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!

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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!

 

It’s never too early to start your Summer Bucket List.

A Summer Bucket List Photo

 

This is going to be the summer of “Less is More”. I am not signing up the kids for activities for most of the summer, but going to keep it open so we can get up and go to accomplish items on our Summer Bucket List. Keep it simple. Be grateful, happy and satisfied. Here is a draft of our list of what we have so far…

  1. Adventureland
  2. Baseball Game
  3. BBQ
  4. Beach
  5. Bowling
  6. Camping
  7. Cape Cod
  8. Central Park Picnic
  9. Circle Line Cruise
  10. Concert – Katy Perry, Jones Beach Theater
  11. Drive-In Movie Theater
  12. Dutch Wonderland
  13. Enjoy our own Backyard (Explore with a Magnifying Glass?)
  14. Lemonade Stand
  15. Local Parks
  16. Mini Golf
  17. Museums
  18. NOFO, LI
  19. Pedal Boot
  20. Play Badminton, Bocce, Frisbee, Tennis
  21. Pool
  22. Read a Good Book
  23. Run through Water Sprinklers in the Backyard
  24. See Family and Friends
  25. Sleepovers
  26. Splish Splash Water Park
  27. Stand outside the Today show with a sign
  28. Walk 10K Steps a Day
  29. Water Balloon Catch

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

What’s on your Summer Bucket List?

Teach your children how to explore a new place on vacation with their senses.

5 sensesWhen we went to India on vacation this time, I asked my kids to think about New Delhi, India with all of their senses instead of just the things they could see. This is the list of things we came up with together as a family.

It’s been a fun way to think about and remember things we did on vacation. Perhaps you will think about doing this when you go on vacation in 2014 !

Smell: calming scent of incense in India, yummy food being cooked

Taste: the different types of food you enjoy – spices, kebabs, dal, paratha, roti, butter chicken, kulfi, mango ice cream, gulab jamun

Hear: the honking horns singing together in harmony, peace, laughter yoga, music

India Motorcycle ride

See:  multiple people riding on a motorcycle,  beautiful paintings in the National Gallery of  Modern Art (New Delhi), stray dogs happily walking on their way, lots of people everywhere, organized chaos, monkeys, cows, lots of traffic

Touch:  the beauty of the temples, the warmth and hospitality of the Indian people, the elephant ride on Christmas Day, hugging family members we don’t get to see so often

Elephant ride on Christmas Day

5 “favorite” tips when traveling with kids

Travel PhotoI could mention so many things, but these are a few of my favorites:

1. Ziploc Bags: They are good for packing and keeping everything in order. A Ziploc bag with your child’s name on it for underwear, another one for socks, t-shirts, etc . It makes it easy to find what you need when you get to your destination. Also good for snacks and soiled clothes if someone happens to get sick on the plane or in the car.

2. Extra set of clothing in your carry on bag: I am not saying the airline is going to lose your luggage, but it is good to have just in case.

3. Wipes and Tissues: I don’t care how old your kids are, wipes and tissues are always good to have in case you can’t wash your hands, there is no toilet paper in the bathroom, etc. It is always good to be prepared.

4. Take your Meds and Thermometer: Don’t forget to take your own adult prescription meds, but also have a Ziploc bag with a thermometer, children’s Motrin, adult Advil, bandaids and Neosporin. If someone gets sick or hurt, you don’t want to be running around looking for these things. (Remember to take prescriptions meds in carryon and all liquid items in your checked in luggage.)

5. Google and print out some helpful info from internet
– Google “fun facts for kids about (insert your destination)” and “best places to take the kids (insert your destination)”
Trip Advisor: big fan of traveler reviews for top restaurants, things to see and places to stay
– Frommers/Fodors book: I also go “old school” and take a current book for my actual travel destination from the library. Since they get dated so quickly, it does not make sense to buy an actual copy.

Review your travel documents (passports and visas) on an annual basis.

PassportsIt used to be that one could travel between the US and Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean with an official US birth certificate or driver’s license. As of June 2009, everyone needs a passport.

For US passports, they expire every 10 years for adults and 5 years for minors under 16. If you or your children don’t have a passport, it is a good idea to get one now. You don’t want to be under time pressure to get one when you are actually going somewhere.

You may be traveling with your family over the holidays so review your passport and visas to make sure they have not expired.

We are traveling this year to India for the holidays. I realized a little over a month ago that my visa had expired. Long story short, I had to mail in the visa application and I just received my passport/visa back two days before I was leaving to go on my trip. Needless to say, it was making me sick thinking of the possibility of my family getting on the plane without me if I did not get my visa back on time.

Lesson learned: Check your travel documents on an annual basis and make sure everything is in order. It will save you time and remove undue pressure of getting these docs updated under a restricted timeline.

Holiday shopping : Buy games which promote time with the family.

Game PhotoIt’s Cyber Monday. I realize that, but you all know what you need to do. Look at your holiday list, find deals, shop online and spend more time with your family.

My blog post focus for today is to share with you my top 5 favorite family games:

1) 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 – I bring it out at family/friend gatherings, road trips, wine and cheese parties – it is always lots of fun and you really get to learn wonderful things about family and friends)

2) Apples to Apples – game of hilarious comparisons ( We just played multiple rounds of this game at Thanksgiving. It’s great fun!)

3) Sorry – excellent board game that is simple to learn and play, but is also fun for people who like complex strategy. ( Always an “old school” favorite. It is a simple and easy game to play in a reasonable amount of time. )

4) Yahtzee – The object of the game is to score the most points by rolling five dice to make certain combinations. ( I love this game because it is so compact and easy to take with you when you travel. When I was a child, we used to play this game at the beach. It is also a great game for teaching math skills.)

5) Monopoly – I think everyone knows this game . One goes around the board buying properties, building houses and hotels on your properties and trying to drive other players to bankruptcy. (It is great for teaching math skills using the play money, but the game can take forever to play. You can always put a time limit on it.)

During this holiday season, think about purchasing an actual board game vs a $25 gift card to purchase online games. You choose: Load games on an electronic device and have your child sit in a corner to play video games by themselves or interact and play a game with others? Family time is precious. Enjoy the gift of time. Play some games and laugh with your family and friends!

Max and Bella (our puppies) are a big responsibility, but a wonderful addition to the family.

Bella

With Halloween coming up this week, it is only fair that Max and Bella also enjoy this holiday getting dressed up. It is hard to believe they have been a part of our family for 4 months now.

Santa had promised the girls they would get a puppy in 2013. It was my husband’s idea to get a puppy (which turned into two puppies) at the beginning of the summer. This enabled the girls to bond with the dogs while they were on summer break. Great decision!

Neither my husband nor I grew up with dogs so this has been a true learning experience. Here are the lessons we have learned so far:

Babysit friends’ dogs to expose the kids to the responsibility of having a dog before you get one.
Get the dog while the kids are young so they can grow up with the dogs.
“EST” every day –  Exercise (walking the dogs), Socialization and Training are important for dogs.
Study the different breeds – we were focused on hypoallergenic dogs with hair which don’t shed – poodle mixes like ours are very popular for that reason as well as many others.
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!