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Oh this magical season of Advent and Christmas is over.  We waited so patiently for you to came and now you are quickly saying goodbye. This season time really did seem to slow down, if only for a bit.  Our slow days were enjoyable and refreshing.  Our simple advent activities and lighting of the candles seemed to deepen our bonds as a family and prepared us for the upcoming day of festivities.
The children were just delighted to receive their gifts from one another.  We even ended the day with snow, plenty of it!

We all fell in love with our new nativity set from Mama Made.  Madeline took such joy in rearranging the pieces daily.  She was always so careful to place Jesus in the middle of it all.

Christmas Eve was spent with family, attending church and baking cookies along with Moosewood’s cauliflower cheese soup.  Yummy!

The children took such pride in preparing treats for Santa and his reindeer.  What magic childhood brings.  Madeline wanted to give Santa an apple so he could be healthy!

Sweet Max enjoyed the wonder that this season brought and squealed with delight as he opened his gifts.  He was slow to figure things out, but soon had everything down!

What a happy child.  Ethan has enjoyed his wooden swords he was given last year, so we decided to add a pirate’s dagger to his collection.  We bought them from Nova Natural Toys.  This is such a lovely company.

Madeline received a collection of homemade hats from my mother.  She just loves them!

As we move into the new year, I want to pause and remember all that this month and year brought us and meant to our family.  I am left with the feeling of wanting to linger just a tad bit longer in this season before it is gone.

I hope that your family was able to soak us some of the magical goodness as well.  I wish you a very happy new year.

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I love reading on Soulemama’s blog about how she sews a pair of jammie pants for each member of her family to celebrate winter solstice.   I liked this idea and finally was able to achieve this goal.
I sewed each little one a pair of jammie pants and a matching pillow.  They were well received!

They really are such an easy thing to make, taking less then 30 minutes per pant.  Madeline’s are a bit too tight, oops.  Hers have cute little owls on them.

I saw this idea for an adorable polar bear and the kids set to work.

Ethan rarely deviates from an example, however, Madeline’s bear was a tie dye creation straight from the 60’s!

I also set out supplies for the children to create a santa.  Madeline decided to add big glasses.

I just love how thick the beard is!

In keeping with our ornament tradition, we transformed Max’s foot into a reindeer and a Christmas tree.  I feel bad he did not have one made last year as we were so busy with the new baby and our new home.  So he made two types to make up for it!
The older children did not make any this year.  Instead they made sparkle ornaments with their pictures on them.  I love how they turned out just as much as the footprint ornaments.

I love how these turned out!  I chose to make holly like antlers instead of handprints, since it may have been a bit too hard to get a good print with this squirmy babe of mine.

Here is the link to the adorable ones we made a few years ago.

Madeline turned four this past Friday.  Oh, what a joyous day she had!  She kept saying “This is my lucky day!”

I love preparing the birthday child’s spot at the table with special things for them to find when they awake.

Here she is on her way to find her surprises!

I love that she wanted to wear her crown all weekend.

She asked for Grammy to join her in cake decorating.  I baked a super healthy cake and it tasted really good.  We iced it with chocolate peanut butter.  This was a healthier alternative to icing and it really added something to the cake.

This cake turned out exactly how she wanted!  She was able to share it with a few cousins and friends at our traditional Chuck E Cheese gathering.

We celebrated with her friends the next day at an indoor playground.  We opted to serve fruit, muffins and simple gingerbread men.  To decorate them each child was given an individual pack of chocolate peanut butter or almond butter and raisins or SunDrops, a healthier version of m&m’s.  The children loved this activity.

Instead of gifts we  chose to have an ornament exchange.  This was such a big hit!  We have always had a book exchange at her parties as an answer to her not getting too many gifts right before Christmas.  We all enjoyed the new twist.  We passed the ornaments each time we sang jingle in the song Jingle Bells.  I love that each child leaves with something as well and not a bunch of plastic things or candy in a goody bag.

She chose to have hummus, lentils, sprouts and pita pockets for her dinner!  What a good dinner it was.

Her main gift from us was this balance bike from Kazam.  We did a lot of research and this one won out.  She loves it and has wanted to ride non stop!  I love that this is such good quality that Max will be able to use it in a few years.

Happy Birthday my love!  Oh, how you melt my heart!

I saw the idea to make reusable sacks on Soulemama’s blog several years ago.  Ever since then I have been wanting to make them for our household.  I was able to get a good head start on these this weekend.  They are such a cinch to sew.
I find it so refreshing to be able to create things for my family, especially of the reusable type.

After they were finished, I simply sewed a ribbon on each sack for easy tying.  This would be a great beginners project.

I have also seen felt garlands on the web for a while.  Madeline and I created this one for our tree.  We were quite satisfied with our new beautiful decoration!

Happy crafting!

Monday photo:  One or two pictures, just a few words, enjoy!

Oh, how terrible I felt trying to snap this photo.  What a cruel tradition!  I assure you he was fine and even laughing when it was all over!

We have had many different Advent calendars throughout the years.  Paper chains with daily activities to do, numbered ornaments to count down the days, etc.

This year the children painted a long sheet of paper with christmas colors.  While they were asleep I wrapped up different books I checked out from the library along with different activities to try.  In this fast paced month of parties and celebrations, It is my hope that slowing down to savor a book or a well loved seasonal craft, will help to ground us and bring us closer as we prepare for a very special day.

The numbers are labeled with either a sun or a moon.  That tells the children when the package should be opened.

A few activities include:
Put up our tree
Take a night walk to look at lights
Popcorn and movie night
Go shopping for our local food bank
String cranberries and popcorn

I hope this month is magical for your family, however you chose to celebrate.

While perusing some of my favorite blogs, I read about many families enjoying lantern walks to celebrate Martinmas.  I had never heard of this tradition, it seems like a lot of Waldorf families celebrate this.  I liked the meaning behind it right away and set off to create this new to us tradition for our family.  I did a little research and found out that it was originally a christian celebration to honor St. Martin. Please correct me if I am wrong as I know most things actually started out as Pagan rituals.
I am sure there is way more to it and way more adaptions have been made.

I made it our own, we used this celebration to celebrate the first day of Advent.  We talked about how the winter months are soon approaching and that even though it is dark we need to let our light within us shine…  Here are two families that I first saw this idea from.

The making of a can lantern.

The making of a glass and tissue paper lantern.

Setting off for our night walk.  The weather was just perfect for our near two mile walk.

Enjoying a small treat at the park.  We can not get enough homemade popcorn around here!

The children really got this celebration.  This will definitely be our new way to celebrate Advent. It also inspired us to take more night walks and adventures!

Two last projects for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

We often like to get craft ideas from The Crafty Crow.  This project excited my son, so we set off to collect leaves to complete this project.  We all love how it turned out!

We also love decorating our window with seasonal artwork.  I have seen this idea many times on The Artful Parent’s blog.

We decorated 6 window panes with leaves and contact paper.  The look is quite impressive from the inside.  I was hoping the outside world could enjoy these as well, but the leaves look quite dark from outside.

We made colorful noodle necklaces last week in preschool.  They were so easy to color and the children loved stringing them together.  Madeline who is sometimes too bothered in school to make art actually strung four necklaces!

To make: simply add a few drops of food coloring to a tad of water and let noodles soak for about 3 minutes.  Then let them dry on a paper towel for a few hours.

Here we are modeling our necklaces during our preschool Thanksgiving feast! If you look hard you can see the cool turkey place mats we made.

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