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Simple guidelines to keep your kids safe online

While on-line computer exploration opens a world of possibilities for children, expanding their horizons and exposing them to different cultures and ways of life, they can be exposed to dangers as they hit the road exploring the information highway. There are individuals who attempt to sexually exploit children through the use of on-line services and the Internet.
A recent study by the University of New Hampshire showed that one in five young people using the Internet received an online sexual solicitation in a one-year period. In an alarming 15% of those cases, the solicitor attempted to meet the child in person.

Keep Current
with technology. You don't have to be an expert, but a little understanding goes a long way towards keeping your child safe online.
Get basic technical training and learn about new products as they're released.

Keep Communicating
with your children about everything they experience on the Internet. Know their lingo, and ask when you don't understand something. Work to keep communication lines open.

Keep Checking
your children's Internet activity. Know where they go online. Let them know that you'll keep checking because you want them to understand that the Internet is a public forum and never truly private. You don’t have to be a computer expert to keep your child safe online. iKeepSafe has created resources for each age group to help your family have a safe, healthy and enjoyable experience using connected technologies.

3 Things to teach your Children about Internet Safety

Inappropriate Contact –Teach kids how to recognize and protect themselves against contact with cyber-bullies, hackers, phishers, and predators. People aren't always who they say they are. Teach kids to keep away from Internet strangers: the Internet is a place to enhance existing relationships, not a place to meet new people.
Inappropriate Content- This includes both content that is viewed and content that is uploaded by kids. Help kids understand that the Internet is forever: everything they post online is tracked and stored and will follow them to future job interviews and college entrance interviews.
Inappropriate Conduct – Because the web environment can feel anonymous, some youth become dis-inhibited. Teach kids that the Internet is a public forum: anonymity is a myth. Help them be the good person online that they are when they’re off line.

Avoiding Internet Predators:
Keep user names and profiles generic and anonymous.
Discuss your child’s online screen name, profile, and activities. Many provide too much personal information. Ensure all screen names and profiles are nonspecific.
• Avoid posting personal photos online.
Pictures can be altered to embarrass or humiliate. They also provide personal information that can help an Internet predator act familiar by pretending to know you, your children, and/or their friends.
• Always keep private information private.
With just three pieces of personal information, specialized Internet search engines can be used to locate someone anywhere. Internet conversations should never include any personal information.
• Place the family computer in an open area.
A responsible adult should always accompany minors while they access the Internet to provide support and direction should they be confronted with an aggressive solicitation or inappropriate materials.
• Remind children that online "friends" are still strangers.
Predators trick their victims into believing that they have similar interests and groom children to desire a more intimate relationship. The reality is that online friends are still strangers, and your child can never be sure that the person is who he or she says.
• Respect children’s privacy.
Respect your child’s privacy, but make certain he or she knows everyone on his or her e-mail or instant messenger "Buddy" list. Work to generate parent and child trust that supports open and honest Internet use.
Become a part of your child’s online experience.
It can be a fun journey to explore the wonders of the Internet as a family. As computer-savvy as kids and teens are today, they will certainly teach you a thing or two!
• Be aware of phone calls or mail deliveries from unfamiliar persons.
Predators often call or send gifts to their potential victims in their process of grooming.
Learn about the Internet.
The more you know about how the Internet works, the better prepared you are to teach your children about how online predators operate and what you can do together to identify and elude them.

Resource Links:

Kid Safe Links

Major Children's Guides & Directories

The kid-safe directories below use human beings to filter out sites that might be considered objectionable for viewing by children.
Ask Jeeves For Kids
Ask Jeeves is a unique service where you enter a question, and Ask Jeeves tries to point you to the right web page that provides an answer. At Ask Jeeves For Kids, answers have been vetted for appropriateness. Also, if Ask Jeeves cannot answer a question, it pulls results from various search engines in its metacrawler mode. At Ask Jeeves For Kids, no site that is on the CyberPatrol block list is supposed to be listed.
Backed by librarians, KidsClick lists about 5,000 web sites in various categories.
Yahooligans Yahoo for kids, designed for ages 7 to 12. Sites are hand-picked to be appropriate for children. Also, unlike normal Yahoo, searches will not bring back matched found by crawling the web, if there is no match from within the Yahooligan listings. This prevents possibly objectionable sites from slipping onto the screen. Additionally, adult-oriented banner advertising will not appear within the service. Yahooligans is the oldest major directory for children, launched in March 1996.

Other Children's Search Engines

ALA Great Web Site for Kids
An organized directory of sites selected by members of the American Library Association usingrigorous evaluation guidelines to assure high quality content, authority and "strength of character."
Awesome Library
Over 14,000 sites have been classified into a directory, specifically organized for teachers, students and parents. Information can be found by browsing or searching.
Billed as an ad free, non-commercial directory of web sites designed for child-safe searching.
Education World
Over 500,000 sites of interest to educators. Browsable or searchable, with the ability to narrow in by appropriate grade level. Launched in spring 1996.
Fact Monster
Reference provider Information Please produces this site which provides facts and information oriented around the needs of children.
FirstGov for Kids
From the U.S. Federal Citizen Information Center, this directory provides links to government-related kids' sites along with some of the best kids' sites from other organizations, grouped by subject.
Kids Search Tools
Search a variety of kid-safe search engines from a single page.
Index of pages built by crawling education web sites.
Directory of web sites for teachers and educators.
TekMom's Search Tools for Students
All-in-one search page for kid search sites and research resources.
ThinkQuest Library
A free educational resource featuring 5,500+ websites created by students around the world as part of a competition.

Ultimate Kid Safe Search Page

Savings for Circus and Mary Poppins

Get tickets to opening night for $13 or save 20% on tickets for all other performances! A high-energy circus extravaganza featuring the mischievous, yet endearing, comic daredevil Bello. He performs alongside exotic animals including majestic Asian elephants, Royal Bengal and white tigers, as well as an international cast of gravity-defying acrobats, all in an electrifying story line. Circus-goers will witness jaw-dropping stunts, high wire high jinx, adrenaline-pounding trapeze, and more.
To take advantage of this special offer, enter the following code into the Special Offers and Promotions Box: TMRED

, Broadway's perfectly magical musical. With this special offer, a family of four can experience the magic for as little as $100!
To take advantage of this offer, enter the following password into the "Promotions and Special Offers" box on the purchase page: TMAT

Savings at Osh Kosh

50-70% off savings going on in stores now! Kids and babies sizes 3M-16. Plus, don’t miss The Genuine Deal - boy’s infant & toddler cargo pants - just $9 each for a limited time only.
at Osh Kosh B'Gosh

Weekend Planner Sept. 27-28 (NYC)

This Weekend with the weather being wet I thought we would take a trip across the Hudson for some Activities I threw in a boat trip since Sunday may turn out okay.
Enjoy and if you don't want to go to NYC there are some New Jersey activities as well.

New York
These interactive shows offer a fun encounter with science that the whole family will enjoy. Help Dr. Nebula’s apprentice, Scooter, figure out the mysteries of natural phenomena. (Recommended for families with children ages 4 and up)

Planetary Vacation Saturday, September 27
2:00-3:00 p.m.
Kaufmann Theater, first floor
$8 children, $10 adults
Code: RC092708

South Street Seaport:
Enjoy spectacular harbor views aboard the South Street Seaport Museum's historic 1885 schooner Pioneer
Pioneer was originally built in Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania in 1885 to carry sand mined near the mouth of the Delaware Bay to an iron foundry in Chester, Pennsylvania. She was re-rigged as a schooner ten years later when the sloop rig lost favor, primarily for economic reasons—the large single sail took more crew members to handle than the smaller sails of the two-masted rig.

Or Sail on the 1930 tug W.O. Decker,
The wooden tugboat W.O. Decker was built in Long Island City, Queens in 1930 for the Newtown Creek Towing Company. The W. O. Decker, is the perfect venue for intimate celebrations of up to twelve people. Pack a picnic lunch or dinner for an excursion you'll never forget. Explore the hidden corners of New York Harbor’s working waterfront on our four- and six-hour tug travels excursions aboard the Decker.
sailing throughout Fall 2008 from East River Pier 16.
CLICK_HERE to purchase tickets.

This weekends Sailing Schedule
Saturday Pioneer: 1-3 PM - Public Sails; adults $25, student/seniors $20, children 12 and under $15 4-6 PM - Public Sails; adults $35, student/seniors $30, children 12 and under $25 7-9 PM - Public Sails; adults $35, student/seniors $30, children 12 and under $25
W.O. Decker: 10 AM -2 PM - Tugboat Tours; Brooklyn Waterfront; $115 per person, $100 for members 6-8 PM - Public Sails; $40 per person, $35 for members

Sunday Pioneer: 1-3 PM - Public Sails; adults $25, student/seniors $20, children 12 and under $154-6 PM - Public Sails; adults $35, student/seniors $30, children 12 and under $25 7-9 PM - Public Sails; adults $35, student/seniors $30, children 12 and under $25
W.O. Decker: 2:30-4:30 PM - Public Sail; $40 per person, $35 for members 6-8 PM - Public Sails; $40 per person, $35 for members

New York Aquarium
The only aquarium in New York City and part of the largest network of metropolitan wildlife parks in the country
With exhibits featuring over 8,000 animals, the Aquarium offers diversity, superb viewing, and world-renowned scientific expertise that assures a rewarding experience.
New York Aquarium is located on Surf Avenue & West 8th Street
in Brooklyn, NY 11224.
For further information please call 718-265-FISH.

The Children's Museum of the Arts:
The Children's Museum of the Arts provides stimulating, interactive exhibitions and programs for children under ten years old, encouraging them to develop their full creative potential through the visual and performing arts.
The CMA is like an art studio for kids. The exhibits are actually workspaces where children can experiment with creating their own art and there are plenty of materials for sculpting and making collages. Everything in the museum is cut to half size, so parents might feel a little cramped.
The CMA is a good place to go if you’re visiting New York City with young children. With all of the different exhibits for children to play with, a stop at the CMA could last several hours. DAILY INTERACTIVE EXHIBITS
1) Creative Play Area is designed for children five and under, and includes the Art House for slide viewing, the WEE (Wondrous, Experimenting and Exploring) Art Station, and other interactive exhibits.
2) The Artist’s Studio is designed for children over five, and is reminiscent of a working artist’s studio. Children find daily art projects that encourage problem solving and exploration of a variety of artistic materials. The Artist’s Studio also welcomes artists from the community to work side-by-side with children.
3) The Actor’s Studio offers costumes, musical instruments and story starters to encourage character development and expression of ideas through acting.
4) The Ball Pond is designed as a kinesthetic experience for all children to allow movement and motor skill play. It is a cushioned area filled with large, brightly colored physioballs. The surrounding environment evokes the feeling of being surrounded by water through the color, light and texture of materials used. Often used as a warm-up activity, the Ball Pond allows children to get comfortable in the Museum.
5) Magnetic Masterpieces are reproductions of famous artworks, cut into magnetic puzzle pieces, and displayed for children to arrange. These large-format puzzles focus on the three themes of portraiture, landscape, and abstraction, and showcase artists of diverse age, gender, and race. Information about the artist and the era in which he/she lived is available, and this activity has proven to be a successful method for parents and children to talk about art.

New Jersey
Join Blue, and his friend Steve as they search for clues that lead to "The Most Spectacular Place" in Nick Jr.'s "Blue's Clues Live!" on Saturday the 27th at 11 a.m. and 1:00 pm at the Pax Amicus Castle Theatre,
23 Lake Shore Road, Budd Lake.
The show features many of Blue's friends from the Nick Jr. pre-school show.
Tickets are $12. Call (973) 691-2100.

Westfield Garden State Plaza Shopping Centre
One Garden State Plaza
Paramus NJ 07652
(201) 843 2121

The Garden State Mall can be a fun outing on a rainy day the Mall has a Carousel, Borders Books with a large children's section, and a movie theatre (in case you haven't seen IGOR).

Van Saun Park is about 5-7 miles NorthEast of the Mall so if the Sun comes out you can head over there and go to the Children's Zoo the playground may be too wet.
This great zoo, located in Van Saun County Park, is home to a wide variety of wild and domestic animals, living in recreated habitats natural to each species. The grounds are well-maintained, and the animals well cared for.
This zoo has many different species of birds, some exotic and rare, such as the endangered Andean condor. Reptiles, like the Red-footed Tortoise, the Green Iguana, Boa Constrictor, and American Alligator will be found here, as will mammals such as the Ferret, Opossum, Arctic Fox, American Bison, Mountain Lion, Golden Lion, Tamarin, and many, many others.
The Farmyard with domestic animals such as chickens, geese, sheep, goats, pigs, cows, and a great Belgian Draft Horse and the North American Wetlands Aviary are just two of the special exhibits here that draw 500,000 visitors annually.

Edgewater Cinema - Children's Matinee: Dora the explorer at 10:00 AM

Fort Lee Historic Park
Hudson Terrace Fort Lee, NJ 07024
(201) 461-1776
Selected as a site to help defend New York and the Hudson Valley against the onslaught of the British during the Revolution, Fort Lee Historic Park today stands as a monument to those who battled for independence.
The Visitors' Center provides information on the role of Fort Lee in the War. Audio-visual displays, detailed exhibits, and a short film present the story of how General George Washington was forced to evacuate the area in November of 1776 and begin his famous retreat through New Jersey during the winter of 1776-77.

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Wayne cop wants his loss to be a life-saving lesson

WAYNE, NJ — Township Police Officer Joseph Rude and his family lost everything Sunday when staining rags he tossed into the garbage spontaneously ignited into a devastating fire.

But instead of being overwhelmed by the loss of their Forest Terrace home, Rude and his wife Paulette want a tragic mistake to serve as a life-saving lesson to others. And in turn, that kind of selflessness has prompted a massive community response to help the couple and their four children, who range in age from 11 months to 7 years.

“If I can help one other person say: ‘I should read the label a little better, or be more careful,’’’ Joseph Rude said. “If I had taken the extra two minutes, my children would be home with a babysitter and not with my parents [where we’re staying].’’

Rude had used a Cabot brand stain on his porch, it has a warning label that advises users to soak the rags in water before disposing of them, police Capt. Paul Ireland said. Township fire officials say that stain rags can spontaneously catch fire, and they advise residents to soak them before discarding.

Tom Daniels, a marketing director for Valspar, the company that owns Cabot, said warning labels on the products advise users to discard rags in sealed metal containers filled with water.

Other times Rude stained his porch, he followed those directions to the letter. But the father of four was rushing through a weekend of long overdue housework. He said he stained the porch on Saturday and tossed the rags on top of an open garbage can, about a foot from the house. He meant to go back and dispose of them later, but didn’t.

“I was trying to squeeze 100 hours of projects into a day’s worth of work,’’ Rude said.

On Sunday night he went to the hospital because he had pain in his arm. He said a nurse in the emergency room rushed him through — and thereby might be responsible for having saving his family’s life: After a speedy checkup found that he was fine, he returned home around 11 p.m., — just in time to spot a glow. At first he thought his children had left on a basement light; as he drove nearer, he realized the garbage can with the rags, up against the house, had caught fire and the flames were spreading to the lattice under the porch.

He ran out of his van so quickly, he left the keys in the ignition. He darted up to the house and rang the doorbell to wake his wife and children. Ireland said neighbors heard him screaming to his family to get out of the house.

They made is safely to a neighbors before the Rudes’ entire house was engulfed in flames. A propane tank stored under the porch exploded, and the tires of his wife’s car parked in the driveway burst in the inferno, Rude said.

Firefighters arrived quickly, but the house was destroyed in the blaze, Ireland said — “The family lost everything, except what they were wearing. Everything was in the house.’’

The family now is staying with nearby relatives. Paulette Rude is grateful the loss was not much worse. She used the word “lucky’’ several times when she talked about the fire. She said what they lost was “stuff’’ and believes her husband was a hero because he got the family out of the house instead of trying to put out the fire when he returned home.

“He is the person who was using the rags, so he is feeling guilty and taking a lot of the blame,’’ Paulette Rude said. “But we have angels above. His timing and smart moves and logical thinking saved six people.’’

And the couple wants to make their loss a lesson for others. “We have a new purpose: to send a message. Everyone is going to make sure to dispose of the containers and not get sidetracked,’’ she said. “His mistakes could save other people’s lives, and he will tell everyone.’’

How to Raise a Reading Champ!

In a previous article I wrote about some of the merits of The Whole Language Approach and some of it's shortcomings. The debate between the merits and detriments of Whole Language vs. Phonics has gone on for many years and in the 80's the debate was reinvigorated.
Today the debate continues but many experts agree that a combination of these approaches at the correct times will create the best results. Providing your child with the tools necessary to read while fostering a sense of enjoyment and enthusiasm for reading.
Children cannot learn to read without an understanding of phonics. All children must know their ABCs and the sounds that letters make in order to communicate verbally. The question in early childhood programs is not whether to teach "phonics" or "whole language learning," but how to teach phonics in context—rather than in isolation—so that children make connections between letters, sounds, and meaning.
Phonics should not be taught as a separate "subject" with emphasis on drills and rote memorization. The key is a balanced approach and attention to your child's individual needs. Many children's understanding of phonics will arise from their interest, knowledge, and ideas. Others will benefit from more formal instruction. There are many opportunities to teach the sound a letter makes when children have reason to know. For example, the first letter a child learns typically is the first letter of her name.
Parents should read familiar and favorite stories (poems, rhymes, etc.) to their children again and again, during a shared reading experience. When a child can see the text and see the reader point to words as they are spoken it facilitates the learning of words and of letter/sound patterns, as well as an understanding of print and how it is read in English.
By engaging in activities that reinforce letter/sound relationships, as part of the shared reading experience children are better able to exhibit an understanding of these letter/sound relationships .

Reading is one of the most important cognitive skills your child will learn. Their ability to read, their level of comprehension, and the enjoyment they get from reading will be determining factor in their future ability to learn.
As parents and caregivers, you can help lay down the foundation for a love of reading and nurture children's development. Here are some things you can do to raise a lifelong reader:
Talk, Sing, and Play
Babies delight in hearing language. Talk as you do simple everyday things together: recite nursery rhymes, and do finger plays, games and action songs.
Make Time to Read
Try to read with your child every day at a regularly scheduled time. If possible, choose a time when you can be relaxed and not rushed. If you have more than one child, spend time reading with each child separately, especially if they're more than two years apart. On days that are particularly hectic, bring a few books when you take children along on errands. Taking time to read to children on a regular basis sends the message that reading is worthwhile.
One More Time...PLEASE?!
As every adult who cares for children knows, they often ask to hear the same story again and again. They delight in knowing what comes next and often learn a favorite book so well that they can "read" it on their own. That favorite story may speak to your child's current interests and emotional needs, so it's important for the adults in their lives to be patient during this phase. Young children are eventually ready for different stories if they are continuously exposed to a variety of books.
Slow Down
It's not just what you read to children, but how you read that matters. If adults rush through stories or read without enthusiasm, children quickly lose interest. Try to read with expression and use different voices for the characters. Reading at a leisurely pace with occasional pauses gives children time to take in what they hear, mull it over, and imagine the people, places, and events. Pose a question or make a remark that will prompt the child to think, express themselves, or relate the story to their own experiences. It's also a good idea to follow children's cues. Sometimes they are caught up in the story and don't want stops or detours along the way.
Choose Books with Care
Reading together often, you learn a lot about the kinds of books your child likes and understands. Visit the local library and involve your child in deciding what to bring home. Selecting books that relate to what's happening in the child's life at that time is a good way to ease transitions and allay fears about upcoming events. Topics such as potty training, new siblings, adoption, or moving to a new home are covered in a variety of books that are written specifically for young children.
Surround Children with Reading Material
In addition to library books, children also like having some books of their own that they can read whenever the mood strikes them. Affordable used books can be found at yard sales, thrift stores, secondhand book stores, and public library book sales. Consider subscribing to a good children's magazine--children love having something come in the mail just for them!
Show That You Value Their Efforts
Nothing is more important for fostering readers than showing genuine enthusiasm. Ask your child to read to you, a younger child, or a special visitor. Talk with him about what he is reading and respond positively.
Reading Coping Strategies:
One concern that has been raised is that children who seem to be successful early readers later have reading problems. Some of these children may have dyslexia or other learning disabilities or they may have been unable to hear the proper sounds when being taught to decode words in their frustration they decide to memorize a large number of words but by the time they reach the 2nd or 3rd grade the number and complexity of words has become to difficult to memorize. The Coping strategy that has served them well for the past few years has left them without the phonological vocabulary that they need in order to continue their reading development.

Sight Words:

A sight word is any word that is known by a reader automatically. Sight words are pronounced without decoding the word's spelling. A common first sight word is a child's given name. Beginning readers are at an advantage when they learn to read sight words that occur frequently in print such as those included on the Dolch and Fry word lists.
It is possible to read a word on sight but not know the meaning of the word. For example, a child might be able to read on sight "there, their and they're" but not understand the differences in meaning.
In phonics instruction, sight words refer to common words where one or more phonemes in the word has a unique spelling that cannot be sounded out using common phonics rules (for example: aunt, friend, and sieve).
Reading researcher Diane McGuinness estimates that there are approximately 100 common words in English which fit this description, and require specific word-level memorization. This amount is far less than the 220 sight words listed on the
Dolch word list.
The Dolch Word List is a list of often used words put together by Edward Dolch, PhD. There's like 220 words, split into school grade levels. They originally appeared in his book "Problems in Reading" published in 1948.

Resources Used in writing this article:

The Best Laid Plans

On Fridays I generally post the Weekend planner.

This is one of my favorite blog topics because It is something I usually don't write from personal experience. I develop the list from various subscriptions, feeds, and other research. Like most of you when I read the planner I am inspired or intrigued to want to try some of the activities on the list. This past weekend was a bit different, while the post had some local activities and even a movie (Igor) there was also a plan for a trip to Pennsylvania. I had included PA because we had tickets for a Day out with Thomas in Strasburg . The Trip to Strasburg from NYC is about 3 hours by Car, So we decided to make it a weekend trip.

On Saturday we drove to Valley Forge National Historical Park.
Z and I hooked up the Bike trailer and set out for some site seeing (and a little exercise for Dad)

During our trip we stopped to Play hide-and-seek in and around some of the log houses where the Continental army was housed between December of 1777 and June of 1778.

The bike path is a great place to ride or walk it is about 5 miles and works it's way around and through many of the sites to see at the Park including the Encampments, Canon Batteries, the Chapel, and the Memorial.

At night we went to the King of Prussia Mall for Dinner there are a number of restaurants there including national chains like TGI Fridays and The Fox and the Hound Pub. We stayed at a Courtyard Hotel which had a pool (always a good idea when traveling with kids). On Sunday we continued our trip driving about 40 minutes to Strasburg for our 12:30 Scheduled trip on Thomas.

Although we had a good plan and were able to see and do quite a bit there was plenty that we did not do including the Valley Forge Trolley Tour - There is a special tour that happens at 5:00 PM on certain days this includes a Trolley tour, Dinner, and campfire stories call 610-783-1074 for more information and to book tour. Valley Forge could be a weekend in itself.

In Strasburg we did not visit the Choo Choo Barn which has 150 hand-built animated figures and vehicles and 22 operating trains.

Have a place that you would like to visit and want some ideas or have some travel stories or trips you want to share drop us a note at Kidzense

Photo Album from our trip to Valley Forge

A Day Out with Thomas

Sunday we went to the Strasburg Railroad for A Day out with Thomas.
The event was filled with fun activities. Obviously the Main Attraction was the ride on a Train with Thomas the very useful engine pulling us along.

There were also tents setup with different activities like There was Hand train in which kids could propel themselves around the track on a Hand cranked sit on train car.

Some other tents had a temporary tattoos, Thomas tracks setup puzzles, and toys and a musician playing kids songs.

Here is a picture of one of the Bloodhounds. He was at a booth for the K9's used in rescue missions. He seems pretty disinterested in all the Thomas Hoopla but was really friendly and received lots of pets from the kids passing by.

There were many other opportunities for train rides such as miniature steam engine, a hand train, a 2 level caboose and various other train rides.

There is a Motel called the Little Red Caboose Motel where all of the Rooms a train Cars - We did not stay there but it looked really neat. I have read some mixed reviews for this place and some were really bad but it seems like ownership was changed in 2006 and the place is much better now.

Here is a Video from our Day Out - We loved it :)

Z-girls Tomato Plant

You planted the seeds, but they would not grow

If not for the care, that you did show

You watered and Fed it and gave it plenty of light

Now you have a ripe tomato, a culinary delight

So smile and be proud of this not so small feat

and enjoy this bright red tasty treat!

Movie Review: I G O R

We went to see Igor today it is rated PG so you may not want to take really young children. There are a few scenes that could be scary for them, but overall we laughed a lot. There are also some scenes that are not suitable for young children due to their subject matter.
For instance Scamper (Steve Buscemi) is a cynical rabbit like creature that is immortal, but has lost his desire to live. Throughout the movie he makes quite a few attempts to end his life. Brain (Sean Hayes) aka Brian (because he wrote his name wrong on his jar with permanent marker) is a dim-witted and laughable character with a good heart. Eva (Molly Shannon), the "Monster" does not turn out quite as planned because her evil bone was never activated, instead she is a sweet creature who couldn't hurt a fly.

Synopsis: Igor (John Cusack) is one of many Igor's (a name bestowed on all hunchbacks of Malaria). Igors are the sidekicks to Evil Scientists with a job description that consists mainly of pulling the switch!
Malaria used to be a beautiful Sunny farming village until it became covered by a perpetual dark clouds.
King Malbern (Jay Leno), devised a plan to resuscitate the village by fostering a race of Evil Scientists. Every year they have an Evil science fair to determine the most devastating creation with which to Blackmail the world. The winner of the Science fair for all the past years has been Dr. Schadenfreude (Eddie Izzard). He is somewhat modeled after Dr. Frank-N-Furter from the Rocky Horror Picture Show (minus the sexuality)

Bottom Line: This is a lighthearted and kid friendly movie in the style of The Nightmare before Christmas, The movie sits somewhere between the G and PG rating.
I would not recommend Igor for really young children. Not so much because it is scary but because of some of the topics such as: Suicide, Stealing, Mild Violence, and Issues with Parental relationships.
The movie is probably appropriate for children seven or older.
My four year old really liked it but I did wish some scenes were not being viewed by her.
To help you decide if this movie is appropriate for your child checkout:
I personally really enjoyed Igor and laughed quite a bit. The Animation is what we have come to expect of computer animated features from a Pixar or Dreamworks although this movie was made by Independent production Company Exodus.
Overall I would recommend Igor as a family (especially with older kids) or Date movie.

Let's get ready for the Weekend

The Weekend is here and rather than just throw out a bunch of events (Which I will do) I also want to share some ideas.

Cherish your time together:
This time that you have is a gift you will never have the exact same day again.
Be in the moment: When you leave the office for the weekend - Leave the office for the weekend (No cell phones for business and checking email) This is the time for you and your family.
Take pictures: Capture the moments and look back at them from time to time to share the times you have enjoyed together.
The Setting is just window dressing. The time you share together is the important part.
I have seen my daughter be just as happy taking a ride on her trike down to the playground and playing in the sandbox as she is when we have gone some place "special".

Let's go to the Movies: This weekend Halloween comes early with the Premier of Igor (PG)
A hilarious twist on the classic monster movie, Igor tells the story of one Igor who's sick of being a lowly lab assistant with a Yes Master's degree and dreams of becoming a scientist. When his cruel master kicks the bucket a week before (The reviews I have read have all been positive)

Breakfast with a Princess: Princess Breakfast your day starts with a continental breakfast followed by a chance to create princess crafts and enjoy unlimited playtime throughout the museum.
(201) 262-5151

If you are in Paramus IKEA is serving free breakfast ($1.99 value) at all store locations on September 19-21, 2008.

140 Hooper Avenue Waldwick, NJ 07463 (201) 670-6340
Bring the Kids to See The Amazing Spider-Man and Captain America This Saturday Only!!
This official Marvel show only appears at Unbelieva-Bills
Bring the kids to Unbelieva-Bills this Saturday, September 20th to see the Amazing Spider-Man and Captain America!
Available show times are at 1:40 PM, 2:40 PM and 3:40 PM.

Circus Vidbel: There is something for everyone under the Big Top!
Clowns ~ Jugglers ~ Aerialists ~ Tightrope Artists ~ Elephant and Pony ShowsComedy Dog Act ~ Lively Circus Band and more!
$15 Members, $18 Non Members, $20 At the Door
Two Shows 1:00 and 4:00 on Sunday September 21st
The Kaplen JCC is Located at 411 E. Clinton Avenue Tenafly, NJ 07670
This show will support important programs and services for the JCC Early Childhood Center

Bergen County YJCC Family Block Party: 11-2 Free and open to the community. Games, rides, crafts, conservation, environmental activities, and more. There is a fee for a barbecue lunch. YJCC is located at 605 Pascack Road, Washington Township (201) 666-6610

Bear Mountain State Park - Museum, Zoo, Merry-go-Round and Hiking Trails.
Van Saun Park - 1 Baseball Field, 1 Softball Field, Playground (handicap accessible), Basketball Court, Tennis Courts (concession), Zoo, Pony Rides, Train Ride, Bike Path, Soccer Field (seasonal permit only), and Fishing.
Flat Rock Brook Nature Center - Flat Rock Brook Nature Center is a 150-acre preserve and education center situated on the western slope of the Palisades in Englewood, New Jersey. The Center was established in 1973 by citizens who were deeply committed to land conservation and environmental education.

Trip to Pennsylvania:

Spend a Day Out with Thomas the Tank Engine In Strasburg PA (about 2 hours from the GWB) Take a 25 Minute ride on Thomas and hang out with the characters from Sodor
Address: Route 741 East, Strasburg, PA 17579
See Video of the Day Out with Thomas

When in Strasburg visit The Choo Choo Barn and the Shops of Traintown
A 1,700 square foot train features over 150 hand-built animated figures and vehicles and 22 operating trains.
226 Gap Rd Strasburg PA 17579
(717) 687-7911Check out.

Valley Forge and/or Historical Philadelphia
Travel back in time to 1778. Spend an exciting evening at the famous encampment at Valley Forge and see what nights were like for the Continental Army under the leadership of General George Washington. Start with a picnic dinner before checking in at Washington's Headquarters. Kick back with your brigade around the group campfire as they tell you their soldiers' tales. Valley Forge after hours experience!Saturdays at 5:30PM

Valley Forge Trolley Tour
Experience the story of Valley Forge National Historical Park as it's never been told. Once Upon A Nation storytellers bring history to life right where it all happened using historically entertaining anecdotes to educate and amuse visitors on this unique, open-air trolley tour of Valley Forge Park. Duration: 90 minutes.

Valley Forge National Historic Park
Visit scenic Valley Forge, known to every American. It was here that George Washington's Army retreated during the winter of 1777, just beyond reach of British troops in Philadelphia. The area's great past is apparent everywhere, from colonial mansions to national historical parks. Also, explore Valley Forge's contemporary attractions, including lush gardens, renowned art collections, and delightful restaurants. Park facilities include Visitors Center, picnic areas, a 16-mile multi-use trail and ten miles of horse trails. A Valley Forge to Philadelphia bike path begins near Betzwood Bridge. 10-mile self-guided driving tour.

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Sorry I missed you this weekend

This weekend came and went without the kidzense weekend planner apologies for not getting a post out. I have been fighting a cold and needed some sleep. (My Normal Posting times are late at night - after I get Z-girl off to sleep. Unfortunately I have been nodding off with her)
I missed getting out the Information about JORBA Bike festival that Happened this past Saturday at Allamuchy State Park. The event had organized rides for Families, Kids Contests, Demo Area from Specialized and Giant, Ice Cream, and performance by Trials Rider Jeff Lenosky, and Pat Povilaitis aka the Human Vise
Here are some Pictures from the Event:

Before it is too late I also wanted to Post Information about The Day Out with Thomas the Tank Engine In Strasburg PA (about 2 hours from the GWB) Take a 25 Minute ride on Thomas and hang out with the characters from Sodor
Address: Route 741 East, Strasburg, PA 17579
See Video of the Day Out with Thomas

When in Strasburg visit The Choo Choo Barn and the Shops of Traintown
A 1,700 square foot train features over 150 hand-built animated figures and vehicles and 22 operating trains.
226 Gap Rd Strasburg PA 17579
(717) 687-7911

Check out Valley Forge and/or Historical Philadelphia
Travel back in time to 1778. Spend an exciting evening at the famous encampment at Valley Forge and see what nights were like for the Continental Army under the leadership of General George Washington. Start with a picnic dinner before checking in at Washington's Headquarters. Kick back with your brigade around the group campfire as they tell you their soldiers' tales. Valley Forge after hours experience!Saturdays at 5:30PM

Valley Forge Trolley Tour
Experience the story of Valley Forge National Historical Park as it's never been told. Once Upon A Nation storytellers bring history to life right where it all happened using historically entertaining anecdotes to educate and amuse visitors on this unique, open-air trolley tour of Valley Forge Park. Duration: 90 minutes.

Valley Forge National Historic Park
Visit scenic Valley Forge, known to every American. It was here that George Washington's Army retreated during the winter of 1777, just beyond reach of British troops in Philadelphia. The area's great past is apparent everywhere, from colonial mansions to national historical parks. Also, explore Valley Forge's contemporary attractions, including lush gardens, renowned art collections, and delightful restaurants. Park facilities include Visitors Center, picnic areas, a 16-mile multi-use trail and ten miles of horse trails. A Valley Forge to Philadelphia bike path begins near Betzwood Bridge. 10-mile self-guided driving tour.

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Do you Value your Child?

The next time you are about to do some activity or buy something for your child, stop and ask yourself, is this for them or me.
It is a question that bears asking and you may be surprised at the answer.
Upon deeper inspection or introspection we may find that our good intentions may not be rooted in what is meaningful to our children, but reflects our own values and desires. For example, does a three year old really want designer clothes.

Doing things that reflect what you place value on instead of what your child enjoys and finds meaningful can undermine your child's sense of self and ultimately their happiness.
Your child's happiness doesn't depend on material possessions or specific activities. Their happiness comes from feeling certain and clear in who they are and making choices that reflect their character.

Happiness comes from knowing that they belong, that they are deeply loved by the important people in their life. It comes from knowing that they are respected and valued for who they are.

This weekend I found myself in a situation where my daughters ideas and mine were not quite aligned. Despite some rain from Hanna we were able to get out twice for some fishing. We have been building up to this 1st attempt at fishing. A few weeks ago we went to Campmor and got a Fishing Pole (One with the push button Casting mechanism) and a tackle box. The fishing pole came with a rubber fish that we were able to tie onto the line and practice casting and reeling. This past Friday we purchased a tackle kit with various hooks, bobbers, sinkers, and lures. On the way home we stopped at Van Suan Park and made a few casts before the mosquitoes drove of off. As a child I was not close with my Dad. He was never really in my life, but he did take me fishing once when I was around 4. I remember digging for worms, going to the local pond, and catching a fish. It took a while to catch the fish but I was into learning how to do it. I remember thinking that my Dad was really good at fishing. In taking my daughter I guess I wanted her to have a similar experience with fishing but I think I was unintentionally modelling that experience after my own. When we got to the actual fishing my daughter cast her line out out with a little help. After reeling it back in she asked me to do the next cast. She reeled it back in then was pretty much done. I think for her fishing was more about catching the fish than the actual process of fishing. After about 10 minutes she seemed more interested in feeding the ducks and jumping in the puddles from the rain overnight than sitting around and trying to catch something. In the End we didn't catch anything but we did feed the ducks, spotted a few turtles, and had quite a bit of fun with one turtle that was chasing after the lure. We later lost that lure when it got stuck on something nonetheless we had fun and she wants to go back again. I am pretty sure if I was rigid and tried to force her to fish my way that it would have ended or impaired her interest in fishing and would have created a negative memory. Fortunately I was able to quell my own desires to teach her how to fish and let her spend the time the way that she enjoyed. At the same time I was able to cast out quite a few times and had her grab the line whenever there was a tug, point out turtles, and enjoy the day. I feel that our job as parents is to provide the tools and some guidance, but not dictate or control activities. We should create an environment where our kids can explore an interest or hobby in their own way. Along the journey they will get to know themselves better and gain confidence as they face challenges, persevere, and reaps the rewards of doing so as will we. The lesson our children teach us is how to just play and have fun :)
Some additional Reading:

The Weekend Planner Sept 5-7

This weekend is going to bring some rain in on Saturday with Tropical Storm Hanna moving up the East Coast. This may be a good time depending on how extreme the weather to do some stuff indoors and stay close to home. The storm should have moved out by Sunday so the weekend shouldn't be a total washout.

Some Ideas for Indoor Activities could be an indoor obstacle course this doesn't need to be anything extravagant some chairs to run in between or climb under, and some pillows to jump over can be all you need. To add some incentive use a stopwatch to time their tries. Board and Computer Games and Puzzles can be a good activity as well. Some of our favorites have been Candyland, Mousetrap, The Matching Game, and Dino-Bingo.

Build a Fort with Items such as Pillows, Chairs Blankets, Sheets and some Clothes pins or whatever you can stack or drape something over. Kids love to build them and they really inspire creativity and learning through the process of coming up with different and sometimes elaborate constructions.

Cuddle up with a book: The Cat in the Hat is a good rainy day story ("The Sun did not shine. It was too wet to Play. So we sat in the house All that cold, cold,wet day.") or check out my eBook Timmy the Tug and Billy the Barge.

Create something - Break out the paints, Crayons, Playdough, instruments or whatever tools you have to explore you and your childs creativity. It doesn't need to be elaborate Just fun.
One thing that younger kids usually enjoy, as long as they don't mind getting their hands messy (I know some kids hate that) is finger painting. For a slightly different spin try doing hand prints but put one color in one hand and another color in the other then have your child rub their hands together like magic you have a new color for example try Blue and Yellow to make green. Neat way to teach primary and secondary colors.

Watch a favorite video or check out The Little Mermaid 3 a cute Prequel to the Original Little Mermaid with some old favorite characters like Sebastian and Flounder as well as some new ones like Benjamin the Manatee and a new villainess Marina DelRay.

If the weather is not too threatening you may want to try some in-store activities
Some Saturday morning indoor options could be Storytime at Barnes and Noble ,
or take in a Kids Movie with the popcorn club

Home Depot - Kids Clinics
The Home Depot's Kids Workshops This months project is a paper football game.
The workshops teach children do-it-yourself skills and tool safety, while at the same time helping to instill a sense of accomplishment. Additionally, this fun time allows for quality one-on-one time between adults and children.In addition to the newly constructed project kit, each child receives a kid-sized orange apron, similar to The Home Depot associates' aprons, and an achievement pin.

The Franklin Lakes Lions Club will be having their annual Circus on Saturday, September 6th at McBride Field on Franklin Lakes Road, Franklin Lakes, NJ. There will be 3 shows at 12:30, 3:00, and 5:30 PM . Tickets are $9 in advance and $11at the door. Children under 2 are free. Tickets can be purchased at Cartridge World in Stop and Shop Plaza on Franklin Avenue in Franklin Lakes and TD Bankworth at Urban Farms on Franklin Lakes Road in Franklin Lakes, NJ.

Celebrate Haworth Day
Saturday, September 6, 20083:00 - 7:00 p.m.Memorial Field
Food, Rides, Games & Fireworks!
Rain Date: September 7th (Fireworks Only)
For more information, please contact Borough Hall at (201) 384-4785.

Beginning Saturday, September 6, 2008 at 8:30 p.m. and continuing on Saturdays throughout the fall semester, Bergen Community College’s Buehler Columbia Amateur Astronomers Association will open the doors to the Emil Buehler Trust Observatory for evening observations of celestial objects. The College maintains three state-of-the-art, 16-inch reflecting telescopes. The free viewings, which are open to the public, will take place in the Observatory in the Technology Education Center at the College, 400 Paramus Road, Paramus. Visitors will receive guided access to the telescopes from the Association’s members, which include Bergen professors. As part of the public evenings, videos on astronomy will also be shown. In the event of inclement weather, viewings will be cancelled. Depending on the night and time of visit, different planets and objects will be in view including the moon, Jupiter, Neptune and the Hercules Cluster. Prospective visitors can access for more information.

Please share some of your activities that you like to do on Rainy Days

Practice what we Preach

At Kidzense we created the weekend planner to give parents some ideas for things to do over the Weekend. This past Labor Day weekend we were able to get to some of the places that we have recommended. Friday night was movie Night 1st we cooked together (Egg Omelets) Kids can help with almost every aspect of this from cracking eggs, adding spices, mixing, and adding toppings. After Dinner we picked out a movie "Ratatouille" and made popcorn.
Saturday we finally got out to Kayak in Piermont. We rented our Tandem Kayak from Paradise Canoe and Kayak.
We paddled Through the marsh out towards the Hudson river then turned around and made our way down one of the tributaries were we saw a bunch of blue crabs (The move surprisingly fast) and some birds.

(Maybe someone can let me know what type of bird this is)
The tide was going out and we got stuck in the mud so we had to back paddle out back into the main waterway. We made our way back to the dock passsing a few kayakers along the way. The trip was just about the right time at 1 hour.
After our Kayak trip we went to the playground Adjacent to the Rental place. The playground has been renovated with a new climbing and Slide section. After the playground we got a snack in Piermont at Burnbury's Cafe and then went to the Gazebo in the town center. The Gazebo is a great place for a picnic.

Sunday we went to the Land of Make Believe in Hope NJ.
The Land of Make Believe is an amusement and water park, with shows that kids and parents can be a part of, Hayrides, a Petting Zoo, and a Train.
There are a number of rides for kids of all ages such as Red Baron Airplane Ride, T-Rex, Grand Carousel, For Older kids there is the Roller Coaster, free-falling, and the Tornado.

Monday was a little laid back we went to City Place in Edgewater and got some new Clothes for School and stopped at Panera Bread for a snack (I love there french toast bagel) Afterwards we went to the movies to see Fly me to the Moon a 3D Movie about three housefly best friends who buzz their way onto the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. I have to give it a mixed review the 3D is spectacular. The best I have seen so far it definitely creates a different experience for movie- goers. There are scenes like the rocket launches where you are transported into the movie and can't help but reach out to touch what appears to be right in front of you. The movie is also educational in telling the story of the space race of the sixties. The downside was the main characters are flies and although they are cartoons they are lacking the charisma and likability of the insects in A Bugs Life and Ants. I am not sure if this is as much a result of the animation or the dialog and voices given to the characters. There some standout characters like the grandfather (with the voice of Christopher Lloyd) and they made the maggots (Um Baby flies as cute as could be expected). Stay During the credits as there is a Cameo from Buzz Aldrin.
Bottom Line: Go see it in the movies because the 3D is worth it but go to the matinee for a discounted rate

Pleasing your Pre-Schoolers Palette

One of the more difficult things that I have tried to work on with my daughter has been her eating habits, or more correctly trying to encourage good eating habits . She is now 4 and past the point where I think she is just going through a finicky phase or stuck on a certain type of food. In a effort to improve her diet we have used some tips from the Sneaky Chef to get more vegetables into her meals. Usually making an orange puree of carrots and sweet potatoes which is mixed in with Mac and Cheese (one of her favorites). Our main concern is not that she is getting enough calories, but rather that she is getting enough nutrients through the food she eats.
I would also like her to try a greater diversity of foods and find more types of food that she enjoys.
My goal is to have a diverse menu comprised of whole grains, fruit, vegetables, dairy, and Lean proteins, while limiting sugar and fat intake.

I intend to impart this through having her help in planning our menus, helping with the shopping, participating in food preparation, and becoming educated about nutrition and the foods she eats.
Our current menu is generally some cereal or Oatmeal for breakfast with some fruit and milk.
(We have managed to keep the sugar laden cereals out of the cupboard.) Eggs or Pancakes are usually saved for the weekend. Breakfast is probably our most consistent meal of the day.
For lunch we usually have a sandwich on whole wheat bread. They are usually peanut butter & Jelly or Ham & Cheese. I have been unable to get any lettuce or veggies like Celery or carrots into the lunchtime mix on a regular basis but fresh fruit does get eaten usually. For snacks we sometimes have rice cakes with Honey,Yogurt or a fruit or energy bar. Dinner is usually the most inconsistent meal of the day. It is usually made up of a pasta, sometimes we get in a vegetable, milk or fruit juice, and sometimes some fruit the problem is that it is rarely completed.
I do not want to force her to eat foods that she does not like and she has been good with tasting stuff (Although I think her mind is made up prior to tasting the food)

Below are some tips and guidelines for getting your child to eat better
1) Set a good example: Start them early with a well balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, proteins, and complex carbohydrates. If you start them on these things and limit the junk food to an occasional treat, you are bound to get them started on the right foot.
2) Involve them in the process as early as possible: Let your kids help you get the meals ready. You can have fun with this and make it a learning experience incorporating math (measuring and Counting) Science (Mixtures, observe, classify, predict) Try make it yourself pizzas with all the toppings--simply put all the toppings on the table and let them go to town. Use wheat flour dough , fresh veggies mixed in with the other topping choices, and low fat cheese to sprinkle on top. Make lunches together--provide whole wheat pitas and fill them up with lean turkey or ham, hummus as a spread, and chopped lettuce, tomatoes, and veggies of your choice to spice things up. You can even have them help at breakfast--make pancakes together and throw in some berries or bananas into the batter along with some chopped nuts for extra protein.
3) Set the table and remove distractions: During Meals the family should sit together and stay seated till the meal is over (Try to avoid getting up repeatedly to get stuff), remove distractions like television.
4) Don't make food a power struggle If you child doesn't eat encourage them to eat but keep it positive. Make sure they are exhibiting good good table manners then enjoy your meal. (set a good example) After your are done ask if they are finished then clear the plates from the table (Don't force kids to eat everything on their plates. Doing so teaches kids to override feelings of fullness. You can put their meal in the fridge in case they ask for something later).
It's easy for food to become a source of conflict. A good strategy is to give kids some control, but to also limit the kind of foods available at home.
Kids should decide if they're hungry, what they will eat from the foods served, and when they're full. Parents should control which foods are available to the child, both at mealtime and between meals. Here are some guidelines to follow
5) Avoid Snacks: Close to meal time avoid snacks and if meals are not finished do not give dessert or snacks after dinner. (I am surprised when parents whose kids have not eaten give them cake or ice cream)
6) Do not use Snack food as a bribe: Avoid using dessert as the prize for eating the meal. This sends the wrong message and may have a short term benefit but in the long term is not the behavior you want to create.
According to Bridget Aisbitt, a nutrition scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation, forbidding young children from eating 'junk foods' high in fat, salt, and sugar could in fact fuel cravings making them want it more.

"Educating children about where food comes from, how that affects their bodies, what they can do with food to make good choices and how they can bring in so-called junk food as a very small part of their diet is more effective than 'you can not have that, that is bad'.

Try to get your children involved in a new food. Take them shopping with you; have them help pick out a recipe and prepare it.
When your child is eating, make sure they are not walking around the house with food and/or a drink in hand. Have them sit in the kitchen or at a play table and not sitting and watching a video or television as they eat. This could become a bad food habit.

Offer a new food repeatedly. If something's rejected two or three times, don't give up on it, Brann says. Research shows that it takes more than 10 exposures to a food before a toddler is willing to actually consume it.
"Even if she agrees to try it after it's been served just several times, it can be a lot longer before she actually eats it," she says.
Let'em play. Your toddler may sniff, smear and do everything but sample a new food. This is how they explore and "get to know" it.
Vary the packaging. Try foods, such as potatoes, in different forms: mashed, baked, french fries, hash browns and more.
Let your child see others eat the food. Toddlers love to imitate. Watching people sample new snacks can make foods more enticing, so get together with friends and offer to share new foods at play dates.
Don't pressure, force or make a big deal out of it. Nutritionist Ellyn Satter, R.D., author of Child of Mine: Feeding With Love and Good Sense (Bull Publishing), promotes the "division of responsibility" around eating: The parent is responsible for what, when and where to eat. The toddler is responsible for how much and whether to eat. And, says Brann, "Over the long term, your child will make good choices."

Some online resources: