Thankful, But….

by Stefani on 24-November-2008

I know that my thoughts at the moment should be well and firmly rooted on turkey and pie at this moment. 

I know that I should be counting my many blessings, giving up thanks for our abundant life and gathering with friends and family to celebrate our bounty. 


And I am, don't get me wrong, I LOVE Thanksgiving. 

Any holiday that involves gobs of food (most particularly several kinds of pie) suits me and my elastic waistband just fine. 

Truly, Thanksgiving is such a nice start to the holidays… just a chance to gather and be warm and merry and grateful for right here, right now. No other expectations, just joy. 

Of course it would be a nice Thanksgiving miracle if my Ags managed somehow, someway, to rise above their sorry season and take Texas down on the football field, but I digress… 

Anyhow, yes, I should be focused on Thanksgiving, but little bits of Christmas began to seep into my thinking quite a while back. 

So, I'm going to spend a few days this week showing you some of my kiddos current projects and the Christmas ideas that they've spawned. Maybe they'll give you an idea or two for the young people in your life too. 

First up, for the tinkerers on your list … 


My boys have been after their own "workshop" for some time. We told them that if they were willing to put in the elbow grease to help us fix it up, they could have the old chicken coop (one we used ages ago – it was a BIG mistake, too dark and creepy and not well ventilated to be a good coop). We cut a nice big door, dawned our dust masks and raked 4 year old chicken poo-strewn litter for DAYS. If that doesn't make the next season of World's Most Disgusting Jobs (or whatever that show is called) I don't know what will. They did it though. They put in the work. They helped their Papa build a work bench and now they are ready for tinkering.

Mostly, save for a few "take it apart" sessions with a clock and a radio, it's sat empty. This is primarily because they don't have a good set of tools that fit those small hands. 

So, I'm considering this really nice set from Fat Brain Toys. I like the old fashioned, sturdy, woodsy look of them.

My little tinkers have also grown really interested in Automata, after reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret, and several viewings over at Caberet Mechanical Theater

They've pooled their dollars to buy a few inexpensive wind up toys and then carefully lifted off the plastic plates that cover the workings to "see what goes on inside." They're sure to get a few more of those in their stockings. And perhaps this neat wooden snake automaton kit . I think that might be just the thing. 

Honestly though, just about anything from Edmund Scientific's would send them over the moon. Anytime my boys get their grubby hands on my computer, they find their way to that site. I have to peel them away with my foot braced against the wall – so many fun things to be found there. 

Throughout the week I'll be back with ideas for rock hounds, young naturalists, budding paleontologists and even a thing or two for the resident Migmajig

Oh, and one more totally unrelated but absolutely essential side note… 

My kids LOVE LOVE LOVE clementine oranges. Anytime we come across a sale they insist (beg) that we bring a gross or two home. Then, of course, I find peels strewn here and there. 

Well not long after I got my new (old) dehydrator I decided to pop and few peels in and see what happened. 

As it turns out, dried peels are fantastic fire starters! The oil in them really gets the fire moving, and they smell great while burning too! I'm sure you could dry them in the oven at a low temperature too. 

Be warm and merry, friends!


Natalie November 24, 2008 at 6:26 am

This post makes me believe our boys would be happy to spend time together. Automatons and clementines are everywhere in our home too!

kristin at prairie daze November 24, 2008 at 6:57 am

ha! we’ve been putting our clementine peels in the woodstove as well…only i haven’t been dehydrating them intentionally, just picking them up off the floor.


Sarah Jackson November 24, 2008 at 7:01 am

Thanks for the great ideas! We’re doing a handmade Christmas this year, but cool tools for the kids are the exception to the rule.

I wonder if all my lemon peels would work the same way. We’re overrun with lemons. Hmm….

Barbara November 24, 2008 at 7:47 am

I have this deep conviction that Christmas should be bracketed by Thanksgiving and New Year’s…but I am also already planning and listing and looking ahead to that December holiday. If there’s going to be a lot of handmade goings on, they require pre-planning! But I’m doing my best to keep the KIDS focused on Thanksgiving while I do some prep behind the scenes…so that come December 1st, we can jump into festive winter celebrations full force.

Molly November 24, 2008 at 9:37 am

Mmm. And they smell so good too!

Baba November 24, 2008 at 11:13 am

Thank you for the Orange Peel tip. I am gonna dry some for fire starters now. Will make the house smell nice this winter.

Kelly November 24, 2008 at 2:07 pm

I absolutely love Thanksgiving! It is my most favorite of holidays.
I also love your blog and now my husband is loving it too. I read him your story about the purple migmajig yesterday and then I just sent him the link to Edmund Scientific and he was so excited. He used to pour over the pages of the catalog when he was little. We’ve been looking for a “build your own robot” kit for our 6-year old who is so into robots right now and I think that may be where we get it – and probably a few other things – from. Thanks!

gonzomama November 24, 2008 at 2:27 pm

thank you for those great links!
mine are too young for a lot of that stuff (i’m so tempted by that tool set though), but i’ve bookmarked them for a later date.

i love that picture of your table. those curtain, the table and your beautiful walls in that light – just gorgeous!

melissa s. November 24, 2008 at 3:09 pm

great ideas! i asked my son (4 1/2) what he wanted for Christmas: “to be a paleontologist” he says. so, looking forward to the ‘budding paleontologist’ suggestions!

Relyn November 24, 2008 at 3:28 pm

Oh, thank you for all these wonderful ideas. Especially the orange peel idea. I can not wait to try it.

jessica November 24, 2008 at 3:56 pm

I walked into the grocery only to see boxes and crates of clementines….I love them so much. I never thought of dehydrating them, but I will have to try it out!

molly November 24, 2008 at 5:06 pm

good reading as usual. thanks for the orange peel tip. we are only lacking the slate tile and our fireplace will be done. Hopefullly by christmas.

lora November 24, 2008 at 9:22 pm

My three year old son’s favorite food in the world is clementines and he begs for them when they are for sale at our grocery store too!

He was proud today as I allowed him to go into the fridge and get them himself. He also learned how to peel them and proceeded to peel AND eat three more after the first!

Horray for clementines! =)

k November 25, 2008 at 6:30 am

Just want to start by saying, “WHOOP”
I will have quite a few aggie cadets at my house getting ready for the big march in and coming back for a Turkey dinner! I just hope it is good weather.
I love your blog! As a mom to 4 boys it brings back many happy memories!

Shawn November 25, 2008 at 7:20 am

Thank you, Stefani, for the great gift tips!

elissa Finger November 25, 2008 at 11:45 am

hmmmm…. i’m thankful for elastic waistbands…

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