We love love love pick-your-own farms. And so we recently took our second trip to Kelder Farms in as many months. Kelder Farms is in Kerhonkson, NY, which really, for my kids, just getting to say Kerhonkson over and over was enough of a reason to go back.
And we had an even better time the second time around, which actually, I found kind of surprising because you know how you go somewhere and have a blast and then you go again and you're like, hmmm, I really thought this place was more fun. So yeah, this place is.
First of all, and as a double stroller toting parent, I think this is the biggest plus over every other farm we have ever been to - you can drive your car down to the picking fields. And not only
can you drive down there, but you can then drive from field to field, from strawberries to cucumbers to beets. Awesome. You know what, it's so awesome, that if you are using your stroller for anyone over the age of even walking a little bit, you can leave your stroller at home. I know. Crazy. But that empty trunk will leave more space for all the fruits and vegetables you pick.
Second of all, when you're done picking, there's still a TON to do. Mini golf, a bounce house, a petting zoo, a cow milking station, huge wooden vehicles to climb, a hay ride and of course, because you are with kids, a covered area with picnic tables to have lunch. And, because it seems that these guys know their customers, kosher ice cream. My kids could have moved in.
Here's a look at what we did.
We picked corn and potatoes - two vegetables we had never picked before.
Below, the sign that greeted us as we drove down to the picking fields. Just crazy.
It's true - involving kids in preparing food really does help them eat it.
They picked the green beans and blueberries and actually ate them.
These are definitely not backyard climby toys.
The perfect way to tire them all out so they sleep on the way home.
The cutest mini-golf course ever.
But we played less than one hole before it started raining,
which is kind of why we went back a second time.
The rain. The big big rain.
So much fun and absolutely on our to-do list next summer.
So yes, these don't actually catch the sun on a rainy day but they do make for a good rainy day activity.
And they really could not be any easier.
In the past, we have made suncatchers with parchment paper and mod podge glue and while very fun, also very messy.
These are neat and clean and perfect for my mom - who was here when we made them.
Start by unrolling some clear contact paper (on sale now with the school supplies, although I'm not really sure what kind of function this serves in school). Before you take the paper-backing off of the contact paper, use a sharpie and draw a picture on the non-sticky clear side.
We drew a sun, a rainbow and a cupcake. My seven year old was too cool to make one of these.
Next, gather some sheets of tissue paper and cut them up into small pieces.
Then carefully peel off the contact paper backing to reveal the sticky side.
Lay the contact paper, sticky side up, on your table.
The kids can then stick one piece of tissue paper at a time over the drawing that you made. This takes a while, which is kind of the point on a rainy day.
Keep sticking tissue paper pieces over the drawing. Don't worry if the pieces go out of the lines, this won't matter once the project in completed.
Once the kids are done with the tissue paper part of the project, cut more pieces of contact paper, take off the paper backing and use the sticky pieces to sandwich the tissue paper between both pieces of contact paper.
Using a sharp scissor, cut out the tissue paper sandwich following the original shapes that you drew.
Now you can either punch a hole through the suncatcher and hang in a window or just tape them onto the window, which is way easier.
Now just wait for the sun to come out.
We recently found the most amazing park for little kids - and it's always empty - which means I don't have to chase anyone. I can stand in one place and watch all the kids play and not worry about any Stranger Danger. My kind of place.
It's called Fireman's Park at White Sulphur Springs, which sounds really fancy (at least to me) but in reality, it's in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Unless you happen to live right there and then you
will probably be insulted by that statement. But you shouldn't be. The more time I spend in upstate NY this summer, the more I realize that I could totally become a local and would really be able to walk away from city life without a backward glance - except for that whole husband's job back in the city thing.
Anyway, I digress. If you should find yourself in the vicinity of Monticello, NY looking for something really fun (free) to do with kids (probably 8 and younger), then you should check out this park.
It has a huge (huge) sandbox that comes with toys (make sure to Purell after you're done, you know?) where my two year old sat for hours. There are several fireman themed climbing structures, a jungle gym, baby and big-kid swings, tons of picnic tables, a baseball diamond, a basketball court, and most importantly, benches. Oh, and also one of those merry-go-round things where you run while pushing it around and then jump on.
I could see this as being an awesome place to have an outdoor birthday party.
I could also see this park as being very crowded on the weekends.
So try to visit during the week. And bring snacks. Because, like in much of upstate NY, there is not a 7-Eleven to be found anywhere.
It was really humid outside today - too humid to run around, too humid to play ball and too humid use chalk. It was even too humid to drive to the hardware store and pick up a hose that actually has a nozzle attached so we could use the sprinkler.
So instead, we did some quiet digging in the shade.
There is a spot under the deck that is full of small rocks, almost like the pebbles one might find at the bottom of a really nice fish tank - you know, like in your dentist's office. I have been looking at these rocks for weeks, trying to figure out what we could do with them. And then I realized, we could use them to make aquariums. Not real aquariums - we don't do pets, but make-believe aquariums, which in my opinion, is the best kind.
We drink a lot of seltzer in this house and so we have many many empty seltzer bottles hanging around. We began our aquarium journey by ripping the labels off the outside of some seltzer bottles. Unfortunately, we were left with the sticky residue that attracted a lot of tiny pieces of grass and dirt, but mostly everyone* was okay with it.
Each kid filled his or her seltzer bottle about 1/3 full with the rocks. Then we added water, some blue food coloring and closed the bottles tightly with their caps. Then we shook the bottles until the water was blue (and somewhat dirty from the rocks, but after a few minutes the dirt started to settle to the bottom of the bottle so all was well.)
Then each kid who can draw fish, drew fish on a few scraps of foam sheets leftover from something else. After everyone had their turn to cut out their fish (we're working with one scissor here this summer, and I should mention it's a safety scissor), we dropped (or stuffed, depending on their size) the fish into the bottles of blue water.
Sadly, as foam floats, so did the fish and they all wound up floating to the top. On the bright side, having never had pet fish, my kids did not know that this is what dead fish do.
We did learn, however, that shaking the bottle vigorously forces the fish to sink somewhat, mimicking swimming. Phew!
The kids had a ball playing with their aquariums - shaking them to trigger earthquakes and tornadoes and having their Rescue Heroes (or Barbies, depending on who you are) save the fish and of course, the day.
*The two year old, not so much. She's prim and proper, unlike the rest of my children. She likes to use a fork for pizza. And sometimes for a cookie too.
So for starters, any time the kids are the kitchen with me, I'm a little stressed. I really enjoy cooking with them, but at the same time, I am always terrified that someone will get a cut or wind up with a burn. As a little kid, I think I was four, I badly burned my wrist when I ran into the kitchen and crashed into my mom as she was innocently draining a pot of noodles into the sink. And the boiling water splashed on me.
I'm a little neurotic about using the baby gates on all the entrances to my kitchen - one from the hall, one from the basement steps and one from the dining room. However, you might remember that we are not home this summer and so I am out of my kitchen-element. And there are no doorways to this summer kitchen; the entire first floor living space is one big area. I love that in a house. But these days, I am the gate. Which makes cooking or baking something I like to do after the kids are asleep.
But the kids have been wanting to make lemonade. And never having made lemonade before, I didn't really think it was cooking. Except it is.
Here's the how-to. Just be careful with the lemon cutting and sugar-syrup making.
We gathered together a bag of lemons, sugar, water, a measuring cup, a smallish pot, some kind of lemonade pitcher and a ton of paper towels. We also had some ice cubes on standby in the freezer.
Our bag of lemons had six lemons, so we used five in the actual lemonade and one for a fancy garnish. Although I'm not sure that that was the best use of the last lemon. I kind of feel like I was the only one who appreciated the floating lemons and ice.
Start by pouring one cup water and one cup sugar into the small pot. Bring to a boil, lower the flame to a simmer and stir constantly until all the sugar is dissolved. Let the mixture cool on the stove - preferably on a back burner, where little hands cannot reach.
While you are working on the sugar-syrup, hand out the lemons to the kids. Show them how to use their palms to press firmly on the lemons, rolling them so the lemons release their juices. This step is not a must, but it does help get more juice out of the lemons. And also, it's an activity. I told the kids they had to do this for at least five minutes.
Next, cut the lemons in half, allowing each kid to have a turn squeezing the lemons into the measuring cup. This is where the paper towels come in - the is very messy and very wet. But fun. You'll see.
This is also when you will learn, judging by their ability to squeeze the lemon, which of your children needs some occupational therapy.
While the kids are squeezing, you will be busy catching the seeds. Or you can just strain the lemon juice when you are done, but we didn't have a strainer. Or a lemon juicer. That would have been helpful too.
The goal is to squeeze 3/4 cup of juice from the lemons but a little more or a little less won't make a difference.
Pour the juice from the lemon (not to be confused with lemon juice, which comes in a bottle from the supermarket) into the lemonade pitcher. Add the sugar-syrup and mix well. The next step had us adding five cups of water. Instead, we added three cups of water and two cups of plain seltzer
because my soda-deprived children liked the idea of making lemonade soda.
Throw in some ice cubes and slice up that last lemon as if you were Martha herself. Throw them into the lemonade (remember to take the seeds out of the slices first) and let it all sit there for a while, preferably in the fridge, or as in our case, on the counter so everyone can stand there and gaze lovingly at the lemonade.
After the ice cubes have had a chance to do their thing, pour some and drink.
Initially, my kids were wary of tasting it but once one of them tasted, the rest followed. And three out of four loved it. My two year old tasted it and said "bad". I tasted it and almost passed out from the cloying sweetness - but I am not sure if it's because there was actually too much sugar in it or because my taste buds are so not used to sugar anymore (hi Moldie!) - you know, with the whole clean eating thing.
Either way, thumbs up from the kids. Thumbs down from the parents. But most fun childhood things are like that anyway, right?
Sometimes the easiest ideas turn out to be the most fun. Even when they look like they're going to tank while you're making it.
We made chalk paint. Start by gathering some supplies.
In six easy steps, here's the how-to:
1. Put some chalk in sandwich bags, one bag per color.
2. Pound the life out of the chalk with a hammer. But do it gently or else the bags will develop tiny holes that you will not be aware of until you lift the bag up to pour the chalk powder into cups.
3. Pour the chalk powder into cups.
4. Add water. We experimented with boiling water to see if the powder would dissolve easier, but it didn't seem to work, so just for the record, cold water is fine.
6. Paint - on your driveway, the sidewalk in front of the house, on the side of your house. Wherever. Cause guess what? There's no clean-up! The wonderful rain will do it for you!*
So why did we think this would tank? When we first started painting on the blacktop driveway, we couldn't see the colors. We worried. We thought maybe we should just use it on some white paper. But then the chalk paint started to dry and the colors became so vibrant and so pretty that random neighbors started commenting on it. In a good way.
*Do you remember those Sweet Pickles books from years ago? That's a direct quote from Pig, the ever cheerful town resident.
Are you a Mom?
Of course you are,
your shirt is dirty :)