “I think, probably going to a Beatles’ concert, when they were big.”

For All My Mustachioed Friends and Relatives

Quick Takes, Instagram Edition

1. A few weeks ago, I tweeted something about Moosetracks ice-cream being the best in all the land, possibly even the universe. Can I get an amen?

Next thing I know, I got contacted by The Moose! The official mascot of Denali Moosetracks Ice Cream, who thanked me for my loyalty. The Moose ended up sending me an ice cream scoop, which is perfect for the times we have Moosetracks ice cream, which is anytime we have ice cream. To me, writing a post about how Moosetracks is the best is kind of like saying breathing is nice. Could anyone argue with this concept? I can’t imagine.. BUT if there are any folks out there who have never tried Moosetracks, I think it might be worthy of your ice cream night.

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2. For Ethan’s big birthday party that included the entire student body of his (private, very small) high school, we had a big Harvest Party. I made a ton (literally) of chili, a vat of hot chocolate, and two containers of this precious Harvest Mix.

I found this on Pinterest and yes I will admit I totally made this because it was cute. But I also figured it would be there as munchies once all the other food ran out. Score! That is totally how things played out. Because when they are hungry, high schoolers will resort to eating handfuls of Cheeze-Its, Coco-puffs, Reese’s Pieces and pretzel squares. The basic idea is to find anything crunchy in your color scheme, throw it all together and encase in a cute container with pretty ribbon. Voila! FULL DISCLOSURE: we had a half-jar left after the party which the littles munched on for a full week. Very festive!

3. Do you ever have a date night that is just so good you’re still happy about it a few weeks later? Paul and I do a good job of sneaking out for dinner or lunch on a regular basis. But I decided I wanted to have one of those good old-fashioned long dates, one that involved a leisurely dinner AND a movie (which we have not been to in forever). So I asked my parents if they would babysit and they generously said yes. Paul and I had dinner at a local hot-spot (a really nice pub) and then hit James Bond. So fun. We headed out at FIVE, just like the old people we are apparently, and it was perfect to have so much time together and still be home before the middle of the night.

4. Here is Henry’s chart from yesterday’s post. Very simple. The heart of the matter is not how pretty you make your behavior chart. It’s how you follow through with what you say. This chart took about a month, and he earned a $20ish Lego set. It took so long because the more connections the child makes with doing the right thing, the more you aren’t running over for a sticker every single time. Does that make sense? Anyway, thanks for all the emails and comments yesterday. I’m so glad you were encouraged. We are not in this alone. We need to fight the good fight with our kids! You can do it!

5. My Uncle Gary came to visit yesterday after a week of hanging out with his sister, my Aunt Char, one of my all time favorite people. These are two of my mom’s nine siblings, a wild and crazy bunch if ever there was. So Aunt Char used Uncle Gary as a courier service and sent a little care package to our side of the state.

Now I have not written about this in this space because my feelings are very complicated about it, but let’s just say that some people WHO SHALL REMAIN NAMELESS really enjoy Honey Boo Boo Child. Never heard of her? Sniff, sniff. Neither have I.

Oh I’m lying. I have never watched the show, but I have totally caught some Best Of clips in the Internets and I cried and laughed so hard I thought I was going to suffocate.

6. So there’s Honey Boo Boo. In the care package from my Aunt Char was a tiny stuffed pig (what’s that pig’s name? I can’t remember…), along with a recipe for sketti and a few other items. But Aunt Char was speaking my language when she included this, just for me:

7. Oh yes, too good. Why does this young lady need to be such a terrible representation of everything we have worked so hard to move away from as Southerners? I laughed as I sipped my red wine, thanking Henry, who had carried it over from next door. We were all gathering to have dinner over here with Uncle Gary and I had been waiting for them to wander over. I laughed again at the picture, took one more sip of my cabernet, and said to Henry, “go get Gramma enem and tell ’em to git on over.”

Enem, translated, is “and them.” The most Southern of all the words on the market.

Happy Friday! Thanks Jen for hosting!