Sukkot with a tot

This year Mr. Monkey was two at the time of the fall feasts, so he could understand some of what we were doing. We had a nice Yom Teruah as a family and a community, as well as a meaningful Yom Kippur. Mr Monkey loves the shofar and he was so excited to hear it on Yom Teruah! At home he went around with an empty paper towel roll and pretended that it was a shofar. He’s so cute to watch.

As Sukkot was approaching, Mr. Monkey’s excitement was growing. Leading up to Sukkot we told him about how we were going to make a Sukkah. We also read some Sukkot children’s books. He loved the books and would often say “Sukkot is coming!”. When Yom Kippur ended, as we were doing Havdalah with our community, my husband mentioned “Now we can all go and build our Sukkahs.” Mr. Monkey heard that and kept asking Daddy to start building the Sukkah. Daddy had to tell him as he put him to bed, that tomorrow they would get to build the Sukkah. Well, the very next morning, when he woke up, the first thing he said was “We get to build a Sukkah today!” I enjoy seeing his excitement about the feasts. He gets excited about the weekly Shabbat too. Maybe that is part of what Yeshua meant when He said that we are to be like little children. Honestly, sometimes on Friday I’ll be getting ready for Shabbat and just be busy with al lthe work, but when I hear his excited little voice talking about Shabbat coming, it makes me excited too.

So, the day after Yom Kippur Daddy set up the Sukkah, while Mr. Monkey “helped” him.

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Here they are telling stories in the Sukkah right after setting it up.

IMG_7446And this is myself in the Sukkah. I’ll take this time to make it known on this blog…that we’re expecting another little blessing in February!

This year for Sukkot, our community did Sukkah-hopping! Sukkah-hopping is where different families would host our group at their Sukkah/home for a potluck meal. On the first day of Sukkot, we travelled about 2 hours away to a large Sukkot gathering in our province. It was a wonderful day as we got to see a lot of our friends whom we don’t see very often. The other nights were either with our community or just with family. I have to say we did so. many. potlucks. It was a lot of good times of fellowship, worship, singing and dancing. That’s one of the things about Sukkot, is that we’re actually commanded to rejoice!

During the Sukkot week, we also got together twice as our little group of mommies and toddlers. I hosted the first of these playdates. And here is what we did:

First, I read aloud a couple Sukkot books. This one I purchased at a Judaica store when I was visiting in Toronto. It’s a nice simple picture book about celebrating Sukkot.

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I had found a little children’s sukkot song on YouTube that involves making actions. So, next we listened to the song. During the actions part, we made the actions, and during the “lai lai lai” part, we clapped hands on our knees. Then we listened to it a second time, and this time I gave the children little instruments (maracas, tambourine, etc) to play during the “lai lai lai” part. They really liked it!

In the storybook mentioned above, it shows the children stringing coloured pasta onto string to make Sukkah decorations. So I prepared some coloured pasta for that.

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This was made with rigatoni pasta as it looked the easiest to thread. I was actually pleasantly surprised at how nicely the colours on the pasta turned out. To learn how to dye pasta, you can read a post on this blog.

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The children enjoyed stringing the pasta. It’s also a good fine-motor activity. After our craft, we had a snack of grapes, and then we went outside and danced in the Sukkah to the Sukkot song by Steve McConnell.

A week later, my sister-in-law hosted the moms and tots at her house. While we were there we watched the Shalom Sesame video about Sukkot. These videos are so cute. I’m actually able to find them at the library here, but I’m often on the lookout for children’s resources about our Biblical holidays.

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Next, the children made “apple pies” with apple-scented homemade playdough that my sister-in-law had made.

photo 1 (5)She scented it with powdered apple-cider flavoured drink mix. The children each got a tin pie plate and some dough. They could add into it cinnamon sticks, walnuts and cloves. I thought this was a neat idea.

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Here they are making their “apple pies”. My apologies for the poor-quality photos, they were taken with my phone.

photo 5This was Mr Monkey’s final product.

For a snack, we had apple slices covered in sugar and cinnamon. Yummy!

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So that was our Sukkot this year with little ones involved.

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Cowboy Birthday Party.

Back in the spring, Mr. Monkey turned 2! I kind of  like the idea of themed birthday parties. I know it may seem shallow to put a lot of effort into decorating and coordinating a brithday for a toddler that’s all matching along a theme. But it’s kind of fun and something I enjoy. I actually admit that before I was a mom I used to think it was silly to do this, because after all, the kid doesn’t even remember it, right? Those moms are just doing it for themselves, right? So I’m a little hesitant about posting this…don’t judge me 🙂

Anyways, Mr. Monkey’s first birthday party was an airplane theme, as 4 days after his birthday we embarked as a family on a big plane and flew all the way to Poland to visit my home country. For his second birthday I chose a cowboy theme. Mr. Monkey likes horses and living out here in the prairies often makes me think of pioneers and wonder what it was like for those first settlers who came out west to start their new life here.

Here are some highlights from the cowboy party:

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A photo booth area was set up so guests could take their picture in a “wild west” setting. There were cowboy hats to put on, fake moustaches and bandanas. I painted the backdrop, and a friend of ours let us borrow their riding toy horse.

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We had fun taking photos before guests arrived, and our guests had fun with the photo booth too.

For decoration, I found some bandanas at the dollar store and scrapbooking paper that looked like bandanas at Michaels. I also found tin pails at the dollar store and a burlap sack to use as a table cloth at a farm supply store. It wasn’t expensive to decorate.

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The juice station was “the watering hole”, and our bathroom was labelled as “the outhouse”.

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These were the snacks on the food table.

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For the cake, I just decorated it with sprinkles and used little wild west figurines to make a cowboy scene.

IMG_7080For lunch we had sloppy Joes! I thought that sounded like something a cowboy would eat. 🙂  It was also easy to prepare for several people, and kid-friendly.

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We also had some games. Here the kids are playing horse-shoe toss. I just used wooden dowels in the ground for the target. I cut out horse-shoe shapes out of cardboard and wrapped them in duct tape to make simple horseshoes for the game.

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Our other game was “panning for gold”. Using pie plates that had holes in them the kids got to look for “gold” in the sandbox. The “gold” was little gem stones from the dollar store.

At the end there were presents, and slowly his friends left. This left Mr. Monkey tired and ready for a nap. During which time his mommy cleaned up.

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As party favors, I found some cute gardening tools at Target and little boxes of flower seeds to give the kids. Not really a cowboy theme exactly, but it was May and planting time was coming.

So that was our cowboy birthday party.

I probably wouldn’t do a theme party for every birthday, because it takes a lot of time to plan ahead. But it’s fun if you’re feeling up for it and have a certain theme in mind.