Recently, I spent two days with a special out-of-town guest, taking her sightseeing around New York City. We navigated Manhattan with ease, taking on diverse areas such as Gramercy Park, Flatiron District, Midtown East, Times Square, and the Upper East Side. My guest, part of the Flat Stanley Project, never made a fuss or complained — being made of markers and laminated paper.
For parents who are unfamiliar with The Flat Stanley Project, it was started in 1995 by Dale Hubert, a teacher in Ontario, Canada, and was inspired by the Flat Stanley children’s books series by Jeff Brown. The project involves children making paper cutouts of themselves (their personalized versions of Flat Stanley) and then mailing them to friends and family around the world. The goal is to encourage literacy as kids write about Stanley’s adventures through his visits, and to promote pen pal exchanges. Over 6,000 schools in 88 countries have participated in the project, and even famous folks such as President Obama and actor Clint Eastwood have been photographed with a Flat Stanley.
My friend’s young daughter sent me her Flat Stanley (from Georgia!) and my inner host and shutterbug went all-out visiting Big Apple landmarks (Empire State Building, Times Square, Rockefeller Center), historical sites (Theodore Roosevelt’s birthplace, Fifth Avenue Public Library), and some children’s paradises (Toys “R” Us, FAO Schwartz, American Girl Place). It was really fun soaking up familiar sights I wouldn’t normally visit as a New Yorker, and I’m ready for my next Flat Stanley visitor.
Parents, learn more about how to get your school involved in this global literacy project at FlatStanley.com, and make sure to download the (free) Flat Stanley app from iTunes.
Befriending a guard outside FAO Schwartz
Resting at the Alice in Wonderland statue in Central Park
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.
Wow. What a trip! Madelyn, my nearly 5-year-old daughter, and I are on our way home from an amazing adventure. Yesterday, we arrived at Kensington Gardens in London for the Disney Rapunzel party. (Click here to read my previous posts explaining the event). The park was swarming with families: It was 80 degrees and sunny (in October!) At The Princess Diana Memorial Playground–the most extraordinary playground I’ve ever seen, btw. Madelyn spotted little girls carrying little blue flags with a simple sun decal. “Rapunzel flags!” Madelyn squealed. Ah, the sun emblem was from Tangled; it was an insidery nod that you were here for Rapunzel. As we left the playground, we saw more flags and more little girls dressed up as princesses. Hundreds were standing along the park road where all 10 Disney princesses proceed by carriage to Rapunzel’s party at Kensington Palace. Madelyn and I went through the palace gates to watch from the entrance. Madelyn squealed at every announcement as each arrived in order of their Disney debuts: Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana, and finally, Rapunzel. (Check back later for video of some of the princesses arriving–even Max, Rapunzel’s horse, made a special appearance).
We spent the afternoon sipping lemonade, eating tea cakes, and other dainty apps. Madelyn got a Rapunzel hair extension that was so long it grazed the ground and a butterfly face paint. Nicole Richie’s little girl got her face painted in the chair next to her (other celebs like two of the Spice Girls and some international celebs I couldn’t spot were also supposedly there).
Due to a scheduling snafu, we missed the musical performance, but because Madelyn was only one of five girls shut out, they let her in to have a private meeting with all 10 princesses. Madelyn was bummed to miss the singing (and an appearance by Flynn Rider), but felt pretty special to get to meet the living dolls. (Rapunzel especially looked like she was off the shelf–take a look at the pic). When Madelyn walked on stage Jasmine took her hand. She was starstruck! When we left she said, “Mommy, this was the best day EVER!” Ah. It was worth it.
Madelyn and I have arrived in London for the Disney event honoring Rapunzel. Oddly Madelyn is less jet lagged than I am. When I wanted to nap today, she pulled me up saying she wanted to go to the park. So we took the tube a couple stops to Hyde Park, where we found horses, gorgeous gardens and a nice playground. At the playground, there was a flier posting the celebration for Rapunzel’s party and inviting London families to attend! The flier said the best place to stand to watch the procession — wow, can’t imagine it’ll be that packed. But maybe? In any case, it got Madelyn even more worked up!
Here, she is playing on the new app (made especially for Rapunzel’s big day) at a little Italian restaurant off Oxford street. Meanwhile, Rapunzel was further downtown at Big Ben. Tomorrow we hope to hit the Tower of London and Hampton Court for even more Princess mania.
MyFox Orlando reported hat Beard saw the child dangling from the balcony and ran to a location underneath the child before she fell. The toddler struck the third floor balcony before being caught by Beard. The child still slipped through Beard’s arms and landed on the ground, but didn’t suffer any injuries. The local hospital determined the child to be in good health and the sheriff’s captain deemed Jah-Nea’s rescue to be miraculous.
When taking a trip with your child, Parents suggests calling the hotel beforehand to ask questions and determine if it’s kid-friendly location. Ask about renting a crib or stroller, the hotel’s crib safety requirements, and any available child-friendly activities, pools, and playgrounds. Most hotels also offer free childproofing kits or will childproof the room for you upon request. Just make sure to ask. Once you’re at the hotel, look for any possible dangers such as open balconies, stairs, and railings, uncovered outlets, sharp furniture, fragile objects, loose curtain or electrical cords, and unlocked cabinets. Above all, keep your child safe no matter where you stay.
DNA spit test springs girl, 12, from scoliosis brace
New research published in the journal Spine reports that the test is 99 percent accurate in predicting which sufferers of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, or AIS, are least likely to develop curves serious enough to require surgery. (MSNBC)
Lowe’s recalls 11 million blinds for strangulation risk
Lowe’s Stores are recalling about 11 million Roman shades and roll-up blinds after reports that two young children nearly strangled in the window coverings, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced today. (MSNBC)
How much vitamin D is enough? Report sets new levels
For the past few years vitamin D has been the “it” vitamin, with studies wildly trumpeting the supplement’s role in strengthening bones, reducing the risk of some cancers, heart disease, along with fighting autoimmune diseases and diabetes. But long-awaited new dietary guidelines say there’s no proof that megadoses of the “sunshine vitamin” prevent cancer, diabetes or other conditions. (MSNBC) Most meds for kids have inaccurate dosing
Researchers looked at 200 of the top-selling nonprescription liquid medications on shelves and found that nearly all had inconsistent directions: The labels on the devices for measuring doses didn’t match up with the dosing instructions. (MSNBC) (more…)
Don’t you hate it when you’re ready for a vacay but your bank account isn’t? Well I found some travel deals that I think your wallet will warm up to at livingsocial.com. Originally started as a site for huge discounts on everything from restaurants to haircuts, it launched an “Escapes” section this week with 40 to 70 percent savings on weekend getaways and longer adventures. I’m eying the 50 percent off Vermont package. What vacation are you coveting?
In the last video postcard from Disney’s Baltic cruise, Sally Lee and her family take in Russia and Finland–and all the fun offered back on the boat. Check out the vid now or the previous installments by clicking here and here.