Fratello Marionettes at Clark County Library

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Has it been a year since we last saw the Fratello Marionettes perform?  This year they were back and we got to see them at the spacious Clark County Library Theater.  The only downside was that because it was an actual theater instead of a multi-purpose room like last year at Windmill Library, the lighting wasn’t the best for photos but I got a few to give the feel of our experience.  The photo above is from the lobby while we waited for the doors to open.

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The kids had a blast, the theme this year was the Carnival of the Animals (they even have a curriculum guide here).  Three stories were interwoven: the three little pigs, the tortoise and the hare, and the ugly duckling.  My kids aren’t too familiar with the stories except E knew about a version of the three little pigs that I especially appreciate as an attorney: The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith (amazon affiliate link).  The good thing about that was that she didn’t see the wolf as a scary figure (“He was just trying to borrow a cup of sugar, Mama!”).

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I can’t say enough wonderful things about the artists/performers.  They took the time after the performance to let the kids see the marionettes, moving slowly around the stage so everyone had a chance to get up close and personal with the stars of the show.  R waved to the marionettes and even shouted “luh ooh!” (love you!) a few times.  I love that children interact with puppets on a personal level, they just suspend their disbelief and go with the flow.  I’m glad my kids let me borrow their wonder at the world when we experience things together.  I had shared the info about the show online so a lot of our friends made it and they all enjoyed it as well.

If you’re not checking out the Clark County library District’s story times and shows you are missing out, the summer programming is really top notch but we love going year round.  I forget that Henderson has a separate library district so I should also add their events calendar to my radar.  We are looking forward to what the Fratello Marionettes come up with next year!

Pebble Park

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I had the kids all geared up to go to the splash pad at Town Square only to find a sign awaiting us that indicated the whole park area was closed that day.  Lunchtime was fast approaching so I did a quick search online to see where we could go instead and by happy accident discovered Pebble Park.  Despite its Henderson address it is actually a Clark County Park but we found it to be pretty well kept.  It is about parallel on the map to another park we’ve enjoyed, Paseo Vista Park.

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The only parking is on the street but it is across the street from a big movie theater anchored mall on Pebble and Eastern, just a bit south of Star Nursery.  The theater is actually where my husband and I had our first date so it was surreal to think I was just across the street 6 years later with our children.

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There are two gated in areas, one for the play structure and one for the small, but varied, splash pad.  We’ve already been back once since because it is kind of small and quiet.  There are benches by the splash pad that benefit from some shade trees which I especially like.  E called the water feature above the “basketball hoop” and I thought that she had a great point!

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Here you can see the proximity of the play structure to the splash pad.  To the left is part of a long trail that seemed well used when we visited the park on a Sunday morning.

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This picnic area is adjacent to the splash pad, in the distance is the 215 behind a sound wall.

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The downside to this park is that there are no bathrooms!  I took the kids to what I thought was a bathroom building but it turned out to be an electrical control area.  I find this circumstance a lot more in Clark County Parks (such as Harmony Park) than Henderson ones.  Speaking of Clark County Parks, the rumor is that Sunset Park is supposed to be getting a splash pad and we’re really excited about the prospect.  Hopefully they finish the renovations there soon!  The potential Henderson water park project has secured financing per recent news (hat tip to Elizabeth for the heads up) so new ways to cool off next summer abound.

Between my job (which has been going really well!), our usual daily routine, and exercising more there hasn’t been much time to spare for keeping up on twitter or the blog.  I am always here if anyone has food allergy or other questions, even when posting is scarce, I can point you to someone with the right information if I don’t know the answer.  Costco currently has Harmonics Flooring on coupon so my husband’s post about our installation process has been getting some new comments and we enjoy helping everyone out so don’t be shy!

The Smith Center – Million Dollar Quartet (Broadway Series)

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After reading the Review-Journal’s glowing review of Million Dollar Quartet last week I was really excited to see it.  This is our third show in the half season of the inaugural Broadway Series (see my posts about Mary Poppins and The Color Purple).  We only have one more before the next season!  It is an indulgence but I each time so far I’ve had a moment where it really sinks in that I’m getting to sit there and see multi-talented people sing, dance, and act their hearts out.  This time was no different, there was a great energy to the performances and, whether and act or not, everyone on stage looked like they were having a fabulous time.  I have a soft spot for the subject matter, a jam session with Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, and Jerry Lee Lewis, because my first date with my husband was to see the Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon biopic Walk the Line (amazon affiliate link).

Here’s a You Tube clip from the actual session and here’s one that features the actors from the US tour.

The concept of the show reminded me a little bit of the brilliant classic Henry Fonda film Twelve Angry Men (amazon affiliate link) where almost the whole story takes place in one room.  You can read more about the actual day on which Million Dollar Quartet it based in this fascinating Wikipedia entry.  All the actors play their own instruments so they go a level beyond impersonation and are musicians in their own right.  I don’t know a lot of songs by the men aside from Cash but they were all pretty upbeat and toe-tapping.  At the end they do an encore a little bit out of character but it is still fun and entertaining.  My husband and I both remarked that we can’t see the Elvis swagger without thinking of the part in the movie Forest Gump (amazon affiliate link) where Forest meets Elvis.  The idea is that these men are unified by their connection to the man that gave them their start so the story does some flashbacks to when they were all just starting out as well as the tension between sticking with your roots or going on to bigger things.  Unlike a typical musical, the songs weren’t furthering the story, they were more of the soundtrack, but that didn’t make it any less enjoyable.  There wasn’t an intermission which was surprising, I’m not sure what went into that decision.

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At any rate, it was a lovely date.  Before the show we did some exploring, finally getting around to making it to the fifth floor balcony where I snapped the above picture of Symphony Park (where the Smith Center is located).  I loved that even the “up” and “down” indicators on the elevator’s exterior were in the shape of the Smith Center tower.  You can see the parking in the distance, right now it bottlenecks at the exit but I hope when the parking garage is complete that will be remedied.

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I can’t get over the beauty of the building, this is another view from the balcony, looking up to the tower.  The silver was particularly bright in the 100+ degree heat we were having yesterday!

Milestone: First Library Card

I was going to wait until her fourth or fifth birthday but I just couldn’t resist and now E has her first library card!  I wanted to write down the first book she chose to check out on her card: D.W. Thinks Big (amazon affiliate link) by Marc Brown.  I think the wedding dress on the cover drew her in as well as seeing Arthur and D.W. there.  Both R and E love the Arthur books, I was a fan when I was a kid as well.  Funny how some themes are universal.

I have to mention how much I adore Whitney Library and am so glad my daughter got her card there.  When we walk in people know our names and the storytimes are top-notch.  Energetic, engaging, and authentic.  We signed up for the summer reading program as well, check it out here!

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About E’s interest in wedding dresses:   some people have a “dream wedding” but all I knew I wanted growing up was a real wedding photo so sure enough the ones hanging in our home catch her eye.  There’s a plot point in one of my all time favorite films, A Letter to Three Wives (amazon affiliate link), where a character wants her picture in a silver frame on someone’s piano and that stuck with me enough that I nixed early discussions of eloping because I really wanted that wedding photo!  Not that our frame is silver or on a piano but I think the idea was to be a part of your own home, something that appealed to lovelorn little me.  We watched a lot of classics and westerns as kids and now when I think about it they probably weren’t all kid friendly but I turned out okay…right?  I know I’m already being tangential but the other thing about classic movies is that they have a lot of smoking and E always wonders what is going on with that.  Interesting how we tune out some of these things as visual noise or period details but a child notices.

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An the subject of books, here are some of my latest reviews on VegBooks.org.  On June 20th it will be one year since my first review for the site went live.  Happy (almost) Vegbooksiversary to me!   I am so proud to be part of the review team.

Gem – this is a sweet and mostly wordless book about a toad named Gem and letting animals be in the wild.

Do Superheroes Have Teddy Bears? – another fabulous review copy find, both E and R like this one!

Nancy Clancy, Super Sleuth – Fancy Nancy slightly grown up and solving mysteries, really well written and available at our local library.

Oven Roasted Tomatillo Verde Sauce Recipe

It turns out that R can safely have tomatillos, though I haven’t tried him with tomatoes to see if anything has changed in that department yet.  I made up this sauce and it tasted great with chips as well as in an enchilada lasagna that turned out really well!  My husband remarked it tasted like “real food” – high praise in allergy-friendly cooking indeed.  Our regular camera isn’t focusing very well of late so I’m using some Instagram pictures taken with my phone to illustrate the recipe.

This page helped me get over being nervous cooking with a new ingredient: How to Roast Tomatillos with your oven broiler.  I also have some nutritional information for this one from entering it into my recipe database on MyFitnessPal.com:

Supplies

Cutting Board

Knife

Silicone Pastry Brush

Bowl

Baking Sheet or Pan

Food Processor or Blender

Ingredients

6-12 tomatillos depending on the size (this isn’t set in stone, a little more won’t hurt the flavor at all)

2 cloves of fresh minced garlic

5 tablespoons of Fire Roasted Hatch Chiles (I use the Trader Joe’s variety)

2 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro

1/3 cup of fresh Vegetable Broth (Sunflower Market has a tomato free variety, I actually also sometimes substitute homemade broth made from kitchen scraps I freeze and then boil and strain)

1/4 teaspoon of sea salt

Canola oil for brushing lightly on your baking sheet

Directions

Set your oven broiler on high.  Remove the husks from the tomatillos, rinse, then halve them horizontally so that the stem part is centered at the top.  Place them on a very lightly oiled baking sheet or pan, cut sides up, and place them in your oven for 8 minutes.  Then flip them and roast them for another 5 minutes until the skins start to darken.  At this point you can slide them all into a bowl and let them cool long enough to use your clean hands to separate the skins from the cooked flesh of the tomatillos.  Remove the stems as well, you just squish them while holding the skin.  I ended up with about 233 grams after removing the skins, etc. and that was from a hodge podge of small and medium tomatillos.  You’ll be using this in your food processor or blender along with the other ingredients to make the Verde Sauce.  Your house will also smell awesome at this point.

Combine the remaining ingredients with the tomatillo flesh in your food processor and process until combined.  Taste to see if you want to adjust spices or add any citrus if you’d like but you should be set!  Stay tuned for the enchilada lasagna recipe but this whole batch of sauce should be about 91 calories so it will lend a big flavor punch to many other recipes.  It also has a summery taste I really enjoy.

Yields about 380 grams of sauce.

Cover and store in the fridge, the flavors will meld and develop if you leave it overnight, like most sauces.  I was proud of myself for just throwing some ideas together to make the recipe, feel free to get creative yourself and find the right combination for you!

(Shared at the 6/8/12 Allergy Friendly Friday on CybelePascal.com!)

Book Review: The BugyBops: Friends for All Time

This book is a sequel to one of our favorite books, The BugaBees: Friends With Food Allergies (amazon affiliate link).  I’ve mentioned the BugaBees here on my blog, reviewed it for Veg Books, and included it in my my roundup of great food allergy books for young kids over on the SunButter blog.  So you can imagine we were really excited to hear that author Amy Recob had teamed up with 64 Colors for a new book!

The BugyBops: Friends for All Time (amazon affiliate link) is geared for not only food allergic families, but those without food allergies that act to support their food allergic friends.  I entered just about every contest I could find when the book was released during Food Allergy Awareness Week and as luck would have it I won two copies of the book, both personalized by the author.  E instantly said, upon seeing the little sketch and note in her book, that she had to write a thank you card which I thought was so sweet (Ms. Recob, if you’re reading this, I’ll get the card in the mail soon!).  Thank you to the BugaBees Blog and Avoiding Milk Blog for your giveaways of the book, E is so excited to give her extra copy to her friend K who also has multiple food allergies.

The book did not disappoint, it was just as polished and well written as the previous book in the series and I hope we get to see more of these cute little characters in the future.  

Who are the “BugyBops” you may ask?  They are the friends that help the food allergic BugaBees stay safe.  If you haven’t read the first book this book still makes sense on its own.  We see little ladybug (a BugaBee) having an epinephrine injector put in a backpack while the book let’s us know that:

These special shots of medicine they must bring everywhere.

Certain foods can make them sick, so they take extra care.

Not to eat or touch the foods that they’re allergic to,

But EpiPens can save their lives if they accidentally do.

In the wake of the FDA warning letter to the manufacturer of EpiPens over their recent ad campaign, I really liked this passage of the book because it characterizes the appropriate use of EpiPens while still emphasizing avoidance as a first line defense.

Other things the BugyBops do for their friends to keep them safe in the book include washing their hands, choosing safe foods, not teasing, and calling for a grown-up if there’s an emergency.  I like that the idea of giving kids phrases like “Our friend is sick, we need some help, find a grown-up right away!” to make their own was continued from the BugaBees in to this book.  Nut free tables, wiping water fountains, an iPad, and a chair are depicted to “help stop the spread of cross-contamination.”  All the bugs seem cheerful as they do these activities which I appreciated.

We’re planning a camping trip so E was especially interested in the pages about that scenario – including details about asking ahead about safe foods and keeping unsafe foods away.  Some of the bugs are shown roasting marshmallows while others look at shooting stars.  I’ve been meaning to try a safe, vegan, marshmallow recipes Elizabeth Goldenberg of OneSpot Allergy emailed to me (the vegan varieties have soy and we don’t eat meat so gelatin is out) before we go on our trip.  Fingers crossed that one of them works!

Visiting an art gallery, treats during holidays, and just being together and having fun are also featured in the book along with 8 supplemental pages of “Activities and Talking Points” that cover signs of reactions, true/false questions, and details on how to inject an EpiPen.

I like a lot of detail about books, especially considering that most food allergy books are not available at local libraries, so I hope this review has been helpful.  Feel free to ask questions in the comments but I highly recommend both The BugyBops: Friends for All Time (amazon affiliate link) and The BugaBees: Friends With Food Allergies (amazon affiliate) for food allergic families and their friends.

Terminal 3 Fun Run, 5k, 10k to Benefit At-Risk Children in Clark County

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This is a picture of me after completing a 5k race.  Can you believe it?  I ran my first ever race at McCarran Airport on June 2nd (The Terminal 3 Fun Run, 5k, 10k to benefit at-risk children in Clark County).  I have been doing the Couch to 5k plan on and off since January but really started in earnest three weeks ago.  I couldn’t pass the opportunity to check out the new airport terminal (for international travel) with my husband so we signed up even though we know it wasn’t going to be ideal weather wise.  I loved the spirit of everyone there, I wasn’t sure if I was going to feel foolish alternating lots of walking with jogging but people encouraged each other at all levels.

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We got to see some of the inside of Terminal 3 before the race.  Shiny!  There’s a great article about the new Terminal from the Las Vegas Review-Journal that points out that the roadways would never be for pedestrian traffic after it officially opened which I thought was pretty cool as well.  One thing that surprised me about the race was that I had no idea there would be so much free food and water, the fruit was especially nice from a food allergy perspective though there were tons of bagels and they even served lettuce wraps at the end which wouldn’t be ideal if you were watching for ingredients.  I met a member of a running group I’m a part of on Facebook and she said the best thing was that there were real bathrooms for people to use before the race instead of portable ones.  I’d never considered details like that.

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Before the race they had ” free warm-up Zumba” – I loved the lively music and the jaunty hats on the instructors but it was way more activity than I would have been capable of.  I know people are really into it, though, it was my first time seeing what it involved.  Other fun things we saw: a guy dressed as a pilot (white shirt, blue hat), a barefoot man running while wearing a kilt, and people running the 10k with inflatable airplanes on their heads.  All shapes, sizes, ages, abilities were out there and the volunteers cheered everyone on and gave water out at three points on the 5k course which was much appreciated because of the heat.

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This is the map of each mile on the course, there was a lot of uphill, more than I am used to in my training around our neighborhood.  I should have nixed my Couch to 5k requirements and just walked up the hills because I managed to always hit an uphill when it was time for a run in the cycle I was on (90 seconds walk, 90 seconds run, 3 minutes walk, 3 minutes run, repeat).  I felt much better after the 20 minute mark when I could ditch the plan and do my own thing.  My husband ran ahead at the end, I loved seeing him booking it towards the finish line.  I also loved that we did this together.

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I liked the little welcome sign here, the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign is a fun theme I never get tired of.  Thank you to all the volunteers and employees that put on a great event.  I know I have nothing to compare it to (yet) but we were glad to be a part of it!

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This is actually a shot from the start line (also the finish line), I liked the lens flare over the parking garage.  They weren’t going to let people leave from the garage until the last runner finished the course so we parked over at the administration building (it involved a bit more walking but we wanted to get home to Grandma and the kids) but as we walked back we saw the roads were open again so we needn’t have worried.

The finish read 46 minutes exactly as I finished but I wonder what my chip time will be because my phone tracker said I came under 45 minutes (my goal time) which would make sense considering we were so far back from the start.  I know it isn’t the best time ever but I did it and it was a great new experience!  I have never been active or fit and I feel like this is my year to get there and stay there, if not for me then for my little family.

(Edited to add…here’s my official time!  43:53!)