December 28, 2017

A Creative Christmas Gift for the Kids

I hope everyone had a nice Christmas! Ours was great :)

This year, I got creative with my kids' gifts. I didn't want to spoil them with "stuff" that was just going to sit around in their closets. I wanted instead to give them fun memories--and Jerry and I decided that a family vacation for their spring break would be perfect.

I knew I wanted to take them to a city (wasn't sure exactly which one). When I was growing up, I always had to go along with whatever my family wanted to do; and since my interests are very different from theirs, I never really got to have "my type" of vacation. After declaring this year my year of doing what I enjoy (unapologetically), I decided I wanted to take the kids on my type of vacation.

And after much deliberation, I settled on Boston.

My kids have obviously never been there, but it will be Jerry's first time as well. I know that Jerry will love Boston, and I'm pretty sure my kids will, too. So, the plan was to surprise the kids on Christmas with the Boston vacation plans in a creative way.

I bought them each a nice suitcase, as well as some travel stuff to go along with it (a travel pillow, toiletries bag, portable batteries for their phones, etc.). Then, I wrote clues to describe different places we are going or things we are doing while on vacation. Along with each clue was a little item (some were useless, others were a real gift, like Legos) to further describe the clue.

Hard to describe, so here are several of them...

This first one is the suitcase (wrapped in a gift bag). I wrote a little clue on the tag:

"You may think your first gift is lame,
But let me give you a tip:
You will be glad you have this come March
When we leave for an adventurous trip!"

So, they opened up the gift bag and there was a suitcase inside. The tag read,

"Inside this luggage,
You'll find the things you'll need
To travel in an airplane
And explore a city you've never seen."

And then inside the suitcase was a bunch of little travel things:

Following those, we wanted them to know where we were going, so they got this:

"We'll leave in the morning
For a TON of fun sights;
You don't need to be a BOSS
To sit through the two-hour flight!"

I thought that clue was going to be super obvious, considering I capitalized "TON" and "BOSS". They didn't get it, so they had to open the little bag and see the postcard and Boston Baked Beans before figuring it out. After that one, I figured they wouldn't be able to guess anything! Haha.

Next, we gave them little items in the order that we'd be experiencing them on our trip...

"You may hear a spell cast,
Or make friends with a black cat;
But can you tell me in what city
You could find this witch's hat?"

And the answer is Salem. We are going to take a drive to Salem to check out the sights there (something I wanted to do on the last two visits out there, but wasn't able to).

After that, they were given this clue:

"Our next adventure
Will take place as we set sail
And keep our eyes peeled
For a large spout or tail!"

The answer to that one is that we are going whale watching. Eli was crazy excited about this.

Followed by that, they were given this clue:

"The next place on our list
May make you want to dive right in;
But you'd better think twice,
Because you don't have any fins!"

This one was referring to the aquarium. All four of us love aquariums, so we're looking forward to that.

Next up:

"When you get dressed for this park, make sure you wear your sox--
Any color you like--blue, green, purple, black, or tan;
But if you choose red,
It'll show you're a true Boston fan!"

The answer, of course, is Fenway Park. The Red Sox aren't playing a game, but we are going to do the park tour that I did with Caitlin and John. Jerry is super excited about it.

After three nights in Boston, we are actually going on a little road trip. This next part is what I'm most looking forward to on this trip--and you'll laugh (or maybe roll your eyes) when you see what it is!

"When you go to bed at night,
You may imagine a monster at your feet;
But no need to worry,
This monster is sweet!"

And the clue was a Ben & Jerry's container with a little "monster" inside of it.

The answer to this one is "Vermonster". Years ago, we saw a show on the Food Network that featured "The Vermonster" at the Ben & Jerry's headquarters in Waterbury, Vermont. The Vermonster is an enormous ice cream sundae: 20 scoops of ice cream, 4 bananas, 3 cookies, 1 brownie, hot fudge, caramel, 10 spoonfuls of nuts, 2 spoonfuls of other toppings, and whipped cream.

After seeing that on the show, we all vowed that someday, we'd make the trip to Vermont and get one of these sundaes. Once in a while, one of us brings it up and we say, "Someday, we need to go there and get one!"

And "someday" is finally happening... we're going to Vermont to get a Vermonster. Definitely my kind of vacation, hahaha.

We'll spend one night in Vermont, and then:

"You may envision the west coast
When you hear this city's name;
But we're not going to the one in Oregon--
We're going to the one in Maine!"

From Waterbury, we'll drive to Portland, Maine. I've always thought it would be a cool place to see, and I've never been to Maine, so I think it'll be fun.

Our next adventure:

"Our next adventure takes place on a ferry,
Where we'll check traps and look inside with awe,
At the critter we'll call dinner
When we eat his two big claws!"

We're going on a "lobstering" tour, where we can buy the lobsters we catch and then have a restaurant cook them for us. It feels kind of morbid, but the kids have never tried lobster before, and when in Maine... well, what better place to eat lobster?!

There are a couple of other things we're doing on the trip, and I forgot to get pictures of the clues, but you get the idea ;)

When I was planning out our trip, I had originally been looking at Delta flights for my next trip to Portland (Oregon). I had just under 50,000 SkyMiles saved up, which is definitely enough for a round trip flight to Portland. Sometimes, I get lucky and find a ticket for 30-35,000; but usually, it costs more like 40-45,000.

On a whim, I checked the tickets to Boston as well. After plugging in different dates, I found a deal that seemed too good to be true--tickets for 12,000 SkyMiles roundtrip. So, for four roundtrip tickets, the total was only 48,000 SkyMiles! I had enough SkyMiles to buy ALL FOUR of our tickets to Boston, so I just had to pay the tax of $11 per person. I couldn't believe it. (Here is an explanation of how I earn SkyMiles for traveling. I LOVE Delta SkyMiles! If you are considering getting a Delta SkyMiles American Express, I would be so thrilled if you would use my referral link. We each get a bonus for it). Exciting stuff :)

I got a couple of fun shirts for Christmas. Noah and Eli gave me a hoodie with a cat pouch in it! The hoodie itself is really cute--the hood has cat ears on it, it has thumbholes, and paw prints embroidered on the front.

It also has a large pouch in front, just for the cats to chillax ;)

I absolutely did not believe that either of my cats would stay in there (and it would be hell trying to get them in). However, Estelle actually loved it! She sat in there for the longest time (I watched a two-hour movie, and didn't move--she was totally content in there). I, on the other hand, felt like I was pregnant. Haha, it was hard to move around with her weight pulling me down.

Becky drew my name for our family gift exchange, and I cracked up when I opened this shirt from her:

She clearly knows me well ;)

And speaking of bipolar, on my last post I mentioned a depressive episode that I'd been having. Well, that seems to have turned around. I'm feeling much better now. The mild sadness lasted for about 3 weeks, and then feeling depressed (mild, nothing too serious) lasted for about a week. I am SO GLAD that it didn't turn into more than that. I'm still getting used to all this (my diagnosis and medications), so I don't know exactly what to expect. I'm learning as I'm going.

This week has been crazy, considering the holidays and get-togethers, so I will get back to the regular stuff next week!


  1. This is amazing. Can you please adopt me, even though I'm 35 :)

  2. What a wonderful Christmas gift! The kids will love it! Can’t wait to hear all about it, we are going in June to visit Boston for the first time. Any recommdations on where to stay? Hotels are so expensive in that area!

  3. What a fun vacation. We live in Plainfield, Vermont, about 45 minutes from Waterbury. I've been to the Ben & Jerry's factory twice but never had the Vermonster. Enjoy!

  4. Awesome! Boston reader here, you guys are going to have a blast!

  5. What happened to the ice cream in the Ben & Jerry's container? :-)

    1. I have no idea! It was there one minute, and then it just disappeared. ;)

      Actually, my brother Brian bought a freeze drier, and he made me some "astronaut ice cream" out of it! I love Cherry Garcia, and he was taking requests, so...

  6. Katie, you are so f-ing creative and I'm so jealous with a capital J! The trip sounds amazing, Maine has some great craft beer and I'd strongly recommend (if you have a rental car) to drive 30 minutes up to Freeport to check-out the LL Bean compound. It's a sanctuary for outdoor-minded people. Can't wait for that post and pix come March. Happy (early) New Year to you all! ~ Janet

  7. My friend's super cool pet shop will be on your way to Portland, a quick stop off the highway if you want to check it out for your dog and kitties: Your trip sounds fantastic! You are going to have an amazing time!!!

  8. You will have such an amazing trip! I loved my new england trip I did a few years back and we hit all the same spots. When you are Vermont, you should also check out one of the cabot cheese places, lots to sample but delicious cheese too (and relatively cheap), it is a quick stop on the way for a snack!

  9. This is an amazing gift idea! You guys are going to have an amazing time! SUPER jealous! Did you ever tell what you got Jerry? Did I miss it?

  10. I love you gift to the kids! What an awesome family vacation, and such a cleaver way to give it to them! I'm glad you are feeling better as well! Merry Christmas to you all!

  11. This is such a great idea! Ben and Jerry's used to do a flavour called The Vermonster as well (they graveyarded it though) - it was pecan and maple I think. I loved it in any case, I was gutted when they discontinued it!

  12. What an awesome gift idea! I agree: experiences and memories make for better gifts than material items. Adding clues was genius of you. :) Totally hope to be able to give this kind of gift someday.

  13. that is the cutest and so creative!

  14. I love love love Boston. A super fun way to see the city is doing a running tour, the Freedom trail Run. It’s about a 5k, but there are so many stops and a nice easy pace in between, it’s a really wonderful experience. I saw more of the history on that tour than I did on any of the others I tried. It also made me feel less guilty for going to Mike’s Pastry multiple times :)

  15. What a fantastic gift, you'll have a great time! I grew up north of Boston, lived in Salem when I was little, son lives in VT, friends in ME. Looks like you've covered most of New England, except NH where I lived for many years. I'm curious, who takes care of your pets when you travel? That is always our biggest worry. I can't wait to read about your adventure.

  16. oh my gosh, I'm so excited that you'll be in Boston! I know it won't be for the marathon this time around, but I really do hope you'll let me show you all around a bit! I obviously have lots of recommendations! What a cool way to give your kids their gifts! - Rach


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