Friday, December 19, 2014

{Mommy School} Christmas Tree Fun!

Christmas is just six days away. Can you believe it? This year Christmas has been so much fun. AG is at the age where she is really getting into the holidays. Each day we've been unwrapping her Advent book and doing the activity that goes along with it. We do it everyday after nap time, which is something we both look forward to. The first week of our activities, we focused on Snowmen. The past two weeks, we have focused on Christmas Trees. It has been a great way to focus on the color green and little miss is pretty good at singing Oh Christmas Tree! It's precious to watch, I wish I could just bottle her up. Here is some of the Christmas Tree fun we've had over the past few weeks.  Merry Christmas! 

Decorate the Tree
Of course, we had to start with picking out and decorating her Christmas tree. Since our big tree is fake, we've made a tradition of getting AG her own mini tree for the past three years. We go to a tree lot, she is able to pick out a small one and then we fill it with nonbreakable ornaments. As she (and Luke) get older, we have special ornaments for them that we will put on it. 

Felt Christmas Tree 
I bought this one last year at Target for $5. It came with all of the felt pieces to put on it. We have this hung on our entryway wall downstairs. She enjoys taking all of the ornaments on and off, it's been a nice activity for her to do while I cook dinner. 

Ice Cream Cone Trees
I'm sure if you asked AG, she'd say this was her favorite activity. I used green frosting, sprinkles, mini M&M's and ice cream cones for this fun snack/craft. I helped her cover the cones in green frosting and she did the decorating. She enjoyed eating the M&M's as she decorated. I didn't let her eat any of the tree when we were finished. Way too much sugar for an already wild little lady. 

Play-Doh Christmas Tree Fun 
This was the activity AG spent the most time on. I shared this picture on IG yesterday (LeahEverydayLove.) All I used was a tree cookie cutter, green play-doh and beads. I found a bracelet making bead set at Target for $1. We also did this same activity with other shapes and more beads. Heck, just pushing the beads in the play-doh and getting them out kept her busy for a while! 

Fun with Food
Our fun snack was making a tree out of apples. I added some M&M's on as ornaments, a Hershey's Kiss for the star and a pretzel for the stump. 

Button Tree 
I used the cookie cutter used for the play-doh activity above for this craft. I traced it onto felt and cut out a tree. From there, we glued buttons on to it as ornaments. I asked AG where she wanted the button, and that is where I would put the glue. She put the button on. With this craft, we worked on colors and big vs small. Placing the buttons on the glue dots is a great fine motor activity as well. 

Pom Pom Painting Tree 
Pom pom painting is always a hit with the mini. All you do is attach a pom pom to a clothespin. As you can see by the picture, AG has a blast stamping the poms on the paper to paint her tree. Here is where I found the Christmas Tree printable. 

Christmas Tree Footprint 
If you're looking for a Christmas Tree footprint craft, check out the ornament we made last year. Making a handprint/ footprint ornament has become a tradition in our house. Thanks to Pinterest, there are so many cute ideas out there. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Our Family Christmas Traditions

Christmas is such a magical time. One of the things I look the most forward to during Christmastime are the traditions we've started. 

Hubs and I started some when we were first married. Others came along after we became parents and a few were some I grew up with. 

I hope that when my kids look back and think about Christmas growing up, they'll think about these traditions. 

Christmas Cards 

I look forward to ordering Christmas cards every year. Giving and receiving cards is one of my favorite traditions. I always have my cards ready to ship by December 1st. Throughout the month of December, I look forward to checking the mail each day to see the cards from our family and friends. This year, we ordered our cards from Tiny Prints. I wanted a simple design that would compliment the beauty of one of my favorite pictures of the kids. I adore the gold foil look, it was hard to choose from all of the options available. This is definitely my favorite card to date,  the cards turned out just perfect. 

Decorating the Tree
 Growing up I always looked forward to picking out our real tree each year, bringing it home and spending the night decorating. My parents saved every ornament we've ever made them. My favorites are the ones with our elementary school pictures on them! Each one has a story and I love that about their tree. I knew I wanted to have the same tradition for my family. 

Each year we decorate our fake (big) tree and take AG out to pick out a little real tree of her own. She has her own (unbreakable) ornaments that she gets to decorate it with. When Luke gets older, it will be their tree. I love that she's able to have the tradition of picking out a real tree but that we don't have the huge mess of a big one. 

As a family we decorate our tree the weekend after Thanksgiving. Our tree doesn't have a theme. Most of the ornaments it's filled with have meaning and the rest are just for decoration. My goal for the future is for every ornament on our tree to have a story. 

Look at Lights 

Christmas lights are just magical. Every year we go out looking at lights. We bring hot chocolate, AG wears her pajamas and we drive through lots of neighborhoods in search of lights. It's a night I always look forward to. Last year we also took AG to our local zoo for a night of lights. She was in awe of it, we're hoping we will be able to take her again this year. 

Watch Elf 

Hands down, my favorite Christmas movie. We watch it on Black Friday every year with a glass of egg nog. It's our kick off to Christmas. 

Bake Cookies 

I bake hundreds of cookies each year. I give them as gifts to anyone and everyone I can think of, from the mailman to our pediatricians office. I have lots of tried and true recipes but will always try out a few new ones each year. This year AG has even been in the kitchen being my official cookie tester =-) I look forward to the day where she can really help and it becomes a mama and daughter tradition. 

Visit Santa 

Can we talk about that baby smile in the first picture?!? Those cheeks, that grin….I could just eat her up! Her first santa visit was a hit. Unfortunately, last year didn't go as well.  She wasn't a fan of the big man at all! Is it bad that this is one of my favorite pictures? The crying santa pictures is a classic. Hopefully this year will go a little more smooth. 

Keepsake Art 
Another one of my favorite traditions. These are my favorite items to unpack each year when decorating the house. Every time I look at them in the house, they bring a smile to my face. They remind me of itty bitty my littles used to be and most of all, how very blessed I am. 

Light Show
Our local outdoor mall does a big holiday light show each year. We started going when AG was a baby and have been every year since. This year AG was just mesmerized by it. I just watched her face more than anything else. There is nothing that brings more joy than seeing Christmas through your child's eyes. 

Ornament Exchange 
Every year hubs and I exchange ornaments. We both search high and low for an ornament each year that has meaning. Our first year married, we also bought our first house. That year, I gave hubs a first Christmas ornament and he gave me a home one. When AG was born, I gave him a #1 Dad ornament and he gave me a mother/ daughter willow tree one. Last year he gave me an ornament of Rockefeller center, promising that one of these years we will go for Christmas. This year, I bought a new house one for him since we bought just bought this house. We've also started this traditions for the kids. AG and Luke both have the 1st Christmas ornaments and every year we will add one to their collection. I plan on adding one each year that represents their life. You can see that AG got a princess castle this year. It's perfectly fitting since she's obsessed with princesses. Last year she got a little kitchen, which represented the kitchen she received as a gift last year. 

When the kids are grown, they can take all of their ornaments as a start on their adult trees. When they unpack their ornaments every year, they can take a walk down memory lane, just as hubs and I do when we unpack ours. 


Christmas Eve Party  
My parents have  Christmas Eve Open House every year. They've been doing this for over 20 years now. They open their home up to family and friends all night. All of the guests always take a picture in front of the tree and my dad makes a slideshow each year of the pictures from the previous years. The slideshow plays all night with our favorite Christmas songs in the background. I love seeing how much our families have grown over the years and celebrating the season with so many special people in our lives. 

What are some of your family traditions? 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Ikea Soft Toys for Education

Thank you IKEA for sponsoring this post. Buy a soft toy or children's book
 at IKEA between 11/9/14 - 1/3/15 and the IKEA Foundation will donate $1.00 to Save the Children and UNICEF.

Ever since I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I played school growing up, always using my little brother as my student. While in high school, I worked at local preschools and my desire to teach continued to grow. When I was 21 that dream came true, as I graduated with my degree and got a job teaching third grade. The biggest reason I wanted to teach was to make a difference. Teaching was my calling. I couldn't think of a more rewarding job. 

Soft Toy Image (Why) 2015_3
Throughout my career teaching, I became a second mom to my students. I was with them from 8am-2pm. That is more time than most of them saw their parents on a daily basis. I gave them my all each day because that is what they deserved. I spent a good amount of my own money, helping to provide them with everything they needed in the classroom. I not only wanted my students to fall in love with learning,  I wanted all of my students to be successful. 

Unfortunately, many children in the world do not have an opportunity to get a quality education or have teachers who are able to provide so much for them.  Thankfully, there are companies like Ikea who are doing what they can to make a difference for these children and help them get the education they deserve. 

Right now, Ikea has a Soft Toys for Education Campaign that donates money to UNICEF and Save the children. The Soft Toys for Education Campaign is a global initiative and involves the entire range of IKEA soft toys and children’s books.  For every soft toy or children’s book purchased at IKEA from November 9 2014 until January 3 2015, the IKEA Foundation will donate $1.00 to Save the Children and UNICEF.

Soft Toy Image (Why) 2015_2
The IKEA Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Stichting INGKA Foundation, the owner of the IKEA Group. Its vision is a world where children living in some of the world’s poorest communities to have more opportunities to create a better future for themselves and their families.
It aims to create substantial and lasting change by funding holistic, long-term programmes in developing countries that address children’s fundamental needs: a place to call home; a healthy start in life; a quality education; and a sustainable family income.

Since the Soft Toy campaign began in 2003, the IKEA Foundation has donated $90.4 million to UNICEF and Save the Children enabling more than 11 million children in 46 countries to have the opportunity of accessing a quality education. Last year alone, the IKEA Foundation raised $13.6 million (10.1 million euro) and over $1 million was raised in the US. This year, they will probably go over $100 million in total contributions since 2003. You can be part of the impact this year. You can purchase a Soft Toy or Children's book from November 2014- January 2015 and Ikea will donate $1.00 to children's education projects through UNICEF and Save the Children.  The money will help UNICEF and Save the Children train teachers in child-friendly teaching methods, improve child protection systems, supply educational materials in the schools, help rebuild schools, provide better water and toilet facilities, and increase school attendance rates.
Soft Toy Image 2015_2
You can help this campaign continue to be successful. Think of checking off some of those gifts on your list with a Soft Toy or book from IKEA
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Luke- 2 Months Old!

My Baby Boy, 
You've been in our lives for two months now.  I feel like the first month I was just in awe of having two children. I looked at you day in and out, thanking God for giving you to me. We stayed home most of the month and just snuggled the days away. This month, we got out a little bit more. We took a few trips to the park and took your sister to see some friends. On the weekends, we've been getting into our new family of four groove. Things are definitely busier than they've ever been but we couldn't be happier. Especially during this time of year. The joy and magic of the holiday season is even sweeter with a little baby at home. 

You are such a sweet boy who has the most adorable smile and the chubbiest cheeks! You are a mamas boy through and through. If you don't see me close by, you're not a happy camper. Once I'm in your eyesight, you're okay and the smiles start. You are definitely an easy going baby (compared to your sister.) You don't really have much of a witching hour anymore or lots of fussy time. You only cry when something is wrong and you love to be held. At the end of the month you started to coo and it is the sweetest sound. Your sister is still obsessed with you, especially now that you're able to interact with her more. She loves talking to you and holding your hand. When you see her and hear her voice, you light up. I cannot wait to see your love for each other grow through the years. 

At the end of the month your sister got a nasty cold, which turned out to be RSV. We tried our hardest to keep you two away from each other in hopes that you wouldn't get it, but we weren't so lucky. A few days after your turned two months, you also got RSV. Thankfully it was never serious and you continued to be a happy baby. The whole experience was definitely harder on mom and dad. Thankfully, almost a week later you're back to normal and we couldn't be more grateful.  

This upcoming month is my favorite month of the year. We have a lot planned for your first Christmas. Lots of time with family, friends, baking and maybe even a trip to see santa. We have a lot to celebrate this year and I plan to make this month as special as I can. Happy first Christmas baby boy, we love you so. 


Baby boy LOVES to eat!  You go about 3 hours during the day.   At night, you'll give us a 6 hour stretch. After that 4am feeding you'll sleep another 2-3 hours.  

12 lbs!

22 inches

Diaper Size:
Size 1

Clothes Size:
0-3 and 3 month

Hair Color:
Dark Brown

Eye color:
Dark Blue/ Grey

Monthly Highlights: 
*Started Cooing 
*Sleeps 6 hour stretches
*Loves to be talked to
*Enjoys afternoon walks 
*Celebrated Thanksgiving 
*You LOVE Bathtime 
*Not a huge fan of tummy time 
*Love playing on your play mat