Thursday, February 27, 2014

5 New Year’s Eve Activities

*This post was originally published on Mom It Forward. I have been working for them as a Virtual Assistant since November. I am loving the job. I have been writing a few blog posts here and there and I wanted to put my blog posts here as well. This post was written and published in December 2013. I have changed it slightly so I can re-post it here on my blog. Feel free to go and look at the original post here:

You know what they say... out with the old, and in with the new. Families like to celebrate New Year's Eve by throwing a party for/with their family and friends. Coming up with activities that everyone can enjoy together is a difficult task,especially when you mix all ages, kids to grandparents. We wanted to take the work out of planning your get together. Here are 5 family friendly New Year's Eve activities that you can use to help ring in the start of a new year and create memories that will last a lifetime.

5 New Year’s Eve Activities For Families

Progressive Dinner

Whether you have a huge kitchen or just a little nook, this is the activity that suits everyone. All you need is three or four families that are within walking or driving distance from each other. Family 1 starts the evening off at 6 pm with appetizers consisting of cheese and crackers, and small bites that can just be eaten by hand with a napkin. Move onto the family with the largest home and a formal dining room with room to sit for the main meal. Finish the evening off at a third home for dessert and backyard space so the kids can do sparklers. This works for families of two or ten! 

Bucket of Surprises

Each New Year’s Eve when I was growing up my mom would do this for our family and anyone that came over for the night to celebrate with us. She would get an empty bucket from the local home improvement store and fill it with six wrapped boxes of surprises. Starting at 5:45 pm the kids would get to reach in and pick a box to open. Each box contained enough “prizes” for all of the people at the party. She would wrap things like noise makers, party hats and necklaces, treats, and sparklers. We would open the last one at 11:45 just in time to hand out the last prize before it was midnight. It was always a blast for not only the kids, but the adults too. 

Movie Marathon with Popcorn Bar

This past year I found myself leaving the New Year’s Eve activities until the last minute. I had also invited over a few neighborhood families for the evening to celebrate with us. I needed a quick and easy night that could be enjoyed by all. I decided to do a movie marathon. I sent an email to the families to have them vote and a certain “Middle Earth” trilogy was unanimously chosen. We timed the start of the final movie so that it would end at midnight. For treats I did a ton of air popped popcorn and bagged it beforehand. I then set out bowls of chocolate chips, coconut, marshmallows, and candy of all kinds to be mixed-in. 

Make a Time Capsule

This idea is great for a family who has grandparents and other relatives visiting for the night. You can spend the evening putting together a time capsule. All you need is a shoe box, empty five-gallon bucket, or plastic bin. Have each child draw a picture of their favorite family activity from this year. Parents can write letters to the kids about the year. You can add pictures, video, movie tickets, or a scrapbook from a family vacation. Once everything is finished, pack up the box with all of the mementos of special events and put it away. You can open it up in 10 years on New Year’s Eve and do it all over again! 

“Drop The Ball” Early

Sometimes celebrating New Year’s Eve can be hard when you have little kids. If you have little ones that can’t stay up until the wee hours of morning (or maybe mom and dad need a good night’s sleep) try having an early midnight. All you need to do is make your own ball to drop. You can buy a large Styrofoam ball at the craft store. You will also need craft glue, and sequins. Let the kids decorate the ball with sequins and ribbon. Attach a ribbon to the ball and hang it from the ceiling. You can cut the ribbon at the stroke of 9 pm and celebrate the “dropping” of the ball with the kids. You are then free to tuck everyone into bed and nobody missed a thing!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

5 Family Hikes in Washington DC Area

*This post was originally published on Mom It Forward. I have been working for them as a Virtual Assistant since November. I am loving the job. I have been writing a few blog posts here and there and I wanted to put my blog posts here as well. This post was written and published in December 2013. I have changed it slightly so I can re-post it here on my blog. Feel free to go and look at the original post here:

My family recently moved to the east coast after spending over 12 years in Utah. This move has been a huge change for all of us, especially the kids. We were worried with the move that we wouldn't find the same sort of outdoor adventure activities that we loved doing in Utah. We definitely were wrong! Within days of getting settled in the new house we were hiking The Appalachian Trail. With over 2,000 miles spanning from Maine to Georgia, we choose an easy family friendly four mile hike right around the corner from our house. We found The Appalachian Trail Conservancy in Harpers Ferry which is just over an hour outside of Washington DC. They preserve and manage the care of the Appalachian Trail year round. They were able to give us all kinds of great information on hiking with the kids and where to go. The kids had a great time and can’t wait to do a lot more hiking. We have already made a list of hikes that we want to try this winter.

5 Family Hikes in Washington DC Area 

Here are five hikes that are within driving distance of Washington DC. 

1. Compton Gap to Compton Peak in Front Royal, VA. 

This is a moderately difficulty hike. It is 2.4 miles round trip, with a climb of 835 feet but the hike is worth it when you get to the beautiful overlook at the top. Parking is available at Compton Gap, which is located at mile 10.4 on Skyline Drive. 

2. C&O Canal Towpath in Harpers Ferry, WV. 

This is an easy hike, great for families with little ones. It is a 1 mile to 5.4 mile round trip hike. It is great because you can backtrack at any point. On this hike you can experience a little civil War history. You will walk right through Historic Harpers Ferry. There are many places for food and drink stops on this hike which makes it idea for a family day excursion. 

3. Crampton Gap Burkittsville, MD. 

This is a very easy hike. It can be as short as .5 of a mile to 5 miles round trip. It is a backtrack hike so you can turn around at any point when the family starts to get tired. On this hike you will see historical buildings and monuments. It also has picnic areas for rests and a picnic lunch. 

4. Washington Monument Burkittsville, MD. 

This is an easy to moderate hike for older kids and parents. It starts at .4 of a mile and goes about 8 miles. It is a very popular day hike. This hike starts in the Washington Monument State Park. You can hike to see the first completed monument that was dedicated to the memory of George Washington.

5. Keys Gap to Harpers Ferry, WV. 

This is an easy to moderate (mostly downhill) hike. It is 6.1 miles all the way through. This is a perfect day hike. This hike takes you through woodlands and then descends into Harpers Ferry. You cross at the point where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers meet. Whether you are looking to entertain the kids on a summer day off of school, or for a Saturday afternoon during the fall these hikes are sure to do the trick. I don’t know what I was worried about; there is more than enough to keep us busy here outdoors for years!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Christmas Day

Christmas morning started like it always does. With a hallway picture! I told my kids last year on Easter that it would be the last time we would do a picture... in that hallway. Well, we moved. Plus we spent Christmas at Lewis' mom's house so it was her hallway and her picture. I had no say (but don't tell them, it was my idea). 

This guy hung around all day. 

The little kids enjoyed the mask and loved "picking" the horse's nose.

We played reverse charades. Somehow the only embarrassing pictures we have are of the boy team. I am not sure how that happened, but it did!

The kids got to their stocking just after 7 am. Most of them slept in until almost 7, but the little boys were up talking with Adam at 5 am.

 After all of the presents were open we all went to Katie's house and gave the pet's a feast. they shared a big bag of ham. Oh they loved Allison for that! Then the dogs got to open their stockings. I know, stocking for dogs? Who knew? I didn't know, but Santa was sure good to Mojito! 

 Everyone had a great holiday. Adam got clothes and money. Jason got computer stuff and money. Haley got art supplies and money. Abigail got American Girl Doll supplies and, you guessed it, money.

Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Christmas Week

We spent Christmas with part of my my husband's family this year. The girls got to see their cousins and play in and around DC for a week. We went to the National Harbor and froze, ate lots of food, ice skating, shopping, movies, bowling, and lots more. Here are a few pictures of the before Christmas activities:

Sunday, February 9, 2014

4th Grade Choir and 5th Grade Band Concert

I have finally found something to LOVE about my teeny tiny east coast town. The Christmas/Winter/Semester performances are short and sweet!
Don't get me wrong. I know we all love to see how hard our kids have worked to learn the viola, to do a back-flip, or chop a board in half, but good grief if the recitals don't go on forever!
I have sat through my fair share of 45 to 60 minute (OR MORE) lower school chorus Christmas recitals that I wish I had been wearing earplugs for. What about beginning band recitals? Oh kill me now! They last forever!
But not anymore. I swear this school district should have the motto be "Make It Short And Sweet".

Here they are at home before going to the school. The dress code was "Festive Wear" with black, white, and red.

Such a poser:



And Silly:

5th Grade band:

Haley was chosen to introduce the flutes:

4th Grade Choir:

Abigail introducing the next song:

They both did great. I am so glad that they enjoy participating in these kind of activities. Now if only we can get the boys to do something!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Winter Gymnastics Performance

When you have a child that loves the camera

Almost as much as she loves you

Then you have Abigail.

Abigail started back into gymnastics when we moved this summer. She loves her new gym.

Her team (4 girls) got to make up (with help from the coach) a routine for their winter performance.

Needless to say she was very proud of herself when it was all said and done. She did a great job.

And best of all it was only 30 minutes start to finish.

We are so proud of our hard worker Abigail!