Thursday, December 24, 2009

Quickie Christmas Craft

The last few days we've been mostly staying home. With preschool out, plus all the snow that still hasn't melted, it's been so nice to just make our own schedule...or not. I've been working on all kinds of little projects, plus laundry and cleaning like I haven't done in months.

But I admit, at times, the girls have been bored. So we've done lots of arts & crafts. Lots of painting at the easel. Lots of cutting up magazines and making collages. Lots and lots of drawing. And finally, tired with the usual, Hazel told me she wanted to make a real craft project..."with glitter!"

I immediately turned to my email folder of Kids Craft Weekly, which if you don't subscribe to, you should. (We don't do crafts weekly like she does, but I save the emails so I always have them to turn to when I need help.) The latest had easy Christmas crafts, and yes, there was one with glitter. Bless the woman!

So we went down to the fridge and confiscated two sour cream lids (put the sour cream in a tupperware.) Also grabbed some food coloring. Came back up to the office and got out white glue, sequins, buttons, and GLITTER. We made some red glue and the girls painted it on the lids. We stuck buttons and sequins on and sprinkled with glitter galore. Let dry overnight. In the morning we punched a hole, made a yarn loop, and voila! Two more ornaments for the tree, and the need for glitter satisfied...for now.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Some Christmas Good Stuff

So I've been meaning to get these posted for a few weeks and now it's probably too late to do anybody else any good this year, but that's how it goes.

How Much Ribbon? I read an article on gift-wrapping in the newspaper a few weeks ago and finally learned the invaluable answer to this plaguing question. When you're wrapping a gift with the ribbon going around four sides and a big simple bow, you measure out 7 times the length of the box. I've used this trick all month and it works every time!!! For example, on a shirt box, I measure out about 4 times the long way and 3 times the short way. For a big square like this, I measure 7 times the length from halfway up one side, over the top, to halfway down the other side. Obviously it varies for different size/shapes, but 7 is the magic number!!!

Christmas Card Display Awesomeness - I saw something like this in a store in England last May and thought, That's the perfect way to display Christmas cards! I'll have to find it online and order some when I get home. An intense internet search ensued (just couldn't figure out the right search words!) and I was about to give up when I finally came across a review that led me to Photojojo and The Astounding Magnetic Photo Rope. Displays everything without tape; the wires just hang from a nail or tack; weighted bottom so they don't fly around. Super strong magnets hold even those multi-layered handmade cards. And the ropes couldn't be smaller or easier to store! Best Christmas investment I made this year (except the tree skirt below.) If you don't see your Christmas card in the picture, it's either because

1) It's cut off at the very bottom of the picture,
2) You are LAME and haven't sent me one, or
3) I don't like you enough to hang it up.
The Perfect Tree Skirt - After a few years of searching for THE ONE that I would love year after year, I found it at Land of Nod (where, by the way, you could get me ANY baby gift.) Finally, the absolutely perfect must-have tree skirt. It was expensive so I thought maybe I'd wait until after Christmas and try to get it on sale. Then I realized, this skirt is so darn cute it's not going on sale; it's going to sell out! So I scrounged up some funds and got it full price (but with free shipping!) And sure enough, I went to the website yesterday to get the picture for this post, and it's not there anymore. SOLD OUT. Yay for getting it when I could! Is this not ADORABLE?
(This picture is from the blog of the original designer -
the current skirt says Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays.)

David Archuleta's Christmas CD - It's called Christmas from the Heart and the cover is oh-so-cheesey. And I'm not an Idol fan at all. But I like to get at least one or two new Christmas albums each year and this looked promising from the reviews. Well we got it about a month and a half ago and it's all we've listened to that whole time. We all have our favorites - the girls like "Angels We Have Heard on High" for the Glooooooooooria part (and Hazel goes around the house singing it with the alternative melody he uses.) Me, I usually judge an album by the way they do "Oh Holy Night" and his is fabulous. He's also got a seriously peppy tune I'd never heard called "Pat-a-pan" and we all dance like fools to it in the car.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snowed In

They're calling it the Blizzard of 2009, breaking all kinds of records. I'm calling it a wonderful weekend. Even though we are sorely under-geared for snow (Hazel had to go out in double pants and rain boots and we had to borrow my sister's snow shovel), we had a fabulous snowed-in weekend around here.

We stayed home, played in the snow, watched movies, baked like crazy, took naps, and had totally uninterrupted family time. Not a single errand was run in two days by anyone - now THAT is a new record!
Back and front snowfall by about mid-day Saturday - check out the drifting on the back of Ed's car (green Honda across the street)

Hazel venturing out in the fresh powder

The girls lounging in snow chairs

Buried in snow

Ed digging a path to our shed Saturday night

Back porch snowfall by 7pm Saturday - we measured about 21 inches

Our van Sunday morning before digging out

Our street Sunday morning - church was cancelled - what a weekend!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

It's a...

You know, it could go either way, and I'm OK with that. Hazel and Ginger have been strongly lobbying for a brother, and Ed has been less inhibited this time expressing his wish for a boy. Instinct seems to whisper, "Since you have two girls, it's TIME for a boy," or "Odds are it's a boy this time."

On the other hand, one could just as easily argue, or believe, that with two girls already, we're "on a roll" and will probably have another one. I stare at my wall of Christmas cards and count a disproportionate number of families who have three-in-a-row of the same gender. As if that's some kind of indication.

Of course the fact is that it's pretty much 50/50 each time, especially for anything after your second child. But that hasn't stopped us from trying to guess and reason out who's coming next.
So there was great anticipation by all of us on Wednesday when we went for the big 20-week ultrasound. The tech took her sweet time examining the heart, measuring head and limbs, checking each internal organ. Of course all those things are more important than the sex, and thank heavens everything is normal. But we were all about bursting by the time she got around to it.

Enough with the build-up. It's a girl. The technician got a good look from several angles; later the doctor came in and concurred. Ed teared up a bit but admitted that was what he expected. Ginger flat-out bawled, "But I want a brother!" (I later lectured her on the virtues of Girl Power and she has started to come around.) Like I said, I would have been excited either way; I was just relieved to know.

Three girls! That's it. No longer am I conservatively buying gear, coats and even shoes in neutral colors like gray, brown and green, on the off-chance we have a boy someday and can use them for him. From now on, we are going full-blown pink with abandon. Hearts, dress-ups, princesses. The technician made a joke about buying stock in detangler. That's the spirit!

The thing is, I am a third girl. For that, I feel a deep and special bond with this one that likes to kick me with her own little morse code. To me, she is definitley not just one more in the line-up. She's the one I understand. She's the one I've been waiting for.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


For your information, there is one holiday treat going up every single day in December over on The Virtual Goody Plate, just like last year. Go check it out once in awhile - you don't want to miss this!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The Party Pots Box

Most families have holiday traditions. Things like caroling to the neighbors, making goody plates, playing Secret Santa, or helping at a soup kitchen. Last year I introduced you to one Younce Christmas tradition, the Horsehead Dirk. Now it's time to tell about the Party Pots.

I'll do my best to explain. The crawl space under the stairs in my parents' house is called The Box Place because that's where empty boxes of all sizes are tossed. Then at Christmas time we would all rummage around in there for boxes to wrap our gifts in. One year, maybe around the late 80's, someone found The Party Pots Box. My mom had gotten the Party Pots at a white elephant party once and promptly left the box - with the pots inside - in the Box Place.

The Party Pots was a set of clear glass dishes shaped to look like flower pots. One was large and had a metal ring that went around the top. A smaller pot hung on that ring, to create a chip-and-dip scenario for all your party needs. The box had pictures on all four sides, in 70's colors and film quality, of different ways you could use the pots. For example, potato chips and onion dip. Shrimp and cocktail sauce. Triscuits and some freaky dip with red dots in it. And of course you could always put flowers in them.

The box was super colorful, the pictures and really the whole idea ridiculous. But it was a great size and shape for wrapping all kinds of things in. So it got used over and over and over, year after year, and became a running joke and eventually a tradition. It was like winning a prize if you unwrapped a gift in it -

"Yay! The Party Pots!" everyone would exclaim. And that's how traditions get started.

After awhile the poor box - it was kind of flimsy - had been taped nearly to death and when we all moved away from home it fell out if circulation. As I wrote this post it was just killing me that I didn't have a picture, or closure, so I called my mom to see if she still had the box. Not only did she, but she knew exactly where it was. The next time I was over there, I took a picture.

I give you...the Party Pots box!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Christmas Book Fest

Ok, ok, ok, geez, it seems like I talk about Christmas books every year. Can't really help it, though. It's not something that gets done and taken care of just once. The kids get older. The collection grows. Comprehension increases, as does selection, each year.

My friend told me about a tradition she read on some blogs, and wants to start this year - that of collecting 25 great children's Christmas books, wrapping them, and opening one each night with her kids, like a book advent. I followed the links she mentioned, which then led to hours and hours of browsing on Amazon, of course.

So a few months ago I started to collect - I bought one or two a week. Sometimes hardcover, sometimes used, sometimes soft. I got many from used sellers and many on 4-for-3 deals. Reading reviews helped me narrow my list. Including the books I already had, I do have twenty-five or more, but I'm not doing the one-a-day thing. As I looked through the stacks critically, I pulled out the books I think are too long or mature for my kids. At 2 and 4 this year they can sit through and understand more complex stories than last year, but we still have to keep the pages turning at a steady clip. So that leaves us with about 15, which I probably will wrap and open one each night until they are all open; then we can spend the rest of the month enjoying and re-reading them.

So here's the list so far. I have a "Still To Get" list that I'll work on over the year, or the next few years since some are for older readers. And as always, I welcome and encourage you to share your favorite Christmas reads so we can all spend more money at Amazon.

My Very Favorites for Kids age 2-6
The Christmas Alphabet by Robert Sabuda (eventually we will probably have to get every Christmas book by him - gorgeous - but we're starting with this one - small pop-ups mean less likely to rip, and each is behind a "door" - fun for kids to open!)
Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal (kind of perfectly up my alley - baking and vocabulary combined in a children's book!)
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Suess
The Little Shepherd Girl by Juliann Henry (I love, love, love this book, especially as a mother of daughters)
Mortimer's Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson (one of the few on my list you can get with the 4-for-3 promo as a hardback)
Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree by Robert Barry
Night Tree by Eve Bunting (after reading this book, my sister in Vermont actually adopted this story as a family Christmas tradition - one of the best I've ever heard)
Room for a Little One by Martin Waddell

Others for age 2-6 that We Will Read This Year
B is for Bethlehem: A Christmas Alphabet Board Book by Bob Harman
Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson (another one that is 4-for-3 eligible in hardback)
Fancy Nancy Spendiferous Christmas by Jane O'Connor (yes, I had to go there)
Humphrey's First Christmas by Carol Heyer
Jingle Bells by Isa Trapani
The Legend of the Poinsetta by Tomie dePaola
The Legend of the Christmas Stocking by Rick Osborne
Santa's Favorite Story by Hisako Aoki
Snowmen at Christmas by Carolyn Buehner
A Wish to be a Christmas Tree by Colleen Monroe
Who Is Coming to Our House? by Joseph Slate

My Other Personal Favs from our Collection
Father and Son: A Nativity Story by Geraldine McCaughrean
The Twelve Terrors of Christmas by John Updike and Edward Gorey (I just can't resist those cynical cold pricklies amongst all the sappy warm fuzzies of the other books!)

Good Ones I'm Saving Until They're a Little Older
A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Tooney by Susan Wojciechowski
Christmas Oranges by Linda Bethers
The Little Fir Tree by Margaret Wise Brown
The Night of Las Posadas by Tomie dePaola
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston

"Still To Get"
A Christmas Bell for Anya by Christ Stewart
Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl Buck
A Christmas Dress for Ellen by Thomas S. Monson
The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck
Cobweb Christmas: The Tradition of Tinsel by Shirley Climo
The Donkey's Dream by Barbar Berger
The Light of Christmas by Richard Paul Evans
The Miracle of the Wooden Shoes by Deborah Pace Rowley
Why Christmas Trees Aren't Perfect by Dick Schneider
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