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I'm having trouble planning for fall because I don't want summer to end!  Registration is open for just about all Fall activities and I'm sure spots are filling fast.  Here is an overview of some sports options for the fall.  If I'm missing anything, please leave a comment here to help others!  The green text links to the registration info.   Game on!

Fall 2011 SWSC Rec Soccer Program At Gavin Park - Outdoor
Pre-K to 6th Grade
Session: - 7-weeks Saturday September 10th to Saturday October 29th
Days & Times: Saturdays 9:00-10:00 AM  &  Wednesdays 5:30-6:30 PM
at Gavin Park
Format: Skills Training 25% and Game Play 75% - small sided for a lot of touches & goals
Cost:  $55 Wilton Residents and active SWSC Members$65 Saratoga School District$75 Others
If you have any questions or comments, please email or call Dennis Ward 424-1233.

SoccerTots Indoor Soccer in Malta
8 week sessions, ages 18mos - 6y/o.  SoccerTots is a motor skills development program that offers soccer classes for children 18 months to 6 years old. SoccerTots is non-competitive, and is not affiliated with a soccer club or league.  They will give you a trial class too if you are interested.

City of Saratoga Springs Recreation Soccer Program plays at Saratoga Gaming and Raceway (Racino).  Open to kids Pre-K and up. They charge quite a bit more for out of district residents, but an option nonetheless.  Register here

Ballston Area Recreation Committee offers tons of sports throughout the year; everything from T-ball and basketball to swim team and ski trips.  Kids must be entering or currently in Kindergarten to participate. 

Learn to Swim programs at Ballston Spa High School
- For children K-6.  Starts on October 1st.  Cost is $35 for BSpa residents and $50 for non.  Still way cheaper than the YMCA. 

Saratoga YMCA has lots of activities including Swim Classes, music & movement, parents night out events and lots more.  Fall Session I starts September 12th.  Registration open now. 

Malta Community Center also offers lots for kids of all ages.  Dance classes, yoga, martial arts, soccer and basketball to name a few.  Registration is open and most classes begin in mid-September. 

 
 
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Feeling like you'd rather not pay and arm and a leg for priority shipping?  Finish your shopping locally at some of the following retailers.  There are lots of places to shop, but these are just a few of my personal faves. 
Pick #1: Make Me Fabulous in Ballston Spa for gifts for a little girl, or a mama friend! 
The products in the picture are Bare Escentuals Keychain Kisses which is a great trio gift set for $15.  They taste super sweet and contain a blend of pure bareMinerals and exotic oils, botanical extracts and antioxidants.  Also shown is cupcake bath bombs which range in price from $5-$16.  They are handmade and perfect for kids and adults!  They contain scented moisturizers of sweet almond and other oils.  Dead sea salts smooth and relax tired, tense muscles.  There are lots of wonderful things at Make Me Fabulous including gift certificates.  A perfect stop for a last-minute gift or some pampering for yourself!   

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Pick #2: Zola Kids - Hevea Panda Teether, $15.95
This is one of the cutest (and safest) teethers on the market.  It's made from 100% natural rubber and is free of BPA, PVC and Phthalates.  The gentle surface makes it soothing for irritated gums and is also easy to grip.  Best part: Stop by Zola Kids and mention this blog and get 15% off this product!  (expires 12/24). 
Zola Kids has tons of unique gift ideas for any kids on your list!  Gift Certificates are also available. 

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Pick #3: Village Sweet Shoppe
Candy makes a sweet gift for kids or adults and the Village Sweet Shoppe in Ballston Spa has tons of it!  Holiday chocolate dipped oreos, snowman peeps, chocolate santas, Christmas trees, angels and more.  They can make up fun bags of candy or mini lunch boxes of candy for anyone on your list!  While you're there, try some of their Ballston Bites which are brownie, caramel and chocolate.  They are delicious!

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Pick #4: Mango Tree Imports - Guatemalan hand puppet: $14.50
Mango Tree Imports in Ballston Spa is a locally owned family business offering fairly traded arts, gifts and merchandise from over 70 countries.  They have tons of unique gift ideas and some very cool things for kids like this Guatemalan hand puppet.  It's sewn out of washable cotton and made by a group of mothers and homoemakers who live in marginalized communities.  Not something you can pick up at Toys r Us and the story behind it makes it a perfect present pick :-)


 
 
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Pick #1: Barefoot Books 'Knick Knack Paddy Whack' book and CD - $16.99
Barefoot Books  is a children's book publishing company based in MA.  It was started by two mothers who were seeking books that encouraged imagination and creativity, while also
instilling respect for other cultures and the planet.  We own several Barefoot Book titles and they are all brilliantly illustrated and fun.  This particular 'pick' is a book and a singalong CD and a familiar voice, Steve Songs (from PBS Kids) sings on the CD.  Click the pic to purchase from a local mama and barefoot books consultant! 

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Pick #2 Wooden snail $15.95
I love this brightly colored wooden snail from Etsy seller Countryside Gifts out of New Jersey.  I've ordered items from this seller in the past and they are extremely well-made and very unique.  I also love that this puzzle looks great on a dresser when not being played with.  It's painted with non-toxic lead free dye of course. 

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Pick #3: Latin Percussion yellow maracas - $19.99
This may seem like a lot of money for maracas, but let me explain.  As a musician and someone who supports the arts, I think kids deserve to have quality instruments that feel and sound like what they would hear on a CD or radio.  My suggestion is to buy instruments from music stores, NOT from toy stores.  They will last longer, sound better, and not only mimic the 'real thing', they are the real thing!  Great for all ages.  

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Pick #4: Plan Toys 50 blocks - $19.99
This block set contains 36 natural blocks and 14 colored blocks.  Blocks are fun for all ages and truly grow with a child.  Plan Toys uses sustainable and environmentally-friendly manufacturing processes so you can feel good about buying from this company!


 
 
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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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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!
 
 
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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Open gym times are great if you have children that love to run around!  An open gym sure beats having them run in your house all morning and they are offered free of charge!  The Ballston Area Community Center (BACC) which is located in downtown Ballston Spa has open gym times throughout November on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30-11am. (No open gym on Nov. 11th and Nov. 25th)  It's free and you can bring your own toys, ride-on vehicles, balls, etc but they have things available there.  Where is this place?  Here are directions from the North: Take Route 50 until you Reach Malta Avenue (Cumberland Farms will be on your Right and  Spa Laundromat & Spa Cleaners will be on your Left). Make a Left at the Coffee Planet onto Malta Avenue. After the Laundromat Parking lot, make a right turn, go up the hill to BACC.  Lost?  Call them! 518-885-3261

At Gavin Park in Wilton, open gym is Monday through Friday from 3pm-5pm.  I've never been to this one, but I'm sure at some point we'll check it out.  Check their calendar for more events in November.  

 
 
Saratoga Library  518-584-7860   Registration is required unless noted

Toddler Story Time
(24-42 months):  Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays: 9:30-9:50am
                                                 Wednesdays: 9:30-9:50am or 11:00-11:20am
                                                 (Beginning the week of September 20 - week of November 29)

Saturday Family Story Time
(ages 2-5):  Saturdays 11:30am-12:00pm, September 25-November 20
  **No registration necessary for this program. 

Preschool Story Time
(42 months-5yrs): Tuesdays, Thursdays: 10:15-10:45am
                                                       Wednesdays: 10:15-10:45am or 2:00-2:30pm
                                                       (Beginning the week of September 20 - week of November 29)

Preschool Story/Music Program
(42 months-5yrs): Mondays: 10:15-10:45am  &  Tuesdays 2:00-2:30pm
                                                                     (Beginning the week of September 20 - week of November 29)

Library Babies
(An informal playgroup for babies under 24 months):
                        Fridays September 24-December 3. Drop in between 10:30am and noon                       
                        Saturdays September 25-November 20. Drop in between 10:00am and 11:00am
**No registration necessary for this program.
 
 
I love taking my kids to the library on any day, but it's always nice to catch one of the scheduled story times and activities!  Below is a list of the upcoming story times for Ballston Spa, Round Lake and Malta.  I have listed the phone numbers so you can give a quick call before heading out.   

Ballston Spa  518-885-5022
All drop-in programs, no registration required.  A short playtime follows the program.  
3-5yrs:  Thursdays from 10-10:45am
18mo-3yrs: Fridays from 10-10:45am

Round Lake  518-899-2285
Story times start the first week of October and are as follows:
Toddler Story Time:  Tuesdays at 10:30am (10/5, 10/12, 10/19, 10/26, 11/2, 11/9)
Preschool Story Time: Thursdays at 2:00pm (10/7, 10/14, 10/21, 10/28, 11/4, 11/18,)  
Baby & Me: 1st and 3rd Tuesday at 11:15am (10/5, 10/19, 11/2, 11/16)  

Malta Branch  518-682-2495
Toddler Story Time:  Thursdays at 11:15am   (10/7, 10/21, 10/28, 11/4, 11/18)
Preschool Story Time: Wednesdays at 10:30am  (10/6, 10/13, 10/20, 10/27, 11/3, 11/10)
                                  & Thursdays at 2:15pm   (10/7, 10/14, 10/21, 10/28, 11/4, 11/18)