Thursday, December 31, 2015

Christmas Countdown 2.0 (Week 4)

Hard to believe that Christmas has come and gone and 2015 is coming to a close. It flew by!  Our Christmas countdown is also at an end. Here's what we did the final few days leading up to Christmas.

Day 22:  Christmas Coloring Pages
The original plan for Day 22 was to drive around and look at Christmas lights and decorations in our town... but... it was a really rainy, foggy, cruddy day. Like, the kind in the Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer song. We didn't feel like venturing out, so I pulled these coloring pages out of my "back-up plans in case of uncooperative weather" folder and we "helped" Ry color (meaning we colored and Ry scribbled and we all had a good time).

If you're interested in getting a copy of these pages for the little ones in your life, you can download them here.

Day 23:  Deliver Treats to Neighbors
A few weeks ago, our church ladies' group put together some cookie in a jar mixes and we were each able to take one home. Since we're gluten free, I decided to pass on my cookie mix to one of our neighbors who loves to bake.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Chistmas Countdown 2.0 (Week 3)

As the third week of our Christmas countdown comes to a close, I'm thankful for the many blessings in my life. It's been a busy week, but we were able to spend a few days with family and Ry had such a good time with Grandma and Grampy.

Day 15: Make Snow Angels Nature Walk
Still no snow. I told a friend the other day that I feel like I'm living in a scene from the Bing Crosby movie "White Christmas"... you know, the part where they arrive in Vermont expecting snow and get balmy weather instead? Yep, that's us. As I write this, it's in the high 50's and raining. So no white Christmas for us.

Anyway, Ry and I decided to take advantage of the one nice day we had this week to take a 'hike' up the hill in the woods behind our apartment. Ry did pretty well with the uneven terrain on the way up, but needed help on the way down. (He kept saying "Help. Scary.")

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Christmas Countdown 2.0 (Week 2)

We had a fun second week in our Christmas countdown. We had to make a few minor changes to our original plan because of weather, but that's ok. See what we did this week.

Day 8: "Gingerbread" House
I made Ry a cardboard house and glued on some Velcro so we could 'decorate' the house with felt, pipe cleaners, and pom-pom decorations. I think Ry had more fun 'un-decorating' the house than he did decorating the house. Such is the nature of toddler-hood.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Project Date Night: December

Since December is such a busy month, we decided to go simple with our date night this month.

M was able to get some discounted movie ticket vouchers from his employer to use at any movie. Hmmm.... choices, choices. We decided to see The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, and we loved it!

Funny side note, if you're not into crowds, try going to a movie on a Sunday afternoon. There were about 15 people in the entire theater and we were the youngest ones there.

This was one of our more expensive dates, since we had to get a babysitter.  We joke that we do dinner and a movie - dinner for the babysitter and the movie for us. We don't have a whole lot of teenager approved food at our house, so we get some form of takeout for her when she's here as part of her babysitting deal.

Mockingjay Part 2 received average reviews from the critics, but I loved it.  You can't have a series without wrapping up all the loose ends, and that's what Part 2 is about.  (Not) shockingly enough, my favorite part of the whole movie is that last few minutes, where Katniss finally gets her happy ending. I've been waiting 4 movies for closure and finally... bittersweet, yes. But closure all the same

You can read the synopsis and watch the trailer here.

We've come through an entire year of Project Date Night and I feel it's been a success. I hope our dates this year have in some small way been an inspiration to you and your relationships.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Christmas Countdown 2.0 (Week 1)

As promised, here's a look at the first 7 activities we've done as part of our Christmas Countdown this year.

Day 1: Deck the Halls
Fa-la-la-la-laaaaaa...... Decorating at our house means that I get out the snowflake and Nativity window clings and let Ry stand on his little stool and stick them to the windows. Then, peel them off. Then, stick them on in a different order. Then, peel them off. And repeat.

Then, after he goes to bed, M and I decorate the rest of the house, because I want to actually get the ornaments on the tree without them breaking or being eaten or thrown away. (Ry's newest 'game'. "I help!" he says as he 'cleans up' and throws Mommy's socks, bills, crackers, makeup, etc. in the trash can.)

I confess, I expected to do a LOT more re-decorating of the tree this year, but he's been really good and apparently listened to my lecture (See the pretty tree? Let's keep it pretty and leave the ornaments on the tree. No touch, understand?) We've only had to put ornaments back on once.  Knock on wood.

Day 2: Mom's Choice

I was having a down day and not feeling too well, so Mom's choice was something on the quieter side. I chose to share my favorite Christmas movie with Ry this year - A Charlie Brown Christmas.  It never gets old. Ry's probably a little young for the story and he didn't really get it what it was all about, but he laughed and danced along with the music and seemed to really like Snoopy.

Day 3: Felt Christmas Tree
I think I expected Ry to be more excited about this than he was. It may be that he lumped it together with the rest of the decorations ("no touch") in his mind so it took him a few days before he actually played with it more than once. He's like, "That's nice, Mom. Where's my Legos?" We'll see how much use he gets out of it in the next few weeks.

To make the wall tree, I cut a tree shape out of green felt (about 36 inches tall) and taped it to the wall with double stick tape. Then, I used scraps of colored felt to make "ornaments", candy canes, and a star for the top. I glued some pom-poms and other bits of felt to dress it up a little. I think it came out kind of cute!

Note, I put originally put Velcro on the back of the ornaments so the pieces would stick better, but they ended up sticking too well and when Ry tried to take the ornaments off the felt tree, they pulled the tree off the wall. Hmmm... So I took the Velcro off the ornaments and found that the felt sticks pretty well to itself, so no Velcro needed.

Day 4: Find and Fill Nativity
I got the idea from No Time For Flashcards and adapted it down a little for Ry this year. He's a little young for the scavenger hunt portion, so we just set up his Fisher Price nativity set while I told him who the characters were and how they were important to the Christmas story.

Mom fail moment: He got the nativity set last year and has played with it several time since, so I thought it would be no big deal to do this activity. Our set plays Away In A Manger when you press the angel on the top and apparently, he wasn't expecting that, so it surprised him and he cried. (Probably had a lot to do with it being close to nap time, he can get a little cranky or teary eyed when he's tired.)

He wasn't interested in having anything else to do with the nativity set for a day or two after that, but he's warmed up to it now and I even caught him playing with it by himself yesterday. Next week, I may try sitting with him and removing the characters one at a time and see if he can name them and put them back. Note to self - try this again earlier in the day!

Day 5: Make Cookies
I whipped up some cookie dough and rolled it out, then Ry helped cut out the cookies.  He thought that was fun, but not as much fun as eating the raw cookie dough. "Why bake?" seems to be his motto. I used this gluten free, dairy free, egg free recipe and topped it with some whipped carob icing.

Got to admit, he was as big a fan of the frosted, finished cookies as he was of the raw dough. Kids... there's no accounting for taste... :)

"I don't have cookie dough in my mouth!" Right...

Day 6: Christmas Signing Time
If you know us, you know we're big fans of Signing Time, a series of videos that teaches babies and kids how to use sign language.  It's really helped increase Ry's vocabulary and it's much easier to understand him when he speaks and signs together (although it gets easier to understand his speech as he gets older).

Anyway, I bought the Signing Time Christmas Collection and it was a big hit! We reviewed some of the signs we learned last Christmas and a whole lot of new ones.  I also loved the Christmas (Bible story) musical drama at the end of the video, with the whole drama interpreted in sign. Beautifully done. Best holiday purchase this year, hands down.

Day 7: Christmas Tunes Dance Party
This was a lot of fun. We cranked up our Christmas station on Pandora and I got out our jingle bells and we danced around the living room. Ry has been walking around randomly saying "Jingle Bells" ever since.

Bonus, he was so tired out afterwards, he took an extra long nap. Hmmm... maybe we should do this more often...

Read all the related posts here:

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Christmas Countdown (Advent Calendar) 2.0

Remember my frugal Christmas countdown from last year? It was fun, right? We thought so. We plan to do it again this year.  In case you're new around here, let's recap:

What's the Christmas Countdown?
I wanted to have 1 activity a day December 1-24 that emphasized being together and having fun as a family and de-emphasized the "gimmes" (giving to and serving others). The activities also had to be age appropriate for a toddler, and not focus on food, since we have multiple food allergies and are on a pretty strict diet. Oh, and of course I threw in a few activities just for Mom and Dad.

My holiday season mantra: focus on the give, not the get.

Putting it all Together
This year, I had a little more time on my hands and decided to put together a nicer clip set. I actually printed out the numbers on cardstock, cut the numbers out into squares and mounted them on scrapbook paper. I got a little crafty and used Washi tape to spice up the plain green ones. Overall, I'm pleased with the effect.

New this year: I hot glued the numbers to the clothespins. Last year, I just used double-sided scrapbook sticker squares and we had issues with the numbers coming off the clips. So, I couldn't re-use some of the clips this year and just decided to start over.

We're in a new apartment this year and don't have a fireplace or mantle... where to hang the countdown... hmmm.... solution: I used the burlap twine I'd hung up for my birthday banner.  Worked great!

Last year, I removed the tag each day and put it in a box on the mantel. After a while, I noticed the clothesline looked pretty lopsided (as is the nature of a countdown). That may not bug some of you out there, but I love having some symmetry in my life, so I decided to do things a little differently this year.

New this year, I'll be removing the entire clip each day, turning it around (so you can't see the number) and reattaching the clip without the activity tag. Then, I plan to use that day's clip to display a Christmas card we received in the mail. Solves the symmetry issue, as well as my Christmas card display dilemma. (If those are my only problems, I can count myself blessed, right?)

Mommy's big helper!

Activity Tags
I used 12 recycled Christmas cards (the pretty half with the artwork) and wrote an activity on the back. For the other 12 tags, I used mostly green cardstock and printed the activity onto the back, or used small green envelopes to hold tickets, etc. (like, for date night).

What activities are we doing this year? Glad you asked. All the family and kid activities are age appropriate for toddlers (2-3 year olds), but could probably be adapted for slightly younger or older children depending on their development or interests. You'll notice a few repeats from last year, but there will be quite a few new activities this year as Ry's interests and abilities have changed and grown.

Here's a sneak preview:
  • Find and Fill Nativity Set Activity
  • Painted Paper Plate Wreath Craft
  • Christmas Signing Time DVD
  • Decorate a Cardboard "Gingerbread" House
  • Magnetic Gift Box/Bow Activity
  • Story Time (Christmas Storybook)
  • Wrap Presents
  • Project Date Night: December Edition
  • Package Treats and Deliver to the Neighbors
  • Church Christmas Dinner and Gift Exchange
  • Christmas Eve Service
  • T-shirt Tradition
  • Caroling at the Senior Center
  • Assorted snow related activities... planning for flexibility this year! LET IT SNOW!
  • And MORE....

We're already a few days into the countdown and again, I'm sorry I'm getting this to you too late for you to do the full 24 days, but I hope this post inspires you to spend some quality time with your family this month as we anticipate the celebration of our Lord's birth.

Coming Next!
At the end of each 7 day period, I'll post a recap of what activities we did and how it went. Stay tuned for silliness, nostalgia and poor photography... it'll be awesome!

"See" you soon.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...