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Monday, April 30, 2012

Cool Affordable Modern Art



Swift

It's no secret that our information is not safe anymore.   Once you visit a certain website, place an item in your shopping cart, miraculously you have a coupon for this store in your inbox the next morning.   I once bought an angel for someone as a gift and within the next week or two, I received 3 or 4 catalogs from companies I had never heard of, selling religious items.... angels/religious....I get it.   The angel company sold my address to the religious company.  It's business.  Let them waste their own time and money but truly, they must make money or else they wouldn't be doing it, right?    

Well, today I received one of those catalogs and thought, "I have never heard of this company......" and as I opened the book and browsed, I thought, "Which company sold my address this time??   I must thank them!"    The BEST junk mail I have received in AGES....so much so that I made myself a note to blog about it immediately.   (This topic was moved to the top of the list....and poor iPad/iPhone apps keeps getting moved to the bottom.)

The catalog cover says "modern digital canvas"  (no capital letters, which I kind of like)
Their website is www.md-canvas.com

Their pieces are amazing and prices are not terrible for "artwork."
I "like" art; I can't really say I "love" art or artists in particular.   I appreciate it and I enjoy it and seeing it in a museum is wonderful, but I do not like anything enough to hang it in my home!   I think a piece of art is a sure way to communicate a lot of who you are to those that enter your home;  I would prefer to have items that reflect who I am in a different way I guess.   Hard to explain.

But back to this site....the items are modern:  No Van Gogh's Sunflowers....no poster prints of impressionists that you will find on www.allposters.com.   The pieces can be mounted on canvas or on a "floating frame" (need to google that definition) and the best part of it all, two of my favorite words: "free shipping."

If you do not have time to check out the site right now, you will want to when you see the pricing that I am about to reveal.

Jumbo: 58x43 $389
Medium: 46x34 $289
Small: 34x25 $199
(They have other sizes and shapes and sets of 2 and 3 that can be placed together for a different effect.)

These prices can not be beat.   FRAMING costs that.   Framing a piece of poster paper would be more expensive than these prices.   And a canvas is a beautiful texture to add to a room or hallway.     Some of the pieces are calm and soothing and others are what some would call an inspiration piece (or maybe a conversation piece.)

I am going to spend some time tomorrow looking around my house for a bare wall.   There are a few that I LOVE.      I will share some of my favorite ones....



EdenSalvation
StationLost




Booking Hotels Online: Safe or Sorry?



Mondrian-Soho-garden


I am trying to cover a variety of topics and I have a looooong list of blogs that I want to get to but this one will be a quick one; and on a topic I have not covered yet.    That topic is travel.

In 2003 when I was planning my honeymoon, I used a travel agent.   In 2012, I book all travel online.    I would think that most people now do.   How to travel agencies stay in business?   It seems that the internet has the best pricing and sure, travel agencies get "deals" on selling certain chains and fill blocks of rooms at Marriotts and Hiltons, but once their fee is tacked on, does it really pay to do it with a travel agent?    Trip Advisor gives the reviews that you need, you can select your flights and in some cases, your seats online.

I am often weary of the hotels that I find on expedia and priceline though.   I fear that the rooms are discounted so low because of their location (near the elevator) or on a low floor (just across from the noisy pool or entertainment at night) or with a terrible view (of the side of the building next door.)   Sometimes you do get what you pay for.   Hotels have levels of rooms and booking on a website can be risky.    I have to be 100% sure that I am going to be happy with the room to book on a site like this.

But then I found this site.  http://www.hotelmode.com/
I have ZERO reservations (no pun intended) with booking on this site.   The hotels are all moderate to above, in terms of quality and reviews.   They seem to have discounted rates on the better hotels and they are very clear on the type of room that you will get.   You can book online, but there is also an option to call and speak to a LIVE person.....Just so happened that the day I called to make a reservation, I spoke to a lovely New Yorker (they are based in Queens) with an Irish accent who was a pleasure to deal with.    I booked a room for 3 nights at a hotel that would have cost (according to the website) between $369 and $459 a night.   Not only were they discounting the room per night, the 3rd night was FREE!    Really, 3 nights cost me less than $600!   Booking on the hotel site would have been $1200 at least.  I compared features such as sq. footage, room location, views, every single detail.    

Cosmo Pool

I highly suggest using Hotel Mode.   I think it's a cross between Expedia and Groupon!    If you have a favorite vacation spot, that you know well enough to speak of, I am asking you to do me a favor.   If you love to go to Vegas or to Miami....scout it out for me and let me know if my theory is correct.  (Or even NYC......the hotel selections are pretty nice!)
1.  Are the hotels on the site, higher quality than most?
2.  Are the price packages a fair amount less than booking on your own, through the site?

I would be interested in checking my theories out.   I am not able to test this theory on hotels in London.....or Paris.    I prefer to stay on "this side of the pond" with young kids at home.    :-)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I Love Wallies! (www.wallies.com) 50% off til Friday

www.wallies.com
Get on their mailing list or like them on Facebook for information on sales.  

Monday, April 23, 2012

Great Housewarming Gift











I love being a creative gift giver.   When I moved into my new house last summer, someone else returned the favor and gave ME one of the most amazing housewarming gifts!  

If I had a dollar for every person who saw it and commented (or better yet, if LL Bean gave me a dollar for every person I recommended it to!) I would have a LOT of dollars.
:-)

This sign is one that can be made for anyone in anytown.    It gives the name of the city/town and the latitude and longitude of the town.    It's worth clicking on the link below:  
LL Bean Latitude/Longitude Sign
Anytown, USA 

You will want one for yourself.....and you will find yourself telling everyone who enters your house where you got it.  Trust me!


Every Woman Needs a Great (Handy)Man

We all know that it is no longer 1950; Where the man goes to work, the woman stays home and takes care of the children and tends to the house, ironing shirts, preparing dinners, etc. Most women work if not FT, P/T and comes home to a full time job of taking care of the home still.    Gender roles are changing and not as defined as they once were.   We can thank the liberal women of the 60s and 70s for this....and we can curse them for it too..... It seems the simpler way of life was when every household was like The Brady Bunch (minus Alice)

Some of us have an "Alice" though.....because the house cleaning, laundry and meal preparations are a lot for women.   We have the luxury of having someone do this for us, so why not?    That time can be spent getting a manicure/pedicure (we have to look good for work, don't we?) or going to the gym or shuttling our kids from sports to religious instruction, to birthday parties, play dates, etc.  

So we have an Alice......why not have a handyman?   Just like we (the wives) do not do the traditional woman's job whether we work outside the home or not.....the men aren't expected to do all the "male" housework on a weekend either.   Why not let him have his weekend to get the equivalent of the mani/pedi, gym, shopping?    He works hard all week too and really, for the same price we pay "Alice" to do our female roles, we can have a handyman to do the traditional male roles.    What's fair is fair.  

That's why I have a handyman.   A good handyman.     I will share him with you if you want to hire him.  His name is Ronnie and he does it all.   More than the most handy husband I know.   Why have your husband spend his Saturday putting together the kids new bikes.....regrouting the bathtub.....or changing lightbulbs, hanging pictures?    Free him up and maybe you can sneak in a nice lunch on a Saturday!?

Here is the deal.   Keep a list of things that need to be done.  Purchase the materials that you think you need.   (Hardware Store, Home Depot)   When you think you have 3 hours worth of work to keep the handyman busy, call him up and tell him you need him for 3 hours.   $90 later you have it all done!    Yep.    He has a 3 hr minimum; $90.  Daily rate is $200.    I think that is quite a bargain.   By buying all the things you need in advance, he gets more done in the 3 hours that you have him.   (Or you can have him go get the things too, if you don't mind paying him for his time.)  

90 bucks.  Probably the same price that you pay Alice for her services, right?    So you have your Alice and he has Ronnie, the handyman.   

Tell him that Emma recommended him.  
Ronnie:  914-843-4621


CB2 Couch




 

CB2 Couch

Seriously one of my favorite piece of furniture EVER is selling on Craigslist for $500.  If I did not already have it, I would want to buy it.    I went to the CB2 store in SoHo in the summer of 2011 looking for a dining room table and found this couch.   My sister and I sat on it, snuggled on it and basically took up space for nearly an hour on it.    I HAD to have it.   My entire living room was redesigned and redecorated because of THIS COUCH.

Anyone looking for a couch.......buy this, before I do!


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Educational Websites for Parents: Reading and Math

I am going to list some useful sites to use at home with your kids.   Some are free sites and others are membership sites.   The membership sites are worth the cost, usually less than $8-10 per month per site.   As a former educator, I can not stress enough, how much kids learn through the use of computers and iPads.  Kids want to handle everything they see their parents using and giving them the opportunity to work on a computer or iPad is so motivating.  The better sites give them proper feedback (sounds, stars, reward certificates that they can print) and even allow you to go on and check on their progress.

Here are some of my favorites:

One More Story
www.onemorestory.com

I discovered this site last year when my daughter was a preschooler.   I loved it because it had great picture books for preschool aged children.  The children select a book and it is read out loud to them, highlighting the words as they are spoken.  Besides entertaining the children, it visually reinforces the concept of left to right, one spoken word is highlighted at at time, etc.   It reads at a good pace and the children can use the site independently.  They can select the book of their choice and turn the pages as they are ready.  

I loved this site so much that I would give this is a birthday gift to children that I knew.  I would go on the site, purchase a 3 month or 6 month membership for them, print out the voucher with the code on it and slip it into the birthday card.   A very unexpected present for some kids (and parents!)    For the price of 1 or 2 hard covered picture books, kids can have access to a number of books for a period of 3 or 6 months.  




www.readinga-z.com
(also www.writinga-z.com and www.learninga-z.com)

One of my favorite sites!   It's a membership site like www.onemorestory.com but has titles that range from preK to 5th or 6th grade reading levels.    Most schools in this area are using the DRA as an assessment tool to measure students reading levels and will share with you at a parent conference, the level that they are at.    

When you go into a book store or a library, how do you know which titles are at your child's level?  You don't.  It is not marked anywhere (although, Scholastic Book Orders now have reading levels listed underneath the titles, which is brilliant).   This site lets your child select titles at their own level.    Ask the teacher what level they are at and let them practice at home.    They have fiction and non fiction titles, probably 20-25 per level, with accompanying activities to go along with every title.   

If I were doing private tutoring with children right now, I would use this site on a regular basis.  It has everything you need.   Vocabulary, writing, comprehension questions.   It's worth every cent spent on this site.   

To parents: I would find out your child's reading level and let them practice at one level below for a while to gain fluency and confidence, to start.   What I mean is this.  If your child is a level 12, according to the teacher, they are probably being instructed at a level 12 in school.  At home, I would suggest reading level 10 regularly for practice.   If you are the parent of a child who is an excellent reader and you feel that they are not being challenged at their level in the classroom, you can provide higher level reading experiences for your child at home.   This is often the case in younger grades when some children read beyond their peers.  As unpopular as this is to say, it is ultimately the parents job to enrich their children at home.   Many schools (and teachers) do an excellent job of differentiating instruction and teaching reading in small groups to reach each reader at their level, but practice at home is always an option.  (Maybe ask the teacher if they can not do the homework that the rest of the class is doing and do their own program at home?)   

There is also writing-z.com and learning-z, that have developed after reading-z.....Still have to check those two out!  



IXL
www.ixl.com

This is a site for math practice for kids preK-8th grade.  The cost per child is about $10 a month, and a few dollars more per month, for each additional child.   This site lets children practice and reinforce math skills and concepts at home.   What I love most about this site is that it allows parents to log on and check their progress.    If you decide to leave the kids home with a babysitter and you want to check later on, it lets you know what they worked on.  (If you are like me, you probably browse the history on the computer and see what they were doing while you were out.....that's a fun one.  Try that some time!)

In my years of teaching math, I found so many students who were able to grasp the concepts but lacked the skills to complete problems correctly.  For example.  Multiplication facts are usually a 3rd grade skill.   They are supposed to be mastered by the end of 3rd grade, where teachers give daily minute drills to test their memory of "the facts."   By 5th grade, many kids were still not automatic.   When trying to teach fractions and division, the kids understood the concept and the steps, but made errors in simple computation, resulting in a completely wrong final answer.  

Schools have recently started to intervene and assess students basic computation skills to ensure that they are ready for higher level math concepts.   If their skills are not sharp enough, not automatic enough and kids can not recall their math facts based on the average number that they should have for their age, they are at risk for math failure further along in their schooling.   Schools have intervention plans in place now to help prevent children from falling through the cracks.   How frustrating it was to me when I was tutoring children whose parents said they were failing math, to spend an hour with them doing flash cards, that their parents could easily be doing with them.    Parent would say that they failed their test on averages.  I would look at it and see a failing grade.    My first attempt to diagnose and correct their work would be to make up a sample problem and watch them do the problem.   In 4th, 5th or 6th grade, to see a child make a mistake ADDING 4 or 5 two-digit numbers.......when surely they learned this (but did not master it) in 2nd grade.  

My advice to parents is this:  If you have a struggling 4th grader, start off doing LOTS of practice in 2nd and 3rd grade math.  Chances are the reason they are a struggling 4th grader is due to the fact that they did not master and/or retain previously taught material.

Khan Academy
www.khanacademy.com

OK.   This is an amazing resource for middle and high school aged kids as well as college students and adults!    It's a library of over 3000 videos on all topics, ranging from mathematics to history to art.   I heard about this site once and checked it out, but did not see a reason to use it right now, as my children are very small.

I was on vacation with my husband a few months ago and he said to me, "Have you ever heard of Khan Academy?"   I was shocked that he knew about it.   He was sitting beside me reading a book that mentioned it.   It turns out that people in third world countries are being provided with iPods and iPads as a teaching tool and they spend HOURS a day learning from this site.   This site provides them with the equivalent of a high school education and their goal is to try to pass exams and compete in colleges and universities with students who have had formal and traditional education.   If it works for them, it can certainly work for our kids!    

Many times, when our high school students (or high school aged babysitters in my case) ask for help with their school projects, we are unable to help them or guide them because the topics are not on the top of our heads.    Super site and surely it will grow and expand over time.  






Personalized Clothing for Kids







I have an AMAZING site to share today.    It's called Princess and Froggy.
The designer makes custom onesies and t-shirts for kids.   If you are looking for initial shirts, or number 3 say, for a 3rd bday or something specific, here is your place!  

My personal favorite, is the one I had to post on here: the necktie shirts.   Love!  <3 

Check out this site:
Princess and Froggy
http://www.etsy.com/shop/princessandfroggy

Right now I am thinking of so many fun things I can order.   Matching t-shirts for photos for my kids or my 3 nieces....Holiday card t-shirts...maybe one says naughty, one says nice....No, that would be mean.   I have a friend having twins this fall.  I might have their names and birth weight put on t-shirts that they can wear and later frame?  

So many ideas going through my head. And gifts....or what about party favors!!??    Imagine a superhero birthday party and all the kids were given a superhero t-shirt to wear for the party?   The party planner in me wants to host a party JUST to order these cute shirts.

Check it out.   I have already placed a special request order!    It kind of reminds me of chasing fireflies, a catalog that I simply can't buy from, because I think their prices are ridiculous.     

As always, feel free to share with friends.  http://www.etsy.com/shop/princessandfroggy





Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Your Kids and TV/VideoGame/Computer Time


Media Health Matters
A P R I L    2 0 1 2    |     THE SCIENCE BEHIND RAISING MEDIA SMART KIDS  
Reboot Your Family's Media Routine!

One great way your family can break old media habits, troubleshoot, and get routines running smoothly again is to participate in the Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood Screen-Free Week, April 30-May 6. Whether you're turning off screens completely or just using media moderately, inspire your family with these make-it-happen techniques. Check out the research, Q&A's, and tips that can help your family stick to your screen-free plan for one week, and emerge with a better understanding of healthy media habits for the future.

Each family is unique. Share your screen-free ideas with other parents on our Facebook page! 
___________________________________________________________________________
The Tips   

Here are 5 tips to help your family succeed during screen-free week and keep media time and content moderate all year long.  
  1. Focus on why you care. Think about what motivates you to manage your child's media habits and why.  Are you concerned about how media impact your child's personal identity, social connections, extracurricular participation, eating habits, physical activity, sleep habits, academic achievement, body image, or brain development? For parents, the sense of convenience or indulgence that accompany entertainment media can be tempting influences, but focusing on the love and empathy you feel for your children may help you more consistently select healthy routines and opportunities for them.

     
          
  2. Consider the evidence. Look at research shows that media are neutral tools--it's how we use them that determines how they affect us.  We know that media content influences children's developing beliefs and behavior, and that the consequences are formative, not superficial. For example, kids' perceptions of themselves and the people around them are influenced by media portrayals of gender, race, ethnicity, disability, class, sexuality, beauty ideals, and other identities. That's part of why children's media use can be linked to negative health outcomes, like smoking, obesity, risky sexual behavior, disordered eating, anxiety, alcohol abuse, attention deficits, addictive behavior, decreased academic performanceand aggressive behavior. But when content is chosen wisely, moderate amounts of media are correlated with positive health outcomes.

     
                                                     
  3. Set clear rules. Warmly discuss your media plan with your family, and involve older kids in the decision process.  Will you prohibit all electronic entertainment media, and allow screens for work, school, and phone communication only? Will media be removed from the home environment? Will texting packages be turned off? Be a strong role model, write down a few simple changes, and hang reminder signs to help make your path to success a clear one. Then shift to a smart screentime budget throughout the year.

     
       
  4. Identify successful alternatives that fit your child. When trying to find screen-free activities for your child, think about what worked in the past and build on that.  When did your family last enjoy a restful or exciting hour without screens? If that was during a power outage, start there; light a few candles and tell stories. Enjoyable screen-free moments probably match your child's needs and interests. Would your child benefit most from more time to relax, socialize face-to-face with family, do homework, help others, exercise, read a book, pursue a hobby, develop a natural talent, be creative, or play outside?

     
       
  5. Work together to make a difference. Embrace the fact that you are not alone in your effort to manage media. Exchange ideas with a neighbor or discuss healthful children's media use on the community level.  When a community of adults teach similar messages about healthy behavior, children are more likely to adopt the behavior. We see that, for example, in research shows that kind deeds are contagious. So, get your whole family and other caring adults involved in screen-free week, then enjoy working to create a healthier environment for youth! 

__________________________________________________________________________
The Q&A

Pediatrician, professor, parent, and former filmmaker Dr. Michael Rich answers parents' questions about media and health. Encouraging families to enjoy their media and use them wisely, Dr. Rich shares science-based answers and practical solutions.
What's your question? Ask the Mediatrician®.           
The Mediatrician
Does the sound from TV affect infants?

__________________________________________________________________________
The Research

The following studies on parental mediation examine the relationship between children, media, and health. Search the CMCH Database of Research (DoR) for easy access to the current state of knowledge regarding electronic and print media and the effects they may have on child health. 
  • This study found that parental safety measures on Internet browsing have only a small preventive role and cannot protect adolescents from Internet addiction. The online activities most associated with Internet addiction were watching online pornography, online gambling, and online gaming. See this study 
  • Study authors found that children who had more open communication about TV with their families tended to see TV as less real and viewing as having negative effects. See this study
________________________________________________________________________

Center on Media and Child Health - Our vision is to educate and empower both children and those who care for them to create and consume media in ways that optimize children's health and development. Please help keep this information free and available to the public; consider making a donation to CMCH. Thank you for helping us help children.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Kids Spring Dresses: Communion, Flower Girl etc

Elegant Champagne Satin Gathered Skirt Flower Girl Dress



















Spring is here.   Lots of Engagements, Weddings, Communions, Confirmations, Proms!

If you are looking for a dress for yourself, your daughter, a gift for your godchild, you need to check this site out!!

http://www.mygirldress.com/

I bought this dress for my daughter for a wedding she was in.   She wore it once and might wear it again, if she has an occasion this spring/summer.   I forget the exact price, but this dress cost less than $50!     And if you buy them in a "bundle" (3 or more, I think) you save even more.   I bought 3 of them, a size 6, 10 and 12 and they were somewhere around $135-$140, with free shipping!!  

In another time and place, I might have paid $100-$150 for one dress.   Love the internet.
 
(This dress also came with a little bolero/jacket.  It is not pictured)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

No more picture frame clutter!!



Home Decoration Suggestion

This item is one of those things that people come into my house and say, "Where did you get that?"  It displays your photos the way a museum gift shop displays post cards.  On a circular rack, where they can be changed often.   $129 at Pottery Barn.  Plus free shipping!    For a while, Pottery Barn stopped carrying it....but it is back now.   A great item for any room. A great gift....Mother's Day is coming.  A gift to your mom, mother-in-law or even to yourself.    


Floor-Standing Photo CarouselFloor-Standing Photo Carousel$129.00Free ShippingCatalog/Internet Only
Click below for the link 
http://www.potterybarn.com/products/floor-standing-photo-carousel/?pkey=climited-wall-decor&cm_src=Quickbuy&sku=7741101&qty=1

Need a photographer?

Anyone interested in hiring a photographer?   
I highly recommend trying Pete Lott for an in home, indoor/outdoor session.
Whether you need professional pics, kids pics, engagement pics.   
A great price for an hour and all of your images on a CD PLUS the 4 best retouched.
Going to the children's photo studio never seems to work out.  Your kids wait a long time, they spill their juice boxes on their nice clothes, they surely don't cooperate!  
Plus the fact that they will charge you $99 for the CD alone, and rope you into the "membership" that brings some benefits....but really you can't walk out of there without spending $250-$300.
With your own CD you can make cards, calendars, photo gifts, etc.  
His retouched ones especially;  The photo stores will not retouch your images.   
Having them in your own house is the way to have it done.   Give him a call.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Be a Guest Blogger!

Good Morning!

I have received amazing feedback on this blog.  Thanks for reading and sharing it with people.   The "counter" is increasing daily and it seems that lots of people are checking it out.    Thanks for making this possible.

If anyone wants to be guest blogger, email me at emmawestchester@gmail.com and we can discuss.   I have received emails from people asking for iPad app suggestions, for kids as well as adults so I will get on that one.   And if ever there is a topic that I am not able to gather enough info on, I will ask someone to recommend someone so it can be posted.   I can cut and paste info and give credit to the person who wrote it.

People who want to promote their business or service, I am happy to post it here as well.   I am finding new things daily-- Mainly from twitter.   Will discuss those in a separate post, so I can get this out sooner rather than later.

Enjoy this beautiful day.
Emma

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Parenting Workshops


logo2
Join us for some amazing parenting workshops hosted by
NY Mom's World!
  
 
Toddler Prep: Potty Training


Tuesday, April 17, 2012
(4:00 pm - 5:00 pm)
This event does not repeat
Toddler Prep: Toddler Foods


Thursday, April 19, 2012 (12:30 - pm - 1:30 pm)
This event does not repeat



Tuesday, April 24, 2012
(4:00 pm - 5:00 pm)
This event does not repeat



Thursday, April 26, 2012 (12:30 - pm - 1:30 pm)
This event does not repeat
 

Reservations only!
 $20 P/Workshop. $30 at the Door
(Lunch Included)   
Limited spots
 
*Note: Playspace will be open during workshop times if your child/children will be using playspace it will be
$10 per child.

Kidville-Scarsdale
777 White Plains Road
Scarsdale, NY 10583
914-600-5544

Monday, April 2, 2012

Launch Day

OK.  Today is Launch Day.   I set a goal of 4/1 and I am behind by a day.   I am going to mass mail this link to a bunch of people and ask them to send to two friends and so on....and so on.  The 70's commercial, about spreading the word.....Remember this?    That's kind of what I am hoping for.   Before the internet and social networking sites, people actually had to tell people, not on a cell phone, about a product.  Can you imagine?

It's so easy nowadays.   Please share with a friend or five.  :-)