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:

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

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.