Saturday, December 31, 2011

Handmade Holidays: Parker's Birthday

This year, Peter and I worked hard to give Parker a completely handmade birthday.  I had started thinking about what I was going to make him back in summer (as I tend to do!) and began to gather materials since the beginning of December.  I was lucky enough to come across some out of print Heather Ross gnome material very cheaply and pounced on the chance.  After seeing it, I knew it was destined to become something of Parker's and that is how the first mama-made pants were "born"!  It was easier than I thought it would be thanks to a little help- my friend Kate and Soulemama's Creative Family book.  The main fabric is an organic cotton twill, also purchased on sale at  
 He loves these pants!!!  He wore them all day and slept in them and then wore them all the next day before I finally convinced him to take them off so I could wash them (and hopefully get out some outdoor stains...what was I thinking getting a light color!).  I still have quite a bit of the gnome fabric left so I think some more (darker!) pants are in the works as well maybe making its way onto a shirt.
 close up of the fabric- so cute!

I also needed to make Parker a birthday crown.  I was instructed to use Christmas colors and he wanted a gnome and a squirrel needlefelted on it.  I think I did a good job of making it to his specifications without it being completely reminiscent of Christmas.  He also wore his crown all day for several days, which makes this mama so happy!

 Daddy was given specific instructions to make him a bottlecap holder.  I wasn't sure how Peter was going to do that, but he came up with a very clever shelf.  The mason jar is perfect for keeping his bottlecaps alltogether (or feathers!) and the two little hooks hold special items.  Right now, he is using it to hang his soccer medal from.
 My boy love, love, loves the Tiptoes Lightly series so I knew I had to make him a little playset so he could live out the stories in real life.  Tiptoes is needlefelted wool wrapped around cotton pipecleaners so her arms are moveable.  I found the tutorial for the Jeremy mouse pattern here
 Making Pinecone and Pepperpot was my most challenging gift of the season.  I am not so great at handsewing miniatures and I would be lying if I said I loved making them, but I am pretty pleased with how they turned out.  For the future though, I believe I will stick with making big dolls!  These guys have a cotton interlock head and hands.  Their wool felt clothes cover wool wrapped cotton pipecleaners (so they are bendy) and they have wooden base feet.  The other night as I was tucking Parker into bed, I pulled back the covers and there was the playset laying there.  My heart swelled as in our family, only most prized posessions make it to the "hiding in the bed" status!
 Parker's final handmade gift was a backpack.  While I had every intention of sewing one myself, I also realized my own limitations (and time constraints) and found a great seller on etsy.  This is the exact style I had been wanting to make him so it worked out perfectly!  For those wondering, the seller is Bratpacks and she is great!
It may seem odd that a homeschooler would need a backpack, but for those of you who know Parker he is a hoarder of sorts, always putting stuff in bags and baskets.  I knew this cute backpack would be perfect as he could tote all his goods wherever he wanted to.

Despite being sick, I do believe this was one of Parker's best birthdays.  He kept saying how much he loved everything and I know he knew a lot of love went into his presents! 

Friday, December 30, 2011

When things don't go as planned

In the week leading up to Christmas, the kids and I had plans, lots of plans.  Plans to make gifts for neighbors and craft ornaments for the tree.  Plans to bake cookies for Santa and plans to make treats for the birds.  Plans to celebrate Solstice with our homeschooling community and participate in the annual spiral walk.  But all those plans got set aside.  

 egg carton ornaments-tutorial found on the Crafty Crow
 Unfortunately for us this year, illness plagued our family for the past two weeks.  First it started with a head cold that left some of us pretty out of sorts for a few days and causing us to miss our very much anitcipated celebration with our homeschool group.  Daddy and I did our best to make sure everyone was being taken care of while also feverishly finishing up Christmas and Birthday gifts.
 our tree on Christmas Eve all ready to go
MaKenna wearing Parker's birthday crown and admiring new snack boards

The day of the winter Solstice turned out to be a grey, rainy day.  We had no bonfire, we didn't make any treats for the birds as we have done in the past.  We spent the day cozied up inside, playing and doing our best to not be disappointed.
 Kenna got a new apron from Santa- it matches mama's!
 playing with the new castle my dad made

Then on Friday, the little kids came down with a stomach bug.  Poor Parker was miserable on his birthday.  He couldn't even enjoy eating some birthday cake!  I think he managed to have a good day despite feeling really bad.
 one of Parker's birthday gifts was Glob paint- plant based paint and it is wonderful!
enjoying new games in front of the fire

So Christmas was very low key.  The day was spent in our pajamas, getting little ones tummies to feel better and enjoying each other's company.  Not exactly how I imagined we would spend our day, but very wonderful none-the-less.  We could have sulked and complained and spent the time dwelling on what didn't happen, but instead, we took what was given to us and made the best of it.  And it turned just fine!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Celebrating Parker

Six years ago on Christmas Eve, I gave birth to my third son.  It was an experience that changed my life in more ways than I could imagine! And here we are, six years later, honoring and celebrating this special soul that came into our lives and brought us such joy!

It has been such an honor mothering this boy who brings so many smiles to his family.  I have watched him blossom from this shy, somewhat reserved child to a confident, fearless young child- knowing all the time that he would show the world his heart when he was ready.  We are forever grateful to have you in our lives and love you more than words can say.  Happy Birthday my sweet Parker!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Tree

About a week and a half ago, we headed up to the foothills to cut our own Christmas tree.  This was the second time we had cut our own since we moved here and both times have been such a great experience!  There is nothing like searching the rows of trees trying to find the perfect one, the one that speaks to you and says "pick me!".  This was the first time visiting this particular farm and we went during the week, so we pretty much had the place to ourselves (yay!).  The farm is owned by a very sweet old couple and just has that old-time charm feel to it.  As soon as we got out, we were greeted by about 5 dogs and one even followed us into the field (and later joined us on our picnic!).  We spent about 15 minutes weaving in and out between the trees and then we finally all agreed on one of the smaller trees.  The boys all helped to cut it and then Daddy carried it to be wrapped and loaded on top of the van.  I wish I had gotten a picture of Peter carrying the tree, but my arms were full with a toddler.  It really looked like a tree with legs and MaKenna couldn't stop laughing!  After the tree was loaded up, we took some time to explore the farm...they had several goats, a potbelly pig, some chickens, and about a dozen turkeys roaming free.  They also had a short trail that took you into a small wooded area and led down to a creek.  The kids had fun running around and taking in the scenery.  We ate a picnic lunch and then headed home.  Later that evening, we set to work decorating the tree.  It is always fun pulling out the ornaments and the memories that go along with them.  They all have their favorites and those are usually the first ones to go on the tree (and most were given by my parents...another yearly tradition!).  For a few days after the tree was up, MaKenna would grab some oranaments and tuck them away in special places- cabinets, under couch pillows, inside bags or baskets.  You would never know when an ornament would turn up!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Traditions, Old and New

Early in December, we wrapped up the gifts, loaded up the car and headed down to my parents home for our annual gift exchange/celebration.  We tend to do Christmas early as it has become increasingly difficult to gather during the actual Christmas day with our family.  Over the years, little traditions have emerged and have become something we all look forward to!  One such tradition is going to a massive christmas light display in a nearby town.  It is a pretty big deal and is always crowded, but fun none-the-less.  So we all climb aboard a wagon and ooh and aah our way through the display, remembering our favorites from previous years.  MaKenna is really at the age now where she is starting to "get it" and it has been so much fun watching her experience these things for the first time!    

 Another yearly tradition is the making of Christmas cookies with my mom.  We always do sugar cookies so the kids can have a blast and decorate them as they wish.  Some of them tend to take it pretty serious and have designs laid out while others just dump or pour many, many sprinkles on top.

 These traditions have carried us through the season, serving as hallmarks for our time together.  As the years go on, I have come to appreciate these moments and what they really mean for our family.  This year has been an especially introspective year for me and there is always something about Winter that makes you draw even more within.  What I love so much about the holidays is these moments together, but it always seemed to come and go in a blink of an eye!  One way to prolong the season, as well as to slow it down, was the introduction of the advent wreath in our home.  This year is the first year of our family celebrating Advent.  A candle is lit each week in the four weeks leading up to Christmas (or Solstice). 
 In our home, our advent wreath honors each of the four kindoms-mineral, plant, animal and man.  The kids and I chose items representing the appropriate kingdom and would add that to the center plate.  At dinner time, we would like the candle (or candles) and say our advent verse.
 The kids have embraced the advent wreath joyfully and looked forward to the lighting of each new candle as well as choosing items for the plate.  Jacob even suggested that we eat our Christmas dinner by candlelight!  I think I can positively say this is another tradition we will have to look forward to in years to come!

Friday, December 16, 2011

From our week

 the littles are enjoying a painting session with new art supplies
 decorating with window crayons
 MaKenna has recently started to show a greater interest in drawing.  While it only lasts five minutes or so, she has oh so much fun creating beautiful pictures!
 gift making for nieces and nephews
 kneading candy cane playdough...another gift for nieces and nephews
 finding space in kitchen cabinets to play
 two(!) readers buried in books
 enjoying the unseasonably warm temps while they last
finding friends in nature (a brown snake)

This week was a good week indeed!  Most of it was spent at home, my favorite kind of days, creating, reading, playing, and just enjoying each other's company.  The weather has been rather warm for December and so a good bit of our days were spent outside.  It seems rather odd to me that we had windows open and spring bulbs emerging yet Christmas is in little over a week!  The boys have desperately been wishing for snow, but it appears we may have t-shirt weather instead.  This weekend will be full of gift making, both for Christmas and a very-soon-to-be six year old's birthday.  We will also make time for some general holiday craftyness and savor the last weekend before all the celebrating begins (Hannukah, Solstice, Birthday and Christmas, oh my!).  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Thanksgiving came and went in a blink of an eye this year!  We were fortunate to be able to spend the day with Aunt Kristen and Uncle Spencer this year.  The kids were pretty excited and usually whenever company comes, the games come out.  It was a great day full of much shared love, laughter and gratitude.  And lots of delicious food!

*I am attempting to catch up with my blogging.  This past month has been a very full month with lots of traveling, holiday parties, and gift making!  As a result, this blog has been a bit neglected.  So I will do my best to bring it up to date as well as share some of the things we have been making around here!