DIY Printable Watercolor Advent Calendar

With December just around the corner, I thought I would share with you this printable watercolor illustrated advent calendar to make each day until Christmas more fun. This is something that your older kids can help you put together, and the artsy boxes can be displayed on a table with other Christmas decorations or stacked against the wall. You can print these individual boxes or I created one more option where you can print the numbers on sticker paper (or regular paper and glue them) and buy already made boxes.  

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21 Quality Wind Instruments for toddlers and children

As Christmas draws closer and closer, I've been looking for musical instruments. Sure, everyone from Fisher Price, to Doug and Melissa, to even the fancier European wooden toy companies offer musical toys. But I'm looking at things that transcend the idea of a musical noise maker that's only good from ages 3-6. So here I begin my roundup of the very best child-friendly instruments I can find - they will have great sound quality, they will often be Fair Trade, and they can even be used by adults. My first installment will be wind instruments. Many are ages 3 and up, some are 6 and up, but some could certainly be used with supervision in younger children.

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Sharing Newborn Night Duty

I recently shared what a 24 hour period is like for us right now with 4 week old twins. What I didn't get into is how Mr. H and I are choosing to divide up baby duties overnight.

The first few nights at home with the twins were rough. The babies were up non-stop, Mr. H and I were exhausted, and we alternated between stumbling around in exhaustion to bickering with one another in frustration. It wasn't good! Finally, we hatched a plan that would help us each get a long stretch of sleep.

I also try and get sleep during the day when I can!

Around 6/6:30pm we start getting all of the kids ready for bed. We've found it's easiest to divide and conquer: one of us will focus on getting Miss H ready for bed (potty, teeth, tub, pajamas, stories, bed) while the other will focus on the twins (pajamas, bottles, swaddles, and into rock-n-plays).

After prepping a pitcher of formula and filling some bottles for overnight, along with any other kitchen clean up that's needed, I get ready for bed. My goal is to be in bed and asleep by 8pm. From that point, this is what we do (this is an example schedule if things are perfect):

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25 DIY Advent Calendars

I have never done an advent calendar before. Truthfully I never even heard of one until a few years ago. But now that I have kids, every holiday seems more fun and magical, and at this age it's fun to see their excitement and anticipation build for these special celebrations. Drake has been talking about Christmas, especially his elf who is scheduled to visit again after Thanksgiving since early October, so I feel like this year he really understands the idea of the coming holidays. He is learning months and days of the week at school so that helps when we tell him Christmas only happens in December and he knows December follows after November. I would love to try an advent calendar with Drake & Juliet and I always love a good DIY, so I have been scouring the web to look for ideas.

I love this muffin tin advent simply because it's simple. I already own a muffin tin and a hole punch so it wouldn't take me long to whip up at all. I found these tiny little animal erasers on Amazon and think this might be perfect for my animal loving Drake. I can't imagine his anticipation everyday to see what new animal shows up in his tin. I don't love the idea of doing little gifts every Christmas since Christmas is already pretty gift laden, but I also know the wonder of childhood will only last so long too, so maybe it's best to enjoy it when they are young enough to still appreciate the magic as well.

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What To Do About Winter Hat Hair

Winter hat hair. It's sorta like a big messy Monday that happens almost everyday of the winter - it's unavoidable and inevitable. So after, blankity-blank (I'm modest like that) years "enjoying" (cough) winters, I have sorta figured out how to deal with messy winter hair. Or at least how to ignore it, but ignoring is still a coping skill, and when it comes to hair I don't think it's an unhealthy one. *The above image is from Cara Loren, who makes winter hat hair look pretty darn amazing.

Here are a few great hairstyles to help with that that inevitable hat hair....

- This is a great style if you wear a lot of scarves. Keep that hair off your neck to avoid that nape of the neck hair bird's nest. I know you know what I'm talking about. If your hair isn't crazy thick (and if it is, I'm personally very jealous), this should fit nicely under a winter hat and stay pretty well intact all day. And hey look, there is even a tutorial from Camille Styles.

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10 Minute Salted Caramel Popcorn

Mr. O and I have a wicked sweet tooth, and we're always on the lookout for new snack ideas. While I'm always game for a batch of chocolate chip cookies or a heaping bowl of ice cream, sometimes I'm craving something a little bit different. I came across this recipe for salted caramel popcorn from Gordon Ramsey, and after seeing the ingredients required (only 6!) and the time needed (10 minutes!), I knew I had to give it a try. And while the instructions might sound a bit complicated, I promise, once you've tried it, you'll be whipping up caramel corn for every occasion.

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The Elf on the Shelf... Does Good Deeds

It started almost four years ago when Mini Michelangelo was gifted an Elf on the Shelf. It seemed innocent enough—every day the elf would hang out in your house, watching the going-ons... then every night he or she would fly back to the North Pole and report in to Santa. The next morning, we would awake to discover the elf in a new perch, ready to see what the new day brought.

Simple enough. (If you were accepting of the fact that Santa had essentially sent a spy to your house for the season. But that's a conversation for another day, no?!)

But. Kids talk. And apparently, some of these elves were very, very "silly." (I personally would call them naughty... but tomato/tomahto.) Mini wondered why his elf wasn't silly! His elf just jumped from spot to spot. He wasn't TPing the tree, or drawing mustaches on the family portraits, or eating all the cookies in the cookie jar. Heck, sometimes he even fell asleep watching Law & Order and found himself in the same spot the following day! (Oops.)

After a few days of sharing stories at snack time, Mini came home and declared that he needed a new elf. His elf was clearly not doing a satisfactory job, and therefore needed to be replaced. Instead of firing our elf, we chose to sit our elf down and tell him about some of the antics the other elves were up to and encourage him to mix it up a bit. We made it clear that we wouldn't appreciate anything mean, or malicious... or anything that would get a little boy in trouble if he were to mimic it. (So, TPing the tree was out. As was anything involving a marker of any sort.)

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