A Night Out with Amelie on Broadway

AmelieBway1164r.jpg (Photo credit: JOAN MARCUS). When I was a little girl, I dreamt of performing on Broadway. In fact, I’d spend most of my time singing in front of my mirror daydreaming about where my life would lead and all the exciting things I was going to do on the road to stardom.
Fast forward to today and I’m now a wife, mother and business owner and while I never did make my Broadway debut, I recently got to daydream again when I slipped away to a show that brought me right back to where it all began for me. And that’s where Amelie on Broadway comes in…
While I watched the story unfold in this new musical, I found myself thinking about my eight year old self again who dreamed that anything was possible. And that’s what little Amelie does when we meet her. While her parents are ridiculously over protective – forcing her to be home schooled because they’re afraid something bad will happen to her, we realize instantly the dangerous effect that helicopter parenting can have on a child. While her mom passes away when she’s still a young girl, Amelie thrives in her dream world but seems fearful of ever taking a chance and daring to live her life fully.
We then see Amelie as a young adult who works in a cafe and returns home where she continues to daydream until a tragedy convinces her to finally act on her dreams, go out into the city and make the world a better place one good deed at a time. Of course, this journey leads her to finally discover love but the only thing that holds her back is her fear of taking chances.
Amelie is played by the incredibly talented Phillipa Soo who most recently appeared in “Hamilton.” Soo is perfect for the role of the flighty young woman who is hoping her good deeds will make the world a better place. Listening to her sing is like watching a champion figure skater – you know she’s going to nail every note and her performances are simply flawless. I also really loved Savvy Crawford who portrays Amelie as a young girl. While this was her first role on Broadway, I’m sure we’ll be seeing Savvy for many years to come!
I think this charming musical is perfect for mothers and daughters or a girls night out like I did with one of my closest friends. If you’re like me and still find yourself daydreaming about what you’d love to do with your life, then Amelie is a perfect way to spend an evening or a matinee.
To find out more about Amelie on Broadway or to purchase tickets, visit their website.

Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets to see Amelie on Broadway. However all opinions are 100% my own.

Tissue Alert: “Gifted” will make you laugh, cry and want to hug your cat

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet the cast of “Gifted,” which stars Chris Evans, Jenny Slate, Octavia Spencer and McKenna Grace. After attending a private screening of “Gifted,” I really enjoyed the film’s powerful message conveyed about letting a brilliant young girl enjoy her childhood. While I’m already a huge fan of Octavia Spencer and enjoyed Chris Evans and Jenny Slate’s performances in the film, I was absolutely blown away by the film’s youngest star, McKenna Grace.
“Gifted” is a story about Frank Adler (Chris Evans), a single man raising a child prodigy – his spirited young niece Mary (Mckenna Grace) – in a coastal town in Florida. Frank’s plans for a normal school life for Mary are foiled when the seven-year-old’s mathematical abilities come to the attention of Frank’s formidable mother Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan) whose plans for her granddaughter threaten to separate Frank and Mary. Octavia Spencer plays Roberta, Frank and Mary’s landlady and best friend. Jenny Slate is Mary’s teacher, Bonnie, a young woman whose concern for her student develops into a connection with her uncle as well.
Take a look…

“Gifted” has every element of a film that you will love. It’s funny. It’s smart. It’s heartbreaking. And best of all, it stars a young actress named McKenna Grace who is one of the most talented actors I have seen in a film in long time. Trust me, at the end of this film, McKenna Grace will leave you in a puddle of tears with her powerful performance as Mary – a child prodigy who just wants to be a regular kid. In fact, during the screening I attended, I could hear people sobbing in the theater.
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Now here’s the best part about McKenna. After attending a junket in Los Angeles, I found out she is so genuine, so sweet and so funny. When asked how she tackled the emotional scenes in the film, McKenna shared how she sat in a quiet place and thought of really sad things that have happened to her. The fact that her tears are so real and so powerful convinced me that this little girl is an old soul who has a future ahead of her that is so incredibly bright. Take a look…

“Gifted” opens in select theaters on April 7 and will premiere nationwide on April 12. To find out more about the film, visit their website, Gifted Movie. You can follow the film on Twitter at @GiftedtheMovie and Instagram at @GiftedMovie.

Listen in to Our Latest Episode of 52 Weeks!

We’re back again this week tackling our favorite topic — diet and weight loss! This time, we’re interviewing Ryan Frankel and his wife Erika. Together, the pair, who have already been featured on Shark Tank have launched their latest venture — Eduplated, an online resource for those of us searching for a sensible way to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Listen in and then sign up for Eduplated to give it a try!

Renee Zellweger Shines Again in Bridget Jones Baby

BJB_Adv1Sheet.jpgIf anyone knows me well, then you know that I’m a sap for classic movies. Not Gone with the Wind kind of classic, but more like St. Elmo’s Fire and Bridget Jones Diary classic. So imagine my thrill when I received an invitation a few weeks back to attend the star studded premiere of the latest installment of that hilarious film franchise with the release of “Bridget Jones Baby” which opens today in theaters nationwide.
If you don’t know what your plans are for tonight or the weekend, trust me when I tell you to go see this movie. It’s been a pretty long time that I found myself laughing out loud during a film while I reconnected with my long lost film girlfriend Bridget Jones.
This time around, single Bridget played by the incredibly adorable, sweet and kind film actress Renee Zellweger is still single, over 40 and not expecting to settle down any time soon. It appears the two great loves of her life Will and Darcy have moved on…both under very different circumstances and Bridget, who has risen to the top of her career as a news producer, is tired of feeling sorry for herself and ready to live life recklessly for her 43rd birthday. After a weekend getaway with her girlfriend, she meets Tom (that would be McDreamy or Patrick Dempsey to you) and they instantly make a connection that links them together throughout the film. Meanwhile, Bridget keeps running into Darcy at several milestone events and manages to fall into his arms yet again.
Unbeknownst to Bridget, her one night flings with two different men changes her life forever when she finds out she’s pregnant but has no idea who the father is. And that is all that I will tell you about the film for now. Here’s a sneak peak…

What I can also share are some behind the scenes tidbits that were flat out priceless. Let’s start with the premiere. While I knew the stars of the film were going to be appearing on the red carpet and potentially sitting with us in the theater, I had no idea they would be introduced on stage while I was sitting in the 4th row. That means I had an incredible vantage point to snap some unforgettable pix of Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey and Renee Zellweger. Of course, after I shared the photos on Facebook, I never heard the end of it from my daughter who has now instructed me that if I ever get invited to another event with McDreamy or Rob Lowe, she is the only person who can come with me as my guest. But I digress…
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Back to Bridget Jones. The day after I was still floating on a cloud for having an IRL glimpse of my lifelong heartthrob Patrick Dempsey (no offense to my husband of course), I got the chance to join a group of some of my favorite parenting bloggers for a roundtable chat with Renee Zellweger and the director of the film Sharon McGuire. Incidentally, Sharon wore an absolutely stunning floral beaded dress the night of the premiere. McGuire is so funny and so real – especially when she talked about the nerves that set in when she wondered how the audience would react to the film. When everyone in the theater starting laughing out loud, she said her heart was beating out of her chest. I seriously love this woman. Can’t you tell?
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CC24_D013_00418R_CROP.JPGMeanwhile, when Renee was asked what if felt like to revisit the role she’s best known and best loved for all these years, she recalled, “When they sent the script, it felt like this fantastically happy reunion, and it’s reminded me how much I love her. I love her friends and her parents and her world, and then, I got really terrified because I thought, “Oh God. I really–I don’t want to mess this up” because, I mean, I know that like–like myself, you know, who, when I discovered her in the books, like so many other people, you know, we fell in love with her. We have affection for her, and, you know, she holds a lot of meaning for us. And so, yeah. I just–I didn’t want to–I didn’t want to disappoint anybody.”
While the dialogue in the film is incredibly smart, quick-witted with amazing British humor thrown in for good measure, the physical comedy was absolutely over the top. I asked Renee if she improvised all those pratfalls Bridget got herself into and here’s what she had to say:
“It’s my favorite thing. It’s my favorite kind of comedy.” She adds the fact that Bridget is pregnant in this edition, adds to the physical comedy of the role. ” I love comedy that comes from truth….I love comedy that comes from awkward sort of human experiences. I mean, there’s nothing funnier, and we all relate to them because we go, “Oh my gosh. Thank God that’s not me. Wait. That really could be me. Oh gosh. You know what? That is me.”
She adds, “And I think that that’s why she’s such a beloved character because we recognize ourselves in her struggles and not just her challenges she faces in her life, but in her, you know, the–her struggles toward self-acceptance. She sort of represents the truth of who we are versus who it is that we aspire to be. And when you add the element of physical awkwardness to that, it’s just my favorite thing. Exploring how absurd you can make it and still remain truthful is so much fun.”
Bridget Jones Baby opens nationwide in theaters today. So what are you waiting for? Plan your Girls Night Out at the movies. Get tickets now!
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10 Reasons Why My Mom Reminds Me of Hillary Clinton

I had an epiphany last night while watching Chelsea Clinton deliver a heartfelt introductory speech about her mom, Hillary Rodham Clinton. As the child of a working mother who took on various roles in her career since the time I was five until adulthood, I started to think about Chelsea’s personal stories about her mother and how they seemed to parallel my experiences with my own mom. While my mom never logged close to a million miles as Secretary of State, she did accomplish some amazing things in her career as an educator. If you’re the daughter of a working mom, I bet you’ll see some similarities too. For now, here’s mine…
10 REASONS WHY I SEE MY MOM IN HILLARY CLINTON
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1. THEY BOTH WROTE US NOTES
My mom used to write notes for me every day and put them in my lunch bag. She used to start each one: To My Favorite Daughter (I’m her only daughter).
Hillary used to write notes to Chelsea every time she went out of town and dated each of them so that she had a note to read for as long as her mom was away.
2. THEY BOTH HAVE THE SAME HAIRSTYLE
For as long as I can remember, my mom has always had a short haircut and wears it pretty much like Hillary. She’s not a blonde though — except when she gets highlights!
3. THEIR HUSBANDS ARE GREAT TALKERS
While my mom has always been the person who can get any job done, she’s also kind of shy and doesn’t really like speaking in front of crowds. That’s because my dad has been the one who is always larger than life. He still performs to this day with his theater troupe in Florida and is an amazing speaker. Mom on the other hand works behind the scenes (she’s the wardrobe dresser for my dad’s show). But the one thing about my mom is that while she doesn’t like to be the center of attention, her reputation and work ethic is second to none.
4. THEY HAVE BOTH LOST BIG JOBS AFTER A HARD FOUGHT CAMPAIGN
While my mom didn’t run for President, she did run for Superintendent of her school district. Sadly, she didn’t get the job because the heavily political school board decided to select someone else who wasn’t as qualified but promised to do the things they wanted throughout the school year.
5. THEY ARE AMAZING PROBLEM SOLVERS
Back when my mom was at the top of her game, you could throw anything at her and she’d get the job done. When I was growing up, my mom always seemed to continually be promoted on the job – she was the person people looked to for answers and guidance and became one of the most well respected educators in her school district.
6. THEY DON’T HAVE TIME FOR B.S.
Throughout my mom’s life, she was always known as a super nice person and sometimes people took advantage of her good nature. As she got older, she got stronger and oftentimes if someone pissed her off, she took them to task for it or froze them out for a long time. The ones who were frozen out of her life truly regretted it and oftentimes came back apologizing for being so stupid. That’s the thing about pissing off a good person. They may forgive you, but they never forget.
7. THEY HAVE DAUGHTERS WHO GREW UP THINKING ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE
While Chelsea is now a mom of two and is overseeing the Clinton Foundation, I am a mom of two overseeing a PR and social media business. I’m also married to a guy who had a career in finance (hedge funds to be exact) but left to pursue his love of kids sports. You never know, Chelsea’s hubby could ditch the hedge fund trade one day too to pursue a passion he had as a kid. Either way, our values completely align when it comes to valuing the importance of helping working moms balance their home life with their careers.

8. THEY HAVE BEEN MARRIED FOR A VERY VERY LONG TIME

Luckily, my mom hasn’t had to deal with a husband who has made many mistakes with women over the years. The only women my dad plays with are the ones on the tennis court. Other than that, he’s been a one woman man for over 54 years. Sure my mom and dad fight a lot but at the heart of it, they are each other’s cheerleaders and are both so proud of one other when they both achieve great things in their lives both personally and professionally.
9. THEY ARE BOTH THE PRODUCT OF STRONG MOTHERS
Hillary’s mom was abandoned at a young age and started working at 14 years old. My grandmother came from a very large family and oftentimes became the caregiver to her younger siblings. Like Dorothy Rodham, my grandmother was fearless — she chased mice from our summer house in the Poconos and even bludgeoned a fish to death that I had caught from a nearby lake. Grandma also stressed the importance of getting a job to help support your family. And she made a mean matzoh ball soup but I guess that’s where the similarities fade. 🙂
10. THEY BOTH GAVE COMMENCEMENT SPEECHES AT THEIR SCHOOLS
While Hillary gave a commencement address at Wellesley, my mom was the valedictorian of her senior class who gave the commencement address at Thomas Jefferson High School before she went on to pursue a degree in education at Brooklyn College. The funny thing is, my mom actually wanted to become a lawyer but went into education because at the time, that’s what most young women did. Something tells me that had she pursued the law, she would have been a kick ass attorney.
At the heart of it, as the daughter of a working mom, I am so proud of everything my mom accomplished in her career and am sure that Chelsea felt the same way last night as she spoke about Hillary’s passion for service and for making the world a better place for our sons, daughters and grandchildren.
You see, you really can have it all. You can even raise daughters who look up to you and inspire their own children to pursue their dreams.

Opa! It’s Time for My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2!

MBFGW2-Poster.jpgThere are some movies that I can literally watch over and over again and honestly, it never gets old. “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” is one of those films. From the first moment I saw it, to the time my son figured out how to do a dead pan impression of the “bi-bopsy” scene from the original film, there is something truly special about this movie that has struck a chord with my family. So much so that last year, at my son’s Movie Themed Bar Mitzvah, we even had a table for our Greek cousins with the “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” Poster as a centerpiece!
So imagine my thrill and anticipation when I was invited to attend a screening of the film’s sequel, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” and the chance to meet the cast at a press junket in New York City!
While I can’t give away any spoilers from the film which opens nationwide on March 25 — and trust me, there are a lot of them — I am here to tell you that the sequel is fantastic. It will have you laughing out loud, shedding tears and smiling from ear to ear as you get to see the incredibly hilarious Portokalos family back together again.
“My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2,” is the long-awaited follow-up to the highest-grossing romantic comedy of all time. Written by Academy Award nominee Nia Vardalos, who stars alongside the entire returning cast of favorites, the film reveals a Portokalos family secret that will bring the beloved characters back together for an even bigger and Greeker wedding. Take a look at the trailer…

How Elena Kampouris Landed the Role of a Lifetime…
MBFGW2-Elena1.jpgAt the press junket, we met teen actress Elena Kampouris, who plays Nia Vardolos’ and John Corbett’s daughter in the film. We learned that Elena is in fact half Greek and half French American and she shared the amazing story behind how she landed the part:
Elena: It’s really a funny story. It’s a very interesting process, because when I got the audition it went to my mom’s email and I saw it and it was a jaw dropping moment. I was like, “What, they’re making a sequel after all these years, too?” It was the last thing I was expecting. So I was freaking out, but I’m like–there’s a part of me, my stomach kind of dropped because I’m like, whenever I tell people I’m Greek, nobody ever believes me.
So I thought, I don’t really have high chances for this, and also, if I don’t get the role, which is likely, if I ever see the movie, it’s going to taint the way that I see the film, a film that’s so beloved to me because it’s like, that could have been me.
So there was a lot of pressure, and I didn’t want to tell my father about it because he’s the Greek father who is very proud and he raised me playing that movie over and over telling me, “This is the finest film in all of filmmaking history. This is the movie. You should be in this movie. You’d be perfect for this movie.” He actually said that I would be perfect to be in this movie when I was little, so it’s like jeez, the pressure’s on, right?
So when that came in, I’m like, “I can’t tell him. Mom, don’t tell him.” Of course, he’s a Greek. He finds out and he’s like, “Elena, call them. Tell them you will do the movie.” I said, “Okay, so it doesn’t work like that. There’s a process.” He says, “You’re Greek. You can do the movie. You’re Greek. Tell them you’re Greek and they’ll let you do the movie.”
I’m like, “There’s a process here. If I’m lucky. Five, six callbacks. Maybe then I will have the privilege of auditioning for Nia in person. But he didn’t understand it. He’s just like, “You’re Greek. You should be able to do it.” And I’m like, “Yes, well I’m not even a convincing Greek.” So for some reason, I did tape for it.
I ended up being called back and I did a chemistry read with Alex Wolff who plays Bennett in the movie, who I love…after that chemistry read, we were flown into Toronto for the day. We flew in in the morning and we went in to meet Nia, Kirk [Jones, Director], Gary [Goetzman, Producer] and all the producers. And it was like, we had the plane ride together so we got to know each other, which really helped.
But once we were in the room, we did our thing, we were asked to leave and wait in the waiting room. They called us back in. Nia sat down. She was in the middle, I was here, he was here. She’s like, “Okay, guys. We’re going to do some improv together.” And I’m like, “Wow, I hope this is a good sign.” And so we’re about to get started and she’s like, “You know what? I’m just kidding. You guys got the roles.”
I started bawling my eyes out, and of course I’m Greek. We’re very expressive, animated people. I couldn’t help myself. I’m bawling and it’s really embarrassing. There’s snot and it’s not pretty and I’m trying to keep myself together here and they’re just standing there. I’m in awe of Nia because she’s such a presence.
And so by some miracle, it worked out. And we had the best plane ride back home ever. Alex and I were celebrating, because if you could imagine if it didn’t go well, that would have been one long plane ride back home. That would have been like an eternity. So it was very magical, that experience. And before we actually flew back home from Toronto, they actually sent us straight from the casting office to our fittings.
So to get the news and then to go straight to the fitting and get our costumes for our characters was like, surreal. Surreal.
Andrea Martin and Joey Fatone…
MBFGW2-JoeyFatoneAndreaMartin.JPGThe moment Andrea Martin walked into the room, she had everyone in stitches. As she looked out the window of the Mandarin Oriental and saw the incredible skyline, she instantly burst into song. Eventually, she and co-star Joey Fatone took their seats and shared how much they loved reprising their roles and reuniting with their fellow cast members.
Joey Fatone: “I think keeping the magic, in a sense, was of course a huge part of Nia. Because obviously being the writer and learning from experiences, of course, her having a child now. Back then when she didn’t have a child and she couldn’t really write from it, because I think she didn’t have experience from it. So here doing that I think now, and letting it settle in after 14, 15 years later, it has definitely been a treat to see the things that happened.”
Andrea Martin: For all of us, I think, the movie’s been kept very alive in the last 14 years, because it was so successful. People have a great love for the film. So over the years, people have come up to me and say, “Do a little bit.” “What do you mean you don’t eat no meat?” In fact, all the time. I’m doing a play right now at the Roundabout and people–
I’m going to go from Greek to a Cockney accent. Anyway, and so I’ll finish the two-and-a-half hours of this play and then they’ll say, “What do you mean you don’t eat no meat?” It’s like, all right. Have I done anything else? So it’s felt like it’s been very alive and so in that way, actually, the first day didn’t seem like 14 years had passed. It really felt like yesterday. And we knew each other. It wasn’t like a new cast, so it was just great familiarity and great affection for one another.
Nia Vardolos shares how the story for the sequel was born…
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Nia Vardolos: I had written at the end of the first movie that Toula and Ian were parents. And in reality, the struggle to become a parent was real for me. It was very long and then I did become a mom. Happy ending. And on my daughter’s first day of Kindergarten, I was crying so hard and so loud that other moms were backing away from me. And somebody said, “Hey, come on. In 13 years, they’re going to go off to college. What’s the big deal?” And I went, “What?” And that’s the moment that I realized I might have had the idea for the sequel and I went away and started writing that day.
John Corbett shares how the cast was able to recreate movie magic…thanks to Nia…
John Corbett: How do you recreate some sort of magic that happened on a few million-dollar movie that may or may not see the light of day 15 years ago? When we made the first one, the World Trade Towers were still standing. That’s how long ago it was. Now to come back and try to recreate that is not something that was in my hands at all. It was mostly in hers by putting pencil to paper, and then this guy making those moments happen. So I’m the wrong guy to be answering that. But I think, having seen the second movie, that it happened. Somehow, that magic happened twice, because this movie does it for me.
Vardolos reflects on the feedback she received over the years from fans of the first film…
Nia Vardolos: I think that people go through real tragedies and we have had the benefit of getting letters all these years from people who have told us about their lives. So what I went through in my quest to be a mom does not compare, in any way. But in the quiet time that I took to reflect on it, it made me a better person.
I’m so grateful that I didn’t have a biological child, because my daughter, meeting my daughter, she was almost three living in American foster care, all that happened led me to my real daughter. So in the same way, I am so grateful that the idea for the sequel and the desire to do the sequel did not come to me. Because what I went through informed my writing and let me go deeper with this next one.
And we weren’t afraid of that. We weren’t afraid to show what a real marriage can be like and we weren’t afraid to show that this family has aged, and that’s okay. They all look like they’ve been dipped in pickle juice. But families go through things, and Kirk wasn’t afraid to show that and create a very safe environment on set.
“Try is this way,” you would say. “Try it this way, try it this way.” And the cast, because they’re so comfortable in their characters, they would try it different ways.

Director Kirk Jones shares why My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 will appeal to audiences…

Kirk Jones: I think everyone at this table is a huge fan of making movies which make people feel good, make them laugh, make them cry again. And the dark stuff is out there, and we all enjoy watching that now and again, but there’s absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t invest our time in making movies which makes people feel good and touch on human subjects, which is what Nia does when she comments on families. And that’s what everyone wants to see, as well as all the other stuff.
If you are as big a fan of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” as my family, then don’t miss the sequel when it premieres in theaters nationwide on March 25! Follow all the excitement on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/MyBigFatGreekWeddingMovie, @MyBigFatGreekWeddingMovie, Instagram (@MBFGreekWedding), and Twitter (@MBFGreekWedding).

That Time I Got Invited to the White House

If anyone would have ever told me back in 2005 when I started Role Mommy that my mission to inspiring parents to pursue their passion while raising a family would have eventually led to me attending an event at the White House, I would have told them they were nuts. But that was then, when I was still climbing the ladder at a corporate job with two little kids in tow.
Fast forward 11 years and I just experienced the best day ever as a blogger. Thanks to Cafe Mom and The Stir, I was invited to attend a very special event at the White House where about 150 parenting bloggers would get to learn more about the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” initiative.
When we arrived, we were whisked through security and the process was pretty organized and simple. In a matter of minutes we were on the grounds of the White House and were able to roam freely – especially when one security guard told us – “you don’t fit the profile for terrorists.” He’s got that right!
We were all practically giddy walking up that hill to the White House and were even more amazed when we walked inside and were encouraged to visit all the rooms (no – we couldn’t check out the Lincoln Bedroom but we did see a lot!). I remember visiting the White House as a kid but when the rooms were all roped off when I was there. But under the Obama Administration, you can walk into a room and even sit down and take photo right under a painting of Jackie Kennedy.
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Before we knew it, we were invited into a room filled with round tables and we all took our seats in nervous anticipation as the event started. The morning started with an introduction by Deb Eschmeyer, the Executive Director of the Let’s Move campaign who talked about the impact Let’s Move has made to combat childhood obesity and educate kids and families about the importance of healthy eating and exercise.
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Since the Let’s Move campaign was introduced, over 80 million people in this country now live in a LetsMove city, town or county.
The mission of Let’s Move is to get to a place where everyone in communities across our nation has access to healthy lifestyle options.
Former Olympian Dominique Dawes
Throughout the event, we were introduced to so many inspiring women who play an integral role in the Let’s Move campaign. Former Olympian Dominique Dawes who is now a mom of two and the co-chair of the Fitness Council for Let’s Move, shared her personal story of how she realized the importance of finding time for herself when she became a mom. While nutrition is important to staying healthy and fit, it’s just as important to take time out of your day to exercise.
Dawes is also involved in Lets Move at school, an initiative to encourage kids to be active. “If we teach kids these healthy habits when they are young, they will continue these habits throughout their lives.”
Every Kid in a Park Initiative
From schools we hit the parks and learned that starting this year, 4th graders who visit our national parks with their families will be given the opportunity to visit for free! That means if you are traveling to the Grand Canyon or Acadia Naitonal Park or anywhere in between, if you’ve got a fourth grader in your car, you will get free admission!
You can download your pass at www.everykidinapark.gov .
The goal behind the every kid in a park initiative is to get everyone out to explore.
Community Gardens
Another incredible accomplishment of the Let’s Move Campaign are the amazing community gardens that have been created as a result of their efforts. From faith based communities to schools, kids and adults are coming together to plant seeds and grow vegetable gardens – teaching children about where food comes from and empowering them to become a part of the healthy eating movement.
On the Let’s Move website, you can find out more about how to start your own community garden and shares the following news:
The USDA has grant funds available to help parents create and start a farm to school program.
Technical assistance materials available – Let’s Move has spent the last seven years creating resources that schools can take advantage of.
Let’s Move wants to champion success – there are little girls like this all over the country — that are super psyched about the gardens — kale that they grew is on on the salad bar. When we share stories it inspires others.
Let’s Move is also running the “One in Melon Award” — accepting nominations now through April 15 — to showcase schools in our nation that have exemplary food to farm programs.
Choose My Plate
Growing up, we were conditioned to know about the Food Pyramid that was released by the USDA and told us how many proteins, breads, fruits and vegetables we should eat each today. Today, the pyramid has been replaced by the Healthy Plate. Some initiatives currently taking place to celebrate communities embracing this new model include:
Healthy Lifestyle Challenge — kids 8-12
1. My Plate My State — If you have a child in your home who loves to cook or develop recipes, then you might want to enter them into a contest where kids are encourage to submit recipes — one winner from every state will attend a Kids State Dinner at the White House! The goal is to showcase locally grown foods, from your state or region.

2. My Plate My Wins Challenge – show people you can make simple small changes on a day to day basis — 2+2+2 – try two foods from every food groups and 2 kinds of physical activity for 2 days. Over those 2 days you record your progress and that information lives in the Let’s Move super tracker. You can even form a team and compete with each other and add a little fun.
Finally, celebrities are also lending their names to the Let’s Move campaign, recording inspiring and hilarious videos and sharing them via social media. Follow the hashtag
#TeamMFNV to follow along with your favorite stars.
More to come in my next post…including details on Michelle Obama and the personal story in her life that led her to tackle childhood obesity with the Let’s Move campaign.

Jeff Probst Shares the Inside Scoop on Survivor!

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As a mom of two kids who are growing up way too fast, there’s one thing that always brings us together…our favorite TV shows. So this week, when I got the chance to bring my son and his friend to a private screening and live streaming event for the 32nd season of Survivor, I have to say, I didn’t know quite what to expect. You see, my son’s friend is a die-hard Survivor fan so he was super excited to join us for this special event and couldn’t wait to ask host Jeff Probst and some of the former Survivors a few insider questions about the show. Dylan on the other hand, hadn’t seen the show before so this was going to be the first time he had ever experienced a screening and live celebrity event and I couldn’t wait to see his reaction.
This season, castaways embark on the most grueling 39 days in Survivor history and test whether brute strength, looks or smarts will be the attribute that helps capture the title of Sole Survivor. Also, one castaway deals with excruciating pain when a bug gets stuck in their ear — trust me that is truly creepy – on SURVIVOR, when the Emmy Award-winning series returns for its 32nd season with a special 90-minute premiere, Wednesday, Feb. 17 (8:00-9:30 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
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During the event, host Jeff Probst shared details about his favorite season of Survivor along with a behind the scenes look at how the production team lives while the castaways are trying to survive. Plus, former Survivors, Parvati Shallow and Stephen Fishbach shared their insight on what it takes to outlast the competition and in Parvati’s case…win it all.
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The best part about the event was the fact that so many kids got in on the Q&A session, lining up one by one to ask questions about the show. Probst was thrilled to chat with everyone and stuck around to take photos and sign autographs for his fans.
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Probst also shared that Survivor is a great show for families to watch – not only for the action and the competition, but for the important issues that are tackled as well like bullying.
Check out the live stream from the event…

I was so proud of my son’s friend Spencer who asked two questions during the event and couldn’t have been nicer after I dropped him off at home – thanking me profusely for taking him to the event. I still couldn’t get a read on my son until tonight when we talked about what we were going to watch on TV. Even though we had already seen part of the season premiere, we have no idea who gets kicked off the show in the first episode. As soon as I walked in the door from work, he told me we needed to watch the show so we could see who gets eliminated.
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Looks like we’ve got a date on the couch every Wednesday night for Survivor. And trust me, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Survivor airs on Wednesday nights at 8pm ET/PT on the CBS Television Network.
If you’d like to follow Survivor this season and get in on the action, make sure you use the hashtags and handles below!
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Survivor
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/Survivor_Tweet
CBS Twitter: @CBSTweet
Instagram: @OfficialSurvivor_CBS
#Survivor #BrainsBrawnBeauty