Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve

image via UNE

The new year's eve is upon us once again and I'm finding myself spending most of the day in the kitchen for tonight's party. We'll be feasting on homemade pizza and cookies and the kids are drooling over everything put out on the counter.

Along with eating, chatting, playing my parent's Wii, etc. I think we'll try to fit in a new game or two. I loved this idea from a comment from Allie on MartaWrites.

What fun things will help keep you and your little ones up tonight?

Good Morning Judge
Everyone sits together without any real rhyme or reason. (Campfire is perfect, we usually just play on the deck by the ocean.) One chosen player turns his/her back to the crowd. Another chosen player is deemed "pointer". The pointer silently points to different family members (or him/herself) who take turns saying the words "Good Morning Judge" in the craziest, most disguised voices possible. After each "Good Morning Judge" the player with her back turned tries to guess who was the speaker. (I wish I could demonstrate the voices for you here, because we have come up with some really crazy ones, but I'm sure you guys won't have a problem with your own.)

Anyway, as long as the player guessing guesses the correct speaker, they get to remain the guesser. Notes: It's totally appropriate for members of the crowd to silently move around the space so as to throw off the guesser who may try to use location of the voice to try to guess the correct speaker. This game has become a tradition for us and makes me laugh harder than any other game ever has. It's really surprising and hilarious to see what your family members will come up with. Also perfect because it requires no props, hardly any energy, and can be played with any number of people.I hope you like it!

I love it.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

15 Minute : Make It : Thank You Cards

image via Martha Stewart Kids winter 2004

Create a tradition that will help instill a wonderful habit in your we all could be better at. Help your child write thank yous to those they received gifts from. Teach them the basic break-down of a letter: greeting, body and closing.


Friday, December 26, 2008

1 Hour : Know It : Celebrating Boxing Day

Boxing Day, an English observance that encourages giving to the poor, is the perfect day to clean the closets and especially the playroom. We plan to give away some of our older toys, books, and games that are still in good condition. While we're cleaning out, I'll tell the kids how this day began.

The celebration of Boxing Day, which takes place on December 26 - the feast of St. Stephen, is a part of the holiday season unique to Great Britain. Traditionally, it is on this day that the alms box at every English church is opened and the contents are distributed to the poor. Also, this is the day that servants traditionally got the day off to celebrate with their families. It became traditional for working people to break open their tip boxes on this day. Boxing Day began in the mid-nineteenth century when the custom of tipping by rich persons to persons in service positions had apparently gotten out of hand. Children and others pretended to be in the trades and solicited tips. The custom was expanded to giving to anyone and everyone who had less money than you did, and soon the streets at Christmastime were full of aggressive soliciting of tips. To contain the nuisance "Boxing Day" was designated as the one day for giving to the less fortunate. (via


Thursday, December 25, 2008

image via here
Redroko wishes you a wonderful day.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

1 Hour : Make It : Cookies For Santa

image via Martha Stewart Kids Winter 2004

What kind of cookies are you leaving for Santa?
I bet he'd really like these.
Made out of gingerbread men turned upside clever.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

1 Hour : Visit It : Christmas Bowling

Christmas Bowling??? I hear ya, not your typical holiday activity. A few years ago when my family started this tradition it felt really strange to go bowling on Christmas Eve, particularly since it is such a busy day for moms and dads. Now, it's one of our favorite family traditions.

It gives us a chance to slow the day down, not worry about any to-do list and allows the kids an opportunity to get out some of their Christmas jitters and just have a great time.

My kids look forward to this activity every Christmas Eve. Try may find yourself (and your kids) relaxed (gasp!) on one of the busiest days of the year.


1 Hour : Make It : Confetti Eggs

New Years Eve is right around the corner. How do you celebrate it with your children? Do you let them stay up late... or do you turn the clocks forward so they think it's midnight when really it's only 10:00?
This Martha Stewart craft is inexpensive...and something the kids can make on New Years Eve day to get them excited about bringing in the New Year.
As you're making the last of your Christmas goodies be sure to save the eggs you use. And don't forget, you've got to crack them just right (only the tops off).

Confetti Eggs How-To:
Crack open the tops of raw eggs. Drain the contents into a bowl, and save for another purpose. Wash out the shells, and let dry completely. Confetti is available at crafts stores, or you can make your own with a hole punch and construction paper. Fill shells one-third full with confetti, about 2 tablespoons per egg. Cut circles out of tissue paper to cover the holes. Run a thin line of glue around hole, and affix tissue-paper circle.


Monday, December 22, 2008

15 Minutes : Read It : The Night Before Christmas

image via

"The Night Before Christmas" is a must-read favorite every year in our family. Jan Brett's illustrations are excellent, cozy, and nostalgic; my children enjoy examining the side pictures on each page.


15 Minutes : Play It : Candy Cane Hockey

image via here
A use for some of the Christmas candy your kids have accumulated: play simple table hockey with the candy cane as hockey sticks and a Skittle/Smartie/M&M as a puck. Show beginners how to aim for a goal; encourage older players to create rules, boundaries, and point systems. My kindergartener played this game with her friends at their class party, and I don't believe I've seen candy last so long.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

15 Minute : Make It : Gift Wrapping Ideas

images via Martha Stewart Kids winter 2004

If you are like me you have most of the gifts wrapped under the tree but haven't added the finishing touches of ribbon and tags. This year I want to be a a little different so that is why I am considering these creative Martha Stewart ideas. Children love feeling like they are helping and the great thing with this idea is they really can be a BIG help!
Check with your local office supply store...sometimes it only takes a few days to create a stamp. If not, have your child individually color the tags, cards, or paper. They will feel so proud and Grandma and Grandpa will LOVE it.

Stamped Stationary
Let kids make their mark on the holidays in the form of cards, gift tags, and wrapping paper; it's quick work with a custom-made rubber stamp. Have your child draw an image in marker. Then have it replicated on a stamp at an office supply store (it takes only a few days).


15 Minutes : Read It : Santa's First Flight

image via

Santa's First Flight is a silly, quirky story of young Santa's troubles when he ventures out for the first time. The clever rhymes tell of nervous, frightened townspeople who set up precautions against this stranger, and of Santa's subsequent kind persistence. Creative, giggle-inducing, and a surprising (but very welcome) message of goodness, grace, and kids love this new addition to their Christmas book collection.
Tricky to find, but you can buy it here and here.


Friday, December 19, 2008

1 Hour : Make It : Gingerbread Houses

Last night we decorated gingerbread houses with our neighbors. Some made their houses out of real gingerbread, some brought pre-made kits and most used graham crackers. We had green, red and white frosting all with decorating tips and all sorts of candies to choose from.
It is fun to see what creative things people come up with.

Encourage your children to count out their candies, sort them in colors, or create a pattern (red, white, red white).
Who would've thought that such an educational activity would involve candy and frosting.

Here are some of the candies we used:
red hots
candy canes
tootsie rolls

Have Fun!


Thursday, December 18, 2008

1 Hour : Make It : Gumdrop Pops

Create fun candy pops with this idea from Martha Stewart. It's great as a holiday activity or to make with your kids to give as gifts to their friends.

Stack gumdrops, dot them with sprinkles and other candies in creative ways, and watch the colorful confections come to life as snowmen, Santas, and other icons of the season. Wrap the candy pops in cellophane bags, and then attach them to gifts or slip them into stockings. Or create a holiday display: Partially fill a large glass jar with sanding sugar, and stand the figurines on flower frogs in the sparkling "snow." Slide gumdrops onto candy sticks to create body of each pop.

For Santa: Use top half of 1 small gumdrop for hat. Trim 2 oblong candies for arms. Use candy-coated seeds for buttons and pom-pom. Poke candy where facial features will go with a skewer; use sticky tip to pick up and place nonpareils for eyes and nose.

For Tree: Use 1 flattened gumdrop for base of tree. Use 1 small gumdrop for trunk. Cut sides from 1 gumdrop; press sides around top of stick, for treetop. Flatten 1 gumdrop; using an aspic cutter, cut out star. Insert sprinkles for lights.

For Snowman: Trim top of head; top with 1 candy wafer and half of 1 small gumdrop for hat. Using a skewer (see "For Santa"), place nonpareils for eyes, mouth, and buttons. Insert sprinkle for nose.

For Holly: Use halves of small gumdrops for berries.For Mushroom: Use 1 small gumdrop for stem. Use sequin sprinkles for dots.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

15 Minute : Know It : Gingerbread

Gingerbread originated in Europe many many years ago. It came in many different varieties - crispy, chewy, spicy, sweet, flat and fluffy. It was known as a delicacy and only the finest professionals made it. Throughout the years the value and purpose of gingerbread has changed and in America it has evolved into a Christmas tradition.
Today we are most familiar with gingerbread during Christmas time because of the gingerbread man and gingerbread houses.

Click here for a Gingerbread man coloring page.

information via


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

15 Minutes : Know It : The North Pole

image via wagglearena

Did you know that the North Pole is the most northern place on the Earth? That's why it's called the North Pole. Makes sense doesn't it! Besides knowing that Santa Clause and his elves live there, did you know that there are no trees at the North Pole because the ground is made entirely of ice? It's true.
Here are five more cool facts about the North Pole that you might not have known...

* The average temperature at the North Pole is zero degrees- about thirty-seven degrees colder than the inside of you refrigerator.

* The North Pole is not as chilly as the South Pole. Water underneath the icy North Pole helps keep the temperature warmer.

* The first explorer reached the North Pole in 1909. Now it has about 200 visitors each year.

* It's light out twenty-four hours a day in summer, and dark all winter.

* The North Pole gets so little rain or snow that it is actually a desert.

facts via Martha Stewart Kids 2004


Friday, December 12, 2008

1 Day : Visit It : A Christmas Carol

image via

The beautiful story of "A Christmas Carol" brings a sweet Christmas spirit whether I read the book or see the play (or often, both). Going to the local production of Dickens' classic is a tradition in our family, so we're off to the theater as soon as possible. This year we're taking our 9-year old as well.

In my town, "A Christmas Carol" plays at Hale Center Theater nightly (except Sundays) until December 23rd. Matinees are also available. (Tidbit: a member or the RedRoko family plays Mrs. Cratchit this year.)


Thursday, December 11, 2008

15 Minutes : Know It : Christmas in Chile

image via flickr

In Chile, Santa Claus is called Viejo Pascuero, or Old Man Christmas. In some areas, he strongly resembles Santa Claus in a red and white outfit and comes in a reindeer-drawn sleigh. However, he climbs in windows since chimneys aren't large in this warm climte. In other areas, Viejo Pascuero is seen as a local rancher and is often in the company of a llama. December and Christmas also fall in the summer months in Chile, so children are out of school and the weather is warm.

The midnight mass on Xmas Eve is where most of the people and families go. Afterwards, the families celebrate Holiday Dinner together. This meal often includes azuela de ave, a chicken soup filled with potatoes, onions and corn on the cob and pan de pasqua, a Christmas bread filled with candied fruit similar to fruit cake. Afterwards, the gifts are unwrapped and everyone stays up till the wee hours of the morning.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

15 Minutes : Know It : Reindeer

Did you know Reindeer are the only deer species in which both sexes grow antlers? Adult males shed their antlers every fall and females and adolescents, every spring. Therefore, any reindeer you spy pulling Santa's sleigh are either females or young males.
Source: Martha Stewart Magazine Dec 2008 p.41


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

1 Hour : Play It : Christmas Movie Night

Along with decorating the tree, wrapping presents and caroling...Christmas time means Christmas movies. Every year when I pull out the Christmas movies I become all giddy inside! They have become such a fun part of celebrating the Christmas season. We love to decorate our tree followed by a movie.
Snuggle up with your children and enjoy one this weekend.

Here is my list of top 10 Christmas movies...for ALL ages.

Polar Express

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

A Charlie Brown Chrismas

A Muppet Christmas Carol

How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Frosty The Snowman

Miracle On 34th Street

It's A Wonderful Life

All I Want For Christmas

A Christmas Story


Monday, December 8, 2008

1 Hour : Visit It : Festival of Lights

image via

Be sure not to miss the Festival of Lights at the Tuacahn Amphitheater this year. Everything is decorated with pretty lights and there are lots of things to do. You can sit on Santa's lap, enjoy good snacks and hot chocolate with an open fire, take a ride on the holiday train, or watch the live Nativity which includes live animals. Tuacahn is known for their outdoor amphitheater and the amazing productions they put on during the summer time. This is no exception. Bundle up and come!
For more info visit their site HERE.

Festival of Lights featured every Thurs, Fri, Sat, Mon until Christmas and is free to the public.
Santa will be there from 6:30 - 8:00

Live Nativity 7:00 & 8:00
$2 per ticket or $10 per family

Holiday Trainride
$1 per ticket

Tuacahn consessions will be open


Friday, December 5, 2008

1 Hour : Make It : Peppermint Ornaments

This is a fun ornament project from Martha Stewart that you can also eat! For little kids, use the project to talk about colors (red and white) and shapes (circles). With older children you can discuss taste and where peppermint flavor comes from.

How to:
Lay five or so peppermint candies in a circle to form a wreath; bond sides together with icing. Adorn front with cinnamon candies or mints. Let dry two hours before hanging. Loop twine around ornament; knot.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

15 Minutes : Know It : Christmas in Italy

image via
We know the jolly old man, who rides a sleigh to bring us gifts, as Santa Claus but to Italians they know someone else...her name is La Befana. She is a good witch who rides on her broomstick to deliver gifts to good girls and boys after Christmas, on January 6. It was said that the three kings told her that baby Jesus was born but she was too busy and her trip to visit him was delayed. She missed the bright shining star and lost her way and has been flying around ever since (just like Santa Claus is always watching) leaving presents for the good girls and boys and a lump of coal for the bad ones.

The Italian Christmas season is celebrated for 3 weeks and is filled with traditions for families and children. Some similar to American traditions and some not.

The celebrating starts 8 days before Christmas and is called Novena. Children go from house to house reciting poems and singing.

In some parts shepherds bring musical instruments into the villages, play and sing Christmas songs.

In the week before Christmas children go from house to house dressed as shepherds, playing pipes, singing and reciting Christmas poems. They are given money to buy presents.

A strict feast is observed for 24 hours before Christmas Eve, and is followed by a celebration meal, in which a light Milanese cake called panettone features as well as chocolate.

Presents and empty boxes, are drawn from the Urn of Fate - lucky dip, which always contains one gift per person. By twilight, candles are lighted around the family crib known as the Presepio, prayers are said, and children recite poems.

At noon on Christmas Day the pope gives his blessing to crowds gathered in the huge Vatican square.

In Italy the children wait until Epiphany, January 6, for their presents. According to tradition La Befana, a good witch, delivers them on her broomstick to all the good girls and boys.

info via


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

1 Hour : Visit It : Food Bank

image via meridianumc
The holidays are certainly a time for us to reflect on what we have been blessed with and to remember those who may be in need. Sadly, due to stressful economic times, too many of our community families are in want of basic necessities.
It's important for children (as well as adults) to understand how much we have been given and how vital it is to give back. That's why, along with having my kids help me collect food for our local food drives, we'll be taking a tour of our local food bank. Our food bank offers a special family night activity this month where they teach about local poverty and offer a tour of the food bank and a service activity.
At a time when toys run rampant and cookies abound remember those who find themselves a little hard on their luck this year and give back this holiday season.


Monday, December 1, 2008

1 Hour : Make It : Christmas Chain

With little non-calendar readers at our house, a Christmas chain to count down the days is absolutely necessary. Because everyone wants their fair chance to tear off the day's link, we have come up with this solution: A few days before December 1st, we go to the craft store where each of my children chooses his/her favorite Christmas scrapbook paper. We cut the papers into strips and then staple or tape the links together in a fair, alternating pattern. So, of course, whatever link is up on a given night is removed by the child who chose that paper. This system works beautifully for us because, I think, even the littlest can see that his turn will come with his own special paper.