A Bedtime Routine that Works

A Bedtime Routine that Works

Getting your kids to bed is hard.  They don't want to go to bed yet, they want these pjs not those, they need 10 bedtime stories, now they need water.... Getting the kids finally settled can be exhausting especially when you are already exhausted.  I'm usually on my own for bedtime since my husband mostly works nights.  Because of this, I have developed a process that gets both kids to sleep without fuss 6 out of 7 days a week.  

5 Tips On How to Get Ahead In Math This Summer

5 Tips On How to Get Ahead In Math This Summer

As you may know, I am currently studying for my graduate degree in math, so math skills are very important to me. Math is not only about computation, but also logic and ordered thinking. The following is a guest blog post from Zap Zap Math on helping your kids maintain their math skills over the summer in fun ways. 

Places to Go with the Family This Summer

It's summertime! School is out and the weather is warm. You are just itching to do things with the family. Here is a list of fun places we have gone to or will be going this summer. If you are in the New York area, check them out. If not, there is likely an equivalent in your area.

1. The Zoo:

We've been to the zoo twice so far this year and we will definitely be going several more times. The zoo is one of our favorite places to go as a family. There are so many things to do and animals to see. They also regularly have activities for the family. We love it so much that we have a membership so we don't have to pay for parking, or admission, or the rides each time we go. Membership also provides discounts for food and merchandise. It really makes economical sense if you wish to go more than once a year. I have a whole post about zoo trips which you can find here.

2. The Botanical Garden:

My mom just so happens to work at the NY Botanical Garden. Between volunteering and paid jobs, my mom has been involved there practically my whole life. They have lots of fun activities for the kids and nature to explore. A lot of the time, my son just wants to chase the squirrels and chipmunks and birds. He'll also stop to check out the pond and hear the frogs and smell the flowers. In the Everett Children's Adventure Garden they have nature activities and puppets and books, toys, and plants to explore. We have passes to the botanical garden as well due to my mother's relationship with the location. It a great place to bring the kiddos over the summer. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy nature.

3. Sesame Place:

We have not been there yet this year, but we will definitely be going this summer. Sesame place is so much fun and my son, at 3 years old, is at the perfect age. They have tons of water rides and chances to meet the Sesame Street characters. When it gets too hot, you can stop into one of the air conditioned shows. They have lots of things to do for small kids unlike many theme parks that have a tiny kids area but are mainly geared for teens and adults. It is small enough that you can do a day trip but big enough to get a weekend out of it too. Busch Gardens in Virginia also has a Sesame Street area which we went to last summer. T really enjoyed that as well.

4. Outdoor Movies:

Outdoor movies are great fun for kids of all ages. In our area several malls have outdoor movie showings. They often show a mix of recent movies and classics. Last year we saw Big Hero 6 at an outdoor screening. We brought folding chairs and snacks and watched the movie out on the lawn.  If you follow me on Facebook, you know that my son is obsessed with the original Willy Wonka movie. In August they will be showing that as an outdoor movie in our area. We will definitely be attending that showing as well as one or 2 others.

5. The Park:

Just heading to a local park is a fun outing over the summer. Some parks have sprinklers that they turn on in the summer for the kiddos. Otherwise you can stick to the classics: swings, slides, and jungle gym. Invite other kids to meet you there as well. We try to bring Tyler to the park regularly  to play with his cousin Bradley. They love to go on the slides and climb the jungle gyms and just run around. It's also a great way to get their energy out. This one is also free, so you can go as often as you like!

6. Local Theme Park:

I love to go to local small theme parks with the family. They have a bunch of cute rides and games. It's also not as overwhelming as some of the major theme parks. In our area, we have Rye Playland which is the perfect size for small kids. They also have dance shows and costumed characters which Tyler loves. On Friday nights they have fireworks throughout the summer. At the same boardwalk they have a beach, Tiki Restaurant, and a children's museum.

7. Children's Museum:

Some days are just too hot to play outdoors. This is the perfect time to head to the local children's museum. They have lots of interactive exhibits and often have special events over the summer. At the Westchester Children's Museum they have lots of interactive exhibits including a music making areas, and tumbling area, and a place for making shadows. The exhibits are made for kids so you don't have to worry so much about kids touching things they aren't supposed to. We took T to the children's museum over 4th of July weekend and he had a blast. We were there until closing and he still didn't want to leave.

8. The Beach:

This is not really my husband and my favorite place. Given the option, we'd much prefer to swim in the pool. I hate sitting in sand and getting it in my shoes and bathing suit.  However, my mother in law has a beach club membership and Tyler loves it. We took Tyler there on July 3rd and he had a ball. He loved building sandcastles, swinging on the tire swing, and playing with the other kids. It was another night where he didn't want to leave.

9. Local Festivals and Fairs:

Take some time and research local fairs and festivals in your area. So far Tyler and Hailey have been to two such events this summer. We went to a local fair with games, food, and small rides in June.  This was T's first time going on a ride by himself. He had a great time and was so proud of himself! Today we went to a Hot Air Balloon Festival in upstateNew York. They had a petting zoo, bounce area, walking into a hot air balloon, a maze, a train ride and much more. This was located at the same farm where we go apple and pumpkin picking in the fall. With each new activity we found, Tyler thought he found the best thing. That is until we moved on to the next thing. If you want to tire your kids out, fairs and festivals are a great way to do it. If it's a good distance away from home, you can tire them out and let them fall asleep in the car on the way back. If you pack food and drinks, it doesn't have to be too expensive either.

10. Renaissance Faire:

This is a staple that we try to get to every summer. There is so much to see and do between the various shows, shops, animals, and activities. This one can get a little expensive especially if you are a sucker for artisan goods. This summer will be Tyler's third time going and Hailey's first. This is one of those places where there is something for everyone, so make it a family affair. Bring the grandparents and the aunts and uncles. Just be aware, it's a lot of walking.

Some other places that we will try to get to include the aquarium, Coney Island, and Central Park. I only have 2 weeks left of leave and then. Few long weekends in August, so we will try to fit everything in. The first 10 are definite though. With 6 out of the 10 already done, I know we will get to all of those.

Do you have any favorite places to go with the kids in the summer? Let me know in the comments!



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Fourth of July Fireworks Craft

With the Fourth of July just a few days away, we are super excited to celebrate with family and friends. This will also be Hailey's first 4th of July, so she has a new outfit and head band for the occasion. You will see pics of it on Facebook next week! Tyler is an old pro at 4th of July celebrations and he loves burgers. In order to get him excited about the day, we decided to do a fireworks craft project. Here's everything you need to know to do the project yourself!

What you'll need:

White paper

Washable paint

Paper towel or toilet paper roll

Paper plate


How to make it:

1. First mom or dad or some other adult will need to cut slits along the edge of the paper roll. They should be about 2 inches long and spaced pretty close together. It should look like this:

2. Splay out the strips that you created so that it looks like an exploding firework. You have now created your firework stamper.

3. Pour some paint out onto a paper plate. This will be your stamp pad.

4. Dip your stamp into the paint and then stamp it onto your paper to create fireworks. You may need to use your fingers to push down the individual strips. This can get messy, but that's part of the fun!!

5. You can cut up multiple tubes with different length slots for different sizes of fireworks. You can also use multiple plates for multiple colors or put multiple colors on one plate for a multicolored firework.

We will also be whipping out our red, white and blue placemats for the occasion. You can see how we made those here!

We are all set for a fun filled 4th of July weekend. Tomorrow we will be going to the Westchester Children's Museum for more 4th of July crafts. Then Sunday were heading to a beach club for music, fun and fireworks. Monday we'll be bbqing with friends and family.

We hope you all have a fun filled 4th of July weekend with friends and family! See you next week!!



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5 Tips to Enjoy Events with Kids

If you read my post earlier this week, you know we had a great experience at the Pez Factory Easter Egg Hunt this past weekend. In case you missed it, you can read that post here.  You can also read news coverage of the event here.  However, you would also be aware that there was utter chaos and unfortunate behavior at the event as well.  Mostly on the part of the parents. Thus, I've decided to compile a list of tips to ensure that you can enjoy your events with kids and make the most of your experience.  

1.Read the Instructions in Advance: Before you attend an event, you should know what you are getting into.  What is the setup?  Is there a cost?  What should you bring?  In the case of the egg hunt, the directions specifically stated that there were separate start times for each age group.  We also knew that the egg hunt was free but pictures with the Easter bunny required paying the admission fee to enter the visitor's center.

2. Pay Attention to the signs and Staff at the Event: As the parent, you should be paying attention to all the signs and staff members at the event.  This can be hard when you are also corralling your kids.  If possible have a second adult with you so that one can get all the information while the other keeps an eye on the kids.  At the egg hunt, there were signs specifying which area was for each age group.  Also, the staff members came around to everyone and explained that the turn out was far greater than expected and therefore, if anyone did not get an egg, staff would be giving out candy in front of the visitor's center.  Therefore, there was no reason for parents to take eggs from the other areas of the field. There was also no need to push and shove to get an egg.

3. Determine the Cost of the Event and Base Your Expectations on That:  Now I am not saying that free events are crappy and all good events are paid for.  What I am saying is if the event is free and you get anything to take home, you are already winning.  There is no need to be greedy or pushy.  As far as the Pez event, the egg hunt was free.  If you didn't get an egg from the hunt, you would still be walking away with free candy.  Especially in the 0-4 age group, I highly doubt that it was the kids pushing to have enough eggs to fill a big basket.  If you want your kid to have the experience of finding a ton of eggs and filling their basket, then you should host a hunt for them yourself.  This was a community event to get to be around other kids and get a few pieces of free candy.  If on the other hand you had paid for an Easter bunny buffet meal and there wasn't enough food, you might then have something to complain about.  Look at what you paid and look at what you are getting and determine if it is worth it.  If not, don't attend the event.

4. Assume that There Will be a Lot of People: Parents are always looking for fun activities for their kids.  Especially on weekends, especially around holidays.  They want their kids to get the full experience of the holiday.  You should go to these events knowing that will be the case.  Plan to have to wait on line.  Possibly bring snacks or activities to do while waiting.  If it's an outdoor event, dress for the occasion.  It is your job as a parent to help your kid enjoy the experience.  You shouldn't be complaining about the line or the cold.  You should be prepared.

5. Remember that it is for the Kids: Remember that the event is for the kids.  If they are perfectly content with their one green egg, you don't have to go around picking up more eggs yourself so that they can fill their basket.  If the event is not a competition, don't make it one.  My son had his eyes set on one green egg and when he got it he stopped looking.  I asked him if he would let me hold it so he could get more and he decided to let that happen.  However, if he had said no and just wanted that one egg, then that's what he would have gotten.  A kids event is no time for parents to act on their desires.  If you want to go on an egg hunt, ask someone to set it up for you.  Otherwise, the important thing is that your kid is happy and satisfied.

My comments on these 5 tips obviously revolve around our recent experience at the egg hunt.  However, they can also be applied to a kids event/party.  Know what you are getting into and know the rules.  If its not for you, then just don't go.  Always keep in mind that the end goal is that your kids have fun, and not at the expense of other kids.

Hope you enjoy your next event!!



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Why I Take My Kid Everywhere

It started when T was 5 months old. I was getting pretty close to my pre pregnancy weight and started putting myself back out into the dance world. I got a call from a music artist at around 6pm asking if I could attend a rehearsal later that night. I explained that I had a 5 month old and would have to find someone to watch him. She said bring him. This is the impetus that caused me to take my kid everywhere.

Since having Tyler, he has come with me when I choreographed numerous musicals for high school, college, and community theater. He had come with me when I teach dance class.  He recently went to see Star Wars in the theaters.  He comes out to dinner, parties, weddings, and various other events.

This is great for me! I don't have to always find a baby sitter. I get to spend time with my son and expose him to what I do. He has been able to experience live music and theater at a year old.  On breaks, we get to eat and play together. And I of course get to show him off.  What can be better than that?!

This is also great for T. At an early age he has been observing how to act around adults. He doesn't shout or scream.  He isn't climbing on tables or running around restaurants.  He doesn't disturb fellow movie goers.  He has learned how to act with adults in social situations.

Now I won't tell you he is perfection. There are times when mommy is teaching that he wants mommy now. And there a few occasions when he hasn't napped and can then be super fussy. I can count on one hand the number of times we have had to take him outside to calm down.  But he has learned that if I say wait and then I will help you, I actually will.  So he has slightly more patience than he would otherwise have.

He has also learned to be more comfortable around strangers. Of course, if he walks into a room full of loud college kids at rehearsal, he starts out shy. But he quickly warms up. If we get to rehearsal early and the kids trickle in, he is a ham. He also plays with the people I teach. If I'm working with one group of dancers, he is OK playing with the rest without me having to be there playing with him.

I truly believe that exposing him to adult social situations early on has taught him how to act around adults. We don't have melt downs in restaurants, we don't have talking in movies, and we have a kid that friends actually want us to bring to parties and social gatherings.

An added bonus is that my 3 year old is now also very cultured. He sings show tunes, has been to various museum exhibits, he quotes movies, and makes various pop culture references. He understands humor and makes conversation with adults. We couldn't be happier or more proud.

Tell us how you expose your kids to proper behavior around adults.



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