Free Play November 14-16: Having Fun While Doing Good

200811140851.jpgNOTE FROM ADMIN: I discovered an error in our events calendar that was causing the server to add two hours to the start and end time of each event. I am really upset about it and worried that people may have gone to an event at the wrong time. MY most sincere apologies if it did. I have taken the calendar down temporarily while it is being fixed.

On a more positive note, dont forget to enter our Blurb giveaway by 5pm today. Winners will be reported tomorrow.

What's up with the raining every Saturday thing? Isn't this going to be the third rainy Saturday in a row? Luckily, there's plenty of fun and free activities going on inside this weekend to keep you busy. This weekend has a bunch of interesting events that are easy and enjoyable ways to teach your kids about helping others. The rest of the events are all about helping you...helping you have a super fun weekend without spending a ton of cash.

Click on the blue links to get the full event information.

Charity for Children
It's never too early to teach our kids the importance of helping others and the Holidays are a great time to do it. This weekend there are a bunch of activities that make doing good fun.

See the Space Shuttle Pass Over New York

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On Friday evening, people all over the East Coast will be able to see the Space Shuttle Endeavor launched into orbit on it's way to rendezvous and dock with the international space station. If you want to see it look low along the southern horizon around 8pm, Friday, November 14th, 2008.

Kids Night on Broadway is Now Monthly

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One of the best deals for kids in New York City just went from a rare occurrence to a regular monthly event. Kids' Night on Broadway lets you get free tickets to some of Broadway's biggest shows for any child aged 6-18 accompanied by a full-price adult . Starting in February, Kid's Night will happen every month on the first Wednesday and Thursday of each month.

On Kids' Night, parents can also take advantage of other deals, like area restaurants where kids eat free, pre-theater parties, discounted parking and more.

Mommy of the Month: Snipping Away at Child Slavery

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One of the things that continually strikes us at Mommy Poppins is how many people DO find time to give back to the wider community. In the Bronx we found one such business owner who, inspired by news and television reports that unveiled the horrors of childhood slavery practices in Ghana, took action. Interestingly, her business outwardly had nothing to do with global issues --she owns a local children's hair salon-- but she feels a commitment to all children and acts on her understanding that we are all connected. We hope you enjoy our Community Spotlight interview with mother, enterpriser and activist Suzanne Axelbank, and are inspired by her true global community service project!

Mom of the Month:

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One of the things that continually strikes us at Mommy Poppins is how many people DO find time to give back to the wider community. In the Bronx we found one such business owner who, inspired by news and television reports that unveiled the horrors of childhood slavery practices in Ghana, took action. Interestingly, her business outwardly had nothing to do with global issues --she owns a local children's hair salon-- but she feels a commitment to all children and acts on her understanding that we are all connected. We hope you enjoy our Community Spotlight interview with mother, enterpriser and activist Suzanne Axelbank, and are inspired by her true global community service project!

Tell me a little bit about your background in hair? What drew you to this profession?

I started cutting hair over 20 years ago after dropping out of college! I always felt bad about that and got my degree in 2000... first an associates in accessory design (I made shoes and bags) and then a BA in studio art. I was a para for awhile in classes for autistic children, and loved it, but was shocked at how badly some of the children were treated by some of the untrained paras, so I left that job. Through it all, I kept cutting hair because I really enjoy it.

When, why and how did you open your first kids hair cutting place?

I worked downtown at a famous kids place for 5 years, saw that I loved it, and april 3rd, 2002 I opened my store, Someplace Special . I just thought I'd stop talking about it and start doing!

When did you get involved Ghana children slave problem and why? How did you take that leap into activism?

I saw an article on the front page of the New York Times magazine and I was so touched. Then I saw the same story on Oprah and there was a former hairdresser on Oprah who worked out saving the little boy whose photo was on the front page of the NYT magazine. The little boy in the boat. I said to myself, I can do that! So I do my best to save kids too! I have two of my own, and I just thought no child should go to bed crying, or worse, too hurt to even cry.

Tell me about the recognition you received from Oriental Trading Company and the organization you are supporting that helps these children?

In my efforts to rescue children that have been sold into forced labor in Ghana I won a $10,000 price from Oriental Trading Company for a contest they call “Make the World More Fun”. Another $10,000 goes to the organization in Ghana trying to help these kids called the International Organization for Migration (IMO). IMO is helping hundreds of children who have been trafficked for forced labor in fishing villages along Lake Volta in Ghana. IOM seeks to rescue these children and to provide them with rehabilitation and reintegration support as they return to their home communities.

What are you doing now to continue your work on behalf of these children and how do your costumers become involved?

Our shop sponsors two children who have been rescued by IOM and have been reunited with their families. She has already sent both children and their families fun toys from Oriental Trading Company and is excited about using her prize money to visit Ghana to help even more children.

I also sell rubber bracelets I had made with the name of one of the two boys I sponsor. I sell plaster figures to paint and also donate that money. I had a party where my customers paid to do art projects knowing that the money would go to Ghana. I sent toys to the kids, and have photos of them with the toys. I am getting a local college involved in helping and the students are very into it. I never thought I'd be able to organize like this. I love it...

Describe Someplace Special?

We make it fun to get a haircut, with videos and playstations at every chair! We have special education experience and have the ability to work with any child. For whatever reason if a child can not sit in a chair, we move with the child, making them as comfortable as possible. We offer first haircut certificates, kosher lollipops, balloons and we even have two Thomas the Tank Engine play tables to play with anytime, even if you are not getting a haircut! We also sell toys.

The most rewarding thing, on a day to day basis, is when I get a child in my store who is terrified of haircuts and I can make them comfortable. I can't always do that as well as I'd like, but nothing pleases me more than getting down on the floor and playing with a child while I cut their hair! I have developed a lot of different methods over the years, and I am always trying new things. As I always say, I love what I do!

How can we find Someplace Special?

Someplace Special
490 West 238th Street
Bronx, NY 10463
718-432-6622

www.someplacespecialforkids.com

HOURS: Wednesday-Saturday 10 - 6 | Sunday 11 – 5

Visiting the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in NYC with Kids

Check out our updated post about the Intrepid, published in 2013. The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum reopened in 2008 after a five-year renovation. As a lifelong New Yorker, I hate to admit that I had never been to the Intrepid before. Roaming around a big ship and looking at airplanes had never appealed to me. But since they took the trouble to redo it, and I now have a five-year-old son, I figured it was worth going to check it out and I'm glad we did.

The people at the Intrepid Museum obviously took families into consideration in their planning because they've created a whole new kid-friendly section called the Exploreum. In the Exploreum, kids play their way through exhibits that teach them about the inner workings of the ship and life on the vessel, plus the Intrepid's role in the Space program.

Linkin B'logs: Yes We Cry and Even Other Stuff That Happened This Week....

The thing that has surprised me the most this week (aside from the fact that my candidate actually won), is the sheer volume of tears I have shed.  I see Malia and Sasha walk out on stage, cue tears.  People dancing and celebrating in the streets of Kenya, tears.  A video of a woman voting in Selma, tears.  Even the talk about what type of puppy to get and the answer of needing to balance their desire to get a shelter dog with getting a hypo-allergenic dog and more tears.  In fact, several times my daughter has looked at me confused and asked 'why are you crying Mommy'.  To which I answer - 'because I'm happy about Obama.' 

I am sure this makes absolutely no sense to her.  I myself am somwhat confused about my seemingly endless emotional response to this election.   I'm assuming that at some time in the next 4 years I will stop crying thru presidential press conferences but if not, so be it.  I'll take emotion over apathy any day.  Being that this was the first election I voted in as a mother I guess its all par for the course.  I also blubbered thru the Big Apple Circus last week because it was my daughters first cotton candy and introduction to clowns so maybe I need to partially chalk it up to George Costanza's famous line "it's not you, it's me".  And, in the end, isn't that what Obama keeps telling us, “All of this happened because of you, we just made history.”   And, here come the tears.

As for linkin blogs, keep reading for my top tear-jerk moments
of the past week and even other stuff that happened in the news like the second recorded virgin shark birth, the not so virgin news about Sex and the City Movie Part Two and more...

Blurb Giveaway: Turn digital pictures into a family photo album for holiday gifts

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We wrote about the book making possibilities from Blurb last year, but I had never tried it myself. Well, I just made my first digital photo book through Blurb.com and it came out great. I love giving photo albums, calendars and other custom and personalized gifts at Christmas and a Blurb book is perfect. In the past I have printed them out on high quality color printers and either had them bound at Kinkos or bound them myself, but having a professionally bound book is much easier and looks pretty slick.

Here's what I liked and thought could have been improved, plus what I learned along the way. At the end of the post find out details for our giveaway. Five winners will get to make their own blurb books, plus we've got blurb discount codes anyone can use right away.

Free Play: Intrepid Reopens, Art Workshops, Detectives Day, Disco and more

200811062339.jpgIt looks like another rainy Saturday this weekend, so we've got some great indoor activities at four different museums. They're not all free, but they're all worth doing. Sunday should clear up so take advantage of the relatively warm and sunny weather while you still can.

The Intrepid Reopens
The big news for this weekend is the reopening of the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum after a two year refurbishment. In celebration there will be music performances, giveaways, and more fun out on the new park-like pier. Saturday night there will be fireworks too. The museum is not free, but all the other events are. Saturday, 10am-8pm. Sunday, 10am-6pm. 46th St and Hudson River. Find out more at IntrepidMuseum.org

The Retro Christmas Gift: Chemistry and Electronics Sets

America is moving forward by looking backward. As they compare Obama to JFK and anticipate his bringing some forward-thinking good old retro energy to the White House, I am also looking back for some great ideas for Christmas gifts back in the day when kids got presents a little more stimulating than a Nintendo DS or the latest iteration of Tickle Me Elmo. I'm not thinking about BB Guns, a la A Christmas Story, I'm thinking about science kits like chemistry sets and electronics sets.

I don't know when science kits stopped being the cool gift kids wanted (gee did it have something to do with the video game?), but I can't think of anything cooler than finding one of these sets under the tree. I have to admit that I wasn't all that psyched about trying out the chemistry and electronics sets in our science kit review process, but we had more fun with these kits than with any other.

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