Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Snow

It looks like we are going to have a white New Year's!


The Nutcracker

C and R saw The Nutcracker for the first time this year.  Actually, it was my first time too and all three of us loved it.  We loved it so much that we are still reading the two books that we own about The Nutcracker.

I won The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, E.T.A. Hoffmann's Classic Tale Illustrated by Gail DeMarcken from Chronicle of an Infant Bibliophile.  C LOVES this book because the illustrations are amazing, especially the battle scenes.

The Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers is a beautiful book with much less text.  This is the perfect version of the fairy tale for a young child.  Jeffers' version is based on the ballet which also makes it a great choice for a child who has seen or will see the ballet.

We are already looking forward to seeing The Nutcracker next year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Noisemakers for New Year's Eve

We are getting ready to celebrate the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010.  Noisemakers are a must for ringing in the new year (not that my children will be awake at that time, but we can pretend).
Here is what we did:
Decorate two small styrofoam or paper bowls with markers, paint, or whatever you want.

Hot glue a craft stick (you may want to use two sticks to make it stronger, the bowls get heavy once filled) to one of the bowls.  Punch holes on the sides of the bowl and tie a ribbon through each hole.

Add some small items to the bowl.  We used jingle bells and bottle caps but you can use buttons, dried beans or pasta, beads, or whatever you have on hand.

Glue the other bowl on top (we used hot glue) and glue buttons to the end of your ribbons.  We also decided to add a little glitter glue at this point.  Allow to dry thoroughly.   You may want to staple the bowls together too. 

Make some noise and celebrate the new year!

Gingerbread Trifle

I made this gingerbread trifle for Christmas, and it was really good.  Here is the recipe:
1 13x9 gingerbread cut into 1 inch cubes
5 or 6 Heath bars broken into pieces
2 cups Cool Whip
1 custard recipe (below)

Custard ingredients:
1 1/3 c granulated white sugar
2/3 c all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
5 c whole milk
6 egg yolks slightly beaten
1 TBSP vanilla extract

To make the custard:  Combine the first three ingredients in a large, heavy saucepan; whisk in the milk.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened and bubbly.  DO NOT start on high heat - you will ruin the custard. 
Gradually stir about 1/4 of the hot mixture into the egg yolks.
Add this back to remaining hot mixture, stirring constantly.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for three minutes.
Remove from heat.
Add vanilla.
Cool to room temperature.  (Do not refrigerate because it will form a skin and get cold and be difficult to work with)

Assemble trifle in layers in trifle bowl as follows:
1/2 of the gingerbread
1-2 candy bars crushed
1/2 of the custard
1-2 candy bars crushed
1/2 of the whipped topping
Garnish the top with crushed candy bar

Keep refrigerated. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Scratch and Sketch

C got a Pirates Scratch and Sketch book for Christmas and he is close to filling up all of the pages already. This book is so neat. It has ten black-coated gold and silver glitter pages and ten black-coated rainbow swirl pages.

There are also twenty drawings of pirate life with informative text about pirates, and twenty regular paper pages for doodling.

The book also comes with a wooden stylus for drawing. You can see it in C's hand. Have you used scratch paper before? C is loving it!

*We have not been compensated in any way to write about this product. It is just something that C loves.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Rare Moment

R does not usually snuggle with Kelly. As a matter of fact, she has made it clear that she does not like doggy kisses and she prefers cats. When I saw her snuggle next to Kelly today, I ran for my camera. This is truly a rare moment.

How can my daughter be a cat person?

A few favorite Christmas memories

C and R happily left their favorite cookies for Santa and some carrots for the reindeer.

They also enjoyed spreading reindeer food (oats and colored sugar) on the lawn just to make sure the reindeer knew to stop here.

I love shopping for a Christmas dress for R. This year, her dress is from Gymboree and I love it. She looks so pretty in this simple, yet classic dress.

Here is C with one of his favorite presents, the Transformers Devastator.

He was also very happy to receive some King Kong toys. He is currently obsessed with King Kong and Godzilla.

The playmobil pyramid was a big hit too. It looks great assembled, and has some very cool features.

Here is R with her favorite present. C was very happy for her because we told her there was no way that she would get this gift.

The Itty Bitty twins (now known as Baby C and Baby R) from American Girl are receiving lots of love. The double stroller makes them even more special.

T is now all decked out in Steelers attire. Even his room is sporting a new Steelers fathead.

We had a wonderful Christmas with family and friends. Obviously, Christmas is not about the presents, but I love to remember which gifts were loved most by my children each year. Their excitement provides great memories.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Hawaiian Christmas Tree

We are currently learning about the state of Hawaii for our Fifty States Project. I was thrilled to find The Hawaiian Christmas Tree by Dawn Adrienne at our local library. This is a very sweet story about a young girl in Hawaii who believes her dream of a living Christmas tree will come true. C really enjoyed the book, but the text was a little too long for R. She loved the last page of Hawaiian words though. Here are the words that we learned from this book:
  • Aloha: Love, greeting, compassion, kindness
  • Hau'oli Makahiki Hou: Happy New Year
  • Hui E Nei: Hello, beloved
  • Ka Lei: the lei - hence Kalei (the name of the young girl in the book), meaning wreath of flowers
  • Lu'au: feast
  • Mele Kalikimaka: Merry Christmas
  • Wilelaiki: Christmas berry tree
Mele Kalikimaka my friends!

A Party for Papa

Yesterday was my father's birthday and we had fun throwing a little party for him. We made pizzas (prosciutto and onion, Hawaiian, cheese, and pepperoni) and cupcakes.

C and R loved decorating the cupcakes - they were HEAVY on the sprinkles!

Papa made a wish and blew out the candle!

Papa is a Patriots fan, as are the rest of us. Actually, T is a Steelers fan but we can just pretend that he isn't.
We hope you enjoyed your birthday celebration Papa!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas

We got a lot of snow this past weekend, and I am very excited about the possibility of a White Christmas.

It would be nice to see a few more snowflakes on Christmas! It just seems so special to have Christmas snow.

Christmas Greetings

C and R made Christmas cards for their friends with some Christmas stamps and stickers. (C was trying to push down hard on the ink pad so that is his face of strength! Also, he just likes that hat a lot.)

I already had everything on hand so this just made more sense than buying Christmas cards for them to give out in school. They had fun doing this too. I just cut card stock in half and then folded each piece into cards. They used the stamps and stickers to make Christmas designs and wrote their names on the inside. Done!

I bought the jumbo stamp pads and the Christmas stampers from Let's Explore last year. They are great and I strongly recommend those jumbo stamp pads. They are so easy for little kids (and me) to use.

Mele Kalikimaka

Guess which state we are currently working on for our Fifty States Project!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

C's Christmas House

C has an amazing Kindergarten teacher and I could not resist sharing this project that she did with the class. C is incredibly proud of his Christmas house. It is made in a large shoebox and the detail is incredible. I love it! The fact that it lights up is pretty cool too!

Here are some photos:
Rudolph is waiting patiently on the roof, right next to the chimney, while Santa is busy in the house.

Here is the back of the house, and you can see the whole chimney.
Santa's sleigh is on top of the roof too.
Here is a close up of the Christmas tree. Notice the pattern in the beadwork on the tree.Notice C's photo above the fireplace. The detail in this project is just incredible (I know I said that already, but I had to say it again).

My favorite part of C's Christmas house is the little egg carton table with milk and cookies for Santa. How cute is that?While C was working on this project, he would give me regular updates about his progress. He had so much fun putting this together. He is so lucky to have a great teacher who provides amazing opportunities like this in the classroom.