Advent Update

What a week! Between a Mommy cold, a newborn growth spurt, and a toddler cold, it’s been a bit busy. Some of our activities got behind (we still need to do the popcorn garland – probably tomorrow), and so did my blogging!

A bit of a recap of the last few days:

Bible Verses/Symbols
As always, they are from Living the Life Abundantโ€™s excellent Advent post:

  • Day 7: Family Photo – Because we are all part of God’s family.
  • Day 8: JOY Ornament – Because our joy comes from the Lord.
  • Day 9: Compast – Because Jesus came to show us the way to the Father.~ We started placing items on our felt Nativity scene today: first up, the moon.
  • Day 10: Alpha & Omega Ornaments – Because God is the beginning and the end (I think A’s Greek is not up to speed on these terms though :P)~ Today’s felt item is a star (regular star).
  • Day 11: Lamb – Because Jesus’ is God’s lamb. ~ Today we placed or first animal: a lamb! Gee, I wonder why ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • Day 12: Door – Because Jesus is the door to salvation. ~ Another regular star goes up today!

And of course, we placed our daily foam tree ornaments too. Looking good!

On the 7th, we went to the library as planned to get some Christmas books. I tried to get a mix of French and English books, and I would have liked a bit more choice in Christian books, but they were mostly secular. Oh well.

We added to them some books we already had at home (I have 3 more that I forgot to include in the picture, but you can see them in the next pic on the top shelf – the green one is an Usborne touch book, “Where’s My Santa?”).

And now she has a nice setting with books in the drawer, and on top! We will try to read 1 or 2 daily. ๐Ÿ™‚

The 7th was also when we took out the little Christmas Story booklet I made, from text found on this site. It’s basically Luke’s Christmas Story, slightly adapted for children. I added a few colouring pages and the Hail Mary.

I did bake Christmas cookies for the exchange on the 10th, but I ended up doing them on the 9th, in the evening, without Miss A – or rather, my husband did the baking part, I did the spoon dumping part… We were playing tag between the kids… We made haystack cookies!

On the 10th, I took out the Christmas Story colouring booklet I made A – I googled images representing parts of the Christmas Story, and inserted some text to explain the images. A colours in it every now and then! And I try to explain to her what she is colouring as she does so.

We unfortunately had to skip the Advent party at our friend’s house on the 11th because of Miss A’s fever and coughing. Boo! But, we did manage to go out for a little bit and get some Christmas shopping done ๐Ÿ˜‰

And today, everyone is feeling better! Except the weather, boy was it dreadful out there! We nonetheless did go out, and went to our appointment for our yearly family picture. I’m happy to say that this time A didn’t freak out as soon as we got to the studio, and even though she didn’t smile, we got her to sit for the pictures ๐Ÿ˜‰ย  A huge improvement. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Miss C was quite happy to pose for the camera too.

Our appointment was at 9:20 and we were done by 9:40, with plenty of time to get to the Church service at 10, so we did that. After the service, I rented out 2 VeggieTales videos for Miss A from the Church’s library: the 3 stories in one (Daniel in the Lion’s Den, Dave and the Giant Pickle, and Esther: The Girl who Became Queen), and The Toy That Saved Christmas. She enjoyed them. ๐Ÿ™‚ All the other Christmas ones were out (or so I assume they had some of the other Christmas ones), the one I got is a good old VHS hah! A was a bit confused by the format? lol!!

And that’s where we are!


Christmas Games!

Advent countdown day 4, 5 and 6!

Our Advent Bible verses included talking about the cross and how Jesus paid for all our sins, how a heart symbolizes God’s love for us, and how a ring represents eternal life because it never stops and has no ends.

On December 4th, we trimmed the tree. Miss A absolutely loved it!

We also went to see Santa, which resulted in some tears from Miss A, but she eventually agreed to stand next to him – and us. Funny how she keeps asking to go see him, but when we actually get there… ๐Ÿ™‚ She did make him a card before we left though (her idea!!!), using our 5th hand print card, and was quite happy to give it to him:

On the 5th, we attended Church, and oh surprise! Miss A didn’t want to stay behind the bay window where the toys are, but rather go sit inside the sanctuary with Daddy to listen to the WHOLE sermon! The whole thing! Not a peep! We’ve come a long way from the little girl who ran and did the bacon dance in the middle of the aisle because she wants to go up on stage too – hah!

And today – it was Christmas Games day!

But first, we went shopping! I had a few things to get, and figured an early December Monday morning was a good bet to avoid crowds. And right I was: the mall was practically empty! Miss C, unusually, never fell asleep in the car on the way there and was still screaming when I entered the mall, so in the Manduca carrier she went* – and was happy ever after, eventually falling asleep too.

* Manduca didn’t pay me or anything for me to mention them – I just happen to own their carrier and LOVE it, and that’s my humbled opinion. ๐Ÿ™‚

We started by picking up a Christmas CD I’ve been meaning to get for a few years now (no time like the present!), and because it was part of the 2 for $20 deals (or, $15.99 alone…), I spotted a DVD version of the good old Burl Ives Rudolph classic – and, I swear this is true, I had been thinking that would be a good classic to have at home. (It’s true, I was!) We watched it after nap and A enjoyed it!

Then we went to get my sister’s gift, and that’s about when C fell asleep. A few elevator rides up and down, for A’s pleasure (the elevator is made of glass so it’s quite fun for a toddler I suppose! I met other moms, doing the same thing exactly, with their toddler… bhahaha, how to keep busy on a Monday morning), and we stopped at a frozen yogourt place to share a Gingerbread frozen yogourt – miam!

Then we went to get a Nativity scene for under the tree. I was going to go to our local Christian store and get a nice one, then thought – whatever I put down there, will get played with. And then: hmm… but that’s ok, I want her to play with it! A fellow friend posted about the Fisher-Price Little People set that they have out every year at this time, and I thought – perfect ๐Ÿ™‚

Miss A loves it!

And now – on to the games!

I had fun Googling Christmas games, printing them (I used cardstock paper) and laminating them for A.

First, I printed some puzzles from this site – I printed the Reindeer, Bell, and Elf and Reindeer ones. I felt just the straight puzzle might be a step above for A, so I printed them twice, and kept one uncut to use as a guide. Note: if I were to redo these, I would make the guide slightly paler, so that you can see where you have placed a piece – we can’t really see it that well now. The cut out pieces I laminated on both side, and the guide just on one side. I then backed everything up with magnets, so that we can use them on a cookie sheet – keeps everything from moving around too much.

Then we have a few file folder games: a Candy Cane & Stocking colour matching game I made a while ago (alternatively, they have one with colour pattern matching too, for child ready for the next step), and a Christmas Sudoku (I printed the Easy one). The Sudoku is kind of like a pattern recognition too, and they have numbers on it as well (numbers 1-4 in each square).

Each square is missing one of the items, and they each go one place once. I showed A how to place the Santa, going through each square saying “Is Santa in this one? Yes so it doesn’t go here” ending with the right one “No, so it goes here!” And then she completed all other 3, on her own, perfectly. Took them off – did it again. Smart little gal – I was thinking this might be a step ahead for her, but clearly, I was underestimating her! I stand corrected! ๐Ÿ˜‰

I also printed and double-sided laminated Memory Games – secular and Christian sets – and a Christmas Domino set. On that site, you can customize your games for many Holidays, seasons, sets of 6 or 12 for memory cards, etc. I chose sets of 6 to start ๐Ÿ™‚ And if that gets too easy, I’ll just mix them and have a set of 12!

Finally, I made some Bingo sets! One secular and one Christian. When you customize you Bingo cards, you can print as many cards as you like be refreshing the page – I printed 5 for each set (you can always go back and print more if you need), and I chose the smiley sun buttons, which I cut using a 1″ circle punch. I laminated the call cards and the buttons double-sided for durability, and backed the buttons with magnets. The cards are laminated only on one side, and backed with magnets. Again, that way, we can use the cookie sheet and not have all the small pieces moving around and being knocked out of place with busy toddlers!

I’ve been using our drawer system from CSN Stores to store all the materials needed for one craft for our Advent season. I love it – when it’s time to do one of the activities, I just pull the drawer out. Everything is ready, prepped as needed, so even if I have a crying baby in my arms and antsy toddler on my legs, I can start the craft/activity right away ๐Ÿ˜‰ I use one whole drawer for the games – now that they’ve been introduced, Miss A can pull it out and use them whenever she wants! Even the cookie sheet fits in it – great!

* One again, CSN did not pay me whatsoever for this blurb – I just like these drawers a lot, use it to organize activities on a daily basis, and wanted to share my system!

And that was our December 6th! Tomorrow – a library trip ๐Ÿ™‚

Wooden & Cinnamon Ornaments

Today is December 3rd!

We placed the 3rd ornament on the foam tree:

Todayโ€™s Bible Verses, taken from Living the Life Abundantโ€™s excellent Advent post:

DAY 3: Jesus came because we are sinners.
Genesis 3:6-7 – When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
1Timothy 1:15 – Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinnersโ€”of whom I am the worst.
Symbol: Apple

I tried talking a bit about the significance of the apple to Miss A but… Adam and Eve is a bit of a complicated subject to breach in a couple of minutes with a toddler who’s antsy about sticking ornaments on a tree.. ha! We will revisit this concept and story in time ๐Ÿ™‚

Today’s activity was to colour wooden ornaments (which I got from the dollar store) and make cinnamon ornaments! Like yesterday, we got together with our neighbours to do these – we did it as a morning playdate, and my neighbours’ daycare girl joined us. She’s a little younger though, so after 2 wooden ornaments, she called it quits and went in the playroom. The more for our older girls! I think if I had had 50 more wooden ornaments to colour, we would still have run out!

Miss A felt very “pink” today.

Then we did cinnamon ornaments, using cookie cutters. The house smells delicious!!

The final results:

Cinnamon Ornaments Recipe:
1 cup applesauce
1 cup cinnamon

Mix together to form a stiff dough. Play around with it, if it’s too wet and sticky, add more cinnamon, and if it’s too dry, just add more applesauce.

Roll out to ยผ” between plastic wrap (it’s very messy and sticky otherwise – though at the end I was just rolling directly with the roler, with a wrap just underneath).

Cut with cookie cutters. Like yesterday, you can use pencils or whatnot to “decorate” if desired. If you like, you can paint them after they are dry, add eyes, buttons, beads, glitter…

Don’t forget the hole before they dry! (a straw works well)

Let dry for several days, turning occasionally (another recipe I saw said about 2 days).

Salt Dough Crafts

Welcome to December 2nd!

As usual, we started by sticking the #2 ornament on the foam tree:

Todayโ€™s Bible Verses, taken from Living the Life Abundantโ€™s excellent Advent post:

DAY 2: The Bible teaches us about God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
John 1:1-2 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 – All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Symbol: Bible

Our activity today was to make salt dough handprints and ornaments! We got together with our neighbours and dear friends and got the girls to craft together.

We started with the hand prints (our neighbour’s daughter’s is on the left, and Miss A’s is on the right), and a foot print for Miss C.

Then we used cookie cutters to make shaped ornaments.

And pencils to “decorate” them!

Salt Dough recipe:
2 cups of flour
1 cup of salt
1 cup of water

Knead together until you get a firm dough. Roll out on a lightly floured surface. For the hand prints, make a flat circle about 1″ thick. For the ornaments, roll out about ยผ” thick and cut using cookie cutters.

You can engrave designs in your ornaments with pencils or just about anything you think of!
Remember to poke the holes BEFORE you bake them! (a straw works well)

Bake at 250 F until hard and dry, about 2-2.5 hours.

Hand Print Santa Cards

Welcome to our first day of Advent!

We started out by sticking the #1 ornament on our foam tree on the fridge:

Today’s Bible Verses, taken from Living the Life Abundant’s excellent Advent post:

DAY 1: We anticipate Jesusโ€™ birth, just as they did many years ago.
Isaiah 11:1 – A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
Psalm 27:14 – Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
Symbol: Branch

As predicted, I kind of went through the card with a semi-attentive toddler. lol! Some cards and symbols will lend more to discussion and explaining, but the branch is a bit harder to convey… in my opinion anyway.

Today had 2 candy canes in the box! Miam. Note to self: do not open the box first thing in the morning if Miss A is going to spend the morning at the neighbour’s with her daughter – she will want to eat the cane right away, not a good idea unless you have one to share AND know the mom wants you to share one! Ah well we managed to make her wait until lunch ๐Ÿ˜‰

I also feel that opening the box in the morning when we did the craft only after nap wasn’t great timing. A 2.5 yrs’ attention span is not that long, and the box was long forgotten when she woke up – the craft, by then, was just something Mommy took out at that moment for us to do. Tomorrow, I’m going to start opening the boxes when we are ready to do the activity.

And I found a use for the little pockets beneath the felt manger scene: we can store our Bible verse cards and activity ornaments in them! A visual reminder of where we’re at, and what we’ve done.

Our activity for today was to make Hand Print Santa cards- fun! They, however, involve putting paint on Miss A’s hand, in order to “print” the hand on the card… I expected that to not go down well. lolย  I should note that A is VERY sensitive – to everything. Don’t you dare touch her hair, or her head, or how about you don’t touch her at all. Clothes tags bug her (granted, they bug me too). Don’t switch the schedule on her too much or she will break down. It’s just who she is.

Anyway, so predictibly, she hugged her hand on her chest saying “No, No!” when I suggested we paint it. Ok – we’ll have to go slow. We started off by tracing her hand on the card with a pencil, and then simply painting it in with the white paint. She liked that well enough.

Then we worked on painting her hand with a dry paintbrush, and then I suggested that she paint her hand with the paint herself. Well, that did it! Or almost – she wanted me to help guide her, but hey, the paint went on! And from there – she couldn’t get enough of making hand stamps :p

The first set of cards, along with the first hand stamp:

And the finished products! (I helped with the placement of the Santa facial features… ๐Ÿ™‚ )

Oops! 3rd Advent Calendar

You might have noticed in my post yesterday that I mentioned we had 3 Advent calenders… and then went on to describe two of them.

I forgot this one…

… which we made at a craft playdate yesterday!

The kids went to town with the sticky foams ornaments (I did the sparkly garland… hehe), and then we have more ornaments with the dates in December until December 25th, to place on it, one every day – like the #1 you see at the bottom left corner.

And that’s our 3rd calendar ๐Ÿ˜‰


Happy Advent!

Ok, I realize that Advent technically started last Sunday. But our countdown calendars all countdown the days in December… so for that sake we’ll start Advent today ๐Ÿ˜‰

Yep, I said calendarS… we have 3!

I got (well, my mom paid for it, as a gift for Miss A ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) this cute one at our local Christian store: it’s a felted manger scene, with 24 characters to place as you count down to December 25th. I thought it was very cute! And we can use it for years to come. I find it a bit weird though, that you would end up placing Baby Jesus in the manger on December 24th… but oh well.

Combined to that, I’m using this cute countdown boxes kit I got from Stampin’ Up. I had been wanting to make boxes or envelopes in which I would put a family activity in for each day since a year or two ago, but never really had to the time to get around and do it. This kit came with all the boxes pre-folded, the numbers and layer at the back, the string, the ribbons, and the tiny clothspin – perfect ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve hanged it over the fireplace:

My original plan was to get Miss A to decorate the boxes with stickers, glitter glue, pom poms, and a bunch of craft stuff I got at the dollar store. Our 3 yrs neighbour helped too – she did boxes 1 and 2. But, after sticking (after come coaxing) 2-3 stickers on the back of box 3… Miss A called it a day! Ah. Well. So much for that! I have to admit I was starting to wonder if letting her do all the boxes as a 2.5 yrs was a wise idea – I hope to re-use these over the years, and what if she finds them baby-ish by the time she’s 5 or 6? Her non-interest gave me an idea: we will decorate 4 per year, 2 for each girls. So we will have them until Miss A is 7 and Miss C 5. I finished boxes 3 and 4 for Miss A this year. ๐Ÿ˜‰

In each boxes, I put daily Bible verses, which I got from this site. I printed each of them on little cards, with the daily symbol as a background, which I then laminated with book covering for durability. This year, we will only read them, and hopefully, talk about them a little bit – but frankly, I’ll be lucky if I get through the card’s first reading ๐Ÿ˜‰ย  But over the years, we can plan activities around the daily symbol – a craft, a treasure hunt, a book…ย  (sorry for the flash of the camera in the picture!)

Starting Dec. 9th, I’ve placed the felt animal for the felted calendar, to place in the manger scene. Miss A was yanking out of their pockets, anyway ๐Ÿ˜‰ย  Maybe another year we’ll use the pockets from Dec. 1st, but I felt it worked well doing it this way this year! Because, starting Dec. 19th, the daily symbols from the Bible verses correspond to a character in the manger: the angels, the Star, the shepherds, the Magi, Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. These characters went in their corresponding boxes, and so when we read the Bible verses relating to them, we will also be placing them on the manger scene. The reason we start the manger scene on Dec. 9th is that some characters boxes, like the Magi one, use up all 3 Magi and their 3 camels – so 6 characters in one day, instead of 6 days. But it made sense to do it that way! So when all the characters were in their boxes, I took the remaining manger animals (sheep, donkeys, etc.), and placed them in boxes Dec. 18th, 17th, and on, and it came up to start on Dec. 9th!

The idea of daily activities isn’t loss either ๐Ÿ˜‰ย  Using an ornament stamp and punch, I punched one ornament per day (from Dec. 1st to 24th), and wrote our activity of the day on the back. In the box they go!

And finally – some boxes get a treat! I got some candy canes, and had 18, just enough for 2 canes ever 3rd day – one for Miss A, and one for me ๐Ÿ˜‰ (my husband is not forgotten, he doesn’t like them LOL) Dec. 13th’s symbol is the candy cane, so I thought it would be nice to have some in that box. It just works out perfectly that every 3rd day brought them down to Dec. 1st, 4th, 7th, 10th, 13th, 16th, 19th, 22nd, and 25th – it’s like the candy cane symbol was place specifically for including canes every 3rd day LOL! I did cheat a bit and moved the 22nd’s canes to the 21st, as the 22nd is the Magi day, and the box was simply too full with 3 Magi, 3 camels, the Bible verse card and the ornament activity… ๐Ÿ˜‰

And what are our activities?

Dec 1st – Make a hand print Christmas card
Dec 2nd – Make salt dough ornaments & hand prints
Dec 3rd – Make wooden and cinnamon ornaments (I got the wooden ornaments at the dollar store and we just colour with markers)

WEEKEND – Dec. 4th – Trim the tree, decorate the house, go see Santa/Santa pictures; Swiss Chalet Festive Meal dinner (that’s why all the ornaments crafts came before the 4th! hih)
WEEKEND – Dec. 5th – Church; Holiday party at a friend’s house after nap

Dec 6th – Christmas games (I printed a bunch of stuff, laminated, made folder games, etc. – more details on the 6th!)
Dec 7th – Library trip to choose Christmas related books, read them (and re-read them for the rest of Advent!) I also printed a Christmas Story booklet, from the text found on this site – it’s pretty much Luke’s Christmas Story, but worded a bit more geared to children. I inserted a couple of colouring pages in the booklet.
Dec. 8th – Bake Christmas cookies (for an exchange on the 10th) We’re making haystack cookies!
Dec. 9th – Make a popcorn and cranberry garland
Dec. 10th – Christmas Story Colouring Book – I googled colouring pages to illustrate scenes from the Christmas story, and added some text to make it a little booklet. We will re-visit the Christmas Story, while colouring it! So Miss A will have that booklet, the one I made for Dec. 7th, and she has a Baby Bible Christmas Story board book – repetition is key for young ones… ๐Ÿ˜‰ hehe

WEEKEND – Dec. 11th – We have an Advent potluck playdate with the ladies from my Christian playgroup. I believe she will have a small craft to do, and we’ll be watching Veggie Tales Christmas movies.
WEEKEND – Dec. 12th – We have an appointment for our yearly family pictures; Church after

Dec. 13th – Family Starbucks Breakfast
Dec. 14th – Hand print Christmas tree (did it last year, it will be fun to see the hand print cut-outs grow!)
Dec. 15th – Address & decorate Christmas cards envelopes (and send!)
Dec. 16th – Prepare dough for sugar cookies (it needs to chill overnight); go raid the bulk store for decorating candy/icing
Dec. 17th – Bake & decorate sugar cookies

WEEKEND – Dec. 18th – Christmas party with the neighbourhood playgroup
WEEKEND – Dec 19th – Church; Wrap Christmas gifts; Make a gingerbread house

Dec. 20th – Christmas Party/potluck with our dear neighbour friends (we are really good friends with our backdoor neighbours, and our girls are about the same age and best friends too! In fact, a lot of the craft activities we’ll be doing together too ๐Ÿ˜‰ )
Dec. 21st – Swiss Chalet Festive Meal dinner; Christmas Movie Night (I ordered Rudolph and Frosty from Zip, we’ll have some treats and sleeping bags in the living room, hope Miss A likes it!)
Dec. 22nd – Bake a Happy Birthday Jesus cake (early, but we’ll be getting ready to visit family afterwards)
Dec. 23rd – Christmas Light walk around the neighbourhood with hot chocolate and candy cane for stirring
Dec. 24th – Attend Christmas Eve Mass
Dec. 25th – MERRY CHRISTMAS! Family breakfast, then off to visit relatives!

And there you have it! Advent 2010!