New Jersey

One Great Day (and Night) in NJ: Camping at Harmony Ridge

We were all snugly sleeping in our tent. The hubs and myself comfortably (mostly) on our bourgeois air mattress, and the kids in their sleeping bags surrounded by 82 glow sticks. Then I heard through my mom half-sleep, a pleading whine, along with the rustle, rustle of dog feet. There at the end of the tent was my ridiculous little dog, who I wouldn’t describe as outdoorsy, staring at me with bug-eyed dog panic. He clearly had to go outside, but maybe couldn’t figure out if the tent was technically already outside. Oh, to be so walnut-brained. After he left the tent and did his business — which I won’t elaborate on, except to say that I think he ate some bad mushrooms while securing the campsite perimeter — and was once again snoring an inch from my face, I laid there imagining how I might save us all if someone with an ax decided to stop by. Finally, I slept. This is camping, family-edition.

Special Needs Support Groups in Essex and Union Counties

One of the positive aspects of having a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder is that there is so much support out there for you!  You just have to find it and navigating the internet through tons of websites and even more pages, tabs & links can be quite stressful.  However, the information and services you receive can actually help alleviate some of your stress, so if you’re not computer-savvy, or just can’t seem to bring yourself to spend hours looking for all these services, go to a support group.  One of your best resources is other parents who are going through the same thing, and contact with other adults is so much more beneficial than sitting in front of a computer.  Sometimes I yearn for adult conversation after being with my boys all day.  (Don’t get me wrong, I love my boys to death but sometimes it gets to the point that if I talk about Transformers one more time I’m going to completely lose it.)  There are other things I want to talk about, other people I want to talk to, and other places I want to be at times.  A support group is a really great way to do all these things, and get some inner peace and great information while you’re there! 

Weekend events in NJ June 25-26: Arts, Crafts, Fairs and Dora!

This weekend is the breather between school ending, and camp and other summer activities beginning. It’s that time when we collect our children in our arms in disbelief that they are a year bigger and smarter. A lovely time for a family weekend enjoying some art, nature, Dora, and the racing pigs and fried food that is State Fair Meadowlands.

Dancing, Singing, Celebrating--Partake in a Pow Wow, NJ-style!

New Jersey abounds with festivals–music, food, art–you name it. Well, here’s a type of festival that not only entertains, but also teaches history and culture. A festival that originates in the beginning of people and land: the Pow Wow. A modern pow wow involves both Native American and non-Native American people meeting to dance, sing, and honor American Indian culture. Since New Jersey’s original inhabitants were Lenni Lenape people:  the Unami (Lenape) tribe; the Minisink (Munsee) tribe and the Unalachtigo tribe–their festivals continue here, and throughout the tri-state area, today.  Take in a pow wow with the family, and celebrate history, life and spirit all in one!

One Great Day In NJ: Cape May County Zoo

When you're living with a future zookeeper/artist/paleontologist/restaurant owner, almost all your excursions turn into research trips. Fortunately, my son's current passion for zoos can be easily indulged with a trip to the Cape May County Zoo. We've gone three times this year, and I'm confident more trips are in our future. I'm sure you're thinking, "Wow. They must have a lot of money if they can afford to attend the zoo that often." Want to know our secret? The reason we can indulge our future zookeeper so easily is that admission to the Cape May County Zoo is 100% free! Although the zoo is primarily funded by the county, donations are critical to its survival and growth. We usually donate at least $20 on each visit but, if money is tight, you can enjoy the zoo for free. As my husband says "Zoo for the price of none." (OK...that was a bad pun. We'll leave him out of the rest of the story.)

Your NJ Weekend June 18-19: Lots of FREE Fun: Firefly Fests, Fishing, All-Night Art and More!

It’s Father’s Day weekend, and we’ve got the goods on family fun for all types of dads!  Outdoorsy types can go fishing for free, welcome butterflies at a nature center, or celebrate the start of firefly season at a family fest.  Sporty dads should head out on a challenging 3-hour mountain hike.  Handy dads’ll like building a birdhouse for the family home. Artsy dads will enjoy a 24-hour art-packed event. Dad’s a history buff? The Whippany excursion train ride’s for him.  And when you return home? Guide him to the couch, hand him the remote, and quietly recede to the far reaches of the house for an hour or so.  It IS Father’s Day, after all.

NJ Weekend Events June 11-12: Rubber Duckies, Crafting for Dad, Stone Soup and Lots o' Music

New Jersey’s hills (and towns) are alive with the sound of music this weekend!  Take in Celtic sounds in Cape May, rock’n’roll in Hoboken, Girlchoir in Lawrenceville and local teen bands in Berkeley Heights. Rather race? Take your pick: rubber duckies down the Passaic River or cockroaches at the Bugseum–both for charity.  You can also try your hand at museum gallery sketching in Montclair or get a jump on Father’s Day with a knot-tying fest or wallet-making workshop.  Or see “Stone Soup” as never before in a Papermill Playhouse show created specifically for children with autism spectrum or other developmental disabilities. Whatever your pick, you’ll be whistling dixie at day’s end!

NJ Weekend Events June 4-5: FREE Festivals, Lady Pirates, Talking Bears and World Oceans Day

June. Ahhh… The end of car pools, coats and homework crying fits. The beginning of summer, when the memory-making feels almost visceral. The gluttonous gorging on strawberries; gleeful races to the sea foam; the tucked up legs in the freezing movie theater, and yes, the management of a tremendous amount of wet towels. This weekend kicks it all off with good eats, nature-time, sea life (human and animal), and even some beary nice theatre. Welcome, summer. I feel nostalgic already.

Special Needs Support Groups in Hudson and Bergen Counties

As a single mother of twin boys who are both diagnosed with PDD-NOS (AUTISM SPECTRUM) and ADHD, I have had my share of “almost to the point of having a mental breakdown” moments over the past five and a half years.  Some people say when they found out their children had an Autism Spectrum Disorder that they went through the five states of grief.  Not me.

I was never in denial, never angry that the life I had planned for them was never going to happen, never tried to bargain with a “higher power” to make my children “typical”.  I never became grief-stricken over the loss of the quiet, polite, exceptionally smart children I thought I was going to have.  I jumped right into the “acceptance” stage and went into SuperMommy mode.  Juggling almost 36 hours of early intervention each week, washing clothes, cooking, cleaning, and caring for my boys – alone – was completely overwhelming.  But I did it….. with some regrets.  My biggest one was not seeking out support from other individuals who were going through the same thing I was. For those of you facing the most challenging, yet most amazing experience of your life – raising a child with Autism – get support. Seek out those who can understand your grief and frustrations and share with you their joys and accomplishments.  You won’t regret it!

Your NJ Weekend May 28-29: FREE Fests Galore, Plus Raptors, Snakes, Flowers and More!

Back in the LBC days (“Life Before Children,”) a long, summer weekend meant a much-needed break--sleeping-in, relaxation, ahhhhh.... Now, these 3-day “free” days often mean a scramble to find family-friendly activities to entertain a crew without breaking the bank.  That’s why you have us.  This weekend we’ve got your family festivals, your garden parties, your raptor tours, your parades, your snake-handling sessions...but wait, there’s more! Check out our list of Memorial Day celebrations and crafts, too.  And no need to thank us.  We’re right there with you. Believe us.

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