Friday, December 30, 2011

Tradition #11-Chistmas PJ's

When I was a little girl....and yes sometimes when I was an adult, my Mom would buy all of us matching pajamas that we would open on Christmas Eve to wear on Christmas morning.  The new pj's always added to the excitment of Christmas Eve and was something I wanted to carry on with my own children.
 Besides, who can resist how cute they look all ready for Christmas?
I can only hope these 2 will still wear matching pajama's when they are teenages.  


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tradition #10-Light Walk

Each year on Christmas Eve, we enjoy a light walk through the neighborhood.  It helps to burn off some Christmas excitement and gets us ready for our dinner.  After going to the Candlelight Christmas Eve service, we bundled up in our boots, hats and mittens and headed out for a walk.  This year was perfect, as we had just gotten a fresh layer of snow, so it made for a fun walk.

 The kids finished the walk with a few snow angels.

 And decided to get Dad with a few snowballs. 
It was a great way to start our evening and is one of the traditions we love.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Tradition #9- Preparing for Christmas

The month of December is a special and sacred time in which we can prepare for the arrival of Christ.  It is a great time to read the Bible and remember when Jesus was born in the stable so many years ago.

As part of our advent this year, we read a daily devotional for the book below every night at dinner time.  It is a great resource for parents that has daily devotionals that walk you through the Christmas story, give you a variety of advent activities, questions to discuss and prayers to pray.  We enjoyed our time reading this book and the kids would ask to listen to the advent story every night at dinner.  It was great!      
 Although, we didn't do all the advent activities.  The book was flexible enough that we could pick and chose and do those activities in which we had time and resources for.  Here is R. making a simple tree ornament. 
 As part of the advent we even had a birthday party for Jesus. 
In addition to the advent, we also have a "Christmas Counter Downer" to help the kids count down the days and get excited for Christmas.  Within each door is a felt ornament and piece of candy. 
 The kids take turns opening up a door and choosing a carol to sing. 

 They eat their candy and place their ornament on the advent tree then push the star at the top that plays "Jingle Bells." 
 Each night while the "Jingle Bell" song plays the kids have a "tickle race" with Dad around the kitchen that usually ends in the kids get caught and tickled.  It is a little wild, but is a fun memory we all have of the "counter downer." 
As Christmas Eve comes to an end, the countdown will be over and the true celebration will begin.  Of course the kids are excited for Santa, but because we prepared they are also excited for Christmas.  This morning my daughter woke up bright and early excited for the Christmas celebration.  As we sat in the dark watching morning cartoons she said to me, "I can't stop thinking about Santa, stockings, Christmas trees, Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus."   Kids will be kids and are always excited for Santa, but I am glad that we prepared and that even at a young age, my daughter understands that Christmas is more than just presents and Santa.  

Hope you all have a blessed day!

P.S.  For more info about the Advent book, visit their website at

Tradition #8-Cookies, Cookies and More Cookies

fWhat is Christmas without Christmas Cookies?   l love to bake and preparing cookies to eat over the holidays, more importantly Christmas Morning is a tradition that I love and have grown to love even more as the kids have gotten older.  We make several kinds of cookies, but the kids love the Spritz, Sugar and Gingerbread Men cookies the best.  Most likely because they get to help decorate them.   
 OOPS!   We have had several mishaps with the sprinkles this year.   Just more sugar, right?

 We know what this guy likes, the dough!  Looks like he's has a little too much. 

Think Santa will pleased with his cookies this year. 

Merry Christmas!


Friday, December 23, 2011

Please LIKE Me!

I am entered into Lindy's Stamp Gang "Linky Party" Contest. Please check out the link below and vote for your favorite holiday craft. Mine is the the first link, Santa Handprint Ornaments. Please vote for me, I could win a gift certificate to Lindy's. Thanks!!!!

Lindy's Stamp Gang: Christmas Linky Party!: Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from all of us at Lindy’s Stamp Gang! We’re hosting a Linky Party with a prize, and you’re invited! Che...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tradition 7- "A Humble Stable"

New traditions can be fun.  Yesterday we had some friends over and the kids created these cute little stables with Mary, Joseph, shepherds, sheep, a donkey, angles and of course Baby Jesus.  This was the perfect activity for kids of all ages, ours ranged from 2 1/2 years-9 years and all were happily engaged during the entire time.  J. the youngest enjoyed eating the candy, watching the "big kids" and talking, while W. the oldest carefully constructed and decorate each piece of his nativity.  

Here are the final projects. They turned out pretty cute.  (Click on the picture if you would like to see a larger version.) Now each of my children have their own nativity displayed in their rooms.   
 Making a little sheep using a jumbo marshmallow and black licorice. 
 Hay made from coconut with a sweet angel on top. 
The idea came from here with instructions and a recipe for frosting.  I just used store bought frosting and took inspiration from the picture. 

It was a great morning with friends to celebrate and remember the greatest gift that was born on Christmas morning in, as E. would say, "a humble stable."  

Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tradition #6-Not My Favorite Tradition

Tradition #6 is not my favorite and I am not quite sure if it can really be considered a tradition.  But the kids seem love it and it seems to happen at least once every year, so I guess I can call it a tradition.  With all the packages that arrive around the holidays, we have an abundance of boxes and popcorn/"snow".  Every time a box arrives, it is so tempting for the kids to jump inside and throw all the popcorn out, but usually I am quick to stop it before it gets out of hand.  Occasionally I am not quick enough and then we end up having an indoor snowball fight.   
 Bulldozers work great to plow the snow. 
 This snow is so cold you MUST wear a coat of course. 
 It does happen every year, here's the proof.

A different occasion, 2010.
Thankfully the kids are pretty good about picking up the mess, that way Mom only has to be a little cranky. 

We are hoping for a couple inches of snow before Christmas, but if not we will be content with our indoor snow.  


Monday, December 19, 2011

Tradition #5-A Sweet House

Another favorite tradition of ours is to put together and decorate a gingerbread house.  I remember my Mom making a gingerbread house every year for Christmas.  She would wake up bright and early and bake and cut the gingerbread before we all woke up.  Waking up to house filled with the smell of gingerbread baking will be something I will never forget. 

I have made a few gingerbread houses by scratch many, many years ago before having children, and let me tell you it is not a simple project.  The gingerbread has to be baked just right to be able to cut and construct the house perfectly.  I don't know how my Mom did it every year!  Eventhough I miss the smell of freshly baked gingerbread, I will happily purchase and construct the premade houses for my children.  It is just so much easier.   

Each box you purchase comes with bag of sugar mixture you can use to decorate, but I find that my Mom's royal icing recipe works better.  It hardens and holds the house together more quickly. 

Royal Icing:
3 Egg Whites
1lb. Powdered Sugar
1/2 t. cream of tartar

*Beat icing for 7-10 minutes
Cover with towel when not using so it doesn't dry out.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Tradition #4-Visiting Santa

We love taking our annual trip to River Park Square to visit Santa and enjoy all the sights and sounds of Christmas in the city.  This year we decided to go the first Friday in December, thinking it wouldn't be quite as busy, boy were we wrong!  With several holiday concerts, The Nutcracker and the Nordstroms private sale, Riverpark Square was packed.  We still had a fun time enjoying a holiday dinner out and visiting Santa.  Both kids were ready with their requests, R, a pink flamigo in a bag (???? hopefully Santa will be able to come through with that) and J, monster Lego's. 

 I love this candid picture of the kids talking to Santa.  They are both at a great age and truly believe.  How fun it is to celebrate with them and see Christmas through their eyes. 
 Next we bundled up and headed out for a horse drawn carriage ride around town. 
 "Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells....."
 Posing by "Snicker Doodle." 
As always, it was a great night to be together and see the all the pretty sights of Christmas.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mini Shopping Bags

I just love CTMH Art Philosophy Cricut Cartridge mini shopping bags and have used them so much this holiday season.  They are perfect for sweet treats, ornaments and any small gift.  This week's Heart 2 Heart Challenge was to use the very festive and colorful wreath below to gather inspiration for a project.  I loved the color combination and all the polka dots and was inspired to decorate some mini-shopping bags as gifts for my daughter's dance teachers.  Do you see the inspiration?  
 I used the black tone on tone plaid paper from the Sweatheart Workshop on the go pack, the Pear B&T paper for this spring's Sophia paper pack, and punched the Sunflower stars out of the snowflake stocking stamp from October's Stamp of the Month. 
 Create your very own custom polka dot tissue paper by using the eraser of a pencil as a the perfect stamp. 

So simple, yet so cute.  Scrappin' makes me happy!


Tradition #3-Farm Fresh Tree

Each year we visit Greenbluff to find and cut our very own perfect Christmas Tree.  How lucky we are to have access to all the fun of farm life; strawberries in the spring, peaches and cherries in the summer, apples and pumpkins in the fall and Christmas trees in the the winter.  We were a little bummed there wasn't any snow this year.  Last year we trudged through a foot and a half of snow to find our tree, it was awesome.  We still had a great time enjoying the fresh outdoors this year.  
This year we chose a little blue spruce.  It is a pretty little tree, although it was a little tough to adorn with lights, as the needles are a little prickly.
Best part of the trip!  Ready to head home while eating our free candy canes.
The kids enjoyed decorating this tree with their annual hand print ornaments and home made ornaments from church and preschool. 
R even insisted on using her holly hand print ornament as mistletoe.
Why correct her when it led to some sister and brotherly love?
This is a fun tradition we love.  I hope this is something the kids will continue to want to decorate and add to on their own as they grow older.