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Category Archives: kids

stitching up a magic hat

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A little friend of Pia’s had a birthday party this weekend to celebrate turning 6. Since it was to be a magic-themed party, complete with a magic show, Pia thought we should make a magic hat for him. We used some thick, black foam that Jim had left over from a work project which I hand-stitched together using black yarn. The inside is red velour with a secret hole near the top of the hat, where a young magician could hide any number of things during a show. The outside of the hat seemed a bit dull, so I added an oversized black flower and some velvet trim. We included one other prop, a white scarf to pull out of the hat, which turns colors the more one pulls on it. Simple, but fun.


happy: watercolor pencils

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I woke up with a cold and spent most of the day moping on the couch (and reading the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson, which I find fascinating). After my blissful Saturday I felt quite blue that Sunday wasn’t destined for the same level of happy. But then Pia, sensing I needed cheering up, asked me if I wanted to draw. And drawing with Pia is, hands down, my absolute favorite thing to do. We brought out the watercolor pencils (a most delightful medium) and set out to anthropomorphize our cats, Haile and Darwin. Drawing our 24-pound cat in a ski sweater is now my surefire ticket to a jolly mood.

happy: coffee filter snowball

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Days like this are too few and far between. Pia woke up happy and agreeable and we spent the morning bouncing between projects, games and silliness. Usually there are two to three meltdowns before noon. Today, zero. Happy. After lunch she was seized by the idea that she wanted to learn how to skateboard (inside, of course) and now she is making a kite. I think she is ready for spring.

We made the snowball (above) by attaching coffee filters to a styrofoam ball with t-pins. There were many squeals of delight as we were making it. Most of them were mine. I love projects like this that are super cool and super easy. I want to make a dozen more.

knitting nancys

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I got it into my head the other day that I wanted to make a knitting spool for Pia and after poking around on the internet I found a tutorial for making a knitting ned (the male version of a knitting nancy, of course) at zencrafting.  This version called for popsicle sticks and toilet paper tubes rather than wooden spools and nails, which I thought would be much easier for little hands. Now Pia and I can knit together while Jim reads books to us. It is lovely.

On a trip to Knitch (our local yarn store) this weekend I noticed a new yarn by Berroco called Link which looks like it was made on a knitting nancy. Presumably a knitting nancy machine, but still. And it got me to thinking about what I could do with a long, long chain of yarn. Something like this, perhaps?  So I’m thinking that I will be trading in my needles for a knitting nancy, too. At least for a while. Who knew toilet paper tubes and popsicle sticks could add up to so much fun?

can you ever have too many games?

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Yes. You can. And we do. Because every time I go to St. Vinny’s we end up getting a game. Or two. Because they are $1. So on New Year’s Eve I made a stack of all the games we own and declared that we must play every game in the house, top to bottom. If ‘someone’ says they don’t want to play a game then it goes back to St. Vinny’s. And not surprisingly, it appears that all you really need are 15 really good games. The rest just take up space and aren’t played with all that often. Our top 10? In no particular order:

  • Tier auf Tier
  • Scrabble for Juniors
  • Sorry!
  • Cadoo
  • The Allowance Game
  • Candy Land
  • Checkers
  • I Never Forget a Face (a memory-style game)
  • Silly Socks
  • Busy Town

Of course this doesn’t include card games. That’s a completely different list.

in lieu of real snow, may i introduce frosty the pancake

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One of our advent activities this year was to make snowman pancakes with daddy. Most of the advent activities I plan go over like lead balloons (make an ornament for our new neighbor? no. make a present for grandma? sigh. put out treats for the birds? blah.) so when one is actually embraced with enthusiasm I get really excited. As was the case with the snowman pancakes that Jim cooked and Pia and her friend decorated.

After dusting their snoman-cakes with powdered sugar the girls decorated them with chocolate chips (regular and mini) and tiny carrot noses. Oddly, the one thing Pia kept eating wasn’t the chocolate chips but the carrot noses. I think I ended up cutting three dozen noses before they made it onto the snowmen. Kids are funny.

Of course, eating pancakes for dinner is always a treat, so maybe that was part of the allure. As for the perennial favorite of the advent activities? Hands down, the candy cane hunt.

krumkake was made, and no one was hurt

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Of all the Christmas traditions we have my favorite is the making of the krumkake. This is odd as I really don’t like to cook and try to only go into the kitchen to retrieve a cup of coffee or pour a bowl of cereal. But krumkake is different. Perhaps because it is so ceremonious. First I put on Tracks, disc 1, by Bruce Springsteen and skip ahead to Bishop Danced. Then I clean the kitchen counters and make a lovely working environment for myself. I may even don in apron. I definitely pour a glass of wine. Then I pull out the krumkake iron, a splurge of a purchase made in the early months of our marriage when spending $50 on something as unnecessary as a griddle that you use but once a year was unheard of. I like to say that I’m Norwegian, and technically I am 50%, but really the only Norwegian thing I do is make krumkake. Once a year.

This year Pia wanted to help. I was on the fence about this as a) it is a wicked hot iron, and b) I tend to need a bubble of space around me when I cook, a 10 foot bubble preferably.  But, realizing that my favorite Christmas tradition was one where I was alone (with Bruce) seemed a bit out of sync with the Christmas spirit. So I said yes. And we had a ball. And none of her fingers, hands, elbows or hair got scorched. A Christmas miracle indeed.

Yes, that is my hand in the picture, ready to yank her arm out of the way in case her hand got too close to the iron. A bit overprotective? Perhaps. But there is no faster way to ruin a good Christmas tradition than with a burn injury, no?