Friday, December 15, 2006

Tony's Ship Models

(Click on any of these photos to see them enlarged)

I like to share things I think that are really neat on my blog, especially if they have anything to do with family. My father in law, Grandpa Tony, has an amazing hobby. He builds historically accurate, scale ship models. From scratch. Yes, he does start with a kit, but since the kit is basically a set of plans and a very roughly shaped wooden hull, I still consider that from scratch.

Having spent his summers on the beach of Cape Cod, and being an experienced sailor himself, he loves all things ship and boat. I like to think that, as he builds them, he enjoys imagining what it would have been like to be one of the men that once sailed on them.

The detail work he does is amazing. The little rescue boat here that hangs off the side of the ship is only a little bigger than my finger. (Can you find it in the very top photo? It gives some idea of the size of this model.) All the rigging is carefully done by hand, with tiny mini pulleys. The mesh ladder ropes are not purchased mesh, but are carefully made completely by hand, one knot at a time. Obviously, these boats are a labor of love and take enormous amounts of time to complete. And each one he makes seems even more amazing than the last. Here is just one of his previous models:

I was surprised to learn that there are many people out there with this same hobby. In fact, Tony belongs to a group,
The Ship Model Society of Northern New Jersey, that regularly gets together to share tips and show off their work.

I'm going to do a separate blog about his latest boat, one that has been featured in the society's newsletter,The Broadaxe, and is named after my mother in law, Sally. It's a fun one!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Works for Me Wednesday: Puzzle/Book Center

I love wooden puzzles and books for toddlers and preschoolers. I've collected quite a few, but if I left them all out where my kids could reach them, they exploded into a huge mess all over the room. If I put them up out of reach, they seemed to rarely get used.

With Elsie I have come up with this solution:

In her room she has a puzzle/book play center. I keep the wooden puzzles in a plastic tub. On the lid of the tub I have a smaller tub of board books. Next to it is a child sized chair and on the floor I often put a nice crib size quilt to sit on.

Every day or two, we get out a new puzzle from the tub. Sometimes she plays with it on the floor, but usually she plays with it standing at the chair like a little table. She has free access to the books in the tub, and the tub makes them easy for her to put them in and out. The weight of the book tub and the difficulty of lifting the lid of the puzzle tub, keeps the puzzles out of her reach, but easy for me to get them out and, more importantly, to remember to get them out! It is a favorite place for us to spend time together, too!

Works for Me! At least until she gets strong enough to open that tub...

(Be sure to check out Shannon's blog for more great Works for Me ideas!)

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Works For Me Wednesday: Free Holiday Decor

I love the fun holiday crafts my kids come home with. School teachers can come up with the cutest ideas! But, what do you do with them? You can't save every piece of artwork your kids ever make, but it seems a shame to throw them out after the holiday is over. So, we save ours with the holiday decorations and decorate the house with them. I always write the child's name and grade on the back, so we remember who made what. The kids get a big kick out of seeing not only the things they made, but also the things their teenaged sibling made in 1st grade, etc. And taping them up is a decorating activity that they can easily do themselves. Naturally, after years of use, many of the decorations start to fall apart and need to be discarded at the end of the season, but I no longer feel bad about chucking them, since we have been able to get many years of enjoyment out of them!

Works for Me!

Be sure to check out more Works for Me Wednesday ideas at Shannon's Rocks in Her Dryer!

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Christmas Open House

My Christmas Decorations are up!

Decorating for Christmas is one tradition that I will probably never skip or simplify. I really enjoy creating a Christmasy atmosphere in our home. I start decorating the day after Thanksgiving, and work on it when I can. I have a lot of fun decorations, mostly because my DH's family loves to give them as gifts, many of them homemade. It took longer this year than normal, probably because I'm pregnant and Elsie hasn't been sleeping well, so I've been a bit more tired than usual. Here are some of the results:

(My mother made this quilt. My husband made the bed for us one year for our anniversary.)

I enjoyed when everyone shared their Autumn decorations with me, so I thought it would be fun to share Christmas decorations, as well! Post images of your decor on your blog and link to it here, and we'll all come visit! I'm starting the links off with my favorite non-blog site for inspiration: the photo gallery at the Colonial Williamsburg website. Someday I will be visiting that place at Christmas time!

And if you haven't been able to decorate much this year, I want to share with you the words a wise friend shared with me when I lamented about how long it was taking me to finish decorating: "It only takes hanging one wreath to let people know you are a Christian. And if you don't put up many decorations, you are giving the gift of making your neighbor's decorations look better."

So, grab some hot chocolate and some sugar cookies and enjoy some sights of the season!

UPDATE: Boo Mama has started a Holiday Home Tour. She has tons of readers, so if you want to visit the jackpot of Christmas decoration pictures, be sure to click on her link!

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Christmas Meme

I've read this meme on several blogs, but really enjoyed reading my sister, ItyBty's version. It brought back many of my own memories, so I decided I wanted to do it, too!

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Hot Chocolate, but only just barely more than egg nog. I have a lot of great memories of drinking "made from scratch" hot chocolate with my husband after he gets home from work late, even in the summer! One year, my brother, who was working in the dairy dept of Albertson's, brought home about a dozen quarts of egg nog that were about to expire. We drank it in huge glasses. It was sooo good. But, I think I drank a too much, and I don't love it quite as much as I once did.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree? He wraps everything, and writes names in a big black permanent marker on the front, just like when I was a kid.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? White, all the way. The only place I really love to see the colored ones are at Temple Square.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? No. But, it is a very romantic idea!

5. When do you put your decorations up? I usually start the day after Thanksgiving. I'm still working on it though. I love the decorating and do a ton, but it takes me awhile because I'm trying to squeeze it in amongst regular life activities.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Christmas ham with homemade cranberry sauce.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child: The Christmas that my dad quit the military and went back to school. It was a very lean year, despite the fact that my dad was working his tail off doing several jobs, including delivering papers. Everything we received for Christmas that year was handmade: marionettes, ring toss sticks, a bean bag toss box with different target images on each side, pioneer rag dolls, and a wooden kitchen. Nobody in the neighborhood had anything like what we had received. It was very special to me, because I knew how hard my parents had worked to still give us a special Christmas. I really knew that they loved us and were very self sacrificing for us. (My mom had a severe burn on her arm that she was self treating because we had no health insurance. It made sewing those dolls very difficult.) I have saved very little of my childhood toys. The two main ones I still have are that doll and a clown marionette.

8. How and When did you learn the truth about Santa? I don't remember learning the truth about him. I do remember learning that the tooth fairy and Easter bunny were my parents and thinking that made sense, but Santa? He HAD to be real!

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Usually pajamas.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? In an assortment of ornaments with special meaning to us. (See previous post.)

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? Love it! I miss Utah winters. We don't get nearly enough snow here. I've never been crazy about driving in it, but I remember watching it snow at night out the window as a kid and thinking it looked so magical and beautiful. I don't like it as much when it is half melted and blackened along the sides of the roads, though.

12. Can you ice skate? Yes. And I can do turns, but not jumps or backwards. At least I used to.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? See #7. I also loved coming home with DH on Christmas eve a couple years ago, just as the delivery truck from the local music store was pulling out of our driveway. Inside the house they had just set up a piano! He is way better than I at surprises.

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Making sure I and my family feel the Christmas "spirit". Not just the magical, charitable feelings you get, but the joyous gratitude that "God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever shall believe in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? Homemade berry pie a la mode.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Spending time together as a family decorating the tree, cooking and baking, watching traditional Christmas movies, etc.

17. What tops your tree? A silver star that my parents purchased in Germany around the time that I was born. We had a gold one just like it on our tree growing up.

18. Which do you prefer giving or Receiving? Receiving! It's so much easier than trying to come up with just the right gift. But, I do love the feeling you get when you really hit the mark and get something they absolutely love and were not at all expecting. Its too bad more of my gifts aren't like that. Although, I try! And I do love seeing the excited faces of children opening gifts.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? "Sleep, Sleep, Sleep". It's a lullaby to Jesus that I learned in high school choir. Every once in awhile the Mormon Tab sings it. I'm really hoping they will at the First Presidency Fireside tonight.

20. What is your favorite Christmas story? Besides the nativity, It's a Wonderful Life (I cry every time)and The Bishop's Wife (The original Cary Grant one). I'm not a huge movie watcher, but I'm a sucker for sappy Christmas ones.

That was fun! Feel free to play, too!