Not In Jersey: December 2017 December 2017 - Not In Jersey

10 Favorite Pictures of 2017

Monday, December 11, 2017


This month’s topic for 10 on the 10th with Perfectly Port is 10 Favorite Pictures of 2017. I always say that I can’t narrow down my photos, but when I thought back on my favorite photos that I took this year, I could think of 6 favorites off the top of my head! They are the pictures that I always come back to when ordering prints, the ones that you see on the top of my blog posts and on my Instagram, etc. And bonus: it’s kind of a look back at the year in photos.


The photo of Gabbie that we used on her Bat Mitzvah invitations. Well, it’s one of them.


Silly Simon with his siblings.


Gabbie and her friends taking selfies.


Best friends.


Random scene in NYC.


This photo has already been stolen borrowed many times by people in the Scandal fandom. But I was there and I took it!


That perfect photo of all three kids.


One of the first photos I took in Cuba, I love the rain and the guy with the umbrella!


One of the many, many photos I took of Gabbie for our dance photo shoot!


Gabbie on the beach in San Diego.

Do you like my photos as much as I do?


10 on the 10th

Hooray, It’s Friday! Pinewood Derby, Conditioner, and Menorahs

Friday, December 8, 2017


Time for some random Friday rambles!


Last Sunday was Pinewood Derby. We are not fast car experts but the boys seem to have fun every year. And our cars weren’t the slowest! Zachary finished in 2nd for his den – out of 3 kids.

Simon’s car was a taxi.

Zachary’s was a pink e-racer (eraser).



I was recently offered the opportunity to try out a product from Maple Holistics, a company that specializes in all-natural and cruelty-free personal care products. I chose to try Tea Tree Oil Conditioner, which conditions and softens hair and includes keratin, silk protein, amino acids, Vitamin B5, and more, helps you achieve a clear, healthy scalp and silky, easy-to-handle hair. Its benefits include improving dry, curly, thinning, frizzy, brittle, static, and wavy hair – and more! My hair definitely felt more moisturized after using this conditioner. It gives your scalp a tingling feeling and a cooling effect, which is interesting. The bottle is so strong that it was hard to squeeze out! Maple Holistics offers a FREE PRODUCT SAMPLE page! Request the one you want to try!



There is a menorah display at the JCC right now and when I was there, I took a few pictures. I have a collection of menorahs myself! I missed taking photos of the unique, modern, decorative ones, besides this one:


I did get pictures of some of the classic ones:



A Keurig had been on my wish list forever and I finally got one!



In case you missed it, this week I posted about:

games  johnsoncountymuseumtweenstoddlers
And a guest post – The Ultimate Winter Car Survival Kit.

Have a great weekend!


Linking Up With:
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The Ultimate Winter Car Survival Kit

Thursday, December 7, 2017

You don’t need a fortune teller or The Old Farmer’s Almanac to tell you how to get ready for winter travel in your vehicle; we’ve got you covered. For the most part, our Department of Transportation (DOT) does a great job of clearing the roads of snow and laying down gravel or sand to help on icy spots. But, the truth is most of us take winter time driving for granted.

Many of us travel across several states during the holidays to reach family and friends. However, how many of you actually think about the dangers of winter time driving? Blinding winter squalls have actually accounted for nearly 4,000 deaths in the past five years, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Yes, winter can bring a beautiful snow-covered landscape, but it also packs a deadly punch for those who aren’t prepared to take it serious. Winter time car accidents can be especially unforgiving, because all too often black ice lurks just below the thin layer of white snow. And, many times families end up losing a loved one, or their loved one receives a serious injury that is disabling or disfiguring.

A lot of times, if people just gave Old Man Winter the respect he needs, it could mean the difference between a car accident and getting to your final destination safely. Neil Hillyard, a Denver attorney, has seen 40 years of Colorado winters, so he can personally attest: “No one is ever fully ready for a winter time car accident, but we can all take certain precautions.”

Let’s bring this blog back to a happy place, by taking back our responsibility for safe winter time travel. So, let’s build “The Ultimate Winter Car Survival Kit” for our vehicles to give us peace of mind, and, who knows, it may even come in handy someday. The best place to store the following items are in your trunk in a clear plastic container, so you can see your items. There’s kits out there you can buy, but let’s face it everyone has a budget. Plus, by building your own, you can customize it to suit you and your family.

Set of car maintenance

No. 1
Flashlight(s) with plenty of back-up batteries.

No. 2
Jumper cables.

No. 3
Flares and reflective tape, cone, or triangle. This will help emergency services find you better.

No. 4
Whistle. Not only do whistles help scare off potential offenders, but they are great for helping emergency services locate you, especially when visibility is an issue.

No. 5
First Aid Kit – including Band-Aids, antiseptic wipes, adhesive tape, gauze pads, etc.). For a more complete list of first aid supplies, check out the American Red Cross’ definitive list.

No. 6
Pack a “Preparedness Picnic.” We’re very serious, even though this sounds like an oxymoron or a spoof. Be sure you have enough food for a few meals for yourself and a few others; depending on your family size. Make sure food is non-perishable containers, vacuum packages, and tins. For instance, tuna fish, beef sticks, and sardines would be great sources of protein. Use your imagination, because you can make it as tasty as you like, too. Other food item ideas include string cheese, beef jerky, sunflower seeds, candy bars. Be sure you also have plenty of water.

No. 7
Multi-tool for small repairs and tasks. A Leatherman tool or Swiss Army knife would work fine.

No. 8
Snow gear. Ice scrapper, snow shovel, winter-grade windshield fluid, non-clumpy kitty litter (for better traction), and extra car fuses. Don’t forget to have a cell phone charge in your vehicle, too.

No. 9
Maps. Especially if you are going to be traveling through sparsely populated areas. This is only to give you an indication of where you might be with regard to the next town. But, you should never leave your car to find help. Your best chance at surviving a winter night, if you should get stranded, is to stay in your car and try to stay warm.

No. 10
Miscellaneous gear. A class B or C fire extinguisher. A tire gauge to check tire pressure. Extra clothes, gloves, hats, blankets, and pillows. Hand sanitizer or baby wipes. Duct tape. Also, stash some extra quarters, dimes, and nickels for phone calls, soda pops, or snacks.

See, we told you it would be fun to gather these items. Chances are you’ll end up snacking on some of your kit, but that just shows how well you’ve selected the components. Just make sure you replace any used items with replacements!

Thank you to Dawn Balite for writing this informative article!


Johnson County Museum

Wednesday, December 6, 2017


We used to go to the Johnson County Museum when the kids were younger, as it was free and had a great kids’ play area. It was a bit far though, so we didn’t go as much as the kids would have liked. Recently, the museum moved to only 5 minutes from us. It is no longer free and the kids are a little old for the kids’ play area, but when they had a free entry day, we decided to check it out.

First, we checked out the history of Johnson County section. There was a video that showed how certain redeveloped areas used to look, which we all found interesting. The White Haven Motor Lodge used to be in an area which is now becoming an apartment complex. The sign from the motel is in the museum now.

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How Tweens Are Like Toddlers

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


Was it me who said that things are easier now that my kids are older? I think I said that and I think I was right, but it might not be entirely true. For the past few weeks I’ve been realizing more and more that the tween years resemble the toddler years so much that I feel like I’ve been thrown back in time! I have a ten-year-old and a twelve-year-old and some days I feel like I still have a two-year-old and a four-year-old. (Note to said tweens: If you are going to be offended by my comparing you to toddlers, please stop reading now!)


Sleeping / Going to Bed

The number one way that tweens in my house are like toddlers is at bed time. Zachary whines and throws himself on me for lots of hugs when it’s time for bed (unless he is extra tired, then he doesn’t complain). Gabbie was always my hardest to get to sleep. She used to repeatedly come out of her room with various complaints or things she forgot to tell me…and she’s doing that again! We used to have a reward chart and she would lose points when she came out of her room. I feel like we need to do that now too!


Tweens have growth spurts just like toddlers. Zachary needs all new clothes and Gabbie is almost grown out of kids’ sizes!


Toddler tantrums are the worst, especially when you don’t know why they are upset. Anything can set them off. And the same can be said for tweens! The random crying and not knowing why is frustrating for them and for their parents!


Toddlers don’t like to clean up and neither do tweens. Now, the mess isn’t only centralized in the play room, but their rooms are a mess too!

Losing Things

They pick things up and drop them elsewhere and Mommy is expected to know where everything is or cue tantrum. (If I’m being honest, it’s been that way in all the years between toddlers and tweens too!)

Wanting Things

Toddlers see a toy someone else is playing with and decide they want it too. Tweens see the things their friends have and ask why they don’t have those things too.


According to Erik Erikson’s Psychological Stages, between the ages of 18 months and three years old children are developing a sense of independence to do things on their own. And during the tween-teenage years, children separate from their parents, depend more on their peer group as a source of self-esteem, and determine who they are as individuals.

So there you have it. Tweens are just like toddlers. Do you agree?


The Games We Play

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Games We Play

One of the things I really want to do is have a family game night. My kids play games together sometimes and even more so when they have friends over, but we rarely play games as a family. And we own a lot of games. I cleared out some of the babyish games that we will never use again, but I kept some favorites. Many of our games are good for kids in the age range of 5-10, and some are great for even older. We are always looking for new favorites to add to our collection and I thought it would be fun to share the ones we already own, in case there are others interested. I know there are some here that everyone already has, but there are also some that you probably haven’t heard of yet! I have arranged them basically in order from the games that appeal to the youngest kids up to the oldest! Links may be affiliate links.

1. The Little Engine That Could Game


Possibly not available anymore. Ages 4+.
Our box broke so we keep the board and all the pieces in a bag. Simon still enjoys taking out the tracks and setting them up! The play factor is better than the game with its rules, but it is definitely cute.

2. Brown Bear – Panda Bear What Do You See

Age 3+.
A matching game, but better than an ordinary one because of the pictures and the book that it is based on. The current price as linked is definitely too high, so look for this elsewhere!

3. Hi-Ho Cherry-O

Ages 3-6 – Contains a lot of small parts!
Great for counting skills as well as fine motor skills, but beware of tiny cherries everywhere!

4. Chutes and Ladders

Age 3+.
It is so exciting that Amazon has the classic version of this game – it’s the one we have, from when I was little! This game is obviously a classic. I actually used to use it as a teaching device when I worked with kids – I used the pictures as examples of natural punishments – the kid who stood on a counter to reach a cookie jar fell down and got hurt; the kid who returned a lost purse got a reward as a thank you; etc.

5. Candyland

Age 3+
Another classic version is available and we have my childhood version of this one too, although we also had a different version for awhile. This is definitely a great first board game for young kids, as it is easy to play, features wins and losses throughout, and makes you imagine a land of candy!

6. Shopping For Shabbos

Age 3+.
Looking for a Jewish specific game? This one is a classic matching game where kids can pretend to shop for the food they need!

7. Hungry Hippos

Age 4+. Contains small pieces.
We had this game when I was young too, but our version is newer. We keep the balls in a zip lock bag so they hopefully don’t fall out inside the game closet! This game is loud and silly and kids love it!

8. Reading Round Up

Age 4-7.
I got this game for Zachary when he was having trouble with sight words. It is a cute way to help kids develop better reading skills.

9. Zingo 1-2-3

Age 4+
This was a gift that has been played on and off by my kids and their friends. It is a bingo type matching game with one side of the boxes being objects you count and one side being addition problems. This makes it challenging for a range of ages.

10. Tea Party Game

Age 5+.
Gabbie got this for a birthday party when she was younger and it is just so cute! It even comes with a “table cloth!”

11. Marco’s Polos


Age 5+.
A quick color and pattern matching game which Simon loves!

12. Connect 4

Age 6+.
This game can definitely be played by younger kids without the object of getting the colors in a row. They can just drop in the pieces to work on fine motor skills. My kids always ended up spreading the pieces all over the place though!

13. Mancala

Age 6+.
I got our Mancala board from an estate sale. I remember playing a similar game as a kid with rocks! The pretty marbles are a bonus.

14. Twister

Age 6+.
Totally can be played with younger or older ages! Another classic game, but this version has some extra options. Gets you moving!

15. Blink

Age 7+.
Similar to UNO, Zachary and Simon enjoy playing this quick matching card game!

16. Blokus

Age 7+
Simon got Blokus last year for Hanukkah and he loves it. The other kids and myself enjoy it too! It’s easy to understand, but it takes strategy, so it’s fun!

17. Mastermind

Age 8+.
This game gives me a headache but my kids love it! We actually have a kids’ version with larger pieces and Simon has been playing it since he was 6; plus I know younger kids who can play it too. It’s a game that makes you think!

18. Cholent The Game

Age 8+.
Another Jewish game. All the kids who have played this with my kids have really enjoyed it! The goal is to collect the ingredients you need to make cholent (stew) according to the recipe you are assigned.

19. Rummikub

Age 8+
I first played this with my nieces and nephews and it is one of the first games Dave and I owned after we got married. I think it is easier for adults to win by rearranging all the pieces in complicated ways, but kids can definitely play too!

20. Suspend

Age 8+.
After playing this at a friends’ house, the kids got it for Hanukkah. They played it enough to lose a piece, but then Zachary got the game as a birthday present, so we have a full set again! Balancing the pieces takes steady hands and the kids enjoy it!

21. Scrabble

Age 8+.
Great way to help kids learn to spell or to play as an adult for a fun challenge! My mom and I play scrabble on the computer every day! I don’t have this version, but growing up we had one with spaces for each tile so they don’t move around – and it also had a board on a turn table that could rotate towards each player!

22. Monopoly

Age 8+.
My kids have been playing Monopoly for years and I think they like it. I can’t stand it because it takes too long! For this problem, I recommend the Monopoly Deal Card Game!

23. The Game of Life

Age 8+.
Another classic favorite of mine! I received The Game of Life as an engagement present, which I think is such a cute idea. The kids like to play this too but they got in trouble for leaving the pieces all over the basement and they lost the privilege to play it for awhile! They did eventually earn it back though!

24. Yahtzee

Age 8+
I need someone to teach me to play this game! I know it’s supposed to be fun, but I have no idea how to play!

25. The Game of Baloney

Age 8+
Gabbie got this as a gift and she and her friends have enjoyed playing it! You have to guess which “fact” is actually baloney, which is pretty funny!

26. Draw Something

Age 8+.
Who remembers that app where you had to guess what your friend was drawing? This is the board game version of it! A fun game for parties.

27. Code Master

Age 8+.
This is a one person game. Zachary got it for Hanukkah last year. He plays it less than I would like because it seems like a fun one!

28. The Oregon Trail Card Game

Age 8+.
Like the computer game, the cards tell you whether you live or die. For kids learning about the Oregon Trail, I think this is a great supplement!

29. Apples to Apples

Age 12+ (Or get the Junior version for age 9+).
This is a definite family game night game! The Junior version features easier to understand words and less cultural references that kids may not understand. We have both versions!

30. Catch Phrase

Age 12+
Get your team to guess the word on the screen and then pass it on. Awhile back we had a friends’ game night and this was a hit!

While looking up these games, I kept seeing others that we don’t have! Even though our collection is large, we are obviously missing some important ones – so tell me which ones you think we need!