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Holiday Madness

It's that time of year again! The holidays are upon us and for some of us, that means the sheer craziness of deciding where to go when. For my family that's a particular task. I have divorced parents, in laws, siblings in from out of town, and a lot of birthdays. So we joke that once Thanksgiving hits we will all see each other every weekend through January. That's pretty truthful ;) 

But for Thanksgiving and Christmas, where do you go? How do you make everyone happy? How do you split the time up? For me, this is pretty simple. Make yourself, your husband, and your kids the priority. No one thinks it's fun to pack up kids and try to everyone on one day! For Thanksgiving we just pick one place... it is different every year but we have come to the realization that we can't be everywhere. Our parents live over an hour from each other and it's just not practical- or fun. On Christmas we go to one parents house on Christmas Eve and the other on Christmas Day, but we always spend Christmas morning with just us at our house.

My friend Allie just wrote an entire post on this, which I loved, so I will reblog it here for you... She gave some great advice on avoiding the holiday drama! 

Take it away Allie:

"Are holidays a tad stressful for you with fitting everyone in and making everyone happy??
Funny Mike's holiday Ecard: Let's shake things up over the holidays by not constantly complaining about the holidays.
Jordan and I have both sets of parents divorced so have the ultimate hurdle to hop through on making it to all the holiday eventsand trying to fit it all in, while fitting in the needs of our children.
Before we had kids it would not phase us to just jump in the car and run here and there and everywhere, we could cover so much ground and didn't mind doing so. But throw in 1, 2, 3 and now 4 kids and things get trickier. We have learned a few things through the years and now the holidays are a breeze for us and also I think we do a good job of trying to get all our visits in! Here are a few tips to making the holidays not so stressful.
Holiday DATES.
This is one that I really do not get. I understand Thanksgiving is on a Thursday and Christmas is always the 25th, BUT, will it really make your time less important if you celebrate on a Friday or Saturday near those holidays? If your answer is yes, no offense you may need to rethink some things. Holidays are about spending time together with your loved ones, no matter how many hours or which date the calendar reads. We celebrate whenever we can, shoot I think we may even be celebrating "Christmas" with my parents when they are here when baby #4 arrives. And guess what, that is amazing to me. Having my parents here with our family and celebrating the love we all share and a good meal. Nothing gets better than that, no date or day of the week can change that. Therefore look at the calender and talk about other dates that may work other than the actual holiday date for you and your family to celebrate.
This doesn't just go for you and your husband, although that is the most important but also for your extended family. Switch off years for holidays if people are not willing to switch dates. Host the holiday at your house and invite both sides and knock it all out. I know this can be tricky with divorced families but for Easter we invite everyone, all our sets of parents and just go with it. It has yet to end with any drama, because thankfully our parents do well! haha! But hosting at your own home allows you to call all the shots, if you are not a great cook, ask people to bring things. Not every holiday has to be out of a Martha Stewart Livingmagazine. 
This really is so important for you and your husband. This topic can make people very bitter and resentful which is why having agame plan is key. Holidays are NOT WORTH fighting over. There are so many ways to avoid the drama. The last person you want to be arguing with is your husband and at the end of the day, some people are just arguing over a day or date. Hence why I mention celebrating on different days. You also need to keep lines of communication open with your parents and in-laws, let them know your ideas and struggles and they should help. My parents have been so fabulous about holidays and really helped us because at the end of the day they do not care when they see us, they just want to see us. So keep the lines of communication open with everyone.
Be Honest.
I guess this goes with communicate and shouldn't be too hard but for things to go smooth, be honest. If you really don't want to spend the night away from your home on Christmas, tell your husband, don't just go along with it and be pissy the whole day. No one wants to be around a couple who is arguing on the holidays. Buzz kill. Speak up at the start when you guys discuss the holiday plans, don't just brush it off. Being honest, not just in this aspect but in your marriage is so key. Your husband can not always read your mind. So, be sure to speak up....or at least don't complain when the plans go how you discussed because you did not choose to speak up and be honest. Trust me, I used to be the timid girl who never spoke up! 
Stick together.
Do not throw your spouse under the bus and say "this was his idea" or make snide remarks. Communicate from the start and stick to the plan. You are a united front together and made the decisions together. You did it in attempts to make everyone included happy so please do not throw your husband or wife under the bus. You are doing the best you can and trying to fit everyone in.
Those are really the tips we stick to. We plan early and give everyone heads up to make sure everyone knows our plans. I am very happy with our holiday game plan. We have been following the same one for the past few years and it works. This year is obviously kind of a cluster with throw baby #4 in right before Christmas but we will make it to as many events as humanly possible. 
What are your tips for making everyone happy?? Or avoiding the drama??"
HAPPY THANKSGIVING -- hope you all have a safe & happy holiday! 

Throw Back Thursday: Black Friday 2010

We thought it would be FUN to do a Throwback Thursday Post.  So we digged deep and found our Black Friday post from 3 years ago.  Enjoy...

“Shopping is a woman thing.  It’s a contact sport like football.  Women enjoy the scrimmage, the noisy crowds, the danger of being trampled to death, and the ecstasy of the purchases.” Erma B

Brandi Standing in line for hours in the cold. Crowded store with a bunch of insane people. Frantically searching through picked over shelves for the perfect toy.  Deprivation of sleep. And for what? To save a few measly bucks. No thank you. Not doing it. Not to mention I. AM. DONE. SHOPPING. and have been for weeks. I need nothing.  I am not going and you cannot make me.

Lisa I love to shop. In the morning, the afternoon, the night... Anytime. I also love Black Friday. I mean there is only one day a year you can shop all night long! Count me in. For me, it’s not even about the deals as much as the fun of it. I don't wait in line for the crazy electronics, I'd rather go to the clothing or shoe stores, and this year - toys r us. Every year I would go with my family, often my sisters who enjoy this day as much as I do. This year, they are all out of town. I decided to make Brandi go... She refused for a while but with a threat that she might be getting to old to stay out all night she was at my doorstep ready to go.

Danger Women Shopping

9:30 PM - Toys R Us Drive-by (Store opens at 10p) Holy Mother Crapola.  The line IS amazingly long.  Since we are the ONLY people daring enough to experience the shopping chaos without any end objectives (yep, we have nothing we specifically want) we decide we will wait a little bit. Because for some reason we thought it would get better.

Pre-Break We haven’t even started and we already need a break. Nick & Jimmy’s (local bar).  Quick shot and development of our brainstorm.  Brainstorm Let’s go to Best Buy to post for our blog. Blogging Genius. Camera equipped to record in hand we dash to Best Buy.

9:50ish PM Best Buy (Store opens at 5am) People are camped out.  No literally camped out.  Regular size tents and all.  We find our first victims to interview- a group of young guys residing in a said tent.  They were more concerned about getting our phone numbers than participating in our very serious (ha) interview.  However, they are def worth mentioning as they had a hookah (water pipe used to smoke) in their tent which was extremely amusing to us. Moving on to a more serious shopper: JB.  We were slightly apprehensive in our approach seeing that he was under a blue tarp (maybe sleeping) and we weren’t sure what to expect.  Lisa braved it out went in to knock (?) on the tarp when JB’s head popped out.

10:20ish PM Toys R Us Return Well the line changed a bit since we did our drive got increasingly longer.  On our high of interview success (and maybe second hand hookah smoke) we decided to get out and join the anticipating shoppers.  They were starting to let people in so that was promising. Right?  After an hour and half wait broken up by a McD hot coca and coffee run, relocating our car to a closer space, getting to know our line neighbors very well and conducing another interview we were IN. Now what??  Again we have no idea what we want, and really do NOT even need anything.  So we casually shop like there wasn’t a bunch of frantic moms and dads trying to run us over.  Lisa picks up some goodies for Colton and Dylan and Brandi’s hands are completely free as we venture to the line.  You need a flippin’ map to figure out the line.  It winds all through the store- it is like trying to find the beginning of a completely twisted undone toilet paper roll. Finally find it and settle in.  The wait: 30 to 45 minutes. No worries, Brandi didn’t leave empty handed.  While in line she found a Bubble Babble Decal Set. Yep two hours for a bunch of glorified stickers. We are next in line for the cash register when we realized we didn’t HAVE to wait in line.  We were in the line to be let in to the Electronics section.  Are You Kidding Me?

Toys R Us Verdict: Total Time (waiting + shopping), 2ish hours. Lisa bought 3 items, absolutely NONE of them on sale (so we could have bought them at any time) and Brandi got stickers. 

Break Time 2nd round Nick & Jimmy’s.  Starving.  Filled up on Spinach Artichoke Dip and ready to head back out.

12:40am Old Navy (Store opened at midnight) A little line but after waiting at Toys R Us we are pros.  After 20 minutes (which seems like nothing) We Are In.  Immediately we find some goodies.  Lisa got some presents out of the way and Brandi found some things for the husband and three year old. After canvassing the store and packing our shopping bags we venture to find the line.  Way worse than the Toys R Us line that we didn’t even need to wait in.  Way Worse.  This line was like waiting to ride the most popular roller coaster.  Completely insane.  After an hour we looked at each and said are we really going to keep waiting.  We forge ahead.  After two hours we asked are we really going to keep waiting.  We forge ahead.  Our feet hurt, our eyes hurt and trying to stay positive we attempt to try to keep ourselves occupied.  We waited three hours total. Half way through we did have a half hour of complete slap happiness.  Lisa was beyond entertained with a random Old Navy mannequins that had a real mint in its mouth.  Thinking the mannequins maker put this in our bubble was bursted when the person in front of us informed us crazy girls ahead put it in her mouth.  Oh.  And then this happened --- a Dance Revolution.  In the midst of the line was a XBox Kinect Dance Revolution game.  Oh we danced it out.

Finally after cashing out Brandi saved $33 dollars (totally not worth it) and her favorite thing was a $5 (which probably was $10 on a normal day) tank top and $7 (not on sale) slippers. Lisa saved $84 dollars. Yes, we are insane.

5:00am Home. 8 hours of Shopping + Just $100 Saved = Priceless Memories with your sister in law and hopefully an enjoyable blog for our readers.(This was three years ago.  Yes, we were as crazy then as we are now). Are you braving the crowds this year to shop?

Safe Shopping, Lisa & Brandi 



Winter Activities for the Family!

Hey guys :) 

I heard that tomorrow we are supposed to have snow flurries in the evening. That seriously makes me want to jump on a plane and go to the bahamas. I mean, really, that's how I feel (even though I have NEVER actually been to the bahamas...but we all know it sounds wonderful!). I hate winter, and I hate snow. Sure, I like skiing and those fun winter activities, but not any aspect of the day-to-day winter season, and since we live in Ohio where there are NO mountains, It's not like I can go skiing 24/7. Instead, I'm left bundling up just to open my door to get the mail. 


Well, with that rant over with, I decided to make a fun list of family things to do to keep busy this winter season! I wanted to focus on trying to find the fun around the area that I may not have experienced before. So I came up with a list of things to do. Not only for me, but for you, and for all different age groups and families. So here we go...

-Build It in Levis Commons <-- this one I've been to and the boys love it. Just an easy place to drop in for an hour or so.
-Sylvania Playland <-- Another easy place to go for a rainy or cold day, but I always try to go during their slow times.
-Imagination Station <-- If you've never been, go! There is so much to do!
-Westfield/Franklin Park Mall <-- you might laugh at this one, but we go to the mall ALL.THE.TIME. I'm pretty sure Colton thinks it's a carnival or something. We don't actually shop (since Gap Kids isn't there... I'm still really bitter about it) but we play in all the play areas, we get lunch, soft pretzels, sometimes cookies, and even ride the train. I mean he honestly loves it! 
-577 Foundation, Perrysburg <-- I've never been! But I've heard about it and I definitely want to go.
-Toledo Firefighters Museum <-- Also never been, but again always hear about it, definitely on my list for this year!
-Toledo Museum of Art <-- I've always loved this place. I actually have never taken Colton so that is a must. 
-Ohio Skate <-- Oh yeah, I loved this place as a kid. Rockin those roller skates baby, that was my family. On Tuesday nights of course, when it was Christian Skate Night. That's not a joke.
-Ritter Planetarium-Brooks Observatory at UT <-- I went as a teen, but haven't been since then. Colton would LOVE this, he is all about planets, stars, the sun and moon, etc... I can't wait to take him!
-Maumee Bay State Park <-- A classic in my mind. Just go stay for the night, a little local getaway. Go swimming, play volleyball, arcades, raquetball, and more... it's just a fun place to go. 
-Rutherford B Hayes Presidential Center <-- Went when I was in school but not since then. Every Christmas they have a holiday train exhibit. Multiple model trains are part of an elaborate layout and visitors are given control of the trains movements. Sounds like fun!
-Toledo and Lake Erie Western Railway & Museum <-- If you have a little train lover in your home, definitely go here!
-Kalahari <-- I actually love this place. I'm sure you've heard of it, if not, check it out!
-Merry Go Round Museum in Sandusky <-- Have not been yet, but want to go! They even have story time during the week and you get to ride the carousel :) I think Colton would love it. 
-Snooks Dream Car Museum in BG <-- Also have not been here, but reading the website makes me want to go! What little boy doesn't love cars? Plus, I want to see them too! 
-The Valentine Theatre, Stranahan, etc... <-- Local venues that always have shows going on for the family or kids. Keep up with their show schedules by their e-mail newsletter. I love theatre :) 

Well, there you have it! That's my list for things around the area to do. Now, once I do them all maybe I will update the list with my favorites or something :) I'm looking forward to checking them off my winter list. You know, since winter is now basically 9 months of the year ;) I'm pretty sure it snowed in May this year. Again, I wish I was joking! 

Hope you all have a great week, and let's check out some new fun things to do this winter!

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