Kazaz! New iPad app from American Story Channel

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Kazaz! is a new iPad app, Launched by American Story Channel. The app features a world of interactive, animated original stories that will challenge and ignite a child’s curiosity. Kazaz! is easy enough to navigate through, so a child as young as 3 can explore on their own. The digital stories combine sight, sound and touch to help maximize every child’s learning experience. Plus the stories are challenging enough to hold an older child’s attention for more than 10 min.

Kazaz! Entry Screen after downloading it (72)

I enjoyed reading along The Magic of Kazaz with my son because the original story prompted questions about feelings and friendships, similar to what he is currently experiencing in preschool “Maybe having a friend would be nice after all” “try smiling more”. So my sitting with him allowed me to immediately answer him, and continue the learning and conversations beyond the app.

Kazaz app

Once you have completed reading a story from beginning to end, magic gems will appear for your child to explore the story more, almost like an eye spy type game. My son also enjoyed watching the Hubble Space Telescope looking deep, movie at the end of the story, he is so fascinated with everything from space and the solar system right now.

Planet Kazaz and Travelogue Strip for story information and selection (72)

The Kazaz! app is free to download for iPad, is ideal for children ages 3 to 8 and comes with 3 stories at launch:

  • The Magic of Kazaz: Reveals the history of how Kazaz! became a magical planet. This story will always be free.
  • I Am the Music Man: Sing along with the Music Man in this hand-clapping, toe-tapping rendition of a classic children’s melody. Cost additional $1.99.
  • The Story of Wooding: The tale of an adventurous young swan who sets off on an exciting journey. Cost additional $2.99.

Kazaz! on the App Store from Kazaz! on Vimeo.

This is only the beginning for Kazaz! and its parent company, American Story Channel. Future plans include additional stories, more sophisticated gamification experiences, availability in 11 languages, 3D figures in real gold and silver, and a children’s animated TV series, among other exciting developments.

What is your kids current favorite iPad app?

As always all opinions expressed here are my own

Kate Spade and Jack Spade for GapKids

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GapKids is starting off the holiday season right, with their new designer collaboration, Kate Spade + Jack Spade for Gap. GapKids has already had successful past collaborations with Stella McCartney and Diane von Furstenberg (twice). So, if you were a fan of the past lines, this new designer kid collection from husband and wife team Kate Spade and Jack Spade is sure to please, plus the boys get to get in on the fun this time around.

My favorite Kate Spade for GapKids is this bow print dress and these gift bow ballet flats. My favorite Jack Spade for GapKids is this googly eyes oxford shirt and this super soft hotdog scarf.

Here are some sneak peek photos to get you excited for shopping.

GapKids designer Jack Spade Hotdog tie Kate Spade bow flats Kate Spade for Gap Kate Spade Gap

The Kate Spade and Jack Spade for GapKids collection will be available in select stores and online from October 30th through November 14th. The price point for Kate Spade for GapKids is higher than the original GapKids line of clothing but it is not unattainable, and perfect for a special holiday item, that will be sure to turn heads, even in NYC.

What is your must have item from this new designer collaboration for Gap?

Happy Shopping!

DUMBO Jane’s Carousel

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Jane’s Carousel is located in DUMBO along the Brooklyn Bridge Park waterfront. The carousel has 48 beautifully carved horses laid out in the classic 3-row style (the outer row is fixed, while the inner two rows move up and down). It also has two grand chariots, for those who prefer to keep their feet on the ground. The carousel was created in 1922, and was originally located in Idora Park, in Youngstown Ohio. After the Idora Park fire, the carousel was significantly damaged with blistered paint and needed to be auctioned off.

Janes Carousel DUMBOThe carousel was purchased in 1984 by Jane Walentas and her husband David, she spent many years fully restoring it back to its original charm, at her art studio in DUMBO, Brooklyn. It was then given the name Jane’s Carousel after its lovingly dedicated restorer/owner Jane. The carousel is now perfectly installed inside the Jean Nouvel Pavilion, and opened to the public on September 16, 2011. Such a perfect addition to the Brooklyn Bridge Park waterfront.

Jane's Carousel Horse DUMBO

H showing his teeth like his horse, he kept cracking up about it.

We spent the afternoon in Brooklyn and the kids requested a ride (or two) on Jane’s Carousel. A must do if you are in the DUMBO neighborhood. The cost is $2 per horse and is opened most days all year round. Make sure to check out their web page for days and hours before you make the trip out to Brooklyn. Plus it is surrounded by a glass pavilion, so the views of Manhattan are unobstructed and breathtaking. Also when it is blistering cold outside it is nice and warm inside even though you feel like you are outside.

Janes Carousel Brooklyn

lilStrange loved ridding her own horse

Jane’s Carousel is close to public transportation, cute cafes, playgrounds, bathrooms and the highly anticipated DUMBO Shake Shack (make sure to order the location specific caramel carousel concrete, with vanilla frozen custard, shattered sugar cone, sea salt, caramel sauce and banana.). If you are up for a trek you could walk across the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan to Jane’s Carousel. janescarousel.com

Makeup: Five minutes, five items

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Doing your makeup should not take that much time. Once I became a mom I have reduced applying my makeup down to five minutes, using only five items. Now, I still don’t do my makeup everyday, but I am trying to get into the habit more and more. When I actually do my makeup, people comment and say how nice I look. I always seem to use “time” as my excuse as to why I don’t wear makeup everyday. So, limiting my time spent doing makeup down to five minutes and five items, not only saves on time but money.

Here is my before, no makeup face. No makeup faceHere is my fast makeup face, five minutes and five items later.

five minute faceHere are the five items I used to achieve this mini transformation. In order of application.

  1. Five makeup must havesMAC Studio Fix- A few years ago I stopped using foundation and powder and started using MAC’s Studio Fix, A one-step powder and foundation that provides a smooth, flawless, all-matte, full-coverage finish. Long-wearing, velvety texture allows skin to breathe. $27
  2. Benefit Dallas blush- I have been using Benefit Cosmetics Dallas blush for over 10 years now, and I still love the shade and sheer wash of color dusted across my cheeks. It gives my complexion a natural-looking glow and a healthy looking radiance. It comes with a soft, natural-bristle cheek brush. $28
  3. Revlon Illuminance crème eye shadow- I used to use a creamy eye shadow double-sided stick from Revlon, but they stopped making it. So, I ended up picking up this Revlon Illuminance crème shadow in Not Just Nudes last time I needed new shadow. I like its coverage, and it does not feel heavy on my eyes. This cream palette comes with four beautifully coordinated shades, that blend and layer for a new look every time. $6
  4. Smashbox Full Exposure mascara- I am not picky with mascara, but my eyelashes are blond so any mascara is better than none. It needs to be easy to apply, not irritate my sensitive eyes, leave no clumps, no lashes sticking together and long lashes. The Smashbox Full Exposure mascara hits all of these requirements. $20
  5. Honest Lip Shimmer in Pomegranate- I never wear lipstick, I think I look like a clown when I wear full color lipstick, but I am all about tinted chapstick and lip glosses. So, when I received this Honest lip shimmer I was excited to try something new out, and well, I like it a lot. It is not really shimmery, but adds a nice hint of color and the pomegranate scent is not to overpowering. $6

How much time do you spend doing your makeup? What one item is a must have in your makeup collection?

The New Victory Theater: The Old Man and The Old Moon

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The New Victory Theater is one of the best theaters in New York City, for great family friendly shows. If you are looking for a show this coming weekend, Friday October 10th, through Monday October 13th (Columbus Day school holiday) for kids 7 years old and up, then look no further, and check out The Old Man and The Old Moon, playing at The New Victory Theater

The Old Man and the New Moon

Thank you Danielle Wilson and her son CJ, from Dellah’s Jubilation for covering this show for My Strange Family!

We recently got to experience the magic of the show The Old Man and The Old Moon at The New Victory theater and it was unlike any performance we had ever experienced. With so many shows out on Broadway, you can instantly become intrigued by all the fancy set designs, sound and lighting effects, but this show was able to easily captivate it’s audience without all of the glitz and glam. The seven amazingly talented young men from the Pig Pen Theater Co. definitely prove that a costly budget isn’t necessary to engage their audience of all ages, as their creative artistry took us on a journey filled adventure with humor, suspense, curiosity and foot-tapping music.

By far, our favorite part of The Old Man and The Old Moon was their innovative use of everyday items as props, and the fantastic shadow puppetry throughout their performance. Plastic bottles, mops and garden tools were transformed into a dog and duck, making the kids in the audience giggle. Clever usage of a rickety wooden piano as a hot air balloon, had us seriously trying to figure out what else they could come up with. In once scene The Old Man was reminiscing about his wife and we were able to peek inside his head, and watch shadow puppetry depicting images of the couple in a silhouette. This incorporation of detailed shadow puppets, surely had the imaginations of the kids in the audience wondering how they could make their own adventure-filled stories at home.

There was a funny battle scene where the actors used their own bodies to form the bow of the ship, and they quickly popped open and closed umbrellas to imitate cannons exploding. Then all of a sudden we were watching this epic slow motion scene unfold like straight out of a movie, when CJ turns to me to say “Mommy this show is incredibly creative”, you could truly see the amazement in his eyes as he sat at the edge of his seat to take it all in. We honestly could have stayed and watched another hour of their adventure because it was really that good. CJ naturally gravitates to performances that include music, so we ended up going home and downloaded their album Bremen.

The Old Man and the New Moon photo

For more details about The Old Man and The Old Moon or other shows coming up at The New Victory Theater check out their webpage HERE.

Celebrate Halloween in New York City

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Halloween in New York City is very different from the way I celebrated Halloween, growing up in the Californian suburbs. Yes, you can trick-or-treat in the city from apartment, to brownstone, to bodega and restaurant, filling up a full bag of treats in a one block radius. However, in NYC Halloween is not just one day, New York City offers entertaining experiences for families celebrating Halloween from trick-or-treating pumpkin carving, haunted houses and parades. Whether celebrating locally or visiting from out of town, all five boroughs have an abundance of Halloween activities that are open to the public the whole month of October.

trick-or-treating in NYC

One of New York City’s most well-known Halloween events is the Village Halloween Parade, in its 41st year this October. Starting at 7pm on All Hallow’s Eve with the theme “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” hundreds of bands, dancers, puppets and all sorts of costumed ghouls and goblins will hit the streets of Greenwich Village. The parade takes place on 6th Avenue from Spring Street to 16th Street. Participants in costume must enter the line-up on 6thAvenue, between Canal and Spring Streets (halloween-nyc.com).

Halloween events and activities taking place throughout New York City’s five boroughs in October include:

The Bronx:

  • Boo at the Zoo at the Bronx Zoo: Get into the Halloween spirit with magic shows, scary storytelling, costume parades, a hay maze, pumpkin painting and more. Kids can also get an up-close look at all the creepy critters on display (bronxzoo.com).
  • Enchanted Wave Hill Weekend: Step into a world of magic at Wave Hill, where little ones can participate in crafts inspired by local folklore and fairy tales, such as building tiny houses out of sticks, leaves and some pixie dust magic (wavehill.org).
  • Haunted Pumpkin Garden at the New York Botanical Garden: This crowd-pleaser is back. Hundreds of intricately carved pumpkins are on display at the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, where kids can play inside the Pumpkin House, put on a puppet show and more (nybg.org).

Brooklyn:

  • Boo at the Zoo at the Prospect Park Zoo: Celebrate Halloween with arts and crafts, face painting, a trip through a haunted barn, and a costume parade and dance party (prospectpark.org).
  • Halloween Haunted Walk & Carnival: Prepare for all sorts of monsters—headless horsemen, ghosts, zombies and more—at Lookout Trail in Prospect Park. Meanwhile, carnival fun and seasonal treats can be had at the sprawling Nethermead meadow (prospectpark.org).
  • Monster Mash at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum: Take part in a costume parade, dance party, not-too-scary storytelling sessions and more.  The event is appropriate for all ages, and children are encouraged to arrive in theirHalloween finest (brooklynkids.org).
  • Halloween Harvest Weekends at Luna Park: Coney Island’s Luna Park kicks off this annual weekend series on September 20. Celebrations include family-friendly activities, fall decorations, pumpkin picking and more, concluding on October 26 (lunaparknyc.com).

Manhattan:

  • LED Tower Light Show at the Empire State Building: The iconic landmark’s second-annual Halloween celebration returns this year, with a spectacular LED tower light show, synchronized to classic Halloween songs streamed on Clear Channel radio (esbnyc.com).
  • Día de los Muertos at El Museo del Barrio: Partake in this 3,000-year-old Mexican tradition of honoring the dead with face painting, storytelling, dance performances and a lively procession around the Harlem Meer (elmuseo.org).
  • Wall Street Walks’ Downtown New York Ghost Tour: This tour takes guests through the Financial District’s “Underworld,” including the Trinity Church cemetery, haunted sites and dark corners and alleys (wallstreetwalks.com).
  • Halloween Celebration at the American Museum of Natural History: Trick or treat inside the museum’s hallowed halls while taking in live performances, participating in arts and crafts and mingling with beloved children’s characters in costume (amnh.org).
  • Hansel and Gretel’s Halloween Adventure: City Parks Foundation and the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre present a Halloween-themed show inspired by the adventures of the fairy tale siblings (cityparksfoundation.org).
  • Procession of the Ghouls at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine: After a screening of the 1925 silent-film classicThe Phantom of the Opera, a thrilling parade of ogres and boogeymen will be performed by the Mettawee River Theatre Company (stjohndivine.org).

Queens:

  • Amazing Maize Maze at the Queens County Farm MuseumKids of all ages can make their way through a 3-acre cornstalk labyrinth, pick out their own pumpkins and more (queensfarm.org).
  • Boo at the Zoo at the Queens Zoo: Go trick-or-treating, create crafts, watch pumas and bears tear into treat-filled pumpkins, and enjoy a haunted habitat in the zoo’s Wild Room (queenszoo.com).
  • Halloween Harvest Festival at Socrates Sculpture Park: Make a costume alongside artists, listen to music and enjoy seasonal foods from local restaurants. Face painting and a canine costume contest are also on the agenda (socratessculpturepark.org).

Staten Island:

  • Halloween Extravaganza at the Conference House Museum: Festivities include a costume parade, a magician, haunted kitchen, hay rides and face painting (conferencehouse.org).
  • Halloween in Richmond Town: The usual fun—crafts, games, costumes, and friendly ghouls and ghosts—is in store at this historic colonial village. And on weekends throughout October, kids can pick pumpkins at Decker Farm, the oldest continuously operating family-style farm in New York City (historicrichmondtown.org).

For more information on Halloween activities taking place throughout New York City, including a full list of dates and times, visit nycgo.com.

Thank you NYC & Company for this great Halloween in NYC list