Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year from my little knights and me.

May you always have enough protection.

Even if it is just a cardboard box.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Oh, yeah. Our Christmas.

Got busy and forgot to post Christmas. Then I went through my pictures organizing them, and had to put some up. Here it is.

First, Hannah's present to Ainsley.

My parents did something fantastic at Christmas. All ten of us kids gave a gift to all ten of our siblings. It made for a marathon present opening session on Christmas morning, but it did something wonderful for us. We all got excited about what we were getting, but were more excited about what we were *giving* and the response of the recipient. There was a lot of whispering, secret meetings, and giggling leading up to Christmas. My mom even involved the youngest by having them pick cookie shapes, decorate, box, and wrap them for each sibling. When you got a box with five cookies in it that were more icing and nonpareils than cookies, you were expected to be very excited about it. Ten kids on a sugar high for four days must have been a sight.

This year was the first that I saw Hannah (or Ainsley) really get into the giving. It didn't start out smoothly. Hannah found a mermaid and a truck for her siblings which she hid under her coat in the cart. She then spent the rest of the trip suggesting things that Ains could get for her.

Gray decorated cookies for both. Ains worked hard painting the nutcracker ($1 at a craft store) for Hannah, who has a thing for nutcrackers, and she made chocolate candies for our little candy vaccuum. Hannah assembled and painted a fire truck for Gray ($1 at the craft store) and she took four days to assemble this for Ains.

Folks, it was a masterpiece. That was a $3 investment ($1 for each of the castles that she assembled and painted, and $1 for the mermaid that she painted) and lots of creativity as she circled my craft room countless times looking for more ideas. It includes a board from our outside stash that had to be sanded and painted - which she happily did by herself, shells, glitter, a styrofoam ball with fabric 'patchworked' into it with the edge of a spoon, foam waves, a foam treasure chest, mouse and dinosaur buttons (with an elaborate story about underwater dinosaurs), pieces of fake flower stems that are seaweed... It's a regular underwater playground for that lucky mermaid and Ains has loved it.

Best of all, Hannah got to feel the joy of spending a lot of time and effort making something that was thoroughly enjoyed by the one she made it for.

Back to Christmas morning. This was the least blurry shot I got before they ran downstairs, youngest first.

They were thrilled with the dollhouse and spent varied amounts of time at it. Hannah was approximately 15 seconds before she looked over and saw Rosetta - ROSETTA!!! - peeking out of her stocking. Farewell, dollhouse.

Ains, however had to be dragged away from the dollhouse to empty her stocking.

Stocking stuffers are some of the most fun presents to find since they are so tailored to each person. Among Hannah's treasures were a magic trick, a science experiment, and a fan (she's been wanting a fan for weeks). Ains' most desired item was a box of 'fancy' earrings, the first earrings she's been able to wear apart from the ones she got when her ears were pierced. She was *so* excited, ooh'd and aah'd, put them in, admired them, took them out, put them in the box, handed them to Hannah and said "You can have dese. I no want holes in mine ears no more." I couldn't have been more shocked. Gray got wooden cars and noise makers. Oh, the big noise maker was a hit.

When Ains felt she'd done her duty by her stocking, she went back to the dollhouse and has rarely left it since.

*Mother sighs blissfully*

Gray's favorite present was this Spiderman 4-wheeler from his dad. Awesome.

My present for both girls was a little tin tea set that they'll be able to be a bit more careless with (as is not possible with the tea set patched together from thrift stores).

It was a quiet hit, not a lot of excitement, but steady play. The cups are the perfect size for Gray. It cracks me up how proper he is when he holds the cup. Matt says I should teach him stick his pinkie out.

The afternoon was spent discovering and rediscovering all that we got. This was a gamble - Mystery Garden. I'm always looking for good games. Some are instant hits, some are instant duds. This one is so much fun - even Ains can play (in her 3-year-old way). If you're looking for an educational game, this would qualify. There's a board with a picture of a garden on it that includes dozens of little details. There are dozens of little tiles with one detail (a unicorn, a hedgehog, a beehive, etc) on each. You draw a tile and everyone else tries to guess what it is by asking yes/no questions.

Ains worked with her 'sticker storybook'.

And the train track got moved downstairs where it became a 'viewing train around a dinosaur zoo'.

Sorry it's up so late!

Right this minute.







That was 'right this minute' this morning. Then things got busy - knights, dancing, books, and dress-up - and now, right this minute, Gray's listening to music in a tape recorder beside me, occassionally getting up to dance, and smiling the whole time, and Hannah (the animal doctor) has set up shop upstairs while Ains brings her animals one at a time from downstairs, carrying the poor broken things on a little pillow to the doctor. There is loud cheering when they are fixed, and they're brought to me so that I'll be amazed and Ains gets a candy to pay Hannah.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

They say...

After fifteen Bear Hunts, Hannah decided that we were going on a fairy hunt, we were gonna catch a miniature one, what a beautiful day, we weren't scared! When we found the toadstool ring, I pretended like she'd turned me into a newt and fell on the bed. Ainsley landed beside me with an exclamation of "She turn me into polar beer!" Then Hannah landed with a "She turned me into a coati!"

Strange little child.

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Me: (holding up a small pair of underwear) Hannah, these were in my pile, but I don't think they're mine.

H: "Why not?"

Me: Well, they're size 6. I don't wear a size 6.

H: (giggling) "No. You wear a size Weeble Wobble."

Was that strictly necessary?

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Hannah: "Ainsley, are you confused? We're not going to a costume party, we're going to a ball. And balls are not for fun, like costume parties. They're where you find your love for the rest of your life. You need to wear a fancier hat."

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To follow that last one ...

Hannah walked by me singing a song that sounded like the "Dreams are a wish your heart makes" song from Cinderella. I was just about to give up any hope of raising feminist daughters when I heard what she was singing to the tune.

"Dreams are what your heart wants, when you want something bad. If you want it, you have to dream of it, but don't forget to work and work and work hard for it. Then you'll get it. If you woooooooorrrrrrk! And dream. But mostly work."

And I was happy.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Starting the day with cuisenaire.

As soon as she woke up this morning, Hannah turned to me and said "Am I six today?"

No, sweetie, you're still five. But you're more than five-and-a-half now, you're only two months away from being six!

*blank look* "I want to be six NOW! It's taking so loooooong."

So I got out the cuisenaire rods and showed her how big twelve was and we counted out the months she's already lived since turning five.

She was excited that there were only two left to go (two looks like a very short time compared to ten). I even went for the '3/4' which got me an eye roll.

Then she started thinking of presents she wanted for her birthday and the 'It's so long until my birthday' refrain started back up.

I told her that it did, indeed, seem like a long time for her, but for me every day that she got older was a day closer to her growing up, so it seemed like time was moving very fast to me.

She got a concerned look on her face, crawled into my lap, took my face between her hands, and, looking in my eyes, said in a very calming voice, "It's not the years that I want, Mother. It's the presents."

That's all right then.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Aw, yeah.

It took all of these books to get them to sleep tonight.

Cookies and milk left out near a chair. "Cause he's so tired from lugging that big sack all night, you know."

The children are snug in their beds. (While visions of chihuahuas, little plastic princesses, and trucks dance in their heads.)

Two out of three ain't bad. No chihuahua this year.

The magic is arranged.

This is what it's all about.

Sliding into Christmas.

Solstice has passed. We did more for Solstice this year, and both girls really got into it. An awesome Solstice gift didn't hurt. During the day, we had cousins over and we ('we' being my sister and I, for the most part) made treats for the birds.



The kids did make their pinecone feeders before running off to twirl.

Quick question for you - how many kids are in this picture?

After cousins left and Daddy came home, the girls got to open their Solstice present.

It was well received.



The last few days have been spent making ornaments,



experimenting with hair,



playing games,

writing letters to friends,

asking to go outside,

going outside,

and eating lots of brownies.

That was the last few days.

Last night saw Hannah adding last minute items to her Santa List.

A chihuahua and tulip seeds.

She's highly optimistic about the chihuahua. She shouldn't be.

This morning has already seen frantic last minute gift finishing for siblings, secret wrapping, screams of 'Don't let her come in here!!!', and Smurfs.


Happy Holidays to you and yours, readers. I've enjoyed sharing the past year with you and hope that next year is filled with all that you need.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

These last few days.

Full to the brim.

More cinnamon ornaments.

Crafting.

Sneaking in time to make presents for siblings.

Sword fighting.

More crafting.

More cooking.

More present making.

Practicing for a Christmas Eve talent show.

And of course more crafting.

We've put the sun to bed.

Good night all! See you on the other side.