Tag Archives: Kraynak’s

Co-op Christmas fun at Kraynak’s

Standard

This school year has been one full of changes.

Most of those changes are a result of wonderful life changes that have occurred in the last four months, but some of those changes bring feelings of loss as we look back on past years and acknowledge the transition we have had to make into a new season of life.

The end of a chapter is hard no matter how amazing the next chapter promises to be, and no closing chapter has been more difficult than that of our co-op’s dissolution.

It has been an unusual school year in that after a decade of our Wednesdays being committed to our co-op, we now find that day free from commitments. For years our week revolved around the planning, preparing and packing that was involved in this weekly activity. It was a lot of work in the beginning, when the kids were small and each of us moms were preparing for and then teaching 3-4 classes every Wednesday, but we did it because we loved it…

We loved the friendships we saw developing between our children.

We loved the amount of learning that was accomplished in one day.

We loved the experiences we could offer our children that can be challenging in a home school environment (like Valentine’s Day parties, yearbooks, and talent shows.)

We loved the hands-on learning that happened under the guidance of a teacher that wasn’t “Mom,” with classmates that weren’t siblings.

We loved the support we found in each other as we navigated the challenges of life with friends who soon became so much more than friends.

Co-op was the greatest blessing of my “home schooling” journey,

And my heart shattered a bit when we all realized that this season of life was drawing to a close.

Our children who were kindergarteners when this adventure began, are now graduating high school and the purpose that the co-op was created for had been fulfilled. We no longer needed to gather weekly to get assignments done and the kids no longer craved the Valentine card exchanges and Halloween parties. We knew the end had come, but none were emotionally ready to give up the connection that was such an integral part of our lives for so long.

So, we came up with a plan…

The plan was to meet twice a month for a social get-together with each co-op mom taking on the task of planning for a month of the school year.

This past Friday was the first of two planned outings for December.

IMG_4270 (2)

We met at Kraynak’s, a toy store/candy shop/garden center/gift shop/Christmas wonderland… in Hermitage, PA.

IMG_4258 (2)

“From September 10th thru December 31st, Imagine a world of make-believe with twinkling lights, glittering trees, and a magical array of life-like characters. “Santa’s Christmas Land” is a 300-foot, indoor starlight avenue of uniquely designed artificial Christmas trees. Each tree has a specific theme that is enhanced and complimented by surrounding scenery and a cast of life-like animated characters.”

IMG_4268 (2)

Christmas Land is comprised of different vignettes of Christmas scenes.

IMG_4260 (2)

 Music is playing and the smells of Christmas fill the hallway that guides visitors through the different scenes.

IMG_4257 (2)

It is magical and we look forward to seeing how the displays change from year to year.

IMG_4263 (2)

Everyone has their favorites,

IMG_4255 (2)

And it is a fun Christmas activity that is free to enjoy…

IMG_4273 (2)

(If you can make it through the toy store and candy aisle’s that you must pass to get to the displays.)

IMG_4284 (2)

It is actually a pretty brilliant marketing strategy,

IMG_4289 (2)

And we buy into it every year.

IMG_4272 (2)

And LOVE it year after year.

It was so much fun enjoying this Christmas tradition with our co-op family, and catching up after a month apart.

IMG_4276 (2)

We love our co-op family and loved getting to spend some time with our dear friends.

IMG_4278 (2)

Next activity on the calendar: Our annual Co-op Christmas party!!

Daffin’s Chocolate Tour

Standard

Many years ago, when my three oldest were much younger, our co-op friends toured a local chocolate factory. We were unable to attend at the time so we were thrilled when the opportunity rolled around a second time.

IMG_8232 (2)

This past Friday we were able to join up with our homeschooling co-op group for a free tour of Daffin’s Chocolate Factory. When we walked in we were greeted with the heavenly scent of chocolate.

IMG_8169 (2)

The tour began with the donning of hairnets and a short video about Daffin’s chocolate.

IMG_8165 (2)

Then we entered the factory where an employee led us through the different areas of the factory, explaining the creation process of many of Daffin’s more popular chocolates.

IMG_8211 (2)

It was interesting to hear the “how to” behind many favorite chocolates… like how they get the liquid center into cordial cherries.

IMG_8191 (2)

As we walked around I really began to appreciate both the science and art that go into creating good chocolate.

IMG_8205 (2)

On the day we were there the production line was busy making chocolate bunnies. We were informed that Easter is their busiest holiday and that the preparation for the Easter season begins months in advance.

As we walked around we were able to follow see the many steps that lead up to purchasing a candy bar at the store,

from heating chocolate, to mixing the fillings, through the dipping, cooling, and finally the packaging of the chocolates.

The tour ended with a sweet treat. Everyone on the tour received a Daffin’s candy bar…YUM!

IMG_8226 (2)

Following the factory tour we drove over to the big Daffin’s store, home of  Daffin’s Chocolate Kingdom:

“The Chocolate Kingdom is a realm that is inhabited by a 400-pound chocolate turtle, a 125-pound chocolate reindeer and 75-pound chocolate frog. Chocolate castles, a train, a village, and a Ferris Wheel which brings this whimsical land to life.

Guests come from all over the world to see the unique display of solid-chocolate creations and sample free chocolate” (From Daffin’s Website)

IMG_8236 (2)

Our final stop of the day was Kraynak’s, a huge garden center/gift shop/toy and candy store located in Hermitage, PA.

Here we visited their impressive annual Christmas display:

“Santa’s Christmas Land.”

 “From September 10th thru December 31st, Imagine a world of make-believe with twinkling lights, glittering trees, and a magical array of life-like characters.”Santa’s Christmas Land” is a 300-foot, indoor starlight avenue of uniquely designed artificial Christmas trees. Each tree has a specific theme that is enhanced and complimented by surrounding scenery and a cast of life-like animated characters.” (Taken from their website)

IMG_8274 (2)

It was crazy busy so we didn’t stay long, but we did have fun doing a walk through of the Christmas displays and the store.

IMG_8250 (2)IMG_8267 (2)IMG_8261 (2)

On the way home Tyler began complaining of not feeling well. He complained that he “just couldn’t get the smell of chocolate out of his nose.” Soon after that he began throwing up. Looks like round two of the Christmas stomach bug…

Oh goody!