Advent activities throughout December

For Advent this year we decided to read through the Storybook Bible plan and a simple activity for each day. Each night I would write the story and activity for the next day and slip it into our Advent calendar for Jake to find. Most of the activities were really simple and even still, it was hard to come up with ideas some days! I'll definitely use this post as a reminder for next year of some fun activities to repeat. Other activities including bringing cookies to our neighbors, driving to see Christmas lights, a glow stick bath...simple! It was good to have dedicated quality time each day with the boys (or just Jake sometimes, depending on the activity). Next year Reid will get to be involved even more!

Watching Arthur's Christmas on the pull-out sofa bed!

Gingerbread cookies!

Reid was allowed to stir the flour for a hot second...;)
Making magnets for his grandparents out of model magic! 

Homemade hot chocolate with candy cane stir sticks

Celebrating Jake's 100th reading lesson with frozen yogurt!

Helping wrap gifts for Dad!

Using Christmas cookie cutters with our play-doh (and learning how to make play-doh ornaments for his tree)!


its Christmas!

Possibly the best part of this Christmas--- the SNOW! Snow began falling yesterday around noon but it was essentially rain so I figured we wouldn't see any actual white on the ground. But as we left for Christmas Eve service at church later in the afternoon it really picked up and started to accumulate! I was so excited for a white Christmas that I made the boys pause with me outside of church to get a picture in the snow!

Our second annual fancy Christmas Eve dinner! I love the chance to use our candlesticks and other fancy things that we rarely get out, but if there's ever a special occasion to use them- its Christmas Eve.

Christmas morning was a lot of fun this year! Both of the boys started to stir within just a few minutes of each other this morning and when I heard them, I got so excited when I realized "its Christmas!" That feeling cannot be beat. Jake went straight to Reid's room and turned his closet light on but thankfully Reid was pretty awake at that point. The boys played in our room for a little while we got breakfast in the oven and when we all trooped downstairs, Jake beelined for the stockings to get the morning started! We had all decided last night that we'd open stockings before breakfast and then eat before we started with presents. I think Reid may have been more excited about the contents of his stocking (mostly play-doh containers and a fidget spinner) than the rest of the gifts! And surprisingly, he ate none of our traditional breakfast casserole with a side of cinnamon rolls! Wouldn't even try the rolls. He missed out in a big way and opted instead for his normal oatmeal.

Jake has had his heart set on Hot Wheels for Christmas this year and didn't ask for anything else. Even when I asked him last night if there was any other toy he'd like to play with for Christmas, he said "only Hot Wheels." Deric made his Christmas dreams come true in a big way thanks to scouring Craigslist! He found tons of track, a garage and some loop-de-loop thing and Jake has not stopped playing Hot Wheels all day. Just as it should be!

Everyone wanted in on the set up. ;)

Reid wasn't completely sure what was going on this morning but he did understand how to rip wrapping paper off gifts so he had himself a good time! We borrowed the book "Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site" from the library a month or so ago and he absolutely loved it so when I saw it on Jake's preschool Scholastic book order, I was so excited! He opened it up this morning and immediately brought it to me and sat in my lap so we could read. A little while later he brought it to Deric to read again.

Looking through our Port Hope photo book! I love remembering all the fun we have each summer.

He is all about his rainboots! He didn't even care about his presents until we helped him get his boots on! I love it.

A few additions to our train table! Jake loves to build train tracks but has exhausted most of the options that we had, so a little garage and that track-turner piece add so many options for new tracks! When the boys unwrapped those pieces they raced over to the playroom and started to reconfigure the setup to fit in the new pieces. I love that they play with each gift as it comes and really enjoy it.

This was the year of get-all-your-energy-out gifts! (Might have something to do with our move up north where spring won't come for about five more months...) One of those hopping ball things and a trampoline for both boys will surely get plenty of use over these coming cold months! Even this week the temperatures are in the single digits.

We got our white Christmas! Maybe just a little over an inch, but enough to sled on and make snow angels so it was enough for us! Jake couldn't stop laughing as Deric pulled him down the slight hill in our yard and he would pretend to fall out of the sled into the snow.

Surprisingly, Reid did not like the sled or really the snow at all until we showed him how to make snowballs. Then he had a lot of fun trying to throw them at Jake and Deric. That part is not surprising. ;)

After lunch with Deric's family we came home and those boys headed back outside before the sun went down! I'm so grateful for a fun and relaxing Christmas day with the added excitement of that beautiful snow on the ground.


decorating the tree (and the house!)

So as much as I love Christmas, the actual setting up of the Christmas tree and decorating it is not my favorite part. I love the tree once its up and decorated and making the living room so cozy-- and I love all the memories tied to the ornaments-- but the whole process is not too much fun, in my opinion. This year, because we were traveling home from Michigan the weekend after Thanksgiving (when we're usually putting up the tree), we did the tree decorating in stages. First day, got it out of the basement, put together and fluffed up. Pine needles were everywhere because Jake thought he was helping us out by shaking the needles out of the tree storage bag. Hilarious.

That next evening, we managed to get the lights wrapped around the tree and brought up the ornaments. Poor Jake wanted so badly to decorate the tree but we just couldn't get to it right away since we had to do other things like groceries and meals and getting ready for the week coming up. So that next afternoon while Reid was sleeping and Deric was obviously at work, Jake convinced me to decorate the tree with him. Usually we make it a whole family affair but I knew Deric doesn't love decorating the tree, so Jake and I did it ourselves!

The best part was watching Jake's excitement over *finally* being allowed to get the ornaments out of their boxes and choose where to put them. Of course we had a few lessons here and there about ornament placement ;) but otherwise he did a great job spreading out the ornaments and covering the entire tree! I did make sure to put the special ornaments around the top half because I wasn't sure what Reid would do with the tree. Thankfully his curiosity has waned and the ornaments stay put. (Can't say the same for the Christmas train, however!)

This was our first year to decorate the outside of our home and I was so, so excited for it! I found inexpensive lights at Target one afternoon while there for something else (always how it goes) and called Deric to measure off the roof line. As soon as I got home, Deric climbed out through a second story window to put lights up and the boys and I tried to rake leaves while we watched him climb around the roof. Jake chose colored lights and I love how they look! Nearly every house on our street is decorated and its so fun to see when we drive home after dark.

Looking for Dad way up on the roof!

Someone got cold and went in to supervise Dad up close!

The last bit of color right before a windstorm this weekend stripped all of the trees bare! But we also had some snow this weekend so I am definitely not complaining! I love seeing snow in December!

Back inside, a few other decorations have gone up too, like this felt tree I made when Jake was one. Its not getting much playtime with this active one year old, but Reid (and Jake) will still occasionally decorate it with the ornaments. The train around our tree is the biggest attraction and I'll post some photos and videos of Reid watching the train because it is the cutest!


baking pumpkin pie with Jake

I'm not sure where Jake got the idea, but he mentioned to me a few times before Thanksgiving that he wanted to bake pumpkin pie. It worked out perfectly that we celebrated an early Thanksgiving two weeks early with one side of Deric's family, so the day beforehand Jake and I got started on our pies. It was a good opportunity to involve Jake on the whole process of reading the recipe, buying ingredients at the store and then doing the actual baking and I knew he'd like having more responsibility in the process.

So first, we read through the recipe and jotted down a list to take to the grocery store...plus a couple extra things we needed. (I had a back up list on my phone in case I forgot what we needed because that handwriting is so cute but sometimes hard to decipher ;) )

Let's see if I can remember...
"pie crust
1 can pumpkin
2 cans (evaporated) milk"
...continued on the back

Then Jake and I headed to the store by ourselves and he got to push the cart and navigate the aisles to find what we needed.

Trying to find pumpkin pie puree amidst alllll the pie filling choices!

Can't get over him trying to read his own writing!

Back home we got right to work on the pies! The recipe was so simple and perfect for Jake to really help with. He's helped me bake for a while and I'm trying to give him more freedom and responsibility lately-- more than simply dumping and mixing ingredients. We can laugh now about the time he was sitting on the counter and broke an egg on his lap. It wasn't funny in the moment but now he thinks it is. And now he's learned to crack the eggs over the bowl, a lesson we all figured out at some point!

One of my favorite things about our house is this big counter that has room for both boys to help me bake. I'm not the "fun imaginative play" parent in the household but I figure it balances out when my activities ends with something good to eat! ;)

Jake's pies turned out great and he got so many kind compliments from our family that next day. I tried a tiny slice but pumpkin pie is just not my thing! Thankfully the rest of the family were big fans and we went home with only two slices left, one for the chef and one for his pumpkin-pie loving dad.