Day 5: Jingle Bells Bracelet Making With Mommy

Day five was another day of M&Ms, which is becoming a very special snack for Punky. She loves those. She opened up her next envelope and immediately popped the little candy coated chocolate in her mouth.

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Notice the horse tattoo that is on her hand that is quickly disintegrating!

She helped me string the bells on an invisible jewelry line. Really she just helped me pick out the order of the bells. She just gave them to me – and I put them on the string for her.

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The more bells she gave me the bigger the bracelet got. She was really loving the jingle bell song. So I sang jingle bell Christmas carol and she started to mimic me. So every time I sang she would holler “HEY!” She let me put the bracelet on her wrist and we jingled and shook it around the living room.

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She wore the bracelet, prancing around the house with it for a good 10 minutes, I am beginning to see a pattern with my toddler’s attention span. Anyway, she took it off and Mama put it on the monster. Her favorite baby right now.

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She would shake it around and gave it to me several times, before I threw it in her room. She tore it off the monster’s neck and by the end of the night the bells were no longer strung on the bracelet and are now laying on my living room floor.

She does come by periodically and pick one up and shake it at me. Day five was pretty darn successful, she just kept in true tradition for our toddler and enjoyed it for a short period of time!

DIY – Christmas Countdown/Advent Calendar (Non-Religious) For Toddlers

I know, two posts in one day, but I’m just so damn proud of myself right now. I have been looking for a way to countdown the days until Christmas with Punky. However, I didn’t want to use one of the religious advent calendars that are geared towards the birth of Jesus or scriptures from the Bible.

This year, I just wanted to focus on activities that we can do as a family. Little things every day that we can do together, either in the house or out.

So, I made my own. I didn’t really want to buy one, I wanted it to be special to our family. And, we all know that I have an Etsy shop for digital design, so I hopped onto Photoshop and made up some cute little Christmas Countdown cards and took some fun ideas from Pinterest as well as from mine and Kim’s family traditions growing up.

I decided to do a step by step, in case someone wants to make their own. I think ours is definitely geared towards little ones. Small children or toddlers who may or may not yet understand the meaning of Christmas, but are small minds ready and willing to be molded. A great time to start teaching by example and forming great traditions for years to come!

Without further ado, here’s a tutorial for you! My very first ever DIY post on the interwebs!

Optional: All the cards and numbers I used in ours are here. Feel free to use them, though they are geared toward our location and our family specifically, most of them can be used for just about anyone.

What You Need: Scrapbook paper (8X8), ribbons, craft scissors, regular scissors, self laminating pouches, hole punch, tape/glue stick

Step 1:

IMG_2799I got some funky and pretty scrapbook paper that I wanted to turn into paper envelopes. I am working with a toddler here, so no need to get fancy with my envelopes. This was the simplest envelope tutorial I could find. And while they weren’t all uniform, it doesn’t matter, she’s not even two yet.

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Pick out the design you want

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Turn it design face down and at a diagonal angle.

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Fold the two corners in – so that they meet in the middle and tape the intersection.

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Fold the bottom section up to the intersection in the middle and tape both sides down.

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Fold the top section down to the middle intersection and crease the paper, but do not tape.

Make 24 little envelopes like this. You can use all the same colors or a color scheme. I just liked the random and the pretty.

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Step 2:

Cut out your numbers. I used fun craft scissors to spice up the edges, you can cut straight edges as well. Totally up to you. You can also simply write the numbers on the outside of the envelopes if you don’t want to download the numbers.

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Step 3:

Attach the number to the outside of the envelope. Make sure you tape it down or glue it down really well. Leave top flap open.

IMG_2809Step 4:

You can write your own activities, get on the computer and make up some cute cards like the ones in the download link or you can use the ones I have made and used. If you opt to make your own, I used a 4X2 dimension and that made it easy to fit in the envelopes. Either way, cut them out and get them ready to go.

IMG_2811Step 5:

You also don’t have to laminate, but since I’m working with a toddler, I really wanted a way to make the cards durable. So, I laminated and cut them out. TIP: If you haven’t ever used the self laminating pouches, make sure you leave room on either side of your card so you can cut them out. Also, don’t cut at the edge of the card, leave a small amount of laminate around the edges otherwise the backs will fall off!

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Step 6:

Put your cards in the envelopes. I tried to decide which day of the week and the dates of things. I wanted to make sure if we were going out somewhere, it was mostly on the weekend or if it was a night I had to work, we would be staying home to do things. Strategies are key in my life, I would assume for anyone with a toddler, the same would be the case. Anyway, my cards went into their envelope homes with very much planning behind it.

IMG_2813Step 7:

Hole punch a corner of the envelope. Be careful not to hole punch with the numbers upside down or hole punch through your cute little card.

IMG_2814Step 8:

String the envelopes onto a pretty ribbon. I just used a sparkly silver ribbon I had in my craft/party planning supplies. Nothing too fancy. I chose to string it from 24 down to 1, because I intended Punky to pull from the bottom. Make sure you decide which end you want to start on and work backwards when you string the envelopes.

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Tada! Beautiful, cheap and toddler proof countdown to Christmas. I plan to add a few little chocolate or candy treats in some of the envelopes, small toys and surprises as well. I know a laminated card with words on it, will not hold her attention, but if she gets a treat or a present every day, she is sure to be excited about her first ever Christmas Countdown Calendar.

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I hope to make it more festive in this corner later in the week!

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I’m pretty excited to see her open her first card. I hope doing things like this will instill in her the magic and the excitement kids have for Christmas. You know, some people don’t want to “lie to their kids” about Christmas and allow their children to believe in imaginary people (don’t get me started on the Christian reason for the season), but I say, why invite the stress and the worry. I love the idea of giving my kid an imaginative and magical holiday.

And what better way to do that than to spend time doing something fun and geared towards Christmas every day of December leading up to the holiday!

The Roles of Parents In A New Generation

I do realize that being a two mom family out in the open is something a bit new to our society. With the Supreme Court ruling in the US, while our families existed, there are some who are being recognized and for that, I am grateful. However, there are times that I am reminded the typical stereotype of a family cannot be changed overnight. LGBT families have existed for years, they are in history, hidden in the shadows and they are finally getting a chance to come out in the open.

Families like ours are redefining what it means to be a family, but it’s no different than single mothers, adoptive parents, divorced families, or families headed by grandparents or aunts and uncles. Family dynamics are not just black and white. Parents are not simply made up of a man and a woman, a mother and a father.

So, why then, do the first things out of people’s mouths consist of gender specific roles in family. When people see pictures of my family, especially my daughter, this is usually how the conversation goes:

Them: “Are you married?”

Me: “No, but we’ve been together for 10 years.”

Them: “Is she laying on Daddy’s shoulder, there?”

Me: “That’s my partner, yes, she’s laying on her mom’s shoulder.”

**Cue embarrassed look from the other person**

This makes me feel like shit. Why? Because I don’t come out the gate with my sexuality. My sexuality is not what makes me a person. It’s not what makes me a mother. It’s not what makes me who I am. My sexuality is not about anything that affects anyone else. My sexuality has nothing to do with sex, frankly, it has to do with who I love and who loves me. Who has loved me for 10 years and who I have walked through fire with for the last 10 years. And, that person happens to be another woman.

Why is it my fault that that this person assumes there’s a man in my house. I don’t fault them, I’m not offended by the question. I’m offended by the reaction. Don’t make me feel bad because you can’t think about your words before you say them. It’s not my fault that you have not yet figured out that there are different kinds of families.

What if I had been a single mother? What if my child was sitting on my sister’s lap? Or my brother’s? How is it that we have been so programmed in society to think of families in simply one way? The world is changing and I know change is scary – but let’s get with the times. Not for my sake but for theirs. I hope these people who meet me and realize I am not my label will think about their word choices next time they ask about someone’s family.

No two families are the same. My daughter doesn’t have a Daddy. She doesn’t realize that yet, but she will soon. I am not concerned about this because we will teach her about the different types of families and the different way that families are made. She will not feel any different or less important than anyone else she knows with a mom and a dad.

I’m waiting for the day when someone mentions something to her about her Daddy. What will she say, how will she respond. I’m certain this will spark questions for her and we will have answers for those tough questions. We are teaching our daughter to think about things and question things, she’s still too little to make her own choices and decisions, but she’s curious and she has inquiry behind those big brown eyes.

Gender doesn’t matter in this house and in the end, my daughter will be enlightened and more aware of her surroundings. She will not be caught off guard or embarrassed when she asks another child about their parents. She will not be confined to a rigid set of rules that define a family. For that, I am grateful. She really can be anything she wants to be.

So, Punky doesn’t have a Dad. I don’t have a Husband. Before you ask about someone’s situation or family, think about what you say. Change the wording to make it less specific to the ‘norm’, because in the end, what’s normal? Really? In the end, there is only family. Save yourself the embarrassment and uncomfortable silence by choosing your words more carefully. You don’t offend me when you ask these things, but it sure does make the conversation awkward when I have to correct you.