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The Tweens Read {December 2017}

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Here’s another monthly installment of the Tweens Read.  Each month I give a short summary of what my 9 and 11-year-olds have been reading.  If you are looking for new books for your own tweens to read, hopefully you can get some suggestions here.

READ BY THE 9-YEAR-OLD:

This past month  my son did an author study at school on Roald Dahl.  Most of his outside school reading was of various Roald Dahl books.

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Boy: Tales of Childhood by Roald Dahl
Published by: Penguin Group, February 1999 (first published 1984)
Pages: 176
Source: borrowed from classroom library
Rating: 3 out of 5

This is Roald  Dahl’s first autobiography, in which he writes about his childhood in England.  I have not read this book.  My son, “kind of liked it because I don’t really like autobiographies.”

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Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
Published by:  Puffin, June 1998 (first published 1975)
Pages: 205
Source:  borrowed from classroom library
Rating: 4 out of 5

Danny’s mother passes away when he’s a baby, so it’s just him and his dad.  He discovers that his father has a secret hobby, poaching pheasants.  Again, this is a book that I have not read.  My son liked this book and found it entertaining and funny.

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Going Solo by Roald Dahl
Published by: Puffin, April 2001 (first published 1986)
Pages: 209
Source: borrowed from classroom library
Rating: 3 out of 5

Going Solo is the sequel to Boy.  It’s Dahl’s autobiography of his time as a World War II pilot.  Again, my son wasn’t the biggest fan of this book because he doesn’t enjoy reading this genre of books.

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James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Published by: Puffin, April 1996 (first published 1961)
Pages: 144
Source: borrowed from classroom library
Rating: 4 out of 5

Although James and the Giant Peach is the sixth book that Dahl wrote, it’s one of his more well-known earlier works.  Even I’ve read and enjoyed this book and the movie with the giant peach and the talking insects! My son liked it because, “their adventures are extreme.”

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The Missing Golden Ticket and Other Splendiferous Secrets by Roald Dahl
Published by: Puffin Books, September 2010
Pages: 128
Source: borrowed from classroom library
Rating: 4 out of 5

This short book contains both fiction and non-fiction works.  It includes a chapter about Miranda Mary Piker, one of the children who didn’t make it into the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  There are also more tales about Roald Dahl’s life, a quiz and some recipes from Mr. Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.  My son liked it because, “it has cool recipes  for truffles and butterscotch” (which I did not know about and we did not try making).

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The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar by Roald Dahl
Published by: Puffin, October 1988 (first published 1977)
Pages: 240
Source:  borrowed from classroom library
Rating: 4 out of 5

This book is a collection of seven short stories.  I had not even heard of this book before my son brought it home to read.  He really liked the title story, because, “it is cool that Henry has the power to (kind of) cheat at casino games.”

READ BY THE 11-YEAR-OLD:

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Every Soul A Star by Wendy Mass
Published by: Little Brown Books for Young Readers, October 2008
Pages: 322
Source: borrowed from the library
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This middle grade fiction book is about three different teens Ally, Bree and Jack.  They are brought together by a viewing of a solar eclipse at Moon Shadow campground, which ends up changing their lives.  The chapters alternate being told from the perspectives of the three different characters.  My daughter has read several books by Wendy Mass and is a fan.

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The School For Good and Evil (The School For Good and Evil #1) by Soman Chainani
Published by: HarperCollins, May 2013
Pages: 488
Source:  purchased from Barnes & Noble
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is my daughter’s favorite book series.  Having purchased the second book in the series earlier last month, she decided to re-read the first book.  Best friends Sophie and Agatha are kidnapped and brought to the School For Good and Evil.

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To Look a Nazi in the Eye by Kathy Kacer with Jordana Lebowitz
Published by: Second Story Press, September 2017
Pages: 256
Source:  received copy from publisher
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Daughter’s Review:  This book was very interesting.  It is an account of a war trial against Oskar Groening, a SS guard in World War II. 19-year-old Jordana Lebowitz found herself being swept into the confusing and curious trial of Groening that claims he helped to kill more than 300,000 Jews. Jordana was ultimately not prepared for what she would encounter and see on her adventure. Jordana understood she would access knowledge by seeing history before her eyes and that she would have to pass this knowledge onto the next generation of learners. I recommend this book for ages 9+ because of the complexity.

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Speed of Life by Carol Weston
Published by: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, April 2017
Pages: 320
Source: received copy from publisher
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Daughter’s Review: This book was also an interesting book. It is about a 14 year-old-girl named Sofia who goes through the struggles of losing her mom, her dad getting a new girlfriend when she is not ready to get over her mom yet, and just being a teen. Her friends help her but when a long time goes by, they are concerned. When Sofia discovers Dear Kate, a column for girls, she now feels she has someone she can talk to for advice. When her Dad introduces her to his new girlfriend, who seems very familiar, Sofia’s life takes a whole new direction. I recommend this book for ages 10+ because of some rude humor, and awkward topics.

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Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Published by: Simon Pulse, February 2005
Pages: 425
Source:  purchased
Rating: 4 out of stars

I read this series over five years ago and enjoyed it enough to own the first three books.  My daughter decided to read this first one and liked it as much as I did.   This is a dystopian YA book where everyone is considered “ugly” until age 16 when they get a surgery to make them “pretty.” Tally Youngblood is about to turn 16.  But her new friends Shay and David show her the not-so-pretty side of being a “pretty.”

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A World Without Princes (The School For Good and Evil #2) by Soman Chainani
Published by: HarperCollins, April 2015
Pages: 433
Source: we own
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This is the second book in The School for Good and Evil series.  Sophie and Agatha are back home but are whisked back to the school.  There they discover that everything has changed and instead of good vs. evil, it is now girls versus boys.

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Year of Self-Care

Happy New Year!  2018 has arrived!  The past two years I picked a word for the year (happy, growth).  I used that word to help me try to live intentionally.  Honestly, I’m not sure how well they worked.  In lieu of choosing a word this year, I am vowing to focus on myself and practice self-care.  Like myself, I know many of you are probably super busy, tired and under-appreciated. I realize that I spend so much timing making sure everyone else in the family has everything they need that I don’t always prioritize myself.  This year, I have big goals for myself and to help me achieve them, I have to make sure that I am physically, mentally and emotionally healthy.  Each month,  I will be sharing a self-care post focused on one specific area.  I will be sharing resources and ideas that have or will hopefully assist me on my quest.  Throughout the year I will be working on all of these areas, but will be doing a monthly post focused on each.  I would love any resources or tips you have in the below areas to help me on my journey!

Exercise

Marriage

Diet

Decluttering/Organizing/Minimalism

Blogging

Reflection

Fun

Relaxation

New

Family

Gratitude

Home

These are loosely in the order I will be posting about them on the blog in future “Self-Care Saturday” posts.  Is anyone else interested in a year of self-care?  I hope you join me on this journey in making 2018 a great year!

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Five on Friday {The Last of 2017}

Happy Friday!  I can’t believe how quickly this week flew by.  Did everyone have a Merry Christmas?  The beginning of our week was super busy, cooking, cleaning, wrapping presents, etc. to get ready for Christmas. We got to experience a white Christmas with a small accumulation of snow early in the morning.  After Christmas, it was nice to relax a bit and enjoy some quality time together.  It’s crazy that this weekend is New Year’s Eve and 2018 will be here.  We are having our pizza-themed Supper Club and cookie exchange on New Year’s Eve and the kids go back to school Tuesday.  They’ve been staying up super late these past few days so it’s going to be a rough couple of days getting back into the school routine.  Here are five from this week:

1. Christmas dinner –  We host Christmas every year. This year we had an Asian-themed dinner with dumplings, sesame peanut noodles, Asian eggplant, honey-soy glazed carrots, fried rice and kimchi.  It was delicious and a nice change from the usual turkey, mashed potatoes, etc. Delegating dishes for family members to bring also cut down on our cooking and stress!

2. Star Wars: The Last Jedi – We don’t go out to the movies very often.  But this week we went to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi.  For someone who’s not a big Star Wars fan, I really enjoyed it.  We got a nice surprise too, when we went to buy our popcorn and discovered it was half-off for Regal members.

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3. Currently Reading –  I am currently reading The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter.  I’m about halfway through and enjoying this mystery/thriller.

4. Shopping – We hit the mall this week for some after-Christmas shopping.  The kids received several gift cards for Christmas that they really wanted to spend.  Bath & Body Works is having their semi-annual sale.  My daughter stocked up on some 75% body lotions.  I bought a couple of honey hand soaps at a deal for $1.88 each (regularly $7.50)!  Unfortunately, we were disappointed with this particular Target’s stock of Christmas supplies.  We usually stock up on wrapping paper, tissue paper and tags for next year. But we left with nothing this trip!  This week we also all got calendars for 50% off at Barnes & Noble.  I’m just hoping the kids will actually use them!

5. Relaxing – I know the kids only have a couple more days of their holiday vacation.  Instead of going out and doing lots of things, we are spending these last few days relaxing.  The normal school week is filled with so many activities and homework that they have very little time to just relax.  They are getting to sleep in and enjoy their Christmas presents.  They have been making slime, we have been playing games together, reading and more.  January 2 will be here soon enough and we’ll be back to the regular routine.

ICYMI this week on the blog:
The best books that I read in 2017.

Tuesday I shared my favorite reads of the year.

Thursday I posted 31 Days of January Fun.

I’m linking up with Andrea, April and Katie.  Have a great weekend and a happy new year!  See you in 2018!

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31 Days of January Fun

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It’s hard to believe that 2018 will be here soon.  Check out this calendar with 31 days of January fun!  Make the most of the month with some family fun, good food and more!

1.  Happy New Year!  If you’re like me, you don’t make resolutions.  However, I like to reflect on the past year and make goals for 2018.  What are you going to work for this year?

2. Check out what’s new to Netflix in January.  You can also check out what’s coming to Amazon Prime and hulu this month!

3.  Get to the gym!  It’s going to be packed with all the new members who joined for the new year.  It’s winter and it’s cold.  I need motivation too.  But we can do it!  If you don’t want to join a gym or prefer to exercise at home, this workout dvd set looks like a good one.

4.  Happy Trivia Day!  Play a game of Trivial Pursuit or check out a trivia night at a local restaurant or bar.

5.  Have a winter scavenger hunt.  Visit a local park and try to find the items on this list!

6.  Sleep in!  When was the last time you turned the alarm off and let yourself wake up naturally?

7.  Try a new winter sport.  If you’ve never been snow shoeing, tubing, skiing or snowboarding, now’s the time to give it a try!

8.  Any fellow bookworms out there?  Check out the books being published this month!  Still Me ,The Perfect Nanny and The Girlfriend are making it to my to read list!

9. Have a movie night!  Make some popcorn and rent a movie.  Some movies coming out on dvd this month include American Made (January 2), Battle of the Sexes (January 2), It (January 9) and My Little Pony:  The Movie (January 9).  Check here for a complete list.

10. If you didn’t make room for all your new holiday gifts before the holidays, now is the time to declutter.  Have everyone in the family donate 5 pieces of clothing, 5 books and 5 toys or other items.

11.  Try making at least one meatless dinner this week. Pizza, pasta are always good choices.  This recipe looks like one that my kids will approve of.

12.  Today is National Hot Tea Day and January is National Hot Tea Month!  I’m not a huge tea drinker, but when I do, I love using this teapot when using loose tea leaves.

13.  If you haven’t already, it’s time to take down the Christmas tree and holiday decorations.

14.  Practice gratitude.  Every night this week name three things you are grateful for.

15.  Happy Martin Luther Kings, Jr. Day.  Today is  the MLK Day of Service.  Find a project to volunteer at and honor his legacy today.

16.  New York City Broadway Week begins today through February 4.  Find 2-for-1 tickets on many shows!

17.  Anyone else get an Instant Pot for Christmas?!! Check out all of these recipes that you can make in it!

18.  Are your kids always telling you jokes?  Check out this site and tell them a joke today!

19.  It’s National Popcorn Day!  Make your own popcorn with a popcorn maker and then sprinkle with some of these fun seasonings!

20.  It’s time for family game night!  This month we are playing Mexican Train.  It’s an extended family favorite and we now own the game.

21. Have an at-home spa day.  Do your nails, put on a face mask and relax.

22.  Give your brain a workout!  Try to complete a Sudoku or a crossword puzzle.

23.  January is the best time to stock up on winter apparel and linens!  If you are looking to buy new sheets and towels, now is the best time to find the best deals.  If you can guesstimate your children’s clothing and shoe sizes for next winter, you can find boots, winter jackets and clothing on deep discount.

24. Pack a note in your child’s lunchbox.  Tell them how much you love them or wish them good luck on their test.

25.  Do your kids love slime?!  Enjoy making some with them with a kit or make your own with ingredients you may have in the house.

26.  Clear the paper clutter.  Cancel any magazine subscriptions that you don’t read.

27.  Many of us in snow regions should have gotten snow by now!  Bundle up and go play in the snow! Have a snowball fight, build a snowman, make snow angels…..then come in and warm up with a big mug of hot cocoa!

28.  Let your kids plan a day of fun and enjoy a day of doing what they want!

29.  Happy Library Shelfie Day!  Take a picture of your bookshelves and post on social media!  #LibraryShelfieDay

30.  Not many fruits and veggies are in season in January.  However, you will find citrus like oranges and grapefruit and root veggies and kale.  Try eating lots of these foods this month!

31. It’s the last day of the month!  Celebrate with a winter cocktail or mocktail!

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Best Books of 2017

The best books that I read in 2017.

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If you are looking for some new books to read, today’s post is for you.  I’m sharing my best books of 2017 with Steph and Jana’s Show Us Your Books linkup.  I’m always looking for book recommendations and I can’t wait to add tons of books to my goodreads “want to read” list after checking out everyone’s posts! According to Goodreads, I read 89 books this year, but I may get in one more read before the 31st.  These are my five star reads of the year. I’ve listed them in alphabetical order.  If you’re a regular reader of my monthly book reviews, you know that my favorite genre is suspense/thrillers.  However, I’m not sure I’ve ever read a 5 star book in this genre.  I don’t give many 5 star ratings.  The books that I give 5 stars to have to make me think, make me feel, and/or make me cry.  I have less than 10 books here, that I consider my best books of 2017.

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Beartown by Fredrik Backman – I think readers either love or hate this book.  I am definitely a lover.  This was the first Backman book I read.  I had heard others rave about it but was hesitant since it’s about hockey.  I’m not a huge hockey fan and didn’t think I’d love a book about it.  But it’s so much more than hockey.  Backman is a great storyteller. The only other book I’ve read of his so far is A Man Called Ove, which I enjoyed.  I plan to read more of his books next year.

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Dear Martin by Nic Stone – This was one of the last books that I read this month.  While it has a similar story line to The Hate U Give (see below), it was still a well-written, emotional and powerful read.  Authors tend to write about relevant topics, and it is sad to see that the shootings of unarmed black teenagers has become a norm.

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Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner – This is a YA book that was an emotional, all the feels, read.  It touches upon the importance of not texting and driving but is so much more.

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Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult – Picoult has been and continues to be one of my favorite authors. Her books tackle controversial issues and are told through the different points of view of multiple characters.  This is the first of two of her books that made my best of 2017 list.  This book is about a young girl with Osteogenisis Imperfecta (OI) a defect that causes her to have brittle bones and the lengths that her family will go to to protect her.

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – Although this is a YA book, it is a powerful and relevant read on race.  Like Dear Martin, this is another book where an unarmed black youth is shot by a police officer.

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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling – We listened to this book on audio over the summer when we were traveling.  Not much to say about this one since almost everyone has probably read it.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling – We did it!  We finally finished the Harry Potter series this summer.  I don’t know what took me so long to finish the series, but I’m glad that I was able to read this last book with my son.  Rowling is a master storyteller and this was such a great series!

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One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid – I think I have read all of TJR’s books now and this one has been my favorite.

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Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult –   Another book that focuses on race and racism in America.  This is a powerful and thought-provoking read.

 

What was your favorite book of the year?

 

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Five on Friday {The One Before Christmas}

Happy Friday!  We made it through the last week before Christmas! I’m wishing everyone an early Merry Christmas! We will be hosting Christmas dinner for both my family and my husband’s parents and brother.  I won’t be back until Tuesday, the 26th, when I will be sharing my favorite reads of 2017.  Enjoy the day with family, friends and good food.  I hope Santa brings you everything you wanted!  Here are five from this week!

Ice Skating – Saturday we went ice skating with my son’s class.  His teacher hosted a get-together at a local ice rink for any students and families who wanted to ice skate.  I was never a good ice skater to begin with, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve chosen not to skate.  It’s really not enjoyable for me and I never feel like I’m missing out!  I watched while my husband and kids were out on the ice.  I think this was only the second time that my son has been ice skating.  He liked it enough that he said that he’d like to try it again soon!

Latke Party – My mother-in-law’s family is Jewish.  Sunday we went up to my husband’s aunt’s house for a latke party to celebrate Hanukkah.  Since we don’t see this side of the family often, it was nice to get together with them. Plus….latkes!  Lots of latkes!

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Watching – Last weekend we watched National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation with the kids.  I think that I last saw this movie in high school.  The kids also watched the Emoji Movie.  Let me tell you, there’s a reason why it got a 9% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  Even the kids agreed it was a bad movie!

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Reading – With the craziness of Christmas quickly approaching, I have not had much reading time.  I recently started Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak and hope to get it finished soon!

Getting ready for Christmas – I finally finished the Christmas shopping yesterday!  I’m not sure that I’ve ever waited this long to get it done.  Now, I still have to finish wrapping the presents.  Plus, there’s finalizing the Christmas dinner menu, choosing desserts to make and bring to Christmas Eve dinner and…….ugh, grocery shopping.  Definitely not looking forward to that!

ICYMI this week on the blog:

A fun and aventurous family outing at the Palisades Center mall.

Tuesday I posted about Palisades Climb Adventure.

Thursday I shared NYC Winter Family Fun.

I’m linking up with Andrea, Katie and April.  Have a great weekend and a very Merry Christmas!

 

NYC Winter Family Fun {Besides Seeing the Tree in Rockefeller Center}

For those of us fortunate enough to live close to New York City, a winter visit is a must-do.  Of course, if you visit around the holidays, seeing the tree in Rockefeller Center is a must.  After battling the crowds to get a glimpse of the tree and attempting to take a decent family photo in front of it, now what are you going to do?  Here is just some of the NYC winter family fun to be had!

Free:

Holiday Train Show at Grand Central Terminal – See the New York Transit Museum’s annual holiday train show.

Holiday Windows – Check out the holiday window displays at Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdales, Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Tiffany & Co.

Inside:

American Museum of National History –  The museum is so large that you really can’t see everything in one day.  Current temporary exhibits include Our Senses, the Butterfly Conservatory, Mummies, Inside You, Earthflight, Opulent Oceans and Dark Universe.

Big Apple Circus – The Big Apple Circus is back at Lincoln Center, celebrating its 40th Anniversary. Experience an evening of thrills and laughs through January 7.

Broadway Shows – There are lots of family-friendly Broadway shows.  Charlie on Broadway is closing January 14 and SpongeBob Square Pants just opened December 4. Seasonal show Elf is running until December 29 and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular is playing through January 1. Other family-friendly shows include Aladdin, Anastasia, Cats, Lion King and School of Rock.

Gulliver’s Gate – A recently opened attraction in Times Square.  Step into an interactive world of miniatures.  Read all about our family’s experience! Reserved timed tickets start at $31 (if purchased online).

National Geographic:  Ocean Odyssey – A unique, immersive underwater experience in Times Square.  Read about or family’s recent visit. Reserved timed tickets start at $39.50 (adults).

New York Hall of Science – We have not been to New York Hall of Science yet, but it looks like a lot of fun! This is a hands-on science museum for children (and adults) of all ages. Through January 15,  visit special exhibit Gingerbread Lane.  See a village of homemade gingerbread houses.  On select dates you can even take part in a gingerbread workshop ($15 plus admission).  On January 15, the last day of the exhibit, from 2-5 PM, gingerbread houses from the exhibit will be given away on a first-come first serve basis.

Winter Onderland at One World Observatory – Through January 7, visitors will follow Ollie the snow owl from his home in the forest, past famous international landmarks to One World Observatory.  Reserved timed tickets start at $36.

Outside:

The Rink at Rockefeller – Ice skate under the famous tree in Rockefeller Center.

Winter Village at Bryant Park – The holiday shops are open until January 2.  However, the skating rink is open until March 4.

Palisades Climb Adventure {Family Fun}

A fun and aventurous family outing at the Palisades Center mall.

(We were provided tickets to Palisades Climb Adventure.  However, all opinions are our own.)

The temperature has been dropping and the holiday break will be here before you know it.  For a fun, indoor activity for the entire family, give Palisades Climb Adventure a try.  Located at the Palisades Center mall in Rockland County, Palisades Climb Adventure is the world’s tallest indoor ropes course.  There are 75 different elements throughout five different levels that climbers can experience as they make their way through the 85-foot tall course.

Located on the 4th floor of the Palisades Center, Palisades Climb Adventure is a fun indoor family activity.

After a day spent shopping at the mall, our family decided to do the ropes course before leaving.  This was not our first time doing the Palisades Climb.  All four of us did the course two years ago during the Christmas break.  Having experienced the course before, I did not participate this time as I wanted to take pictures of the family while they climbed around. You must empty your pockets and place everything in a locker before you can climb.

Every participant on the Palisades Climb Adventure is given a harness. The harness has a cable that attaches to the overhead beams.

Once you pay for the climb, you are given a wrist band.  Then, you wait on line to get harnessed and start the course. On this most recent visit, there was hardly any lines or waiting.  On our previous visit, during the holiday break, there was a substantial wait.  Only 75 people are allowed out on the course at one time, so there can be a long line, depending on when you go.

The Palisades Climb Adventure is the tallest indoor ropes course at 85 feet!

Employees fit each person with a harness and tighten the straps.  The harness gets clipped to a cable that runs on an overhead track. The cable ensures that you will not fall.  No matter how scary it appears, you are safe!  If your child is on the shorter side, they may have difficulty pulling their cable along the track in spots.  My husband had to assist my son at times.  If you are sending your child out on the course without an adult, there are employees out on the course to assist participants, if needed. Only one person is supposed to be on an element at a time. 

Once on the course, my family gravitated to the upper obstacles.  They especially enjoyed the zip line at the very top of the course.  There was barely any wait for the zip line and they rode it three times in a row.

They eventually made their way down to the bottom levels of the course but discovered that those elements are apparently the easier ones.  So they made their way back up to the middle levels.

They spent a good hour on the ropes course and had a great time.  My son was a lot less fearful this time out and tried some elements that he hadn’t on the last visit.   For those with smaller children (under 42″ tall) there is a Sky Tykes kids course that they can participate in.

The Palisades Climb Adventure is in the middle of a large shopping mall.  There will be lots of people stopping to watch you climb. Believe me, you’ll be so focused on getting across the elements, that you won’t even notice them!  Relax and enjoy the experience!

The Details:

Palisades Adventure Climb
Palisades Center (Course entrance is on the 4th Floor)
4590 Palisades Center Drive
West Nyack, NY 10994
(845) 727-3500
Website

Hours:
Monday – Thursday 2 PM – 8 PM
Friday 2 PM – 9 PM
Saturday:  11 AM – 10 PM
Sunday: 11 AM – 7 PM

Parking:  Plenty of free parking in the mall parking lot.  Park in the Level 4 parking lot (Target/Barnes&Noble/etc) for closest access

Admission:  $19.99/person for the Rope Course  $8.99/person (under 48″) for the Sky Tykes Kids Course

Tips:

*If you want pictures of your family climbing, you will need to bring someone who doesn’t want to climb.  No phones, bags, etc. are allowed on the climb.

*The course gets busy during the holiday vacation.  Plan your visit accordingly.

*Although any closed toe shoes are acceptable, I recommend wearing sneakers.

*Lockers are available to store your jackets and bags.

 

 

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Five on Friday {10 More Days Until Christmas!}

Happy Friday everyone!  Can you believe we are down to 10 more days until Christmas?!  Within a week, I’ve mailed out our Christmas cards and made a huge dent in the shopping.  I must say, I feel very accomplished this week!  This week was also super busy. Almost every evening there was an event that either I had to be at or bring the kids to.  This weekend we are going ice skating with my son’s class.  Sunday we are celebrating Hanukkah with my mother-in-law’s family at a latke party.  It should be a busy but fun weekend!

Holiday Party – Saturday we had our first real snow fall.  My friend was hosting a holiday party that evening.  Fortunately, we are also neighbors, so I was able to walk to her house and not worry about driving on the roads.   It was a potluck dinner and there was a White Elephant gift exchange.  It was a delicious and fun mom’s night out!  I came home with the Godiva Hot Chocolate and Coffee set as well as a cocktail mixer collection.

Belt Test – Wednesday evening my kids tested for their orange belt in Tae Kwon Do.  They both have been participating in a before-school Tae Kwon Do club for four years now.  Since the club is at their schools we don’t get to see them.  So it was nice to see them in action during their test.

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Reading – I am currently reading The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.  Although I don’t get hulu, I’ve heard the show is great.  For some reason, I think based on the cover of the book, I thought the book was historical fiction.  That’s actually not the case and it’s a science fiction/dystopian book.  I’m a little over half-way through and it’s really good.

An elf stands between the letters "e" and "f".

Watching – Last weekend we had our annual viewing of Elf.  I don’t watch a lot of movies more than once.  However, it has become a tradition that we watch this movie around Christmas.  We still laugh every single time.  Definitely a family favorite!  Do you have a favorite holiday movie?

Microwave-less – Definitely not a favorite!  There is some electrical issue with one of our kitchen outlets.  Somehow, it short-circuited and broke our microwave.  The buttons on the panel are non-functional.  So, I brought up a smaller microwave that we were storing in the basement, plugged it in, tried using it, and the same thing happened!  So, we are now down two microwaves this week!  You would think it’s not a big deal, but it has made me realize how much we use it!  Re-heating my coffee, heating up my lunch, making popcorn, cooking veggies (yes, I use those frozen steam bags a lot!) – getting the outlet fixed and buying a new microwave is on our to-do list!

ICYMI this week on the blog:

Tuesday I shared my November 2017 Reads.

Check out how I make our family's weekly meal plan.

Wednesday I posted an updated Peek Inside Our Meal Planning Process.

Thursday I wrote about our visit to Gulliver’s Gate.

I’m linking up with Katie, April and Andrea.  Have a great weekend everyone!

6

Visiting Gulliver’s Gate: Stepping into a Miniature World {Family Fun}

(We were provided tickets to Gulliver’s Gate.  However, all opinions are our own.)

My family and I recently visited Gulliver’s Gate on a recent trip to New York City.  Based on the name alone, you probably aren’t quite sure what exactly this attraction is.  Named after the Jonathan Swift’s classic novel, Gulliver’s Travels, Gulliver’s Gate is an amazing miniature world.  Using the latest interactive technology, the creators of the exhibit hope to “ignite your imagination and challenge your perspective.”

Gulliver’s Gate covers the equivalent area of an entire football field and is divided into eleven different exhibits.  The exhibits have been created by artisans from eight different countries and four continents.  This $40 million dollar attraction took sixteen months to complete and has been open since May of this year.


Before you enter the Gulliver’s Gate exhibit floor, each visitor will be given a key. which can be used to interact with the different exhibits.  Each blue kiosk will tell you what motion element you will activate and some kiosks even have two different interactions depending on which direction you turn the key. For example, the kiosk above started the parade.  After your visit, you are welcome to take your key home with you as a souvenir, or drop it off in the return box in the lobby.

You will also be given a visitor’s guide when you enter the attraction.  Inside, you will find a map of the exhibits as well as a scavenger hunt.  We had a fun time trying to find all of the items in each exhibit.  If you have difficulty, each exhibit has a guide that will help answer questions (and show you where the hidden items are!).  As you can see, we weren’t quite successful in finding everything!

The first exhibit you see when you step off the escalator is New York City.  This miniaturized version of the Big Apple was created in Brooklyn, New York and took 258 days to make.  Here you will find landmarks like the Empire State Building, Central Park and the Guggenheim.  See trucks cross the Brooklyn Bridge, take a peek inside Grand Central Terminal and watch as the subway pulls into the station.

The major monuments and attractions in each exhibit have informational tags to tell you more about them.  Altogether, there are over 100,000 miniature people, 1,000 trains and 10,000 cars placed throughout the exhibits.  Most of the elements are in HO scale 1:87 and many of the vehicles move.

After visiting New England and Niagara Falls you will make your way through Europe and the British Isles.  Great detail was put into all of the exhibits and there is so much to see!  One of our favorites finds was spotting these famous musicians in the British Isles exhibit.

Gulliver’s Gate has done a great job of infusing pop culture icons into the exhibits, some of which are hidden for the scavenger hunt.  Snoopy is in the Middle East, Batman and Spiderman  are in New York City and the Knight Rider Car is in Europe.

We had recently seen a special on Netflix about the Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore.  We were surprised to find a model of the hotel in the Asia exhibit!

As you make your way through the exhibit you will come upon the control room.  Here you will see technicians monitoring all of the exhibits and making sure everything is running smoothly.  The exhibit has its own GPS system and self-driving vehicles move via sensors and a computer system.  In the airport, planes actually take-off.

In between the Asia and Middle East exhibits is the Model Workshop.  Behind the garage doors, we could see artisans working on models. When the doors are lifted, guests can actually talk and interact with the model workers.

Special for the holidays, each exhibit has surprise themed miniatures including The Grinch, Grandma getting run over by a reindeer, the Twelve Days of Christmas, lots of Santas, menorahs and much more!  Look closely to see if you can find them all!

If you’d like a memento of your visit, you can have a miniature version of yourself created!  There is a 3D scanner that can make a mini model of yourself  (your choice of three different sizes) for a cost.

The length of your visit will be determined by how long you wish to stop and look at each exhibit.  There is so much to see that you can make multiple visits and probably find something you missed the first time. They are also continually adding to the exhibit.  Currently in the works is an airport system that will connect the different exhibits to the main airport hub.

If you are looking for a fun and unique outing in New York City, visit Gulliver’s Gate!

The Details:

Gulliver’s Gate
216 West 44th Street
New York, NY 10036

Visit the website for the most up-to-date information.

Hours: 10 AM – 8 PM, Daily, seven days a week

Admission:  Timed Tickets – $36/adults, $27/seniors  (65+) and children (ages 6 – 12), Free/children (0-5)
Flex Tickets (allow you to visit any day or time) – $41/adults, $32/seniors and children
Family Flex Ticket – Good for 2 adults and 3 children for $108

Tips:

*Visit early if you can.  We had 10 AM tickets and arrived when the attraction first opened.  There were no lines and the exhibits were not crowded.  By the time we left it was substantially more crowded.

*Try out the scavenger hunt included in the map.  It encourages you take a closer look at the exhibits.

*There is a gift shop that sells all kinds of travel-related souvenirs.

*No food or drinks are allowed in Gulliver’s Gate.  If you are looking for a nearby place to eat lunch or dinner, within a short walking distance you’ll find Junior’sGuy’s American Kitchen & BarCarmine’sSardi’sCity Kitchen and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.