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Let the Games Begin

For Christmas this year I thought about getting a Wii. Fortunately that was not possible (I could not believe I was one of "those parents" getting caught up in the Toy Fad Frenzy) I say fortunate because it not having a game system lead us to explore other game options like Board games, improvised games like Obstacle Course, Living room relay, and Scavenger Hunts , and some computer games (Online puzzles, Kid Pix, and Some others). The plus over video games is that we connect as family better than I think we may have with a video game system, also in addition to general entertainment there is a lot of learning going on. Some of the games we have are educational in nature so there is some intended learning built in Out of this world has a bunch of Space and Earth facts and practices counting skills since you need to move the number of spaces that you roll with the dice. Aside from the intended learning's built into the game there are also the learning's that come from playing any game such as: following directions, playing by the rules, playing fair, being a good winner and loser.
So were having fun as a family and sneak in a little social and cognitive learning while were at it.

Calendar of Events for May

I was putting out a weekend planner every Thursday. This weekends Planner is rolled into the Earth Day Wrap up .
May is looking like a very busy month with lots of events and the Spring weather there are a lot of options. In finding things to do I was getting a little overwhelmed with the number of Events that looked interesting and would hate to forget to post something. In order to help better plan the month I am going to put what I have found for May so far here in a single post. If I find Specific Events for a given week I will add them as new posts but link back to here. BTW: Don't forget Mothers Day is May 11th


Ramapo College: Berrie Center School time Performance Series The World of Animals and Birds of Prey Wednesday, April 30 10 a.m. and Noon, Sharp Theater Everyone’s favorite naturalist Bill Robinson returns to the Berrie Center with a variety of winged creatures and cold-blooded reptiles in tow, as he teaches about animal adaptations for survival and the important role animals play in the balance of nature. Grades K-12. Tickets: $8 all seats

May 3-4

Newark Museum Sunday, May 4, 10 am–4:30 pm Dinosaur Day
A day of hands-on, inquiry-based workshops, demonstrations and activities in the geosciences. Explore and learn various aspects of dinosaur life, including the wide range of sizes and shapes of these "terrible lizards" who roamed the Earth 65 million years ago.
Papermill Playhouse
May 3 & 4
Theatreworks USA
Recommended for ages 3-6
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. who turns out to be no help at all, so Ruby recruits her Bunny Scout friends for assistance. But can she 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!

May 10-11
Shapes in the Sky 23 Saturday, May 10, 2008 -- 11:00, 1:00, 3:00 This is part of our series of programs dedicated especially for children ages 3 to 7, with fun for every age! For thousands of years, all over the world, people have imagined shapes among the stars, we’ll learn about many of these shapes and hear the stories behind them. Make reservations as early as possible
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Arthur - LIVE! May 9-10, 2009 Uniondale, NY - Nassau Coliseum [More Info] Based on Marc Brown’s books and Emmy-Award winning PBS series this all new ARTHUR LIVE! comes to life on the stage! Enjoy the family fun, as everyone’s favorite aardvark and his friends all hit the stage in this delightful musical adventure. The show features the lovable, intrepid Arthur, his feisty sister DW, his good buddies Buster and Brain, his nemesis Francine – and introduces the warm, wise and wacky Tooth Fairy. An innovative, page-turning pop-up storybook set and special-effects move the story through Elwood City, Arthur’s House, Mr. Ratburn’s Classroom, the Dentist Office and the fascinating Dinosaur Museum. During Arthur’s adventures he discovers and shares the importance of teamwork, learning, and the joys of just being a kid. Featuring a dozen original songs - including ”Good and Ready,” “The Loose Tooth Wiggle” and "T-Rex Rocks" this interactive show will keep the whole family thoroughly engaged.

The Kazoobie Kazoo Show:
May 10th at 11:00 and 1:30
Kids join Rick Hubbard, "The King of Kazoo," onstage to perform. Along with his computerized music tracks, Rick plays guitar, banjo, steel drum, slide whistle and best of all, a kazoo. For the grand finale of the show, everyone in the audience receives a free kazoo. The newly formed kazoo band performs a marching, kazooing, final song!
Bickford Theater - Morris Museum
6 Normandy Heights Rd Morristown, NJ 07960

May 17-18
Peter & the Wolf—Princeton Symphony Orchestra
The Nature of Music Sunday, May 18, 2008 at 3:00 PM
Location: State Theatre
Tickets: P $35.00; A $30.00; B $25.00; C $15.00
This charming program introduces young children to the symphony orchestra through music inspired by the natural world. In Prokofiev’s perennial favorite, Peter & The Wolf, individual instruments get to shine as they imitate Bird, Duck, Cat, Wolf, and the other characters in the story. The concert includes a demonstration of the instruments and their families, plus shorter works by Beethoven, Debussy, Vivaldi, and Johann Strauss that evoke birds, animals, the seasons, and the weather.
(Long Time Since I have been to this theatre but I remember it was a Great Place to Hear Music and Peter and the Wolf is a great Selection for Kids Lots of animated passages to keep there attention - There is also a guest Narrator)

Bergen PAC: 30 North Van Brunt Street, Englewood, New Jersey 07631
The Laurie Berkner Band Sun., May. 18 - 1:00 PM
The Laurie Berkner Band. This very poplular children's band, featured on Noggin TV, will be performing as part of the 7th Annual Todd Ouida Children's Foundation Fund-raising Event. Check out our website at for more information.

The Wizard of Oz Williams Theatre East Rutherford NJ
May 17, 2008 Recommended Ages 2 to 7 years old
Parents and Grandparents Tickets: $8
For Reservations Call: (201) 939-2323
(I have been to a few productions here before They were pretty low budget but the Kids really seem to love it My daughter and Niece had a great time.)

SPARTA MOUNTAIN DAY May 18th 2008. An fun, family-oriented day of health, fitness and environmental activities. Themed this year as Your Health-Your Environment, the event includes the Livestrong 5K Walk/Run. 8am - 1:30pm. $25 donation for 5K. Heaters Pond in Ogdensburg, Ryker's Lake in Sparta. More Details

May 24-25
Mars: Phoenix Landing
Sunday, May 25th 6:00-9:00 pm Ages: All
The Phoenix Lander is an important mission in terms of achieving the long-term goals for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. The goals for every NASA Mars mission are to:
1) determine whether life ever arose on Mars,
2) characterize the climate of Mars,
3) characterize the geology of Mars, and
4) prepare for human exploration of Mars.
The Phoenix landing which will be viewed live on NASA TV during the lecture will strive to meet all the goals listed above. Join us as we watch in suspense to see if our lander will arrive safely on Mars and ring in another victory for the human spirit of exploration.
$5/person; $3/members.
Pre-registration required. Attendance limited to 50 participants.
Check-in at the Meadowlands Environment Center, program to be held in the NJMC Center for Environmental and Scientific Education.

May 31-June-1
Pax Amicus Castle Theatre
The Wizard of Oz Tickets are $12.00
Come take a trip down the yellow brick road with Dorothy, the Scarecrow, The Tinman, The Cowardly Lion, Glinda the Good Witch and a not scary at all, silly bad witch and of course the Wizard of Oz in a truly wonderful musical for children.
"The Wizard of Oz" plays selected weekdays May 14th thru June 6th at 10:00 am and Saturdays; May 31st and June 7th at 11:00 am.

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Earth Day - A wrap up and Beyond

Hopefully everyone did something for Earth Day - If you didn't you still can I think that is what is meant in part by the phrase Earth Day is Everyday. (You can do something for the environment anyday not Just Aprill 22nd )The Goal of Earth Day is to raise awareness in hopes to change everyday behaviors with regard to the Environment. (Similar to New Years resolutions but hopefully with better results) I a managed to create an Earth day related post almost everyday* leading up to Earth Day (*1 movie review post on Satuday and No post on Earth Day [I rode my bike home from work and left my computer there]). I learned a lot gathering information to get ideas for some of the posts. We donated money to have a tree planted. We planted a garden, did a nature walk, We got some additional reusable grocery bags, and became more conscious about turning lights off and unplugging appliances that draw power when not in use. Going forward I want to continue to develop my awareness of little things that I can do to help the environment and share these with my family, friends, and readers. I want to incorporate the 3'rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) into everyday behaviors.

Please goto Kidzense Group for Activities and coloring pages (under Files) Earth 911 delivers actionable local information on recycling and product stewardship that empowers consumers to act locally, live responsibly and contribute to sustainability.
Reduce Pollution: Plan your trip using Google Transit. Learn more.
Download the Energy Saver gadget for Google Desktop: Learn more.
Educators: Celebrate Earth Day in the classroom using Google Earth, Maps, and SketchUp. Learn more.
Green design professionals: Use Google SketchUp for 3D design and solar studies. Learn more.

Beyond Earth Day Events this weekend around Earthday
In New Jersey:
BERGEN COUNTY ZOO April 26, 2008.
Celebrate Earth Day at the Bergen County Zoo on Saturday, April 26th and join our Party for the Planet! Special activities and displays will be at the zoo throughout the day. Learn what the zoo and other organizations are doing to help save the planet, and learn how you can help, too!

TURTLE BACK ZOO April 27, 2008
11am — 4pm. Keep the Earth Day Party rolling and join us at Turtle Back Zoo for our 2nd annual Party for the Planet. Learn about our planet and what you can do to help conserve it. Special activities and talks throughout the day.

Come to Liberty Science Center this weekend and get $2 off admission to the PSEG Global Green Expo 2008 in Liberty State Park. Taking place April 25-27 at the historic Central Railroad Terminal, the Global Green Expo is dedicated to changing the way that we live. How? By providing information and inspiration about global environmental issues. You'll learn what you and your family can do -- right now -- to help turn the tide.
Informed speakers, product demonstrations, information booths and global networking opportunities will spotlight the most recent ideas and technology, teaching us what we can be done one person at a time. By providing practical, real-life options, this event will make a difference in your life at home and at work.

In New York
Party for the Planet Earth Week, April 21–27
Learn about the Human Footprint, make art from recycled materials, enjoy Wildlife Theater, and meet our Earth Day ambassadors, tigers Norma, Alexis, Taurus, and Zeff!
You can also celebrate Earth Day at the New York Aquarium
or at a zoo near you—the Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, or Queens Zoo.

In Connecticut
(about 1 hour from the GWB)
Westport, CT: Green Earth Fair
A fun and informative fair about helping the environment and living a green life. There will be exhibitors, speakers, and activities for all ages, and admission is $5 per person. Event Date: April 26-27, 2008
Event Time: 12:00 - 4:00 PM
Address: 10 Woodside Lane, P.O. Box 165 Westport , CT 06880 USA
Contact Person: John Horkel
Phone: 203-227-7253

Earth Day - Gardening

Let me start by saying that I am no gardener my experience in gardening amounts to turning the soil for my grandfather's garden every year since as long as I can remember and occasionally watering the garden. For Earth Day my daughter's class each planted tomato plants in pots and we planted some wild flowers in the back yard. Tonight I was doing some research for our garden and I came across a great site geared towards kids but with really useful stuff for anyone (and by anyone, I me someone like me with limited gardening knowledge) The site covers things like setting up your Garden, making sure the soil is ready in both moisture and Temperature, and seed germination. (I really wish I read this site yesterday before we planted our flower seeds).
Here are some Tips:
When picking flowers and plants for your Garden it is a good idea to plant things that grow easily but also yield some interaction opportunities either thru textures, fragrances, or taste.

Easy to Grow Plants for Texture and Visual Appeal are: Lamb’s ear - These are easy to grow plants have soft, fuzzy foliage that kids love to touch and pet. Textural appeal also comes from papery plants like strawflower and Chinese lantern. Coneflowers are easy to grow and feel prickly to the touch.
The blazing star has stiff spikes of tiny, fuzzy, purple blossoms and is very easy to grow. Some bright color, easy to grow, child-friendly plants include zinnias and cosmos. Many of these are also great for picking, another activity that kids enjoy. Zinnias offer many colours and varieties to choose from. There is sure to be a variety to fit everyone. Cosmos not only look appealing but are extremely easy to grow. In fact, once established, they will continually self-seed, practically growing all by themselves. These plants produce fern-like foliage and large brightly coloured flowers.
The Pineapple lily has an interesting. This is a very easy plant to grow, needing little or no special attention. Its flower spikes range in colour from cream and green to pinkish-purple and are topped with a pineapple-like cluster of leaves.

Tasty Plants/Flowers:
Sunflowers are easy to grow and very attractive but kids will enjoy eating their seeds once ripe. Vegetables are always good choices for kids. They are extremely easy to grow and available in many interesting sizes, shapes, and colours. Tomatoes, carrots, and radishes are great choices, along with vine crops like cucumbers.
I am also planning on planting a herb garden filled with a variety of seasoning herbs possibly with oregano, basil, parsley, and garlic.

Here are the sites referenced in this article: Kids Valley Garden and The Kids Garden

Earth Day - Take a Hike

What better way to celebrate the Earth than to get out enjoy nature by taking a nature walk or even exploring your own backyard. We have a really great backyard thanks in part to our neighbors who planted flowers along a trail they mdae that goes up to the cliffs above our house.
You can find an exauhstive list of Plants and animals in your area at: eNature.
On our walk we found lots of Flowers (among them tulips and violets) some ivy growing up the side of a tree, various plants, some grub worms in a piece of buried decomposing wood, a bumble bee, and an earthworm that we watched tunnel under the ground for about a 1/2 hour (When kids want to they can be most patient) and a few Cardinals (Check out The Birdsource).

We made a small garden and planted some wild flower seeds. Gardening was great I forgot how much fun kids have geting dirty. Z-girl has promised to water her garden everyday until the flowers start to grow.
I hope they do it would be nice to have something to show for her effort (If not I guess there is another lesson to be learned albeit less desirable)

Additional Links: Audubon Society, GORP, Children Nature & You, Hooked on Nature

Nim's Island Review

Based on Wendy Orr's popular children's novel, Nim's Island is an engaging, family-friendly adventure with a charming performance by Abigail Breslin (from Little Miss Sunshine) and a surprisingly comedic performance from Jodie Foster as a "Borderline agoraphobe" who must get past her fears to get to Nim. (She also has an alter ego Alex Rover-Adventure Hero who she funny interactions with)
The animals in the Story are very entertaining and keep kids busting out with laughter for the hour and 35 minutes. There are some intense scenes (Like when Nim Climbs the Volcano) That can create some anxiety for the little ones but these are short and quickly resolved. There is a few underlying messages in this movie (Environmental responsibility and overcoming your fears)
Prior to seeing this movie I wasn't sure that we get through the whole show. (We generally go to animated features previous visits to the theatre for Alvin and the Chipmunks and The Water Horse were cut short)
Nim (Abigail Breslin) and her dad, Jack (Gerard Butler), have been tucked away on their own private tropical island since Nim's mom died. They live in a treehouse complete with electricity provided by solar panels, hang out with sea lions and marine iguanas, and only communicate with the rest of the world via email and satellite phone (of course they have a computer). Everything is fine until Jack heads out for a short research expedition and gets stranded by a nasty tropical storm, leaving Nim to fend for herself. At first she takes it in stride, (Nim is a very self-sufficient 11 year old and stayed behind to save some turtle hatchlings) but eventually, worried and lonely, she confesses some of her fears to adventure novelist Alex Rover (Who she has been communicating with because she is doing research on a volcanic Island for her upcoming book) --never guessing that the intrepid hero she's imagined is really a neurotic, scaredy-cat woman (Jodie Foster). When tourists threaten the island, Nim asks Alex for help, challenging the writer to overcome her fears and become "the hero of her own story."

Final Verdict: Go See it with Kids around 4 and over.
Z-girls Favorite part was the flying Lizzards

Earth Day 2008 - R - Reuse

Toady's R is Reuse Like reduce this one is not only helpful to the environment but to your Wallet/pocketbook. When we reuse we help to reduce waste. There is some cross over between these two tenants of the 3R's. Some things that you can reuse starting today are Plastic grocery bags or better yet canvas bags (They are more durable I keep a few in my car so if I stop at the grocery on the way home I have it handy. Toys, Books, and video tapes can be handed down to or from relatives or friends. We received The complete Dr Seuss and Berenstain Bears from friends and family as well as some toys and videos. When our Daughter outgrows them we can pass them on as well. Clothes can be passed down most outfits that small children receive only get worn a few times before they grow out of them. Reusable storage containers for sandwiches and snacks can cut down on the use of foil and plastic wrap.
One project that you can take on that can be educational as well as beneficial is creating a backyard compost. Compost is one of nature's best mulches and soil amendments, and you can use it instead of commercial fertilizers. Your compost can vary from very low tech and inexpensive to a fit for purpose tumbler (which can be close to $200) each has its benefits. For more information on composting check out the Compost Guide
A compost pile can be set up in a corner of the yard with few supplies. Choose a level spot about 3- to 5-feet square near a water source and preferably out of direct sunlight. Clear the area of sod and grass. When building a composting bin, such as with chicken wire, scrap wood, or cinder blocks, be sure to leave enough space for air to reach the pile. One removable side makes it easier to tend the pile.
Many foods can be composted, including vegetable trimmings, egg shells, coffee grounds with filters, and tea bags. In addition to leaves, grass, and yard clippings, vacuum cleaner lint, wool and cotton rags, sawdust, shredded newspaper, and fireplace ashes can be composted. DO NOT compost meats, dairy foods, or any fats, oil, or grease because they can attract pests.

Start the pile with a 4-inch layer of leaves, loose soil, or other coarse yard trimmings. If you are going to compost food scraps (a slightly more involved process), you should mix them with yard trimmings when adding them to the pile. Alfalfa meal or clean cat litter may be added to the pile to absorb odors. In dry weather, sprinkle water on the pile, but don't get it too soggy. Turn the pile every few weeks with a pitchfork to circulate air and distribute moisture evenly. Don't be surprised by the heat of the pile or if you see worms, both of which are part of the decomposition process. Make sure children do not play in the composting pile or bin.

In most climates, the compost is done in 3 to 6 months when it becomes a dark crumbly material that is uniform in texture. Spread it in the garden or yard beds or under the shrubbery. The compost also can be used as potting soil.


Some other Reduction Ideas:There are many ways to reduce the amount and the toxicity of solid waste. By thinking creatively, many new uses for common items and new possibilities for source reduction and recycling can be discovered. Here are just a few ideas. Now, try some of your own!
Turn a giant cardboard box into a child's playhouse.

Transform a plastic ice cream tub into a flower pot.

Give pet hamsters or gerbils paper towel and toilet paper cardboard tubes with which to play. Use an egg carton to plant seedlings.

Turn used tires (not steel-belted) into children's swings or other playground equipment.

Select nontoxic inks and art supplies.

Combine source reduction techniques. For example, try storing coffee bought in bulk in empty coffee cans.

Choose beverages such as water or milk in reusable containers, where appropriate.

Place an order through the mail with a group of people in order to save money and reduce packaging waste.

Planet Pals

Earth Day 2008 - R - Recycle

Todays R is Recycle. An easy way to recycle is by participating in your communities recycling program.

Some recycling facts for different Materials can be found below
Recycling one aluminum beverage can saves enough energy to run a 100-watt bulb for 20 hours, a computer for 3 hours or a tv for 2 hours.
The aluminum beverage can returns to the grocer's shelf as a new, filled can in as little as 90 days after collection, remelting, rolling, manufacturing and distribution.
An average of 113,204 aluminum cans are recycled every minute of every day.
Recycling one ton of aluminum saves 37 barrels of oil.
Recycling 125 aluminum cans saves enough energy to power one home for 1 day.
It takes 4 tons of ore to produce one ton of aluminum.

Recycling one glass bottle saves enough energy to light a 100-watt light bulb for 4 hours or operate a television for 3 hours.
Producing glass from virgin materials requires 30% more energy than producing it from crushed used glass.
It takes approximately 1 million years for a glass bottle to break down in a landfill.
Unacceptable glass for recycling: ceramic cups, plates and pottery; clay garden pots; laboratory glass; crystal and opaque drinking glasses; mirrors; windshields and window glass; heat-resistant ovenwear; light bulbs; drinking glasses; hazardous glass containers, i.e. acid containers.
In the U.S. today, 34% of all glass containers are recycled.
Most bottles and jars contain at least 25% recycled glass.
Glass never wears out - it can be recycled forever.
Recycling glass saves 25-32% of the energy used to make glass.
Glass containers save 9 gallons of fuel (oil) for every ton of glass recycled.

Americans use over 67,000,000 tons of paper each year, or 600 pounds per person.
It takes more than 500,000 trees to produce the newspapers Americans read each Sunday, yet only 30% of all newspapers are recycled.
Recycling one ton of paper saves 17 trees, 3 cubic yards of landfill space, 2 barrels of oil, 7,000 gallons of water and 4,100 kilowatt hours of electricity - enough energy to power the average American home for 5 months.
Producing recycled paper requires about 60% of the energy used to make paper from virgin wood pulp.
Recycling 1 ton of newspaper saves 15 mature trees.
Every day, Americans buy 62 million newspapers and throw out 44 million. That's the equivalent of dumping 500,000 trees into a landfill every week.
If everyone in the U.S. recycled just 1/10th of their newsprint, we would save the estimated equivalent of about 25 million trees a year.
In the manufacturing process of recycled paper: 74% less air pollution is generated, 35% less water pollution is generated, 58% less water is required, 64% less energy is required.
One ton of high-grade recyclable paper can substitute for approximately 3 tons of wood in making new paper products.
Every year more than 900 million trees are cut down to provide raw materials for American paper and pulp mills.

Plastics require 100 to 400 years to break down in a landfill.
Producing new plastic from recycled material uses only two-thirds of the energy required to manufacture it from raw materials.
For every 7 trucks needed to deliver paper grocery bags to the store, only 1 is needed to carry the same number of plastic grocery bags.
By using plastic in packaging, American product manufacturers save enough energy each year to power a city of 1 million homes for 3 ½ years.
As much as 40% of selected plastic parts from damaged or discarded cars are repaired and reused.
Over 1.5 billion pounds of post-consumer plastic bottles were recycled during 1999, accounting for 22% (by weight) of all plastic bottles produced in the U.S.
PET bottles (soda & water) and HDPE bottles (milk, laundry detergent) are the most commonly collected plastic materials in community recycling programs.
95% of all plastic bottles in the U.S. market are manufactured from PET or HDPE. 56% of recycled PET finds a market in the manufacture of fiber (carpet & clothing). 29% of HDPE recycled bottles go into making new bottles and 18% goes into the plastic pipe industry.
Recycling 1 ton of plastic can save 1-2 thousand gallons of gas.
Every year we make enough plastic film to shrink-wrap the state of Texas.

Recycling tin and steel cans saves between 60-74% of the energy used to produce them from raw materials.
1 ton of recycled steel saves the energy equivalent of 3.6 barrels of oil, and 1.49 tons of iron ore over the production of new steel.
Steel cans were recycled at the rate of 58% in 2001.
The amount of steel recovered through recycled packaging in 2001 (nearly 1.5 million tons) would yield enough steel to build 185,000 steel framed homes.
In 2001, nearly 2 million tons of steel was recovered from recycled appliances.
The steel from the more than 39 million appliances recycled last year yielded enough steel to build about 160 stadiums the size of the new Pittsburgh Steelers stadium.
In 2001, there were 26 cars recycled every minute across the U.S.
Each year steel recycling saves the energy equivalent to electrically power about 1/5th of the households in the U.S. (or about 18 million homes) for 1 year.
Every ton of steel recycled saves 2,500 lbs. of iron ore, 1,400 lbs. of coal and 120 lbs. of limestone.
Annually, enough energy is saved by recycling steel to supply Los Angeles with electricity for almost 10 years.
You can make 20 cans out of recycled material with the same amount of energy it takes to make 1 new one.

Battery acid is recycled by converting it to sodium sulfate for laundry detergent, glass and textile manufacturing.
The average person throws away 4 pounds of garbage PER DAY.
Paper is the most common item found in our trash.
Product packaging accounts for 1/3 of our trash.
Solid waste disposal is the third largest municipal government expense after police protection and education.
The nation's annual generation of municipal solid waste rose steadily from 88 million tons in 1960 to 232 million tons in 2002.
Recycling all of your home's waste newsprint, cardboard, glass and metal can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 850 lbs. a year.
The number of landfills that were in operation in 1978:14,000; in 2003: 1,500.

Consumer Electronics:
Once Computers have finished their useful lives they are paperweights filled with all sorts of Nasty stuff such as Toxic chemicals, carcinogens and heavy metals There are various recycling options some have a cost but you want to make sure that the Recycler is reputable and not just stripping out what they wan and dumping the other stuff in a landfill. If your computer still has some life then you can donate it. Companies like RetroBox and FreeGeek build computers out of salvaged parts; the latter has a list of like-minded organizations that can be a good starting place for recycling or reusing your machine.
Motor Oil:
Oil from one oil change if improperly disposed and not recycled can contaminate one million gallons of fresh water, which is a year's supply for 50 people.

For more information on Recycling Automotive you can go to
Recycle Kit-1 & Recycle Kit-2

Earth Day 2008 - The 3 R's

The 1st R is to Reduce. Reduce the Energy, Water, and Consumer Packaging that you use.

Conserving Energy
Perform a simple energy audit of your home. Ask your parents to let you look at the latest utility/energy bill and ask them to help you read it. Write down the total amount of energy used (kilowatt hours or kWh) on this bill, then think about what you currently do as a family to reduce energy in your home.
Next, see if the simple tips below help make the next full-month’s bill lower.* Because we get most of our energy from fossil fuels and not renewable energy, these energy reduction tips also help lower your carbon footprint.
Turn off any lights that are not in use (especially in a room you are not in).
If you leave a room, turn out the light.
Turn off/unplug any standby power items (especially your computer, television and stereo) when not in use (even standby power uses energy).
Other appliances, such as cell phone chargers, use energy when plugged in regardless of whether they are charging something.
Replace at least one standard light bulb with a compact fluorescent lightbulb (CFL). CFLs use 60 percent less energy than a regular bulb.
Keep the refrigerator door closed (Decide what to eat; decide before opening the door and shut it promptly after retrieving your items).
Keep the thermostat constant at 78 degrees or higher in summer and 68 degrees or lower in winter.
Wash your laundry in cold water.
*Many local utility/energy companies will perform a free, whole-house energy audit, and this may also be a fun project to do as a family to help see further ways you can further reduce energy waste from your home.

Water Savings

As with your family’s electric bill, you can check how many gallons of water you use and see if you can reduce this amount with these simple tips:
Take shorter showers (each minute uses approximately four gallons of water). Shorter showers also save energy because you heat less water.
Turn off the water when brushing your teeth or washing your hands (until ready to rinse). Again, this saves four gallons of water per minute.
Only run the clothes washer and dishwasher with full loads (saves up to .1,000 gallons a month).
Let your parents know about leaky faucets right away so it they can be repaired.
Fixing a leak can save up to 500 gallons a month.
Use a low-flow showerhead.

Consumer Packaging:
Consumer product packaging accounts for about 15 percent of what's discarded. When you purchase a frozen dinner, you are paying for not only the meal but for the outer paperboard box, the plastic or foil tray that holds the meal, and the covering over the food.
You pay again for packaging, directly or indirectly, when your garbage is picked up and disposed of in a landfill or incinerator. Some communities are moving toward "pay-as-you-throw" fees for every bag put out at the curb, so it makes sense to reduce household waste. Composting, recycling, and reusing items all help. And by shopping carefully you can reduce excess packaging that you would throw away.
When practical, buy in bulk. Large families or high product consumption levels support buying in bulk when practical. Products packaged in bulk produce less packaging waste. For example, 48 ounces of applesauce can be purchased in a large glass jar. Or, you can buy individual four-ounce containers packaged in plastic cups with foil lids that come in packages of six. You pay nearly twice the price for the same weight when you buy the individually wrapped product. However, a single person household may have less spoiled food when food purchases are in single-serve packages. Your needs and lifestyle dictate the choice -- your choice.
Choose reusable or recyclable packages. Be familiar with your community's recycling program, and pick products with containers that can be recycled. Let's consider coffee as an example. If you buy 13 ounces of coffee in a metal can, you can recycle the container and possibly the plastic lid. Or, you can buy about 7 ounces of coffee individually wrapped in a disposable coffee filter, which is then packed inside another container. Even if you include the cost of filters with the cost of coffee in the metal can, you are paying about 70 percent more for the single-serve coffee packages. Some may be willing to pay more for convenience or may prefer the product quality found in one package form over another. Again, your knowledgeable choice should guide your purchase decisions.
Avoid excessive packaging. You can pay up to 45 percent more when you buy a product, like fruit or vegetables, that has already been cut up, packaged on a plastic tray, and then shrink-wrapped. Buying the whole fruit or vegetable is cheaper, and you come home with less packaging to throw away.
Pay for the product, not the package. A conventional tube of toothpaste produces about 70 percent less waste by volume, and about 60 percent less waste by weight, than a pump-type toothpaste container. The cost is about the same for both products, but you get nearly 2 ounces more toothpaste in the conventional tube compared to the pump. In the case of the pump, you pay extra for a more attractive container and more convenient or cleaner dispensing of the product.
Instead of "paper or plastic," use a canvas shopping tote or string bag. Or, if you've been saving bags, bring your own to the store, including the small plastic ones you can use for loose produce. Don't forget to bring back extra paper and plastic bags to your supermarket. Many stores will recycle both the plastic and paper bags that are returned by customers. Or use the plastic and paper bags at home; don't just throw them away.

Planet Pals Activity
Earth Day Activity Book

Earth Day 2008 - Plant a Tree

Plant a Tree or purchase trees through the National Arbor Day Foundation to be planted.
Donations can be as little as $1 donation per tree. (Your contribution will help replace trees lost in fire ravaged forests. Every dollar plants a tree.)

Plant-It 2020 is also a nonprofit tree-planting foundation. For every dollar contributed to this foundation a tree will be planted, and the contributor selects where the tree(s) will be planted from an international site list.
You can also send a tree greeting Card at Tree Greetings They will send a greeting card and Plant a tree in the recipients name.

Planting a Tree
Trees can be planted almost any time of the year as long as the ground is not frozen. Late summer or early fall is the optimum time to plant trees in many areas. This gives the tree a chance to establish new roots before winter arrives and the ground freezes. When spring arrives, the tree is ready to grow. The second choice for planting is late winter or early spring. Planting in hot summer weather should be avoided. Planting in frozen soil during the winter is difficult and tough on tree roots. When the tree is dormant and the ground is frozen, there is no opportunity for the growth of new roots.
Trees are purchased as container grown, balled and burlapped (B&B), and bare root. Generally, container grown are the easiest to plant and successfully establish in any season, including summer. With container grown stock, the plant has been growing in a container for a period of time. When planting container grown plants, little damage is done to the roots as the plant is transferred to the soil. Container grown trees range in size from very small plants in gallon pots up to large trees in huge pots. B&B plants frequently have been dug from a nursery, wrapped in burlap, and kept in the nursery for an additional period of time, giving the roots opportunity to regenerate. B&B plants can be quite large. Bare root trees are usually extremely small plants. Because there is no soil on the roots, they must be planted when they are dormant to avoid drying out. The roots must be kept moist until planted. Frequently, bare root trees are offered by seed and nursery mail order catalogs or in the wholesale trade. Many state operated nurseries and local conservation districts also sell bare root stock in bulk quantities for only a few cents per plant. Bare root plants usually are offered in the early spring and should be planted as soon as possible upon arrival. Carefully follow the planting instructions that come with your tree.

If specific instructions are not available, follow these tips:

  • Before digging, call your local utilities to identify the location of any underground utilities.

  • Dig a hole twice as wide as, and slightly shallower than, the root ball. Roughen the sides and bottom of the hole with a pick or shovel so that roots can penetrate the soil.

  • With a potted tree, gently remove the tree from the container. Lay the tree on its side with the container end near the planting hole. Hit the bottom and sides of the container until the root ball is loosened.

  • If roots are growing in a circular pattern around the root ball, slice through the roots on a couple of sides of the root ball.

  • With trees wrapped in burlap, remove the string or wire that holds the burlap to the root crown. It is unnecessary to completely remove the burlap. Plastic wraps must be completely removed.

  • Gently separate circling roots on the root ball. Shorten exceptionally long roots, and guide the shortened roots downward and outward. Root tips die quickly when exposed to light and air, so don't waste time.

  • Place the root ball in the hole. Leave the top of the root ball (where the roots end and the trunk begins) 1/2 to 1 inch above the surrounding soil, making sure not to cover it unless roots are exposed.

  • For bare root plants, make a mound of soil in the middle of the hole and spread plant roots out evenly over mound. Do not set trees too deep.

  • As you add soil to fill in around the tree, lightly tamp the soil to collapse air pockets, or add water to help settle the soil.

  • Form a temporary water basin around the base of the tree to encourage water penetration, and water thoroughly after planting. A tree with a dry root ball cannot absorb water; if the root ball is extremely dry, allow water to trickle into the soil by placing the hose at the trunk of the tree.

  • Mulch around the tree. A 3-foot diameter circle of mulch is common.

  • Depending on the size of the tree and the site conditions, staking may be beneficial. Staking supports the tree until the roots are well established to properly anchor it. Staking should allow for some movement of the tree. After trees are established, remove all support wires. If these are not removed they can girdle the tree, cutting into the trunk and eventually killing the tree.

For the first year or two, especially after a week or so of especially hot or dry weather, watch your trees closely for signs of moisture stress. If you see leaf wilting or hard, caked soil, water the trees well and slowly enough to allow the water to soak in. This will encourage deep root growth. Keep the area under the trees mulched.
Some species of evergreen trees may need protection against winter sun and wind. A thorough watering in the fall before the ground freezes is recommended. Spray solutions are available to help prevent drying of foliage during the winter.
Fertilization is usually not needed for newly planted trees. Depending on soil and growing conditions, fertilizer may be beneficial at a later time.
Young trees need protection against rodents, frost cracks, sunscald, and lawn mowers and weed whackers. Mice and rabbits frequently girdle small trees by chewing away the bark at snow level. Since the tissues that transport nutrients in the tree are located just under the bark, a girdled tree often dies in the spring when growth resumes. Weed whackers are also a common cause of girdling. Plastic guards are an inexpensive and easy control method. Frost cracking is caused by the sunny side of the tree expanding at a different rate than the colder shaded side. This can cause large splits in the trunk. Sunscald can occur when a young tree is suddenly moved from a shady spot into direct sun. Light colored tree wraps can be used to protect the trunk from sunscald.

Coloring Activity-2

Earth Day 2008

Earth Day 2008 falls on Tuesday, April 22: It’s a special day to learn about our planet and how to take care of it. In honor of this I hope to post an article each day leading up to the 22nd with Activities to do around Earth day that will not only teach kids about conservation and recycling but help them to appreciate the world around them. (Kids are filled with wonder and I tend to think that in spending some time with them in the outdoors makes the me appreciate the world we live in more)

For my 1st Earth Day post I will cover a little bit about Earth Day: Earth Day was founded by Mr. John McConnell on March 21, 1970. He writes, “When the Vernal Equinox dawned on me, I immediately knew it was right. The Earth tremor that shook our California dwelling at that moment seemed an omen of confirmation. What could be more appropriate than the first moment of spring, when day and night are equal around the world and hearts and minds can join together with thoughts of harmony and Earth's rejuvenation. Just as a single prayer can be significant, how much more so when hundreds, thousands, millions of people throughout the world join in peaceful thoughts and prayers to nurture neighbor and nature. And so it came to pass we initiated the celebration of Earth Day on March 21, 1970.” Since then People all over the country made promises to help the environment. Everyone got involved and since then, Earth Day has spread all over the planet. People all over the world know that there are problems we need to work on and this is our special day to look at the planet and see what needs changing. Isn't it great? One person had an idea and kept working until everyone began working together to solve it. See what happens when people care about our world?

Earth Day Coloring Page-1

Things to Do this weekend April 12-13

Saturdays Weather forecast is warm but rainy so outdoor plans might be better left for Sunday
There is a show at the Pax Amicus Castle Theatre at 11:00 AM on Saturday. The theatre is out by Budd Lake so you will need to get an early start to your morning
The Golden Goose
SaturdayApril 12, 2008 11:00 AM
ShowTickets $12.00
A young hero, thought simple by his brothers, a discovery of a very special goose, stick-to-it-ness, a princess who cannot laugh, all add up to a very happy ending

The Newark Museum has a bunch of events including their Special Event the American Girl Weekend Saturday, April 12 & Sunday, April 13 10:30 am & 3:30 pm (each day)
Each show consists of a two-part runway fashion show, highlighting the historical American Girl characters and their unique stories as well as contemporary fashions.
At intermission, everyone is invited to an ice cream social in the Engelhard Court.
Intermission is also a time to purchase tickets for a chance to win an American Girl doll or other prizes. Each show has its own raffle of dolls and accessories.
Tickets are $30. There are special seating packages available.

Story time at Barnes and Noble
Clifton Commons
April 12, 2008 11:00 AM
395 Route 3 East Clifton, NJ 07014

Borders Interactive storytime.
April 12, 2008 11:00 AM
1642 Schlosser Street Ft. Lee, NJ 07024
Phone: 201.302.0815

For the outdoors you can checkout the Lorrimer Sanctuary Part of the New Jersey Audubon Society
790 Ewing Avenue Franklin Lakes, NJ 07417 (201) 891-2185
The main house, parts of which date back to the late 1700's, is the present visitors' center and Sanctuary office.
The visitors' center has an exhibit and lecture room, winter bird feeding station, interpretive displays, hands-on exhibits, and a gift shop, the proceeds of which benefit the Sanctuary.
There is a self-guiding trail system that winds through the 14 acres of land. Much of the acreage is second-growth woods (mostly oak, maple, ash, and beech); and small stands of planted evergreens. The trails are open during Sanctuary hours.
Wednesday through Friday 9-5, Saturday 10-5, Sunday 1-5
Closed Mondays, Tuesdays and major holidays
Directions to Lorrimer Sanctuary:
From Route 287 (North or South): Take exit for Rt. 208 South and follow directions below.
From Rt. 208 (North or South): Take the Ewing Avenue Exit. Go South on Ewing Avenue through a blinker and a traffic light (intersection of Franklin Lakes Road). Proceed 200 yds. to our driveway on the right side (approximately 1 mile from Rt. 20 8).
From Ramsey/Mahwah Area: Come across Wyckoff Avenue to Franklin Avenue in the center of Wyckoff. Turn right at the light, go approximately 11/2 miles to Ewing Avenue. Turn left onto Ewing Avenue, go under Rt. 208, then proceed as above.
From Paterson area: Take Belmont Avenue to High Mountain Road in Franklin Lakes. Go past Haledon Reservoir on right, then turn right on Ewing Avenue. Go approximately 1 mile. Our driveway is on the left side.

If your up for a drive 68 miles from the George Washington Bridge you can checkout
Lakota Wolf Preserve - Visitors to the Lakota Wolf Preserve can observe wild wolves, bobcats and foxes in their natural habitat from an observation deck or take guided photography tours.

Space Farms Zoo & Museum - Space Farms is New Jersey's largest combined Zoo and Museum and offers educational fun for all ages. The zoo features over 500 animals of more than 100 different species.

Sterling Hill Mining Museum - Sterling Hill is one of two mines that make up one of the most renowned mining districts in the world. The Sterling Hill Mining Museum is a world famous underground zinc mine that is open for tours.

Future Upcoming Events on Kidzense

Tick Bites

This weekend after a hike with my daughter I found a tick on her. I had a tick on myself before but it is different when it is your child I tried to remove it without her noticing what was going on. That did not work (The tick was attached pretty good) and when she realized that she had a bug on her she became upset. So the 1st thing I had to do was calm her down so that I could remove the tick in one piece.

Here are some tips for removing a tick.
Used a fine tipped tweezersgrasp the head of the tick close to the skin.
Firmly and Steadily pull the tick straight out of the skin. Do not twist the tick or rock it from side to side while removing it.
A great tool for tick removal can be found at:
After removal put the tick in Alcohol to kill it. Do not use petroleum Jelly or a hot match to kill and remove the tick.
Wash your hands and the site of the bite with Soap and Water
Swab the bite with Alcohol

Call the Doctor if:
The tick may have been on the skin for more than 24 hours
Part of the tick remains in the skin after attempted removal
The child develops a rash of any kind especially a red bulls-eye rash
The Bite site looks Infected (Red, Swelling, Warm, pain, or oozing Pus)
The Child develops symptoms like fever, headache, fatigue, chills, stiff neck, back, muscle, or joint pain.

When Playing in wooded areas Children should wear long sleeve shirt and pants. Having your child wear light color clothing can help you to identify ticks on your child. A insect repelent with Deet. Check your child after play outside especially on their scalp, neck, behind their ears, armpits, and groin.

Additional Information:
Ticks are important vectors of organisms causing disease in humans. Some common southeastern species are lone star tick, American dog tick, brown dog tick, and blacklegged tick. Among the diseases that are transmitted by ticks, Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), Lyme disease (LD), and ehrlichiosis are the most noted. Symptoms of RMSF include fever, headache and rash. The rash usually develops a few days after infection, around the wrist, ankles and on the back. Initial symptoms feign those of the common flu and many victims often delay going to a physician. A bacteria-like organism called a rickettsia causes RMSF. Not all ticks are infected with the organism but it only takes one infected tick bite to contract it.

Lyme disease is caused by a spirochete and is characterized by a distinctive skin lesion in about 65% of the cases. The skin lesion is called erythema migrans (EM) and appears from 3 days to 1 month after the bite. Victims usually suffer with headaches, fever, arthritic-like pain, and a stiff neck. Several tick species in the South can transmit RMSF and LD, but the blacklegged tick is most often associated with LD
Human monocytic ehrlichiosis (HME), and human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (HGE) are transmitted by ticks. Both types cause fever, headache, chills, sweating, muscle aches, nausea and vomiting. Antibiotic therapy is effective if started early in the course of infection. The lone star tick is suspected of being the primary vector in the southeastern U.S.
the following preventative measures to reduce their exposure to ticks:
(1) wear light colored clothing so that ticks can be seen crawling,
(2) keep clothes buttoned, tuck legs of pants in top of socks to prevent ticks from crawling underneath where they can’t be seen,
(3) use a repellent containing permethrin to spray on boots and outer clothing; repellents containing DEET can be applied to exposed skin areas (do not apply permethrin to the skin),
(4) inspect the outer clothing several times a day for ticks,
(5) once home remove clothing immediately and place directly into washer,
(6) if working out of town and staying in a hotel remove clothes and seal in a plastic bag,
(7) children who have been playing in tick infested areas or with pets should be inspected thoroughly all over for ticks (including hair and groin areas).
Ticks should be removed with tweezers or forceps. If parts of the mouth are left in the skin, local irritation can persist for weeks. The mouth is anchored in with barbs and cemented saliva. It is not an easy job to remove an imbedded tick. Unattached ticks can be lifted with adhesive tape. If a tick(s) is found on your body or a family member’s and you feel it has been attached for six or more hours, you need to be wary if any flu-like symptoms or rashes appear over the next few days. If so, call your physician and get an examination. Ticks are more likely to vector a disease organism after being attached for six or more hours (some experts argue 24 hours, but don’t take a chance). So quick detection and removal is very wise. Children often lose their appetites and are irritable if infected, so be a nosy parent and ask questions and always think tick in the active season.

for more information visit:

Flexible Spending and Child Tax Credit

Its tax time and a good time to review your plan for the upcoming year. Flexible Spending Accounts are something you should take advantage of if your benefits program offers it.

There are 2 common FSA one for medical expenses and one for dependent care expenses both have money taken out of your pre-tax dollars (So there is a benefit of not being taxed on earnings that are allocated to these expected expenses) Some companies also offer some money (usually around 250.00) If you participate in these programs. FSA for medical expenses can be used for Deductibles, Over the Counter Medications, Prescribed medications etc.

Currently, the IRS allows you to contribute up to $5,000 per year ($2,500 per year if married and filing separately) to a Dependent Care FSA for work-related dependent care expenses. Estimate what your daycare expenses will be for the year, and allocate enough from your pay to cover them. (Aetna has a FSA Savings calculator that can be useful)
The IRS does not limit contributions to a Health Care FSA, but many employers limit contributions to between $2,500 and $5,000. Your enrollment materials will specify a maximum annual amount you can set aside in your account.Consider last year's health-related expenses, including medical, dental, vision or pharmacy costs you foresee that might not be covered under your health plan. Also consider any changes in your family status that might have an impact on these expenses.
If you elect to take advantage of a Dependent Care FSA, you must complete IRS Form 2441 when filing your income taxes for the year. Your employer will report all dependent care contributions in Section 10 of your W-2 Form(s).
Dependent care FSA can be used to cover costs of Daycare and After School care and other programs. A more complete list can be found by clicking here HERE.
One of the downsides to FSA's are that they are a use it or loose it benefit meaning if you fund the dependent care FSA but do not file a claim in the required time frame you will loose the money you have allocated.
You pay your caregiver directly and get a receipt. Complete a Dependent Care Reimbursement Claim form and attach the receipt or have the caregiver sign the form. Send it in as instructed on your insurance companies form, and they will send you a check (or direct deposit) for your eligible expenses.
Under IRS regulations, you can only be reimbursed for incurred expenses. For example, you can submit January's dependent care expenses in February for reimbursement.
Some Medical Insurance companies will automatically reimburse you for qualified out of pocket expenses up to your FSA plan maximum.
There are some forms that need to be filed with your Tax filing around FSA so it is a good idea to have received your benefits prior to filing to keep things neat and in the same filing year. You can find answers to some Frequently asked Questions at Here.
Wikepedia on FSA

Note: This is just an account of some of my experiences any information contained here should not be taken as fact you should consult a tax professional before making any decision.

Things to Do this weekend April 4-6

Outdoor Activities:
Tenafly Nature Center: Lost Brook Preserve Trail
Preview: Before starting your hike, stop in at the Tenafly Nature Center to learn about the animals, birds, and insects of the adjoining woods. A naturalist is usually available to answer questions, and should you need additional information after the hike, you can return to browse through the library’s collection of nature books. The forest understory is aglow with wildflowers each spring, and there’s an excellent possibility of spotting eastern painted turtles or wood ducks. On a sunny day be sure to scan Pfisters Pond for the northern ring-necked snake and the northern brown snake basking in the sun. Waterproof, sturdy shoes are recommended to protect feet against rocky and swampy areas. Food isn’t allowed on the trail, but there is a picnic table adjacent to the parking area.

Indoor Activities
Interactive Storytime
Join us every Saturday morning for a fun filled interactive storytime. Bring the whole family and discover Borders!
April 5, 2008 11:00 AM
Location: In Store
Ft. Lee
1642 Schlosser Street
Ft. Lee, NJ
Phone: (201) 302-0815

Barnes & Noble Booksellers - Clifton
weekly storytime
April 05, 2008 11:00 AM
Clifton Commons 395 Route 3 East Clifton, NJ 07014

Newark Museum
Performance: WBGO's Children's Jazz Concert Series
Saturday, April 5, 12:30–2 pm
For further information, call 973-624-8880.