Best Aquariums in the U.S.

Long time no speak! I’ve had a crazy few months – girls in school, girls home schooled, one girl in, one girl out. I think the public school system wants to kill me. For now, both girls are in school and both are happy, so I’m happy. PHEW. The only thing now, is that I really miss them! I miss planning field trips and hanging out with other homeschool moms (and a few dads) and their kids who we’ve become so close with. So I’ve made a point of staying involved in the homeschool community and of still taking the girls on mini fieldtrips on Sundays and after school.

Last year we were all into zoos, and this year it seems like aquariums have stepped up to bat.

(Thank you Forbestraveler.com for the list!)

Enjoy these and have a whale of a time! (Katie just saw that and rolled her eyes.)
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Public Menorah lightings

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all! On Sunday night (the first night of Hanukkah) I went to the public lighting of the world’s largest menorah. It was a 32 foot, 4000 pound steel candelabra with gas lamps in a windproof casing. It was designed by Israeli artist Yaakov Agam, inspired by the original menorah that was in the Holy Temple of Jerusalem almost 2000 years ago. Mayor Bloomberg lit the wicks, symbolizing the first of eight nights of the Jewish festival of lights. There was quite a crowd there on the corner of 59th St. and 5th Ave., right near Central Park. This menorah, and about 700 more located all over the world are organized by the Chabad organization and this year have the added significance of standing strong in honor of those who were killed in the recent Mumbai terrorist attacks.

Another popular New York City public lighting took place on Sunday night at Washington Square Park.

The other “world’s largest menorah” is lighting up Washington, D.C. It’s located on the Ellipse, just across from the White House.

Other large scale lightings are taking place all week long in Santa Monica, San Francisco, Honolulu, and Chicago, as well as in 732 more cities in 47 countries worldwide.

Check out this youtube video

from the Chabad of Malibu about their candle lighting initiative. And if you’re curious as to HOW to attend a public lighting, ehow’s got you covered.

Happy holidays!
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Buckhead, Atlanta

I just read an article in the New York Times travel section (albeit a year old) about Buckhead, which is just north of Atlanta’s central downtown area—or we say “uptown” since it tends to be classier, more upscale, and a lot more expensive. According to the NYTimes article, it’s “one the of the nation’s wealthiest communities…the Beverly Hills of the South.” Now I don’t know if I’d go THAT far, but it certainly is a very nice area, with beautiful malls, great restaurants and bars (yes, I’ve created for myself a bit of a social life), museums, and stunning houses and hotels.

Here are some places in the Buckhead area that are worth checking out:

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California Outlet Malls

I’m not going to lie: I like wearing name brands. I work in an office where what you wear somewhat defines who you are, and pathetic as that sounds, if you don’t play the game, you won’t get the gain. When you’re wearing something nice, you act differently, more professional and more secure—and those things often lead to success. That’s not to say that I go to Rodeo Drive to get my suits; on the contrary, part of being a good dresser means being a good shopper, and I definitely know where to find the deals. And California, I think more than most states, is filled with fantastic outlet malls. Here’s a list, organized from North to South:

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A kid’s Brooklyn

I’m a teacher and a dad-to-be (!) so I’ve pretty much always got kids on the mind. I just put together a list of activities in Brooklyn that kids will enjoy for part of my “Explore New York” initiative.

These are great spots for field trips, family outings, and birthday parties. Let me know how it goes!
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Thanksgiving in Virginia

The other great colonial communities (other than the one in Plymouth, that is), was in Virginia. Jamestown and Yorktown were two of the first settlements in the New Country, established as early as 1607. For an authentic Thanksgiving experience, head out to these famous landmarks in Virginia. (Quiz your kids—they should definitely be able to talk about these!)

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Wine spas in the U.S. (mainly California)

Now there’s a concept. I only recently became introduced to the concept of the “wine spa” recently when I treated my girlfriend (who is now an ex-girlfriend, but I promise it was not spa related) to a weekend up in Wine Country that included some spa going. We discovered that it’s quite a trend to include wine and grapes in spa treatments. Apparently it’s a tradition from Bordeaux, France that made its way over to the U.S., and particularly to Northern California. Most of these spas (following) are located in vineyards or are at least nearby. I’ll list the spa and then one or two treatments offered on their spa menu that includes grapes or wine.

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