Wednesday, December 17, 2014

I see what you're saying, dad...

A few weeks ago my parents were here for Thanksgiving, along with our brother Karl, and my dad was nudging me that my blog has been sorely neglected. Of course, I thought, it's been a few weeks... so tonight I sat down to fill in a post or two and MAN! I've only posted about 5 times since the summer ended! Just terrible. But lamenting is not what this blog is about! Starting from where we are and moving forward, that's what we do best! That's probably what I do best because I want to forget, and want other people to forget, that I make mistakes, and I would like to avoid revisiting those uncomfortable moments if at all possible. I'm just waiting for Alzheimers to set in so I can finally comfortably live my life. But moving on....

Thanksgiving was great! I was so awesome to have family here... more family than already lives across the street, that is... and the kids really reveled in their grandparents being around. My dad got Nerf footballs for the boys and tried teaching them to throw and catch; he declared them "atrocious," but at least they had fun! He also taught Patrick how to play chess; unfortunately, chess is one of those "use it or lose it" kind of skill games, so I suppose it falls to Joe and I now to practice getting trounced at chess rather than simply enjoying a lively and mindless round of Pass the Pigs. During the week we ate like kings! I think Kari and I outdid ourselves planning delicious meals, and my parents outdid themselves bringing in delicious take-out for the gaps in our planning. You just don't want to cook EVERY DAY of vacation, right? And there was even one day where we were so perpetually full we skipped dinner entirely and just brought in DQ Blizzards around 8 p.m. Thanksgiving itself was a feast - I had a goal of not fatally ruining any of the dishes I was in charge of, and I happily succeeded! My turkey was gorgeous, done on time, and carved like a pro by myself; my sweet potato casserole was to die for (yes, people have actually died from how good it is); and this year I even remembered to put sugar in my pumpkin pie! No flops from my kitchen! Karl was the only one who hit the gym during the week, so the rest of us ended our Thanksgiving break with a little extra waddle in our step. Which is exactly how Thanksgiving should be.

Unfortunately, with Thanksgiving so late this year, people left our homes and BOOM! December hit the next day. I was thoroughly unprepared. I had great intentions to do some of the activities we did last year, Gratitude Bags and whatnot, but by the time I pulled myself together it was mid-month and it just wasn't gonna happen. But not to fear! We've had fun along the way. We got our christmas tree, a sprightly little thing from Lowe's, and Joe set it up without ANY cursing and flinging of objects - a Christmas miracle right there! I whipped up some salt dough and had the kids roll it, cut it into ornaments, I baked them, then they painted all the ornaments, and THOSE are our Christmas tree decorations.

I have beautiful ornaments, many from my childhood and more beautiful additions as my children have arrived, but I keep remembering my Epic Fit of 2012 and how stressed I was about kids breaking things and I think.... let's keep this easy, breezy, and happily breakable! I think the tree looks great, they are so proud of themselves and their hard work, and everyone wins while my precious things stay intact for one more year until the kids are slightly older and less clumsy. I promise I'll get them all out! Just not this Christmas.

One of the reasons I did not hit December's ground running was that I was in a bit of a crafting bind. Since this fall I have slooooowly been plugging away on a Busy Book for Elsha's son Daniel, to help with fine motor skills, but the time had come to put my nose to the grindstone and crank the book out. Right at that grindstone moment a call came in for a sewing favor and I was immediately redirected into a 10-hour project of creating a full-body costume of the dog Spike, Snoopy's brother, for a Peanuts Christmas play at a local school. Whoa! Unexpected! So as soon as I got that done I could get my nose to the grindstone, except WHOOPS! Time to pull something together for Caroline's birthday! Okay, first nose to the grindstone on a cake and a gift, THEN busy book... So I finished the costume, finished the birthday, and finally finished the busy book and NOW I'm ready for an old-fashioned Christmas countdown... starting on December 17th. BAAAAAAH. So we do what we do, I get Christmas-y where I can, and mostly I turn on Pandora to blast holiday music so it seems like whatever I am doing (whether decorating a tree, crafting, or just washing dishes) is a holiday-themed event.

Now it's time for Elsha to avert her eyes while I get braggadocios about that busy book! Here it is:
 Cover page. Nobody's hands in particular, I free-handed them. Pun-y, but true. All the pages are edged with binding for a nice polished look.
 Instead of a straight abacus page I put lettered beads, and each line spells the name of someone in their family.

 Zippers. You can never have too many zippers.

 Velcro page. The frog's mouth opens up, his tongue is elastic and is attached to the back of the page through a small hole in his mouth. the end of his tongue is the hook side of velcro, and all the fly wings are the loop side of velcro, with a button for the body just for cute's sake.

 The button page. The tires button on and off, but are handily attached to the page so you don't end up with a cute but tire-less page (my main complaint on the way most busy books are created).

 A page of my own invention! Pockets. The pig is for saving, the pocket for shopping, and the money is laminated monopoly money. Lucky for me, we have a Monopoly game we never play since we discovered Monopoly Deal, which is 1,000 time better and faster and funner (funner? Yep, funner).

 Hide-and-seek and clasp page. Both dog ears fold down to reveal and bug, and handily (and cutely) cover the dog's eyes. They are googley eyes - to make sure they stay put I hot-glued them and then sewed them to the page. The eyes are made of pretty thin plastic so a sharp needle went right through and I tacked them each down in four spots. No choking hazards for my nephew! The collar is a clasp, and the tongue above it is free to wag.

 Back page. I didn't want anything movable, since it's a cover and could potentially get ripped off, so I just did a nice alphabet with iron-on letters.

All in all this trumped the Spike costume in time spent, but I am so happy at how it turned out! Possibly even MORE pleased that I knuckled down and got it done and mailed in time for Christmas! See, who needs countdown activities when there are Christmas miracles happening all around us?

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