Jonas Family 25 Holiday Events

If you listened to my podcast about Simplifying and Organizing your Holidays, then you know that the first week of every October, the Jonases sit down and discuss what we’re going to do as a family for the first 25 days of December.  These events are very intentional and designed to build memories and make us a stronger family unit.  They’re not always big things.  In fact, some of them are quite small because of what we have going on in our lives on that day.

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But we decide what to do as a family.  We all sit down at the dining room table together and start filling in our calendar.  We usually start with the more time consuming activities – when will we get our tree, when will we decorate the tree, when will we decorate the house, and when will we paint ornaments.  Then the shorter activities that we love to do get filled in.

People often ask me what is on our list, so I decided to share it with everyone.  The numbers correspond to the date.  So the first activity occurs on December 1st and continues down the list.

  1. Make Jesse Trees
  2. Apple Cider
  3. Watch a Little House on the Prairie episode
  4. Decorate house
  5. Play a family game
  6. Get Christmas tree
  7. Decorate tree
  8. Paint ornaments
  9. Puzzle
  10. Egg nog
  11. Watch It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas* (Greyden’s birthday)
  12. Peanut butter cups and Family Hug
  13. Tell others 1 thing we like about each other  (Brett’s birthday)
  14. Sing Christmas carols
  15. List of things for which we are thankful
  16. Family card game
  17. Decorate cookies
  18. Watch Miracle on 34th Sreet*
  19. Make homemade marshmallows
  20. Lights under Louisville
  21. Watch White Christmas*
  22. Christmas carol party
  23. Drive around and look at Christmas lights
  24. Make gingerbread houses
  25. Watch It’s a Wonderful Life*

Our list changes slightly from year to year.  But a lot of it stays the same (other than switching dates).  Our children always want me to schedule “Build a Snowman”, but unfortunately, we can’t plan ahead for that one. LOL

What family activities to you do and what memories do you make at your house?

*Amazon Affiliate links

How To Organize A Control Journal

Busy Mom’s Survival Guide Episode 028
Keeping a family of ten and Goat Milk Stuff running smoothly requires a lot of organization.  One of the things that I rely upon to help keep me organized is my Central Notebook or Control Journal.  It contains everything I need in a central location.

Organization

During this podcast episode, I discuss in detail how my control journal is organized, in the hope that something I do can help you to organize your life better.  I talk about how I use all the following sections:

  1. Goals/Tasks
  2. Calendar
  3. House Chores
  4. Shopping
  5. Holidays
  6. Contact & Reference Info
  7. Special Stuff
Do you struggle with organization?  or does it come naturally to you?

Thanks for listening!  Join me next week as I talk about homeschooling.

 

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Twas The Week Before Christmas

It was a week before Christmas, 2007. All of the presents had arrived. The Christmas Tree was set up, and we had our turkey. All was in readiness for Christmas morning.

Then Mom and Dad announced that we would be leaving, driving up to NH, (where Grammy and Gumpy live) and having Christmas with them.

Oh, and…

…they had no idea that we were coming!

We loaded up the car with all of our snow gear, all of our food, all of our personal stuff, and all of the presents (yes, even the ones Grammy had shipped to us from NH). We left our house on the evening of the 23rd, drove through the night, and got to Sunapee early Christmas Eve morning. We parked at the bottom of the driveway so they couldn’t see our car from the house. We all started climbing up the icy, slippery driveway – except for the boys.  They decided to climb up the hill that was covered in snow.

Dad called Grammy and asked her if there were any wild turkeys in her yard (not an unusual question as we ask her that all the time). When she looked out the window, my brothers were almost to her porch. She grabbed her coat and ran out to meet us.

Oh, I almost forgot. While Mom, Dad, the girls and I were walking up the driveway, we met Gumpy. He was salting the driveway. When he saw us, there was no surprise. He just said “Hi” like we lived down the street. (But that is the way my Gumpy is! He is steady, reliable, and the nicest Gumpy I could ever have. I love you, Gumpy!)

We had all day Christmas Eve, and Christmas morning before we had to head home. Before we left home Mom had cooked and cut up our turkey, and we brought it. (So Grammy would not have to feed my 5 ravenous brothers on what she had there. ) We also brought cranberry jelly, crescent rolls, and a bunch of other things.

We put all of the presents under the tree, and hung up all of the stockings – twelve stockings are alot, you know!

We decided to open all of our presents on Christmas Eve, so that we could max out the daylight hours for sledding, making snowmen, and any other outside things that we wanted to do. So we opened our presents and played with them while Gumpy read “Bear Noel” (one of our presents) out loud to us. “Bear Noel” is one of my favorite books to read at Christmastime now! 😀

 
 

When it was time to go to bed, Mom and Dad got the pull-out couch, and we kids got the floor. We woke up early Christmas morning and ate breakfast (cereal with blueberries from their bushes! Yum!!) After that we got all of our snowclothes on, and headed outside. I pulled Indigo (she was 1) in the little sleigh:

 
 
 
 
 
 

Then Grammy took a turn:

Dad and the boys started sledding:

And Hewitt and Dad wiped out almost immediately!!

After that, some of the boys wanted to make a snowman since Grammy had this very cool snowman kit. The boys LOVED making it!

 
 

When it was almost time to leave, we took a picture with all of the stockings:

Mom was taking the picture, and I’m not sure where Dad was… maybe he was loading the car.  Don’t we all look so young?

We had a wonderful Christmas. We still talk about it! Even though it was 4 years ago.  Mom says not to expect to ever surprise anyone for Christmas ever again, but we keep hoping!

 

 

Brett

PJ adds: It really was a wild and crazy thing to do. I love doing totally unexpected things.  With eight children, dairy goats, and a full time business, I don’t get to do it often, but I sure have fun with it when I do!

Ulterior Motives

Everyone around here always loves Christmas. But this year, Brett, Cole, and Emery got really excited about it.

Most of their gifts were very altruistic and something the receiver would really desire. But there were a few that I think were a little bit selfishly motivated.

One of them was the box set of the Toy Story DVDs. The older children have seen Toy Story 1 and 2, but none of the younger children have. And nobody has seen Toy Story 3.

I was planning to write more about some of the other gifts they got, but I’m being summoned. It appears they’re waiting for me to watch Toy Story 2.

See:

 

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It’s good to be needed. Now I just need to get Greyden out of my spot.

 

 

PJ

Read Alouds

OK, I’m about to admit to a very juvenile action on my part. But what can I say? I’m human. LOL

It was a couple of weeks before Christmas and my mom called. She told me what she had gotten for all the boys and the little girls.

Then she said, “I haven’t gotten Brett anything yet. I was thinking of getting her a Nook or a Kindle.”

(This is where the juvenile part comes in).

I admit it. I stood up, stomped my foot (yes, I actually stomped my foot) and outraged, bellowed into the phone, “I’VE BEEN ASKING FOR A NOOK FOR 2 YEARS AND YOU’RE GOING TO GET BRETT ONE!!!???!!!”

Not my best moment. But I guess you don’t always grow up when you’re talking to your mom. LOL

So – guess what I got for Christmas?

Yep! A Nook. (Insert evil grin and gleeful smile – don’t ever tell my children this, but apparently stomping your foot sometimes does work).

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Anyway… not the point of this blog post, but necessary background information.

The first Nook book I bought was… A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I had been wanting to read it aloud to the children, but I couldn’t find our copy. So I bought it for my nook.

We’re currently reading about the Ghost of Christmas Future and the book is a huge hit! The middle children (Greyden, Fletcher, and Emery) are probably the ones enjoying it the most, but even the littles are following along without too much extra explanation. The older ones are definitely catching a lot of the nuances. Emery is actually surprising me, he’s been grasping a lot of the deeper thoughts and really understanding some of the hidden meanings. I’m really proud of him.

I must admit that having the book on the Nook makes reading aloud to the children a lot easier. Because I got the Nook color, it’s backlit, so I can read to the children in the car even if it’s dark out. And I’ve been bringing the Nook with me everywhere, so there have been unexpected times when I’ve been able to read to them. I never did that with actual books, because they always stayed in our living room bookcase.

I foresee us doing a LOT more read alouds this way. The children are all very excited about it, because Mom and Dad reading out loud is one of their favorite things.

I haven’t decided what to read aloud next – I’ve actually been thinking of possibly doing Huckleberry Finn. I haven’t read that in over a decade and it’s one of my favorites. Brett just finished it, so I’ll ask her if she’d be ok with me reading it out loud, or if she wants something different.

Personally, I’m currently enjoying reading the Count of MonteCristo – but definitely not doing that one as a read aloud (even though I got an abridged version which is only 500 pages as opposed to the original 900 pages).

I’d love to hear what some of your family’s favorite read alouds have been. So many great books – so little time!

 

 

PJ

Thoughts on our Hotel

We stayed at the Country Inn & Suites for almost a full week while we were in Pennsylvania selling soap at the PA Christmas show.

We’ve stayed at lots of different hotels since we started doing shows and festivals. The children decided this was their favorite hotel.

They loved the pool and hot tub (of course):

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But they may have enjoyed the breakfasts and juices even more:

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Here’s what they had to say about it:

Jade and Indigo also settled in quickly and had a lot of fun playing:

Of course, now they’re spoiled and won’t ever want to share 3 to a bed again!

 

PJ

Recording Audio

We had a bit of difficulty with the audio recording of our Christmas video.

We had three different recording sessions to try to get it right.

I thought everyone would get a kick out of watching some of the bloopers Jim managed to record:

 

PJ

Almost Christmas

We love the fact that our business is growing. But it has interfered with some of our Christmas traditions. At the very least, it has pushed many of them back from the first half of December to the second half of December.

For example, we finally got our tree up this week. We could have put it up a bit earlier, but it was kept outside at the place we bought it, and so it was covered in a layer of ice from the ice storm. We really didn’t want to bring that in the house, so it sat outside in the sun for 3-4 days waiting for the ice to melt off of it.

I’d like to say that the children were patient.

But they weren’t.

We finally got it up and the children decorated it:

We did do something new this year – a Christmas video. It’s almost finished.

The video part came out great! The audio, unfortunately is a bit rough.

Some of you may know that this video is the singing debut of the Jonas Family.

Some of us are really good.

Some of us (me) are not. LOL

We talked about singing it with head phones on so we could hear the music. But we decided against it b/c of the little kids. We thought we could get close enough to the music singing it a cappella.

Unfortunately we thought wrong.

Actually, Jim and Indigo nailed their parts, and Fletcher and Hewitt did really, really well too.

But our one group sing – it’s pretty bad. LOL Maybe we’ll release the off-key version after we release the on-key version. This assumes of course that we can get on-key in the studio tomorrow when we go in to re-record the audio track.

The result will (hopefully) be awesome audio to go with our awesome video.

Other than finishing the video, we’re ready for Christmas.

Actually, the children are over-ready.

I fear the presents are becoming a bit too tempting:

We actually started unwrapping a few of them in the video (they were in unidentifiable boxes). When we made them stop and started re-wrapping them, Jade and Indigo burst into tears. (Note to self: need to do a better explanation if we ever attempt that again.)

It wouldn’t surprise me if they went into a frenzy and started ripping and tearing off wrapping paper. See the fixation:

Fortunately, it’s almost Christmas!

PJ