Extreme budgeting, Parenting Lessons, No More Junk-Mail, Super Mario City, more

In the news today: how one woman is feeding her family of four on $800 a year, the accumulated knowledge of another woman's 18 years of parenting (apparently it fits on one page), how to reduce your junk-mail footprint (just do it), how to get off the phone faster, a free way to turn your kids art into frame-able nursery art, and how Super Mario is taking over the city, in real life. Check it out.

It's Here: Our New York City Kids Birthday Party Ideas Guide

It's one of the most sought out topics on Mommy Poppins, birthday party ideas. Well, now we've got a page dedicated to everything we've ever written on the theme. And what's more, we're going to write about New York City birthday party ideas every day this week. So check out what we've got in our New York City Birthday Party Guide and stay tuned for more great posts about kids parties in New York to come.  

Oh, and while we've got your attention, make sure to check in next week because we're going to be giving away some awesome tickets to the top kid shows in New York City. Don't miss it.

Williamsbridge Oval

This well-manicured park (whose name can be misleading... it's actually located in the Norwood section of the Bronx) hosts many programs and offers an array of amenities for families, all of which are open to the public for a nominal annual fee (and free for kids). Some of the major highlights you'll find at the Oval include: tennis courts, four different playgrounds, shuffle board courts, basketball courts, a newly renovated synthetic turf playing field with surrounding track, as well as a top notch recreation center with a fitness room, senior citizen room, and computer resource center. The recreation center hosts an array of interesting programs, including an after-school program, karate, self-defense, and arts and crafts. At just under 20 acres, the Oval is a quaint little park with the unbeatable amenities that rival any large city park.

Bronx Zoo

If you have children and live in or around NYC, you simply must get to the Bronx Zoo once or twice per year. Arguably one of the nation’s most famous zoos, the Bronx Zoo is home to 265 acres of wildlife habitats and attractions. It’s nearly impossible to see all that the Zoo has to offer in just one day, so we recommend doing a little research on the Zoo’s website before each visit. A great place for families with young kids to start off is the Children’s Zoo, which is three acres of kid-friendly activities and wildlife attractions. We highly recommend that you build the animal feedings and enrichment demonstrations into your trip. What fun is visiting the animals if they’re all lounging around and sleeping right? The twice daily Sea Lion and Penguin feedings, as well as the Bee-Eater Buffet, Primate Training, and Tiger Enrichment sessions, guarantee that your kids will get to see the animals in action. If you’re on a tight budget, plan to visit the Bronx Zoo on any Wednesday of the year when admission is free. If you find yourself visiting the Zoo with you family frequently, you may want to consider becoming a member of the Wildlife Conservation Society. For $120/year, two adults and their children get free admission to the Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium, as well at the Prospect, Central Park, and Queens Zoos.

The Bronx Zoo is open 365 days per year. Winter and Spring/Summer hours and rates vary, so check out the website for more information.

Tickle Me: Elmo and Ricky Gervais Outtakes on Sesame Street

I don't know about you but, I need something funny to laugh about to nudge me from this long week into the weekend...and I think I found just the ticket. I don't know why this video of the outtakes of Ricky Gervais and Elmo on Sesame Street is floating around the internet, but I'm glad it is. How does Elmo stay in character while Gervais is yanking his chain? Elmo shows RIcky Gervais what real acting is. Even Gervais can't keep a straight face through this routine. Enjoy.

Best People To Follow on Twitter for NYC Kids Activities

Twitter has become a great resource for finding cool things to do with kids in New York City. Pretty much all of the institutions are on there, letting us know about their events, plus there's lots of parents and bloggers sharing tips too. I've been scouring the NYC Kid event tweets for great tips to share and "re-tweeting" them, so if you are following me [@mommypoppins] you can always find out the latest.

But if you want to get all the tweets right from the souce, here's my list of the Top Ten people to follow on twitter for NYC kids Events, Activities and News:

Wave Hill

Situated in Riverdale overlooking the Hudson River, Wave Hill is a gorgeous 28-acre public garden and culture center with extensive programming for children. Each weekend, Wave Hill sponsors a different “Family Art Project” which coincides with whatever seasonal event or holiday may be around the corner. These programs are free with admission on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 1pm. We find one of the most unique aspects of visiting Wave Hill to be the sense of utter relaxation which washes over you upon your visit.

Although Wave Hill is not nearly as large in acreage or horticultural diversity as the New York Botanical Garden, it can actually feel a bit more ‘family-friendly’ because visitors are encouraged to use the grounds to their fullest extent. There are lounge chairs placed sporadically throughout the beautiful lawns, which makes it the perfect place for parents to spend an afternoon with a toddler who is just beginning to crawl or walk. For apartment dwellers that don’t get to spend much time close to nature, Wave Hill serves as the perfect place to pretend you have your very own backyard! Wave Hill also offers concerts and other special programming throughout the year.

Some tips to keep in mind to plan an affordable visit: Saturdays from 9am to 12pm are free all year round, Tuesdays are free all day during off-peak months (January, February, March, April, July, August, November, and December) and are also free from 9am to 12pm during the remaining peak months. Children under six are always admitted free. It’s a relatively affordable attraction anyway: $8 for adults, $4 for students and $2 for children ages 6 and up.

Free New York City Library Weekend Events for Kids

There's always so much cool stuff going on at the libraries, I thought I would pull these events out of the regular free weekend events post this week and make a post just of library events. See and touch live birds of prey, watch a live performance or Robin Hood or Pinnochio, or see a show about puppets from different cultures, or hear some native Chinese or Peruvian music. Your tax dollars (and private funding) at work, folks!

NYC Free Kids Activities and Weekend Events for March 21-22

If you aren't heading out of the city this weekend for some Maple Sugaring, don't worry. There's more than enough to make your weekend slammin' right here in town, with lots of circus performances, concerts, festivals a science fair, and more—all free (except for the circus shows, but who can resist a circus act?). And this weekend marks the official beginning of Spring so get out and have fun!

And don't forget to check our events calendar for some more fun activities too.

Poe Cottage

Located at Kingsbridge Road and the Grand Concourse, the Edgar Allen Poe Cottage is truly a unique sight to see in the Bronx. Surrounded by bustling traffic and towering apartment buildings, the simple white structure is like a relic from another time. Perhaps the best thing about visiting the Poe Cottage with kids is its size. The cottage is teeny tiny, which means it’s perfect for fidgety kids who don’t do well with long, drawn out tours of historical sites. Tours of the cottage are $5 for adults and $3 for kids. Stay tuned… the best is yet to come for the Poe Cottage. It is slated for a $250,000 restoration and will soon get a $3.2 million, 2,000 square foot visitor center! These improvements are a fitting tribute to the nearly 200-year-old cottage where it is believed Poe penned “The Bells,” “Annabel Lee,” and Eureka.” Click here to visit Poe Cottage’s website. If you’re looking to pair your visit to the Poe Cottage with another outing, consider visiting the new Bronx Library Center, which is just around the block. We affectionately refer to it as a “library on steroids.”

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