Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Holiday Craftiness

I often get the crafting bug and see so many little things I'd like to do.  The bug is especially common around holidays.  I've gotten better lately about actually gathering the supplies and taking the time to do the crafts and I truly enjoy this "me" time.  I get a good dose of happiness when inspecting a finished project and the "I did it myself!" pride from toddler hood just doesn't fade.  Becoming a Mommy has opened lots of avenues for creativity and I have to thank Pinterest for inspiring me.  I love doing little projects, but coming up with them myself is another story.  I have enjoyed starting with one person's idea and making it my own.  I've made sensory and fine motor "toys" for Becker by recycling items around the house.  I made birthday decorations, holiday gifts and special keepsakes.

I wouldn't say I could tackle building a shelf out of crates or sewing a quiet book just yet (both things I'd love to be able to do), but I'm into a certain level of DIY.  The paint and hot glue gun level as opposed to the drill and sewing machine level.  My projects have to be fairly quick to complete because let's be honest, time is not something I have a whole lot of just laying around waiting to be filled.  I also do not have space for an ongoing project to remain ongoing, so I take on the smaller set of projects that can be completed in one or two evenings.


Ever since we got married I wanted to hang mistletoe at Christmas.  There was something about getting kissed under the mistletoe from all of those songs and stories that I just wanted NEEDED.  Seven years in and I never found any.  This year I saw a post on Pinterest and knew it would solve my mistletoe dilemma.  Felt mistletoe I can use year after year!  And it's super cute.  I used this lovely tutorial and made four mistletoes in one evening.  One for us, and three to give as gifts.  Score!  I love how it turned out and now I get to experience getting kissed under the mistletoe every day.  Becker thinks it's fun.

Salt Dough Ornaments:
Some crafts end up being "we" time and that totally rocks.  Last year we made these glitter hand print ornaments to give everyone as gifts.  They turned out great and I wanted to find another craft we could do together this year. 

2011: 10 month Becker hand.

Becker can participate so much more this year so there are more options.  Pinterest inspired me once again and I decided I had to make these salt dough hand prints to preserve Becker's hand print before it gets any bigger.  The recipe said it made 12 hand prints so I thought it was the perfect activity to prepare for our turn to host playgroup.  The four kiddos each made 2 hand prints as that was the extent of their interest with the pumpkin muffins and wood trucks beckoning from the other room.  I had a lot of dough left over so I rolled it out and used some heart and circle cookie cutters to make ornaments during Becker's nap.

Growing up, we had a whole shirt box of painted salt dough ornaments the three of us had made in preschool. These were the ornaments we could touch and hang ourselves.  Everything I hung on our tree at his level is not breakable, but I thought it would be fun for him to make some ornaments himself.  I was going to wait a few days and tackle the painting when I had a whole afternoon to devote to it, but as luck would have it an opportunity presented itself when I got home from work the next day.  Becker was interested in the bowl of baked "cookies" and I asked him if he wanted to paint them.  He gave an enthusiastic "yes!" so I taped some newspaper to the counter, grabbed my art box of acrylic paints from college and let him go to town.

This is probably his third time using paint brushes and he liked the sponge brush best.  He also enjoyed using his hands and fingers to paint as well as spreading paint with a toothpick sword.  I had expected to need to do this in two or three separate sittings because there were several ornaments to paint, but his interest stuck and he painted all of the ornaments.  He went back and added paint to some after they were done and wanted his hands or the brushes washed a few times to start fresh.  I loved watching his focused, artistic side come out during this activity.  He didn't even need a bath afterwards!  Just a good handwashing.

While he was sleeping I sealed the ornaments with Modge Podge and added silver ribbon.  We put a few on our tree and decided the rest will make perfect gift adornments for grandparents and family members.  I am really happy with the new additions to our tree.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Pickle on the Shelf

This is our first year with the Elf.  If you are not familiar with this tradition, check it out here.  I heard about the tradition a few years before Becker was on our radar and instantly wanted to add it to our holiday fun.  Our elf came to us via my sister and just thinking about starting the tradition got me so excited I couldn't sleep the week after Thanksgiving. Creative hiding places swirled in my head after scouring Pinterest and Instagram for ideas.  This year will be our easiest year so I can't throw out all of the punches quite yet.  I do realize that I have just set myself up for many, many years of coming up with creative hiding places and fresh ideas, but it's also pretty fun as parents and we are enjoying the game as well.  The good thing about this year being our first is that Becker won't mind if the elf forgets to find a new hiding place and we don't have to explain the nuances too much.  Keeping him out of reach is pretty easy with a two-and-a-half foot kiddo, and keeping him in plain sight for us is still a bit of a hunting game for Becker.

Before Thanksgiving we told Becker an elf would be coming to visit us when we got our Christmas tree.  We read the book and Becker picked the name "Pickle" for his elf.  We have no idea where he got the name, but it stuck and each time we read the book leading up to the arrival of the elf, Becker reaffirmed his name choice.

Can you find Pickle?

Mark decided Pickle would arrive somewhere in or on the tree.  I bought Becker some new holiday jammies for Pickle to bring him as the first Christmas present.  On December 1st we set out to choose our Christmas tree so Pickle could come that night.  We got Becker all excited again and read the book and talked about how the elf would becoming that night.  He was into it!  The morning was another story though.

Sometimes Becker wakes up like me and pops out of bed ready to take on the day, and sometimes he lags and takes a while to really wake up, more like Daddy.  He certainly has both of our traits!  On the slow days he can't decide if he wants to get up or not and rolls around in his crib whining about how he wants to stay in the crib.  It's just harder for him to get going on those days and he doesn't want me to leave once I've entered the room.  Sometimes reading a few books gets him ready to greet the day, other times it's the prospect of his banana waiting downstairs.  This one day when I was hoping he would fly out of bed and run downstairs was one of those slow days.  He did not want to come out, he did not care that the elf had come.  He did not want to look for him.  He did not want Bodi in his room.  So I waited.  It seemed like a long time, but finally he was ready to greet the day and find the elf.  He walked down the stairs peering below at the lit up tree.  "Christmas lights!" he exclaimed.  I loved watching him discover the decorations we had put up while he slept.  Once he got downstairs he forgot about the elf and was way more interested in the sheep from the nativity scene.  "Baa baa black sheep" he called out pointing to them.  I gave him all four sheep and he sat in front of the tree playing with them.

Soon enough he was ready to look for the elf in the tree.  This first time required lots of hints, but once I held him up high, he found Pickle at the top.

His big, proud smile as he pointed to the top was priceless.  Pickle was holding a note and had brought Christmas books, an ornament and a present for Becker.  The jammies were a real hit because they had penguins on them.  He wanted to put them on right away.

On the morning of day 2 I told Becker that Pickle was hiding in a new spot.  He was catching on to this game and ready to go look for him.  I asked him where he thought Pickle might be today and he said "tree."  When he came downstairs and started looking.  He does a very exaggerated, full body "look" when he is searching for Pickle.  It's priceless and did not take long for him to find him on top of the tv, smiling down at us.  Becker said he was on top of the "picture."  I love that he has no idea what a tv is.

On day 3 Pickle had made muffins for playgroup and Becker saw them on the table as he walked down the stairs.  He said, "Cupcakes! Thank you Pickle!"  I'd say he's having fun with it.

I'll post a collage of all of Pickle's hiding places after Christmas.