Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Recap

Normally I don't pay attention to what the weather is doing until after I've gone outside and forgotten my coat, but the BIG SNOW PANIC mania really started to get to me this time. After deciding that the weather might actually keep us from getting to our various Christmas festivities, I realized that I had nothing for the boys to open at my house. So bright and early Tuesday morning (the 23rd) my friend Laura and I loaded up our five wild ones to go to town to get flu shots (because what if we get SNOWED IN before they get the 2nd H1N1 dose and the germs are carried via BLIZZARD and... well, no one thinks clearly after spending so many days stuck inside with small children, right) and then I left them all at the library and spent 300 more dollars (which included groceries and dog food, you're welcome) and we ate lunch at McDonald's and drove home in freezing rain. On Wednesday I worked from both lists (food to take/clothes to pack and prepare for BIG SNOW) so I was thoroughly frazzled by Thursday when Matt said we couldn't go, then thoroughly disappointed, then excited and frazzled again when he came in from doing chores and said yes, we could go. So off we go...and it only took twice as long as usual to travel because of the BLIZZARD CONDITIONS. Traveling home took three times as long but I'm over it.

We were very happy to spend Christmas Day with my family and visit with Matt's family as well. (His dad only had to pull us out of one drift on the way to their house.) It was disappointing to not see beloved cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandpa but I did leave the boys with my parents so they could enjoy "Christmas Eve" and I could enjoy it vicariously through them.

All the Christmas specials we've watched lately share the theme of "Christmas is ruined because Santa can't come oh look! the kids saved the day by helping Santa." Ethan and I have talked about how silly that is because no matter what happens at Christmas now, Baby Jesus came to earth on that long-ago Christmas and that Happening changed the world forever. It was good for me to remember that this year as plans changed and changed again. We are safe and we are loved, and I wish all of you those blessings this Christmas season and all of 2010.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

12 Days of Crafts: Snowman Shapes

These cute snowmen are super easy to make- I cut out all the shapes ahead of time so the boys could stick to their specialty of gluing. You can sit with the kids and talk about all the different shapes & big-bigger-biggest, etc. OR you could let them loose with a glue stick and get one more batch of toffee made. And if you haven't lost as many brain cells as me, you might think to add a hat.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

12 Days of Crafts: Crunch Time

After slacking during our min-vacation last week, we kicked the crafting into high gear this weekend to have some gifts ready for Christmas. I don't want to spoil too many surprises, so here are just a few hints of what my little elves have been up to.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

12 Days of Crafts: Oh, Christmas Tree

Once upon a time, two perfect little baby boys were born. Unfortunately, they must have sustained serious head injuries at some point, because what other explanation do you have for THIS?Chainsawing the Christmas tree.

Well, when life hands you pine needles... make something.
I drew a tree(ish) shape and let the glue flow. Ta...dah?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

12 Days of Crafts: The Slacker's Version

We took a break from hard-core (!) crafting on Thursday and Friday to play with friends and shop, shop, shop. Life is all about balance, right? Tessa and Ethan did a puzzle on Thursday, which I will count as a craft for the purpose of the 4th day. Ethan chose this for her when we were assembling a care package back when she had her shoulder surgery. "Do you think Tessa would like dis?" he asked excitedly, clutching the 100-piece puzzle with a penguin family on the front. "I think dis would help her shoulder feel better." I'm not sure how much it helped at the time, but it was awfully sweet to see them do it together at her apartment.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

12 Days of Crafts: Little Baby in a Manger

Laura & Nancy raised the crafting bar with a cute Baby Jesus project. Laura brought little mangers that Emily had made out of popsicle sticks, then hot glued a wooden bead to some blue felt to make a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes. Ethan and Evan enthusiastically glued straw to the mangers and carefully put Baby Jesus to sleep.

Ethan, Evan, Laura, Sarah hard at work

Look closely and you can see how cute the finished product is.

Nancy also has a manger and baby doll upstairs. After talking about the Christmas story a little, the boys just carried the doll around. They both rocked it quite a bit- Evan sings "rocky rocky rocky baby." I asked Ethan what he sang to the baby and he began to sing "I love you... a bushel and a peck." It was so sweet. I am always so relieved when they mimic the nice things I do with them, not just the screechy-sounding "Can you hear my voice?!" that Ethan has been asking Evan lately.

Thank you so much, Laura, Nancy, Sarah, Emily, and Tessa! We had a great time.

Laura & Nancy

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

12 Days of Crafts: Cookie Decorating

I'm not sure if today's activity technically counts as a craft, but children were definitely expressing themselves artistically and fine motor skills were honed through careful sprinkling. So, without further ado:

Monday, December 14, 2009

12 Days of Crafts: Christmas Tree

As if we hadn't had enough fun decorating our tree this weekend, the boys made their own Christmas trees today. This is a fun variation on plain ol' painting that I found on the blog No Time For Flashcards, which is a great resource for easy preschool crafts. All you'll need are Christmas tree shapes cut from paper bags, green paint, plastic forks, and whatever you have on hand to use for decorations. During breakfast, I read the two books we have about pine trees:FYI, The Little Fir Tree by Margaret Wise Brown is fantastic.

Use the fork to print a pine needle-esque effect on the tree:


While you wait for the paint to dry, take a bath:

make some cookies:
and read a book to your little brother:
Then, decorate! Glue, glue, glue!Remark many times about how soft and cozy the pompoms are, while spreading them out on the table and laying your head on them. Wonder why they are called 'pompoms' instead of "soft little balls."
And deck your halls with the finished product!
* For maximum enjoyment, change clothes at least 3 times throughout the project.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

12 Days of Crafts: Gingerbread Houses

Every December of my childhood, my mother and her sisters bravely gathered all 10 of us cousins together to celebrate the December birthdays (Hi Chris & Kyle!) and make candy houses. They would cut cardboard milk cartons into house shapes and stick them on a paper plate, then coat them with frosting and we would create elaborate masterpieces of beauty and tastefulness (haha, get it?). Well, Kirk would. But now my mom is a grandmother, and as Tessa politely pointed out, grandchildren, as opposed to sad neglected children, score real, store-bought gingerbread houses. (OK, they were left over from a kindergarten project. Still.)

1986: Kirk, Jenny, Nancy, Emily
1987: Kirk1993: Jenny (with the rad blue glasses & crimped hair), Emily, Kirk, Daniel
Step One: Cram as much candy into your mouth as possible, because this must be a dream from which you will soon be rudely awakened:

Step Two: Oh, okay, I guess this is kinda fun too.

Step Three: WOW. An architect is born.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Today my firstborn sweet baby is four. FOUR sounds so much bigger than three, although I remember thinking three sounded pretty darn grown up. And I'm not the only one who thinks so. Coming down the stairs this morning, Ethan overheard Evan & I talking about his birthday. "I'm FOUR?" he asked incredulously as he walked into the kitchen. "I'm FOUR," he has announced to every single person he has spoken with today. My four-year-old can sing more country songs than I can and help his little brother find boots to go outside. My four-year-old says he has 12 best friends, and includes his parents and younger brother on that list. My four-year-old changed our lives and has filled our home with joy. Happy birthday, darling boy. We love you so much.