Thursday, December 15, 2011

Oh (Yummy) Christmas Tree!

Did you ever decorate a gingerbread house when you were younger?  I can remember making some really cute ones with Girl Scouts (ahem, SG, those of you who know what I'm talking about) and I also remember it being so much fun to decorate and taste! 

LB is not quite at the gingerbread house point, but I thought we'd try to keep it simple and decorate some little trees instead! 

Here's what we used:

Sugar ice cream cones (the real cone-shaped ones)
Frosting (vanilla or any white)
Food coloring
Decorations (we used marshmallows and little sprinkles shaped like Christmas lights)

I spread some of the white frosting on a plate and stuck a couple of cones open side down.  I colored a little bit of the frosting green for the trees...
Using a little plastic knife to spread the frosting

Then she realized that you could taste the frosting too...yummmmmmm!

Decorating the trees

Once we were finished, it was also fun to stack and un-stack the cones!

I wasn't so sure how Chloe would do with this.  But, I've noticed that once you show her something, if she's interested, she'll do it too!  This was a very cute activity, and I think we'll be ready to decorate some cutouts with Grandma and Grammy in Rochester!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Light Shows on the Cheap

We love drive through light shows.  You know, the ones where you tune your radio to a Christmas music station, drive your car through a park and look at the display!  We have an excellent one right around the corner here: The Bull Run Festival of Lights.  We visited this light show last year, and we enjoyed the lights, as well as the little "winter carnival" at the end.  They have Santa in a cottage, rides, a fire pit where you can make s'mores, and plenty of other cute things I'm not remembering right now, but it's worth a trip! 

However, since we are heading out of town soon and have decided to do a couple of different "Santa" events, we went a different route to look at the pretty lights.  Our friends' neighborhood has a house that puts up an awesome (and free!!!) display so we took a walk over to look at it.  Search around your neighborhood too...plenty of people put up some amazing lights and it's fun to bundle up, take a walk to see them, and maybe come home for some hot cocoa!

Santa Train!

On Saturday, we took a very special trip on the commuter train that Mike rides everyday---the VRE Santa Train.  Boy, it was a trick to get tickets to this very popular event, but we somehow managed to get them before they ran out, and I'm so glad we did!

LB really loved riding the train, looking out the window, and saying "Choo choo!"  Santa and Mrs. Claus made a quick appearance, and although she seemed to like Mrs. C, the she was a little unsure of the big guy.  She didn't cry, just arched her back and looked away, haha.  Very cute event...we'll have to make it a tradition!

Waiting for the train to start; also the only picture with the cute headband.  Oh well!

Having fun looking out the window

"If I pretend I don't see him, maybe he'll leave his candy cane and get outta here!"

With Daddy

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Snowman Day!

Again, not so much snow here!  But that didn't stop LB and me from having a snowman-themed afternoon!  We started out with a snowman snack:

Banana snowmen!


Then, we made foamy "snowmen."  Got the idea from a blog called "Oopsey Daisy" (cute ideas, check it out).  You need regular shaving cream and Elmer's School glue.  Mix together equal parts glue and shaving cream and you have a foamy "paint" that's really fun to squish and it also dries puffy.  This was by far the biggest hit of an activity in a while!   Take a look at what we did:

I cut out some snowman shapes from an old box.  Definitely need to use a thick paper (cardstock style).  We then put the foamy paint on and went to work!

She was a little timid and first, but, as always, she got right in to spreading the paint around!

We used cutout shapes, feathers, and pom-poms to decorate.

Here are my snowmen!

Chloe's were a bit more abstract!

Here are a couple of fun clips of our spreading and decorating! 

After a bath for LB (which included a poop in the tub, as if this activity wasn't messy enough, my night became messier) and a shower for me (see previous parentheses) we concluded the snowman afternoon with reading a cute story called Snow What Fun , a snowman Christmas story.

Snow What Fun by Chery Hawkinson

  It was fun to have a theme, and really easy too since there are a billion snowman activities out there!  Don't let the lack of cold weather keep you from playing in the snow too!

A Christmas Carol (Mickey Style)

We've been having fun keeping up with our "Advent Bag!"  Last night, we waited for Daddy to get home for our fun activity: watching Mickey's Christmas Carol! 

Relaxing in the newly-drywalled basement

Chloe's special movie-watching treat: snowballs AKA mini-marshmallows!
 Don't forget to take the time this season to make even the most regular events seem a little special!

Let it Snow?

...not so much!  I don't know about you, and I know I'm going against the grain here, but when it's December and the "Christmas Season," I don't love 61 degrees and rain.  Give me some flakes and a little chill so I can enjoy my hot chocolate and fuzzy socks. 

Well, it's cooling down tonight and there's talk of a flurry or two, but this past week has been warm-ish.  So LB and I decided to do a few "make your own snow" activities (another post will follow).  Here's the first absolutely the super-easiest snow you've ever "made"----COTTON BALL SNOW!

Mr. Skip & More Happy Feet

On Monday, we again headed to Old Town Fairfax City Hall for their concert series.  We saw the ever-popular Mr. Skip perform some great songs and did some more dancin'! 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Boat! Moon! Light! Moon! Moon!

Haha, last night we headed to Old Town Alexandria for their Boat Parade of Lights, which is held each year around the holidays.  It's always been something we've wanted to do, and we figured Chloe would be interested in the lights.  We were right! 

We arrived at around 4:30, as I'd heard there would be entertainment beforehand.  We missed Santa's arrival and declined to wait in the very long line to see him in his gazebo, but we did listen to a great brass quartet play Christmas carols!  The crowd got a little thick when a high school dance group came in so we walked up the street and found a place to eat dinner.  We were thinking soup and sandwich so we chose La Madeleine on King Street.  Despite of the extremely confusing ordering process and an extra order of a half-sandwich (returned, not paid for, luckily, haha) we had a nice dinner.  LB enjoyed her fruit plate and "CHEEEEEEEEE" (mac and cheese). 

After dinner, we walked back down to the waterfront and on the way, Chloe was so excited about all of the lights that had been turned on in the trees when the sun went down.  She was pointing and talking all about them; it was so sweet.  When we got to the waterfront, we decded to walk a bit down into the park and found a good spot to see the boats.  It was a great little show!  People were pretty creative with their light designs, and LB was super excited about each boat, and, as you saw in the title, the "MOON!"  An added bonus was the fact that many airplanes were flying over to land at Reagan Airport, so that was exciting.  We heard a lot of "ahh-chay!" (airplane) and "bye-bye" when they flew out of sight.  Too funny. 

Anyways, this event is one to keep in mind for next season!  It was crowded, but not so much so that you couldn't see the boats and have room to move around.  Garage parking was easy and cheap.  Market Square and the store fronts are beautifully decorated too!

Brass quintet

Watching the boats with lights

Haha, we have twin heads

"Boat! Light! Moon! Dada!"

Checking out the tree in Market Square

Market Square all lit up for the season!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Easy Advent Countdown

This year, we are going to be visiting family for part of the holiday season.  Also, Mike just did a major drywall replacement job in the basement.  If you put these two factors together, you would most likely also come to the conclusion that you should only really decorate for Christmas with a few things that you can pull out easily without having to move the junk that needs to be sorted in the New Year.  At least, this is the conclusion that we came to. 

Don't get me wrong, we have a wreath up, a few "homemade" Chloe decorations, some ornaments, and we're going to put lights up this definitely won't look like the Grinch is residing here, but it's not our normal "Christmas just threw up in my house and I love it" decor feel. 

So, I decided that LB and I would make a "Christmas tree."  We used some finger paints (note: I now have to spell p-a-i-n-t, and if I don't, I'd better be prepared to do it because it's a favorite here) and some butcher paper (thanks Kelley!) and got to work:

In her T shirt smock (works like a charm) showing me the "peeeeaint!"

We used her handprints to make a tree shape and then I let her paint with the brush too.

Helping to color in the tree stump.

After we painted, I added a stump and a star and taped it up on the shelf.  Festive! 

Pretty simultaneously, I was reading blogs and thinking, maybe we should do an Advent Christmas Countdown!  Yes, again, I know, LB will probably not understand a true "countdown" but she definitely understands routines and loves new activities and little treats, so what the heck, right?  I didn't have time/ energy/ materials to be too crafty with it, so this is what I came up with:

I un-earthed a gift bag from said junk-filled basement and decided that each day leading up to Christmas, I'd place either a sticky note with an activity or coupon or a little treat inside for LB to discover.

December 1st bag: Foam stickers for decorating the tree!

Dec. 2nd bag: coupon...see below

We did, it was fun! 

I have some more ideas for the little gift bag: stickers, coloring book, cookie cutter, coupon to watch a Christmas Mickey Mouse or Sesame Street special, go shopping for our Salvation Army stocking, etc.  I like that we're using a gift bag, because I can either stick a post-it with the activity inside, or add a little treat.  It's also portable, so we can keep up the countdown no matter where we are.  Stay tuned for more Advent bag reveals!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

'Tis the Season!

 I love's a time to get crafty, visit local attractions, spend precious time with friends and family and give to others, as well as celebrate our guy, Jesus!  And let's not forget the magic of Santa and sugar plums (hold on, does anyone actually know what a sugar plum is?) and candy canes and's an excuse to act like a kid, and having a little one makes it even more special.  LB is starting to understand how to show gratitude when opening presents (gasping with delight at each one, which I think she is just copying me but it's SO stinking cute) and has an interest in the big bearded guy (you'll see an awesome website below that I'm using to help her get aquainted with him).  She also loves looking at/ rearranging all of the Nativity scene figures and it's fun to tell her the story of each one.  I can tell that the Christmas season is going to be really fun from here on out.

In honor of December and the start of the Christmas season, I wanted to post a couple of sites that might be helpful as you begin to plan your fun!  I have to give credit to my mom for the first one; she posted it on her FB page.

  It's like an entire North Pole experience in a website!  It's completely interactive for kids, i.e: little games, tour of the North Pole, weather station and much more.  There's also a lot for parents to browse: recipes, e-cards, printables...and then coolest feature---you can upload your kiddo's name, picture, location, what they want for Christmas, etc. and Santa himself will send the little one a personalized video.  LB LOVED it and I'm hoping if we watch it, he won't be quite so scary.  Or maybe he still will be, but the video is fun either way. 

Next, I've mentioned her site before and I believe it's listed in my link page, but if you're in the NoVa area be sure to check out the "Winter in Northern Virginia" page on  This, in addition to her daily calendar, will pretty much highlight every holiday and winter activity happening in our area.  She is the BEST! 

Also, I am going to put a "button" on the blog to link to "Creative with Kids" 2011 Creative Christmas Countdown.  They are compiling various bloggers' activities, one for each day leading up to Christmas.  How lucky we are to live in a time where it's so easy to network and get great ideas from people all over the country?

Speaking of lucky, please remember to think about helping others during the holiday season.  I love taking time to make sure it's a special time for my own daughter, and I would love for every child to have something special happen for them at this time, even when it might not be possible for their parents to make it happen without a little help.  We will be filling a stocking for the Salvation Army's stocking program and donating some food to a local food bank.  I love this idea:  it's JCPenney and Salvation Army's Angel Tree  program.  You can visit their site and "adopt" a kiddo for Christmas, and do all of your shopping through JCPenny's online.  Very cool! 

Hope everyone has a wonderful season!

Chloe at Christmas in 2010