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Saturday, December 24, 2005

Dinosaurs, Aunt Jen

**Update: All of the laminated stick figures were finished in time!**

Here is the project of my heart this Christmas, and the project that almost didn't happen.
It is a puppet theater for my nephew, Jordan. Actually, there is still one element of this gift that might still not happen, but more on that in a bit. First, a few pictures

The front of the theater, and the puppets



Detail of the side panels





Laminated characters (only 2!)



So, where should I begin? I guess I'll start with where I got the puppets. The weekend before Thanksgiving, I went to a silent charity auction with a friend. It was for a Junior Women's League, (who BTW are not too "junior" anymore. Does anyone else worry that societies like the Elks and Women's Leagues are going to die out with the WWII generation? I do - I'm only 30, but I want to join!) Anyway, I bid with the intent to win on two items - the 4 dinosaur puppets, and a fondue set from Crate & Barrel. Well, I did not bid wisely on the fondue set, as there was only one other woman bidding on it, and we just kept upping each other by a dollar each time until she passed my limit. I should have waited until just before they closed bidding, and sniped her (haven't I learned anything from Ebay all of these years?) But, I did win the puppets. Always trying to keep a theme, I bought/made the gifts for our other nieces and nephews based on pretend play - the puppers, which you saw, and dress-up sets (store-bought, sadly).

Despite this being the craft idea that influenced so many other things, it was one of the last projects to get done. I really don't know why. This morning as I'm starting to clean the house for Sunday's dinner, tripping over mounds of laundry put on hold until the roto-rooter guy got here to snake two of our drains, and wondering how crazy the grocery store was going to be if I got there after noon, let alone when I was going to have time to finish the theater, I heard the voice of my knight in shining armor "I decided just to stay home today - Do you want me to start painting Jordan's theater thingy?" I mean, I cannot tell you how much this meant to me!! This is not my husband's usual M.O. But, the gift means even more now that both of us worked on it. And, he was an art major after all, so who better for the job? I felt a burden lifting from my shoulders, and even hummed a few Christmas tunes as I scraped a month's worth of crud off the kitchen counter (cleaning has not been a priority this month with all the projects going on). The roto-rooter guy even came earlier than expected - it was almost blissful at our house.

With the theater painted, and BT headed off to see his "other family," the guys, for a night of Christmas poker. The spell was broken, but the theater remained (so I know it was not a dream).

Back to reality, and tomorrow's deadline for distributing gifts to BT's family. I finished the curtains for the theater, and a bag for the dinosaurs. I started to make little clip art cut-outs that Jordan (age 4) can use as part of his act. But the Zyron ran out after only laminating two! Do you know how much refills for those babies cost? Wahhhh.... Regardless, I am a woman on a mission, and we will be making a stop at Michaels tomorrow for one on the way out to BT's mom's house, and I will finish this gift! It is really not an option - I have come too far to fail now!

About the title for this post, it is in reference to something Jordan said when he was about 2 1/2 and we went to a dinosaur exhibit at the zoo (replicas of dinosaurs set up in a forest setting). Jordan just kept saying, "Dinosaurs, Aunt Jen - Dinosaurs." It became like a mantra for him. I was just so tickled that he knew my name at that age, and that he wanted to make sure I was seeing the dinosaurs, too. Now that Jordan is four, he has developed a quirky attitude.
He does not like large groups, including, at times, his large extended family. While is brother is out there being the ham of the century, Jordan usually runs and hides if the group's attention shifts towards him. The last family function we were at, he spent most of the evening rolled up in a blanket in the middle of the floor. He would make dinosaur noises occasionally, just so we did not forget about him, but would roll up under the blanket again if someone called his name. This may sound totally bizarre to you, but you just have to know the kid - he is very smart, and he's very sociable when only a few family members are present. So, anyway, I thought the puppet theater would be a good way for him to make everyone laugh, but remain out of view.

And, finally, what's my deal with puppets? Maybe it was too much Sesame Street, Muppets, or Fraggle Rock when I was young, but I just love 'em. Maybe I too like the idea of being behind the scenes making everyone laugh. In closing, here is my most favorite favorite picture

"The Dragon is Slain!"



Children watching the story of "Saint George and the Dragon," at the puppet theater in the Tuileries, Paris, 1963. Alfred Eisenstaedt, for Life Magazine.

I will post more about this picture sometime, like the story behind the brother and sister in the bottom right-hand corner - perhaps once I stop haunting the photography galleries and just buy a print already...

Can you believe it? Christmas is almost here!

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