© twin-mom.com. All rights reserved. Photographed at The Lights of Christmas at Warm Beach Camp, Stanwood, WA.

Family memories: The Lights of Christmas at Warm Beach Camp in Stanwood, WA

The Lights of Christmas at Warm Beach Camp in Stanwood, Washington, has been a part of my family’s holiday season since before our twins were born. I have pushed a double stroller through the lights, abandoned ship soon after entering the lights (off day for the toddlers), and been quietly in awe of the lights for every Christmas for as long as I have been a mom. My twins remember The Lights of Christmas as “the Christmas festival,” and every year their experiences and their reactions become a measure of how much they’ve grown.

This year I have twin kindergarteners, and let’s just say that they’re very independent. Sometimes darting here and there, they know the lay of the land – where the petting farm is, where the tunnel of lights is, when to point out Rudolph’s nose and Santa’s rooftop sleigh.

© twin-mom.com. All rights reserved. Photographed at The Lights of Christmas at Warm Beach Camp, Stanwood, WA.
The Lights of Christmas is a large but manageable 15 acres. The many volunteers are kind and welcoming to us, with big smiles and enthusiasm. It’s a kid-friendly place, although we see young couples, multi-generational family groups, and packs of friends all enjoying the lights and pointing out their favorites in many different languages.

There are over one million lights in impressive and funny displays. This year, we liked the leaping orcas and the swimming fish, and the model train village at Joyland Central Station was a big hit. I’ve always liked the angels and my twins enjoyed the petting farm’s goats and llamas. This was the first year we made it onto the Polar Express Train Ride, and after some angst in the line (the wait was short, anticipation high), my twins enjoyed waving at everyone while taking the grand tour.

© twin-mom.com. All rights reserved. Photographed at The Lights of Christmas at Warm Beach Camp, Stanwood, WA.

In our house, life is busy and we have a lot of commitments. Our simple strand of Christmas lights sometimes barely makes it up onto the house by mid-December. At The Lights of Christmas, the vision of that much work, that much planning and effort to celebrate the holidays, is something my husband and I admire every year.

The Lights of Christmas is a holiday tradition that I hope will always be part of my kids’ lives. With all of the impressive lights, music, and tasty food, it is still a quiet and reflective place for me. You see the hands of caring people when you visit The Lights of Christmas. I’m not sure what can get better than that.

© twin-mom.com. All rights reserved. Photographed at The Lights of Christmas at Warm Beach Camp, Stanwood, WA.

Some tips from our visits:

Photos: You’ll want to take photos of your family and friends but remember that it’s a night display, with low light and moving subjects – a challenge for most of us. Have a  good charge on your camera or phone and try photos at the larger displays with multiple light sources.

What to wear: There are fun indoor activities, but much of the experience is outside. The paths are a mixture of pavement and dirt, so plan to dress warmly for the weather with comfortable walking shoes. With babies, bring your carrier or sturdy stroller. There were rentals at the entrance.

Cash for food: The Lights of Christmas opens at 5 p.m. and we spent about two hours there this year. That’s dinner time, or at least “I’m hungry, mom!” time. Bring cash for food. There are ATMs available. We saw lots of budget-friendly food options, like pizza, burgers, sandwiches, donuts, salads, coffee and warm drinks.

Helpful website: The Lights of Christmas has a new website that was really helpful for me. It has directions, information about costs, discounts, activities, and online reservations for the shows and accommodations. Check it out at www.thelightsofchristmas.com.

From twin-mom.com and my family, I wish you Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and good health to you and your family in the New Year!

14.12.10 scriptures

Disclosure: twin-mom.com received admissions to The Lights of Christmas for review purposes this year. Opinions are the writer’s own.

About twin-mom.com and Linda Jenkins:

twin-mom.com Linda Jenkinstwin-mom.com is a blog about family life and travels in the Pacific Northwest, with some wish list finds just for moms, too. Follow Linda and her busy family as they enjoy close-to-home and accessible family fun.

Former attorney Linda Jenkins is a Pacific Northwest travel, food & wine, and lifestyle writer. Her work has appeared in magazines and newspapers including 425 Magazine, South Sound Magazine, NWLawyer, The Everett Herald, The Seattle Times, and The Tacoma News Tribune. Read more…

Written work and photographs on twin-mom.com are copyrighted material. All rights reserved.

Follow twin-mom.com on:

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest | Bloglovin

 

Visit Top Mommy Blogs To Vote For Me!

twin-mom.com Washington State restaurants

2013.04.30 desk 2

Decluttering and organizing my home – sparking joy with The life-changing magic of tidying up

 

I’ve been organizing and decluttering my house. Probably a little obsessively, but I was inspired by a book I read – The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (ad) by Marie Kondo.

I know there are a lot of blog posts out there talking about accepting the messy after-effects of a house full of kids. Yes, we shouldn’t judge each other and kids’ things will clutter a room like almost nothing else. But I really miss the domestic calm of my home’s pre-toy days, and I’m not willing to give up just yet.

Now I’m going to be the first to say that there’s a pass for moms with babies. If you’re just surviving, not showering, stained and in a permanent pony tail, then I’m not pointing a finger.

But like many of us, if you have school kids, commitments, toys, crafts and things always in your peripheral vision, then I think you should just sit down right now. Get this book – maybe from your library if you can’t spare the shelf space. It’s about decluttering, and about so much more.

So who remembers decorating your home? Like when aesthetics, your personal taste, tips you saw in a magazine or on a lifestyle blog were your inspiration? When the first question you asked yourself when planning a room was not, “Where are we going to put the toys?”

I do. I really do.

2013.03.05 toy bins.jpg

Well that plan went away in a hurry after having twins. To contain our “necessities,” I thought getting more storage containers might work. Instead, I ended up with a wall of bulky tubs, a huge mosaic of I don’t know what’s in there. Being a planner and a list-maker, I thought I could categorize life and get it neatly put away.

Well it turns out, according to author Marie Kondo, you should choose what to have in your home by keeping only the things that spark joy. What an airy-fairy idea, right? Well I’m telling you ladies, it works.

I’ve been a bit off-grid lately, socially speaking. Like a squeak in the basement, I’ve been quietly and methodically into nearly 10 years of my “save this because we might…” collections. My focus has been to keep only the things that spark joy, and it turns out that a cluttered house does not.

Some things weren’t easy. One offshoot that the author touches on is the emotional aspect of decluttering. Yes, the book calls decluttering a life-changing magic, but what I found is that to get to that magical part, there are some hard feelings to sort through. There were tears, emotional tiredness, memories that bubbled up and stewed. There’s a reason why we put things away sometimes.

There are some things that don’t work for me in this book. The description of the author’s few possessions is admirable but not quite realistic for my family, and the idea of completely emptying out my purse every night will only happen when Tinkerbell works for me.

It wasn’t so hard to follow Kondo’s plan, and I enjoyed it. I did love the idea of thanking your things, like your home, your clothes, even the items you’re getting rid of. Like many elements of this book, it has its roots in Japanese culture, which was interesting to me.

Thankfully, I’m not a knick knack person, and not terribly nostalgic for keepsakes either. My worst vice is books – real ones. I pared them down by accepting that I wouldn’t read many of them again. So off they went. I kept the travel guides, of course.

© twin-mom.com

If you have some time over the holiday break, I’d recommend setting aside a little while to read this short book. You may find even more time to follow some of the steps. It took me a few weeks, but the result was ultimately really gratifying. With my streamlined home, I get dressed quicker, the kids’ rooms are tidier, and even my husband noticed, “The house looks great.”

Most of all, I love taking a deep breath in my house and feeling like there is just enough. That really does spark joy.

© twin-mom.com

About twin-mom.com and Linda Jenkins:

twin-mom.com Linda Jenkinstwin-mom.com is a blog about family life and travels in the Pacific Northwest, with some wish list finds just for moms, too. Follow Linda and her busy family as they enjoy close-to-home and accessible family fun.

Former attorney Linda Jenkins is a freelance travel and lifestyle writer. Her work has appeared in magazines and newspapers including 425 Magazine, South Sound Magazine, NWLawyer, The Everett Herald, The Seattle Times, and The Tacoma News Tribune. Read more…

Follow twin-mom.com on:

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest | Bloglovin

 

Visit Top Mommy Blogs To Vote For Me!

twin-mom.com Washington State restaurants

© twin-mom.com. Craven Farm pumpkin patch. Snohomish, Washington.

Craven Farm Pumpkin Patch: Halloween family fun on the farm in Snohomish, Washington

Halloween is coming up and we’re taking advantage of the fall season with plenty of harvest fun and time at our local farms. We’ve been to a few pumpkin patches around the Pacific Northwest, but this was our first trip to Craven Farm. Owners Mark and Judy Craven are such nice people, I can see why this farm is so popular year after year.

There’s a lot to do around the pumpkins and great attention to detail. It was fun and well-organized, with plenty of room to appreciate the activities and pick your perfect pumpkins. It’s not a scary pumpkin patch, but there are a variety of activities for different ages.

We also went for the Frozen show. I was so impressed with the quality of the show and the wonderful ladies who dressed up and performed as Elsa, Anna, and Cinderella. They were very kind and attentive to the kids. It will definitely be a special memory.

Craven Farm pumpkin patch was a wonderful fall day for our family. Check it out.

© twin-mom.com. Craven Farm pumpkin patch. Snohomish, Washington. © twin-mom.com. Craven Farm pumpkin patch. Snohomish, Washington.

© twin-mom.com. Craven Farm pumpkin patch. Snohomish, Washington.
© twin-mom.com. Craven Farm pumpkin patch. Snohomish, Washington.

© twin-mom.com. Craven Farm pumpkin patch. Snohomish, Washington.

© twin-mom.com. Craven Farm pumpkin patch. Snohomish, Washington.

© twin-mom.com. Craven Farm pumpkin patch. Snohomish, Washington.

© twin-mom.com. Craven Farm pumpkin patch. Snohomish, Washington.

© twin-mom.com. Craven Farm pumpkin patch. Snohomish, Washington.

About twin-mom.com and Linda Jenkins:

twin-mom.com Linda Jenkinstwin-mom.com is a blog about family life and travels in the Pacific Northwest, with some wish list finds just for moms, too. Follow Linda and her busy family as they enjoy close-to-home and accessible family fun.

Former attorney Linda Jenkins is a Pacific Northwest travel, food & wine, and lifestyle writer. Her work has appeared in magazines and newspapers including 425 Magazine, South Sound Magazine, NWLawyer, The Everett Herald, The Seattle Times, and The Tacoma News Tribune. Read more…

Follow twin-mom.com on:

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest | Bloglovin

 

10 Pumpkin Patch Books for Kids

 

My family is loving this fall season. My five-year-old daughter’s favorite holiday is Halloween, and her twin brother’s favorite activity is getting outside. Farms and pumpkin patches are a perfect fit for us.

My twins really enjoy books that focus on what’s new and exciting in their lives. We do a lot of reading in our house, and right now it’s all about pumpkins, autumn, harvest season on the farm, leaves changing, and Halloween.

Many of us parents put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make great memories around the holidays. Sometimes that works, and sometimes it’s a challenge. To help my kids know what to expect when we travel or try a new activity, we often read about it ahead of time.

Here are 10 pumpkin patch books that we own, or we’ve checked out from our local library. I interviewed my twins and included their impressions below. It’s our first-ever mom and twins collaboration.

 

Tractor Mac Harvest Time. If you have a tractor-loving kid, this one is for you. I like the focus on celebrating your strengths and interests, and helping others.

I like Mac and Fred because at the end of the story they need to share the fun.

I like the bees. They’re cool.

 

 

The Runaway Pumpkin.The story of how the giant pumpkin rolls through a farming family’s life is fun and silly and the text is a good way to practice listening for rhyming sounds.

I like all the animals running from the pumpkin.

I like the big jack-o-lantern.

 

 

Rah Rah Radishes. This book is like visiting a farm stand. It was great for getting the conversation going about the variety of fresh vegetables that we can try. Vegetables with their unique names are a fun way to work on letter sounds, too.

I like the carrots.

I like the pumpkin.

 

Apples and Pumpkins. This is a great book for early readers. It’s about  a family going apple picking, carving a Jack-o-lantern, and trick-or-treating on Halloween. It has great illustrations and simple, engaging text.

I like the costumes.

“I like the jack-o-lantern because it’s scary.

 

Too Many Pumpkins. This book would be great for older kids, too. It’s about a woman who lives alone and doesn’t like pumpkins, but ends up with too many of them. She learns to reach out to others and appreciate what she has.

I like all the pumpkin food.

I like all the pumpkin pie and jack-o-lanterns.

 

 

Let it Fall. This book is about the special changes that happen in the fall. Leaves drop, kids go to school, and the family visits a farm festival. It’s a great book for looking at seasons and what’s special about kids’ everyday lives.

I like when they’re going to school.”

I like the dog.

 

 

From Seed to Pumpkin. This one if for your little scientists. It’s does a great job of explaining how pumpkins are planted and how they grow. The kids in the story all have fun while learning a lot of detail.

I like seeing the bees.

The pumpkin flowers were pretty.

 

Monster Needs a Costume. This is a fun Halloween story about a monster who can’t make up his mind about the costume he wants. Monster tries new things and makes the choice that’s right for him.

I like when he was a ninja.

I like when he was the ballerina.

 

 

 

Biscuit Visits the Pumpkin Patch. Biscuit is a familiar character for my twins. In this story, he’s up to his mischief at the pumpkin patch. It’s a cute book for toddlers and any kid who loves animals.

I like the funny faces on the pumpkins.

I like the zucchini and the apples.

 

 

 

Reuben and Barney’s Day at the Farm. This one is a charming translation of a Dutch book about a boy named Reuben and his dog Barney. Reuben is a confident, kind, and helpful boy who spends his day on the farm.

I love the cows.

I like the horse when it was running.

 

Links to amazon.com are affiliate links. A small percentage of your purchase may go to supporting the costs of this blog. Thank you so much!

About twin-mom.com and Linda Jenkins:

twin-mom.com Linda Jenkinstwin-mom.com is a blog about family life and travels in the Pacific Northwest, with some wish list finds just for moms, too. Follow Linda and her busy family as they enjoy close-to-home and accessible family fun.

Former attorney Linda Jenkins is a Pacific Northwest travel, food & wine, and lifestyle writer. Her work has appeared in magazines and newspapers including 425 Magazine, South Sound Magazine, NWLawyer, The Everett Herald, The Seattle Times, and The Tacoma News Tribune. Read more…

Follow twin-mom.com on:

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest | Bloglovin

 


© twin-mom.com. School lunch ideas from the Arlington Farmers Market.

School lunch box ideas from the farmers market

 

Our twins started kindergarten this month. It’s a fun time to be a mom and to see their world expanding. Change is good.

One of the ways I wanted to stay involved in my kids’ school day is to pack a school lunch for them. Like many moms, I want to offer my kids nutritious food but I also want them to eat it. For us, we have food sensitivities and I’ll also admit that I like the idea of my kids having food from home, prepared by mom.

It’s already been a challenge to figure out what to pack. I see us getting stuck in a food routine, partly by the limitations of making food that will hold up in their lunch boxes, and partly because like most kids, mine like what they like.

I thought I’d get some inspiration from our local farmers market. My twins both seek out and enjoy vegetables and fruit, and already at 5 years old they know that food “from the farmer” tastes better, and it’s a lot more fun to shop for.

So it was a sunny September Saturday when we popped in to the Arlington Farmers Market. My daughter was with me, and as she’ll remind you, she’s completely grown, so she had her own shopping basket of course. There was also a local art fair and music happening that day.

© twin-mom.com. School lunch ideas from the Arlington Farmers Market.

It’s so nice to see friends and people you recognize at the market. It had been too long since we visited, but it was like stepping back into a familiar routine, a kind of relaxed food experience that reminds me of that closer connection I felt to food as a child in Asia and as a young adult in Europe. When you buy something knowing you’re going to eat it that day or the next, choosing the ingredients becomes part of the meal, too.

© twin-mom.com. School lunch ideas from the Arlington Farmers Market.

© twin-mom.com. School lunch ideas from the Arlington Farmers Market.

We found plums, peaches, and our favorite tomatoes at Garden Treasures Nursery & Organic Farm. From Arial at Misty Mountains Farm we got gluten-free cookies and bread we ate right away, as well as a pizza crust and, um, more cookies.

© twin-mom.com. School lunch ideas from the Arlington Farmers Market.

I learned about cheese making from Golden Glen Creamery. We even got some homemade dog treats from Happy Tails Dog Treats, and my daughter got a bouquet of flowers just because.

© twin-mom.com. School lunch ideas from the Arlington Farmers Market.

I’m still working on those school lunches. My daughter just announced that she wants to try the hot lunch at school, too. With two kindergarteners, I know I have a lot of change in my future, with food and everything else.

*The Arlington Farmers Market is open for two more Saturdays this year. Check them out! Local Harvest and Puget Sound Fresh have searchable lists of farmers markets options.

About twin-mom.com and Linda Jenkins:

twin-mom.com Linda Jenkinstwin-mom.com is a blog about family life and travels in the Pacific Northwest, with some wish list finds just for moms, too. Follow Linda and her busy family as they enjoy close-to-home and accessible family fun.

Former attorney Linda Jenkins is a Pacific Northwest travel, food & wine, and lifestyle writer. Her work has appeared in magazines and newspapers including 425 Magazine, South Sound Magazine, NWLawyer, The Seattle Times, and The Tacoma News Tribune. Read more…

Follow twin-mom.com on:

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest | Bloglovin