Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Fatigue = Mudget Meltdown

I giggle sometimes when Friday comes along since I know Mudge has not had a nap alllllll week.  It's not the teacher's fault, it's not his fault, but certainly he has not grown out of them.  So by Friday, he is a wreck.  Last night he was asleep by 6:20.  Of course, he woke up at 5:30 this morning, but that was expected.

And today was no different.  As with most Fridays, we went to Papa's for supper.  Nudge, I mean Mudge, ate half his dinner and played with his brother and cousin for a bit.  He took his shower, but his mood was distinctively changing.  Like when I turned off the shower and he did NOT want that to happen.  Like when I put on the tiger towel, which was NOT the one he wanted.  Like when he told me "you're NOT gonna be my mommy anymore."  Yeah, I could see where this was going.

He went upstairs naked as a jay bird.  I tried to help him get his jammies on, but he decided NOT to wear underwear and took them off.  Then proceeded to have a hissy fit until we got home.  Awesome, I know. Probably not that different than what you may experience as well with your preschooler.  I suppose it is why I share, in hopes that I am NOT the only one, and neither are you.

And if you want a soundtrack to this experience, check out Justin Roberts' Meltdown.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Guest Post: Scrapbooking, The Joyful Organizer Way


Its that time of year again.  It’s time to get the kids ready for school, and to get back into your daily routine.  As summer vacations come to an end now is the perfect time to make sure your photos end up in scrapbooks instead of show boxes.

We take photographs to remember the moments with our friends and family.  For many, these photos end up stashed away, never to be looked at again.  Here are some solutions for getting your photos in order, out of the shoeboxes, and into albums.

Start with your most recent summer or vacation photos.  When you come home from vacation, decide what you want to have printed.  Many people who utilize digital photography still insist on printing all of their photos.  Print only the ones that you will put into an album.

Having your photos printed right away gives you the luxury of remembering the order in which events occurred.  Most people want to show off their photos when they return home, not six months down the road. 

Once you have selected your vacation photos and had them printed, make an appointment with yourself to put them into an album, or a scrapbook.  Try to do this within one month of returning from your vacation.  After all, you want to show them off right away don’t you?

While still on vacation, write down your daily itinerary.  (If you have already returned home, write down what you can remember.)  At dinner each night, have your family write down their favorite moments, rides, or meals. Use these cards to help you create albums and scrapbooks.  Make sure to pack index cards and pens when you go on vacation! 

If you are ready to organize all of your photos, start by gathering them from all over your home.  Next, discard any unwanted duplicates, blinking photos, or just plain bad shots.  If you don’t want to show it off, is it worth keeping?

Then organize the remaining photos by year, child, or event.  Set aside the photos you want to put into albums or scrapbooks, and purchase plastic photo storage boxes for the rest.  Clearly label the contents of each box. 

Some direct marketing scrapbook companies offer photo-sorting classes.  Consider hosting one for your friends.  This will help everyone get organized! 

To ensure that scrapbooking is as easy on you as possible, keep a stockpile of materials (stickers, pages, adhesives, etc) on hand.  This way when you have ten minutes you can scrapbook instead of having to take a trip out for supplies. 

If you want to learn to scrapbook, fall and winter is a perfect time.  When purchasing scrapbook materials look for acid and lignin free products.  Products specifically designed for scrapbooking will help preserve your photos’ longevity.  You no longer have to seek out a specialty scrapbook store to buy products.  Scrapbooking materials are carried by large craft stores  and superstores.  There are also many direct marketing products available.

Digital photography is the easiest medium to store and organize.  When you return home from a vacation (or at the end of the summer), upload your photos from your camera or memory card to your computer.  Use only software program to organize all of your photos.  Create clearly labeled folders to seperate the photos.  For example, 4th of July, 2007, Maine.   Once all the photos are safely stored on your computer, make sure you back them up via DVD, or an external hard drive.   Take the time to delete any photos that you don’t want to keep so they don’t take up unnecessary space on your computer. 

If learning to scrapbook is more than you have time for, consider creating “lazy albums” for your kids or other family members.  When you order your photos, have extras created of at least one photo per event.  This can be a group shot of all the people that attended, or something especially memorable from the event.  Purchase albums or scrapbooks for these photos.  Every time you have a set of photos developed, add your selected photo to the album.  This creates an album that showcases all of life’s greatest events.  These albums are great to give your kids when they leave for college.  They are also great to give as gifts.  If your child is creative and loves art projects, allow them to take part in creating a “lazy album”.

If organizing all of your photos is a daunting task, hire a professional organizer to assist you.  Photos are often the only items we have left from life’s most important events.  Keep them organized so that future generations can enjoy them!

Remember that your photos are sometimes the only item you have left after an event, vacation or visit!  Take care of them so future generations may enjoy them, learn from them and hand them down through the generations. 

Written by Bonnie Joy Dewkett
Bonnie Joy Dewkett is the owner of The Joyful Organizer, LLC.  The Joyful Organizer LLC offers professional organization services to families in the greater Ridgefield area.  

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Dear John Letter... to Stop and Shop

Dear John,

By the time you read these lines I'll be gone.  We have share some good times together.  Savings. 10 for $10. By one, get one free. The double your dollar off coupons.  But recently, I just don't feel like you love me anymore.

Life goes on.  Right or wrong.  I ate out of date cheese.  It might not have been your fault the first time.  But when it happens again, I just can't take the pain.

The sun has come and gone, poor John.   I am leaving you for a someone who might treat me better.  Offer more varieties of organic and fresh foods.  And hopefully keep out of date items off the shelf.  His name is Dave.  And I will be visiting his Marketplace from now on.

Yours truly,
Me

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

HyperSwipe Fun-alysis.

Yup, I thinking I might have to trademark that one.

I have had the wonderful opportunity to provide feedback on another Think Fun game: HyperSwipe. A a fast paced game with focus on visual skills.

The last couple of times I have discussed specific visual perceptual skills, but I should back track and explain what they are and why they are important.
Visual Perception- the ability to understand what you are seeing
Visual Closure- the ability to visualize a whole image when only partial is given
Visual Motor Integration- the ability for your body and eyes to work together
Visual Discrimination- the ability to note the similarities and differences between items
Figure Ground- the ability to distinguish an image from its background
Form Constancy- the ability to mentally turn images and figure out what they would look like
Visual Spatial Relations- the ability to perceive objects' position to one another and yourself
Visual Memory- the ability to recall what was seen

When you have difficulty with any of these skills, it could affect fluency in reading, writing, moving, and basically anything else that you do during the day.

Now that your up to speed, let's swipe.  

HyperSwipe, though rated for 6 and up, was also enjoyed by Mudge who is "3 and 3 quarters."  Once we got the gist of the instructions, it was actually pretty easy.  You install 2-AA batteries into the HyperSwiper and place the circle swipe cards in the slot.  Pass out a few square swipe cards to each player.  Then as the image cards pop out, you try to make a match.  But you need to be careful, because the pictures are very similar.  If you pick the wrong one, you lose a point.  And then you keep matching until the circle cards are all gone.  To make it easier to remember to get another square card to continue with the game, I say "Put the matches over there (match pile), and take another square."

It did take a few rounds to get the game going.  But I found it was easier to teach it to kids when we started off with at least 2 cards each, not one since you could all NOT have a match.  Then I increased the number of swipe cards each round.

This game is a fun way to address:

  • visual closure since some of the images are blocked by the HyperSwiper's design.
  • visual discrimination since you have to pay close attention to the details to make the match
  • form constancy, the images on the square swipe card are different size and in different positions

The HyperSwiper did jam up a few times during each round, but was easily fixed.  And I am going to stick some non-skid on the feet of the HyperSwiper to keep it from sliding around.  But overall, everyone I have shared it with, kids and adults, has enjoyed trying to outswipe their opponent.  At about $25, it is in the higher end of cost compared to many of Think Fun's other games.  But it's fun.  It's quick. And it can support perceptual development.

Other ways to play:

  • Keep one hand behind your back
  • Have the kids keep score to address writing skills
  • When scoring, sort first by shape (line up all the squares, then the circles).  Then use 1:1 correspondence: place one circle on each square card. then count your pairs.

video
Mudge's response after scoring!

Monday, September 26, 2011

A-Maze-Ing Perspectives at Fort Hill Farms

How someone can design a corn maze and make it with a weed whacker and a GPS is beyond me.  But Kristin Orr owner of Fort Hill Farms in Thompson, Connecticut did just that.
If you ever have the pleasure of meeting Kristin, you may be in awe of her positive energy.  She has a way with words, literally.  She goes around forming zen quotes about peace throughout the farm.  Today, she showed me "A-maze-in-grace", formed in rocks.  She not only shared with me her passion for words, but I could just tell about her passion for farming and agriculture as well.  She and her family have owned Fort Hill Farms for over 20 years.  The ice cream business, just for the past two.  The namesake to this year's corn maze "The Farmer's Cow" is from their desire to produce and distribute the freshest dairy around.
I inadvertently learned quite a bit today when I took the boys over to the farm to complete the maze after school. I figured it might be the only nice day of the week to do it, and Fort Hill is open daily, weather permitting.  Did you know there is difference between a maze and a labyrinth?  There is.  And you can find it out at Fort Hill Farm's Corn Maze.  For $7 per person, you can do the Milk Carton Labyrinth to find your fortune.  By locating the five flavors throughout the condensed labyrinth, placing a different chalk color on each finger, you can learn your destiny.
 It was actually oddly eerie that Boog's fortune was that he "Walks the Straight and Narrow."  Um, yes in fact, he does.  Mudge's fortune was that he "Aspires greatness."  And I, of course, "spend my time wisely."  Kinda funny.   Not surprisingly Kristin created the fortunes.  It took us about a half hour to complete the path and find our fortunes.  Then, of course, we had ice cream.  Muddy Boots.  Mint Chip. Nutter Butter Chocolate something.  All I remember is that it was delicious.
Though we didn't have a chance today to complete the formal Maze, we will hopefully go back before it closes in November.  If you happen to want some peace, tranquility and ice cream, head to Fort Hill Farms.  You just might find it there.  Or you just get lost and become fortunate.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Incredible Shrinking Mudget

My second child, Mudge, is "3 and 3 quarters years old". And he is out-weighed by four of his 15-22 month old cousins.

He has always been small.  He was 6-8 when he was born, even though I was a gestational diabecca.
He has consistently fallen loosely around the 10th to 25th percentile for height and weight.  I fear he has been cursed with my maternal genes, as most of my family member are less than five foot three.

He suffers from NoAssAtAll Syndrome.  Often spending more time giving people a full moon than keeping them up.  Regardless of size of pants.  Today he was wearing 2T shorts and spent half the birthday party with them around his ankles.
We've tried the stretching technique.....
He.... eats...... very.........................slowly.  Unless given snack foods.  We have conceded to put on a timer at supper time since it will take him over an hour to take a few bites.  We used to play the flick game.  If we counted to three before he took a bite, we could flick him in the head.  That worked for a while.

Unfortunately he is just a grazer.  And would eat snacks all day long if given the chance.  It's not sensory.  It doesn't appear metabolic.  It's just him.  And it's annoying.  So today we measured him against the wall, like we usually do with the boys.  And you know what, he shrank.  I am sure it is related to user failure (ie me not being incredibly accurate) but it worked in our favor.  We told him if he doesn't start eating better, he'll disappear by Christmas.

Is that bad?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

You still have Sunday to checkout Kidsfest!

If you are trying to figure out something to do with the family that incorporates bouncy houses, free healthy snacks, free schwag, and kid friendly entertainment then head to Wachusett Mountain 21st Annual Kidsfest.

The boys and I went today and we had a blast.  After all the rain last night, the grounds were mushy and muddy (no different than soccer this morning) but that didn't stop the show.  The North East Trixstars BMX bikers doing stunts, that Boog claims that he will do when he is 11.  There was a stiltwalker: Mom, where are his feet?  There was enough calcium enriched foods like the TruMoo Garelick farms stands giving away free chocolate and plain mild and the Stoneyfield guys dispersing delicious yogurt, cheese, and milk goodies, to strengthen the bones of all of Massachusetts.

Boog at the Worcester Sharks Hockey Shoot Out
There were reps from tons of local kid related business from the Worcester area including karate, golf, hockey (Go Sharks!), care centers, and gymnastics.  And we didn't even get to stay to see the Blue Dog Group do their amazing frisbee stunts.  Oh, and we "met" Smokey the Bear, you remember "Only you can prevent forest fires."  Well, Boog was not keen on going near the bear in jean with red suspenders, but at least he took the hat.

Entering one of the at least 5 bouncies.

Mudge learning the art of golf at the PGA tent
There were so many food products being given away, my bag was stuffed.  My snack drawer is now full of goodies.  So bring an extra back pack or something.  You can go there hungry, and come out full from tasting a ton of stuff. But they do have concessions and BBQ there if you need something a little more substantial.
I swear I didn't hoard.  That was just a one of each from the kids and me.

After about 2 hours there, the boys were toast and I wasn't going to push the limits.  Though I was lucky enough to have gone for the nadda, my friends that accompanied me agreed that the $8-10 admission fee, free for 2 and under, is well worth the bouncy house exercise and the free snacks.  There are other activities for additional fees, like the Sky Ride, crafts, and such.    Overall, it is a great way to spend the day finding new activities to do while wearing the kids out!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Pinkyberry should change its name to Yummy Deliciousness

Pinkberry.  I was a virgin till today.  And once you go pink, you'll never want to have anything else.  

After getting the bug put in my ear by Jen at Savor the Thyme , I have been stewing about when I would get there.  Because Cranston is just way too far away.   And today was the day.  After returning some items, I saw the Pinkberry sign.  It called to me as if to say, you don't need to eat lunch first.  I walked through the doors to be greeted by delightful "swirlers".   They offered me tastes of each of the six soft serve fro yo flavors before making a decision.  Mango or Coconut.  I ate, pondered, ate some more, pondered some more.  I really wanted an Almond Joyish experience, but the Mango talked to me.

Then I could add toppings.  And not just any toppings, but fresh fruit, chopped daily my swirler explained, as well as shaved coconut, white chocolate chips, heath bars and others.  There were new products too, fruit gems, looking like fruity caviar.   I loved the little quick blurbs stating how many calories were in a serving of topping.

As I had never been there before, it was like a cross between a Cold Stone Creamery and a smoothie bar.  But it was so much more.  It makes you think healthy.  And I like the serving sizes.  Even though it was a little over $3 for the mini with topping (Mango fro yo, dark chocolate crisps, and Mango pearl thingys), it was a just right size.  Though I could have eaten a ton more.

Thank god Cranston is too far for me to drive on a daily basis (I know, Rhode Island mentality) because if it were in Smithfield, I would be in big trouble.  You will either thank me or curse me: Find a Pinkberry near you.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I didn't know it existed....

October 30th is apparently National Candy Corn Day!  Sweet Delectableness!
Here is everything you wanted to know about the tasty triangular treat and were afraid to ask...

Candy corn is fat free. So I won't gain weight if I eat an entire bag?

Candy corn has approximately 3.57 calories per delectable kernel, As much as a grape. An appropriate equivalent, I think. A "veggie" for a fruit?

A cup of candy corn has less calories than a cup if raisins. Well just give me another reason to eat a whole cup then.

Candy corns are built from the top to the bottom. Where do you start your candy? At the top!(sorry I couldn't help myself)
Yes, I do love them.  Thank you Philadelphia.
The Philadelphia-based Wunderlee Candy Company's George Renninger, invented this popular candy back in the 1880s. Can we assume there is a correlation between the invention of the delicious sweet and the publishing of some of the times most memorable literature like the Adventures of Huck Finn, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Sherlock Holmes?

So go to your local store and celebrate this most sacred of days, October 30th.
And when the children are in bed, you can indulge in this...
From the Food Network, here is the recipe for Candy Corn Cordials

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I'm one of those...

Yup. I'm one of them.

The people who start holiday shopping riduluously early. Technically, I start the day after Christmas with phenomenal sales on wrapping paper, gift bags, and the occasional chotchkee. It is sick and I thought about joining shopper anonymous. But then I realized it could be worse. I could be paying full price. Nooooooooo! Not that!

So I continue sale shopping all year long for cool items. Gymboree, Children's Place, and Land's End have great clearance sales by the middle of the seasons. It is a great way to stock up on the next size up on good quality clothing. Oriental trading post has competitively priced craft items to make your own ornaments. If you are really good, each week you can go to Michael's, Joann Fabrics, or AC Moore to take advantage of their 40-50% off coupons to stock up on frames for those kiddie family pictures and other random knick knacks.

What I have experienced though while zenning out on Internet sale shopping is the "oh shitake" factor when I have realized I have gone over my budget or that I have lost track of what I have stored in my gift closet. It does happen. But those are gifts and I will eventually use them for my umpteen nieces and nephews and the inevitable school friends' birthday parties. But this year I might take a new approach and place the cash budgetEd and resulting receipts for each person into an accordion filer. That way I will only spend what I have allotted for them. We will see if that works.

Regardless, I find Chrismakwanzakkah shopping really comes down to a few things: keeping an eye on sales, remembering whey you have already purchased, and sticking to a budget.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Mancala, sowing the seeds of fun

I do love games. Some, yes, I buy. Others I have received. And then there are some you can make. Like Mancala.

Mancala is an old tribal game that used to be played using holes in the dirt, rocks and seeds. Now you can purchase beautifully intricate boards with "rocks" to match. No matter with what pieces you play, the game will still be the same.

Players begin by placing a certain number of "jewels" in each of the pits on the game board, we tend to use four per pit. Then the players alternate turns removing the jewels and placing one in each of the following pits in sequence and capturing opponent's jewels based on the state of board.  There are other parts to the execution of the game as well which includes turns ending when your jewel ends in an empty spot, not the home pot, as well as getting extra turns if your last jewel ends in your home pot.

But what is really fun is to make your own board. Start out by reusing a clean and empty egg carton. Collect little trivets four times the number of pits you have, ie. 48 pieces for a dozen, 24 for a half, etc. You can use buttons, rocks, legos, or whatever else you have lying around. Then get a small cup or bowl for each end as the "pot". Easy peasy lemon squeezey as Boog might say.
Also called Ghetto Mancala from http://theredscot.blogspot.com/2009/06/ghetto-mancala.html

It gets addicting. And with the correct demonstration even a three year old can learn. So if they can so can old dogs.  Other benefits, fine motor manipulation, counting, 1:1 correspondence, language development, social pragmatics, problem solving and a history lesson all wrapped up in a fun and ancient game.

You can check out Wikipedia for further detailed variations and instructions.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Wachusett Mountain, not just for skiing

Wa....
Wa...
Wachusett.
Wachusett Mountain, mountain skiing, minutes away.

I suppose it is good advertising, since it has been engrained into my brain.

Regardless, Wachusetts has more to offer than just snowy slopes.  In the fall, the mountain hosts a plethora of activities.

This weekend, September 24-25, is the KidsFest.  Music, food, and fun for the whole family. Admission varies if you purchase ahead of time compared to door price, and if you want to take advantage of packages.  Under 2 is free.

October 15-16 brings the Apple Fest.
The Apple Fest last year was AWESOMELY DELICIOUS! Local honey, local apples, local maple syrup, and maple cotton candy.  Besides the local foods, there were local craft vendors.  There was a variety of entertainment like clowns, bouncy houses, lifts to the top of the mountain.  Just a ton to do.  Plus AAA offers a discount, check it out.
You think I like food much?  I love BBQ. And I might have to just live there October 22-23. Its BBQ to the max with proceeds benefitting the Greg Hill Foundation.  Enough said.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Birthdays were so much cooler when I was younger....

For my 6th birthday, I wanted a pony.

For my 12th birthday, I wanted Nintendo.

For my 16th birthday, I wanted a car.

For my 21st birthday, I wanted to win a million dollars at Foxwoods.

Now for my 32nd birthday, all I wanted were Smartwool Socks.
Amazing how wants change.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Fall Fun

I love fall.  It is probably my most favorite time of year.  The weather is cool and crisp.  It makes me want everything apple, pumpkin or candy corn.  So I have been putting my feelers out on local places to do pick-your-owns.
Amazingly enough, there is a site called, you guessed it, Pick Your Own that helps identify places to harvest apples, berries, pumpkins, and whatever else might be in season in different Rhode Island counties.  I just highlighted a few in Providence County that I think I might stop by:
Barden Family Orchard in North Scituate, RI
Dame Farm and Orchards in Johnston, RI
Harmony Farms in Harmony, RI. I have been here a few years ago when Boog was just in a stroller. It was off the beaten path and quaint.
Steere Orchard in Greenville, RI.
Hill Orchards in Johnston, RI. They even provide a run down of exactly when to pick certain types of apples on their site.
Wojcik's Farm in Blackstone, MA. Though not in RI, its just a few minutes away for us, so we went there last year and had a great time.
Looking for a productive way to get lost?
Pumpkin Patches and More.org provide a listing of hay rides, corn mazes, and pumpkin patches in the Rhode Island area.

But if you live in Massachusetts, you can check out Davis's Farmland and MegaMaze. Always an impressive adventure.  Last time we went, Boog was in the toddler back pack and it took us well over an hour.

Near Putnam, Connecticut is Fort Hill Farms, hosting a Farmer's Cow corn maze in 2 abilities, under 8, lasting about 30 minutes, and over 8 which could take nearly an hour and a half, per their comments. Plus, you can get their delicious ice cream after you've worked up an appetite :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Think Fun!? Absolutely with Cartoon It!

I was granted the opportunity to give my humble opinion on another Think Fun Jr. game: Cartoon It!  When it arrived in the mail it was like Hannumas (or Chrismakkah, the combo holiday in our home).  I opened it up and asked the boys if they wanted to play.  Like they would ever say no to a game night....
I read the instructions, nice and easy.  Memorize It.  Draw It.  Score It.  Rinse and Repeat.

Though at first Boog was a little intimidated and discouraged, thinking he couldn't draw the items, he quickly learned that with the visual cue of the Feature Board, he could do it.  He was so proud of himself.  And so was I.  I was also amazed at first how poor my visual memory was, but soon I redeemed myself and rightfully recalled and illustrated all six features.  Surprisingly enough, even Mudge, at 3 1/2, eagerly participated.  However, his artistic renditions of the characters looked more like amoeba.

I think we did at least four sessions of Cartoon It! that night.  And it was fun.  So much so, I had to bring it to work and share it with my students and colleagues.  This is why:

Great visual perceptual activity!
It addresses key components of:

  • visual memory
  • spatial relations
  • visual discrimination
  • visual attention
  • copying
  • visual motor integration

Of course, during the therapeutic play session, you get language development:

  • body concepts
  • attention
  • vocabulary building
  • positional words
  • sequencing
  • play and social pragmatics
Then I thought of variations and modifications to the game so that it could be tailored to some of the special needs population with which I work.
  • Focusing on same/different results of the drawings
  • Copying the 6 features and allowing the kids to cut and paste a matching cartoon
  • Limiting choices by blocking the field- i.e. making it a field of less than 6 from each category depending on ability
  • Use broken crayons or golf pencils to promote grasp formation
  • Extend "Memorizing" time for those that need it
  • It's even measurable! You can track progress easily by the checkmarks of accurately copied features.
I love, love, love this game.  And in the brief time I have had it, I have managed to hook a few kids and adults onto it as well.  Give it a try, it is well worth the investment for home and school.  You can find it for less than $20 on Think Fun's SiteAmazon, Barnes and Noble, Sears and others.

Cartoon It! is recommended for ages 6 and up.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Think Green this Halloween......

While we were putting out the trash tonight, we noticed something: we don't have that much.  For a family of four, we only put out a standard 13 gallon bag along with a mini one from the bathroom.  We have managed to cut down our waste greatly over the past year with increased recycling and composting.  Now, I am setting my sights on a greener Halloween.
Green Halloween promotes and celebrates eco friendly holiday ideas.  The Costume Swap is by far one of their largest ventures helping more than 24 states (RI not included yet) host National Costume Swaps on October 8th.  Besides saving money, costume swaps help prevent tons of wasted fabrics, plastics and other assorted nasties from entering the rubbage receptacles.  Like a yard sale, hosting sites may have various items, styles and sizes from which to pick, trade, or purchase depending on the site.  If you think you might be interested in checking out a swap, click here for registered sites.  If you are interested in hosting one, Green Halloween has great tips on how to get started.
 Want some other tips?

  • Paper towel holders can be painted and decorated to become accessories for pirates, scientists, rock stars, and more.
  • Non toxic Piggy Paint can let your child coordinate his/her nail polish without the harsh chemicals
  • If you want to not use a mask, but are concerned about face painting, The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics provides natural home made do-it-yourself recipes for face paint
  • Decorate your own goodie bag from a used paper or plastic store bag, or even better, the reusable ones probably in the back of your car.  
  • Make decorative scarecrows and ghosts with old tee shirts, pants, and stuff the kids and you may have outgrown
  • Instead of decorating windows with paper goods, there are many brands of window crayons, like Crayola

Monday, September 12, 2011

Passport to the Trails: Caratunk Wildlife Refuge

Way into Seekonk, MA, I say this relative to my location in the northwestern corner of Rhode Island, is the Caratunk Wildlife Refuge.
This was our 5th expedition on our Passport to the Trails from the Audubon Society of Rhode Island (just one more to go to get our special prizes).  And I have to say, probably the most pleasant of hikes we have had to date.  It was a gorgeous 70 degree day, low humidity, and low mosquito count.
The trail itself was very easy and short.  It took about 20 minutes to find the hidden symbol.  With our short little legs, it was just enough, as Mudget really needed a nap.
The oddity of the day was the plethora of grasshoppers.  I have never seen so many in one area, it was unreal. I didn't realize until the end that all of the flashes of flight were actually the grasshoppers heading from the flattened grassy trail, into the leafy tall grasses to hide.  I thought initially they were moths. Silly me.
Overall, the Passport program has helped me help my boys discover and explore natural habitats.  It has also helped me play with my camera and do some photography. You have until September 30th, 2011 to complete at least 6 trails in order to get a prize.  I would highly recommend this FREE program for families next summer, so they may challenge themselves into getting into to nature more often.