Now it's the end of summer and suddenly it's Crunch Time for moms everywhere! We're trying to squeeze in some last minute fun in the sun–I heard Sesame Place has been packed this week–while also gathering stuff for back to school. I have this schizo mood going on: I'm trying to relax and enjoy the last days of summer while also in a frenzied mental state of gathering forms for school, planning out my fall schedule, and wondering what I can package for lunch everyday. 

I also have my two kids birthdays to plan (their birthdays are 4 days apart!). I can see how in the future this can drive me crazy. All this means that I have a backlog of things to write about and recommend. So, this post will be a bit of everything that I've been saving up. Here's to your sanity as you juggle your own crazy life schedule. 

BACK TO SCHOOL

For Back to School, it's great to have Liz Gumbinner of Cool Mom Picks in our arsenal. She has just the coolest stuff in her back to school guide. Now, she has recommended iPhone Apps: the iReward one looks great for me. Two items I can't wait to order are the Lil Davinci frames and the School Years book. The Lil Davinci Frame (below) can store up to 100 pieces of art in a spring loaded fashion. Now, my daughter doesn't have to tape her pictures all over the house! 


The School Years book from MomAgenda is a great way to keep a record of your child's school years. There are pockets, too, to store artwork and report cards. The blue one is $18.75 and through Cool Mom Picks you get another 15% off with code: COOLMOM15. I also keep a big tupperware bin and store things in there that I'd like to save throughout the year. 

Another back to school item that I thought was really cool is the On Task On Time for Kids timer. It's a customizable timer that you can insert your nighttime or morning routine into. That way, kids feel in control of their life a little and moms don't have to bark orders all the way to the car in the morning. It's a bit pricey $49.95 but can save you lots of time…and time IS money! 

This year I'm doing a carpool for my daughter's kindergarten. I'm sure many of you do carpools for after school activities, too. I found a useful article on Parents.com about how to lay the ground rules and some great tips as well: Carpool Confidential

PLACES

If you're looking for a late night hang out place, check out Cafe Archetypus or "The Cave" in Edgewater. I've been here with my girlfriends but only this last time we were seated in the back room. It's like you stepped back into some prehistoric dwelling–I kept expecting to see Fred Flintstone to pop in to take our order. The desserts are around $10 and the coffee/tea is around $5 so it's not cheap! But the ambiance is really relaxing and I saw some tables for two that were tres romantic. A good date night option! 

Last week I went to an event at the Turtle Back Zoo after hours and for media/ bloggers only. It was a beautiful day so we dined al fresco and took tours of a new building that will have beautiful saltwater fish from tropical locations around the world. It will be open around mid-September so check it out! The yearly membership for the Zoo is very reasonable and I know a few moms that definitely get their money's worth with it! If you have 5K to spare, you can sponsor a tank. BaristaKids has the lowdown here. If you live in Montclair, Glen Ridge or surrounding towns, check out her site–it's an awesome resource! 

During the rainy week we had recently, I decided to check out Kids Kingdom in Northvale with a friend. It's about a half hour north of me. Upon arriving we found a sign telling us that it would be closed for all of August for renovations. Hmph! When I had called before there was no mention of that on their voice mail. We were desperate and thank God we were able to go to the McDonald's playland in Old Tappan about 5 minutes from there. This playland is indoors and pretty big. It's up to your kid whether they'll leave with you, though–Mommy can't climb up this one! There's a VERY small area for little ones with a slide. 

There was also some drama recently when Space Odyssey in Englewood closed down for a spell. My friend Sheila at njplaygrounds.com actually visited on a day when it was closed! Supposedly, some moms got upset because their parties were booked during those days and therefore were out of luck! I know they are back open now but I'm sure some will be shy about booking parties there. We have been members for the past year and it's been great when we have a rainy day and need something to do. For $99/year it's a steal. I hope they are able to stay open. There is also Cutie Patooties that just opened in Englewood–another place for play and classes. I can't wait to go visit this one! 

There's also a Community Keytag you can pick up or get mailed to you for free. This one focuses on businesses around Tenafly and the deals are pretty good! For Cutie Patooties you get 10% off a daypass. Definitely pick one of these keypasses up if you frequent the businesses in that area. 

If you're scoping out places to do some apple picking, check out NJ Family Magazine's 24 places to go in NJ. Link here. I also wrote up some of my favorites in NJ and NY in this post from last year MiraBest Apple Picking Top Spots

Since this post is getting pretty long I'll have to save more of my tips for another post. If you have a back to school tip or product rec or a local place you love then leave it in the comment below!