Month: December 2011

How Many More Days of Vacation Week or Is It Over Yet?

It is that time of year again – school vacation week! If you have planned ahead, your children are in daily activities, if you have not, you are no doubt washing crayon, and quite possibly food, off the walls and hoping for enough time for a shower. I have experienced many, many school vacation weeks – some better than others.

My advice? Get moving and keep moving. Do you need to pretend you are a shark and only your constant movement keeps you alive? No. Does this mean no slow-moving sleeping-in mornings? Depending on the age of your children, maybe. You can do it, you just need the right attitude. I don’t mean you can’t have lovely mornings at home.

When my children were younger we had a breakfast where we practiced math facts with dominoes and had our breakfast in pretty dishes. Sometimes we even played school with real worksheets and stickers for work well done. They are older now and that won’t fly (we didn’t have smartphones, tablets or apps back in the day, either) but if your little ones are quite young, it will get you some quality hot beverage time before you roll.

If you are still reading, you may need help. No worries – here are some ideas and links for local activities. KidoInfo out of Rhode Island but covers Southeastern Massachusetts, too. Founder Anisa Raouf has done a fantastic job of lining up the best resources and she shares so nicely, too! From the website: Kidoinfo is Rhode Island’s guide to family fun, creative ideas, resources and local events. With fresh ideas everyday, we keep you in the know with DIY projects, kid-tested recipes, after-school activities, camps, story times and so much more. From new parents to grandparents, babies to tweens, we have something for everyone.

Boston Area – Boston.com Moms A great site with Guides, Things To Do listings, Discussion Pages for Parents and much more. From the site – a listing of family activities for the next seven days. You’re welcome!  Go to Boston.com Momsfor great local activities and events.

Here is a link to the Museum of Fine Arts  with its great vacation week programs. Don’t forget the Museum of Science  – The Pompeii Exhibit is great and good for most ages (it may be hard to explain that we don’t live near an active volcano to young ones but the world map of active volcanoes is a good visual reassurance). If you are going to the Pompeii exhibit it is worth getting a membership, really, it is always worth getting a membership here. I signed up online and picked up my membership card and packet when we got to the museum. Super easy.
Need more? Click on these links for vacation week ideas: The Boston Children’s Museum,The Harvard Museum of Natural History, The Peabody-Essex Museum and The Discovery Museums.We also like to take walks at the Weston reservoir or Lake Waban at Wellesley College – both places are dog-friendly and nice easy trails.
Arts and Crafts? Check out Artbeat in Arlington, Sew Easy in Needham and Wellesley or Hip Stitch in Newton.
It is also a great time to make some healthy resolutions and cook together as a family. I attended a blogger event at the Chestnut Hill Shaw’s Supermarket and they were rolling out a Nutrional IQ progam that helps you make healthy choices. Not that I am giving up the holiday cookies quite yet – just not making a meal of them!
Crafts at home – Here is a great link to Pragmatic Mom’s site for homemade play dough. Definitely a longtime favorite at our house, too.

Wise Bear William is Wise Indeed

 

One of the best things that has come out of having a blog is the wonderful connections that I have made to people that are in far-flung places, people I may never have met otherwise. Here is a true and lovely story of how I met the author of Wise Bear William, Arthur Wooten.

I was working on a post for book blog tour for WOW (Women on Writing) about Melissa Goodwin– she wrote the lovely book The Christmas Village – and Melissa was so nice! She wrote thank you notes (you know your mother always told you to and she was right) and we started an email conversation that led to us realizing that we were both bookish girls from the same small town although did not know each other – different ages. Small world, yes? Through Melissa I met Arthur Wooten (also from same hometown – they knew each other when) and he offered to send me a copy of the book to review. As we started corresponding, I realized that I went to elementary school with his brother such a long time ago!

Anyway, Arthur very kindly (he is also very polite) sent me a copy of his new book, Wise Bear William. It turns out that he wrote this when he was in his twenties and put it aside arthur wooten wise bear william on capability mom blogwhile he did other things  – like writing books: Fruit Cocktail, On Picking Fruit and Birthday Pie. Over the years he thought of different ways to present this story and I am so glad it is as a picture book. The lovely message is lightly told but deeply felt. Without preaching the story shows that the important things in life are acceptance, friendship, loyalty and love.

The story begins with an exclamation from bouncy Rag Doll Rose (these are talking toys) and the energy continues as you are drawn into the lives of these toys in a charming attic (if we had an attic I would like to be like this one). From Bean Bag Bunny to Wise Bear William, the characters are beautifully drawn and captivating. The illustrations are rich in detail, warm and complement the story perfectly. Wise Bear William is encouraging, kind and brings out the best in the other toys (who are a bit worse for the wear) as they prepare for a visit from the children who are visiting in the house below. As a tradition, every year the children come up to the attic to choose a toy from those in the attic to have as their own until they are too old to play with it, then the toys come back to the attic. When you read a children’s book you think you know what will happen (and usually I do) but the surprising ending is a delight. Go read this book now (you can find it on Amazon by clicking the book below). A lovely story for a lovely time of year. Enjoy the holidays!

Wise Bear William is destined to become a classic.

Gifts for Teens and Tweens – so very challenging

I am writing this post after spending several hours (yes, hours) at the Natick Mall (the words Natick Collection never crossed my lips, glad they changed the name back) in Tween/Teenland. Why? I did it for you, dear reader, so that you may go forth unscathed by pounding music in overly scented and dimly lit stores (really, Hollister?). You are welcome and, thank you, my headache is better now, a full day later. Once your children are past the princess and Lego stage (you only wish it were over if you are still in it), you are required to really work at finding presents that meet your value system (supposing you haven’t bailed on your value system after those years of princesses and Legos), are age appropriate and are what your teen/tween wants. So what to do? Well, I am sure you have an idea about your own teen or tween but what about that tough-to-buy-for niece or nephew? Here are just a few ideas to help you out…

You can go full court press on electronics, Apple, Wii, Xbox and then get all of the games…

panasonic headphones at urban outfitters find by capability mom blog
Urban Outfitters

Uggs are still a wanted item

So what are the hot teen stores? Start at Forever 21 for inexpensive, well, everything. There are $10 jeans in the sale room, $6-10 t-shirts scattered throughout the store, and tons of  scarves, hats, mittens, socks – all so inexpensive and cute. The store in Natick is massive and has separate accessories area. You can get lost in there, well, I did. Got out in time to check out 344 (the outlet and regular store). Cute tanks in bright colors, Converse sneakers, great  feather earrings. On to Urban Outfitters for more great ideas – for girls – great skimmers, terrific basic tees (that I can even still wear, ahem, yes) and fun stocking stuffers, plaid shirts and hats for the guys.

capability mom blog finds cute graphic tees at deliasWhere to next? Delias for cute graphic tees and American Eagle Outfitters  for shirts and jeans – looks like everything is 40% off now, too. More stops, well, we did have lunch at that cute sushi place called Wasabi (it is a chain and has the bonus of serving the food on a conveyor belt for your entertainment – don’t worry – the food is tagged with sensors to tell the kitchen how long it has been out. A nice break and it was good to sit down for a bit. There is more! A quick look in Williams Sonoma and Sur la Table for me…I am looking for a 9 quart cast iron french (dutch? same thing?)  oven that doesn’t cost as much as my first car.

Yes, I went into the dimly-lit, over-perfumed and poundingly loud Hollister (sort of a college bar but without the alcohol). I know I am old but I could not hear even when I got out of the store. Honestly, you have to yell to be heard over the music. Well, that was my tipping point so I headed home to order books (quietly) on-line from Amazon (I had already been by the New England Mobile Book Fair and picked up a bunch there).

Steven Saylor

Rebecca Stead

If you want to do good and give a gift, pick a charity and donate in your teen’s name – there is no shortage of organizations – here are a few:

Heifer International

World Wildlife Fund

The Water Project

Not enough ideas? Head on over to Cool Mom Picks – They have a wonderful gift giving guide.

You are looking for good gift ideas…here is the best one yet – Christmas in the City

Christmas In The CityChristmas in the City is going on now – Sunday, December 18. You can still make a donation here.

Today I started to read the Globe as I do each morning, and was brought up short. Brian McGrory’s column on Christmas In The City made me fly into action mode (those who know me knows that means to stand back). Here I am, writing about great gifts to buy for your father or father-in-law (admittedly, no small feat) and there is something much more pressing at hand. Go read about it here, I will wait.

You’re back? Good. All money raised goes to the event which is a winter wonderland for homeless children and their families and it is run entirely by volunteers. This is an amazing undertaking that should have huge corporate sponsors. Target? Martha Stewart? Macy’s?

So,Dad/Papa,  you are buying a toy for a homeless child for Christmas. You are welcome. I know you don’t really need a putter or another scarf or something gadget-y. You are all set. So I am taking what I would have spent on your gift  (Mom’s too) and spending it here at Christmas In The City. I’ll make you a certificate.

You want to help, too?

There are several ways to donate toys, online or at one of our drop-off locations.

To purchase toys online, click here to view Christmas in the City’s Wishlist at Amazon.com
Purchases on our Amazon wishlist will automatically be shipped to our headquarters.

Click here to view Christmas in the City’s official Suggested Toy List for 2011

If you would like to personally drop off your gift, please visit one of our drop-off locations:

Headquarters
Kennedy Brothers Physical Therapy
45 Franklin Street
Boston
617-542-6611

Seaport Hotel – free valet service
Seaport District

Kennedy Brothers Physical Therapy Braintree
25 Braintree Hill Office Park
Braintree
781-848-7300

Kennedy Brothers Physical Therapy Needham
150 A Street
Needham
781-444-1644

Kennedy Brothers Physical Therapy Watertown
311 Arsenal  Street
Watertown
617-924-5100

Kennedy Brothers Physical Therapy Cohasset/Scituate
828 Chief Justice Cushing Highway
Cohasset
781-383-8001

Stevie’s Eatery – Marlborough
222 L. East Main Street
Post Road Plaza
508-460-3352

 

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