It's a lovely time of year when you aren't dashing about writing reports, swiping National Standards sheets and stressing about getting Christmas shopping done in the nano-second you have between school finishing and Christmas day. Admittedly, I'm also relishing every moment that I have my bigger two children at school, because very soon I'm going to be embarking on a long summer break with 3 children to entertain. I can see we're going to be spending a lot of time at the local pool or watching movies!
By the way, when did I become a mother of 3 children? Last time I checked I was still meandering my way through university.
So this Christmas, I've been able to do some of the things I have always wanted to with the kids, but been prevented by time and stress.
This year, I made a point of filling our advent calendar pockets up in advance with holiday activities, instead of forgetting, and hastily shoving lollies in the pocket before the kids got up each morning. This took an entire evening. I'm serious. My children have more on their social calendar than I, so it was a complicated process of brainstorming activities, cross-checking with my diary and making sure that easy activities tied in with days when we had swimming lessons, Pippins or social commitments and the more complicated events were scheduled for cruisy days.
I should have listed them all on the first of December, but half of them are now wadded wee balls in the fireplace, and I can't remember what they all said! I've tried (and will continue) to take pictures of the interesting ones in any case.
This year I've made a point of creating a range of activities that capture the 'spirit' of Christmas, rather than the commercialised 'getting' side that my kids are very familiar with. This is one of them, stolen in part from my friend Laura Hall. This idea was instigated after my original plan of gifting unwanted toys to the Salvation Army resulted in a series of minor nervous breakdowns by Sophie at the thought of parting with any one of her thousands of (apparently) deeply loved playthings. All about loving our fellow child-kind here, clearly. In any case, no amount of ranting, guilting or lecturing would change her mind, and merely resulted in her sleeping with EVEN MORE soft toys in her bed, for fear that I'd thieve them in the night and give them away to some undeserving, underprivileged child. I don't think she slept a wink! Clearly a National Party voter, that one ;-)
Anyway, this was fun, and we can't wait to stash them about the village tomorrow. Though it has crossed my mind that people are so honest here-abouts that they'll just leave them there, thinking they must be for someone else!
Another fun craft has been cornflour dough ornaments. To be honest, after 11 years (really?!) of teaching, I'm a bit of a salt dough grinch. It never bakes evenly, goes rotten after a few months, the salt crystals don't dissolve and it always looks just like a kid went nuts with some playdough, paint and yarn and hung it on your tree. Which they did, essentially. So I tried a new recipe:
1/2 C Cornfour
3/4C Baking Soda
1/2C Water (we used a bit more)
Mix, cook over a low heat and stir. Cool, knead and roll out. Bake for an hour at 50deg C, turning them over half way through cooking.
To get pretty texture, we rolled some naff old doilies onto it before cutting our shapes out, or used rubber stamps. I sealed them with homemade Modge Podge (AKA watery PVA) and added some details with nail polish to get a bit of shimmer happening. I love how they are actually WHITE, not salt dough grey, and the kids actually didn't need much help to produce ornaments that may actually pass muster onto 2013's tree. Will do this again!
More of our happenings some other time. Oh, but also... we have chicks!! Mostly purebred Plymouth Barred Rocks (with a random foster hen) but as you can see, we have a rogue bitser in there too. Anyone want him / her? We WILL not be keeping it, despite my family's protests. We need some quality breeding control around here! And yes, I do believe chooks are quite possibly the hardest creatures on Earth to photograph.