Tag Archives: kids

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!

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In the Kitchen: Self-Serving Snack Box Tutorial and Healthy Snack Ideas for Kids

1 fruit + 2 veggies + 1 "other" = snack box success!

This is a snapshot of a typical day at our house:

(While I’m doing a load of laundry) “Mommy, I’m hungry!”
(While I’m scrubbing the toilet) “Mommy, I’m hungry!”
(While I’m exercising) “Mommy, I’m hungry!”
(While I’m in the bathroom, shower, or otherwise momentarily indisposed) “Mommy I’m sooo hungry!”
(While I’m washing dishes… right after breakfast/lunch/dinner) “Mommy, I’m sooo hungry I’m going to starve and die if you don’t feed me unreasonably colossal amounts of food right noooooooooooow!”

It’s enough to drive a crazy person even crazier.

I’ve approached the situation from numerous angles. Here is what I’ve tried:

  • “No” = Fail
  • “No” + trying to reason with a 3 and 4 year old that they just ate and shouldn’t be hungry = Fail
  • “At least wait until I’m off the toilet/done paying bills/have washed the bleach off my hands” = Fail
  • Allowing my children liberal access to the fridge = Fail (you’d think this would work, but they just whined that they couldn’t find anything to eat and hounded me to find them a snack)

I was ready to throw in the towel and set up a permanent residence in my kitchen, since it was becoming apparent that I wasn’t allowed to leave it lest my kids become hungry and need another snack. But in a wonderful twist of fate, I came across a photo that someone posted on Facebook of a Tupperware full of snacks. The caption indicated that they fill the Tupperware each day with a variety of healthy snacks and leave it in an accessible place in the fridge for their child to graze on throughout the day. THIS! This was the answer to my conundrum. I wish I could find the original source and give credit where credit is due, but I can’t seem to hunt it down. So to the genius who passed along this life saving idea: Thank you, you are golden.

So how do you set up a snack box for your children? First, find a non-breakable container that will hold a few assorted snacks. I used plastic food storage containers from Ikea, but you could use Tupperware, a small shoe box, brown paper bags, lunch boxes or sacks, or even those plastic takeout containers.

Next, pick snacks. I take advantage of my children’s grazing habits to fulfill the fruit and vegetable guidelines, knowing that they’re more likely to nibble on a veggie if it’s at their leisure rather than when it’s a requirement on their dinner plate. I use a “1 fruit/2 veggies/1 other” formula to decide what goes into our snack boxes. Here’s a list of possible options for creating your own snack box:

Fruit:
1/2 banana
apple or pear slices
segmented orange
grapes
berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, etc)
stonefruit (ie peach, plum, nectarine, etc)
2-3 prunes
applesauce
kiwi slices
dried fruit (apricots, apples, mangoes, banana chips, etc)

Vegetables:
baby carrots or carrot sticks
broccoli spears
cauliflower florets
frozen peas or green beans
kale chips
tomato slices or cherry tomatoes
celery with nut butter or cream cheese
cucumber slices

Other:
popcorn
graham crackers
1/2 muffin
goldfish or other small crackers
yogurt
granola or granola bar
veggie straws or pretzels
nuts and raisins or dried cranberries (trail mix)
roasted chickpeas
hard boiled egg
cheese cubes, slices or string cheese
rice cakes
sunflower or pumpkin seeds

*For children who are apprehensive about eating plain raw veggies, you can include something tasty for dipping:
hummus or other bean dip
guacamole
ranch dressing
cottage cheese
cream cheese or sour cream mixed with herbs
peanut butter dip
marinara sauce
salsa
yogurt
ketchup

The containers in the photo above are silicone baking cups that I picked up at Bed Bath and Beyond. They’re the perfect size for holding little people portions of food. No worries if you don’t have those, you can use little sandwich baggies or any other small food container you might have. I’ve also recently stumbled upon bento lunch boxes that would be perfect for snack boxes and eliminate the need for using individual snack containers.

You’ll want to find a spot in the fridge that is easily accessible for the kids so they can grab and go without hounding you as you’re honing your inner Grammy Award winning superstar shaving your legs in the shower. Or, you know, pooping.

Lastly, sit down with your children and tell them that if they’re hungry in between “designated feeding times” (yes I run my home like a zoo, mwuahahaha) they can help themselves to whatever is in their snack box without having to ask. Explain that they can eat that food whenever they want, but when it’s gone it’s gone. So if they eat it all by 10 in the morning they’re going to have to starve in silence until lunch, regularly scheduled snacktime and/or dinner, because they’ve been pre-warned of the consequences of overindulging. I guarantee you the first couple of times they might excitedly gobble up all those snacks faster than you can blink, and then come to you 5 minutes later with tears of hunger streaming down their cheeks, begging for more food. Don’t cave in to their wily demands. Slowly but surely they’ll learn the concept of self-regulating and only eating as much as they need to at a given moment.

Try incorporating healthy snack boxes into your daily routine if your little ones are perpetually hungry food hounds like mine. I promise you’ll start hearing less of the “H” word in no time.

On a side note, this whole snack box idea has gone over so well with the kids that I might start making one for myself. As a stay at home mom the fridge has become a regular haunt, as well as my own best friend/worst enemy. Having pre-portioned healthy snacks at my fingertips might just help keep my boredom/mindless snacking habits in check.

What healthy snacks would you fill your snack box with? Share with us in the comments section below!

Homemade Holidays: The Valentines Day Edition

One of my all-time favorite childhood memories is making our own valentines to share with classmates each year. My mom would crack open the red and pink paper, scissors, glitter, stickers, glue and doilies and we would go to town for a crafternoon at the kitchen table (yes, I just said crafternoon, and yes, I am a total nerd). I loved to personalize my cards – there were always a few extra shiny heart stickers on the valentines for my best friends and (later on) the boys who I thought were the cutest. The highlight of the whole experience was handing them out in class and receiving cards in return. Sure, I was always excited to get a super rad Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles valentine from a bestie, but there was always an unspoken connection and respect for my fellow homemade valentine makers.

Here’s a roundup of valentine tutorials you can do this weekend that are sure to earn you major points this Valentine’s Day.

1. Handmade Paper Doily ValentineDoilies are the ultimate Valentine’s Day craft supply. I’m pretty sure every handmade Valentine’s Day card I ever made involved doilies. Subsequently, every handmade Valentine’s Day card I ever made was awesome. In conclusion, doilies = awesome.

Handmade Paper Doily Valentine via kidsfunreviewed.com

2.  Heartbreaker Valentines: I absolutely love this idea. I love it so much, it’s on my to-do list for this Valentine’s Day.

Heartbreaker Valentines via danamadeit.com

3. Crayon Hearts: Oh, Martha. I heart you.

Crayon Hearts

Crayon Hearts via marthastewart.com

4. Go Ahead {Burst} My Bubble Valentine: A brilliantly unique alternative to your standard Valentine, and bound to be a huge hit with your garden variety “search and destroy” type child.

Go Ahead {Burst} My Bubble Valentine via thegunnysack.com

5. Heart On A Chain: I know this is a craft aimed at pint-sized recipients, but I would totally love to receive one of these handmade clay heart bracelets for Valentine’s Day.

Heart On A Chain via ohhappyday.com

6. Paint Strip Valentine’s Day Cards: A more “grown up” approach to Valentine’s Day cards with paint swatches. And dirt cheap, it’s a winner!

Paint Strip Valentine's Day Cards via countryliving.com

7. 14 Days of Love: This valentine reminds me of those coupon books, but less likely to get lost at the bottom of a sock drawer.

Pinned Image

14 Days of Love via dotcomwomen.com

8. Lollipop Photo Card Valentines: Did I save the best for last? Of course I did! Go grab your camera and an exacto knife and get crackalackin’ on this cool valentine project.

lollipop valentine photo easy

Lollipop Photo Card Valentines via designmom.com

Why We Homeschool

Emma, taking over daily story time duties.

I first learned about homeschooling when my son was just about to turn 3.

“When does he start school?” was a common conversation starter at that time. It never really occurred to me that 3 year olds went to school. I actually attended nursery school when I was in my pre-kindergarten years, but that was just playing and finger painting and napping and reading and engaging in copious amounts of Ring Around the Rosie. It was more like one big play day everyday, more like something we were already doing.

We already do that stuff at home, I would think to myself, as “oh, I don’t know, maybe next year” would come out of my mouth as a default answer before quickly changing the subject.

After the first half dozen school inquiries came (fast and furiously, mind you) I got a little neurotic and started googling our local preschools, nursery schools, classes, programs… times… prices… payment plans. The idea of preschool lost me at payment plans.

I then switched my googling strategy to finding alternative ways to educate my children, preferably fo’ free. What I found were nine bazillion articles on homeschooling.

Pshaw, I thought, I will NOT be having friendless, socially defunct children who are stuck at home all day. And anywho, I’m not qualified to be a teacher.

Despite my serious skepticism, I looked into homeschooling a bit more. Actually, I spent about a thousand hours researching endless reports, articles, personal accounts, basically anything I could find regarding at-home education. After considering both sides of the fence, in the end I decided that educating my children at home is something that I can do. It is something that anyone can do, if they have the time, the patience, and the determination. The fact that I don’t have a formal degree in education might mean that I’m not qualified to teach rooms full of children, but my own two are an entirely different ballgame. I brought them into the world without a degree, I taught them how to eat, speak, walk, listen, respect and love without a degree. I mean seriously, what’s a little fact learning along the way?

One might worry that my children aren’t learning the important art of socialization by not being in a classroom full of other kids a few hours a week. Rest your fears, my kids are perfectly fine. We go out in the world, we attend story times, field trips, play dates, parties, family functions, local children’s activities, we go to playgrounds and museums and libraries where there is frequently an abundance of little people. My children have a regular group of friends that we’ve met through our local homeschool group. I don’t hide us under a rock or succumb to other reclusive tendencies, and my homeschooled children, as well as thousands of others, are perfectly socialized.

My son Chris is about to be 5 years old. Next September he qualifies for public kindergarten enrollment. It would be easy to send him off and “lighten my load” Monday through Friday. If he asks to go to school, I won’t say no. But this home-learning journey of ours is going well and I’m not quite sure that I want to send him off. I’m learning alongside my children, and I’m not talking about ABC’s and 123’s. I’m learning about how to embrace my children’s ever-changing personal interests with enthusiasm, how to flourish and fail alike with perseverance and dignity, how there is always more to learn about any single topic, how to ask for help, and how to grow a child.

Homeschooling is a personal choice for us, and it may not be a good fit for everyone. There are many reasons to homeschool (or not to, for that matter). When people ask us why we homeschool, my answer is this:

“It works for our family.”

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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!

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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

Homemade Holidays DIY Gift Guide: For Kids (Part 2)

If you missed part 1 of the Homemade Holidays DIY Gift Guide for kids, click here to check it out!

Here are a few more ideas to get your creative juices flowing on those handmade Christmas gifts for the kids:

1.  Cozy Car Caddy: If you’ve got a car-crazed kid in your life, this neat little car caddy is the perfect addition to their hot wheels obsession.

Cozy Car Caddy via homemadebyjill.blogspot.com

2. Toy Soap: What better way to get your kids excited about bath time than a little toy-in-my-soap action? They’ll be eager to lather up, knowing that each trip to the tub gets them closer to the prize inside.

Toy Soap via artsyants.blogspot.com

3. Car Mat Backpack: Here’s another awesome car-related DIY project for your automobile aficionado.

Car Mat Backpack via icanteachmychild.com

4. Doll Suitcase: This is a homemade version of popular “fold & go” playsets, and it’s just too precious. Don’t limit this idea to your standard “girl toy” doll set, you can create pirates, super heroes, explorers or even animals!

Doll Suitcase via hartandsew.blogspot.com

5. On the Go Felt Storyboards: Colorforms for the homemade movement? Yes please!

On the Go Storyboards via thefeltmouse.blogspot.com

6. No Sew Tutu: I made a no sew tutu for my daughter two years ago, and she still puts it on frequently and prances around my living room pretending she’s a ballerina. When we have play dates, it’s a favorite plaything of her friends. Every little girl needs a tutu in her arsenal of dress-up clothes, and this one couldn’t be easier to whip up.

No Sew Tutu Tutorial via skiptomylou.org

7. Children’s Tool Belt: My kids have these. My son uses his to carry his cars, his blocks, his toy drill. My daughter stuffs hers with princesses, jewelry, rocks and plastic animals. They both put them on as aprons when it’s time to bake.

Children's Tool Belt Tutorial via one-hip-mom.blogspot.com

8. Homemade Watercolor Paint Set: This is just super cool.

Watercolors To Go Tutorial via onegoldenapple.blogspot.com

9. Homemade Finger Paints: Here’s another cool tutorial to foster the creative minds of the young! Parents will appreciate this chemical-free recipe for fun.

Homemade Finger Paints via easiepeasie.blogspot.com

10. Hopscotch Mat: This is the ultimate rainy day boredom buster, and any kid would love to be able to whip out one of these for some indoor action when the winter weather starts to induce those cabin fever blues. Bonus: the backside of the hopscotch mat holds a few more fun games!

Hopscotch Mat via kimboscrafts.blogspot.com

What homemade gifts are you making for the little kids in your life this holiday season? Let us know in the comments section below!

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

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

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

Stay tuned to this blog for upcoming DIY gift guides for pets and edibles!

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