Monday, August 31, 2009

We Made It!

It's hard to believe that the summer is over. Home camping the kids was a great experience. My trepidation about not having the kids in camp with out having a babysitter for more than 8 hours a week were unfounded. It was one of those things that was much easier than it sounded.

When I told people that I had not put my kids in camp this summer a typical response was "Wow! That sounds great but I could never do it myself". I am not a particularly patient person and my kids can drive me totally crazy but with a little bit of planning and a little bit of flexibility the kids and I managed to really enjoy this summer.

The one thing I would do differently next year is I would plan a specific craft theme for each week. For example: one week we would do tie die and another week we could do sewing with felt. This way the kids would have an opportunity to immerse themselves in different mediums.

Here is our schedule for the week of 8/24:

Monday: We had our last ice skating lesson of the summer. T wins most improved. She couldn't even stand with out help and now she can skate backwards and is learning to glide. After ice skating we did not do our usual stops at Trader Joe's and Michaels. Instead we went to 2 Targets and a Toy R Us to find a blue razor scooter. Don't ask but it featured multiple head explosions on my part. The good news is that we found the color that I, I mean the kids wanted!

Tuesday: R had an appointment at the Orthodontist in the morning and Joy took the girls to the park in the afternoon.

Wednesday: We saw the movie Shorts (it was very loud and not particularly enjoyable for me) with our good friends The S family who had been in Israel for the summer. After the movie the girls went back to the S home to play. I met them at about 4PM with their scooters and then the kids rode down to River Run Playground where they had a great time playing in the sprinklers.

Thursday: We went to Fairway in the morning. In the afternoon R went to her friend T's for a play date. T and D refused all offers to go outside so they spent the afternoon playing at home

Friday: We needed to get ready for our vacation on Cape Cod so I had a bunch of errands that I needed to get done. The girls alternated between staying at home and coming with me to various stores. E came downstairs to play and the girls practiced making friendship bracelets for most of the afternoon. I had to deliver Z to Riverdale for his last Shabbat away from home Bar Mitzvah.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Crafts for Kids: Back to School Pencils

I can't remember where I saw these pencils but I thought that they were really cute and I knew girls would enjoy making them. Whenever I put a bunch of the cut up labels on our dining room table they get right to work making colorful pencils.

Here is what you need:

unsharpened, number 2 pencils
white 4x6 labels
exacto knife, ruler and cutting surface or a scissors

First cut strips that are 1 1/8 inch wide from the labels with an exacto knife and ruler (you can do 3 or 4 sheets at a time just make sure you press down hard). You can also use a scissors.

Use magic markers to color them in. You can put some glitter glue on them to make them sparkly.

When the label has been completed remove the backing and line it up with the bottom of the metal piece that holds the eraser. Then just wrap it around the pencil. When you sharpen the it the little bit of yellow left on the bottom will disappear.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Are You Finding It Tedious to Read My Daily Home Camping Schedule because I'm Finding It Tedious to Write It Down!

Here is an abridged version of week 7 and 8.

Week of 8/10:

Monday: Ice skating, Trader Joe's and Michaels in New Jersey with the girls.

Tuesday: R's friend S came over and Joy took all the girls to River Run Park. After the park T and D went to gymnastics.

Wednesday: We went to visit my mom and she took the girls shopping at 100% Kids in Cedarhurst. Although the prices are not cheap they have the best selection of a frum girl's best friend, Hard Tail skirts, (for kids and adults!). They also have a great selection of Shabbat and holiday clothes. My girls are now fully outfitted for the fall. Thanks Mom!!!!!

Thursday: R had a play date with a friend so I took the opportunity to take Z, T and D to the Bronx Zoo (R hates the zoo). It was a rainy, wet day but we had a great time.

Friday: Our neighbor E came home from vacation and for a special treat R and E went out by themselves to get their nails done. I can't imagine how grown up they must have felt! All of the girls and E spent the day playing together. In the afternoon I took Z to New Rochelle for a Bar Mitzvah. He has only 3 more left after this one and then we are done with our 2 year odyssey of Bar and Bat Mitzvahs (this is one of the things that one has to deal with in a coed day school!).

Week of 8/17

Monday: Ice skating, Trader Joe's and Michaels in New Jersey with the girls

Tuesday: The girls played at home for most of the day. In the afternoon Joy took T and D Gymnastics and R went with E to have some "alone time" upstairs.

Wednesday: I took the girls and E to the Children's Museum of Manhattan and then we stopped off at the park on 89th St between Columbus and Amsterdam. They have a great sprinkler and playground equipment that is really meant for older kids so R does not find this park too babyish for her.

Thursday: On Wednesday my friend Janice took her son Z and my son Z to this great place called The Castle Fun Center in Orange county and the boys loved it. I decided that my friend Chana and I would take our boys and the other Z to lunch and bowling in Teaneck NJ.

Lunch at Smokey Joe's, a kosher BBQ restaurant was terrible. They seem to be under the impression that BBQ needs to have a lot of mediocre BBQ sauce on it to taste good. They have no concept of what good BBQ should taste like. It also turned out that my son does not like bowling. Oh well! I guess I will leave Z to do what he wants to do (listening to music, reading and playing basketball amongst other things).

The girls were at home with Chana's girls and they actually had a good time just hanging out. Since R, T and D had been inside all day I had Joy take them to our new favorite park on 89th St while I went to Fairway.

Friday: The K sisters came over for a double play date we went to see Ponyo. It was very interesting from a cultural standpoint. The Japanese do not baby their kids like Americans do and their kids are a lot more self sufficient than ours are. All 5 girls really enjoyed the movie. Later that afternoon the girls went to hang out at E's while I took Z to Riverdale for a Bar Mitzvah.

Other unspecified activities for the two weeks were: arts and crafts, scooter riding, cooking, general horsing around, reading, board games, plain old playing and yes, we also watched some TV.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Crafts for Kids: A Bouquet of Paper Hyacinths

This summer the girls and I have spent a lot of time doing arts and crafts. I have been meaning to post these projects for ages. A lot of what we have been doing has been done with materials, such as colored construction paper, that you can find very easily at a stationary store. There is a tutorial for these super easy paper flowers at Origami Mommy. Even D (3.75) was able to make these with very little help (the pink one on the far right is hers).

Not only did the girls have fun making these they had a lot of fun playing with them. I don't thing that we have ever made something that we have gotten so much playtime out of.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Blueberry Crisp

I love fruit crisps. They are delicious and you even get a serving or two (or 3!) of fruit when you eat them. Blueberry crisps are one of the easiest crisps to make because there's no peeling, slicing or pitting involved.

1. Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees

Crisp topping:

6 tablespoons of margerine (or butter which tastes really really good) 3/4 cup of brown or table sugar
2/3 cup of flour (you can use whole wheat pastry flour also)
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2. Using your fingers, combine until the mixture is corse and crumbly.

Fruit filling:

3 pints of blueberries
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 cup of sugar ( you can add a little more if the berries are not that sweet)

3. Toss the ingrediants in a 7x11 pan and cover with the crisp topping. Bake for about 60 minutes or until the top is golden.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy

I am posting the abridged version of last week's home camp activities (that would be the week of 8/3. I'm falling a little behind!). With 4 kids at home I am busy, busy, busy.

Monday: I took the 3 girls to the Ice House for their ice skating lessons and we went to the uptown Fairway.

Tuesday: Z started basketball camp (he will be there through Friday). We went to a class at the Metropolotan Museum Art called AM at the MMA. It was very...dry. We left halfway through and went to the much more interesting Model as Muse exhibit. We met some friends, walked home through the park and then all the girls hung out at our house. Joy took T and D to gymnastics. R went with them to watch while I got some alone time at home

Wednesday: We went to see the movie Up which was a really enjoyable movie. Afterwards, we stopped off at Magnolia for a treat. We spent some time in the afternoon doing math work sheets from this great web site The Math Worksheet Site. The girls were able to create their own worksheets with answer keys so they could check their own work

Thursday: In the morning we did some more math work sheets. Joy took the girls to Hippo Park in the afternoon and I went to yoga

Friday: I took the girls to visit my Mom and of course had to make a quick pit stop at Michaels to buy some lanyard on the way home.

Other unspecified activities were: arts and crafts, general horsing around, reading, board games, plain old playing and yes, we also watched some TV.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Kids and Pornography

In the past month I have heard from direct sources about 2 incidents where frum (religious) 13 year olds have been caught viewing pornography. One of the boys was Yeshivish and one was Modern Orthodox. In both of these cases the parents just didn't seem to realize that their kids had easy access to pornography. In one case of the teen had down loaded pornography on to an ipod touch (many parents are unaware to that the ipod touch has Internet access). In the other case of the teen's parents were letting him sit in his room with his door closed with a computer that had no parental controls on it.

I am amazed at the lack of knowledge in the Jewish community (and the general parenting community) about this topic. Parents don't seem to understand what thier kids have access to. The pornography available in the 70's and 80's is down right quaint to what is available today. One of the most disturbing aspects of the easy availability of pornography is the havoc it may create in a young man's intimate life. Many of the images that are avaiable on the Internet are of women who have used plastic surgery and other body enhancements to alter there bodies. There is a real possibility that these boys could lose the ability to have an intimate relationship with normal, non enhanced women (such as their future wives.) Pornography addiction is another very real and very destructive problem these kids might develop.

It is really important that parents talk to their kids about pornography and the dangers of it. Make sure they know that you are aware of what kids are doing today. My attitude has always been assume the worst. I don't care how frum a kid is (or if said kid is a girl). Having a computer, phone or an ipod touch with out parental controls is basically giving your child the green light to veiw and download pornography.

Parents need to install parental controls on everything that has Internet access. Family computers should be in high traffic areas in the home. Kids should not have internet access in their rooms. Parents should also be checking their browser histories and cell phone bills often. You should also know what your childs's passwords are to his email and Facebook accounts (a lot of pornography sharing happens through these venues). Most importantly don't assume your teen is different because he says and does all the right things when he is with you. Even the straightest teens can be curious about pornography.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Parve (Dairy Free) Brown Sugar and Chocolate Chip Blondies

These blondies are really good and most importantly super easy. Since they are made in a 9x13 inch pan you can serve half of them and freeze the other half for another day.

1 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of walnut or canola oil (I like to use walnut oil because it has omega 3's in it.)
2 cups light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips (I like to use mini chips.)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour a 9x13 inch pan.

2. In a mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

3. In a separate bowl combine oil and brown sugar and then add the 2 eggs and stir to combine. Add the vanilla and chocolate chips. Spread the mixture in to the prepared pan and bake for 40 to 50 minutes until golden brown at the edges.

4. Cut the blondies while still warm


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