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Pick #1: Magazine subscription to Highlights or High Five
I always remember reading Highlights as a child in just about every doctor or dentist's waiting room.  I never had a subscription, but can only imagine I would have liked it.  Now Highlights has High Five which is for the 2-6 age group and features age-appropriate stories, puzzles and fun activities.  Subscriptions are about $35 per year.  Gift subscriptions are available on their website

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Pick #2: Membership to Children's Museum at Saratoga
A membership to the children's museum is a great gift for local mama's and kids.  The memberships are reasonably priced and are valid for an entire year.   Here are the options:
You and Me: $70 includes free admission for two people (one adult and one child) and 10% discount off birthday parties. Top Trio: $85 includes free admission for three people and 10% discount off birthday parties.

Family Fun: $100 includes free admission for four people and 10% discount off birthday parties.

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Pick #3: Lollipop Book Club
If you have or know kids that get excited about books and lollipops, the Lollipop Book Club is the perfect present.  Each month the recipient will receive a nicely packaged book and a cool lollipop!  Purchase 3-month, 6-month or 12-month packages.  They have lots of options for age, gender and interest or you can hand-pick the books yourself. 

Other gift certificate ideas:  TreePaad, Tiny Tots Tearoom, McDonald's (sounds cheesy, but would help a mama out for sure!), Stride Rite, Borders
What else mama's???
 
 
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Did you get your Christmas tree yet?  Two of the top places in the area to get trees are Bobs Trees in Galway and Ellms Farms in Ballston Spa.  Our family always went to Bob's and had a great experience.  We have not gone yet this year, but I'm sure a trip to Bob's is in our near future! 

This week really kicks off the winter holiday season with a few great events.  The first one is the Saratoga Tree Lighting Ceremony on Wednesday.  The tree is on Broadway in front of Putnam Wine (435 Broadway).  Santa and Mrs. Claus will be there with bells on (haha) and they will visit with the kids.  In addition to the lighting of the tree, there will be free hot chocolate and cookies along with music by Star 101.3.  A fun family tradition!  Check the calendar for more events this week.  I will talk about lots of fun holiday things on the blog so you won't miss a thing.

 
 
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I have so much to be thankful for this year as I'm sure you do as well.  I'm thankful every day for two wonderful kids and a fabulous and supportive husband.  I love being able to stay home and work on this website which allows me to connect with so many awesome mama's!  I could go on and on but I will keep it short. I'm not a huge 4am black Friday shopper, but I did come across a few good deals for Black Friday/Cyber Monday that I've listed below. Please feel free to leave a comment with other deals and steals. 

Kohls
has tons of toys on sale for 50% off!
Monday only Babies r Us has 20% off lots of items
Target's sales start now with more sale stuff for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  Lots of toys!
Gap (my personal fave) has 50% off everything in the store until 10AM so get there early!

I wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful weekend full of leftovers, shopping, family and fun times! 
 
 
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I've expressed my adoration for Prime at Saratoga National on MaltaMama before.  To me, it's one of the classiest places to have a drink and appetizer or dinner.  I love some of the downtown bars, but Prime is more my speed the older I get.  The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is for some reason one of the busiest nights to go out.  If you can find a babysitter that isn't going out (if one exists) and can sneak away for a couples night out before the feast, head to Prime!  Music by the awesomely talented Garland Nelson and drink and app specials. 

If you can't go out, you can still have fun at home!  Rent a holiday movie (Redbox has Disney's A Christmas Carol) and park the kids in front of the TV.  Make some nachos or another favorite appetizer and enjoy a tasty cocktail like this Bailey's Holiday  MartiniIt might make the movie just a little sweeter.  Happy Thanksgiving! 

 
 
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Here are a few of my picks for fun and unique stocking stuffers! 

Pick #1: B.F.F. Edgy Veggie matching friendship bracelets
These bracelets would make a sweet gift for two sisters or BFF's!  They are sized perfectly for a child's wrist, are super fun colors and beautiful quality.  I have seen these in person and they really are unique and fun!  - $15 for the set

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Pick #2: Anamalz!
I love these Anamalz for fun creative play.  My son has a few and they are really cute and well-made from organic maple .  You can buy them individually ($5.95 each) or purchase a set of 12 for around $70.  You can choose from wild, farm, Australian or prehistoric 'Anamalz'! 

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Pick #3: Gnon - Natural Rubber Teether
This toy is made in all natural rubber which is safe for babes to chew on.  I think this teether just looks cool and could even be a little buddy for a bigger kid.  It also squeaks when squeezed.  Made in France by the same makers of Sophie the Giraffe.  $17.95 and available at Zola Kids in Saratoga.

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Pick #3 (for Mama's!): Trillium Organics Body Polish
The website says "It moisturizes more than a lotion, cleanses
more profoundly than soap...You are left with exquisitely smooth, silky soft skin."  Sounds too good to be true right?  Well let me assure you that this is a fantastic body polish that actually does live up to its lofty claims!  The scents are amazing like clementine/clove and lavender/geranium.  An 8oz size costs $13.98.  Trillium Organics is woman-owned and all products are of course free from toxins and organic.   

 
 
Did you know that four out of five child car seats are installed incorrectly?  Before you embark on any major holiday travel, it's a good idea to get those car seats checked.  Thankfully we have a local Ballston Spa resource.  Cynthia Dort is an Occupant Protection Specialist Educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension and you can set up an appointment to have her check your seats.  Call 518-885-8995 and ask to speak with Cynthia.   Chances are that if you have two car seats in your car, at least one of them needs to be adjusted for safety.  In addition to checking the car seats, here are a few other tips for less-stress holiday travel:
   - Buy special snacks that the kids have never eaten.  Make a special trail mix with granola, craisins, m&m's, cereal, etc.  Take a cooler with drinks too.  Kids tend to get dehydrated in the car.
   - Pack some 'new' toys.  You don't have to buy them though, raid a friends toy box for something special just for the trip
   - Children's books on CD and special music CD's can be found at the library and are nice to pass the time
   - A portable DVD player is great to bring along with some new DVD's from the library.  Borrow one from a friend if you don't have one. 

Anyone else have good ideas for traveling with kids?  Please share them here!  Have a great weekend and I'll see you all on Monday.  Don't forget about the calendar to find things to do this weekend and next week!
 
 
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You may not think of a winery being very family-friendly but The Saratoga Winery and Tasting Room is definitely an exception.  I like places where you can eat, drink and have a great time either with or without the kids, and I'm not talking about Friendly's.  This weekend's best bet is Saratoga Winery's Anniversary Open House on Saturday, Nov. 20th from 12pm-8pm.  There will be live music, Pies on Wheels wood fired pizza, samples from local vendors, and more.  Wine tasting is $1 per sample and the winery serves affordable comfort food like baked ziti, chowders and soups.  It sounds like a fun event and a may be a good excuse to enjoy a glass of wine with your spouse, while the kids can enjoy hanging out,listening to music and eating pizza.
The Saratoga Winery
462 Route 29 West
Saratoga Springs, New York
584-WINE(9463)
www.thesaratogawinery.com

 
 
Each week from now until Christmas I'll be posting Perfect Present Picks which might help you find that unique holiday gift.  A little about my selections.... most items will be USA-made, most items will not be available in Kohls/Target/ToysrUs, ALL items will be unique!  Today features two picks for a dinosaur-lover and my top pick for a mama in your life.  Happy shopping!
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Pick #1:  CBH Studio backpacks
I love these because they are USA-made and are not like every other backpack on the market.  No, you won't find Elmo, Buzz, Superman, etc., but they are timeless bags and would be cute for any age.  These are also lead-free, PVC-free, and phthalate-free.  A backpack is a nice gift because you can fill it with other fun things like snacks, coloring books, toys, etc.   

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Pick #2: Big Belly Banks
I have gifted these banks to friends in the past and they have been very well-received.  The banks stand about 23" tall and aside from looking really cool, they are totally functional.  Kids love 'feeding' money to the bank.  They are USA-made and the best place to find them is at a store called Kismet in downtown Glens Falls.  I know it seems like a hike, but trust me, it's worth it.  Kismet has tons of neat gift ideas and it's just a really  cool store to peruse. 

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Pick #3: For yourself or a mama in your life - Personalized 'mom' necklace
I purchased a necklace from Lalabel Creations on Etsy and I just love this seller's style.  Mama's, you can pass this link right on to the man in your life and cross your fingers!  (though I tried doing that and I'm still waiting for my 'mama' necklace.)
A great gift idea for a woman in your life, a friend, sister, cousin, or your own mother. 

 
 
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It was a 'manic' Monday and the calendar that I had hoped to launch had another date in mind, today!  Here goes again... take 2.
I'm so excited about my new calendar feature and hope you'll find it useful and user-friendly.  I'm still making some adjustments to it, so bear with me as it may change in look/feel and also I may fine-tune things as I go.  I wanted to get this feature done before December when you may find your weeks are harder and harder to fill with activity. 

A few things about the calendar...
- I'm going to work in 2-3 week cycles so I can be sure I'm getting the most up-to-date information
- I will do my very best to confirm everything I post on the calendar, but please, if you have any question about whether something is happening, CONFIRM for yourself and don't blame me ;-)  I will try to put contact phone numbers in the calendar item
- I'm typically going to post free or low-cost items
- There's no way I could possibly put every single activity on the calendar, so if you see something missing that may interest other readers, please let me know and I'll put it on there. 
- If you have an event that may be of interest to other MaltaMama readers, contact me and let me know about it!  For a very nominal fee, I will post your event on my calendar so other readers will find out about it!  Contact me

Do you  have any other thoughts/ideas/comments or feedback on the calendar?  Is this useful?  I'd appreciate the feedback! 

Reminder:  Hit up the Tiny Tots Tearoom now through the end of November to get 15% off just by letting Kate or whoever is working there know you are a MaltaMama reader!