Middle Schoolers Win the Scrabble Tournament

Monday, Apr 27, 2009 2:47pm  |  COMMENTS (8)

scrabble paolo.jpgTalk about smokin’. I just heard that more local kids reigned victorious over the weekend. I wrote about awesome essay writer Shanelle Russell earlier today.
Just in case you didn’t hear, last weekend was the National School Scrabble Championship in Rhode Island.
Three 6th graders from Glenfield Middle School in Montclair finished in the top 16 kid Scrabble players in the nation.
Sixth grader Paolo Federico-O’Murchu (middle child in photo), 11, made it all the way to the championship final. Along with team member Nicky Vasquez (at right), 10, from Livingston, Paolo won a $5,000 prize. Together, they whooped several teams of 7th and 8th graders.
Two more Glenfielders, Conor McGeehan (left) and Rachel Keller, both 11, finished 8th out of 102 teams from across the country.
Feeling inspired, I just might dust off my own Scrabble. Go to Scrabble’s site for useful tips and tools. Meanwhile, here are a few creative word ideas that might come in handy next time you play…

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Kids Create: Recycled Placemats, Plants & Mud Pie

Monday, Apr 27, 2009 10:34am  |  COMMENTS (0)

recycled placemat.jpgEveryone wants to be good to the environment (except for Kristen), and going green is on our minds especially around Earth Day. So I have been thinking of what to do with all the worksheets and random pages of scribbles 3-year-old Alan creates. We decided to turn them into placemats. You know, so he’ll have something to eat his mud pie on (chocolate pudding).
We also wanted a centerpiece. So we decorated old formula cans and put inexpensive plants. Because we got hungry, we also made our mud pie.
Here’s how we did this easy, fun craft.

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Montclair High School Senior Writes About Genocide

Monday, Apr 27, 2009 10:10am  |  COMMENTS (0)

armenian_genocide.jpgCongratulations to Shanelle Russell, a high school senior from Montclair.
Yesterday, she was honored at the 94th Anniversary Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide (1915-1923) at a ceremony in Times Square.
Shanelle wrote an essay on this intense, important topic, and she took first place in a nationwide contest.
1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Ottoman Empire. Shanelle wrote:

“The world has led crusades and jihads for love and peace and often times has been victorious. However, there were no pins, no ribbons, nor billboards for Armenia, a place that had so desperately needed and desired peace…
The world has seen genocides in Germany, in Armenia, in Rwanda, in Cambodia and throughout the entire globe. Today, the world sees genocide in Sudan. Is there to be no end to this cycle of hate and pain? This cycle has not yet been broken, for the world has not yet been able to learn from history.”

Shanelle is in advanced placement classes at the high school.

100 Hours Centennial Celebration at The Newark Museum

Sunday, Apr 26, 2009 9:35am  |  COMMENTS (1)

dinosaurday.jpgSince Wednesday, April 22, The Newark Museum has been celebrating their Centennial with a 100 Hour Marathon. Today is the is the last day to celebrate, but there are lots of fun events to enjoy.
We went yesterday for Dinosaur Day. That’s my 22-month-old having fun digging for magnetite. Today, there will be a jazz brunch, dance performances, music, storytelling and more. With the temperature hitting 90 degrees, a cool museum is the place to be.
What are your plans today? Will you enjoy this summer-like weather or stay indoors and keep cool?

Day Trip: Fire Island

Saturday, Apr 25, 2009 7:07am  |  COMMENTS (0)

We’re in a post Spring Break haze. It seems like the girls have been out of school more than they’ve been in it during the month of April. If you didn’t get away on a Spring Break vacation, but you really wanted to, check out our favorite day trips: Fire Island.
Even when it’s not warm enough to swim, there’s plenty of fun on the sandy playgrounds in Ocean Beach, Seaview and Fair Harbor. Several overpriced restaurants by the sea are open. It only takes about 2 hours to get there if you don’t go during rush hours.
Fire Island is magical. I’ve been going for 13 years. I don’t remember a few of those years thanks to cheap rotgut and group shares. But I’ve traded the booze for kiddie beaches. And we’d really like to stay more than just a day. We are still trying to find a house to rent for a week or a month that won’t set us back $40K or $20K or even $10K. (If you know of a nice rental, email me.)
The reason we love Fire Island is this: No cars are allowed. It’s so quiet, and the kids get a lot more freedom from our usual over-protectiveness. To get there, you have to take the ferry from Bay Shore, NY.
We went last weekend. You can hang out on the beach–or at least on the sandy playground at Ocean Beach. Bring your lunch (the food there is sort of okay). And stay on the bay side. They’re currently **dredging the ocean side of Fire Island**, which is really cool (see photo on the next page), but you can’t fly a kite next to bulldozers. Even the machinery was absolutely fascinating to see.

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Free Jazz Concert for Kids at The Montclair Art Museum

BY  |  Friday, Apr 24, 2009 12:10pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

S.kroonBLK.jpgMy family loves music and we love going to concerts. These days they are mostly kid concerts, but we have been to some pretty rockin’ shows. Dan Zanes and They Might Be Giants might be our favorites, but we’re also jazz fans. Tomorrow we get to enjoy some jazz at a free concert at the Montclair Art Museum.

WBGO, that’s 88.3 FM on your radio dial, is Newark’s public radio jazz station. Every Spring they sponsor a Kids Jazz Series around the area. We attended the concert last year at MAM and my girls loved it. This year the Steven Kroon Sextet is performing. They perform jazz inspired by Latin, Brazilian, African and Caribbean music.


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Turn Off TV Day a Big Flop

BY  |  Friday, Apr 24, 2009 8:00am  |  COMMENTS (3)

no tv remote.jpgYesterday, as part of Turn Off the TV Week, I turned our set off. It was a stinker, a flop, just like an episode of last season’s ER.

No one suffered but my husband–and me a little bit, too. The kids ate cookies and ran around like wild monkeys instead of watching. They loved it. Their parents didn’t.

Here is a play-by-play of the day without our beloved boob tube…

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TV Turnoff Week Challenge: Why I Refuse to Accept

BY  |  Friday, Apr 24, 2009 7:20am  |  COMMENTS (4)

 TV Turnoff WeekEarlier in the week, Debbie over at Baristanet wrote about TV Turnoff Week and the Baristas challenged Kristen and me to “fire our digital nannies for at least a day.” They slapped us in the face with a glove. Kristen took the challenge on Thursday, but I did not accept.

I was willing to be dishonored.

You can call me a coward and a bad mommy. That’s fine. It’s better than what my day would be like if I turned the TV off.

You see, my digital nanny is my only nanny. During the week, I, alone, take care of my 5-year-old and 22-month-old all day. My husband doesn’t get home until they are in bed. I have a babysitter 2 hours a week so I can make appointments, meetings and occasionally, if I’m lucky, have lunch with a friend.

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Puppets at Cafe Eclectic

Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 5:00pm  |  COMMENTS (2)

puppets.jpgHave you seen the puppets at Cafe Eclectic?

They’re hiding in that nook in the corner.

Each one was made by local puppeteer James Wojtal, Jr. He also works at Cafe Eclectic part-time.

“They’re all real puppets,” Wojtal says, “And they’ve all been used in one project or another.”

Wojtal has worked on puppets for Jim Henson, Avenue Q, Saturday Night Live and many others. He’s lended his services for Verona and Montclair High Schools’ drama departments. He’s from Verona and says Cafe Eclectic is his favorite place to hang out–it has been since it opened in 1998.

Haven’t yet seen the puppets with your kids? Get to Cafe Eclectic. Wojtal says they’ll be up for a little while longer.  “Or until I take them down. Actually, I’m in no hurry to take them back to my bedroom. It’s nice to get them out for a little while.”

For some of Wojtal’s snarkier puppet work, click here to a project he did for College Humor called Pot Cookie Monster. Or click to the next page to see a sweet, kid-friendly video he made for his YouTube Channel.

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Take Our Daughters & Sons to Work Day

Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 1:09pm  |  COMMENTS (3)

work day.jpgToday is Take Our Daughters & Sons to Work Day. Did any local parents try it? I can’t wait until I can send Annabelle to work with Daddy. Then he can see how cranky she gets when she doesn’t eat lunch on time. But we have awhile. This day is recommended for kids ages 8 to 18.
Maybe in honor of this famous day, I’ll put them to work. They really need to pick up their toys in the living room.
Did you take your kids to work today? Do you remember your parents bringing you?

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