Presents The Kids Are Still Playing With After Christmas

You gotta love when you – I mean, when Santa spends all that time and energy on the “right” presents (and not to mention the expenses) so your kids can play with the boxes they are packaged in, or the pillows on your freshly-made beds.

Santa is starting to think he should have given the kids a nook or an iPad as opposed to the extra plastic and clutter lying around the house, but their wish-list tricked him.

Still, many of our presents are still providing lots of entertainment.  To name a few…

My sister bought this science kit for Sean Patrick:

Learning Resources Primary Science Lab Set

And we love it.  It comes with cards to tell you how to do science experiments that are kid-friendly.  When my toddler goes down for a nap, Sean Patrick can’t wait to do his experiment.

How to make pennies shiny

Learning how to make pennies shiny!

Cleaning our science tools

Cleaning our science tools.


He even likes to clean the tools.   How could I not be excited about that?

My mother-in-law got us the learning tower that he stands on to do the experiments and the dish-washing.  I used to think only hippie-parents would want this and that I would never want it because it takes up space, but y’all…. I am in love, and I was wrong.  Or maybe I am a hippie?

Guidecraft All Grown Up Kitchen Helper Step Stool

Anyway, my kids stood on it for a half hour after we took it out of the box saying “This is awesome! This is AWEsome!  This is aweSOME!”  repeatedly.

And I love that they no longer try to climb onto the counter tops or pull chairs to the counters.

Sean Patrick is also loving his Jake and the Neverland Pirate Ship.  It’s been fun hearing him attempt to talk like a pirate “Ahoy matey” is stinking adorable.  AHH, I have to drop stinking from my vocabulary… help!  Sean Patrick calls me out on using a potty word when I’m not in the bathroom and it is humbling haha.

Fisher-Price Disney's Jake and The Never Land Pirates - Jake's Musical Pirate Ship Bucky

As far as Mckayla’s presents go, her pretend makeup is the absolute best, pretend makeup that exists on the market:

Little Cosmetics Essential Pretend Makeup Set

It is completely pretend but it seems totally real.  So perfect.

Finally, I made the kids some colorful ribbon streamers and it has also been a BIG hit as a dancing accessory.

dancing with ribbon streamers


Thanks to everyone who commented on my Facebook page about what gifts your kids are using most…. it gives me good ideas for my kiddos birthdays in 2014.


The Meaning Behind Christmas Decor {Printable}

Today is the last of my 24 Days of Printables!  If you missed out you can check out the Facebook Album & you’ll have plenty to do over the holiday break.

I wanted to introduce the meaning of our Christmas decorations and when I googled the meanings there were no visuals for kids to make easy associations SO I thought that this task would be perfect for my last Christmas printable for 2013:

Meaning of Christmas Visual.001

It’s super kid-friendly so I hope you enjoy it!


Christmas Graphics: The Mommy Teacher 2013

Nativity Graphics: @Charlotte Braddock 2013

The Most Memorable Way To Give Kids Their Presents

My sister, Becca, is probably the most creative and sentimental human being that I have ever met.

She always amazes me with her thoughtfulness and the energy she spends to create special memories for our kids.

When we get our kids together she is always preparing fun snacks, special crafts, itineraries of special events, and much more.

Well, she started a tradition with all of the kids just two years ago that the kids now anticipate and remember more than any other tradition: a scavenger hunt to find their toys!

The kids were so attentive to figure out their next clue!

The kids were so attentive to figure out their next clue!

So, my awesome sister buys small toys/trinkets, writes riddles for the scavenger hunt, and has the kids play outside while she sets up all of the gifts.   Another sister, Ali, is also a PHENOMENAL gift-giver so she loves to help with the shopping and setting up of the gifts as well.

I asked Becca if she was okay with today’s printable being this year’s riddles and she was glad to share it.  So, HERE is the riddle if you want to print it and use it OR just use it as a guideline to make your own.

A Fun Scavenger Hunt Riddle to Make Gift-giving even more special for kids!

Here is an example of one of the riddles in action:

And here is the play-by-play of this year’s scavenger hunt:

1) Favorite Bible Stories Coloring Books on the playroom table.

2) A piñata hanging in the backyard.

3) Nativity Magnets and birthday blowers in the kitchen.

4) Candy Canes in the bedroom.

5) Presents under the tree in the living room.



Favorite Christmas Traditions

I made a printable to piggyback this morning’s post…. you should definitely go back and read it if you haven’t had a chance!

Or, you can always “Pin It” and save it to read later. 😉

I made a journal template for Christmas traditions so that you could help your kids write out their traditions as a keepsake, but I decided that I am going to print one for myself.

I want my kids to get to see what my childhood traditions were so they could learn a little and yes, even compare the traditions from my childhood to theirs.

So, here it is:

Favorite Traditions Journal

Oh, and Stick these in a folder or binder with sheet protectors so you can always add pictures later!

To the Overwhelmed Mom this Holiday Season…


Christmas is right around the corner and, let’s face it, the holiday ain’t what it was 20+ years ago when we were kids!
The Light Bright has been replaced by the iPad which has an app that can track Santa’s trip across the globe.  Social media has raised the bar on mom-to-mom comparisons about whose house has the merriest and brightest Christmas ever on the face of the planet.
We’ve graduated from Hallmark-Christmas to the cyber-explosion of a Pinterest-Christmas.  Everything is so pretty and fun!  If only we could do it all…
But alas, Elfie has sat on the top of the Christmas tree 5 nights in a row, Santa’s cookies are going to be store-bought this year (if we even remember to buy some), half the lights on the house are burnt out (and we only used 2 strands to begin with), the bottom half of our tree is bare because our toddlers just can’t keep their hands off of the sparkly glass balls, and pretty sure half of our Christmas decorations are still up in the attic somewhere.
Christmas here, Christmas there, but dishes and toys are still everywhere and chores are never-ending…the to-do list goes on, and on, and on…
Yet, instead of rejoicing in other’s creativity and accepting our own limitations of time and energy, we are trying too hard to keep up with the Jones’, or criticizing them to make ourselves feel a little better, “Ok, stop making all the rest of the parents out there look bad.” Where’s the Christmas cheer?
Rest assured…  You aren’t a horrible parent if you don’t have an elf, for example, or if your elf doesn’t do amazingly theatric things.  And contrary to the new message going around by non-elf lovers, you aren’t a horrible parent if your elf is freaking awesome.
So let’s covet the picture-perfect Christmas magic sprinkled across Facebook by the mythical “super moms”… or let’s grumble and boycott any traditions that put our Charlie Brown tree to shame… OR let’s stop trying to live up to the expectations of the endless idea generator that is “The Google” and celebrate the joy and merriment of the holidays with our families.
So, how can you create the perfect Christmas for your family without the weight of overwhelming excess?


First, think of your favorite holiday memories from your childhood… was it the smell of your Christ
mas tree?  Seeing the same ornaments year after year and adding one more glitter and glue craft from homeroom?  Watching your dad balance not he roof to hang Christmas lights and then waiting til dusk to plug them in?  Christmas music?  Hot chocolate?  How the Grinch Stole Christmas?  Popcorn garland?
None of my favorite memories were social media-worthy, and yet they still give me the warm fuzzies even to this day.


Second, pick your favorite idea/tradition/activity and that your specialty.  No one family is doing Elf on the Shelf, gingerbread houses, 12 days of Christmas, advent, caroling, Christmas cards, Griswold Christmas lights set to music, letters from Santa, letters to Santa, parades, plays concerts, and more… and if they are trying to do it all, believe me, they are overwhelmed just like you… even if it looks like they are having the #bestchristmasever.
So, stop feeling guilty that your Christmas doesn’t look like her Christmas… please.  Breathe… scratch some things off the to-do list and enjoy your holiday.  Your family will appreciate it and so will you.  And how amazing will it be one day when you see your own children keeping that one special tradition alive for their children?


Third, use your talents to guide your family’s traditions.  What are your hobbies or strengths?  Are you a good cook?  Spend your time making delectable holiday treats.  Are you a crafte
r?  Use those talents and time decorating your home.  Are you a teacher?  Plan activities through December that reflect different traditions around the world.  Are you a musician?  Take your family caroling throughout your neighborhood.  Do you have a servant’s heart?  Volunteer at a soup kitchen with your family and friends.
The activities that reflect the things that you actually ENJOY doing will make the holiday season a joyful one.  Your kids will notice the drop in stress-level, too!
And remember… these holiday traditions are to be planned out by you and your spouse, (or just you if you are a single parent) and you can take pride in the memories you are creating – it is not for anyone else to judge how you choose to celebrate in your home.
So whether your tree looks like…
or your house looks like…
or your Christmas cards look like…

compare card

or your festive wrapping looks like…
or your kid’s gingerbread houses look like…

compare gbread

(well, they all look like candy explosions or are half-eaten anyway)…
your kids will have an amazing Christmas if you snuggle them, and love on them, and share with them the real reason for the season.  Let us all simplify and celebrate together.  We are tired of being overwhelmed, and we know you are too!
A Note from Jessica:
1.  My favorite childhood Christmas memory was putting ornaments on the tree.  We would run back to the box and get so excited making observations about ornaments or remembering familiar ornaments.
2. I specialize in the art of making my dad’s gumbo.  You know you live in Louisiana when…
3.  My talent is coming up with seasonal activities, printables, or crafts.  My Aunts always made sure we had plenty to do… Now I realize it was probably so that the adults could socialize.

A Note from Casey:
1.  My favorite childhood Christmas memory is when I got my dollhouse!  It currently sits in my workshop and a few Christmases from now, I will be surprising my daughter with it newly repainted!
2.  While my favorite tradition that I have chosen to focus on is Elf on the Shelf, you will never see me posting pictures of a beautifully displayed Christmas dinner because I’m more of a take-out kind of chef 😉
3.  My talent is crafting and decorating, so I have been spreading Christmas cheer all over the walls of my home, except the laundry is still piled high on my sofa, so your eyes are more drawn to that than the decor… cleaning is definitely not my talent.

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