6 Beauty Products for a Better Night’s Sleep

Written on June 2, 2014 at 1:20 pm , by

By Reisa Feigenbaum

We could all benefit from better sleep. While The Better Sleep Council raised awareness about the importance of a good night’s rest in May for Better Sleep Month, we’re sharing a slew of products that take beauty rest to a whole new level.

1. Laneige Water Sleeping Mask, target.com and select Target stores, $23

Revive dehydrated skin with an overnight leave-on mask. Highly concentrated mineral water moisturizes parched skin, while rose and sandalwood stimulate relaxation and deliver a pleasant floral scent.


2. Pantene Pro-V Repair & Protect Overnight Miracle Repair Serum, drugstores, $8
Don’t lose sleep over your dry, damaged tresses. Try this leave-in serum that strengthens hair at its weakest points. You’ll wake up with shiny, smooth locks and no sticky residue on your pillow.

3. Bath & Body Works Aromatherapy Pillow Mist in Lavender Chamomile, bathandbodyworks.com and Bath & Body Works stores nationwide, $10 
Doze off to the calming scents of lavender, chamomile and vanilla. These essential oils sooth the body and de-stress the mind for a more peaceful sleep. Simply spray onto your pillow or sheets and let the relaxation begin.



4. Sephora Collection Instant Depuffing Eye Mask, sephora.com, $6
Get the ultimate shut-eye with a refreshing eye mask that contains HydroSenn+, a natural ingredient that seals in moisture. Perfect for traveling, it reduce puffiness and dark circles instantly.



5. Julep Oxygen Nail Treatment, sephora.com, $18 
Apply this treatment before bed once a week and allow your nails to breathe as they grow, with a pretty glossy nude finish.


6. Dermelect Cosmeceuticals Self-Esteem Beauty Sleep Serum, dermelect.com, $42
Brighten and tighten all night long while the exfoliator reduces pore size, lightens hyperpigmentation and penetrates your pores. This serum boasts powerful anti-aging ingredients including collagen-boosting vitamin C and moisture-rich glycolic acid.



When Your Kid Isn’t Ready for College

Written on June 2, 2014 at 1:12 pm , by

Pressure to get into the right college peaks in junior year. SATs are taken and retaken, colleges are visited, applications are filed and the waiting begins.

Except when your kid, like mine, isn’t ready for college.

We knew before she did that she wasn’t ready. When people hear your kid isn’t going to college right away, they want to believe her grades are bad or that she’s a troublemaker. They don’t want to know she made honor roll every single marking period, that she was captain of the volleyball team and has several AP classes on her transcript. There’s a stigma to not going to college immediately upon graduation, and if your well-qualified student isn’t going, it’s possible that theirs might not either.

The fact is that many high school seniors are entering college blindly. It’s expected of them, and their parents are paying for it. The students take out loans to make up the difference in what their parents can’t pay. Many of them have no idea what they want to major in, or else they want to major in something that will not get them a job that will enable them to pay back that student loan.

I took an informal survey of the newer people showing up in my work circles and found that it was not unusual to have $100,000 in student loan debt. I don’t work in a cutting-edge hospital where you might expect high med-school loans; I work in a theater.

My husband and I are in the midst of paying off a debt that size that has nothing to do with student loans and everything to do with getting custody of these (his) kids. I know exactly how hard it is for us to work through this mess with two incomes. People right out of school are still getting their foot in the door in our business; I have no idea how they’re making loan payments.

With our current debt, we can’t take on loans, nor do we have much of anything to contribute. Our kids know that before any college decisions are made, they need to have a plan.

If you could reduce our parenting to one motto, it would be: Take responsibility for your life. We are willing to suggest, help, guide, even cajole, but it must be the child’s plan because it’s his or her life.

In effect, each of them must answer the question, What do you want to do with your life? The plan can always change, but what is it for now?

It takes a certain level of maturity to answer that question, which is where everything broke down with kid number 2. It wasn’t just about the finances, it was emotional. She’d gone through a lot before she came to live with us; it takes time to process that. We suggested she apply to college but defer for a year. Take any job and explore some options for what she might like to do. She could take flying lessons, EMT training in the Rockies—cool experiences that could translate into marketable skills. Everything we suggested she immediately shot down. She remained frozen in a state of panic.

Finally she took to heart the idea of deferring. The emotional weight visibly lifted from her. But then she went too far the other way. By November of senior year, she still hadn’t applied anywhere. We reminded her that she wasn’t going to sit in the basement and play video games after graduation.

Midway through December we had to threaten to take away Christmas to get her to finish the Common App. At a time when most kids in her school had their acceptances, she was just beginning the process.

But as she got more wins, she gained confidence. She was accepted everywhere she applied. She received some academic awards, a couple of scholarships and consistently the highest grade in her physics class.

We continued to talk about her plan. She continued to clam up. My husband and I worried about how we could possibly get her moving. One morning in the car, I chanced bringing it up. The car is usually a good place for uncomfortable conversations (just make sure your teen isn’t the one driving). She didn’t realize she had a plan until she spoke it out loud. She had picked a school, worked out living arrangements and decided that she would work and save every dime possible until a year from September. We had no idea.

“That’s a good plan,” I said.

“It is?”

“Well, yeah, don’t you think so?”

“I didn’t think it was a plan, really. Because I don’t know where I’ll work and I’m not positive what I want to study yet.”

“You don’t have to have it all figured out to start moving in that direction. Once you take a step, the next steps get clearer to you. That’s how it works.”

I snuck a glance at her and was treated to the rare sight of a smile.

“So now you just need to defer officially,” I said.

“Oh, I did that last week.”

We had been expecting to have to force that action by threatening to take away graduation. As she shared her plan with others, she found only support. Many adults chimed in about how much more valuable she will be to employers after taking this year to work and gain life experience.

I would love it if all my kids ended up graduating from college with zero debt and marketable skills that are so in demand they’re writing their own ticket in a career they are passionate about. Wouldn’t we all?

But what is absolutely essential for them to understand is that they must go into this whole college thing with their eyes open. No parent wants their kids graduating from college with $100,000 in debt, a worthless degree and no earthly idea what they want to do with their lives. Sadly, blindly going for the college experience without putting mindful thought into it will lead to exactly that.

Most likely my kids will end up somewhere between those two extremes. Wherever they go, they’re going to own the decisions that led them there. That already puts them ahead on the path of taking responsibility for their own lives.


JM Randolph is a writer, stagehand and custodial stepmom of five. She lives in New Jersey with her family and blogs at accidentalstepmom.com.

Summer Reading Rewards

Written on May 30, 2014 at 1:50 pm , by

Just because the school year is winding down doesn’t mean your kids should put away their books. Encourage them to keep reading with four fun programs. Don’t worry, cool swag is involved!

Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge: Dare your kids to break the world record for minutes read. They can enter their times online, then play games and collect digital prizes like sample chapters and virtual badges.

Half Price Books Feed Your Brain Summer Reading Program: Kids collect HPB Bookworm Bucks if they read for at least 15 minutes every day in June and July.

TD Bank Summer Reading Program: Reading literally pays off: When kids in grades K-5 complete 10 books, $10 is added to a new or existing Young Saver bank account.

Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program: Kids earn a complimentary book after reading eight.

6 Ways Parents Can Discuss Sex Before Prom Night and Graduation

Written on May 28, 2014 at 3:31 pm , by

By Leslie Kantor, vice president of education, Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Prom and graduation season is an excellent time to have conversations with our teens about sex—what they anticipate happening, what their date or friends might envision, and how to handle the potent mix of alcohol, drugs and sexual pressure that is likely in the mix.

Studies show that teens who talk with their parents about sex are more likely to make healthy choices like waiting until they are older to have sex, and using birth control and condoms when they do decide to. You can empower your teens to make smart, safe choices by discussing the importance of having good communication with partners and using condoms and contraception. Proms and graduations should be very positive events in a teenager’s life, and with your help, they’ll be prepared and able to focus on enjoying themselves.

Keep the lines of communication open.
Talking with your teenager about sex may be awkward and uncomfortable at first, and owning up to that can help relieve tension. You can try saying something like, “It’s totally normal that this feels awkward, but I love you and care about you so we need to talk about important things like this.” In time and with practice, it will get easier. The key is to keep the conversation open and ongoing.

Discuss expectations.
If you’re allowing your teen to spend the night outside the home or stay out later than usual, talk about what you expect of them and help them think about how to handle peer pressure or difficult situations.

Practice things to say and ways to handle different situations.
As parents, we can help our teens by warning them about the lines they might hear and situations they may find themselves in. We can help them practice assertive responses that feel right to them, from saying no to sex to setting boundaries about what they want and don’t want to do. For teens that are going to engage in sex, making sure they are prepared with condoms is essential, as is what constitutes consensual sex so that teens are clear that when someone is drunk, they can’t actually consent to sex.

Talk with them about preventing pregnancy and STDs.
The reality is that 63% of high school seniors have had sex. Even if you want your teen to wait until they are out of high school or much older to have sex, it’s still important that they know how to protect themselves from STDs and getting pregnant before they head off to college, or start jobs that will inevitably force them to face sexual decisions and pressures.

Make sure they’re prepared.
You might want to make sure they have condoms with them on prom night and consider having your teen get a method of birth control as well. Chances are that that first year away at college or working, opportunities for sex will arise, so it’s better that he or she is prepared.

Get more information.
If the thought of helping your teen navigate these decisions feels a bit overwhelming, don’t worry. Many college health centers provide condoms and birth control, and you and your teen can always visit a Planned Parenthood health center for information and care. They can also check out Planned Parenthood’s mybirthcontrolapp.org, which is designed to help older teens find methods that will work well for them, which they can then discuss with a health care provider.

For more information and resources on talking to teens about sex and sexuality, check out plannedparenthood.org/parents. Read more of Leslie’s work, here

Follow Leslie on Twitter @LeslieKantor.



You Make It, We Post It!

Written on May 26, 2014 at 8:30 am , by

Dessert is served! Instagram user @oohallicat whipped up this delicious Strawberry Fool from Ellie Krieger, host of the Food Network’s Healthy Appetite. The dish packs a hefty dose of vitamins C and B12 plus calcium—and is just as good with blueberries or raspberries. Click here for more celebrity chef recipes.

Want to be featured here as next week’s chef?

Here’s how: Make a Family Circle recipe, take a photo and share it on Instagram by tagging @FamilyCircleMag and #FCMADEIT.

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Turning Fear into Empowerment

Written on May 23, 2014 at 3:13 pm , by

By Erin Rabitcheff

“Maybe this year will empower you.” This was the advice I received one day at a friend’s gathering when worrying aloud about the prospect of solo parenting my two young boys for a year. My husband had accepted a post abroad, and for the first time we would be separated as a family.

Three years ago, my husband came home and told me there was a job opportunity in another city. For your average American family that might mean New York, Houston or Los Angeles. For us it meant Kabul, Afghanistan.

My husband is an American diplomat working for the U.S. State Department, and we are an average Foreign Service family. When he signed up for the Foreign Service, he agreed to go anywhere in the world, and when I married him, I agreed to be open to wherever we might go, for as long as I could.

The U.S. invaded Iraq when our first son was not yet a year old. During the months that followed, my husband expressed interest in going there to serve at the U.S. embassy. I was nervous about it but did my best to be open and supportive. I almost agreed to let him go, until four Americans were killed in the 2004 Fallujah ambush. I feared I would be left a widow with a toddler. I told him I didn’t want him to go, and his friends and family agreed that he shouldn’t. He stayed, and although I was relieved, I always felt bad that I had prevented him from pursuing his dreams. So this time when he said he wanted to serve in Afghanistan, I supported his decision.

And then I panicked. He was due to go in a year, so I had 12 months to nurse my fears of becoming a widow, of being a single mother with two young sons, of falling apart from the stress, of how the boys were going to react because they are very close to their father.

When I spoke about my situation at a friend’s gathering, a guy there said, “I’m not married and I don’t have any kids, but maybe this year will empower you.” I stopped in my tracks. I had been so focused on my fears that I had not considered being empowered by this experience.

I had grown up with a single mother and it was no picnic. I could only imagine being like my mother—constantly struggling, stressed-out, overworked. Yet in a moment, the calm words of this acquaintance shifted my entire perspective. I remembered I was not my mother. I was married to a man who loved his kids very much. We had technology and could stay in touch as much as possible. I had friends I could rely on for emotional support.              

That year, I had many opportunities to build up my confidence, everything from the mundane (figuring out how to change the clock in the car, a typical duty of my husband’s) to writing a song with my children, which turned out to be one of my greatest joys. I talked to them about how they felt about their father going away, and we set their thoughts to music, using their words and perspective. I shot footage and edited the video myself, something I had never done before, and I posted the video on YouTube.

My greatest lesson was that by taking care of myself, I would take better care of my children. One of my dreams was to be a singer-songwriter. During the year that my husband was away, I carved out time to write music and to show up at open mics. I decided not to give up singing in a choir I loved, and took the kids with me. I made sure to meet up with friends and go and do something fun from time to time. I meditated and joined a gym and actually went regularly.

My husband made it home safe and sound. The year was very challenging emotionally for the entire family, and there were days when I felt nothing but exhaustion and worry. But I kept up with my music and tried to see my friends whenever I could. That self-care fueled me enough to be a happier person and a more loving, and empowered, mother.



Erin Rabitcheff, of Pixiegrowsup.com, is a singer-songwriter, blogger and mother living in New York. The song she wrote with her kids, “September 1st,” recently received runner-up status in the Song of the Year Song and Lyric Writing Competition. It is available on iTunes, Amazon and CDBaby.

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Memorial Day Savings

Written on May 23, 2014 at 2:30 pm , by

Kick off summer with awesome shopping steals!

• Up to 20% off at Macy’s

• Extra 15% off at JCPenney

• 40% off regular-price items at Gap
*Code: EVENT

• 40% off at Banana Republic

• 20% off select styles at Aldo

• Extra 30% off sale pieces at J.Crew

• Extra 20% off clearance items at Lord & Taylor

• Up to 70% off select styles at H&M

• Up to 60% off select products at Pottery Barn

• 10% off $100 at West Elm

Parent Shaming: Should We Criticize Will and Jada Smith for Their Parenting Skills?

Written on May 23, 2014 at 1:16 pm , by


Here we go with the latest episode of Celebrity Family Antics…

Over the past few years, the unconventional parenting choices of Hollywood power couple Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith have been under a microscope: their decision to let their children Jaden and Willow “self-govern,” allowing a then 12-year-old Willow to shave her head, permitting Jaden to unleash his views about the “evils” of education on Twitter, and their general belief in a no-punishment-zone for their teens.

However, when their latest drama, an Instagram photograph featuring 13-year-old Willow languishing on a bed with shirtless 20-year-old actor and family friend Moises Arias blew up on social media, the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services took notice. They have launched an investigation on the Smith family.

Have you seen the photograph? I like to think of myself as a very open-minded person, and an open-minded parent. I lean toward a live-and-let-live philosophy, and it takes quite a bit to ruffle my feathers about other people’s choice. But I have to admit, that image did indeed ruffle them; it just didn’t look right, no matter which way I flipped it. I am not a prude, nor do I think I have a particularly dirty mind, but I tried to envision a scenario in which I would feel comfortable seeing my 14-year-old on a bed, draped at the feet of a half-naked young man, even a good friend of the family’s, and I really couldn’t.

Apparently, the couple has no issue with the photo; Pinkett-Smith has lashed out, saying that the image is not sexual in nature, and she has accused the media of acting like a bunch of pedophiles. I can’t image the authorities removing those kids from the house, but a thorough investigation is happening. I’m not sure if the situation merits such close attention. Although I am not  fully comfortable with what I saw, there is chance that a photo is a photo. Willow just hanging out with a family friend. I queried my kids for a reality check. My 21-year-old son, who tends to be the more conservative of the two, did not like what he saw, and even my 14-year-old, who didn’t immediately think it was wrong, understood how it would upset people.

I think all the uproar has, in part, to do with the fact that for so long the Smiths were seen as a golden couple who could do no wrong. Glimpses of their kids acting out a bit in the past few years have made them more human, and put a little chink in their dazzling armor. Who wants that kind of scrutiny?

Parenting is the great equalizer: You will be judged whether you live in a trailer or a mansion. I would never pretend to tell others how to raise their children, because I certainly don’t want to be told how to raise mine. As parents we all make choices that are seen, at one time or another, as unsatisfactory to other parents. For the record, I am not “parent-shaming” the Smiths, but I am scratching my head and having a bit of a what-the-heck moment with this latest conflama.

What are your feelings about it? Do you even care? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Living Without Regrets

Written on May 23, 2014 at 10:12 am , by

By Sandra Bornstein, author of May This Be the Best Year of Your Life

Sandra Bornstein in India

In the wake of the 1960s feminist revolution, I made an unusual choice for a college-educated woman in her mid-20s: I waived the opportunity to embark on a career track and decided to be a stay-at-home mother in the northern suburbs of Chicago. When I chose this path, I never anticipated that it was the first step toward moving to India to become a teacher.

While I respected the feminists at the time who encouraged women to pursue their careers, I did not feel that this option was the right fit for me. Fortunately, a second income was not an economic necessity. I devoted all my energies to our growing family. I embraced motherhood and ignored the criticism that was directed toward college-educated stay-at-home mothers. I had been raised by a revolving door of maids and did not want to repeat that undesirable pattern with my kids.

During my early years of motherhood, I was content with my choice, although I knew other stay-at-home mothers who did not share my positive feelings. (Likewise, I observed some career-driven peers who struggled to maintain a balanced lifestyle while others coped well and thrived.)

But something changed in my late 30s, after my father unexpectedly passed away. Losing a parent can have a profound effect on one’s perspective. I suddenly felt the need to pursue a master’s degree that I’d been unable to afford in my early 20s. I wanted to delve deeper into my heritage by studying Jewish history and culture. I chose a flexible program at Spertus Institute in Chicago that allowed me to attend classes at my own pace. My time-management skills were honed as I balanced the obligations of graduate school with the responsibilities of running a household with young children. I treaded carefully as I ventured into unfamiliar territory.

After graduating and relocating to Colorado, I reentered the workforce as a part-time teacher at a private Jewish high school in Denver but was soon back in school, this time to pursue a second master’s degree at the University of Colorado-Boulder, where I studied instruction and curriculum with an emphasis on multicultural education and second-language learners. This time around, I was part of a cohort that was required to graduate within two years.

Pursuing back-to-back graduate degrees while simultaneously raising a family forced me to evaluate my priorities. There were only so many hours in a day to complete required tasks. Getting a sufficient amount of sleep was at the top of the list. If there was a conflict between a class obligation and a family responsibility, my children and husband always came first. This decision sometimes created tension with my professors. If I hadn’t asked for accommodations, my family’s well-being would have been disrupted.

After graduating, I chose flexible teaching opportunities in the private and public sectors. I always aimed for a balance between work and home. Even though I was approaching empty-nester status, I wanted to maximize my time with my youngest children. I knew that my two youngest sons’ high school years would zoom by like the fastest train in the world, the Shanghai Maglev.

Right after my youngest child entered college, my husband was offered an unusual legal position that required him to split his time between India and the West. As a middle-aged woman, I had to decide whether I would remain in Colorado or relocate. I chose to become an expat. After interviewing at a handful of private schools, I accepted a teaching position at a highly respected international boarding school in Bangalore, India. Even though it was a dream job for a multicultural educator, I had many reservations and concerns:

Was I ready to step out of my safe and secure suburban existence and travel halfway around the world?

After 30 years of putting motherhood first, was I equipped to handle such an unusual adventure?

How would I cope with culture shock and being occasionally separated from my husband and sons?

And what would happen to my career after I returned to the USA?

I usually feel intense waves of anxiety while making life-altering decisions. But most of the time, I refuse to let go of my proposed plan. I take control of my emotions and discard elements of inflexibility. I simultaneously accept the idea to hop outside of my comfort zone and follow through with my journey.

Nothing could have adequately prepared me for what I encountered when I stepped off the plane in India. My new environment was filled with unfamiliar sights, sounds, smells and tastes that bombarded my senses. My Bangalore apartment was the antithesis of my suburban home. I never would have dreamed that a wild monkey would be hopping on my kitchen table or that a family of monkeys would visit my classroom on a regular basis. Each day, I faced an assortment of unpredictable events that I was forced to address.

But I never regretted going to India, because, whenever possible, I have followed my dreams to seek out enriching experiences.


Sandra BornsteinSandra Bornstein is the author of the award-winning book May This Be the Best Year of Your Life. Sandra’s memoir highlights her living and teaching adventure in Bangalore, India.  Sandra currently writes a blog that focuses on life as an empty nester, book reviews, author interviews and travel. For more information visit www.sandrabornstein.com.

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One of these days, Alice—pow! Straight to the moon!

Written on May 22, 2014 at 4:17 pm , by

“One of these days, Alice—pow! Straight to the moon!”

I know, I know, the Jackie Gleason line dates me, but it kept running through my head last weekend when my 13-year-old and I were lucky enough to be invited on a two-day tour of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. In a word, spectacular. We saw the launchpads and the ginormous vehicle assembly building. We witnessed an actual launch (unmanned), met and dined with astronauts (really nice guys), and peppered them with questions. (Nat’s comment afterward: “I will never forget this!”) We clambered through a model of the International Space Station, saw the Atlantis shuttle with its charred, atmosphere-reentry scars, and experienced the face-stretching g-force of the orbiter rocketing into space. We saw an amazing iMax movie about the last-ditch attempt to repair the Hubble telescope, with actual footage of space walks, and the impossibly awesome photos it captured of distant galaxies, mist-shrouded nebulae and dying stars. At times it was so moving I cried.

Plus we took an airboat ride along the St. John River with an outfit called Midway and saw gators up close! 

If you can get down to Orlando, don’t just head for Disney World and Universal Studios (though Nat was disappointed we didn’t have time to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter). Take a detour to Florida’s Space Coast and give your teen the best STEM lesson ever. My girl now wants to be an astronaut. One of these days, Nat…

A Grassroots Effort to Bring Computer Science to Your Teen’s School

Written on May 22, 2014 at 11:18 am , by

Family Circle editor Jonna Gallo and I were on a whirlwind tour of the Microsoft campus. As it happened, there was also a field trip under way: Busloads of high school students who had learned programming through Microsoft’s TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools) program, were enjoying a full day of activities.

The TEALS program, which puts Microsoft computer scientists and engineers in high schools across the U.S. to teach computer science, started with just a few volunteers. It’s been growing rapidly, nearly doubling in size this school year, offering classes in 70 schools in 12 states to more than 3,000 students.

“Do you want to look in on the YouthSpark app-building competition?” Lindsey, our handler, asked. “Sure!” Jonna and I agreed. I imagined we’d be lurking in the back of a computer lab while students worked quietly and teachers helped. What we walked in on was more like a rock festival.

The room was vast and crammed with over 1,000 students settled into friendly clumps on the carpeted floor with phones, tablets and computers. A speaker stood in front of a projector announcing coding challenges. And the kids were having a blast. They knew what they were doing and they were in it to win, laughing, cheering and pumped up by the throbbing music.

“Do you want to talk to one of the students?” Lindsey shouted over the din. I didn’t want to be responsible for any of these kids missing a solve—and a chance to win prizes (which included Xbox One gaming consoles). But somehow I found myself chatting with Justin Austin, a senior from Kentucky. He had enrolled in a TEALS class at his high school. That class came about almost by chance, when a Microsoft engineer on a rock-climbing trip found herself chatting with a local school-board member. There was no one in the county who could teach computer programming. But these days you don’t actually have to be in the room to teach, so a Skype intro to computer science class was born. Justin loved it and wanted more. With only six other students, he signed up for an advanced class, also via Skype from Microsoft. That’s how he came to be coding his way (if these reporters would stop distracting him) into the possibility of some sweet prizes. It’s also a big part of how he got a full ride to the University of Pennsylvania to study computer science.

There may be some debate about the value of teaching computer science in kindergarten, but there’s no doubt it should be offered in high school. Yet in many school districts it’s considered an elective rather than a core subject. That means guidance counselors don’t encourage students to take it, and students who are trying to get mandatory classes under their belt don’t enroll. This has to change at a legislative level. And many states are working on it.

Meanwhile, though, at least the remote approach taken by Justin’s school gives kids access to computer science education. It’s a grassroots effort, but those can be very effective once they get traction. If you’d rather not wait for a vacationing engineer to bring computer science to your school, contact the TEALS program directly at schools@tealsk12.org.

At Last! 7 Must-See Summer Blockbusters for the Family

Written on May 21, 2014 at 2:59 pm , by

At last! After a long, dreary winter—during which it felt like at least one member of my family was sick on any given day—it’s almost Memorial Day. Traditionally, the long weekend kicks off three months of major movie releases, and this year is no exception. First up on May 23: Wolverine travels back in time to prevent an event that spells d-o-o-m for humans and mutants in X-Men: Days of Future Past. I’m sure my husband and son will be clamoring to be among the first to see it, but I’ll likely pass—just not my thing. Here’s a list of movies that are on my radar for the next few months.

5/30 Maleficent

The title character—ripped from Sleeping Beauty and played in grand fashion by Angelia Jolie—is a sinister Disney villain who curses the infant princess Aurora to die before her 16th birthday.

6/6 The Fault in Our Stars

Based on a quirky, touching, wildly popular YA novel about love between two teenagers battling cancer. I loved the book and will definitely get a sitter and do a date night with my husband for this one.


6/13 How to Train Your Dragon 2

My kids loved the first film, and I anticipate lots of “Mom-can-we-go-see-that-please” requests when the TV ads for this sequel start. The short of it: Once again, Hiccup and Toothless must work together to unite feuding factions and keep the peace.


6/27 Transformers: Age of Extinction

The fourth installment in this sci-fi series—executive produced by movie master Steven Spielberg—stars hunky Mark Wahlberg and picks up five years after the last one left off. Watch for the cinematic debut of the Dinobots. And of course, Optimus Prime is back.


7/18 Planes: Fire and Rescue

The sequel to last summer’s Planes (a spin-off from the Disney Cars franchise) finds air racer Dusty with a badly damaged engine and becoming part of a team battling a massive wildfire. He ends up learning a thing or two about being a hero.

8/8 Deepsea Challenge 3D

From Titanic talent James Cameron comes a mesmerizing journey into the deepest recesses of the ocean. A slam-dunk to get kids excited about science.


8/8 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Four brothers rise from the NYC sewers and discover their destiny as teenage ninja turtles. Teaming up with an ambitious reporter and her cameraman, they vow to save the city from Shredder’s evil plan.


What movies are on your summer must-see list? Tell me in the comments.

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