Friday, December 5, 2014

friday favorites (advent edition)

believe it or not, 
i had never even heard of advent growing up,
despite celebrating Christmas as far back as i can remember
i blame it on being raised on the other side of the world
that's my go-to scapegoat, by the way

don't know about a specific tradition?
"oh, sorry, i didn't grow up around here"

never had (or even seen) a ham dinner until you turn 18 and start dating your future husband, 
who just happens to be as Southern as they come?
"oh, sorry, i didn't grow up around here"

have a *lightbulb* moment when you watch star wars for the first time at the age of 29? 
(thanks to said husband, who mandated it as a long overdue rite of passage)
and finally understand half of your conversations growing up 
where people kept referencing "the dark side", "storm troopers", "something about Luke's father"
"oh, sorry, i didn't grow up around here"

forgot to pick up groceries for the week?
"err - sorry, i didn't grow up around here?"

you get the picture. 

anyway, back to the point of this blog post:  advent
i did what i could, given our timeline and how little the girls were
and honestly, it was wonderful and i am so glad with how everything turned out

this year i figured they were old enough to do an advent calendar
but, if you know me, you know that one of those chocolate-a-day calendars wasn't gonna cut it
so i spent a chunk of time researching little crafts and activities for each day leading up to Christmas
some fun and cutesy, some reminding us of what we are actually celebrating
then, i dug up this awesome advent garland that my mom in law gave us at our first married Christmas
(at the time, i was still in the dark about advent so i honestly had no idea what to do with it!
also, we've never been fully successful at decorating for christmas, but i believe that first year, we put a red bow on our one houseplant and called it quits...true story!)
now, before you go thinking i'm the mom of the year or anything, 
let's get real
if you really know me, you know i'm a dreamer
i dream up harebrained ideas, like this advent calendar
but the execution isn't always 100%
case in point:  i have yet to write the activities down and put them into the garland
aaaaand, we've sort of jumbled up a few days to suit delayed naps and busy days
( with toddlers!  at least they don't seem to mind just having the activity "announced")
but we're getting there
i even got organized enough by the end of this week to snap a few pictures of our advent activities!
if you're stumped on advent ideas for two year olds (or almost three year olds!), 
feel free to borrow some of ours - here's what we've done so far:

Dec 1:  read "The Nativity, from Luke 1-2" in The Jesus Storybook Bible
using characters from our Nativity Play Set to act it out as we went

Dec 2: set up Nativity on the mantle + listen to and sing away in a manger
Dec 3:  make popcorn together (a first for our girlies...and very exciting at that!) + more nativity discussion as we munched on it (they're really into telling the story of baby Jesus) 
Dec 4:  make peppermint almond bark...complete with cheery chocolate mustaches!
(the girlies dubbed it "a birthday treat" for baby Jesus)
Dec 5:  print out matching sheets of nativity characters onto cardstock (tons of options online - google image search it!) and use them to play a memory matching game

oh, and if you were wondering about our peppermint bark, here's the "recipe"...roughly

- approx 1/2 a pound 72% Dark Chocolate
- 1 tsp(ish) pure peppermint & mint extract 
(they came blended together, so it's 1 tsp total, not each)
- about 6 toddler handfuls almonds...err, we're not exactly accurate around here


- if your chocolate is in large chunks, get the kids to crush it in a big ziploc bag (we used my water bottle filled up as our tool of choice)

- dump chocolate into a double boiler (or use a metal bowl fitted on top of a pot of boiling water, like we did) and stir till melted through

- add peppermint extract and almonds then stir until well mixed

- pour bark onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and pop into the fridge until it hardens


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