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Archive for the ‘public places & events’ category

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

All Eyes on Sochi

It’s that time again… time for another Olympics!

If you don’t already know it from reading previous posts, I am a huge fan of the Olympics. I have watched the Olympics my entire life, each one marking a unique moment or chapter in my life. In 1974, as a four year old, I kicked off a lifetime obsession by creating drawings for every sport I watched on television. When I was eight and 12, I remember marathon sessions on the couch, combined with outdoor sporting “events” in the backyard.

Fast forward to 2002 when I was living in LA and entered a lottery to run in the winter Olympics torch relay. I had the amazing good fortune to be selected as a support runner, who would run alongside the torchbearer. I showed up early that morning to discover I would be running with actor, Chris O’Donnell (only in LA, right?!), who graciously handed the torch to me to carry for a beautiful minute; thanks for that, Chris!) And to top it all off, I went to Salt Lake City for a spectator’s dream weekend.

Just two years later brought significant change of another sort… motherhood. 2004 marked Livi’s birth (of course it was an Olympic year!) I remember nursing on the couch and pacing in front of the television, not quite sure what to do with the colicky infant in my arms, but feeling some small measure of comfort in watching the Games.

Fours years later, I had a four year old who was content to watch some of the Games with Mama, even if she didn’t fully grasp all the ins and outs.

Today, I’m ready for another Games, but also to watch them as part of a new chapter, with my nine year old sidekick. What will be different? Over the past few of years, Livi has been playing sports year round and trying out all that we can fit into our schedule. Now that she is deep into learning the rules and thrills of every sport, she’ll be watching with an entirely new focus. There will be lots of couch conversation surrounding athletes, plays and procedures.

Are your kids interested in reading more about the Olympics? Check out the Time for Kids website. Here you’ll find kid-friendly articles, info and printables.

Hosting an Olympics party for kids? Check out the Birthday of Champions event I hosted a couple of years ago! Perhaps you can host your own mini downhill, curling, sledding event or obstacle course.

Have you seen this commercial? Three cheers for athletes AND their moms!

Make gold medal cookies here.

And make a craft Olympic torch here.

Now you’re ready! Let the games begin!


Friday, January 10th, 2014

Winter Festivals

I’ll admit… in the dead of winter I’m not looking to spend a lot of time outside. Until now, that is, because I came across an article on winter festivals on

Check out the plethora of fun activities you can take part in, if you’re lucky enough to be near any of the 12 festivals mentioned. Race car sled races, snow sculptures, light shows, snow slides, fireworks, snow golf, torchlight parades, snowshoe softball and snow playgrounds… sign me up!

And if you can’t get to one of these awesome events, take some inspiration from them and plan something in your backyard. Savor the season!


(image courtesy de Quebec)

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

The Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze

If you’re like me, you may still be savoring the last bits of summer, so you might not be ready to think about fall and Halloween. But The Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze is one event you’ll want to plan in advance for. See more than 5,000 individually hand-carved, illuminated jack o’ lanterns in an elaborate walk-through experience. While this event pays tribute to Halloween and Sleepy Hollow Country, Blaze transcends its Halloween roots and is now a classic fall festival. This year, the tri-state area’s biggest, most exciting, most electrifying Halloween event returns for a whopping 25 nights in 2013 (advanced tickets required; the event will sell out!) Located  at the Van Cortlandt Manor in the village of Croton-on-Hudson. Recommended for all ages.





(images courtesy Blaze)

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

The Power of Pets: Three Cheers for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital

Those of us with pets at home recognize the emotional benefits that animals can provide. They’re not just pets, but they’re loyal and loving companions that share everyday life with us and they become woven into our lifelong memories. Now, I’m proud to announce, a local hospital, highly ranked in the nation in a variety of specialties, has recognized the power of pets in healing.

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital will be the first pediatric hospital in the nation to unite critically ill children and their pets under one roof and today marks the hospital’s grand opening of the new facility. In addition, funding will be provided for research on the outcome of the facility that can be shared with other pediatric hospitals around the country to create more pet centers.

High fives to Children’s Hospital doctor John Perentesis and CancerFree Kids for getting the ball rolling. And hugs to our furry friends!

You can read more about it here.


Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

Crazy Cardboard Regatta

This past weekend we decided to check out the Crazy Cardboard Regatta, an annual event here in Cincinnati. It was so inspiring to see the creative “boats” that people entered, and so fun to watch the racing and witness the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat (and sinking in some cases). The best part? Both adults and kids took part in the building and racing. What a great way for family and friends to work together on something and to experience firsthand the exciting outcome!

Themes included the traditional People’s Choice, Judge’s Choice and Titanic (Best Sinking!) as well as new categories including: “Will That Boat Float”, King Neptune, Best Team Spirit and The Whole Package. The highlight? A five-person boat that included a guy dressed as the Statue of Library who stood atop a tiny cardboard perch! Talk about a feat of engineering. They qualified for the final but took in too much water on the last turn before the finish and Lady Liberty toppled into the water amidst the cheers!

It definitely had us considering an entry for next year. Time to stock up on cardboard!










Friday, July 19th, 2013

Beach Library

Thanks to my friend, Erin, for inspiring me to check out this great read! The photograph below portrays the Beach Library of Albena Resort in North-East Bulgaria. What a great idea, and great way to prevent the summer brain drain that can affect out-of-school kids. Imagine visiting another country and having the opportunity to see beyond the beautiful landscape and learn about the local culture. Staring at the sea, or exploring a shelf of enticing book titles; now that’s a tough choice to make, but with an idea like this, you can actually do both!


(image courtesy Bookfairkolkata Blog)

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

An Excitement Pack for Future Fun

Do you have house guests coming this summer? Then check out this fun idea by Giulia Duch. She collected photos and mementos in anticipation of her friend coming to Barcelona and labeled the objects with phrases like, “You’ll go here… you’ll eat here”, etc. Then she packed them in an envelope and mailed it. How awesome to be on the receiving end of that! Often times, the anticipation is as sweet as the actual event, and this tradition celebrates that.

p.s. This idea might also be tailored to a upcoming adventure or vacation as well as a birthday, anniversary or holiday celebration.




(images courtesy Giulia Duch, found via Design Mom)

Friday, March 1st, 2013

Cutest. Story. Ever.

Check out this article in the news today… The U.S. Department of Interior reports that little Evie recently took home two sticks from Yosemite. How do they know this? Because they received a handwritten note from Evie admitting to her guilt.

They are now preparing to reunite the sticks with their home and Evie’s letter is now being considered for display in Yosemite’s visitor center or elsewhere.

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Interactive Scavenger Hunt

This very well may have to factor in to our family vacation plans this year: If you dream of competing on the Amazing Race and you happen to find yourself in one of our country’s major cities this summer, you too can play with your cell phone leading the way. First, you receive challenges asking you to find things, solve riddles, take crazy photos and answer trivia. Then you visit the city’s most interesting spots to find the answers. Upon completing the challenge, you earn points and find out crazy things about the city. Games can be played by traditional text message or on their mobile browser. The urban game is an entertaining way to enjoy any occasion or just spend an afternoon discovering new things.

Sign me up!

(image courtesy Stray Boots)

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

See Endeavor at the California Science Center

Last week I returned from a quick trip to LA, during which I popped in at the California Science Center to see the Endeavor, the last of the space shuttles, now all retired. It’s hard to believe it flew 25 missions, and I was fondly reminded of how I always hoped to catch an impromptu landing at Edwards Air Force Base, when I lived in LA. It was always a last minute decision, determined by the weather and conditions at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Hearing the sonic boom in the midst of the work day always made me pause and wish I could immediately transport myself to the landing site a couple hours away in the desert!

How cool is this image? After flying in on a 747 to LA’s airport, the shuttle was towed through the streets of LA to the museum. The route was selected after a team of engineers donated hundreds of hours to figuring out the best way to get the intact shuttle from the airport to the science center. They had to find streets that were wide enough, not too steep, and able to bear the weight of the 170,000-pound spacecraft. They used computer simulations and lasers to precisely measure distances to possible obstructions, like buildings to traffic lights. A lot of stuff had to be moved and it took seven months to elevate power lines so that the tail could clear them. Also, nearly 500 trees needed to go. The science center promised to not just replace them but plant even more in a 2-for-1 deal. Even with obstructions gone, the route was sometimes a tight squeeze. At some spots, there were clearances of just 6 inches or so!

You can find an awesome time lapse video here:

Do you know what these are? These are the tiles found on the underside of the shuttle. 24,200 tiles cover the outside and a single tile costs $2,000! The main ingredient is silica, which comes from sand. They are very light and fragile. You could crush one with your hands!

Before you walk into the hangar where the shuttle resides, you walk through a short but interesting exhibit about the shuttle and space. It’s especially appealing to kids and the young-at-heart, with small stations dedicated to issues like “Munching in Microgravity” and, what we all really want to know about: “Potty Breaks in Space.”

Only in LA: The shuttle sits on this to protect it in the event of an earthquake!

Not close to LA? Three other cities will house the remaining shuttles, including Cape Canaveral, Florida; New York and Chantilly, Virginia. Houston will host a walk-through prototype.