Welcome ROCmommas, ROCpoppas, and Friends!

Have fun with your kids - that's what it's all about. If you're looking for fun places to go in Rochester, NY (ROC), awesome
crafts to make, and yummy treats to bake with your kids - as well as some ideas for Date Nights - then you've come to the
right place. Welcome to ROCmomma. Happy reading, and please share your comments. Thank you!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

#26Acts of Kindness

Every time I think about what happened in Newtown, CT last week I start tearing up. It just breaks my heart. And I don't even know any of the families there.

I can't even begin to imagine what the families, friends, and neighbors are going through right now...or even how they will restore a sense of normalcy to their lives. Of course, our hearts go out to them, and many of us will help with donations. But I can't help feeling that I want to do more, and I know others feel the same. Tragedies have a habit of leaving the survivors with a need to fight back.

That's where #26Acts of Kindness comes in. Ann Curry of NBC News had posted on Twitter, "Imagine if everyone could commit to doing one act of kindness for every one of those children killed in Newtown." The response was overwhelming, and participants upped the ante to 26 acts of kindness: one in memory of every child and adult lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Others are opting for 27 acts, to include the killer's mother, who was also a victim. And still others are carrying out 28 acts of kindness, to also include the killer as he was struggling and in pain, too.

The number is irrelevant; the point is to do something nice for someone else and to let them know that you are doing it in memory of those victims in Newtown, CT. And to ask that person to pass it along. You can do 1 thing, 28 things, or 200 things. The point is to do something, and to inspire others to join in.

Here is a printable sheet of cards to leave behind with each of your acts of kindness, to help you  encourage others to pass it along. Or just keep a Post-It notepad with you. Or even scrap paper will do.

Should you choose to be a part of this movement, try this for your first act of kindness: make paper snowflakes for the students at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Those students will be relocated to another school and the PTSA is trying to organize a Winter Wonderland to welcome them. Get the kids involved and start cutting! Please send snowflakes by January 12, 2013 to:

Connecticut PTSA
60 Connolly Parkway
Building 12, Suite 103
Hamden, CT 06514

Your second, third, and fourth acts of kindness could be to send holiday cards to thank the first responders in Connecticut:

Monroe Police Department
7 Fan Hill Road
Monroe, CT 06468

Newtown Police Department
3 Main Street
Newtown, CT 06470

Connecticut State Police
Public Information Office
1111 Country Club Road
Middletown, CT 06457

Thanks to Mamatoga for posting those CT addresses.

Need more inspiration? Here are more ideas; just be sure to leave a note about #26Acts and encourage people to pass it along!

  • Donate to the Sandy Hook Elementary School Victims Relief Fun, which will provide counseling and help pay for funeral services
  • Buy Newtown breakfast. You can reach out to local businesses, like the Newtown General Store (203-426-9901), help people in town. One person in CA donated 100 cups of coffee! Another paid for breakfast for first responders in Newtown. 
  • Pay for the person behind you at Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks. Be sure to leave behind a card to let them know about #26Acts, and to pass it along.
  • Send a holiday card to your children's teacher(s) or a favorite teacher from when you were a student. Be sure to let them know how much you appreciate them.
  • Leave bakery treats for the mail carrier or garbage collectors.
  • Let someone go ahead of you in line.
  • Take dog food, treats, and toys to an animal rescue shelter.
  • Leave a big tip at a restaurant.
  • Donate clothes.
  • Donate toys.
  • Put a $20 in a Salvation Army red kettle.
  • Leave change in a vending machine or laundromat.
  • Bring lunch to a homeless person.
  • Leave an already-read book in a waiting room for someone else to enjoy.
  • Leave a happy note and a flower on someone's windshield in a parking lot.
  • Put change in an expired, or nearly expired, parking meter.
  • Offer to watch a friend's kids for a few hours to give mom or dad a break.
  • Make Christmas cookies for your neighbors.
  • Make a donation to your favorite charity.
  • Make Christmas cookies or other treats for your pediatrician's office.
  • Bring a Starbucks gift card to give Santa after your kids pose for their picture.
  • Bring bakery treats to your local fire department, and let them know how much you appreciate them. 
  • Donate toys to the children's ward at a local hospital.
  • Visit someone who is sick, just to cheer them up.
  • Find a local blood drive and give blood.
  • Donate an old winter coat to One Warm Coat or Coats for Kids
  • Continue helping the victims of Hurricane Sandy
  • Check out volunteer opportunities in your area by visiting DoSomething.org
Check out what others have done and posted on BuzzFeed. There are more ideas here. Learn more on Facebook. And check out #26Acts on Twitter.

Be sure to Post a Comment and share your one random act of kindness, or - better yet - your #26 Acts. As always, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Holiday Lights You Don't Want To Miss

When the kids are a bit older, I have the best idea pinned on Pinterest. Here's what will happen: I'll take the boys upstairs to get ready for bed while my ROCpoppa will be downstairs making bags of popcorn and travel mugs of hot chocolate, and warming up the car with Barenaked for the Holidays loaded in the CD player. When the kids climb into their beds, they will each find a ticket on their pillow to ride the Minivan Express for a tour of holiday lights.

Someday. At these ages (3 and 5), if they stay up late, there's hell to pay. And neither of them will drink hot chocolate. Oh well.

So on Sunday we had an early dinner, bundled up, and headed out to see some Christmas lights. Our boys like to call out "Christmas lights!" every time we pass some on their side of the car. They keep track of points based on how many lights were passed on their side. Their enthusiasm began to wind down after about five minutes...until we came to the first "jackpot. A jackpot is a house with spectacular, unbelievable lights that make you, "Ooh!," and, "Aah!" There were three jackpots on our list:

1. 16 Beauclaire Lane, Fairport, NY - Beaumont Estates, off Turk Hill Road, just north of Route 96 (Neuchatel is the nearest crossroad with Beauclaire). This display is pretty amazing; there is so much to see! Our boys love the helicopter the best. Beauclaire is a circle, so you can drive by the extravaganza, loop around the circle and drive by a second time.
2. Colony Lane, Henrietta, NY - near Lehigh Station Road & Masthead. All of the houses on this circle have created wonderful displays with over 10,000 lights and dozens of inflatables. You may drive around the circle on Colony Lane to view the lights, or park on Cape Cod and walk around to see the lights. Please do not park in the circle. The residents of Colony Lane are collecting non-perishable items for the Rush-Henrietta Area Food Terminal; please leave your items in the designated bin in the center of the circle. While the lights may be enjoyed any night from 5-10 p.m., all visitors on Fridays and Saturdays from 6 - 8:30 p.m. will have a chance to take a photo with Santa, Mrs. Claus, Elmo, and the Grinch.
3. Preston Circle, Pittsford, NY - off Park Ridge, close to Park Road Elementary School and Camp Arrowhead. This "jackpot" was a hidden treasure for us; we didn't hear about it ahead of time and had simply been driving by. There are tons of characters on display here, plus a Christmas countdown, and holiday music.
There are, of course, tons of other holiday-lights hot-spots in the Rochester area. Check out this list for "jackpot" destinations in Gates, Chili, Farmington, Victor, Irondequoit, Pittsford, East Rochester, Ontario, Penfield, Webster, and Walworth. However, we haven't visited those yet so I can't vouch for their jackpot-ness.

Do you know of any other "jackpot" holiday lights displays in the Rochester area? Be sure to Post a Comment and let us know.

Enjoy the holiday lights, and, as always, thanks for reading.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Family Fun This Weekend

The countdown continues to the holly jolly festivities! 'Tis the season to bundle up and celebrate winter. Take the kids for a night drive to see holiday lights, check out some holiday trains, or get your picture taken with LEGO Santa. It's gonna be a fun weekend...


Colony Lane Circle of Lights
Friday, December 7 - Saturday, December 22 from 5-10:00 p.m. (Fridays, Saturdays, & Sundays only)
Colony Lane Circle of Lights, 239 Colony Lane, Henrietta, NY
Enjoy over 50,000 lights and 30 inflatables! Tune in to 91.9 FM in your car to hear the music for the computerized light show. Visit on Fridays and Saturdays from 6-8 p.m. to visit with Santa Claus, The Grinch, and Elmo (bring your camera)! This event is free; visitors are encouraged to bring non-perishable goods for a food drive to support Rush-Henrietta Area Food Terminal. Non-periashable food items, paper items, and pet supplies are needed this year. Please do not park on the circle; parking is permitted in the driveways or on Cape Cod Way.

Yuletide in the Country
Friday, December 7 - Sunday, December 16 from 1:30 - 8:30 p.m. (Fridays, Saturdays, & Sundays only)
Genesee Country Village & Museum, 1410 Flint Hill Road, Mumford, NY
Enjoy festively decorated homes, reenactments of Yuletides past, joyful songs, merry instrumental music, and more Christmas customs of the 19th Century. Tours last approximately 1 1/2 hours and depart every 15 minutes; tours are $22 per person. A dinner buffet is available from 4-8:30 p.m. for $30 per adult, $16 per child (ages 4-10); children 3 and under are free. Dinner reservations are required: (585) 294-8218.

Christmas Fun
Friday, December 7 - Sunday December 16, from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. (Fridays, Saturdays, & Sundays only)
Stokoe Farms, 656 South Road, Scottsville, NY
Take a wagon ride into the fields, stroll through the trees and choose just the right one. Enjoy complimentary hot chocolate and tree baling, a bonfire, live manger scene, straw fort for the kids, and you may even see Santa Claus. The gift shop, indoor restaurant, and restrooms are all open.

Sweet Creations Gingerbread House Display
Now through Wednesday, December 12 from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Tues-Sun and 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sunday (closed Mondays and Christmas Day)
George Eastman House, 900 East Avenue, Rochester, NY
See more than 60 cleverly designed gingerbread houses from professional bakers, families, and community groups. Included with museum admission: adults, $12; children 12 and under are free.

A T. Rex Named Sue
Daily through January 6, 2013; Mon-Sat 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Sun 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Rochester Museum & Science Center, 657 East Avenue, Rochester, NY
See the largest, most complete, and best-preserved T. Rex! Touch casts of Sue's bones, complete a 3-D puzzle with bones, move models of Sue's jaws, and more. Included with general admission.
Dora & Diego: Let's Explore
Daily through January 6, 2013: Mon-Thurs 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Fri-Sat 10 a.m. - 8 p.m., Sun 12 - 5 p.m.
Strong National Museum of Play, 1 Manhattan Square, Rochester, NY
This fun, interactive exhibit includes a pirate ship, animal rescue center, rainforest maze, flower garden, rocket ship, car, and Purple Planet slide.

Pictures with Santa
Saturday, December 7 from 4 p.m. - 7 p.m.
The Apple Shed, 3391 Fairville Maple Ridge Road, Newark, NY
Have your picture taken with Santa, plus enjoy fun activities for the kids including crafts, cookie decorating, and games.

Game Night
Friday, December 7 from 5:30 - 8:30 p.m. (repeats on Fridays through December 21, 2012)
ArtsROC, 3462 Monroe Avenue, Pittsford, NY
Kids ages 5-12 can enjoy movies, Wii, Xbox, Minecraft, tons of LEGOs, and a pizza party for $25 at ArtsROC. Call (585) 218-9125 or email info@artsroc.net for more information. Or click here to register.

Family Night
Friday, December 7 from 4:30 - 10:00 p.m.
YMCA- Southeast, 111 East Jefferson Road, Pittsford, NY
The Adventure Center is open from 4:30-9 p.m. (remember your socks!), make a holiday craft in the Lobby at 5:30 p.m., enjoy pizza in the Lobby at 5:45 p.m until it runs out ($1/slice), roller skate in the Gym from 6-8 p.m. ($4/person for skate rental), and swim in the pool from 7-10 p.m. Open to the community.

Fun Fridays
Friday, December 7 from 6 - 8 p.m.
YMCA-Westside, 920 Elmgrove Road, Rochester, NY
Family gym games, inflatables, obstacle course, crafts, and family swimming. There is no fee for members; $10 per family for the community.


Pittsford CAN Day
Saturday, December 8 from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
ArtsROC, 3462 Monroe Avenue, Rochester, NY
Support arts in education by participating in Pittsford's CAN Day. Drop off your 5-cent cans and bottles and get your picture taken with LEGO Santa. LEGO Batman and LEGO Robin will also be there.

Edgerton Model Railroad Club Holiday Open House
Saturday, December 8 from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Edgerton Recreation Center, 41 Backus Street, Rochester, NY
Visit four historic model railroad layouts depicting the Rochester area during each of the four seasons. Be on the lookout for the Polar Express train and Thomas the Tank Engine & his friends. Plus be sure to press the operating buttons along the edge of the layout (fun for young visitors). Parking and admission are free, but donations are welcome.


Dino Days
Saturday, December 8 - Sunday, December 9 from 12 - 4:00 p.m.
Rochester Museum & Science Center, 657 East Avenue, Rochester, NY
Explore three geologic periods of the Mesozoic Era with programs designed for younger children. Check out A T. rex Named Sue, and make paper dinosaurs and fossil rubbings to take home.

Holiday Family Fun
Saturday, December 8 - Sunday, December 9 (weekends only, continues through December 23)
The Garden Factory, 2126 Buffalo Road, Rochester, NY
Enjoy an indoor winter carnival in the greenhouse! The model train display opens at 10 a.m. along with the Hilton Sno-Flyers Snow Show. Rides, crafts, games, and the light show will run from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., and photos with Santa will be available from 12 - 4 p.m. Admission is free and includes the model trains; rides are $0.50-1.50 each, crafts are $1-2.50, games are $2.50, and the light show is $2 per person (ages 3 and under are free for the light show). While the activities are indoors, it is still chilly in the greenhouse - coats and hats are a good idea.
Holly Trolley Rides
Weekends only; Saturday, December 8 - Sunday, December 16 from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
New York Museum of Transportation, 6393 East River Road, Rochester, NY
Catch the holiday spirit with an old-fashioned trolley ride. Plus, visit the train cars, model trains, and antique car and trucks inside the museum. Admission plus trolley ride is $5 per adult and $4 per child under 12; children under 3 are free.

I hope you find some fun things to do this weekend! As always, thanks for reading.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Kids Birthday Party Idea: Harry Potter

Sure, the book series has been over for some time. Even the movies are officially done. But kids still love Harry, Hermione, and Ron. This summer my niece fell in love with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter while she was on a family vacation in Disney World. Afterward, she wanted a Harry Potter birthday party. We had such a good time at the party, I had to share it. My brother-in-law and soon-to-be sister-in-law did an amazing job with the party details! So, if your kids like Harry Potter, consider these ideas for their next birthday party.

  • There are quite a few blogs and websites that graciously offer free printables for Harry Potter invitations; here is a good one.
  • Or, check out this letter from Hogwarts
  • For the "where" on the invitation, invite your friends to come to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry, with your home address of course.
  • Let guests know they are encouraged to dress like their favorite character.
  • Place a "9 3/4" sign over the front doorway; paint a brick wall design (use a large sponge to stamp the brick pattern) on an old bed sheet & cut a slit up the middle; hang the bed sheet in the doorway so guests must walk "through" the brick wall to enter the party (just like Platform 9 3/4 to the Hogwarts Express!) Thanks to My Harry Potter Party for this idea.
  • Plastic cauldrons, brooms, and toy owls are all good decorations.
  • Consider using house colors for balloons, streamers, and table cloths: red and gold for Gryffindor, yellow and black for Hufflepuff, blue and bronze for Ravenclaw (blue and gray in the films), and/or green and silver for Slytherin.
  • Potion Jar Centerpieces: Gather jars from the recycling bin, clean them and remove labels. Make your own labels and fill accordingly: Dried Beetles (prunes), Gillyweed (weeds in water), Veritaserum (molasses), Bat Eyes (black lentils), Blind Cat Eyes (cocktail onions), Blood Worms (spaghetti in tomato sauce), Felix Felicis - liquid luck (maple syrup), Amortentia - love potion (cranberry juice), etc.
  • Attach paper wings to old keys; hang the keys from the ceiling - just like in The Sorcerer's Stone.
  • Encourage costumes! They're not decorations, but they add to the festivities! Just check out Severus Snape at my niece's party:
Goodie Bags

Broomstick goodie bags! Use two brown paper bags per child; place one bag inside the other. Fringe the top few inches by cutting straight lines through both layers, about halfway down the length of the bag. Fill each bag with goodies of your choice, then place a large pretzel rod in each bag. Gather the fringe around the pretzel and use a length of gold ribbon to secure it in place. Tie the ribbon and curl the ends. Voila!

For the goodies, you could include some jelly beans in a bag with a label that reads "Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans." A few other candies from the books and movies are "Licorice Wands" (Twizzlers), "Drooble's Best Blowing Gum" (any bubble gum), lemon drops (Dumbledore likes them), and "Fizzing Whizbees" (Pop Rocks).

You could also make a magic wand for each guest out of chopsticks, beads, paint, and glue. Check out the step by step instructions here.

What Harry Potter party would be complete without Butterbeer?!? You can easily make a larger batch of this recipe by multiplying the ingredients by the number of guests; melt the butter and syrup on the stovetop; remove from heat and stir in the soda just before serving.
Wizard Hat Cupcakes
Ingredients needed: cupcakes(favorite flavor; made from scratch or from a box mix), silver cupcake liners, frosting (favorite flavor; could be dyed with food coloring to match house colors), sprinkles (again, could go with house colors), ice cream cones, tube of yellow decorator icing.

Prepare cupcakes in silver liners, according to package directions. When cool, frost the cupcakes and add sprinkles. Place one ice cream cone on top of each cupcake (if desired, you could roll the cones in melted chocolate first, to get darker wizard hats). Use the yellow decorator icing to draw lightning bolts on each cone.

To save on time, purchase frosted cupcakes and simply add sprinkles and ice cream cones.
For the Grown-Ups
For an adult Harry Potter party, consider serving some of these Harry Potter Cocktail Concoctions, including The Fred & George Weasley, The Luna Lovegood, The Neville Longbottom, The Draco Malfoy. Or one of the Goblet of Fire Concoctions, including The Goblet of Fire, The Fleur Delacour, The Viktor Krum, or The Cedric Diggory. Or one of the Death Eaters Cocktail Concoctions, including The Death Eaters, The Bellatrix Lestrange, The Lucius Malfoy, or The Peter Pettigrew. Or one of the Pureblood and Mudblood Concoctions, including Butterbeer, Firewhiskey, Pureblood, or Mudblood. Or one of the Hogwarts House Concoctions, including Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, or Slytherin. There are also The Albus Dumbledore, The Remus Lupin, The Minerva McGonagall, or The Severus Snape. Then there are The Rubeus Hagrid, The Hermione Granger, The Ronald Weasley,   or The Sirius Black. Or, finally, The Lord Voldemort, The Horcrux, The Harry Potter, or The Golden Snitch. So many choices...yum!

For more food ideas, check out the Top 10 Harry Potter Related Recipes or these Harry Potter Recipes.


Supplies Needed: a large witch-like hat, one house badge per child (optional: two walkie talkies; attach one to the inside of the hat); a bag or container for the house badges. To make the house badges, search the internet for "hogwarts house crests printable"and print the crests; attach to name tags, or use a button maker (if you have one) to turn them into buttons.

Each guest is sorted into a house, just as the students at Hogwarts are sorted. Have each child take a turn sitting in a special chair, and place the Sorting Hat on his or her head. The child reaches into the container, without looking, to choose a house badge.

OR, if you are able to use walkie talkies, the one inside the hat should be turned on. When the sorting begins, one adult should leave the room with the other walkie talkie. When each child puts on the Sorting Hat, the person working the other walkie talkie can pretend to be the voice of the Sorting Hat and call out a house name. Then, the child takes the corresponding house badge.
Supplies needed: toy or candy creatures (rats, frogs, snakes, owls, dragons, insects)

Before the party, hide the creatures around the house.

Children split up into their house teams, based on the sorting. Assign each house a different room or area for the hunt; each house tries to find and collect as many magical creatures as possible. Each person adds up the number of creatures they caught; the person with the most gets to choose a prize first, and so on. Fun prizes could be a magic-trick kit, magic wand, Harry Potter-ish glasses, etc.

Before the party, place 2-3 drops of food coloring at the bottom of each party cup and let dry; use a variety of colors. Just before serving drinks, fill each cup with ice to hide the food coloring. Hand out the cups. As each child watches, pour water or lemon-lime soda over the ice and it will magically turn to a colored beverage.

Since this is Divination Class, assign a meaning to each color and predict each child's future. Yellow means they are going to have a happy day, green means a lucky day, red means they will fall in love, blue means they are going to be surprised, etc.

Supplies needed: 3 Hula Hoops spray-painted gold, 3 stakes of varying heights to attach to the hoops, a ball. Variation: if you can't play outside, consider transforming an indoor ball-toss game, and use a beanbag or soft ball.

Teams take turns throwing the ball through the hoops; assign different point values for each hoop.


I hope your little muggles enjoy these ideas for a Harry Potter party! As always, thanks for reading.

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