Monday, December 21, 2009

Sugared Cranberries: A (Semi) Healthy Holiday Treat

I went in search of a Christmas treat that we could make that wouldn't be completely devoid of nutritional value. I came up with something kind of fun! Sugared cranberries are full of vitamin C, good for urinary tract health, have fewer calories per serving than most Christmas treats- AND they're tasty and festive!

The recipe is from Cooking Light, but I would add that whereas they say to remove the sugar syrup from heat before one adds the cranberries, I found that one should leave the cranberries on the heat for a couple minutes so that they will soften enough to absorb sugar.

Have you found any good, healthy holiday treats? I'd love to hear about them!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Wooden Puzzle Science Lesson

Here's a new twist on putting together wooden puzzles with your toddler. I've discovered lately that it can be a fun opportunity for teaching science facts about animals.

As I take each animal out of the ziploc bag I say (for example), "This animal eats bugs; It's a ____"

"Frog," M answers as she takes the puzzle piece and puts it in the correct place.

Once all of the pieces are placed, I ask, "Can you hand me the animal that eats bugs?" She gives me the frog, and so on and so forth until all of the pieces are put away.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Rainy Day Pillow Jump

My 2 year old asks to do this about 3 times a day. It's great for using up extra childish energy when the day is too wet or rainy to go outside.

I pile all of our downstairs pillows, cushions, and blankets around the floor below our big arm chair, clear the coffee table out of the way and let M jump off and climb up over and over until she is spent and ready for a nap. She likes it when I say, "One, two three...jump!" or when I tell a little story like "The man jumps out of the plane- and one, two, three! Down into the clouds!"

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Our Family's Advent Tradition

Last year was the first time for this Advent tradition in our family. It is basically an expansion of the traditional advent wreath; instead of lighting five candles we light one for each night. Before the candle is lit we read two passages of Scripture together- one from the Old Testament that foreshadows the coming of Christ in some way, and another from the New Testament that highlights how it was fulfilled in Him. We talk about the significance together and then with candles lit and lights out we sing a Christmas carol or hymn about that aspect of Christ's coming.

Coming up with the Scripture passages was really a great Bible Study for Ryan and me. It also has really helped me to think more deeply about the meanings of Christmas carols. The log itself was made by my father. Isn't it beautiful?
It was made it out of a poplar tree that he cut down in our woods. He flattened the log, and then drilled holes in the top for the candles.

We would like to build on this tradition by coming up with corresponding symbols for each night and doing something hands-on with our children with those images, but we haven't worked out the details yet.

I would love to hear about ways that you help capture the anticipation of Christ's coming with your family. Please feel free to share!

Baby Initiated Peek-a-Boo

Playing a game with a newborn is a little tricky, but being a game-loving family, we try our best. Here is something my husband came up with for M when she was a baby that we do now with Baby G.

When the baby is sitting in her bouncy chair, my husband tosses a baby blanket over her head. She, of course, has a pretty constant flailing of arms, and soon the blanket falls down from her face. We exclaim peek-a-boo, and usually earn a big smile- sometimes giggles. I don't imagine there's any connection at all right now in Baby G's mind between her arm flailing and the peek-a-boo, but I remember that with M, it really seemed that over time she grasped that there was a cause and effect involved.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Wrapping Paper Fun

For her Daddy's birthday, I wrapped M's present to him with white wrapping paper and then let her decorate it with foam stickers. When she was done, we tied it up with a nice satin ribbon.

Having decorated it herself made it more fun for her when he opened it, and it even looked (half-way) decorative. I'm thinking about doing something similar with red and green stickers for Christmas.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Homemade Opposites Game

This game was actually more fun to make than to play. For M, learning about opposites has coincided with the beginning of a burning curiosity to see the pictures that I take of her on the digital camera. So, one day I decided it would be fun to have M act out some of the opposites that she is learning while I take pictures.

I printed those pictures cheaply on our printer, labeled them, stuck each one back to back with its pair and covered the cards with packing tape (acts like laminate).

Some of the opposites that we found were easy to capture in pictures were:

on/ off
empty/ full
happy/ sad
apart/ together
up/ down

To play the game, I place one card face up in front of M and ask her, "What is the opposite of ____" When she answers, I say, "Turn it over to see if you're right." Then she takes a turn showing the cards to me and asking me for answers.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Child's Art Display Frame

If you have any one with young children on your Christmas list this year you might consider getting them something that my mother in law bought us this year that we really like (it came in the mail, and we accidentally opened it early- oops!)

It's a picture frame cabinet that swings open so that you can easily press your child's artwork in place and quickly close the door. (It takes all of 3 seconds) There is a spring mechanism that allows you to push as many as 50 pages in before you take them all out and start again fresh. It works great! I really recommend it!