Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Day 7: New Wrapped Christmas Book & Nighty Night North Pole

Today's activity and book were two-in-one:





I found this little gem for $4.00 at Marshall's! It has buttons that light up the picture at the top. It is breathtaking!! And, I don't feel like I'm spoiling my child by letting him open a present before Christmas :-)


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Day 4: Avila Valley Barn and The Animals' Christmas Eve

 On Day Four of our 25 Days of Christmas Activities, my son, our dog, and I went to Avila Valley Barn. It is one of our favorite places to visit, especially during the holidays!

The grounds around the parking lot are beautiful, so we walk our dog first (we don't take her in because we don't want her to scare the farm animals :-)



Once inside, the grounds are beautifully decorated for the holidays:


And, there are animals to feed. For just $1.00, you can get a bag of veggies to feed to the animals:





My son's favorite part of Avila Valley Barn during Christmas are their Christmas trees:


Tonight's Christmas book is one of my favorites: The Animals' Christmas Eve. It's the story of Jesus' birth told through the eyes of barn yard animals in flowing prose:



Here's my son sounding out the title:



After typing my blog title, I realized how perfectly the activity and book match! It wasn't planned :-)

Friday, December 4, 2015

Day 3: Christmas Tree Lot and King of the North Pole

This morning, my son turned around our Christmas Activity card to discover a trip to the Christmas Tree Lot. 


We waited until it was dark because it is best under their Christmas lights. Bundled up and hot cocoa in hand, my son and I, and sweet Sammy Sue, took a walk through the forest...



...until we came upon Santa Claus...



....and a herd of cows?


To make this night even more memorable, we got rained on! No umbrella, no rain jackets, so by the time we got home, we were cold and wet. I threw my son in a warm bath and then we retired to bed for our bedtime story.

Tonight's book was B's choice: The King of the North Pole. I'll admit, it isn't my favorite Christmas book, but he loves it, so I read it with as much animation and excitement as I do my favorite Christmas book (see tomorrow's post for mine :-)



He cracks himself up just taking a picture walk!

Day 2: Ornament Shopping and The Christmas Mouse

Tonight, my sister took her three grand kids and my son to Ace Hardware so they could each pick out a special Christmas ornament. Every year, I have chosen a special ornament for my son, but this year marks the start of a new tradition:





Some hot cocoa and balloons after shopping:


When we got home, he placed his ornament on the little tree on his side of the bed. It holds special meaning this year because it has a doggie on a Christmas bell that looks like our Saint. This will be our first Christmas without our boy:


After the excitement of hanging our ornament, it was late, so we chose a short board book, The Christmas Mouse:




Even though these activities are meant to slow down the holiday season, some nights require a quick read, so we have a few of these little board books on hand :-)

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Day 1: Holiday Craft Night and Little Critter

Day One of our 25 Days of Christmas Activities, we launched the holiday season by hosting a holiday craft party for my son and his cousins. After running off some steam outside, we made ribbon Christmas trees:


Though they didn't quite turn out like the one I found on Pinterest, the kids had fun making them:




For snacks, I melted white baking chocolate for the kids to dip pretzel sticks and roll in Christmas colored sprinkles:




It was the perfect way to get the kids in the mood for the holiday season.

After everyone went home, my son and I started our annual 25 Nights of Christmas Books tradition. Every night during the month of December, my son and I read a different Christmas or Winter-themed book. I started this tradition his first Christmas. Over the past four years, we have added to our collection and made wonderful bedtime reading memories.

I like to start the month off with a fun book, with one of my son's favorite book characters, like Curious George or Little Critter. Tonight, we read "Little Critter Merry Christmas" by Mercer Mayer:





I'd say we had a fantastic start to our holiday season :-)

Wall Advent Calendar: A special Christmas activity each day in December

Summer ends, the leaves change, and there is a nip in the air. These are the first sings that the much anticipated holiday season is quickly approaching. Stores decorate their seasonal section with Christmas trees and wreaths while you're still shopping for Halloween costumes! Black Friday commercials and ads fill your home and litter your counter tops. Before you know it, you are gathering with family around the Thanksgiving table.

December flies by even quicker than the pre-holiday season, leaving many people feeling let down and cheated on December 26th, wishing they had slowed down and savored the holidays. Spending time with loved ones, driving around to see the Christmas lights, walking around your local Christmas tree farm with a cup of hot cocoa, picking an Angel off the gift tree and taking your child to buy a present for someone less fortunate, donating food to your local food bank: these are
"little" moments that make the holiday season meaningful and memorable.

To slow things down for my son and me, I created an activity-based advent calendar:



Instead of my son counting down the days with a daily piece of chocolate, every morning he turns around a card with a different holiday activity:




I created our wall advent calendar with materials I already had at home! I started with burlap ribbon, making a tree shape on a blank wall in our bedroom:



I used thumb tacks, but you could create a similar ribbon tree on a large piece of paper if you don't want a bunch of tiny holes in your wall:


I then used clothes pins to attach each activity card, turned backwards, along the "limbs" of the tree:


Of course, since the purpose of our advent calendar is to encourage more quality time with each other, I had my son help with the hanging of the activity cards. He then decorated each card with a Christmas sticker:


I topped off our tree with a ribbon-clad sea star...


...and added a cloth tree base: