Everything changes when you have an almost-three-year-old around the house. For one thing, exhaustion is more frequent (well, count that magnified, with another pregnancy). But on a more joyful, thankful, wonder-inspiring note, Christmas takes on its true magic again: the tree is a marvelous sparkling wonderland of friends who enjoy being taken off to go on adventures around the house; blow up snowmen and Nativity scenes (Carroll Gardens at the height of its decorating prowess, or should I give Halloween that distinction?) are transformed from sinister into sweet; advent candles are special each time; the advent calendar is a mysterious treasure trove; the manger is a holy place again; Jesus is really and truly the sweetest baby Ever.

In honor of seeing the celebration of Jesus's birth through my daughter's eyes, I finally spent some time making--constructing, painting, sewing.  All activities that I say I want to do every day, but usually find excuses not to do. For once, the excuses didn't hold up, and I needed to finish these projects:

The Advent Calendar. A fabric monstrosity I had started cutting and sewing a whole year ago, but which I had given up around Dec. 10, 2010, and which gathered dust for much of 2011 until I put it away in a box for safe keeping. This project needed to be finished, simply because three-year-old girls love to find special treasures in little pockets:
Notice many of the squares/pockets are leaning to the right: I don't seem to be able to sew a straight line. As always with my paintings (particularly technical details like "can you paint acrylic over oil? Hmm, I know you're not supposed to but hey, who said this painting is going to end up in the Met?") and many other of my creations: completion wins out over precision.

So then of course I had to make some treasures to go in those pockets:
This nativity set was my first foray into painting those sweet wooden dolls I love. 
Arranging, especially when it involves a line of objects, or a family, is one of the top activities these days.
The nativity family grows each day, it keeps getting re-worked into new arrangements, like this one:  "Jesus and His family, and a Cup Family."

Mary, Joseph, Jesus and the Angel went to sleep inside a bed made of Tegu blocks. If you can't find Joseph, it's because he's really cozy under that last block on the left. Camel is also having a relaxing moment.

The wreath: made from seeded eucalyptus and seeds of all kinds that Noli and I painted gold, silver and white: 

Featured here are the ubiquitous acorn which never gets old, and the amazing Linden which grows all over Brooklyn, with its whimsical collections of seeds that pop out of the leaves themselves.

Of course we had to feature a magnolia pod. Painted white on Magnolia's suggestion. Good call. I had wanted to stick to just gold and silver for the painted seeds, but the white gave more depth to the finished look.
And finally, the stocking. Sean and I have had these lovely felt stockings made by Hable Construction--a stripey and a Peace--for a few years, and I had been wanting to make another comparable stocking for Noli. It finally happened, with this green one on the left:

Here's hoping we can maintain this energy of creating throughout 2012. It's so much more fun this way.