Sunday, December 30, 2012

Best Christmas Ever!

The kids have officially declared this "the best Christmas ever!"  That's mainly due to the fact that each of our children received a pretty intense gift from us this year...they all got tablets!  Holden (5) and Haylee (8) each got the Nabi 2.  Hayden got a Maylong T-100CP.  Now to do this, I had to give up my dream of upgrading to the iPad Mini.  Sigh.  The things we do for our children.  Enough said.

I waited in line on Thanksgiving night at Walmart to get the first Nabi 2 for $129.  Little did I realize that we'd end up wanting another one so they wouldn't have to share.  Getting the second one turned into a real fiasco, including a bum ebay purchase that resulted in a Buyer Protection Case being filed to get my money back, not to mention about 8 failed attempts at ordering it from Walmart.com because of a fraudulent purchase that was made on my account a couple of months ago.  This entailed a couple of lengthy calls to Walmart's customer service (not recommended), which still didn't solve my problem.  I ended up having to open a whole new account with a different email address and a different credit card before I could get the order to go through.  I sure hope the kids appreciate the lengths I went to in order to complete this purchase!  I ended up paying $199 for the second one.  Not so good, but mission accomplished, and I'm glad that we were able to give them each their own.

Now for Hayden's tablet, I stumbled upon a one-day cyber sale at Best Buy's website, and I got his Maylong tablet with keyboard, case, and earbuds for half price...a mere $79!  Wish I could have been so lucky with the others, but I don't regret purchasing the Nabi 2's for them...they rock!  I did lots of research on tablets made for kids, and it is by far a superior product with top-notch customer service.

All 3 of the tablets have the same operating system...the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.  I love the parental controls on the Nabi 2's, and I love that we can get apps from the Amazon Android App Store instead of being limited to some obscure third party app site with limited app availability.  So far, I've been able to get the kids 99% of their favorite apps from iTunes in an Android version.  They are thrilled!

I also love the built-in chore lists that enable the kids to earn Nabi coins for completing their chores.  The Nabi coins add up and earn them the ability to purchase a game app from the Nabi Store.  The Nabi 2's came with a good variety of well-known game apps, as well as the Nabi University section with lots of age-appropriate educational apps.  They also got 30 free e-books from MeeGenius included.  What's more, I signed up for a school account as a homeschool teacher with MeeGenius and got our account upgraded to 75 free e-books.

I told the kids to remember this Christmas forever, because they aren't likely to have such a generous haul again in the future.  The only reason we were able to swing these major purchases (they also got a Wii U) is because we re-financed our house this summer and got a couple of large, unexpected refunds from excess real estate taxes and escrow paid on the previous mortgage.  Now we're back to squeaking by, but we're so happy to have been able to give the kids the tablets, especially. 

The tablets are a great tool for our homeschool, too.  We set up Google Calendars on each of the tablets, and now I can enter their assignments for each day onto Google Calendar from my computer and have each assignment pop up as a reminder on their tablets throughout the day at the designated times.  This helps them stay on task as the hours roll by, and it also enables Steve to view their work progress at any point in the day while he is at work.  If he sees they are getting behind schedule, he can email them directly on their tablets and prod them a bit to get back on track.  I love the reinforcements so I don't have to yell! 

With the house less cluttered, I didn't feel as rushed to pack up the Christmas tree and decorations this year.  I actually waited until the evening of December 26th, which has to be a record!  LOL.  My friends enjoy teasing me about how I stand up as soon as the presents are opened and declare Christmas is over...pack it up!  :)  The funny thing is that this description is not far from the truth!  ha, ha.

I hope you all enjoyed your Christmas as much as we did.  I'll remember this Christmas the most because all of the kids were old enough not to squabble or whine or complain about something right in the middle of the festivities.  Everybody was happy and appreciative, and Holden was old enough to get *really* excited about each and every gift.  I loved seeing his face light up like that.  His joy was contagious.  :)

Merry Christmas to all, and a Happy New Year to come!