Tag Archives: decoration

The Snowball Effect

First, a bit of history…

I have four large outdoor lounger cushions. I bought them many years ago at an end-of-season clearance sale – the discounted price meant I got all four of them for less than the cost of just one toddler cot so I couldn’t resist. I briefly used them for napping children – they are thicker, wider and longer than other nap mats. They are very comfortable but also very heavy and cumbersome to set up and put away for daily naptime and take up a lot of space so I ended up getting more cots for naps indoors.

The fabric on the lounger cushions is intended for outdoor use so that is where we used them most – for napping or relaxing in tents or on the deck etc. When not in use they were stored in bags in the big shed. During the Vacation 2019 renovation, ‘Frankenshed’ was disassembled and the new toy storage shed was too small to store the large cushions so they were brought back inside and again stored with the other cots and bedding.

The small room off the main playroom is used for napping infants and storage of cots, bedding, books, and bulky items I don’t want to haul down to the basement storage area. This area is still sometimes referred to as the ‘Nature Area’ because I left the trees in there from when this used to be a play area – written about in the Nature Area and the Quiet Space posts.

Now, this is when the snowball began to form…

I recently wanted to use the big cushions for a toddler activity, but found it was very inconvenient to get them off the shelves behind the tree branches. I decided that on the upcoming long weekend I should move the trees into the main playroom. Afterall, though it did look nice having the tree branches forming a canopy over the cribs, it would be wonderful if the trees were in the playroom where everyone could enjoy them.

So, I started looking for the best place to mount the trees in the playroom…and decided that I would first need to move the toy food counter…which then meant I would need to change the block storage area. *sigh* The list of necessary changes continued to grow and after thirty plus hours of demo, rearranging, building and organizing the playroom has been mostly ‘prepped’ for the arrival of the trees but, even with a three-day weekend, there wasn’t enough time to actually move the trees.

I am pleased with the new arrangement – so far – and the children seemed to like it too. All of the children in the current group have only ever seen the trees as decorations in the nap area – never as part of the play space. They are familiar with having other things in the play environment change but probably don’t realize these trees can be relocated. I am certain they will be excited when I manage to complete the project – and with the cushion activity too whenever I get around to that.

There are still a few more little tasks to complete before the trees get moved but hopefully that will be done this weekend. The snowball forming now it the growing list of paperwork that I should be doing 🙂

Dollar Store Mouse

On a weekend shopping trip in early October my husband and I had stopped in at the Dollar Tree to pick up a few items.  The store had many Halloween themed displays and as we perused the aisles we often heard the mice.  Not real mice – these were small, motion activated decorations.  The store staff had placed several of them on shelves throughout the store.  As customers walked past they would trigger the mouse squeaks.

I am easily amused by things like this so of course I wanted one.  Hubby and I thought our cats at home might be tormented like these mice.  We picked up one of the packaged ones from the bin by the checkout.

14-11-mouse01Back at home I unwrapped the mouse and pulled the little tab from the battery compartment.  No squeaking.  My son and I took turns trying to get the mouse to make noise.  We could see the motion sensor but no matter what we tried we couldn’t get it to work.

We decided to take it apart – maybe the battery wasn’t connecting properly.  Once the mechanism was removed from the mouse body it worked fine.  We put it back in the mouse and again could not trigger the sensor.  Defective dollar store mouse.

Having already wasted enough time trying to get the thing to work I gave up and left it sitting on the counter.  Later that evening, when we were sitting in the living room, the mouse on the kitchen counter began to squeak.  No one was in the kitchen – there had been no movement.  Possessed dollar store mouse.

Over the next few weeks the mouse sat on the kitchen counter and continued to squeak randomly.  Sometimes it would go for several days without making any noise. Then one day it would squeak on and off throughout the morning or afternoon and then go silent again.  I’ll admit that it was a little eerie to hear the mouse at night when we were all in bed and the house was dark.

During the day it made me smile when I heard it initiate a conversation – yes, I do often talk to the mouse.  I know, it may not be ‘normal’ but our conversations are often more sensible than some of the conversations I’ve had with toddlers.

Last week the mouse was very vocal.  Sometimes it was very irritating, squeaking almost constantly for several minutes at a time with only brief periods of silence in between outbursts.  I tried moving it to other locations in the kitchen – behind the toaster, in the dark corner beside the fridge, under a towel or even in the bread bin. Still it continued to squeak and ignore my requests that to be quiet.  Annoying dollar store mouse.

It now sits on the plant shelf above the toddler table.  It seems happy there, not complaining as much, back to the occasional squeaking. The toddlers never seemed to notice when it squeaked in the kitchen.  They notice it now – especially at meal times when it interrupts their conversation.  After the mouse squeaks there is always a brief period of silence as the toddlers sit still and stare at each other.

I smile. Mischievous little dollar store mouse. 🙂

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The Christmas Gift

When I signed on for the Post-a-Week 2011 challenge I also began following their daily posts for topic ideas and inspiration.  Many of their suggestions for post topics have been very interesting – some I thought would be fun to answer.  Others like the one from October 2ndIf You Could Change How Schools Work….’ I would have loved to answer but they would have taken a huge amount of time and probably a whole series of posts.  Generally though, I have enough ideas for post topics that I don’t need any more suggestions.

The suggestion from December 11th was one that I couldn’t ignore.  They asked ‘What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?’ I immediately knew my answer to this question.  There was no deliberation, reflection, or consideration.  For me the answer was instantaneous.

I didn’t have time to write that day but I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  I was out shopping for most of the day.  I noticed the items in other carts.  Were these things gifts for others?  Would the recipient think it was the best gift they had ever received?  If so, for how long would the item remain at the top of their list?

I suppose the answer would depend on the recipient’s definition of ‘best’.  Whether the gift was something they desperately needed, had the hottest new technology, or something they considered to be special in some other way. For me the gift that came to mind was not the ‘biggest’ gift or the ‘most expensive’.  The item itself was not particularly rare or unique.  I did not receive this gift from someone who was a prominent part of my life.  However, this gift is the one that I consider the most memorable and it has remained so for more than 40 years.

First, I should start with a little background.  As a child I was extremely withdrawn.  I rarely spoke to anyone – especially not unfamiliar people.  Visiting the homes of family or friends I would sometimes disappear behind the couch or some other large piece of furniture and not come out until my mother announced that it was time to leave. In school I was frequently paralyzed with fear when called on in class – unable to do anything except stare blankly at the teacher.

My father was in the military and when I was 7 years old our family moved to Germany.  Not knowing the language seemed to make my silence a much more acceptable behaviour. We lived in a small town about 20 miles from the air force base.  Our family was befriended by a German family who showed us all the local attractions and taught us about their culture.

As Christmas approached there were many ‘new’ traditions for us to experience.  The decorations are what I remember the most.  One day when we went to visit our German friends there was a Nativity scene set up on a table in their living room. I was immediately drawn to it and spent the remainder of the visit sitting on the floor by the table.  I examined it from every angle mesmerised by the intricate details.

As I gently touched the figurines I remember thinking of all the painstaking work that must have gone into carving each piece.  I’m not really sure if I was ever told that it had been hand made but that was what I envisioned.  I never picked up any one of the pieces – I couldn’t imagine disturbing any part of it.  Everything was so perfectly arranged I was certain that moving a piece would disrupt the entire scene.  Each time we visited our friends’ home I went to the table and stayed there until it was time to leave.

Traditionally our family opened gifts on Christmas morning but our friends’ gift exchange was held on Christmas Eve.  They invited us to attend their evening celebration which began with an outdoor event — some sort of parade or march through the streets of town.  Those details are unclear, it was so long ago.  Afterwards, we returned to their home for the remainder of the evening.

As we gathered in their living room I took my customary place by the Nativity scene, but something was different.  Beside the familiar display there was another table.  On it there was a second Nativity scene – smaller and simpler but still stunning.

As I sat there comparing the two I was vaguely aware that someone was speaking.  I looked up to see our host standing in the doorway.  He smiled at me and said something but I couldn’t understand the foreign words.  I looked at my mother for translation and she said “He’s telling you that that smaller one is yours to keep”.

I still have those figurines.  The original stable I’ve had to replace, it did not survive so many years of moving and storage.  Each Christmas I set it up and remember the day I received it so long ago.  A small gift given to a child who tried so hard not to be noticed – but was.