You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2014.

 

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Recently, or so it seems to me, the Hudson Valley is making headlines as a tourist destination.  We have always been well-known for our bucolic setting, but now there seems to be another aspect that is drawing people to the area:  agriculture and all things produce from the pastoral fields it grows in to the farmers’  markets, to the growing number of restaurants with menus highlighting their use of local ingredients.  As a life-long Hudson Valley resident, I knew we had access to great, local produce, I just wasn’t aware that this set us apart.   But, now that I stop to think about it, we really do have a vast and varied selection any locavore (one who eats foods grown locally whenever possible) would rejoice in from wineries and breweries, to organic beef, poultry, and dairy, not to mention the produce.

 

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Tomorrow is the first day of the season for my town’s farmers’ market as it is opening weekend for many across the Hudson Valley.  It’s always a fun experience for the girls and I, and after shopping the stands it’s tradition to relax on the lawn with a baked treat from the local baker or, if we’re lucky, the “Pop Man” will be there with his organic fruit frozen pops.  In addition to the treat, my kids get to see where their food comes from, pick their own healthy snacks, and we, of course, always run into a friend or two.  It’s a very different and much more enjoyable experience than the grocery store, to say the least.  I’m looking forward to the start of the season and being a tourist in my own hometown.

 

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Check out the list of local farmers’ markets (DutchessOrange, Sullivan, Ulster) and then go and see what all the fuss is about.  There’s a reason our little Hudson Valley is making the news!

 

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Remember when your baby ate anything you gave them? Me either.

Remember when your baby ate anything you gave them? Me either.

During a play date a mother observed my preschooler eating salad. “You are giving me so much hope right now. You mean my kid might eat a salad one day?” Yes! I am here to bring you hope!

My kids are just coming out of a hard core, year long cheese phase. They ate cheese, cheese and more glorious cheese! From mac and cheese, to grilled cheese to pizza. It was all about the cheese. I was so worried they were missing out on key nutrients for proper development.  But, after speaking with my doctor and a few different dietitians I am assured of these things:

  1. My children will not starve.
  2. My children will not get scurvy.
  3. My children are normal.

It turns out toddlers like control, and lucky me I gave birth to two control enthusiasts. So being out numbered I have to pick my battles wisely. Getting my kids to eat everything on their plate is not a battle I am willing to take up. I’m saving my energy for bigger battles like manners, potty training and just getting through the day.

Toddlers like routine. What looks like a food rut to us is really a toddler’s way of sticking to a routine. Eating the same foods over and over is comforting to them.  I spent a lot of time hiding veggie purees in their mac and cheese, pasta and pizza sauces. The usual tricks did not work on them. They turned their noses up at ketchup and ranch dip, even hummus.

Portion sizes are very different for your toddler. Little ones will still get enough of the good stuff in a small amount.

Repetition is key to introducing new foods. I read somewhere it can take up to 17 tries to introduce a new food to a toddler.  Seven. Teen. Tries.  Serving new foods alongside favorites provides exposure. My kids were so resistant to new foods that it was an entire year before they took their first bite of a carrot! Funny how they’d eat it in baked goods or a smoothie all the time, but a carrot in the raw was a no go.

Often the biggest difficulty with a picky eater is the comments other parents make about it. Let it roll off mamas. What I have learned most is don’t sweat this parenting rite of passage.  Again, as long as your child’s minimal eating habits have been checked out by a doc, they are growing at a typical pace and they will eat something, they will be OK!

At age 3 ½ My kids aren’t eating salad every night of the week, nor are they finishing all of the food put in front of them, and there are nights they still eat just mac and cheese. But after a year of casually sharing new foods they are less resistant to trying new things. It doesn’t hurt that I have a new obsession with making dessert with healthy stuff. It’s amazing how quickly kids will eat anything chocolate! Even when they have no idea there’s an avocado hiding inside.  (Mwahaha!)

What are your tricks for feeding a picky eater?

 

Download my favorite sneaky sweet treat recipes for FREE!

 

Memorial Day has come and gone. Loved being in Washingtonville for the parade. We could not have gotten a more beautiful day.

 

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This summer  I am looking forward to warm days, summer fun, and time spent doing the things that will make me happy. The older I get the easier it is to enjoy myself.  If I made a list of what will make me happy this summer I would include :

 

1. Start and finish my kitchen remake.

 

2. Get my garden in better shape.

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3. Spend quality time with my family and friends!!! How about at a concert in Bethel Woods??

 

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4. Send my daughter to sleep away camp for a week!!!!

 

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5. Learn how to relax. Spend some time mastering this.

 

6. Have multiple backyard bbqs.

 

7. Light up our outdoor fireplace!!

 

8. Let go some of those awesome sky lanterns!!!!

 

9. Try not to make this list any longer because see #5 !!!

 

Happy Summer to all!!

Lisa Bock

 

Memorial Day is one of the most popular times of the year for yard sales. My sister-in-law and her husband had a three day yard sale concluding today, which my family helped with on Saturday and if you’ve ever held these sales you know they are super exhausting. They can be a great way to clean out the clutter and make a little cash, but a little prep work goes a long way. I’ve come up with some tips for both would-be buyers and sellers to make the most of your yard sale experience.

In my opinion, yard sales are a buyers game and my reasoning for this is that by the time you decide to hold a yard sale, you’ve either been A. unsuccessful at selling items online or don’t want to go this route, B. Are on the verge of just throwing everything out or C. Really need to scrape together some extra cash for some unexpected or extra expense. Some people are really good at making hundreds of dollars holding yard sales, but it usually depends on how well you prepare, your location, the weather and of course your selection of goods up for sale. So here are some tips for the seller first:

1. Pick A Good Location And Date – It may be easiest to just pull stuff out in front of your house, but if you live really far off major roads you probably won’t see too much traffic. Your better bet is to team up with a friend who lives in a location that gets a lot more visibility from the road. Is it more work? Yes, but you increase your odds of packing less of your stuff up at the end of the day. Check weather forecasts in advance and try to pick dates where nice weather are in the cards. You might still want to set up tarps or just bring them in case. They can be great for shade on really hot days as well. Like I said earlier Memorial Day weekend has a reputation as a popular yard sale weekend so it’s a great time to cash in with a sale of your own.

2. The More The Merrier – If you can team up with another family or encourage several of your neighbors to hold their yard sales on the same day. You’ll draw more traffic and you can split the expense of advertising in the paper if you so choose to do this. The more selection there is, the more likely someone is to stop to see what treasures they can find for cheap.

3. Advertise, Advertise, Advertise – My mother always did pretty well with classified ads in the paper so you could give this a try, but there are other free options. List your sale on craigslist.org and be sure to describe your big ticket items like furniture, tools, DVDs and electronics, jewelry, and baby equipment. These are the things I’ve personally noticed get people to stop and look around. You can post your sale in Swap and Sale pages on Facebook and there are even online virtual yard sale pages. Don’t forget to list the day(s), times, and location. Lots of signs with arrows pointing the way to your yard sale are also useful for shoppers who might just be traveling through the area and decide to stop by.

4. Bring On The Negotiations – If you aren’t willing to negotiate on a price, you probably should try selling that item on craigslist or ebay first. I think most yard sale shoppers venture out to sales with the expectation of negotiating your prices down. Start by marking your items up by a little bit, but keeping them within a fair price range. This way you’ll be prepared to negotiate down to your “must have” ideal price to sell it. You can always say no, but  a fish on the hook is worth more than a potential one. You can also encourage your shopper to keep looking and find other items to bundle with it for a reduced price. They get a lower price and you have less items to clean up when it’s all over. Some people also like to offer free gifts with purchase as an incentive to sweeten a deal. You could maybe say, “I really can’t go lower than $X on this item, but you can pick something out of this bin (usually your little items) for free if you can meet this price.” You have to keep in mind that unlike going to a shore, yard sale shoppers are looking for deals on items they would like to have if the price is right, not necessarily items they need to buy that day.

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As I said earlier, I truly think yard sales are a buyers market so here are tips for the buyers out there.

1. Timing Is EVERYTHING – Check local papers and online and check for start and end times. You best bets to getting a truly great bargain are to go early or late in the day. If you’re hoping to score some big ticket items on the cheap, hit the sale earlier as they might not last till the end of the day. You can always ask that the sellers hold an item or you can prepay for it while you go get a bigger vehicle to bring it home in. But don’t wait on those big items because they are usually the first to go. If you’re going just to treasure hunt and aren’t in the market for anything in particular, stop by toward the end of the sale. This is your best time to get items for drastically reduced prices or free. The day after sales are over are a great opportunity to scoop up freebies that people don’t want to spend time dragging back into the house. Stop by sale locations the next day or check online where a lot of people offer yard sale leftovers to anyone willing to come pick them up curbside.

2. Negotiate And Bundle – Try to save negotiations for bigger items or bundle a bunch of items and offer a slightly lower price. Nobody really appreciates someone trying to haggle a dollar item down to pennies. Instead ask to get that lower priced item free if you purchase that other item or items you’ve been looking at. Most yard sale items are already priced pretty low, but you can still negotiate down in most cases, just try to be respectful about it because after all these are someone’s personal belongings.

3. Come With Cash – The yard sale is one where cash is king. While most sellers will hold bigger items for you, they might not be so willing to hold those lower priced items while you go and get cash. They might lose a chance to sell them to other shoppers who come by while risking the chance that you may not return for the item. My brother-in-law told me that a lot of yard sale buyers like to put a certain amount of cash (what they want to spend) in one pocket and the rest of their cash in another. When they pick up a more expesive item they might say, “Would you take $X amount because this is all I have (while flashing the cash).” A seller is more likely to work with you when you flash the cash because they know something is better than nothing and there are no guarantees they’ll get another buyer later in the day.

What’s the best deal you ever got from a yard sale or the most money you ever made?

 

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WOOHOO! We made it!  The weekend is here, and it’s no ordinary weekend!  It’s Memorial Day Weekend and the unofficial beginning to the summer season!  Bring on the warm weather, sunshine, and all the outdoor activities you can handle!  It’s a long weekend with plenty to do in the Hudson Valley:

 

Warwick Valley Winery will be hosting a Bob Dylan Tribute all weekend from 12-5.  I know what you’re thinking, but it’s totally family friendly with a huge lawn to let the kids loose.  Be sure to purchase your tickets in advance before they sell out.

 

Sugarloaf will be having their annual Spring Festival on Saturday and Sunday from 10-6.  They will have arts and crafts made by local artisans, food, live music, and a kids’ zone.

 

Nothing says summer time like the drive-in and lucky for us, the Four Brothers Drive-In in Amenia and the Warwick Drive-In is open for business.  Grab a bunch of sleeping bags and camping chairs for an evening under the stars.

 

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Hudson Highlands Outdoor Discovery Center officially opens their Story Walk this weekend.  In addition to the walk, there will be crafts and snacks for the kids and even a chance to meet one of the characters from the  story walk book, Lost in the Woods.

 

Woodstock & New Paltz Art and Crafts Fair will be held Saturday and Sunday 10-5:30 and on Monday from 10-4 at the Ulster Fairgrounds.  They will have food, live music, crafts, and kids’ activities.

 

The Catskill Animal Sanctuary will be offering tours on Saturday and Sunday from 11-2:30.  Get up close and personal with their free range animals while you learn about them and their mission.

 

I’m sure it will be a busy weekend for most, but don’t forget to fit in a family hike!  Check here for my list of family friendly trails. This weekend would also be a great time to get started on creating that summer bucket list  and maybe even crossing something off!

 

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Most importantly, commemorate Memorial Day by honoring the men and women who fought and died for our country.  One way to do that is to attend one of the many Memorial Day Parades being held this weekend. Another way is to visit any of the local monuments we have dispersed across the Hudson Valley. In our village alone there are several monuments that have been erected in memorial to those who lost their life while serving in the military.  I pass by those monuments everyday but never gave them a second thought until my daughter began asking about them.  I took it as a teachable moment and spent an evening visiting a few in our village and actually reading what each stood for.  For additional kid-friendly ways to commemorate Memorial Day click here.

 

Whatever you chose, have a safe and beautiful weekend!

 

 

 

I had been trapped for hours in the back yard. Forced to swashbuckle against my will. Someone put a twig in my hand and made me sword fight before I was told to walk the plank. This is not a bad dream. This is my children’s obsession with all things Pirate. Yes, friends my girls love pirates. The bad boys of the high seas. So, when a friend of mine hand delivered an invitation to her son’s pirate themed birthday party, I had no choice. I had to make them their own treasure maps. Mostly because I had two kids fighting over one treasure map. (Thanks G!)

Start by brewing some tea. Not to relax with, but to paint with! Be sure to allow the tea to steep long enough to make a dark brown color. The tea stains make the paper look like aged parchment paper.

Brew regular or decaf tea

Brew regular or decaf tea

Pour a small amount into a bowl, or cup.

Pour small amount into bowl. Small amount = smaller spill.

Small amount = smaller spill.

Use whatever paper you have on hand. We used regular drawing paper pulled from the tablet. Next, give your kid their favorite paint brush and let the painting begin. Or, you can place smaller pieces of paper on a tray with edges (baking sheet works too) and let them pour the tea over them. Hang them up to dry.

The color on our paper came out lighter than I wanted. After it dried I poured more tea over it and allowed to dry. This made a wonderful layered color effect.

Use paint brush to apply tea to paper

Use paint brush to apply tea to paper

Since the pages were too wet to draw our maps on we left them in the sun to dry while we searched for treasure. The girls sorted their glass gems and gathered their “booty” from their dress up jewelry collection.

Panning for golden treasure

Panning for golden treasure

Once the pages were dry I tore them in half to give the edges a more weathered look. This also gave each kid two maps of their very own.  I used our markers to add colorful nautical art to each map. In true pirate fashion, the girls dictated what they wanted me to draw on their maps.

Final maps

Our maps next to the inspiration map

After everything had completely dried we took the maps outside to walk a treasure trail in our yard.We took turns hiding and finding our treasures. Of course I had to walk the plank AGAIN. It’s not my fault I’m an awesome treasure hunter! Best part of the project is it didn’t cost me a single doubloon.

 

What ‘argh’ ya planning for your back yard adventures? ‘Shiver me timbers’ I need to get out more!

Waaaaay back when I began my blog, we talked about how I was failing miserably at hitting on my husband.  I was struggling to make outright moves on my man to get him into bed.  More recently, I’ve been thinking about the nonverbal signs we send out to our partners.  Beneath the overt moves we make (or attempt to), there is a slightly more nuanced world.  It is a place where nonverbal communication lives: sexual and otherwise.  Marriages are filled with these subtle signs and symbols.

Think about your partner and the secret language you’ve established with each other.  Are you fluent in your partner’s silent sexual language? Do you become better at sending out and reading these signals the longer you’re married?  Or were you more in tune at the start?  There are so many aspects to this complex world and things can become tricky, so let’s start with something easy:

How do you know when your partner wants to do it? (Without her saying, Let’s do it, baby!)

When it comes to whether I’m up for some nookie, sometimes words just aren’t necessary.   Here’s a few from my house and the homes of random unnamed friends.

“He’s brushing his teeth right after the kids go to bed…”

“I wore a thong today…”

“I’m covered head to toe in a blanket with my elastic waist pants on, reading Harry Potter and eating a bowl of ice cream…”  (Okay, that one is not so subtle)

“He’s helping with the dishes…”

“I left on the cute dress I wore to work today instead of changing into my PJs at 5pm…”

“I keep talking about all the hilarious, annoying, cute, frustrating, silly moments of the day with the kids”

“Someone’s taking a shower at 8pm…”

“Antiques Roadshow is on…”

“He came home with chocolate…”

“I’m writing my blog about our sex life…” (that one could go either way, right?)

Some silent signals are completely obvious and span the majority of long-term relationships, but others are unique to certain partnerships or just generally not as easy to ascertain.  Antiques Roadshow might be foreplay…

Letting your partner know whether you’re up for a good old fashioned time is just one piece of the silent secret language puzzle…

What is one way you or your partner silently tells the other if you’re in the mood or not?  Share on Facebook or Twitter @HVParent

C’mon, just do it.  You might blush, but you might like it, too.

 

 

 

So I had every intention of writing about a great new indoor place we checked out a few weeks ago, but with three days of rain almost behind us and a beautiful sunny weekend ahead, I just couldn’t do it.  I will save that for a rainy weekend, and share some outdoor adventures instead.  My family, like most families, has a packed schedule.  My husband works in the city and travels frequently; I spend the week the way most stay-at-home parents do: shuttling little ones around  to their various activities and running errands.  The weekends are always too short and filled with birthday parties, sports, and the ever present “honey do” list.

 

When I began dreading Saturday morning much like a Monday morning, I knew something had to change.  Now, before the weekend gets crazy, we take a little time for just us, our little family of four, and do something we all enjoy sometimes for the whole day and sometimes just for an hour.  Now that the weather is finally nice, our first choice is always something outside, preferably a hike.  Our girls love to explore, so a family friendly hike is the obvious choice for us.  We are new to hiking with small kids and are still discovering places to go, but here are a few that we love:

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Split Rock at Mohonk Preserve is famous for its watering hole.  Even though it’s too cold to swim, the falls are a short walk from the parking lot making it the perfect distance for little legs. My girls splashed and explored in the stream for hours and you can read about our adventure here. Want a stroller friendly trail with views for days?  Stop at the Mohonk Welcome Center which you can read about here.

 

Hudson Highlands Outdoor Discovery Center has several family friendly trails including their Story Walk Trail which opens May 24th.  Read this children’s story as you meander through the woods.

 

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The Orange County Arboretum located within Orange County Park is in full bloom.  The paths are stroller friendly and there is plenty of room for little kids to explore and run around.  Before heading out, stop at the farm across the street and see all the newborn foals and their mamas.

 

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Croton Gorge Park, while technically not located in the Hudson Valley, it is just over the Bear Mountain Bridge.  The “waterfall” is gorges (haha) and the park offers several trails, one of which takes you across a bridge and over the waterfall itself.

 

Minnewaska State Park is always an excellent choice.  I have visited many times in my life but not until recently with my kids falsely believing it wasn’t kid friendly.  And, cliff jumping and sunbathing on the edge are not, but there are several trails that are kid friendly including the walk around the lake.  Just hold onto those little hands when walking up to the edge.

 

We are always looking for new adventures so if you know of a favorite kid friendly trail, please share!

 

 

Dare I say the winter that would never die has finally passed and we can FINALLY, FINALLY (no for real this time) enjoy some summer time activities? Woo hoo!

For us, summer begins a flurry of travel plans, exciting adventures and new places to see.  I feel like our social calendar fills up so quickly it’s easy to lose track of the simple things summertime offers. My girls are 3 ½ this summer which means they can enjoy a greater variety of activities this year. This age is when those warm memories start to really take hold. I want to share the lazy parts of summer with my kids as well as the excitement of big adventures.

This year we are making a Summer Bucket List!

Get as fancy as you want when making your list

Get as fancy as you want when making your list

Making a summer bucket list is a fun way to add new adventures, make memories and keep traditions alive. We made our list by first checking out local sites we keep meaning to try. We added a few new hiking places, some old hiking places and parks/museums that offer free admission days.  I layered in a few summer staples I want to be a memorable part of my girls’ childhood- like making s’mores, snuggling by a camp fire, eating ice cream for dinner and watching fireworks. I didn’t forget about those rainy days that catch us by surprise. I sprinkled in a few rainy day activities to keep us busy and to make some memories with; like dancing in the rain, a puppet show, making a fort and a Disney movie marathon.  I am excited to wake up each day and choose our own adventure!

Display list in a frame and use dry erase marker to check off items

Display list in a frame and use dry erase marker to check off items

Here are some tips for making your own Summer Bucket List:

Keep it simple. If you put too many big adventures on your list that require a lot of planning, travel time and money it may feel more depleting than memorable.

Check your local resources. Are there free hiking trails, picnic areas, beach areas you can use? Many libraries have free museum passes to loan, and they offer free programs throughout the summer. Check out Hudson Valley Parents Places to Go for more ideas.

Set an intention for the season. Are you looking for more family time? Are you looking to slow down and enjoy the simple life? Do you want to start a family project, or get more involved in your community? Maybe take a “staycation” and explore what your local area has to offer. Use a our local trip planner to make your planning easier.

Consider what stage your kids are in.  For the under 2 crowd maybe a simple list of things to accomplish with them. Like learn to blow a bubble, see grandma for the first time, or try a new park. If your little one is more mobile and ready for some action you can try group activities like a new story hour, make a new friend at play group, or try swimming in a pool.  Don’t forget about all the free sample classes at your local Little Gym/Gymboree, Music Together and other “mommy and me” type classes.

The fun part is getting the whole family involved! This way everyone has something to look forward to. Display your bucket list where everyone can see it and take turns checking off completed items.

Display your list or make an interactive list by using cards you pull out of a bucket

Display your list or make an interactive list by using cards you pull out of a bucket

The completed list becomes a great keepsake for any scrap book. Hey make that one of your bucket list items- scrap booking your summer!

Find your FREE printable bucket list here!

 

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