In a New York State of Mind

Looking to spend some time in The Big Apple with the family? Here are some great places to visit while you are there.

LEGO’s are fun for kids of all ages, and the LEGOLAND Discovery Center in NY is a great place to spend the day for LEGO lovers of all ages.  The adventure begins by learning how Lego bricks are made and a kiddie-version of the history of  little plastic bricks. After this interesting introduction, its time to ride some rides and visit some attractions. The first ride (one that brings you into the main area) is a sit down guided laser shooting tour, where you save the castle by defeating tons of baddies. After your victory, you head into a mini-brick version of New York City and the LEGOLAND area. Push buttons for lights and sounds, and well as mini-animations. The details are pretty amazing, and the spoofs will keep everyone giggling. Fans will find quite a few “Easter Eggs” as they walk around the town.

There are also a bunch of other attractions to check out, like the racing course where you build your own racecar to pit against everyone else- there are several tracks to choose from. There is also a magic couch ride where you jaunt around on a flying couch. Really.  You move it up and down by pedaling, and it goes around in a circle. Make sure you check out the 4D movie, a must for all LEGO Movie fans. Of course, there are tons of LEGO to build, Masterclasses to take (and you can take your creations with you for a fee), and obstacle courses to try out. LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester is located at 39 Fitzgerald Street, Yonkers, NY 10710

No visit to NYC would be complete without visiting the Statue of Liberty. Statue Cruises, the National Park Service providing ferry and related services to the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island. You can get there both from Battery Park in lower Manhattan and Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey. This is the best ways to see the statue in my opinion. Cruises begin at 8:30 am (instead of 9:30 am), with the last boat departing Battery Park and Liberty State Park at 3:30 pm daily- last leaving the statue and Ellis Island at 4:30. Tickets to the crown and pedestal can be booked at the same time, or just the grounds of the statue.  It is both an incredibly moving and educational experience, to see the statue and Ellis Island- for Americans and tourists alike. I’d recommend this experience for absolutely everyone- and leave the entire day for it, this is not one you should rush through.

Tickets to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island can be purchased online atwww.statuecruises.com, by visiting the Statue Cruises ticket office inside Castle Clinton at Battery Park, or by calling (877) LADY-TIX.

For more information on Statue Cruises, including schedules or reservations to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, please visit http://www.statuecruises.com or follow Statue Cruises on Twitter – https://twitter.com/statuecruises, Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/statuecruises/ or Instagram –https://www.instagram.com/statuecruises/.

And of course, there is Madison Square Garden. A New York City institution, you can see all sorts of shows and sporting events here. No matter the ages or preferences of your family, there is a show (or shows) that you are sure to enjoy.  We recently saw WWE’s Road to Wrestlemania while in NYC, and the kids and my partner had a great time- the crowd was a lot of fun, and the show was fast paced and exciting. There are a wide variety of shows to choose from- rock shows like Pink or Billy Joel, comedy acts like Kevin Hart, favorites come to the stage such as Sesame Street Live or Peppa Pig Live for the little kids, and tons of sporting events like the New York Knicks, WWE, UFC, and Monster Jam. MSG has a ton to choose from, head to http://garden-ny.com/madisonsquare/index.php to see the full lineup.

Ways to involve your family in your exercise routine

As parents, we all intrinsically know how important daily exercise is. After all, for many of us, we’ve been hearing about exercise’s importance for nearly all of our lives. Despite knowing how important it is, many parents will admit that their daily exercise routine is the first thing to fall to the wayside when life gets busy, tough, and challenging, and as parents, we can all relate that life is rarely not tough.

Isn’t that wild? We all know how important exercise is to our health, but at the end of the day, we’d rather do things for our families and homes than do something positive for our health and livelihood. It often isn’t until we have a major health scare or emergency that we get our acts together and try to reverse years, if not decades, of neglected health.

Probably the singular reason that more parents cite than any other, regarding why they don’t regularly participate in an exercise routine more days than not, is time. We all have the same number of hours available to us in any given day — 24 — yet many of us can’t seem to manage to “find the time” to exercise, even when we know it can make a huge difference for our health.

What’s a parent to do, then?

My solution, I think, is the best one I’ve encountered and one that will benefit everyone in your family, not just you.

What is it, you may be wondering? It’s simple, really: exercise with your family. Involve your partner and children in your exercise routine more often than not. Doing so will not only confer health benefits for you, but it’ll also do the same for the rest of your family, and exercise — in whatever manifestation it takes — can be an excellent way to secure some quality time with your family.

Below, I’ll describe in more detail some additional guidelines that can help you involve your family in your exercise routine. Really, it’s a win-win solution, if you think about it: not only will you finally be able to actually take care of yourself and your own health, but you’ll still be spending quality time with your family and, in the process, model for them positive and healthy behaviors that they can later emulate.

Some tips to involve your family in your exercise routine include the following:

Keep it simple. When you’re exercising with your family, don’t overthink it. In fact, don’t even think of it as exercise, per se. Instead, think of it as “play.” Think back to your own childhood and all the games you used to play with your friends or on the playground at school. Easy, pick-up games like basketball, soccer, tag, or simply playing on the monkey bars or climbing on the playground equipment can be a great workout. Your kids will love that you’re actually playing with them and aren’t simply scrolling mindlessly on your phone, and as an added bonus, you’ll be doing something positive for your health.

Teach your kids something new. Depending on the ages of your children, you may be able to teach them a new game or sport and involve them more in your exercise routine. For example, if your children are old enough to ride bikes, with or without training wheels, you may find that you have a companion for some leisurely bike rides! Similarly, if your children like to go on walks, consider taking them to an area forest preserve or park to go on a nature hike. Again, you don’t have to worry about going fast or traveling far, particularly if your children are little, but if they are old enough and sufficiently mature to handle a challenge, you may want to consider teaching them something new — like learning how to ride a bike or go roller-skating, for example — that can be a great catalyst for parent-family “playtime.”

Train for an event together. There are plenty of kids’ triathlons and running races out there, and it can be a lot of fun to train alongside your child for the same event: the child for the youth event and yourself for the adult version. While there are differing opinions on the appropriate age that children should be before completing such arduous events like 10ks or half marathons, most physicians would agree that children can benefit tremendously — physically, emotionally, and psychologically — from participating in a youth-focused event. Come race day, you will be each other’s loudest and most ardent cheerleaders, just as you were in the weeks and days leading up to the event. It can be an amazing way to bond with your child.

Do something accessible at home, like yoga. Finally, depending on the age of your children, many parents enjoy doing at-home yoga routines with their kids. There are tons of yoga options available for free online, and many of them are catered to families, children, or even pregnant women. The nice thing, of course, with doing something at home is that it will take very little time or energy to prepare in advance, and provided you have a reliable internet connection, you and your family can do it whenever you want — even if it’s late at night and everyone’s in their underwear.

What’s most important to remember when it comes to involving your family in your exercise routine is being patient and being flexible. Things can change in an instant, and sometimes, as parents, we have to go with the flow and adapt. It’s certainly important for your health to develop an exercise routine that you can complete more days than not, but sometimes, even with your best-laid plans and best of intentions, life will intervene and preclude you from hitting your workout goal for the day. That’s ok. Don’t get down on yourself if you can’t do everything that you’d like to in any given day, and hope for the best for the next day. Ultimately, do what’s best for your family and for you, and in time, I’m confident that you’ll be able to develop a routine — and put systems in place — that will allow you to better address your health needs.

AUTHOR’S BIO: JANE GRATES

Hiker and a sports enthusiast. Performing at the sweet spot between beauty and intellectual purity to craft delightful brand experiences. I sometimes make random things with friends.

When Your Kid is Having a Public Meltdown #GroceryHero #ad @Walmart

This might seem like a strange photo- but he wouldn’t stop crying until I gave him this carrot and that potato. We’ve all had those moments where our children are little beasties in public- and where we will do ANYTHING to make it stop and just get out of wherever we are in one piece.  What can we do to make shopping easier with little kids?

Impatient leg swinging from the shopping cart seat is often followed by a litany of Mom, Mommy, and MOM! Even when I respond there are times that my little one just doesn’t stop. Then there are the forceful kicks to emphasize his impatience. Maybe you avoid those dangerous little feet, maybe you wind up with a dirty shoe scuffing up your white shirt. Or maybe you share my experience… a day when those scuff marks were more than just dirt.

I confess that I don’t love all things poop related and blown out diapers and clothing. What, you know someone who does? Diaper days were not my favorite. So that day between the tantrum throwing toddler in a store I visit regularly, what I can only figure was dog poop (please?) transferred from his shoe all over my embroidered white shirt, and an otherwise too stressful week- there was a scene of epic proportions. I was almost in tears myself by the end of the shopping trip. And of course- THE LOOKS you get from other shoppers, ugh.

When I discovered Walmart’s Online Grocery Pickup I was elated. I get to stay in the car, cut my errand time by 80%, and save myself from the grocery store drama. I have always loved shopping, but that is one thing my munchkin did not inherit. Now I can browse from the comfort of my home, get everything my family needs, and just drive by and pick everything up. Someone looked at my life and found a solution for one of my biggest stressors. Now first time users can use promo code WOWFRESH for $10 off and find the bliss I have discovered with Walmart’s Online Grocery Pickup.

Once you and your child have bawled your eyes out in a shopping aisle it is hard to go back to traditional shopping and now there are other options to save me from my shopping terror.

Next time you shop? Use promo code WOWFRESH for $10 off your first Walmart Online Grocery order, and save yourself some cash and hopefully some sanity.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Walmart. The opinions and text are all mine.

5 Easy Steps to Potty Training Your Puppy

Are you one of the many people who perceive puppy potty training difficult—or even impossible? It’s actually easier than you think.

Today we’re going to give you advice straight from a professional puppy trainer on how to potty train a puppy from as young as 6 weeks old. So whether you’re a breeder who wants to sell ready-trained puppies, or a new dog owner; these tips will help you and your puppy succeed.

Develop a Routine

Routine is by far the most important factor in getting your puppy trained fast. There are three routine steps to take into consideration:

  • A feeding routine
  • A potty routine
  • A sleeping routine

Let’s look at each one more closely.

A Feeding Routine

Ensure that you feed your puppy at the same time every day. Your puppy will start expecting to be fed at that time each day, which will automatically prompt a potty routine.

Avoid leaving food out for your puppy for it to eat whenever it feels like it. If it isn’t hungry, take the food up and feed it again at the next interval. A great way to create a feeding routine is to feed your puppy once in the morning and once in the afternoon.

Take your puppy outside about 15 – 20 minutes after its meals to do its business outside. With repetition your puppy will be potty trained within a matter of days.

A Potty Routine

Apart from its normal feeding & sleeping routine, take your puppy outside at the same time each day. You’ll soon start learning how often your puppy needs to go outside to potty, so set designated times for it to do so. three or four times in the middle of each day should be sufficient—depending on how much it eats and drinks.

A Sleeping Routine

Your puppy’s sleep routine ties into its potty routine too. It’s important to let your puppy go outside just before it’s being put to sleep. Your puppy will quickly learn that potty before bedtime is the norm, and this will reinforce the habit of doing its business outside.

Read the Signals

There will be times outside of feeding and bedtime when your puppy will need to potty. It will give you signals that it is about to go by one or more of the following:

  • Circling around
  • Sniffing the ground
  • Folding its body

Dedicate yourself to watching your puppy. If it shows these signs or any other characteristic sighs of wanting to potty, pick it up and take it outside quickly. It will quickly learn that doing its business inside is unacceptable.

Establish a Designated Potty Area

Throughout your puppy potty training, always direct your puppy to generally the same outside area every time. The smells of previous potty sessions will trigger its memory, and with repetition it will learn where it needs to go for a comfortable wee or pool.

Deal with Accidents Effectively

When accidents happen, see this as a training opportunity rather than a failure. Punishing your puppy won’t do much good in the long run. A stern “No!” is all your puppy needs to know that what it has done is not acceptable.

If it’s a poo take it outside to its designated area and show your puppy that next time this is where you want it to do its business. If it’s a wee, pick your puppy up and put it outside for a few minutes.

Also be sure to clean up the mess with something that takes away the smell completely.

Use Positive Reinforcement

Be patient and calm while training your puppy and you’ll be amazed at how quickly it responds to your training efforts. Before you know it your puppy will be potty trained and automatically go outside when it needs to.

Healthy Humane Menu Plus a Giveaway!

With all of the garbage that is put in our food today, it is important to be conscientious about where your food is coming from. Not only that – but where your meat is raised is a BIG deal. By buying welfare-certified animal products, or more plant-based products, you send a strong message to food companies that you care about the treatment of farm animals. Most of the nearly 9 billion animals raised for meat, milk, and eggs in the US are suffering in inhumane factory farms. I know – it is disgusting and sad to even think about it. But where DOES your meat come from?

A normal medium size family spends hundreds of dollars each month on things like chicken, beef, and sausage. As consumers, most of us do not realize just how powerful we are. As a group, we have the power to make something a success or even push to have something inhumane pulled from the shelves. But it takes us as one collective to actually get it done.

ASPCA Healthy and Humane

It is time to put a STOP to these inhuman conditions and we, as consumers, can fully harness the power of our collective purchases and demand better lives for farm animals with the Shop With Your Heart initiative launched by the ASPCA. This initiative gives consumers the resources to recognize, locate and demand meaningfully welfare-certified meat, eggs and dairy products as well as plant-based alternatives.

Here are five simple ways to become a more aware and welfare-conscious consumer when shopping for your family’s groceries.

  1. Eat Seasonally – Eating foods in season means that you’re able to buy from a more local economy and avoid having your food ship from other countries. This means fresher foods picked at peak ripeness too!
  2. Shop Locally – CSA’s and local farmers’ markets help support local, often smaller scale, farmers, and ranchers who are producing outside of the traditional factory-farm system. If you aren’t sure where to start, visit your local farmers’ market and start asking some question – this guide will get you started.
  3. Conquer Labeling Confusion – Marketers create confusion with their flashy labels and clever catch-phrases. But unfortunately, sometimes they care more about finances than transparency. Words like “natural” or “humane” often don’t have any oversight to actually tell you as a consumer anything concrete. However, some phrases and labels do have regulations associated with their use, and that’s what you can start to look for as a savvy shopper. Here’s a guide to labeling to get you started.
  4. Be Careful to Minimize Waste – One of the ways we can treat the animals used for food respectfully and humanely is by making the most of the food we purchase. Purchase only what you know you’ll use and serve the right sized portions to avoid wasting what your family buys.
  5. Look for Certifications That Mean Something – Unlike marketing gimmicks, there are certain certifications and awards that have true meaning. For example the USDA Organic label shows that the produce grown (or fed to the animal) didn’t use banned pesticides. Others include Animal Welfare Approved or Certified Humane

See The Good Groceries Guide for more information about how our shopping habits impact the lives of those around us – animals included.

WILL YOU TAKE THE PLEDGE?

Take the pledge to be a more welfare-conscious shopper: aspca.org/shopwithyourheart. Everyone who signs the pledge also gains access to an exclusive Shop With Your Heart Grocery List, including welfare-certified and widely available plant-based brands.

ASPCA Healthy and Humane

MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

To fully harness the power of our collective purchases and demand better lives for farm animals, the Shop With Your Heart initiative gives consumers the resources to recognize, locate and demand meaningfully welfare-certified meat, eggs and dairy products as well as plant-based alternatives.

SHARE YOUR BUYING POWER!

Post a photo of yourself on your social media channels or use one of the resources here to show your friends, family and co-workers you are a part of the movement with sample language like:  “Join the movement with me and pledge to #ShopWithYourHeart! aspca.org/ShopWithYourHeart @ASPCA.” 

ENTER TO WIN!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Other F Word Series is Back With Season 2!

The Other F Word

Last year I shared with you about The Other F Word, an edgy comedy about a group of friends who find that the angst of raising kids may be nothing compared to the angst of starting over after they are grown.  The show, written and producer by Caytha Jentis, was met with so many rave reviews I’m thrilled they’ve just released Season 2! My only possible complaint is that it ended too soon but I loved being about to binge watch for free through Amazon streaming.

The Other F Word proves that we don’t have to be afraid of getting older – there’s nothing scary about “forty.” And these four friends certainly bring a fun, comedic perspective to the issues surrounding midlife for women. You’ll love the cast including Judy Gold, Steve Guttenberg, Gilbert Gottfried, Michael Boatman, Alysia Reiner and Nancy Giles. Plus, former Comedy Central EVP and comedian Judy Gold joins Jentis as an Executive Producer. The chemistry between these characters is brilliantly portrayed and highlights the importance of friendship at every age. With such an amazing group there’s no doubt Jentis has another hit season on her hands.

The Other F Word

Jentis will say it’s not a success that she achieved on her own, however, as she enlisting the help of some wonderful writers and contributors. While Caytha Jentis wrote the show, she had help from other moms behind the scenes and women entrepreneurs. One of the scenes was co-written by Emmy award-winning tv writer Judy Rothman Rofe who authored Neurotic Parent, while the musical within the series is written by the award-winning playwriting team Pam Weiler Grayson and Alice Jankell.

She also gave back to woman-owned businesses and when you watch The Other F Word, you’ll see many of these products featured: 10th Studio, peach, Adam & Eve Unbound Box, SheSpark, Pink Truck and much more. I love that! Head over to Amazon Prime Streaming and check out the show today. Together we will prove to Hollywood that midlife women matter and we are a demographic tired of ageism and sexism.

The Other F Word

As one Amazon reviewer wrote: “Humorous, realistic, and completely well cast series. Actors had great chemistry and it’s about time someone talked about the post mid-life crisis in a marriage dynamic and how life changes but get’s better!” And I agree – it’s about time! Click here to binge-watch (I mean check out) The Other F Word today absolutely free.

http://www.theotherfwordseries.com/

https://www.facebook.com/theotherfwordseries/

https://twitter.com/tofwseries

 

**Disclaimer – I was compensated for watching this series and giving my honest review. All opinions are my own and do not reflect compensation.

Visit the New York Renaissance Faire #NYRenFaire

Longing for a break from the routine, but don’t have the time to take a week off right now? Travel to distant lands and faraway time periods, all within a short drive from your home.  We recently visited the New York Renaissance Faire (or if you aren’t local to NY, you can find another in your area- visit the website’s main page for locations and dates) and it was a fun way to spend the day with your family and friends and get away from your routine.

Take a step back in time (but not too far back, it’s just fun and not a serious event) and get into the spirit by dressing up in the time period. Don’t have a costume? That’s OK, there are plenty of vendors there that have items to sell, from clothing to headgear to fantasy peices and beyond. You can be a knight, a princess, a squire, fairy, or anything in between.  We saw unicorns and minotaur this past weekend- really, only your imagination will stop you. There are also fun “theme weekends”, such as Pirate, Celtic, or Time Travelers weekends, where some Faire goers will dress accordingly, and shows will also reflect the idea.

The marketplace has, as mentioned, a fantastic selection of clothing vendors. Yes, you can try on before you buy, and better still, they will help you be fitted and learn how to get into things you might not know how to wear properly. Lacing up a floor length dress is not exactly pulling on a pair of sweatpants, is it? The shopkeepers are helpful and friendly (and usually very funny), so be prepared to have a good time shopping. Yes, guys too.

There are many other fun finds as well. All sorts of jewelry and shiny baubles (of course, what is a Faire without crowns?) to pick and choose from, plenty of toys, swords, shields-  if you are into it, you can even find chain metal and armor.  There are home decorations, spices, and a live glassblower that you can watch and then make purchases from. The kids loved watching him create, and honestly, so did the adults.

 

There are also many, many food options to be found at the Faire- some of the favorites of the Fairegoers being the giant turkey leg and the pickle vendor. Kind of an experience- I’d make sure you tried it out, even if you just visited because pickles really aren’t your thing. This year, the Village Bakery is redone and “re-envisioned” to be better then ever, and offers freshly made items like cakes, pastries, cheesecake, fudge, muffins, and sweet and savory rolls. Treats available for those watching their corsets, as well.

ren faire

While many of the attractions and vendors are the ones you look forward to seeing each year at the Renaissance Fair, this year there are some new ones you might want to visit. First, playing off the top TV hit “Game of Thrones” is the photo op “Gallery of Thrones”, which is an area of really beautiful, handcrafted thrones that you and your family can pose on (save them for those holiday cards later). Sounds simple, and it is- but it’s also fun and you will enjoy it. The Jousters have been a staple of the Faire (and a not to miss show) giving you a modern experience of an old sport, but this year a new team takes on the challenge.  Male and female knights take to the joust three times a day- make sure you see at least one show, and cheer your team on to victory.

Our favorite show had to be the Fire Circus Show, adults and kids all agreed. The entertainment was unmatched- if there was a stand alone show, I would have paid to see it.  Artist Geoff Marsh juggles with and without fire, water, and more, and includes kids chosen from the audience.  Better, he is hilarious, and keeps everyone rolling with laughter from start to finish. One of our favorite parts of the day, and a show that we highly recommend you take the time to see.

fire show

Open through October 1, 2017. Other locations and dates on the website. Tickets are $25 per adult, $12 per child, under 5 are free. General parking is also free. For an events schedule, please see http://www.renfair.com/ny/

 

Back-To-School Ready With Understood.Org

The back to school season can be a trying time for both parents and children. You have to get your child re-accustomed to waking up at a certain time, picking out their clothes the night before and then there is the dreaded new school year paperwork that seems to never end. But the beginning of a new school year can be an even more challenging time for families with children who struggle with reading and writing, math, focus, and organization.

Understood

One in five children in the U.S. have learning and attention issues, like ADHD and dyslexia. Children with these types of challenges can feel especially stressed during the back-to-school season as they face new subjects, teachers, and schools. Together the Ad Council and Understood.org have partnered together to promote ways children and their families can be First-Day Ready. Understood.org is offering a free First-Day Ready Guide to help parents with students at every age successfully navigate back-to-school transitions and manage challenges with academic, organization and social skills. Below you will find some tips from the guide.

Every child has a different story – some may love school, some may dread the thought of going back, and for some, it may scare them enough to cause real issues for them. Starting school can be an exciting, confusing and even scary time for kids with learning and attention issues, and for their parents. New teachers and classmates, new schedules and demands—these changes can be a lot to prepare for and absorb.

Plan early – A few weeks in advance, make checklists and calendars, and start settling into the school year routine with earlier bedtimes and wake-ups. If your child is starting a new school, schedule a walk-through to learn the lay of the land and help your child feel more comfortable finding their way around

Connect with teachers ASAP – If possible, reach out before school begins to discuss your child’s needs or learning style. You can fill in this card in advance to help guide that conversation If you can’t meet with the teacher in person, send your child to school with an introduction letter that can help your student speak up about his challenges.

Get support – Many parents and students are going through the same experience. Ask around at your school to make connections and build your support network. You can also follow Understood’s Facebook page to connect with parents across the country to share information and learn from each other.

So, no matter your child’s age or needs, make this Back-to-School season a seamless transition and positive experience!  If you could use some help getting started on the right foot this school year, Understood.org is a great place to start. 

All kids learn in different ways and at different paces. With the right support, all kids can thrive in school and in life.