Top 5 Favorite Christmas Events in the DMV Area

Do you smell it? Do you feel it? Can you sense the buzz all around you? My senses are alive with the presence of all things CHRISTmas! As soon as thanksgiving is over in my house we ease right into the Christmas mode. Suddenly we’re humming Christmas tunes and watching Christmas movies. I’m scanning pinterest for new Christmas treat ideas, and checking out local websites for fun adventures to go on during this wonderful season. I try very hard every year to stick to the traditions I started with Johanna and to expand upon them in little ways. No matter what, we have our outings around the area that we simply adore and must do every year. Some of you may have a new family and are looking for traditions, while others may already have your traditions, but are wondering if you’re missing something. For that reason I wanted to compile our top 5 favorite events in the DMV area during the Christmas season.

The Wharf’s Annual Parade of Lights

December 3, 6p.m. – 8p.m.
50+ Decorated Vessels Set to Sail Across the Potomac River to The Wharf from Old Town Alexandria in Grand Holiday Tradition

The annual holiday Parade will feature more than 50 decorated boats sailing across the Potomac River to Washington, DC, from Old Town Alexandria, and will include FREE landside events along The Wharf, including the first snow fall of the holiday season; lighting of the Gangplank Marina Christmas Tree; photos with Santa Claus; live holiday music; a roaring s’mores fire pit; gingerbread cooking tasting; holiday sailboat making; a hot chocolate toast to the season; the illumination of vessels docked at Gangplank Marina and the Capital Yacht Club; and enjoy holiday brews in the Corona Beer Garden. For more information, checkout the website here.

Watkins Park Festival of Lights

Now thru January 1, 2017
5-9:30pm
$5 per car
This spectacular holiday drive-through event features more than one million twinkling lights, wonderful themed displays, and one of the tallest tree displays in the state! Visit the pg parks website for more information.

Winternational

December 7, 11a.m.-2p.m.
Winternational is an exciting celebration showcasing the cultural and culinary traditions of Washington’s diplomatic community. This festival has the atmosphere of a bustling global marketplace with each embassy promoting their country through vibrant displays of visual art, food, handcrafts as well as travel and tourism exhibits. Free and open to the public, guests have the opportunity to travel the world and do some holiday shopping — all during the lunch hour!

Zoolights

Now thru January 1, 2017
5-9p.m.
Zoolights is a free event, featuring live music performances, tasty winter treats, and plenty of opportunities for holiday shopping. More than 500,000 environmentally-friendly LED lights transform the Zoo into a winter wonderland complete with a dazzling light show set to music!

Holy Trinity Student Association Presents A Dr. Seuss Christmas

December 10, 2016
8am-noon
Adults – $10/Kid’s – $8. $5 for Paint and Sip Session

Join the Holy Trinity family for their annual Breakfast with Santa!  It’s a pancake breakfast, picture session with Santa and Mrs.Claus, a concert featuring young carolers, a wonderful gift raffle, sip & paint, face painting, Christmas Bazaar and much, much more! Visit eventbrite to purchase your tickets.

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Free Magic School Bus Lesson Plans

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Johanna loves science. I mean LOVES science. She even loves watching science shows, particularly ones that involve surgery. I don’t exactly adore science. I don’t hate it, but meh. I was always more of a literature and math kind of girl. So when it came to finding a science curriculum that we both could enjoy I struggled. That is until I came across this free Magic School Bus curriculum.

This curriculum allows us to watch the show, then do simple, easy, yet fun experiments that don’t cost a ton of money in supplies. We just finished the Air episode and did the experiment that accompanies it. The best part is that if you are having a rough or busy day and don’t have time for an experiment that is going to take an hour, there are experiments that literally take 5 minutes tops. This is perfect for us considering we have a new addition to our family that takes up a lot of our time. The fact that I can broadcast the episodes onto the tv with my chromecast is awesome!

Recently I discovered that you can also buy The Magic School Bus experiments. They are available on amazon individually for a great price. You can also buy the complete set  on Educents! We have not gotten the set yet, but we are seriously considering it. I’m all about doing what’s easy, and is easier than having all the materials right at your fingertips?

Does your little one love science? What do you do to fulfill their science requirement that is mentally stimulating yet easy for mom?

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Hey, Look, I Made This!

On September 7th in the late evening, after a month stay in the hospital, I gave birth to another beautiful baby girl. My birth story will come some day. Some day when I’m not still in the throws of wrapping my mind around it, some day when I’m not lost in the sea of newborn happiness and exhaustion; someday when I’m ready to relive the ups and downs of it, able to tell the story compactly and neatly, able to let the glory of God shine in what felt like a sea of disappointment, guilt, and confusion.

I love her so much. Having a baby is everything! I’ve left you all out of so much of this journey already that I had to come back to let you know she’s here and I’m in love. More importantly, Johanna is in love. She is the absolute best big sister ever! She lives to help out and love on her real, live doll. I’m so happy God answered her prayer for a sister. Apparently it was just what she needed. And maybe it was just what I needed too.

Presenting…Isabella

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Crayola Color Wonder Messy Kids Contest

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I love art and so does Johanna. What I don’t love is when her art makes a mess all over the house. Paint and marker marks where they don’t belong make me want to ban this form of creative expression in our home. Lucky for us Crayola created the Color Wonder Mess Free line and catch this awesomeness – they are currently running a contest where you can win $250 worth of Crayola Color Wonder products, with a Grand Prize consisting of a $1000!

Now you have a chance to win the products that will keep your house and kids mess free! The color wonder products show up beautifully in the books, but won’t show up on your kids clothes or the walls. As a parent you’ve gotta love it!

How to Enter:

Follow @Crayola on Instagram.
Log into your Instagram account, post a picture of a mess that could have used a Color Wonder intervention. Tag @Crayola and use #MessyKidsContest. Each picture receives one entry. You also must follow the @Crayola instagram account to qualify to enter the contest.

One winner will be chosen each week from now through November 21, 2016, to win $250 worth of Color Wonder products.

One Grand Prize winner will receive a $1000 check.

You can also purchase Color Wonder products here.

The Crayola product, information, and contest rules have been provided by Crayola. Please visit the Crayola Website for complete contest rules and regulations.

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The Trouble with Being Like Me

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As I watch her dance to the African tribal music streaming from her keyboard, I become a little choked up because Johanna has so much potential. It’s apparent in everything she does. I’m blessed to be able to be home with her every day, to teach her, mold her, and watch her blossom in a variety of ways. She is exactly what pure joy looks like and sometimes that overwhelms me. I want so much to do right by her, to not fail at this task that God has given me of raising her. A winding, bumpy road lead me to my God given path of being a homeschooling parent, and I don’t take that for granted at all. I want to do well at this job. I want the Lord to be pleased with me in this job. And I really, really, don’t want to crush or bruise this child while I’m doing this job.

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She has so many questions, usually to which I respond “ask Mr. Google” in jest. She’s curious about so much, and loves to do so many different things. She was recently stressed because she didn’t know what she wanted to do when she grew up. I told her that’s ok because neither do I. Then suddenly, it comes to her. She looks at me and tells me she wants to stay home with her kids, just like me, when she grows up. And it makes me sad. I want to tell her absolutely not. That she’s so much more than that. That she is so much more brilliant than that. Then I wonder if that’s what my mother would think of me. Is that how she would feel about me becoming a homeschooling mom. Would she be proud? Would she understand the need for the sacrifice? That the shaping of my children’s character and morals are so much more. That these kids today are faced with choices and messages that she never dreamed they would be. That society is constantly trying to tell them to be everything except Godly and I have to combat that. I’m willing to give up the hard work that was put into the degrees to make sure that I give my children a fighting chance spiritually. I’m proud of that. I guess I just never thought about my own child taking that route herself. I don’t really know how to navigate these feelings I have. I feel like I’m putting myself down whenever I think “but my God little girl, you can be so much more!” Maybe it’s because she dreams bigger than I ever dreamed. She wants to be an astronaut, a ballerina veterinarian, a princess. She wants to be a surgeon, a musician, a builder. When I was her age I wanted to be a teacher. That eventually turned into a detective, then an actress, a nun, and then…confusion. If I could do any job besides homeschooling right now it would be a missionary or event planner. I never loved science and math the way she does. Never wondered so much about how stuff worked. She does. She asks me challenging questions that make me seriously run to Mr. Google. Her eyes light up when she takes in nature, especially the moon and birds. Her potential is overflowing. And she loves the Lord. She loves learning about God, and going to church, and learning scripture. It all just makes my heart so full.

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Maybe it’s not that I’m ashamed of where I am in life, or what I do for a career. Maybe it’s just that I don’t want her to box herself in. I want her to know that her options are plenty. I know her talk of what she wants to do when she’s an adult is just talk and she will change her mind a million more times before she ever crosses that bridge. I just want her know that she can be something even more amazing than I’ve ever been. That she can do so much. You know, if she ends up being a SAHM, that’s a beautiful thing, but if she becomes a rocket scientist, that’s pretty darn cool too.

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Twinkle Twinkle Little Star…Gender Reveal Party!

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In fall of 2015 JD and I were contemplating whether or not to have another child. We talked about it often and definitely prayed about it. During that time I thought about the things I would look forward to if I were ever to get pregnant again. One of those things was a gender reveal party.

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I hadn’t even heard of a gender reveal party until a couple of years ago, but once I did I couldn’t shake the idea. How exciting! Finding out the gender with your closest family and friends. That I definitely wanted in on.

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So even though we decided not to have another little one, God had other plans, and while adjusting to the journey I quickly started throwing ideas together for a gender reveal. Then I started poking around pinterest and getting overwhelmed.I was in my first trimester and exhausted, feeling ill, and just not in the greatest frame of mind. How was I going to pull off a gender reveal party? Cheaply. I was going to do it cheaply. I soon realized that this party could be what I wanted it to be, not everything I was seeing on pinterest. It wasn’t going to be as elaborate as my other parties because I simply wasn’t feeling up to it and that was ok. Also, we were having it at our house which meant the crowd had to be really intimate, so it wasn’t going to be some huge affair. All of that was more than ok with me.

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So we pulled it off. We did Twinkle Twinkle Little Star as the theme. Instead of me doing my usual treats table where I make a million sweets, I simply did a Sundae bar and I’m happy to say that it was a hit! We had a ballot and did stickers to show how everyone voted. Then my friend Michelle made me this amazing Star pinata to use to reveal the gender. We slipped the envelope to my sister-in-law and she was the only one of us to know the gender up until the reveal. Food was simple. Burgers, hot dogs, chicken salad, fruit, potato salad, and of course, cake.

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It was a good time had by all, and the best part was, I did it my way. Ok, enough of that. Ready to know what we’re having? It’s a….

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GIRL! Another princess to spoil. Awww, we can’t wait to meet you Jelly Bean! You’re already so loved!

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Time to let you in on my little secret

I have thought about starting this post so many times over the last two weeks. I don’t know what has stopped me from posting. Was I trying to find a witty way to say it? Something more clever than blurting it out? I don’t know, but each time I opened my notebook to write, I quickly closed it back and decided that I would find a better way to write it later. A part of me thinks that I just wanted to keep this to myself a little longer, although I went facebook public about a month ago. Still there was this whole section of my life that didn’t know and I felt comfort in that. Believe it or not, I even struggled with posting to facebook. I don’t know why I finally did. I almost wanted to just keep it a secret until I was ready for it not to be.

I’m pregnant.

No, it’s no Earth shattering event, at least for you all. But it changes me. It changes who I am, it will change how I parent, how I wife, how I friend, just as Johanna changed me. One day I will share my pre-pregnancy story, but not now. Right now I’m still trying to figure out this whole two child thing.

Two kids. Two. No longer just Johanna and I. I mean, of course, it hasn’t just been Johanna and I all along since there’s also my husband and her fur brother Pepper, but… in so many ways, it has just been me and her. Since I’ve begun homeschooling it’s been even more just she and I. I like us, me and Johanna. And I’m scared. I’m scared of losing us. I’m scared of how us changes when it’s me, Johanna, and ______________. It breaks my heart that I won’t be able to hold her all night long because there will be a baby to take care of. I’m totally going to miss the one on one. The thought of it ending sometimes knocks the breath out of me.

I know it’ll be good. I know that having a sibling will be amazing for her (or at least that’s what I hear because being an only child and all I don’t really see the thrill). Everyone tells me having two is great, and I’ll love watching them love on each other, and I believe them. She’s excited to be a big sister and I believe she is going to be an awesome sister. She’s going to be a great helper to mommy and she’s going to love this kid. She is ready, she’s all in, and I love that!

I’m not all in. I’m still trying to get all in.My husband is still trying to wrap his mind around it. This baby is not unwelcomed, but it is a bit unplanned so the surprise is real. All of our desires and fears came rushing to us when we found out. Like, is this really happening? It is. It really is. Ready or not, here baby comes.

So that’s my secret. That’s the secret that I’ve been holding close to my chest. It’s the thing that has kept me from being the blogger I want to be. I can’t even explain to you the symptoms I’ve had with this bean. It’s so incredibly different than Johanna.

I’m excited now that you know. I can finally blog about all the things I’ve been wanting to say since I found out. I can do a whole post about symptoms that no one will probably care about but me. I can dish about all the good stuff too.

If you asked me for one word to sum up how I feel today, I would have to say blessed. I truly feel blessed at this moment that God chose us for this one. Yes, everything else I said before is true too, but…a baby…A BABY! God is good.

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