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Based in New York City, Monk's Trunk sells high quality, gently used children's clothing (sizes 0 to 8), as well as books and toys. Got things you want to sell? We pay in cash, up to 40% for clothing and up to 60% for toys/gear after an item sells. Or, for those who don't want to wait, we pay 25% for items we buy outright. Details here.


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Grown-up gift idea: Acme Novelty Library by Chris Ware

Chris-ware-acmeOccasionally when ordering overstock children's books I'll come across a title that hasn't even the remotest connection to children's literature and yet I can't help myself from ordering it. Such is the the case with this Acme Novelty Library collection by a graphic novelist I consider the greatest artist of our generation, Chris Ware.

If you're familiar with his work, this isn't really the place to convert you. But for those who know/care, we've got a few copies of this gorgeous book - new and shrinkwrapped - for $7 (list price: $27.50).



Off-Topic: Personal thoughts on our local (District 17) public elementary schools

Visitors to the store are always asking me about the public elementary schools in our neighborhood, Prospect Lefferts Gardens. I'm very far from an expert; my kid is only 3 and I have little direct experience with any of the schools. But I thought it might be helpful to jot down what I do know, in the hopes that it might help a few parents who are interested.

I'll be frank: District 17 isn't exactly known for having great schools. Few college-educated professionals in our neighborhood send their kids to the local zoned schools; they either go to private school or to public schools outside not only the zone but the district. There are many parents in the neighborhood who are interested in putting in time to help improve the schools but the movement lacks the organization to reach critical mass. Without that critical consensus, parents continue to fend for themselves, finding spots in schools all over Brooklyn. But if a bunch of parents decided to roll up their sleeves and commit to a school, what are their options? Here are my highly subjective thoughts below.

Continue reading "Off-Topic: Personal thoughts on our local (District 17) public elementary schools" »


Off-topic: the Marshmallow Test

I was talking to someone in the store the other day who hadn't heard of the marshmallow test. So here you go. All of our preschoolers would be better off if, instead of worrying about teaching ABCs and numbers to 2, 3 and 4 year olds, we better prepared them to pass the marshmallow test.



Off-topic: If you live in Lefferts Gardnes, please come out to the DOT meeting Tues. night (12/5)

Apologies for the off-topic post but tomorrow night there will be an extremely important public meeting with the DOT to discuss the Parkside & Ocean Ave intersection (near the Parkside subway stop). Everyone who uses the Parkside subway -- or who enters Prospect Park at that corner -- should care about this issue, particularly those with small children. A loose group of parents in Prospect Lefferts Gardens have been working to make this corner of Prospect Park safer for everyone to access. You can help by coming and showing your support -- community support (and numbers) are vital!

For more info about this issue, click here.

Tuesday, December 6th
6:30 - 8:30 pm
Calvary Pentecostal Church
151 Woodruff Avenue (@ E. 21st St.)
One block S. of Parkside Avenue, btwn. Ocean & Flatbush Aves.


Welcome Neena Theresa!

PhotoHurray, I'm an aunt again! Welcome Neena Theresa Peter, born November 25 to my half-brother Ben and his wife, Laura. Everyone is well and we are very, very excited, particularly little Sid, who now has a future partner-in-mischief.


Alternate verses to "The Wheels on the Bus"

My brother-in-law Steven wrote a few verses specifically for the subway:

The tourists on the train go 'Where's my stop?"
The hippies on the train go puff, puff, pass
The school kids on the train go "Buy my snacks."
The hobos on the train ask "Food or change?"
The hipsters on the train go (sigh) (sigh) sigh)
The toddlers on the train go "mine mine mine."
No one on the train says "Take my seat."



NYTimes on reusable lunch bags

Reusies There's a nice story in the Times this weekend about a growing trend of schools requesting that parents pack school lunches in reusable containers instead of disposible plastic. Two things worth noting: one, while the environmental benefit is obviously part of the effort, another motivating factor is the need for schools to reduce waste. Less trash = less expense and, ultimately, more money for teaching. Another motivator in here is the power of social pressure or, to be blunt, shame. Shame has a bad rep but it can also be channeled into social good.

We sell reusable lunch bags here at the store. And we offer only reusable bags for customers who make purchases, but I'm not convinced that the reusable  bags themselves offer a net gain for the environment -- that depends too much on how many times the bags are used in place of disposables. They are (at least in the case of the ones we carry) more environmentally taxing that thin disposables, so if they are only used once or twice it's a loss.

The real benefit comes from the slow-burn of changing mindsets, of getting people to be more conscious of their waste. So, sure, we have some customers who keep forgetting to bring bags and collecting reusables. But for every one of those we have probably 5 or 6 who generally rely on disposable bags but have learned to either bring their own or who have come to accept going without. Not so bad, right?

For School Lunches, Hold the Plastic (New York Times)


Too Much Information

Potty-training Thanks to those customers who listened to me bitch and moan about our potty-training woes over the past couple of days… and to those who graciously disregarded the moment when Sid peed in the back corner of the store, then whipped off his pants.

By way of background: we went cold turkey and switched from Pampers' pull-ups (which we found to be pointless for potty training purposes) to cotton training pants three days ago. For naps and nighttime, we've been putting a diaper on over normal underwear.

I would like to report that on day 3 we seem to have unlocked the key to my toddler's little reptilian brain: bribery. We made him a little chart and he gets a scratch-n-sniff sticker (note: product placement) whenever he sits on the potty. The chart and the stickers he very much enjoys. But the REAL motivator is the fact that we'll give him something we never give him otherwise if he actually does his business: candy. In fact, we were heading for another day of batting 1 for 8 when we brought out the yogurt-covered raisins. Pretty much all I needed to do was tell him he'd get 2 candies if he went in the potty!

Of course it could all go to hell tomorrow when Mr. Leaky Bottoms decides that he doesn't like yogurt raisins or insists on cold, hard cash. But just the fact that he was able to consciously control himself was a huge breakthrough. Now maybe we'll only have 5 or 6 pair of shorts at the end of the day instead of 7 or 8. Fingers crossed!


Toddler Tee Math

I was thumbing through an Old Navy circular the other day and a t-shirt of a giraffe wearing headphones caught my eye. Wait, haven't I seen that before?


And then Charles reminded me of the Gap chimp-wearing-headphones shirt that we got for Sid.


Petition: No Ads on New York School Buses

School-bus-ads For many years, New York has had a ban on advertising on city school buses but the powers that be are now considering legislation that would overturn this ban. This is a terrible idea for many reasons but if you need proof all you need to do is look at the school districts that have experimented with this kind of commercialism: the advertising ends up bringing in very little money and the money it does bring in gives legislators an opening to cut school budgets even further. The schools then need to bring in even MORE commercials until they get to the point where M&M posters grace the classroom walls and math textbooks questions involve adding and subtracting Oreo cookies.

Sign the petition here:
No Ads on New York School Buses

More info from the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood