Art in the park at Pier 25 NYC

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The Art Shack at Pier 25 along the Hudson River Park in Tribeca, is a free outdoor art program. Your kids can come and discover their inner Picasso with Manhattan Youth, and art director Xavier Rivera, every weekend from noon to 5 or so during good weather.

Art Shack Pier 25

Enjoy painting paper, on an easel, suitable for framing. You can also leave your painting to be contributed to their banners which feature the work of hundreds of community artists from over the years. We chose to bring H’s painting home, because he was so proud of the end result. I can’t wait to frame it for his playroom wall.

Pier 25 art in the park

The Art Shack outdoor art program at Pier 25 in Tribeca has been there since 1996.

What is one of your favorite free thing to do with your kids? 

Weekend activity at Field Station: Dinosaurs

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Weekend time is more valuable now that the kids are back in school. On weekends we try to stay busy and fill our hours with family fun activities. So, if you have a dinosaur obsessed kid they will absolutely love Field Station: Dinosaur in New Jersey. From now until November 2nd you can spend a few hours of your weekend going 90 million years back in time, checking out life-sized, realistic dinosaurs.

Field Station Dino enterence

Field Station: Dinosaurs is a family attraction in New Jersey. It is a one-of-kind experience that is thrilling, educational and fun. They have over thirty dinosaurs that come to life using robotics, but are not too scary for my 3 year old. My son loved it because he got to see “real dinosaurs” not “fake dinosaurs” as he calls the awesome dinosaur bone collection at the American Museum of Natural History in the city.

Life size dinosaurs NYC

The only thing that scared him was the mighty T-Rex puppet at one of the 20 minute  amphitheater shows, the puppeteer kept growling and scaring kids who were clearly terrified. So if your kid is a bit scared, sit in the back row or just avoid that show completely and stick to the Dinosaur Dance Party.

Field Station Dinosaur TRex puppet

Dinosaur Dance Party

Besides the dinosaurs and the shows, Field Station: Dinosaurs has tons of workshops and games that younger elementary school aged kids will enjoy. They also have a fossil dig site where real prehistoric fossils lurk beneath the surface just waiting to be unearthed, plus you get to keep any of the fossils that you find! All the kids are given a passport to stamp in to keep track of all the learning they did and at the end they get a sticker for completion (not really a “prize” as was expected) but still fun to complete the challenge.

It is so easy to get to Field Station: Dinosaurs, only 9 minutes by train from New York’s Penn Station to the Secaucus Junction train stop, and a 10 minute or so walk to the main entrance gate. You can also drive if you like, and parking is available on-site. However, Field Station: Dinosaurs collects a $10 Environmental Fee on behalf of the Town of Secaucus to encourage the use of mass transit and support local parks and recreation. Make sure to leave a few hours to explore the park.

For more information on tickets and hours check out the Field Station: Dinosaurs website here.

Healthy Essentials: Refresh and re-energize your routine

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I have been seeing adorable back-to-school photos from across the country for over a month now, and I can’t wait to take H’s first day of Montessori school photo. But, we still have two more weeks before H is “back-to-school” full time! So, two more weeks of summer, two more weeks of procrastinating on stocking up on school supplies and two more weeks to get us all onto a manageable daily routine.

Johnson and Johnson Healthy Essentials logo

We currently go to bed late, wake up late, eat when we are hungry and never really plan the day ahead of time. In two weeks this is all going to change, and I am kinda scared for these changes in our life. So I have teamed up with Johnson & Johnson family of consumer companies and HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® products to give tips on ways to change and re-energize our lifestyle, just in time for back-to-school.

HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® Back-to-School

  • Pamper your skin. Day after day spent in the harsh summer heat my skin is not feeling or looking the way I would like it to. It is no secret that looking the way you want, can give you a lift. A great way to re-energize yourself is to try a new skincare regimen to address fine lines, blotchiness and dark circles.
  • Make over your diet. We ate out a lot this past summer! With school starting we will have lees time for long leisurely meals out, so I will be spending more time preparing meals at home. My goals are to add more fruits, vegetables and whole grains into our diets. Not only do they help give you great looking skin, but foods rich in fiber are great for digestion and can help you feel full longer. Learn how to read food labels to make better choices at the grocery store.
  • Plan active weekends. Now that our weekdays are less adventurous, I plan to get the whole family out and moving on the weekends. Living in NYC we need to enjoy the fall like weather, before the winter like weather approaches. We plan to explore new parks and take a family hike up near The Cloisters located in Fort Tryon Park.
  • Air out the house. Indoor pollutants tend to build up over time. A great re-energizing task is to open the windows, or run a filtered air conditioning system while the kids are at school. You will get toxins out and the whole family can breathe a little easier at night.
  • Wind down to earlier bedtimes. We have slacked a bit on bedtime over the summer. The days are longer, so we stay out longer. To help kids ease back into school-year sleep schedule try a soothing evening routine. Bathtime with a light massage and aromatherapy can go a long way to getting kids settled. Also have your kids start using a daily mouthwash again (because you know some days you forget). Plus pick out some new books to continue the learning at home.

Great Deals on HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® Products Can Help You Re-energize Your Routine as the New School Year Begins!

HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® is offering amazing printable coupons, tips & tools and so much more for all the products you and your family love. You can save more than $40 by visiting http://www.HealthyEssentials.com now and signing up for HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® program coupons and offers.

Well I am happy to say we have two more weeks of this, and two more weeks to re-energize!

Back-to-school

What have you found that has helped re-energize your family routine this new school year?

This post is part of the HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® 2014 program by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc. and The Motherhood, who sent me a box of products and compensated me for my time. Opinions, experiences and photos shared here are all my own, and I hope you enjoy them.

Baby’s first birthday at Disneyland

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A baby’s first birthday party is really a birthday celebration for the parents and their guests. Your baby will not remember this party, but that does not mean you all can’t have some magical fun. We were going to be in California over lilStrange’s first birthday, so we decided why not have her party at Disneyland. Who does not love Disneyland?

Baby's first birthday at Disneyland

The first thing you must do when arriving at Disneyland on your birthday, is to go to City Hall on Main Street, U.S.A. in Disneyland Park or Guest Services in Disney California Adventure Park. Here you can pick up a complimentary Birthday Button and receive birthday greetings from fellow guests throughout the day with this magical birthday button!

Ten family members were attending lil’s Disney first birthday party, so we made sure a lunch reservation was booked a few weeks in advance. The online Disneyland dining reservation system was easy to use, and reviews from TripAdvisor were linked to each restaurant, so we knew we were making the best choice possible. We were lucky enough to secure the princess character lunch at Ariel’s Grotto Restaurant for lil’s special day. Ariel’s Grotto Restaurant is located right in the heart of Disney California Adventure Park at Paradise Pier.

Cousins at Disneyland

At the character lunch Disney Princesses circulated through the dining room, visiting each group table side. They happily took photos and signed autograph books. Plus at the beginning everyone gets to meet Ariel for some special one-on-one time and a professional photo that can be purchased at the end.

Ariel's Grotto Disneyland

The lunch menu offered sensational choices, such as the sustainable catch of the day, citrus-glazed chicken breast, grilled lobster tail salad, slow-roasted tri-tip and more. Everyone enjoyed their lunch and were totally full from their meals. Ariel’s Grotto also serves healthy Mickey Check meals designed with your child’s nutrition in mind. Everyones meal ended happily ever after with a dessert royal trio. Plus if you are there celebrating a birthday, like we were, you can reserve custom cakes and sweets (at least three days in advance).

Disney Princess Cake Disneyland

Disneyland Birthday

Disneyland offers multiple custom cakes and sweets for birthdays, from 3 styles of celebration cake—a Mickey or Minnie Mouse-shaped cake, a Disney Princess Cake or a Disney Signature Cake. If you are looking for something smaller Disneyland offers My Mini Cake Surprise, that come in magical mini-cake containers. Our lunch at Ariel’s Grotto included the royal dessert trio, so we opted for the My Mini Cake Surprise. You can pick from a duo of magical mini-cake containers: a Disney Princess Jewelry Box or a Disney Pirate Treasure Chest. This mini cake was so cute and just the right amount of cake for lil’s magical birthday party, plus enough for everyone to have a taste.

Birthday Cake at Disneyland

All and all lilStrange had the most perfect, magical, princess filled Disney day and absolutely loved her first taste of birthday cake.

Disney Birthday

For more info on celebrating your birthday at Disneyland check out their web page here.

Thank you Disneyland for making lilStrange’s first birthday so special, I was not compensated for this post but was provided with two park hopper tickets to help facilitate the writing of this post.

NYC Sidewalks: A history lesson

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When walking around New York City have you ever slowed your steps and looked down towards the sidewalk? The sidewalks surface of pavement, grates, manhole covers, cracks and little glass circles can tell a rich history of the city.

While walking around our neighborhood H kept pointing and asking about all the details he spotted on the sidewalk. He was totally fascinated by the little glass circles called vault lights. Vault lights are old glass prisms set into sidewalks to let natural light into the basements below. In NYC vault lights are remnants of the late 19th century industrial factory days, before the introduction of electricity.

Vault Lights NYC SidewalksNext he pointed out a manhole cover, I explained to him that it is a removable plate forming a lid to cover an opening in the ground, to prevent things from falling in. He asked if we could look in, and I said no, it is really heavy to open and is probably really smelly because it is a sewer cover. He then asked me what it said, and after reading the manhole cover I kinda chuckled.

NYC Manhole cover made in India“NYC Sewer made in India”, then I thought to myself, Outsourced. Why are these manhole covers being made in India? Clearly they can be made cheaper in India than the US and their must be a story behind it. Well I found one in the New York Times Region section, New York Manhole Covers, Forged Barefoot in India.

We walked past open grate covers, and watched the food being delivered to the local restaurants.

NYC open sidewalk grate

Some typical NYC sidewalk street graffiti that H thought was cute because it had balloons in it, “Kill The Balloons”, no clue what it means and Google produced nothing.

Kill_The_Balloons

I love how a typical walk through our neighborhood has sparked so many new conversations and history lessons with my kid. I can’t wait to show him the NYC subway map on the sidewalk next time we are down in SoHo.

NYC subway sidewalk map SoHoNext we will learn the history of NYC buildings and architecture details.