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.
We are back 🙂
The kids are fine, the adult in charge of the kids is fine, the house is even fine. I call this a success. We filled in the balance of the afternoon with snuggles.
My only complaints about the weekend are because we are entirely spoiled. The restaurant we choose had a fairly small menu and Lars had a good dish but mine was super bland and not what was on the menu. The breakfast was similar – I cook breakfast foods well enough to know that these were not fresh, they were ok but nothing to rave about. So because we cook too well we are too fussy about the food out in the world. The house was a cool old Victorian with tons of original woodwork and furnishings. It was authentic enough I didn’t want to plug anything extra in and made note of the fire exits just in case. We met another very nice couple and learned a bit of the history of the house. Technically nothing I didn’t guess but the owners were not there and they actually know more details.
We had an odd amount of time this morning so we ended up stopping for Thor Ragnarock and I very much enjoyed it. The theater was a ‘bistro’ so you could order lunch or snacks and there were seats with tables like a first-class airline so it was a very good experience. The movie itself was well done, you can’t help but be inspired by hero movies – heroes are the ones running toward the danger, that is what they do.
Overall a very nice getaway. It is a little town about an hour away and we choose it nearly at random because we just wanted something interesting and unknown to us and that it was. We discovered that they have some really awesome playgrounds and also a great 20mile bike trail so we will probably be back in the spring so the guys training for their 150-mile ride can do a practice round. We also didn’t get to tour what the town was originally famous for – the pottery – but we did go to the shoe museum and saw two very familiar pairs of boots; one my grandfather wore in WWII as a paratrooper and the other my parents wore as 70’s era mountain climbers.
I hope it won’t be years before we do something like this again but it was a special way to celebrate our 13th anniversary.
Today, the day after Halloween, we have our mishmash of religions rolled up into a day to remember those of our family and friends that have died.
Fortunately again, we have made another year without a personal addition to the list.
The point of the exercise is to keep the person alive in our minds, to remember them, for their lives to continue to have an impact and be a part of ours at least one day a year. I have an album with all our people in it but it is packed away for the move so we will have to do something different for the kids this year.
There is one person who is more real to us in death than she was in life… There was a girl killed on the road right by the highschool and her friends and family have made the pole near the site a memorial to her. She was 18, her name was not published in the paper but it is on her pole so we know it but I’ll respectfully not publish it either. It is a version of my name so I’m unlikely to forget. The memorial is diagonally across from a traffic light we stop at every day on our trip to school and at some point last year the girls noticed and asked about it. We talked about what happened and lessons learned on both sides. They are all three extremely sad for a life cut short and also pretty upset for the person who hit her. We have absolutely no idea what happened to the driver but she will not be the same either.
The thing is, that was not the end of it. We see it every day. Whoever is maintaining it is doing a very good job. A good job in both that they are keeping it clean and updated for seasons and also keeping the awareness of their friend or family in the minds of others. Who knows if they will ever know that there are 3 kids who consider this memorial nearly daily. They send good thoughts to the family sometimes and wonder what she might have done if she were still alive others. I do hope they find comfort in their efforts even if they never think it extends beyond themselves.
You know that learning happens all the time, things you don’t expect at times you don’t plan. This girl is remembered, she is teaching, she is not alive but she is present daily. That is my Dio de Muerto as well as my Monday to Friday.
If you lost someone this year I hope you find comfort and remember them today.
Wow, I’m so behind! Well, I’m keeping it together in real life, just neglecting my online duties. These are the things I have to recognize but don’t have time to do right at the moment. They are on my list:
#1 – I was nominated for a blogging award. I’m always flattered when people think my blog is good 🙂 I’ll be doing a better job on receiving it and passing it on ASAP.
#2 – I was also tagged for a 7 days and 7 black and white picture (no people) challenge and I also really want to do it. It just has to wait a couple days.
#3 – I still intend to do the blog every day in November, I need to sign up officially but I again, miss blogging and even have a list now in my book of lists of topics to write about.
Here is what I have been keeping up on; The Election is under a week away, this time next week I will know if all the work went into something productive or if the people who hate taxes won. Seriously, I don’t like taxes, I do like safe streets and our town moving in the right direction. The schools need to be funded. period. When I hear someone complain in the paper about how their taxes will increase by $500 a year I do a little mental math and see that their house is APPRAISED for TAX (not what it would sell on the market for mind you) at over $500,000.00. The tax is under $10 per 100k of home value. Please don’t cry on my shoulder about how you can’t afford it as you sip your $5 latte and type letters to the editor on your brand new laptop. I digress… We pledged a positive campaign and we are sticking by it.
In this last week we have a rally on Saturday, we are doing some last minute press in the paper, and I’m increasing the volume on all our social media. I do hope it works, the alternative is really not fun.
Halloween. I don’t know if the kids noticed but this year we didn’t do as much as normal but I still pulled off a few fun things. The world also wasn’t helping, 2 events we were supposed to go to got rained out. They were all super excited heading out to school today for their Halloween adventures. 1 is going to the pumpkin patch so she had to put on cold weather gear since this week we are at freezing temps. 1 is in the costume parade and 1 is watching and I’ll be there too taking pictures. Tonight we are going to trick or treat door to door with friends and then go to the fantastic indoor party we love. I’m also making the skull-shaped pizza for dinner. Last night was mummy dogs, I’ve been sneaking spiders and eyeballs (fake) into lunches and snacks all last week, and today this is their snack.
I also gave them the once yearly treat of cereal with marshmallows. Who does not love Halloween theme cereal!
And as always we did the shirts for 2 weeks before, here is the final day and while I didn’t do my normal daily picture this outfit was too cute to ignore.
we did the pumpkin carving thing, only one did actual carving and the others painted. It looks pretty idealized in the picture but in reality, I was so tired I could hardly help so they got free reign on design.
We also did get out to two events, a trunk or treat that had a fun little ‘spooky’ music play after. Given that it was at a church they could not resist throwing in some all saints day things and that was actually pretty cool. They also let the kids do a bell song and even with no practice (they held up cards for the color bell) they were ok. Some kids just rang the entire time but they must have special church bells that work together so it was loud but not horrible.
the other event was the Highschool spooky concert. I love that they get so into it and even though the selection of Halloween style music arranged for a band, orchestra and chorus must be limited, they have been different every year.
And I think this is long enough. I have to get out and do some things before the events for today get rolling. Tomorrow we start daily blogging so I’ll put up the costumes in their completeness 🙂 Hope you all have a happy Halloween.
Yesterday was Monday, my well-documented love of Monday persists. It is the day to put things back together or start new things. The kids happily went off to school because, for them, this is a 3 day week. They have Thursday through Monday off for Minnesota’s best made up holiday – MEA (?) weekend. It is a conference, I think, maybe hunting opens? I’m not even sure but I am just glad that random school vacations don’t mean career limiting moves.
I’m cramming what I normally do all week into 3 days but I’m also plotting what we can all do together. Sometimes they are fantastic at helping, sometimes I don’t get anything done. We will have to see… I can say my goal is to get all the winter and summer stuff swapped and maybe, just maybe, make it so a car could park in our garage. Aim high you know.
The title works a little for last weekend too. While not actually a week long, Lars left for an event in way far away South Dakota (11 hours and an entire time zone away) on Friday morning. I had Friday solo and decided to take the opportunity to do one of the local hikes that I had been meaning to do for years. There was a set of difficult people on facebook (politics.. ugh) so a few hours outside taking pictures of fall leaves was just what I needed. I did try and do something responsible by replacing the lightbulbs in my laundry room fixture and I say try because while I did get them replaced I did it wrong and actually broke the fixture… oops put that problem on the shelf for Monday…
My solo weekend was well planned to NOT be particularly solo. Friday we had a long wished for sleepover with one of Zoe’s friends. It was more work than it should have been, who thinks bringing logs from the backyard into the bedroom is a good idea? Saturday morning was not up to par for sleepover fun because we all had early things to do, she had a soccer game and we had a vote yes event. The event went well, there was a great playground but don’t you know it Fiona fell and smashed her face. Not the best exit queue but gets the others going.
The kids were a bit terrible with fighting on Saturday after we got home and my nerves were on edge from dealing with yahoo trolls on the internet, so I was a bit shouty and separated them all but had a light at the end of the tunnel – we had an afternoon outing planned with our old daycare friends. They arrived after lunch and we all went out to the girlscout haunted camp event and it was really fun. The kids pulled it together and were happy and cooperative and Jon is one of those friends that it feels like no time passes. We left the camp due to rain but had been there for 4 hours already! They stayed for some pizza and it was a fun cap to the day.
Sunday everyone actually slept in, making up a bit of sleepover sleep debt. They also played together like it was their job. So well that I called a friend to watch them so I could grocery shop because they didn’t want to leave their game. I needed to tidy and shop because Lars’s cousin was coming to town and we have not seen her (in person) for 6 years or more. Vacation Mom also saved the day by whisking in and talking them all swimming so I could get in a quick workout and finish the cleaning. Everyone needs an extra mom friend on hand! Lars got home just after his cousin arrived and the visit was fantastic. We got all the family info and played a game and had a lovely dinner. She even showed us how to use snapchat, I can’t wait to totally figure it out but it really works well as a kid distractor. The kids were good and while they ducked a few of their standard Sunday chores I’ll take it for their generally great behavior.
It was a long 3 days, I needed my Monday yesterday. Instead of just getting ahead though I decided it was time to fix all the lighting issues in the house. That is a story for tomorrow where hopefully I have a happy ending to the saga but let’s just say if you want some customer service, just drop a giant fluorescent bulb in the store.