Monday, December 29, 2008

One of many gifts

A beautiful book titled simplyWisdom is one of the amazing gifts that entered our household this Christmas. On the website link, you will find some fascinating snippits in a video format. Check it out if you are so inclined and enjoy the wisdom these people share. I know I will treasure this work.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours! Wishing you all the joys of the season!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Day 24: Read "The Night Before Christmas"

Over the years, we've collected several versions of this story, including the Cajun, Redneck, and now Aussie tales. For Christmas Eve, we read the classic. I hope in the future we'll spend the greater part of December reading through "A Christmas Carol" as a family, but right now that's a bit much for our girls. "The Night Before Christmas" is just our speed, and it's always a joy.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Day 23: Welcome our guests!

Markus's mother and sister arrive today to spend the holiday and ring in the new year far away from the German wintry rain and cold. Having recently been all too familiar with European winter, I certainly appreciate their timing! It will be wonderful to have our first visitors over our first Christmas in the new place. It doesn't feel like Christmas since we're not used to celebrating it in the summertime, but it is beautiful and always a good time to see family!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Aussie Love Poem

As part of my ongoing multicultural and local lingo education, this poem was forwarded to me by my gorgeous red-haired girlfriend from Sydney. She has two busy little boys, each of whom she calls "mistah."

Aussie Love Poem

Of course I love ya darling
You're a bloody top notch bird
And when I say you're gorgeous
I mean every single word
So ya bum is on the big side
I don't mind a bit of flab
It means that when I'm ready
There's somethin there to grab
So your belly isn't flat no more
I tell ya, I don't care
So long as when I cuddle ya
I can get my arms round there
No Sheila who is your age
Has nice round perky breasts
They just gave in to gravity
But I know ya did ya best
I'm tellin ya the truth now
I never tell ya lies
I think its very sexy
That you've got dimples on ya thighs
I swear on me nanna's grave now
The moment that we met
I thought u was as good as
I was ever gonna get
No matter wot u look like
I'll always love ya dear
Now shut up while the footy's on
And fetch another beer.

Weekly Video Post

Observe the level of wild hysteria and amusement. Can't you tell it's bedtime?

Happiness is...

...making time for simple pleasures.

...a muffin as big as your face.

...bouncing on a trampoline in a "princess dress".

...protecting that adorable noggin.

...father-daughter time.

May the holiday season bring you and yours much happiness and joy!

Day 22: Bake Christmas cookies.

I've been putting this off, because cookies baked are cookies eaten. Instantly (usually by me when no one is watching). Markus's mother and sister will be arriving tomorrow for their 3 week Christmas visit, so it seemed time to have some cookies in the house! Watch for recipe links to show up in the sidebar once the baking slows. Tomorrow will be all about the decorating!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Day 21: Have a solstice feast.

Summer solstice in December is new to us, but we celebrated in style.
Menu: maple-thyme glazed salmon, snow peas in lemon butter, corn on the cob, black & white quinoa, Margaret River white wine. And iced tea, of course.
Ellie ate some leftover pasta. Whatcha gonna do?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Day 20: Have a picnic dinner.

We are nowhere near the championship picnic level inherent to locals, but we do enjoy meals outside. People here take it so seriously! They picnic ALL DAY. As Markus says, we wouldn't be surprised to see them erect a huge white tent with Persian carpets inside. This is serious business. Our family picnics, on the other hand, involve lots of last minute scrambling to assemble assorted foods the kids will eat and the adults should eat, plus drinks. We keep the blanket and two chairs in the car; that's about as pro as we go. Still, you can't beat a picnic in this glorious weather! I know it's bad for the farmers, but I am enjoying this extended spring so much!

Friday, December 19, 2008

The real purpose of Lamaze

We've all seen it in the movies. A woman goes into labor and instantly starts huffing and puffing like the Big Bad Wolf, doing her best at Hollywood Lamaze breathing. Deep, regular breathing, we are told, will help women cope with labor, meaning it makes the pain less, right? Speaking as a woman who has gone the natural birth route, let me clear that up: it doesn't. What it DOES do is make you breathe, a highly underrated activity. Focused regular breathing can help keep stress levels down or reduce stress further. When in pain, focused breathing has many benefits. It prevents holding your breath or hyperventilating, both of which reduce oxygen in your system and increase stress considerably. It also has the marvelous, untold benefit of keeping you from screaming or swearing or both. All of these benefits will come in handy again, say sometime when you are reaching into the fridge with a baby on one hip and an expectant child at your leg and you knock a glass bowl out and onto your big toe, where the bowl promptly breaks and leaves your toe (and thus the rest of you) in momentary white-hot, throbbing agony.
Lamaze: learn it for life.

Day 19: Invite friends for a Christmas tea party.

This is another activity that was heavily adapted as the reality of busy parent schedules factored in. Last week, two of Ellie's friends came over to decorate Christmas ornaments and to jump on the trampoline until they were all exhausted. Today, we met up with another of Ellie's friends at a huge indoor playground, where they ran around like monkeys and played to their hearts' content. Maybe next year we'll get to the tea party with Christmas cookies, but this year the alternatives were just as fun!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Day 18: Purchase a gift for charity.

Two weekends ago as I worked at the toy library, I was chatting with my co-worker about the gorgeous extended spring we've had. He is from Nepal, but he has been living here for the past 3 years. He was commenting that the weather is most unusual for this time of year. I responded with how much I am enjoying it, especially given the fact that our A/C is still not installed (should have been done a month ago) and the children don't sleep well in the heat. He said, "Yes, it is nice for us, but what about the farmers? How will this weather impact the growing of food?" This simple, casual exchange reminded me once again of the bounty of our blessings. Nepal is filled with families who rely on subsistence farming for survival. I have never had to worry about food supply; he has. How easy it is to take for granted one of the greatest blessings of all!

As our children grow older, I hope they will participate in the annual selection of a charity. This year, given her joy at the Cuddly Animal Farm, I thought Ellie would like selecting a gift from Heifer International. In a snippit from their website, "In FY2007, Heifer had 867 active projects in 53 countries/provinces and 28 U.S. states. Heifer projects around the world help families achieve self-reliance through the gift of livestock and training. Gifts are passed from recipient to recipient until entire communities are transformed." For as little as $20, you can give a gift of a flock of chicks, ducks or geese...and it goes up from there. Selecting animals with older kids can be a lot of fun and a great learning experience, weighing up the potential benefits for the recipient (a sheep and a goat cost the same, so what is the real difference for the community that receives it?). This allows children to participate in charitable giving in a way that is tangible and has meaning for them. It is my hope that my children will grow to understand how rich our lives truly are and how blessed we can be to share our resources and our talents to make even the smallest difference in the world.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Surfing for Sanity

I am sitting here surfing the internet, mostly looking at other people's wondrous creativity, in hopes to stave off the inevitable descent into madness that accompanies having a mini-adult in the house. Oh my goodness. When the Terrible 2s started at 18 months, I was relieved, thinking we'd be out of the woods earlier too. Hardy har har. Here we are past 39 months (that's nearly 2 years later!), and the woods are closing in around me, people! She has not outgrown the tantrums. Instead, she has refined and enhanced them to take fit-throwing to a whole new level of insanity-inducing mania. The thing is, to the untrained eye, she is still WORLDS ahead of most kiddies her age. Most parents who've been through this age (or are going through it now) would wonder why I'm so fussed (unless they are party to the actual fit). You see, typical toddler/preschooler behavior has never been her thing. She knows EXACTLY what buttons of mine she wants to push, and she knows EXACTLY how to push them. I like to say that you always wish for your children to be very smart until they are. I was done for by the time she turned 2.

Anyway, today I thought I'd share some of the sites I browse. I often find great sites linked through other people's blogs, so maybe there will be something here for you too.

Geninne's Art Blog. I don't remember how I discovered this blog or her work, but I enjoy it so much! I have two prints from her etsy shop, and even the bubble-wrap mailer she sent them in was pretty. Now and then, she posts pictures of her house, and everything is clean and inspired and lovely. My house is currently buried in kiddie mess and I want to hide from it under the bed, so hers is particularly appealing!

lovelydesign. I've been following her personal blog for a while now. I found it through her work. She made a beautiful address file from assorted found papers that was so simple and beautiful that I tracked her down online...only to find she wasn't making them anymore. I did snag one of her journey books, and when I opened it up, it is so lovely that I'm reluctant to use it. A handmade work of art! Her blog has led me to discover other artists I enjoy, and my personal space is filling up with small art that gives me joy!

SouleMama. I seem unable to resist this blog despite the fact that it makes me feel inadequate. She has just home-birthed baby #4 (part of the draw for me, I know...I love little babies and pregnant bellies!), home-schools the other 3, creates constantly, runs a small non-profit and has published a book with another due out soon. How are these things possible? What hours in the day I am failing to utilize? At any rate, she takes lovely photos of her life and family, and I do enjoy browsing her site. I discovered her blog after buying her book, Creative Family, and the book is well worth owning if you parent littles.

The Pioneer Woman. She just makes me laugh! We are girlfriends separated by half a globe who have never met, but she is a girlfriend nonetheless! She also parents and homeschools four kids, but her life seems much closer to my reality and her humor is infectious.

dooce. Sometimes she's too over-the-top for me, but on my rough days, I appreciate her bluntness and sarcasm.

small notebook. After our most recent move, the staggering amount of STUFF we own hit me full force. Being raised by a pack-rat (and what's worse, a MILITARY pack-rat wherein the philosophy is if one is good, four is better), I have been hoarding for years. The paper chain Ellie and I made for our Christmas tree is from pre-cut scraps that I saved from a project I made during my teaching job EIGHT YEARS AGO. We're talking about scraps of paper, people. That should give you an idea of how scary the stuff pile is over here. I enjoy this woman's blog because she has said no thank you to all of that and lives small with her husband and young daughter. While I cannot reach where she is, I am inspired by it and often enjoy her posts.

Quadville. Just when I think I can't take it anymore, I read this and relax. She has FOUR. If she can survive, I can too.

And I just found this last one for Quinn. You're often stuck out here in Mama-Land when you check this blog, but I appreciate you checking on in me anyway! I do still have many many interests that I don't choose to write about, and it's nice to know my good friends trust I'm still in here somewhere.

Day 17: Make Christmas placemats.

Okay, so this wasn't the scheduled activity, but it was so fun that we wanted to share! I remembered how much I enjoyed weaving when I was a child, so I dug out my massive pile o' felt and did the pre-cutting. Ellie decided managing the strips to be woven was more her speed (she is, after all, CEO), so she handled the color order and I did the manual labor. Should be really cute on Christmas Eve when we have our fancy meal!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Lounging beside the Swan River

Last week, we went to one of our favorite spots along the Swan River to take our family Christmas photo. There is a beautiful old tree there with a massive above-ground root system that made a perfect sitting place. It took about 10 tries, but we got one we could use. Too bad I tipped the camera as a ran back into place after setting the timer on this attempt; Ellie's expression is priceless (and sums up her current enthusiasm for all things water-related).

This spot is close to our house in an upscale area that could either be Mosman Park or Peppermint Grove (we hear people call it both, so I'm guessing it's somewhere along the border between the towns). Whichever it is, we like it! It's wind-sheltered and shady, and there's plenty of space to play in the grass and the sand. In the afternoons, the shade extends into the water, which is extra-nice.

For almost two years now, Ellie has had a great affinity for sticks. Sticks in the sand is even better than sticks in the grass, so she's happy at the river even when she stays dry (or tries to). The other day, she couldn't resist attempts at spear-fishing one of the unidentified fish that swims close to the water's edge. Each time she squatted down, she dipped her skirt in the river...but who cares about such things when there are fish to be captured?

And let's not forget to style Mama's hair. Those gentle breezes don't do a thing for you, and we could all use a little help from a personal stylist, right? Stephanie doesn't look too sure about this, but Ellie is confident as ever.

Photo seekers

As a segue from the advent activities, I'd like to talk about my photos for a minute. There are LOTS of photos on this blog. I am a photographer by hobby. I am not professional by any stretch of the imagination, and since the birth of our first child, I have only shot using automatic features. I don't know how to use Photoshop, so what you see is what I saw. That being said, these photos of mine seem quite popular, and I'm so happy you like them! I'm flattered and thrilled that so many people in so many places find them appealing! I do ask, however, that you please do not steal them. I have a little copyright blurb on the sidebar in case you missed it, but even if I didn't, these photos were taken by me and I hope you will ask permission before you choose to use them in any way. If you are interested in purchasing a print, please shoot me an email at blitzpampers at gmail dot com describing which photos you would like, and we'll see what we can do. Selling my images is a new area for me, but I would be happy and quite excited to do so if there is a demand. In the meantime, please enjoy looking to your heart's content! I place them here with that hope in mind.
Now back to our regularly scheduled programming...
Best wishes for a happy holiday season!

Day 16: Go for a beach walk after dinner.

Our household is fairly routine-oriented, especially in the evenings. I know everyone has different opinions about family routines, but they work for us. Knowing what will come next because that's always what comes next makes life easier around here, and we're all for that! This made the beach walk after dinner extra-special. The Fremantle Doctor was a-blowin' strongly, but we still enjoyed the fresh air and the evening sun. The wind helped contain Ellie's usual enthusiasm for stripping naked and running into the surf, which was probably a good thing given her small case of the sniffles.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Day 15: Dress up in fancy clothes for dinner.

This one seemed easy enough! Ellie wore her princess dress all afternoon, so we thought we had day 15's activity in the bag. Think again. "We don't wear princess dresses at the table," we were informed by the CEO. Guess we missed that memo.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Day 14: Go out for ice cream.

Matilda Bay is an awesome spot for an ice cream. It's in a wind-sheltered bend along the Swan River with lots of shade trees, which is imperative on days like today. We got our first really hot day (35 C in the shade), so the ice cream "activity" was much appreciated by all!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Day 13: Eat something different for dinner.

Maybe this doesn't qualify as an activity in your house, but in ours...heck yes! We ate Indian food. Stephanie ate anything within reach. Ellie ate rice and naan. I say that counts.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Overheard in a cafe

"Mum, why do women have a boob crack?"

Day 12: Make Christmas ornaments.

We like this recipe for clay cookie ornaments from Feed Me I'm Yours by Vicki Lansky. The ornaments are white white white, which makes a good base for painting and they taste so salty and ick that the inedible part isn't hard to enforce.

Clay Cookie Ornaments
(Overnight Drying Method)

2 cups salt
2/3 cup water
1 cup (or more) cornstarch
1/2 cup cold water

Mix salt with 2/3 cup water and boil. Add cornstarch and remaining water. Stir. If mixture doesn't thicken, set back on stove. Sprinkle extra cornstarch on table and rolling pin. Roll out dough and cut with cookie cutters. Use a straw to make a hole at the top for hanging. Let dry. Use paint, glitter, and so on to decorate. These are not edible!

Picasso had his Blue Period. Ellie is having a Red Period. Last year's ornaments were mostly black, so eventually we may have a rainbow on the tree.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Day 11: Bake cookies together.

This is fun anytime! Our favorite recipe is peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips; we mixed in regular and mini M&m's instead. Yummy yummy yummy!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Day 10: Eat dinner by candlelight.

Ellie was dumbfounded by this one. Though we used to light dinner candles often, we haven't remembered to since the move. Ellie kept asking whose birthday it was and if we could blow the candles out.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Pitter-patter of little feet

Bedtime with Ellie has become a nightmare of late. Apparently, this is a common tale at this age. In a fit of madness, I typed in "defiant 3 year old" in google, and bedtime problems was the first thing to come back. Kids seem to use this as another area of control (the first one being food). I can't make her sleep, and she knows it! So these days, the bedtime routine is as it always was, except she keeps coming out of her room over and over and over again for up to 1.5 hours, and it makes us nuts! Not to mention the fact that she's getting less and less sleep this way. Nothing we do seems to make a dent, and it gets really old fighting her every night. She seems to thrive on it, but we find it a really unpleasant way to end the evening. It's extra hard because she's very smart and highly verbal, so we often make the mistake of expecting her to act older than she is. She is only 3, and it helps to try to remember that when trying not to rip one's hair out.
And then there are nights like last night, when all goes so well and peacefully. The bliss is tangible. No shouts. No debates. No repeat visits as we tidy the kitchen.

Forgive the exposure, but I had to take it quick and without flash so she wouldn't know we'd spotted her.
We had to hand it to her: excellent stealth and bonus marks for cute cheekiness. It made us giggle (behind our hands so she wouldn't see). She's only 3, and what a little cutie she can be.

Day 9: Set up Christmas tree.

Okay, so this isn't exactly what I had in mind for this day's activity, but that's how it worked out. When we took our scrawny $25 once-pre-lit-but-non-working-lights-cut-off-by-Mimi-2-Christmases-ago tree out of the box last night, it stank a musty packed-away stank and required airing. The table outside seemed the best out of the way option. Hopefully, we can bring it in and set it up properly tonight.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Day 8: Eat breakfast for dinner.

Ooooo...I love this one!
Extra bonus feature: Ellie will happily eat pancakes anytime. Not true for most dinner foods.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Career change

Once upon a time, I was a teacher in a private school. I loved teaching, but I hated almost everything else about my job. I was burned enough by the experience to pursue a Masters degree in a totally different area--International Development--which I also found fascinating. It opened up the world to me in a way I'd always wanted to understand but couldn't or didn't or wouldn't without that study. For this, I am grateful, but it's unlikely that I will be working in that field. To do so would either mean working directly in a developing country (not practical for our family) or working in a developed country for a major international organization (which I know I would hate). I'm just not cut out to be one of a million in a huge bureaucracy. Know thyself, and I know that's not me. But what is? Good question! People who know me well insist that I am a teacher, despite my reservations. I am and have always been passionate about education, and I don't see that changing. But I cannot work in another environment like the place I started. It was profoundly unhealthy for me and is fodder for bad dreams to this day (I'm not kidding). Also, my reservations about teaching kept me from signing up for education certification in time while at university (I decided to go for it about one week after the deadline), so I'll need to go back to school whatever I choose to do. This makes me look at all options, and lately the gleaming shining new subject of interest has been midwifery.

After Stephanie's beautiful home birth, I felt so compelled to look into midwifery. When I thought about med school years ago, I wanted to be an OB, so midwifery isn't a new interest...just a renewed and attainable interest sparked by an incredible personal experience. In The Netherlands, midwives are not nurses (like nurse-midwives in the States), which was most appealing because I have no interest in becoming a nurse (and would be beaten down by my experienced nurse mother if I did). Lo and behold, there is a university here that trains direct entry midwives: no nursing! Hooray! I know I'd have to retrain in the States if we moved there, but think of all I'd learn! So fascinating! Plus, combine that with my Masters degree and think of the possibilities for development work! It's a full-time, three year program, which means I would need to get started next term to finish before we have to move again. So despite the fact that I had planned to be a full-time mom until my baby was in school, I called them up today: Permanent residents only.
Alas. I am oh-so-sad.

But it's just as well. I do currently have my dream job (though it's not nearly as easy as the dream itself), and I'll just have to keep searching for the best choice of what's next. I'm pretty sure it will be education, but what age? Kidlets? Preteens? Teens? Adults? What subject? So many possibilities! Having too many interests makes life interesting, but it does complicate decision-making. Suggestions? Comments?

Day 7: Enjoy a family outing.

As Ellie has been asking about the bunnies every day since our last visit, today's activity was a no-brainer: back to the Cuddly Animal Farm! I know you've seen the video, so you know what's there but look at this:

And if that isn't the most darling thing you've seen this week, look at this one:

Baby Stephanie was eager to get in on the action:

When we pulled up today, the parking lot was filled to capacity and there were several large groups having birthday parties or family picnics there. The feeling of trepidation returned, but Ellie insisted we "just try". So happy we did! It is sooo sweet watching Ellie be so tender with baby animals. I'm a bit mad about baby animals myself...

I'm thinking we'll need to raise chickens at some point. Just so I can hold the chicks.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Day 6: Sing a Christmas song together.

Or not.
In the words of the CEO, "Um...I think not. How about 'American Pear' [Prayer] or 'Walking on Sunshine'?"
She also really enjoys singing "Ellie feeds the bunnies" (otherwise known as "Ordinary Miracle", the song I soundtracked to our animal farm video). "Ordinary Miracle" could be a Christmas song, I think. It fits the feel of the season, if not the traditional lyrics.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Day 5: Set out shoes for Saint Nicholas.

Being a multi-cultural family gives us the benefit of extended Christmas traditions. December 5th is Saint Nicholas's Day. You may remember last year reading about the arrival of Sinterklaus in Scheveningen and the subsequent parade through The Hague. In Germany, Saint Nicholas comes during the night. That evening, children set out a boot (Nikolaus-Stiefel), often containing a carrot or other treat for his horse. If the child has been good, Saint Nicholas will fill the boot with treats (fruits, nuts, candies and/or small gifts). If the child hasn't been so good, the child will find a twig or coal instead. This will be our first year observing Saint Nicholas's Day, but I know it's a tradition we plan to keep.

Day 4: Make Advent Calendar.

Honesty time. I've been making these activities up as we go along, and yesterday I just plain forgot to create something. Oh my, what is the world coming to? Well, obviously we can't have that! So I finally finished the advent calendar (origami cups) and put a different activity in each spot. Since we have an eager explorer with a bloodhound's instinct for treats, I will put a little treat in each cup just before we check that day's activity (planning on using mini-M&Ms). From here on out, activities are set! Away we go!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Day 3: Make Christmas decorations.

I think this one will be ongoing for us, as we endeavor to keep a certain 3 year old engaged and challenged. She is so proud of her crafting, and we all enjoy the results!

Sisters at tea (narrated by baby Stephanie)

Can you believe the service around here? S-L-O-W.

What am I missing?

Testing my other options...

Oh, I'll just do it myself.

At last!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Day 2: Take photos of each other.

This is a bit of a cheater post, since these photos were taken over the past week when Markus holidayed with us at home to burn off some of his backlogged vacation time. If I were to post about today's real advent calendar activity, it would be "make activity advent calendar" since I'm running behind this holiday season...but I don't want to admit that so we're going with a cheater post, yes? By the way, the advent calendar activity suggestions and the Christmas card exchange came from Amber at kids craft weekly. If you are a mom of littles or an elementary school teacher like our newfound babysitter, you're bound to enjoy her weekly newsletters. Our little CEO approves!

Thanks also to gail for teaching me about Picnik, the site where I built the photo collage above. I have pretty much followed gail's lead with anything technology-wise (including starting this blog), and I appreciate her willingness to be my teacher.

Monday, December 01, 2008


Today as we were driving to the post office, I spied an old man walking to his car. He still had a fine head of white hair and was wearing a white-striped navy polo shirt, khaki shorts, a leather belt, white athletic socks and sneakers--exactly what my dad liked to wear...and in the flash of the first instant of seeing him, I thought it would be exactly how my dad would look in another 20 years. Then the next flash was the memory that my father died of colon cancer two and a half years ago. It's been two and a half years, but seeing that old man today filled my chest with suffocating grief that just won't go away. I kept driving, although I wanted to pull over and break down. I smile for the girls, but right now they are napping and I'm beside myself. It's awful how the loss of a loved one just blindsides you sometimes. His birthday was last week, and he would have been 57. I tried to ignore it, but there it was. And then there he was today, as an old man that I will never see. I know it's awful to post this and spread the grief around, but I don't know what else to do. Everyone I know is either at work or asleep (middle of the night in the US now) or too little to be burdened with my grief, and I had to try to relieve it somehow.
I am just so sorry.

Day 1: Make Christmas cards.

We're finding it hard to get into the holiday spirit here, as it's my first December in the summertime. It just doesn't feel like Christmas, and I'm lagging behind in my usual fever for Christmas cards. I am a huge fan of occasion cards (birthday, anniversary, holiday), but getting started this year has been hard. Luckily, I imposed an external deadline on myself that helped get the juices flowing. We signed up for a Christmas card swap for Ellie. She makes and sends 10 cards to 10 children (assigned by the swap organizers), and she will receive 10 cards from 10 different children. The only conditions are that the child has to make/decorate the card and the cards have to be mailed the first week of December so everyone will receive their cards on time. Ellie's cards will go to Missouri, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Texas, Nevada, Michigan, Australia, and Japan. We can't wait to see where the incoming cards were postmarked!

Today was a great day to make the cards for two reasons. One, we have met a wonderful babysitter, and we asked her to come a few times during the day while I'm home so Ellie and Stephanie can get comfortable with her; today was the first day. She is in university to become an elementary school teacher, and she could not have been more enthusiastic about helping Ellie make her cards! Two, we have made a family activity advent calendar, and today's activity was (as in the title) "Make Christmas cards". Watch for additional advent calendar activity posts (hopefully one per day if I can be organized enough!) mixed in with regular-style posting for this month.

Without further ado, I present Ellie's cards. Notice the minimalist, modernist approach interspersed with forceful application of glitter glue. I will disclose that she did not cut the shapes herself (though she tried!); however, we felt the shapes still fit the criteria for the project as the shape and color was dictated by Mademoiselle Artiste.

Now I'm off to attempt to make the rest of our cards. I tried to commission more by Ellie, but after 10 cards, her creative juices were fully tapped and she moved on to dancing ballet around the living room. Maybe I should try that too...


When I looked through my address book and counted up for Christmas cards, I came to the sudden and marvelous conclusion that we needed to make lino-cut cards this year. Forget the fact that neither of us has done lino cutting since grade school! Supplies were bought, lino was cut down to size Only black printing ink available. What to make? While fiddling with non-traditional designs, I came up with the Australian Magpie for the obvious reasons of black and white contrast, it's something from here, and this place is new this year. Riding on the wave of Ellie's card creations, we got down to business once the kids were in bed, and ya know what? I'd forgotten how much I enjoy printing! Although the block is the same, each print is different. Most are imperfect (uneven ink, lines down the middle...), but that's the nature of the beast! I say let's embrace imperfection and enjoy the handmade quality! At least, I ask you to keep that in mind if you receive one of the funky ones. Happy Holidays!