It's The Holiday Season...

We've tried to squeeze in as many holiday-type things as we could without packing our schedule too much. I haven't been great about updating the blog or posting on my Instagram, so this is just a huge dump of all our holiday activities up til this point.
We started decorating a little early (mid-November) so we could spread the holiday out a bit and not be too exhausted. It took us a couple days to decorate the tree and we have enjoyed having it up in our house. In October, I got this 9 foot prelit tree for free from someone in our community through freebox (it's like freecycle or offerup, but specifically for our community). I hit the jackpot with this score and it was fun to see how excited the girls were for such a giant tree.

This was our first year doing Elf on the Shelf. We've had him for a couple years, but really just put him on the tree and didn't really play along. This year I've moved him around most days and even Ben has gotten in on the action. The girls usually forget about him until after school and then look for him... or they'll find him going about our morning routine and it is so cute to see their little faces when they find him. Cora named him Rudolph, but we usually just call him the elf on the shelf. The girls were lucky and got a couple presents from him, but other than that he only moves around... nothing mischievous.

We've been doing a lot of crafts. You can see a roundup of my favorite Christmas DIYs in this post. We made some more handprint Santas , made our own wrapping paper and worked on painting some plain plastic ornaments. I've been keeping all of our drawing stuff out in the kitchen and the girls will draw all day long. 

I've also been doing a lot more cooking and baking. I've been making soup, cookies, and lots of banana bread. My little sidekick loves to watch and help taste test by licking the beaters. Who can turn down that sweet face?!  (sidenote: these are made with no egg, so okay to eat)
My aunt has been doing a lot of embroidering (she gifted us this cute Santa hand towel) and she taught me and Cora how to embroider. I've been working on a little present for Ben and Cora has been working on this kids cat embroidery kit. It's fun to hang out with each other and work on our own projects and chat.

We had a family outing to the Cincinnati Zoo lights. We picked a random day where we didn't have much going out and headed down for a little trip. We just did a quick loop to check out all of the lights and we hope to make it back in the next week or so when we have more time to ride the train and look at everything. 

My favorite thing about the holiday season is all of the family together time... and our family has a lot of together time. My aunt and uncle took me and the girls to see The Grinch and Santa was there. Ida was not an fan.  We also did some gingerbread making at my parent's house and the girls loved it. Our gingerbread house didn't last long, but we had a whole lot of fun making it.

We're excited about all of our Christmas Eve/Christmas family activities coming up, but we've also loved spreading out all of the holiday related things so we can really enjoy each and every activity.


Christmas DIY Roundup

Leading up to the holidays, I love to spend any extra time crafting. Making ornaments is generally pretty easy and quick and there is so much inspiration out there. I've shared a bunch of Christmas DIY's in the past and wanted to do a quick round up of them in one space.
PAINTED ORNAMENTS - I shared these last week and it was the easiest DIY for all ages. They look so perfect on the tree and I can't wait to make more in the next couple weeks leading up to Christmas.

HANDPRINT SANTA - I kind of forgot about this one until we pulled out the ornaments, but it is definitely my favorite. We're going to try to make some more this year and we're excited about the endless possibilities of hat and skin colors that we can pick.
DIY GIFT WRAPPING - This is super easy and saves money! Last year, we used leftover paint from our Handprint Santas and Cora helped paint lines all over the paper. I have also used crayons/markers in different lines, triangles, diamonds, and plus signs. It is fun to make and I love adding a little DIY touch to presents.

PAINTED PICTURE MAT - This is an easy and fun DIY for younger kids and is a great gift idea for any holiday. Pro tip: dots all over the mat helps the kids cover the entire thing and keeps it from paint from getting too muddy.

YARN WRAPPED MONOGRAM - I get a lot of inspiration from Target's holiday section and this is one that I finally got around to making. I plan on making more of these this year so Ida and I can have our initials on the tree too.
PAINTED NUTCRACKER - This is by far my FAVORITE Christmas DIY! My dad collects nutcrackers and this was the perfect present for him... I'm basically always going to feel like I can never top this gift. It was fun to make and we love seeing it displayed every December.

DIY ULTRASOUND ORNAMENT - This one is pretty popular on my Pinterest. Five years ago, it was the only DIY Ultrasound Ornament pins and now they are a bajillion... so I'm basically an ornament trendsetter. This is still a favorite DIY and the only thing I would change is I would make more so that we could have one at our own house.


Creating With Kids : Painting Ornaments

During Thanksgiving break, Cora requested that we finally paint our christmas ornaments. I bought a bunch of plastic ornaments from Michaels right after Halloween and she has been asking to paint them every single day for the last couple of weeks. We laid out some cardboard, turned on the Christmas music and got to work.

For a while, Cora was trying to be pretty neat and use a paint brush... then she started finger painting. It was interesting to watch her process. Some times she would paint her hand then put them on the ornaments and other times she would put little dots all over the ornament before mixing it all up.

While Cora was painting a million ornaments, I had Ida paint these wooden IDA letters that I purchased before she was even born. I also have ones for Cora that she painted when she was around 2.5 years old and I can't wait to get these both hung up. Ida is always pretty timid at first before she goes wild with the paint.

Once Ida was finished painting her letters, she took a page from Cora's book and tried a little bit of ornament finger painting herself. She only wanted to paint for a couple minutes before she was over it.

Once the ornaments dried, we drew some designs on top of the paint with paint pen. Cora's designs were really versatile with faces, cats, and even an ornament full of letters/numbers she knows. She was really cute drawing and saying things like "so-and-so will really like this one" and "I can't wait to give this to so-and-so"etc. Once the drawing was done, I did a light clear coat and hung them up to dry.
Since most of these are for Christmas gifts, I'm not going to share a complete after yet (all the drawings are facing the other way), but I definitely call this a successful DIY. It was easy for both girlies and was perfect to split up into more than one DIY session. 


Walks With Ida : Fall Leaves

For the last couple months, I've been trying to get out on early morning weekend walks with Clove and any child that is awake that early... which is usually neither of the children, but sometimes Ida likes to surprise me. There is a bike trail less than a block from our house, so that is where I've been heading for our morning walks. The fall leaves were amazing for a couple weeks in a row and it was fun to hear Ida oooh and aaah over the beautiful morning views. That morning golden hour is my favorite quiet way to enjoy nature.. and it's even better with little babes tagging along.


Thanksgiving Break

I unintentionally took a little blogging break for the last couple of weeks. I have experienced a lot of loss in the last year and a half (more on that another time) and the last couple of weeks have been surprisingly overwhelming with approaching anniversaries, some firsts, and the colder weather/shorter days... so I have some posts to catch up on, but first Thanksgiving!
For Thanksgiving, we always do a large family gathering. We ate an early dinner and hung out for most of the afternoon/evening then had another meal of turkey sandwiches and leftovers. Cora ran around with her cousins all day so I barely even saw her. Ida was a little bit clingier, but managed to get in a good nap/cuddle and has been warming up a lot to family. We loved getting to spend the day relaxing with family.

I made skyline dip and my cucumber bacon bites, which I had to check my blog for my recipe because I couldn't remember how to make them. I let Cora taste test the bites earlier in the morning and was begging for them all day long. Luckily, I had some extra dip and cucumbers so we could have it the following day.
Friday and the following weekend was spent mostly around the house. Since we bought our house, I've found that I really love being a homebody... especially in the winter. My aunt gave me the turkey carcass and I spent most of Friday making turkey broth and turkey noodle bean soup. This was my first attempt and now I can't believe I've been throwing away all the vegetable clippings and leftover bones. 

During most of my soup making, I had Ida napping on in the ergobaby. Cora was a little jealous so she kept asking if I could carry her around on my back when Ida was finished. While the limit of our ergobaby is around 45lbs (she is about 50lbs), I was still able to comfortably carry Cora around for a bit. It was so funny because she is soo tall and her legs were all over the place, but I was definitely feeling nostalgic about carrying her around when she was a little babe.
Over the weekend, our Elf on the Shelf made an appearance. The last couple of years we've just hung him on our tree and haven't really been into it, but I decided I would see how the girls liked it and so far they have been wowed by the magical elf. One of the days, our elf was sitting on the beaded garland and fell over into a lying position while Cora was in the room. She was in awe and couldn't believe that he laid down while she was in the room. So far, our elf has just moved around each night (except I forgot last night) and will hopefully be bringing some cool treats or craftivities for us over the weekends.
On Saturday, the girls and I took a trip to Hobby Lobby with my aunt and she got me started with some embroidery. We spent a lot of time walking around the store looking at basically every single thing including all of the Christmas stuff.
We also did some gingerbread cookie decorating later in the break, but most of the weekend was spent being lazy around the house. Ida is really into having hot chocolate lately, so we had lots of that through the weekend. I love our sweet little hot chocolate dates where she'll drink and chat the whole time.

We had a great lazy Thanksgiving break. I'm thankful for so many things in my life, but family is for sure the top of my list. I loved getting to spend all the extra time over break with them and it is getting me really excited for December and Christmas break.>
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