Sunday, November 28, 2010

Our Family Christmas Tree Banner

As soon as I put the Christmas Tree Banner Craft Kit in my etsy shop, my mom ordered one. And not because I made her. I totally did no such thing. 

And then she had us each make a tree when we were at her house for Thanksgiving. She wanted to have a Family Christmas Tree Banner to bring out year after year.  And, yes, she's the kind of mom who still adorns the house with the holiday decorations we made when we were little little little. She's awesome.

So, after dinner, we got out the super-cute, biodegradable box:

And took out all the decorations.

Then we spread out all the trees and paper decorations and fancy embellishments in the middle of the table and got to the decoratin'. It was really fun! I mean, how often does your whole family craft together? Sure, the kids might do a craft with a grown-up every once in a while. But having the whole family - grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins - sit down and create something together, well, it's pretty special. When were all finished, we each signed our name on the back of our tree (even the little kids!) and we made sure to date the banner. Sha-bam!  It's a keepsake.

Here are my mom and her husband Tom as they decorated their trees. Tom is one of the best people I have ever known. Ever. I could not have asked for a better person to be a Tompa for my kids. We are so lucky!

Since my mom and Tom are the bosses of the whole family, we put their trees in the very middle of the banner. 

Our cute little cousin Noah. Check out his red, white, and blue tree. He was all about the buttons. So cool!

Peyton and Noah. Aren't they adorable?

Here's our little cousin Hayden getting a little help from my sister-in-law Ali (whose fantastic blog you can find here). Do you see how fun crafts can be even for the littlest ones? Hayden is only 20 months old and look at that great crafting smile! She's a natural!

Here's my brother Josh being... well, my brother. Guess what happens when I tell you I'm going to take your picture for my blog and you act like a goofball? That picture goes straight to my blog, that's what. Notice how he's holding his tree Just So. Hilarious! He took all of two minutes to whip up his tree. As he would probably say, "That's all I needed to create the best tree ever. Suckas!"

Ali and I were at the tree decorating table forever. Because we take pride in our work. And also, maybe, because we were doing just a tiny bit of talking. Or a lot. It's what we do.

The Noah, Hayden, Josh, and Ali section of the banner:

By now, my kids have each made many, many of these trees, but they still love making them! Here's sweetie Ella making her tree:

Don't worry - the glue dries clear! So if your kid insists on doing it ALL BY MYSELF! - go ahead and let her. The resulting tree might have glue all over it, but it will still be precious.

Me and my pumpkin-chocolate-chip-bread-eating-monster. Yum!

Peyton wouldn't let me take a picture of him making his tree because he only allows finished product shots. He's got a plan of greatness, that one.

Here's James making his cool retro pink tree.

Are you noticing a picture pattern with that girl? Like here or here or here or... any of the other three thousand pictures I have of her like that. Anyway.

Here are our trees:

This next picture has nothing to do with the Christmas Tree banner and everything to do with how awesome Tom is:

Happy Christmas Tree Banner Time!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Christmas Tree Banner Craft Kit

I'm so happy to introduce my new craft kit, the Christmas Tree Banner! This is one for the whole family to enjoy. 

The kit includes supplies to make a 7-foot banner with 12 Christmas trees. All you need to supply are some kids, maybe some grown-ups, and scissors. 

Imagine this: 
Your family is gathered for Christmas festivities. You gather everyone at a table, or even a nice big spot on the floor, and lay out all decorations I've included. You divvy up the trees and everyone gets to decoratin'. It's fun, it's calming (or maybe even rowdy), it's family quality time filled with love and warmth. And, because you are awesome and on top of things, you make sure every tree is signed on the back, and dated, by its artist. When all the trees are completed, you string them together on the long banner ribbon. Your family has just created a beautiful Christmas banner (and memory) that can be lovingly brought out year after year. You are a superstar!

Or, imagine this:
You have 2 or more kids decorating the trees, and they each want a banner. You cut the long banner ribbon in as many pieces as you need, and everyone gets to make a mini-banner. And you are able to keep the kid-bickering to a minimum. Superstar!

You skip the banner ribbon and your child makes individual trees to pass out to family members as homemade, and much loved, Christmas gifts. Superstar!

You have your child make one or two trees each year. And you don't forget to write his or her name and the date on the back of the trees. Because, remember, you are a superstar. After a few good years, you string the trees together on the long banner and you have created a Christmas Tree timeline of artistry. Superstar!

You really need a break. You get out the Mommy-works-hard-and-needs-some-peace-and-quiet Christmas Tree banner kit. You throw all the stuff on the table, sit your kid down in front of it all, and pour yourself a much-deserved glass of wine. Sit back and relax while your kid is busy decorating. Superstar! 

That last scenario is my favorite. It's most like real life, am I right? Except in real life I pour myself a glass of wine and then one of my kids will spill sequins all over the floor. Ah well, that's one more reason why my vacuum should come with an attached wine glass holder. Is it too much to ask? So, I guess, in reality, you might not get that much-deserved peace and quiet and relaxation, but at least you'll have some cute Christmas trees!

Peyton and Ella loved making their trees.

Peyton wanted only rhinestones to decorate his. He didn't even want a star! I like it because it's simple and sweet. "Peyton, show me your tree.":

Ella used just about every kind of decoration on hers. It's pure Christmas Tree joy. Kind of goes along with her Christmas list. "Ella, show me your tree.":

Thanks for that, Ella.

"Okay! Now a picture of both of you!":


"Mommy! I'm a puppy!"


The kit includes so many kinds of embellishments! I'm talking buttons, sequins, rhinestones, ribbon, paper tree middles, tree trunks, tree stars, star bling, and more! Some of the materials may differ slightly from the examples shown, but all of them will be awesome. It's how I roll.

And, in case you forgot, the box it all comes in is biodegradable! What's that you say? The box is the perfect size and shape to be wrapped up and given as a present? Why, yes! Yes it is!

And here's a little segment we'll make fancy by calling: Banners Across the World!
(But really, it's just the nonsense I go through as I drag my kids around the neighborhood trying to find the perfect place to take the banner's picture.)

Mossy fence:

White fence with too much space between the slats:

 Other white fence with lots of shadows:

And, in the end, right back to its home on the mantel:

Happy Holiday Crafting!

Monday, November 15, 2010


Hey, Life Insurance Medical Test Guy, I've done this before, so I know how it should work. Someone comes to your house, asks you some medical questions, has you pee in a cup, takes some blood, gives you the lamest medical exam ever, and leaves.

That's when it's done the right way. And then there's this guy.

Strike One:
The appointment is a 9:00 a.m. I have to fast - no breakfast and no coffee. I could have called the whole experience a fail just for that, but it gets worse.
When I get home from dropping Ella off at school, WAY BEFORE my scheduled appointment, there's a phone message. The medical test guy is somehow unable to find my house. I immediately call him back, but he says he's already left to go back to his office and won't be able to get to my house until WAY AFTER 9:00. I call shenanigans on that nonsense. Shenanigans!

Strike Two:
I need to give some blood. As I get older, I'm getting better at this needle thing, but I still freak out a little. My heart races, I get a little hot and sweaty, my brain enters the Twilight Zone. But I deal with it. I'm a grown-up now, for crying out loud. I deal. So the guy gets the needle ready and I look away to try and find my happy place.
"Are you nervous?"
"A little bit, but I'm okay."
He sticks me with the needle. I deal.
"Oops. I missed the vein. I'll have to do it again."
I start to freak out the tiniest bit more. My pain tolerance is low, yes, but it's the fear of more pain that kills me. I take a deep, shaky breath and look down at my arm. The vial is filling up with blood.
He didn't miss.
"Just kidding." And there's some sort of sick gleeful spark in his eyes.
What is the matter with you, guy? You see what I'm going through! I don't understand why this is funny to you. Have you NO SOUL?

Strike Three:
He finishes with the all the blood letting and is putting away all the materials. Hey, Mister! I'm not sending you a thank-you note! Gather up your fear-inducing humor and your medical torture devices and get out of my house!
He takes out an empty vial and looks at me.
"Uh-oh. I forgot to fill this one."
I stare back at him. I am no longer playing with you, guy.
"Just kidding."
Hey, life insurance medical testing jackass, I just want you to know that this whole game would be sooo much more fun for me if not for the potential of another needle being jabbed into my arm. The fear and the pain and the racing heart and the sweat and the Twilight Zone brain.
And, by the way, REALLY? THIS IS FUN FOR YOU?

Strike Four:
He needs to measure my height and weight. He takes out the scale. This could be strike four all on its own. But it's not. Oh no, not by a long shot.
I go to stand on the scale and he says:
"Let me guess."
Whoa! No No No No No No!
And before I could tell him how completely inappropriate it is for anyone I have not paid $2 at the town fair to try to guess my weight, and without going into all the gory details, I'll just say that he guessed 20 POUNDS ABOVE my actual weight.

But he did take off his shoes when he came into my house to be polite, so how does that make sense? It doesn't.

You, sir, have failed.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Getting It Done

A Toys R Us Christmas toy catalog came in Sunday's newspaper last week. I gave it to Peyton and Ella to look through, because I knew they would love it, but mostly because I enjoy Mommy Quiet Time. I gave the classic instructions, "Circle the toys that you would love to get for Christmas. It doesn't mean you'll get them, but it's fun, and Santa likes to know what you like."

Did you do this when you were little? I remember spending hours and hours circling my favorite toys in the Sears Christmas toy catalog when I was young. It seemed so important! I also remember that I rarely received ANY of the toys I circled. I still got great stuff - I'm not complaining at all, but I think Santa and I had conflicting ideas of what was best for me. Just as, I'm sure, Santa might possibly have conflicting ideas of what is best for Peyton and Ella. ESPECIALLY Ella.

Peyton went first. He flipped through to the boy section and carefully circled the things he liked. Then he wrote them in his notebook. Then he researched each toy by looking over the pictures again and erased the ones he deemed inappropriate (too babyish) for his age.

He's totally my kid - the way he tried to write it all neat and organized, and how he researched and made changes. I just think it's the sweetest list ever.

And, off-topic, here's the next page in his notebook:

I love it. He's the perfect 6 1/2 year old. 

Then, Ella got to go through the catalog. I look over, and she's on the couch circling EVERY SINGLE THING in the girl section. Not joking.

And when she was done with all the circling, she got a piece of paper and a pen. And then she asked, "Mommy, how do you spell....."

I'll translate for those of you who aren't proficient in 4 1/2 year old writing: 

I know! Why didn't I ever think of that? The girl doesn't mess around. She GETS. IT. DONE.

And then, a few days later, I was watching Little Bill with her. A commercial came on for that dang Barbie Jet and she was all ooh-ing and aah-ing over it. I asked her if she would like to put it on her Christmas list and she got all irritated because I had forgotten:

"Mommy! I don't need to, remender?" (I LOVE how she says remender. LOVE!)
"Because it already says All The Toys In The World!"

Good luck with that one, Santa.


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