Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas, lite

Last Christmas, end-of-pregnancy nesting instincts compounded my excitement to have Christmas in our own home for the first time and I decorated our house like I was born in the North Pole. Here are some photos from my first phase of decorating, then I continued adding green garland and other embellishments even after December 25th had passed.

This year, without any nesting hormones or holiday hosting, my Christmas decorating drive has ebbed to an all-time low. As I’ve dreaded the packing that an early 2012 move might bring, we didn’t even take our Christmas boxes down from the attic, much less put up a tree. I tell myself that it will make seeing Nika and Papi’s grand tree all the more magical for Luke and Eleanor on Christmas Eve. And that less packing and disorganization in January would be better for everyone. Plus it’s nice not supervising two curious kiddos amidst the perils of a cord and ornament-laden tree!

Lest you think I’m a complete Scrooge-mom, we did add a few seasonal touches to our home. First we made a darling Christmas canvas and hung it over the fireplace.

Luke layered green handprints in a tree shape, and then I painted a trunk at the bottom. I tried to let him put the potato star stamp on top, but that resulted in the smudge on the left. So after wiping that off as best I could, Mommy got to stamp the star on top of the tree. Smile 

Luke has also been busy crafting ornaments this month. I searched for a giftable craft that he could accomplish “by Luke self” as he says sometimes. These wreath ornaments made by stringing buttons on a wire seemed like just the ticket. I ordered some button lots on ebay, and Luke did a marvelous job carefully stringing each button in the order he wished on the wire. Then we bent the wire into a circle, twisted it off, and tied a bow on top. Here he is (still looking sickly from the eye/sinus infection that he has shared with our entire family) showing off some of his masterpieces. They look so happy hanging above our table!

Of course, I couldn’t pass up Christmas cards as an easy, personal source of Christmas d├ęcor. So I strung ours up above the windows, along with some green crepe paper that Luke found in a craft box.

Finally, I couldn’t resist one new Christmas purchase. I loved these glitzy trees in Target, and popped them up on our cabinet along with some candles and a plant.

Here’s a zoomed-out view that also shows a green Christmas canvas I printed and a clearance reindeer that Erik soldered back together for me.

Other Christmas staples that I don’t have pictured include our Christmas pillow covers (seen here), Erik working from home in his Santa hat, and our ‘Little People’ nativity playset. Well, it’s off  to elf-duty for me! Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cultivating an Artiste

I’d like to pass on an enthusiasm for childhood crafts to Luke and Eleanor so we can enjoy hours of magic-making together. Art has long been a staple in our activity rotation, but usually I just let Luke color an abstract masterpiece. Recently I realized that Eleanor’s ready for the coloring and it’s time for art projects to begin with Luke! So we’ve been working on adding toddler-friendly crafts to our days.

Of course, we started strong , since it’s always easiest at the outset of a resolution! We did an art/science project, outlined by my friend here. A toothpick becomes a magic swirler when pre-dipped in dish soap and stuck into food coloring drops floating on milk. I found that a shallow layer of milk in a big bowl or pan is the best way to maximize the playtime and minimize your need to run out and buy more milk.

Another lesson I’ve learned is that taking in-progress photos poses a serious risk to the cleanliness of everything in your child’s vicinity. So we’ll have to settle for after shots for the rest of these. You might notice that I’m partial to toddler stamping projects with parent embellishments. Here are a few from a few months back. We just did a Christmas variant on this theme which I’ll post soon, but I had to put up the autumn pics first!

Fingerprint pumpkins – just have your child make orange fingerprints (side-by-side for a big pumpkin, or separate for small ones). Then the parent or child can add smaller green prints on top for the stem.

Fingerprint spiders – purple prints plus marker-drawn legs and faces.

Potato-stamped autumn leaves – it was fun to use a potato from our big Costco sack of them to make leaf-shaped stamps. I drew the trunk with a marker and then Luke printed leaves on top.

I hope we can branch out into other art concepts soon. Luke likes scissors, but he has proven that even pairs which are too kid-safe to cut paper can still be used to clip hair. Maybe gluing will be our next phase?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas card outtakes

Weeks ago we did a Christmas photo shoot but the actual card has yet to be made. And the 25th and our holiday travel is fast approaching! I may just have to make it a New Year’s card (as is becoming my custom), so I’ll share a few of the blooper and runner-up pics while they’re still in season.

It was harder than you’d think to get a shot of them both sitting up.

Christmas miracles… sibling sharing:

Something about the expressions in this one makes me think that Luke’s taking Ella out on a date. “Of course I’ll have her home by 8, sir!”

And finally, a sweet one of my two huggable Christmas elves!

For more L & E Christmas magic, visit our gallery here.