Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sunday, rainy, Sunday

After the wonderful day prepping for not a hurricane, but Boog's 6th birthday party, after coaching his first game, and being up since 445, I think I am ready for a rainy day tomorrow.  Don't get me wrong, I don't want Irene coming, but I will be happy just being home with all the boys in my life.

So be safe.  Get out your batteries and flashlights.  Play some games.  Help your neighbors.

Plus, I can't get "Come on Eileen" out of my head since I have replaced it with "Come on Irene"......

Hurrican, Hurrican't

Notice the first part of the word hurricane is "Hurry"?  I went to the grocery store last night, not to prep for the impending storm, but to prep for Boog's 6th birthday party, which is today, after soccer, before the hurricane.  I actually enjoy food shopping, so the fact that a bajillion people were out stocking up on water, milk, and bread didn't phase me.  I needed chips, dips, and veggies.
I find it kind of ironic that he was born the day Katrina hit Louisiana.  He even had a swirl cowlick on the top of his head.

It's been twenty years ago that Bob hit New England.  Almost all but my grandfather's cottage on his strip of beach had floated down the road.

During Gloria, I remember coloring in my coloring book with my sister in the hallway of our little cape, so that in case of a window breaking we wouldn't be near any.

I went yesterday to help bring in the loose objects at the beach cottage.  It was a beautiful day. The weather and water were delightful.  I suppose it is like the calm before the storm.  I love the non-chalant-ness my grandfather, at 80+, has about the impending doom.  "I've been paying into insurance for years. That's what its for."

I wonder if it will look the same after the storm....

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Back to School Advice from a Professional, other than me Guest Blogger The Joyful Organizer

Bonnie Dewkett is The Joyful Organizer.  You can like her on Facebook, Twitter and check out her website for further advice and helpful tips.

            Going from summer break to a school routine isn't easy on anyone.  The summer months bring a lot of fun, beautiful weather, and a lackadaisical routine that is just not easy to break when school starts again.  However, this year you can make the necessary changes gradually, and avoid the stress that normally comes with the arrival of the yellow school bus.  By making the transition slowly, and with a positive attitude, the school year can get started off on the right foot!

            Back to school shopping can be fun, if you are not under stress to get it done.  Start by having your child go through their closet and determine what clothes are still in good condition and still fit.  Depending on their age, you may want to assist them with this task.  Remember, the weather in September is usually warm enough to wear shorts, skirts, and tee shirts.  So there is no need to run our and buy winter clothes.  However, if you want to start shopping early, start in July when the back to school sales start to appear in stores.  The back to school season hosts the second largest sales of the year (second to Christmas). 
            Second, take inventory of your child's school supplies from the year before.  If they have tons of pencils, crayons, etc, there is no need to buy more.  Save yourself time, money, and clutter by checking first.
            If your school does not supply a local store with the necessary supply list, call your child's teacher for it.  This will also allow you an opportunity to introduce yourself and become acquainted before the academic year begins.  If your school accepts donations, this may also be a good time to ask the teacher if there are any supplies they would like for their classroom for the coming year.  Keep in mind that some supplies, such as lunch boxes, are hard to find during other times of the year.  Consider purchasing two if your child is rough on these items. 
            Start buying your child's school supplies on your weekly trips to the grocery store, or super stores.  Involve your child in the process.  Have them calculate the amount they have spent on supplies, have them pick colors they enjoy, and have them pick a planner that will fit their academic needs and their personal style.  If your child feels invested with their supplies they will be more likely to take care of them, not lose them, and most importantly to use them effectively. 
            One of the most important supplies that you will buy your child is their planner/organizer.  It is very important that they like the planner they are using.  Keep in mind that some districts require students to use their school's planner, or a particular brand.  Make sure that your child understands how to use their planner, and they have a system for the following: writing down tests, quizzes, homework, reading, and long term projects.  Starting these good habits at the beginning of the year will ensure that they are followed throughout the school year.

One of the easiest, and most effective planners, to use is a teacher's planning book.  These have open weeks so you can put the dates in yourself, and you can quickly switch between weeks.  The pages are large, and therefore give you a great visual of the work your child has to do.  I recommend using different colored inks or highlighters for different subjects.  Or if you child is older, you can consider using different colors of highlighter for different academic significance.  For example, quizzes are highlighted in yellow, projects in green, tests in pink, and long term papers in blue. 

Morning Routine:
            The morning routine is one of the most stressful parts of the day for most families.  Start developing good routines and habits during the summer months, and they will naturally take effect during the school year.
            Develop a place in your home for your child's backpack.  This should be a place by the door, such as the entryway, or a hallway.  This is where they should keep their backpack at all times.  Your child can remove their homework, books, and other necessary supplies to complete their assigned schoolwork.   When they are done with these items, they should be returned to the backpack to be grabbed on the way out the door in the morning.
            Develop a place for permission slips and other items that need to be read, signed, or need attention.  This too can be in the entryway or hallway.  Purchase a small wall mounted file, or magazine rack.   Have one slot for incoming, where your child can put anything that needs your attention.  It is very important you check this slot daily, take any required action, and then place them in a second slot for outgoing items.  Your child must check this slot daily and take any applicable papers back to school.  Many teachers require students to have a designated folder for items of this nature. 
            Get your child into the habit of taking their lunch box out of the backpack every night and bringing to the kitchen for a refill.  Have them pick it up from the kitchen in the morning and place it back into their backpack. 
            If your kids sleep later in the summer months, start getting them back on a normal schedule slowly.  Get them up 10 minutes earlier each morning until you have comfortably reached your morning wake up time. 
If your kids have a hard time getting dressed in the morning, have them plan and lay out their clothes the night before.  Purchase an organizer that has the days of the week printed on it.   Have your child assist you in picking out the week's worth of clothing at the beginning of the week.  This ensures the clothing your child wants to wear is clean and avoids unnecessary loads of laundry mid-week.
            If your child is a little older and wishes for more independence, consider having a fashion show night at your house.  Set up holiday lights as runway light, play music and have your child try on lots of different outfits.  Take pictures and have them printed.  Mount them on a bulletin board near the closet.  This will help make quick outfits during the week, and it will help inspire creativity. 
            Even with clothes and outfits laid out of the week, your child can use their creativity.  Place boxes full of scarves, sunglasses, hair accessories, and jewelry close by.  Your child can chose from these in the morning, as long as they do not take too long to do it. 
            Some website even offer wardrobe planners where you can track the clothing you have, its color, and size.  This may help you track what you have and what will need to be replaced soon.  It will also give you an idea of what your child has too much of at any one time.  The trick with these lists, however is to keep them up-to-date. 
            If your child is small and or often loses clothes and accessories, now is the time to write their name in everything to give it a fighting chance of coming back home. 

Daily Maintenance:
It is important that you maintain your daily routines with consistency and an upbeat attitude.  Nothing makes a tough morning worse than complaining and being negative.
In the evenings, do your homework while they do theirs. While your kids are studying, sign their permission slips, pay bills, clean, etc.  This will help designate the time as serious and necessary.  Kids learn by example and if they see you working hard, they will follow suit. 
If your kids need help with their homework, it is helpful if you are in the area.  If your kids cannot do homework in their rooms or need your assistance, designate a place in the house where homework will always be done, such as the kitchen table.  In order avoid running for supplies, purchase your child a shower caddy and fill it with all necessary supplies, such as a ruler, calculator, pencils, glue sticks etc.  Check the supply level regularly and make sure it is clean and organized. 
            Maintain a family calendar with everyone's schedules, appointments, field trips, sporting events, etc.  A wipe off magnetic one works great and can be stored on the fridge in plain sight. 
            Instead of leaving all of the laundry for the weekend, consider doing loads every day during the week.  Putting the laundry in or switching it to the dryer are both small chores your children can do for you while you cook dinner.
            Consider maintaining a meal plan and calendar.  This will help you with grocery shopping, and more importantly, deciding what is for dinner after a long day. 
If meal preparation is a challenge for you, consider researching meal preparation businesses in your area.  These businesses allow you to prepare and freeze multiple portion meals for your family that are then stored in your freezer, and accessed when you need them. 

Having a stress free and successful school year starts with preparation.  Get started the right away this year.  Avoid the back to school rush and the stress of transitioning from summer frolicking to academic routines.  Just by changing a few habits you can make your academic year a successful, happy one! 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Anytime is Playground Time Thanks to Kaboom's New App

Today we had to run some errands so by 10 o'clock we had been in the car for a while.  So I tried out my new app: Parents Kaboom! Playground finder.

First, if you don't know Kaboom! they are a wonderful resource for getting play and playgrounds back into the community.  In fact, I submitted a video for our school to get a chance for a grant.  Though we didn't win, I keep in contact with them and keep trying.

Anyway, it was more of a test, I knew where we were going.  I plugged in my Current Location and low and behold, 5 playgrounds showed up, 4 of which I was not aware.  

 We arrived.

 We conquered.
We played for about an hour.
I absolutely love the idea of this app.  You can find a playground, add a playground, and even set up a play date. I am often on the road with the boys, and sometimes you just want to let them burn off some energy.
So the next time you or the kids are itching to get outside and you are looking for an all inclusive area to build some strength, coordination, socialization, language, while having fun, flip through the iPhone, and BAM!  You have places to go within seconds.  It's free. It's awesome. My only word of caution is that it does rely on visitor's ratings and most of the listed playgrounds are schools, so I am not sure how reliable it is, understandably.  For example it listed my local high school as having one, which I am pretty doubtful it has an accessible area for kids to play.  None the less, it is now one of my faves.  Kudos to Kaboom! and Parents.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Nature should be enjoyed wearing a full body net suit

Adventure on the Audubon Passport #4: Emilie Ruecker Wildlife Refuge in Tiverton, Rhode Island
I added anti-itch cream to the traveling first aid trail kit today, as I have learned from the past three trails that it gets obscenely buggy.  And unfortunately today's hike was no exception.  The four boys and I looked like Mom and the Musketeers, with backpacks and water bottles, swatting away mosquitos as if it actually helped.  We walked swiftly and carried a big stick, sorry for the Roosevelt reference.  I should have added one of those electric skeeter swatters.... maybe I will stop at Job Lot to get one for the next trail.  Or a whole body net suit.  My legs look like I have been attacked by the Tasmanian Devil.  None the less....
We followed the trail and located the hidden shell symbol and rubbed it into our passport to prove we have made it through another journey.  Only 1/2 mile or so hike, it wasn't too bad.  Though I did have to carry Mudge a good portion of the way back.  The trek was easy, nothing too steep or rugged.  Just challenging enough for the little ones.   

The interesting part was the drive.  It was long, but for as long as I have been a Rhode Islander, I have never been through Tiverton.  It is a beautiful part of the state with scenic views of waterfront, some gorgeous-make-you-jealous-houses, intertwined with farmland.  But since the drive was long and the hike was short, we stopped in at the Butterfly Zoo just 5 minutes down the road from the trail.

A small observatory with a variety of beautifully winged creatures in various states.  I even got to see the larva of a the death's head moth (below) from Silence of the Lambs, one of my favorite movies of all times.  For $23 for the five of us, it wasn't too bad, though I wished there were more in there.  It is towards the end of the season, so they aren't really replenishing them.  But it added to our Tiverton experience.

So if you are headed down 195, divert to route 24 South, then 77.  Bring the best damn bug spray, and let me know how it is.  Because OFF is NOT cutting it!

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Mini Paleontologist's Dream- another Penny Squisher Adventure

If your children (and most likely you) know more than one species of dinosaur from either Nick Jr.'s Dino Dan or PBS Dinosaur Train or even the How does a dinosaur series by Jane Yolen, then this is a must visit.

The Dinosaur Place is located in Montville, Connecticut, exit 77 off Route 395.  For less than $20 bucks per person aged 2-60, there is enough to keep everyone occupied for the day.  There is first a walking trail around Raptor Bay where you can get up close to life-size dinosaurs like Therazinosaurus, Parasaurolophus, Utahraptors, and Brachiosaurus as well as many more.  After a the trail, there is a maze leading you to the mouth of a TRex.

Now put on your suits and head for one of the best and largest zero-depth splash pads in the north east.  But remember to bring water shoes or flip flops. They are mandatory.  They do offer flip flops S, M, and L to borrow if you happen to forget.  The staff minding the area are incredibly diligent about keeping the running feet at bay, but they are kind and very good at what they do.  There are also changing rooms and rest rooms located right on site which is very convenient.  Even a little boy's urinal in the ladies room, since they end up in there with us anyway.

Then there is Monty's Playground, the envy of any and every schoolyard.  There are web structures galore that will allow the kids to climb to their hearts content.  And if you are the adult with them, it will bring your heart into your throat as they climb way further than you would want them to.

Since we have found this place, it has been an annual voyage. The boys look forward each year to going to the "dinosaur museum".  Today I had 4 boys, ages 3-11, and each one of them had a great time.  So great, all but the almost-6-year-old fell asleep in the back of the car on the ride home. Sweet.

If you are looking to make the trek, normal business hours for the outside adventure is from 9:30 (splash pad opens at 10) to 6 pm.  But check here for hours and events.  There are also indoor activities, for an additional cost.  And yes, there is a penny squisher.  Bring 2 quarters and 1 penny. :)    Pack a lunch (though there is food available) bring your camera, sunscreen, and water shoes, then get your dino on. Click here for a family-saving printable coupon.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Instead of Black and Orange for Halloween, Think Green

It's not even September and I am already thinking Halloween.  If you are like me, you probably have a quite a few barely-worn costumes sitting in the basement or attic, just calling out to you to “Wear me please. Let me help you collect as much hyper energizing candy as humanly possible…”  But the kids have outgrown them and don't feel like using them for dress up.  What to do?

Well maybe you should host a Costume Swap.  The people at Green Halloween think you should too.  Green Halloween is a program of the EcoMom Alliance which works to empower moms to help do their part to be environmentally conscious.  It was established in the summer of 2007 to help cut down on the excess waste in the land fills from the discarded costumes.  And then the National Costume Swap Day (on October 8th), a partnership of Green Halloween, and Kiwi magazine, launched in 2010, and was met with enthusiasm and over 70 registered swaps across the U.S. and in Canada, as well as a 1 minute, 38 second spot on Good Morning America.

If you think you might be interested in participating or hosting a swap, whether between friends, family or neighborhood, you can get some great tips on how to do so on their website including:

                Asking consignment shops and thrift stores if they want to get involved.
                Have a section for accessories; mismatched pieces of costumes that creative kids can use to put original get-ups together.
                Stage a dressing-room area. Or, you may want to encourage parents to bring kids dressed in a leotard or swim suit to avoid having to undress.
                Ask people to bring a shopping bag. Do not provide them.
                State that costumes should be in good to excellent condition, no significant spots, holes etc. (unless they are supposed to be there!). You should note on written materials that you have the right to reject costumes based on whatever criteria you like.

It's a great way to reduce, reuse, recycle and save some cash too.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Looking for a way to get out energy....

World War I Memorial Park, located at 401 Elmwood Street, North Attleboro is a hop, skip and jump from the Emerald Square Mall.  If you need to get some shopping done with the kids, and need some incentive for good behavior, this park might work for you.
WWI Memorial Park encompasses a great playground, with a massive climb and slide set, a toddler set up, a vestibular (tire) swing, a couple of standard sling swings and 1 supportive accessible swing for those with different abilities.  In another section, there is a huge "beach scene" sand pit.  And my boys favorite, a 40' tube slide to burn up any extra energy they may have left.  They went up and down probably close to 20 times. It was great.
But even if you are at stroller or Bjorn level, WWI Memorial Park also has a little "zoo" area with animals, as well as a marked path along the left side of the entire one way street for walking.
Even though it was super crowded today from day campers, the boys still had a blast.  Bring water bottles, snacks, lunches, sunscreen because you will be there for a while.  There are port-a-potties and water fountains (or bubblas for us northern Rhode Islanders).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Battleship Cove- Another Penny Squisher Adventure...

Battleship Cove located off exit 5 from Route 195 in Fall River, Massachusetts is the largest naval ship museum.  It offers a hands on and up close tour of 4 vessels: the USS Massachusetts, the submarine the Lionfish, the USS Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., and the East German Hiddensee.

It gives you a whole new appreciation for what the naval officers have done and seen.  They have a touching memorial in the USS Massachusetts with the names of those who served along with a video of their experiences in World War II.  There is also an outdoor movie called the Pearl Harbor Experience during which aqua-technics give you a sense for what it may have been like being on the ships during an attack.

Adjacent to the site is the The Fall River Carousel, of which I have vague memories of my visit with my grandparents during my childhood.
Though we had a pretty good time, comparing height and weight of the children to the humungous anchors and chains and checking out the bunks, I would throw out some recommendations:
  • Go on a not-so-hot day.  It gets stuffy and you will get sweaty walking and climbing through all of the vessels.
  • Not recommended for claustrophobes.  Tight spaces, especially in the sub.
  • After having my stomach in a knot for most of the visit, fearing one of my not-so-graceful children would trip and fall under the wide-gap netting plummeting them into the water 50+ feet below, I would recommend at least 6 years and up, if not 7.  The other reason for considering older children is that is ends up being A LOT of climbing up and down ladders and steep steps, approximately 2 1/2 hours to tour the 4 vessels.   Also, it is not stroller, wheelchair or walker friendly.  Its also recommended not to use baby backpacks for risks of head bopping into metal.
  • There is a concession stand, but we always pack a lunch and plenty of drinks.
  • There is a penny squisher! Bring 4 quarters and a penny for the souvenir.
  • Adults were $15 per person, 6-12 are $9, and under 6 is free.  Click here for a $1 off coupon.  Bring your AAA card for a $2 discount.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

YB and the Corner Blankie

Happiness is a warm blanket, Charlie Brown!~  Charles Schultz

Both of my children are Linus.  I was a Linus.  My husband was one too.  It is in our genes. We love our blankies.  Mine was a Noogie.  My mother's best friend Debbie made it for my sister, but she didn't like it.  And I attached myself to it.  They had to wait till I was sleeping to pry it off me in order to wash it.  Now I do the same for my own boys.

Boog's is the YB, short for yellow blankie.  At first, he had blue ones and only used the blues one, of which we had probably 10 varieties.  Then one day, he decided he only the yellow would do.  We had one.  Then miraculously my mother found two more exactly the same, so we could switch them out every couple of days.  It gets stinky.  He doesn't suck his thumb; instead he wraps the blankie around his thumb and shoves it in his mouth.  He has now graduated to the PB, Patriot's Blankie and gave Mudge the yellow one.  Mudge tries to be like him, shoving it into his mouth, but he gags and takes it out.  The Mudge is more of a  hand knitted blankie connoisseur.

He has MANY hand made blankets that various family members have made since his birth.  But none compare to his Corner Blankie.  He has strategically has pulled the soft cottony fibers from the edges of the blankets to create this fluff that he brushes ever so gently under the tip of his nose.  I love watching this.  He just zones out and brushes it back and forth, just like I used to do with the silk fiber of my Noogie. Funny how even the smallest details of childhood our passed through genetics...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Unplugged doesn't refer to MTV anymore...

So I just finished The Winter of Our Disconnect, a story of a media addicted family and its cold turkey Thoreau-esque attempt of making their house screen free for six months... and here I am at the dentist with one ear plugged in and typing this on my iPhone feeling a little guilty.   But the book really hit a nerve, in a good way.

Since the time my husband got the iPod touch, also known as Daddy's toy, our life has not been the same. Though the toy is fun and has saved us from countless tantrums, I have found that we have had more Face to Facebook time rather than face to face time, especially once the kids are in bed. I found we would both be on the couch, watching (and I use that term loosely) a show but both on either the iPod iPad or iPhone tooling around on various websites. I used to ask Kyle to put it away during movie time but now I have found myself giving into the temptation.

The author, Susan Maushart, provides insight and research into the effects of multimedia multitasking on society. And I believe it.  I see what it does. Tweens in the same room texting each other from across the couch. People at restaurants facebooking in the middle of a conversation rating their dates, right in front of them. People posting they are at the gynecologist getting a pap. Do I really need to know?  Dont get me wrong. Technology has it's place. But not at the dinner table. In the bathroom. And certainly not while in the stirrups.

Since reading the book I have found myself consciously making (and sometimes not successfully) an effort specifically to cut down Facebook time, as I have used that as my vice during time outs, flare ups and what nots, to make "connections" and throw stuff out into the digital world to make sure I am not the   only one with one foot in the hole.  

But one of the biggest points I took away from Susan's story was that boredom, often brought on by overstimulation, needs to occur to facilitate growth in creativity, socialization and humanism.  After all, without body language, we would be flat affected LOL when someone texted us "GYHOOYA IMNERHO we all suffer from FBOCD" (see The Largest List of Text Message Shorthand to decipher).

Monday, August 15, 2011

Two Weeks and Counting till the Real Mother's Day...

No, I have actually loved being home this summer but alas it is coming down to the wire.  School starts back up for me on my son's 6th birthday. This will be the first birthday I will have missed.  Which is totally going down in the mental rolodex as things-that-should-automatically-get-a-mom-out-of-work-card.

But regardless, we still have to start getting back into school routine.  So this week is the re-initaition of sleep by 7 pm.  My kids are ogres when they don't get enough sleep. Add the stress (good and bad) of going back to school, and they are apt to have meltdowns.  Though returning to the same school, Boog will be entering first grade. AHHHHHHH! Sorry.  Just can't believe my Boog is a "grader" now.  Though, him grammatically correcting me should be a hint that he is ready to go back.  "Mom, you mean WHEN we're ready to go in the pool, not AFTER..."  My bad.

Mudge, well, he is going to Boog's school for preschool.  I am hoping for a smooth transition as he will have his big, bad older brother to protect him.  But I am also praying for his teacher, as he holds up his halo with devil horns.  Needless to say it will be an interesting year.

We are pretty lucky since back-to-school shopping only consisted of materials, on sale at Target, Staples, and whereever else had the stuff under a buck.  Boog wears a uniform, the best thing ever! And Mudge frankly doesn't need any clothes.  I bought backpacks on clearance from LL Bean a few months ago, as well as the lunch boxes from Lands End.  So I feel ready...ish.

With all that under my belt, I think I'll start Chrismakkah shopping ;)

What are your back to school preparations like???

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Getting Rid of Your Stuff

With yard sale season beginning its downhill decent and school is just around the corner, I just wanted to share a  great guest post from organizing guru, Bonnie Dewkett, The Joyful Organizer.

It seems as if we all have too much stuff and not enough space.  It doesn’t matter how much you make, or how big your house is, we all fight the battle of clutter day in and day out.  So its time to really think about what is taking up space in your home.  Do you love your possessions?  Do you use them?  Many times, knowing that someone will be able to use your items better than you can is enough to help you get rid of some of those under used or unwanted items.  Below you will find some ways to donate and even make some money from your old items.

Craig’s List
Craig’s List is a free website that allows you to list items for sale and for free.  Each city and state has their own site so do a search to find the one closest to you.  We have all heard that you should use caution when using Craig’s List and that’s true.  Don’t give out personal information such as your address to strangers.  Protect yourself first and foremost.  However, because Craig’s List is a high traffic site, you will be able to sell or give away items very quickly and easily.
Free Cycle
Like Craig’s List, is area specific.  Items on this site are completely free.  The purpose of the site is to keep items out of the landfill and keep them in use by someone.  You will be shocked as to what someone may want.  On Freecycle its very true that what is trash to one person, is treasure to another.  For example, broken china may be trash to you, but a wonderful find for an artist. 

We all know its great to recycle, but not many of us know where we can recycle items such as light bulbs, batteries and computers.  Earth911 ( can answer all of those questions for you.  Use the search option on the site to search for item specific recycling centers in your geographic area.

Everyone has heard of eBay.  Many of us have made purchases on it.  However, it’s a great way to get rid of your unwanted items.  Do a quick search for the item you want to sell to see what it, or like items, are selling for on the site.  You will want to price your items accordingly.  All you need to do to get started is take a few photos, make sure you have a clear description and determine what value you want from your item.  Remember, if its being unused in your home, getting ANYTHING from it is more than you have now.

While everyone has heard of The Salvation Army and Goodwill, there are lots of organizations that reply on donations to survive.  Close to my home, I have a women’s shelter that assists women going through difficult times in their life.  Call around and find your local shelters and ask what they will take.  Many shelters are always in need of toiletry items.  Clean out your travel sizes and donate them!

eBay Stores
If you think your items may have value but you don’t want to take the time to sell them yourself, find a local eBay store.  These stores will accept your items and will sell them on your behalf.  My local store will photograph the item, manage the auction and ship it when the auction ends.  They do take a percentage, but that is well worth the time I have saved my clients. 

Find a Charity
If none of the above options appeal to you, use Charity Navigator to find a charity to accept your donations.  The site, ( will help you find a charity in your area that accepts your items.  This is a great solution if you have a hard time parting with items.  Search for a charity that is meaningful to you and donating your items will seem much easier.

Remember, there isn’t a one size fits all donation location.  It will take a little time and effort.  However, knowing that your possessions are being used and loved by others will make it all worthwhile. If you need a little assistance, contact a professional organizer. 

Resource Box:  Bonnie Joy Dewkett is the owner and operator of The Joyful Organizer.  She offers professional organization services to help you organize your home and your life.  Email The Joyful Organizer at for your free home organization guide or to schedule your free organizational consultation.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Children of the Corn Maze....

Just got the email that Fort Hill Farms (gem of Thompson) will be opening August 20th!

Not that I am done with summer, but I love the fall.  I love apple picking, apple crisp, hot apple cider, appletinis, pork chops and applesauce.... but I also love corn mazes.  It has been a while since I have done one, the last one being I think when Boog was able to fit in a backpack.  So I am looking forward to checking out the farm's 2011 maze.

From what I have read, there will also be a Maize Quest, or scavenger hunt, in which you will have to search for clues about farming and what not.  And it's six acres, you might want to bring an overnight bag if you are geographically and topographically challenged.

The other benefit is that when you have succeeded in actually getting out of the maze, you can get fresh Farmer's Cow ice cream. I wonder if they will have an apple flavor....

Anyway, their hours of operation are Sunday thru Thursday 10-5, Fridays and Saturdays 10-10.  If you are brave enough and don't fear a Stephen King story waiting to happen, you can bring flashlights for the night time adventures.  Good luck and maybe we'll see you there, camped out with rations and signal flares, unkempt because I'll have been lost with the kids for hours...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Adventures in coaching...

Yeah. This may be a series of unfortunate events over the next few weeks as I have taken on the role of Coach for under 6 recreational league this fall.... for soccer.

Let me preface that I have never played soccer.  Many of my friends were soccer players so maybe I was one by association or osmosis.  But either way I know very little except you don't use your hands.

So today the BGYSA was hosting a coaches' clinic.  First note to self: wear sneakers.  I was busy most of the day and wore flip flops, went to the library for a party, left there to go to the field.  Nothing in the email stated I should be ready to play.  But maybe I should have known.  I thought it was going to be going over rules and regulations or something. Silly me.

None the less, I ran around in my very inappropriate footwear  also without the correct over the shoulder boulder holder.  Second note to self: wear a sports bra.  It's not like we ran laps but we were kicking, or shall I use the correct lingo passing, jogging, sweating, and what not.  Learning techniques, not drills.  Fine.

There was one other woman in the group, which made me feel better but I was definitely the only rookie.  Most of the men there had probably played in high school so there was a little bit of that testosterone around, but overall everyone was pretty nice.  I had no idea what the guy was talking about a good percentage of the time.  But really, it is under 6, so if I can get some basics like trapping and passing without causing bodily or emotional scarring to the children, I think I will be good.

It was nice to find out there was a set of parents who started coaching last year without experience, coming back again because they had a great time.  Wish me luck.  This should be interesting.......

Let's Go Patriots!

Ok, if you don't already know, I am a big Patriots fan.  And therefore we are molding our children to be as well.  So the past few years, we've gone to Training Camp, which is the coolest thing for kids and adults.
First, it's free. Free parking.  Free activities like the Patriots Experience full of bouncy house galore and the occasional Patriot Cheerleader signings.  Free close viewing of the Patriots practicing.  And free signings after practice, if you are lucky enough.
I have been fortunate enough to go to a few games, in the nosebleeds.  Training camp, however, allowed us to get closer than we ever thought we would.  Like yesterday, Training Camp was hosted in the stadium.  We sat right behind the uprights.  We were feet away from the field.  As a fan, it was awesome.  Though I don't think the boys appreciated how unlikely this situation was, at least Kyle and I did.  Because unless we are willing to shell out a couple of hundred bucks each, we won't be sitting there again until next Training Camp.

I have always been impressed by the way the Kraft family and the Patriot organization handles community and fans.  Their philanthropy is impressive.  They have their "Kick Cancer" campaign to increase cancer awareness and early detection.  Their Patriots Charitable Foundation provides donations and grants to worthy applicants.  And they even do Player Appearances.  Last year, I had the pleasure of getting Patrick Pass to come to my school as part of Play 60 and Reading Week.  Everyone was so amazed with his enthusiasm and kindness throughout his visit.  Of course, I was sick in bed so after months of planning, I didn't even get to meet him.... c'est la vie.
So if you are a Patriots fan you should make your way to Patriot Place at Foxboro soon.  With the first preseason game on for tonight, looks like your next Training Camp viewing will be this Saturday from 1:30-4:00.  It does get crowded so if you can get there early, do.  Bring water bottles, snacks and sunscreen.  Maybe a football and a Sharpie if you are lucky.