Archive For The “Parking Lot” Category

Schafer Sports Center Beats the Competition with Non Competitive Philosophy

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Thank you Schafer Sports Center for facilitating a tour and activity day for bloggers. We were compensated for this review post, although the opinions expressed herein are strictly my own.


In a world where children’s sports are so competitive, Schafer Sports Center’s new approach is oh-so refreshing.  Jonathon Schafer, CEO describes Schafer Sports as “all about education”.  He says, “Our goal is to build kids’ self esteem and instill the life lesson that learning is fun. We believe that it’s an honor to be able to work with kids and help guide them in being healthy and happy. That’s why we put children first and sports second.” From the moment Victoria and I entered the property it was evident that this was Schafer’s mission. We were invited to a blogger preview where we had the opportunity to experience many of the sports activities first-hand.



Schafer Sports Center IS the place to write home about. As a mom who had a terrible, terrifying experience at one of those “gyms”, I can tell you my first instinct is to assess the competency of staff members. Safety is important but that means much more than updated equipment… it means having staff that are trained, attentive and passionate about what they do. Schafer Sports Center hires specialized trainers in each area of recreation. In other words, the yoga instructor doesn’t just fill in for the soccer coaches. This goes a long way to ensuring my confidence when putting my child in their hands and 30 seconds in each sports, I could tell I was working with true professionals. Nothing feels better than that.

Secondly, I took notice of the facility. It was very well designed, organized, clean and well equipped. The pool area had plenty of pool activities, two small slides and the largest rafts I’ve ever seen. Speaking of the pool area, the changing room had oversized cubbies for towels, bags, shoes and a second set of cubbies in the pool area.  (And I must mention that the showers – those encouraged before swim but usually avoided due to cold water – gave a refreshing warm rinse before and after swim time.) Everything from impressive lighting to ample room in their party space, an open floor plan and private rooms for relaxed yoga instruction… Schafer Sports Center has it all covered.


Schafer Sports Center started as Schafer’s Gymnastics back in 1988. In 2001, the Special Needs program was launched and then in 2003 owners Jonathon and Shannon Schafer decide to build Schafer Sports Center. In 2014 funding was finalized and July 2015 they break ground in Ewing, NJ. One year later, July 2016, Schafer’s is open for business.



With a full line up for sports and activities here are the highlights:

Soccer – Private training, summer camp training, team development and specific skill level groups

Gymnastics – Toddler/Preschool Classes, Girls/Boys Training & Teams, Tumbling

Swim & Stroke Clinics – Stroke training (7:1 ratio), Swim Classes (4:1 ratio) for infants +

Dance as partnered with The Dance Network for Jazz, Tap, Ballet, Musical Theater and Hip Hop

Family Yoga


Project Unified – children with and without disabilities train and play together

Special Olympics




Well, who doesn’t love a warm pool and toasty changing room? Wow – bonus. And if that’s not enough… no chlorine pool aroma. NONE!! State-of-the-art pool filtration system ensures the cleanest water without the excess chemicals.

Schafer Sports Center offers birthday party options… again tumbles, drills and swim with professional staff. I was so impressed with the organization of our two hour blogger event. In just these 2 hours, our children participated in yoga, had a gymnastic session to include repeat obstacles, trampoline games, and several trapeze swing turns (which, by the way, was the BEST part of the entire experience per Victoria). Then the children had soccer drills, more obstacles and soccer games, followed by yoga and swimming. Plus the children did a craft with staff while parents took a facility tour. AND… this two hour period afforded time for breakfast in the beginning and concluded with lunch. WOW – in just 2 hours and needless to say, Victoria was pooped and slept well that night. Each hand-off was seamless from one activity to the next.  Highly, highly recommend this venue for parties. wow wow wow.

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A Model Train Christmas Tradition

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My Christmas Railroad – by Tom Hewitt

Photo by Ron Kroetz,

Photo by Ron Kroetz,

The countdown to Christmas morning is about the most exciting time of the whole kid year. Back in the day, (for me, “the day” was the mid 1960’s) the Christmas countdown didn’t start at Halloween. The official beginning was marked by the first sighting of Santa Claus at the Thanksgiving Day parade. Excitement grew exponentially as each day passed. Decorations went up, the temperature went down, and Mom would mark the Christmas Specials on the TV Guide magazine so we wouldn’t miss them. There were only six TV stations (why did we even need a magazine?!?) and there were no DVR’s, no DVD’s, and no do-overs. You missed that one yearly showing, and you were out of luck. And missing a Christmas Special like “The Year without a Santa Claus” or “Frosty the Snowman” could really dampen a kid’s Christmas spirit.

The Santa sighting and the festive decorations got the countdown started, but in my world, I knew Christmas was getting close when my Dad would come up from the cellar carrying that battered and torn box that held our Lionel Model Train set. Just seeing the box caused my Christmas fever to spike! To this day, I can close my eyes and smell the metallic oily residue that seeped into the cardboard over so many years of use.

I was born in 1964 to a working class family just outside the Philadelphia City limits. I suppose we were poor, not that I ever knew hardship. We were happy and life was simple. Dad worked two jobs and when home, was strict. Mom filled all voids and showered her four children with love and wisdom and the occasional buck or two when something special was really desired. Lord knows where she found that money.

Speaking of the Lord, we were raised Catholic, and let me tell you, those nuns spared no rod. Corporal punishment was doled out liberally, and if you were on the business end of the yardstick, you didn’t dare tell your parents. For telling your parents would bring down a second whuppin for being disrespectful to a nun. “What did you do to make Sister Izabitch punish you?” Dad would ask, as he laid another one across my bum. Like I said, life was simple.

Photo by Ben Weiner,

Photo by Ben Weiner,

Looking back, the model train set my Dad used to set up was also very simple. A small oval track that was tacked down to plywood and covered with this green sand paper. There was a black locomotive engine and a coal tender. There were a few box cars, and of course, a caboose. For scenery, we had three plastic models, all of which had all seen better days. The models—a gas station, a school house, and a nondescript factory were chipped and broken with pieces missing here and there. The power supply transformer sat at the far end of the platform. The long cord was black and red, frayed, and non-grounded. It heated up fast and smelled of ozone.

Dad would go over the finer points of running the trains. He taught me to “feather the throttle” and how to use the rerailer to line the trains up correctly. He added drops of liquid to the locomotive and like magic, pillows of white smoke would puff up out of the stack as the train thundered around the platform. Dad would hesitantly turn the controls over to my siblings and me, always keeping a cautious eye on everything we did.

Photo by Eric E Castro,

Photo by Eric E Castro,

When given the chance, our imaginations would run wild. We would move the buildings around the platform and pretend the train was pulling into different towns. We would tell stories about the town and the people who lived there and the hobos who “rode the rails”. “Far away” from the town, we would block the tracks (usually with Dad’s Zippo lighter) and force the train to a stop. Then, we became bandits, robbing all the cargo from the box cars. We would add up our “loot” to see who got the biggest haul. I would play for hours with those trains, all the way through the countdown to Christmas Eve.

I don’t know if it was a way to heighten the excitement of Christmas, or to shade the lack of gifts,–probably it was both– but Santa always took the trains with him on Christmas Eve. In their place in our living room, Santa would leave our Christmas tree, all brightly lit and decorated. The tree was a gift that Santa brought to our family each year.

Christmas at my house was always a time of great joy, but not one of material abundance. I don’t remember any particular gift I ever received for Christmas. We don’t remember things, we remember events. Christmas at my house was always an event. The model train layout my Dad created was not elaborate. It didn’t have to be. Life was simple. The model trains were simple, but the stories that we told and the memories that were created have been complexly woven into my warmest memories of Christmas.

Both Mom and Dad have passed away and I don’t know what ever became of that train set. No matter. Life is no longer that simple. My children are growing up in a world drastically different then the world I grew up in. I have my own set of model trains now, my own platform and models. I tell the stories of my youth and share the knowledge my Dad shared with me. My truest Christmas wish is that they will remember the time we spend playing together with these trains. I hope they will always see their childhood Christmas’s as an event.

If model railroading is something you enjoy, check out some of these railroad themed Holiday Events:

Reading Terminal Market Holiday Railroad—-12th and Arch Streets, Philadelphia, PA
Reading Terminal Market sets up super impressive 500-square foot holiday railroad with over 14 working train lines and miniature scenery of Center City.

Holiday Garden Railway, Morris Arboretum–100 E Northwestern Ave, Philadelphia, PA
A miniature winter wonderland complete with a quarter mile of model train track, seven loops and tunnels, 15 rail lines and trains that cures past scaled replicas of historic Philadelphia landmarks.

North Pole Express at New Hope & Ivyland Railroad—32 West Bridge St, New Hope, PA
Not a model railroad, but a family friendly train ride with Santa and Mrs. Claus. A 90 minute Holiday excursion featuring live music, refreshment and holiday fun for everyone.

Brandywine River Museum of Art—1 Hoffman’s Mill Road, Chadds Ford, PA
“Breakfast with the Trains” One of the largest “O-Scale” model railroads in the country and you get an exclusive behind the scenes visit! Discover how the layout is created and the complicated upkeep needed to keep things running. Ticket includes a continental breakfast and children receive a Brandywine Railroad souvenir.

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Smokey Bear Reminds Us of Wildfire Prevention

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Guest post by Renee Kemper of Element Associates

Smokey Bear reminds us to prevent forest wildfires

It is that time of year. That time when the leaves are changing, the ground is covered in a sheet of different shades of orange, red and brown, and the smell of campfires fills the air. Maybe you are thinking of gathering up your things in hopes for a weekend getaway in the woods. Because this is perfect weather for camping, after all. But before you head out on your journey to get away from civilization and relish nature, please remember how important it is to take care of that very nature you are about to enjoy.

Although most of us don’t behave this way intentionally, each year we learn of devastating wildfires caused by careless behavior which can impact millions of acres of forest and thousands of homes. Although four out of five wildfires are started by people, nature is usually more than happy to help fan the flames.
In 2014 there were 7,933 wildfires caused by lightning, but 55,679 wildfires caused by human error (as reported to the National Interagency Fire Center).
In 2014 more than 3.5 million acres burned due to wildfires in the U.S. of those, more than 1.5 million acres burned due to human-caused wildfires.
Wildfires can have a devastating effect on the environment. Uncontrolled blazes fueled by weather, wind, and dry underbrush, wildfires can burn acres of land—and consume everything in their paths—in mere minutes. Not to mention, it will ruin the very piece of nature that you are setting out to enjoy.

So before you set out on your weekend adventure to explore and enjoy nature. Please join me in taking the Smokey Bear Pledge!

Smokey Bear reminds us to take care of our forest and prevent wildfires.

I pledge to:
•  To use caution and common sense before lighting any fire.
•  To understand that any fire I or my friends create could become a wildfire.
•  To understand and practice proper guidelines whenever I or my friends create a fire outdoors.
•  To never, ever leave any fire unattended.
•  To make sure any fire that I or my friends create is properly and completely extinguished before moving on.
•  To properly extinguish and discard of smoking materials.
•  To be aware of my surroundings and be careful when operating equipment during periods of dry or hot weather.
•  To speak up and step in when I see someone in danger of starting a wildfire.

Smokey Bear reminds us to care for our forests and prevent wildfires.Taking a few simple steps while you are enjoying yourself can prevent so much future damage. Know what you need to do before you ever leave your house. Be prepared, be ready, and be safe!

Learn how to build a SAFE campfire to prevent wildfires
Campfire Safety
See how easily burning debris can start a wildfire
Debris Burning
Understand how proper equipment maintenance can reduce wildfires
Equipment Maintenance
Safety is not only important indoors, but also around your property and community
Community Fire Safety
How to prevent and detect fires inside your home
Home Fire Safety

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Summertime Block Party & BBQ Blogger Link and Giveaway

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So finally, the much anticipated, much needed summertime is on its way.  After such a hard winter… how are we to enjoy our summer?  If your family is anything like mine, ideas have been flying around for weeks – picking strawberries, swimming at the lake, going on a picnic and yes we have a family reunion on the horizon too.

For some, school is letting out soon.  For others – well weeks are left on the calendar after make-up days are calculated but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the warmer weather and the lingering daylight.  To that I say…

Welcome to the Online Block Party, hosted by Open Hands.
We have teamed up with several other great bloggers to bring you ideas that will help make your summer BBQ or Block Party a huge success! We also have a great giveaway with a retail value of over $400 that one lucky winner will receive!
Enjoy our post for this event & then enter the giveaway below. You also will want to be sure to check out the other great blogs participating in the event.
Block Parties and BBQs are popping up everywhere.  In fact, just this past weekend my daughter and I stumbled upon an Italian Festival.  Talk about a perfect opportunity to fold in some cultural learning.  We enjoyed music, cannoli, pasta and the Italian Market feel.  It was wonderful and we highly recommend world cultural festivals for learning fun.
  DSCN0518Here are four more ways to turn barbeques and backyard parties into educational worthy moments:
1.  Take advantage of the outdoors and especially if you are in someone else’s backyard.  Prepare a simple scavenger hunt, or using magnifying glasses have children scope out different habitats (like this hole in our tree). One afternoon in our front yard we saw plenty of unexpected insect, plant and small creature habitats.
2.  If having a bonfire – take a moment to talk about the cool properties of fire.  Here’s a cute diagram of the science behind the ever-famous s’mores. Does chocolate melt faster than marshmallow?
3.  Have your son or daughter take food or drink orders for a small group or table.  This will help in sequencing skills (who ordered pickles, no pickles, tea with lemon, water w/ no ice, etc?).
4.  Make a new variation to Hop Scotch… whereby using a die and multiplication.  Toss the stone, roll the die and only move if you correctly know their multiplied product.  Or for harder multiplication problems – use 2 dice and 36 squares.
There are lots and lots of ways to have a great time learning outdoors – the important part is to have fun and learn as you go. Enjoy this beautiful weather and much luck on the giveaway!!

Be sure to check out the other participating bloggers for great Block Party ideas:
Open Hands – Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie
Momma Lews Blog – Root Beer Ribs and more
Raising Family on A Budget – Smoked Brisket
Princess Among Superheros – Make your own Bubbles
We’re Parents – Strawberry Lemonade

Mama on the Brightside – Easy Coleslaw

A huge thank you to our wonderful sponsors : Daddy N Company , Brylane Home & Wildtree with Kelly Velasco.


One winner will receive: Hickory Smoked Grapeseed Oil, Herb Grilling Marinade & Cactus Pete’s Agave BBQ Sauce from Wildtree ; a Chef Daddy Apron from Daddy N Company and a Grilling Gazebo from Brylane Home.
Head on over to Open Hands to read more about these great companies.


If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

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Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus – A Show for All

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Circus Fun Photo courtesy of Homeroom At Home

Circus Fun
Photo courtesy of Homeroom At Home

There’s something magical about the circus. As a child I went twice to the Big Top and loved everything about the experience. As a mom, I wanted to provide this experience for my children since it is like no other. When my son was much younger, I took him to a couple smaller local circus productions. It was entertaining, comical and somewhat thrilling but nothing, wait let me clarify… NOTHING beats the excitement and thrill of the real deal: Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey. Now years later, my daughter had the true pleasure of their “The Greatest Show On Earth” and couldn’t have been more elated.

Greatest Show on Earth Photo by Homeroom At Home

Greatest Show on Earth
Photo by Homeroom At Home

So what’s so amazing? Hasn’t everything already been done? Is it any different than when we were children screaming for our cotton candy? Well, the traditions of the circus is still very much the same – live animals showing off their individual talents (we loved the elephants best), clowns and acrobats and yes of course the cotton candy and snow cones , but here’s where things are different and better…

– Instead of clowns tripping over their own feet and fitting 7-13-18 or so into a dinky car, the comedy is less slapstick and more engaging.  At the Atlantic City show the “clown”  spoke and interacted with the other acts – it was so refreshing, although I still hold an artistic appreciation for the more traditional clown acts as well.

– The Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey circus is constantly reinventing themselves with daring acts of never-seen-before amusements and entertainment.  So NO, it’s not all been done before and the newer acts are perfectly blended with the traditions of old.

– A lot of the thrill and excitement is generated by the sound effects and technology.  Sound being part of the background or used as a prop really compliment the experience.  Much like a hockey or basketball game, the filler songs and sound bits keep you energized and entertained while the next performance act is setting up.  Their sound production is top quality and has come leaps and bounds from my childhood circus experience.

–  Lights, lasers and technology have put this production over the top!!  The lighting and laser presentations truly enhance each part of the circus experience, making it bigger than life.  WOW – some of these acts lit up like nothing I’ve seen.

When you put all these elements together, the mystical and exciting music compilations coupled with colorful and strategic illumination to showcase amazingly talented and/or heart-warming performers… it truly is The Greatest (and most unexpected yet traditional) Show On Earth.



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Football Math For Super Bowl Sunday

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Mark Spalding

The time has come. Parties have been planned, exorbitantly expensive TVs have been purchased and Doritos has become the national food for a day. It must be Super Bowl Sunday!


While this day has come to rival that of a national holiday, it can be for some a confusing time. Especially if you’re not a sports fan. Hence, the commercials!! My personal favorite so far is the dober-huahua. I cried laughing. A lot.


For the younger generation, sports can be just as confusing with its myriad rules and regulations. So let me shed some light on the subject, providing some simple math and problem solving situations that might help you come up with some party games of your own! I’ll start with the easy stuff, move to some more advanced aspects of the game and finish up with some Super Trivia Tidbits!


The simplest aspect of the game is where and how it’s played.


football field


The field is 100 yards long, split into 10 yard increments. The team who gets the ball on Offense has 4 “downs” (individual plays) to get 10 yards. If they do, they get another 4 downs to do the same and so on until they either score a Touchdown, kick a Field Goal, or turn the ball over in one of many ways. A fun game to play with your early learners might go like this; the first play goes for 3 yards. Ask them how many more yards the team will need to get a new set of downs. How many downs do they have left before they run out?


For a slightly more advanced take, let’s think about some simple division. If a team is called for a penalty they are typically assessed that penalty in negative yardage (which is why you will hear things like 3rd down and 15.) But if the team is less than 10 yards from their own endzone (either the blue or red areas in the picture above) and the penalty would technically put them in it, then the penalty will be half the distance to the goal rather than the full amount. So if the team is on the 7 yard line and is assessed a 10 yard penalty that would cause this situation, ask your child what half of 7 is. See if that’s where the ball is placed (Sometimes even the referees can’t do the simple math!).


Probably the most advanced way to follow this game is by following the stats. Stats are king in sports. Who threw more touchdowns, had more yards, more sacks, etc. But a good problem for your youngster to solve is averages. This is a little tougher and often the TV crew will provide the information for you, so you may need to be sneaky and or really pay attention to the game. The easiest way to do this is with the Runningbacks (the guy who stands behind everyone and usually gets the ball handed to him and then…..well…..runs with it!). If the runningback has 9 carries (plays where he ran the ball) and 65 yards rushing, what is his average yards per carry? Like I said, a little tougher, but the math is always there.


So there are just some quick, fun ways to get your child (and possibly yourself) engaged in the game and keep you interested until the next commercial! And now for my favorite part. RANDOM TRIVIA!!!


This year’s Super Bowl is being played at MetLife stadium in East Rutherford, NJ (which is funny, since both New York teams call this home!). This is the first Super Bowl to be played above the Mason-Dixon Line on the east coast.


Super Bowl Sunday is the second-largest day for food consumption in the United States after Thanksgiving.


Tickets to Super Bowl I cost $12. Tickets to Super Bowl XLVIII cost on average $1,500.


In the previous 47 Super Bowl coin flips, heads came up 24 times, while tails has come up 23 times. So what’s the chance of hitting heads Sunday? (We hope you said 50 percent.)


The record for longest Field Goal in the history of the NFL was broken this year. Tom Dempsey, kicked a 63 yard field goal on November 8th, 1970. What made the feat remarkable is that he has a club foot and no fingers on his right hand due to birth defects, but held a record which stood for 43 years until Matt Prater kicked a 64 yard field goal on December 8th, 2013. By the way. Matt kicks for the Denver Broncos.

For more Super Bowl fun, check out the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s special program today:

Arms and Armor Family Celebration, February 2, 10:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Did you know that football players wear armor? This Super Bowl Sunday, learn about modern-day armor from football players and firefighters and medieval armor at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. They’ll even have an armadillo to show armor from the natural world and fencing demonstrations by Fencing Academy of Philadelphia. You can also make your own armor in their very cool, just for families, Balcony Studio. Did we mention it’s Pay What You Wish? Now that’s a deal.

“Pay What You Wish” Museum Admission

Philadelphia Art Museum Capture









Free printable game day wordsearch provided by my blogging friend, Julie at Julieverse.  Have fun.

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Celebrating 90 years with Madame Alexander Dolls

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Oh the places you can take your doll and your doll can take you!! Recently, Victoria and I had the great pleasure of visiting, touring and celebrating with Alexander Doll Company in New York City.


Photo courtesy of Alexander Doll Company Inc.

This was a very special day (despite someone’s embarrassing meltdown moment). But first, let me mention how terribly excited Victoria was for her first train ride ever. She could hardly contain her excitement. Here’s a quick clip of our adventure from Princeton Junction to NYC.

She was too cute in that tutu… all smiles the whole way. When we got to Penn Station, she kept repeating “We’re in the city, we’re finally in the city!”

NYC Madame Alexander Dolls

The Big Apple

A short walk had us at the door of Madame Alexander’s new building. Once inside, we were greeted with warmth, smiles and goodies – yum. We had the opportunity to hear a quick demonstration of the Dollie & Me line and in fact they had a skirt outfit similar to Victoria’s fluffy pink tutu – her “city outfit”. The doll studio held several rooms for exploration before we went one flight down to the office area. More goodies and lots of collectibles for us to admire. But here’s where the meltdown began… prior to coming we received a catalog and as such we looked thru the pages sharing time looking forward to our trip. Victoria immediately spotted the Rapunzel doll in the catalog and knew to look for her when we arrived. She had the hardest time parting with one of her all time favorite characters. I remain a very very grateful mom for all the patience the staff demonstrated while I dealt with the little situation.  Madame Alexander’s collection offers a wonderful variety including classic literature characters like Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz and Annie, and new fun loving ones like Pinkalicious,

Angelina Ballerina and Fancy Nancy.

Toys R Us in NYC, Madame Alexander Dolls

Shopping At Toys R Us, NYC

Soon enough, we were on our way to a small shopping spree… this was New York after-all. Victoria like a big girl, selected her purchase with much care, paid by herself and managed her own bag all the way back to Penn Station. Click on the video for a glimpse into Madame Alexander’s world and our shopping spree.

And like any girl who’s had the time of her life… she just had to phone a friend and tell her all about it.

Train to NYC, Madame Alexander Dolls

"I had the most wonderful day..."

Many many thanks to Alexander Doll Company for hosting this media event and inviting us. In full disclosure, the Alexander Doll Company offered us the below pictured blue dress doll for our giveaway. The opinions expressed in this post are strictly mine. This was a special event, shared between mother and daughter in our nation’s Big Apple.

Here’s some additional information (provided via a press release from Alexander Doll Company) you may not have known about this well-known doll company…

For more pictures of our day out together, be sure to visit our Facebook page at and look for the Madame Alexander album.

Now for the Giveaway details:

Madame Alexander Dolls, NYC trip

Giveaway ends June 21st

No blog comments required – but of course we’d love to hear which Madame Alexander doll you might have had growing up or gifted to your child.

To enter the giveaway you must simple “like” our Facebook page (

Then for an additional entry – share the Facebook contest/link on your Facebook home page.

And for a third and final entry – leave us a comment on our Facebook Madame Alexander post.

Giveaway will be drawn at random on June 22nd with entries closed at midnight on the 21st.  That’s it.  We hope this will simplify our entry requirements and encourage your participation, as we’d love to hear about your favorite dolls and experiences. Facebook is not affiliated with this giveaway or liable in any way or connected to this giveaway. Best of luck.

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How to Beat Kid's Summer Boredom

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Sure there are so many things to do for the summer, and every child anxiously awaits the last day of school.  But nonetheless, they experience days of total summer boredom and with that comes nothing good, including the messiest play, mischief, migraines for parents and constant whining.  So here are a few simple suggestions to shake those days up and avoid the pitfalls of overly boring, super hot-n-sticky days of summer.

1.  Catch the sunset.

Sunset on the Delaware River


Catchin The Suns Rays

We are fortunate to live close to a park situated on the Delaware River… making an amazing backdrop for the day’s end.   The playground provided plenty of entertainment while we waited for each stage of the sun setting.  For my toddler is was a great lesson in colors as well, as we watched the sky transform from blues and greens to oranges and purples.  Just an amazing summertime thing to do.  We didn’t stay long after, but you could certainly take advantage of the light evening darkness for catching fireflies.  For more educational ideas, look for shapes in the distance and clouds.  For us, the bridge provided angles and triangles.  Talk about the different types of clouds, fresh water vs salt bodies of water, and perception of objects (like will that barge fit under the bridge when it looks too large?)  Test your little one to find the best angle to go down the slide or why sneakers might make you go slower.  And be sure to just sit back and enjoy nature’s beautiful daily artistry. 

Pillow Tower Fun

2. Build a tower of pillows.

Pillow Tower Tumbling

Almost like building blocks but bigger and softer.  Bed pillows, sofa pillows, even the decorative throw pillows add a different dimension to your child’s creative structure.  How high can they stack?  How about tunnels or geometric shapes?  Of course they are fun to climb and topple on top of.  The bravest moms might allow sofa cushions in the mix and/or pillow tosses and fights.  (Confession – I wasn’t that brave mom!)

3.  Themed play… in our case it was Star Wars.

These light sabers totally distract kids (and big kids) from unpleasant storms, heat waves or any boredom.  Part of the charm is that these toys rarely get played with, especially for the young one… so I encourage parents to dig deep for something that the kids rarely get to lay their hands on.

Everything Barbie

Another suggestion: clear a play area and pull out ALL of something for a huge focused playtime activity.  By example, we’ve done this with Barbie… lots and lots of Barbies, furniture, clothes, pets, etc and had one big community of Barbie.  Same idea with Little People making a large platform with all the different pieces arranged to create an interactive community (city, farm, circus).

Catching Some Quiet Time

4. Take a trip to your local library.

We enjoyed a variety of picture

Quiet Time At the Library

books and then had some quiet reading time to ourselves.  Unfortunately we missed the children’s story hour by 30 minutes but now we know better.  Be sure to check out the schedule of events at your library since most have programs for families, especially during the summer.

5. Break away from routine.

Find an opportunity to break your schedule.  Enjoy your breakfast outdoors or perhaps an informal dinner on the deck.  Put on a bubbles parade with music and dance.  Consider summer rain showers as natures sprinklers… and dance in the rain.

Picnic With My Brother

Picnic With My Cousins

6.  Create a Fort.

Sharing Our Fort

Pillows, blankets, cushions and large stuffies enable some cool creations.  Once complete, grab your flashlight for some shadow fun.  Pick out some favorite books and read by flashlight in your new cool hiding place.  Challenge your kids to build a tunnel, multiple entrances and hideaways within the structure.  For added educational fun, consider discussions around the pyramids and ancient castles that were cleverly designed with tunnels, secret spaces and defense in mind.

For more ideas visit Kelly Whalen’s article “25 Frugal Ways To Keep The Kids Busy This Summer” at  She includes handy tips like finding free camps, discount museum admission, garden tours and so much more.  Share with us:  What’s your coolest boredom buster?

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