How to Have the Best Kid Celebration Ever

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:03 am

I run a lot of events and was a bit bored with the candle lighting/testimonials of the typical kid coming-of-age party. In this case it was a Bar Mitzvah but I’ve done these for a Sweet Sixteen and seen them at Confirmations and Bat Mitzvahs too. Plus, my son hates to dance.

I decided to experiment. First, instead of the typical event hall, I held it at a local restaurant – The Harvest Restaurant in Closter, NJ. I’ll go into much more detail later, but their food and service were the best I’d ever seen. Not only were they incredibly nice and helpful – many guests reported that their meal arrived hot and perfectly cooked. These were not polite compliments – these people help me run charity auctions (or I help them) and we are well aware that the far tables get food a bit overdone.

 Remember that I said that my son hates to dance? (Too many Barclay Dance lessons in his youth?) A DJ was out. A frKilling Kompany actorsiend recommended a murder mystery by The Killing Kompany . They’re based in NY but they cover the whole tri-state area. Five actors mingled with the guests and put on the funniest show between courses. They involved people from every table, turning the lamest responses into witty repartee. Nothing was the least embarrassing (well, except for one young man who had an encounter with the vamp – I hope he’s not traumatized for life – I think I’ll give his mother the video clip of it for his wedding.)

Great food and novel entertainment aimed at the entire family (not just the kids) made this the best party ever. I’ll write more on the details later but this was definitely a winning formula.


6th Grade Items

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:11 pm

Items of interest to the 6th grade are under pages to the right.

 I’ve just added the Greek Scrapbook handout and the protocol for sending in food.

Finally, the teachers noted that a resturant is serving a fixed-price medieval dinner this month ($48 + tax,tip & beverages)

The New Leaf in Ft Tyrone Park in Washington Heights,near the Cloisters. 212 568-5323

Each week has a different theme (Geman/Italian;English) so be sure to call for details.


Venice 1949

Posted in Family Legends, Uncategorized at 4:20 pm

In 1949 my father and two friends traveled by motorcycle from England, through Paris, Briancon and ultimately to Venice. Since my son is in Venice now I decided to post the pictures from the 1949 trip (most bought at the tourist stands).

Grand Canal – The Regatta

Grand Canal - The Regatta

St Marks Church

St Marks Church

The Grand Canal (Nottumo)

The Grand Canal (Nottumo)

Rialto Bridge

Rialto Bridge

Grand Canal Scalzi Bridge

Grand Canal Scalzi Bridge

St Marks Bassin & General View

Venice 1949 St Marks Bassin & General View

St Marks Bassin

Venice 1949 St Marks Bassin (Nottemo)


What to Bring to The Auction – Administration Committee

Posted in Running A Non-profit Auction, Uncategorized at 11:19 am

(Out of order, but I just ran an auction so it’s fresh in my mind.)

Auction Item Set-up

(the period before the auction when you fill the room with auction items)


 the pile of bid sheets (NOT on clipboards),

at least 3 labels for each item with the item number and title typed on – these will be placed on items that have mysteriously lost their number and on all associated packing materials that are hidden under the tables during the auction.

pens or pencils for bidding,

 the computer, printer. cables, paper, extra ink,


A  box with items for the evening:

staplers (roughly one for every 40 items)

marker pens (3-10, depending on the size of the event and how bad you are at holding on to things)

Cashier sign, money box

Help desk sign

Payment labels for those who have left their credit card on file (Thanks them for pre-registering credit cards and directs them to go directly to item pickup)

Payment labels with cash, check and accepted credit card company boxes and space for number, expiration date and signature.

If you have more than 75 items and they are not arranged in numeric order around the room plan on rearranging them while the results of the bidding are being processed. Bring signs for where you will move items to. (For instance Items 1-30, Items 31-60, etc.)

Shopping bags for those items that can be reasonably be packed.

Table seating/Registration Support

Walk-in registration sheets – for some reason there are always a few people that come to a formal event without a reservation – frequently someone’s Aunt Mary who dropped by unexpectedly. Even if they are just appearing for 1/2 an hour during the cocktail hour to show support, it is imperative that you capture their name and address and assign them a bidding number so that they can buy somthing if the spirit moves them and you can get their item to them if they leave early.


Life Lessons of a Military Wife Carnival 8 Up

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:36 am

There’s a newish carnival that’s up for Military Wives.  The collection’s a bit scattered so there’s something for everyone. (VMW – Veteran Military Wife was kind enough to post my submission on Educating Kids/Military Budgets.) Enjoy!


What do they mean No Child Left Behind is bad?

Posted in Just A Thought, Uncategorized at 12:15 pm

Last year we followed our long term plan for our kids’ education – our eldest graduated from her private school and we moved her to the very-highly-rated local high school. We knew of mutterings that No Child Left Behind was evil – stifling the creative brilliance of our teachers and making them teach a uniform curriculum. 

Not a problem we thought – eldest’s strengths are diligent work on whatever she’s asked to do (not an iota more), careful attention to presenting herself in the most attractive manner possible (much more important to later job success than technical brilliance, much to my chagrin) and the ability to organize affairs for community service or social events. Since she is not struck by the mad curiosity of middle child, a standard curriculum would not be problematic.

Little did we know. School rankings (an issue of paramount concern for keeping parents happy and property values high) are based on how well a group does when tested. Duh. 

The test taken depends on which group you are enrolled in. If you are enrolled in a AP (advanced placement) course it does not matter that your 4 out of 5 is 80% on an exam that is much harder than the normal exam; the school gets a higher ranking if you get 100% on the easier course. A bored student, or one not taught to their full capacity does not penalized the school in the rankings. 

It is completely to a school’s advantage to push children into the easiest course when they are borderline between two levels (start algebra late, honors vs. standard courses, and the gold standard – AP courses.) If your school is not allowing open enrollment into AP courses the welfare of the student may not be their first concern and may be a sign all the way down the line that they are making choices that are for their benefit rather than the child’s.

Eldest child? We moved her to a school that thinks most children are capable of honors work and she chugs along with a solid B.  It’s the same B she would have garnered in the standard courses of the top ranked public school but she works a little harder.

We’re failing the global education race.  Is it unreasonable to ask that not only should all children be educated to a minimal level but that all children be pushed to their maximum level?


Carnival of Family Life – June 25 2007

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:25 pm

Thank you for the sixty wonderful submissions.  I’d had a little trouble thinking of interesting things to say lately and you’ve given me weeks of things to respond to. If your links not quite right let me know and I’ll fix it – I had a 30 second crash and lost posts in the middle. I blame all mistakes on it. (What are host services for anyway?)

 Adoptees, pets, fathers were all popular this week.  Pour the coffee and enjoy!


Did Kailani hit a popular topic this week! – Girlie Girl has her first crush. Reminiscing with the crowd is the best part – I still remember Jeff Crawford carrying my books home from Grace Park in third grade.

I don’t think Peter’s mother (Peter was the brother of a friend of mine) fully considered all the implications when she married Mr. Abbott and he adopted her children.* Chaos Theory brings you another instance of naming fun when she brought home presents.

*Would you have said your child’s new name 3 times quickly?

Girls growing up– where does the time go? Mud Puppy is from The Common Room.

A fun haircut story from Health and Fitness – Fact or Fiction . Much better than the stories in my family that start with the need for hair for a doll and end with younger siblings going to Jackie the Expensive (& Good) to repair the disaster.

Wired For Noise brings a chuckle in trying to figure out just what that mysterious request was really for.

After looking at my husband’s mowing job (Israelis understand desert – not lawns) and reading Diary of 1’s submission on goat milk, I wonder if my New Jersey town is zoned for goats. (Not likely since they outlaw clothes lines, but somebody might have overlooked an ordinance.)

Stone washed jeans have nothing on diapers as rags (think dry the crystal with the softest, possible cloth that has absolutely no lint) so I was very taken with this from Activist Mommy. Actually my first reaction was “Are diaper services dead?”

From Jenny, last week’s hostess, at The So Called Me – musings on the pet to get. (Although after the news report on one town’s approach to living green – maybe she should consider earthworms. – The town was encouraging workers to bring worms to work to process the food wastes from lunch – just hold the ranch dressing and bologna.)

Speaking of pets – Perfurr remembers getting her kitten from the RSPCA.

Life set to music from Live the Power.

A Saturday off in Skipping Work to be a Mom posted at Sandier Pastures.

Fathers Day

I am very honored to post this Father’s Day reflection – a reprint (and update) of Jack Yoest’s 1999 article on wars’ costs and purpose and obligations of fathers and sons. I would rank it on par with the NY Post’s letter to Virginia on the existence of Santa Claus. USS Bonefish Lost: A Remembrance 18 June posted at Reasoned Audacity. (And I’m not exactly on the same page politically.)

A quick reminder from INNside Innkeeping in Montana of all the times Dad is right plus a scrumptious-looking recipe for blueberry pancakes. It’s somewhere in the middle of their yogurt/fruit all-is-healthy mode and their sausages & cheese/calories-really-do-taste-good mode. As an added bonus you get to find out the best time to put in the fruit in the pancake batter. (I had always subscribed to the “whenever my son pours it in school” – but there’s good reason for the right order.)

I found the Father’s Day reflections involving Dads in the military fascinating. Sheppard at Salter Blog gives us his memories at his Father’s Day post. (My father and uncles served in the Royal Air Force so there were no discussions of WWII military service in my family.)

In Mad Kane’s world this may be a Father’s Day submission although June weddings might have brought Married to Money on. If you’re good with Limericks check out her contest too.

A tribute to a very special Dad from Cause of Our Joy.

A short & sweet account of the first Father’s Day the daughter of Super Saver at Wealth Builder’s participated in.


The Scratching Post‘s submission was hard to categorize but it was great fun and soooo needed if you have kids.

Another funny post – I relate to the desire to have such an effective tool when the kids lose their minds, although I sincerely hope Suzanne at Adventures in Daily Living removes the post before her son or his friends read it. (He sounds pretty young now.)

How can anything that gets kids gardening be bad? Lori at Fun Playdates plays with a new gadget.

Christine at Are We There Yet? starts an experiment in sign language with her young toddler.

Jedi Mind Tricks from Down With the Kids describes the machinations needed to get 4-year-olds to cooperate. It’s much easier with teenagers. Just say the opposite of whatever you truly want.

I’m not sure how Journey 2 Retirement could have skipped driving in her list of future worries, but she undertakes to scientifically analyze who is harder to raise – boys or girls.

Who knew my mother was so lucky that one of her 4 children was a girl? I don’t remember games like this from Do You Weary in Well Doing? (although I do remember becoming very lady-like as soon as my younger brothers became taller than me.)

Growing up is about labels. Well, not totally unless you’re a middle schooler. Would you have guessed adoptee could bring such satisfaction? From Forever Parents.

The continuing connection to the joy of the first day picking up the new family member at The Incredible Shrinking Ladies.

My Two Boys describes a day that is exhausting just to read about – but maybe her child is just truly fashion conscious and knows they’re out in new color combinations?

To Do

TOTALLY beyond my skill level (I’m great at stapling hems) but a really nice idea for infants in shopping carts from How To ME.

For the perfect high school graduation gift see Summer With Grandmother Wren.


Some advice from Mom Is Teaching that goes far beyond home schooling.

Just in time for summer vacations great advice for flying with kids from Building Blocks Blog.

A great outing from Stop The Ride but call ahead to make sure the season in your area hasn’t ended (it varies a bit every year).

An interesting idea for getting kids to help from Love Shak, Baby based on a CNN.com article.

Passing on an alert on how not to get scammed from Write From Karen.

I’m a soccer mom so I had my doubts about planning a Fall Trip now, but Family Travel‘s Thanksgiving in Paris sounds very tempting (one of several ideas).

Five practical tips for talking with teens from Amy, a licensed clinical social worker in NJ. I do feel the need for a disclaimer here – Amy’s advice to not convey disapproval through body language can be applied very easily in automobiles. Since teenagers really do love to talk if they don’t feel disapproval they might go way beyond your comfort level if they can’t see your winces – just keep in mind that you’re driving and an accident is not a good way to end a conversation.

Some priceless advice for handling unwanted advice from Baby Talkers.

Tips for Frugal Shopping from Finance Is Personal should help save money although I take issue with No. 5’s impact on the food store bottom line. A long-term health savings yes – cheaper – not lately in my experience.

The power of being honest with yourself from A Better You.

I subscribe to the old wives tale that picky eaters come from not being allowed to touch your food when first learning to eat, but if you’re past that stage, Total Mind and Body Fitness‘s guide to helping your picky eater consume better meals should help.

The strategies we resort to amuse our kids make me long for my childhood when my mother waved goodbye after breakfast, occasionally fed a gang of 10 that appeared for lunch and then said hello as we appeared to lay the table for dinner – after a hard day of mucking in the stream, riding bikes or playing elaborate war games. I’m a WAHM gives techniques for today’s world when 10 neighborhood children aren’t available. (Although I do wonder if she’ll look back in horror when her kids are older that she suggested video games to keep kids amused.)

Teaching toddlers shapes is a snap with these suggestions from Little Mummy.

I put off looking at 7 Easy Ideas for Great Family Videos posted at High-Tech Parent because I thought it was self-explanatory (it is) and we’re a bit camera-crazy so what would I learn? Wrong. For instance, it never occurred to me to tape the annual lesson from my mother-in-law on how to make jelly donuts. (She says it took 10 years for her to learn and we’re right on track for 15 – maybe this will help.)


I know I’m a geek but this gem from Musings From a Catholic Bookstore just cried out for substituting my teenage daughters sleep patterns (16 hours if I don’t wake her up) to see if I could make the chaos in my house go negative.

News from Hawkhill Acres has my favorite quote of the week in it (the section about ADHD/ Half-mad/Solutions) in the midst of reflections on a typical car-cleaning day.

Kevin at More4Kids uses a very interesting analogy to help analyze and improve home life.

A Mama’s Rant makes the excellent point that the internet is a great tool for protecting your kids with a very personal example. (Don’t forget to check the internet for the names of your children’s friends – their naitivety in setting privacy settings may rope your child into unpleasant situations.)

Eric at Husbandhood gives Bathroom Etiquette Tips to Impress as tips for a husband or boyfriend but I really think they’re best for kids – 4 year olds can be taught to be responsible for checking the toilet paper supply as long as you keep your main cache in an accessible place – think of the leg up they’ll have in the marital race.

Matt at The Pet Haven doesn’t realize he’s really training for his role when children come into his life in Canine Neighbors.

As a youngster I thought my neighbor was rather strange for wearing a yellow poncho and hat to feed her toddler. As Mommn’ It Up so ably illustrates, she just knew what was coming.

From Everybody Needs Therapy the need for balance unless you’re attached.

Carol presents A Baby Named Maude posted at Can’t Holder Tongue.

Linda at Life Without School mulls the wisdom of sticking to principles, childhood friends and raising kids.

A brief rant on the perils of perception for stay-at-home moms from Home With the Kids. Spend some time checking out her Work at Home scams – it’s amazing how many ways people are conned out of money.

Looking to answer your questions, Jordan posts  Let’s Change the World! at MamaBlogga.

The unfairness of viruses and how to cope from Mac and Cheese Chronicles.

A hope for the future from Principled Discovery.

Dawn at Randomness speculates on the origin of kid-friendly food.

The discovery that he had gay relatives caused Michael at The Common Virtue to reevaluate his position on gay marriage.

VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) Adventure is collecting reasons people have been counseled to get a repeat Cesarean.

Don’t forget to submit your post for nest week’s carnival hosted by Little Mummy.


Happy Anniversary Carnival of Family Life

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:23 am

I somehow forgot to hit the send on my submission this week (I meant to submit the silly story of how an auction took over not only my life but almost lost all my cousin’s possessions).  Even so, it’s such a nice carnival I wanted to wish The Canival of Family Life happy birthday.


Carnival of Family Life

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:06 pm

Sorry I checked out for so long – School auctions can be totally consuming – we raised over $140,000 but we left the bodies of volunteers strewn over beds all over town. (Actually it wasn’t that bad – we’ve all worked together before and were able to do a great job with a lot less time than previous years but we did cram a lot in to the last few days.)  Anyway, while I was gone DigitalRichDaily posted last week’s Carnival of Family Life. Check it out.


Mother’s Day Gifts

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:46 pm

Visit Zazzle.comI love coffee. I also like to get Mother’s Day gifts. My idea of the perfect gift is a coffee cup my kids have made. (I have simple needs – my first couple of Mother’s Days I just wanted a wheelbarrow for my garden. My sweet but silly husband kept buying me jewelry.)

Anyway the gods of commerce have been slow to recognize my need for a place I can point my kids at to get my point across. (not to mention all the cub scouts, soccer players, school actors and other assorted kids with besotted parents that I have been taking pictures of.) Finally a decent place has accepted my application – Zazzle.

They will let you put a picture on mugs, t-shirts, caps & other cool things (please note I make the least amount of money on the coffee cup but it is definitely the best thing). Even better they let you design your own artwork. Even better than that they let you design your own artwork without buying anything.

Anyway, check it out.