Plan Your Calendar: Meatpacking District Harvest Fest on 10/28

Harvest Fest 2017, sponsored by the Meatpacking District, is happening again this year on Saturday, October 28th at Hudson River Park. The artisanal market & fair brings together the best of the Meatpacking District's family-friendly goods & services for a day filled with art, music & activities.

The event will offer a host of activities ranging from a family yoga class w/ Love Child to arts-n-crafts, including creating your own trick-or-treat bags w/ Chelsea Market Baskets, "shadow dancing" with performers from The Joyce Theater & a virtual reality booth with Samsung 837. While the event is free to the public, vendors like Ample Hills Creamery & Megu will be on hand with food items for purchase. 4-legged friends won't be disappointed, either -- a costume contest, gourmet treats & photo opportunities are planned for them as well!

Check out a few pics from last year's Fest, and hope to see you there!
(registration for Harvest Fest is appreciated).


Birthdays & Bubbles at the Gazillion Bubble Show (& a discount!)

October is birthday month around here, which basically means it's a bit hectic for the first couple of weeks and culminates with everyone's favorite candy-fueled, ultimate dress up day of the year. Throw in a little pumpkin picking and a fall fair or two and you have one busy (but fun) month. Do I always utter a quick sigh of relief on November 1st? YES, indeed I do.

This year, we continued the tradition of an "experience" birthday celebration rather than a party, which works out well for us and is frankly a bit easier to plan and less expensive than renting a party space, etc. We took Vivian (turning 6!) and her sister and two friends to the Gazillion Bubble Show, an experience I'd heard about for a while now but never seen for myself. So much fun!

This show is fantastic for kids, and let's face it, Husband and I were entertained, too. Because BUBBLES! In all shapes and sizes! Doing all sorts of crazy things! There are not enough exclamation points to describe the situation.

A few points to consider: best seats in the house are definitely in the first 10 rows in the middle section. Worth it to make sure that's where you're seated, trust me. Also, don't decide to bust out your leather jacket or anything that stains easily for the occasion, as you will, without a doubt, get bubble soap on you (which is part of the fun, just go with it...). Lastly, in case your child isn't picked to go on stage, you can spend $20 after the show is over for your child to have their photo taken inside a bubble. It's the worth the money -- the party girls absolutely loved it!

The show, which is now in its 10th year, is currently offering tickets for as low as $45 (regularly $75) with code GBPOP101 -- you can purchase tickets online, on the phone (212-947-8844) or at New World Stages (a gorgeous venue!) using this code. While it's perfect for a birthday (they offer official party packages, too), it's a fun activity no matter the occasion. My girls are still talking about it!

Birthday girl & her crew

Disclosure: I was provided with tickets in exchange for discount promotion. All opinions herein are my own.


A Harvey Foster Dog Tale (With Help from Jet.com)

Getting a dog has been a weekly conversation piece for as long as I can remember. The girls love being around animals in general, but doggies have a special place in their hearts. But the reality of having a dog in a small apartment in New York City is a whole other matter. That said, Husband and I had been talking about a foster dog for a while, as it seemed like a good way to take a pet for a "test run," so to speak, while giving it some much-needed love at the same time.

Enter Hurricane Harvey, which ravaged through southeast Texas and Houston in particular. A blogging friend of mine, Melissa from The Staten Island Family, is a volunteer for Louie's Legacy Animal Rescue. I saw a post of hers on Facebook which said that Louie's Legacy would be going to Houston to relieve an animal shelter affected by the storm. If we were going to get a foster dog, now seemed as good a time as any.

Meet Willie

Once we signed up, everything seemed to move very fast, and I realized I was completely unprepared for a 4-legged friend to come and stay with us. Luckily, I reached out to Jet for assistance (they've been heavily involved with hurricane relief efforts) and they said they'd be happy to help out. Their enormous selection of pet products (and 2 day shipping!) made finding items easy & quick, from a dog bowl and leash to toys and dog food. THANK YOU, JET! You made Willie feel comfortable almost immediately.

Willie has a good heart, clearly loves the girls... and has lots of energy, as he's only 19 months old. He's half Plott Hound and half Dutch Shepard - two breeds I'd never heard of before a week ago! While we are busy juggling a new schedule that revolves almost completely around him (new parents, sound familiar?), I can say wholeheartedly that getting a foster dog is an EXCELLENT way to see if you are ready for a pet full-time. While I would say I'm still in the adjustment period, and I can't for sure say that Willie has found his forever home, I do know that we are giving him some stability and love as he eases out of a traumatizing experience, and that I'm very happy about.

If you're still looking at ways to assist hurricane relief in Texas and Florida, check out Jet's donation page, where there are many ways to help. Through its JetCares "Give a Pack" program, Jet will match the first $25,000 in donations made to both Florida and Texas diaper banks. Amazing! I love to see large companies giving back in a meaningful, direct fashion (and even to rescue dogs they meet along the way).

This story gets an official "to be continued"...


NYC Children's Theater: Endangered! The Musical

The girls and I and a couple of their friends checked out Endangered! The Musical last week & really enjoyed ourselves. The show is currently playing off-Broadway at the Davenport Theatre with an extended run through October 8th.

Endangered! takes a timely & politically-charged topic (global warming) and adapts it in a way for kids to understand its importance and urgency without scaring them- instead, it encourages them to be part of the solution. Combine that with catchy songs, an array of endangered animals at the zoo, one determined tween, and you have a message with a lot of heart. The cast is very strong, particularly a certain piano-playing crocodile, played by Connor Delves.

Little theater-goers before the show!

I love promoting live theater aimed at children, and that Endangered! The Musical mixes song & dance with a reminder that we should take care of our planet, only makes it that much more meaningful. Worth checking out! Ticket information can be found HERE.

Disclosure: Tickets were provided in exchange for a review of the show. All opinions herein are my own.


Summer Staple: A Day at Coney Island & Luna Park

NYC public school began today, and with that, the unofficial end of summer is upon us. There are lots of emotions happening around here... the girls were excited for school to start one minute and dreading it the next. I was mostly filled with glee (hee hee). Luckily, though, we really had a pretty great summer. Our California road trip was definitely the highlight (that post will come one of these days soon, I hope), along with seeing our families in Wisconsin and Georgia. And as always, we made sure to visit some NYC summer staples, like Governor's Island and Coney Island. Especially with the latter, it doesn't truly feel like summer unless I've had a little boardwalk under my feet.

Here are a few pics from our recent visit to Coney and Luna Park (I braved more rides than I ever have before and lived to tell about it). Luna Park actually stays open until October 29th (their Halloween Harvest begins 9/16), so the fun doesn't have to stop once school is back in session! If you go, don't forget to check out the Coney Island Art Walls, too (although they're only open until the end of September).

Photo credit to Husband on a few of these, and thanks to Luna Park for hosting us for the day. Their all day wrist band is a great deal if you're a ride-loving family!


JetBlue "Soar with Reading" Event this Sunday at The Strand

Hey NYC: How does 100,000 FREE books into the hands of underprivileged kids here in the city sound? Have I got your attention? Great! Bring on the online #BookBattle.

Here's the back story -- Soar with Reading, a program designed to champion reading in children, was created by JetBlue Airways (through their JetBlue For Good program) & Random House Children's Books in 2011. To date, Soar with Reading has given out over 2,750,000 books to kids living in "book deserts," areas where children & their families have little or no access to purchase age-appropriate books, which we all know can stunt academic development. A truly incredible effort!

So, how do we get those books coming our way? Turns out one little vote (and a whole lot of spreading the word) is all it takes. You see, this online Book Battle is between NYC, Los Angeles, Boston and San Francisco. Whoever gets the most votes wins the contest, and we are currently in 2nd PLACE behind Boston. Boooo.... (sorry, Boston)!

To drum up excitement for this year's Soar with Reading competition, NYC residents & tourists alike are invited to Strand Bookstore this Sunday, August 6th, from 12-2pm. Authors R.J. Palacio (Wonder) and Chris Grabenstein (Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library) will be present for a meet & greet & book signing. Guests will enjoy complimentary scoops from JetBlue's local ice cream partner, Blue Marble, while also learning about the Soar with Reading program.

One last bit of good news: in an effort to measure Soar with Reading's impact, research was done in Detroit and Washington, D.C. after vending machine were installed in those cities. The results were more than positive:
  • Three out of four children with access to the vending machines scored higher on early literacy exams than before they had access to the machines.
  • Children who did not use the machine on average scored lower on the test.
  • Parents in neighborhoods with the machines had more knowledge about their children’s reading habits compared to parents in areas without the machines.
So come on out! Bring your little reader and support an amazing cause from JetBlue and Random House Children's Books. And don't forget to VOTE

Disclosure: I am being compensated to promote this event and the Soar with Reading program by JetBlue. All opinions herein are my own.

Camp Review: Play On! Studios

Last month, Millie completed a week of Creative Drama day camp with Play On! Studios (using space at Ballet Hispanico on the Upper West Side). She had a fantastic time, and as a result, has been talking nonstop about when she can go back. Maybe there's a little actress in the making?! Eeek. Before I get too nervous about that, I have to say I'm proud of her for going into a camp situation not knowing a soul and coming out of it with new friends and a positive experience.

In addition to practicing each day for a play that was performed Friday afternoon, "Rainbow Fish and the Sea Monster's Cave," she played all sorts of creative games like Night at the Museum (a favorite), Freeze Dance Tag and Kids are Talking throughout the week. The campers also painted pictures for the show on Friday and decorated play bills for the audience. I coincidentally picked up the program that Millie decorated, so we were sure to bring it home!

Here are a few pics from dress rehearsal:

In addition to day camps, Play On! Studios also offers after school & weekends classes for kids throughout the year in choirdrama & music, even audition prep! Check out their website for more information on class schedules & to sign up.

Disclosure: I was provided with a week of camp for review purposes. All opinions herein are my own.
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