Monthly Archives: April 2010

66 Things You Can Grow At Home: In Containers, Without a Garden

Who knew? And I am certainly no gardener…but with trying to be more green and eat organically, this might be a real possibility!

Growing your own food is exciting, not only because you get to see things grow from nothing into ready-to-eat fruits and veggies, but you also don’t have to worry about the pesticides they might contain, and you definitely cut down on the miles they—and you—have to travel.

As it turns out, with pretty minimal effort, anyone can be a gardener.

Read the whole article here, and see the list of tree fruits, citrus fruits, tropical fruits, herbs, veggies, and a few surprises  you can grow in pots.


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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Your Kids’ Clothes Easily With thredUP

Back when my kids were outgrowing their outfits every three months, it pained me to have to restock their wardrobe continually. It wasn’t just the cost, it was the time it took to select each item. That’s why I’m intrigued by the new easier-swap site thredUP kids.

In just a few minutes, you can pick out a box of gently-worn clothing that will fit your child, pay a few bucks to have the box shipped to you, and voila: Right-sized outfits that my kids can outgrow again.

Then, in about the time of a typical nap, you put outgrown clothing into a free USPS box, write a general description of the box’s content on the thredUP kids site and wait for someone to request the box from you which thredUP kids completely arranges. Oh, and you don’t pay a thing to mail something out. Bonus!

If the idea of swapping clothes with strangers gives you the willies (although you know, the washing machine does take care of that for most people), you can create an “inner circle” of friends and family and keep your swaps within that group. And, if you are super-picky about the clothes your kids’ wear, thredUP kids has a “Pro” membership that will provide more detailed views of the clothing in a box, as well as a few other personalized features that are still being developed.

Of course, if your babes can only wear organic cotton onesies hand-knit on a Peruvian loom, then you probably know that a swap site isn’t going to work for you. But for the rest of us? thredUP kids makes it pretty easy to reduce, reuse and recycle kids’ clothes, and restock your kids’ wardrobe for a little more than the cost of a single outfit.

Thanks to Cool Mom Picks for alerting us to this great site!

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Shop Rite Now Offers Mobile & Email Coupons

As a non-working mommy, I’m looking for ways to save money all the time. I just happen to be a big Shot Rite shopper and received notification that they are offering mobile and email coupons. Registration couldn’t be easier, and for the “trouble” you get a $2.00 bonus checkout coupon. You must have a Price Plus Card to register…it will ask you for that number.

Once you register, it will ask you what areas you are interested in receiving coupons for…beauty/pet/baby/grocery/etc. Then they will send you a maximum of 12 offers in a four week period. Easy peasy!

Here’s the link:

We’re always interested in hearing your money saving suggestions. Let us know!


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Make Cinco de Mayo Maracas

inco de Mayo celebrates an important battle in Mexican history. Although the battle took place across the border, the holiday is widely celebrated in America by people of Mexican heritage. Why not take part in the festivities? These maracas make a racket, and they couldn’t be easier to make…

What You Need:

  • 2 plastic drink bottles
  • rocks
  • dried uncooked pasta
  • beans
  • rice
  • masking tape
  • markers

What You Do:

  1. Rinse out the plastic bottles. Talk to your child about the fact that each of the materials on the table (rocks, pasta, beans, and rice) can be used to fill the maracas. Discuss the qualities of each of the filler materials and ask her to make some predictions about what each material would sound like and what it would do if it filled a bottle (for example, “The rocks are big, so they’d be hard to shake” or “The rice is light so the bottle wouldn’t feel very heavy”).
  2. Allow your child to fill the plastic bottle with the fill material of her choice. Close the bottle, let her shake it, and tell her she can exchange it for something else if she’d like. This is a great time to allow your child to experiment with different fill materials. How is the sound made by rocks in the bottle different than the sound made by rice?
  3. Once your child has settled on the perfect fill materials, place a lid on each bottle and secure with masking tape. Cover the entire bottle with layers of masking tape and give your child the markers so she can decorate them. Strike up the music and shake!

Taken from bringing learning to life.

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Raising a Reader

When it comes to reading, parents often place a lot of pressure on their kids  — and themselves  — early on. But there’s no reason to rush things. Brain-development research shows that children aren’t ready to learn the mechanics of reading until around age 5. Buying a preschooler phonics workbooks or reading software is not only unnecessary, it could also overwhelm her and turn her off from reading. That doesn’t mean you can’t help lay the foundation for your child’s love of reading, though. The best approach: Have fun!

Babies and toddlers

Reading to your infant  — even though he can’t understand everything you say  — is the best way to begin. And one of the great things about storytime is that there’s really no way to get it wrong. Even 10 to 15 minutes, two or three times a week, can offer immense benefits. Some ways to start:

Give your baby a few cloth books as soon as he’s able to manipulate objects with his hands. He’ll learn that pages turn and that pictures can be right-side up or upside down.

Make books accessible. Keep a bag filled with stories in the car to read to your toddler when you’re, say, waiting for your older child after school; stash one in your purse to pull out while you’re in line at the store.

React to the story. Pause to point out pictures, or note similarities between the book and your child’s life (“That little kitten looks exactly like Grandma’s!”).

Follow your child’s pace. As your baby gets older, he may want to turn back a page or two, or dwell especially long on an illustration. Let him.


Reading to preschoolers teaches them to read from left to right, and that the little marks on the page  — not just the pictures  — convey the story. Strategies to make the experience even more enriching:

Ask questions about the story (“What do you think will happen next?”) and talk about the pictures.

Read it again. While you may be tempted to hide that copy of Goodnight Moon just to avoid having to read it for the fifth time in a row, know that the desire for repetition is an important developmental stage. It’s most pronounced during the toddler years, but can extend through early elementary school.

Make the alphabet fun by putting letters in context. For instance, ask your child to point out the “i” on the side of an ice cream truck or the “t” on a toy store.

Encourage your child to “read” or point out symbols, such as a stop sign.

Let her pretend to read to you. Many kids memorize books before they can actually read. Even if she hasn’t committed a story to memory, she might still be able to describe what’s happening on the page.
Kindergartners and first-graders

At this age, most children will start to sound out words and read simple books. To give yours a hand:

Choose rhyming texts. Rhymes emphasize the relationship between spelling and pronunciation.

Seek out books about things he likes, whether it’s cartoon superheroes, sports, or pets.

Encourage him to read (and reread) easy books aloud. This will familiarize him with words and word endings.

Don’t interrupt if he mispronounces a word or spells it out incorrectly. Instead, wait until he finishes, then say, “Did that word make sense? Let’s take another look.” He may be able to glean a word’s meaning from its context.

Don’t stop reading to him. Even children who can already read on their own appreciate the chance to simply listen.

Avoiding reading roadblocks

It’s a great day when your child is finally able to read a book “all by myself!” But even the most enthusiastic early reader can hit a rough patch. Some potential problems that may pop up, and ways to help your child steer clear of (or get through) them:

Pictures vs. a thousand words (ages 6 to 8) As she makes the transition from picture to text books, your child may have trouble finding material she likes. That’s because she’s accustomed to the complex chapter books you’ve read to her, but her own early books are much simpler to match her skill level  — and no longer have as many fun illustrations. The solution: Talk to librarians, teachers, and other parents to find engaging titles, and keep reading more advanced books, like Charlotte’s Web, together.

No time for books (ages 8 to 9) By third grade, other activities, like afterschool programs and homework, compete for your child’s limited free time. Make sure books don’t fall by the wayside by limiting TV viewing and making reading part of your child’s daily routine. Also, make sure she has a comfortable, well-lighted spot to curl up in with a book, and encourage her to read aloud to you or a younger sibling. Playing word games, such as Scrabble, will also help build her vocabulary.

Real men don’t read! (ages 8 and Up) Boys far outnumber girls in remedial reading classes, and many experts blame cultural biases that emphasize sports over academic achievement. Raise your son’s interest by filling your home with books, magazines, and newspapers, and let your child see you poring over them.

The fourth-grade slump (ages 9 to 10) Some experts estimate that as many as one-third of children lose interest in books sometime around the fourth grade. To keep your child excited, capitalize on her natural curiosity. Visit the library or bookstore to find things she’s interested in (including comic books), and don’t make reading another chore by forcing her to finish a book she doesn’t like.


Nurturing a love of reading is a process. It’s not about having a precocious 3-year-old or a grade-schooler who’s a bookworm, but rather about raising a child whose life will be enriched by books and learning. So surround yours with imaginative stories and let him take the lead  — soon he’ll be recommending great books to you!

Article taken from

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Books We Recommend

Our local library runs a great story time, and these books have been featured. Great stories to enjoy with your little one tonight. You can purchase at your local book store, but don’t forget your library! You can check these books out for free. Should they be a big hit, then you might want to invest in purchasing. (I know until I had my daughter, I didn’t think of borrowing books from the library. I would have saved a lot of money!)

Llama Llama Misses Mama
by Anna Dewdney

Llama Llama is just starting school. The classroom is new and exciting, but then Mama has to leave. Llama Llama becomes shy and doesn’t want to join in the fun. With some help from his teacher and his new classmates, he learns he can love both his mama and school, too. Ages 3–5. $16.99;

Finn Throws a Fit!
by David Elliott
illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering

Get ready for the earth to shake, because today Finn doesn’t like peaches. He doesn’t like anything. Lively illustrations show the chaos in the household when Finn launches into a full-scale tantrum. Anyone with a child who has ever had a thunderous fit can relate to Finn when reading this book. Ages 2–4. $16.99;

Ella Kazoo Will Not Brush Her Hair
by Lee Foxillustrated by Jennifer Plecas
Ella Kazoo and her mom battle daily over the hairbrush. Over time, her hair begins collecting debris from around the house. Young readers will laugh when they find socks, dollar bills, eating utensils, and many other objects stuck in Ella’s hair. When the unruly locks take on a life of their own, Ella and her mom reach an agreement about how to handle the problem. Ages 3–6. $15.99;

Back to Bed, Ed!
by Sebastien Braun

Getting ready for bed is fun, but actually going to bed is another matter in this book. Ed is a young mouse who likes to play silly games with Dad, take a bath, and cuddle with Mom during story time. But Ed doesn’t like staying in bed. Kids will be curious to see what happens when Mom and Dad have one plan for bedtime, but Ed mousterminds his own. Ages 2 –6. $15.95;

Milo Armadillo
by Jan Fearnley
Young Tallulah wants a fluffy pink rabbit for her birthday, but there are none to be found. When her grandma decides to knit one for her, the knitting gets out of control and results in a multi-colored armadillo named Milo. Milo is a good friend, but Tallulah still wishes she had a rabbit—until Milo leaves. Collage-style artwork brings Tallulah and Milo to life in this sweet story about friendship. Ages 2 and up. $15.99;

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Summer Camp

Ahhh, summer camp.

It either brings back happy memories or horrid shutters. Now, as experienced camper parents, we want our kids to have a positive summer camp experience…otherwise it’s going to be a looooooooooong summer. And who wants to listen to that kind of whining when the sun is shining? (The kids are at camp, we’ve got better things to do!!)

The best way to ensure a positive experience is to do your homework. Find out what your child is interested in, what they would like in a camp and do lots of visits to ensure a good fit (for both the child and your wallet). Camps aren’t what they used to be. You have sports camps, educational camps, arts camps, computer camps, religious based camps, theater camps, overnight camps and your good old fashioned day camp.

We’ve attached a list of some great summer camps in the area. Thoughts/recommendations are always welcome. Good luck!

Summer20CampGuide (taken from Macaroni Kid West Morris)

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