Archives for posts with tag: advent calendar ideas

Little Man

Little B’s advent tree activity for today was to clean out his room of any gently used toys and clothes that he no longer plays with or uses. My Boy is great about giving up his things that he no longer uses/plays with (unless it’s stuffed animals… that’s another story). I’m always amazed at how easily he parts with his things, because I know how much he loves his toys, how he can recall exactly who gave them to him, and how carefully he takes care of them. In this house we rarely throw toys away because they’ve been broken, and it’s really because Brooks follows one of our big rules : Use things the way they’re meant to be. The times that he has broken something it’s typically because he broke that easy rule.

The Boy woke up and immediately began to make more snowflakes

So after a morning of homeschool and play we dug in to his room for the big clean out. We do this twice a year. Once before his birthday and always once before Christmas. We don’t have a lot of space for storage in our post housing and so Brooksy has to clear things out to make room for any new ones. Brooks actually enjoys going through all his things. It sure makes for lots of giggles and silliness.

Going through all The Boy's toys

After the Great Clean Out we headed into the kitchen for some styrofoam printing. I’m still new to printing, so Little B and I have learned together along the way. I love that about process oriented art… no matter what goof ups may occur it’s all a learning process and it’s all fun regardless. We can always make it work.

Using the back end of a paint brush to use indentations on the styrofoam

The Artful Parent (one of my most favorite art blogs for kiddos) had posted this link on her facebook page this week:

Using our little roller to cover the styrofoam in paint, lightly

Little B and I scrapped the card idea, since he’s already made cards to use as thank you’s for Christmas. But we loved the idea of styrofoam printing. I assured B that he could make anything he wanted on the styrofoam, using the back end of a thinner paintbrush. He surprised me when he created an evergreen forest type sketch. Very cool.

Pressing over the paper lightly with a spoon

After he used the paintbrush to press his design on the styrofoam (we upcycled the take home container from The Dead Fish Grill) I went back over his design more deeply. His smaller hands weren’t able to press nearly as far as I felt he needed to go for the print to work.

Jean, from The Artful Parent, mentioned that she used something other than tempera paint, but other than india ink, that’s all I really had on hand. Watercolors were surely not going to work. So we used our small roller brush with tempera paint right out of the container and I told The Boy to use the brush lightly to cover the styrofoam with paint, with the idea of trying to keep the paint out of the indentations.

Pulling the paper off to reveal his print

I was ready for the whole thing to be a flop (I’m a half full cup kind of girl, too). But, behold! It worked! Brooks used a spoon, like Jean advised, to carefully press the paper onto the styrofoam. And when he pulled the paper off we were left with a beautiful print!

I thought BB would want to make ten prints, at least, but he surprised me by asking to use a light blue next. So I washed everything, including the styrofoam, and he made a few blue prints. The styrofoam printing was fun, easy, and quick to put together. For Finals Week, that’s perfect in my book!

Here's BB's blue paint print

After some serious GI Joe play and some Christmas book reading, we are ready to snugggle under a bazillion covers and watch Home Alone 2. Little B is getting so excited for his Daddy to come home. It’s all he talks about. I’m so thankful that each day between now and then are full days, of fun, excitement, and some impatience as we get closer to welcoming D.Brooks home.



I love The Artful Parent. The blog is inspiring, well written, and full of ideas. In fact, when I find myself unsure of what to do with The Boy, art wise, I’m always sure to find something fun on The Artful Parent’s blog.

Here is the link:

Last year I was smitten with her blog post A Christmas Tree Advent Calendar:

Little B and I had so much creating our own advent activity tree that we vowed we’d do it again this year. I kept all the little circle ornaments so that we could reuse some of the ideas, if we so liked. When I told B what our art project for the day would be he was super excited. His favorite part was truly looking over and remembering all the fun things we did last year.

Although the ornaments on the blog are numbered, Little B likes an element of surprise to most things. He would absolutely love it if I threw him a surprise birthday party. He hints at it every year. Either way, we kept the ornaments unnumbered and B was able to randomly choose an activity each day.

With Daddy Brooks being deployed this year for some of our Activity Tree things, we decided that if B pulls off an ornament that would be best shared with our favorite Big Brooks, that we’ll then reattach the ornament and pick a new one for the day.

So after much painting, much reminiscing, and much laughter, B finished his tree and we worked on the little round ornaments.

Here are our activities for this Christmas season (and in no particular order, since we’ll be pulling these randomly):

1. Make snacks for Santa’s reindeer (B swears we’ll have to do this one towards the end because he refuses to feed Santa’s reindeer stale snacks – on a side note, we are super excited to make more mouse cookies for Santa this year)

2. Make homemade wrapping paper

3. Be a secret Santa for someone (B already has a special someone picked out)

4. Watch a Christmas movie with cocoa, homemade popcorn, and lots of blankets and pillows

5. Make candy cane reindeer for B to give to his friends

6. Make peanut butter and bird seed covered pinecones for our feathered friends

7. Create a time capsule ornament (one of our favorite ornaments that we made last year- the ornament was all about B in 2010)

8. Attend a local theater production or ballet that is Christmas related

9. Clear out bedroom of gently used toys, clothes, and winter gear to donate to charity (this year, we are going to volunteer with the Salvation Army as bell ringers as well)

10. Make a homemade gingerbread house, and some gingerbread men too!

11. Make a dangling snowman for the back door

12. Go to BLORA and see the lights!

13. Go for a walk to see the lights our neighbors have put up

14. Decorate Christmas cookies or make homemade fudge

15. Tell Christmas stories by the tree and reread favorite Christmas classics

16. Write a letter to Santa and mail; also visit Santa’s “representative” at the local mall

17. Make homemade salt dough ornaments, and send some to grandparents, and great grands.

18. Make a handprint Santa, ornament or just art piece

19. Make tons and tons of paper snowflakes to decorate with (one of B’s all time favorite winter activities)

20.Create a glue snowman tree ornament

21. Make cinnamon applesauce glue ornaments

22. Go ice skating, and invite some friends to tag along

23. Have a Christmas themed scavenger hunt

24. Make homemade gifts for each other


We are truly excited about our activity tree! The best part will be sharing many of these activities with Big Brooks when he gets back. We’re holding off on decorating and stringing lights until Brooks gets home, so in a very real sense he’s bringing the holidays with him and we will patiently await his arrival. We’re just so thankful he’ll be here with us. We don’t take it for granted, not one bitg, especially since we know so many families whose husband’s won’t be home this Christmas season. We will definitely be thinking of them as Christmas approaches.

I’ve also begun compiling a list of Christmas related outings and activities to keep us right near busy most days leading up to the big day. Really and truly, this is surely the best time of the year. I’ll post that list on the blog tomorrow.

As for the rest of our day, we had plenty of fun. I was able to speak to Brooks for a good bit today, which was nice since today was our anniversary. We tried to find Nya a boxer friend but didn’t make out in that regard. The poor thing has been having a rough time the past few days wanting to play, and as much as we play with her, she needs a boxer companion to play with her. She has tried to get Little Man to box, but ends up tipping him over and then Little Man gets upset and barks at her. We took her for a nice long walk tonight, after it grew dark, so we could admire any Christmas lights. I carried Little Man in a blanket, since we feared the walk would be too long for him. And we were lucky enough to admire many decorated Christmas trees through the windows of our neighbors homes. We love seeing how different each one is, as if they are telling a story about the home’s occupants.

We also played a fun game with The Boy’s nerf gun and a bull’s eye game that I found for clearance at the Hobby Lobby. B made it look easy, easily shooting the correct marks. Me? Not so much. Most of my darts went exactly where I wasn’t intending them to go, but boy did we have fun.

We also bake up some yummy cookies, made hot cocoa, and watched Homeward Bound. That movie always makes me cry. Cookie recipe, courtesy of The Smitten Kitchen:

Even without Brooks being here, it was certainly an amazing ten year anniversary. I am incredibly blessed to have at the very least spent it with one of my Brooks’s, and can’t wait to celebrate with Brooks when he comes home.

As always, life remains sweet, regardless of the circumstances.