Every year I’ve tried to do a little something handmade for Christmas. The kids have caught the bug and love to make things for people. Sometimes the results are questionable … but I’ve found that I can really impact the quality of the product by providing good materials. In fact, if you just give them good supplies and no guidance you sometimes get some really creative things.
The theory is – if they can string pasta on yarn, they can string pretty beads on a nice chord. Understandably this is a choking hazard for little little kids but if you can trust them to not eat the goods, you can give them good things to work with.
I started with Oriental Trading Company online looking for some cool bits and pieces for them to create into gifts for teachers and friends. Oriental Trading is my go-to, not just because they sponsored this post but because the prices are fantastic for the quality AND it isn’t the ‘same old stuff’ you find in the craft area of WalMart or Joanns. By virtue of being online, they can have a million things for Christmas or charms for any hobby where a store has to limit what is on the shelves. Niamh actually helped some this year and selected a cute bunch of snowflake charms, a winter mix of charms, and a solid style bracelet. I supplemented with a specialized ‘teacher pack’ and per Zoe request something ‘with a dog and best friend’.
It all arrived and the kids could not contain themselves. I had to hold them back from instant creation because we were about to eat Thanksgiving dinner and that is NOT the time to bust out the beads. When things mellowed out the got to the organizing side of things, sorting out all the different things into our ‘upcycled’ craft organizer – egg crates.
The rest I left up to them. Niamh went classic with an arrangement of charms on a bracelet, she even made a custom on for her snow hating teacher.
Fiona went a totally different way and used almost all large beads and then put the whole thing on a necklace and it looks pretty cool like a big pendant.
Niamh actually did way more on the bracelet, adding spacer beads etc but just in case her teacher is reading I’ll keep some details a surprise for Christmas!
I love that they feel confident that people will love what they create, I love helping build that confidence by giving them the tools to actually make quality things. And by ‘make’ I mean like how I ‘make’ a cake from a nice packaged box and some eggs and water – There is no way I can make as good from scratch in as little time with as consistent results.
No people, no explanation – of my world
The day I’m confused about my culture more than normal because I’m not ‘allowed’ to do or like things NOT in my culture of birth but everyone can be Irish if they feel like it. I also don’t especially know if I’m all that Irish. However, based on my research from my Irish cousins and FancyPaperBlog there is very little difference beyond some vocabulary from my life here and their lives there. (except for the president… I can’t guess the current president of Ireland and I can only name one; Mary Robenson, and our presidents seem to get more international notoriety) So I am Irish and so are you, unless you super identify with some other culture.
American Irish, mixed with Pinterest and hallmark, creates a bit of a crazy little holiday focused on green and rainbows. School lunch today was desirable so no cute lunches to pack but I did break out the special ‘rainbow’ cereal for snacks. They left an entire beer * and some soda bread for our resident leprechaun, Mr McCabbage, who ate and drank it all, leaving a spill of gold wrapped chocolate for them to find. The tricky guy also dyed the milk green and also poured some on the floor **
Tonight we are having soda bread and soup, good for lent and all that. When the kids asked why we didn’t celebrate more since this was ‘our’ holiday I gave them my dad’s answer that this is day to go to church in Ireland…
Still like celebrating things that have no more sress then what you personally choose. I celebrated by doing my part of the tax prep and taking a short nap all while looking like an Irish Ari flight attendant.
*Lars thought someone loved him since that ‘door’ is right above his office so he drank it
**Lars also accidently spilled a dish of cereal and Niamh saw him cleaning it up and deduced that the tricky leprechaun had made a mess.
Edit – I googled the president of Ireland and he is also on twitter. To support my Irish side, I’m following him now. You also get to be president of Ireland for 7 years, thats a long time…
This year, I’m not sure if because it is a Tuesday or what, I’m not doing as much as usual. I’m actually not even going to see Lars because tonight is the SCA kids practice and also my PTO meeting so we will be in opposite directions until about 8:30. After that we plan on a nice take out sushi dinner but really, I don’t doubt his love in general.
I did have fun with valentines for the kids. I took a cue from all the cute photo strips we have as favors from recent weddings and decided to DIY one. The internet is full of other people who thought of this first but this is how I did it;
- Took a ton of pictures of each girl holding a dry erase board where they wrote each part of the message. Take A LOT because half of them will be too silly or full of frowns
- cropped them to be square in my computer
- used the collage option to line up the 4 pictures in a strip. I choose to have white borders on a pink background. You can also do this in excel, sometimes it is easier in excel!
- Sent the image to our local UPS store and then talked to them so they knew what I wanted, and, printing is one of those things personal attention is worth doing.
- Paid a whole $10 for 35 strips (2×8 if you are looking for dimensions) for each of the kids. That is $10 for 105 strips total.
- Cut up some pretty washi tape so the kids could tape on pencils (totally optional)
- They wrote names and taped pencils no problem and it only took about 20min
I love that getting them printed is so economical because I figure I would have spent $3 per ‘kit’ at walmart and I would have needed 4 at least since they are usually only 24 so I’m saving money, and, it is something I get to keep and love. I know, there is a ton of time involved between taking pictures and edits but for me, that is the fun part. This didn’t even need hot glue so I consider it an easy one.
Finally, I must add a new addition to the valentines traditions. Apparently, as they get older, the valentines box becomes homework, and Niamh had her heart set on a Giraffe valentines mailbox. It is a STEM school and I like that they described this as a building project and include the design-refine-spend time method. I talked her out of having the mouth be the mail slot because… engineering… but I do like the final result. It could be better but she procrastinated until yesterday afternoon to even start and I refused to do it without her (because I wanted her to do it over the weekend when we had time).
So I hope you all have nice days and nights and a pleasant February 14th in general.
Oriental Trading is known for many things, but, for me, there will ALWAYS be rubber ducks. When Niamh was a little little girl and I had night classes a friend watched her, to ‘pay’ I sent a duck with Niamh every week to give to her daughter who was 2.5 and not into sharing her mom. That started my duck collection because I couldn’t just send the same duck each week, I needed variety!
Then I had friends with kids with allergies and I learned that there are more options than candy on Halloween. I got ‘spooky’ ducks and they went first, everyone wanted a duck more than candy.
When I found out there was actually a HOLIDAY for rubber ducks I could not let it pass. Oriental Trading partners with bloggers and I’m lucky enough to be one of them and they gave me ducks in return for this post. (fair trade, I’ve already given them tons of money for ducks).
I decided that for duck day, I would share the love of ducks. I ordered 11 dozen ducks with the goal to give them all away. Ok, I’m keeping some, there are some cute ones. So I’m giving away 10 dozen ducks! This is easier said than done and it is going to take a while but since I got them last Friday;
Sunday we went to the MN Science museum and I handed out ducks to any kid I saw being nice. I also sent the kids out to hand out ducks too, nice lesson in random kindness.
Tuesday I saw an acquaintance in the grocery store, I handed him a duck and while I said it was for his baby, you know who is going to be playing with that duck.
Yesterday and today I didn’t actually leave the house much other than the gym so operation #ducktheworld was on hold and since tomorrow is the day I thought I should get this posted so if you feel so inclined to celebrate tomorrow, you have adequate warning.
My pocketbook is stocked with ducks and my plan is to give them away to good kids (or sad kids). I like to reward good behavior and now I have stock to do so.
If you have any cool rubber ducks, post them tomorrow #ducktheworld and I’ll be joining you too. If you don’t think you need any, consider adding them to your holiday table or basically any occasion since there is a duck for just about everything.
Edit to add- I just got an awesome direct link to some coupons. Enjoy!
We are home!
One of the tricky things about travel over Christmas is what to do about gifts. Do you do them before the trip or after or drag them along on your trip? This is doubled or tripled by what does your family do? Give in person or ship to your home? Complicate that more by variables unique to each situation and you get quite a situation.
We have been doing this for years and have come up with a few things that seem to help so if you are thinking of traveling during Christmas and wondering what to do here is what works for us;
- If we are traveling very close to Christmas we do gifts before we leave
- Also if something that is a Christmas gift but also needed on the trip
- If we are leaving well before Christmas (like this time) we told the kids the gifts would be waiting when we got home and we would do Second Christmas
- To make this work well I wrapped gifts well before we left and put them out so they could be shaken and wondered about, physical proof gifts exist
- Had a friend put out the last few gifts and arrange them a bit and text a picture so on Christmas morning I could show the kids that Santa had come and set the gifts out just like normal and there they were, waiting for them.
- “santa” still came to us in Hawaii, but, for us Santa fills the stockings so that wasn’t hard to do there
- Make Second Christmas a real deal – We got home late and groggy and cranky from travel and I made the kids wait one more night so this morning we woke up to Second Christmas where we had fancy pancakes and talks with relatives as we opened gifts and I’m treating the whole day like a private Christmas.
- Also talking up the fact that we have an extra Christmas day full of family time and nice food etc helped them feel good.
Bottom line is that we talked honestly about what would happen and how and why over and over to make sure they knew. Also, a good time to work on the fact that a trip to Hawaii and all the fun things we did were part of their Christmas, and, spending time together is better than spending money on gifts… However, that is a concept that is beyond many adults so I had realistic expectations for my kids and they did really well. Especially well now that they have their second Christmas 🙂
They did thoroughly enjoy what we got them and what was sent from family. It seriously sounds like Christmas here today with all the playing with all the toys.
Next I need to tackle the unpacking. Our flight was nasty timing, departing at 11:50 pm meant that we couldn’t really have a normal bedtime but on the positive Zoe and Niamh and Lars slept. Fiona kept half waking up and freaking out so she and I did not get much rest. Landing in LA at 7:30am with a 2-hour layover was not too bad. You need at least 30min in LAX to get to the right place so we had enough time for a little breakfast and getting where we were going. I was a zombie and Niamh kept falling asleep everywhere but we did ok. Thankfully we had Vacation Mom to pick us up and we got home and ordered pizza and told the kids to eat and watch TV while we went to sleep. Lars actually ended up sleeping on both flights so he was reasonable when we got home and went to work to pre-catch up.
I’m, not unexpectedly, unsure on what day it actually is but I know we have a weekend and new years day to go so we have plenty of time to readjust to this time zone and weather. The house is decent, I need to grocery shop, but I did leave my sisters with clean laundry so I’m going to enjoy this day.
PS. this day for me made possible by my prents getting married 38 years ago. Happy Anniversery!