Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

I am moving in a few weeks and have been going through my clothing, gadgets, shoes, and more. While researching charities to donate my unneeded items to here in New York, it made me think that I am so fortunate that my mother and father taught me the importance of not just throw away things. Instead proactively go through your home a few times a year and give things to charity and those in need. I decided that I am going to donate to a local AIDS organization for families who have members with AIDS and that struggle.

Charity and the spirit of giving have been elevated to a new level in the past few years, following natural disasters like the earthquake in Japan, the war in Iraq, and terrorist attacks around the globe. Your child doesn’t have to be a Carnegie, a Ford, or a Rockefeller, to become a philanthropist.

Many parents are using the destruction delivered by these catastrophes as an opportunity to help children learn about charity and the importance of reaching out to others in their time of need.

You can make a family donation – big or small – and involve your child by allowing them to pick out the charity, write the check and even prepare the envelope to mail it.  It is important to allow your children to witness turning pain and grief/loss into a time of extending love and compassion to those they don’t even know, whether it be in the United States or around the world. 

Here is how your family can help.

1.    Donate clothes like me!
Periodically go through your closets rooting out clothes you haven’t worn in a while, which can be given to the Salvation Army or Goodwill for distribution to the needy. I always say if you haven’t worn it in 6-9 months…someone more deserving needs those clothes. Encourage your children to do the same. Allow them to select which clothes or toys they wish to donate. The value of this activity is diminished greatly if you go through their closets for them without their presence. For maximum benefit, get your children involved in choosing the appropriate items. Take your children with you when you drop the items off at the charitable destination.

2.    Help neighbors.
Regularly engage in a service-oriented project. Rake the leaves of an elderly couple. Bake cookies for a serviceman or servicewoman. If you have leftovers from when you go out to dinner, give them to a homeless person and teach your children that you just gave them a good meal.

3.    Make birthdays charitable.
Set up birthday parties as a time for giving to others. At your child’s first school-age birthday party, ask guests to bring a gift of a book (new or used) to be donated to a local charity. Talk to your son about the books he has and about children who have no books. Explain that one way to celebrate a birthday would be to give to those who have less. Involve the birthday boy in the decision of whether or not to give the books to a woman’s shelter, a doctor’s office, or some other appropriate organization. When you deliver the books with your son, record it on camera, and revisit that movie (or those pictures) on future birthdays.

4.    Give back to pets.
At regular intervals, buy dog or cat food and take it to the humane society. Allow your children to spend some time with the recipients of the gift.

5.    Deliver nutrition.
Build food baskets around the holidays and give to a needy family suggested by your church or school. Involve your children is selecting canned goods, fruit, and other treats to include. Decorate the gift package and deliver it together, as a family.

6.    Help elders.
Do things for the elderly that they have trouble doing for themselves. Pick up sticks in your neighbor’s yard after a big windstorm. Mow the grass for Grandma. Wash Grandpa’s car. Clean their windows in the spring. Help them plant flowers.

7.    Pitch in.
Get on a regular service schedule at your church or synagogue. Sign up for a time to mow the grass and trim the bushes. Take your turn ushering and allow your child to assist.

By implementing some of these ideas or others like them, you will be teaching your children that charity is not reserved only for emergencies. You will be helping them appreciate that reaching out to others in need is a way of life, rather than a moment in time when a catastrophic disaster occurs.

Read Full Post »

On a recent family road trip we were stuck in our car for many hours. Time seems to travel very slowly when you’re all cooped up. One way to pass the time more quickly is with a game (or two). I thought coming up with a game for a pre-schooler would be easy, but my little girl didn’t seem to like my ideas of counting red cars or the like. Instead, she decided to come up with a few on her own. I thought I’d share them with you in case your little one might also like them. We had four very cooperative adults and one 4-year-old playing, but the games can be adjusted for more or less car participants.

Spongebob fill-in-the-blank pants
Lilah happens to adore the character Spongebob so she had each of us say “Spongebob,” a word, then “pants”. For example: “Spongebob Fancy Pants” or “Spongebob Cow Pants” or “Spongebob supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Pants”. We had to do this in a specific order and then we would all laugh at whatever the person said whether it was funny or not. Then the next person would go. You could not repeat a word. We played this for over an hour. We constantly had to come up with something new and the time moved more quickly. When she tired of this we moved on to…

Handy Manny
This game was very similar, but you fill in the blank with a number or a letter. For example: “Handy Manny C” or “Handy Manny 1234.” Our numbers were getting out of hand. They turned into “Handy Manny 1 thousand 4 hundred 52 18 4 72 999.58885.123.123.222”. My dad started using fractions and my daughter’s numbers would take 5 minutes just to say. 🙂 For the slightly older kids, if they say a letter you could also have them say a word that starts or ends with it and/or use it in a sentence.

The last game we played was Diego. Are you sensing a trend here?

Diego’s musical instruments
For this game we had to say “Diego” and then say the name of a musical instrument. I don’t know about you, but this game could be very short unless all of you have an extensive list or musical instruments in your mind. This quickly turned into my mom telling my daughter a musical instrument and each of us saying it with our own spin. One person might pronounce it with a different em-PHA-sis on the SYLL-A-bles or someone else might say “drum” and then pretend they were drumming. You of course could do this with anything; colors, shapes, bugs, or animals.

The point is pick something your kids would like to say and get their brains engaged. It was also great fun for the adults because we all got to be “kids.”

Read Full Post »

I was having a conversation with an elderly lady in the waiting room and she told me a story about her great grandson. She thought perhaps he may be a bit too old to still be breastfeeding. She was traveling to Vermont with him and his family when he started to throw a tantrum. He stood in his seat, pounding his fists on the headrest while chanting at the top of lungs,

I WANT BOOBIE! I WANT BOOBIE!”

–Daniel, age 5

Editor’s Note:
Please spread the giggles by sharing your funny quotes with us!

Read Full Post »

Photo by: Albert Michael/Startraks

Magician and illusionist, David Blaine, welcome his first child – a baby girl last Wednesday with fiancée Alizee Guinochet. The story of her labor is quite heroic! I learned from People.com that she began experiencing contractions as 19 inches of snow fell last Wednesday in New York City. Blaine tried to hail a taxi, but with no one on the road and car services in the Big Apple unwilling to venture out in the storm, he eventually flagged down a snow plow! After explaining the situation to the driver, the couple were brought to the hospital. Go Daddy! This luxurious Le Top Baby “Buttons & Bows” Collection carriage blanket would be perfect to keep her warm in the NYC chill. She will have a certain sweet je ne sais quoi in this generous 30×36 inch double layer pink and white stripe velour carriage blanket that will keep her snug and warm. Velour front and back with solid pink satin picture-frame border, finished with French knots and embroidery make this a classic for years to come.

Le Top Baby "Buttons & Bows" Collection blanket

  

Read Full Post »

As a child – I always remembered the fridge as the “trophy area” for my homemade pictures, photos of the family, report cards, and other fun projects that I would take home from school. In general, the kitchen is the main gathering spot for many parents and kids. It has been snowing like crazy in New York so what better than an arts and crafts activity such as clay magnets! And when your child crafts clay magnets for displaying these mementos, he or she can work on artistic skills and show off his or her school accomplishments at the same time! Clay is a great tool to work with because it encourages young children to simply manipulate and pound clay into various shapes. By using their fingers to roll tiny balls for eyes or other details, kids will also exercise their fine-motor skills.

After the shape cools, your child can bring the object to life with paint and other decorations. Give your kids the 3 primary colors of red, blue and yellow and let them mix and match to make secondary colors. Add other details such as wiggly eyes, spots, stripes and other marks or even glitter to let your kids express themselves!

Items Needed:

  • Sculpey clay or other polymer clay material
  • Waxed paper
  • Rolling pin or large empty soda bottle
  • Felt-tipped pen
  • Craft knife or kitchen knife
  • Picture wire or beading wire (optional)
  • Scissors or wire cutter (optional)
  • Metal spatula
  • Baking tray
  • Artist’s brushes
  • Acrylic craft or poster paint
  • All-purpose sealer (optional)
  • Magnetic tape (available at craft stores)
  • Glue or hot-glue gun


Directions:

  1. Knead clay into a ball. Place on waxed paper on flat work surface. Roll clay flat to about 1/4″ thickness with rolling pin or empty soda bottle. (Keep the shape small and fairly thin or the magnet won’t be strong enough to hold it to the refrigerator.)
  2. Ask your child to draw the outline of an animal or any other shape desired with a felt-tipped pen on the clay. Using a craft or kitchen knife, parents should carefully cut out the shape and peel away the excess clay. Gently reshape edges of the shape if they stretch when you peel away the extra. Ask your child to add details such as eyes, a nose, or stripes by rolling small balls of clay or cutting shapes and strips.
  3. If desired, older children may cut whiskers, manes, or tails from picture wire or beading wire with scissors or wire cutters (younger kids can paint them on). Press the wire into the clay at the appropriate place. Using a spatula or your fingers, gently lift the shape and place it on a baking tray. Bake the shape in a preheated oven following the manufacturer’s instructions on the package of clay.
  4. Let shape cool. Paint it using poster or acrylic craft paint and artist’s brushes. For fine details like eyes and nose, use finer brushes (small children may need help with details). If using poster paint, apply an all-purpose sealer after the paint is dry.
  5. Cut a magnetic strip to fit on the back of the shape. Check to see which side of the tape adheres more strongly to the refrigerator. Then, using glue or a hot glue gun, attach the weaker side of the magnet to the shape. Let it dry.

Read Full Post »

Wishing Kai Schrieber, who 2-years-old today, a very sweet birthday! Son of actress Naomi Watts and actor daddy Liev Schreiber will celebrate this stud’s birthday with elder brother Sasha (3-years-old). This will be Kai’s first birthday celebration in California since they moved from New York! We think he should bring a little holiday spirit to California in our Reindeer Games outfit this Christmas season. Click on the photo to view the outfit detail. 

Read Full Post »

I went over to my best friend’s house last night because she and her boyfriend had bought a beautiful Christmas tree here in New York City (actually at Whole Foods surprisingly!). She is a teacher here in New York and I asked her if she knew the meaning behind why we have a tree? A Christmas tree, or a Yule tree, is probably the most popular tradition associated with celebrating Christmas and Yuletide. She and I both grew up with a Christmas tree – we would find one with the family, decorate it with ornaments, put on lights, etc…but neither of us were sure what the actual tree represented. I thought I would look into it and give you a little background on the meaning in case you want to share with your kids, along with some really fun facts…did you know that according to the National Christmas Tree Association, Americans buy 37.1 million real Christmas trees each year?!?

Believe it or not the Christmas tree comes to us from Germany. Martin Luther is credited with being inspired by the starry heavens one night, and expressing his feelings to his family by bringing a fir tree into his home, and attaching lighted candles to its branches. Fir meant fire, and fire is an ancient symbol for spirit. The tree also pointed toward the heavens.

Evergreen trees were thought to represent the ever-burning fire of life. The color green signified the life force through the year. Eventually decorative balls represented the planets, while the star that radiates from the top reminds us of Bethlehem. The entire tree and decorations teach us that the universe is witness to the Incarnation.

Red at Christmas reminds us of the fire of the Spirit. Green affirms nature, and the ongoing life. And in the Incarnation, Spirit unites with nature.

Actually, the tree is also a reinterpretation of pagan rites, along with the use of other greens and decorations to honor in ancient times a celebration of the feast of Saturnalia – the birth of the Sun in the sky at the Winter Solstice. Along with the giving of gifts, the feast was later Christianized with the date of December 25th to announce the birth of the Son of God (Jesus) to the world.

Past celebrations of the Christmas tree began in the 16th century, and were later brought to America by German immigrants.

Fun Christmas Trivia and Fun Facts

  • The season surrounding Christmas is called Christmastide, running from sundown on December 24th to January 5 (also known as the Twelve Days of Christmas). In some places, people believe it is bad luck to keep decorations up after Christmastide.
  • Christmas actually comes from Middle and Old English words meaning “Christ’s Mass.” In Greek, the first letter of Christ is “X”, which is where the abbreviation Xmas (or X-mas) comes from.
  • According to the National Christmas Tree Association, Americans buy 37.1 million real Christmas trees each year; 25 percent of them are from the nation’s 5,000 choose-and-cut farms.
  • The first Christmas hymns we know of were sung in 4th century Rome.
  • The first national Christmas tree was lit in 1923 during Calvin Coolidge’s presidency and is maintained outside of the White House. Although national Christmas trees used to be donated from around the nation, in 1973 living trees replaced donated cut trees, responding to environmental concerns. The same tree has been used as the national Christmas tree since 1977.
  • The White House Christmas tree was first lit with solar energy in 1995, and LED lights were used for the first time in 2002
  • There are at least four nationally designated Christmas trees. These include the Christmas tree outside the White House, inside the White House (and, since 1966, donated by the National Christmas Tree Association), a tree in the West Front Lawn of the Capitol and the “Nation’s Christmas Tree,” a 270 foot giant sequoia designated by Congress as a national Christmas tree in 1926.
  • There are around 350 million Christmas trees currently growing on American farms alone.
  • One to three seedlings are planted the following spring for every one Christmas tree harvested.
  • The top Christmas tree producing states in order are Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Washington. Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec are the highest producing provinces in Canada.
  • The first “jingle” or singing commercial was played on Christmas Eve in 1926 in Minneapolis/St. Paul. The commercial was aired by General Mills for Wheaties and was called “Have You Tried Wheaties?” The group eventually became known as the Wheaties Quartet and continued singing together for years.
  • St. Nicholas lived in the south of modern-day Turkey as the bishop of Myra, a town in the region Lycia. He was known to give secret gifts, like leaving coins in shoes left outside. Nearly a thousand years after the saint’s bones had been removed from his gravesite, the government of Turkey formally requested the return of his bones from the Italian government.
  • English-speakers get the modern Santa Claus from the Dutch for St. Nicholas, Sinterklaas.

Read Full Post »


One of the perks of living the cement jungle life of New York City are the festivities of the fall and winter. One of them being the famous Macy’s Day Parade for Thanksgiving! The night before, Macy’s inflates the balloon floats right next to my boyfriend’s family’s apartment in the city and his family holds a big celebratory party for kids to come watch, enjoy and eat lots of candy and goodies!  I am very fortunate because the apartment overlooks the balloons from a very high floor of a tall building and it might be the best view in New York!  Being originally from California, this event is even more special as I have only had the opportunity to see balloon floats from the television as a child, and now in person as an adult. Families from all over the New York boroughs travel far to come and see the annual ‘blowing up of the balloons’ and it is a tradition for many families passed down from generation to generation. This past Thanksgiving I can say that I am most thankful for the friends and family I have that could share this special night – it will always be one to remember (and I highly recommend it if you are from the New York or New Jersey area). Here are some pictures from high above the floats on November 24th. Gobble, gobble!

Here are pictures the night before versus the next day at the parade!  

Here are the crazy crowds that swarm the balloons at night
(and by crazy, I mean lovely NYC families)!
 

And then see them during the day…

Buzz Light Year being blown up the night before….


Here he is the next day!

Macy’s ‘Believe’ Star balloon floats that open up the parade

Read Full Post »


The winter chill has arrived and the leaves are changing colors. I took a walk through Central Park in New York City (my hometown) this past weekend and admired all of the leaves and how beautiful nature can be in the ‘big city.’ I was inspired by a childhood activity that is fun for kids and great for parents as a piece of art for the coveted refrigerator door. Preserve the beauty of fall leaves with leaf-rubbing (leaf impressions) art on paper! Read more to find out how this easy (and inexpensive idea) is fun for a winter day. Next time you are out walking ith your kids, collect leaves of different shapes and sizes. When you are choosing leaves to rub, pick leaves with raised veins or texture to ensure the rubbings will come out crisp and clear.

Need:

  • Leaves
  • White paper
  • Crayons or soft-lead pencils

Steps:

  • Rub a variety of leaves using white tissue paper and crayons or soft-lead pencils.
  • Place the leaves under the paper and gently rub the impression on the tissue paper.
  • Cut each leaf impression out and arrange them on a white piece of paper.
  • Special step: Use a hold puncher and punch one hole in each leaf impression. Use thread or clear fishing line to tie the leaves together and string the line in a window as a decoration!
  • Discard leaves in garbage

Read Full Post »

It’s been a hectic couple of months, so our family (me, my husband, Lilah and my parents) booked a getaway to Mexico to lounge, sightsee, and spend some time together. Though we have traveled with Lilah on a plane before, she was too small to remember or really be part of the process. This was going to be her first adventure to another country!!!

Most airlines have a rule of one checked bag and one carry-on (no liquids, scissors, etc.) so we really had to plan our packing. I felt that Lilah should be able to carry all of her own bags so we got her a nifty rolling suitcase. She already had a small backpack that converts to a rolling bag so we were set. She loved that she had the same set up as all of the adults and looked adorable going through the airport.

Lilah was the only one short enough to go through the Mayan tunnel at the Coba ruins.

The security check turned into a game as to who could get through and get redressed first. Quick Tip: When flying don’t forget to make sure your child has gum, a sippy cup/bottle to suck on or is cooperative enough to try and repressurize their own ears. I remembered this only once we started the decent, so other than some temporary ear pain on 3 of the 4 flights, she passed the airtime with flying colors and was even given a “pair of wings” from the airline.

As you are probably aware, being away from home in a strange environment for a whole week can be stressful to a child. It didn’t matter how much fun she was having, when she was tired all she would say was “Can we go home and see the kitties?” It broke my heart every time. However, within a few days it changed to “Can we go back to the room?” We did our best to create a daily nap time since routines are so important for the little ones, especially when you’re traipsing through Mayan ruins or visiting unfamiliar places.

Pool time was the best since Lilah loves the water! She is comfortable in it, but cannot yet swim without a life vest. Most resorts have swim areas specifically for kids where the depth is shallow. Ours was set up like a beach where it gradually got deeper (no stairs). This enabled all of the adults to take turns playing in the water with her without her drowning us (by holding on to our necks) because six hours straight in the water is more than I can take

Lilah just couldn't get enough of the water. She wore us out while looking stylish in her Le Top Sweetheart Butterfly and Lots o' Fish swimsuits from our Spring 2010 season.

We practiced speaking the native language as much as possible all through our trip and Lilah would regularly skip along a path counting or saying colors she saw in Spanish. Having the grandparents along was a dream since my husband and I were able to get in a couple of excursions on our own. The trip was too short but it was nice to recharge our batteries in a beautiful paradise. I can’t wait to do it again and Lilah is already talking about the next trip. I guess I need to get out the calendar!

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »