Saturday, December 27, 2008

Merry Christmas!

We've had a busy week, but it's been good. Here are a few of the many pictures we've taken over the last few days.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Lights

We drove around town last night and looked at Christmas lights. Landon loved it. Anytime we got to a stretch without any, he'd say, "I want more Christmas lights!" And whenever he saw lights, he'd announce that, too. We stayed out for about 45 minutes, and he would have gladly stayed out longer, but we'd driven on nearly every street in town.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Online Christmas Games

Landon and I played a few online Christmas games tonight. We decorated a Christmas tree, colored Christmas pictures, and decorated a snowman. Have fun!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Cookies

We had a very Christmasey night. We watched Mickey's Christmas Carol and Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too on t.v. Landon also got to help decorate Christmas cookies (and eat one, of course!). He also wore his Christmas jammies for the first time.



Darth Vader would like to wish you a Merry Christmas too.

(He was singing We Wish You a Merry Christmas while wearing the helmet, but we couldn't get the video camera out in time. Maybe next time.)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

We had some time to kill at the mall today while waiting for my new glasses to be ready, so we decided to let Landon ride the train, then if he wanted, go see Santa. We didn't expect that he'd actually go up to him, since he's not usually much for strangers. Not only did he go up to Santa, but he even sat on his lap, talked to him (told him he wanted cars for Christmas), and smiled nicely for a picture. We were so proud of how friendly he was!


Also, here's tonight's easy craft project: we made a shaker instrument. I stapled two paper plates together to make a pocket, then Landon poured in dried beans, and I stapled it the rest of the way shut. He decorated it with Christmas stickers, then... Shake, shake, shake!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Fort

If you're looking for something fun to do on a winter day when you're stuck inside, try making a fort. Daddy built Landon a fort tonight. Landon gathered up the blankets, then Daddy put them over the card table. They played Memory and read books in there. Landon even ate his snack inside the fort.

Putting the Star on the Tree


12/5/08

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Visit from Santa

Landon and I finally made it to storytime at the library today. (We been trying for months. It's held once a month, and either I forget, or we go on the wrong day, or we show up on a day it's been canceled.) After the books were read, Santa stopped by for a visit with the kids. Landon had no interest in sitting on his lap, but he did shake his hand and tell him, "Bye," and "Merry Christmas."

O Christmas Tree

Tonight we visited a Christmas tree farm and picked out our tree. We like to go to farms where we can cut down a fresh tree. It didn't take us long to find one, and it cut down quite easily (unlike last year, which was quite a chore). We put it up as soon as we got home, and Landon got to add a few decorations before bed.



Monday, December 1, 2008

Christmas Time is Here!

Now that Thanksgiving is over, we're into the full Christmas swing of things. This weekend we were at Grandma and Grandpa's house, and we went with them to cut down a Christmas tree, then we helped them decorate it, too. We drove around and checked out several Christmas light displays, also; Landon's loving all the lights.

We've started decorating our own house, and he's very excited that we have lights on the outside of our house. Soon (probably tomorrow) we'll go get our own tree.

Tonight we started our Advent calendars. We have two this year. We saved one from last year; it's a chain of animals, and we add one animal each day. I also bought a new open-the-flap kind this year. Both of our calendars focus on various names for Jesus.

I got out our pile of Christmas books, and we started reading some of them today. I have a list of Christmas books we've enjoyed here, and I plan to add more soon as we discover new ones this year.

A Good Thanksgiving

Landon had fun on Thanksgiving. We watched the parade in the morning, and he liked that a lot. It took him a while to warm up to the big crowd of family at dinner, but he eventually did and had a good time seeing everyone. He ate more than enough food--especially dessert! We hope you all had a wonderful holiday, too!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Craft co-op

A few months back, I got connected with an Oriental Trading craft co-op. Most Oriental Trading craft kits come in sets of 12. They're reasonably priced, but who needs 12 of the same craft? So each participant in our co-op paid for 1/12 of each 12-pack craft kit, then we each received one of each craft. Because of this, Landon and I have had a ton of fall and Thanksgiving crafts to work on. Of course, I haven't gotten photos of a single one yet, but we have done lots of sticker sheets, assembled a felt turkey, made a foam turkey coaster, decorated a leaf with rhinestones, made a squirrel magnet, and more. Pretty soon we'll start in on the Christmas crafts. If you're looking for seasonal craft kits at a reasonable price, perhaps you can round up 11 friends to participate in a craft co-op of your own.

Festival of Trees

We recently visited a local Festival of Trees. After checking out all the decorated tree displays, we headed to the kiddie area. There, Landon stamped his hand print on a backpack and decorated a BIG cookie (he ate it over the course of three days).

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Operation Christmas Child


We worked together to fill two shoebox gifts for Operation Christmas Child this week.

Here's the project description from the OCC website: "Operation Christmas Child brings joy and hope to children in desperate situations around the world through gift-filled shoe boxes and the Good News of God’s love. Since 1993, more than 61 million shoe boxes have been packed, shipped, and delivered across the globe. People of all ages can be involved in this simple, hands-on missions project while focusing on the true meaning of Christmas—Jesus Christ.
"

Landon got really involved. He helped pick out the items for our boxes at the store and understood that we were buying them to give to other kids. (Some of the items we included were crayons, coloring books, stuffed animals, soap, washcloths, socks, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and bubbles.) He helped pack the items into the shoeboxes and "signed his name" on a note that we included in each box.

I've been participating in OCC for a few years now and think it's a great project, especially for kids and families to participate in. If you're interested, now is the time to pack a shoebox. Next week (November 17-24) is National Collection Week. Visit the OCC website for packing instructions and to find a drop-off location near you.

Leaves



We had a warm week and plenty of leaves on the ground, so Landon got a few chances to play in the leaves. It's too bad that the cold weather has now arrived; he enjoyed the outdoor time.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Here are pictures from our Halloween evening, including the pizza-shaped pumpkins we had for dinner. Our little blue bunny had a lot of fun and brought home more candy than we know what to do with. Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Jack-O'-Lanterns

We carved pumpkins on Tuesday night. I didn't know how Landon would react to the insides, but he liked them ("Ooey-gooies," he calls them). Landon picked the face shapes, and we drew and carved them. Well, mostly. He wanted sad faces, but we overruled him. I roasted the pumpkin seeds afterward, but Landon refused to try those. Have a safe and happy Halloween, everyone!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pumpkin Patch

We discovered a fun pumpkin patch yesterday. There was enough to do that we weren't bored, but not so much that we were overwhelmed. It was really cold, but we still had fun. Landon's favorite parts were the bin full of corn to play in and the cat that wandered around the property.




Trunk or Treat

We went to my parents' church's Trunk or Treat on Sunday. Landon got to wear his blue bunny costume for the first time; he was very excited about that. The event ended up being indoors because of the weather, but it worked just fine. It took Landon a bit to get the hang of "trick or treating," but he picked it up well toward the end, so hopefully he'll do well with the actual Trick or Treating on Friday.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Halloween Projects

Here are two projects Landon I did a few days ago.

We worked together to make this construction paper spider.


This one is an activity. He can remove the face pieces and put them back on the pumpkin.


Instructions for both these projects are on the Halloween page of ToddlerCelebrations.com.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Jack-O'-Lantern Creator

Landon and I played with Family Education's Jack-O'-Lantern Creator tonight. Kids pick out a pumpkin by clicking on it, then add eyes, nose, and mouth. This kept Landon entertained for several rounds. He was in charge of selecting features, and I was in charge of operating the mouse. There's an option to print your creations, but we didn't try that.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Getting Ready for Halloween

The other day, Landon had pumpkin-shaped toast for a snack. I bought this pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter on clearance after Halloween last year, so I used it to cut the toast, then sprinkled it with cinnamon. Easy, tasty, and festive!

A few days ago, we put out our Halloween decorations, and I found a coloring book that I bought on sale last year, called My Pumpkin's Gospel Story. It's both a storybook and a coloring book, which is handy, because Landon cares a lot more about reading it than coloring it. If it were just a coloring book, we wouldn't be getting much use out of it.

Landon had a buddy over today, so I made them some orange playdough. We shaped pumpkins out of it. (My recipe is from The Toddler's Busy Book. Combine 1 cup water, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 1/2 cup salt, 1 tablespoon cream of tartar, and food coloring in a saucepan. Heat until warm. Remove from heat and mix/knead in 1 cup flour. Stores in an airtight container for six months or more; I have some from February that's still going strong. I prefer to make it in half batches, because I feel that a full batch makes a lot.)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Fire Station Open House




We had a pretty good time at the fire station event on Saturday. I expected Landon to enjoy looking at the fire trucks more than he did, but there were so many other things to see that he didn't focus on the trucks for very long. He got to sit in one, but it was too high up for him to feel comfortable, and he wanted right down.

He really, really loved Sparky the fire dog, though. Sparky drives around in his own little fire truck and talks to the kids. (He's operated by a nearby person with a joystick controller and a microphone, so he can see the kids who are talking to Sparky and make personalized comments to them.) Landon followed Sparky all over the place and was heartbroken when Sparky had to go inside, probably to recharge his batteries.

Landon and I looked at the fire trucks on Sparky's website tonight, and he's been coloring one of his Sparky coloring sheets.

Halloween Cookies



Tony and I made these cookies last week with Halloween-colored peanut butter M&Ms. The recipe can be found here on the blog Prudence Pennywise. I stumbled upon the recipe while looking for an M&M cookie recipe that only required one egg. I was a little wary of the fact that they use whole wheat flour, but we tried them anyway, and they're really good. And since they're whole grain, you can feel a little less guilty about giving your toddler cookies--but you might find you're not too willing to share! Enjoy the cookies!

(Please note that it's up to you to decide whether your toddler is old enough to eat M&Ms, as they do present a choking hazard.)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Fire Prevention Week

Next week is Fire Prevention Week (October 5-11). A nearby fire station is sponsoring a Fire Days open house this Saturday, so we'll be checking that out. They're going to have the fire trucks out for the kids to see, as well as additional activities. Other fire stations might be doing similar events, so you could see if there's something in your area.

Here is the link to Sparky the Fire Dog's Fire Prevention Week website for kids and families. Landon and I will definitely be checking out the Fire Truck Gallery and the Fire Truck Exploration activities in the Fun with Fire Trucks area. He'll love that. Coloring sheets are can be found by following the Family Stuff link.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pumpkin Stamping

Today we tried stamping with the little gourd-type pumpkin we got at the orchard a few weeks ago. Landon dipped the bottom of the pumpkin into orange tempera paint, then stamped it on paper. It worked really well, plus the paint rinsed right off the pumpkin, so he can still play with it (he's quite attached to it). An older child could also try putting the side of the pumpkin in the paint, too, then rolling it along the paper.


Monday, September 29, 2008

Leaf Rubbing


Tonight on a walk, we picked up a fall leaf that had fallen to the ground. We took it home and made a leaf rubbing with it. (Place the leaf under a paper. Rub a peeled crayon--preferably in fall colors--over the paper so the leaf image appears. I found that it worked best to have both my hand and Landon's on the crayon when doing the rubbing.)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pumpkin Apple Butter

Here's another toddler-friendly fall recipe that we tried today: Pumpkin Apple Butter, courtesy of Juicy Juice. Landon ate some on toast for an afternoon snack, and I'm sure he'll have more tomorrow. (Also, if you don't have pumpkin pie spice on hand, you can make 1 tsp. of it by mixing 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ground ginger, 1/8 tsp. ground allspice or ground cloves, and 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Applesauce

Landon and I worked together to make applesauce in the crockpot yesterday with this recipe. His job was to put the ingredients into the pot. It cooked quickly and was pretty yummy. It was too tart, though. I'd definitely make it again, but I'd either use more apples or less lemon juice. Landon loved it, despite the tartness. I think he would have eaten the entire batch by himself if I'd let him.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Happy Fall!

In celebration of the first day of autumn, I updated my list of recommended fall reading on Toddler Celebrations. We checked several of these books out of the library this weekend and have been enjoying them together. I requested several more fall books from the library tonight, so I hope to be updating the list again soon.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Fall Has Arrived at Our House

According to the calendar, the first day of fall isn't until Monday, but at our house, it's already arrived, because we took our annual fall trip to the apple orchard today. Of course, we picked apples, and we checked out the pumpkins, too. Landon got to pick out a little pumpkin, and I also bought him a tiny one. I have art projects in mind to do with both of those pumpkins. Landon also enjoyed exploring the orchard's various play areas and visiting the goats. Our favorite thing about the orchard is their delicious apple donuts. We look forward to those all year long.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Quick Heads Up on the Finger Paint

I got out the leftover finger paint to use today. I noticed it looked a little bubbly and lumpy. And then I noticed the fermented odor. So I pitched it. If you make the Easy Finger Paint recipe I linked to yesterday, I don't recommend saving the leftover paint. If you really feel the need to save it, perhaps try the refrigerator instead of leaving it out on a shelf like I did.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fall Leaves

Landon and I worked on a 2-day fall leaves project together.

1) Last night I mixed finger paint in red, yellow, and orange with the easy finger paint recipe from Creative Kids at Home. It's an okay recipe, but it's sort of like painting with pancake batter, and it's definitely watery. It dried fine, but next time I'll probably try one of the cooked recipe. Last night, though, it was close to bedtime, so I was in a hurry. I cut the recipe back to 3/4 c. each of water and flour, and I still had way more paint than we needed. I'm saving the leftovers in old baby food containers.

2) Landon used the paints to do finger painting on Melissa and Doug finger paint paper. We let the picture dry overnight.



3) Today I found leaf coloring pages online. I printed the Leaf Collage 2 picture, then cut out each leaf. I traced the leaves onto the back of Landon's painting and cut them out. (I'm saving the printed ones that I used as stencils for some future project. Maybe we'll color them or sprinkle glitter on them.)

4) Together we glued one leaf onto cardstock to make a card.


5) I taped ribbon to the other four to make a leaf chain that we hung up in the dining room. I happened to have cute leaf ribbon, but any ribbon, yarn, etc., would do the trick.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Quick Coloring Page Link

Landon's a big fan of Boz the Bear. The Boz website now has Fall coloring pages and activity sheets up. I printed one off for Landon today. (Of course, he's already moved on from the coloring sheet. He noticed that his box of art supplies was open, and it's become an art free-for-all. But that's okay.)

Football Season Has Arrived

We took Landon to his first Illini football game of the season on Saturday. Last year he loved the games. This year, he wasn't so sure.

This picture was taken before the game. He's finding watching the scoreboard much more interesting than getting his picture taken.


After that though, once the game (especially the touchdown fireworks) started, he spent the time with his face buried against us. It was all just a little much for him. We took him out for a little while, and that helped. When we went back in, though, he went right back to curling up against us. He wasn't poorly behaved or crying--just clingy.

Nonetheless, he says he wants to go back this week. After the game, I asked him if he wanted to go to the next one or stay home, and he said, "I want to stay home." But now he's changed his mind. For days, he's happily been saying, "The fireworks touch the sky," and, "The fireworks say, 'Boom!'" Also, he enjoyed seeing the band before they entered the stadium, and he's really hoping to see the tubas again this week. We'll see what happens.

Yum... Popsicle!


Popsicles (especially ones made from real fruit) are of course a great summer treat for kids, and an outdoor picnic table is the perfect place to eat them!

8/30

(And with that, I think I'm done with the pictures from our mini-vacation!)

Splash Park

The zoo had a splash park on their property, too, so we stopped there after visiting the animals. Whoever invented the splash park concept is a genius--free, fun toddler entertainment


8/30

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Picture from the Park


I just found another picture from our recent trip, and it made me smile, so I wanted to post it.

Zoo

On our last day of our trip to Grandma and Grandpa's, we went to the zoo. I didn't take a lot of pictures, because we've been to a lot of zoos this year, and after a while, the animal pictures all start to look pretty similar. But for Landon, seeing the animals is still fun time after time. And of course, he enjoyed the carousel.



8/30

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Grandpa's Prairie (More Pictures from Our Trip)

While we were on our trip to Grandma and Grandpa's a few weeks ago, we took a day to visit the prairie restoration project where Grandpa (and Grandma) volunteer. Landon got to pretend to drive tractors, explore the barn, visit with his great uncle and great grandpa, ride in the Gator and the truck, and ride on Daddy's back around the prairie.



8/29/08

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

More Vacation Photos--Swimming

My parents have access to one of the coolest pools ever, so we went swimming last week. The pool was recently remodeled and is 100 times fancier than it was when I was a kid. Now, in addition to the diving boards and regular swimming area, there are fountains, waterslides, a lazy river, and more.

Watermelon Craft

It's rainy here tonight, so we finally worked on this watermelon craft that I've had in my head all summer. Landon had fun with it, and it's a perfect project for a toddler's attention span. Directions are here.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Rainy Day at the Children's Museum

If you have a children's museum nearby, it makes a great rainy day activity for toddlers. We spent last week at my parents on a mini-vacation, and that's where we spent our rainy morning. The children's museums we've been to have areas specifically for toddlers, but Landon likes both those areas, plus most of the regular exhibits.



Photos 8/28

Summery Spot

We spent last week at my parents'. Grandma checked out some Spot books from the library for Landon. He read both of them over and over.

This one's definitely summery, since it's all about the beach. Spot Goes to the Beach
This one could apply to any season, but Spot plays outside and helps in the garden, so it seems pretty summery to me, too. Spot Visits His Grandparents

Both of these are lift-the-flap books, which contributed to Landon's enjoyment of them. He's been quoting the books all week.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day Parade

Happy Labor Day! We took Landon to a parade this morning. It was certainly big, but I preferred the little Fourth of July parade we went to a few months ago. At today's parade, the crowds drove me a little nuts. It was hard to see anything, even though we were right on the curb. Everyone else stood about five feet out into the street, so they were very nearly getting run over by the vehicles in the parade.

Nonetheless, Landon got to see two marching bands and lots and lots of rescue vehicles. Also, he was hoping for a sucker. The ONE piece of candy that landed near us was thankfully a sucker (everything else went to the hordes of people standing in the middle of the road).