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November 30, 2022

Gingersnap Snatcher

Award-winning children’s book author Vicky Weber is collaborating with the subscription holiday box, BāKIT Box, to bring her delicious story, Gingersnap Snatcher, to life.  The exclusive holiday box ($35 plus tax and shipping) features – you guessed it – all of the ingredients to make Gingersnap cookies alongside a signed paperback copy of Gingersnap Snatcher. These boxes are available to ship nationwide.

BāKIT Box and Vicky Weber are diverse, woman-owned businesses who are proud to continue elevating the voices and creativity of minority women in baking and writing.

November 25, 2022

How I Escaped the Corporate Rat Race--and Became a Goat Farmer!

In the mid-1990s, I lived and worked in New York City. It was the start of the software explosion and the dot-com era. I worked in sales and marketing, where I sold everything from software insurance services to pharmaceutical marketing business solutions. I even peddled an artist’s wood veneer invention! I had a long career and gained lots of experience. I had my share of wins and losses, successes and failures.

In 2017, my family and I moved to the old farmlands of rural Connecticut. One of our neighbors raised goats and I was often there for their births. I fancied myself a “kid wife” and relished the opportunity to help in these tiny miracles. To clean a newborn goat and watch it struggle to stand on its wobbly legs for the first time was a peak life experience for me. It wasn’t long before we adopted our own first goat – Lambchop, a.k.a. Lambie our O.G. (Original goat). But because goats are herd animals and become very stressed when they are by themselves, we quickly added a second goat. From there, it wasn’t long before I was delivering my own goat kids!

By late 2018, my second marriage had fallen apart and we moved to a farm with 10 acres of open fields stretching out behind our house. Our little herd of goats lived the best life. They slept on our stoop or the back porch during warm nights. They browsed the yard’s perimeter and grazed in the hayfields out back. We lived in goat heaven.

When Covid hit the United States at the start of 2020, my division was dissolved just as the whole world began to shut down. It was a terrible time for anyone seeking employment, especially an executive level position. As a single mom, I was forced to jump on the unemployment bandwagon. I entered a period of flux and reevaluated my life. What did I want to be when I grew up?

I turned 50 years old that year, and my eldest child Elena turned sweet 16. These milestones, like so many others that year, were disrupted. Celebratory occasions and traditions were replaced with disappointment and disbelief. It wasn’t even safe to blow out the candles on a cake and share it with people. My daughter couldn’t get her driver’s permit on her birthday because the DMV was closed. She couldn’t even get her first job because everything else was closed. We had to come up with a new way of filling our lives and making ends meet in a Covid world.

My daughter and I put on our thinking caps and we came up with the idea of starting a business with our goats. You see, the longer we had goats, the more we became aware of their entertainment value. We realized that goats bring joy wherever they go! From frolicking babies to big, pushy, jealous adult goats, they all are extremely captivating to us. We can watch our goats for days. Most goat farmers will understand when I say that my place of purest relaxation is sitting on the pile of sweet, smelling hay, being snuggled by a herd of loving animals.

Plus, my daughter thought it would be great to bring goats to kids’ birthday parties, while I envisioned taking goats along on one of my favorite activities: hiking. My kids came up with a business name that combined both services and Got Your Goat, LLC was born!

We did hit a stumbling block when the town asked us to cease and desist because it did not consider us an essential business for operating during the pandemic. We were saved when our story was featured in the Republican American newspaper. The final line of the article quoted me saying, “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize HOPE was not essential.” The town had a change of heart!

 By the time 2021 rolled around, and the business offices started opening again, we were able to properly set up our business with the town. In February 2021 we had our first hike. It took place on Valentine’s Day with a mother-daughter team from Pelham, New York. At the conclusion of the hike, which went very well, I asked their help in marketing our business. The mother was in marketing, and she and her daughter promised to help us out in lower Westchester where they were well-connected.

Over the next six months, we probably had 100 families from Pelham come to our little farm. As parents struggled to keep their kids engaged and entertained, they were on the hunt for outdoor activities. Families from all over occupied our weekend appointment spots, and our dance cards were full to brimming. We did birthday parties in garages, in snow storms and under heaters. We surfed this period of outdoor enthusiasm. It was the perfect time to start this business.

Today, the business is still doing well and growing. Now we often bring our goats to other people rather than them coming to our farm. Our weekends are now fully booked through December into January. We spend our weekdays at schools, senior homes, and special events like annual festivals. We also continue to hold some open farm days and public hikes and will continue to do them through the winter. When possible, we also stream our births on Facebook!

Our newest offering is the “Goatgram.” Goatgrams involve 2 to 3 smaller goats who stay no more than an hour… think singing telegram without the annoying singing! A Goatgram is the perfect way to brighten up someone’s day!

Got Your Goat is a year-round operation. We believe in keeping goats and people outside, celebrating and embracing nature. As the queen of this herd, nothing makes me happier than seeing the love and socialization that visitors give our goats--and the smiles that our goats give to everyone! We believe there are still many opportunities for goats to be added to any party, event, or gathering. Our next step? How do we franchise business so that anybody with goats can get them to pay for themselves. :)

Check out Facebook : Got-Your-Goat-Parties-and-Excursions  

November 2, 2022

Brave Like Mom

She cradles my sister and me and tells us she’s sick.

Sicker than bubblegum medicine can fix.

She tries different treatments now, hoping one day they will make her feel better.

My mom is strong.

As one girl watches her mom battle illness, she sees Mom being strong, brave, and fierce on both good days and bad ones. Mom is fierce as she catches and wrestles a fish and brave as she endures needles from the doctor. The girl wants to be brave like Mom! As she worries about her mom's health, the girl realizes that bravery comes in many forms and that she can be brave too.

Brave Like Mom teaches children courage, empathy, compassion, and about female strength and endurance. It is a poignant and sensitive story about a loved one living with a chronic illness, and an important lesson about how being brave doesn't mean you aren't scared.

Monica Acker is a writer and educator. She holds a BA in creative arts and a MAT degree in childhood education. Monica is a member of SCBWI, 12x12, and Children's Book Insider. She lives in Reading, Massachusetts, with her family.

Paran Kim grew up in Seoul, South Korea, but moved to Tokyo when she was twenty to study fine art. She realized her true passion lay in making picture books and became a full-time illustrator. Paran now lives in Dresden, Germany, with her husband.

Brave Like Mom by Monica Acker and illustrated by Paran Kim (Beaming Books; November 1, 2022; ISBN: 978-1506483207; Hardcover $17.99; Ages 4-8; 32 pages)

October 12, 2022

tinyB Chocolate Launches Monster Chocolate Pops

Families looking for a fun Halloween activity have a unique new option: tinyB Monster Chocolate Pops, an at-home chocolate-popsicle making experience.This easy-to-use kit helps kids of all ages make monster, ghost, or mummy popsicles with creamy brigadeiro (Brazilian chocolate truffle) filling.  The kit contains everything needed to temper and mold chocolate popsicle shells, fill them with brigadeiro and cover them with colorful toppings, making it simple to make chocolate Halloween ghouls and let children, family, friends and co-workers express their creativity.  Kits will be available exclusively online at https://shop.tinybchocolate.com/collections/best-chocolate-making-kits 

“We’ve had such a great reception for our DIY brigadeiro kits, we decided to make a Halloween monster version,” said tinyB Chocolate founder Renata Stoica, who uses her Brazilian family recipe to make tinyB brigadeiros.  “The kits are a fun at-home activity for families and a great team-building activity in corporate settings. Besides, shouldn’t everyone know how to make a Monster Pop?!”

The one-of-a-kind popsicle kit comes with pouches of dark and white chocolate (used to make the outside of the popsicle) and 4oz of dark chocolate brigadeiro and pumpkin spice latte brigadeiro for the inside. The kit also includes an array of spooky decorative toppings like googly eyes, colorful sprinkles, nuts, popsicle sticks and a silicone popsicle mold. tinyB Monster Chocolate Pops are gluten-free and preservative-free.  Each kit makes four complete popsicles and retails for $59.

About tinyB Chocolate

San Francisco-based chocolatier tinyB Chocolate specializes in making brigadeiros, extraordinary Brazilian truffles that are adored the world over. Family-owned and operated, tinyB Chocolate makes its authentic brigadeiros fresh to order with founder Renata Stoica’s family recipe. Renata’s recipe strikes a perfect balance—avoiding the bitterness of dark chocolate or the sweetness of extra sugar. Perfect as gifts or wedding favors, tinyB brigadeiros are handcrafted, beautifully packaged and delivered within two days anywhere in the continental United States. For more information, please visit https://www.tinybchocolate.com/ and follow tinyB Chocolate on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter @tinyBchocolate. 

September 14, 2022

CHET DREAM BIG! COMPETITION RETURNS THIS SEPTEMBER; OVER $450,000 TO BE AWARDED TO CONNECTICUT STUDENTS AND SCHOOLS

Starting September 7, K-12 students have the opportunity to win up to $25,000

State Treasurer Shawn T. Wooden, Trustee of the Connecticut Higher Education Trust (CHET), today announced the dates of the 2022 CHET Dream Big! Competition. The competition will begin at 9 a.m. on September 7 and run through 11:59 p.m. on October 21. The competition is open to all Connecticut residents in grades K-12.

This year, the Dream Big! Competition prizes have increased in value. More than $450,000 in CHET 529 College Savings Plan – Direct Plan account contributions will be awarded to students in grades K-12 along with technology prizes to schools across Connecticut. Three prize-winning students will be awarded $25,000 prizes, 15 will be awarded $7,500 prizes and 240 will be awarded $500 prizes.

In addition, each school in Connecticut that is represented by at least one student entry will be eligible for a random drawing for a technology prize worth $7,500. A total of 20 schools will win a technology prize. Please see the 2022 competition official rules for more information on prize structure and awards.

To enter, students are asked to submit a drawing, short essay or video answering a question focusing on their dreams for the future (depending on their grade level group, as defined in the competition official rules). Submissions must be uploaded by 11:59 p.m. on October 21. For program details and entry process visit www.chetdreambig.com.

“September means back to school for Connecticut students, and this year it also means it’s time to Dream Big!,” said Treasurer Wooden. “I’m thrilled to play a part in the Dream Big! Competition and see what creative ideas this year’s students come up with. This competition gives students the opportunity to be creative while also thinking about their futures. Similar to our CHET 529 plan it can also help families save for future education costs, to help make those dreams come true.”

Entry instructions, official rules and additional details can be found at www.chetdreambig.com. No purchase is necessary to enter or win. Submissions must be uploaded by 11:59 p.m. on October 21, 2022.

 
About CHET

The Connecticut Higher Education Trust (CHET) direct-sold college savings plan was established in 1997 and has grown to more than $3.5 billion in assets and 132,000 accounts. Over $2.1 billion has been withdrawn from CHET accounts to help more than 57,000 students pay for college expenses. The State of Connecticut offers CHET to help families save for future higher education costs. Funds deposited into a CHET account have tax advantages and can be used at accredited colleges and universities across the country, including vocational and technical schools, and some colleges abroad. Connecticut residents are allowed to deduct 529 contributions from their state income taxes – up to $5,000 for an individual or up to $10,000 for a married couple filing jointly. Investment earnings are exempt from state and federal taxes if used for qualified educational expenses.

For more information, visit AboutCHET.com. Find us on Facebook (facebook.com/CHET529), follow us on Twitter (@CHET529) or on Instagram (@CHET529).

About Fidelity Investments

Fidelity's mission is to inspire better futures and deliver better outcomes for the customers and businesses we serve. With assets under administration of $9 .9 trillion, including discretionary assets of $3. 7 trillion as of June 30, 2022, we focus on meeting the unique needs of a diverse set of customers. Privately held for over 75 years, Fidelity employs more than 58,000 associates who are focused on the long-term success of our customers. For more information about Fidelity Investments, visit https://www.fidelity.com/about­fidelity/our-company.

The Connecticut Higher Education Trust (CHET) 529 College Savings Plan - Direct Plan is offered by the Treasurer of the state of Connecticut and managed by Fidelity Investments. If you or the designated beneficiary is not a Connecticut resident, you may want to consider, before investing, whether your state or the beneficiary's home state offers its residents a plan with alternate state tax advantages or other state benefits such as financial aid, scholarship funds and protection from creditors.​

Please carefully consider the plan's investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses before investing. For this and other information on any 529 college savings plan managed by Fidelity, contact Fidelity for a free Fact Kit or view one online. Read it carefully before you invest or send money.

Units of the portfolios are municipal securities and may be subject to market volatility and fluctuation.

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September 8, 2022

CT Kids and Family Car Seat Safety Tips

A recent survey from trusted car seat brand, Chicco, found that nine in ten parents (89%) have family road trips planned in 2022, meaning increased car time for baby. With that in mind, car seat safety and proper use has never been more important.

Some tips!

  • Comfort and safety go hand-in-hand: A recent Chicco survey found that nearly all (99%) parents cited child comfort as important to car seat safety, and they are correct. With a previous Chicco study finding that 42% of children spend 4+ hours in the car each week, not only does child comfort make for a smoother car ride, but it also helps to keep children seated in the correct position in their car seat. Chicco continues to innovate to provide options that fit family’s needs with fabric including ClearTex and Adapt technology. To find what car seat is best for your child, check out resources like this “How To Choose A Car Seat” guide.

 

  • Seek resources when installing a car seat: During the pandemic, Chicco found that 75% of parents had to install their child's car seat by themselves, without the help of a professional, while 49% relied upon information found online. Proper car seat use is critical to child safety and parents can look to resources like the QR code found on the OneFit ClearTex to instantly access videos on how to securely and properly install a car seat.

 

  • ·Look for these elements when researching a car seat: Choosing a car seat can be a big responsibility and Chicco found that car seats (49%) topped the list with parents spending the most time researching among baby products. While many may not know where to start when it comes to car seats, the top three features parents should look out for are ease of install, child comfort, and child fit.
August 19, 2022

Lovebox

This is so much fun! 

It’s important we find ways to stay in touch with our kids when they return to school. Good thing Lovebox is the perfect gift for staying connected! The messaging device is an excellent way for your child to let you know they got off the bus or are home. It also can work the other way where you could send them an encouraging or thoughtful message like “Good job today! Treats in the fridge.” 

While you can argue we can text our loved ones daily, a text can only do so much and isn’t as much fun or meaningful! Lovebox connects to Wi-Fi to receive short messages, videos, photos, or drawings through the free iOS and Android app. The spinner attached to the front of the box spins like a pinwheel when the box receives the message and continues until the lid is lifted to reveal the loving note on display. Each Lovebox comes with a red heart spinner, but there’s a range of colorful heart spinners and incredible bundles, that can match a personality or mood. You can see them at Lovebox.Love

.

August 5, 2022

We love Warmies

Warmies is line of fully heatable aromatherapy stuffed animals and wellness items. All Warmies products contain real dried French lavender sourced from local growers in Provence, France, and all-natural grain filling to provide the perfect weight and sensory experience.

They are super cute gifts for any occasion but are also helpful for easing anxiety and help promote better sleep (back to school is around the corner!). They are fully microwavable incredibly comfy and safe for all ages. Just heat in the microwave for 60 seconds and enjoy up to an hour of warmth (even longer when they are snuggled under the covers!).

They are on Amazon and have their own affiliate program as well.  These make unique baby shower gifts too! https://warmies.com/collections/my-first.

We loved them so much they are offering a discount code for CT Kids and Family followers!!

Discount code for 15% off - CTFAMILY_15 for your readers 

July 20, 2022

Blitz Champz, #1 Football and Math Card Game, Created by Female Football Star Adrienne Smith

Blitz Champz, a fun and educational football-themed card game for kids 7 and up that blends the excitement of football with critical math skills.  The game has been adopted by schools and educational programs, and has been utilized by some NFL teams and NFL FLAG as a fun and effective learning tool for kids. The game features a diverse lineup of male and female players, and is easy to learn in two minutes or less.

Blitz Champz is a fun and competitive card game that teaches and tests football knowledge, strategy, and critical math skills. Created by Adrienne Smith, Boston Renegades Wide Receiver, football advocate and spokesperson, and entrepreneur, Blitz Champz emphasizes the importance of learning critical math skills while having fun.

The game features 100 vibrantly-illustrated playing cards characterizing a diverse lineup of male and female players. A selected product at Walmart’s 2018 Annual Open Call Event, and a 2017 National Parenting Product Awards (NAAPA) winner, Blitz Champz is a simple way to bring the magic of football, math skills and fun into kids’ lives, and into schools, homes and communities. Today, Adrienne Smith is one of the best-performing wide receivers in women’s football history, having won two gold medals and five national championships in women’s tackle football. This year, the veteran wide receiver also set a new all-time record for receiving yards (5,093) in the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA).

The New England Patriots have said of Adrienne, “She cannot be stopped,” and the Times Union has called her “The face of women in football.”

July 11, 2022

PhysioForma Soft Silicone Pacifier

Finally, a paci that soothes babies and parents too. The PhysioForma™ Soft Silicone Orthodontic Pacifier is backed by science to actively support breathing and oral development.

All PhysioForma™ pacifiers are designed to help position baby’s tongue forward to maintain an open airway. This exclusive nipple design was developed, tested, and approved in partnership with an advisory panel of leading neonatologists, pediatricians, and orthodontists. The one-piece PhysioForma™ Soft Silicone pacifiers also adhere to the guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Baby approved too. Accepted by 9 out of 10 babies.

For baby’s oral development, the orthodontic nipple guides tongue placement to evenly distribute pressure across the palate. The narrow base allows for optimal lip closure, supporting proper development of the palate and teeth.

For baby’s comfort, the nipple is an extra-soft silicone with a satin-textured finish to help keep the paci in baby’s mouth for uninterrupted soothing. The soft shield of this paci is comfortable and breathable. Ventilation holes promote air circulation, helping to reduce moisture buildup on baby’s soft, sensitive skin. The soft handle of this one-piece construction pacifier is big enough for baby to grab and easy to attach to a cute paci holder.

Available in three sizes: 0-6m, 6-16m, and 16-24m. Reusable, sterilizing carry case included.

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