Sunday, 21 December 2014

It's the most colourful time of the year!

The end of this year has meant the end of an era for us... My littlest offspring has just graduated from preschool, and will be starting big school next year! :):

Through the recent mad rush to get everything I needed/wanted organised before the end of the school year, I've been on a decent sized emotional roller coaster, constantly changing my mind for what to give/make teachers at least a dozen times before being content with what I'd decided. I've concluded that anxiety has completely destroyed my ability to go somewhere, buy something, wrap it up, and be done... And perhaps my addiction to Pinterest is part to blame, also.

One thing I'd noted about the difference between preschool & school, is that at school, your child will predominantly have one teacher. At preschool, Jonathan had 5 teachers. And how do you work out what to give them all without blowing the Christmas budget? Or without it being yet another box of chocolates, or another mug/bookmark to add to their collections that sit unused in the back of the cupboard collecting dust? This year, I wanted to give them all something different and memorable, because they have all impacted both mine and Jonathan's lives in so many lovely ways, and we will remember them well into the future.

So, with many ridiculous hours spent on Pinterest instead of going to sleep (potentially the main reason why the present ideas changed so frequently), I had one of those 'light bulb' moments, and found a gift I could make for the preschool, which included all of Jonathan's teachers!

It was a cake! BUT... it was not one that I'm generally known for making, you know, with an oven, and things like flour, sugar and eggs, etc...

It was a school/stationary supply cake!

Sadly, deciding on the "what" didn't actually make the "what now" and "how" any easier! It took many trips to the shops, many rearrangements, and many hours just staring off into the distance, trying to picture what it could/should/hopefully will look like when it was finished...

One thing I did know, was that it needed to be colourful. I started by buying a gift box as one of the 'tiers', and a few stationary items from a local discount store (don't judge me!). Textas, whiteboard markers and pencils, mainly. And a paper towel holder, as preschool didn't actually have one! (on purpose, perhaps, but it was still something I'd noticed through the year). I figured it was at least a start... The items then basically sat with the box for about a week before I begun assembling it all.

Something else that came to mind when the decision of this kind of cake was decided - was to make home-made play dough for it, because I know that preschool uses play dough! Plus, it's one of the simplest things to make, and I'd made it for Ben's birthday party bags earlier this year. I just refuse to make it for my kids at home because the last time I did, Jonathan filled up his brand new shoes with it... :/

Overall, the process from beginning to end was about 3 weeks.

I loved that exactly 3 packets of textas fitted perfectly around the gift box. It was like I'd actually measured and planned it all! Alternating them upright and upside down, direct from the packet and around the box, held there with rubber bands. Then, like another thing that (eventually) fell into perfect space, was the play dough, that I'd made and put into zip lock bags, and twirled them (lengthways) around the paper towel holder. It meant that I couldn't put the lid on the box, and the play dough acted as the base for the next tier. I'm not sure if you can see in the picture, but in between each of the play dough bags, I also stuck a white board marker.

The next tier came with so much indecisiveness it was ridiculous. Eventually, I cut two lines in the middle of the masking tape packets and slid them down the paper towel holder. I ended up collecting the coloured pencils (making sure that the brightest colours were around the edges, of course!), and slid them over the top of the paper towel holder, to sit nicely on top of the masking tape.

Three packets of blu tac squeezed perfectly around the pencils, too, and everything was held in place by rubber bands, and then tightened together with ribbon.

It was when I wasn't sure what to do with the glue sticks I'd bought (as they had originally been where the coloured pencils ended up), I got some balloon sticks, a hot glue gun, and pieces of cut out paper to make them stand up and out like flowers. Much like 'floating stars, etc' sticking up out of a cake. The sticks fitted in between the gaps of play dough & whiteboard markers. I also stuck the Clag glue pot onto a balloon stick for extra support, and fed it through the middle of the pencils, down to the top of the paper towel holder.

Ribbon in a bow around all the 'tiers', and the supply cake was finished! I was really happy with the way it looked once it was completed with all it's final little touches :)

The final list of ingredients/supplies for the cake:

1 round gift box
1 paper towel holder
3 packets of 24 coloured textas
2 rolls of masking tape
3 packets of 24 coloured pencils
7 whiteboard markers
3 packets of blu tac
4 glue sticks
7 zip-lock bags of home-made play dough
1 pot of glue
Ribbon, cake board, rubber bands & balloon sticks.

It was a heavy cake. But it was really fun to make and decide how each tier was going to look like (again, there were many rearrangements!)

My kids were a bit confused when I had excitedly told them that I was making preschool a cake for Christmas, but all they saw was glue and textas stacked up everywhere...

"Make sure you tell them that it's not a real cake."

But I didn't want to just give this 'cake' to the preschool teachers and leave. So, feeling some poetic inspiration a few days beforehand, I wrote a poem to go with it, which I laminated and gave to preschool with the 'cake':

Tears were shared, hugs were given, and the supply cake was refused to be picked up and moved because it was so heavy, and no-one wanted to break it...

Preschool has been such an important time of Jonathan's life over the last 18 months, and it is surreal, exciting, and yet very sad to be moving onto this next stage! It's happened far too quickly, but we have so many memories to cherish and be reminded of how amazing preschool and it's teachers have been for Jonathan, and for me :)

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