Holidays,  Lifestyle

Kemper Christmas 2018

Can it really be over? Could all the excitement and build-up really be done already? Got an extra week and it still went too fast!

On a Hallmark movie this year, one of my favorites, Lacey Chabert, said something like, “I think December 26th is the saddest day of the year.” Preach mama! I’m with you! Every time I go to light up my tree, I think ‘ how much longer is this socially acceptable to keep lit?’ When I grab for my 11th cookie of the day, I think, ‘when can I no longer claim it’s because it’s Christmas?’ There’s just a little less sweating the small stuff and a lot more big picture. Maybe it will be a New Year’s Resolution to live life like it’s Christmas 365 days a year. 🙂

Christmas Quotes | May the peace and joy of Christmas live in your heart all year long.

So this year, we loaded up the boys and flew out to Pittsburgh, PA to stay with my older brother and his family for a few days. Since my parents passed 5 and 6 years ago, we went through a stint that made it hard to get our family together. We would only spend holidays with in-laws because it seemed like we just didn’t have a family any longer. We love the families we married into, but we missed each other and we missed the traditions we grew up with. It’s been important for my brother and I to work hard to keep all that alive, so this year we made it work that we get together.

What is it and boys and their planes? And their trains? And trucks? And..? 🙂

I knew that Jacks would have a great time flying because “Train the Elf” got him a new pair of headphones the day we left. Put a phone in front of him and he’s good for a solid 6-8 hours. 🙂 Well probably not that long, but he did awesome on the flights just with some downloaded shows from Amazon Prime and Netflix and his new headphones.

My worry was more in Colton. An 18 month, active little boy who hasn’t been on a flight since he was 4 months old…and was riding as a 25 lb. lap child (because who wants to buy 4 plane tickets right now??). I follow The Busy Toddler on Instagram and luck have it, she JUST went on a flight with her family. She added a TON of ideas to her Instagram highlights with the best flight tips. Best tip I read: Bring painters tape with you on the flights. Tape up the tray table in front of you so it doesn’t become the only toy your kids want to play with during the flight. You’re welcome, plane riders in front of us! 🙂

I also brought a whole slew of snacks, little toys, and headphones for Colton. My goal was to surprise C with a new thing every 10ish minutes to keep his attention and not wear him out on something too early on the flight.

We made it with no tears, no freak outs, and even a few nice comments from the passengers sitting around us. Mission: Accomplished!

When we arrived, exhaustion was high but the boys were so over the moon excited to see their family. My niece is 5 years old and my nephew is just 1 month older than Jackson. They pick up immediately where they left off every single time. And of course, my adorable sister-in-law had the cutest things planned for the kids. The time spent and the effort to make the days before Christmas special were so noticed.

You knew he wasn’t going to follow the rules…

I grew up doing an Italian Christmas Eve tradition of the Dinner of 7 Fishes. Being a blogger, one would think that I would have taken a picture of the spread we did together, but that didn’t happen this time around. At least I have one from last year with our hideous wallpaper for the background. 😒

Prior to next Christmas, I’ll give a full menu and recipes for that traditional meal. Single-handedly the greatest things I eat all year long!

Before crawling into bed for the night, the boys opened their matching PJs, said goodbye to Train the Elf, and put out all the cookies, carrots, and celery for Santa and the reindeer.

Of course Christmas morning was exactly as you’d hope it would be. Too early for the adults to start their days, recollections of hearing Santa on the roof overnight, paper everywhere, shrieks of excitement, breaks between gifts to get maximum playing time, and naps a little earlier than usual.

Santa brought Jackson a new train set, chalk full of his favorites: gates, train switches, bridge, and a tunnel. Think he was pretty good with Christmas after gift number one. 🙂 Colton got a Hot Wheels starter race track and the boy figured out very quickly exactly how to use it! For ages 6 and above? Nah…not for Colton. He’s got it.

Ellie got an Amazon Fire Kids Edition for Christmas and Chase got one of the most creative gifts I’ve seen! If you’re in need of a last-minute, whoops I forgot about him kind of gifts…this Fisher Price Think and Learn Smart Cycle was AMAZING!

Hook your iPad up the bike and there are a slew of educational games linked to the bike. Kids have to pedal and steer their bike to accomplish learning goals as they play the games. Gives screen time a little more activity! And coming from the classroom, there is tons of research that shows that moving your body as you are learning increases comprehension and retention. You, Fisher Price, nailed it on this one!

We flew home the morning of the 26th and are headed off to Jerod’s family today to celebrate with them.

A holiday of warmth, love, and taking time to remember what the day is truly about. I couldn’t have asked for a better end of the year. I hope yours was filled with too much laughter, food, tradition, and joy. Merry Christmas to you!

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