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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Merry Mittens

Don't you hate how bare your house looks after you take down your Christmas decorations? That's what I had in mind when I came up with this craft - festive mittens that can stay up all winter long. It's super easy to do, and all my kids enjoyed putting it together. Yes, even the teen had a blast decorating her mitten.

What you need:

  • felt in different colours
  • glue
  • pen or marker
  • mini clothes pins (can be found at craft store)
  • scissors
  • decorations for your mittens (sequins, felt or paper scraps, glitter, etc.)
  • string

You can use the template below to trace a mitten shape onto the felt. It can be pasted into Word and re-sized. Mine was about 1/4 of the page. 

Once you have traced and cut your mitten, it should look something like this:

Next, decorate your mitten any way you like. I used a snowflake pattern for mine. The kids used sequins, glitter glue, felt scraps and fabric markers. You can also buy adhesive felt shapes at the craft store which are great for this kind of project. 

When your mittens are decorated, pin them onto the string with the mini clothes pins. I used a hemp string because I like the natural look, but you can use yarn, or ribbon or whatever you want. And that's it. Add as many mittens as you like to make the garland as long as you want and hang it up indoors over a door or window - somewhere it can be seen and admired.

While I was getting the things ready for this craft, I thought of some other ideas for felt mittens:
  • Make smaller mittens and glue a magnet to the back. Display on fridge or magnetic board.
  • Make two matching mittens and attach to the ends of a string. Display over doorknobs or coat hooks.
  • Attach a string and use as a Christmas tree decoration.
  • Sew two mittens together and stuff with potpourri. Attach a string and hang.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Goodbye, Dear Friend

I know I said I would post on a regular basis, and I have a lot I want to post about, but a sad event has taken the wind out of my sails. Two weeks ago we lost our good buddy, Bo, a beautiful little mongrel who loved nothing better than to play outside with the kids on cool evenings, then curl up with them for story time before bed. He was quiet and gentle, and we all miss him dearly.

We miss the soggy teddy bears left in the hallway, the dog biscuit crumbs on the couch, and the happy waggy tail that met us whenever we came home.

The kids are taking his loss especially hard. Why did he have to go? And they wondered, like little ones do, what will happen to Bo now that he is gone.

I explained the best I could that Bo was sick, and that his body was tired and it was time for him to leave. It's okay to be sad, but we should remember Bo and talk about all the fun we had with him. This lead to a discussion about all the things that Bo loved, and what he would do in dog heaven.

A friend introduced me to a wonderful book - Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant. In the past week, the kids have read it again and again.

"When dogs go to Heaven, they don't need wings, because God knows that dogs love running best."

Thus starts this colourful book about all the things dogs can do in Dog Heaven. There are biscuits as far as the eye can see, geese to tease, and soft clouds to curl up on. Every dog has a home, and they can stay as long as they want. They will greet old friends when they arrive.

I hope so, I really do.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Shower? More like Deluge

Ever get yourself into a situation that seems harmless at first, then spirals out of control? Yeah, I had one of those this week. But hey, it gave me something to blog about. How's that for ripping the silver lining right out of that cloud.

My situation started about six weeks ago. I found out some very good friends of ours are expecting. The Mommy-to-be's mother called me and asked if I would help host a baby shower. Sure, I'd love to help. Another friend, we'll call her Josie, would also be helping. She would get in contact with me to let me know the date.

Fast forward a couple of weeks. They'd picked the date, it would be October 29th. Could I find a venue and book it? Sure, I said, and even though it was Halloween weekend, and a lot of places were booked for parties, I managed to find a good place - close to Mommy-to-be's house, and near a grocery store in case we needed extra supplies.

Soon I got an email from Josie outlining all the things Mommy-to-be did not want at her shower. This included games she thought were tacky, food she didn't like, and decorations she didn't want. I replied and said no problem, but did either of them have any suggestions as to what we should have? No, whatever I went with would be fine.

At this point, the gentle whirlpool into which I had been sucked was starting to pull me in deeper. I could see it coming, but I couldn't get out. Swim, little Momster, swim!

Long story short, over the next week I put together party games and got the props ready, and I contacted Josie on several occasions so that we could go shopping for decorations and food. She couldn't make it on any of those days. I ended up going on my own. I knew that Mommy-to-be was planning a Sesame Street theme for the baby's room, so I ordered some cupcakes at the bakery near the venue that were decorated like Sesame Street characters. I asked Josie to pick them up on her way to the shower.

Finally the day arrived and Mommy-to-be's mother and I showed up early to decorate. We had everything ready to go when the guests arrived. Josie showed up 30 minutes late - with no cupcakes. She forgot. I ran next door and got the cupcakes, as well as some extra cheese and crackers that Mommy-to-be thought we might need. Everything else went perfectly. All that printing, cutting, shopping, cooking and decorating came together nicely.

At the end of the night, Mommy-to-be got up to make a little speech. She said how happy they were to share this joyous occasion with friends, thanked everyone for the gifts, and thanked her good friend Josie for all the work she did on the shower.

You've got to be *M#F@! kidding me!

So this is my question: How inappropriate would it be for me to send Josie a bill for half the shower expenses? Cast your vote in the poll on the left and help me resolve this situation in a way that is either socially graceful or will ensure that I will never be asked to do this again.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Monster Treat Bags

Here's a great little craft for even the least crafty of us, and fun for parents and kids to do together. These treat bags are good for Halloween parties (or any party) or for the special little halloweenies that come trick or treating. My demo monster is pretty basic, but you can get as fancy as you want.

What you need:

  • Paper lunch bags
  • cellophane (or a heavy plastic food wrap) 
  • Large googly eyes
  • tape
  • Small sharp scissors
  • glue
  • pencil

Lay the lunch bag out flat on the table and draw a monster mouth shape near the bottom. Make sure you leave some room at the edges (about 3/4 of an inch). Cut out the mouth with your scissors. Be careful not to cut the sides of the bag. It doesn't matter if the edges are ragged, this is a monster mouth after all. 

Once the mouth is open, cut a piece of cellophane big enough to cover the hole. Now you have to tape the cellophane inside the bag. This is the tricky part. Make sure all the edges are securely fastened so that the plastic doesn't come away from the mouth. One piece of tape on each side should do it.

Next come the eyes. You can add as many eyes as you want. If you have different sizes it's fun to mix it up. This is something the kids like to help with. Just don't stick the eyes too close to the top. You want to leave room to fold and close the bag.

The kids can also decorate the bag any way they want. Use crayons, markers, bits of paper, or get fancy with glitter and sequins. Whatever you like. When the monster is finished, fill it with treats. Fold down the top and secure with tape, or you can use a hole punch and tie the bag together with yarn or raffia.


Not only do the kids have a fun treat bag, but they get a preview of the treats inside. You can do mini versions of these with paper candy bags.

Just in case you don't want to fill them up with sugar, here are some ideas for non-candy treats:
  • small packs of crayons
  • mini stampers
  • stickers
  • juice boxes
  • glow sticks

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

School Picture Day

Today is picture day at school for my youngest kids. Also known as the day that mom and dad shell out big bucks for mug shots. That was the last few batches looked like - Jr. facing straight into the camera with a blank expression against a lovely bright rainbow background.

It reminds me very much of the elementary school photos of yore. Mom would get my brother and I all cleaned up. She would have my hair done just right, have my brother's red curls tamed as well as she could. We wore uniforms back then, so what could go wrong?

Well, let's see. There was the photo of me with my hair all sticking up on end, the tidy ponytail from that morning a sideways shrub on the side of my head. I had pulled my sweater off over my head. Who has time for zippers when you're six? Then there's the year I fell on the playground and had a nice fat lip for my photo. That was a keeper.

But the masterpiece belongs to my brother. I wish I had a copy to show you. I think it was his first grade photo. His hair is a mess, the collar of his uniform shirt is all twisted and sticking up on one side. He has chocolate milk all over his mouth and spilled down the front of his shirt. To finish the effect, he has a glazed duh look on his face. Best. Photo. Ever.

In the high school it's a different story. Those photos all turn out lovely. How could they not with the touch-ups, and fancy backgrounds and soft focus. They are really good photos, and my oldest daughter is usually really happy with them. I don't know. I sort of miss the days when her school pictures had messy hair and toothless smiles.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Return of the BLOG

This morning my five year old came to me, wide eyed, after her ten year old brother told her about the scary movie he watched last night.

"Really! What was it?" I asked.

She wiggled her fingers and said in her spookiest voice: "The Blog."*


After some technical difficulties, I'm finally back and better than ever. Okay, that last part is a fib. I'm actually less than ever. Let me explain.

When this blog was first conceived, there were three Momsters coming up with the ideas and stories. By the time the blog went live, we were down to two. Now, there is one lonely Momster holding down the fort. That would be me. So while I am hoping to post on a regular basis, it may not be as regular as it once was. And no more procrastinating.

The return of the Momster Blog comes at a good time. The best time of year. Autumn. Halloween. Apples and pumpkin spice. All the good stuff. I'm not generally a crafty person, but I've got some cute Halloween ideas to share. I'll get on that.

Right after my coffee.

* We watched the 1958 version of The Blob with our son. A good movie for older kids who want to be a little scared, but not too much. Although, I think The Blog has some frightening possibilities as well.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Paper Trail

Hello friends, remember me? I'm sorry it's been a while, but you see I've been busy trying to dig my way out from under the mountains of paper that are the back-to-school notes. I'm a little tired from the sorting, and a little cranky from the paper cuts, but my living room is starting to look less like a land fill and more like a stationary store.

Let's see now, I've got this pile here that is for elementary school newsletters (I got the "welcome back" newsletter not once, but three times). This heap over here is from the high school. They request our cooperation in saving paper by signing up for email updates. It took them five pages to say this. I have signed these forms for three years now and I have not yet received one email newsletter.

This stack over here is for registration forms. Careful, it topples easily. It took eight volunteers to get me out from under that pile on Monday. Health forms, school registration, after school permission slips, drama club, choir, running club, basketball, canoeing permission form - it's all stacked right here. I'd move them, but it's hard to do with these bandages on my fingers.

These papers spread on my desk are the student handbooks and school policy updates. You can push those aside and have a seat. Careful there. That dark smudge? Oh no, that's not from the paper cuts. That's Merlot.

I'm just about done with all the signatures. I have writer's cramp and a huge blue smudge on my hand that's either ink or a bruise. I'm not sure yet.

Well, I'd better get back to the sorting. I hope your back to school transition is going smoothly. Happy reading!