THE HOLIDAYS: A TREE ADVENT CALENDAR.

I don’t recall doing an advent calendar growing up, but we (catholics) always had a little visual countdown with our advent wreath at dinner time. Every week leading up to Christmas, a new candle on the wreath is lit signifying Christmas day (and sweet baby Jesus) growing closer. Lighting (and blowing out) the candles was an event. Dad always lit them, but who would get to be the one to blow out the candle at the end of dinner? I begged for it every night. The glow of those purple and rose colored candles in the middle of the table added to the magic of the month. My parents light their candles every December to this day, and it’s a tradition that I want to continue with my family, but this year, fire is just something I can’t commit to yet with our tiny ones at the table

For now, opening little boxes topped with trees and filled with a small strip of paper with a holiday activity is such a sweet evening ritual to look forward to. It really makes the countdown to Christmas an event, and puts that whole “good cheer” and “merriment” of the season right in our midst. Within each box, I wrote a little Christmas activity to do on that day. I make sure to put all of our favorite Christmas movies and treats in the boxes. Some (especially weeknight activities) are easy, some more involved with a bit of planning. 

In a year or two, when the boys get a little bit bigger, I’ll start subbing in more activities for the good of others (Donate toys! Volunteer! Buy a gift for a family in need! Send homemade Christmas cards to a nursing home! Bake cookies for the homeless shelter! Etc. etc. etc.) and more outings as our kids age (Go to the Nutcracker! Drive around to see the Christmas lights! Go ice skating!). But for now, we’ll settle for a watch of The Grinch on the couch before bed, or a night of wearing Christmas hats with Christmas tunes tinkling in the background. 

In the rush of coming off of travel and Thanksgiving being so late this year, I didn’t even put our Advent calendar out until the 5th. But the 5th was just as good a day to start as the 1st, or even the 10th. 

I made our advent calendar last year, and love it just as much this year. I got everything from Michael’s when they were having a 60% off sale (as they are this week!) and the only other supply I needed was a sharpie and a hot glue gun, which I had at home. 

I used this set of 21 bottle brush trees from Lemax. To fill in for the other 3 boxes, I used this set of pinecones and a little bag of silver bells. Berries would be nice too. Make sure to set your trees out in the order that you’ll glue them to the boxes to make sure the heights are appealing to the eye. Try to vary the heights a little. 

The boxes are small kraft paper boxes from the jewelry section at Michael’s. These are very similar. I wrote the numbers on the outside with a thin Sharpie and then simply hot glued the trees, pinecones and bells to the tops. Inside, tuck your activity and set up on a long table, or windowsill for little hands to open when the day arrives! In the spirit of full disclosure, Charlie did pull a bell off of a box today, but it’s nothing that can’t be fixed with another dab of hot glue.  

To store, I have a sturdy little cardboard box that I tuck them into at the end of each season, and you could even tuck them away after the day passes, but I kind of like looking at them all lined up the whole month. They are a decoration as much as they are a calendar! 

No doubt, the holiday wants and needs of your family are different than my own, but here are 24 ideas that I tucked into my own Advent calendar this year. The dates may shift, activities may pop up unannounced and some may not even happen (Naps! Meals! Work! Foul moods!), but that’s the beauty of the holidays, isn’t it? 

1 – Set up the advent calendar, and fill with all our favorites!
2 – Choose Christmas books from the library!
3 – Watch The Grinch – the original, very Dr. Seuss-y version, of course.
4 – Put up the nativity.
5 – Put out shoes for St. Nicholas Day.
6 – Go out to get our tree & decorate!
7 – Our town’s Christmas tree lighting.
8 – Outdoor lights go up!
9 – Christmas hats & Christmas tunes blasting
10 – Make Peppermint Bark.
11 – Watch White Christmas!
12 – Visit our church’s Christmas Village.
13 – Make a tree shaped pizza!
14 – Bake Christmas sugar cookies!
15 – Watch Elf!
16 – Hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps and one million marshmallows.
17 – A seasonal coffee treat from Starbucks.
18 – Make salt dough handprint ornaments.
19 – Charlie’s holiday performance at school! (There is nothing on this list that I’m looking forward to more than this.
20 – Homemade egg nog with a little splash of something to warm our bellies.
21 – Wear red and green!
22 – Make a batch of wassail for the Metrokas’ arrival!
23 – Wrap presents with Christmas movies on!
24 – Appetizer night at home and mass, of course.

Can’t even believe that we only have two weeks to go!

PEACHY BATHROOM INSPIRATION FOR THE BOYS’ (& GUEST) BATHROOM.

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via Burtsbrisplease instagram

I mentioned yesterday that I’ve been working on the boys’ bathroom (which doubles as our guest bathroom too). I thought I would share a little bit of my inspiration before I’m actually through with the space. towel rack

I didn’t mind our bathrooms when we bought our house. They’re decent, and kind of remodeled. I say kind of with a little trepidation because the only remodeling that has been done is that someone replaced the vanity. Original peach tile, basic tub, and peeling black window frame all remain. I like the tile! I really do. Our old house had pretty vintage blue tile that I always loved (Mike wasn’t a huge fan). So this was a happy surprise (for me) to find a house that had colored tile in the bathrooms. So of course I wasn’t planning to re-tile the whole thing. Nor did I want to replace much. I just wanted a little refresh. Add a little charm to the place. You know?

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Honestly, I just wanted to  paint the vanity and I thought I would be done with it. But you know how one project leads to another because you’re looking closer at everything and suddenly the project has become much larger because you’re doing something to everything in the room? Yeah. That’s happened. Monday Inspiration_ How We React Emotionally To Colour - Mad About The HouseI’m not going to go into much more detail because I’ll save that for the actual bathroom remodel post! These are just a few pictures that inspired me throughout this process, the pink vanity being the biggest part. Quickly followed by open shelving (and a gaping hole in the wall by the towel bar I removed), wall hooks, etc. etc etc. 🙂 Happy Monday, all!

All photos have been found via pinterest, my favorite source of inspiration!

TURKEY HATS FOR TWO LITTLE TURKEYS…AND OTHER THANKSGIVING DIYS.

img_2228Thanksgiving is one of my very favorite holidays and I can’t believe it’s coming up in just a couple weeks. Along with reading thanksgiving books, writing things that we’re thankful for, making turkey finger puppets, and dreaming about pumpkin pie (I whipped up the above pumpkin pie garland for a little thanksgiving decor using this tutorial on Martha Stewart), I also came upon this tutorial for a turkey hat. turkey hatI couldn’t help but think about making one for each of the boys for our trip north in a couple weeks. How cute would they be? Not to mention that they are currently hat-less boys (who needs hats when it’s 80 degrees every day!). My plan is to crochet the hat, but then use felt that I already have for the feathers and for the beak, and use buttons for the eyes instead of the crocheted body. What do you think? Am I crazy? If it doesn’t happen, I’m just going to know that I have it here for next year. 🙂

A SCHOOL CRAFT: GRATITUDE CHAIN.

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November has blown into our midst and with it, at least in the elementary school library, comes discussions about gratitude, songs about turkeys and books about special holiday family gatherings. I started our school gratitude chain this morning with my 3rd, 4th and 5th graders and each time they visit the library I’ll have them write little or big things that they are grateful for up to Thanksgiving break.

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This is such a quick and easy way to talk about how feeling grateful for things in our life links us together. I love doing these school wide bonding projects where my students can pick out the small part they play in the big picture. They’re part of something. I had students who wrote that they were thankful for their breakfast, their parents, their pets and others who said they were thankful for God, the world, and their education (whoa). It’s all gravy! It took five minutes of my precious class time after book check out which, in my opinion, is well worth it.  It was also nice to tell them that for my link in our gratitude chain, I wrote “I’m thankful for my students.” I hope it made them feel good.

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For this project you need:

  • scissors or a paper cutter
  • construction paper
  • tape
  • markers

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First, I used a paper cutter to cut the construction paper about 2-3″ by 9″ (short ways if using standard 9″ x 12″ construction paper.  I put stacks out for students to choose from along with a little container of markers. I had another empty container for them to place their strip when they were done.

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I later taped the ends together by weaving the links in a circle around the last one to form a chain. Keep adding to your chain as long as you’d like and hang up with either tape or pushpins.

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This is just from one day. I think we’ll make our way all the way around the library at this rate! Happy month of gratitude, friends!