Thursday, December 22, 2011

Calling all Potterheads: I need your help.

My goat rodeo this past Halloween.  

We're trying desperately to throw together a surprise trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for this winter, when our twins will be 9 and 3/4.  

I'm putting out a call for help from my fellow Potterheads.  Assuming it all works out (knock on wood), how do we tell the girls?  I plan to not tell them until we're either on our way or the day before we leave.  How do we do that, though?

I've seen invitations for HP-themed parties delivered by balloons decorated to look like owls.  I could do something like that (although, rather than scrolls, I'd probably have them holding envelopes addressed to the girls and their specific room and beds, like Hogwarts' letters).   I could arrange to have those at the front door and ring the bell.  

What about in the van? We could get everything ready the night before (luggage packed and hidden in the back of the van), then just tell the kids we're going out, file into the van and find balloon owls in the girls' seats with letters addressed to them.  Maybe we'll splurge and buy cute stuffed owls.

I'd love some other ideas.  So, fellow HP-fans, what do you think?    

We've never taken a family vacation (deployments made that impossible), so we really want to make the most of this.

FWIW my girls each wrote essays to the Ellen show's call for adventure ideas asking for Harry-themed adventures.  One (Luna in the picture) asked Ellen to reunite her and the friends she had to leave behind when we moved at the WWOHP.  The other (Hermione in the picture) asked Ellen to send us to Kings Cross station when she and her sister turn 9 and 3/4 and have Jo Rowling meet us there so that my girls could present her with an award for "Being the best writer in the world and the whole universe."

We never heard back from Ellen, so we decided to take matters into our own hands and do what we could.

9:17 pm edit:  What about a scavenger hunt?  We could leave clues that lead them to Harry-related things and maybe eventually to the van where the letters will be waiting in their seats.

The picture is from Halloween.  You can read more about our costumes here.  

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Very Potter Xmas

A while back, I pinned these super cute Harry Potter ornaments.  Now, my 2-year-old will be the first to tell you, "Christmas is NOT our holiday," but I knew I'd have to make these for someone and I knew just the person.

Those are obviously loosely based on the Potter Puppet Pals (DUMBLEDORE!), so I took my inspiration from them.  I opted to leave Voldemort and Snape out (much to my kids' dismay.  Severus' absence meant they weren't able to recreate their favorite Puppet Pal song (not that they've ever needed anything extra to sing the song in the past--loudly and in public.  You can't even imagine the looks you get when your 2-year-old yells, "It's a pipe bomb. Yay," at Home Depot).  I, however, added Dumbledore to the mix.  He, however, lacks robes which can be removed (once again, much to the kids' dismay).

The ornament who lived
I free-handed everything and tried to work with what I had on hand.  The heads are from felt.  They're basic round shapes with ears on the sides.  The red hats are cut from the Xmas tree skirts I bought on clearance (I told you they'd come in useful, even for a Jew).  There was still more than enough left for the kids to use as a cape.  I painted all the faces with fabric paint.  Ron and Dumbledore's eyes are the exception.  Those are nail polish.  Ron and Hermione's hair is felt.  Harry's is black duct tape.

On my trip to the craft store, I forgot to grab white felt.  So I had to use white ribbon I had for hat trim and white foam I had on hand for Dumbledore's beard.  There wasn't much which is why it looks a bit thin.

The 9-year-old's work
My oldest and I stitched around the heads and hats.  They're stuffed with sliced up clear plastic packing material.  We have a TON from all the Chanukah gifts, so we put it to good use.  The hats that could be stitched on were.  Dumbledore's couldn't, so it's sewn in the corners and then we used craft glue.

The white puff balls on top of the hats are from a foam menorah kit.  See, even when it comes to making crafts for my Christian folks, I'm still a proud Yid.  They're held on with craft glue.

There are tied bits of yarn on the back for hanging.

I must say, I love Ron.  Now, I've got a thing for sidekicks to begin with and I've always adored book Ron and I think Rupert Grint is pretty damn adorable as well, but I really liked how the Ron ornament turned out.  I didn't want to part with him.  He's cute!

Probably should have paid more attention to the back.
Through this craft, I found my youngest daughter is a Harmony shipper. My 2-year-old broke my canon-loving heart when she insisted on making the Harry ornament kiss Hermione.  My middle insisted, "No, she loves Ron.  Let me go get the Ron ornament and she can kiss him."  The youngest pitched a fit and insisted that was not going to happen.  I put Harry out of her reach after that.  I like Harry too, but, damn she can go Romione or go home.  Wait, this IS home.  Well, that complicates the matter a bit, doesn't it

Romione FTW!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chanukah with the Goat Rodeo

My big 2 in 2006

Tonight, at sundown, Chanukah begins.  No, it's not Chanukah just yet (much to my children's dismay and Facebook's confusion).

I'm going on the assumption that everyone knows what "The Festival of Lights" is all about.  I realize, based on my friends' experiences discussing Chanukah at their kids' schools, that this may not be an accurate assumption.  If you really have no idea about the story of Chanukah, you can always set up a consultation with Rabbi Google.

Luckily, if that's too much effort, the Maccabeats exist.

Chanukah, like nearly every other Jewish holiday, can be summed up as, "They tried to kill us.  We won.  Let's eat."  It is NOT a major holiday at all.  People seem to think it is since it occurs around the same time as a major Christian holiday, but it's actually a pretty minor holiday.  It is NOT the Jewish Christmas (which doesn't even make any sense).

We celebrate in the standard way--lighting the menorah (aka hanukkiah) every night at sundown for 8 nights.

Our family has quite an extensive collection of hanukkiot.

There's the large silver one we bought right after we got married (pictured above).

There's the electric one Bubbe gave us the year before.  It doesn't fulfill the mitzvah (Chanukah candles must burn to do that), though, so we put that one in the window and use it in conjunction with another one.

Anyone who has Jewish children in any sort of religious programming/schooling will tell you we quickly collect far more hand-made hanukkiot than we can use.  We have two clay ones the big girls made in their pre-school Sunday school program 7 years ago.  We had sand ones the big 3 made as part of their yeladim group, but the sand didn't hold up well after being stored in the attic in the Great Big Box o'Chanukah.  What was carefully crafted layers of pretty color sand became a giant mess the following year.  One year, they made some out of painted wood blocks.  Those fell apart before we were able to pack them away.  Last year, they made some out of a long piece of metal, dominoes and nuts (as in nuts and bolts, not food).  They went into the box as hanukkiot  They came out this year as a jumbled mess of parts.

To celebrate, we light the menorah (I usually light the silver one and the kids light the electric one.  The big girls take turns lighting theirs each night) each night, say blessings and sing songs.  Of course, Chanukah hasn't even started yet and I've been randomly bursting out into Sivivon* for more than a week now.

Here's a tidbit you may not have known: traditionally, women don't have to work while the Chanukah candles are burning.  Here's another tidbit: Our hanukkiah holds regular shabbat candles which are about 5x's as thick as the usual Chanukah candles.  ;-)

We eat traditional food cooked in oil to remind us of the story of the oil.  The most well-known ones include latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly donuts).

In our house, the kids get one gift each night, more than one if there are enough.  Some people plan out exactly which gifts to give their kids on each night.  We usually just plan for the first and last.  Back in his youth, my husband got "useful" gifts on some nights (the family cats usually gave him socks or underwear).  That's not our thing, though.  Our pets aren't allowed anywhere near the lingerie department.  The kids usually get toys, books, electronics and/or clothes.  This year, among Journey Girl dolls, DS games, dresses, books, and all things Harry Potter, my middle daughter asked (and will receive) a bath mat.  I don't understand it, but she's fascinated by those plush ones, so we put it on her wish list and Mémé bought it for her.  I can't tell you how thrilled she will be.  I also can't tell you why in the world she asked for one in the first place.  Well, she IS my daughter.  I guess that should be sufficient to explain all.

*The lyrics are slightly different in Israel.  Nes Gadol Haya Sham (A great miracle happened there) becomes "Nes Gadol Haya Po," in Israel (A Great Miracle Happened Here).  Dreidels are also slightly different to reflect that change .  The letters correspond with each word: Nun (Nes), Gimmel (Gadol), Hey (Haya), Shin (Sha), but the Shin is replaced by Pay in Israel.