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Scenes from our holiday…

by Meagan Francis on December 29, 2012

I’ve been quiet over the last few weeks while we’ve been neck-deep in holiday-land. I kept meaning to post photos throughout the season, but I guess I was too busy listening to Christmas carols! Now that the post-Christmas hubbub is dying down, I thought I’d share some of what our family has been up to this holiday season:

Clara Christmas Lights

The tree went up a few weeks ago, kicking off the annual “do we use the LED lights or old-fashioned warm white lights on the tree” debate. The LED lights won because we were able to locate more of them  and though at first I was reluctant (tradition!), I have to admit I’ve come to appreciate their gentle bluish glow.

Meagan Clara
Clara and I dressed up all fancy-like and went to see The Nutcracker.


We went to my mother-in-law’s house to celebrate Christmas with my husband’s side of the family, where we played a lot, and I mean a LOT, of Settlers of Catan.

ice skating

I went ice skating with William and Owen’s classes and didn’t fall down once! (I hadn’t skated in over 20 years, so that was no small feat.)

While wrapping gifts, I found – and finally used – some ribbon that my mother bought at a Big Wheel for 99 cents in the late 70s or early 80s and that I’ve been carrying around all these years. It felt really strange, but good.


Our puppy Renly acted goofy a lot, but only chewed up two ornaments. I considered that a pretty good number.

Christmas Play

On Christmas Eve, William and Owen played Joseph and the donkey, respectively, in the church nativity play. It was about as adorable as you’d expect. (Clara was supposed to have the role of Mary, but declined in favor of playing a mouse.)

Later that night we opened our customary Christmas Eve gift (PJs for all!) and our family gift (the Settlers of Catan expansion pack) and then settled in for snacks and more family Catan-playing. (It’s becoming an obsession.)

After checking in with NORAD and finding that Santa was in South America, the kids scurried off to bed and Jon and I got down to important Santa-preparation business.


The dogs just watched.



In the morning, we unwrapped what seemed like an endless bounty of gifts. While there were only a handful of presents for each child, when you’ve got a family of seven that pile stacks up fast. We were able to get the kids some nice things and for that I feel extremely blessed.

One of the “Wow” gifts was this rather ridiculous three-story Disney Princess castle. I had assumed I’d go the crunchy mom route and get Clara a wooden dollhouse with sturdy furniture and neutral-faced dolls. But in the end, this pink and purple madness, with moving parts and eight million plastic pieces, won out (it was on sale! and it was so PINK!)

I think as I’ve come along as a mom, I’ve realized that sometimes there’s a lot of value in giving kids the gift they would really want, as opposed to the one I wish they would want. And that not every toy purchase has to say something about me or my mothering style or values. Sometimes a toy is just fun, and this one got a big reaction. (Even 15-year-old Jacob wanted to play with it.)

(Plus, I still remember going to bed dreaming about the Strawberry Shortcake Purple Pieman house every single night the year I turned four, and the Barbie Dream House I never got, so maybe there was a bit of latent “making up for lost childhood toys” going on, too. Which I also think is totally OK.)


I just wanted to share this picture of Isaac because he looks so handsome.

The kids weren’t the only ones who got great gifts. I got some nice stuff, including the Muk Lucks that were in our Holiday Gift Guide and a clay cooking pot called a tagine. (I went into more detail about my kitchen-oriented gifts over at The Kitchen Hour.)


Since Christmas Day, we’ve done a lot of hanging out, relaxing, eating, and yes, more Catan. CATAAAAAN! We can’t stop. I almost never win, but I will play five games in a row anyway. (We’re collecting those vintage Michigan tourism glasses in the picture, by the way, so if you have a hot lead on any more let me know!)

Today my family starts arriving for our annual New Year’s celebration, which lasts three or four days and involves a whirlwind of children (ten in addition to mine), food and drinks, singing and dancing, and this year, I’m guessing, more Catan. So now I’m off to make beds, do an inventory of our food situation, and start getting ready for guests. It’s a good time.

The blog will probably be quiet this week as we all enjoy our last week of break, but make sure to check back after January 1 as we’ll be getting right back to the business of being a happier mom in the New Year! Happy holidays, everyone, and I hope you’re enjoying rest, good food and lots of cheer.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Tragic Sandwich December 29, 2012 at 2:26 pm

I think my favorite pictures are the ones of your home–it looks like such a comfortable place to spend time!


Meagan Francis January 2, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Thank you! It’s a work in progress for sure :) but I like it that way.


Sybil December 29, 2012 at 2:39 pm

What a great post, and a beautiful family! I had to laugh and nod my head about the princess castle. You hit the nail on the head!


Tegan December 29, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Our family loves Catan as well…not hard to become obsessed about it! We, too, played a lot over the holidays! Happy New Year!!


Mama December 29, 2012 at 3:09 pm

I love your Christmas celebration! You know, we give pajamas as a Christmas Eve gift, too, but I love the idea of a family gift! Maybe I’ve discovered a new tradition. Thanks!

Happy New Year!


Danielle December 30, 2012 at 8:42 pm

I wanted the purple pieman house too!! I didn’t get it either ;). Oh well can’t wait to compensate when my little girl is a bit bigger.


Nina December 31, 2012 at 12:54 pm

I love when my family gets obsessed over a game and just plays it over and over during the holidays :) Those memories are priceless. Have a great new year!


Renata January 2, 2013 at 11:17 am

Love it. Although I have no idea of what CATAN is. lol.
I want that castle too (probably for myself!)! But these things are insanely pricey here, it cost over 1,000, believe it or not…
Oh, and your boy is very handsome indeed. Let me know if you want to arrange an international wedding 20 years from now, I have 2 little brazilian girls :)


Meagan Francis January 2, 2013 at 3:32 pm

Renata, are you in Brazil? I’ve read that it can be really hard to get stuff in South America that is easy to come by here.


Renata January 2, 2013 at 6:03 pm

Yes, I am in Brazil. I am from Rio de Janeiro (but sadly don’t live there anymore). We do have most of those great toys here, but they are SO expensive. The good side is that it is easier for me to control the toy clutter!
I discovered your blog today and I am IN LOVE. lol. I had 2 little breaks today and took it to read your posts, you are already on my favorites!


Renata January 2, 2013 at 5:50 pm

Yes, I am in Brazil. I am from Rio de Janeiro (but sadly don’t live there anymore). We do have most of those great toys here, but they are SO expensive. The good side is that it is easier for me to control the toy clutter!
I discovered your blog today and I am IN LOVE. lol. I had 2 little breaks today and took it to read your posts, you are already on my favorites!


Lindsey January 3, 2013 at 4:22 pm

Our kids got Catan Junior for Christmas this year, and they’ve been equally obsessed. It’s a really good version for younger folks. Even our 4 year old can play with some assistance, and our 6 year old regularly wins.


Jenna February 4, 2013 at 9:37 am

Hello! I somehow ended on your blog via and I love your posts! Great postson here! Where on earth did you get those pj’s for your older son? I am looking for something like that for my 12 year old. He has been asking for those for quite some time. I’m glad my kids aren’t the only ones who love those pj’s!



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