Archive for December, 2008

Human Hamsters

The local science center has this giant-sized hamster wheel.
I could really use one of these at home — especially with all the cold weather confining over-sugared kids indoors.


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Winter Flowers

John’s brother Bob is in town. My children are crazy about their Uncle Bob and are hoping to monopolize every minute he’s here. Saturday, we whisked him off to the botanical gardens. I brought along some sketch books since Bob is an artist and my children like to be artists around him.

It was very windy and sporadically rainy so we went to the indoor exhibits. We saw a few blooming flowers.

And then out came the sketch books. Bob drew a bit.

The children drew some more.

We explored the indoor climatron and felt like we were visiting the tropics. John found the feather of a white dove and this bizarre pom-pom flower on the ground.
He thought they looked rather clever together.

There was a holiday train display and the theme was “Vermont” which is where John went to college.
Kind of funny that every Christmas, he’d leave Vermont and come home for the holidays. This year, Vermont came home to him.

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Trash Picked Treasures

I love it when I find the perfect piece of furniture at just the moment I need it. Like this piece.
Perfect? Yes, perfect. Here’s why — John recently ordered a new TV and we needed a stand for it. Days before the TV was set to be delivered, I stumbled upon this piece. The style? I know, what style? The brown color, all the brass handles and those decorative doors all scream “ugly furniture” to me. The size, however, was perfect. After getting it home, I discovered that it is from an expensive local furniture store. I was certain I could turn it into our new TV stand in just a few day.

And I did.

For details on how this piece was transformed, visit my new blog devoted to transforming found objects into treasures for your home.

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Holiday Homework

My daughter’s teacher gave her a holiday present that she wants to give back — 16 pages of homework to do over school break.


I’m having trouble convincing her that multiplication is more fun than playing with new toys.

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Oh, Happy Holiday!

Yesterday was the day of days! And, boy, did we have fun! We start the day at 7:00 AM when the children wake with wonder and excitement. They dig in their stockings then see what Santa brought! And he brought a haul this year! The last present for each child is always a treasure hunt. I hang a clue on the tree that leads them through a series of clues to where the last present is hidden.

In the afternoon, we journey to John’s sister’s house for the family party — a huge gathering of all the cousins and aunts and uncles. There was the fierce scrabble competition:

Some sat by the fire and chatted.

Some hopped from person to person in excitement.

And then there were presents! My children opened many and we handed out a bunch. For my sweet nephew B who is amazing in the kitchen, some professional chef gear. He was also given a panini press by another relative — we expect great (and tasty) things from B.

There was a lot of food and a lot of laughter.

The adult women exchanged our favorite things — our yearly tradition. We each decide on our favorite new item of the year and then buy 8 of that item to share with the others. I walked away with fun stuff — a men’s sleep shirt, set of aprons, lip balm from Italy, body butter, a microwave popcorn popper, an indestructible water bottle, and music.

After much celebration, it was time for dinner and the drive home. The children were tucked in bed, the parents were exhausted, but we were all happy. A very, merry Christmas indeed!

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Barn Raising

Every year we bake and decorate a gingerbread house. This year, the children decided we need to make a barn. We design the house together, then I make the template, make the gingerbread, bake it, and glue the structure together with royal icing. After it is completely dry and solid, then it is ready to decorate. John took the kids shopping for candy. They came home with a HUGE bag full. Then the fun could begin!

Oli had to sample all the candy. He claimed he was testing it to make sure it wasn’t poison.

We put a ton of candy on the house. Mojo liked squeezing the icing. She was pretty precise given that the icing was just in a ziplock bag with a hole in one corner.

In the end, we had a barn sweeter than any we’d ever seen! The front door opens and closes thanks to twizzler ties.

Since I had no farm animal cookie cutters, our barn is populated with bears. They are sweet and friendly bears as long as you don’t try to milk them.

There are Christmas trees and a big heart for all the love that went into making it.

And, of course, a gingerbread man with a light saber. Because nothing says Christmas like a battle against the empire.

By the time we were done, the children had consumed as much candy as they put on the barn. They are looking forward to the day (New Years Eve) when they can bust the barn and feast on candy once again.

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On the Eleventh Day of Christmas

My true love gave to me:
One piper piping.

Yes, he was very happy that he discovered the recorder I thought I’d thrown away or hidden years ago. He eagerly “played” me every Christmas carol he knew. I had to guess which ones they were as he loudly blew each and every note.

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