Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players

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We had the best time at The New Victory Theater, singing and dancing along with Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players. Justin is one of America’s favorite powerpop poets for the young and young at heart. He took stage with his band in The Mysterious Hat running at The New Victory Theater, for a very limited engagement, April 25 – 26, 2015. Justin Roberts Naptime Players

The Mysterious Hat is a brand new concert experience designed especially for the New Victory Theater. Bringing Roberts’ indie hits to the NYC family scene with intelligent and whimsically rocking music for kids and their parents. My son loved the puppet friends Willy the Whale, Lil Dave and Tim. Justin and the band played some classic hits like “Willy Was a Whale,” “Pop Fly” and “Yellow Bus” plus a handful of new tunes from his latest GRAMMY-nominated album, Recess.Justin Roberts MusicianThe best part about the New Victory Theater is all of the shows are kid friendly, they have fun activities for the kids before the show and a meet and greet with the performers after the show. Meeting with Justin Roberts was the highlight of my kids day.New Victory Theater NYC

The Mysterious Hat has a running time of 50 minutes with no intermission, and is best enjoyed by kids ages 4 through 7. For more information and ticket details click HERE.

Floating forest village tour in Cambodia

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In January 2007, we traveled to Cambodia for the fist time, and the country was still a bit of an untapped tourist destination. Cambodia was said to have 2 million visitor in 2007 and since then the tourism has increased significantly, and should reach over 5 million in 2015. The tourism industry in Cambodia is their second greatest source of income, after the textile industry.

In Cambodia we did all of the TOP tourist things

We spent the first few days in Phnom Penh, and ended our trip in Siem Reap. In Siem Reap we hired a guide and driver (his father, with air-con in his car) to take us around. Each day we were very busy, doing all of the top tourist things to do, and if traveling to Cambodia was not adventurous enough, we asked our guide to take us somewhere off of the beaten path on our final day of tours.

Our day of adventure started in our guides car driving through little villages and markets, on very rough dirt roads and needing to be pushed through huge “pot holes” a few times. Once the car could drive no further we got onto the back of some locals motorcycles, I had never been on a motorcycle before, and I was a wee bit scared. We were in a foreign county, that had just recently started seeing tourist, will zero cell service, on the back of some motorcycles, speeding through Cambodian rice fields to a floating forest destination. We eventually reached a shore, and lone behold a boat with bamboo wicker chairs was there. Oh and dirty mucky brown river water.

Mekong River tour Cambodia

The stilted houses were patched together and showed so much poverty

Our boat took off towards Kampong Phluk, a village of stilted houses built within the floodplain of the Tonle Sap. The shack houses looked like they might blow over in a slight breeze. The village is primarily Khmer and has about 3,000 inhabitants, these people depend largely on fishing and tourism for their incomes. Flooded mangrove forest surrounds the area and is home to a variety of wildlife.

Workers floating village Cambodia

Floating village along the Mekong Cambodia

Fishing Floating Village CambodiaAfter an hour or so on the boat, we docked at the stilted village. Because it was January, the dry season, we were able to walk around and explore the village church, school and small markets selling dried shrimp. This tour was such an eye opener to see how some people live in Cambodia.
My Strange Family in Cambodia

Main Street Floating Village Cambodia Shrimp drying in CambodiaOn our way back to Siem Reap, we glanced in on a floating market trading fish along the Mekong River. The Mekong River is a trans-boundary river in Southeast Asia that touches along China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.

Mekong River trade

Thank you to our amazing guide Kim for the wonderful day exploring the floating forest and villages. Getting a glimpse into the lives of the local Khmer people, I know with the increased amount of tourism over the years, this trip has probably changed some and costs a bit more, but it was really a once in a lifetime experience. Also beware of the scam trips out there that leave from the main boat dock and take you to a floating restaurant with an overpriced market inside.

Kim Cambodian tour guide  Is Cambodia on your bucket list?

Lincoln Center Kids

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Lincoln Center Kids (#LCKids) is an exciting new program at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. The goal is to make performing arts accessible to all, including more curated family programing, special events and behind the scened opportunities, for kids and their parents. LC Kids promotes and encourages lifelong enjoyment of and participation in the arts.

LC Kids Membership details can be found here, and funds raised through LC Kids directly support Lincoln Center’s arts education activities, outreach initiatives, and free performances. To learn more watch this video.

LC Kids Logo 1

LC Kids is kicking off their family programing, this weekend with a special performance of Sleeping Beauty with David Gonzales (recommended for ages 6+) and next weekend, Story Pirates Greatest Hits Show (recommended for ages 4+). Plus LC Kids Spring Fling, a free event in May.

Sleeping Beauty with David GonzalezStory Pirates Greatest Hits Show

Sleeping Beauty with David Gonzalez
Saturday, April 18 at 11:00
Clark Studio Theater, 165 W 65th Street, 7th Floor
(recommended for ages 6+)
Tickets: $10-25

Story Pirates Greatest Hits Show
Sunday, April 26 at 11:00
With a special activity presented by the Children’s Museum of Manhattan
Stanley H Kaplan Penthouse, 165 W 65thStreet, 10th Floor
(recommended for ages 4+)
Tickets: $25

LC Kids Spring Fling
Saturday, May 9 from 11:00 – 2:00
A fun-filled day of performances, crafts and activities designed for kids across the plazas of Lincoln Center!
(recommended for ALL AGES!)
Tickets: FREE

You can sign up for an LC Kids membership or learn more about the programs here: kids.lincolncenter.org

NYC public school kindergarten process

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We are waist deep in the middle of the New York City kindergarten process, and for some people the process is not over until their kid steps foot into their school on the first day in September. I hope we will have finalized answers by the end of May, but this is the NYC DOE, so we might have to wait longer.

NYC public Kidergarten process

Kindergarten aged kids in NYC are guaranteed a seat

For so many parents this waiting game is stressful, and the main NYC Kindergarten process stress is making sure your 4 year old gets into YOUR top choice school. In NYC your kindergarten aged kid is guaranteed a seat placement within your district, but not necessarily your zone (space permitting), plus you can apply to schools outside of your zone.

Most schools start monthly tours in the fall

Before applying to public school kindergarten in NYC it is recommended to take a school tour, most schools start monthly tours in the fall, previous to the February application deadline. The kindergarten application process is between January and February, and parents can apply up to 12 schools. DOE applications can easily be completed online.

Application results are given to parents mid April and they have until early May to lock in their acceptance. This year 72 percent of the kindergarten applicants received their first choice and 12 percent received one of their top three choices. 10 percent of applicants did not receive any offers from their list, so they might be defaulted back to their zoned school (space permitting).

Waitlists are another big stress for parents, but these lists almost always clear by September as families move or decide to attend other schools. But having to wait through the whole summer not knowing where your kindergartener might be placed must the worst.

NYC kid in Kindergarten

Gifted & Talented in NYC

Now if the kindergarten process does not seem to be complicated enough, throw in the Gifted & Talented wrench to confuse and stress parents out even more. For your kid to even be consider for a G&T seat they must take the verbal (OLSAT*) and nonverbal (NNAT**) tests. The application for the NYC G&T test is in the fall, one whole year before your kid even starts kindergarten. They will be given a testing date after the new year, and you will receive your kids G&T score report early April. Parents have until mid April to apply to either G&T district wide program (score between 90-99) or a G&T city wide program (score between 97-99).

This year 25 percent of test takers qualified for G&T programs. There is no guarantee that your child will receive a placement offer to a G&T program. The number of eligible students typically exceeds the number of seats available at these programs. Yep, you read that correctly, you do all that work and your kid scores high enough to be considered, but G&T placement in NYC is not guaranteed.

Parent will not find out about G&T placements until late May, so you MUST secure your kids kindergarten placement (early May) before you find out your kids G&T placement. This process then allows relief on the waitlists if your kid receives a coveted NYC G&T placement.

Your kid with thrive wherever they go to school

Yes, this whole process is crazy, but clearly if you are a parent willing to go through this stress, you are also a parent to a kid that will most likely succeed wherever they are placed, zoned, district, G&T city wide, G&T district wide or private school.

Good luck to all of you out there and hopefully this process readies us for the even crazier NYC middle school process in 5 years.

*Measures your child’s ability to comprehend information communicated through spoken language.
**Measured your child’s ability to solve problems using pictures