Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Paper Crafts

Merry Christmas, JAKS readers! I hope your day was merry and bright =D

I have so many super cute Christmas pictures that I'm going to break it up into several different blog posts. Plus I know when my parents come visit they will take a bunch more pictures so at least I'll have several posts to make in the next few days.

Today's post is about the various paper crafts I made to decorate for Christmas. First up is a large, 3-D six pointed paper snowflake. The tutorial I used to make it can be found here on Instructables. It's made from six pieces of standard copy/printer paper. In the original tutorial the author uses a stapler to connect the points but I used double sided tape instead since I was too lazy to get our stapler out of our craft box upstairs.
Hanging in the archway between our kitchen and our living room.

The next craft is a Christmas card holder. I used this tutorial from Kojo Designs based on her tea wreath. I'm not really happy with the ribbon I used but it was the only stuff I had around the house that matched. The original author used 24 clothespins but I only have 22 on mine to allow a little more room for each card. Last year I made this Christmas tree out of an old magazine and used it to hold our cards. They are both fun but I think I like the wreath a bit better since I can see the card faces easier.
I'm not sure how many years this will last but until it falls apart, I really like it.

Next up are the paper ornaments hanging in our bedroom window. The tutorial came from I Am Momma, Hear Me Roar. It's a quick and easy craft and the result is very pretty. I didn't have too many sheets of scrapbook paper in Christmas colors lying around so unlike the original author I only have two side strips instead of three on the big ones and only one strip on the little ones. They are hung with fishing line.
Please ignore the rain on our window.

The paper snowflakes are my favorite craft. These remind me of my childhood and I haven't made them since, well, I was a child. I wanted to make them more advanced so I used two different tutorials for inspiration. The first tutorial came from Instructables and the second came from How About Orange. I even convinced the Hubs to make half of the big ones and he is so amazing that he just came up with his on his own. There are two more big snowflakes and two small snowflakes on another of our smaller windows but I couldn't get a good picture of them. K decided we needed the small ones to represent her and her soon-to-born baby sister since she decided the big ones were me and Daddy.
These are on our front laundry room window.

The last two paper crafts are for K to play with. The first one is a printable nativity scene I found on How About Orange. K loves it! She continually gives me Mary (since she's the Mom) and she keeps asking me if she can sleep with Baby Jesus. I'm going to leave these out until they break. Perhaps next year I'll get an actual set she can really play with.
I had to darken the image quite a bit to get the faces to show up so our kitchen floor isn't actually brown, it's gray. ;)

The last craft is a tutorial I found on Make It and Love It. A little while back I found this set of Melissa & Doug stickers at Meijer and one of the pages has these little sticker dress up dolls that K really enjoyed and actually did a super job at dressing them up. So, when I saw the magnetic version I knew K would like them. It was a very tedious project that A and I did on Christmas Eve night. It was one of those projects that seemed like it would be quick but took a lot longer than you expect. It was worth it though because right after she opened it she was playing with them. The only problem we've encountered so far is that the heads on these dolls are very large and their necks are super tiny so the magnet on one of the necks has already cracked but thankfully the adhesive held so the head hasn't come off. I'm not sure how to remedy this situation since K uses the head to pull the doll off the fridge. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know!
The paper doll book and roll of self adhesive magnet came from Hobby Lobby.
I promise I'll post photos of the family in the next entry. =D

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Countdown Books

I originally saw the idea to do an Advent Calendar with books on the blog site, Made.  I thought it seemed like a great idea given how much K loves books. We were lucky enough to own several Christmas books already although I did have to buy quite a few. The good news about this kind of Countdown is that you reuse the books year to year since they only come out in December (or replace a few depending on the age range of the books).

Here is a picture of our books and I've included a list of the ones we're using this year. Even though it might be a little late to start yourself, it's a cool idea to keep bookmarked until next year. K is so excited to open a new book every night (plus it gives me a chance to use some of my favorite hand-painted wrapping paper).

Obviously the pile on the left are the ones still to be opened and the pile on the right are the ones we've already opened.

These are the books we already owned:

The Mouse Before Christmas by Michael Garland
Christmas is Coming, Marley by John Grogan
I'll Be Home for Christmas (Toot & Puddle) by Holly Hobbie
Let It Snow (Toot & Puddle) by Holly Hobbie
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey Saves Santa by Sheila Sweeny Higginson
Reindeer Run by Julia Woolf
Olivia Helps with Christmas by Ian Falconer
The Little Drummer Boy by Ron Berry
Christmas in the Manger by Nola Buck
Frosty the Snowman by Jack Rollins
The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore
Rodney Reindeer and the Holiday HATastrophe! by Tom Shay-Zaplen

These are the books I bought:

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Rick Bunsen
God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa T. Bergren
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Donald's Christmas Gift by Sheila Sweeny Higginson
The Mitten by Jan Brett
The Animals' Christmas Eve by Gale Wiersum
Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner
Humphrey's First Christmas by Carol Heyer
Room for a Little One by Martin Waddell
Mortimer's Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson
Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson
Merry Christmas, Curious George by H. A. Rey
If You Take a Mouse to the Movies by Laura Numeroff
Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree by Robert Barry

So far K has really seemed to like all of the books she's opened. I have a few as back up for later years ('The Polar Express' and 'Saint Nicholas: A Veggie Christmas Story (VeggieTales)'. Also, I decided to use 25 books instead of 24 like a typical Advent Calendar because I think it's more fun to open one gift each day, including Christmas. If anyone is interested I would think that all of these books can be found on Amazon.

I hope you all are enjoying these last few days before Christmas and aren't going too crazy. K and I went out to do a bit of shopping today and everywhere we went, it was PACKED. It's hard to believe Christmas is only 9 days away! Tonight Grandpa came over and we all went to the mall together to buy K's Christmas present. She has become a Build-A-Bear junkie and picked out her 7th "Furry Friend" - a pink Hello Kitty. She has gotten to the age where anytime we go to any store, she wants something. Usually it's not too expensive but that kind of stuff adds up and it's SOOO hard for me to say no when she looks at me with those big beautiful eyes of hers and says "Puh-puh-puh-please." (I can thank Daddy for that one.) Today at Once Upon A Child she picked out this ratty old doll and told me it was cold and needed to come home with her. She was getting tears welling up in her eyes and saying, "But it wants to be my doll." Oh my gosh, are you kidding me!?! How am I supposed to resist that kind of torture? I was the SAME WAY as a kid and I still have that kid inside me who wants to "save" every stuffed animal friend I see. The only thing that kept me from caving is that this was a seriously ratty doll. Thank goodness it wasn't a new one or something or I'm sure we'd have it. I think we're just going to have to avoid stores for a long, LONG time.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Happy Birthday and Visiting Santa

Yesterday was the birthday of my husband, the most wonderful man in the world. He is the man of my dreams and the most amazing father our little girl(s) could ever ask for. He is so selfless that for his birthday we went to visit Santa Claus and go swimming. At least we had dinner from his favorite Chinese restaurant. What a guy!

So as I mentioned above, we had "Lunch With Santa" yesterday at the local Recreation Complex. It was quite fun actually. When we arrived the Civic Band was set up and playing Christmas songs. We were served hotdogs, mandarin oranges, chips, a juice box and a treat for dessert. The perfect lunch for a kiddo. After we ate it was time to get in line to talk to Santa. K wasn't as enthusiastic about talking to him this year but she still did really good and even gave him a hug and kiss before she hopped off his lap.

Santa was very cute and sweet. It was nice having a Santa with an actual mustache and beard.
K brought along Clarice from the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer movie. She is obsessed with that movie right now.

After Santa left a local children's musician played fun Christmas-themed songs for the kids. K loved it and immediately ran out to the dance floor. She was jumping and spinning and shaking her jingle bells with all her heart. This girl LOVES to dance and will take any and every opportunity to twirl and wiggle to the music.

Bottom left: Neither of her feet are touching the ground.
Bottom right: Daddy was nice enough to hold K's headband around his neck while she danced.

After the dancing was over we put on our bathing suits and headed for the pool. I laughed to A about the fact that who would have ever thought we'd be swimming on his birthday! K did really great. She was really having a great time holding our hands and "swimming" to us. She was doing a great job kicking her feet. I think her favorite part was laying back on me and kicking her feet to splash water at Daddy.  This wonderful man really spoils us girls and we love him so much for it. Happy Birthday, my angel. I love you.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Beginning of the Christmas Season

On Saturday we packed up the family van and headed out to cut our Christmas tree. Having come from a family of fake trees, I absolutely love this tradition. There is nothing more fun to me than finding the one perfect tree. It signifies the beginning of Christmas and I can't wait to get it home and decorated.

K and Daddy walking down the path to the trees.
Left: Daddy, K and Grandpa cutting down Grandpa's tree.  Right: K and Daddy looking for the best spot to cut down ours.

K checking out the stockings that were hung with care.
Left: Saying "Ho, ho, ho."  Right: Just looking cute.

After we got our tree home and in the stand we headed out to one of the local zoo's to see their light display. I've never been to a zoo light show and to say I was amazed is a gross under statement. It was spectacular! K loved it as well and really enjoyed dancing to the synchronized light/music show. The number one comment heard that night was that it was the most crowded anyone has ever seen the zoo. Since I had never been, I have nothing to compare it to but I will say it was pretty crazy (or as A said, "It was a zoo." Har har) I'm guessing the warmer temperatures had a lot to do with it. But here is the most amazing part. As we were standing in line to buy our tickets, a guy walks up to us and says, "Need two tickets?" I figured he was scalping zoo tickets which is pretty crazy although the line was quite long so I wasn't too surprised. Anyway, he hands us one adult ticket and one child ticket FOR FREE. Wow! Now all we had to do was pay for one adult ticket. As we were marveling about this awesome fortune of ours, a lady walks up and hands us ANOTHER FREE adult ticket and says "Merry Christmas." WHAT??? We totally didn't have to pay for any of our tickets! By the time the night was over and we had paid for our hot chocolates, rides on the carousel, hot apple cider and funnel cakes, we still hadn't paid as much as the price of admission would have been for the three of us. It was like a Christmas miracle!

The pictures don't even do it justice to actually being there.

K *LOVED* the carousel. She was smiling so huge and saying, "I'm flying!"
Left: She really enjoyed the penguin exhibit. Right: Even after 4 hours there, two of which were after her usual bedtime, she was still smiling and having fun. I think she would have stayed longer but this Momma was getting tired!

What a perfect way to start the Christmas season!