“Spring Bucket List” – 25 Fun Things to Do

A spring wreath

I think spring is finally here! Better late than never….It is fun to create a “Spring Bucket List” and to come up with activities both you and your kids will enjoy. I have created “Bucket Lists” now for all seasons and I have an overall “Life Bucket List” too.

Here is my “Spring Bucket List”: (Might give you some ideas to create own)

  1. Adventureland (Farmingdale, NY) and/or Dutch Wonderland (Lancaster, PA)
  2. Buy some tulips/daffodils
  3. Get a ride on the back of a Harley Davidson motorcycle (This is on my personal “Life Bucket List”!)
  4. Go on a scavenger hunt with the kids in NYC (or in your local area)
  5. Enjoy the beauty of Brooklyn Botanical Garden or NY Botanical Garden
  6. Make a trip up to the Cloisters (Fort Tyron Park)
  7. Buy some scented candles and soaps at Bath and Body Works (Love, Fresh, Sunshine, Smile, Love, Happy sound like fun scents to me!)
  8. Have a picnic (weather permitting)
  9. Hiking and/or walk around the lake at Bear Mountain State Park
  10. Plan a NY getaway – Iloveny.com
  11. Stay at a hotel with an indoor pool
  12. Take a walk on the Hi-Line in NYC
  13. Travel out east to the Hamptons and the North Fork, LI in the off-season (Pick up some Rose Wine at Croteaux Vineyards – one of our favorites!)
  14. Go to the local park and play basketball
  15. Go to a baseball game
  16. Drive-in Movie Theater (Link to the 5 closest ones to NYC)
  17. Circle Line Cruise or Double Decker Bus (Who says you can’t be a tourist where you live?)
  18. Walk 10,000 steps a day
  19. Stand outside the Today Show with a sign
  20. Have a “Kaffee und Kuchen” (Coffee and Cake) Playdate
  21. Go to the NY Transit Museum
  22. Fly a Kite and sing “Let’s go Fly a Kite” from Mary Poppins
  23. Go Ziplining (Link to The Adventure Park at Long Island)
  24. Go for family bike rides (with helmets of course!)
  25. Go to doggie park with Max and Bella (our dogs)

Mommy Poppins® also has Top 100 Things to Do with your Kids Before They Grow Up in NYC and Long Island . Good stuff…

What is on your Spring Bucket list?

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Going on a scavenger hunt can be a great way for you and your kids to explore an area.

Through April 7 with scavenger hunt and NOFO 075  Through April 7 with scavenger hunt and NOFO 071Through April 7 with scavenger hunt and NOFO 074

Last week, the girls and I did a scavenger hunt in New York City. I created a list of 50 items I thought we might see. We had a really fun time on our “hunt”and we took pictures of many of the items we saw. I thought I would share the scavenger hunt I created:

NYC Scavenger Hunt for Kids and Adults:

  1. Water Tower
  2. Taxi
  3. Empire State Building
  4. Macy’s
  5. Trash Can
  6. Dog
  7. Tree
  8. Ant/Bug
  9. Food Street Vendor
  10. Statue
  11. Slice of Pizza
  12. Street Musician/Acrobat
  13. Stairs
  14. Street Lamp
  15. Graffiti
  16. Scaffolding
  17. Time/Temperature Sign
  18. Little Bird
  19. Building between five and ten stories tall
  20. Grass
  21. Double Stroller
  22. Fire Truck
  23. Police Car
  24. Mailbox
  25. Family with 3 kids
  26. Park Bench
  27. Yellow Flowers
  28. Person wearing Sunglasses
  29. Person speaking a Foreign Language (not English)
  30. Bus (extra point for Double Decker Bus)
  31. Fruit Stand
  32. No Smoking Sign
  33. Outdoor Table with Chairs
  34. Billboard
  35. Cash Register
  36. Person wearing a Baseball Cap
  37. NYC Souvenir Vendor
  38. Church
  39. Starbucks
  40. Escalator
  41. Bathroom Sign
  42. Red Car
  43. Someone wearing Orange Shirt or Sweater
  44. Suitcase
  45. Subway Sign
  46. Flag (extra point for American Flag)
  47. Bagel Store or Person eating a Bagel
  48. Sign in a Foreign Language (not English)
  49. Person Drinking a Soda
  50. Sign which has the words New York or NYC on it

This past weekend, I created another scavenger hunt for our weekend in NOFO (North Fork, LI).

Through April 7 with scavenger hunt and NOFO 127

NOFO Scavenger Hunt for Kids and Adults: 

  1. Carousel
  2. Croteaux Vineyard
  3. Aldo’s Coffee
  4. Goat
  5. Ferry/Boat
  6. Lavender Farm
  7. Fruit Stand
  8. Firewood for Sale Sign
  9. Seagull
  10. Beach
  11. Ice Cream
  12. NOFO Sign
  13. Playground
  14. Fish (real or picture)
  15. Wine Bottle
  16. Green Car
  17. Gazebo
  18. Real Estate Sign
  19. Map of North Fork
  20. Dog
  21. Oyster (real or picture)
  22. Anchor
  23. Grapes
  24. Flowers
  25. Lighthouse

Some of you may be on spring break and I wanted to share this quick and easy activity you can do with your kids when you’re on vacation or even locally in the area where you live. Have fun exploring!

After a few years of being a first time dog owner, we have learned a great many lessons along the way.

a double dog photo

Our puppies(dogs), Max and Bella celebrated their 2nd birthdays this past week. I thought it would be nice to reflect upon the lessons we have learned being proud parents of these two furry children.

 14 “Dog Parenting Lessons” we have learned so far:

1 – Unconditional love – Max and Bella are always excited to see us, snuggle with us and provide great companionship.

2 – Getting two dogs at the same time was a good idea. – At first everyone thought we were crazy and so did I, but they play nicely with each other (most of the time) and keep each other company when we are not home.

3 – Crating puppies is helpful for housetraining, general training and a safe way to transport your puppies. – We have not “crated” our dogs in a long time, but it was very helpful in the beginning. We now restrict them in an open pen/enclosed area when we are not home. It keeps them safe and out of mischief.

4 – Avoid certain foods and don’t give them too much food. – Never give them raisins, grapes, onions and chocolate. Until I had dogs, I had no idea these items (especially chocolate) could be very dangerous for them.

5 – Give them one or two toys at a time. – If you give them too many toys, they may not know your shoes are not a chew toy.

6 – Teaches kids great sense of responsibility – We all know who is doing most of the work (me!), but at least our daughters know they have to help with walking, feeding and taking the dogs to relieve themselves. They do what they can with a smile when asked.

7 – Favorite Dog Products 

Grannick’s Bitter Apple Spray – taste deterrent which prevents destructive chewing

Kong Dog Toy – favorite chew toy which we usually fill with peanut butter and then put in the freezer. The frozen peanut butter will keep them busy for a longer period of time.

Nature’s Miracle Advanced Stain & Odor Remover – smells nice and helps prevent repeat accidents in the same place in your home.

8 – Puppies are like toddlers; you can’t leave them unattended. They may eat small items (erasers, pencils, etc. ). Be careful of the chewy toys which squeak because if they eat the “squeaker”, you may need an emergency visit at the vet. (Luckily, this has never happened us.)

9 – EST every dayExercise (walking the dogs), Socialization and Training are important for dogs, but this winter was a bit tough to keep up with regular exercise. Keep in mind walking dogs is regular built in exercise for you.

10 – You meet a lot of people in your neighborhood – it’s a great way to meet your neighbors!

11 – When dogs bark, there is usually a reason – We can now recognize by the sound of their bark if they are hungry, need to go to the bathroom or if someone is coming to the door before they ring the doorbell/leaving a package.

12- Dogs just want to please us and really enjoy belly rubs. – They like positive feedback and recognition – don’t we all?

13 – They love to get their rest, relax and play. We could probably all benefit from learning these “skills” from them.

14 –Travel requires more planning – While you lose flexibility to just get up and go away for longer periods of time, the love and affection we have received from Max and Bella is well worth it! Can’t imagine our lives without them!

Happy Birthday Max and Bella. We love you!

 

Take your children to NYC museums. They foster learning and creativity.

Guggenheim Photo

If you live near New York City or are planning a trip to visit NY with kids (or without), I highly recommend visiting the museums. It’s so interesting to get your children’s perspective when they look at pieces of art, large skeletons of dinosaurs, etc. Very often the museums have activity guides for the kids. It also provides them with an appreciation for the arts.

These are some of our favorites: ( Highlighting tips with a star *)

1) Metropolitan Museum of Art (aka MET)

* Suggested general admission is $25 for adults and children under 12 are free.

* The museum is huge and family intinerary guides can help you manage your visit.

* When the weather is warmer, don’t forget the amazing rooftop garden which provides a great view of the city.

2) Museum of Modern Art (aka MOMA)

*  Admission is $25 for adults and children under 16 are free.

* Admission is free for all visitors during UNIQLO Free Friday Nights, held every Friday evening from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m., but it is very crowded. I would avoid it.

* Andy Warhol, Picasso, Van Gogh’s Starry Night – kids loved these!

* They have an audio guide specifically with highlights for children.

3) Guggenheim Museum

* Admission is $25 for adults and children under 12 are free

* Pay what you wish Saturdays (5:45-7:45), but also very crowded

* Take the elevator to the 6th floor and walk down the spiral walkway. The shape and design of the museum is part of the fun!

* They have a wonderful activity guide for children.

4) American Museum of Natural History

* Suggested general admission is $22 and children are $12.50.

* Dinosaur exhibit and big blue whale are a must, but plan which other exhibits you want to see because you can’t see them all in one visit.

A few more general tips:

* If you are fortunate enough to work for a company which is part of a museum’s corporate membership program, you may even get in for free to many of the museums in New York City.

* Our local library in Long Island offers free museum passes to library card holders to the Cradle of Aviation, Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum; Guggenheim Museum; Nassau County Museum of Art and Old Westbury Gardens.   You may want to check if your local NY library does the same.

* Remember to tell the kids not to touch items in these museums because the security guards will be telling (yelling at) them not to get too close.

There are so many museums in NYC. These are just a few of them. Explore and go on a fun adventure with your children. Great way to spur creative thinking and spend quality time with your family. Enjoy!

God works in mysterious ways. Miracles do happen.

Angels

I can’t remember the exact date, but it was 1999 and my mother had been diagnosed with colon cancer for the 2nd time. We met with the surgeon who said he could not operate because the cancer had metastasized. Chemotherapy for the rest of her life was the treatment. That seemed like a death sentence to me and I was determined to explore options.

After the meeting with the doctor, I went back into the city on the train. I was mentally drained and exhausted. When I looked up, I saw a friend from high school I had not seen in years. I truly feel God put this friend (angel) on the train for me to meet that day. That “chance” meeting is the reason my mother is still here and alive today.

Long story short, my friends’ coworker’s mother in law had a similar colon cancer diagnosis and suggested we get a 2nd opinion from Dr. Sugarbaker at the Washington Cancer Institute, Washington Hospital Center, in Washington, D.C. He had an innovative treatment which consisted of surgery and heated chemotherapy in the affected area where the cancer was. I won’t go into all of the details, but the point being she was a viable candidate for this surgery, the treatment worked and my mother is still here 15 years later. We are all extremely grateful.

I feel my mother’s situation was truly a miracle. When I meet someone who is impacted by cancer, I pray to God to help them find the best information/treatments for their situation. Had I not met my friend on the train that day, I don’t know if I ever would have found out about Dr. Sugarbaker.

I hope I can be that “angel” to help someone else some day. Miracles do happen.

 

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month. Be aware of your family medical history.

Did you know colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the US, the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined, can very often have no symptoms, but if detected early has a 90% cure rate?

It’s important to be aware of your family medical history. My mom is a two time colon cancer survivor and I already have a few colonoscopies under my belt. They are really not a big deal; the prep is far worse than the actual procedure. At age 50, everyone should treat themselves to a colonoscopy (even if you don’t have family history). No one wants to talk about “that area down there”, but if more people did we would have far fewer cases of colon cancer.

Your family history should not be ignored. It’s still going to be there even if you choose to ignore it. Preventive maintenance is key. Do it for yourself and your children.

The following information provides more details on colorectal cancer symptoms and was pulled from the Colon Cancer Alliance website. This organization provided my family with phenomenal patient support/information when we needed it 15+ years ago.

” Colorectal cancer first develops with few, if any, symptoms. It is important not to wait for symptoms before talking to your doctor about getting screened. However, if symptoms are present, they may include:

* A change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool

* Feeling that your bowel does not empty completely, rectal bleeding, or finding blood (either bright red or very dark) in your stool

* Finding your stools are narrower than usual

* Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas, pain, or feeling full or bloated

* Losing weight with no known reason

* Weakness or fatigue

* Having nausea or vomiting

These symptoms can also be associated with many other health conditions. Only your doctor can determine why you’re having these symptoms. Usually, early cancer does not cause pain. It is important not to wait to feel pain before seeing a doctor.”

Thanks for reading this post. It is all about awareness. If you or someone you know is 50+, please ask them to make an appointment for a colonoscopy. You could be saving someone else’ life or even your own.

 

Teach your children people and relationship skills.

A handshake

Will it be possible to have a non-digital conversation 20 years from now? I am saddened when I see children out with their families and on their electronic gadgets not having conversations with one another at a restaurant. This is an opportunity for families to connect and talk about what is going on in their lives.

Here are five small things parents can do to foster “people” skills in their children:

1- No tech gadgets at the dinner table/restaurants: We had lunch at Benihana (one of our favorite family restaurants) and sat across from a family of five. Each of the 3 children was on their own electronic gadget and adults the same. No one was talking with each other; it made me sad. Say “no” to tech gadgets when eating meals. Focus and enjoy your food and conversation.

2- Ask questions of family members: I did this on our past family vacation. I asked family members what lessons they have learned in their lives. It led to very interesting interesting conversations. The game Table Topics is also a great way to help get the conversation going.

3- Selling Girl Scout cookies* door to door vs selling them online: Initially, I was so excited about the Girl Scouts going digital with online sales, but then I thought about it. The whole art of the sale is lost because who is setting up the online site? Me and not my daughters…There is no personal interaction and work presenting yourself and the sale. So we will continue to go door to door to build those relationship skills

* It may not be Girl Scout Cookies, but at some point your kids may have to sell something to raise funds for an initiative.

4- Firm handshakes (from a previous post)

Ever since the girls were little, I would play this game with them: “Let’s pretend we are meeting for the first time; what would you do?” They would then shake my hand, look me in the eye and say “It’s a pleasure to meet you.” I would explain to them it’s always important to look at people in the eye (at least in America it is) and give them a nice solid handshake (I hate “wet fish” handshakes). It’s a basic networking skill, but I know they will continue to be able to use it during their lifetime.

5- Teach your kids the importance of “Thank You” – When one receives a gift, you want to acknowledge the gift. I think the ideal situation is to write a handwritten note 24 hours after you have received the gift, but let’s be realistic. I think in this electronic age, a handwritten thank you note is a nice touch, but I am also a fan of “Thank You Videos” – I will very often take a video clip of girls where they convey their thanks and send it to the gift giver. I can’t say we are always perfect with the thank you but we try.

It is important for parents to take the time to teach their kids these skills. Our children can only benefit from them. So what do you do to foster people and relationship skills in your kids?

Family road trips can be fun and create long lasting family memories.

A Florida Car

Our family has taken road trips in the past, but never one from New York to Florida. I was excited when fellow YOLO mom, Diana, was willing to be a guest blogger and share a “play by play” from her road trip to Florida and the parenting life lesson she gleaned from the experience.

“Initially I was helping to fulfill my husband’s wish. For years he has begged and pleaded to drive to south Florida. He always had fond memories of driving with his family and friends. I myself had never done the trip… in fact I adamantly refused, resorting to tantrum-like behavior when needed. After much “discussion,” (basically if we wanted to go away after Christmas, we drive) the craving for sunny and 75 degree weather reigned strong….the decision was made (although not fully embraced) to do the drive.

I researched and planned everything out. For two months I relentlessly polled (and complained!) to anyone and everyone I knew about their drive experiences to Florida….with kids (one of whom notoriously gets car sick, the other is bored driving around the block!). We decided on the best time to leave, where we would stop for gas and bathroom breaks. And most importantly what we could do in the car with the kids to make the trek tolerable….for all of us (ME!)

With my research all gathered and courses mapped out and planned, we fine tuned our fun activities for the car. Luckily, Santa knew of our journey and delivered many travel-size games, maps and license plate sticker books. He also heard that the kids loved, with crazed passion, the Full House television series….he brought the 8-season, 16-disc box set for entertaining, along with a few other movies.

Our journey began at 3am….sharp. The kids remained in their pajamas,went to the bathroom and got in the car. No movies or electronics until our first anticipated gas stop in Virginia. After about an hour, they were fast asleep in the car. They didn’t wake up until we arrived for gas, food and bathrooms in Virginia. We stretched, they got changed, used the bathroom and took our food to eat in the car. Our first movie…Annie…was scheduled to start in an hour. Not a peep during the movie!!!! And one of the two kids fell fast asleep immediately afterwards. The rest of the trip went just as well…with the exceptions of the nasty I-95 bathrooms (South of the Border…need I say more for those who’ve experienced Pedro’s domain).

We made such good time (less than 6 hours) to the Carolina’s, we decided to skip our scheduled overnight stay in Savannah and motor along.

After 19 hours (door to door) with three gas and bathroom breaks (Virginia, South Carolina, Jacksonville), two movies (Annie & Million Dollar Arm) and several episodes of Full House (and a new love for all things Uncle Jesse circa his Kokomo Beach Boys days) we arrived at our destination (Delray Beach, FL)…with happy kids, who weren’t bored or carsick, immeasurable and countless laughs, stories and memories to last a life time.

I can truly say I had the best time! My husband was right!! The memories that I took away were unknowingly worth more than the convenience of an airplane flight.

For those of you thinking this is absolutely insane, a one time thing…the ride home was just as great…although the seedy bathrooms along the highway were worse northbound!!

What I took away from our journey…YOLO (You Only Live Once)…trying something outside your comfort zone can be a lot of fun, can create long lasting memories and great laughs. My family enjoyed the trip so much…..we did it again in February. Of course our bathroom choices were much more selective this time around.

A Florida Journal

My family memories of this trip are incredible. I started our initial trip with a handmade journal (made from palm tree and flamingo -patterned duct tape) to check in and record our thoughts on an hourly basis. This initially was going to be my proof of how awful the trip was going to be…documentation for my husband that we did it and never will do it again. Our journal (which we continued on our second trip) is worth gold to me! Lasting memories preserved for life! And proof that I was happy to be wrong:)”

Sounds like such fun. Makes me want to start planning a road trip for April when the kids are off from school again.

What road trips have you been on? Any funny stories?

Gift registries for children are helpful time savers.

A Gift Registry Time Saver

As many of you know from one of my previous posts (Birthday Gift Ideas), I am a big fan of gift experiences vs physical gifts. What is more important to me as the gift giver, however, is to get something the person will enjoy.

After RSVPing to a child’s birthday party, I was going to text the parent for a few gift ideas. When I looked at the invite a bit closer, I saw the parent actually included that the birthday girl was registered at Target. “Absolute genius!”, I thought to myself. I could order the gift online at Target, use our Target Credit Card  and receive free shipping (no minimum). I don’t even have to go to the store…that’s even better.

Not everyone may agree with listing a gift registry for a child, but I truly appreciated it. You are saving me time and allowing me to get something your daughter will enjoy. Thank you 🙂

Aesop’s fables can teach many valuable life lessons.

Aesop Fable Picture

As a child, I always enjoyed reading Aesop’s fables, but always wondered who Aesop was. Is he a real person? It is said he was born a slave around 620 BC in Greece or Ethiopia. He was a gifted storyteller and each story had a valuable lesson. These fables were passed down from parents to children for hundreds of years and eventually were recorded in written form.

These stories are short and simple and teach both young and old valuable life lessons.

Top 10 Favorite Aesop’s Fables “Parenting” Life Lessons (in no particular order):

1- Finish your work before you play. (The Kid and the Wolf)

2- Slow and steady wins the race. (The Tortoise and the Hare)

3- Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched. (The Milkmaid and her Pail)

4 – Misfortune is the test of true friendship. (The Two Travelers and the Bear)

5 – Once a wolf, always a wolf. (The Helpful Wolf)

6 – It is of no use to read the stars if you can’t see what’s right here on earth. (The Astrologer)

7 – Heaven helps those who help themselves. (Hercules and the Farmer)

8- There is a time for work and a time for play. (The Ants and the Grasshopper)

9- Self-help is the best help. (The Lark and Her Young Ones)

10- You are judged by the company you keep. (The Farmer and the Stork)

I use these life lessons for parenting all the time. It is any easy way to teach a lesson to both kids and adults alike.