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

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Globe Pillow =)

I made this fleece floor pillow for my godson Everett!  His room has an adventure/map sort of feel, so I thought this might work well.  I chose the fleece so I didn't have to worry about raveling.  I just used steam a seam for the applique, sewed around it with my machine to make sure it wouldn't come loose, and that was it!  I lost Madagascar somewhere but other than that it's great! 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Birthday Balloon Surprise =)

Since we celebrated her birthday party on Saturday, I didn't plan to do much for Serenity's actual birthday.  I promised we'd make cupcakes together since we had birthday pancakes at her party.  At the last minute though I headed out to the dollar tree to pick up a dozen mylar balloons.  We filled her room with them so she'd wake up to a happy birthday surprise!  She LOVED it!  We woke up to her happy shouts of "Balloon!  Balloon!"  Donovan soon ran to join her and added his, "Boon!  Boon!"  He was mesmerized.  I got a variety, so Serenity sorted her balloons into stars, flowers, circles, and then by color. =)  And she counted them.  So we had a little learning fun too. 

Planned Discoveries: Doctor's Office

A few things I've been reading on the internet came together last night!  One blog I follow (Momformation) recommended the show Doc MacStuffins.  It's a Disney Jr. show about a little girl who is a toy doctor...she fixes all her sick toys.  Then, I read another site about "planned discoveries."  I also saw something similar on Teach Preschool.The basic idea is to set up a vignette of some sort for the kids to come across and play with however they want.  Since today is Serenity's four year old checkup, I thought it was a great time to try this out! 

After she went to bed, I set up our game table with an assortment of doctor tools.  Our play doctor kit includes a stethoscope, otoscope, blood pressure cuff, thermometer, and syringe.  To this I added some cotton balls, a craft stick to use as a tongue depressor, an ace bandage, a clipboard, a medicine dropper or two, her lab coat from her birthday, and a box of real bandaids.  The bandaids were the biggest hit of course.  I set out a few stuffed animals, and they all immediately had boo boos.  After she asked in an awed and disbelieving voice, "can I give them REAL bandaids?"  She also asked for some tweezers, which we had from her Primary Science Set.  She performed a splinter removal operation, which she followed with a bandaid and a sticker as Lambie had been so brave.  She has played with this stuff for a couple of hours now!  I love listening to her creative play as she treats her animals and fixes them right up.  She's coming up with all kinds of stories and comforting her little patients.  Too cute. 

Totally worth the box of bandaids.  If only she didn't need a doctor's assistant to pick up all the wrappers. =) 

The bonus is, the doctor kit is something she doesn't really play with much.  So getting it out and putting it in an obvious place like this is better than buying her a brand new toy =) 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Serenity's Fourth Birthday Party!

Serenity's Birthday Party Journal

The theme for Serenity's fourth birthday party was Sparkly Science!  Her favorite subject in school this year was science, and sparkly crafts rule in this house.  Plus they both start with the letter S, and she is all about that.  We had sparkly explosions, glitter jars, and mentos geysers.  Plus festive breakfast food, with a syrup experiment in test tubes!

Serenity's party was SO much fun!  For the kids too =)  I set up the experiment table about an hour before the party started, and Serenity couldn't wait to get started.  By the time the guests arrived her fingers were already dyed from the food coloring and all the cups were full of black water.  I dumped those and made new colored vinegar for the first experiment. 

When most of the guests arrived, we got started with the outdoor experiments.  We lucked out with the weather, it was nice and cool so we could have done it all outside, but originally I'd planned to do just the Sparkly Explosions outside.  Sparkly explosions were vinegar, baking soda, food coloring and glitter.  We explored this reaction both directions.  On one table I had trays set up with baking soda, cups with colored vinegar, and pipettes.  The kids squirted pipettes onto the baking soda, watched the little fizzes, and mixed colors.  Serenity was so excited already, she kept saying, "oh, oh, my fizzes!!!"   The next table had the volcano setup.  I got lots of gatorade bottles thanks to Dad, and I had bought a pound of glitter from oriental trading.  The kids got to mix their colors of choice, glitter, and baking soda.  Then we used squirt bottles to quickly add vinegar.  The sparkles were spectacular!  By the end of the party, the table was a solid mass of glitter.  The kids kept coming back to this until the entire two gallons of vinegar I'd bought were gone.  I have to say though, I thought the explosions were even more fun in the little clear plastic cups I used to hold the vinegar.  After they'd colored the entire trays of baking soda in truly beautiful swirly colors, Samantha and Serenity went back after the party was done and dropped big spoonfuls of the baking soda into the vinegar that was mixed with colored water.  I think this looked more spectacular because the food coloring was so much brighter that way, and it took less to overflow the cup. =)  And the mess is the best part!

After the Sparkly Explosions, we came in and explored density with our Glitter Jars.  These are all over the internet right now.  Some people use them as Calm Down or Time Out Jars.  I just like them cause they're pretty, and glittery was the name of the day. =)  For this we used fine glitter, glitter glue, clear glue, and a variety of sequins.  We had food coloring, but that backfired a bit.  Too much food coloring and you can't really see your glitter.  Serenity's turned out awesome, pink glitter glue and aqua glitter, plus every shape sequin you could find.  It's almost like an I-Spy Jar.  I hot glued all the lids shut, and I just have to say, hot gluing in a hurry is a baaaad idea.  Take your time, and use a low temp glue gun =) 

As people finished their jars, pancakes and eggs were coming off the griddles.  The birthday girl loves breakfast foods, so that was the menu.  I ordered custom donuts shaped like beakers and test tubes.  I made mini monkey breads, partially because they are delicious, but mostly because I wanted some place to put the cupcake toppers I made.  My sister was in charge of the griddle and made scrambled eggs.  She even put the sprinkles on top of Serenity's pancake stack in the shape of an S.  Serenity is addicted to letters, part of the reason the party is Sparkly Science is because they both start with the letter S.  We had strawberries too for that reason. =)  The experiment part of breakfast came in with the syrups.  I filled test tubes with six different kinds of syrups for people to mix and match.  Serenity asked for pancakes the next three days so she could continue to play with her syrup stash.  Oh, we also had fruit to try and balance some of the sugar.  =)  And I made gluten free donuts with the help of my Mom's fancy little donut maker. 
I'm bummed, I forgot to take pictures of the donut beakers and test tubes!  Fortunately Corwyn modeled them for me =)

After the food, we did our traditional fishing.  The kids get so excited for those dollar store prizes!  Serenity got a glow stick wand with a Grand Old Flag on top.  And she got the leftovers later too. ;) 

The final big experiment was the awesome Mentos and Diet Coke experiment.  Actually, we got diet orange soda and diet Cherry 7-Up.  So our experiment was to see which one worked the best.  I think they all worked fine.  The Diet Coke maybe went slightly higher than the Cherry 7-Up, but the 7-Up was pink and pretty.  This is always a crowd favorite.  We got the Geyser Tube from Steve Spangler which made it so easy, and it was fun to play with the different tops.  The kids loved counting down to Blast Off! 

After that it was mostly free play.  Serenity opened her wonderful presents (so fast I might not have written down everything people got her, so if your thank you note is wrong, I'm so sorry!  Just know she loved and plays with all her new things even if she thanks you for the wrong one ;)  I did get out the gak for my nephews to make at the end.  Unfortunately, I ended up with a teal carpet for that one.  So it's probably better outside or at least in the kitchen.  Or just keep an eye on the ten year old with the bright blue glue. =)  It did come up from the carpet for the most part.  Miraculously.  Or not, since I'm aching to tear out that carpet.  =) 

Oh, I forgot to write about the favors!  When they arrived at the party, each child was greeted with Safety Glasses, lab coats, and nametags.  The glasses were definitely a big hit.  Oh, and magnifying glasses too.  I got pictures of a few of the guests in front of the Sparkly Science backdrop.  That's still up, I'm still reveling in my success with the Silhouette.  I may have to hang it in Serenity's room, it matches. 

The party was a blast, and Serenity kept experimenting with Samantha until it got dark.  And she hasn't stopped since then, we've done dancing raisins, shiny pennies, color mixing, and just random concoctions of glitter, water, and flowers.  I love it, and I love how creatively she can play with all the science tools I got for the party.  The day after her party she woke up, gave me a big hug, and said "thank you for making me such a nice party."  I am so lucky. =)  She's my sweetheart. 
A little glitter aftermath