Friday, November 30, 2012

Take Your Child to A Bookstore Day is Saturday, Dec 1

Remember how earlier this week I wrote about how Black Friday and Cyber Monday could move over for Giving Tuesday?

Well, apparently they can also move over this Saturday for Take Your Child to A Bookstore Day.

If that's not the best.idea.ever. for a holiday I don't know what is.

So tomorrow... take your child - or any young person in your life - to a bookstore. And while you're there, maybe buy a book for a kid who doesn't have even a single book of his or her very own.

Visit to learn more about the Book Pantry Holiday Book Drive as well as about the New Jersey mom behind Take Your Child to A Bookstore Day.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Advent Calendars... for Hanukkah?

Image from
Recently my husband and I got to a bit of an impasse regarding whether a Jewish family like our own could (should?) have a Christmas Tree.

Apparently, from his point of view at least, it's not gonna happen, nor should it or could it.

So, being the helpful, compromising and think-outside-the-box kinda person I am, I suggested we get an Advent Calendar instead - only instead of counting down the days to Christmas, ours would (obviously) count down the days to Hanukkah instead.

However, he - not being as helpful, compromising, and outside-the-box thinking as moi - got all caught-up on the word Advent - which apparently accordingly to Wikipedia is laden with all sorts of Christian and Christmas connotations. Honestly, who knew?

So where does this leave us? I finally came up with a solution that works for the whole Random Handprints household. I'm going to hide the kids Hanukkah gifts in a board which sorta resembles the  one from Punch A Bunch on the The Price Is Right, with a gift revealed for each of the eight nights of Hanukkah.

I got the idea from You Are My Fave's Punchboard Advent, which you can check out here.

And next time? I'm going to refer to not as a Hanukkah Advent but as a Countdown Calendar to Hanukkah, because a quick visit to Pinterest reveals that is definitely a thing now - Valentine's Day, Birthdays, Vacations - you can countdown to anything.

I wrote about10 Amazing Advent Calendars for You can check them all out here.

Image from

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My Kids' Three Favorite Hanukkah Books

Hanukkah is "early" this year - beginning on Saturday evening, December 8, so we're in full Hanukkah celebrating mode here at the Random Handprints household. We're reading a lot of Hanukkah books, and thought I'd share my kids' favorite ones:

Hanukkah: A Counting Book in English, Yiddish and Hebrew, by Emily Sper
My three-year-old loves this book, which is recommended for ages up to 6. With bright graphics, three languages, die-cut candles and teaching numbers one through eight, it has more than enough to amuse both the reader and the read-ee. Board book, $6.99.

Chnukkah Lights, Robert Sabuda and Michael J. Rosen
Kay, who is seven, spends hours exploring the amazingly intricate pop-up displays found in this gorgeous book, which retells the story of Chanukah in eight scenes, all which include a festive menorah. Ages 5 
and up; $34.99.

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, by Eric A. Kimmel and Trina Schart Hyma
My nine-year-old has been captivated by this book since I started reading it to her a few years ago. Now, she can read it herself. This Caldecott Honor winning tale will captivate kids as they follow Hershel and his quest to banish the  Helmsbergville's goblins, who have prevented the townspeople from celebrating Hanukkah. Possibly scary for younger kids, so best to share with those 6 and over. Paperback, $7.95.

Next up in our Hanukkah celebrations: setting-up the spinning light-up dreidel.

Happy Hanukkah!

Disclosure: I received Hanukkah Lights to review, the others are from our personal book collection.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Move Over Black Friday and Cyber Monday... Today is Giving Tuesday

I didn't go to the mall on Black Friday - I took my kids to the movies.

I didn't shop on Saturday or Sunday either.

And Cyber Monday? Yep, no shopping then either. (Well, maybe a tiny little bit, but Hanukkah is early this year!)

So today, the first Giving Tuesday, I'm going to spend all the money I didn't spend the last four days.

And I can't wait.

Giving Tuesday is all about giving to others, which for me is much closer to the holiday spirit than buying more stuff for my overly materialistic children. I'd much rather buy a doll for a child who doesn't even have one then buy another one for my daughter who has plenty (and by plenty I mean way too many).

Here are a few organizations I'm supporting this year:

  • Kiva. My amazing cousin Mary first told me about this organization last year - they provide life-changing micro loans to people in developing countries who use these funds to build their own businesses and do other incredible things. During the holiday season, you can give Kiva Cards for $25 (or more) to friends and family, who can then choose what projects they would like to support.

  • It Takes A Family. This organization has a single goal: to bring families effected by Hurricane Sandy together with families who want to help them. You can Sign-up here to be matched with a family. You can also contact me if you would like to contribute to help the family Sandler & Wald has already been paired with through the program.

  • Book Pantry of Orange. Run single-handedly by Carol Lukoff, The Book Pantry of Orange provides books to kids who otherwise wouldn't have any. I can't even imagine. Year-round the book pantry primarily gives out gently used books to the kids who visit, but for the holidays wouldn't it be great if all the kids could have the thrill of unwrapping a brand-new book? is holding a Holiday Book Drive, you can find out how to contribute here.
What organizations are you supporting on Giving Tuesday? Please share in the comments below!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Huggies Pull-Ups Training Pants: The Only Thing My Son Likes About Potty Training

My son Ziggy is a little over three, and his interest in using the toilet is pretty scant.

However, my interest in him using the toilet is pretty big.

Right before he was born, for reasons too convoluted to get into here, I made a deal with my husband that I would change all of our soon-to-be-born son's diapers, and as we are both contractual in nature, we've kept to this arrangement these 3+ years.

My husband even sent Ziggy over to me holding a little plastic bag filled with a wipes container and a clean diaper. And yes, I realized if Ziggy could follow that direction, he could use the potty, too.

One of the few things in the world of potty training and diapers my son actually does have an interest in is the diapers he'll wear - and that is he'll wear only Huggies Pull-Ups Training Pants with "the cars with faces," and he always specifies if he wants to wear "just the one car" or "both the two cars."

Sometimes he wears the Pull-Ups and just skips pants all-together, not sure I'm totally OK with that.

Big Sister Kay and Ziggy
Lately, Ziggy has even been able to put his Pull-Ups on by himself, carefully making sure the zipper design goes in front.

And yes, again, I realize that if Ziggy can pay this much attention to a pair of training pants, he can also learn to use the potty.

I'm always looking for a good deal on Pull-Ups, so when I found out from Collective Bias that they had a campaign to share that Walmart had a roll-back price on Huggies Pull-Ups, I knew I wanted to help spread the word about the savings.

At Walmart stores and online at a pack of 19 to 26 (depends on the size) Huggies Pull-Ups are a rollback price $8.97 - reduced from $9.47.

I ordered two packs, and chose to have them shipped directly to my house -- it's free to ship to your local store on orders of any size, and to your home on orders of $45 or more.

To make a trip to the potty even more enticing for my son, I also got a 9-pack of Hot Wheels cars and a starter kit of wall tracks, which I'll put on the bathroom wall in hopes it will soon be his favorite room in the house.

And while I look forward to a day in the not-so-distant future when Huggies Pull-Ups aren't on my weekly shopping list, until then I'm glad to get a good deal on training pants with "just the one car" and "both the two cars."
I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Huggies. #HuggiesWalmart #CBias #SocialFabric. All opinions are my own, and my son really does like Huggies Pull-Ups that much.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thanksgiving Activities with Kids - Printables, Handprint Turkeys and More

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and if you're like me you're feeling a combo of happiness and fear over so much family togetherness. But don't worry, I've found tons of Thanksgiving fun to keep the kids on the delightufl side over the long weekend.

Printables are a great way to go, as someone else has already done the work to create these kid-amusements. You just need to click and print. Here are some that are big hits with my kids:

Thanksgiving word search in easy version or more difficult.

Mazes: kids can help a turkey escape to the woods.

Color-by-number Turkeys - here are two for younger kids (preschool through first grade).

And last, have fun with everyone participating in Thanksgiving MadLibs!

For turkey handprints and other Thanksgiving crafts, I've got a few projects here as well as even a few more ideas here from last year.

And this year, I've got great Thanksgiving Math suggestions.

And while I can't find a photo, in 2009 we made awesome Turkey Cupcakes. My kids still talk about it. Recipe from the Brown Eyed Baker if you want to make them, too. Just imagine mine just like that... if you found them on Craft Fail.

Happy Thanksgiving! What's your favorite way to spend the weekend? Football? Turkey trot? Pie-eating?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thanksgiving Math Ideas

While usually my Thanksgiving posts focus on handprint turkeys, today I'm sharing some fun Thanksgiving math ideas from Jersey-based Bedtime Math.

1. Use cooking time to learn about fractions. Whether you’re making mashed potatoes or a pumpkin pie, cooking and baking are all about fractions – ½ cup of sugar, ¼ tsp of nutmeg, etc. Have your little ones help you prepare the Thanksgiving feast, and teach them about fractions in the process. Using water and measuring cups, have your children count out the number of ¼ cups that go into 1 cup.
2. Weigh the turkey. Take kids to the grocery store to pick out a turkey, and use it as an opportunity to introduce them to weight measurements. Show them a small turkey and see how much it weighs, then compare it to a much larger one. You can even make it a guessing game –whoever guesses the right weight wins. And, finally, make sure to find the right-sized turkey for your celebration!

3. Make setting the table fun by counting. Whether you’re hosting a big dinner party or just celebrating with a few close friends and family members, have your children help you set the table and practice counting while they’re doing it. Count the number of knives, forks, spoons, etc. that you’ll need for the table, and then count to see how many different pieces are used for each setting.
And of course, you can always encourage your kids to count their blessings. I sure will be counting mine this Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Power Back!

We're home, we're warm, things are pretty much back to normal.

I know that isn't the case for so many others post-Sandy, and I feel very fortunate.

The gas situation is pretty much back to normal in NJ too, so the round-the-clock tweeting from @NJGas is no longer necessary. It was an incredible experience, and it meant a lot to read all the nice things people tweeted:

It is truly amazing what crowd sourcing can do - the tips all came from other people. People willing to take the time to share a lead on an open gas station with complete strangers, to follow-up and explain where they needed to get in line, or to give advice for the best time of day to go.

Thanks to all who made a difference, now let's just hope gas rationing and lines is a thing of the past by Monday morning.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Still no power. Still tweeting from @njgas.

Nothing new here with us. Still waiting anxiously for the message that our power is restored and we can go home.

Still tweeting around the clock from @njgas, though hopefully the worst of the gas shortages are over now in New Jersey.

Darren Rovell of ABC News wrote a great feature A Guide to Gas in New Jersey about @NJGas, and I was interviewed on ABC News Radio, but I have no idea if it aired or how I would ever find out that it did.

I also was included in this article on The Huffington Post: Hurricane Sandy Aftermath Presents Difficulties for Voters in New York, New Jersey.

And last, the Huff Po also covered the @NJGas story here: Need Gas? Twitter to the Rescue.

All this might sound like we're doing much of anything, but the truth is we aren't. Just keeping the kids feed and mildly entertained is extra-challenging without the comforts of home.

But it sure does make me appreciate going back to our everyday life.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

New Jersey Gas - @NJGAS Tweeting Continues

This is all.

In just 4 days we've gone from 38 followers to 5,998.

That's a lot of folks looking for gas in New Jersey.

Here's hoping tomorrow things turn around for the gas seeking Jerseyans.

And also? That power is restored at our house.

Once that happens I'm happy to move on to the bigger problems still to be solved post-Sandy.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

And the gas hunt continues in New Jersey... and so do the tweets from @NJGas

My husband and I have been collective tweeting from the twitter handle @njgas, and we've been glad to help our fellow Jerseyans find gas - but who knew it would be so much work.

Also, who knew we'd be interviewed by Reuters and The Huff Po about the gas crisis in New Jersey. For serious.

I'm hoping today marks the peak of the gas crisis here in Jersey, and things start getting back to normal tomorrow.

There are way fewer reports of lines and other issues - though sadly a few instances of license plates being stolen for their coveted odd number which was needed to get in line today in the 12 NJ counties that instituted gas rationing. I should add that this gas rationing revealed that much of NJ doesn't know their odds from their evens. I was this close to starting @NJMath - but then I came to my senses.

As I close down my @NJGas tweeting for tonight I am shocked and kinda excited too that it's almost at 5,000 followers. Social media. It's amazing.

I'll be back tomorrow with the latest from @NJGas, and also hopefully with a report we have our power restored and that the kids are going back to school on Monday. Here's hoping.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Where to get gas in New Jersey - for help follow @NJGas and #NJGas on Twitter

As I mentioned yesterday, in a truly Mom and Pop operation my husband and I are trying to help people in New Jersey find gas via twitter by tweeting gas station openings and closings, as well as wait time information.

It's a lot of work, and as gas seems to runs out as soon as we've just found out it's available, also a little bit of an impossible task to do this whole endeavor with any accuracy at all.

But we're still at it, because a lot of people have tweeted their very sincere thanks that one of the @NJGas tips got them gas when they had been unable to find any.

There was even an interview with a Reuters reporter today, who included quotes in her article: Ways to find gas amid Sandy's fuel crunch.

Here's hoping "gas shortage" is taken off the list of everyone's Hurricane Sandy ails very, very soon.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Where to get gas in New Jersey - @NJGas is here to help! #NJGas

So awhile back, when gas prices were rising higher and higher every day, my husband got the twitter handle @NJGas to tweet low gas prices.

After a few months he tired of searching gas prices, and stopped.

Today, he asked me if he was getting spammed. In a single day, he had gotten 500 new followers.

I took a peek on Twitter, and realized #NJGas is trending as our fellow New Jerseyans are hunting for gas, which sadly is really hard to find, and involves long waits and civil unrest even when it is found.

So I've been tweeting with my husband from the @NJGas twitter account because with so many people looking for help to find gas, I felt we needed to. But the requests are coming in so quickly, it's hard to keep up.

But we're trying, our tiny social media contribution. And we're ever-hopeful that gas shortages are one less thing to worry about in the coming days.

31 Days of Halloween - Day 31: November 5 is the New October 31 (at least it is here in New Jersey)

"Fear not, children of New Jersey. Chris Christie has got your back."
Here in New Jersey, October 31 was about as far from being the festive night of Halloween as it possibly could be.

And understandably so, the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy is pretty terrible, and I'm not even in one of the worst hit communities by the shore.

But when two-thirds of your town is without power, and many have substantial property damage, Halloween is really the last thing on your mind even if you've been writing about it for the past 30 days.

The governor has rescheduled Halloween here in New Jersey via Executive Order 105 for Monday, November 5.

I'll be happy to be back then with one final day of Halloween, even if it is five days after the fact.

My kids, of course, will be even happier.

Quote and image are from ABC News, read the full story here.

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