Let the October Fun Begin: It’s Pumpkin Patch Family Time!

“I want one that’s not too small and not too big,” my six year old told me as we made our way through the admissions entrance of Shady Brook Farm. Picking the “perfect” pumpkin has become just as involved as selecting the right Christmas tree for us. It must have a long enough stem with a slight curve, have a nice round shape, be smooth with minimal to no blemishes, lumps or bumps. It all started five years ago when my husband and I brought Quinn to the pumpkin patch for a little family fun.

Now, it is a wonderful family tradition filled with fun activities, smiles and laughter. My mother has even joined us for the past four years, and we all come ready with our gardening gloves for handling the pumpkins, large bags for carrying them and keen eyes for finding the right ones for our pumpkin decorating projects.

While going to the pumpkin patch is the main purpose of our outing, we also enjoy the many activities available from the corn maize, play ground, moon bounces, entertainment and various games. Of course, we could easily get a pumpkin at the local Giant or grocery store, but I look forward to this family tradition and especially the family togetherness that comes from this day long outing at Shadybrook Farm. If you are local to the Bucks County, PA area and looking for a fall activity for your family, give it a try!

All the best,

Tanya H. Franklin

Autumn “Leaves” Fun Chores for My Little Girl!

“This is the best chore of the day, Mommy,” my five year old excitedly told me. It’s that time of the year where autumn is in full swing. Trees display beautiful leaves in hues of red, yellow and orange that we all gaze at and admire. Unfortunately, those very leaves eventually fall to the ground leaving behind that dreaded chore for many adults to continuously rake them all up for the next month or longer, depending on how many of these beautiful trees surround their homes.

I actually don’t mind it so much because I often daydream about when I was younger jumping in the leaves or just making that crunchy sound as I walked down the street stepping on leaves. My daughter has the same love for nature that I have. This morning, after getting home from my kickboxing workout, the sun was shining, and the leaves covered most of our grass and portions of our sidewalk, so I figured that I’d get a little more exercise by raking the leaves.

Automatically, Quinn said, “I want to help too, Mommy! I love raking the leaves!” My sweet girl has been helping since she was just one years old, and each year, she gets better and better. We made it a family activity along with her dad and spent about an hour outside clearing the colorful leaves. She even wanted to hold onto some of the leaves so that she could identify what trees they came from.

I love how we can have fun doing chores and truly enjoy each other’s company. These are the colorful moments we share together, and I will always cherish them.

All the best,

Tanya

Abracadabra! Having Magical Autumn Fun Creating Abby Cadaby the Pumpkin!

Last year, it was Marshall from Paw Patrol, the year before it was Super Grover. This year when I asked my daughter how she wanted to decorate her pumpkin, without hesitation, she said, “Abby Cadaby!” She then excitedly went through the shopping list without taking a breath. “Mommy, we’re going to need pink paint, brushes, purple and pink yarn for her hair and google eyes just like Super Grover had when we made a pumpkin to look like him.” Just this past weekend we had such a fun time at Shadybrook Farm selecting our pumpkins at the pumpkin patch, and shortly after arriving home my four year old wanted to get started right away and bringing pumpkin Abby to life.

When Quinn was two, she needed quite a bit of assistance from me to make sure the paint got on the pumpkin instead of everywhere else. Two years later, she  sat beside her nana, who was decorating her own pumpkin, held the sponge brush steadily in her little hand and barely needed my help at all. My job was mainly to adhere the eye balls and yarn hair with the hot glue gun because we established that part was a job for an adult.

Since this pumpkin is probably double the size of the Super Grover one, I’m not too sure if we’ll do a full-size Abby, but I have a feeling that Quinn will be successful in persuading me to give Abby a body, outfit and even her magic wand, especially since we won the contest at my college for our Super Grover Pumpkin.

Selecting pumpkins together is a fun autumn activity, but decorating them together is a certainly a magical experience that I will always cherish and hope that my daughter does too.

All the best,

Tanya

My Little Pumpkin at the Patch: Fun at Shadybrook Farm

Though she struggled and let out a little grunt, my daughter’s eyes were filled with joy as she attempted to carry her huge pumpkin she selected with her daddy. After searching for about fifteen minutes or so, she beamed and said, “That’s the one I want!” It sure was a big one, much larger than the ones she’s selected in the past few years. Since Quinn was one years old we’ve been taking her to Shadybrook Farm to pick out a special pumpkin to decorate and to have a little autumn fun. It’s now a four year tradition we all look forward to doing, and yesterday was no different.

Even though there was major overcast and cloud coverage, the weather was perfect: not too cold and not too hot with the sun peeking through the clouds on occasion. We enjoyed the hayride, and this year Quinn eagerly navigated through the pumpkin patch with a pep in her step alongside her dad, nana and me not too far behind her. After selecting her pumpkin, we enjoyed some treats, did many of the activities and headed home ready to decorate our pumpkins.

Yes, we could have simply went to the local grocery store to get a pumpkin, but having this family tradition and experiencing family togetherness is definitely a better and far more memorable experience.

If you live in the Philadelphia area near or in Bucks County, I urge you to consider taking your family to Shadybrook Farm to not only pick your pumpkins but your apples too at a nominal fee. We actually paid half priced by bringing in non-perishable canned goods. There’s so much to do for children and adults of all ages. I’m sure you’ll have a great time just like my family does every year.

All the best,

Tanya

Halloween & Fall Fun with My Little Girl 

I’ve always loved the fall season, and not just because my birthday is in October but because there’s so many wonderful activities and ways to have family fun. Last year, I did many activities with my little girl, and now that she’s three and in preschool during the week, she’s even more eager to have some autumn weekend fun. I didn’t want this season to go by without taking out some time to reflect on this fall and Halloween season.

Usually, I’d post separate entries on our adventures, but our new and very busy schedule has been an ongoing transition for us both. But I could not allow this season to go by without acknowledging all of the fun moments we’ve been having together.

This year, we kept with tradition, and my husband, Quinn and I went to a local pumpkin patch, Shadybrook Farms, to select pumpkins to decorate and to have some fun doing the different activities. Though it did rain a little, it was awesome seeing how much more involved she was in the pumpkin selecting process. She was so excited to get home and work on her pumpkin. Since Quinn loves Paw Patrol, we made a Marshall pumpkin, and it was actually quite effortless with the help of a kit from Target.

For the first time, we were able to attend the Harvest Festival in our township where there were hayrides, bouncers, face painting, treats and other activities. Though many of the bouncers were geared towards older children ,which was a bit frustrating for my little girl, especially since she wanted to follow behind her older cousin, she really enjoyed having her face painted like Hello Kitty.

While it does not involve what adults would be considered a “fun” activity, Quinn had a blast helping my husband and me rake leaves. Of course, she insisted on jumping in them after she helped rake a big pile of them together. Her laugh is absolutely infectious!

We couldn’t have Halloween and fall fun without visiting Quinn’s favorite amusement park, Sesame Place. We planned on attending last Saturday, but it was rained off and on all day. Though I had tons of papers to grade on Sunday, I carved out a few hours to take Quinn there so that she could see the Halloween version of the Sesame Place parade. We sat and waited on the parade route for over an hour to ensure that we had a good spot (it was already packed with people waiting). Just to see my little girl’s face light up with excitement made the wait well worth it.

Another “first” was attending the Halloween party at our local library for children five and under last Monday, October 24th. Even “Llama Llama, Red Pajama” stopped by to entertain the children. It was far more crowded than I anticipated, approximately 50 kids, but Quinn thoroughly enjoyed herself and didn’t want to leave. She’s always liked going to the library, but she now associates it with a fun-filled time.

This makes the third year in a row that we’ve attended the “Boo at the Zoo” event at the Philadelphia Zoo, and as always, it did not disappoint. Though I did not have Quinn wear her actual Halloween costume for fear of it getting dirty (It’s all white), she and my niece, who accompanied us, had a great time trick or treating, learning interesting facts, riding a few animals and seeing some of the animals as well. Plus, it’s always fun to see all of the children in their costumes.

Even though I haven’t been posting as frequently as I usually do, I am grateful for the moments I’m creating with my daughter. I love her so much and truly do enjoy our time together as a family. Here’s to autumn and Halloween fun! My fingers are crossed for good trick or treating weather tomorrow.

All the best,

Tanya

 

 

Halloween Fun with Mother and Daughter Doc McStuffins and Lambie Costumes

Doc McStuffins and Lambie/Mother and Daughter Costumes

Doc McStuffins and Lambie/Mother and Daughter Costumes

Mommy and Quinn Lambie and DocI truly do enjoy having a child; one reason is because we have formed such a special bond in such a short duration of time. Another is that she brings out the child in me. While some people stick up their noses at the idea of parent and child dressing alike or think it’s corny, I’m one of those mothers who loves having coordinating outfits with my daughter. They usually are not identical, but there is a color theme or character theme uniting them.

Halloween is an excellent opportunity to display that mother/daughter bond. Last year, Quinn and I were super heroes to get the most out of the costumes from her first birthday party with a super hero theme; she was Super Quinn, and I was Super Mom. This year, Quinn wanted to be Doc McStuffins, so I, of course, had to be Lambie, Doc McStuffins’ helpful stuffed toy lamb and friend. Yesterday, Quinn and I went to The Please Touch Museum’s Halloween Monster Mash Bash donning our costumes. Though we spotted two other Doc McStuffins, we were the only Doc and Lambie duo and received several compliments on our costumes; there were even a few people who asked if they could take a picture of us.

While I was able to find and purchase Quinn’s Doc McStuffins costume at a local Halloween store, with a 20 percent off coupon of course, mine was not as easy. I did an online search for a lamb and even a sheep costume but only found costumes for young children. Then it occurred to me, I’m crafty and love special projects; why not create my own costume? Since I received so many compliments on my Lambie costume, I figured I share what I did to create it if you are in a similar situation.

Firstly, I purposely selected clothing items that I could potentially use in the future so that I could justify spending money beyond what I anticipated to make the costume.

Target was actually my “go-to” store for most of my outfit. I purchased my knitted hat for $14. The lamb faux fur vest, which was the most costly item at $34.99, a long sleeve white shirt for $8 and pink tutu socks for $2. (Though the total is $59, I had a $5 gift card and saved $3 more by using my Target debit card for a total of $51)

Amazon was my other “go-to.” I ordered my white fleece tights for $11.99 through them and a pair of white yoga pants for $14.95 as a back-up since we have a few outings lined up, and know I will wear them in the future. Though I liked the fit of the yoga pants better because of my height, (I am about 5′ 11”) I opted to wear the tights, which are for a woman of average height, to the Please Touch Museum because they went better with the tutu socks and were fitted around the ankle instead of loose. I also ordered my pink tutu through Amazon, which was far cheaper than getting it from one of the Halloween or party stores for just $10.

To pull the rest of the costume together, I ordered the lamb ears and tail through an Etsy business, TechnicandyLand for $14. They were good quality and had clips so that I could easily attach them onto my beanie hat or even clip them to my hair if I wished. I used elastic crotchet hair bands from AC Moore for just $1.50 for my wrists (Initially, I intended on doing this for my ankles too but just did not have enough time, so I purchased the socks) and didn’t have to purchase tulle because I had plenty left over from previous projects to make the tutu sleeves along with the signature pink bow Lambie wears, but the cost is usually around $3 or $4 or even cheaper if you have a 50 percent off coupon, which I usually have for AC Moore or Michaels.

In regard to making up my face, I used make-up that I already had available rather than buying a face paint kit.

In adding up the total cost, it’s a little over $100, which certainly is more than I would be willing to pay for a costume at a Halloween store, but when I minus out the clothing I will still wear after Halloween or without it being a special event, the total remaining is about $20. I actually purchased a faux vest for my daughter to wear on one of our coordinated “theme” dressing days. Also, the fun I got from putting together this costume and getting input from Quinn made it all worth it.

All the best,

Tanya

Autumn Fun with My Little One (Part Seven) Please Touch Museum Monster Mash

2015-10-24 21.46.51All week long, I’ve been posting entries on the autumn fun my two year old daughter and I have been having. Unfortunately, yesterday, I failed to post an entry, but it was for a good reason. Quinn, her daddy and I were out partying with her little friend Arya and her parents and having so much fun at the Please Touch Museum’s annual Halloween Monster Mash Bash. When we came home, the bed was calling my name.

Last year, we attended the event and had a great time, but now that she understands the concept of Halloween and was excited about getting dressed up, we had an even better time. As members of the Please Touch Museum, we we granted entry one hour before the general public and able to visit the different food and treat stations. We enjoyed free carousel rides from 4:30 pm to 8:30 pm and took silly pictures in the photo booth as part of our ticket purchase of $15 per person.

In addition to Quinn visiting the different exhibits and activity rooms, such as the supermarket and hospital, we saw a puppet show and were able to snag seats in the front row of the packed auditorium. Quinn actively participated when the puppeteer asked questions of the audience and even asked if she could see the show again. But there was so much more to do, so we didn’t make our way back to the show.

Then, we hit the dance floor where Clifford the Big Red Dog was hanging out, along with many other children with their families, Quinn and her friend Arya immediately began to dance displaying their fancy footwork!

Though we were there for four hours, not counting the time we waited in line to gain entry, the time really flew by, and Quinn was not ready to leave. But my husband jokingly said that I looked like I was having more fun than Quinn. He’s probably right! Seeing the smile on Quinn’s face and hearing her say, “I’m having fun, Mommy!” without me asking her made me feel so good.

All the best,

Tanya

The doctor is in!

The doctor is in!

2015-10-24 19.09.30-1

Fun on the Carousel

2015-10-24 18.26.05

Quinn dancing with Clifford

Autumn Fun with My Little One (Part Six) Creating Super Grover the Pumpkin!

Making a Super Grover Pumpkin with Quinn

Making a Super Grover Pumpkin with Quinn

One of my first entries this week was about having autumn fun with my two year old daughter involved going to a pumpkin patch. She had a great time, happily selected her pumpkin and probably had no idea that we would be decorating it. But when I asked, she knew exactly what she wanted: a Grover pumpkin. Some months back, I did a post on how Quinn likes Elmo but absolutely loves Grover from Sesame Street. So of course, this was who came to mind when I asked her how she wanted to decorate her pumpkin. I was excited to do this project with her because it hadn’t decorated a pumpkin since I was a child myself, but I had to give some thought about how we were going to do this special project.

First, we needed the materials for the basic Grover. They are as follows:

  1. Blue acrylic paint and black acrylic paint (I purchased them from AC Moore using a 50 percent off coupon)
  2. A pink sponge clown nose to resemble Grover’s (Since it’s near Halloween, this was easy to find at Party City for about a dollar)
  3. Jiggly eyes (I purchased these from AC Moore but later saw them at the local Dollar Tree where I would have saved a dollar off of the total)
  4. A red pipe cleaner for the mouth (I actually had one available and didn’t need to purchase it)
  5. Cardboard to make Grover’s body (I used a box I had lying around from an online purchase)
  6. A Sharpee for tracing body parts
  7. Scissors to cut the body
  8. Hot glue and hot glue gun to adhere the eyes, nose, and mouth
  9. Paint sponges brushes and a cup to hold the paint (I had some from a previous project)
  10. A ruler or tape measure

When Quinn saw the progress we were making, she asked if we could make Super Grover. So Super Grover the pumpkin became. I just needed to figure out how to do it and what additional materials I would need.

  1. Card stock or thick scrap book paper (I got this at AC Moore with a coupon too, so I only paid 25 cents.)
  2. Aluminum Foil (I had this available)
  3. One gray felt sheet, one red felt sheet and one yellow felt sheet (Purchased at AC Moore)
  4. Marker for tracing the red letter G and the yellow lightening bolt (I used a fine point Sharpee that I already had)
  5. About ten paper fasteners (I actually had from a project years prior)
  6. Regular glue that dries clear (I already have tons)

Between work, chores and other activities with Quinn, making our pumpkin into Super Grover certainly was not a one day project. It spanned over two weeks: one week for painting the pumpkin and adhering the facial features and the second week for transforming Grover into Super Grover and giving him a body, G, lightening bolt and cape.

Something that I’ve always been good at is looking at a picture or sample and recreating it. Since Quinn has both Grover and Super Grover, I was able to use them as models for doing the pumpkin. Here are the steps I followed, but this was my first time, so feel free to modify them if you want to try to create your own Grover:

  1. Using the sponge brushes, Quinn and I painted the entire pumpkin, minus part of the bottom because the top had to dry first. Though the paint dries within an hour, I waited a few hours and then retouched any areas where orange was still showing. After the pumpkin dried over night, we did one more coat and then made sure to paint any parts on the bottom that were still orange.
  2. After the pumpkin was blue, I used Grover as my model and then measured the size of my pumpkin to determine how far apart the eyes, nose and mouth should be from one another. Then, I marked the locations and painted on the black mouth which I let dry for a few hours and then added a couple of more coats.
  3. After the pumpkin was blue with the black mouth, I used my hot glue gun and glue to adhere the jiggly eyes, pink sponge nose and the red pipe cleaner mouth.
  4. Voila, you have Grover!
  5. To turn Grover into Super Grover, I looked at the helmet of Quinn’s Super Grover doll to get an idea of how it was constructed. I then stumbled across a Super Grover helmet template from Sesame Street’s web site which was very helpful in creating the helmet. Once I saw this, I was able to determine how many sections would be needed. I did five: one for the face mask, two for the temples that wrap around the head, one for the little piece on the front of the face mask and one for to cover the circumference of the head, which I measured with measuring tape.
  6. After figuring out the size of the pieces I would need, I traced them out using the scrap book paper (with the exception of the piece to cover the circumference of the head which was gray felt and left for the last part), cut them but left a little extra paper for the two pieces to wrap around the temple so that I could double check my measurements by putting it around the actual pumpkin. Then, I covered them with aluminum foil and used a little glue to make sure the foil stayed on the paper. The paper fasteners were used to hold the helmet together and to add the felt which would cover the head. Of course, we put the helmet on Super Grover the Pumpkin’s head to make sure it would fit, and it did!
  7. Then it was time to make Super Grover’s body. Once more, I looked at the model and viewed a few pictures online to get an idea of the body proportions and then used cardboard from an old package box and a Sharpee to draw the torso, arms and legs with some of Quinn’s help (I actually used one piece for the legs but cut a triangular shape in between so that presence of the two legs were obvious. Once I cut out the body parts, I used more of my trusty paper fasteners to connect the arms and legs to the torso.
  8. My daughter actually did most of the painting with the body of Super Grover with some of my help in going over any areas she missed. We then let the one side dry for a few hours and then did the other side.
  9. While Super Grover’s body was drying, we got to work on his red letter G, yellow lightening bolt and red cape using the felt sheets. This also involved looking at the model Grover, measuring the torso of Super Grover and then tracing out the appropriate pieces.
  10. Once our trusty super hero was all dry, about a few hours later, we were able to add the lightening bolt and G with a little regular glue and then the red cape with a little glue.
Quinn and her Super Grover and Super Grover the Pumpkin

Quinn and her Super Grover and Super Grover the Pumpkin

We just finished earlier today, and Quinn was so excited asked, “Can we take a picture with my two Super Grovers?” Of course, I was happy to oblige. Yes, this project was quite involved, but it was a wonderful opportunity to do something fun and special with my little girl. There’s actually a decorative contest at my job next week, and I am thinking that Quinn and I should enter it. How awesome would it be for our Super Grover to win!

All the best,

Tanya

Autumn Fun with My Little One (Part Five) Let’s Make Like a Tree and Leave, Leaves!

Quinn Loves Raking Leaves

                                 Quinn Loves Raking Leaves

All this week, I’ve been posting blog entries about the autumn fun my two year daughter and I have had thus far this season. While going to a pumpkin patch, the zoo for a little trick-or-treating and putting on a festive Halloween outfit have all been fun; there’s one activity we just did that may not necessarily be delightful for adults but certainly is for most young children. It can be labor intensive and sometimes feel never-ending for some adults; it’s raking leaves! Yesterday, as we were returning from The Little Gym, and going up the steps to our home, my daughter turned to me and said, “Look at all these leaves, Mommy! We have to clean up all these leaves! Please!” Wow, now that is delightful: a child who is eager to help do a chore. I promised Quinn that we’d clean up the leaves today when I got home from work, and she was elated. It actually was the perfect day for raking leaves: a comfortable 77 degree autumn day. While I had the big rake, Quinn had her little rake helping to build up the pile of leaves. “Oh boy; that’s a huge pile of leaves,” she said with jubilation as she got ready to jump in the leaves. Unlike last year, when she threw the leaves everywhere, she actually tried to keep them all in the pile together. After about an hour, she was ready to call it a day, but she had a great time. When my husband came out on the porch to see how she was doing, with a big smile on her face, she screamed out, “Daddy, I was working! Look at all those leaves in the huge pile!”

Let’s hope this activity continues to be fun as Quinn gets older and that she holds on to that excitement when she rakes up that “huge” pile of leaves.

All the best,

Tanya

Autumn Fun with My Little One (Part Three) Boo at the Zoo

Quinn Riding a Camel at the Zoo

Quinn Riding a Camel at the Zoo

I just love the month of October, and not just because my birthday is October 11th but because it’s a month full of fun activities for my two year old daughter. During the summer, I posted an entry about how much fun Quinn has at the Philadelphia Zoo. That fun is magnified for two weekends in October as Quinn is able to not only see lions, giraffes, zebras and monkeys (and many more animals) but little robots, aliens, dragons, doctors and several famous characters from some of her favorite shows.
This past Saturday, Quinn and I got our money’s worth from our zoo membership and attended the Boo at the Zoo event along with several other families and children. Though we went last year, Quinn was not fully aware of the concept of children wearing costumes, but this year she giddily pointed out every character she recognized. “Mommy, there’s Minnie Mouse! Look, I see a princess! Oh, there’s another Minnie Mouse. That’s two!” Also, Quinn was able to practice saying, “Trick or Treat” at the different stations where she received candy. (Which she rarely has but was excited to have put in her bag). I was so proud of her for putting her shyness aside and saying “Trick or Treat” and “Thank you” without me prompting her to do so. This certainly was a great trial run. On top of trick or treating, Quinn and I both enjoyed craft activities, riding on the carousel, a draft horse and a train. Since the weather was brisk, the camel was a bit temperamental, so only children were permitted to ride. At first, I was a little nervous about Quinn being on the camel by herself, but she put on her serious face, held on like a big girl and told me she had fun riding the camel. If you are in the Philadelphia area, the Boo at the Zoo event continues this upcoming weekend, October 24th and 25th. It is fun for the entire family, and I highly recommend it if you are looking for an alternative to taking your child or children trick or treating or are just looking for another outing for full of fun activities.

All the best,

Tanya