Disclosure: I received compensation to facilitate this review. Please note, that as always, opinions expressed below are always my opinion.
As the summer is approaching, I have heard from so many of my friends about the activities that they are planning to help keep their children occupied. I had the pleasure of speaking with the Hartford Stage Education Department recently. The Hartford stage is a nonprofit located in Downtown Hartford, and the Education Departmentaims to provide students of all ages throughout Connecticut with innovative, quality theatrical opportunities and education programs that challenge and inspire. I thought their programs sounded so cool, I wanted to pass them along to MMB readers.
At the Hartford Stage Summer Studio, kids are able to let their imaginations run wild through acting, dancing, creative movement, theatre games, arts and crafts. It’s a place for all kids—whether they are the budding actor ready for the spotlight or the shy kid on the verge of breaking out of their shell. Their youth programming run all year round with Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring classes. Classes range from musical theater, improvisation, scene study, storybook, mini productions and full productions! Their next upcoming series is April Vacation Week (April 14-18th from 9am-5pm). The summer courses are also now listed on the website. There are classes for kids ages 3 – 17 – more information can be found on the website. While all the classes seemed great, the ones which caught my eye the most were:
1. For my 5-year-old son…Summer Bookends (for 5-8 year olds) Bookend the summer with drama and fun! Students will explore literature from summer reading lists through acting, musical theatre, creative movement and arts & crafts.
2. For my almost 3-year-old daughter: Day Dreamers (for 3-5 year olds) The youngest artists will enjoy a half-day of creative movement, music, story theatre, and puppet play!
I was impressed with the programs because they seemed to have diverse, age appropriate activities, with a competitive price for the type of activities included.
The Hartford Stage Education Department aims to give students of all ages throughout Connecticut with innovative, quality theatrical opportunities and education programs that challenge and inspire.
Sign up for their classes today using the Early Bird discount where students can save up for $50 per registration as well!
For more information check them out through the following links:
A simple conversation with friends led me to do some thinking…tonight’s post, I am sharing my thoughts on the building a family: talking about boys and girls…and how things shook out a bit for us
Growing up, my mom had a friend, Mrs. M, whose house I loved visiting. Mrs. M would help to take care of me if my mom was in a pinch, and I loved it. I would bring my dolls, and she would help set up tea parties with them. We would venture to her closet, and I would have free reign on the costume jewelry, the amazing accessories, and would teeter around in the most beautiful high heels. I would pull up a chair to the kitchen counter as we created the tastiest baked goods, and we would lunch on petit fours and pink lemonade. Quite honestly – it was a little girl’s paradise….Mrs. M was the quintessential grown up girly girl, who was the mom to a house full of boys. Having a little girl come over to enjoy everything with, was perfect for both of us, and we still talk about the fun we had to this day (and I still have some of my treasured baubles from my visits to her home).
These memories came back to me this past weekend, when we were talking with some friends. All of us have baby girls around the same age. For us, baby girl’s arrival made our family boy/girl/girl. The second family is now boy/girl, and the third family is girl/girl. As two of the 5-year-old boys ran through the kitchen, wearing football helmets, asking if they could play a game, the dad of the family with two girls made a comment about how he missed sharing sports with his girls. He followed up with saying, “man, that makes me sound like an ungrateful a$$hole.”…with that, the football game was on hold for a bit and we kicked off a conversation about our children’s genders.
My husband started by saying how when my son was born – he was grateful to have another boy in the family…it was awesome to go to a baseball game together, play superheroes, or do some of the other “boy” things. He has two sisters, and growing up, he would often watch sports games on the black and white small TV with the rabbit ears in the kitchen, while his sisters watched their shows on the family’s television. He is excited to share things that he loved with his son…
I shared how when I was having my second child, I was pretty convinced we were going to have a second boy. I was so excited to meet the baby (obviously), but when my husband told me “it’s a girl” – I was overwhelmed, and started crying immediately. I didn’t know how much I wanted a daughter, until she was there. I didn’t know how much of my childhood I wanted to share until she was sitting right there in front of me, wearing her perfect little pink hat (which the nursery nurses fittingly wrote “princess” on).
The conversation continued…the dads appreciated the tea parties, or the differences between the Disney Princesses which they enjoyed with their daughters. As a mom, I watch more football now than I ever have in my entire life, because of my sons (slightly unhealthy) obsession. And let’s be honest – gender doesn’t REALLY matter to take part in any activity. My daughter is more athletically inclined than my son. My son is the one who will pull up a chair to bake or cook with me.
We felt that talking about having the hopes or a particular gender did not mean (at least for all of us talking!), that you were not grateful for your children, and I would not even say that in our case that it was wanting a boy or a girl. We found that having a child is at times about having the chance to relive part of your own childhood. The games, the toys, the clothes (well, sometimes the clothes…I don’t think my daughter is going to be wearing keds and scrunchies anytime soon!)…by seeing it on your child, you are having the chance to reminisce. We all knew that at the end of the day, we were so lucky and blessed with happy and healthy children – and regardless of what gender child we had, we would have the opportunity to share our past with them, and learn from their new interests.
Thinking back to Mrs. M, I realized, spending time with me, for her, was getting a chance at having a glimpse at having a daughter (probably a better glimpse, as she didn’t have to deal with me through the teen years…) – but she had the chance to enjoy the fun of a little girl. Fast forwarding to present day…Mrs. M now has 3 granddaughters of her own (and 2 grandsons), and I can tell from the pictures that she shares, those little girls are enjoying the baking, the dressing up, and all fantastic things girly!
Today’s post about how to use a pool noodle as a bedrail comes from my sister-in-law. I love getting tips from others, especially as I am a bit of a hot mess these days! If you have something you would like to pass on – feel free to email me!
So, my Sister in Law emailed me a couple of months ago asking what I did when my daughter jumped out of her crib. Although my daughter attempted this once, she never tried it again (I think it was the one time she scared the daylights out of herself), so I did not have much to offer. We put her in her double bed when we moved her to her big girl room, and put pillows on the floor to protect her if she fell out. Which also only happened once, and we just found her peacefully sleeping on the pillows!
This was completely not helpful, at all though, as my daredevil 1 1/2-year-old niece was attempting this activity several times over, and was starting to put herself at risk of injury. The biggest thing that my sister-in-law knew is that she had to do something, before they were running off to the ER with a broken bone in the middle of the night! She lives in a beach town, and was at one of the local shops where someone was buying pool noodles on sale, and saying that they were using it as a bed rail. She got some more information, and realized it was a great fix for her daughter as well…so picked up a noodle for a couple of dollars, and headed home.
She started using the pool noodle as the bedrail that evening, after transforming her daughters crib into the toddler bed. To do this she:
1. Wrapped the noodle in a towel
2. Placed it under the fitted bed sheet.
3. Make the bed as usual.
And that was itThis has worked out incredibly well for her daughter so far, because as her daughter can easily climb over it to get to bed at night, it prevents her from rolling out…in fact, she has not fallen out once. When she shared the idea with me, I wanted to pass it along.
A couple of months ago, I saw this recipe in the Food Network Magazine, for Baked Gnocchi with Chicken, and made it immediately. In short, it was phenomenal (with the simple addition of sun-dried tomatoes, it is beyond amazing). It is the kind of recipe that you think about a lot after, and know that you need to make it again. I was at the grocery store, trying to get inspired for dinner, and thought back to the recipe. I decided to try to mix up the recipe, and decided to make a variation of Baked Gnocchi with Chicken Apple Sausage, Squash, and Spinach. It was so delicious…my husband and I were fighting over who would get to enjoy the leftovers the next night
* This is not a freezer friendly recipe – but it is so darn delicious, I don’t think you will hold it against me!
Baked Gnocchi with Chicken Apple Sausage, Squash, and Spinach
Author: Mastering Mommy Brain
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1½ cups whole milk
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
½ cup white wine
1 lb chicken apple sausage, sliced, and cooked to warm through
2 cups of butternut squash, peeled, chopped, and steamed
2 17 .5-ounce package potato gnocchi
2 cups loosely packed baby spinach
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
Heat the olive oil in a deep ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking, 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk, wine, and chicken broth until smooth; simmer, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
Add the chicken apple sausage, butternut squash, gnocchi and spinach to the sauce and stir until coated and the spinach wilts. Sprinkle with the parmesan, transfer the skillet to the oven (preheated to 350 degrees) and bake until bubbling, about 20 minutes. Turn on the broiler; broil until lightly browned on top, about 3 more minutes.
I would love to hear what you think if you try this recipe!
My best friend is not much of a chef. In college, I would cook us meals in our apartment, and when it was her turn to make dinner, we would be heading out to eat, or, we would be eating Pirate’s Booty and M&Ms with some Boone’s Farms (add that to the list of things my kids can’t know…at one time, Mommy said Pirates Booty and M&Ms constituted “dinner”). Although she still prefers takeout or dining out, she passed along this recipe to me for tortellini soup, which has become her “signature dish.” With the past information, you can assume, it is an easy one! We have been on a complete soup kick this winter. I have a ton of single and double portion size soups frozen, ready for an easy weekend lunch, or weeknight dinner. Many of our soups are chicken or veggie based, so love that this one has sausage, and the tortellini makes it hearty.
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