Sunday, August 11, 2019

Cirque du Soleil Crystal = AMAZING

I know I have been gushing about Cirque du Soleil all week but seriously guys it was truly magical.  There are 2 more shows today in Portland and you can still score tickets!  Head HERE to purchase.

I went to the show with my family on opening night and I was absolutely blown away.  The acrobatics were incredible and the fact that it was all on ice was staggering.  The performers are actually doing trapeze on skates!!  It was so exciting that it even managed to impress my two almost 13 year old boys (and....if you know this age group that is a real accomplishment!). 

Here we are getting ready for the show....

And a few photos from the show that don't do it justice!

This part below was a big hit. These extreme skaters are completely fearless and awe inspiring.

 That is an acrobat balancing on SIX chairs!  SIX!

 This doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of how beautiful the lights and projections are throughout.
 Writing with ice skates!!


 Finale!  And look, I see Mary Siegel!

Remember to get your tickets HERE and get the latest Cirque information by following them on Twitter HERE or visiting their website HERE.

The Jungle Bunch...Review & Giveaway! 3 Winners!

A new DVD was released earlier this month and it is perfect for family movie night! The Jungle Bunch is out now and is lots of fun. Here is the scoop...
Get ready for the wildest ride of your life! The Jungle Bunch is coming to DVD and digital on August 6 from Shout! Kids, and it’s a jungle of fun for the whole family.

Maurice may look like a penguin – but he's a real tiger inside! Raised by a tigress, he's the clumsiest Kung-Fu master ever. Along with his friends, The Jungle Bunch, he intends to maintain order and justice in the jungle, as his mother did before him. But when Igor, an evil koala, wants to destroy the jungle once and for all with the help of his army of silly baboons, Maurice faces his biggest challenge yet.

Your family will go bananas for The Jungle Bunch, a fresh and funny adventure that’s full of laughs and memorable characters! 
Check it out here...

This movie is tons of fun and had my 9 year old daughter in stiches laughing.  The characters are endearing and likable and the story is sweet, funny and exciting.  It is a family movie night win!  Get your copy today on Amazon...

WIN IT!  THREE lucky Reviewed by Mom readers will win their own DVD copy of The Jungle Bunch!  Thanks so much to the sponsor and good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, August 9, 2019

Cirque duSoleil...Behind the Scenes!!

Earlier this week  I got to do the coolest thing....I got an inside glimpse at what goes on behind the scenes at a Cirque du Soleil show.  In anticipation of "Crystal" (now in Portland, Maine) I was granted some insider access for the day and I was mind blown!

Janie Mallet met my daughter and I at the Cross Insurance Arena where Cirque will be until this coming Sunday.  Janie has been with Cirque du Soleil for 2 years and has been working on Crystal since June.  She is an expert on all things Cirque du Soleil and it was a pleasure listening to her experiences. 

Crystal has been touring for 2 years now and is the first Cirque du Soleil show on ice.  Portland is the last stop on the US tour before the group heads to Canada and then Mexico.  As we entered the Cross Insurance Arena we noticed many big trucks parked outside....

They actually arrived with 18 of these trucks filled with everything they need to set up the show plus pretty much set up a city wherever they go!  I am not exaggerating about this either. With over 100 people traveling together wherever the set up needs to meet the needs of the Cirque family.  We saw a big cafeteria, multiple washer and dryers, a medic room, sewing room...they have it all!  This particular show employs folks from over 20 countries and includes 29 skaters, 20 acrobats, 3 musicians and a comic.  I really felt overwhelmingly excited to be among so many talented people from around the globe (they were even ex Olympians!).

Before we watched some performers we got to hear about some of the unique challenges of a Cirque show on ice.  Many of the performers had never skated before so they had to learn a skill that many spend their whole lives focusing on.  Think about a juggler, for instance.  He has mastered his craft but then has to basically relearn it all because of the  height difference while on skates not to mention the added balance one must master while trying to juggle.  Don't even get me started on the trapeze artists!  Think about what that must be like.....being on a trapeze while on ICE SKATES!  These people are bold, brave and incredibly talented!

For some of the acrobats not wearing skates, Cirque developed these cool shoes with grips that help them not slip plus do not ruin the ice for the skaters.  Trust me when I say, Cirque du Soleil has it all figured out!

A favorite spot we got to check out (especially for my daughter, Ruby) was the wig and sewing room.  Here is where, between shows, repairs are made, hair is perfectly coiffed and shoes are shone.  It is a busy spot!

We also really enjoyed seeing the costumes. Row after row of fun, 50's inspired costumes all lined up and ready to go!

As we were walking through the backstage the cast where practicing.  We would just be walking by and would see things like this....

WOW!!!  We then got to watch some of the skaters practice.  It was SO exciting to watch the performers zoom around the ice. They had such skill and grace and it was a true gift to be able to see them in action.

It certainly got Ruby and I WAY excited about the show.  Can you tell how much we were looking forward to it by these big grins??

We also got to sit down for a few minute to talk with Mary who we would be seeing in the show later that evening.  Mary Siegel has been with Cirque du Soliel's Crystal since the very beginning and she loves being part of the show.  She plays the part  of the "Reflection" . 

Mary has been skating for 7 years professionally.  She had admired the work of Cirque du Soleil for years and when she heard about their first show on ice she knew it was perfect for her!  She is originally from Ohio but has really enjoyed all the of the traveling being a part of Cirque has allowed her to do.  She is gearing up for the warm temperatures of Mexico before the group travels to the cold weather of Russia later this year!

Mary has loved being a part of Cirque because her castmates have become like her family.  Living and working so closely with a tight knit group has really created a strong bond that she values.  When I spoke to her, she had only been in Maine for one day but had already enjoyed some lobster, the cobblestoned streets of the Old Port and the beauty of Fort Williams!  We hope she enjoys the rest of her time here and we LOVED seeing her in the show (more on that later).

Check back soon for my recap of the show (get ready for me to GUSH because it is that good!). Thanks so much to the kind and generous people of Cirque du Soleil for showing us the ropes (literally!) and sharing some of the magic with us!

If you don't have tickets yet...what are you waiting for???  Get them here!

Tuesday, August 6, 2019


If you ask me, there is not a television show that better defines children's tv than Mister Roger's Neighborhood.  I have such vivid memories of this show as a child.  I loved the songs and the beautiful "land of make believe" that Fred Rogers created.  When I had kids of my own, I couldn't wait to share this program with them and I was so happy to see they loved it as much as I had. That is true staying power!  A couple of weeks back, PBS released a brand new DVD collection of 30 episodes....the Would You Be Mine Collection is available now and is a great addition to any DVD library.  Here is the scoop...

MISTER ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD: WOULD YOU BE MINE COLLECTION is a collection of vintage episodes from the most beloved children’s television host in the world, Fred Rogers. Fans will walk down memory lane with Mister Rogers in these 30 hand-picked episodes to revisit the puppets in the Neighborhood of Make Believe. The collection also includes a bonus episode—a visit to the crayon factory—as well as episodes where performers like the group STOMP and world-renowned cellist, Yo Yo Ma, stop by for a visit. “MISTER ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD: WOULD YOU BE MINE COLLECTION contains more than 14 hours of entertainment.

Mister Rogers just never goes out of style.  His gentle way and kind mannerisms are something both young and old can appreciate and learn from.  In these times of turmoil in the world, Fred Rogers really has the most simple and relatable advice.  Be kind to one another.  Be a good friend.   Help others whenever you can.  I will never tire of this show and am so glad of the staying power it has.  The world needs more Fred Rogers.  You can pick up this DVD today on Amazon (on sale even!!).

WIN IT-I am so excited to tell you that PBS Kids is giving one lucky Reviewed by mom reader a copy of Mister Roger's Neighborhood:  Would You Be Mine Collection!  Thanks so much to the sponsor and good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

National Geographic Summer Reading Giveaway!! Explorer Series by Trudi Trueit!

As we end out the month of July, I am working hard with my three kids to stay out of the "summer slump".  It can become very easy to lost ground on reading skills during the summer.  The draw of the outdoors, friends, BBQ's and beach days can be a big distraction from reading.  However, when armed with the right books, keeping kids engaged in reading over the summer is MUCH easier.

A few books that fit the bill for keeping kids engaged is the Explorer Academy series by Trudi Trueit.  This trio of books is full of adventures that are fun and engaging allowing kids to get lost within the pages without a big fight.  Here is the scoop...

Explorer Academy launched in the Fall of 2019 with the release of the first book in the series, The Nebula Secret — a book Kirkus called “(a) fully packed high-tech adventure that offers both cool, educational facts about the planet and a diverse cast of fun characters” and Booklist said is “sure to appeal to kids who love code cracking and mysteries with cutting-edge technology.  

In the Explorer Academy series, adventure, danger, and a thrilling global mission await 12-year-old Cruz Coronado as he joins an elite school fore xplorers. Cruz leaves his tranquil home in Hawaii to join 23 talented kids from around the globe to train at the Explorer Academy with the world's leading scientists to become the next generation of great explorers. But for Cruz, there's more at stake. No sooner has he arrived at the Academy than he discovers that his family has a mysterious past with the organization that could jeopardize his future. In the midst of codebreaking and cool classes, new friends and augmented reality expeditions, Cruz must tackle the biggest question of all: Who is out to get him, and why? 

Just in time for summer reading selections, the adventure continues at the coolest school on the planet with the release of Explorer Academy Book 2: The Falcon’s Feather AND the debut of Explorer Academy Code-Breaking Activity Adventure where kids can find clues, crack codes and get the inside scoop on the Academy. 

Want more Explorer Academy fun?  Check out to read the first chapter of The Nebula Secret AND The Falcon’s Feather, play games, check out the “fact behind the fiction,” meet real life explorers, and much more. 

Our Thoughts:  These books were a hit in our house.  The stories are fast paced and exciting.  There are clues and riddles throughout which hook readers in.  Add in bits of history and science and these books are a real win for kids who enjoy and adventure series.  The book reminded me a bit of the 39 Clues series which we really enjoyed.  The Code Breaking Activity Adventure was a fun companion to the book series.  We are eagerly awaiting book 3 which comes out September 3rd and can be pre-ordered HERE.  

GIVEAWAY ALERT!!!  Win a Summer Reading Prize Pack courtesy of National Geographic!  One lucky RBM reader will win a copy of each of the three books mentioned above ($47 value).  Thanks so much to the sponsor and good luck!
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Monday, July 29, 2019

The Birthday Girl by Melissa de la Cruz....Review & Giveaway!

Who is looking for a great summer read??  In a few short days, The Birthday Girl by Melissa de la Cruz will hit the shelves and it is just perfect for your beach bag or hammock.  Here is the scoop...

#1 New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz makes a triumphant return to fiction for grown-ups with THE BIRTHDAY GIRL (Dutton; publication date: August 6, 2019; $27.00 hardcover), her most intense and surprising novel to date. Beloved by countless young readers all over the world for her fifty novels of magic, fantasy, and contemporary realism—de la Cruz now takes on domestic suspense with a thriller centered on a glamorous woman’s fortieth birthday party in Palm Springs, and what it means when the birthday girl is forced to confront the dark secrets of her youth. 

Ellie de Florent-Stinson lives a fabulous life. She has everything she ever wanted: a handsome husband; an accomplished, college-age stepdaughter; a beautiful ten-yearold girl; two adorable and rambunctious six-year-old twin boys; gorgeous homes in Los Angeles, Park City, and Palm Springs; a thriving career as a well-known fashion designer of casual women’s wear; and a glamorous circle of friends. She’s determined that her fortieth birthday party at her new mid-century-modern pad be absolutely perfect, down to the last detail. Except that her carefully laid plans seem to keep going awry—the hydrangeas are wilting in the desert heat, her husband’s yelling at the waiters, and her best friend can’t make the party at the last minute. But this isn’t the first birthday celebration that hasn’t gone as expected. And as her party’s about to start, she receives a text that causes long-buried memories of a toxic sweet sixteenth birthday, to come flooding back. Unspooling in two timelines, the novel reveals the shocking details of Ellie’s past as it collides with her present. Unforgettable and powerfully told, THE BIRTHDAY GIRL is a “gasp out loud,” unputdownable must-read for Summer 2019 one that is certain to enthrall both fans for de la Cruz’s much adored Witches of East End series and readers discovering her storytelling prowess for the first time.

My Thoughts:  I really enjoyed this book.  It was fun, suspenseful and clever and I didn't want to put it down.  The main character Ellie, seemed to me a very spoiled woman.  She was losing her mind over details of her lavish birthday celebration that was decadent beyond my wildest imagination.  However, it is quickly revealed that there is more to Ellie than couture and excess.   She is  a concerned mom, the head of a company that perhaps isn't doing as well as it seems and a wife with some insecurities.  She is doing so much juggling that it is mind boggling.  In addition to what she has going on currently, Ellie has a significant event from her 16th birthday that is coming back to haunt her.

The book does a great job of flip flopping between the 40th birthday party drama to the even more dramatic events of the 16th birthday.  You get to know both the teen Ellie and the adult Ellie which brings a lot of depth to the character.  In fact, knowing about the childhood and teen years of Ellie and her friends gave me a whole lot more sympathy for the adult Ellie.  This book is full of twists and turns that kept me guessing (and second guessing!) as  turned the pages.  If you are looking for a book to bring along for some lazy summer day relaxing this is THE ONE!  You can pre-order your copy today on Amazon....

Win it!  The publisher is giving one lucky Reviewed by Mom follower a copy of The Birthday Girl! Thanks to the sponsor and good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cirque Du Soleil Crystal is Coming to Portland!! Giveaway!

In early August, Cirque Du Soleil is coming to the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.  From August 7-11 you can see the latest show "Crystal" and I am so excited to share more details about it with you today.

Have you ever seen a Cirque Du Soleil show?  I haven't and I have always wanted to.  Crystal is Cirque du Soleil's 42nd creation and is the very first show on ice.  It combines the breathtaking acrobatics you have become accustomed to from Cirque but with the added challenge of performing on ice.  I can't even imagine the idea of performing these stunts on ice skates and I think it adds another layer of excitement to the show.

The show follows Crystal, the lead character on a fast paced and exhilarating tale of self-discovery.  She dives into a world of her own imagination and you are invited to suspend reality and glide into a colorful world with astounding visual projections and musical scores.  Gymnasts and skaters perform acrobatics on the ice and in the air, combining the disciplines together.  Freestyle, synchronized and extreme skating are featured alongside circus arts such as aerial straps, hand to hand and swinging trapeze.  There are even jugglers on ice skates!  You can see a preview of the show in this trailer...
Cirque Du Soleil has a long reputation of bringing awe inspiring acts to the masses.  My family and I are attending opening night on August 7th and I absolutely can't wait!  I love that our first show is the first ice performance and I think it is something our whole family will enjoy (hard to come by these days!).  I will be sharing my thoughts after the show so be sure to check back in.  Meanwhile, you can learn more about the show HERE and purchase tickets to upcoming shows HERE.

Giveaway Alert!  I have a family 4 pack of tickets to giveaway to the Cross Insurance Arena show of your choice!!  Thank you so much to the sponsor.  To enter, use the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck and maybe I'll see you at the show!

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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Sesame Street: Dance Party Coming August 6th! Giveaway!!

Who is ready to put on their dancing shoes??  Everyone's favorite children's show has a brand new DVD coming out next month and it will have you out of your seat dancing!  Here is the scoop...

It’s time to dance to the beat…all the way to Sesame Street! On August 6, Shout Kids and Sesame Workshop will release Sesame Street: Dance Party via DVD & digital download.

D is for dance – and this Dance Party is just getting started! On “Dance Your Favorite Dance Day,” Nina teaches her friends on Sesame Street the moves to dances from all around the world. Next, kids will get their groove on with all their favorite characters, learning the “Do the Dinosaur Dance,” the “Elmo Slide,” the “Robot Dance,” and “Head Shoulders Knees and Toes”! The Feelingwells throw a family dance party, and when Zoe choreographs a ballet in “Snuffy’s Dance,” the dancers have to work together to figure out how to make Snuffy fly through the air.

Celebrities like Amy Ryan, Liev Schreiber, Maria Menounos, Naomi Watts, Nicole Kidman, Sutton Foster, and Wendy Williams join the Sesame Street gang to sing “Elmo’s Got The Moves.” More star power arrives when Ne-Yo sings “You've Got a Body,” encouraging everyone to get up and move. Janelle MonĂ¡e teaches Grover, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, and friends “The Power of Yet” with a toe-tapping number.

The dance party continues as the Feijoo Sisters dance the Lambarena with Zoe, Jason Derulo shows Elmo and Abby Cadabby that “Dancing is Easy,” Ernie creates a dance video with too many steps, Elmo and Prairie Dawn record a music video, and Murray shows off flamenco-, Irish step dancing-, and Bollywood-inspired moves in a “Murray Has a Little Lamb” mashup.

Sesame Street is celebrating its 50th year! Share your favorite Sesame Streetmemories – and maybe your favorite dance – with the hashtag #ThisIsMyStreet.

You can pre-order your copy today on Amazon....

Giveaway!!  To celebrate the upcoming release of Dance Party, Shout! Factory is giving THREE lucky Reviewed by Mom readers a copy of this fun DVD!  Thanks so much to the sponsor and good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Okko's Inn....Out Now! Giveaway

Are you looking for a new family movie night suggestion? There is a charming new DVD available now that would make a great option.  Okko's Inn just hit the shelves earlier this month and is a charming drama.  Here is the scoop....

Kitaro Kosaka’s stunning anime feature Okko’s Inn from the famed studio Madhouse was released on Blu-ray, DVD and digital download on July 2, 2019 from GKIDS and Shout! Factory. Nominated for the 2019 Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year, the film comes to home video following its nationwide theatrical release earlier this April. Bonus features include interviews with the director and Seiran Kobayashi (Okko). 

After losing her parents in a car accident, Okko goes to live in the countryside with her grandmother, who runs a traditional inn near an ancient spring said to have healing waters. Okko soon discovers there are spirits living there only she can see – welcoming ghosts who keep her company, play games and help her navigate her new environment. Okko strives to be a gracious host, and this is soon put to the test by a string of challenging guests with different stories. But ultimately Okkodiscovers that dedicating herself to others becomes the key to taking care of herself, in this beautiful tale from Kitaro Kosaka, who was a key animator on numerous classic films at the venerable Studio Ghibli.

Special Features:
·Interview with the Director
·Interview with Seiran Kobayashi (Okko)
·Q&A with Director and Producers at Japanese Premiere

Our Thoughts:  This is a touching tale appropriate for older (8+) children.  The subject matter is sensitive but is handled in a gentle way.  I watched this with my daughter who is 9 and we both thoroughly enjoyed it.  The story is both charming and touching and this was our real foray into an anime film and it was a big hit. You can purchase your copy on Amazon here...

Win it!!  Shout! Factory is generously giving one lucky RBM reader a copy of Okko's Inn!  Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter!  Thanks to the sponsor and good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Celebrate Christmas in July with the Boch Center!

Even though it has been nearing 100 degrees here in Portland, I don't think it is ever a bad time to start thinking about Christmas!  I love that time of year and I am super excited about some of the shows the Boch Center has planned for the holiday season.  Check it out...

How great, right?  I would really love to see them ALL but I think I would be most excited to see Rudolph!  How about you?

DEAL ALERT!!!!  To celebrate Christmas in July, the Boch Center is giving offering 20% tickets with the code "July"!  Get details and buy tickets at