Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Christmas Shopping

I'm not quite in the mood to Christmas shop. I'm much more in the mood for tossing things out. I'd rather empty the toy box into a charity bin than add to it. I love the educational toys we have, and I'd like to pitch all the ones that aren't :). Not because the kids can't play without learning.. I don't mind that! I just don't think they need that many toys.

This Christmas I've bought some new games for K's learning system and a toy or two as I saw them that were VERY usable and very on sale. I know those few things will be used and enjoyed. But...

We have not just Christmas, but then 3 days later we'll celebrate an early birthday for Brianna (bday is Jan 3rd) and then in mid-Feb we have Emma and Kristopher's birthdays just 5 days apart. So it's not just Christmas, it's Christmas and birthdays all together.

Usually the kids get to open 4 gifts at Christmas. Three from Mom and Dad (after all, Jesus got 3 gifts, why do we need more?) and one from 'Santa'. Their stockings are filled with practical things like toothbrushes, a hair brush, and maybe a special soap or bubble bath.

I understand the idea of getting gifts at Christmas and though I do think it's very 'commercialized', I do enjoy that part of the holiday. Seriously, I love to give. So maybe this year my kids will find a new carseat (Kristopher), some big-kid-absorbent-underwear (Brianna), a few therapy pieces like a small trampoline (Brianna and Micah) and a tricycle (E, M, and B), and possibly some educational software (all 4!) under the tree. They're all young enough that I doubt they'd be disappointed!

But of course, I'll ask anyway... where do you shop? Any favorite online spots with great useful things for the kids? Knowing a bit about my 5 littles, do you have any suggestions for things they may like that won't end up in the garage sale bin by March? And, of course, economically speaking... things that won't break the bank. After all, there are five of them :)


  1. finger paint or shaving cream is great for sensory as well as learning to write. i love the trampolene and tricycle ideas maybe even one of those little bikes with no pedals or a 4 wheel scooter. i just found some really cool educational toys from national geographic at

  2. I started that tradition with my daughter 22 years ago with the three gifts but we did it in reverse they were from Santa, so she could put her three top things on the list and add another one just in case Santa didn't have one of the items, then we would pick which one we wanted to purchase. :) Now she is doing that tradition with her own daughter, our granddaughter is only 18 months and has no idea other than seeing Santa in the store what he is all about so she gets away with not really having to deal with presents per say this year. In fact I feel very much like you and we are going to the attic to pull toys out from when my daughter was little, cleaning them up and putting them under the tree. I know my husband is calling me cheap..... LOL

  3. JCPenney had a minitramp for $29. It did NOT have the piece that fits around the springs but I think we can modify it.

    We also use MINDWARE and BACK TO BASICS Toys and FAT BRAIN.


  4. I'm an OTR with sensory integration issues. I love, love, love for sensory stuff. Lots of stuff is only a few dollars and they have stuff for all kinds of needs. I've spent an embarrassing amount of $ there this year considering the very cheap thing as I've gone through some needy times.

  5. Meredith, I tried to email you back about facebook. this is how i learned about you. i followed your adoption and new birth. i am a retired grandmother and your little ones bring a smile to my face. I live in lawrenceville ga
    my email is
    Merry Christmas to us a Saviour was born. Spread the cheer. Rita

  6. One of my favorites is Toys To Grow On (

  7. I would check out the Craigslist listings in the cities around your area for the bigger ticket items, like art easels, big wheels, whatever. I was thinking about getting some cute sheet sets for everyone in their favorite theme (butterflies, cars, Disney, etc). You know those will last a while. My kids love stuff like that and will likely catch on to any enthusiasm you show about a gift (within reason, of course -- Socks aren't so exciting! LOL) I always check out ebay for deals as well. Maybe something crafty they can do together...I just bought Eleanor a stepping stone kit (jewels, paints, etc) for her birthday, and it will be something that they don't "play" with, but look at on the ground and remember creating something cool and useful. Good luck in the search!

  8. We bought the leapfrog Tag system last year for Kylie when she was 7 and was struggling with learning to read, it helped her A LOT. She is still playing with it at 8 even though she's an independent reader now. My foster son who is 5 is not reading at all and he enjoys it too. It's simple to use... you download the book cd on to the reader from your computer and it holds 5 books ( i think 5... maybe 6)and it automatically knows which book your child is looking at with it.. not like the leap pad where you had to push a certian button on each page first. They also make a Tag system for younger toddlers, I cant remember what its called.. maybe My First Tag? But it has a chunky "pen" that would be easy for E, B and M to use.

  9. I got a few for Libby this year from

    Also - for the trampoline, we had gotten the musical jump smart one (it was about $60ish) -- it has been wonderful -- even our Chris likes to jump on it. Libby mastered the buttons fairly quickly and now knows how to have it count for her when she jumps as well as just play the music (she also knows how to turn the volume up full blast as well). I was able to work with her as she stood on it and I pushed down to make her jump. I think having Chris jump in back of her helped as well.

    Good luck!

  10. how about a bg of homemade playdough for each kid? I might just do that myself! I usually SAY I am not going to buy a million toys and then I DO buy a million things, most of which end up overlooked or not liked or whatever. and because I tend to go for cheap in price because I can get more, they get broken. this year I am sticking to it. clothes they need, so they will get some of that. and books are never a bad thing. so they will get some of them. all my littles love books. I got s and b each a little people set with an extra mini little people set. (which kills me because I have gotten rid of these SAME TOYS twice already with my other kids!) Maia is getting barbie car and outfit for american girl doll(from the target 18 inch doll clothes. ethan a tool set and a baseball and glove. chrysta is geting a new cell phone and cody I have noooo idea. I am working REALLY HARD not to buy more toys. I loved waking on christmas morning to all the presents under the tree. I want them to feel the same way but they just dont NEED much! I feel your pain. good luck with your search.

  11. I’m holding a $1 challenge over at, on the countdown to Christmas. Kiril is a little boy with significant special needs who has been waiting on Reece’s Rainbow for a long time, and has been bedridden in an institution for over 6 months now. My goal is to get as many people as possible to come and donate just ONE dollar to Kiril’s RR grant, and then pass this message on to just ONE other person of their choice.

    Apart from people I know well, I’m contacting 50 people whose circumstances I’m not as familiar with - so if you’re in the middle of an adoption etc, I obviously don’t expect you to donate. But *please* pass along this message, whether you can give yourself or not.

    Thank you and Merry Christmas!

  12. Discovery Toys

    (And, if you place your order via email with me, I'll give you 10% off.) They also ship directly to you in a brown box.

    Angela :-)

  13. I love the idea of 4 gifts at Christmas! How true! When you have multiple children, this is the ticket! We will be doing just that at Christmas this year for our 5! Thanks for the wonderful idea.

  14. Hey Meredith,

    We too do the 3 gifts and then Santa may bring 1 or 2. I love the trampoline from Toys-R-Us it is a little pricey but worth it. Carley loved it and still jumps on it at times but Macey REALLY loves it. She couldn't jump at all when we got her and it was just a matter of a week or two for her to figure it out! the down fall it works so well she constantly jumps...through house, across the yard, in the stores...LOL.... It is very durable(it has to be with Macey!) It also has music. here is a link

  15. at least your birthdays are two months after. try having one nov. 13, and ann. nov 24, thanksgiving nov 26, bday dec. 3, bday dec. 9, bday dec. 16, christmas the 25, and then another bday jan 24