Sunday, December 20, 2015

Homemade Gifts and A Christmas Wake Up Call for Me

Well, I was excited to make Christmas gifts for everyone this year and I almost accomplished that!!!!  

For the 5 little girls in my life I made snuggle mermaid tail blankets

For the women in my family I made pure silk pillowcases accompanied by modestly wrap bracelets I ordered months ago during a good promotion.  I was really excited how these turned out and that I didn't have any problems sewing silk with my $50 brother sewing machine from Walmart.  I did use a fresh ball point needle though!  And I learned how to do a French seam which was exciting!  Then my favorite added touch was the label I created for fun with a list if the benefits of using silk pillowcases on the back including care instructions tied on with a raw strip of silk remnants.  I ordered the real silk from

For my dad who has ALS, I made him a double layered fleece poncho blanket so my mom can easily adjust his layers when he is up for the day in his chair. I'm really happy with this because dad was always hard to know what to gift other than an REI gift cards to help add to his collection of mountain climbing and surviving gear and a lot harder now that he has essentially no mobility.

For a fun little Waldorf inspired gift for my little boys, I made a serving wooden minecraft blocks.  I love Grimms colored wooden building toys and my 5 year old lives minecraft (yeah a bit of a contradiction, I'm sure true Waldorf peeps wouldn't even have their kids play a video game...but I have sorta taken all the different educational philosophies that resonate with me and dumped them out of their boxes and onto the floor altogether for a flexible jumbled whatever mix of them all! Rather than climb into any one box lol!)

The square storage box was $3 at Michaels and I ordered the 1.5 inch wooden blocks from  I dipped them in food coloring mixed with rubbing alcohol like dying Easter eggs.  The black blocks I dipped them in my black Sumi Ink.  For the iconic grass on dirt blocks I dipped each side in brown food coloring leaving one side blank which I then dipped in green.  I think these will be a gift to both my boys even though my 2 year old doesn't play minecraft but for him they are still cool naturally colored wood blocks.  After they were dry, I dipped them in vinegar as I read that could help seal the color.  So now we have a cool Grimm Toys style natural minecraft wooden blocks! 

And in the works is a balance beam for our little gymnastics daughter that we started building last night and will probably finish assembling today and some snuggle shark tail blankets like the mermaid ones for my boys. They are cut and ready to sew! 

Update with balance beam:

I will say, as I posted on Instagram earlier this month we were going to take a break from our regular style learning for the month so we could basically do a unit study on Christmas time focusing on learning through living, creating, crafting, baking, card and story writing, pouring through as many beautiful Christmas and Winter theme books as we could get our hands on and focus totally on the season.  It's been awesome!  My kids have learned so much, improved their art skills and we've been able to incorporate a LOT of math into everything we do!  The more I learn about living math and understand the concepts and goals myself, the more I can incorporate it into everything we do without it ever feeling like smart lesson!  And the kids are totally getting it without and coercion.  I have still pulled out my daughters Brain quest book for some math page practice but it's been very interesting how mathy we can be outside of a text and have it be fun (VERY exciting for a math phobe like me!).  (Oooo...I just came across a term that describes our month very well...project based homeschooling).

I did have one set back.  It was the shark tails.  I was starting to stress about getting them done to mail in time and this past week my 2 year old must be cutting teeth or something...he's been totally irritable and fussy and it was rubbing off on everyone.  On Wednesday I was literally praying "oh Lord this feels too crazy please help us!!!" My daughter kept begging to go to the library, the baby kept getting up from nap and finally I was like "ugh yes fine lets go I have other errands we can run too then"...then as I and the kids stressed out and in a rush ran out to the car, I realized I left the keys in those house and locked ourselves out.  It was crystal clear what was going on...everything had been going so well with my plan to savor the season with the kids and then I still got caught up in being busy and stressed and suddenly realized what a beautiful day it was and we didn't belong anywhere doing anything else other than being outside enjoying it and connecting with each other!!!  It was The Lord putting me in an abrupt but good and needed "time out" and the kids and I played on the trampoline together laughing and being silly for the remainder of the afternoon  and evening until my hubby got home from work to let us in.  The kids had such a great time with me being completely focusee on them...chasing them around the trampoline and making gingerbread cookies out of them...cracking the egg on each knee (remember that game?) mixing it up with lots if tickles, adding LOTS of sugar (smothered in kisses) rolling then out etc....the said "Can we get locked out if the house everyday!!!!??!" 

The next day was an even more beautiful day and while I felt the pull of finishing Christmas cards and getting to the post office...I said ok I learned my lesson yesterday Lord, I'm not going to waste this nearly 70 degree sunny day to Christmas  errands.  So we went to the library (what the kids had been begging to do all week), stopped at ups to mail the cards and then went to the grocery store next door to buy lunch and snacks and we then spent the day at a little sandy beach that's apart if a big lake that is not far from us. It was like pretty much the best day ever. And guess what? By the end if the week I still got done everything I had been so distracted with...and the days I did do it the weather had changed to cold and rainy!  

Christmas is a joyful time of year but if we let all the self imposed to-dos....even though they are really good to-do's, interfere with the real joy of connecting with those we love and cherish most...then it's not really worthy of all the hustle and energy we put into it.  Now, I didn't end up sending all my gifts by the deadline for guaranteed Christmas delivery but my extended family and friends know it's coming and that we love them and more kids know how important they are to me and how much I love them, and praise God for that when he woke me up by showing me how I was allowing myself to get frazzled by locking myself out!!!  

Seeing these pictures and all our nature finds we brought hone from that day reminds me to thank The Lord for allowing me to be a flexible person and for the ability to be home with the kids so we can even have these spontaneous adventures and be reminded over and over no matter how much we research great Homeschool supplies and resources...that learning is like breathing, it happens all the time!