The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze – The Tri-State’s Biggest Halloween Event

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Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze

Get your spook on at the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze

During the summer months, a visit to Van Cortlandt Manor includes a tour of the stone manor house, brick ferry house, the heritage gardens, and a stroll down a quiet country road along the Croton River. For fall and Halloween enthusiasts, check out the manor during October and November when the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze transforms the grounds with more than 5,000 hand carved, illuminated jack o’lanterns for the tri-state’s biggest, most electrifying Halloween event.

For the first time in 2005, Van Cortlandt Manor was illuminated by thousands of hand carved jack o’lanterns throughout the month of October at the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze. The Blaze’s Executive Director, Michael Natiello, said the true inspiration for Blaze is the landscape of Van Cortlandt Manor. The work of artists Michael Heizer, Robert Smithson, Donald Judd, and Andy Goldsworthy complement and draw attention to the site’s architecture, history, and landscape. Celebrating it’s 10th year in 2014, the Blaze embraces Washington Irving’s Spirit of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, boasts an anniversary pumpkin cake, turning acrobats, a springing jack-in-the-box, giant spider web, dinosaurs, witches, and more!

Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze

The great pumpkin arch that welcomes guests to the Blaze

 

Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze

10th anniversary pumpkin, the Headless Horseman, and Tumbling Acrobats and Circus Characters

Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze

Giant Spider Web, Witches Around the Cauldron, Grand Father Clock, and a Field of Dinosaurs

Complete with sound effects, elaborate synchronized lighting and the second volume of an all-original soundtrack by recording artist Richard Christy, the Blaze is one Halloween event you do not want to miss! Recommended for ALL ages.

Tickets are still available for November 5, 9, 14, and 16. The Blaze sells out quickly, so get your tickets now! Click HERE for tickets.

Happy Halloween!

 

 

Albany Ski and Snowboard Expo Ticket Giveaway

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Albany Ski ExpoCan you think of a better way to get pumped for ski season than hanging out at a ski and snowboard expo for an afternoon.  Well you’re in luck because Wandering Working Mom is giving away 2 tickets to the Albany Ski and Snowboard Expo on November 7 –9, 2014 at the Empire State Convention Center in Albany!  Enter below for your chance to win!

The Expo is in its 53rd year and the areas largest event dedicated to the areas abundance of winter sport options.  You can stock up on great winter gear and apparel, where many tend to be hugely discounted for the event, from Alpin House (main sponsor of the event), Potter Brothers Ski and Snowboard Shops, and my local favorite, Steiner Sports.  Plus talk with many of the area’s top ski resorts from New York and Vermont to plan your family’s getaway this winter!

A big highlight of the event are the hundreds of free lift tickets! Yes, free lift tickets folks! The first 400 attendees on Friday will receive buy one get one lift tickets to some of Vermont’s best mountains.  On Saturday and Sunday, the first 400 guests on each day will receive a free lift ticket to awesome mountains in New York, courtesy of I Ski NY.  Arrive early and plan to wait in line because these freebies go fast!

The Albany Ski and Snowboard Expo will take place Friday, November 7 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, November 8 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, November 9 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Tickets are $10 at the door and $8 if ordered online.  Kids under 10 are free!

 

Last year was my family’s first season skiing as a family and we started off by going to the Albany Ski and Snowboard Expo.  The kids loved it, we loved it, and this year we’re going with a list of gear we want and giving ourselves some early Christmas presents.  Enter below for your chance to win 2 tickets to the Albany Ski and Snowboard Expo.  This giveaway ends on Sunday, November 2nd at midnight so enter now!

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Kelder’s Farm – Home of the World’s Largest Garden Gnome

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We drive past the gnome, or “Elf,” as my oldest son so affectionately named him, on a monthly basis when we travel upstate to my in-laws. Every time we pass Kelder’s Farm in the Hudson Valley, we say “hi” to the gnome and promise the boys that we will visit another day. Well, “another day” finally came earlier this week. After a weekend visit with my in-laws we decided it was time to visit Kelder’s Farm, take a picture with the gnome, and pick a nice pumpkin to bring home with us. The farm is about an hour and 45 minutes from Binghamton (and forty minutes from our home) so the boys were able to nap before our farm adventure. We arrived after 3:30 PM to find ample parking, no lines, and lots to do! It was only a matter of minutes before the boys spotted the animals and loved checking out the donkeys, llama, and goats.

Kelder's Farms

My kids would have been content just feeding the animals all day at Kelder’s Farm

My husband and I were excited to check out the other activities on the farm, but the boys had other plans – they were content just hanging by the animals, and so it was another lesson on parental flexibility. We managed to point them in the direction of the life-size wooden train and tractor that occupied their attention for quite some time. They really enjoyed their view from the train, the hay ride pulled by the big John Deere tractor.

Kelders Collage

While the boys were playing conductor, I was anxious to go pumpkin picking! I managed to sneak away from the boys for a few minutes to check out the prices for the activities, ask some questions about picking, and enjoy some alone time to check out all the fun stuff the farm had to offer. Lukas and Ethan are too young for mini golf, but a jumping pillow is right up their alley, so we added that to the list of fun things to do next time. I was tempted to buy donuts or cider, or even a hot dog, but I knew we had a bag of fresh donuts and a giant chocolate chip cookie in the car from the Cider Mill in Endicott. What would we do with more donuts?!

The hay ride stops near the pumpkins, allowing us to get off the wagon to pick, if we want! I could not have asked for a better plan…I knew I was pushing my luck wanting the boys to go on the hay ride and pick pumpkins when all they wanted to do was play on the wooden train. Fortunately, they were excited for the hay ride…especially once they sat down right behind the tractor. They had a great view of the John Deere the entire ride. Once we arrived at the patch, we jumped off and began the hunt. Normally, it would take me a long time to find the “perfect” pumpkin, but I had little time today. Within minutes, I picked up a big pumpkin and we were back on the wagon and heading up the hill.

When we got off the hay ride, we went over to the gnome, “Elf.” Lukas was excited and wanted to climb up his giant leg, while Ethan was more impressed with the cars driving past on the road nearby. I was able to enjoy a moment with my boys, one we had wanted for a long time. I took a minute to take it all in – thankful for the opportunity to explore a new farm with my 3 favorite people in the whole world. As we got back to the car, ready for the last leg of our ride home, we shared a Kelder’s cider and the big chocolate chip cookie we had purchased earlier that day. What a perfect ending to an afternoon of fall fun!

Kelder's Farm

Seeing the world’s largest gnome – check!

What to expect at Kelder’s Farm:

*100 acres of U-Pick fruit and veggies of all kinds – raspberries, grapes, apples, corn, tomatoes, assorted veggies, potatoes, lettuce, & pumpkins.

*Fall decorations available for purchase

*A host of farm activities – jumping pillow ($5.00/all-day pass), mini golf ($3.75/game), petting zoo food ($1.00, or you can find lots of food on the ground in front of the animals), corn maze ($3.50), and hayride ($3.00/person). You can purchase a package for all of the activities for $10 – ages 2 & up.

*A food truck with cider, donuts, and more!

*A 70-year-old dairy farm turned into a farm market with fresh produce, baked goods, and a ton of signature private label products such as jams, sauces, honey, syrups, and more!

*An educational experience – check out the history of the farm when you walk through the market.

*Stunning views of the farm and the Hudson Valley.

*Jackie & Chris Kelder, wonderful hosts who treat you like family when you’re there!

Kelder’s Farm is located in the beautiful Hudson Valley, at 5755 Route 209 in Kerhonkson, New York, about 10 miles from Ellenville, 20 miles from Kingston, and 90 miles from NYC.

Break for Cheese at the Old Chatham Sheepherding Company

Old Chatham Sheepherding Company
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Old Chatham Sheepherding CompanyNew York’s Hudson Valley was in its glory this weekend with gorgeous blue skies, postcard worthy fall foliage, and the overall old school charm that makes this area a perfect afternoon trip from the Capital District.  We made our way to Kinderhook to get our fill of pumpkins at Samascott Orchards.  It’s worth the drive out to Samascott as the crowds are fewer than farms closer to Albany and the selection of pumpkins is always excellent.  But given the day was so beautiful and the kids were in good spirits (always helps), we drove another 20 minutes to the Old Chatham Sheepherding Company to take in the sheep and take home a little of the Hudson Valley with and the famous Black Sheep Cheese!

The award-winning Black Sheep Cheese label in known across the country with cheeses and yogurts produced entirely of sheep’s milk.  The dairy products produced by the Old Chatham Sheepherding Company have a unique creaminess to them and with one bite you’ll notice the texture and taste as being different from cow and goat milk products.  Black Sheep Cheese also has cheeses made with a combination of cow and sheep’s milk.  You can purchase yogurt and cheeses by the wedge, block, half-wheel, and whole wheel at a self-serve cheese shop that basically consists of an upright fridge and an honor system pay box.

Black Sheep Cheese
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A Family Day Trip to New York’s Bear Mountain State Park

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Introducing our Wandering Working Mom’s new guest blogger, Michele Williams.  Michele is a full-time working mom of two outgoing and adventurous boys with an equally fun loving husband. Michele and her family enjoys local adventures and festivals throughout their home base in the Hudson Valley, with the occasional excursion throughout upstate or central New York.  She embraces why this blog was created and views every outing as an opportunity to grow as a family.

My husband and I always enjoy visiting Bear Mountain State Park. As parents of two outgoing, adventurous, and carefree boys, ages 4 and 2, it is the perfect “staycation” getaway where we can swim, have a picnic lunch, enjoy a carousel ride, and visit animals. How could anyone ask for more on a beautiful summer day? With so much to do at the park, it can be a long day for the little ones; so we decided that our most recent day trip would be spent visiting the zoo and enjoying a picnic lunch where the boys could simply PLAY!

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Bear Mountain State Park is about 90 minutes north of New York City and costs $8 per vehicle to enter. A family visit to Bear Mountain State Park is very affordable as there is no admission cost to enter the Trailside Museum and Zoo, however, a suggested donation of $1 per person is recommended.

We packed all of the necessary essentials for our adventure – double stroller, sunblock, hats, and a cooler with drinks, lunch and plenty of snacks. We have learned that regardless of the day of the week, it is best to arrive early, especially if you want to enjoy the park without navigating your stroller through the crowds and sharing the exhibits with others.

We made our way through the zoo visiting all of the animals, but stopping for an extra-long visit with the red fox, bears, and coyotes – Luna and Loki, who recently moved to their new home at the zoo…a larger space for them to run and play.
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The Half Moon in Albany

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A sure sign of Fall in Albany, New York is the multi-week visit by the replica of Henry Hudson’s famed ship, the Half Moon.  The Half Moon sailed from the Netherlands to the New World in 1609 and you when you see the small size of this ship you instantly become more impressed with this feat (if you weren’t already).  The replica Half Moon is operated by the New Netherland Museum.  This year, the celebration included a very family friendly Early Albany Festival complete with Dutch colonialist re-enactors, colonial toys to dabble in, and a rare chance to see the Half Moon at sea.  Members of the Stockbridge-Munsee band of Indians (Mohican) also participated in the day’s events with various demonstrations.  The Early Albany Festival was held at Albany’s Corning Preserve with stunning Fall foliage as the backdrop.

Albany - Half Moon

Albany - Half Moon

Albany - Half Moon

Albany is so seeped in Dutch history and I’m always thrilled when events like this come to town to take the opportunity to education my kids about this city’s roots.  The day included several hands-on stations so this kids could feel, see, and hear the culture that once called the land around Albany home.

The Festival was only one day but the Half Moon will remain in Albany from September 20 through October 12 and open for tours.

Although we haven’t had a chance to explore the ship yet, my friends at Albany Kid wrote a post a few years back about their enriching experience.  Plan ahead, and make some time to visit the Half Moon while it’s docked in Albany!

Visiting Boston’s U.S.S. Constitution Museum with Kids

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Charlestown is the Boston neighborhood adjacent to the famous North End and an affordable family destination for those looking for kid-friendly historical sites.  Our “must-see” spot during a weekend getaway to Boston was the U.S.S. Constitution Museum in Charlestown and to explore the famous ship, Old Ironsides docked in front of the museum.  The U.S.S. Constitution is famous for its role in its 15 battles fought during the War of 1812 and outlasting many ships of its time.

USS Constitution Museum

The main museum is two-floors of hands-on activities and tons of historical placards and information to keep the young and young at heart enthralled.  One of the reasons this museum has been on my bucket list is because it took part in the Family Learning Project and developed new exhibits and techniques for inter-generational visitors. To me, this is the heart of family travel and no easy task to take a wealth of history and develop exhibit space to please all ages.  The U.S.S. Constitution Museum did not disappoint on these endeavors and is wonderful way for a family to spend an afternoon.

USS Constitution Museum

The second floor is big enough to please all ages but just the right size to let little historians explore on their own.

With a suggested family donation of $15-20, the U.S.S. Constitution Museum is very affordable, especially in a pricey city like Boston.  If driving, you can park in the Nautical parking lot across the street and have your parking ticket validated at the museum for up to 4 hours of FREE parking (another added bonus).  Parking in Boston can be insanely expensive so take advantage of this spot!

USS Constitution

We were traveling with kids ages 3, 4, and 6. Allow yourself two to three hours to visit which is enough time to keep the kids interested and allows parents to also experience a great museum.


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