Saturday, December 24, 2011

Crafter's Night Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the house
Not a present was finished
Not even my blouse.

The stockings were hung
By the fire with care
Hoping that someday
All the names would be there.

And even more hopeful,
That on Christmas morn
Some presents would fill them
Or some ornaments adorn.

The children were sleeping
Quiet unaware
That while they lay dreaming
Mama was in despair.

For you see, good old Mama
(a.k.a. Old Saint Nick)
Was locked in her sewing room…
And herself she could kick

Because piles of presents
Planned with such care
For a fun, homemade Christmas
Lay everywhere.

A scarf to be knitted
Is not long enough
And some scrappy stuffed animals
Still need to be stuffed.

A lap quilt for Grandma
Is still only a top
And that sweater for Daddy
Should have come from a shop.

And a present so lovely
On mom’s brand-new machine
(That she can’t quite use yet)
Is still only a dream.

“I’m keeping it simple,”
Mom had announced,
With a vow that this Christmas
The stress she’d renounce.

“But that’s how Christmas
Should be,” Mama sighed.
“I want everyone to have
A hand-made surprise.”

Daylight’s in four hours.
It can’t all get done!
Good thing that my presents
Aren’t the only ones.

But amid all the panic
And last minute sewing
I can take a deep breath because
There’s one thing I’m knowing:

Even though my gift list’s
Ambitious without reason
I remember that presents
Aren’t the point of this season.

For this day that is dawning,
This new Christmas morn,
Is to celebrate Jesus
The Messiah is born.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Nutcracker: Peg Doll Style

Intrigued?  You should be.  This is really cool.  But you need just a little back story first, so hang in there...

After Hannah's ballet recital, our house has officially been hit with Nutcracker fever.  We recorded the PBS special of The Nutcracker Ballet on Live from Lincoln Center last week, and our three year old child has watched the whole thing (including the intermission interview done by Chelsea Clinton) literally as many times a day as we will allow.  I never imagined she would sit through a full-blown theatrical production, but kids are full of surprises, aren't they?

On a seemingly unrelated note, I saw these Princess Peg Dolls on Pinterest, and I immediately knew that I needed  to make them.  Now.  For Christmas.  Or better yet, to put in the last week of the Advent Calendar.  (Yeah...that's the way my mind works.  And I wonder why nothing ever gets done.)  So on Saturday, I went to Hobby Lobby and bought some peg dolls and a little box. 

Then on Sunday, driving home from church, conversation turned, as it so often does, to Hannah's new favorite thing, her Nutcracker doll from Grandma.  Hannah was wishing that she could play with the doll.  As it is, it's reserved for looking at only, or occasional gentle handling. 

And a 10,000 watt light bulb went off!  Who needs princess peg dolls?  I could make NUTCRACKER PEG DOLLS!!!!  After a thorough Internet search, I found no examples to use for reference.  So I collected Hannah's Nutcracker story book for inspiration and got to sketching.  Using this helpful tutorial, I started painting the peg dolls last night, and finished them this morning.  Now they're all in a row, waiting for their appropriate Advent Calendar day to make their curtain call.

But since Hannah doesn't read my blog, I'll share them with you now.  And I figured, what better way to enjoy Nutcracker characters than through the story.  So at long last, here it goes:

Marie and Fritz were so excited about Christmas!  Their parents had decorated the tree, and it looked magical!

During the Christmas party, Godfather Drosselmeyer arrived with gifts for all the children. 

He brought Marie a special gift: a nutcracker doll.  Marie loved her new doll.

But naughty Fritz chased Marie, and tried to take it from her.

Late that night, after everyone had gone to bed, Marie crept downstairs to see her Nutcracker doll under the tree. But the tree grew, and the doll came to life!

Soon, a band of mice had invaded the house, and the Nutcracker was fighting with the Mouse King.

Afraid that the Nutcracker would lose the battle, Marie threw her shoe at the Mouse King

This distracted him while the Nutcracker gave the fatal blow.

The Nutcracker became a prince, and he took Marie to a magical land of snow.

They were greeted by the Sugar Plum Fairy.

She and her friends welcomed Marie and the Prince.

Each person performed a special dance, inspired by something good to eat or drink. 
First was the Dance of Tea.

Next was the Dance of Coffee.  This dancer was an acrobat, doing flips and twirls.

Then was the Candy Cane Dance.

And finally came Mother Ginger, with a band of gingerbread children in her skirt.

When it was time for Marie to return home, everyone said goodbye.

Marie awoke under the Christmas tree, and looked at her Nutcracker doll.  She wondered if it had all been a dream...

Like it?  I guess Hannah's not the only one obsessed, is she?  So I had this box to put the dolls in, and I started wondering how I could paint it.  I mean, I did okay on the peg dolls (with the exception of Fritz's lazy eye), but I'm no painted. 

Then I remembered that I just got a brand spanking new Silhouette machine.  So look what I whipped up next!

A firm believer that everyone should have stuff with their name on it (this comes from being named Siobhan, where very little exists with my name on it), I added this label. 

Now I have another reason to be excited about Christmas.  I can't wait to dole out the rest of the dolls!

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Row of Holiday Houses

I love Christmas.  This is why I've been making myself scarce in blogland during December: I'm too busy doing Christmas to write about it!  (Maybe I'll do a major recap in January...)  So I volunteered to host our play group's Christmas party.  I was all about low-key, low-stress.  I even volunteered to make mac and cheese for the potluck supper.  Easy, right?

Then the December issue of Family Fun magazine came in the mail.  And all that went down the tube.  I didn't even read the magazine.  I just saw the pictures of the gingerbread house decorating party, and went into overdrive.  The result?  Mass-produced graham cracker houses (at least I didn't make real gingerbread, right?).  Add eight kids, three babies, and bags and bags of candy and icing, and this is what you get.

Some kids let their moms help with the icing.

Some are quite independent.  (Wonder where that comes from?)

And some very symmetrical.

For some, there's no holding back!

A little icing was eaten along the way...

This was too cute: her head is barely above the table!

Long after everyone else finished, Hannah was still putting "just one more candy" on hers.  Or at this moment, dousing the thing with sprinkles.

"What kind of sugary goodness did you put on yours?"

And then there was shameless snitching of the candy.

And I mean shameless!

In the end, they all came out beautiful, and good enough to eat.

After all this creativity, we settled down to supper.  Stuffed full of marshmallows and gummy bears, most of the kids couldn't care less about their supper.  (But take a look at all those sippy funny!)

I have to say, a good time was had by all.  As the Facebook updates rolled in after the party, it seemed like most of the kids had the appropriate post-sugar crash just in time for bed.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Hannah has been taking ballet lessons this fall.  She's mighty cute, in the way that only three-year-olds in leotards and tiny ballet slippers can be.  And this afternoon, she performed in her first recital: The Nutcracker.

A few weeks ago, it occurred to me and Jonathan that Hannah didn't know the story of The Nutcracker, so we got a copy of the picture book, and went to a local community ballet company's showing of it.  The result?  A little girl who is absolutely obsessed.

Hannah wants to read the book at least twice or three times a day.  Driving in the car, she begins a monologue about Naughty Fritz or Godfather Drosselmeyer.  (Yes, a child who can't pronounce "school" or "forgot" can say "Godfather Drosselmeyer," and quite clearly, too.) 

And then she decided that she should have her own nutcracker doll.  She even asked Santa for one.  But I'm getting ahead of myself...

In the recital, Hannah's class was the little girls at the party - the ones who admire Clara's new doll.  And in this version, they all sit around the Christmas tree and rock their own dolls. 

Due to the realities of life (read: crying baby and full memory card), even with two doting parents each armed with at least one camera, Jonathan and I didn't get as many pictures of the actual performance as we hoped.

But we got lots of good shots after the show.  Is this not the most excited kid you have ever seen?!

And guess who didn't have to wait for Santa to deliver the much-desired nutcracker doll?  Grandma made good a full two weeks early! 

We were a little worried that Hannah would want a bouquet of roses like the other girls.  But she only had eyes for one thing.

She even ventured onto the stage after the performance to show off her prize to her dance teacher.

So here is our own little ballerina, ready to take the dance world by storm.  I tried to tell Hannah that I was proud of her for remembering her dance (she's practiced quite a lot) and doing it in front of an audience.  Her response?  "I got my own nutcracker!"

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