Category: Party

6 Easy Trick or Treat Alternatives

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This year, trick or treat may look and feel a bit different. Many parents are rethinking ways to enjoy the candy filled spooky season without creating a super spreader event. Even my own family is working on a COVID friendly treat distribution. But, what if you aren’t totally feeling the traditional walking door to door for candy?

Here are 6 easy alternatives to trick our treating:

CANDY HUNT

Make the kids work a little harder this year for their stash of candy. Hide some clues around the back yard that will lead them to a mega trove of treats.

GLOW IN THE DARK CANDY HUNT

Put a few treats in a clear bag and add in one glow stick. Hide the treat bags in the back yard after dark (or around the house and turn off the lights). Turn on the spooky sounds and let the kids follow the light for their Halloween sweets.

DRIVE BY TRICK OR TREAT

This is especially great if you live in a more remote area and normally do not get a lot of trick or treaters. Set up a table of pre-packaged, store bought treats and invite your friends to drive by to pick up a treat from you personally. It’s like the birthday parades that were fashionable in the spring, only everyone else gets a take home treat.

HOLIDAY DRIVE BY

If trick or treat is completely banned in your area, you can provide a little eye candy for passersby. Decorate the yard with lights and spooky décor. Encourage folks to drive by to take in the sights.

HOST A VIRTUAL PARTY

If social distance is keeping you apart from friends and loved ones, dial up a Zoom conference to create a virtual Halloween party! Put together a fun “scare package” of crafts and treats to drop off at someone’s door before meeting on Zoom. Then, kids can show off their costumes, craft together and turn up some Halloween tunes for a dance off.

HOST A SOCIALLY DISTANT PARTY

If you have a yard or park area large enough for kids to stay spread out and stay at a healthy distance away from each other, there’s no harm in hosting. Keep it small, encourage masks and hand out prepackaged treats. It’s really smart to stay cautious, so no one will hold it against you if you take temps or offer hand sanitizer at the event. A lot of kids are struggling right now without in-person social connections. This will definitely keep the traditional Halloween fun alive and give kids a little boost of joy.

Are you changing the way you trick or treat on Halloween? I’d love to know how!

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, blogger and freelance writer. She writes about the challenges in her motherhood, like how to keep her kids at a socially acceptable distance while trying to work from home.

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Halloween Recipe Round up

Halloween is a fun tradition for many families, including my own. My kids are always excited to show off their costumes to our closest neighbors and spend time walking door to door with their friends. But before we head out, I want to make sure their tummies are full and they have enough energy to make it through the neighborhood.

I’ve rounded up some of our quickest and most favorite Halloween dinner ideas. When my kids were just toddlers, these fun recipes were also a fun holiday themed activity and eating our creepy morsels was part of the fun.

MUMMY DOGS from Home Made Interest are super easy and super fun!

Mummy Dogs is an easy Halloween recipe

MUMMY PIZZA from “Cents”able Mama uses store bought ingredients to make this fun dinner fast!

BAKED QUESADILLAS from That Fit Fam are perfect for your little cheese lover! Serve with some carrot sticks or an apple sauce pouch for a quick meal before heading out the door.

Halloween shaped baked quesadillas

SWEET AND SOUR BAT WINGS from Sprinkles and Sprouts. How spooky are these?? Marinate overnight in the fridge and put in the oven in time for your pre-treat dinner.

close up on the wing tip of a black chicken wing on a grey plate

If you have time to make all of these at once you’ll have a variety of fun things to offer the kids before heading out for candy. We usually don’t serve a dessert since we know we are going to eat a bunch of candy as soon as we get home. Happy treating!

What’s your favorite Halloween recipe to make?

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, blogger and freelance writer. She spends most of her time making food her kids won’t eat and fantasizing about how a beach vacation where naps are required. You can find her at The Whatever Mom on Facebook and on Instagram. For more recipe ideas, follow her on Pinterest.

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How to Host a Socially Distant Party with Friends

Last year, I made a big plan in my head to celebrate my summer birthday with a backyard bash. I wanted lights, catered food, friends and music. Just a relaxing summer night with people I enjoy most, eating cake and toasting with prosecco. As always, when I make a plan the world steps in with different ideas.

[Enter a world wide Pandemic]

One of the bummers about this COVID Pandemic is that birthday celebrations just aren’t the same. We can’t have our usual big gatherings to celebrate. There can be no sharing of bowls filled with snacks and dips for potentially contaminated fingers to swim around in. Pouring drinks from large containers means a variety of hands touching the same surface and sanitizing after every use. It feels daunting to try to entertain safely right now.

But, I wasn’t giving up on what I want, which was food and friends. Instead, I found another way to celebrate on a much smaller scale while enjoying some of my favorite things. Instead of fifty people, I had five. I didn’t serve a catered menu, but we did enjoy some safe snacks at a distance. And yes, there was prosecco and music. For a background playlist I chose the Hamilton musical soundtrack. If you haven’t listened yet, you are missing out.

Our small group enjoyed gathering around the firepit in the open air where we could maintain enough distance without worrying about spreading germs. Since no celebration is complete without food and wine, I got a little creative with how to serve sanitary snacks at a distance without constant sanitation.

I picked up some reusable storage bins at the dollar store to fill with ice and some snacks. I added a bottle of water, two mini bottles of my favorite prosecco and prepackaged snack plates that include cheese, prosciutto and toasty bread. It was a big hit! Plus, moms could take the entire bin home with them, so no worries about sanitizing after.

I placed the individual snack boxes on the ground six-feet apart around the firepit in my yard, and asked each mom to bring their own chair for seating. When they arrived I pointed them to a sanitized snack box to set up next to in our circle. We spent the next three hours socializing and snacking safely. I also asked moms to bring their masks just incase, but we didn’t need them because we sat far enough apart. Chatting without a face covering felt a little more like the normalcy of pre-pandemic times.

It also felt great to celebrate my birthday with friends, but it was even better to commiserate with other moms in person. We laughed about our kids, shared our anxieties about school, told hilarious stories about ourselves and it felt like we left our worries behind for a bit. It was a great moms night out!

My only regret is that it was too dark for photos outside. But, I’ll have the memories of our time together to look back on as we get through the uncertainty of the winter ahead of us.

Did you celebrate a birthday during the pandemic? How was it different this year? I’d love to hear about your creative celebrations in comments below!

Roxanne Ferber is raising twins with double the fun of writing from home during a pandemic. Her parenting style is messy with a side of chaos and archiving it all on her blog for others to read.

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Meet a Mom and Science Lover

Margaret Liberti is mom to Keaton, a science educator and a business owner. She owns Mad Science of the Capital District and provides hands on learning for kids in her community. She has hand delivered a bagful of science experiments for my own kiddos to enjoy. I love watching their faces light up as they work with magnets or take data on a set of growing brains. I also love learning right along side them. If you are looking for a way to keep your kiddos occupied this summer, need a virtual camp or want to encourage your child’s love of science, check out the Loop Lab subscription kits, camp options or the science delivered options on her website.

As a Professor, Margaret has witnessed the disdain students in higher education have for science. They’ve been told that they’re not good at science, or they’re not smart enough, or it’s boring, and they believe it. She is on a mission to change that for kids beginning at an earlier age. Oh and she is also a 2014-15 recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching. This is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon an adjunct faculty member in the State University of New York system. Excelling in her field, running a business and being mom? That’s a whole lot of awesome!

Meet Margaret!

What is the name of your business? Mad Science of the Capital District

What products do you offer? STEM programming such as birthday parties, backyard camps, virtual camps, camp in a box, in person camps, special events, workshops, and after school programming.

Where are you located? I am operating in the Albany/Capital District, but Mad Science is a traveling business that owns the territories of the following counties: Columbia, Greene, Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer , Saratoga, Warren, Washington, Bennington, and can travel north and as far west as Syracuse!

What age group do you share your experiments with? Ages 3-12, anyone who loves/is interested in STEM!

Describe your business mission. As both a professor and a science education business owner, I want science to be fun and exciting. I want students to learn science without thinking, “yep. This is science. Still hate it.” Science is everywhere, and once applied in a fun manner, exciting, or related to your students, you’re going to see a change in their beliefs and attitude towards science. And igniting passion (or at least a lesser dislike) for science is my goal.

What makes you stand out as a mom? I think this goes for every mom, but my son comes first above all else. I went through a lot to have him, and although he’s what I have always wanted, I don’t let him get away with bad behavior.

How do you most relate to the Whatever Mom philosophy? We all have to roll with the punches, particularly in the current environment.

What do you want other moms to know about you? Being mom to Keaton and a fur-mom is my greatest accomplishment. I love science, education, students, and dogs.

Where can other moms find you? Visit my website, Facebook page or drop an email at [email protected]

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Dairy Free Ice Cream Cupcakes

Picking your own berries and fruit is a great way to get kids outside and enjoying nature. Strawberries, cherries, blueberries and raspberries are all in season right now. And we are here for it!

This week we picked 4 gallons of strawberries and 8 lbs. of sweet cherries. We definitely could have picked more, but the storm clouds were moving in fast. We climbed into the car to go home just as the first raindrop fell. Perfect timing! My kids love cherry picking the most because they can climb the trees to reach the top branches. Thankfully, cherry trees are’t terribly high. Tomorrow we plan to pick blueberries and I can only imagine how many we will come home with.

After we picked all of our strawberries, I washed them and divided into freezer bags and tossed in the freezer. This assures me they will be usable later. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve let the berries sit for too long and wasted them, literally spoiling the fruits of my labor.

We have our standard uses for Strawberries. I toss them into our smoothies, pancakes and baked goods. And every year I make fresh strawberry ice cream. I make it right in my food processor and it is ridiculously easy.

I also make frozen banana ice cream pretty regularly. So, when I eyeballed those sad little bananas on my counter just turning brown, I had an idea. Why not make banana strawberry ice cream cupcakes? I’ll throw a little peanut butter into the banana ice cream for protein and it will practically be a health food! ~ genius

Here is the recipe I whipped up for my family to enjoy. It is dairy, gluten, soy, dye free and there is no added sugar. We did add a layer of graham cracker crumbs between the ice cream layers, but that is optional. Next time I am going to make the strawberry ice cream with coconut milk to see how that changes the texture. This makes six cupcakes, however, there will be about a pint of additional strawberry ice cream you can tuck away for yourself for later. You’re welcome!

I hope you make these and enjoy! Do you get out to pick your own berries? What do you make with all of those sweet berries?

Roxanne Ferber is a blogger mom and freelance writer. She enjoys the sweet silence of kids sleeping in and has a crippling coffee addiction. Motherhood has changed her in many ways, but remaining non-judgey and ready to support other moms are her strong suits. If you’d like to work with her, visit the work with me link in the side bar. If you want to send her happy thoughts or share your motherhood story drop a line at [email protected], or find The Whatever Mom on Facebook.

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Summer Grilling Made Easy with Foil Packets

Perfectly delicious when topped with grated parmesan cheese.

I really rely on our grill to get me through the diner time rush during the summer. Everything seems to cook easier, quicker and cleaner on my grill. Plus, the heat stays outside and not inside where I have the air conditioner running.

A friend of mine introduced me to foil packets years ago and it is one of those things I question why I never thought of it before. Super easy clean up! You can wrap almost anything in foil and cook it on the grill and get amazing fast food!

My picky eaters are currently into asparagus and tomatoes, so I made both!

Seasoned asparagus topped with heirloom cherry tomatoes.

Start by pulling enough foil to be wrap around the food you will place inside.

Drizzle oil directly onto the foil, layer on the veggies, drizzle on more oil and sprinkle with seasonings. We like to add salt, pepper and garlic powder. Once the veggies are grilled we shake on some parm cheese. Nice and simple.

To wrap, bring the short edges together (folding the long rectangle into itself) and roll them downward in one direction. Next, fold the sides or roll them up to create enough of a seal to keep the oil and steam from escaping.

Secure the edges of your foil packet to avoid dripping.

Put the packets over a medium flame for about 10-12 minutes, flipping half way. You’re done! Super easy side dish with very little clean up!

How do you like to grill your veggies? Got a recipe you’d like to submit? Please email it to me at [email protected]

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Meet a Mom and Creator of Bespoke Commodities

Meet Kristen Haefner!

Kristen is the owner and creator of Bespoke Commodities. What started out as having fun making cute bows for her daughter to wear, has blossomed into a full on creative business that includes hosting craft parties, boxed gift sets and subscription boxes. Kristen built her dream business from the ground up while raising her little girl.

When Kristen isn’t working hard as a mom and creative genius, you might find her relaxing at the spa to escape the constant demands of parenting, raising awareness for the Bully Proof Project and playing gift fairy behind the scenes at Bespoke. She is known for randomly surprising a shopper or two with an entirely free order, just because.

What kind of products can moms expect from Bespoke Commodities? Personalized Gifts ranging from t-shirts and wine tumblers to gift boxes of all sorts, craft kits for kids and subscription boxes.

Describe your business mission: At Bespoke Commodities, we promise to help you celebrate life’s special occasions (or every day!) with personalized products. We provide superior value in terms of product quality, price and satisfaction and we offer a fun and ever-changing product line.

Do you make things just for moms? We make great gifts and personalized items for everyone!

What makes you stand out as a mom? I drop everything I’m doing when it comes to my daughter – whether she’s with me or at her fathers. She reaches out to me at midnight from the other house and I am there for her.

How do you relate to The Whatever Mom philosophy? That parenting isn’t always sunshine and rainbows.

What do you want other moms to know about you? That it is absolutely worth it to follow your dreams – I took the jump from working for someone else to working for myself and I won’t look back!

Where can other moms find you? My website and Facebook

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What’chya Eatin’ Wednesday

One of the things my readers respond to most are my posts about food! Every Wednesday I ask my friends, what’chya eatin? The results do not disappoint.

One of my easy favorite go to recipes in the summer is corn on the cob. We especially love it on the grill. Grilled street corn is a favorite for my husband and me. I bring it out all summer long as an easy week night side dish. I know everyone hates having to scroll through a long story about a recipe before getting to the actual recipe, so I won’t keep you! Just comment below if you give this recipe a try!

MEXICAN STREET CORN

Ingredients:

4 ears of corn

1/2 cup of mayonnaise

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp chipotle powder

Shaker parmesan cheese

1 lime (for zest and cut into wedges)

*optional* Cilantro

Begin by grilling your corn on the grill. We clean the husk and the silk form the corn and place it directly on the grill. Turn it to a new side every few minutes for a total of about 15 minutes.

While the corn is grilling, it’s time to mix the creamy topping. Zest the lime into a bowl, add in mayo, chipotle, garlic and paprika. Set aside.

Once your corn is finished on the grill, let it sit until cool enough to touch. You can also use cob holders in the end of the corn to make it easier to hold and turn while topping. Slice the lime into wedges and rub one lime wedge on each ear of corn. Then brush the corn with the seasoned mixture of mayo and top with grated cheese. That’s it!

This makes an easy side dish for adults and kids to enjoy. But if you have a picky eater kid (like mine) skip the mayo and slather the corn in butter, top with salt and parm cheese and it’s good to go.

Have you ever had corn this delicious?

Writer Bio for The Whatever Mom
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Come Spend the Day with me at Mom University! *Exclusive Discount*

Mom University is a one day event just for moms.
This is a compensated post, but all opinions are authentically my own.

This time last year I was in deep need of a mental and physical break. I had just left a horrible job and was under stress at home while trying to get work lined up. My husband and I were fighting so much, and one of my kiddos was having a rough time at school. I felt like I couldn’t keep up with all the demands coming at me all at once. I was stressed to the max.

I needed a break so badly, that I drove an hour all by myself through the snow and rain to get to an event called, Mom University. It is a one-day event from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. with food I don’t have to make and coffee and conversation with other moms in the same boat as me. I arrived alone, but I wasn’t alone for long. Other moms invited me to sit at their table and the organizers Jen, Alicia and Laura made me feel welcome. After settling in with my cup of hot, fresh coffee and rooting through my swag bag of goodies, I dove into the breakout session topics. I was excited to spend time with experts in the areas I was struggling with the most, nutrition, finances, self-care and kid behaviors. And, the chair massage and blow out bar were an amazing extra in my day. I laughed so much, and I even cried a little when some of us shared our mom stories. It was a powerful day.

Mom Swag! So much more in the bag, but I couldn’t hold it all up for a selfie.

I came to the event feeling like a hot ball of stress. But when I left, I felt more relaxed, uplifted and ready to face the chaos at home. I had tools to use to take care of myself and my family and the best part, I knew I wasn’t the only mom struggling.

I am excited to return to the gorgeous Locust Grove Estate in Poughkeepsie on March 29th, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. for another exciting line up of experts to learn from and this time, meet up with mom friends. And I am even more excited to share with my readers and local moms an *exclusive discount* so you can experience Mom University for yourselves! You can buy your tickets —> here <—- and use the code WHATEVERMOM at checkout (before 3/1/20) to take $10.00 off your ticket which entitles you to a full 7 hours of time to connect and recharge. (A full hour alone at the spa costs more and there’s no one feeding you).

Julie Ciardi 2019 Key Note Speaker

As moms, there is no manual for how to make all the things work. It’s kind of a learn as you go job. That’s why we need a village of other moms to talk to and learn from. Mom University is like a career development day for all moms where we can learn to master the challenging parts of motherhood. I’ve been a SAHM, a WAHM and a work outside the home mom and this day applies to every single mom out there. Every mom needs connection. Every mom needs solidarity. Every mom needs time to grow. It’s hard to do all those things with a toddler tugging at your back pockets, or a boss breathing down our neck.

The 2020 event has over 16 workshops lead by professionals and guest speakers to help ignite your passions and help you find balance. This event is created by moms, for moms. You might recognize Jen and Alicia from The Mommy Dash; both moms struggling to make it all work too. It is their vision and passion to bring this day to all of us. (I don’t think they ever sleep).  I am so thankful they still have the energy to take care of all of us with a catered breakfast and lunch, snacks and coffee, mini massages and a mommy marketplace, oh and a DJ dropping the sound track to our lives.

Jen, Laura and Alicia all sporting their fabulous Mom U Sweatshirts from the Mommy Marketplace.

Being a mom myself, I know how hard it is to take an hour for myself, let alone an entire day, but I assure you the house will still be standing when you get back home. The kids will eat garbage while you are gone, and your husband will tell you it was all easy. But you will be ready to let it all roll off your freshly massaged shoulders. And nothing can replace feeling recharged and connected. So don’t wait, go grab your special discount and shoot me an email at [email protected] and tell me to look for you there!

Writer Bio for The Whatever Mom
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How To Embrace Your Sensory Friendly Halloween

sensory-friendly-halloween

If you have never heard of sensory processing disorder you are not the only one. Most parents do not know what this is until their child is diagnosed with the disorder. The difficulty is that even with a diagnosis, you as a parent may have no clear and final definition of what makes your kid tick. Every kid is different and it can take time to identify your child’s sensory triggers.

According to the website Understood.org, children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) “may be oversensitive or undersensitive to the world around them. When the brain receives information, it gives meaning to even the smallest bits of information. Keeping all that information organized and responding appropriately is challenging for them.”

As unique as your child is, so is the way their brain processes things like smell, taste and touch. Some kids never notice the feeling of a tag on their shirt, or the seam in their socks. But there are kids who are so distracted by this sensation that they can cry or scream, or even become aggressive. If you have a kid with sensory issues you are not alone! One in twenty children live with some varying degree of sensory processing disorder. Navigating daily life can be a struggle, let alone having to wear an itchy costume in a crowded, loud setting.

Both of my children have mild sensory issues which mostly involves volume levels and large crowds. When they were little I didn’t take them very far on Halloween. The year we let them choose on their own which houses to stop at was the year they decided they liked trick or treating. Now we let them take us as far as they want to go, we carry extra snacks and we call it quits when they get overwhelmed. We begin our evening slow and head home in time to hand out treats.

I polled some of my mom friends who are in the know about sensory processing and the sensory demands of Halloween. The best piece of advice: is to not force your child beyond their limits. Halloween activities are for their enjoyment and it is OK to let them enjoy activities in their own way. If your child can only handle wearing a small piece of their costume, or no costume at all, let that be enough. My friend Erin shares that one year she let her son go as himself at his request. “Thankfully the people around us accepted that. And he had a great Halloween because he could do his own thing.”

MOM TIPS

Select a costume that is mask free, or does not require face paint. Let your kids use their own familiar clothing as part of their costume to help them enjoy dressing up. For kids with auditory sensory issues, using noise cancelling headphones works great. For kids who are sensitive to bright lights, start your trick or treat night as early as possible and take advantage of the day light. If your child tires easily map out a short route, or bring along a wagon to let them take a break. And again, it’s OK if you cut your time short and head back home early.

PRO TIPS

Being a parent of a child with sensory issues can feel overwhelming, but imagine being the child who is struggling to process so much sensory information at once. It can provoke a lot of anxiety not knowing what is happening next. Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant Gina Bergdall suggests allowing your child to carry a fidget toy. This will allow them a constructive “place to focus their anxiety on.” Bergdall also shares these tips provided by the American Occupational Therapy Association. 

It may also be helpful to pick only a few places to trick or treat and review that plan with your child before hand. If they know they are only going to 5 or 6 houses nearby, they can feel a sense of control ticking the number of houses off the list. Seeing familiar faces can also make them feel more at ease.

HOW TO EMBRACE

If your child is overly sensitive to crowds or noises there is no rule that mandates they go trick or treating. You can make some really amazing traditions right at home. Bake some great treats, make a fun meal together, or if they want to, let them help with handing out candy. Invite the grandparents or family over for pizza and a movie. There is no wrong way to participate in Halloween! Staying at home where it is familiar may be just what your child needs to celebrate comfortably.

I get it moms! Having to make these kinds of accommodations often feels like our children are missing out on experiences other kids get to have, or the experiences we had as kids. But really, the holiday is about our kid’s enjoyment. If that looks different than the way other families celebrate, that’s OK. Embrace your unique traditions! If your child is comfortable at home watching Halloween specials and eating popcorn, join them! Deciding to follow their lead helps them feel capable! Plus, sharing a special night in together as your Halloween tradition is way more relaxing than walking around in the cold wearing a cookie cutter costume.

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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