It’s been a little difficult to get into the Christmas spirit this year. We skipped the usual holiday season kickoff of Thanksgiving dinner in favor of a 6-day trip to Zanzibar (which was awesome). Remove turkey and cranberries, add 90-degree temps, and you find yourself on a slippery slope to wondering whether your daughter will notice that Santa hasn’t come this year.

We recently unpacked our single box of Christmas decorations, which is rife with super-high-quality ornaments purchased in Mexico seven years ago during a blue & silver binge. Dar isn’t exactly rife with Christmas tree farms, though, so there wasn’t a clear plan of how to put them to use. I vaguely recalled seeing a video of a Christmas tree crafted from cardboard on a Facebook page for U.S. embassy employees/spouses across the world (who, like us, are rich in nothing if not cardboard moving boxes). But she lost me as soon as I saw a can of spray paint & concentric circles.

It did leave me with a mild case of heat-induced craftiness. Plus guilt on behalf of our child who would otherwise be spending her holiday season sweaty & unfestive. A quick Google Image Search led me to the bright orange ladder that the embassy maintenance team had recently dropped off at our house. Sure, I’m guessing their assumption was that its primary use case would be for home repairs and not home decor, but what could possibly go wrong around here in the middle of African summer? 😉

Our starting point: this stylish, bright orange ladder.

Our starting point: this stylish, bright orange ladder.

And that’s how John and I ended up putting Paige to bed and having a hot Saturday night of him organizing our kitchen cabinets & me gift-wrapping the legs of a ladder. The next day, I convinced him to put his electrical engineering degree to good use.

John did the heavy thinking on optimal ladder-leg-wrapping strategies for the lights. Or as he described it, "Can you draw a line to the end of this maze without lifting up your pencil?"

John did the heavy lifting on optimal ladder-leg-wrapping strategies for the lights. Or as he described it, “Can you draw a line to the end of this maze without lifting up your pencil?”

Meanwhile, I strategized on ornament-hanging infrastructure, with my recently-purchased spool of fishing line.

I was so smitten by this project that I sacrificed one of our most-favored cooling racks (that gets used almost every weekend to air our freshly-baked pancakes that get set aside for weekday mornings).

I was so smitten by this project that I sacrificed one of our most-favored cooling racks, which is used almost every Saturday to air our freshly-baked pancakes that get set aside for weekday mornings. I’m steeling myself for a month of floppy flapjacks.

Cooling rack & fishing lines, now mounted beneath the shelf of the ladder.

Cooling rack & fishing lines, now mounted beneath the shelf of the ladder.

I quickly realized that one of the many differences between decorating a ladder & a normal Christmas tree was the child-friendliness of the project. I had grand visions of hanging ornaments as a family while drinking hot cocoa chocolate milk and listening to our “Christmas Cocktail Hour” playlist. (Note Paige’s optimistic smile in the above photo.) Instead, we put Paige to bed and my nimble fingers tied a lot of hooks to fishing line, while visions of spiked eggnog danced in my head. Here’s the finished product.

Ta-dah!!

Ta-dah!!  (Topping the tree is one of my few remaining Muffy VanderBears, the costumed stuffed bear collection that was going to pay for my mom’s retirement & my college education until the bottom *unexpectedly* fell out of the Muffy market.)

And a nighttime view. When you look at the reflection in our TV, it even looks like *a real Christmas tree.*

And a nighttime view. When you look at the reflection in our TV, it even looks like *a real Christmas tree.*

And with that, my friends, I’ve officially exhausted my crafty mom reserves for this year & probably the first half of 2017. (Read as: this baby is definitely not getting a baby book.) But Paige spent at least 20 minutes today either staring at it or listing off her favorite ornaments, so I’m feeling somewhat vindicated.

I know posting frequency has been a bit slow, but rest assured I’ve been saving up riveting stories to share while I’m off freezing in Minnesota come 2017. 😉 We’ll be in Tanzania through the holidays, but then Paige & I head back to the US in early January to start BabyWatch 2017. John will join us in February, hopefully just before baby boy arrives on the scene (ETA Feb 25). Then we’ll all head back to Dar (likely in two waves) come April or early May, depending on both health & logistics.

Happy Holidays to all of you, and please make a snow angle in our honor. Yes, a snow angle.