Category Archives: Family

Guess What We Did Yesterday…

More importantly, guess what my husband did yesterday! Check it out:

That’s my husband Mike front and center (in the blue shirt) at the New York Stock Exchange, ringing the closing bell to celebrate Foot Locker Inc’s 100th year of trading. No big deal.

(OMGSOFREAKINGAWESOME!!!!!!!!!)

While he was doing that, the kids and I engaged in our own shenanigans. We window shopped at the Lego Store, ate from a Halal cart, rode subway trains galore, hunted for dinosaurs and whales at the American Museum of Natural History, and hit up Toys R Us & the Disney Store in Times Square.

Oh hi there, polar bear! The Hall of Ocean Life at AMNH might just be my children’s new favorite place on the face of the earth.

Once Mike was done, we caught up with him to eat dinner at Junior’s and then headed over to the High Line, a 1.5 mile long elevated park built on an old freight rail line. How I’ve never heard of the High Line before, I’ll never know, but one thing I do know is we’ll be back there every time we go into the city. If you’re ever in NYC, be sure to check it out and take a beautiful little urban hike.

Sunset view from the High Line.

We had such a fun time and managed to keep our day trip mostly frugal: total travel, food and purchase costs were under $150 (half of which was our dinner splurge rolleyes). As a family we don’t go away on “big” vacations  (although we do try to visit Cape Cod for a few days in the off-season), but that allows us to fit smaller “staycation” outings like this one into our budget. Also, we’re lucky to live in an area with so much to offer, such as trips to NYC, the beach, camping, etc. There’s something really cool and fun about taking the time to discover what your own backyard has to offer.

Do you “staycation”? If so, what are some of your favorite local things to do for fun in lieu of going away on vacation? Share with us in the comments section below!

Advertisements

Make It a Kid-Friendly New Year’s Eve Celebration!

I’ve always loved ringing in the new year low-key style in my jammies on the couch with my main man, Dick Clark. Don’t get me wrong, I can totally get down with the sparkly excitement of a New Year’s Eve party. But this old soul is more “old” than “soul” these days as the clock hits midnight.

If you’re like me, ditching the babysitter and staying cozy at home with the kids this New Year’s Eve, here are 22 low cost tips to keep the celebration alive and fun!

1. Decorate. Make it feel more like a party by hanging paper streamers and balloons. Head to your local party supply store and stock up on fun decorations for the big night, or make your own.

2. Create your own balloon drop. Tape a paper tablecloth loosely to the ceiling, and fill it with inflated balloons. At midnight, pull it down for an exciting celebration.

3. Make homemade “confetti poppers”. Have the kids create “confetti” with colored paper and a hole punch. Fill deflated balloons with the confetti using a funnel, inflate and tie closed. At midnight, pop the balloons!

4. Make party hats. Nothing screams “I’m celebrating New Year’s Eve!” like wearing a goofy party hat. Have the kids decorate their own with glitter, rhinestones and other fun embellishments.

5. Make “gingerbread” party hats! Use upside down ice cream cones as the base for this fun edible craft. Little kids can cover their own cones with frosting, and then decorate them with candy for a tasty version of the New Year’s Eve tradition.

6. Do New Year themed crafts. You can find tons of fun NYE crafts, educational activities and free printables at the following links: familyfun.go.com, enchantedlearning.com, apples4theteacher.com and activityvillage.co.uk.

7. Have a sleepover in the living room. Many kids want to stay up until midnight to watch the ball drop, but just in case they don’t make it you can set up sleeping bags or an inflatable mattress so they can cuddle up and sleep when the time comes. Just remember, if they’re ready for bed before 12, kiss them goodnight and remind them that when they wake up in the morning it will be the new year!

8. Have a family game night. Play board games, Charades, Pictionary, card games, or family friendly group-oriented video games such as the Wii.

9. Watch a movie. Go see a pre-party matinee or hold an all night movie marathon (don’t forget the popcorn) in your living room.

10. Read books. Head to your local library and check out titles like Happy New Year Everywhere by Arlene Erlbach, Squirrel’s New Year’s Resolution by Pat Miller, Cecil’s New Year’s Eve Tail by Marie Fritz Perry, or Shante Keys and the New Year’s Peas by Gail Piernas-Davenport. Don’t forget to keep your eyes open for great non-fiction readers also!

11. Cook a family meal together. Include each and every small pair of hands in the process, and then sit down together to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

12. Opt for apps. Making finger foods and appetizers instead of a main course meal keeps the “party” vibe going. Tiny portions for tiny people = instant hit.

13. Bake a cake/cupcakes. Celebrate the “birthday” of the new year with a yummy treat.

14. Cheers with “mocktails”. Give the little ones sparkling juice (such as apple, grape or lemonade), ginger ale or even an alcohol-free version of our favorite celebratory concoctions & include them in the midnight toast!

15. Make a list of family resolutions or a family bucket list for the upcoming year. Think of all the things you might want to do or accomplish as a family and record them all. Post your checklist in a place where everyone can see them for motivation!

16. Reflect on your favorite moments. Sit down as a family and share the most memorable events of the past year. You’ll be surprised at what little kids remember or what memories they may cherish the most.

17. Make a family time capsule. Take a shoebox or similar sized container and fill it with your favorite photos of the year, pictures drawn by the kids, and letters written by every family member. Next year, open the box and enjoy all of the cool treasures, and create a new time capsule to open next New Year’s Eve.

18. Celebrate your way around the world. People all over the world celebrate the new year in different ways. Sit down with your kids and learn about the unique New Year’s traditions from different countries. Who knows, maybe you’ll decide to incorporate a few of them into your own family holiday traditions!

19. Celebrate at noon. Instead of doing a midnight countdown, counting down the minutes to 12 pm is more conducive to the earlier bedtime demands of young children.

20. Watch the Times Square NYE celebration… early. If you’re lucky enough to live on the West Coast, tune in to the Times Square celebration and have the kids in bed at a decent hour!

21. Watch the London NYE celebration… early. If you’re an East Coaster like us and can’t keep the kids up until good ole Dick Clark announces the new year, google “live London New Years Eve broadcast” and tune in to their version of New Year’s festivities 5 hours before ours start.

22. Reset the clocks. Part of the excitement of being little on New Year’s Eve is getting to stay up WAY past bedtime. If you’re not down with the subsequent grumpies that the following morning will bring, set the clocks ahead a few hours to celebrate early, and then get those sleepyheads in bed at a decent hour.

Whatever you decide to do, have fun and enjoy the night! I wish you a happy New Year and I’ll see you all in 2012!

I’m curious, will you be staying home or heading out to a party to celebrate the new year? Let us know in the comments section below!

Did you like this article? You can get all the latest posts at Gingerly Homemaking in your email inbox by clicking the link below and entering your email address. Your address will only be used for mailing you new posts via Feedburner, and each one will include a link so you can unsubscribe at any time.


The Complete Homemade Holidays DIY Gift Guide Roundup

Here’s a recap of my Homemade Holidays DIY Gift Guides, all in one post for your crafting convenience! Click on a link to be redirected to its tutorial.

For Her:

Click here for the Homemade Holidays DIY Gift Guide: For Her

1. Friendship Bracelets

2. Dip Dyed Shirt:

10. Cabochon Post Earrings
      

For Him:

Click here for the Homemade Holidays DIY Gift Guide: For Him

1. DIY Monogram Mugs

2. Etch-a-Sketch iPad Cozy

3. Suitcase Table

4. Pegboard Tool Organizer

5. Homemade Zen Garden

6. 8-Bit Mario Blanket

7. DIY Comic Book Coasters

8. Upcycled Golf Club Cozy

A club head cover made from a sweater will dress up a golf game and keep an old sweater out of the landfill.

9. Etched Mustache Glasses

10.  Vintage Book E-Reader Cover

         
For Kids:

Click here for the Homemade Holidays DIY Gift Guide: For Kids (Part 1)

Click here for the Homemade Holidays DIY Gift Guide: For Kids (Part 2)

1. Homemade Playdough

2. Recycled Crayons

3. DIY A-Frame Tent

4. Felt Play Mats

5. A Box of Rocks

6. Invention Kit Bags

7. I-Spy Bottle

8. Dollhouse Out of Drawers

11.  Cozy Car Caddy

12. Toy Soap

13. Car Mat Backpack

14. Doll Suitcase

15. On the Go Felt Storyboards

16. No Sew Tutu

17. Children’s Tool Belt

18. Homemade Watercolor Paint Set

19. Homemade Finger Paints

20. Hopscotch Mat

                

For Pets:

Click here for the Homemade Holidays DIY Gift Guide: For Pets

1. Recycled Cardboard Kitty Pad

2. Pup’kin Biscuits

Pup’kin Biscuits

3. Easy No-Sew Fleece Dog Bed

4.  Cardboard Cat Playhouse

5. Suitcase Pet Beds

6. 9 Fabulous Handmade or DIY Pet Beds

7. Bird Seed Ornaments

8. Catnip Fish Toys

9. Organic Homemade Pet Treats

2010_11_29_mchin01.jpg

10. Fish Tank Christmas Tree

Sweet and Savory Food Gifts:

Click here for the Homemade Holidays DIY Gift Guide: Sweet and Savory Food Gifts

1. Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies

2. Peppermint Bark

3. Homemade Magic Shell.

magicshellsm

4. Beef Jerky

Picture of Beef Jerky Recipe

5. Homemade Cheddar Cheese Crackers

6. Homemade Granola

2009_08_06-Granola01.jpg

7. Eggless Cookie Dough Bites

cookie dough bites

8. Homemade Butterfingers

9. Hot and Spicy Pecans

10. Wine

And are a few more links to tasty gift worthy treats:


What homemade gifts have you made/are you making this Christmas? Share with us in the comments section below!

Did you like this article? You can get all the latest posts at Gingerly Homemaking in your email inbox by clicking the link below and entering your email address. Your address will only be used for mailing you new posts via Feedburner, and each one will include a link so you can unsubscribe at any time.  Subscribe to Ginger(ly) Homemaking by Email

It’s Christmas in Halloween Town

It absolutely amazes me how small children bask in the comfort of repetition; able to read the same bedtime story every night for a year, play the same board game 5 times in a row, watch the same movie over and over and over… and over… and over again. It really started to get under my skin when Finding Nemo became a quasi-permanent fixture in our DVD player. I will forever grit my teeth at the sound of Ellen DeGeneres’s voice. Slowly and methodically, my children have instigated a sense of perpetual annoyance towards a growing number of my favorite childhood movies.

But the month of October always seems to bring forth my nerves of steel, impervious to the drone of familiar dialogue and film scores emanating from our television set. Last year, I relished watching Little Shop of Horrors every day for a month. This October, despite watching it a million times in 29 days, The Nightmare Before Christmas has managed to hold its position at the top of my list for favored kid’s films (And before you go ripping into me for letting my preschool-age children watch too much television, you don’t have to waste your breath because I already know it. I welcome the distraction when I need a shower, have twenty loads of laundry to fold, or am on the cusp on consuming an entire bottle of wine to numb the headache from my daughter meowing like a cat for twelve hours straight).

I’ve never been able to figure out if The Nightmare Before Christmas is a Halloween movie or Christmas movie. In the true spirit of my confusion it happened to snow today here in New England, two days before Halloween (hence the film homage in the post title).

Apparently the "land of four seasons" is now the "land of three and a half seasons".

Despite all the snow, I’m still in a Halloweenie kind of mood, so here’s a little sneak peak into our October festivities.

Apple carving:

"Hey Larry, you think they'll recognize us at the costume party?"

Jack O’ Lantern Craft:

Five little pumpkins, hanging above the door. One got annihilated, and then there were four.

Handprint Ghosts:

Quite possibly the cutest craft project ever.

Sparkly Spiders:

Painting and Glitterizing Gourds:

First the painting...

...then the glitterizing.

And finally, Halloween Costumes:

Me: “What do you want to be for Halloween this year?

Chris: “An Optimus Prime big rig truck!

Emma: “Stormcloud!

Me: “What’s a stormcloud?

Emma: “She’s an X-Man, silly goose!

Me: (combination deep breath/long sigh/eye roll) “Okay, I’ll see what I can do.

not yo' mama's homemade halloween costumes.

In your opinion is The Nightmare Before Christmas a Halloween or Christmas movie? Aaaaaaand I’m curious, if you have kids do they have a certain movie that they love to watch over and over again? Let us know in the comments section below!

 

 

 

A Few Notes on Death.

I know it’s poor form to abandon a blog after only two posts, but I promise I have a good excuse or ten up my sleeve (and no, my dog did NOT eat my blog… even if I had a dog I imagine blogs taste something like a cross between a person’s innermost thoughts and keyboard germs, uh, soooo not tasty). A death in the family, followed immediately by a week long “vacation” has been cause for my absence. Winding down now and getting ready to re-enter our regularly scheduled programming, I thought it would be a good idea to let you know I haven’t forgotten about my treasured audience in this tiny corner of the interwebs. So hello folks, and welcome to a little episode of what I call “the brain drain” (otherwise known as getting stuff off my chest).

Two weeks ago tomorrow, my grandfather passed away. Being the first death in my family during the course of my adult life, it seemed like a much more surreal experience than I remember the last instance of losing a loved one to be. Considering the last instance was at the tender age of 10ish and involved watching Snoop Dog music videos in my grandparent’s den, getting my ears pierced and eating a crap ton of food, much has changed from my previous recollection of death (actually there was still a crap ton of food, but everything else was different). Alas, my poor brain now comprehends, death is so much more than a ten year old’s excuse to do strange things on strange days and eat a lot of food. A few things that I’ve learned from this new perspective:

1. My children, any children, react so individually to death that there is little to do to prepare ourselves as parents to handle the situation. As soon as I learned of my grandpa’s passing, I decided that there was no good reason to not tell them as soon as possible what what going on. I sat down and explained to them matter-of-factly that Grampa Dougie’s body stopped working and he died. I spoke so carefully, making sure not to use terms like “lost” or “gone” in an attempt to not confuse the simplest of minds. My 3 year old daughter wrapped her brain around my words right away and started to cry (most likely because I was crying, but I know she legitimately understood the sorrow in what happened). My 4 year old son asked if the doctor could fix him again (“no”). He then asked if my grandmother was going to go to the store and buy a new Grampa Dougie (“no, grampas are not like toys, you can’t just replace them when they break”). He then asked when we could go see Grampa Dougie because he really wanted to show him a new toy truck that he had recently acquired (“um, no, Grampa Dougie is dead”). He then asked if we could see him tomorrow when he comes home (“again, no, Grampa Dougie is dead“).  He then asked when we can see Grampa Dougie so he can show him his new toy truck (no words this time, I just hugged him too tightly and let him go to play with his toy truck). I anticipated saying out loud that my grandpa was dead to be the most gut wrenching experience of my life, but in all honesty, it was rather therapeutic.  It floored me however, that my youngest embraced the actuality of my grandfather’s death while my oldest was refusing to accept the idea of someone in his life being gone indefinitely.

2. In the wake of death, life goes on. There is no pause button; there are still mouths to feed, bills to be paid, underwear to be changed. More importantly, there are still tears to be cried and laughs to be had as we move on and celebrate the life of the people we miss so dearly.

3. Allow yourself a moment to say goodbye. In the days between my grandfather’s passing and his memorial service, it felt like auto-pilot kicked in. There was planning to be done, errands to be run, meals to be made, and sleep. We all went through the daily motions in the midst of emotional upheaval with the straightest of faces, with the occasional tear falling. I felt so incomplete during the course of those four days. It was not until that Saturday morning, as I stood and read a few poems in remembrance of my grampa to a church full of his most beloved family and friends did I experience the emotional relief of saying goodbye.

4.  It’s okay to cry. Or scream. Or laugh. Or vomit. Or joke. Or shake. Or talk. Or sing. Or run. Or hug. Or take a nap. Or pout. Or hide. Or dance. Or sob. Or smile. There is no right or wrong way to mourn.

The single most important thing that I learned is this:

If I end up to be half the person my Grampa Dougie was, I’ll be alright.