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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:


8×10 sheet of paper

Glue stick

Extra scrap paper in a variety of colors

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


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


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


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


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


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?


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.


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.


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.


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!

1. New Years eve is a great time to reflect on the past year and look forward to the new year with family and friends. Choose an activity to do together. Bowling, ice skating or roller skating are good options! Many places are offering holiday packages like Colonial Lanes in Chester. For a one price fee for the whole family you can enjoy 2 hours of cosmic bowling, dinner, dessert, cosmic bowlingmusic and more! For tickets and more info: Roller Magic in Hyde Park is also offering a special New Years Eve party. Noisemakers, games, prizes and a special balloon drop finale!

Also: Hudson Valley’s Best Ice Skating Rinks

2. Ring in the new year at NOON in Beacon, NY. The Howland Cultural Center is hosting a very special children’s Happy Noon Year event! Spend the morning with the kids crafting masks, noisemakers and party props. Kids will practice yoga stretches and sing songs. Then just before noon join in the countdown parade with popcorn and punch.

3. Celebrate the new year with family fun for everyone at The Castle Fun Center. Tickets include dinner buffet, snacks and sundae bar. Kids will love all the activities at the Castle and a special “midnight” celebration complete with balloon and confetti drop! http://thecastle.pfestore.comnew years at noon

4. At the Mid- Hudson Children’s Museum, celebrate the new year withthe kids at noon! Sing, dance a party your way into 2015 with a DJ dance party, live performances, crafts, snacks, and a unique countdown every hour from around the world!

5. Head on over to New Paltz for a special day of holiday activities for the whole community to enjoy! Start with children’s crafts and stories at the library, followed by youth scavenger hunt at the Youth program. Later join the community for a dinner at the United Methodist Church, an open mic for teens at the cafeteria coffee house, a community dance at the St. Joseph’s church hall and everything wraps up just before midnight at a community bonfire at Hasbrouck Park! For times and details:

6. Go out to eat! Treat yourselves this holiday and save the clean- up for someone else. What are your NYE dinner traditions? Many families get Chinese take out, others stick with apps and finger foods. Here is a list of kid- friendly new years resolutionsrestaurants in the Hudson Valley, check websites and call ahead to see if they are offering anything special for New Years Eve.

7. Make resolutions together. I am loving this kid- friendly resolutions printable from! Let the kids fill all of the things they want to do and work on in the upcoming year. It will get the kids thinking about bettering themselves and maybe spark a yearly bucket list you can have fun crossing things off all year long! Don’t forget about your own resolutions too! If healthy eating is at the top of your resolution list check out these easy ideas for making healthy eating work for you! Healthy eating: make it a New Year’s resolution

12 grapes8. Celebrate around the world! While the strike of midnight in the Hudson Valley might be a bit too late for the little ones it’s always midnight in another country. Set the clocks around the house to the different time zones, research some New Years traditions from around the world and celebrate as if you were there. In Spain they ring in the New Year eating 12 grapes. (The 12 grapes on a stick photo along with many other great ideas to celebrate with kids found on You can dine on Spanish cuisine, get dressed up and dance around the living room to beautiful Spanish music. In Swiss homes, the people drop spoonfuls of whipped cream onto the floor to symbolize the richness of the new year to come. I’m sure the kids would love this tradition! To find out when 2015 starts around the world click here:


9. Make your own Noisemakers. Pinterest is filled with awesome crafts you can do with the kids on New Years eve. I am loving the idea of making our own noisemakers like these from or these wishing wands from

10. “On New Year’s Eve, kiss the person you hope to keep kissing”. For me this New Year’s Eve no matter where or what time we are celebrating I am lucky to be with the ones I love. Whether your year was filled with great joys or loss and struggles, I hope you take a few minutes to reflect back on some of the happy moments from 2014, find something worth learning from the struggles and start a fresh new year full of love, compassion, wealth and gratitude.

May your New Year be filled with joy, adventure, love and many wishes come true.

I would love to hear some of your New Year’s Eve traditions! How do you celebrate the coming of the New Year?

Dare I say the winter that would never die has finally passed and we can FINALLY, FINALLY (no for real this time) enjoy some summer time activities? Woo hoo!

For us, summer begins a flurry of travel plans, exciting adventures and new places to see.  I feel like our social calendar fills up so quickly it’s easy to lose track of the simple things summertime offers. My girls are 3 ½ this summer which means they can enjoy a greater variety of activities this year. This age is when those warm memories start to really take hold. I want to share the lazy parts of summer with my kids as well as the excitement of big adventures.

This year we are making a Summer Bucket List!

Get as fancy as you want when making your list

Get as fancy as you want when making your list

Making a summer bucket list is a fun way to add new adventures, make memories and keep traditions alive. We made our list by first checking out local sites we keep meaning to try. We added a few new hiking places, some old hiking places and parks/museums that offer free admission days.  I layered in a few summer staples I want to be a memorable part of my girls’ childhood- like making s’mores, snuggling by a camp fire, eating ice cream for dinner and watching fireworks. I didn’t forget about those rainy days that catch us by surprise. I sprinkled in a few rainy day activities to keep us busy and to make some memories with; like dancing in the rain, a puppet show, making a fort and a Disney movie marathon.  I am excited to wake up each day and choose our own adventure!

Display list in a frame and use dry erase marker to check off items

Display list in a frame and use dry erase marker to check off items

Here are some tips for making your own Summer Bucket List:

Keep it simple. If you put too many big adventures on your list that require a lot of planning, travel time and money it may feel more depleting than memorable.

Check your local resources. Are there free hiking trails, picnic areas, beach areas you can use? Many libraries have free museum passes to loan, and they offer free programs throughout the summer. Check out Hudson Valley Parents Places to Go for more ideas.

Set an intention for the season. Are you looking for more family time? Are you looking to slow down and enjoy the simple life? Do you want to start a family project, or get more involved in your community? Maybe take a “staycation” and explore what your local area has to offer. Use a our local trip planner to make your planning easier.

Consider what stage your kids are in.  For the under 2 crowd maybe a simple list of things to accomplish with them. Like learn to blow a bubble, see grandma for the first time, or try a new park. If your little one is more mobile and ready for some action you can try group activities like a new story hour, make a new friend at play group, or try swimming in a pool.  Don’t forget about all the free sample classes at your local Little Gym/Gymboree, Music Together and other “mommy and me” type classes.

The fun part is getting the whole family involved! This way everyone has something to look forward to. Display your bucket list where everyone can see it and take turns checking off completed items.

Display your list or make an interactive list by using cards you pull out of a bucket

Display your list or make an interactive list by using cards you pull out of a bucket

The completed list becomes a great keepsake for any scrap book. Hey make that one of your bucket list items- scrap booking your summer!

Find your FREE printable bucket list here!


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