Monday, December 19, 2011

A Crafty Christmas

I've never been an artsy-craftsy kind of person.  I can follow a pattern to make something, but don't ask me to come up with some kind of cute idea all by myself.

None of the following crafty things were my ideas; all of them came with some kind of pattern, recipe or example for me to follow.  Feel free to steal these ideas for some of your Christmas gifts, too.  (None of them came from Pinterest, either.  I fear that I might get sucked into Pinterest so I'm doing my best to avoid it.)

First, a really sweet lady from one of my book clubs made these for all of us last year and I just had to steal her idea:


All of the candy can be found at your local dollar store.  They are inexpensive, easy to make and super cute.  I made these for Evan's classmates and I got quite a few "That is SO cute!" and "What a great idea!" exclamations from his teachers and the moms of his classmates.  His classmates, all of them three years old, didn't care about the cute factor.  That was fine with me.  I still got to look like an artsy-craftsy rock star to their moms.

I found recipes for the following on or through Crunchy Betty's blog:


Again, they were inexpensive, simple to make and cute.  I took this set to a friend who is recovering from hip surgery and is pretty much stuck at home for the next few weeks.  They seemed to brighten her day.  She really liked that the bath salts (which she will be using for a foot soak since she can't get in and out of the bathtub very easily) were candy-cane striped:


This last craft is a bit more complicated since you have to know how to cross stitch to make them.  It is also a lot more time-consuming, but the effort is completely worth it when you see the result:


I made Sydney's and Liam's stockings years ago, but just finished Evan's about a month ago.  The kids love them and I know that they're the kind of thing they'll hold on to for a long time.  Well, Sydney will hold on to hers; the boys' future wives will probably be the ones to hold on to theirs.

Of course, now that I have theirs done, Ryan wants one of his own since he claims that his stocking (that his mother made for him when he was little) doesn't match the rest.  Somehow my stocking (that my mother made for me when I was little) does coordinate with the kids' stockings.  But I don't mind the mismatch:


What do you think?

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Glimmer of Hope

A while back, I heard about a study done in the 70's that measured a child's ability to delay gratification.  In the study, a child was seated at a table alone.  A scientist would then place a plate holding one marshmallow in front of the child with the instruction that the child could eat the marshmallow right away, or if he/she would wait five minutes, then he/she would get a second marshmallow.  The scientist would then leave the room.

The children were videotaped.  Some of them ate the marshmallow immediately.  Some of them looked at it for awhile and then ate it before the wait time elapsed.  The rest of the children waited the whole five minutes and received a second marshmallow upon the scientist's return to the room.

The children were tracked down years later at different milestone ages and even well into adulthood.  The children who ate the marshmallow immediately were more likely to have dropped out of school, gone to prison or become drug addicted.  The children who were able to wait for the second marshmallow, or those who were capable of delaying gratification at a young age, were more likely to have finished school, gone on to college and hold down steady jobs.  I don't remember anything about the middle group, but I'm guessing they fell, you know, somewhere in the middle.

I often think about this study when observing my own kids.  Sydney has almost always been capable of waiting for something she wants; at eight years old, she gets a kick out of seeing how much money she can save up.  Even little Evan, at age three, is well on his way to being able to delay gratification, too.  Sometimes I think the boy has the patience of Job.  

However, I've always worried about Liam.  At five years old, he is our impatient child, the one who given a marshmallow wouldn't hesitate to pop it in his mouth immediately.  I think about the kids in the study who went on to drop out of school or try drugs and I fear for this kid.

Just this past week, though, he's really surprised me.  A few days ago, I fixed him a snack of raisins, a cereal bar and his absolute favorite snack, fruit chews (like Gummy Bears but made with juice).  He ate the raisins, then the cereal bar and saved the fruit chews for last. 

Then for dinner a couple of nights ago, I gave him a plateful of bacon, eggs and biscuits.  He ate the eggs, then the biscuits and then the bacon (his favorite among the three).

And just today after Sunday School, Sydney gave him a little bag with two cookies in it.  I told him he could eat them if he wanted.  He ate one and then gave the other to me "for later."

Wow.  I don't know if it's because he's maturing or because he sees his siblings being able to wait for things they want, but he truly has improved.  

I still haven't worked up the nerve to repeat the marshmallow experiment with him (the boy loves those little puffs of sugar), but I think I might try it soon.

There just may be hope for him yet.  

Thank goodness.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Magic of Christmas

I don't make a secret it of it that we do Santa in our house.  The kids write letters to him each year (Liam actually wrote his own this year!).  We have Sheldon, our elf on the shelf, who appears each morning in a new location and reports back to Santa on a daily basis.  We leave cookies out for Santa on Christmas Eve and come Christmas morning, the kids are excited to see what three gifts Santa left in their stockings.  (We have a "if three gifts were good enough for Baby Jesus, then three gifts are good enough for you" tradition in our house.)

At eight years old, I'm surprised that Sydney still believes, but at the same time, I am thrilled.  She gets just as excited as the boys about writing her letter and looking for Sheldon each morning and I know that someday very soon, that little bit of magic and wonderment will be gone from her eyes.

I realize that many Christian households don't "do" Santa and I'm fine with that.  Really, I am.  Their house, their rules.  What makes me angry is when I get a "look" from someone at church or the boys' (Christian) school when I mention anything Santa related.  After talking about how much my kids love our elf on the shelf at a recent book club meeting, one particularly snotty woman looked directly at me and said, "We don't do Santa in our house because that is not Christian.  At all."  I wish I were more clever because I really wanted to say something snotty and rude right back to her about how being judgmental is not exactly Christian-like behavior, either.  But of course, I am not all that clever so I said nothing.

You know, it's not as if my kids don't know the real Christmas story.  We read books about it and they play with their little nativity set (all year long, I might add).  One of our traditions is to build a 24 link paper chain to count down to Christmas.  Each link of the chain contains a Bible verse from the Christmas story and each morning we take off a link, read the Bible verse and then hang it on the wall.  By Christmas day, we have the whole Christmas story hanging up for them to see and read.  We attend Christmas services at our church all month long, culminating in a candlelight service and communion on Christmas Eve.  And all three of them can practically hum "Angels We Have Heard on High" in their sleep after hearing Sydney play it on the piano fifty million times over the past few weeks.

We honestly don't see anything wrong with letting them believe in Santa for a few years.  They will grow up soon enough and learn the truth, but for now, we want them to enjoy their very short childhoods.

I'm perfectly OK with parents who don't "do" the Santa thing.  I honestly do not judge them for it.  I just wish they'd return the favor and not judge me for indulging my children in a sweet holiday tradition.