Thursday, November 6, 2014

Amish Country

The kids had a long weekend away from school, FINALLY!  So, we went to Amish country with some friends.  It was so lovely and I am totally converted. Can you convert to the Old Order?  Life is simple and everyone SEEMS extremely happy. Don't get me wrong they work very hard, which is what prompted Harley to say, "I want to be Amish, but a lazy Amish."  I couldn't agree more.  

Our first stop was at the Amish Village Museum and Farm.  It was a great overview of Amish life and Amish beliefs. They take the biblical scripture regarding not being of the world literally among other things that I will let you research on your own.
  Pictured above the kids enjoy the animals and a typical one-room Amish school house.  Notice how my teacher obviously believes in corporal punishment.
We loved driving around the farms and even got caught in a Horse-and-Buggy traffic jam.  More than 40 buggies passed in front of us heading to a funeral. We stopped at farms along the road and bought homemade Root Beer and hand-made wooden toys.  Everyone was so hospitable and patient with our "worldliness". We enjoyed an enormous Amish feast and took a buggy ride with a gentleman that was totally infatuated with Nash. He told me what a hearty, solid boy he was and even took a picture with us which is rare since they do not believe in "graven images." 

We stayed in a REAL train caboose, which was barely one step above camping but the kids were in train heaven. 
True to their natures, and perhaps their mother's, the children were up at first light.  This was my absolute favorite part of our trip. We slipped on our shoes and jackets and just started walking and watching the sunrise. It was heavenly.  We wandered through farms and watched buggy after buggy trot by on their way to Amish weddings. Tuesdays in November and December are reserved for Amish weddings. It was pure bliss.
We finished our trip with a ride on the Strasburg Railroad and a visit to the amazing Pennsylvania Railroad Museum.  
If you ever need a break from the hustle and bustle of life in the city or the suburbs visit Lancaster County.  It always inspires me to live more simply and enjoy the beauty of the earth and my children.  Now I must run. I have developed a sudden urge to purge our home of most of its' possessions, sew a dress and bake some bread. By the way, does anyone know where we can get some QUIET chickens for our backyard?

Halloween Butler Style

The Costumes
The Parties
The Treats & Our Favorite Book
The Pumpkin

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Lunch Ideas

I have been attempting to UP my game in the lunch department this school year. I invested in those super popular Bento Boxes and the kids are loving it.  Atley said he is actually excited to see what surprise might be in his lunch everyday.  Here are a few ideas.  Remember, judging our imperfect eating habits is very sinful!
Starting at the top left corner and moving across:
1. PB&J, Muffin, Crackers, Raspberries, Cheese
2. Homemade Pizza Lunchable with Pita Bread, Cantaloupe and Teddy Grahams
3. Jerky, Pretzels, Cheese, Carrots, Cucumbers, Marshmallows, 
4. Hotdog, Gogurt, Watermelon, Crackers, Carrots, Cookie
5. Homemade Lunchable with Bologna, Cheese, Crackers, Apple, Jell-O, Twinkie
6. Ham Sandwich, Pecan Roll, Carrots, Popcorn, Champagne Grapes
7. Crackers with Cheese Spread, Teddy Grahams, Orange, Apples, Carrots
8. Cream Cheese & Ham Whole-Wheat Bagel, Orange, Cucumbers, Cookies, Popcorn
9. Pasta Salad, Oreos, Apples

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Halloween Crafting with Belle

Harley collected sticks in the yard to create this Spider Tree.  She made puff balls for the body of the spider by wrapping yarn around a fork. Then we added eye-balls and pipe cleaner legs.
Next we made this adorable little Ghosts-in-a-Jar!

She loves creating and is such a great helper when we work together.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

More Letter Learning

 I convinced Nash to create a letter game for Harley. He wrote out the alphabet on Popsicle sticks and then put them in a cup.  He would draw a stick and show Harley the letter. If  Harley knew the letter she would get a candy corn.  When he showed her the letter, Nash would tell her all of that letter's sounds. This also helps Nash. Nash has dyslexia.  He has to scrutinize every word and every letter by sounding it out phonetically. No word ever looks the same way to him twice. It is a struggle everyday and I am recognizing some of those same symptoms in Harley Belle.  So, obviously, I am thrilled when they are willing to work together in a way that is helping both of them. They really have lots of fun together.  She always makes Nash laugh and he can always make her smile.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Our October Tradition

 October is here and it is one of my favorite months. The weather is perfect. I can officially break out the sweaters and hot chocolate.  Plus there is pumpkin and apple flavored everything.  One of our October traditions is the building of Pumpkin Head followed by donuts, cider and the watching of Spookley the Square Pumpkin.

Friday, October 3, 2014


We had a cheap airplane pillow bust open a few weeks ago leaving a trail of little teeny tiny foam balls all over the house.  The kids were obsessed with how they felt and I was obsessed with getting rid of them.  We compromised and made FLOAM.  


2 tsp. Borax
1/2 Cup Warm Water
1/4 Cup White Elmer's Glue
(If you don't have an old pillow like I did,  you can either order the foam balls from Amazon-see above link- or pick them up at a craft store)
Drop or Two of Food Coloring

Combine Borax and 1/4 cup of warm water stir until Borax is dissolved.
In a separate bowl combine glue and remaining water (1/4 cup) and then add food coloring.
Add the foam balls/beads/pellets to the glue mixture and then add the borax.  Mix will with little fingers.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Pumpkinville 2014

It doesn't really feel like fall until we make our pilgrimage to Pumpkinville.  So, now it is official!  Did we have a good time? I'll let the pictures do the talking.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

I Spy Letters

Harley and I are in the Year-Before-Kindergarten-Crunch. What that means at our house, is cramming everything we should have been working on since birth into 10 months. This is futile effort to catch my kid up to the kid who will be reading Steinbeck novels on his first day of Kindergarten.  I made an I SPY JAR for Nash before he started school to help him recognize his letters. Now the time has sadly come for Harley to take her turn with the I SPY JAR.  It is just rice and letter beads wrapped in a mason jar, with an accompanying packet of alphabet sheets. She circles a letter when she finds it, then tells me what the letter is, and occasionally she attempts to make the sound of that letter.

Friday, September 26, 2014

A Typical Saturday

Don't you love the fall?  You can definitely feel autumn in the air here and along with it comes the busyness of the season.  Our Saturdays are spent going from one game to the next and trying to squeeze in time to watch our Cougars play football in the evening.  Harley started soccer a few weeks ago and she loves it.  She is very aggressive, which is no surprise with two big brothers. We think she is the cutest thing in cleats.
Nash is playing fall baseball. He is a talented little player and it is a ton of fun to watch him. 
He was also the youngest player at a special basketball camp  hosted by Christian Laettner of Duke Basketball fame. So, now he is shooting hoops every night that he isn't practicing baseball.

Atley is also playing soccer, mostly because he thinks we really want him too.  His games are long and a little too serious to suit him but it is good exercise.  He recently tried out for Musical Theater Club at his school. There were a little over 200 students who auditioned and only 60 accepted. We are happy to announce that Atley was one of them and will be performing Les Miserables in January. I don't have any pictures of him playing soccer or performing yet but here is a picture of him being punished for using POTTY talk during dinner time.  Yes, he was banished to eating his dinner on the potty.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Harley's Excuses

This is Harley and her friend A. Don't let that cute little face fool you, Harley is a master at getting exactly what she wants. She is full of a million excuses too. She hates cleaning up after herself and comes up with some real doozies to get out of work. Here are a few of her most recent excuses:

1. (Using a Robot Voice) "I'm not capable of that. I am a robot."
2. I'm allergic to working.
3. I'm sick. I think I have type 2 Diabetes.
4. (Using an Asian Accent)  I no understand. I a Chinese people.
5. I can't mom. I'm a lazy person. It is just who I am. You gotta get used to it.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

School DAZE

My minions went back to school last week and we are already feeling over-scheduled, overly tired and pretty much OVER the excitement. I have enjoyed reading on Facebook and hearing from other mom's their reaction to the start of school. Some are super excited, some are super sad and everyone has an opinion.  Mine opinion falls somewhere in between those two sentiments. I shed plenty of tears when the boys boarded the bus and when I dropped Harley off at her first day of REAL preschool.  They are growing up. They are another year older and they think they are another year wiser too. I am also another year older and therefore they will never catch up to the wisdom of their mother.  For the first time in ten years, I have 2 hours to myself per day.  At first I thought like Harley when she said to me, "How depressing it must be to go home without anyone there to play with." I have to admit though, that part is pretty AWESOME. The house is finally getting back in working order and I am so caught up on life that I am contemplating a mini-Teen Wolf marathon this afternoon. Guilty Pleasures. THAT IS THE GOOD PART!
 What I hate about school is the 4 hours between the end of the school day and bed. There is no longer time for fun or adventure or playing. In fact, most days I feel like their is no longer time for childhood.  School forces me to become the ultimate TIGER MOM. The boys have oodles  and oodles of homework each night. Not to mention this week alone we have piano, soccer practice, two soccer games,  baseball practice, two baseball games, theater try-outs, trumpet practice, cub scouts, ballet and two back-to-school-nights where the teachers, administrators and PTA princesses make me feel like my child is not involved in nearly enough after school activities to ever become a well-rounded, successful adult. So, they throw 3 dozen more options at me and tell me how any or all of these activities are vital to my child's development. And I go home exhausted and totally confused. I need a cookie and a Diet Coke. To me back-to-school means this:  You better enjoy those 2 hours of alone time this afternoon because the rest of your day is going to be a living hell of driving, yelling, helping with homework, yelling, making dinner, yelling, driving, yelling, encouraging the practice of piano or trumpet or baseball, or soccer, yelling, driving, yelling, trying to get kids showered or bathed, yelling,reading e-mails about bad behavior, yelling, trying to get kids in bed, yelling, making lunches for the next day, crying. Hold on, I need another cookie and another Diet Coke. That is why I HATE SCHOOL! It is TOO MUCH, too much work, not enough recess, too much competition, not enough fun, too much to do, not enough down time.  Let some things go you say, don't over-schedule yourself, you say.  Go ahead and let your kid be the ONLY one who isn't proficient in three languages and can solve calculus problems in his head while dribbling a soccer ball, you say. Is this life everywhere or do I just live around a bunch of pretentious overachievers? 
BREATHE! As you can see we are still trying to find the right balance in our home.  That happy place where everyone is doing well enough in school, getting daily exercise, learning a musical instrument, developing their talents and mom isn't a raving lunatic.  
 AHH, but look how cute they are on the first day!  Atley is now a SAFETY PATROL. (Terrifying, right?) And of course Harley is running the world of miniature people. Did we ever really have a doubt?