Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas

We hope you had a joyful Christmas with friends and family. 

The kids had a fun day filled with skypeing with Grandparents, playing with friends for the afternoon, and of course food and presents.  We will be taking a relaxing week to play with our toys and have fun together; then we all go back to school on Jan.2.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gingerbread Nativity

Making this gingerbread (graham crackers in our case) nativity has been on my to-do list for several weeks, but I waited until J was home to do it with us.

The people are made with gumdrops and fruit roll-ups, the donkey is a candy bar and tootsie rolls, and the sheep are marshmallows and black licorice.  Full directions can be found at AOKCorral.

 The directions didn't include an angel, but Miss M insisted on making one. 

J did the bulk of the work on this, but everyone got in on the fun, even Baby B who mixed the coconut and food coloring for us.

For go-along books we read St. Francis and the Christmas Donkey by Robert Byrd (this book is out of print so I can't link it); Mortimer's Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson; and Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale by Martin Waddell.  All three tell the Christmas story through the eyes of animals.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Grinch Scramble and A Catch-Up

My mother reminded me that I got behind in posting again, so this is going to be a quick catch-up from the rest of our week. Miss M, Baby B and I still have colds, so to be perfectly honest we didn't do many crafts this week. Here is a glimpse of the activities we did do:

Miss M made some ornaments on Wednesday using a kit Grandma had sent to the kids.

Miss M and Baby B did a lot of snuggling (these two are inseparable).

And Baby B was his usual goofy self.

The magnetic nativity set has been a big hit with both little kids.(J took a magnetic penguin set to school for his locker).

Our town held it's second annual grinch scramble on Friday night.  They fill a football field with candy canes, peppermints, bubbles, and four stuffed grinches.  Then they give the kids flashlights and bags, turn off the lights, and it is a mad scramble to collect the goodies.

J decided to go in a Ninja stealth mode:

Baby B went with a flashlight bigger than he is:

And Miss M ended up with more candy than both her brothers combined:

All three of the kids had a great time!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Painting Ornaments and St. Lucia Day

Yesterday, we went with our Home Learner's group to a local pottery studio to paint some ornaments.  This was the first time either Miss M or Baby B had been, and they both had a great time.  We have many ceramic ornaments on our tree from when J was this age, and Miss M is excited to add her own.  I had forgotten my camera, but my friend who blogs over at Raising the Cameron Clan took photos for us.

It was St. Lucia day, and I had great plans to make sweet buns and have Miss M dress up in the traditional St. Lucia crown and deliver them; but we all have colds and were low on energy so we went low-key this year.  The only thing we really did was read Lucia, Saint of Light by Katherine Bolger Hyde.  Maybe next year we will do more with this feast day.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Books Days 10-12

For day ten, we read The Legend of the Christmas Stocking by Rick Osborne.  This story is set in the 1800s in New York, and features a young  boy named Peter.  Peter has been saving the money he makes selling newspapers to buy a wooden boat.  At the last minute he is inspired by the story of St. Nicholas and the legend behind the Christmas stocking to use the money for presents for a different purpose.  Of course, there is a surprise for Peter at the end of the story as well.  For a go-along, Miss M cut out a felt stocking (I had drawn her a pattern to follow) and decorated it with buttons and glitter glue.

Book 11 was The Twelve Days of Christmas by Jane Ray.  The illustrations in this version are full of details and surprises.  This version is based in the city, and we watch a young woman's house get busier and busier as her true love sends her gift after gift.  Miss M thought it was fun to count how many birds she got total.  We didn't do a craft for this book, instead we went to listen to the local symphony's annual Christmas concert (our version of pipers piping).  It was a nice grouping of symphony, hand bells, adult choir and youth choir.  Of course, the fact that Daddy was playing was the highlight of the evening!

For Book 12, we read a different version of The Twelve Days of Christmas.  Both versions we read are new this year, and I thought reading them back-to-back would be a great way to contrast two versions of the same story and talk about similarities and differences.  (One calls them "calling birds" and another "collie birds" for example.)  This version by Laurel Long is so beautifully illustrated.  Miss M and I spent a long time looking at each picture in intricate detail finding the gifts from previous pages that are hidden in the illustrations.  (The inside cover has a key to help you find the hidden gifts if you need.)  This is by far my favorite version of the Twelve Days ever.  The pictures are absolutely gorgeous!

To go along with it, we decorated our own tree.  I had wanted to do our own version of a pear tree, but Miss M insisted on decorating a "real Christmas tree" instead.  She used small pom poms as her ornaments, and she was very careful to place each one exactly where she wanted it.

The kids are really enjoying reading a new book each day, and we are going back to revisit previously read books whenever we feel like it.  There are some definite favorites among our selections!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Edible Snowmen

When we read Snowmen at Night, it starts by talking about how after you build a snowman one day, the next morning it looks droopy.  The book then goes on to talk about what snowmen do at night that causes them to droop.

For a fun go-along, we made edible droopy snowmen.  Baby B's godmother sent us directions for adorable melted snowmen, and we adapted them to be slipping a bit but not fully melted.

First, you need to melt either white chocolate chips or white candy bark.  You spread a little bit onto your plate to make a puddle.  Next, roll two doughnut holes in the bark and stack them on your puddle.

Finally, decorate your snowman.  We used an orange Mike & Ike for the nose, mini chocolate chips for the eyes and smile, part of a fruit roll-up for the scarf, two mini tootsie rolls for the hat, and pieces of a fruit leather rope for the arms.

Miss M made her snowman all by herself, and I think she did a fantastic job!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Countdown Books Days 7-9

It was bound to happen.  We have been keeping up with our book and activity each day, but I got behind on posting them.  So this is a quick catch-up post of the books we read this week.

Book Seven was Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett.  She has been a favorite author in our house since J was little, and this particular book is one we enjoy every year.  Usually we make a Gingerbread House to go with this book, but I wanted an activity that Baby B could join in, so we made Gingerbread playdough instead.  We used our regular recipe and added cloves, cinnamon and ginger.

The spices not only smelled nice, but they made the dough look brown.  We also made some candy cane playdough (red with peppermint scent) at Miss M's request.

Book Eight was Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Shines Again.  This is an out-of-print Little Golden Book that has been well loved in our house for years.  Since the weather was above-freezing for the first time in a week, we played some "Reindeer Games" outside.  (Tinsel Tag and Ho-Ho-Hopscotch were our favorites.)

Book Nine was Snowmen At Night by Caralyn Buehner.  I didn't get to the craft we had planned because we had a book exchange Christmas party with our Home Learner's group.  Baby B's godmother Nicole sent us the funniest edible snowman craft, and we will be doing that today instead.  It goes perfectly with this book, so I will be sure to post about it later.

J had his first Christmas concert on the 7th (he is learning to play the trumpet), and Daddy has his annual one tonight, so we have been enjoying lots of great Christmas music as well!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

St. Nicholas Day and One Starry Night

I had originally planned to have the kids put shoes out to be filled for St. Nicholas Day, but time escaped me this morning.  Instead, I made miter treat boxes (I found the pattern here) and filled them with chocolates and oranges for dessert.  The kids enjoyed the treats while we read about St. Nicholas' life.

For our Christmas book today, we read One Starry Night by Lauren Thompson.  Then, Miss M and I made a nativity scene using the printables found at Catholic Icing and toilet paper tubes.  There are sixteen pieces in all, so I cut and Miss M colored and glued and colored and glued some more.

When she got tired, she directed while I colored.

The final results have been quite fun to play with.