Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas Card Photos 2015

We are lucky enough to have a friend-neighbor who also happens to be a professional photographer. She came over in Nov and shot some family portraits for us to use for our Christmas cards this year.

Here is the front of the card we sent to our family/friends.
I don't have a picture of the back of the card, but here is the series of pictures I used.

















And here are some other favorite shots from our session.






Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas 2015

Christmas 2015 was a fun time at our house! This is the first year that MC really got into Santa Claus - understanding that he was coming to our house to bring her new toys. We read lots of books and answered lots of questions about Santa Claus all month long! At her request we went to the mall to see Santa, but once we got there she didn't want to talk to him or sit in his lap, although she did show him her Christmas list that she made! (She cut pictures out of toy catalogs and glued them to a piece of paper.)

December 25, 2015
 
On Christmas Eve, BD and MC made and decorated cookies for Santa.


And sampled a few, of course!


We put cookies and milk out for Santa before bed on Christmas Eve. We were supposed to put food (carrots) out for the reindeer, but we forgot, so that is on our 'must-do' list for next Christmas.


For dinner on Christmas Eve, we took MC to her first visit to the Melting Pot. We knew she would not have interest in doing the full 2+ hour dinner course, so we did cheese fondue, salad, and dessert fondue.


Chocolate fondue for dessert was a bit hit!


On Christmas morning, MC woke up to find that Santa has visited us overnight!


She got lots of new toys, games, and books.


She spied this toy vacuum cleaner several weeks before Christmas and pushed it all around the store while we shopped. It lights up and makes noise, but unfortunately does not have any real suction. (I could use the help keeping the floors clean, LOL!)


A new race track with remote control cars.


And a new cash register for playing store.


Daddy was the first customer at her store on Christmas morning.


Later in the day, she tried out her new table-top art easel by drawing her first snowman!


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Gingerbread Houses

Last weekend we had some friends over for a gingerbread house decorating party. Instead of buying the pre-made kits, I decided to make the gingerbread houses out of graham crackers and found a recipe* for icing/glue to stick the crackers together. I was nervous that it was going to be a total disaster, but it actually worked really well! BD cut out all the cracker shapes while I made the glue, and then we worked together to build the little houses. We did lose a few crackers to breakage, but BD was really careful and precise with his cuts so it was just a few. The glue dried in about 10 minutes and held the crackers together with no problems.

I had a variety of candies and sprinkles, plus some canned frosting to use to stick the decorations to the houses. If MC was older, we could have used the glue to precisely place the decorations, but I knew she wouldn't have patience for that, so we just coated the houses in frosting when we were ready ready to decorate. That way the girls could just place the candies wherever they wanted and it would stick to the house.


The girls had a blast decorating their gingerbread houses (and sampling the decorations, too!). They both carefully placed each decoration on exactly where they wanted it.



We chose to work on our kitchen table instead of MC's little craft table because we had more space on the bigger table. I was concerned about the spill/mess factor, but it actually wasn't too bad at all. The sprinkles were the biggest mess, but after a wipe or three of the table and a run of the vacuum, it is mostly all gone. Sprinkles are like the glitter of the baking world -- fun to use but impossible to get rid of!



Here are our finished results.



*Gingerbread House Glue recipe:

ingredients
3T meringue powder
1T creamy peanut butter
5T water
3.75 cups powdered sugar

instructions
Mix together meringue powder, peanut butter, and water for 3 minutes. Add powdered sugar and mix for 5 minutes. Put into zip-top bag and snip off corner for piping.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Oh, What a Difference One Year Can Make!

Helping with Christmas tree lights, December 2012


Helping with Christmas tree lights, December 2013



Helping with Christmas tree lights, November 2014



Helping with Christmas tree lights, November 2015



Saturday, December 5, 2015

Our Favorite New Kids' Music

{Disclaimer: We were given a CD to review, but all opinions are 100% mine & MC's. This post does not contain affiliate links.}

MC loves music, and we have done our best to expose her to many different genres and styles of music - both through our own personal musical tastes and also through the Kindermusik and Music Together classes she has attended.

But she naturally gravitates towards "kids" music, and who can blame her - it's fun and upbeat...and sometimes really annoying. So I made it my mission when she was a baby to find kids' music that BD and I could also enjoy. We've discovered several great artists over the years, but our hands-down favorite is Laurie Berkner. We have several of her CDs and DVDs, and you may remember that MC's first concert was to see Laurie in Raleigh earlier this year.

So naturally, we were excited to hear that Laurie had new music coming out this fall - Laurie Berkner's Favorite Classic Kids' Songs. I was very interested when I realized that this album would be classic kids' tunes instead of LB original songs, like the other LB CDs that we own. We have not had very good luck finding albums of 'classic' kids' songs that we all can enjoy, so I was hoping that Laurie was up to the task. 


We started listening to this CD on the same day it arrived in the mail...and basically we haven't turned it off since. (Except for this week, when we're now alternating between this one and the Christmas album!) As the title implies, it is classic kids' music that I remember from my own childhood - favorites such as O Susannah, Bicycle Built for Two, The More We Get Together - but almost all of them have a twist with a new, fresh sound. It is a 2-disc compilation, with almost 60 songs on it...2+ hours of fun music! And the icing on top is that is also has a few of Laurie's greatest hits - including MC's favorite We Are The Dinosaurs and my favorite Under A Shady Tree.

In addition to listening to this new music over the past few weeks, next weekend we are going to see Laurie in Raleigh again for a holiday concert. We purchased our tickets months ago - the same weekend they went on sale, and MC has been talking about it practically non-stop since then. If you are local, I highly encourage you to buy tickets and take your whole family; it will be one of the highlights of your holiday season.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Crafts

MC and I have had fun this year making several Thanksgiving crafts. The first thing we made was a turkey hand print "hat". This was supposed to be made out of card stock, but all we had was foam sheets, so we made it work.


I found several little sticker craft kits at Michael's, so we decorated a scarecrow and made a cornucopia.



 And she made this paper plate turkey at her parents' morning out program.

Thanksgiving Books for Preschoolers

Since I am not a huge fan of reading holiday books year round, I usually check out seasonal books from our local library. We read them for a few weeks, and by the time I'm tired of them, they're due back at the library!  

However, this year I didn't find many Thanksgiving library books available that were age appropriate for MC, so I purchased a few to add to our home library.

I also didn't have a lot of luck when I googled for recommendations for Thanksgiving books for the preschool age range, so I thought I'd post the ones we've been reading this year in case anyone else is looking for holiday books.



For us Thanksgiving is a holiday where family and friends gather around a table full of good food and that is where this book starts. I like that the book includes different families and that it doesn't focus on the 1st Thanksgiving but about child-appropriate things to be thankful for -- parents who love them no matter their actions, for books, bright sunny days, hot chocolate, friends, etc!


Berenstain Bears books are kind of hit-or-miss for me, and some of them are a little dated. But we have really enjoyed this one! This one is a lift-the-flap book where the Berenstain family looks all around for Mr. Turkey and also find other seasonally-appropriate things (leaves falling off trees, geese flying south for winter).


We really love Fancy Nancy at our house, and this Thanksgiving version does not disappoint. My sister gave MC the first FN book, and we've since checked out all of the ones from our library. When I saw the Thanksgiving one, I knew MC would love it. FN is up to all her usual tricks in this book - using (and explaining) some big words and throwing in a little French for good measure.


This is our first Pete the Cat book, and it is also a lift-the-flap book. This one has the most historical information about the 1st Thanksgiving, told as Pete stars in his school's Thanksgiving play. (According to the Amazon reviews, people didn't like this book because it's not "typical" Pete the Cat. That wasn't an issue for us, since we weren't already Pete fans, but just FYI.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Conversations at 3.25

We're taking a walk outside...

MC: Uh oh, I dropped a piece of granola.
LA: That's okay, a bird or squirrel will get it.
MC: Or a monkey!

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She's having a drink of water before bed. BD thinks she is finished and tries to take the cup from her...

MC: NOOOOO!
BD: Oh, I'm sorry. I thought you were finished.
MC: Don't take the cup from my hands before I'm finished! That's SO WUDE!!

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I've had to turn down several irrational 3 yr old requests in a row...

MC: You always say no! You say no to everything! You are being so dramatic! You are making me sad! You should say yes to everything! *WAHHHHH!!!!*

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Sunday, November 22, 2015

NC State Fair 2015

Last month we took MC to the NC State Fair for the 4th year in a row! We've taken her every year since she was born. It has become a fun little tradition for our family. This year BD's mom was visiting, so she also got to experience the fair with us.

Our first stop was the extensive flower and garden show. There are a lot of cool things to explore and look at in this section. And bonus points because it's shady and usually uncrowded. This year there were a ton of these painted cut-out photo props. MC was being a garden snail in this one.


Green frog made out of recycled tires.


The next stop we made was the Agriculture building to see all the livestock and produce. It was super crowded in there, so I didn't get any pictures of the enormous pumpkins, but I think this year's winner was around 1500 pounds. 

Next we watched the pig races. This was a first for MC; we haven't watched this event since before she was born. It is usually pigs, goats, and ducks, but the ducks had to stay home this year because of concerns about the avian flu.


We had great front row seats, but it was a little loud and overwhelming for MC, so we didn't stay for the whole show. BD held her up at the back of the crowd to watch a little more before we left.


Our next stop was the carousel; this is always MC's favorite part of the fair. This year we also rode the Ferris wheel, and she loved that ride too, so I imagine it will be added to our state fair "must do" list for the upcoming years. 


We ended the day with a fried candy bar and some fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies. I didn't get any hand-cut fries this year because we didn't find the booth until right as we were leaving; I won't make that mistake again next year!

Check out the posts about our previous years at the fair:

NC State Fair 2014

NC State Fair 2013

NC State Fair 2012

NC State Fair 2010

NC State Fair 2007