30 November 2010

Handmade Holidays

A brown paper package, tied up with string. It really is one of my favorite things. For Nicole, my handmade holiday exchange partner, I fancied the brown paper package up a bit.

I would love to do a handmade holiday gift exchange in my family, but I don't think there would be too many takers. Fortunately, Linda from Craftaholics Anonymous provided me with a way to get my fix by hosting a handmade gift exchange on her blog.

I was filled with ideas for gifts. Felted woolen slippers, paper tree ornaments, miniature wreaths, to name a few. And if I didn't have a family and a full time job, I am sure I would have made all of them. Instead I designed a necklace and earrings for Nicole, and sent her one of my handmade glass ornaments. The package goes in the mail today. I'll show the gifts off tomorrow, during the big reveal on Linda's website.

27 November 2010

Oh Christmas Tree!

In search of the perfect tree
Found it!

High ceilings call for big trees

Taking it home

21 November 2010

Giving Thanks

The saddest Christmas song I know was playing on the radio Friday, when I drove home after taking Lola to daycare. (Yes, I have broken my own rule of no Christmas before Thanksgiving, what of it?) The song is "The Little Boy that Santa Claus forgot", a 1937 classic made famous by Nat King Cole, among others.

"He's the little boy that Santa Claus forgot,
And goodness knows, he didn't want a lot.
He sent a note to Santa, for some soldiers and a drum,
It broke his little heart, when he found Santa hadn't come."

Doesn't this bring tears to your eyes? Or is it just me, am I such a sap? Either way, while I was driving home, listening to the soft baritone voice of Mr. Cole, I thought about the child we have been assigned by the Rotary to buy Christmas presents for. A little girl, one year old, who needs warm clothes and loves Minnie Mouse. There are many more children like her out there, the little boys and girls that Santa Claus forgot.

I am so grateful Lola is not one of those children, that we can afford to dress her and buy her gifts. I am so grateful we are in the position to help when and where needed, after coming dangerously close to being on the receiving end. It seems like an eternity but it was just last year our situation was so different from what it is now.

During our trials and tribulations I would, from time to time, voice my frustration and anger at the universe on my blog. And without fail, the universe would answer me somehow. I realized I haven't properly and publicly thanked the universe for our reversal of fortune. I think it's time.

Thank you.

20 November 2010

Hunters & Gatherers

I like my men in orange
Today is Opening Day of deer hunting season up here in the Northwoods. The alarm was set for 4:30 am. While I do not hunt, I did rise to assist my mother-in-law in making a hearty breakfast for the N. boys. They took off an hour later in their coordinating orange outfits. It was 18.5 degrees outside.

On the way to work I encountered dozens of pick-up trucks parked by the side of the road and many more men walking around in blaze orange. It was a colorful ride. I overheard some locals complain about it being very quiet this morning with hardly a shot fired. The bucks take care to stay out of sight.

A large, eight or nine point buck has been spotted several times this week, leisurely strolling down our street. Moving inside city limits is the smart thing to do now, if you're a deer. I wonder if he knows...

15 November 2010

Counting Down

The craft room is being put to good use these days. Instead of allowing my usual holiday ADD to manage my time ("Ooh, I can make that. And that. And that too, it's so simple and charming!" And then nothing gets done of course, because I cannot make up my mind, I don't have enough time, etc.), I took control this year and wrote down what I would really like to do, what it entails, and when it needs to be done. And then I submitted it to a firm reality check.

For instance, I would love to make an advent calender for Lola. One that is not all about candy or presents, but creates the spirit and excitement that go with Christmas. I stumbled on a design by inchmark featured on homemade by jill, a blog I read. I love it just the way it is, but instead of ornaments, I thought it would be nice to fill the little pockets with tiny figurines for a nativity set, another thing I have wanted to have for some time now.

A quick trip to JoAnn's last week turned out unsuccessful. I considered making my own nativity set, but let's be real here, people. There is no way I am going to take my figure saw and cut out twenty four itty bitty pieces for a nativity set, paint them and have them all done by December first. Ornaments it is then, and store bought at that. The calender itself is coming along nicely. It will be done in time for the count down.

Something else I have wanted to do is sign up for a handmade gift exchange with a total stranger on Craftaholics Anonymous, one of the many craft blogs I read. I thought long and hard if I was really able to do it this year before I signed up for one, keeping it simple. That also needs to be finished by the end of this month.

The next thing on my list is sending out Christmas cards. And on time for a change. I am not making any promises, but I did manage to retrieve the address file from my laptop that will only start up in 'safe mode' these days. It just might happen this year.

And then there are the teacher and neighbor gifts. I am hell bent om making them myself. Fortunately I have a wonderful simple idea and all the necessities. Unfortunately it turns out Lola has three teachers. We have four neighbors and I only have supplies for six gifts. The good news is I have five weeks to come up with a solution.

Oh, and I suppose I should shop for my loved ones, too. There's still time.

13 November 2010

First Snow

6:46 a.m.:
I am blissfully asleep, curled up under the blankets in my parents-in-law's guestroom, enjoying the chance to sleep in.

[Whisper] "Mommy. MOMMY! It's snowing outside!"

7:32 a.m.:
I am wide awake, sipping my coffee on the front porch, watching my daughter admire her footprints in the snow.

The first snow is the best snow! I can always sleep in another day.

28 October 2010

Friendly Witch Of The North

Fillet of a fenny snake
In the cauldron boil and bake
Eye of newt and toe of frog
Wool of bat and tongue of dog
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting
Lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing
For a charm of powerful trouble
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble
Double, double toil and trouble
Fire burn and cauldron bubble

(William Shakespeare)

24 October 2010

Single For A Weekend

I had to work all weekend and my husband and daughter did not feel like hanging around and waiting for me to come home. They packed a bag and headed south to Ryan's home town. They will be back tomorrow. It's very quiet without them around but at the same time it gives me time to get a few things done.

So what did I do? Not too much to be honest. Yesterday I crashed with Sandman on my lap as soon as I got home. I woke up in the middle of the night, hot and uncomfortable with the seams of my jeans pushing into my legs. After addressing my discomfort, I lay awake till the wee hours of the morning.

This evening I am a little more productive. I have purchased and hung new curtains. The black-out, energy saving kind. Looks rather nice. I have just started a load of laundry and as soon as I am done blogging, I am going to clear this table to work on the second part of Lola's Halloween costume.

And like the good little Wisconsinite that I have become, I have the TV tuned to Sunday Night Football. Go Pack, Go!

Single life is so exciting, isn't it?

23 October 2010

Daily Commute

Aside from numerous school buses, I have never seen an actual bus in the Northwoods. Considering you will not find a single traffic light in the whole of Forest County, the complete lack of public transportation does not surprise me. Back in my Dutch days, I always commuted to work by way of public transportation. The tram, the train, and the bus, I made use of them all. I did it for twelve years, and then I bought a car.

Cozy bus stop in Madison WI
There are pros and cons to public transportation. In Holland it will take you just about anywhere, something I really liked. However, I disliked the waiting, the drafty and sometimes foul smelling bus stops (especially in the winter), and traveling on a tight schedule. I loved having the opportunity to drink coffee and apply your make-up on the way to work, taking in a quick nap, and reading while you travel. My reading hours have dropped dramatically since I transferred to a car.

After moving to Rhinelander, my commute to work increased to an hour, as opposed to the twenty five minutes it used to be. It took me a few weeks but I am okay with it now. For a while I avoided County Road W because every time I passed my parents-in-law's house, the realization would hit me that I could be home right now. Instead I had forty more minutes to go. I quickly got over that one, because the alternative route is so boring. For the time being, until the snow comes, I have returned to taking the back roads. However, at night I prefer to stick to the highway to lessen my chances of running into wild life.

Last night, as I was driving home by the light of the beautiful full moon, I caught myself developing a renewed appreciation for public transportation. If only to catch up on my reading.

22 October 2010

Decorating For All Hallows Eve

We have a very large albeit not very beautiful fireplace in our new living room. It is surrounded by an enormous mantelpiece. When I spotted it the first time we walked into the living room, my mind immediately went into overdrive thinking about the upcoming holidays and how I could have fun decorating.

Alas, that turned out not to be the case. This family does not not have a normal TV like normal people. No, we watch TV projected on our white wall. The wall right above the fireplace. This means my mantel decorations cannot exceed three inches. Bummer.

So, instead of arranging bats, ghosts, and crows on the mantel, I spookified the entryway. Enter at your own risk.

My first attempt at taxidermy

Black birds and skulls are a must have

A mouse motel inspired by Martha

Lola's and my spooky ghosts

18 October 2010

The First Of The First Day Of School

Lola started school today. It's not really school, it's daycare at the Y in Rhinelander but the setting is very school-like. So we call it school. She was very excited about it. Armed with a brand new pink backpack and a polka dot sleeping bag for naps, she set off for her new school this morning. She hopes to make lots of friends. So do we. It would be wonderful to have friends in the neighborhood.

Ryan brought her to daycare and he will also pick her up. Up until now, Lola's daycare was in Wabeno, about five minutes from where I work. I very much appreciate sharing drop off and pick up duties with him. And as an added bonus, a day off during the week is now a day I can have all to myself if I so desire.

It was very quiet in the car though, this morning. Lola is going through a serious "Are we there yet?" phase and wants me to play baby all the time. To clarify: I have to be the baby, she is the mom. It's okay that I am a baby that knows how to drive a car, as long as I cry like one... It's funny and tiresome at the same time. I made up the rule that I only cry from Monico to Crandon on the way down, and from Monico to Rhinelander on the way back, resulting in a lot of "Are we in Monico yet?" On the positive side, she knows the name of every town between Rhinelander and Wabeno.

I missed her chatter this morning but not the crying. But just this once, for old time's sake, I cried a little when I reached Monico.

15 October 2010

A Letter To Santa Claus

Out of the blue Lola asked what Elisabeth wanted for Christmas at dinner the other night. I told her I had no idea, we would have to ask her. I then posed the same question to Lola: "What would you like for Christmas?"

"A purple suitcase," she answered, most decidedly. Purple is her favorite color, although she just informed me that blue and pink are her favorite colors too, in addition to purple.

"Is there anything else you would like?"

"No, just a purple suitcase."

A purple suitcase it is then. I suggested she write Santa Claus a letter to inform him of her wish. She agreed that would be a good idea. I grabbed a pen and some paper and we set off to write the letter together. Since she cannot write, I proposed she'd dictate and I would transcribe.

We need to work on her small talk skills a little because all she could come up with was "Dear Santa, I would like a purple suitcase for Christmas. Love, Lola." Then again, during the busiest time of the year, I am sure Jolly Old Saint Nicholas appreciates someone who is to the point and knows what she wants.

14 October 2010

I Break For Thieves

When I went to pick up Lola from daycare yesterday, I decided to take the residential route through town, rather than the main street. At some point I saw a small creature crossing the street about a block ahead. I couldn't really tell what it was but it was the size of a skunk. I slowed down carefully to avoid setting it off.

It turned out not to be a skunk, but a gray squirrel struggling with a great big indian corn, husks and all, in its mouth. It appeared to have stolen someone's fall decor. Nothing is safe from these itty bitty creatures. They don't stop at bird feeders anymore, they'll raid your porch if they get the chance. Wicked little thieves!

I must admit though, he looked really cute...

05 October 2010

My Girl

Lola was singing funny made up songs in the car this morning. One went like this: "My mom is the best mom, my mom is the best mom..."

I really liked that song, needless to say. Being the modern day mother that I am, I bragged about it on Facebook, to the amusement of several of my friends.

When I checked my Facebook page a few hours later, I saw that silly little line again and a rush of gratitude came over me, simply because I am able to say I am a mom. And the best mom at that.

I was 41 years old when Lola was born. To be honest, I did not think I would ever be a mother. And I was okay with that. I knew there would always be a small regret that I would never experience being pregnant or knowing first hand what it is like to love a child of your own, to see yourself in your offspring, to raise a little person. But it did not consume me. I believed it just wasn't meant to be.

But it was meant to be and thanks to Lola, and Ryan, I am able to brag that my child thinks I am the best mom there is.

Thank you Lolalief, you are the best daughter in the whole wide world!

Related Posts with Thumbnails