You crawl into bed on a Friday night at the end of a crazy work week, knowing it's your daughter's seventh birthday tomorrow, and you've got everything planned. Great job!
You booked the local roller rink for three hours of nonstop action and laughs for tomorrow morning. You have all your RSVPs, so you know exactly who is coming to the party. You bought little toys and candy to put in your very own homemade goodie bags. The skating rink is serving a lunch of pizza, hot dogs and soda for the kids. They will be ready to eat after burning off all those calories.
Lights out, you are about to fall asleep until one four-letter word jolts you awake.
How on earth, you ask yourself, did you forget to order the cake from the bakery?
No cake? No problem. Your daughter doesn’t need a bakery-decorated cake. Have you been to a wedding recently and seen the desserts that have replaced the typical three-tiered cake? The same thing has happened with birthday parties, where a Hello Kitty- or New York Yankees-themed cake is no longer mandatory.
Here are nine alternative sure to cap off a fabulous party.
1. Cupcakes. Your best friend. Easy preparation and easy cleanup, even if a child drops it on the ground.
2. Cookie cake. Make one yourself or buy one at your local supermarket on the way. It's one giant chocolate chip cookie. Who can't get behind that?
3. Munchkins. Really strapped for time? Grab a few boxes of different flavors of the bite-sized Dunkin' Donuts staple on your way to the party. We have a few hundred Dunkin’ Donuts in the Capital Region, after all.
4. Frosted sugar cookies. You know the ones we’re talking about. The ones at the front of every Walmart in America. What are they called? Who knows. But we've never met a child who doesn't love them.
5. Brownies. Like cupcakes, brownies are another ol' reliable. Remember to always leave some batter so you can lick the spoon. Take some vanilla ice cream to the rink because nothing is better than brownies and ice cream.
6. Ice cream cake. Supermarkets always have a Carvel cake ready to go. It's ice cream in cake form -- the best of both worlds! Just be sure to ask the party hosts to find a freezer for it ASAP.
7. Ice cream sundae bar. Take a gallon of vanilla ice cream, a jar of hot fudge, sprinkles, maraschino cherries and some whipped cream and let the kids make their own. Forget the nut topping because of nut allergies your guests might have. Or, for a healthier treat, grab fresh fruit for the toppings.
8. Decorated donuts. Cupcakes and brownies aren't the only things kids like nowadays. Buy a couple of dozen donuts along with some frosting and sprinkles and let the children customize their own dessert. Beware a giant mess.
9. A fresh-fruit platter. What kids don’t like strawberries, blueberries and pineapple? The kids’ parents will appreciate this one.
This little girl's hand-washing routine would be aided by some fun soap -- and a step stool.
At TSL Adventures, we’re crazy about cleanliness, grumpy about germs.
We’re sure you are in your home, too. But how do you get your preschoolers, as well as your older children, to learn good hand-washing techniques? By making it fun through use of entertaining soaps -- yes there is such a thing -- and a song.
The Centers for Disease Control says that clean hands are vital for kids to avoid getting sick and then spreading their germs to other kids. Using soap and water to scrub hands is the first step in stopping the spread of disease. The CDC says children should be taught to wash their hands this way. Even young children should learn early to develop a lifetime of good habits.
Here’s the statistics on how good hand washing can reduce the chance of disease, from the CDC. And here are the organization's tips on how to get your kids to excel in hand washing.
Well this baby looks like she's on a mission to quickly scoot from one place to another, doesn't she?
Once your baby discovers those strong arms and little legs can move her across the room, it's time to babyproof your home. All of us with little ones have invested in everything from baby gates to cabinet and drawer locks to plugs for electrical outlets, turning our homes into fortresses to keep baby safe along the way.
So what happens when Grandma watches the baby at her home? It's time to invest in the basics to leave at Grandma's house, such as outlet plugs and a gate to close off stairs. After all, Grandma might not have had a baby in the house for more than 25 years, and her place needs some safety features.
It's also worth walking around the house with Grandma to see what could be attractive to your baby and ask Grandma, nicely, to make a few changes. Here's where to start:
Where in the Albany-Schenectady-Troy area can your child have the joy of meeting a big red dog, a cat in a hat, a curious monkey, a persnickety train and a bespectacled man named Mr. Pine who confused a whole town when he lost his glasses?
At the library, of course.
September was National Library Card Sign-Up Month, and if you and your children didn’t make it to your local library to get their first library card, put it at the top of the to-do list for October. According to the American Library Association, the observance was launched in 1987 to meet the challenge of then-Secretary of Education William J. Bennett who said: "Let's have a national campaign ... every child should obtain a library card -- and use it."
It’s never too early to introduce your child to books. Thanks to preschool story times at a number of our local libraries, even children growing up in the digital age can learn to love the wonders of books before they learn to read.
But don't just take our word for it. According to the U.S. Department of Education, here is the countdown to the Top 4 reasons children should have a library card:
4. Opening New Worlds: Most Americans see the library as an educational support center for students of all ages. For parents in particular, helping their children enjoy reading is one of the most important things they can do. Reading is fundamental to student development and learning; reading sparks curiosity and imagination. And this is where the library card comes in; it opens wide the world of books.
3. Expert Help: Not only does the public library have books for parents and children to take home and share or read on their own, it has librarians to help locate specific books for every age group and on any and every topic imaginable. And being able to use all of these wonderful books is free to the cardholder!
2. Getting Connected: About 30 percent of all students do not have home access to the Internet, according to the Department’s National Center for Education Statistics, so for these students having a library card is extra important. The Library is a hot spot for free Internet access and word processing computers, and even computer classes and Internet instruction are available. In addition, libraries often offer free programs on everything from astronomy to zoo keeping and writing resumes to learning a language, as well as summer reading programs that keep those reading skills strong during summer vacation.
1. Student Success: For all students, the card provides the information resources they need to succeed in school and in life. Resources not only include free access to eBooks and eAudioBooks, online databases for articles and reports, encyclopedias and test preparation materials, but also free access to library staff who can help find additional materials to complete homework assignments, recommend an interesting read for an upcoming book report or teach how to select and use a database to research a science project. Since most public libraries have Web sites, many services are available from the Internet 24×7.
Is this baby properly installed in this child-safety seat? A professional could tell us. At right is a photo Jenna Casado Rabberman posted on Facebook after her car accident. Her Honda CRV was totaled. Her sons' car seats, however, survived the accident beautifully and protected her little ones.
Maybe you were among the 168,000 or so people who hit the Like button on Facebook after seeing a Pennsylvania mom's post in the last week. Or the more than 304,000 people who shared it.
We certainly saw it, and the message that Jenna Casado Rabberman of Lancaster, Pa., conveyed was personal and powerful – and one all parents should note.
Her young sons – one almost 3, the other an infant – survived a potentially devastating car accident that her 2015 Honda CRV didn't because they were properly strapped into their car seats.
“We were minutes from home,” she wrote in her Sept. 26 Facebook post. “Another car slammed into us. You never think it will happen to you. My boys escaped without a scratch but the paramedics told me it could have been very different had I not taken the extra 2 minutes to be sure they were buckled correctly.”
In fact, according to Safe Kids Worldwide, a nonprofit organization that works to help families and communities keep kids safe from injuries, reports that correctly used child-safety seats can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71 percent. However, three out of four car seats are not used or installed correctly, according to the organization.
If you haven't already done so, make an appointment today with one of the number of agencies in Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga and Schenectady counties that will inspect your child-safety seat at no charge. AAA Northway also offers car-seat inspections by appointment.
We love our TSL Adventures kids and want them to stay safe. That starts with a properly installed car seat.
On the doorstep of October, the weather has been so warm that kids have been able to continue to enjoy outdoor play. And among those outdoor activities undoubtedly is bike riding with the family.
Once children lose those training wheels, they think they are ready to tackle the world -- or at least the neighborhood sidewalks or bike trails. But be sure they have the gear to keep them safe before they start pedaling.
Here is the list of Bike Safety for Big Kids, as presented by Safe Kids Worldwide, in their words. They’re the experts and can say it better than we can:
Sixteen years ago this month, we in New York's Capital Region and the rest of the world watched in horror as terrorists attacked the United States. Unfortunately, terrorist attacks continue around the world today, and our children are exposed to those images, even as much as we try to shield them.
At some point, we all need to talk to our children about terrorism – even from our safe homes in Troy or Albany or Clifton Park. Here are some tips on how to discuss the topic of terrorism, or other uncomfortable topics in the news, with your children, inspired by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
For more information, visit the memorial's website. And if your children have any concerns you'd like to discuss with us, see your TSL Adventures center director.
OK, so Mother Nature isn’t exactly cooperating on the first day of fall.
Instead of cooler temperatures and a brisk breeze, the forecast calls for summer-like temperatures for the next week. Still, every week in this space we’re going to bring you Friday Fun -- tips of great things to do with your kids.
Let’s get started!
Here at TSL, we have a fall full of adventures planned. Just wait!
As parents, we always want to expose our children to experiences that will benefit them in both the short and long term.
We take them to the libraries or places like the Museum of Innovation and Science in Schenectady or the Via Aquarium in Rotterdam or the Five Rivers Environmental Education Center in Delmar to learn and see new things.
But how about the experience of youth sports? The fields of the Capital Region, from Bethlehem to Ballston Spa, are filled with youngsters playing football, soccer, field hockey and fall baseball these days.
Is that right for your child?
The perils of youth sports are in the news these days with all the talk of concussions in football. Still, youth sports can be a huge positive for both boys and girls as they grow up.
Some of the benefits:
Yes, there are negatives. Frequently, they are created when parents and coaches put too much pressure on children to succeed. By tempering your expectations, and watching how the team is structured, your child will be able to have fun. She might find out that softball isn’t for her, and that’s OK. She had the chance to play and be a part of a team. That experience is priceless and will only help her down the road as she goes on to her next event and adventure.
Dog. Man’s best friend.
But a dog, or a cat, or any number of pets can be the best friend of a little boy or a little girl, too.
Your child might be clamoring for a pet. And the idea is growing on you, as you envision all the fun your family can have watching a pup prance around your backyard or at one of many fabulous dog parks in the Albany area, such as the Normanskill Farm Dog Park or the Town of Bethlehem Dog Park.
But how do you know if your family -- and you -- are ready for the responsibility of a pet? Here are some questions to ponder, and research, before you take the plunge into pet parenthood, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association:
If, after considering these questions, you decide pet ownership is right for your family, check out the American Veterinary Medical Association website for tips on selecting the perfect pet. The time investment you make in researching the pet that fits your lifestyle and will mesh with your family will pay off.