There really aren't too many “all-American” foods that my vegetarian family enjoys; you won’t see us sinking our teeth into hamburgers and fried chicken at barbecues. Even French fries are kind of take it or leave it (I know, crazy, right?) But if there’s one American staple that we would never, ever turn down, it’s PIE! The buttery crust, the tart and sweet filling and of course, a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream on the side. As luck would have it, New Jersey is a great place to find delicious versions of our favorite fall pies, with its bountiful farms and one-of-a-kind diners in almost every town. Any way you slice it (pun intended), New Jersey families have some awesome pumpkin and apple pies to choose from.
Here comes Fall! As much as I love summer, I find myself looking forward to this season's arrival more and more every year. The cooler weather, crunching of leaves underfoot and pumpkin-flavored everything are all highlights of the season. And let’s not forget Halloween! New Jersey has many wonderful fairs and festivals for your family to enjoy this autumn—grab the kids (and a jacket) and check out these great fall events coming to a town near you.
Back to school means a return to classes, tests, homework and book reports. Stresses can mount when our kids struggle with the curriculum. With districts across the state adopting the common core, students are learning new concepts in math and language arts that parents aren't familiar with. If you are concerned about your kids falling behind academically, or just want to give them a leg up on the new school year, you are in luck. New Jersey is home to a bunch of great after school academic programs. Check out some of our top picks below. For some great tutoring options, check out our post on New Jersey Tutoring Centers.
Apple picking in New Jersey is a tradition that my newly transplanted family was excited to experience (South Florida is not exactly known for its fall fruit orchards). I could hardly wait to hop aboard a hay ride with our kiddos and spend the day picking juicy ripe organic apples. But after doing a little research, I was surprised to learn that the climate in New Jersey is not really conducive to large scale organic apple farming--it’s just too expensive and yields too little fruit--so almost all of our organic grocery store varieties hail from Washington State. But that doesn’t mean New Jersey farmers aren’t doing their best to reduce the use of pesticides. Check out these apple farms below, where New Jersey kids and their parents can experience a fun fall day while bringing home local, carefully farmed fruit.
So we're back in school. We're packing lunches, going to PTA meetings. and overseeing homework. And we're probably starting to wrap our minds around figuring out some enrichment classes to fill in the gaps and/or add some sparkle to the process. Open houses and free trial classes make the hunt for great classes a little more do-able, which is why we offer this list of 10 great places that offer chances to try it out for free, either in the coming weeks or - in many cases - all year long. And for more enrichment options, check out our Enrichment Programs, Classes and Activities Guide.
The start of September can feel like a whirlwind of school, classes and adjusting to new schedules, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun. The weather is still warm, so why not take a break and see what Jersey has in store for this weekend? The month is full of great festivals so check out the Asbury Park Oysterfest down the shore, stuff yourself silly with moussaka at St. Demetrios Greek Festival or learn about butterflies at Pyramid Mountain’s Monarch Festival. You can also get muddy with a Pond Study class at Liberty State Park, take your pooch to the canine friendly end-of-season event at Morey’s Pier Water Park or celebrate the High Holidays early with the family as you taste apples and hear the Shofar at Liberty Science Center. And remember, you can check out the full list of weekend activities in our Event Calendar.
With all the press about the mom who got arrested for leaving her nine-year-old child unattended in a park, and the resulting outrage, it’s raised the question across the country: What's an appropriate amount of freedom for kids, and what is not? Growing up in NYC in the '70s, my friends and I played outside and roamed around independently from an early age even though the city, in general, was not as safe as it is now. We learned street smarts and independence that, undoubtedly, spilled over into other areas of our lives.
For many reasons, parenting seems different today. There's a lot more pressure to constantly supervise children, even older kids. It can be hard to imagine that our "babies" will ever be ready to go out into the wide world alone. But with the start of a new school year, the reality is that many children will begin traveling on their own or with a group of friends. With my kids—a teenager who is fully independent and a tween who is just learning to navigate the city on his own—I've modified the '70s-style figure-it-out-on-your-own approach to include today's more stringent safety consciousness to develop a training course my kids must complete before being allowed out on their own.
Here's how I taught my own kids to be street smart city kids from an early age:
It can be difficult to explain the events of September 11, 2001 to our children; they're still hard for us to fully grasp. As we near the 13th anniversary of the day that changed our country forever, here are some helpful ways to commemorate with your family. Visit a memorial site or exhibit, volunteer together, read a book to younger kids to help them understand or even visit the new 9/11 Memorial in downtown NYC. There are many ways to mark the day together.
Welcome to Mommy Poppins New Jersey! The free online resource for parents and kids where you’ll get the scoop on what’s fun, unique, outdoorsy, indoorsy, artsy, bouncy, sassy and splashy in the Garden State. Come play with us, won’t you?