Monday, December 15, 2014

New Year Countdown twist!

With the end of the year quickly approaching, I wanted to share one of my favorite traditions that I started with my kiddos, last year. A few years ago I shared our countdown bags and I wanted to update them a little bit so that they weren’t stale.

First year we did them 2008
Each year we set a timer and open a bag an hour from six until 11:55 (its' a struggle to see if the kiddos are going to stay up). I love this tradition because the kiddos can not only participate in the holiday but they can also have something to look forward to and start asking about two days before New Years. I try to change up the bags to keep all parties interested, I usually have at least three children on three different abilities, if not more. It makes it interesting when it comes time to plan the bags. Some years, we did two sets of bags, older and younger kiddos, another year we did a scavenger hunt and the clue led them to the bag to open when the timer when off.

bags hung up for the older ones-2011

close up-2011

we moved all of the furniture out to make room for all the people.

This year we did a scavenger hunt and they had to pop the balloon to find the clue.

Ringing into 2014.....
 for the first bag, there were 12 tea light candles and 12 reflection cards, as we reflected on the question on the card, we lite the candle. By the time we were done it has such a pretty glow to it!

To start we lined up all of the candles in a line and kept the light on. We spoke about how this is something that we need to take serious.

Using the note cards to guide the lighting. 

setting up the bags

candles all set up! 

We started with January and we reflected on something new we tried- everyone went around the circle and then one of the kiddos light the candle.

February- was a month of love- what was one thing that you absolutely love about the year. 
March- What is one thing you wish you could change?
April-Name one way that you grew this year?
May- all things start new- what is a new goal for the upcoming year?
June- Summer starts and is time for fun- what was your favorite adventure?
July- Happy Birthday America- what was your favorite thing about your party, and toys/gifts are not allowed to be part of the answer!
August- Throughout the year, we miss our different friends and family, in this upcoming year, who is someone you want to make an effort to see more often?
September- The new school year started- what was the hardest subject for you in school?
October- Fall has arrived- what is one thing you "fell" for?
November-Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful- are you still thankful for (fill in what you shared at Thanksgiving.)
December- Time to spend time with family, what is your favorite family tradition, it can be from Christmas or any other tradition that we do? and why is this your favorite?

short, sweet and simple!

all of our reflections!

This is by far my favorite 1st bag ever! It was nice to reflect and see what was important to the children. 

The next bag, which is usually just filled with some sort of trinket, was filled with their champagne flutes, jello and ginger ale. We created jello champagne to have during our midnight toast. It's super easy, instead of using cold water, you use the Ginger ale. Mix up the jello mix and place them in the flutes!

The next four bags were filled with noisemakers, bubbles, crowns, hats and silly string (the usual). Again, wanting to change it up, the 11:55 bag, became 11:35. This particular bag was filled with pancake mix, cookie cutters, syrup, and firework sticks. 

I love having my first breakfast as a family, with more and more events taking place at this time, the kiddos had so many places to be, we decided to have our new year breakfast at midnight when we rang in the new year! By the time we were finished making the pancake mix, cooking them and cutting out the numbers it was time for the 11:55 run to turn on the TV and get ready to count the ball drop. 
2014 pancakes, banana slices and of course a festive firework!

I love our new tradition and cannot wait to do it again this year.Happy New Year!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Lunapads are my saving grace

If you know anything about me, it's that I cannot stand wasting money or having negative thoughts about any part of my body, with that being said: a little over a year ago, I switched my disposable feminine products to eco friendly ones! This by far has been the best decision I have ever made, I cannot even begin to tell you! Well actually wait that is the point of this post :)

I hated the dreaded time of the month when my period came. I would be in a bad mood for days, all because of my period. It started when I was younger and was made to feel guilty for starting menstruating at the age of 9, as if it were my fault.With that being said, I have done everything I can to avoid even thinking about my menstrual cycle and well that can obviously create problems.

Let's start with why I love these and there are more reasons than just them being eco friendly! Honestly that is just a bonus. 
diva cup with Lunapads ~ photo credit:

1. I love them because I am lazy and don't want to have to worry about changing a tampon all the time. With the amazing diva cup, you can not only wear it longer (up wards of 10+ hours) before emptying but you can be said and done within minutes. Take it out dump, rinse and insert! Good to go for another huge chunk of time!

2. They won't dry you out! Woo hoo, no Sahara desert going on down there! You know it has happened to you and thanks to the Divacup, it won't any more.

3. As if you still need another reason to want to switch! I don't have to run around looking for a tampon, when I forget it at home. Diva cup travels in a little bag, that is easy to throw in your purse, and stays nice for when the time is needed!

4. Easy to use and saving money? Seriously doesn't get better than that.

5. The Diva cup comes in two sizes, which is great. I have a few friends that always talk about how bad tampons hurts because they are too thick or thin etc. Diva cup has a more natural shape and honestly I forget I am even wearing it. Size 1 is for women under 30 or have never given birth. Size 2 is for women over 30 or have given birth. Simple as that!

Now, the reusable pads, first of all anything that is cute or pretty just makes your period that much nicer. Lunapads, come in a variety of designs and you can even pick which patterns you want. I mean really does it get better than that? 

some of the pretty colors and fabric choices

Aright, let's talk: First I have always hated wearing pads, I felt like I was wearing a diaper and was so worried about people knowing what was going on down under! Seriously, I would always wear black pants/shirts, and would sit as much as possible! Well, that gets very old. 

I came across Lunapads, and decided to give it a try. I immediately loved that they were softer and more gentle than disposable. I mean we are speaking about a very sensitive area! Lunapads do take a little while to adjust to, nothing that isn't worth the time. Honestly, the hardest part for me was just learning how to be comfortable with them. I loved that they snap right onto your panties and away you go! They dry a lot faster and all around feel better. 

The pads come in many different sizes, light, medium and heavy flow, you have to pick what is going to work for you and a I promise, you'll love them! They even make underwear with inserts! Love, Love, Love!
maxipad with insert- photo credit: lunpads

Washing them is easy as well, I use the Nellie's all natural laundry detergent, add it into the wash and away we go! It's that simple. 

I think my favorite part of Lunapads, is there one for one program. Charity is my favorite part of any company and I try to only patron companies that make an effort to help others. Lunapads has a very similar program design to TOMS, for every set of Lunapads that you buy, they will send a set to girls in Uganda. These girls often miss school because of their periods and it creates a world of problems, like dropping out; which promotes the cycle of marrying early and earning less throughout their lifespan. One for One, I love that my money will go to helping someone else.

 What are you waiting for? Try them and change your period!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Review: Welcome Y'all Tags by UniquelyYoursLRC

I absolutely love when I am able to get an handmade fantastic item. I feel good about my product, I am helping a small business owner, maybe they are supporting a family, or saving for a house or just trying to pay off debt. It feels amazing to know I am helping and getting something I want in return!

We recently moved into a new place and I wanted something different and unique for our front door, wreaths are great but not what I was looking for. Then I remembered seeing these door tags before on Etsy at the UniquelyYoursLRC shop. I emailed her and asked if I could do a custom tag and she said absolutely.

Through a couple of emails we came up with the wording, tag color ,  ribbon color and font color. I could hardly stand the excitement, as I was waiting for the email saying that it had been shipped! About five days later, I got an email stating that the tags were shipped! I was dancing and jumping, ok maybe not literally but inside I was.

preview picture from UniquelyYoursLRC shop
My tags arrived and I could hardly believe how great they looked. The color was exactly what I wanted! Not only were the tags stunning but they were exactly what I wanted and had envisioned.

The tags have a new home on our door and they are perfect. LaRissa had great communication, beautiful work, the amount of detail is fabulous and to top it all off, she included a personalized thank you note. High class all the way. If you are looking for a great welcome sign, holiday sign or decoration, UniquelyYoursLRC is the place to go!

Here are my tags on my door! Don't they just look fabulous?
just love my new tags!

they have been up for three days and I have received so many compliments!

Here are some other items from her shop! Check it out you wont be disappointed!

some of the great holiday and family signs available!

signs made for a wedding       

wedding logo and sign

close up of wedding program

custom order         

custom order for Christmas

Aren't they just fabulous? Place your order today! UniquelyYoursLRC is my new go to for any decor items I need.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Travel Tuesday: Vermont: Snowflake Bentley

As much as I am a beach bum, I do think snow is beautiful. I love the way that it looks when it falls and creates this blanket on everything. If only it could stay that way and then maybe I would love it forever. All right who am I kidding; snow in my mind is good for all of a day, ok maybe a week, and usually that is only during Christmas time.
artwork from Vermont-postcard
Source: Stowe, Vermont

In Northern Vermont, there is a place called the Kingdom, it is made up of a few small towns, one of which is Jericho. This happens to be the home of a Vermonter named
Snowflake Bentley, his given name is Wilson Bentley but his love of snowflakes is what made him famous. Wilson was born in 1865 and died in 1926.
Sign on the front of the Old Mill
Museum signs
National Historic Site

What made him so special, well believe it or not his love and desire to learn about snowflakes, Snowflake Bentley is credited with discovering that no two snow flakes are alike, that all snowflakes are begin as tiny water droplets that you cannot see that form into a six branched flake. Now, think about when he was alive, that’s right 1865 to 1926.

Portrait of Snowflake Bentley
Snowflake Bentley studied snowflakes with his microscope and then eventually a camera. The book about his life is really a must read (that’s why it was included in my Vermont Box for my nephew). Snowflake Bentley studied and photographed thousands of snowflakes. You can see some of his original works at the Snowflake Bentley museum in Jericho Vermont. Ironically, Wilson “Snowflake “ Bentley died a few short weeks after being in a snowstorm.
his camera and tools


some of his original snowflake pictures

The museum exhibit is housed in two small rooms in the Old Mill, which has its own history. The museum includes a display of the microscope that was used to study snowflakes, the try that was used to collect snowflake samples and more. The exhibit is very small but interesting.

the old Mill view from the parking lot
The Old Mill

roller mill explanation

The rollers that are not used for different things!

Personally, I wouldn’t make the trip to see the museum as it is very small and we explored the entire Mill in an hour but being in the area, I would highly recommend stopping by.

The old Mill in Jericho is an incredible building; I love the way it looks from afar. The mill or Chittenden Mill was names after the First Governor of Vermont. The mill was making the transition to a more modern process in 1885. It still makes me smile when I think of “Modern in 1885”. The more modern approach of a gradual reduction roller process replaced the old grinding with millstones method.
Old Mill from the bridge

sign on the way to the Old Mill

The Brown River with the use of four turbines and belt driven roller mills this processed the flour that was brought in from the mid-west for the Northern Vermonters powered the mill. In 1859, the millers’ house was built. Where the footbridge is now, used to be a covered bridge.

I have to say that I find history more and more appealing as I get older, its nice to see how things changed to get where we are today.
Some of our treasures from our adventures in Jericho!
postcards and snowflake charms

Snowflake storybook
snowflake Bentley sign

 Have you had your snowflakes yet?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Travel Tuesday: Shelburne Farms: Part Two

As I posted last week on Shelburne Farms, I wanted to break the posts up to keep them shorter but also so that the feeling of the post can change.

Shelburne Farms is amazing at making connections with children so they are able to see how connected we as a people are to the farm. Back into the farmyard we go, remember in the previous post (you can read that here); I spoke about the different activities that you can do every half an hour? The set up of the activities changes a little each day but for the most part, they offer the same ones. This particular morning that we went, they were offering the children to learn about lambs. We learned about their body parts and the children could dress up like a lamb. It was pretty funny to see them putting on lamb parts, then we learned about how lambs have four stomachs, just like a cow. Finally the children were able to make wool bracelets out of the wool collected from some of the sheep on Shelburne farms.

The 30-minute center, started by the children brushing the wool to get it softer and ready to go, then they twisted it into a long piece of string by using a hook and adding more as they needed too. Each one of my babies was able to make one and the best part; they called them their farm super bracelets.
twisting the wool to make a bracelet (see the brushes on the table)
Bean got the biggest kick out of his bracelet

Super power bracelets!

The children love to go to the chicken coop and watch the chickens move around their home, if you are lucky enough to be at Shelburne Farms in the early morning, you can see them open up the coop and watch the chickens explore the farm yard. At the end of the day they also have an opportunity to help put the chickens back into their coop. This is hilarious to watch! There just aren’t even words. Inside the chicken coop, there are interactive activities to learn about the life cycle of a chicken, parts of an egg, the different types of chickens and how to identify them. What is great are these are all things that you could easily recreate in any classroom or school. 
watching her eggs
time for the chicken parade

measuring eggs from the chicken coop

another chicken
all the breeds of chickens and their characteristics

cycles of eggs

Inside the barn are more activities for the children to play with and again make all of those connections. They have puzzles of the animals so the children can learn all of the parts; there are tractors to climb on, to push and to take apart. There is a reading library with all books about animals and farm life. How about some weaving with wool strips made from the sheep. You could spend an entire afternoon in the playroom; they have dress up so you can dress up like a farmer.
dress like a farmer

don't you just love a carpet made out of veggies

play with farm tools

host your own farmers market

learning parts of a lamb, weaving

do you know the difference?

piggy parts!

your turn?

time for weaving

Moving back outside to the animals, you can milk cows and learn all about the amount of milk they produce and the many things that you can make with milk. I love listening to the groups of children and their answers! All of the staff that work at the farm are called Farmer and their name. My kiddos got the biggest kick out of being called Farmer Pumpkin, Bean and Peanut. It just helps to set the tone and helps to again make those connections.

Peanut milking Ariella
Pumpkin milking Ariella

Bean milking Ariella

Ariella, pregnant with another calf

Woodstock, one of the calves

During one of the trips we were able to help groom the horses, the children learned how to walk around a horse, how to care for a horse and even the proper way to behave around a horse.
they loved grooming the horse
saying hello

"tickling the horse"

ready for his close up!

Not all of the activities on the farm are guided by the “farmer staff” there are lots of activities that you can just walk around with your children and explore by yourselves. One of my personal favorites is the story hike; you can read a story while you hike one of the hiking/walking trails. Every few feet is a laminated page from a story book Velcroed to a sign. The children loved racing to each page and were competing to see who could get there faster and read! Who can complain about that, exercise and literacy? On this trail there were little tee pee huts that were made from tree branches, my kiddos loved walking into the tee pees and counting how many branches it took to make one.

Todays book: Inside Mouse, Outside Mouse
Hiking and reading! Nothing better!

Hello Donkey

The hike ends right by the donkey pen and one of the many gardens, I didn’t talk about it yet but there is a huge inn on the property and all of the food that is served there is grown/produced on Shelburne Farms, but that is for another post. Back to the mini garden, you can walk through pear, and apple trees, they haven’t started to produce fruit yet so we were able to talk about how long the children thought it would take and making guesses as to which tree was the oldest. We spent the next hour playing in the garden, examining the food that was growing and talking about all the different meals that we could make from those. The children loved eating the fresh berries, and measuring the corn, and picking wild flowers.

don't you love the flowers?



so yummy!

picking berries

our stash!

Moving back down to the farmyard itself, we stopped by and saw the piglets. That’s right Mama pig had her piglets, nine of them to be exact. I will never forget holding Bean so he could see the piglets who just happened to be nursing and him tapping me on the chest saying “Boob” (yes that’s his way of letting me know he wants to nurse). I couldn’t have asked for a better connection to how the piglets eat. We spent so long sitting there watching them nurse and how they moved and moved around to each nipple.

hungry piglets from Miss Piggy
aren't they adorable?

This particular trip ended with lunch in the farmyard and from the food cart. The food cart serves all local food grown in the region. It is a little on the pricey side so, I suggest splitting the meals or just doing a snack. The food on the other hand is amazing; my children had a grilled cheese sandwich with avocado and veggie chips. They adored it, and to top it off, chocolate milk from some brown Swiss cows that we know! I had a roast beef sandwich, with tomatoes, cheese and on a roll made right at the farm!

the food cart
the menu


I hope you enjoyed your “trip” through Shelburne Farms and plan an actual visit there; I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Helpful hints for making a successful trip to Shelburne Farms:

Know right off the bat that you will not be able to enjoy the entire farm in one day, pick what is important and enjoy those activities instead of trying to rush to fit everything in. Enjoy the animals and the moments, you will get dirty, this is a farm, so dress accordingly. I suggest closed toes shoes for the children; it just helps keep everyone safe. If you have little ones, bring a stroller it will be used! Pack water, you spend the majority if the time outside and well it is hot! Finally, have fun and make sure to get a snack at the food cart!

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