Archive for Family Fun

Boy’s Blue “Green” Train Room

I wanted to share our boy’s new bedroom with everyone.  I am not the best decorator  in the world so I was pretty proud of how this room turned out!   Well, I have to confess, I was not the creator of this decor, only the executer.  I know when I see something I like but if I am given a blank slate, I don’t know where to begin when it comes to decorating.  Thankfully, our wonderful receptionist, Evelyn also has MANY talents!  One of those is decorating!  She enthusiastically helped us create the perfect room for the boys.  I love, love, love how it turned out!  Check out Evelyn’s Blog and Etsy store to see more of her talents!

We wanted to create a room that was all boy, highlighting J’s favorite color, blue (also Granville School colors – blue and white) and favorite interest, trains.  We wanted a room that was clean, simple, somewhat non-traditional, and flexible (easy to update as boys grow).  I did not want a super mainstream look or character theme.

Key decorative aspects of the room: Train mural,crisp, clean white walls, light blue stripe around the room from the color of the train mural sky, navy accent stripe around room, navy dresser, wood bunk beds, blue and white bedding, navy baskets on book shelf (not pictured), vintage toy signs.

On the Green Side


So the title of this post is the Boy’s Blue Green Train Room. 
It is more of  a easy, practical green room, not super duper greenified to the max-room.  On the scale of green-ness, I’d give it a 7.

We used Sherwin Williams zero and low VOC paint for all colors (except mural).  There is some  amount of VOC in tinted paint.

The spectacular, detailed and colorful, train mural was painted by my amazingly talented artist-sister, Erica Arndts!  J love’s trains and this was the perfect touch to make the room bigger than life!  Erica spent an entire day painting, while visiting from her home in Atlanta.  Yes, you read that right, only one day to create this masterpiece!  I know, impressive!  By the Way, if you like her work and are interested in a mural or a painting and are in the Atlanta area, contact me and I will put you in touch with her.

Notice the ceiling fan (well, I didn’t quite get it in the photo).  A great Green addition to any room to lower your utility costs.  Set it to counter-clockwise to cool your space in the summer time with a downward air flow.  Set your fan to rotate clockwise in the winter to circulate warm air that otherwise would get trapped near the ceiling. I do want to paint the blades white instead of the rainbow of pastel colors they currently are.

The bunk beds were hand made with love by Daddy!

The Navy dresser was repurposed old dresser from when Greg was a boy.  Greg sanded and painted the dresser following tips form Evelyn.  He finished it off with  new hardware.

The vintage toy signs were a find by my mom.

The white roman blinds were finished off with navy vertical gross-grain ribbon stripes by my mother-in-law, Doris.  Another ingenious idea from Evelyn!  I love how it’s the little touches here and there that make all the difference in pulling everything together in the room (Tutorial here).

The comforters I splurged on from Pottery Barn Kids 2 years ago when Greg made the bed’s.  I consider them a little green contribution because they are reversible, simple and classic pattern and nice quality.  I have high hopes that they will last the boys through high school! The green bedside lantern also came from Pottery Barn Kids.  I couldn’t resist that when I saw it (it spoke to my love for camping and outdoors.  I know, it’s not my room but had to do it).  I thought it was unique as a light fixture and added some character.

Of course the room is outfitted with compact florescent lights (CFL’s)

Finally, a Train Room wouldn’t be complete without a train table!  Our train table is mostly filled with trains and accessories from Whittle Shortline Railroad (made in USA), Plan Toys, BRIO, and Nuchi.

Tell me what you think!  Do you think I should add a rug?  What do you do to create a “green” bedroom?


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Classic Starts

Story Time

While the boys and I were at the lake earlier this summer and Greg was home, managing our Chiropractic office he came up with a great idea!  I think he was missing his family and it inspired him to come up with a valuable, educational, and fun way we could spend some time together, and at no cost too!  Greg decided he would like to read classic stories to us every night.  Most of them book that he had never read but always wanted too.  Classic stories in literature such as “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”. “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”, “Treasure Island”, “Oliver Twist”, “Black Beauty”, and more.  He told me his idea over the phone one night and I thought it was perfect.

He went to the library and checked out “Gulliver’s Travels” from the library.  The first night we were back he tried to read from the book with Jack, Walt, and I.  It was a fabulous idea but the book he checked out was the original written in old english and slow to start.  Jack was off the couch, wondering the room and talking about his trains after a few minutes.  However it was still a great idea for some quality family time so I got on the library’s website and looked for a juvenile version of that story.  I reserved it along with Greg’s choice for our second book, “Around the World in 80 Days”.

photo from amazon

When the books arrived a few days later Greg chose to start with “Around the World in 80 Days” because he continued to read the adult version of “Gulliver’s Travels” himself and didn’t want to spoil the ending.  The Juvenile books we checked out were from a series called Classic Starts.  They are chapter books, maybe a reading level of 4th-6th grade (just guessing).  They are about 150 pages.  They were perfect for Jack.  He could understand the story line.  It moved fast enough that he could follow but not too fast.  Greg read 1-3 chapters a night of “Around the World in 80 Days” until he finished.  We asked Jack questions throughout the story to make sure he understood what was going on.  We all really enjoyed it.  Upon finishing the story we checked out the movie and watched it.  It was great to see Jack remembering various scenes from the book and he enjoyed watching the show.

We have now started Gulliver’s Travels.  I think this one is a little harder to follow but Jack is hanging in there (he is only 3).  I have been really impressed that he has been able to sit there through several chapters listening.  We thought it would be good for him to listen to the story and use his imagination.  A nice change from the picture books he also enjoys.  I am looking forward to Greg reading us the rest of the Classic Starts and following up with the movies.

The library is such a great resource for families.  My family didn’t frequent the library much and it is something I definitely want to take advantage of with my kids.  Besides kids books there are story time’s for kids, interactive computer games, and adult books and movies too.

Do you visit your local library?  What is your favorite thing about the library?

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Greg’s Version of Walt’s Birth

As promised, Daddy’s version of Walt’s Birth.  I am a little behind in posting it.  Life has been a bit crazy since Walt’s birth 3 months ago.  We have been looking to buy our first home, without much luck so far and have moved into a temporary renal home.  Our previous rental house and Walt’s birth place is being bulldozed down any day now for “green space”.  Hopefully we’ll find our new home soon!  Enjoy Daddy’s Story Below and some new born photos!

Jack wasn't thrilled to have his picture taken

“So, Heather asked me to write my perspective of Walt’s birth.  I’m honored she is allowing me to post on her blog.  So here is how things went from my side of things.

Jack woke up around his normal time of 6:30 yelling “Daaaaaaaddddddyyyyyy!” just like every other morning.  He went to the potty and I changed him.  Then just like always he ran around the house and watched TV while I made him oatmeal.  After breakfast he played downstairs with his trains.  At 7:45 Heather woke up and was having some fairly strong contractions (3 min. apart) so I went in and rubbed her back to help her relax.  I asked her if she thought I should fill the birthing tub.  She said she thought the contractions would stop so I should wait.  Jack and I hung out and played while Heather had a few more contractions in bed.  When she seemed really uncomfortable I ran to the bedroom to rub her back and then went back to Jack.  This would become a pattern throughout the birth.  At 8:27, Heather called our midwife, Abby, to get her opinion on what to do.  Abby told her to rest in the bath and time her contractions, so she went to the bathroom while Jack and I continued to hang out.  Of course as long as she was in the bath I couldn’t use the hot water to fill the birthing tub.  While in the tub, Heather’s contractions kept getting stronger.  Also, she continued to tell me that these contractions would probably stop, so wait on filling the tub.  At 8:44 I texted my sister, Allison, to see if she was around in case Heather’s parents, who were coming from Dayton to watch Jack during the birth were unable to get here in time.  I called Heather’s parents at 8:48 and said we didn’t think this was labor, but they should come just in case and if Heather’s contractions stopped we could all go to the zoo together because the weather was going to be nice that day.  Jack and I went back to playing downstairs like any other day.  Jack was looking all over for one of his train cars, the one that carries logs, so we searched all over the basement and found it behind one of the legs of his train table.  He was very happy to have it back, so I was able to get away to see how Heather was doing upstairs.  Allison texted back at 9:12 that she was working, but Colin, her husband was around.  Since I was with Jack I didn’t get that message until 9:30, so at 9:31 I texted back that I needed Colin’s number.  After Heather’s bath she went to bed and when I got upstairs she asked me to call her parents to tell them things were moving a little faster than we thought and this probably was labor.  So I called them at 9:27.  Heather had texted our office manager, Sara, at 9:20 to see if she was able to watch Jack at our office until Heather’s parents arrived.  At this point we still believed I would be able to leave the house to bring Jack to the office.  Allison called me from work at 9:44 to tell me Colin was not home after all and we quickly ended that conversation because Heather was having another strong contraction.  At 9:46 Sara texted back and Heather asked her to come to the office with another text at 9:48. I also called Abby at 9:46 to tell her the contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and were getting stronger.  Heather said she didn’t think the midwives needed to come yet because she still thought this would take a long time.  We decided, with Heather’s input that the midwives should come in an hour to and hour and a half.  While all this was going on I was periodically going downstairs to check on Jack.   Shortly after Heather’s bath she informed me that I could fill the birthing tub, so I put as much hot water in the tub as I could, which wasn’t much since she had just taken a hot bath.  I also turned up the hot water heater in an attempt to speed up the birthing tub filling process.  After I had put 3 small “loads” the tub was about 1/3 full and Heather moved into the tub to continue labor.  At this point I called Sara to ask her to come to the house to pick up Jack because it was clear I could not leave the house at this point.  At around 10:00, just after Heather finished another contraction, immediately after which she said “I can’t do this” and I quickly told her she was amazing and she could do it.  I knew this was transition and a better “coach” would have reminded her that it was transition and it would be over soon, but I had other issues to deal with at the time, so I went downstairs to check on Jack and get him ready to leave with Sara and discovered that he had pooped his pants.  Exactly what I needed at that moment.  I brought Jack upstairs to change him and clean him up.  That was when the plan, which even though things were moving fast to this point was still somewhat intact, completely fell apart.  While I was taking Jack’s dirty pants off I heard an unmistakable noise coming from the bedroom.  Heather was obviously pushing.  This was a serious “holy crap” moment for me.  I told Jack to sit on the potty and “don’t move” and I ran down the hall to check on Heather, arriving just in time to see the end of the push.  I asked Heather if she was okay and listened to a very concerned Jack yell “Mommy are you okay?” from the bathroom.  Heather yelled back that she was okay and told me I could go take care of Jack.  So I ran back to the bathroom and finished cleaning Jack.  Thankfully, Jack did an amazing job of listening throughout this whole ordeal.  While I was dressing Jack I heard another push from the bedroom.  Also, while running from the bathroom to the bedroom I heard Sara knocking on the front door, this was sometime between 10:00 and 10:05.  I went into the bedroom to rub Heather’s back until the contraction was over, then ran back to finish dressing Jack and invite Sara in.  I left Jack with Sara in the living room while another contraction came and went with a very concerned Heather worried that Sara could hear her from the other room.  After that contraction I went outside to put the car seat in Sara’s car, which I did in record time and with a lot of swearing and sweating.  The little clips that hold the seat in the car were to short and got stuck while I was trying to lengthen them.  I did get it in her car, but it was a little more loose than I would normally tolerate.  Under the circumstances, and considering that they only had to drive 1 mile I let it slide.  Anyway, I ran back inside and said goodbye to Jack and he and Sara left.  I ran back to the bedroom and another contraction came and went.  This time (around 10:10) Heather said something that seriously freaked me out.  Her exact words were “I think my intestines are coming out of me!”  In a major panic I looked and saw what would turn out to be Walter’s head.  Thankfully he had a full head of hair, so I could not mistake his head for intestines.  I was in complete disbelief at this point, so I actually touched the top of his head for some  weird reason I guess to confirm that it was really there.  I told Heather I could see his head and she told me to call our midwife, Abby, again to tell her what was going on.  I did not have Abby’s number in my phone so I had to ask Heather where her phone was.  I knew at that moment how stupid it was for me to not have the number in my phone.  Heather told me where her phone was and was obviously annoyed with me for my lack of preparation and rightly so.  I found the phone clicked on “Abby” and kept hitting send until it started dialing.  I’m not very BlackBerry proficient, even though I have one exactly like Heather’s.  When I have multiple numbers for the same person I enter the numbers as different people, i.e. if I had Abby’s home number and cell number they would be entered as “Abby Home” and “Abby Cell”, so I select the one I want from the contacts list.  Heather uses her phone the way it’s intended to be used and enters the person’s full name and then selects the type of number she is entering from the pre-made list in her BlackBerry.  So, when I clicked on “Abby” I then should have selected “Mobile” rather than blindly hitting “send” until it started dialing.  So after all of that explanation you now know why I ended up calling Abby’s house number, which someone answered.  When I asked for Abby they said she wasn’t there at the exact same time as another contraction started.  I said “sorry, I have the wrong number” and rudely hung up on them.  The contraction came and went and Walter’s head came down to the point that I could see his squished up face, another “holy crap” moment and I’m embarrassed to admit that I took a while to realize it was his face.  I still had in my head that Heather’s intestines were coming out and I was initially sure what I was looking at was her intestines.  Heather asked if I could see anything and I hesitated, not wanting to tell her I saw the head (the hair was still visible) and her intestines.  She asked again and at that moment I figured out that it wasn’t intestines, it was Walter’s face, so I told her and she said I needed to call Abby and had to explain how to use her phone properly to call her cell, which I did.  I spoke to Abby and she told me she was 2 miles away and would be there soon.  Then another contraction started and I hung up on Abby to go back with Heather.  She pushed again and one of Walter’s shoulders came out along with his entire head.  I held his head out of the water because it seemed like the right thing to do at the time.  Then in the middle of the chaos our other midwife, Kelly, came running down the hall and took over.  I basically got out of the way and in 1 or two pushes Walter had arrived at 10:27AM on April 10, 2011.  His cord was a little short, but just long enough for us to get him to Heather, still in the 1/3 full tub and on all fours as she had been throughout the delivery.  During this handoff from Kelly to me to Heather I noticed that Walter was a boy and informed Heather who was surprised he was a boy and shaking as she held Walter, just as she had been 3 years before when she first held Jack.  Abby came in just as Heather took ahold of Walter and she and Kelly took over all of the important stuff and checked Heather to make sure she was okay.  They helped Heather transition out of the tub, which was no small task with a shorter than normal cord and the placenta still attached.  I went out of the room for a moment to get some sterile blankets and towels and came back to see Heather sitting in the rocking chair with our new baby.  Soon after she pushed out the placenta and I cut the cord.  Around 10:50 I called Steve and Patti to see if they had made it to the office to pick up Jack from Sara yet.  The informed me they were on Interstate 670 near downtown Columbus, about 20 minutes away and I gave them the good news and said I would call once everything calmed down a little more.  I called them back about 30 minutes later and we decided that they would take Jack to lunch and the playground while I cleaned up and then they would bring Jack over to meet his little brother around 2:00.  Abby and Kelly stayed for an hour or two to monitor Heather and Walter.  Heather took a shower as they did all the necessary tests on Walter.  Abby and Kelly cleaned up everything except the birthing tub and left the three of us to bond.  I cleaned up the birthing tub and am deliberately leaving out the details of that and finished cleaning everything around 1:30.  Steve and Patti arrived and thankfully brought me some lunch from The Rusty Bucket.  I got the video camera ready and Steve taped Jack meeting Walter for the first time a little after 2:00.”

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Nothing Beats Farm Fresh

This summer I have started my mission to get as

Visiting the Cows

much food as possible from local farms, farmers markets, and our own garden, and as little as possible from grocery stores.  I am so frustrated with the way our country’s food industry works.  Like everything else, its all about the money.  Cheap, unhealthy ingredients, and a lot of them is what you will find in most processed convenience foods.  My grandma recently tried to buy a package of frozen fish at the store and put it back on the shelf when she saw it came from china!  My mother-in-law recently saw on the news that there are 30% fewer nutrients in our foods now than when she was growing up.  Large industrial farms are more concerned with the look and size of their food than the quality.   Food on grocery shelves with few ingredients and healthy, natural ones are few and far between!  Its so sad to see.  Its no wonder I see young people come into our chiropractic office unhealthy, overweight, and on multiple medications.  They are a product of our society today and the food most readily available and affordable.  I imagine my generation and those to come will not live as long as my grandparents generation.  There is just too much intervention ruining our food, and most in the name of money.  Now that I have ranted for a while, and I could go on for pages, I’ll move on to the good stuff.

Jack checking out the Pigs

In my mission to obtain farm fresh foods and without breaking the bank, I have decided to start with meat and dairy (which we don’t eat a lot of), the foods highest  on the food chain and most likely to be contaminated.  I was so happy when I received an email from friend and fellow mom, Kate of Modern Alternative Mama, inviting me to join a group of local families ordering meat and raw milk from an Ohio farm.  The farm is Luginbill Family Farm.   For any family’s in Northwest Ohio, Columbus, or Dayton, I highly recommend Luginbill.   We have had a wonderful experience so far and have enjoyed quality meats and eggs at affordable prices from a family farm.  We have tried eggs, chicken, turkey, and beef.  The eggs are huge, and a challenge to crack open and obviously from a healthier chicken.  My husband wonders if the grocery store eggs could even capable of hatching a chicken.   Last month we tried a whole chicken and enjoyed 2 meals of white meat and then froze the remaining chicken pieces for later and boiled everything else to make 8 cups of stock!  I am planning on trying their raw milk soon too!  In addition they have lamb, and many cuts of beef and pork.  Kate toured the farm and interviewed the farmer before organizing the ordering group, but recently we made our first trip to the farm to do a pick-up!  We enjoyed a tour of the farm.  Jack had a great time watching the animals!   If you are local and interested in joining our ordering group let me know.  The prices are on the farm’s website.  If we get enough people in our group, the farm will deliver to Columbus.

Free Range Chicken's

Chasing the Turkey's

Dr. Heather’s Recommendation on choosing a farm

    1. Visit the farm – personally meet the farmer and take a tour of their farm.  You will be able to see first hand how they care for their animals and quality of food and have an opportunity to ask them any questions you have.
    2. Look for a farm that is either certified organic, in the process of getting certified, or who follow organic practices.  Some smaller farms may not have the resources to get certified but are as organic as any other certified farm and often have more affordable prices and offer more of a personal experience.
    3. Ask if they will be able to keep up with your needs, and do they have a variety of offerings to suit your family’s menu.
    4. How local are they and are they willing to deliver?  The closer the farm, the more “green”!  If the farmer is delivering from a far distance, you and the environment may be paying for the fuel costs.

Friendly Farmer's

Have you tried a local farm?  Have you noticed a difference in the quality of food?

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A Fun Treat for Columbus Toddlers

We spent our beautiful, sunny, and warm Saturday afternoon going for a leisurely walk around downtown and the short north.  We had a nice lunch at ZPizza which offers organic, all-natural, and gluten-free food.  We stopped in a few local shops and learned about Everybodyrides, a program where local retailers in the Short North provide bikes for people to borrow to get around town then return when done, a greentastic concept!  Read more about Everyonebikes here.

Before we made it downtown we stopped at one of our favorite local toy stores, Larson’s, in Upper Arlington.  They sell many wooden and safe toys for kids and babies.  They have a wide selections of all types of toys and games.  We were looking for train tracks to put around the castle that Greg built with his friend Shane for Jack for christmas.  While checking out I noticed a sign that said they offered a free gift for any customer turning 2!  It was a oval train track by Nuchi with 2 colorful dinosaur train cars, valued at $19.95.  I was pumped!  I love Nuchi trains, it is a great company with high standards for safety.

Nuchi is a subdivision of the Little Little Little Toy company or the little3 toy company .  The little company was started by Peter Reynolds, former president of BRIO’s American subsidiary.  He split from brio due to a personal conflict.   I spoke directly with Nuchi and despite being made in china, which I’m not crazy about, they comply with the American and European safety standards ASCM 963 and EN71.  They could not guarantee zero ppm lead but said they do extensive testing and are always well under the standards listed above.  They aren’t designed to be replica’s of existing trains but have a more playful, and colorful look, enticing children’s imaginations.  According to TD monthly, this is a great up and coming company.  Nuchi trains are compatible with brio and thomas train sets.

The free train set Larson’s is giving out is the perfect size for little hands.  It is so hard to find anything for free, let alone a high quality train set!  I recommend any parents of a 2 year birthday boy or girl to pay a visit to Larson’s!

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Wordless Wednesday Meets Santa

Jack went to the New Albany Fire House to meet santa, do crafts, and donate a toy to another boy in need. 

Jack liked Sparky

Jack liked the trucks

Jack didn't like Santa

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The Green Choice: Real or Artificial Christmas Tree?

Growing Up Green! Welcome to the weekly series, Growing up Green.  This will be your eco-friendly stop for green, all-natural, toxin and chemical free tips for your family.   Learn simple and meaningful ways to make your children’s environment a little safer for their health and the earth.

Image from apartment therapy

This has been a long time debate with strong supporters on both sides.  There are pro’s and con’s to both real and artificial trees but after breaking down the data there becomes a clear Green Star.

 Artificial Christmas Tree


  •    1 tree last for years, on average 6-9 years
  •    Savings on gas to and from tree farms yearly


  • Most trees are petrolium-based and are made of plastics, including toxic and non-biodegradeable PVC and metals
  • They will therefore sit in landfills for hundreds of years
  • Older trees may contain lead.
  • Significant resources are required to provide energy for factories to produce artificial trees
  • 85% of artificial trees are made in China according to the National Christmas Tree Association

Real Christmas Tree


  • Real trees do not cause deforestation, most come from tree farms
  • Tree farms provide natural habitat to animals
  • Tree farms absorb CO2 and emmit fresh oxygen.
  • Christmas trees in the US provide enought oxygen for 18 million people daily – wow!
  • Tree farms help prevent erosion
  • Real trees can be treecycled into mulch for your garden, learn more about treecycling here.  Find a location near you here.  In Columbus, Ohio bring your tree to SWACO for drop off.   Contact here or here for pick up.     If you would like to take home the mulch from your tree try Kurtz Brothers.


  •  Gas required driving to the tree farm each year
  • The use of pesticides and herbicides on the trees (except on organic farms)
  • Trees purchased in areas that cannot grow them, where the tree must travel a distance to make it to the tree lot (however travel from state to state uses less resources than traveling overseas)

The Green star goes to….. the real tree!  Read about different types of trees available and care for your tree.  Also check out these top 10 Christmas Tree myths.

 Family History

My family has had a long tradition of cutting down our own tree.  As a child we went the day after Thanksgiving 45 minutes down the road to a tree farm.  We hunted for the perfect family tree.  I usually wanted the largest tree possible with long, soft needles, such as the white pine.  My mother usually went for a smaller fir tree with short, strong, and stiff needles.  We have alternated over the years through different types.  I enjoyed watching my dad cut down our special tree.  My dad took out the back bench of our van and sometimes let my sisters and I sit in the back with the tree (probably not the safest idea, but we thought it was soo cool at the time).  We kept the tree outside for a few weeks before brining it in to decorate.  My dad played Christmas music and made popcorn while decorating the tree.  Eggnog and hot chocolate were often part of the event.  My mom always did the lights and we all helped with the ornaments.  It was a fun family tradition.

 The Next Generation

Family Fun

Last weekend we headed 20 miles to Homestead Farm  in Alexandria, Ohio.  We had such a positive experience last year that it was a no-brainer to head back to the same farm this year and hopefully many years to come.  Jack thoroughly enjoyed the tractor ride to the field.  Tractors and trucks are very exciting to Jack.  We enjoyed a pleasantly sunny and warm day and plenty of trees to choose from.   We found a winner right away but explored the field for a while to enjoy the fresh air before heading back to the barn.  We chose a 7ft white pine; perfect for the spot we planed for it in our home.  Its amazing how much smaller the trees look outside compared to in the house!  Into the field

The winner

Tractor Ride

After the tractor ride back to the barn we enjoyed a warm cup of hot chocolate and cozy fire.  We brought our tree home and put it in water immediately at the recommendation of the staff at Homestead.  It guzzled quite a bit the first few hours then slowed.  Jacked helped mom put the lights on and Dad helped with the ornaments.  Jack tried to take off the ornaments as fast as we put them on.  There are an unusually large amount of ornaments on the top of our tree with a desolate base.  Ever time Jack takes one off we place it up higher.  And of course we played Christmas and burned a fire while we worked!  I can’t wait to see Jack’s face light up when he sees our tree on Christmas morning!  I think it will probably be even more exciting and rewarding than experiencing it as a child myself.  Read more about American Tree Farms


Having fun

Having fun

Find a farm near you to cut down your Christmas tree in Ohio

Trivia:  Who developed the first artifical christmas tree in 1930?  Answer

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