Mamatoga Interview: Scott Campbell author & illustrator of Hug Machine

cvr9781442459359_9781442459359_hrI (fortunately) come from a family of huggers. I remember my mother telling me as a child that people need 8 hugs a day, something she once heard Virginia Satir, a respected family therapist say, who believed “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.” Hugging makes us feel good, makes us feel safe, and makes us feel loved. Hugs can instantly boost oxytocin levels, which heal feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger. Bottom line, hugs are important. So I was so excited when I saw that Scott Campbell, author and illustrator of the new children’s book Hug Machine from Simon & Schuster was coming to Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga Springs on Friday, October 3rd at 10:30. His book, about a little boy on a mission to hug, is just so sweet and has such a positive vibe to it. I was lucky enough to do a little Q&A with Scott about his book, read more below and be sure to come by Northshire to see him on Friday (free & open to the public), you will definitely want to add this fantastic book for the littles to your family library. {ps, don’t forget to find Tally Ho! while you’re there}

This is your debut as an author/illustrator.  What inspired you to choose hugging as the focus of your book?

I have always been a real advocate for hugs and hugging.  I am known as a huggy sort of dude from all my friends.  The idea for this book came from a series of doodles I played around with one morning that depicted people going about their daily business with a child attached to them, hugging them.  I thought it would be funny if they just kept doing their things with a kid attached to them. Then it was just exploring how the kid feels about it.  The kid would probably be super proud of his skills and want to share it with the world.  So that’s why he calls himself the Hug Machine.  It is a self-proclaimed name.

If the little boy in Hug Machine had a message to spread with his hugging, what do you think that message would be?

I would say that he has two messages.  One is “Don’t worry about anything.  Hugs will solve your problems.  Or at least make you feel super good.”  But also, he is pretty proud of his hugging skills and would like the people of the world to know it.  He’s saying, “I’ve got you covered when it comes to hugging.  I will make you feel amazing through hugs.  Wherever you roam and whoever you are.  No hug is impossible!”

from Hug Machine, written & illustrated by Scott Campbell

from Hug Machine, written & illustrated by Scott Campbell

I can’t wait to read this one to my two-year-old, who has recently gone on a hugging strike and is resistant to any cuddling or snuggling.  Do you hope this book will help hugging averse kiddos be more willing to hug it out?

I hope so!  I think it is exciting to imagine everyone and everything getting a hug and enjoying it. I mean, if a tree can enjoy a hug, then you can enjoy one!  Just relax and let the hug take you into the chill zone.

Do you think this book has a message for parents as well, maybe for those of us that can sometimes be too busy for the simple spontaneous hug?

Oh, yes.  That is why many of the characters receiving hugs in this book from the Hug Machine are sort of caught mid task.  Someone might be watering a plant or waiting for the bus or eating a sandwich.  There is always time to pause and enjoy a hug.  It makes that task way more enjoyable and sometimes more endurable if it is something not incredibly fun normally.  Like doing one’s taxes.  That might be a good moment for a hug break.  A quick power up.  It doesn’t always need to be a hug to make someone feel better. It’s like a tender power-up!

Hug Machine author and illustrator Scott Campbell

Hug Machine author and illustrator Scott Campbell

Many thanks for the interview Scott! {hugs}

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in my {baby} bag

babybagA new addition to the family means that your bag gets hijacked by baby stuff. I gave up a long time ago on the traditional “diaper bag”, mainly because I could never find one I actually liked, style wise, and instead just find a bag big enough to accommodate all the baby stuff while also being able to stash in a few items for me as well. Right now I am loving my Cinco Powell monogrammed tote, it’s roomy enough for everything but polished enough that I don’t have to sacrifice any style for functionality. Inside you’ll find:

⋅ Target diapers (the best) ⋅ some choo choos to distract my toddler if need be ⋅ sweet little baby shoesthe cutest fall & winter diaper cover evera little lip stain that can double as a bit of a cheek stain in case I leave the house without putting any makeup on (happens often) ⋅ my favorite scent in a portable rollerball, not too overpowering for the little one in the front carrier but just enough scent for me ⋅ the BEST pick me up drink EVER {Tumeric Elixir of Life Vanilla Bean} find it here locallya Wubbanub, always ⋅ front carrier, so I can nurse her on the go, wherever we go ⋅ the softest bamboo swaddle from Aden & Anais, in the sweetest color, picked this one up here locallymonogrammed sunglasses, because they hide the lack of sleep under eye circles ⋅ Desitin, a workhorse product that always gets the job done ⋅ dum dums, because sometimes a little bit of sweet can go a long way for a two year old ⋅ an extra outfit for the baby {love the classic stripes of this one} ⋅ Tory Burch tortoiseshell iPhone cover, because who cares if there are more toddler alphabet apps on my phone than I’d like to admit, at least it looks pretty chic from the outside ⋅

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Mamatoga Switch Witch Giveaway! ***GIVEAWAY CLOSED***

switchOctober is just a couple days away and that means kids will soon be getting Halloween fever (if they don’t have it already)! Last year was the first year that we tried doing the “Switch Witch”, where the kids trade a portion of their candy haul for a small gift or a small prize. It doesn’t have to be a toy, it can be a special activity they have been wanting to do, and it takes the aggravation out of the whole candy aspect of Halloween. Either you can keep some and dole it out as you see fit or you can find another place to bring it/donate it to. The Switch Witch is especially great for kids who have allergies and can’t have the traditional Halloween candy handed out in the neighborhood (click here for some ideas about allergy safe Halloween), or for little kids on their first Halloween outings who might be at risk for choking hazards from small candy or lollipops. Overall, the Switch Witch is great for keeping the sugar in moderation and making healthy choices.

And this year, the Switch Witch is actually HERE to help! The Switch Witch story is a great children’s book that comes packaged with the most adorable little stuffed witch in her very own cauldron, perfect for either a boy or a girl. I chatted with Lara, the author of the book about how the Switch Witch came to be, and at the end of the post make sure to enter the giveaway to win a signed copy of the Switch Witch complete with the Switch Witch herself & cute little cauldron!

What gave you the idea to create the Switch Witch story?

Lara: Rob, founder of The Switch Witch LLC, was frustrated last Halloween when his two sons came home with enormous heaps of trick-or-treating sweets.  His kids and wife told him about the idea of a Switch Witch: a friendly Halloween witch who switches kids’ candy into gifts!  Rob was so intrigued by this amazing idea that by the next morning he had set his mind to bringing the tradition and magic of Switch Witches to families everywhere with a children’s book and doll.  He called Lara, to write the book and be his business partner – and the rest is history!

How did you come up with the design for the doll? It is so cute!

L: Our primary goal for the doll was that it would be soft, cuddly, and friendly – an irresistible, sweet pal that kids would want to play with and even bring to bed with them.  Nashbox, our fabulous art design team, brought to life these ideas for the Switch Witch doll (and illustrations) is such a magical, perfect way.  We love the way they turned out.

What do you hope your Switch Witch doll & book does for families?

We hope that Switch Witch gives families a new Halloween tradition to enjoy together, while also helping them celebrate this holiday in a healthier way.  Switch Witch is perfect for parents who are concerned about dental health and teaching their children about moderation and healthy habits.  It’s also great for kids with food allergies. Also, Switch Witch is just plain ol’ FUN!  We hope Switch Witches bring more magic, playfulness, and memories to kids and parents every Halloween.

switchwitchThe Switch Witch folks were kind enough to send our family a copy to check out for ourselves and the kids absolutely loved it. The story is fun and playful and my 7 year old, 6 year old AND 2 year old loved it. I especially liked the “Switch Log” at the end of the book where the kids can record what costume they wore that year for Halloween and what they got from the Switch Witch, it’s like an extra keepsake for the parents.

We are certainly going to make this little cutie a part of our Halloween tradition, find out more about the Switch Witch here, and to enter to win your signed copy of the Switch Witch simply go like them on facebook here and then comment below! ONE winner will be chosen at random on Friday, October 3rd at 5pm and will be notified via email. Thanks so much to Lara and Rob for the giveaway, we can’t wait for Halloween! xoxo

***GIVEAWAY CLOSED*** Thanks to everyone who entered!


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my weekend in photos

We usually try to keep our weekends family focused, with activities that we can all do, or at least make it a little balanced out between the kids, but this past weekend was heavily Leven focused as she had the Northeast Ballet Nutcracker auditions and a horse show at North Country Horses. She was thrilled to once again get a part as a Gingerbread in this year’s production, and did a fine job with the pony Scooby at the horse show, adding a few more ribbons to her budding collection. Jack and Finn did their best to keep themselves entertained (Jack played farmer while Finn pretended he was a Native American warrior with a bow and arrow) and Talley snoozed in the carrier amidst all the running around. The weekend was topped off by a refreshing dip in the dunk tank at the Henry Street Harvest Festival, all to raise money for the Gateway House of Peace, and I would like to sincerely thank all of you who donated money to get us all into that tank. xoxo


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Cooking with Kids {stuff I love}

photoAs you guys know, cooking with the kids is one of my favorite things to do, and these adorable little accessories will make it that much sweeter. Scroll down for what I am absolutely dying to add to my kitchen right now, along with some of our tried and true family recipes. Want the kids to pick up some cooking skills of their own to try out at home? Click here for the Healthy Living Market and Cafe Learning Center schedule full of great kids classes (fun stuff for adults too)!

bibimbap make it yourself ⋅ rainbow pancakessmoothiesthe family tablespaghetti & eggsapple crumbleeasiest pasta evernutella croissantssweet crepes ⋅ magic quinoa breakfast cookies

kids kids2 kids3

kids4kids5 kids6

whale cupscookie cutterstea towelpopcorn poppercake panpainted spoons

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Do You Have a Parenting “Style”?

styleDuring a recent Bravo binge watching session I happened upon a new reality show on their roster which is all about parents and their parenting “styles” called “Extreme Guide to Parenting”. Each episode features a family with a “unique” parenting style, like the “Everything on Demand Baby” (more or less the classic attachment parenting), “Body Positive” Parenting (I’ll just let you guys see that one for yourselves), and other families like the ones that live out of their car and travel the world, the mom who uses hypnosis on her kids, and more. I have to admit, the show is pretty entertaining, but of course I take it with a grain of salt as it is a reality show and we all know reality shows often have very little to do with actual “reality”.

Nevertheless, it got me thinking about all these different parenting styles, and the people who gear their parenting along the parameters of said style, and started me wondering if I had a parenting style and didn’t even realize it? If not, would adopting a style make things easier in some ways or would it be restrictive? And what if you and your significant other disagreed about which style was best?

I decided that my parenting style is really a mix of all of them, and also varies with each child and each child’s personality. Of course there is a common undercurrent with all of the parenting in our house, but right now I’m more or less an attachment parent with the baby, a permissive parent with the toddler, a somewhat strict parent for the older two, and a positive parent for all of them. I’ve also changed the way I parent as I’ve gotten older. Between when my first child was a baby and now with my fourth, things have come a long way. And of course, parenting changes as kids get older. As much as I’d love to be an attachment parent of my two year old right now, I’m lucky if he sits still long enough to let me give him a quick kiss. And my 6 and 7 year olds need a little bit more structure while also giving them more responsibility and freedom.

So what is your style? Do you adhere to one type of parenting or is yours a hodge podge mix like mine is?




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What’s Wrong with a Little Pink?


Halloween is just around the corner, and after a few close calls at a nearly empty costume shop I am happily on board the planning early train when it comes to this holiday. So the other day I sat the older kids down and asked them what they wanted to be:

2 year old boy: “Choo choo head”. Okay, we can work on that…I think…

7 year old boy: “Star Wars”. Okay, sort of broad, but we can definitely do that.

6 year old girl: “Pink princess”.

At first, I have to admit I tried to talk her out of it. Why all the focus on pink and princesses? Why not be a strong female character like Amelia Earhart? No, she did not want to be Amelia Earhart, and I was slightly relieved as visions of me trying to construct a cardboard wearable plane popped into my head. How about Frida Kahlo? After perusing through some Google images she decided a firm no on the famed Mexican artist (although we both liked all the flower headpieces). I suggested Nancy Drew, since she just started reading my old books my mom had stored away, but she pointed out that costume wouldn’t be very “fun” and I had to agree with her. Princess it was, and she wanted it to be pink. And “fluffy”. And she wanted a tiara and maybe a wand. Oh and high heels, definitely high heels.

Instantly I thought I should steer her away from all the princessy stuff, all the pink stuff, the frou frou stuff. But why? Recently it seems like the knee jerk reaction is to challenge our girls to think outside the pink and challenge the notion that all things girl have to be pink and princessy. There is an underlying idea that the “girly” stuff is somehow less smart and less strong than more gender neutral items. Articles with headlines like “The War on Pink” have popped up, even a petition asking toy stores to desegregate their toy aisles. I’ve seen time and time again parents and kids alike be praised for nonconformity if they have a girl that plays with trucks or one that likes to “get dirty” or roughhouse, as if somehow girls must be either one way or another, either they like the “girly” stuff or they are “tomboys”. The tomboys are viewed as stronger, more powerful, whereas the girls who play with the pink vacuum cleaner and the tiaras are seen as weaker. Parents feel the need to temper their children’s girly sides by saying things like “Well she loves princesses but she also loves playing with the boys”. Why must the “girly” side be viewed in any way as a negative, or one that might hinder her as she grows up? Can’t the girly stuff be just as good as playing with the boys?

Levy is surrounded by the more stereotypical “boy” toys like superhero stuff, trains and trucks, and our garage is filled with pretty much every piece of sports equipment you can think of (I think we even have a cricket bat in there), and she can freely play with anything she chooses. But what message am I sending if I tell her what she chooses is somehow wrong, or worse, not the “smart” or “strong” choice? Is a pink princess fishing pole really that different from a red Iron Man fishing pole? Are we getting a little too hung up on the notion of “girl” toys and “boy” toys and losing sight of what is really important in a childhood?

My seven year old is in love with Star Wars, does that mean that he thinks he’s going to actually be a Clone Trooper when he’s older? Does my two year old think he’s going to be a Choo Choo Head? (Actually I’m not sure about that one since we are still unclear as to what that means exactly, but still…) No, it’s make believe, and he loves creating games with his friends where they pretend. So how is that somehow more appropriate than letting a little girl pretend to be a princess? I doubt my first grade daughter thinks she is going to live in a giant pink castle with a talking chandelier or a friendly crab who helps her along on her journeys, but I feel pressured to steer her past this route, and onto one that has more “empowered” girls, maybe girls who don’t wear as much pink and don’t make any appearances in Fairy Tales.

The fact is though, it’s not that stereotypical “boy” toys are more powerful than “girl” toys, what is powerful is imagination, and giving kids the chance and the confidence to cultivate their own imaginative spaces, to create their own make believe, whether it’s a girl pretending to be Spiderman or a boy who loves My Little Pony (honestly go watch the Brony documentary on Netflix if you haven’t yet, pretty interesting stuff). Me telling my 6 year old that a pink princess somehow isn’t a worthwhile choice only diminishes her and sends the message that her preferences aren’t important and are somehow “wrong”. What is wrong, however, is sending the message to girls who are more pink inclined that their choices aren’t as smart or as forward thinking as the anti-pink chick from down the block.

I’m over the pink/no pink debate, and instead think the focus should be on letting kids be themselves, whichever type of toy they choose to play with and not getting crazy over the idea that they are somehow making these future life defining decisions based on their toy purchases when they are young. One toy aisle might be more pink and one aisle might be less so, but you don’t need to prove your gender one way or another to be able to walk down one to browse or to purchase. I have bought many a Lego box from the “boy” aisle for Levy and Finn has had a lot of fun building the little Lego Friends sets that were purchased from the “girl” aisle. It’s pretty straightforward, actually, if they like stuff from one aisle, get that, if it’s from the other one, get that. Don’t like the commercials that target kids one way or another? Don’t have kids watch them, it works great for us.

Finally, don’t condemn the pink princessy stuff as being silly or frivolous, because it could be a rich part of a little girl’s imagination, a special part of her childhood. Chances are, it’s not the only part of a child’s imagination either, or the only part of their play. Encouraging them and empowering them to make their own choices, to let their imaginations run free through any toy aisle or as any character they like will help build strong people, boys or girls. It will also help them to be more open minded people in the long run too, and to be more respectful of each other’s choices, be it the little boy who likes to play with dolls or the girl who has a Green Lantern lunchbox.

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Find Tally Ho! at Northshire Bookstore & Win!

tallyhoMamatoga and Northshire Bookstore are teaming up to add even more fun to your visit to the Children’s Floor of their store at 424 Broadway in Saratoga Springs with some great scavenger hunt fun!

In honor of Baby Talley‘s arrival, a teensy glass fox named Tally Ho! (pictured above) has hidden himself in the Northshire Bookstore Train Town (located on the Children’s Floor). He has some horses and hounds hot on his little fox tail, so he’ll be moving around Train Town quite a bit, but if your child comes to the children’s checkout desk and says “Tally-Ho!” and can correctly name where he’s hiding, he or she will get some nice loot! While you’re there check out some of these best sellers this week!

91h7wNd9PSL1. The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Read the first book in the New York Times bestselling Maze Runner series, perfect for fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent.





tumblr_static_81tcvl27fwg0kccookwoowswo2. If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Seventeen ­year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Heart-wrenchingly beautiful, this will change the way you look at life, love, and family.




97805443406883. The Giver by Lois Lowry

Lowry’s Newbery Medal-winning classic is now adapted as a major motion picture by The Weinstein Company.






97805254788124. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet. Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault In Our Stars brilliantly explores the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.





97805456851605. Minecraft: Combat Handbook: An Official Mojang Book by Stephanie Milton

This official handbook will teach Minecraft players everything they need to know to defend themselves from hostile monsters and enemy players. It includes tips on how to build a fort, craft armor and weapons, set mob traps, defeat enemies in one-on-one combat, and more.




Bestsellers in Children’s Illustrated:
97806940036171. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd

In this classic of modern children’s literature, beloved by generations of readers and listeners, the quiet poetry of the words and the gentle, lulling illustrations combine to make a perfect book for the end of the day.



812u6SS6wpL2. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

Kids will be imagining their own humorous conversations with crayons and coloring a blue streak after sharing laughs with Drew Daywalt and New York Times bestseller Oliver Jeffers.




97803991639683. Otis and the Scarecrow by Loren Long

A deeply resonant book about subtle acts of compassion and standing up for others, featuring everyone’s favorite tractor, Otis.





97807364305174. Frozen Little Golden Book by Victoria Saxon, illustrated by Grace Lee

When a prophecy traps a kingdom in eternal winter, Anna, a young dreamer, must team up with Kristoff, a daring mountain man, and his reindeer on the grandest of journeys to find Anna’s sister, the Snow Queen Elsa, and put an end to her icy spell.




97803853755595. Uni the Unicorn by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Brigette Barrager

In this clever twist on the age-old belief that there’s no such thing as unicorns, Uni the unicorn is told there’s no such thing as little girls! This refreshing and sweet story of friendship reminds believers and nonbelievers alike that sometimes wishes really can come true.




And our family’s current favorite can also be found on the Children’s Floor at Northshire Bookstore…

dragonslovetacosDragons love tacos. They love chicken tacos, beef tacos, great big tacos, and teeny tiny tacos. So if you want to lure a bunch of dragons to your party, you should definitely serve tacos. Buckets and buckets of tacos. Unfortunately, where there are tacos, there is also salsa. And if a dragon accidentally eats spicy salsa . . . oh, boy. You’re in red-hot trouble.

The award-winning team behind Those Darn Squirrels! has created an unforgettable, laugh-until-salsa-comes-out-of-your-nose tale of new friends and the perfect snack.

Store Hours are as follows: Sunday – Wednesday 10 am – 9 pm/Thursday – Saturday 10 am – 10 pm

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The Mamatoga Calendar {october}


1 Children in grades K-5 are welcome to participate in the Lego Club today from 6:30-8pm at the Saratoga Springs Public Library. Parents and caregivers are also welcome to attend as kids use their imaginations to create buildings, creatures, and other objects. Lego Club will meet the first and third Wednesday of each month.

2 Start thinking costumes, do you make them yourselves or head to the store?

3 Just Say No to this when it comes to costumes this year…

4 Come support The Wesley Community at the 1st Annual Balloon Walk on Saturday, October 4, 2014 at 9:30 a.m. at The Wesley Community campus in Saratoga Springs. Participants will walk a 1-mile or a .25 mile course, collecting colorful balloons along the route to create a parade of color.  In addition, a hot-air balloon will be on The Wesley Community campus near the Community Garden area (weather permitting).  All registered participants will receive a 1st Annual Balloon Walk t-shirt.  Fun family activities and food will also be available for registered participants.  Registration is $20 for adults, $15 for children, and is available online at 

5 Discover the best local evening family Halloween Hayrides! Ellms Family Farm offers a fun experience for all ages, with Halloween hayrides throughout the month of October on Friday and Saturday evenings. Their hayride is designed for all ages – especially for those up to age 9 (not haunted!). The leisurely hayride will go past Halloween scenes in the woods with a midway stop for some cider and a fresh apple cider donut. This provides a wonderful outdoor family activity for all! Halloween Hayrides:  Fri./Sat. evenings Oct. 4 – Oct. 26. Click here for more info.

6 Want to make a costume for your toddler this year? There are TONS of adorable ideas here.

7 The Saratoga Wilton Soccer Club is pleased to offer their popular (and FREE!) soccer clinics again this fall on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30-7pm and Saturdays at 11am-12:30pm through October 30 at Gavin Park, Wilton (on the back soccer fields). The clinics are designed for players looking for advanced-skills training beyond what is provided by recreational soccer. For more information, please email

8 Boot socks, the coziest fall accesory

9 Mummy hot dogs, so cute…

10 Do this: BOO Your Neighbors! {love this!}

11 From Scratch Club is having a Food Swap at Healthy Living Market and Cafe today from 4-6pm. This food swap group, FSC Swappers, is a place where home cooks, gardeners, foragers, food preservationists, DIY enthusiasts and bakers come to swap their homemade food & drink products and garden bounty. Participants come from all over the Capital Region, Hudson Valley and North County to sample items, get inspired, make new friends and of course, swap loot! This Food Swap is FREE; pre-registration is required. Register and find out more information here.

12 The Saratoga Rugby Incorporated Annual 5K Race “Run 4 a Reason” 5k Run and Walk will be held at the Saratoga Spa State Park on Sunday, October 12th, and the race will start at 10 am. This event will raise money for To Life, a local non‐profit that provides free breast cancer education and support services in a 10‐ county region, as well as for SRI’s Youth Scholarship Fund and SRI Member Clubs. This year they will also be adding a 1⁄4‐mile and a 1‐mile “Fun Run” for kids. Awards will be given for top qualifiers of the 5k and all kids Fun Run participants will receive a ribbon. Click here for more info. Please bring a canned good on race day for the Franklin Community Center.

13 Columbus Day

Nature Scavenger Hunt and Leaf Mobiles is today from 11am – 12:30pm with the Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park and they will be partnering with the Saratoga Springs Public Library for this fun program! The program includes a walk from the Library to Congress Park for a nature scavenger hunt.  With the items found, kids will return to the library to assemble a nature mobile.  Preregistration is required through the library. Please contact Laura Clark at (518) 584-7860, opt. 3.

The Pinewood Derby is today from 10:30 am – 3:30 pm at The Children’s Museum at Saratoga, $15 non – members, $13 for members. Pre – registration is required, 30 maximum/class. Ages 6+. They will be offering design classes followed by a race. Each child will get a car, a design class, and winners will claim a trophy! Runners up will get goody bags! Is your child under 6? Don’t worry, they will have fun car activities for them included in regular Museum admission!

14 Tuesday for Tots is at The Children’s Museum at Saratoga on October 7, 14, 21, and 28, 10 am – 12 pm, or 1 pm – 3 pm. Free with Museum admission, this is a special time for the littlest visitors. Join anytime between 10am – 12pm, or 1pm – 3pm. for play dough, crafts, games and friends! Please remember that kids will use paint, glue, scissors and other art materials that can be messy and require supervision!

15 How cute is this Halloween Hot Cocoa? Love it!

16 Epic Halloween Costume Fails!

17 Here are some easy tips on how to have an Allergy Safe Halloween this year.

18 MVP Health Care presents The Great Pumpkin Challenge at Saratoga Spa State Park today. This event features a 5K (walk or run) and a 10K (run) through the beautiful and historic Saratoga Spa State Park. The day also includes a Fun Run for kids 12 and under. Please note there is no day of registration, click here for more info.

Also on the 18th is the Waldorf School of Saratoga Springs Autumn Festival and Open House from 11am-3pm featuring sheep shearing, black smithing, cider pressing, butter making, face painting, pumpkin carving, storytelling and puppet shows, live music and more, click here for more info.

19 Head to the Home Made Theater at the Spa Little Theater for a performance of The Addams Family! The weird, wonderful Addams family comes to life in this bright, comically macabre new musical. Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday, Pugsley, Fester and the whole gang are brought to “life” thanks to the authors of Jersey Boys. Morticia and Gomez want to continue living amongst death, pain and suffering, but there’s a change in plans when Wednesday falls in love with Lucas, a boy from a “normal” family. Many strange things happen on the night Lucas and his family come to visit. Frightful fun for all ages! Performance Dates & Times: October 10, 11, 17, 18, 24 & 25 – 8pm and October 19 & 26 – 2pm.

20 Forget the berry and wine colors for fall nails, this is the one I really love…

21 Need some ideas for a healthy Halloween? Click right here!

22 27 Incredibly Easy Ways To Upgrade Any Halloween Party

23 October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and 100% of net proceeds from the sale of this fab little elephant bracelet through October benefit the Noreen Fraser Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds for women’s cancer research and creating awareness of the importance of early detection.

24 Double double, toil and trouble! It’s time to bust out your broom sticks and magic wands! The annual Witch Walk is making its way to the streets of Ballston Spa for its spookiest year yet! Cost is $25 Per Person Donation. Register for the Ballston Spa Witch Walk today! Call or email Carol Lang 518-884-9352 or  by October 24, 2014 to reserve your spot.

25 The 2014 Saratoga DBA Fall Festival in Saratoga Springs is today from 10am to 5pm in downtown Saratoga Springs. Bring the whole family to celebrate the fall season in beautiful downtown Saratoga Springs with fun and games. Young and old alike will find themselves rediscovering all there is to love about the fall season at this fun-filled FREE event. Plus, with all of the fun activities planned, this is one event you and your family will not want to miss! Fall Festival activities include Face painting, the Children’s costume parade, Pumpkin races, Trick or treating, pony rides, bouncy house, cupcake decorating and more! For further information, contact the Saratoga Springs Downtown Business Association at (518) 587-8635.

26 OMG these are so goooooood

27 Halloween Nature Craft at Camp Saratoga with Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park is today at 4pm. Are bats and owls really that spooky? Join them to learn about “spooky” animals and create some nature-inspired Halloween decorations to hang up around your home! Come show us your creative side at the pavilion by Delegan Pond. Preregistration is suggested.

28 Pumpkin pie smoothies. Enough said.

29 Check out these simple tips for having a safe Halloween.

30 We love to watch this every year, such a classic…

31 HALLOWEEN! Have a safe and happy day everyone! Need to put a dent in all that candy? Try out the Switch Witch!


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Guest Post: The Day We Got Head Lice

liceLast year a good friend of mine experienced the nightmare with the ick factor of 100 that is head lice. I asked her to share her story here on Mamatoga because any of our kids could be exposed, and it helps to be prepared!

It started out a day like any other. My two daughters, ages seven and nine got up for school. We rushed around, getting lunches and a missing sneaker. We finally found all of our missing pieces are parts and shoved everyone on their merry way. After a long day at work, I picked up the girls from their after school program and was heading home, when I heard the statement that now makes me cringe just thinking about it, “Mom, my head itches.” Of course, it wasn’t the first time I had heard it. A few days before, she had mentioned a few itches here or there. I had “checked for lice,” but I had never seen one! I looked online, but the drawings of lice and their eggs or “nits” were completely out of scale and hard to know how big or little they actually were on my daughter’s hair. Several times I had declared her “lice free” and moved on with my day. This time, unfortunately, my mommy radar went up and my instincts told me that there might be something going on.

Of course, it was raining like cats and dogs. I was running to the grocery store with both kids, so I did what any good Mom would do. I called the pediatricians office to make an appointment so they could check my kid’s head. After all, what did I know? I had no idea what I was looking at, maybe they did have it! So, I called and spoke to a very nice nurse, who explained to me that my kids (yes, plural) had lice, no they would not see me in the office and gave me a laundry list of what to do at home from that point forward. No doubt about it, I was in denial. She could have told me that I won the Nobel prize and I would have believed her before thinking that MY kids had lice! We are clean, our house, although not spotless, is neat and fairly germ-free. How then, could my beautiful daughters get lice? I was outraged and very, very grossed out. I don’t like bugs.

The nurse calmly explained to me, during my fit of hysteria, that this happens to most families throughout school. Children, especially girls, tend to get lice at least once during elementary school. She also explained that clean, long hair like my girls have is particularly attractive to lice. My hysteria, although still terrible, calmed down considerably.

Since I had thoroughly written all of the instructions on the back of a napkin while sitting in the front seat of my car, I didn’t feel terribly prepared to fight these bugs, much less calm down my hysterical children. We went for reinforcements. I bought all of the lice spray at the drugstore, and picked up the prescription shampoo my doctor’s office called in for us. I also picked up two new movies and a huge bag of M&Ms. I wasn’t fooling around, this was war.

What ensued was not pretty. I won’t go into detail. It is too horrible to explain. What I can say is that it did entail much bribing, cajoling and lots and lots of crying and that was just for me. The kids, of course, needing a bit of soothing also. Their Dad and I spent days combing nits and dead bugs out of their hair. It turned out that not only did my daughter have it, but so did her sibling, my husband and even myself. We were a family infested, grossed out and in lock down.

After several days of combing and the girls missing school, we were still not nit free and I was at my wits end. I had consulted with a few nurse friends, one whom was even a lice expert, heard many, many home remedies and had bribed my children with so much chocolate and TV that both were becoming boring to them. Despite all of my best efforts, I was ready to admit defeat. I needed help. I searched the internet and was lucky enough to find a company called “Miracles on Lice” in Ballston Spa. A family-owned business, they made a same-day appointment for our whole family and immediately calmed us down. They gave us great literature to read about lice. They checked all of us for nits and found that despite my best efforts we still had a few. They removed them one at a time and treated us with organic products, only letting us leave when we were completely nit-free.

Now that it’s back to school, I know that I need to pack lunches, find missing shoes and to pay close attention when I hear the words, “Mom, my head itches.” The only difference is that now I don’t miss a beat. First, I comb their hair with a good, tightly bound lice comb. If we find anything at all, we call Miracles on Lice. Now, I sit back, watch a movie and let someone else do the gross part, like any good mother would do. Now, where are those M&Ms?

Check out Miracles on Lice on facebook here if you find yourself facing down this icky situation.

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