They may not be perfect little angels all the time, but believe me when I say that Ian and I often look at our little brood and feel blessed beyond what we can express. I mean, they are precious children of God and we have been given the amazing privilege of raising them.
For the most part, parenting this crew is relatively easy. They are bright, sweet, funny and loving. And 90% of the time the description loving includes them loving each other.
But in that 10% of the time that it doesn't? Well...intervention is key.
While we recognize that most of the harmony in our house is a blessing from the one who knit our family together, Ian and I do make additional efforts to foster a sense of shared community in our home. Two years ago we stumbled upon one way of fostering community among the kids when we wanted to invest in a large doll house and a train table. The only thing we couldn't figure out was how to 'assign' them if they were given individually. Besides, we were envisioning seeing our girls play side by side at the doll house and two boys rolling trains around the Island of Sodor on their train table. That year each child got a small gift individually, but the highlight of their Christmas gifts were the big ones to share with their siblings. For hours that winter the doll house was a place of common play and after Daniel came home the next summer, it made my heart smile to see both boys lost in the world of Thomas the Tank engine.
And so 'shared gifts' became part of the M family Christmas. The biggest challenge in the 'shared gift' theory is finding something that is equally desired by both children who will be sharing it. The girls this year were pretty easy ~ though next year when we have girls age 7, 6 & 4 at home I imagine it will be more difficult. A year later, Kylie has continued to play frequently with Tipi (from Laos), her Hearts for Hearts doll, that she received from us last Christmas. About three months ago, Darcy began to ask for her own Hearts for Hearts doll, so we decided to capitalize on their common interest.
Darcy was thrilled to receive Nahji (from India) as her main gift from us...
...while Ky was very happy to open new clothes for Tipi as her smaller gift.
Continuing on the doll theme, and a family love for camping, their shared gifts were a camping set and a slumber party set for their dolls.
The rest of the day of the 23rd ~ our little family Christmas, simply too much to carry down to Mama's for Christmas day ~ the girls were engrossed in taking Tipi and Nahji camping.
And then there was the boys. This year they were a little more difficult to shop for as their interests are beginning to diverge. Caleb is more into pretend role play and was thrilled to receive his play camping set...
...while Daniel still prefers well known characters and couldn't believe his luck when a fruit gummy box yielded Larry Boy and his Larry-Mobile.
One thing though that still draws our boys together are cars, and the faster the better.
(Though Caleb did just about break my heart about four days before Christmas when he patiently explained to me, "You know Mommy, I really don't like Lightning McQueen anymore. He's too babyish. I like the Avengers now.")
Thankfully McQueen is still cool enough when he provides a seat to race from!
|Back in September I could hardly believe my luck when I found this blow up McQueen car at BJ's. It was the last one they had and the box was ripped, so they had it marked down to $5. Yes, as in FIVE BUCKS!|
**If anyone has any leads on fashionable clothing for 14 inch dolls, I'd love to know. While the Hearts for Hearts clothing is reasonably priced, there is a very limited selection.**