Sunday, December 22, 2013

Simple Things Sunday: Merry Christmas

Every year, we have a friend Christmas party.  Unlike most Christmas parties, there is no dressing up, no fancy meals, no large crowd of acquaintances you barely know.  It's a casual, pizza munching, small friend gathering where it really is about just relaxing with friends before the holidays.  Best part is The No's get to spend time together and just have fun.



Whichever holiday you celebrate and however you chose to celebrate it, we hope it's filled with happiness and love!




Sunday, December 15, 2013

Simple Things Sunday: Snow Buddies

Two buds hanging out, watching the snow being cleared throughout the neighborhood and enjoying each others company.  No better way to spend a snowy Sunday morning!









Thursday, December 12, 2013

Adventures of Eggnog Evergreen

Our Elf, Eggnog Evergreen, has been back since November 30th.  He was supposed to wait until Mr. No's birthday on December 1st but Mr. No just couldn't wait one more day!  Most of our book related adventures can be found in this post and here are the rest of them!

Day 1: Eggnog arrives in style

No silly reindeer for our elf! He came in an Angry Birds sleigh pulled by a fire breathing dragon.  Good thing the toys set out a landing strip for him!  So many come out to welcome him home!



Day 2: Happy Birthday Mr. No!

Eggnog really put some effort into this birthday!  He got Mr. No a few presents, put up his new Christmas tree and lights for him and put streamers on the doors and ceiling fan. He even bought a new outfit for the occasion!


Day 3: Candy Thieves!

Now we're not certain if Eggnog was stealing the candy (from the giant bag Auntie & Uncle got him) or if he was getting it back from Yeti, Rudy and Rise of the Guardians Elf #2.  The Big Boots Police Force will figure it all out!




Day 4: Green Eggs and Ham (previous post)

Day 5: Angry Elves

Eggnog decided to play with Mr. No's new game...and use the other elves as pigs!  He needed a rest between his 2 big story book adventures.



Day 6: The Magic Tree House (previous post)

Day 7:  Eggnosh Hangs up His Wash (previous post)

Day 8: Pez Thieves!

Eggnog tried to bring some Pez for Mr. No but the elves (and ogre) weren't going to let that happen!  Hmmm...now are they stealing the candy to get back at Eggnog for stealing theirs or for getting them in trouble for stealing?  Not sure but Eggnog means business with that sword!  Never steal Eggnog's gift for Mr. No.



Day 9:  Annual Tree Trimming Party

Every Year Eggnog gathers a few friends and makes some decorations for Mr. No.  He always knows how to bring the Christmas cheer!




Day 10:  Lego Convention

Eggnog felt a little left out when he couldn't come to the Lego Kids Fest with us so he held his own!  We didn't have the heart to tell him that a Lego Convention wasn't simply a party with the Lego guys.





Day 11: Home Alone

One of Mr. No's favorite movies is Home Alone.  Eggnog attempted to recreate that with what we had on hand.  You have to use your imagination a little but Mr. No recognized it and loved it!  Good thing we have 2 fresh elves to be the Wet Bandits.



I feel like my ideas this year are not as good as last year's.  Mr. No is happy but I'm trying to rein in the need to do more.



Ultimate Elf on the Shelf Link Party

Monday, December 9, 2013

Eggnog Evergreen: Using our Elf to Promote Reading

Yay! Eggnog is back!  Tomorrow I will the rest of his adventures so far but, this year, I'm trying a new idea and it seems to be working! I'm using Eggnog to get Mr. No more interested in his book. I have no idea why I didn't think of it before especially since it makes it so easy to create scenes.  3 day sout of the 10 he's been back, Eggnog has gotten into Mr. No's bookshelf, pulled out a book (or books) and used them to create his nightly scene.  Some will be easy and some will be more involved. It's amazing how much more excited Mr. No is about the scenes when it's from a book he likes!  And he wants to read the book, sometimes several times, because of Eggnog. And since Eggnog is always thoughtful enough to leave the book out, it's easy for Mr. No to grab it and read.

This is what I've come up with so far:

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

Since we had items readily available, I somewhat recreated the part with the goat and the boat.  We have 2 Rise of the Guardian Elves that are enemies of Eggnog so they each had a part and a sign with their line from the story.


I quickly sewed 2 eggs from felt, just green circles sewn directly to cream colored blobs, and green ham which is stuffed with fluff.  The "plate" has a bit of elastic sewn to the bottom so it could easily slip on his hand and stay put.


Bad Elf with the goat, fox and mouse in his car, looking crabby.


This is one of Mr. No's favorite books but he's been cranky about reading it because we've been trying to pick out sight words while I read.  He was all for it that night since it had Eggnog's approval.


The Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osborne

This one was a bit more involved.  I actually made the tree house out of cardboard which was fairly simple. Cut the doors and windows and draw the lines on to make it look like wood and it was done. The cardboard ladder took a bit longer and I should have tied it differently but it worked.  I used the leftover cardboard and cut it into strip, then punched holes in the ends, tied on the yarn and then taped it into the tree house.  And Eggnog couldn't be Jack without his glasses!



I was even crazy enough to make cardboard books, paint them and add titles.  It's not the magic tree house without books! Lalaloopsy girl was Annie and then I grabbed whatever toys I could find that fit the books we had read so far.  Dinosaurs, pirates, ninjas, knights, etc. and hung the pteradactyl from the fan so he was flying. This made him want to continue on in the series so Eggnog would have more adventures to go on with LalaLoopsy Annie.
 

Mrs. McNosh Hangs Up Her Wash by Sarah Weeks

This was my last one so far.  Mr. No had everyone he could find read this book to him after Eggnog set up the scene.  It's a cute little book about Mrs. McNosh washing and hanging up the laundry and everything in sight including herself.  He thinks it's hilarious and I even managed to find some chatter teeth to pass as Grandpa McNosh's removable teeth. This was a simple one to set up.  Ribbon tied around the room and I hung up every silly but small enough thing I could find.




 I like to create things so I enjoy making the scenes more involved but they could easily be done as simply as Mrs. McNosh was and it's a positive but still fun alternative to fresh elves! Though we enjoy when our elf gets into mischief!  With Mr. No just beginning to learn sight words, I thought this would be a fun way to encourage him to read more without pushing him.  It's working and the book scenes are his favorite scenes so far!


Ultimate Elf on the Shelf Link Party


Monday, December 2, 2013

Christmas Craft #2: Clothespin Santa Ornaments

Last year we made the Elves and Santa clothespin crafts for gifts. We also attempted to make glass ornament balls that were "painted" inside with glitter and paint which did not work out well at all.  Mr. No loves his crafts so we do handmade ornaments every year.  The tree in his room is covered with Popsicle stick reindeer and snowmen, hand painted clay ornaments from when he was a baby and these clothespin ornaments. This was one that I came up with from looking at a few different Santa ornaments that weren't quite what we wanted.


For this craft, you need a hot glue gun or an amazing amount of patience.  Again, Mr. No had just turned 5 days before we did these so I would say 4 years old with a good amount of help or 5+ for this craft. The purpose of our crafts is fun and working together so Mr. No does not do all of the work.  Just most of it.

Materials needed for 8 Santas:

8 Clothespins: we used the ones without the hinge
Red craft felt: 1 craft square should be enough
Red, black, gold and peach/flesh color paint
White craft foam
8 tiny red pompoms for noses
8 sparkly white pompoms for hats
16 tiny googly eyes
8 medium size pompoms (any color)
White ribbon (for hanging)
White glue
hot glue gun

First step is, of course, to paint the clothespins.  I cut out the mustaches while Mr. No was painting.  Basically with kids paint or even the cheaper craft paint, when we finished the last one, the first one was dry enough for the next step.  We started with peach or flesh for the faces and red along the body.  We let them dry a minute and then painted our black boots and belts. Finishing touch was a dab of gold paint in the middle of the belt for the buckle.  Here is Mr. No's wonderful paint job!


Next we started gluing the face together.  We found that the easiest way to position everything right was to work our way up. We started with gluing on the mustaches and then glued a pompom nose right in the little dip. I found that it works best to put the littler pieces, noses and eyes, in shallow lids or trays. They don't tip and are easy for little fingers to grab.


Next step was to glue on the little eyes. Mr. No used tweezers for those.  He was getting annoyed at the glue on his fingers making it hard to position the eyes.


This was pretty much the end of Mr. No's part of this project.  Depending on the age of the child, the next step will be the adult's part of the craft. Here are our hatless Santas.


I did this step with craft glue but a hot glue gun is a much better and less aggravating choice.   I glued the medium sized pompom to the top of the heads.  While they were drying, I cut out the santa hats.  I don't have any pictures of these steps, not sure why. This is the shape you want to cut out. Triangle with a curved bottom.  I made them a bit over-sized but that was my preference. I think they look cute with the larger hat rather than one that fits around perfectly. The photo below the drawing shows 1 with a snug hat and the rest with over-sized hats so they can be compared.


The pompoms help hold the hat upright and make it easier to glue on. Mr. No and I just wrapped the hat around and glued in the back.  Regular glue may take 2 or 3 applications to stick. Hot glue is the way to go, especially for the pompom on top. Once the hat was dry, I glued that tricky little pompom to the top.  This was aggravating part.  I really need that hot glue gun.  The hats could also be made the same way as the elf hats instead but they are so much cuter with the felt.


We finished up by gluing our ribbon to the back of the clothespin.  If you aren't using hot glue, cut a small rectangle of felt and glue it over the ends of the ribbon to help keep it in place.  Here is our finished ornament on Mr. No's tree.  He's so cute!  And everyone loved the Santas!


We haven't yet decided what we're making this year. Maybe ice skates.  I loved making those when I was a kid.




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