I know I haven't been around as regularly as usual, but I'm hopeful to be back posting more often again in the new year. We're off to take our annual holiday vacation, bake a million cookies and celebrate Christmas.
We've started a tradition in our family of handmade gifts for Oliver. Every Christmas and birthday, we give him something handmade in addition to his gifts from a store. For his birthday it was redoing the kitchen set, last Christmas I made him the giant stuffed snake. He also participates in making gifts for others, as much as a two year old can - for now we paint pictures to give to loved ones. I'll be honest, he's very spoiled and has more toys than he can play with and it's largely our own fault. But we're hoping to teach him the joy of giving, that gifts from the heart mean more and are better than things from a store, and that it's the time, effort and thought that count the most.
This Christmas, I've made him an octopus.
It's really just a modified version of the snake I made last year. The head is like making a baby hat, instead of making a brim I tapered off until it closed. The tentacles (all 8!) are just small snake tails that I attached to the head with a tapestry needle and yarn. The eyes are felt. and sewed on. I stuffed the head and the tops of the tentacles with batting, but I left the bottoms empty so they are floppy.
Oliver might not appreciate handmade gifts filled with love until he's much older (I mean what kid isn't more interested in the AMAZING COOL THING that Santa brought?), but hopefully someday it will mean more. And in the meantime he can wear the snake as a wrap and give the octopus a cuddle.
This holiday season, we've been trying to squeeze out as much magic as possible for Oliver. Our house is decorated inside and out. We have two trees. We've been doing elf on a shelf and our Advent calendar every day. We listen to Christmas music and sing carols. Over the weekend we took Oliver to our town's festival and he got to see Santa (he didn't like it). We've been celebrating with family and friends and I'd like to think that Oliver finds the whole thing (except for maybe sitting on Santa's lap) fun and magical.
On the "work" side of Christmas, I think we're on top of things. Our Christmas cards are out, gifts are shipped. I'm almost done shopping, though I still have a ton of wrapping to do. Really the last big thing on my list is baking a truck-load of Christmas cookies (you can find all my favorite recipes here and here), and that's more fun than anything.
In our living room we have a new (to us) chair and matching ottoman. It's from my Dad's house, originally from Crate and Barrel, and it's crazy comfortable. Seriously it's the most comfortable chair in the world. The pattern isn't ideal with the wallpaper, but it looks fine with all of the other neutrals in the room. We could even reupholster it someday. Once Christmas is over we'll probably move it back to the reading nook so we can use it with the ottoman.
Our outdoor display is more festive than ever with our new snowflake lights hanging from our tree.
In the backyard we've added color strands along the deck railing. It's so pretty when we look out the back window. I love it!
Update: I don't recommend the snowflake lights from Target. They were really pretty but the quality is terrible. One stopped working right after these photos were taken so we exchanged it, then BOTH strands stopped lighting up after about two weeks, blowing out one snowflake at a time. So it turns out they are defective and we returned them for a refund.
I've always loved Christmas, we decorate our house every year. This year we've definitely added to it now that we have a toddler that loves Christmas. There's something special in every room of the house.
One of the new strands of lights is in the playroom, strung around the chandelier with snowflakes.
The new little tree (aka "Oliver's tree") has the ornaments and tree skirt I made. Oliver likes to add his favorite ornaments from the big tree to this one, and sometimes his toys. You have no idea how many little matchbox cars are stuffed between those branches.
To keep our three mini trees child-safe (no small breakable or swallowable ornaments!) we wrapped them with red tinsel and ribbons.
Oliver's room has white lights strung up and its so pretty at night!
On Oliver's door we have a bag hanging for "Notes from the North Pole" from his Elf on a Shelf. At this age he gets treats (like a mini candy cane) from Buddy when he's especially good. When he's older he can get notes from Santa and other fun things.
I have a little tin box and inside I keep a piece of every Christmas tree we've had for several years.