Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas Wrap-Up

Since the kids are going to be working on New Year’s crafts today (hats & noisemakers) I thought I had better get the Christmas wrap-up posted before it was too late!

The few days leading up to Christmas were filled with last minute crafting and baking and looking at Christmas lights. M loved the lights this year, and we went out a number of times throughout the month. Every time we saw lights that flashed or twinkled, M said they were “laughing.” Two days before Christmas, we took her to a house near us that has thousands of lights, and they are all timed with music. She loved the “dancing” lights as she called them.

The kids (along with some neighborhood friends) made several last-minute crafts. There were wooden spoon reindeer, ornaments,
And popsicle stick stars.

We also made some peppermint bark. M helped with the crushing candy canes and scooping the pieces into our mold, J did the chocolate layers.

We had a very peaceful Christmas Eve as a family, including reading the story of Jesus’ birth from their children’s bible.

On Christmas morning, we skyped with my parents while J and M opened up their presents. This is a tradition everyone enjoys. M had to immediately try every gift, thus the various outfit changes over two hours! The kids were both blessed with so many wonderful, perfect gifts from their family and godparents.

It snowed on Christmas Eve (the first time in 83 years our town has had a white Christmas even if it was only ½ an inch) so the kid went out to play in the snow after presents. J remembers snow well from when we lived in Seattle, and he loved it. M is our Texas girl, and she decided after about 3 minutes it was too cold and wet and she came right back inside!

I hope you all had as wonderful of a Christmas as we did. I’ll post the kids New Year’s crafts when they are finished later today, and then we’ll be back to our regular Tot School and posting schedule starting Monday!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tot School: More Christmas Fun

This past weekend was so busy, I never got a chance to post our Tot School wrap-up yesterday. To be honest, we didn't do many planned activities this week, and probably won't really do theme weeks again until the new year. That doesn't mean we didn't have lots of fun, however!

We did lots of baking and singing and dancing to Christmas songs this week. M also made two wreaths for the house. The first she painted green and then attached wrapping paper bows. The second, she glued on squares of red and green paper. Both were on paper plates with the centers cut out. Neither of these is an original idea, I've seen lots of versions this season, but she had fun doing them!

M also spent one day working on patterns with her blocks with Daddy.

We all got dressed up and went to hear Daddy play his trumpet in the symphony's Christmas concert. M was such a good little listener, I was so proud of her. J always sets a great example for her, but still, at 28 months it's hard to sit still and quiet for 2 hours.

That's about all I managed to get photos of this week. I am hoping Santa brings me a new camera for Christmas, since mine refuses to focus anymore! This week we are hosting our annual kid's crafting party on Friday, so we'll have lots of fun crafts to post about next week!

To see what others did in Tot School this week, visit Carisa's blog at 1+1+1=1.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Crocheted Christmas Tree Work

When my parents were first married, my Great Aunt crocheted them a Christmas Tree for their house. It's a wooden dowel base that you stack with layers of colored and white crocheted circles. When put together correctly, you get a Christmas tree. I remember loving to put this together with my brothers when we were younger, and J has loved doing it over the last few years, now that it has moved to our home. This year, M gave it a try.

First, she had to separate the layers into two piles: colored and white. Then, she had to sort each color by size. Finally, she had to layer the colors onto the tree in an ABAB pattern. It took almost 45 minutes (and quite a bit of help from me with the size sequencing as some of it is very subtle) but she finally got it, and was so very proud of herself! I am sure we will be redoing the tree plenty over the next few weeks!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tot School: Snow Week

This week, it snowed at our house. It melted when it hit the ground, but since any snow is rare in this part of Texas, and the last time it snowed M was too young to remember, we took advantage of Mother Nature's generosity and spent time on snowmen and snowflakes this week.

First, we hung up our snowman and snowflake window clings. M loves to take these on and off the window, over and over again, and can often be found playing with them.

Then, M enjoyed creating her own winter scene using foam stickers.

She spent quite some time playing with her stamp pad and snowflake stamps. Unfortunately, when I was not looking this turned into stamping herself completely blue, and even after an immediate bath, she had pale blue hands for days.

We cut snowflakes out of paper (I mainly had to do the cutting) and then M decorated them with glitter glue.

I made two snowmen for our felt board, and M had a great time constructing and deconstructing them over and over again.

We made Mommy into a living snow-woman one day. First, the kids wrapped me in toilet paper, then they added a carrot nose and buttons cut from construction paper and a scarf, hat and gloves from our closet. Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures since I was all wrapped up. They loved this one, and it makes a great party game for older kids, too.

One day she and her brother made angel ornaments for the Christmas tree, and M enjoyed her first ever candy cane. (She only ate a small part of it, but seemed to enjoy it.)

We have one activity we did not get to this week. We have a snow family made out of socks that T, J and I made when J was younger. It's part of our annual Christmas decorating traditions, and we need to make a snowgirl with M, now that she is older. We will fit that in next week, once I go to the store and buy a package of new socks!

That was our snow-themed week in Tot School. To see other great ideas from Tot School, visit Carisa's blog at 1+1+1-1.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Our Advent Calendar

Today is the first day of December, and for us that means the continuation of a family tradition that has been going on for over 30 years. When we were kids, my brother and I looked forward to December and our Advent calendar. My mother made it out of fabric and felt when we were babies, and we loved seeing that familiar calendar every year. The pockets for each day were filled with sweet treats, small toys or stickers, special notes or poems, and lots of love. Even as teenagers we looked forward to solving the clues (by then given in riddle form) and finding our daily treat.

When J was born 10 years ago, my mother passed the Advent calendar on to me for use with my kids. It has hung on the wall in our house every year since. J eagerly looks forward to seeing what is in that day's pocket (he reminded me this morning that today was December 1, lest I forget). For M, this will be the first year she is old enough to participate in the Advent calendar tradition, and I hope she grows to love it as much as I do.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Week in Review: Cake Bake

This past week was all about J!

We watched his Karate belt test on Monday, and were so proud of him when he advanced to a yellow belt. Tuesday night we watched him perform in a play on Texas History, including singing several songs and dancing the Cotton-Eyed Joe.

Thursday night was the Cub Scout Cake Bake Contest. J had to bake and decorate the cake himself. He chose to enter the Holiday competition with a Christmas Tree-shaped cake complete with battery-operated lights. It's hard to see in this photo, but the tree really was lit up. He won first place and was so excited!!

He also had an orthodontist appointment, a doctor's appointment and a special luncheon on Thursday. With all the running around we did with J, and with the return of her cold, M didn't want to do any of the activities I had planned for her last week. We'll try them again this week.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tot School: Corn Week

I had hoped that week we would finally get settled back into our routine. The beginning of the week went okay, but then M caught a cold and we didn't do much the last half of the week except cuddle and read books. Our theme this week, was corn.

First, M dot-painted a corn cob picture I printed off from Making Learning Fun. She loves her dot painters, and we haven't used them in a while.

Next, we glued popcorn onto corn cob shapes. Since popcorn is chokeable for toddlers, I did this right after breakfast when I knew M wouldn't be hungry, and then watched her very carefully. (I adapted this idea from here.)

We also did a dry pouring activity using unpopped popcorn kernels, but I had to supervise this carefully and didn't get a good picture.

Then we made a feathered mask for this week's Open-Ended Art project.

Because M never considers art time over just because a project is completed, we also did a lot of painting this week.

M has developed a fascination with letters. She recognizes all of her upper and lowercase letters and names them in everything she sees. If there is a letter, M wants to tell you what it is, and then try to draw it. However, she doesn't have the finger strength yet to control a pencil/crayon for writing. One solution we have found is the magna doodle. M uses the magnet shapes, which she can easily grasp as they have chunky grips, and draws letters on the magna doodle that way. Here, she drew a "baby b" using the circle magnet.

That was all I got pictures of this week. Our theme next week is, of course, Turkeys. To see what other's did this week in Tot School, go to Carissa's blog at 1+1+1=1.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Open Ended Art: Feathers


We are back into our routine this week, and that includes participating in the weekly Open Ended Art meme over at Mommies Wise Little Bookworms. This week's theme was feathers.

Since M is so into dress-up lately, I thought it would be fun to make feathered masks. I cut the base out of foam, and gave M the glue and feathers and a few sequins.

After putting a few feathers on, she asked me for buttons. And of course, since the button box has googly eyes in it, she had to use those as well.

It didn't have as many feathers as I had envisioned, but she was very proud of the finished product.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Karate Kid

J started Karate this September, for the first time. He is still a white belt (beginning level) but should move up to orange belt soon. One of the requirements for moving up is participating in a sparring tournament, which he did this weekend. He did really well for his first time, and won a second place trophy. He was so excited, and we are all so proud of him!

Here he is during his event. He is the one in the white helmet and red gloves. The boys wear protective gear and they only tag their partners, no hard kicks or hits allowed, it's all in fun.

And here he is with his trophy!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

We're Back

I have been gone from posting for a few weeks. A combination of illnesses, a broken camera, and just the joys of every day life have limited the time I had to spend blogging. However, I am hoping to be back at it more regularly this week.

Here are a few photos of what we have been up to the last few weeks. (I know they are blurry, we still have a broken camera!)

J carved his pumpkin (with help from Daddy). It's hard to tell, but he carved the Grim Reaper. We didn't want to let M carve, so she used some plastic pieces to make a kitty cat pumpkin. I had thought she'd want to play in the goop from inside J's pumpkin, but she refused to even touch it!

My mother is a very talented seamstress and makes the kid's Halloween costumes every year. This year they were Harry Potter and a kitty cat.

We also had some professional photos of the kids taken this month. There were so many wonderful ones, but these are my favorites.

M mother is loaning us a digital camera until we purchase a new one, so hopefully I can take some more pictures of our daily activities in the coming weeks.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tot School: Fall Crafts

I was not feeling well this week, so we did almost no Tot School. J did help his sister do some crafts I had pre-organized, and we did have one new sorting activity which M worked on all week, and that was about it.

(For all of these craft projects, M's is on the left and J's is on the right.)

First the kids made paper plate pumpkins. They glued on squares of construction paper and added pipe cleaner vines.

Next, they made paper bag owls.

Then they made scarecrow puppets using craft sticks, fabric, buttons, and construction paper.

Finally, they made painted paper plate jack-o-lanterns. I drew the face on for M, but she painted the plate.

For the sorting activity, I found a set of plastic acorns at the Dollar store that were three shades of yellow/orange. M used tongs and her 3-part tray to sort the acorns by color. She loves sorting, and using shades of the same color made it more challenging for her.

That was our week in Tot School. Don't forget to go by Carissa's blog at 1+1+1=1 and see what other's did in their Tot School this week.