Archives for April 8, 2015

The Longest Ride, A Romantic Drama With a Heart-warming Message


Based on the best-selling novel by Nicholas Sparks, The Longest Ride intertwines the love stories of two couples, decades apart, in this romantic drama. Starring Scott Eastwood, Britt Robertson and the imitable Alan Alda as the curmudgeonly old man, you’re almost certain to shed a tear or two. KIDS FIRST! Critic Keefer B. comments, “There are many morals in this movie. The one that stands out to me is, “Focus on the things you have, rather than the things you don’t.” Gerry O. adds, “This new romantic drama is a fantastic mix of adventure and romance. Although it is a romantic film at heart, there are many other aspects that will make everyone find something they like about it.” See their full reviews below.


The Longest Ride

By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

This new romantic drama is a fantastic mix of adventure and romance. Although it is a romantic film at heart, there are many other aspects that will make everyone find something they like about it. It has a little sparkle of comedy, which makes it entertaining and great story line. There is a true feeling of thrill with a core of adventure and heart-warming discoveries.


The film is about a famous bull rider named Luke Collins who, after one year of recovering from an accident, is back on the bull again trying to make a comeback.  At his first match, he has to climb the fence to escape a bull and accidentally throws his hat to a girl named Sofia. They end bumping into each other later and start dating. On the way home from the first date, they rescue a elderly man named Ira from a car on fire. And that’s what starts the beautiful double plot story that comes to an unbelievable culmination at the end of the movie.

This film is breathtaking. Produced by the same people that gave the world The Fault In Our Stars, they created something unique by running the two stories in parallel. The director also makes it so each story has vivid colors so you concentrate on specific points and makes you feel like it is a certain time or age which I think is a wonderful idea. The acting is phenomenal and in both stories they fill in each other’s gaps making it very entertaining. Speaking of entertaining, even though it is called a romantic drama, I think it is just a heart-warming story that has potential to become a classic.


My favorite scene is when Sofia and Luke meet. You think it is very coincidental which kind of makes it funny. However it’s well done and shows how they were meant to be together. I also like it because Sofia, an urban girl who always puts school first, hooks up with Luke, a cowboy (yes, a true cowboy) who lives on a farm and rides bulls. It is completely unexpected. However, when they meet, you see how it can become true.

This film is very mature and has quite a bit of sexuality displayed so, I recommend it for ages 14 to 18 and give it 5 out of 5 stars.


The Longest Ride

By Keefer C. B., KIDS FIRST! Critic, age 14



This heartfelt film takes two love stories and combines them into one. Luke (Scott Eastwood) and Sophia (Britt Robertson) are two people with different goals that stay connected after saving an old man, Ira (Alan Alda), from a car accident. Sophia visits Ira in the hospital and reads letters that reveal the history of love and challenge between him and his wife Ruth (Oona Chaplin).


The most investing and romantic tale is Ruth and Ira’s which starts in the 1940s. Their story is the highlight of the film. However, the film’s greatest aspect is it’s downfall. As I listen to Ruth and Ira’s tale, I’m captivated by their story and feel wrenched away from the lovers as I am brought back to Luke and Sophia touching story line. I understand the concept is used to connect the two similar love stories, that eventually intertwine. But, the film’s main focus is towards Luke and Sophia and I feel the real story is about Ruth and Ira.


Both stories have huge potential for being their own film. At times, it feels as if the film makers force these two stories together to make them work as a whole. I know this script is based on a popular book, by the same name, written by Nicholas Sparks. I also know that a book and a movie are two different things and are perceived in two different ways.

Every actor in this film puts on believable performances. The heart and tender romance between each couple is honest and loving.  I love a good romantic film and the couples in this movie are a lovely addition to the world of cinema.

My favorite scene is when Ira is given a simple portrait of his wife’s face. Ira and Ruth spent their life together collecting irreplaceable works of art, but this painting reminds him that the true work of art is the life they made together. This is one of the rare times that a film made me cry.


My favorite character is Ira (Alan Alda and Jack Huston). Both Jack and Alan’s  performances are outstanding. Jack, who plays the young version of Ira, shows the supportive loving husband. Alan, who plays the older Ira, starts out as a bitter old man but, as he shares his story with Sophia, he becomes more open. Both performances make for one great character.


There are many morals in this movie. The one that stands out to me is, “Focus on the things you have, rather than the things you don’t.” Ruth and Ira try everything to have children, but can’t. They’re distraught, but remember they have each other and that’s enough.

I give this 4 out of 5 stars and recommend this to 14 through 18-year-olds. There are sensual scenes and partial nudity in the film that are inappropriate for younger kids, but it’s a memorable film for couples ages teen through adult. There’s plenty of love and passion to makes this a another great romance film. This can be seen in theaters April 10th.


Credit: KIDS FIRST! Coming Attractions.






PBS KIDS and Lazoo announce new art app


PBS KIDS and app-maker Lazoo have teamed up to release Lazoo Art Box, an app dedicated to fostering creativity in children!

Lazoo Art Box draws from Lazoo’s previous hit “living coloring book” apps, where user art comes alive in animated scenes. Art Box includes more pages (26 in all!) and all-new features, including more drawing tools and an expanded set of stickers. Art Box is based on Lazoo’s “Hands On! Mind On!” curriculum, developed in conjunction with top educational experts, and designed to:

  • Build divergent thinking skills
  • Foster problem solving skills including implementing, evaluating, and communicating
  • Encourage a resilient approach to play and creative problem solving
  • Support appropriate risk-taking in play and thinking that inspires creativity
  • Encourage an interest in, and openness to, emotion in both play and thinking

The possibilities are endless and kids of all ages will enjoy Lazoo Art Box, discovering new possibilities with every dot, dash, or squiggle.

We received a code to check this one out and I love that it is not only fun but educational for younger children. This one is great for ages 3-6! Children will like that it has so much they can do.

Avail on iTunes for $1.99.

Self Disclosure: I received a free download code to facilitate this post. No other compensation was received.

Be a Butterfly Hero. Submit a Photo and Help Save the Monarch Butterfly NWF’s New Butterfly Hero Campaign Inspires Kids and Families to Save the Iconic Monarch Butterfly


Be a Butterfly Hero. The majestic monarch butterfly is in decline and needs our help. National Wildlife Federation (NWF), America’s largest wildlife conservation and education organization, is giving away 50,000 Butterfly Heroes Garden kits to help save the monarch butterfly.

NWF’s new Butterfly Hero Campaign, launches March 4, 2015, and asks people to submit a photo of themselves making the international sign language sign of the butterfly on NWF’s Butterfly Heroes website, at: By taking the pledge, participants will be mailed a free kit (while supplies last) and if entered by May 15, are eligible for a chance to win a trip for four to Walt Disney World. Botanical Interests is supporting the campaign with a donation of native milkweed seeds.

“We can each be a part of saving the monarch butterfly. The simple act of planting milkweed with your family provides monarchs with a place to lay their eggs, and helps ensure this iconic species has a future,” said David Mizejewski, naturalist with the National Wildlife Federation.

Pollinators, of which the monarch butterfly is a part of, are mostly responsible for all the food that we eat. While monarchs are found across the United States — as recently as 1996 numbering some 1 billion — their numbers have declined by approximately 90 percent in recent years, a result of numerous threats, particularly loss of habitat due to agricultural practices, development and cropland conversion. Degradation of wintering habitat in Mexico and California has also had a negative impact on the species.

Monarch butterflies spend winter in Mexico or Central and Southern California, and then migrate north in spring into neighborhoods across the United States. They need places to rest their wings, drink flower nectar, and lay their eggs on milkweed which their baby caterpillars eat. Monarchs are losing this habitat, and without it the Monarch cannot survive. NWF is asking that people across the United States to plant milkweed to preserve the monarch’s habitat. Learn more about NWF’s monarch protection efforts and

NWF’s Garden for Wildlife program encourages responsible gardening that helps pollinators and other wildlife thrive. It encourages planting with native species like milkweed and discouraging chemical pesticide use. With nearly 200,000 locations and growing, NWF’s Certified Wildlife Habitats and Community wildlife Habitats recognize individuals, schools, groups and whole communities committed to providing habitat for wildlife, including pollinators. Each of the nearly 200,000 certified locations provides food, water, cover and places to raise young. This makes yards, schools, businesses, faith-based organizations, campuses, parks, farms and other community-based landscapes into wildlife sanctuaries.

The brand new Butterfly Heroes Campaign is organized by NWF and is a part of a number of programs designed to inspire people to get outdoors, help wildlife, and become more aware of the nature in their neighborhood and community. NWF has worked to connect people with nature for decades, inspiring people through Ranger Rickmagazine, working with educators to get kids greening their schools and learning outdoors.

For more National Wildlife Federation news, visit:

Credit: National Wildlife Federation is America’s largest conservation organization, inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future. No compensation was received to post.

H & M, VICTORIA’S SECRET, ZARA HEADED TO REDEVELOPED DEL AMO FASHION CENTER nnovative Restaurants Frida and Great Maple Also Set to Arrive

Head-turning fashion retailers such as H & M, Zara, and Victoria’s Secret will be a big part of the explosive new retail lineup at Del Amo Fashion Center. It’s all part of the ongoing transformation of South Bay’s premier retail destination, which is slated for a grand re-opening this October, when Nordstrom makes its debut at the center.

Foodies won’t be disappointed either as Del Amo Fashion Center is sweetening its dining scene with Great Maple, FRIDA and a relocated Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que.


“With so many new options to dine, shop and socialize, we’re confident that Del Amo Fashion Center will be top-of-mind for a retail experience like no other,” said Lindsay Hermance, director of marketing and business development at Del Amo Fashion Center. “We can’t wait to share additional exciting announcements for more fashion and dining experiences in the upcoming months.”

Originally hailing from San Diego, Great Maple offers seasonal produce, responsible seafood, farm fresh American meat and delectable pies. The farm-to-table sit-down eatery is the epitome of American dining with European flair in a rustic wood interior room designed for libation and conversation. The 6,000 square-foot restaurant will be located next to Nordstrom.

“We’re excited about this opportunity because we think what Simon is doing at Del Amo is going to be first-rate and fits perfectly with our customer,” said Mark David, Founder and Owner of Great Maple.

In addition, Beverly Hills-born FRIDA will offer another tasty option for South Bay shoppers. Specializing in authentic Mexican cuisine in a relaxed yet sophisticated setting, FRIDA serves everything from marinated Arrachera Norteña steaks to slow cooked taco plates, and world-famous mole to its signature “Diablo Margaritas.” Founded by Vicente Del Rio, FRIDA’s South Bay location will occupy a 6,000 square-foot space near Nordstrom.


Already a favorite for the center, Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que, which serves plates like Pop’s Beloved Fresh Pan Blackened Catfish, Southern Fried Okra and certified Angus Beef Brisket, will be relocating from outside the center to a 8,899 square-foot space inside the mall, between Macy’s and Nordstrom.


All three new dining options will be attached to the Hawthorne side of Del Amo Fashion Center, with additional restaurants to be announced in the coming months.


Joining Del Amo Fashion Center’s state-of-the-art two-level mall will be a two-level, 25,000 square-foot Zara, an international fashion company; a two-level, 25,000 square-foot H & M, a leading fashion retailer offering quality at the best price; and a 15,000 square-foot flagship Victoria’s Secret, specialty retailer of apparel, lingerie, bras, panties, sleepwear and hosiery, which is slated to be twice the size of the retailer’s typical space.


Other retailers slated to be part of the new Del Amo Fashion Center include:


  • American Eagle
  • Cache
  • Cotton On and Cotton On Kids
  • Express
  • Flip Flop Shops
  • Gold Elements
  • Kiehl’s Since 1851
  • Lane Bryant
  • Lette Macarons
  • Steve Madden


The grand opening of phase two of the renovation, which is expected to accompany the Nordstrom opening in October 2015, includes the construction of a nearly 2,000-car parking structure along Fashion Way, between the Marriott Hotel and Del Amo’s newer Outdoor Village.

Retailers that have already opened their doors at Del Amo Fashion Center include:

  • Aeropostale (only full-line store in the South Bay)
  • Billabong (exclusive to the South Bay)
  • Hollister (exclusive to the South Bay)
  • Oakley (exclusive to the South Bay)
  • Quiksilver-Roxy-DC (exclusive to the South Bay)
  • Skechers (Flagship location)
  • The Finish Line featuring Nike Track Club (exclusive to the South Bay)


Several more announcements are forthcoming as the grand reopening of Del Amo Fashion Center  approaches this Fall.

For ongoing updates and to learn more about the transformation of South Bay’s retail destination, follow Del Amo Fashion Center on Facebook at, Twitter at or Instagram at Check out a 3D architect rendering animation at for a bird’s eye perspective on the future Del Amo Fashion Center once this transformational, property wide renovation is complete.

Credit:  Del Amo Fashion Center, Simon and J.P. Morgan Asset Management – Global Real Assets.


Five Reasons to Celebrate National Siblings Day on April 10 Leading sibling expert Dr. Jonathan Caspi, professor at Montclair State University, shares the latest insights and research on sibling relationships

Image_three siblings hugging

Friday, April 10 is National Siblings Day, a day for the 80 to 90 percent of Americans who have siblings to celebrate their brothers and sisters. Celebrating Siblings Day can be as easy as sending a card, sharing a meal or doing a favor for a sibling.

“There is no relationship like the ones we have with our siblings,” said Montclair State University Family and Child Studies professor, Dr. Jonathan Caspi. A leading expert on sibling relationship dynamics, Caspi is the author of Sibling Aggression Treatment and Sibling Development: Implications for Mental Health Practitioners. He has identified five reasons to celebrate Siblings Day:

  1. Siblings may have a greater influence on who we are or who we become than our parents and peers do, according to a growing body of research. Sibling relationships are intense relationships involving support, love, competition and conflict. Like it or not, so much of the way we handle relationships, closeness, competition, give support, argue, resolve conflicts and play we learned from our interactions with our siblings.
  2. Recent research is showing how important sibling support is for bolstering resilience and coping with difficult life experiences.
  3. Sibling relationships are the longest-lasting relationships most people have – and more people have siblings than they have children or spouses.
  4. Only with a sibling can you authentically commiserate about mom and dad and the crazy things families do!
  5. Siblings are who we confide in. They know our deepest secrets and share in family experiences – both the good and the bad. Witnesses to our most embarrassing and proud moments, they are the keepers of shared memories and personal histories.

Created by Claudia Evart, the Siblings Day Foundation established a National Siblings Day, celebrated on April 10, the birthday of Evart’s late sister, Lisette. Since 1998, 85 governors – including former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman – have signed Siblings Day proclamations in 49 states.

For the roughly 20 per cent of Americans who are only children or “singletons,” there is National Only Child Day, which is celebrated onApril 12.

“The advantage of being a singleton is that there is no competition for parental resources,” said Caspi. “This is often an explanation for reported high achievement of only children, who tend to be high achievers like first-borns.”

The downside? “The lack of sibling support, which is so important in resilience and coping.”


Building on a distinguished 106-year history, Montclair State University is proud to be a leading institution of higher education in New Jersey. The University’s six colleges and schools serve over 20,000 undergraduate and graduate students in more than 300 doctoral, master’s and baccalaureate level programs. Situated on a beautiful, 250-acre suburban campus just 14 miles from New York City, Montclair State delivers the instructional and research resources of a large public university in a supportive, sophisticated and diverse academic environment.