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VOLTA by Cirque Du Soleil
I've been harping on about "rewriting your stars" for about a month now. The Greatest Showman has become the new Frozen in my house. When a big top tent arrived at the Meadowland's Racing and Entertainment in East Rutherford, I knew we had to see what was going on inside of it.
The VOLTA set has an absolute life of its own, and from the moment you take your seat, you know you are about to see something special. The audience has a 240-degree view of the stage, so there is not a bad seat in the house (this is pretty important when you're taking little kids somewhere).
The show opens with wild acrobatic rope skipping, and my kids sat in stunned, wide-eyed, silence from that point on. The performers fly through the air and backflip all over the place the entire time. In fact, there is no downtime (except for the 25-minute intermission). The lighting and music are gorgeous, and draw you into the show. The costumes are total perfection.
We would've been content just to see the oh so bendy acrobats, and performers do their thing, but Volta is so much more than that.
The show tells a story of transformation and self-discovery. Waz, the main character, is unique and continuously judged by others. He enters a game show in search of acceptance and freedom, but what he learns is that those things come from inside. In the end, he learns to accept himself for who he is, and that's a message that every parent (or not) can get behind.
My son was too little to understand the plot, but it hit my daughter perfectly. In fact, no one is too young or old for this show. It is a magnificent and engaging experience for everyone. I watched grown-ups totally lose it as the artists perfectly executed their stunts. I don't even want to tell you too much about what those stunts are because the element of surprise might indeed be the best part of the entire thing.
VOLTA by Cirque Du Soleil is running in the Meadowlands until May 6th. After that, it will head over to Uniondale, NY, so you still have time to check it out.
Seriously go. I am confident you will be as captivated as I was.
National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey
When I was about eight years old and living in the desert, I dreamed of being a Marine Biologist one day. A few years later, I moved to the East Coast and learned that boats make me vomit and that I am also pretty scared of the ocean.
National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey is the perfect solution! It is an entirely immersive experience that sends you on an unbelievable undersea journey from the South Pacific all the way to the coast of California. Grammy and Emmy Award-winning artists use digital technology to put you face to face with the most fantastic sea creatures. Let me tell you, this place is NOT a museum or an aquarium. It is something uniquely its own, and I have never seen anything like it.
Despite being a crowded Saturday, this place was super organized. We were led through the experience in a small, spaced out group. As soon as my family reached the first room, I knew this was going to be something special. It was floor to ceiling ocean! The absolute feeling of wonder was not just for the kids. Part of the tour was a bioluminescence room, and it was by far my favorite. The entire place glowed around us, and my three-year-old couldn't get enough of the floor responding to his every movement. Ever wonder what it would sound like at the bottom of the ocean in the pitch black of the night?? Yeah, that is the stuff nightmares are made of for me, but I got to hear it here from the safety of land. I was awestruck.
We got up close with more species of animals than I can count, including 20-foot long sharks, a 50-foot Humpback whale, interactive sea lions, and a pair of battling Humboldt squids which were not shy about showing us all 40,000 of their razor sharp teeth (shudder). We journeyed through a coral reef, and I found out that it was made up of 1,300 photos taken in the Solomon Islands. In the magnificent bait ball scene, 120,000 fish made an appearance all around us.
Once we came up for air, we got to learn about our experience in Exploration Hall. We pledged to take action to make a difference in ocean conservation. Through a series of multimedia screens, real-life marine biologists shared their passion for the ocean with us. We also got to take a picture that was on their Times Square billboard!
A portion of the proceeds from each ticket purchase at National Geographic Encounter helps to support National Geographic Society’s nonprofit work in conservation, exploration, research, and education. It is well worth it. To learn more about what they do, visit www.natgeo.com/info.
This adventure is one that my family won't soon forget, and I am pretty excited about the fact that I didn't even need to take a Dramamine to share it with them. We loved every part of it. If you are itching to do something you've never done before, you need to check this place out.
Events that are too good not to share =)
4/8- Elizabeth Mitchell & Suni Paz at the Brooklyn Folk Festival BROOKLYNFOLKFEST.COM
Tú Eres Mi Flor is a beautiful an album of well-known American folk songs sung in Spanish. Both Spanish- and English-speaking children will have a blast singing along to these jams. My favorite is Three Little Birds. This dynamic duo believes that music is a language enjoyed by all, I agree!
4/22 - Hopalong Andrew at the Jewish Museum! Special Earth Day Show https://thejewishmuseum.org/calendar/events/2018/04/22/family-concert-hopalong-andrew-042218
See Hopalong Andrew at an all-ages Earth Day performance at The Jewish Museum on April 22, 2018. He is "city folk meets cowboy life" and so much fun. Rumor has it he can even lasso a cab!
4/29- Billy Kelly's Family Comedy Show at the Jalopy in Brooklynhttp://shop.jalopytheatre.org/category-s/100.htm
Grammy-nominated artist Billy Kelly is coming to the city to perform a family-friendly acoustic show that the entire family will think is hilarious. My friends at Zooglobble have called him the “Funniest Person In Kids Music." See for yourself!
The Story Pirates are stopping by Northern New Jersey. I've already talked about how much I love them, and they are making their way to Bergen PAC on 4/28. Join them at 1 pm or 3 pm. This show is an absolute must-see! http://www.storypirates.com/buy-tickets
My article is on RedTricycle! I am so excited to share it.
Easter Treats Too Sweet to Eat
I’ve mentioned it before, but my son has multiple food allergies that make Easter and other “traditionally candy” days a little tricky. I’ve gotten good at finding him treats that are non-food related, but it took some practice at first. Here is a list of my top five Easter treats and some links where you can make them your own.
1) My kids love anything that hatches out of an egg. Brody carries the thing around in a mason jar until it comes out and gets so excited about it. I found these cute chicks here:
If dinosaurs are more like it:
2) Eggnots make coloring Easter eggs safe for people who are allergic or vegan. They are realistic and last forever! Your kids will be able to gift them to people or save them year to year. Even better, you won't have that stinky egg smell in your fridge. You can find them here:
3) Don't hate me, SLIME eggs. If you've ever scrubbed slime out of the carpet before, you know how annoying it is. They love it though!
4) Play-doh eggs never really get old for my kids. They're the perfect little thing to gift on Easter. You can pretty much find them anywhere, but here is one of the links I found:
5) Lastly, you need to check out my friends at www.talkformetees.com! They sell the most stylish little t-shirts that empower kids (and their grownups) to advocate for themselves and their food allergies. That all sounds super serious, and it is, but you need to see how seriously cute these t's are. They have also created stuffed service dogs that are flying off their site! They are too sweet, and the perfect little Easter gift. This week we are partnered up and giving away a $25 gift certificate to their website. To get your name in the random drawing, all you have to do is visit one of our social media sites for details. Mine are linked above!
Facebook: Talk For Me Tees
I’ve been trying to figure out how to sum up the feelings I have about my favorite place on Earth; I’ll do the best I can…
Dan and I went on our honeymoon to Cabo, and a series of bizarre events lead to us redoing the whole thing in Jamaica. I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason, and this situation was no different. We fell in love with the island on that trip, and we’ve been coming back to visit ever since.
Our first trip there with 17-month-old Chloe brought us to Beaches in Ocho Rios, and we found our perfect getaway. They tell us we are “Jamericans” now, and I feel it. The warmth of the island is all around you from the minute you step off the plane. This is why we've chosen to bring our kids back again and again. Each vacation here has that same familiar feel, but is filled with unique moments. Maybe the best part is that you can customize the exact trip each member of your family needs all in one place.
The resort itself is small, private, beautiful, clean and comfortable. It is the perfect place to have “no worries” about strollers and lugging things around for miles. No matter where your room is, it will be close to one of the three pools or beach. There are seven restaurants, and one of them is always open. The chefs personally greet my food allergic son, and I will never be able to adequately express how much this means to me (without crying enormous tears of gratitude). There are also six bars that are always available for smoothies, shakes, cocktails and exclusive mocktails for the even the littlest of guests. (Shout out to Henry who makes the best signature drink!)
The entertainment staff is amazing. They work so incredibly hard to ensure that everyone is having fun. Every night they offer a Sesame Street show for the little ones and a family show in the evening. We always book a character bedtime tuck in for one of the nights that we are there.
A top-rated kids camp is available, but little guests are welcome to drop in for specific activities. Mine love making tie-dye shirts by the pool and baking cookies with Cookie Monster. Other amenities include a water park, lawn games, and tennis/basketball courts. There is also a craft studio and x box lounge. The Red Lane Spa offers all types of services, but I love their facials. The beach has everything from comfortable water hammocks to water sports. You can be just as relaxed or adventurous as you choose to be.
If you are looking for a spectacular place to spend time with your family, this is my #1. I can’t wait to visit my island home away from home again.
Come back next week to take a look at my favorite island excursions!
In the meantime, you can check out www.islandroutes.com. We use them for all of our bookings, and they do an excellent job of keeping everything organized and comfortable for their guests!
Spring is on the way, but Broadway is FROZEN!
I spent most of 2013 with the WORST all day long morning sickness. This presented me with a slew of issues, but the worst was I wasn't able to do as much for my (then) four-year-old as I was used to doing. This seriously broke my heart. Enter Frozen.
I remember having a particularly horrendous day of sick. Dan and I decided we'd take Chloe to see the new movie that everyone was talking about. At the least, I figured we'd be spending time together, and I wouldn't have to speak through nausea.
Anyway, we all loved it. Of course, I hormonally cried my face off thinking about the unconditional bond of family, and we all enjoyed the songs and characters. Chloe and I went to see the movie at least two more times after that. I am pretty sure that Elsa and Anna got us through the rest of my pregnancy! After many of our own kitchen performances, I told Chloe that we'd see it on Broadway one day. Last weekend I finally got to keep my promise to her!
Frozen is currently in previews at the St. James Theatre. All of the original songs are there with the addition of more than ten new ones. They're pretty great, but I will admit I was partial to the ones I already knew. The first half of the show was way darker than I expected it to be but very similar to the movie. The only real difference was that the family doesn't visit trolls, but "Hidden Folk" (who dressed and acted very much like the movie trolls) come to see them instead. The first act closes with "Let it Go" and is one of the best parts of the show. The smile on my daughter's face made the whole day for me. (Full disclosure: She claimed to be too old for Frozen on the way to the theatre. She was not.)
The second act was pretty different. It opened with a sort of weird "nude" kickline at the Wandering Oaken's. It was funny but oddly placed in the story. There is no snow monster scene, but instead, a scene where Elsa sings about being a "Monster". I liked the song, but the message of her feeling tortured by herself is repeated a few too many times for the younger crowd that happened to be EVERYWHERE (and in costume) at the show. My favorite part was the new song "Colder by the Minute" where the very talented cast actually freezes in place before the big ending. Don't worry; I won't spoil it for you.
One thing I can say with certainty is the cast was terrific. The young Elsa and Anna were as phenomenal as the adults. The ensemble cast, including Sven and Olaf, was impressive. Their singing and dancing gave light and happiness to a story that could have come off as really dark and depressing. I would love to see if there are any changes to the production when it is through with previews. If they want to have me back, I wouldn't say no! (wink, wink!)
Frozen officially opens March 22, 2018
Happy Read Across America!
It's Read Across America Week! Reading out loud to your children is the single best way to make them better readers. When you read to your kids, you are exposing them to new vocabulary words and grammar patterns. Reading is not only a fun way to spend time together but a way to help your kids develop into more fluent, successful readers. Find a text that you both can relate to and use it as a gateway for meaningful conversation. Encourage them to make connections to books and to practice empathizing with characters. They will look forward to spending that time with you each day.
You can do the same thing with writing! Santa brought Chloe The Big Life Journal for Christmas this year. We finally got to it last month, and both fell in love. The Big Life Journal is a guided journal that allows children to develop a growth mindset. It encourages them to use the power of their minds and to recognize their own unique potential. Over the course of 26 weeks, you read through stories of people who persevere through challenges. Through a series of engaging, fun and meaningful prompts, kids write their way to better self-awareness. The journal even has the child choose a partner to write with (YOU)! We both love doing this. It is SO motivational and loaded with life lessons we can both appreciate. Check it out at the link above!
Things to do this President's Weekend
(I am having some crazy tech issues with my links!)
Saturday, February 17th-
The Queen's Botanical Garden is having their Lunar New Year Celebration. From 12-4, guests can celebrate the Year of the Dog with crafts, performances and a beautiful plant sale.
This Saturday The Story Pirates are having their flagship show at The Pearl Theater. If you've never seen them, you really need to. The short of it is that these amazingly talented improv comedians take stories written by children and perform them as hilarious sketches. Going to these shows is seriously one of my favorite things to do with my family. We all laugh our faces off every single time. Guess what? You can use the code BORING for $10 tickets to their show!
Sunday, February 18th-
The super talented Falu (https://www.falumusic.com/music) is releasing her first album for kids this week. Falu's Bazaar is a musical journey that will take you through South Asian culture and beyond. It is seriously so much fun. What better way to celebrate than with a traditional Holi festival at Joe's Pub?? Get your tickets ($15) at https://joespub.publictheater.org/Tickets/Calendar/PlayDetailsCollection/Joes-Pub/2018/F/Falus-Bazaar/?SiteTheme=JoesPu=[
Joe's Pub- 425 Lafayette S., New York, NY
February 18th-February 24th-
Kid's Week at The Intrepid Museum- They have so much planned for this event, and the days are divided up by interest. The 18th and 19th are sports and games days, the 20th and 21st are arts and music days, and the 22nd-24th are dedicated to science and nature. Just take a look at their schedule to see what interests you!
Monday, February 19th-
MEET ABE!!! WHAT?! I seriously love this. From 11-4 you can visit the Children's Museum at New-York Historical Society on the Upper West Side and hear about what life was like at the White House by President Lincoln portrayed by Howard Wright. Guess what?? There is even a teacher discount! (SCORE!!) Visit nyhistory.org/childrens-museum for all the details.
Michael and the Rockness Monsters will be performing a live show at The Woodland in Maplewood, NJ at 11:00. Their shows are brimming with energy and a nonstop party for parents and kids alike. We have been watching them perform since the beginning, and we are always impressed. You'll leave the show singing their incredibly catchy, fun tunes.
Coming up soon...
See The Pop-Ups at The Jewish Museum on February 25th! If you've never seen them before, you need to. Their high energy shows are hilarious, engaging and incredibly creative. Join the "Great Pretenders Club" today!
Do Your Ears Need a Hug??????
Well, I have a song for you!! If you're not already listening to Andrew and Polly, you really need to start. The duo also produces and hosts one of our favorite podcasts, Ear Snacks! Their newest song has arrived just in time for Valentine's Day. "Let My Love Open the Door" is the most impressive (my daughter's exact word) cover of Pete Townshend's 80's classic. This song has joined our family dance party rotation and is just perfect for celebrating the ones you love tonight. The world needs all the love it can get! Happy Valentine's Day!
Valentine's Day is tomorrow, so I thought it was a good time to mention an app that I LOVE. Kids Listen is a grassroots organization that is dedicated to providing high-quality entertainment for kids and their families. There are more than 40podcasts in this organization, so there is something for everyone to enjoy! This week the group is cross-promoting member podcasts using the hashtag #allkindsoflove. Download the app today!
Valentines of the Non-Chocolate Kind
Valentine's Day is next week, and it is one of my favorite days of the year. I really love the idea of celebrating the people we love with little surprises! With my son having so many food allergies, I've had to get creative about how we celebrate in our house.
Here are 10 of my favorite examples of Non- Food Treats (and their matching puns) for your own kids or class parties!
1) Glowsticks- You "light" up my world!
2) Slime (every kid's favorite)- Valen-slime Day!
3) Play-doh- "Doh"n't forget I love you!
4) Pen flowers- (Use washi tape to wrap a pen and fake flower together.) - You're the WRITE friend for me!
5) Coloring ANYTHING (crayons, paint, markers, etc.)- You color my world!
6) Friendship bracelets- Thank you for being a friend!
7) Sunglasses- Shine BRIGHT Valentine!
8) Bubbles- You make my heart POP!
9) Bouncy balls- My heart is BOUNCING for you!
And this year...
10) We made tic tac toe boards for the class. OK, that's a lie... I ordered them on Groopdealz from Party On! Designs, and we cut them out to put in little bags. We included little X and O cutouts too! So cute!
Groopdealz has TONS of great things to buy every day! You should totally check them out if you haven't already. I basically order everything from their site! Party On! Designs also has their own website if you would like to check them out.
This Weekend Feb. 3-4th
Winter blues?? This weekend get out of the cold with a 2 for 1 NYC museum day! It is Must-See Week, and participating museums and tours are offering discounted tickets. https://www.nycgo.com/must-see-week
Skylands Stadium is holding their annual Frozen in Ice Wild West extravaganza all month long. It features 100 tons of frozen fun! Your family can brave two ice slides and work their way through the indoor ice maze. Try out a drink at the ice bar or grab a smores kit and head outside to the fire pits. http://skylandsstadium.com/frozen-in-ice-wild-west/
So there is this excellent game that you can play online called Geoguessr. One of my students showed it to me, and I've been playing it with them for a few minutes each day. Basically, you are dropped off at a mystery location, and you have to guess where in the world you are by examining the 360-degree view around you. It is so much fun. It got me thinking, not only about how big our universe is but about how crazy it is that so many places have scenery doppelgangers.
Stowe, VT is one of those places. Lying between Mount Mansfield and the Green Mountains, Stowe could easily pass for Austria. Not that I've ever been to Austria, but the famous musical Von Trapp family (you know, Sound of Music?) settled here for just that reason in the 1940's. The place is just breathtaking. You can actually choose to stay at their family lodge if you visit. https://www.trappfamily.com
We decided to stay at the Green Mountain Inn, and I am so glad that we did. The big selling point for me was the heated outdoor pool for cool weather swimming and the ghost! That's right, the ghost. Boots Berry supposedly haunts the Green Mountain Inn, but we didn't run into him during our visit (his story http://greenmountaininn.com/about-the-inn/our-history/the-legend-of-boots-berry-and-the-green-mountain-inn/).
The area has a ton of locations to practice your winter sports skills, but if you're not into that, there are still plenty of things to do. Nearby you can find the Ben and Jerry factory and the Green Mountain Coffee museum. The area is also the number one maple sugaring spot in the entire country. Stowe has something to offer its visitors in every season. I recommend checking out their website at https://www.gostowe.com to find the perfect time of year to visit with your own family. I promise you won't be disappointed.
Also, try out Geoguessr https://geoguessr.com with your kids. It's a fun way to see the world from the comfort of your living room.
Greetings from Virus-land!
*I am sad to say that the entire family will be in this weekend. We are all too sick for adventuring.
Please check back on 2/1/18 for some fabulous things to do with your family.
PS. Both Central Park AND Bryant Park are having winter festivals this weekend.
Not What I expected from a "Simple Sponge"!
Who knew that a musical about the apocalypse could be so heartwarming and hilarious? I fully didn't expect this show to be one of the best that I have ever seen. Based on the hit cartoon that first aired on Nickelodeon in 1999, this show surely has mass appeal. Fans and non-fans alike will both be delighted by this party for your senses.
First of all, the set is AMAZING. It's colorful and cartoony, but not in a way that you'd expect it to be. We were awestruck from the second we saw the Palace Theatre stage and knew that we were about to see something extraordinary. The theatre truly transports you to Bikini Bottom, Spongebob's under the sea home, in the most magical of ways.
Right off the bat, you become part of his world. The entire show has an element of audience participation that is not overdone or forced, but that drives the plot and helps you to care about the sweet, lovable characters. Of course, there are all of the characters you'd expect, but NONE of them are wearing giant foamy costumes or big plush heads. They are actual humans that are so entirely animated, you find yourself forgetting they are real-life people. In fact, their energy is limitless throughout the entire 2 1/2 hour show. The cast is just perfection, and their costumes are spot on.
The music is my favorite part of the entire experience. The score was created by amazing artists such as Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Sara Bareilles, John Legend, and David Bowie. Be warned; there is no "bathroom break" song in this show. Each number is perfectly choreographed and not to be missed! We've all been singing these songs for days now.
I definitely do not want to spoil the show by detailing the plot for you, but all I can say is it will hit home for both children and adults. Bikini Bottom is threatened by a natural disaster, and this memorable cast of characters must save it or get out. The show manages to touch on some weighty topics without being too serious. The message it delivers, in the end, is one that both parents and their kids can appreciate.
All I can say is, go see this show with your family. We wound up getting our tickets a few weeks ago using the 2-for-1 deal offered for Broadway Week. That deal is currently running through February 4th with the code "BWAYWK". The show is also participating in Kids' Night on Broadway (February 27, 2018). For more details on Kids' Night and Spongebob Squarepants the Broadway Musical, check out the links below.
Weekend Fun 1.19.18
It's NYC Broadway Week from January 16th-February 4th. Get 2 for 1 tickets to some really great shows using the code "BWAYWK". We are checking out Spongebob the Musical with this great deal!
Today on Groupon, there are discounted tickets to Liberty Science Center! You can also get an additional $5 off using the code "off" at checkout.
Nothing gives me a greater winter thrill than watching 2/4ths of my family fly down a mountain. Since we will be bringing my son for his first try this year, I decided to check out the area's "learn to ski" options.
First up, Campgaw located in Mahwah, NJ. Campgaw is the most accessible place for us to get to for a few hours on the weekend or after school. This was my daughter's first place ever to try skiing. It is a smaller spot, but perfect for a family to visit. There are two chair lifts with 12 available runs and three magic carpet areas for kids to practice their "French fry/pizza" skills. They offer group lessons and privates that are both wonderful. You must reserve lessons ahead of time because it gets CRAZY crowded on the weekend. If you are renting equipment, make sure to give yourself at least an hour before your scheduled lesson. Prices for lessons range from $39-$89 depending on the age of the student. There is an additional charge for rentals and weekends are more expensive than weekdays. See their website below for all of the details.
If you're looking for more of a getaway situation, you could try Hunter Mountain or Windham (each about 2 hours from NY). Both have lovely lodging available as well.
Hunter offers 45 trails and 5 different lifts. This month they have a promotion for a free lift ticket with the purchase of a ski/snowboard lesson. Their ski school has their very own carpet lift, so students get the maximum amount of time on the slopes. There is also a dedicated rental area for the ski school so that you won't have a long wait for equipment. The group lessons are 2 hours long and include a daily lift ticket all for $85. There is also a full day option that consists of 4 hours of lessons, lunch, snack and a lift ticket for $125.
I love Windham. The town is super cute, and the lodge is beautiful. With more than 50 trails and over 12 lifts, there is something for everyone here. They offer lessons for kids ages 3 and up. Prices and times vary depending on the age of the child and type of experience, but packages start at $70. Their half day program includes instruction, indoor activities, and a snack!
Not really into any of this? All of these places offer really fun snow tubing options too!
Blue Cross Riverrink Winterfest- Philadelphia
This past weekend we visited a real-life winter wonderland. The Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest is the largest outdoor skating rink in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, the skating rink was badly damaged in Friday's big rainstorm, so it wasn't up and running for our visit. This should have been a HUGE upset to our weekend, but we were still able to have such a magical night. The winter park itself is beautifully lit and so cozy. There is a welcoming Lodge area that makes you feel like you are being transported to a toasty warm ski chalet out of the city. It has an adorable wrap around porch with rocking chairs and heat lamps that the kids enjoyed. Inside there are food and beverages (Chickie and Petes= YUM) for purchase as well as electric fireplaces, couches, gathering tables and some extra-large floor games to play. We just happened to be there for "Snowie Bowie" skate night, so there were free face painters as well.
The Kids Lodge is a smaller area with a lot of arcade games and coin-operated rides for the little ones. Pizza is available, and it was the perfect place for the kids to play and run around together. Apparently, they even host birthday parties!
Outside of both lodges, there is a whole warming area complete with fire pits and charming cabins for rent (make sure you reserve yours in advance as they book up fast). There is also a dessert stand where you can purchase s'more kits and hot chocolate.
The rink is open every day, including all holidays, until March 4, 2018. Check out their website for a complete list of events and daily activities. This upcoming weekend (Jan 20-21) is Brewfest at the lodge. It is sure to be an excellent time for everyone!
Sunday Funday 1.14.18
Mayers Consulting will be hosting an All-Ages Music Showcase this Sunday, January 14 at Rockwood Music Hall. There will be nine incredible family musicians performing between 12 pm and 4. It will surely be a feel-good, high energy party for everyone! Check out https://www.facebook.com/events/1705753622778463/ for more information.
The World is Yours (and you don't even need to leave home to see it!)
Winter is warming up around here, and we are getting excited about our February break! If you’re not exactly ready to get outside, Little Passports might be the perfect solution.
Little Passports: World Edition, is a monthly box subscription that is designed to turn your kids into world travelers. They will be thrilled when the first box arrives! Inside they will find a suitcase, passport, giant world map, stickers, photos and some activity sheets. They will also receive an adorable welcome letter from their new pen pal friends, Sam and Sofia. This message will explain how their journey began and how the entire adventure will go in the months to come. The program also comes with online game access, but we‘ve honestly never played them before.
Each month to follow, your child will receive packages from Sam and Sofia. Inside they will find a letter, souvenirs from the “country of the month”, stickers, photos and more online game options. We’ve been getting these packages for a while, and my daughter is still really psyched to find it in the mailbox. My favorite part is that it is guaranteed to spark a mini geography lesson for us when I don't always have the time to prepare one on my own.
This subscription was designed for the ages 6-10, but my three-year-old still really enjoys looking at it. He may be just about ready for the “Early Explorer” box the service offers.
Check out the Little Passport website for more information on their educational products.
(***Also, there is currently a coupon code on www.retailmenot.com !****)
If Geography isn’t your thing, maybe you’d like to try a Kiwi Crate subscription. We haven’t received one of these boxes in a long while, but this service puts together excellent science and art projects for your kiddies. Each “hands-on” project comes with all of the little pieces and equipment you may need. Apparently, this company has grown massively since we were members when my daughter was smaller. Their website now offers several subscriptions for kids, spanning the ages of 24 months to sixteen. I will definitely be checking it out for my family.
Disney on Ice: Reach for the Stars
I hired a guest blogger for the night. She lets me pay her with cookie dough and hugs, so it's a win/win for me!
The show will be moving from the Prudential Center to Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, NY for a January 10-14 run next weekend. There are also upcoming shows at Mohegan Sun (Wilkes Barre, PA) and the XL Center (Hartford, CT). Check out their website at the link below.
Snow Day Sugar Cookies (and more ways to enjoy the snow!)
Yeah, I know… No one is interested in destroying their healthy resolutions with baking the week after the holidays, but you may want to consider saving this sugar cookie recipe from theminimalistbaker.com (GREAT website) for future reference! It is just SO good. Even better? They are free of egg, dairy, and nuts! My son is allergic to all of that, so I love that he can enjoy eating and baking these with us.
½ cup of vegan butter (I use Fleichmans), softened
½ cup of organic cane sugar+ more to top
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup of pumpkin puree (They don’t taste “pumpkin-y” at all.)
1 tsp. of vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups of unbleached all-purpose flour + more for rolling into shapes
½ tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. Baking powder
½ tsp. Baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1-2 tsp. non-dairy milk (I use flaxseed milk for everything! It’s delicious!)
1) Add softened butter to a large mixing bowl and cream with a mixer.
2) Dump in the rest of the ingredients. (To be clear, that is what I did. The real instructions say to do this in stages, but my cookies came out awesome anyway!)
3) Mix everything up until it gets “doughy.” If it looks too wet and sticky, add more flour.
4) Wrap the dough up in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour.
5) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
6) Sprinkle flour all over the surface where you plan on rolling out your dough. Flatten the dough out with a floured rolling pin. When you feel it is reasonably thin enough, press out some shapes using cookie cutters.
7) Arrange your cookie shapes 2 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
8) Bake on the center rack for 8-10 minutes, or until the cookies are just a little golden brown.
9) Remove them from the oven, and let them cool on the pan for a few minutes before moving them to a cooling rack to completely cool. While you do this, you can make the icing.
For the icing, I just used powdered sugar with a small amount of water mixed it. You can use whatever you’d like though. Use a few drops of food coloring if you want to make it interesting.
We love making these cookies as much as we love to eat them. Hope your family loves them too!
Baking, not your thing??
Here are a few other things you can do to keep a snow day interesting.
*Make “snow paint” all you have to do is add food coloring to a spray/squirt bottle with water. Have fun shaking it up and spraying it all over the snow to make snowy art.
2) * It’s COLD out in NJ, but the kids still want to enjoy playing in the snow. Scoop some snow into a large Tupperware or foil container and let the kids play with the snow inside! I put some towels down on the tile and let them play in the “inside snow”.
3) * Make snow ice cream! This is kind of gross, but I let them do it anyway. I’ve never measured any of this, and it has always been fine. Just eyeball it!
Get a large bowl of (NEW) snow.
Slowly add milk (we use Flaxseed). Don’t add too much or it will be watery.
Sprinkle in no more than a ¼ cup of sugar.
1 tsp. of vanilla
Just mix it all up in a large bowl. If it gets too melted, just freeze it for a little while.
However you choose to spend the day, I hope you have a good one!
The Perfect Soundtrack for your New Year's Eve!
We kicked off the weekend at a "Noon" Year’s Eve party at Industry City, and what a great party it was! Brought to us by the good people at Rock and Roll Playhouse, Lucy Kalantari and the Jazz Cats performed such a fun show for kids and their families. If you are looking for the perfect end of the year song to share with your kids, check out “That’s a Wrap!” on Lucy’s website. https://www.lucykalantari.com
For more Rock and Roll Playhouse shows, check out the schedule at: http://therockandrollplayhouse.com
*Chloe's note- Lucy's show was great! I thought the props they had made the dancing so fun. Loved the parachute in the balloon song. Great job Lucy!
Happy New Year!
I ask A LOT of questions. I am sure it will annoy the crap out of my kids as they get older, but I am not planning on changing anytime soon. I decided to make a question game to play while we are out celebrating this year.
There are 60 questions below to cut and paste, print, and throw into a little bag. Take turns being the “interviewer” and make up whatever rules you feel like following. I hope you all have the happiest New Year with the ones who make your heart happy. WIshing you all the best in 2018!!!
What was your number 1 accomplishment this year?
What was the best thing that you ate in 2017?
What was your favorite book in 2017?
What was your favorite movie in 2017?
Did you make a new friend in 2017?
Who is the friend you’ve known the longest?
Describe 2017 in 3 words.
What was the best family moment of 2017?
What made you laugh the hardest this year?
If you could go anywhere in 2018, where would you go?
What do you like most about yourself?
What is your favorite food?
What makes you unique?
What do you want to be when you grow up?
What do you love to do with Mom?
What do you love to do with Dad?
What do you love to do with your brother/sister?
What is your favorite cereal?
What will you do differently in 2018?
What do you want to do again in 2018?
What is your favorite restaurant?
What is your favorite thing to wear?
What is the most exciting thing you learned this year?
What is the best part of being your age?
If you could be any animal, what would you be?
What do you love most about your brother/sister/mom/dad?
What is the nicest thing you did this year?
Tell us about the funniest thing that happened to you this year.
What will you be doing new year's eve 10 years from now?
Name two places we should go this year.
What is the grossest thing you ate this year?
What is your favorite tv show?
What is your least favorite school memory this year?
What is your best school memory this year?
What is your favorite holiday?
What is the best way to spend an afternoon?
What is your favorite season?
Describe yourself in one word.
What is your number one goal for next year?
If you could change your name, what would it be?
If you were in a crayon box, what color would you be? Why?
If you could be any super hero, who would you be?
If (Pet’s name) could speak, what would he say to you?
What is something you wonder about?
What is something you know?
What is the hardest thing you had to do this year?
What is your wish for 2018?
What wish came true in 2017?
What are you the best at?
What is your favorite fruit?
Why do/did you like to be a kid?
Who do you look up to?
What is your least favorite thing to do every day? (UGH, unload the dishwasher…just saying.)
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
What is your spirit animal?
What makes you scared?
Who would you rather sit next to at lunch? A talking penguin or a singing giraffe?
If you ruled the world, what would it be like?
If you owned a story, what would you sell?
What makes you totally amazing?
#TBT Peepsfest- SteelStacks Bethlehem, PA
#TBT- We’ve spent the past few New Years at the SteelStacks in Bethlehem, PA. Every year the Just Born company holds their annual Peepsfest that ends with the dropping of a GIANT (200 lb.) marshmallow peep on NYE. This year we are opting for an early dinner before going to a PJ party, but this event has become a favorite family memory. If you are interested in the schedule of events, just click the link below!
What the Elf was that???
Instead of following our tradition of seeing the Radio City Christmas Show this year, we decided to go to the Theatre at Madison Square Garden to see the musical based on our favorite holiday film, Elf. In case you aren’t familiar, that’s the one where a human is raised as an elf at the North Pole and decides to trek down to NYC (Bye Buddy, I hope you find your Dad!) to find his real dad while teaching everyone the meaning of Christmas. We were so excited to find out that George Wendt of Cheers would be playing Santa, and it turns out that he was the original Santa when the musical debuted back in 2010.
While I am so glad we went, I don’t know if I would want to see it again. I feel like it didn’t do a great job of capturing the humor and heartwarming feeling of the movie. Advertised as “family friendly”, I felt it to be more suited to families with older children and teens. My 3 year old would’ve been thrilled to leave at intermission, and he may be Buddy’s biggest fan. It was long, like too long. A lot of what was added and taken away from the script made no sense to me, and I found myself hyper-focusing on how they could fix it the entire time I was watching.
*Chloe’s Note- Elf was great, but it wasn’t like the movie.
*Dan’s Note- Of all of the shows we’ve seen at the theatre at Madison Square Garden, this was the most professional (waaaaay better than the Elmos and Paw Patrols).
*Brody’s Note- Oh sure but first I have to Snap Chat.
There you have it!!
Rolf's Bar and Restaurant
I can't feel ok about flashing back and not talking about last Christmas Eve. Dinner at Rolf's was just so cool. The food was good, service was "eh", but we didn't care because IT WAS STUNNING!!! There are literally lights EVERYWHERE. If you time it right, you can go to Gramercy Park to carol after (which was a total bucket list moment for me). Caroling starts at 6:00, and the park is open for just one hour. It's crowded but worth it. Don't forget to make reservations for Rolf's!
#FBF to the Holiday Train Show
#FBF to the Holiday Train Show at the NY Botanical Garden. This has become one of my favorite holiday traditions. I never get sick of seeing what they come up with here. EVERYTHING in the display is made of plants. The scenes are of iconic NY landmarks and the detail is amazing. Everyone should do this at least once! You really won’t be disappointed. After, stop by Mario’s Restaurant on Arthur Avenue for the best food and service. Both places are best on a weeknight.
Christmas Light Fight
We are obsessed with the Christmas Light Fight on ABC. So we decided to do our own version of it. Each weekend we’ve been stalking out the houses in our area that were on the show in order to pick out our own winner. The best news is that each of these houses collect donations for different organizations. So here is the breakdown of where we’ve visited so far.
1) The Ronkonkoma Gingerbread House- 135 N Huron St, Ronkonkoma, NY 11779
ASA-provides services to people with Autism in all walks of life.
Lights run from Dec 3rd- Jan 6th
This place is AMAZING. It is absolutely worth the ride to see it. It actually made me cry big mom tears. Watching the “Let it Go” light show was just amazing and what a GREAT cause!
2 2) The Sussin Family Light Show- 123 Patch Rd, Saugerties, NY 12477
To be honest, I can’t remember who they were collecting for because I was so distracted by how amazing this place was! Again, totally worth the ride. Plus, Saugerties is just the cutest little town. Go early and spend the day shopping on the Main St. and explore the Woodstock Museum if you get a chance to.
Lights run every night from Nov. 24 to Jan. 1, 5-10 p.m., weather permitting. Santa and Mrs. Claus can be seen Fridays and Saturdays from 5-8 p.m.
3) 3) Peckville, PA Christmas Lights- 1130 Marion street Peckville pa
We haven’t got out to see this house yet, but it is on my list!! Two brothers have a HUGE collection of Christmas décor. It looks amazing!
There are lots of other options for “light chasing” in the North Jersey area. You can check out the Turtleback Zoo’s display or head out to Sussex County for the Skyland Stadium lights. Both of these places can get very crowded. Try a Sunday night for a nicer experience.
My favorite place to light chase this year has been Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. We had so much fun wandering the streets where literally every house is decorated in an amazing way. There are a few standout houses, but I think it is worth parking and wandering until your legs are exhausted. (12th Ave & 84th St. Brooklyn, NY 1128 for GPS)
This house was MAGIC. It got 3/4 of the family vote for best overall display. There must've been 2,000 blow molds on the property. It isn't far from Kalahari Resort, so it's worth a side trip if you're going that way during the holidays. Check it out before January 7th to keep the "Christmas feels" for a little while longer.
Planning on seeing Santa this weekend? Maybe you already have! Either way, seeing Scuba Santa at the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, NJ is such a fun day trip. Leave early because this place gets super crowded.
Christmas Underwater runs until December 30th. Besides this being an awesome aquarium, they have a lot of cute “Christmasy” activities. New this year is the World's Tallest Underwater Christmas Tree. It is 18 feet tall and Scuba Santa has used his magic to decorate it with thousands of twinkling lights. If you aren’t into a soaking wet Santa photo, they also offer traditional, dry Santa photo options on the weekends.
My favorite part is the Snow Shower Dance Party. It is exactly what it sounds like, a holiday dance party as it snows inside the aquarium rotunda.