The Kratt Brothers Amazon Adventures at The Bronx Zoo {July 26 & 27}

Disclosure: I am a member of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Zoo Crew. This post is part of a sponsored campaign. I received membership for my participation, but my review and opinions are my own.

Join the Kratt Brothers, Martin and Chris, from the hit television series Wild Kratts as they take to the stage and re-enact an adventure that happened to them out in the Amazon. This interactive performance is a rip-roaring, snorting, bellowing, screeching and flapping fun for the whole family! This presentation is followed by an open Q&A session.

When: July 26th & 27th
Where: Astor Court
Time: 12:00pm and 1:30pm

Know before you go: Early arrival for zoo and show are encouraged. Show space is limited and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Availability is not guaranteed.

As a member of The Bronx Zoo, I am excited about this event. We've spent the last several weeks playing baseball. As a busy working, the remainder of the weekend has been spent running errands and cleaning up around the house. Last weekend we celebrated Norrin's last game and his Trophy Day. It will be nice to spend a Saturday or Sunday at the Zoo. And I know parents part of the League would feel the same and so I want to host a special giveaway just for Bronx autism parents.

The winner of The Kratt Brothers Amazon Adventures 
at The Bronx Zoo giveaway will receive:     

- The new Wild Kratts book
- Wild Kratts T-Shirt
- Autographed picture
- Tickets to the Bronx Zoo
The Rules
 -- Open only to Bronx Parents Autism Support Group members (membership will be confirmed) 
 -- Winner will be selected via Rafflecopter among all eligible entries
 -- Winner to be announced on Facebook 
 -- Winner MUST respond immediately 
 -- If winner does not respond within set time, another winner will be selected  
 -- Must be 18 years of age or older at time of entry
 -- Winner is responsible for travel costs

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I am a member of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Zoo Crew. This post is part of a sponsored campaign. I received membership for my participation, but my review and opinions are my own.

Disney Planes: Fire & Rescue {Sensory Friendly Screening 7/26 & FREE Printable}

Sensory Friendly Screening 
Saturday, July 26, 2014 - PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE - 10 AM

"Planes: Fire & Rescue features a quirky crew of elite firefighting aircraft devoted to protecting historic Piston Peak National Park from a raging wildfire. When world famous air racer Dusty (voice of Dane Cook) learns that his engine is damaged and he may never race again, he must shift gears and is launched into the world of wildfire air attack. Dusty joins forces with veteran fire and rescue helicopter Blade Ranger (voice of Ed Harris) and his courageous air attack team, including spirited super scooper Lil' Dipper (voice of Julie Bowen), heavy-lift helicopter Windlifter (voice of Wes Studi), ex-military transport Cabbie (voice of Dale Dye) and a lively bunch of brave all-terrain vehicles known as The Smokejumpers (voices of Regina King, Corri English, Bryan Callen, Danny Pardo and Matt Jones). Together, the fearless team battles a massive wildfire, and Dusty learns what it takes to become a true hero." (source: Disney Wikia)

AMC Sensory Friendly Films to Families Affected by Autism 
on a Monthly Basis to Select Communities.
The program provides a special opportunity for families to enjoy their favorite films in a safe and accepting environment. The auditoriums dedicated to the program have their lights up, the sound turned down and audience members are invited to get up and dance, walk, shout or sing!
Saturday, July 26, 2014 - Planes: Fire & Rescue
All shows are at 10:00 am local time. (Dates and films are subject to change.)

New York/New Jersey Theaters
  • 84th Street 6
  • Bay Plaza 13 
  • Bay Terrace 6
  • Brick Plaza 10
  • Clifton Commons 16
  • Danbury 16
  • Freehold Metroplex 14
  • Galleria Metroplex 16
  • Jersey Gardens 20
  • Magic Johnson Harlem 9
  • Mountainside 10
  • Nassau Metroplex 10
  • New Brunswick 18
  • Palisades Center 21
  • Rockaway 16
  • Shore 8
  • Stony Brook 17
  • Wayne 14
For a complete listing of participating theaters - click HERE  

Download Race To The Rescue Activities

For Tips on Taking Your Child To the Movies click - HERE  (my post on Babble - 12/13)

My Kid Got His 1st Trophy. He Wasn't The Best Player But He Deserved It Just The Same.

When Norrin was first diagnosed with autism there were so many things I couldn't see happening. I was stuck in this idea of this is where he is now, and it will always be like this. That was six years ago. Norrin and I have come a long way since then. And I know that where we are now, will not be where we are next year. Norrin may have autism but like every other kid - atypical or otherwise - he is maturing, evolving and learning. Norrin simply continues to amaze me. And when he achieves another milestone - regardless of how big or small - it is a moment worth celebrating.

This past weekend was a major milestone for Norrin. Saturday was his last game of baseball and Sunday was Trophy Day. And every kid got a trophy - including Norrin. It was his first. 

If you're on social media, I'm sure you've seen this meme. It's pure snark and aimed at parents raising a generation of entitled and unbearable brats who will one day grow up to be total assholes running the world. 

For those who have liked and shared the meme. Trust me - I get it (I've shared it too). I' m doing my best not to raise a jerk. 

But the "Every Kid Deserves a Trophy" is a subject of great debate. Especially among the typical parenting set. 
The helicopter parent is the parent who catches a child not when he crashes and burns, but when he merely scrapes his knee. It is the parent who needs to alleviate every ounce of her child's anxiety... I define "attaboy" or "attagirl" parenting to be giving constant praise to a child regardless of effort and outcome. This is the parent who preserves her child's spirit and confidence above all else... I think that we have way too many "attaboy" and helicopter parents today than "pick yourself up and dust yourself off" parents, and in my opinion, that's taking the easy way out of child rearing. Kelly Trotter King, Every Child Deserves a Trophy...Really? Huff Post Parents (2012) -- written in response to a NY Times article, Raising Successful Children by Madeline Levine.
I don't know what it's like to raise a typical child. But if I had one, I doubt I'd be a helicopter or an "attaboy" parent. I'm not one now though I suspect I must look like one when at the playground. I may hover, but a helicopter mom I am not. When I cheer my kid on, it's because I know he needs the encouragement to keep trying - not to boost his ego. And when Norrin starts to tantrum, I am totally okay with letting him cry it out until he calms down. 

When you have a kid with special needs, it's not easy watching them picking themselves up and dusting themselves off after getting knocked down. And there have been times, when I've had to look away because my initial instinct was to catch my kid before he crashed and burned. I know that I have to let Norrin fall a few times in order for him to succeed. I want him to be independent as possible. I'm fine with that. And in that aspect, I agree with that parenting philosophy. I don't think King or anyone else  in the great trophy debate had autism in mind but still... 

I'm going off topic. Back to the trophy and why Norrin (and everything other kid on the Bronxchester  Challenger League) deserved one.     

When Norrin was first diagnosed, Joseph and I watched as he struggled with so many things 'typically developing' boys were doing. I remember Joseph asking every therapist who ever worked with Norrin to focus on things like throwing, catching, jumping and kicking. Joseph - a natural and enthusiastic athlete and like most dads, he wanted to be able to share his love of sports with his son.

It has taken years of therapy to get Norrin to throw and catch a ball and to jump up and down. And he still struggles with his movement and coordination. 

We tried baseball last year but Norrin wasn't especially interested. He had a hard time focusing and didn't understand the overall concept. And while the kids played baseball, it was a little unorganized and just wasn't for us. 

I was hesitant to try again but I knew the Bronxchester Challenger League would be a different experience. It was exciting to see Norrin in his baseball uniform on his first day. I didn't mind waking up early Saturday mornings to get him to the field. I sat on the sidelines with the other moms, cheering our kids on.

That first time out on the field, Norrin had a tough time. He wanted to sit in the grass and run around the field. He had difficulty holding up the bat and aiming for the ball - he needed a baseball tee and a lot of guidance. But week after week, he got a little bit better. Week after week, he tried a little bit harder. He was looking forward to playing baseball. He wanted to play catch with Joseph. And by that very last day on the field, Norrin no longer needed the tee. Norrin still had difficulty but he kept trying until he got it (the coaches were patient with him).

Norrin wasn't the best player on his team, nor the most improved but man did that kid try! Week after week, he tried his best. And week after week, I saw improvement. The trophy he received, wasn't handed to him because he just showed up. Norrin earned it.      

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester Sweepstakes | #IWantToBuild

Disclaimer: I have received complimentary passes to LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester in the past. I have not been compensated to host this giveaway, all opinions are my own. 

The LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Westchester's Ridge Hill is one of our favorite places to go. It's a great indoor play space for kids.  The LEGOLAND Discovery Center is interactive and tactile, it burns energy (the Fire Academy jungle gym) and builds imagination. One of our favorite attractions is the 4D movie theater. When we visit, we try to go first thing on a weekend morning or mid week, around 5pm when it's not as busy.
The LEGOLAND® Discovery Center is a world of entertainment, color and creativity for families with children aged 3-10. We offer a wealth of attractions, 2 rides, 4D cinema and more! The average visit takes 2-3 hours, but you are welcome to stay and play as long as you like.
We drive up to Ridge Hill at least once every two weeks - there are so many good family friendly restaurants and stores. And whenever we go, we cannot leave without stopping in The LEGO Store.

Norrin loves LEGO and building is something Joseph and Norrin do together often. I always love watching Norrin sitting at the table, brows furrowed and building a LEGO set. I can see how hard he is concentrating to follow the steps and he's so proud when he's completed something independently.

As LEGOLAND Discovery Center is one of our favorite places, I'm excited to share some LDC news and host a giveaway!

Annual Pass SALE! Save on individual and family 4-packs of annual passes to LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester. Sale is valid from July 7 – 31. Individual passes will be $55 and family 4-packs are $190. As you might know, annual pass holders receive the following perks:

     -- Unlimited entry to the LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Westchester for 12 months.
     -- 10% off purchases in the LEGO® Shop
     -- 20% discount on food and beverages in the cafĂ©
     -- 10% discount on birthday parties
     -- Subscription to the LEGO® Club magazine
     -- Invitation to sneak preview event days

It all starts with a single brick! LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester is offering fans to build their dream creation with new Master Model Builder Veronica Watson. Create a sign that says “I want to build ______” and include what object you want to create in the blank space and pose next to it in your picture. Upload to social media using #IWantToBuild and #LDCWestchester. Entry deadline is August 29 and you can enter as many times as you want!

And now for the GIVEAWAY...

          The Rules          

 -- Winner will receive four (4) single day passes to LEGOLAND Westchester.
Adults must be accompanied by a child with the exception of Adult Nights.
 -- Winner will be selected via Rafflecopter among all eligible entries
 -- Winner to be announced on Facebook & Twitter
 -- Winner MUST respond immediately (within 24 hours) 
 -- If winner does not respond within 24 hours, another winner will be selected  
 -- Open to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and District of Columbia 
 -- Must be 18 years of age or older at time of entry
 -- Winner is responsible for travel costs

Disclaimer: I have received complimentary passes to LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester in the past. I have not been compensated to host this giveaway, all opinions are my own. 

Most Days I'm Just Average

This morning I took a parenting survey. Not like a fun Facebook survey that will tell me all about my parenting style or what state I should raise my kid(s), but more of a medical research autism parenting survey. 

Some of the questions made me sad - like the ones about Norrin's friendships. Other questions just seemed odd like, "Think carefully and count the number of things which your child does that bothers you. (choices: 1 - 3, 4 - 5, 6 - 7, 8 - 9 or 10+)" For the most part, I flew through the survey, checking off my answers with ease but a few questions made me stop and think about our day to day life. Like this question -- How do you rate yourself as a parent?

The survey was confidential but I still felt the weight of what I would answer. 

Yes I've had my moments where I've done things I never thought I was capable of doing. Like the time when I filed for impartial hearing (twice) without a lawyer. But I don't think that makes me an "excellent" parent. Those were singular moments, that's not my norm. 

I have my above average parenting moments when I read a bedtime story and make reading a part of our daily routine - even on days when our schedule is full. (I like to think that I set the example as well. Norrin always sees me reading and we make books easily accessible to him.) Or days when I've had little to no sleep but I wake early enough to make lunch and get him to the bus on time. 

And I'm certain I have below average days but I'll never share any of those moments. (Because a mom blogger has to leave a little bit of mystery...)

Most days, I think I'm just average. I let my kid drink soda and watch too much TV. I'd rather order take-out than cook dinner. I don't think I've ever sent Norrin to school with a hot breakfast. Nope, we're all about cereal with milk on the side. And sometimes I forget about brushing teeth before bed. I don't always remember to wash his hands after we come in from the playground. I don't always carry band-aids with me and I usually forget to pack snacks when we go out. I've sent him to school without his schoolbag. I've been late for the school bus. And I've missed more than my fair share of PTA meetings. I don't create Pinterest-worthy lunches, go crazy decorating for holidays or plan big birthday parties. I don't always stop what I'm doing when Norrin calls. And I yell probably more than I should. 

But no matter what I do or don't do, Norrin always knows he is loved. 

I don't think about being an excellent mom or an average mom. I'm just a sleep deprived mom trying to get through the day.

All that being said, for the sake of the survey - I answered b because e wasn't one of the options.  

Celebrating Frida Kahlo's Life & Legacy at La Casa Azul Bookstore {Sundays in My City}

Art mural on the wall upon entering La Casa Azul
One of my favorite places in the city is La Casa Azul Bookstore. More than just a bookstore featuring Latino authors, La Casa Azul celebrates art, music and culture. Yesterday La Casa Azul hosted an event to honor Frida Kahlo's life and legacy. Frida is iconic and inspirational. I admire her strength, honesty and ability to paint her pain. It was wonderful to be among women who felt the same.         

My Frida inspired outfit. During the event, guests were able to make floral headbands.

We also got to view a wonderful exhibit by Suhaly Bautista. It was called "I am Powerful" and featured photographs of women that Bautista was inspired by. Each woman was asked to share what made them "powerful." I was especially moved by Gloria.  

Loved this fun photo booth! So creative. 
I was inspired to recreate this hairstyle.  

I can't go into La Casa Azul bookstore without buying a book. It's impossible. When I saw this one, I knew I had to have it! 

screen shot - follow La Casa Azul on Twitter
The lovely ladies who attended the event at La Casa Azul. 

Save the date: May 16, 2015 through November 1, 2015 - the New York Botanical Gardens (in The Bronx) will host a major exhibition: Frida Kahlo's Garden

Unknown Mami

Have Fun in the Sun with Must-Have Healthy Essentials | #Moms4JNJConsumer #ad

Disclaimer: This post is part of the HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® 2014 program by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc. and The Motherhood, who sent me a box of products and compensated me for my time. Opinions, experiences and photos shared here are all my own, and I hope you enjoy them.

Summer is in full swing! The warm weather means more time spent out doors - at the parks, beaches and pools. And we've been having lots of fun in the sun and the water. Norrin truly lives up to his water sign of Aquarius. The Boy is happiest splashing around in the pool and running around the beach. This is also his first summer playing an organized baseball. Between long days of school and after school therapy, Norrin is a kid that works hard all year long, I love summer because Norrin gets to play as hard as he works.

I've read that kids with autism are more prone to being overweight. And living in a Bronx apartment, our outdoor play is limited - so we make the most of our outdoor time when we have it. Another reason why summer fun really matters. It allows Norrin to be more active and work on critical play skills. He's not only having fun but it's building his confidence.      

All this outdoor fun means more exposed skin. More exposed skin means sunburns and boo-boos. So I need to be prepared and stock up on summer essentials so that Norrin can have fun while being safe and healthy. 

There was a time when I didn't think about sunscreen but I am vigilant about it now. And I love that SPF can be found in my favorite lotion. I apply it before we leave the house but reapplication throughout the day is critical. My absolute favorite summer essential is Neutrogena's Wet Skin KIDS Sunscreen. It's perfect while at the beach or pool, because Norrin is constantly in and out of the water. The Wet Skin Sunscreen spray makes for super easy application. For myself, I love Neutrogena's Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sunscreen lotion.

Now, I am not one of those moms who is prepared. I never have extra snacks, tissues or band-aids. Having a rough and tumble kid like mine, I've learned "it's best to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it." So preparing for summer days out means putting together a little first-aid kit. Nothing major, just a baggie with the must-have items: band-aids, ointment, gauze and allergy medicine.    
First-aid products are our bodies’ partner in play: the cheerleader that helps us get up, dust off and keep going. It’s important to be prepared with the products you need to clean, treat and protect your wounds, so you can get back to doing what you love. Visit for expert advice and tips! 

The HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® program is offering amazing printable coupons, tips & tools and so much more for all the products you and your family love. You can save more than $45 by visiting in June and July and signing up for HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® program coupons and offers.

HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® Products are essential for summertime – 
and can help your family stay safe while enjoying outdoor play!

Disclaimer: This post is part of the HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® 2014 program by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc. and The Motherhood, who sent me a box of products and compensated me for my time. Opinions, experiences and photos shared here are all my own, and I hope you enjoy them.

Why I Blog About My Autistic Kid

[Previously published on AutismWonderland 12/1/12 - Do I Have The Right to Blog About My Kid With Autism? It has been edited & updated for Atypical Familia]

I have plastered my son's face all over Facebook. I've Tweeted Norrin's scripts and Instagramed his antics. I have shared our lives via my blog. Sharing my joys. My sorrows. My fears. The stress of parenting a kid with autism and all of my added angst.

I have pushed my kid out of the special needs closest without even asking him. Or my husband for that matter.

I can't tell you how often I've asked myself: Do I have the right to blog about him?

I remember when Norrin was in that horrible school and they were all reading my blog, picking my words apart to use them against me. I questioned whether or not I should continue blogging. I questioned if it was worth the risk

I started blogging as a class assignment. I wasn't thinking about comments or tweets, page views or pins. I never thought Norrin would become a "face of awareness."

I just wanted to share our journey. I wanted to write the posts I would appreciate reading. Posts that were realistic to me and our life. 

I've had conversations with other parent bloggers about this - our right to blog about our kids and the impact it will have as our kids grow up. It's not a decision any parent blogger takes lightly - especially when a child has a disability.

Some bloggers are anonymous and reveal no photos of their children. Others change their names and share some photos of their families, and only from certain angles. And others - like me - have their real names and faces all out for the world to know.

I can't speak for any other blogger except myself when I say I know why I am so open about Norrin's autism. 

I'm a writer. I was fiction writer before Norrin was born. And being an autism mom has simply given me another subject to write about. 

I write openly our life with autism because when Norrin was first diagnosed, I didn't know a single person raising a kid with autism. I didn't even know what autism was or how greatly it impacted the Latino community.  

Every single book I read about autism was written by  upper middle class (white) women who were able to quit their careers to become stay at home moms. Many of these women were married to white collar men, they lived in nice homes with backyards, in neighborhoods far far from mine. 

I found myself comparing my life to theirs and feeling like a failure. And I felt like if these people with money and means struggled for services - what chance would my kid have? When Norrin was diagnosed with autism, there was never the option for me to quit my secretary job. And there was never the option for Joseph to quit his FedEx job. There was no way we could move to another neighborhood. We had to just make it work within our means.

So we scheduled some of our therapy sessions at the playground and when the weather was bad, we used the apartment building hallway for additional therapy space. And when it was time to sue the Board of Education, we didn't have the money to hire an attorney, we went on our own. And won. Twice.

There is so much stigma about autism. And within the Latino community - autism is not something we are openly talking about or writing about. Latino children are going undiagnosed because parents do not know or understand what to look for.

I write openly because I want others to know the signs of autism. And I use my son's pictures because I want people to see a real face. I want them to know that my son, Norrin, has  autism. And he's okay. We're okay. I want people to see all the amazing things my kid can do and I want them to understand him without judgement.

So do I have the right to blog about my kid with autism? 

Well, I'm his mother. And as his mother I wouldn't want to do anything that will cause him any kind of harm or humiliation. I believe I share things about my son that are respectful to him.  

I've shown him the pictures I've posted but right now, I don't think he has the cognitive ability to understand what any of it means. But when he does, we will sit down and talk about it. And I hope he will understand why I've been so open about our lives. And I hope he will be proud to know that his face, his life, his words have made a difference. 

I Have a Serious Case of #SoccerFever

Those that know me in real life, know I am not a sports fan. I don't watch sports. I don't play sports. I actually find sports boring. And sports always take me back to 8th grade gym class, where I was always the last to be picked.

But soccer fever is contagious. And I've got a serious case of it. No one is more surprised than I am. Maybe I should take you back before I go on. 

I grew up in Elmhurst, Queens on the border of Jackson Heights. Jackson Heights is a melting pot of cultures and languages (mostly South and Central American). But we didn't  watch soccer in our home. We're Puerto Rican - my family was into baseball. (Except for me. I'd take a book when my parents insisted on bringing me to a ball game.) I didn't learn about soccer until I started high school. Most of my friends were South American and soccer was a huge part of their culture. I'd visit  my best friend on Sundays and watched in fascination while her father yelled at the television. 

But it was the summer I was eighteen (1994) I became aware of soccer fever. I was walking to the store with a friend, there were four parked paddy wagons at the corner and packed with police officers standing on duty. I put my arm out in front of my friend, cautious about walking any further. "Maybe we should go back. Looks like something is going on." My friend pushed my hand away and explained that Colombia was playing. I can't remember who they were playing. At the time I didn't understand the importance or the need for such police presence. And I remember the summer nights of celebration, streets, sidewalks and cars covered in flour, honking horns and music blaring on nights of victory.

But still soccer wasn't of any interest.

I now live in The Bronx. Soccer isn't as a big deal here as it is in Queens. At least not in my neighborhood. But my neighbor is a huge fan. I know when soccer season begins because I can hear her screaming from the street. Last year, we went to a Red Bulls game. And it was fun especially with someone who is so passionate about soccer.

I've been watching the games since they began last month. And it began on the first day, while at an event. It was fun to see the excitement building in Times Square and meet a few Red Bulls. I've been cheering and cringing with other soccer crazed fans since. And I'm proudly wearing my red, white and blue.

Soccer really is a global phenomenon. That's the beauty of soccer. The blending of cultures and languages. It's the unity of family and friends. It's the fans standing by and hoping for their country regardless of where they currently live. It's the pride you feel when your country is victorious...and the sense of loss when they aren't. I didn't grow up watching soccer but it's been in the background. It's a sense of familiar and reminds me of my old neighborhood. After years of wondering what the big deal was about soccer, I know now. Because I feel it too.

How To Feel Fabulous On Date Night When You Feel Like Nothing Fits

Last week we celebrated 11 years of marriage. It seems crazy to much we've been through in our years together. I've learned, loved and accepted so much over the course of our marriage. But today I don't want to talk marriage. I want to talk about Date Night. Because "Date Night" after marriage is hard. (We don't often do "Date Night" we are more about the "Day Date".)

I've gained some weight over the years (40 lbs to be exact since we've been married). It's been hard. I struggle with body image and finding things - especially during bathing suit season - that fit. And I spend the better part of the week, wondering what I was going to wear on our Date Night because there was so little in my closet that fits.

That's not true. I have work clothes, mom clothes and clothes that Joseph has seen me wear before. Date Night and 11 years of marriage is an occasion - worthy of something new.

I woke up early Saturday morning and attempted to go shopping but couldn't find anything I liked. (Isn't that always the case.) I found a dress in Macy's - similar to 2 other dresses I owned. Actually it was the exact same dress - a convertible maxi skirt/dress by INC - in navy and white. There was no need to try it on, I knew it would fit and I would feel comfortable wearing it. And I knew it was a dress I would wear throughout the summer.

The dress was simple, so I knew I had to jazz it up with new accessories. I decided to buy a new necklace and gold bangles. And I knew that somewhere in my closet were the perfect pair of heels that needed to be dusted off. (I made sure to pack a pair of flat sandals to change into.) 

I had a pretty mani/pedi in a fierce fiery red and my hair was blown out straight. And I kept my makeup simple and sexy with neutral colors (the make up and mani/pedi is for another post). I love accessories and makeup because no matter what size I am, these are the things that will always fit.

By the time I was dressed and ready to go, I felt fabulous. And it had absolutely nothing to do with what I wore or how much I weighed, it was all about right accessories, makeup and attitude.

Copyright © 2013 Atypical Familia