Sunday, December 30, 2012

Stocking Stuffers 2012

I know!  Christmas is over, let's move on already.  But I can't quite yet.  I have some housekeeping to do.  First, what I filled the girls' stockings with, plus Ed's, and whatever else I feel like writing to help myself out for next year. 

For the girls:

A few months ago I took them to the American Girl Doll store at Tyson's Corner.  They'd just started new earning charts for AGDs, and since we conveniently have a store close, I took them to oogle at all the dolls, accessories, beauty salon, etc., and also the price tags for those things.  While we were there, though, I noticed the DVD's were on sale for $5, by far the cheapest thing in the store, so without knowing much about them, I picked up these three.
 What a hit!  They have watched all three, some more than once already, since Christmas.  They seem to be really well-done movies with good messages, or at least not bad ones.  Each has a different historical setting, and my older two girls have really incorporated these into their imaginative play, and asked me many questions about things like hobo camps during the Great Depression and orphanages in the early 1900's.  Good stuff.  Great deal.

Stripey leggings for Hazel and Ginger, cutie shirt for Poppy

Lots of food stuff: Pop Rocks, Animal Crackers, M&M guy, and a hot chocolate snowman went in each stocking.  The older two also got those candy cane Pop Drops with Tootsie Roll centers.  The Nutkao snacks didn't fit, so I will save those for Easter baskets, just 3 months away!

Everyone got a new Pony, and a cutie finger puppet, which I stuck on the end of...

Smencils!  Watermelon for Ginger, Orange for Poppy, Root Beer for Hazel.  And these slap bracelets I picked up on our beach trip.

A plethora of hair things, to replace all the lost/broken clips and headbands from the past year.

Socks for Poppy, since I'm still squeezing her into 6-12 month size ones.  Everyone deserves to have socks that fit.  

Keychains and floss

That about does it for the girls.  In Ed's stocking I gave:
  • a bag of his favorite granola
  • movie passes
  • a new SmarTrip card (enough with scrounging for change in the morning)
  • prepaid carwash card
  • toothpaste
  • a bottle of his favorite hair stuff
  • dental floss
  • cinnamon Smencil
  • M&M's
  • a photo mousepad of the girls
  • a balloon animal kit 
  • toothpaste tube squeezer 
I guess that's all I feel like writing about for now.  I need to write at least one more Christmas follow-up post, but that's good for tonight.

Monday, December 17, 2012

What's for Christmas 2012

I have finally, FINALLY, finished Christmas shopping.  I don't know why it's so grueling, but somehow it is.  I just hate to spend money on anything that might not get good use, so I agonize, maybe too much over some things, wondering if this or that will be just right.  But what's done is done and I truly hope I am not only done shopping, but also done returning.  That has also been part of this journey.

So.  Each kid gets roughly something to wear, something to read, something to play with.  And this year something to eat, too, for fun.  Hazel needs clothes more than the other girls, so she is getting more clothes.  For a "big" gift, we were going to get everyone proper bikes.  But then our neighbor gave us two really nice gently used bikes, in Hazel's and Ginger's sizes.  So only Poppy is getting a bike.  The other two can just live with the other stuff they're getting.
Poppy (2 1/2)
To wear:
To read:

To play with: 
The guitar is really the "play with" gift.  She calls it a "bitar" and wants one so badly like Hazel's.  This one is a toy from World Market and it's very small, just Poppy's size.  I tuned up the strings a bit so it does actually play, but I don't know if it really holds a tune.  I don't think it matters to her.
The stroller I picked up at a consignment sale for $2, so she's getting that, too.  She ALWAYS has at least one, but more like 4-5 baby dolls or stuffed animals in her arms at all times, and takes a rotating set of them everywhere she goes.  I thought she might like a new way to get them around.

Ginger (5yrs 11mos)
To wear:
It's cruel that with her slender frame she's the most fun to dress, but as the middle child, has the fewest new clothes needs.  I love the excuse at Christmas to get her something new.

To read:

I got both the puzzle book and a set of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books at the afore-mentioned consignment sale.  You can never have too many books.  Especially when they're 25 cents each.

To play with:
To eat:

Hazel (7 3/4)
To wear:
This kid needs everything.  She doesn't even have a week's worth of pants because she has outgrown at least three pairs I got her for fall.  And she's hard on clothes.  What does fit, she's going through fast with stains and holes.  So I'm just trying to keep up.

To read:
Another great way I get free or cheap books for Christmas, and other occasions, is on Paperback Swap.  Love that site.

To play with:
I know, I'm late to the game with Legos, but they've never been interested.  Then at a recent playdate, Hazel liked them.  So we'll give them a try.

To eat:

Naturally, I can't divulge what Ed is getting because sometimes he checks in here.  I will say, at first I struggled, like most years.  But then I've had a few good ideas, and I'm running with them. 

Last Saturday my Mom and I took the girls shopping for gifts they could get each other and us parents.  In past years we've done this at CVS and Hollin Hall Variety Store, both good options.  The best place is small but not too small - you don't want too many choices or too much walking.  Also there needs to be a nice variety of small price items.  This year we went to Big Lots.  The big girls each had $35, some of which was their own money; Poppy had $20.  We walked around first, to get the lay of the land, and to give the girls some general ideas and suggestions.  Then we split up - Hazel went with me, and Mom took the little girls, then took Hazel again to get my present.  Hazel did pretty good with her math, and staying in budget, though she did have to make some tough choices and swap on over-price gift for Poppy out for a better gift for Ginger.  I felt her pain; these are the difficult choices a Christmas shopper has to make!

After shopping, we went out for subs for lunch.  When we got home, I helped each girl wrap.  Despite best efforts to hide in bags, I saw everything the girls got me (an earring holder, bath poof, chip clips) - very cute.  But I have pretended not to know, and Ed will help them wrap them.

How's your Christmas shopping going?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

PeeWees: Frosty the Snowman

[So last week it was Julia's turn to teach, but one of her kids became sick, so Shaunel stepped in seriously last minute, and gave the PeeWees a Frosty-the-Snowman experience they'll not soon forget.  Poppy is now crazy about Frosty!  Here is the summary, in Shaunel's words.]

Last night as I looked through my Christmas books to decide which one to do, I felt a little guilty to be picking Frosty the Snowman instead of the quality Grinch, 12 days, or Night Before X-mas books we could have gone with. But, after planning out the activities I couldn't believe everything that Frosty had to offer! The concept of something inanimate coming to life; how to create snowmen; snow melting into water; etc. Such hidden learning fun.
Arrival: We played make-believe with the plastic animals, stuffed animals, and little people nativity-->bringing these inanimate objects to life. When Henry and Poppy arrived we went and cut our biscuits dough into circles for our snowman snack. The leftover biscuits became the letter for each kid's name so we could distinguish who's was who's.

Circle:  They LOVE the standup song. How fun to watch how good they've become at it. We counted 12 snowmen. I think in January we should move up to 20. These kids have 1-12 totally down (but Jackson at least has issues with the teens). We sang the alphabet and stopped on S for snowman--Bodie was able to pick out S when i asked what sssssssnowman started with. Go Bodie!

Poppy had brought her little dog "Harry" with her. Coincidentally, I was also going to be using a "Harry" dog puppet to reinforce inanimate coming to life. The kids loved Harry. He read the book to them, which was a nice thing, but probably unnecessary since they were so riveted by the book, Harry didn't need to help.

I kept Bodie and Jackson separate again to try and reduce distractions, but boy! Those two were totally class clowns and just encouraged each other on. I think I'm just going to have to get over it and enjoy their silliness.

Snack: I tried to encourage the kids to decorate their snowmen with the raisins, pretzels and carrots, but it took a lot of coaxing to get them to stop eating--Poppy was the only one who attempted it. Henry was very diligent at finishing all his pretzels and raisins--eating clear into the next activity. So adorable. Poppy was also very adamant that she wanted to take her uneaten carrots home.  Hilarious.

We was able to acquire some "snow" from the frost that develops around the edges of our ancient freezer. It was AWESOME! We touched the "snow" and then watched it "melt away" into water. I was amazed at how much the kids knew about this process already.

 Dance Break:  Frosty the Snowman dance party. Culminating in Bodie jammin' on the piano as the others ran around.

 Art:  Each child chose their paper, and three different snowballs. I loved how each child positioned them so differently. They then got to decorate it with crayons--which I stopped after 10 min, b/c we needed to move on. They loved just drawing together.

We then went to collect rocks and sticks from outside. Brought them in and glued them onto our snowmen. Good ol' Jackson picked out one rock and then went to run around. Bodie and Henry got a few on before they left for better times. Poppy diligently stuck many on. Love their personalities.

Dance Break: Frosty again

Activity:  Sidewalk chalk group snowman on driveway. Interesting for 5 min--and then it was time to run around.

Play-dough snowmen in the basement--turned into making pancakes and bunnies of course.

Closing:  Reread frosty, and mom's joined us for some King Kong fun.

All in all a great day!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Few of My Favorite (Holiday) Things

 Just a few favorite things I've been collecting to share with you - if I'm not careful, Christmas will come and go with these still waiting in a folder!  So here you go:

Ed says this tastes "too weird."  It is a little strange, but I'm still a fan.
PEELED GARLIC.  I know it's not new.  But it's changed my life, especially when there's 12+ cloves of garlic to mince for my dinner swap meal!

Designer Orla Kiely teamed up with Method to make these stylish (and overpriced) hand soaps.  I was a sucker for the graphics, but I love the vanilla-chai scented soap in the guest bath, too.

And speaking of personal care...I ran out of my favorite Bath & Body Works lotion, and I refuse to get more until the semi-annual sale in January.  In the meantime, this is always my favorite go-to drugstore moisturizer when my skin gets really dry in the winter.  Quality stuff for CVS price!
And speaking of bang for your buck, I love Gilligan & O'Malley stuff at Target!  I have no fewer than THREE pajama pants by this brand, and they are SO silky/stretchy/soft!  Then last week I passed this polka-dotty-oh-so-heavenly-softie robe by the same brand.  Had to have it!  I've been getting a lot more snuggle time from everyone in the family since I started wearing this.

I've had my eye on this hand-painted 12 Days of Christmas ornament set for at least 2 years, but could never justify the $50 at a time of year when there's always another gift to buy.  Until this year, when it went on sale for over 50% off - BEFORE Christmas!  These make my already-colorful tree look real good.

And finally, I'm in love with Land of Nod's shadow puppet sets this year.  Charming and fun!  I admit, I'm not getting them for my kids because I think they will not take good care of them.  What do you think is a good age for these?  I love all three sets - Circus, Dinosaur, and Castle.  And don't forget the theater!

What cool stuff have you discovered this year?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

PeeWee Field Trip: National Zoo

 A trip to the zoo didn't exactly correspond to any book we've done recently, but everyone loves the zoo.  And the weather has been really mild, but it's neither field trip nor tourist season, so it's a great time of year for a group like us to visit.
When it's not so hot, the cats are really active - ROAR!

The PeeWees are really active, too!

Checking out a cool gorilla skull.

Strolling down the elephant walk.

We happened to be there for an elephant feeding and training exercise.

Lisa brought animal cookies for each of the kids - Poppy was so interested in what each shape was, and didn't want the broken ones.

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