• This entry was posted in on November 07, 2016

  • With the holidays coming up, it's a good time to reach out and give back to the community. This is a wonderful way to get your children or grandchildren involved as well. Check around in your local area to see if there are any special causes or charities that need a boost this time of year. You should be able to get a receipt for a tax deduction from most agencies. Here are a few ideas to get you started in your quest to give back during the holidays.


    Many non-profit organizations are in need of manpower and other forms of assistance. You can donate your time at the local food bank, place of worship or homeless shelter. You can also donate blood at a local hospital or through a local blood drive.  

    - American Red Cross – There are many opportunities to assist with fund raising or by supporting a blood drive at a location near you.

    Recycle Toys

    With a potential visit from Santa Claus waiting in the wings, now is the perfect time to go through your children's toys and set aside the ones they no longer use. These can be donated to a homeless shelter, daycare center or even the nursery at a local place of worship. Here are a few places with national collection that accept gently used toys.

    - Homeless Shelter Directory – Nationwide map to find a shelter near you.

    - The Salvation Army  – Collects gently used clothing, household goods and toys for its stores.

    Donate New Toys

    There are several charities that host toy drives for underprivileged kids. When buying toys for your kids or grandkids as holiday gifts, you might consider picking up one for a needy child and donating it through a local drop-off site. You can also let the kids pick out a special toy they would like another child to have while they're doing their own holiday shopping.

    - Toys for Tots – U.S. Marine Corps Reserve program collects new, unwrapped toys for less fortunate kids.

    - Ronald McDonald House Charities – The Ronal McDonald House network houses families whose children are receiving medical care away from home. It accepts toys such as board games, books, puzzles and stuffed animals. Non-perishable food and daily living supplies are needed as well.

    Charitable Events

    You can also give back to your local community by making monetary donations, organizing an event or participating in a charitable event. If you’re in a warm winter weather area, there are many golf tournaments and walks or runs that support a wide range of charities during the holiday season.

    - Wounded Warrior Project – Support wounded military veterans as an event supporter, or encourage the kids in your family to become Student Ambassadors.

    Giving back to the community is a great way to make the holidays even more special. It's also something you can do as a family year-round. Before making a monetary donation, you may wish to check with your state charitable organization regulation department to verify that they are registered.


  • This entry was posted in Toys on October 18, 2016

  • The lifestyle habits learned and developed during childhood often become lifelong habits. This is why instilling healthy habits and safe behavior for your little ones from an early age is so important. The sooner you begin reminding them of what is healthy and safe in their everyday routine, they will naturally recognize right from wrong, safe from unsafe, and healthy from unhealthy. You teach them these lessons and trust them to make the right choices when playing with friends and when they are at school.

    Staying Healthy

    - Brush your teeth at least twice a day, and floss at least once.

    - Make healthy food choices. Have a fruit or vegetable with every meal and choose healthy snack options.

    - Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before and after every meal, after using the restroom, after recess, and more often when you are sick or getting a cold.

    - Drink plenty of liquids. Stay hydrated with water throughout the day especially when playing.

    - Get active. At least 30 minutes of exercise and fresh air every day.

    Playing Safe

    - Look both ways before crossing the street, or crossing in front of a driveway.

    - Use all playground equipment as it was meant to be played on. No going up the slides or standing on the swings.

    When riding a bike always wear safety gear and a properly fitted helmet.

     -Wear sneakers for recess and outdoor playtime.

    - Dress appropriately for the playground. Remove necklaces, purses, scarves or clothing with drawstrings that can get caught on equipment and pose a strangulation hazard.

    - No pushing, crowding or shoving.

    - Limit the time playing video games and watching TV each day.

    Elementary age children are at an extremely important age mentally, emotionally and physically. Giving them these helpful reminders will ensure they are learning and growing into smart and healthy adolescents.

  • This entry was posted in Toys on October 07, 2016

  • Whether your child is 3 years old or 13, chances are a majority of their time is spent in front of a computer, television or gaming screen. Providing other outlets and activities is vital for their development. Try these fun activities to get your kids active and to put down the technology.

    Sports & Outdoor Activities

    Have a supply of different types of balls, rackets, bats, and gloves. For older kids encourage getting involved and playing sports with neighborhood friends or through local leagues. Even if it is just 30 minutes of riding a bike or swinging at the park, exercise and fresh air is an important part of the day.

    Science Projects

    During the winter months when the weather may not always permit outside play, provide educational and creative alternatives.  3D models, erupting volcanoes, magnets, and nature discovery kits are all inspiring and scholastic activities children will enjoy.

    Arts & Crafts

    Drawing and craft materials are simple and provide endless possibilities. You’ll be amazed at what kids can create with a few basic crafting supplies.


    Challenge kids to mentally stimulating games and activities, for example playing cards, marbles, board games, building blocks and puzzles.

    Children’s Books

    Start a library of books for your kids, focused on all subjects and aimed for their age level. Check out Kettler’s list of Top 10 Children’s Books.

    Family Field Trips

    Go on outings together. Get involved with local volunteer projects or camps. Visiting parks, museums, mini-golf, the beach, amusement parks, zoos and aquariums is a great way to bond and have an adventure as a family.

    Here are a few additional tips to limit your children’s technology time:

    Set an example. Your children’s behavior is molded after yours, so put down the cellphone and close the laptop. Encourage healthy behaviors and activates while setting a boundary on the unhealthy ones. Set limited TV and gaming times, for an example one television show in the morning and one after school.

    Keep TVs in the living room. Bedrooms should be a place for rest and quite play. Don’t let children have a TV in their bedroom. Keep it in a family room where you can enjoy a show together and closer monitor their viewing time.

    Pay attention to any behavioral changes. After too much television or gaming time children tend to get irritable, aggressive, and impatient. Be on the lookout for these signs and know when to suggest other activity.

    Park the electronics. Have a designated spot to put electronics and cellphones when it’s time for bed.

    Cherish family time. Car rides and family meals are where some of the best family memories and conversations are had. Get involved and don’t take away from valuable family time by leaving the TV on in the background.

    As a rule of thumb: No TV for kids under 2 years of age, and one to two hours max per day for all other children.

  • This entry was posted in Table tennis on September 26, 2016

  • Table tennis is a game that's growing in popularity in the U.S., and not just as a backyard pastime. The addition of table tennis to the summer Olympic Games in 1998 has garnered much attention for the sport. In the past 16 years, several table tennis stars have emerged, both professional and amateur, on the international stage. While the Chinese national team is very strong and well-known in Olympic and World Championship play, the American scene has a few stars of its own. Meet 5 table tennis players who've had more than 15 minutes of fame.

    1. Ma Long – This Chinese player is currently ranked Number 1 by the International Table Tennis Federation. He first learned how to play table tennis at the age of 5. At 18 he became the youngest player to win a world championship, playing for China on the 2006 World Team. Now at age 26, the player has several titles to his name, including the Men's Singles China National Games Champion in 2013, World Cup Men's Singles Champion in 2012 and World Tour Grand Finals Men's Champion for 2008, '09 and '11.

    2. Danny Seemiller – This American has helped put the U.S. on the table tennis map since the 1970s. He's best known for inventing one of the most popular table tennis paddle grips in the game. The two-time U.S. Olympian has won five U.S. Men's Singles Championships, and was inducted into the USA Table Tennis (USATT) Hall of Fame in 1995. He once served as the president of the U.S. Table Tennis Association, and coached the U.S. World Team in 1989. He coached the U.S. Olympic team in 2000. Seemiller, who was born on June 13, 1954, received the Mark Matthews Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. He now coaches up-and-coming table tennis players in Indiana.  

    3. David Zhuang – Born in September of 1963, Zhuang grew up in China and began his competitive career when he was 11 years old. He moved to New Jersey in 1990. This USATT Hall of Famer has appeared in three Olympic games; 1996, '00 and '08. He won a gold medal in the men's singles and team competitions in the 1999 Pan American Games. His repertoire also includes 5 U.S. Men's Singles Championship titles, 7 for U.S. Men's Doubles and 6 for U.S. Mixed Doubles. Zhuang is known for playing an attacking style close to the table.

    4. Gao Jun – Born in China in January of 1969, Jun picked up the game of table tennis when she was just five years old. She represented China in the 1992 Olympics, winning a silver medal in Women's Doubles. After moving to Maryland in 1994 and becoming a U.S. citizen, she played for the U.S. Olympic Teams in '00 and '04. Famous for her backhand block, this USATT Hall of Fame member excels in singles and doubles play. Jun has won 9 U.S. Women's Championships. She currently serves as head coach at the California Table Tennis club.

    5. Wally Green – Often called the International Ambassador of Table Tennis, Green is a professional player who enjoys serious competition, but frequently plays for fun in exhibitions and charity events. He is known for his flamboyant blond hair and energetic style of play. At age 35, the New York native is a former member of the U.S. Table Tennis team and a former USATT program director and editor. Green most recently played in the 2014 Table Tennis World Tours in Korea, China and Germany. He is a member of SPiN New York, a social table tennis club. In his spare time, Green is also a designer, hip-hop entertainer and dancer, among other things. 

  • This entry was posted in Toys on September 14, 2016

  • Swingsets have always been one of the most popular pieces of playground equipment for kids. Swinging also tends to be one of the more challenging skills for children to master. The task of teaching your child is tricky as well. It’s not until around age 5 that most children will have mastered the abilities needed to fully develop this gross motor skill; however it is never too early to start laying out the groundwork. According to experts at Baby Center children as young as 3 may be ready to start learning the basics of swinging. Once children understand how to pump their legs, swinging by themselves comes naturally. Here is a method to try with your child to help them learn to safely swing on their own.

    1. Before beginning the teaching process, let your child watch you swing so they can see the motion of pumping your legs and how your body makes the swing move back and forth.

    2. Have your child sit on the swing and grab hold of the ropes for security. Let them experiment with their balance, shifting their center of gravity and using their bodyweight to slide around to find a comfortable position.

    3. Give them a push to get started and then move to the front of the swing. Hold out your hands and stand back far enough that your hands are a few inches away from their feet.

    4. Encourage your child to pull their legs in as they move back on the downswing and extend them forward on the upswing. This in and out movement is the basic pumping motion. Challenge your child to lean back some and extend their legs when coming forward to try to touch their feet to the palms of your hands.

    5. Repeat “in and out” as they swing.  The spoken words will register with the motion and they will begin sensing the changes in momentum.

    6. As they learn that pumping their legs back and forth will make them go faster and higher teach them to slow down gradually by keeping their legs still.

    7. Once they are swinging slowly enough have them place their feet on the ground to completely stop and step down.

    As with any activity your child’s safety is number one priority. Here are a few safety tips for your children and you to take into consideration when playing on and around a swingset.

    - Give swingers enough room, do not stand or walk too close in front or behind the swingset.

    - Have a soft impact-absorbing surface underneath your swingset.

    - Only one person per swing at a time.

    - Swing only when sitting down.

    - Follow any specific directions for the weight limit and maximum number of children the equipment can support.

    - For toddlers and younger children, use swings with enclosed sides and safety bars.

    - Lower hanging swings work best so that children can get on and off safely on their own.

    - Actively supervise your children’s outdoor playtime.

    Find additional playground safety tips!