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Your Good Life Guide to the Hudson Valley. It's Fun Here!
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Winter Fun for Kids

inside fun12 Activities to Beat the Cabin Fever Blues
By Apryl Duncan

Families tend to hibernate when the temperatures get colder, but there’s plenty of winter fun for kids and parents to enjoy together. You’ll forget all about the winter blahs with activities that keep all of you occupied until the spring thaw.

1.  Play Snow Games: You don’t have to tell kids to go outside and play in the snow. Try shaking up their snowsuits with winter play activities that include a snowy hike, outdoor hockey or a frosty game of frisbee. No white stuff where you live? Make fake snow so your kids can experience the same winter fun as their northern neighbors.

2.  Trace Your Family Tree: Help the kids learn about their family roots. They can interview you, their grandparents and other family members to hear the names and stories of people who’ve helped make them who they are today. Filling in the names on the family tree branches can keep their interest long after snowmen have melted and winter is gone.

3.  Watch a Family Movie at Home: Why spend a small fortune taking the families to the movies when you can stay at home for an even better theater experience? Host an unforgettable family movie night that’s more than a couple of hours sitting on the couch together. Let the kids create movie tickets, make snacks and open their own concession stand. After the movie’s over, let their inner critics write movie reviews.

4.  Start Scrapbooking: We all love our digital cameras. But then our pictures usually sit on a hard drive and aren’t viewed as much as the pictures we once took with our film cameras. Print your favorite pics and start scrapbooking with your kids. Theme your scrapbook pages for the winter and holidays with layout ideas and tips from other scrapbookers.

5.  Go Skating: Today’s kids are plugged into their online social networks and their video games. Take them back to your own childhood when a Saturday night meant a trip to the skating rink. Roller skate or inline skate with your family or get in a wintry mood with ice skating.

6.  Create a Website With Your Kids: It’s cold outside, so stay warm with the kids in front of the computer. Create a website together, even if you have no web design skills. You both can learn as you build a website that covers the life of their dog, a tribute to a favorite child star or a sampling of her short stories, to name a few of the possibilities. Learning how to maintain her own website is just one of many learning activities that are fun.

7.  Redecorate the Kids’ Rooms: Kids spend a lot of time within their four bedroom walls during the winter. Since you’re stuck inside, re-energize their rooms in the winter months. Work closely with them to choose colors, themes and accessories to give their bedrooms a new look. As much as you may not want that fluorescent green color on the wall, try to relax some of your rules to give them ownership of the project.

8.  Cook Together: We often unpack the cookie cutters around the holidays, but get the kids more involved in the kitchen. The youngest chefs-in-training can gather ingredients, help stir and clean up. Prepare crockpot soups and other winter recipes together to help your kids learn more about their food, nutrition values and healthy eating.

9.  Donate to a Charity: Get into the holiday spirit while teaching your kids how to be thankful. With so many charitable organizations relying on donations around the holidays, your kids can buy toys for less fortunate children or even pack up a shoe box of items with a personal note to send to children overseas. Pick any charity you feel is worthy or specifically look for holiday-related charity projects.

10.  Volunteer Your Family’s Time: Let the kids volunteer during the winter. There are plenty of kid-friendly charity events where your family’s help would be greatly appreciated. Serve food to the homeless for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Visit the elderly at a nursing home or hospital. Help your local animal shelter during an adopt-a-thon. Look over volunteer websites that match you and your family to the right opportunity based on your interests. Exposing your children to volunteering can open the door for a lifetime of service to others.

11.  Make Your Own Wrapping Paper: As children get ready to swap gifts with their friends, skip the high-priced wrapping paper at the store. Make your own wrapping paper with rubber stamps, and let the kids personalize it with their crayons, markers or stickers. Use the same ideas to create more handmade packages, such as gift boxes and gift bags.

12.  Build Model Cars or a Dollhouse: Enjoy one-on-one time with your kids when you take on classic hobbies. Building die cast cars and dollhouses keeps you busy on those cold winter days and requires you and your children to work together as a team to complete the project.

If you’re not sure you can handle these types of projects on your own at first, take the kids to a Lowe’s Build and Grow workshop or a Home Depot Kids workshop. These workshops encourage kids to build everything from bug houses to schoolhouses, and you can assist them as they create something out of wood.

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Family Traditions to Ring in the New Year

2015By: Sharon Damon

A lot of people consider New Year’s to be an adult celebration, and, indeed, the late-night drop of the ball on Time’s Square and other revelry does make it appear to the focus. While many folks go out for the evening, some opt to stay home and do family activities, instead. It is possible to include children in new traditions that don’t involve partying, drinking or even going out of the home!

  1. Make a New Year’s Day dinner special for the entire family. Gather to celebrate the special new beginning and start a new tradition. Hold hands as each member of the family recalls something special that happened to them during the past year. Listen and respond, letting each member of the family know that they are recognized.
  2. Have each member of the family make a card for another, telling that person what they love or appreciate most about them. Share at dinner time.
  3. Start a new tradition at New Year’s with every member of the family being encouraged to put a note in a “Memory Jar” whenever something significant happens to them during the year. Decorate the jar (including the year) and display it, so you can see how it fills up. Remind and encourage children (and adults) to celebrate their successes this way. Then, on New Year’s Eve or on New Year’s Day, each person takes turn picking something from the jar to read and share until the jar is empty.
  4. Have everyone write down one thing they want to leave behind with the new year. It can be an argument, hurt feelings, resentment or anything that bothers them – they don’t have to share. Then make a pact to leave that behind as you burn the paper in the fireplace, on the barbecue or fire pit. This symbolic act will teach kids that it’s okay to let feelings go.
  5. If you are staying home with young children on New Year’s Eve, have a special celebration together. Even if not at midnight, have special treats like fondue, a cheese ball, tasty desserts or other treats to make the evening special. Watch a favorite movie together, or some of the New Year’s eve celebrations around the world that are broadcast on TV. Wear jammies, robes and slippers and welcome the New Year together. My kids used to love doing this every year, even when they were young teens.
  6. Don’t make Resolutions. Most are lost within the first couple of weeks and all this does is teach kids that promises aren’t kept. Instead, talk about a healthier or more positive lifestyle. Ask kids what they would like to do the next year – new things to try, new activities or games to experience. Take a class together, whether it’s sports related, origami, cooking or candle making. This can be one of the most enjoyable things you remember long afterward. Get a kit at a craft store and try something new at home with the kids.
  7. Buy disposable or inexpensive cameras for each member of the family and make getting out and about in all weather more enjoyable. Share photos and make an album, either online or in a scrapbook, to commemorate these special times. Make one day during the first week of the year your first exploration day and try to keep this up at least once per week. This could lead to more time spent together and give a life-long love of photography to a family member.
  8. Count your blessing – literally. Make an advent chain, with each strip of paper holding one thing that you are thankful for. This can be done by all members of the family. Concentrate on the positive not the negative. Keep it going and see how long it can get! Make sure everyone contributes at least one chain and read it before it’s put on. This may sound hokey, but when things are tough, counting your blessings can really be a good exercise.