The other day I found ½ a turkey at the grocery store and got way too PUMPED to make a “Christmas in July” meal. As we sat down around the campfire I reminisce to our holidays. Johnny’s training/deployment schedule made him miss every other holiday season, Halloween- Christmas. Reflecting on those days and then sitting where I am now was such a warm feeling. We are having so much fun just spending quality time together. 

Most holidays I am “lead” for presents, costume discussion and such. Every time it came to buying presents I would cringe at the items on display and the cost associated. I remember one year when Johnny was gone, and I took the kids to “peruse” the toy aisle at Target. This shopping trip “broke” me of how I buy things.This year Alexis HAD to have this turtle toy that swam in water inside this “pen” and had friends.

I was resilient to buy it because… look at it. $24.99 for this toy ?! But, I got her the toy… and not a week later, it was piled into the corner with all the other unnecessary junk we’ve acquired.

I was done

So we cleaned and rid the house of all unnecessary toys and I started to keep a running list of items we could get the kids and really get our money’s worth and continue to be used to create memories and moments. 

Last Christmas we were on the bus and knew that we’d be looking for items that would a.) fit on the bus and b.) really be a toy that would prove its worthiness! Below are our top 5

Kayaking with Kids
Kid's Kayak
Kayaking the Lamprey River
Lifetime Wave Kayak
  • Kayaks – If we haven’t mentioned them enough, we love our Lifetime Wave kayaks! It has truly been a top gift as far as “paying” for itself. They sell on Amazon for $89-$120 (5 ish of those stupid turtle toys). These awesome kayaks have allowed us to all bond over an activity that we all enjoy and create some amazing memories with. We all are able to get a workout in, it has been great for all our varying ages, and helps test their abilities/strengthen them. We have gone on a few smaller trips and spend maybe 3-4 hours on each trip. This allows us to paddle out, find a cool spot and then paddle back (the worst part). This is something we HIGHLY recommend, even if you are able to get out once a month!
  • Legos/Barbies/Army Men/Tea Set –  Nowadays we don’t buy too many toys anymore. We’ve begun to really love thrift shopping, especially because we are able to visit so many different ones. If they find a cool toy then there’s a chance we will get it, but we really love finding random packs of the cheapo McDonald’s toys (we hardly ever eat there) or other random small toys. Otherwise, the most we purchase are expansion packs for our lego stash. They have two storage drawers that are below their dinette seating areas that hold enough for them all to play nicely together. 
Chloe Relaxing On Her iPad
Enjoying a “gaming/tv” rain day.
  • iPads – I hope you aren’t surprised… I LOVE technology and we both believe that we are only harming our next generation by not letting them fully understand the technology of today. Balance is key and it is a prime teaching opportunity giving them the responsibility of their online presence and teaching them to respect it.
    • Another facet of this is the accessories & iTunes gift cards to allow them to purchase music, games and really use their iPads. 
  • Bikes – We have always been a bike family and have seriously gone through so many kinds, mainly cheapo Wal-mart bikes, which we purchased again this past Christmas. This year we are looking to upgrade the kid’s bikes to more mountain/off-road bikes. With our lifestyle and our history with bikes, we might need to look into getting bikes that are built for wear and tear. Maybe our current bikes are fine though and just need upgraded wheels and better brakes? Whichever way we go we should probably get a few extra parts to have as well.
  • Craft Box – This is a conglomeration of items, from fuzzy things to googly eyes and popsicle sticks to buttons. This box is meant to be used and abused. At least once a week the kids pull this box out and the front tables turn into an arts & craft zone. They have free range on the items in the box, pretty much anything their little hearts desire to create they can. The only rule is “You don’t pay for it so just share, use it all and make some cool stuff”

We are always on the lookout for quality toys/items to add to our current collection Do you have any that you’d recommend?

Alexis is deconstructing and remodeling a toy car for her Barbie.