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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Window Marker Christmas Tree

Yesterday I showed you how we decorated our Christmas tree.
Well here's a fun idea for the kids and it can be redecorated as often as you want.
I saw THIS on Pinterest and thought it looked like fun so we made our own:




Using the Crayola Window Markers (amazon affiliate link), 

I drew a Christmas tree on the outside of our patio doors. 


Then, I let my 4 year old use the markers to draw ornaments and decorate the tree from the inside.  She even added a few presents under the tree.


Now we can wash off the inside of the door to create new ornaments each day while the tree stays up on the outside.  The easiest way I've found to clean off the Window Markers is to use a Clorox wipe.  It was much more efficient in removing the marker than Windex.

Oh, and if you have to leave the room for a few minutes to take care of your baby, you might come back to find this: 

That is just one way we are having fun getting ready for Christmas.  

We are also doing the Elf on the Shelf.  You can click HERE to see our Elf's adventures.  

And we are doing an Advent Calendar.   
With a new baby, I needed something easy.  Last year I used a 24 count muffin tin and had activities planned for each day.  You can read all about that HERE.  Like I said, this year I needed to take the easy way out and what's easier than buying an advent calendar.  
I got this one made by Playmobil (amazon affiliate link).  It has doors numbered 1 - 24 to open each day and a piece of the playset is behind each door.  I bet these will go on sale after Christmas so that would be a good time to stock up for next year.

The girls (ages 10 and 4) have both enjoyed opening up a door each day and getting a new toy to add to the scene.  They are both really into horses so this scene was perfect for them.


What fun things are you doing to lead up to Christmas?




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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas Tree Decorating

We usually put up our tree on December 1st.  I like to get through one holiday before decorating for the next.  However, this year we put it up before Thanksgiving.  Why so early?  Because the Wyoming grandparents came to visit and we celebrated Christmas early.  


I even got a little smarter with how we put the tree together.  Maybe you've done this all along, but I never thought to put the tree skirt on first - before I put up the rest of the tree.  I usually get our tree put together and then have to crawl under the lower branches to fix the tree skirt so it looks nice.  Not this year.  I put the tree skirt on first then added the rest of the tree.  Next year, I'm going to be even smarter and add the angel on the top before adding the top piece of the tree.  Why has it taken me so long to learn these simple tricks?  Or why hasn't anyone told me about it before?


Another thing we did differently this year was in the way we decorate.  As the kids have gotten older, or maybe it's because I've gotten older, either way I've given up control over how to decorate the tree.  Plus this year we have a newborn and I don't have as much time to fuss over how the ornaments are placed.  We decorate our tree in red and gold.  I don't do a new theme or color each year.  I like the red and gold and don't feel like storing multiple color schemes anyway.  In addition to the red and gold we have lots of handmade and other special ornaments.  Each child has ornaments that are theirs including ones they have made at school.  I have been storing each child's ornaments in separate bags.  So when it came time to decorate, I gave each child their bag and asked them to hang up their ornaments.  They hung all their ornaments in one section or cluster.  Usually we have them spread all throughout the tree.  I liked this new arrangement.  Each person has their own section of the tree.  I even put my husband's ornaments in a cluster.




How do you decorate your Christmas tree? 
Do you put the tree skirt on first?


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Monday, December 15, 2014

Elf on the Shelf 2014

Here is what our Elf on the Shelf has been up to lately:

Day 10 we found her reading a favorite Christmas book.
Day 11 she was waiting to get her hair done.
She must have been hungry on day 12 because she was hiding in the cabinet next to the breakfast foods.

Day 13 she got all wrapped up with Christmas presents.
Day 14 hunger strikes again and she was caught about to eat a muffin over in the play kitchen.
Day 15 she hid out in a house made of blocks.


Last week we found her in the following spots:

Day 5 we found her helping out at the animal hospital.
Day 6 she was drinking out of my 4 yr old's Dora cup.
Day 7 she was feeling a little be country and was hanging out in a cowboy boot.

She's certainly not afraid of heights as we found her getting ready to slide down the banister on day 8.

Day 9 she was admiring the latest picture of kid #4.  I agree, he is a cutie.


Here is what she was up to two weeks ago when she first made her arrival.

Dec 1st
  
The first morning she was found hanging on for dear life on the kitchen lights.
She had a note for the kids which read, "I'm back.  I see there is a new member of your family.  I've hidden an ornament just for him on your Christmas tree.  Love, Lily"

The kids checked the Christmas tree and sure enough there was a new ornament with the baby's name on it.

Days 2, 3 and 4 found our elf hanging out in a stocking, riding a horse and delivering another ornament (this time for our 4 yr old).  

It's a good thing I'm up in the middle of the night nursing the baby, or else our elf might not have come this year much less change locations each night.  I'll try to do a weekly update on where our elf appears.  If you want to see what she was up to last year (the first time we did the Elf on the Shelf), you can check out THIS POST.



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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Lemon Coconut Macaroons

Here is an easy to make and delicious recipe that would be perfect for holiday gatherings.  I have to thank my sister for making these delicious macaroons and for sharing the recipe.


Ingredients:
2 eggs whites,
1/8 tsp salt,
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk,
1/2 tsp lemon extract,
1/2 tsp vanilla extract,
1 (14 oz bag) shredded sweetened coconut, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper, NOT wax paper, they're not the same.
In medium bowl, whisk egg whites and salt until frothy (approx. 2 minutes).
Stir in condensed milk, lemon extract, and vanilla extract.
Using a rubber spatula, fold in the coconut until well combined.


Shape mixture into 1.5 inch mounds and place about 1 inch apart on baking sheets.  I used a rounded teaspoon measuring spoon to scoop out the mixture into mounds and place on the baking sheet.
Bake until lightly browned (approx. 20-23 mins).
Let cool completely.
Makes about 6 dozen. 


These are a great dessert to take to parties because they make a lot and are easy to serve.  Just pop them in your mouth and enjoy!



And if you're in need of Elf on the Shelf ideas, you can check out our elf's adventures HERE.




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Monday, December 1, 2014

The Origin of the 12 Days of Christmas

It's December already, and that means Christmas is just around the corner.  So let's start off the season with the truth behind a popular Christmas song.  Last year a friend posted this on Facebook and I thought it was interesting.  I love finding out the meanings behind things and how traditions gotstarted.


The Real Story Behind the 12 Days of Christmas

Catholics in England were prohibited by law from practicing their faith, both in private and in public from 1558 to 1829. Being a Catholic was treated as a crime. There was no restored gospel at the time, however there were good Christians who knew without doubt the true church was not one that was mainly created merely for the convenience of King Henry the Eighth who wanted to sin and have a church justify his actions. 

So in secret they continued to teach their children their Christian religion. 

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" was written in England during this time frame. 

It was written to help children learn about their religion. The entire song is written in symbolism and hidden meanings because it was illegal to have anything in writing that would indicate adherence to the Catholic faith. To be caught could mean imprisonment, hanging, or being drawn and quartered.

Christmas referred to a twelve day period that starts with Christmas day. "The Twelve Days of Christmas" referred to a twelve day period that began Christmas day. While the world may have celebrated Christmas for about twelve hours, these Christians celebrated it for twelve days as a reminder that the gifts of God are with us for twelve months of the year. It also represented the idea that we should be thankful for the gifts of God and follow His teachings for all twelve months of the year and not just one day a year. 

The song begins, "On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me..." The "true love" represents God, as our greatest love should be for Him. The word worship means that which we love the most. The "me" who receives these presents is the Christian man or woman.

1. The "partridge in a pear tree" was Jesus Christ who died on a structure made from the wood of a tree. In ancient times a partridge was often used as mythological symbol of a divine, sacred king.

2. The "two turtle doves" were the Old and New Testaments - another gift from God. Doves symbol- ize peace and the Gospel contained in these scriptures, when practiced, brings peace.

3. The "three French hens" were faith, hope and love - the three gifts of the Spirit that abide (I Corinthians 13). The French hens can also represent God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost.

4. The "four calling birds" were the four Gospels which sing the song of salvation through Jesus Christ.

5. The "five golden rings" were the first five books of the Bible also called the "Books of Moses."

6. The "six geese a-laying" were the six days of creation.

7. The "seven swans a swimming" were "seven gifts of the Holy Spirit." (I Corinthians 12:8-11, Romans 12, Ephesians 4, 1 Peter 4:10-11) "For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to other divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues; But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will." (I Corinthians 12:8-11)

8. The "eight maids a milking" were the eight beatitudes.

9. The "nine ladies dancing" were nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness,
temperance: against such there is no law." (Galatians 5:22)

10. The "ten lords a-leaping" were the Ten Commandments.

11. The "eleven pipers piping" were the eleven faithful disciples.

12. The "twelve drummers drumming" were the twelve points of the Apostles' Creed. 


Now when you hear or sing The 12 Days of Christmas, you'll know the meaning behind it.



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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

It's the Little Things

Life is made up of the little things, the seemingly inconsequential things we do each day.

It's the little things that matter most.  Little acts of kindness such as smiling to our neighbors, not getting mad when a child breaks something, and taking the time to listen to a loved one



Happy Thanksgiving!




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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Family, a Little World Created by Love

Here's a non baby post for you today.
A while back I made this cute little sign with some wood, paint and vinyl.


 I originally did the letters in black.  And used laminate paper instead of contact paper.  They are NOT the same.  The letters really stuck to the laminate paper and were so hard to peel off that I gave up.


I started over with white letters which I liked better anyway.  They 'popped' more against the red.  However, the white vinyl wasn't sticking so well in some areas.  


So I set the project aside for a few months, had a baby in the meantime, and just a few days ago decided to check on it.  I think the red paint had time to cure and now the letters are sticking just fine.

Here it is on my mantel.  
I know, I really need to update my pictures now that baby #4 is here.



And speaking of baby #4, here he is:


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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Babies do come with Instructions

Who says babies don't come with instructions?  Not me.

Now, I don't claim to be an expert, just a mom with years of experience.  
And I know every child is different so while this technique may not work on every child, it works with most children.

When our first child was born (almost 12 years ago), I took a childbirth class.  In that class they showed a video called "The Happiest Baby on the Block".  It was such a good video, that my husband took notes.  It was like magic that the doctor would take a crying baby and make him calm down.  This was a technique we wanted to remember.  Little did we know that our first child was going to be 'high maintenance' and these techniques would be a life saver for us.

The five S's are the techniques shared in the video and book that we've used successfully with each of our children.  It really does make calming a newborn easy by just using the five S's.  I've included an amazon link to the book in case you want to check it out for yourself, just click HERE.



So just what are the 5 S's?
1.  Swaddling (swaddle you baby)
2.  Side (hold them so they are on their side)
3.  Shh sounds (make a shhhhh sound)
4.  Swinging (gently bounce or swing them them)
5.  Sucking (let them suck on a pacifier or your finger)

We use these techniques when our baby is fussy or when we want him to go to sleep.  Sometimes you just need one or two of the techniques such as swaddling and shh sounds, but sometimes you need all 5 to calm your baby.

And it works like magic:






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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

One Month

I can't believe it's been a month already since we welcomed this little guy into our family.  


An easy way to see how much he's grown is to take pictures next to the same object.
I've been taking weekly pictures of him next to the same teddy bear.
Here he is at week 1, 2, 3 and 4:


And because I couldn't stop at taking just one picture, I also took a picture of him in this bean bag.  Again we'll be able to see how much he's grown over the weeks and months as I plan to do this every week for his first year.


And since you can't really see his face in the above pictures, here are some close ups:


The kids love having a little brother.  They love him so much that we have to take turns holding him, and sitting next to him in the car.  I guess if the kids are going to fight over something, this is a good thing to fight about.


Here are some pictures from just after he was born.  I know life is harder with a newborn but I couldn't wait for him to be born so I could hold him and that's pretty much all I did for his first week.  This little guy has been great.  Aside from the occasional off night, he sleeps fairly well and we've gotten into a good routine.   Life is great!
  



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Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween 2014



Last night was our town's Trick or Treat night.  It seems weird not to have it on Halloween night, but that's the way we roll in PA.  Wednesday night we had Trunk or Treat for our church, click HERE to read more about that.  Like I predicted, the Babes decided to dress up as something else.  The other kids kept their same costumes, but the Babes decided to be Merida from Brave.  We even had a bow for her to carry and used a red hat to simulate Merida's red hair.  Not too bad for pulling this costume off at the last minute.


 And here's the whole gang:  the pumpkin, the artiste, Merida, and the skater.

You can't see the baby very well in the previous picture, so here's a close up.  He did so good for his first trick or treat, and by good I mean he slept through it all as I carried him around from house to house.

The kids met up with a few other neighborhood kids and they all walked together.  There was a wide variety of costumes.
Remember the house with the spooky windows?  It looked even better light up at night.


Happy Halloween!!


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