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I’m No Martha Stewart…

…but, I do consider myself a crafty gal. And I try my darnedest to make cute things for the kids that also keep them occupied, and figure there are many others who may feel the same way. Then again, maybe not.

My eldest had to decorate a shoebox for Valentine’s Day to use as a mailbox for school as a family project. They had about two weeks or so to do them, and, procrastinator that I am, combined with out-of-town husband, we started working on it the weekend before it was due (which was still a good four or five days in advance). As we bedazzled said box, I was told, in no uncertain terms, that her box was going to be the worst one (at age 4), because other people had already brought theirs in, and they had colored paper instead of white. I didn’t have enough of any non-Christmas paper left to cover this box, so I just used white packing paper to cover it for a base, so she could color, glue, and embellish to her heart’s (badum-bum) content. We had that thing covered with glitter, confetti (both put on contact paper then put on the box so we wouldn’t have it fall off and make a mess (for the teacher as much as for me…glitter multiplies like rabbits around here), paper flowers, foam cutouts, doilies, printouts, coloring…you name it, it was on there. Dad’s contribution was a picture of St. Valentine, which was like playing Where’s Waldo trying to find it among the other fancy-schmancy stuff. Though he was front and center.

She was so convinced that she needed more stuff (even on the bottom that no one would see), that she asked me to stick on a few more things she left out before bed the night before it was due. We’re talking a good four solid days of working on this thing. That’s how much stuff.

Imagine my surprise when I arrive at school for their party to find that the other boxes had been wrapped in paper and, some, not all, with a few other doo-dads, but that was it. She still is convinced that her’s could have been better. Maybe we needed lights?


Color My World

This past week, the kids and I have been busy peeling the papers off crayons so we can melt them into hearts for Valentine’s Day cards for my oldest’s classmates.  The rest of the year, I find shreds of crayon paper all over the house, but give the green light to the two year old, and those things stay wrapped up like a tamale.

At any rate, the Valentines came out really cute, and they were super-easy and inexpensive, not to mention involved no candy. A bonus in my book…we still have Halloween candy (even good stuff) that keeps calling my name. And it’s rude to ignore that.

Homemade Valentine Heary Crayons

We separated the crayons by color family and put them in tin cans that were then melted double-boiler style on the stove. To make it easier to pour, I squeezed the top of each can to make a pour-spout, and used skewers as stir-sticks to make the color even and make sure there were no chunks.

The, I filled the cavities in a mini-heart candy mold, popped them in the freezer, and within a few minutes, they were completely cooled and I could tap them out and get the next batch in. I don’t need or want more than one of those molds, so this sped up the process, and it was just enough time to make sure the wax that had cooled could melt again. (A tip for freezing: Make sure the cavities are dry and have no condensation from the freezer, otherwise the next batch will have holes and need to be remelted. Not usually a problem, but if you see a drop of water in there, get rid of it!)

Then, I used some clipart that came with my computer to print the actual cards. I just used some four-to-a-sheet postcards that I have hanging around and popped them through the printer. The front of the card is two graphics, the big square with the floating hearts and whatever was in teh center of that, with the words, “Happy Valentine.” I blocked out the animal or whatever was there with some white shapes, found another piece of clipart that had a couple of kids hugging the Earth with a heart beneath it (coudl that have been more perfect?), and added “You Color My World” at the top. I also saved the top inch, give or take, of the card for a fold-over, so put some hearts and “From” upside down and printed them out.

On the back, I found some color blocks with hearts in the center, and just pasted it so it filled the whole side. Then, I got nervous that some kid was going to think they were candy, so I put a disclaimer, “Contents: Heart-Shaped Crayons,” at the bottom.

Then, the kids and I put different colors of the hearts in cellophane treat bags, folded them, stuck them in the folded card, and stapled. Easy-peasy.

They ended up really cute, kept us busy for a bit, and were only slightly more than the regular boxed cards. Heck, the mold was only $1 after the half-off coupon at Michael’s, and that’s reusable, I had the postcard sheets laying around, used pouches of broken crayons, and spent $1 on a bag of 100 small cellophane treat bags, and I still have 80 left. I can handle that.

The Final Countdown

I still have several gifts to purchase, and just received word that the main gift I ordered for my husband several weeks ago will likely not come until next week. What the what? I received a shipment notice early last week, so, logically, it shoudl be here already. I received the other item in my order over a week ago. Why bother ordering early? (okay, okay, so it wasn’t that early, but it was still single-digit December.) Needless to say, I have to hit the store tomorrow.

I wish it were as easy as it seemed for my daughter’s teacher. I made bracelets for her teacher and teacher’s assistant (and took pictures because I wouldn’t mind recreating them…I always say that the best gift to give someone is something you would like to keep for yourself (but, obviously, don’t), unless someone has their heart set on something that you find really repulsive. Another post, another day). We also made a frame for her teacher, which had crayons all around the border (and ended up really cute for a teacher gift, I think), and gave each of teh hall monitors a bag of hershey kisses (had the earlier incident occured, well, earlier, it would have been helpful. I have lots of LBS. of those things around the house now).

So..we head to my in-laws and a family friend’s house for Christmas Eve, meaning tomorrow, my day consists of the following [deep breath]:

1. Finish baking. Not just cookies — Lord knows that the nine or ten varieties I already have done are in no way enough — but cakes/pies/tarts…something else for desserts on Christmas day.
b. Help the kids decorate their gingerbread house. My daughter did a really good job on one when she was my son’s age, though she was also much more patient than he.
III. Shop for gifts (see above).
4. Finish my eldest’s Christmas stocking. It’s dangerously close, so much so that I could just put the back on and be done. But I don’t want to do that.
Oh, and maybe I shoudl work a little on the younger ones, just so there is something to tack to a regular stocking until I finish theirs.
E. Make a couple of presents, because I’ve thought of things to make, but not to purchase for some.
6. Wrap presents. I mean everything. Except for those that already went to my brother and his family. They were wrapped in teh wee hours before packing them up to ship.
7. Fix the start from our tree. It won’t light this year, and when I tried to open the door on it to get the lights out, the stand for it came off. Go figure.
H. Find something suitable to wear for Christmas Day. I will say that I’ve been back down to my regular size for a while following baby three, but my shape isn’t quite teh same as usual in all areas, and I wore the one dress I know fit me to a wedding about a month or so ago, and I keep forgetting to bring it to the cleaners. And I refuse to wear slacks (yes, slacks) on Christmas.
9. Clean my house. No, noone is being hosted here, except Big Red himself, but girlfriend just needs to vacuum and sweep. No breaks from the kids this week…none.
X. Sleep. I’m not very good at that lately. Well, I’m a champ at sleeeping, not so much with actually going to sleep. Hopefully that will change after Christmas.

Speaking of…off to bed. I have to rest up!

It’s That Time

Yesterday, we had a marathon stay at a friend’s house which was basically all day.  Besides their regular crazy antics and plain old playtime, the kids cut out and decorated Christmas cookies.

I have not begun to make any of our cookies yet, but that will start probably in the next week or so.  I like ’em fresh for Christmas Day.  the batch from yesterday will be long gone by then, anyway.  But I digress…

The kids had so much fun making the cookies together, and I was stunned how long it kept their interest.  Maybe it’s strength in numbers that kept them all occupied until the frosting was completely gone.  That, and the bags of candy they were using to decorate didn’t hurt either.  Another almost alarming observation?  The older girls did not eat a single cookie until they were all decorated.  Not a one. The boys?  Let’s just say my son had one cookie, beautifully and skillfully decorated with frosting and candies, which the disappeared in rapid succession almost immediately following the last M&M had been placed.  The other little boy didn’t even get that far.  Cookie, meet mouth.

Don’t know if their interest will be held like that when they make presents at my house, but here’s to hoping…

Weekend Warriors

I love to have a full plate of things to do, especially around the holidays, and this weekend was no different.

We have a local craft store that has ornament making the first weekend of December each year, and I can’t rave enough about how cute the ornaments are, plus that they actually keep.  This year’s options didn’t seem as well thought out as in year’s past, but the results were still super-cute.  More importantly, the kids really look forward to going there to make them, and love every second of it.  Added bonus:  we saw a friend there that we have not been able to get together with in months!

We did end up bumping the ornament-making to Sunday, because we went to our town’s tree-lighting and to dinner at a friend’s house after.  The weather could not have been better, and there were a ton of people there to follow good ol’ St. Nick in his horse-drawn carriage to the site of the tree.  Then to the new park building for cocoa, donuts (which were gone by the time my two-year-old got up there, which was disastrous to him, especially since there was no nap that afternoon.  Which made it disastrous for all of us), Santa (which we skipped because we are seeing him next week, and sometimes there is too much of a good thing, if you know what I mean), and, perhaps best of all, model trains.  I seriously think my son could have watched them for hours.

Fast-forward to Sunday for Church, ornaments, football, dancing, and buying paint (“maybe Home Depot if we have time…”), not to mention a trip to buy a present for the giving tree…whoopsie-daisy on that one.  I forgot they were supposed to be in today, so in the morning, guess what i’m dropping off?

The Start of Something…

I’ve dabbled in several blogs before, but never on a personal level.  With Advent just beginning, I figure what better time to start, you know, without it being some sort of New Year’s resolution.

I keep busy with my three children, all age four and under, probably more for my own sanity than theirs.  But out of that comes a lot of ideas and good memories that my family will [hopefully] cherish as they get older.  A lot of crafts, outings, cooking, and anything else we can think of makes things really buzz around here.  The first installment of the season?  Our Advent wreath.

When my oldest was one-and-a-half, we started making an Advent wreath on our back window, “lighting” a candle each Sunday after the one was lit at church.  Complete with holly leaves and berries (or cranberries, as my daughter calls them), it made, and still makes, a nice little decoration for the sliding door, and keeps the kids occupied for a bit.  Added bonus:  I let them put up one cranberry on the holly leaves for each good deed that they do throughout the week, with the goal of having the whole thing filled with berries by the end of Advent.  They get such a kick out of it, and it has become a nice little tradition.  I’ll have to post a photo of this year’s version, 100% cut out by only my daughter, except for the flames.  Pretty nice!

In accordance with Murphy’s Law, my son just woke up from his nap.  In the one minute that he’s been awake, I’ve been asked if we could get the Michigan flag from the basement (me:  the Mexican flag?  him:  No, the Mich. A. Gan.  Flaaaag! PS:  He’s 2.), been told he’s so hungry, and notified that a Christmas tree fell down.

I feel the need to clarify a few things.  1.  In honor of the OSU vs. Michigan game this weekend, my husband decided to emblazon a white elephant gift (read:  a 4′ x 6′ Michigan flag) with a duct tape “X” and hang it out our window.  2. If you have a boy, chances are you know they are ALWAYS hungry. 3. I’m not sure what Christmas tree he referred to, because we have not bought ours yet.  Near as I can tell, he’s just talking about some of the decorations sitting in the hallway waiting to spruce up the house.

Until then…

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