First Candle Gala with Regal Lager

This blog allows me many opportunities that I would never have access to if not for this platform. And while some perks are extravagant and come in the form of press trips or meeting some interesting people, once in the while something truly meaningful comes my way that makes me stop and think about the bigger picture.

Last friday I attended the very formal, First Candle Gala in NYC. First Candle is an amazing non-Profit organization that helps families all over the world by ensuring safe pregnancies and infant life. I really want to tell you about the great work this organization is doing because it’s so very valuable.

First Candle is an organization that works hard to educate caretakers, parents, and day care workers about proper infant care to ensure that babies are given the best possible chance to reach their first birthday and birthdays beyond.

I attended as a guest of the baby gear company – Regal Lager. It was such an honor to be part of this very important and touching evening that raised funds to further spread this important message.

I spend my professional life as a writer, commentator and expert in the parenting and baby gear areas. Attending this  important gala was very special to me as a contributor to this topic in the online space.

Allison Jacobsen, the founder of Safety Mom, was the host for the evening and shared her touching story of how she lost her baby to SIDS in 1997. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is very real and Allison took her devastation from losing her child to be the preeminent voice of infant sleep safety.

The message of Safe-Sleep gives the public tips about making sure babies always sleep in their backs and that there are no soft, loose bedding or toys in the baby’s crib.

The gala was a buzz with media, parents, advocates, baby gear companies and supporters of First Candle.

Some of my pals from the parenting space – Elisabeth Bergoo from regal Lager, Brianne Manz from Stroller in The City,Jessica Hartshorn from Parents Magazine, Melisa Fluhr from Project Nursery, Serena Noor from Cool Mom Picks, Eric Messinger from New York Family, and a handful of NYC’s social influencers in the parenting space were all in attendance to support First Candle.

First Candle

At the end of our decadent dinner, a single cupcake with a candle was served to all the guests to symbolize baby’s first birthday. It was very touching and makes you really appreciate everything this organization and all the companies in the room were fighting for.

Please visit FIRSTCANDLE.ORG for more information.

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20 days of school with Schoola

This post is sponsored by Schoola. 

The New York Mom

It’s Back To School time and I’ve partnered with SCHOOLA and their 20 days of school campaign, to help raise 25,000 for Kipp Academy in the Bronx to help fund their music program.

If you know me at all you know that my heart is in arts education. As a fierce advocate for the Arts, I support arts education right from elementary school. This project makes me so happy and I really hope you are inspired to join me.

Kipp Academy in the Bronx REALLY needs this program. 95% of the kids qualify for free or reduced cost lunch. 95 PERCENT!!! More than one in seven kids, at KIPP academy,  receives special education services. Music helps KIPP Academy reach and engage every child who enters its doors. The slogan on the Music Room wall sets the stage—All of Us Will Learn Music.

Arts education is absolutely vital to the development of young minds. Arts educations effectiveness has been proven time and time again, When kids are engaged in dance, theatre, music or visual arts they improve in their academics, don’t drop out of school, attendance in school is higher, find a focus and their self esteem gets a boost.

and the best part… exposure to the arts from a young age creates amazing little human who will grow and do amazing things!

I’ve had the fortune of being a guest artist teaching dance in schools all across New York City and it’s been the most fulfilling part of my professional dance career. Teaching dance at schools like KIPP Academy where most of the kids are at risk was especially fulfilling. I was able to – for a short time- give these kids a small escape from their lives while also teaching them about movement and art and collaborations. These kids don’t have access to the arts like you and I do. With programs in the arts getting cut in public schools more and more every year, we need more than ever to help out schools like KIPP Academy succeed. Let’s help them buy new instruments, let’s help them teach music to these talented kids, and lets help them make artists who will grow up and shape our creative future!

I’m thrilled to share my collaboration with Schoola with you and really hope that you – me- WE can help KIPP academy raise the 25,000 they need to fund their music program.

Schoola is an online consignment store  which sells only  brand name kids clothes. A portion of the proceeds goes to schools in need and I’ve chosen KIPP Academy and their music program. 

Here’s how this works. Simply shop for back to school stuff at SCHOOLA and money will go right to KIPP ELEMENTARY.

  • For every transaction made from Schoola, Schoola will donate $1 to the KIPP Academy.
  • For every person who requests a donation bag, Schoola will donate $1 to the KIPP Academy.
  • For every clothing donation made from Schoola and when you fill out your school information ( a school you’d like to support), $2 of every $5 made will go back to the school that you support.

Follow this link so we can help KIPP Academy! —> SCHOOLA

It’s going to take so little to make such a big difference!!!

This post is brought to you by Schoola, the best place to buy discounted kids clothes all while give back to schools in need. Click here to learn more about Schoola. Click here to see what people are saying.

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Little Luxuries

My sweet little Thomas is sick today. He’s a bit clammy and warm and his teeth are hurting him. After taking Lily to school this morning, I came home and snuggled up back in bed with him and he fell asleep right on my belly.

His little body is so uncomfortable that when I put him down in his bed he immediately wakes and cries. So I’ve decided to say – forget the day- and here i am  in bed with him for as long as it takes. It’s humbly to think that to my sweet little Thomas, I’m the only one who can calm his ailing body by letting him lay on my chest.

baby

AS I was thumbing through my online bookmarks, I came across this beautiful and touching article about the over 22,000 homeless children in NYC. This number is staggering and it’s only KIDS… not the parents or the numerous others.

If you have a moment to read today, please read this article. INVISIBLE CHILD. it will move you to tears and make you really grateful for all your luxuries. There are so many children – like this article stated- who have no place to live and no oxygen to breathe. And that poor baby who is being kept warm by a hairdryer…It’s heartbreaking.

Makes me want to run out and help… but how! We help through our church but I feel like I need to find a more direct way to get involved.

My sweet Thom, sick on this bitterly cold day in New York… has all the warmth, comfort and care he could possibly need. I am so thankful to have this life of mine and feel blessed that my sweet children don’t have to worry about meals and warmth and basic comforts. and that i can be home and just lay here in bed with soothing my sick baby.

Count your blessings… I count mine everyday.

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Giving Tuesday with Mommy Nearest App

Did you know that Tuesday, December 3rd is GIVING TUESDAY.

With all the focus on getting steals and deals on clothes and tech and toys…Giving Tuesday encourages us to GIVE to families in need.

Giving Tuesday

In the spirit of the holidays, Mommy Nearest, a local resource guide mobile app for parents on the go, is teaming up with 92Y & Giggle on #GivingTuesday, December 3rd, to host a clothing and toy drive for people in need. Families with their children can donate goods at any of Giggle’s 3 locations, Soho, UES and UWS, or at the 92Y. After donating, families are asked to stop by the headquarters at the 92Y to take a holiday photo in a branded MotorBooth truck.

All participants who upload a photo tagged #MommyNearest will be entered to win an annual subscription to SPARKBOX Toys ($249 value).

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Mommy Nearest is a fab new app that helps parents get the inside scoop on all the kid friendly hot spots in the neighborhood. Which restaurants has the cleanest bathrooms WITH diaper changing stations, kid friendly restos..etc. You can download the app for ANDROID and APPLE products.

Make sure to follow #givingTuesday tomorrow see all the goodness going on in our online communities.

To find out more information about this fab event tomorrow click here —>  MOMMY NEAREST 

* This post is sponsored by Mommy Nearest APP. All opinions are my own. Thanks for stopping by and supporting my sponsors* 

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International Day of The Girl #WeAreGirlRising Twitter Party

Hey everyone – I’m hosting a very important twitter party this Thursday. I really do hope you join me online!

Thursday, October 11  is International Day of The Girl.

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We’re hosting a #WeAreGirlsRising Twitter party.

  • DATE:   Thursday, October 10, 2013
  • TIME:   9 pm ET
  • PRIZES:  TBD

As mothers with daughters, we know how important an education is to their success. Unfortunately 66 million girls are out of school globally. Join the GirlsRising movement to change that and bring awareness to this critical issue.

  • • Girls with 8 years of education are 4 times less likely to be married as children.
  • • The #1 cause of death for girls 15-19 is childbirth.
  • • 80% of all human trafficking victims are girls.

 

HASHTAG:  #WeAreGirlRising

HOSTS: @HollyPavlika @TheNewYorkMom @Momiverse @StyleIsland 

I’m sure the conversation is going to be valuable and inspiring.

See ya Thursday 9PM!

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Expedia + St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital = Dream Big

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and Expedia is making it very easy for you… yes YOU.. dear reader to save money on your travel… while also supporting the efforts of the good people over at St. Jude.

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All you have to do is donate $25 to St.Jude and that will save you 10% off your hotel booking or save 20% if you book via the Expedia App. 

For as long as I can remember, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital has been a part of my life.

Thankfully, not because any of us were sick..but because my grandmother contributes to them every single month.

She say’s it’s God’s Work that they do  and we have to do all we can to help the hospital help the sick children.

Recently I had the honor of being a part of a trip that took me to Memphis, TN… to meet the staff and patients and doctors of St. Jude.

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St Jude Children’s Research Hospital opened in 1962 and was founded by the entertainer – Danny Thomas.

The story goes – Danny Thomas’ wife had just given birth to their child. Danny – in the early stages of his career- could not afford the $50 to have them released from the hospital. He went to the nearby catholic church and prayed – If you help me, I will build a shrine for you – shortly he got a job for $75 and paid the hospital. Years later… St. Jude – the saint for hopeless causes- was built.

We met with some of the doctors and staff of the hospital and it really puts you at ease to know that these passionate professionals at the height of their field are working … hard… to cure childhood cancer. Just knowing how much these jobs means to them… which really aren’t jobs at all…rather a calling.

A higher calling.

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Writing these words down are bringing such tears to my eyes. But not tears of sorrow rather tears of  joy. The amazing things going on at St Jude are nothing short of a miracle. Danny Thomas was a visionary and his mission to eradicate childhood cancer is almost complete!

While I was visiting, Expedia hosted an “ AROUND THE WORLD” themed party. Food, crafts and even DANCE from all around the world. Mikella of Travel Bare Feet taught the kids how to hula and do some african dance moves. Dance is a healing art and you know I was over the moon about this movement aspect of the party!! The kids and their families enjoyed the food and music and just the social aspect of it all.

I played catch with one very special kid who stole my heart! It was humbling to see the strength these families had when faced with such a serious event in their child’s lives. I was counting my blessing every single moment.

rrAb3Xihta_4F2sII__CuZa4_IXYeDzVJ2qQpTk8btQSt. Jude houses the families of the children being treated in the hospital.. and long term care families are hosted in the Target House. The Target House is beautiful and no design element is spared. Each common room is sponsored by a celebrity or a corporation. From Shaun White, Tiger Woods to Proctor and Gamble… these rooms are designed to the hilt.

The apartments within the Target House are just right to comfortably fit a family of 4.

A few facts about St. Jude’s:

  • No family ever pays St. Jude for anything. Not one single dime. Nothing.
  • Daily operating costs are 1.7 million, which is primarily covered by public contributions.
  • In 1962 – the survival rate for acute lymphoblastic Leukemia– the most common form of childhood cancer- was 4%. Today.. .survival rate 94%.
  • St. Jude is the FIRST AND ONLY National Cancer Institute designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted to children.
  • The Flu vaccine was developed at St Jude
  • St Jude accepts patients up to 18 years of age and cares for them for a lifetime.
  • Although there are only 78 beds in the hospital for in-patient care, they still see
  • close to 7800 patients a year on an out-patient care basis.
  • Since patients come from all over the world no comfort food request goes unnoticed. Whether it’s a Chinese black chicken with noodles or mac ‘n cheese “just like grandma’s” the chefs at St Jude are dedicated to bringing every bit of comfort to these patients.
  • St. Jude offers counseling to siblings, and family members of the kids being treated. There is also a special day called “ siblings day” where the party is JUST for the siblings. Many times when there is a sick child, the siblings don’t get as much attention, St Jude has programs in place to address such issues.

Facts about Target House:

  • Built on property rented via the Catholic Diocese for $1 per year.
  • Elephants everywhere- since Elephants represent good luck, There are elephant structures and painting and touches all over in every single room.
  • When families are coming in, the staff asks the families for tips to keep the apartments “homey”- they include favorite colors, favorite characters so they can include that in the design.
  • Since wall paper has chemicals that can harm the kids, wall paper is picked out by the celebrity designing the room and painted on the walls precisely.
  • 30 Riding toys for kids to ride around campus. Trikes and bikes and scooters and wagons! But no driving rules.. so watch out!
  • There are special SPA, Hair, Gym rooms where kids get professional stylists to come in and do their hair, nails… etc.
  • Walls are decorated with painting of elephants from various public figures – celebs, presidents..etc

As you can see… there is a lot of good going on over there in Memphis, TN. My heart was touched, my mind was opened and I made my grandmother proud!

Expedia is doing their part in bringing attention and funds to the efforts at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

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So what do you say… Let’s be a part of the EXPEDIA/ ST JUDE partnership. Go travel someplace and save money doing it. And don’t forget to enter to win one mama jama trip!

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Fringe Fever with Eva Dean Dance

There are many many MANY reasons to love summer time in NYC. One of my most faves is THE NEW YORK INTERNATIONAL FRINGE FESTIVAL that happens every August.

Ok so one of my lifetime goals was to present a show in the NYC fringe. And years ago… that goal happened when I presented my dance-theatre piece EYE CANDY. It was sold out every night and had the best reviews and my cast was the most ideal and my memories of this work and the whole Fringe experience was beyond anything I could have imagined.

I support the FRiNGE and if YOU want the BEST the very BEST… the very cutting edge.. the very NOW in theatre and dance theatre TODAY…. get thee to THE NEW YORK INTERNATIONAL FRINGE FESTIVAL my friend!

The Fringe also has a kids section. Fringe Jr. This is all kid shows and all kid friendly theater works.

—–> The NY Fringe is the ONLY curated fringe in the world. for realz. It’s not easy to be accepted into this festival. It’s a big deal! <—-

Eva Dean Dance has been around for a while.  I actually auditioned for her at one point in my career. ( did not make it). But think her work is fun and always a treat to watch.

When her PR team reached out to me … I was over the moon. All I want to do is support art and dance and especially modern dance ON THIS LITTLE BLOG… and here we are!

Peter Pan and Stardust Dances – Floating dancers on circus globes, bedeviled pirates, and free-spirited gypsies inhabit the netherworlds of Peter Pan, Esmeralda, and Tinker Bell.

NY Fringe 2013

I was able to connect with the choreographer/ artistic director Eva Dean and ask her a few questions that I thought you might like :

What was the inspiration for this piece? 

The impetus for Peter Pan and Stardust Dances comes from an interest in magic, joy and wonderment.  Peter Pan & Stardust Dances features original music from composer David Kahne. What I love about David’s music is that it is both cinematic and classical; just by listening to the music you can hear the story of Peter Pan come to life. The other dances on this program feature floating dancers on circus globes, a free-spirited gypsies, and twinkling lights. I love twilight. I have to admit I have a bit of Peter Pan in myself.

Has you created a work for kid specific audiences before? 

Yes, the other dances on the program were premiered at the Children Museum of Manhattan, First Night Boston, and the family-friendly programming of the Prague Fringe Festival.

A quick story about dance when you were a child. 

I come from a family of 12 children, and while I was younger, my family played numerous outdoor games that involved movement. One of my fondest memories of dancing when she was younger: I was about 4 years old, I would go into the backyard, and there was a dog that would follow me around. I would look into the clouds and just spin and spin and spin until I fell over. I would watch the clouds subside, I would let the dog lick my cheek, and I would do it again and again and again. This spinning has forwarded into current choreography of BOUNCE 09 (included in the Peter Pan & Stardust Dances programming), where dancers spin and glide and dance on top of a circus globe.

Don’t you just love it! 

I’m always looking for things that will STICK with Lily. What experiences that I offer will latch on to her creativity and foster her personality and life going forward. Dance… dance is one such memory and experience that will leave a lasting impression on a young mind.

So I say… grab your kidlet…. and your kidlet’s friend and head over to the NY FRINGE jr. this month.

I hope you take advantage of this amazing festival. There are TONS of shows all over the city and lots of times you can catch guerilla marketing skits happening on bridges and parks all over NYC this month!

First stop at FringeJr. –  Eva Dean Dance – Peter Pan and Stardust Dances

 Dancers: Julien Kanor as the Crocodile, Katherine Moncebaiz as Tinker Bell, George Hirsch as Peter/Photography and Videography by Amelia Tang
Dancers: Julien Kanor as the Crocodile, Katherine Moncebaiz as Tinker Bell, George Hirsch as Peter/Photography and Videography by Amelia Tang

Peter Pan and Stardust Dances
Eva Dean Dance
Writer: Choreographed by Eva Dean, Music by David Kahne
Director: Eva Dean
Choreographer: Eva Dean
Floating dancers on circus globes, bedeviled pirates, free-spirited gypsies inhabit the netherworlds of Peter Pan, Esmeralda, and Tinker Bell. Enter their world, illuminated by mystical twirling lights. A wonder for all ages 4 to 104 who believe in twilight magic.
0h 45m   Local   Brooklyn, NY   
FringeJR   Dance   
Discover: Literature   
www.evadeandance.org   evadeandance   
VENUE #8: The Theater at the 14th Street Y       Share/Bookmark       
SUN 11 @ NOON  MON 12 @ 4:30  WED 14 @ 5:45  SAT 17 @ 4:30  WED 21 @ 4:00  

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The frustration of not being able to help

I’m a doer. I do things… I get things done. I make things happen.

I can’t express to you my frustration in not being able to help out as much I want  during this devastating time in the tri state area.

In the past, I have organized and performed in dance concerts in NYC where 100% of the money is donated to relief efforts for a cause, I’ve helped in food kitchens, coordinated volunteers for organizations…etc

This time around I am 37 weeks pregnant and really can’t do much in ways of mobility. My energy has a short shelf life and it’s been killing me to sit here and watch all the help that’s so desperately needed and not react in my normal “get it done” way.

I coordinated a thing with my church this evening where our youth group was going to pass out Hot Chocolate to the 100’s of cars lined up to get gas…but as of this afternoon… no gas at the gas station…and no lines. So that was cancelled. This shortage of gas is also putting a halt to my efforts. We are saving what little gas we have in case I go into labor… my hospital is an hour away.

So how am I helping? I’m hoping to do my part with social media and inform people of ways they can help. I have some amazing friends who are doing great things in Brooklyn and Staten Island and I hope to help them spread the word.

If you have an event you are planning that’s helping out with hurricane relief efforts.. please pass me the info so I can make a list of ways my readers can help!

Stay safe everyone..it’s a long road ahead.

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Toms + Feed

Two of my most favorite ‘Do Good’ brands have teamed up and the result is really pretty awesome!

TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie and FEED founder Lauren Bush have joined together to create special limited edition TOMS shoes just in time for Mother’s Day. 

The FEED 12 TOMS Classics will be available for women ($58) and toddlers ($34), featuring the well-known FEED stamp on burlap material.

Through the simple purchase of these shoes, 12 school meals AND one pair of new shoes will be given to a child in need.

TOMS + FEED Limited Edition Shoes will be sold exclusively on TOMS.com.

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What is KONY 2012?

I received this video about KONY 2012 from a handful of my friends yesterday. They sent it to me via email and posted on my Facebook Wall. I have to admit that I deleted the video without even looking at it from Facebook. I sincerely thought it was some sort of rogue independent party political campaign and just did not want it clouding up my Facebook space.

After I saw this video popping up from multiple friends and even via email with comments like “This is going to change your life” or “so touching, let’s make it happen” or “Maria please blog about this so your readers can learn about Joseph Kony” I had to take a second to watch it.

This morning after Lily headed off to school and Matt headed off to work, I sat with my cup of coffee in my PJ’s with Jonah next to me and settled in for a 30 minute short on KONY2012.  I’m thinking… what is this campaign and why is it going to take 30 minutes. slightly annoyed.

Once I hit play, I could not stop. This is a movement charged and fueled by SOCIAL MEDIA. This is a movement that will find its end goal BECAUSE of the power of Social Media. I am touched, I am weepy and I am going to be part of this movement. This film has been viewed 26 million times since it was uploaded on Monday.

So WHAT is KONY 2012? Joseph KONY is the leader of the Ugandan rebel group – Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

What does he do?

“What he does is he takes children..from their parents and he gives them a gun to shoot… and he makes them shoot and kill other people”

“he is not fighting for any cause, just to maintain power”

through the years “he has had over 30,000 children in his army”

“The girls are used as Sex Slaves and the boys are a given guns to form the child army’

“They are forced to kill their parents and mutilate the faces of others”

These INVISIBLE CHILDREN have no voice..until NOW!

This film has been 10 years in the making, This movement has been 10 years in the making. And because and PRIMARILY because of social media we can STOP this man! The goal is to make Joseph KONY so famous that he can be arrested and caught. The goal is to have every person across the globe to know his face so he can be found.

This movement had been recieving a ton of negative and positive responses. So i encourage you to read THIS and a response from INVISIBLE CHILDREN.

My effort in this is Social Media coverage. Before you give to ANY organization… always do your homework. Some critics have called this movement SLACKTIVISM… because of the low effort of enagaement needed. But this is social media isn’t it? Your klout spreads the word! Why work harder when you can work smarter? If you do choose to get involved on other levels then you should! I think the point of the campaign is to bring awareness…and I say it has!

I encourage you to watch this film today and share this message with all you know. Post this very article on your Facebook wall and tweet it to the masses. You can take my entire post here and just copy and paste if you choose… please get this message out. BE THE CHANGE and make a difference. 

in 2012 – “The people of the world see each other… and can protect each other’

* I was not paid for this. I am moved and charged and am in awe of the power of social media and the human good it is doing!”

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