Tag Archives: holidays

Containment 

With all of the holiday bounty comes another uniquely Fun Apartment moment: finding places to actually put away the new toys, all of which seem to be enormously larger than last year’s toys.

So, first comes the purge. I have been sneaking old stuff out of the fun apartment all week (hey, I’m basically unsupervised all day, what did they think was going to happen?) I have a sort of de-cluttering quirk that allows me to give away basically anything we own, as long as I know it is going to a good home. (The flip-side of this quirk is that I have a lot of stuff we are hanging onto because I just know there is a good home for it out there somewhere. Wow, do I hope my knocked up sister has a boy, because that would clear out half of our basement storage closet in a single shipment!)

Because things can really pile up around here. And I seem to be the only one who raises even one eyebrow at the piles. Sure, we live in a small place, there’s going to be stuff around, but sometimes a girl might want to see some flat unoccupied space, like a table top, without waiting for the accompanying unicorn or blood moon. We heard this study on the radio a few days ago (my bit is at the end) and I was basically jumping up and down pointing at the radio, while the man of my dreams shrugged charmingly at me. But science has proven: I am being neuro-chemically altered–in fact, poisoned!–by all this crap around here! Thank you Science! I am vindicated! Now, I have to go to the Salvation Army carrying these large plastic bags. And, no, I don’t know what happened to your magazines from 1998. Or Thomas the &*$#ing Tank Engine, but whatever happened to him, I’m sure he totally had it coming.

After the purge, more bins. Today I spent $35 on Lego storage. And I thought I was the one getting the bargain. I admit, I have a complicated relationship with this temple of organizational commerce. But it is the only place where I could remotely be considered a pop star. The clerk seemed to have his world-view shaken when I asked for “under-couch” storage bins. “Santa brought me several Lego storage problems,” I explained.

“Lego storage opportunities,” he corrected. They should give that guy a raise.

That’s what we have at the fun apartment: opportunities. Lots of opportunities.

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Filed under Living Small

Workshoppy

Now that the holiday craziness is over, I have time to write everything I have been thinking about holiday craziness. So, guess what happened here at the Fun Apartment in Decmber? It was projects! A. Lot. of Projects! We were very busy in Santa’s Sweatshop.

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I have no idea why your hammer smells minty. I think you are imagining things.

For instance, there are the Christmas cookies. The fourteen kinds I made this December, and then forbade my household to eat. And now I have lots of leftover, slightly stale cookies. That was bad planning on my part, especially for my new January theme: “cleanliness is next to Momliness.”

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White chocolate. Peanut butter. Marshmallows. Grandma was right.

But Midwesterners often express their love through butter. And one thing I love about the holidays, among the bajazillion other things I love about the holidays, is that it is one thousand percent acceptable to invite people over and ply them with cookies and drinks and call it dinner! Cheers!


There is also this job I invented for myself: making embroidered felt ornaments for everyone. I love making them, but I have to make rather a lot, and I am running out of holiday themed items that can be reproduced in felt. Somehow I have a sad feeling that next year’s ornaments will be a mini felt Christmas potholder and roll of scotch tape. (Suggestions gleefully accepted!)

And let’s not forget these dudes. Apparently all the dinosaurs at the Fun Apartment never heard about that whole K/T barrier business. Or I am running some sort of dinosaur safe house in the Mesozoic extinction level event witness protection program.

Also, if I ever hear the words “shutter” and “fly” together, I will start to throw knives around.

But, really, I love all the doing. Because, for us, or well me at any rate, Christmas is just a lot of projects! In fact, the lads and I spent most of Christmas Eve engaged in one sort of holiday craft or another, largely because I needed them to be occupied while I was madly embroidering, and because the YMCA insisted that I spend the day with the boys, rather than dumping them in childcare while I went to kickboxing. But it was fun, because, well, they’re my kids after all, so they love complicated projects.

Because of this tremendous project list, however, I have very little energy to disguise my handwriting to fake correspondence from Elf on the Shelf. I wish he were back in Africa. One wise woman told me recently, “Don’t you know? All magical creatures type!” She’s right. They do (now).

However, we encountered one major holiday problem here at the Fun Apartment: the deplorable lack of good hiding places for presents. In a normal household, people just hide their presents in some secret, out-of-the-way spot. But at the Fun Apartment, those secret out-of-the-way spots were colonized long ago by summer clothes or sea monkeys and therefore cannot possibly accommodate a large Lego set. Mommy had to get creative. Sometimes, I had to rely on the fact that they are not overly curious about the piles of random crap err detritus that seem to form all over the place without any encouragement from me and at a rate that would alarm the CDC. So, I just arranged these piles more artfully around holiday gifts shrouded in many layers of plastic shopping bags. I’m a little discouraged to say that this approach worked pretty well. Perhaps they are a little too accustomed to living cheek by jowl with those random piles. But I spent the whole week leading up to Christmas cringing inside whenever the boys gasped or said “Mommy! Look!” Luckily, though, none  of my stash houses were raided.

But this was also a problem when, at 11:30 on Christmas morning, my older son looked at his payload curiously. “Hey!” he said, poking through his Legos and whiskey for a gift he had already glimpsed bringing it home from school (Damn you Scholastic and your ridiculous packaging, too !) “Where’s my weather station?”

I stopped mid-coffee swig. I had hidden the weather station, and its co-presents, the oft-requested remote control monster trucks, somewhere so secret that I had forgotten its location entirely. But, of course, I couldn’t exactly go on a room to- um, well, a room search anyway, because then I would be revealing all my hiding places and expressly destroying my children’s belief in Santa.

Happily, the lad seemed to accept my snorting coffee out of my nose as an answer to this query, and I was able at last to locate these stray items by surreptitiously searching the one cupboard that I can reach without a ladder. And Santa trotted them at the next Christmas celebration we attended (We had five. Check the Shutterfly calendar: It’s a big family.)

Actually, one of my favorite holiday moments was sitting at Fika with a cup of coffee and a candy cane while I wrote out my holiday cards. Never mind that this cozy “holiday” moment happened on January 6. It still had that feel.

And, your holiday card is (finally) in the mail!

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Filed under Home Ec, I make things, Living Small, Mistakes I have made

Elf Help

Last year, Elf on the Shelf came to live at our house–a gift from Grandpa. And it was a godsend. Big became immediately obsessed with it, and carted it around everywhere with him. The elf even went with him in kindergarten, and seemed to have a somewhat positive effect on what was otherwise a rather uphill slog toward appropriate behavior.

I was a little dubious, at first. After all, I am a Pinterest Denier, so I certainly wasn’t going to make more work for myself moving that elf all over the Fun Apartment every night. After all, there’s just not that many places to hide things around here. How many times can we hide the elf in the cat’s litter box before that gets old? But after only one time of nearly getting caught with the elf stuffed under my pajamas, we worked out a solution. Luckily, it seems we have an elf that is lazy and kids with low expectations. We don’t have to stay up all night stuffing the elf into unlikely incriminating situations. Instead, he stays put and just writes them notes in my handwriting. And he only does it sometimes. When he remembers.

And I was mildly uncomfortable ceding my authority to six inches of plastic. And I don’t love the dynamic of it: Shouldn’t the motivation to not grab from one’s brother be “Grabbing isn’t cool”? Not when the elf is there. Then it’s “Don’t grab because this elf has his overly-large eyes fixed on you. And he will report you.” And there’s this whole thing, too.

In the end, I swallowed my reservations last year, and the elf really did help, however dodgy the whole thing seemed.

This year, I was kind of looking forward to having the elf back me up on some discipline issues. The elder lad seems to be have some background application running, that doesn’t free up enough memory for him to pay attention or self-regulate. This rough patch was starting to get ugly and I was kind of looking forward to elf-regulation, instead.

Maybe I should have gotten a tougher elf. Do they make one that had a few inches of rubber hose, or some brass knuckles, a very deep voice and lots of interesting scars? Because it only took about two nights of “The elf is watching!” before the elf became less of a magical holiday friend and more of a snitching party-pooper. Before our first week of holiday preparations was up, the boys played a game in which the elf was stuffed in a bucket and sent to Africa.

No elves were (permanently) harmed in the taking of this photo.

No elves were (permanently) harmed in the taking of this photo.

At least it was a holiday-themed bucket.

I’m relieved and disappointed all at the same time. I don’t necessarily want kids that slavishly follow a plastic doll’s instructions. (Or if I do, then I want a film crew in here now to capture the whole thing and turn into blockbuster!) But I wouldn’t mind a little fear of repercussion once in a while, or a little back up on the obviously empty threat of no Christmas presents.

That would really help on the elf control around here.

 

 

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Filed under Not cool, Mommy

Well, it *did* look a lot like Christmas

So . . . Long time no blog, eh? I thought it’s provide a few glimpses into the holiday festivity preparations here at the Fun Apartment, and we can all pretend I posted them last month and we’re just now getting round to reading them, ok? Great! Communal suspension of disbelief when faced with illusion!

One project we carried on from last year: We made wrapping paper, using the  craft foam stamp technique I learned at a crafternoon many moons ago. I feel really weird about wrapping paper in general and its inherent disposability, but I feel better about this kind.

In the North Pole, the elves probably wear clothes.

In the North Pole, the elves probably wear clothes.

They must make craft foam with adhesive backing. I didn't have that kind.

They must make craft foam with adhesive backing. I didn’t have that kind.

Here we also extended the holiday theme to our meals, because for some reason, all our meals require some context. Also, my willingness to perform loaves and fishes type miracles for healthy, or at least somewhat harmonious meals is well documented.

Man, do I get a lot of mileage out of these eggs.

Man, do I get a lot of mileage out of these eggs.

Oh, and I made these. They are my traditional “Hey, you’re a toddler, here’s your name, with bumps on it!” Gift. I couldn’t say why exactly, but these are remarkably satisfying to make.

She can't read. Yet.

She can’t read. Yet.

But he can. Good thing I have a LARGE collection of buttons.

But he can. Good thing I have a LARGE collection of buttons.

So there you have it! Some holiday cheer from the Fun Apartment! Not all of our gift ideas turned out so hot. You’ll see no photos of the laminated “Eat with your cousins!” placemats. And the body scrubs were a hit, but we’re running quite low on baby food jars and I’m reluctant to put the kids back on a diet of Stage 2 foods simply to help with the glass shortage. My own scrub is in a jar that still smells faintly of peanut butter, despite many washings. Actually, I might be imagining the peanut butter.

Hmm. I wonder if anyone else would enjoy peanut butter body scrub?

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Filed under Home Ec, I make things