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making-paperhand-puppets

The fall weather seems to have arrived in one fell swoop over the weekend! It was super-hot one day and the next, just as cool and crisp as a freshly fallen apple. I admit I was lured outside by the bright blue sky, the calming breeze and sunlight. There were so many different ways to spend our Saturday, but my husband and I decided to split up with the twins and go our separate ways to give each kid their own date day. My date and I started our day at the local farmer’s market where they have a sweet art corner.

Every week there is a new, free art project to create. One week we colored and cut out bugs and glued them to a cut out paper jar. It was simple, it was easy and the kids really enjoyed it. Now they look forward to stopping by the tent every time we make a trip to our home town farmer’s market. This week was no exception. Well, except I only had one kid to help make a project with.

This week we learned to make paper hand puppets. I can’t get over how easy these are to make and there are no limits to what your imagination can bring to life. My girl decided she wanted to make a red horse, named Ham. Oh five year olds. Once we returned home she was excited to share with her sister how to make her own little puppets.

So here is how you can make your own:

Materials:

8×10 sheet of paper

Glue stick

Extra scrap paper in a variety of colors

Crayons/Markers/Pens (which ever you have on hand)

puppet-materials

First fold the 8×10 paper, length wise, equally into thirds.

puppet-fold

Next, glue the long edge against the opposite long edge s to create a seam.

puppet-glue-stick

With the seam side facing toward you fold the paper in half.

puppet-seam-1

Then fold the short edge toward the short edge on both sides.

puppet-folded

This is the base of your puppet, or its body.

Now you are ready to embellish and get creative! You can use the remaining scrap pieces of paper to make eyes, hair, ears, a tongue, a nose and anything else you can think of! Or just use a pen, marker or crayon to draw on details. Let your kids imaginations run wild!

This is such a quick and easy project your kids can easily make an entire cast of characters for a small puppet show. It is a great activity to bring out for kid parties, rainy days or even a sick day. Or simply because it’s Tuesday and you need something fun to do with the kids. Enjoy!

Does your farmer’s market have an art tent for kids to enjoy?

puppet-friends

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. 

avoid-after-school-meltdown-through-art

Just as I was sending my kids off to Kindergarten some seasoned friends told me about the after school meltdown. I didn’t think it would be an issue since my kids already spent 5 half days a week in pre-K. They also meltdown about so many things how would I know it was just an end of the day meltdown? Well, turns out after school meltdown is a very real thing.

It takes a lot of energy for kids to process all the busy work expected of their little minds and bodies. On top of academic expectations, there is a lot of emotional interaction and learning that can be exhausting. To help my girls cope we created a calm down basket to help each of them transition from school to home routines.

calm-down-basket-e1

Each basket includes basic art supplies of markers and paper. The girls both picked out a spiral bound note book they can use to draw, doodle, or scribble in.

calm-down-basket-e2

We also included some soothing things like a squishy ball and a “magic” glitter wand. Each night I set the baskets out on the kitchen table so they can use after school. It turns out they enjoy using them before school too. My girls find coloring and doodling soothing, and it brings a nice quiet to our morning.

calm-down-basket-e4

Here are some other ways you can use art to avoid the after school meltdown:

  1. Provide your kids with a sketch book or journal. It becomes a safe space for them to dump their emotions and stress from the school day. There are no rules for this book and it isn’t something they need to show off for critique or feedback. It’s just their own.
  2. Put out some play dough for little hands. This helps kids let go of stress and switch gears. It has the same effect as a stress ball and warms up little fingers for writing and drawing.
  3. Leave art supplies out within reach for a self-guided experience. Whether your child enjoys painting, drawing, sculpting, etc., make sure all their tools are in a place where they can access without help. Using water based and washable supplies will make this a lot less worrisome for parents.
  4. Turn on soothing music to help set the tone for relaxation. It triggers the mind that something different is happening.Maybe bring out some musical instruments and allow for some unstructured play time.
  5. Art isn’t just with paint and paper. Help your kids make a healthy snack to refuel after a demanding day. Make funny faces with cheese and crackers, or craft ants on a log. Follow your kids lead in what they enjoy.

Engaging in something less restrictive and creative allows kids to feel like they have some control in their day. They get to follow the demands of their imagination for awhile before having to plug into the demands of chores, homework and the evening routine. So far my girls really like this part of our day. After a short walk back from the bus, we enjoy a simple snack and get to the work of relaxing.

How do you help your kids wind down after a full day of school?

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 end of every summer I am left with a big pile of ticket stubs, mini golf score cards, park maps and parking passes from all of our adventures. I hate to throw them away because they make a fun touchstone to all the fun we’ve had. I love to look back at them and remember the stories of each adventure or activity. So how do I preserve our summer mementos and keep things tidy? Here’s how:

PHOTO BOOKS

photo book 2

At the end of each month I upload our photos to a website with photo storage such as Shutterfly or Snapfish. My photos are stored until I am ready to sit down and order prints, or organize into photo books. I try to create a photo book at the end of every season, or big event. We already have a collection of photo books from my kids’ first birthday, our first family vacation and so on. We love to make a night of looking back when the final book arrives.  If you are not someone who likes to keep your ticket stubs, or park passes you can easily take a photo of them to include in a photo book before tossing.

PHOTO DISK

memory-769053_640

I like to feel like I have a backup system to our digital memories. I did not grow up with the instant gratification of digital pics and digital storage. We had to wait a week before we could see every blurry shot, or thumb print we captured. Even then we had a negative to hold onto in case we lost any of those printed images. If the Internet crashes tomorrow and my computer melts down, I still have all our memories in hard copy. This also works for a SANS Disk or USB drive.

PHOTO SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE

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I have not yet tried this, but there are several apps available that allow you to send photos from your phone to print. For a small monthly fee, the service mails the prints to you and you can then put them into albums or other storage.  GrooveBook sends 100 bound photos in a small book and Recently sends magazine style books to you each month. Prices vary per service. Order your prints before you head home from vacation and have them waiting for you when you arrive.

MAKE A SMASH BOOK

smash book

This is one I can get behind. I absolutely love the informal and imperfect way to stash our little pieces of summer. It reminds me of the scrap book I kept through high school. I would just tape my ticket stubs, birthday cards, photos and newspaper clippings to a page. And that’s exactly how you make a smash book.

Start by selecting a notebook. It can be as fancy as you’d like, or simple.  Then when you return home from each adventure you tape all your mementos to a page. You can come back later to add photos, doodles, drawings and stories. There is no right or wrong way to do it! Every member of the family can take a turn adding in their own pieces and writing their own memories on the page.

This process is less fussy than creating an intricate scrap book page. Although I think those are super cute, I personally don’t have the time to scrapbook, or shop for supplies.  A smash book is like a journal meets photo album. So easy!

How do you store your summer memories?

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. 

Back To SchoolTraditions

The new school year is officially twenty days away from today. I am ready with all of our school supplies, back up supplies, lunch menus and first day of school outfits. Every year I print out a fun little photo prop for my girls to hold while I take their picture in front of their new school. This year they begin elementary school and it feels more official, like I should do something a little bigger. This is after all the beginning of a greater adventure.

I asked around in some of my local moms groups for ideas on back to school, or first day of school traditions. It turns out everyone has something special they repeat every September to celebrate the start of a new school year, including homeschooling families. Here is my round up of back to school traditions.

BREAKFAST

Start off the day on a hearty note by serving a special breakfast. Maybe save the cereal for day two and serve pancake sundaes, or fruit and scrambled eggs arranged as a smiley face on the plate. It’s a fun way to start off the day and adds a little extra love to your morning before everyone heads out the door.

LOVE NOTES

I leave the kids a special note in their lunch boxes all year, but they only had lunch at preschool two days a week. Perhaps a note a day for the first week will give the kids a little extra boost of confidence during the transition back to the school day demands.

AFTER SCHOOL TREATS

It sounds so cliché to have fresh baked cookies and milk waiting for your child when they get off the bus. But it turns out it’s a very popular practice, at least on the first day of school. Several moms share they make a special cake shaped like a school bus, or cupcakes shaped like apples. In general the popular choice is to celebrate with a special after school treat.

DINER’S CHOICE

Let the kiddos pick the spot for a special picnic, or a favorite restaurant for dinner. One friend of mine allows her kids to eat ice cream for dinner on the first and last day of the school year.  If serving dessert for dinner is not your thing, perhaps an upside down dinner works. That’s eating dessert first, then dinner.

PHOTO OPS

Some families take a photo every year in the same spot in front of the house, or a special tree. Something they can mark year after year to show how much their child has grown or changed. Maybe take a picture of your child holding a sign with the date, their age and name of school. You could take a last day of school picture in the same outfit to compare the changes.

A SPECIAL BOOK

The night before starting school can make kids feel anxious and maybe a little excited. Reading a special book before bedtime might help ease those feelings. One mom recommends, “The Kissing Hand” which portrays a young raccoon too afraid to go to school because he will miss his mom too much. My kids enjoy this story so much we give Kissing Hands on the regular. Another couple of our favorites: “Are You Ready for Kindergarten Stinky Face?” and “Mrs. Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten.”

HOMESCHOOL TRADITIONS

For families choosing to homeschool, the hoopla of the back to school rush may feel a bit empty for them. Each family is different and may choose to create traditions of their own, or they may not celebrate it at all. Here is what some local mama’s who homeschool shared:

HAPPY NOT BACK TO SCHOOL DAY

Several moms shared they celebrate with a special activity, or picnic to mark the transition from the summer routine to the academic routine. They may gather together with several other families for a community picnic or a special party to celebrate.

SPECIAL MEALS

Spending the day eating their favorite foods, or making a special meal together helps some families observe the new school year.

SPECIAL VACATION

Since most homeschool families are not locked into a hard start date on the calendar, some families have the chance to take late summer trip to ease into the change of season. One mom says it’s nice to take advantage of the shortage of crowds with school aged children back at school.

Some moms don’t celebrate the new school year at all. They actually miss their kids leaving them each day. I for one am willing to see what all the fuss is about by missing my kids. *wink* I love my girls and I know I will miss them, but they are so excited to start school and begin their journey as big kids. It is my joy in watching their excitement that makes this next milestone one to celebrate.

How do you celebrate the new school year?

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. 

Summer is the time to enjoy the beautiful Hudson Valley with our families. Unfortunately, when we’re camping, hiking, swimming or just hanging out in the backyard, we have to contend with ticks and other insects. If you’re reluctant to use commercial insect-repellent sprays with their harsh chemicals, try this healthy alternative:

  • 4 oz. distilled water
  • 1/2 tsp vegetable glycerin
  • 30 drops geranium or rose geranium essential oil
  • 10 drops tea tree essential oil

Shake vigorously and apply often.

Unlike many other essential oils, geranium oil can be applied directly to the skin (if a rash appears, stop use). Place a drop behind each ear and at the wrist pulse points for extra protection. If using on your dog, put a drop between the shoulder blades and one at the base of the tail.

Enjoy a healthy summer!

Feel good about doing your windows with this non-toxic, all-natural window cleaner that smell great.

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.

This pose is good for both of you and will inevitably lead to giggles.

Jenny & I invite you to join us on our journey of family, fitness & food.

I Heart

My kids really love making hands on science experiments. They especially love anything that explodes bubbles or makes a mess. Me, I like a nice contained experiment the most. But, I digress. My kids are also really excited about Valentine’s Day. With the holiday right around the corner I thought it would be fun to find a way to marry the two! Today we have a super easy Valentine’s Day science experiment kids of any age will enjoy.

What you will need:

I heart materials

1 package of conversation hearts

1 bottle of sparkling water

4 Antacid tablets (or Alka-Seltzer tabs)

1 clear glass or container

Before we start the experiment I share the word effervescent. Then we talk about what it means. Then I ask each of the girls for a hypothesis, or what they think will happen once I pour the sparkling water in the glass.

First, drop in the four antacid tabs into your glass or jar.

Next, drop in a handful of conversation hearts.

I heart seltzer drop

Last, let your kids slowly poor in the sparkling water.

I heart sparkle water

The effervescence of the ant acid tabs and the bubbles in the sparkling water creates a gas that causes the hearts to wiggle and jiggle their way to the top of the glass. Even without sharing all the big scientific words kids will just have fun watching this experiment!

I heart dancing

I confess our first attempt was not a success. My favorite dollar store was out of ant acid tabs and all I could find was a package of Efferdent (denture cleaning tabs).  Contrary to my expectations, these tabs do not produce enough bubbles to have the same effect.  But, they do make the water a pretty blue color. We broke up 1 tab of Efferdent and dropped it into the water. This is science after all and we wouldn’t be very good scientists if we didn’t test the limits of our experiment.

I heart blue

The girls were just giddy with excitement watching these little hearts rise and fall. They of course really enjoy the bubbles and “sizzling” sound of the effervescence.

While the bubbles do their thing we talk about a gas vs. a liquid and a solid. The girls ask all kinds of questions about what is in the tabs to make the bubbles, and the most important question of all, “Can we still eat the candy?”

An important note:  once the candy is used in the Alka-Seltzer you should not eat them, or drink the water. It often contains aspirin which is not good for children under age 12. So, please be sure to keep a watchful eye with young kids.

This fun and quick experiment is a great way to introduce some simple science and has a pretty cool effect.

After we cleanup (as all good scientists do) we begin our next experiment: a taste test of every color of the candy hearts. The final results are yellow is our favorite (it is banana flavored).

 

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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