Sunny Days: Sesame Street Celebrates 48th Season at Metrograph

There are times when I’m amazed by the opportunities that my blog has afforded me.

One of those moments occurred this past Thursday when the kids and I attended Sesame Street’s 48th season celebration at the Metrograph in New York City. Over the years I’ve covered many events and worked with countless networks and brands, but there’s something so special about the iconic children’s program that brings out the kid in all of us.

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Held at Metrograph, the retro-chic movie theater/restaurant located on the city’s Lower East Side, attendees were in for a memorable “sunny day.” With healthy snacks and fruit juices lining the concession stand, kids could grab treats for the screening of the Sesame Street special, “The Magical Wand Chase.”

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Before the kids headed upstairs to check out the playroom and passed hor’s deourves, they snapped photos with the famous street’s most beloved characters including Big Bird, Elmo, Abby Cadabby, Rosita and Cookie Monster. Seeing these classic puppets up close and personal is an experience my kids and I won’t soon forget.

Once we arrived on the second level of the venue, the kids enjoyed the toy area where they played with plushies, read books and let their imaginations run wild. After that, we headed back downstairs for the sneak peek screening in the theater.

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Airing on HBO today (Nov. 11), “The Magical Wand Chase,” is an hour-long special that celebrates diversity within large cities. In an entertaining, engaging and educational way, it shows children that they can explore and meet new friends from different cultures and communities right in their town’s backyards.

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If the character meet-and-greet and movie weren’t enough, as we exited the building, we were met with delightful  cookies and churros from Cookie Monster’s “Cookie Food Truck.” The unexpected sweet treat was the cherry on top of an unforgettable evening.

Happy 48th birthday, Sesame Street! Here’s to an eternity of helping kids grow smarter, stronger and kinder.

Be sure to watch “The Magical Wand Chase” tonight on HBO at 7pm EST. Also tune in to the season premiere next Saturday (11/18) at 9am EST.

Who’s your favorite Sesame Street character?

Nickelodeon’s ‘Top Wing’ Takes Flight Nov. 6

When it comes to the debut of a new animated series, my 4-year-old son is all in.

He anxiously counts down the days until the show airs and reminds me of its premiere every chance he gets.

The latest object of his obsession is Nickelodeon’s highly-anticipated new show, “Top Wing,” slated to land on TV screens Monday, Nov. 6, 12:30 P.M. (ET/PT). He’s been looking forward to seeing the CG-animated series aimed at preschoolers for weeks. So, you can only imagine his excitement when I told him that he could get a sneak peek of the show before it broadcasts next week.

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Immediately upon clicking on the link to the first episode, “Time to Earn Our Wings,” he was entranced. The action-packed series follows a team of four best friend cadets (Penny, Swift, Rod and Brody) whose mission is to help their island community and go on exciting adventures, all while staying the course to earn their wings as full-feathered rescue birds.

“Top Wing” is an engaging and educational series that will help preschoolers build self-confidence and develop enriching team-building skills, ideal for little ones new to classrooms and other social environments. Through relatable storylines, the series is set to captivate young audiences—it certainly did for my son. He’s watched the first episode multiple times and still can’t wait to watch the premiere on Monday!

If your preschooler is into planes and interested in learning about perseverance and hard work, this is a show he/she won’t want to miss. If the first episode is any indication of what kids can expect this season, it’s off to a flying start!

What are your kids’ favorite animated series?

‘A Sky for the Bears’ is a Must-See for Families this Fall

Like most working moms, the weekends are reserved for my two children. This past Saturday, we had the wonderful opportunity to see “A Sky for the Bears,” at New Victory Theater in Times Square.

The 60-minute shadow puppet show was fascinating from start to finish. The audience was treated to not one cute story, but two! Through smooth movements akin to ballet and impeccably-crafted puppets, both stories come to life before our eyes.

Photo by Serena Groppelli

Photo by Serena Groppelli

The first tale tells the story of an easy-going bear longing to become a papa bear. However, there is just one problem: he doesn’t know what he needs to do to become a daddy to a precious cub. After encountering several funny and ill-informed fellow animals giving him poor advice on how to make his dreams come true, he finally meets a creature who yearns to have a cub too, a female bear.

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The second story picks up where the first one left off. Now, the cub is born and on a mission of his own—finding a way to be with his dearly departed grandfather. After offering himself to seeming predators throughout his quest, he realizes that he doesn’t want to join his grandfather in the afterlife. Instead, he can imagine him dancing and playing in the sky without meeting him in the clouds.

Serena Groppelli

Serena Groppelli

Through imaginative dance and well-designed props, this family-friendly performance tackles heavy topics such as procreation and death in a smart and charming way that kids can understand. The engaging show presents a perfect opportunity to broach tough life moments with your little ones.

“A Sky for the Bears,” is appropriate for children ages 4-7 and showing at New Victory Theater through November 5, 2017. 

What show are you looking forward to seeing this fall/winter season?

5 Ghoulish Halloween Treats for Grownups

 

Thought Halloween treats were just for kids? Think again.

I’m far from the school-age set, yet I still have a serious sweet tooth that can only be satisfied by delicious candies. From fruit-flavored gummies to tart & chewy confections, I rarely discriminate when it comes to sugary treats.

So, this Halloween the kids won’t be the only ones trick-or-treating, I plan on stocking up on some ghoulish goodies from my go-to candy shop for grownups, Sugarfina. The chic confectionery boutique imports some of the most unique gourmet sweets from around the world. This season, it’s all about candies with a creepy twist.

Whether you’re hosting a spooky soiree or simply want to treat yourself to some zombie brains or indulge in sugary skulls, Sugarina has you covered for your Halloween cravings.

Check out a few of my favorites:

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These Zombie Brains will turn you into a brainiac after noshing on these squishy, gummy noggins all night long. Available here, $7.50

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Imported from Sweden, these Sugar Skulls will send shockwaves to your tastebuds. Available here, $7.50

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Can’t decide on what Halloween-inspired candy to try? Don’t worry, this curated Spooky Sweets 3pc Coffin Candy Bento Box®  will deliver a trio of devilishly delicious choices. Available here, $28.

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Time to pick your perfect pumpkin! These American made Pumpkin Patch gummies are bursting with mouthwatering orange flavor. Available here, $7.50

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Not just for Halloween, these Champagne Bears are perfect for any festive occasion. Available here, $8.50

What’s your favorite Halloween candy? 

‘Gazillion Bubbles’ Will Make Kids Bubble Over with Excitement

Like many parents, I’m always looking for fun things to do with my kids on the weekends.

Whether it’s taking them to see a new exhibit at a museum or a play at our favorite children’s theater—there’s always something to do in the city that never sleeps. Recently, I had the pleasure of taking my son and daughter to a magical place that they won’t soon forget, the Gazillion Bubbles Show.

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Located at New World Stages Theatre on the city’s west side, the bubble-filled extravaganza is one of the most unique and fascinating shows that we’ve ever experienced as a family. We watched Melody Yang, the self-taught suds expert wield her awe-inspiring skills by transforming bubbles into intriguing, bouncy works of art.

We observed in amazement as countless transparent spheres floated into the crowd, creating a lively interactive exchange that made all attendees feel like part of the show. Part science, all fun—this bubble-tastic, soapy spectacle kept us captivated throughout its entire 60-minute duration. Just when you thought the bubbles were slowing down, more and more would appear turning the theater into a delightful bubble wonderland.

Click here for more information and tickets to the Gazillion Bubbles Show. 

From start to finish, the mind-blowing display of bubbles was astonishingly wondrous and brought out the kid in all of us.

If you’re in the New York City area and looking for a cool place to take your little ones, look no further than the Gazillion Bubbles Show.

Below, check out a quick clip from the show:

 

Have you ever attended the Gazillion Bubbles Show with your family?

Olympic Gold Medalist Dominique Dawes Talks Family, Healthy Eating and Her Legacy

I remember 1996 like it was yesterday. I was a sophomore in high school and can vividly recall being transfixed by the Olympics. It was the first time that I watched the world’s biggest sports spectacle on TV and one gymnast in particular was responsible for my fascination—Dominique Dawes. The gold-medal winning champion looked like me and that was mind-blowing to see, even in the mid-1990s.

That year, Dawes and the rest of the U.S. women’s gymnastics team (often referred to as the “Magnificent Seven”) took home the U.S. gold. She also won the individual bronze medal—becoming the first African-American to win an individual Olympic medal in women’s gymnastics. These accolades and ground-breaking records inspired countless young African-American girls and women (myself included) to pursue their dreams in sports and beyond. So, you can imagine how excited I was to meet her at the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration earlier this year during the GoGo squeeZ activation.

Now a mom of two, the former gymnast is a GoGo squeeZ Goodness Ambassador where she helps further the applesauce and yogurt brand’s mission of making it easier for kids and families to be a little healthier and happier every day.

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I recently caught up with Dominique to discuss food, family and of course winning the gold! Check out our Q&A below:

BGG: What’s your favorite meal to prepare for your children? Why?
Dominique Dawes: For my two kids, I must be creative, but I have some picky eaters. One day they will love my mac and cheese with roasted cauliflower added in and then another day they won’t even touch it.  My girls do love Brussels sprouts and broccoli so I have made a few different renditions of those vegetables. Roasting, sautéing, adding garlic, twist of lemon, and a few other ingredients that will attract their last buds. And anything that provides protein, fruit and/or veggies is a win in my book when it comes to snacks. Bonus points if I can take it on the go, like GoGo squeeZ YogurtZ or peanut butter and a banana.

BGG: How do you incorporate GoGo squeeZ into your daughters’ meals? Do you have any fun recipes that you make with the applesauces?
DD: My girls love granola bars, so one of our favorite things to make together are my YogurtZ Bars using GoGo squeeZ YogurtZ. We make them using Strawberry or Banana GoGo squeeZ YogurtZ, fruit, nuts, and a few other simple ingredients. They take just 25 minutes to make, and the GoGo squeeZ YogurtZ gives them 4 grams of protein and a good source of calcium and vitamin D. I add that to their lunch to balance out their meal. They feel like they’re having a treat, but it’s something I feel good about them eating!  Also, I love to add GoGo squeeZ YogurtZ to their smoothies!

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BGG: How do you instill healthy eating habits in your children at such a young age?
DD: I provide them with a variety of different healthy options and I love spices and fresh herbs that add to the flavoring of all types of foods that I make for my girls.  They have enjoyed going to the farmer’s market and we talk about the different foods and how they are grown.  For the past two years, we have had a small herb and vegetable garden on our deck so my daughters feel like they have some ownership over the food that we make. Weekly, they will cut fresh herbs or a vegetable from our garden and add it to a dish that we make together.

BGG: How do your daughters inspire you?
DD: They remind me what’s important in life. It’s about enjoying the little things.  When we will go for a walk and they will stop to pick a flower and comment on its fragrance, to pick up a caterpillar and inspect every spot on its back, they will stop when they hear a bird chirping and wait patiently for it to fly from a tree…I am amazed to see life through the eyes of my daughters because that is when I realize that all the things that I worry about are not important.

BGG: What’s the biggest misconception about motherhood?
DD: That motherhood is routine. Every day is different from the next.

BGG: I know you started taking gymnastics classes when you were six, did you always have dreams of becoming an Olympic Gold Medalist?
DD: My dreams of becoming an Olympic wasn’t until I was around 11 years old.  I won a local competition and the journey began soon after that.

BGG: As the first African-American to make the national women’s team and the first to win an individual medal in women’s gymnastics, what advice would you give to aspiring young gymnasts of color?
DD: Well, the beauty is that Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles have continued to pave the way for young girls of color to see the sport of gymnastics as an opportunity for them to excel. Having positive role models that are examples of a strong work ethic and never giving is key.

BGG: If you weren’t a three-time Olympic champion, what kind of career would you have pursued?
DD: FBI agent.

BGG: Would you ever want your girls to become professional athletes?
DD: No, I want them to have a more well-rounded childhood and not make the same sacrifices that I did.

BGG: It’s been 21 years since you won the Olympic gold, other than winning, what stands out to you the most about that time in your life?
DD: What stands out most is that even after 21 years of making history people still come up to up to me to talk about that historic moment.  They remember where they were and the emotions they felt.  Just the other day two young kids came to my door for a photo because their dad and grandmother told them about my career.  So, I showed them my gold medal and they both lit up and talked about my performances that they looked at on YouTube.

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BGG: What fun activities do you and your family enjoy doing to stay healthy?
DD: We are a very active family.  My girls don’t care to sit still of long so we are always out walking, at the park, biking, going to open gym at a local gymnastics gym or just dancing at our home.  My husband loves to have dance parties with the girls and both my girls love performing gymnastics moves in our living room so there is never dull moment at home.

BGG: Do you have a workout regimen to maintain your healthy lifestyle?  
DD: My workout regimen today is being active and engaged with my girls daily. It’s incredible how two toddlers can put me through a much more rigorous workout keeping up with them than a fitness class.

BGG: What do you want your legacy to be?
DD: I would like to be known as a mother that put her faith and family first.  Inspiring others along the way either it be through my Olympic accomplishments or philanthropic endeavors (encouraging others to live a healthy lifestyle) would be icing on the cake.

Do you remember watching Dominique Dawes during the 1996 Olympics? What healthy snack wins the gold in your household?

4 Tips to Get Your Child Ready (and Comfortable) for the First Days of Preschool

It’s hard to believe that summer is basically over. For us moms, it’s even more bittersweet because our little ones are heading back to school. With my daughter starting second grade and my 3-year-old son entering pre-school this week, mixed emotions are running high in my household.

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Me and my little MJ. I love him to pieces! I’m sure he’ll thrive in preschool despite his current anxiety.

While my daughter is beyond excited to go back to school and socialize with her friends, my son is expressing just the opposite. He’s scared, uncertain and downright sad about this new transition in his young life. If your child is also showing signs that he’s not exactly thrilled to spend his days coloring with other kids and participating in circle time, don’t worry—I’ve got you covered.

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Here’s a list of things to do that will hopefully make the transition smoother for you and your child:

  1. Read to your child. Carve out time to read books about preschool in the days leading up to his big day. Books focused on the first day of school will give him an idea of what to expect in the coming days, while giving the two of you quality time. “The Night Before Preschool,” by Natasha Wing is an excellent choice!
  2. Reinforce self-help skills. Now’s the time to let them exert their independence. Encourage them to use the bathroom alone (hand-washing and properly wiping after using the toilet included), put on their shoes, open their snacks, etc. By allowing them to do these things on their own, boosts their confidence and gets them ready for this big stage in their lives.
  3. Start a special routine. Kids love consistency. Create a fun routine that doesn’t take too much time in the morning, but still reassures him that you’re there for him and will continue to be. Whether it’s allowing him to set the table for breakfast or encouraging him to draw a picture before drop-off, the regularity will help him feel secure.
  4. Encourage self-expression. In many cases, this is your child’s first time in a setting where you won’t be present. To a preschooler, that’s frightening. Embolden them to talk about their feelings and why they feel apprehensive or fearful. Knowing that you’re listening and supportive will make them feel safe and loved.

Retail therapy may not be the antidote to your preschooler’s back-to-school jitters, but it definitely won’t hurt. To get your family in the pre-fall, back-to-school spirit, I’ve partnered with Hanes for a fun back-to-school giveaway!

**One lucky reader will win a $50 Visa Hanes gift card, along with 3 back-to-school styles (socks, tees and underwear) from Hanes. The contest is only open to U.S. residents and will run until September 18th, 2017. To enter, simply leave a comment or tweet me with how you plan to make (or made) back-to-school fun for your child. A lucky winner will be notified via email or Twitter by September 20th.

How do you plan to make (or made) back-to-school fun for your child?