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The last few rainy days have kept us inside in search of something silly and fun to pass the time. We do like to get out and dance in the rain, but today was just too cold. We were bored and in need of something different to occupy ourselves. I took a look around the house to find something new, something we haven’t already done a billion times. Well, as luck would have it I checked out a couple of books from the library last week with a ton of fun things for us to do! And I found a craft that is super easy, using only things we have in the house where we can stay warm and dry.

MATERIALS:

  • Tissue Paper
  • Marker
  • Scissors
  • Large dinner plate
  • Tape
  • Balloon

 

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Unfold the tissue paper completely and lay it flat on the table. Trace the outer edge of a dinner plate to create a circle.

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Draw a snake shape inside the circle, or simply cut into a spiral leaving room to make a head. If you want you can draw on eyes and tape on a small tongue.

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Next comes the fun part. Tape the tale of the snake to the counter. Blow up the balloon and tie the end. Now rub the balloon against your head (or something wool if you have it) to create an electrostatic charge. Now, laugh at how your hair stands straight up! Then apply balloon to the head of your snake. As you raise the balloon the tissue paper snake should attach its self and follow the balloon. This looks like you are charming the snake.

 

That’s it! A fun, quick craft that my kids enjoyed. They continued to play with the balloon without the snake because when you are six nothing is more special than a balloon; even if it can make you a snake charmer. Hope you are surviving the rainy days of Spring!

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. 

 

springfield-museums-easy-day-trip

If you are looking for something fun to do during the kids spring break then check out Springfield Museums in Springfield, MA. Located approximately two hours from Northern Ulster County it is an easy day trip for families with little ones.

One admission price grants access to all four museums on campus. Each museum and discovery center celebrates art, history, science and discovery. Located in the center of it all is the Dr. Seuss National Memorial sculpture garden.  During our visit we were delighted by hands on learning experiences and opportunities to soak in some extraordinary art work. The grounds offer a large area for picnics and room for kids to run. Although you cannot climb, or play on the sculptures in the garden there are benches painted in fun themes and some interactive pieces in front of the museums.

There is so much to do and see here that we spent an entire day exploring and playing.  I’ll just share with you the highlights.

SPRINGFIELD SCIENCE MUSEUM

The science building has hands on exploration of rocks and minerals, space, live animals, the African Hall and Dinosaur Hall. There are three floors in this building alone and we spent over an hour investigating everything. We even doubled back around to the African Hall so we could push all the animal sound buttons again. There is a planetarium, but we arrived in between show times.

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GEORGE WALTER VINCENT SMITH ART MUSEUM

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We found the most wonderful exhibits for everyone in my family. My kids favorite by far is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle exhibit (until September 3, 2017). It includes original comic book art and incorporates replicas of the shields and weapons the TMNT used in their stories. My kids’ were super excited to play the original TMNT on Nintendo. Yep, I am so old I remember the original Nintendo which is now old enough to be an exhibit in a museum.  My husband enjoyed reliving his glory days by schooling the kids with his video game codes. The building houses a collection of Japanese arms & armor, Asian art, Islamic art, Tiffany windows and more.

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The children’s art discovery center is the most amazing kid’s area we’ve ever played in! The discovery center is decorated in colorful Buddhist, Asian and Chinese Zodiac art. There is a simple craft left out for kids to partake, a puppet theater, dress up area, a wishing tree, reading area and so much gorgeous art work to drink in. My kids stayed in this sunny bright spot for an hour exploring every nook and cranny.

MICHELE AND DONALD D’AMOUR MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS

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There are several different galleries on both floors of this museum. Each gallery contains a comprehensive collection of art work from Impressionist art, French & Dutch art, and American art to the Currier and Ives collection. In the upstairs gallery there is a kid’s art area that is perfectly placed in location to the other gallery rooms. The Cat in the Hat exhibit (through April 30, 2017) includes fun dress up hats and cute little stuffed kittens kids can arrange to make their own exhibit. We found it easy for one parent to stay with the kids in the kids area while the other parent took their own guided tour of the galleries. I studied many of the works and painters in these collections, so it was a thrill to walk through alone and see some of my favorites up close.

LYMAN AND MERRIE WOOD MUSEUM OF SPRINGFIELD

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This building houses a great collection of Indian motorcycles and classic cars, local Springfield history and the Hasbro Game Land (our favorite). We spent the least amount of time in this museum since the staff was setting up for an event and some parts were closed off. But the larger than life sized game pieces were our favorites.

DR. SEUSS NATIONAL MEMORIAL SCULPTURE GARDEN

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During our picnic lunch on the quad we enjoyed the Dr. Seuss sculpture garden. The grassy quad is big enough to let kids roam and there are plenty of benches to sit down to eat. Thankfully, the parking lot isn’t far so you can leave your cooler in the car while you check out the exhibits, and retrieve it for your lunch break. There is a cafe right  next to the museum main entrance if you’d prefer. It was hard to keep the kids from climbing on the sculpture, but it was really fun to see their faces light up at the life sized characters they love!

By purchasing a membership you get free admission to a host of other museums across the country (including the Mid Hudson Children’s Museum, the MiSi Museum in Schenectady and the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space museum to name a few).  Imagine the trips you could plan! They also deduct the price you pay for your family admission from the membership price which makes it really affordable, and pays for future adventures.

Spending the day at the museums is a great getaway from the usual routine of things. It’s an easy day trip and if you plan it just right you can be there in time to see the newest addition of the Dr. Seuss museum coming in June! I know we can’t wait to go back!

Would you travel two hours to see works of art?

You might also enjoy some of our other adventures: Howe’s Caverns, Lake George, Mystic Aquarium and The Eric Carle Museum of Story Book 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. 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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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. 

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A few months ago we decided not to throw our kids a birthday party. I know, how horrible. Instead we took a week-long vacation in the Berkshires. I get that sounds all pretentious but I swear we are average folks. I smuggle my peanut butter jelly sandwiches into places just like every other mom. But we decided for the cost of a two hour party we could give our kids some really fun experiences they will always remember.

We visited a lot of great places and enjoyed trips to several museums where we found science, art and history exhibits. We even saw a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle exhibit which made me and hubby feel a little old. Not only do we remember the first time we watched the original movie (which was playing on a continuous loop), but we remember playing a Nintendo game unit like the one now old enough to be on display as a “classic.”

I digress.

One of our favorite stops was the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. My kids loved making art in the art studio, reading and relaxing in the library and seeing art work from their favorite authors on display.

Here is what we enjoyed!

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The art studio is a large sunlit room bursting with creativity. The resident artists select a craft project each day to share with visitors to the studio. All the materials and instruction are free. There are convenient drying wracks just outside the studio entrance where you can leave your creations while you tour the rest of the building. If you have kids of different ages and stages there are fun hands on play stations for your little ones to enjoy.

The galleries offer a look at original art work created by Eric Carle and other renowned picture book artists. Our favorite by far was the Brown Bear 50th Anniversary exhibit. We could see different versions of the way the animals were drawn. We immediately found the reading area which provided books and comfy brown bear cushions to cozy up to while reading. There are a variety of ways kids can interact with the art and games to help them talk about what they see. Each of the gallery rooms is minimal with plenty of room to navigate a stroller or wheel chair through. But no pictures are allowed for this exhibit.

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The library was the big hit for my kids. Not only did they have access to kids’ books, but they were obsessed with the giant stuffed versions of the book characters they love. Brown Bear was carried around by just about every kid that came in. There are also lots of learning toys like latch puzzles, magnet puzzles and coloring pages. Hubby and I enjoyed getting to sit down and relax a bit while our kids had a safe place to roam. There are kids story times and other events taking place so be sure to check the schedule before you travel!

The Auditorium offers concerts and educational films. We arrived between movie viewings so we did not get to check out the auditorium. But you can check online to see what film or concert is being offered on the day you visit.

The Bookshop is filled with a lot of fun games, stuffed animals and unique gift ideas. We found some great post cards featuring art from our favorite Eric Carle books. I bought extras to frame when we return home.

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Everything about this museum is designed with families in mind. You can request extra diapering supplies from the front desk, borrow a stroller or wheel chair and the coat room has individual lockers with a key to stash your diaper bag and extra stuff you don’t want to carry. There are activity kits to borrow to help your kids have a more interactive experience (I didn’t see those until we were on our way out). The museum admission price is also family friendly $22.50 covers a family of two adults and two kids.

Since our visit was in November it was a little too chilly to check out the art sprinkled along the walking trails and museum grounds. You can also find picnic tables outside to enjoy that homemade peanut butter sandwich right out in the open.  Or you can stay inside and enjoy a non-smuggled lunch right in The Carle Café where they offer free coffee and organic/natural vending machine fare.

The museum is located in Amherst, MA which is approximately 2 hours from where we are in Ulster County. This is a great place to take your young art lover and little reader. It is a perfect day trip for families and especially accommodating for every age group. Older kids can read and learn details about the art exhibits, create art and there is plenty to keep their younger siblings busy and engaged.

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. 

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.

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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).

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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. 

 

how-to-make-apple-pops-with-kids

I really love making candied apples in the fall. But that hard shell coating can be difficult for little ones to bite through. Chocolate, or caramel dipped apples can be so much easier for little ones to eat. Except that my kids never finish an entire apple by themselves. I usually cut it into slices so they can enjoy a portioned sized amount of sweets. It never occurred to me to slice the apples before dipping!

Saturday’s weather was all day dreary. All our fun activities for the day were cancelled so that left us home. We baked and cleaned because what else do you do for long stretches of time with no plans? Just as we were finishing up chores and the kids were begging for something fun to do I remembered I have everything we need to make chocolate dipped apple pops. My kids were in heaven!

Here is what you need:

3 Large apples- any variety

Wooden craft sticks, or skewers- without stain or finish

Chocolate chips

Decorative candies or sprinkles

Begin by washing and drying your apples. Next, slice apples on each side of the core so you have circles. Then you can cut the remaining sides into wedges and secure with a skewer before you dip. (You can remove the skewer before serving the dipped wedges to kids). You can use a small, sharp knife to make a slit in the edge of the apple just deep enough to add your wooden Popsicle stick.

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Next, melt your favorite chocolate chips in the microwave, or by using the double boiler method. Bring a small amount of water to a boil in a pot, and place chips in the bowl. Set the the bowl on top of the boiling water and continue stirring until melted. An important thing to remember is you do not need a lot of water, it shouldn’t even touch the bowl. And use a bowl that fits just a bit bigger than the opening of the pot.

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Then line a baking tray, or cutting board with wax paper. Insert the Popsicle stick or wooden dowel into each apple.

Once the chocolate is fully melted you can dip your apples into the chocolate. You can use a spoon or spatula to help coat the apples evenly. Place the dipped apples onto the wax paper and let your kids have fun decorating! You can go as simple, or as fancy as you’d like. We used what we have on hand- some M&Ms and Halloween themed sprinkles. You could also use crumbled cookies, crushed pretzels, a drizzle of caramel. Or you can get really fancy and use edible candy eyes found in the candy section of most craft stores.

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Pop these into the freezer for about 10 minutes or a little longer. Once the chocolate is solid you are ready to eat! We had so much fun making them on our rainy day, but this could really make a fun Halloween activity, or after school treat.

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What toppings would add to these apple pops?

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. 

 

Some days you just walk into a place and know with all certainty that you are a hot mess. That was me yesterday, as I rolled up into Aldi with my trio of sugared up wild things. I was rocking my crocs with socks. My baby girl was sporting nothing but a onesie and a chocolate Hitler stash and I just wanted to do a “hot mess mom” mic drop, like whatever.

Messy Child

I’m all for having well behaved children, hence the chocolate used for bribery. But there are some days, where you just have to think, “Hey, this is my circus and we just rolled into town so you’re just going to have to just sit back and enjoy the show.” My kids weren’t being misbehaved, but I was stressed having all three of them with me.

I like to go with just the baby, but unfortunately we had to have a new hot water heater installed and I missed my magic shopping window between her getting up from her nap and before the older kids get off the bus. You know you’re a mom of three or more when having just one child at the store with you feels like a vacation.

Of course my toddler didn’t want to ride in the cart so we all took turns chasing her around the store. My older kids were pretty good about rounding her up, but I did feel some eyes on me. I did feel the need to speed up my shopping, but at the same time I kept hearing the song “Wild Things” by Alessia Cara   in my head playing the soundtrack to my beautiful messy mob.

Sydney Shopping

I tried to remember what it was like to be a kid shopping with my mom. It was so boring so I found little games to play like using the few colored tiles on the floor in ShopRite as safe stepping stones to keep from burning up in the lava of white tiles. This is the beauty of childhood; turning the ordinary into the extraordinary.

Sometimes you just have to stop worrying about what other people think. We can’t control everything our kids do, and sometimes we should just kick back and enjoy the show ourselves. I’m not talking about letting them pull things off of shelves or scream bloody murder in a store, but we need to cut them some slack too. They aren’t tiny adults; they’re kids.

If we wanted nice tidy lives filled with spotless furniture and careless trips to anywhere by ourselves, we wouldn’t have had kids at all. They are the beautiful mess we signed up for, even if we didn’t fully realize it at the time.

I think I forgot the messy chaos of the toddler years. I spend so much time cleaning up food and toys off of EVERY surface of my house or trying to keep her from climbing up on the table to take food off of our plates or leave us the present of her food taken directly out of her mouth and dropped onto our plates. The other day she climbed up on the table and started dancing and my frustration dissolved into laughter.

This is life with little wild things; watching them squeal with delight as they race around a store, watching them dance on the table top to music only they can hear, and watching them find joy in things we can’t see anymore. In this process of growing up, we’ve packed away our own wild side. We’ve turned down the anthem in our heads that plays when we roll up in a place.

I don’t know about you, but I want to hold onto these wild things of mine. There are times when I just can’t expect them to be perfectly behaved. There are times when I have to appreciate their laughter and have that matter more than a few heads turned in our direction.

So many times, I just stop whatever I’m doing and dance around the room with my wild things. These moments are the gifts they give me with their sticky little fingers. They lend me their beautiful, crazy, “don’t give a damn about anything, but finding the joy in life” spirits.

So yes, this is my circus and these are my little monkeys and I love them. Sometimes you have to take off the grown up expectations and just meet them where they are. Who cares if you look like a hot mess?

I don’t know about you, but I want to be where the wild things are because it sure is free and fun and full of joy!

Erin Johnson a.k.a. The No Drama Mama can be found writing on her blog The No Drama Mama and Hudson Valley Parent when she’s not wiping poop or snot off her three adorable kiddos. This “tell it like it is” mama has NO time for drama, so forget your perfect parenting techniques and follow her on Facebook or Twitter for her delightfully imperfect parenting wins and fails. Her work can also be found on The Huffington Post, Money Saving Mom, Mamapedia and Worshipful Living.

 

 

 

 

 

food truck zeppolesMay 1-17th: Hudson Valley Fair. One of the biggest and best family fairs in the Hudson Valley returns! Shows, music, petting zoo, rides, food, games and SO MUCH MORE! 5pm. Dutchess Stadium, 1500 Route 9D, Wappingers Falls. 845-838-0094.

May 16th: Gardiner Cupcake Festival. Live music, local food, shopping, art and craft vendors, raffles, kids’ activities, cupcake contests, and, of course, lots of yummy cupcakes. 12-6pm. Wrights Farm, 699 State Route 208, Gardiner. 845-255-5300.

May 16th: Pine Bush UFO Fair. Live music all day, fun games and attractions, a huge assortment of food, a kids section, craft vendors, UFO novelties, live characters, street performances, and the Star Wars 501st Legion Storm Troopers will be in attendance. ‘Alien and UFO Themed Parade’. 10am- 4pm. Main Street, Pine Bush. 845-744-8230.

May 16th: Spring Fling and Plow Day. Learn how the fields are prepared for spring planting. Watch the antique plows disk the fields and otheractivities and equipment on display, demonstrations and tours through the barn collections. 10am- 2pm. Orange County Farmer’s Museum, 850 State Rt. 17K, Montgomery. 845-926-2727.


food truck festivalMay 21st: Hudson Valley Food Truck Festival.
Come on out to the Hudson Valley Food Truck Festival Spring Fling! Bands and performers, great food and lots of fun. Kiwani’s Ice arena, 6 Small World Ave., Saugerties.

Find a summer camp for your child. Click here to visit our extensive list of area summer camps.

May 22nd: Mysteryland Festival. Creative journey, combining music with theatre, movies, interactive installation art, street performers and shows. Times TBA. Bethel Woods Center for the arts, 200 Hurd Rd., Bethel. 866-781-2922.

May 23rd: Spring Festival. Annual Spring celebration featuring art, crafts, food, fun and music. Held rain or shine. 10am-6pm. Sugar Loaf Art and Craft Village, Sugar Loaf, Chester. 845-469-5931.

May 30th: Healthy Smiles Family Fun Day. Join us for a day of family fun! Games, raffles, fun activities, food, refreshments and a petting zoo!  12:00pm – 4:00pm. Valley Pediatric Dentistry, PC, 1557 Route 82, Hopewell Junction. 845-226-8577.

May 30th: Millbrook Literary Festival. Eighty timely, thought-provoking, and thoroughly entertaining authors and illustrators participating in panel discussions, readings, and signings throughout the day. 9:45am. Village of Millbrook, Franklin Ave., Millbrook.

fair face paintingMay 31st: Hudson Valley Family Festival. This fun family expo provides parents with up to date information and services available in a fun environment for the entire family. 11am-3pm. Dutchess Stadium, 1500 Route 9D, Wappingers Falls. 845-838-0094.

May 31st: Family Fun Day Fest. Enjoy Live Music, bounce house village, Art Bus, kids’ activities, raffles and food.  Fee. 12-6pm. Black Rock Fish and Game Club, 5 Pleasant Hill Rd., Mountainville.

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8 ideas for summer family fun

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I’m not even going to mention how over the frigid temperatures I am; I won’t even mention the words Polar Vortex.  Without that being said, I will say that going outside to play is not  an option right now.  My oldest daughter, Madison, is a real trooper, but Sophie and I are babies.  Sophie actually is a baby so she has an excuse, but I just can’t enjoy this weather.  And, if you are anything like our family this winter, the cold and flu season has hit you hard.  Cabin fever was quickly setting in, so I had to take the rare opportunity of us all being healthy at the same time to make a long overdue trip to the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, NJ.

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LSC is most definitely a day trip as it takes over an hour to get there from Orange County but totally worth it.  I remember my mom taking us as a kid and unlike other museums, I couldn’t believe you were actually allowed and encouraged to touch everything.  A lot has changed since I was there as a kid, and it has only gotten better.

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The science center has four floors of interactive exhibits.  (There are too many  to name so be sure to check out their website.)  The great thing about the exhibits is that they are diverse and and layered, meaning you can just scratch the surface of any topic if you are with little ones or dig deeper if your kids are older or their interest calls for it.  My girls love construction, so we started at the main floor Skyscraper! exhibit.  Anything you ever wanted to know about how a skyscraper is made from conception to construction can be explored and experienced: walk a steel girder high above the center’s floor, operate a crane, or test a buildings strength in a high velocity wind tunnel.  My kids are little, so we just touched the surface of this exhibit.  Next, we headed all the way up to the fourth floor for the Bob the Builder exhibit where my girls immersed themselves for quite some time.  After that, we headed down to Infection Connection which seemed appropriate after all the colds and viruses we have recently had.  Madison and Sophie  stepped into the lab where their hands were coated in “germs.”  They then had to wash their hands before sticking them back under the black light to see how they did.  Let’s just say, it’s no longer a mystery as to how we keep getting sick.  Hopefully, it’s a lesson learned.  We explored several other exhibits but by no means hit them all.

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The Liberty Science Center is one of the most family friendly places I have come across.  It has ample parking located in front ($7 a day).  There are restrooms including family restrooms on every floor, conveniently marked and located.  There is a  cafe with healthy choices and reasonable prices in addition to allowing  you to bring your own food.  The staff was pleasant and very helpful.  For 2 adults, 1 child, and under 2 are free, it came to $54.25.  It is on the expensive side, but the experience was worth it.

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The center has so much to do, more than can be done in one trip.   However, it is small enough to be able to maneuver easily without getting lost or overwhelmed.  It’s a great place to go if you have children of varying ages.  There are several exhibits geared toward the 2-5 crowd, many for the older ones, and it’s fun for the adults too.  My advice is to check the website and make a list of exhibits that are age and interest appropriate for your group, so you have a general idea of what you want to accomplish.    The Liberty Science Center is the type of place that truly is fun for the entire family.  We are already making plans to return.

This is a craft recommended for parent and child ages 4 and up.

Sure it’s easy to make a sock puppet, but have you ever made one with a perfect hand insert?

I came up with this neat little trick when I was a young teen and have used it ever since when making a sock puppet.

Things you will need…

Socks – Buttons or Googly Eyes – Yarn – Hot Glue – Scissors – Cardboard – Any other face or hair makings of your choice

The first thing you will want to do is cut a piece of cardboard ( I used the wings off a box) into 6 by 3 inch rectangles. Bend in half creating a mouth shape.

Cut small strips of cardboard. Have your child hold the pre-cut rectangle in their hand as they would hold their puppet and bend strip over their finger as shown to make the needed size… do the same for thumb. Mark on either side of the finger so you can remember where the bend goes.

Inside out your sock – This is very important – You want it inside out. This is a parent step so feel free to have your child watch 🙂

Hot Glue Finger slots onto the top and bottom of your mouth piece close the the fold where your child’s fingers will sit. I recommend not only hot gluing it on, but also reinforcing around each side so it seals a nice strong bond as seen below.

Now, squeeze hot glue onto the inside of one side of the mouth and place sock inside making sure it’s smooth. Pull extra sockage out the sides. Repeat on top. What you should have is a mouth piece hot glued on the outside of your sock.

Inside out and pull at corners of mouth a little to form a smile 🙂

Decorate puppet as wanted and have fun doing it! be creative and silly!

To create a wig for your puppet wrap yarn around your fingers until nice and thick. Tie a small strand around the center and pull tight with a knot. Cut yarn off underside of your hand and then trim as wanted. Leave long, or cut short… your child is the beautician.

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