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Blog Archives - December 2013

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First Visit: The Guggenheim  
The Guggenheim Museum of Art was built by the architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1959. It was a revolutionary design for a museum, and Wright mandated details from the inside benches to the sidewalk on Fifth Avenue. The Guggenheim, which focuses on contemporary art, mounts exhibitions for periods of weeks or months in its central open rotunda. It also has some small galleries and a cafe in the Annex section of the building, which abuts the main circular structure. (Fifth Avenue between 88th and 89th Streets.)
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Out on the Town: Parents’ Night Out  
Amid the sleepless nights, the preschool applications, and the mealtime battles – not to mention jobs, family responsibilities, and volunteer activities – it is all too easy for parents in NYC to forget there once was a time when trying new restaurants, talking at length about all that went on during the past week, dreaming about the future, and meeting up with friends was so routine they didn’t even think about it, much less schedule it on the family calendar.
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Weekend Family Events - December 28 and December 29  
The holiday season involves a lot of celebrating, planning, eating and maybe even a little stress.  So perhaps it would be nice to sit back, relax and enjoy a show. This weekend there are some fun shows that are happening all over NYC. It's the last weekend to enjoy the Three Bears Holiday Bash at the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater and one of the last weekends to see The Art of the Brick. There are also many Kwanzaa celebrations and an Eloise Dance Party to keep the holiday spirit going strong until New Years. Here are this weekend's picks.
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Poe Show: Exploring Edgar Allan Poe in NYC  
Kids often find it hard to believe that certain authors actually existed—upon being told that a poet was coming to talk to them, members of a second-grade class broke into spontaneous weeping, stopping long enough to ask the teacher how someone who was dead could stop by; they couldn’t imagine that a poet was actually alive. Luckily, New York has a number of landmarks that can help bring authors alive for kids—and adults as well.
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Hola, Bonjour, Ni Hao: Language Classes for Little Linguists  
There’s no doubt the world is getting smaller–especially for those who live in New York City, perhaps the most global city in the world–and early childhood is an excellent time to begin exposing your little one to a foreign language.

Research has shown that babies and toddlers have an extraordinary ability to pick up new languages and the earlier you introduce a new language, the easier it will be for your baby to pick up that language’s rhythm and tone. Some even believe brains are uniquely wired to pick up multiple languages between birth and age five and babies are often better able to differentiate between the building blocks of language than adults.

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Art for Art’s Sake: Museums to Explore with Kids this Winter  
Few places in the world offer the plethora of museums that New York does. This winter, there’s an eclectic and engrossing array of exhibitions to explore, many of which are kid-friendly—some will be immediately accessible; others may take a little more work, but all are worth checking out.
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Inspirational Christmas Movies for Little Kids  
It’s the middle of December; it’s freezing outside, traffic is abysmal, and it seems like everywhere you go is a complete and total madhouse. Basically, it’s a good time to just stay home. So gather the kids, make some fresh popcorn, and curl up under a warm blanket on the couch for a good, old-fashioned, family movie night. And since Christmas is only a few days away, go ahead and make it a Christmas movie.  But with so many awesome holiday flicks to choose from, which should you pick?
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Midnight Mass with Kids in Manhattan  
While most family-friendly activities would never occur in the middle of the night, there is one particular Christmas tradition for many families that the kids are allowed to stay up for: Midnight Mass.

Many parents want to attend Midnight Mass with their kids but know their little ones will be sound asleep well before the clock strikes twelve. Thankfully, most churches hold special, kid-friendly services in the late afternoon or early evening on December 24 for families who wish to keep the spirit of Midnight Mass alive – without keeping the kids up until midnight. Here’s a roundup of some beloved NYC churches that are holding early, family-friendly services this Christmas Eve.

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15 Timeless Live-Action Movies for Family Night  
Kids entertainment isn’t merely the domain of new cartoons and CG animation. Several live-action films that we grew up with are just as good today as they were when they were first made. Themes of friendship, independence, self esteem, courage and ingenuity are found in several movies that are great for the whole family. Here are 15 of our favorite live-action films that stand the test of time when it comes to family movie night.
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Weekend Family Events - December 21 and December 22  
It felt like we were in our own personal snow globes this past week. Now that the snowy weather is taking a break we can get out and enjoy some winter fun. Prospect Park has a new ice skating rink grand opening weekend. And Make Music Winter, which is an outdoor winter musical festival happening all over NYC, is taking place this weekend. If staying inside 'til spring is your thing, check out the New York International Children's Film Festival or enjoy some puppet making and a movie screening at The Museum of the Moving Image. Here are this weekend's picks

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The Outer Boroughs’ Time to Shine: Holiday Lights in NYC  
Sure, Manhattan has the Rockefeller Center tree and the department store windows. But the outer boroughs have homeowners with a mission: to light up their neighborhood and spread holiday cheer to New York City! This season, bundle up and head out to the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and even Staten Island to see some truly innovative homespun holiday displays. Lights usually go on at sunset. Displays may be more elaborate on weekends, but are less crowded on weeknights. Links to maps are provided for drivers, as well as public transportation directions for the intrepid.
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Subway Sleuths After-School Program Returns for Kids on the Autism Spectrum  
As we enter the New Year, many parents start thinking about after school programs for the spring semester. For parents of kids with special needs, the New York Transit Museum offers a program called Subway Sleuths.
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Last-Minute Holiday Fun: Christmas Eve in New York City  
The holiday season seems to come and go faster than Santa Claus can barrel down an extra-wide chimney on Christmas Eve. And speaking of Christmas Eve–once it’s finally here, there won’t be much time left to soak up all of the holly jolly awesomeness that surrounds us throughout December here in New York City.

Whether you have a little shopping to finish, a few antsy kids to keep entertained until their bedtime, or just want to squeeze in some last-minute, holiday-style family fun, you’ll find that the city is always abuzz with festive activities and excitement on Christmas Eve. Here are a few ways to keep those restless kids occupied until it’s finally time to put out the milk and cookies for Santa.

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Two Weeks of Animated Gems at IFC  
For many families, Pixar is the frontrunner in producing animated feature films. However, every time you tune into the Oscars, you come across a few nominees who you’ve never heard of before. Why is that? Well, without the broad reaching distribution of a major studio, it’s hard for some animation studios to get the attention they deserve from the media.
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NYC Rocks in the Holidays with Yo Gabba Gabba at the Beacon Theatre  
Just like Santa Claus, Yo Gabba Gabba is coming to town. Nick Jr.’s famed kids and preschooler series will visit NYC for a limited engagement show at the Beacon Theatre this weekend.
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Kwanzaa: Celebrating The First Fruits in The Big Apple  
What celebration starts with fresh fruit, mixes in determination, creativity and family unity and ends with music and handmade gifts at a party? The answer is Kwanzaa!

Although millions all over the world now celebrate it, this seven-day celebration was created for African-Americans in 1966 to celebrate their African heritage, the first fruits of the African harvest and family togetherness. ‘Habari Gani’ is how you greet friends and family from Dec 26 to Jan 1st. By asking, “what’s the news?” they are called to answer in one of seven ways. Each of these seven principles (Nguzo Saba) is written in Swahili, an African language.

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‘Cirkopolis’ Blends the Wonder of Theatre with the Aerial Stunts of the Circus  
For kids, there’s something magical about going to their first circus or seeing their first children’s theatre show. It’s like watching your favorite cartoon or episode of Sesame Street come alive right before your eyes. This week, Cirque Eloize presents Cirkopolis at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Aarts.
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Best Donuts in NYC  
Yes, the cronut craze has slowed down a bit, but it’s here to stay. The cupcake’s long reign is finally being overtaken by that humble pastry, the donut (or doughnut, if you prefer). Although some are elevating the donut by crossbreeding it with a croissant or topping it with gourmet icing flavors, the donut remains an everyman treat, the all-American partner to a hot cup of joe. Here are our recommendations throughout the city.
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Meteorites to Memorabilia: Holiday Markets and Museum Shops This Christmas  
You can buy your gifts from chain stores this holiday season, and let's face it, something will come from there, but you can also take the road less traveled, and more interesting, and ferret out some more unusual sources. We rounded up a selection of holiday markets and museum stores for some offbeat—and truly memorable—holiday shopping.
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Weekend Family Events - December 14 and December 15  
Get out your jazz hands and top hat folks because this weekend is filled with tons of singing and dancing. There are shows, sing-a-longs and concerts galore to celebrate the holiday season.  If belting out the tunes is not your style, you can get creative with some holiday workshops around town. Hoping no matter what you choose to do this weekend, you stay warm. Here are this weekend's picks.

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Put Your Energetic Kids To Good Use: Holiday Craft Time!  
You're probably a bundle of nerves right now trying to get everything ready before Christmas. Your kids are probably excited about school almost being over and for the holidays to begin which means only one thing, what are you going to do to occupy their time? We have the solution: they can take some of their excitement and work on some holiday crafts. You can then use their creations to decorate your home. We've rounded up some places and events in all the boroughs your kids or the whole family can go to take part in some festive fun that you can take home with you.
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Best Holiday Gifts for a Two-Year-Old Girl  
Holiday shopping for kids sounds a lot easier than it is. You can’t exactly hand a toddler a pen and tell them to write what they want. You really want to get them the right gifts, the kind of things they will love and play with for years to come, but it’s not always easy to pinpoint the perfect gift.

I’ve put together the following gift-buying guide for a two-year-old girl, since I’m the proud mommy of one myself. These gift ideas will surely please any two-year-old girl, but your three and even four-year-olds will probably love most of this stuff too. Happy shopping!

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Best Holiday Gifts for a Five-Year-Old Boy  
This year, I decided my five-year-old son was finally old enough to make his own holiday wish list. So I sat him down, gave him the Toys ‘R’ Us catalogue, and asked him to circle everything he wanted. When he finished, there were more circles on the pages of that catalogue than in a whole box of Cheerios.

Since I had to research almost everything in the Toys ‘R’ Us’ inventory in order to narrow down his ridiculous list, I was able to put together this collection of great gift ideas for five-year-old boys. Many of these items would also be ideal for a six or seven-year-old as well.

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Holiday Toy Drives (And One Coat Drive) in Brooklyn  
Finding that perfect holiday gift for your child can be a struggle. As long as you’re scouring the aisles for that one toy that will put a big smile on your kid’s face, why not pick up a gift that will make another child happy? Many families in Brooklyn don’t have the means to celebrate the holidays. Contributing to one of the borough’s holiday toy drives will help ensure that all Brooklyn children have as big a smile this holiday season as yours will.
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Year-End Tipping: Rules of Thumb from Experienced New Yorkers  
With just as many opinions as people, New Yorkers have widely varied approaches to the custom of doling out year-end tips (and sometimes gifts) to those who make life in this crazy city just a tad bit easier.

Many of us interact with a long list of people on a regular basis, from doormen to babysitters to dog walkers, and even the savviest New Yorkers often find themselves wondering, “Should I tip her?”, “Did I give him enough?”, and “Will everyone in my building spend the next 12 months thinking I’m cheap?”

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Ho Ho Ho! 25 Ways to Meet Santa in New York City  
He may live in the North Pole, but Santa Claus is just about everywhere you go during the holiday season. Here in New York City, you can find him posing for pictures in shopping malls, having pancakes for breakfast with fans, sipping tea at the Plaza Hotel, meeting animals at the zoo, riding a horse in Brooklyn, and even sailing down the Hudson at a boat parade. Don’t miss your opportunity to snag a photo and tell the big guy what you want for Christmas. Read on to find out 25 different ways for your family to meet Santa this year in New York City.
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Weekend Family Events - December 7 and December 8  
Happy Holla Days! Let's light it up! The trees that is... not literally though, because that would be bad. This weekend there are many tree lighting events all over the city signaling the holiday seasons "official" start. Be sure to also gaze at the beautiful holiday windows at the major department stores such as Henri Bendel. And don't forget to hit up all of the great events happening all over town such as a shipyard gingerbread decorating event, a holiday jazz party and even a Santa rescue! Here are this weekend's picks.

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Sweet Treats for Holidays: Where to Get your Sugar Rush  
Nothing says the holidays like a plate of salted caramel. No? You thought we would go with candy canes, or maybe red and green M&Ms? While those are fine, the candy game has definitely been upped, especially in New York; at this time of year, you can find everything from old-fashioned marzipan creatures to chocolate with fennel for everyone on your list—plus some to snacks to keep up your strength as you log in those holiday shopping hours, of course.

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Finishing the Year with a Flash: Where to Take Family Portraits and Make Holiday Cards  
As the festive season continues to creep up on us, the checklist of things to do gets longer and longer. Certainly holiday shopping is high up on your list, but we're betting sending holiday cards is also on there. The winter holidays is a great time not only to wish your loved ones a Merry Christmas, but also a Happy New Year. This means updating your extended family and out-of-town friends on what you have been up to all year long, and usually the end of the year holiday card sums it all up.

We've created a list of photographers in New York City who will help out with creating that magical family moment to pass on to your friends and family and will help you design your holiday card too.

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Universal Pre-Kindergarten and More After-School Programs Coming Fall 2014?  
What parent doesn’t want a smart education for his or her child? Every Fall, parents around NYC begin the arduous process of finding the right pre-kindergarten and kindergarten school for their kids.

These days the process can be almost as rigorous as the college application process was for us when we were growing up. There are tests to take, open houses to attend and interviews for both parents and children. The process can take a lot out of you, but it’s worth it in order to set your child on the right educational path.

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For Your Little Twinkle Toes: a Roundup of NYC Nutcracker Shows  
It’s officially holiday season here in New York City! The kids have their lengthy wish lists prepared, and it won’t be long before they’re asleep in their beds with visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads–sugarplum fairies, that is! And maybe a mouse king, some gingerbread man soldiers, a land of sweets, and maybe a dancing doll or two.

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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas: A Holiday Show Round-Up for Families  
You may have started seeing Christmas merchandise for sale right around Halloween, and candy canes may have started appearing in the supermarket aisles ages ago, but you really know the holidays are approaching in New York when the holiday shows start to roll into town. From the super extravaganzas to some smaller, quieter performances, we’ve got a roundup of what you’ll want to see to make the season merry.
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