Category: Family Fun

Friday Favorites – Valentine’s Day Traditions

Valentine’s Day is only days away and I realized I haven’t posted anything about the holiday yet! To be honest, I have never really been a big fan of Valentines’ Day.  Don’t get me wrong I love eating all the pretty chocolates and I do enjoy getting some flowers from time to time. But to celebrate a day to love my friends and family seems silly when I love them every day! OK most days, but still more than one day of the year.

I’ll never forget the first Valentine’s Day my husband and I celebrated he did all the cliché things to try to win my heart. He cooked a fabulous dinner, bought me roses, and gave me a piece of jewelry and a box of chocolates. I gave him …. a pair of boxers with hearts on it. And a card. In my defense, we had dated only two months by this point and I thought it would be premature to go all out for one day. After that he got the message I am a practical girl and I like to share my love every day in the little things I do for my loved ones.

So we don’t really have any Valentine’s Day traditions. We do something new every year like visit a museum or an aquarium. I make their favorite dinner and bake them a cake because having dessert on a Tuesday screams special in our house. But the one tradition that I do keep every year is one that my mother started with me, I write my girls a love letter. They are too young to read them now, so I tuck them away in a special box for safe keeping. When they are old enough to read on their own I will share with them. These are the gifts that keep giving, these little treasures that we put away and only revisit when we need them.

This year we plan to relive our very first family Valentine’s Day by going out to dinner at the same restaurant and stopping for chocolate at the same little shop we did nearly six years ago. We don’t need big gifts to say I love you, and I have certainly outgrown the need for jewelry. I am happiest when we are all healthy and spending our time together laughing.

Click on the links below to see some other fun ways we’ve celebrated Valentine’s Day together at home.

I HEART SCIENCE I shared this fun science experiment last year with my local readers at Hudson Valley Parent.

TRUE MARK OF FRIENDSHIP We made these cute paper craft book marks for our classmates that I found on krokotak.com

 

GALENTINE’S DAY – That time I took an aerial yoga class with my mom friends.

THE POWER OF CHEESE The year I threw together stuff for my kids preschool class.

 

What is your favorite part of Valentine’s Day? Feel free to leave a comment below, or join the discussion on Facebook!

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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There’s No Crying in Christmas

It is no secret I struggle with perfection all the time.  Perfection sneaks up on me when I least expect it. Like when my family wants to decorate the Christmas tree. Anyone else out there ever have a melt down over a Christmas tree? It seems we all have our own idea on what the tree should look like, but we all want the same thing- to enjoy sitting in front of the twinkling lights. This year I am giving myself a pat on the back and celebrating the first time in a long time I did NOT absolutely lose it over a tree.

CHRISTMAS PAST

I typically drag the giant fake tree up the stairs from the basement by myself, set it up in the corner and spend an hour defending it from my kids while I hastily spiral the lights around the tree. I tend to skip the garland because I am so annoyed and go right into freaking out about the cluster of 20 ornaments my kids place on the same branch. Then I have to wait for hubby to come home and put the star on top because, even with a ladder, I am too short. Then we take turns arguing fussing over the placement of ornaments.

It isn’t hard to understand why hubby and I end up battling over the way the tree goes up. As a perfectionist I have a vision and I want to recreate it in exact detail and with precision. My husband, being methodical and highly logical will have a completely separate (convoluted) idea of how the tree should look.

CHRISTMAS PRESENT

This year I witnessed a small miracle when hubby put the tree up without being asked ten times. The kids kept a reasonable distance from the tree so there was no one to step on (or cry about being stepped on). And I didn’t offer “suggestions” about fluffing the artificial branches to look real, nor did I follow behind him reworking every strand of lights he put up. [Insert choir of angels] Everything felt pretty sensational until my husband mentioned stringing the beaded garlands on the tree. I froze. “That’s OK we don’t need them this year,” I offered nervously.

You have to understand that I brought these beaded garlands into our marriage from my childhood home. My family and I hung them a specific way, the same way, year after year. Now he is about to ruin my tradition of perfectly balanced symmetry by hanging them haphazardly in non-conforming variations.

“I know let’s alternate the silver AND the gold strands!” he replied with enthusiasm. I felt my right eye twitching as I visualized both silver AND gold decorations on the tree. This goes completely against tradition and good taste.

I might have had a small aneurysm.

He must have sensed my spiraling panic when he suggested, “why don’t you sit down and relax”  and handed me a rum and eggnog. That helped.

I sat down and watched (painfully) as he and the children worked to get the decorations on the tree. It took a lot of work inside my soul to not straighten out every crooked line of garland, or to recalibrate every mismeasured strand. I had to dig really deep to keep my cool when he got to the very top of the tree and had 4 ft. of left over garland. Note: This is why you start at the top of the tree so you can ditch the extra strands on a bottom branch in the back of the tree! But I didn’t say that. I put my head between my knees and took more deep breaths because I couldn’t watch him wrap the excess around the tippy top of the tree at the base of our star. When he was through I sat upright to catch my barrings and I waited for the branches to give way under the weight. Thankfully, I was wrong. It even looked OK.

It was time to hang the ornaments. Per our history together, this is where the magic dies. I hate all the ugly handmade ornaments my husband has had since Kindergarten that he insists on hanging up every year. He is a grown man hanging mangled glitter on my tree. As much as I try to hide them every year he finds them. Now I have actual Kindergartners hanging their mangled glitter on my tree and they can tell if one is missing! So there is no hiding of ornaments, or throwing them away. I am completely out numbered. But I tell myself to let it go. (I’d say this rum is really working).

This year, I turned a blind eye to the mishmosh and let the ornaments fall where they may. Yoga breaths helped ease the escalating hysteria in my mind as the children began hanging several decorations on the same branch. [Inhale] “In with the joy!” [Exhale] “Out with the control!” Just as I was patting myself on the back for not taking over the decorating, my daughter said, “this feels like good times.”

CHRISTMAS FUTURE

As we took a step back to admire the tree I realized that by letting go of my idea of perfect decorations, our tree turned out pretty perfect after all. There was no yelling, no crying and no trauma for my children to share with future therapists.  The tree has an eclectic vibe, but everyone has their favorite ornament on the tree where they can see it. I actually love our tree this year because watching my family experience this tradition with joy makes me happy. Who knew all it takes is me giving up my need to control things (and a little rum) to make lasting family memories.

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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3 Simple Christmas Traditions for Young Families

Christmas can be such a stressful time of year for most folks. But add to that sleepless nights, colds, teething, temper tantrums and just trying to keep your kid from knocking over the Christmas tree you worked so hard to put up, and you’ve got the perfect storm for a holiday that isn’t any fun.  Well, since I started reading The Whatever Mom (Roxanne is my mama spirit animal), I’ve come to the conclusion that often less is more. My main goal with motherhood is to keep my sanity and have kids who are happy and healthy.  Here are 3 things we do at our house to simplify Christmas with our 17 month old, while still making it memorable and fun for our family, and something we can look back on fondly.

Holiday Traditions

For our family, the easiest way to guarantee fun each year and make the holiday special is to start a family tradition (or two). It doesn’t have to be anything complicated.  We use a fun little Christmas plate for meals starting the day after Thanksgiving and we break out the advent calendar.  Not a lot of work to grab these two out of our attic and they’re so cute in pictures each day.  Here’s one of our banana and pancake breakfast this morning!  

lukes-breakfast

You can find similar plates just about anywhere.  I believe we got this one from the dollar section at Target, but if you shop online you can have it shipped directly to you and you don’t even have to leave your house. (See shopping links below).

We also like to use an advent calendar to count down until Christmas.  It makes for a fun little daily tradition and cute pictures too! Here’s one from Pottery Barn, which holds up great, but if that’s not in your budget this year, you can make a paper chain or coloring chart, or look for one that’s half off at the end of the season!

advent-calendar-pottery-barn-kids

No Fuss Decorations

When you have young kids, they want to touch and hold and play with e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. So put away the $100 crystal ornament you inherited from your great grandmother; and the sentimental (breakable) ornaments you got the first year you were married. Instead, fill in those spaces with some fun ornaments your kids help you make.  It will give them hours (or at least several minutes) of fun and they will have keepsakes they can take with them some day.  Most craft stores have little wooden ones for a dollar or two that can be colored-in with markers.  If you’re really brave, you can even get out the paint!

wood-ornaments

Plan Ahead

Making a plan may sound like work, but it can actually give you peace and sanity this time of year.  Talk with your husband (or co-parent) and your kids (if they’re old enough) about what activities are most important to them.  Then, make a list of 3-4 activities that you know are doable, and make a plan to do just those activities.  You might be surprised what means the most to you and your family.   

Our list typically looks something like this:

  1. Set up Christmas Decoration
  2. Take Family Photos for Christmas Cards
  3. Visit the trains at the mall (They have an Amazing electric train display at our mall, that our little guy LOVE to go see).
  4. Make cookies
  5. Go look at Christmas lights

The great thing about planning ahead, is now we don’t have to think about what we want to do and no one is left feeling like they didn’t get to do what they wanted.  As an added bonus, if things don’t go exactly as planned, it’s OK!  Didn’t get a chance to make cookies? That’s OK! We’ll buy some festive ones from the store or local bakery.  Our little guy got sick last year during the week of Christmas and we opted not to take him out to look at Christmas lights, but we’re hoping to this year!

Spending time with each other is the most important thing this time of year so make sure to carve out a little time to relax, drink some cocoa, enjoy some wrestle snuggle time and watch a Christmas movie or two.  You’ll be glad you didn’t overwhelm yourself with a huge to-do list this year!

peter-and-rosieRosie Bynum is a boy mom and owner of The Dinosaur Clothing Boutique. Her son Luke and husband Peter help her run the family business. Check out all the adorable creations on her website, Facebook and Instagram.


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Friday Favorites- Mail Order Mystery

Mail Order Mystery

My kids have always enjoyed a good book, and now I am so excited they love a good mystery! Getting to piece together clues and connecting characters and plot twists is something they really enjoy. So when I heard about Mail Order Mystery I needed to know more! I contacted them directly for a chance to review and try out a subscription and they very generously said yes.

You can select a theme for your mystery experience and we selected The Enchanted Slumber. For six weeks we were excited to run out to our mail box to see if a new package arrived. Inside were letters, documents, mysterious objects and clues. My kids became so engaged with the story before the final story was ever revealed!

The very first letter included an official document notarizing the authenticity of the sender, a Knight. Our knight in shining armor encouraged us to practice our knightly skills, which my kids took very seriously every night before bed. They also loved the wax seal on the letter. This small detail blew their minds and really drew them to find out more about how wax seals are made. This took us on a new fact finding mission and sparked a new discussion about knights, castles and medieval life.

Mail Order Mystery Letter

As the weeks progressed we received puzzle pieces engraved with “ancient” symbols we had to decode. My kids could not wait to gather around the kitchen table after dinner so we could help them solve the riddle! We wondered how these clues would all add up in the end!

Mail Order Mystery Sample

I won’t share much more about what we received because I don’t want to spoil the fun. But I will share that my kids were so pleased by the entire experience! They truly enjoyed the final installment where everything was revealed and all the clues were laid out in the story.

Here is how it works:

Visit Mail Order Mystery website, sign up for your mystery and pick your start date. There is also a treasure hunt I can’t wait to sign us up for! You can preview what items will arrive each week, but that might take away the fun of the mystery.

An email will arrive sharing with you when the first package is shipping, and again when the last package is shipping. This way you know when to expect the mystery to begin and end.

Enjoy checking your mail!

That’s it! Brilliant right?

The mysteries are geared for kids ages 8 and up, or for kids ages 6-7 with help. My girls are just shy of turning six, but really enjoyed making this a family activity. None of the stories are scary, or limited to a specific gender audience. That means boys and girls alike will enjoy these stories.

I think this is an amazing gift idea for your niece or nephew, grand kids or the kid who already has everything to play with. A fantastical experience of the imagination that lives on well after the last sentence is complete! This was such a great experience for my family!! We truly LOVED it!

Financial compensation was not received for this post. All honest opinions shared, and spell binding adventures taken, belong solely to The Whatever Mom. This post does not contain affiliate links. 

 

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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How To Embrace Your Sensory Friendly Halloween

sensory-friendly-halloween

If you have never heard of sensory processing disorder you are not the only one. Most parents do not know what this is until their child is diagnosed with the disorder. The difficulty is that even with a diagnosis, you as a parent may have no clear and final definition of what makes your kid tick. Every kid is different and it can take time to identify your child’s sensory triggers.

According to the website Understood.org, children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) “may be oversensitive or undersensitive to the world around them. When the brain receives information, it gives meaning to even the smallest bits of information. Keeping all that information organized and responding appropriately is challenging for them.”

As unique as your child is, so is the way their brain processes things like smell, taste and touch. Some kids never notice the feeling of a tag on their shirt, or the seam in their socks. But there are kids who are so distracted by this sensation that they can cry or scream, or even become aggressive. If you have a kid with sensory issues you are not alone! One in twenty children live with some varying degree of sensory processing disorder. Navigating daily life can be a struggle, let alone having to wear an itchy costume in a crowded, loud setting.

Both of my children have mild sensory issues which mostly involves volume levels and large crowds. When they were little I didn’t take them very far on Halloween. The year we let them choose on their own which houses to stop at was the year they decided they liked trick or treating. Now we let them take us as far as they want to go, we carry extra snacks and we call it quits when they get overwhelmed. We begin our evening slow and head home in time to hand out treats.

I polled some of my mom friends who are in the know about sensory processing and the sensory demands of Halloween. The best piece of advice: is to not force your child beyond their limits. Halloween activities are for their enjoyment and it is OK to let them enjoy activities in their own way. If your child can only handle wearing a small piece of their costume, or no costume at all, let that be enough. My friend Erin shares that one year she let her son go as himself at his request. “Thankfully the people around us accepted that. And he had a great Halloween because he could do his own thing.”

MOM TIPS

Select a costume that is mask free, or does not require face paint. Let your kids use their own familiar clothing as part of their costume to help them enjoy dressing up. For kids with auditory sensory issues, using noise cancelling headphones works great. For kids who are sensitive to bright lights, start your trick or treat night as early as possible and take advantage of the day light. If your child tires easily map out a short route, or bring along a wagon to let them take a break. And again, it’s OK if you cut your time short and head back home early.

PRO TIPS

Being a parent of a child with sensory issues can feel overwhelming, but imagine being the child who is struggling to process so much sensory information at once. It can provoke a lot of anxiety not knowing what is happening next. Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant Gina Bergdall suggests allowing your child to carry a fidget toy. This will allow them a constructive “place to focus their anxiety on.” Bergdall also shares these tips provided by the American Occupational Therapy Association. 

It may also be helpful to pick only a few places to trick or treat and review that plan with your child before hand. If they know they are only going to 5 or 6 houses nearby, they can feel a sense of control ticking the number of houses off the list. Seeing familiar faces can also make them feel more at ease.

HOW TO EMBRACE

If your child is overly sensitive to crowds or noises there is no rule that mandates they go trick or treating. You can make some really amazing traditions right at home. Bake some great treats, make a fun meal together, or if they want to, let them help with handing out candy. Invite the grandparents or family over for pizza and a movie. There is no wrong way to participate in Halloween! Staying at home where it is familiar may be just what your child needs to celebrate comfortably.

I get it moms! Having to make these kinds of accommodations often feels like our children are missing out on experiences other kids get to have, or the experiences we had as kids. But really, the holiday is about our kid’s enjoyment. If that looks different than the way other families celebrate, that’s OK. Embrace your unique traditions! If your child is comfortable at home watching Halloween specials and eating popcorn, join them! Deciding to follow their lead helps them feel capable! Plus, sharing a special night in together as your Halloween tradition is way more relaxing than walking around in the cold wearing a cookie cutter costume.

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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Friday Favorites- Hike it Baby & Oakiwear for Kids

friday-favorites-1

One of the best things to happen to me this year is discovering Hike it Baby. An ad popped up in my Facebook news feed and it is one of those things that I didn’t even know I was missing until I experienced it. Hike it Baby (HIB) is a non-profit organization dedicated to getting families together and into nature with their newborns and children. It was founded in 2013 by new mom Shanti who didn’t want to hide inside her house with her newborn, but was weary of going out alone. She asked some of her friends from her local mom group if they wanted to go out for a walk, and so it began. What started with five hikers in one city turned into 115,567 hikers in over 250 cities in 2016.

I barely like to walk to get the mail let alone take a hike. Even though the outdoors was never my thing (unless you count sipping a daiquiri on the beach), I knew I had to give this a shot. With three young boys I needed to learn to love the outdoors. It’s only fair to them that I get them out there and let them explore.

Hike it Baby

I became hooked at our very first meet up! We went on 3 more hikes that very first week and a dozen more since then. There are numerous different hikes that you can attend, or lead, from a fast paced hike to kid-led wander. Each hike is detailed by the hike leader and they will note things such as ‘baby carry only” or “stroller friendly.” To find a local HIB group simply enter your zip code in the search bar at hikeitbaby.com. Along with the website, you can follow local HIB chapters closest to you on their Facebook group pages. This will help you keep up to date on hikes being offered and meet some people you will be hiking with. You may start off the hike as strangers, but by the end you realize everyone is ready to help each other out. From borrowing carriers to suntan lotion to making sure that nobody gets left behind.

Since starting our hikes, I am more confident with physical activities overall. I’m going to places that I didn’t even know existed in my own area, and I find the spectacular views rewarding. It has been an inspiring way for my family to stay active, develop life skills, respect nature, and form new friendships in a judgement free zone.

hib-2

Hike It Baby has a great line up of sponsors like our favorite, Oakiwear! It only makes sense that HIB would partner up with other companies who believe in the power of spending time outdoors as a family. Not only am I a #boymom but I’m also outnumbered by my three sons (1, 3 and 5-year-old). Regardless if we are going on a hike, playing in our own back yard or running errands – it’s bound to be an adventure.

The designers at Oakiwear understand the planning and after care of being outside with children. From the amount of extra clothes used in jumping in puddles or streams, to the possibility of knee scrapes along the way. They want to make life with kids easier by providing the best possible gear for our little ones.  It is no surprise that the folks at Oakiwear understand what’s important to kids and parents, because it was founded by a mother of twin toddlers. If anyone understands the need for affordable yet well-made gear, it is a parent!

hib-4

One of their most popular items is their rain/snow boots. We have a few pairs of boots between all of us and nothing comes close to Oakiwear. They are completely lined with neoprene, the tread is thick and durable, and the high cut keeps the weather elements out. My favorite feature is the built in handles which make it a cinch for a child to put on by themselves. When you are trying to get out the door with several little ones anything that they can do themselves is a lifesaver! Oakiwear offers a great variety of colors for the snow/rain boots and super cute patterns for the rain boots. We went the always classic, bright red!

hib-3

Both Hike It Baby and Oakiwear websites have some informative and relatable blog posts. My personal favorites are how to make vacation fun for children and Learning from a “Hike Fail.”

Do you take your kids hiking? 

#oakiwear @oakiwear Facebook Instagram: oakiwear

 

Gloria DarmaninGloria Darmanin is a three time boy mom and completely outnumbered. She works hard to spread awareness for childhood cancer, authentic inclusion for persons with disabilities and gender equality. When she isn’t hiding from the kids she is off planning her annual St. Baldrick’s event and dreaming of ways to make money for charity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Hilarious Things My Kids Say

Kids can be the most unintentionally hilarious people. They might make an observation that is 100% true, but no adult would ever say out loud. Or, they mispronounce a word that alters what they’re trying to say. Or, it could just be a word they cannot completely remember how to say, and the version that comes out is off just enough to be adorable.

kids

One of my older girls is five and doesn’t pronounce the word ‘pattern’ correctly. She pronounces it ‘patter-in.’ She is starting Kindergarten and  I should correct her, but I love that little reminder that she’s still so young and not just my grown up girl going off to school on her own.

Both of my older girls still routinely say ‘lellow’ instead of ‘yellow’ as well. I feel like it doesn’t hurt anything, and most words they’ve learned I make sure they can say correctly, but yellow and pattern I just can’t bring myself to correct. I’m sure in no time they will have grown out of mispronouncing those words and my sweet, little girls will talk to me like older girls; with no reminders of the toddlers they used to be.

My husband was singing ‘Mambo #5’ the other day and the girls wanted to learn it. My oldest was trying to sing back the words and kept saying ‘everyone in the clubhouse go ride’ instead of ‘everybody in the club say come on let’s ride’ because of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse show. I mean, that’s adorable, and even though we corrected her a few times, I still think it’s hilarious and awesome that she’s putting Mickey’s Clubhouse in the song.

Just like my girls my son has his hilarious moments too. He has the best mispronunciation. He’s turning 3 this summer and has an amazing vocabulary, but struggles with fire truck. In fact, for a few months he couldn’t say ‘truck’ at all without it coming out as ‘f*ck’.

fire truck 1

‘Mommy! Fire F*ck!’

Now, I know it’s a bad word, and I shouldn’t encourage him to say it, but I can’t correct it. It’s hilarious! He’s already started to grow out of it and says fire engine about half the time now.  Usually he says the ‘tr’ in truck, but for those months he mispronounced it I would simply smile when were out.

Sometimes I can get too caught up in being busy and getting things done and I forget my kids are just little. They don’t have the same patience as me, or view of time, or ability to wait when they ask for something. So when my older kids say they ‘have a loose toothes’ or ‘their teeths came out’ it helps remind me that they’re not adults yet, They are still kids and I need to enjoy them now, before they totally grow up on me. I will never get these moments back.

When my son is being crazy and literally bouncing off the walls because he’s a 2 year old boy, and then he says ‘Look! A big f*ck!’ when we drive by a semi-truck, it makes me laugh when I might not have otherwise. Eventually these will just be stories that I tell about my kids when they were little, but for right now they are my everyday life. I’m going to enjoy it and if I happen to take the back road by the fire station instead of the main road to go to the grocery store, that’s just my wanting to share a laugh with my kids.

Comment below to share some of the hilarious things your kids say. 

Jennifer at Sweet DiscordJennifer is a stay at home mom with two sets of twins. She copes with having four kids ages 5 and 3 with wine, desserts and cooking. But at the end of the day she wouldn’t trade her crazy life for anything. You can read more from Jennifer at Sweet Discord.

 

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Friday Favorites – Favorite Activities This Week!

School is officially out for summer and we are just humming away at play time. We are only at day 5 but so far my kids wake up ready to play. Whether it is outside on the swings, or dressing up in our toy room they are eager to get their day started. We are also working on keeping our skills current during the summer months. I don’t want to make anything formal and make it feel like school is still in session, so I have found a few fun activities that we just incorporate into our daily routine.

FREE PRINTABLES

We are absolutely loving this free Goldfish cracker alphabet printable from Totschooling.net! The last few mornings I have left the letters stacked up next to a bowl full of the kids favorite snack crackers just inviting them to play. They get really excited to line up the crackers on the letters and they move the letters around to create words, or practice spelling their names. This is also really great for toddlers just learning letter recognition. Sit them at the table to enjoy while you tidy up, finish a phone call or just relax for a minute.

gold fish crackers

ART SUPPLIES

A few months ago we made our own water color paints in ice cube trays. I forgot all about them until this morning when my kids pulled them out. I wondered why things were suddenly very quiet… too quiet. They made their way into the art bin and pulled out the paints and paper, filled up their little cups with water and started painting. I find that making art supplies accessible for my creative kids makes it easier for them to grab when inspiration hits.

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WATER PLAY

It hasn’t been terribly hot since our vacation started, but my kids don’t really care. The just want to run through the sprinklers or fill up the water table. I recently introduced them to the beauty of water balloons on their last day of school. They were so excited to finally give them a try. I previously banned water balloons from our yard, but now they are old enough to pick up all the pieces.

sprinkler-926779_640

BOOKS ON CD

My kids absolutely love music and stories. I purchased a bunch of half priced Barefoot books from a friend going out of business. I put them aside to bring out through the year. Each day my kids grab a new book and pop in a CD. They listen to it as back ground while coloring, or read along with the book. It keeps them busy and gives me a whole lot of quiet.

odysseus

PRACTICING SCISSOR SKILLS

My kids have terrible scissor skills. I don’t want to add more work to our day, but they need to practice a little through the summer. We are making collages by cutting pictures out of magazines and gluing to a page. Sounds super simple, but it really helps work those fine motor skills. We like to warm up by squishing some play dough first. The only down side to this project is we had a Scotch tape shortage by day 3 because we ran out of glue sticks by day 1.

magazines

PRACTICING WRITING SKILLS

My kids also need to practice their hand writing skills. I dread this because I usually get frustrated. My girls have ZERO focus on writing. No matter how little they need to write, or how fun the project is one of us ends up in tears. Thankfully, a fellow mom and occupational therapist gave me some great tips to keep my kids focused. She suggested using a yoga ball so the kids can wiggle while they work and offering crunchy snacks while they work. I’ve also gathered up some local pals to exchange letters with this summer. Hopefully all of that will be motivation enough for them to keep practicing.

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These are our favorite things so far! We plan to enjoy so much more during our summer break. Ten days from now it could all fall apart, but for now I am really enjoying keeping busy with the kids!

What are your summer plans?

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia and The Novice Mommy.

 

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The Benefits of Getting My Kids Out and Moving

The Benefitsof Keeping My Kids Moving

When my kids get exercise they are a lot less whiny and a lot less lazy. When we sign them up for sports, they have a place to focus their energy and make new friends. I have four boys, and all of them but my two-year-old play soccer. That doesn’t stop him from trying to cross the white line and see if he can help his brothers out every Saturday, because he loves to kick the ball around. In the winter they play basketball.

With school getting out soon I need to step up my own game and get them moving each morning. Most days I try to take them for a walk or to the park before the sun makes the slides too hot to play on. Every time I decide to have a lazy day and let my kids watch Netflix, I pay for it. They spend the day arguing over everything and they don’t want to do anything. Sometimes when they get like that I make really dumb decisions and take them to the store just so we can get out of the house. That right there is proof that once you have kids you lose brain cells. Letting them run around outside is more likely to snap them out of their orneriness.

If I can preempt the drama by getting them outside first thing then my kids are more pleasant to be around for the rest of the day. I’ve tested this time and time again—because I like lazy mornings—but the results are always the same.

I read over this study showing how exercise benefits boys academically (in addition to saving me from excessive whining). It concludes:

Higher levels of physical activity at recess were related to better reading skills and participation in organized sports was linked to higher arithmetic test scores in grades 1-3. Particularly boys with higher levels of physical activity, and especially walking and bicycling to and from school, had better reading skills than less active boys.

Interestingly, the academic benefits of exercise was not as significant in girls. The full study can be found here.  But if you just want a run-down of the parts you actually care about, go here!

I don’t need a study to tell me that when my kids have a physical outlet for their energy they are a lot less cuckoo, but it was encouraging to see it actually helps them become better learners.

Other than participating in sports, here are a few activities that will give your kids some exercise: run through the sprinklers, go for a bike ride, play “Just Dance” on the Wii or XBox, jump rope, hula hoop, or play a good old-fashioned game of tag!

How do you keep your kids active?

Amber Amber Christensen is a mom to four boys, a blogger and the author of  Memoirs of Mayhem: The Good, The Bad, and The Hilarious. She is learning to find the humor in her parenting, which she shares on her blog Watch This Mom. You can also find her on InstagramFacebook and Twitter!

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Friday Favorites- The Muddy Puddles Project {Giveaway}

There is a strong magnetic pull between a child and a muddy puddle. Before you can stop them they are already splashing away with a smile from ear to ear. I used to shout at my kids, “No! Don’t!” whenever they approached a muddy puddle. Now, I embrace every second of it. I changed my mind about splashing in puddles when I read a blog post about a boy named Super Ty.

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Ty was just five years old when he passed away from brain cancer. It broke my heart to read his mother’s story how Ty would look out his hospital room window and dream of jumping in muddy puddles (much like his favorite character Peppa Pig). Ty’s dream inspired The Muddy Puddles Project, a completely volunteer driven fundraising platform.Their mission is to raise funds to help scientists discover less toxic, less invasive and more effective treatments for children with cancer. I love everything the Muddy Puddles Project represents: celebrating childhood, finding the fun in messes and not sweating the small stuff. The more I learned about the Muddy Puddles Project and the TLC (Ty Louis Campbell) Foundation, the more passionate I became about supporting childhood cancer awareness.

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It’s no wonder Pie Face is the official game of The Muddy Puddles Project!

My family will again attend the Muddy Puddles Project’s Mess Fest held at Kiwi Country Day Camp in Mahopac, NY. This year the 4th Annual event takes place on Saturday July 30th from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is an all day adventure of messy fun! Your kids will love getting to splatter paint, run the “slopstacle” course, toss a cream pie, enter food fights, toss water balloons, zip line, climb walls, paddle boats, enjoy live entertainment, play games, jump in bounce houses and swim in the pond or pool. There is so much more! Like the crowd favorite GIANT MUD PIT where you can sign up the whole family to take the “dirty dunk.”

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4th Annual Mess Fest Flyer

The dirty dunk takes place from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the main Mess Fest event. Your $100 donation (per participant) will include your ticket to the event, a professional photo capturing your moment and a fun memory to last a lifetime. Raising the $100 donation amount is easier than you’d imagine. My family held a garage sale and lemonade stand and we easily raised more than half of that in just a few hours. Don’t forget it all goes toward helping find a cure for childhood cancer (which is priceless!).

Muddy Puddles Dirty Dunk
Taking the dunk with my son in 2014

Tips Before You Go:

  • Print out your tickets ahead of time to avoid lines.
  • As messy as this event is, there are plenty of chances to clean up before heading home. Stop by the fire truck to hose off, or towel off and change in one of the onsite bathrooms.
  • All parking is off site with continuous shuttles via school bus. (We were able to bring our stroller with us).
  • Bring a change of clothes, a bathing suit, towel and sunscreen.
  • No coolers are allowed on site, but you can bring water bottles and small snacks for the kids. There are multiple food vendors where you can get lunch, treats and extra drinks.
  • Check out the map before you arrive to get an idea of how everything is laid out.
  • Bring a camera! There is a pretty good chance you will run into Peppa Pig this year’s Celebrity Ambassador and charitable partner!
Kiwi Country Day Camp
Map of Kiwi Country Day Camp

Visit the Muddy Puddles website to learn more about how to host a mini-mess fest in your own back yard or local park and other ways to get involved. Getting kids involved with Mess Fest is a great way for them to engage in philanthropy and it encourages them to have fun while doing good!

********EXCLUSIVE GIVEAWAY*******

Just for being a reader of the The Whatever Mom you could win a FAMILY 4 PACK of tickets to the 2016 Mess Fest happening on Saturday July 30th in Mahopac, NY! Winner announced in my next Friday Favorites blog post on June 17th.

Get ready to feel like a kid again! Enter to win below, or click here to purchase your tickets. (FOR A VERY LIMITED TIME you can get early bird pricing of $10 off the regular event admission price!).

“Let your kids jump in muddy puddles whenever they want. Let them get wild with finger paints and glitter. soon they’ll be all grown up and see the dirty clothes and wet shoes as nothing but a nuisance. It’s beautiful that children can find such joy in the simple things that we no longer appreciate as adults.” -TLC Foundation

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Gloria DarmaninGloria Darmanin is a three time boy mom and completely outnumbered. She works hard to spread awareness for childhood cancer, authentic inclusion for persons with disabilities and gender equality. When she isn’t hiding from the kids she is off planning her annual St. Baldrick’s event and dreaming of ways to make money for charity.

 

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