Monday, November 28, 2011

Learning at Home: A Toddler-Friendly Tree

     If you have ever gone to story time at the library, or if your child goes to preschool, you should be familiar with felt boards. They are a great learning/play tool for kids. You can use them for so many things: like telling a story, demonstrating shapes and sizes, as a place for dress-up dolls, or for counting games and learning letters. The possibilities are endless. Basically, they are both a great visual and hands-on learning aid for a wide range of ages and developmental levels. If you ever want to see examples of felt boards, just google "felt boards" and you will see a bazillion examples. 
     Going off the concept of a felt board, we made a felt Christmas tree! I just cut out the shape of a Christmas tree out of a big piece of felt (you can get felt at any craft store) and tacked it to the wall in Adoration's room.  I cut a star out and some circles for the "ornaments." You could go fancy and make more intricate ornaments (especially if you like to sew,) but I just kept it simple. And there you have it: a toddler friendly Chirstmas tree. 
     Adoration has loved playing with it, "decorating" and "un-decorating" her tree. Whenever she tries to take ornaments off our real tree, I say, "let's go play with YOUR tree!" Then I redirect her to her room, and we play with her tree for awhile. It actually works pretty well! So not only is it a fun activity, but a distraction from tearing all the ornaments of our tree. ;) To extend the learning elements, emphasize the shapes and colors during your child's play. Happy decorating! 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Holiday Happenings.

We've had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday around these parts. It was a much needed reprieve from the daily grind. To kick it off, on Wed. night, we took a little trip down to Miami to see the Black Eyed Peas! James
got the tickets off Living Social. And it's not like we are the Black Eyed Peas number #1 fan or anything, but  they are fun, and we needed a little fun in our life. And what better way than to go to an unpretentious, stadium dance party, hosted by the one and only Will-I-am? James' parents watched Adoration for the evening, and off we went, to dance all our cares away. 

And umm....not gonna lie, it was off the chain. Soooo fun. And we danced our lil' booties off. 

On the way to the show. Being goofy. 
 Stadium club. 
 Stadium stars. 

The next day, we hosted our first full Thanksgiving meal. The in-laws were in town and some friends who weren't able to be with family stopped by as well. I have to admit, I was pretty excited about it. It felt like some kind of adult right-of-passage or something. 

Hello, my name is Kristina, I cooked an entire Thanksgiving meal. I am now officially a grown-up.  

The menu. I added in some lemon-garlic asparagus to add some greens. 
Bread cubes for the stuffing. 

I gave James the job of buttering up the turkey. Butter is my secretweapon. It is the secret to truly moist turkey. We mixed butter with spices and stuffed it up underneath the skin of the turkey. Then I stuffed it with orange,lime, bay leaves and garlic. Then I poured boubon all down in the bottom of the pan. Then I made a maple glaze to pour on top. 
And to toot my own horn:
Ya'll this turkey was damn good. It made some damn good gravy too. One of our friend's said it was the best turkey he had ever had. James was practically drinking the gravy.
*pats self on back.*
Unfortunately, I failed to get a picture of the finished product. 
It was a thing of beauty though. 

The table on the patio. The weather down here in So Flo is 
delicious right now. I love that we had Thanksgiving outside! 

Starting a tradition: Turkey day corn hole. 

Like I said, it was a lovely holiday. Adoration got lots of good lovin' from her grandparents. We spent
Friday morning on the beach watching surfers (NOT shopping.) And today we are relaxing in this glorious weather. How did ya'll spend the holiday?

* And with holiday shopping in full swing, I wanted to mention this store. One of my sweet follower's is selling some of her clothes. She has lots of great stuff, including brands every one loves, like anthropologie. And this Mark Jacobs coat, which I'm drooling over. So go check it out!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving, everyday.

Our Friday activities: these black Friday lines sure are long. 

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, here is my obligatory "thankful" post. I actually do a lot of gratitude posts here on the blog, mostly focusing more on the "little things." Because sometimes when it seems like a lot of the big  things are falling apart, there are little rays of hope and sunshine every day to help keep me going. 

But this post is about the bigger things. In fact, of all the things that bring me joy
every day, these are the things that I am most grateful for:

My faith. I know that no matter what, I am my Father's daughter and that He loves me with an everlasting love and that in this messed up, broken world, that He is always good and never changes. That in Jesus, I see the face of God, and His loving ways revealed to my heart. He has never, ever failed me. I am so thankful for His love for me that is deeper than any ocean and stronger than any power in earth or in heaven.

My husband and my daughter.  They are such tangible, good gifts. If people were made in the image of God, well then, these people were sent personally to me to help reveal to me His face. I love them with the fiercest of loves, and gratitude rises up in my heart every time I look at them. They are my sweetest gifts and I try to hold them with open hands.

Family. Like lots of families, mine is pretty messy, but I love them, and I know they love me, and I don't take them for granted. 

My friends. I've been particularly grateful for my friends these days. Even though we still don't know many people or have many friends down here in Florida, my sweet friends have been so supportive, even from afar. Just knowing that they got my back brings me so much comfort. They are my soul sisters and I love them. 

And I'm thankful for life, health, freedom, a roof over my head and food to eat, and all those "little things" that really do make my world go round. 

I hope all of you had a happy Thanksgiving full of family, love, gratitude, and yummy food. Let's not forget the food. :) 


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Learning at Home: Ice Cube Sensory Play

     I've got to be honest with you, I've been kind of slacking on our "learning activities" around here.
It's been crazy and I just haven't had the mental capacity to do much planning.  But really, the whole point of this feature is to make learning activities for babies/toddlers/preschoolers accessible to every one.  To prove that you don't have to be super-mom or super-teacher to do it. Well friends, I am neither. 

     Most learning activities are deceptively simple. Which is good, because even on the worst days, I can handle simple. Case in point: this activity. All I did was throw some ice cubes in a container. And it provided a good 30 minutes of sensory play ( some, walk away, come back, play some more.)  I realize ice cube sensory play may be bad timing for November, but hey, we live in Florida! Get creative though, you can turn just about anything into sensory play. 

Ice cubes, some water, measuring cups, spoons, and a little food coloring (if you add color, I recommend washable watercolor paint cause the food dye stained our hands!)

I made a makeshift sensory table using our lego table and a baking pan. I just blocked the pan in with 
some legos so it wouldn't slide around. This way Adoration could stand up and play. 

She decided it would be fun to deposit the ice cubes all over our patio. 

Then she added some legos. Always more fun with legos. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Adoration was eating an after-nap snack, a load of laundry was half finished,
I was in the middle of washing dishes, I needed to start dinner,
and most of my to-do list remained unchecked. I took one look out the window at 
the beautiful blue sky and made up my mind.

Sometimes you just got to drop everything
 and go to the beach. 

Good decision. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Learning at Home: Button Play

Every now and then, I bring out my bag of buttons for Adoration, as a play activity. 
This is a great way for the little one's to practice their fine motor skills.

I just spread some craft paper out on the floor (makes for easier clean-up,) bring out containers/bowls,
muffin tins, empty egg carton's, and dump some buttons out for play. Adoration loves sorting through them and filling all the little containers. 

You can extend this concept further for older kids. Have them sort buttons in the muffin tins, by color or size. You could even turn it into a counting game. 

Disclaimer: buttons are a choking hazard (duh,) so I would only recommend this activity for those past the oral sensory stage (aka: the "I put everything in my mouth" stage.) Even though Adoration doesn't put things in her mouth anymore, I still watch her like a hawk during this activity, just in case she gets any crazy ideas. 

(Ignore crappy picture quality. I was working with bad light.) 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Gifts and Gratitude

Life lately....has been...well...interesting. We've been having to deal with some hard, ugly things
on several different levels.  When it rains, it pours, as they say. Those stories aren't really mine to tell though, but I can say it has felt like a hurricane has been raging around, with my little family fighting to stay within the place of the peaceful eye. I am learning that peace = trust. And that there is always Beauty to be found.

I just started reading the book, One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp. I first heard about it through a wise friend, always beyond her years. In so many ways, I feel like this book verbalizes what God has been teaching me the last five years; that God is always good, the power of naming, that even in the desert there is always manna to be found, that He is always present if we could just but open our eyes to see Him, and that out of that seeing comes Joy. In the book, Ann chronicles her gratitude to God for the gifts in her life. Giving thanks for everything from curls of cheese on a cutting board to the perfection of her children's faces. It is probably the most well-timed book I have ever read, acting as a seal on my own journey through the desert to a place of Joy. 

The past few years I've been practicing the heart of the book in my own way,trying to see God in the "little" things. In a way, that is what this blog has been...the love letters to daughter and God. But now, inspired by the book, I am consciously chronicling it, and by chronicling it, giving my gratitude and adoration to the gift-giver. And just like my daughter's name, Adoration Joy: out of our Adoration, comes Joy. Here is a peek of my lately gratitude:

South Florida sunsets, painting the sky perfect. 

Clean little booties that bubble up my laughter. 

Giant trees and a grace-full sister-in-law. 

Bringing blessed autumn to Florida: soup and crusty bread, fills stomach and soul. 

Little one's play, tucking Kitty in for nap. 

seafood by the water, delicious breezes, and twinkly lights. 

Cool salty breezes, sun toasting shoulders, and surfers conquering waves. 

Inhaling scent of spices at market. 

palm tree hallways. 

Always, and forever, this face. 

My loving husband; strong, and sure, and steady in the face of waves that break against shores. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


It is true that some holiday festivities are just more magical with little's.
And dressing up tiny people is just sooo much fun! 

Our first stop on our Halloween day of festivities was the library for some laid-back celebrations. I wanted to save her Tiger Lily costume for the main event, so she just wore her regular clothes with bunny ears and  some painted whiskers on her face. This little one LOVES the library. Books and people are her favorite things and the library usually has both, so she is always pumped to be there. She thinks she is the library's personal greeter or something. Every person she see's, she's all, "hi! hi!" Can't. handle. it. 

In the evening, instead of going trick or treating, we went to a fall festival at a local church. Our neighborhood is practically a retirement community so not the best trick-or-treating environment. Everybody had their lights off (lame.) So a fall festival was the next best thing. Adoration LOVED carrying her little bucket and getting candy to put in it. She had no clue the candy was for eating, she just thought it was a super fun game. 

Sleepy bunny. after the library. 

My lil' Tiger Lily. 
                                                                         At the festival.

Back home, going through her loot.
                                                    Morning after. Candy still makes a fun toy.
                                                   and we ended the festivities with some morning
                                                                cuddles and "Mary Poppins."

Hope all you lovelies had a happy Halloween!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


I was soooo excited about Adoration's Halloween costume this year. I'm a big fan of Peter Pan. So much so, that I almost had "Neverland" as Adoration's birthday party theme. Instead, we just went pretty simple for her party and didn't really have much of a theme. I was kinda of bummed out that we missed out on the opportunity for Adoration to be "Tiger Lily" though. So with Halloween and the opportunity to dress up coming round, I just knew it was the perfect time for Adoration to be Tiger Lily. I think she makes the cutest little "Tiger Lily" ever. 

Her costume didn't cost me a cent and was super easy to make. 
her shoes: we already had them.
dress: a romper out of her closet.
poncho: I cut out a square from an old, jersey tank top. I turned it so one of the points pointed down, and folded it in half (to make a triangle.) I cut a hole on the crease, and cut fringe all around. For the pattern on the poncho, I just cut shapes out of some felt I had in my craft supplies. I ironed it on with some iron-on paper (no sewing!) 
I'm kinda in love with her poncho...would it be too much to just have her wear it as regular clothes?
feather tassel: I used a strip of leather cord (from a necklace of mine) and tied feathers on the ends. Adoration wore it around her neck, with the ends hanging down. 
headband: a strip from the same tank top, tied around her head, with found feathers stuck through her hair in the back. 

Enjoy the rest of our "Neverland" pictures!

Want to see her costume from last year? She was just the cutest little itty at four months old. 
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