Just doing the normal boring quintessential crafts here at World of Julie

by | Nov 25, 2008 | crafts, Eli, Henry, Parenting | 9 comments

Sometimes I get fixated on some kid craft that I feel like we have to do, or we’re not properly celebrating the season or whatever. Last year it was a gingerbread house (stay tuned next month, I’m sure another one is in the works, against my better judgment), this year it was peanut butter birdseed pinecones. I bought the cheap peanut butter and birdseed weeks ago, and the pinecones have been collecting on our picnic table, blowing around in the wind, and carefully being regathered on the picnic table by me. No one cared. Henry sort of seemed into it, but it wasn’t what he wanted to do when he got home.

Then last Thursday Eli was being so clingy and needy that I couldn’t move without him leaning on me or literally hanging from my belt loops. And suddenly peanut butter birdseed pinecones seemed like the perfect thing to do. And I will say that it seemed to calm him down a lot and make him a lot less needy, despite the fact that he wasn’t all that into the whole craft thing.

You know, I do these things, and think it’s going to be all homey and crafty and beautiful and bonding, and then the house is a mess and there’s my kid with underwear on his head.

And when we got outside I was all about lovingly hanging the pinecones from the tree (now I know why I don’t hang more ornamenty things from the pine tree…it’s kind of sharp and soft all at once and I won’t be surprised if tomorrow morning all the peanut butter pinecones are lying on the ground). And Eli was much more all about yelling, “BASEBALL” and whacking at imaginary balls with his giant plastic bat. You can see the pinecones in the tree if you squint and ignore the giant hideous plastic slide that every day I sort of hope someone steals.

And I will say that after this whole thing Eli was much calmer and even played upstairs by himself for a bit, while I was downstairs, and different-floor-level play is well nigh unheard of these days, so it was a treat. So, Lesson Number One: Just stop for a galldarned minute, Julie, and pay attention to the kid. Then maybe he’ll let you work on your huge honking school project that mysteriously had the deadline moved up two weeks (why put the due date in the syllabus as December 6 if it actually needs to be done two weeks earlier for “peer review”?).

And then, predictably, Henry freaked when he came home because he wanted to do the pinecone peanut butter thing, never mind that I asked him pretty much every single day if he wanted to do it, and he said no. He sat on the floor and screamed and cried, and then ran outside, grabbed a pinecone off the tree, brought it into the living room, and started scraping at the seeds with his fingernails. He essentially wanted to undo the whole thing so he could redo it. Never mind that I’d used up all the cheap pb. And that now millet was flying all over the living room.

It took every fiber of my being not to freak out back at him, because it was, frankly, fairly annoying. But the Good Mom Angel who sometimes alights on my shoulder reminded me that it would also be annoying for me to lose my crackers. And so I took the four seconds to put myself in his head, and said, “You’re feeling left out, because we did something without you.” Which is totally what it was. He maybe didn’t need to shriek at me, “Yes! I felt left out!” but I understand that when you’re all ramped up it takes some time to float back to earth. So then I went on at length about how left out Eli and I feel, that Henry gets to do all this awesome stuff in kindergarten, and we essentially sit at home and wait for him to come back. And that the pinecone thing was like the only thing we did for weeks (well, except for baking, but I didn’t bring that up). And then amazingly he felt all bad for me, and ran to his backpack, and started pulling out all this schoolwork, saying, “Here! I’m going to show you what I did so you don’t feel left out!”

Phew. So, Lesson Number Two: Breathe, don’t freak, and put yourself in their shoes. (Sublesson Number Two-A: Even if he says he’s not hungry, he still needs some kind of snack when he gets home. He started eating the peanut butter off the pine cone, and cheered up immensely when I just handed him a spoon and the jar of our regular pb.) (Ok, yeah, so maybe it’s kind of gross and decadent, but this was still mid-freak-out, and it was a triage snack.)

(Random p.s. to this post: Zuzu above is modeling a vestige of when World of Julie had much more time on her hands.)


  1. Emily

    Do you not think it’s incredible, how all your children look EXACTLY alike when they are little, but then grow to have their own faces? It makes me wonder a little if they will regrow to look exactly like each other when they get old, like is happening to me looking like my sister a little now. Or perhaps, after producing 3 of them, and while trying to prevent peanut-butter from being ground into the carpet, the miracle of genetics is really not that fascinating.

    Note: above i just spelled incredible, “increadible” which is always my first go to spelling and won’t be cured of it until you offer me some mnemonic device not to…as you did once, informing me, “look at all those developes bounding across the plain!” after which I have always remembered that there is no “e” in develop.

  2. Julie

    Oh yes yes definitely it totally freaks me out that my kids all look exactly alike as babies. And I feel kind of bad about it for Zuzu, because I don’t really view her much as Zuzu, but as “one of the babies” because not only does she look like the boys did, she acts like it too (with the wonderful exception being the fact that she SLEEPS! EVERYONE TAKE A MOMENT TO KNEEL DOWN AND SAY HURRAY ZUZU!). It is, frankly, a little odd but also kind of cool that we seem to produce one kind of baby.

    Hahaha developes. I like saying incredible the way you’ve misspelled it: “increeeeedible” so I’m not sure I can think of a mnemonic device. Also, reading is incredible, whereas red is only sometimes incredible, so that’s a reverse mnemonic, if there is such a thing.

  3. Beth

    Oh God, I can so relate to the pinecone tantrum story. Isn’t it funny how, when we repeat what our kids are upset about, it tends to calm them down? I started doing that after reading that book “how to listen so kids will talk and talk so kids will listen, and listen, and talk, and kids, and you, and and and…” (sorry, that book title just never ends.) I wonder how much of their day is spent in frustration that they are not being heard, or that they can’t make themselves understood, or that they have very little power at all, really. (On the plus side, they have very few responsibilities and get to wear underwear on their head for any old occasion, not just Christmas, like we do in our family. Ahem.) Anyway, I’m really impressed with how you handled that one. Have I ever told you what a great mom I think you are? Really. I’m going to remember your calm the next time I want to scream, “noooooooo! Don’t wipe your boogers on the bottom of the sofa!!!” (Or whatever the case may be.)

  4. Julie

    Well, thank you. And sofa boogers are a completely different story. They cannot be tolerated.

    The whole talking so they’ll listening and listening so they’ll talk (and cooking so they’ll eat, and eating so they’ll cook, etc.) is total common sense but so so so hard to put into practice on a daily basis.

  5. Christina

    Thank you for writing this! nora is too young to do crafts obviously (well we tried fingerpaints- she stepped in the pile of paint and then walked off- with a purple foot) but when I read some of these blogs (ahem, soulemama and the like) I think “can this be true??!” are all these blogger children all so excited to do crafts every second- so focused and productive and calm and lovely???
    NOra would totally love to steal your slide- she was so pleased with that slide.

  6. Julie

    Frankly, I don’t understand how a lot of these bloggers can do crafts and all the other things in life, like, you know, basic hygiene. Maybe if I had a nanny or a maid or chef or something then I could figure out how to be creative and work it in to our day (not that I think those crafty bloggers have maids…I honestly am not sure what they’re leaving out in their lives to make calm crafty moments happen).

    I think there’s a lot to be said for just having the art supplies available and encouraging art to happen. You don’t need to always sit down and make it a Scheduled Event.

  7. Elizabeth

    Julie, from your blog, it LOOKS like you do many, many cool and creative things with your kids – your most recent owl cookie activity, for instance.

    In fact, I was thinking that maybe if I had a blog, my life would actually SEEM more productive and interesting…even to me. The other morning, I was running and there were some beautiful, brilliant, tiny orange leaves beneath my feet, and I thought, “If I had a blog, I could whip out my little digital camera and put this on there. And THEN, if I make some soup and biscuits for dinner, let’s say, and some apple crisp from the apples in our yard, I could take a photo of THAT and post it. And I could take a photo of that Lego structure that Isaac built in his playroom and post that. And if I break out the watercolors, I could put his painting on there, too.”

    Now, if I were asked how often I actually take a bath and shave my legs, well, that would be another story. And I only have ONE child.

    I have decided to just “go with it” when Isaac wants to cut up paper and attack it with scotch tape. My parents certainly never planned any crafty activities for me…and for what it’s worth, I ended up at art school.

  8. Elizabeth

    p.s. Love the underwear on the head. Not to mention Henry’s Clean Laundry Get-Up.

  9. Julie

    Liz, it sounds like it’s time for you to start your own blog! But yeah, what you say is totally true: the most mundane daily activity can seem much more artistic if you photograph it and post it on the web. Coming this week: artistic laundry folding and photos of our dust-the-furniture dance-a-thon! (kidding)


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