The Colonial Nutcracker at Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts

Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts has invited me to attend a performance of The Colonial Nutcracker, Performed by Dance Theatre in Westchester, on Sunday, December 14, 2014 at 2pm.

Watching the Nutcracker performed is an inspiring and educational Christmas tradition.

There’s the music, the ballet, and the lovely message that faith and bravery are more important than appearances.

Nutcracker 1

Nutcracker 2

From Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts:

Created especially for families with children ages five to ten, The Colonial Nutcracker sets Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet in wintry colonial Yorktown during the Revolutionary War. The production features classics such as “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” and “Waltz of the Snowflakes,” a red-coated mouse army, an enchanted nutcracker prince, and compelling narration that will enhance young viewers’ understanding and enjoyment of this timeless story. Rose Menes’ delightful staging and choreography, coupled with colorful costumes and Tchaikovsky’s enduring score, will captivate audiences of all ages. The running time is approximately 2 hours plus an intermission.

We have brought our children to one other local Nutcracker performance in the past and to be positive I will just say that I have high hopes that The Colonial Nutcracker will be more magical.

Tickets are $15 each, and can be purchased at BrooklynCenter.org or by calling the box office at 718-951-4500 (Tues-Sat, 1pm-6pm). While you are there, check out their other performances. The Target Storybook Series, based on classic and contemporary children’s literature, has titles including The Adventures of Harold and the Purple Crayon (Sunday, March 29, 2015 at 2pm); The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Eric Carle Favourites (Sunday, April 19, 2015 at 2pm); Jim Henson’s Dinosaur Train Live: Buddy’s Big Adventure (Sunday, April 26, 2015 at 12pm and 3pm); and The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley (Sunday, May 17, 2015 at 2pm).

Disclosure: Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts has provided tickets for me and a guest, our family is paying for our children’s tickets. As always, all opinions are my own.

All the Comforts From Home for Our Soldiers #ComfortsFromHome

Soldier homecomings always get me right in the feelings. I know that aching hole in your heart when your soldier is away and that elation when he returns home.

When my husband was deployed, I was carrying our first child. So, there were plenty of distractions as I went to midwife appointments and put together baby furniture.

I also stayed active in our community, volunteering with the Family Readiness Group (FRG), tutoring at-risk kids at the local high school, and organizing projects with the Junior League. And I went out with friends to concerts and dinners and craft fairs (where I could find more baby furniture).

Still, there was nothing that could replace my soldier in my life. He was always on my mind, no matter where I was. I lived for his e-mails and our Skype sessions. As soon as he would call, I felt like I came alive. Hanging up felt like the wind was knocked out of me.

I sent him whatever I could–vacuum-sealed treats, a little “picnic in a box,” some holiday decorations for special days–but there is nothing quite like being there together…and warm food outside of mess hours, and hot showers, and a nice comfortable bed probably rank up there, too.

We dreamed of his homecoming. I had so many welcome surprises planned, including all the comforts of home he missed so much overseas. Life overtook us, though–our daughter was born with a congenital heart defect and my husband’s homecoming was for her open heart surgery.

Of course, we all got the best gift–our family reunited! Still, I love seeing soldiers get the full treatment I would have loved to have given my husband when he returned home.

So, I am excited to see “A Hero’s Welcome” on November 11 (very appropriately, Veteran’s Day), 2014, premier on some of my favorite networks, including HGTV, Food Network, and the Cooking Channel.

Marie Callender’s, the USO and an army of experts from food, home and travel provide the comforts of home for one special returning soldier.
The one hour television special, “A Hero’s Welcome,” will be hosted by Robert Irvine from Restaurant Impossible, Genevieve Gorder from HGTV Design Star and Gary Sinise, award-winning actor and founder of the Gary Sinise Foundation.

Visit ComfortsfromHome.com to learn more about how you can join Marie Callender’s in helping to bring a little bit of home sweet home to our U.S. service men and women overseas.

Tune-in as Marie Callender’s, the USO and an army of experts from food, home and travel provide the comforts of home as only Marie Callender’s can, in a truly heartwarming homecoming you’ll always remember.

“A Hero’s Welcome” will welcome one special soldier back to their family in a national television event airing on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2014. The one-hour TV special will air across a range of your favorite networks including HGTV, Food Network, Cooking Channel, Travel Channel, DIY Channel, and Great American County.

I have been selected by Tap Influence to be a spokesperson for Marie Callender’s While I have been compensated for my time, my opinions are my own.

Boo at the Zoo: Halloween at the Bronx Zoo

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Halloween is one of our favorite celebrations and we fill our October with lots of traditions–haunted hay rides, parties, harvest festivals, crafts, parades, and, of course, dressing up and trick or treating!

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This year we are excited to add to our traditions and check out Boo at the Zoo: Dragons and Dinosaurs at the Bronx Zoo.

With my resident paleontologist, we’ll be checking out the Dinosaur Safari: Mysteries Revealed experience. Check back later this month for our photographs and tips!

Boo at the Zoo Bronx

“Boo at the Zoo: Dragons and Dinosaurs is presented by Canon and will begin on Saturday, Oct. 4 and will run for five full weekends including Columbus Day and Halloween. All attractions and activities will embrace the spirit of the season while highlighting wildlife and conservation. Annual favorites including the hay maze, pumpkin carving demos, costume parades, music, magic and more will return with some additional Halloween surprises.”

Visit www.bronxzoo.com for a complete schedule of dates, performances and activities.

Disclosure: We are receiving complementary press tickets to facilitate my reviews. As always, words and opinions are my own unless otherwise noted.

Project Runway and American Girl

I have been seriously neglecting my recaps this season–Fridays are just very busy days! I couldn’t resist this one, though. The designers are challenged to make outfits inspired by some of American Girl’s classic historical dolls that are part of the BeForever line.

American Girl and Project Runway

Like many 8 year old girls, my daughter adores American Girl dolls and their stories.

She was considering an sewing camp for making outfits for her American Girl Doll but it conflicted with robotics. I think with a week of sewing lessons, she might have outdone the contestants.

The contestants were assigned dolls and asked to design an updated girls’ outfit, inspired by the doll, her story, her fashions, and her accessories. The designers also had access to fabric from the doll’s designs in addition to their regular trip to Mood.

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The #1 Thing You Can Do to Keep Your Kids Safe

car seat safety

We all want to keep our kids safe.

I spend an irrational amount of time researching safe sunscreens, choosing stainless steel or glass containers for their food, and selecting organic foods whenever possible.

The most important and completely rational safety measure I take for my kids by far, however, is buying, installing, and correctly using the right child safety car seat.

Did you know that motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for children age 1 to 13 in the USA? And that consistent use of the correct child safety seat in the car could cut fatalities by about half?

Are you sure that your child is in the correct seat? Sure enough to be his life on it?

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Project Runway, Season 13, Episode 1: The Judges Decide

Welcome back to the runway! So, I missed the first 20 minutes due to kiddo bedtimes but there did not seem to be that much drama. We shall see what happens once inspiration and energy starts to flag…

Judges

Is it just me or does Nina look totally over this?

From what I gather, the designers were given a box of cheap, ugly material to make something for a “Spring collection.” Which is appropriate since this sponsor just screams “high-end fashion”:

redrobin

The designers could trade fabrics but since everything was ugly that did not help anyone very much.

OK… let’s do this. Starting with the vast middle.

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Walking with Dinosaurs — LIVE!

My family and I had the opportunity to see Walking with Dinosaurs at Barclays Center for opening night and it was a thrill!

Walking with Dinosaurs Barclays Center

The show is like a natural history museum comes alive and explodes with the crushing force of the jaw of a tyrannosaurus rex.

Walking with Dinosaurs packs brachiosaurus-sized learning into its entertainment. The show begins back in the Triassic, explaining the vegetation, the geology, and the evolutionary developments that allowed dinosaurs to go on to conquer the earth.
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Know Your Zone

Hurricane Sandy was devastating in this region–some areas near me are still rebuilding. We lost so much but we also saw the strength of our communities.

After years of near-misses, this catastrophe drove home the need for hurricane preparedness in the New York metro area.

The Ad Council and the New York City Office of Emergency Management want New Yorkers to “Know Your Zonein anticipation of the start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season on June 1st as part of Hurricane Preparedness Week (May 25-31st).

Although my family lives outside of the New York City limits, my husband helped coordinate the National Guard efforts to manage the emergency shelters in the city. If you live or work in New York City:

The Ready New York Hurricane Guide also contains instructions on how to develop a hurricane disaster plan and secure your home before a storm as well as a map of New York City hurricane evacuation zones.

By taking these steps and sharing them with friends and family, you can help reduce the risks of damage and loss of life if a hurricane strikes the New York area.

know your zone

The Show Must (Not) Go On?

You might think this is satire from a “fake news” site but it isn’t–a Long Island elementary school in the Elwood school district has canceled a kindergarten play because they are “responsible for preparing children for college and career with valuable lifelong skills…”

Elwood Kindergarten Play Canceled

Another letter references the unusually high number of missed school days due to snow. Elwood, like the district in which I live, has half day kindergarten. So, morning kindergarten was likely canceled when there were delays. Although missed days in excess of allotted snow days are made up–kindergarten days missed due to delays are not.

However, the reference to “college and career” readiness implies a connection with the demands of the Common Core. Do the administrators at Elwood genuinely believe that a few days spent preparing and performing a school play in kindergarten will affect little Ava’s ability to succeed in college and find a high-paying job? Or are they scared that Brayden will bomb the state tests in third grade because his demanding rehearsal schedule distracted him from test prep? Or are they using these children as pawns to protest the requirements tied to implementation of the Common Core in New York?

Does anyone really believe that a five year old’s time is better spent bubbling in more scantrons?

Whatever is going on in Elwood, this is a sad day in early childhood education.

Walking with Dinosaurs Coming to Barclays Center – Opening Night Discount

Walking with Dinosaurs is coming to Barclays Center and I can feel the excitement–or is that a giant tyrannosaurus rex?

Walking with Dinosaurs Barclays Center

My eldest son is a junior paleontologist who has memorized every episode of the BBC “Walking with Dinosaurs” series and I know he is going to be thrilled to see these dinosaurs–moving, roaring, practically breathing–live! And when the people at Barclays Center say, “live,” they mean it! Using advanced animatronics, Walking with Dinosaurs Live creates the illusion that the audience has been transported back in time to witness real, alive dinosaurs hunting, raising their young, and more.

“Ten species are represented from the entire 200 million year reign of the dinosaurs. The show includes the Tyrannosaurus Rex, the terror of the ancient terrain, as well as the Plateosaurus and Liliensternus from the Triassic period, the Stegosaurus and Allosaurus from the Jurassic period and Torosaurus and Utahraptor from the awesome Cretaceous period. The largest of them, the Brachiosaurus is 36 feet tall, and 56 feet from nose to tail. It took a team of 50 – including engineers, fabricators, skin makers, artists and painters, and animatronic experts – a year to build the production.”

Barclays Center is hosting Walking with Dinosaurs Live July 16 – July 20 (9 Total Shows): July 16 at 7PM, July 17 at 7PM, July 18 at 10:30AM & 7PM, July 19 at 11AM, 3PM & 7PM, July 20 at 1PM & 5PM. Tickets are available for $99, $75, $55, $35, with special opening night tickets for just $30 (valid on $55 & $35 price points). Group Ticket discounts of over $20 per ticket are also available for groups of 12+.

Buy Tickets: Tickets for Walking with Dinosaurs at Barclays Center are on sale now and can be purchased online via Ticketmaster or by calling 800-745-3000. For more information about the show, visit: http://www.dinosaurlive.com/

Walking with Dinosaurs Arena Spectacular

Disclosure: As a member of the press, I am receiving tickets to attend opening night of Walking with Dinosaurs at Barclays Center and share my experiences with you.