Friday, December 31, 2010

A Clean Start for the New Year

We had a wonderful trip to Long Island to visit our family over the holiday! We stayed at my mother-in-laws and intended to visit from 12/23 - 12/27, however the weather had other plans! Two days later than expected, we arrived at home -- weary travelers, unpacking what felt like a caravan's worth of belongings from our over packed minivan! While my husband spent this morning braving the supermarket, Target (for a return) and the liquor store for some bubbly (for he and I!) for tonight, I braved the "garbage cupboard"... I wish I had taken a before photo -- you can't quite appreciate my hard work without the before photo... For anyone who has spent any time at all at our house, you know that the garbage cupboard is a major hub of activity. Obviously, the garbage is kept in there. Also, cleaning supplies (there is an eye hook latch at the top to keep little hands out of the cleaning supplies!), and on the top shelves we store art supplies, etc. for the kids. In our effort to put away all of the things that the girls got for Christmas (Santa and the family were all very generous!), I decided that this morning would be a good time to clean out the garbage cupboard. I had piles of papers, buckets of markers, crayons, paint sets -- and Playdoh GALORE! I took the opportunity to clear out all of the things that my girls no longer use and organize the things that they do use. I now have neatly labeled containers -- one for each girl, and one for all of the Playdoh "utensils". My cleaning and organizing spree carried over to our 2-drawer lateral file. The top drawer holds all of my 4-year-old's books, while the bottom drawer holds all of the puzzles and things for car trips (auto bingo, Leapster, Story Reader...). I love when I have time to sort through everything and organize and pull out broken toys or dried out art supplies. This is a great time of year to do that, too -- when you are making room for new toys and craft items. Now I feel like I earned a relaxing evening at home with my family, ringing in the New Year!

How do you like to prepare for the New Year?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

"It's the Most Wonderful (Busiest) Time of the Year..."

I need to make a New Year's resolution to be more timely with my blog posts... I've been in a little bit of a state since before Thanksgiving, and although I am now (blissfully) on vacation from work until January 3rd I am still going a mile a minute over here! Yesterday was my first day off and my littlest one and I went out to lunch with Grandpa and Great Gram and then we hit the stores until it was time for my eldest to get off the bus! I spent the entire evening filling out Christmas cards. Today I've been wrapping gifts that I need to take to the post office to ship to Nana in Florida. My husband braved the grocery store and stocked up on the supplies I need to make Christmas cookies this week, as well as an appetizer for Grandpa & Gramby's holiday party tonight, and some appetizers for a little Christmas Eve party that we are having at my mother-in-law's house in Long Island! Right now we are waiting for our 9-year-old to be dropped off from a sledding birthday party (great idea for a winter birthday party!) and she is going caroling with her Girl Scout troop this evening while we are at Grandpa's, and then we will run out to pick her up and bring her back to the party! WHEW! Tomorrow should be relaxing though -- we are going to church, then hitting the stores to (fingers crossed!) finish our Christmas shopping, and then tomorrow night we will be getting Chinese food for dinner and settling in to open Nana's gifts for us. I've been looking forward to this time off from work, but from now until Christmas it will be a blur of holiday preparations -- shopping, wrapping, celebrating, packing, appointments, oil changes (don't let me forget -- I need to get an oil change for the minivan this week!)... I love this season, but it is exhausting! I can't wait until all of the wrapping is done and we are with our family enjoying their company!

Best wishes for a wonderful holiday with your family and friends!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Paper “Stained Glass” Ornaments

At the preschool holiday party on Saturday, we had a number of crafts and games for the kids and their parents. One of the cutest crafts that we did was a "stained glass" ornament made out of paper. One of my committee members, Stacy (who specifically asked me not to give her credit for this, so of course, I am!), had seen a variation on this craft at a Halloween party and she adapted it for Christmas ornaments.

Here is what you need:

- Construction paper (we used red, white & green)
- Clear contact paper (each ornament used two 3"-4" squares)
- Tissue paper (we used red & green -- $1 for a bunch at the dollar store!)
- Scissors
- Glue stick
- Hole punch
- Curling ribbon, yarn, string, etc.

We folded a piece of construction paper into quarters, and then drew half of an open, circular ornament on one side of the folder paper (see photo).

Then we cut along the lines and this gave us 2 circles connected by a "tab" at the top.

We took a few small squares of the tissue paper and laid those on the sticky side of one of the 3" squares of contact paper (sorry, I don't have any of that leftover to show!). Then we covered that with the other piece of contact paper – so the tissue paper squares are sandwiched in between the two squares.

We placed the contact paper in between the two "rings" of the ornament and then used the glue stick to glue the entire thing closed. You may need to trim the corners of the contact paper off, if they are sticking out from the ornament.

Then we punched a hole in the top of the ornament and tied some curling ribbon through the hole to make a hanger.

This is how the craft table looked at the end of the party…

Here is one of the finished ornaments:

And here is how cute it looks on our Christmas tree!

I love this craft because it was simple to do – the parents did help the little ones, but my 9-year-old made one all on her own – super cute, and you can take this idea and use it for all sorts of things! You can use any colors you want to make a tree ornament, or a cute window decoration! Imagine making one in an egg shape with brightly colored tissues and decorate your windows for Easter! As Stacy saw at the Halloween party, they made them into jack o'lantern decorations. You could even take this idea and put one of your children's small school pictures in the middle – what a great ornament for the grandparents' trees! Hmm… I may have to try that for this Christmas!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Catching Up

It's been a busy holiday season so far, my brother-in-law came out to celebrate his birthday with us the weekend before Thanksgiving, my little family of four had a wonderful, peaceful Thanksgiving at home, I coordinated the preschool holiday party (yesterday -- yay!), and I've been battling a nasty cough/cold for what seems like an eternity... So I've been a little neglectful of my blog... :( But I am back and I have a great idea that I will be sharing with you for a simple, adorable ornament that you can make with the kids! Stay tuned!