What You Will Learn on a Maple Sugar Tour

Every winter we see listings for maple sugaring tours, and every year we seem to be busy or forget to go. This year we finally went. What will you learn on a maple sugaring tour? A lot!

We went to the Great Swamp in New Jersey for our education. They were offering two sessions on a weekend afternoon – for $3/person (though no one asked for or collected money – and we checked in at the outdoor education center desk).

Follow the maple sugar leaf signs to the sugar shack at the Great Swamp. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

While there’s no way to know for sure who discovered maple sugar, Continue reading “What You Will Learn on a Maple Sugar Tour”

Review: Camelback Ski Resort With Kids

Camelback Mountain

For some relatively local (to us) Pennsylvania skiing, we headed to Camelback Ski resort with kids this year. It’s funny to see the outdoor water park slides covered in snow, as this resort is also a summer destination.

Camelback is in the Poconos. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
Camelback is in the Poconos. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

Given all the crazy weather this season, we were happy to see a solid base. Plus, they make snow, and we got to experience that ourselves, with snow machines at the base and on some of the slopes. I never realized how loud they are. It’s like going past a jet engine. After one run where about 6 of them were blowing in a row, we had to go in and take a break, as our faces were so cold from the blowing snow.

As for mountain stats: Continue reading “Review: Camelback Ski Resort With Kids”

Review: Saturday Night Live Exhibition with Kids

When I went to check out the new Discovery of King Tut exhibition at Premier Exhibitions for a press visit, they said we could also go to the Saturday Night Live exhibition. Woo hoo! I hadn’t realized that was even a thing (shame on me). It was like a super guilty pleasure that turned out to be fascinating as well. And so much fun I brought my family back the next week to get their take.

Saturday Night Live the Exhibition, at Premier Exhibitions on 5th Avenue. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
Saturday Night Live the Exhibition, at Premier Exhibitions on 5th Avenue. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

Before going into the faux Studio 8H, Continue reading “Review: Saturday Night Live Exhibition with Kids”

Review King Tut Exhibition in NYC with Kids

I saw the King Tut exhibit in the 1970s, traveling from Arizona to San Francisco just for the occasion. That exhibit brought 50 of King Tut’s tomb items around the country, causing mob scenes (well, a lot of people anyway) in the form of record attendance. I saw a fair amount of Tut goods in Cairo’s Egyptian Museum when traveling there in 1995. And then when another Tut exhibit came through in 2010 (with 50 moretomb items), and I saw it again in San Francisco AND New York (the advantage to living in both places during their run). Read more about that King Tut exhibit here.

Premier Exhibitions in NYC. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
Premier Exhibitions in NYC. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

So when I heard that King Tut was back in the Big Apple, with a new kind of exhibition, of course I jumped on the opportunity. I went for a press preview of the Discovery of King Tut, and then took the family back this past weekend.  The big difference between the exhibits is that this exhibition focuses on the discovery of Tut’s tomb, and displays only replicas (more than 1,000 of them, versus the 50 genuine artifacts brought over previously). While it sounds a little disappointing that they’re reproductions, rest assured, you will not feel cheated. Here’s my review – King Tut exhibition with kids. Continue reading “Review King Tut Exhibition in NYC with Kids”

Interesting facts about the Rockettes

After seeing the Rockettes perform, I was interested in learning more about them. Here are some fun facts:

Rockettes must be at least 18 years old by August 31 to perform that holiday season

Santa's Reindeer - the Rockettes. Photo courtesy of the Rockettes.
Santa’s Reindeer – the Rockettes. Photo courtesy of the Rockettes.

They start working late September or early October and work through December. It’s a seasonal gig. Continue reading “Interesting facts about the Rockettes”

Big Apple Circus Review – Metamorphosis

We went to the Big Apple Circus Legendarium show two years ago, and had a great time. When I thought about going back this year for Metamorphosis, I wasn’t sure how different it would be. Turns out it’s a completely new show, in the familiar small tent atmosphere. I brought along two teen girls, including a high school sophomore, and two tween boys.  We all loved it – and when I asked them about their favorite parts, each listed something different. I’ve been telling people to go to the show since I got home.

a contortionist
The contortionist got into this little box, and then her helper got in there too. Look for the band above the stage under the French looking Big Apple Circus sign.

What follows are pictures of some of my favorite acts, but there were many more I didn’t include here. And they’re not in order. The Big Apple Circus brings in different acts each year. This year’s show is Metamorphosis, which was not a theme that really carried over through the whole show (well, aside from the ringmaster’s coat). There were a few references, but basically it seemed to me to be just the title. Not an issue. Continue reading “Big Apple Circus Review – Metamorphosis”

Liberty Science Center’s New Infinity Climber, Rubik’s Cube and Guitar Exhibit

While I did a more comprehensive review of taking the kids to the Liberty Science Center for a previous post,  I was there recently and wanted to fill you in on some of the changes and new exhibits. The most exciting is the new Infinity Climber, which finished installation a few weeks ago. This “multi-story play space” is suspended 35 feet above the ground. It has 64 petal platforms (they look like lily pads), to climb on, taking you higher and lower. It’s surrounded by a net, which is stiff enough to keep you in, but not so stiff that it hurts.

a infinity climber

The Infinity Climber is the world’s first suspended climbing space of its kind, and can fit 50 adults and children in there at one time. You have to be 42 inches or higher to go in. It’s great for groups to go in together.  Continue reading “Liberty Science Center’s New Infinity Climber, Rubik’s Cube and Guitar Exhibit”

Teach your kids to ski!

I learned to downhill ski in Arizona. Yes, there’s snow in Arizona – it’s up north. I learned at Snowbowl in Flagstaff (of Route 66 fame) – with my family. We still have a lot of laughs over those early skiing days. We took a family lesson, and my father tried to correct us kids, showing us what to do, even though we had an instructor there. Let me add that my father was also a beginner, with no more experience than us.

We soon switched to separate lessons. And we finally learned how to get three of us off the lift without falling into a pile.

After college I moved to California and was fortunate to have Lake Tahoe relatively close, spending many a ski weekend with coworkers and friends, and eventually my husband – at the various mountains there.

The kids took their first ski lessons at Bear Valley, in California. My son was so wiped out he fell asleep during snack time and they didn’t dare wake him for his second lesson. That one day of skiing taught us something important. If you’re going to learn to ski, you should immerse yourself for a few days to do it. And then keep it up. Continue reading “Teach your kids to ski!”

Review: Duke Farms In New Jersey

When we read about Duke Farms opening to the public a year ago (May 2012), we put it on our list to do. We finally went, albeit without kids (they’re at camp) but can’t wait to take them there.

The barn house ????
The farm barn, which is now the orientation center, is the first building you’ll see in the parking area.

Duke Farms is one of the largest undeveloped parcels of land in New Jersey, made up of more than 2,700 acres. Doris Duke’s father, tobacco farmer J.B. Duke, bought the land as a luxury homestead, endowing it with formal gardens, water features and grand buildings like the one you see above. Of note, the family home is not available for touring (and we couldn’t even see where it was while there).

F meadows
A meadow outside the Farm Barn.

Doris Duke, as the sole heir, inherited the land, where she spent part of her childhood. She put it in her foundation, for land preservation and land stewardship. What a gift! Continue reading “Review: Duke Farms In New Jersey”

Review: Mountain Creek Ziplining

When I told my husband we were going ziplining, he said “In WINTER? Don’t they offer it in summer?” I started having second thoughts, thinking about the cold wind in our faces and the waiting time in the snow. But it was a little late to cancel. At the worst, I figured we’d have something to laugh about in our holiday letter -how stupid were we to zipline in the winter?


Turns out we had nothing to worry about. The skies were blue, and even with temperatures in the 30s, it could not have been a nicer (winter) day to be “flying.”

We arrived at the Zoom Zipline office at Mountain Creek’s Cobblestone Village (across the street from the Red Tail Lodge) at our starting time. Inside they had waivers to sign and the harnesses and helmets laid out. They helped us put them on and adjust them, going over a few rules.

ziplining harness and helmet? check. copyright deborah abrams kaplan

 We headed over the pedestrian bridge to the right of the Cab Ride (the lift at the lodge base). The first zip line was a practice one, low to the ground and only 200 feet long. We learned about the correct flying position (seated in our harness, legs straight out, hands wherever you want them) and the landing position (knees pulled in to the chest, hands on the bar above) and we all had a turn. There were 13 of us, so it took awhile.

The intro zipline - 200 feet long. copyright deborah abrams kaplan
The intro zipline – 200 feet long. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

Continue reading “Review: Mountain Creek Ziplining”