From the small ones...
The familiar sound of bricks rattling told me that there was lego inside and on opening it I did indeed just find lots of small red and yellow lego floating about, which I was quite puzzled by. However, there was also an instruction manual included and I found that they had made me my own 'build a sewing machine kit' with photographs of each stage of construction to help me to put it together. Mr Teacakes had helped them photograph each bit, but apparently they had spent well over an hour studying all the bits of my sewing machine while trying to find suitable bits of the lego to represent the fly wheel, needle and controls. It was one of the most surprising and definitely the most lovely gift that I've ever been given.
It's hard to explain why it made me quite so happy and why it's now one of my most treasured possessions, but I think it's something to do with the care that they took and that it shows how very well they know me and because I can imagine just how excited they would have been while they were designing it. Also because on Christmas day when we went downstairs and saw that Father Christmas had come and filled up their stockings and left presents for them beneath the tree, they actually made me open their present before they opened any of their own....their excitement at giving it to me was completely magical and nearly made me cry. So now it lives here next to my set of Russian dolls that my Mama gave to me last year and every day it makes me smile with its loveliness.
The week before Christmas we spent a day making their presents to give to grandparents and other lovelies. Zebra-girl had written a lovely story about an owl who couldn't fly, so we scanned it into the computer and made it into little books, which we bound with colourful ribbons.
Dinosaur-boy made pictures for everyone. First he created a large collage sheet of fabrics, glitter and feathers, then on each card he drew a picture or traced around a cookie-cutter, which I cut out for him. We then stuck a section of his collage sheet behind the cut out and he wrote what each stencil was in his most careful cursive handwriting. It was so hard giving them away...I wanted to keep them for myself.
Finally they wanted to use the sewing machine to make bean-filled frogs for their favourite friends - a really easy project for them to do, where they can trace round and cut out the pattern, understand which bits need to be sewn together easily and enjoy filling them with beans and picking beads for me to sew on for eyes (is it the way I'm teaching it or are buttons and beads the most difficult things for children to learn to sew on? - mine find it so frustrating that I tend to do it for them). However, a non-sewing related hand injury meant that mid-project Zebra-girl had to sit nursing a bandaged hand while I finished hers off for her.
Our igloo was still standing this evening, but despite the fact that he could put all his weight on top of it without it showing any sign of movement, Mr Teacakes became concerned about the feline health and safety implications of the structure. Our cats loved going in there as soon they went outside and he had images of them being crushed by a whole garden full of snow collapsing upon them, so it has now been deconstructed and compacted into the most enormous pile of the snow that no one is likely to be capable of sheltering beneath, but that will be perfect for jumping on tomorrow morning.