Our three men and our little lady....

Our three men and our little lady....
Our three men and our little lady.... M(13), J(10), D(8) & G(6)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Let Freedom Ring! Our Day Trip to Philadelphia

Today we took the children to Philadelphia for a day trip. Our main destination was the United States Mint. Our oldest son has become quite the coin collector and was very anxious to visit the place in Philadelphia where most of his coins came from. So this trip was inspired by him. When creating our schedule for the summer we made sure that each child could pick one place that we would absolutely get to. 
The Supreme Court Room

The first place that we wanted to visit was Independence Hall. We needed tickets to take the tour there so we got those first at the Visitor's Center. The best thing we did was decide to go on the trip on a Monday because there were no lines for tickets and only a 30 minute wait for the tour! Normally, the tickets sell out by 10am for the whole day! 

Assembly Hall

My husband and I had been on the tour while we were in college but we really wanted to show this place to our children. Its where our great country was born! Where Americans started their pursuit of freedom and independence. Within these walls is where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States were signed. I believe all Americans should visit this most interesting of places. 
Our tour guide for Independence Hall was spectacular. He really brought history alive. One thing that we learned early on is that the Declaration of Independence was NOT signed on July 4, 1776! Congress agreed to the Declaration on that day and so that is when we celebrate the birth of our nation; however, it wasn't signed until August when it had been officially handwritten.

Our next stop was the United States Mint. This is where the coins we use everyday are made! Son #1 was in his glory! Watching coins being produced through his eyes was amazing. He knew every detail imaginable! He proudly discussed what was happening and why coins had the markings they had as we moved from window to window. He could have clearly been a tour guide at the Mint! We unfortunately learned that you can no longer take pictures inside of the Mint. The United States found pictures of the inside of the building in caves in Afganistan. What a shame as there were so many interesting things there that I would have loved to capture in a picture. 
"The Butt State?"

Which leads me to this... There is a long hallway at the end of the tour that features enlarged pictures of the state quarters. Our delightfully smart and adorable daughter was reading the names of each quarter aloud but softly to herself. Commenting on each picture, she stepped along. "Delaware, horse...Connecticut, oak tree...Vermont, tree sap...Georgia, Ewww a butt!... Maine, lighthouse..." My husband and I both cracked up laughing as we heard her description of the poor Georgia coin. But honestly, how many 6 year olds would associate the state of Georgia with peaches? Now, butts... yes, thats a girl with three older brothers talking!

On 7/11 you can get free
Slurpees from 7-11 stores!
With four children we don't usually splurge on junk foods while we are out too often. We had packed waterbottles and cereal to snack on. So the children were so excited to get free Slurpees courtesy of 7-11 stores today! They were the small size but its just what we needed after walking around in the July heat for a few hours. Plus the sugar rush was a nice added bonus to get us moving again!
Betsy Ross House,
not Millbrook Village!
(a re-created town
by our home)
 We next went to take our youngest son to the Firemans Museum. Unfortunately, it was closed on Monday. No one bothered to put that on the map... Thank you for making an eight year old cry Philadelphia! Anyway, on the way back we came upon the Besty Ross house. We went into the gift shop and took a look and then we went back outside and saw where she and her husband were buried. We had seen the pictures of the inside of her house on my Blackberry while trying to decide if we should pay to go in. However, after my daughter said it looked like the houses in Millbrook Villiage I decided it wasn't worth $20 for our family to enter.

Thankfully God with his amazing grace led us down the street to this firehouse where the doors were left open. Not exactly what he wanted, but our little guy was somewhat placated by getting his picture taken in front of this Philadelphia Fire Department truck!  From there we headed to see Elfreth's Alley (The oldest national residential street) and Bengimin Franklin's Gravesite. We didn't actually see the exact gravesite because they charge you to get into the cemetary! Imagine that. We also visited the Federal Reserve Bank, again, no pitcures were allowed in there. The kids really wanted to see the huge 25-foot tower of shredded bills totaling $100 million and the "Money in Motion" exhibit. It was all very interesting and I was glad they liked it because I had to go through one of those new controversial full body scan machines just to get in! The interesting thing is that I didn't mind the scan at all. If that is what it takes to keep me safe from terrorists...scan away. I wouldn't be lying though if I admitted that I was relieved that I wore cute underwear just in case that showed up on their screen!

We next started back to visit Liberty Bell Center. Not many things are as instantly recognized as the Liberty Bell. It is a stunning piece of history as well as an international symbol of freedom. I am sure its physical beauty as well as its symbolic beauty does not escape the hundreds of visitors each day. We stopped to wonder what it sounded like on July 8, 1776 when it rang to gather the citizens for the reading of the Declaration of Independence and what Benjamin Franklin would say and do if he was magically transported into today. 

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
in Washington Square

Our last stop was at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Yes, the eternal frame was fascinating to the younger children but I made sure everyone understood the significance of where we were. The memorial  honors the thousands of soldiers who died during the Revolutionary War. Many of whom were buried in mass graves in Washington Square. The inscription on the tomb reads, "Beneath this stone rests a soldier of Washington's army who died to give you liberty." It was the perfect time to point out that the soldiers of today are still putting their lives in danger to protect our country's liberties.

By the time we were ready to leave everyone was thoroughly exhausted. Our littlest one was lucky enough to get a ride from our oldest as he showed her the true meaning of Philadelphia being the "City of  Brotherly Love!"

Poor guy...he didn't stand a
chance once
the car started moving!
Everyone had their own favorite parts of the trip and we promised we'd come back yet again one day to visit the places that time just couldn't allow.

I hope this post has inspired you to take a drive to Philadelphia to see its amazing sights for yourself. You won't be disappointed and who knows what memories you will make along your journey! If you do go, I would love to hear about your adventure.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Quick Hershey Kiss Fudge

My children just love fudge; however, mommy doesn't like to pay for fudge! I've been suckered into buying the precious chunks at prices ranging from $6 to $15 a pound! Ouch!

Here is our version....Cost was only $5 for just over 2lbs!

Step 1: Gather ingredients. You will need a small pan and a bowl to make the fudge. You will also need 1 14oz. can of Sweetened Condensed Milk and  2 packages of Hershey Kisses. The bags should be around 10oz. each. We used "Cookies & Cream" Kisses this time but you can use different kinds. We have tried this fudge made with Hugs Kisses, Pumpkin Spice Kisses, Candy Cane Kisses, Mint Truffle Kisses and Kisses with Caramel. We have also used plain kisses and added mini marshmallows and crushed graham crackers to make Smore's Fudge. Talk about YUM!

Step 2: Have the children unwrap the Kisses. Kisses go in the bowl and wrappers are put aside for the garbage. My rule is if there are wrappers all over the table and floor you will loose your chance at eating fudge later. My sneaky way to keep the kitchen neat...for now they still believe me! Make sure no one eats any of the candy! If too much is eaten the fudge will not be thick enough to set properly. So as a treat, everyone gets to eat the last Kiss they unwrap only. And as tradition goes...first I kiss my child on their forehead and THEN they get to eat their Kiss!

Step 3: Pour the Sweetened Condensed Milk in the bowl over the unwrapped Kisses. Pop it in the microwave and heat for 30 seconds. Take it out and have a child mix it with a spatula. Pop it back in and do the process all over again. Keep doing this until the milk and the Kisses are blended together really well. Luckily this takes 2 minutes for me... so each of my children gets one turn to stir!

Step 4: When its ready lightly spray the pan with cooking spray and then pour the mixture into the pan. Spraying the pan is usually an adult job. I let my 13 year old do it tonight and if you look closely at the picture you can see he clearly sprayed too much but no worries. Place the pan in the refrigerator to set. This process usually takes about 3 hours. The longer it chills the harder it gets. Try to wait as long as you can because the thicker the better!

Step 5: When its all set just flip it out onto a cutting board and use a large knife to cut it into SMALL chunks. Just like real fudge, our Kiss Fudge is very rich and you only need a small piece to satisfy your fudge craving. (Not that your children will share this logic...mine don't!)

Step 6: Sit back and watch your childrens' eyes light up and their mouth smile wide as they get to taste their first piece of fudge! Keep uneaten fudge in the refrigerator until ready to eat. Not sure how long this will keep as we usually eat it within a few days! This is a really easy way to make delicious fudge. The whole process takes only 5 minutes or so to prepare and then the setting time. This is a quick and fun project that can make any day more fun! The best part is making the memories of special times in the kitchen with siblings and mom!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Summer is here! All my babies are home!

My oldest son attends Middle School so he was home to assist one of my very best friends in helping me out with the beginning of summer activites! I had painted this sign so that all the children could see it as the school bus stopped for the last time this school year in front of our house. They loved it, as you can see from the photo. (The prince in orange is the son of said friend above!)  Every year I count down every day til the last day of school, starting right after Easter. I love my job at the preschool and its nice that my children get the opportunity to attend a public school but I thoroughly enjoy having all my babies home with me all summer! Are they perfect angels all summer? Not quite. Do they fight with each other? Sometimes. Do they complain they are bored? No way! We have so much to do and have so much fun doing it! One thing I have learned along the journey of motherhood is that children grow up when you don't notice it. There is no way to stop it or slow it down. One day you are changing diapers and shoving green stuff into their mouths and calling it food and the next they are running around in boxers, eating an entire pizza by themselves! You get the point. They go from zero to 13 in a blink of an eye. As always, I fully intend to enjoy and savor all the moments I get with my children. We will have fun and laugh and sometimes cry but we will always do it together. I wish the summer will go by very slowly giving us the opportunity to do all the amazing things we want to do together until school starts again.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Princess does The Warrior Dash!

OK, so getting out of my comfort zone completely meshed with starting to exercise and ended up in an adventure that no one could have ever predicted me getting involved in. I have often said that I don't go outside unless its over 70 degrees and under 90 degrees. I don't do snow, I don't do dirt, I don't do bugs. I do mani/pedis, I do high heels, I do lunch at a nice restaurant, I do shopping at the mall. So when one of my best friends posted in January that she was going to run in this Warrior Dash thing in June, the last thing anyone expected ME to do was sign up too! Remembering my New Year's Resolutions I gladly typed in my credit card information to sign up. So for 6 months I trained to be a Warrior! I donned the Warrior Woman tank top and started working my way from not being able to run around my house without being winded to running a 5k in 36 minutes! Life was good! Flash forward to June 12th... With the blast of fire and a very loud horn we were off running in The Warrior Dash. Through knee high mud and waist high water we inched along the 5k obstacle course.  Over walls, under barbed wire and through tunnels. With me only once having to utter out loud Philippians 4:13 "I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength." With a final jump over flames we finished the race and two true Warriors were born!

Welcome to my blog!

Hello! Welcome to my world. I am so glad you stopped by.

This past January, I made a few New Year's Resolutions. Among them were to 1. Get out of my comfort zone and 2. To start exercising. I also wanted to start a blog to share all of my experiences as a mother of four and as a preschool teacher. Both of which bring me immense pleasure and adventures! Although, I quickly found out that getting out of my comfort zone and exercising would also bring me different types of adventures...adventures beyond my wildest dreams! I will definitely write about those next.

I teach 3 year olds part-time during the school year but right now we are on summer break and I am just enjoying having my children with me all day again. Being a teacher by trade,  I love to do projects and take special trips with my children that foster their learning experiences. I believe that life is meant to be lived...and that means doing something and not just sitting around watching TV or playing video games all day long. So sometimes we have planned events and sometimes we just get in the car and go. Of course some days are just lazy summer days spent at our home by our pool!  As a Christian mom, I also think I have a responsibility to engage my children in wholesome activities and to monitor what they are doing, who they are with, and what they are exposed to.  My children still go on playdates and the older ones go to and have sleepovers but most of the time we are together as a family and in the end we are so glad we have each other. Being part of a large family is such a blessing to each of us. There is always something to do and always someone to do it with! Praise the Lord!

While in college I earned a second degree in English and so I have always enjoyed language and writing. Whether in stories or journals, I have found the creative process of writing exciting and pleasurable. Over the past year I have posted many of my professional, family and personal adventures on Facebook. Since I have signed up on Facebook many of my friends have approached me telling me that I should write a book. I have thought of it many times but I honestly wouldn't know where to start or how to write a book. I don't think I could narrow down my experiences into one neat little publication with organized chapters. And truth be told, I really don't think my life would be so interesting to people who don't know me!  So as a compromise for myself, I decided to start this blog to share some of my projects, adventures, thoughts and ups and downs.

I hope you all enjoy what you read, maybe get a good laugh or two, and hopefully take something from it. But always remember, this is my life. I am running my own race....I do what is good for our family and my life. I encourage everyone to "BlogLift" any ideas that I share and have some fun with your own family.

God Bless, Lisa

My children: My greatest accomplishment