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As a homeschool family, we get lots of questions about how we handle snow days, school breaks, and the like.  In the most technical sense, the lines of “break” can be blurred for many homeschoolers, as students don’t get up each day and board a school bus.  Our family follows my husband’s schedule (he’s a teacher), which makes it easy to define when we are and are not off.  Regardless, schoolwork can crossover into break, especially since we learn through life, not just traditional school.

We observed the traditional week before Easter off, and it couldn’t get here soon enough.  A few subjects (homework?) needed our attention before we could officially be “off.”  I listed everything on the dry erase board so it could be completed first thing Saturday morning, but my kids talked me into waiting until Sunday.  Having everything written down in plain sight really helped ensure that it got done.

Next, we moved on to the fun.  Normally we greet the warm weather with hikes, walks, and bike rides, but my oldest is on crutches due to an injury, so family activities had to be adjusted.  We drew pictures on the driveway with chalk.  We spent time with grandparents, great grandpa, baby cousin, and aunts.  We delivered (and ate) Girl Scout cookies.  We colored Easter eggs and talked about Easter.  We didn’t get to do a full Passover Seder with family this year, but we spent time talking about the significance of the holiday.  We emptied the master bedroom, primed it, painted the room and ceiling, and put everything back together.  We went to the $2 movie theater and saw “Sing.”  We did chores, organizing, and spring cleaning. The girls had a friend sleep over and a few playdates.  My little one taught herself how to make lipgloss out of coconut oil, thanks to Youtube.  We read- a LOT.  We did Easter crafts.  We cooked.  We relaxed on the deck and took in lots of fresh air and sunshine.

As all good things do, the week came to an end.  Our Sunday blues were intensified as we said goodbye to a week filled with downtime and family fun, but such is life.  Fortunately, the break gave us enough of a boost that we were able to jump back into the school routine with renewed energy and focus.  We’re immersed in the learning process, but also looking forward to the more-relaxed, slower paced summer ahead.  How did you spend your spring break?  If you’re not a homeschooling family, how different was your break from ours?  Share with HVP readers, below.

MORGANS

As the mountains of snow start to melt, it is finally starting to feel more like spring. This is the time of year we get outside more and watch everything spring to life again. Including winged creatures. Some are beautiful and some are down right annoying when they go buzzing by. But I bet everyone can agree that spotting a butterfly is a magical experience.

Magic wings bfly collage

That’s why we love our trips to the Magic Butterfly Conservatory & Gardens in South Deerfield, MA. No matter what the weather, there is a tropical greenhouse waiting just two and half hours away from Northern Ulster County. It is easily a fun day trip your family will enjoy. Magic Wings is a tranquil 8,000 square foot greenhouse filled with tropical plants, a Japanese Koi pond and water features and of course butterflies. In fact, hundreds of them. Once we paid our admission we were ready for our self guided tour of the green house.

magic wings collage

The exhibit and display area before entering the greenhouse offers educational videos, the history of the butterfly and a whole bunch of tropical creatures. Spoiler alert there are some of the biggest cockroaches you will ever see on display. But no worries, they are all behind glass. My kids loved the tree frogs, snakes and other reptilian beasts.

Upon entering the green house there are large fans blowing and little kids might find them noisy. This is simply to keep the butterflies from hitching a ride out on someone’s back. The rest of the tour is calm and pretty serene with classical music playing and the sounds of the waterfalls.

magic wings lizard

My kids were mesmerized by the packs of fluttering wings and spent hours trailing them and watching them. All the employees are well trained in the different types of animals living in the green house. They can easily rattle of details about the lizards, birds, fish and insects from what they eat, to what their usual habitat looks like.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

There is a community coat closet big enough to park a stroller (not permitted in the green house), or to leave bulky diaper bags and your family’s coats. The gift shop has a wide range of gift items and kids toys. Some are more expensive, but definitely some affordable fun things for family budgets. You enter through the gift shop before the tour begins, so we let the kids shop a little without purchasing so they would know what they wanted when we came back through.

Bring your camera because there are a few little fun photo op spots to take family photos. Not to mention you will really want to capture some beautiful shots of the lush greenery and colorful butterflies.

The cost for a family of four (two parents, two kids) is $52 and kids under 3 are free. You can save on meals by packing your own lunch instead of buying in the cafe, or restaurant. There is a covered out door picnic area available in the summer, and there are tables in the lobby near the fire place in the winter. Overall, you are going to pay less for this day trip filled with educational opportunities and hours of exploring than probably getting your family into a movie theater for two hours of entertainment. We love it so much we always leave planning our next trip back!

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. 

Spring break is a great time to get out of the house and explore the beauty of the Hudson Valley. Hannah’s Girl Scout Troop recently visited a farm on the Center for Discovery’s Hurleyville campus. Though it was a bit chilly, the kids had a blast.

Maple Syrup 1Maple Syrup 2

How Maple Syrup is Made

The kids learned how maple syrup is made by tapping sugar maple trees and how the timing has to be right. They have to wait for freezing temperatures when the sap moves up from the roots of the tree and into the trunk and branches. They enjoyed learning about the entire process from collecting the sap to cooking it and turning into the finished product you see in the store. Of course the best part was tasting a sample.

Maple Syrup 3Syrup 4

This was the official Maple Weekend where New York State producers open their doors to the public. You can still get in on the fun by finding an event in your area this weekend, April 2nd and 3rd.

Eggcellent Pre-Easter Hunt

As many of us are preparing to head out to local Easter Egg hunts, it was awesome for the kids to collect eggs directly from the chickens (sorry Easter bunny). My kids thought it was neat that they were still warm. They also got to feed the chickens, which was fun for them.

Chickens

It’s also not too late to find great Easter Egg hunts in the Hudson Valley.

If you’re hoping for a special photo op with the Easter Bunny himself, check out his Hudson Valley tour schedule.

Now that this weekend is over, I’m feeling at a loss for how to keep my kids entertained for the next week and a half that they’re off from school. I know we can always check out our local library for kids’ events and to check out some new books to keep the kids reading over the break. We’ll probably also visit our local parks to get all their pent up energy out.

Hannah’s Girl Scout troop was invited up to Albany by Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther after her recent visit. She’ll be heading up for a tour of the capital today and the girls will even be introduced on the floor of the legislature. This is a fantastic opportunity for the girls to learn how laws are made and they’ll be earning participation in government badges.

As for the remaining days of spring break, I’m going to have to get creative. I know that I can always visit My Family Trip Planner to find local attractions, restaurants, and play places to keep them busy. My kids also really love all kinds of experiments so we’ll try a few of these simple science experiments using what we already have in the kitchen. I know the key to my sanity is keeping them busy.

What are your spring break plans?

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 Money Saving Mom and Mamapedia.

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