27 December 2012

thoughts on thirty-two.

i'm not one to use the word "suck" as a verb. i tend to find it crass and vulgar. but in this situation, i will make an exception. december birthdays suck. there's no way around it. they just do. maybe having a birthday at the beginning of december wouldn't be too bad...but any time after the first week...boom. instant suck.
my birthday falls on the 22nd. three whole days before christmas. the older i've gotten, i've grown to care less. but still...inevitably, the suckiness of having a birthday in the midst of the christmas season comes and smacks me in the forehead. some years, it smacks less than others. but regardless, there's always a bit of a sting.
this year was a bigger smack than usual. i'm not sure why. perhaps it's due to the complicated life "stuff" that's going on this year...or maybe it's because i'm starting to feel old. cognitively, i know i'm not old...not even close. for some reason though, thirty two feels significantly older than thirty or thirty one did. i always thought i wouldn't mind growing older...and i suppose i don't really mind THAT much. i just thought it would feel differently. or that i wouldn't be so surprised to find the gray hairs and the deepening wrinkles and the age spots. sometimes i look at my hands and i catch myself wondering when they changed. and why i didn't notice...
i've been humming this song quite a bit these days. the lyrics resonate with my heart and where it is right now...

santa knows what i want for christmas
but jesus knows what i need
it can't be purchased, wrapped up
and placed under an eight foot tree

i need patience, kindess - virtues like these
to bend on my knee at the manger
santa may bring things that last for a year
but eternal gifts come from the saviour

some days come where i'm just plain selfish
i can't think of no one but me
then i think of all that i'm blessed with
and that it's always best to give than to receive

i need faithfulness, love, generosity
to open my home to a stranger
santa may bring things that last for a year
but eternal gifts come from the saviour

i need patience, kindess - virtues like these
to bend on my knee at the manger
santa may bring things that last for a year
but eternal gifts come from the saviour

santa knows what i want for christmas
but jesus knows what i need...

(leigh nash - eternal gifts)

melancholy has reigned in my heart for much of this holiday season. i know that i am blessed beyond measure and for that i am truly thankful. but for this season, my heart just feels the need to be quiet. to be pensive. and sometimes, to be inexplicably sad.

maybe that's why thirty two is harder. feels older. more complicated. 

26 December 2012

wrapping 101 - katie style

so now that it's the day after christmas and we all want to vomit at the sight of gift wrap and tape, i thought i'd write a quick post about wrapping. because timing is everything. hmmmmm. oh well.

over the past few years, i have developed a particular wrapping style. i guess it all came about when i tired of paying perfectly good money on special wrapping paper, only to have it torn to shreds on christmas morning. it's frustrating, yes? well, i find it irritating. so, i formulated a plan. i stopped buying gift wrap. gasp! yes. i know. revolutionary, right? i can hear the questions exploding in your mind right now. "what? but how? does she even wrap her gifts? this is a scandal!". okay...so maybe you're not thinking that.

regardless, i haven't purchased wrapping paper in over five years. the first christmas, i simply used up what i had leftover from the year before. the next year, i had to get a little creative. and over the past four years, my wrapping style has evolved so now, i have had a blast wrapping my gifts, all the while, not spending a single pence on the "trimming and trappings". and here's how:

1. think outside the box

  ...and use the bag. literally. there are a few ways to do this. first: use gift bags. no...don't go out and buy a bunch of new ones. just keep the ones you receive and reuse them (more on this in a moment). second: save those paper grocery sacks. especially the ones they print for the holidays. now, if you're like me, you are a good little shopper and always bring your reusable bags to the grocery store. if this is the case, and you find yourself without any paper sacks around christmas time (this was me this year!), ring up a friend! my friends gladly handed over their overflowing piles of paper bags to aid in the cause. third: speaking of grocery sacks, their miniature cousins also come in handy. perfect for stocking stuffers or small flat gifts (gift cards, cds, dvds, books, etc), the brown paper lunch sack is practically perfect. i purchased a costco sized package of these bags years ago and still have hundreds. an example of lunch bag wrapping:

simple and sweet. a hand crocheted ornament and a rafia bow add charm to a plain paper lunch sack.

2. reduce, reuse, recycle

 this seems a bit redundant to say, but if you're not going to spend any money on gift wrapping, you're going to have to get it somewhere! i've already described two places to get packaging: save those gift bags and use brown paper bags. but what about tags and ribbons? well, goodness. save those too! i never throw away a decent ribbon or tag. i simply keep the ribbon stored all together in a vase in my craft area and the tags in a small box next to my scissors and envelopes. tissue paper can also be saved and reused. after a few go-rounds, it certainly might need to go in the recycling bin but can be used several times before reaching that destination.  

3. embrace your inner kindergartener  

 so, what do you do now that you've got your paper sacks? grab your scissors and tape and get wrapping of course! cut up one of the folds on the grocery bag, then cut along the rectangular bottom piece. this rectangle can be saved for tag making or can be tossed in the bin. once you've cut your sack, you're left with a decent sized rectangle just waiting to be wrapped around a gift. i usually wrap it so that the plain kraft side of the paper is showing on the outside but occasionally, with a little creative cropping, i can keep some of the store's designs without also having the store name on display. an example:

this sweet polar bear came pre-printed on a bag from raley's supermarket. i placed the sack so that none of the store's logo or name showed on the front of the package (some can be seen on the back but that's hardly problematic). because the bag wasn't big enough to cover the entire gift (this was a rather large lego box), i just grabbed another bag and put it over the other end of the box.

a word on tags.

now that your gifts are all wrapped, it's time to get creative. this is when you're glad you saved all those ribbons and tags! a package really only needs a nice bow and a tag. if you want to get more creative than that, by all means, good for you. i tend to get a little weary of re-inventing the wheel with each gift (especially remembering that the end result will not be admired by my six year old before he tears it open) so i stick with a traditional bow. if you don't know how to tie a particularly pretty bow, better homes and gardens has a great tutorial. a bow is simple, classic and most importantly for me, easy for my kiddies to untie. what kid wants to spend ten minutes untying the ribbon wrapped round their gift? (if you want to delve into the realm of super fancy bows, better homes and gardens has those too. as does martha stewart. a simple search will get you tutorials galore.)

a perfectly pretty bow.
 your bow doesn't have to be made out of ribbon. rafia, twine (baker's or traditional), yarn, burlap, crepe paper, shoelaces, etc. make excellent package toppers.

this package, wrapped in burlap, is held together with a simple bow of oversized baker's twine.

tagging your packages should be the last step, and also, the easiest. two christmases ago, i sat down one evening and just.made.tags. i went all out with stamps, stickers, glitter, markers, washi tape, etc. i haven't made tags since that evening though i am thinking about having another tag making craft night next year as some of the tags have inevitably been tossed or destroyed in the unwrapping process. if i happen to run out of tags as i'm finishing up my wrapping, i simply grab my sharpie and a stamp or two and mark on the actual kraft paper. you can also let your kids go crazy with markers/paints if you're feeling daring.

red stamped YOU with black glitter stickers and a ribbon.
 a few other package topper ideas? ornaments. flat ones work best for this but they don't have to be. just be sure they don't get crushed. i bought a package with six of these silver snowflakes for $1 at target several years ago. i have also used ornaments my kids have coloured. joann fabrics or michael's have those flat, wooden ornaments by the hundreds this time of year. i always grab a few handfuls (they're practically giving them away now) for the next year and use them as gifts from my kids. with very little effort on their part, they colour, paint, glitter glue to their wee heart's content during an afternoon and i am left with a slightly sticky pile to top packages to grandparents, cousins, uncles, aunts, teachers, etc.

washi tape. what is washi tape? it is a wonderful, wonderful thing! patterned, coloured, opaque tape that can be used just as regular tape or as a decorative element. i LOVE this stuff and have way too much of it. you can find it a craft/hobby stores or at office supply stores. i've even seen it in the gift wrap section at target. here's a great round up of washi tape ideas: crafty tape!

here's a look at my completed pile from this year. (the cute eskimo wrapping paper are gifts from my mother. she bought that adorable paper while she was visiting us here and oh, darn it, the roll wouldn't fit in her suitcase!) i certainly had fun decorating my packages this year and hopefully have given you some ideas for next year!

22 December 2012

thoughts on a two year old birthday...

picture taken 31 october 2012
words written 27 october 2012.

tears are near the surface lately.
naomi is turning two tomorrow.
one would think she's graduating from high school the way i'm carrying on...
but she's my baby...
and without hope of another coming any time soon, i am desperate for her to stay tiny.
but she's not a baby any more.
she's a walking, talking vibrant little girl with a penchant for the beatles and winnie the pooh.

21 December 2012

this picture scares me.

this picture.
this is the one.
it isn't a new shot. it was taken during labor day weekend up in hatcher pass, alaska. and it certainly isn't the only picture i took of her that day. it was chilly, borderline TOO chilly to be up hiking around in the fall foliage. but we braved the wind and trekked onward. up the steep grade to a flat-ish area filled with rocks and boulders, perfect for climbing, and sitting, and jumping from one rock to another. in the midst of all the to-and-fro-ing, i managed to capture lucy just as she is: a typical three year old girl, prone to dramatic outbursts, loads of giggling and spontaneous singing. here's a few examples of the typical lucy kate:


traditional even.
my sweet, filled-with-light girl.
but then...there's that one picture. tucked away in the midst of all the others.
that one. that one that scares me.
not so much scares me, i guess. but gives me pause. makes me stop. look. wonder. wonder at who she's going to be. beautiful yes. most certainly that. but what else? who else? and am i prepared to take her there? to be the mother she needs me to be?
oh, yes. that scares me.
the huge, weighty responsibility of the task. the journey.
my days are filled with prayers.
prayers for guidance. for patience. for wisdom.
but mostly, for help.
help raising this beautiful girl into a woman who is not only beautiful on the outside...but shining gold on the inside too.

a hiatis.

i wonder if i should even say anything.
say anything in response to the void in dates on my blogging calendar.
it's been a long time.
and the next one might be just as far away.
i don't know.
i don't know what this place is.
or what it's destined to become.
i just know i'm not ready to give it up just yet...