I don't know why I call in sick for Frances, ever. Sure, she has a bad cold with a nasty cough. She is also bubbling over with energy and I can barely get her to sit still long enough to watch Rudolph for the 92nd time this season.
(Superstitious Aside: This is our first significant cold of the season, though, and it's December! Hallelujah. That immunity thing is kicking in at last. Now, to appease the angry spirits, I will ritually knock on the wooden table while turning in a circle three times and humming.)
My memories of my own sick days as a child consist almost entirely of lying down on the couch, watching TV or reading stacks of novels, doing jumping jacks in bed to try to drive up my temperature before my mother appeared with the thermometer. It bears no resemblance to Frances's sick days.
She took out the Ed Emberley Christmas drawing book and did a few pages of reindeers, santas, and sleighs. She opened the princess art set she got for her birthday and did a few watercolour paintings using stencils. She opened the window clingers package and started a picture of a lamb. She made a few christmas cards, used specialty scissors to cut a few other cards into interesting shapes, and made a new shirt for baby eloise out of green construction paper, metallic crayons and sticky tape. She used snowflake stamps on the cards and scrupulously cleaned each one with the stamp cleaner. And she practiced her running stitch.
A couple of months ago I bought a cheap cushion form from Ikea ($5), brought it home and let it sit on the couch while I thought about cushion covers. I could buy one (for 4x the cost of the form) or make one. I had plenty of fabric. I chopped up a bunch of old t-shirts but none of them yielded big enough pieces for the cover, so instead I took out some scrap faux suede from a skirt I made a couple of years back and whipped up a quick cover with a flap-back. Then I told Frances to draw me a butterfly, transferred it on to the front panel of the cushion cover and back-stitched over it with wool yarn, and filled in the dots with seed stitches. When I was done Frances and I had a collaborative cushion which we are both very proud of. (That's the cushion at the top of the post, along with Frances's sketch and my tracing paper transfer. I wish I could take credit for the idea but I got it from Amanda Soule's The Creative Family.)
It took me probably about five hours to stitch the butterfly on to the cushion cover, and during that time Frances sat beside me, on the couch, sewing. I got her a scrap of plastic canvas, a big blunt plastic needle and a bit of tapestry thread. And we ended up with something like this.
Fast forward to this weekend: Greg and I made a pile of christmas cards, and I took the opportunity to dig out all of my christmas magazines. I also had a couple of sneaky card ideas after he left that had me digging through the cross-stitch mags, and since then I've been spending a couple of hours stitching up santas and snowmen. Frances was not going to be left out, so she picked up her plastic canvas again and I taught her how to do a running stitch
I even let her graduate to a metal 22-gauge tapestry needle and a bit of aida cloth (made for cross-stitching) and perforated paper. And look!
Running stitches! Nice, even, brightly rainbow-coloured metallic running stitches. She learned how to undo mistakes by going back through the hole she'd just come out of; and when I congratulated her on this, she said: "Mummy. It's just practice."
OK, so it's hard to see--look at the bottom of the beige perforated paper. That slightly darker dotted line is the running stitch. And yes, she did it all by herself.
But I don't care how wholesome and productive we've been today. Tomorrow, she's going to school.