DIY American Girl Doll Themed Birthday Party with Free Printables

For Hazel's sixth birthday, we decided to have a small family party and a friends party. So on her birthday we invited her grandparents (and aunts and cousin who live too far to come) and a few close friends like her godparents and their daughter. Since Steve always takes Hazel's birthday off and her grandparents are retired, we had the party on her actual birthday. We had all three of her living grandparents, her godparents' daughter (age 3) with her grandmother and one of my best friends with her two boys (ages 4 and 1) who Hazel loves. The invitations invited the guests to bring a doll with them. Only the two boys did. Hazel wore the crown I got at the American Girl Doll Store for my birthday and Ducky wore one of the ones that the dolls got. 

Fun Crafts and More Book Reviews

Disclosure: Candlewick Press gave me a copy of this book free of charge to review. All opinions in my review are my own and I did not receive any other compensation. As in all my reviews I am providing links for your ease, but receive no compensation.

Today I get to share with you some fun books from Candlewick Press. All three are intended to let a child be creative in fun ways. The first is a simple book that is intended for younger children. It is Maisy's Placemat Doodle Book by Lucy Cousins.

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Thank you to everyone who shared with us last week!! This week we have two days of features!! For Christmas I chose some Christmas themed posts to feature. Please take the time to check them out and pin them for next year's crafts! For this week's features we have some December holidays and snow themed posts as well as  a couple of extras.


1) From Living Montessori Now: Free Kwanzaa Songs and Rhymes for Circle Time

2) From A Life in Balance: Kid-Friendly New Year's Eve Party for Families

3) From The Practical Mom: Glitter Stars with Popsicle Sticks

4) From Powerful Mothering: How to Make a Quiet Book

Little Quilts -- Book Review

Disclosure: Ryland, Peters and Small gave me a copy of this book free of charge for this review. All opinions in my review are my own and I did not receive any other compensation. They also sent me a copy to giveaway! As in all my reviews I am providing links for your ease, but receive no compensation. 

Today I get to share a wonderful quilt book, Little Quilts by Sarah Fielke and Amy Lobsiger. Two things interested me with this book. First the idea of little quilts will mean easier (smaller and quicker) projects so it will not take me months to make one and second little quilts are often doll size. With Hazel being so focused on her dolls she wants doll quilts, so I figured this book would help me get creative!!

Merry Christmas 2014

I will be spending Christmas with my family, but will be back for Sharing Saturday!! But until then, here are a few Christmas Features from this week's Sharing Saturday. Many have ideas for things to do this year in case you need them!!

1) From Stimulating Learning with Rachel: Christmas 1 (Lots of ideas and lessons)

2) From Lou Lou Girls: Christmas Singing Time Idea for Children

3) From Multicultural Kid Blogs: Celebrating Christmas Musical Traditions Around the World

4) From Like Mama ~ Like Daughter: Elfing

1) From Brain Power Boy: LEGO Learning: Christmas Projects to Make

2) From A Well Balanced Life: 29 Holiday Snacks for Kids

3) From Powerful Mothering: Kid Made: Feather & Pipe Cleaner Angels

4) From Tiny Tots Adventures: Candy Cane Ornaments

Christmas Crafts & Sewing: Elf on the Shelf, The Christmas Story, and Frozen

Well with Christmas fast approaching, I thought I would share a bunch of the things we have been up to lately. It is amazing how fast Christmas is coming. Between Hazel and I getting sick I feel like we have not gotten everything done that I hoped. Now we are hoping Hazel's fever stays away long enough for her not to be contagious (she has strep and possibly something else) so we can celebrate with extended family. With my time I have been doing some sewing and am working on a quilt to review a quilt book hopefully later this week since I'm hoping to have the quilt as part of Hazel's Christmas gift.

Gift Bringers Around the World

So the other day Hazel came home from school and told me she had been arguing with some of her friends at school about whether Santa Claus is real or not. She asked who was right. In the past (maybe November) I told her Santa Clause only brings gifts to children who believe in him. She grew very concerned that one of her friends at school did not believe in him so she wouldn't get any gifts. At almost six I didn't want to ruin the magic for her, but I was not going to lie to her face. We had a discussion of how she learned about St. Nicholas in her old Waldorf School and how Santa Claus came from his stories. However since St. Nicholas is no longer alive there really is not a Santa Claus alive, so Mommy and Daddy buy the gifts from him since the spirit of Santa Claus is really part of the holiday spirit. She took this information and decided she was right--there is a Santa Claus. The next day she wanted to get her picture with Santa again at the mall when we were there (though she did tell this Santa that she already told the Santa at the other mall what she wanted for Christmas and he did not know what to say to that).

Of course I should add that the two Santas looked very different from each other. Having just written the history of Christmas trees and Christmas tree traditions around the world post, I was curious as to the Santa Clauses or Gift Bringers from around the world. I of course turned to two of my favorite sources for information, Multicultural Kid Blogs bloggers and the library!

Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop #22

Please note this is NOT Sharing Saturday, but the Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop. If you do not have multicultural activities, crafts, etc. to share, you can still share at Sharing Saturday.

Welcome to the Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop!
The Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop is a place where bloggers can share multicultural activities, crafts, recipes, and musings for our creative kids. We can't wait to see what you share this time!
Created by Frances of Discovering the World through My Son's Eyes, the blog hop has now found a new home at Multicultural Kid Blogs.
This month our co-hosts are:
Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop is a place for you to share your creative kids culture posts. It's very easy, and simple to participate! Just follow these simple guidelines:

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Thank you to everyone who shared with us last week! While I was busy taking care of my sick little girl, many amazing ideas were shared as well as a few germs since now I have the illness. Our features are completely holiday related. With the start of Hanukkah this week there are a few Hanukkah Features and then lots of Christmas Features including a section on Christmas trees (crafts and crafts for the tree).

Hanukkah Features

1) From Living Montessori Now: Free Hanukkah Songs and Rhymes for Circle Time

2) From Royal Little Lambs: Celebrating Light

Mutlicultural Product Review: Dutched Up! Rocking the Clogs Expat Style

Disclosure: I was sent a digital copy of this book to review free of charge from Multicultural Kid Blogs as part of the Multicultural Kids Product Promotion Services. All opinions in this post are my own. I did not receive any other compensation for this review.

Today's post is about a wonderful new e-book written by a group of bloggers who live in the Netherlands. The book is Dutched Up! Rocking the Clogs Expat Style by Olga Mecking, Lynn Morrison, et. al. Many of the authors are also members of Multicultural Kid Blogs. This book is an adult book but many of the stories can be shared with children as well.

Have you ever considered moving to a new country? Did you ever wonder what it might be like to adjust to the different culture there? I know I think about it when I watch HGTV's House Hunters International. Then it is more about just the different home styles--room size, kitchen differences, etc. This book shares stories from women who came from all over the world to live in the Netherlands. The women describe some of the things they had to adjust to in this new country. The stories are divided into twelve chapters and share the tales of everything from culture shock to doctor's visits, transportation to throwing a party and so much more. 

Some common themes are the height differences and the bicycles. Did you know Dutch people are among the tallest people around and their homes show it? Or that most Dutch people own multiple bicycles since it is a major form of transportation? The stories shared are funny and real. Some will make you cry and all of them will give you a better picture of what it is like to live in the Netherlands and perhaps give you insight into things to consider before moving to a new country. 

I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to learn more about the Dutch culture or is considering a move to a new country or just wants to be entertained. I hope you will check it out!

Multicultural Product Review -- Celebrate Christmas Around the World

Disclosure: I was sent these items to review free of charge from Multicultural Kid Blogs as part of the Multicultural Kids Product Promotion Services. All opinions in this post are my own. I did not receive any other compensation for this review.

Today I am going to review for you a wonderful Christmas product. It is a e-book/packet to learn about Christmas celebrations in other countries and is published by Multicultural Kid Blogs. It seems like the perfect time to share this with you since we just did our Christmas in Different Lands post yesterday. Plus Christmas is on Hazel's mind. She has been home sick much of this week but started to get bored and decided to play Mary.

Christmas in Different Lands -- New England

This post is part of the Christmas in Different Lands series from Multicultural Kid Blogs.  Be sure to visit the main page and Pinterest board!

This year instead of investigating what Christmas is like in another country, I decided to share Christmas in our neck of the woods. Of course then I had to wonder "What defines Christmas time in New England?" 
Map of New England Source

In many ways I often feel like Christmas time is a step back in time in parts of New England. Many houses (and almost all the churches) are still decorated with white lights on the tree, candles in the windows and a wreath on the door. I tried to get a picture of our church at night, but the candle light seems to blur.

My First Chess Book -- Book Review

Disclosure: Ryland, Peters and Small gave me a copy of this book free of charge for this review. All opinions in my review are my own and I did not receive any other compensation. They also sent me a copy to giveaway! As in all my reviews I am providing links for your ease, but receive no compensation.

My husband loves chess though he hardly ever plays anymore. He has a collection of chess boards around the house so Hazel has always been curious about chess. I have only played chess a handful of times in my life. I was taught by a boyfriend from high school/college time and played a few times since dating him. I am not much competition for Steve. I thought My First Chess Book by Jessica E. Prescott could help us teach Hazel how to play and hopefully help improve my game. 

Now the book says it is for children aged seven and more. Hazel will be sick this month. I figured we would try it anyway. The book starts with an introduction to the game and how each piece can move. It also describes how the squares on the board are labeled to be able to discuss them (letters along the horizontal and numbers along the vertical so each square has a unique letter and number combination). Next the book is divided into four chapters. The first chapter is to teach Piece Movement. This is the chapter we are focusing on right now for Hazel. In fact we will probably not get past the first lesson for quite awhile. I want to know she understands each lesson before moving forward. The first lesson is called Pawn Football. It uses four pawns of each color and is a two person game. The winner of the game is the first to get a pawn to the other side. There are a few lesson built within this game. The first being that the pawns must work together to get across. And of course to understand how the pawn moves.

Multicultural Product Review-- A Little Mandarin

Disclosure: I was sent these items to review free of charge from A Little Mandarin as part of the Multicultural Kids Product Promotion Services. All opinions in this post are my own. I did not receive any other compensation for this review.

Today I get to review for you an award winning CD. The CD is A Little Mandarin by Toni Wang, a Shanghai born New York City mother. This CD has fifteen classic Chinese songs. Many are to familiar tunes and some are the familiar songs in Chinese. The music is very upbeat and perfect for little ears to hear. Here is a little introduction to it, so you can check it out yourself.

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This weekend was planning on I taking off with a girlfriend for a much needed mommies weekend away, but Hazel developed a fever, so plans postponed. However the party will still go on!! Thank you to everyone who shared with us last week!! This week's features are divided into Multicultural Holidays, Christmas and Winter and Stars. I went a little crazy with the number of features so I hope you enjoy them all!!

Multicultural Holidays

1) From Multicultural Kid Blogs: Hanukkah for Kids

2) From Dad's The Way I Like It: A Toddler's Christmas in Wales

3) From Planet Smarty Pants: Christmas Around the World -- Germany

4) From A Life in Balance: Swedish Christmas Braid

Christmas Features

1) From An Idea on Tuesday: Vegetable Printing Nativity

2) From Christianity Cove: Holiday Snack Idea: Jelly Bean Christmas Trees

3) From A Life in Balance: Easy Gingerbread House for Christmas

4) From Best Toys for Toddlers: No-Sew & No-Glue Paper Roll Christmas Elves

5) From Kandy Kreations: Christmas Shepherd 2 Nativity Advent Calendar Gift Idea Day 5

Winter and Star Features

1) From The Practical Mom: DIY Christmas Decoration: Star Lantern

2) From Sunshine and Hurricanes: Frozen Inspired Christmas Crafts

3) From Life with Moore Babies: Egg Carton Snowmen

4) From In the Playroom: Kid Made Star Display Inspired by How to Catch a Star

5) From Say Not Sweet Anne: Creamy 3 Ingredient Hot Cocoa

Thank you to everyone who shared last week!! I hope you will join us and share again!! If you are featured here, please feel free to grab a featured button to display proudly on your blog. 


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From Your Hostess:
This week we shared some simple nativity crafts, reviewed some books for traveling from home, shared the history of the Christmas tree and some customs and trees from around the world, and shared our persimmon exploration!

Now for This Week's Party 

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2)  Link any kid-friendly, child-centered post. Please no etsy shops or giveaways, etc.  Remember to link to your actual post. 

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 Disclaimer: By sharing here, you are giving Crafty Moms Share permission to use your photos for features and to pin your craft at Pinterest.

Friday Fruit Exploration -- Persimmon

For this week's fruit exploration we looked at persimmons. Now I will admit I only heard of persimmons a few years ago. My parents' neighbor actually grows them and gives them to my parents (or tells them to pick them when he is not at Cape Cod since he rents his house out). When we celebrated Thanksgiving, my parents brought the last couple of the season with them. The one we ate while they were here they said was among the best they ever tried.

Hazel confuses them with tomatoes however she claims to like persimmons (she does not like tomatoes). However she usually only has a few bites and then says she will eat it later and does not. There are different types of persimmons. Asian persimmons or Japanese persimmons are native to China. This is the most widely cultivated species of persimmons. They spread throughout Asia and then into Europe, California and Brazil. The fruit is edible in the firm stage but taste best when allowed to rest after harvest. They are sweet and tangy when soft. The date-plum species is native to southwest Asia and southeast Europe. It was known by the ancient Greeks as the fruit of the gods or nature's candy. Its taste is similar to a date or a plum and thus the name. The American persimmon is native to Eastern United States (and is probably the species we tried, but I am not sure). It has higher levels of vitamin C, calcium, iron, and potassium than the Japanese persimmon. It is also a food that gets the white-tailed deer through the long winter months. The black persimmon is native to Mexico. It has green skin and white flesh which turns black when ripe. The Mabolo or velvet-apple is native to the Philippines and China. It is also known as the Korean mango. The Indian persimmon is a slower growing and less flavorful species. It is known more for folk medicine. The Texas persimmon is native to Texas and Oklahoma as well as Mexico. The fruits are black on the outside unlike the Mexico persimmon which is only black on the inside. 

In general persimmons are seen as two types: astringent and non-astringent. A version of the Japanese persimmon known as the Hachiya species is the most astringent type due to the high tannin levels. The tannin levels reduce as the fruit ripens. The Hachiya must be fully ripened prior to eating. Persimmons are eaten raw, cooked, or dried. When eaten fresh they can be eaten whole like an apple or cut into slices. Some varieties are more pleasant with the thin skin peeled off first. Very ripe persimmons can have the texture of pudding inside and can be eaten with a spoon once opened. Compared to apples, persimmons have higher levels of dietary fiber, sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and manganese. They have lower levels of copper and zinc. They also contain vitamin C and vitamin A--beta carotene. (Source)
We did our normal exploration. Hazel used her magnifying glass to check them out and drew pictures in her journal. Then she told me what to write about them.
We also found a couple of books at the library and I found some more on Amazon.

Many of these have one of two stories in them, The Monkey and the Crab (including in Japanese Children's Favorite Stories) or The Rabbit's Tail which is also called The Tiger and the Dried Persimmon. Hazel loved reading this story since the tiger was afraid of a dried persimmon. He thought it was some sort of monster. She laughed so hard that a tiger was afraid of a dried fruit. I love how a fruit exploration turns into a cultural exploration as well.

For more fruit explorations check out:

History of Christmas Trees and Christmas Tree Traditions

The other day Hazel asked me about the history of Christmas trees. I knew I had read something about it being a German tradition when I was doing research for the Advent Around the World post. Yet, I had also read something about pre-Christian time in the history. Now I know since no one knows the actual date of Jesus' birthday,  the Pope and the higher ups in the Catholic Church decided to make Christmas near the winter solstice in hopes of ending/combining the Pagan celebrations. Evergreens were often used to decorate in the winter since they held a special meaning since they were always green and reminded them of the green plants of other seasons. I needed to find a book to explain it all to Hazel accurately. We found O Christmas Tree: Its History and Holiday Traditions by Jacqueline Farmer at our library. 

Travel with Books at Home Product Reviews

Disclosure: Candlewick Press gave me a copy of this book free of charge to review. All opinions in my review are my own and I did not receive any other compensation. As in all my reviews I am providing links for your ease, but receive no compensation.

Do you love to travel? Or do you dream of traveling without hassles? We love to explore the world from home with dreams of someday getting to see more of it. For now we like to explore with books and posters and such to see and learn about the world without leaving home. Candlewick Press has some products that makes this really fun and easy. The first three books are from a series called Panorama Pops. We got to explore The Louvre, Australia and Venice in this form. It was so much fun. These books are like pocket guides with pop-up pictures. The book is double sided since it folds out and has the pop-ups on both sides.

Simple Nativity Crafts

For Advent, I thought I would share each post where our Mouse and the Miracle Mouse (Holy) has been up to. (He now has an elf friend named Elfie who often is hidden with him.)
Elfie looking out dollhouse window.
Holy is on the other side of the dollhouse

We have had a busy and exciting weekend. Our Saturday started with a trip to our town's Holiday Stroll. At the school we went to they did not have Santa Claus, but had the Frozen characters.
Hazel was on top of the world and brought her autograph book for them to sign. (I think it may have made the high school students day to be asked to sign an autograph book.)
Roman Soldier visiting the Holy family