Friday, November 30, 2012

Day 8: Letters to Santa

I did not sleep well last night. I have a hard time falling asleep as it is, but when you throw in coughing fits and worrying about Clyde. It didn't go so well. The good news is that we took the kids to the doctor and no strep! Yay!!!

Why was I worrying about Clyde? Well, I wasn't sure he was going to stay in place. Just as I was about to doze off, I heard a noise. Arrrggghhh!!! It didn't seem loud enough to be Clyde. But I had to make sure. I didn't want the kids waking up and finding Clyde face down on the floor! So, I crawled out of bed and went to go see. The noise wasn't Clyde, but it was part of the set up. I had to add more tape. I also decided to add some tape to Clyde's bum. He was hanging on a nail and I really didn't think he'd stay by himself.

Good news! He stayed!

Our dear Clyde was up on the back of the kitchen cabinet facing the dining room. 

He left a note telling the kids to write a letter to Santa. "But they already wrote out their Christmas lists." Yes, but those weren't for Santa. They were for our Christmas tree. They have to make sure Santa gets their lists, too. :)

I've had these cute over-sized postcards from Macy's for a while. Like, two years! It was time to use them.

Clyde painted some clothespins. Now, they are all nicely striped like candy canes! It was the clothespins that caused the mysterious noise. They were too heavy for just a single piece of tape. Or even two pieces of tape. I had to use extra in a few different places. Clyde also used my cute Santa belt ribbon that I bought last year. He is a very resourceful elf. :)

As I lay awake last night, I thought Clyde looked too Jesus-like in his original position. Since I clipped the string holding his hands together, his arms stick out to the sides. I knew I needed to change his arm position somehow. And I wanted to link his position with the task in some way. I realized adding a pencil would solve both problems. I knew I had some Christmas themed pencils from Dollar Tree in my stash somewhere. So, I crawled out of bed, again. Went into the garage and dug out a pencil for Clyde and three more for the kids. 

By the way, mason jars are great for soooo many things. I bought a dozen two summers ago, because I was thinking of trying to make jam. That never happened. But I have used them in all sorts of way to decorate. I don't care if you hate jam. Go buy some mason jars. They are super useful! I'm going to store marshmallows in them when I set up a hot chocolate station. They won't get all hard. And will look cute, too!

After the arm-incident, I am definitely leaning towards hacking our elf. There is a great tutorial on how to do it on  Dirty Diaper Laundry. I'm not sure about the wire part, but I think I definitely need to do the velcro part.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Review: Days 1-7

I'm a perfectionist. Sorta! It turns on and off. The perfectionist switch flipped on for Elf on the Shelf for this year. So I worked and worked to plan out a great Elf on the Shelf schedule for this year. The first week didn't quite work out the way I planned, but that's okay. I figured out solutions to the problems that popped up and will be even better prepared for next year. You can download my original schedule. Or just look at what actually happened this week.

Here's a quick recap of the first week:

Day 1: Clyde's arrival!

(Full post for Day 1.)

He showed on on our dining room light, because it's a tradition for us.
And he brought us a North Pole Breakfast! :)

Day 2: Making Ornaments

(Full post for Day 2.)

Clyde showed up in our bookcase with glass doors, holding an ornament that he made with his Christmas list inside.
He left all the supplies we needed to make our own.

Day 3: Hiking through the candy cane forest

(Full post for Day 3.)

Clyde appeared wearing his backpack, hanging among the candy canes.

He told us to go on a hike and collect pine cones.

Day 4: Bird Feeders

(Full post for Day 4.)

Silly Clyde was making a "seed angel".
Seeds to make bird feeders with the pine cones from yesterday's hike. Using peanut butter, of course.

Day 5: Popsicle stick crafts

(Full post for Day 5.)

The kids found Clyde on the Christmas Tree, he was holding a cute, little snowman he had made by painting a jumbo popsicle stick.

We had a great time creating our own versions, (with all the supplies he left).

Day 6: Going to the park

(Full post for Day 6.)

The kids were sick. So, Clyde showed up sick, too.
He left a note telling the kids to get some fresh air at the park. They did! :) they also slept quite well that night.

Day 7: Candyland

(Full post fro Day 7.)

Classic Elf situation: Candyland. It was extra special, because, since moving, our games were still in boxes in the garage.
Clyde got some other games out for the kids to play, too. Monopoly: Star Wars Edition was super popular.

That's week one. Hopefully, we'll all feel better this next week and Clyde's elf shenanigans will go off without a hitch!

Day 7: Candyland

The kids are still home sick. And now I feel sick, too. But Clyde is all better and up to his fun tricks! According to the schedule, he was supposed to be knitting a scarf. That's all ready. (I used round toothpicks and embroidery floss. The little toothpicks just looked like the perfect double-pointed knitting needles to me!) But the activity to go along with it was for the kids to donate scarves to a charity. They have a giving tree at their school that I had planned for them to take a bunch of scarves I had whipped up to clear out some of my stash. (Hello, My name is Kristin and I am a yarn hoarder.)

But since the kids are still at home sick, they can't put scarves on the giving tree at school. They also need something to do to pass the time at home. So, I went with the classic elf game set up, Candyland! Almost every Elf on the Shelf idea list has this idea on it, so I don't know who to give the credit to.

Clyde went through some of the boxes in our garage to find Candyland and he brought some friends he found in the boxes with him. He also brought out Monopoly: Star Wars Edition and Battleship so the kids could play.

 The kids were very happy to have some of their games brought out. It's hard, when you move, to decided what to unpack and when. the kids have been asking for more stuff to get unpacked. So Clyde was on it! The scarf idea will just get shuffled to another day.

The clever, little elf set up his game on the shelf under the coffee table. And the kids set up their game on top of the coffee table. The kids spent quite a bit of time with their new/old game!

And just for fun, here's some pictures from the park yesterday:

Goof balls!

We have an appointment tomorrow morning at the pediatrician's office to check for strep. Hopefully, this will all pass soon and we can get back to normal!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Day 6: Going to the park

Now, all three kids are home sick! But it's nice outside and and the park is just down the street. So, at some point today, we'll all get dressed and get some fresh air. Clyde was going to be hanging from a homemade tire swing. A toy-tire swing that is! Hanging from the ceiling by gray striped baker's twine. Because I love baker's twine and will find any reason to use it. :) I want to eventually have it in every color!

Anyways, since the kids are sick, Clyde decided to be sympathetic and crashed out on Matthew's little couch.

He's got a little medicine cup and some cough drops. And a band-aid. "Why a band-aid?" Why not? :) He's on a pillow of cotton balls and has a kleenex blanket. I hope Clyde gets better soon. And I definitely hope the kids get better soon!

They really enjoyed making the popsicle stick ornaments and kept making more. They want to make even more today!

And some random good news: Last year, I got the cutest gingerbread chalets from Trader Joe's. But there isn't a Trader Joe's in Flagstaff. The closest one is in Prescott. Which isn't close at all! :( Luckily, hubby had to go to Phoenix for work and is going to stop by TJs and is going to get them!!! Yay!!!! Plus, I asked him to get a bunch of extra TJs paper bags. Their Christmas ones are amazing! The front and back are printed with gift tags and the sides are printed with patterned strips to make a cute paper chain.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Day 5: Popsicle stick crafts

Day 5: Popsicle stick sleds ornaments.

It's difficult to do the prep work for a surprise craft for the kids while they are at school, if they don't actually go to school. Two were home sick yesterday and are home sick, again, today. I had planned to pre-make some popsicle stick sleds like these ones I found at tidbits. But I didn't get the chance. I had finally found some popsicle sticks at WalMart. (They had restocked, because I was there the other day and no luck!) I had to choose between buying a box of 1000 regular sized ones or a bag of 75 jumbo ones. I decided to get the jumbo ones. For two reasons: #1 What the heck am I going to do with 1000 popsicle sticks?! #2 The jumbo ones were half the price. Not per unit, obviously, but 75 will still last me quite a while!

So, there I was last night, wondering what am I going to do now? I decided to consult my best friend, Google. She's always there for me. :) I googled "popsicle stick sled ornaments" to see if it was possible to still get it done or if the kids could do it on their own and I found this great, simple idea. Popsicle stick ornaments! No sleds, just turn the sticks into cute ornaments with paint and scraps! And, it was a perfect craft for jumbo sized popsicle sticks. I already had brand new craft paint for when we're going to paint Christmas bird houses. And googly eyes, because who doesn't have googly eyes! I painted a quick example, I mean Clyde made one really quick to have in the morning. And while it dried, he crocheted a simple scarf to finish it off. He is such a talented elf!

He "hid" on the tree, because where else would you hide with an ornament craft? But he left all the supplies for the kids on the dining room table.

The kids were very excited to get to work. We spread out some newspaper. Okay, it was a Best Buy flier, but it did the trick! Those Black Friday/Cyber Monday adds are thick! Not joking, it was 40 pages long! They were half -pages, but still!


 Sick kid bed head. Waiting for the paint to dry.

Clyde left 3 popsicle sticks for each kid. They made a snowman one first. I had the idea of making an elf one, too. A few tips: I used a toothpick to apply the glue for the googly eyes. I didn't have brown paint for the elf's hair, so I mixed a little orange with a little green and added one drop of red. It was the perfect brown! I also used a toothpick for the thin, white stripe on the gift the elf is holding. And we used a sharpie for the smile on the snowman and the elf. Also for the black line creating the split between the elf legs.

By the way, we didn't add a string to our popsicle stick ornaments. We just leaned them against some branches. It worked just fine! But you could easily add a piece of yarn if you wanted to.

Matthew's Snowman
Katie's snowman. It's a girl. See the lips. :)
Their cool mom might crochet some scarves for the little snowmen. But they look good without one, too. 
If you're a little sick of crafts, don't worry. Tomorrow's activity is going to play at the park. We have a great park less than a 1/2 mile away, but we don't go very often. The kids will be very happy that Clyde says we have to go to the park. That way, I can't say no. :)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Day 4: Bird Feeders

Last night, as I went to move Clyde, I found the saddest little note. Our middle child, Katie, has been sick the last two days and couldn't go on the hike to collect pine cones yesterday. She was disappointed that she couldn't participate and left Clyde this little note:

"Dear Clyde, for tomorrow can you think of something I can do and I am sick. <3 Katie"

Luckily, the preplanned idea for today was something sick-child friendly. :)

And that's doubly true, because our youngest, Matthew, woke up with a fever this morning. So, today, I am home with two sickies.

Clyde showed up this morning making a "seed" angel.

I've seen the snow angel in flour or powdered sugar, or even rice, idea everywhere! But I wanted it to be related to an activity somehow and not just a mess on my counter. I came up with the "seed angel" idea. The pine cones, collected on the hike yesterday, can be used to make simple bird feeders.

Clyde left us all the supplies and a little note to tell us what to do.

Mini sunflowers grow wild everywhere around here. And we passed several dead and dried ones on our hike. I happened to point them out to the kids. :) They are very excited to make some bird feeders to help out the little birds now that the flowers have all died. :)

(Plus, Hubby got the exact tree I wanted last night, on sale! So we'll be putting our tree up today!)

Tomorrow: Popsicle stick sleds. Now, if I could just find some popsicle sticks! Seriously! I been to three stores already! No luck!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Day 3: Hiking through the candy cane forest

Clyde is quite the silly elf! He showed up this morning with a backpack on, hanging from some ribbon, next to several hanging candy canes.

He tied up some ribbon on my cupboard doors. Ran it through the straps of his backpack and hung several candy canes along it.

Okay, okay. Maybe he had some help. Like, where did he get that adorable backpack?

I crocheted a simple backpack for him a few days ago. But that's as far as I got as to where and how I was going to pose him for today. Then, last night, as I was writing out his note telling us to go on a hike today, I included a line about how he loves to hike through the candy cane forest. ("Elf", anyone?)

And I was inspired! I have a ton of candy canes that I store to decorate the tree with each year. I thought, "I could make some sort of candy cane forest for him to be in!" If I had thought of this idea before 1 am the night of, I would have made it much better. Here's how: get a piece of floral foam from the Dollar Tree. Blanket it with fake snow. Stick a bunch of candy canes in it. And then pose your elf among the candy cane forest!  I'm definitely doing that next year!

Posing your elf can be a problem. His/her legs are not made to stand on. They are really made for sitting. But if you lean the body just right, your elf can appear to be standing. That's why I went with the ribbon last night. Your elf can appear to be doing lots of things if he is held up by string. Some people use a dab of hot glue to get their elf in position, but I don't want to potentially damage my elf. I had a hard enough time deciding to clip the little string that held his hands together! I can always use a little piece of double sided tape for when I need his hands back together.

Well, I've got to go now. We have a hike to go on! :)

The 2012 Elf on the Shelf Ideas and Activities.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Day 2: Making ornaments

Clyde showed up today with a cute little ornament in his lap. He wrote out his Christmas list and put it in the ornament.

I saw the idea of creating an ornament with your child's Christmas list on Pinterest. And I combined it with this idea of decorating a clear glass ornament. I love the Santa's Belly Ornaments from A Crafty B! They are so cute! I bought extra clear ornaments and I might make those, too.

Clyde's ornament says: "Dear Santa, For Christmas I would like, * a sled * elf-sized snowshoes *candy * an elf-pod <3 Clyde"

Clyde's handwriting is a little swirlier than mine. And he always writes his "y"s backwards. :)

He hid in our bookshelf with the glass doors. That made it easy for him to leave instructions for the kids to make their own.

(The kids left him a note yesterday thanking him for the donuts. They gave him some pennies to show their gratefulness. I told them that elves don't need money, but they wanted to do it anyways.)

Clyde was also so sweet as to leave three ornaments and three pieces of paper that are just right for the kids to make their lists on! Such a thoughtful, generous elf!

Even though our tree isn't up yet. This is still a good craft to do. It gets the kids to sit down and write out their Christmas lists, if they haven't already. And it's a cute memory to have in the future! Make sure to include the year on the list somewhere.

The kids were very excited to get started! They got out some paper to write out a practice list before they wrote their final choices on the special paper that Clyde left. It's just the "white" paper from a pack of construction paper, cut into smaller pieces. I cut the sides, but ripped the top and bottom edges to make them look more like parchment.

After the kids write out their lists, roll the paper around a pen or pencil to get the "scroll" look. I had to do it a couple times to get it tight enough. To get it in the ornament, I rolled it around the pen again and slid it off the pen into the ornament. It opens up inside the ornament.

Tomorrow, Day 3, is an easy one: Go on a hike and collect pine cones. The pine cones are for Day 4: Make bird feeders.

Merry Christmas!!!

UPDATE: Here are the finished ornaments! I think they turned out beautifully! I love this new tradition and I think it will be a treasured memory when the kids are older.

Clyde's ornament is the little one on the shelf in the background. We are getting our tree today and they will all go on it.

I happened to have this ribbon that I bought last year. It was so cute that I had to have it! I'm glad I waited until I had the perfect thing to use it for.

Make sure to write their name and the date at the bottom of the list. :)