Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Latest Hang-Up



Over recent months I have been busily developing a complex that I am the aunt who gives the dodgy birthday presents. For all I know, I have the reputation for foisting the kid equivalent of soap-on-a-rope or a seven pack of beige undies upon nieces, nephews and other birthdaying school-aged persons.

I am also the aunt who upon entering a large toy shop has been known to mutter like a crazed nutter. Plastic McDonald’s play food to instil an early understanding of nutritional balance? Bratz doll to teach your young diva a healthy respect for her body and pine for an ever larger head? Branded, co-ordinated outfit to match bedlinen, television viewing, books, schoolbag, lunchbox, breakfast cereal, toothbrush...?

Only the third paragraph in and I’ve come across all wholegrain and soap box. While I would infinitely prefer to steer well clear of branded toys and cheap plastic destined for landfill within two weeks, we do have some of this stuff around our place – often gifted by concerned relatives at birthdays and Christmas. If they aren’t used, these toys are donated at the earliest opportunity to the local op shop, (although a screechingly vile musical instrument will one day realise a less worthy demise, when this Mum finally comes over all heavy metal and guitar thrashing).

I’m pretty sure a computer game or two, would make things a lot easier these wintry school holidays, but so far, as far as I can tell – and my radar is up – my kids aren’t ‘missing out’. They attend a Steiner school, so the pressure isn’t yet there to own the latest fad or gadgetry. To date, they do have an appreciation for far simpler play things and, oh so importantly, they do have imaginations that soar up to the sky. I know the clock is ticking before they start to spread their wings wider, but in the meanwhile I am very happy to protect a childhood for as long as I can. Plenty of time for the real world later.

So what to give my seven year old’s three birthdaying classmates on Sunday? After detailed art direction from the party goer and strict quality control...



... these wheat bags were given the thumbs up (no doubt only because our house is FREEZING). There is every possibility each wheat bag is competing with the complete set of something highly kid-covetable that I wouldn’t know about because I’m living with my head in the sand. But three birthday kids will be warmly tucked up in their beds and I’ll be sleeping soundly at night.



Wheat bags based on the pattern by Claire of Loobylu fame and found in Pip’s excellent book. Stash fabrics including bits and bobs of Auntie Cookie.

46 comments:

Grace said...

Too funny! I have the reputation as the aunt/friend that only gives educational gifts (and sometimes handmade gifts).

These critters are perfect. Lucky classmates.

How lucky to have a Steiner school near you. My dear friend from Sweden told me all about Waldorf schools - a nice concept. I homeschool our kids here in the states...

Anonymous said...

T
Do those things only come in kid's sizes...? They're fab.

And we do love it when you get on your soap box.
W

lesthook said...

I think they are perfectly adorable! Great choice!

Umatji said...

3 cheers for you! I am also that aunty. Funny old black sheep with enviro friendly washed wool on its back! Still - I always figure we widen the world for some kids and every now and then the glow from some poor old plastic surrounded kid is amazing. I made my neices dolls of themselves, their mum, dad, nana, popa and dog and despite all the adults thinking it was mad they love them and I got great joy. They are still in use 2 years later. I should dig up a photo...

--ginger. said...

LOVE these. And I'm going to be honest: even though I like to sew, I haven't jumped on the softie-making wagon yet. I'm sort of on the side of the road staring uncertainly at all those ladies on the hayride. You might have gotten me on these, tho. Dangit. They're funny. Good job.

fi said...

i do love a heat pack and SO cute too!

CurlyPops said...

I do wonder how much longer I'm going to get away with the handmade / homemade pressies before they start getting chucked straight back at me!

m.e (Cathie) said...

can you be my aunt for a year!! I'd LOVE your pressies aunty T. ohhh, such cute wheat bags :)

Kylie said...

What a great idea - We are in need of them here today too - it is freezing!

Nikki Cardigan said...

Oh Tania... you are so clever! They are gorgeous and perfect. As usual, I loved reading your 'thoughts' and there was lots of nodding over here in agreeance. I like you for your mind, not only your creative talents!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm with you I would much prefer presents made with love..It's funny as I looked at your gorgeous creations I thought "Tarn would love the heat packs I discovered called 'Winter babies' by Rusty Rose"..until I read further and realised yours a wheat bags also!
Just like your beautiful photo my two girls also cuddle their Winter babies!
Love Jen xo

Christina Lowry said...

Let me join your club and cheer for you on your soap box. I too am the educational and handmade gift giving aunty! And I want the same for my bubba.

Before my baby shower I let it be known to all that Cohen was not having a themed bedroom and there would be no matching sheets and curtains please. It was a success. I couldn't begrudge the few Beatrix Potter and Winnie the Pooh things we did receive. But at least there was no Bob the Builder clothes, curtains, toys, sheets and toothbrushes! (His sheets and his curtains were both handmade by my Mum.)

I have dropped hints to family and friends that we would like Cohen to have education and handmade gifts for birthdays and Christmas and no junk food or sugar. Lets see how that goes. I'm sure I will have concerned family sneaking him sweets and plastic toys too!
:)

daylesford organics said...

Love them!
Can you imagine snuggling up in bed with a Bratz doll? ugh! What if her leg fell off? My girls have been given masses of plastic and named brand toys over the years but the ones they choose to sleep with are the slightly wonky, handmade from scraps and love ones.

Bowlby said...

Adorable! I'm sure they'll be a big hit.

(P.S. Your Bratz comment made me laugh out loud!)

Mel said...

Firstly, they are super gorgeous and VERY well made. Excellent combo's of colours and fabrics there.

Secondly is there room on your soap box? Cause I'll climb up and join your rant. Here, here to everything you wrote!

I am the Aunty/friend/parent who up to now has given books but since getting my sewing machine I will be joining your home made ranks!

Rant and sew on I say!

Becky said...

I have these bookmarked as one of my next sewing projects.

Handmade or Educational is the way to go and so far this year all my given gifts have fallen into one, or both of those categories :)

Kenny said...

great present.
thanks for your lovely comments too.
xx

Kylie said...

I've been laughing out loud here - no, let's be honest, gaffawing is the right word! So much so that my 12 and 9 year old daughters have come rushing in to see what's so funny. I asked them if they'd feel cheated getting one of your softies as a gift and they said, "No Way! They're awesome!"... So, there you go soap-on-a-rope aunty - they're awesome! :) K

.girl ferment. said...

sorry the comment from kenny was actually me
oops someone else was signed in on my computer
xx

Bec said...

These are awesome!!! I made wheat bags for my kids after they kept stealing mine, and they love them!!! And they weren't anywhere near as cool as yours :)

Peta @ Pippiwillow said...

Hiya Tania, Every home made & hand sewn bit of me was nodding in complete agreement. I too, am 'that' aunty & while they are still so small they tend to love the Pippiwillow creations.

Our family & friends are acutely aware of our opposition to licensed, branded, and generally inappropriate for the age group type toys..

Upon my soap box I will further add that the child is most likely to remember the toy you made & it will most like not be in landfill but still in use. I could continue my rant ...but I won't!
I love that in the face of 'quasi gift giving adversity' your kids are the guide and you all stay true to your family philosophy..ACE
Peta

Sandra @ Pepperberry & Co. said...

They are gorgeous, and perfect, and exactly what I'd want given to my kids... if I ever made the mistake of having any :-) You should sell those on Etsy/MadeIt!

Gina said...

Aaaaaahhhhhh. They're perfect. Been thinking of making that little item from the book but just stumped on what wheat to buy actually. But they're super cute. And I really really want to be like you when I grow up re: the kids' toys. Must wean toddler off Thomas the Tank Engine.
Bratz dolls - shudder - glad I don't have girls. Yet.
PS could you write a boring post now? Cant. Stop. Commenting.

Maree said...

Can Understand where you are coming from...Yeah! for you for making a Handmade Gift...They are Great & Child is never to old to learn the value of Handmade...
cheers

Madeline said...

Love those. And, yes, yes, yes! Childhood is in dire need of protection. Don't get me started, or we'll be here all day. ;)

natalie said...

I love them, and i want one too and I don't even live in a cold climate.

ick and ooo said...

I had this very conversation with my four year old yesterday about why we don't own a car and why we don't need plastic toys...so rant on!

Love the wheatbags.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

"Didn't exist in my day "...... I was born in the '40s and find myself saying this increasingly ! But my best birthday present ever , when I was 10 or so , was a knock-off made by a lovely aunt . She drew the Borrowers on cardboard for me and I still have them . I would definitely have loved a warm cuddly version too ! Sonata .

Bird Bath said...

love those cuddly wheat bags..of course they will be treasured!

M* (Melanie) said...

The wheatbags look great and would no doubt be appreciated by 7 yo's. My 10 yo loves hers and it isn't as special as the ones you've made!

Melanie said...

It's a worthy soapbox to be on :) Sadly we have all too many of the undesirable toys in our house, because certain family members just won't pay attention, and it turns out I am really bad at getting rid of stuff! Must divert the kids' attention someday soon and do a huge chuck. And then make some cute 'n' cuddly wheat bags ;)

said...

oh! how i understand you... i am the same "aunt" and let me tell you, i am also the aunt who my nephew askes me to teach knit, but his parents wont allow it! so, i told him - listen, when you're older, they won't have a say in it:D

this year he asked me to make him a pair of socks, and he really loved them too:)

Stéphanie said...

Lovely !

A Spoonful Of Sugar said...

Cute and practical! No doubt they will be a big hit with the recipients. We are not big fans of branded plastic either.

Sandrine said...

Love the photo you posted, such a sense of calm and balance there!I agree a lot of the "toys" kids get do not nourish their great creativity...I find the girls will always have so much fun with card board boxes and bits and pieces they find...That reassure me in a way!I am sure your lovely creations will be greatly appreciated;)

Launi said...

We are soooo with you on the crazy toys out these days. I have the nerve to make the grandbabies cuddly toys--because what is in most stores scares the heck out of me.
Good for you for seeing all this while you are so young.

karin said...

Those wheat bags look great. Any little one (or big one for that matter) would be lucky to receive those as a present!

Christy said...

hi tania! these little critters look so darling! Well done!

Lauren said...

Love them! Great post too...I'm known as the 'book giver'

handmaiden said...

I am the aunt who gives homeade too now and loved for it.......yours are so cute and sure to be much loved

Cindy said...

I think that you should so make a Bratz inspried one with her gorgeous cozy big head. Seriously - these are just too cute. I think I will have to make Poppy and Caleb one

sushipie said...

even if your children veer toward commercialism as they get older, it will probably only last for awhile when that moment of tremendous appreciation for what you taught them sinks in. ♥

xoxo,
sp

sushipie said...

when = until

I Purr-Furr to Craft said...

this is too cool for words! Love the wheat bags. You don't have to be 7 to appreciate them. I recon the whole class will want them!

merrymntnmom said...

Don't you think all kids deserve at least ONE aunt like us? Have a great day!

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