Sunday, December 21, 2014

To be continued?

I'm way behind on these advent posts.  And I feel like they are possibly the most boring blog posts ever to be written.  I may not finish sharing them all.

Perhaps I need to make a resolution to be a better blogger in 2015??

Friday, December 19, 2014

December 13: Drive around and look at Christmas lights

Again, no pictures.

The plan was to drive to Peoria to see their Holiday Lights display.  But then we heard that on the weekends people were sometimes waiting in line for HOURS just get into the park and see the disply.  Considering that it would take three hours of driving time just to get there and back, we didn't figure it was worth that much time in the car.

Instead, we found a local park that had a newly set up display of lights.  We drove through, the girls oohed and awed at the lights, Santa met us at the end with candy canes, and then we went home.

December 12: Christmas Party

Tonight we had our small group Christmas party.  And a group of people from our church were hosting a babysitting night to raise money for an upcoming mission trip.  It worked out perfectly for us...all of our small group could send their kids to the babysitting night allowing us to have a kids free party!

So the girls went to their "party" with the babysitters, while Daniel and I joined our friends for a fun night celebrating Christmas.

It was a good time, but I failed at taking any pictures at all.

December 11: Sing Christmas Carols

The idea for this night was for me to play the piano, and everyone else could sing a long.  Sounds like a nice Christmas-y thing to do with our musical family, right?

Yeah, it really wasn't a hit.  Isla danced around a little, but Audrey didn't really want to sing.

Then I thought Audrey could play the piano while we sang, since she has learned how to play a few Christmas songs this year.  But then Audrey messed up on one of her songs, and our little perfectionist got upset.  And that was the end of the Shelton family Christmas carol night.

Maybe we will try again next year.  Or maybe not!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

December 10: Snowball Fight!

We didn't have real snow, but we made our own with rolled up socks and wads of paper.  The girls thought it was great fun!

(Notice Isla's leg!  Her boot was removed the day before, and her leg is pretty much all better now!  She is walking with a  little limp, which is supposed to be normal.  It is SO nice to have both of her legs back in working function!!)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

December 9: Picnic Dinner by the Christmas Tree

Tonight we had a picnic dinner in front of the Christmas tree.  We did this last year, and I made a Christmas themed meal as our dinner.  Simplicity seems to be the theme for our advent celebrations this year.  We just simply spread a blanket on the floor by the Christmas tree and ate our dinner on it.  It's fun for the girls either way.

(I may do a whole post on our Christmas trees.  But this is the one that holds all of our sentimental and handmade ornaments.  I let the girls decorate it all by themselves this year.  Can you tell?  I think Isla was determined to make sure every single bottom branch all the way around the tree had an ornament hanging on it!!)

December 8: Drink Hot Chocolate

For an after school snack today, the girls got to drink hot chocolate...with marshmallows!  Except their hot chocolate was more like lukewarm chocolate, because they really don't like it when it is hot.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

December 7: Write a Christmas Story

Audrey is learning about how to write stories at school.  She is also learning about writing sentences and sounding out words.  So I thought we could make our advent activity a little educational this time, and put all those things together to write a Christmas story book.

At school, Audrey has learned that stories need to have a beginning, middle and end.  So we talked about what kind of Christmas story we could write and decided on opening presents.  They also encourage the kindergartners at school to use brave spelling, which means to try to sound out words and write down whatever letters they think might be in the word.  The goal is for the kids to attempt to spell words on their own, not necessarily to spell them correctly.  So I helped Audrey sound out the words, and she wrote them all with her brave spelling by herself.  Here is her book!
Translation:  What I want for Christmas.  She also labeled all the pictures (I guess that is something else they learn at school?):  star, Christmas tree, presents, and carpet.

Translation:  I saw presents.

Translation:  I opened my presents.

Translation:  I saw a Glitter Glider Castle.  (this is the main thing on Audrey's Christmas wish list, and we did buy it for her, so I think she will be excited to see her story come true!)

Isla also made a book  of her own.   Her pages are a bit more random.  

The person in the above picture is Doc McStuffins.  Isla drew the head, then she wanted me to draw her body, then Isla colored her.

Isla also wanted me to draw a Christmas tree on this page.

December 6: Make a Gingerbread House

I bought a premade gingerbread house for the girls to decorate.  Someday it might be fun to make one from scratch, but then again, maybe not.  It is so very easy to buy one (pre assembled!) in a box.  I didn't even get any extra candy or anything to decorate our house.  We just used exactly what was in the box and kept it simple.  I let the girls decorate it however they wanted, so we definitely weren't striving for perfection!

Here is the finished product!

Isla really got into decorating. Audrey was done after a few minutes, but Isla was determined to put every piece of candy on the house.

December 5: Buy a New Ornament

Daniel had missed out on all the advent fun so far, so I sent him out with the girls on a mission to let them each pick out one new Christmas ornament for our day 5 activity.  Both Audrey and Isla have a special box where they get to keep their "own" ornaments.  Growing up, we always got to have our own box of ornaments, and I remember it fondly.  I thought it would be fun to let the girls pick their own ornament to add to their box this year!

They went to Hobby Lobby, because they have a huge selection of ornaments for fairly cheap.  I was kind of surprised by what the girls ended up choosing for themselves!

Isla picked this window ornament.  She was amazed by it because it has a mirror on it.  She also refuses to hang it on the tree.  She wants to keep it in her room instead.

Audrey picked out this fancy leopard print dress ornament.  I was surprised that she didn't pick something pink!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

December 4: Peter Pan Live

This one really didn't have anything to do with Christmas, but it was something that I knew the girls would enjoy.

We watched Peter Pan Live on NBC.

My girls love Peter Pan (the stage musical, not so much the Disney movie).  They saw it at the Muni once, and they love all of the songs.  Isla, especially, has always loved Peter Pan.

All day long, they kept talking about watching Peter Pan Live.  If I said something about watching Peter Pan, they were both quick to correct me that we were watching "Peter Pan LIVE."  The "live" part was important to them, even though they didn't really understand what it meant.

I didn't let them stay up to watch the whole show, but they did enjoy the hour and a half that I let them watch.  It was on Hulu the next day, so then they got to finish the whole movie.

December 3: Angel Tree

I made it two whole days into my advent calendar blogging, and then I missed three days.  I'm so good at this.  =)

To catch up...

On December 3, our activity was to pick out ornaments from the Angel Tree at Isla's school.  Each of the girls got to pick one.  The ornaments had a number on it, then we had to go to the office and find out what we were supposed to buy with our number, something from a needy kid's wish list.  Then we will buy those items, wrap them up, return them to school and they will be given to kids in need this Christmas.  I want my kids to embrace the idea that it is better to give than to receive.  They don't quite get that idea yet, but hopefully someday it will sink in if we continue to emphasize the joy and importance of giving to others.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

December 2: Christmas Dance Party

For today's Advent activity, we had a Christmas dance party.  This was an easy one with no prep involved.  Perfect for a night when I taught until 7:00 and Daniel had a 7:00 meeting.

I had some glow sticks that I bought a long time ago at the Dollar store, so I got them out to surprise the girls.  The glow sticks ended up not working very well, but the girls still liked them.

We turned off all the lights in the house except the Christmas tree, turned up the music and had fun dancing.  For about 15 minutes, until I insisted that our dance party must end due to bedtime.  

Monday, December 1, 2014

December 1: Play a Christmas Game

It's December 1...time to break out our Advent calendar!  I'm going to try to blog about each day this year to help revive this little blog of mine.

On each day in December leading up to Christmas, everyone gets a little piece of candy and then there is a Christmas themed activity for us all to do that day.  I made a new calendar last year using a shoe organizer, and it was so easy to make and so easy to set up each year!

December is such a crazy month and adding activities to each day sometimes seems a little crazy.  There are definitely days when it is really stressful to try to fit in an extra Christmas activity.  There are also days when the activity doesn't go as planned, or when two little girls don't have a good attitude about the activity.  However, there are other days, when everything does go as planned.  And we all have fun and enjoy celebrating Christmas together.  By the end of the month, the good days always outweigh the bad.  And so I keep doing it every year!

It's going to be a little trickier this year, as Audrey is now in school all day, every day.  I teach piano three afternoons a week after school, which only leaves us with a little bit of time for dinner, bath and bedtime.  Our free time is much more limited than it ever has been, but I am determine that we can make it work!  And keep the stress level to a minimum, if possible.

So tonight, we played a Christmas game.  My girls love to play any kind of board game, so I knew this would be a crowd pleaser.  I found this nativity dice game on pinterest and printed it for us to play.  It was a hit!!

And for fun, here's a throwback to the first year we did an Advent calendar in 2010.  Look at that little Audrey!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Audrey's Belle-inspired Sixth Birthday Party

Audrey decided several months ago that she wanted to be Belle for Halloween and that she wanted a Belle-themed birthday party.  So that's what we did!

She wanted to invite the whole world to her party, but I convinced her to just invite a couple of her girl friends from school and church.  The idea was to just have a simple little party with her friends.  And I tried, I really tried.  I'm just not good at simple parties.


I ended up dividing our house into "rooms" kind of like the Beast's mansion.

We had the library where we opened presents and played a game.

The West Wing, where the Beast's enchanted rose stood and where we made a craft.

And the Dining Room, where the food was served!


We found this letter "A" notebook in the dollar section at Michaels, and I thought it worked perfectly as a guest book.  Audrey greeted all of her friends as they arrived and had them sign their names in the book.

I had a simple coloring craft for the girls to work on when they arrived.  I didn't expect them to spend much time on it, but they really got into their coloring pages.  I ended up hurrying them along so we would have time for the rest of the party festivities.

We played a Belle Bingo game that I bought from Etsy.  I'm sure I could have made a game without spending any money, but sometimes it is easier to just use (and pay for) what someone else has already made!  The Bingo game was fun, and worked well for the different age levels we had in our group (ages 3-6).

And of course we opened presents!  Audrey would probably say that was her favorite part.  =)


In an attempt to keep it simple, I didn't make a big buffet of food, as I might have liked.  In keeping with Belle's French cuisine and the line from the movie, "Marie, the baguettes!" we had baguettes with butter and jam.

I also made the "grey stuff" (from the song Be Our Guest) using this recipe.  Everyone agreed, it was delicious!


For the past few parties, I have paid someone to make the cake.  And that is a really good idea.  There is a part of me that likes trying to make the cake myself.  But it always ends up being a little (okay, A LOT) stressful!  I really need to remember that letting someone else make it is a good idea.

But this year, Audrey wanted a doll cake.  I made a doll cake for her Rapunzel themed fourth birthday party.  So I figured I could do it again with Belle this time.

I really like the look of rose cakes, with big rose swirls covering the whole cake.  I decided to try my hand at using rose swirls to decorate Belle's dress.  It worked fairly well.  Not quite as good as a professional, but I was happy with the result.


I made rose pens for each of the girls to take home as a favor.

We know a lady who makes amazing sugar cookies, so I enlisted her help to make Belle dress cookies to give away as favors as well.

That's about it for our "simple" Belle party.  It was fun!!

Saturday, November 22, 2014


Halloween always ends up being such a crazy day, as it is also Audrey's birthday.  Plus, it was a school day for Audrey this year.  It is a long day for everyone, but we fit everything in.  We postponed most of Audrey's birthday celebration until her party the next day.

Audrey decided a long time ago that she wanted to be Belle for Halloween, because she had also decided that she wanted to have a Belle birthday party.  She also asked if she could have a Belle dress that went all the way down to the floor.  I started looking for long Belle dresses.  I found a lot of beautiful dresses, but they were expensive!  Until one day, I found one on Zulily for just $12.  Score!  It is definitely a cheap dress, but it went all the way to the floor and had a little hoop in it.  Audrey thought it was perfect!

I had Isla pick out another one of the $12 dresses that were on sale, and she decided to be Snow White.  Easiest Halloween costume year so far for us!

Isla's typical picture scowl.

But Daddy got her to smile for the camera!

It's a tradition to go trick or treating with our friend Cael.

Audrey had a hard time walking in her dress that went all the way to the ground.  She only tripped and fell one time though.

Audrey was a bit shy about going up to the houses to trick or treat.  We found out at the end of the night that she was afraid the houses would have dogs inside them.  The girl is deathly afraid of dogs!  However, she was willing to set aside her fears for the sake of getting candy.

Isla and her broken leg were wheeled around in the stroller all night.  She thought it was great!

It's also a tradition to stop by our friend Lisa's house.

This year Audrey's teacher (the one in the hat) went trick or treating with us.  I thought Audrey would love it, but she seemed shy and nervous all night.  She wasn't quite sure how to act around her teacher outside of school!  We also stopped by her assistant teacher's house (the one in the purple shirt) to go trick or treating.

Trick or treating is a fun tradition for us, and so we keep doing it, even though it would be easier to just skip it and focus on Audrey's birthday instead.    We have also tried to carry on a tradition that my mom used to do when we were kids.  We usually only trick or treated at the houses of people that we knew, and my mom would make treats for us to deliver while we went trick or treating.  I love the idea of giving treats to others at Halloween, so I have been trying to do that ever year with our family.  It's always crazy with Audrey's birthday, but this year I managed to make some caramel apple popcorn to deliver around our neighborhood.  It was yummy.  I was lucky to have some left to give to the neighbors, as I kept eating it myself!