A Christmas Hack

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.The Easiest Christmas HackWith 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!Easy Christmas Hack

Merry Christmas!

Homeschool 2015

We now have over a week of school on the books.  After defining individual objectives for the year, we dove right into studies.  Maeby wants to learn to read and spell this year, Micah wants to be able to read an entire chapter book by himself, and Abram wants to work on the alphabet and writing.  We had a summer filled with what seemed like nonstop conversations about science and geography, and we are continuing those conversations with a more academic approach.  Micah is already becoming well versed in state facts and abbreviations, and can be caught reading maps randomly throughout the day.  I enjoy being able to adjust our lessons to focus on what my children are excited about learning.  It definitely cuts down on the amount of protests.  We already have a list of ten field trip ideas, including a trip to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty (tentatively in the spring, so we have some time to adjust to traveling with baby #4).  I know that we will face our own share of struggles throughout the school year, but we are happy to be on this journey together.  Without further adieu, photographic proof of how much my children have grown in the past year.  abramhs1 abramhs2maebyhs1maebyhs2micahhs1 micahhs2A look back on homeschool 2014.

Summer Squeeze List

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.



field trip: herr’s factory tour

As a young child, I loved watching Mister Rogers.  I greatly attribute my love of cardigans to his casual, at home style.  One of things that always stood out to me on his show were the tours he took of factories.  He understood that it was important for children to know not only how things were made, but also that people work hard to make things we use in everyday life.  That was a great takeaway for me; that I should value and appreciate things more because of the hard work that goes into manufacturing and production.  This was definitely something I wanted to instill in my own kids, so off to Nottingham, PA we went!

herr's factory nottingham paWe weren’t allowed to take any photos while we were on the actual tour.  We got to see pretzel dough being formed and conditioned, tortilla chips being made and packaged, and potato chips go from potatoes to chips packed into boxes.  I know for certain, without having to question them, that my kids’ favorite part of the tour was when they got to sample warm potato chips.

I would recommend a visit to the Herr’s Factory to anyone that is in the Lancaster area for a day or two.  We were given bags of chips to sample, and we purchased a 10 pack of their new products for just $3.75. (This includes the GO LITE! popcorn I posted about on instagram.  I can’t wait to find it in stores.)

leaving herr's factory tour

You can find out more about the Herr’s factory tour here.

first days of dance class 2012-2014

Two years ago, we enrolled Micah in dance.  He has been surrounded by art and music since day one, so it was no surprise that he loved to sing and dance and perform.  I remember listening from the waiting room during his first class, and hearing him tell his classmates “great job” and offering them other encouragements.  He attends a noncompetitive studio so if images of Lifetime’s Dance Moms pops into your head, your perception might be a little skewed.  I don’t believe there is anything wrong with competition.  It can help motivate some people to try harder and strive for their very best.  I’m just not ready to foster a competitive spirit in my children.  I want them to be able to love what they do before it becomes work or a chore to them.  Luckily they aren’t yet aware of the world of pushy parents and angry coaches.  They love going to dance class and look forward to it every week.  Maeby started dance last year, and Abram is waiting (as patiently as a two year old can wait) to start next year.  I have seen Micah and Maeby mature a lot since they have started taking classes.  They have learned (and are continuously learning) structure, discipline, grace, poise, confidence, spatial awareness, patience, and French (since their studio use the classical terms).  I am so impressed with their growth and thankful that they have a very nurturing teacher.

We have a tradition of taking first (and last) day of class pictures outside of the studio.


micah's first year of dance


micah second year of dance

maeby first year of dance


micah third year of dance

maeby second year of dance