Friday, December 30, 2011

Completing the Look

No New Year's Eve party would be complete without party hats!  We used the Martha Stewart Party Hats and if you have ever done a M.S. project you will know it's not kid approved.  To speed up time we used a hot glue gun and a paper punch. 

I am good with visual step-by-step instructions and M.S. doesn't offer visual instructions, so if you are like me here they are.

You need two nine-inch circles (child size) and overlap one third of the way.

At 7 o'clock and 5 o'clock (per M.S.) punch or slit two holes and insert 12" ribbon.  To make the hat you wrap in a circle until you have your desired shape. 

Our finished NYE party hats!  Mister put so much glue and glitter that my husband had to hold up his hat.  Once again the Wee One was interested in glitter only.   

Thursday, December 29, 2011

If It Isn't Loud Enough

One day my husband told me that now that the twins were three it would start to get quieter in our house.  My response was laughter.  Hunched over laughter.  Our house is loud and I think for New Year's Eve it needs to be a little louder. 

We made two different types of noise makers for our family party.  The first was a cup noise maker and the second your standard paper plate noise maker.

Cup Noise Maker
You need a plastic cup and a skewer with a pointy end.

I started the hole using a needle and a hammer.  The needle makes the hole small enough for the skewer to fit tightly without using glue.  After you have started the hole, you can insert your skewer.
 Let's make 'em shine!

I set up a supply table with all sorts of colorful decorations.  The foil circle next to the cup noise makers are for the open end of the cup.  Each circle is cut larger than the open end so the edges can be glued and wrapped.

 The Table Centerpiece

Mister and Ladybug loved this activity and the Wee One...she loved stickering her foot.  She did come running when I asked if she wanted to glitter.  Demetri Martin once said, "...Glitter is the herpes of craft supplies" and sadly it's true.  At least we sparkle over here.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Year of Good Luck

Last year we started eating sushi, "fun do" (fondue), special desserts, and punch in champagne glasses on New Year's Eve as a family.  We may have let them stay up until nine and if you know my husband and I that is a BIG deal.  Mister and Ladybug talked about that night for months.  It was special for the entire family and we are looking forward to repeating it again this year. 

To make this year a little different, we have begun our celebration early by making decorations for our house.  Our first decoration was Good- Luck Goldfish.  I talked to Mister and Ladybug about how the goldfish is good luck in China. I made sure we found China on the map and we reread This Next New Year.

You'll need:
  • Yellow or orange paper
  • Contact paper
  • Tissue paper
  • Glue
  • Glitter
After you have printed out the fish cut out the middle.

Rather than using plastic wrap, I cut contact paper just larger than the middle of the fish.  The Wee One loves to stick paper onto contact paper and it helps the tissue paper not get soggy.
Mister and Ladybug ripped the paper rather than having pre-cut gills.

What goldfish would be complete without glitter?  This was Mister, Ladybug, and the Wee One's favorite part.

I love how they turned out.  A little less finished than Family Fun, but then again I don't think they had two four-year-olds and a seventeenth month old do this project.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

DEAR - Raising Readers

I remember when Mister and Ladybug were about 20 months I noticed it was really quiet in the playroom.  I had been cleaning up the kitchen after breakfast and didn't remember the last time I heard a peep.  You know that fear when all is quiet and you are scared to see what surprise(s) your children have left.  I dropped my dish towel and did a mom sprint into the playroom to find them reading.  They were surrounded by books and enjoying their library. 

A few days ago I realized that that kind of reading hasn't happened in a long time.  Mister and Ladybug love to read and we read as a family before rest and bed, but I haven't "caught" them reading in what feels like forever.  I want to bring a strong focus back to reading for enjoyment, so we are starting our own little D.E.A.R (Drop Everything And Read) program our family's first goal for 2012. 

I planned on reading for about 15 minutes, but it lasted almost 45 minutes.  Each child read independently and took turns sitting in my lap with a book of his or her choice. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

DIY Baby Gift

Christmas is so close that I can hear Santa and his reindeer.  I can also hear the kiddos squealing with delight as they open their gifts.  The rush is on, and if you are still stumped for a baby gift idea, I think I have the solution.  I promise it will only take a few short hours and this is coming from a novice sewer. 

Hop on over to Notes from the Patch for the most amazing and darling hooded towels.  The first one took me a few hours (and it would have been longer had my mom not come to my rescue -I did say I was a novice) but the second one was finished in 45 minutes!

You will need:
  • Bath towels (Mine are avocado from Target)
  • One hand towel (this will make two hooded towels)
  • Thread
  • Ric-rac
  • Fabric (1/8 - 1/4 of a yard)

I did not sew the hood and the towel together like the directions.  I put right sides together and sewed the seam on the inside down.

The second baby gift is a sensory blanket.  This should only take you 10 minutes (novice sewer) to complete.  I used some remnants I had left from other projects.

When pinning on the ribbon make sure your fabric has right sides together and the ribbon loops pinned on the inside.  You want the ribbon edges to be pinned flush with the edges of the blanket. 

Line up your ribbon a straighter and more even than this picture.
Again the fabric should be even on the top. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Have You Met Will?

In September, I gave two confessions and now I have one more: I am an Over Achieving Elf on the Shelf Mommy.  Yup, our "Will" has has roasted marshmallows, bungee jumped from the ceiling fan from toilet paper, stacked blocks with his "friends", and decorated the window with paper snowflakes.  Don't get me wrong I thought the blog post was funny, but a confession every so often is good for the soul.

And you know I don't care because I get as much excitement out of making "Will" do mischievous things as my children do finding him.  My crazy husband and I spent an hour learning how to make paper snowflakes and decorating the window. I suppose we could have spent that hour mindlessly watching television, but we had fun (fun for a ma'am) and enjoyed each other's company. 

I loved when my children were excited to tell Santa that they knew "Will" and every night before bed they want to hear the story about how "Will" came to live with us.  They call their Nay-Nay to tell her what "Will" was up to the night before.  I hope they talk about "Will" when they get older because that means my overachieving efforts were worth it. 

P.S. For the record I don't have a spare toilet to put out in our yard.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ho Ho Ho!

So, this may date me when I say I have been doing this craft with kids for 20 years.  It's almost too painful to write because I feel like I am 20.  I thought I looked like I was 20 until I was ma'amed at the store.  I didn't realize the teen was speaking to me until he or she (I can't remember because I was in shock I was a ma'am) said it a few more many more times.

Anyway enough of my aging pity party, this has been two decades of kids who have loved this craft.  One child made this Santa from December until July and his mother would have to be a sleuth about getting rid of a few.  She never called me to sit again and I like to think it's because she paid more for cotton balls and paper plates in those seven months than all year.

The end of Santa's hat has a bell.  I also had Mister and Ladybug use their pincer grasp to stretch a few cotton balls.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Play Dough Gingerbread Cookies and Homemade Hot Chocolate

I love the way my home smells during the December.  The Christmas tree, gingerbread, fresh bread, and cooking make my house smell wonderful.

Mister, Ladybug, and the Wee One helped me make homemade hot chocolate and gingerbread play dough.  For the hot chocolate I used a mixture of vanilla sugar and sugar and cut down on the the total amount of sugar.

Play dough - Our go-to recipe

1 Cup flour
1/2 Cup salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
 We added your typical gingerbread spices. 

I provided a rolling pin, cookie cutters, and buttons for their gingerbread play dough.

Monday, December 12, 2011

You Have Been Elfed

Our neighborhood is nice in so many ways, but it's filled with older families.  The days when the neighbors gathered and had block parties have passed.  Now Christmas parties are only for adults because those throwing the parties have children who don't need bedtime stories and band aids for scrapped knees. 

When I drove through newer neighborhoods over Halloween, I saw neighbors playing You've Been Booed.  I made comments to my husband that I wanted to do that because I am sucker for things like that. It dawned on me this weekend that I shouldn't wait for my neighbors to start - I should do it!  Our countdown chain had us making cookies for the neighbors and instead of dropping them off, we elfed them.  I can't wait to see if it catches on!  I hope this continues as a neighborhood tradition because I can see my children telling stories about elfing the neighbors when they are adults.

These are the elf baskets I used with cookies covered on a plate.  The cookies were decorated by the children and they are a lovely shade of brown (red and green frosting mixed) and a ton of sprinkles.  My guess is the neighbors figured out who elfed them as soon as they saw their treats.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Shhh, It's a Surprise!

Ladybug loves fairies and I love peg people.  When I saw the new (or I am late to the peg people party) fad of peg people floating around I had to make her a take-along peg doll fairy set.  The materials were bought at Michael's and JoAnn Fabrics with coupons.

The carrying/cottage for the fairies.  It is a cigar box and it soaks up a ton of paint.

The fairies house.  I am debating if I should make them little sleeping bags.  The cabinet, table, chairs, plates, bowls, cupcakes, cups, and ladybugs are movable.
The peg people fairy friends.

If time permits (Mister still needs a Batman cape) I will make a fairy felt play mat that rolls up and can be stored inside.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Gingerbread Dreams - Part One

So far I have put out fun and easy activities for the kiddos and they have enjoyed every activity very much.

Practical Life and Sensory

I found this activity was good for their grip.  Mister and Ladybug have to insert the erasers on the pencil. 

Mister and Ladybug were so excited to have their own tree.  I put out this same activity last year, but they weren't as interested.

The Wee One completed the same activity and started counting each ball as she put it into the spaces.

Matching and clipping clothespins on gingerbread houses.

This is another activity from last year, but again they seemed to enjoy it this year.  Ladybug made up stories about each group of Santas.

Ladybug and Mister make the felt gingerbread look like the ornament.

Christmas card puzzle

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Enjoy the Season and Do Good

Amanda inspired me to make an Advent activity chain.  We started on December 3rd rather than the 1st.

  • Buy a Christmas Tree
  • Decorate the house for Christmas
  • Operation Care Package for Kids (I hope we aren't too late for this)
  • Drop off a toys for Toys for Tots
  • Have a Christmas music dance party and roast marshmallows
  • Visit Santa
  • Watch Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer
  • Make and deliver cookies for the neighbors
  • Go sledding or make a snowman (weather depending) and make hot chocolate from scratch
  • Buy books for preschool book exchange
  • Donate some money from our piggy banks to the Salvation Army Red Kettles
  • Make a Christmas craft with Mommy
  • Write a letter to Santa
  • Watch a Christmas special on Netflix
  • Donate food at the local food bank
  • Make a gingerbread house
  • Make salt dough ornaments
  • Unwrap and read a new Christmas book
  • Make snowflake decorations for the assisted living home
  • Bake and deliver cookies to Daddy's work
  • Drive around and look at lights
  • Make pine cone feeders for the birds, leave out cookies for Santa, leave carrots for the reindeer, and say goodbye to Will (Elf on the Shelf)
  • Merry Christmas!  What are you thankful for?

    We colored and glittered stars for our chain.  Mister has some issues with his pencil grip, so I broke his crayons which force him to hold them correctly. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

December Sensory Bin - Gingerbread Dreams

This sensory bin was inspired by Candy Land. 
  • Rice (Snow)
  • Foam gingerbread house (Michaels)
  • Gingerbread gift card holders (Michaels)
  • Decorative glitter buttons
  • Candy canes (Decorative - Michaels)
  • Evergreen trees
  • Candy Land player pieces
  • Spoon (Added 2 more while playing)
  • Gingerbread dish

    I put together (with hot glue) the gingerbread house the night before and they decorated it.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Salad Spun Christmas Trees

For a few days, I walked around my house with the most brilliant idea.  I gave myself high-fives, gold stars, pats on the back, and an A+ because it was that good.  The kids would love it, I would love it, and it was creative and new.  I am sure you know where this story is going by now because very little is ever new in the blogging world. 

My Idea


We tried using both colors, but it looked better just using the green.

Even the Wee One participated.  She used her feet and sat on the salad spinner.  If you haven't noticed we love our pajamas around here.

Family made Chrsitmas garland. 

It's already been done - two-years-ago.  My ego has been deflated with one little click, but it's still a neat idea.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Nutrition - Part 3

I am running a few days behind this last month and our November has carried over into December.  Here is the second set of activities that are on our shelf this month.


Fill in the missing letter.  I did this as a one-on-one with Mister and Ladybug before they did it alone.

Part of the -an family - This was put on the shelf after we made the -an family house.


Measuring vegetables using nonstandard measurement.  The vegetable printouts are taped to the tray, so they wouldn't move.  Rather than say, "Four" I had them include what was used to measure.  For example, "Four links."

Practical Life

Mister and Ladybug picked green-light recipes that we will make.

On each dot, they put on a pumpkin sticker.  The top set were cut between the stickers and the bottom set were cut on the line.  I introduced the top set first and the bottom set a few days later.


Grocery basket painting