The Citizen STEM Initiative Award

It’s always wonderful to see brands that we partner with investing in our youth.  Recently, The Citizen STEM Initiative Award competition challenged grade nine students throughout the state of New Jersey to create 90-second videos highlighting their favorite aspect of physics.

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It’s certainly impressive that the winner’s submission, created by Gabrielle Grupenhof from Oradell, New Jersey, outlined ways to calculate the acceleration of a car speeding down the highway.   Gabrielle, along with the three runners-up (announced and sponsored by the New Jersey Center for Teaching and Learning) were treated to a pretty amazing day at New York City’s Good Housekeeping Research Institute, including a personal tour of the space. The students also received awards of CTO watches from the Citizen Watch Drive Collection, and a celebratory lunch alongside their teachers and parents in New York City.

It’s wonderful to see the encouragement of students excelling in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) – which in many ways, is our future.

This post is in partnership with Citizen. 

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Protect Like a Mother Installation Comes to Brooklyn

This post sharing details on the Protect Like a Mother exhibit in Brooklyn is sponsored by Lysol. Thank you for reading.

When my children were toddlers and had difficulty separating from me, a little storytelling ritual began.  I’d form the shape of a heart with my hands, and recite a made up story reminding them that our hearts and souls are connected forever.  The consistency seemed to calm all of our nerves, and years later I still find myself including that story in my parenting toolkit.  Motherhood continues to show me the absolute truth in that metaphorical heart.  Motherhood is hardwired to the very core of my being in the most profound and powerful ways.  I’m inextricably connected to my children and have learned to trust my gut, motivated by being my babies greatest protector and nurturer.

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I was so excited to venture over to Brooklyn Bridge Park today with my family to check out Lysol’s “Protect Like a Mother” exhibit featuring a larger-than-life art installation of a trio of animals, honoring both human and animal mothers alike. On the heels of mother’s day weekend, it felt fitting to work with Lysol in celebration of a mother’s innate protective instinct.  After all, they help moms like me protect against germs in my home, in ways that mirror how animals defend their own babies.

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The cool interactive installation features gargantuan sculptures of a golden eagle, a 24-foot-tall orangutan, and an octopus.  Amidst bubbles, kids are allowed to play on the large animals, and a fantastic photo booth captures great quality family photos.  There’s also a cool educational component with several facts about the animal mothers and ways in which they protect their offspring from predators. The protective instinct is a universal truth of motherhood – in both the animal kingdom and in our own. Different species demonstrate amazing feats to protect their young, including us human mothers, right?!

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No one protects quite like a mom, and nothing helps mothers protect against germs like Lysol, a leader in germ killing for over 100 years, with products that kill 99.9% of germs to help moms protect their kids from passing germs and getting sick.  Lysol has created a fun analogy and expereince that families can certainly relate to and enjoy together during the weekend.  Best of all this free exhibit is still open to the public.  Check it out tomorrow, Sunday, May 21st from 9 am to 6 pm.  You may even leave feeling a bit more loved than ever:

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“My mom protects me like a unicorn because she is magic.” – L.P – age nine. 

 

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Kids & Coughs + Mom’s Secret Weapon

There have been many times in motherhood when I’ve yearned for ways to soothe my kids when they’ve fallen sick. It’s never easy to watch your child’s discomfort when they don’t feel well.  And I only hope that I’m comforting my kids through their illnesses in ways that emulate how my mother tenderly cared for me as a child. I remember how she’d change my sheets, give me a warm bath, and carefully rub Vicks® VapoRub™ on my chest when I had a cough.  Just the mere scent transports me back to my childhood – and I’ve naturally kept it in my arsenal of go-to remedies to combat nighttime coughing ever since my babies were two-years-old.

Attending Vicks® VapoRub™ 8 Hour Playdate along with my eager kiddos at Recess Dumbo in Brooklyn was a perfect fit for us!

The kids had a blast playing in a vibrant indoor play space while I gleaned info on how to keep kids healthy and comforted when colds and coughs strike.  It’s always helpful to have healthy habit reminders reinforced by a registered nurse – especially the points shared below!
  • Did you know that many people only wash their hands for six seconds?  Did you know that the recommended time for hand washing is actually 20 seconds?  I immediately implemented the advice of singing a song with my six-year-old son to ensure that the hand washing is, in fact, effective.
  • Those beloved stuffed animals can be serious germ harbors! We like to toss ours in the washing machine (usually while the kids are at school) to get any funk off of them since the kids often tuck them into their beds.
  • Sufficient rest is crucial especially during sickness because those resting hours allow the immune system to restore and reset – and even protect the body from illness.
  • The leading cause of poor rest among children during colds is nighttime coughing.  Vicks® VapoRub™ – the #1-selling branded children’s cough-cold product, appropriate for ages two and up—is a topical cough medicine with medicated vapors*.  It works quickly for adults as well to help relieve cough symptoms.
Above Image: Andrea Klerides
 

I have a lot of stories about my mom’s belief in Vicks® VapoRub™ – as do others who grew up in Latin households! It’s helped me through rotten coughs – while providing my kids with that layer of comfort during illness.  As a parent, there’s security in knowing that Vicks® VapoRub™ vapors last up to eight hours, allowing my little ones (and me!) to get crucial rest. I imagine that my children will too grow up with ingrained memories of their mama singing special nighttime songs and carefully rubbing their chests to help soothe, calm and relax.

*P&G calculation based in part on value sales data by The Nielsen Company through its Retail Scantrack Services in the US market to which P&G subscribes for the Respiratory Care Category for the 52 week period ending 06/04/16

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A Family Trip to Broadway

Whether you’re visiting the heart of the big apple, or playing tourist in your magnificent city; taking in a Broadway show is a quintessential New York experience that the entire family is bound to remember, vividly. Past the bootleg characters lining Times Square and larger-than-life dazzling lights, my eight and six-year-old we’re thrilled this past Sunday to take a subway ride down to the iconic Lyric Theatre on West 42nd Street, to experience Cirque du Soleil’s PARAMOUR.

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What sounded like an interesting combination of theater plus acrobatics turned out to be an incredible experience for the entire family. With an alluring old Hollywood feel, stunning set design, powerful vocalists and intriguing characters, PARAMOUR wowed us all.  The captivating acrobatics woven throughout the production definitely elevated our Broadway experience. We left talking about the performers’ mind blowing-strengths and talents, especially that of identical twin artists, Andrew and Kevin Atherton, who magically made time stand still with unbelievable ariel-amazement.

Director: Philippe DecoufleArtistic Guide: Jean-Francois BouchardAssociate Creative Director: Pascale HenrotAssociate Creative Director and Scene Director: West HylerComposer: Bob & BillSet Designer: Jean RabasseChoreographer: Daphne MaugerCostumeAt one point during the performance, my six-year old’s legs started bouncing – a telltale sign of needing a restroom (quickly!).  As I was planning how we’d manage to high-tale it from our seats without disturbing theatergoers, I sighed and told him that I’d get him to a bathroom. To which he responded, “No mommy, I just can’t wait to see what happens next.”

Thank you to Cirque du Soleil PARAMOUR for hosting us.

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Cranberry Classroom: A Visit To Ocean Spray®’s Cranberry Bog

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This post is sponsored by Ocean Spray®. Opinions, as always, are my own.

My mother had this wonderful, old-fashioned metal food grinder which she’d clamp onto the kitchen table to make cranberry relish on Thanksgiving day.  As a kid, I always enjoyed watching the mashed up cranberries with a touch of orange ooze out the grinder’s bottom-end.   To this day, I can mentally taste her cranberry “sauce” with just a mere glimpse of a bag of Ocean Spray® Cranberries. And I’ll always appreciate how food has the ability to transport us back to specific times in our lives – carrying ties to the people and places we love.  My kids are quite fond of their abuela’s cranberry sauce – and of the cranberry in general (hello Ocean Spray® Craisins® Dried Cranberries!).  They eagerly joined in my excitement of celebrating the official start of the autumnal season with a visit to Ocean Spray®‘s iconic fresh cranberry bog right here in New York City’s bustling Rockefeller Center®.  As part of Ocean Spray®‘s Bogs Across America Tour, we joined in learning all about the cranberry and met multi-generational Ocean Spray® farmers in celebration of America’s favorite fruit and the bicentennial of the first cultivated cranberry harvest.  This is that 12th year that Ocean Spray® has brought their 1,500 sq. ft. cranberry bog back into Rockefeller Center® – and up until this time, we had only seen it on the news!

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Complete with report cards, the kids enlisted in Ocean Spray®‘s “Cranberry Classroom” and learned all about the cranberry from the inside out – including its amazing story of taste, health, and heritage in a fun, immersive and fruitful way.  The kids and I were fascinated to learn about how cranberries grow on low-lying vines and develop four hollow air chambers making them float when removed from the vine. And I loved chatting with families of farmers growing Ocean Spray® cranberries right here in neighboring New Jersey.  Equally as cool, was The Most Beautiful Harvest experience, in which the kids had their first go at Google Cardboard – transporting them through a beautiful Massachusetts-based cranberry bog.  This incredible, virtual-reality experience celebrates the beauty of the cranberry harvest – while showcasing the fruit’s journey from bog to bottle.  No worries if you missed this event – just visit www.OSharvest.com to check out fully immersive, 360-degree views of a bog. It’s the next best thing to being there!

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Little minds were hard at work as they made mini bogs-in-a-cup with molding clay, gravel, Peat Moss, sand, and cranberry vines.  This fun lesson taught young participants all about how cranberries are grown and also gave them the chance to contextualize what they would soon experience inside Ocean Spray’s® real-life cranberry bog!

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With some serious excitement, we donned waders to get inside the beautifully vibrant bog amidst 2,000 pounds of fresh floating cranberries!

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The boy was super interested in applying lessons learned. Here he is digging for clay, sand and gravel!

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While the girl couldn’t resist an opportunity to dump fresh cranberries on her little brother’s head.

 

A photo posted by Monica (@marinobambinos) on



All this hard work stirred up pint-sized appetites!

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And reminded me that Ocean Spray® Craisins® Dried Cranberries never fail to please!  These Ladybugs On a Log make a great after-school snack.

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Thanks so much to Ocean Spray® for having us join in this unforgettable experience.

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Wishing you all the goodness of this new fall season – and do share your favorite cranberry recipes below!  Thank you to Ocean Spray® for sponsoring this blog post. All opinions are my own.

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A Look Inside The NYC Dumpling Festival 2016

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Over the weekend, we were among the dumpling enthusiasts who brought our appetites to NYC’s Lower East Side to celebrate all things dumpling at the 13th Annual Chef One Dumpling Festival in Sarah D. Roosevelt Park.

With a fitting theme of “There’s a Chef in Everyone,” the festivities included NYC Borough based food stations serving up truly tasty varieties of dumplings such as Kung Pao Chicken, Pork & Kimchi, Kale & Vegetable, Buffalo Chicken, Edamame and even a new seasonal Pumpkin flavor.

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In addition to the grub – attendees snapped photos with the one-and-only Dumpling Mama mascot, commemorated the fun in a cool gif-making photo booth, joined in dumpling-making classes, and watched along with wide-eyed wonder at the many talented performances.

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From traditional Lion dancing to a group of tap dancers and more, the festival brought a great mix of entertainment.  While I’ll contest that the musical performance by string based trio Yut and the Hot Four – was the act to see, my eight-year-old was most impressed with the fire dancers’ flame-waving choreography.

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Of course, we can’t forget the competitive eaters who joined in the Dumpling Eating Contest. Although I couldn’t fully stomach watching this portion – this contest always draws an attentive (and massive!) crowd, with winner’s taking home hefty-checks for their face-stuffing accomplishments.  Would you believe the female division’s winner scarfed down 115 dumplings in two minutes time?!

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The prize sharing continued, and the excitement was palpable as raffles were drawn for prizes including a pair of Delta Air Lines tickets and a Year’s Supply of Chef One Dumplings.

Although the lines were long due to the festival’s gaining popularity,  the social media team was on it – offering free samples and more to those who took to Twitter to grumble.

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My favorite part was getting to see the festival’s continued dedication to feeding food-insecure New Yorkers. With all proceeds benefiting The Food Bank for New York City – joining in the festival is always pure dumpling-indulgent goodness to feel good about. Best of all, they welcome volunteers! Stay connected to Chef One to find out about partnering with The Food Bank NYC at next year’s festival.

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And for all our friends who missed out on #dumplingfest2016, Chef One hasn’t forgotten about you! Check out the below video to master dumpling making in your kitchen and stay tuned for details on next year’s Dumpling Festival.  You bet we’ll be there!

This is a sponsored post. Opinions, as always, are my own.

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