An Earth Day Activity with Printable!

One of the major reasons we decided to homeschool was because my partner and I thought it was imperative that our children understand science. Like, really have scientific knowledge and the ability to think with with a healthy amount of skepticism. We didn’t want them shielded from politicized issues, because quite frankly, genetics, reproduction, and climate change aren’t political. Or at least they don’t have to be, if you understand the scientific method and what it means within the science community to reach a consensus. Environmental issues are often a glib or a neglected topic.

Earth Day in our house is a near daily topic, but I wanted to celebrate it with the rest of the world and we (the kids and I) came up with a fun activity! Today is extra special since this year’s Earth Day coincides with the first-ever March for Science! Unfortunately, we couldn’t attend a march, but maybe we will in the future.

-Start off with a book that has an environmental spin. For young kids, keep it simple with a fictional picture book such as the Lorax. For older kids, have some texts. “The Green Teen: The Eco-Friendly Teen’s Guide to Saving the Planet” is a great choice.

-The best way to demonstrate how plants work and encourage an appreciation for plant life is to…plant something. Plants literally give us the oxygen we need, provide shelter to millions of animals, fungi, and bacteria, and supply the food chain. As you wait for your seed to germinate, then grow, observe the changes. It’s easy for us to give up because the process can take a long time. Check out this blog to help you track the seedling and to hone observation skills. You can even participate in a larger project with the National Arbor Day Foundation.

-Ecosystem “Guess Who” game. If you remember the game with the silly faces where you had to guess your opponent’s character, you can adapt it to learn more about ecosystems and the organisms that live in them (as well as developing your language skills)! Check out these printables! Rather than describing the picture, the student has to describe the habitat and/or organism while the other guesses what it is. Encourage them to use descriptive words and to focus on a different aspect each time they play. This game is best suited to 8 years old and above.

-To further reinforce the importance and types of renewable energy, build a water wheel together! Check out this website for directions.

-Lastly, get crafty and make wind chimes out of recycled materials. You can use metal washers, cans, plastic bottles, pieces of wood, seashells. Get creative and use materials from the earth!

Share with us in the comments with your ideas, tips, and completed projects. Remember to make it easy and fun!

Happy Earth Day!

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Earth Day “Guess Who” game.

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Hanley: The Day He Was Born

Hanley is my fourth baby. He was a rainbow baby and a welcome surprise! I found out I was pregnant with him after a miscarriage and on my first day back at college. I couldn’t believe it, to be honest. Getting my master’s while pregnant and with four little ones seemed like a huge challenge, especially since pregnancies weren’t easy!

I knew, like I did with his older brother, that he was a boy. I was so sick with him. Morning, noon, and night I would be violently sick. I felt bad for my poor neighbor who had to witness the result of “morning” sickness every day I would leave the house. Poor guy (he and his wife were fairly old) probably thought I was hungover when he kept seeing me hunched over our stoop ridding myself of the constant nausea.

Anyway, his birth. My EDD was May 2, 2012. I actually did begin early labor that day. I had been seeing the perinatologist as I was high risk and because this would be my fist VBAC. (For those not in the know, my first two were vaginal births, but my third was an emergency cesarean).  Labor picked up throughout the day, but I wanted to wait until I was in good active labor to go in. My doctors agreed that this was a good plan.

I noticed something different though than with my first two. Labor was irregular, with starts and stops, but the pain was different. Sharp and very uncomfortable. That night, there were some signs that I needed to get checked so we drove down to Norfolk General. We got there and it was confirmed I was in labor, but the pattern was weird and I wasn’t dilated or effaced a great deal. They gave me a choice to be admitted or to go home. I chose to go home as I just felt that it wasn’t time and I didn’t want to be pressured, particularly since my doctor said there was no reason for concern. He noted that many times, even for experienced birthers (lol), labor can last a…while.

The next day passed with the same routine. It would get intense but then it would fizzle. I didn’t understand it because with my first two-labor was textbook and lasted no longer than 12 hours, from start to finish. This was strange and really frustrating. And a little tiring and painful, but I was functioning pretty well.

I woke up the next day, a Friday, the 4th, in pain with heavy, regular contractions. We all got in the car and headed back to Norfolk. I knew this was the day. We had to take care of a few logistical things, but when I arrived, I was so happy to be out of the car. Traffic in Hampton Roads, especially going from the Peninsula to the Southside, is horrible. Even more so when you are in labor! I walked in and had to stop a few times to breathe and rock, but for the most part, I was talking and walking like any normal day. I was admitted and checked. I was already 8 centimeters and 95% effaced!

Well, I labored and within two hours, I was complete and baby was at a 0 station so I decided to consent to AROM. With my second baby, as soon as my water broke, she was born, so I figured this would be the same. WRONG!  Water broke and then nothing happened. For an hour we waited. The pain, which was very mild to moderate before, became intense. On top of that, my partner needed to go back home, across the HRBT in the middle of the day-that was a huge mistake because that automatically means a three hour commute! While he was gone, the pain got incredibly intense as I felt a strong urge to push. I got checked and that is when we found out the likely reason for my prodromal labor. He was OP. We also found that baby was at a +1. They tried to turn him manually, which seems like it’d be painful, but it wasn’t because they got him off my bone temporarily. But, he wouldn’t budge past the pubic bone and his weight was keeping the last little bit of cervix from effacing. It’s called a cervical lip and it is a tiny bit of membrane on the os that needs to make room. His nose was pressing against it and causing some extreme pain. I have an incredibly high pain tolerance and am generally quiet when I birth. With him, all hell broke loose! When my hubs returned, I was able to manage a bit better, but it was…bad.

This went on for hours.  We even had to do a really painful amnioinfusion. Finally, the doc came in 15 hours after we arrived and about 13 hours after my water broke. He detailed a few options. I could have an hour more and get a cesarean since baby was starting a few decels or I could get an epidural. I opted for the latter. The epidural helped with relaxing my cervix. It was almost instant! I was expecting a few hours, but within 20 minutes, I felt the urge to push, but it wasn’t painful-I just felt pressure. It was amazing. I had never had the epidural and was like, “Wow! This is fucking awesome!”

I pushed once and Hanley Keagan Finn came out looking up right at me at 10:00 (and some minutes-maybe 10:40?)! He never turned. His poor little face was bruised and I was so tired after some 60+ hours of labor, with 18 of those hours being fairly intense. He went right to the breast and stayed with me for hours. He is still so stubborn and very specific about what he likes.

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Moral of the story? Every birth is different! And sometimes OP babies cause their mama’s grief. And the epidural is an amazing tool.

Here is that FIVE year old today! And tomorrow is his older brother’s birthday-I did consider that had Hanley waited like an hour and a half, he and Aydan would share birthdays. But after reading his story, would you want to wait even 2 hours????

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Resolutions for the Phobic.

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I, Heather Horrell, never ever make resolutions. I tend to disdain traditions that I don’t get and I admit freely that I hold an unnecessary grudge against New Year’s. Not once in my adult life have I celebrated NYE.  I have never gotten the chance to dress up in my sequined and sparkly dress (that I apparently own in my imagination), go to a hoppin’ joint, or whatever else happens to ring in the New Year.  Hell, I think I might have seen the Times Square ball drop via the television from my rural,  countryside home as a young teen, but never in real life.

While I don’t regret the six little reasons none of those celebratory jaunts happened for me, I can’t help but harbor a smidgen of curiosity.  I figured if I can’t do the whole shebang, then I certainly wouldn’t encumber myself with commitments that I ordinarily wouldn’t really like anyway and that which I would abandon without abandon by the second week of the New Year.

Except now, these past few months, I have noticed, as Erikson’s Psychosocial theory predicts, (albeit supposedly I have another ten years) that I am longing for some personal growth and a desire to become more active in the community.  Granted, I went through intimacy vs isolation a little earlier than most folks, am firmly done having children, and have completed school, so…

A few commitments don’t seem so bad after all, especially if they help me to become a better mother, partner, citizen, and all-around person.  I figure I can start small with things I want to do anyhow and I can track this last (hopefully) year in this godforsaken place with positive increments of measurement rather than my overall misery at having to live here. I can prepare myself intellectually, socially, physically, and mentally for when the time comes to be a more active citizen all the while presently improving my mothering and so forth.

Without further ado:

1.) Read more.  This is easy. I love reading but have slacked in recent years.  I got a Kindle Fire for Christmas, and voila, I have already completed one fluffy, but wildly entertaining book. Now, I have already started my second, the anthology of Sherlock Holmes.  I’m hooked.

2.) Don’t back down. Inspired by Tom Petty, and my paralyzing inability to “stand my ground” at times, I have decided that when I don’t want to do something, or when I feel sad, or whatever it is, I will speak my truth.  If I say “No”, I won’t relinquish without good reason.  I won’t be a doormat.

3.) Walk.  When we lived in Okinawa, we walked everywhere.  Sometimes, we walked up to 15 miles a day.  Some people hear this and automatically think it was merely out of necessity and that it is cruel.  Well, we were super healthy.  I had more energy. The kids were well-behaved.  And it just felt good.

4.) Call representatives.  I admit, I shouldn’t have waited until the situation was so dire. I should have been proactive and not reactive.  Seeing as how virtually every freedom I hold valuable as a woman, an atheist, and a parent is under attack, I vow to call, write, and share with others why and how to protect our rights by speaking with our representatives.  The situation is so much more crucial for my friends with disabilities, my friends of color, my LGBTQIA friends, my friends who are immigrants.  Part of standing my ground is to affect change where I can.

5.) Be playful.  I have sunken into some serious anxiety.  While I can’t just turn that off, I can be reforming my perspective at times and also be modeling healthy coping techniques for my kids.  I want to just be present and just play with them more.  So, I resolve to be more playful.

I may falter, but at least I have put this out there!

Did you make any resolutions? Share in the comments.

The Birth of Rory

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We just celebrated my youngest girl’s third birthday yesterday.  It was a little bittersweet since I have always considered three to be a bigger transition.  They are officially exiting babyhood and now entering the preschool era.

She is very vivacious, can eat triple the amount some of the older ones in this house, and definitely rules the roost. Oh, and she is incredibly possessive of “her” baby i.e. Bowie.

Anyway, she was born December 8, but she was actually due on New Year’s Eve and I had really hoped she would be born on her EDD because…Harry Potter.  Well, Voldemort really, but I still thought it would have been super cool to have shared a birthday with a Potterverse character.

I had been expecting something to go wrong, which is one of the reasons we didn’t announce her pregnancy. Well, that and I really didn’t want to hear from judgmental asshats since she is my fifth baby.

We had spent that Sunday out and about and had just eaten pizza. The day before, one of my best friends moved out of the area as they PCSed to a new base.  She remarked how she wished she could stay for three weeks! We also talked about how I was feeling.  I was exhausted and my feet/ankles were swollen a little more than I was comfortable.  I told her that if it didn’t subside, I would call on Monday.

Well, the next day, we thrifted, ate pizza, then came home so I could rest.  I had just got through with a meltdown to be honest.  I felt so bad because I had just been a little too loud with my kids about a mess (I yelled).  I felt so horrible for losing my shit.  Anyway, quite literally, after I yelled, I went to the bathroom and heard a pop and felt warm liquid.  I instinctively knew that it was NOT amniotic fluid.  I had been expecting disaster after what happened with my third child, Sarah and a miscarriage I suffered a year after her birth.  I was high-risk since then, but my fourth pregnancy and birth was (mostly) perfect.  I knew my chances though, of having a recurring issue.

So, when I felt what I felt, I looked down knowingly and terrified.  I yelled to my husband to get the kids in the car.  My brother (with whom we live) was deployed and my sister wasn’t there yet since it was three weeks early.  I grabbed a prefold cloth diaper to absorb the blood and got in the car.  Hanley, who was 19 months at the time needed a diaper change but I knew there was no time. I knew that I had a placental abruption.  I called my doula.  At first, I told her to wait, but called back not even a minute later, and asked if she could come.  Thankfully, our hospital was less than two miles from our house,

When we arrived, I said I needed to be seen immediately. That I had an abruption.  They were mostly respectful but they did tell me that there was no way I could know that. That I seemed fine and we’d have to wait.  I just wanted to be hooked up to an ultrasound to see if she was fine.  They eventually did and she was beautiful. I was so scared.  Soon after, my doula arrived and she helped in ways that was best to my situation and needs.  She helped my family and I feel more calm. A little later the doctors arrived.  Just as with ALL my other pregnancies (save for Sarah), MY doctor was not in attendance! Anyway, they kept me hooked up thankfully, ran some tests, put me on Mag (ugh!) etc. and determined a cesarean was our best course.  I was disappointed, but prepared.  Cesareans are scary births for me.  They are hard for me.  My doula and husband really helped me with their affirmations and validations. In any case, I just wanted her out now so that I could hold her and know that she was okay.  During the procedure, I did tell the doc to tie my tubes; that I’d be covert but since it was a Catholic hospital, it was a no-go.  Obviously, there was a reason for that-I was meant to have just one more!

She was born as perfect as can be, but since I was on Mag, I felt really out of it.  She didn’t need to go to the NICU. She was a tiny thing with a perfectly shaped head as one of my yoga peers stated.  She was born around 9:00 PM and weighed 5lbs 9oz.

We did the whole two day stay, I missed my yoga graduation, but we got some incredible hospital photos out of it! I was prescribed Percocet which led to our eventual discovery of  my Opiate allergy. Let’s just say, I am a damn statistical anomaly.

So, that’s it. Aurora Mae Horrell’s birth!

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Why We Need a “Day of the Girl”

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Yesterday was International “Day of the Girl”. Women are half the population, yet our voices are often invisible and/or dismissed and it’s not necessarily with purposeful intent. It’s the result of long-held values and traditions born out of patriarchy. This is one of the reasons we need a Day of the Girl.

But what exactly is Patriarchy?

It is absolutely not a scapegoat, as often implied. It’s definitely not misandry.  And it’s definitely not a figment of the collective imagination. At its simplest form, it means a society built around a male figurehead. But how does that translate to today’s modernized people when there’s all kinds of women in positions of power, who have equal rights, etc.?

Well, it is nuanced and complicated, for sure. When you delve deeper into the history of western society, Judeo-Christian religions, and patriarchy, you begin to see it’s a set of systems that are insidious, subtle, and often upheld by adhering to the status quo, and sometimes by happenstance. While I would agree that we are quickly becoming a more egalitarian society where women are viewed and treated as equals, there are still a few things we need to work on.  Men and women have been working together to break down the structures.  When there are no longer power differentials and strict gender roles, patriarchy ceases to exist.  Having celebration and awareness events such as “Day of the Girl” raises the issues and encourages dialog.

One of the biggest ways we see patriarchy still alive and well is by the sheer amount of “locker room talk” and sexual assault…and by the acceptance of such behavior.  We see it in the way that women have to be described by their relationship to a man to be respected (their wives, daughters, sisters).  We see it in the way we treat our boys who display just an ounce of (arbitrary) feminine behavior. We see it in the way we view men who hold traditional “female” occupations, like Stay at Home Dads.  We see it when we describe women as conquests to “grab”, as sluts when they decide who to have sex with and when, or as puritanical when they rebuke advances. We see it in so-called purity balls because of their implication that a girl’s value lies solely in her virginity.  We see it when we view women as overpowering when they are assertive, but view men as weak who lack aggression. We see it when we encourage our artsy boys to pursue engineering while we discourage our girls from interest in STEAM fields. We see it when people, both men and women, speak out about injustice and are told to get over it, quit looking for it, it’s not real, or it’s “god’s way”.

THAT is why we need a Day of the Girl.

Our girls deserve to feel valued, wanted, and respected.  Our girls deserve to have bodily autonomy.  Our girls deserve to pursue their dreams and have the same chance at success as anyone else.  Our girls deserve to be heard when they report assault.  Our girls deserve to live in a world free of sexual assault and other types of violence.

And our boys?  Our boys deserve to know that they are inherently good, that they don’t have to behave a certain way or like specific things to be a man, and that they can be great allies and agents of change to dismantle patriarchy.

 

 

Rebozo Carry


The rebozo carry is one of my very favorite ways to wrap and hold my newborns. It’s easy once you get the hang of it, fast, versatile, and doesn’t have to be reknotted!

I had no idea what a rebozo was ten years ago. When I first started carrying my babies, I started with the ubiquitous and simple Baby Bjorn. It’s a sort of buckle carrier that you can find and use easily. I loved it! I loved the bright salmon and flamingo herringbone and I loved keeping my babies close.

This blog is in a series that will include video tutorials to help you enjoy wearing your babies in a woven wrap. Sometimes wrapping comes with a huge learning curve, but it doesn’t need to discourage you! Rebozo Carry is great for newborns and quick “uppies”.

In this video, I am using a size two Oscha Starry Night Nebula.  Remember to always keep baby’s chin and nose up, keep close enough to kiss, and check breathing routinely.

Feel free to ask questions in the comments. Happy wearing!

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Skip the Crest, Aim for the Aim

Between lessons, classes, zoo memberships, clothes, food and all the other stuff that we *have* to buy for our kids, parenthood can make you broke. We all know this and we all know it’s so worth it and some of us have even figured out how to NOT go broke, like ever. Good for them. Seriously. I’m not one of them. And I’m a frugal, thrifty b*tch! 

Now, it could be my lack of sleep talking thanks to the six week growth spurt happening here, but I found myself so irritated the other day and having to explain yet again why money is important and what we use it for and how we get it. 

WHY?

Because not even 24 hours after buying a Crest double-pack, the first tube of it was already more than halfway gone. No joke. What do you not understand about a pea-sized amount children???? Oh, that’s right-peas to them are like marbles. After all, they call them food marbles against my instructions. 

Trying to explain how it’s a waste of money is pointless. Their retorts always involve just going to the bank to get more money or…looking on the floor by the soda machines in the grocery store!

So my advice to you (and myself from here on out): get them cheap toothpaste from the dollar store so as to nix the fruitless attempts at toothpaste responsibility. 

Raising a Reader

You want your child to be a good reader. You’ve already started thinking about his curling up on the couch (right next to or practically under you, as children often do) reading what was one of your favorites as a kid.

Wait a minute there, mom or dad.  Your little one is still in diapers. It’s crazy to be thinking about her literacy now…or is it?  NOT AT ALL! There are ways that beginning in pregnancy (Yes, when you still have a uterine inhabitant) you can help ensure a good reader.

It starts with a love of literature and all the related disciplines, such as art and music and pretend play.  How can you begin now? Well firstly, don’t fret! Start with being an avid reader yourself and forgoing any high-brow snobbery 😉

Play music, read to your baby, and be animated in your interactions. Your goal is to share your excitement and appreciation for the world of fantasy that books offer.  Kids, even babies, observe our every action.  Be a positive role model.  You don’t have to read classics if that’s not your thing!  Read for enjoyment.

Starting in pregnancy and infancy, kids enjoy rhyming and over-the-top sounds.  The rhythmic nature of a constant favorite, Dr. Seuss, grabs attention.  Other similar titles, like the Llama Llama series have the same effect.  They begin discerning sounds.  As they grow, kids connect these sounds to letters and words.

Talk to your babies and kids-use a variety of words. Sing songs to them. Provide toys, such as blocks, that “build” representational understanding. It may seem unrelated, but part of raising a reader is helping children understand that letters are symbols. Blocks and pretend play are the foundation to thinking symbolically.

Encourage sensory play with magnetic letters, foam letter blocks, and play-doh.  Describe what you are doing, sing the ABC’s, and make the sounds of the letters.  Provide a literacy rich environment by labeling everything, having a writing center, and a reading corner.  Even for pre-readers, having an accessible space for word discovery is important.

Take your children to story-times and the library.  Get them books for their stockings and Easter baskets.  You are the Santa Claus of books year-round!

There are so many great pieces of literature out there-start finding your favorites now to share and let your child’s love of reading flourish from infancy to adulthood.

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The Value of Messy Play

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Have you ever wondered what your kids are doing when it’s all too silent? You just know that it can’t be good, whatever it is. For parents, silence may be golden, but more often than not, it’s pandemonium waiting to ensue.

You walk around the corner to see that they’ve gotten into your lipstick, or they have your favorite wrench. Maybe they got their play-doh. Or maybe they really are playing quietly with their favorite toy or reading their favorite book.

Now, in your immediate distress, especially if you recently scraped crayon off walls, or if you were about to walk out the door, you classify the lipstick, wrench, and play-doh as misbehavior. I mean, after all, they know better and damn, you really are sick of cleaning up messes.

But let me offer a different perspective. The lipstick, the wrench, and the play-doh are all modes of play. Most likely, your child is not intending to misbehave or even make a mess. Children, especially toddlers and children younger than seven, have a hard time with impulse control. Their little eyes see your lipstick and they automatically want to pretend to be you. She sees the wrench and she sees the firehouse you built. He sees play-doh and he sees possibilities. At the moment they see their new toy, they have a need for fulfilling their creative energy. Their imagination is so vivid while they tackle writing and acting on a new story that they literally forget they are supposed to ask permission.

In this moment of discovery, their brain is lighting up, creating new neural pathways, and framing the world around them.  Pretend play is a child’s way of creating understanding and constructing their own views and learning. It provides them space to explore different sensory opportunities (who doesn’t love the way play-doh feels???).  Most importantly, their sense of wonder is cemented.

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“I just want to look like the Joker!”

Now, in a modern world, how do we reconcile letting our kids explore while also creating boundaries for our stuff/space and for the sake of cleanliness?

  • Let your child/baby lead in play
  • don’t overthink how to play-pretend, create, move. Just being with you stimulates them and ensures no messes!
  • create a space in your house that you don’t mind gets a little messy. Equip it with surfaces easy to clean. You can do this permanently or temporarily with wax paper.
  • purchase clearance makeup for the kids who can’t stop doing makeovers.
  • label his/her toys and reiterate “this lipstick is _____/yours”. It’ll take some time, but eventually they’ll get it.
  • shop different websites for high-quality toys & more.
  • make some toys together out of old paper towel rolls, boxes, etc.
  • identify your children’s needs and preferences. Join local groups for further play. For instance, my third child gets into everything. I eventually realized she feels satisfied by sensory play, hence the cups of water, playing in mud, coloring on walls…so we put her in a weekly art and science class.
  • Have a chart visible so you can keep track of how often messy play takes place and have your child mark the days with a sticker.
  • be clear about what is permitted and what is not. It’s always great if “no’s” can be kept to a minimum, but sometimes circumstances don’t allow for any messes, and that’s OK! Have clear and consistent consequences.

We are still learning here at the HH-we’ve got some messy kids, but if you have questions, post in comments!

Christmas Eve Traditions (WITH activity and recipe!)

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The Horrell House loves the Christmas season just as much as you do! We love celebrating every year and we look forward to the spontaneity and fun it brings, but we also look forward to our favorite traditions.

Christmas Eve is particularly special to us, and as such, we have created some pretty spectacular traditions in our family. They are especially meaningful given that we celebrate the holidays as a secular family and we feel it important to not only use Christmas as a time to explore values such as generosity, but also to relish in the delights of wonder and whimsy.

The entire season of the yule is magical-I want my kids to never lose their sense of adventure and delight that surrounds the holidays…even if we are living in a sub-tropical climate 😉

The anticipation of Santa, of seeing reactions of surprise, of sharing new toys, of eating tasty food, and of spending quality time together builds on Christmas Eve.

So without further ado…our top traditions:

1.) We start the day with our awesome breakfast of sweet potato hash while listening to our favorite songs. Mine is Wham’s “Last Christmas” hehe.

2.) Go to the store to get last-minute stuff. Each kiddo gets to choose one item for dinner. Christmas Eve dinner is easy and laissez-faire. It tends to be a hodge-podge of their favorite food!

3.) Track and call Santa Claus!

4.) Take a warm bubble bath, then open their traditional gift of brand-new PJs.

5.) We load up in the car to go scout the best light displays! This year, we are in a new state, so we’ll see what’s in store. Thankfully, it’s also going to be a full moon-extra fun!

6.) When we get back, we drink some hot cocoa, bake some cookies, and watch our favorite Christmas movies which include Home Alone (throwback to MY childhood!), Elf, The Santa Claus, Jingle All the Way, Frozen, Charlie Brown.

7.) One of the more fun activities we do is play a game named after the poem, “Twas the night before Christmas”. Not only is it fun, it’s a ingenious way to develop reading, writing, and theatrical skills!

8.) Lastly, we set out the reindeer and Santa food, as well as our stockings, and call it a night!

While my kids may not believe wholeheartedly that Santa is real, they wholeheartedly believe that the magic of Santa and all that he represents, is real and good. As a mom, their enthusiasm for the holidays is contagious. To me, it confirms all that is good and right in the world, and that is what Christmas means to me.

For an super-duper easy breakfast recipe, click here!  OR:  Sweet Potato Hash.jpg

“Twas the Night Before Christmas” activity:

  • Sit in circle
  • Have children get a notebook and pencil, paper and crayons, their favorite puppet, or Christmas PJs.  Have the youngest child begin by reciting, “Twas the night before Christmas in the ______ house”. The child sitting next to him/her completes the sentence by either writing, singing, acting, etc. what THEY want to happen. Keep rotating in the circle until your story is complete! Make sure your family is the focus.