“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!

 

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?

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.

When nature calls for a big snow storm, enjoy it with your kids.

A YOLO SNOW STORM

If you are living in the northeast region of the US, there is a great deal of snow outside. Hopefully you can work from home or take the day off when a really big snow storm hits. Have some fun with the kids! They will remember this time with their parents.

My Top 5 Favorite Things to do with the Kids in the Snow:

  1. Build a snowman
  2. Go sledding
  3. Make snow angels
  4. After playing outside, make hot chocolate
  5. Play board games and/or watch a favorite movie – Monopoly? “Frozen” anyone?

YOLO (You Only Live Once) – have fun!

 

Family and “me” time vacations are important to help you recharge your batteries.

Recharge Your Batteries

Between the holidays and our end of the year family vacation, I took a bit of a longer break from writing posts. Vacations are an important way for people to relax and recharge their batteries.

Top 5 Reasons Vacation is Important:

1- Quality Family Time: School, work, after school activities keep us so busy that we don’t get to spend quality time with the family. Be present and shut off those electronic gadgets to create some lasting  memories on your family vacation.

2- It Destresses You: It allows us to take a break from the everyday stresses of life. I remember reading somewhere that “Stress is related to 99% of all illness.” So relax, catch up on sleep and exercise a bit more (going for long walks count too).

3- “Me” Time: While family time is important so is “me” time – girlfriend weekend getaway anyone? A weekend of sharing, laughing, eating, drinking and focusing on ourselves and not our family can be very reenergizing. This is important for guys too; everyone can use a break.

4- Exploring New Places Is Fun: You can also have a “staycation” and explore places which are not too far from home. This past weekend, we decided to go on a BA (I just made that up) – Brooklyn Adventure (BA). We walked on the promenade in Brooklyn Heights, asked the girls to identify NYC landmarks and had a delicious pizza lunch at Dellarocco.

5- YOLO (You Only Live Once): “Work to live, don’t live to work.” is one of my life mantras. As I tell my daughters all the time, “Life is not a dress rehearsal, enjoy life.”

Keep in mind, vacations dont have to be 1-2 weeks at a stretch, a 3 day escape from your daily routine can refresh your mind and body too.

So what is the parenting life lesson here? Parenting is hard work! Take some time off/vacation to recharge your batteries to help you with the ups and downs of the wonderful parenting “rollercoaster” and enjoy life!

Take the time to enjoy the lights and decor of the holiday season with your family.

Christmas Photo

I absolutely love this time of the year! It’s so much fun to drive around and look at decorated homes and store fronts in the area where you live.

The picture in this post is near my home and I wait with anticipation every year to see it. It makes me laugh and smile with a childlike giddiness!

Every year, I try to map out 5-10 holiday decorated homes in my area. If you need help finding them, either google “decorated holiday or Christmas houses” in your area or wait for the listings in the local newspaper as it gets closer to Christmas. My husband and I enjoy this “holiday tour” as much as the kids do.

If you live in the area (Garden City, NY), the following light display should be a definite stop on your holiday light tour – go to www.lightstoabeat.com for details. This year the light display includes Shake It Off by Taylor Swift, Feliz Navidad, Amazing Grace, etc. They are accepting donations for the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Amazing!

If you are visiting NYC, check out the holiday store windows. They are all really good this year. I can’t say I have a clear favorite – www.mommypoppins.com  has a really nice description of what the decorated windows have to offer.

These are the eight holiday windows worth seeing:

1) Bloomingdales (59th and Lex Ave)

2) Barneys (61st and Madison Ave)

3) Bergdorf Goodman (58th and 5th Ave)

4) Tiffany and Co (57th and 5th Ave)

5) Henri Bendel (56th and 5th Ave)

6) Saks Fifth Avenue (48th-49th and 5th Ave)

7) Lord and Taylor (38th-39th and 5th Ave)

8) Macy’s (34th and 6th- 7th Ave)

PS – Don’t forget to stop at the Lindt chocolate store between 54th and 55th on 5th Avenue to enjoy some good chocolate to give you more energy to keep you going.

Have fun! YOLO (You Only Live Once)!