Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Aaaand We're Back!

Back to blogging, and back to Blogger!

Who knew the month of December would leave me with not a moment to blog!? I envisioned regular updates on all of our Advent activities. Instead I got busy doing the activities {as it should be, after all} and found no time to sit down and write. I did take photos though, and I do intend to share, probably in one longer recap post. Also, I got involved in making a particular Christmas gift and that endeavor took longer than anticipated- as always! The project was well worth the extra time in the end. I couldn't be happier with how it turned out.

You'll also notice that we're back on Blogger instead of WordPress. I just couldn't get settled and comfortable at WordPress. It felt like living in a hotel- none of your stuff is where you like to keep it, and you can't find what you're looking for. Coming back to Blogger felt like getting back home and putting all my stuff away where it belongs (does that analogy translate for non-type-As?). Maybe it's because I was so used to Blogger, where I originally began blogging. Maybe it's because WP is really not as well designed. I personally find Blogger much easier to use and much more customizable. WordPress had options, but they were all part of the "upgrade," of course meaning that you had to pay to use them. I also like the Blogger mobile app much better. Again, easier to use. And if I'm being totally honest, easier to use = more blogging. It's that simple.

I couldn't help but notice that 2013 has been my least blogged year on record {except for 2007, my first year of blogging}. While that's a little disappointing, I know it's mostly due to a new {and very cute} little somebody who I'm spending my former blogging time with these days, and I'm just fine with that. I'm looking forward to starting 2014 with a few posts including Advent, Christmas, and 2013 recaps :)

Until then, Happy New Year to everyone! We'll be partying family-style... a special dinner {at home}, followed by naps when then kids go to bed so we can stay awake until midnight. Yep. That is our actual plan. Cheers to being old! :D

Friday, December 6, 2013

Advent 2013

For me, there is no more exciting time of year than the Christmas season. I've always loved Christmas and do even more now that I'm a mom. Watching your babies experience the magic of Christmas - from Santa, to snow, to the miraculous birth of Baby Jesus - is like nothing else in the world. It gives me some serious warm fuzzies! So you can imagine my excitement each year when it's time to start the countdown. We celebrated Advent for the first time last year when I felt like Carsen was big enough to start understanding that Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus. Of course, even this year she is a little young to grasp the notion of a savior, but I'm happy to start with the idea that we're celebrating his birth.

Last year, I made an advent calendar using some pretty winter cardstock I had on hand, and some leftover Christmas ribbon. You can read the how-to along with our list of Advent activities here. It was really cute, but it got on my nerves a little with the way it was assembled. So this year, I decided to simplify the calendar itself. I still wanted it to be reusable for future years, though, so I used a piece of foam-core posterboard and a pad of sticky notes. I started by making a calendar grid on the posterboard {it was 20" x 30" so I made 4x4 squares and left a 1" margin on each side of the 30" length}. Then I wrote each of the activities on the back of a sticky note - 23 total this year. Since certain activities are better for weekends or some are better for earlier/later in the month, I used our Google calendar to plan out what activities to do on which days and stuck them on the Advent calendar accordingly.
Once all the sticky notes were in place, I just used silver and black Sharpies to write the countdown numbers on them. I personally like to do the numbers as a countdown, although I know a lot of calendars count up to Christmas. To hang it, I placed a command hook upside down on the back of our basement door. Then I hot glued some ribbon to the back of the calendar and looped the ribbon over the command hook. Voila!

 Originally, I had my heart SET on red sticky notes. In my mind, they were everywhere for the holidays. I mean, they're sticky notes... how else would they capitalize on the holiday season?? In reality, I could find them nowhere. It got to be a few days in when I finally decided to just use blue and go with a "winter" color scheme. They're a little too electric blue for my taste, but I feel that I did the best I could with the resources that were available. I did find a pack of Post-Its that were more of a dark blue and they would have looked better, but I couldn't bring myself to spend $8 on a 6-pad pack when I only needed 23 stickies. UGH. I'll begin my hunt for red {or even a nice true green that's not neon!} for next year's calendar promptly on January 1st.

In the mean time, here's our list of activities for this year:

  • Decorate the tree and our house together

  • Read "The Story of Christmas"

  • Make cards for soldiers

  • Write a letter to Santa {Carsen dictates, mommy writes. Save it in her baby book!}

  • Visit Santa {at the mall}

  • New Christmas jammies

  • Christmas movie night #1 - Carsen's pick

  • Make ice cream cone Christmas trees with cousins

  • Learn about the symbols of Christmas

  • Make paper cone Christmas trees for decorations

  • Visit Valley View Farms {Carsen LOVES looking at Christmas trees in the stores, so this is a huge treat for her}

  • Make brown paper garland {like this} for decorations

  • Christmas movie night #2 - mommy's pick

  • Make gifts for grandparents

  • Make & decorate cardboard "Gingerbread" houses

  • Go see Christmas lights in the neighborhood

  • Read "The Night Before Christmas"

  • Make ice bubbles

  • Christmas movie night #3 - daddy's pick

  • Hot cocoa bar {like the one in this post}

  • Make a birthday card for Jesus

  • Bake cookies

  • Make {prep} a special breakfast for Christmas morning

Some of these are repeats from last year and some are new. As Carsen {and eventually Reagan and any future siblings} gets older there's more she can understand and participate in, so I'll change and adapt what we do each year accordingly.  Some things will probably always be on there like decorating the tree and house together as a family, Christmas movies, baking cookies, and making gifts for grandparents. In the future I'd like to add more service-related activities like volunteering and gathering food, toys, clothing or household items for donations {right now we usually do that around Thanksgiving}.

So far, we have... decorated, read "The Story of Christmas," made cards for soldiers, written a letter to Santa, visited Santa, and gotten new Christmas jammies.





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