Thursday, December 20, 2012

Light Cave

This afternoon while Baby Bear was napping, I was looking through friends' photos on Facebook, and I came across this little gem! C, from my mom's group, posted this picture of her daughter L about to crawl through a light tunnel she and her son made while L was napping. It's just a big box with an opening on each side (forming a tunnel), lots of holes poked through, and some lights poking through the holes from the outside in. It was too cute to pass up asking her to share. I think I know what I'm doing with Baby Bear this weekend! Thank you, C!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Gingerbread Cookies

One of my family's holiday traditions growing up was making and decorating gingerbread houses. My sisters and I would make them for our teachers, and then we would each have one of our own for at home. It was a LOT of work for my mom, but she came through and made them year after year after year until we began leaving home as adults. Call me chicken, but I wasn't quite ready to venture into gingerbread house making with my 2-year-old. I'm pretty sure he would start acting out The Three Little Pigs story and play the part of the Big Bad Wolf if we made one. I did, however, think it would be fun to make some gingerbread boys and girls with my son to go along with our copy of The Gingerbread Man. So, that's what we did! I used my mom's gingerbread recipe, and Baby Bear and I had a blast making (and eating!) them.

This is my mom's recipe along with a few of my own tips. (I used half of this and got about 3 dozen gingerbread boys and girls. This makes one small house as well as a few people.):
1C oleo softened
1C sugar
2 eggs
1C molasses
6C flour
1T ground ginger
3t baking soda
2t cinnamon

Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg and molasses. Mix in ginger, baking soda, and cinnamon. Gradually add flour. Chill for at least one hour (I highly recommend overnight). Roll on a floured surface, and dust both your rolling pin and your hands in flour. Lightly dust your baking pan with flour to prevent sticking. When making a house, use a pan that will not warp in the oven. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes (this is for the people, larger house pieces may take a little longer).

The gingerbread boys and girls Baby Bear and I made. He helped me make the dough the night before. The next morning, we rolled out the dough and had fun with the cookie cutters.

We used some leftover red frosting and mini chocolate chips to decorate the cookies because it was what we had on hand. It worked, and Baby Bear had fun.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Spend Time With Your Loved Ones

Close your browser. Turn off your monitor. For today, whatever day this may be for you, step away from your computer and go spend precious time with your children. Go make memories. Play their favorite games, make a snack together, color pictures, pretend, sing, make up games, push them on the swings. Ask them what they want to do, and then go do it. And then, when you're done, don't forget to hug them and tell them you love them.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Coffee Filter Angel

I wanted to do a craft with Baby Bear that had a little more to do with the real Christmas story than Santa, reindeer, and elves. I had an idea to use coffee filters to make angels, but I needed some inspiration to help get me started. After doing an image search online to see how other people have used coffee filters to make angels, I was ready.

Materials: coffee filters, scissors, yarn/ribbon, cotton balls, yellow (or gold) chenille stems. I grabbed a couple of markers too in case Baby Bear wanted to draw faces on the angels, but we ended up not using them. I made one to try it out while Baby Bear was sleeping and to show him what we were going to make.

I used two coffee filters per angel. Baby Bear placed a cotton ball in the middle of one filter and wrapped it up to look like a ghost. Then, I placed a second filter under the cotton ball to add a layer. This parts wasn't necessary, but I thought it looked nice. I secured these together by tying a ribbon around the angel's neck,, bow in front.
After forming the chenille stems into halos on sticks, I stuck the stick end through the string on the back of the angel. For some angels, I folded a third coffee filter into wings and used the chenille stem to secure them in back by wrapping it around the middle of the wings. For other angels, I used wide ribbons instead but secured them the same way with the end of the chenille stem in back.

Finally, I tied a loop of ribbon around the top of the halo in the back so we could hand our angels from the tree. Honestly, Baby Bear couldn't help with these as much as with most crafts we do together. He helped wrap the cotton balls and he picked out all the ribbon colors, and he was content with that. His favorite part was hanging them on the Christmas tree.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Craft Clay Ornaments

Last year for Christmas, Baby Bear and I made a handprint ornament using store-bought air dry clay. Then for Easter, we tried making salt dough ornaments. This year, we tried another homemade clay recipe that I found on the site that uses baking soda, corn starch, and water. The store-bought clay was probably the sturdiest of the three we've tried, but I had all the ingredients for this recipe on hand already, and Baby Bear had a lot of fun for two nights in a row (one to make the dough and cut out the shapes, and the other to paint them when they were dry). I'd use this recipe again, mostly out of convenience.

Cutting out Christmas shapes. Tip: don't forget to poke a hole at the top of each ornament before the clay dries.

Baby Bear only had the patients to cut out seven ornaments, so we added a little water to the remaining dough and played with slime.

This is what the ornaments looked like once they were dry. The star broke, so we ended up with six.

Painting the ornaments the next night

Our painted ornaments

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Paper Plate Elf

This year, our family joined the Elf on the Shelf tradition. Baby Bear named our elf Harry (Papa Bear and I were throwing out random names and that's the one he really liked). I wish I could say that behavior has improved since Harry joined our home, but up until today he's had no effect. Baby Bear doesn't get the whole spy-on-you-and-report-back-to-Santa thing. In Baby Bear's mind, Santa brings presents to other good girls and boys, but his presents come from the store, so all he needs is for Mama Bear to take him to the store. Everything he wants is there anyway, right? I'm telling you, he's the king of loopholes... he gets that from Papa Bear. ;) Anyway, yesterday Harry made a quick trip to visit Santa at the North Pole while Baby Bear was napping. He told Santa that Baby Bear was being a very good boy that day, so Santa sent him back with a new Veggie Tales movie to give Baby Bear as an early Christmas present. That's why Baby Bear's behavior suddenly improved today. He speaks the language of bribery.

To go along with our new elf tradition, Baby Bear and I made a paper plate elf. I know it is more common to make paper plate Santas, but we wanted to do something a little different. I drew on a face and cut out pieces for the hat (Baby Bear got to pick the color), ears, and shirt collar. Then, Baby Bear helped me color the plate and ears. I gave him the hat to decorate, which he chose to do in green glitter glue spots. Next, I glued the hat to the plate so Baby Bear could add some cotton balls for the brim and the puff ball at the end. Finally, I glued on the ears and collar. Baby Bear had a lot of fun gluing on the cotton balls, so we may end up making a Santa too. Or, perhaps we'll come up with another less-crafted character.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Pine Cone Ornaments

As I've said before, when you have a toddler, do not underestimate the classic crafts you used to do when you were a kid because they are still new and exciting for your little one. For me, introducing Baby Bear to some of my childhood crafts included making pine cone Christmas tree ornaments. I do not remember if I made these at school or with my mom, but I do remember hanging them on the tree when I was very young.

Pine cone ornaments are simple, but they can be very messy. We made ours in the bathroom so we would have a smooth, hard, easy-to-clean surface to work on as well as a bathtub nearby for washing up Baby Bear when we were done. To set up, I laid out three paper plates. I poured glue on the first plate, and I poured glitter of different colors on the other two plates. We also used pine cones Baby Bear collected from the yard during one of our outdoor play times (yes, we've entered the collecting stage). To start, I showed Baby Bear how to roll a pine cone in the glue and then roll it again in the glitter. As he worked on his pine cones, I showed him how to make sure there was glue all over the pine cone so that he could get more glitter. This went well for a while, and then Baby Bear decided that pouring and mixing the glitter would be fun. The multicolored glitter looked pretty on the pine cones, but it made quite a mess. We had to stop when all he wanted to do was mix the glitter... and then the glue!... together. Still, the handful of pine cones we completed were fun, and they are now hanging from our Christmas tree.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Well, Blogger/Google is giving me problems with my pictures again. It looks like I'll have to reload many of them over the next few days, so if a post is missing pictures, please be patient with me. I'm fixing them as I see them. Thanks!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Glitter Sensory Bottle

'Tis the season for goodies and sweets! If you're one of the people making those goodies around the holidays, there's a good chance you have a bottle of Karo syrup in your cupboard. You can use that syrup to make an awesome sensory bottle for your little one!

For our sensory bottle, I cleaned out an empty Gatorade bottle and added 1/2 water, 1/2 Karo syrup, and a couple tablespoons of glitter. I also hot glued the lid to reduce choking hazard. Voila! A new sensory bottle! Now, you may be thinking, "Couldn't I just do this with oil and water instead of syrup and water?" Yes, you could, and we have, but it doesn't work as well. With an oil and water bottle (aka lava lamp sensory bottle), you either have to add a few drops of glycerine to slow the movement down or keep turning it over and over again to keep the glitter moving. Baby Bear didn't have much interest in our lava lamp sensory bottle. With the syrup and water bottle, the glitter keeps moving for several minutes on its own, and Baby Bear loves it. When I told a friend of mine about this bottle, she asked about adding holiday shapes confetti. I think that would work, too, though I haven't tried it myself. It's possible the confetti would require a little more Karo syrup rather than equal parts syrup and water because confetti is heavier than glitter. Either way, this sensory bottle is mesmerizing! And, it's got all the glitz of the holidays!