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Kids love spinning around and around, so why wouldn’t they love spin art ?
Who doesn’t have a fun childhood memory of squeezing paint onto a spinning disc and the dizzy feeling of pride from their splatter on a platter?
I remember making spin art on giant twisters at school fairs, but I recently came across a product, Crayola’s Color Twister, that enables you to homespin.
One person pushes on the twister’s hand pump, which spins paper in the device, while the other squeezes a drop of paint onto the spinning paper. Colors explode, implode, swirl and whirl. See mommy’s hand on pump and toddler hand squeezing tube of paint in pic below.
Crayola’s Color Twister –kid-or mommy-powered fun one drop at a time. No batteries needed. 
The paints are non-toxic and washable but also pretty smelly, so I wouldn’t drink the stuff. However, a trace amount in the belly should be ok…phew!
The kit comes with the color twister, three tubes of paint and 10 paper discs. The paint goes far: the paper not so much. Luckily, it’s easy enough to trace more discs on either construction paper or paper plates.

It’s a nice activity for a party, playdate, or a rainy day at home. When our playgroup met at our house recently, I was thankful to have this fun activity for our guests. Everyone took home their art. What a great party favor!

It is an activity recommended for children 6 years of age and older; however, my almost three year old and I easily made some refrigerator-worthy spin art.Here’s another little tip – grocery stores usually have great sales on toys. I always check out their arts and crafts and toy aisles for sales and was able to buy Crayola’s Color Twister half off this way. Nonetheless, if you don’t have the time or energy to go to the store, you can buy Crayola Color Twister on Amazon for about $13.
Look what the kids made!
Twist and shout, “Hooray!”

Have fun in the Hudson Valley with your kids!

– Hudson Valley Kim


Hello readers, as boring as it may be, I’m going to start out by introducing myself to you all…

I’m Brittany and I’m the newest addition to the Hudson Valley Parent family. About 4 months ago, I was hired as the Editorial Assistant. I must say, I really love working here at HVParent.  Our entire staff is great and so much fun to be around.

Since I came on board, I’ve worked a lot with our social media sites. If you’re not already our friend on facebook, I hope you’ll take a moment to join us (shameless plug… I know).

Now for some boring background about me… I’m originally from North Carolina. I moved to New York 6 months ago to be with my boyfriend, Bill.  Bill and I met through my baseball-focused, radio show I used to host called “A Show of Their Own.”  The show is now archived online, but I’ll spare you the shameless plug.

Prior to HVP, I worked as a high school basketball, softball and volleyball coach… which transitioned me to sports-talk radio and now logically to working for a parenting publication! Working for HV Parent is a combination of everything I love: writing, editing, interviewing, videos, photography, social media, even some graphic design! Not to mention, I get to think up crazy ideas for new things to offer our readers!

Now, I’ll admit, I’ve been putting off blogging for a while. I have several blogs of my own, but couldn’t decided on an angle for this new HVParent blog of mine. BUT I finally figured it out.

Since, I made you read this long blog all about me, I guess it’s time for me to unveil my new blog and what exactly it will be about (drum roll please….)

Gym Class Hero will focus on living a healthy lifestyle. I’ll discuss everything from sports, weight loss, activities for the kids, nutrition… anything. I recently lost 120 pounds… yep 120! I’m still 30 pounds away from my goal weight and cannot wait to share my journey with all of you.  I’m a sports nut and have had some great experiences I want to share with (y’all) you all. My goal for this blog is to have something for everyone… mom, dad, kids, grandparents, etc.  I hope you’ll continue reading my musings and comment away!

Thanks for reading,


when is a gift not really a present?

My birthday is June 25th. I’m telling you this not because I expect your to send me a present, but, as you can imagine, this is the month when my credit card companies, my insurance agent and all the other sign-ups that requested my birthday will send me a present.

Some send those automatic greetings. Aren’t they pathetic? It’s not like they know me personally. For me it just reinforces the idea that computer programs have taken over for the personal phone call or cards that were sent. I am sure Hallmark Cards is crying in its soup.

But today’s present really set me back. Bon-Tons, the department store in the Newburgh Mall, send me a very sweet card with a bold graphic and a simple, HAPPY BIRTHDAY on the cover.

All well and good until I opened the card. There were two gift certificates.  Great, I thought! It gives me an excuse to go shopping… then I read the small print. One certificate requires me to spend at least $50 (And I get 20% discount) and the other suggests no minimum purchase but I have to shop online.

First, I don’t like receiving a present that just encourages me to spend more than I really want to.  And second, don’t push me to shop on the web if what I really want is an in-store experience.

But the thing that irked me the most is that I could probably get as good a deal in one of their newspaper inserts or online.

So “shame on you” Bon-Tons. You didn’t really want to wish me a happy birthday; you just wanted to created another “hurry in a shop” discount. Fire the person who came up with this awful idea.

UPDATE: Just heard from Gina, from the marketing department at Bon-Ton’s Department Store. Apparently she works for the boss who suggested their current birthday program. The same one I suggested they fire. According to Gina they welcomed my comments because they are in the middle of revamping their promotional programs and should launch new programs as soon as August.

According to marketing studies, Bon-Tons did everything right…almost.

  • 1.  They actually read the comments. Ever leave a comment for a store and never hear back from them?
  • 2.  They responded quickly with a personal phone call.
  • 3. They acknowledged the problem I addressed.
  • 4. And said thank-you and encouraged me to keep in contact with any other thoughts.

According to marketing studies, if a business follows the four above steps, they limit the damage and will most probably keep the complainer as a client. The one step they could have taken is to give a “gift” to say thank you. That assures that you not only keep the customer but will encourage the customer to tell others. Word of mouth compliments are the “bread-and-butter ” for business growth.

What customer service stories do you have to share?

A fun and inspiring craft for you and your little one. Enjoy creating this tissue paper jar… tissue paper will become bright and colorful with blinking fireflies inside and behind the colors.  Children will enjoy being hands on with this project. Encourages fine motor skills and as always solidifies the bond between parent and child. The kind of bond that forms from working one on one.

Recommended for ages 4 and up 🙂

{{Supply List }}

* Jars from your recyclables * Modge Podge * Left over tissue paper

* Hammer and Nail * Left over spray paint * Pipe Cleaners * Glow in the dark Pony Beads *

{{ Step #1 }} Parent Step – Hammer 6-8 holes in the lid of your jar, spray paint and set aside to dry.

{{ Step #2 }}  Apply a thin layer of Modge Podge on your jar in small sections at a time so that your glue doesn’t dry while you are working. Let your child rip, tear, and apply tissue paper to the section that has been modge podged. Help your child smooth out their tissue paper if needed by applying another layer of modge podge over top. Repeat until entire jar is covered.

{{ Step #3 }} Let your child thread a pipe cleaner with your glow in the dark pony beads, making sure to leave 2 inches on each side free of beads. You will need this area to twist handle onto jar. While your child is doing this, take two pipe cleaners and twist the ends together creating one large pipe cleaner…

{{ Step #4 }}  Bend your child’s beaded handle into a “U” shape and with one hand hold it onto the lip of the jar.

{{ Step #5 }}  Take the pipe cleaner your lengthened and while holding beaded pipe cleaner with one hand… take your other hand and wrap the longer piece around the entire jar 2xs and weave in. Be sure to leave the area your child did not bead out so that you can fold it up and twist around itself.

{{ Step #6 }}  Fold up un-beaded ends and twist around itself, this secures your handle to the jar.

{{ Step #7 }} Enjoy! let the little one stay up a little later and enjoy going into the yard on an adventure. I have seen fireflies early this year, so keep your peepers open. When there are no fireflies, place an electric votive candle inside and take a dark adventure walk with your child through the yard. Point out all the differences between the things you see in the dark with those that you see in the day.

Electric votives can be purchased in the candle section of your local craft store. These items are flameless and safe for little ones. Just turn them on, place them inside, and enjoy!


Create patriotic windsock!!



Contrary to popular belief (and Macy’s commercials), most moms aren’t waking up on Mother’s Day and expecting…

  • diamonds (hello, have your seen the price of gas??? At $4.15 a gallon, unless that tennis bracelet is getting me to work and back, no thank you)
  • plants (with a husband, two kids, two dogs, and two turtles, I have no need for another living, breathing thing that is going to demand food and water, AND not help me mop or cook),
  • chocolate (and expect me to rock out a bikini in less than two months?? Heck to the NO.)

Now, I’m not speaking for all moms, but I think what most of us want is to feel appreciated. A card (Hallmark or handmade, we’re not picky), some flowers, pancakes and coffee with our family, maybe the promise of 15 uninterrupted minutes to read, nap, pee, etc. – that’s all that it takes to make most of us smile and feel loved.

That being said, the whole idea of Mother’s Day is definitely one of those “First World Problems“- much like your iPhone not uploading your latest tweet about which Jersey Housewife you are siding with (Team Manzo!!) or debating which OPI polish color you should use for your mani/pedi, Tutti Frutti Tonga or Royal Flush Blush…decisions, decisions!

These life or death decisions, are obviously not literally life or death. However, there are moms out there, in our own country, and beyond, that are faced with the very reality of death daily, even as they labor to bring new life into this world.

Every minute a women dies of complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. Ninety-nine percent of these deaths occur in developing nations. For every woman who dies in childbirth, another 30 women incur injuries and infections, which are often preventable. (Source: World Health Organization.)
  • In rural Papua New Guinea, 1 in 7 women die in childbirth.
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, 1 in 13 women die of causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.
  • The risk of dying as a result of pregnancy if you live in the industrialized world stands at 1 in 4,100. (Big props to Rants from Mommyland genius mommies, Kate and Lydia,  for gathering this information…and thanks for letting me steal it. xoxo)

These figures are staggering and horrifying…But we can change that…YOU can change that…today.

While reading my favorite mommy blog, Rants From Mommyland, I found out that there is an amazing movement, Bloggers for Birth Kits, happening right now. I found out that there are brave mamas in very rural, poor areas of our world, who need our help right now. One amazing Australian mama, Adriel Booker, who blogs from the land of Olivia Newton John and wallabies, is on a mission to provide struggling women in rural areas with clean birth kits. What is a Clean Birth Kit, you may ask? Well…

1. Soap (for the birth attendant to wash her hands). Use a hotel-size soap or cut a regular bar of soap into 1/8-sized pieces. (Microwave the bar of soap for 30 seconds to soften it for cutting).
2. One pair of plastic gloves (for the birth attendant to wear).
3. Five squares of gauze (to wipe the mum’s perineum and baby’s eyes). Gauze pieces should be about 10×10 centimeters or 3×3 inches.
4. One blade (to cut the cord). You can buy individually wrapped sterile blades at the pharmacist or buy utility blades (much cheaper) at the hardware store. We teach the women to boil the blades for sterilization, so utility blades work just fine.
5. Three pieces of strong string (2 for tying the cord, 1 for “just in case”). String should be about 30 centimeters or 10 inches long.
6. One plastic sheet (for a clean birthing surface). Sheet should be approximately 1×1 meter or 1×1 yard and can be purchased at your hardware or paint store.
7. One sandwich-size ziplock bag (to pack the contents).

This simple kit, can be put together for less than the cost of a venti Caramel Macchiato, and will make you feel a lot less jittery, and much more powerful (because let’s face it, we all feel a tad bit inferior in front of those baristas).

We are so lucky to live in our bubble of first world medicine and comfortable birthing conditions. We take classes, read a million books, write a birth plan, have the choice of home-birth vs. hospital-birth, we create  special playlists on our iPods to keep us motivated, soothed and sane during the big event…but at no point have any of us worried about not having a qualified medical professional to help bring our babies into the world, or thought about giving birth on a dirt floor, armed with a contaminated water supply and no antibiotics in case of infection.
If you are feeling as blessed as I am, please join me in this cause. I am on a mission to make at least 100 Clean Birth Kits by June 5. Some ideas to get involved:
  • host a Clean Birth Kit girl’s night! Assign each person a supply (and a delicious dish!) to bring. Make an assembly line, pour the wine, and….GO!
  • Ask your Church, Girl Scout troop, neighborhood, anyone to donate supplies or entire birth kits.
  • Birth Kit date night! Nothing says romance more, than a trip to Home Depot for some plastic gloves and rope (right, Mr. Grey??)
The possibilities are endless. If you would like to participate in this amazing event, please email me ( I will give you a drop off location or a meet up spot to hand off the kits. One, five, twenty- as many as you can make would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you so much for listening,sharing and helping! Hoping your Mother’s Day is even better than a hot fudge sundae, smothered in melted cheddar and topped with smoked bacon. Served with a gallon of Pinot, in a dish that I won’t have to wash. Oh yes, a girl can dream.

My brothers and I have been slowly cleaning out my mother’s house — the family house — over the past few weeks.  Some stuff was easy to remove like recent knick knacks and decorations that held few memories, the sympathy cards wrapped up in a rubber band, pieces of furniture purchased just in the last years.  As the weeks moved along, and the new family was getting ready to take possession, we knew we had to start digging deep into the stuff that reminded us of the 50-plus years my parents lived there.  For my brothers and I, it was the only house we knew for a big chunk of our lives, and the house where we celebrated just about every holiday throughout the years.

On the last visit, I had to get tough and remove some of the items that were there forever, it seemed.  And, I knew my brother, who spent most of his time with our mom, might not be able to take them down.  So, down came the house blessings.  OMG, how many house blessings she had around the house!  If there was an award for house blessings, we’d surely take first place.  Oh, and all the positive affirmations on the refrigerator, above the kitchen sink, on every shelf.  It seemed you couldn’t glance anywhere without reading the Serenity Prayer; and in her bedroom, as big as a dinner plate, was this bright yellow happy face.

Then came down all the pictures of her four kids, her five grandkids, and her first great-grandchild, who she got to meet and enjoy for a while before she passed last August.  I took them all down, slowly and solemnly.  The mirror she’d glance in before leaving the house, the hanging angels, all the battery-operated clocks that ticked ever so lightly, with one clock never matching the time on another clock.  I used to think that our house was set in different time zones:  the clock in the dining room was off five minutes from the clock in the kitchen, andthe clock upstairs might be 15 minutes later.  But they had one thing in common, like I said, they ticked. And never in unison, so there was always the sound of incessant crickets in the house; a home that was never truly silent.  Except for now.  The clocks are down, the batteries taken out, and the hands have stopped moving.

In the evening, around 6:30, I think to call her. We would talk about the day, what we made for dinner, what was in the news.  If I had a problem or was wrestling with something.  She may not always have an answer, but she listened, and I always felt better.  That time of night seemed the best to call since I wasn’t dashing out somewhere, the dishes were done, and I also knew that any later, she’d be settling in for the night.

MJ with Mom at Plum Beach, BrooklynI have the best memories of her, and will probably think to call her at 6:30 for a long, long time.  With this first Mother’s Day without her, I’m not so much sad as I am grateful for all the years I had her, and that our memories are not just good, they’re terrific.  She accepted her children for who they were and was always there to advise, and we even had an agreement that we could disagree.  She loved a good joke, the Kentucky Derby, mystery books, the crosswords, and coffee.  and her love for her children was never in doubt.

This Mother’s Day, as sappy as it sounds, I’m really thinking more about my own children, and thinking that I really want to be as good a Mom to them as she was to me.  I want them to look back and have their own terrific memories.  And I think my Mom would like that.

I must admit it. I am an NPR junkie. They review a book. I buy it. Two days ago, there was an interview with a financial columnist who discussed long term health insurance. For those of you who are not aware of this outrageous product, it helps us finance our healthcare when we no longer can take care of ourselves. I am sure, that for most of you young parents, this is not of great concern right now. And anyway, I wasn’t ready to buy her book.

Photo by Russell Thurston

Then last night I heard Terry Gross on Fresh Air. (It’s a radio show. Not TV…this is for the TV junkies in our audience.) She talked to New York Times Phys Ed columnist Gretchen Reynolds. In her new book, The First 20 Minutes, Reynolds breaks some exercise myths that I have lived with for a long time.

Don’t do those stretches at the beginning of your exercise workout. She suggests doing some simple warm-ups makes your body more limber.

Chocolate milk is the great after exercise meal. Be careful, she warns. This advice is for those who are exercising for a least an hour. It’s all about those calories.

You don’t need eight glasses of water a day to stay hydrated. Apparently our bodies are good barometers for telling us when we need more water.

What does this exercise book have to do with long term health insurance? For me it’s everything!

According to Reynolds, when we keep fit we increase our lifespan by 17% (or maybe it’s 20%). I am sure there are diminishing returns as we age. For example, for those of you in your 30’s that only increases your lifespan by five or six years, but for me it could increase my life span by fifteen years.  And the best part is that exercising helps not only our bodies but our minds as well. Read her blog  “How working the muscles may boost brainpower.”

So this is my idea. If I exercise at least a half hour every day I probably won’t need long term health insurance.  And isn’t that the best money-saving idea you have heard yet!! Besides, think how smart I am going to be.

I tend not to admire books purely for their look, but Ripe is certainly the exception. It’s hefty striking orange cover and its unusual square size immediately sets it apart from other books.  But it also hit my radar because I just finished taping a video by Dr. Janet Sullivan, chief medical officer of Hudson Health Plan. Dr. Sullivan suggests we can help ourselves and our kids by changing what our plate of food looks like.  Rather than having half the plate’s portion filled with meat or fish, change to half including fruits and vegetables. Fruits and Vegetables! That’s what RIPE is all about.

Writer Cheryl Sternman Rule and Photographer Paulette Phlipot created a cookbook based on color. The striking reds of beets and pomegranates. The succulent tastes of orange persimmons and yams.  Have you ever heard of yellow pomelos?  Greens feature broccoli and the popular edamame.  And the purples show off their delicious berries and cabbage. Wait, I left out white. (Read the book to discover the beauty in white.)

Even if you are not a cook, the book is beautiful to look at. The full-page color photographs just jump out at you. You wish you could eat each page rather than have to wait for the chef to prepare a scrumptious meal using RIPE recipes.

For each recipe Rule shares some of her insights on the fruit or vegetable before presenting the recipes For example her potato section starts with:

“It’s a wonder that a hefty baked potato topped with butter, sour cream, and cheese has anything in common with a slim, curvy fingerling or a long, crispy fry. But potatoes are tuberous chameleons, so effortlessly able to span the spectrum from lowbrow to highbrow, from staple to treat. Ask Mr. Potato Head: he’ll tell you it’s just as much fun to wear the crazy pink ears as it is to sport the bush mushy mustache.”

In Dr. Sullivan’s video she suggests that sometimes to get kids to eat vegetables you must be sneaky in your presentation. “Not all vegetables need to look green and mushy,” says Sullivan. Well based on RIPE, I think Rule agrees. Her fruit and vegetable recipes present common ingredients in a colorful style. Good enough for everyone to eat.

This book is a great present for anyone who loves eating (like me) or for that chef on your list.

Would you like your children to have fun growing flowers and food? If you answered yes, you must check out the “gardening with children,” program at Abundant Life Farm in Walker Valley.
We attended their Open House on Sunday and enjoyed the farm’s empowering and kid-friendly atmosphere. It’s a farm with a mission: to teach families how to grow their own food.
Here, kids pick sweet peas in teepees and blow bubbles while they sow seeds. Little bridges and streams crisscross the landscape, terraced plantings rise up high, and frogs and tadpoles leap and lap in ponds. There is a chicken coop, a swingset with a teetering tractor and two tool areas: a shed for the adults and a bright purple bus stocked with kid-sized shovels and rakes. Abundant Life Farm was built to form community and all are welcome.
Sweetpea Teepees and compost maker.
We learned many lessons during our time at the farm, but most memorably, our almost three-year-old son learned how to plant seeds in soil for the first time.
Planting flower seeds

The woman who heads Abundant Life Farm, biodynamic spin farmer and educator, Linda Borghi told us, “What you sweep off your kitchen floor is dirt, but what we have here is soil.”

In a time when everybody needs to do their part, this little farm teaches us how we can.

Abundant Life Farm is a half-acre biodynamic spin farm. Spin farming is an economic model that makes farming on small plots of land profitable, and according to the farm’s website, “Biodynamics grows food with a strong connection to a healthy, living soil. “

Abundant Life Farm offers 90-minute classes six days a week to children 2 years of age and up.  Caregivers attend classes with their child/children. 

All children receive their first class free and if their parents can’t afford the tuition, Abundant Life Farm will give scholarships to as many as possible.

Pricing for the Program is as follows:

1 class: $15
5 classes: $65
10 classes: $110
20 Classes: $200
Email Linda Borghi at to find out more information or to register for a first free class. We are!

In addition, if you would like to register for a class, go to to download the registration form, emergency medical form and the lesson reservation form.

Lastly, there is a mushroom workshop coming up on Saturday, May 12th 
from 1 – 4pm

@ the farm 

$35.00 per family
everyone takes a log home

Have fun exploring the Hudson Valley with the kids!

Take a look at the fun we had at Abundant Life Farm this weekend! It’s hard to believe that you can do so much with only a half acre of land. It’s something to experience.

Bubbles paraphernalia
Kids’ Cool Purple Tool  Trailer
Tractor Swing
Bees and Bee Tea
Linda holds a refractometer, a tool that measures nutrients in foods. She said you can buy it on the web for about $50.
Hens being raised for Eggs
Gnome praying over hastas

Adult farm tools
Kids’ Farm Tools

The Flats

I remember being asked that. I wanted to be a teacher, a fashion design or an architect. And what did I become…a magazine publisher. So much for learning about careers when I was young.

But today, over 3,000 kids got a chance to visit the US Army hanger at Stewart International Airport filled with business groups talking to kids about career choices.

As I drove up, I saw one of the huge cargo planes with its open bay. Kids were scrambling to see inside. Maybe one of them will become the pilot of one of these “babies” bringing food and supplies to remote locations.

Upon entering the hangar, you hear the buzz of kids moving from booth to booth, talking to each other and being generally excited about the program.

As I moved on, it was fun to see kids from the Orange-Ulster BOCES staffing booths and sharing their experiences with the young students. One young man learning the electrical trade said, “Even if you don’t become an electrician, you can learn to fix your house and its free.” Smart kid!!

If your student attended the 13th Annual Y2Kids Day, ask them what they saw. Talk about careers in the medical field, the financial field or the health field. Discuss the creative arts and sports. It doesn’t mean they have to become the next Derek Jeter but it fuels their imagination and allows them to dream of new possibilities.

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