Sunday, December 3, 2017

Winter Maze Worksheet from Education.com

I'm excited to share another activity from Education.com. Just a few months ago I was not all that familiar with this site but I am so glad that I have been introduced to this incredible education tool. I have downloaded a couple of workbooks and Raley has had so much fun with them! It's fun watching little ones learn and figure things out on their own.

Today I am sharing a fun little winter maze that you can download, print and enjoy with your kiddos!


"Find your way through this maze as you navigate to the holidays! Get some educational math games here, so you can keep learning all season long!"




Again, thank you Shannon from Education.com for sharing this worksheet with me and allowing me to share it with my readers! 

You may also like this cute Phonics activity from a couple months ago!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

A Family Christmas Tradition - December 1st Boxes


I just love family traditions. It's what makes people look back on the holidays and smile. I know for me, I don't have a very good memory and I can't remember specific things that happened, but when I think back on the holidays growing up, I know that we were together as a family and we were happy. This is my hope for my kids as they grow up. 

I remember baking Christmas cookies with my Daddy and as we got older that baking evolving into an entire family affair where we make buckets and buckets of Christmas goodies (something we still do to this day.) I remember arguing with my siblings over who would get to be "Santa" and pass all the presents around. I remember spending many Christmases with our family in Kentucky. We always loved going up there because we got to spend time with our cousins, who were pretty much the same age as me and my brother. 

Since having kids, David and I have made our own traditions. There are things that are always on our December to-do list, such as going to Santa's Village, baking cookies with Raley (maybe Audrey will be big enough to help next year), making Gingerbread houses, and cuddling by the light of the tree and watching a movie. These are things that I always look forward to and I hope that as the years go by, my kids will look forward to doing them as well. I hope that when they're older, they will think back and remember that we were together and we were happy.

A few years ago, when Raley was just over a year old, we decided to start a new family tradition of giving the kids one gift on the first of December. You may have heard of Christmas Eve boxes? I loved the idea, but I wanted us to be able to enjoy these gifts all month long as we get ready for Christmas. Each year we get them a Christmas movie, a book and each a pair of jammies. As they get older, they'll know what's in their December 1st boxes, but this year they were still surprised!
Audrey said "Wudolph! So cute!"


This year we are trying to keep the season more focused on Jesus so we found a book about Jesus' birth. I like this one because it has passages from Luke and Matthew about the birth of Christ. I also got a nativity sticker book from Usborne books. Our movie this year was Polar Express.

Raley wanted to read the book to Audrey. It was pretty adorable.
PJ's: Audrey| Raley
We read the book, popped some break and bake cookies in the oven, then spent the rest of the evening watching polar express, playing with the sticker book and eating cookies. I made some hot chocolate for Raley but she kept saying it was too hot, even though it was [at the most] lukewarm. She's so funny about temperature. Next time I'll make her chocolate milk and tell her it's cold hot chocolate!

Just a couple photos from years past - it's hard to believe that this is the 4th year that we've done this. They really do grow up way too fast!
2016: Raley 3, Audrey 11 months
2015: Raley 2
2014: Raley 1 (she's so tiny here!)

Do you have any special Christmas traditions that you did growing up? Do you have any new ones with your kids? 

You may also like:
Gift Ideas that are NOT Toys
Favorite Toys - Ages 4 and 1.5 (more gift ideas)
A Christ and Family Centered Christmas


Let's get social!



Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Gift Ideas that are NOT Toys

Does this sound familiar to you?

You've got more toys than you know what to do with. Half of them your kids have either grown out of or grown bored with. You have friends and family asking what your kids want for Christmas. You tell them they do not need any more toys and, actually, they have plenty of clothes too. The thought of finding a spot for more toys makes your stomach turn.  You're already thinking of ways to make it work because they will inevitably get more toys.

Yep. Me too.

So today I'm sharing a list of gifts that are NOT toys that will hopefully spark a few ideas for the little ones in your life.

EXPERIENCES
Zoo membership or tickets
If  your family lives close to a zoo, a membership is a wonderful idea. I wish so bad that we lived closer to a zoo because we would definitely make use of a membership, however the closest for us  are Birmingham or Nashville.  If you're like us and not close enough to a zoo to make use of a membership, day passes for the family is another great idea.

Membership to Botanical Garden
I've stated before that our membership to the Huntsville Botanical Garden and our carousel passes (both gifted to us last year for Christmas by our families) have been our favorite thing this year. We would not have been able to visit the garden nearly as much this year if we had to pay every time we went.

Annual carousel passes
Same as above. We ride the carousel just about every time we go to Bridgestreet and would not have had the opportunity to do this as often if it weren't for the passes.

Membership/frequent pass to an indoor play area
We love the new Let's Play facility in Huntsville. Raley asks to go all the time. They have a frequent pass where you can get 10 visits for a discounted price. If there is an indoor play area similar to Let's Play in your city, check and see if they do anything similar.

Membership to local children's museum
We have only been once, but my children loved Earlyworks Children's Museum, and this is something we would definitely like to do more. If you're in the Birmingham area, the McWane Science Center is awesome too. (It's not all for big kids - there's a really cool area for younger kids too!)

*If a membership is above your budget, a day pass to any places like these are always great too. The parents of the children you are buying for would definitely appreciate being able to take their kids to play without having to worry about paying admission.

LESSONS
Horseback riding lessons
Art lessons
Music lessons (guitar/piano/violin/etc.)
Golf lessons
Private pitching/hitting lessons
Private tumbling lessons

*These are geared more toward older kids. What is the child interested in? Has she been asking to ride a horse? Has he been wanting to learn to golf? Maybe he's a baseball player wanting to improve his skills. Or she's a cheerleader wanting to learn new tricks. Maybe a few lessons are the way to go. This could allow them the opportunity to learn something new or improve upon something they already love doing. It could also be very beneficial for them down the road.

OTHER NON-TOY ITEMS
Magazine subscription - My friend April got Raley a magazine subscription for her birthday and she was so excited when it came in the mail and had HER name on it. It's fun and educational.
Movies
Books
Pajamas
Sleeping bag
Sports gear - Ball glove and bat, a set of golf clubs, soccer ball and goal, tennis racket, etc.
Camping supplies
Fishing supplies
Journal and fancy pen
Art supplies
Rolling suitcase
Bath robe and slippers
Blanket (these mermaid tail blankets are a hit right now)

*These are a few ideas that kids will enjoy and can also be very useful.

If you're still looking for ideas for Christmas this year, I hope you will find this list helpful when shopping for the little ones on your list. (Be sure to pass it along to your family and friends as a hint!😉)   Have a blessed and wonderful holiday season!

You may also like:
Favorite Toys - Ages 4 and 1.5
A Christ and Family Centered Christmas
2017 Christmas Home Tour


Let's get social!

Friday, November 24, 2017

Christmas Home Tour 2017

I hope everyone had an amazing Thanksgiving yesterday! We had a great time with David's side of the family and we are headed up to Kentucky to spend the weekend with my family. We are excited because this is the first year that the entire family has been together for Thanksgiving since all of us cousins started having babies. It will be like a mini family reunion having everyone under one roof at my Granny's house.

For today I wanted to keep it quick and light and share a few quick pictures of our Christmas decorations this year. I decided to go a bit different with the color scheme than I have in years past but I'm in love!

I've wanted to try out this color scheme for a while now, but didn't want to splurge on a bunch of new ornaments and decorations. When we first got married I went with the more traditional red, green and gold tree and decor. However, Audrey's birthday falls just two weeks after Christmas and last year I was planning to do a Winter ONEderland theme in blue, pink and white. (I had already bought a ton of decorations for her party on clearance the previous year.) I really wanted to not have to worry about taking the tree down before her birthday party so I bought a couple of those 50 piece sets of ornaments from Hobby Lobby for half off and decorated the tree in blue, pink and white ($20 for 100 ornaments ain't bad!). This color scheme gave me ALL the heart eye emoji's and I seriously considered going that route again this year because I LOVE pink! BUT I ultimately decided to go with red, turquoise and white since this has been something I've been wanting to do for a while.

Between all of the blue and white pieces I used for Audrey's party last year and some old red decorations, I didn't need to buy much to round everything out. I did end up making a trip (actually two) to Hobby Lobby to get one more pack of ornaments and a few accent pieces for the tree. I love how it all turned out!
This year
Last year

I wanted to use mostly blue and white with pops of red. Red can be such an overpowering color and I really wanted the blue to really stand out.

I know most people probably put the "star" on the top of the tree last, but I like to do it first. I tend to work from the top down. Does anyone else do this?
My sweet helpers. David was such a trooper. The worst part of an artificial tree is pulling the branches apart and David knows how much I hate it. He helped me pull out the branches and string the lights on, which was such a huge help.

You remember a few days ago in this post I mentioned how my OCD is in full force when decorating the tree? Yea, it's bad. It took me forever to get this done because I kept putting a few on, stepping back, moving something, add a few more, and so on. There can't be too many reds next to each other. The flowers have to be spaced correctly and the same color can't be too close together. And then those things sticking out of the side liked to have drove me crazy! Anyone else have this problem? Just me?

Anyway, every year we get Raley a new nutcracker and this year I took her to Hobby Lobby to pick one out. She picked out the fairy ballerina you'll see a little further down. I love this tradition though and it was one that was started by accident. The first year I got one (I think she was two) and it wasn't intended to be for her but she loved it and wanted to hold him all the time. Then last year I got her one and surprised her with it as a hint that we were going to see The Nutcracker ballet later that night (which she did not sit through by the way.) This year she was so excited to pick out her own nutcracker and has been asking for a while when we get to go see the ballet. She kept telling me that she will sit still and be quiet this year. I took her to see The Dance Company's production of The Nutcracker last weekend with some friends and she actually did really well! I'm excited to make this a tradition and for Audrey to get to join in in the years to come.

I would like to get Audrey something special each year as well but we haven't found the perfect idea. I thought about either snowmen or gingerbread men. I was leaning toward snowmen but believe it or not I actually had a hard time finding snowmen that I thought she would like. Hobby Lobby doesn't have the selection they usually do this year. I also thought about doing nutcrackers for her as well because she gets excited when she sees them or when we read the book. Idk...anyone have any ideas?

I've never had a good place to hang up Christmas cards....they usually end up filling up the front of my fridge. This year I took this old window frame I had and strung up some twine to hang my cards. Can't wait to get my first one in the mail!

That's all I've got for now! I hope you enjoyed and can maybe find some inspiration somewhere. 
What is your favorite Christmas color scheme? Anyone else get super OCD when decorating? 

You may also like:
Life Lately - 2016 Holiday Season (Christmas decorations from last year)
A New Christmas Tradition  (something that we've done every year and that I always look forward to)
How To Make A Tree Topper Bow and a Few Decorations (a peek at the red, green and gold decorations from a few years ago)


Let's get social!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Coffee Talk Confessions - November 2017

Hey yall! I've got a few more confessions comin' at ya this afternoon!


//I've been listening to Christmas music on Pandora since November 1.

//It took a good 3 and a half days to get the Christmas decorations up. My OCD is in full swing when decorating for Christmas, especially the tree. (Anyone else have this problem?)

//A little over a month ago I started getting up early around 5:30-6:00, which wasn't easy for someone who likes their sleep. I found that I really enjoy that early morning quiet time to myself and I think that it has made a huge difference in my mood in the mornings. I try to get things done in the morning, but not every morning is productive. Sometimes I lay on the couch and watch TV. Sometimes I sit outside with a cup of coffee and read a book or study the Bible or sometimes just scroll through my phone as I watch the sun come up. The best part about it is that by the time the girls start waking up around 7:30-8:00 I've already had a cup (or two) of coffee and I'm wide awake and more ready to take care of their needs. I also tend to be more patient and less on edge. 
Before, I would let my kids be my alarm clock and I wasn't always in the best mood when I woke up.  I often felt rushed and I would find myself becoming short and snappy with them. I did not like starting the day like this. Just this one little change has made such a huge difference in my entire attitude. 
*Thank you to Erica from Whimsical September for sharing your new daily routine and encouraging me to change mine! 

//Unless it's like super cold in the house, I always have to sleep with one foot uncovered. But it can't be falling off the bed. I have a weird fear that something is going to grab my foot if it's hanging off the bed. 

//Speaking of weird fears, when I was little I was scared of Injun Joe from the movie Tom and Huck. I would turn my light off then run and jump in my bed. I would surround myself with stuffed animals so if Injun Joe came through my window he wouldn't see me. Sound logic right there.

//My messy bun always looks the best when I throw my hair on top of my head right before I take a bath. But whenever I try to recreate the look to go out in public, I end up spending 15 minutes trying to make it look right...why?!?

//I was going through and sort of cleaning up the blog the other day and while going through old posts I was reminded of why I love doing this so much. I found this post about sweet little things that Raley used to do and it had me tearing up. Because honestly, I had forgotten she used to do those things! I love that David and I are able to look back at our lives and be reminded of the little things that made our world go 'round.

Thank you for reading - you are the reason I keep doing this. I make zero money off of this blog.  I do it because I enjoy it and in hopes that my writing will touch others in some way. Have a great Thanksgiving holiday!

You may also like:
For more confessions, visit the Coffee Talk Confessions Archive


Let's get social!