Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas 2010: Spies and Dolls and a Great Big Trip

On Christmas morning, James woke me up, his face in mine, whispering, "Wake up! It's Christmas!!" He'd been up for a while, anxiously awaiting the gift exchange. Though he'd never admit it, he's the biggest kid of us all! My mom must have heard us and she drowsily began dragging herself around upstairs. We had time for a cup of coffee in front of the beautiful fire James built before waking the kids. Yes -- we had to WAKE the kids. All of them. Even the baby.

I love our new Pottery Barn stockings! I generally just ogle the PB catalog and look for some cheap knock-off, but early in the season PB offered free shipping and free monogramming through their Facebook page. I could not pass on that good deal! I was concerned the little elfin stockings I chose for the kids would be too small for all their goodies, but they're the perfect size and adorable.

Brystol had a Yo Gabba Gabba Christmas. Usually Yo Gabba Gabba stuff is impossible to find, but I hunted around online and not only found some fun Gab n' Sing plush characters, I also found them on clearance for $8.50 each (reduced cost after online coupon, plus free shipping!) through Bealls Florida. The Muno character was not only not available through the same site, he's apparently a collector's item and available for $100 or more through collector sites -- yikes! I thought I'd try my hand at sewing together a simple Muno plush, but all the red minky was sold out at the craft store.

I did put my sewing skills to use, though, and I made Brystol a DJ Lance Rock doll. While hunting for toys to purchase, I discovered the Gabba Friends fan site, and featured there was the idea for creating a DJ Lance doll at home. I did as the original creator did and ordered an Urkel doll on eBay. I ordered the smaller, non-talking doll. Not only was it cheaper, but there's no chance it will spit out an Urkelism -- I like that better. I found some free doll clothes patterns online -- one for a turtleneck shirt and one for pants. I picked up about $2 worth of fabric and felt, then combined the patterns to make the super cool orange jump suit, making modifications for fit and style. The most significant change I made was using felt instead of fur for the hat. Brystol is still small enough for things to frequently make their way into her mouth, so for now, felt is a better option.

Brystol also got her first Asian baby doll -- the little almond-eyed Bitty Baby from American Girl. Gracie got an Asian doll when she was just a bit older than Brystol and it's still a favorite.

Gracie also got a new doll this Christmas -- a Just Like Me American Girl doll with brown hair, green eyes, earrings and braces. Gracie already had Chrissa, the 2009 Doll of the Year, but she really wanted a doll to resemble her more closely. I'm so pleased we bought her one this year -- she is really enjoying it. Also, I think this might be the last year she asks for baby dolls, a thought that makes me oh-so-sad. Gracie was also happy to get a new robe and slippers and a portable DVD player -- perfect for watching movies while at home or on super-long road trips with Mom.

I had a lot of fun pulling Bub's gift together. Though he's way too cool to admit it to the general public, he still loves imaginative play, so for his big (what would be a Santa) gift, I created a spy kit. I had a hard-sided case onto which I decoupaged the words "TOP SECRET." Inside, I tucked a video watch, a snake camera, rear-view spy shades, a magnifying glass, notebooks for field notes, a small flashlight, handcuffs, a machine gun, tiny tools, several badges, fake mustaches for disguises, disposable gloves, a brush for collecting fingerprints, a itty-bitty microscope for catching even the tiniest clue, and a Top Secret spy manual full of secret codes, recipes for invisible ink, etc. He loved it as much as I hoped he would and has been playing with it nearly nonstop.

He also added to the Tomica train universe that has taken over our game room, a pillowcase like his favorite candy, and substantial collection of Goosebumps books I picked up secondhand.

James got boring grown-up gifts that he both wanted and needed: new shirts for work, books, cologne, cold weather wear for his work up north. New video games made up for the boring.

We gave my mom lots of fun stuff. We gave her a new digital camera since she lost hers in a recent flood, but my favorite gift to her was this fun shirt. Mom works for the Home Depot -- perfect!

Without a doubt, though, this was MY Christmas. Christmas is usually okay for me, but James really, REALLY outdid himself this year. For who knows how long, he'd been conspiring with my BFF Marcie to plan a GIRLS-ONLY FOUR-DAY TRIP TO NEW YORK CITY. I had no idea. James kept saying things like, "I think you're going to like your gift," and he and the kids wrapped packages to be opened in a certain order. Gifts from the kids had a travel theme, but we do travel, so that didn't clue me in. Then I opened James' first gift to me -- a bag with a big apple inside. (Is that a clue that it's time to diet again? Have I said yes to one too many Christmas cookies?) The second gift was full of pictures -- one of a cityscape, one of what I thought was a planet, and one of some body of water. (Actually, I now know that the "city" was a picture of the Waldorf Astoria where we'll be staying, the "planet" was Mars, and the "body of water" was the sea. Mars + sea = Marcie, my dearest friend and travel companion. Very clever.) Here I am, crying like a blubbering idiot after James tells me what all the clues mean (because I totally couldn't figure them out on my own).

This gift is awesome because not only is it a GIRLS-ONLY FOUR-DAY TRIP TO NEW YORK CITY, but it also represents so much sacrifice. James travels a great deal for his job, and he really works the system for airline miles and hotel rewards and points. He spends so much time away from our family that we do not waste those miles and points -- they're reserved for family time together. For James to use some of those points to fly my friend from Oklahoma to Texas, and then to fly us both to NYC and home again means so much, then to use his hotel rewards to book a room for us at the Waldorf Astoria -- an 8-star hotel in a class of it's own -- is sacrifice. Moreover, for James to take off work during his busiest time of the month to stay home alone with three kids -- I cannot even describe to you what sort of sacrifice that represents. His generosity has blessed me deeply, and while I am super, SUPER excited about my GIRLS-ONLY FOUR-DAY TRIP TO NEW YORK CITY, I'm more excited about the love James showed through this selfless gift. I am a truly blessed woman!

Merry Christmas from Our Family to Yours!


  • Elizabeth

    OH MY WORD!!! What an incredible gift for you!!! James, you are one fine specimen of a husband. :-)

    Again, I greatly admire your travels. So fun!

  • Randi

    You outdid yourself on the Yo Gabba Gabba doll and the spy kit. LOVE them.

    And James' gift to you is amazing. I'm so impressed with his clues - the Marcie clue is crazy hard. What an amazing gift ... I can't wait to hear all about the trip!

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