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When I was a kid New Year’s Eve was so exciting! My parents would let us stay up until Midnight to take us out to breakfast. We called it “First Breakfast” because it was literally the first breakfast of the New Year. One year we went to the diner with my parents and their friends, another year the local firehouse hosted a first breakfast event. I was just four years old when my parents started this tradition, but I still remember it today!

I knew I would make this a tradition for my little family one day. The only problem is, at age 6 my kids still “can’t hang.” If they do not go to bed at the same hour every night we have horrible, monstrous humans we can’t face the public with. So our solution is to celebrate a big first breakfast at our kitchen table every year. We make it special with colorful decorations and drink out of fancy glasses. It has become such a big hit at our house that I now keep a kit ready. I pull it out on New Year’s Eve after they fall asleep and set it up before I go to bed (hours before midnight).

The traditional colors for New Year celebrations are silver and gold, or black and white. However, we prefer the colors of Mardi Gras- green, gold and purple. These are all colors of royalty and represent prosperity and good fortune; all great things to hope for in the New Year and they make a pretty colorful back drop to our first breakfast.

Here is what I have in my first breakfast celebration kit:

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Champagne Flutes– We don’t actually serve champagne (to the children) for breakfast, but we do like feeling fancy. So we serve up their morning OJ (and our mimosas) in these colorful, reusable flutes. The kids really get a kick out of it!

Hats, Noise Makers and Beaded Necklaces – every year I set the table with these fun accessories for each person in the family. As soon as the kids come out in the morning we put on our fashions and march in a noisy parade through the house. Since mommy and daddy can no longer hang till midnight either, this noise isn’t so horrible after a full night’s sleep.

ny-kit-collage

Holiday Crackers- these are just fun! You pop them open and there is usually a paper crown inside along with some jokes and a little trinket. It keeps the kids busy while I am cooking up breakfast. They take turns cracking each other up and I get to enjoy hearing them laugh instead of argue for a minute. P.s. Holiday crackers usually go on sale for half price after the holiday season.

Tableware- I use disposable decorative paper plates with matching napkins. After cooking a big breakfast of omelets, bacon and fresh cinnamon buns, and drinking a few mimosas, I could use the break from washing dishes. P.p.s I hit up the dollar stores after the holiday and pick up festive prints for 50 cents each. I stock up to keep on hand for the next few years.

Masks- one of my kids wanted to start wearing masks for our parade one year and so the tradition has stuck around. We don’t wear them while eating breakfast because that would just be weird. Unless you are six then it’s just breakfast time. (I don’t even ask anymore).

ny-kit-masks

Clock– another kid created tradition. It makes a great centerpiece for our table.

Not included in the kit are colorful foiled chocolate coins I toss around the table to represent money and sweetness. I buy these every year because obviously chocolate is not going to survive more than a day in my house. And it could get pretty gross in storage for a year. I keep all our decorations in a reusable clear tote and put away until our next first breakfast.

Our version of First Breakfast may not have the same kind of thrill as when I was as a kid, but it is our own. Right now while the kids are still little and so dependent on routine, we are happy keeping the first breakfast tradition alive eight hours after the official start to the new year. It feels more manageable and sane for us. Maybe one day my children won’t turn into gremlins and we can move this tradition to a new location. Or, maybe we’ll return to this cozy tradition year after year. Either way I just hope they remember these first breakfasts as fondly as I remember mine.

What New Year traditions do you and your family celebrate?

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest. 

 

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5-simple-crafts-for-thanksgiving-day

Back in the day when I was just an auntie and had no children of my own, Thanksgiving seemed like such a warm and carefree holiday. I loved getting up early to get our feast started. I’d peel, boil and bake my way through hours of the early morning. I’d pass the time waiting for dinner with my nieces and nephews crafting, or head outside for a scavenger hunt. Our dinner arrived at the perfect temperature and in a fluid succession of flavors.

Today’s reality looks more like me running through the house in my pajamas trying to get everyone to settle down and leave me alone in my kitchen glory. I race through the side dishes listening to kids whining about how much they HATE sweet potatoes and nearly barf at the thought of eating gravy; in between complaints about how HUNgry they are. *sigh*

I remember one Thanksgiving when I was about five, my mom helped us craft a Native American headdress from construction paper, and no joke made EACH of us a vest out of a paper grocery bag WITH FRINGE.   My mom made fringe out of a paper bag for 4 kids (man I wish I had a picture of that!).  I think we’ll go a tad simpler this year.

5 (fringe free) super easy crafts to keep the kids entertained on turkey day:

PLACE CARDS

These do not need to be fancy. Using a simple index card folded in half, or a colorful piece of construction paper works too.  If your child can write, or is learning to write, make a list of names for them to copy onto each card. They can check off the names as they go and place the cards at each place setting.

For little ones who cannot write, making thumb print turkeys can be fun! You, or another adult, will have to work with your kiddo to dip one thumb in some paint and place it on a card. This does not have to be perfect, or even resemble a turkey. It just has to be fun and out of the kitchen area.

GRATITUDE CHAIN

We love making paper chains, and I bet you have all the supplies you already need. Use whatever paper you have on hand, colorful construction paper, plain white printer paper, it doesn’t matter. Cut the paper into strips and have each kid write something they are thankful for.  Start the chain by bending the strip into a circle and stapling, or taping the ends to close up the loop. Repeat until you have made a chain. Your kids will feel proud when you hang it up near the dinner table.

COVER YOUR TABLE IN ART

I love to put out a fancy table cloth for special meals. It just feels a little more special. But kids are messy and it can be stressful watching your nice things get destroyed. So we roll out brown packaging paper and let the kids create their own table “cloth.” They trace their hands and color in to look like turkeys, practice letter writing with holiday messages and drawing whatever comes to mind. Now if they spill I’m not so annoyed. The paper gets tossed in the recycling bin and there’s no mess for me!

PAPER BAG PUPPETS

Again, using whatever you have on hand works. Raid your pantry for small paper plates, or reuse paper shopping bags. Have kids cut out feathers to glue to the back of the bag, draw a face and now you have instant puppets.

ART KITS

If you read this post before dinner starts, there is no shame in buying a ready to use kit with all the supplies inside. Get out to the dollar store or Target and pick up those play packets with stickers, a coloring book and some crayons.

I set hubby and the kids up with the supplies, show them how to get started and I quietly float away to finish off the green beans. Whether you are hosting, or traveling to visit the in-laws your kids will enjoy getting to help make decorations for the feast. Having a little quiet time to think is one more reason to give thanks. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

You may also enjoy reading Friday Favorites- Kid’s Mini Travel Activity Pouch before you travel this holiday season.

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest. 

 

gift-553146_640When you grow up with a mom who has a shopping addiction and a mild case of hoarding you develop a skewed perception of stuff. My mom was one of the most generous people I knew. She definitely spoiled us, but at the same time, stuff started to take over our lives.

The Problem With Stuff

As a mom myself now, I want to get my children things they want, but at the same time I don’t want a massive amount of toys cluttering up the house. I’ve found that experience gifts are a perfect solution.

A Gift Worth Waiting For

My daughter has been asking to attend gymnastics classes for the last two years, but it just hasn’t been in our budget. So for her birthday I prepaid for six weeks of classes and presented her with a card explaining her gift. I also got her a leotard.

At first it felt weird not wrapping up a bunch of presents, but I knew I was getting her something that she really wanted. I had to focus on the quality of my gift rather than the quantity (or lack thereof). Just as I predicted, she was overjoyed. She had her first class last week and she kept telling me, “Mom, I love it!”

It also stirred up some nostalgia for me to see her up on that balance beam. That was my favorite when I was a gymnast. Watching her felt like I was passing my legacy on to her.

If you want an alternative to traditional gifts like toys, clothes, or books, here are five great reasons to give kids experience gifts.

1. Something To Look Forward To – After all the other gifts have been opened, played with a handful of times and pushed aside, an experience gift is still there, promising something fun and exciting is still waiting for them.

One of my favorite gifts my mother gave me when I was in high school was tickets to see Les Miserables in New York City. I had been listening to the soundtrack CD for months and when I finally got to see the play, it was amazing! I didn’t mind that I had to wait a few weeks for the play. If anything it felt like it extended my birthday.

2. Less Clutter – As I mentioned before, I really don’t like too many toys hanging around, especially when they aren’t being played with very often. Experience gifts like a special trip, art, dance or gymnastics classes won’t contribute to the clutter in your house.

3. Give Something That You Normally Couldn’t Afford– So many extracurricular activities are expensive. They certainly don’t fit into our tight budget, so we’ve had to be very selective about which activities my kids do. Since I would normally spend money on birthday presents, I was able to use that money to give my daughter something I normally couldn’t afford.

4. More Memories – How many of your toys do you really remember from your childhood? Maybe a handful if you’re lucky. No matter how much our children beg us for toys, they typically don’t occupy our children for long. Giving an experience gift gives children memories that will last them a lifetime.

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5. Quality Time – Experience gifts usually give parents or other family members quality time with the children. Whether it’s a trip to the zoo, an art class you take together or just watching them twirl around the floor at their dance class, what the giver receives is time. Time to watch your child really enjoying something, seeing them light up with excitement. Sure, maybe it’s hard to run them to classes on a weekly basis or to and from their favorite sport, but it’s also time that you get to spend with them.

Years from now, they’ll remember that you were there with them. Even if you were just in the background watching from the bleachers or sitting silently in the corner of the room, you’ll become part of those happy memories.

I can’t for the life of me tell you what badges I earned when I was in Girl Scouts, but I’ll never forget that my mom volunteered to be my troop leader. While it wasn’t a birthday or Christmas gift, her willingness to give me and the other girls her time every week is something I still think about proudly.

I would love to ditch a lot of my kids’ physical presents in favor of experience gifts. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get my husband on board for Christmas, but at least for birthdays it’s become a great alternative.

What experience gifts have you given your kids that they loved?

Erin Johnson a.k.a. The No Drama Mama is the author of “So, You’re Broke? 18 Drama-Free Steps To A Richer Life.” She can be found writing for The No Drama Mama and Hudson Valley Parent when she’s not busy caring for her three adorable kiddos. Her work can also be found on The Huffington Post, Money Saving Mom, Mamapedia and Worshipful Living.

 

Music PlaylistModern Mom

Ever catch yourself in the moment driving down an open road, wind whipping through your hair and music blaring? You are belting out a tune like you ARE the next American Idol? Maybe the lyrics are something like, “I took a pill in Ibiza…and when I finally got sober I felt ten years older.” Suddenly you remember the kids are in the car. Whoops! Personally, I can tune out the colorful lyrics as background noise and just get lost in a good beat. But my kids will hang on to every single word and ask me a million questions about what it all means.

My kids already listen to a variety of music genres, but there are some concepts I just don’t want them to soak in. Like club scenarios, gun violence and drug culture. Plus, there is only so many times I can listen to Daniel Tigers snappy little rhymes before I actually snap. So what are parents supposed to do? Where can we find kid friendly music that we can enjoy too? Well, I did a little research and here’s what I found:

CHECK YOUR OWN MUSIC LIBRARY

First, sort through your own collection. What do you already have that you enjoy listening to and the lyrics aren’t offensive? My current CD collection (yes I still actually use those) spans all different types of music like: Bob Marley, Barenaked Ladies, Dave Mathews, The Beatles, The Monkees, REM, Neil Diamond, Simon & Garfunkel and so much more. Pulling out my own favorite music to play helps to expand my kid’s musical taste, and keeps me from loosing my mind singing the ABC’s for the 4,000th time.

GOOGLE PLAY

The beauty of a Google Play radio station is that you can select a station that plays only children’s music. Everything is filtered and it is a mix of music adults can tolerate and kids will love. We especially love the Shake Your Sillies Out station.

PANDORA

Similar to Google Play in that you can select a specific genre, except you build your play list through a thumbs up rating system. Pandora’s music library is limited compared to Google so there is a greater chance of repeats and wearing out those familiar tunes quicker.

YOUTUBE MUSIC

You can select the music option in the sidebar menu and search for children’s music. This will pull up musical play lists lasting between 40-120 minutes. We especially like the Kids Party Music 2015 channel. It includes popular Disney favorites, popular oldies radio hits and songs adults are sure to recognize.

COMMON SENSE MEDIA

This website is a popular tool for parents to preview ratings for kid-friendly material for music, movies and video games. A quick search turned up an amazing list of parent approved albums recorded by recognizable artists. Each listing is categorized by age and subject matter, it also includes family talking points. Find bands like Barenaked Ladies, Andree 3000 from Outkast, The Verve Pipe, Jewel, Lou Rowels, Debbie Harry, Lisa Loeb, Issac Hayes, They Might Be Giants and even Def Leopard. Yes, Def Leopard made a kids album. Every song on this list is fun and it won’t leave you pining for grownup music! You can purchase directly from the site using an affiliate link and create a custom mixed CD.

SOUND TRACKS

Download the latest soundtrack to your kids favorite movie. The music is especially written to be catchy and appeal to the whole family. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve played my Aladdin CD over and over… totally for the kids. It’s a fun way to relive your treasured movie moments as a family. Don’t forget to include musicals in the line up. I can still sing a set of show tunes I learned when I was a kid. (Thanks mom!).

There are many other radio stations and music subscription services to choose from. These are just some of the ways we bring family-friendly music into our day. Music doesn’t have to be annoying and repetitive and only sung in tiny kid voices. Family music can come in all different genres and sounds. What’s on  your list favorites!?

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest. 

 

 

 

 

Better Gifts for Less Crap

Lately, I am feeling really bogged down by how much stuff we have. More specifically, how much stuff my kids have.  It seems I have become the keeper of the stuff as I am the only qualified person to manage the 10,000 pieces of art my kids create and find a home for the millions of stuffed lovies they bring home. I spend a lot of time purging and finding storage solutions for all their stuff.

I recycled literally 17 different character cups the girls received from different birthday parties last year. We don’t need that many cups for only two kids. Having more than one kid means coming home with double, or triple the stuff from birthday parties, street fairs, library events or anywhere the freebies are being handed out. Don’t people ever think of the poor parents who have to now schlep this stuff home and find a place to keep it? Blerg!

Having twins means I am doubly blessed, and doubly blessed by all the extra stuff they own. Birthday’s mean double the toys and gifts. This also means I will have to find homes for all of them. As soon as the novelty of new toys wears off they leave them sitting in a corner somewhere.

As I was purging all the little plastic toys and notebooks and left over favors from our toy bins and toys my kids have outgrown, it got me thinking about our own gift giving. If I am annoyed at getting all these “things” I have to take care of, surely other parents are annoyed when I give these things too right?

So, here is my Gift Giving Guide for Less Crap for Parents to Take Care Of! Consult this list before the next birthday party you attend and I promise everyone will think you are a gift giving pro!

  1. Buy a kid an experience. Pick up a gift certificate to a local craft store or a bouncy place, adventure park or ceramics studio. Kids can cash in their gift certificates for a day of fun with no tiny made in china plastic toys left over! Think about the places you visit often with your kids and buy them some time there.
  2. Make A CD. Seriously, go old school and make a hit-list of fun songs that you and your child will enjoy dancing and singing along to. It is travel friendly and requires very little space. Pop it into your car CD player, computer or play at home. Make a unique cover with their picture on it, or include a treasured photo.
  3. Get a gift certificate to the popular local ice cream shop. Most kids love getting ice cream any time of year and it saves the parents a couple of bucks when buying their kid a fun treat.
  4. Send them to the movies. Going to the movies requires a second mortgage for most families. Buying tickets for the birthday child means one less ticket a parent has to pay for. Add in some bonus bucks to cover a snack at the concession stand (totally optional). Treat your child to a date day at the movies.
  5. Get them museum tickets. Not a super fancy grown-up museum, but a children’s museum. Again, the birthday child will get hours of entertainment and fun memories without cluttering up an area of your house.
  6. Contribute to their favorite activity. Many families cannot afford to send their kids to places like the Little Gym, or a music for tot’s program. Purchasing a gift certificate, or contributing cash they can apply toward the tuition cost will be a great help to parents and kids will get months of enjoyment! (That’s longer than they’ll play with that brand new toy).
  7. If gift certificates feel too impersonal and you feel like you really need to buy something for the birthday child a gift basket with a theme is a great idea. If the child is really into art maybe some simple art supplies or a nice set of pencils. A movie night with a DVD and snacks. Make it something they can actually use.
  8. A personalized t-shirt they can wear. Kids grow out of clothes so quickly parents can hardly keep up. So extra outfits for birthdays and holidays goes a long way. Make a fun t-shirt with a picture of you with the birthday child, or maybe a silly saying on it. Personalizing it means it is truly one of a kind and no one else will give the same gift!
  9. Give them a coupon book for adventure. This is really great for your own kids, nieces and nephews or grandchildren. Life can get so busy and hectic that we forget to just stop and enjoy simply spending time with our loved ones. Create an adventure coupon book and set a date the child can cash in!
  10. Make a Memory. Have a favorite baby outfit or favorite sports jersey turned into a keepsake. Memory bears, or even a pillow or quilt they can grow up loving and take with them when they set out into the world is an amazing gift that will be treasured forever.
  11. Buy them a piece of the moon. You can purchase a small plot of “land” on the moon. Your child can hang the framed certificate of ownership on their bedroom wall.Or, you can have star named after them.
  12. Make a donation to an endangered species. Most kids have a favorite animal. If it falls into the endangered species category you can pay to adopt one of the animals. Or, you can make a donation in their name to a zoo that does have their favorite animal.
  13. Skip the gifts entirely. When my girls were babies we didn’t need much for them. They were more entertained by cardboard boxes than light up toys. So, we asked friends to please bring a gently used coat or snow suit their child has outgrown to donate to our local foster care department.

You may be worried there is nothing left “to show” for a birthday gift. I assure you a plastic toy has a limited lifetime of enjoyment, but the memories kids make out of an experience will last a lifetime. And parents will thank you for not giving them something extra to take care of.

 

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest. 

Related Articles: Give The Gift of Swag

Creating Unique Keepsakes at Boudoir Baby

Oh you haven’t heard of Micheal’s farm yet? Maybe that’s because it is nestled in a quiet little nook just between Saugerties and Woodstock. It is a private farm owned and operated by Tammy Drost, a woman with a big heart and a true love of animals and kids.

Michael’s Farm isn’t open to the public and visits are only available per request. Tammy typically responds to requests through the farm’s Facebook page. For a very small fee Tammy gives kids a tour of the farm pulling them along on a hay wagon ride and making stops to feed each group of animals.

Feeding animals at Michael's Farm

My girls and I have made several visits to the farm touring the menagerie of animals there. From Llamas to turkeys, donkeys and foxes, ponies and emu there is plenty to see (and feed). Almost every kid falls in love with the tiny poodle named Daisy. Daisy serves as the unofficial Mayor for the animals on the farm. She either rides along on the hay wagon or runs alongside amusing the kids watching her trying to keep up.

Every visit we make the girls ask, “are there any baby chicks?” And so far  there has been new baby animals to snuggle. This last visit we cuddled baby Arctic foxes AND chicks.

chicks on michaels farm

I have lost count of the number of visits we’ve made to the farm for birthday parties, meet ups with local moms and tours with our preschool. I have friends running local home school groups who meet at the farm a few times a year. It is truly a local gem and a family friendly place to spend time watching your kids bond with animals. All the animals are very social and ready to enjoy your company too.

If you come for a birthday party you are in for a real treat! Birthdays not only include a day of fun on the farm, they also include ice cream cupcakes made fresh on site. (These are more like little mini ice cream cakes). Tammy makes them herself along with individual pints of different flavors of ice cream.

cupcakes michaels farm

ice cream pints michael's farm

As if private tours, group gatherings, birthday parties and making ice cream isn’t enough to keep Tammy and her animals busy; she also runs Farm Camp in the summer and during school breaks. Kids spend five hours per day at the farm learning to care for the animals, make crafts and swim in the pool, or play in the creek. A great way for kids to spend their time outdoors in a safe, caring environment that will completely wear them out by bedtime.

Occasionally you can also find Tammy out with her mini pony and small petting zoo at local farmer’s markets and outdoor events. That’s where we first met Tammy and her pack. Now we look forward to visiting all of them on the farm as often as we can!!

If you want to know where to find this hyperlocal ice cream you can find pints for $4 each at Mountain View Market 322 Blue Mountain Rd. Saugerties and Vinnie’s Farm Market on Rt. 32 in Saugerties. Get flavors like chocolate caramel, vanilla fudge, raspberry, coconut, cherry, strawberry, chocolate chip and too many more to list!

 

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter.

 

HVP body art barn

This week I took a break from the kid stuff to focus on having some fun for myself. I grabbed a crew of my mom friends and hit the silks at a local Aerial Yoga class at The Body Art Barn in Blooming Grove, NY. We chose this adventure to celebrate a belated Galentine’s Day (traditionally celebrated on February 13th). What better way to celebrate friendship than cheering each other on through aerial feats?

We drove about an hour to our class and not one of us knew what to expect. A dear friend of mine is the instructor. I was excited to finally get the chance to participate. The class description on the website said all levels are welcome and “One does not need any experience in yoga, acrobatics or aerial dance to reap the benefits of this class.” However, we did find you do need a tiny bit of upper body strength. Thankfully, the instructors in the class are ready to help you through any pose you have difficulty with.

Entering the barn with its sensuous smell of oils and the warm, vibrant colors immediately puts me in a zen mood. When I signed us all up for this event I had zero reservations about it. That is until we arrived and I took off my shoes to stand in front of my yoga hammock (or silk). It was in that moment I questioned my own sanity and ability to do this. Note the look of panic on my face:

The Whatever Mom (10)

It was too late to turn back now, so I had to buck up and get through the class as best I could. At one point I did get stuck upside down and was the only one swinging out of control. I was instructed how to slow down and get myself out of the fabric. It was kind of cool to feel like I was flying for a bit. I will add that I got myself out with a small amount of gracefulness.

This is not your typical yoga class. No one is quiet, there is a lot of chatting as you get into the poses. As a first timer I was thankful no one else in the class was paying attention to me. We were all too busy trying to stay upright in the silks and over thinking our next steps. This was definitely outside of my comfort zone. But, that was the fun part! Challenging myself to do something new! My day as a mom can feel mundane and routine. It was exciting to do something well outside of my “usual.”

The Whatever Mom (11)

My favorite part of the whole class was at the very end (not because it was over). We opened up the hammocks to lie down inside. The lights were off and we could hear the Beatles “Let It Be” playing. It was time to relax in our little cocoon suspended in the air. It was really relaxing to snuggle into the fabric and just breathe. When class was over I felt energized and comfortably stretched.

The Whatever Mom (8)

I worried my friends would think I was out of my mind for making them take this class. But, we all agree we would take another class in a heartbeat! Not only were our instructors awesome, but the class was not nearly as challenging as we first thought. It was definitely scary in the beginning because it was so new. But, by the end of the class we felt accomplished! If this group of moms can survive this class, so can you!

The Whatever Mom (9)

This one hour and 15 minute class is only $20 to drop in and try it out for yourself. You can register for a class online through The Body Art Barn website. This class was super fun, but I would love to go back with a group again for a Henna and Yoga party. For $30 per person you get an hour on the silks and henna tattoos by Michelle and Debra dubbed “The Henna Chicks.” You can find more info on the website or find them on Facebook.  If you have a kid interested in learning to flip and fly check out the Circus Camp being offered during Spring break! You won’t regret any classes here!

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here.

Family Game Night

When I am not crafting, dancing and looking for adventures with my kids we love our weekly game nights. It gives us time to blow off steam at the end of the week and spend time together as a family. Our game nights get us through the darkness of winter and we can end our week on a high note.

Friday night is our traditional DIY pizza night. A family movie night seemed like a natural fit with our pizza, but we like to mix it up with a game night.  Plus, game night can help burn off that extra energy my kids have before bed. Our favorite games range from the silly like Pie Face, to the educational like Boggle (spelling) and Uno Attack (color and number recognition).

Playing board games can help little kids learn patience, how to take turns and understand social interactions. Learning to lose gracefully and with kindness is a necessary life lesson. It is also a great way for kids to practice using manners by using “Please” and “Thank You.” And, it’s just fun!

How to host your own family game night:

Pick a game. It doesn’t have to be a board game, it just has to be a game that your kids want to play. Card games, matching games, memory games and even a game of Twister gets the kids interacting and having fun. Who doesn’t love a good game of Twister?

Decide what to wear. A dress code isn’t necessary. But, we like to hold our game nights in our comfy pajamas or cozy pants. Life just seems less stressful when you are wearing a nice soft pair of pants you can move in. Am I right?

Create a play list. We have our favorite background tunes playing while we compete to beat (kind of a competitive family). Music sets the tone and gives our night a party feel.

Grab some snacks. The most essential part of game night is the snacks! You need good munchies to keep you all powered up to compete. We like to make our own party mix.  We start with popcorn and stir in our favorite add-ins: chocolate chips, M&Ms, pretzels, banana chips, nuts, Goldfish crackers, etc.

Grab a beverage. Mom and dad may feel ready for an adult style beverage by Friday night, but what about a fun family friendly “mocktail?” A Shirley Temple (made with ginger ale or lemon lime soda) or an Arnold Palmer (lemonade and iced tea) are fun to make. Serve them up in fun glasses or party cups.

Grab the camera. We always have a camera on hand to capture the crazy and often zany things my kids do during game night. Sometimes a dance party breaks out in the middle of a game (thanks to our playlist) and we just gotta dance. I don’t want to miss out on those memories.

Whether you choose low key or action packed games to play, a family game night is designed to be fun.  Make it your own night to be together, or share in the fun with another family. Inviting friends to share game night means double the laughs and guarantees warm memories.

Do you have a family game night? What’s your favorite game to play?

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here.

 

NYE

 

The elves have all packed up and returned to the North Pole. Santa has retired to the Caribbean for a much deserved vacation. So, what’s left for the New Year holiday? As a parent with really little ones you may be wondering the same. Here are some really fun ways to usher in the New Year with your kiddos.

First let me note that if your little one cannot stay up until til midnight because they will turn into Gremlins, that’s OK. You can celebrate the countdown to bed time! (Which isn’t that how most of us get through each day)?

Annual Interview– I love this one! You can find an interview on Pinterest, by searching Google, or make up your own. I like to use the same questions each year to see how the answers change. Include things like who are your favorite friends, favorite foods, colors, activities, etc. Have them sign their names and pack away to read next year.

Family Game Night– put out the snacks, turn off the TV and pull out those board games. Play the hours away until bedtime! Wish each other a happy new year as you tuck in your little ones.

Scavenger Hunt– using index cards, number them 1-10. Hide the cards throughout the house and let the kids find them. Help them count backward from 10 and end the countdown with hugs and kisses.

Count Down with Kisses– when my girls were just babies, I’d give them a countdown of kisses on their chubby little cheeks as I tucked them in at night. They were too little to understand the whole concept of the year change. But, they could understand how much I love them and my affection is free.

Family Movie Night– pull out the videos you’ve taken through the years, or just in 2015. If you can, play them on the TV and relive the highlights of the year. Snuggle in with blankets and popcorn! Create your own list of best family moments in 2015.

Create a Memory Book– pull out your favorite photos from the year and create a fun scrap book. If all your photos are digital create a fun file of your favorites so you can upload to a site to print out, or create a year book using online sites like Shutterfly, Snapfish, etc.

Write a Wish List– your kids have spent the whole year wishing for new things to arrive on Christmas. Why not have them write wishes for the New Year, not for themselves, but for each other? Everyone in the family can write out their wishes on paper and take turns reading them allowed. Seal them in an envelope and mark “Do Not Open Until December 31st 2016.” It will be fun to read everyone’s wishes at the end of the year.

Having little ones to celebrate the New Year holiday with has definitely changed the way we celebrate as a couple. We no longer go out to dinners, and parties, but I wouldn’t change that. Celebrating the count down before bed time and putting the kids to bed at their regular hour gives hubby and me time to be alone and ring in the New Year together. It’s a very low key (and cheap) way for us to spend time together and celebrate as a family.

How do you ring in the New Year with your little ones?

 

The Whatever Mom is a full time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here.

Keeping the Kids

Whether you are traveling or staying home, keep this list handy! Thanksgiving day can be a long day for little ones. Adults have so much to do to prepare for that kids can feel left out. Watching TV is a great way to keep the kids corralled in another room and away from the kitchen, but really little ones can often get bored by TV, or other electronics. If you are looking for ways to keep your cuties entertained through out the day and at dinner time I’ve assembled a list of our favorite funtastic activities and free printables:

Preschool kids will love this fun little Thanksgiving activities pack from RoyalBaloo.com.  We love it so much we bring it out every year! Print out before traveling and bring it along, or if you are hosting be sure to have several printed copies on hand. Leave them out at the kids table with some crayons and extra paper and let the kids play!

Print out a game of Turkey Bingo for the kids table! This is great for all ages! Maybe it will even buy you enough time to drink a full glass of wine! Here is a cute Bingo game download from Crazy Little Projects blog.

Print out a free Thanksgiving place mat the kids can color! This is a cute one from Sister’s Suitcase.

Kids will LOVE making these adorable turkey thumb print place cards and setting them at everyone’s seat! Get the step by step instructions from The Charmed Mom.

Let the kids help make a dessert. Set up your own cookie or cupcake bar where kids can frost and sprinkle their own treats. They can make their own festive creations and feel like part of the big celebration. These acorn cookies are simple and sweet!

For the toddlers bring out the bubbles, the play dough, the blocks and the cardboard boxes! They really want nothing more than to spend time playing! Whatever age group you have to entertain- I hope these suggestions help!

I hope you enjoy all of the festivities today! I am so thankful to all of you for following along each week! Happy Thanksgiving and wishing you always have enough!

Love,

The Whatever Mom

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