The End of Summer…the beginning of YouTube!

I’m so excited about both of these things! Summers are not my favorite, and this year has been no exception. It’s been hot and sometimes miserable, and the ever-present excitement of the new school year has been looming over my head…in a very good way. Kindergarten starts this year for my 5-year-old, and so our first year of “real” homeschooling begins!

And because that’s not challenging enough, I’ve decided to start a YouTube channel…mostly because I’ve been inside all summer thanks to the heat watching DIY videos, and I’m pretty super-inspired. And fall is on the way and so is school and fun and fun and fun…and yes, I’m pretty excited!!!!

So school is starting for us tomorrow! After testing the water for 2 years of preschool, I’ve determined that in order to homeschool we’re going to have to be year-round people. AKA…mama needs a break every 4-6 weeks, so we’re just going to shoot for small goals and go from there. I’m notorious for trying to pack WAY too much into our school time, something that I’ve had to learn the hard way this past year while trying to do school with a new baby. 4-6 time slots give me just enough time to cram in a whole lot, while giving myself a breather to rest and recharge. I’m pumped!

So a good ending to summer was a trip to a Sunflower Festival…pick as many free sunflowers as you’d like! It was wonderful! And while I know that we still have a solid 6 weeks left of summer, my planting guide is telling me to go ahead and plant some kale and broccoli, and the craft stores already have out their fall spread. So I’m calling it…goodbye summer, HELLO PUMPKIN SPICE!

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The Jewish Food Festival

I’m a culture fanatic! I’ve loved different cultures since the first time I stepped foot off American soil. Their traditions, religions, dresses, holidays….but most of all, the FOOD!! Love me some cultural food! It never seems to dissapoint!

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On the back wall they had 3 clocks…1 for the time here, 1 for the time in Jerusalem, and 1 for the Hebrew year (which is 5775, by the way)
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I just loved seeing all the Hebrew everywhere!
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The girls even met a new friend!

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We chose the corned beef, broccoli kugel, and sweet potato tzimmes. I also got the girls a kosher hot dog in order to try to occupy them before they ate all my food….it didn’t work so well. They’re like vultures! My friend Carley came with us and treated us to a cornucopia of desserts, including chocolate hamantashen cookies, rugelach, and my favorite…baklava!

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And of course, ever since I’ve been scouring the internet for a good baklava recipe. Any suggestions? I wonder how I can make my own filo dough…

I was thinking about my own culture and what we might do at a food festival. Casseroles, hands down. Which is basically what happens every single Sunday at any given Southern Baptist Church. And it’s a beautiful, beautiful thing! Cause it’s tradition and culture and history and community….all rolled up in a creamy, cheesy, buttery dish. Gotta love culture!

 

Best Santa Photo Ever!

Being that this is the closest we’ve ever gotten our 3 year old to Santa, I consider this a BIG win!

And on a side note, Bass Pro Shop is AWESOME! Thank goodness the Hubs wasn’t with me or I’m pretty sure we would’ve left with a 4-wheeler. Or a boat. That place isn’t a store…it’s an experience! And they have a winter wonderland with FREE Santa photos! And they had free games and crafts for the kids! Win win win win!! Soooooo glad we live 40 minutes away or I’d be shopping there for everything except bread and toilet paper! No wonder people like to hunt! I wanted to take up hunting after being in that place!

I think I’m developing a shopping-crush…

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Ice Skating with a 3-Year-Old

On my laundry-list of merry-making events, ice skating was near the top. My little preschooler has become quite the girly-girl, and among her many lists of things to do that makes her even more of a princess is ice skating. Not sure where exactly she got that from, but my intuition tells me Sophia the First is probably to blame.

None-the-less, I was really excited to take her ice skating for the first time. Ok, technically 2nd, but the first time was before she could walk, so I’m not sure that counts…

I planned this special day out a few weeks ago, thinking only of when the rink would open and not at all about what the temperature would be outside. It was hovering around 60. But by the miracle of technology, the outside rink was still open and at least mostly covered in ice, so it was perfect enough for us!

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By another miracle, we got there right when they opened, and being that it was early and kind of drizzly and really warm, we had the whole place to ourselves! Which was perfect for the first time on the ice!

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Thank goodness this was pretty cheap entertainment, being that we lasted a whole 15 minutes on the ice before she was frustrated that she couldn’t do a triple spin. I’m just really glad we didn’t invest in ice skates for Christmas gifts this year!

 

Tis the season

I absolutely love this season. Last year was really the first year we got to relish in the pure joy that comes with the anticipation leading up to Christmas Day, the mystery surrounding it, the lights, the music, the smells…as seen through a child’s eyes. It’s one of the highlights of my life, so yes, I let it linger as long as possible. In fact this afternoon I couldn’t be happier to turn on our family’s beloved Barney Christmas movie. She loved that movie so much over the past 2 years that we had to buy a new one (the old one had become terribly scratched). It was instant relief thinking she still wants to watch that movie. She still hasn’t outgrown Barney….yet.

Ugh….there’s that nostalgic ache in my stomach that also accompanies the last month of the year…

But I remember another feeling on Christmas morning as we watched our girls open their gifts…and then more gifts…and then more gifts…

At one point my husband and I looked at each other, then at our very exhausted and overly-stimulated children, and were kind of disappointed in ourselves. We were sure we wouldn’t give in to the mania of toy shopping, and we were sure we bought reasonable toys, but on that morning we could see the exhaustion of them being bombarded with stuff.

So here we are, a year later, and I’m determined yet again to not do that. To not over-indulge in the gifting/consumerism aspect of this sacred event, and instead focus on higher ambitions, primarily creating memories, giving to those less fortunate, and stories. Stories of the Christ child. Stories of St. Nick. And if all these ambitions are accompanied with hot chocolate and cookies, then so be it!

We started off our season with creating a shoe box for a little girl. This was so much easier than I thought it would be! I was absolutely astounded with the maturity of my 3-year-old! I explained to her what we were doing, and repeated it maybe once for her to understand that we weren’t buying for her….we were buying for a little girl who had no toys. By that evening she was praying for “all the children who don’t have toys”. That was a few weeks back, and she still talks about that little girl almost daily.

I was really hoping to be able to volunteer some place this season, but with children so young, there are few opportunities available. One coordinator did place us at the Angel Tree table in the mall for a few hours one morning to help out. We really didn’t do too much except sit there and answer questions, but it was yet another opportunity to explain to my eldest that there are children in the world who need so much more than toys, but toys is a good place to start. I’m really not sure how much of any of this is sinking in, but hey, it’s the thought that counts.

And in case you’re wondering, 2 hours is a LONG time to volunteer with small children! We lasted 90 minutes before they were about to melt like the wicked witch. But the awesome thing about volunteering at the mall is that there’s no shortage of distractions.

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There’s a bear orchestra in this mall. An orchestra made of mechanical bears. Because that’s just genius. And you should hear their trumpet player wail!
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She was absolutely smitten! (The other one was hiding under the table….she’s not much of a Santa fan.)

Coming up next time on the blog: a crazy mother decided to take her small children ice skating for the first time during rush hour traffic in the middle of Richmond in 60 degree weather. Can’t imagine who that woman might be….