LEGO Ninjago City Adventure in Westchester – Review

LEGOLAND Ninjago

Calling all NINJAS! The much anticipated LEGO Ninjago movie is finally out in theatres and I have one very excited ninja ready to go! To celebrate the film, we headed to LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester to experience their new attraction and get a sneak peek of the new LEGO Ninjago City Adventure in Westchester!

LEGOLAND Ninjago

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester has an amazing new attraction – LEGO® Ninjago City Adventure. We headed over on Saturday to check out all the excitement and it did not disappoint. Legoland Westchester is exciting, to begin with, but now with a Ninjago theme, my little Green Ninja was over the moon.

LEGOLAND NinjagoThe new attraction has lots of cool exhibits that we loved. We loved the LEGO 4D film, decoding the secret language of Ninjago with Ninjago characters and even meeting Kai, The Red Ninja of Fire.

LEGOLAND Ninjago

But our favorite was The LEGO® Ninjago City Adventure which is a two story 2300 square foot play area modeled after the Temple of Airjitzu that the kids absolutely loved. In true Ninja training style, the kids loved finding their way through the maze and working on their ninja abilities.

LEGOLAND Ninjago

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester is definitely a not-to-be-missed destination. LEGOLAND is at Ridge Hill shopping center which has a ton of amazing stores and restaurants. The kids love being at LEGOLAND and Matt and I take turns shopping through – Lord and Taylor, H&M, REI, TJ MAXX, Sur La Table, Uniqlo and the super swank new Brooks Brothers Flatiron store!

LEGOLAND Ninjago

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester is in Yonkers, NY and open daily. But be sure to get your tickets in advance if you can because it does get pretty busy. Swing by LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester for all the details.

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Gender Reveal – and the baby is a…

It’s time to reveal the gender of this new bundle of baby! We’ve been trying to find the perfect way to share the news and didn’t quite seem to vibe with any of the ideas that we found. But when we figured it out… it was perfect! Here is our super creative – spur of the moment – gender reveal!

Lily wanted us to make a big deal out of the gender reveal. When she found out that Thomas was a boy, the nurse who was administrating the sonogram just told us in a casual way. She was not impressed. A gender reveal needs to be a big thing, she said.

We didn’t want to do the traditional pink and blue – gender specific thing.  Thomas’ favorite color is pink while Lily’s is blue. The princess/pirate reveal couldn’t work because Thomas loves dressing up like a princess all the time and we didn’t want to define those gender lines. After searching through Pinterest and asking our friends for suggestions… we had nothing.

Matt and I had known the gender for a good 48 hours and hadn’t figure out how to tell the kids… with the pressure of an exciting reveal as requested by the tween… we were all out of ideas! On a whim while running errands at Target… we had an ah-ha moment! We decided to rearrange the letters in their craft section to reveal the big news.

This was the best idea ever!!

Lily was impressed. It was exactly the big Gender Reveal moment she was looking for.

Pure surprise!

The baby is…. a GIRL!!!

The future is Female y’all!

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Hurricane Stories

Florida Hurricane
Florida Hurricane
I grew up in Florida from the age of 12 until I went to college. I also came back often while in college and we go back every single year for summer and Christmas to see our family.
The Florida panhandle boasts gorgeous white sandy beaches, relaxed life and a kindness from the locals you only find in the south.
I went to school in Tampa and my life existed within the perimeter of the University of South Florida Dance and Theatre Department. My roommate and I woke up to an alligator on our front step one morning… making us late to our 8am ballet class. Traffic stopped on the interstate because of a massive bull alligator chillin on the 4 lane highway and hurricanes were part of our seasonal everyday.
Floridians take and don’t take hurricanes seriously. Kinda like the gators… there are there… everywhere… you just work around them.
I’m worried about my mom, grandma and in-laws in Florida. There are safely tucked away in the Florida Panhandle… a place that I like to refer to as… every hurricane comes right for them!
Have you ever stood in the middle of the ‘eye’ of the hurricane? It’s pretty spectacular. Around all this chaos of heavy screaming winds, sideways rain and darkness comes the pure bright blue calm of the eye of the storm. It’s beautiful. Or how about those moments before the storm starts and every single thing is absolutely S T I L L eerie and stunning. The ‘calm before the storm’ is what they call it.
Florida Hurricane
  • When I was in high school my anatomy teacher would skip school on days before the hurricane so he could go surfing. It was almost as if this was written into his contract. Surf Days are a must. We would go out and watch the surfers tackle some pretty massive waves. 
  • One hurricane we lost power for nine days and my mom had a wooden DIY dollhouse kit sitting untouched so we spent hours by candle light building this house and gluing wooden shingles one by one. We painted it blue and white and it was our amazing project during the dark evenings that followed the hurricane.
  • After one particular hurricane, the roads were destroyed. The roads were just eaten up by the gulf water and you just couldn’t get across from one town to another.  The military was patrolling with tanks and large impressive vehicle to make sure that everyone had food and water and were safe. We had night curfews. Matt somehow sneakily drove across town to see me. That sweet teenage love makes ya do silly things! 
  • We actually drove to Key West during a big tropical storm once. Just to ‘see what it was like‘. Not smart but we were young and fearless. Have you been to the keys? They are a string of islands completely out there in the middle of the ocean. All the islands are small and at the mercy of the water and wind. It was very exciting to experience a tropical storm in Key West, everything shook, everything moved, the winds howled and the next morning trees were down…but the people continued like it was just another day. Pie stands were open, the chickens ran all over the island like nothing happened. Cats came over to ask for food and the big cruise ships docked like any other day.
  • While in college, in Tampa, we would sit on our balcony of our apartment and literally watch the hurricanes roll in. Our neighbors and friends would come over and we would cook all the food we had – ahem.. microwave the frozen food we had… and have these great hurricane parties. Without a care in the world.
These were hurricanes… they came through multiple times a season, they turned into tropical storms or not, we celebrated them and moved on with our lives.
Florida Hurricane
I know people are partying it up in Florida today, you’ve seen the images from the Keys. They are going to ride this storm out. I even know people who are out on the water catching those ‘massive waves’. But Hurricane Irma seems so very intense and I worry about my fellow Floridians. Oh Florida… this might be the big one! Be safe. Check in with us!
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Little Messes, Big Lives

Glitter glue marks are all over my freshly cleaned bathroom faucets. I look in the tub and there are little globs of slime, putty or whatever other science project is going on. In the kitchen there is Kinetic Sand all over the floor by the toy kitchen. Paint splatter adorns the side of the wall in another corner and something odd is growing on the kitchen window sill… could be a crystal, a borax project or a fairy garden with fungus. The little space between our kitchen cabinets and the floor plays host to dinosaurs, hot wheels and a myriad of tiny toys, I almost trip on a skateboard as I try to head out the door, the family room is cluttered with an unfinished puzzle, paper boats, Lego set that might get done soon, trains, marble runs and homemade putty or slime. Under the sheets of my bed, at any given moment, lives a dinosaur, a toy rat or a choo choo that “needs his mommy’.

This is our messy life.

In a particular moment of clarity – rare, very rare moment of clarity, I realized that these little messes all over the house are actually great big signs of a life well lived.

I get really teary when I think about the kids growing up. I love them being who they are right now in this time and space and I love how they interact with me, each other and the world around them. I love that every single one of our bathrooms is a fully functioning science lab with something growing, bubbling or waiting to hatch at all times. I love the neon pink glitter Kinetic Sand all over the kitchen floor because that was actually the food being made for the mermaids or some such tale.

I love it.

Yes, there are days where these messes only add to the clutter in my mind, the stress of raising a toddler and a tween, the fog of the life you are in when raising young kids, being in jobs where you are not valued for your worth… and it’s part of the daily never-ending routine of this messy life. Yes, I have those days. But then within the moments of clarity, I realize that my little messes are really signs of big lives being lived out loud.

These messes are short-lived. I am not looking forward to the days without science experiments in my bathroom, without putty and slime bowls on every surface, and days where conversations with dinosaurs are not a priority.

Hold em tight you guys… it really does go by too fast.

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5 Things to Do in New York This Weekend

The New York Mom
Dear friday… you know you are my favorite right All those other days.. they are just little weekly obstacles to get to you. But here we are… Friday!I love my weekends and we are always out and about exploring and roaming around trying to find trouble.  This weekend there are a ton of great things to do and I figured I would  share a few things on our agenda.

The New York Mom

  1. Hamilton – The epic musical that is sold out until next century has a significant show this evening. Tonight is Lin Manuel Miranda’s last show. So you know it’s going to be E PI C ! Good luck getting tickets. But if you don’t have tickets you could always stand outside the theatre after or before the show to catch glimpses of the cast.
  2. Hudson Valley Balloon Festival – * Updated* – We tried to go to the festival on Friday evening and it was a bust. There were no food trucks, the balloons were not set up all day and they never launched due to weather but never made an official announcement. Maybe this isn’t a good year to go* We are heading up the Hudson Valley this weekend for this grandiose balloon festival. We often see hot air balloons floating high above and the kids get so excited that we decided to go this year. There is a ton of info about this festival so just swing by the site to check it out. Balloon launches are at 6pm every evening and 6am on Saturday and Sunday as well. I’ll see you there.
  3. Brooklyn Flea/Smorgasburg – This is a summertime MUST in NYC. Located on the Williamsburg waterfront in Brooklyn, this flea market is a total scene! You can spend a whole afternoon looking at all sorts of interesting odds and ends while munching on  yummies from award-winning food trucks. Fashion, food, fun and kid friendly!
  4. John Jay Homestead Farmers Market – Take a Saturday drive up north of Manhattan to the John Jay Homestead Farmers Market. This amazing market is open 9am – 1m with a special scavenger hunt for kids. Local resident Martha Stewart has been known to ride up on her horse to pick up a few provisions. After the Farmers Market – stay in Westchester County for lunch at any number of great restaurants. I’ll suggest a few if you want. If you have kids – head to Muscoot Farm down the road to see the little piglets!
  5. The Amazing Max Live – This is the most wonderful magic show with a very entertaining magician. Lily and I saw The Amazing Max years ago when she was about 6 and I can’t wait to take Thomas on Sunday to see this show. Please swing by the site to see show dates… or I’ll see you Sunday!

 

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Celebrating with Breyers

This post brought to you by Breyers Ice Cream. The content and opinions expressed below are that of The New York Mom.

The New York Mom

What better way to celebrate the last day of school than a bowl of ice cream! And that’s just what we did last week. After Lily’s moving up ceremony from 5th grade we headed over to Madison Square Park for some ice cream and fun with the popular ice cream brand,  Breyers! Madison Square Park is one of my favorite parks in NYC. It’s not full of tourists, you have Shake Shack right there, Fishes Eddy’s across the street, benches that wind throughout the park and no shortage of people watching.

 

  The New York Mom     

Breyers is celebrating 150 years of ice cream goodness and we were invited to partner with the brand and help celebrate. I’m not an adventurous ice cream eater so I stuck with the classic Vanilla which was good because Breyers Natural Vanilla is America’s #1 Vanilla Ice cream. You can taste the fresh cream, milk and sugar.

 The New York MomThe New York Mom

To celebrate the 150th birthday, Breyers introduced a new ice cream variety. Aptly named – Breyers Ice Cream cake. This was the kids favorite because it features Breyers Chocolate Ice Cream and loads of chocolatey crunchies, sandwiched between Breyers Natural Vanilla Ice Cream

The New York Mom

The event in Madison Square Park was packed with celebs and ice cream lovers lined up to walk through the massive Ice Cream Container to learn about Breyers and how the ice cream is made. The line for ice cream, walking through the mini museum and photo opp was wrapped all the way around the park. People wanted some cold ice cream on a hot summers day!

A bowl of creamy vanilla bean ice cream is a staple in this house. That vanilla ice cream with the flecks of bean, late nights sitting at the kitchen counter catching up on the day or summertime family reunions with lots of soft ice cream melting slowly by the potluck outdoor BBQ party. There is a bit of nostalgia included with Vanilla Ice Cream don’t you think?

Lily and Thomas have discovered root beer floats. Summer classic right! Simply add a couple scoops of Breyers vanilla ice cream into a tall cup, pour some root beer to cover the ice cream. Add a straw and done! So yum. Make sure the root beer is caffeine free… we made that mistake once and had bouncing kids all over the house. Not a good look.

You can find Breyers Ice Cream at your local grocery store.

Breyers Ice Cream

 Breyers only uses milk and cream from cows not treated with artificial growth hormones* *Suppliers of other ingredients such as cookies, candies and; sauces may not be able to make this pledge. The FDA states that no significant difference has been shown between dairy derived from rBST-treated and non-rBST treated. The vanilla that goes into Breyers products is 100% Rainforest Alliance Certified,and comes from sustainable vanilla farms in Madagascar.

 

 

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What’s the Best Brand of Diaper?

One of the most time consuming, expensive, ongoing and smelly purchases you have with your baby is … DIAPERS. Parents can spend a small fortune on diapers and with all the brands out there, it’s really hard to narrow down the choices. So what IS the best diaper for baby?

The New York Mom

We tried a few brands of diapers with Thomas before settling down on Target’s Up and Up brand. We loved the diapers, the simple polka dots were cute and the diaper did well for us. All the way from newborn through the pull ups.

While we are out of the diaper stages these days, I do still work in the baby and parenting industry and keeping up with the latest of everything is sorta my job.

Recently, the company I work with, TTPM.com conducted their own massive Diaper Challenge. I recruited a few of my friends with infants to help us out with this project.

So basically… this was a 30 day challenge where we put 10 of the most popular brands of diapers to the test. They went bum – to bum! We tested over 5000 diapers in a 30 day period. My sister in Law, my neighbor, my friend, a colleague.. I really pulled people from my everyday life to help with this project.

Diapers were rated on absorbency, odor,  fit/flexibility, comfort and overall performance. This was such an undertaking by TTPM but it has proven to be a great resource for new parents out there.

In the end HUGGIES  Little Snugglers won the whole thing. We do really like the Huggies Brand and it was no surprise they won.

Our personal fave is still Target’s Up and Up. They work really well, just as good as Huggies and cost less than the name brands. This post is not sponsored, I just want to share my personal brand favorite which works just as well as the name brand and is cheaper. savin you some dollar dollar bills y’all! 

You can see by the chart where some diapers stood out more than others.

TTPM DIAPER CHALLENGE

With Thomas we tried eco – friendly diapering. We did cloth diapers ONCE… i mean have you SEEN what comes out of their tiny bums! Not a good look for reusability. TTPM.com did test eco brands and Seventh Generation was the Eco brand that stood out.

What do you look for in a diaper? Is an eco brand important to you? Did you cloth diaper? I would love to know your thoughts.

Make sure you swing by TTPM.com and the TTPM DIAPER CHALLENGE for all the details including comments from the participants.

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A Day at Muscoot Farm

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The weather has finally warmed up enough for us to throw on some coats and boots and headed off to the farm. The kids and I have been stir crazy and have been craving a good ole afternoon at our local farm. Muscoot Farm, is just a couple of miles from our house and it’s our go-to on any given day for hiking, farm chores, and saying hello to all the animals. IMG_1670   IMG_1749 IMG_1769-0 Muscoot Farm

I used to take Lily to this farm when she was younger and it’s been a treat to be back in the area for Thomas and his own farm adventures.

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Some of the pictures… the ones with the leaves… are from a trip to Muscoot in November. But I came across them while writing this and had to share. Thomas loves this farm and we love to support it. From the farmers market on weekends, the kids programming, Maple Sugaring, fairy gardens, farm chores… all of it. There is something for every age and never a dull moment.

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It was still a bit cold this week, but we managed. The trees were all being tapped for maple syrup and there were babies in the barn. Thomas is at eye level with all the animal private bits so this makes for constant, interesting, non-filtered, commentary for all to enjoy.

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Although the ponds were frozen it didn’t stop us from our favorite activity… throwing things into the water. This time we threw ice chunks into the water and watched them bounce all across the pond.

I’m so excited for the week ahead. We have temps in the 50’s and 60’s which means it’s flip-flop weather right!

We barely even had a winter over here and i’m still eagerly awaiting the warmer weather. Just thinking about flip flops, shorts, no jackets, no snow boots, no socks… enough to make a gal do a little summertime dance!

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He Named Me Malala – A Review From a Parental Perspective #withMalala

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Lily’s 5th grade class read about Malala this year. She was inspired and would come home and tell us all about this modern-day hero. So when I was approached to be a media partner for the upcoming documentary – He Named Me Malala – airing on the NatGeo Channel on MONDAY February 29 at 8:00pm EST,   I had to jump onboard.

He Named Me Malala is a powerful documentary about Malala Yousafzai. Malala is the youngest person ever to win a Nobel Peace Prize and she has proven to be this generations, hero in a very unconventional way. Unlike the heroes we see on the big screen – you know muscles, brawn, skin-tight outfits, capes, and magical transforming power, Malala’s strength and power lie in her words.

At the age of 11, living in Pakistan, she decided to start a blog. Yes… a blog. A blog where she talked about the Taliban regime and her support for girls to be educated. She gained fans and was shot down in public 3 times on a bus and left for dead.

He Named Me Malala tells this story and has real-time accounts of what happened, what has happened since, and gives the viewer not only the full play-by-play of Malala’s powerful story but also takes us into her culture and family.

I’m not going to go into a full review of the film, because you can read all about it all over the web. However, I would like to give you a parents perspective and whether or not you should watch this film with your child.  *Note: I said WITH your child. It’s a tough one to have a kid watch alone. 

Lily is 11. She’s in 5th grade. She has read the book and knows the story. She had lots of questions about the shooting and grasping the concept that girls are denied educational rights over boys. She had questions while reading the book and we answered them the best we could.

The film. The film is different. It’s visual and there are a lot of images that are tough to take in for young kids. The content is serious with visuals of the blood on the bus, her face after being shot, and imagery of local life in poverty ridden areas of Pakistan.

There are a few moments of emotional relief like the beautiful relationship she has with her father who, contradictory to the stereotype of Pakistani men, supports and fuels Malala’s women’s right’s movement, and another moment when Malala is caught looking at pictures of David Beckham online. I mean… who can blame her right. But overall, this film is intense. Especially for kids who have not been exposed to any context or real life experience similar to the Pakistani terrain, culture, and imagery in this context and storyline.

He Named Me Malala is a PG-13 film. And this is an appropriate rating. If your child is watching PG-13 movies already, then you should watch this because this film with its ( very few) graphic visuals and true change-makers- story that’s happening right now. At least this film has a better message than other PG-13 flicks where zombies are eating people or snakes have invading a plane or even 6 o’clock the news.

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This said, it is an important documentary that should be watched by kids in Middle and High School. The mature content will resonate and may even work as a call to action for some kids.

He Named Me Malala is an important documentary and PARENTS… you …WE… should watch it. To know the truth and to know what’s happening and to know that our children will be inspired by this strong change-maker.

What does the name MALALA mean? We learn from the film that – Malala’s father – who is a significant part of inspiring his daughter to fight for what she believes in,  named his first born -fueled with power from the beginning. Malala is named after the Pastun Joan of Arc of sorts –  Malalai of Maiwand,  who fought and gave her own life while she  encouraged Afghan soldiers to stand up against British colonialists.

He Named Me Malala will be shown commercial free on the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC channel on Monday February 29 at 8:00pm ET/7:00pm CT.

Another way to support this amazing story and cause is to tweet #withMalala! Between now and 3/10 and 21st Century Fox will donate $1 to the Malala Fund for every tweet tagged #withMalala. It’s never been easier to support the Fund and girls’ education globally. Tell all your friends to get on board too!

Please tweet this message —>  @thenewyorkmom & I are standing #withMalala Please RT this message to have @21CF donate $1 to @Malalafund 4 supporting girls right to edu! 

*Thanks for swinging by and supporting this powerful story!  You guys are awesome!*

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The New York Mom

Hi… we’re back from a long break for the holidays with our families – parents, grandparents, brothers, in-laws, cousins and puppy dogs!

Our life has been running on a pretty fantastic rhythm lately. We have settled into a great house in a great town, we have a lit of fun  renovations coming up, we have friends, family, health, laughter and we are good. The kids are happy and inspired. Matt is inspired and challenged at his job and I am surrounded by creative, encouraging people around every corner.

As we make our way into 2016, I’m not making any resolutions for this new year. I’m done with those.

Besides I’m not really good at keeping resolutions anyway.

Have you ever kept a resolution ever… have you even made it past the first week? eeks!

I haven’t… so this year… I am taking all the pressure off the expected stamp of failure and just not making a resolution.

I am however… the plot twist… I am making lots of short-term small goals for myself… small-short-term goals that will add up to a pretty productive year.

Things like –

– Reading books to Lily, who is now 10 and about to turn 11 and i totally take bed time for granted with her and focus all the energy into getting Thomas settled and she heads off to bed alone. Her teacher always reminds me… and all the parents of 5th graders… “remember, they are only 10! “. Still very much kids.

– I am going to slow down and take it easy. I’m saying NO to gigs and opportunities that come my way often and focusing on just a couple big projects for this year.

– I want to cook more. Yes me… gasp… believe it. I’m going to figure out how to cook and may even use my fancy mandolin or egg poacher I bought on sale from Williams Sonoma!

That’s it. Small simple, everyday, short-term goals that [ will hopefully ] add up to great big things.

What about you? What’s new for you in 2016? Hope its full of magic, adventure and laughs! The New York Mom

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