Monday, December 19, 2011

Paper Plate Wreath Craft

  • plain white paper plate
  • scissors
  • green paint
  • paint brush
  • red construction paper
  • white glue
  • hole punch
  • red yarn or ribbon

  1. Cut the centre out of the paper plate. Leave at least an inch and 3/4 width for the outer rim.
  2. Discard the centre and paint the paper plate ring green. Let it dry
  3. Shred construction paper into 1/4 inch pieces. (It would be optimal to cut out nice little circles to represent the berries, but I went the quicker and easier route, and instead made little squares.)
  4. Glue the red pieces onto the green paper plate ring. (The amount and design is up to the artist.) Let dry.
  5. Decide where you want the top of your wreath to be, and punch a hole there.
  6. Thread some red string or red ribbon through the hole (you could also tie a red bow if you have the ribbon) and hang it up.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Craft: Candy Cane Tree Decorations


  • red and white pipe cleaners
  • scissors

  1. Hold a red pipe cleaner and a white pipe cleaner side-by-side, to make sure that the ends of both are level.
  2. Wind one pipe cleaner around the other until you get to the ends. If there is still some left of one of the pipe cleaners, cut it off to make the tops level.
  3. Cut the entire pipe cleaner spiral in half to make 2 smaller candy canes. 
  4. Bend each spiral near the top until you get the shape of a candy cane.
  5. Hang them on the tree.
*This just might be the easiest craft I have ever written about! Just be careful with the little ones, since pipe cleaners are sharp on the ends. The 3-year-olds could follow the instruction of holding it by the middle, and not touching the ends. But we agreed to place them high on our tree and keep them there for the safety of our 1-year-old.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Craft: Star Tree Ornament


  • 4 Popsicle sticks
  • white glue
  • craft gems (at Walmart)
  • string
  • scissors

  1. Make an "x" shape with 2 Popsicle sticks. Start with one stick positioned diagonally. Place a dab of glue on 1 Popsicle stick and gently place another on top, positioning it, as needed, to make the shape of an "x".
  2. Place a dab of glue in the centre of the top stick and glue another Popsicle stick on top, in the vertical position.
  3. Place a dab of glue in the middle of this Popsicle stick and glue the last stick on, positioning it horizontally. Carry your star of Popsicle sticks to a safe place by picking it up by the bottom stick. Let it dry.
  4. Once it is dry, it is ready to decorate with the gems. Place a little dab of glue on any flat part of a Popsicle stick and glue a gem on. (The 3-year-olds did well using a little paper plate for the glue, and a separate Popsicle stick to dip and dab. Remind them to be gentle!) Continue until you are satisfied with your ornament.
  5. Tie a knot around the middle of the ornament, and leave a few inches of string at one end. When you have the amount of string you want, cut it and tie a loop big enough to fit around the branch of a Christmas tree. 
  6. All that is left to do is to hang your star on the tree and admire it!

*Variation: We did this craft the easy way. If you would like to make an actual star shape, use 5 Popsicle sticks instead of 4. Glue them together so that they look like this:

Friday, December 9, 2011

Paper Plate Santa Claus Mask

  • paper plate
  • Elmer's white "Faux Fur" (available at Walmart)
  •  red construction paper
  • scissors
  • glue
  • Popsicle stick
  • clear plastic tape

  1. Cut a rectangular shape in the upper middle portion of the paper plate (3 and 1/2 inches from the top).  Leave about 2 inches on either side of the plate. (The rectangle should be about 5 and 1/2 inches across and 1 and 1/4 inches in height.) Cut a small semi-circle at the middle bottom of the rectangle as pictured in the photo above left.
  2. Draw and cut out a Santa hat that is about 8 and 1/4 inches wide (or as wide as the plate is just above the hole you cut out) at the bottom of the hat. As long as the hat will cover the plate, you can design it any way you think works. Just be sure to leave the tip of Santa's hat 1 inch thick (so you can place the "pom-pom" on later).
  3. Hold a piece of Elmer's Faux Fir over the bottom 2/3 of the plate, so that it covers the width and length of the plate from the top of the 'rectangle cut-out', down. Trim the outside of the beard at the sides, so that it will cover the plate, but leave an inch or two of beard on the bottom, to make Santa's beard long. Cut a rectangle out of the top of the beard, starting from 2 inches in at each side. Make it 1 and 1/4 inches deep, with a small semi-circle in the bottom middle, as you did with the plate.
  4. Cut another rectangular shaped piece of Faux Fir that is 8 and 1/2 inches across and 2 inches down.
  5. Cut a 1 and 1/2 inch wide circle out of the Faux Fir.
  6. Imagine a line running the whole width of the paper plate, directly above the rectangle cut-out. Generously apply glue everywhere above this imaginary line. Stick Santa's hat on.
  7. Generously apply glue to the entire rest of the plate. Stick Santa's beard on.
  8. Apply glue from the bottom of Santa's hat to 1 inch above, and across the entire width. Stick on the fur trim.
  9. Apply glue to the bottom inch of the tip of Santa's hat. Stick on the Faux Fir circle to represent a pom-pom.
  10. After all the glue has dried, turn the plate over and tape a Popsicle stick to the back. Make sure the stick hangs down at least 2 inches from the bottom of the plate.
*Revision for next time: I would cut a larger semi-circle at the bottom of the rectangle cut-out on the paper plate. Or perhaps I would just cut a larger rectangle out. This way, you could at least see the person's nose!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Winter Craft: Sock Snowman

*This craft is suitable for ages 2 and up. Just increase or decrease assistance depending on age.


  • 1 plain white adult sport sock about 12 inches long
  • old newspaper sheets
  • piece of white string (about 10 inches long)
  • 1 short adult sock of any colour (except white) for hat
  • 2 large googly eyes (1/2 inch)
  • black felt
  • 1 orange foam sheet (or orange felt)
  • any colour of felt for scarf
  • thin Popsicle sticks (or coffee stir sticks or brown pipe cleaners)
  • black Sharpie marker
  • scissors

  1. Take 1 sheet of newsprint at a time, and scrunch it into a ball. Stuff it into the hole of the sock and push it up all the way to the toe of the sock. Keep doing this until the sock (or at least 12 inches of it) has been filled. Cut off any remaining sock from the bottom. The newspaper should not fall out.
  2. Measure 5 inches down from the toe of the sock. Tie the white piece of string tightly around the sock to make a distinguishable head and body.
  3. Cut out a scarf for the snowman using the felt. Make it about an inch high and at least 18 inches long. (I glued two pieces together to get the right length.) Cut 3 little slits on each end of the scarf (just to make it fancy). Tie the scarf around the snowman's neck. Make sure the top of the scarf just covers the white string (so you will have enough room to make the face).
  4. Pull the black sock over the snowman's head, so that it covers 2 and 1/2 inches from the top. You can fold the sock up and under if needed.
  5. Place two dabs of glue just under the hat, and press the googly eyes on. 
  6. With the Sharpie marker, make a smile for the snowman, just above the white string, by making 6 dots in an upward semi-circle. (I did hand-over-hand with the 3-year-olds.)
  7. Cut out a triangle from the orange foam that is 1/2 an inch wide and 1 inch long. Take off the sticker backing and place it between the eyes and the mouth. (You can also glue a triangle of orange felt, the same size.)
  8. Cut out 3 black felt circles that are about 1 and 1/4 inch wide (diameter). Glue them vertically under the white string to represent buttons. 
  9. Break a thin Popsicle stick into 2 pieces that are 3 and 1/2 inches long. (Or, make two pipe cleaners of the same length.)
  10. Using your scissors, cut 2 slits on each side of the snowman, about 1 inch below the white string. Put one stick in each of the holes to represent arms. (This is a little tricky, and could take some fiddling. Perhaps pipe cleaners are a better idea! In this case, you would not need to cut with scissors at all.)
  11. Display your snowman on a shelf, or hang him from his hat!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Party Thrills and Dressing Skills

On November 13th, Aidas turned 3 years old. Noah and B. were lucky enough to be invited to the celebration, along with other friends and family of Aidas. It was great that Aldona, Aidas's mom, was able to have the party on Aidas's actual birthday. It made it even more special.

Noah and I were the last ones to arrive. (There were a couple of well-timed meltdowns just before we left our place, to slow us down.) We knew we had been holding up the party because as soon as we got there, Aidas turned to his mother and said "Now can I open presents?" She gave him the green light. His friends were happy to help him uncover his treasure! I think this S.O.S. Station Aidas received was by far his favourite. Noah has recently been talking about asking Santa for the same one for Christmas. 

We all enjoyed pizza. The adults also enjoyed a delicious salad Aldona had made. Then it was back to opening presents! Noah and I gave Aidas a Star Wars shirt, and a few Star Wars toys. (He seems to be enchanted by what little he has seen of Star Wars.) Then it was time for Diane's (Nana's) chocolate cupcakes! Here's the beautiful boy being sung to on his 3rd birthday. Happy birthday, sweet Aidas! 

Although some days have been quite mild (considering it's November, and this is Toronto), some days have been very chilly. We are officially into snowsuit season now. The kids and I have been working really hard on dressing skills (except for Oscar, of course). Now that the 3 older boys are more or less toilet trained, I expect them to at least take part in putting on and taking off: underwear, pants, snow pants, coats, and boots. They are all able to do about 80% completely on their own, with verbal instruction and encouragement. The things that sometimes hold us back have nothing to do with ability. They are more like: refusal to cooperate, fear of failing, or wanting to remain in the 'comfort zone' of having me do all this for them. While these are all completely normal responses for 3-year-olds (B. is almost 3) experiencing such a large change in their routine, I am remaining consistent in my expectations. These expectations are not that they should succeed in doing all, (or any, for that matter) of these parts of dressing on their own, but that they should at least try. So, for example, pulling their pants up to their waists is difficult for them. Still, they are expected to hold onto the pants with me (or hand-over-hand), so that they can at least get the feel, or the idea of how to accomplish this in the future. They really are doing amazing with all of this, and are happy and proud to receive stickers each day for their hard work.

As with last November, we again have an issue to battle: dog poop. It seems that starting in November, people feel they no longer need to clean-up after their pets. I have to admit that, without a yard of my own, this makes my job quite a bit more stressful. Thankfully, the 3 veterans are older and wiser. They now (usually) point out the dog poop rather than playing with it. They also understand that we can no longer play in certain areas because of this. So far, we have been pretty lucky, with only a few mishaps. Look at how happy baby Oscar is frolicking in the grass and leaves (in the video below). Thank goodness there was no dog poop here on this day!

Actually, there was a quite a bit of rolling around that day by all the kids. They were like pigs in mud. And on this occasion, Noah and Oscar were both furious with me for eventually bringing them back inside for lunch. But we like to share a bit of our drama with the neighbourhood on a daily basis. It makes us memorable. :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Santa Claus Parade

On Sunday Dan and I took Noah to his first parade: the Santa Claus Parade! We were accompanied by his daycare friend B., his mother and her friend.

The parade was to start at 12:30, and we arrived at 11am, hoping to find a front row seat. Well...this is what we got! I had read a bit online about how early one needs to get there in order to get a perfect view. One of the sites I visited said that some people arrive as early as 9am to put out chairs. As we walked east along Bloor from Christie, it became clear that this was the norm. The streets were already completely packed!

Next year we'll be smarter! Actually, where we were (between Bathurst and Spadina), there was a Tim Hortons right across the street. A good idea would be to get there early, claim your territory, then sit inside Timmy's and enjoy some coffee and a book while keeping your eye on your spot. Have your friends and/or family join you with the kids closer to starting time, because we all know how good young children are at waiting! 

Despite our vantage point, Noah didn't miss out at all. It just meant we had to hold him or put him up on our shoulders. B's mom had the genius idea of having B. stand in the stroller. We were very thankful for this less tiring approach. Noah could see the parade and our arms and shoulders could take a break!

The Muppets float was Noah's favourite. He has been watching his beloved Muppets videos for some time now, and is very excited to see the new movie in theatres soon. The float on the bottom right impressed Dan and I the most. Although the picture doesn't really do it justice, we felt it was the most eye catching of them all.

Here are a few more of my favourite parts...

Finally, we got to see Santa Claus. Noah was a bit confused about the process of speaking to Santa. I asked him if he was going to ask Santa for a fire truck (since this seems to be his current present-of-choice). As he watched Santa go by, he said with a perplexed look, "But Santa's gone". I reassured him that he would meet Santa again in Dufferin Mall in a few weeks.