The Thankful Post

Happy Thanksgiving Eve, everybody! Things have finally died down here, with the Book Fair complete for another year and a few days off to enjoy the holiday. I get to hang out with the little guy today while Dave works one more day, then tomorrow it’s time to watch the parade (one of my favorite parts of the day! Especially the Broadway performances), eat a big breakfast, then head off to eat with our families for the “big meal” and dessert.

We’ve talked to Monkey about what this special holiday means, and it’s been a great opportunity to open his mind to the idea that we’ve super lucky (and some people aren’t). It looked like I nearly blew his mind when I explained to him that we’re so very lucky to have a house and food, and that some people, even little two-year-old boys, DON’T. *kerpow*

I thought it’d be fun to share a couple of simple, last-minute ideas for the holiday to help friends and family get hands-on sharing their thankfulness this Thanksgiving. This year, we’ll just be having a family talk or two about the things that we’re lucky and happy about, but I can’t wait to try some of these out in the future!


Some of these are simple enough to throw together in less than fifteen minutes, and will help you and your guests remember – amid the craziness of getting a meal together and trying to pull everything together – that the day is about more than perfecting your recipes and using your best china. And feel free to use these as jumping off points; do whatchya can!



Thankful Tree

Brown Paper Thankfulness

 
Gratitude Jar (and Chains)
(With free printable! Couldn’t be easier, really.)



Thankful Chalkboard Wall
(Could also be brown paper on the wall, easy peasy!
And I’d suggest using an old chalkboard if you have one, but that depends on if you’re cooking a turkey and have the time to make one from scratch. ;-))


Thanksgiving Light
(You could also do this on a white paper bag half-filled with sand. Just insert a candle and light. Luminaries always make me cry, but that’s another story!)



Frame of Blessings


Or, after discussing your blessings, have a “did you know” session about the history of Thanksgiving. Watch this brief video for a bit of the background. (They didn’t have pumpkin pie or sweetened cranberries due to the lack of sugar in the “new land.”) It’s also a good reminder of the original natives who were trusting enough to help the Puritans settle and successfully plant in their new, treacherous conditions. Anyhoo, we’re weird; we watch a different, lengthier documentary every year (sometimes twice) about Thanksgiving (and Halloween and Christmas, for that matter.) You could turn it into a Trivial Pursuit type game, if your guests are into it!

However you celebrate, whether you’re giving thanks openly (saying “grace” always made me terribly nervous as a kid!) or just using the holiday as an excuse to enjoy a great meal with your favorite people, my family and I wish you the happiest of days!

Flashing What We Know

I recently mentioned falling in love with a few homemade birthday presents for our monkey. Thank you, dear friend Pinterest. I call her “Pinny” and she looks remarkably like Kaley Cuoco (whatever her married last name is, I can’t be bothered to Google) in my head. Pinny’s my new enabling BFF.

Anyhoo, one of the super easy projects I just HAD to stay up past midnight working on was the toddler flashcards. See, the kid’s a toddler genius (but what mom doesn’t think that, really?) who is starting to pick words out (for real), LOVES reading, and knows tons of letters, numbers, and animal sounds. Kid’s got it goin’ on, thanks to his Grandma’s diligent work with him daily. So, I don’t want all her hard work to go down the toilet while he’s lazing about spending intellectually stimulating summer days with me.

So, I spent some time on PicMonkey making and saving a few sets of flashcards. Here are a few wicked easy samples (not the whole sets, that’d be cray-cray):

Numbers!

Shapes!
(Boring as all get-out with the gray, but didn’t want to detract.
Side note: I did a rhombus AND separate diamond. We’ll throw the spaghetti on the wall and see which one sticks. Child-led learning. ;-))


Matching Game!
(Printing an extra set of the above shapes, he has to match them to the “real life” objects; moon goes with “crescent”, by the way. I’m tricky. I would accept star there, too, though.)

Colors!


Now, to print, *evenly* cut, and laminate them! Actually…first, to head to my mom’s basement to track down my tiny old laminator. *wink, wink*

By the way, I’m still thinking of making up a few cards for matching with colors as well as a set of friends ‘n family ones with pictures and names (especially to learn the folks who love us who happen to live far away, or whom we just don’t get to see often).

I am wondering, though — the game ones I’m obviously going to keep loose for matching purposes, but the others I’m thinking of putting on a metal ring. Whatchya think? Loose or ready-for-car-use?

More Homemade Birthday Ideas

Okay. It’s June, folks. In our neck of the woods, that means a couple of things.

1) Inventory in the library. (Also see — “I don’t care, I’m wearing flip flops and yucky clothes everyday. Try and test me.”)

2) School’s going to be done…sooner rather than later. Side note: Where the HECK did this year go?!

3) Hadley’s birthday will be upon us like *snap* THAT. Seriously, the more work I have to get done at school, the faster the time goes. That’s a written law in the time-space continuum.

So, of course I’ve been hunting down some stuff for the big day. Well. Kind of.

More like…gifts. On Pinterest.

Wait, what? Gifts on Pinterest?? What the…how?

See, I know the Hadman gets a lot of…stuff…for his big day. I’m quite sure Dave and I will have a mini shopping spree for a couple of outfits and a book or two, and I think we’ve already sneaked a couple of toys on a trip to Toys ‘R Us. We’re normal, after all. *bugs out eyes, sticks out tongue*

But, after I realized I wanted to get him some felt play food (that plastic stuff’s okay, but this is a tad cooler…and a touch more earth friendly), and maybe some letters and/or numbers and/or shapes while we were at it…well, of course my attention turned to Pinterest and that old stand-by search term: “DIY.” Here’s the “Kid Fun” board I’ve been pinning to.

A few days later, I found myself in possession of a stack of cheap, CHEAP felt (made from recycled bottles, nonetheless!) with dreams of these inspiration images dancing in my head:

 

Sorry, no source available!
(Please let me know if this was your idea, I’d like to give credit!)

Source
(So simple, so genius!)
 
Source
(My fave!)
Awesome ideas, right?? I’m holding off on making a pretend kitchen until he shows more interest (and we have a bigger space for it).

The next inspiration came from the FABULOUS job my mother-in-law has been doing with teaching Hadley his letters and numbers. She uses flashcards as well as alphabet books, so I figured it’d be useful to have some around the house this summer. Enter Pinterest, once again.

It’s funny. PicMonkey is my favorite blogging tool for images lately. You’d think I would’ve connected the dots in my mind to say, “Doy! You should use that to make some flashcards for the Hadman!” Der dee der! Silly me. But, this site right here figured it out for me. Thanks, Mommy’s Craft Obsession!

The inspiration from this site also lead me to think about making “friends and family” flash cards. Y’know, with family members’ faces and names so he can learn about all the people who love him…and to realize that the only “Bill” in his life isn’t the weather man. (Sorry, Uncle Bill!) In his defense, “Mr. Bill” is a family friend.

The other cool thing here is that I purchased a small laminator back in the day (in my elementary ed. days) that will help these suckers last for any possible future kids that come down the line. Look at me working smarter, not harder!

The last handmade thing I’m thinking about would probably be a “sometime this summer” rather than “for your birthday” idea.


Couldn’t you just DIE?! I LOVE how she made these — right down to the color and use of lima beans (instead of sand, which we all KNOW will end up EVERYWHERE)! I could totally see these living on our back porch. Plus, since they’re made with a couple of Rubbermaid containers, you can easily put a top on them to keep them safe from the elements. *swoon*

Now, let’s see if I can handle that project.

And the invitations. Yeah, I probably should get on those, huh?

(If you’d like to know what we’re planning for the monkey, check out my post announcing our second birthday theme.)