Raising Broadway Babies – and A Totally TONYs Partnership (pinch me!)

b_totallytonysI grew up going to the theater, performing in musicals, doing ballet.  Living in Brooklyn meant going to a Broadway theater was an event.  We planned ahead, tickets were bought in advance, reservations made, more often than not a special occasion was involved.  I didn’t really care what I saw – I just loved going.  And the truth is, when you’re a kid, if there’s singing and dancing and a big velvet curtain it’s all magic.  If you also got Tommy Tune, Bernadette Peters, Mandy Patinkin or Patti LuPone – well then that magic elevated to a level of serious wizardry.

When I’m being totally honest with myself I will admit that I miss being a part of the theater.  For most of my childhood and early 20’s it is where I assumed I would be.  And it does not surprise me that when I look at most of my closest friends many, many of them are theater geeks too – with their own drama stories and a bit of wistful regret.  I never doubted that I would raise my daughters as theater goers.  They do not have quite the performing bug I had – they participate, but that love of the stage is not deep in their bones like mine. They are more attracted to singer/songwriters, not all out musical theater.  However, they love to go.  Even when they were little – when they hated movies, were terrified to watch previews or sit in a movie theater, they loved watching live theater.

Nothing can replace that feeling of being in the audience and watch real people, feeling real emotions, working through relationships, love, loss, and joy right in front of you.  Theater is almost a basic human need – going back centuries – the desire to connect, relate, tell a story, entertain, educate.  And you don’t need much to put on a show right in your own basement, backyard, school auditorium, or neighborhood park.  It’s enough to inspire Broadway dreams in kids across the country.

That’s why I’m so excited to announce that KidzVuz is partnering with The Tony Awards this year to promote the June 9th telecast of the Tony Awards hosted by Neil Patrick Harris (woot!).  We are holding a contest for kids all over the country to tell us about their favorite show, or sing a bit of their favorite Broadway show tune.  And the response has already been amazing.  Here’s one of my favorite video entries so far:

If you’ve got a Broadway Baby in your life make sure to let them know about this contest – they can win a giant bag of Broadway Show swag with hats, T-shirts, soundtracks, autographed Playbills and more.  AND they could be featured on the Tony Awards website!

The kids have taken over Broadway this year in Matilda, Newsies, Kinky Boots, Annie, Motown, Annie and more.  There’s never been more family friendly fare on the Great White Way – so if you’re in NYC be sure to see a show.  And make sure to check out the regional theaters near where you live.  Support your local theater since that’s where so many kids’ dreams begin.

And in the meantime, they can enter the Totally Tonys video contest by clicking HERE!

Walt Disney World New Fantasyland and Granting Holiday Wishes with GM Northeast – A Very Merry Giveaway!

Last week I attended the Grand Opening of the New Fantasyland at Walt Disney World.  I hadn’t been to Walt Disney World in probably 20 years or so.  My daughters had never been.  I still remember walking through Cinderella Castle the very first time – I was 6 years old – and seeing Fantasyland spread out on either side of me.  It’s so vast and unbelievable that first time.

castle

This trip was no less magical, and maybe even more so watching my daughters experience it for the first time.

There are a couple of words that get repeated over and over again when you are at Disney World – wishes, imagination and dreams.  At the core of Fantasyland are those ideas that form the foundation of fairy tales.  New Fantasyland expands on these themes in dramatic and incredibly engaging ways.  The expansion of Dumbo into an entire Circus experience is whimsical and wonderful.

dumbo

Belle’s Cottage, the Beast’s Castle and the little French village built around the Beauty and the Beast area is truly enchanting.  And Ariel’s Under the Sea Ride brings you into that undersea world completely.  It feels new in every way – from the technology to the artistic details.

bellemermaid

For us, this trip was truly a holiday wish come true, an amazing vacation filled with take our breath away moments – especially the end of the evening castle projection show on Cinderella Castle.

Disney hosted me and my family for this trip, but all starry-eyed opinions are my own.

GIVEAWAY:

onwish

Now, I feel especially lucky to help grant a wish to one of my lucky readers.  I have partnered with General Motors Northeast to pick one reader for their Grant One Wish program who will win a $500 Amex Gift Card and a one week car loan from GM Northeast to help make their holiday wishes come true.

Want to visit family?  Drive around to volunteer and do good this season?  Take a holiday road trip?  What would you do with a fab car for a week and $500?  I can’t wait to hear all about it!

Method of entry:

  • You must follow me on twitter @beccasara
  • Tweet your holiday wish and include the hashtag #GMNER and my handle: @beccasara, then leave a comment below with the link to the tweet.  (to do this click on the time stamp of your tweet and you will be taken to the tweet’s url.)

Additional Entries:

  • Like KidzVuz.com on Facebook and leave a comment with your Facebook name so it can be verified.

Stand Out!

  • Add a picture to your tweet or link to a video on YouTube telling me and GM your big holiday wish.  Just don’t forget the hashtag #GMNER and @beccasara so we can find it!  You’ll get 5 extra entries for going the extra mile! Make sure to leave a comment below with a link to the image-filled tweet.

Eligibility:  Winner MUST be 21 years or older and live in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut or Washington, D.C. areas.  Employees, and their relatives, of GM and Beccarama.com are not allowed to enter.  Contest ends on December 17, 2012 at 12:00pm EST.  Winner will be chosen at random using random.org.  Prize to be provided by GM Northeast.

GM Northeast sponsored this giveaway and I was provided with a car loan in exchange for hosting this contest. 

GOOD LUCK!

Check Out KidzVuz on WPIX Morning News: Hot Holiday Picks for Tweens!

Yesterday, Nancy Friedman and I were incredibly excited to do our first live on-air TV segment for KidzVuz.com.  We were featured on the WPIX Morning News here in NYC with two awesome KidzVuz reviewers to show the best holiday picks for tweens – by tweens!  Aren’t you sick of hearing adults go on and on about what kids want – only to discover your kid didn’t really care about that supposedly “hot” toy at all?  Well, we are lucky to have kids all over the country telling us what’s cool, trending or on their wish lists every day on KidzVuz.com.    Check out our awesome segment with the incredibly wonderful Tamsen Fadal who was beyond genuinely nice and great with the kids!

And check out the amazing giveaway for some of these products and a Windows HTC phone on KidzVuzParents.com.  Plus there’s still time for your kid to enter to win a $100 Visa Gift Card on KidzVuz.com.

Getting My Artsy Girls to Play Sports (Hint: It’s about the outfit and gear)

My daughters never liked team sports.  At 4, when I enrolled them in a kiddie soccer class they turned the goal upside down and declared it a spaceship, climbed on in and then proceeded to create a story about going to the moon that captivated the other kids and made it impossible for the 24 year-old coach to interest any of the kids in dribbling the ball through cones.  Needless to say, the other parents were not fans of my girls.

I realized quickly that team sports were just not my girls’ thing.  But keeping them active is important and we didn’t give up on finding sports that they would like and do well in.

Land sports – not for them.  But, luckily water is their thing.  Swimming, skiing, skating – if it involves some sort of water they are into it.

If it involves a uniform, costume or awesome gear then they are REALLY into it!  So, I was excited to head over to the new #RookieUSA store on Columbus Avenue on the Upper West Side to check out all the fab clothes and shoes.  And while my girls are not land sport crazy, we are New Yorkers and we walk everywhere, so my girls live in sneakers – and having a giant selection is just what we need.  They also started tween spin this year and are in serious need of some cute workout shorts that won’t chafe.

I have also found that I need to canvas a new store without my daughters for the first visit – otherwise it’s a frenzy of “I need this.”  “I must have that.”  A little preparation goes a long way when guiding tween girls through a merchandise heaven.   And merch heaven it is…

I ended up getting these super soft and lightweight Nike shorts for my girls that are perfect for spinning, and a pair of fabulous purple Levis jeggings.  You can see the full photo spread on my Google + post

Purple and aqua – that’s how we roll in our house.

This is a seriously welcome addition to the Upper West Side – especially for the jeans and sneakers.  I have to add that the customer service was incredibly lovely too.  Not only did a saleswoman help me figure out the sizing (they really do need to post size charts for that Nike stuff) the cashier signed me for the rewards program and gave me the discount even though I couldn’t find my $20 coupon.  That really doesn’t happen in NYC.

Plus, it’s right next to Michaels – so after stocking up on sporty stuff I can feed my daughters’ artsy side with crafty goods galore, and then grab lunch at Whole Foods.  Perfect Upper West Side morning.

Check out RookieUSA on Twitter and Like them on Facebook so you can know when the online store launches!

Leave a comment below and tell me what sports your kid is into.  The first 5 commenters get a $20 Rookie USA gift card! 

I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Rookie USA #CBias #SocialFabric

The Digital Family Summit: A Weekend Devoted to Tech, Video, Social Media for Tweens and Teens!

At KidzVuz we believe that technology is not the enemy, and that our kids need the right tools and knowledge to become creative, responsible digital citizens.  That’s why we are so excited to be part of the first ever Digital Family Summit in Philadelphia from June 29th-July 1st.  The Digital Family Summit is an interactive, hands-on conference for teen and tween digital media creators and their families.  If you or your kid is interested in blogging, entrepreneurship, creating videos, games or animations this conference will help build skills and make connections that will take him or her to the next level.

We also believe that the Digital Family Summit is the perfect way to kick off your family’s summer so that your kids can apply the amazing skills they learn over the weekend all summer long, and have a technological leg up starting the new school year.  Plus, we hope that your kids will take this new-found video making and editing savvy and become a member of KidzVuz.com where they can safely create and share their videos with other like-minded kids from all over the country!  We will certainly be looking for future star reviewers in this fabulous crowd.

Now the fun part.  You can get a 25% discount on a family pass right now using code KIDZVUZ at checkout.  Even more exciting, we are giving away a Digital Family Summit Family Pass for you and your kids to attend!  Just click on over to KidzVuz Parents Blog and enter to win!

Moms Gone Wild-ish: Taking Time Out to Celebrate with Friends (with $100 Giveaway)

This post is sponsored by Serve from American Express. Sign up for Serve and receive $10 credit towards your first use. Comment below within the next 7 days for your chance to win an extra $100 credit to your account!

This past year has been crazy for me.  It’s been full of amazing opportunities like Mom Congress, the launch of KidzVuz, spending the day with Sony and photographer Brian Smith at BlogHer, being on ABC News Now and speaking at the 140 Edu Conference and She Streams.  But none of these events would have been possible – or nearly as fun –  without an amazing support system of family and friends.  As I’ve gotten busier and busier this year I’ve had less time to spend with many of my non-work friends – and I miss them!  So when I got the opportunity to try out a new payment system called Serve from American Express, and take out a bunch of my girlfriends, I jumped at the chance.

We are lucky to live in NYC where there are so many fab restaurants and we headed to Landmarc at the Time Warner Center, which not only does a great lunch but overlooks Columbus Circle and Central Park.

And did you know their bacon is so good even vegetarians are allowed to eat it?  True story.  It was great to pile into a big round booth, be together for a couple of hours swapping stories and catching up, and most of all taking time out during this crazy season to just hang out.

I can look around this table and see women who I have known – some for the last 7 years and others for just the last few – and feel grateful to have a group of women who I know I can rely on to grab my kids at pick-up if I’m late, be on my emergency blue card at school, have my back at contentious Parents Association meetings, and really just have a great time with complete with a lot of laughing and honest talk.  And to me that’s worth celebrating.

At the end of the meal everyone paid their share and then I paid them all back via Serve, right on my Android phone.  (They had all signed up for Serve accounts prior to the meal – see what I mean about being able to rely on them?)  And now they can either use their Serve card to shop and use the balance that way or move the money into their bank account.  Though knowing this group I think the shopping route is the more likely scenario.

And I am so excited that now I can pass on the same opportunity to one of my readers!

First: Remember to sign up for Serve and receive $10 credit towards your first use.

WIN $100 FROM AMERICAN EXPRESS! Comment below within the next 7 days for your chance to win an extra $100 credit to your account! Official sweepstakes rules and regulations may be found by clicking here. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

How to Enter: Leave a comment below describing your fave girls night or guys night out activity or location – just keep it clean, this is a parenting blog after all!  Contest ends at 11:59pm 12/27/11.

Finding Cyber Deals in an Instant This Holiday Season (and a giveaway)

One of the things that drives me crazy is the constant tab and window hopping I do to compare prices across websites.  There are sites that will aggregate an item across sites but I never have much luck with them.  Often they show wrong items in their search or don’t really find the best deals.  So this year I tried out a new browser extension called Drop Down Deals, which conveniently does exactly what it says: drops down a little teaser that tells you about deals, coupons and free shipping for the site you’re on.  Right there – no clicking away endlessly, Googling “free shipping” or any of the other time-consuming bargain hunting tactics that make cyber shopping a chore.

For example, if you went to Macys.com or BestBuy.com and these merchants currently had coupons or deals available, Drop Down Deals would pop up a small box in the corner of your computer screen to let you know.  When clicked, a menu will literally drop down to show you all the current coupons or deals or promotions for the site.  No freaking out wondering if there is a magical coupon out there that you missed.

They also have their own deals on the Drop Down Deals site and free shipping offers too.  To kick off this week of 5 Days of Deals they will be sharing exclusive deals to users through their site, facebook page and twitter.  One caveat, the browser extension only works on Firefox when on a Mac, though on most browsers on a PC, but you can follow on their site, facebook or twitter from anywhere.

To kick off the spirit of giving and getting a deal this holiday season I am hosting a giveaway for a fab nylon messenger bag to give to the techie in your life. (or the mom ’cause the nylon makes this a great diaper bag too!) After all, what’s more fun than cyber bargain hunting on the go?

To enter to win the messenger bag you must do one of the following actions:

1. Follow Drop Down Deals on Twitter: @DropDownDeals 
2. Like Drop Down Deals on FaceBook: Drop Down Deals
3. Google +1 Drop Down Deals page: Here
Happy Bargain Hunting!
The contest ends on 12/14/2011.  Winner will be chosen by random.org.  Open to all US Residents 21+.  Drop Down Deals is the sponsor of this giveaway and is responsible for all fulfillment, winner validation and shipping.  Beccarama is not responsible for prize fulfillment.
I was compensated for this post and the giveaway by Drop Down Deals.  But all opinions are my own, as always.