Archive for March, 2010

If your children love animals and nature, Day and Night in the Forest by Susan and Peter Barrett is a unique and educational book the whole family will love. It shows the readers the difference between animal and plant life during the day and nighttime hours, with extremely detailed illustrations.

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My husband and his friend took an overnight kayaking trip around the 10,000 Islands area on the Gulf Coast of Mexico, part of  Everglades National Park. Here he is to tell you a bit about the adventure . . .

Everglades National Park is possibly the most misunderstood park in the country. Most people think it’s just a swamp; full of snakes and alligators. . .  a “river of grass”. But it’s a lot more. It’s also huge bodies of water. Islands. Birds. Saltwater. Fresh water. Land. Sand. Mangroves. Deer. Orchids. Sharks. Crocodiles. Mystery. History.

In a few paddle strokes, you leave civilization behind and enter a world where nature is on full display. As Mike and I paddled along, we heard birds screeching at each other. From around an island, an osprey flew straight toward us, frantically clutching a fish for lunch. Right behind him, a majestic bald eagle chased the osprey, causing him to drop his fish in the water. The eagle swooped down and grabbed the fish from the water and flew off. Then the osprey turned and pursued the eagle. Some type of game of survival tag.

At night, as we camped on a beach in the Gulf of Mexico (Picnic Key), all we could hear were crickets chirping, waves lapping, birds calling and the breeze whistling. The stars wheeled overhead and the almost full moon rose in the sky. The campfire, dutifully placed below the high tide line, crackled and sparked. As we sat there in silence, drinking cans of Coke Zero, we noticed a boat speed into an inlet next to the island. Shortly after, we were greeted by a flashlight wielding, gun packing Park Ranger. “Do you have your permit?” yes, of course, it’s right there on the tent. “That’s an awfully big tent, are you sure there’s only 2 of you? It says here there’s supposed to be two of you”. yes, there’s only two of us, we’re close friends, but not THAT close. we need our space. “I see you put your campfire below the high tide line… that’s good. I had to yell at some other people tonight and believe me, if they don’t put the fire in the right place tomorrow night, they’re going to get fined.” yes, sir, that only seems fair. “Well, you boys have a good night. You know about the tides and whatnot?” yes, we do. we have the tide schedule and we subtract an hour and a half from these times. “OK, good night. Be safe. Watch out for raccoons.”  OK, so maybe we didn’t leave civilization so far behind after all.

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Look what we did all day? Acrylic paint and a bit of glitter is all it took to paint the blown out eggs. They last for years!

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Have a picnic, use the equestrian trail or put your small boat on the lake, and bask in the sun at beautiful Wolf Lake Park in Davie, FL.

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© 2010 by Debbie Glade, Smart Poodle Publishing. All rights reserved.

Click here to read last week’s comic.

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LA Parent is the best regional parenting magazine! But it’s not just for parents in LA. There are so many fantastic articles and tips in there for parents everywhere. See for yourself by clicking here.

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Fratelli La Bufala

437 Washington Avenue South
South Beach, Miami, FL
phone: (305) 532 0700

http://www.fratellilabufala.com

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If you love really fresh authentic Italian food, (and who doesn’t?) check out this Zagat-rated place in South Beach. Fratelli la Bufala has a number of restaurants in Italy as well as other countries. (FYI-Most of the website is written in Italian.)

You can dine in or out. We chose to eat in because there’s a lot of traffic on Washington Avenue, and we wanted some peace and quiet. The restaurant prides itself on buffalo meat and buffalo mozzarella. The salads are crisp and colorful. I had homemade pasta pomodoro and honestly, I’ve never had such delicious roasted tomatoes as these. My brother enjoyed a simple pizza and my sister-in-law devoured her antipasto. All the cheeses and meats come from farms in Italy, and all the dishes are ultra fresh and healthy.  The service is good too. You’ll really enjoy this place.

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I’ve said many times before that the grocery store is one of the best places to observe people and find inspiration for characters in a story. On Sunday I returned some food to the grocery store – something I almost never do.  I came to find out that there are a number of people who regularly return food. It’s like a cult. You can hear them telling stories about returning this or that even though it has been partially eaten. The truth is that the refund is not worth waiting in that long line with impatient, obnoxious people in front and behind you.

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Picture this. There is a woman with an empty cart in front of me. (there’s really no room for carts at the Customer Service Desk.) She weighs over 300 lbs. and her hips are knocking down the poles that were put into place to mark the waiting line. She has 3 small girls with her (ags-3-5), all of whom are adorable and quite well behaved. The woman is on her cell phone yelling at someone about an insurance claim. While yelling, she is taking notes on a ripped piece of paper, using the palm of one hand as a table top. The three girls start whispering to each other and the woman yells at them to shut up – repeatedly. 12 minutes go by and the woman is still yelling on the phone and still telling the girls to shut up or stop doing whatever they were doing (like humming or playing with their hair.)

It is now the yeller’s turn to return her goods at the counter. There are 18 people in line behind her. She’s not paying any attention to the fact that it is her turn. An old man at the back f the line says, “Get with it or let someone else go in front of you. Can’t you talk on the phone later, Lady?”

I’m thinking, “Amen!”

The woman looks at the old man and says, “You picked a BAD day to talk to me like that, Mister. Yes you did.” But she does not say that one time. She says that approximately 15 times. All the while she’s shaking her head in a “no” manner and waving her pointer finger back and forth, holding up the line. I imagine myself slapping her across the face to get her stop, sort of like moving the needle on a broken record that is repeating itself. I thought she might try punching the old guy, but thankfully she doesn’t. She could do some damage to him no doubt. Oh yes, she’s still on the phone. And yes, she’s still barking at the girls. I’m disgusted with myself, because I find this entire scenario beyond aggravating, yet somewhat fascinating. I consider leaving the store with my rancid food, without returning it. But I choose to stay. It’s rather like looking at a bad car accident. You don’t want to look, but you cannot help yourself.

The yeller finally gives her bag of returns to the clerk, while still on the phone, of course. She says to the person on the other line, ” What in the hell is the matter with you? Can’t you slow down? Do you have somewhere else you need to be? I’m trying to shop here. I cannot shop, talk to you and write at the same time.” (I imagine the look of complete bewilderment on the person on the other end of the phone.) The clerk tells Ms. Yeller that she cannot refund her money because 1) she does not have a receipt and 2) this store does not even carry those items she is returning.

“Jesus Christ,” comes from the old man at the back of the line. Yeller turns around and looks at him with sheer hate, eyes bulging out of her head.

The clerk says , “Next,” and waves me over. The Yeller will not move her cart to let me near the cash register. I ask her three times to move. She moves 2 inches, so I have to hand my food over the cash register and the clerk has to throw the cash back at me. The yeller says, “I’m not leaving until I get a refund.”

The clerk ignores her.

The old man sighs loudly, forcing air loudly out of his blown-up cheeks.

I’m finished returning my food, but the yeller refuses to move her cart and herself to let me by. I pick up one end of her empty cart and move it far away so I can get through.

The yeller gives me an if-looks-could-kill look.

I smile at her and say, “Have a spectacular day!” pat one of her girls on the head and leave the store.

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All take in my own garden.

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I did some research and found some great websites that answer childhood “firsts” questions:

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http://www.clker.com

  1. When should a child have his first eye exam?
  2. How early should I test my baby’s hearing?
  3. When should my baby first sleep through the night?
  4. When should my child be moved from a crib to a bed?
  5. How can I tell when it is time for my baby or child to get a new car seat for her size?
  6. How can I tell if my child is ready for potty training?
  7. When should I start reading to my child?
  8. When should I first take my child to a dentist?
  9. How can I know if my child’s language development is normal?
  10. How will I know when my child is ready to ride a bike without training wheels?

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