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Mittens & Mittens all Hung in a Row.

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I posted a few years ago about our Mitten tradition. When Lola & Diego were about 3 or 4 I felt so bad, becuase the house was all decorated for Christmas, and every morning they would wake up and ask “Is it Christmas yet?” So I came up with the idea to hang Christmas stockings with a fun surprise inside, and take one down everyday. This way they could see for themselves how many mittens were left, and how many day before Christmas!

Since this will be our 4th or 5th year now doing this, t really is  a tradition! I have learned that since I actually put memory makers in the mittens that it takes a little planning. I thought I would share this years Memory Mitten ideas. You can follow us on Instagram @CincoDeMami

Dec 1: Make Bird Feeders  for the Kindness Elves

Dec 2: Write Letters to Santa

Dec 3rd: Start a new holiday chapter book, and continue to read it all month

Dec 4th: Watch “The Year Without a Santa Claus”  (1974 version) and have popcorn and a cocoa bar

Dec 5th: Make gingerbread houses

Dec 6th: Winterfest

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Dec 7th: Messiah @ Cary Westwood Baptist

Dec 8th: Watch “Elf” and have pancakes for dinner! (special occasion meal 🙂

Dec 9th: Make a reindeer craft and watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Dec 10th: Skype Santa with Portable North Pole

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Dec 11th: Make candy cane reindeer for the Kindness Elves

Dec 12th: We will be out of town, but I found this great Virginia Beach light show 

Dec 13th: We will still be in Virginia Beach, so tonight we plan to go to the Parade!

Dec 14th: Oakwood Candle Light Tour. We went on this home tour before we had kids. We have continued the tradition every year since. No, don’t worry, we don’t drag our small tribe into peoples meticulously decorated homes. the great thing is that the homes are decorated just as much on the outside, so we stop and get Krispy Kremes and walk the neighborhood enjoying all the outside decorations and the music playing!

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Dec 15: Decorate Placemats for the Kindness Elves

Dec 16th: Get our tree at the Jordan Tree farm, where we get to pick out and chop down our own tree!

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Dec 17th: Decorate the Christmas tree, and have hot coco and listen to Christmas music

Dec 18th: Make no-sew fleece caps for the Kindness Elves!

Dec 19th: Watch “Home Alone” and make Santa Pizzas

Dec 20th: Visit the Tanglewood Festival of Lights!

Dec 21st Bake and decorate cookies!

Dec 22nd: Benson Meadow Lights!

Dec 23rd: Wendell Wonderland!

Dec 24th Christmas Eve! We have Fondue for dinner and everyone gets to open new PJ’s, we then play a new family board game.

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If you noticed, most of the this list is free activities, but the great thing is the memories that they will create will last a lifetime and are priceless!

 

 

 

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A Place for Kids to be Kids!

When I was growing. up, one of my favorite activities was making ‘tamales’ from palm leaves and sand. I guess you could call it the California version of mud pies. My childhood was spent out doors.  I spent hours in what is now being called ‘free play’. Our children’s play tends to be so organized and monitored, that we now have a term for letting them just play.

We recently spent the day at Three Bears Acres. It describes itself as “,,,an outdoor recreational farm”, I describe it as a place for kids to be kids and just free play!

Jumping Pillow

A 68′ x 33′  jumping pillow.

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Graffiti Wall

Kids let their creativity flow on the  graffiti wall!

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Mud Kitchen

Our gang got nice and messy while they made mud-pies014

Sling Shot

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Archery

Lola getting her ‘Brave’ on

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Tree Houses

The kids enjoyed the 100ft bridge that connects to a tree house, slides and swings

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Toboggan Slides

This was the favorite of the day! The toboggan run is the length of a football field! No

snow needed for this fun ride!

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Rock n Roll

The kids tumbled and rolled in these, while wearing themselves out, pushing it back to the top

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If you go…

  1. Bring water bottles (there aren’t any drinking fountains)
  2. Wear clothes you don’t mind getting ruined (also recommend mud boots)
  3. If you plan to spend the afternoon, you can pack a lunch and picnic lakeside
  4. Check their website for seasonal activities
  5. Don’t forget your camera!
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My Top 10 Disney World Tips

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We received a nice surprise in the mail a few months back. it was a tax refund for the final adoption credit for Lola and Diego. We weren’t expecting it, which makes it all the sweeter.  I quickly began to make a list of the things that need to be fixed around the house, and Georges had other plans; “The kids don’t care about all these little things that need to be fixed, but a trip to Disney World, they will remember forever!” .  He was right, so we began planning our trip to Disney World.

As the days  went on, I felt like I was planning a month long back packing trip through the Amazon.  I was ferociously consuming Disney blogs and pinning like a crazy women. Most of the advice I got, was good.  But what I learned was that there really are not many short-cuts or money saving tips. I found our 3-star hotel on Groupon and got a great deal. It was not part of the ‘Disney Resort’, but we were ok with that. What did I learn?

  1. Water  Bottles: I actually got some cheap BPE-free water bottles and decorated them with kids names and Disney stickers, so that we didn’t have to search for water fountains.
  2. Disney Pins: This was fun for the kids. I went to ebay, and bought 50 Disney pins for $24. I split the pins between the 4 older kids, and this added a second level of excitement to the trip. The kids searched out Disney employees that had pins and traded with them.
  3. Snacks; I made a trip to Trader Joes and stocked up on snacks to bring into the park with us.
  4. Lunch: I packed our lunches everyday. It was easy to find a nice shaded table for us to sit and have our lunch, and the money we saved really added up.
  5. Reservations: If you do want to eat at one of the parks restaurants. Make a reservation TODAY! Many of the restaurants are booked months ahead of time
  6. Fast Pass: You can now book your fast pass before your trip.
  7. Glow in the dark/light up toys: We purchased glow in the dark items at the dollar store, and handed them out before the parade.
  8. If you need to skip a park, and the city you live in has a zoo, then skip the Animal Park. It wasn’t much of a zoo, or an amusement park.
  9. Epcot: This is not the most exciting park for the little ones, so we turned into an educational experience. Make passports ahead of time to get ‘stamped’ in each country, have a map to show where each country is, talk about and point out architecture, and  traditions from each country. We bought food in each country and tasted the local fare. The kids enjoyed this most..
  10. If you are at all tech-savvy, then take advantage of the Disney site. You can research and organize your itineraries here, as well as being able to store your restaurant reservations and fast pass times. You can link your Disney passes to the site, and in case you lose your passes, the numbers are recorded on line and you can have new passes issued quickly.

 

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Jestine’s Kitchen: A Story to Make Your Heart Sing

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Recently our family was on a trip to Charleston, South Carolina. After a long day of sun and water fun we ended up at Jestine’s Kitchen, a Charleston landmark eatery.  One of the things about Jestine’s Kitchenis that you have to wait in a long line that wraps around this historical building  for up to hours. Luckily we only waited about a 1/ 2 hour. I say luckily because we had the whole tribe of five with us.

Immediately we had a gentleman strike up a conversation with us. We found out he was a retired military officer from NYC. He was on a 3 month vacation on  his boat. We shared the story of our family. How we met, and became a family of 7!

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Before we knew it, we were seated. The table next to us quickly engaged with the children and us. The owner’s of the restaurant were more than accommodating, bringing toys and activities to the table for the kids.

It was a great meal and we made a few acquaintances. When we asked for our bill, our waiter told us that someone in the restaurant had paid for our families meal. They wanted us to know that we have a beautiful family, and they wanted to do this for us.

What a beautiful gesture. Having our meal paid for was such a nice surprise, but more than that what touched me, is that someone was moved enough to act on this beautiful gesture. I hope this makes you smile, and you think of paying it forward today!

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Raven Rock…Rocks!

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We recently traveled to Raven Rock state park for the day. It’s about 45 minutes from Raleigh.Raven Rock consists of many trails that are located high above the Cape Fear River.

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The trail challenged us a bit, but only because it is NOT stroller friendly. Bug walked it and Georges carried The Biter on his back the whole time. When I say that it is not stroller friendly, I mean it. don’t even try it. There are lots of roots and thick sand.

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We  took the Raven Rock Loop trail, which is 2.6 miles. What creates the biggest challenge is the one hundred and forty eight steps that lead to the rocks. The rocks are must see! Raven Rock is pretty impressive with the shear rock bluff overhanging the shoreline of the cape fear river. But remember, what goes down must come up 🙂 The climb up the stairs left us all a little  winded when we reached the top.

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The loop trail also includes an ‘Overlook’. Great for photo snapping and taking in a view of the Cape Fear river. The trail includes many small streams and benches along the way for picnicking. There are several covered picnic areas at the beginning of the trail, and the visitor center is worth a stop before you start your hike.

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Ava Gardner, The Easter Bunny and A Wizard on Horse! Welcome to Smithfield!

When I first decided to write this blog I wanted it to be about fostercare, adoption AND traveling with our kids. In the beginning I posted a few times about travel, but them when things with our fostercare and adoption progressed the blog began to lean toward that subject.

With that said, I wanted to share something fun. Having a large family should not slow families down from getting out  creating memories and enjoying life together. When we first adopted L&D they told us that the best way to form attachments with them was to get out in crowds with them, so that they felt protected by us. Later as they grew, I read that the glue that can hold a family together are the memories and traditions they create together (not blood).

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We have started a great tradition in our family. Every Easter we go on a family hike. Usually this is the time of year that the weather is starting to turn (for the better). After a long winter, it is a perfect time to get out and enjoy nature, and explore together.

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This year, we waited until the last minute to plan. because we thought it might rain. We looked up some local trails and we found the Neuse River Walk. So we packed our backpacks and headed out (after checking out all the Easter booty the crazy bunny left).

The Neuse River walk is part of a greenway that runs across North Carolina from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks. We jumped on the trail in Smithfield. Smithfield is a small town about 30 minutes outside of Raleigh. It’s best known for it’s star resident. Ava Gardner who grew up here. It is not the most progressive city. This is a nice way to say that it’s a city that is still mired in racism. Although the huge billboard  welcoming you to Smithfield with a  painting of a Grand Dragon of the KKK sitting on a stallion rising fiercely over the words Smithfield, NC has been removed. The undertones are still there.

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It was Easter, so not many people were out on the riverwalk, but of the handful of people we encountered I would say half of them greeted us with icey, dissaproving looks.

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It’s a great Greenway, and of course we didn’t let the narrow-mindedness of a few ruin, or even disturb our day. We know that we will encounter racist situations, and it’s our job as parents of multi-racial children to help them navigate  these unfriendly waters, and not shelter them from the real world.  Of course we would not put our family in a situation that we know would be hostile. There are restaurants outside of the RTP area  that are known to host KKK meetings, we stay out of these areas.

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The path is great, and very stroller friendly. There are several waterfalls and bridges along the way, and grassy areas to stop for a picnic. I recommend it for it’s ease and scenic charm. The only cautionary tale is that the ‘local folk’ you may run into will not greet you with that Southern hospitality that the south is so popular for,…well only if all y’all look a little different than them and their Mommas anyway.

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