Friday, November 27, 2009

Advent Activities

I've had this advent calendar for years, and the girls love it. Everyday you hang another miniature ornament on the tree. This year we'll be adding activities to the mix. The idea is to do a Christmas or family activity every day of the advent. If you google "advent activities" it seems like everyone and their mom is posting theirs. I put each activity on a piece of paper, then tucked in into the calendar. Certain activities are better closer or away from Christmas, some lend themselves to weekends or normal days of the I thought about that too.

Here's the list we'll be doing this year...not in this order...and yes there's over 25, we'll be starting this Sunday.

  1. Paint everyone's toenails
  2. Have hot chocolate with all the fixin's – Christmas Tea Party
  3. Rake/Jump in Pile of Leaves (ours are still falling!)
  4. Go bowling
  5. Watch a Christmas Movie- Mickey’s Christmas Carol or Little Women together
  6. Look at family photo albums or scrapbook
  7. Make paper snowflakes to hang from ceiling/in windows
  8. Make a Christmas ornament
  9. Making handmade cards for relatives
  10. Take photos in Santa hats/next to Christmas tree
  11. Make M&M cookies, Give away a cookie jar to a friend
  12. Make Paper Toys from the website "The Toymaker"
  13. Read a Christmas story together
  14. Make holiday treats to give away to Visiting/Home Teachees and Teachers- Christmas tree bread, Teddy Bear Bread, Flavored Popcorns,etc.
  15. Go to the thrift store/dollar store and give each child a dollar to spend on a gift for daddy/mommy/each other/his-herself
  16. Teach children how to draw Christmas trees/stars/snowmen
  17. Make Family Bingo or google a Christmas Bingo game
  18. Find or make Felt Mistletoe, hang it in our house and kiss under it.
  19. Have a Christmas Music Dance Party
  20. Go on a walk at night with flashlights to see Neighborhood Lights
  21. Make a Gingerbread house
  22. Read Christmas story from the Bible and the Book of Mormon
  23. Pumpkin Pie or Egg Nog or Peppermint Milkshakes
  24. Purchase gifts for a needy child
  25. Make Sibling Gifts
  26. Family Talent Show
  27. Play Santa Claus with pillow case and gifts wrapped in blankets

And here's some more activities that didn't make the cut, but might next year:

  1. Take a bubble bath (okay, we can't all fit in the tub, but the kids can do this)
  2. Do mom's hair (brush, braid, add hair clips)
  3. Make Paper Trees or Merry Christmas Garland, or homemade Nativity Scene
  4. Build a fort or tunnel.
  5. Make thumb-print animals and people with paint, add the details with a marker.
  6. Do this name game: Think of an attribute that begins with each letter of that persons name, for example:
    N-natural O-observant A-adorable H-humorous
  7. Homemade marshmallows
  8. Go Ice Skating
  9. Host a Christmas Sweater Party or Christmas Cookie Party
  10. Put up a ribbon sash for Christmas cards/Display Christmas Cards
  11. Make a popcorn garland
  12. Make Caramel Corn/Chex Mix or Eat out at a festive restaurant
  13. Wrap Christmas Gifts
  14. Go to the Temple to look at Christmas lights
  15. Go to a showing of The Christmas Carol or The Nutcracker Ballet
  16. Go to a town Christmas Festival

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Thanksgiving Daley Style

At Family Night on Monday, we made smoe turkeys. Using our hands. Apparently Natalie's turkey likes to dance.

Then, on Thanksgiving Day, we made some name tags. I bought the felt turkeys from JoAnn Fabrics a month or so ago, 12 for a dollar. The paper is from the DCWV fall stack.

Then we set the table. See the fancy chair bows? Came with a clearance napkin/tablecloth/pad set. I'm not really a chair bow person, but the girls LOVED them. Then begged me to make their table just as fancy.

Their table included centerpieces of turkeys from, and butcher paper for coloring.

The day also included a Christmas tree craft by Meggan, some computer gaming, and turkey sugar cookies (Circle for the feather background and a Number 1 for the body and beak).

And now, the menu...

One butterball Turkey
Sweet Potato Casserole- in the slow cooker
Pistachio Cool Whip Fruit Salad
Spiced Cinnamon Orange Punch
Green Bean Casserole
Frog Eye Salad
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Pecan, Triple Berry, Apple, Pumpkin pie
Stovetop stuffing
Grandma Daley's Whole Wheat Rolls
Artichoke dip for Appetizer

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Preschool This week: Letter M and Service

First Up: Letter M lesson plan

After worksheets and opening exercises, the girls put their hands inside a tissue box and pulled out an item that started with was a riddle for me to go around the house and find items small enough to fit that started with M.

For our craft we did M&M graph charts. Each girl got two fun sized bags of M&M's. I found this M&M chart to use. They sorted their candy by color, then put them in rows over each color, as seen in the picture.

Each girl counted how many were in each color, and wrote that number above the row. Then they colored in a bar or a dot for each candy, so they'd have a chart once the M&M's were cleared away.

Then we went through each color, and they looked around to see who had the most and the least of reds, then blues, etc. And then we went through numbers, and found that one person had no reds, who had one of a color, two of a color, etc.

For the rest of the day, we read 5 little Monkeys sitting in the tree, and 5 little monkeys jumping on the bed, and acted them out while singing.

Today's theme was Service.

We talked about serving our families, and doing someihtng nice for someone without expecting anything in return.

Then we made cards for a little girl with a long term illness. We found her information here on Make a Child Smile.

While they were making the cards, I pulled away each child to make a Cookie Jar. I found the recipe here for Cowgirl Cookies on Bakerella's blog. We just used Christmas M&M's instead of pink ones.

The girls brought home one cookie jar to keep and make with their families, and one cookie jar to give away to a friend or neighbor.

Then we played Freeze Tag. Do you remember freeze tag? Part of the game, as I remember it, is once you are frozen, someone has to crawl under you to unfreeze you. I thought it was a great active part of our service. The girls were so excited to unfreeze someone, there would be two or three girls unfreezing each frozen girl. It was adorable.

We read some books that included kindness and service, and then we talked about a service turkey. It's my made up idea, I don't know if it will work. Here's the chart I gave them:

It's a list of 14 ways to serve within their families. Then I included a copy of this turkey, from skip to my lou. She has a whole set of Thanksgiving printables for the kiddos to do while you make a meal for the masses.

The idea for the turkey is that each time they do a service, they color in an acorn or a leaf, then the turkey last. I was hoping this would provide some kind of incentive to serving, simply the tracking of progress to make it fun. We shall see.

I'm going to remind the girls when they help me and do extra things to color it in, maybe that will get them excited about helping out around the house!

Feel free to use my chart above for your family, let me know how it works out for ya.


It's no secret that I have DCWV stacks for each season. One of my favorite things to do with that sturdy fancy scrapbook paper is create packages.

These are my main packages.

First, tote bags made from two pieces of paper. Add ribbon for handles and you're good to go.

2. Cereal or snack boxes covered with scrapbook paper for mailing

And my latest....copying off a Panda express take out package. (Isn't Panda Express the best? I mean really? Can I get a witness!)

I traced it onto the paper and cut it out. The lines to fold the package on are at tricky angles, so it took a few tries to figure out how to work it.

Eventually I decided to put the original package on top. Together I folded the package along it's fold lines, giving the scrapbook paper the same fold lines.

Then I carefully folded the scrapbook paper side triangles (the parts below in white) over. It took two tries, and then I had to correct the bottom corners so it was level. I hot glued the side triangles and tied a ribbon around instead of adding a wire handle.

Perfect for holding candies, little presents, or cookies!

Oh and if you want just white or blue or pink gingham, the dollar store has mini ones (about 3 inches tall) about 8 for $1. So don't waste your time making mini ones!

Stegosaurus Liam

Last week a darling baby boy joined the world on Sophia's Birthday. No, it wasn't mine, but a dear friend from high school and college, Kassie Thompson. He was named after my father, but he goes by Liam. Welcome the world Baby Liam! I sent Kassie this package last week, but along the way I took some pics, so maybe you can make one of your own. It's really simple once you wrap your head around it.

First, you need a scrap of fabric, about 12 inches by 18 inches. I free handed a dinosaur shape below, that's about 12 inches by 6 inches. If you're more cautious than that, google stegosaurus. Whatever shape you come up with , add about a 1/2 inch around for seam allowance. Fold your fabric in half , and cut out 2 of these shapes, each one will be a side of the dinosaur.

Then, I cut out pieces of ribbon in coordinating colors, as seen above, to about 5 1/2 or 6 inches. Ribbon width varied from 3/8 inch grosgrain to 1 inch jean fabric sewn to be like ribbon (seen below). Vary texture and color so it's more interesting for the baby. One of my ribbons is sheer, one jean, and the rest grosgrain.

Take one side of the dinosaur shape, and pin the ribbons all around, facing the inside. (once you sew and turn right side out, then they stick up) The important part here is to have the ribbon length inside the seam to be similar, and to keep the ribbon perpindicular to the curve of the dinosaur. If it's not, the ribbon will be at funny angles. They might overlap inside the dinosaur like below.

Sew two parallel seams all the way over the curve of the dinosaur.

Then line up the other dinosaur shape on top, right sides together, pin, and sew all the way around, leaving an opening on the tail or head for turning right side out. I sew with two seams. Careful around the legs, it's really easy for the fabric at those right angles to not be sewn right.

Turn right side out, stuff with polyfill and a bell if you want a jingle saurus.

Pin the opening closed, sew.

Hand sew an eye and mouth if you like.

You're done!

Now go whip up some burp cloths and a baby blanket, and make a baby happy!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

How to tell if you're friend is pregnant

Ok, so let's say your friend does not look
like this quite yet..But 5 bucks says she feels like this. .

So you have a semi good friend that you talk to all the time...or she rambles about her life on her blog or facebook. She seems like she might be gaining a few pounds, and you're sure she wants to be preggers, but not sure if she is? Here's some tell tale signs. As in, real thoughts or comments from the past 2 months...

  1. "I want mustard for dinner...what can I make that involves mustard..."
"Today I heard the song Skater Boy by Avril Lavigne. And thinking about that girl looking up at the guy she missed out on dating because she was so shallow...made me cry."

"The soft pretzel shop in the mall is like a siren song to deter my shopping odyssey"

"We are buying a minivan! Just so I don't have to bend down and buckle in my kids anymore"

"Totally tried salt and vinegar chips on my turkey sandwich today. It was the best."

"My kids voices seem to have gained a 3 decibel higher range overnight."

"Kids, this is mommy's bowl of buttered popcorn (huge mixing bowl)- and this is your bowls (normal sized bowls) no sharing, we don't want each other's germs....(as in, I'm not going to share with you!)"

"Barbie and the Island Princess...instead of laughing at it's ridiculousness, I cried. Hard."

"Ugh there is nothing to blog about...except the foods I'm obsessed with"

In my case, they suddenly need another hair tie for their pants as well as their ponytail....and they want maternity clothes for Christmas.

So be on the lookout....there are pregnancy clues looking everywhere!

p.s. That picture is me three years ago it was Christmas and I was 8 months pregnant. I was tired. Very very tired. But I strained a smile for posterity's sake. Hooray for me.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Today's Mama Sleigh of Gifts

Today's Mama always have these amazing giveaways. The sleigh full of gifts for this year is worth over 3 THOUSAND dollars, and is pretty much everything you could ever want to make cool stuff. Screenprinting. Cricut. A bike. I think I would faint if I won. So you should enter...on second thought. You don't need all that stuff, if you don't enter my odds are better :) Just kidding. But I expect a consolation prize if you win and you heard about it from me.

Here's my official blog entry...
Mama’s Holiday Wish List MemeTodaysMama and Provo Craft are giving away a sleighful of gifts this holiday season and to enter I’m sharing this meme with you.

1. What 5 items are on your holiday wish list this year? Glass mixing bowls, A candy thermometer, Martha Stewart's Craft Encylopedia, maternity clothes, and a huge mirror for my entryway.

2. What is your favorite handmade gift you have received? Blankets for my babies, my aunt makes amazing quilts that are heirlooms.

3. What handmade gift have you always wanted to tackle? Making a purse. I've never done it, but I have about a dozen tutorials printed off.

4. What was the best Christmas gift you received as a child? A huge castle 3-d puzzle. I love figuring out how to put it together, that's what I love about sewing.

5. What items are on your kid’s wish list this year? Princess anything and everything.

6. What is your favorite holiday food? Wasail, white chocolate chex mix, pecan I have to pick just one?

7. What will you be hand-crafting for the holidays? Calendars for the whole family, and some puzzle picture blocks, cookie jars for preschool, as well as Holiday message blocks.

8. What is your favorite holiday movie? Elf and Home Alone

9. Favorite holiday song? Celine Dion- Oh Holy Night

10. Favorite holiday pastime? I love baking all day long with my kids and decorating the christmas tree. And watching a new movie every night at my in-laws.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Butterfly Ice Cream Cake Goodness

How to make an Ice Cream Cake
(special thanks to Laura Oler for teaching me this cake/ice cream method)

1- "2 layer" cake mix- any normal sized box mix will do. We used Funfetti.
1- 2 qt container of ice cream- we used strawberry
1- large (16 oz) tub of cool whip. I used a little over half, so just an 8 oz one might not be enough.
Purple food coloring- and any candies you might use to decorate.
Butterfly cake pan, or shape of your choice. (Bought mine at michael's with 40% off coupon)
A cake leveler, or large serrated knife
Estimated cost for just the food- $7-$10.

1 day before the party, or super early in the morning if you're party is at night:
So here's what you do- prep the pan. Slather it with shortening, dust with flour, let no crack or molding be shiny.

Get out your mixer. Here's mine, named Natalie.

Make the cake mix as usual, pour into your pan, bake for time as outlined on the little booklet that comes with your pan. Or as usual for a round cake pan.

Let cool for 10 minutes in pan. Take a knife or cake leveler and trim the hump or uneven parts of the cake, so when it's flipped over, it's on a level surface. Put a plate over the back of the pan, flip it over, slide it onto the cooling rack.

Let cool for the next hour or so. Put your ice cream in the fridge to soften. Check it periodically to see how it's doing. When it's good and soft, do the next step.

(Side note, if you forget to put it in the fridge ahead of time, you can do like me and microwave it, but you'll end up with ice cream still slightly frozen in the middle, and soupy ice cream. You'll have to mix it together, it won't be pretty. Just think ahead a little.)

Then you wash out the pan, stick plastic wrap all over the inside.

Slice the cake in half, as shown above. Use a cake leveler (which makes it really easy) or a knife carefully. The tricky part is once it's cut, to put the pan over the cake, and flip it. Now there's two sides in the pan. I then put the rack back over it, stood it up vertical, and slowing seperated the pan and rack, pushing on each side so the top is in the pan and the bottom is on the rack. Good luck. A husband or friend might be helpful at this part.

Here comes the fun part

Slather the ice cream all over the cake. I used all 2 quarts. It gave a good inch or so layer of ice cream in the center. Flip the rack with the cake bottom onto the pan.

Cover with saran wrap and foil. Keep in the freezer for a minimum of 4 hours to freeze the ice cream, and I'm not sure the maximum. Place your cool whip in your fridge if it's not there already.

So that afternoon, or the next day or the day before the party or right before you serve...

Cover a baking sheet with foil if you're eating the cake another time. OR put small pieces of foil around the serving platter if you're serving right then.

Flip the cake onto the pan/platter. Peel off the plastic wrap. Cover it with cool whip, like the first picture here.

Take a small amount of cool whip (I used about 1 1/2 cups) and tint the color of your choice, put it in a plastic baggie, cut off the corner, and decorate as you'd like. Remember cool whip is thick, so I used a large opening and not a whole lot of detail, like rosettes or any of that fancy pants stuff.

If you're serving the cake in more than 10 minutes, stick plastic wrap and foil over the cake and freeze until serving. If you're eating immediately, pull out the foil and cut. Enjoy!

  • Use vanilla ice cream instead of cool whip (that's reportedly what baskin robbins does)
  • The cake/ice cream combinations are endless- mint ice cream with chocolate cake, chocolate and strawberry, etc.
  • Add crumbled up cookies or graham crackers under or over the ice cream layer.
  • Cupcakes- Coldstone makes these cupcakes that are similar concept yet delicious.
Enjoy your cake! It's worth the effort!

Butterfly Birthday Party

Yesterday was Sophia's 5th Birthday Party.

We did a triple birthday party with two of our friends from our church, who's birthdays fell on the same week.
I made the invitation above on MS Publisher, using free digital scrapbooking elements I'd collected over the past few years. Then I saved as a .jpg, and sent it to CVS to get 4 by 6 prints. Love the glossy effect and the quality. Plus they were free with signup online.

the birthday girls with their wings on

As guests arrived, we passed out these wings to wear, they were one of the favors. Hooray for the dollar store Halloween costumes!

Last week we cut out 50 or so butterflies from scrapbooking paper, then the day of the party the kids stuck them all over the walls. It was a great job for the kids while we hung up decorations. And I realized just how much wall space I have as they decorated the foyer and living room and kitchen area....we could have easily had three times as many. For full effect, it would be fun to do the butterflies in a line across the walls in waves.

Here's a shot of the decorations of the kitchen and living room. I put up my girly banners from the baby shower last year, Happy Birthday banner and we made additional pom poms. (Half of them fell by the time the party was over, which added an element of surprise).

As the kids came in, we passed out wings and had them decorate paper bags with more scrapbook butterflies and tissue paper cut to look like grass. I got this idea from martha stewart, but her idea was a bit more polished (but then again, it was made by editors, not 5 year olds). They liked it.

Then the games begin.
First up: Freeze dance. We used the Nutcracker soundtrack.

Second: Caterpillar, Caterpillar, Butterfly. (duck duck goose basically).

Third: Was supposed to be elefun , with paper butterflies. But mine were too big and heavy. So I tried to have them fly off my hand from a huge house fan. Um. FAIL. The butterflies flew about 6 inches from my hand, resulting in a massive 5 year old pile of hands and bags. So I just threw them in the air. Worked great. All two minutes of it. If you try this, practice first.

Then we made a craft (of course, this is a crafty house, remember?)

The kids colored wooden butterflies or flowers, then they were hot glued to a clothespin, and a self adhesive magnet attached to the back. Voila! Paper clip for the fridge. Wide possibilities for this craft- attach glitter, or use markers, use whatever shape fits your party, whatever magnet's you've got. By the way, wooden shapes go on sale 5/$1 at Michael's every couple weeks.

Alisha did face painting, in case you noticed, and then the kids played outside while we got the cake ready.

Oh the cake! Another post on that coming shortly. (HERE IT IS!)

Pretzel butterflies were also served, modeled after pretzel butterfly cupcakes from Martha Stewart. Alisha did ganache for the bodies, some with marshmallow for our allergy kids. Big hit.

We sang Happy Birthday, blew out the candles (notice natalie helping), ate some cake, and played outside.

The girls took home their decorated bags, their magnet craft, a set of wings, and the scrapbook paper butterflies they caught during the butterfly game.

All in all, all our plans happened with only a few hiccups, the kids were extremely well behaved, a triple party is definitely less work overall, and we had a ton of fun.

Happy Birthday Sophia!
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