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Review of the Newark Museum

The Newark Museum is a must-do day trip. The museum is reminiscent of The American Museum of Natural History (Without the Dinosaur Bones) but with a decisively interactive bent. Many of the exhibits are hands on and there are daily crafts (we did a clay sculpting activity which we got to take home)
There is a mini zoo with Fish, a Mongoose, Lizards, an owl, 2 playful marmosets, and a bunch of creepy crawlies. We spent a good amount of our time at the Dynamic Earth Exhibits which has a Cave with lots of stuff to explore. There are some stuffed animal exhibits and a live animal demonstration with a turtle, millipede, and tarantula.

The Museum Cafe was a big open space with Hot Food Sandwiches and Snacks at a somewhat reasonable price. (Sanwhich was $5 Hot Lunch was between $6-7 depending on your selection)
Admission was $9 for adults and $6 for Kids under 12 The Planetarium which we did not get to visit (recommended age is 4 and above most programs have an older suggested age) is an additional $3
Parking which is right next to the museum was $5. The museum is so close and easy to get to a gem in New Jersey. We will be back for Dinosaur Day on May 4th.

Upcoming Childrens Shows at the YM-YWHA of North Jersey

973-595-0100 x237 FAX: 973-995-0061
Onstage Series
Ticket Request Form Children’s Theatre at the Y provides stimulating educational and entertainment experiences for diverse audiences of all ages and ethnic backgrounds. Our ONSTAGE SERIES brings artists from the worlds of professional theater, classical music, jazz and dance to perform in our beautiful 440 seat venue.
Again this season, our ONSTAGE SERIES will be geared towards children and families, with a special emphasis on children with special needs.:

Max and Ruby presented by Theatreworks USA
Sunday, March 2, 2008
Show time: 11:00am
Big sisters have big responsibilities, especially when the little brother is a big trouble-maker! Join in the fun as TheatreworksUSA presents a lovable new musical full of fun and sibling revelry: Max and Ruby!
Ruby, a seven-year-old rabbit, loves her Grandma very much and wants to do something special for her. She gets the brilliant idea to put on a show, with music and costumes and a castle and everything! She'll need some help, though, so she tries to enlist her little brother Max. Ruby wants to put on a play about a princess, but Max is already playing a cowboy. Ruby wants to work quietly, but Max is enjoying his noisy toys. Ruby wants to look for costumes, but Max is too busy looking for frogs!
Max is no help at all, so Ruby recruits her Bunny Scout friends for assistance. But can the help her finish Grandma's play in time? Find out in this delightful musical based on the top-rated Nickelodeon television show inspired by Rosemary Wells' bunny siblings, Max and Ruby!
Join us here at the Y on Sunday, March 2 at 11:00 am to see this amazing show. This is part of our Children’s Theatre Series and is sponsored in part by the Passaic County Cultural and Heritage Council of Passaic Community College. This show is dedicated to children with Autism/Aspergers. Sponsored in part by the Passaic County Cultural and Heritage Council at Passaic Community College

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie & Other Story Books presented by Theatreworks USA
March 16, 2008Showtime: 11:00am
The YM-YWHA of North Jersey and TheatreworksUSA present “If You Give Mouse a Cookie and other Story Books,” a sparkling musical revue based on popular children's books including: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (by Laura Joffe Numeroff) When a boy shares his snack with a hungry, demanding mouse, he learns a hilarious lesson about cause-and-effect.
Amazing Grace (by Mary Hoffman) Follow young Grace as she attempts to break stereotypes in an effort to play the title character in her school's production of Peter Pan.
Borreguita and the Coyote (by Verna Aardema) The classic Mexican tale of a little lamb, or borreguita, who uses her wits to escape a hungry coyote.
Imogene's Antlers (by David Small) Young Imogene is delighted to wake up with "cool" antlers, but soon discovers that her parents and school principals do not share her enthusiasm.
Martha Speaks (by Susan Meddaugh) The adventurous tale of a family dog who literally becomes outspoken after dining on alphabet soup.
Master Man (by Aaron Shepard) A man whose muscles are as big as his ego earns his comeuppance when he claims to be the world's strongest man in this Nigerian tall tale.
Math Curse (by Jon Scieszka) This story playfully addresses the phobia some kids have when tackling seemingly impossible math problems.
Owen (by Kevin Henkes) Owen just can't bear to part with his beloved blanket, Fuzzy - a problem, since he is about to start kindergarten. Owen's understanding mother provides a clever solution.
Join us at the YM-YWHA of North Jersey on March 16 at 11:00 am for this exciting show! Tickets are $6 for children and $8 for adults for Y members and $8 for children and $10 for adults for non Y-members. Senior citizens and children under 2 years old are free admission. Group sales are also available. For more information and to purchase tickets, please contact the registration office at 973-595-0100 x237.
This show is dedicated to children who have displaced from their homes due to domestic situations.
Sponsored in part by the Passaic County Cultural and Heritage Council at Passaic Community College

Snow Day

There is something magic about snow that brings out the kid in most of us. Sure as adults we have to drive in it and shovel it, but we can also play in it (yet another thing our kids can remind us of)
There is also a renewal that snow brings covering everything in a blanket of white, the familiar becomes transformed. One of my favorite experiences is walking at night while it is snowing it is so quiet and peaceful the snow absorbs the sounds around you. The only thing you can hear is the crunching of your footsteps in the snow. The light from the streetlamps is reflected off the snow creating a twilight sort of lighting.
The creative possibilities of snow are many among them snow angels, snow balls, snow forts, and snow men. One of our favorite activities is sledding and by the number of people at our local spot it is a favorite of many families. We did a couple of runs together with my daughter and then she was ready to go on our own. I sent her on her way with a push from the top. My wife waited down at the bottom. It was exhilarating to be jetting down the hill. My daughter had a big smile on her face, she could hardly contain her giggles at the end of her run. Yesterday we hiked up the cliff trail in our backyard at around dusk we got to the top and laid down on our backs an looked out over the snow covered roofs of the town and just lied there not saying too much. It's funny how a lot of the bonding moments you have can be some of the simplest.

Newark Museum

49 Washington Street Newark, New Jersey 07102
Newark's Downtown/Arts District 3 blocks from NJPAC
General Information: (973) 596-6550
Gallery Hours Wednesday through Friday, 12–5 pm
Oct.–June: Saturday and Sunday, 10 am–5 pm
July–Sept.: Saturday and Sunday, 12–5 pm
Closed Mondays and Tuesdays (except Holidays listed below),
July 4, Thanksgiving Day and December 25.
Holiday Hours 10 am–5 pm Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day—January 21
President's Day—February 18, Columbus Day—October 13, Veteran's Day—November 11
Dynamic Earth: Revealing Nature's Secrets The Newark Museum is home to a state-of-the-art Planetarium, Mini Zoo and an 83,000 specimen Natural Science Collection, which is the basis of the Dynamic Earth: Revealing Nature's Secrets Gallery. Created to help young people and adults interpret and understand the natural world, this engaging exhibit features interactive and multimedia displays that make the natural sciences come alive. In addition, the Museum offers a wide variety of hands-on science education opportunities for young people.
Living Collection - The Mini Zoo The Mini Zoo is home to more than 100 live animals representing 43 exotic and domestic species. Adults and children can learn about each animal and its natural habitat through interactive, self-guided visits and a variety of fascinating drop-in programs offered every weekend.
Alice and Leonard Dreyfuss PlanetariumThe Alice and Leonard Dreyfuss Planetarium features a state-of-the-art Zeiss ZKP3 star star projector, providing an out-of-this-world experience through which adults and kids can learn about astronomy and space travel. The Natural Science CollectionThe Natural Science Collection is a significant component of The Newark Museum's educational activities, including holdings in zoology, botany, and geology.
The founding collection, bequeathed to the Museum by Dr. William Disbrow in 1922, contained more than 74,000 examples of rocks, minerals, and pressed plants. The Museum's holdings have been augmented over the years, and today specimens from all over the world comprise the ornithology, entomology and shell collections; a reference herbarium is the repository of several rare New Jersey plants, among many others; and over 20,000 rocks, minerals and fossils.
Directions: Can be found on the website

Meadowlands Environment Center

Two DeKorte Plaza Lyndhurst, NJ 07071 (201) 460-8300
Operated by the Hackensack Meadowlands Development Commission, this great facility features, among other things, the famous Trash Museum, and a long network of boardwalks winding through the cattails and salt marsh of the Meadowlands.
Beginning with the main lobby of the building, visitors will find a 30' x 7' diorama depicting an Urban Salt Marsh. The 1,000 gallon brackish creek includes live animals, such as grass shrimp, diamondback terrapin, snapping turtles, fiddler, mud and blue crabs, and others common to these waters. Mounted mammal and bird specimens complete this exhibit which emphasizes the importance of the wetlands.
A Bird Watcher's Bulletin tells about the most recent sightings of area birds. More than 200 species have been sighted in this area, a vital migratory rest stop for thousands of ducks, geese, and shorebirds.
Another main gallery features Creative Displays which involve visitors in understanding environmental problems, particularly the trash crisis. Interactive exhibits include How Far Does Your Trash Travel?, Where Does Garbage Come From?, Products Made From Recycled Materials, and The Ideal Town. A computer station offers learning games about the environment.
A third gallery features a History Exhibit, reflecting on the important events in the growth and development of the Meadowlands.
The glass - enclosed Visitor's Center extends out into the marsh to offer a panoramic view, perfect for viewing wildlife feeding and resting in the water below.
The Boardwalk Trail offers a quiet stroll through the mist and the reeds. It's quite beautiful and offers great opportunities for photographers, bird watchers, and nature - lovers.
As well as being a great place for a family visit, the Center offers great School Programs for grades 1 through 12 and for College Groups, too. Incredible Insects (grades 1 - 3): shows students the characteristics that make insects so successful, and what distinguishes them from other animals. Students collect insects in the marsh, examine them, and release them. Ecology of an Estuary (grades 2 - 12): a participatory slide show, combines with a trip into the marsh to cover the topics of tidal action, animal adaptations, food chains, and human impacts on the wetlands. Paws and Claws (grades 3 - 5): students search for tracks outside. Inside, they use replica animal feet and ink stamps to create believable scenes of wildlife activity, learning about adaptations. Wonderful Wetlands (grade 8 thru College): is an extended introduction to New Jersey's wetlands and their resources. This outdoor program is 4 hours long and is limited to 14 participants. Most other programs last about 90 minutes and can accommodate a larger class. 1 adult per 15 students is required.
Many other programs cover various aspects of the wetlands and waste management. Programs are also offered for Scout Groups.
In addition, the widely acclaimed Museum Store offers books, educational games, a Teachers' Corner, birding supplies, Native American items, and a selection of unique gift items for the adult visitor, all with a nature and preservation theme.
Hours: Museum open weekdays, 9am - 5pm and Saturdays, 10am - 3pm.
Boardwalk open daily.
Admission: Age 12 and over: $2.00.
Lunch: Bagged lunch may be eaten. Reusable containers are encouraged!
Directions: I-95 South. From West Spur take exit 16W, from East Spur take exit 17. Follow Rt. 3 West to Rt. 17 south (Lyndhurst exit). At light (Quality Inn on left) turn left onto Polito Ave. At the end of Polito Ave (stop sign) turn left onto Valley Brook Ave. Go about 1½ miles to end, cross tracks and bear left to HMDC Environment Center.

Haircuts for Kids

When my daughter was about one and 1/2 I tried my hand at quickly snipping the few long wisps falling into her eyes. But now that she's got a full head of hair I am getting ready to take her for her 1st haircut at a hair salon. My wife and I have both brought our daughter with us when we have gone for our haircuts so she seems pretty comfortable with the idea. While both of our hairstylists have offered and even requested to give her a haircut I was looking for a place more geared towards kids. My internet search yielded quite a few places but only a couple were in New Jersey.
The other thing that I found was a number of articles that were about children being anxious about getting a haircut. We have not actually gone for the haircut yet so I cannot comment from experience on this but I do not anticipate this being a tramatic endeavor.
Some Places I found in the Tri-State Area were
Snipits - Who has there own line of Hair care products, Kids themed Spa services, and Parties
Cartoon Cuts - Not Local but site has some resources - Another resource

Some Good tips that I read were:
Have your child go with you or see someone else get a Haircut prior to them going for their own.
Make sure you go when your child is awake (not due for a nap), and fed
Make an appointment so you are not waiting to get in the chair which can cause anxiety to build

If you have a place that you like please let us know where it is and why you and your child like it.

Lunar Eclipse Wednesday Feb 20th

On Wednesday evening, Feb. 20, a beautiful total eclipse of the Moon will be visible from North America. Partial eclipse starts at 8:43 pm Eastern time, Total eclipse starts at 10 pm Eastern Eclipse mid-point 10:26 pmTotal eclipse ends at 10:52.
Partial eclipse ends at 12:09 am Eastern.
What Happens During an Eclipse of the Moon? The full Moon and the Sun are exactly opposite each other in our skies, and the Earth gets between them. The Earth's shadow falls on the Moon, darkening it over the course of several hours. Such a lunar eclipse is visible to everyone on the Earth who can see the Moon.
Check out Time Lapsed Video of Lunar Eclipse

Getting Together with Family

I grew up in a "Big family" my immediate family was average in size (just the 4 of us) but both my grandparents and all of my Mom's brothers and sisters (6) lived in the same town. For a long time it was my brother who was 3 years older than me, my Uncle who was 4 years older and myself. The three of us did almost everything together. We made go-karts, played Baseball, Football and Hockey, rode our bikes and explored a lot (If our parents knew how much and how far we explored I think they would have locked us away). When I was about 10 or so two of my cousins came to live with my Uncle in our town and then it was the 5 of us for a while until my family moved away. We have seen each other to varying degrees over time but have always remained pretty close.
This weekend we all got together with our kids and it was great to see them all playing together and having fun. It is hard to explain but there is a special connection that seems to be Inherint within families. It seems families are more geographically diverse these days. Where we used to be 10 min from one another now it can be 1-5 hours. I think it is worth the commute.

Livestrong Day May 16th

Ideas for LIVESTRONG Day Events and Activities Involving Youth
Educators across the country inquired about LIVESTRONG Day events and activities in schools. Here are a few ideas to encourage youth participation on LIVESTRONG Day.
Encourage all students to wear yellow on Tuesday, May 16, as a show of support for people affected by cancer. Also encourage them to wear a LIVESTRONG wristband. Students also can create a linked wristband chain (made of yellow construction paper) to show support for local cancer survivors.
Have students prepare a presentation on Lance Armstrong, the mission of the LAF, and the needs of cancer survivors and their loved ones.
Hold a penny drive on LIVESTRONG Day and donate all proceeds to the LAF.
If you have a child or teacher with cancer at your school, invite a local oncology nurse or social worker to explain the cancer experience and answer questions.
Create a wall to pin descriptions of what LIVESTRONG means to each student. It can also be turned into a photo memory board/wall in honor of or in memory of someone with cancer.
Ask students to create artwork or cards that can be given to a local pediatric oncology unit or a child/teacher with cancer at the school.
Do a report on a book written by a cancer survivor or a book that addresses an experience with cancer.
Here are some recommendations:
LIVESTRONG: Inspirational Stories from Cancer Survivors from Diagnosis to Treatment and Beyond by the Lance Armstrong Foundation now available in the LIVESTRONG Store.
It's Not About the Bike by Lance Armstrong and Sally Jenkins
Every Second Counts by Lance Armstrong and Sally Jenkins
Keep Climbing: How I Beat Cancer and Reached the Top of the World by Sean Swarner and Rusty Fischer
Here and Now: inspiring Stories of Cancer Survivors by Elena Dorfman and Heidi Schultz Adams No Boundaries: A Cancer Surgeon's Odyssey by LaSalle D. Leffall, Jr. M.D.
Voices from the Edge by Michael Hays Samuelson
The Link to Beating Cancer: The Real Life story of a teenage cancer survivor by John Link

Cooking up Some Fun

Cooking and Baking are a good opportunity to work together, explore foods, and have some fun. I started having my daughter help with some cooking as soon as she showed an interest in what I was doing. (around the age of two) The movie RATATOUILLE really peaked her interest and she has been involved ever since helping with Saturday breakfast, many a dinner, and cupcakes for a bake sales or a treat. Before we started we covered some basic ground rules about safety in the kitchen and once the oven or a burner goes on she has to be on the other side of the Kitchen counter. Some things that kids can do early on are mixing ingredients, cracking eggs, and adding spices. I usually have her put the spices into a separate bowl before adding to everything else. If there is an accidentally overdose of a spice I can just dump out the bowl and start over. You may want to do the same with eggs to avoid shells. Getting you child involved in cooking can get them more interested in the food they eat after all they did have a hand in making it. You can get them to explore different tastes and smells. Ask them to try things along the way and get there input as to what they think might go good with what you are making. Things won't always go perfect and you can wind up with a mess or the need to call for pizza just go with the flow and if it is not feeling fun stop and try another day.

PlayDate Etiquette

PlayDate Etiquette
The Basics
Here are a few tips for parents to consider when making a PlayDate:
Use Some Good Old-Fashioned Common Sense
For Children Ages 2 to 3
When you invite a child of this age to your house, it is important to include the parent in the PlayDate. There are several reasons for doing this:
1) The guest child will probably feel extremely uncomfortable if his mother or father leaves.
2) As a parent, you will want to make your child feel comfortable socially and you will want to help them begin to learn how to develop those skills.
3) Sometimes small children can feel jealous if the host parent is too accommodating to the guest child. When you are the only parent present, you will have to be ready to help the children and to provide comfort if anyone's feelings are hurt in any way.
4) Having a parent present at the PlayDate is a great way to learn more about the other family. You will have the chance to develop a new friendship and this will help both sets of children to see a "give and take" model for conversation, as well as for taking turns and sharing toys.
For Children Ages 4 to 5
When children are in the 3 to 5 year age group, a lot of changes happen for them socially. This is usually a time when these children begin Pre-School. Some parents feel comfortable leaving them at other people's homes when they are in this Pre-School age group. But they are still very young and you will want to know the host parent well enough to make sure that the children will be comfortable and safely supervised.
Make a PlayDate and stay when you feel comfortable, then leave for a short time.
PlayDates are really wonderful for parents and for children, but there is a genuine concern when you begin to leave a child in someone's home. It is always best to ask the guest parent if they have any concerns while their child is visiting in your home.
For best results:
1) Have parents stay for the playdate.
2) As a guest parent, if you need to run an errand, stay for most of the PlayDate. When you see that your child is visibly comfortable, let them know that you are going to "be right back" and slip out for a short time.
3) In this awkward period of social transition, if you are the host parent, be prepared for the guest parent to want to stay, even if you have pre-planned a time to do other things. This age group is very fragile and even the best of plans can go haywire. What is most important here is for the children to begin to feel comfortable with other people.
Important Considerations
Birth order really makes a big difference in the adaptability of children. When you are hosting a PlayDate, be aware of the guest child's birth order. Generally speaking, an only child is probably going to be far more "clingy" than a middle child. And the parent of many may be much more relaxed than a parent of one or two. There are so many variables in the way a PlayDate can be handled. For overall best results, be open to sharing the fun!
Always ask the guest parent if you can offer the guest child a snack during the PlayDate. As silly as this may seem, many parents do not believe in giving "Snacks" between meals. And many more do not want their children eating sweets or prepared calorie-rich foods without nutritional benefit. You will always be safe with vegetable sticks or fruit and a glass of water. Many parents today are not in favor of Juicy Boxes either because of the high sugar content.
Allergy Alerts
It's also important to take allergies into consideration. Not only does this show that you are a very concerned parent, but it's important to know if a child faces any potential dangers from contact with anything from peanut-butter to insect stings.
Elementary School Children: Ages 6 to 11
By the time your children are in Elementary School, there is a new pattern to their days. They are usually gone for a six to seven-hour period during the day. It's very important for children to play, but in today's world, after-school play is a luxury. Usually this happens in the form of Brownies or Boy/Girl Scouts. Of course, there are also sports programs, but they usually entail structured, non-exploratory play. The good old fashioned kind of non-structured running around with other kids really doesn't happen as much as it used to. The bottom line: If you're going to have play time, you must be prepared to take the initiative.
After-School PlayDates
For a lot of children, there is little or no after-school play time unless it is put onto calendars in the form of PlayDates. To make this happen, it's best to plan ahead. Busy moms need a bit of lead-time. One of the best ways to make this happen, without the constant back-and-forth on the telephone or through e-mails, is to use the download invitations from FunPlayDates.
After-school play time can easily be planned if you use the FunPlayDates invitations or if you take the time to write a note and send it to school with your child.
Specify Time, Date of PlayDate and Phone Numbers
It's important to be specific with regard to all contact numbers. This will make it easy to keep track of your child's calendar and any vital information from both sets of parents. One busy mom I know has six children and keeps a social calendar for each of them right by the phone. At a quick glance, she can keep track of their busy schedules, including each of their PlayDates, times and contact numbers.
For best results:
1) Some parents will not allow an after-school PlayDate unless their child has done their homework. When inviting a child for an after-school PlayDate, let the host parent know they will need to finish their work before they play.
2) As a guest parent, always be prompt with your child's pick-up times.
3) As a host parent, be aware of after-school PlayDate pick-up times. Usually, after-school PlayDates run parallel to high traffic patterns and a parent may be a bit late. This is always a potential problem, so accept this possibility when making an after-school PlayDate.
4) Make sure each parent has all the phone numbers needed in case of any emergencies or difficulties related to pick-up times.
5) For after-school snacks, keep it simple and natural.
Weekend PlayDates
Even Saturday and Sunday afternoon PlayDates have to be planned.
It's the rare neighborhood where parents feel safe having their children go out and knock on a neighbor's door to see if their children can come out to play. For most families, the high demands of our lives keep us from feeling spontaneous about people dropping by without an invitation. With all of our time going to so many different kinds of activities, it's always best to plan ahead.
Once again, we must consider the success of a PlayDate often depends on making sure that there is adequate lead-time. This can save the host parent a lot of time and pressure by preparing to receive the guest parents into your home.
This is what you should consider:
1) Many families that have two working parents are not eager to have to get up early on a Saturday or Sunday morning, so it's best to plan PlayDates for sometime in the afternoon.
2) Unless you know a family well, the guest parents will probably stay for at least 15 to 30 minutes when they drop their child off. This happens frequently, so be prepared for this possibility. After all, it's their child they're leaving, so they're naturally going to be concerned. Be ready to offer them a light refreshment.
3) There are many aspects to PlayDates that you might want to think about before you leave your child in someone's home. Some of these concerns include safety, watching TV, playing computer games and snacks. For most parents, not only is a PlayDate a social time, but it can also be a time to play outdoors and get exercise (weather permitting). Carefully survey the surroundings to see that you are comfortable leaving your child with this family. Don't be afraid to ask the parent(s) if someone will be keeping an eye on the kids. And mention that you would prefer that your child not watch too much TV. You may also want to suggest that you reciprocate, with a PlayDate for their child in your home.
4) Always pick up your child at the specified time when the Play Date is to end. Have your child thank the host parent(s) and child. One way to make this a smooth transition to is practice with your own child before you go to the PlayDate. You will want to review the "thank you" and then tell your child to be ready to leave. It is very awkward for the host parent(s) to have to wait for you to leave, especially if they need to be other places or have other commitments.
5) Although this is optional, a Thank You note is always lovely. This is not necessary but will almost always be appreciated.
Potential Problems:
Reciprocal PlayDates
One of the problems that I have run across with the PlayDates is the issue of reciprocal play invitations. This is one of the most common complaints. What usually happens is a situation where your child likes another child and you find that you are always hosting the PlayDates for that relationship. Not only is this unfair, but there is really not very much you can do about it.
The only way that I have seen a turnaround occur, is if you very politely ask if it would be possible to have the other parent watch your child on a particular occasion. If they don't repond to this request in a thoughtful way, then it is time for you to reassess that friendship.
Parenting Styles
When you begin to introduce your child to other families, you're going to have to make some decisions about what kinds of friends you want to encourage your children to develop friendships with. Some people may do things in a completely different way than you would do them. In cases like this, you will have to decide whether you want to continue to have your children play together. Parenting styles would affect these kinds of decisions.
For instance: If you find that the mother of one of your children's friends smokes continually, you may decide that you don't want your child to be exposed to the smoke, so you may wish to discontinue the relationship. This is an extreme example, but there are many characteristics to parenting styles. Some of these styles run the gamut from extreme religious practices and strict punishments to the opposite: unstructured casual styles of parenting that include abrasive language, lack of supervision and older children who do not set a good example for the younger kids. There are also families who watch excessive amounts of TV or play computer games continuously.
The list is virtually endless. However, the bottom line is this: if you feel that your child is, in any way, learning something that you are not ready for them to learn, it is best to have that other child play at your house or to meet on some neutral ground, such as a Museum or playground.
Fighting Children
Sometimes children have disagreements during PlayDates. When there is no psychologist to jump in and make the appropriate suggestions on how to defuse an awkward moment, there is still something you can do to stop the kids from fighting.
Try to get the children to calm down and, to the best of their ability, describe the problem to you. Listen to both kids and make a decision based on what is objectively fair for both children. Be careful and sensitive to the guest child's side of the story. Remember that this child is at a disadvantage, especially if the guest parent is not present to provide emotional support. The next best solution is to get them to play another game or to have them take a break and then change the focus of the activity.
When A Child Gets Hurt
This is such an unfortunate situation. This is also why it is very important to have all of the contact phone numbers you will need for a PlayDate. In this case, you will want to call the parents immediately and you will also want to care for the child that is hurt and probably frightened, as well. It is very essential to calm the child and do all that you can do to make them feel comfortable until their parents pick them up.

Montclair Art Museum

3 South Mountain Avenue
Montclair, New Jersey 07042-1747
Saturdays, 1– 2 p.m.
$4 per child, Adults pay Museum admission: Free to members, $8 for non-members
Imagination Station consists of a lively discussion in the Museum's galleries followed by a hands-on art project based on the tour theme. Themes change weekly and are based on the Museum’s exhibitions. The program provides the opportunity for families to learn about art and art making together in a fun, comfortable format. Space is limited; reservations for all sessions are required. For additional information call (973) 746-5555, ext. 267. Smocks are recommended.
Click here for weekly themes

Barnes and Noble StoryTime Schedule

Story Time
February 12, 2008
10:30 AMRecurring

StorytimeVarious Themes Children's
Barnes & Noble Booksellers West Paterson
Caldor Plaza
1156 Route 46 West
West Paterson, NJ 07424

February 12, 2008
10:30 AMRecurring

StorytimeVarious Themes Toddlers (age 3 and under), Pre-school (ages 3-6)
Barnes & Noble Booksellers Ledgewood
Ledgewood Mall
375 Route 10 E
Ledgewood, NJ 07852

February 12, 2008
11:00 AMRecurring

StorytimeChildren's Weekly Storytime Children's
The Shops @ Riverside
187 Riverside Square
Hackensack, NJ 07601

February 12, 2008
11:00 AMRecurring

StorytimeChildren's Weekly Storytime Children's
The Shops @ Riverside
187 Riverside Square
Hackensack, NJ 07601

February 13, 200810:00 AMRecurring

StorytimeStory/Craft Time Pre-school (ages 3-6)
Barnes & Noble Booksellers Livingston
518 West Mt. Pleasant Ave.
Livingston, NJ 07039

February 13, 200811:00 AMRecurring

StorytimeStorytime Children's
Barnes & Noble Booksellers Paramus III
Paramus III
765 Route 17 South
Paramus, NJ 07652

February 13, 200811:00 AMRecurring

Storytimeweekly storytime Children's
Barnes & Noble Booksellers Clifton
Clifton Commons
395 Route 3 East
Clifton, NJ 07014

February 13, 200804:00 PMRecurring

StorytimeStorytime Children's
Barnes & Noble Booksellers Paramus III
Paramus III
765 Route 17 South
Paramus, NJ 07652

February 14, 200810:30 AMRecurring

StorytimeStorytime Toddlers (age 3 and under), Pre-school (ages 3-6)
Barnes & Noble Booksellers West Paterson
Caldor Plaza
1156 Route 46 West
West Paterson, NJ 07424

February 14, 200810:30 AMRecurring

StorytimeVarious Themes Pre-school (ages 3-6)
Barnes & Noble Booksellers Edgewater Commons
Edgewater Commons
465 River Road
Edgewater, NJ 07020

February 14, 200811:00 AMRecurring

StorytimeChildren's Storytime Children's
The Shops @ Riverside
187 Riverside Square
Hackensack, NJ 07601

Kid Friendly Businesses

There are some places that you go with your children and you immediatly feel that it's not a good idea and you are probably better off coming back without the kids. There are other Businesses that seem to Cater or at least have their younger patrons in mind.
In this article and Future Kid Freindly Posts I will list some of these. This weeks list has a bank, a grocery store, and 2 book stores. The Bank is Commerce Bank and if you have been there with your Kids it is probably no surprise it is on the list. They have a change counter (Coin Arcade) that allows kids to guess the amount they have in change and gives them extra money if they guess within a certain amount.
Right next to the change counter is a restroom to clean your hands after handling the money. I opened an account with my daughter after getting a receipt for her change (There is no minimum for Kids accounts) my daughter received a Statement Saving Book, (passbook is also available) a coloring book, a Commerce "piggy bank", and of course a lollipop. There is also a kids website with money lessons and games
Trader Joes is the Grocery store on the list because they offer instore crafts that kids can do this Wednesday the 13th Kids can make a Valentines Day card at the Edgewater store. They also have kids size carts which have a capacity similiar to a hand basket (My daughter loves to push the big carts at the grocery store. This usually adds about 5 to 15 minutes and a little tension to a visit to the grocery store) The Kid carts are very welcome and a great idea. Trader Joes also gives kids a Balloon of their color choice and some stickers at checkout giving kids something to look forward to "if they are good". There are also food and beverage samples to stop and try during your shopping trip. (Bonus for Parents)
The Book Stores are 2 of the biggest on the east coast, both Borders and Barnes and Noble offer in-store events and dedicated Childrens Book Sections. Check the Links above as well as Upcoming Events for in-store story times and special Events.

Jungle Jack Hanna at Ramapo College of New Jersey

Today we went to Ramapo College to see Jack Hanna its was very enjoyable. There were a few moments during the show where he spoke about some issues that were probably not suitable for younger children. (Genocide in Rawanda and the San Fransisco Tiger Attack) but these things happened and they exist in our world so I don't see it as an issue. (Just a heads up) Jack has a very warm way about him. The presentation is very much like you have visited him at his home and he is introducing you to some of his friends. The show was comprised of video and live animals and was about an 1 1/2 Hours in duration. There was a chance to meet Jack before the show, take pictures, and get autographs. After the show the handlers were available with some of the animals so that the kids could go upto the stage and get a closer look. (Petting was not permitted I think that is a state thing more than a show policy). I took some video about 10 Minutes worth it is pretty raw but it gives you an idea of what the live part of the show is about. This was a great show for the kids, parents, and I think grandparents would really enjoy this one as well (Since they don't have to be in tune to the latest characters.)

For Kids Safari go to:

The Planetarium at CCM

Today we went to the Planetarium at CCM (County College of Morris in Randolph Township)
It was titled Shapes in the Sky 22, part of a series of programs especially for children ages 3 to 7. We did not make reservations ahead of time and this was a mistake since the show was booked. Luckily they had a waiting line in case there were no-shows and we were able to get in. Reservations are strongly recommended and can be made by calling Annmarie Lippiello at 973-328-5076.
Chris Fenwick was the presenting astronomer and was a hit with both the kids and adults providing a humorous and educational presentation. Chris started the program by introducing us to LOGAN (pictured above) "the machine" that would create the constellations that we would see among them were: Cassiopeia, Pegasus, Orion, Taurus, and the Little and Big Dipper. Pictures were overlaid to bring the shapes into focus and pointers were given for finding the constellations in the night sky. My daughter and Niece were a little afraid of the dark so that should be a consideration the length of the presentation seemed just about right. I am looking forward to next Program which will be held on Saturday, May 10, 2008 -- 11:00, 1:00, 3:00
CCM is Located at 214 Center Grove Road Randolph, NJ 07869-2086

Some web resources to further explore our solar system can be found at:

Travel Tip: Have ipod will travel

Travel Tip: If you have a video ipod then you already have a travel entertainment System. I originally loaded some of my daughters favorite shows onto my ipod and played them thru the cars stereo aux input. We were immediatly hooked. The main drawback is that the episodes can run up in cost pretty quick at 1.99 + tax/ 30 min show. There are some alternatives though. Free Podcast subscriptions are available, PBS.KIDS SUPER WHY? is one that we like, or if you have the time and inclination you can copy your DVD's to your ipod (easier if you have an mac) On the pc I found this to be a bit of a pain. I had to rip the DVD to my pc then Convert to an mpeg-4 and then load that file into my itunes, convert it for playing in itunes and finally sync with my ipod (1.99 seems pretty cheap right about now). I am sure there is an easier way. Here is what a quick google search yielded: and
I will try some of these option and post results on a later blog. Anyway back to the original topic the ipod can play video, music, and games. You can play the audio thru the Car Stereo if you have an aux jack. If you dont have that or a tape deck adapter, or desire a quiet moment get the little one('s) some headphones of their own. I found a place that makes great kids accesories for the ipod ifrogz tadpole line has great cases and headphones for kids. Prices range from 9.00-40.00

New Jersey Childrens Museum

(201) 262-5151
I have been here a few times during rainy or very cold days where I needed to get out with my daughter. In general it is a fun place and reasonable 10 dollars per person for a day of activities.
Despite its name it is not a Museum more of a hands on place with some educational value and a lot of play. The main downside of this place is that with the number of kids that come through it seems to be a breeding place for germs (Hand sanitizer and wipes are a must and a pack of Clorox wipes is not a bad idea for wiping down some of the exhibits.) Also the place gets crowded on weekends so there are a lot of opportunities for interactions with other kids with that come some of the issues associated like sharing, pushing, grabbing although I have never had a real problem there has definitely been some tension on both ends. (It can help to go with a small group that plays well together)
Definitely bring a camera there are a ton of photo opportunities with lots of props and costumes for kids to explore imaginative play.
I would recommend for Kids ages 2-7
Here is a list of Exhibits:

  • Fire Truck (What Kid Doesn’t Like a fire truck - Great Photo Op)
  • Construction Zone (You can build stuff with big Foam Blocks and then knock em down
  • Space & Aviation
  • Animal Senses
  • Medieval Castle Kids
  • Pizzeria Grocery Store
  • Wild West
  • Dinosaur Cave (Kids Love Dinosaurs The Fossil Dig is fun)
  • Ballet Studio
  • Play Hospital
  • T.V. Studio
  • Baby Nook
  • Post Office
  • Giant Train Set (Everyone stops here)
  • Bernoulli Blower (Place an inflatable globe over the blower it Floats up ans Spins)
  • Driving & Drawing*
  • Light Mosaic*
  • Body Print*

* New for 2007 Items in Bold were our favorites

The Crayola Factory

30 Centre SquareEaston, PA 18042

From New York the ride is about 1.5 hours we went with our 3 year old by the end of our walk thru the entire factory she was pretty tired but became re-invigorated when we went to the adjacent Crayola store. There are many standard activities with additional special ones going on. During our visit, there was a winter scene activity going on which we had a variety of colored and foiled papers, various cut pattern scissors, and Glue sticks to work with. (Very similar to an activity you might find at a local kids art studio) They were also making T-shirts that day there was an extra fee for the shirt.
Some Upcoming Special Activities in February are 12-17 Create a bookmark, 14th Valentines day activities, 18th “Name the President” Contest, 29th (Leap Year Froggy Projects)

The Factory is made of creative spaces with different activity themes. There is a crayon carousel , Water Color Painting center with a picture dryer, Chalk Walk, What's Hot Center that has new product demonstrations and more.

Crayola® Meltdown
This exhibit offers visitors an opportunity to paint with
different colors of melted Crayola crayon wax. (Ages 5 and Older)
There is also a Hall of fame with some cool memorabilia, and a simulated factory where they demonstrate how crayons and markers are made you get a crayon and marker sample. and get to put the label on the crayon yourself.
Easton Press and Bindery
This exhibit explores traditional and non-traditional print making. Children make their own stationery or assemble a book. From finger painting to plate making, the extraordinary world of images is here to be explored.
Super Sculptures
Get children involved using hands-on play to mold sculptures We played with the Crayola version of playdough which was white but you color with markers texturally it was different than playdough and more maleable.
The Light Zone
Take time to color on miniature slides and project the image on the wall for everyone to see. There is an Animation Station here, too, where children can
create their own 3-D film clips using available objects and a camera.
The Creative Studio
Color on both sides of giant glass walls and watch the colors combine to make new hues.
Cool Moves
Try out this favorite activity, which lets children dance with their silhouettes to music!
Color Park
This exhibit was specially created for children ages 5 and under, with fun activities that include a ball play area and a discovery garden

When you enter the factory (I would suggest booking online to avoid the line wait) You dont want to do a long drive look for parking [I would suggest the Parking garage directly across from the factory I think it was about 6-8 dollars to park for the day] then get out of the car, walk to the factory hang you coats - There is a coat check then wait in line to get tickets to possibly find out that they are Sold out for the day.

Logistical Information
Adults and Children (ages 3-64): $9.50*
Seniors (ages 65+): $9.00*
Infants (2 and younger): Free Admission
Military discount available.
*Admission price does not include the 5% City of Easton
admissions tax.
Parking is available for a fee at the municipal parking
garage. On-street, metered parking is also available.
Hours, prices and programs are subject to
change without notice.
All children under the age of 16 are required to be
accompanied by an adult chaperone.
Reservations can be made by calling
Group Sales at 610-515-8000 (press 2),
Monday-Saturday from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Checkout Crayola online at: