Our Large Family Gift Guide

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Each year I have people ask about Christmas in our house and how we handle gift giving.

We prefer to have a few, nice quality, versatile toys and games that we use frequently rather than lots of ‘stuff’.  So when it comes to Christmas gifts we try to be particular about what comes into our home. Generally grandparents and great-grandparents ask for suggestions or give money.

This list only contains items that have proven to stand the test of time. While some of the items on this list will be enjoyed more by certain genders and ages/stages, they are generally pretty fun for kids of a variety of ages and of both genders.

Toys

MASHOONGA Warrior – We got the longer set of these (they are blue and red and about 2″ longer)  for our older boys (12 and 9) last Christmas and plan to get this shorter set for our younger boys (3 and 5) this year.  Mashoonga has rules and scoring, so in addition to having fun whacking each other, the boys can also host Mashoonga tournaments and know who wins the title of Mashoonga Master.

Oball - We’ve had our Oball for several years. We purchased it for one of our babies, but it continues to be a favorite with all the children. The Oball is light  enough to be tossed about in the house, even by bigger kids, with little concern for lamps and pictures hanging on the walls. (Unlike the golf ball that Colby hurled across the room shattering the glass in one of our framed pictures.)

Tri-Link Alarm System and Motion Detector – This is another toy we’ve had around for years that is used by everyone. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been ambushed by flashing lights, wailing alarms and flying darts. The kids rarely tire of  ‘getting’ mom, dad, each other and even company.

This is cyclical. After several weeks of constant use, it will be put up only to be brought out when we least expect it. I would also consider this as a gift for grandads who are young at heart.

Citiblocs Precision Cut Building Blocks – We purchased two sets last year and they have seen nearly daily use since. From simple stacking and elaborate architectural structures to helicopters, trucks and trains all our children enjoy creating with these blocks.

We gave away all our other building blocks and several other building sets after we purchased these. It is that much better!

Omagles – Sorry no link for this because the only way to purchase them is to find them used. I found our complete set at a yard sale for $15. It’s been one of my best purchases. If you see a set, buy it!

This is a building set that allows children to build kid sized furniture, ladders, vehicles, etc. Our kids have built covered wagons that fit 2-3 children in the bed and 1-2 children in the ‘wagon’ seat, working wheel barrows, desks, even a climbing gym that we used for Nick’s physical therapy (hanging and climbing is a terrific way to promote the flexibility that he so easily loses).

DUPLO and LEGO -  I know that you know about these, but DUPLO and LEGO sets are certainly worth having.  We prefer the basic sets similar to the ones I linked. We have one box full of DUPLOs and one full of LEGOS. These provide a nice variety for our children.

Dress ups for girls and dress ups for boys  (We have a couple of the princess dresses

and the fabulous WWII style metal helmet and all are terrific quality and well loved)

Young and old all our children enjoy our variety of dress up clothes.

Games

Bananagrams – This is a fun game for children who are old enough to read and spell. Mark and I enjoy playing even when there are no children around.

Dutch Blitz – Seriously our favorite card game ever. I played this as a child with my family and now we play with ours. No turn taking in this fast paced game of quick wits an concentration.

I linked to a two-pack because a single set only allows for four players. You can customize your Dutch Blitz games to allow for more players by using a Sharpie marker to add black lines (or dots, or circles) to the back of each additional set of cards. (You’ll understand once you know how to play.)

Cranium Family Fun Game – Having children a wide variety of ages makes it difficult to find a game that everyone can play together.  This game allows just that.

Tools

Hand tools – Hammers, saws, screwdrivers, pliers, tape measures, etc. with a tool box to store it all in.   Our boys love being able to help around the house with their own tools. We also try to keep them supplied with scrap wood and they are usually in the midst of some building project, whether it’s a chair, a trash can or an outdoor fort.

Wood Carving – There are only a few basic things that are needed to begin wood carving. Our boys started with a sharp wood carving knife, a couple of gouges and protective equipment. Although I’ve linked to some carving supplies, I strongly suggest you visit a local wood carving shop for instructions and more information.

We recently had friends, with more equipment and know-how than us, invite our boys over for an evening spent making a beautiful bow. We had it strung, bought some arrows and now they have a real bow and arrow rather than the stick and rubber band contraptions they’ve used for years.

Knitting and Crocheting – Knitting needles or crochet hooks and yarn are all that’s needed for your kids to spend hours creating all types of clothing and accessories. Our children have made  blankets, scarves, hats, potholders, vests, dishcloths, gloves, dolls and more.

If you’re a beginner you can learn to knit for free at  KnittingHelp.com. KnittingHelp.com offers dozens of free videos that cover all the basics and some not-so-basics. Also, you can find hundreds of free patterns on Ravelry.com.  Ravelry is completely free, but does require membership.

Sewing – One of our girls has this this inexpensive, basic sewing machine. We also have two very basic Singer machines (I’ve had mine since college).

We initially purchased Stitches and Pins: A Beginning Sewing Book  for our girls.  It provided them with the basics and they are learning the rest through experience.

Our girls love Sense and Sensibility Patterns  and have made several lovely items that they wear frequently.

Patterns, material and equipment all make great, useful gifts.

Cooking – Cast iron, stoneware, quality knives and other kitchen tools make nice gifts for aspiring chefs.

Experiences

Classes – Music, sewing, cooking, wood carving; classes of all types make wonderful gifts which don’t take up a lick of space in your home and may provide you and/or your children with a useful skill.

Family passes – We’ve had family passes to the zoo, the aquarium and even to Dollywood. These are some of our favorite gifts.

Special times – Think of creative ways to spend time with your kids and set that time apart.

For one of Amber’s birthdays we planned a series of ‘knitting nights’. Amber and I both chose a knitting project (the supplies were part of her gift) and then on a certain night of the week we took a special snack or supper downstairs and spent the evening alone knitting and chatting.

Books, CDs and DVDs

If I tried to list all of these, this post would never end, but here are a few of our favorites.

Books

CDs

  • Jonathan Park – Lots of creation science told throughout these edge of your seat adventures.
  • Shakspeare on CD produced by Arkangel – These are complete and unabridged and are excellent. They have inspired our children down through the 11 year old to begin reading Shakespeare on their own. (Our current family favorite is” The Comedy of Errors”.)
  • Jamie Soles music – I’ve told you about these before and they are still favorites.
  • Tales of American Heroines – Stories of American Heroines told in their own words.

DVDs

  • Planet Earth – There are evolutionary presuppositions in this series, but they are not blatant and in our opinion the good far outweighs this bias. One can’t help but marvel at the wonders of God’s creation caught, often for the first time ever on film.
  • Moody Science Series – Even though these were made many years ago the information is still fascinating. If your children are accustomed to today’s fast-paced cartoons, video games and other media, these may not hold their attention. However, these are some of our children’s favorites, even our youngest children (and our copies so old they are  VHS tapes).
  • Fireproof – One of Nicholas’ (3) favorite movies. Our children all love the story and humor in this film about one man’s commitment to saving his marriage.
  • Bella – Part of the inspiration for our youngest daughters name, our family has enjoyed this movie’s message of life since it first appeared in the theaters. (Please preview before showing to your children as the film deals with unwanted pregnancy outside of marriage, abortion and death.)

This years wish list

Trampoline (!?) – We haven’t done the research on this yet, but if you have input, you like or don’t like what  you own or you want to warn us not to get one because of all the broken bones in our future, feel free to weigh in. :)

Missionary Jungle Doctor – book series

The Runner from Ravenshead – DVD

Lamplighter Radio Theater – CD

What are some of your top gift picks for a large (or not so large) family?

 

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46 Responses to Our Large Family Gift Guide
  1. Sam @ Sam's Noggin
    November 16, 2011 | 8:20 am

    We bought a trampoline with tax money this year. The kids love it, and even with 6, we so far have no broken bones. We have rules, and they follow them. :)

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    That is excellent to know, thanks for your input. May I ask what your rules are? :)

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    Sam @ Sam's Noggin Reply:

    We ask that only half of the children be on at once (unless they are just looking at the stars or something). This one is followed 80% of the time. When they break it, they don’t seriously jump much. We also ask that all big kids watch out for small ones, and to quit jumping if someone falls.

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    Anne Reply:

    When you look at getting a trampoline make sure it is good quality and that you can source spare parts. we have had one for only three years and it is going to hard rubbish this year as it has rusted and the mat is beginning to tear. The net only lasted one year and the safety mat over the springs went moldy in the first year. Don’t get me wrong, the kids love the trampoline but i wish that i had spent the extra money and bought a good one. (ours was a Target special in the Christmas sales). we are now looking at getting a springfree. hoping it will be a better buy!!

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  2. Lisa Wilkinson
    November 16, 2011 | 8:24 am

    I love this list!!! we have MANY of the items on your list which is unique for us, since we are choosy and have less things and simple toys, games, etc. I find what we do have is truly loves and played with. Also, Planet Earth is our most requested family night movie (although there may be some arguing over which one :) ). Hope your family has a VERY Merry Christmas!!

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  3. Cari Wieve
    November 16, 2011 | 8:59 am

    We have a trampoline. LOVE IT! But I don’t recommend it for family’s who have a dad that is a bit of a risk taker. All I will tell you is pool+tramp= lots of laughs and a broken tramp LOL

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  4. Connie Sue Jacobs
    November 16, 2011 | 9:01 am

    We found a trampoline at a second hand store. With the safety net and pad we had to buy to go with it, it perhaps would have been cheaper to buy a new one. Live and learn!

    We love it! I can’t tell you how many hours the kids have spent out on it. We have changed the rules over time and with how well the kids have been responsible with them. No serious accidents so far.

    Happy Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas to you.

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  5. Courtney
    November 16, 2011 | 9:28 am

    We bought a used trampoline a few months ago from a fellow homeschool mom. BEST $50 we ever spent! I had invisioned trips to the emergency room, but so far no injuries. And, we don’t even have the net.

    We do allow more than one child on at a time. If the bigger ones want to jump higher or whatever, we’ll make them take individual turns.

    I am concerned with them landing on their neck, so basically our biggest rule is you have to stay upright, you may land on your feet, hands and knees or rear end. ABSOLUTELY NO landing upside down.

    So far, it has been a great investment. AND, it is a great workout for moms, too.

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  6. Natalie
    November 16, 2011 | 9:34 am

    We bought our children a trampoline three years ago for Christmas with the safety net etc. It is BY FAR the best Christmas gift we have ever invested in. They jump on it every single day…all ages…and absolutely never get tired of it. Three solid years. It’s great exercise…and they’ve made up many fun games on that thing as well. I was very nervous about it at first. Now, I don’t know how we’d live without it. : )

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  7. Carissa
    November 16, 2011 | 9:49 am

    Thanks so much for this wonderful list! We have a trampoline, and it’s great. No injuries or trips to the ER, yet. :) We pretty much implement the same rules others have shared about limiting the number of kids on there at once, having the big kids watch out for the littles, and not allowing lots of flips and acrobatics, etc. Depending on the weather where you live, be prepared to replace the pad (that covers the springs), and the net, every couple of years. They get dry rot and sort of begin to disintegrate, at least where we live. Some people also take their tramps down during the winter, if they get lots of snow.

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  8. Tiffany
    November 16, 2011 | 9:57 am

    The Runner from Ravenshead is a family favorite in our home! GREAT for the family!

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  9. Alene
    November 16, 2011 | 9:57 am

    My husband is an ER nurse – we will never have a trampoline.

    That said, I know how amazingly fun and what kid magnets they are. We have friends who ‘sank’ theirs into the ground. They dug a hole and the trampoline sits in it, flush with the ground. That would help. It would also make it instantly accessible to small people to whom you might want to deny/limit access. That would not help.

    I would also encourage VERY STRICT rules regarding the number of children who can be on it at one time. ONE! Well, one if they are bouncing. If they are just sitting on it, chatting or reading, there could safely be several.

    Trampolines drive me crazy. They make me feel deserving of the “world’s meanest mummy” award, but we’ve just seen too, too much to have one. I read the other comments, and think “My poor kids! If only they had some of these FUN parents…”

    [Reply]

    Rachel Reply:

    As a former ER nurse, I agree. The three things our home will never own: trampoline, backyard pool, 4-wheeler. Trampolines are the leading cause of broken necks in children, drowning (of course) and 4 wheelers flip and crush kids (dirt bikes on the other hand will break limbs, but rarely cause death) Doing CPR on just 1 dead child makes the “fun” factor insignificant in these choices. (my “poor” kids too!)

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  10. Tammy
    November 16, 2011 | 9:59 am

    TRAMPOLINES:
    We have 8 boys and a girl. Just for the record … we have had a trampoline for over 10 years and have never had an accident.

    I have been a Mom for 20 years now and never had one broken bone in my children (until recently when my son broke a bone at school and another broke a bone by running in front of a moving bike). The Emergency Room Doctors told me that they rarely see trampoline related accidents. It is the MONKEY BARS that are #1 on their list of injuries.

    Thought you might like to know..

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  11. Jenny
    November 16, 2011 | 11:12 am

    DEFINITELY get the trampoline!!!!! I grew up with one and my children have had one since our oldest child was 3! Not only a constant source of entertainment (even in the winter), but also a great form of exercise! And we’ve never had a single broken bone….which I’m convinced is because they’ve grown up on it and have learned to respect it from a young age ;D

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  12. Noel
    November 16, 2011 | 11:41 am

    Get the trampoline!! Seriously, we have had one for 7 years – it’s the gift that keeps giving. Please make sure you purchase the side nets that go with it, we knew a boy who was paralyzed after a fall off a trampoline. Our kids jump off the sides as much as the bottom :) It’s also a great break for the boys after a couple hours of work in school. They’ll jump and jump and then they’re ready to hit the books again (we homeschool). It’s a great gift. When the side netting tears, use a bit of black yarn to “stitch” it back up and you’ll add a few more years of use to the trampoline. Have fun!

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  13. norma
    November 16, 2011 | 11:44 am

    my basic rule for the trampoline is to watch out for younger siblings and to get off if the young ones walk under the trampoline so they dont get smashed

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    Jana Reply:

    Yes! Also, if a child is under the trampoline (a no-no) and another child jumps, the child on the trampoline will (trust me!) break both bones in his leg! All of this will happen on the 4th of July, and praise God the girl under the tramp didn’t get her neck broken. The child who had been under the tramp was on it the year before on July 3rd with her father and he bounced her. She wound up with 3 surgeries to correct her broken ankle that was broken near the growth plate. Sorry to be a Scrooge about the tramp!

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  14. Stephanie Kjensrud
    November 16, 2011 | 11:50 am

    Before you get a trampoline check with your insurance company is my only warning. We have freinds that had their policy cancelled when they found out they had one in their yard. But they are always great fun.

    But with are 5 kiddos everyone always gets new tennies (their back to school ones are ususally to small by now or full of holes), nice winter socks, a movie they really liked during the year (we usually make a few big car trips after the holidays so this is handy) and new crayons and pencils for either their desk at school or home use. Each kiddo gets something fun but they look forward to these basics and many of them are things we would have to get any way so kill two birds with one stone.

    [Reply]

    Stephanie Reply:

    My neighbors had their policy canceled too…

    [Reply]

    Julie Johnston Reply:

    We could never have one growing up because of my parent’s insurance….plus my sister and I were gymnasts and my parents knew we would try out new tricks at home:) For that reason it was a good choice to not purchase us one! I’ve been told by bone doctors that they see tons of broken bones from bunk bed accidents, but we still put our kids in bunk beds. There are risks everywhere….I suppose you just have to decide which risks you are willing to take! We may get our kids a trampoline, and the first thing we will do it teach them how to fall properly on it, and have a general rule of no sprinkler under it or hose on it…way too slippery! My biggest concern is unattended neighborhood kids coming over and using it when we aren’t home and getting hurt.

    [Reply]

    Julie Johnston Reply:

    And I should add, it is homeowners insurance, not health insurance that was the biggest problem!

    [Reply]

  15. Brittany
    November 16, 2011 | 12:11 pm

    Oh my goodness I played Dutch Blitz as a kid too!! My brother and I would wake up REALLY early in the morning before school to have “competitions”. Hehe. We now play a card game called Spit with regular playing cards and it’s pretty much the exact same. LOVE IT! My brother and I had a trampoline growing up. I broke my toe but that’s all. Haha. It was fun! I think if my kids ever have one, I will get that protective screen that goes around it so they can’t fall off.

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  16. Lois J
    November 16, 2011 | 1:01 pm

    We used our children’s birthday/Christmas money and bought a new Bazoongi trampoline 1.5 yeasr ago, and I say, too, that it was one of our best investments for our 4 young children, ages 2-7. I was nervous about trampolines so it HAD to have an enclosure. I LOVE it!! I don’t worry about the little ones jumping on there, as long as their big brothers help them on/off. We have had to buy a new enclosure after a year (w/ some sleuthing they aren’t that expensive) due to tears. My children depend on that net quite a bit and it gets a bit abused/misused! :) Get a big one, at least 14-15′, or more. You won’t regret it.
    We also have another riding toy I highly recommend. That’s a Wiggle Scooter. They have spent hours on that thing in our garage (when it’s rainy), along with regular scooters. The Wiggle Scooter is very popular with visiting children, too, since it seems most have never seen one. They range from $50 – $70 new. I used PayPal points to help buy ours.
    Love your list of suggestions.

    [Reply]

  17. Rachel Q
    November 16, 2011 | 1:40 pm

    Go for the trampoline! My parents love to gift my children…with lots of stuff. However, big family plus small house equals chaos. I begged them to try not to get so much stuff. So my mom asked if they could get them a trampoline. I shuddered, hating to always say no, but the idea of the trampoline turned my stomach. Now I am so glad we agreed. I am glad we have the safety net, and the children know not to jump when the babies happen to walk underneath. Daddy loves it…and he was more hesitant than I…the cousins come over and jump…it’s just been good. I also like fun activity gifts, too. We’ve done Creation Museum, Kennywood Amusement Park, etc. And there was a nice swingset thrown in the mix that the children received earlier this year.

    Thank you for sharing your list. We’re working on getting ours together so that it will be both fun and reasonable. I agree that better quality, smaller amounts is the way to go!

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  18. Amy
    November 16, 2011 | 1:57 pm

    We have had our trampoline for a little over a year now. Our boys (8,5,2) all love it.

    To echo what other commenters have already said:
    - The padding does need to be replaced after a year or so.

    - I also have known a family to “bury” theirs at ground level. I think that not only increases the safety, but the fun! (Just quizzed my 8 yr old and he agrees the ground-level is more fun.) One issue to look out for their is drainage, or we would bury ours!

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  19. Jama
    November 16, 2011 | 3:41 pm

    I look forward to reading the trampoline comments as I would like to have one once we have more space.

    The item in our home that ALL of my children (ages 2-15) play with for hours on end is Playmobil. Yes, I get aggrevated at the tiny pieces and it is expensive, but it is worth it. We’ve given large sets (like the castle) to all the kids as a group gift. I also shop for it on eBay and at garage sales.

    Another item that all the kids enjoy is Wedgits. I’m considering purchasing one of the specialty sets this year.

    Duplos/legos get played with a lot as do our Lincoln Logs. We have the Duplo police station and doll house which I have been very pleased with.

    [Reply]

  20. The Momma@The Straightened Path
    November 16, 2011 | 5:03 pm

    Love this list. How do you get your family to cooperate? If they don’t what do you do with the mass of unwanted toys at the end of the holiday?
    As for trampolines, my BFF’s father-in-law DIED falling off a trampoline so they are a no go around here.

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  21. Marcy
    November 16, 2011 | 6:17 pm

    Hi, I have a question for your 4 Moms Q&A. Can you speak to the issue of outside activities and educational classes in relation to homeschool? I’m so worn down with running here and there. I really don’t do that much in the grand scheme of things, but when you multiply it by 5 kids, it gets crazy. What guidelines do you use for choosing outside activities? How do you maintain a good balance of outside and home
    activities?

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  22. Jonnie Bernier
    November 16, 2011 | 8:00 pm

    Get the trampoline! I researched trampoline injuries b4 we bought one. From what I read most injuries occur when heavier weight people jump at the same time as lighter weight people(it has something to do with broken legs & knee injuries). our only rule is the big kids can’t jump if the little kids are on the trampoline, & yes I have had to watch out for littlier kids walking under the trampoline when kid are jumping. We have the enclosure net, and have never had any issues, and have lots of kids on it together. Hours of fun & great exercise.

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  23. Lara
    November 16, 2011 | 10:42 pm

    We bought a trampoline several years ago for our kids (only 2 of them). I think it would’ve seen more use if my kids 1) were closer in age and 2) had friends in the neighborhood. We are just in the process of removing the ‘safety’ net as over time the straps that hold it over the uprights have deteriorated (but could probably be replaced annually). It’s a pain to clean leaves off with the net up. DD used to jump on it with toddlers I kept – the rule was she couldn’t bounce hard and if they were really small, she had to hold their hands so they didn’t get bounced hard. Loads of fun, though! You might also google ‘in-ground trampoline’ because then you will have a ground-level tramp and littles won’t be climbing up and down!

    [Reply]

  24. Ellie
    November 17, 2011 | 1:44 am

    I love your list! We have very similar tastes. Ok, personally I say skip the trampoline and think ping-pong table or carpet ball (building it together could be part of the fun too). Also, check out boom whackers, we loved these. Everyone would get one or two, we’d stand around the table with the music in the middle or we’d wing it and try playing a familiar song. Hours of fun!
    Oh, and we grew up playing Dutch Blitz too! The yellow buckets seemed to always win so we named our next pet Lucky Buckets (he was a swan).
    I love your site, thanks for sharing!

    [Reply]

  25. Sarah
    November 17, 2011 | 7:28 am

    Our trampoline was my lifesaver this summer – I live in Texas so its HOT!!! We put a sprinkler under it and the kids had a blast keeping cool. We also made up all kinds of games with the hose – like water tag and the limbo and jumping over the water spray.

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  26. Jama
    November 17, 2011 | 5:52 pm

    FYI, Planet Earth is available through Netflix. Just put it at the top of my list.

    [Reply]

  27. Molly
    November 19, 2011 | 9:29 pm

    I love your gift suggestions. They greatly resemble our “wish lists.” After doing garage sale after garage sale year after year, we have become very selective about what we allow in the house, even for gifts. My absolute favorites are family memberships to the zoo, aquarium, indoor playground (we live in the PacNW with LOTS of rain) and the chidlren’s museum. These provide a full year of “Family Time” days for us and the kids often like to invite whomever gifted the membership to come and enjoy the time with us. Classes are another biggie. Our kids love soccer, but with more than 1 kiddo, the cost does add up. I am absolutely dreading the day that someone gives a Barbie…it is hard to imagine how I would tactfully tell my kiddo she can’t keep or play with it.

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  28. Grateful for Grace
    November 19, 2011 | 11:27 pm

    Great suggestions! I put some in my Amazon cart (using your link… I have one too) and I was able to use a Vision Forum gift cert to get the Missionary Doctor series with that plus the discount! Yea! I’ve had it on my list for awhile and your suggestion reminded me to go ahead and get it while there is a sale. :)

    Blessings!

    [Reply]

    Grateful for Grace Reply:

    P.S. I guess maybe we need to give Jonathan Park another try. We stated with the zoo one and it was soooo dry and boring. A good friend loves it and so does everyone else, so maybe we need to try again.

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  29. Brit @MomAnswersWithBrit.com
    November 21, 2011 | 2:56 pm

    I love the list! We LOVE planet earth. It’s hard to just not marvel at God’s creation, we love it!

    Also, I love that your girls make the sense & sensibility patterns. I LOVE that movie, and I would love if girls went back to wearing dresses like that (just not as much clevage. ;))

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  30. Donna
    December 15, 2011 | 10:38 am

    We have had broken bones from the trampoline. It was due to a big kid jumping with a little one. The little one broke both bones in her arm. The ortho doc told up that the force from a larger person jumping was sufficient to break the bones of a small child. We kept the trampoline, but made a firm rule. No more than 2 people on the trampoline, and they both had to be around the same size. We had no more broken bones after that.

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  31. Natalie
    December 19, 2011 | 11:02 am

    Hi Marcy, We have 6 children, and as our family has gotten larger, we’ve had to limit the amount of outside activities per child to keep our entire family happier and more at peace. In the spring and summer, I allow each child to pick one activity (airplane model club, gymnastics, dance, golf, etc.)and I first check with the scheduling of the activities before I offer the choices to the children. In the winter and fall (because of where we live), the weather makes it more difficult for safe travel and there are lots more illnesses, which take forever to go through large families–so we really restrict our “goings.” However, we’ve found ways around it. See if there are some activities that you could do at your own home. For example, right now I teach our 3 middle children piano. I know enough to teach to a certain level. After they’ve passed that level, then I sign them up with an instructor. Another thing I’ve realized is that a lot of educational “opportunities” for homeschoolers are things I can do at home. For instance, after participating in some coop classes, I realized that we can do the same thing at home (i.e. French lessons, cooking classes, science experiments). It just takes planning and organization, but sure saves money, time, and we’re not exhausted or worn out. We do our field trips (zoo, museums, etc.) on the weekends when Daddy can participate/help. We do take the kids out during the week occasionally, but it’s usually only to nearby things…(within 10 minute drives). Our kids are aged 2 weeks, 3, 6, 7, 9, and 17. Of course, the 17 year old gets rides to her work, college classes, and social events. Eventually she’ll get her license, which will help. Another solution to keeping up with activities–to have carpool help from friends/families to be able to get to activities. So, if this isn’t too confusing—we basically try to pick activities that either the whole family enjoys together (visiting library events, concerts, getting together with another homeschool family once a week, weekend field trips) and limit activities per child to different times of the year, etc.

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  32. Crissi
    December 22, 2011 | 9:19 am

    We’ve had our trampoline now for almost 10 years. We LOVE it! With our 7 kids, I can’t imagine a better form of exercise! (Granted only 6 of them use it (I don’t think our 1 week old is up for it just yet. (o; ), but Daddy and I will get up there for the fun of it!)

    That being said, my doctor looks at me in horror whenever he asks about exercise and we tell him the trampoline. He’s given us all the horror stories that he’s seen involving them. We calmly explain that we have rules that go with the trampoline. Only 2 at a time, no flips, no “stealing another person’s bounce” (one of those things you have to experience), no bouncing into one another. When my nephews come over, we have to basically ban the trampoline b/c they have a tendency to get wild and then get hurt on the thing. Then there is the friend we have who straps his snowboard to his feet (with it wrapped in a towel) and practices his “moves” on his trampoline. They are a GREAT form of exercise for parents too. We will use it as a kind of “reward time” with mom and dad. Bouncing one on one with a child, they LOVE it! They can show you all the neat things they can do, how high they can jump, how fast they can run on it, etc.

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  33. Mindy at Grateful for Grace
    January 17, 2012 | 7:50 pm

    Thank you for the Mashoonga tip. We bought it for our 13yo and he and his 15yo sister play it all the time. It’s in use most days.

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  34. Ces
    January 24, 2012 | 4:14 pm

    We had a 15′ trampoline for 7 years, that was given to us after my husband’s parents were tired of having it in their backyard for several years. It endured heavy use by our 5 oldest boys (of 6), plus my husband, some of the cousins, and neighborhood friends. I am pretty sure my husband made the most use of it, honestly! We finally had to take it down last fall. The frame was finally starting to fall apart. We were given a dome climber (http://www.amazon.com/Easy-Outdoor-Space-Dome-Climber/dp/B001C81DO6/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1327439609&sr=8-3) which is now occupying the trampoline’s space, but we will likely buy a new trampoline when we move into a new house. I think 8+ years is worth the cost!

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  35. Ces
    January 24, 2012 | 4:18 pm

    The only trampoline-related injury any of our kids has ever had was when our second (then 10) jumped off a pool ladder towards his grandparents trampoline, and the ladder fell over. He broke his wrist. I blame that entirely on total lack of supervision – he told them he what he was going to do, too!

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  36. kathy
    January 26, 2012 | 9:26 am

    I have always had issues with trampolines. But have never had one. But our neighbor got one for their son on his 9th birthday. They ask if my son,the same age,could please use it during the birthday party. I felt bad for saying no so I let him. Within 30 minutes they were carrying my son back across the street to me with a broken arm in 2 places. He was in it alone and came done on his arm the wrong way and snap!!!!So needless to say it s a BIG NO in our house.

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  37. Harmony
    April 10, 2012 | 11:30 am

    You can buy Omagles again!

    http://omaglestoys.com/

    Although at $299, I’d still go the garage sale route, lol.

    [Reply]

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