DIY ornaments

Most of us are familiar with salt dough ornaments. However, thanks to Tips From a Typical Mom on Pinterest I recently attempted a recipe for clay ornaments instead of salt dough. The recipie was extremely easy to make.

1. Ingredients:
-Water
-Cornstarch
-Baking soda

2. Put all ingredients into a pot on medium heat and stir until thickened. The consistency should be similar to mashed potatoes. (This happens pretty quick so be watchful)

3. Take out the dough and place it in a dish with a damp towel on top. Allow to cool completely. (Great time to change a diaper, eat a snack,take a nap)

4. Put cornstarch on a flat surface and roll out your dough to about 1/4 thick. Drizzle cornstarch on your rolling pin as well (or cup if you lack a rolling pin).

5. Use cookie cutters to make ornament shapes or create your own freestyle shapes. I used the cup I used to roll the dough to make circle shapes.

6. Decorate by layering different shapes together. (Do not paint yet). I wanted my ornaments to be of my daughters handprint. I placed her little hand on each circle to make an imprint. (This was much more difficult than expected). I used a chop stick to poke a hole in the top of the ornament to be able to hang it later.

7. Place ornaments on a cookie sheet in an oven on 250 degrees F. Set a timer for 30 minutes, turn the ornaments, and set another 30 minute timer.

8. Take out the ornaments allow them to cool and then decorate with paint or whatever you choose. Modge podge looks great on this type of dough, makes it shiny white. I painted Modge podge on mine and used paint or puff paint to write her name and the year on the back of the handprint.

These were very simple to make and I cannot wait until next year to make them again when she can be more involved. I think this may become a tradition of her making an ornament each year!

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25 Christmas books

Looking for ideas for Christmas books? Well, look no further! After, I posted about Christmas traditions I realized several of them included books. Here are 25 great book ideas!

Legend of the Poinsettia- Tomie dePaola

The Tomten – Astrid Lindgren

Santa’s Snow Cat- Sue Stainton

Gingerbread Baby- Jan Brett

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The Night Before Christmas- Charles Santore

How the Grinch Stole Christmas- Dr. Seuss

Polar Express- Chris Van Allsburg

Christmas Trolls- Jan Brett

Welcome Comfort- Patricia Polacco

Dream Snow- Eric Carle

Trees of the Dancing Goats- Patricia Polacco

One Snowy Night- M. Christina Butler

The Father Christmas letters- J.R.R. Tolkien

Room for a Little One- Martin Waddell

Snowmen on Christmas- Caralyn Buehner

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The Wild Christmas Reindeer- Jan Brett

The Christmas Wish- Lori Evert

Llama Llama Jingle Bells- Anna Dewdney

Pete the Cat Saves Christmas- James Dean

The Littlest Christmas Tree- R.A. Herman

God Gave us Christmas- Lisa Tawn Bergren

The Littlest Elf- Brandi Dougherty

The Legend of Old Befana- Tomie dePaola

Llama Llama Holiday Drama- Anna Dewdney

Gingerbread Man- Jim Aylesworth

The Spirit of Christmas- Nancy Tillman

A Pirates Night Before Christmas- Phillip Yates

Bear Stays Up for Christmas- Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman

How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas- Jane Yolen

There are many more amazing Christmas books out there. Perhaps, next year I could do a book a day for the 25 days of Christmas and include helpful information for each book.
If you have a favorite Christmas book whether it was mentioned above or not please share it with me in the comments!

 

 

25 Christmas Traditions

If you are looking for a Christmas Tradition or a new addition to your traditions here are some festive ideas!

1. Christmas Eve box- A box to enjoy on Christmas Eve with a Christmas movie, pajamas, snacks, and beverage.

Photo Credit: Frugal Fanatic

Photo Credit: Frugal Fanatic

2. Cookies for Santa- Self explanatory, if Santa is on a diet maybe ants on a log is a better option!
3. Gifts wrapped from mom and dad and gifts from Santa unwrapped- The thought behind this is that Elves make gifts (not wrap them) so any toys from Santa should already be put together and ready to play. These gifts are under the tree as well as wrapped gifts from mom and dad.
4. Christmas pajamas- Prepare for Christmas morning by dawning super comfy and new pajamas.
5. Christmas movies- Go see a movie on Christmas day but prepared the theaters are usually very busy on Christmas.
6. Yearly Christmas ornaments- Let the kids pick out one new ornament for the tree each year.
7. Christmas pictures- If you are brave enough to try to get the entire family to smile at once!

Awkward Family Photo Submitted by Samantha

Awkward Family Photo
Submitted by Samantha

8. Christmas card/newsletter- Write a blerb telling our friends and family what your family has been up to this past year.
9. 25 Christmas books- Give the kids one book for each of the 25 days of Christmas.
10. Caroling- Sing in your house, sing at grandma’s, or sing around your neighborhood, just be jolly!
11. Good deed (lay away angel)- Pay off a portion of someones lay away, pay for the food of the person in front of you, or just any good deed your heart desires.

Layaway Angels  Brandon Goodwin/ Today

Layaway Angels
Brandon Goodwin/ Today

12. Christmas craft- Thanks to pinterest crafts are easy to find let your kids get their excitement out and make a craft.
13. Elf on the shelf- A book and a elf doll. The elf is there to watch your kids and report back to Santa.
14. Fill shoes with candy- Have your kids leave their shoes out and fill them with candy (instead of stockings or along side).
15. Pick a Christmas tree- Take your whole family to a Christmas tree farm and pick the perfect tree. Or just go to the store and let them choose a fake tree if cutting down a tree just is not for you.
16. Decorate Christmas tree- Play Christmas Music and decorate the Christmas tree together one ornament at a time.
17. Flour and glitter footprints for Santa- Keep the magic alive and have your kids wake up to Santa footprints around the house.
18. Gingerbread houses- Build a gingerbread house together or have a gingerbread house building competition!
19. Theater nutcracker or Christmas carol- Have the family dress up and go watch a therater production of a Christmas Carol or the Nutcracker.
20. Holiday lights show- Drive around the neighborhood with the best lights display and ooohhh and ahhh all the way!
21. Visiting Santa- Go sit on Santa’s lap, take pictures, and pray your kid won’t cry!
22. Write letters to Santa- Have your kids write a letter to Santa. Maybe challenge them to make it a poem. Either way its a great way to find out what they want.
23. Christmas cracker- An English tradition you can buy at a store or online. You pop the cracker and there are trinkets inside, a poem, a small toy, and a paper crown.

Christmas Cracker

24. Nativity- Take the family to see a live nativity. A great way to bring about religious conversations with your kids.
25. Pick a country- Let your kids pick a different country each year and try out one of their unique holiday traditions. A great learning experience!

Ideas to Spark a Christmas Tradition

Christmas is coming!

As excited new parents we of course are all up in “Christmas Tradition” making mode. It is fun but also can be difficult to determine how to build a new tradition while each parent also wants to pass down the traditions from their childhood. You want to create something new out of the old without stepping on anyone’s special time-honored traditions toes.

Traditions are special

It’s not the gifts that children look forward to during the holiday season but the traditions. Knowing what to expect each year, with a bit of surprise is a sure-fire way to build up the anticipation! Traditions are something that stick with you always and take you to happy memories filled with nostalgia.

Do you want to build traditions?

When Grayson (My husband) and I began discussing the matter of Christmas traditions, we each immediately grasped for our childhood traditions. After we exhausted all the memories and intricacies associated with our respective traditions we knew we needed to find a way to intermingle them. Below are snippets of each of our traditions.

Grayson: Christmas Eve gift of pajamas to wear to bed and open gifts on Christmas morning. Extended family all go to one house Christmas Eve to wake up together Christmas Morning. Christmas breakfast of blini (also know as crepes), and Christmas lunch but not a set menu. Then the finale of the day is going to a movie.

Erica: Christmas Eve gift exchange between mom, dad, and children. Make cookies and set them out for Santa. Open presents from Santa on Christmas morning and yummy cinnamon rolls for breakfast (along with other foods of choice). Christmas lunch at Grandma’s with extended family (aunts, uncles, cousins) and bagel sandwiches with every meat and cheese you could want, homemade macaroni and cheese, and more. We also open gifts from grandma and grandpa.

Our Tradition

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We decided to make our tradition from pieces of each of our experiences but to also add something new. We will spend Christmas Eve at our own home, make cookies for Santa, and open a gift of Christmas pajamas to wear on Christmas Morning. Our new addition will also be on Christmas Eve. A box will be opened for each child. Inside will be their Christmas pajamas, a Christmas book or movie, hot chocolate, and snacks. The movie will be watched, book will be read, and snacks will be devoured on Christmas Eve.

On Christmas day we will open gifts from Santa at our house first and then go to Grayson’s parents for Christmas gifts there, breakfast, lunch, and, when our children are old enough, the movie. We will go to his parents simply because we live in the same city as them. My family lives 17 hours away so if we ever go there for Christmas we will do my family’s traditions.IMG_0163.JPG

Final Thoughts

Every tradition is special, so remember to be respectful of one another’s wants. Finding a tradition that will work for your family is very similar to the idea of a unity candle (or other symbol) in a marriage ceremony. Each person’s individual gifts are joined together. From pajamas to movies, anything can be a tradition. It’s making it work and creating those special memories for your family that’s the important part.

We would love to hear about your traditions! Maybe we can mingle them with ours. Please share your thoughts with us!

4 Questions Dads are Tired of Hearing

As every parent can attest to, having a baby is like giving everyone in the world an excuse to offer unsolicited advice and ask highly insensitive questions. It is a rule that no one agrees on, no one likes, and yet everyone participates in. While I can usually brush off unsolicited advice with smile and courteous thanks, ignoring questions is quite a bit harder to pull off.

The only effective method

Here is a list of the most puzzling, annoying, and back-handed questions I have heard so far and how I will be responding to these questions from here on out.

  1. Have you changed a diaper yet?

This question has to be the most frequent and baffling question I have been asked so far. The implications of this question stem into a deeper topic of the world’s perception on fathers (a topic that will merit its own post later), but it definitely irks me more than any other question. The underlying assumption is that dad’s are not participants in the parenting process. Perhaps I am over-sensitive but the imbedded message in this question is that there are extremely low expectations placed on a father’s involvement with his child. If after one month of living with a baby you have not changed a diaper then you fall into one of two options. #1: You are dead, severely injured, or missing or #2: Your wife is planning to make you #1.

My new response: “Of course! I only have to change mine once during the work day. It has saved me loads of time on bathroom breaks.”

  1. Does she look like you?

While this admittedly is a fairly tame question, it is almost an impossible one to answer in the first few weeks of life. Every newborn baby, to me, looks like an odd mixture of Winston Churchill and the Gerber baby.

The semblance is uncanny

I am sure that as time progresses our daughter will show a genetic lean towards one of us but in the beginning she is just a ridiculously cute ball of chubby.

My new response: “The jury is out until her goatee comes in.”

  1. I bet you wanted a boy, right?

This may be a question that is exclusive to guys with daughters but who knows what questions people dare to ask these days. Again this is a question with implications on top of implications. First off, there is no right way to ask this question and it not seem offensive. There is nothing like asking if someone would like a refund on their child. However unintentional the person might be, this simply implies that you are already disappointed by your child, who may not even have been born yet. I remember hearing this question almost the same week that I found out the sex of our daughter. Remember kids, you can never be too young to disappoint your parents. The second implication is that the only children that father’s can enjoy are the ones that share similar sex organs. This one throws me off because of the prevalence of the terms “daddy’s girl” and “momma’s boy.” I thought they were the norm until I was asked this question repeatedly. I will note that the typical demographic of people asking this question were women over 60 so it may just be a cultural thing.

My new response: “We would return her but we lost the receipt.”

  1. Are you going to have another baby?

I would have to say that this is my favorite question that people ask on a regular basis. My initial reaction is an involuntary Costanza face.

No explanation required, the face says it all.

My second reaction is to actually try to figure out how to give the most noncommittal answer I can come up with. At this stage of parenthood I am still trying to figure out if feeding the baby after midnight will in fact cause her to turn into a gremlin.

A father’s worst nightmare

The last thing I am thinking about is how to take care of two of these things at the same time. Yet the question is still a valid one and it is one that you will eventually ask yourself. Yes, being a father is pretty awesome and yes I will probably want more kids but right now the farthest I can think into the future is how many hours of sleep I am going to be missing by tomorrow. Parents should be able to have some break time to enjoy the child they have before trying to pop out another one.

My new response: “I might have to wait; the last one was pretty filling.”

What questions are you tired of hearing? We would love to empathize…

At Delivery: A Father’s Role

What an amazingly helpful post. Daddies to be please read!

In Search of Fatherhood

Earlier this week, my wife gave birth to our twin girls at 34 weeks. Follow along with updates on their status at family.kraft.im.

During labor, delivery, and postpartum, it can feel like a useless time for a dad. Rightfully so, it is all centered around the mother and the child, their health and well-being. That we’re “allowed” into the delivery room is still noteworthy to many—I was the only one of my dad’s four kids he was allowed to be present for the delivery.

You just became a dad. You’re pretty amped up about it. Some of your friends might congratulate you, but overall, it’s all about mom and baby. What should a dad being doing during this time?

Whatever possible for your child and the momma. Your sleep, within reason, doesn’t matter. You don’t have stitches in places where the sun doesn’t shine that require you to use…

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Art Folio: An Easy DIY Gift for Kids

I know a lot of moms these days are trying to veer away from excess and piles of toys this Christmas. With that in mind, I struggled to think of a DIY gift for my 8-year-old cousin that wouldn’t be just another toy in the closet.

I found one of those make-up/jewelry folios for travel (they have that little hook so you can hang it up) and I had an idea. (You can find these in most cosmetic sections in stores like Wal-Mart or Target. The cheapest one I found online was from Target for about $12 here!)

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Zoe just loves to create. So why not make her an art kit she can take anywhere? It can tuck in a back pack, go with her to church, or hang from the seat in front of her in the car!

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You can either buy some things to include from the dollar store or you can look around your craft corner and find little extras you know your little one would enjoy!

I included a bunch of colored pens in the top pocket. The middle section has a pouch for mini scissors and glue, and another with a tiny notebook and pencils.

IMG_5449.JPGIn the larger pockets I stuck small pieces of scrapbook paper for snipping and gluing, as well as a pocket full of stickers.

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By gathering little things from my stash and the dollar store, I was able to complete this gift for about $15.

Let us know if you try it out or post your ideas for other things to include!

Dads Pull Out Surprise Dubstep Dance For Christmas

I am so glad to have found this! Dads you rock ! Thank you “cute or funny videos” for sharing!!

Cute or Funny Videos | Cute Funny Kittens, Puppies And More

Amateur dad dance crew, The Christmas Jumpers, get down to a remix of Dance Of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

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Five Things You Learn in the First Two Months of Fatherhood.

1: Redundancy is not just good for business.

It will only take one rendition of Mt. Vesuvius recreated by your daughter’s rear end to learn the value of having a back-up to the back up. One diaper cannot withstand firepower of that magnitude. Always keep a spare diaper handy and remember that wipes cost far less than shampooing a carpet so don’t be stingy!

My aversion to poo is equal to my aversion to lava.

My aversion to poo is equal to my aversion to lava.

2: You will do something to make your child cry and don’t be surprised if you cry too.

Baby nail clippers will lead you into a false sense of security before ripping your soul out when you accidentally clip too close. While your first instinct will be to commit seppuku, you must restrain yourself and remember that even the best parents aren’t perfect. There will be mistakes along the way and there will be tears but as long as you can bear through the pain of the moment, both you and your child will grow from it. To quote everyone’s favorite doctor, “The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don’t always spoil the good things and make them unimportant.” (Doctor Who, Vincent and the Doctor, Series 5, episode 10)

3: Sleep happens…Sometimes

Sleep deprivation is only fun when it involves binge watching all three original trilogy Star Wars in one night. Unfortunately, baby is more Rancor than Princess Leia.

Give me milk!

Give me milk!

(Star Wars Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back)

 

The key to sleeping soundly as possible is figuring out what works best for you and the baby. Doctors push sleeping in cribs and bassinets because it is the “safest” setup and keeps them liable free in case of SIDS. Some babies are completely on board with the doctor but sometimes babies work best with co-sleeping. My advice is to research it yourself to determine what would feel best for you and your little one. As long as they are safe and are sleeping it doesn’t matter what configuration you are in.

4: You inexplicably have become fluent in jibberish

Babies are notorious for screaming their heads off so when you get a glimpse of a smile, you will work you butt off to see it again. This may require you to do some things that you swore you would never do, like speaking three octaves higher with Tweety Bird pronunciation. What seems even crazier is when you realize you have had a full hour discussion with your baby whose main response is “oooh” with an occasional fart to spice up the conversation. The best part is you finally have someone to share your time travel theories and will listen with rapt attention. It doesn’t matter what you decide to talk with your baby about, it is a magical time where no one is understanding each other and everyone is totally cool with it.

5: You don’t have to be Superman to be super dad

As many men can attest to, we are a get it done kind of species. Give us our tools and duct tape and we can fix any problem. Men desire challenges and want to know they can stand up to the tests given them. When it comes to babies, there is no “fixing” a baby. There is no instruction manual, no special power tool to solve a dirty diaper (note to self: invent diaper changing power tool). Sometimes babies are going to cry and sometimes there is not a thing, not one single thing, that is going to stop them crying. And that is 100% ok. My wife can confirm that I have been stubborn in my manly fix-it ways to the point where I spent an hour in the bathroom with the water running trying to emulate being in a uterus. You are not going to be able to fix it all the time. Asking for help and accepting help does not detract from your ability as a father. Knowing your limits is what will help keep you sane enough to continue being a father and will help you know where to grow in the future.

How to store breastmilk and reduce your carbon footprint

Is there a better way to store breastmilk?

The answer is a resounding …Yes!

When I first began to store my breastmilk I had 6 storage bottles that came with my breast pump. I quickly realized that 6 bottles was not enough storage and cycling through the bottles was not working. This began my search for other methods.

The search

My first 6 bottles were not going to cut it. First, I thought I would just buy more bottles. Simple, right? NOPE! Those bottles are expensive and how many would I need? The next step was disposable breastmilk storage bags. I knew people used them and thought they would be a great way to build my storage. I bought NUK bags after reading many reviews from Amazon. They lived up to the reviews and are awesome bags but I had another issue. Tossing out the used bags felt like tossing out money! For the same reasons I decided to cloth diaper I knew I needed a more environmental and economical way to store my liquid gold.

“X” marks the spot

Like a search for treasure I began hunting for ideas. Pinterest, Amazon, and Google, there had to be away to safely store and freeze unlimited amounts. I found Baby Food Storage Baby Food Freezer Tray By KIDDO FEEDO on Amazon. It’s marketed as storage for baby foods that you make yourself. It is a silicon tray with 9, 2 oz. sections. The lid fits snugly and has ledges all around to help it stay fit. Although I couldn’t find a review of it used for breastmilk, all of the reviews were wonderful! After searching Amazon and the kiddo Feedo site for something…anything about breastmilk storage the kiddo Feedo site did mention it very briefly and then I found reviews of how other mums have used it. I decided to go for it and order one. Let me tell you it’s amazing and I love it!

 

Using the new storage system

Once I received it, I washed it and waited for my next pumping session. I pumped my usual 2 oz. from the left and 4 oz. from the right. To the storage I ran! Not really but it sounds good, right? I carefully poured the milk into 3, 2 oz.sections and fit the lid on. Then just to be safe in case of any leakage I put the tray into a ziplock storage bag. I continued to add milk after each session filling the tray. When it was full I would push out the milk cubes, which was very easy (you can even push one out to use and put the rest back no need to push out all of them at once). I decided to put my cubes into a large ziplock freezer bag to store in the freezer. Yes, it is something disposable (you could wash the bags) but I only use 1 or 2 bags a month as they fill with my cubes instead of 2 NUK bags per session. I write the month on the bag and all of the cubes I freeze go into that month. When a new month begins or I run out of room in a bag I start a new bag for the same month or start a bag for a new month. For example, I have a bag for “November”, “November 2”, and “December.” Keeping the month on the bag allows me to keep using the oldest stored first. When my husband prepares for the night feed (currently his night feeds are what we use the stored milk for) he puts the cube in a glass container with a lid and let’s it thaw. If he needs to thaw it faster he microwaves a mug of water for about a minute and places the glass container inside the mug.IMG_0074.JPG

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Final thoughts

This system has worked brilliantly for us! I hope that you find this post helpful and that it can reduce your spending (on items you toss out), and your carbon footprint.

What other ways do you store breastmilk? What has worked for you?

Proud mommy,
Erica