Archive | December, 2011

A Handmade Christmas

31 Dec

I love making things. I do. What I love even more is when you have not just an idea of what to make, but also someone you can give it to.  There’s nothing worse than spending hours slaving over something only to get a halfhearted thanks and have said item disappear forever into the abyss of unwanted gifts. So choosing what to make and who to make it for is a stumbling block in and of itself.

This year I decided to make presents for my Mother and sister (yes, the males in my family were almost completely neglected, but I honestly can’t think of presents I can make (easily) for a grown man. I just can’t).

For Mam I decided to make a cardigan. Well, I decided to make it for myself, then a few rows in I thought it would suit her better, so the rest of it was made with the intention of giving it to her. (Maybe that’s what I need to do, start making things, then decide who to give them to after I have started, hmmm).

When I tried it on, the Turtle said “I like your nice jumper Mama. You is look like Granny.” So perhaps I was right in thinking it was more her style than mine. It’s always nice to have these things confirmed by a three year old though 😉

The good news is that it fits! The sleeves are the right length. Not only that, they are (likely) of equal length too (unless Mam has one arm shorter than the other). So the gauge was ok and my confusion/frustration with the measuring tape was unwarranted. Whoop! I even blocked it. Not a normal occurrence in this house. And no mean feat. The en suite is full of carpet and the guest bathroom is too small. Add in someone who doesn’t really know what they are doing, and well, I’m lucky I didn’t flood the house or something. That’s the good thing about making things for other people, you go the extra mile and finish it according to the instructions, rather than throwing your hands in the air at the final step and saying “Sure, it’ll do!” and living forever with that wonky bit that drives you crazy!

The other good thing is that she loves it. There was a lot more enthusiasm for it than the usual shop bought tat that I usually send. She even  modeled it for me (webcam) and there was talk of handwashing it! (Unheard of in our house!) So I know she likes it!

For my sister I made a bag, from some jeans. Apparently this caused some confusion and she attempted to try them on?!? And a cowl/scarf. More confusion. She thought it was a shawl. To be fair, I think I cast on too many stitches, but not THAT many.

Still, it apparently caused a great deal of hilarity. So that’s something.

And so that the men weren’t entirely left out, I sent my sister’s step son this hat

I actually made it for the Turtle, but he already has a hat with earflaps – a $5 nasty acrylic Cookie Monster one – so he apparently doesn’t need any more. And well, it’s not cold enough for woolly hats here. But I defy you to look at this hat for more than five minutes without your hands starting to itch with the desire to make it. Go on. Make it! I need to find more people I can make it for.

What did you make?

Christmas crafting, the cookie cutter edition

23 Dec

I feel a bit guilty for the lack of crafting shennanigans with the Turtle this year. Other years there were all kinds of salt dough and foam and whatnot. This year, I can drive, so we haven’t been in the house. Freedom!!

Still, we have managed to do a few bits.

  • Christmas play dough – just like normal play dough, but make it yourself, so you feel virtuous. While you do that, let your toddler play with the glitter that you inadvertently left within reach. Use the play dough as a sponge to gather up the glitter. Ta da! Glittery play dough. Use Christmas-y cookie cutters. Delight a small boy.
  • Ginger bread cookies – because I have no idea what other kind of cookies you can cut. Decorate with blue icing (“I’m is a boy Momma”) and random sprinkles that have been living in the cupboard for more than a year and have some kind of Disney princess theme going on (shoes and crowns!?) because they don’t go off, right? Well, if they do, you have never heard of anyone dying from gone off sugar and food colouring. Consume as much of there as you are able. (As an aside, I made these exact same cookies last year. Same recipe. Everything. The Hubby would not touch them. This year, he eats them like they are going out of style. Apparently, “a year with no salt or sugar skews your tastebuds”.  Hmmmmmmmm!!!!)
  • And my favourite, cookie cutter printing. I can not do potato printing, or any other kind of vegetable printing for that matter. Nothing is recognisable and there is usually blood shed – mine – from foolery with the knife. Hand prints and foot prints turned into cute Santas/reindeer/Christmas trees are also beyond us – everything turns into a big brown  blob and there’s so much paint it seeps through the paper. I shout. The Turtle gets bewildered and runs away leaving a trail of brown paint behind him. Disaster. With cookie cutter printing, you pour out some paint (“Blue Momma, blue!”), they dip the cookie cutter into it and then stamp it on the paper. You can embellish it later and send it to Grandparents. They like that.

“No, that’s enough”

21 Dec

The Turtle went to see Santa on Saturday. And for the first time he didn’t freak out (well, he wasn’t that bothered his first Christmas, but then he was only 5 and a half months old).

He walked straight up to him (Santa was on a couch in the back of the room) and said “How does that sleigh work anyway?” Santa was a bit taken aback and mumbled something about sitting in it and holding the reins.

Then it was on to the important business.

“What would you like for Christmas?”

“A Thomas scooter”

“Anything else?”

“No, that’s enough.”

Love that.

I love too that his nervousness shows only in how he holds his hands, and also in his refusal/inability to get any closer to Santa.

“Would you like to sit on Santa’s lap?”

“No, I’m is scared of him”You can almost see the fear.

Nevertheless, later, when Santa was nowhere in the vicinity he said “Santa is a great man, is he?… a great man.”

The playdough badge

9 Dec

Two years after buying cream of tartar (yes, it made the move with us) I finally made my own playdough. Did I use the cream of tartar? No. I found a “recipe” that didn’t require cooking. And it was simple. Not to mention satisfying. Plus, we only made one colour (blue), so there will be no melt downs when the colours get all mixed up. Not only that, I feel less stressed now when he eats it (yes, at 3 and a half, he STILL eats the playdough – it stops me getting big-headed when people say he’s smart).

So, I made a monumental mess making playdough. He played with it for 20 minutes.

Parenting success!!!

Is there a badge?

There should be a badge.

Advent Activities

7 Dec


I have great notions of making an Advent activities calendar. Great notions altogether. Look at this. Isn’t it pretty?

Still, just because we don’t have the accessories, it doesn’t mean we can’t do the activities.

So far, we have:

  • been to see a Christmas movie – Arthur Christmas. The constant refrain? “I don’t like this theater. I want to go home.” It would seem that when you bring a country mouse to the big city movie theater, well, it freaks him out. More than a bit. The small, cheap theater from now on then.
  • done some baking. Christmas should involve lots of baked goods. There are plans afoot to make mince pies, Christmas cookies and perhaps a pumpkin pie (the Hallowe’en pumpkin is still looking balefully at me from its prime spot in the kitchen).
  • collected pine cones, to be painted, glitterified and adorned with shiny things later in the week.
  • gone on a walk of the neighbourhood to see the lights. “Oh wow Mama! Look at that!” He was over awed by the lights (which were fairly unspectacular). We might go a few more times. It’s a nice after dinner activity, even if it is a bit cold (California cold, so not really, but we’re wimps now!) He was concerned that Santa wouldn’t come to our house if we didn’t have lights up. “Is the Christmas light man coming to our house to put up the lights?”, “If the Christmas light man is Daddy, yes.”, “Daddy!! You have to put up the lights.” Love that child.

We missed the Christmas parade because we were all sick.

So left to do, we have:

  • making snowmen and Santas with cotton balls
  • painting the patio doors in the kitchen, with tempera paint (mixed with dish soap).
  • decorating the tree/watching the Hubby out up the lights
  • “write” a letter to Santa, and watch his message from Santa. Portable North Pole is soooooooooooo cool!
  • maybe do a gingerbread house
  • some doily snowflake shennanigans
  • Christmassy colouring in/stickers (you can’t go wrong with stickers)
  • make Christmas cards
  • meet Santa – maybe get a picture where he’s not crying!!
  • the Hubby’s work Christmas Potluck party (where there will be an abundance of pasta dishes, and maybe a bouncy castle)
  • Christmas books

And that’s all I’ve got. But, I reckon we’ll be redecorating the tree every day anyway, so that will keep us busy!


3 Dec

The Turtle has never been to school, or any kind of formal education. Well, swimming lessons, but they were a disaster. Yet, he has taken to playing “school”. It seems to involve gathering a rather large pile of books. Sometimes the books are abandoned. Sometimes he “reads” them, while shushing the imaginary kids in his class. “School is a quiet place Momma.” Indeed it is son, indeed it is.

At three and a half I think he’s too young for formal education. But, sneakily enough I have been taking advantage of this school obsession to get him sit down for a few minutes and hold a pencil so that it doesn’t look like he’s trying to stab someone with it. Progress has been minimal. But he has reached that delightful stage where he freaks out if he goes outside the lines. Blank pages are my friends. Until he colours a hole in them. Maybe I should send him to preschool, for my own sanity.

The thing is, if we lived in Ireland I KNOW I would be sending him. Our delightful trip in August, when it rained every single day for a month confirmed that. Plus, it would be free. And they wouldn’t really “teach” him anything besides playing nicely and the social skills it would be nice for him to learn. I have no real desire for my three year old to be able too read and write. Or to produce crafts that look like an adult did them. The wonky looking things he produces, that are 11,000,000 miles away from the thing I was actually trying to get him to make, are a joy to behold. And he knows what they are, and can explain them to the doubters, what more could you want?

Right now, I’m enjoying the time I get to spend with him. We go to parks, children’s museums, the zoo, the aquarium, the natural history museum, state parks and nearby beaches. His world is wider than it would be in preschool. He may not be able to identify the letters of the alphabet on demand (even though I am sure he knows them), but he can tell the difference between a whale and a shark (the tails and fins apparently) and name more dinosaurs than I even knew existed. And he may only be able to count to eleven, but he is the most confident child I have ever encountered (sometimes I drive to the out of the way parks, so that I don’t have to talk to the strangers he befriends).

If I could just get him to stop bopping the people who frustrate him, we would be golden. “Him is annoying me Momma.” Yes son, I see that. But you still can’t hit him. That is the rule.

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