Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Saying Hello and Goodbye

May is National Foster Care Awareness Month and I can't let it go by without sharing a little of our story and encouraging others to consider taking this step for their family. I love this quote that I recently saw from a fellow foster mama....When people say the "I'd get too attached" thing to me, I usually say, yes, that's how you know you'd make a good foster parent. If it breaks my heart when they leave, that's how I know I loved them well.


We did it. We nailed the parenting thing. We had a beautiful little boy and a gorgeous little girl born 2 years and 7 days apart. Our happy American family was complete. But then it wasn’t.  We knew that God’s call on our heart to help children was clear and so we became certified for foster care. Our family went from 2 kids to 5 kids under 5 overnight. And thus began the journey that would change us forever. During the 5 weeks that they were with us we changed 5 kids into 3 different rooms trying to see who would not keep each other up at night, who would not bounce everyone awake at 6am, and what would keep us the most sane in a small house. We fell in love quickly. We got a glimpse of families who loved their children and were heart broken to be parted from them. We learned that foster care did not just bring us new children, it brought an entire family dynamic to learn about and nurture. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins..…it affects so many. With breaking hearts, we said we don’t know if we can do it again, listening to their sobs as they got in the car and drove away for the last time. Maybe it is too hard, maybe we’re too weak. It feels more comfortable to have smaller grocery bills, put on fewer shoes, and have less chaos. So we took a little while for our hearts to heal and our bodies to rest and we answered the call once again. “Yes,” you say? “In 45 minutes you will be receiving a 2 year old boy and his 4 day old brother who is still detoxing from drugs in his system.” Goodbye last night’s blissful sleep, hello newborn world. We saw the bruises on his arms and the shaking of his hands. We knew he was child #9 and we prayed for his mother to be rescued from the addiction that held her so tight that she had to choose drugs over these precious lives. 3 short days and off to court they went, only to be sent to live with a relative. Barely time to blink and no time to say goodbye. We pray they are loved and cared for wherever they are.  A little more time to regroup and the call comes again. An 11 month old girl and her 23 month old brother. The most trauma affected little ones that we had encountered. We barely knew what raising trauma-based children looked like and we were in for a crash course. We decided right away that our girl was either going to be a tuba player or an Olympic swimmer. How else could she possibly have the capacity to scream at the top of her lungs for hours at a time? Hours upon hours the screaming went on. We had to introduce formula, then pureed foods, then solids. Her brother spoke and understood almost nothing although he was just shy of 2 years old.  On the streets we heard the comments “you’re amazing, you’re wonderful, I could never do it” and my look became a blank stare as I thought I’m barely holding it together. I’m certainly less than amazing, and I don’t know how I’m going to make it through another day. But 5 weeks went by and suddenly the screaming lessened.  She began to smile.  We began to breathe again. She figured out what being tickled was and we discovered the best giggle we have ever heard in our lives. It literally stops people in their tracks, it’s that good. Our little buddy began to talk and hug and sing. He knows the words to every song he listens to regularly. And by something completely unforeseen by us, 22 months went by and we are now in the process of adoption. Foster care is hard, we would never try to cover that up. But do you know what foster care isn’t about? It’s not about us. It’s about children. Children who are in desperate need of love, patience and care during both their good and most unlovable moments. Are we special or significant? Not at all. We are simply evidence of people living one step at a time in grace and praying that others will take this step as well.


Monday, May 11, 2015

Digital Media Academy + $75 off summer camps!


Do you have or know kids that love anything to do with digital media? Then this could be the perfect camp for them! 

Founded at Stanford University, Digital Media Academy is ranked as one of the ten best summer camps in the world! Kids and teens learn computer programming, app development, 3D modeling, robotics, graphic design, filmmaking, and much more. DMA summer camps are one or multiple week experiences taught by industry experts and tech professionals. Campers get hands-on experience creating projects using the latest hardware and software from Apple, Canon, Adobe, and more. 

Digital Media Academy is also proud to introduce Made by Girls, a new program dedicated to empowering girls and closing the gender gap in the tech industry.




Save $75 off summer camps at Digital Media Academy with code TECHSUMMER at www.DigitalMediaAcademy.org. Sign up for multiple weeks and save big! Campers save $125 for each additional course they register for. Register by May 31 to #CreateTheNext best-selling app this summer!




Give your teen a pre-collegiate experience or build a child's confidence through project-based learning. Learn at some of the most prestigous colleges and universities throughout the U.S. and Canada. Camps start at age 6!

Head to www.DigitalMediaAcademy.org to find camps in 11 states + Canada. PA locations include Philadelphia and Bryn Mawr.




Questions? Call 1(866)656-3342 to speak with a Guest Service Representative or email info@digitalmediaacademy.org and mention the US Family Guide Special Offer

#CreateTheNext this summer at Digital Media Academy!





The DMA Experience from Digital Media Academy on Vimeo.

This post sponsored by U.S. Family & Digital Media Academy. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

New Day added: #SlidetheCity!

** UPDATE ** NEW Day being added, Sunday June 7, 2015! Tickets go on sale this Wednesday, May 6. Don't delay -- Saturday is SOLD OUT, Mark your calendar for this Wednesday and get your tickets here! 

 

People are always coming up with new & exciting venues for fun, aren't they? Slide the City is an awesome 1,000 foot slip and slide that will be in Pittsburgh for one day only! I can't wait to check it out.  Turning hills into water-sliding thrills is the goal of the event, which was created in an effort to get people outside, having fun, and connecting with their community.


Slide the City Pittsburgh: Saturday June 6th, 2015
Location: South Park – Allegheny County 
Registration Opens: April 22nd, 2015 10am Eastern Time
Go here to register: 


Participants in Slide the City will ride inflatables down a 1,000-ft. slip and slide. This one-of-a-kind experience will help people “slide into summer.” The first event of its kind, Slide the City has seen massive growth since it started in 2014. This original concept went viral when the video was released, and this year promises to be bigger, better, and wetter. “This will be one of the highlights of your year,” said Slide The City Founder, T.R. Gourley “Get ready for the slide of your life!”

Each rider can purchase a one ride pass, three ride pass, or all-day pass. With over 150 events in the US and Canada, and more than 20 international locations beginning with Japan and Australia as early as March, water slide enthusiasts are sure to find a Slide the City event nearby.

All are welcome to slide into fun. Visit www.slidethecity.com for more information about Slide the City dates and locations or checkout what fans have to share on Facebook at www.facebook.com/slidethecity.


Best Rates - Early Bird Registration begins Wednesday, April 22, 2015!
Prices begin at $15, $30, & $50 for early bird. 

Make sure to bring your water buckets, floaties, and water guns (non-realistic of course), to squirt, spray, splash, and get all attending soaked.


FAQ's:

Is there an age or height limit?
All who are over 46 inches tall and over 5 years old are invited to slide, but remember if you're under 18 you'll need to get a sign off from your legal guardians.

Are there group rates available?
If you have a group with 20 or more participants send us an email.

What do you do to address water conservation?
Water conservation is also a priority at our events. We strive to have zero environmental impact on the community. The Slide was designed to have zero water loss, and it treats and recycles the water safely and efficiently throughout the day. When permitted, we donate the water back to the community. Methods of disposal include local reclamation centers, parks, golf courses and other places dependent upon local regulations.


Additional Information:
Instagram 

Facebook -  or http://www.slidethecity.com/events/pittsburgh/

Twitter - @slidethecity



This post sponsored by U.S. Family, all opinions remain my own. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

A chat with Dr. Amanda of Family Chiropractic


Last fall I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Amanda when we were both speaking at The Mom Con. I enjoyed hearing her talk on how passionate she is about incorporating healthy living along side her chiropractic business. Some people might not associate a chiropractic clinic with holistic health and wellness. But Dr. Amanda and her husband, Dr. Cotey, are true believers in not just fixing symptoms, but addressing lifestyle, diet, and whole body heath to help each person feel at their very best potential. (Read more of their story here.) That is a big reason they have a very special upcoming announcement as they change the name of their practice to simply Family Chiropractic. (formerly known as Jordan Family Chiropractic.)


Here are some questions I posed to Dr. Amanda about her practice:

1. What led you and your husband to start your chiropractic business?
Our purpose in life is to passionately restore family health and animate future generations, and what better way than through the chiropractic lifestyle. We've personally had life changing experiences all because complete strangers went out of their way to introduce us to a better way towards health that we had no idea even existed. We feel obligated and very proud to spread the message of health to our local community.

2. You are in the process of changing the name of your business, what do you hope the new name conveys to families?
We believe our new name and logo speak for themselves! Our practice members come to us because we continuously elevate their health, inspire self responsibility and help them take action through a rhythm of education, specific adjustments and nutritional support.

3. I recently heard about how chiropractic care can be an amazing resource for infants struggling with reflux. Can you share more about those benefits?
That is absolutely true! We are experts when it comes to the human body and we specialize with pediatrics and pregnant women. We see kids of all ages. Many of our practice members bring their kids in to be proactive with their health and to insure their children are functioning optimally. Typical issues that we see in newborns and children are colic, reflux, ear infections, bedwetting, growing pains, IBS, scoliosis, etc. The truth is, if a child is suffering from anything, they deserve the opportunity of experiencing chiropractic care.



4. What are some other ways families can benefit from Family Chiropractic?
The benefits are truly up to you. We have patients who truly need help with pain relief from chronic issues, headaches, migraines, etc. We also have patients who need help getting their body to function at a higher level due to cancer, autism, cerebral palsy, etc. Additionally we have patients who seek to be proactive about their health rather than waiting until there is a problem to deal with. This care is comparable to working out – we all know it will lead to a healthier happier life, but do we all put it as a priority and make time for it? Or do we wait until we are over weight, tired and miserable then wish for the magic quick fix? We believe your Health is your greatest assest and you are responsible for it.

5. Anything else that would be helpful for families to know about your business?
The most common statements we hear in our office are parents saying, “I never knew this was even an option.” “Why didn’t I hear about this sooner?” “I am so thankful Julie referred me to you, I had no idea you could help my family so much.” It is a our greatest pleasure to help restore your family’s health.


Would you like to learn more about Dr. Amanda's Family Chiropractic? Join them for an exciting FREE event + Launch party!

Thursday, May 14th, 6:30pm. 
Treesdale Community Center
1 Treesdale Cmns, Gibsonia, PA 15044
.
They were selected out of 500 chiropractors in North America to be featured in an extreme make over! There will be amazing food, provided by Oakmont country club, Tamari, Whole Foods and others! There will be the exciting announcement via a CEO of a multimillion dollar company as well as raffle prizes.  If anyone is interested in learning about how to take their health to another level they are more than welcome to attend, they will not be giving a lecture or trying to corner people. All attendees are able to enter into a free raffle. The grand prize is worth over $2400 which will be one free year of care! Children are able to attend, however, ideally they would love parents to be able to relax together and have a nice night out. There is no babysitting availability at the center.
RSVP is required to help with food availability. Register here.

Thank you, Dr. Amanda, for sharing with the Momtourage followers the wonderful resources Family Chiropractic can offer to families!

Dr. Amanda received her degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic. She and her husband have been in practice for 6 years and have two beautiful little girls who are 3 and 16 months.



9125 Marshall Road, Suite 101
Cranberry Twp, PA 16066
724-741-6080
info@JordanFamilyChiro.com


This post sponsored by Family Chiropractic, however all opinions remain my own. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Digital Media Academy + $75 off summer camps!


Do you have or know kids that love anything to do with digital media? Then this could be the perfect camp for them! 

Founded at Stanford University, Digital Media Academy is ranked as one of the ten best summer camps in the world! Kids and teens learn computer programming, app development, 3D modeling, robotics, graphic design, filmmaking, and much more. DMA summer camps are one or multiple week experiences taught by industry experts and tech professionals. Campers get hands-on experience creating projects using the latest hardware and software from Apple, Canon, Adobe, and more. 

Digital Media Academy is also proud to introduce Made by Girls, a new program dedicated to empowering girls and closing the gender gap in the tech industry.



Save $75 off summer camps at Digital Media Academy with code TECHSUMMER at www.DigitalMediaAcademy.org. Sign up for multiple weeks and save big! Campers save $125 for each additional course they register for. Register by May 31 to #CreateTheNext best-selling app this summer!



Give your teen a pre-collegiate experience or build a child's confidence through project-based learning. Learn at some of the most prestigous colleges and universities throughout the U.S. and Canada. Camps start at age 6!

Head to www.DigitalMediaAcademy.org to find camps in 11 states + Canada. PA locations include Philadelphia and Bryn Mawr.



Questions? Call 1(866)656-3342 to speak with a Guest Service Representative or email info@digitalmediaacademy.org and mention the US Family Guide Special Offer

#CreateTheNext this summer at Digital Media Academy!




The DMA Experience from Digital Media Academy on Vimeo.

This post sponsored by U.S. Family & Digital Media Academy. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sky Trails: In Review + Ticket Giveaway

Last week my family got the chance to check out the new Sky Trails adventure ropes course at Pittsburgh Mills. It is quite the experience and I love seeing new venues that are active for kids! My kids are 6, 4, 3 & 2 and although we had meant to only bring our 2 oldest, our babysitter fell through and so we had all four. So we had our hands a little fuller than we anticipated, but it worked out. Our youngest 3 started on the Sky Tykes ropes course that is specifically for kids under 48" tall, geared towards children ages 2-7. It's a fun experience for them and allows them to work on their balance and their bravery. :)  The platforms are less than 3’ off the ground and they ask a chaperone to assist. 



The Sky Trail® adventure ropes course stands 32' tall with 2 levels of 30 elements. The elements are horizontally strung ropes and bridge activities like zig-zag beams, criss-cross angled rope ladders and cargo nets secured between steel poles


 All ages and abilities can experience the Sky Trail® attraction. Participants are able to choose their path through the rope elements while going at their own pace with the ability to pass other participants at each platform. This course requires a 48" minimum height to participate alone however adventurers 42” or higher can participate with an adult.


My 6yo was way less scared than I thought he would be!


And then there is the zip line! 


My 4yo wasn't tall enough to go by herself on the upper level, but I could go along with her. She was timid at first. but did great. Once she had her first zip line ride, she was definitely hooked!


  • It is $7 for the smaller Sky Tykes and $14 for the Sky Trails & Zip Line. 

  • Mon - Sat: 10:00 am - 9:00 pm
    Sun: 11:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • 590 Pittsburgh Mills Blvd, Tarentum, Pennsylvania 15084
  • Want to try it for yourself? I have 2 passes each to give away to 2 families! Go here to enter.  AND.....just to sweeten the deal, ESSpa Kozmetika is offering $20 Gift Card to their brand new eDry Brow and Blow Dry Bar just for entering!! When the giveaway closes you will be contacted (via the email you register with) on how to redeem your card. 

  • a Rafflecopter giveaway


  • I was provided passes by Sky Trails for review. However, all opinions remain my own.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Ticket Giveaway: EQT Children’s Theater Festival


It's one of my favorite times of the year....EQT Children’s Theater Festival! This festival is an awesome way to introduce your kids to theater in the most kid-friendly way. I especially can't wait to check out Tangle, this year's interactive art installation. They have something entertaining for all ages, including a Sensory Friendly Performance. Tickets start at just $5 which makes the event very affordable. There are also lots of FREE events and a myriad of other activities to entertain your family!

29th ANNUAL EQT CHILDREN’S THEATER FESTIVAL
May 14-17, 2015 | Festival open daily, 10AM – 7PM
CULTURAL DISTRICT, DOWNTOWN PITTSBURGH

Pamela Komar who is the Executive Director of the Children’s Theater Series & Festival, shared a few thoughts with Deanna Lee**:

What does the theater experience bring to children?
The benefits of theater are undeniable. Theater inspires imagination, creativity, problem solving, thoughtfulness and so many more life skills. International theater also brings the world to the stage in Pittsburgh. Children are introduced to other cultures and perspectives.

What if a child has never seen theater before? Will they be engaged?
Children’s theater is a fascinating term because it encompasses all genres—artists may create shows for young audiences utilizing various forms of performance and visual art—dance, theater, music, puppetry, object theater, comedy, circus, spoken word, etc. Many times one show will cross many genres. For festival first timers, I suggest considering a child’s unique interests. This year we have a show just for babies and toddlers called Umbo. The piece is a terrific first-time theater experience created along with child development specialists. Some children like to see shows based on a book that is familiar or can be read and discovered before hand—for example, this year’s festival includes Spot based on the books by Eric Hill, Hansel and Gretel based on the original Brother’s Grimm fairytale, and a contemporary take on Robin Hood.

FEATURED TICKETED EVENTS
All ticketed performances will take place in the Cultural District. Full descriptions of each Featured Ticketed Performances are at www.TrustArts.org/PGHKids.

SPOT by Theater Terra
The Netherlands
AGES 3 – 7 | 50 minutes
Location: Byham Theater, 101 6th Street
Go along with Spot to the farm where all of the animals are lost. Spot and his friend Helen need your help! Can you recognize the sounds of the animals and help find them?
* Sensory Friendly Performances, which will include interactivity, rhythm, repetition, reduced sound levels and gentle lighting are scheduled at 1:00 p.m. on May 16 and 5:45 p.m. on May 17.  Sponsored by The Children’s Institute.

UMBO by Teatro Al Vacio
Mexico
AGES 6 months – 4 years* | 30 minutes
Location: Cabaret at Theater Square, 655 Penn Avenue


A joyous, playful and stimulating experience for the youngest of audiences. Share a special moment with your little one in a colorful world filled with play, exploration, and discovery. Follow Umbo as he grows just like you will! *All children require a ticket, accompanied by an adult. Additional adult companions and guests will be seated in chairs surrounding the play space.

HANSEL AND GRETEL by GRUPPE 38
Denmark
AGES 8+ only* | 40 minutes
Location: Trust Arts Education Center, 805-807 Liberty Avenue


Are you brave enough to hear the real story of Hansel and Gretel? The darkest of The Brothers Grimm fairytales is brought to hair-raising life. With live music, the storyteller transitions between all characters, illustrating the tale using stunning visuals and projections. 
*Children under the age of 8 will not be admitted.

THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD by Visible Fictions
Scotland
AGES 7+ | 60 minutes
Location: Byham Theater, 101 6th Street


In a forest near you lives a band of brothers seeking to rid the land of evil and return hope to the poorly treated. Join internationally acclaimed Visible Fictions for a silly and unexpected take on Robin Hood and unleash your imagination!

MANXMOUSE: THE MOUSE WHO KNEW NO FEAR by Theatergroep Kwatta
The Netherlands
AGES 5+ | 60 minutes
Location: Trust Arts Education Center, 805-807 Liberty Avenue


The brave Manxmouse is unique. He has bright blue fur, huge rabbit ears, and a distinct lack of a tail, but he doesn’t mind being different! Manxmouse is a play about being yourself, told with puppets, animation, and music!

NEW OUTDOOR INTERACTIVE ART INSTALLATION
TANGLE by Polyglot Theatre
Australia
ALL AGES | 30 minutes



Play in and explore this unforgettable art installation, complete with live music! Visitors create a tangled multi-colored landscape by weaving colorful balls of elastic through tall golden poles. What will you create?! Polyglot Theatre is assisted by the Australian Federal Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body, the Victorian Government Melbourne and the City of Stonnington.

SENSORY-FRIENDLY PERFORMANCE
SENSORY-FRIENDLY EVENTS during this year’s festival include SPOT (Theater Terra, The Netherlands) taking place at the Byham Theater, 101 6th Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.  Sensory-friendly performances will be held at 1:00 p.m. on May 16 and 5:45 p.m. on May 17.

GIVEAWAY:
We have 8 tickets to give away to two lucky winners (four tickets each)! These vouchers can be used for any of the previously mentioned shows listed above. Go here to enter (and then don't forget to keep scrolling down to learn about all the FREE events!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

FREE EVENTS
LILYPAD PARK
This year the center of the Festival features a bigger and better pop-up park!  This special green space is full of turf lily pads and furniture, flower planters, a sandbox, and more!  Enjoy even more play space this year as Penn Avenue will be closed to traffic from 7th to 9th Streets during the entirety of the Festival!  A Complete listing of Food Trucks, Family-Friendly Restaurants, Community Stage performances and Hands-On activities will be made available at TRUSTARTS.ORG/PGHKIDS in May.  Vendors will be selling a variety of foods on the festival grounds – ALL SALES ARE CASH ONLY.  Benches and grass seating areas are available throughout the Cultural District to enjoy food vending or packed lunches.
PUBLIC ART AND INSTALLATIONS
Family-friendly artwork is on display at Space, Wood Street Galleries, Future Tenant Gallery, 707 & 709 Galleries, Shaw Galleries and Agnes R. Katz Plaza.
HANDS-ON AND RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES
From craft-making to workshops to games, attendees can discover over 30 fun activities on the festival grounds!
FROG STOP SCAVENGER HUNT
Back by popular demand, attendees can explore key locations in and around the festival Grounds! Discover interesting facts, participate in fun activities and learn about the Cultural District along the way. Complete the scavenger hunt and win a kid cone from Dream Cream Ice Cream.
THE KID FLIX MIX
This kaleidoscopic showcase of the best short film and animation comes straight from the New York International Children’s Film Festival. The show runs daily during Festival hours. Films are recommended for kids ages 3-6 and will take place at the Harris Theater, located at 809 Liberty Avenue.
PARKING AND TRANSPORTATION
Reserve parking vouchers in the heart of the Cultural District at Theater Square Parking Garage. A limited number of vouchers will be held for Festival visitors each day. To reserve your parking voucher, call 412-456-6666 or visit the Box Office at Theater Square.
Festival travel as convenient and comfortable as possible! For information about parking lots and garages in the Cultural District, visit www.ParkPGH.org.  This site shows real-time parking availability in over 20 downtown parking lots with parking inventory updates every 30 seconds.
The Cultural District is serviced by public transportation options through the Port Authority of Allegheny County.  For more information, visit http://www.TrustArts.org/visit/public_transportaion/

*Photos used courtesy of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. 

**Deanna Lee is a recovering advertising professional, amateur cook and freelance writer. Hailing from northwestern PA, she's made the transition from country to city life and enjoys writing about (and experiencing) all things Pittsburgh.