I’m not sure where you are located, but the temps here in New York have dropped. It’s the perfect time of year to take a sunbreak, and last year I found just the place.
St. George Island, a 28-mile barrier island, sits four miles off the mainland, with the Apalachicola Bay on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other. According to Dr. Stephen Leatherman’s (aka Dr. Beach’s) annual survey, the tiny island claims to be the sixth best beach in the world! I have to agree…it’s breathtaking. The nine miles of undeveloped shoreline features some of the best shelling. If the kids are lucky, during May and August, they might get a glimpse of a loggerhead sea turtle.
Besides the beaches, there’s great fishing, nature trails, canoeing, and kayaking in shallow Apalachicola Bay. Journeys offer some great kid-friendly adventures. For $40, you can hop on a boat to scout for dolphins and visit Little St. George for a hermit crab race. Snacks and drinks are included. Local rental agencies such as Resort Vacation Properties offer loads of private accommodations. For $5 (per person, per night) you and the family can also rough it and camp at Gap Point in the island’s state park. Watch out for the “cat faces” left over from when the pine trees were turpentined. Hope y’all get to visit!
Looking to add some foreign flair to your kid’s room? Add a Parisian punch to your chambre d’enfant with these quintessentially-French toys.
These plush petit fours (Haba, $15 for 9) look sweet enough to eat. Little ones can pretend to nosh on these little cakes while sipping imaginary cappuccinos at a playtime tea party.
Take a sight seeing tour with this set of magnetic puzzles (Vilac, $30 for 3). Kiddos can build landmarks including the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, and historic Montmarte. The playful pieces have a sketch-like quality that recalls doodles by Picasso and Matisse—two of the artists who were inspired by daily life in the City of Lights.
Darling hat and scarf? Check. Cozy peacoat? Oui! This wall decal (French Blossom, 69€) is très chic. Stick the monsieur on a brightly-colored wall for a little joie de vivre.
If you’re in the New York City area or planning to visit, don’t miss Rated P For Parenthood, a clever, funny, and touching new musical at the Westside Theatre. The versatile and endearing cast of four takes you on a whirlwind tour of raising kids from conception to college, marking milestones like the first days of kindergarten and summer camp with savvy and surprising songs. For most of the show, I was either dabbing tears from the corners of my eyes or mopping them off my cheeks as I laughed hysterically. Listen to a sneak peek here. Parents readers who order tickets (for now through May 27) by February 28 can get a 50% discount by entering the code RPDRTM9.
I was with parents of my 6-year-old daughter’s friends over the weekend, and an interesting question came up. One mom asked, “Would you ever go away without your kids?” My answer: “Would, have, and will.” The mom explained that while she and her husband have had lots of overnights without their daughters, ages 6 and 4–thanks to their own parents–they haven’t actually left town to go anywhere. She simply cannot, she says. You can guess her big fear: What if something happened to her and her husband while they were away?
I get that; the same thought has crossed my mind every time I’ve boarded a plane since becoming a mom (whether my husband is with me or not). I told her about a friend who’d felt the same way she did, and how when her sons were 4 and 7, she had the chance to join her husband on a free and pretty lavish business trip to Europe. She decided to do it. She was a wreck leading up to the trip, but forced herself to go. And everything worked out just fine. But this mom was unconvinced: “Can’t do it,” she said, smiling and shaking her head. “I just can’t.”
Looking for an awesome surprise for your valentine? We can help! Just in time for Valentine’s Day (and Mardi Gras!), we’re teaming up with Zatarain’s to send one reader and his or her sweetheart on a romantic trip for two to New Orleans. One lucky winner and guest will score a two-night stay in the French Quarter at Omni Royal New Orleans, $1,000 coach airfare vouchers, a $250 gift card to one of Chef John Besh’s exclusive restaurants for a VIP dining experience in the Big Easy, and a Zatarain’s prize pack! To enter to win, post a comment below in the comments section from now until 11:59 EST on February 6. For full contest rules, click here. Make sure to visit Zatarain’s Facebook page or Twitter feed @MyZatarains. And Goody Luck!
It’s my turn to host the entire family for Christmas this year. Don’t tell anyone, but I have secret fantasies of packing up and flying off to an exotic place where all the cooking, hosting and entertaining is done by someone else! A great place that is offering just that this holiday season is a resort my husband and I visited last year: The Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa in New Mexico near Albuquerque, New Mexico. And even better, the kind folks at Tamaya have offered YOU, Parents readers and blog visitors a special family plan rate which includes a second room half off! Because is it really a vacation to stuff everyone in one room?! It’s not for me anyway! The promotion will be valid December through the end of February and the offer code will be PARENT. Click here to book.
Here are just some of the fun stuff that will be offered this holiday at the Pueblo Style Resort.
Tree Lighting Ceremony. On, November 26 children from the Pueblo of Santa Ana will sing around the holiday tree in the resort’s living room, festive decorations and a traditional display of luminarias as well as holiday-themed pastries and beverages.
Pueblo-style Gingerbread Making Classes: Every Sunday, guests will take part in an instructional course with a member of the Tamaya’s pastry team to learn how to construct their very own Pueblo-style gingerbread home.
Santa-drawn Carriage Rides: Each weekend, Santa and his reindeer will take guest on a carriage ride through the indigenous Bosque forest and along the Rio Grande River. Guests will receive complimentary hot chocolate and holiday cookies.
Santa Paws: Travelers are encouraged to bring their four-legged friends to celebrate the holiday season. The pet-friendly resort will host the “Santa Paws” event on December 3 which will provide guests with a complimentary photo of their pet with Santa Claus upon a donation of one pet food item to a local animal nonprofit organization.Artisan Market: On December 10, the resort will showcase the culture of the Pueblo of Santa Ana with arts, crafts, and jewelry available from several Native American tribes throughout New Mexico. In addition, the event will feature performances from Native American dancers and musicians.
Christmas Eve Book Reading: Resort guests will gather around the large holiday tree in the resort’s Living Room for a reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. Santa Claus will make an appearance after the book reading as he makes his way through New Mexico. The resort will serve a traditional New Mexico-style Christmas Eve dinner including pasole, tamales, and biscochitos in its Santa Ana Café and Corn Maiden restaurant.
Between my trip to Sesame Street over the summer and some recent events here in New York City, I have to say it’s been quite a year. I was recently invited to bring my 6-year-old daughter Julia for a private tour of Radio City Music Hall, followed by a dance lesson with The Radio City Rockettes. (Are you serious!?) When we arrived, we were greeted by Rockettes Kate and Lindsey, who joined us for our tour led by our delightful guide, Joyce. She’s been doing this for 11 years, so she has the knowledge of a true Radio City veteran–but with the enthusiasm of a newbie. Joyce led us into the Grand Foyer and gave us the backstory on the Art Deco theme and the breathtaking crystal Christmas tree, which must be seen to be appreciated:
Then we entered the music hall itself and learned that the layout and decor was reminiscent of a 1930s luxury liner, which is what entrepreneur and Radio City creator Samuel Lionel “Roxy” Rothafel was traveling on when he was searching for design inspiration. Even though the hall feels huge, I was surprised to learn that it seats more than 6,000–but then again, it does have the distinction of being the largest indoor theater in the world. We sat in the orchestra and then all the way up in the third mezzanine so Joyce could prove the point that there really are no bad seats. (Doesn’t hurt that the main stage is a full city block wide.)
We moved on to Roxy’s private apartment. He never lived there, but he did lots of entertaining. Fun fact: In the dining room, the ceiling was built in a way that encouraged optimum acoustics no matter how softly one whispered around the round dining table. The table itself is pretty cool, too; instead of leaves, it has a removable outer ring to make the table smaller. After a brief movie about the inner workings of the building–which Julia later described as her favorite part of the day (wha?)–we said goodbye to Joyce and headed to the rehearsal hall for the dance lesson.
And this is where Kate and Lindsey, who have been Rockettes for four and three years respectively, took over. They were the perfect ambassadors to teach us about the history and legacy of the most famous dance line of all. More than once (or five times) as they spoke, Julia would reach out and touch their Swarovski crystal-covered costume and bracelets–she was seriously dazzled. They were really excited to tell us about the new features of this year’s Radio City Christmas Spectacular, which include 3D scenes, never-seen-before numbers, and a clever premise where the Rockettes battle the Humbugs who are out to mess with the Christmas spirit.
The dance lesson began and I lurked in the background, snapping away. Kate and Lindsey showed Julia a basic routine (actually, it wasn’t that basic for a 6-year-old) and went over it many, many times. This was fantastic for Julia. She says she wants to be a singer when she grows up–and a teacher and as of two weeks ago, a firefighter as well. If this kid wants to be a performer, I can’t think of a better way to show her the dedication and work it requires than through this dance lesson. For more than 30 minutes, Kate and Lindsey went over it time and again, adding steps and nuances along the way. I could tell Julia was getting tired but every time one of the Rockettes asked if she wanted to try it again, she nodded enthusiastically. Here’s a clip from early on in the lesson:
Not bad, right?
When the lesson ended, the Rockettes presented Julia with a bag of Radio City- and Rockettes-themed treats. Once she discovered the chocolate bars, we lost her–she never regained her focus. So when Katie and Lindsey asked if we had any questions, only I had one: Could we see those “eye-high kicks” they’re so famous for? They graciously replied that we couldn’t, because they weren’t properly warmed up. (Duh! I should have known that even a Rockette can’t fling her shin up to her forehead on demand.)
Then, to top off the whole experience, Julia and I, along with my husband and 3-year-old daughter, went to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular itself last week. It would have been an incredible night regardless, but we felt even more special to have heard the behind-the-scenes stories and to recognize some of the steps in the show–and most fun of all, to look for our new friends Kate (ninth from left!) and Lindsey (third from center!) every time those Rockettes lined up in their truly spectacular formation.
Ok; so now we actually get a look at the to-be crowned princess and not just her hair (see previous posts). Amazingly, she looks like she came right off the screen in Tangled. (Is she human?!). Guess I’ll find out this weekend.
Here’s today’s official report from Disney:
Today Rapunzel stopped at the Thames riverside to admire the beautiful Tower Bridge in the glorious late September sunshine. The future princess arrived in London to do some sightseeing before she is officially welcomed as the 10th Disney Princess character at a high profile, star-studded celebration that will take place in front of a global audience on October 2, 2011. Rapunzel will be visiting famous London landmarks every day this week (September 26-30) and taking pictures along her journey.
For her celebration, little princesses from across the globe will watch Rapunzel be welcomed into the Disney Princess royal court by Ariel, Aurora, Belle, Cinderella, Jasmine, Mulan, Pocahontas, Snow White and Tiana. As an official member of the Disney Princess court, she will be celebrated and recognized as such across Disney, and will be included in all Disney Princess products featuring multiple characters, in addition to her own merchandise line.
Madelyn’s counting down the hours. We’ve already packed her Trunki with her full Rapunzel costume!