This may be the easiest Christmas hack you will wish you were already doing. We have been doing this for a few years at our house, and it has allowed us to sit back and relax while the children open their presents. When the kids wake up on Christmas morning, they open their stockings first to find out what wrapping paper is theirs. Santa gives them each their own wrapping paper, and then there is a wrapping paper for group gifts. With a warm cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll, I savor the moments while my kids take turns opening up their presents and cleaning up after themselves. Wait! What?! You may be wondering how we managed to get them to do that. I know when I was little, it was my dad’s official Christmas job to stand guard with a trash bag and collect the massive amount of paper flying everywhere. Growing up as the oldest of four, I know how hectic and crazy Christmas mornings can be with a bunch of little ones. This hack will take five minutes and I promise you won’t regret it.With four small children, I am no stranger to online shopping. I can usually count on at least one oversized box around Christmas. Instead of putting it out for recycle, I give it a starring role in our present opening time. Using a coordinating wrapping paper, I wrap the oversized box. This is where I might lose you. As daunting of a task it may seem, it is actually very easy. You don’t need to wrap the bottom. Your edges don’t need to be crisp and you don’t need to use a roll of tape to secure it. Wrap around the sides in whichever way works for your box and the design of your paper. I leave a few inches over the top of the opening and cut slits down to the corners. Then I fold the paper over and tuck it into the box. It is so easy! Now relax because you earned it!
I have no idea how I have made it through three summer pregnancies, because this autumn pregnancy has been taking its toll on me. I have been trying my hardest to rest frequently and drink plenty of water, but that hasn’t done much to keep the contractions at bay.
Now that the dog days of summer are coming to an end we can plan more outdoor activities without fear of jeopardizing the baby’s or my health. I came up with a list of our favorite summer pastimes so we can make sure to squeeze as much fun as possible out of the rest of the season. I also threw in a couple new activities, like messy Twister, that I know the kids will love. Our list is ambitious for the short amount of time we have left, but we are determined to check everything off before we start up with school again.
As vegans, we don’t support circuses. We do support zoos that strive for conservation and education. The Philadelphia Zoo meets both of these requirements with their Zoo360 program. In the past few years, the Philadelphia Zoo has undergone several renovations (including the much improved children’s exploration center: KidZooU, but I’ll save that for another post). They have begun to incorporate exploration trails for their animals, so they can expand their environments.
You may spot these tunnels winding their way around the Philadelphia Zoo’s campus. If you’re lucky, you’ll see animals crossing above you! We were able to watch a tiger use the crossing on our last visit, but I wasn’t quick enough with my camera.
Sometimes you’ll catch animals resting in the tunnels. (I’m almost certain that they are people watching.) We have caught monkeys chasing each other and playing in the treetop trail crossings!
In all of our visits there, I have learned that gorillas are real performers. They know when they are being watched and often they will put on a show. (I’m definitely thinking back to the time they came up and banged on the window and scared the living daylights out of everyone that was watching them from inside…myself included!)
Great news! These guys are going to be getting an expansion all their own! We’re really excited to get to see them travel around the zoo. Hopefully Zoo360 will act as a model for zoos around the country. It would be great if all zoo animals were provided with more freedom like the animals at the Philadelphia Zoo.
What is your must see animal when you go to the zoo?