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Winter dashes against the Pros: the NFL Pro Bowl Fan experience recap

Monday, February 5, 2018
In anticipation of the superbowl and in an attempt to escape to a warmer climate, we headed down to Orlando for a little work(out)/play at the NFL Pro Bowl Fan experience.  It's a free event open to the public that coincides with the pro bowl game being played at Camping world stadium in downtown orlando.  The Pro Bowl fan experience, however, takes place at the Disney's Wide World of Sports complex.  I signed both girls up for the kids 100m dash (ages 2+) and spent the 2 weeks leading up to event getting them excited with sprinting "exercises" (an excuse for them to run around the house for once!) 
 We got there fairly early enough to snag a parking spot right outside the gates (seriously LUCKY b/c otherwise you are walking at least 1 mile to the front gates. It gets CROWDED)
 We had seats to watch the NFC players practice but really they were just going through the motions and dancing on the field (music was pumping the whole time). We saw Russell Wilson, Drew Brees, and tons of other players I really don't remember lol.
 They had a whole fan experience where you got to test your skills in a series of challenges where you compared yourself to NFL athletes
Like how fast can you run a 40 yard dash? But the real event was the kids 100m dash. You go in waves, toddlers first.

After the race you get a medal and pose for pictures with a few mascots. I'm from Tampa so we had to get a photo with a buccaneer!

 But the best surprise was in a secret back area, you got to get a photo with Mickey.  He was totally game to do a sprinter's stance (thanks!!)

 and give a few high fives for a race well done!
 and the great part of it all was some quality time with my dad (aka "pop pop!")

Happy (Italian) New Year!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018
Growing up, I always spent new years with my mom and dad. Maybe it was because my parents weren't really big party people, or maybe its because we were in the military and you never know where you may end up at any day, or maybe because my mom was adamant that the three of us be together when the clock struck midnight. In any case it always stuck with me that you spend new years with the ones you love. With two toddlers who are also night owls, staying up til midnight is a fairly easy task but this year our local Eataly (downtown) was hosting a family NYE party with open bar, a plethora of italian foods, and a few kid friendly activities all pumping to a grown-up playlist mixed by a DJ.  We counted down to the Italian new year (6pm NYC time) and partied til it was 9pm. 
Pros: walking distance to home, delicious unlimited food and drinks, several fun stations for kids (cookie decorating, pizza decorating, craft making, gelato cart, and photo booth)

Cons: not enough seating for everyone (or awkward seating - chairs and no tables) some congested walkway areas, much more fun for the 5+ crowd.

All in all I recommend and it was a great alternative to the amateur night options in the city and more appropriate if you have kids in tow.  If theydo it next year, get your tickets early (it sold out fast) and get to the venue SUPER early to grab a great seat as its first come first serve.

Museum of Christmas

Sunday, December 3, 2017
Randomly came across  this pop-up hosted by the Hallmark channel but it was such a great way to kick off the holiday season.  I dressed the girls in some festive gear in case I got anything holiday-card worthy. Considering our experience with 29 rooms (which was also an instagram popup) I came with low expectations on how long I would last singlehandedly with two toddlers and NO stroller.  Since we got in line about 10 min before it opened, we actually made it through all the photo stations with minimal waits (except for 2 of them - infinity room and ball pit) but I came armed with snacks and a fully charged iphone (for youtube viewing). What i didn't come prepared with? SOCKS for the girls so that they could go in the ball pit. winter wore mine and staff let nyla slide (shh!) but that meant I couldn't go in (boooo!).  oh well. it was still fun!  

all fun and games until the automatic bear hug almost smacked winter in the face!

Happy Birthday, Winter!

Monday, November 27, 2017
"I want a michael jackson cake for my birthday!"

A head-scratcher for sure. what exactly does that mean??  I ended up going our old school route and ordered a photo cake from Shoprite.  vanilla cake with fresh strawberry filling: it was a hit in her classroom. cool cake for a cool kid.

 Her Pre-K class even got into the theme by having a dance party after the cake.

 Some favorite photos from her year:

And her actual birthday was once again celebrated on a disney cruise (lucky kid!) with two of her best friends, little sister Nyla and upstairs neighbor, Amanda.  Cruise report to come but we did it at our favorite restaurant on the ship, animator's palatte.

Thank you

Thursday, November 23, 2017
Happy Thanksgiving!  Considering we are leaving for a Disney Cruise 2 days later, we cheated and bought a some prepared foods from Whole Foods then went down to our travel mates' apartment to get a second helping of food and called it a day! I set the table based on things we had on hand: burlap/canvas type of table cloth, fake flowers, black tags, and more.

Because we were leaving in two days, an elaborate feast was impractical as our leftovers would just waste away in the fridge so I did a much more manageable, low-key setup and just went to Whole foods. I bought just enough to last us an extra day of leftovers but was able to get us all the traditional fixings and no kitchen labor (save heating in the oven) involved. Win-win! 

Halloween 2017 recap

Wednesday, November 1, 2017
When my toddlers choose costumes that I either can’t buy (hello, amazon...failing me, here) or they don’t come “infant” sized (im talking about you, moana) then what happens is that I'm stuck improvising with a glue gun, grommet trimmings, buckles, kitchen towels, felt, and crochet ribbon...  But seriously, with these "costumes" it was hard NOT to indulge because a) it was pretty left-field for a 3 year old to be michael jackson from specifically the "bad" video and then b) Moana - which I THOUGHT would be an easy find turns out - nope - disney had some drama with the whole moana costumes and decided to spend their marketing dollars on Elena of Avalor (really? whyy) so I was stuck making both.
Michael Jackson and Moana...making the weekend Halloween rounds
 the end result looks pretty photo-ready!  what you don't see is nyla's wardrobe malfunction that kicks in immediately after we left the front door lol. but I got the photo!

Yes, her "skirt" is two beige .99 felt squares I sewed together and glue gunned lace topped crochet ribbon trim I got at Michael's.  her top and sash is a $5 kitchen towel I found in the housewares dept of Century 21.  The orange geometric print was a no-brainer and that rooster on the end? I just said it was Hei-Hei. SOLD!  Oh, and that necklace? yup made that too.  jewelry department had a 50% off sale on beads and pendants. add some fishing wire and some clasps and wala, necklace of Te Fiti.  someone pass that mom crafter of the week trophy over to me.

Brookfield Halloween Bash
Honestly thought this was such a letdown compared to the previous two years.  Yes, last two years was bit of chaos but I did love that the stores opened up for trick or treating. This year the stores bowed out (which made it felt a little snobbish - really Gucci/Tori Burch/Bottega/Saks/etc?? can't give out candy to the kids?)

there was some long line with an activity center in the Winter Garden and then they tried to split things up throughout the mall but brookfield is no typical things not in the main center just seemed like afterthoughts.  Also if you have anyone under the age of 5 with the shortest attention spans known to man then you can pretty much nix any "attraction" with a line (ex: photo booth, costume runway catwalk)  All my girls did was run around and find the folks in the green shirts who were giving out candy.

Westfield Trick or Treating with Unicef
Westfield however saved the day when they partnered up with Unicef. this surprisingly hidden secret of an event was so laid back and had NO LINES and consisted of pumpkin decorating, face painting, pumpkin bowling, photo booth, and a selection of stores participating in trick or treating.  

See Moana having a janet jackson moment? lol.. thank goodness i put her in a swimsuit top!

Harvard Club Halloween Family Brunch
This was a last minute decision but it was a nice way to get into the spirit of halloween—the history of the club's architecture and decor along with the thunderstorms outside just added a nice touch.  The halloween buffet was beautiful and plentiful and was almost a prelude to a thanksgiving spread. It's club policy to not use your cell phones but we snuck a few in (plus i just think you get a pass when it comes to kids events..). There was a magician and a professional photographer taking portraits but we haven't gotten the photos yet! It didn't feel crazy and maybe something we'll do again next year.

Oh by the way, here's Winter's costume inspiration. She's obsessed with the "kids video" of bad and I admit, so am I. It's hilarious yet so good.
Winter's costume consisted of a black tshirt and black leggings, Red pleather ribbon, leather grommet ribbon, and .99 buckles from the bargain bin in the trimmings store. Throw in a hot glue gun (and burnt fingers), knee high socks with cut holes in the foot and additional buckles and we have a good semblance of an MJ outfit.  She already had a leather jacket so i safety pinned the grommet ribbon to it to accessorize it even more.  her hair is tied back with the front gelled down as much as i can get it "down".  And finally, we finished off her look with sparkly pleather black sneakers. Who's bad?!

We capped off the halloween festivities with actual trick or treating in our building. Much different from my usual house to house rounds in the suburbs when I grew up but at some point we will trek out to a brownstone area of the village or neighboring brooklyn when I know they'll have the energy and adrenalin to do it up.

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