Nov 23, 2013

Celebrating Christmas the whole month of December

So I decided to do a little something different this year to countdown the days of Christmas. The past couple of years we have gotten little chocolate advent calendars from Trader Joe's that have been great. But I was thinking about spreading out the Christmas presents throughout the month of December instead of giving the girls everything all at once. They will still get grandparents gifts the day of and a few things from us as well, but I wanted to make the whole month of December special by creating fun memories, keeping traditions, and helping the girls get in the Christmas spirit. Plus, by putting certain dates/activities on the calendar, it will guarantee we do it. Otherwise, we might not fit it in, which is what happened last year.

I remember seeing this image last Christmas season and it stuck with me, so I knew I wanted to do something with paper bags.

I also knew that I wanted to make Jesus and His birth our focus. A friend recommended the devotional book The Advent Jesse Tree . I ran out of time this year to get the book (maybe next year), instead I used this list to base our bible reading off of each day. The idea is to read the scripture each day before opening the bag. And to follow the story of Jesus' birth in chronological order.

Here's a peak of the bags once I finished.

I used red paper bags instead of white and hand painted numbers onto each of them. Then I wrote out each scripture reference on strips of paper and glued it to the corresponding bag. It sounds like more work than it actually was. Not pictured is the pretty mint green masking tape I used to close the bag.

The hardest part was brainstorming 24 different "things".

A peek at my brainstorming

And scheduling our different activities. (Why did this picture upload crooked???)

So, here's what I came up with. For the gifts I tried to buy a few things at the dollar store or BOGO free type items along with a few other nicer things like the books and lovies. I listed the GIFTS and ACTIVITIES so you could see how they fall. Plus, I listed "tradition" if this is something we do on a yearly basis or something I would like to make a tradition going forward.

1. GIFT - Felt Nativity set with Nativity stickers (thanks to my Mom!!)

2. GIFT - new coloring books 

3. GIFT - God Gave Us Christmas book

4. GIFT - A new Daisy & Dolphin 
(two lovies the girls have wanted for a while)

5. GIFT - their own pack of Raspberry Vanilla Cupcake Gum
 (a new sugar-free flavor from Orbit!)

6. ACTIVITY - go to the Christmas Party at church

7. ACTIVITY - go to the Christmas Parade downtown - tradition

8. ACTIVITY - go see the live Nativity - tradition

9. GIFT - new set of coloring pencils

11. GIFT - 2 new nail polishes - pink and sparkly glitter pink
Of course we will have to have a little mani/pedi too!

12. GIFT - small pack of Jellybeans for each of them
(the girls have been fascinated by jellybeans after reading these books)

13. ACTIVITY - Family movie night
I'm thinking Polar Express in our pajamas complete with popcorn and hot chocolate. Can you believe we've never done this before?? I'm really looking forward to it!tradition

14. ACTIVITY - go to the Festival of Trees downtown - tradition

15. GIFT - Ornaments
Each year we give the girls a new ornament. This year Marc and I picked them out together on a weekend getaway to Helen, Georgia. It will be fun to get them on the tree with plenty of time to enjoy them. Plus, they will serve as a good memory of that trip together. - tradition

16. ACTIVITY - baking sugar cookies using our Christmas cookie cutters - tradition

17. GIFT - new lip gloss for each of them

18. ACTIVITY - go see the Roper Mountain Lights display - tradition

19. GIFT - Hello Kitty and My Little Pony stickers (thanks to my mom!!)

20. GIFT - Mint M&M's

21. ACTIVITY - Ice Skating - a Family Adventure
Originally I was thinking we would go to the outdoor rink, but I don't think they are having one this year. I think we can still do this (and on the first day of winter!) at the indoor rink.

22. ACTIVITY - Mimi & Pappy Arrive. 

23. ACTIVITY - Decorate a Gingerbread House - tradition

24. ... This is the only day I don't have something specific planned - we have our normal family traditions like going to church, etc. but I'm not sure what else we will do.

I couldn't hang the bags on the wall as shown in the first picture because I knew the girls would get into them. So I put them on top of our kitchen cabinets. They fit perfectly up there. And add some fun festive color too.

I am super excited about our advent calendar. I think the girls will really enjoy opening their bag each day. Plus, it will make us more intentional during the month of December to read the Christmas story and make/keep family traditions. 

I hope you are inspired to make your own traditions this years and be specific about making family memories during this busy season. It's not too late to make your own advent calendar. 

Nov 11, 2013

the CAT house

Today we went to the CAT house - or otherwise known as Creating Artists for Tomorrow. The most incredible place that I never knew existed until a few months ago even though I have driven by it almost every day and it is less that a mile from my house which never happens. (how's that for a run on sentence??) They offer a wide variety of art classes, camps, etc. for kids, which I can't wait to enroll Taylee in as she has specifically asked to go to "coloring and crafting school." My girl.

During the school year they have table time for toddlers/preschool aged kids in the mornings. Different stations are set up with different activities and crafts. It's almost like heaven for me except its a lot of work too. Anything goes. I love the freedom to create and just be without rules. Can I paint on the wall? Yes. Can I paint on the floors (hardwood floors mind you)? Yes. Can I paint the stairs and windows and doors and siding and trees and bushes and berries and any other available surface? Yes. Love. Also, both my girls enjoy going which is always an added bonus.

The end.