I had such a nice time staying home with the kiddos last week--I realized it was the first time that they have had a school vacation where they didn't have to go to daycare every day (except, I suppose, when M was four and I was on maternity leave, but since he had two baby brothers and one sleep-deprived mama at home those probably didn't feel too much like vacations). We did a lot of sleeping late, hanging out in our jammies and watching Christmas cartoons (Donald Duck and Chip and Dale were big hits with the boys, mainly because they do a lot of shooting and blowing things up), and, when bickering began, playing out in the snow. We also got some craftiness in.
We each got in our stockings one of these rock & roll pine trees from Clickity Clack. This is a neat shop if you like wooden toys but don't like the hefty price of the German ones (or don't have anyone to make them for you). Everything is unfinished, of course, so it requires some work, but that was part of my plan. Last year I bought them each a build-your-own wooden car for Christmas and it took us until August to sand and paint those, so I'm pretty impressed with myself for getting these done before December was out.
E, Z and I spent some time over the course of two days sanding,
I didn't have any beeswax polish, so we rubbed them all over with the leftover wax from beeswax candles and then I put them in the oven on low for five or ten minutes and then rubbed them all over with an old sock. It left a nice smooth finish. I stole the basic technique for finishing from Liv at Fifty-Four Stitches, who actually cuts out her own wood, but I'm not allowed to use power tools ever since I drilled through our plumbing pipes twice when trying to hang a picture; besides, despite coming from a long line of (at least one) Austrian cabinetmakers, I have low patience for woodworking.
Our Christmas village had been ransacked by marauding hordes (trying to reach the light switch behind the TV) one too many times, so I cleared it away and replaced it with this nice peaceful pine forest (Z's are the light green ones, mine is the tall darker green one, E's are the rainbow ones and M's is the unfinished one--he's not into crafting with his mom).
Z drew a small picture of a reindeer with a circle around it that made me think of ornaments, so I set the boys (again just E and Z, no M) to work drawing holiday pictures inside circles drawn with the lid of a jar. I scanned them into the computer and printed them out onto iron-on sheets (I'm not quite sure why I didn't just photocopy them) and ironed them onto fabric. Then I laid the white fabric over some red plaid, wrong sides together, stitched around the circles, adding a ribbon hanger and stuffed them with balsam needles (the first batch I tried stuffing before I sewed and that didn't work so well. Let's just say I'll be picking balsam needles out of my sewing machine's orifices for some time to come). Things I learned: keeping the foot tension light makes it easier to sew around in a small circle; a narrow zig-zag disguises crooked sewing; a contrasting thread color looks better than white. These are going to go into thank-you notes, whenever I get around to doing those.
I'm a little worried that E still draws those basic circle-with-lines-coming-off-it figures. Maybe he's just a late artistic bloomer?
Finally, I made this little family of rainbow gnomes for the Three Kings (and La Befana) to put into Crocs last night. I stole the idea from Mary Beth (as usual) and though I'd been thinking about making these for this purpose since before Christmas, I was not going to make them (I already had a small game for each person leftover from an overabundance of stocking stuffers), but decided at almost the last minute to make them after all (partly because a tearful Z said at bedtime Tuesday night, "I didn't get any toys for Christmas!" Which is not exactly true--and he may not really want a gnome toy anyway). I'm glad I did 'cause they're just so darn cute!
Sunday night we were all reluctant to return to regular life. "Just two more weeks," Z pleaded while E sobbed, "I hate school! I want home school." I managed to avoid tears (saving them for today's brave new world), but I had to say I agreed with them both at that moment. Wouldn't it be much more fun to sleep late every day and hang out at home reading and playing outside and making stuff?