Monday, December 10, 2012

Advent Activities - first week (1-8)

This year has been so fun preparing for Christmas with the girls. With  my schedule how it is, I finally feel like I have the time to enjoy the season with them and truly make each moment magical.

Each morning, the girls take turns on the various advent preparations we do. One of them gets to move the star forward a day on our countdown calendar. The second gets to open that day's advent activity envelope which is always propped up for them next to our small, antique Christmas tree in the morning.

The first day, we enjoyed making Christmas picture frames at Home Depot. The first Saturday of every month, Home Depot does their kids workshop from 9 AM - 12 PM. I thought this would be a fun advent activity for them, as they love being creative and doing their "art projects." The time was complete with swinging hammers, screwdrivers and lots of paint. Home Depot even gives them their very own orange apron and a pin for every workshop they complete. We will definitely be doing this more throughout the year!


On the second, after Kasen went to bed, we took full advantage to the hot chocolate bar permanently set up in our house right now and watched some Christmas movies. One of the movies we watched was Veggie Tale's Christmas Story. It was such wonderful timing for questions that have already been escaping the girls' mouths; since we have never made a huge deal out of Santa around Christmas, the questions about who he is and how he does what he does have been coming up. Without trying to kill the magic about that side of Christmas, we have tried to give them the answers they were looking for. The Veggie Tales Christmas story talks all about St. Nicholas and his desire to help people in need. It also talks about why we give gifts on Christmas because God gave us the greatest gifts - Jesus - because He loves us so much!  It was fun for them to understand that Christmas gifts are given because we love people - not because we have to.  It was also great for us to encourage that the idea of Santa comes from a real man who loved to help others because of God's love, so we should long to help others in need too.

The third day was a sad day....we were supposed to make ornaments. However, we have a rule that if we aren't obeying that day, we don't get to do our fun activity. And it was that kind of a day (probably because I let them stay up late and have lots of hot chocolate...dumb mom....). So, we didn't get to do this activity. I'm saving it for next year. The good news is, though, that we have had fairly obedient children since then! :) However, they did have a fun night as Grandma came over to play with them so mommy and daddy could escape for a few hours!!

Following our discussion about St. Nicholas and why we give gifts on Christmas, I thought it was important that the girls go through all of their toys and donate those which they don't use or feel like they could give to others who don't have a lot of toys. Their playroom is seriously exploding and knowing that Christmas and birthday's are right around the corner makes it all the more urgent to purge where necessary.  So, why not make it an advent activity so that they can bless others and be grateful for what they have? This was our fourth activity.

The fifth day I had to go into the office for work. So I had a simple activity of coloring Christmas sheets. I printed about 30 free ones off of the Internet and let them go to town. Now we have Christmas Coloring Sheets as decoration on our art project door. Totally festive and fun for the girls to participate in the decorating with their creativity.

On the sixth day I had the kids make a Christmas gift for daddy. I wish I could post it here but, alas, he will read it and know. So you will have to take my word for it that it was really fun and the girls are reminded every day to keep the secret (it's torture for sure!)

Friday night, the seventh day, lent a little more time to do something more in depth, as the next morning wasn't as early. So that night I had planned a trip to the mall for dinner, ice-cream and visiting Santa. The kids' cousin Ella and friend Gavin joined us as we had Chick-fil-a (or Chicken Way) for dinner, Baskin Robbins for dessert and then stood in line for the magical experience of visiting Santa. Kasen did not meet Santa this year as he is pretty nervous around...well, anyone except mommy when it is night time. The girls loved it, though, and I loved how even through they know the truth, it is still a fun, magical time for them!! (I wish I would have a picture, but they wouldn't allow us to snap our own this!)

Saturday...the day I had been looking forward to forever!! We had found out that one of our downtown parks put up a free skating rink for the first week of December, with skate rentals. So, this definitely had to be added to the advent calendar for my girls who "ice skate" with their socks on the wood floor whenever possible. Opening that envelope was priceless as they squealed for joy. Mia even tried to explain to me that she was so good at ice-skating because of her sock moves on the hardwood...explaining any differently to her would have been a waste of my time that would never return, so we let her live in her delusions for a few more hours.  The rink was wonderful...and difficult. Because of the fall like weather we were still having, it wasn't real ice but rather the fake plastic that can be skated on. I found it more challenging than I thought it would be. But we figured it out and the girls slowly got the hang of it. Most importantly, it was a fun experience that they can't wait to do again....on real ice! Grandmama and Papa came with us to watch Kasen and encourage the little it was extra special for the girls!


We have moved on to week two as the excitement builds toward Christmas day :)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Pear Pie Crescent Rolls

My cravings for pie got the best of me. I, however, am way too impatient to wait for an entire pie and then watch half of it sit on the counter all week potentially going to waste. So I decided to make these tasty treats...and they were super easy...and super delicious!

First I used a traditional pear pie recipe and then trimmed it down for my 8 crescent rolls:

2 Medium sized pears, peeled and thinly sliced
1 Tbs brown sugar
1/2 Tbs all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
sprinkle of ginger and nutmeg
1/3 tsp of lemon juice

Mix it all together. Try a pear slice, or two, just because you can. (I wish I had a picture of the mixture to insert here)

Next, I pulled out a tube of Pillsbury crescent rolls.

On each triangle I placed a few slices of the pie mixture on the wide part of the triangle. Then I loosely rolled them up. Following the directions for the crescent rolls, I baked them at 375 for 10-12 minutes.

They are perfect size for the little hands in your family, and small enough that you don't feel guilty eating more than one. :)