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We encourage everyone in our family to keep moving even if it means just getting on the treadmill for 20 minutes. It’s so much easier to get kids moving if they’re doing something fun. I chose an up dog/down dog flow for this installment in our Yoga for Kids series because it’s an allover body exercise that feels good and is enjoyable to do. Get on the floor with your child and do this pose flow that offers many benefits:

  • encourages blood flow
  • stimulates organs
  • relieves sinus stuffiness
  • improves posture
  • stretches entire front and back of body
  • builds core and upper body strength
  • develops flexibility

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Did you know about this adorable, family friendly Teddy Bear museum in Marbletown? During a fall open house, my family and I visited the Den which is set back from the road on 209. The Den of Marbletown is simply adorable and perfect for any teddy bear fanatic! There are a ton of different bears displayed and opportunities to learn the history of the teddy bear, the Steiff Company and the museum location.

The Basten family farm house was converted to a bed and breakfast and has expanded to include a teddy bear collection museum. The original collection belongs to the owner’s mother and many of the temporary exhibits include her personal favorites.

The Steiff Company has been around since 1880 and has been delighting children and adults of all ages and stages with stuffed animals. From plush baby safe cuddle blankets to luxurious fiber collectible bears for adults.

When we arrived my girls could hardly contain their excitement. They were surrounded by thousands of stuffed loves all in need of a good hug (according to the six year olds, not the store staff). After touring the gift shop we took the self-guided tour to learn more about the history of the museum and the teddy bear. We wound our way through each room filled with displays of adorably staged stuffed animals.  And just when we thought we were at the end we found the upstairs portion of this old Farm House was also converted to hold exhibits. Each room in The Den has a theme and is filled with adorable dioramas of teddy bear hijinks.

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There is an overload of teddy bears and stuffed animals throughout the museum, but in a small converted closet in one upstairs room there are plenty of old school Barbie Dolls and Madame Alexander Dolls. Across the hall from that exhibit, there is a special room called the, “Mama Bear Lounge.” This room was designed with working moms in mind. Moms are encourage to grab a coffee and their lap top and let the little ones play. Or, meet up with other moms for play dates. There is a toy box filled with blocks and other toys and a soft carpeted area for kids to play. There is free Wi-Fi where moms can get a little work done, or take a break and scroll through Facebook. The small room behind the mama bear lounge is the “kids cub cave.” It’s a small room where the kids can climb in and out of a faux cave, or grab a game or coloring page from the shelves to play at the table.

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One unique feature we did not experience is renting a guest room to spend a night at the museum. This would be an incredible birthday experience for any kid age 6 or older to sleep that close to so many squeezable bears. There is also a café and snack area inside, as well as picnic area just outside. The website boasts a picnics to go service, local fresh baked goods and a marvelous closet filled with extra amenities.

You can tell the folks in charge really put a lot of thought into the details. This museum is perfect for your teddy bear enthusiast age six and older. There are many exhibits behind glass, or under display boxes, but still many places they can hold a stuffed animal.  More active kids will love the mama bear lounge area.

Keep an eye on the Den News section on the website to check out some of the fun events planned at the house. Some previous events include a teddy bear tea, cookie decorating, jewelry making and art workshops.  The admission price to the museum is really affordable at $2.00 per adult, and $1.00 for kids to age 17 (under 1 are free) and a family rate of just $5.00. Pack a lunch and make this an affordable fun day out learning a little history and enjoying the bears!

Photo credit: The Den of Marbletown website.

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. 

Kids learn so much about us by what we take time to do. Do we show them how we appreciate and take care of our wonderful bodies? Spend just one minute a day on the floor with your child doing a yoga pose, and not only will you both will receive healthful benefits, but you’ll be setting a powerful example.

Here’s the second post in a series to help you and your child find more strength, flexibility, balance and focus. This week, we look at Slide, also known as Reverse Plank. When performed regularly, this posture offers many benefits:

    • increases strength in the back, glutes, hamstrings, calves and triceps
    • improves core strength
    • promotes discipline
    • develops balance and focus
    • opens and stretches chest and shoulders

 

I remember this story from 3 years ago. As I continue my journey on Sugarholic Road, I thought I would share it again.

This is a Friday day for me. I had two major projects to complete and, you guessed it, neither got done. One of our office computers had a Trojan virus that captured the screen and made the machine useless. Frustration Friday.

Food…enjoying flavorful food is my favorite pastime when things are not going well. Chocolate. Ice cream. Candy bars. They are my comfort foods.

Today I choose a different comfort food or maybe you could say it choose me. Our UPS delivery man brought us a box filled with popcorn…five bags in a multitude of flavors from POPCORN INDIANA. (Not sure where it got its name from, since the company’s address is in Englewood, NJ.)

But here we are on a crazy Friday afternoon all crunching away and determined to leave the office with a smile.

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We all loved the Chip-ins. Chips made with popcorn. That bag went fast.

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The Fit Sea-salt bag tasted sinfully good, with very few calories.

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And the Kettlecorn reminds me of a lighter Crackerjacks, except it doesn’t have a prize. According to their website Popcorn Indiana is available at locally at Price Chopper

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So far we have had a dreary couple of days of crazy winter weather. The temps have been up and down. We have had rain, snow, sleet and ice. It doesn’t feel like a really colorful time of year. Thankfully February brings some fun colorful activities into our world.  We do a lot to celebrate Valentine’s Day at home, like making gifts for our friends, but we often overlook President’s Day. It isn’t as sweet as Valentine’s Day so I am always stuck on fun things to do with my kids. This year I’m feeling (a little) more prepared.

My kids are in school and I am sure their teachers are doing a fantastic job teaching them about our country’s presidents and what it means to be the president of the United States of America. Maybe your kids aren’t in school just yet, or maybe you homeschool, or you simply want a few fun things to do on your extra day off with the kids. So here are some fun things to do!

5 fun activities to celebrate President’s Day:

Exercise your right to vote. Let your kids vote on breakfast. Pick two breakfast foods and hand out ballots to cast their votes.  Anyone who is eating breakfast gets a vote and the most popular vote wins. It is a quick and easy activity, but it gives young kids a taste of the election process. (Pun totally intended).

Help your child imagine a better world. Ask your kids to write down their answers to this question, “If I were President I would …” Not only will it be fun to hear their answers, but this can help kids imagine the good things they can do in this world.

Take a trip to the library. I know this is my go-to answer for everything. If we are bored we head to the library. But that’s because there is so much to learn and do there! If your child is old enough to read check out a couple of age appropriate books that describe the presidential process or a biography on a specific president. Check the library calendar there may even be some fun President’s Day themed activities happening right there.

Always stop for a snack. Anything you can think of that can represent the red, white and blue of the American flag is easiest. For example: a berry and yogurt parfait, or a bagel with cream cheese and fresh berries. If you are feeling ambitious make some cupcakes together, use white frosting with blue and red sprinkles. I like to use whatever we have on hand. Pull out some ingredients and let your kids get creative.

Show them the money. Take out any cash you have on hand and Google some facts about the president you see. My kids love when we get to ask the phone some questions. It is pretty amazing to me that we can speak a question into this little piece of technology and have answers in seconds. When I was the same age as my kids I’d have to walk across town, enter a building, pull open a drawer in the card catalog and find directions to a book hidden somewhere on a shelf. That was like half a day! Kids today … they don’t know how good they have it.

I like to keep things simple, yet celebratory. This isn’t one of those holidays you need to go completely elaborate with. Choosing any of these activities adds just a little fun and acknowledges the day.

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. 

Readers of Hudson Valley Parent often view the Common Core articles online.

It reminded me of a presentation I had to make at a PTA.

What’s the best parenting advice I could offer. After all, I am a mom of two grown sons and a grandmother to 12-year-old Lia and 14-year-old Robert. And then I spotted the Pet Rock that my youngest son made for my mom.

(For those of you not familiar with Pet Rocks, they were developed in the 70s. It was a gift you gave, that does not need to be fed, walked, bathed or groomed.)

ImageI found my mom’s Pet Rock when we were cleaning out her apartment after she died. She moved several times and Eliot’s Pet Rock always held a place of honor. Eliot had to be about seven or eight when he created his masterpiece.

So now I realize that the first thing I would share with the PTA moms is that sometimes it’s the simple things you do with your kids that last a lifetime. Has nothing to do with money or time. It’s that special moment of sharing.

Then I skip ahead ten years. My son was a member of a group that ran for county offices, like judges and the county executive. The video he created caused an uproar among adults but the kids loved it, and got voted into office. Like bad boys we were called into the principal’s office where we were told that Eliot could not take the judgeship for the day.

My husband and I turned to my son and asked him what he would like to do. Regardless of what he decided, we would support him.

This lead to me sharing my second piece of advice: as parents it is our role to support our kids so they feel comfortable standing up for themselves. Or in situations where they cannot stand up for themselves, we have to be strong advocates for them.

You may wonder, ‘What has this to do with the Common Core Uproar?’

For some parents fighting the common core battle is their way of standing up for their kids and that’s their right. But for me, it is the small acts we do all the time that help our kids grow up to be strong individuals who love life and enjoy learning no matter how old they are.

If you’re looking for one simple move to increase your core strength, this is it. Boat Pose, a staple both in yoga and Pilates classes, is a great alternative to performing dozens of crunches which can be hard on the neck or planks which can stress the wrists. Do this posture with your child and try to maintain it for a minute, but listen to your back. If you feel any strain, bend your knees or lower both feet to the floor. This go-to core move has many benefits:

  • builds core strength
  • improves balance
  • develops focus
  • cultivates discipline

Finally, many people find this pose more comfortable when performed on a mat or blanket to cushion the tailbone. Give it a try!

What is fine motor skills anyway? Basically fine motor functions include the muscle groups needed for handwriting and hand eye coordination. Focusing on crafts and art activities that require kids to use small and coordinated movements helps build on those skills and develop those muscles.

My kids are still young and working hard on those fine motor skills. So we tend to focus on projects that help us work those small muscle groups and flex those fingers. When I found this project I thought it looks fun and like a great way for us to work some skills without it feeling like work.

heart-collage

Materials:

Paper plates

Hole punch

String or yarn

Scissors

Exacto knife

First you will need to cut out a heart shaped template. You can cheat (like I did) and print a heart shape to cut out, or simply fold a paper in half and cut out a heart. Next you trace around the heart shape, and last use the exacto knife to score (or cut depending on how thick your plates are) the shape. I did this part for the kids, but they used the scissors to cut out. If your knife does not cut all the way through use the scissors to cut the shape out of the plate.

heart-template

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After you cut the shape, use the hole punch to punch individual holes around the outside of the heart (go through the inside of the heart).

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We taped one edge of the string to the back of the plate so we could push the other end through the holes. Zig-zag your stitches to allow for a more unique design. If the ends fray a bit, just wrap in tape to give it a sturdier end, or if you have a kid friendly sewing needle you can use that to guide the string through.

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When you are complete this will make a really unique Valentines’ day decoration, or a fun piece of art to hang in your window to admire. How easy is this? You are done in ten minutes, no mess and your kids just worked on hand eye coordination.

My kids discovered this bonus craft. Punch holes around the outside of the heart shape you cut out of the plate. Attach a piece of string to the back and use it to lace around the outside edge. Viola! A homemade lacing card! It’s amazing what your kids will think of when you get them creating!

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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. 

One of the things I love about yoga is that it reminds us of when we were children and turned upside down, rolled around, balanced on our hands and twisted ourselves into strange shapes just for fun. When I teach yoga to kids, they take right to it because they intuitively understand the playful aspect of the poses.

This week starts a series of vlogs highlighting various yoga postures you can share with your children, and you’ll all benefit. To kick it off, let’s try Crow Pose. This arm balance is always a hit with the kids and offers many benefits:

  • develops the ability to focus
  • increases upper body strength
  • improves balance
  • cultivates coordination
  • builds confidence

After sharing about our wonderful experience at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art I signed up to follow along on the museum’s Facebook page. I am glad I did because I found this tutorial video on their page! How cute are these bookmarks? They are easier to make than they look!

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I very rarely make a craft I find in a viral video. I always feel mislead by the hype of an easy craft. These are pro-crafters and everything they make is going to look amazing. Besides isn’t it edited to look like anyone can do it? But I got caught up in making these because they are so different and I am a sucker for a kid made bookmark.

The first one or two tries produced some wonky results. The third time was the charm because we finally found our folding groove. Nothing has to be measured precisely, you simply trace. You do have to be sure the heart lines are cut equally for them to align nicely.

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I used the template accompanying the video. However, I did have to make a few adjustments in a photo editor to eliminate all the unnecessary previews. Colored ink is a precious resource around here and I am not wasting a drop on printing extra stuff I don’t need. Once I printed what we needed I cut it out and traced several copies to the back side of large sized scrap book paper.

After we folded where appropriate, and connected the hearts, we were able to decorate and personalize our little book marks. The template also included smaller hearts to trace and cut out. Once you glue the embellishments it will secure the bookmark and keep the hearts in place. After making a few of these I think stickers work so much easier!

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My girls are about to start a read-a-thon at school and with Valentine’s Day coming up I think these will make really unique and fun gifts for their classmates. It’s a simple enough project that we can make a few of them each day. Plus, these last a lot longer than lollipops and pink candies; and they can be recycled when no longer wanted.

What do you think? Would your little reader love making these personalized bookmarks?

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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