Saturday, December 21, 2013

Mommy's Sweatshop Relentlessly Cranks Out the Joy

I believe in holiday cards.  I know we stay better connected online anymore, but there is nothing like getting a real piece of mail from someone you care about to make you smile while sorting through the junk and bills.  There are even some people we only really catch up with at this time of year, and when I'm going through my address book and figuring out how many cards to put together I'm glad to stop and think of them.

Some years when we are pressed for time we just take a family portrait and use that as our card.  But when we can we like to make our cards.  We set up the assembly line and I put the kids to work.

This year we went with a potato print of a Christmas cookie.  We haven't done a potato print in a while.  The last time was three years ago where we made trees and decorated them with stickers.

For the most part that worked out well.  The kids liked stamping the trees one day, and the next when the paint was dry we broke out the giant sticker box and I told them to use whatever struck their fancy.  They used a lot of foil stars and shiny things.

But then Quinn, in his 3-year-old innocence, came up with this bit of horror that I kept for myself because it makes me laugh every time:

(The heart reads "1 month old" in case you can't read it and want to fully appreciate the inappropriateness of this card.)

The kids like helping make the cards, but it always happens on a deadline around birthday season and preparing for concerts and lots of visitors, so I have to keep things somewhat simple, and I have to remind myself it's supposed to be fun and not lose my patience with the production line.

Thankfully the median age in my in-home sweatshop keeps rising and the quality of my slave labor fun crafting projects seems to improve, or at least get more efficient.

The original hope was to design a card with our dog Chipper in a Santa hat on it, but that wasn't working well enough in the experimental stage to run with this time.  But the other thing my kids have been helping crank out this year is spritz cookies.  I taught them how to use the cookie press themselves, and the three of them actually did a few batches of my Grandma's Christmas tree cookies while I was at work.  In honor of their cookie skills we went with a cookie card.

I mixed up some paint that looked appropriately cookie colored, and each of the kids took a turn using the potato stamp to make cards.  Mona did quite a few before she tired of it, Quinn did several before having a mini-meltdown about how they weren't coming out perfect, and Aden finished up.

I had Quinn pick out markers to match the sprinkles we use on our cookies, and asked the kids to put sprinkle dots on all the cards after school the next day.

I think they came out okay.  I don't know if anyone will recognize what they are suppose to be, but at least people in our family who have had my Grandma's cookies should.

I got all the cards addressed and mailed and am now stuck with my annual stack of cards that were supposed to get hand delivered and didn't.  I put the card for the girls' violin teacher in Mona's book, but then the book didn't make it to the lesson on Wednesday.  The mom I usually see at the school drop-off in the mornings I have managed to not cross paths with in a week.  And so on.  But the cards are done, and mostly on time, and I'm glad it's something the kids and I do together each year when we can.

On a different note of artistic accomplishment, my girls both won a label designing contest recently.  Anodyne coffee asked the upper elementary kids at Fernwood to design a label for their "Fernwood Blend" as part of an annual fundraiser.  I don't drink coffee so I never pay much attention to that particular fundraiser, but I got a call from the school this year asking if I wanted to place an order since both my daughters' artwork were on the labels.  (Mom, you're getting coffee for Christmas this year.)

Check out the beautiful work they did!

Aden's label

Mona's label
I'm not sure why there were two winners, but it was a relief to just get to be happy all around rather than congratulating one child while consoling another.  (And I genuinely like both labels, so I wouldn't have been able to pick just one, either.)

I'm so glad the holiday season is in the home stretch.  There is still a lot to do, and we will have a house filled with guests for about a week which makes a lot of work, but this is the good part.  Whatever cleaning or preparation I didn't do is too late to worry about, and now it's down to the laughter and the staying up too late talking and the listening to the cousins giggle together.

Part of the reason I love our house is it's easy to imagine it filled to the brim with people, and this is the time of year it lives up to that promise.  At our peak just after Christmas day we will have nine guests (and an extra dog) staying with us, and at least two more people at a nearby hotel joining us for all the festivities.  It's going to be amazing.  And exhausting.  And so much fun! 

Whether it's craziness or calm, I wish all of you whatever makes you happy this season.


  1. Quinn's 3 year old card is my absolute favorite card ever. I laughed out loud at that. It almost makes me want to try letting my kids make the cards in the future, except I'd probably have to buy funnier stickers first.

    Merry Christmas!

  2. Oh my gosh, I totally laughed out loud at Quinn's card. (That poor baby! Just one month old when he met his demise…)

    And the cookie cards totally look like cookies. Well done!

    Merry Christmas to you all.

  3. I see that old tree card and my head says, "Merry Christmas! Oh, sad, dead baby. And Merry Christmas!" It's just impossible, and remains awful and funny. It was so hard to not to laugh in front of Quinn when he made it.

  4. Oh wow! I started laughing out loud at Quinn's card and B had to see and he laughed too! What a wonderfully inappropriately delightfully awful card! :o)

    We totally "got" the Christmas cookie vibe off the card and loved it! :o) They're delightful! :o)

  5. I'm gonna assume one of those cards that didn't get delivered to the moms before school is for us. Just to be clear, we accept holiday cards for any holiday...Christmas, MLK day, valentines day, Easter, whatever.

    1. Your card, along with a stack of photos from a year ago that I've been holding for you, ride next to me in the car and keep me company. Someday they will get to you. But not today, apparently. (Happy Everything!)