“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!

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!

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?

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!

YOLO Bear – Celebrate your accomplishments!

Fall 2014 026

A little over a year ago, I set a personal goal for myself to launch a parenting blog and post at least 52 times over the next year. Today is my blog’s one year anniversary and with 70+ posts, I accomplished my goal and want to celebrate, but how? I would love to travel around the world for a year, but that is not realistic. But perhaps someone can go in my place – YOLO Bear! I can have friends and family take YOLO (You Only Live Once) bear to fabulous local and far away destinations, take a picture with the bear and keep celebrating the one year anniversary of my blog for another year. For my second blog year anniversary, I will make a photo book of YOLO bear’s travels.

What is the parenting life lesson? Work with your children to set goals and celebrate their accomplishments. Work hard, play hard! My daughters’ goal will be to read for 20 minutes for 20 days next month and we can celebrate this accomplishment with an overnight hotel stay locally with an indoor pool. Sounds like a nice way to celebrate, doesn’t it?

Beach and Bagels: Create summer family traditions the kids will treasure for years to come.

a Beach and Bagels Photo

It’s the summer. For our family, that means it’s time for beach and bagels. We are “morning” people and like to get up and go to the beach. We don’t want to sit in traffic. Our ritual: Pick up bagels and cream cheese, coffee, iced tea, 10 Dunkin’ Donuts munchkins and we are off to the beach.

We set ourselves up with our chairs, beach umbrellas, sunscreen and we relax enjoying our breakfast. Then it’s about reading, making sand castles, digging for sand crabs, enjoying the ocean air and spending time together as a family.

The kids look forward to it as do we. Looks like a Beach and Bagels weekend.

What family summer traditions do you have?

Have a staycation. Enjoy your own backyard.

 

A backyard photo with child

I learned this from my roommate from college last year. Whilst she enjoys traveling with her family at times, the family likes to spend time at home, relax and enjoy what they have right in their own backyard. Life can he so hectic so why not keep it simple and travel a few feet to your own outdoor space? ( For apartment building dwellers, enjoy what your local park has to offer )

The staycation definitely keeps in line with my theme for the summer of “Less is More” and being able to accomplish a few items on my Summer Bucket List. This past weekend’s weather was fabulous and my husband created this makeshift swing with an IKEA stepper and some rope (picture in this post) How creative and awesome is that? Girls had lots of fun…. We’ll see how long the swing lasts, but it definitely contributed to a nice two day staycation in our very own backyard.

YOLO! Relax and take it easy.

A backyard photo

NOFO (North Fork, NY): Road trips should have fun activities for adults and kids.

nofo

As summer is just around the corner, I am going to stick with the road trip theme and elaborate a bit on a fantastic road trip we took in the spring. It was a perfect mix of fun for adults and the kids… I am a big fan of TripAdvisor and am always gathering tips on my smart phone when people I meet provide recommendations.

Here are the highlights of a perfect day trip with the kids to NOFO:

  • Catapano Dairy Farm– Peconic, NY – This is a goat farm and they make a nice assortment of goat cheese and other gift items also. This was the first stop and was fun for the kids since they could pet and feed the goats.
  • Croteaux Vineyards– Southold, NY  Our next stop was our favorite vineyard in NOFO – When you enter the tasting room area outside, it is magical. It is like taking a mini vacation to Provence. While children are welcome, they are asked to stay close to their party to make it an enjoyable experience for everyone. This vineyard specializes in Rose wine which is light and perfect for the summer. Note: Limousines and buses (large parties are not welcome) which provides for more of an intimate setting from the other vineyards.
  • The Lunch Truck – Southold, NY – After our wine tasting, we were hungry and stopped at the food truck located behind the famed James Beard award winning North Fork Table and Inn. We grabbed some yummy pork pulled sandwiches for the adults and the kids enjoyed some fancy hot dogs with fries. We sat outside on a picnic blanket and enjoyed the afternoon sun.
  • By Aldo Coffee – Greenport, NY – By now we needed a little caffeine hit and this coffee house with actual coffee beans roasting in the front of the shop did not disappoint. Delicious coffee and cappuccino and the best biscotti ever .
  • Carousel – Greenport, NY– The kids were looking for some fun again so we visited this old carousel built in the 1920’s located close to the water. You can catch the brass ring and catch a free ride – $2.00/ride
  • R/T Boat Ride to Shelter Island from Greenport, NY – We could see Shelter Island in the distance and decided to take a R/T trip boat ride as foot passengers. $4 R/T per adult for the boat ride and the kids were free. It was a beautiful day and it was just about a ten minute ride with a nice breeze in our hair and the sun starting to set. It was fun for the kids (like a train ride to the city). It was getting a bit late, so we decided to immediately turn back and return to Greenport. Today was more about the boat ride vs exploring Shelter Island.
  • Ralph’s Famous Italian Ices – Greenport, NY Before our trip back home, we loaded up on some Italian ices which were a delightful way to end the day.

PS – Other great places to try: Eriks’ in Southold, NY for breakfast or lunch – tasty food, reasonable prices and kid friendly; Lavender By the Bay, Marion, NY – we picked up an English Lavender plant and it is doing very well in our backyard. They provided great planting and care instructions.

So what is the parenting life lesson? It’s all about balance. Road trips and family vacations are not all about the kids. If the kids want to have fun, the adults need some fun too. YOLO (You Only Live Once)

 

Road trips in our minivan paired with “old school” games create special family memories.

2013 Honda Odyssey Minivan

I truly love our Honda Odyssey minivan which we got last spring. I don’t know what the hang up is with minivans vs SUVs. I knew as soon as I sat in the 3rd row of the Honda Odyssey that this minivan was the way to go…comfortable and lots more legroom…great for family trips.

Our first road trip from New York to Vermont sat 6 adults and 2 children comfortably. We also have had fun trips to the North Fork, LI and hope to have many more this summer. Having room for eight people makes road trips more fun. I am not a fan of extended periods of electronic games/DVD players on road trips, but more about playing games with the family.

These are our 5 favorite road trip games (in no particular order)

1) License plate game – There are many ways to play this game, but our version is as follows:

* Guess the number of license plates we will see on the trip and I track everyone’s guess on my smart phone.

* Then the license plate hunt looking out the window begins, but I summarize them collectively.

* When we reach the destination, I tally up the number of license plates and the person who has the closest guess wins.

* Sometimes there is money involved – $5-$25 for the winner. If you are able to repeat all of the states from memory, the winner receives double the money.

2) Table Topics – set of 135 clever questions cards that ask a different question, from lighthearted fun to thought-provoking. No rules, just great conversations! (I have multiple versions of this game – – it is always lots of fun and you really get to learn wonderful things about family and friends)

For example – What was your favorite all-time vacation? (They even have a Table Topic to Go version for Road Trips)

3) Name Game – You create names with certain nouns that start with a specific letter. You start with the beginning of the alphabet and then go through the entire alphabet.

For example, “ A my name is Ava, I live in Alabama and I sell apples.” The next person starts with B (B my name is Birgitta and I live in Brooklyn and I sell bagels) and the same routine continues until you get to the letter Z.

4) Road Trip Bingo – This is basically a scavenger hunt on the road. You can buy Road Trip Bingo Boards on Amazon or you can just make them up yourself with items you think you may see on the road – (For example: stop signs, railroad crossing, farm, plane, bird on a wire, traffic light, cat, dog, airplane, truck, train, horse, tractor, orange car, etc.

5) ABC Game

* Look for signs on the side of the road or highway

* Start out with the letter “A” and find that letter on the sign somewhere

* Continue with the letter “B” and so forth… (You can make it easier or harder by having the word start with that specific letter or it can just be a letter on the sign. )

Summer vacation is around the corner! Children do grow up so quickly. Let the family road trip planning begin!