Giving an actual gift would get lost in the shuffle with everything else, and was becoming an increasingly expensive venture (with 12 to buy for!)
I wanted to give them something that they wouldn't forget, something that was special to them from me. After all, I am their one and only "Aunt T" :)
SO, I had the idea to do something fun with the 5-and-olders after Christmas every year. (Something to look forward to for the ankle biters, AND I don't think the toddlers would get as much joy out of it, thus the age requirement :)
Year 1 was pizza, ice cream and ice skating. I only had 4 for that-- the 3 older boys + Sophia.
The second year, we added a couple more girls and we did spaghetti and bowling.
And THIS year, we added 1 more boy, so I split it up to boys only and girls only, and we did sleepovers at my new house.
Girls were up first (and trust me, they thought it was very cool to be the first ones for the sleepover).
They came over one evening and we made giant skillet cookies with ice cream and toppings, had a dance party, painted nails, and watched a movie. We had a blast, and "Aunt Kristi" even helped out. Definitely down my ally.
The boys' sleepover was last weekend. When I went to pick them up, I was surprised at how grown-up they seemed, just being the boys together.
They were naming off all the current popular music groups and asking me how many miles I had on my car.
When did they get so old?
I decided to do a "Pizza-themed" party for them. We started off and made pepperoni and sausage pizzas for dinner. Then we made a fruit pizza, and lastly, a dessert pizza.
After all of that food, they ran around outside and played tag, then the older boys and I walked to the movie store while Heather (a treasure for helping me!) and Beau stayed behind to clean up.
It was then that I realized that I'm not 12 anymore. The boys started sprinting, and I had to run to keep up. And, they never ran out of breath. I was thankful for the exercise after consuming so much "pizza," BUT I'm not as fast as I used to be!
When we returned, we played a game and made popcorn with the air popper.
It was a very fun night! I'm so thankful to have awesome nieces and nephews, and the opportunity to do special things with them. I am also very grateful to my friends (Kristi & Heather!) who never hesitate to come along and be a co-aunt for the night! It's always easier with a help mate :)
My favorite moment was when my 5-year-old nephew came up to me and said,
"Um, Aunt T?"
"Um, when do I have to go to bed?"
"You can go to bed whenever you want," I told him.
"Thank you Aunt Taryn," he said, "Thank you for having us over."
He has the sweetest little voice and is so endearing when he speaks. It melted my heart.
As I type this, my 8-year-old niece is scooping vanilla ice cream into a bowl for her bed time snack. I told her that she can have ice cream as long as she puts fruit on it. One cancels out the other, right? I'm baby-sitting my sister's 4 kids this week, so the fun has not yet ended! I do love being with the kids, though... it keeps me young!
Love you all...