December 23, 2015

DIY Christmas: Stockings

Last year I posted about several DIY projects that I did for our Christmas decorations.  I haven't added a whole lot this year, but I did make us some new stockings.

Since we added 2 new stockings to our home this year, I figured it might be a good time to try to make them.  So I bought all of the fabric and got to work.  I actually made these right before the kids were placed with us, but we already had their names so I was able to get them done before the craziness started!  I followed this tutorial and made the letter appliques using my Silhouette!

The first 2 I made were mine and David's.  And this picture is when I realized that they were facing opposite directions, which I knew would make me crazy.  So I cut another D and added it to the other side of David's so it could face the other way too!  These stockings were very easy to make and only took me about an hour to make all 4.

Here are our stockings hung in our house (of course there is one for Lily too, but she didn't get a new homemade one)
It's so fun to have new stockings up in fun patterns!  They are a little bit smaller than I would like, so I may experiment with a new pattern next year, but I really love the contrasting fabrics and how well they go together!

December 22, 2015

At Home "Projects"

The kids are always looking for something new to do/play with, so I've been trying to keep several crafts and activities on hand for when they need a break from playing with their toys.  The very first time we made a craft, our 4 year old told David that he made a "hovercraft" so I now refer to them as projects instead :)

One night last week we had some sick kiddos who woke us up around midnight and I had a hard time falling back asleep, so I spent a few hours on Pinterest and found several new activities that we've tried out this week.  I took some of the ideas I found and adapted them to best fit our kiddos.  We pulled out a few this afternoon to try out.

The first one is putting buttons on Snowmen.  I saw this idea for Gingerbread men and adapted it to snowmen.  I wrote the number at the top and then put that many velcro dots on the snowman.  Then I put velcro on the back of the buttons.  Our 4 year old is working hard on counting, but still does not recognize numbers, so it's a great activity for him to figure out the number as he counts how many buttons he put on.

 And for the 2 year old, pulling the buttons off the velcro gives some good fine motor work :)

I usually pull out 2 activities at a time and they each work on one and then we switch.  So while one did snowmen, the other sorted beads.  The original idea I saw was sorting different colored jingle bells into an egg carton.  But I couldn't find different colored jingle bells, so we did beads.  And an ice tray seemed to work just fine.
 I put one of each color bead into a spot in the tray and the kids sorted a cup full of beads into the right places.  And we worked on naming the colors as we went.

And even when I walked away to work on dinner and she decided she didn't want to sort anymore, it was good use of her hands and fine motor skills (yes again, she definitely needs some help with them!) to get all the beads back out of the small spots and put them back into the cup.

We also worked on some color sorting with clothes pins.  For the 2 year old, she showed me where they went and I put them on because she didn't quite grasp how to open the clothes pin.  The 4 year old did them by himself and then we counted how many pins there were of each color.

We also did a name recognition activity similar to this one:
But since I can't share their names I'll just post the sample from Pinterest.  We worked on letter recognition and I would tell him to find a certain letter (whichever one came next) and he would match it up.  

We've also been having lots of fun with playdough.., making shapes with cookie cutters and then decorating them with googly eyes, sequins, buttons, and pipe cleaners.  And we've done some cookie decorating (and eating) too!

I love being able to offer some new activities that keep them occupied for a while--especially as we get close to dinner time when they are getting tired and I am needing to get a few things done.  And it doesn't hurt that they are learning some new skills along the way!

December 15, 2015

Pinterest Cooking: Chicken Enchiladas

So I'm finally back to cooking a little bit.  We've been eating off of our freezer meals that I made as well as a few my mom made us.  And several nights we make something easy for the kids and then one of us will go and grab dinner out for us once they are in bed.  But tonight I decided to actually make dinner.

I made the Chicken Enchiladas that I had mentioned in my freezer cooking post last month.  I had cooked the chicken in November when I made the other meals, so it's been in our freezer ready to go.  I thawed it out and made 2 batches of the enchiladas--one for dinner tonight and then I stuck one in the freezer.  David and I both really liked the enchiladas tonight when we had them and I look forward to having them ready to go another time we need dinner!

I'm pretty used to this sidekick sticking close to me as I make dinner, but now she's got a 2 year old friend along with her and that is taking some getting used to for all of us as we navigate making dinner at night.  

I thought I'd also update about a few of the freezer recipes we've made and have tried.  David and I have been eating on the Brown Bag Burritos and Southwest Roll ups for lunch and they've been a good easy go-to lunch (or dinner some nights).  The crockpot chicken pot pie was not a success--I did not love how it turned out.  I have really liked the freezer pizza dough that I made and am glad to have a dough recipe to accompany my homemade sauce.  We do lots of pizza nights and it's nice to have this as a ready to go option without spending money to order out!

We're slowly settling into our routine and getting dinner going when kids are crazy and everyone is tired from the day can be really hard, but I'm glad to have a chance to try out some new recipes along the way!

December 8, 2015


Hello blog!  We are currently getting settled into our new normal and our new routine with 2 kiddos.  We've had a crazy few weeks learning our new normal, visiting family, introducing the kiddos to a lot of new things, celebrating my birthday, and trying to figure out this parenting thing.  The kids are adjusting to us more and more each day and we're starting to settle in.  I can't share a whole lot of stories about them and I can't share any pictures, but I thought I would give you a peek into things right now and share what we're doing for Advent.  

Since we got the kiddos right before Thanksgiving, we had to figure out pretty quickly how we wanted to handle Christmas (preparation, decorations, presents, etc.).  Since our oldest is 4, he already knows about Santa Claus and talks about him allllll the time, especially since we decorated our tree.  So we talk about Santa, but also wanted to find a way to make sure we're helping focus on Jesus this season as well and bring the focus to Him and His coming.

I had scoured Pinterest for advent ideas for kids.  I liked the idea of the Jesse Tree, but thought it might be a little over their heads and seemed like a lot of preparation to do it how I would want to.  But I kept looking and was determined to try it... until I found an advent reading plan based on the Jesus Storybook Bible and I was sold.  We already have a copy of it that was gifted to us and we had been reading through it some at bedtime, but this was an intentional way to read through the stories each day.  We've used this Bible some and one of the things I love about it is that every story from the beginning to the end ties the Bible story to Jesus and his coming.  And someone figured out that there are 24 chapters from the beginning through the telling of Christ's birth, so it makes it easy to read one each day leading up to Christmas.  

Since we were asked about 10 times a day when Santa was going to come (or if he was coming today) I thought the first thing was to get an advent calendar going.  Again, I looked all over Pinterest and decided to try to make a Happy Birthday Jesus Cake Calendar.  The only ones I could find that were printable had the numbers all out of order to find them, but since we are working on counting and learning the right order of numbers, I figured one that actually went in order was better... and it's easier to see how many days are left.  So this is my version I put together during naptime one day

Nothing fancy, but it's an easy visual for them.  We hung it up on the door to the kids' bedroom and every night we read our story and then mark off the day.

One of the best parts of the post with the reading plan were all of the additional links including this post that has a hands on activity for every story in the Jesus Storybook Bible.  So cool!  The kids love to color and do projects, so I wanted to try to incorporate as many as we could into this month and that way we talk about the story while we make the craft and then again later with David when we read the story.  Several of the activities on that post are too advanced for our kiddos (or they wouldn't find as fun), but they were a great starting place for me.  So I've used some and then searched Pinterest (yeah again) for ideas for the other ones.  

Here are a few of the things we've made:

For the creation story, I used these printable coloring sheets.  There is one for each day of creation and inside the number is a picture of what God created that day (so inside Day 1 is a picture of light/dark and so on).  They colored a lot and got tired of coloring toward the end, but it was a great way to talk about the numbers and they did a good job remembering what God made each day.

For the story of the Garden and Adam and Eve, we made snakes out of pipe cleaners and followed the idea of having them hold them as we read the story and hold up the snake anytime we said the word "snake" in the story.

When we talked about Noah, I found a rainbow craft idea on Pinterest.  They love to glue so we glued cotton balls onto half a paper plate for the cloud and then glued on strips of paper for the colors.  I gave them each their colors and told them which order they went in, so they had to find the right color when I read it.

We skipped  a few days over the weekend since we were busy with other things, but yesterday we talked about God sending the Ram to Abraham to save Isaac, so we made a ram.  This site had the printable sheet and we colored them and then glued cotton balls on for the fur.

We've had a lot of fun working through these projects and still have several to go!  It's been a fun way to prepare for Jesus' birthday and talk about Bible stories.