Everyday Life, Two Legged Fun

Christmas Fun: Portable North Pole and Reindeer Cam

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Have you seen portablenorthpole.com yet?  I discovered it a few years ago and have made a video message for my little guy every year since.  The first year I did it he was so excited to see Santa that I think we must have watched it over 100 times.

The program allows you to fill out personal details and customize the video to the child or adult.  I get to input his age, photos, Christmas wishes, details on how we spent the last year and decide if he is on the naughty or nice list.  The final video incorporates those pictures and Santa even says his name to make it that much more authentic.  Camden started out somewhere between naughty/nice, but after a few quick changes this morning we re-watched and he was excited to see he has made it to Santa’s nice list!

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Next year I will make one for each of them, but this year Keira is just happy to watch Santa and the elves in her brother’s video.

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And if you are looking more Christmas fun, I highly recommend Santa’s Reindeer Cam!  We have downloaded the app to the ipad and it allows the kids to check in on Santa’s live reindeer.  There is also a feeding schedule so if you visit at the right times, you can see Santa feeding his reindeer throughout the day!

 

Two Legged Fun

Creating New Holiday Traditions: Night’s Before Christmas Care Pack

Our kids are at a young enough age that we are still trying to figure out what Christmas is for us as an immediate family of four.  We now have three Christmases as parents under our belt, and my son is finally at an age where he has a greater appreciation for the Christmas activities we plan and is able to start remembering some of the yearly traditions we might have.

I have been looking for new traditions to start with the kids this year and two of the ideas I fell in love with is were the Advent Calendar/Christmas Countdown from Urban Daisies:

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And the Christmas Eve movie box (source unknown):

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The books was easy enough to do after I hunted down all the Christmas books we already owned and bought a few more from Costco and Dollarama.  A couple rolls of wrapping paper (Mickey, of course) plus one night of wrapping and  we were set!

The Christmas Eve box ended up being a lot more complicated.  It is a box packed full with a new Christmas movie, pajamas, popcorn and hot chocolate to be enjoyed on Christmas Eve.  It would have been perfect at our house growing up where we typically went to church early and then got new pajamas and enjoyed a quiet Christmas Eve watching a movie (preferably Muppet’s Family Christmas), but my husband’s side does things a bit differently.

For the last several years we have spent Christmas Eve with my husbands family and it isn’t the quiet, relaxing evening I was accustomed to as a kid.  We head there in the late afternoon and are there until well past bedtime attending an evening church service and then opening gifts and enjoying snacks.  Santa always visited my husband and his brother’s while they were at church, whereas my siblings and I had to go to bed on Christmas Eve and Santa would come while we were sleeping.  Our own children get to enjoy a hybrid of both: opening gifts with my husbands family Christmas Eve and then having Santa leave gifts at our own house for them to open Christmas morning.

I did consider doing a Night Before Christmas Eve box for the kids, but that seemed kind of silly.  I finally settled on the idea of doing up a slightly different package for the kids to open at the same time we started our Christmas book countdown.

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The bedtime care package I put together for the kids included:

  • Christmas themed body wash, shampoo, bubbles and handsoap for bath time
  • New Christmassy pajamas
  • Sippy cups for their milk before bed
  • A package of cookies for bedtime snack
  • A small bag of Hershey Kisses for a treat
  • A new stuffed friend each to snuggle

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I also included a somewhat lengthy note explaining their gift and the book countdown:

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I am not sure it has help make my children any better behaved, but they are a lot more willing to go for a bath each night and I love seeing their excitement each night as they choose a book to unwrap.

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It hasn’t taken my 18 month old long to catch onto this new routine and she has begun bringing me wrapped books throughout the day wanting to open them.  If nothing, we are getting good unwrapping practice in so she is ready for the big event next week!

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Now that we have all the books, this is something I will definitely do again in the years to come.  I have typically waited until Christmas Eve to give the kids their Christmas pajamas but I love the idea of giving them in the care package to wear throughout the entire month of December.  The care package was quick and inexpensive to put together and is just one more little way I can bring a touch of magic and excitement to the holiday season.

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Big Hands, Celebrations, Crafts

Salt Dough Mickey Snowman Ornaments

This year we have decided to keep our Christmas pretty scaled down in terms of decorating.  After last Christmas, we nicely boxed up all our ornaments and Christmas décor thinking we would be moved into our new house by this point.  We are still a good two months away from being in our new home, but we have made the decision not to pull out all the Christmas decorations and then have to box it back up when we’ll have enough other packing and organizing to do right after Christmas.  I was originally disappointed by not being in our new home for Christmas and not getting a real tree like we normally do, but it has proved to be a bit of a fun challenge for me to come up with alternative cheap and simple solutions to decorate the house.

We have a 4 foot artificial tree I bought several years ago and we will be using that as our tree.  I decided to make some quick Mickey shaped ornaments for it out of Christmas balls, and then things kind of snowballed from there with Mickey themed DIY projects throughout our main floor.  This week I will be sharing with you what I have been up to and highlight a different Mickey themed Christmas project each day.

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Today we have some relatively simple salt dough ornaments I created to hang on the tree alongside the large Mickey Balls.  In my search for ornaments inspiration I came across these adorable Mickey snowman ornaments from busykidshappymom and thought they something simple I could recreate in salt dough.

I remembered I had bought a Mickey shaped cookie cutter about a year and a half ago with the intention of eventually doing a Mickey or Minnie themed birthday party for one of the kids.  I  have all kinds of Mickey party ideas pinned on pinterest, but there are just so many other fun themes to pick from that now I am not sure I will actually ever end up doing a Mickey or Minnie birthday party.  I wasn’t originally planning an entire Mickey/Minnie themed Christmas, but it worked out nicely due to our circumstances and has been a good excuse to put some of those pinned ideas to use.

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Salt D0ugh Recipe

  • 1 part salt (1/2 cup)
  • 1 part water (1/2 cup)
  • 2 parts flour (1 cup)
  • A small bag of glitter to add some sparkle (optional)

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To make the dough, I just dumped all the ingredients into my stand mixer bowl and used the dough hook to combine.  They came together fairly easy with a bit of hand kneading afterwards, but my dough was a little dry and I ended up having to add more water.

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Once the dough was made, I simply rolled it out with a rolling pin, and used my cookie cutter to cut out my Mickey Shapes.  I then transferred the cut shapes to a cut sheet using a metal spatula, just as you would making sugar cookies.

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For the ear hat portion, I used the same Mickey cutter and then used a circle cutter to cut off excess at the bottom.  I decided to do them separately and not stick the two pieces of dough together at this point so painting the ears would be a little easier.

For the small snowman noses, I free shaped them from bits of the dough.

The final step with the dough was to  put a hanging holes in each piece.  I used a drinking straw and just poked through each head and set of ears to create a hole for my string to go through.

Once happy with my cut shapes, I put both pans of ornaments into a 200 degree Fahrenheit oven and let them slowly dehydrate for 2 hours.

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Once dried and cooled, my next step was to paint the ear and nose pieces using acrylic craft paint,  and then assemble each of my snowmen using hot glue.  Most of my string holes lined up pretty well when stacking the pieces, but I did put the strings through before gluing so I wasn’t struggling to feed them through afterwards.  Finally, I drew on the mouth and eyes with a small sharpie pen.

I also had some snowflake pieces I had cut out and baked so I gave those to my son and let him go to town on them with my sharpie markers while I was busy assembling my Mickey’s.

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This was my first attempt with salt dough and it was so easy it is something I will definitely try again.  If I were to make these same ornaments again, I would make the ear pieces a bit thinner, but overall I love the way they turned out.  They look cute on my tree and it was a very inexpensive project using ingredients and supplies I already had on hand.

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