10 Things to Do In Bar Harbor Maine

One of my all time favorite vacations with my family took place in Bar Harbor Maine. Thanks to my friend Jennie Baird, I was armed and ready with her family’s favorite things to do in Bar Harbor and I have to say, Jennie was right on the money. So this list includes a few of Jennie’s picks sprinkled in with our fave finds. Take a look…
IMG_0554.jpg1. Watching the sunset on Cadillac Mountain. One of the most amazing places I have ever seen is Cadillac Mountain, located high atop a summit in Acadia National Park. The views are incredible and the kids had fun climbing the rocks as we looked out over the water and watched the sun go down over the mountains. One suggestion – dress warm! Once the sun disappears, the temperature drops at least 15 degrees.
2. Diver Ed’s Dive in Theater – This made Jennie’s kids’ must see list and it tops ours too. If your family is in the mood for entertainment, then get ready for Ed – a diver/commercial scallop fisherman who appears to be a cross between Jim Belushi and Zach Galifianakis (“The Hangover”). Diver Ed, his incredibly knowledgeable and witty wife, mini Ed (a tiny action figure who takes a beating from sea creatures), Evil Ed (I believe a guy with a beard who was perched at the back of the boat), his nephew and two New Foundland dogs who demonstrate how to properly wear a life vest, offer an action packed underwater tour for passengers. No worries – you and your kids don’t participate in the dive (the water is way too cold), but Diver Ed jumps in three times a day along with a hi-tech video camera that he uses to captures the activity 25 feet below the sea and a bag that he uses to catch a few creatures that he brings back on board so that the kids can touch, carry and play. The only request – don’t squeeze the animals! The tour lasts two hours and it’s well worth the trip – even in the rain!
IMG_0621.jpg3. Jordan Pond Nature Trails & the Jordan Pond House – If you’re up for a hike that’s not too strenuous and ends in tea with popovers overlooking Jordan Pond, then this is the excursion for you. Jordan Pond Restaurant can get pretty busy so be prepared to wait or if you’re impatient like us, buy a Popover mix (or chilled whoopie pies) in the gift shop and make them when you get home. The trail we took led us along the pond – giving us ample time to take frequent breaks where the kids sat on the rocks and my daughter accidentally stepped in the water with one of her converse sneakers – not a particularly fun moment for her but she survived. The views from the base of the pond were gorgeous – we captured several shots of Bubble Mountain. We called it something else though – take a guess…
IMG_0571.jpg4. Listen to the Waves at Thunder Hole – Another must see in Acadia National Park – where the water crashes into rocks made of granite and the sound that erupts bears a striking resemblance to thunder – hence the name. There are also places to climb although if you have a fear of heights, I’d say opt for the Jordan Pond excursion and hold onto the railing at Thunder Hole while you watch the waves.
IMG_0591.JPG5. Take a Walk to Bar Island During Low Tide – This was totally cool – in the morning, the entire area is covered in water and by late afternoon, the sand bar is exposed so that cars can drive and pedestrians and dogs can walk across to Bar Island. The kids can cruise for shells and crabs while you take a lazy walk along the beach. But make sure you head back before the tide rolls back in or else you’ll be swimming back to your hotel!
IMG_0570.jpg6. Whale & Puffin Watch, Nature Cruise or Lobster and Seal Watch – The Whale Watch takes the longest and fills up first and can also be tough for people with weak stomachs so I suggest the Lobster fishing and Seal Watching excursion that only lasts 90 minutes. Your kids will get the chance to touch sea creatures (like Diver Ed’s adventure but not as funny) and you can get some great photos of seals. And they don’t go too far out to sea, so the ride is pretty smooth.
7. Best Breakfast – Michelle’s Bistro – There are a few breakfast joints in Bar Har including Jeannie’s (there’s always a wait) and Testa’s, but don’t believe the hype or long lines. Our favorite by far was Michelle’s Bistro – located in an Inn near some cute shops (my fave was the store that was full of Suncatchers). We sat out back on a deck, enjoyed blueberry pancakes, omelets, french toast and more and the service was fabulous. And the kids loved Rosie – the proprietor’s friendly and fluffy dog.
IMG_0564.JPG8. Best food and fun for Adults & Kids – Geddy’s – It took a few tries to get into Geddy’s but once we did, we understood why there’s always a wait. They have tons of lobsters, towers of nachos, fried seafood galore and friendly waiters who take your picture and put it on their website. Plus, the kids placemats rock. Trust me when I tell you they’ll be coloring throughout dinner and once they’re done, they can present their finished product to the gift shop and win a prize (some beads and tchotchkes from a treasure chest). We also loved Geddy’s Down Under – the gift shop where the kids picked up cool sweat shirts and my husband bought a rain coat for a steal (less than $30).
IMG_0633.JPG9. Blueberry Mojitos at the Harborside – This summer, it’s been all about blueberries and since Maine is known for them, I decided to try out all the alcoholic beverages featuring this incredibly healthy fruit – hello acai berries! While Stewman’s Lobster Pound offers a blueberry martini (which I tried), the best blueberry beverage on the island goes to the Harborside which offers blueberry mojitos by the pool – in two words: muy delicioso!
IMG_0601.jpg10. Best Ice Cream – Ben & Bills – Within 24 hours of arriving in Bar Harbor, we discovered Ben & Bills – where they make their own ice cream and fudge and the line loops out the door every single night. In fact, they even sell lobster ice cream – which we tried – the kids didn’t care for it much but instead, opted for the chocolate tsunami (chocolate, marshmallow, oreos and more) and I went for the sugar free blueberry ice cream. Just be prepared – while you’re deciding what to order, the scoopers are constantly shuffling you down the line – it can get a bit off-putting when you’re trying to make a decision but I guess that’s how they keep the patrons coming in fast and furious. I discovered while we were there that USA Today just selected Ben & Bill’s as the best ice cream parlor in Maine and as a dessert afficionado, I knew my senses were right on target!
A few more picks include Stewman’s Lobster Pound which was visited by the Obama’s this summer (they’ve got a sign to prove it), the amazing Italian restaurant at the Harborside where you get to create your own pasta dish and the Bar Harbor Club where we received a host of spa treatments – from a facial, to massage, a dip in the jacuzzi and a manicure.
Have you been to Maine? If so, share your top picks and stories!

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.
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.


I’ve been to California over a dozen times and most of my visits have included stops at memorable sites like the Hollywood Sign, Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Dodger stadium, Universal Studios and the Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum. But I never thought that I could actually pursue one of my favorite past times in Southern California too…wine tasting!
Little did I know that a beautiful drive up the Pacific Coast Highway would take me to one of the most beautiful wineries I’ve ever seen in my life – and trust me, as a wine lover, I have seen a lot of vineyards but nothing comes close to this one. I first found out about the Malibu Wine Safari through the Los Angeles Tourism Bureau and have to say that the moment I checked out their website, I was hooked. I mean, who wouldn’t love going on an outdoor adventure that included some light hiking, the chance to meet famous animals, and sampling wine and cheese along the way amidst a backdrop that was absolutely majestic.
If you’re looking for something fun to do with your family, your spouse or your girlfriends, then the Malibu Wine Safari is a great option. You can ride in an open top jeep where you’ll come nose to nose with a famous giraffe named Stanley who is happy to mug for the cameras as long as you keep feeding him lettuce. Stanley is a six year old giraffe who probably has an IMDB page since he’s appeared in films like the “Hangover 3” and several television commercials from Verizon to Doritos to name a few.
The 1000 acre property was purchased in the 1970’s by Ron and Lisa Semler who have since transformed it into a gorgeous vineyard complete with unforgettable views, an ancient Indian cave, animals, a road lined with classic trailers, an amazing setting for wedding receptions, events, parties, reunions, farm to table dinners and there’s even a four bedroom ranch on the property that you can rent via airbnb!
Another amazing part of our adventure included the opportunity to try Mailbu wines along the trail. And the wine was so delicious – from a sweet Rose to a variety of whites and reds — I picked the Malbec and then shared it with my travel companions at dinner that night.
If you plan to visit the Malibu winery, make sure you do it during the week – kids under 21 are only allowed on the family safari weekdays and kids need to be 7+ and with their parents. Additionally, private safaris are available too. For more information visit the Malibu Wine Safari website and definitely add it to your LA sightseeing plans!

Ellie Krieger Talks about the Importance of Gut Health #RenewLifeProbiotics

Screen Shot 2016-12-15 at 12.21.26 PM.pngWhen I think about the one thing that can stop me from cruising along with my busy life, it’s definitely gastrointestinal pain. While I don’t talk about it among friends or strangers, I typically haven’t had too many issues when it comes to my gut. But when I do, I pretty much dread that feeling where all you do is pray the pain will stop and you vow never to eat whatever got you into that mess in the first place.
For me, the story that comes to mind was the first time I tried carpaccio – if you don’t know what that is, it’s raw meat. I was on my honeymoon in Italy – a time where the last place on earth I wanted to be was in a bathroom. In Florence, my husband and I decided to be daring and try carpaccio but since my body had never digested raw meat, I became violently ill and experienced intestinal pains for the rest of our trip. For the record, I have never tried carpaccio ever again.
That leads me to a really refreshing lunch conversation I had recently with the nation’s leading go-to nutritionist Ellie Krieger. I’m always obsessed with finding out the latest trends in staying healthy and losing weight and I found out about the importance of incorporating probiotics into your everyday diet and how that helps to maintain a healthy gut but also aids in building up your immunity – perfect timing during these winter months.
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If you didn’t know already, the “gut” is considered the core of your body’s overall health and well-being and can affect your entire body, including immunity, digestion and more. According to a recent survey**, nearly three-quarters of women (72 percent) have experienced
a digestive/gut issue in the past 12 months and nearly two-thirds (64%) of women aren’t willing to talk about it with their friends.
There are more than 100 trillion live cultures of many diverse strains inside your digestive tract that can be easily disrupted by stress, diet, aging, certain medications and even the environment. At the luncheon, Krieger shared that one of the most efficient and impactful ways to bring balance to the digestive tract is with a probiotic like Renew Life Ultimate Flora Probiotics.
It turns out that while we can get probiotics from a variety of sources, including yogurt, dry kraut (not the kind that you store in the fridge), kafir and many more food, Renew Life Probiotics come in supplement form so you can easily take them every day along with your multi vitamin. They even have a women’s formula that also helps with urinary tract health too and they also highly recommend that kids take probiotics too. Probiotics are vital to everyone’s health and Renew Life’s Ultimate Flora Probiotics offers formulas specially designed for everyone in the family, from kids to seniors, to support digestive balance and immune health everyday.
Since 70% of the immune system is located in the intestinal tract, maintaining gut health is a key part of maintaining your overall health.
To help keep your complex digestive system thriving and restore good bacteria, Renew Life Ultimate Flora Probiotics deliver unique potent, multi-strain formulas to help achieve good health from the inside out.
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During our discussion, many of the attendees came clean with their own gut issue stories and what we discovered was that we weren’t alone. Krieger shared that nearly three quarters of women (72 percent) have experienced a digestive/gut issue in the past 12 months with gas/bloating (53 percent) being the most reported issue, but nearly two in three women (64 percent) aren’t even willing to talk about gut issues with their friends.
Ever since we had the lunch, I’ve been taking probiotics every day and I have to say, that I my system has become a lot more regular if you know what I mean! I also gave Renew Life to my daughter who typically has a sensitive stomach and has to avoid certain foods and she’s been taking it regularly too.
Here’s hoping that this year, I’ll finally get my gut in gear with the help of Renew Life Probiotics and Ellie Krieger! Renew Life Probiotics are available at health food stores and major retailers, including Target and Walmart. Visit RenewLife.com for more information.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by the Role Mommy Writer’s Network

Touring “The Goldbergs” Set with Adam Goldberg!

14681611_10153932225705205_1599881344861673791_n.jpgIf anyone knows me, then they know that I am obsessed with any type of entertainment that takes me back to the decade where it all started for me. So imagine my thrill when I got the chance to visit the set of “The Goldbergs” this month and I got to meet Sean Giambrone – the teen who plays Adam and even got a set tour from THE Adam Goldberg. The pair came to the set on their week off to share behind the scenes stories about the show and to talk about the inspiration behind all the amazing nostalgic items you get to see every week on the show. I was joined on the set by my west coast partner in writing crime, Kristin who took over Beverly’s kitchen in this hilarious Facebook Live video.
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What I really loved about the visit was getting the chance to step back in time and really relive those days. It was great hearing from Adam Goldberg about the set decor – especially when he revealed that his parents’ bedspread, his dad’s signature chair, and the hamburger phone in Adam’s room all came from his original home! Come to think of it, I had the same bedspread! And check out the poster’s on Erica’s wall — just seeing Rick Springfield took me back to my very first 80’s concert where he was headlining. But I digress!
Back to The Goldbergs. While we were visiting the Sony lot, we got a sneak peak of The Goldbergs halloween episode which airs tonight at 8:00 pm ET/7:00 pm CT on ABC. I’m not going to give anything away but let’s just say that Erica is wearing one of my favorite costumes of all time – Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors. While she’s still trying to convince everyone that she has a date for the Halloween dance, Jeff’s girlfriend isn’t convinced and still thinks she’s out to steal her man. You never know….
Meanwhile, Adam is exploring his inner Steven King and writes a scary novel that Beverly decides to introduce at her book club. I won’t give anything away but the episode is laugh out loud funny as all of the Goldbergs episodes are. But more than anything else, it was so much fun chatting with Sean who is 17 years old and super sweet like his character. And the real Adam is hilarious too. He talked about how his mom is still proud of everything she does. He even revealed how his mom slept over in his dorm the first night he attended NYU because she couldn’t bear to see her son leave home.
Honestly, visiting the set of The Goldbergs was an unforgettable experience and made me love the show even more. Don’t forget to catch the Halloween episode of The Goldbergs tonight and watch every Wednesday on ABC at 8pm ET/7pm CT.

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…
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.


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.
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. 🙂
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…
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).

I Officially Have a Mom Crush on Michelle Obama

11102877_10152772609320205_6410402974126457914_n.jpgMore than a decade ago, I dreamt up the concept behind Role Mommy. With two little kids in tow, I was determined to find a way to achieve success in my career without it taking a toll on my family. Thanks to an incredibly understanding boss who was quite the visionary back during those days, I managed to carve out a schedule for myself which paved the way for other women in our department to work from home. Despite my unconventional work schedule, I still managed to climb the ladder and eventually became a vice president in my department working with incredible individuals who were leaders in their field — from television producers, to programming executives, writers and actresses – all of whom were doing what they loved while raising a family.
At the time, I was fascinated by women who didn’t compromise their own dreams while pursuing motherhood and that’s the moment that Role Mommy was born. In my wildest dreams, I never imagined that my passion for storytelling would eventually lead me to the opportunity of a lifetime. What I have come to discover during this incredible journey as a parenting blogger is that anything truly is possible. After being invited by Cafe Mom to visit the White House where I would get the chance to meet the First Lady and learn more about the “Let’s Move” campaign to combat childhood obesity, it became quite apparent that today’s working mothers have found an ideal way to integrate their families into their lives in a way that ensures they will never short change their kids while pursuing their own careers. Incidentally, nearly every person who spoke at the event was a working mother who has made it their mission to help others while being an incredible role model for their own families.
When First Lady Michelle Obama took the stage at the Let’s Move event it was at that moment, that I developed my “mom crush.” Not only is she beautiful, poised and so incredibly smart, Michelle Obama is authentic, relatable and down to earth. As she recounted a story about how she used to feed her kids junk food when she was a busy working mom with two little kids, it instantly transported me back to those days when I was juggling a busy corporate career with motherhood. As hard as I tried to be a good mom, I remember short changing my kids with poor food choices — caving in to easy menu choices like chicken fingers and fruit roll ups, until those bad decisions caught up with me. In Mrs. Obama’s situation, she shared how her family’s fast food habits led her to have a serious conversation with her kids’ pediatrician who urged her to start introducing healthier foods into her daughters’ diet. In my case, a visit to the dentist revealed that my daughter’s fruit roll up fixation inevitably was the cause of several unwanted cavities. In both cases, we were both pretty lucky that these red flags took place when our kids were little so we could make a course correction and start introducing healthy foods into their diets when they were still pretty young.
Today, my kids actually love fish, vegetables (they are partial to my crispy kale chips) and oftentimes opt for the healthy food options then an easy junk food alternative. And in Michelle’s case, she shared how her two daughters have also made healthy food choices without her having to force them to do it.
By tackling the childhood obesity epidemic in the White House, the First Lady has made healthy eating and fitness a priority with families across the nation. No matter how busy you are as a working parent, it is essential that we make smart choices for our family and it’s great to know that kids today are being empowered in schools across the country to learn why it is so important to lead a healthy lifestyle. One thing that really struck a chord with me was when Mrs. Obama said it will be interesting to see when we look back on this generation that was initially raised on chicken nuggets and hopefully, those types of foods will no longer even be considered a viable meal option. Just as it’s become second nature to wear seat belts, kids have the potential today to grow up incorporating proper nutrition and fitness into their daily lives.
As Mrs. Obama looked around the room and remarked how inspired she was by the 150 bloggers and online influencers who have shared their individual stories with the world, I realized that there truly is power in storytelling. Everyone’s personal connection to the topic of getting and staying healthy is a powerful one. In my case, I recently lost a close relative to heart disease and have realized now more than ever the importance of taking care of my own health, while I care for my family.
Whatever your personal story may be as it relates to the health and well being of your family, just know you are not alone. As a parent, it might be easier to cave in and give your kids what they want at the moment – but trust me – what they want may not necessarily be what they need. Provide them with healthy options like fruits, vegetables, nuts, yogurt and fish and make sure they go outside and play. If we give kids the chance to be kids again while nourishing them with the foods they need to grow and thrive, there’s no telling what they can accomplish. Just take a look at how healthy eating has transformed my two little kids into incredible young teens!
A huge thank you to Cafe Mom and the Stir for inviting me to attend this incredible event. For more information on how you can get involved with Let’s Move, visit their website and make sure you take advantage of all the cool opportunities in your local community.

The Mominator

Guest Post by Entrepreneur, Fashion Designer, Wife and Role Mommy, Kelsey MacLean
KM-Website-Blog-TheMominator-pic-2.jpgIt was a beautiful late August summer day, and I took my 3 year old son to the park. He went running straight for a very tall climbing wall that seemed to be miles high for his chubby little hands and body. He barreled up to the playground climbing wall and immediately began to scramble up, my heart skipped a beat, and I started to make a move to pull him down, fearing he would fall and hurt himself.
But I stopped myself. I desperately wanted to shield him from every bump, bruise and scrape he might endure on that climbing wall and from every loss, heartache, and heartbreak that he is bound to suffer throughout his life. Oh how my heart thundered in my ears, yet I knew I had to back away, to remain only close enough to catch him if he fell, but far enough away so he did not know I was there. He confidently struggled to the top, hesitated, and turned around triumphantly smiling down at me before giggling and sliding down a terribly long slide.
I realized he had that brave youthfulness that has somehow over the years ebbed away from me, he wasn’t scared of all the bumps and bruises and scars that one encounters in the journey of life. I remember the bold courage of youth, the innocence of not knowing to proceed with caution. Overtime life chips away at these and if you are lucky, you learn to wear the scars with pride. Either way, you become more cautious and lose the wonderful perspective of youth that allowed you to see the world as a place filled with infinite possibilities.
Here is the deal on being a parent: I would instantly and unquestionably offer myself to ancient Aztec Indians to rip open my chest and remove my still beating heart to ensure the survival of my child. Being a mom does that, you love something so much there is no question you would sacrifice your own life for theirs, and at any given moment on any given day. Loving someone that deeply is scary, you want to shield and protect your child fiercely. There must be some sort of primal instinct, like a momma bear or as I call it, #TheMominator instinct kicks in. #TheMominator makes #TheTerminator look like a cute puppy. I want his life to be an easier, gentler life and to know nothing but sheer joy, but that is my own fantasy. He will face many challenges in life and must learn courage, independence and tenacity. I owe it to him to put his wellbeing before my own selfish insecurities. It’s my duty as a parent to see that he learns the tools and skills necessary to survive and thrive, and hopefully have a family of his own someday. In order to do that, a parent must stand back and let them scrape their knee, struggle to stand up, brush themselves off and move on, even if someday it’s away from me. It’s the absolute hardest thing I have ever endured, both beautiful yet heartbreaking at the same time. But that’s the deal. That’s being a parent, and I fully and completely signed up for this. If I want him to be the person I hope he will become, I cannot extinguish his bold curiosity. Someday I won’t be around to kiss away the scrapes and bruises, and someday very soon he won’t want me to.
I watched him make new friends today, laughing and playing tag with sheer JOY smeared across his face as I stood on the side, protectively watching over him like the helicopter mom I’m trying desperately not to be. I noticed his chubby hands and face are starting to thin and become more agile and muscular and he is growing, seemingly at the speed of light.
Later, as we leave the park, his hand in mine, I look up at the sky and am reminded that summer is fleeting, and my little boy is too. I will relish, cherish and remember each moment, I pray. -Kelsey MacLean, August, 2015 ©
– See more at KelseyMaclean.com.

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.
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.
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.
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