5 FREE Christmas Events near Columbus, Ohio

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Central Ohio is the perfect place to enjoy the Christmas season with your family!  The chilled air and falling snow will get you in the mood to take in the sights and sounds with your children.  Here are 5 free Christmas events near Columbus, Ohio!

Scioto Mile Christmas lights

Bicentennial Park along the Scioto Mile is a great place to chill in the heat of summer, but now you can enjoy it once the holiday season hits.  The lights go on November 17th, but the inaugural celebration for 2017 will be a WinterFest event taking place on Saturday, December 2nd.  WinterFest includes a free concert of various local and national performers from 11 am- 4 pm.  Food trucks and beer vendors will also be present, with  a portion of food and beverage sales going to the Mid-Ohio Food Bank.  

If you can’t make it, the lights stay up until January, so swing by after that holiday party or business meeting.

Ohio Statehouse

The lights turn on December 7th at the family-friendly Holiday Festival, but there’s a chance to see the Victorian-era decorations the entire month (check website for times). Located in the center of downtown Columbus, you won’t want to miss the beauty and majesty of the Christmas at the Statehouse.  A visit is also a great way to sneak some education into a two-week Christmas break.

5 Free Christmas events near Columbus Ohio
Photo credit: ohiostatehouse.org

State Auto’s Nativity Scene

Bob Pein, State Auto’s Founder, began decorating the company’s downtown headquarters building in 1932 as a “Christmas gift to the community.” The present day decor, a life-sized Nativity scene, has become a destination for locals and travelers alike.  The display will open Tuesday, December 5th through New Years Day beginning at 5:30 pm each evening with local choirs performing on the weekends.  This may just be your new Christmas family tradition- and it’s absolutely FREE.  Check their website for special choir performances.

Village Lights in Historic German Village

Bundle up the kids and give them a taste of yesteryear as you begin the holiday season in German Village.  German Village is a FREE destination year-round, but when you add luminarias, a Christmas market, and warm beverages, you’ll feel more like you’ve been transported from Columbus, Ohio to Munich, Germany.  The Village Lights Festival is December 3rd from 5-9 pm.  Not only is the event free, but the parking is free as well, with a free shuttle running from 2 local parking lots.  More info HERE.

Granville Christmas Candlelight Walking Tour

A 30-minute drive from downtown Columbus: Granville, Ohio is like stepping foot into a small New England town.  Granville’s Christmas Candlelight Tour is completely free, yet you may want to pack a little cash (along with the kids) so you can enjoy a holiday beverage at a restaurant , or take the children on a magical horse-drawn carriage through the small city.  

Luminaries and lighted Christmas trees will line the streets making for a Winter Wonderland as you pop in and out of local churches to hear Christmas music.  The Granville Candlelight Walking Tour takes place December 2nd from 1-9 pm.  


Check current rates at Columbus hotels.


5 Free Christmas Events near Columbus, Ohio. Take the family and enjoy a night out around the city- from a life-sized Nativity Scene to a Christmas Market or a WinterFest with music. You'll find it all in Central Ohio.


















Best Christmas gifts for the travel-obsessed woman

**This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.**

Do you know this type of woman?  The one that asks for a special trip or a weekend away in lieu of fancy shoes or the latest electronic?  The mom that brags about recent adventures instead of her latest set of wheels?  Oh wait, I’m talking about me.  Anyhow, here’s my list of the best Christmas gifts for the travel-obsessed woman.  Someone send this to my husband, please. 😉

Best Christmas gifts for the travel obsessed woman

Try the World Snack Box

Even if a woman has everything, she still eats!  I love the idea of a snack box because it 1. doesn’t require grocery shopping and 2. can be used by a woman on the go!  The Try the World Snack box is a curated box of locally-made snacks from all over the globe.


AMIR Camera Lens Kit

This is THE gift for the lady who takes a slew of photos on her phone, and really who doesn’t?!  This lens set allows the traveler to take her photography up a notch with a fish-eye lens, a macro lens, and a wide-angle lens!  And it’s under $15.  Sometimes I just don’t want to haul my DSLR camera around, and I’d like to see how this would add to my photography skills without toting all the extra weight.


World Changer Coin Bank

While this bank is a beautiful way to save some travel funds, what is even more important is that it is Fair Trade!  The World Changer Coin Bank from Trades of Hope is crafted in Bangladesh, giving impoverished women the chance to provide for their families.


Best gifts for the travel obsessed woman

HopSooken Packing Cubes

I can’t sing the joys of packing cubes enough.  If there’s a woman on your list that is traveling soon, share with her the satisfaction of having extra room in her luggage and removing clothes that are UNWRINKLED.  I pack each of my children in a different cube, so unpacking is a breeze and then THEY can be in charge of their individual cube.  My set didn’t come with a laundry bag, and this one definitely beats having to bring extra plastic bags.


Best Christmas gifts for the travel obsessed woman

Map art from Minted

I adore this map artwork from Minted.  It may be meant for a child’s room, but I think it could go in many spaces.  Minted also offers artwork of different cities, it would be easy to find something for the traveling woman!  As a perk, you’ll earn 4 Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards points for every $1 you spend at the shop!  Now that’s something to celebrate.  Get the Chrome extension HERE.


Winter shawl/scarf

I know I had a scarf on last year’s holiday list, but they really are the most versatile thing in a traveling mom’s closet.  On our beach trip this summer, I wore a lightweight scarf and it came in handy when we encountered a rank-smelling rest stop bathroom. Yes, you can even breathe into them!  #keepingitreal Scarves can add statement to an outfit, serve as a wrap on a cold airplane, cover a nursing baby, etc etc etc.  Buy all the scarves.  This one is under $15, too!


Best Christmas gifts for the travel obsessed woman

Clear Bottom Inflatable Raft

What more does an over-extended lady need than a clear-bottomed raft to watch the ocean move beneath her?  I DON’T KNOW.  Get out, skipper, Momma’s ready for a rest while watching the fishies. We’ve been talking for ages about visiting Hawaii in 2018 and I think all I’d need to pack is a bathing suit, my sweet family, and this.

Fossil Passport Cover

This pretty in pink passport cover is the perfect stocking stuffer for the frequent traveler.


What’s on your Christmas list?  Any of these items make the cut? 




Best Christmas gifts for the travel obsessed woman

St. Paul Hotel – Wooster, Ohio

Downtown hotel in the heart of Wayne County

Not going to lie, I’m a hotel snob.  I like lush bedding, a spacious bathroom, and good breakfast options.  Imagine my surprise when I found this all at a boutique hotel in small-town Ohio?  Yes, it’s true.  The St. Paul Hotel in Wooster, Ohio is sure to please even the snobbiest of travelers (cough cough, me)!

The St. Paul Hotel is located in the heart of downtown Wooster, just two blocks from the square.  There are numerous dining and coffee options within a very short walk.

If you’re looking for modern conveniences, the St. Paul Hotel offers in room Wi-Fi, heated bathroom floor tiles (ohmygoodness, heavenly), and a rainwater shower plus a hand-held shower wand!  I appreciated that my corner room also had numerous windows and a Keurig coffeemaker.  The amenities kit was Tommy Bahama products.

St. Paul Hotel- Wooster Ohio St. Paul Hotel- Wooster Ohio St. Paul Hotel- Wooster, OhioSt. Paul Hotel- Wooster, Ohio

Maybe what impressed me the most was the history behind this hotel.  The St. Paul hotel has been rebirthed from it’s former life!  From the the early 1900s-1970s, the building did operate as a hotel, but it had a questionable past as a place of basement betting and card games.  Little history is known about those early years as a hotel- although there would have only been one guest bathroom per floor.  In the 1970s, the hotel was purchased by a non-profit group and turned into a subsidized housing, which was used until 2008.

At that time, the non-profit went out of business and a local developer came up with the idea for a boutique hotel.  While the building sustained an entire “gut job,” the interior brick walls were saved for the trendy exposed brick feature.  Dressers, beds, and desks were made by a company in Orrville, Ohio.  Each shower is enclosed with tempered glass made by the Wooster Glass Company.  My favorite piece of the interior may be this piece of stained glassed located in the hotel lobby.  The St. Paul O.P.N. glass was found at a Wooster antique store.  The hotel seems to fully encompass the ingenuity and history of the community – something I really enjoyed!St. Paul Hotel- Wooster, Ohio

The St Paul Hotel is the only property to service the downtown Wooster area.  Parking is free and getting around the small city by foot or car is very easy.  Wooster is located less than 30 minutes to Ohio’s Amish Country and close to attractions like Secrest Arboretum and the J.M. Smucker company store.

I would recommend the St. Paul Hotel for a romantic getaway or a birthday celebration.  The hotel would also work for family travel, but do note that the rooms do not have bathtubs.  Check rates now.

Have you visited Wooster?  Where have you stayed?

**I was hosted at the St. Paul Hotel as a guest of the Wayne County CVB.  All opinions are my own**


St. Paul Hotel- Wooster, Ohio- downtown boutique hotel

5 things to do in Sandusky, Ohio with kids

Sandusky, Ohio is a small city on the shores of Lake Erie that has a ton to offer families!  Sandusky is well-known as the home to  Cedar Point, but most people spend a day on the rollercoasters and then leave town (raised hand here).  However, there’s so many reasons to stay and play in Sandusky.  Here are my suggestions of 5 things to do in Sandusky, Ohio with kids!

#1 Enjoy top notch museums

I would not have thought of Sandusky, a city of only 25,000 people, having two fantastic museums!  I learned so much at both the Maritime Museum AND the The Merry-Go-Round Museum!

The Merry-Go-Round Museum is situated in the old Sandusky Post Office.  The circular building made for the perfect place to house a full 1920s Carousel.  I learned so many facts about Carousels- Did you know that every Carousel has a lead horse where the ticket taker would know to start and stop?  Did you know that British carousels go clockwise, but everywhere else they are counter-clockwise?  Or that carousels date all the way back to the 12th century?  Someone sign me up for jeopardy, this museum was a goldmine!

Kids will enjoy getting to ride on the historic Carousel (included in admission) that travels 9 mph!  If you’re weak in the stomach, I don’t recommend coming right after a very filling hotel breakfast.  I speak from experience!

Things to do with kids in Sandusky, Ohio- The Merry-Go-Round Museum

The Maritime Museum was another welcome surprise.  Sandusky’s location on Lake Erie makes for a history brimming with nautical mystery and drama.  The location wasn’t just known for shipping and ferries though, in the late 1900s, Sandusky was the largest ice producer west of New York City!  Children can also learn how Sandusky played a role in the Underground Railroad.  This was the last stop before former slaves could catch the ferry over to Canada.

Lastly, kids will love this interact pirate ship!  Yes, Lake Erie even had her share of pirates!

Things to do with kids in Sandusky, Ohio- Maritime Museum

The Maritime Museum gives a family discount, offering immediate families admission for just $14.  This is a great deal- allot 90+ minutes to spend here.

#2 Hit the water

You can’t be right on the shores of Lake Erie and not enjoy some water activities!  Kids of all ages will enjoy Sandusky’s Goodtime I.  We took a sunset cruise and enjoyed both scenic views and Cedar Point.  Food and beverage can be purchased onboard- for adults that’s a full bar, and there were pizza slices for kids!  This is a relaxing way to end a day in Sandusky, and prices are affordable- costing our family of 5 less than $30 (under 5 are free).

Things to do in Sandusky with kids- Goodtime I sunset cruise

For the more adventurous, and those with teens, check out Air1Airboats out of East Sandusky Bay!  This was not my first airboat ride, but it was my first trip on rough waters!  What a hoot!  I’m glad I packed my rain jacket (similar), because we got WET!Things to do in Sandusky with kids- Airboat tour

#3 Fill your tummies

Sandusky has no shortage of fantastic places to dine!

How about a locally-sourced breakfast or brunch at Bates Farm Kitchen?  Large portions of biscuits and gravy and farm-fresh omelets were on the seasonal menu.  Chef Clint uses ingredients that you’ll be happy to let your kids indulge in!  I know my kids would enjoy the french toast with Ohio maple syrup.

Needing to caffeinate after a busy day with kids?  Try the new(ish) Boomtown Coffee!  I tried a nitrogen-infused cold brew (think coffee that comes from a tap and looks like a beer).  It was amazing- definitely a pick-me-up!

Wanting a lakefront lunch?  Try the Dockside Cafe.  Not only does the cafe offer up gorgeous vistas of the lake, the food is casual, kid-friendly fare.  (They are open seasonally- only til October 1 this year- so hurry).Things to do with kids in Sandusky- Dockside Cafe

Looking to affirm your sweet tooth?  Toft’s Dairy is a Sandusky institution for all things dairy- including their famous ice cream!  Visit their parlor on Venice Road to try the many flavors.  I love the story behind Toft’s family business, including the fact that all of their milk comes from farms located within a 50 mile radius.

#4 Cruise around town (in an atypical way)

For kids 14 and older, what better way to engage them in the history of Sandusky, than by doing so while riding a Segway?  Yes, Sandusky has it’s own Segway tour!  Jim, owner of Segwave, has the patience of Job with those that are a little nervous or unsure (i.e. – ME).  Jim offers 1 and 2 hour tours of Sandusky, and plenty of training time to get acclimated on the device.  Your favorite part will be cruising right by Lake Erie (and crossing your fingers that the Segway floats).  Just kidding!

#5 Play it up

When we pulled up to Ghostly Manor, I wasn’t so sure if this would be a place I could recommend.  My 7-yr old is afraid of  simple Halloween decorations, so the giant dragon at the door isn’t exactly what you’d expect for a kid-friendly playhouse.  Once inside, I could see why this is the perfect place for the whole family to hang out.  From a roller skating rink to an Escape Room, kids of all ages will be happy.  There is also a haunted house, black light golf, a jungle jym, and arcade games.  Our group of adults did the Missing Deed Escape Room, which was much harder than I expected, we needed various clue to help us get out!

Ghostly Manor is a place you could visit in Sandusky again and again.  I’d consider taking my young ones there if traveling with older children that wanted to be at Cedar Point or nearby Haunted Houses.

So there’s my Top 5 things to do in Sandusky, Ohio with kids!  Have you been to Sandusky?  Were you like me and chose to hit up Cedar Point and then call it a day?  I urge you to add more time to your stay!  Sandusky is celebrating it’s bicentennial in 2018 (more coming soon) and there is tons of revitalization in the works.  You won’t want to miss it!

* I was hosted by Lake Erie Shores & Islands on a media trip.  All opinions are my own.*


Fall Reading List – 2017

I blinked and summer is behind us.  Booo.  But never fear, there is fall-foliage, crisp mornings, and chilly evenings that all make it a perfect time to curl up with a good book.  I’m excited to share with you my fall reading list for 2017!

Fall reading list for 2017.  What I'm reading this fall.

Born for This: How to Find the Work You Were Meant to Do – Chris Guillebeau is best known in travel circles for having visited all 193 countries.  However, he’s been able to build a remote worklife and his lifestyle is intriguing.  I’m most interested in his chapters on entrepreneurship and building a loyal following.

Mother of God – Mother of God is the Madre de Dios, a region of west Peru where the Amazon River begins its course. Paul Rosolie, the author, was only 18 when he left to explore this vast jungle.  You know they say that readers make the best writers, and I’m hoping that reading this travelogue will help me as I write about my travels (albeit I don’t plan to have any anacondas on my trips).

So Happiness to Meet You – From the publisher, “After job losses and the housing crash, the author and her family leave L.A. to start over in a most unlikely place: a nine-foot-wide back-alley house in one of Ho Chi Minh City’s poorest districts, where neighbors unabashedly stare into windows, generously share their barbecued rat, keep cockroaches for luck, and ultimately help her find joy without Western trappings.”  Just released in July, this is sure to be a fascinating read!

The Power of the Other – From the publisher, “Popular wisdom suggests that we should not allow others to have power over us, but the reality is that they do, for better or for worse.”  Ahhh, preach!  “Combining engaging case studies, persuasive findings from cutting-edge brain research, and examples from his consulting practice, Dr. Cloud argues that whether you’re a Navy SEAL or a corporate executive, outstanding performance depends on having the right kind of connections to fuel personal growth and minimize toxic associations and their effects.” From Dr. Henry Cloud, author of the popular Boundaries, this is sure to be a helpful book!

Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World – I can’t think of anything more exciting than a trip around the world, which, in 2017, doesn’t involve much drama, thanks to efficient airplanes and affordable travel options. However this trip takes place in 1899!  Two women, both leaving from NYC, try to break the record for the fastest trip around the world.  Nellie heads east by steamship and Elizabeth heads west by train. I can’t wait to dive into it!

Knights in Training: Ten Principles for Raising Honorable, Courageous, and Compassionate Boys – Folks, can I just say, raising boys is hard?  Especially the strong-willed one that questions EVERY. LITTLE. THING.  I’m always open to new wisdom, and this book came highly recommended.  It will make a great addition to my fall reading.

What are you reading this fall?  I’d love to know!

PIN THIS:Fall Reading list for Fall 2017. Books to read in 2017.

How to have a family-fun day at Put-in-Bay

At 33-years-old and living in Ohio nearly my entire life, it felt like a TRAVESTY that I hadn’t been to Put-in-Bay.  Put-in-Bay is a small city on South Bass Island, Lake Erie, that’s probably most well-known by the locals for it’s flourishing nightlife.  However, visiting with our children showed me that it can be kid-friendly!

Today, I’m sharing how you can have a family-fun day at Put-in-Bay (I’m a poet and I know it).

#1 Take Miller Ferry to Put-in Bay

Miller Ferry is an easy and affordable option to get to Put-in-Bay.  As a cost-conscious family, a quick Google search revealed that Miller Ferry is less than HALF the cost of their competitor.  It’s hard to justify paying more for a boat trip that only takes 20 minutes!  We found the ferry terminal to be convenient and all day parking was plentiful and only $5.  Also, there are clean restrooms at both terminals.

A family-fun day at Put-in-Bay

#2  Rent a golf cart from E’s rental

Located just steps from the Ferry Terminal- E’s Put-in-Bay Golf Carts was a convenient option for our daytrip to Put-in-Bay.  We arrived at a very busy time (noon) and yet it only took about 5 minutes for me to check-in for my pre-reserved golf cart.  E’s has a large inventory of 2, 4 and 6-person golf carts.

Each golf cart is named, and our oldest child enjoyed reading all of the names to us!  Next time I go, I’d like this one. 😉

E's Golf Carts- a Family-fun day at Put-in-Bay

#3  Check out downtown Put-in-Bay

I recommend doing this FIRST thing when you arrive.  I’m not a prude, but there are some things I’m not ready to explain!  We noticed that the crowd changed quickly around 3 pm.  So head here for an early lunch, let the kids play on the pristine playground with water views, and take a spin on Kimberly’s Carousel.

A family-fun day at Put-in-Bay

A family-fun day at Put-in-Bay

#4 Visit Perry’s Victory & International Peace Monument

Families visiting Put-in-Bay should not miss the Perry Victory & International Peace Monument.  The 352-foot monument and Visitor Center commemorates the Battle of Lake Erie, which took place during the War of 1812.  We were lucky enough to arrive just as a Ranger-led educational session was beginning, but the Visitor Center alone is a wealth of information on Put-in-Bay’s role in the war.

The International Peace Monument is the only Peace Memorial in the USA’s National Park Service.  It commemorates the long-lasting peace between Canada, the USA, and the United Kingdom.  These three flags still fly outside the memorial.

A family-fun day at Put-in-Bay A family-fun day at Put-in-Bay

#5 Enjoy the views from a State Park

South Bass Island offers two family-friendly State Parks- South Bass State Park and Oak Point State Park.  Oak Point State Park is the state’s smallest state park at only an acre and a half, but it does pack some gorgeous views of Put-in-Bay and Perry’s Monument (even on a cloudy day).  This would be a perfect spot for a family picnic.Oak Point State Park- Family-fun day at Put-in-Bay

South Bass State Park is more of full-service park that offers camping and a public boat launch.  They also have four cabents, which look like a cross between a yurt and a cabin.  We’d like to go back and rent one for weekend of family-fun!

A family-fun day at Put-in-Bay

Have you been to Put-in-Bay or South Bass Island?  What do you recommend for families to do?  

A family-fun day at Put-in-Bay

** Miller Ferry provided me with ferry transportation and a golf cart rental.  However, all opinions are my own.**


Planning a family-friendly day at Put-in-Bay, Ohio.

Put-in-Bay, Ohio with kids- A family-friendly day at Put-in-Bay

The NEW Whispering Cave Trail at Hocking Hills- with kids

One of my reasons for wanting to visit Hocking Hills this year, besides staying in a super cool Caboose, was to try out the new Whispering Cave trail at Hocking Hills with the kids.  As a family, we’ve been to Hocking Hills numerous times, so it was exciting to know that this time we’d have a new area to check out.  The Whispering Cave/Hemlock Bridge Trail opened in May 2017.

The trail head to the Whispering Cave trail is adjacent to the Hocking Hills Lodge and parking lot.  Unfortunately, the Dining Lodge burnt down in late 2016.

Map from ODNR – red graphics are all mine, lol

You’ll start from the UU and, as I’ve marked on the map, to get to the Whispering Cave, you’ll want to go all the way to the VV (yellow trail).  We did not follow the green trail all the way to the bottom of Hemlock Gorge because it was already a steep descent.

You know your family’s limitations better than mine, but completing the Whispering Cave portion was enough for our kids.  The boys struggled going up all of the stairs and the steep climb on the return, and our 3 year old insisted that I hold her because her legs were too tired.  I believe I counted approvimately 110 stairs, which are always much easier on the way down. Lol.

According to ODNR, the trip is only .8 miles each way, but like I mentioned, there are some steep cliffs.  Make sure you wear proper footwear or hiking tennis shoes.  If you’re dealing with children under 3, I’d recommend something like a Kelty child carrier– this trail is in NO way stroller-friendly.  Check out instead:  Best Hiking Trails at Hocking Hills for Kids

The yellow trail (pictured above) is mostly what hugs the cliff as you make your way into the Whispering Cave.

This way!

Once you arrive at Whispering Cave, the nerve-wracking descent will be over and you’ll be thankful you made this journey with your kids.  The cave is something to marvel at- I’m not sure photos can do it justice.  For us, it was less of a Whispering Cave and more of a “scream bloody murder” as C got a splinter from that pretty new fencing.  (That’s when you’re thankful for a passerby with a Swiss Army knife).

Also, we visited on a Monday in June, and as you can tell, the site was busy.  However, the hike had only been open for one month and it was summertime.  I’ll be eager to see how busy this trail becomes on the weekends.  Will it be as frequented as some of the other Hocking Hills hikes?  I’m sure the scenery alone will cause that!

Have you been to the Whispering Cave yet?  Have you been to Hocking Hills with your family?


Homeschooling a second grader and kindergartner

It’s hard to believe it’s our 3rd year of homeschooling.  It seems like I just had two in diapers and now I have two in school!  ((Cue the weeping))  A few close friends ask for homeschool updates, so without further ado, I’ll share what we’re planning this year while homeschooling a second grader and kindergartner.

If you want to read our past updates on homeschooling:

A really long post about our first year of homeschooling

Second year of homeschooling

The past two years I’ve focused heavily on reading and math.  My philosophy for younger kids is that if you can get them reading and doing math, the science and history and other puzzle pieces will all fall into place.

For Olen, our kindergartner, I’ll be focusing on those two things!  I feel like, unfortunately, since Olen was my middle one in the midst of 3 under 4, he missed out on some of the preschool work that I did with Jackson.  I’ll be doing the same Abeka K5 program for phonics and reading that I also did with Jackson.  The program is probably better suited to a small classroom or private school, but it did set a good foundation for Jackson so we’ll roll with it again.

Handwriting will be the ever-famous Handwriting without Tears.  We’re fairly certain that Olen is a leftie, so hopefully I’ll be free of tears, too, as I navigate trying to teach left-handing writing.

Homeschooling a 2nd grader and kindergartner - Handwriting without Tears

Jackson (2nd grade) will be starting the next book in the series of A Reason for Handwriting.  I really like this workbook and the way it helps us to also learn Scripture.

For math, we’re doing some catch-up and review via a School Zone Kindergarten workbook and flashcards, and then diving right into Horizons Math 1.  Jackson is nearly halfway through Horizons Math 2 and we should complete that this year.  I like Horizons, but I do feel like it moves at a quick pace.  I want my children to master a skill, not just ace the test.  I’ve spent a lot of time reviewing addition and subtraction with Jackson and let’s hope it haspaid off!  He’s starting multiplication this week.

For science, both boys will be studying Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day, although I expect Olen’s role will be geared more towards just coloring in his accompanying Junior Notebooking Journal.

Homeschooling a second grader and kindergartner

For history, we’re going to use the The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child and the accompanying activity book.  Because I love history, this was the hardest curriculum for me to pick.   I really like the Classical model, and I’m hoping this will be a good fit for our family!  I think I’ll be able to gear this for both boys based on the activities- Jackson will be able to do a little more than Olen, but I like that we can all work on it TOGETHER.

The Story of the World - Homeschooling a 2nd grader and kindergartner

For Ohio history, we’re planning field trips to Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Ohio and the Johnny Appleseed Museum at Urbana University.  We’re also hoping to get to Marietta!

That’s probably all for Olen- while Jackson will have his own spelling, language arts, and phonics.

For  Jackson’s phonics, we’re using Explode the Code again.

I call my homeschool the hodge-podge method and it’s because I enjoy many different styles.  I’ve enjoyed many things by Charlotte Mason.  Last year we used a Charlotte-Mason based nature study called The Outdoor Secrets Companion and I’m sure that over the years I will revisit this combination of literature and nature.  For Jackson’s language arts we’re using Language Lessons for Today: Grade 2.

Spelling will be Building Spelling Skills- Book 2.

Building Spelling Skills- Homeschooling a 2nd grader and Kindergartner

We also spend lots of time developing our reading and listening skills by reading aloud.  Over the summer, the kids “earned” screen time by reading books and allowing me to read to them.  We’re reading through the Little House on the Prairie series and will finish The Long Winter this week.  Anyone have any suggestions for when we’re ready to move on from the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder?

The Long Winter- homeschooling a second grader and kindergartner

Per the State of Ohio, we’re to cover health topics like nutrition and body care.  I found this fun book called Nutrition Fun with Brocc & Roll and I think it puts a kid-friendly spin on how to read labels and I can’t wait to get my copy. I’ll be supplemented with some library materials like Nutrition Facts for Kids and Good Enough to Eat.

Nutrition Fun- Homeschooling a 2nd grader and Kindergartner

I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention our darling Miss C. So far she’s been sitting at the table and doing many of the same things as Olen.  She hasn’t been as distracting as last year (but it’s only day 6!).  Today, when she tired of my instruction, she just went to her room and played with her dolls.  We’ll see how it goes as the year progresses.

Tell me- What’s your go-to curriculum?  Do you use any of the same things? I’d love to know!  


Things to do in Ohio in Fall

I’m sad to say that summer is leaving us and the kids are heading back to school.  However, autumn is a glorious season in Ohio and there’s many family-friendly things to do in Ohio in Fall.

Here’s some ideas for what to do in my great state, as well as additional visitor information.


Things to do in Ohio in fall


Ohio River Sternwheel Festival –  September 8-10, 2017  Marietta has been home to the Sternwheel Festival for over 40 years!  I’ve already been charmed by this river town, so I can see why a free family-friendly event would make it even more desirable.

For more things to do while you’re visiting Marietta check out 5 Reasons You Must Visit, Outdoor Adventures via Backroad Ramblers, Explore Ohio’s First Adventure via Big Family Minimalist & Outdoor Adventures via Pickles Travel.

Ohio Renaissance Festival – September 2- October 29, 2017  Want to see a sword fight, joust, or a tale of Robin Hood without traveling back in time?  The Ohio Renaissance Festival is sure to delight kids of all ages through food, shows, and old-fashioned games and rides.  The festival runs for nearly two months with themed weekend programming.  You can check out The Wandering Educator’s review HERE  OR The Adventure Mom’s thoughts HERE.

Backwoods Fest September 15-17, 2017  Thornville’s Backwoods Fest is located near Buckeye Lake.  The three-day festival is an arts and crafts extravaganza of over 300 vendors situated in the woods of Perry County.  The food options are mouth-watering!  Kids aged 10 and under are free, but make sure if you take a stroller that it’s one with big wheels — it’s not called “backwoods” for nothing. 😉

Columbus OktoberFest – September 22-24, 2017  In its 50th year, the Columbus OktoberFest is a free family event located at the Ohio Expo Center/Ohio State Fairgrounds.  The fall tradition hosts a men’s and women’s stone toss & cream puff eating competition (you had me at cream puff).  There’s over 10,000 feet of covered space, so the festival will go on whether rain or shine.

Cedar Point HalloWeekendsSeptember 15- October 29, 2017  America’s Roller Coaster Capital hosts a 7-weekend event geared for the Halloween enthusiast.  Daytimes are a kid-friendly Great Pumpkin Fest.  Once dark descends, though, so do the creepy ghosts and zombies.  HalloWeekends are included in the price of your admission – consider booking a package with a stay at the newly renovated Hotel Breakers.  Find out more on HalloWeekends from Adventure Mom’s post on how to survive if you don’t like the scarier stuff.

Things to do in Ohio in the fall- HalloWeekends


Bob Evans Farm Fest – October 13-15, 2017   Did you know that the popular chain, Bob Evans, actually began in the hills of southern Ohio?  Rio Grande, Ohio is home to this 3-day festival of crafts, kids’ activities and musical entertainment- and of course, a Bob Evans food tent.  Find out more in this post by Ohio Girl Travels.

Take a hike or a road trip to see fall foliage – early-late October  Ohio’s trees put on a show in the month of October.  Fall foliage varies greatly from the north and south ends of the state but consider a roadtrip or a hike to enjoy the beauty of autumn.  Get started here:  Five family-friendly Ohio hikes or Top 5 Hocking Hills hikes for kids

Ashtabula Covered Bridge Festival – October 14 & 15th, 2017  Ashtabula County boasts the most Covered Bridges in the state of Ohio- 19 in total!  Come celebrate all things covered bridges, and take a driving tour while you’re at it.  This is one road trip going on my Ohio Bucket List.

Circleville Pumpkin ShowOctober 18-21st, 2017  Over 100 years old, the Circleville Pumpkin Show is a staple of fall in Ohio!  Test your taste buds on about every pumpkin-flavored food imaginable.  7 parades, a ride midway, and a giant pumpkin contest round out the fun.  Wanting more to do while in Circleville?- Look no further.

Things to do in Ohio in Fall

Apple Butter Stirrin Festival October 21-22, 2017  This Coshocton festival highlights apple butter including demonstrations on how it is made over an open fire.  With family activities and over 100 vendors, this Roscoe Village event is sure to please.

What’s your favorite thing to do in Ohio in the fall?  


Things to do in Ohio in Fall

Thirty-One Gifts – Empowering women + NEW fall line

In my short time as a blogger, I’ve been blessed with opportunities that I didn’t really expect!  One of them happened a few weeks ago, when I was able to attend the Thirty-One Gifts Annual Conference in Columbus, Ohio.

If you live in the USA or Canada, I’m sure you’ve heard of Thirty-One’s stylish and functional purses, wallets, and organizing solutions.  I’ve used their products for at least 7 years, for everything from diaper bags to file folders and travel accessories.  Thirty-One really does offer problem-solving totes for all ages, but what I found out even more from attending their conference is that they aim to inspire and empower woman through Christian values.  They also have some of THE friendliest employees I have ever met!

Thirty-One’s conference is a three-day weekend of uplifting speakers, hands-on training, and a conference shop.  It should have been no surprise the massive crowd at Nationwide Arena, because combining US and Canada numbers, there are over 63,000 independent sales consultants!  Thirty-One is the 38th largest direct selling company IN THE WORLD!

Seeing this caliber of company, it’s easy to understand why they had speakers like Carrie Wilkerson, John Addison, and Dewitt Jones.  Our session included an hour long presentation by Dewitt Jones, who spent twenty years as a world-class photographer for National Geographic.  Being the travel-obsessed lady that I am, I couldn’t wait to hear Jones’ perspective on creativity and success.

One of the first things that Mr. Jones told the Thirty-One family was,

Celebrate what is right with the world rather than what is wrong with it.Click To Tweet

Would it have been awkward for me to give him a standing ovation at that moment?  Don’t worry, I didn’t!

Dewitt talked about how he got started at National Geographic by pitching what seemed like a crazy adventure as a paid gig.  As a young college kid, he wanted to shoot a video of some friends kayaking up the coast of Japan.  The story was pretty funny, but he believes that he got the job only because he kept pushing into life- and it pushed back.

He urged us that were listening with the charge, “When passion and creativity are are there, discipline and commitment isn’t lacking.”  Isn’t that fact?  When we are passionate and creative, we don’t have to wonder if we’ll stay committed.  It’s like the old adage, “Do what you love and you’ll never work another day in your life.”  YES.  (I’m about to stand up and clap RIGHT NOW).

Dewitt wove his beautiful images into his speech, showing us how changing our perspective can completely change the outcome.  In his heyday, he would take over 14,000 photos to get 30 for a magazine spread.  In other words, think how much it takes to train your technique and focus on your vision.

He pushed again, “Life is continually finding the next right answer.”  Wow, isn’t that true.  Whether we are selling purses or writing a blog or raising kids or navigating an airport– We are continually tweaking our skills and procedure to find what works best.

Mr. Jones entire speech aligned with the Thirty-One vision, which is “to give women the tools to achieve financial freedom to support their personal “Whys” and to make the path to that freedom simple, easy & fun, and full of rewarding experiences.”

I’m thankful I was able to have such a rewarding experience by attending the conference!

Now, not going to lie, while the speech was well-received, we ladies love some FREE STUFF.  Afterward, the fall catalog conference swag was released and the crowd was pumped.

Here’s a sample of Thirty-One Gifts fall 2017:

Cinch Sac in Little Bones – My Olen wants to use this for Trick or Treat.  How adorable!

Essential Storage Tote in Moosin’ Around – I know this is geared towards Christmas, but I want to plan a trip to Canada or Alaska based solely based upon this print and have all of my bags personalized. That is all. #agirlcandream

Littles Carry-all Caddy in Grey Lil’ Scribble – this bag is part of the We Give Back initiative…and I can’t wait to use it in C’s room

You can find even more in the new Fall Catalog!

Which one of these products is your favorite?  Anyone else ready to book a trip based upon a bag?  Or, what speech has inspired you lately?


*I attended Thirty-One’s conference as a member of the media and received the above bags for free.  All opinions are my own!*