Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Christmas Advent Activity Plans

Well, this poor blog seems to have fallen by the wayside.  But I know next year I'll want to be able to find what I planned for Advent this year, and this is the first place I'll look.  So I'll go ahead and share my calendar!  With the new baby due in December, I am planning earlier than ever this year.  I think it's a nesting thing.  I've already ordered gifts for December birthdays, nearly finished the homemade Christmas presents for the kids, and have an Amazon wish list that contains everything I plan to buy for Christmas.  I'm NEVER this ready for December, but I kind of like it =)  Now if only the gift wrap fairy would visit this baby can pick whatever day she chooses to come. 

So here's the list.  Normally I would spread out the more exciting activities (Winterfest, Rhema) but this year I put them all the first week since I'm due the third week.  And yes, I'm ready to let go of this plan whenever baby girl decides to make her appearance ;) 

1.) Sunday, December 1st: Winterfest (lego advent sets in the bag)
2.) Monday, December 2nd: Rhema (Candy in bag, print Christmas Decoration scavenger hunts?)
3.) Tuesday, December 3rd: Gingerbread Houses (Candy in bag, assemble houses during school, cousins coming over to decorate)
4.) Wednesday, December 4th: Decorate Kids Rooms (Put new decorations in the bag?  Lights on the tent, tree, anything else?)
5.) Thursday, December 5th: Read (new books for the bag, Scaredy Squirrel and Quiet Book, and Magic Tree House)
6.) Friday, December 6th: Neighborhood Walk
7.) Saturday, December 7th: Ornament Making Party with classmates (buy cupcakes, make santa hats with strawberries and marshmallows)
8.) Sunday, December 8th: Grandparent Gifts (these are secret since my Mom may be the only one reading this.  If you want ideas, e-mail me =) 
9.) Bake Cookies (Make some during school with DZ, some after.  Take some to neighbors)
10.) Papa's Birthday one day early (Ask Dad if he'd rather come to us, or us go to him. Bake pie during school)
11.) Wednesday: Make teacher gifts (at least a card! Let DZ do Christmas tree letter matching.  Serenity wants to sew coffee cup cozies) 
12.) Thursday: Daddy's Birthday (Deliver teacher gifts also!!)
13.) Friday: Craft Day (bead necklaces in the morning) Can wear to winter concert.   Winter Concert
14.) Saturday: Backyard Game
15.) Sunday: Christmas Shopping (Each take one kid, and let them buy a gift for sibling and other parent? Or Angel Tree? Or cousins from the dollar store? Or order online?)
16.) Movie Night (prep & landing, plus buy special popcorn)
17.) Candy Cane Hunt
18.) Wednesday Donate somewhere (animals again? China?)
19.)Thursday (new app day.  Possibly new little computer too...)
20.) Friday Game Night (New Board Game Night)
21.) Christmas at Mom's
22.) Sunday: Puzzle **Also Christmas at Papa's House
23.) Monday: Watch Home Movies (I always put together a dvd with my favorite videos of the year for us to watch.  Otherwise they'd get lost in my computer and never see the light of day. =) 
24.) Tuesday: Nativity Story (stickers and read our toddler bibles)
25.) Christmas

Christmas Lights

Friday, February 1, 2013

Kindness Day

Wow, it's been such a long time since I posted!  I think I needed the break.  I've been doing lots of fun things since Halloween though, so at least I have plenty to write about!  I want to start with my favorite plan for this year, Kindness Day!

One of my plans for this year was to try and do one service-related activity every Friday.  I call it Kindness Day, and so far it is a big success!  The first week, I had Serenity look through her toys and choose some to donate.  I told her to pick one thing from each toy area.  Sometimes she chose things that she had outgrown or was done with, but she also chose a few things she actually likes.  I was so proud!

Week Two we did thank you notes.  I printed off a little page so all she had to do was fill in the blanks.  So for each note she wrote the name of the person the note was for, what she got, and then she finished the sentence, "I like it because..."  And she signed her name.  So it was quite a bit of writing practice in addition to gratitude practice.  We also tried to take a picture with each present to send with it.  We came down with the flu that weekend, so I'm not sure we got all the thank you notes written, but we got quite a few sent out! 

Week Three was chosen entirely by Serenity.  She was reading over my shoulder as I was looking for ideas for our activity, and she saw a salon gift basket.  Probably inspired by the amazing girls day she had with Aunt Jennifer and Raegan, she wanted to make salon baskets for girls at a shelter or hospital.  We bought cute buckets and filled them with nail polish, sparkly files, some jewelry, and chapstick.  They are super cute, but we haven't delivered them yet!   

Week Four was a sewing day.  We made cornbags for Grandma and Little Casey.  Mom had mentioned to me that she didn't have a single corn bag, and that little Casey often wished she still had some.  I happened to have a little corn left over from the last batch I'd made, so I let Serenity dig into my fabric stash.  She helped me pin them, she pushed the foot on the sewing machine, and she measured and poured the corn in.  They were SO happy to get their cornbags, I think Serenity was absolutely ecstatic!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Advent 2012

We're starting our Advent a little early this year, as we'll be doing stuff with our families on the actual day of Christmas. Which means I needed to get started planning earlier!  Here's the list I settled on for our traditional advent activities.  I also ordered Truth in the Tinsel, so I'm going to do more Christ related things when Serenity's school ends for the semester.  I haven't figured out that part completely yet, but this is what will go in our activity advent calendar.

26: Sing: Get new music, play it at home and in the car on the way to school.  I plan to order Laurie Berkner's Christmas cd, as both the kids and I love her music!  During the day and in the afternoon after school, I plan to play Christmas songs on the piano and on our handbells. 
27: Decorate Serenity and Donovan's Rooms for Christmas.  Serenity has a pink tree that we used last year, and we got Donovan some aqua blue ornaments for his room when they were on sale last year.  I don't know if we'll get him a tree or just hang Christmas lights in his room!

28: Rhema Lights/ get hot chocolate while there (bring sippy cup for dz)  Rhema is a church in our area that puts on a beautiful light show every year!  We loved it last year!  I want to go earlier this year in the hopes that it's not quite as cold. =) 
29: Read a new book.  We always get new books for our advent, and we love them all year long.  This year I'm leaning towards Pete the Cat Saves Christmas, as Donovan loved the first Pete book we got, or Sandra Boynton's Christmas Parade, as we all like that.  I have other ideas though if anyone is interested =)  *Let Serenity read it in the car on the way to school.
Nov. 30: Christmas Train ride
Dec 1: Gingerbread House Party: I invited Serenity's classmates to come decorate with us again because we had such a blast last year!  I plan to make the bases out of graham crackers, taking the easy route.  Hot glue rocks. =)  Print worksheets
Dec. 2: Nutcracker  I think Serenity is old enough to sit through the Nutcracker, and since she took dance this year it seems perfect.  (Teacher Gift Making: Pour pots) 
3: Deliver Teacher Gifts/Donate to some cause.  Possibly China, as she wanted to send our Operation Christmas Child boxes to China.  Or the World Wildlife Fund again, as she still loves animals. (Give to others...)
4: Candy Cane Hunt This is so much fun it's an activity we'll keep doing every year!  The challenge will be seeing if we can make it work for both kids!  Maybe different colored canes for each child?  (in the afternoon we might go shopping for sibling gift/Daddy/cousins... online and dollar store or Target?)
5: Angel Tree from School? Shop after school, take to school next day.
6: Movie Night (popcorn)  I haven't decided on a show, unfortunately our children still prefer cartoons.  Maybe just the Backyardigans Christmas episode. Or the Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus dvd with Neil Patrick Harris. Maybe I'll expand it into adult movie night and watch Miracle on 34th Street with Eric. 
7: Craft: Snow globes? Sewing felt tree to circle?
Dec. 8: Possible card crafting day? Leaf rubbing tree, handprint trees.  Butcher Paper Wrapping?  

Dec. 9: Santa and Cookie Exchange Party (possibly photos, spice shopping)
10: Christmas Manicures/ Fancy Dress Up Dinner/ carols around piano  Serenity got her first nail polish this year, so I thought she'd appreciate a "fancy" day. =)  I may like Fancy Nancy more than she does, but she reminds me a lot of Serenity.  Loves words, loves dress up =)
11: Grandparent Gifts (handprint/) craft?/  Truth in Tinsel shepherd day?  Won't put my pin of this up here, as Mom is usually my most faithful reader =) 
Dec 12: Winter Concert at school and Daddy's Birthday
13: Christmas Tree Campout (make fake fire for "smores")  Serenity and Daddy love sleeping under the tree!
14: Baking cookies again: Share them with neighbors
15: "Snowball" Fight  Possibly also "snowmen"

16: Backyard Game Day/Game night
17: Christmas with Papa
Dec 18th: (Parent Observation Day at Dance) Mail our Christmas Cards
19: Watch Home Movies  We always watch our home movies from the last year one night.  It's a great way to get me to actually transfer them from computer to a dvd.  =) 
20: Our Christmas (special breakfast, probably monkey bread)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Kitchen Before and After!!!

I am so thrilled that our kitchen is finally redone!  I've always hated the color of the cabinets.  Light pickled wood is just not for me.  I found a picture of a kitchen I loved with similar countertops to mine with white cabinets and a blue island, and that finally decided my plan for the kitchen.  Then I proceeded to procrastinate for months.  I bought the new hardware, thinking that might inspire me to get started.  Then I bought the paint, and let that sit in the garage for a month.  Finally, Dad finished building the beautiful new trim that raises the height of my cabinets to make them look much fancier, and that finally got me moving!  Now they are all done and I finally love my kitchen!

I love the blue island too. =)  The color is called Serenity, so it's perfect.  I just painted the sides and back though so if I change my mind about the color I don't have to repaint doors or drawers.  Never again is all I have to say about that =) And after I told Serenity the name of the color she said we should always keep it that color, she was so excited.  But I'm so happy I have a silly grin on my face every time I walk through the kitchen.

So here it is!

I LOVE the drawer pulls!

And here is the before:
Before we moved in

After Appliances

When it was green =)  This color allowed me to tolerate the cabinets for nearly three years =)

I still plan to paint the pantry door blue, and if they fit add drawers to the pantry to make it more functional.  And I'm going to order some new lighting for over the island soon.  Eventually we need to switch out the dishwasher and the faucet at least on the sink.  And I may want to get rid of the granite backsplash for something lighter in color.  But I'm content for now!  And if it were all done I'd probably get bored anyway. =) 

After the new microwave is installed and the new paint done.  Lambswool by Pratt and Lambert.  I decided I wanted the whole downstairs to be the same color since it's all open, and the neutral will let me switch out the accent color easily and quickly if I get the urge =)  I know, it's astonishing =)
I love my aqua ruffle curtains!  Or really cornices I guess, since they're just covering the blinds we never use. 
Magnet board is going to have to move to the hallway, I love the new island too much. =)

Friday, October 19, 2012


I have been MIA here for two months now!  I've got lots of projects I want to share, but I'm too busy crafting to want to post them =)  But I will quickly share some of the digital scrapbooking pages I've been making this month.  Snap My Life Creations, where I like to order my scrapbooks printed, is having a sale, and I'm trying to fill a book in time to take advantage of it!  At least it's motivated me to do some scrapbooking, I just now made my first pages for Donovan and he's 16 months old!!!!  I'm appalled!  At least now he has some and they're pretty =)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Ruffle Fabric Valances

I am super excited about my new valances in my kitchen!  My first window treatment in the house we've owned for three years now.  I don't know what it is about lighting and curtains but I just have a horrible time committing to them.  I repainted the kitchen area a few weeks ago and I loved it... but it just made me realize that the blinds in my bay window drive me crazy!  They are never straight, and the little pieces of wood that are supposed to stay at the top are always breaking out of their little plastic clips.  So, I covered them up!  Check it out!

This was SO cheap!  I bought a yard of the ruffle fabric and cut it in thirds.  12 inches was plenty long enough for a pretty valance (well, it ends up being 11 inches after the wrap around.)  I just wrapped it around foam core board using white duct tape!  Really, really easy!

If you want to do it yourself, I cut my board the width of my window, and then two inches longer than the length I wanted the valance.  I scored it at that two inches, and folded it, securing the seam with duct tape.  I used the folded part to tuck above the miniblinds.  I didn't even have to nail these things in!  Like I said, easiest window treatment ever!  I started attaching the fabric at the bottom.  I just folded the fabric part under to conceal the bottom of the foam core, and so a single ruffle hangs below the board.  That way I could be sure they ended up even.  The ruffle fabric doesn't ravel or anything!  Then I made sure the top was straight and that each valance had the same number of ruffles.  That was the hardest part, making sure not to stretch too much or the ruffles would pucker.  I just taped it bit by bit with the duct tape and then put one long piece over the top to secure it.

The one over my door has sides as well as the top.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Science Experiment: Mentos and What??

For my daughter's Science Birthday I was dying to do the famous Mentos and Diet Coke explosion experiment.  It is so cool looking.  But... it's not that pretty.  So for the Sparkly Science party, we decided we'd test out different kinds of sodas. We did the Diet Coke, but we also did Diet Cherry 7-Up, and diet orange soda.  It was awesome!  All the sodas worked just fine, and since we had a variety of drinks the kids could compare to see which went the highest!  I preferred the colored choices for sheer coolness factor, and they went plenty high!  Here are some pics