Christmas · Kids

Stories of Yuletide Cheer: The Trampoline

I’m taking a departure from (ir)regular project posts to share a heartwarming story from our family’s Christmas season of Yuletide Cheer! (sarcasm, friends, lots of sarcasm)

backyard trampoline

Husband and I decided to get the kids a trampoline for Christmas. Two of The Boy’s friends have trampolines, and it’s his most favorite thing to do when he’s at their houses. And The Girl has always loved going to the trampoline park. Husband and I were pretty proud of ourselves for thinking of this – it would be a HUGE hit, and Santa wouldn’t even be getting the credit – WE would!

Without even thinking of measuring, we ordered it from Amazon late one night and were thrilled that it would be delivered in just a few days! (Fast forward to Christmas Eve, when Husband and I are bundled up, assembling this 15 ft diameter behemoth and trimming our landscaping IN THE DARK because the trampoline doesn’t fit anywhere in our backyard. But now we’ve got 176.71 square feet of jumping pleasure, so it’s totally fine.)

(See kids? You will totally use those geometric formulas in the future. Area of circle = pi r squared. BOOM.)

I started making plans about how to hide the boxes in the garage, and the day it was due to arrive, I wouldn’t let the kids go outside or walk up to the door without me checking first.

Sidebar: For the past few years, Husband and I have followed the Want, Need, Wear, Read idea for gifts for the kids – they get 4 gifts from us that fall into these categories. They know what to expect, they get the same number of presents, and they even help brainstorm ideas for these categories. BB had already started giving us suggestions for things. Like a lightweight raincoat.

Well, the night of the trampoline delivery, it still hadn’t arrived, and I had book club. I told Husband to listen for the delivery, and we discussed where we could hide the boxes.

When I pulled into the garage that night, the headlight beams hit the enormous boxes, which said “TRAMPOLINE BOX 1 OF 2” and “TRAMPOLINE BOX 2 OF 2” in huge letters on the side, right out in the middle of the garage.

Me (coming into the house): So, we need to go move the trampoline boxes.

Husband (reading a book): The kids have already seen them.

Me: WHAT?! Why did you let them see them??

Husband: Well, when I saw the delivery guy walking up the path, I opened the door, and he said, “HEY! I’ve got a TRAMPOLINE here for ya!”

Me: (speechless)

Me: (still no words)

Me: Are you freaking kidding me?? It’s December 11th!! What on earth does he think the trampoline is for? A purchase for ourselves? Just for FUN??

Husband: Well, he did say, “Uh, I mean, maybe this is for neighbors….?”

Me: (expletive)

Me: So, where were the kids when he was saying all of this?

Husband: They were in The Boy’s room, but they heard it all pretty clearly.

Me: And? What did they say??

Husband: Actually, they seemed a little confused. They DID hear him say “neighbor”, and I told them I didn’t really know anything about it.

Me: Crap. So, what are we going to do?

Husband (going back to his book): We don’t have to do anything right now.

Me (pacing and pulling my hair and gnashing my teeth): What? Yes we do! We need a plan! We need to have this figured out before they wake up in the morning. They will ask about it immediately.

Husband: Nah, I think it’s fine. They probably won’t even remember it in the morning.


I immediately text-vent to two friends about the situation and about the INCOMPETENCY of the delivery man. I also text our neighbor that has kids to see if maybe we can come up with a “story” (read: bald-faced lie) to tell our kids. We are in luck! The neighbors do not have a trampoline, so we are going to tell our kids that we are storing it for the neighbors for Christmas and that the kids CANNOT tell their kids about it because it’s a surprise.

I’m still feeling shaky and grumpy about the whole thing, but I am finally able to go to sleep.

In the morning, as soon as The Boy walks out of his room:

The Boy: MOM! Did you know there’s a trampoline in our garage?

Me: Yeah, I saw that.

B: Do you know whose it is?

Me: Yes, it’s The Bartlett’s trampoline. Daddy said Mr. Bartlett got it for their kids, and we are storing it for them until Christmas.

B: Oh, phew! Thank goodness! I didn’t want a trampoline!

Me: What? You don’t want a trampoline?

B: Yeah, because, if I got a trampoline, I would only maybe have one present under the tree. And I REALLY want that raincoat.

Me: (speechless)


Editor’s Note: The children LOVE the trampoline. Both of them. They’ve spent hours and hours on it already, making up funny moves and tricks and inventing games with stress balls and duct tape and having Nacho Libre wrestling matches – I don’t even know. Anyway, it was a huge hit, and Husband and I are the BEST PARENTS EVER.

At least for this month.

Editor’s Note #2: What is happening in the world that delivery truck drivers announce their packages when they arrive? I mean, it’s less than two weeks before Christmas. You haven’t been trained to deliver packages as covertly as possible?! And is it only during the holidays, or will all packages start being announced? “HEY! I’ve got that PLUNGER you ordered right here!” or “ALRIGHT! Looks like you’re getting some LICE TREATMENT today! Lucky you!”


Editor’s Note #3: Before you think The Boy was the only one acting a little bit ungrateful (unknowingly, of course), another story:

This year, we also decided to let the kids spend their own money on gifts for each other. I thought this might be met with some resistance, but they LOVED the idea. I told them they could spend a max of $5 of their allowance money, and I took each kid shopping individually. It was actually really sweet – The Girl picked out a small pack of Pokemon cards for The Boy, and The Boy picked out a little Hatchimal for The Girl – very thoughtful gifts that showed they really know each other. But then, the very next day, The Girl and I are at Target, and she happens to see the display of little Hatchimals that The Boy shopped from, and she says, “You know, I’d never really want one of those little ones. They are just too small.”


Editor’s Note #4: She LOVES the little Hatchimal. She was so touched that he picked it out for her, and it didn’t leave her side, day or night, for a week.

Editor’s Note #5: My lesson in all this? Don’t ever believe anything your children say.


Christmas · five things

Five Things

Twig Star Christmas Decor

Hello! Happy Friday! How’s your week been? The kids have had mild colds (lasting only a day), but it was enough to call in sick for a day each. It was a great time to slow down, rest, and just putter around at home. (And I’m not sure, but I think one of the kids exaggerated her cold just to stay in PJs all day.) The rest of the week has been full of projects, getting ready for Christmas, and planning BG’s birthday. It’s so hard to not get overwhelmed this time of year, but I’m really trying to take time, soak in the moments, and focus on the true meaning of the holiday.

However, last week, I found myself at Target almost every day, including two Targets in two other cities. On Friday, BG and I were in one of these other Targets because it was close to an antique shop I wanted to visit. While we wandered the aisles, we both noted the pretty displays this Target had in between some of the aisles. Reminding me of pretty department store displays, the vignettes made me remark, “Wow! This Target is prettier than our Target.”

Without skipping a beat, BG put her hand to her cheek and, out of the corner of her mouth, remarked, “You better not let the OTHER Target hear you say that!”

Here are a few things on my mind this week:


1.Winter Solstice Radio on Pandora. I enjoy Christmas music. Now, not before Thanksgiving, mind you, but once Friday rolls around, I’m in. Vince Guaraldi, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, The Partridge Family, all of it. But sometimes it’s just too much. A few years ago, I found the Winter Solstice station on Pandora, and it is lovely. I play it in the morning while my coffee is brewing, when I light candles after dinner, when the kids are getting ready for bed. It’s a good mix of soft, instrumental versions of holiday classics as well as beautiful original pieces inspired by winter. It is a sane-maker in the midst of the crazy, and goes toward my winter-long goals of hygge.

2. This candle. We have two fireplaces, but we never use them. Instead, we light candles. This is my new favorite. While it’s nothing fancy (I got it on one of the 157 Target runs I’ve made recently), this scent feels like a cabin in the woods. I light it every morning and every night. More hygge.

3.Christmas Projects. I’m obsessed. I can’t stop. I made a list, and I’m going through it one by one. I’ve posted a couple on Instagram. Here are a few so far:

christmas tree galvanized tub

The galvanized bucket/tree trunk combination for our tree

burlap christmas card display

Burlap ribbon for holiday cards – such a simple thing that will keep our cards organized and pretty all season long.


twig star christmas decoration

Twig star – A huge branch on one of our pine trees broke last week. Husband and the kids sawed it up, and I snagged a few branches to create a star. I used zip ties to secure the ends, and then I used a natural yarn to cover the ties and to secure the cross points. Husband calls it our Blair Witch Christmas decor. I still like it anyway.

pom pom tree

Pompom decorations – Our mantel got a little updating with our JOY banner and some red pompoms on our little tree branch. BB and BG made most of them using these – a fun project for a rainy afternoon.


And the Advent calendar – Since I didn’t actually finish it until January, this is our first year using it. BG and BB alternate days for getting the ornaments and putting them on our advent tree. It’s a sweet part of our day. And can I just say what a huge relief it was to get out the ornaments and not think, “When are you going to finish this project, Nicole?!” DONE! Check. Next?

4. This was fascinating. It’s a 15+minute watch, but totally worth it.

5. This made me laugh. And this.

What are you up to this weekend? It’s Family Movie Night, and we’re trying to stick to Christmas movies for December. (Last week was Elf. Any other suggestions?) We’ve also got holiday cocktail party coming up, BG is singing at church, and we’re attending a Christmas musical. Hope your weekend is a good mix of celebrations and cozy moments. Thanks for reading!

Christmas · DIY · Home

Oh Christmas Tree!

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!”

I sing this in my head about 800 times each day. Sometimes, I mean it, and I’m rejoicing in the fun and excitement of the Christmas season.

But I also sing it in my head with a heavy side of sarcasm when the kids are arguing over who gets to hang which ornament on the tree or the woman in front of me at check out is angry with the cashier or when we’re running late for school because someone decided to reread ALL the Christmas books instead of brushing his teeth.

My Christmas tree project for this year is a combination of both, the rejoicing and the sarcasm. But mostly rejoicing.

Elf and Christmas Tree

Confession: We have a fake tree. I grew up with a fake tree, Husband grew up with a fake tree, it’s normal for us. Where we live, we are an anomaly. A favorite outing for most people this time of year is the trek to the local (or even not-so-local, in the mountains) tree farm to cut your own tree and bring it home. We did this for several years, but some Christmases we spend here at home and some we don’t, and it’s hard to buy a tree knowing that you won’t even be enjoying it on Christmas Day, and it will just be a pile of dead needles when you return from a cross-country flight, exhausted, with two exhausted children. So last year, we bit the bullet and bought a lovely pre-lit tree from Lowe’s. And we love it. (Especially the glow it gives while we watch Christmas movies snuggled up on the couch.)

But I had a plan for this year, a “VISION”. (Because, another confession: I had to wash our tree skirt multiple times last year because our kitty in her old age, mistook it for her litter box.) (Rest in peace, Molly.)

Playful Country Christmas Tree | Photographer Stacey Brandford | House & Home | #christmastree #redandgreen #holidaydecor:

I knew this would work. And then I just couldn’t get the idea out of my head. It’s so cute.

I measured our tree stand and searched online for a galvanized tub that would accommodate its diameter.

Wow! That’s almost as much as our tree cost.

So I did what I always do – I added it to my Thrift Wish-List.

In November, I still hadn’t found one, but then I looked out my back window to see an old galvanized tub the previous owners of our home had left behind. (The kids lovingly refer to it at the Black Widow Bucket – for good reason!) How had I missed that before?

galvanized tub

So I sprayed and cleaned until there was not a trace of dirt or scary living creatures left and brought it in the house to test.

The diameter was about 2 inches too small for the base. Bummer!

BUT! I had another plan.


I had seen this idea on Pinterest last year, too. I told Husband I just needed to find a chopped down tree trunk! How hard would that be?

Husband said, “How about all those cut pieces that are in that yard down the street?”

Me: “What are you talking about?”

Husband: “I bike by them every day on the way to work. Between here and the grocery store. You haven’t noticed them?”

Me: “No, I haven’t noticed them. Are you making this up? When did you see them?”

Husband: “This morning on the way to work.”

Me: “Wait, are you actually ENABLING me to tackle a new crazy idea?”

Husband: “Totally. You should do it.” (Sarcasm here.)

So I did! I drove until I saw the wood, stopped the car, unloaded the kids, and knocked on the door. The international student who answered the door was very kind. He said he didn’t know what the plan was for all the wood, but he would ask the owner and I could stop by the next day. Then he asked why I wanted it. I laughed and explained my crazy Christmas tree plan. He got a huge grin and said, “That is a great idea!” When I stopped by the next day, he said I was welcome to as much as I needed, and he wished me good luck on my project.

Completion of this project required buying a paddle bit for our drill and lots of time. Drilling out a 1.5 inch hole in a tree trunk is not an easy task. Husband and the kids took turns drilling and measuring (and recharging the drill battery) until the hole was 6 inches deep. It fit perfectly the first time! (Rejoicing here!)

fake christmas tree real wood base

We put the wood inside the tub and placed the tree inside the wood, and my “VISION” came to life!

christmas tree galvanized tub

The kids were thrilled because we could finally decorate the tree (it had been up and lit without ornaments for a week while I figured out the final plan). They went crazy putting up the ornaments (and arguing, see above).

Elvis christmas ornament

They were excited to see the Elvis ball return this year.

This lovely ornament was part of our tree every year growing up. And every year, my brothers and I would take turns hiding the Elvis ball because we were so embarrassed by it. My mom would say, “You won’t believe this, but I found the Elvis ball on the back of the tree at the very bottom. Do you know how it got there?” It would return to the front, but it only took a few hours for it to disappear again. Last year, as my mom was decorating her tree, she called to ask if there were any of her ornaments that I wanted. I, of course, said this one. She was shocked. “After all that time you spent hiding it?” Oh yes.

And, after receiving it in the mail, I, like any good sister, immediately posted a photo on Facebook, tagging my brothers to let them know it was mine. One said, “The only thing I wanted out of that house, and of course you get it.” Some things never change.

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!”

christmas tree galvanized tub