Archive for Holidays

Boo at the Zoo: Halloween at the Bronx Zoo

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Halloween is one of our favorite celebrations and we fill our October with lots of traditions–haunted hay rides, parties, harvest festivals, crafts, parades, and, of course, dressing up and trick or treating!

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This year we are excited to add to our traditions and check out Boo at the Zoo: Dragons and Dinosaurs at the Bronx Zoo.

With my resident paleontologist, we’ll be checking out the Dinosaur Safari: Mysteries Revealed experience. Check back later this month for our photographs and tips!

Boo at the Zoo Bronx

“Boo at the Zoo: Dragons and Dinosaurs is presented by Canon and will begin on Saturday, Oct. 4 and will run for five full weekends including Columbus Day and Halloween. All attractions and activities will embrace the spirit of the season while highlighting wildlife and conservation. Annual favorites including the hay maze, pumpkin carving demos, costume parades, music, magic and more will return with some additional Halloween surprises.”

Visit www.bronxzoo.com for a complete schedule of dates, performances and activities.

Disclosure: We are receiving complementary press tickets to facilitate my reviews. As always, words and opinions are my own unless otherwise noted.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

2014 Family Portrait Small

 

From me and mine to you and yours…Merry Christmas and a Happy 2014!

 

Happy Holidays 2014 Kids

Happy Holidays 2014 Me and Kids

Halloween Party Songs for Kids

Every year, I throw a small Halloween party for my daughter and her friends. We serve some Halloween-themed treats and make some Halloween-themed crafts. This year, I made a Halloween mix of songs that I thought would be upbeat and kid-appropriate but still fun for the adults who hung around.

 

Halloween Party Songs for Kids

 

  • Calling All the Monsters by China Anne McClain
  • Monster Mash by Bobby “Boris” Pickett & The Crypt-Kickers
  • Witch Doctor by David Seville
  • Zombie Jamboree, by Harry Belafonte
  • The Time Warp, by Richard O’Brien, Patricia Quinn, Little Nell & Cast The Rocky Horror Picture Show Soundtrack
  • I Put A Spell On You, by Creedence Clearwater Revival Chronicle, Vol. 1 Rock
  • Purple People Eater, by Sheb Wooley
  • Werewolves Of London, by Warren Zevon
  • (You’re The) Devil In Disguise, by Elvis Presley
  • Strange Brew, by Cream
  • Sympathy For The Devil, by The Rolling Stones
  • This Is Halloween, Nightmare Before Christmas Soundtrack
  • Superstition, by Stevie Wonder
  • Ghostbusters, by Ray Parker, Jr.
  • Thriller (Single Version), by Michael Jackson
  • Friend of The Devil, by The Grateful Dead
  • Witchy Woman, by The Eagles

If it were an adult party, I probably would have mixed in some slower songs. And I love a good creepy classical piece, like Saint-Saens’s “Danse Macabre,” but I wanted to keep things upbeat for the kids.

What would you add to the list?

Fourth of July Week

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We had an amazing Fourth of July weekend out on the North Fork of Long Island, which is a great New York vacation area for families with young kids. At some point I will have to write up my North Fork favorites!

We are lucky enough that my in-laws have a home my husband’s grandfather built there after World War II. There’s plenty of bedrooms and we all pile in and enjoy the fun!

Since I go a little crazy with post-holiday sales (who can resist a $3 t-shirt? nobody, that’s who!), my kids have about a dozen patriotic outfits. It wasn’t even July 4th yet and my kids are decked out in red, white, and blue, complete with matching t-shirts for the boys.

Of course, themed outfits means picture time! I think all families have at least one parent who obsessively photographs the kids…right? Tell me this is normal, please.

 

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Our first night, we noticed there were fireflies everywhere! The kids had tons of fun chasing them around the yard and caught quite a few.

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How hard is it to plan an Easter egg hunt?

I appreciate all the hard work volunteers and paid staff put in to make Holidays special for local kids. I truly do. And I also understand that there are a thousand and one little details that go into making large events a success because I have planned them before myself. So please believe me when I say that I know I am lucky to have so many fun events in my area.

But how hard is it to plan an Easter egg hunt?

One where every kid under five gets at least one egg. One where the parents don’t have to wait on line for an hour.

We went to two Easter egg hunts Easter weekend.

At the first, there were enough eggs for every kid (smart) and staggered times (even smarter) but because you did not sign up for or get assigned a time, you had to get on line and wait and wait and wait. Once we got in, all but one of the eggs were empty. One egg had a sticker to be exchanged for a big basket. The rest of the kids dumped their eggs in a plastic bag (to be reset) and then picked up candy. Even my three year old seemed to think it was a long walk for a short drink of water.

The second Easter egg hunt was supposed to take place at the end of a parade. One area was for the under fours and the other area was for the older children. Except other kids were alread at the egg hunt and when the kids who participated in the parade go there, they had no idea where to go. By the time we got to the under four area, the very few eggs were being snatched up by kids, many of whom appeared to be at least seven, right in front of my daughter’s eyes.

So, in my world, here’s how you do it:

  • The staggered times are great for a festival–but let people take a ticket for their chosen time and then walk around so they don’t miss the rest of the fun.
  • If everyone is going to look for eggs together, then hold the line until people arrive–don’t let some jump the gun before most of the participants have gotten to the area.
  • Put something in each egg.
  • Post clear signs both about the age ranges for the areas and the number of eggs kids should take. There is no reason to let an older kid grab ten eggs when some little kids who actually believe in the Easter Bunny have no eggs.
  • For the littlest ones, let the parents have a two or three eggs to drop right in front of their kids.

Of course, I’m not holding out for better-planned events. We’ll know to bring our own eggs for the kids next time.

But just one, simple request: get a less freaky costume for your Easter bunny. That’s some Donnie Darko stuff right there:

Feeding the Homeless on Thanksgiving

This morning I spent a little time helping Volunteer 4 Long Island to assemble packages of food, personal items (toiletries), and clothing for those who are homeless or living in emergency and temporary housing.

Even the littlest volunteers helped make cards to go in the packages.

Those who did not have small children then went out and distributed the packages to the people living in the surrounding woods, abandoned and condemned buildings, and shelters and temporary and emergency housing.

Watch this amazing video of their efforts Feeding the Homeless in 2008–I guarantee you will be moved!

As part of my work with Bloganthropy.org, I launched @Volunteer4LI on Twitter, got a basic website up and running, and directed people to their facebook page. Jeanine, who co-founded the organization with her husband, said that all of the kind bloggers and tweeters who helped spread the word (especially those who are part of Long Island Tweet-Up@LITweetUp) got them dozens of additional volunteers. And we’re going to have Jeanine share on Bloganthropy how they got started with this wonderful effort. Hopefully we can see how social media can help others get projects like this started in their own communities!

Jeanine’s husband told an amazing story illustrating how even small acts of kindness can plant the seeds for salvation. He explained that the goal for today was not only to feed empty stomachs on this one occasion, but to feed hearts and souls for a lifetime.

I am amazed at the good works this organization does. If you are on Long Island, please join. Even if you are not on Long Island, please see their projects and I hope they will inspire your own efforts.

Halloween – Wordless Wednesday





Get your Wordless Wednesday HERE and over at 5M4M.

Hoo Will Be My Valentine?

Hoo loves ya, baby? My darling girl adores owls so she really enjoyed this great Valentine’s Day owl craft from my fellow MOMformation blogger, Molly. Check out more of her great crafts for Valentine’s Day plus links to others.

I’m expecting a lot of stories today and tomorrow about “low-budget” Valentine’s Day celebrations…why not make some crafts?

I’ve never been hugely into Valentine’s Day but now that I have kids, it is another nice opportunity in the year to reflect on the gift of love.

Whether or not you are in a relationship, I hope you are able to celebrate love tomorrow and every day.

Being Thankful

First and foremost, I am thankful for my wonderful family. I feel so blessed to be married to my husband, a veteran and a hero, and to have two beautiful and sweet children. We are lucky to have been born in a time and place where the surgeons could fix my daughter’s heart so, instead of helplessly watching her fade, we can enjoy watching her blossom.

http://mollypitcher.blogspot.com/2007/11/being-part-of-military-family-makes-me.html

Welcome to the third edition of the (hopefully) growing Military Family Carnival.

Being part of the Military Family makes me thankful for…

Thanksgiving can be a beautiful celebration of all the blessings we enjoy. Many families lay the best table they can, express gratitude for the best of the year, and enjoy the company of family and close friends.

For many military families, this Thanksgiving will be spend apart from those they love most.

Last year on Thanksgiving, we had much cause for joy. My husband had returned home from Iraq, our daughter’s heart condition had been successfully repaired, and the rest of the soldiers from his unit were either home or on their way.

Since baby was still recovering, we could not yet travel. So, we invited the unit soldiers who had no where to go to come join us.

Baby was still having major anxiety about being separated from mommy, Captain Dad was experimenting with cooking a turkey for the first time, we had never hosted Thanksgiving before, and we had no idea how many guests to expect.

In the end, I held the baby while passing along words of encouragement and instructions about the side dishes to Captain Dad, we pressed another spouse into service, and we had plenty of good food.

Although I certainly missed being around our extended family, I think that impromptu celebration will always be one of my favorite Thanksgiving memories.

Being a part of the military family reminds me what really counts in life. We have freedom, continually renewed for us by our active participation and the efforts of our warriors. And we have each other, a gift made even more precious by the times we spend apart.

I hope you are spending this Thanksgiving with your soldier…but if you are not, you have my prayers for a safe and quick reunion. May this Holiday and others be filled with blessings for you.

Wordless Wednesday: She’s a Grand Old Flag

Happy Fourth of July!