Tom was feeling a bit under the weather for most of this week, so we took it more gently than normal. He was very cuddly whenever we went out, wanting to sit with me or ride in the buggy, rather than run around all the time as he normally would.
Monday began with a trip to the park, where Tom wanted a nice long cuddle with me before he went off to play. It was a lovely moment of quiet connection that inspired me to write about the power of silence. We went back to the park in the afternoon, but this time we were on the hunt for more sycamore fruit to use in making Christmas decorations.
On Tuesday, Mr Techno took Tom to choose a Christmas tree and wreath whilst I went to work.
Wednesday morning began with a short walk around our local woods, on the way back from the shops. We then spent the afternoon indoors – partly in deference to Tom’s cold and partly so we could make some Christmas decorations for the tree.
On Thursday and Friday, we walked into nursery as usual. Tom had a bit of a meltdown when I came to pick him up on Thursday – he didn’t want to put down the car he was playing with. He was clearly tired, so didn’t really want to play for long when we stopped in the park on our way home. On Friday, Mr Techno came to meet us and we drove down to Kent, so we missed out on our normal walk home.
We spent the weekend at our friend’s house in Kent – you can read more about our adventures here. Staying on a farm more than made up for the slight lack of outdoor time during the week – we had a great time exploring, greeting the various animals, and getting extremely muddy.
Tom’s cold is much better, but Mr Techno and I have been suffering this week! Hopefully we will all be better for Christmas and some outdoor adventures in Suffolk next week.
One day, I will be the kind of mother who plans ahead at Christmas time. All the presents will be bought and wrapped weeks in advance, and we will decorate the whole house on the first of December, with the carefully stored decorations that we have used year after year.
One day. But definitely not now. Because I only decided at the last moment that we should decorate the flat this year, and then refused to actually buy decorations, it has taken us quite a while to get anything up. However, stage one of operation Christmas Decorations is now complete, so I thought I’d share a progress report.
A couple of weekends ago, Tom and I started the process when we went foraging for some decorations. A few days later, whilst I was at work, Mr Techno and Tom went to buy a Christmas tree. They were under strict instructions to get the smallest one they could find. So, of course, they came back with something that takes up a third of the living room And a wreath for good luck.
With something to actually decorate, and paint and glitter having finally arrived, Tom and I got started on the decorations. We began with the baubles – made from sycamore fruit we had gathered in the park.
We made two colours, gold and red. The gold ones were spray painted, but, because I was put off by the non-eco-friendliness of normal spray paint, I opted for fabric spray paint instead, which claimed to be non-toxic. The sycamore fruit took quite a while to dry as a result, but they looked great.
Tom wasn’t allowed to help with the spray painting (toddlers and spray paint seemed like a receipe for disaster), but got involved with painting the red ones, which we did with normal poster paint. It took a lot longer, and the effect is not quite as good, but I still think they came out looking pretty decent.
Once all the paint had dried, I attached tied knitting yarn around the stems of the fruit and hung them off the tree.
The baubles came out pretty well, but the tree looked a bit plain with just the one shape. Fortunately, I have been saving toilet roll tubes for months, knowing that they would come in handy some day for a craft project. Stars for the tree seemed like a perfect way to use some up*.
We started by painting the tubes red with the same poster paint we used on the baubles. Tom was pretty good at getting the idea that the paint needed to go on the tube, but wasn’t so clear on the idea of covering the entire thing. Still, he did a pretty good job. I did the other three whilst he worked on his one.
The next stages are a bit more fiddly, so I waited until Tom was in bed for the night and the first layer of paint was dry. I gave each tube a coat of glitter paint, then left them to dry whilst I had dinner. Once they were dry, I cut each tube into rings – each about two cm wide. This gave me five rings per tube, with a tiny bit left over. I then glued the rings into a star shape, using my little craft pegs to hold them together whilst they dried (normal pegs would work just as well, but I’m a sucker for miniature things!)
I left the stars to dry overnight, then hung them on the tree the next day.
To be honest, I should probably have painted the inside of the tubes too. Still they turned out pretty well. I’m going to make more over the next few days, with Tom’s help of course. Then all we will need is a big star for the top.
In a way, I’ve quite liked our gradual approach to decorating this year. It’s a little bit like having an advent calendar, except Tom gets to see what new decorations have appeared each morning instead of opening a little door. So maybe I’m not in such a hurry to become an organised mother after all…
*The idea for the toilet roll tube stars came from this site.
I love Christmas. But, slightly shockingly, Mr Techno and I don’t currently own any actual decorations. We always visit family over Christmas itself and when we were both working full-time we were in the flat so little over December that it didn’t ever seem worth decorating.
Last year, for Tom’s first Christmas, we were focused more on getting Tom’s inguinal hernia diagnosis confirmed and arranging a date for his surgery, so decorating was the last thing on our minds. Besides, he was far too little to notice anything was going on. But this year he is more aware, and I’ve already noticed him staring at the Christmas decorations at nursery.
The thing is though, that my inner anti-consumerist tends to kick in at this time of year (in reaction to all the adverts screaming ‘spend, spend, spend’ I suspect). So rather than buy a whole load of shiny new decorations that will only come out once a year, I decided to make some. This has involved ordering some glitter and paint online, so it isn’t spend free, but at least those will be useful for other craft projects too.
I definitely want to include some natural materials in the decorations. When Tom and I were walking to nursery last week, I picked up a few of these sycamore fruit in the park (and then accidentally went to work with them still in my pocket…)
Clearly, just eight were not going to do the job, so Tom and I headed out on Saturday to gather more. My original plan was to grab some of these and then head into the woods to see what else we could find. But we woke up to find that Storm Desmond was hitting the UK. While we were lucky in London to escape the extreme weather and flood warnings that affected the north and Scotland, we did have some very strong winds. It didn’t seem entirely sensible to be heading into the woods with the chance of falling branches, so we stuck to the open areas and concentrated on finding more sycamore fruit (this might sound counter-intuitive, but there is an avenue of sycamore trees in the park, with lots of open grass around them).
Unfortunately, my assistant got rather distracted by a massive pile of mud – there’s some improvement work going on at Leyton Jubilee Park and they’ve been digging out a new path to the meadow area.
Despite the burning need to make mud pies, we I did gather a decent haul. Which are now hidden all around the flat as Tom really enjoys playing with them. This is about half the stash!
Sadly, the downside of lazy internet shopping is that the glitter and paint haven’t arrived yet, so we are waiting to transform these into baubles for the flat. I’ll let you know how we get on!