Happy Family Summer Bucket List – Week 7 and 8

Firefly Collage 2

1. Go on a Firefly walk – We planned to go out on July 7th for our town’s fireworks show but were stopped in the front yard by O’s first experience with fireflies this year (she’d seen them last year but probably doesn’t remember). She was so happy running around chasing them (and we were running a little late anyway due to a cranky Number 2 needing to nurse) that we decided to skip the trip and just play. Turns out it was a very fortunate decision because not 10 minutes later I asked Daddy if that was fireworks or lightning and began to feel rain drops (it was lightning). A few minutes after getting inside, cue super downpour! And check one off of the bucket list.

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2. Trip to Vermont – A 6 hour drive in perfect conditions, we made it to Vermont in about 8 hours, especially amazing because we didn’t drive in the middle of the night this time with the babies asleep. We left early in the morning and, like magic, only needed to make 3 stops. We semi-cheated because Mimi was in the backseat entertaining the kids but I was still really proud of both of them – actually of all of us! At the first rest stop we got strawberry banana jelly from a farm stand and O finally used an automatic hand dryer without fear (probably because it wasn’t one of the turbo-powered, blow-the-skin-off-your-hands versions that we usually see). And at our third stop we got chocolate creemees (Vermonter for soft serve). Once we were there, my sister and her family treated us to the 27th Annual Stoweflake Balloon Festival, a trip to Shelburne Farms (an amazing castle of a farm with newborn goats, cow milking demonstrations, cheese sampling and a ride to the farm being pulled by a tractor), and a trip to Jay Peak (indoor (!!!) water park with an awesome kids area).

3. Watch a Sunrise – Sunrise sunset, same thing. We saw it while driving but unfortunately I was in no state to remember to take a picture. But I realized we should have put on our bucket list was looking at the stars when we could actually see some stars. My sister lives out in rural Vermont where there is no light pollution (very unlike the city that never sleeps) and the view was spectacular. But I was so sad I couldn’t wake up the kids to enjoy it with their sleep schedules being so messed up already. Luckily (?) there were a lot more wake-ups on the drive home (which was at night) and O got to see the celestial wonders at a dark scenic turn-off (much better than a lit-up rest stop).

balloon festival Collage

4. Hot Air Balloons – We attended the 27th Annual Stoweflake Balloon Festival in Vermont with 18 month old cousin Wolverine (don’t worry, it’s just my blog nickname for him). They had launches twice a day for the weekend but the night launches were accompanied by vendors, rides, gift shops, food and live music. Luckily this made the morning launches, which didn’t have any activities, free to attend. Bonus! So we got up before the crack of dawn and walked out into a field to watch all the brightly colored balloons slowly fill with hot air. The sunrise launch lasted long enough to be worth the hour drive but short enough to keep anyone from getting cranky or bored (especially when someone awesome started handing out helium balloons for the kids). As if this event wasn’t already amazing enough, they had a Keurig machine set up with free Green Mountain Coffee – and they had decaf for me. Heaven.

Jay Peak Collage

5. Go Swimming (1st time!) – When we were in Vermont, we also drove up to Jay Peak. Originally a ski resort, they recently built the indoor Pump House Waterpark to attract summertime visitors. As an almost vampire-like sun avoider, the idea of an indoor waterpark had me drooling and Jay Peak didn’t disappoint. Sorry no camera this time either, felt it probably wasn’t the best thing for a klutz to bring to a water park but above are some pics from their website. They had 2 water slides for double or single raft riders and 2 tube slides to ride without rafts, one of which throws you in a 360 degree loop (terrifying!). The park also has a Flowriding (like faux surfing) area, a lazy river, hot tubs, an adorable kids area with lots of water spouts and small slides, free towels (woot!), an arcade and food. The kids play area was even shallow enough for Number 2 to sit with us and splash safely while we watched O play on a slide and there were lifeguards everywhere. But I took O in a life jacket into the lazy river with me and we bobbed up and down in the 3ft waves – she had a blast!

6. Watch Fireworks – The fireflies above got in the way of seeing real ones but at least we watched the Macy’s show on TV. Check!

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Happy Family Summer Bucket List: Week 5 and 6

Unfortunately this turned out to be the weeks of crappy picture taking, for various reasons. But, I’ve decided to add in random nonsensical pictures to try to make up for it. You are welcome.

first swing

1. Have a Picnic – We did have a picnic with a parents group through Meetup but we didn’t bring any of the food so although we’re marking it off (because otherwise we’d be falling behind on our bucket list!), we’re still planning on having another one. Also we need a second picnic because Mommy obviously forgot to take any pictures. Oops. The picture above is Number 2’s first time in a swing!!

zombie shirts

2. Attend a Baseball Game – Well, we were going to do this. There was a vintage baseball game being held by the local historical society nearby which looked awesome. But when we saw the 90 degree weather forecast and not a speck of shade to hide in at the field, we decided to pass on this one and Daddy and I had an Adult Movie Date instead (World War Z!!). Daddy and I wore zombie shirts because why not? (I forgot to take a picture when we were wearing them, of course). I know mine is a little scary. O and I had a discussion about the happy skeleton’s long lollipop after I came home and changed into something better for running around in public with kids in tow.

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3. Play with Bubbles – O only wanted to play with bubbles while sitting on the potty so you probably wouldn’t want to see these pictures. After leaning over to pop or try to pick up the bubbles that landed on the floor and simultaneously spilling her “bubble juice” all over her clothes, diaper and the floor, we moved the bubble blowing to the bathtub, but again, pictures wouldn’t be suitable for the internet. But I promise, bubbles were blown. I love how Number 2 looks like he’s about to do a little jig dance in the picture above, haha.

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4. Visit Sandy Hook – Well, I posted some pictures of this in my last post but I have more. Highlights from the beach trip:

  • In lieu of a rolling cart with beach wheels, Daddy had a “brilliant idea” (we should all be scared when these words are uttered). Unfortunately using a sled to drag our heavy cooler, tent, chairs, assorted towels, diapers and clothing, etc did not work.
  • Number 2 tried to eat sand, as predicted. He didn’t seem that bothered by it either (shudder).
  • O would not go anywhere near the water unless she was being carried and we swore not to put her down. Not even all the shells along the water line were enough to persuade her.
  • Number 2 headed straight for the water but was more than a little shocked when he got wet. After the waves pulled back though, he tried to march into the ocean again. Repeat.
  • Our SPF50 protected beach tent was perfect once again, especially for privacy while nursing!

Family Summer Bucket List: Week 3 and 4

I love that I’m able to see exactly what we’ve done this summer and relive those fun moments through these blog posts. So, we crossed off the following bucket list items: Make Gak, Find a New Playground, Have an Adults Only Monster Golf Date and Make Stained Glass with tissue paper.

gak collage

1. I found a bunch of different recipes for Gak (aka goop, slime, silly putty) online; most use Borax but there are also creative versions made without borax too. I decided to go traditional since this is our first time. Surprisingly, even though there are only like 3 ingredients, there’s more than one “right” way to do it – so I had to try 2 different versions (we needed 2 colors anyway). Both recipes are below for you. First we tried making Gak using the recipe from The Magnolia Barn. I used some leftover purple pigment from Glob Natural Paints to color the Gak which also made it smell fruity and amazing . The end result wasn’t as stretchy as I assumed it should be; it tended to break off in nice chunks instead (which was still cool looking), but it took on shapes easily and held them for a while (hand prints or shapes of things left on top of it, for example) and it had a nice feel. O immediately asked for her rolling pin and began making tissue paper-thin sheets of Gak and then started methodically punching out “cookies.”

Next we tried the recipe from Come Together Kids. I was able to get almost 6 half teaspoons into mine (see step 4) but I was trying to get as much Borax as possible to really see the difference in these recipes. We made this batch orange. It looks like the Borax helps make the Gak stretchier. I put a small bit of each Gak version over two outstretched fingers about 12 inches from the top of the table and timed which one would blob down to the table first. The orange recipe (from Come Together Kids) stretched down to the table in about 10 seconds but our purple version (from The Magnolia Barn) was barely starting to feel the pull of gravity. The downside to the orange version though is that shapes formed are quickly gone (hand prints almost immediately flatten out) which might be frustrating to some.

So both recipes are good but each might be better for different ages and/or different personalities. For kids who are tickled by gross things and boogers, for example – I recommend the orange. For kids who like to mold shapes and flatten with rolling pins – the purple might be better.

Gak Comparison colored

2. Our goal to find a new playground was actually fulfilled by accident. I had signed us up to go to an annual ladybug release event sponsored by our local Junior Women’s Club and that meetup just so happened to be right next to a cool new playground. Releasing the ladybugs to help local gardens and doing ladybug-related crafts was fun too though. And yes, I’m playing with photo editing software again (addicted!!).

ladybug collage
ladybug park dance

3. As I mentioned when I made our summer bucket list, we added in a few Adults Only items to ensure that daddy and I made time for our date nights (which always seem to get pushed back for some reason or another). A new Monster Mini Golf place open up near us a while ago and we’d been wanting to go for months – thanks to our bucket list, we finally made it happen. We were hoping we could go back with O, but it was lucky we tried it out alone first – the place was way too scary for a 3-year-old (large animated monsters, loud music, monster paintings on the walls, etc). But it was fun for us (and mommy won by 9 strokes). For the future, clearly we missed the memo and should have worn white shirts.

monster golf collage

4. I’d been waiting to do tissue paper stained glass with my daughter since before she was born – I clearly remember doing it myself when I was little. When the activity came in one of our monthly craft subscription boxes and I didn’t have to do any work to make it happen, I was even more excited. O and I peeled the backing off a piece of contact paper and laid it sticky side up on the table, then we placed the black paper frame over the top to hold the contact paper down (and make it look nice). I cut pieces of colored tissue paper into small squares and O applied them with the concentrated precision of a focused preschooler. It was a quick project but at least our art can stay up in the window for as long as we like.

stained glass collage

Family Summer Bucket List: Weeks 1 and 2

We’re participating in the 2013 Summer Bucket List Challenge. Here’s what we’ve checked off so far:

1. Ride a Carnival Coaster – Technically not a coaster but our local carnival didn’t bring one this year so we worked with what we got. O was not disappointed in the slightest to ride the spinning dinosaurs.

coaster collage
2. Play with Water Balloons – Take that 90 degree day! (unfortunately Daddy and I were too caught up in trying to get each other that we forgot to take more pictures). Our purple Pumponator worked like a charm and O loved pumping and counting (exactly 7 pumps was perfect for us). P.S. the Pumponator is also great for shooting water at unsuspecting victims but it’s not fast on the refill so it’s easy for the other party to get revenge.

water balloon collage 2

Yes, I was playing with cool photo effects.

3. Go to a New Museum – We visited the Museum of Science in Boston over Memorial Day weekend (The Dead Sea Scrolls special exhibit tipped the adult votes away from the Children’s Museum). Since none of us had ever been there before, I was worried it might be better for older kids but it turned out there was lots of stuff O found fascinating and that was totally in her skill level. We attended a free show about Lightning where the world’s largest air-insulated Van de Graaff generator created lightning bolts indoors for us (recommended for grades 3 and up but O has never had a problem with loud noises) and a free live animal presentation on geckos. We also bought tickets for the Butterfly Garden exhibit which rewarded O, after being unbelievably patient and still, with 2 butterflies landing on her knee. We also loved the full dinosaur skeletons and life-size T-Rex model, and the Science in the Park exhibit (included with ticket price) which was basically a playground (The museum site explains it as: “Run, jump, swing, and use familiar objects to investigate the pushes and pulls of everyday life.”). Highly recommended. P.S. If you ask the info desk, there’s a private nursing room (not on the museum map) that you can use if unoccupied!

Boston museum collage 2

Clockwise from top left: 1. Don’t worry, the baby was “driving” at a rest stop. 2. O started with a green elephant then said she was building a house around him. 3. Have you seen these optical illusions where the object looks like you can grab it? 4. The view from inside the Butterfly exhibit. 5. Waiting patiently for butterflies. 6. Mommy had a brown butterfly land on her the moment we walked in.

4. ADULTS ONLY – Zip Line Date with Zoom Ziplines at Mountain Creek, NJ. I bought tickets for this from LivingSocial back in December as a Christmas Gift for my husband. They operate year-round (so yes, you can zip line in the snow!) but since the trip there and back would take half the day, we needed to wait until Number 2 was a little older and nursing less often – luckily we had until June to use the deal. We rode a Gondola lift up the mountain, did a short training zip line and 3 big zip lines, walked across a suspension bridge and sat in a Unimog back to the Gondola lift down. Our guides were competent, friendly and I felt very safe with them. Although I’m not totally sure it would have been worth it at full price, my husband and I had a blast.

Zipline collage 2

The gondola lift and the view of NJ as we went up the mountain

Zipline collage 1

Left: The longest zip line (our barely visible landing deck marked with an arrow) and Right: my husband and I in our gear.

Our 2013 Summer Bucket List for a Happy Family

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Yes, Daddy has a funny smile but since the blog writer and the babies look great, this photo wins.

I love being creative, Pinterest sucks away hours of my life, I’ve been hoarding Family Fun, Crochet Today and other crafty magazines for as long as I can remember, and I’ve got about 5 million bookmarks on my laptop. But, I’m also the type of person that needs sticky notes in every room just to remember to take my vitamins. Too often I read an article and say, “We should totally do that!” and then completely forget about it. Or, after the kids are asleep, I think to myself, “Oh man, we should have done X fun thing today!” but, of course, it’s too late. So, when I found out about The Summer Bucket List Challenge last year and again this year, I joined excitedly – an easy way to ensure we’re not missing out on those special little things that create memories and make childhood magical? Yes, please! Plus, there are honestly no cons; it’s all-inclusive, pure fun.

But I still have a few other reasons why I like the Bucket List Challenge anyway:

  1. Literally writing out and displaying our Bucket List in the living room, where we’ll walk past the list multiple times a day, makes it impossible not think about which activity you could make time for (and for visually oriented people like me it’s even better).
  2. Since the Summer Bucket List Challenge is public, that makes everyone online my new accountability partners.
  3. I’m addicted to photo books and The Bucket List will make a great one!
  4. Did I mention I’m also an obsessive list maker?

This year’s Summer Bucket List Challenge, sponsored by The Happy Family Movement, begins on May 20 and lasts until Labor Day, Sept 2. (It’s free and fun so if you haven’t signed up yet, click here now – you won’t regret it). That time frame gives us exactly 3 months and 13 days to create some serious summer memories. Now, 13 has always held a special place in our family – it’s the day Nick and I decided to get married and we always try to do something small and special whenever a 13th falls on a Friday. So… I’m pretty sure this is some sort of cosmic sign that we’re destined to have The Best Summer Ever thanks to our Bucket List!

If you’re a long-time follower of my blog, I admit we did not publicly participate much last year because Number 2 arrived and the season turned out to be an overwhelming blur of preparing, caring and adjusting – more so than I ever imagined it would be. But, now that we’ve had time to get used to our new family dynamic and Number 2 is a little older and less demanding, we are SO READY!

What to do with 15 weeks, 105 days or 2,520 hours of potential fun? In order to make sure our list wasn’t overwhelming, my husband and I voted on 2 activities per week (or 30 total), with the option to add more (which we quickly did). We also decided we should add in some Adult Only dates too because we’re terrible at making them happen and because happy parents = a happy family. So, (drum roll, please) here is our 2013 Summer Bucket List:

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  1. Make Gak
  2. Go on a scavenger hunt
  3. Get ice cream from an ice cream truck (must be playing music)
  4. Ride bikes
  5. Go berry picking
  6. Go grocery shopping with O’s own cart and list
  7. Visit a farmer’s market
  8. Attend a baseball game
  9. Go swimming (first time!)
  10. Take advantage of BOA’s Free Museum Day
  11. Watch fireworks
  12. Play with water balloons
  13. Visit Sandy Hook beach (if re-opened)
  14. Go bowling (first time!)
  15. Visit the local zoo
  16. Trip to Boston
  17. Use sidewalk chalk
  18. Visit the Camden Aquarium
  19. Have a picnic
  20. Visit the Central Park Zoo
  21. Airbrushing
  22. Trip to California (first airplane!)
  23. Make stained glass with tissue paper
  24. ADULTS: Zip-line date
  25. ADULTS: Miniature Golf
  26. Bike on Governor’s Island
  27. Find a new fun park
  28. Play with bubbles
  29. Make popcicles (first time!)
  30. Ride a carnival coaster
  31. Have a one color meal
  32. ADULTS: Go to the movies
  33. Go on a firefly walk
  34. Visit Sesame Street Place

This year we’re going to document the things we cross off our List with lots of pictures. Stay tuned! Have you signed up yet? Do it NOW!!

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