Saturday, December 31, 2011

Train Ride 2011

The vintage train in Grapevine does a special train ride on the last day of the year. It is a shorter trip than normal and is at a convenient time so we took the kids. They had a blast!

Here is Sophie pretending to go "night, night".

The train went out about half an hour then came back. The kids loved waving to the people in the cars at the intersections.

It was a great way to end the year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Advent Activities

I have several Advent Calendars (and Christmas Countdown things) that we use each year. Logan's preschool class sent home one where he had to cut a strip from Santa's beard each day, knowing that once the beard was gone it was Christmas. I also have one with small pockets that I usually use to put a piece of paper in with our daily activity. But this year I used it for Sophie, putting a puzzle piece in each pocket. She put the puzzle together throughout December. I also have a countdown stocking (with 2 pockets) so the kids got a little gift each day. Some days it went along with the activity scheduled for the day, other times it would be a small toy, edible treat, or ornament for the tree.

We did have our daily activities and below are some pictures from them.

We read Christmas books a lot, including this one.

In the book, once he got his job as Santa the elves gave him an emergency kit to take on his trips. I gathered up items from the book to create our own kit and then let the kids pick a couple of other things. We had our Elf Elmo take it to Santa on that last night.

The kids made reindeer food during the Birthday Party for the Baby Jesus at preschool. We then tossed it out in the yard on Christmas Eve.

I found this cute plate and mug set at Sam's for Santa's snack. It included a note holder so I had the kids dictate little notes to Santa.

One evening we all wrapped presents. I thought this would be more fun than it actually was.

The kids made several crafts as part of the daily activities, including these owls for the sitters at church. The owls were the gift in the countdown stocking for that day.

The first activity they do each year is write letters to Santa. I had them dictate what they wanted (with some coaching, of course), then they got to color on the note. The notes were also in the stocking.

We took our letters to Macy's to be mailed. I love how they have a tall slot and a shorter one.

One day the activity was to make a snowman (which they did as it was Logan's snowman birthday party). Another day just said to play with snow, so I had the fake snow all ready for them. Here's a doll making a snow angel.

Some of our activities corresponded with gifts from Elf, Elmo. Here the kids are making cards for Paul that the elf left for them.

Door hangers that the elf brought us. We made these for the grandparents.

We decorated all the doors, including the glass back door using gel clings from the countdown stocking.

Playing with the nativity sets. I even pulled out the ones from the hutch for a bit.

We had a different activity everyday and I was able to do them all. One thing I found helpful was just putting the activity papers in a few days at a time. Obviously there were some that had to be done on specific days, but most of the activities I was able to look at our schedule and adjust as needed. This was so less stressful for me. It also allowed me to change up some activities from things I'd tried in the past that didn't really work out for us.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Gingerbread Houses

We decorated mini gingerbread houses. This is one of those very messy, but really fun activities.

She can't say she wasn't eating the frosting.

Wasn't a big fan of all the mess.

Our family's Gingerbread Village!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Happy Birthday, Logan George

Once I decided to have Logan's first American birthday party at our house, I chose to do a Snowman Party. There is a woman who has a mobile snow cone company who does these parties in the off-season. I had Maw Susan make these cute shirts for Sophie and Logan.

The weather was actually kind of warm but rainy. The owner was concerned about doing the snowmen inside because they would melt faster creating slippery floors. Paw Briggs took the time to clear an area in the garage pushing everything to the sides so that we could get the table in there.

Each child was given a bucket of shaved ice and then they were able to make miniature snowmen. There were small twigs, pipe cleaners, beads and other stuff to decorate the snowmen.

I bought gloves and mittens at Target Spot so everyone could keep there hands warm while making their snowmen.

After we made snowmen, it stopped raining just long enough for us to have a snowball fight.

Everyone got in on the action (but I think the adults had the most fun)!

Maw Susan had made all the kids scarves from leftover fleece she had. Although it was warm enough to not need our coats.

Parade of Snowmen!

After the snowball fight, we got snow cones. Then we went inside for cake. I found lots of ideas for making your own really cute snowmen cakes and treats, but I knew that would be too stressful. So instead I ordered this cupcake cake from Walmart. It's supposed to be 2 different colors and look like balloons. I asked them to do all white, turn it then write "Happy Birthday, Logan". Once we got it home I added mini oreos for eyes, red M&Ms for a mouth, orange slice candy for the nose, and blue sugar for the scarf. The candles matched the scarf so I incorporated them, too.

It was the perfect time to have a snowman party. I got all the paper goods at the dollar store.

Before the party and after cake we played some games. I borrowed this toss game from church.

I put a big piece of white butcher paper over the front door then added paper accents to create this snowman. Then we used a piece of fleece scrap as a scarf to play "pin the scarf on the snowman".

We opened presents and Sophie had lots of fun playing with Logan's new bamboo blocks.

Playing with all the Imaginext toys.

It was a great day and I learned that I could host a birthday party at the house without too much stress.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Advent Festival

Paw Briggs and Paul took Kalyn, Sophie and Logan to the church's Advent Festival while I got stuff ready for Logan's party.

They made gingerbread houses. Kalyn ate as much candy as she out on her house.

Having so much fun!!

Of course, Santa made a visit.