Friday, December 27, 2013

2013 Homemade Christmas

As soon as we see friends and family on Christmas and soon thereafter, one of the first questions they ask is "Did you guys do homemade gifts this year?!" Yes - we did it again although for the first time ever I was making things on Christmas Eve day. December has been really busy for all of us and it just felt like there was never enough time in the day to get everything done. And as usual, I had to remind Jack about 5 times that he needed to get making his gifts...and I ended up having to give him one of my ideas because he couldn't think of anything. Hence the reason I was making things on Christmas Eve. But I refuse to give up this tradition because the gifts are always amazing and thoughtful. Here's the rundown on what we gave each other: I have my own personal candy stash in a "secret" location that everyone knows about. But everyone knows to never eat my candy. I just like a little bite of chocolate each day. Not a full size candy bar or anything but just a morsel of chocolate so I keep my treats in my own spot so no one eats them. Jack made me a candy stash box, that he painted pink and green, and filled with my favorite candy. And for a kid that loves candy, this must have been torture for him to make :) Each week I make a menu of what we are going to have and then I make the grocery list based on that. Then I have to remember not to throw out the grocery list when I get home because the menu is on there. So, Tim made me a grocery notebook with pre-perforated sections that I can write my menu on and then a section that I can write my list on and rip out. Then I can look back at the menus so I can get ideas on what to have each week. You know I love my lists and notebooks so this was great! Mimi has been taking a ceramics class this semester and she had told me that one of her pieces had been put on display at school but it never came home. Well, it did for Christmas and let me tell you, it is definitely worthy of its showcase status. It is an oval navy blue platter with a white lace type pattern imprinted in the center. It's absolutely beautiful! Mimi has one brown accent wall in her room and the other walls are pink. Jack spray glued her light switch and put brown glitter on it. It turned out great...although I have to put some spray poly on it because we were all wearing glitter by the end of opening our gifts. It is going to look amazing on her wall! Mimi is very artistic and loves to draw fashion outfits. She gets inspired by magazines and cuts outfits out and then makes up her own. This means that there are magazine clippings constantly falling off her desk and littering her floor. Tim made her a fashion sketchbook by getting her a big sketchbook and attaching a large see through envelope for all her clippings. On the front, he used some craft paper, in pink and green of course, and wrote "Mimi's Fashion Book". She loves it and we will love that all those little clippings have a home now. Since I had given Jack my idea of the glitter light switch, I was struggling what to make a the last minute. Then it hit me that she had some leftover flannel fabric that was pink with white whales from a sewing project she had never gotten to. I whipped up 2 pillowcases for her room and I have to say, they were super easy and absolutely adorable! Now I want to make some for the camper. Jack is 2 years away from college (how is that possible?!) and is constantly doing research on different schools. So, I created "Jack's College Notebook". I did research on his favorite schools so far and typed up on the info along with the school logo for each one. The information includes size of school, cost, average GPA, and some information on majors he might be interested in. Then I left empty note pages for him to add his own info on each school, as well as add new ones. Each year Jack and my mother enter a football league and my father does it with my nephew. They compete to see how well they do not only against everyone in the pool but against each other. Each Sunday morning my mother calls Jack for his picks and they go back and forth until they agree on what they are going to put in. And every Sunday morning you can hear Jack yelling "Where is my football sheet?!" So, Mimi made him a Football Pick Organization System which is a red folder that says Football Picks. Inside there are two pockets - one is to hold his football pick sheet and the other is for the articles he cuts out during the week to help him make his decisions. Then there is a notebook for notes. It was a perfect gift for him! Not only is Jack 2 years away from college but he is about 7 months away from getting his driver's permit. Tim made him a box that said "Save or Walk" and it had pictures of the Jeep Cherokee that he wants on it. Inside is a spot for his savings account register so he knows how much money he has saved so far for his car. The gift is very practical and necessary but also hysterical with the "Save or Walk" slogan. Of course both of our kids will have a jeep for their first car because of Tim's love/obsession for Jeeps. A few months ago he went on a Jeep trail in Western, Mass with his father, brother, and a few friends. Jack framed a picture of Tim, his father, and brother from that trip that showed all the Jeeps lined up in the back. It was a great picture and a great idea! Now that the kids are older and have busier lives, we find ourselves with more free time. So, I made Tim a date night box. There is one card for each month in an envelope. On the first of each month, he can open his card to see what we are doing and then he can decide when we'll go. They are silly simple things, like going out in the summer on a jeep cruise to get ice cream. It will be interesting to see how many of these we can fit in. I'll keep you posted. And finally, Mimi also made Tim something in ceramics class. Keeping with the Jeep theme she made him a green mug that has the imprint of a Jeep grill on the front and it is splattered with brown paint like mud. It's perfect for him. I'm happy to say that this year we inspired Tim's sister and her family to also start making homemade gifts and it sounds like it went great! My niece Lily is obsessed with horses and actually rides several times a week. I rode from 4th grade to my senior year in high school and when I was little I used to make horse jumps all over my house and spend hours "riding" over them. Lily does the exact same thing and so her brothers made her a horse jump painted with flowers all over it and her name...with the instructions "For outdoor use only". Apparently they don't want her jumping inside anymore. So clever!! Even though we are typically going to the craft store 2 days before Christmas I still love this tradition. I suspect it will come to an end at some point in the near future as the kids go off to college but I hope we can keep it going for as long as we can. I absolutely love the creativity and ideas that everyone comes up with. You should consider doing it too!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Things I am Thankful for...

I can't believe it's been a month since I last blogged. It's not like I've had nothing to say in the last month. If you know me, you know I have plenty to say. But I have no good reason for why I haven't blogged. But rather than dwell on it, let's move on. Since we just had Thanksgiving, I'd like to share some things I am thankful for. I'm kinda obsessed with my new treadmill and Parenthood. I love walking and I hate when it gets cold and dark because it gets harder and harder to motivate myself to get outside. At the end of the winter last year, my treadmill died. I literally wore the tread out. I was very thankful for two things. One, that my treadmill waited to die until it was light in the morning again and two, that the belt didn't bust in two while I was walking on it. I can only imagine what that would have been like. I can see the bubble over your head. You are imagining what that would be like, aren't you? In my horror film, the belt snaps, I go shooting off backwards like a rocket, but at the last minute my shoelace gets stuck in the motor and I get a tread burn from the belt repeatedly grating against my leg...as I frantically try to pull the kill switch. It's the same every time...no matter how I try to imagine it differently. I digress. So, after walking only on the weekends, and only when I motivated myself to walk in the cold on those weekends, I hit Craig's List and found myself a "barely used" and extremely heavy to move treadmill. This brings me to the next two things I'm thankful for. One, is the dolly that we used to move the treadmill with and two, is the playroom because that is where my new treadmill is living. And that's because it was the closest place to the front door that we could put it. My last treadmill lived in the office, up 2 flights of stairs, and there was no way Tim, Jack, and I could get it up the stairs. After my friend's recommendation to start watching Parenthood, and quite frankly, a lot of nagging... "You haven't started watching it yet?! Why?!"...I decided I would watch an episode each time I walked. I am thankful for both the recommendation and for my new friends, The Bravermans. I literally feel like they are my friends and I can't wait to see what happens next. I know, I sound crazy. That's ok. I like it that much. If you haven't watched it, you should start. After two episodes I asked my friend, "Is it normal to cry during every episode?" Apparently it is. I tried watching it on the train last week and I had to shut it down. I draw the line at boo-hoo'ing on the train over a tv show. I'm not THAT crazy. Speaking of crazy, we went out the night before Thanksgiving, with the rest of the world and everyone was asking each other "What are you doing for Thanksgiving?" I happily replied that we were hanging at home, just the four of us. People typically had two reactions. One was "Ohh...that's nice"...aka, that's sad you have no where to go. The other was "I'm so jealous"...aka, I wish we could do that. We cycle through one of three options every few years. We go to my sister's house, we get together with friends, or we hang at home. We love all of the options. And every few years we decide not to be stressed about cleaning the house, or rushing off to someone's house, or fighting the crowds on the road. And we just do whatever we want. This year we had a WII tournament...we literally haven't played WII in a year. We played games. We lit a fire. We watched a movie. We cooked and ate lots of food. And we do what we always do when we celebrate at home. We moved the kitchen table in front of the fire, turned out the lights, and ate by firelight and candlelight. Okay, to be honest, that lasted about two minutes before the kids said "This seems weird. Why are we eating in the dark?" So...we turned the lights back on. I am thankful my "weird" teenagers let me sit by firelight for two minutes. We also did our favorite thing...which is to dress up on the top and wear pj's or sweats on the bottom. I want us to look good at the table, but be comfortable. And let's be honest...It's what we all want to wear on Thanksgiving....elastic waist pants. Inevitably, we all unbutton, loosen our zipper, and dream we were in our pj's right after we eat so we just go right there. No need to wait. One year, Jack's idea of "fancy" was to douse himself in a bottle of cologne. This year, he "wore" a tie with his long sleeve white tshirt....except he hasn't quite got the tying part down...so he just tied it in a knot around his neck. It was quite a look. I am thankful for our crazy little traditions when we stay home for Thanksgiving. I think everyone should do the same every once in awhile. I can't tell you how many people told me they wished they could do the same but they "have" to get together with their family. You know what? You are your own little family and you are an adult who can do whatever you want. Give yourself permission every once in awhile to do your own thing...to not have plans...to enjoy your own little family unit...and to wear elastic waist pants from the get go. Trust me. You'll be thankful.