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UNION

With the warmer temps beginning this week I am looking forward to getting outside! However, it can be a challenge to get my kids outside. Once they are outside they will play, but I typically have to set the stage for them first. As a mom I am totally baffled by this. When I was a kid you could not keep me inside the house. I was happiest sitting outside under a big tree watching the clouds going by, or racing up and down the neighborhood street. Not sure how I ended up with two kids who need to be prompted to be outside.

I have discovered if I set a craft up outside they are more motivated to join me in the back yard and will likely stay outside longer. It can be a simple craft, or an entire project, but it helps transition to spending time outside.

By now you all know the benefits to getting kids outside. But just in case, here are 5 more reasons:

  1. Kids who interact with nature tend to engage their imaginations more and invent their own games. This involves critical thinking and observation of what’s in their environment.
  2. When kids are more physically active they are building gross motor and fine motor skills.
  3. Kids who spend time outside more tend to develop a lifelong love of nature and see the need to preserve it.
  4. Kids tend to develop more visual and spacial skills when learning to navigate natural environments.
  5. Anyone who spends time outside feels less stressed.

You may have heard the benefits of kids crafting. I like to be thorough so again, here are 5 more benefits:

  1. Crafting benefits executive functioning. Having to plan a project or craft and lining up each step helps kids with focus and memory skills.
  2. Develops fine motor skills. This helps with handwriting and coordination.
  3. Helps kids recognize patterns and sequence recognition.
  4. Crafting builds on long term academic skills like math and reading.
  5. Teaches social interactions like learning to share and use manners when sharing.

Why not combine these benefits and craft outside? The bonus is you can make a mess outside and not worry about having to clean it up right away, or any of the materials staining your nice dining set.

Outside crafts to do with your kids

If you are tired of the old standby of bubbles and sidewalk chalk try these 5 things to amp up your outdoor craft time.

Make colorful bubble art. Simply pour some bubble mix into a shallow bowl and add food coloring. Mix well and use the bubble wand to soak up the mixture. Blow bubbles right in front of the paper or canvas to be sure they land and splatter on the surface. This will make a really unique print for your house. Or turn the paper into personalized stationary.

Paint some rocks. You can paint rocks to add some color to your back yard, or create a fun tick tack toe set by painting three similar rocks to look like lady bugs, and another three rocks a solid color. If you really want to make a fun project sign up to paint some Kindness Rocks to leave around your community, or for friends and family to find in your back yard.

Make your own fossils. This was fun when we did it with cookie dough, now I can’t wait to try it with baker’s clay. Simply roll a small piece of dough into a ball and press flat between your hands. Then press a leaf, or pine cone, or blades of grass into the clay to create a fossil imprint.

Design a paint brush from nature. Simply dip flowers into paint and press flat against your paper to make a pretty print. You can also dip leaves, feathers, a bundle of pine needles or stems into paint and use them like a paint brush.

Re-imagine your water table. When my kids were really little we used the water table for more than just water fun. We filled it with things like shaving cream, a bubble bath for dinosaurs and cornstarch with water (it creates a really fun solid that melts into your hand).

Crafting outside has long term benefits for kids, and the combined benefits create life long skills sets. You don’t need to wait for summer vacation to give any of these ideas a try. As soon as the weather is nice enough to be outside skip the chalk and do something a little different! Your kids will always remember the fun you have together, no matter the craft.

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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The month of September is designated as Pediatric Cancer Awareness month which is a cause very near and dear to my heart. My niece is a 14 year cancer survivor and I saw first hand just how deeply this disease effected her and my entire family. To honor her and the many thousands of children fighting today we #gogold every September.

We also pick a childhood cancer charity to support and raise funds for. This will be our third year supporting the Miles for Mac Charity 5K Run/Walk. The event takes place in Dutchess County, and is scheduled for Saturday, October 8th – 10AM Mill Road Elementary School Red Hook, NY.

Besides the 5K portion of the day, families can expect to find food trucks, raffles and fun photo ops. Since it takes place at an elementary school there are several playgrounds for kids to enjoy. Everyone is encouraged to participate in their favorite Halloween costume in honor of Mac. In fact, there are awards given for best costume! With a touch-a-truck, DJ, face painting and games there is a little something for everyone.

miles-for-mac

Even though we participate in the many fun things offered at this event, the reason behind it is heartbreaking. For the last two years teams have gathered to run or walk the event in honor of a little boy named MacAlister, also known as “Mac” to family and friends. Mac was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma (an aggressive cancer) at age 16 months after his parents noticed some unusual patterns in his sleep and moods. At a very tender age he endured several surgeries, 14 rounds of chemo, radiation, and clinical drug trials. This beautiful little boy named Mac battled for eight months before he passed away at age two.

mac-coat

His mothers Emily and Lyndsey, along with their community, honor Mac’s short life each year at this Run/Walk and family fun day. They also work hard to raise awareness about Neuroblastoma and much needed funds for Neuroblastoma research. In just two years, Mac’s family and friends have donated over $30,000 to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

macs-moms

Pediatric cancer research receives less than 4% of the billions of dollars dedicated to cancer research each year. The chemo therapies used are not designed for small children and are at least thirty years old. There are long term effects such as learning disabilities, infertility, weakened immune systems, heart defects, and skeletal defects- these only top the list. So if a child survives cancer there is no guarantee they won’t relapse, or face permanent health issues for life. Research teams need funding to develop less invasive drug treatments and therapies, to discover ways to increase quality of life after treatment and obviously, a cure.

You can register your family to participate in the 5K event, or make a donation directly online. You don’t need to do the run/walk portion of the event. You can make a donation online before you arrive and enjoy the family friendly festivities. There will be a chance to purchase raffle tickets for items provided by local merchants. Every dollar taken in through this event is sent directly to research. There is no overhead or salaries taken from the money raised by this event. Donations are tax deductible and you can request a letter to document your donation.

Donating locally ensures you are helping local families. Donating to cancer research ensures you are helping find a cure for everyone. Get all the updates about the event and find a listing of raffle items by following along on the events Facebook page.

You can register for the event but clicking here.

To learn more about Neuroblastoma click here.

To learn how you can be a voice for pediatric cancer, watch this video and sign the petition at the end:

 

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. 

At the beginning of summer I shared with all of you a list of cool places to get free fun mail for your kids. I hope you and the kids are enjoying all your fun freebies. I know we are! In fact one fun package in particular helped inspire our seed bomb project.

I signed us up to receive a free packet of pollinator wildflower seeds at feedabee.com. Wildflowers attract bees and help feed the population of pollinating insects. You can read more about why this is important by clicking here. Our little packet of about 200 seeds will cover approximately 10 sq. feet. Now we could easily toss these seeds around the back yard and wait, or we could launch them with a sling shot. Why not?

I was flipping through the pages of one of our new kid magazines when I found this unique little project. It is perfect for kids age 6 or older. In just a few simple steps you can create a handful of seed bombs to toss out into the yard, or while out on a hike.

seed bombs materials 1

Materials:

4 pages of construction paper

1 packet of pollinator wildflower seed mix

1/2 cup of warm water per sheet of paper

Kitchen Blender

seed bomb tears 1

Start by tearing each sheet of paper into tiny pieces and place in separate bowls. Next, pour 1/2 cup of warm water over the pieces. Allow paper to soak for 5 minutes before running through the blender.

seed bomb strainer 1

Pour mixture into  strainer and squish the paper with the back of a spoon to get most of the liquid out. You want the paper to be pasty, but not completely dry. Discard water and put paper pulp into bowl and add a palm sized amount of seeds. Roll into 1/2 inch sized balls and place on wax paper to dry.

According to my kids the straining step is the most, “boring part” of the project. If you have kids always in a hurry to move on to the next step, perhaps offering a wildflower coloring page, or a list of facts about honey bees to read, will help them while they wait.

seed bombs 1

Allow your finished product to sit for 48 hours to dry completely. While the bombs dry you can help your kiddos create a sling shot if you don’t already have one. You can find a Y shaped stick in the yard and place a rubber band around the branches. Viola! Instant launcher!

Tips:

  • The recipe I found makes more bombs. I cut it in half to accommodate our limited supplies, so we only have six seed bombs to distribute. Which is perfectly even for two kids always assuring me, “she got more than me!” Using three sheets of paper and one seed packet yields approximately two bombs per page.
  • You may need to add just a bit more water to the blender when whirling the paper. This will keep the paper from bunching up around the blade. If you add a little too much water that’s OK, you will remove all the extra in the straining step.

When you are ready to launch, find a nice open plain field to fling the bombs into. Maybe a nice open space in your yard, or take a hike and launch into a flowerless area of a field. The bees will thank you for it!

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. 

 

 

 

Tucked away on a tiny lot which you probably pass every time you make your way through the village of Catskill, is the Catamount. This kooky little people’s museum is fun for all ages. It is quite unique and if you pass by too quickly you will miss it. It sits just above street level and blends right into the greenery and the remains of an old brick foundation. The Catamount is completely hand built and the brain child of local artist Matt Bua. You can read Matt’s blog to see conceptual sketches, ideas and events held at the museum.

Catamount

What makes this museum truly unique is that it is a “people’s museum.” All the exhibits inside the belly of the bobcat are donated by members of the community, strangers stopping by and local historical organizations. You will find maps, water color paintings, a carved wooden cat puppet, newspaper articles and much more. Even you are welcome to leave behind a little work of art, a map, or a note. Have fun signing the guest book and looking through to see how far people travel to visit.

Catamount 1

Catamount 2

Catamount 3

The bobcat was installed in 2010 and it was only supposed to stay for one year. But this heart warming feline has grown on the city of cats and folks here have let it stay. Would you believe I drove passed this spot for a year to schlep my kids to preschool and I never noticed the 15 foot cat?!

We found out about this amazing little place through the Follow That Book program at the Catskill Public Library. Librarians Miss Jennifer and Miss Crystal put together a wonderful tour and story time. My girls even enjoyed a game of ping pong using a wooden plank for a paddle. Why not? The entire Catamount is made out of recycled and found objects. Even the eyes are made from old plates and light bulbs. At night you can see them glowing. So it is only fitting we used planks of wood we foud lying around to create our paddles.

Between ping pong and story time we enjoyed a lovely picnic inside the bobcat. Then it was time to chat with the artist himself. He was really great with helping the kids build their own sculpture from found objects. He let the kids take total control of the project and simply guided them with, “where do you feel that piece belongs?” It was educational, interesting and different than your usual story time.

Tips if you plan to visit: Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy at the table inside the museum, or spread out a blanket on the grass nearby.

Bring plenty of bug spray. Even though it is a small lot it is quite lush with greenery.

Be sure to stop by Coney Island just up the street (walking distance) for ice cream and fun kiddie rides. Take your picture with the tiny Statue of Liberty.

Bring a camera!

Bring a small piece of history or your own hand crafted artwork to leave behind.

If you just can’t get enough cats in your visit, be sure to find parking on Main Street and take the walking tour of painted cats. You can find a map at the Greene County Arts Council, or just walk on your own. If you stop by the arts council check out the latest exhibits!

Check out the secret gardens planted between buildings on Main St.

Cool off at the library in the kids books section and pick up your calendar for Follow That Book.

Stop for lunch at Village Pizza or the Garden Gate Deli. Both places are kid friendly, affordable and really yummy!

For a really small village there sure is a lot of free art to see and fun things to find! The girls and I truly enjoyed the day. We can’t wait to make a trip back to leave behind our own piece of history.

 painted catsPainted cat 2painted cat 3

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. 

 

 

Many homeschool families don’t follow a typical school year schedule, but instead learn throughout the year.  They schedule breaks around holidays, vacations, and whatever works best for the family.  Others do follow a more traditional schedule and take a summer break, but might continue certain subjects as a way to either get ahead or address a remedial subject.  Whether your family homeschools or not, there are lots of fun ways to keep skills sharp over the summer.  There’s a real phenomenon called summer learning loss; due to the extended break, math and reading skills slip so far back that the beginning of the school year is spent relearning lost skills rather than progressing forward.  On the flip side, summer is a time for fun, friends and family, outdoor time, and relaxing.  No need to sit the kids down with a stack of workbooks and force them to miss out on those lazy days.  Instead, there are ways to integrate learning into life, and make it fun for the whole family.

Waterfall

Get Outside

Incredible learning takes place outside.  Pick berries and notice all the kinds of produce grown locally.  Take a hike or go to the beach, and observe birds and wildlife, collect leaves or shells to to look up at home, watch how a caterpillar or crab explores the ground, take note of the various kinds of rocks, watch the different kinds of clouds roll by, collect some ocean or stream water to look at under a microscope.  One thing that my family has begun doing is nature journaling,  Take a notebook, pencil, good eraser, maybe some colored pencils. Go to a loved spot- your backyard, Grandma’s yard, a favorite hike or park, the beach, poolside, wherever, and spend some quiet time there. Encourage your child to consider- what do you see, hear, feel? What does being in this spot make you think about? Are you inspired to draw a picture of something, describe it, write a poem, or just jot down some thoughts or feelings?  To make this fun, bring along your own notebook and join your child in this activity, so that it’s more about nature appreciation and less about work.

Watch a Movie

Those rainy afternoons, lazy evenings after a day of playing in the sun, or sick days are good for something– cuddle up on the couch with a movie!  Instead of parking the kids in front of another mindless kids’ movie, sit down and join them for something of quality.  An old film, a classic musical, a documentary, it doesn’t matter what.  We find it fun to watch movies based on favorite books, and discuss the differences.  Watch a movie and then look for literary elements like foreshadowing.  Analyze what the character is going through– how did he overcome hardship, go on an emotional journey, develop bravery or courage?  My kids love acting out scenes after they’ve fallen in love with a movie, which often leads to imaginative play, drawing, and skits.

Create!

Possibilities are limitless here.  Give the kids of bag of craft supplies and let them go wild, or make a fort out of blankets and pillows, or build a village out of milk cartons and cardboard boxes.  Make a model car, sew a pillow, concoct your own clay or bubbles, build a robot! It can be fun to tap into ideas online such as Pinterest or how-to YouTube videos, but it can be just as worthwhile to let little ones use their own imagination.

Read, read, read

Reading is one crucial skill that should be nurtured year-r0und, and a parent’s attitude and encouragement can make all of the difference. Some kids read willingly, whereas others need a little push.  Sign up for your library’s summer reading program, through which kids can earn prizes and get excited about setting goals.  Go to the library at least once a week.  Let your child pick out books, peruse the “new books” section, and even slip in a few that you think would be interesting.   A variety is great here– some fiction books, mixed in with a book on one of the topics sparked during your outside time, combined with an interesting non-fiction book about a place you might travel to, or your heritage, or animals.  Have family reading time on a rainy day, get in bed a little early after a day outside and let the kids relax and read, or read aloud on a car trip to visit family or friends.

zoo

Follow Their Interests

Was there something that really piqued your child’s interest during the year? Maybe learning about pyramids, the snake that served as the classroom pet, the Revolutionary War, or a really cool Picasso painting studied in art.  Use this time as a laid-back way to find out more. Library books, a documentary found online, or day trip to a museum or zoo are all ways to nurture learning in an organic way that will be fun and not forced.  There are so many local community resources, such as museums, festivals, and parks that can be enjoyed as you broaden your child’s mind.

Let Your Child Be an Apprentice

Take advantage of your child’s time at home to teach them some useful skills. Bring them into the kitchen to help bake muffins (fractions! math!), take part in a home improvement project, wash the car, work in the garden, follow Grandma/Grandpa/Uncle/Older cousin around and learn how to do something worthwhile.  We make it a point to never do any kind of a project at home without having one of the kids help, whether it’s changing batteries in the smoke detector or the windshield wipers.

Free Time

Most importantly, summer is a time to decompress, bond with family and friends, and relax.  Try not to schedule too many engagements, even fun, social get-togethers and day trips, and instead allow for blocks of laid-back, unscheduled time.  Free time and even boredom lead to opportunities for creativity, self-discovery, and recharging. An afternoon at the pool or lake, digging in the sand, splashing in the water,  and giggling with friends is every bit as worthwhile as any worksheet or chore your child could ever do.  A stack of board games or playing cards can create precious memories, as can the opportunity to make your own jam, read to a baby cousin, or create a fairy castle out of old boxes, scraps of fabric, and paint.

Activities don’t have to be exhausting, costly, or time-consuming.  Simple, wholesome, sweet summer experiences make the best memories, and will give your kids something to share when asked to talk or write about “My Summer Vacation.”  Share your favorite downtime activities with our readers in the comments below.  Welcome, summer!

Summer-camp season is upon us which means lots of kids putting their heads together in hot-weather activities. Time to step up measures to prevent the transmission of head lice. This spray has been working very well for us for the past few years, I’m happy to say. It’s easy to make and use, and the essential oils have many benefits for your child’s overall health.

the story from the lens

At the beginning of every summer I try to round up a few new places to visit with the kids. Now that my kids are getting older they are outgrowing some of the play spaces  we used to visit. One thing that hasn’t changed is their desire to explore.

Last month our family signed up for a free Healthy Ulster Membership at the Mohonk Preserve. The Visitor Center Trailhead is located at 3197 State Route 55, Gardiner, NY. While we were there we were encouraged to explore the visitor center which includes an interactive children’s corner. And by corner I mean an area too small for a crowd, or big group. But it is perfect for a handful of friends to gather for play.

Here is what we found during our exploration:

Interactive Exhibits

When you enter the center you are on the upper level. There are interactive exhibits where kids can learn about the land within the Mohonk preserve, the animals they can find and the Geoexchange system running the center. Your toddler won’t understand a whole lot of this information, but they will love getting to push the buttons and using the swipe screen to get to the next slide of information while your older child interacts on their own.

There are amazing views all around so be sure to simply take a moment to enjoy looking out the large windows at the surrounding landscape.

Children’s Corner

After you make your way through the upper level take the stairs down to the children’s corner. There is something there for kids of any young age. There are books, games and puzzles about nature. There are a few live animals to see and kids can unearth animal bones. You can even borrow a nature exploration kit and wander through the Children’s Forest right outside the center.

VC-Kids-Corner

HVP kids corner

Sensory Trail

This is a paved trail that is perfect for strollers and for toddlers learning to walk. Simply follow the path and allow your little ones to explore the artwork, butterfly gardens and views along the way. The paved path leads into the Children’s Forest where there are fun things to play with. We found a tee pee style hut made with sticks and a whole lot of natural things to keep our exploration thinking caps busy. Allow your kid to be your guide and follow along at their pace. You will be amazed by the amount of questions they begin asking.

HVP childrens forest

What got my kids the MOST excited? The little animal nook tucked away under the stairs in the children’s corner. Beyond these doors is a hidden little room where kids can sit with the many stuffed creatures and use their playtime imaginations. Moms can sit quietly on a bench and feed babies, or chat with another mom.

HVP animal nook

HVP kid corner 2

The visitor center is open 9 am – 5 pm daily (except holidays) all year. It is free to explore the children’s corner and the sensory trail just outside which leads to the children’s forest. Pack a snack and invite a friend for an easy morning of play, or bring your lunch for an afternoon of pint sized fun! For more information click here.

Even though my kids are no longer toddlers we enjoyed this day out together. I wish I knew about it when my kids were little and we needed a safe place to explore. It’s a great place to wear out little ones with play time adventures before nap. Older kids (I’d say up to age 8) can enjoy the activities here as well. A great little stop for moms of kids with toddlers or mixed ages.

 

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.

crafty collage

It is simply amazing the amount of pre-made craft kits available for kids today! I know I date myself when I say this, “in my day we had to make everything ourselves!” But it’s true!

Every holiday we made our own decorations; we recycled all our egg cartons and milk cartons into something new. We made our own candles by melting our broken crayons and we always made our crafts from scratch.

We live in a modern, prepackaged world and I am not going to lie, I often enjoy it! Sometimes taking out all the extra steps to a project really helps a mom actually enjoy making things with her kids. When the girls turned 5 back in the fall I asked for what else? Craft kits! They got so many crafty things to make I tucked a bunch away to bring out through the year.

Who knew you could buy a paint your own rock kit, right? Don’t you just find some rocks lying around outside to paint? Well, I am grateful to the person who bought this kit because it saved me a lot of rock hunting time and it was fun. The kit came with everything we need including tattoos!

rock kit

rock tattoo

How cute is this? You simply place the tattoo over the rock and run under water to get the outline to stick. Then you let it dry for a few minutes before painting. Let the kids go to town and make each little pet their own. I love that googly eyes come in the kit!

This is one of those projects that can take a few minutes or a whole hour. It depends on your kids skill and interest level. My kids didn’t want to color every individual section. A turtle should be green and in one swipe of the brush. Now might be a good time to point out that you should lower any expectations that your project will look anything like the picture on the box. Those pics are merely “suggestions” to have someone else make them if you want them to look perfect. 😉

rock box

This was a great activity to take outside on a sunny day. I’m a big fan of painting outside to keep the mess contained and away from my dining room table. We let the paint dry in the sun before decorating different parts of the yard with them.

rock tattoed

rock outdoor

You can find craft kits like this anywhere: Walmart, Target, Khol’s and Five Below to name a few places to look.

Do you craft from scratch, or buy a kit?

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.

autism header

I want to share with you one of my family’s favorite events to attend every year: The Autism Walk & Expo of the Hudson Valley. We look forward to heading to the Dutchess County Fairgrounds every April for this event! This walk event is super family friendly and it is the biggest annual fundraising event for our local chapter of the Autism Society of America.

I confess this event was one of my favorites before I had kids. I was a board member and the marketing chair for Autism Society Hudson Valley for nearly seven years. I left when I was pregnant with my twins (five years ago, yikes!). But, my heart never let go!

set up

For seven years in a row I helped with all the behind the scenes support to make this event happen. I handled print media, gathered donations, procured the entertainment, stuffed goody bags and set up signs the night before. I loved every second of it. But, you know one thing I didn’t get to do each of those years? Actually participate in the awesome activities happening at the event!

My kids weren’t even a year old when we took them to their first walk event. I remember pushing our giant red, double stroller through the grass and taking everything in for the first time. It is truly an amazing event where families with children living with autism can find support. No one is judging you if your kid can’t be near the loud DJ, or they are having a meltdown because they are over stimulated. In fact, almost every parent attending understands “over stimulated.”

Drums at walk

I may be a tad biased with my past experience, but let me tell you why this is my families favorite event of the year. Not only do my kids have a great time banging on drums, petting the Llamas and jumping in the big bouncy houses, but we get to help a lot of local families who are in need of services and advocacy.

Ribbon cutting

The walk portion of this event is the most important part. Most of the funds raised by registration fees stay right here in the Hudson valley serving our local families. (A small portion goes toward autism research). To register as a team, or as an individual you can download registration form below, or stop by the registration tent upon entering the fairgrounds.

2.29.16 Walk Reg

Autism Society Hudson Valley provides grants for persons with the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), or a parent, a professional or caregiver working with a person with ASD. Grants can be used for a variety of reasons; including but not limited to, health & safety concerns, therapies, social skills classes or recreational activities. (These grants WILL NOT cover daily living expenses or household bills). For more details you can download the grant application form below. The Autism Society Hudson Valley also brings guest speakers and conferences locally for parents and educators.

2014-15Universal_ApplicationGrantPDF (1)

The Expo portion gathers local service agencies under one big info tent. This makes it convenient for parents to walk through and pick up information about an agency, or talk with an employee representative. To keep the kiddos entertained there is usually a bouncy house, sand art, drum time, karate demonstrations and a little fair with activities. Specific activities may change each year, but there is usually plenty of fun for everyone!

This event takes place rain or shine, so be prepared to bring appropriate gear. You can always duck into the grand stands if necessary. The walk happens along the track and strollers are allowed, but no skate boards, bikes or scooters. Food for purchase is available, but breakfast is typically served in the morning at no charge and a few snacks and bottled water is available too. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. with opening ceremonies at 10 a.m. You won’t want to miss the traditional ribbon cutting ceremony and countdown to walk start! Walk begins at 10:30 a.m. It is a 1-2 mile walk around the track.

As you take your lap around the track, be sure to take a moment and look behind you. Experiencing that sea of compassionate walkers and volunteers moving together to make a positive change for families living with autism is breath taking. I guarantee you will need a Kleenex!

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.

 

Today I registered my twins for Kindergarten. It was easier than I thought, especially when I saw their excitement. I think I was mostly nervous about how they would respond. I imagined them kicking and screaming that they wouldn’t want to go. Thankfully, no protest and they charmed everyone with their smiles and enthusiasm. After all the paper work was signed and handed over we went home for a snack.

It was such a beautiful day outside that I couldn’t bear the thought of staying inside for the rest of the day. So, we ate our lunch on our deck and played on the swings. My daughters began creating letters with sticks and acorns and pieces of nature they found. We spelled out our names and it was really cool to see them get so excited about it. Great way to practice our spelling!

March 2015 001

Both girls have expressed an interest in learning to use my camera lately. I just have a simple point and shoot, nothing fancy. But, it’s enough to pique their interest. So, I pulled out my ancient digital ELF camera for them to use. It still uses the same SD card as my current camera, but if they dropped the old one I wasn’t going to freak out.

Surprisingly, my girls had interest in taking pics of tree bark and grass to compare the textures and colors. They both enjoyed taking their own pictures of the art work they created. They moved the sticks around to make different shapes and designs before snapping another pic. It was fun to watch them just enjoy this process.

March 2015 005

So, what does this have to do with registering for Kindergarten? Well, I started to remember all the fun we’ve had in the back yard the last five years. From the first time I put them in their baby swings, to watching them kick a ball and running through play dates, to today; where they are now emulating me and my love of taking pictures.

We have spent a lot of time in this back yard creating art and sharing it with all of you. It has been such a wonderful time for us. So, here is a look back at some of our outdoor art experiences.

Acorn Jewels:

Finished jewels. Display among other gems, or alone in a basket, on a tray.

Materials:

  • Acorn tops (must be dry, clean and free from cracks)
  • Markers
  • Elmer’s Glue
  • Gems, or stones
  • Tray

Start with a layer of rocks, or gems on your tray. These will secure acorn tops in place. Next, color the inside of the tops with a marker. It will look rough, but that’s OK! 

Color in the acorn caps with favorite color markers. Then pour Elmer’s school glue into each top and fill to the rim. Leave over night to dry and you won’t believe the effect!

Backyard Pirate Adventure:

Final maps

Connecting Art With Nature: Drawing outside.

Kids using pastels

Creating an Outdoor Mud Kitchen

Mud kitchen 003

The mud kitchen has to be our favorite. My kids have routed around in that box of dirt since they were able to walk and reach over the side. I wanted to make this a planter box to enjoy some colorful perennials, or maybe some veggies. But, they love to dig in the dirt.

Thanks for taking this trip down memory lane with me. I hope I’ve inspired you to get outside and get creative! Spring is almost here bringing plenty of days to make some warm sunny art.

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.

 

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