One Starry Night 2014

This year we checked out One Starry Night at the Grimes United Methodist Church.

It was amazing!

One Starry Night is not just a live nativity scene, but it’s a journey you take through Bethlehem and end at a live nativity scene. The whole church is set-up like Bethlehem, everyone is dressed up accordingly and there are live animals! Monte enjoyed the real life experience. The entire time, he was completely engaged in what was going on.

When you enter the church you register your family at the census table and receive your denarii, in a little cloth bag. Monte made sure to hold on to the denari and paid whenever he needed to. Then you walk into the worship area where you get to take a family picture!

Of course, Monte wouldn’t look at the camera!

As you wait in the worship area, waiting to start your trip through Bethlehem, you can snack on cookies and hot cocoa. There is a large screen with a Mickey Mouse Christmas movie playing to keep the kiddos entertained for a bit. There was also three young ladies who sang some Christmas songs, while we waited.

Then you get to enter the town of Bethlehem! Your first stop is to pay taxes. Monte had to pay one denari! Then we ventured outside where we looked at the stars with the shepherds and angels appeared to deliver the good news.

We then saw King Herod receive the news from the Magis. We traveled with the Magis through Bethlehem and even looked for a place to stay the night, but there was no room at the Inn.

We traveled back outside and saw baby Jesus and the live nativity scene!

After our travels, Monte spent the rest of his denari on animal crackers, making a clay pot, a Christmas bracelet, an ornament and a scarf !

I loved every moment of One Starry Night. Not only did Monte learn about baby Jesus, but he also learned the value of giving his denari to be able to go on the journey, do a craft, or eat some food. Oh yeah … and the entire thing was FREE!

This will definitely become a new tradition for our family in years to come. Unfortunately, One Starry Night is finished for the season, but I highly recommend putting it on your list to check out in 2015!

Have you and your family been to One Starry Night before?

Barnes & Noble Storytime

I just learned about Storytime at the local Barnes & Noble recently. Every so often Barnes & Noble will offer Storytime, usually a Friday evening , Saturday afternoon or various other days during the week. An employee reads a special book and sometimes, there is a craft to go along!

This past Friday was a very special holiday edition of Storytime and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was read! The kids dressed up in their holiday pajamas and sat around while the classic was read to them.

They even got their own little red nose, like Rudolph!

Afterwards they were able to decorate a special gingerbread man, drank milk and ate a cookie!

In the Barnes & Noble cafe, they were offering $1.00 hot cocoa during the Storytime period. With every item you purchased in the cafe (including hot cocoa) you received a very special Rudolph shortbread cookie!

Monte and Amelia had so much fun!

Barnes & Noble has two different locations in the Des Moines area. They offer Storytimes at various times through out the week. This is a great alternative then Storytime at the libraries. It’s a nice way to change it up! Check out the event calendars for each location below, to see when the next Story Time will be!

Have you ever attended Storytime at a Barnes & Noble location? What book did you hear?

Jolly Holiday Lights 2014

If you are from Des Moines or have lived in Des Moines for awhile, you know about Jolly Holiday Lights. It is one of those “must do” holiday things.

The proceeds from this entire event goes to Make-A-Wish Iowa. Last year, this event raised enough money to make wishes come true of more than 35 children in Iowa. This truly is an event that is fun for the entire family and does some good for others 🙂

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Jolly Holiday Lights is a 3.5 mile tour of lights through Water Works Park. There are several displays and each display is donated from a local business such as KCCI, More 104, DMOS, Goode Greenhouses and many, many more!

At the end of the event is Santa’s Wish Shop! Where you can take a picture with Santa, enjoy hot cocoa & cookie, and do some small holiday shopping.

Jolly Holiday Lights runs November 25th until January 1st 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm

Santa’s Wish Shop is open Sunday through Thursday until 9:00 pm

Admission

$10.00 per car

$20 per limo/mini bus

$45 per chartered bus

You still have plenty of time to drive through Jolly Holiday Lights! Don’t miss it!

Top Places to Visit Santa in Des Moines

It’s that time of year! Santa is going to be one busy guy this holiday season. There are several events and places to meet and see Santa. I have only listed a few popular events and places, but make sure to check out my calendar on the right hand side for a complete list!

1. Brunch with Santa at Center Grove – November 29 – December 21: Every Saturday & Sunday 

Eat breakfast, do crafts, and visit with Santa & Rudolph! There will also be a coloring contest! Saturdays 9 am – 12 pm and Sundays 11 am – 2 pm. Cost $7.95 ages 3 and older $5.95 ages 2 and younger. Check out the Center Grove website for more details!

2. Santa Express – November 28- 30, December 5-7, December 12-14 and December 19-21

Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad  is offering the Santa Express again this year! A perfect event for your little ones. You will travel to the “North Pole” while singing Christmas carols, have hot chocolate and a cookie, meet Santa and receive a silver bell! Tickets are on sale! Make sure to reserve your ticket soon, because they will go fast. Check out the website for times and prices.

3. Santa at Jordan Creek Mall – November 21st – December 24th 

Visit Santa at Jordan Creek Mall and get pictures done! No specific times are listed. Check out the Jordan Creek Towncenter site for more information!

4. Santa at Valley West Mall – November 14th – December 24th 

Visit Santa at Valley West Mall, ride the train, and take pictures! Monday thru Saturday 10 am – 8 pm; Sunday 11 am – 5pm; and  Christmas Eve 10 am – Noon. For more information check out the Valley West Mall website.

5. Santa at Merle Hay Mall – November 16th – December 24th 

Visit Santa at Merle Hay Mall. There are no hours listed, hours may vary. For more information check out the Merle Hay Mall website.

6. Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops – Now thru December 24th 

Get a FREE 4×6 studio with Santa, lots of kids activities and crafts! Games, trains, coloring, wildlife carousel, and SO MUCH MORE! For more information check out the Bass Pro Shops website for more information!

7. Windsor Wonderland – Saturday, December 6th at 6:30 pm 

Located at the Windsor Heights Community Center in Colby Park. Admission is $3.00 per person & 2 and under are free. Admission includes a hot dog, hot chocolate, activities and the viewing up the three classic movies; Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and A Charlie Brown Christmas. Windsor Wonderland flyer.

8. Santa at Blank Park Zoo – Saturday, December 6th & Saturday, December 13th 10 am – 2 pm  

This event is for the whole family! Take a picture with Santa and his reindeer, write a letter to the North Pole, enjoy hot cocoa and cookies, and explore the zoo! For more information visit the Blank Park Zoo website for detail and scheduled events.

9. Holidays in Johnston – Saturday, December 6th 2:30 pm – 4:30 pm  

There will be a gingerbread making contest, crafts, cookie decorating, entertainment, food and more! Santa will make an appearance on a fire truck! For more information and registration for for the Gingerbread House Making contest check out the Johnston Patch website!

10. Breakfast at the North Pole: Reiman Gardens – Saturday, December 13th 

There are two sittings available one at 8 am and 10:30 am. This event is for the whole family where you will enjoy a healthy breakfast in the Winter Wonderland, activity station, and carolers. You must register! For more information, prices, and to register check out the Reiman Garden’s website.

11. Brunch with Santa: Urbandale – Saturday, December 13th 9 am – 11 am 

Bring your kiddos, camera, and wish list! Join Santa for donuts, juice, holiday crafts, cookie decorating, and so much more! $10 per child. For more information and to register check out the Urbandale event page!

12. Breakfast with Santa at Pump it Up – Sunday, December 16th 

Jump your little hearts out and take a break and share breakfast with Santa! Private time with Santa will be first come, first serve. Pre-sale $8.00 per child. $10.00 per child for tickets purchased online. $12.00 per child for tickets purchased at the door. Check out the flyer here!

13. Breakfast with Santa at the Science Center of Iowa – Saturday, December 20th & Sunday, December 21st 

Enjoy a delicious buffet-style catered meal in the Food Chain Café, decked out specially for the season, snap a picture with Santa and share your wish list! Explore SCI, see science demonstrations and live programs. Science Center of Iowa members receive a discount! Check out all the information here.

 

DSM Activities & Events 12/12 – 12/18

 

 

1. Nutcracker at Hoyt Sherman

When: Thursday, December 12th – Sunday, December 15th

What: Make sure to purchase soon if you are wanting to see this Holiday classic! Go to Hoyt Sherman Place for information on show times and ticket prices.

2. Winter Market 

When: Friday 11 am – 2 pm & Saturday 9 am – 1 pm

Where and What: Miss the weekly downtown farmers market? You do not want to miss this then! This market will be located at Capital Square and there will be more then 120 vendors to shop from. Wine, jams, honey, turkeys, crafts and much more will be available for purchase. Check out the Downtown Farmers Market for more information and scheduled entertainment!

3. Cloth Diaper Garage Sale 

When: Saturday 10 am – 12 pm

Where and What: Whether you want to sell or buy cloth diapers, this event is for you! Check out the Little Padded Seats page for information on how to sell or buy!

4. Reiman Gardens Breakfast at the North Pole

When: Saturday 9 am or 11 am

What: There are two sittings available one at 9 am and 11 am. This event is for the whole family where you will enjoy a healthy breakfast in the Winter Wonderland, activity station, and carolers. You must register! For more information, prices, and to register check out Reiman Gardens website!

5. Santa at the Blank Park Zoo

When: Saturday 10 am –  2 pm

What: This event is for the whole family! Take a picture with Santa and his reindeer, write a letter to the North Pole, enjoy hot cocoa and cookies, and explore the zoo! For scheduled events going on through out the day, check out the Blank Park Zoo website!

6. Brunch with Santa

When: Saturday 10 am – 2 pm

Where and What: Located at the Urbandale Senior Center … bring your kiddos, camera, and wish list! Join Santa for donuts, juice, holiday crafts, cookie decorating, and so much more! $10 per child. For more information and to register check out the Urbandale website!

7. Brunch with Santa at Center Grove

When: Saturday 9 am – 12 pm & Sunday 11 am – 2 pm

What: Eat breakfast, do crafts, and visit with Santa & Rudolph! There will also be a coloring contest! Cost $7.95 per adult and $5.95 per child Check out the Center Grove flyer for more details!

8. Holiday Tea at Terrace Hill

When: Monday and Tuesday times vary!

What: This is an adult event! So make it a date day/night with your significant other! Enjoy the Terrace Hill decked out in holiday lights and decor, enjoy tea, desserts, sandwiches, and entertainment! For more information, times, and to purchase tickets check out the Holiday Tea at Terrace Hill event!

9. Rainforest Romp at the Science Center of Iowa

When: Tuesday 1 pm – 2 pm

What: For ages 3-5 and their families! General admission to the Science Center is included. Discover one of the world’s biggest and most incredible mysteries as we uncover life in the rainforest! Where are rainforests located? What animals live there? Find out all about this amazing ecosystem, the animals that live there and the amazing explorers who help us to understand it better.

10. Cloth Diaper 101 

When: Tuesday 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Where and What: Are you wanting to learn more about cloth diapers? Not sure what to purchase or how to care for them? This class is PERFECT for you! Located at the local Little Padded Seats, you will learn everything you need to know. Check out Little Padded Seats website for more information.

11. Children’s Craft Days at Center Grove Orchard

When: Wednesday 10 am – 12 pm

What: Bring the children out and create a kids holiday craft, eat some sweet treats, do a scavenger hunt, and story time! There will also be some lunch items available for purchase. $4.95 per child. Check out the Center Grove flyer for more details!

12. Ladies Night at Center Grove

When: Wednesday 6 pm – 8 pm

What: Make it a fun night out with friends at Center Grove Orchard! Enjoy appetizers, soup, bread, dessert and create a special holiday Pinterest craft. There will also be a drawing for a gift basket giveaway! $9.95 per person and reservations are required! Check out the Center Grove flyer for more information!

 

Top 10 Christmas Movies

This is the time of year to snuggle up on the couch and watch movies, Christmas movies are even better! We have several movies we wanted to watch on our 2013 Holiday Bucket List. This past weekend we got a lot of snow in central Iowa and we definitely accomplished watching multiple Christmas movies! I decided to create a list of some of my top 10 favorites!

 

 

ABC Family broadcasts most of these movies through out their 25 Days of Christmas. Luckily, we have a DVR so I have went through and recorded most of these so they are available to watch anytime! Make sure you do the same!

1. Elf

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2. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

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3. Frosty the Snowman

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4. The Santa Clause

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5. Miracle on 34th Street – New

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Miracle on 34th Street – Old

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6. Fred Claus

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7. Christmas Vacation

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8. Scrooged

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9. The Polar Express

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10. A Christmas Story

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11. AND one more, just because this is also my favorite!

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

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What are your favorite Christmas movies that are or are not on this list?

Decorating and Santa Visit

We have been crossing things off our 2013 Holiday Bucket List left and right! I love this time of year and having a little one makes it even better.

There are so many places where Santa is making an appearance. Make sure not to miss out! I created an awesome list just for you.

We have seen Santa twice now! We first saw him at the East Village Holiday Promenade, which went okay. Monte would not sit on his lap, but gave him a high-five! Travis and I took Monte to Valley West Mall’s Winter Wonderland. I think that Valley West Mall offers the best Santa set-up. They have a train and the area is decorated beautifully!

 

Monte did great with Santa! He sat on his lap and did not get upset!

Excuse his wild hair! 🙂 Afterwards, Santa handed him a coloring book and crayons and he looked right at him and said “thanks”. It made my heart melt, I might have teared up a bit also.

Not only did Travis and I accomplished almost all of our Christmas shopping, but we also decorated the house and tree!

Monte was a BIG helper with putting the tree together!

We gave him a Disney Christmas Book which plays Christmas music and he can “play” the piano with! He loves it!

We were also fortunate enough to be given another artificial Christmas Tree. We set it up downstairs and Monte got to decorate it however he wanted. I am so happy we thought of this idea, because every night he will take some “kid-friendly” ornaments off the tree and then place them elsewhere on the tree. It keeps him busy and he is so proud of himself when he does it!

Have you taken the kiddos to visit Santa yet? Where was your favorite place to go?

DSM Activities & Events 12/5 – 12/11

 

Make sure to check out the event calendar on the right hand side of the page! Also, for a list of places and times to visit Santa, check out my list I created “Places to visit Santa”.

1. Windsor Polar Express Movie Night

When: Friday 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Where and What: Located at the Windsor Heights Community Center in Colby Park, bring the family to see the classic holiday movie Polar Express! There will also be several activities and toy train on display. There will also be hot chocolate, popcorn, and hot dogs. $3 per person or $10 per family.

2. Peter Pan 

When: Friday, December 6th – Sunday, December 29th

Where and What: Bring the family to see a Disney classic at the Des Moines Playhouse. Showtimes vary on days and times. To purchase tickets and view the details check out the Des Moines Playhouse website.

3. Snowball Express to Santa 

When: Saturday 10 am – 2 pm

Where and What: Located at Jester Park, your children will take a ride, on a pony through a Winter Wonderland to Santa! They will get their picture with Santa, drink some hot cocoa and eat cookies! $20 per child and reservations are not required. For more information check out the Jester Park Equestrian website.

4. Santa at the Blank Park Zoo

When: Saturday 10 am – 2 pm

What: This event is for the whole family! Take a picture with Santa and his reindeer, write a letter to the North Pole, enjoy hot cocoa and cookies, and explore the zoo! For scheduled events going on through out the day, check out the Blank Park Zoo website.

5. A Flynn Family Christmas 

When: Saturday 4 pm – 8 pm

Where and What: Celebrate Christmas at Living History Farms in beautiful decorated Victorian house! Frost cookies, make ornaments, dancing, music, horse-drawn wagon rides, and so much more! For more information and admission prices check out the Living History Farms website!

6. Windsor Wonderland Breakfast with Santa 

When: Saturday 8:30 am – 12 pm

Where and What: Located at the Windsor Heights Community Center in Colby Park, bring the whole family for a pancake breakfast, music, and a child/pet photo with Santa (for FREE)!$6 per ticket which includes the Santa picture and pancake breakfast. Check out the Windsor Heights website information and to purchase tickets!

7. Brunch with Santa at Center Grove Orchard

When: Saturday 9 am – 12 pm & Sunday 11 am – 2 pm

What: Eat breakfast, do crafts, and visit with Santa & Rudolph! There will also be a coloring contest! For more information about the brunch and other events going on at Center Grove Orchard, check out their holiday flyer!

8. Nada Silent Night 

When: Saturday at 7 pm

Where and What: The Nadas are putting on their 11th annual Nada Silent Night at the Scottish Rite Temple! This could be made into a “date night” OR and event for the entire family. The admission to this event is one ticket and at least one unwrapped toy per person attending. The toys will be donated to U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots. A ticket is $20 and children 10 year and younger are FREE. You can purchase tickets here!

9. Jingle Bell Rock ‘n Run 

When: Sunday at 9 am

Where and What: This is another fun holiday run hosted by the Science Center of Iowa! Get dressed up in your festive attire and dash through downtown Des Moines and end at the Science Center. After the run there will be live music, and food catered by Hy-Vee. To register and more information check out the Science Center of Iowa event page.

10. Pajama Party with Santa 

When: Tuesday 6 pm – 8 pm

Where and What: Bring your children to Jordan Creek Town Center, in the photo area. They can bring a blanket and/or a stuffed toy. You can also take a picture with Santa! Bring a toy donation for Toys for Tots, and you can also donate $3 and received a personalized letter from Santa!

11. Pathways Connect – Discussion Group

When: Tuesday 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Where and What: Pathways Connect uses the Pathways to Family Wellness magazine as a launching point for discussions on living a conscious, holistic lifestyle. We take articles from the current issue to spring board the conversation and help educate each other on the path to conscious and holistic living. We hope you will join us, and bring a guest! This meeting’s topics will include: “All Your Health Solutions…As Simple As I Can Put It “How do we lose health? One main answer is STRESS. Stress comes in the form of physical, chemical or psychological.Conscious Path – “Fear or Freedom” We will all experience fears in life, and the way to live in freedom from being controlled by fear is to see fear as a sign of growth and challenging yourself beyond your comfort zone. All gatherings are FREE and located at Little Padded Seats in Valley West Mall.

 

Festival of Trees and Lights

Sorry this post is a bit late 🙁 We have definitely been busy doing lots of holiday shopping and activities, but I want to make sure to share our fun experience at the Festival of Trees and Lights! You NEED to check it out next year! I do not know why I have never been until this year! This event is FULL of activities, beautiful lights, entertainment, food AND it helps an awesome cause … Blank Children’s Hospital.

According to their website, the Festival of Trees and Lights has brought in 6.5 million dollars to help support programs such as child life, and other unique programs and projects to help children who are in need. Another great thing about this event, it is all volunteer based. Every aspect is put on by volunteers and donations from local businesses and individuals.

It’s a wonderful feeling, to walk in and know that everything you look at and do is provided by volunteers.

There were so many trees decorated in different themes! Monte’s favorite tree was the one that they had decorated in Disney characters for their silent auction.

Inside where the trees were lined up, there was also a stage where about every hour, performers would perform. Local groups of singers, dancers, etc. You could also purchase snacks such as hot dogs, popcorn, sandwiches and more. There was even a special bakery section!

We headed back out where all of the kids activities were held! Each activity was one ticket, which you could purchase when you purchased your admission ticket to see the lights. They even had a special deal to purchase 22 tickets for $20.

You could ride the train … Monte did all by himself!

Decorate cookies and decorate ornaments

Play with legos!

There was also face painting available, a toss game, and more!

Not only was there activities for the kiddos, lights, entertainment, and food BUT there was also a place to do a little holiday shopping! There was a shop available to purchase gift items and Scholastic Books was also available to purchase books.

You can definitely make a day out of this fun holiday event. There is so much to do and it helps such a wonderful cause! We will be making this a yearly tradition for sure!

Have you attended the Festival of Trees and Lights before? What is your favorite thing to see and/or do?

Advent Wreath

When I was little, I remember creating an Advent Wreath in my religious education classes. This is Monte’s second Christmas and it’s important that we celebrate the meaning of Christmas. We all (and I will admit I fall into this EVERY year) get caught up in the buying gifts, decorating, parties, etc.

I created an Advent Wreath from some supplies I gathered at the local Michael’s store.

This year, we will begin an evening tradition of lighting the candles around our Advent Wreath and saying a prayer. I know Monte will not understand what’s going on, but starting this tradition now, will hopefully instill the meaning of Christmas for many Christmas’s to come!

I also purchased this FANTASTIC book!

It’s called the Advent Book by Jack and Kathy Stockman.

I am so excited for this book, because the pages are board pages and have little doors that open up! I am hoping this will grab Monte’s attention while we are reading and praying around our Advent Wreath.

After I created our Advent Wreath I went to our local Catholic store, Divine Treasures to purchase our three purple candles and one pink candle. They also had a free brochure that had samples of reading and prayers to say each Sunday when we light the Advent Wreath. The nice thing with this tradition, is you can do it every night of Advent or every Sunday. You can create it however you like and works best for your family.

What traditions do you do with your little ones to remind them the meaning of Christmas?