Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Matisse and Cassatt

I mentioned earlier that The Offspring were in charge of the grandparents' and great-grandparents' gifts this year.

They painted pictures. I have been anxious to do this since seeing Lia's family picture. It is classic kid art...the best art around as far as I'm concerned.

I painted the backgrounds blue.

The Boy sketched his pictures ahead of time.

The Girl painted extemporaneously.

I had plenty of paint brushes so we didn't have to worry about rinsing them with each color change.

Cups of water and wet paper towels were also close at hand.

I was really impressed with the time taken on every picture and the thought that went into the subject matter. Both of The Offspring gave consideration to what each grandparent would like based on their interests.

They painted four canvases apiece. I thought this would take a couple of days, but they were able to complete them in one session...with an M&M break, of course.

A few of the finished pieces:

Self portrait of The Girl and Teddy,
by The Girl.

Blue Bird, by The Boy.

Flower Garden, by The Girl.

Vegetable Garden, by The Boy.

I'm happy to report that all grandparent-types were quite taken with their gifts this year.

And I'm quite taken with this new gift-giving tradition.

Next Year...

Every year when the Christmas season has come to an end and it's time to pack away holiday treasures, I start to think about next Christmas. Being a "planner", I make mental lists of what I'll do the same, what I'll do differently, what I'll add, and what I'll cut from the list.

*I am going to start researching trees. I am tired of getting a tree and it being a droopy, brittle mess by the time Christmas morning rolls around. I love having a real tree...but what's the point if it looks like the Charlie Brown tree on the 25th? Surely there is a living tree that doesn't crap out a week too soon.

*I liked the simplicity of the jarred peppermint bark we made this year. It wasn't too costly or time intensive, yet it made for a lot of gifts that looked really pretty. I am going to keep my radar tuned for other similar gift ideas.

*I'm going to start working on stockings and a tree skirt now. Especially the stockings. I have an intense dislike for our stockings. They are lame. Boring. Lacking anything close to character. This must change.

*I want to have a simple advent calendar. I have a few ideas floating in my head, I just need to narrow it down and bring it to fruition.

*We will have more lights on our tree next year. I don't string as many as I would like because I know the extra weight will make the droopy-tree factor even worse. Hopefully solving the tree conundrum will allow for more glitz on the boughs.

*The ornaments and decorations that we made this year were really pretty and fun to make. And it was so simple. The banner pictured above is one of my favorite additions. The Offspring went to Mom & Pop's house for the weekend and made "ornaments" from paper cut outs and pictures. There were too many to put on the tree, but I still wanted to showcase them. I ran them through the laminating machine at school and decided to crochet a simple chain, string it across a door frame, and hang them with ornament hooks. Instant holiday kitsch. Love it.

*The Offspring made all grandparent and great-grandparent gifts and will do it again next year. They put a lot of thought into what they were making and the gift was more meaningful to the recipients and to The Boy and The Girl. Plus, it was a big stress relief for me. Added bonus.

*Me and Santa are going to wrap all gifts in the Sunday comics next year. My grandparents always did this when I was growing up and I loved it. Not only is it cheaper, but it can be recycled easily. The packages are colorful and bring back such fond memories for me...and will hopefully create another holiday memory for The Offspring.

*I didn't send out Christmas cards with our family newsletter or picture this year. I'm torn on this one. Part of me feels guilty. But it was an expense that I decided to cut because all those stamps, cards, printed pictures, and stationary gets pricey! Most of my friends and family are on Facebook or read this blog, so they know what's going on in our world...but some, like my grandparents, don't own a computer much less have Internet access. I think next year I will split the difference and just send them to the technologically-disadvantaged crowd.

*I will read more Christmas books at home. Being a teacher, I read tons of books in school but not so much at home. Call it burn-out or laziness; I have no excuse. Next year I will be better. This is one of those "simple things" I want to tie into the advent calendar.

That's my list thus far. And it's only five days out.

What tweaks are you making to next year's festivities? Or is this another example of my craziness?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Festive Bits

I am still enjoying the holiday memories...

Sweet notes written by tiny hands.

Candy within arm's reach.

Looks of anticipation.

A brand new doll.

Santa's cookies fresh from the oven.

That "can't wait until morning" feeling.

A special picture for the workshop up north.

A thank you note from someone special.

If you look close you can see a piece of his snowy beard...evidence that Santa did indeed make a stop at our house.

Mounds of paper wrappings.

Sorry, landfill.





More play.

A happy little girl.

A happy little boy.

It's bittersweet:

Tomorrow the decorations will be packed away. The tree carcass will be carted off. The pine needles swept from the floor.

But the magic will return again... year.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas Y'all...

Another Christmas is in the books...

Santa has come. He enjoyed his cookies. Many gifts were left under the tree.

The Offspring were awake bright and early. Many gifts were opened. Vast amounts of wrapping paper were left strewn about.

Toys have been wrangled from their childproof packaging.

A nap was covertly taken while The Boy and The Girl were occupied with their new treasures.

Soon we will be making our way to see family, both near and far. To laugh, eat, drink, and reminisce.

Thank you Blog Land friends. I hope your holiday has been blessed.

From my little corner of the world, to yours...Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Take This, Blog Land Joneses...

I mentioned that I was not going to attempt keeping up with the Blog Land Joneses. It's futile.

But we haven't waved the white flag of surrender either.

We did some late night ornament making. I had some styrofoam balls, ribbon, sequins, and pearlized pins on hand.

So we got busy.

It was easy, cheap, and quick. They are now on the tree and fit in well with all the other favorites.

We also constructed a gingerbread house. Only it's not made of gingerbread.

It's a cheater house. We use an empty box, some tub icing (the more hydrogenated, the better it sticks), and graham crackers.

So. Much. Easier.

Candy is applied. Lots of candy.

Candy galore.

Welcome to our mid-century modern gingerbread house.

Eichler, eat your heart out.

You too, Blog Land Joneses.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Flooded With Memories

My folks finally let me pillage our old Christmas ornaments. They have tub after red & green tub full of baubles, nutcrackers, Santas, and snowmen.

But I was on a mission. I knew exactly what I was looking for...

Little Red Riding Hood. When you pull the string her arms and legs swing outwards.

I remember always loving her red Mary Janes.

Our original Santa. It's the only ornament that Pops would add to the tree.

It's true that he is a mere shadow of his former self, but he will always be Pop's Santa.

Sweet Angel. I love her simple wooden face, tiny eyelashes, and eyelet dress.

This is me: the ornament version. Mom has a habit of collecting little ornaments and figurines that look like me. Basically, if it has brown hair, it's me.

She is cute. Love the hat...but there's no way I'd wear that get-up she has on.

There I am again...holding the envelope and wearing red shoes.

It's not in focus, but that big red plastic boot with the mouse has been around since Pop's Santa. Maybe it was a two-for-one deal.

I made this in Kindergarten. My mom has always treated it like a national treasure.

At one time I hated this being on our tree. I have since found a new appreciation for the simple construction paper and cotton ball Santa Claus.

Another Kindergarten gem: the pine cone Christmas tree.

I have such a clear memory of making this. My teacher called us up one by one. We chose our pine cone and then drizzled bottled glue all over its surface. It was placed in an old-school Folgers coffee can that was filled with glitter and beads. Once the lid was closed tight we could shake. Shake-shake-shake. When the can was opened, our tree was a sparkling wonder.

Most of the glitter and beads have gradually worn away, despite my Mom's careful wrapping. But I still remember how pretty it was in its heyday.

Raggedy Ann & Andy. These are about as perfect as an ornament can be. What do they have to do with Christmas? I have no idea. They aren't holding candy canes or wreaths. But ornaments they are...and I love them.

The Corncob Lady. That's what we call her. She is my favorite ornament EV-ER. Look at her. She's just beautiful. She has always reminded me of my mom.

She has such a delicate face. Check out her bag...trendsetter. And her fabric choice is impeccable. Hard to believe that she is just a rolled and folded corn husk.

Flooded with memories from childhood. That's how I feel when looking at these little bits and pieces of Christmas.

Brilliant, wonderful, clear as day memories.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Toy Purge

The upcoming Christmas holiday can mean only one thing: toy purge.

For those of you playing along at home, I have a smidgen of OCD. If you doubt me, I give you exhibits A, B, and C to name a few.

My children do not have this character flaw.

To keep the debris field created by the two miniature tornadoes that reside inside my home within bearable limits, I do a toy purge twice a year.

As you can see, it was needed.

We made our way to IKEA to gather supplies.

The Mr. loves assembly work.

It's always darkest before the dawn.

May The Boy's talking ninja and The Girl's Dora kitchen forever rest in peace.

Aaaahhh. Much better.

Bevo gives his approval.

Thanks to The Mr., The Offspring now have proper bookshelves:

I took this picture about three seconds after placing the books upon the shelves. It is the first and last time they have looked so orderly.

Great. Another thing to drive me batty.

What to do with all those misfit toys? I take some to my classroom. The rest are donated to a local daycare.

I can now enjoy minimalist closets.

Until Santa arrives and derails my plan. Ho. Ho. Ho.