Our version of a family Christmas letter. This post contains affiliate links.

Dear World,

We hope this “letter” finds you and your family well. I am pretty sure we all feel like 2018 came and left and we are still trying to figure out what happened.

We are currently “residing at Johnny’s parent’s side yard”. Its good, we laugh because we never imagined ourselves here. They know that we don’t want to be living there but that we appreciate the yard and hospitality to finish out our build. It’s been enjoyable, this is the longest that we’ve been back in our childhood hometown in 13 years. THIRTEEN YEARS! We’ve been here for a month. Its been fast too, there are just so many people to see and spend time together its been a challenge finding balance in the work/play part of our life. We’ve been in a staycation mode, slower to rise and just more flexible than anyone that leads a tradition 9-5 life. 

Janet, Johnny’s mom) keeps yelling at me from the house that “You’d better get your rear into gear!”
Honestly, though, it’s not that we aren’t in the Christmas spirit, we are just in such a chill mental zone that none of us (including the kids) sense an urgency to decorate or worry about gifts. We have a dried out Christmas treetop (my “Uncle” Dene sawzawed off after the yard party that led us to our impromptu Everglades trip), the kids have a few wrapped gifts under it and the kids helped decorate Grandma Janet’s tree with their cousins.
Note to self- I need to get caught up on some YouTube videos. 

Now that our lifestyle has changed we are focusing on experiences and things that can benefit going tiny.

Shoot, I finished all our Christmas shopping last night using Amazon. Yes, some gifts might arrive after Christmas day BUT I feel like that’s almost a plus! Right, gifts keep coming into the New Year?! Our Christmas historically isn’t spent on the actual day because if Johnny was deployed they’d open one gift on Christmas day and then we would celebrate Christmas the morning after he got back. Sometimes pushing into the end of January. 
When we were downsizing and selling the house, we trashed their bikes and most outdoor toys because they were beat the hell up. So we are working on getting items that replace those and allow us to enjoy our outdoor lifestyle. 
For our family, we like to stay around $100 for each kid. We automatically nix any toys on their list that serve no purpose, like slime kits, overly expensive or hoochy dolls, and redundant toys. 

How We Are Doing Christmas This Year

So far this year the kids are going to make out like bandits. This is how I broke down gifts this year:
Family Gift:
All of them are getting their own:
  1. Kayak – we plan on plenty of trips that include water
  2. Bikes – this is just a necessity in our life
  3. Backpacks – I do not want to carry all 6 water bottles and snacks and whatever again.
All of them share a group gift (last year it was a bunch of game boards and card games)
They will also get
  • One item that is specifically a “doesn’t have to share” gift.
  • Something to share (One for the boys and one for the girls).
  • A nice dress outfit for any special occasions.
  • A few ” some “stocking stuffers” that can go on their bikes/kayaks/bunk/backpack

I also purchase a cruise trip for Johnny and I. One of our goals for 2019 is to take more couples trips together. So when I came across a 2 day Bahama Cruise for $200 I thought “Quickie Trip” and a new challenge for the new year!

I try to make sure they understand that Christmas isn’t just about getting gifts and more about the spirit of giving. I think they know that we want them to enjoy life and experience all the things, so I am sure that they will appreciate their gifts. 

Closing out 2018!

While we had no idea the whirlwind we would find ourselves in, I feel like I am even more appreciative of all the things that surround me. I want the kids to find that feeling as well. Everyone is doing well here.
Jacob is as sweet as ever, and getting taller. He’s learning daily and pretty easy going.
Chloe is still our powerhouse cleaner and doer of things. Her kitten Neko is about 4 months old, he comes back to the bus when we click our fingers which is super cool.
Matthew is loving this new lifestyle. He learns by doing so most days are solid until we have to do worksheets or reading. His Christmas gift is tinkering/building and coding devices, we think he will enjoy the manual and directions since he despises creative writing.
Alexis has softened up a lot. She was turning into that skeptical crazy preteen and I am thankful we started the adventures when we did. We’ve become even closer and she has relinquished a lot of those preteen societal pressures and is just enjoying herself and time. Puberty is around the corner with her. She knows is, and makes sure we are up to date. She’s proud and anxious about this “transition… more on that later. Her cornsnake Rusty is still going strong and growing.
Johnny submitted his last paper to finalize his BA in Strategic Studies Defense Analysis today and is finalizing his research phase of the next build cycle we are about to enter. You can also find him in the Study rooms at Indian River Public Library since he has now assumed the position as Dean & Lead Professor of our Homeskoolie… I am considered a banned “parent” I am too distracting apparently. This transition has been trying but it has been so nice to watch as it affects Johnny. The high tempo, the quick changing lifestyle that he led has now slowed down. It’s nice watching him relax and enjoy the simple things again. He is still waiting to been seen by some doctors to finish his VA claim.
Shiang-ling I am finding my way. I thrive in chaos and enjoy new challenges… and our new lifestyle is full of them. I am still trying to find a balance between work and play. It’s too easy to get distracted nowadays. Johnny usually takes the kids to “school from 10am-2pm which allows me to work uninterrupted which is nice. I am creating my first branding course for The Hive & Co and developing a better schedule and strategy for creating content for thebhive family. Otherwise, I am just enjoying a slower paced life.
Needless to say, we are all pretty excited and enjoying this nomadic life and can’t wait to see what adventure we have planned!
theBhive family