A Handmade Christmas: 2014

Three years ago we stopped buying our kids a bunch of stuff for Christmas and started a new tradition: a handmade Christmas.  We trade names within our family and make that one person a gift, and stuff stockings as normal.

I love this tradition, and I'm so thankful we started it.  It's a little more work, but so much more meaningful, I think.  This year was a little crazy.  We realized a few days before we were going to do our Christmas exchange that a few of the kids hadn't even started.  Oh, they had grand ideas, but.... no work had been done.  So the Saturday before Christmas we spent ALL DAY working on handmade gifts.  It was actually quite fun and secretive around here.

I drew Mark, for the third year in a row.  I love that man but I'm running out of ideas for what to do for him.  Three years ago I made him a memory jar- 365 memories, one to draw for each day of the year.  Last year I made him a photo collage for his case at work.  This year I was stumped.  So at the last minute I came up with my own idea and made this for him:

My gift to Mark: Dessert of the month

I just went through my recipe book and listed twelve of his favorite desserts and then plugged them into the months of the year with a promise to make them.  Easy peasy.  And he loves dessert so he's looking forward to it.

Mark drew Ella's name and made her a garden bench- with room for tools to hang on the back and a little side space for seed packets and gloves.  She loved it.


My sweet Ella drew my name and stitched this for me:


I'm going to iron it and hang on my bedroom wall.  I love it.  She also wrote out a verse for me in her lovely cursive and framed it.  Also going on my wall.  Sweet girl.

Ella stitched this for me

Isaac had Adelia's name, and wrote her a book.  It was a silly book about a girl named Adelia who dropped a Cheeto and it grew into a tree.  He fastened this whole box for his story to fit into and tucked a Cheeto bag at the back of the box.  Cheetos are her favorite thing.  So creative and fun!


Adelia's idea for her name draw (Audra), was to make a "dollhouse set".  Great idea, as Audra loves to play with her dollhouse and accessories.  Mark and Adelia put their heads together and came up with the idea of a camping set, complete with a tent, a little fire, and roasting marshmallows! Audra LOVES it.


I helped by way of sewing up some little sleeping bags for their set.  They turned out great.  Here are two of the six I made:

Sleeping bags for Audra's dollhouse dolls (gift from Adelia)

Audra made three little bookmarks for Isaias- with her amazing artistic skills, and he really appreciated them.


Isaias drew Isaac's name, and he and Mark worked on making him a shelf for his Lego minifigures.  You can't tell in this picture but there are little white Lego pieces embedded into the shelf, so he can just affix his minfigures on there.  Very cool. 


Isaias also made him a coloring book:


I also did other bits of sewing for stockings.  Ella was determined to make a dress for Adelia's Barbie, so we worked on that together, using this tutorial, and came up with one:

I helped Ella sew this dress for Adelia's doll.

I wanted to make dolly diapers for Audra's stocking, so I made some.  I loosely followed the instructions found here but drew my own pattern (using Audra's dolly) and instead of flannel, some white terry cloth I had.  They turned out really cute and were easy, too!

Cute dolly diapers for Audra's stocking!

So that wraps up our handmade Christmas!

Merry Christmas! [from the archives]

I love this. 

Six years ago.  Ella was 6, Isaac was 4, and Isaias was 2.  From Christmas, 2007


Here's what happened on our next attempt:

Don't miss this encouraging post by Sally Clarkson called It is Normal for your Children to Resist you!

Best thing I've read online all week.  It encouraged my mama's heart.


Right now

*There are affiliate links in this post.

Ella is at the church, taking care of babies in the nursery for a bi-monthly mothers of preschoolers gathering.  She loves this.  She adores those babies, and we'll get to hear every single detail of what all the babies did upon her return.

Isaac and Audra are in the living room, using the Jenga blocks to build structures and towers and then knocking them over.  They are having lots of fun.   Those two play well together, and I'm thankful.

Isaias and Adelia are also in the living room, playing checkers together.  Each time Isaias takes Adelia's pieces after jumping them, she gets wildly mad and starts yelling.  He keeps patiently trying to explain that that's the way the game is played, and she can do that, too.  To which she randomly grabs his pieces off the board.  Somehow they're making it work.

Those two?  They're either best friends- laughing and playing and having a grand time.  Or they're at each other constantly, pushing each others' buttons- fighting and exasperating everyone.  It's one or the other.  Today so far they seem to be friends.

We've been playing lots of games lately.  Nertz (thank you, Luke Hollister, for teaching my kids the game, and thereby reintroducing it to me!)
and Authors, which I pulled out in memory of my grandma, who taught it to me when I was a girl.  Last night, while waiting for daddy to get home from work, we played Zingo, which is a fun one for the little kids.  (And the rest of us don't mind it, either.)  We've also played Trouble and Monopoly recently.  And there's always a 500 or 1000-piece puzzle on the puzzle board this time of year for us to work on.

Mark is at work, faithfully delivering the mail.  There are so many parcels and letters this time of year that he's working lots and is tired when he comes home. Last night he got home after 7, so it was a long day for us all.

I'm sitting at the kitchen table.  I just finished breakfast (an egg, a bran muffin and some milk) and I've just made myself some peach tea as I type this and listen to the kids. Audra and Isaac keep coming in to tell me about their latest creation ("Come look!"), so I keep going in to compliment their buildings.  Adelia and Isaias are no longer being friendly, so my time is coming to a close.  ;)

I have George Winston's December (piano music) playing in the living room- and I love that CD.  I've had it since I lived at home in high school... and throughout college I played it to fall asleep each night, so it's always relaxing to listen to.   I'm going to go get some slippers on my feet next and then work on this puzzle before me at the table.  I'm sure I'll have some helpers before long.  Anyone care to tell me what you're having for dinner tonight?  I need some inspiration.

Hope you have a wonderful day!

Catching up...


Things are so much quieter on the blog than they used to be, aren't they?  Some days I sit down to write, load up a photo or two and begin a post, and then get interrupted and set it aside only to forget about it.  Then by the time I do remember, it's old news.  Other days I think about writing and then think: are many people even reading here anymore? 

If you do read here, thank you.  I appreciate your patience when there are days and days and sometimes even weeks between posts.

Things have quieted down here on the school front (the whole month of December off!  YAY!) and I should have more time to write this month, and when the new year hits, I hope to carve out regular time in my schedule to write more faithfully here. 

I forget when we began this tradition of taking this whole month off, but I love it.  It's such a crazy time of year, and this affords us some quiet in the midst of a busy month.  There are gifts to make and our home to decorate and things to bake and- also, this is the perfect time of year to curl up on the couch with a good book-- when it's so chilly outside and the fire is cozy.


Before all that decorating took place, we made a Thanksgiving tree.  I cut out leaves of varying fall colors (from some scrap paper I have on hand) and sketched out a tree on a big piece of poster board and we all wrote things we were thankful for, then we colored in the tree and hung it up.


I don't think I've fully settled on the best way to document the things we're thankful for (here's a post on what we've done in the past), but I guess the important thing is that we're doing something to give thanks.

We celebrated Thanksgiving at my mom's this year with my brothers and sister and their families.  It was so nice, and my kids always revel in all that time with their cousins.

My sweet Ella had a birthday.  She's now twelve.  I love her so much, not just because she's my daughter, but because I really like her, and I love the young woman she's becoming. What a sweet blessing she is to all of us.

These days I'm trying to sneak in some time on the couch myself to finish knitting Ella's sweater.  I'm using this pattern and so far I love it.  There are a couple of things on this pattern that will be new to me: knitting the sleeves on dpns and adding button bands to the front-- but I hope to figure those out when I come to them. 

Blessings to all of you for a wonderful day!