Christmas Countdown Out of Whack

Well, I’m terrible at updating the countdown this year. But we have done all sorts of fun things.

Day 11: Pick out ornament for the tree (2012 was Cat in the Hat, 2013 was Tow Mater, 2014 is Minnie Mouse) This was the first year that Miss Punky picked out the ornament herself. Its going to be a very Merry Minnie Christmas. Literally. She has asked for only two things from Santa. Minnie Bike and Light Up Shoes. I have the bike in the works (her godfather is painting an old bike we had) and the light up shoes I got for her are Minnie Mouse and the bows and hearts light up. She’s going to love them.

From her moms so far I have gotten her a zebra print Minnie Mouse bath robe, because she’s so dramatic about being cold when she comes out of the tub and dries off. The small walk to her room or down the stairs in just a towel brings on the jitters and shivers. Its pretty darn adorable. I also found the cutest Minnie Mouse duffel bag for traveling and it comes with a sleeping bag. So when we go visit my family, she will have her own bag to take! Just like a big girl.

So – Minnie Mouse is the theme of this year.

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Day 12:Angel Tree and Senior Tree at Walmart. Walmart always sponsors children for Christmas. Kim and I have been picking stars off the tree for several years. This is the first time Miss Punky picked her own star. A 6 year old girl who wanted a baby doll and stroller. Miss Punky picked out the baby doll and I added the cheapest stroller(cause we aren’t made of money) to give to the little girl. Our bank sponsors seniors. I always try to take one of those as well. Punky picked a Grammy instead of a Papa and we bought their wish list item of art supplies.

I always feel bad that the paper ornaments with all the senior citizens on it are not usually touched. In fact, when I went to put the gift in the their collect box, there was trash inside of it, but no gifts. When we went back to Walmart the end day of the collection, there were still the same amount of ornaments on the tree. No one ever thinks of the senior citizens – at least that’s the way it looks. It’s pretty sad.

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Day 13: Kim’s grandfather’s union always has a Christmas Party and he gathers all his grandkids and great grandkids together for chili and nachos at 9am. We adults are getting to be a little less steel stomached for it. But they have Santa and pictures and lots of great things for the kids to do. Its a nice time normally. I didn’t get to attend, because with this midnight shift, I have been sleeping in late. So, I’m not in the family picture with Santa. But! Miss Punky is sitting on Santa’s lap! How exciting is that development?!

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Kim, Mrs. Claus, Santa, Uncle Eric, Punky, and Aunt Ashley

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I very small portion of the very large Italian family that I married into. They are all the grandkids and great-grandkids and their parents.

Day 14: We colored plastic ornament balls with sharpies for our neighbors and their kids as well as her godparents. She had fun just scribbling and it really added character to the gifts.

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Day 15: We filled the ornaments with hot chocolate and then delivered them to their new owners. They are lucky they got any marshmallows though, because she kept putting them in her mouth, instead of in the ornament!

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So that’s what we have been up to so far. I have also mailed all my Santa Letters this year. I dropped them in the mailbox to be picked up yesterday, so they are on their way to all the kids on the list. 140 of them this year!

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We have 9 days til Christmas. This has been the most interactive holiday with Punky – the one where she has participated, started to fully understand that this is a holiday, and really gotten into the spirit. I can’t wait to keep on making traditions with her!

Day 24: The End of Our First Christmas Countdown

On this our last day before Christmas, I think it’s pretty awesome turn out. I love that we have something to remember her second Christmas by. Part of me feels like this is the first Christmas for her, she really was able to participate in all the fun activities and I had such a blast spending extra special time for her.

After work tonight, we headed on over to Kim’s grandpa’s house. It was a little empty without her grandmother there.

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But, in our true family style, there was still food, love, and laughter.

Punky sat at the table like a big girl and eat her dinner, sort of. She doesn’t really eat much of anything. If we can get her to eat anything but bread and pasta, we feel like we have won the lottery. If she puts meat in her mouth of any kind, well, then we are the best moms ever!

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When we got home after dinner, we gave Punky her Christmas Eve present, we have decided to incorporate Kim’s family tradition of getting pajamas for Christmas Eve. So she got to open her present under the Christmas tree lights.

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She got a new book, that we will be reading before bed tonight and a new little pajama set, which she was very excited to put on right away.

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I just love them! They were just too cute to pass up. Kim really likes moose, so this was a shout out to the warm winter pajamas before Christmas, but also to her mama’s favorite stuff.

We are definitely ready for Christmas tomorrow morning. I need to wrap the rest of the presents and stuff her stocking with some little toys and fun stuff.

Hope everyone else is going to have a great holiday season. No matter what you celebrate and no matter your reason for the season!

Day 18: Making Cookies With Mommy

So, let me preface this by saying, I’m not a baker and I don’t really cook. However, I really wanted one of our countdown days to incorporate a dear tradition from my childhood. One of my favorite memories, growing up, was going to my grandmother’s house and decorating cookies. Any way I wanted to! So, my brothers and sister would all gather around the table and smear icing and sprinkles all over the cookies.

I always told her I’d never get too old to decorate cookies. And, I meant it. I moved away and didn’t get to come back home for each year after I graduated, so I’m glad we got to start the tradition up again with Punky.

Again, I am not a baker, so making the dough from scratch, wasn’t going to happen. So, I got a package of pre-made dough – which is also very convenient after a long 8 hour day at work.

We laid out some wax paper and smooshed them into shapes with the cookie cutters.

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We put the cookies on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven. I swear I cooked them exactly as the instructions on the package said to cook them. After the 12 minute wait, I opened the oven to a cookie blob. All the cookies had grown into each other, deflated, and made a giant cookie in the pan.

Oh well, I was disappointed, but Kim made a good point, it doesn’t matter, it’s still going to taste good. So, while I wanted to help her decorate little candy canes and snowmen and the million stars she cut out, I suppose, for the toddler, a cookie blob was probably a better idea anyway.

We smeared some icing on the top, shook sprinkles on it and threw the candy ones on top.

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While I wanted everything to be perfect, it won’t always be. So, I suppose I need to lighten up a bit and let the fun be what it is. I know she enjoyed munching on the sprinkles and licking her icing covered fingers. Maybe next year, when the shapes may be more intriguing to her, I can figure out how I managed to lose all the shapes – but for now, it was a pretty sweet success.

Day 16: Afternoon Out on the Town with Mommy

This was a bit of a spur of the moment thing. We were supposed to just go to Walmart and get a star off the Angel tree and come home. We will still do that later, but well, I decided to take Miss Punky off to the mall. It’s the first time she’s really been since she’s been so mobile.

Her Mama was taking a nap – so I thought, what better way to keep the house semi-quiet (I forgot to turn off the TV, so it didn’t work) than to get the toddler out of the house. The weather is pretty decent today and it was a nice little outing for just the two of us.

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I got her dressed first, in one of her many Christmas shirts. This one says, “Is it too late to be Good?” While I was getting myself ready, I looked over and she’s just chilling by the front door. When I pulled up the pictures to pick which ones to share, I noticed that she got the door with some chalk. Easy to clean up and according to Kim its been there for a bit. I never noticed!

Anyway, we went to the mall and wandered about. We went down to the play area first, because I wasn’t really sure where the Santa set was. One of my really great mom friends works over there and I was looking for her. While Punky played, I texted her to see where she was hiding Santa in the huge ass mall.

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While we waited for the return text, Punky saw the giant carousel and decided she must ride on it.

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I tried to put her on a horse first, but with all other horse like rides, she wasn’t having it. So we settled for nice little carriage seat for her to be buckled into, all nice and comfy.

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After our ride, we found out that my friend wasn’t working today, but she called ahead and told them to give me a photo package of my choice. How thoughtful she is! I’m so glad that while I didn’t really get much out of the mom’s group I was apart of, I met some really sweet ladies, like this one!

We  made our way to the Santa set, but Santa was taking a break. Instead of trying to wrangle the kid while we waited for 15 minutes for Santa to return, we took a short ride up the escalator to Build-a-Bear. Totally spur of the moment. But, what’s an outing with Mommy without a little money spent.

She picked out her ‘pony’ and we went to get it stuffed. I had to practically put her foot on the peddle the whole time, but we got it stuffed.

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We washed the pony and made a birth certificate and paid for it. No clothes or shoes were needed, she’s not even two. But, I am thinking this may need to be a tradition for Punky and I every year. I really enjoyed watching her pick out her toy and make it and then not let it go.

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We finally made it back to get a picture with Santa.

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She did well, but she did have a death grip on the pony. On the way out, we stopped for a Dora cookie for the road and Mommy needed a drink. We headed out to the car and she was content to hold onto her pony the whole way home.

It was one of the few times she fell asleep in the car. I hated to wake her!

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She’s currently sleeping off her fun filled afternoon and I am relaxing my feet! I think an afternoon with Mommy will have to be on the books for years to come! 🙂

Day 12: Coloring Christmas Cards for Family

I woke up with a migraine today and called out sick to work. I’m still not feeling great, in that, my head still has a dull throb to it.

I stayed home with Punky and spent time hanging out quietly around the house. This afternoon, we opened her envelope for the day and it had a little tattoo inside and the idea for coloring Christmas Cards to send to our family members.

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It was the first time that she didn’t eat the crayons. Of course, the longer she was coloring the more she had to fight the urge to eat the crayons. She did eat a few of the tips off of them.

After a nap, we got up and started to set up the Christmas tree. I have been meaning to set it up for some time, so we finally got it put it. Punky did a lot of helping us with the putting it together. She was kind of fascinated with the branches.

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She got to put the star on the top of the tree as well.

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After getting the lights on, we found that some of the ornaments from last year were broken, so we figured we needed to get some more. Punky and I went out to Walmart for more. She picked out some cute purple ornaments, shatterproof, of course.

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She came home with a new baby. Typical of a shopping trip with Punky.

When we got home, she helped me put the ornaments on the tree, which really just consisted of her shoving the ornaments in between the branches and letting them fall to the floor. Shatterproof! Thank goodness.

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When the tree was put up, we wrapped her up in the left over garland. She marched and danced around the living room with garland falling to her feet.

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While I had a headache most of the day and my eyes and sinuses seem to be bothering me, I had a decent time with my little monster today!

Day 9: Reading a New Book with Mommy and a Baby Foot Tattoo

A long day at work and a stressed out baby mama. I came home and got the dinner on and put the kiddo in the bathtub.

Day 9 was really just a simple little night. A new book for Punky and a little tattoo. She’s loving the temporary tattoos right now. I think it’s great. Its a super cute favorite thing for our daughter. She loves the little things and I

absolutely love that she is so easily amused.

 

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We had a nice time hanging out on the couch and spending time together. I have come to look forward to the nights after work when we get to open a new envelope. She seems to look forward to it too!

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She got a tattoo on her foot tonight, it was awesome! She even walked ridiculously afterward. She just kept wanting to look at it, so she waddled a lot. It was very cute.

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She stole my peppermint white chocolate pretzels and decided she needed to try and feed me. Thank goodness she didn’t lick it first or give me one without chocolate on it!

Day 7: Walking Through WhoVille with Mommy

Originally, we were supposed to go to Christmas in the Park. In our location, it’s a place where you drive through the park and they have big light scenes and decorations. We will still do that, but I was shopping yesterday and I came across a flyer on their classified boards.

A local church down the road was putting on a Who-bilation Celebration in their church. We don’t usually frequent churches, as we all know, but this looked like something right up our alley, what with the Dr. Seuss theme we have started with Punky.

So, we pulled out her birthday dress, and it still fits, so she and I made an appearance at the church and pranced around the WhoVille streets.

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They had all sorts of games and candy and picture ops. She got her picture taken by complete strangers, but I figured, perhaps it was fine, since her pictures are all over the internet now, huh. Anyway – she got to go into the bakery and the cupcake shop, decorating with lots of icing and sprinkles.

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After about an hour of hanging out with all the WhoVille people, we took a few pictures with the backdrops they had all over the church hallways. The Grinch was running around stealing cookies and cupcakes throughout the halls, but she was not really interested in him.

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By the end of the night, we were tuckered out. We stopped to get Mama some dinner and headed on home, hopped up on all the Christmas sugar we were given at the party!

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Before we headed out for the evening, Mama and I put her new big girl bed together. So she was able to come home, change into her pirate pjs, open up her envelope on her bed and see that she had a new car hidden inside of it!

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We are going to see how it goes with her sleeping in her new big girl bed. So far, she loves it and she hasn’t really gotten out of it. I must admit, she has slept in it before, because we got the bed from Grammy and Papa. She is familiar with the bed, but she very cute in the bed. I am interested to see how she does tonight.

Let me just say … my baby looks so big in that bed! I am starting to get more sentimental as the year goes on. She’s going to be two in March and just watching her sit and lay in the big girl bed, makes me super emotional!

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I just want to keep her as small as she is. She is mimicking more, she’s talking more, she’s learning so much, so fast!

In other news, Kim and I downloaded the application for our marriage license. We filled it out and we are looking into getting this under way soon! We definitely need to get married before my work benefits kick in around June, so she can be covered on my insurance properly.

We just have to get the trip scheduled for our five hour journey to Iowa. We need to get this application to a notary and mail it in. Then we can go to Iowa, hopefully with a two witnesses and a minister. We got more planning to do, but we are getting closer!

Day 7 for this Christmas Countdown is definitely a hit.

DIY – Christmas Countdown/Advent Calendar (Non-Religious) For Toddlers

I know, two posts in one day, but I’m just so damn proud of myself right now. I have been looking for a way to countdown the days until Christmas with Punky. However, I didn’t want to use one of the religious advent calendars that are geared towards the birth of Jesus or scriptures from the Bible.

This year, I just wanted to focus on activities that we can do as a family. Little things every day that we can do together, either in the house or out.

So, I made my own. I didn’t really want to buy one, I wanted it to be special to our family. And, we all know that I have an Etsy shop for digital design, so I hopped onto Photoshop and made up some cute little Christmas Countdown cards and took some fun ideas from Pinterest as well as from mine and Kim’s family traditions growing up.

I decided to do a step by step, in case someone wants to make their own. I think ours is definitely geared towards little ones. Small children or toddlers who may or may not yet understand the meaning of Christmas, but are small minds ready and willing to be molded. A great time to start teaching by example and forming great traditions for years to come!

Without further ado, here’s a tutorial for you! My very first ever DIY post on the interwebs!

Optional: All the cards and numbers I used in ours are here. Feel free to use them, though they are geared toward our location and our family specifically, most of them can be used for just about anyone.

What You Need: Scrapbook paper (8X8), ribbons, craft scissors, regular scissors, self laminating pouches, hole punch, tape/glue stick

Step 1:

IMG_2799I got some funky and pretty scrapbook paper that I wanted to turn into paper envelopes. I am working with a toddler here, so no need to get fancy with my envelopes. This was the simplest envelope tutorial I could find. And while they weren’t all uniform, it doesn’t matter, she’s not even two yet.

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Pick out the design you want

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Turn it design face down and at a diagonal angle.

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Fold the two corners in – so that they meet in the middle and tape the intersection.

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Fold the bottom section up to the intersection in the middle and tape both sides down.

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Fold the top section down to the middle intersection and crease the paper, but do not tape.

Make 24 little envelopes like this. You can use all the same colors or a color scheme. I just liked the random and the pretty.

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Step 2:

Cut out your numbers. I used fun craft scissors to spice up the edges, you can cut straight edges as well. Totally up to you. You can also simply write the numbers on the outside of the envelopes if you don’t want to download the numbers.

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Step 3:

Attach the number to the outside of the envelope. Make sure you tape it down or glue it down really well. Leave top flap open.

IMG_2809Step 4:

You can write your own activities, get on the computer and make up some cute cards like the ones in the download link or you can use the ones I have made and used. If you opt to make your own, I used a 4X2 dimension and that made it easy to fit in the envelopes. Either way, cut them out and get them ready to go.

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You also don’t have to laminate, but since I’m working with a toddler, I really wanted a way to make the cards durable. So, I laminated and cut them out. TIP: If you haven’t ever used the self laminating pouches, make sure you leave room on either side of your card so you can cut them out. Also, don’t cut at the edge of the card, leave a small amount of laminate around the edges otherwise the backs will fall off!

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Step 6:

Put your cards in the envelopes. I tried to decide which day of the week and the dates of things. I wanted to make sure if we were going out somewhere, it was mostly on the weekend or if it was a night I had to work, we would be staying home to do things. Strategies are key in my life, I would assume for anyone with a toddler, the same would be the case. Anyway, my cards went into their envelope homes with very much planning behind it.

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Hole punch a corner of the envelope. Be careful not to hole punch with the numbers upside down or hole punch through your cute little card.

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String the envelopes onto a pretty ribbon. I just used a sparkly silver ribbon I had in my craft/party planning supplies. Nothing too fancy. I chose to string it from 24 down to 1, because I intended Punky to pull from the bottom. Make sure you decide which end you want to start on and work backwards when you string the envelopes.

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Tada! Beautiful, cheap and toddler proof countdown to Christmas. I plan to add a few little chocolate or candy treats in some of the envelopes, small toys and surprises as well. I know a laminated card with words on it, will not hold her attention, but if she gets a treat or a present every day, she is sure to be excited about her first ever Christmas Countdown Calendar.

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I hope to make it more festive in this corner later in the week!

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I’m pretty excited to see her open her first card. I hope doing things like this will instill in her the magic and the excitement kids have for Christmas. You know, some people don’t want to “lie to their kids” about Christmas and allow their children to believe in imaginary people (don’t get me started on the Christian reason for the season), but I say, why invite the stress and the worry. I love the idea of giving my kid an imaginative and magical holiday.

And what better way to do that than to spend time doing something fun and geared towards Christmas every day of December leading up to the holiday!