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A look back at 2008 and the year ahead

In February of 2008 I launched the blog Kidzense which currently has 159 active posts. Kidzense was originally started when I found myself looking for stuff to do with my toddler on the Internet. I found myself having to pull information from many sites in trying to make a decision about whether or not a particular activity might be be a good choice for my family to do. I wanted to create a site that would be a single place for families to go and get information that would enable them to make informed decisions.

Categories have included: There have also been special series such as the Dinosaur Dig I did in Grand Prairie Canada over the summer and a series we ran the week leading up to earth day Earth Day.
In 2008 I also created my first eBook a children's story titled:Timmy the Tug and Billy Barge - A Story of Teamwork

Most notable has been the affect that blogging has had on my life. Through researching events to write about I think that I have done more with my daughter than I otherwise would have. Writing about these activities has also provided me with a greater appreciation of the time spent with my family. The other unexpected benefit of blogging has been my interaction with other bloggers and readers like yourself. I have been happily surprised by the support and encouragement from readers and the blogging community. In 2009 I hope to extend these relationships through guest articles and more reader comments and feedback.
Thanks for reading and Happy New Year

Kidzense Review of The Tale of Despereaux

Despereaux is a small mouse (small for a mouse) but in his head he is a giant. Different than the other mice he does not scurry or cower. Despereaux is a brave little mouse a hero that will lift the dark cloud that hangs over the kingdom of Dor. Despereaux is born shortly after a tragic accident causes the Queen to cease living (A rat falls in her soup) the king is grief stricken and outlaws soup and rats. The kings actions have grave repercussions and the kingdom falls into darkness. This movie is remarkable in that it will appeal to adults as well as children and speaks to them on a different level. Unlike some other animated films that seem to intentionally throw in some trendy, nostalgic or "clever" dialog aimed at adults audiences, Despereaux has many levels of complexity. On the surface it is cute and funny with adventure and a fairy tale based story line. Beneath it cute exterior is a movie that examines how one event can trigger another and that a act by one can affect the lives of many in profound ways (both positive and negative).

We went to see The tale of Despereaux with kids ages 4,10,13, and 15 this is truly a family movie.

I would not take children below 3 years of age to see Despereaux. There are a few scenes that are scary and where Despereaux is in peril.

Tip: Go to a matinee (before 4:00 PM) for a reduced ticket price

First Night 2009 in New Jersey

First Night New Years Eve is a few days away. After Christmas you may not have a hundred dollars per plate to plunk down for a meal and a glass of champagne and it may be difficult to find a baby sitter on New Years Eve. You could stay home but you don't want to fall asleep again waiting for the ball to drop in Times Square. So what is a person with kids to do on New Years Eve. How about First Night. What is First Night you might ask.
Well For close to 20 years, First Night celebrations have attracted thousands of people to parades, musical and dance performances, storytelling and magic shows. Some of the communities hold their activities on site while others use numerous venues nearby.

Ice Sculpture from Montclair First Night 2008“First Night celebrations are a great way for families and friends to bring in the New Year while enjoying a diverse selection of entertainment that includes performances for adults by local artists and children’s attractions,” said Nancy Byrne, executive director of the New Jersey Office of Travel & Tourism.
First Night seeks to foster the public's appreciation of visual and performing arts through an innovative, diverse and high quality New Year's Eve program, which provides a shared cultural experience, accessible and affordable to all. The price of admission varies in each community, ranging from $5 to $15 per person. Many offer discounts for children and for those buying in advance.
Participating First Night Cities in New Jersey are:

Holiday Contest and Give Away

Holiday Giveaway: Register below for our feed delivered to you by email and be registered to win this Holiday themed Memoir Photo Album.

Winner will be notified by email and item shipped by Kidzense.

Drawing will take place on January 1st

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Christmas in New York City

Christmas in New York City is a tradition for many families ours included.
With classic events like the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, skating in Rockefeller Center, beautiful window displays, and of course the tree. New York City offers a great day out with the family. We took the ferry into the city it was pretty cold around 20 degrees. It had snowed over the weekend so everything looked great covered in a blanket of white (at least on the Jersey side of the river). The bus from the ferry dropped us off a few blocks from Radio City.On our walk we stopped off for lunch at Applebee's.

This year we were guests of Radio City, before the show we got in to meet with the big guy himself, Santa. The Christmas Spectacular was updated quite a bit last year so if you have not been to see the it in a few years you will be pleasantly surprised.

After the show we went on a tour back stage where we were able to pet the animals from the nativity act. There we camels, sheep, and a donkey named Billy.
Z-girl even got to take a ride on an electric car on the stage. All of this made it a pretty special day.

After we left Radio City we went to see the tree. Tall and majestic it stands with it's lights glowing. People come from all around dealing with gridlock, cold weather, and crowds just to get a view a picture.

Ice skating at Rockefeller Center is an essential New York City winter experience. The rink was built in 1936, replacing the complex’s original shopping concourse. Today, more than a quarter of a million skaters enjoy the Rockefeller Center rink every year from October through April.You don’t need skates or reservations to skate at the Rockefeller Center Ice-Skating Rink. You can rent your skates, but the rink can get crowded, especially during the holiday season when tourists flock to Rockefeller Center. Your best bet is to skate in the early morning or on weekdays before 4 p.m.

Then we left Rockefeller Center got back on the bus to the ferry and back to New Jersey for some hot chocolate at Starbucks.

Holiday Coupon Codes with LeapFrog

For two days only save 15% off orders over $50.00 at Leapfrog enter Promo Code: HY8EC only good through 12/26/2008 also get free shipping. Leapfrog has some great Discounts of up to 50% on select items.
Enter promotion code for $5 off any Leapster® gamewith any purchase of $30 or more!* SU8LPSW

Bring the Polar Express to Life at the Strasburg Railroad

Strasburg Santa Train Santa’s Paradise Express – 50th anniversary
The Strasburg Station is all decked out in holiday cheer anticipating Santa’s 50th visit to Strasburg Rail Road. Santa’s Paradise Express will pull in to the station this weekend, December 19 - 21st. The holiday celebration begins on the platform of the East Strasburg Station as the sounds of the season fill the air and the platform sparkles with lights. Passengers relax as an authentic vintage steam train, warmed by a potbelly stove, travels on a 45-minute journey, past more than 1,000 acres of picturesque farmland on the way to Paradise, PA. As the train chugs down the track, Santa, carolers and musicians stroll from car-to-car spreading the magic of the season to thousands of families who believe.

Where: Strasburg Rail Road – Strasburg, PA


  • December 19th 7 pm train
  • December 20th trains depart hourly 11am – 7pm
  • December 21st trains depart hourly 11am – 4pm
Tickets: Coach tickets are $16 for adults and $10 for children age 3-11. Tickets can be purchased at or by calling 717-687-7522.

Ten Holiday Movies that you must see this Season

Our tree is up but not decorated yet, I have barely started shopping for gifts, and I have not sent a single card out yet. I just have not been in the Christmas Spirit this year. I need a way to get a quick dose of that Christmas feeling. So what am I to do. Short of a blanket of white snow, something that always gets me in the mood of the season is a holiday movie.

When I was a kid there were certain movies that marked the holiday starting with the Wizard of Oz usually shown on Thanksgiving. Back then we did not have DVD collections of all the holiday movies. There was something about not being able to see a movie whenever you wanted to that made it more special. Coming across a movie on TV that you wanted to see was serendipitous.

I remember when I first “discovered” It's A Wonderful Life . I had never heard of this movie before. While I watching it I thought to myself everyone needs to see this. I had uncovered one of the holiday greats.

I would try not miss any of the Rankin and Bass Classics like Santa Claus is coming to Town, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and The year without a Santa Claus.

My older brother's Favorite was the Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and Mr. Magoo's rendition of a Christmas Carol while my step-dad would always hope to catch George C. Scott as Scrooge on Christmas night.

I am sure everyone has a favorite holiday movie, the one that kicks it in high gear for them; a movie that stirs up childhood memories of Christmas past.
Please share your favorite by posting it in the comments section.

Oh I almost forgot my personal Favorite is A Charlie Brown Christmas.
Happy Holidays

Holiday Savings with Leapfrog

For two days only save 30% off orders over $75.00 at Leapfrog enter Promo Code: HY8SHOP only good through Tuesday 12/9/2008 also get free shipping. Leapfrog has some great Discounts of up to 50% on select items.

Saint Nicholas Day and the Van Riper Hopper House

Built in 1786 by Uriah Van Riper for his bride Maria (Polly) Berdan, this New Jersey Dutch colonial house offers a rare walk back in time. This weekend the friendly staff will be your guide back to what Christmas or The Feast of St. Nicholas would have been like back in the late 1700's. Our tour included a very informative guided walk through complete with stories, singing and some hands on experiences. The decorations were festive and depicted how the house would have been looked back then. At the end of our tour we were served Dutch cookies and cake along with hot spiced cider. The tour is about 15-20 minutes and starts at the top of the hour after that you are able to look around more on your own. Admission is a very reasonable $4.00
I recommend stopping by if you are in the area.

Saint Nicholas Day:
Many countries in Europe celebrate the Feast of Sinterklaas, or St. Nicholas, on the eve of December 6. After dinner, families hunt for their presents, following clues in funny, anonymous poems. They also eat candies and cookies, especially spicy crispy ginger-cookie figures formed in a traditional wooden mold. The legend of St. Nicholas is, like the lives of many saints, shrouded in mystery. We know that he was the bishop of Myra in Lycia, part of Asia Minor, during the fourth century. He is credited with saving three sisters from lives of ill repute by throwing bags of gold into their house (some say down the chimney, others say through the window) to provide for their dowries.

After the Reformation, St. Nicholas was largely forgotten in Protestant Europe, although his memory was kept alive in Holland as Sinterklaas. There St. Nicholas is said to arrive on horseback on his feast day, dressed in a bishop’s red robe and mitre and accompanied by Black Peter, variously described as a freed slave or a Moor, to help him distribute presents to good children or lumps of coal, potatoes, or switches to bad ones.
The Dutch took the tradition to New Amsterdam (New York City)
In many places in the United States and abroad, children still hang their stockings by the chimney or place their shoes by the window for St. Nicholas to fill them with presents and sweets on the eve of his feast day. He is considered the patron saint of children.

Kmart Family and Friends Event

As a Reader of Kidzense, we invite you and your family and friends to this event.

The next Kmart Family and Friends Event will be held in stores and on on this Sunday, December 7th*. If they’re looking for the best selection and deals for the holidays like Disney, Martha Stewart Everyday, Jaclyn Smith, Craftsman and more!

You will save…
• 20% on apparel at stores and
• 10% on other merchandise at stores and
• 20% on Kenmore major home appliances, sold in select Kmart stores
• 15% off any parts order at, 1-800-4MY-HOME or at any of our parts and repair centers. Use reference code 80067 to get the discount. Excludes all parts sold in Kmart or Sears retail stores.

Plus, Sears Card holders may utilize the No Payments, No Interest until June 2009 on total purchases over $199!

Here is the link ( for you to use and email to your friends and family to give them holiday savings at Kmart.

It’s Easy – just bring in the coupon!

Bergen County
*NOTE: Stores located in Utah, Idaho, Guam, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands and Closter, Elmwood Park, Paramus and Westwood, NJ stores, will hold the event on Saturday, December 6th, 2008.

Holiday Planner

I remember being around eight and my brother and I not able to wait for Christmas Day to arrive the excitement would just grow and then Christmas Day would come and go. Well as an parent I can wait, not because I don't enjoy Christmas and the feelings it brings, but because there is so much to do and get ready. Decorations, cards (I never get them out in time), presents, parties, year end projects at work, and day-to-day craziness. Among all of this I want to make Christmas something more than anticipation and one special day for my daughter. This month provides many opportunities to create many special days and create and carry-on traditions that your children will cherish.
Below are some Holiday events that you can enjoy with your Family:

Tree Lightings:
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Location: Rockefeller Center is located in the center of the complex of buildings between 47th and 50th Streets and 5th and 7th Avenues. See Rockefeller Center Map.
The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is typically illuminated from 5:30 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. daily, except on Christmas and New Year's Eve. On Christmas, the tree is illuminated for 24 hours and on New Year's Eve the lights are turned off at 9:00 p.m.

East Rutherford Recreation presents the 2008 Holiday Celebration on Friday, December 5th at 7:00pm at Borough Hall Park. (rain date December 6th)
Festivities will include hot chocolate, music, hot pretzels, candy canes, lighting of the Borough tree and a visit from Santa!

Midland Park Annual Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration at Veterans' Memorial Plaza
Friday December 5th, 6:30pm-8:30PM
Raindate is December 8TH, 6:30-8:30PM Raindate announcement hotline: (201-652-2747)
Montclair Tree Lighting
Montclair's tree gets lit on Friday, Dec. 5th, 6 p.m. at Church Street.
Santa will be on hand, too, to usher in the season and pose for pictures .

Tice's Corner Tree Lighting & Santa Visit Thursday, Dec 4 6:00p Woodcliff Lake, NJ
Join us for Santa's arrival by fire truck, tree lighting, and caroling by the Immaculate Heart Academy choir. Enjoy the complimentary hot cocoa and refreshments while we spread the holiday cheer. Activities are held in the courtyard by Talbots.
Price: FREE Phone: (973) 495-7514
Age Suitability: Kids and up

Meet Santa:
Santa will return to East Rutherford on December 21st for one last visit before the big day! Be sure to look for Santa as he makes his way through Borough streets along with his friends from the East Rutherford Fire Department.

Midland Park Firehouse Breakfast with Santa
Saturday December 13TH 8am – 11am
At the Firehouse on Witte Drive
Pancakes, Sausage, Coffee & Juice
Tickets available at the door: Adults $4.00, Children under 12 $2.00, Children under 2 Free

Holiday Shows:
Christmas Carol Sun., Dec. 21 - 4:00 PM and 7:00 PM
A powerful story of redemption, Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” has enchanted audiences the world over with its simple message of selfless giving. Ebenezer Scrooge, survives a merciless battery of revelations through visits by the ghosts of his own Christmas: Past, Present and Future. Performed by TheatreworksUSA.

Car Seat Safety Check Today

Local police officers certified as Child Passenger Safety Technicians will show you how to properly install and use your child car seat.

A Chilton Memorial Hospital Registered Nurse will be available to answer questions on child Safety issues.

Free give-aways and educational literature.
To register, please call Janet at (973) 831-5475

3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
1515 Route 23 South, Wayne
Event will be held indoors.
Sponsored by Chilton Memorial Hospital,
State Farm Insurance and Paul Miller BMW.

How to stop the glut of junk mail

Each year, the junk mail industry spends more than $50 billion on the production and distribution of more than 40 billion pieces of junk mail. In the process, more than 100 million trees are destroyed, with most mailed advertising material ending up in incinerators, garbage dumps and recycling centers. Want to do something about it? Here are ten easy steps from that you can follow to put the kibosh on unwanted junk mail and lighten the load on your mailbox.

World AIDS Day - Talking with your Kids about AIDS

When I was a kid AIDS was prominent in the news. First there was a period of fear, misconceptions, and bad information about the disease. Then Magic Johnson came public stating that he had the HIV virus. That changed everything suddenly the disease was not something that was relegated to homosexuals and those who had bad blood transfusions. Anyone could get AIDS.

Then the mention of AIDS in media became less frequent which created a false sense that the disease had become less prevalent. This is not true - The number of people living with HIV has risen from around 8 million in 1990 to 33 million today, and is still growing.

At the end of 2006, the CDC estimates that 448,871 people were living with AIDS in America. An estimated 3,775 children aged under 13 were living with AIDS at the end of 2006. The vast majority of these children acquired HIV from their mothers during pregnancy, labour, delivery or breastfeeding.

Children newly infected with HIV in 2007 was .37 million and .27 million children died from AIDS in 2007

It is important that you talk with your children about AIDS. Here are some guidelines from talking with your kids:

When should I talk to my Kids about AIDS?: By the time they reach third grade, research shows that as many as 93 percent of children have already heard about the illness. Yet, while kids are hearing about HIV/AIDS early on, what they are learning is often inaccurate and frightening.
You can set the record straight -- if you know the facts yourself. HIV is transmitted from person to person through contact with blood, semen, vaginal fluid, or breast milk. HIV can be prevented by using latex condoms during sex, not sharing "drug needles," and avoiding contact with another person's bodily fluids. So stay informed. Sharing this information with your youngster can keep them safe and calm their fears. Finally, talking with your child about AIDS lays the groundwork for any future conversations about AIDS-preventative behavior.

Initiate discussion
Use a "talk opportunity" to introduce the subject of AIDS to your child. For example, try tying a discussion into something your child sees or hears, such as a commercial about AIDS. After you and your child watch the ad, say something like, "Have you heard about AIDS before? Well, what do you think AIDS is?" This way, you can figure out what she already understands and work from there.

Present the facts
Offer honest, accurate information that's appropriate to a child's age and development. To an 8-year-old you might say, "AIDS is a disease that makes people very sick. It's caused by a virus, called HIV, which is a tiny germ." An older child can absorb more detailed information: "Your body is made up of billions of cells. Some of these cells, called T-cells, help your body stay healthy by fighting off disease. But if you get a virus called HIV, that virus kills the T- cells. Over time, the body can't fight disease any more and that person has AIDS." Pre-teens should also understand how condoms could help protect people from getting AIDS and that the disease can be transmitted between persons who share drug needles. (If you have already explained sexual intercourse to your children, you might add, "During sexual intercourse, the semen from the man's body goes into the woman's body. That semen can carry HIV." If you have not yet talked about sex, don't bring it up during initial discussions about AIDS. It's not a good idea for your child's first information about sex to be associated with such a serious disease.)

Set them straight
Children's misconceptions about AIDS can be pretty scary, so it's important to correct them as soon as possible. Suppose your 8-year-old comes home from school one day, tearful because she fell down on the playground, scraped her knee and started bleeding -- and the other kids told her she would get AIDS. As a parent, you might explain, "No, you don't have AIDS. You're fine. You can't get AIDS from scraping your knee. The way you can get AIDS is when the fluids from your body mix with those of someone who has AIDS. Do you understand?" After such a discussion, it's also wise to check back with your child and see what she remembers. Understanding AIDS, particularly for young children, takes more than a single conversation.

Foster self-esteem
Praising our children frequently, setting realistic goals and keeping up with their interests are an effective way to build self-esteem. And that's important, because when kids feel good about themselves, they are much more likely to withstand peer pressure to have sex before they are ready, or to not do drugs. In short, they are less likely to engage in behavior that could put them at risk for AIDS.

Put Your Child's Safety First
Some adults mistakenly believe that AIDS is only a disease of homosexuals. Whatever your beliefs, try not to let your opinions or feelings prevent you from giving your child the facts about AIDS and its transmission -- it's information that's essential to their health and safety.

Be prepared to discuss death
When talking with your kids about AIDS, questions about death may come up. So get ready to answer them by reading books (see Readings for Children and Parents) available at libraries or bookstores. In the meantime, here are three helpful tips:
Explain death in simple terms. Explain that when someone dies, they don't breathe, or eat, or feel hungry or cold, and you won't see them again. Although very young children won't be able to understand such finality, that's okay. Just be patient and repeat the message whenever appropriate.
Never explain death in terms of sleep. It may make your child worry that if he falls asleep, he'll never wake up.
Offer reassurance. If appropriate, tell your child that you are not going to die from AIDS and that he won't either. Stress that while AIDS is serious, it is preventable.

Questions & Answers
What is AIDS?
AIDS is a very serious disease that is caused by a tiny germ called a virus. When you are healthy, your body can fight off diseases, like Superman fighting the bad guys. Even if you do get sick, your body can fight the germs and make you well again. But when you have AIDS, your body cannot protect you. That's why people with AIDS get very sick.

How do you get AIDS?
You can get AIDS when the fluids from your body mix with those of someone who has AIDS. You can't catch it like the flu and you can't get it just by touching or being near someone with AIDS, so you and I don_t have to worry about getting it. (NOTE: If you have already talked with your child about sex, you should also add, "You can also get AIDS by having unprotected sexual intercourse with someone who has the HIV virus.")

Can kids get AIDS?

Very few children get AIDS. But if they were born to a mommy who had AIDS, they could get AIDS when they were born. A long time ago, some kids who had hemophilia -- a disease that means their blood doesn't have enough good cells, so they need to get blood from other people -- got AIDS when they got blood. But that doesn't happen anymore. AIDS is mostly a disease of grownups. (NOTE: If your child already knows about the link between sex and AIDS, and IV drug use and AIDS, you might also add, "Sometimes teenagers who have unprotected sex or who share drug needles get AIDS." But you should still emphasize that "AIDS is mostly a disease of grown-ups.")

How can you tell from looking at someone if they have AIDS?
You can't. Anyone, regardless of what they look like, can have AIDS. People find out if they have AIDS after being tested by a doctor. Therefore, the only way to know if someone has AIDS is to ask him if he has been tested and if the test results were positive for HIV/AIDS.

Do all gay people get AIDS?

No. Homosexuals get AIDS the same way that heterosexuals do. And they can protect themselves the same way, too.

Herman Melville said:
"We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men."
Bloggers writing today World AIDS Day have the opportunity to collectively connect with their readers and raise the awareness of the public. Through this medium we can bring back into focus an important issue that the mainstream media has let fade into the background.

Children Affected by AIDS

Temper Tantrums & how to avoid them

Childs temper tantrum The day starts out beautiful! The sun is shining, the birds are singing and then the clouds roll in. The wind starts to blow and the thunder starts to roar. All of this a metaphor for the dreaded tantrum. As a parent we have all had to deal with them from time to time. On a good day (When you are at your best) this may be no more than a passing storm. On a day when your off your game however, you may get pulled into the maelstrom and make some common mistakes, or worse yet you might start to sound like your parents.

Below are some common pitfalls to avoid and tips you can use to move past the storm and back to the singing birds:

  1. You raise your voice or yell when your child throws a tantrum - Do not answer out-of-control behavior with out-of-control behavior. Lead with kindness and be a compassionate observer. Determine if your child is having a tantrum because they are trying to get something or if it is out of frustration. If your child is having a tantrum because they want ice cream before dinner - ignore the tantrum (you need ensure that you do not react with any negative verbal or with physical cues). If it is out of frustration comfort them with a hug and reassurance. If contact makes them more upset stay close but give them the space they need.

  2. You give in to your child's tantrum - Never reward a tantrum it just reinforces negative behavior.

  3. You Punish your child for having a tantrum -If your child is having a tantrum they are out-of-control. The tantrum itself is probably frightening and punishing enough to your child without having you add further punishment to it.
    Never punish a tantrum! A tantrum should have no consequences, positive or negative. It happens and then it's over.

  4. You take your child grocery shopping at 2:00 am when they usually have a nap - Know your child's limits and triggers if they will be more likely to react with a tantrum when they are tired or hungry. Plan outings to the store or other errands when your child is fed, rested, and healthy.
Tantrums can put a strain on an otherwise good time. It is best to avoid them hopefully by avoiding some of these pitfalls your child will have less frequent tantrums.
Temper tantrums, however fun they may be to throw, rarely solve whatever problem is causing them. ~Lemony Snicket

Tips for Performing an Online Background Check

In a previous article I wrote about performing a background check. This task can be difficult to perform on your own and since you are limited to publicly available information the data can be prone to inaccuracies. You could enlist a background checking firm. These firms are usually run by private investigators and can obtain relevant information more quickly and easily than an individual. A thorough background check may cost $125 to $250.

A more convenient and cost-effective way to perform a background check is to visit one of the many websites available online. These sites typically charge anywhere from $10 to $120 for a comprehensive background check.

Here are some for choosing a background check website:

  • Be Wise: Don't base your choice solely on price. The most inexpensive searches are based on databases that are often out of date and are purchased by the provider in bulk. Many database checks claim to be national in scope, when in fact they only cover certain jurisdictions and are arbitrary in results. Many courts may not submit their information to the database provider, and records may be incomplete.
  • Be Fresh: Look for a website that uses "freshly-retrieved" rather than "stored" data. Vendors who use databases of criminal records and other data must purchase this information periodically from the various jurisdictions, and the cost to them is increasing. As a result, stored data is usually anywhere from 3 to 24 months old. A babysitter could have been convicted of a serious crime during this time gap, and this information wouldn't turn up in the search.
    Be Fair: The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is the federal regulation that requires authorization in writing for any pre-employment check and the use of freshly retrieved data, as mentioned above. Most reputable background search firms and websites will provide you with the necessary releases and forms to assist you with this process. You should not rely on any website that fails to require a signed release from your prospective babysitter. Written consent for pre-employment background checks is required by federal law.
Here are some sites that provide quality background searches:
™ powered by Background Network, Inc., is a nationwide leader in background checks. Crime check retrieves data from over 10,000 local courts and 3,500 county courts in all 50 states. Background screening services include comprehensive
Criminal Checks: misdemeanors, felonies, and federal offenses;
Data Checks: social security traces, motor vehicle reports, and pre-employment credit checks Reference Checks: employment verification, educational verification, and personal/professional reference checks.

The Integrity Center: They have a Nanny segment which has everything you need to perform a search for you prospective Nanny or babysitter. is powered and supported by INTELLICHOICE, INC., a leader in providing background verification services to employers since 1994.

Nanny Background Check: An Arizona based risk consultancy/pre-employment screening agency. Since inception in 2001, has become the nation's leading source for screening in-home childcare applicants. Nanny background check provides five levels of service for their background checks.

Christmas in Wayne

You probably don't want to hear this, but Christmas is just around the corner. There has even been some snow flurries this week with more snow in the forecast. I find it hard to get into the spirit of the holidays until there has been some snow on the ground. If you live in the Wayne NJ area there plenty of events to kick of the holiday season and get you in the spirit. All of these events are free or reasonably priced so you won't need to break the bank to do them. (For your holiday shopping however, you are on your own)

Santa Parade
The Preakness Shopping Center is having a Santa Parade at 10 am on Saturday the 22nd.
The parade will have a marching band, clowns, antique cars, and the man himself, Santa Claus. Afterwards kids can get a photo with Santa and enjoy a free movie (Movie limited to the 1st 100 kids).

Santa Train During the approximately 90 minute ride the Santa Claus will Ho Ho Ho his way through the train and visit each child giving them a special gift from his bag. In addition each child can have their picture taken with Santa Claus so they can always remember their ride, so bring your cameras. On board will be Mrs. Claus and several other surprise cartoon characters sure to entertain the kids and make for a great day out for all on board.
Ticket ordering: Tickets for these trains usually sell out quickly. The trains will run rain, snow, sleet or shine. For your convenience tickets can be purchased on line with a major credit card at ticketturtle

Ticket prices are $13.00 for adults and $9.00 for children under 12 with a 50 cents per ticket discount if purchased online.

The train leaves from Wayne on the 6th and Glenrock on the 7th

Wayne - 'Mountain View' station on the Montclair-Boonton Line - December 6th
11 Erie Avenue , Wayne, New Jersey 07470
Departure times: 10 AM, 12 Noon and 2 PM - Parking is FREE!

Glen Rock - 'Boro Hall' station on the Bergen County Line - December 7th
Harding Plaza, Rock Road, Glen Rock, New Jersey
Departure times: 10:20 AM, 12:20 PM and 2:20 PM - Parking is FREE!

Wayne Tree Lighting Ceremony:
Thursday, December 4th
Rain/snow date: Friday, Dec. 5th
At the Wayne Township Municipal Building

The Van Riper Hopper House Museum (1786)
at 533 Berdan Ave., Wayne
December 5, 6 and 7, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M.
Each 15-minute presentation will start on the hour, ending with a 2:00 P.M. show. Walk-through tours December
Your visit will fill your senses with the sights, smells and sounds of a local holiday circa late 1700s to mid-1800s. Just before your visit, the Pines Lake Garden Club will “deck the halls” with natural decorations of the time period.
This year a first-person interpreter will portray a family ancestor, Vrouw (Mrs.) Van Riper of the late 1700s. At the fireplace, through story, song and demonstration, she will relate the traditions of a rich past. Guests will also have an opportunity to touch relics and replicas of the past. At the end of the 15-minute program, she will invite guests to taste cookies of the time period and warm apple cider.
Economy Booster: Admission Price reduced from last year to $4 Adult; $1 child

Walk-through tours just to admire the holiday period decorations will be held on:
December 10, 11 and 12 Wednesday, Thursday and Friday10:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M Admission: free-will donation.

Enjoy the Holiday Season!

Tips for Performing a Background Check on a Babysitter

Perform a Background Check Is Performing a Background Check on a Babysitter necessary or overkill?

We have a sitter who is well known in the community, and came recommended by other families in the neighborhood. We also had her watch our child while we were present a few times before leaving our daughter solely in her care. This left us feeling secure that our child was being cared for by a responsible and kind individual. In this scenario we did not feel the need to run a background check, but if you are hiring a babysitter or nanny from a service or advertisement performing a background check is recommended. This can help you weed out Mary Poppins from any old carpetbagger.

Below are some guidelines to help you perform a background check:

Get Permission
Federal law requires all potential employers to obtain written permission for background checks from candidates. You should tell a potential babysitter that you plan to do a background check and have him or her sign a statement authorizing you do so.

Perform a Criminal Background Check

Contrary to what some sites may proclaim there is no way to do a national criminal records check. Only the FBI maintains a national database, called the National Crime Information Center (NCIC).
Any search for criminal records should be carried out on a county by county basis in the counties where an individual lived, worked, and went to school, as well as the surrounding counties.

Perform a Social Security Number Trace.
This will Provide you with individuals current and past addresses for the last 7 to 10 years, as well as any other names that have been used. Based on this information you can target what jurisdictions should be checked for criminal records. A SSN trace can also be used to verify what a babysitter has told you and will make it difficult for a candidate to hide important information about possible criminal history.

Review DMV Records
Driving records can be a useful element in a comprehensive background check, especially if the babysitter will be driving your children. You do not want someone with a lead foot or history of accidents driving your children around. A DMV check can also be helpful in revealing a substance abuse problem if there are any DUI convictions on the record.

In my next Babysitter Article I will provide Tips for Choosing a Reliable Background Check Website.

Until then Feel free to Leave a comment about what steps you take to feel comfortable with who you leave your children with.

Thanks - Mike

Save on Portraits from Sears

Pictures, especially those that are professionally done make a great keepsake.
Pictures truly are the gift that keeps on giving.
That is why as a kidzense reader you are invited to take advantage of special savings this holiday season.

Start a family tradition of annual holiday portraits and SAVE when you buy one GET ONE FREE! Or get 35 portraits for only $4.99.

BOGO-for-a-day Coupon: Sears Coupon
Unlimited buy one, get one FREE
*portrait sheets *specialty products
*composites *enhancements
*wall portraits *greeting cards
*CDs *collages

35 Portraits only $4.99 Coupon:
1-8x10, 2-5x7, 16-wallets, 16-minis
choose your favorite pose!
Not valid with buy one, get one free offer.

Inspirational Challenges

The other day I was reading an article titled How to stay inspired during tough times. The article got me thinking about where I have found motivation and inspiration during the times when life has presented challenges to me. Read More at:
RideYourBike.US: Inspirational Challenges

Find a Babysitter Online

Find a BabySitter Online

If you need a babysitter or Nanny there are many online services available.

Hiring a babysitter online can be a safe and easy experience, if you know the right place to look and how to utilize the features that are available to you through this type of service.
The Babysitter and Nanny referral services have various offerings and price ranges, you can go with the Cadillac or the Kia.

Some sites perform Extensive background checks while others provide a link to perform your own through another online service such as LexisNexis. Locations that the providers service can vary as well.

Not Just Babysitters
performs criminal and DMV background checks, as well as reference follow-up. Sitters are Certified in CPR and are college educated (or pursuing Degrees) Not Just Babysitters services Manhattan and Los Angeles.
Founder and Owner, Zee Miller, will visit you at your home and assess your needs to ensure that she matches you with an appropriate candidate for you child-care needs. There is an Annual Fee for a one year membership that is in addition to the sitter costs which vary by sitter and number of children to be watched. You do not pay the babysitter directly. You pay Not Just Babysitters and they pay the sitter. There is a minimum booking of four hours for all sitter work and the sitter should be booked 48 hours in advance. Same day booking is available for an additional twenty-five Dollar fee.

babysitters4hire has a well designed, easy to navigate, and intuitive website.
Candi Wingate, President of babysitters4hire was kind enough to answer some questions and provide some more information about her company. is designed to assist families in finding a quality babysitter for their specific needs and requirements. A free preview of available babysitters is available to families through our local neighborhood mapping technology. Once you are a registered member, you will be given immediate access to nannies through text messaging, email and phone.
Families seeking a sitter post a profile to state exactly what they are looking for and so the sitters can contact them directly provided the family choose to keep their profile visible.

Babysitters4hire comes in considerably less than the other services.
There are 2 different packages available:
The Yearly Plan - $69.99 non-refundable fee gives you 12 months access to No Registration Fee.
The Monthly Plan - $26.99 non-refundable Registration Fee gives you access to for a 30 day period.
There is a $12.00 monthly fee thereafter.
You may cancel the $12 monthly fee at anytime via phone or email.
A canceled monthly membership may be reinstated at anytime for $14.99
Babysitters4hire does not provide background checks or customer reviews of sitters.
They do recommend that you perform a background check on a prospective sitter and they provide a link to perform an online background check for registered users.
Prices for background checks range from ten dollars for a basic multi state check to a hundred dollars or more for an extensive private search. Is an online referral service for Babysitters, Pet Sitters, Senior Care, Tutors, and housekeepers. offers free limited access. For twenty-five dollars a month you get Unlimited access to all providers and free background checks (Discounts are available for registering for 3 or 12 months)
They provide service in most cities and states. performs SSN, Address Verification, and Criminal Background Checks.
A search of criminal records will be conducted to see if the user has a criminal record. The records that are searched include:
  • State and county criminal record repositories
  • State sex offender registries
  • Prison, parole and release files from state Department of Corrections
  • Administrative Office of Courts, and other state agencies
  • Proprietary LexisNexis criminal record information
DMV Records are not checked. In some counties they will review court records (This is not available in NY and NJ)
One thing that I like about is that they allow members to post reviews of the sitters they have employed. provides parents and sitters with a central location to find each other quickly, safely and easily. Both parents and sitters create detailed online profiles and can search the site for matches using over 30 search criteria. Parents can also post unlimited jobs for sitters, obtain references from sitter profiles and follow their four-step screening process to hire a quality caregiver.
Both sitters and parents may request background checks, read and post reviews for each other, and use tools like their Rate Calculator to determine fair pay and their Interactive Babysitter Cheat Sheet to prepare their babysitter.

There are two billing options:
$39.99 for the first month and $9.99/month thereafter, or
$7.99/month billed in the one-time annual sum ($95.88).
Sittercity does not screen caregivers, Instead, they have created a four-step screening process to carefully guide you through the hiring process and help you make the best decision for your needs.
  1. Read the online reviews and ratings directly on a caregiver's profile.
  2. Conduct an in-person interview with your favorite caregivers.
  3. Check a caregiver's references (also listed directly on caregiver profiles).
  4. Run a background check.
To make the screening process even easier, Sittercity has comprehensive libraries with tons of articles for care seekers, which includes interview questions to ask the sitter, how to conduct reference calls and what to ask, tactics to distinguish a good sitter from a bad sitter, and more.

Word to the wise:
NEVER hire someone without following a screening procedure first.

Special Offer: Sittercity is offering 10% off memberships using code: sitter10

Related Sites:

Savings for Disney and CVS

Come experience a magical Disney fantasy on ice! Rev up for non-stop fun with four of your favorite Disney stories at Disney On Ice presents Worlds of Fantasy at the IZOD Center Nov 25-30.
Thrill to high-speed stunts as Lightning McQueen, Mater and the crew of Disney/Pixar's CARS race across the ice. Dive into The Little Mermaid's enchanting undersea kingdom and experience the 'Circle of Life' with The Lion King. Then enter into the magical world of Pixie Hollow with Tinker Bell and all her fairy friends as they make their world premiere on ice! From wheels to waves, Pride Lands to pixie dust, your family's favorite Disney moments come to life at Disney On Ice presents Worlds of Fantasy with dazzling skating, special effects and beloved characters certain to create a lifetime of memories. Special Bonus! Disney Princess
Pre-Show: Arrive up to one hour early to tour our dazzling display of gorgeous gowns. Complimentary to all ticket holders.
Use Promo Code: Star to save $10 off select Tickets

SAVE $5 when you Spend $30 at CVS now Through this Weekend 11/16/2008
5/30 Coupon

A review of Madagascar Escape 2 Africa

Review of Madagascar Escape 2 Africa

We went to see Madagascar Escape 2 Africa tonight.
The movie opens with Alex as a young lion cub. He is abducted by poachers and his Dad Zuba tries to save him but the Crate young Alex is in floats away, all the way to NYC where Alex becomes the charismatic Lion we know from the first Madagascar. The story then moves to Madagascar where the first movie ended. The crew is ready for takeoff on Air Penguin, final destination NYC. (or so they think) The plane goes down in the vast plains of Africa – where the zoo-raised crew encounter species of their own kind for the very first time. While discovering their roots, they quickly find the differences between the concrete jungle and the heart of Africa. Despite long-lost relatives, romantic rivals and scheming members of the pride, Africa seems like a great place The friends go their separate ways living with there own herds and pride, but learn that even though they are different they are a better together and have a special bond that makes them a family. Can they pull it together and save the African Plains from a drought?.
I have yet to pan a movie in my reviews and Madagascar Return 2 Africa is no exception. This movie borrows liberally from the Lion King story Line but is big on the laughs. My daughter and I laughed out loud throughout the movie.
The movie is rated PG due to mild crude humor, and with the exception of some tension in the beginning of the movie I think it is suitable for kids four and older. It has a run time of about an hour and a half.
Bottom Line: This movie is Laugh out Loud Funny.
Although it is PG it is Suitable for Toddlers and older.
The Penguins Steal most of the scenes they are in.
The soundtrack is worked into the movie well with the Penguins popping in various 8 track's containing songs from Boston, Abba, and Barry Manilow during their Hi jinx

Free Items and Coupons for this Weekend

Free Pizza and Drink at Unbelieva-Bills
Pizza and Drink

Get one slice of pizza and a medium
fountain drink for Free with the purchase of any
adventure pass.

Limit one coupon per person. Must
present coupon at time of admission

Offer valid: November 6-7, 2008
only at
SAVE $5 when you Spend $25 at CVS This Weekend
5/25 Coupon

Reduce the Risk of SIDS with a Fan

Back to Sleep SIDS

Sleeping in a room with a fan lowers a baby’s risk of sudden infant death syndrome by 72%, a new study has found.
The finding, published in The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, is the latest evidence to suggest that a baby’s sleep environment is a critical factor in the risk of SIDS, which is diagnosed when an infant’s sudden death cannot be explained by other factors.
The study was not designed to identify why fans make a difference, but researchers said they thought that by circulating air, fans lowered the risk of “rebreathing” exhaled carbon dioxide. That risk has been suggested as a reason the rate of SIDS is higher when children sleep on their stomach, in a soft bed or without a pacifier. Since 1992 the rate of SIDS deaths has dropped by more than half, to about one death per 2,000 live births from 2.4 per 1,000.
The decline is linked to a national “Back to Sleep” campaign that promotes putting babies on their back instead of their stomach, which has been shown to lower the risk of sudden death. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that parents avoid soft bedding, allow babies to use a pacifier and avoid overheating a baby’s room. Despite the gains, SIDS continues to be the leading cause of death in babies under the age of 1, and researchers are looking for more measures to lower the risk. The latest study compared 185 babies who had died of SIDS with 312 randomly selected babies and matched them by age, race, ethnic group and country of origin. “Even though we don’t know why certain babies are more susceptible, sleeping environment matters,” said a co-author of the study, Dr. De-Kun Li, a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente’s division of research in Oakland, Calif. Parents who worry that their child will be chilled by a fan should know that fans do not cool the air; they just move air around. A baby will feel a chill only if he or she is perspiring, doctors say. Parents who use fans in a child’s room should make sure to take normal safety precautions, keeping cords out of the way and making sure the fan cannot be knocked down by a toddler or pet.
Dr. Li said the use of fans should not replace other sleeping strategies for lowering SIDS, like removing soft bedding and putting babies on their back. He noted that the gains shown in the study were an average for the whole group, including for babies whose care did not meet the guidelines. Still, even if a baby had a safe sleeping environment, the risk of SIDS was lowered by about 16% for those who had a fan in the room, although the trend was not statistically significant. “If parents wanted to do more to reduce the baby’s SIDS risk,” he said, “they can add a fan.”

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa - Those Crazy Penguins are back along with all your favorites from the Original Madagascar. This time they have landed in Africa and if they are going to survive they will need to tap into their wild side.
Here is a trailer for Madagascar Escape 2 Africa it looks funny I am planning on seeing it Friday and should have a review this weekend.

The Best way to Find a Babysitter

Find a Babysitter or Nanny

Finding the right babysitter or Nanny for your Child can be a daunting experience, After all you are entrusting the care and well being of your child with someone else (you need to get it right).
If relatives such as grandparents, aunts, and uncles are available, willing, and competent then they are one of your best options.

Trusted friends, especially those with children of their own that are at a similar age as your child can also be a good option. You can swap sitting time and your child can have a play date. Even with Family and friends you will want to be sure that they are caring for your child as you would. Clear communication is key in letting them know up front how you do things and what your expectations are.

One method that we used to assist in the vetting process was to have our prospective babysitter watch our daughter with us present.
This enabled the babysitter to develop an understanding of our expectations, and a feel for our parenting style while providing our daughter with the time to be become comfortable with someone new. It enabled us to conduct a more extensive and relevant interview.
This process would be carried out over five 1-2 hour sessions in which we would pay the babysitter. The sessions would vary with earlier sessions being in home with both of us present. Other sessions were outside the home at various locations such as the playground, library, and the local strip mall. (These subsequent sessions were conducted with one parent present.)
During these engagements we would have the babysitter be responsible for an increasing amount of the child care until we were sure that the babysitter was the correct choice.
We have been fortunate with our babysitters. Two of them have held long terms positions with us. They have become a part of our family. Our daughter is happy and even excited to see them is at ease whenever she is left with either one.

Over the next few weeks I am will be running a series of articles on: Online Babysitter Services that assist families with finding Babysitters and Nannies. Tips for Conducting Online Background checks, Tips for interviewing a babysitter, Checklist and rules.

To receive these and other great articles as soon as they are published please subscribe to our Blog

Thank You
Mike at KidZense

Related Posts:

Election Day Voter Stimulus Packages

Starbucks:On Tuesday November 4th Go into any Participating Starbucks Let them Know that you voted and they will give you a free 12 oz Coffee. Limit 1 per Customer

Ben and Jerry's : Come to participating scoop shops on November 4th from 5-8pm, and you'll get a free scoop of ice cream.

Krispy Kreme Donuts: Krispy Kreme will celebrate National Election Day by offering all retail customers an "I Voted" Sticker and a Doughnut with Red, White, and Blue Sprinkles.

Blogging Idol 2

Blogging Idol 2 will take place between November 1st and November 30th. During that period 104 bloggers will compete to see who can gain RSS subscribers more efficiently. You can track our standing in the contest via the Live scoreboard that displays contestants with their initial and current RSS subscriber count, as well as their net gain of subscribers. There is almost $5,000 in prizes.
If you subscribe to my blog through November you will be help me get one step closer towards My Dream becoming a Blogging Idol (Just kidding about the Idol part... sort of)
And I will provide you with articles with Activities to do with your Kids, Coupons, Tips on Education, finding a Babysitter and more. It's a win win Proposition!

Thanks in Advance,

Mike at Kidzense

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Kidzense-Blog for parents and kids

Weekend Planner Oct 31-Nov 2

Obviously this Friday will be spent trick-or-treating for Tomorrow I recommend the Pumpkin Buckwheat Pancake recipe that I posted earlier this week then if your inclined you may want to go to the Home Depot - Kids Clinics This months project is a Leaf Press. The workshops teach children do-it-yourself skills and tool safety, while at the same time helping to instill a sense of accomplishment. Additionally, this fun time allows for quality one-on-one time between adults and children.In addition to the newly constructed project kit, each child receives a kid-sized orange apron, similar to The Home Depot associates' aprons, and an achievement pin.
After Making your Leaf press you could go on a hike and pick some leaves for your press and walk off some of that candy. Here are some Local Nature Centers
Flat Rock Brook Nature Center - Flat Rock Brook Nature Center is a 150-acre preserve and education center situated on the western slope of the Palisades in Englewood, New Jersey. The Center was established in 1973 by citizens who were deeply committed to land conservation and environmental education.
Family Hike Sunday, November 2, 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. For families. Have you ever wished you had a naturalist guide along on a family hike to help you point out the sights? Here’s your chance! Join Miss Jill and her family for a fun and informative nature walk and learn about what’s going on in the natural habitats of Flat Rock Brook.Registration by mail is required. Per person cost: $5 members, $8 non-members.

For a easy to moderate hike check out the Tenafly Nature Center.
313 Hudson Ave., Tenafly NJ

A Dolphin Up A Tree
Sat., Nov. 1 - 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM $17
Special Concerts for younger Kids in bergenPAC’s Drapkin Family Cabaret. Gather on the floor around the stage in this intimate setting. Including artists from Nickelodeon’s “Noggin” channel and many more.

Saddle River Valley Cultural Center
305 West Saddle River Road
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
November 1st at 2:00pm
Madeline and the Bad Hat, by ArtsPower
* this show will be held at the Cavallini School one mile north of SRVCC

Newark Museum - November Schedule

Art Activity: Be an Impressionist Painter!Saturdays & Sundays, 1–4 pm (ongoing)Make a painting that captures the light and color you see around you.

Science Activities:
Saturdays & Sundays, 1–4 pm (ongoing)Investigate the science in our every day lives.
Insecta Fantasia
Join our Science Explorers to learn about fascinating insects and partake in creepy bug activities.
Optics and Impressionism
Understand how your brain perceive light, and how does light travel to your brain.
Fall Family Tours
Saturdays & Sundays, 1 & 3 pm
Fire Escapes—Danger & Survival
At the Hazard House, kids and their families discover home fire hazards and explore ways to prevent them and escape from them. Guided by a Museum Educator, kids can climb a real fire truck, try on equipment and bunker gear, learn about real-life escape stories, play the Rookie-Firefighter game and more.Saturdays & Sundays, 2 & 4 pm
begins October 11
Once Upon a Dime: The World of Money Young people are invited to discover the fascinating story of money, which has existed for thousands of years across the world. Peek into a large bank vault filled with different kinds of money, follow money's evolution through interactive exhibits, and determine how to spend, save and invest your own money. Then become an inspector in our Crime Lab and identify the counterfeit bills!
Reading Program: Story time in the Galleries
Saturday, November 8, noon–1 pm
Stories come alive as special guest readers lead you and your family on adventures all over the world. Especially for kids and the young at heart.
For further details, call 973–596–6550.
Meet artist, Lorraine Neimela, who will read Linnea in Monet’s Garden by Christina Bjork and illustrated by Lena Anderson (translated by Joan Sandin). The artist will show how she captures light in her paintings.
Enrichment: The Art & Science of Keeping Zoo Animals Happy
Sunday, November 9, 3–3:30
Learn how zookeepers create fun and engaging activities to mentally stimulate our Mini Zoo animals. Zookeeper's Corner
Sunday, November 16, 3–4 pm
Discover fascinating facts about the rare and unusual animals in our Mini Zoo by taking a gallery tour with one of our expert zookeepers.

Lakota Wolf Preserve
Enjoy a scenic walk to the Lakota Wolf Preserve observing the many forms of local wildlife along the way. Upon arrival at the Preserve you will be invited to the observation area, in the center of four packs of wolves. During our informal talks with the people who raised and care for the wolves you will learn about the social structure of wolf packs, their eating habits, their interaction with man and many other interesting facts. We will try to educate you on the true behavior of the wolf and will be glad to answer any questions you may have. While in the observation area you will be able to watch the wolves play, interact with each other and maybe even hear them howl.

Safety Tips for Trick-or-Treaters

Trick or Treat

As a young child of around 5-6 I would go Trick-or-treating with my brother, (who was 3 years older) a warning not to eat any unwrapped candy, and told not to go in any ones house.
In the fall of 1982 seven people died due to Cyanide poisoning. This year was going to be my last Halloween to Trick-or-Treat since I was getting "too old". There were many warnings in the media that copycats may tamper or poison candy, so my friends and I decided to pass on the Trick-or-Treating. While the tampering incidents changed the way over the counter drugs were produced and packaged it also changed the way parents sent their kids off to trick-or-treat. Suddenly you saw parents walking (or driving) their kids around the neighborhood. Malls started to have trick-or-treat events, Museums, and Zoos have also started to have Trick-or-Treat events as well. Things seem safer now but I don't know if they are better. Halloween used to belong to the kids now it has become something else (Please leave the SUV at home and walk off the Milky Way you are going to eat when you get home). As kids we used to cover most of the town I lived in. When we were finally done trick-or-treating my pillowcase sack was filled to capacity. My candy would sometimes last past Christmas. But enough of me waxing sentimental the world is a changed place and we shouldn't put our heads in the sand and pretend it is something else. So here are some trick or treat tips for parents to ensure that your child is safe and has fun.

Feed your kids a healthy meal prior to going trick or treat.
Your children will be happier, and it will help reduce the temptation of kids wanting to eat candy along the way.

Children should be accompanied by a parent.
An Adult or Older Teen Chaperon is best but, Tweens or young teens who still trick or treat may have friends that are trick-or-treating by themselves and want to join them. If they trick or treat without an adult, set firm rules and require a child to carry a cell phone that can be used in the event of an emergency.
Older kids should know where they can go, what etiquette they must follow, safety rules, carry a flashlight or a lit device, and have a deadline for returning home.

Purchased costumes should be made of flame-retardant material. Provide adequate visibility, and be appropriate for the weather.
Comfort and safety should come before the appearance of the costume.
Make sure that there are no part of the costume that the child can trip on.
The princess high heels are probably better saved for an at home or in school party.

Know your Child's route and the places they will be trick or treating if you are not going to be present.
When Trick-or-Treating with smaller children make sure they go to the bathroom before leaving the house. And, be considerate of your child's bathroom needs by choosing a costume that is easy to get on and off in time to avoid last-minute bathroom trips, if at all possible.

Street Smarts:

The scariest thing on Halloween is traffic. According to the Centers for Disease Control, cars killed 89 child pedestrians on Halloween evening from 1975 to 1996. That's four deaths per day, which is four times higher than the average rate.
•Children should trick-or-treat only in well-lighted neighborhoods with sidewalks.
•Be sure your children can remember to cross streets at corners and to look both ways before they go.
•Make sure trick-or-treaters carry a flashlight after dark.
•Attach reflective tape to costumes and candy bags.
•Bracelets and necklaces that glow in the dark can serve as alternatives to reflective tape and also make your child more visible to a passing motorist

Inspect your Goodies:
Never allow children to eat candy before it is inspected. Any opened candy should be thrown away, and unless you personally know and trust the families who make homemade treats, they should be discarded as well. Immediately toss any items that are suspect in any way.

Set limits for how much candy your child is allowed to eat in one sitting. Portion out the candy and don't allow them to eat close to mealtime.
Happy Trick-or-Treating: and feel free to add any tips you may have

Throwing a Kids Halloween Party

We had a Halloween party this year a small but fun affair with one of Z-girls Classmates and some family. To make the food look festive I used food color and decorating gels. and found a super easy recipe for Cream Cheese Frosting (8 oz. of Cream Cheese, 1 Cup of Powdered Sugar and 1 tsp of Vanilla Extract, food color optional) for frosting our cupcakes.

The Goody bags contained flashlights, kazoos, coloring books, stickers and Tattoos and of course some candy (Pez and Lollipops). One Idea I had was to hide the Goody bags (kind of like an Easter egg hunt) but we also hid some "scary" stuff. Spiders, bats, and spooky pics. (Unfortunately we just handed out the bags)
The kids were dressed in their costumes. We had some princesses and Wonder Woman I was dressed a Shaggy from Scooby Doo.
For activities we had Halloween Songs which the kids were dancing to (pretty impressive in there princess high heels.) We decorated pumpkins with stickers, watched Scooby Doo movies
As the party was winding down we had story time and read Ten Timid Ghosts and The Witch Who Was Afraid of Witches.

In the end I think the party was a success since later that night my daughter thanked me for the party and told me she had a lot of fun.

Deviled eggs Decorated with Olives,
Dill, Pimentos, and Bell Pepper
PB & J sandwiches cut to look like pumpkins and Coffins
then decorated with Cake decorating Gel and Deco Pics.
Crescent rolls with melted shredded Cheese
and decorated with assorted Olives.
Decorating Pumpkins with Stickers