Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Countdown 21-24, plus a few extras

Day 21:
The Three Gifts by Patricia Cook Orr, illustrated by Wilson Ong.  I really liked this tale of possible uses for the three gifts given to the Christ Child.  I also LOVE the picture of the wise man holding the baby Jesus on the cover.
Day 22:
Christmastime with Mr Bear by Linda Parry.  Another clearance book, but this one is awesome!  Mr. Bear tells his friends the story of the birth of Christ while they are getting ready for Christmas.  Each portion of the story has scripture references, in case you want to look them up.  Even cooler: each page says "time for ________" and then has the time written out, a picture of a digital clock, and directions to place the moveable hands on the analog clock.  It's awesome!  I can't wait until Kaity actually starts telling time.
Day 23:
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski, illustrated by P. J. Lynch.  This is a great story about the softening of a heart when you learn to care for others and focus on Christ
Day 24:
'Twas the Day Before Christmas by Brenda Seabrooke, illustrated by Delana Bettoli.  I know it's not until tomorrow, but I kind of rigged it so this one would be last.  It is a tradition in Jared's family to read The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve.  I like this version a lot.  Not only does it have the entire poem by Clement Clarke Moore, but it also tells the story of why he wrote it, and the excitement of his family when they first heard it.
Merry Christmas a bright baby book.  This is a sturdy little touch and feel board book with one word and a photo on each page.  Perfect for babies so that they can focus, and for little ones learning about reading.  We picked this up last year for Kaity and she really likes it.
The Nutcracker based on the story by E. T. A. Hoffmann, adapted by Raina Moore, illustrated by Thea Kliros. A cute little board book that tells the general story of the Nutcracker Prince.
Counting Christmas by Karen Katz.  I can't get enough of Karen Katz, especially since Kaity will sit and look through the ENTIRE book, no matter which one it is.  This is a cute little countdown book and has adorable illustrations.
The Little Christmas Elf by Nikki Shannon Smith, illustrated by Susan Mitchell.  A cute little story about a little elf who wants very much to make a perfect toy for Christmas.  She never gives up, even when it seems too late.  The pictures are so sweet.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Countdown 16-20

 Day 16:
The Animals' Christmas Eve by Gale Wiersum, illustrated by Alex Steele Morgan.  This is an adorable counting book about the animals in the barn telling each other the Christmas story.
Day 17:
The Other Wise Man by Henry Van Dyke, retold by Pamela Kennedy, illustrated by Robert Barrett.  I love this story of the other wise man who dedicated his life to find the Savior but is stopped along the way to help and care for others, showing the life of a true disciple.
Day 18:
Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree by Robert Barry.  How many different homes can be graced with the presence of this one Christmas tree?
Day 19:
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston, illustrated by Barbara Cooney.  I love this story of a little family in the Appalachian mountains who strive to keep the Christmas spirit alive even though their father is far away fighting.
Day 20:
This is the Stable by Cynthia Cotten, illustrated by Delana Bettoli.  A story loosely patterned after "The House that Jack Built."  Kaity likes the repeating refrain.  I love the pictures - they're different from the standard Nativity story.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Countdown, 12-15

 Day 12:
The Last Straw by Paula Palangi McDonald, Illustrated by Carol Pettit Harding.  This story is about a modern family and their quest to serve one another in order to fill the manger for the baby Jesus.  Really cute!
Day 13:
Christmas Oranges by Linda Bethers, Illustrated by Ben Sowards.  This story tells of a girl at an orphanage who is excited to taste her first ever orange.  I love the story and the message of selfless service and love to those around us.
Day 14:
Oh, Come, Little Children by Anita Reith Stohs, Illustrated by Benrei Huang.  I found this on the clearance desk at Seagull Book for $2.00!  It is adorable and I love the whimsical pictures that go along with the simple story.
Day 15:
The Little Shepherd Girl by Juliann Henry, Illustrated by Jim Madsen.  I absolutely LOVE the pictures in this book!  I also love that the little girl wants so much to help her family.  This is a great story about the shepherds and also about father/daughter relationships.

Friday, December 16, 2011


We've been very busy lately with a massive project at our house.  Because Kaity's room was directly over the laundry room and had two outside walls, her room was freezing!  She would kick off all her blankets and then wake up at 2 am freezing and crying and wouldn't go back to sleep in her own bed.  Which meant that either she slept on the couch with me or in the bed with both of us.  We tried several methods to keep her in her own room, but finally we realized what the problem was and have since switched our two rooms.  Because Kaity is now in the bigger room, some of our old furniture is still there, as is most of our clothing.  Anyway, I have a large stack of craft supplies that I need to sort through and put away that is still in the corner of Kaity's new room.
Today, during her "play rest," during which she did much more playing than resting, she found the following in the craft supplies:
Isn't her bed pretty?
I especially love the stickers on each individual slat.

Aren't you jealous, don't you want such a pretty bed?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Countdown, 6-11

 Day 6:
Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner, illustrated by Mark Buehner.  Ever wonder why snowmen look so melty the day after you make them?  Here's the explanation of the fun they have at night!
Day 7:
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg.  It's just a classic Christmas story.  Kaity likes finding the choo choo in each picture.
Day 8:
Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S Buck, illustrated by Mark Buehner.  I love this story of a special gift given by a son to his dad.  It shows that it's not always the things we buy, but the love we show that is the best gift.
Day 9:
A Star in the Pasture by Katherine Zwers and John Tobin, illustrated by Carol Heyer.  This book is one of my family's favorites.  My mom used to read it to her Sunday School class every year and the pictures are simply adorable.  The story of a little star with an important mission is perfect for the Christmas season.
Day 10:
two books today because I didn't know Kaity had already opened one...oops!
Who is Coming to Our House? by Joseph Slate, illustrated by Ashley Wolff.  A cute little book about the animals preparing the stable for the Christ child.  I like the simple rhymes, this would be a great book for a beginning reader.
The Mansion by Henry Van Dyke, illustrated by Dan Burr.  Pres. Monson often quotes this story of a man who lays up his treasures on Earth, only to learn in a dream that we should be laying up treasures unto Heaven.
Day 11:
A Christmas Dress for Ellen by Thomas S Monson, illustrated by Ben Sowards.  This is a beautiful story that tells of a poor family, especially a little girl named Ellen, who are blessed by the sacrifice of their family and neighbors one Christmas season.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Countdown, 3, 4 & 5

Day 3:
Penny's Christmas Jar Miracle by Jason F Wright, illustrated by Ben Sowards.  I think this is an adorable story about putting others first and serving those in need without being overly preachy or making you feel guilty.
Day 4:
The Nutcracker illustrated by Don Daily.  I really liked this simple telling of the Nutcracker story.  There were a few details I was never sure of and it was great to see this holiday favorite in words, although I do love the ballet as well.
Day 5:

Room for a Little One by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Jason Cockcroft.  This is a simple little story with adorable pictures of the animals making room for the Savior's birth.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas Countdown, Days 1 and 2

I love advent calendars.  As a little girl, my mom would always buy us those chocolate ones where you opened the door each day and got a small chocolate.  She still gets them every year, but now she gets them for the grandkids :).  Also as a little girl, we had this calendar that was a wall hanging and everyday you got to take a small ornament and hang it on the sequins on the Christmas tree on the hanging.  Jennie and I loved it, and we'd always come up with some elaborate plan to make sure that we each got to take turns but also that we got to open the one on our birthdays and didn't get to open more than the other.  (Our birthdays are the 12th and 14th, so we couldn't just do evens and odds).  I also think there were a few years where Dad got to do the 24th (which was always a Santa ornament) to avoid fighting.
Anyway, I've wanted to do something like this with my family, and I've found this cute wooden tree with ornaments to hang on it, but Kaity's a bit too young to really enjoy the countdown.  I have a few friends who have been doing a book countdown with their little ones, and since I have so many Christmas books anyway, I thought we'd give it a shot.  Kaity has loved unwrapping a book each day, and so far has done a really good job at only taking one.
So, I've got 24 Christmas books (kid picture ones) and I've wrapped each one.  You can number them if you want, but I just let Kaity pick whichever she wants to open.  The only exception is the Night Before Christmas, which has to be opened on Christmas Eve as per Jared's family tradition.  Here are the books we've opened so far:
Day 1:
Christmas in the Manger by Nola Buck, illustrated by Felicia Bond
This is a cute little board book with a simple rhyme that chronicles all the individual players of the nativity story.  Kaity loves turning to the pages and pointing out the star, the sheep (maa, maa), the ox (moo, moo), and of course, the baby.
Day 2:

The First Christmas by Carol Heyer
This book is so beautifully illustrated, but it also tells the story of Jesus, beginning with the annunciation to Mary, including the flight into Egypt, and ends with Jesus growing up to begin His ministry.  I love that it tells the entire story, usually Christmas books just tell about the nativity scene itself.