Know Her Name. Learn Her Story. Give Her Hope.

This holiday season, the YMCA of Central Ohio is working together with community volunteers to help raise money for the Give Her Hope campaign. This campaign focuses on raising funds to help support and rebuild the lives of the women and children who are experiencing homelessness and living in the Van Buren Shelter House.

The Van Buren House is located in Central Ohio and has been in existence since 2014. The first night the shelter opened its doors, employees were expecting 60 women to arrive in need of a place to stay, but instead, they took in 300 women who were in need of help. On average, 250 women, including 30 expectant mothers, and 227 children are currently spending the night in shelter at the Van Buren Center each day. The number one reason these women are in a housing crisis is due to domestic violence.

One hundred percent of the funds raised by this campaign will be used to purchase bus tickets, security deposits, and rental assistance. Sometimes only $20 can be the difference between affording a months rent or making a security deposit for an apartment. Studies show that even a short stay in a shelter can impact a child mentally and emotionally for the rest of their lives, so the goal for this campaign is to raise the funds to help drastically change the future for these women and their children experiencing homelessness.

How to Help: Monetary donations can be made online at the Give Her Hope homepage. Any monetary donation, even as small as $5, can make a difference for these women and children. Those who give a donation of $10 or more will receive their own Bracelet of Hope – a reminder of the hope we share and a reminder of the difference you are making for her.

How We Color Pasta

When it comes to sensory bins, I generally just dump different materials into the container and call it a day. With the holidays approaching, I decided to get a little more festive by coloring dry pasta red and green. It did take a few combinations in order to get the set up just right, so I thought I would share the combination that worked the best for us.

Step One:

Gather supplies: Pasta (different shapes and sizes), rubbing alcohol, gallon size plastic bags, and food coloring.

Step Two:

Combine 16 oz dry pasta and 1 tsp rubbing alcohol into a ziplock bag. Shake it up to spread the rubbing alcohol evenly on the pasta.

Step Three:

Add food coloring of your choice. I added 50 drops of food coloring to 16 oz of dry pasta.

Step Four:

Spread the pasta out on a pan to dry. I let the pasta sit for 24 hours before adding to the bin.

Step Five:

Add to your sensory bin of choice.

For this sensory bin I added string to give my daughter the opportunity to start stringing the pasta. I tied a piece of pasta to the end so the other pieces wouldn’t slide off and applied scotch tape to the other end so the string wasn’t flimsy. After a few examples of pushing the string through and then pulling out the other end, my daughter was able to make a necklace completely on her own. I did remind her to “pinch and pull” when the string was coming out the other end of the pasta.


Take a Taste Tuesday with Barefoot and Homecooked

My name is Leeanne and I am a wife and mom from New Hampshire. My little boy is almost two and I am due with my second baby boy in just two weeks! I’m a stay at home mom and strive to maintain a tidy home with homemade meals on the table for when my hubby comes home from work but this can get tricky with a toddler! Since I love to cook I always try to include my toddler. I’m always thinking of fun healthy recipes but sometimes we make cookies at 7am because we were up at 4am and just go with it! A toddler can gain so much from watching, mixing, touching and just spending quality time while you cook together.

Here we are making some homemade sugar cookies. He loved rolling and feeling the dough, turning the mixer on and cutting out the shapes!

“Take a Taste Tuesday” features a fellow mom/friend/community member who shares a fun recipe, tips to include kids in the cooking process, or a great family restaurant.  If you are interested in sharing your eating and/or cooking fun be sure to connect with me via email!

The Gift of Experience – 2017 Edition

Providing your child with new experiences naturally exposes her to new vocabulary. These experiences can capture your child’s attention and provide an opportunity for you to model new vocabulary in the appropriate setting. These experiences can happen anywhere, whether it be heading out around town to visit a new place, participate in a class, or having a fun activity delivered straight to your door. In addition to promoting language development, these experiences support your child’s cognition, sensory, fine motor, and creativity. Christmas is a great time to give the gift of experiences, many of which will last well beyond the holiday season.

Below are some suggestions on how to give the gift of experience.

Art With Anna: This art studio “strives to create an artistic space where you and your child feel safe and free to be just exactly who you are.” Art with Anna offers a variety of classes for children, adults, and families which will in turn foster creativity to help develop mental, social, and emotional abilities. Gift certificates in all amounts and art supplies are for sale in-studio. Be sure to mention Say-n-Play when checking out to receive a 10% discount off your entire in-studio purchase.

Goldfish Swim School: Give the gift of swimming lessons with Goldfish Swim School. Your child will benefit from weekly opportunities to learn the basics of swimming, water safety, and expand her vocabulary and ability to follow directions. Children as young as 4 months of age can begin swimming lessons. Early exposure can reduce your child’s fear of water while also providing the foundation for a safe relationship with water from an early age.

This year the Goldfish Swim School Holiday Baskets are available at the Dublin and Westerville locations while supplies last. The basket includes $193 in family credit at GSS as well as array of free family experiences from local businesses, including:
$193 Family Credit at Goldfish Swim School 
2 Family Swim Passes at Goldfish Swim School 
Bundlet from Nothing Bundt Cakes 
2 Kids Meals from Texas Roadhouse – Polaris 
2 Child Admission Passes to ZipZone Outdoor Adventures Kids Park 
1 Large One-Topping Pizza from Jets Pizza 
1 Jar of Pure Peanut Butter from Crazy Richard’s 
1 Preview Class at Gymboree Play & Music 
1Half Dozen Donuts from Duck Donuts 
1- 5 oz cup from Menchie’s 
2- 30 Minute Passes to Sky Zone 
1 Child’s Nail Polish from Sweet & Sassy 
1 Philly Sandwich from Charleys Philly Steaks 
2 Ice Skate Rentals from The Chiller 
1 Kids Meal from Matt The Miller’s Tavern 
1 $50 Gift Certificate from Aaron Taylor Photography 
3- Two Hour Play Passes to Recreations Outlet 
2 Adult Admission Tickets to the Arnold SportsWorld Expo for Kids & Teens 
1 Class at Barre3 in Powell 
1 Attraction Pass to Magic Mountain Fun Center 
The baskets retail for $205 and the value is well over $500.

Piccadilly Play Cafe: In addition to the traditional indoor play space, Piccadilly sets itself apart from other play cafes by offering in-house babysitting, weekly classes, and a café. The classes offered are some of my favorites and include messy art experiences, cooking class for young children, mommy and me workout classes (yoga/squats & tots), and language classes. Gift cards can be purchased here (or in person at the play cafe) and the recipient can decide how she would like to use the monetary value (play passes/classes/toys/etc).

Franklin Park Conservatory: A membership to the Conservatory provides your family with unlimited access to the beautifully designed indoor and outdoor gardens. Each season brings with it a redesign of the park that includes “multi-faceted, art- and nature-based exhibitions.” In addition, there are weekly activities for families that are free with admission, including performances, cooking, and arts and crafts. Be on the lookout for the multi-sensory children’s garden that will be opening May 2018.

AHA! Children’s Museum: This Children’s Museum is an easy 45-minute drive southeast in Lancaster, Ohio. The mission of the museum is “Educating children in a world of discovery, curiosity and imagination through hands-on play.” It’s my favorite children’s museum to take my daughter, because it is located in a building with a smaller footprint, which makes it easier for my toddler to navigate (and for me to keep an eye on her), but it’s still packed full of a ton of hands-on, interactive activities. Memberships are extremely affordable, and will carryover to the new building that will open in January 2018.

Have you given the gift of experience before? Please share in the comment section below your favorite experience to give.