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books & reading family fun gift guide

How to Celebrate the “Icelandic Book Flood” with your family on Christmas Eve.

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I think everyone on the internet is familiar with the Icelandic  jólabókaflóð or the Christmas Book Flood. Since WWII, Icelanders began a tradition born of necessity really, in which they exchange books on Christmas Eve and then spend the remainder of the evening reading at home. Obviously the introvert in me is obsessed with all of this. I’m sure that social media has greatly romanticized and exaggerated this holiday but I’m there for it all the same.

This year we are celebrating jólabókaflóð in our home because it’s literally on my birthday and I said so. I ran the idea past my family and the kids were immediately on board. We decided that each person would buy a book for one other person so everyone is both buying and receiving a book.

Since we are a two kids + two adults situation, I decided that the kids would pick out a book for each other and Dan and I would do the same. I encouraged them to go to a used book store for their purchases but otherwise left them to figure out the rest. Dan and I had to take the kids to a bookstore to shop for each other because apparently 9 and 12 year olds can’t drive.

Because I’m literally obsessed with books, naturally I thought I’d share a few suggestions for the book lovers in your life. It’s not too late to pick up a book and start a Christmas book flood in your home, too.


10 Book Suggestions for Your Book Flood

Books for The Littles

 

Anne of Green Gables: A BabyLit Places Primer because you’ve gotta start them young.

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen because it’s one of my all time favorite read alouds.

Books for the Kiddos

 

Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild because Kathleen Kelly told us to.

The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani Dasgupta because “interdimensional demon slayer”.

Books for the Teens

 

The Only Pirate At The Party by Lindsey Stirling because she’s a classically trained musician gone rogue with a story to tell.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman because Thor and Loki and also Neil Gaiman.

Books for Mom

 

 

Becoming by Michelle Obama because we all love her, right?

The Dinner List by Rebecca Searle because we all like to plan imaginary dinner parties.

Books for Dad

 

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks because he’s America’s Favorite Dad Type Person.

Fire and Blood by George R. R. Martin so he can learn about Targaryen history.


I could go on but I know you’ve got this.

Who else wants to celebrate jólabókaflóð this year?

Categories
family fun

Creating a Better Christmas For Our Family

Let me preface this by saying that I love Christmas. I love the cheesy movies, Christmas music, family traditions, decorating the tree, hanging the stockings, opening presents as a family – I’m there for all of it. I really am.

But as I looked ahead to this coming Christmas, I found myself kind of dreading it. Not the moments, but the Stuff. The Stuff that I knew was going to stockpile around our already stuffed house. Our kids are approaching an age where they kind of have it all. They have more dolls, blocks, puzzles, games, dress up clothes, video games and even books than they need. I’ve spent the last few months trying to weed out some of that clutter. We’ve made good progress, but we have more purging to do for sure.

So with Christmas looming,  I found myself seriously concerned that the onslaught of gifts might undo all of the work we’ve done this year of decluttering, setting us even further back. I found myself wondering how I could reinvent this wheel, while still making Christmas meaningful and magical for my children. Specifically – the presents we give each other at Christmas. People always talk about experience presents and I decided that this year I wanted to give the family as a whole one big experience – in the form of a Spring Break trip to one of our favorite local hotel / waterparks, The Great Wolf Lodge.

(As an aside, this is not a Sponsored post – Great Wolf Lodge doesn’t know me – I’m just mentioning them because I felt like it.)

I can hear your doubts – because I had them, too. But hear me out:

How do you give your kids a gift that they can’t actually enjoy until several months later? This would admittedly work better if we were taking the trip during Christmas break. This is not in the cards – but after talking it over with my husband who loved the idea, I decided to give it a shot anyway. I had a puzzle made from a picture of one of our first trips to Great Wolf Lodge that the kids can open and assemble on Christmas morning – so they can have something tangible to open and build hype for the upcoming trip.

Seriously no other presents? Well, let’s be real. They are still going to get presents from their extended family. I also have giant hand knit stockings to fill that I’ll be able to approach with less apprehension since it’s the only thing I’ll be shopping for this year. The key will be not going nuts or I could find myself defeating the purpose. But with some planning ahead and will power, I can totally handle this. I’m actually making a list of stocking stuffer ideas and plan to not purchase most of the things until I know exactly what I’m planning to buy everyone – that way I don’t find myself just one more thing-ing the situation into oblivion. I should have been doing this already probably.. Either way, the kids will definitely have presents to open on Christmas morning. I’m just taking us off the hook for trying to come up with big exciting things to unwrap in addition to stocking stuffers and gifts coming from extended family.

What about the magic of Christmas? There’s still tons of fun things to look forward to. We like to celebrate Saint Lucy Day as a family on December 13. Most years I try to add in other December holidays also. This year I’m not holding back. Advent, Hanukkah, Bodhi Day, Saint Nicholas Day – even the Icelandic book flood are all on my horizon. The best part is that most of these holidays aren’t going to cost much money at all – the emphasis is really on time together. We’ll also visit a Christmas Tree farm, decorate the tree, watch Christmas movies, listen to Christmas music, bake cookies together – all of the things that I LOVE about Christmas with less of the clutter and commercialism that can make me cranky in one of my favorite seasons.

If this works – it won’t be the last time. I like the idea of small, simple presents that fit in an oversized Christmas stocking – and one bigger, possibly nontangible item that the whole family can enjoy. This could be the beginning of a beautiful new Christmas tradition.

What do you think?

Do you give experience presents to your children?

Has this worked for you?

 

 

Categories
books & reading

What’s On MY Nightstand: December

It’s the 4th Tuesday in November – you know what that means! It’s TIME TO build a word show you what’s on my nightstand. First I’ll show you the books I’m currently reading and have slated to read, then I’ll show you the books that Santa can feel free to leave under the tree for me this year (the ones I wouldn’t kick out of my nightstand, so to speak). So here’s what I’m reading right now or planning to read very soon:

  • The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis: This book is either the 6th in the series or the 1st depending on how you look at it – it wasn’t written first, but it is supposed to be the story of the dawn of Narnia, how it all began, etc. I’ve decided to read this one first even though it says BOOK SIX in huge letters, the back of the book assures me I can read these books in any order. So there. I’ve read two chapters before and already I’m loving the writing style and the plot. I think I’m really going to enjoy this series.
  • Home: A Memoir Of My Early Years by Julie Andrews: I’ve been wanting to read this since before it came out, so last night when the dh let me take myself to the library I searched the racks in the basement biographies section of the library and THERE IT WAS. I was so excited and I’m looking forward to starting this soon.
  • The Host by Stephenie Meyer: I bought this with a gift card my mother sent me for my birthday and I am definitely looking forward to reading it, but I keep putting it down and saying, “Not yet.” I think it’s the knowledge that it’s currently the only book she’s written that I haven’t read – so once I read it, I’m screwed until she writes something new – does that make sense? So I put it down and went to the library to get The Magician’s Nephew and Home and I’ll read this just as soon as I’m brave enough!
  • The No Cry Potty Training Solution by Elizabeth Pantley: I am mostly including this to maybe encourage myself to pick it up and start reading it – it does sound like a great book and probably perfect, but like my son, I’m in denial about the whole potty training thing and it kind of feels like homework, which never encourages me to want to read anything. But there you have it.

Now for the books that I’d most like to find waiting for me on Christmas morning – the ones I’d bake Santa TWO batches of homemade cookies for!

What’s on your nightstand this month?

Categories
blog-related

Tis The Season For A New Look

Let’s just accept the fact that I’ll be trying new looks on this blog constantly, especially now that I’m starting to learn my way around Gimp – this one is just for the holidays, but like my Christmas Tree, don’t be surprised if it lingers post-holidays until it’s pathetic that I’ve still got it up and even MM wants me to take it down…

I changed my button, too – that might be permanent.

Anyway…

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!

Categories
family fun photography

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

The Christmas bug has officially hit me – last night I want to jump from the roof tops singing Joy To The World – I settled for putting up the tree (by myself, because dh still didn’t want to put it up at all, but when he came home and saw it up and decorated he was thrilled and fine with it) and making our very first gingerbread house.

We sang a couple Christmas carols off key, forgetting several lyrics, giggling when MM attempted to sing along but mostly babbled. I think my favorite was Oh Christmas Tree, which goes a little something like this…

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

Or something. We also made several attempts to take pictures of the tree, of MM and the tree, cool close ups, and mostly just trying to figure out how to take clear crisp pictures of the tree in the dark with the lights flashing. Mostly I got either no lights flashing pictures that look like it’s broad day light OR blurry images of lights flashing that looks sort of like a Christmas Tree if you tilt your head and squint. I really should take a class or something. Anyway, here are some pictures of our festive family fun:

Merry Pictures To All and To All A Good Night…

or…

The End.