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Pounding 42nd Street…

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Cats on Broadway

 

Jake and Zac have been enjoying shows since before they could talk. Living close to New York City has allowed us the luxury of seeing some truly incredible shows, many of which were on Broadway.

As the daughter of a professional ballet dancer, I grew up seeing shows and even spent some time backstage, which is why I am so in awe of theater and want to expose Jake and Zac to it.

When it comes to kids, though, Broadway can be touchy. Obviously, people pay quite a bit of money for their tickets so they do not want to be bothered by a child or toddler making noise, kicking their seat or doing basically anything that kids do. However, with a little preparation and forward thinking, kids can and will enjoy a great show as much (if not more) than their “adult” counterparts.

Some of our favorite shows lately have been Cirque du Soleil PARAMOUR, Jake and Zac were in such awe that they didn’t move an inch, their eyes were glued to the stage. They also loved Aladdin, and to be honest we picked this show specifically for Jake and Zac, but  I (and the other “adults”) LOVED it! We also saw the classic Cats revival, which had been a favorite of mine as a child.

 

Here are my tips for cultivating a love of theater…

First start taking kids to the theater as early as possible, just don’t start with Broadway. Let them test the water at local school productions and other shows where kids are welcome. We saw an amazing high school performance of Little Shop of Horrors, A Gazillion Bubbles, The Nutcracker and The Rockets’ Christmas Spectacular for starters.

Also, always have a quick exit strategy in place. Kids are unpredictable. I learned this lesson the hard way when we saw Spiderman on Broadway  – I’m not kidding, Jake had no problem keeping it together in Memphis but a couple weeks later lost it in Spiderman – see UNPREDICTABLE.

You will also want to make sure any show you are seeing is appropriate, some even have age limits. Jake has seen a show or two that made me blush (but I think most of it went over his head).

And, if you can, mix things up. Jake and Zac loved this helicopter ride in between seeing The Waitress and Hamilton (Zac stayed home for those two shows).

I have to mention, that we have some very generous family members that have taken us to see many of the shows we have. And, having seen both local productions and Broadway, chances are your local theater can be an amazing and affordable substitute.

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Mile High Preggo… tips for traveling while expecting.

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Natural Bridge at Springbrook National Park

There’s a really long list of things to avoid while pregnant, luckily traveling is not one of them. As long as your doctor gives you the okay, there is no reason to put the brakes on your wanderlust.

There are some inherent risks to be mindful of, so here’s what I learned when I traveled to Australia while 8-months pregnant.

First, when choosing a destination, my doctor emphasized the fact that you need to go to places that have a strong healthcare system. Should something unforeseen arise, you want to know that you will be well taken care of. Luckily, Australia fit the bill.

Second, and most frightening, you need to be aware of the increased risk of blood clots and this risk increases even more on long duration flights. Australia happened to be about the longest flight I could take, but there are things you can do to decrease the risk. My doctor told me to get up, stretch and walk around the plane every one-and-a-half to two hours. So, I set the timer on my phone to wake me up and I got up, I did lunges, squats and releves in the back of the plane. I didn’t miss one timer and I didn’t care how ridiculous I looked. My doctor also recommended compression stockings for the flight. You will have to ask your doctor for the recommended strength or mmHg level. Depending on the level your doctor recommends, these are two brands that I liked Terramed and Preggers.

Was the flight easy – nope, it was rough, but the reward was worth it!

 

We stayed in Broadbeach, which is on the Gold Coast. Every morning, Jake and I went swimming in the ocean. We rented SUPs at Currumbin Creek from Gold Coast SUP, they even had a board that was perfect for Jake to sit on the front.

We also went hiking a lot, Queensland has some incredible hiking spots. Some of our favorites were Tamborine Mountain and the Natural Bridge at Springbrook National Park.

Yet another highlight was the WSL Quicksilver Pro at Snapper Rocks in Coolangatta. Seeing legends like Kelly Slater, up close was pretty amazing.

While there is a lot you can’t do while pregnant, there are some truly wonderful experiences to be had!

The Italian Lifestyle… swoon!

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We went to Italy for my brother’s wedding with about 150 of our closest friends and family. The first week of the trip was dedicated to the wedding, the second week we took a familymoon with a group of about 15.

In all of our travels we’ve found virtually everywhere to be very warm and welcoming to children, but Italy is on a whole other level. There, the children seem to take centerstage and I’m just in awe of their lifestyle. Everyone has their own gardens, food is made from scratch with such passion and the art of simply enjoying life is ingrained in the culture.

We began our trip in Santa Maria di Castellabate, which is in the province of Salerno. It attracts a lot of tourist, but mainly other Italians on their summer holiday. During the day, the azure beaches are busy. At night and even into the wee morning hours, the streets are filled with families. Kids are sleeping in their strollers or eating gelato or listening to the parents lively conversations over wine at the piazza. It was wonderful!

Pompeii is nearby and even at just five-years-old, Jake loved it!

From Castellebate we headed to Puglia and stayed in the most incredible masseria, or old farm house. Set among the ancient olive orchards, the Masseria Montenapoleone dates back to the 1600’s. This beautifully renovated bed and breakfast features an incredible restaurant, stunning pool, and fun options for cooking classes. The property is also ripe with fig, lemon and almond trees where you can pick fruit and eat it right from the tree outside your room. The masseria is also just a short drive from I Trulli, Ostuni and more incredible beaches. In fact, you can snorkel at an ancient ship wreck just off the beach.

 

We finished our trip in Rome where Jake was awed by the great Colosseum, the ancient city, the Borghese Gallery and the underground catacombs. We booked a private tour, which is the way to go. Not only are they affordable, but they are easily customized. There are many companies to choose from including Private Tour of Rome and Rome Private Guides.

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Down Under and Wild!

img_1632I could write ten posts on Australia and I probably will. It is one of my most favorite places in the world. It’s wild and adventurous and FUN! Although it can be very dangerous, the culture in its fearlessness somehow reassures you that it’s safe. When all that separates you from a potentially fatal box jellyfish sting is a thin piece of nylon, it reminds you just how wild the world really is.

The first time I took Jake to Australia was when he was four. My mom, my sister, Jake and I went to visit my brother and his wife, that were living in Australia at the time. The 30+ travel-time and flight were surprisingly a breeze. Jake was a champ, Qantas is amazing and we watched TV and slept.

This trip opened Jake’s eyes to the exotic beauty of the natural world and how amazing the animal kingdom is.

One of our first stops was the Whitsundays. We took a boat tour, where we swam at Whitehaven Beach, snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef (Jake’s first snorkeling adventure) and went barefoot hiking. Jake loved it and so did we. Although, in all honesty, the box jellyfish were scary, but we kept our fingers crossed and wore our supplied stinger suits.

We also loved Australia’s zoos. Two of our favorite were The Australia Zoo and Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Both zoos put an emphasis on conservation and education. Jake was able to see animals up close, which he loved and I hope opened his eyes to the responsibility he has to protect our planet and all of its inhabitants.

Australia is incredibly beautiful and full of adventure for all ages!

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Cape Byron Lighthouse, Byron Bay

Vegas Baby

Most would consider Las Vegas an adult-only destination, but I will always consider it home. It’s also the first trip Jake ever took at just three-months-old. Lucky me, he slept the entire five-hour flight.

While the Strip gets the most attention, Las Vegas is also home to some incredible attractions. Whenever we visit we make sure to go hiking as much as possible, especially with my grandma that’s in her 90’s.

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Just 17 miles west of the Strip, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is easy to get to. With miles and miles of hiking trails for all levels, as well as rock climbing, horseback riding, biking and more, Red Rock Canyon opens the beautiful Mojave Desert to adventure-seekers of all kinds!

Another amazing stop in Las Vegas is the Neon Museum. In the Boneyard, you will find a representation of Las Vegas’s unique history. The collection of old neon signs is beautiful yet eerie, and a treasury of relics you won’t find in most museums. Just keep in mind, there are hazards and this is not a place to run wild.