Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Three Great Kids Books for Black History Month

February is Black History Month, and I read some great children's books with my kids that focus on the contributions of black Americans. Here are three top picks:

Before There Was Mozart: The Story of Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-George (Random House, 2011).  This book, written by Lesa Cline-Ransome and illustrated by James E. Ransome, tells the amazing story of Joseph Boulogne, who was born in the early 1700s the son of a white plantation owner and a black salve. Joseph Boulogne traveled from his home in the West Indies to France when he was nine, eventually becoming one of the finest musicians in Europe.

Personally, I loved this story - which was completely new to me, and had a lot of surprising twists and turns as it traces Joesph's life from birth to world-famous violinist. I thought it was beautifully told, and that it explained the prejudice Joseph experienced in a real but not overwhelming way that kids could understand. Joseph was even an inspiration for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, his contemporary, although they never met.

But my kids? Not so interested. Their loss. I'm not sure if they represent a universal kid-reaction, but there you have it. Recommended for ages 5-9, though older might be better suited to the somewhat complicated storyline.

I Have A Dream: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Random House, 2012) This over-sized picture book also comes with a CD recording of King's historic speech. The book itself is the speech printed against the backdrop of illustrations by Kadir Nelson, a two-time Caldecott Honor winner. This book is recommended for all ages, and my three kids all enjoyed (ages 3-9) as did I - that speech gets me every time.

What Color is Your World? The Lost History of African-American Inventors (Candlewick Press, 2012 This book cleverly intertwines the story of a brother and sister learning about famous African American inventors while having a discussion with a well-read/historian handyman with mini bios of inventors and scientists. Inventors covered include the men behind the potato chip and the ice cream scoop, as well as the more modern innovation of the Super Soaker. One criticism, uttered by my 7-year-old daughter, "uh, there's only one woman in this whole book." Maybe an opportunity for a follow-up book focusing on the contributions from African American women?

I received review copies of these books. My opinions were not changed, and I'm pretty sure my kids don't really even know the difference between a regular, a review and a library copy.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Instructions for My Husband: I know the difference between inequity and iniquity.

Do you really think I don't know the difference between the word inequity and the word iniquity?


I was being funny. Hilarious, even. One might even say uproarious.

And it is funny. Because when you told me that you were going to go play poker in Atlantic City with your friends instead of coming home - which in itself is comical - I said, "Oh, the iniquity."

And you said, "Uh, I think you mean inequity."

Which, had I said that, would not be nearly as clever.

If there's one thing I'm sure of, you going to play poker instead of coming home to help with the kids, is funny. Hilarious, even. One might even say uproarious. Not to mention iniquitous. And full of inequity.

So yeah, I know the difference between inequity and iniquity - even if your little last-minute trip to Atlantic City with the boys managed to combine the two into one so nicely.

This is the twenty-eighth instruction in my ongoing series of Instructions for My Husband.

Have an instruction for your other half? Email me at and be a guest instructor.

More fun on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest - let's connect!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

I'd like to thank the Academy

First, let me tell you I can't believe I've won. Honestly, it was enough just to be nominated.

I'd be lying if I said I haven't thought about, dreamed about, this day. But I never really thought I'd be standing on stage before all of you accepting this award on behalf of the Loudest Family in America.

Just like everyone else there are days, so many days, when I feel like yes, yes I deserve this award. We are the Loudest Family in America.

And then there are days when for ten, sometimes even twenty minutes, there is silence and I think no, no we will never win the coveted prize. We just aren't loud enough.

I cannot believe my three kids were able to win this award over larger, much larger, families. I want to congratulate the other nominees, I'm as surprised as you are that my three were chosen as the loudest against such truly loud families like the seven O'Leary brothers in Indianapolis, the quintuplets in Washington State and of course, the 4 sisters ages 13-17, each a year apart sharing a two-bedroom apartment with their moms in Queens. You are all amazingly loud kids, but I am just honored and thrilled, absolutely thrilled, that my kids are even louder children. It is, every mother's dream.

My advice to all the kids, to all the mothers, and to all the families who try and win this award next year is this:

1. Never take a day off. Be loud every day. Mother's Day, Dad's birthday, vacations... you need to keep up the screaming. And not just the regular screaming and mayhem of kids that takes place in homes across this land, take it up a notch! Scream the bath water is way too hot, and seconds later yell it's too cold. Don't ask politely for a bath towel when you can just as easily shriek that demand at the top of your lungs. And obviously, the brisk chill when you exit the bath is the perfect reason for totally nonsensical noises at all sorts of decibels. Persistence, this is the path to victory.

Every moment is a new opportunity for noise. Remember this, and never miss a chance - no moment is too small, too mundane to leave alone. And just as importantly, think outside the voice box! Your voice is not the only way to make sounds, you can be loud plenty of other ways. Add makeshift drums, play the rim of your water glass, drum your fingers on the table, it all adds to the overall noise level. That's how you win.

2. Don't let a brother or a sister steal your thunder. If your toddler brother is having a tantrum, don't wait 'til he's done to start your own screaming match with your sister. Start yours the moment he starts his. It's just basic science, more voices = more noise. THIS is how you win. And to all the tweens and teens out there? There is no time that's not the right time for you to have your own epic meltdown. Think you've outgrown irrational outbursts at all hours of the day and night? You have not. This is how you win.

3. Mom and Dad - you are part of the family too.You will not win Loudest Family in America with just the endless screeching and screaming of your children. You must be part of the melee too. My personal favorite is to scream at them to stop screaming - it's a perfect way to get them to scream much, much louder. And Dads? If you yell at the kids to quiet down, that really gets them going. This my friends, is how you win.

And last, it is my pleasure to thank my family. Without you there would be no loudness, no constant noise and I would not be here today, on this stage, accepting the prestigious award of Loudest Family in America on our behalf.

Thank you for being loud every day, from morning until night, without your dedication and spirit we would not be here today. And winning this award? It makes every noise-filled day all the sweeter.

Thank you.{Screaming ensues.}

 What award is your family must likely to win?
Thanks to everyone visiting via BlogHer and VOTY.
This post was selected as a 2013 BlogHer Voices of the Year.
Join the fun on Facebook at /RandomHandprints and /InstructionsforMyHusband.
Yes, I have two Facebook pages - and apparently, a lot of free time.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

My son and I should take our comedy show on the road. Seriously.

Apparently my three-year-old Ziggy and I are a comedy duo. Don't feel like you're the last to know - I didn't know either until a recent Trader Joe's visit.

Here's our act, in full. The twenty-something cashier is the willing, or possibly unwilling, participant from the audience.

Cashier: "You've got your hands-full!" as he watches Ziggy helpfully pile the groceries on the counter, dropping every-other-one.

Me: "Oh no, this is nothing! I've only got the one with me. There's five more at home!"

Cashier gives me a wide-eyed look, a little too wide-eyed. I worry I've traumatized the twenty-something cashier with my joke about having six kids.

Me (contritely): "That's totally not true. I'm kidding."

Ziggy: "Yeah, that's totally not true, 'cause there's ten more at home!"

And when someone improvs like that, you don't ruin the joke.

You just wave, smile and say goodbye to the truly now wide-eyed cashier.
And hurry home to the ten kids who may or may not be waiting for you at home, while also planning your nationwide comedy tour, now booking for select dates.

For more funny stuff, visit (and like!) Random Handprints on Facebook, and follow @Anna_Sandler on Twitter. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A little taste of Malaysia at Duane Reade

Duane Reade - NYC's largest drug store chain - carries just about every snack, nail polish or greeting card you could ever want. When I was there yesterday there was liquid sand polish, and even though I don't know what that is, I do know I want it. There was half-off Valentine's Day candy (my favorite kind) as well as a huge assortment of Easter treats.
New to me, there were also some great Asian Meals from Malaysia Kitchen in three varieties: Garlic Sesame, Lemongrass and Shitake Mushroom.

A few of the Duane Reade stores I visited didn't carry the soups, and the one I found them at only had two - I guess the Shitake Mushroom is popular!

My kids have been on a noodle soup kick lately, so I was interested to see what they thought of this brand, which they had never had before.  The soups couldn't be easier to make. All you do is empty the noodles, veggie packet and sauce packet into the enclosed bowl, add water, and heat for a few minutes in the microwave.

My kids liked the garlic sesame a lot, but deemed the lemongrass "too spicy."

I thought they both tasted good, but the garlic sesame would be my pick as well as it has a high-but-still-ok sodium amount of 330 mg, the lemongrass had much more sodium - 880 mg. For both the soups, I put in only about half to three-fourths of the enclosed flavor packet. They still had plenty of flavor, and I was glad to be reducing the sodium.

I was surprised by the high-amount of sodium, as all Malaysia Food noodle soups are all natural, and have no MSG, artificial colors or preservatives. Still, for ease of preparation these would be good to have when you want a quick, warm and tasty meal.

If all this talk of Malaysian food leaves you wanting more - that's perfect! This Thursday and Friday, February 20-21 is the Malaysia Kitchen Winter Market at Bryant Park, with events each day from 11:30am to 7:30pm.

Here's the full line-up (click on the image to see it larger):

You can learn more about the Malaysia Kitchen event here, and about Malaysia Food in general as well as upcoming sampling events at their website: Malaysia Kitchen is also on Facebook and Twitter @MalyasiaKitchen.

To connect with Duane Reade, like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @DuaneReade.

For more photos from my shop, check out my Google+ Album. You can also follow the conversation on Twitter at #DRAsianMeals.

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias®, Duane Reade and Malaysia Kitchen. #DRAsianMeals #CBias.

All opinions are my own.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Great Kids Books for Presidents' Day

Looking for some great Presidential reads to share with your kids for Presidents' Day?

Here are a few picks:

First Mothers
Beverly Gherman (author) and Julie Downing (illustrator) tell the stories of the moms who were responsible for raising the nation's future presidents in their whimsical book, First Mothers (Clarion, 2012).

I love this book: the illustrations are hilarious and the writing is filled with funny anecdotes and weird factoids it's unlikely you would ever know if it were not for this book.

However, it's best to be a little careful with younger or sensitive readers, as a surprising number of these moms died young, or if the moms didn't die young, than the dads died young.

You would not believe how many U.S. presidents were raised by single mothers. All the more reason First Mothers is a fascinating study of amazing-in-their-own-right women, as well as in how they raised the men that they did.

Woodrow: The White House Mouse
This charming book from Cheryl and Peter Barnes will delight kids, because honestly who doesn't want to imagine this great nation being led by an endearing mouse?

Woodrow: The White House Mouse (Little Patriot Press, 2012) teaches kids not only about the famous inhabitants of the White House, but about the home itself - including that it wasn't even known as The White House until 1901.

For more political study, Cheryl and Peter Barnes also tackle the legislative branch in House Mouse Senate Mouse and the judiciary in Marshall, The Courthouse Mouse. All books best for ages 5 to 10.

Do you know any other titles that are good for teaching kids about government and the presidents? Would love some new reads - please share in the comments!

I was not compensated for this post. I did receive the books for review purposes.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!

And if you're looking for a quick-and-easy homemade Valentine, this one is great!

All you need is:
  • construction paper
  • writing utensil - marker, puffy glue, crayon, pencil
  • scissors
Fold the construction paper in half so it's easy to make a symmetrical heart, and cut it out. Then, just draw an eye, and add a "U." I was lucky enough to have googly eyes so I stuck one of those on for the eye, but a hand-drawn one would be just as nice.

I made these with my little guy for him to give to his big sisters tomorrow, and we are also going to leave a pile of red balloons in their rooms to surprise them in the morning. He has promised to get up super-early to make sure we can do this before they wake-up, and I have assured him that I'm not worried, I'm also sure he will. Like you-always-wake-up-at-5am sure.

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Other stuff I wrote last week... Purim, Presidents' Day and an eBook Too!

Valentine's Day is this Thursday, and my kids are busy making epic Valentine's that in no way imply they like their classmates in any way whatsoever, and further, make no claims of being anyone's Valentine, now or forever in the future.

Which all just makes me all the more grateful my three-year-old goes to a Jewish preschool that doesn't have any of this Valentine's Day card nonsense.

But Valentine's Day is not the only holiday on the horizon! I wrote four ideas for Family Fun in NYC for Presidents' Day Weekend on, and a Guide to Purim Fun for

And last but not least, my huge thanks to the b Positive Project and Anna of My Life and Kids for including my ideas for being positive in their new eBook, 50 Ways to B Positive. It's free! Just click here to get a copy.

Lots of voices have joined to share their fun and funny advice, and there's a coupon code in the book for 10% off all purchases at b Positive, an apparel company and more - in fact, that same coupon code helps kids with cancer – for every purchase you make, the b Positive Project will send a b Positive t-shirt to a child with cancer.

So get reading, and b(e) inspired!

Have a great week everyone! Next up: can't wait to share all the cool stuff I saw at the Toy Fair!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Perfect Valentine's Day Treats for the Classroom - Gluten and Nut Free!

Valentine's Day is next week, which means I'm not thinking about what wonderful thing my beloved will be getting me, no I'm thinking about what I'm going to make for the class party at my kid's school.
Luckily, right as I was trying to figure out what I could bring, an email appeared from Kings Food Markets with two great options for the classroom, Gluten and Nut Free Rice Crispy Treats and Gluten and Nut Free Lemon Ginger Crisp.  Substitute dairy-free margarine for the butter, and the lactose-intolerant kids can enjoy as well.
Thanks to Kings Food Markets for allowing me to reprint these yummy Valentine's Day recipes!
Gluten and Nut Free Rice Crispy Treats
Makes 12 two inch squares
1 10 oz box of Gluten-Free Brown Rice Crisp Cereal (Use the entire box.)
8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
1 10 oz package of marshmallows
1 tsp Gluten Free Vanilla Extract
Grease a 13 x 9 inch pan
1.   Melt butter over low heat in a large pan.
2.   Add marshmallows to melted butter and stir over low heat until melted. Remove pan from heat. Stir in vanilla extract.
3.   Stir in rice cereal and gently coat cereal with marshmallow mixture.
4.  Pour rice mixture into prepared pan. With buttered fingers press the mixture flat.
5.   When cool and set, cut into 12 squares.
Gluten and Nut Free Lemon Ginger Crisp
Makes 20 large cookies
12 tbls unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated cane sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp lemon extract
2 cups gluten-free all purpose flour mix with xanthan gum
1/2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
grated zest of 1 lemon
2 oz minced crystallized ginger
Preheat oven to 375°
1.Combine softened butter and sugar in a mixing bowl. Cream with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg and lemon extract. Beat until combined.
2. In a separate bowl, combine gluten-free all purpose flour, gluten-free baking powder, ground ginger, salt and grated lemon zest. Whisk to thoroughly combine.
3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Beat on slow and use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl. When the mixture is combined, gradually add the minced ginger to the cookie dough and blend until combined.
4.Make 2 tablespoon balls out of dough for giant cookies. Place no more than 6 on large ungreased cookie sheets. If they are placed too close together they will bake together! If you prefer smaller cookies make 1 tablespoon balls out of dough and place no more than 6 on large cookie sheet.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until the cookies are set and the edges are golden brown. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for at least five minutes before removing with a large spatula to a cooling rack.
Do you have other favorite Valentine's Day ideas for classroom parties? Last year I made heart-shaped strawberries, but this year I'll try one of these new recipes from Kings!
I was not compensated for this post.
For lots more, visit Valentine's Day Ideas on Pinterest.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Instructions for my husband: you can't just quit the mail.

See this? This is your mail. The mail I carefully, methodically leave for you every day in your neat brown mail bin so that nothing goes missing or lost within our home post office.

There's one small thing though: the system only works if you take a teensy little glimpse through your mail once in a while.

I know there is important stuff in there, that's why sometimes in addition to my sorting duties I tell you things like "there's a letter marked post-due," or "I saw some official-ly looking stationery. You should open that one, maybe."

It's sorta funny and cute when I ask you to go through the mail and you scoff, "Nah, I'm done with mail." But the thing is you can't be done with mail - or at least, you can't be done with it yet.

Maybe one day mail will go the way of dial-up modems and cassette tapes, but until then you have mail, good, old-fashioned mail, and you need to take care of it.

And don't ask me to just read/pay/reply to said pieces of mail, I already do - to the pieces addressed to me, stored prettily in my pink mail bin. All that mail pictured here? Is yours, all yours.

Look at it this way, the mail service just axed Saturday delivery, just five more days to go and your mail-free lifestyle is reality.

This is the twenty-eighth instruction in my ongoing series of Instructions for My Husband. Have an instruction for your other half? Email me at and be a guest instructor.

More fun on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest - let's connect!

And for all instructions, all the time visit the Instructions for my Husband Facebook page.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

It's finding the funny time!

Welcome to February's Finding the Funny!
Meet the Hosts:
Kelley @ Kelley's Break Room  
Kerry @ HouseTalkN    
 Keesha @ Mom's New Stage
Toulouse @ Toulouse and Tonic
... and me (of course!) 
Did you get your free eBook yet?
b Positive b Inspired b Funny Free eBook @My Life and KidsWe partnered up with the b Positive Project to bring you an inspiring - and funny - free eBook. Get your free copy here. I managed to work in the phrase jazz hands, which of course is a way to be positive right there, because it's pretty much impossible to be sad or angry while making jazz hands.  The Rules: Link up an old or new funny post. Link up as many times as you want (we're serious). The party is open until Saturday 2/9 at midnight. The earlier you link up, the more clicks you'll get. Click around and meet the other funny bloggers that are linking up. Follow the Finding the Funny Pinterest board. We'll all be pinning our favorites throughout the month. We don't ask you to link back to us or include a button on your blog, but we do ask you to send out a tweet or post about the party on your Facebook page. Be sure to use #findingthefunny.
Most Clicked Links from Last Month:
#1 - As (never) Seen on Pinterest Hollow Tree Ventures
#2 - Kids Are the Best. And Worst. Funny is Family
#3 - I'm Jealous of My Daughter The Mom of the Year
#4 - 50 Things to Teach My Daughter Cloudy, With a Chance of Wine
#5 - Vibrators and Debit Cards My Half Assed Life

Get linking and get reading, and as always thank you for joining the Finding the Funny fun!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Instagram Monday Afternoon

I'm still in the throes of my newly found addiction to Instagram.

The kids, and frozen yogurt, documented this lazy afternoon. Upper right, that's brain freeze.

Would love to follow you on Instagram, leave your username in the comments!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Other stuff I wrote last week... and I'm (finally) on Instagram!

Last week I wrote a little of this and a little of that, most of it Jersey-centric.

For those of you in scenic New Jersey, I've got a review on Barista Kids of a new bakery in Maplewood, Gigi's Cupcakes. If you're at all in the area, it's definitely worth a visit.

On New Jersey Family I've got a huge list of indoor water parks and pools, most within an hour's drive of New York City.

I also covered the One Million Moms for Gun Control's rally in Jersey City. If you are interested in learning more about joining the New Jersey chapter of the One Million Moms for Gun Control, visit their Facebook page. They are doing incredible things to make sure legislators enact responsible gun control legislation, and every voice added to the cause helps.
And if you're looking for Valentine's Day ideas, I've found lots of fun stuff to do with and for the kids at Six Ways to Share the Love with Your Family on Valentine's Day.

I have also become a late adapter of Instagram, and I can't believe it's taken so long to discover what it sure to be both the best and worst thing to happen to me in terms of using my time wisely in 2013. Would love to connect there - you can find me at RandomHandprints.

As for the week ahead? I'm getting ready for Toy Fair on Sunday, one of my favorite events I get to attend under the dubious title "member of the press."

Have a great week everyone! And who are must-follows on Instagram?

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Real Groundhogs of New Jersey

With Groundhog Day tomorrow, I'm getting nostalgic for when we had our own groundhog family as summer guests last summer. We still miss them. Sorta-not-really-at-all.

Here's my story of The Real Groundhogs of New Jersey:

We have a groundhog mom and her two groundhog babies making themselves at home on our porch and in our backyard - and they're not the sharing kind.

I'm totally OK with it because:

1. Animal Control assured me the groundhogs would leave on their own within three to four weeks - and I totally wasn't planning on using my porch, or backyard, for the month of June so it's fine. Really.

Our deck/groundhog haven
2. Animal Control made me feel like a horrible person for even considering that the groundhog mom and her clawing hissing ways to be a nuisance to me by explaining, "Give her space. She's just a mom trying to do her job. She's protecting her babies!"

Mama Groundhog patrolling my porch and back yard
Yes, Animal Control played the Mom Card on me. And I gotta admit... well played, Animal Control. Well played. Fine, fine have it your way. I will give Mama Groundhog her space.

3. The baby groundhogs have attracted all the local hawks in the area. So while my kids cannot play outside, they can watch Animal Kingdom Live! through the windows every day.

Baby groundhog, admittedly adorable.

4. Groundhog mania inspired my daughter Kay, age 6, to make this delightful dinner:

Now just try and tell me you don't want to come over for dinner at our house. All the delicious Groundhog Meatloaf you can eat, and a free hawk vs. baby groundhog show! Summer doesn't get any better!

{Keep Reading}

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...