Tuesday, May 24, 2016


 Before I had four children and before we had a birthday roll around what seems like every couple months, I used to plan big, elaborate birthday parties for my kids. But as the years have gone by, and as the children have multiplied and our bank account has not, I've learned to focus on what's really necessary for a "happy birthday". 

For us, it boils down to three things: food, family, and a present or two. 

So when it came time to plan for Tom's 4th birthday party, that's what we did, plus a few balloons and some party hats. There was no theme or theme related activities. I just put some sidewalk chalk and bubbles and balls and bats out on the porch, and the kids entertained themselves while the grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles chewed the fat. 

And as for food, there were no cleverly labeled, Pinterest-inspired snacks. Tom requested two things: chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream. Another thing I learned several birthdays ago is not to try and make a cake on party day. When I started buying rather than baking birthday cakes, my life improved exponentially. So I ran by the store and grabbed a cake and ice cream, making all of Tom's birthday dreams come true. And let it be said, as far as vanilla ice cream is concerned, we Carpenters are partial to Yarnell's Homemade Vanilla. Yarnell's was created by the Yarnell family in the 1930's right here in our little home town! So I always feel like we're getting to enjoy a piece of our local history when we treat ourselves. Which is probably more often than we should ;)

And then of course the kids did what kids do and got as close as possible to Tom as he opened presents. I still do not understand why they feel they must get soooooo close. But they do. And they did.

And at the end of the evening, Tom was happy and filthy and asking to do it all over again, and I was also happy and didn't feel like crawling in bed and crying from all the stress. I'd call that a birthday party success. Keep it simple, keep your sanity.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Family Trails: Museum of Discovery

*This post was sponsored by the National Center for Families Learning. I receive financial compensation from NCFL for my participation as a Family Trails blogger. Opinions and experiences expressed on this post are my own.

When we're in need of a recharge, one of our favorite outings as a family is a quick day trip to the good ol' Arkansas capital, Little Rock. Little Rock is great about having family friendly events, and though we can't always take advantage of them, it's nice to have the option when we're craving a more urban experience.

   We recently hit up Tinkerfest at the Museum of Discovery in the big city. Tinkerfest is an event that invites people of all ages to interact in more than 40 hands-on activities, and it happens annually at The Museum of Discovery. I highly recommend putting Tinkerfest on your next year's calendar. We luhuhuved every bit of it! For the full story, read more on the Family Trails blog. Here's a little look at what you can expect from the imagination-building and brain-stimulating fun of the Museum of Discovery and Tinkerfest.

Need I say more than the above photo? I think not. Go check out all we learned and gained from getting out and about together as a family at familytrails.com.  


Saturday, August 8, 2015


*This post was sponsored by the National Center for Families Learning. I receive financial compensation from NCFL for my participation as a Family Trails blogger. Opinions and experiences expressed on this post are my own.

Stopping in for my monthly blog post! Geez! I gotta do better. Anyway, just wanted to share some of my favorite shots and moments from our recent trip to New Orleans. New Orleans is an interesting city, one worth knowing. Maybe get to know it some time other than July though. SO HOT! Below is a brief little photo summary of our time there. But if you're wanting to plan a trip to the Big Easy, you can read the more in-depth post on the Family Trails website for specifics about ours! 

If I had to choose an theme for New Orleans, I think it would be originality. There are so many different styles of architecture, so many different color schemes, so many different sorts of people (who, by the way, were noticeably friendly and welcoming).  From what I could see, it seemed few in New Orleans are concerned with being anyone but themselves, and for that, New Orleans, I love you.
Even the cemeteries in New Orleans are original and interesting. If you don't know about the cemeteries there, because NOLA is below sea level, or right at it (I can't remember), they have to bury their bodies overground. Otherwise they would float up out of the earth. FREAKY!! But kinda awesome.

And of course the food. It tastes good in New Orleans.

New Orleans has much to offer and I highly suggest carving out some time for a visit if you can. We're already scheming up ways to go back!

It's just a cool place. And if you think all of these photos make it seem that New Orleans might be a perfect place or that we had a perfect time, full of only laughs and giggles, you should go read the more "tell all" version of our trip at familytrails.com. You'll learn specifics about all we saw and did and what was and wasn't ideal about the whole experience. It was a family vacation after all! We're planning one last little summer adventure and a house move before we start our homeschool year. So stay tuned for those! I'm hoping to make this blog post thing a more frequent event in weeks to come!

© HANNAH CARPENTER. All rights reserved.
Blogger Designs by pipdig