Um ... sorry. Things have been a wee bit crazy. A good crazy. Life has been full, to say the least.
The really good news is I've pretty much lost the baby weight. Six years later. I would like to thank my school district for hiring me on a Wednesday afternoon and asking me to start the next morning for making that possible. Forget all the diet books and exercise gadgets. Just get a job where you're chasing kids around all day and eat gum for lunch.
So most of my recent crafting has involved crafting lesson plans for kindergartners, which is as much fun as you can imagine. We made pilgrim hats and bonnets today and measured the length of the Mayflower in the school's hallway.
The kindergartners never cease to amaze me with their creativity and humor. I had a little guy bring a stud detector to school today for show and tell (you know, the little beepy device you use to find studs in a wall). He demonstrated how to use it on our classroom walls, letting it beep a few times and then turned to the class, placed the stud finder on his chest, made it beep and then declared he had found yet one more stud. Good golly. I only wish another adult had been in the room to share the moment with me.
FYI: I'm still writing the About.com Kids' Parties site, and here are some recent articles that might be of interest:
-Games to play at the Thanksgiving table to keep the kids still for more than five minutes
-A big roundup of holiday party ideas for kids (Christmas, Hanukkah, NYE, etc.)
I also wanted to drop in to plug a wonderful cookbook I've been using lately: Time for Dinner by Jenny Rosenstrach and other former editors of Cookie magazine (r.i.p., Cookie). We've tried a handful of recipes so far and everything has been delicious. I have just about every page bookmarked for later. My favorite to date:
I can't emphasize enough how helpful it is to have a meal plan when you're insanely busy. For the first few weeks after I got the teaching job, we survived on frozen meatballs from Costco (and gum--see above). It's nice to eat (and cook!) real food again. Now if someone would just clean up the mess.
Disclosure 1: We are going out to eat for Thanksgiving. That would be biting off more than I can chew right now.
Disclosure 2: It hasn't been all work and no play. We had planned a trip to Hawaii before I got the job and were able to still take it in early November. I hadn't been there since I was 2 and was blown away by the beauty and general perfection of the place. Oh, and the coconut syrup. That was good, too. It's going on top of everything now.
I will spare you family vacation photos, except for this sign hanging in the window of a local eatery:
"Be cool. No get mad." It's my new mantra.
Next up: Our school organizes a very fun thing on the Thursday before winter break. We call it Winter Workshop.
Let me interject by briefly explaining how darling my school is. The entire district only has 400 students and we're all contained within two buildings on one campus. We're surrounded by wheat fields and there are literally cows and horses adjacent to our playground. I can hear them from my classroom. Seriously.
OK, back to Winter Workshop. The kids get all mixed around, so the fourth/fifth graders come to me in batches and we create handmade holiday gifts for family members. After they're done making them, parent volunteers wrap that gifts in the hallway.
So, of course, I'm wracking my brain trying to come up with the perfect crafts to make (one or two should do). They can't be too hard or too easy. I want them to be something the parents will really think is nice and worth keeping but also not boring for the kids. And since it gets wrapped the same day, it can't be loaded with glue or paint (a thin layer should be fine, though).
This is what I'm considering:
1. Snowy pinecones (add a string to turn them into ornaments and mix glitter into the white paint for some bling.).
2. Twig placecard holders, similar to these:
3. Martha's cinnamon-and-glitter bird ornaments:
Simplified a bit for kids.
4. An advent calendar, like this one from DIY Father:
5. Cranberry wreaths, like these from MayaMade (how long would those last?).
6. Some sort of set of notecards, like thank you or happy new year.
7. A holiday journal of one kind or another, but not embroidery, like I did here.
8. Something inspired by these Santa Lucia crowns the girls and I made last year.
Any other ideas? What are you making with your kiddos this year?
Nice to see you again. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.