Made By Hand

(In response to WordPress’ Daily Post from MANY weeks ago, By Hand)

What was the best gift you ever received that was handmade? Those of us who are parents probably have a ton of handmade pictures, bookmarks, keychains and jewelry that our children have made for us. But there are three special handmade gifts I will always treasure.

Over 20 years ago, my good friend in South Carolina made a simple storage mug for me. It is a plain black mug, with my name written on it with a gold paint marker. Let me interject that having an uncommon name, I am ALWAYS excited to see my name monogrammed on anything! But she also wrote around the mug adjectives she felt described me. That’s what made it personal.

When my son was 4, he made my first pre-school Mother’s Day gift, which was a handmade beaded keychain. He was so proud of it and I still have it on my keychain, faded letters and all. When my daughter was 4, she made the same keychain as her brother, and I promised I would keep both of them. However, her knot must not have been tight and I didn’t realize that over a period of a few days, I had slowly been losing beads from the keychain. But I still keep the green rope tied to my keys, as a reminder of my handmade gift. And my daughter appreciates the fact that I never threw away the green rope!

Something handmade should be cherished and appreciated – because someone took the time to CRAFT it just for you. Did you receive a handmade card or gift this Christmas? Leave a comment and share your gift with us!

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Just Say No: The Holiday Toy Edition

“A Christmas Story”

Up until now, I have considered myself fortunate in that my children have never been whiny or continually asking for toys every time they see a commercial on television. Actually, that has happened in part because the only channels they watched up until this year were Sprout, Nick, Jr. or PBS Kids, neither of which really play too many commercials. However, this summer, my 6-year-old son Izzy decided he was too old for pre-school television and now opts to watch NickToons, home of the Power Rangers franchise, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Supah Samurai, etc. These are the shows that are chock-full of commercials for dolls, action figures, games and the like.

After 6 years of safety, I am now exposed to the constant cries of “Ooo, I want that…” and “Mommy can I have that?” But I have to say, I’m pretty proud of myself. Instead of going on some long tirade of why they can’t have a toy or how Daddy and I have not yet decided what you’re actually getting for Christmas, I take the easy route and just say, “No.” What parents sometimes fail to realize is that children don’t always respond negatively to the word “no.” They don’t always begin to whine, cry or protest. It’s actually kind of funny – sometimes all I get from them, especially Izzy, is “OK.” Five minutes later, they ask for another toy. I say “No,” they say, “OK,” and we’re golden! 🙂

In Christmases past, I have actually been thoughtful about what we bought for them, even if there was no direct request. We knew the characters the kids liked, so we based our choices on that. And like any good parent, we included educational toys and clothes (how many hat and scarf sets did YOU get for Christmas?). But this year, I went the route of my parents. Since there were so many requests, instead of hiding the Toys ‘R Us catalog from them, I actually let them peruse it every day, over the past 2 weeks. They studied it like there was going to be a test on it, and they asked for the moon. But they were warned that they would only get a few things from their list. Going through the book with them this morning was HILARIOUS!! There were a few ground rules about what could NOT go on the list – no plush toys, nothing with tracks, no large toys that took up too much space, nothing with too many parts and pieces. They knew the rules so well, that they automatically skipped pages in the book that didn’t apply. Side note: children also know how to tell themselves “No”! It’s also funny that they understand the meaning of the famous phrases, “Batteries not included,” “For ages 3 and up,” and “Each piece sold separately.” One day, I hope they will also become familiar with “Some assembly required.

So the word “No” has its place in our home and can live peacefully in your home too. C’mon…say it with me…”N-n-n-n-n-o-o-o-o-o.” That felt good, didn’t it?! 😉